Image: Corp. Felix Butler, Co. G, 4th Alabama Infantry

10 02 2022
Felix Butler, Courtesy of Manassas NBP

Felix Butler at Ancestry.com

Felix Butler at Fold3

More on Felix Butler

More on Felix Butler

More on Felix Butler





Pvt. Thomas Hudson, Co. D, 4th Alabama Infantry, On His Capture and Imprisonment

11 01 2022


[From the Uniontown Herald.]

Interesting Letter From Tom. Hudson.

———-

Washington City, July 25, 1861

Dear Father – I know that you are all very much distressed to known my fate; so, I take this, the earliest opportunity, to let you know how and where I am.

It is very doubtful whether this letter will ever reach you; if it does, all well – if it does not, there will be no harm done. I shall have at least made the effort to let you hear from me, which will be some consolation.

I am a prisoner in the hands of the enemy, and confined in prison in the City of Washington. My health is very good, and I am treated as well – and, in fact, much better than – I expected. * * *

My letters are inspected by the Sergeant, and I cannot write you at length – cannot give you many particulars that I would like to communicate. I was in the bloody battle of Bull Run last Sunday; was in the engagement six or seven hours. During the battle I got cut off from my regiment, and for something like an hour or more, I was immediately between two batteries, alone. In that time I am satisfied 300 grape shot and bombshells fell right about me, knocking the dirt and dust all over me. One shell bursted a few feet directly over my head without doing me any damage. The shot and shell fell so fast and thick that I determined to risk the fire of a whole brigade, which was so close to me that I could hear every word that was said. I broke and run, and it seemed to me that the whole brigade fired at me; but the only damage they did was to cover me with dust. I dan about fifty yards, and was taken with that I suppose was something like sun-stroke and fell to the ground on my face. I got up and ran about ten steps, and fell again, I tried it for the third time, with no better success. I then determined I would try and walk along slowly, but did not go but a step or two before I dropped down, completely exhausted. I was in that condition when a company came up and took me prisoner. * * *

Our company officers behaved bravely in the fight; every time I saw Dr. H.* he was in the thickest of it, urging the boys on.

We have been visited by a great many ladies and gentlemen, and have been very kindly treated by them. We have been furnished with clothing, and a great many little things which are very acceptable to persons in our situation, by the ladies; they send something good to eat every day. I wish it was in my power to repay these “good Samaritans” for their kindness to us in this out time of need. Senator Breckinridge, Vorhees, May, J. J. Crittenden (the old wretch) and several other distinguished persons have called to see us. Mr. Ogle Tayloe and Mr. Phillips, formerly member to Congress from the Mobile district, have been very kind to us – offered to do any thing they could. I want some money very much, but I felt a delicacy in asking a favor of them, and did not do so. I wish you would send me some money as soon as possible. * * *

Give my love to all. I hope this war will soon be over, and that I may have the pleasure of meeting you all again around the family circle.

Your affectionate son,
THOMAS HUDSON.

(Greensboro) Alabama Beacon, 8/30/1861

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*Likely 1st Sgt. William O. Hudson, who would become regimental surgeon in 1862

Thomas Hudson at Ancestry

Thomas Hudson at Fold3

Thomas Hudson at FindAGrave





“C,” 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle and Casualties

10 01 2022

From the Montgomery Advertiser

LETTER FROM RICHMOND.


Heroic conduct of the 4th Alabama Regiment.


Richmond, Aug. 3, 1861.

Ed. Advertiser: I know your readers will not regard me as obtrusive when, in the midst of many engagements, I give them, through your valuable paper, a hurried but accurate account of the part the gallant 4th Regiment of Alabama troops took in the great battle at Manassas, on the 21st ult.

This Regiment was ordered to march for Manassas on Thursday evening, the 18th July, from their camp at Winchester, and immediately set out upon a forced march, leaving their tents, and taking but a scanty supply of provisions. They marched all that night and all the next day, reaching, about dark, Piedmont, where they took the cars, arrived at Manassas Junction about 9 o’clock A. M., of Saturday, the 20th, and immediately set out for Camp Walker, which they reached about 10 o’clock of that day. You may well suppose the exhaustion of the men from hunger, exposure, and fatigue. Refreshed, however, by rest for the night and some food, and the enemy having opened fire upon our lines on the next morning (Sunday,) they were ordered, immediately upon eating their breakfast, to take up their line of march in the direction of where the firing first opened. They were marched very hurriedly some three or four miles in that direction, but it was ascertained that this firing was a feint on the part of the enemy to withdraw our troops from the point where they really intended to attack us, and they were suddenly marched in double quick time some two miles to the left of the line of battle, where they arrived greatly exhausted, the day being excessively hot, and they with but little water. Halting in a skirt of woods some three hundred yards of the enemy’s line of battle, the regiment was formed, and proceeded in double quick time to within one hundred yards of the enemy’s line, where they were commanded to lie down and load and rise and fire, Sherman’s celebrated battery playing upon them the while, and unprotectd save by occasional well directed shots from the gallant Imboden, who was comparatively without ammunition, his horses attached to the caisson having taken flight and run off.

In this exposed position, for one hour and a half, did this noble regiment struggle in the very jaws of death against the servile hosts of the enemy, and other regiments having been withdrawn to more eligible from the right and left, this regiment, alone and unaided, except by the occasional shot from Imboden’s battery, held their position, three times repulsing the advancing columns of the enemy, and holding him in check until reinforcements could come up.

Outflanked, and exposed to the most deadly fire of the enemy from three sides, orders were given for it to fall back, which was done in good order. It was in this movement, when the gallant Colonel of the regiment, Egbert Jones, who, though exposed to the galling fire of the enemy, had been sitting upon his horse giving command to the regiment with a composure which showed him to be insensible to fear, was severely wounded.

The regiment, confidently expecting reinforcements in their rear, upon which they were falling back, having gone through a skirt of woods and descended a hill, where they again formed line, and having discovered two regiments on their right as they descended the hill, drawn up in close column in line of battle, they were about to form behind these regiments, which returned the signal of our troops, thus alleging they were our friends. But as soon as our flag was unfurled, they turned loose a most murderous fire upon our regiment, cutting out brave boys down in considerable numbers, and wounding a great many, among them Lieut. Col. Law and Major Scott, whose gallant bearing a noble example inspired their troops with indomitable courage. Thus, nearly surrounded by the enemy, without any field officers to command them, exhausted by their unparalleled struggles with the enemy and forced marches, burning with intolerable thirst, and badly cut to pieces, they retired under cover of a skirt of woods to an open field, some half mile in the rear of their first position, where they halted and awaited orders.

It was here the gallant and lamented Brig. Gen. Bee rode up, and in the midst of the roar of musketry and the bursting of shells, asked, “What body of troops is this?” The answer, “What remains of the 4th Alabama,” was given him. He then said, with great emphasis, “This is all of my brigade I can find – will you follow me back to where the firing is going on?” “Aye, sir, to the death,” was the response, and they did follow him, and “to the death,” for, in proceeding in the direction of Sherman’s battery for the purpose of charging it at the point of the bayonet, this brave General and accomplished soldier fell mortally wounded. Deprived of its Brigadier General, its Colonel, its Lieutenant Colonel, and Major, and exhausted and badly cut to pieces, the regiment fell back and reformed, and awaited orders. The regiment remained on the battle field during the whole of the fight, preserving all the while it’s perfect organization.

