Image: Pvt. George Calvin Nettles, Co. C, 5th Alabama Infantry

21 10 2022

George Calvin Nettles at Ancestry

George Calvin Nettles at Fold3

George Calvin Nettles at FindAGrave

Image: Capt. Giles Goode, Co. D, 5th Alabama Infantry

19 10 2022
Giles Goode, 5th Alabama Infantry (Courtesy of Alabama Confederate Images)

Giles Goode at Ancestry

Giles Goode at Fold3

Giles Goode at FindAGrave

Image: Pvt. James Lilburn Ustick, Co. B, 5th Alabama Infantry

30 09 2022
James Lilburn Ustick, Co. B, 5th Alabama Infantry (Courtesy of Stan Hutson)

James Lilburn Ustick at Ancestry

James Lilburn Ustick at Fold3

James Lilburn Ustick at FindAGrave

Interesting incident involving Lames Lilburn Ustick

Image: Pvt. Samuel W. Hood, Co. C, 5th Alabama Infantry

15 09 2022
Pvt. Samuel W. Hood, left, Company C (later H), 5th Alabama Infantry. (Courtesy of Alabama Confederate Images)

Samuel W. Hood at Ancestry

Samuel W. Hood at Fold3

Samuel W. Hood at FindAGrave

More on Samuel W. Hood at Antietam on the Web

There are three Hoods showing in the 5th Alabama Roster, all in Co. H. They are S. W Hood, G. W. Hood, Jr., and E. M. Hood. Co. C later became Co. H, sometimes referred to as New Co. H. It is possible the soldier on the right in the photo above is one of these Hoods. See all Fold3 records for Hoods in the 5th Alabama here.

Unit History – 5th Alabama Infantry

10 05 2022

Completed its organization at Montgomery, Alabama, in May, 1861, and proceeded to Virginia. Its companies were from the counties of Barbour, Clarke, Lowndes, Talladega, Dallas, Sumter, Monroe, Greene, and Pickens. At the battle of First Manassas, the 5th was part of General Ewell’s Brigade, but was not actively engaged. During the balance of the war it served under Generals Rodes, O’Neal, and Battle. The unit was prominent in the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia from Williamsburg to Cold Haror, then fought with Early in the Shenandoah Valley and the Appomattox operations. During April, 1862, it had a force of 660 men, but lost 27 killed and 128 wounded at Seven Pines and forty-one percent of the 225 at Malvern Hill. The regiment reported 24 killed, 133 wounded and 121 missing at Chancellorsville, and of the 317 at Gettysburg, more than sixty percent were disabled. It surrendered with 4 officers and 53 men. The field officers were Colonels Josephus M. Hall, E. Lafayette Hobson, A. C. Jones, C. C. Pegues, and Robert E. Rodes; Lieutenant Colonel John T. Morgan; and Major Eugene Blackford.

From Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army, p. 7

Pvt. Matthew S. Ramsey, Co. D, 5th Alabama Infantry, Before the Battle

17 01 2022

From the Seat of War.

For the Beacon.

Farr’s X Roads,
Near Fairfax C. H., Va.,
July 15, 1861.

Col. Harvey – Dear Sir: – I guess you think our correspondence is about to cease entirely. We are not allowed to furnish any news now for publication. Orders to this effect are continually being read before the Regiments of the Brigade. We are on the advance line of General Beauregard’s army. Our station is fifteen miles from Manassas Junction. We do not know when an engagement will take place here. I am altogether in doubt as to that now. Our Regiment is filled now by a fine looking Company from Barbour county, Ala., Capt. Blackfort. The Flying Artillery Company has not been released from Pensacola. We are now very anxious to have them here.

The ”Greensboro Guards,” who are here, are now very healthy. – We learn that Messers. Miller and Bulger, at Culpepper C. H., are yet pretty sick. These are the only serious cases we have had. – come good men and soldiers will have to be discharged from the service in consequence of prolonged indisposition. I think Messrs. C. T. Briggs and James A. Loster have already been discharged.

On Friday last a scouting party composed of a Captain, a Lieutenant and 15 privates, marched nearly into the enemy’s camp unconsciously. They were immediately nearly surrounded by the enemy in pretty large numbers, who attempted to out-flank and cut them off. The Captain, knowing there was no use in making any resistance, ordered his men to make their escape as quickly as possible. They have all come into camp except three, viz: Robt. Paulding, of the “Greensboro Guards,” Fiquet, of the “Warrior Guards,“ and Walker, of the “Pickensville Blues.”* This is Monday, and we have heard nothing from them. – Paulding, who is the son of Major Paulding, of Marengo county, was one of the best soldiers in our Company. He was brave and daring. He always did his duty cheerfully, and never missed a drill on account of sickness. He was liked by all the members of the Regiment who knew him.

