Pvt. George Tannehill Jones Anderson*, Co. I, 4th Alabama Infantry, From Huntsville to Manassas

31 01 2023



April 29. – Left home with a company of volunteers, bid farewell to home, parents and friends, and departed on a twelve months tour, for the defence of my country; hated to leave most awfully, but our country being in danger and on one to defend her did not suit us.

April 30. – Arrived at Chattanooga before daylight, and had to lay over eight hours; never was so bored by a place in my life; was very glad to leave it at two o’clock for Dalton, Georgia; we were boxed up in freight cars to travel over a long railway, through a poor pine country; arrived in Dalton before night, and found other companies there; laid over two days and a half, during which time we organized a regiment, and elected E. J. Jones, of Huntsville, Colonel, and E. M. Law, Lieutenant Colonel; we received our arms at Dalton, smooth bored muskets, at which the boys grunted.

May 3. – Left Dalton for Lynchburg, Virginia, in old box cars, forty-one in a car; travelled over some rich, some poor and some beautiful county; crossed two large rivers; the Tennessee is the most beautiful river at this point that I ever say, and afforded the most beautiful views from the bridge that our country furnishes, About sunset we stopped and packed a quantity of hay from a rick near by to sleep on. Slept all night in the cars, such sleeping as it was.

May 4. – Woke up in Jonesborough, Tennessee, about sunrise; saw lots of beautiful women; received a bouquet from a very nice girl, with a soul stirring inscription fastened to it. Left there for Bristol, in the land of Virginia; arrived about ten o’clock, and was delayed until four; left with and advance guard of our company and several other companies for Lynchburg; slept all night in the rail car.

Sunday, May 5. – Woke up in the early morning eight miles from Lynchburg; took breakfast at Liberty, where, as usual, the ladies turned out to do us honor; reached Lynchburg about ten, and were marched out to our camp, two miles from the depot and on a hill, with two springs at the foot of it. It rained all night, and I and to stand guard from eleven to one.

May 6. – It rained all day; had to stand guard again at night, but missed standing on picket guard for some time by it.

May 7. – Wrote home for the seventh or eighth time, and was mustered into the service of the Confederate states; felt homesick, because I could not hear from home;

May 8. – Drilled half the day.

May 9. – Was excused from drill on account of a felon[1] on my thumb; sent two letters home by Mr. Murphy, of Huntsville.

May 10. – Excused from drill; was glad to see Uncle Washington[2], who is now our Quartermaster; got leave to go to town to-morrow with a pass; intend to look around and see the place; wrote part of a letter to a young friend at home; have never heard from home yet; getting very anxious to hear from home; answered a tattoo; went to bed after; and slept soundly until midnight, when we were aroused by an order to march for Harper’s Ferry at five o’clock, and have to cook rations for two days; we have to foot it eighteen miles, in order to shun Washington; don’t like it a bit; we are all willing to go; expect a fight with the Northerners there; but few of us ever expect to get back; did not get off at five; we were delayed until ten, and probably longer; got mad as thunderation at First Lieutenant for refusing to let us have flour; we have to make our for two days on bread and meat that a dog would refuse; it seems that the whole North has turned against us; but we can whip them; if we get to Harper’s Ferry safely without an encounter with the Yankees we can whip as many of them as they can send against us; Old Abe is the greatest fool that I ever heard of; if he had good sense he would see that the South can not be coerced; we are united as one man, and can whip any lot of Yankees [on equal terms; it is useless for them to wage war on us, for we can defy the world if they invade us; I am very sleepy from being awaked at midnight, and then to be disappointed; I am getting very tired of this camp and suspense; I had rather go on and pelt it right through; we are waiting here very impatiently for orders to leave, and cannot get them; one of the companies will not go without ammunition, and I do not blame them; all of the regiments ought to do the same; we cannot get rifles, and I, for one, am not willing to fight with those old muskets; I had rather have a pair of good pistols; why on earth can’t a fellow hear from home? They seem to have forgotten that we are in the world; I have notion not to write any more until I receive a letter from home; formed a line and marched to the depot; the clouds had been lowering for some time; they now turned loose on us with a vengeance; we however got on board of the cars, or tumbled pell-mell into a lot of stock cars, crowded together like so many hogs, and travelled all night for the third night in the cars, slept on the floor and got cold as thunder; waked up half froze to death, trravelled half the day, and was delayed waiting on another train at a place called Manassas station; one regiment of Virginia troops are stationed here, one company of artillery and one of cavalry; they are got in this place to keep Lincoln’s troops from passing through the direct route to Washington; some dread that he will attempt to take this place; all the Harper’s Ferry machinery is here. I fear that we will do badly so far as eating is concerned; I dispose of the fat meat that they give us, and do not intend to eat it if I can keep from it; we fare rather badly I think, and have an old tyrant for a colonel; he is an aristocrat – dog him.

Sunday, May 12. – Pitched off for Strasburg about four; passed another miserable night in the cars; arrived Strasburg at daybreak.

May 13. – Ate a hasty breakfast, and took up the line of march for Winchester, eighteen miles distant, over a hard turnpike and beneath a pelting sun; people gave us refreshments all along the route; gave us our dinner, and a first rate one; arrived at Winchester about six, in a hard rain; marched through the town in the rain and got wringing wet; just as we got through the depot the rain stopped and we ate supper, crowded aboard the cars, our feet sore, tired, weary and sick at heart; arrived at Harper’s Ferry about two o’clock, completely exhausted, and took up our quarters in a vacated store, very dirty and a foul atmosphere; changed clothing and slept in each others arms until seven o’clock on the 14th; roused up and went out on the Potomac, took a wash and a view of the far famed river; went back to a hotel, ate a tolerable breakfast, and sallied out to see the sights; took a close look at the work done by old “Brown,” and wondered at the old fool as well as at the citizens; he, through cowardice, took a secure but out of the way position, and they, through fear, let him imprison them and hold the town in subjection; saw the bullet holes made un a house by him and his men, and one that went through the corner of a house and killed a man named Beckhammer; passed this day in writing, reading the Testament, and viewing the gun works; they are making guns in a hurry – sixty a day; took up a Yankee spy, as we supposed, but we were mistaken, for he was a good Southern man; a few of our boys went out a fishing, but came back directly, run out of breath, and reported they heard the cannon of the enemy; but they were fooled, for it was the sound of some men who were trying arms.

May 15. – Rested all day; nothing new happened except a change of quarters from a stinking hole to a very nice house; also climbed on Jefferson’s rock, and took a view of the grandest and most sublime scenery in the State; where the great statesman stood and admired it as a large shelving rock supported by pillars, and has a great many names cut in it; left the initials of my brother’s and my name with the others; slept very well all night; woke up feeling a little sick; drilled six hours, which we are to do every day; I am very anxious to hear from home; in fact we both are.

May 17. – Drilled all day, nothing new happened, no letter from home yet; I can’t see why on earth we don’t hear from home; I am sure that the letters are miscarried; very cold mornings, and days not warm by any means; hope I will get a letter to-morrow.

May 18. – The long looked for letter comes at last, and oh! how much joy it gives me; all well at home, and we feared otherwise, and all miss us at home and want to see us, but not worse than we want to see them; we are satisfied now; we moved to our encampment; this eve, on a hill overlooking the Potomac, cut pine tops for our bed, cooked our supper, cooked the beef splendidly for the first; I hope that we will remain here for some time, on account of home; we both cried over the letter, and I know that we will both cry over Pauline’s when we get it, which I hope will be soon; we are better satisfied than we have ever been since we left home.