Now, when we remember that they were contending against the trained regulars if the United States, supported by powerful batteries, is not the gallantry and persistent bravery of our troops beyond praise? The wonder is that one of them escaped, yet God interposed in their behalf. The prayers of pious fathers, others, sisters, wives and friends had gone up to Jehovah for their protection, and had constituted an impenetrable shield – had moved the arm that was stretched out for their deliverance. “It is God who hath given us the victory; blessed be His holy name forever and ever.”

I send you below a list of the killed and wounded.

C******.


A list of the Killed, Wounded and Missing of the Fourth Alabama Regiment of Volunteers, commanded by Col. Egbert J. Jones, in the battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861.

Company A.

Killed – S. M. Connor, 2d Corp; Leroy Edwards, J. N. Gilmer, F. P. Haralson, Edwin McCartney, Amos Logan, Henry Vogelin.

Company B.

F. M. Lutrell.

Company C.

J. H. Stone, R. B. Bohanon, W. A. Lowry, E. G. Ussery.

Company D.

David W. Pitts, 3d Lieut; W. H. Hill, Robt. M. Mitchell.

Company E.

L. C. Gatch, 1st Serg’t; S. H. Wimberly, J. D. Robbins.

Company F.

J. C. Turner, 1st Lieut.

Company H.

John Simpson, Jr., 1st Lieut; R. T. Burroughs, 2d Sergt; Thomas Stone, 3d Corp; L. Lorance, Pulaski Cadicott, Z. P. Ives, W. F. N. Smith, Sr., F. G. Bowdam, Jesse Hills, W. S. Andrew.

Company I.

W. T. Landman, 4th Sergt; J. F. Kayes, Geo. Anderson, W. H. Arnold, J. J. Buffington, Jas. A. Preston.

Company K.

L. F. Lindsey, Captain.

Total Killed – 36.


Company A.

Wounded – W. D. Huggins, 2d Sergt, Alec W. Crail, 3d Sergt, W. J. Apperson, Randall Berry, Chris Bowers, Jas. K. Blevins, Jas. C. Brancis, J. P. Hutchinson, Oscar F. Harral, John Robbins, B. A. Sentemeger, Jas. Shannon, Sam G. Todd, Allen Vaughan, P. J. Weaver, jr., Elisha Johnson.

Company B.

T. B. Dryer, Captain, L. H. Chapman, 2d Lieut, W. H. Wyme, J. S. Leonard, L. Lewis, H. H. Green, Jas. Taylor, T. J. Sinclair, D Guerry, Jno. Gillespie, Jere Lynch, Jasper Newsom, Lemuel Tennison, Jos. Sterling.

Company C.

A. C. Price, 2nd Sergt, L. A. Daniel, 3rd Sergt, Boykin Goldsby, 4th Sergt, A. E. Kennedy, E. A. Taylor, W. H. Harrison, sr., J. R. Daniel, W. R. King, P. W. Peoples, F. M. Cunningham, J. M. Jordan, W. H. Boyd, Geo. Mimms, J. R. Caughery, R. Q. Prior, Geo. Cleveland, T. R. Harville, B. J. Tarver.

Company D.

W. H. Long, 1st Corp., E. F. Christian, Thos. B. Edwards, J. D. Fowler, E. F. Gouldman, W. W. Gray, J. A. Harwood, R. H. Henly, Jos. P. Jones, B. lockett, L. B. Lane, J. H. Montgomery, Joseph Muse, W. P. Pope, R. N. Smith, Geo. Sayre, Anderson Walker, A. M. Walker,

Company E.

J. G. Guice, 2d Lieut., J. B. Bennett, 3d Sergt., W. T. Thomas, 1st Corp., J. T. Andrews, Blake Bearde, Chas. Floyd, J. H. Mason, A. D. McInnis, J. E. Melver, A. J. Mosely, J. C. Peacock.

Company E.

J. M. Strickland, J. A. Thomas, T. W. Tuck, O. W. Perry

Company F.

W. H. Taylor, 2d Lieut., Jas. M. Drake, W. T. Hamer, T. Benham, J. B. Stone, R. W. Hilburn, F. Trainer, G. Wilkinson.

Company G.

W. A. Lockett, 2d Sergt., M. M. Cooke, 4th Sergt., F. G. Butler, 2d Corp., Ira G. Tarrant, 4th Corp., Jas. R. Crowe, A. B. Downs, W. H. Fiquett, W. D. Johnson, S. W. Pleasants, S. W. McKerrall, George W. Stephens, S. Cosby John, Jno. Couch, O. H. Spencer.

Company H.

Pettus, 1st Sergt., A. W. McDonald, 2nd Corp., Wm. Moss, Jas. Jackson, Charles Weems, Horn Mason, Geo. Weaver, T. Kirkman, M. F. Briggs, Solomon Rice, Geo. Whitlen, Wm. Scott, Lee. B. Wurts, Henry Richardson, John Posey, Alec McAlexander, R. Foster, James Kendrick, R. P. Andrew, Chas. D. Stewart, Christopher Ronde, Isaac Lowry.

Company I.

I. A. Lanier, 1st Lieut., P. Lee Hammond, 2nd Sergt., J. E. H. Bailey, F. Bradford, J. Hawkins, C. M. Humphrey, W. M. Lowe, F. B. Spence, J. R. Eldridge, P. B. Fletcher, Henry Roper, William Acklen, Peyton King, Leslie Moore, J. B. Forrester.

Company K.

Milton P. Brown, Corp., Parker Cunningham, Thos. A. Williams, Thomas M. Oulver, T. Vingun, Jas. H. Williamson, Wm. Harris.

Total wounded – 147.


Company D.

Missing – Thos. Hudson.

Company F.

Drake, Sively.

Total missing – 3.


Field Officers

Wounded – Egbert Jones, Col., E. Melver Law, Lieutenant Colonel, Charles L. Scott, Major.


Recaptitulation

Killed – One Captain, two 1st Lieutenants, on 3rd Lieutenant, three Sergeants, two Corporals, twenty-seven privates. Total killed, 36.

Wounded – One Colonel, one Lieut. Colonel, one Major, 1 Captain, one 1st Lieutenant, three 2nd Lieutenants, ten Sergeants, five Corporals, 127 Privates. Total wounded, 150.

Missing – Three privates. Aggregate, 189.

The (Huntsville, AL) Democrat, 8/21/1861

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“W,” 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle and Casualties

5 01 2022

THE FOURTH ALABAMA REGIMENT AT THE BATTLE OF MANASSAS

All honor to the brave and gallant men of this noble Regiment! Every Alabamian had reason to be proud of their self-sacrificing patriotism and undaunted valor in the battle of Sunday, July 21st, at Manassas. Every one who can appreciate the highest achievements of courage, must have his bosom to swell with admiration at the contemplation of the cool, firm, dauntless courage, with which the officers and men of the Fourth Alabama, in open field, maintained their ground, without breastworks or entrenchments, for two hours, under the galling fire of three Regiments of United States Regulars (sixteen hundred men), and three Regiments of Volunteers – numbering together about six thousand men, all well equipped with the best arms, having the vantage of ground, and attacking them in front and on both flanks simultaneously. So fixed was their determination to conquer or die, that they stood their ground for an hour after an order had been sent from Gen. Johnston or Bee for them to retreat. – High upon the roll of their country’s heroes, indelibly on the tablet of their country’s memory, deep in the recesses of their country’s heart, will be inscribed their “noble deeds and daring high!”

