Lt. Melvin Dwinell, Co. A, 8th Georgia Infantry, On the Dedication of the Bartow Monument and Revisiting the Field

1 12 2022

Camp Bartow, near Manassas, Va.,
September 5, 1861.

Dear Courier: The events of yesterday were exceedingly interesting to the second Brigade of this Division of the Confederate Army, and their memory, tinged with sacred tenderness, will ever be cherished, by the brave hearts who witnessed them, with feelings of hallowed joy.

The occasion was that of marking, in a proper way, and with suitable ceremonies, the place where Bartow fell. At the instance of some of their officers, the members of the 8th Georgia Regiment, had procured a small marble shaft for this purpose, and the other Regiments of the Brigade – the 7th, 9th, and 11th Georgia, and the Kentucky Regiments – had been invited to join them in this act of respect and commemoration. Accordingly, these commands left their respective encampments at about 8 o’clock, yesterday morning, and marched separately to the battle-ground – a distance of seven miles – where they arrived between 10 1/2 and 11 o’clock. After stacking arms, the various Regiments were dismissed until the necessary arrangements could be completed for raising the shaft, or, perhaps, it would be more properly called a post.

Only the 7th and 8th Regiments of this Brigade were in the battle of July 21st, and to the members of these corps, this re-visiting the place of their strife and glory, was on of deep and strange interest, with commingling emotions of joy and sorrow. As they walked over the field, the sight of nearly every point in it would, by association, bring to vivid remembrance, some exciting scene in the awful tragedies of that eventful day. Here one stood when he heard the first cannon ball pass in fearful nearness to himself; there he saw such a friend fall – his imploring look, and outstretched arms; yonder was the enemy’s battery, and how their angry mouths belched forth the livid streams; what a shout there was when such a Regiment advanced to that point; how the heart sunk when our forces fell back there, how the enemies balls made the dirt fly around us as we passed along here; how good the muddy water in this little branch looked when we double-quicked across it; what horrid anxiety there was to know whether the Regiment yonder were friends or foes; here a cannon ball was dodged; there a bursting shell avoided; there was seen A leading off B, who dragged one leg; here came C, supported between D and E, and so awful bloody in face; yonder laid F with his hand significantly on his breast, and at various points round about, were friends and strangers, lying fearfully still, some on their faces, some on their backs, some with folded arms and legs drawn up, and others with outstretched limbs. Still, we pass on, finding distances, strangely different from what they seemed on that fearful day, seeing several houses, not many hundred yards distant, that were not then noticed, and finding many natural objects strangely out of place. Each one, naturally, seeks the place where his own Regiment had its severest struggle. Arrived there, he sees and hears once again, the indescribable scenes of bloody carnage, and fearful horror, which his memory now presents with most painful distinctness. He imagines that he again hears the whiz-z-z-z of the cannon ball – the zip–zip-zip-p-p-p of the musketry charge, and the quick whist, whist of the rifles. He sees where this and that friend stood, and where the other fell.

But the roll of the drum reminds us of our wandering, both physical and mental, and we’re returned to the place where the gallant Bartow fell, to witness the interesting ceremonies that was about to be performed. It was 2 o’clock P.M., on the ever memorable 21st, when this gallant and much beloved commander, breathed his last, and his noble spirit took its flight from a field of bloodiest strive to realms of eternal peace and rest. He fell about 300 or 400 yards of the South-west corner of the battle-field, and within 100 yards of where his Regiment was first exposed to the enemy; just at the very crisis of the battle, after our forces had been compelled to give way again and again and was just there regaining some of their lost ground. But a moment before he was killed, he had taken the colors of the 7th Georgia Regiment in his own hands, advanced some distance toward the enemy, and in the face of their fire, planted them, and rallied the men forward to this new line, which he told them Beauregard had commanded that they should hold at all hazards. In this immediate vicinity and at that time, was the last desperate struggle before the final route of the enemy. Gen. Bee was killed about 150 yards to the right of where Bartow fell, and Col. Fisher, of one of the North Carolina Regiments, about 250 yards in front after the Lincolnites had commenced retreating. Those three brave officers all fell in a short space of time.