I have no time to write more now. We have received the Beacon pretty regularly since we came here.

Yours truly,
M. S. R

P. S. Judge Moore’s Regiment is ordered and gone to Winchester. Captain Van de Graff’s Company from Gainesvillle is at Manassas Junction. Mrs. Gen. Kerr is at Culpepper attending our sick. She will long be remembered by the “Greensboro Guards.” She is acting nobly. I would like to tell you more about our position, &c., but if any one communicates this, he would lay himself liable to be court-martialed; besides, it would do no good for our friends to know the circumstances by which we are surrounded.

M. S. R.

*A letter dated the 16th, from a member of the 5th Ala. Regiment, has been received here, which states that the three missing members of this scouting party had been taken prisoners. – Ed.

(Greensboro) Alabama Beacon, 7/26/1861

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Roster of 5th Alabama Infantry

Matthew S. Ramsey at Ancestry

Matthew S. Ramsey at Fold3

J. H. C.*, Co. D, 5th Alabama, Before the Battle

16 01 2022

From the Seat of War.

For the Beacon.

Fairfax Court House, Va.,
July 14, 1861.

Col. Harvey – Dear Sir: – Thinking that a letter from the Greensboro Boys would not be uninteresting to the readers of the Beacon, I concluded to write a few lines concerning our whereabouts and what doing. We are near Fairfax Court-House, pleasantly situated, having excellent water, which heretofore has been quite a rarity. We fare finely upon the fattest of mutton, beef, chicken, ducks, &c., which we furnish, of course, ourselves. Our duties are none too severe, though we have plenty to do. Our guard duty is worst of all, especially picket guards, as we have so far to walk, and over very broken and rough roads. Our drills occupy about five hours of the day, but the weather being very pleasant, they are not so fatiguing as they formerly were. We often think of the burning sands of Pensacola, and rejoice that we are so fortunate as to be ordered here.

We have had some pretty rough times since we bid adieu to the sunny clime of Alabama, but we went through them cheerfully, and “nobody’s hurt.” We had one march of seven miles from Manassas Junction to Stone Bridge, better known as Bull’s Run. We remained there only three days, then marched to this place, a distance of twelve miles, which was a very fatiguing march, having to march the whole distance at night. We, however, all got here safely. We did nothing the next day but pitch our tents and sleep. I think the Yankees would have worried us considerably had they attacked us at this time, for I assure you we were nearly broken down. We have been here three weeks, and have encountered no enemy yet, though we know not at what moment we may be attacked. Various rumors are in circulation concerning the advance of the enemy, – some that they are within six miles of us and still advancing, others that they are not less than ten miles from us. Some of our scouts were out yesterday, and found none closer than ten miles. We know very little of what is going on, even in our army; and if we did know, we are not at liberty to make it public. We are certain of one thing, and that is, we intend giving them a warm reception when they do come. I never saw so determined a set of men as we have. Every one is anxious for an encounter with the enemy. We have the most implicit confidence in the courage and good judgement of our officers, as well as in our ability to scatter Old Abe’s band of mercenaries to the four winds of heaven. Our Colonel has no superior in the Southern army, and will lead us on to victory in every encounter. The Greensboro Boys are the life of the Regiment, always in fine spirits, (I don’t mean ardent spirits,) singing and dancing nearly every night. They are now in better spirits than usual, for yesterday was pay day, and we walk about with our hands in our pockets with all the dignity of one who was worth a million dollars and had no poor kin. We had the addition to our Regiment of another fine company of Alabamians from Barbour county, Capt. Blackford. They look the same as all other Alabama Boys, brave and ready to repel the invaders of our sacred soil.

There is not much sickness in camp at this time, the measles have pretty well given out, there not being enough to go all around. – Very few deaths occurred in the Regiment, three since we have been here, and they from the imprudence of considering themselves well too soon after an attack of measles. We have Divine service every Sabbath, which is always well attended, and great interest taken in it. The boys to-day are variously occupied – some collecting in groups discussing the news of the days, others singing, and still others, and by far the majority, pouring forth the contents of a full heart to those loved ones far away – parents, sweet-hearts and friends. We often think of them and wish to see them, but knowing the cause in which we are engaged, we cheerfully submit to the toils and privations of a soldier’s life. We wish them all well, and if it should fall to our to never again to return to the dear ones at home, let them take consolation in knowing that we fell in defence of all we held most dear to us, and died face to face with the enemy.