Surprise has been expressed that the newspapers and their reporters have almost entirely ignored the important part that was performed by the Fourth Alabama in the achievement of the glorious victory at Manassas. It has, generally, been dismissed with the mere notice that it fought gallantly and suffered terribly, adding the names of the wounded regimental officers. We learn, indirectly, from high authority, that this Regiment stayed the progress of the enemy, and prevented their turning our left flank, until the opportune arrival of Gen. Kirby Smith, with four Regiments from Winchester, caused a panic in the enemy’s ranks, put them to flight and gave us the victory. We cannot, therefore, believe the omission to give the Fourth a promi…[line missing]… but has arisen, probably, from two causes: that Gen. Bee commanding the brigade to which the Fourth belonged, was killed, and all the regimental officers, Col. Jones, Lieutenant Colonel Law and Major Scott, were all badly wounded, and could make no report, and the Regiment had no newspaper reporter in its ranks. We doubt not that official reports and newspapers will yet do our gallant boys full justice.

We return our thanks to a distinguished Alabamian, recently from Richmond, who sent us the following communication, in which he gives the only full list, we have seen, of the number of killed and wounded in the Fourth Alabama regiment, and pays a just and glowing tribute to these gallant defenders of our rights, liberties and lives. It will be perceived that the loss in killed and wounded, amounts to one hundred and eighty two – about one-fifth or one-sixth of the whole number, bearing mournful attestation to their unconquerable courage and desperate determination to win the day:

Richmond, July 29, 1861.

Although this Regiment suffered more than any other that was engaged in the battle, and covered itself and the State with immortal honor, but little has as yet been said about it in the papers. The following is a correct statement of the numbers of killed and wounded in the different companies:

Companies (K = Killed, W = Wounded)

Capt. Goldsby, Dallas County, 7K, 17W

Capt. Mastin, Perry County, 1K, 4W

Capt. Clark, Perry County, 3K,17W

Capt. Tracy, Madison County, 6K, 14W           

Capt. Dawson, Dallas County, 4K, 17W

Captain McFarland, Lauderdale County, 10K, 23W

Captain Bowles, Conecuh County, 3K, 17W

Captain Lindsey, Jackson County, 1K, 7W

Captain King, Perry County, 0K, 5W

Captain Dryer, Marengo County, 1K, 12W

Total, 36K 143W

All three of the field officers, Colonel Jones, Lieutenant Colonel Law and Major Scott, were wounded; making total killed thirty-six, sounded one hundred forty-six; together one hundred and eighty-two.

Among the killed are the following officers: Capt. Lindsey, of Jackson; First Lieutenant J. C. Turner, of Huntsville; and First Lieutenant John Simpson, Jr., of Florence.

Owing to its particularly exposed position, Capt. McFarland’s company, from Lauderdale county, suffered more severely than any other of the Regiment, or, indeed, in the whole army. Out of fifty-eight men in line when the battle began, ten were killed on the field and twenty-three wounded, leaving but twenty-five unhurt, and of those nearly every man was either struck by a spent ball or had holes shot through his hat or clothes. The following is a list of killed and wounded in this company:

Killed – First Lieutenant John Simpson, Jr. Privates Lucius Lorance, W. T. N. Smith, Z. Joes, F. G. Bourland, R. T. Borough, Wm. Andrews, Thos. Stone, Pulaski Calicut, and J. Zills.

Wounded – Orderly Sergeant H. O. Pettus. Corporal McDonald (badly). Privates James Jackson (severely). N. F. Briggs, C. D. Stewart, Marion Horne (badly). S. B. Waite, C. Weems, W. Moss, R. W. Foster, Alex. McAlexander (severely), Thos. Kirkman, Jr., John C. Posey (severely), Muncel Rice, Robt. Andrews, Jason Hendrix, Henry Richardson, Geo. Weaver, C. Rowell, Wm. Scott, B. B. Foster, — Whitten and — Terry.

Throughout the battle, the whole Regiment, both officers and men, behaved nobly. The disadvantages of their position were terrible. – Owing, it is said, to some mistake in the transmission of an order from Gen. Bee, they were made to assume a position in front of the enemy outnumbering them four to one, and with every conceivable disadvantage of ground against them. In the face of thus fearful odds, they stood for three hours under the murderous fire which the enemy, with his overwhelming numbers and from his comparatively protected position, poured upon them. With heroic constancy they held their ground, held in check the advancing column of the enemy; not a man left the ranks, and no thought of retreat was given to retire. It may be safely asserted that never did veterans of a hundred fields exhibit more undaunted courage and more unshaken firmness. Col. Jones greatly distinguished himself by his cool and collected courage and fearless exposure of his person, throughout the conflict. His horse was shot from under him and a ball passed through his hip, wounding him severely, but not mortally. Lieutenant Colonel Law and Major Scott was, also, conspicuous – they were both wounded and disabled.

For the first time in her history, the soldiers of Alabama have stood under the fire of the enemy, and nobly have they sustained the honor of the State. Since the battle, Gen. Beauregard has been known to speak warmly in terms of special praise for the heroic firmness and gallant conduct of the Fourth Alabama Regiment. The troops opposed to them were the very flower of the Northern army – the Seventy-First New York and Rhode Island Regiments and some companies of United States Regulars. The thinned ranks of those troops will show how well our brave boys handled their guns. We do not doubt that all of our Alabama Regiments will do well wherever an opportunity presents, but we may venture to predict that none of them will ever surpass the Spartan constancy, the heroic courage, displayed by the gallant Fourth on the bloody field of Manassas.

W.

Capt. T. Fearn Erskine, who has just returned from Richmond, has favored us with the following list of killed and wounded in the Huntsville Companies, in the Manassas battle:

North Alabamians, Capt. Tracy.

Killed – James E. Keys, Wm. T. Landman, Geo. T. Anderson, Jas. A. Preston, J. J. Buffington and Wm. H. Arnold.

Wounded – Lieutenant J. A. Lanier, Edward Spence (since died), Fielding Bradford, James Bailey, Wm. Forester, Wm. M. Lowe, J. R. Hawkins, Peyton King, P. Lee Hammond and Crawford M. Humphrey.

Huntsville Guards, Capt. Mastin

Killed – Lieutenant Jas. Camp Turner.

Wounded – Lieutenant Wm. H. Taylor, G. D. Wilkerson, Jas. N. Drake, Thos. Barham, Jas. Stone, Robt. Hilburn and Frank Trainer.

By the latest accounts, the wounded, generally, were doing well.

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

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Unknown Captain*, 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle

4 01 2022

‘Interesting from the Battle-Field’

We have been kindly permitted to favor our readers with the following extracts from a private letter of a gallant officer, in the Fourth Alabama Regiment, to a lady friend, giving an interesting account of his regiment’s participation in the ever memorable battle near the Stone Bridge, in which, his comrades say, he bore a distinguished part:

Battle-Field, In Camp,
Six Miles from Manassas,
July 24, 1861,

“While at Winchester there came an order to purge my Company of all men who could not stand a long, hard, forced march, which order being thrice repeated, we received the order to march at sunset on the 18th. We marched all that night and the next day, and arrived at Piedmont after night of the 19th, broken down and starved. Throwing ourselves down on the ground, we promised ourselves a soldier’s sweet sleep of a few hours, unlulled except by sweet memories, and unrocked except by dire fatigue. I fell down at the head of my company as soon as I gave orders to stack arms and break, and, after thinking a moment of the dear ones, fell into a dead sleep. In an hour, the rain came down in torrents, but all too weak to awaken me. After I was floating off, some of my men pulled me up, and I got under a rude shed which they had made of rails and straw, and slept until 1 A. M. of the 20th, when we took the cars. As soon as we were on board, and my men seated, I lay down on the floor of the car and slept again. Don’t you think I was sleepy?

