Pvt. Doctor Z. Hardin, Co. A, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

27 08 2020

The Patriot also publishes a letter from D. Z. Hardin, a private in Col. Fisher’s regiment, from which we make the following extract:

“Our regiment was led into battle about 12 o’clock. We were in the thickest of the fight, and consequently were considerably cut up. Besides the loss of our respected Colonel, a large number of our men were killed. Our regiment, in rushing to the scene of action, were compelled to go through a dense thicket, in consequence of which we became very much scattered – to which fact our severe loss may be partly attributed. This was, if not a rash move in our Colonel, at least a very desperate one, and against which several leading officers of other regiments endeavored to persuade him; but he hearkened not to their counsels, and at the head of the regiment marched us through this dangerous pass, and as I have already stated into the thickest of the fight, where we remained until we were completely exhausted, when we were ordered to move to another portion of the field, after which all who were not too completely exhausted, again rallied and fought valiantly until the enemy were completely routed. The day after the fight I reviewed the field of battle, and such a scene can much better be imagined than described. Acres and acres of ground were so thickly covered with the dead (of the enemy,) that I could have made the entire circuit on their bodies. The wounded were scattered for miles in every direction. I conversed with a number of the wounded. They spoke freely, and curse Lincoln and his cabinet.”

Fayetteville (NC) Semi-Weekly Observer, 8/5/1861

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Doctor Z. Hardin at Ancestry 

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“Justice,” 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

23 08 2020

[For the State Journal.]

Manassas Junction, Aug. 3, 1861.

Editors of the State Journal, Sirs: – Your attention has no doubt been called to a publication in the Standard, purporting to be an account of all that was done by the Sixth Regiment of North-Carolina State Troops on the memorable 21st ult. That statement does certainly far more than justice to one individual, and, by inference at least, great injustice to others. I do not pretend to reflect on Mr. Holden for publishing, as true, whatever facts were communicated to him from what he regarded as a reliable source; but the most charitable supposition in camp is, that the Standard’s informant, whether he be one of those mentioned in the article or not, was not an eye-witness of the whole affair.

In the article referred to, only the companies of Capt. Freeland and Capt. York are mentioned, and the inference is very palpable, that they alone bore the brunt of the battle. Now, if we are to judge from the list of killed and wounded, (which I enclose in full for publication,) and I know no better criterion by which to judge, it will be seen that, while Capt. Freeland’s company suffered as much, perhaps, as any, Capt. York’s loss in killed and wounded is less than that of any company actively participating in the fight.

The following summary will sustain me in what I have stated:

Co. A. Capt. Kirkland.
Killed, 2
Severely wounded, 2
Slightly wounded, 3
Missing 1
Total 7
Co. B. Lieut. Parish.
Killed, 1
Mortally wounded, [1]
Severely wounded, 2
Slightly wounded, 3
Total 7
Co. C. Capt. Freeland.
Killed, 2
Mortally wounded, 1
Severely wounded 10
Slightly wounded, 2
Total 15
Co. E. Capt. Avery.
Mortally wounded, 1
Severely wounded 4
Slightly wounded 7
Total 12
Co. F. Lieut. Carter.
Killed, 2
Mortally wounded, 1
Severely wounded, 3
Slightly wounded, 1
Total 7
Co. G. Capt. Craig.
Killed, 7
Severely wounded, 2
Slightly wounded, 14
Total, 23
Co. I. Capt. York.
Mortally wounded, 3
Severely wounded, 1
Slightly wounded, 1
Total 5

As unofficial reports have reached the people of N. C. through the press, it is due to the regiment and the friends of the regiment that a fair, full and impartial account of its connection with the fight should be published to the people of our state.

Omitting all the details of our march thither, it is sufficient to say, we reached the Junction soon after daylight on the 21st, and in a half hour were marched off at a pace between quick and double-quick toward Lewis’ house, distant some four miles. When within a mile of the battle field we halted in obedience to orders and the men were drilled an hour in the manual.

The regiment was then led forward to the brow of the hill in front of Lewis’ house for the purpose, it was said, of supporting a battery about to open fire from that point, but, for some reason, the battery was removed, and our regiment led to the left, and formed in line along a road on the margin of the woods.

While resting in that position, we were first enabled to realize that a hard-fought contest was going on before us. The wounded were every moment passing our line with the report that the enemy were advancing, and that the shell from Sherman’s battery were playing sad havoc with our soldiers. Shell whizzing over our line occasionally gave to their statement at least an air of plausibility, one of them wounding Col. Fisher’s horse, and another passing through the centre of Capt. Craig’s company. After a little pause, however, Col. Fisher commanded us to file to the left, and, conducted by a mountain officer, led us through a dense wood for some distance, and then filed us to the right, along a little ravine, with thick woods on our left and an old field on the right. Though concealed from our view by an undergrowth, the battery was throwing shell constantly over us as we advanced, and it was only on rounding a corner of the woods that we came in full view of it, planted on the top of the hill in an old field, and not more than sixty yards from us. It was supported by a body of Marines and Ellsworth’s red-legged Zouaves.