Sunday, May 19. – What a cold day for the 19th of May; everybody is acting as if it were Monday, all firing guns, cooking, playing cards, &c.; had a dress parade; Colonel Jackson inspected us; he is a large, fat old fellow, looks very much like an old Virginia farmer; returned to camp, prepared and ate a canty dinner; had Episcopal service, and then a good old fashioned service from our paster Chadick[3]; Oh how I loved to listen to him; wrote a letter home; had another dress parade in the evening; rained all night.

May 20. – Still raining a very cold rain; have just finished cleaning up through and around our tent, and we are now waiting very impatiently for our rations, for we are undoubtedly very hungry; I will now finish the last chapter of the Acts, and begin at the Romans, and finish to-day when the day closes; did nothing to-day but look out and read the Testament; received a letter from a friend at Fort Pickens; got some straw to sleep on; slept soundly until daylight.

May 21. – Got up, made the fire and cooked some bread and ate a scanty breakfast of burnt bread and butter; afterwards read several chapters in the Testament; hope to hear from home again to-day; we are both a little homesick; received two letters from sister Pauline, and I was glad, indeed, to get them; drilled six hours under Colonel O. E. Humphreys, who won’t let us rest at all; one of our company died last night at Strasburg, which created no little sorrow in the company.

May 22. – Started to reply to the letters from sister Pauline[*]; had started on the fifth page when I was ordered to the mountain to get wood for the regiment; it is rather hard work, but we rest often enough; I will finish my letters as soon as possible; three trains of troops have just arrived (ten o’clock), but as they are on the opposite side of the river, I can’t find out where they are from; from all indications, I look for hot work soon; troops are coming in every day, and they surely are not coming here just to be coming; everything here has a martial appearance; I guess that we may look for a fight within three weeks, and if I fall, I hope that God will pardon my sins; I want to pray and be saved, but I am too much of a sinner – I fear that I never will; it is horrible to think of dying, leaving a world of sorrow and going straight to a worse – yes, a thousandfold worse. From such a fate, O God, in mercy save me; do, O Lord, deliver me from sin and temptation; I know that I am unworthy, but thou, O God, art merciful. This is real hard work; we have to pitch the wood as far as we can down the mountain, and then climb down to it and pitch it again, and continue thus to the foot of the mountain, where it is loaded into a wagon and hauled to the camp; the streets here stink worse than carrion; I can smell it across the river when the breeze comes from the direction of the town; I have just finished a hearty dinner of cold beef and light bread (the latter several days old0, and I will now take to my Testament until we have to go to work again; finished the day’s work and returned to camp; wrote away on a letter until night; slept soundly all night; woke up at daybreak.

May 23. – Feeling bad and unwell. Stephen[*] is out on picket guard for twenty-four hours; very warm day in the sun, but cool in the shade, and very cool nights; Virginia votes on the ordinance of secession to-day; I expect to hear of great excitement and a good many mobs in the State to-day; received a letter from home to-day, and felt a good deal better on account of it; I wrote at every interval until one o’clock, 24th; slept very well at night, considering I was alone and had a bad cold.

May 24. – Warm but pleasant; drilled four hours until two o’clock; Stephen got in about nine, and he is now engaged in writing home; I wrote three sheets myself; will send it in a short time; drilled all day; heard bad news from the war outside of us; if the reports are true, we are completely surrounded; awoke up at daylight feeling anything but comfortable on account of eating too much supper last night, and partly on account of the bad news; looks very much like rain this morning.

May 25. – Rained very hard for an hour or so; had a general holiday, and took a bath in the Potomac. We are now quartered in the same tent with the Quartermaster of this regiment; very well fixed, but nearly out of money.

Sunday, May 26. – A weary day; drilled two hours and a half; heard a splendid sermon from the text: – “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,” &c., from W. D. Chadwick, who is now the chaplain of our regiment. Don’t like to drill on Sunday one bit; Stephen is sick; I fear that he will have the measles; we are expecting a fight in a short time; the North has invaded us and we will drive back the ruthless vagabonds.

May 27. – The most pleasant and beautiful morning that the sun ever rose on, or about as pleasant. It commenced raining about eight o’clock; the wind commenced blowing, and scattered the tents far and wide, causing great merriment in the company; turned cold towards twelve, and disappointed me as to a contemplated bath; rather a cold night; Stephen still complaining; slept on uncle’s cot, and slept finely until morning.

May 28. – Woke up and found the weather had moderated; gave our bed up to a lady from Huntsville; I drilled all day’ Stephen still sick and growing worse; I suppose that he has got the measles at last; I have just wrapped him up with blankets warm, for a good night’s sleep, while I wait for roll call; I am now going to prepare for old “Venable” to sleep in here; slept well all night.

May 29. – I woke up and found it raining; Stephen has fever; cold day; drilled on hour, and am now waiting for my breakfast; Stephen took the measles to-day; I moved him to a private house and stayed with him at night; ate my supper with Mrs. Jordan; I intend to eat there all the time that she stays, if possible. Two companies of Virginians ordered off this evening for a fight somewhere.

May 30. – Stephen broke out with the measles, thick as hops; wants to see home; still eating with Mrs. Jordan, and, I suppose, permanently, though D. C. Humphreys objects, on account of the measles; received two letters from home, with good enough news in them; very warm day; Uncle Wash is very kind, and everyone else is kind to us.

May 31. – Sent four letters home, per J. J. Venable; Stephen is recovering, but I fear, through imprudence, will get worse as he recovers; I drilled until twelve o’clock, and was seized with a severe pain in my right chest – strong symptoms of pneumonia. If I take that, I have no other idea but it will end my life; I was cupped for it, and rubbed my side with turpentine; I hope to be well and hearty by Monday next; this is the last day of May, 1861, and a beautiful day; we are one thousand miles from home; one of us (Stephen) laid up with measles, and as fretful as a sore-headed kitten; I am afraid of pneumonia; truly we are in an unenviable situation; we often think of home, and our hearts yearn to be with them, but our country and duty says not – the latter we will cheerfully obey. I would like to see the home folks about now; I am confident that peace will be made in a few short weeks, maybe months, and we will then return to repose our weary and careworn bodies at a loved home; I hope so, and pray God that it may be so.

June 1. – A beautiful day; the scouts brought intelligence that the enemy was near at hand, only fifteen miles off; Stephen is more pettish than a sore-headed kitten; grumbles more that a sore-headed bull; does nothing but grumble and quarrel, and curse the measles; I am a good deal better, and ready for a fight; sent Stephen off to Winchester, in anticipation of a fight; I fear that it will make him worse; it rained soon after he started, but I suppose that he was on the cars; took tea with Mr. Geo. Crowles, and had a splendid supper; slept very well, but took cold; I guess I will have to stand picket to-day.

Sunday, June 2. – Missed the parade; took a bath; heard a sermon from the xiv. Psalm, 1st and 2d verses. Very warm day; cloudy and threatening; towards night commenced raining; about dark procured a room and bed for three of us.

June 3. – All right excepting a night sweat and a wet shirt; a very pleasant morning; stood picket guard twenty-four hours, from eight o’clock Monday; rained part of the time; slept on the ground during the day and part of the night; slept about one hour in the old “Brown” house.

June 4. – Commenced raining early, and rained all day; received a letter from Jno. Edwards, and wrote one to him and one to sis; slept in a bed last night finely; waked up in the 5th with a rheumatism in my shoulders, and found it cold and raining; answered to reveille, read the last twelve chapters of Luke, and am now waiting for my breakfast; it was a very disagreeable day indeed, cold rain all day. Received a letter from Pauline, a good one, too; slept in a house near the camp.

June 6. – We waked up and found it still cold, wet and misty; drilled half of the day; turned warm; had a big dance in camp.