“We arrived at the Junction, nearly dead with rain and hunger, at about 10 o’clock of that day, and marched out about two miles into the woods, where we spent the day and night, having received some food and a little more rain. Of course, we had no tents. You may imagine that we were not very sprightly. I was ill with fever and other camp diseases, my tongue furred, etc., and hardly able to walk. But, on the 21st, we received the order that all who were able to march, should fall into ranks. I was no longer sick, mu company numbered, rank and file, about seventy, and we started in double quick time, and marched, God knows how far, some eight or ten miles, until, at last we got near where we are now encamped, when we were told to load as we went, and that the enemy were right before us. We marched up a hill in an open field, and, just at the brow, were ordered to lie down, fire and load, fire and load, etc.

“The enemy were entrenched right before us, not more than 100 yards off, and the battle begun. There were opposed to our regiment, as Kirby Smith informed me, yesterday, (thank God! Smith is not dead, nor likely, in my opinion to die, thought shot through the upper portion of his breast with a grape shot – he said he would go to Lynchburg to-day,) nearly the entire force of the enemy. Our brigade was on the extreme left, and there the battle raged hottest. For an hour and three-quarters, we stayed there in that open field, exposed to fire from front and the right flank, and I may say to you, I hope, without fear of misapprehension, that I did my devoir. I stood up in the front rank, rallying my men when the troops were lying down. I saw man after man of my company fall dead by my side, and others wounded. Our position was a most hazardous one, but well did we maintain it. At last, we were flanked on the left, and then, from three sides came the murderous fire. We fell back, our men falling as we retired.

“Poor (Col.) Jones, who sat upon his horse as calm as a statue, during the whole fire, until the horse was shot under him, fell as we retired from the field, shot twice, once through each thigh. I did not hear of it, until we rallied about half a mile back, when I called for volunteers to bring his body off, to which a portion of my command responded. Not having strength enough to bring Jones off, after going sever hundred yards back with my little corps, and not being joined by others, I desisted, and proceeded to rejoin the regiment, which , under galling and tremendous fire from the left, had again fallen back.

“As I was bringing up the rear, our Major, Scott, (Charley Scott, of California,) fell right before me, shot through the leg. With the assistance of Spragins and one or two others, we brought him out of the fire, but were compelled to leave him in a wood nearby. Our Lieut. Colonel, Law, was then shot, and his arm broken, and he was compelled to leave the field, and the regiment, or the fragment that remained unkilled, unwounded, or undispersed, were left like sheep without a shepherd.

“The whole was terrible, the dead men, the wounded, the flying, the roaring of cannon and rattling of musketry, the bursting of bombshells among us, all combined to make a scene wild and grand. The most excruciating torture was the intolerable, insatiable, and burning thirst for water. On all sides, from wounded and unwounded, the cry went up, ‘water, water, water.’

“It would be impossible to describe the events of the day in detail. Gen. Bee fell, mortally wounded, leading our regiment [which was his pet and pride], the balance of his brigade being dispersed. Our regimental loss, in killed and sounded, was about 200, out of 650 in the action.”

“We got Jones and Scott after the battle. Thank God! There is a good prospect of the recovery of the first – the recovery of the latter is hardly doubtful.

“We have won a glorious victory, and the Fourth Alabama Regiment has won a name.”

The (Huntsville, AL) Democrat, 8/7/1861

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*Elias C. Spraggins, mentioned above, was a 2nd Lt. in Co. I. Captain of Co. I (raised in Huntsville) was Edward Dorr Tracy, so he is possibly the author. However, Capt. Thomas Jefferson Goldsby of Co. A was the senior captain who assumed command of the regiment and filed the after-action report. In that report, he used the term “calm as a statue” to describe Col. Jones as he sat astride his horse, which the author also used in this letter.

Edward Dorr Tracy at Wikipedia

Edward Dorr Tracy at Ancestry

Edward Dorr Tracy at Fold3

Edward Dorr Tracy at FindAGrave

Thomas Jefferson Goldsby at Ancestry

Thomas Jefferson Goldsby at Fold3

Thomas Jefferson Goldsby at FindAGrave





Pvt. Jesse W. (W. A.) Wells*, Co. G, 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle

2 01 2022

Waifs from the Seat of War

Extract of a letter from W. A. Wells, of Captain King’s Company, 4th Alabama Regiment, dated Manassas, July 22, to his father, J. D. Wells, of this city:

“Every field officer in my regiment was killed, and the men greatly cut to pieces; but we gained laurels by our gallant conduct. A six-pound cannon ball passed between my legs, and would have cut them off, if I had not been picking blackberries, and had my feet wide apart. A spent musket ball struck me on the shoulder, but did no damage more than to raise a knot.

John White fought gallantly throughout. – He shot one fellow down, and did not kill him, he thereupon seized his baggage, told him to rise and follow him, which the wounded man did. At another time when his regiment scattered, he seized the flag and charged on a lot of cannon, which were taken. He is unhurt.

The night after the battle, I lay down and slept all night by myself, where I could neither hear or see anything except the soft hum of the wind, and the groans of wounded men, and the heavens above me.”

We learn that John White, alluded to, is a nephew of Mr. Wells, and is not yet sixteen years old.

(Atlanta, GA) Southern Confederacy, 7/31/1861

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The only Wells found in Co. G of the 4th AL is Jesse W. Wells

Jesse W. Wells at Ancestry

Jesse W. Wells at Fold3





Capt. Robert C. McFarland, Co. H, 4th Alabama Infantry, On the March and Battle

24 08 2021

Army of the Shenandoah
Camp Bee, near Manassas, Virginia
July 29, 1861

Dear sir: On the 18th instant, the force of General Joseph Johnston left Winchester. Every street was filled with soldiers, wagons, and munitions of war. It was about 1 p.m. when our regiment marched from camp to Winchester when, owing to the length of the column it was sunset before the suburbs of the town were reached. The soldiers were much dissatisfied, thinking they were retreating and leaving the place to its fate. General Johnston, observing this, as soon as the forces were a mile outside of the town on the way to Manassas made it known that he was marching to the aid of General Beauregard who was attacked by overwhelming forces. Everyone was elated on hearing this and set forward with renewed vigor in order to reach the scene of action.

The march was kept up all night. The Shenandoah River was reached about 6 a.m. on the following morning. A few hours of rest was given here and then the column crossed the river, some in boats, some on artillery horses, while others forded. The road leading over the Blue Ridge mountains was very narrow, hilly, and rough, which very much impeded the march as the wagons were continually stopping. On reaching the highest point of the pass, a beautiful view of the country was afforded to the wearied soldiers. Piedmont was reached ay daybreak; the troops were weary and hungry having marched 30 miles over a bad road in 24 hours. A council of officers of our regiment was immediately called; General Bernard Bee, having expressed the wish that it be go on to Manassas by the first train. It was decided, notwithstanding the fact that the men had nothing to eat since morning and nothing to cook as the baggage wagons had not arrived, that the regiment would go forward without delay. This being made known all were much pleased.