J. H. C.

(Greensboro) Alabama Beacon, 7/26/1861

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*Likely Pvt. John Henry Cowin, also a diarist.

Roster of 5th Alabama Infantry

John Henry Cowin at Ancestry

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James D. Webb*, Acting Quartermaster, Co. D, 5th Alabama Infantry, On the Retreat to Bull Run and the Battle

15 01 2022

From the Seat of War.

For the Beacon.

Head-Quarters, 5th Regiment,
Ala. 12m Vol., Union Mills Station,
Fairfax Co., Va., July 29, 1861.

Mr. John G. Harvey – Dear Sir: – Since my last letter to you an order has been given by the General commanding the army that neither officers or privates must, for the future, write either for publication or private information the movements of the troops. This will circumscribe my correspondence, and prevent me from communicating to you much that would be of interest connected with the movements of our regiment. Our friends at home doubtless will be prepared to give a hearty acquiescence to the command, as it is for the good of our beloved country. Believing that it is not in violation of the order, I can give you, not in detail, however, our movements since I wrote you.

On the morning of the 17th our picket guard was engaged in a fight with the enemy. This engagement was on the Braddock road, some three miles from our camp at Farr’s X Roads. On the night of the 15th Capt. Shelly, of Talladega, with his command, was sent out to reinforce our picket guard. He was on his return to our camp, and was within a mile of the camp when he heard the fire between out pickets and the enemy’s advance guard. He immediately returned to their assistance. Before the fight commenced out pickets captured a Zouave of the enemy. He had with him a large New Foundland dog. He surrendered to a member of Capt. Fowler’s company. In this engagement W. L. Kennedy, of Greensboro, distinguished himself. He stood in an open field and took five deliberate shots at the enemy as they advanced. He killed two men and wounded two others. He was fired at by the enemy as they concealed themselves behind trees. They took eight shots at this noble and gallant boy. – Col Rodes announced him a Color Corporal as soon as he was informed of his gallant bearing. Two others of our company, who were of the picked guard, if not so successful were not less gallant in their bearing. George Nutting showed that he was brave and cool – his gun failed to fire – he stood unmoved by the fire of the enemy. The other was Joe Wright. He stood their fire and doubtless brought down his man. Since the fight of the 21st we have heard through prisoners taken in the battle, that we killed some 60 or 70, amongst the number several field officers, one Captain and two Lieutenants. The damage on our side was two men wounded – one a private in Capt. Shelly’s company, had the rim of his left ear cut off; the other a private of Capt. Fowler’s company, was wounded in the leg.

It will be borne in mind that Capt. Shelly and our picket guard made this fight – all honor is due to them – they checked the column of the enemy advancing on the Braddock Road. We were informed that in that column was 2,500 regulars and about 7,000 volunteers.

When the information reached the camp that the enemy was advancing on us, the men of our regiment struck their tents, loaded the wagons, and they were ordered, under charge of Sergeant S. Sowin, (who was lame from gout,) to move two miles to our rear towards Manassas Junction. The regiment then formed, and the Colonel gave to each company orders to march off to meet the enemy at a place some ¾ of a mile from our camp, on the Braddock Road, where we had thrown up a breastwork, all of which was done with as much coolness and deliberation, by officers and men, as they would attend a Battalion drill. As each company moved off, three hearty cheers were given for our gallant Colonel. As the last company moved off Col. Rodes ordered the writer to go to Fairfax Court House and report to Gen. Bonham that he would await his orders at out breastworks. On reaching General Bonham he gave order that Colonel Rodes should retreat. On my return to the regiment the enemy had been checked in their advance on the Braddock Road. Our men received the order to retreat with great reluctance. – As they marched off they gave many long lingering looks behind, hoping that the enemy would overtake us. – The retreat was conducted to McLane’s Ford, on Bull Run, about 5 miles from Manassas Junction. At that place we reported to General Jones, and he ordered us to this place to guard the ford on Bull Run at this point.