Col. Fisher then filed to the left around the corner of the woods, and the following companies in the order of the names – Capt. Freeland’s, Capt. York’s, Lieut. Carter’s, Capt. Avery’s, Capt. Craig’s, Lieut. Parish’s and Capt. Kirkland’s – came into line, faced to the right and opened fire on the enemy. Our men then advanced, firing at will, until, I suppose, they had fired two rounds or more, and many were then within thirty yards of the battery. All this time a oration of our men were firing at a body of men on our left in a little slip of woods, but at the time I speak of, a mounted officer rode in among our men, with no little danger to himself, and ordered us to cease firing. Our Colonel repeated the command, and when, through the united efforts of our Company officers, the firing was stopped, it was stated that we were firing into our friends on the left, and we immediately concluded that it was the 4th Alabama Regiment which, it was previously understood, would support us on that side.

When the smoke had cleared away we perceived that the horses attached to the battery were all killed and many of the soldiers manning and supporting the guns had fallen while many others had retreated, though the stars and stripes still floated over the battery, and some Federal troops were ranged around.

At this juncture, it was that, after a pause, Capt. Avery took the responsibility of ordering a charge, and it being repeated along the line, more than a hundred of our men did charge, and, the enemy retreating in hot haste, took possession of the battery. When we reached the top of the hill, many of the Zouaves could be seen running a distance of a hundred yards beyond, while some had squatted behind a fence in a lane about fifty yards beyond the battery. Upon these latter our men opened fire from points beyond and around the battery.

About this time a fire was opened upon us from the strip of woods on our left, and many of our number, among them the gallant young Mangum, fell. Our hands were tied. We had been told that they were friends, and to corroborate it, they had given us the sign adopted to distinguish friends that day, and some said had raised the Confederate flag. The solders of the 4th Alabama Regiment deny the charge, but with the facts before them, it is submitted to the public to pass judgment. Situated as we were, receiving a fire and unable to return it, our officers advised a retreat and we did give way.

Upon the conduct of our gallant Colonel, suitable encomiums will be passed by persons much more competent to perform the task than myself. I will content myself with giving a plain statement of facts.

He had been from the first in front of his regiment, and when, after the command to cease firing, a portion of his men were giving back fire for a moment, he came down the hill, called upon them to rally, and as they charged, said to an officer, ”you are right, rally your men, it will never do to give it up.” These were his last words. In a moment he swept on with the men and past them, and soon after it is supposed, fell about thirty yards beyond the battery and to the left of it. No one saw him fall, for no one could see him from behind, even though within a few paces of him. He had gone through a little cluster of pine bushes and at the moment he emerged from the other side fell dead. Besides, Col. Fisher had dismounted, and there was nothing to attract attention to his movement. In justice to those companies in the rear, that did not actively engage in the fight, it must be said that some were in the most trying of situations, receiving a galling fire and unable to return it, especially Capt. Tate’s, which was next in front. Maj. Pickett, who was in command of Sherman’s battery on the 21st, but now a wounded prisoner here, states, that when our regiment was coming up the ravine, he started to depress his pieces and rake our line; but we were too quick for him and our first fire killed all his horses and some of his gunners. With this statement before them, we call upon the citizens of North Carolina to aid us in establishing the fact, that we took Sherman’s battery. I may also state, that up to the time we attacked the battery, the enemy’s line in that direction had been steadily advancing, and our Generals were forming a new line some distance in the rear to fall back upon. When the battery was silenced, however, they instantly gave the command ”forward.” After we had retreated about a hundred and fifty yards to an old field, portions of Capt. Freeland’s, Lieut. Carter’s, Capt. Avery’s, Capt. Craig’s, Lieut. Parish’s and Capt. Kirkland’s companies rallied with all their officers, who were not disabled, and Col. Lightfoot, who had been last to leave the field despite a wound in the leg, then bleeding freely, took command, having the assistance of Maj. Webb and Adjutant Lowrie. Col. L. then reported to Gen. Cock for orders and was commanded to support the flank movement, which he did, moving with the left of our line till the final stampede of the enemy that evening. His command, being attached that night to the Va. 7th, slept on the line and returned to the Junction to rejoin their comrades Monday afternoon. This, Messrs. Editors, is a true statement of al that was done by the 6th Regiment, on the 21st.

I must not be understood to question the truth of any accounts of the heroic adventures or miraculous, hair-breadth escapes of any individual, which may have reached the public. Those feats were performed and those scenes enacted, where there could be no witness, but that one appealed to in the courts of justice. I, of course, cannot testify with regard to them.

JUSTICE.