The rain now fell in torrents, completely drenching the troops who were without coats or blankets. At 3 a.m., the regiment was on board the cars and reached Manassas about 10 a.m. So soon as it was formed, it was marched into a grove more remarkable for filth than anything else, being a general rendezvous for wagons and teams. Having rested about an hour, the line of march was taken for Camp Walker two miles from Bull Run and two from the field of battle. Here some crackers and middling bacon was distributed, a very welcome supper to the men who had nothing to eat for 12 hours. Having no cooking utensils, the officers and privates broiled the bacon on the end of a forked stick.

On the following morning Sunday July 21, 1861, the same kind of fare was served up. Shortly after breakfast, the enemy commenced firing on our center. In two minutes, the regiment was formed and the soldiers with baggage on their backs marched in quick and double-quick time to the scene of action. The enemy, whose lines extended from Union Mills to Stone bridge, commenced a cannonade on our center for the purpose of drawing out our forces- showing our strength, and make us believe that here he would make his grand attack. It soon became evident to our generals that he was making a feint on the center and was concentrating forces on the left flank. General Evans was posted on Stone bridge which is on the road leading from Centreville to the Junction to prevent the enemy from turning our flank. The enemy, however, marched dense masses of infantry two miles above the bridge and completely turned General Evans’ flank. He sent for reinforcements and General Bee with his brigade consisting of the 4th Alabama, 2nd Mississippi, and two companies of the 11th Mississippi was sent to Evans’ aid to hold the enemy in check until more reinforcements could be sent to that point.

The brigade was marched by the left flank in quick and double-quick time until it arrived within a mile of the enemy’s line. Here it was halted as the men were much fatigued and very thirsty, having marched about seven miles and allowed time only to throw down their baggage. The enemy’s position was a most excellent one on the Centreville road, commanding the country before them in every direction. We were marched forwarded to a road running parallel with the enemy’s line and about 700 yards from them. Here the order was given to load. Between the enemy and us lay a piece of woods on the top of a rising ground, and a small stream and meadow between us and the wood. The regiment was now formed in line and moved forward, part passing through the wood and part through an open field. On reaching the other side next to the enemy, the regiment was formed behind a fence, the 2nd Mississippi regiment being on our left.

[The original newspaper here is torn and about ten lines of text are missing. It picks up as follows:]

Imboden’s company, which was sent to our aid. We were not long halted until ordered forward. Everyone thought we were going to charge Sherman’s battery and brought his piece to a charge bayonet. When we had advanced within 75 yards of the enemy, the order was given to lie down. It so happened that the ground my company halted on was more exposed than any other position in the line. The Yankees kept close behind a hill. The first one that showed himself seemed to be an officer. I ordered one or two to shoot him. This commenced the fight. The Yankees advanced to the brow of the hill, took aim, fired, and retreated to load so that we had to shoot them while aiming at us. My men were cool and fired with great deliberation. Whenever a Yankee was killed by anyone, you could hear him tell his neighbor, “I got him.” The first one killed of the Lauderdale volunteers was Jesse Zills. He was shot through the breast early in the engagement. The next one was young Bourland who was shot through the neck. The firing was kept up briskly on both sides.

An impression seemed to have seized Major Scott that we were firing on friends, and he told some of the companies to cease firing. I left my position and went to Major Scott and told him that the enemy’s flag could be seen from where we were, and that they had killed several of my men already. On passing to Major Scott’s position, I told Lieutenant Simpson where I was going and why. This was the last conversation I had with him. He was quite cool and did not apprehend danger. He had received a slight wound in the arm but did not quit his position. Shortly afterwards I was looking along the line towards the left of the company and saw him the moment the fatal ball struck him. He never moved; he was shot dead instantly as was Lucious Lorance about the same time. They were only a short distance apart stretched at full length upon the corn row. Lieutenant Simpson was much beloved by all who knew him in the regiment- he was a good officer, a true soldier, and died like a man with his face to the foe.

Part of the first platoon took shelter while loading in the corners of a fence. The enemy, discovering this, commenced to fire on our flank as well as front so that no protection was offered by the fence. We had now kept back the enemy for the space of an hour and a quarter although they were ten times our number and we were unsupported. While looking to the right, I saw the first battalion in full retreat towards the woods. Not hearing the command to retreat, I ordered the company to retreat, having then near one half of our number killed and wounded on the field. Thomas Stone was killed on the retreat and three or four others wounded before we reached the woods. The Mississippi regiment, though not exposed to the fire, had retreated before we did, as also had a Georgia regiment on our right. Thus, we were left unaided and alone.

On reaching the wood, the enemy opened on us with grape while the regiments in our rear fired incessant volleys of musketry. It is a miracle that a single one escaped. The balls flew around as thick as hail. The grape cut the limbs of the trees. Having passed through the woods, two regiments were seen on our right flank as we descended into the meadow; we supposed them to be Mississippians. They were, however, two New York regiments that had completely outflanked us and in a few minutes would have cut off our retreat. They saluted us with a volley of musketry which did considerable execution in our ranks, wounding Lieutenant Colonel Law and killing a number of others. We crossed the branch, found the regiment, and returned their salute not without effect. Here we again were obliged to retreat; the ammunition of several companies being nearly expended, mine among the number.

The first force that came to our aid was a Virginia regiment, part of General Thomas J. Jackson’s brigade. We again formed behind this regiment and in a skirt of woods in a very heavy fire of shell and ball. General Bee joined us here. Having inquired what forces we were, the reply was given that it was the 4th Alabama regiment. He said it was the only part of his forces that he could find and asked us if we would follow him. The answer was “to the death.” We had lost all of our field officers. General Bee then dismounted and faced the regiment by the left flank in order to reach the point where the battle was hottest. Some confusion being shown, as the regiment was entering a piece of wood behind Captain Albertes’ battery, General Bee called me by name and ordered me to halt the regiment and form it. This was his last command. He was fatally wounded by a musket ball and breathed forth his noble and manly spirit on the following morning. He was universally loved by his whole brigade as a brave and skillful officer.

The men were now worn out by thirst and fatigue, and the regiment retired to get water and take some rest. At no time during the whole fight was it from under a severe fire until the enemy was driven from the field. It kept the enemy back until reinforcements were brought up and saved the day. It was a glorious day for the South, but it has brought mourning and sorrow into many a happy circle. Many a wife now laments her husband who fell on that field in defense of liberty and justice. How many fond sisters will look in vain for the return of their beloved brothers? Mothers, oh what a sweet word, are weeping for their brave sons whom they shall see no more until that great day when all shall stand before God.

The cannons roar having ceased and the evening’s shade closing down, my little band would not allow themselves to rest until their wounded comrades were carried off the field. Lieutenant Kirkman, Dr. Armstead, and a few more from my company together with three men from each company in the regiment joined me to go after the wounded. I pressed three or four ammunition wagons to carry the wounded; what a contrast between wagons and the splendid ambulances of the enemy. It was now dark and took some searching to find the place where most of the wounded lay. They were picked up as soon as found and put into the wagons and sent to Manassas Junction about seven miles distant. The last wagon reached the Junction about 6 o’clock in the morning in charge of Dr. Armstead and myself. Some of the wounded were put on the cars and sent to Culpeper, others were put in tents and hospitals.

One or two of my men are still missing. Having drank a cup of coffee, the first food except a Yankee cracker I had tasted for 24 hours, I returned to the battlefield to search for these and also to send in the bodies of our brave dead to the Junction. The quartermaster, however, had attended to this last duty before any of the company reached the field. My search for the missing was of no avail. Christopher Rowell being slightly wounded was taken prisoner and effected his escape during the enemy’s retreat and was safe at the Junction.