On the 18th the enemy advanced on Mitchell’s Ford, on Bull Run. They were repulsed three times, and retired to Centreville, a small town on the turnpike road leading from Alexandria to Warrenton. On the 21st was the great fight near the Stone Bridge, on Bull Run – the bloodiest fight ever made on American soil. Never before was an army so thoroughly and entirely equipped and prepared for the field as the army that advanced on us at the Stone Bridge. In all its detail it was complete. They came believing that in numbers they would overwhelm us. In a few short hours this immense force, with all its armaments, was overwhelmed, shattered and scattered before our forces, like the chaff before the wind. It will tax credulity to take in the facts. This glorious victory was won by the valor of our men. The 4th Regiment Alabama Volunteers, under command of Col. Egbert Jones, bore an important part in the fight. We mourn the loss of many a brave son. – They won a name for Alabama that day of which the most ambitious may be proud. It would be impossible for me to give you an idea of this great battle in the limits of a letter. The enemy fled in terror of our men. They left their dead and wounded, and to this hour have never looked behind them. To their shame be it recorded that they left their wounded to be taken care of by the enemy, and their dead covering acres upon acres to bleach the field red with their blood, or to be buried by the enemy. I could never have believed that American men would have been guilty of such brutality. We captured prisoners without number, officers and privates, and amongst others a member of Congress from New York, Mr. Ely, who came to witness the victory. We took 71 pieces of cannon, some 200 wagons, horses ambulances, arms, ammunition, blankets canteens, and, in short, every thing. As this force, in perfect dismay, fled before our troops, they ran to Arlington Heights and reported that we were immediately behind them. As the roar of the retreating forces reached Arlington Heights they were fired upon by their friends.

We were not in the fight, but were ordered to the battle field late in the afternoon, and reached there after a rapid march of seven miles just as the enemy commenced their retreat. Soon after we reached this bloody field we were ordered back to this place, it having been reported to the General that the enemy was advancing on this Ford. We hastened back and took our position. It is the hardest service we have seen. For four days wand nights we were in the woods without tents or cooking utensils, hourly expecting an attack. On Sunday night it commenced to rain, and continued to pour down all day Monday and until a late hour Monday night. All that time we were without shelter, not even a blanket, and with nothing to eat but hard bread and meat that was broiled on the fire. Our boys stood it well – not even a murmur. On Tuesday we put up our tents, and since then have been quite comfortable. Here we are awaiting orders, and know not where we are to go, or when we will have orders. Our young men are doing well. While some of them have not entirely recovered from the effects of measles, we are gaining strength every day. Our friends may continue to address us at Manassas Junction. Col. Syd. Moore is camped about six miles from us, neat the battle field. He reached Manassas Junction on Monday after the fight.

Our friends must bear in mind that I write under the limits prescribed in the order referred to in the commencement of this letter.

It is not inappropriate that I should say that shoes can procured with great difficulty. Clothing, too, will be hard to get here. The State of Virginia is one military camp. It would be well that thought should be taken as to the way in which our men in the field should be provided with hats, shoes, and a warm suit of clothing by winter. I see that out Court of County Commissioners has appropriated $3,000 for our companies; judiciously expended, it will be of great service.

Very truly yours,
J. D. Webb

(Greensboro) Alabama Beacon, 8/9/1861

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*There were two James D. Webbs in Co. D, one, a corporal, listed as Jr., and another, listed as Acting Quartermaster (AQM). Due to the address as “Head-Quarters” and commentary on supplies in the close of the above, the letter writer is assumed to be the elder (43-year-old) James D. Webb.

Roster of 5th Alabama Infantry

James D. Webb at

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Pvt. Matthew S. Ramsey, Co. D, 5th Alabama Infantry, On the Retreat to Bull Run and the Battle

13 01 2022

From the Seat of War.

For the Beacon.

Union Mills, Va., July 30, 1861.

Col Harvey – Dear Sir: – I guess you have heard all about the conflicts between the two armies in Virginia. – You have also learned, perhaps, that the 5th Regiment of Alabama “opened the ball” at Farr’s X Roads, near Fairfax Court House. Our pickets engaged their advance guard on the 17th of July, four miles in advance of our camp. The Regiment soon marched to our breast-works, not yet finished, expecting to meet them every moment. Company E, scouting under the gallant Capt. Shelly, was sent to the aid of the guards. These parties exchanged many fires with the Vandals, and retreated behind our fortifications, having suffered little injury. We were already ordered to retreat, and finding the troops who supported us, right and left, had gone, the order was executed. We marched in quick time down the Braddock Road, in the direction of Centreville, and reached McLane’s Ford, on the Bull’s Run Creek, about 3 o’clock P. M. Pretty hard march. We removed that night to this place, where we all slept that night without tents, and many of us without blankets. Uon this march, Colonel Rodes promoted Mr. W. L. Kennedy of the “Greensboro Guards,” to a position in the “Color-bearers staff,” for having performed some deed of bravery – killing, I think, as many as two Yankees. On Thursday we were holding our position near this place, and could hear the sharp fighting in the “little fight” at Mitchell’s Ford. On Sunday, the 21st July, we marched upon the field just as the enemy was in full retreat. We were first ordered to flank them, but some mistake made in issuing the orders, caused us to proceed rapidly to the scene of action. If Gen. Ewell’s Brigade had been permitted to open a heavy fire upon the disordered columns of the flying enemy, the route would have been complete. We will not regret this, however, as our brave army had gained glory enough for one day.