(Raleigh, NC) Semi-Weekly State Journal, 8/17/1861

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Capt. James William Wilson, Co. F, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On His Company In the Battle

13 08 2020

For the Hillsborough Recorder.

Melville, Aug. 1st.

Mr. Hearte – Dear Sir: – I had intended writing you a lengthy account of the fight at Manassas, but was prevented by sickness from so doing. Two days previous to the fight I was sent off by Col. Fisher as Quarter-master, and for that reason did not get into the engagement until about 2 o’clock. As soon as I get better I will try to give you some items which will be of interest to your readers.

In the Standard I notice a letter from Capt. York, which does not give justice to the Company from the Hawfields, which I have the pleasure to command, and I write to-day to ask you in your next editorial to make a statement for them. In addition to the two companies that charged upon Sherman’s battery, under their brave commanders, Capts. Avery and Kirkland, the writer neglects to add the one from Haw Fields. This Company fought bravely through the entire battle, was in the charge upon the battery, and even went beyond it, and at night as large o proportion as from any other Company followed in the pursuit. I can say this without any egotism, as the company was under the command of my most efficient first Lieut. Carter. In this Company James P. Stewart and James Simpson (privates) were killed; Paisley White severely wounded; Elbridge Younger flesh wound in the arm; Samuel Younger wounded in the foot; Jo. Thompson (son of Samuel) marked in the ear. Many others received slight marks, but not of sufficient importance to notice.

The dispute as to whom belongs the credit of taking Sherman’s battery, in my opinion, arises from our not being able fully to identify which was really his battery. That we charged upon and took a battery there is not a shadow of doubt, but whether it was Sherman’s, or a part of it, or some other battery, my impression is no one can say positively, and so many having been taken the confusion may have thus arisen.

I am yet very feeble, but hope soon to be able to return to my post. By making some notice of what I have written you will, I know, gratify your many readers in the Hawfields.

Yours, very truly

James W. Wilson

Hillsborough (NC) Recorder, 8/7/1861

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[The following appeared in the (Raleigh, NC) Semi-Weekly Standard on 8/10/1861, along with an excerpt of the above:

We are satisfied that Capt. York did not intend to do the slightest injustice to the Hawfields company. He had left a blank in his letter, hoping no doubt before he closed his letter, to obtain the names of the other companies that charged upon the battery. In publishing the letter we closed up this blank.

Capt. Wilson had returned home on leave, on account of serious indisposition – hemorrhage of the lungs. We hope to hear of his restoration to health. He is every way worthy of the men under his command, who bore so gallant a part in the great battle with laid permanently the foundations of Southern independence.]

James William Wilson at Ancestry 

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Capt. William Johnson Freeland, Co. C, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle and Company Casualties

13 08 2020

Sixth Regiment N. C. State Troops. – For the gratification of those who have friends in Capt. Freeland’s Company, we are permitted to publish and extract of his letter to his wife.

Manassas Junction, July 23d, 1861.

My Dear Julia: – I am yet alive and well, and so only through the great mercies of God. Sixteen of my brave boys fell around me, dead and wounded, while storming one of the enemy’s batteries. Our brave Col. Fisher fell near me. The battle raged dreadfully for twelve hours. They drove us once in some disorder, but we drove them at last with great slaughter. I hope never to witness such a scene again. Be of good cheer, dear Julia, for I hope the last great battle is fought and won.

I send you a list of the dead and wounded of my Company:

Killed – J. A. Hutchins, Robert Falkner
Wounded. – J. E. Davis, mortally; E. W. Pickett, James Redmun, A. Glen, A. P. Copley, James Copley, William Chambley, W. P. Haley, S. B. Freeman, H. Vickers, O. W. Willett, H. Pickett, Silas Hutchin, Burton Rhodes.

I have just visited my wounded, and could but weep over them. Our dead are all buried.

Hillsboro Recorder.

(Fayetteville, NC) Semi-Weekly Observer, 8/5/1861

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William Johnson Freeland at Ancestry 

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An Eye Witness, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

12 08 2020

Camp Bee, 4 Miles N. E. Manassas
Junction, Va., July 28, 1861

Gentlemen: – I know you would like to hear from us, and as I have a leisure moment now, and a chance to send a letter, (for we have no mails,) I drop you this scroll. We of the Sixth N. C. State Troops, Col. Fisher, were ordered to Gen. Johnson’s command at Winchester, where we arrived in time to join in the celebrated “forced march” across the mountains to Gen. Beauregard’s aid, and which has been spoken of by President Davis as the great military achievement of the age. Yes, sire, we travelled on foot, day and night, without even stopping to eat! We arrived Sunday morning of the memorable 21st., at the Junction, about 8 o’clock, and while Col. Fisher was calling at Headquarters for orders we hear the opening fire. Soon after, Col. F. returned and ordered us to “forward,” and at a rapid pace, we set out for the battle field, without rest, water or food for 36 hours. As we approached, the musketry opened on the enemy (the fire before was that of Artillery) when we quickened our step ‘till within range of the enemy’s guns. Under cover of some timber we formed our line and for a few minutes practiced the men in manner of firing – then loaded and went on.