June 7. – Warm and cloudy; drilled up to twelve o’clock, and am at present engaged in getting dinner; was severely reprimanded by the Captain[4] for an act that I was innocent of; I was mad enough to have killed him for it; drilled regularly until night.

June 8. – Woke up with a sick headache, and was excused from drill; went in a washing; put on clean clothes and felt all right; Stephen returned to day well and hearty; was glad to see him; received orders to strike tents and be ready to march in a short time, as a fight was on hand, which was obeyed with alacrity, as every man seemed anxious for a fight and reported ready; in fifteen minutes a heavy rain came upon us, and the order was countermanded, to the great indignation of all.

Sunday June 9. – Moved one and a half miles into an old wheatfield, in a very rough, rocky place, and pitched tent; missed preaching to-day.

June 10. – Laid up with the diarrhea; very hot; I would as lief fight as not. This morning would like to hear from home; wrote a letter home.

June 11. – Very warm; drilled two and a half hours before noon; sent off extra baggage to Winchester preparatory to a march, fight or something else; drilled and sweated like thunder.

June 12. – Very pleasant morning; pleasant breeze stirring. I have to stand guard to-day and night; very well pleased; expecting a battle daily, whether here or elsewhere I know not, but we will have a fight certainly, and that shortly.

June 13. – Started to write home; was stopped by an order to strike tents; did so, and sent this off with the expectation of marching right away; had to stay in our old encampment, beneath the deep blue vault of heaven; rather cold.

June 14. – We are going to evacuate this place, and leave for Winchester, on foot; blowed up the bridges; and burned up the public property; going to leave for a place where we can get a fight.

June 15. – Finished the work of destruction, and left about ten o’clock; marched thirteen miles over a very hard and dusty road, and through a very fertile country; the best and most wheat that I ever say, and clover in abundance; camped in a wood three and a half miles from Charlestown; cooked and ate; slept on the ground, with no protection from the weather; the ladies of Charlestown treated us very well, and hurrahed for old Jeff.

Sunday, June 16. – Expected a rest to-day, but disappointed, as usual; had to march thirteen miles in quest of the enemy, through a beautiful and fertile valley; camped on each side of a small creek; not near so warm as the night before.

June 17. – We roused up before day, and got ready to march; heard of the Yankees moving South; took a counter march to intercept them in their march on Winchester; they burned Martinsburg to-day, if rumor is true; marched eight and a half miles over a hard turnpike, and camped three and a half miles from Winchester in a wood, which reminds me of a woodman’s home – very much like it; expect to fight in a few days; in fact we expected it this morning; was sure of a fight; extra cartridges were served out, all the wagons started back, and our captain made a speech to encourage us; very cool weather; came near freezing last night; cool but pleasant this morning.

June 18. – Waiting orders; may stay here two or three days; received three letters from home; responded to them; the boys caught five or six squirrels and two hares; sleep on the ground finely.

June 19. – Received a box of cake and a pistol from home, with more letters; glad to get them at any time; beautiful morning; warm day, cool night; it looks like rain this morning; we expect to move to-day nearer Winchester; glad of it; I would like to see some of the ladies of Winchester the best kind.

June 20. – Moved our camp within a mile of Winchester, and got our tents; have got them pitched and prepared for comfortable soldier living. Received another letter from home; all well. Not much idea of a fight for a while.

June 21. – Very pleasant day; feel sick; excused from drill, and taking a general rest. Wrote home and to several acquaintances. A funeral sermon is being preached in sight of the camp; one of the soldiers died yesterday – a member of the light infantry. The ladies will be out here this evening to see us. I intend to try and fix up a little. Expect to remain here until July, when we know what we have to do.

June 22. – Drilled half of the day; went to town and bought some clothing; Dined at the Taylor Hotel; very common fare. Rested in the evening. Received orders about ten o’clock to cook provisions and prepare for marching.

Sunday June 23. – Beautiful morning; rather cool. Waiting orders to march on the Yankees; did not march. Heard two sermons from the Rev. W. D. Chadick; very good ones. H. C. Worthun starts for home tomorrow; he has the consumption. I have a few letters to send by him. Don’t I wish that I could go for a few days, to eat watermellons, apples, peaches, &c.? It would be glorious! Rained in the night; turned cool.

June 24. – Cool and clear. A beautiful morning; no prospect of leaving here yet. I think we will stay one or two weeks longer. It is only ten days until Congress meets, and that decides what we will have to do. Stood guard from eight to eight.

June 25. – Went to town and took a bath; came back at twelve, and slept until late, then proceeded to write a letter to Matt, and one to Pauline. Stephen is on Guard to-day, and comes off at one o’clock to-morrow.

June 26. – Pleasant, but cloudy morning. Evening, moved our camp to one of the hottest places in the country. Took a very severe cold and violent headache; sick as a horse. It rained, as usual, about the time some of us got our tents struck.

June 27. – Wake up feeling very badly; warm and sultry. Went up to the —- camp, and found several old acquaintances; head aches awfully; still a very bad cold. Strange we don’t get any letters; there is certainly a flaw in the postal arrangements. Received a letter from Pauline. Felt sick all day; slept soundly all night.

June 28. – Wake up in the morning feeling considerably better. Went out on drill, and returned feeling worse. Felt very sick; would as soon go home with C. W. as not. Very hot day; a little breeze stirring. Moved our camp to a beautiful grove, and had a very nice encampment; hope we will stay here as long as possible, at least until we can take an active part in the war movements.

June 29. – Just two months since we left home; hope to be there before two months more; very sick with the asthma, and have a bad cough yet.

Sunday, June 30. – Nothing new.

July 1. – Very cool; rained in the morning and at night.

July 2. – Really cold; received orders to march in a hurry, for the fight was now close at hand; marched all the evening at a quick step; met some prisoners on the route – sad looking cases, 45 in number; stopped a little after dark, and slept until half-past one o’clock; was roused up and ordered to march, which was not very cheerfully obeyed, owing to sleepiness; Colonel Howlett and Doctor Patton, of Huntsville, came in the morning before we started, bringing our letters; when the order was received, Col. H. seized a gun and marched with us; Dr. P. procured a horse and was along as surgeon.

July 3. – We marched all night until daylight, and stopped to get breakfast; we are now in the woods, seven miles from Manassas, the reported headquarters of the army; large reinforcements have come up, and we expect to give them a good fight; in fact we will be sure to whip them; I think, I hope so; would like to send some letters home, if possible. I was very glad to hear from home by one who had seen the folks, and glad that they are all well. A man, one of our regiment, was shot and will die, by the careless handling of a pistol; we left, as we thought, for Manassas Junction, about twelve o’clock, Colonel H. in the ranks as a private, and marched about three miles; filed to the left and stopped behind a stone wall and rested in the wood all day; was roused up in the night, and moved about three hundred yards, to another stone wall, and slept until day, expecting a fight all the time, but the enemy seemed inclined to stay where he is, and so do we.

July 4. – The memorable day of all days for the American people; we could hear the sound of the enemy’s guns, I suppose in celebration of the day; we did not celebrate it; slept a good part of the day; would like to know how the home folks spent it; I would like to know what we are going to do; we slept about in the woods all day, and went to sleep at night expecting to be roused for a battle before morning; was aroused about three o’clock, and expected a fight right away, but never moved out of the camp; we will probably fight to-day, July 5, as old P.[5] seems anxious to fight us; lay secreted in the woods all day; nothing new, went on guard at 7 o’clock P. M.; stood four hours during the night; rained this morning, and looks as though it would rain hard before night; would like to see Old Abe’s message[6]; do not know when we will fight; can hear very little from which to draw an opinion; news came that the enemy was advancing; we were again drawn up in battle array, and waited impatiently two hours, but nary [?], Mick Davis, Clint Davis and Mr. Erskine came in from Huntsville, and took their places in our ranks as privates, also Col. Hewlett and Capt. Beard; we had ninety men ready and willing for a fight; I am beginning to believe that we will not have any, I have been fooled so often.

