Pvt. Robert LaFayette Francisco, Co. E, 4th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

6 08 2021

The following is from a member of Col. J. F. Preston’s Regiment, to his brother in this city:

Camp near Manassas, July 30, 1861.

We left Winchester on Thursday, with the impression that we were going to prevent the enemy from out-flanking us in the direction of Charlestown; but when a few miles from town we were told by our officers that we were on a forced march for this place to help Gen. Beauregard, and that we must make it in forty-eight hours, which we did, and had some eight hours to spare. We had one day’s rest, when, on Sunday morning, 21st, while preparing breakfast in the pines, our ears were saluted by the enemy’s artillery, and in a few moments a few bombs fell in our neighborhood. This was only a feint.–We were in a few moments on the march, and, after marching and counter-marching, and double-quicking it some twelve miles, we were brought up immediately behind our largest battery to support it, and at which the enemy were hurling a perfect sheet of grape, canister, and every other kind of shot. We soon took our positions and lay down upon the ground quietly for two hours and forty minutes in the hot sun. During this time the pine bushes behind us were literally mowed down, and many of our best men were killed lying there. Three were killed by a bomb-shell within a few feet of me, a part of whose blood was spattered upon me. A little further off five of our countrymen were killed without having moved from their positions. Gens. Johnston, Beauregard and Jackson rode before us and gave us a cheer. Gen. Beauregard’s horse was shot within my sight. After a while the enemy got on our flank, and commenced a brisk cross fire both with artillery and musketry, and I began to think that our case was a desperate one, for our men who were on our left fell back and let the enemy have their position in the pines. But we did not have long to think of our position, for we were ordered to charge and clear the field with the bayonet.–Up we jumped, gave a loud yell, and over the fence and through the pines we went until we met the enemy face to face. We were met at every step with a perfect shower of bullets, and I saw many noble fellows full by my side to rise no more. One shot passed through the leg of my pants, and another through my shirt, but nothing could stop us; on we went until we charged on and over Sherman’s famous battery, and our brave Colonel (James F. Preston) was first to mount it and place our colors upon it. So, let the world say what they will, the Fourth Regiment of Virginia Volunteers took it and held it, though we were aided by the Twenty-Seventh; but they were a long way from it when we captured it. I am told that others claim and have received all the honor of the capture, some of whom perhaps never saw it. We took in all ten pieces, having first killed nearly all their horses and men. The men that we fought were the Brooklyn Zouaves, a part of Ellsworth’s Regiment, and the regulars.–But they could not stand the cold steel, and I never in my life saw men run so fast after fighting as well as they did; for there is no denying the fact that they know how to shoot, and for a long time fought well.

After our cavalry took them on the run, I returned to the field and assisted in removing many of our wounded men, and I never again wish to witness such a scene. The cries of the wounded and dying for help and water are still ringing in my ears. I carried water and ministered to both friend and foe as long as I could. Of the number of prisoners and amount of property taken in this fight, you doubtless know as well, if not better than I do.

I had many interesting conversations with the enemy’s wounded, nearly all of whom said that they had been most grossly deceived, but I don’t believe one word that they say. Some, however, said that they would fight again if they got the chance. I saw many letters that they had written to their lady-loves, telling them to direct their letters to Richmond, as they would be there in a few days. I don’t suppose there ever were men who calculated more certainly on victory than these men; but, thanks be to God, there never were men more bitterly disappointed.

They say that they can fight men with some hope of success, but not devils.

So you see, in the whole matter, the “harmless Fourth,” as we are called, have performed their duty well, and God in his mercy gave us help and put a “panic” into the hearts of the Yankees, and they ran; therefore we ought to give Him all the glory and thanks.

We had, when we went into action, a little over four hundred in our regiment. Thirty-five were killed and ninety-eight wounded. Our loss was, therefore, heavy in proportion to the number engaged. Not one of the company to which I am attached (the Montgomery Highlanders, Captain C. A. Ronald,) was killed, and only six wounded. I am satisfied that nothing but the protecting care of our Heavenly Father saved us from so many imminent dangers.