The preliminaries being arranged, a hollow square was formed around the place where the stone was to be erected, by the four regiments composing the 9th Brigade, commanded by Col. Bartow, with the staff officers in the centre. The officers were ordered in front and the Brigade brought to parade rest. The sight here presented, was duly impressive, grand and patriotic. There was something really exhilarating in the idea of these thousands of sun-burnt and hearty soldiers, who have endured the hardships and privations of a campaign already long; who have resolutely performed long, forced marches and murmured not at the attendant hunger and fatigue; and who, with unblanched cheeks have met the most unplacable of foes in the storm of battle, and, even against great odds, and put them to glorious flight – for such brave men, whose very appearance gives incontestable evidence of long and severe service, to assemble for the enobling and patriotic purpose, of honoring the memory and perpetuating the good deeds of their commander, is a fit crowning act of their many virtues. When those ranks stood, apparently, in serious contemplative mood, their sorrow was sweetened by heaven-borne music with its soft and mellow strains. The band played a beautiful funeral march, and the time and its fine execution were so completely in harmony with, and so tenderly touching to the finer feelings, that the “pearly drops were seen to course each other” down many a bronzed cheek.

The ceremonies were then continued in the following order:

2d – Prayers by Rev. John Jones, Chaplain of the 8th Georgia Regiment.
3d – Music – “Camping at Grenada.”
4th – Address by Hon. Mr. Semmes, Attorney General of the State of Louisiana.
5th – Music – “Let me kiss him for his mother.”
6th – Address by Maj. J. L. Cooper, of 8th Georgia Regiment.
7th – Music – “The Marseillais Hymn.”
8th – The putting of the Post in its place by Brig. Gen. Jones, assisted by the commanders and portion of the Staff Officers of the different Regiments.

The Music by the band, belonging to the 1st Regiment Georgia Regulars, was most excellent – by far better than any other band we have been in the habit of hearing in the service. The prayer was peculiarly appropriate, and offered in that chaste and pathetic style, so characteristic of our faithful and most beloved Chaplain. Of the speech by Mr. Semmes, I cannot give even a synopsis, without prolonging this letter to an unreadable length. He was pleased at having an opportunity to express the sympathy of Louisiana with Georgia, and all the other Confederate States, in their present troubles, and to assure the hearty co-operation of his own State, in all the necessary sacrifices, struggles and labors to secure our independence. He said our independence had been virtually achieved, by the bloody victory of July 21st, but we must maintain the prestige then gained, suffer no defeats but continue our onward march. He said England and France would not interfere in our behalf, until it should be known that we needed none of their help. He compared our privations and sufferings with those of our revolutionary ancestors, and showed how comparatively insignificant they are, while the independence we shall obtain will be almost transcendently more important, and prospectively glorious. The heroes of ’76 relieved themselves of the yoke of a single King, held in check by our enlightened christianity, and wholesome constitutional constraints. But we will be released from the tyrannies of a fanatical pagan, skeptical mob of abolitionists. He closed by paying a beautiful tribute to Col. Bartow, and said that in his death was particularly realized the beautiful saying of the Latin poet, “dulce et decora pro patria mori,” it is sweet and honorable to die for ones county.” He said he need not exhort Confederate soldiers not to prove recreant, but in times of severe struggle it be well to remember the dying words of their gallant commander and “never give up the fight.”

Maj. Cooper’s speech was short but full of pathos. He had not intended to speak, but thought some Georgian ought to raise his voice on this interesting occasion, in commemoration of the virtues of one of her most brave and gallant sons. He made a most interesting allusion to the dying words of our lamented commander, uttered, as they were, as the tide of battle was turning in our favor, and he exhorted the men that however severe their hardships might be, or however desperate the struggle, to remember the dying words of our late, lamented and much beloved commander, and “never give up the fight.”

The Shaft is plain white marble, six feet long, four feet above the ground and about eight inches in diameter at the top. The inscription on it is,

Francis S. Bartow
“They have killed me boys,
But never give up the fight.”

After lowering the stone into its place, each one of the Staff Officers, threw a few spades of dirt around it. When they were through, a beautiful young lad, Miss Barber, living in the vicinity, stepped forward, and taking up a handful of dirt, threw it in. This tribute, thus beautifully paid, was heartily cheered by the soldiers. Mrs. Branch, of Savannah, the mother of our lamented Adjutant, being present showed her appreciation of the departed hero in the same way.

These ceremonies being over, we soon took up our line of march for Camp Bartow, where we arrived about sundown, much fatigued, but well pleased with the manner in which the day had been spent.

Sept. 6. For the past two weeks our forces have been gradually moving on towards Washington. Adjutant Harper has gone out this morning with Gen. Jones to look or a camping ground in the vicinity of Centreville, some 8 miles from here, a little west of North and due North from Manassas. Centreville is 26 miles from Alexandria. There is more or less skirmishing every day, in the vicinity of Alexandria. A grand battle is expected soon.