The 4th Alabama suffered severely in the contest; yet they acted nobly, fighting after the field officers had been all killed or wounded. I learn that Col. Jones has died since the battle. Maj. Scott is not seriously injured. In the language of President Davis, “This was a glorious but dear-bought victory.” Many noble sons of the South fell on the 21st of July – a day long remembered in the Southern Confederacy.

Thus you see the Fifth Regiment, or, as the Yankees call us, the “Bloody Fifth,” has been for the last two weeks subject to advance and retreat without ever yet being brought into actual service. We have learned, since our retreat, that Lincoln’s troops boast of having whipped the 5th Ala. Regiment with the loss of twenty-seven men, – Glorious victory, that!

The “Greensboro Guards” are pretty well at present. Mrs. Gen. Kerr, who has shown us so many favors, has just arrived in camp. She is from Culpepper Court House, where she attends our sick.

Yours truly,
M. S. Ramsey

(Greensboro) Alabama Beacon, 8/16/1861

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Roster of 5th Alabama Infantry

Matthew S. Ramsey at Ancestry

Matthew S. Ramsey at Fold3

Capt. Josephus Marion Hall, Co. A, 5th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle

12 01 2022

Letter from Capt. Hall.

Near Manassas, July 29, 1861.

Dear Daffin: I received your letter several days since, but times were too hot to reply then. It was the day after the great battle – and truly it was a great battle. Those at home who prate about Yankees not fighting, should have witnessed that battle. Many of their regiments stood until we had literally cut them to pieces. They never gave back until we put the bayonet to them, then they could do as pretty running as any men you ever saw. Our men gave the New York Zouaves their especial attention. Those rascals fought until their regiment was destroyed by the Louisiana Tigers, who charged upon them with Bowie Knives. The Zouaves were astonished and stood still until the Tigers closed with them, then such cutting, hacking, yelling and screaming never was enacted this side of Bedlam. Not more than 200 escaped with sound bodies. As the Tigers closed with them they shouted, ‘Look out, Zouaves;’ which caution the latter would have done well to have heeded.

Wash. Williams was the only man of my Company in the fight. He became separated from the regiment in our retreat from Far’s Cross Roads, fell in with the 4th South Carolina Regiment, and fought from 8 o’clock until 4. He says one gets used to the whistle of bullets very soon. He fired 17 rounds and then supplied himself with cartridge from a dead Yankee’s box.

Our regiment is under Gen Ewell, whose brigade was on the right. The attack was made on the centre and left; and therefore we were not in the fight. We were intended to flank the enemy’s left and attack his rear. About 1 o’clock, we commenced the movement, marched 3 miles and reached a position entirely behind him, when we were ordered to hasten to the aid of Gen. Beauregard. – From this you can see how closely our left wing was pressed. If we could have gone on we would have captured almost the entire army, as we would have been in the rear with about 7000 fresh troops. I think we would have caught Congressmen enough at Centreville – we being on the direct road for that place – to have broken up old Abe’s Congress. All now bitterly regret the order that deprived us of such a glorious chance of hurting the Vandals with almost no danger to ourselves. We marched up the creek to the scene of action, and reached there, after marching about 14 miles in 4 hours, only in time to see a long line of dust made by the enemy on his rapid retreat. If we could have pursued him, we might still have done great execution; but we were too completely exhausted. No one thought the defeat so disastrous until the next day, in fact most of us prepared for a hard fight the day following. We knew they had heavy reserves at Centreville, and supposed the army would rally there. But they were so frightened that they never stopped running from our cavalry until they crossed the Potomac. We took almost every thing they had – 74 cannon, some 500 wagons, hundreds of horses, thousands of muskets, and millions of ammunition, numerous ambulances, &c. – The property we got could not be replaced short of 3 to 5 millions. The field the day after the fight beggars description. – Heads, legs, arms, dead bodies, wounded, &c. lay in one confused mass for miles. Where the Tigers met the Zouaves, that latter were piled five deep in many places. Many of the wounded Yankees lay two days in a cold rain and chilly air, before assistance could be rendered them. Their friends deserted them and we had to provide for them.

Your friend,
J. M. Hall

The (Grove Hill, AL) Clarke County Democrat, 8/15/1861

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Josephus Marion Hall at Ancestry

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