R. L. F.

Richmond (VA) Daily Dispatch, 8/6/1861

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Contributed and transcribed by Eric Mink

Robert L. Francisco at Ancestry

Robert L. Francisco at Fold3

Robert L. Francisco at FindAGrave

4th Virginia Infantry Roster

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“L.V.H.”, Co. I, 4th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

30 07 2021

Manassas Junction, July 24, 1861.

Mr. Editor:

I will now give you a short account of the important events that have lately transpired at this point. On Sunday, the 21st, inst., we fought a bloody and one of the greatest battles ever fought on this side of the Atlantic. I cannot enter into the details of the battle, but can only give you a description of the part played by Jackson’s brigade, and our regiment specifically. Early on the morning of the eventful day it was reported that the enemy were advancing upon us and that a large column was attempting to flank us on our left wing. So our brigade was put in motion and marched off to support the point of attack. Soon after our departure from our camp, the impudent fellows opened a cannonade just opposite our encampment, actually throwing balls, shells, &c., into it, yet we pushed on, and after a good deal of marching, counter-marching, double-quicking, &c., we halted for a short time in a grove. At that time there were cannon firing all along our line, but the heaviest was on our left, where the sharp rattle of musketry plainly told us that there the work had begun. It was then about 11 o’clock, but the firing had been opened some time before. After waiting for a short time, an aid came riding up at full speed and we were ordered into the field, which was at least a mile distant. Away we went over the hills towards the scene, whilst the din of the battle grew louder and louder. On arriving there our brigade was posted on the extreme left of the line of battle. Our regiment was posted just a few yards in the rear of the celebrated “Washington Artillery,” from New Orleans, which was stationed on the summit of a small hill. This we had to support, and await the order to charge on the enemy’s battery, just on an opposite hill. In the meantime the enemy’s whole fire from his artillery on the left was directed on the batteries just in front of our regiment, and we had to throw ourselves flat on the ground as a protection against the balls, shot, shell, &c., of the enemy’s battery, which came thick as hail just a few feet above our heads, and completely cutting to pieces a grove in our rear. Sometimes they would strike in front of us, tear up the ground, and bounce over our heads, and others would just graze the tops of our bodies as we lay prostrate. Whilst laying there, a fatal shell burst in the midst of our company, killed three of our boys and wounded another. Also we had some others wounded there. We lay in that awful place for at least two hours, during which time the suspense was of the most agonizing character. For our inactivity was a burden, and we expected every moment to be swept into eternity. The batteries in front of us did noble and effective work; and Capt. Pendleton’s battery was there too. After a time the enemy moved some of their pieces still further over to our left, so as to obtain an enfilading fire on our lines. Some of our pieces returned the compliment to them with a deadly fire. And then the strife was fiercest and the thunder of the battle the loudest. A large body of the enemy then attempted to get around us on our left, to take the batteries. But the word was given to charge on their lines. And believe me it was a relief for our boys to go get up from their dangerous position behind those batteries and dash forward in the charge. The Yankees cannot stand a charge, so they did not stand firm, but deemed it prudent to retire a short distance. Then our regiment was ordered to halt and open fire upon them. After firing upon their column for a while – many of the shots telling well – we again charged on them, and that was the turning point of the day, for they broke and ran like fine fellows. We immediately took all of their artillery, there, the celebrated Rhode Island battery. Abut the same time the enemy’s ranks broke along the line and the day was won. Some reinforcements then came in and joining in with our troops, pursued the routed army for about two miles. Then our cavalry put out after them for many miles, captured about 20 pieces of cannon from them, many baggage wagons loaded, guns, &c., which they threw aside in their flight. Our gunners turned some of their own rifle pieces upon them and played most beautifully into their ranks for miles. The road along which they fled was filled with blankets, haversacks, canteens, &c., laid aside by them, as they run like brave fellows. It was a complete rout for them and a glorious victory for us. Those were proud moments for our boys when they beheld our regimental flag wave in triumph over the field of Stone Bridge (the name given to the battle). It was the same flag given to our company on the morning of our departure, by the ladies of Falling Spring, as we gave it to the regiment, being the nicest of any among our companies. Opposed to our regiment were the New York Zouaves of Ellsworth’s regiment and some of the Brooklyn Zouaves; but with such a motto as “Pro Aris et Focis” upon our banner, we struggled hard and finally won the day. Also the rest of our brigade had to engage with regulars, and hence had quite brisk work of it. We gained the day, but it was a bloody victory for some of us. Our company lost five, and had seven wounded. There were also others from Rockbridge who fell to rise no more. Our company buried our dead comrades on the morning after the battle, just where we were first stationed, on the edge of the grove. Poor boys! they now sleep their long sleep in their soldier graves amid the hills of Prince William, where they fell in the cause of Freedom, and in defence of all that is dear to the human heart. On the field of Stone Bridge some of the best and bravest blood of the South was shed in the cause of Southern Independence, sons of Virginia, of the Carolinas and of all the other Confederate States, were there sacrificed upon our common alter and in one common cause. But the enemy’s loss far exceeded ours. I walked over the field in the evening of the day of battle, and where they stood the ground was strewn thick their dead and wounded. Some of the wounded said that we Southern boys fought differently from what they had been led to suppose. And that difference is owing to the difference on our respective causes. Had I time and space I could enter more into the details of the battle. Some of our boys remarked on that beautiful Sabbath morning that we would on that day fight a second Waterloo; and I hope it will be to Lincoln what it was to Napoleon. That it will but herald the downfall of the usurper and the tyrant and inaugurate the bright era of Southern Independence, when peace and prosperity will reign over the land of the sunny South.