The wounded having been provided for, our next duty was the burial of the dead. Their graves were dug in a retired corner of the wood a short distance from the fortifications. The rain fell in torrents during the whole time. Officers and privates worked together until the sad labor was performed. Every effort was made to procure coffins for all, but it could be done as there was no planks to make them. We wrapped them in their blankets and laid them side by side in their graves- a sad spectacle of the horrors of war and a confirmation of the Scripture that “all flesh is but as grass.”

The company and the regiment suffered terribly on Monday and Monday night for want of food and covering from the rain. We had no tents, and the mud was six inches deep. The victory was a glorious one. If the friends of any of those who have fallen wish any further information regarding them, it will be welcome. I have written to most of them, briefly, it is true. I have endeavored to give an impartial account of the part my company took in the late battle. Every man fought like a hero though his comrades were falling fast on every side.

Very respectfully,
Robert McFarland, Capt., Lauderdale Volunteers

Florence (Alabama) Gazette, 8/14/1861

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Contributed and transcribed by Dan Masters

See more on this letter here.

Robert C. McFarland at Ancestry

Robert C. McFarland at Fold3

Robert C. McFarland at FindAGrave





S. S. C., 4th South Carolina, On the Battle

10 09 2020

Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.
Fourth South Carolina Regiment.

Camp Pettus, 7 miles North of
Manassas, Aug. 5, 1861.

In reading the letters of your numerous correspondents with regard to the late battle at Stone Bridge, I see that nearly all allude to particular regiments, and the prominent parts enacted by each of them in achieving that great victory. Though I have been glad to see the gallantry and prowess of each regiment and legion thus chronicled to the world, I have been surprised to see that the very first regiment and battalion which were engaged in that conflict, and who sustained the whole shock of the enemy, unsupported for two hours, have been scarcely mentioned at all. I allude to the Fourth South Carolina Regiment, under Col. J. B. E. Sloan, and the Louisiana Regiment, under Maj. Wheat. As I am a member of the “Fourth,” I speak of what I know. Our regiment, with Major Wheat’s command, and two six-pounders of Latham’s Artillery, had been encamped for four or five days previous to the battle, within a few hundred yards if the Stone Bridge, waiting and watching for the enemy. Before daylight on Sunday morning, 21st, we were aroused by the firing of our pickets. Being formed in line of battle, our regiment by sunrise was lying upon the ground directly in front of the bridge, and covered by the brow of the sharp hill to the left of the road. Soon after sunrise, the long straight turnpike upon the opposite side of the Run was filled with the columns of the enemy as far as the eye could reach. They came within five hundred yards of us, threw out their skirmishers, and opened a battery upon us, feeling with ball and shell around and over the hill to find our position. Our regiment remained here with no other firing except between our skirmishers and those of the enemy, until about eight o’clock, under the immediate supervision of Gen. Evans, whose headquarters were within one hundred yards of our position.

At about 8 o’clock we received a message that the enemy had crossed the Run in large force about three miles above, and were marching down to flank us on our left. Withdrawing without the knowledge of the army in our front, and which was composed of eight or ten thousand men, we commenced a double-quick to meet the column which had crossed above. After accomplishing a mile or more, we came in sight of their long line of bayonets, glistening in the morning sun. Halting, we formed in a small hollow or ravine, with Maj. Wheat’s battalion on our right and a little advanced from our position. The enemy formed on a commanding hill, four or five hundred yards in front, and opened upon us with a heavy fire of musketry, and grape-shot from the Rhode Island Battery. Both the Louisianians and our regiment returned the fire with spirit, and several of our men were killed and wounded this early in the day, or before 9 o’clock.

Soon afterwards, we received an order to form under cover of a wood on our right, and somewhat nearer the enemy. Here we remained for some time, in the edge nearest the enemy, keeping up our fire, and having many of our men killed and wounded. The first reinforcement of which we were aware joined us here, and arrived at 9 ½ or 10 o’clock. It proved to be the 4th Alabama Regiment and some other companies, under command of the lamented Col. Bee.

With this noble regiment, which has been deservedly spoken of for its gallantry, we retired when the fire became too hot to be withstood. We, however, soon rallied, and returned to the fight, remaining in it throughout the day. A large portion of our regiment were in the first charge made upon Sherman’s Battery; and many eye-witnesses will avow that the regimental flag, presented to us a few weeks ago by the patriotic ladies of Leesburg, was the very first planted upon one of those guns. It was done by Major Robert Maxwell, our gallant color-bearer. These pieces were, I believe, taken several times before we finally succeeded in holding them. This much I have thought should be said, in justice to the 4th Regiment and the Louisiana battalion, without in the least intending to detract from any other command. Where all did nobly, comparison would be odious. History will, however, record that we were first in the fray, and, with about 1,000 men, )as four of our companies remained at the bridge as skirmishers and a reserve,) kept 30,000 of the enemy in check for one and a half or two hours.

After the day was ours, and victory had perched upon the new born banners of the South, our regiment returned to its former camping ground, now a portion of the battle-field, and, for the first time that day, partook of a soldier’s meal. Our tents and blankets had also been sent off, and, without either, we were exposed that night to a drenching rain, catching what we could of sleep, and dreaming of the thrilling incidents of the day. The loss od our regiment in killed and wounded as 102 men, our of 700 fit for duty. Among the gallant dead was Adjutant Genl. Sam. Wilks, of Anderson, South Carolina. – Our army boasts no more chivalric and accomplished gentleman. Himself and horse fell within 50 yards of our encampment, pierced by more than a dozen bullets.

S. S. C.

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/8/1861

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“Justice,” 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle

13 07 2020

The Fourth Alabama Regiment.

Culpeper C. H., July 28, 1861.

To the Editors of the Dispatch: – Knowing that you would not intentionally allow injustice done through your columns to any of the brave soldiers engaged in achieving the glorious victory of the 21st at Manassas, I ask sufficient space for a brief statement of facts. In a late number of your paper appears a voluminous letter from an “eye-witness,” of the scenes enacted on the field, with somewhat minute detail of incidents and evolutions, and yet a regiment occupying the extreme left, in front of our entire line of battle nearly two hundred yards, exposed to a most murderous fire of musketry on both flanks, and of artillery in front, which held its position for nearly two hours, and by its obstinate courage contributed in no little degree toward the brilliant results achieved, is not even mentioned. I do not supposed and disparagement was designed, but it is difficult to imagine how a body of men so conspicuously exposed and so terribly decimated, (losing in killed and wounded just half of their whole number,) could have so entirely escaped the attention of your correspondent.

But once during nine long hours of incessant struggle and conflict did this little band even stagger, and then they rallied promptly at the command of their officers. Twice, under orders from their superiors, they retreated a short distance, but re-formed and renewed the fight without confusion or disorder. Some of the privates, in the fierceness of one of the charges, were separated from their company, but they never left the field. They formed with the first advancing column, and fought until the shout of victory arrested their forward footsteps. Their Colonel , Lieutenant Colonel and Major were shot down, and yet the Fourth Regiment of Alabama Volunteers maintained both its position and organism on the field throughout the fight. Colonel E. J. Long*, wounded in both hips by separate shots from opposite directions, now lies at Orange C. H., it is hoped, out of immediate danger. – Lieutenant Colonel Law is here, suffering from a shattered arm, which the surgeons think can be cured without amputation. – Major Scott, (C. S. A., formerly M. C. of the U. S. Congress from California,) is, I believe, in Richmond or its vicinity, with a Minnie ball through his leg.