Owing to the position of the enemy the skirts of timber and the manner of carrying up the Regiment into action by the right flank, three of the extreme rear Companies never could get to “open” on the enemy, although exposed to a heavy cross fire of musketry and rifles all the while. The other seven Companies of the Regiment getting in, had the work to do, and right well did they do it.

In our rear was posted a Regiment of the enemy’s riflemen and in front Michigan Marine, Regular and Zouave Regiments in almost endless number, while to our left on tops of the hill, some 50 paces distant was the Sherman Battery.

On receiving fire from so many directions at the same time our men were thrown into temporary confusion and were ordered to “fall back” into the timber just in the rear and re-form. Col. Fisher again ordered them to “forward” in the direction of the Battery, he leading, some distance in advance. When found, the poor Colonel was dead, 25 yards beyond the Battery. About this time, Lieut. Col. Lightfoot was wounded and an officer mounted came up and ordered the men to “cease firing.” Just here there was great confusion, for there was scarcely any telling friends from foes. Yet the Zouaves with their red breeches could always be distinguished, and they kept pouring in a murderous fire. Capt. Avery saw it would not do to remain there inactive and took the responsibility to order a charge upon the Battery and with a yell the men moved rapidly on and driving the enemy from the guns, took possession – our Mississippi and South Carolina friends could not believe but they were the enemy and opened fire on them compelling the gallant Captain and his brave North Carolinians to abandon the guns – which were afterwards seized by other Southern men. This much is certainly true, that after Capt. Avery took the Battery no enemy ever used it, or was near it, for soon after the Yankees began a retreat which finally ended, as all knows, in a rout.

Many of our North Carolina boys acted heroically, but it would be perhaps better not to name these without explanations, which would be too tedious. It is sufficient to say that the fame of our State will not suffer by reason of bac conduct on the part of the Sixth Regiment State Troops. The loss is killed 16, wounded 64. Total 80. Several of the wounded will prove fatal.

Yours,
AN EYE WITNESS

(Raleigh, NC) Semi-Weekly Standard, 8/3/1861

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Image: Col. Charles F. Fisher, 6th North Carolina Infantry

11 08 2020
Fisher_Charles_Frederick_Archive_org_historyofrowanco00rump_0358

Col. Charles F. Fisher, 6th N. C. Infantry (Source)

Fisher_Charles_Frederick_hat_Museum_of_History

Col. Fisher’s hat worn at First Bull Run, North Carolina Museum of History (Source)





“Tau”, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle, the Death of Col. Fisher, and the Aftermath

11 08 2020

Correspondence of the Raleigh Standard.
—————

Camp Bee, Near Manassa Junction, Va
July 28, 1861.

Mr. Editor: – After incredible toil and hardships, and sleeping on the ground for a week, we have at last received our tents and baggage, and are now snugly quartered. There is no news of much importance; we are simply waiting for another festival on Sunday when the Yankees come to see us again, and when they do come back again, I hope they will come by forced marches so as to tire them, and then stiffen their legs; for certainly they can outrun any race of people that I have ever seen stretch legs over terra firma. It has been said that the yankees will not fight; well, this is a bad mistake, and if any troops come from North-Carolina under the apprehension that they will have no fight, they will be mistaken; for they fought us with a bravery worthy of a better cause for ten hours, and we whipped them by hard fighting. Our men took deliberate aim, and brought them to the ground, and, moreover, we walked right up to them, and did not stand off at half mile distance. Our regiment was led up by the gallant Fisher within 40 yards, and we silenced the battery first fire. The battery was Rickett’s and not Sherman’s. We all thought it was Sherman’s, but Capt. Rickett was wounded and taken prisoner and said it was his battery, and that our first fire killed every horse, and killed or wounded the cannoneers so that he could not fire the pieces. Had it not been cried out that we were “firing on friends,” we would have swept the field.

It was near this battery, and in advance of his men, that the lamented Fisher fell. Our loss of him was a serious and irreparable one. No man ever loved his men more than he, and none labored for them as he. There was nothing that he would not do for his men, even the lowest private in the ranks. While others might pride themselves upon their rank, he felt as a man, though he acted as a soldier. He never was with the Regiment until at Raleigh, and on our way to Virginia his labors were incessant for the soldiers. On the march from Strasburg to Winchester he walked all the way, giving both his horses to sick soldiers, and when we were thrown into line of battle, hungry and thirsty, on foot he went with the men, his hands full of canteens, to show them where the water was – then went back to Winchester, helped to cook our supper himself, and then did the same again at breakfast. These things riveted the affection of the men, and death itself can never eradicate from their hearts the memory of our gallant Colonel, the lamented Fisher. – When we left Winchester on a forced march to join Beauregard, when he read the orders of Gen. Johnson, the welkin rang with cheers, and when he returned from the left wing after reading the orders there, from the whole line, as one man, there went up three cheers for Col. Fisher, that spoke for themselves. His regiment would have followed him anywhere, and did follow him to the cannon’s mouth. Others may have excelled him in the minutiae of tactics; but none excelled him in bravery. Gallant and brave, he almost courted death; but fell in the hour of victory, lamented by his men. He went to the field determined that he would.