Sunday, July 7. – We were ordered to fall back to our old position near Winchester; some of the men thought it was a retreat, and began to grumble; the General ordered a note to be read to his command, in explanation of his conduct; we started in an awful hot day; I fell out of the ranks, went off the road some distance, and got a splendid dinner from an old lady and two young ones – splendid milk, butter, and bread, and I did ample justice to it; she upbraided us for leaving her to the mercy of the Yankees; I straggled into camp about sunset, completely exhausted, and went off to bed without supper.

July 8. – A beautiful morning; rested all day, with the exception of dress parade; wrote part of a letter home.

July 9. – Spent the morning writing and drilling; it rained in the evening, affording ample time for writing, and a great deal of it was done.

July 10. – Received a letter from home, all well; have struck our tents, and are lying around here waiting for orders; don’t know what it means; a huge columnbiad came up a few moments since to be planted upon this hill; that looks as if we are going to fight here; the militia and prisoners are engaged in throwing up breastworks and planting cannon for the defence of this place; the Yankees are advancing and seem determined at least to make an effort to drive us out from here, but I think they will fail; they outnumber us, but can’t outfight us; received orders to strike tents this evening, which we did, but a rain coming up, we pitched them again for shelter; expected all day for the enemy to advance on us.

July 11. – Struck tents again this morning at daylight, I suppose to deceive the enemy as to our force, &c.; drilled two and a half hours on battalion drill.

July 12. – Frilled four hours; received a letter from home; rained in the evening, and very hard all night.

July 13. – Cleared off finely, and a beautiful morning; very cool weather for July; went to town in the forenoon and made the ice cream and cakes fly; several citizens of Huntsville arrived and brought us our letters; slept very cool in the night.

Sunday, July 14. – Ready twenty psalms; helped draw provisions; cleaned my pistol, loaded it and looked over a newspaper; have now just completed writing a letter for home; I wonder why “Chadick” did not preach.

July 15. – Cool and clear – had a brigade drill in the morning; went through some of the evolutions badly; our regiment was sharply reproved by the Colonel; received orders to cook up all provisions on our return from drill; have nothing to cook; report says that the Yankees are coming on us; I do not believe it; I think that we will have to march on them if we want to fight them.

July 16. – Had another brigade drill; went through it better; Colonel Stewart’s[7] cavalry went to sleep, and suffered themselves to be surrounded, and came galloping in without hats, saddles, pistols, guns, &c., raised the alarm and had us drawn up in battle array to wait the enemy; we slept on our arms all night.

July 17. – Warm but pleasant; we are lying around our guns, looking out for the Yankees over our breastworks; I feel confident that we will whip them when they come; I am beginning to believe they are not coming.


July 18. – Received orders to strike tents and cook two days’ provisions preparatory to a march; this was done, and we lay around until evening before receiving orders; received them at last and went through Winchester; stop in the town until late, and bid farewell, I suppose for the last time, to Winchester, about five o’clock; marched nearly all night; slept about two hours; found ourselves on the road at daylight, the 19th, weary indeed; rested a while and then marched to the Shenandoah; rested there about five hours, waded the steam and pitched out again to the relief of Beauregard, who they said was pressed by overwhelming odds; arrived at Piedmont station about one hour after dark, completely worn out; went to sleep, but was aroused by a rain, in a few minutes, crept under a shelter of wheat, but got wet, having left my coat in the wagon; dried myself, procured a shawl from Uncle Washington, and slept until after midnight; was roused up by orders to “fall in,” did so and crowded on board the cars from Manassas, where we arrived about ten o’clock A. M. of the 20th; rested a while, bought some butter and prepared to eat, having done without for two days; received orders to march again, and said we were going right into the fight; heard a good deal of bragging about the fight of the 17th, thought it was not much of a fight; moved about two miles and bivouacked in the woods, where some bread and meat soon reached us, and we walked right into it, like starved hounds eat, now and then all day; slept a little and slept well into the night; got up a little after sundrise on the 21st, broiled my meat and ate it with old crackers full of bugs; expecting orders to march every moment, will get them, I think, for it is Sunday; we will fight, I suppose, before another week.

This closed the diary, and a few hours later the writer lay a corpse upon the battle field. The following names which appeared on the inside of the cover, are supposed to be those of some of his comrades: – James R. McMullen, G. A. McMullen, H. B. Roper[8].

The New York (NY) Herald 7/29/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

[*] Likely George T. Anderson, of Co. I, enlisted 4/26/1861 at Huntsville, killed at First Bull Run. Stephen J. Anderson also enlisted in Co. I on 4/26/1861. He was discharged as underage on 7/31/1861. Per 4th Alabama Roster draft by Richard M. Allen. Per FindAGrave, the two were brothers and had a sister, Pauline.
[1] – an infection
[2] – George Washington Jones, Regimental Quartermaster
[3] – William D. Chadick, Regimental Chaplain
[4] – Capt. Edward D. Tracy
[5] – Union Brig. Gen. Robert Patterson
[6] – President Abraham Lincoln’s 7/4/1861 address to Congress.
[7] – Col J. E. B. Stewart
[8] – Pvt. Henry B. Roper, Co. I

This transcription with additional annotations was found after completing the above.

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W. B. F. Visits the Ground Over Which the 4th Alabama Fought

25 01 2023

Correspondence of the Southern Advocate

The 4th Alabama Regiment.

In Camp Near Manassas, July 31.

When the news of the battle and victory at this place on the 21st inst., flashed over the wires to us in Huntsville, deep solicitude for the safety of those dear to all prompted a trip to this place by many. The trains were crowded all along, the depots thronged, the hotels overrun, and comfort no longer possible. Manassas reached at last, protected by a passport from Richmond, the camp of the glorious 4th was found on the 28th after a five mile tramp from the railroad. The Regiment was in the wood, sans tents and other essentials of camp life, and on short rations. Three months of soldier life had wrought a change in the appearance of the boys – bronzed by the sun, hardened by discipline and self reliant they seemed for service not for show. And they had seen service – in camp on the march, sleeping on the ground, wading rivers, encountering drenching rains, with half rations at times, and at last they had the desire of their hearts gratified; they met the enemy, and bore the brunt of the fight, went in iron, were baptized in fire and came out tempered steel! To meet the survivors of such a regiment – to see those so familiar to us who had endured so much, breasted such danger and won so high renown, was a pleasure indeed! They were Alabama’s sons – sent forth to defend homes and altars. They had been tried and had not been found wanting. They had been put in the front of danger and met it undaunted. They had been placed into the van, and nobly staid the tide of battle, tinging it with their blood, until it was turned back in dismay. Alabama has just cause to be proud of the gallant 4th, so ably and daringly led by Col. E. J. Jones, one of her native sons. The slopes of Manassas were made red with their blood!