Thus much I have felt impelled by a sense of justice to say.

Justice.

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/1/1861

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Col. E. J. JONES was mortally wounded in the battle and died at Orange Court House on 9/1/1861.





Lt. William Mack Robbins, Co. G, 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle

25 11 2018

With Generals Bee and Jackson at the First Battle of Manassas

On the afternoon of July 18, 1861, the army of [Brigadier General Joseph E.] Johnston – about ten-thousand strong – which had been for some weeks manoeuvering up and down the [Shenandoah] Valley in front of [Major General Robert] Patterson and was then lying around Winchester, was hastily put in motion and marched off southeastwardly, going we knew not whither. Most of the men belonged to the class which may be described as “young bloods,” sons of planters, reared in ease and affluence – intelligent, merry hearted, high spirited, full of romance and enthusiasm. They had volunteered at the first call, not only from devotion to the cause, but love of adventure, and there was nothing they were so eager for as to get into battle, being somewhat tinctured with the idea that they “could whip at least three Yankees apiece,” and were rather afraid that the war might come to an end before they got the chance to prove it. In spite of their confidence in their general, they had been a good deal chagrined and disgusted at what they deemed his overwary strategy in not delivering battle to the enemy under Patterson. They were therefore greatly delighted to hear the general order which General Johnston caused to be read to each regiment as soon as we got well out of Winchester that summer evening. That order was about in these words: “Beauregard is attacked by overwhelming odds at Manassas. Your commanding general has full confidence in your zeal and devotion and asks every man to step out lively. You are going on a forced march over the mountains to reinforce your companions in arms and save the country.” Loud cheers welcomed the tidings. The prospect of an early encounter with the enemy loomed up ahead and stimulated the impatient spirits of the men to their best exertions. Heat, dust, and night-fall soon made the rapid march disagreeable enough, but it was pushed without a check till we reached the Shenandoah. This river, about waist deep, was waded at dawn of July 19, amidst songs, jokes, and general hilarity. The Blue Ridge was passed at Ashby’s Gap, and at evening of the same day the head of the column arrived at Piedmont Station on the Manassas Gap Railroad, whence Johnston’s forces were sent forward in detachments by rail as fast as transportation could be furnished.

So much has been said about Johnston’s troops appearing on the field in the nick of time after the battle had been long ranging that the impression extensively prevails that none of them were there at its beginning. This is a great mistake. Three brigades – [Brigadier General Thomas J.] Jackson’s, [Col.] F. S. Bartow’s and nearly all of [Brigadier General Barnard E.] Bee’s – were at hand when the battle opened and bore an important part in it all day. The Fourth Alabama and other regiments of Bee’s Brigade reached the Junction at noon of the twentieth and were among the very earliest in the conflict the next day. It was only the comparatively minor number of Johnston’s men under [Brigadier General Edmund] Kirby Smith and [Colonel Arnold] Elzey that leaped from the train when they heard the battle in progress, and, hastening down the Warrenton Pike, came in so luckily on the right rear of the Federals and caused the panic which gave the victory to the Confederates.

I have spoken of the eagerness of our inexperienced but enthusiastic soldiers to see and participate in the battle. The feeling did not diminish, but rather grew in intensity on this occasion, up to the time of actual engagement, and how much longer I cannot say; but one thing is certain – all of us by the time the day was over felt sufficiently amused. Thousands of soldiers on both sides know all about the experience of a first battle, and anything said on the subject would be but an old tale to them; but those who never took a hand, and especially young who have come up since the war would no doubt like to know how a battle looks and seems to a new soldier – its thrill, its thunder, its grandeur, its horror, and no lees its odd, absurd, and even grotesque features. I do not feel competent to paint an adequate picture and description of these things. I doubt if any pen can fitly paint them. A few hints about how this battle opened and proceeded – as the writer saw it – must suffice. The Fourth Alabama were busy with breakfast near the junction when the sudden boom of a gun in the direction of the railroad bridge over Bull Run drew our eyes that way and we saw for the first time the little dense round sphere of white vapor, high up in the air, produced by the bursting of a shell. This was quickly followed by others, the design of the Federals being to draw all attention to that part of the line while they were executing their shrewd flanking movement on our left. However, our regiment, with others of Bee’s Brigade, was at once moved at double-quick towards the Confederate left, to a position that had been allotted to us at one of the upper fords. But we had scarcely reached the designated point when we were again ordered to go at a rapid run for about two miles still further up the stream to meet the Federals – our commanders having just at that moment discovered that they had crossed the stream at Sudley’s Ford, entirely beyond the Confederate left, and were pouring down in heavy force on that flank. All depended on presenting a quick front to this unexpected movement. So we went  – a few battalions only – across the fields at out highest speed, and soon reached the plateau of the Henry House, around which the battle was afterward mainly fought. But Bee did not permit us to stop there. He marked that as the most favorable position for the Confederate line to form its new front on, but he knew his brigade alone could not hold it and he also saw that the enemy would reach it, unless checked and delayed by some means before an adequate force of Confederates could get there to oppose them. To gain the needed time it was necessary to risk the sacrifice of the two and a half regiments then with him by a bold movement still further to the front. He could not hesitate. So he ordered the Fourth Alabama, Second Mississippi, and Eleventh Mississippi (two companies) to move half a mile further forward to the next ridge to engage the enemy and delay them as long as possible. Down the slope we rushed, panting, breathless, but still eager because ignorant of the desperate crisis which had doomed us to probably destruction to save the whole army. As we passed the little rivulet below the Stone House, the duel of the artillery began and the shells of friend and foe shrieked wildly above our heads. Mounting the hill and entering the copse of timber north of the Stone House, we began to hear a sharp cracking of musketry ahead of us – a collision  between the Federals and some small bodies of Confederates we had not known were there before, among them [Major C. R.] Wheat’s Louisiana Tigers, wearing the zouave uniform.

As we emerged from the little wood we caught sight of these Tigers, utterly overwhelmed and flying pell-mell, most of them running off to our right and toward the stream (Bull Run). This and their zouave uniform, which we had never before seen, but had heard some of the enemy wore, for a minute caused us to mistake these “Tigers” for Federals and as they were flying in disorder, some of our men set up a loud yell and shout of victory, supposing the enemy were already routed and retreating, whereupon one ardent fellow of the Fourth Alabama, with his finger on the trigger and anxious to pull down on somebody before they all got away, burst out with: “Stop your darned hollerin’ or we won’t get a shot!” But the mistake was discovered just in time to prevent our firing on friends. A little way further up the hill beyond the timber and we struck the enemy and no mistake. Their long advancing line, with the Stars and Stripes waving above it (which made some of us feel sorry), began to peer over the crest, eighty yards in our front, and opened a terrific fire, which at first went mostly over us. It is proper to mention that the Mississippians, who had come with us, were halted at the edge of the wood behind us, and so did not get into the hot conflict that ensued, the whole brunt of which thus fell on the Fourth Alabama alone. On receiving the enemy’s first fire we lay down and waited till we could see their bodies to the waist, when we gave them a volley which was very effective, firing uphill. The Federals fell back and disappeared behind the crest. After some interval they advanced another and longer line; but the result was the same as before, only they held on longer this time and their fire hurt us badly. A third time they came on in a line which extended both our flanks, and now the conflict became bloody and terrible to us, their balls coming not only from the front but from the right and left oblique, cutting down our colonel (Egbert Jones) and stretching lifeless many a familiar form so recently full of hope and gayety. Then war began to show us his wrinkled front. But we thought of what they would say at home if we flinched and how ashamed we should feel if after all the big talk about whipping the enemy we let them whip us at the first chance. We could see, too, that they were as awkward at the business and enjoyed it as little as ourselves. Besides, it looked like they could hardly help killing every one of us if we got up and tried to run away. It seemed our safest chance to hug the ground and pepper away at them; and so from sheer desperation, as much as anything, we kept to it, until after awhile, to our great joy, the enemy fell back once more behind the crest, and their fire lulled. Our general, seeing we would be certainly overwhelmed at the next onslaught, gave us the order to retire, which we did before another attack. We had been at it for over an hour and had really rendered great service in gaining time for the Confederate army to change front and form the new line. But nearly one third of the Fourth Alabama had gone down in the effort and were left on the ground, including the colonel, mortally wounded. I should not omit to mention that the Seventh and Eight Georgia, of Bartow’s brigade, also came into our advanced position far to our right during our contest, and had a bloody collision with another column of the Federals, and though these Georgians were recalled some time before we were, they contributed materially to the delay of the Federal advance.