L.H.V.*

Lexington (VA) Gazette, 8/1/1861

Contributed by John Cummings. Transcribed by Eric Mink.

Co. I was comprised of the Liberty Hall Volunteers (L. H. V.)

Original Roll of Liberty Hall Volunteers, Co. I, 4th VA Infantry





Pvt. Robert A. Glasgow, Co. H, 4th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

3 06 2015

Manassas, July 22, 1861.

Dear Father,

Yesterday we had a great battle, and won a glorious victory, but it was dearly bought, for many of our brave men were killed. Our regiment, the 4th, and the 27th were in the thickest of the fight. Early Sunday morning the Northerners opened a cannonade upon our right, at the same time, making a show of an attack upon the entrenchments on Bull Run. Dispatches, however, had come to us an hour before that the enemy were moving their main body upon our left, and about eight o’clock the Firing commenced upon our left, some four miles farther up the Run. There was one incessant roar of artillery and musketry. Our regiment and the 27th moved to the scene of action about 12 o’clock; as a reserve to support the batteries. We moved to the right of our batteries, which were placed on a brow of a gentle declivity, so as to fire at the advancing columns of the enemy, whose batteries were playing just in front of us. We were ordered to fall flat upon the ground; here we lay for two hours, I suppose, the bomb-shells and bullets flying over us, and cutting through the pines beyond. One shell struck among the Fort Lewis volunteers, and killed four men. A cannon ball and shell took effect in the College Company, killing three, among the number Squire Paxton’s son William. One of our men (Withers) was very badly wounded by a piece of shell. The enemy, finding they could not carry our batteries, which were making havoc among them, moved one close upon our left flank and commenced a cross fire. Never did officers act with more determined courage than ours at this critical moment. Col. Preston was moving in front of his regiment, unconcerned by the constant hissing of balls and shells around him. General Jackson, too, was riding along the front, urging our men to their duty, his appearance was that of a man determined to conquer or die. Dr. Pendleton whirled his pieces round, and opened a terrible fire upon the opposite battery, pointing the pieces (I am satisfied) several times himself. At this moment our regiment was ordered to charge upon this battery of the enemy, which was supported by their brag regiment, the New York Zouaves. In this charge, James McCorkle, Samuel Wilson, Goolsby, and McNamany were killed. Sergeant John Moffett was shot through the head, close upon the enemy’s battery. Sad to say, I have understood since that Wm. A. Anderson had one of knees fractured. He has been taken to Richmond. Providentially I escaped uninjured, one ball passing through my oil cloth, close to my left side, and another through my haversack. Though repulsed a little, our regiment rallied and carried the battery. Frank Paxton advancing before the regiment, waving his hat, was the first to plant our banner upon their battery. The “red breeches” ran off the field, leaving their men and guns strewed around. From twenty to thirty pieces of the best artillery fell into our hands – part of it that famous Sherman’s battery, with which they expected to sweep Virginia. They have fallen back considerably it is supposed a precipitate retreat. It is said when Gen. Beauregard got to Manassas Junction from the field of battle, he ordered cheers to be given for the 4th and 27th Va. Regiments. We have taken a great many prisoners. I got a glimpse of their army several miles wide, running in tolerable order. It is now about 12 o’clock – has been raining all morning. Everything is quiet. I am sorry for poor Wm. A., and would have seen him to-day if it had been possible. Young C.W. Bell, of the College Company, I understand was mortally wounded, has since died. Utz, from Fincastle, badly, but not dangerously. Our Lt. Col. has a wound in his knee that will make him unfit for duty for some time. I have had excellent health so far. It is believed the Northerners had almost double our numbers; nothing but determined courage on our side gained us the day. I hope this battle will teach them the folly of their crusade against us.