A sight of the battle field, with its gentle swells, open glades, narrow ravines, clumps of woods, farm house &c, is necessary to give one a clear perception of the advanced, exposed, and important position assigned to the 7th and 8th Georgia, 4th Alabama, Maj. Wheat’s battalion, Hampton’s Legion, &c. The enemy distracted the centre and right by a feint attack, while he, by treachery crossed Bull Run and poured his masses on our left, by an adroit flank movement, which if successful, would have rendered the batteries at Manassas useless. The battle was thus made by about 8,000 of our troops, resisting this flank movement. For hours our troops were engaged at musket and cannon range with the very choice regiments of their Grand Army. The front of the battle instead of being on the main line of our defenses was on one of the ends – the left. In planning the battle Gen. Scott displayed his great military genius and knowledge of our position. Its execution was thwarted by the pluck and skill of our soldiers, who fought like brave men long and well, and piled the ground with Lincoln slain.

The 4th Alabama occupied an open gentle, slope, the enemy the reverse side of the hill which was much steeper, and in addition were protected by fence, farm outhouses, hay racks, &c., &c. The distance was about 125 yards. They could load behind the hill, advance to brow, fire at our men and then in a few steps get out of sight. Our men had no protection at all. They fired as they saw the enemy on the brow, about the farm houses, &c., and had to lied down to load. In this situation, they fought for near two hours, having made a double quick march of 8 miles in one hour to get on the ground. It was here that gentle, brave, chivalrous, and cultivated Lieut. J. C. Turner fell, encouraging his young comrades; frank generous and gallant Capt. L. E. Lindsey died; where Wm. Landman, full of generosity and geniality, was shot; where our friend and relative W. L. Lorance, and many other noble spirits met a soldier’s death. – Four regiments were fighting the 4th Alabama in front, and Sherman’s battery was so placed as to be able to fire into our whole front. The efficiency of our batteries behind on the distant elevations gave great relief by firing shot and shell into the enemy’s ranks over the heads of our men.

The enemy at last unable to drive our troops back, commenced a new flank attack on the right and left of our narrow front of battle. The letter V will illustrate the position and movement; the broad opening of the V being the front of battle, the masses of the enemy on the right and left sides of the V converging to a point to hem our soldiers in. Seeing this, the order to fall back was given. Still our brave boys fought for half an hour longer and then fell back just in time to get out of the V, exposed to a fire in front, left and right. It was in the retreat that Col. E. J. Jones was wounded, also, Lt. Col Law and Maj. Scott. Col. Jones could not be carried off the field, and was with Phil Bradford a prisoner for 4 hours; both were kindly treated by the enemy. The Regiment three times made battle and when without a head, still fought on; was led by Gen. Bee to the charge in which he was killed. – Its officers and its men displayed the coolness and steadiness of veterans. Never under fire before, they endured its blaze and heat as if feasting upon the frosted Caucasas. The stoic calmness of its Colonel was moved to unwonted joyousness on the battle field, and his men love him for his military skill and daring. Many individual acts and narrow escapes are recoreded by the boys, and almost all received shots in their clothes. The chaplain of the regiment (Rev. W. D. Chadick] fought with the utmost gallantry.

The brunt of the battle was borne by a few of our troops because a portion were thrown out by the bribery of a Railroad employee who was shot, and by the miscarriage of important orders. When however, Gen. Kirby Smith’s Brigade came in the rear and the other forces were being brought to the support of our exhausted troops the battle was won – the panic became general and the flight fast and furious. The rest was a slaughter ending with night. The enemy fought well, were well trained, thoroughly equipped, with arms superior to ours, and they shot well, too. How then were they so signally if not disgracefully routed? “The stars in their courses fought against Sisera;” and God was on our side strengthening our men to stand up against the large odds, and at last striking a panic into the hearts of the enemy. It was not the wisdom of man that gained the battle, but the God of Justice fighting for the cause of truth and Liberty. So may it ever be and give him the praise.

The members of the 4th regiment have not had any just meed of praise awarded them. The Richmond papers have been strangely oblivious of a regiment in the fight that had 37 killed and 153 wounded out of about 600 engaged – losing every field officer. Unlike the forces from other States this regiment does not carry a correspondent to blow its deeds. It asks but that justice may be done it by the citizens of its own State. There is weeping I know, over the State – for has not Florence, Huntsville, Jackson county, Marion, Selma, Tuskeege, etc., lost their bravest and best? When called on, Alabama can point to the 4th regiment as her first [?] on the altar of Southern Independence. In after times it will be a coveted honor to say, I was of the 4th, Alabama at Manassas – I saw our Colonel, Lt. Colonel and Major fall – I saw Gen. Bee fall at our head – I saw the regiment in fragments still fighting on, saving its flag – I heard of Gen. Johnston’s shedding tears at our being so cut to pieces, and I am now, praise God, alive to witness the independence of the land that day helped so greatly to secure.

But I must close – the camp life is new to me, and the sight of tents all over the country excites mingled emotions of pride and regret. I close for want of time and convenience to write more. The boys generally are well and hearty, satisfied that they have done the State some service, which is deserving of better treatment than they have received since the battle, from gross carelessness somewhere.

W. B. F.

The (Talladega, AL) Democratic Watchtower, 8/14/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Death of Pvt. Levin Bryan Lane, Co. D, 4th Alabama Infantry

14 12 2022

Hon. W. M, Brooks, of Perry county, pays a handsome tribute in the Marion Commonwealth to the memory of Levin B. Lane Jr., of Marengo, a member of the Fourth Alabama Regiment, who fell heroically at Manassas, receiving a wound in the leg, which had afterwards to be amputated, causing his death. It is related that when lying helpless upon the ground, a member of the New York 69th Regiment came up and offered to assist him. He replied, “you would not assist me if you knew who I was; I am a Southerner and a strong secessionist.” The man responded “that account is settled – you are wounded, what can I do for you?” The New Yorker furnished him with water, and after giving him his address, offering to send his valuables to his friends, and making him as comfortable as he could, departed. Late in the evening President Davis riding by, discovered Lane lying on the ground, and dismounted, took him by the hand and uttered words of deepest sympathy and kindness. As the President mounted and started off in the direction of the flying enemy, Lane raised himself up and enthusiastically cheered him on. When informed he must die, he received the announcement with calmness, and declared if it were to do over, he would pursue the same course though he knew he should be killed – that the only regret he felt was the pain his death would cause his father and sisters – that as for himself, he felt that he had fallen in a just and righteous cause. He sent affectionate messages to his absent friends and relatives, and on the 31st day of July, 1861, the pure, unselfish and brave young patriot, the only son of a fond and doating father, breathed his last on the soil of Virginia.

The (Jackson, MS) Weekly Mississippian, 9/18/1861

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Capt. Nathaniel H. R. Dawson, Co. C, 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle and Aftermath

29 11 2022

Near Manassas, July 25, 1861

I have written you three times since the late battle, my own dear Elodie, but it seems that for the first time today I am in a sufficiently quiet state of mind to commune with you. I feel like one who had accomplished a great work and was resting from his labors, and my first impulses after this are to lie down by your side and rest in the knowledge that your heart pulsates to every throb of mine. I come to pay tribute to you whom I love beyond all human beings and to whisper into your ear things that I dare not breathe to others, to tell you of the strength of that love which I bear you, and to seek comfort and peace in your sympathy. It is at such hours as this, when we rest from our labors, that man needs the comforting solace of woman, and I would give all that I have to be with you and to feel the influence of your kindness. How much I want you to be near me and to receive from your own lips the assurance of your love, I leave you to imagine.

Durin the fight when the bullets fell like hail, I thought of you as far away, at a church, on your knees, praying for my safety, and I was nerved and strengthened to do my duty. It seems a miracle that I was not killed as several of my men were shot down at my side. I attribute all to the providence of God, and I trust that I will endeavor to appreciate his mercy.