The two Mississippi regiments of our (Bee’s) brigade had also retired before us, so that the Fourth Alabama was going back alone. In this movement a bloody episode occurred to us. Retiring by the same route along which we had come, when we reached the little rivulet running near the stone house, we saw a regiment, in column by companies, marching down the rivulet toward us. Their flag was furled on the staff and so was ours. By the quarter we had just come from they thought us probably Federals, but were not sure. As for us, we felt the enemy had got so far around in rear of the place of our recent fight; their uniform also resembled that of the Sixth North Carolina, belonging to our brigade, and we hastily took them for that regiment coming to our aid. Thus encouraged we halted, faced about and reformed our line, intending with this supposed reinforcement to take another tilt with the enemy we had been fighting if they should pursue us as we expected. The unknown regiment also halted and deployed into line of battle at right angles with ours and less than 100 yards from our left flank. Their colonel signaled us with his handkerchief for the purpose of communicating  and learning who we were as it afterward appeared; but we never dreamed this was his purpose and made no haste to respond, feeling confident we knew him, and thinking of course he knew us. All this took place in a few moments. Having quickly rearranged our line, our flag was than unfurled and displayed – the Stars and Bars! Instantly a blaze of fire flashed along the line of our supposed friends (a New York regiment it really was), and an enfilading hailstorm of bullets tore through the Fourth Alabama from left to right, killing many and disabling more, among the rest Lieutenant Colonel [Evander M.] Law and Major Scott, leaving our regiment without field officers.

What does the reader suppose we did? We did not stay there. The position was too bad and the surprise too sudden. True, the enemy’s fire was once returned with considerable effect; but it is only frank to say that we resumed, without delay, our movement back to the main Confederate line, whither Bee had intended us to go when he first ordered us to retire. Having arrived there, even after all they had suffered, the Fourth Alabama still had pride enough left to rally again, and under the command of a captain fell in on the right of the line and fought to the end of the terrible day. I will not now attempt to detail all the incidents that befell the regiment in these later hours of the battle. I will give one, however, which will always be of special historic interest.

The position of our regiment being now on the right of the Confederate line as drawn on the plateau of the Henry House, and the leading design of the Federals during the entire day being to turn the Confederate left, the heaviest fighting gradually veered toward that flank. No one who was there can ever forget how the Federal musketry crashed and rolled in fresh outbursts as new troops poured in against the center and left. Farther and farther round its awful thunder seemed to encroach, as if it would never be stayed till it should rend and tear that part of our line to atoms. Our brigade comrades of the Sixth North Carolina, separated from us in the manouevres of the day, had rushed in single-handed and attempted to check it, but had been smitten as with fire by its overwhelming power and their gallant Colonel [C. F.] Fisher, with many of his men, were no more. Jackson, with brigade, was struggling desperately, and at length successfully, to arrest the Federal columns; but immovable as Jackson and his men stood, the surging tides of the enemy beating upon him with such a mighty momentum that it seemed as if he must give way. Just then the battle had entirely lulled in our front on the right. Our Brigadier, General Barnard E. Bee, at this moment came galloping to the Fourth Alabama and said: “My brigade is scattered over the field and you are all of it I can now find. Men, can you make a charge of bayonets?” Those poor battered and bloody-nosed fellows, inspired by the lion-like bearing of that historic officer, responded promptly: “Yes, general, we will go wherever you lead and do whatever you say.” Be then said, pointing toward where Jackson and his brigade were so desperately battling: “Yonder stands Jackson like a stone wall! Let us go to his assistance.” Saying that Bee dismounted and led the Fourth Alabama (what remained of them) to Jackson’s position and joined them on the right of his brigade. Some other reinforcements coming up a vigorous charge was made, pressing the Federals back. In this charge Bee fell mortally wounded. Bartow fell nearly at the same time and within a stone’s throw of the same spot. Before the Federals recovered from the impression made by this partial repulse they saw Kirby Smith’s men advancing down the Warrenton Pike upon their right rear, as before stated, and his unexpected appearance in that quarter struck them with an overpowering panic and caused their precipitate retreat from the field. The battle ended so suddenly that the Confederates could not understand and could scarcely believe it. When afterwards the doings of the day were recounted among is the above expression, uttered General Bee concerning Jackson, was repeated from mouth to mouth throughout the Confederate army, and that is how he came to be known everywhere as Stonewall Jackson.

In conclusion, as I have set down with an endeavor at entire frankness the achievements, the mistake and the misfortunes that day of the regiment to which I myself belonged (the Fourth Alabama), I may be pardoned for adding a word about how we looked back upon our experience after it was over as a curious illustration of the absurd notions of inexperienced soldiers. Our ideal was that we were to whip whatever we came across – no matter about numbers; many or few, we must put them to flight. To turn the back before any enemy would be disgraceful. Having, therefore, turned our backs to the enemy twice that day, as I have narrated, once under orders and once without, we of the Fourth Alabama, upon the whole, felt humiliated and rather ashamed of ourselves on reviewing what had occurred. It was some days after the battle that to our surprise we began to hear from our comrades if the army and to read in the papers that our regiment was thought to have distinguished itself greatly. Then we began to hold up our heads again and to recall the fact that we had lost more than any other regiment in the army. Finally, we go hold of the Northern newspapers and found where our gallant and generous adversary, [Brigadier General Samuel P.] Heintzelman, giving an account of what he termed our stubborn resistance in that opening conflict, which I have described, had praised us extravagantly, saying: “That Alabama regiment was composed of the most gallant fellows the world ever saw.” This restored our equanimity, and we concluded that if we had not come up to our previous ideas of our invincibility, maybe we had not done so badly after all, and perhaps our sweethearts at home would not scorn us as poltroons. One other profound inpression, however, was left on the minds, at least of some of us, by the events of that day, and especially when we came to gather up the mangled remains of so many of our late merry-hearted and beloved comrades – an impression which was not changed by all we saw in the succeeding four years, or by the lapse of time since, and that was – talk as men about great war-like deeds, heap plaudits on heroes and worship military glory how they will – war is from hell!

Transcribed from Peter Cozzens (ed.), Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volume 5, pp. 41-49. Brackets above are the editor’s. Per note therein, the original article first appeared in the Philadelphia Weekly Times, 2/26/1881, under the title First Battle of Bull Run.

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