“As victor exult, or in death be laid low.”

His last words were “fire on the battery.”

May the sod lie light on his breast; and his memory shall be cherished by his men as one who knew how to die like a soldier.

We are at present engaged only in the usual routine of camp duty, and with but little prospect of a fight, though I certainly should relish one some Sunday soon; but I think they have pills enough to last them awhile.

We have had quite a number of North-Carolinians here for the past few days, visiting their wounded friends, and others to view the battle ground. Already nearly every bullet, bomb, and every thing else have been picked up off the battle field. I visited it yesterday, with some gentlemen from the old North State; but the odor of dead Yankees hand horses was too delicious entirely for me, and I retreated precipitately, as I think every other one will who has good smellers, and better stomachs.

A detachment of Louisiana troops were burying the putrid bodies of the dead Yankees, who had been lying there, ever since the battle, and they told me they buried eighty-two before breakfast; but hundreds of them in the thickets, will furnish food to the black eagles that collect in immense quantities over the putrid carcasses they left to pollute the soil of the South.

Our wounded men are all doing well, and if properly attended, will soon recover. They have all been removed, and I understand the ladies, where they are, are untiring in their exertions to relieve them. If any body upon this earth deserves compassion and attention, it is the wounded soldier, and rich rewards lie waiting in the land of the hereafter for those angels who bound up the haggard wound, and administered to the wants of those who braved the leaden hail storm of Sunday, the 21st. God bless the ladies, we often hear of them out here, and talk about our wives, sweethearts, &c., &c., but we see the agile form of woman, with her angelic smiles, about as often as we do Abraham. But we are coming back to old Wake after a while, and them we will collect the ladies, bring out the champagne, and have a merrier support than Gen. McDowell had at Centreville, and some of us can get as drunk as he. The difference, however will be, he drank before he won his victory, we will drink after.

Some beautiful ladies near Raleigh, gave us a lot of lint before I left. They will be pleased to know that it has been used on the wounds of as brave boys as ever “shouldered arms.”

I should like to see Raleigh again, and many friends, and my humble home in the country with the loved ones there, but –

Tau.

(Raleigh, NC) Semi-Weekly Standard, 8/7/1861

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Charles Fisher at NCPedia 

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Lieut. Benjamin Rush Smith, Co. G, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

3 09 2015

A Letter.

The following letter we copy from the Daily Bulletin, by request, and we think it worthy of a perusal:

Headquarters 6th Regt, N.C.
State Troops, Camp Bulls Run,
July 24th, 1861.

Dear Parents: – Once more I have an opportunity of writing you all, and that after having been exposed for nine hours on a battle field, strongly contested on each side. we achieved a glorious but dear bought victory on last Sunday (July 21st) about 5 miles from the Junction on Bulls Run Creek. Our whole force on the field amounted to near 60,000, while that of the enemy was not less than 80,000, though we only had about 15,000 engaged – the enemy 35,000. The contest began at 6 A. M. and continued with unabated vigor until 4 1/2 P. M., when I saw the enemy flying across the hills with rapid strides. It was the most beautiful sight that one ever beheld to see them retreating with their banners unfurled, and to hear the cheers and huzzas that went up from our ranks. We pursued them for several miles, and that night I slept in the camp that the Yankees occupied Saturday night. Only four Companies in our Regiment were in the chase, (my Company one of them,) the rest being cut off in the early part of the engagement. – We were at Winchester when we received orders to come to Manassas. We arrived here Sunday morning about 6 A. M. I heard the cannonading as soon as I left the cars. A fellow told me that the “Ball” was open, and that we would “get there in time to dance at least one set.” I must say I felt a little queer at first, but fear left me as soon as I got into it. We were immediately marched to the “Ball Room,” and formed into line of battle at 7 1/2 A. M. When we had formed a rifled cannon ball came whistling through my company and passed in between me and the 3rd Serg’t of our company. It was a 12 pounder. We saw it before it got to us and dodged it. You ought to have seen us all squat. It was the first that had been fired at us. I have it now lying by me and will send it home if I can. We were placed in a position where two Regiments had been cut to pieces. The enemy had possession of a hill and we had to advance up a ravine with 2 pieces of Sherman’s battery placed at the mouth of it. We however advanced and silenced the battery in short time. Our Regiment there lost 18 killed and 47 wounded and one prisoner. My company lost of that number 7 killed and 6 wounded, (all privates,) being in the hottest of the fight. After taking possession of it, Col. Fisher advanced beyond the battery some 30 yards, and it was there that he fell pierced with a rifle ball through the head. All the other Officers escaped in our Regiment except Lieut. Mangum, who was wounded; Captain Avery, and Lieut. Col. Lightfoot, slightly. Our Brigadier General (Bee,) was killed. Just before going into battle I put up the most earnest prayer that I ever did, and I know that it was answered, for the balls came by ma as thick as hail stones and the bomb shells bursted all around me, and none but the hand of God could have saved me. I got several trophies off the battle field, and will send some home the first opportunity. It is impossible to give a description of the field after the battle. For 7 miles it was strewed with the dead and dying. You couldn’t advance a step without seeing them; many times I had to step over them. I never thought I could stand such scenes, but it has little effect on me now. I cut a button off a dead Lieutenant (Yankee) Hitchcock’s coat and took his likeness out of his pocket. I got a great many guns but could not carry them. The boy that waits on me got a splendid shot gun and sword off the battle field. This sheet of paper came out of a dead Yankees pocket; it came in very good time as I am almost out. Our cavalry chased them through Centreville and Fairfax also our artillery killing them all the way. I was told this morning that the road from here to Alexandria where they went is lined with those killed on the way, and the wounded and dead they attempted to take from the battle field. Their loss was about 3,000 killed and wounded, and ours was not more than 800. We have taken about 1,500 of them prisoners and they are still coming in. Since I have commenced this letter a Yankee Officer had been brought by, taken this morning a short distance from our camp. We are now encamped on the very spot where we formed our line of battle.