I went over the field yesterday. The scene was awful. The dead Yankees were still lying unburied in many places. I saw as many as one hundred in the space of an acre. They belong to Ellsworth’s Zouaves who were reduced from 1,100 to 200 men. God seems specially to have marked them for vengeance. They wore blue pants and red shirts and are fierce looking fellows. They fought well.

To give you an idea of the extent of the forces, I will merely mention that our line of battle extended ten miles, but we were only attacked on a line of about three miles. The roar of artillery was incessant from 8 o’clock until 3 in the evening. The air resounded with the whistling balls and hissing shells. Trees as large as my body were cut down in the forests by the rifle cannon balls. I have gathered up some bullets on the field and will keep them for you.

Our regiment is in a state of disorganization. Capt. Goldsby being the senior captain is acting as Col. He has been absent since the battle, and I now have the command. I do not desire to retain it however as I am anxious that a U. States officer should be placed in charge. We have suffered greatly for want of competent field officers, and I will not permit any selfishness to interfere with the welfare of the regiment.

We are encamped on the battlefield, surrounded by all the evidences of the sanguinary contest – broken gun carriages, dead men, dead horses, and the graves of the dead. Every house in the neighborhood is a hospital for the wounded of the army. Our own have been sent to Culpeper and Charlottesville. The dead Yankees will all be buried today. Judge Walker arrived this morning to take the remains of Lieut. Simpson, his brother-in-law, home. He will mail this letter in Richmond as there is some difficulty about sending letters off here. I telegraphed the Reporter to let you know I was safe as I knew you would be very uneasy until you heard.

We have been sleeping in the open air without tents since we left Winchester, and it seems we are to do without them for the balance of the season. We are indeed fast becoming used to all sorts of hardships. I am bearing them well and hope to pass thro them safely. It is now three months since I bid you goodbye, but it seems a long year. I cannot tell you how anxious I am to see you again. It will be one of the happiest days of my life when I meet you again safely. You are indeed, my dear Elodie, the star that I worship, and all the breadth of my love seems insufficient to repay you for yours. When I think how much this has cost me in the sacrifice of being absent from you, I almost wish it had not been commenced, but we are battling for our rights, and the feelings of an individual should not be allowed to interfere with our duties. But still I hope, and hope most earnestly, that I will be allowed to be reunited again to you. Our movements are uncertain. We will remain now on this line of operations and may go on to Alexandria, but we will hardly attempt to take the place by storm. The campaign will end in November on this line of operations, when the war may be transferred to the south.

You will write to me at Manassas Junction and your letters will be forwarded in case of our removal. I have not heard from you since the 11th of July. I hope to receive letters forwarded from Winchester today or tomorrow as I have sent a gentleman over there to see about our baggage. You can’t imagine how much pleasure a letter from you will give me now. It will be so soothing to read your affectionate letters. I will continue to write you as often as I have an opportunity, but you must not expect to hear as regularly as you have heretofore done. I will always embrace any opportunity of advising you of my movements.

I have now to attend a meeting of our officers and must bid you adieu. Farewell, my dear Elodie. Pray for me and may God bless and preserve you always.

Ever and affectionately yours,
N. H. R. Dawson

I have attempted no rhetorical account of the battle and its incidents. You will see this from better hands. Besides I have no time and no power to do so. You will see in the Charleston Mercury a full account from Mr. Sprate, who is a friend of mine. Our regiment did great credit to itself.

From Practical Strangers: The Courtship Correspondence pf Nathaniel Dawson and Elodie Todd, Sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. pp. 143-145

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Capt. Nathaniel H. R. Dawson, Co. C, 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle, Casualties, and Aftermath

28 11 2022

Manassas, Virginia, July 24, 1861

We have in some measure recovered from the excitement following the battle, and I prepare to write you this morning, seated in a thicket, pencil in hand, some of the details of the late engagement –

We, the 4th Ala., with the 2d Miss. and 6th N. C. Rg., under Gen. Bee commenced the fight by attacking the advancing column of Yankees. Our reg. was supposed to attack 5,000 men and after keeping them in check for one hour, retreated, fell back upon the reserve. I was injured by a sprain in the ankle and missed the Reg. which was in advance and was not further engaged. About 200 of the reg. was collected but took no further active part in the battle. We have but about 200 killed and wounded. Among the former is Lieut. Simpson, whom you saw last winter in Montgomery. He was to be married to Miss Collier. We lost about 1,000 killed and wounded. The loss of the Yankees is incalculable as they were [illegible] for fifteen miles, all of their artillery – 50 pieces – 10,000 stand of arms, all of their hospital wagons, a large number of their baggage wagons, and a large number of prisoners have been taken. Their dead line the road all the way.

I walked over the battlefield the next day after the fight. The scene presented was horrible. I counted in one small spot – where Sherman’s battery was taken – thirty-seven horses that were dead and near one hundred dead yankees, besides the wounded who had been removed. Near this place is a house, an old lady 90 years of age was killed by a cannon ball. Her daughter told me this herself at the house. The dead presented an awful appearance, and I thought perchance that the fortunes of man might place me in a similar position. I have learned it seems, however, to think philosophically of these things and am inclined to the opinion that I am hard-hearted.

I have thought of you all the time, my own dear Elodie, have prayed that I might be spared to see you again, and so far my prayer has been granted, and I am deeply grateful to God. I am afraid you have been troubled by rumors of my injury, as Mr. [illegible] and Mr. Smith, members of congress from Alabama who came up from Richmond yesterday told me that it was reported I was killed. I telegraphed the Selma Reporter the day after the battle and yesterday again and wrote you the night of the battle of my safety and hope your apprehensions were not excited, but I almost regret that I was not wounded that I might have had an excuse for giving harm. But I am deeply thankful that so far I have escaped. Col. Jones, Col. Law, and Major Scott are all wounded. Gen. Bee was killed. I send you a flower plucked by me this morning from the spot. He was at the head of our regiment at the time, or the remnant. We lost 185 killed and wounded out of about 700 who went to battle.

You must write me at Manassas Junction, and I will get your letters. I will write you as often as possible. I have sent to Winchester for my trunk and will then have facilities. Excuse this miserable scrawl, but we are in the woods without tents or baggage.

Remember me to Mr. and Mrs. White. You are the idol of my heart, and I am so grateful for your love.

Adieu, dearest Elodie,
Ever and affectionately yours,
N. H. R. Dawson

From Practical Strangers: The Courtship Correspondence pf Nathaniel Dawson and Elodie Todd, Sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. pp. 141-143

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Capt. Nathaniel H. R. Dawson, Co. C, 4th Alabama Infantry, On Casualties

28 11 2022

Manassas, July 21, 1861

We have had a terrible battle today, my dear Elodie, but have achieved a glorious victory. Our brigade was in the hottest of the engagement, and the 4th Ala. Reg. has been cut to pieces. I have had from twenty to thirty killed and wounded in the Cadets, but thanks to a merciful Creator and your prayers, I escaped unscathed. A cannon ball struck a fence which I was crossing and knocked me down, but the only harm done me was a dislocation of my ankle which I do not think will give me much pain. We have taken all the artillery of the enemy, their baggage and stores. Their loss is estimated at 4,000 to 5,000. But over this victory we have to mourn the loss of many of our best and bravest men. Mr. J. W. Stone, W. A. Lowry, E. G. Ursory, Bohannon, Taylor and several others are killed in the Cadets. W. H. Harrison, Jr. has lost his right arm. Rev. Turner is shot thro’ one of his legs. Geo. Cleveland is slightly wounded in the heel and several others whom you do not know.

My dearest, I wrote you a few lines to inform you of our arrival this morning and wrote you at the earliest moment from Gen. Beauregard’s headquarters of my safety and to thank God for it. My joy is great, and I attribute much to your prayers.