Lexington Gazette, August 1, 1861.

Robert A. Glasgow at Ancestry.com

Transcription provided by John Hennessy





Pvt. John H. B. Jones, Co. I, 4th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

4 09 2014

REMINISCENCES OF A FAMOUS COMPANY

———-

The Liberty Hall Volunteers at First Manassas.

“Old Zeus” — College Roommates Killed by Same Ball.

By Lieutenant J. H. B. Jones

(The following remarks were made on Lee-Jackson Day, 1911, at Lexington, and are reprinted from the Lexington Gazette:)

The Liberty Hall company was organized at Washington College, Lexington, Va., early in April, 1861, and numbered seventy-one members, rank and file. It was mustered into service at Staunton, Va., on June 10, 1861, by Major (afterwards general) John Echols. It spent several days in Staunton, and was then ordered to Winchester, Va., and was assigned to the Fourth Virginia Infantry, as Company I. This regiment was composed of companies principally from the counties of Montgomery, Pulaski, Smyth and Grayson, and was commanded by Colonel James F. Preston, who was a fine old officer, amiable and humane, and ever watchful of the interests of his soldiers. He sympathized with us on long marches and did everything he could to aid the weary. The youthful appearance of our boys brought forth many comments from the bewhiskered mountioneers of the Grayson Daredevils, such as, “Sonny, does your mother know you are out?” or “You may crack a cap on my gun; it won’t hurt you.” “Come home before the kufy bell rings.” These remarks were not very complimentary to us soldier boys, and very often our replies were not given in scriptural language, but it was not long before our critics changed their opinions of our endurance and soldierly qualities. As soon as we had been assigned to our regiment our time was fully occupied in drilling, guard duties and cooking. We were fairly proficient in the first two duties, but novices in cooking. The bread, oh, my! the samples of bread we produced would astonish the chefs of the exclusive 400.

Ted Barclay, one of my messmates, was noted for his recipe for making steak gravy (the only butter we had for our slapjack bread). He never failed to drop the hot stump of a tallow candle into the frying pan when cooking by candle light, and just before it was ready to go on our tin plates.

Owing to the position of the Confederate forces, long and rapid marches had to be made to aid Evans’s brigade on the extreme left. Generals Bee’s and Bartow’s men were hurried forward to his assistance. Then General Jackson’s brigade, after a rapid march, took position on the Henry house plateau in front of the young pine woods and in an easterly direction from the Henry house. The location of the Fourth Virginia Infantry was just in front of the young pine saplings, and the ground before the L. H. V. Co., was slightly higher than the ground it occupied. The order was given for the Fourth Virginia to lie down. The Rockbridge Artillery and some other guns were stationed in  front of the Fourth Virginia and other regiments of the First Virginia brigade. The Thirty-third Virginia was to our left. The famous batteries of United States regulars commanded by Griffin and Ricketts were posted at first near the Henry House, and then advanced nearer to our line. These batteries were pouring a very destructive fire upon our forces. Some of their shots, aimed at the artillery in our front, passed them and struck the line of infantry. One solid shot killed three of the L. H. V.’s – viz.: Sergeant Charles W. Bell. Corporal William L. Paxton and Private Benjamin A. Bradley. The most trying duty that soldiers are called upon to perform is to support batteries in their front. They must lie still, receiving balls and shells not aimed at them, seeing their comrades killed and wounded, while they have to remain passive and restraint their combative instincts until ordered to “up guards, and at the enemy with bayonets.”