When we left Winchester (July 18th,) we were so hurried that we couldn’t bring our tents, and have been sleeping without them ever since, though last night I had a very good tend made of yankee blankets that they had left on the battle field. Besides the prisoners we took we captured 62 pieces of artillery, 300 wagons, and knapsacks and canteens by the thousand. Our Regiment has the honor of taking two pieces of Shermans battery, the pride of the North. The whole army went to Alexandria with only two pieces of Artillery, the rest being in our possession, and many of the pieces rifled. I think that peace will soon be made now since this important victory. I talked with some of the prisoners, most of them told me that it was not their will to fight against the South; that they had been forced into it, and that they had intended to go home as soon as their time was out. Some said that their time would have been out 1st of August, though I found many who were enlisted for 3 years. We had certainly the flower of the Northern army to contend against; many of them being of the regular U. S. Army, commanded by Generals Scott, McDowell and Patterson. Scott was not on the field himself the day of the battle, but one of the wounded Yankees told me that he reconnoitered the day before, and that he told the soldiers to fight like men and on next Tuesday he would insure them a dinner in Richmond; that he intended to make that place his headquarters. Well he told the truth, for 1,500 will eat there but only as prisoners. We are under orders to march this evening for parts unknown to myself, though I think it very probable it is towards Alexandria.

Jeff Davis now commands the army in person. I saw him the evening after the battle; he made us a short speech.

It was remarked in camp this morning that a flag of truce had been sent by Scott to Davis proposing to treat of peace although it may only be a rumor. I hope it is not for I never want to see such another slaughter as was on last Sunday.

Our Colonel being killed Lieut. Colonel Lightfoot will take his place.

We buried our dead Monday evening on the battle field. The Yankees have been lying there till to day when part of them were buried, though there are now hundreds of them lying where they fell, and a great many horses.

Your affectionate son,

B. Rush Smith

[Charlotte] North Carolina Whig, 8/6/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

B. R. Smith in 6th NC Roster

B. R. Smith brief sketch here, and more detail here.





Captain Richard Watt York* (4), Co. I, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

27 08 2015

The Battle of Manassas.

The North Carolina Standard (extra) has a letter from an officer of the late Col. Fisher’s Regiment giving an account of the participation of the Sixth North Carolina Regiment in the battle, and relating some interesting incidents of the engagement. He says

The battle commenced in the morning, with heavy cannonading on the right and centre, both sides maintaining their positions. The dull booming of the cannon was distinctly heard by us as we were disembarking from the cars; and, as soon as that was done, our Regiment was formed and moved off in quick time, notwithstanding our weary march from Winchester; and, though tired and apparently exhausted, yet, the terrible cannonading in the centre and on the right nerved every arm, brightened every eye and quickened every step. On we went through the dust that rose in clouds, until we reached a point when we filed to the left to a spring, where our canteens were filled with fresh water by companies; and, as each company received its water, were marched to the shade, and allowed to lied down and rest.