I have no time to write more fully. Dearest continue to pray for me. My escape is most miraculous. It is now near twelve o’clock at night.

Ever affty and sincerely,
Your own devoted,
N. H. R. Dawson

From Practical Strangers: The Courtship Correspondence pf Nathaniel Dawson and Elodie Todd, Sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. pp. 137-138

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Image: Capt. Nathaniel H. R. Dawson, Co. C, 4th Alabama Infantry

22 11 2022
Nathaniel H. R. Dawson, Co. C., 4th Alabama Infantry (Source)

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Capt. Thomas Jefferson Goldsby, Co. A, and Capt. Nathaniel Henry Rhodes Dawson, Co. C, 4th Alabama Infantry, On Casualties

22 11 2022

[Special Dispatch to the Selma Reporter.]

Manassas, Jul 22. – We gained a great victory yesterday. Our loss heavy. The enemy loss estimated at ten thousand.

The Cadets[*] lost Stone, Lowry and Buchanan, killed; and Archy Kennedy, Price, Mills, Prior, Harrison, both Daniels, King, Crisby and Boyd, were wounded slightly.

The Guards[**] lost F. Haralson, Vogelin, Milmer, McCartney, Connor, Edwards, and Rogan, killed; and Robbins, Weaver, Crail, Huggins, Dr. Harrell, Dr. Todd, Johnson, A. Berry, Shannon, Vaughan, and Francis, were wounded.

All doing well.

N. H. R. Dawson
Thos. J. Goldsby

The (Huntsville, AL) Democrat, 7/31/1861

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*Co. C. – Pvt. John H. Stone, Pvt. William A. Lowery, Likely Pvt. Robert B. Bohannon; Pvt. Archibald E. Kennedy, Sgt. Alfred C. Price, Mills not known, Prior not known (2 Pryors in the company at this time, neither showing as wounded), Pvt. William H. Harrison, Sr., Pvt. John R. and Sgt. Lucian A. Daniel, Pvt. William R. King, Crisby not known, Pvt. William G. Boyd.

**Co. A. – Pvt. Francis P. Harralson, Pvt. Henry Vogelin, Milmer not known, Pvt. Edward McCartney, Pvt. Samuel M. Connor (Co. A), Pvt. Leroy Edwards, Pvt. Amos Rogan; Pvt. John Robbins, Pvt. Phillip J. Weaver, Jr., Sgt. Alexander W. Crail, Sgt William D. Huggins, Pvt. Oscar F. Harrell, Pvt. Samuel G. Todd, Pvt. Elisha S. Johnson, Pvt. Randall Duckworth Berry, (shows as wounded), Musician Alexander Campbell Berry (does not show as wounded), Pvt. James Shannon, Pvt. Allen F. Vaughan, Pvt. James C. Francis.

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Image: Pvt. William C. Ward, Co. G, 4th Alabama Infantry

11 11 2022
William C. Ward, 4th Alabama Infantry (source)

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Pvt. William C. Ward, Co. G, 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Campaign

10 11 2022


By William C. Ward

At sundown, Jul 21, ,1861, the greatest battle ever fought on the American continent, to that time, had been won by the Southern Confederacy and lost by the United States of America. So widespread and deep was the exultation of the southern people, and so profound was the depression of the north, that everywhere and easy achievement of southern independence was confidently anticipated.

In June, 1861, General Patterson, with a large and well-equipped army, crossed the Potomac in the vicinity of Matinsburgh Va., and confronted the army of the valley of the Shenandoah commanded by General J. F. Johnston, making such demonstrations as to indicate an immediate battle. After awaiting the expected attack for about ten days, General Johnston withdrew to Winchester, Va., and his troops resumed drilling, of which they stood in need. General Jackson, however, with his brigade and some cavalry remained in the presence of the enemy, concealing the movements of his commanding general.

In the meantime, General Beauregard, flushed with the cheap laurels won in the capture of Fort Sumter, was in command of a splendid, thought not a large army, along the line of Bull Run creek, about three miles north of Manassas Junction. He was a splendid military engineer, and with the creek to protect his front had a well entrenched position. General McDowell, with the flower of the Federal army, strong in numbers and with all the most modern equipments of war, occupied a strong position confronting Beauregard. On the 18th of July, McDowell made a reconnaissance in force along Beauregard’s front, justly creating the impression that he intended to give battle. Over Beauregard was the shortest line of march to Richmond with a railroad to carry supplies. It thus became manifest that Patterson had not seriously intended to attack the army of the Shenandoah, but had made a strategic demonstration to amuse General Johnston. As soon as General Johnston, on the 18th, had information by telegraph that Beauregard been attacked, the army of the Shenandoah was mobilized and at once marched toward Manassas leaving Winchester that afternoon. Infantry, artillery, commissary and quartermaster wagons filled the highways all crowding toward the point of attack.

At noon, on the 20th of July, we reached Manassas and bivouaced in the woods about one mile north of the Junction. We were very tired and very much exhausted by the weary journey, on foot and in the cars, and the excessive heat. Early Sunday morning, off to the northwest, an occasional report of artillery could be heard, but soon that most alarming of signals, the dropping fire of skirmishers was heard. Directly a courier dashed up to General Bee, our brigade commander, who immediately mounted his little chestnut horse, and the order came to fall in. Sooner than it takes to write it, we were headed to the northwest at a double-quick guided by the artillery and skirmish fire Of the Third brigade commanded by General Bee, composed of the Fourth Alabama, Second and Eleventh Mississippi, First Tennessee and the Fifth North Carolina regiments, only the Fourth Alabama, Second Mississippi, and two companies of the Eleventh Mississippi were present in this movement, the others following later in the day. General Bee was at the head of the Fourth Alabama, and ever moving toward that skirmish firing. So rapid was the march, that many of the men, weak from measles, were being left behind, afterwards to take their places when the battle was on. Imboden’s rock brigade artillery, had unlimbered on a plateau, just north of the Robertson […] Rickett’s battery, 500 yards over the hill and beyond the valley intervening. Arriving at the point of attack, it was found that General Evans (Shank) in command of an outpost numbering about 600 men, had been struck by McDowell’s right brigade engaged in turning Beauregard’s left. Wheat’s battalion of Louisiana Tigers deployed as skirmishers, moved at the right oblique across our front and disappeared into the timeber. The Fourth Alabama was fronted into line of battle and ordered to load. It was then marched to the southwest for a short distance, partially behind a block of timber covering a steep hill side, when again fronting in line of battle marched up the hill and halted behind a low fence just in the edge of the timber.

General Bee from the left, rode up along our front and commanded, “Up Alabamians.” At once, every one sprang up and forward into the corn field about one hundred and fifty yards, halted and laid down in the corn, then about two feet high. Over a little ridge, just out of sight, was Rickett’s battery, near enough for us to hear the commands, “Load. Aim. Fire!” and the sound of the rammer as it drove the shot home, and the swab as it followed the shot sent across the valley to Imboden. We could on our right, see our men as they rose to fire and lay down to load. We could hear the commands of the Yankee officers, as they urged their men to advance. Every time the right of the Yankee regiment, immediately in our front, reached the crest of the ridge, we fired and the Yankees would fall back. On our right the men were more exposed, and the slaughter was terrible. The roar of musketry was fearful, and without intermission. It was, load, aim, fire, at will. The Second Mississippi had disappeared from our left. How long we were there, we never knew, but long enough to be left alone, and for Jackson to reach the plateau near the Henry house, a half mile in our rear and take a strong position; long enough for Bartow, great of soul, to form line to the right of the Robertson house, supporting Imboden’s battery, and long enough for Hampton, with his legion of infantry, cavalry and artillery to arrive from the right, and long enough to leave on the battle-field nearly one-third of the 650 men who went into battle.