A very touching incident in the lives and death of Charley Bell and Ben Bradley may be recorded. They were playmates and close friends when small boys; they entered Washington College together, were roommates and bedfellows while there; in the army they were messmates and bunk fellows, and they were hurried into eternity by the same cannon ball. While the company was being subjected to this terrible ordeal of fire and blood, what can I say more complimentary than has already been said of our gallant captain, James J. White, the towering and loved “Old Zeus” of our college days? He walked backward and forward in front of his line of boys, seemingly unconscious of the deadly missiles flying past him; his words allayed their fears and inspired them with additional courage, and caused Jackson to say of them while making the successful, but bloody charge: “The boys were more than brave.”

Now the enemy’s fire became more distinct and more rapid; the enemy was sending forward fresh troops and more of them. The L. H. V.’s realized that their fighting qualities would soon be called into action. The artillery in their front were opening the way for them by retiring by the right and left flanks; the Federal volleys were getting nearer and nearer; our gallant soldiers were being outnumbered and were giving ground slowly. Every soldier knew that the time for vigorous action had come.

“The combat deepens, on ye brave

Who rush to glory, or the grave.

Wave Dixie, all thy banners wave,

And charge with all thy chivalry.”

The proximity of the volleys, the zip and singing of the rifle balls indicated that our men were stubbornly yielding to the enemy’s advance. Just then General Bee dashed to General Jackson and said: “General, they are beating us back.” Jackson’s reply was: “Then we’ll give them the bayonet.” General Bee returned to his men and said: “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Tally behind the Virginians; follow me.”

In this charge the gallant general was killed, but he had given Jackson a name that will ever live in history. Jackson watched the enemy’s approach closely, and then in clarion tone he called to his brigade: “Reserve your fire until they come within 50 yards, then fire and give them the bayonet, and when you charge yell like furies. Forward, First Brigade!”

Then and there, comrades, was born the rebel yell that ever grew in volume and spirit until insufficient rations cut short our wind and vocal powers. This was the decisive charge of the day, and in the language of Stonewall Jackson “broke the moral power of the Federal army.” The L. H. V.’s suffered severely in this charge. Four were killed, viz.: W. B. Ott, Calvin Utz, H. L. Wilson and C. D. Strickler, and three had been killed before the charge. The wounded were Orderly Sergeant William A. Anderson, Corporal G. B. Strickler, S. H. Lightner, H. A. Paxton. C. F. Neel and Bronson B. Gwynn. Sergeant E. A. Mitchell died shortly after the battle from brain fever, brought on by excitement and exertion in the battle, making a loss of fourteen men. The opponents of the company in this charge were the famous gaudy New York Zouaves. They had the reputation of being great fighters, and were terrible to look at. It was the fate of one of our smallest men, Bronson Gwynn, to meet in a hand-to-hand conflict with one of these big red breeches fellows, who jumped from behind a pine bush and made a desperate lunge at Gwynn with his bayonet. Fortunately, his thrust was inaccurate, and the bayonet only passed through his uniform between his arm and side. Poor little stammering, stuttering Gwynn rallied and extracted his clothing from the bayonet, at once crying out: “Now, d-d-damn you, take that,” and turned loose the contents of his old regenerated flint lock into the upper story of the Zouave’s fez-covered head. Having seen that his work was effective he hurried on to take his place in the charge.

Richmond [Virginia] Times-Dispatch, 2/12/1911

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Contributed by Brett Schulte

John H. B. Jones at Ancestry.com

John H. B. Jones at usgwarchives.net