After the watering operation was finished, we proceeded, and were halted under cover of a hill in rear of one of our batteries, and ordered to load and rest, and immediately we loaded and laid our weary limbs upon the grass, and many fell into a doze, notwithstanding the battle was raging around us; but men who had not slept for three nights on a forced march could sleep anywhere. This was about seven o’clock, and the sun shone brightly, and the cannonading became more intense, dense clouds of smoke rose from the opposite hills, the earth shook with the awful thunder, and continued to wax hotter and hotter, when almost instantaneously the men cried out, “Colonel Fisher, we’re ready.” He replied: “I know that.” Suddenly his clear voice rang out, “Attention!” when every man spring with new life to his place in the ranks, shouldered his musket, and at the command “Forward, march,” we moved briskly up the hill, and formed a line of battle in rear of one of our batteries, where we could see distinctly the columns of smoke rising up from the enemy’s batteries on the opposite hills, while the balls were whistling around us.

Suddenly we shifter position further to the left in a road running by a thick wood, and still the balls were whistling over us. A slug from a rifled cannon passed through our ranks, but there was no wavering, but intent on the attack, you could read on every brow the stern resolve to conquer or die. Here we stood resting on our arms, with the wounded lying around us, and ever and anon some one would breathe his last; when again rang the clarion voice, and led by our gallant Colonel, we filed through the dense tangled undergrowth, and sped onward until we struck a ravine which led directly up to Sherman’s Battery**, and were halted with the two right flank companies, under Capts. Freeland and York, within forty yards of the guns and a Regiment of the United States army supporting them, when the command of fire was given, when we silenced the battery at the first fire. Capts. Kirkland and Avery led the men around the point of woods and charged the battery and drove every man from the pieces. About this time some officer cried out to cease firing, as we were firing into our own men.

Exposed to a raking fire from the enemy, and fired into by our friends, Colonel Fisher ordered us to retreat, which was done in some disorder, owing to the cry that we were firing into friends; and it was here that the gallant Colonel Fisher fell in front of the battery, leading on his men to the charge. He was shot through the head with a ball. May he rest in the soldier’s Heaven; for a nobler, braver, more gallant man never led a column to victory.

That portion of the Regiment rallied by the gallant Lightfoot and Webb pitched into the hottest of the fight and joined in the final charge, when the enemy were pit to a precipitate flight, and joined in the pursuit for several miles. No more gallant spirits strode over that field than Lieutenant Colonel Lightfoot and Major Webb. The remainder of the Regiment, under different officers, fell in with other Regiments and fought to the last. No Regiment behaved with more bravery and gallantry than the North Carolina Sixth Infantry on that memorable field. Led up into the hottest of the fight, within a few yards of a battery that was raking our army, they delivered their fire with the deadliest precision. Our loss was about sixty killed and wounded. Among the officers, our gallant Colonel Fisher fell early in the attack. Lieutenant Colonel Lightfoot was wounded in the calf of the leg, but never stopped, although on foot, as were all our field officers. Captain Avery was shot in the leg, but, like a brave man as he is, never left the field. Lieut. W. P. Mangum was severely wounded in the left side. The report that Major Webb was killed is untrue; though exposed to a most terrible fire, he escaped uninjured.

Several regiments claim the honor of silencing and taking this battery. It was taken by the 6th Infantry N. C. State Troops. The regiment, as I have stated, was led up within 40 yards of it, and their fire silenced it, and Col. Lightfoot, Maj. Webb, Captains Kirkland, Avery, and Lieutenants Avery and Mangum, marched right up to it with their men, and passed beyond it, and received a galling fire from the left, when they were ordered to cease firing and fall back. Maj. Webb was resting on one of the pieces, facing the fire, and our men retreated in good order, all the while delivering their fire.

About sunset, the enemy were charged by our army, and put in disorder, and ran like turkeys, pursued by our infantry, cavalry and artillery for several miles, until darkness stopped them. Our Regiment was in the charge, under Col. Lightfoot and Major Webb.

“To the victors belong the spoils,” and in this case they were enormous. Sixty-odd pieces of cannon, every piece they had but two, a large amount of small arms, a church full of knapsacks, blankets, ammunition, haversacks, &c., &c., with which our men are abundantly supplied.

Some twelve or fifteen hundred prisoners were taken, and a large number of officers.

Our loss was considerable, though I do not know how many we had killed and wounded – though very considerable; for it could not have been otherwise, fighting from sunrise until dark. Though our loss is not near so great as we at first supposed. The loss of the enemy is enormous; for they received our deadly shots with a bravery worthy of a better cause.

I visited the field after the battle, and it was indeed a sickening, heart-rending sight. The enemy lay piled in heaps, and horses strewn all along. I counted forty horses in a distance of fifty yards. Around Sherman’s batteries, where our Regiment fired, every horse and cannoneer was killed, and lay in one indiscriminate heap. All overt the battle field were strewed the dead and dying. Some had placed their arms under their heads as they went to their last sleep. Others folded their arms across their breasts, some with features distorted with fists clenched as they wrestled in the agonies of death; others wore the calm, placid smile which should grace the face of a soldier dying in a glorious cause. In the little clump of cedars the wounded had crawled and died, and lay there in ghastly heaps.