Just who did it, was never known, but some one gave the command retreat. The regiment rose and faded as it were to the rear. Some men ran as they went by Colonel Egbert Jones, who stood by his horse supporting himself, having received his death wound. He said, “Men, do not run.” The men were demoralized. They fell backwards, through the woods, over the fence, down the hill, reformed facing the front, then faced to the rear, crossed the brook and again halted and faced to the front obliquing to the right. Colonel Jones having been left wounded, Lieutenant-Colonel Law took command. It was then seen that immediately on our left there was a Federal regiment that had turned our left in close column by division at a support arms, and that our right had been turned by a Union brigade. The left company of the Fourth, notwithstanding the cry, “Don’t shoot, they are Virginians,” delivered a fire left oblique into the faces of the regiment on the left. This was returned with interest. The Fourth was literally hanging in the air without support, enemies to the right of them, to the front of them and to the left of them. Again the men in front of the terrible fire fled up the hill. It was pitiful to see the poor fellows fall before the merciless hail. Chagrined, full of wrath and shame, some dragged themselves up the hill, and as they retired turned and emptied their muskets at short range into the faces of the foe.

Where was Shank Evans with his six hundred, where was Wheat with his Louisiana Tigers, where was Falkner with the Mississippians? Crossing the line of the Eighth Georgia, a shell exploded just over the head of Captain Clarke, who commanded the left rifle company, and immediately in front of this historian. The old captain fell, lay still on his face for a moment, rose, brushed the dirt from his clothes, and quietly continued to the rear. Here the celebrated Hampton’s legion came into view, with the assistant surgeon in front carrying a stretcher, and firing volleys or red hot oaths at the retreating men. Hampton must have formed on the left of the Eighth Georgia. Halting around the old cotton-bale flag, which Sergeant Frank Fitts had carried through the day, just in the rear of the Georgians, it was ascertained that about two hundred of the regiment had rallied.

It was just at this time that General Johnston and Beauregard, accompanied by their staffs, rode up to the regiment, having heard the firing from their position on the right, and concluded that McDowell had selected his own battle-ground and was giving battle. To General Johnston’s question, “What troops are these?” the answer was, “It is what is left of the Fourth Alabama.”

“Where are your field officers?” The answer was, “left on the battlefield.”

“Who is in command?”

Here it is understood that no one had thought it the duty of the senior captain to take command. We asked that the general either lead or give us a commander to take us again into the battle. He replied that he had just come on the field, and as soon as he could understand the situation he would place us again in battle.

Just at this point General Bartow, bleeding from a wound in the foot, his horse wounded and panting, rode up and said, “General Johnston, I am hard pressed on the right, and I cannot hold my positions without reinforcements. The General replied, “You must at all hazards hold your position, and you need reinforcements, this regiment here,” pointing to the Fourth Alabama, “will support you.” Bartow turned his horse and rode back to his command and to his death. General Johnston then, placing himself by the colors, moved the Fourth through the scrub pine timber, placed the regiment in a washout in the rear of the Georgians and left us shrouded by the thick pine bushes with orders to support Bartow.

There are some men who believe that a speech is always in order, and never lose an opportunity to fire an audience with their eloquence. Here was a great opportunity, and Captain, afterwards General Tracy rose to the occasion. The men were sad; their comrades had fallen; they had shown their backs to the foe, and they felt that hence forth they never would be able to wipe out the stain. They felt that they ought to have died on the battlefield. Tracy was eloquent. It is remembered that when he had exhausted all his native resources, he closed with Hallock’s lines, “Strike for your altars and fires; strike for the green graves of your sires, God and your native land.” Just then a minnie ball, apparently having lost its course, came singing that song that threatens to strike but does not indicate where, yet apparently near Captain Tracy’s head. He bowed low, saying, “and dodge boys, when you can.”

The battle raging from our right towards our left came nearer. Bullets fell fast into our covering. The captains, not knowing what had become of Bartow and his Georgians, moved us out into an open field, where we could see the danger that threatened. A water detail was sent out while the men rested in the sun. It was here that General Bee rode up to the regiment. Mortified at the results of the morning and feeling all was lost, he called out:

“What regiment is this?”

Captains King and Clarke answered, “General, do you not know your own men? This is what is left of the Fourth Alabama.” He said:

“Come with me and go yonder where Jackson stands like a stone wall.” The captains replied, “we have sent out details for water and as soon as they return, we will go with you.”

It was just before this that the Federal attack had become general. Advancing over the line of retreat of the Fourth Alabama, the Union army ascended the hill to the plateau in front of Jackson and Hampton and the Georgians, and as it uncovered the crest, there was a crash of musketry that can never be forgotten. The Yankees advanced, loading and firing, and their cartridge covers showed beautiful lines and magnificent drill.

When the water was distributed, General Bee mounted, placing himself on the left, and moved in rear of Jackson’s line of battle. Arbuthnot’s battery changing position, cut the regiment in two at the colors. When the right again joined the left, we were told that General Bee had fallen mortally wounded, while leading the regiment to a place where it could again go into battle. He died that night. While waiting in front of the Lewis house, where General Johnston had established his headquarters, General Jackson rode by, having his arm in a sling. For hours he had held his position and it was understood that he had saved the day.

Directly there was an indescribable roar of battle and shouting. The cavalry came from the rear charging to the front. The cry was that the Yankee army was in full retreat, and all over the vast plateau the glad shouts of victory went up to heaven. President Davis, at this time, rode on the field, hat in hand, receiving the plaudits of the men. Straglers were coming in. The happiest people ever seen were the negro mess servants, who laughed, shouted and wept. Steve., Captain King’s body servant, was uncontrollable in his joy that he had found his master alive. The Fourth went back to the Junction that night to gather up the fragments and sleep. We were so tired! We laid down to sleep feeling that we were disgraced; we waked on Monday morning to find the air vocal with our praise. That a great victory had been won was being ascribed to the fact that the Fourth Alabama had for an hour held the Federal right in check until brigades and regiments could be moved from the right to the left. As fast as the regiments came on the field, marching by the left flank they were fronted into line of battle and moved into action. McDowell, at the same time, was always moving by his right until having uncovered his front about 12 o’clock he advanced to the main attack. His flanking movement had been discovered by Evans and check by the Fourth Alabama. We never fully knew what the Fourth Alabama had done until General Heintzleman’s report to his commanding-general was made public. In that report he paid a very great compliment to the valor of the Fourth Alabama regiment that for an hour or more delayed his advance successively driving back his four regiments, so that he was unable to again bring them to the attack. From the position named, all knew the regiment so designated was the Fourth Alabama.

To prevent a short line march to the rear of our line of battle by the Union army, it was necessary to keep a large part of Beauregard’s army behind his earth works at Bull Run, when the day had been won. Colonel Cook’s Virginia regiment came on the battlefield, having all day listened to the roar of the great battle. The battle was fought by the southern generals without a plan, a rough and tumble fight made necessary by the splendid flanking movement of McDowell. As the day grew old, Generals Archer and Kirby Smith, coming by railroad train, when at a point equidistant from the battlefield and Manassas Junction, hearing the sound of battle, stopped the train and with their commands moved in the direction of the firing. They struck the Yankee right, squarely and doubled it back upon itself. Up to this time the Yankees had steadily advanced fighting with great confidence. This was too much and they fled from the field without order, never halting until under the shelter of Washington.

(Birmingham, AL) Age-Herald, 7/20/1902

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Contributed and transcribed in part by John Hennessy

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