Our dead were buried with the honours due them and our wounded removed to different places in the interior, where they will be properly attended to .

Richmond Examiner, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

* While the author is not identified in this article, the passage regarding the taking of “Sherman’s Battery” is identical to that authored by Capt. York and printed in the 8/6/1861 Fayetteville, North Carolina Observer and transcribed here.

** Sherman’s (Ayres’s) Battery (Co. E, 3rd US) was nowhere near the 6th NC, and in fact did not cross Bull Run. The author is here referring to a section of Griffin’s West Point Battery (Co. D, 5th US.) Sherman’s Battery was from the time of the Mexican War a very well-known battery, and was reported in many areas of the field by both Confederate and Union participants, nearly always in error. This battery is sometimes also referred to by historians as William. T. Sherman’s battery and, while it was attached to that colonel’s brigade, it derived it’s title not from him but from past commander Thomas. W. Sherman.

R. W. York at Ancestry.com 





Unknown Private, Co. I, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

17 08 2015

Correspondence of the Raleigh Standard.

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Bull Run, July 28, 1861.

Mr. Editor: The following are the incidents of Capt. York’s company in the late battle. His company was next to the right flank of the Regiment, and exposed to the hottest fire in the engagement, on the left flank. For two miles the roar of musketry was incessant, and we were opposed to Rickett’s battery, and Massachusetts and Minnesota regiments of Volunteers. The company was ordered to fire on the battery, which was about 40 yards from us, and silenced it the first fire, killing every horse, as Captain Rickett himself said after the battle, he being wounded and taken prisoner. Then we received a cross-fire from the infantry, when we were ordered by Capt. York to load and fire kneeling; then came the order to retreat, as a Staff officer cried out that we were firing on our friends, but in reality, they were enemies; this caused considerable confusion, and Col. Fisher being shot in advance of his men, a large portion of the company rallied, and fell in with another regiment which was contending at the same point. Capt. York passed many hair-breadth escapes in rallying his men. Having rallied a small portion of them he found that his Regiment had moved off, and the enemy had taken their place; finding it necessary, he here contended with the enemy, and succeeded in cutting his way through and attaching himself to another Regiment. While ascending the hill, a single Yankee raised his rifle, when he shot him in the shoulder with his pistol, and when he brought his piece to a “ready,” shot him a second time through the heart, and taking his rifle, used it with good effect the remainder of the day.

Lieut. M. W. Page behaved most gallantly, and rallying a portion of his men, brave like himself, fought a guerilla warfare, with good effect. Taking his large pistol, he used it as a rifle, and brought down several of the Yankees. Passing through many close places, he had his sword shot away, and now goes on drill swordless. He was one of those who went up to Rickett’s battery.

Lieut. M. B. Barbee was perfectly cool during the action, and fought like a brave soldier, and managed his command as though on drill. In returning to the ground at first occupied, he had his pistol in his hand, which was shot out of his hand by a Minnie ball; he was not hurt, except the shock. He wore a large star on his hat, which was fired at several time, but did not hit it. Lieut. Allen being sick, was left behind at Winchester.

Harmon Sears, 1st Serg’t., while fighting bravely, was severely wounded by a ball in the side and arm. After which, having boldly told some Yankees that he was a Southerner, they brutally beat him over the heat with the butt of a musket, and bayoneted him, and doubtless left him for dead – but he is improving, and will no doubt get well.

Serg’t. John W. Wilder, during the action, was shot through the fleshy part of the thigh, and is improving. Private J. T. Morris was shot through the bowels, and it is believed to be a mortal wound. Private Jas. H. Moring was shot in the thigh, breaking the bone, and is doing well. Private J. D. Ausley was shot slightly in the thigh, but was not disabled, whereupon he remarked, “D–n you, you’ve burnt me – have you?” and immediately he shot down a fine gray horse, using it as a breastwork for himself, alone – and at a distance of 20 yards from the enemy, he made every ball tell. – His musket was also shot below the tail-band.

Private Wh. H. Lyon had his musket shattered in his hands, by a grape shot. Private J. T. Taylor had his cap-brim shot off. Serg’t. C. L. Williams had his sword shot off, cutting away a piece of his coat. Private James. W. Young shot down the ensign who held the “stars and stripes,” the first fire. Private Dennis Warren had his shoe-heel shot off.

Of all the men in the company no man did more deliberate fighting than Wm. G. Clements, and none whose shots took more effect upon the enemy and the horses of the battery. In short, all the men behaved well – several having their bayonets, cartridge boxes, &c., shot off. The battery taken by our Regiment was not Sherman’s, but Rickett’s.

The [Raleigh] North Carolina Standard, 8/3/1861.

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Contributed by John Hennessy