M. D.

From Dear Courier: The Civil War Correspondence of Editor Melvin Dwinell, pp. 66-68

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Lt. Melvin Dwinell, Co. A, 8th Georgia Infantry, On His Feelings Under Fire

30 11 2022

Camp Bartow, near Manassas,
August 13, 1861.

Dear Courier: As everything in the way of news, incidents, accidents, &c., pertaining to the great battle of the 21st, is eagerly sought for by all who have relatives or friends in the Confederate Army, and as this includes nearly every family member in the country, the writer of this is so presumptious as to undertake “a description of one’s feelings in the battle of Manassas – it being his first experience.”

Though at different times and places our Regiment had been, some six or eight times, drawn up in line of battle, and we had gone through all the little heart sinkings, trepidations and fearful apprehensions, which most men experience, upon the eve of entering the life and death contest, yet, when we knew that a great battle was about to be commenced, yet there was such a deep and thrilling earnestness in the cannon’s first booming, as convinced us of the certainty of the fearful work about to be done, and a deep seated apprehension of danger – though not generally shown by palid cheeks or trembling limbs – was experienced. The certainty of danger became still more apparent, when coming near the range of one of the enemy’s batteries, we heard the whizzing of the death dealing missiles, as they passed with a horrid significance of what we might expect from better aim.

The “pomp and circumstance of glorious war,” suddenly dwindled down to the severest kind of plain, common sense, and it very soon became apparent, that common sense rules must be the basis of all discreet actions. At the first sight of the enemy, all the bug bear delusions that may have existed in the fancy of any one, as to their appearance, were suddenly dispelled, and they looked at the distance of three hundred or four hundred yards, precisely like so many of our men.

Quite different from all my fancies of great battles; this was not fought in a broad open field, where the two grand armies could be drawn up in long, unbroken lines, and approach each other in heavy columns. There is no considerable extent of right level ground on this memorable field, but is completely broken with hills and dales, meandering branches and protecting groves. And in extent, the hottest part of the battle field was about one miles by three quarters in width. On such a field, of course, the awful grandeur of appearance of the approaching armies was lost. Then when the firing commenced, that wonderful, indefinite and superhuman grandeur of movements, that my imagination had painted, all faded out, and in its place I had an ugly, dusty, fatiguing and laborious realization of the actual in battle. I experienced most fear when the first cannon ball passed over, with a tremendous whizzing, about twenty yards off; and felt the most dread apprehension, when ordered immediately after, to take a position on a little eminence, in fearful proximity to the place the ball had just passed. After our Regiment had moved forward some 200 or 300 yards, we again came both in range and sight of Sherman’s celebrated Battery, about three-fourths of a mile from us. Their shell and balls came fearfully near, and as one passed through an apple tree just over my head, a cold chill ran over me, and I suffered from agonizing fear, for probably, three or four seconds, but after this, during the entire battle, though I was in almost constant expectation of being killed, yet there was no painful realization of fear, such as would make one hesitate to ge wherever duty called, or prevented a full and free exercise of all the faculties of body and mind. As the dangers really increased, and friends were seen falling thick upon either side, the apprehension, or rather the fear, of them became strangely less, and without feeling secure there was a sort of forced resignation to calmly abide whatever consequences should come.

At no time did I experience any feeling of anger, or discover any exhibition of it in others. A stern determination and inflexible purpose, was the predominant expression of countenance of all, so far as my observation extended, and any sudden exhibition of passion would have seemed ridiculous.

One of the most remarkable mental phenomena, was the sudden and strange drying up of sympathetic feeling for the suffering of the wounded and dying. I could never before look upon even small operations, or persons in extreme pain from any cause, especially when blood was freely flowing, without intense pain and generally more or less faintness. But on this occasion I beheld the most terrible mutilations, the most horrid and ghastly expression of men in the death struggle, men with one arm or a leg, shot off, others with the face horribly mutilated, heads shot through and brains lying about, bodies half torn into, and at the hospital, some 50 men with legs or arms jut amputated and a half cord of legs and arms, and men in all degrees of pain, from the slight flesh wound to those producing death in a few moments, and viewed all this with far less feeling that I would ordinarily have seen brutes thus mutilated. This obduracy I am truly glad, was only temporary. Only two days after the battle I caught myself avoiding the amputation of an arm.

I have written thus much of my own feelings, not because they were peculiar, but according to my best knowledge and belief, were nearly the same as those shared by a great majority of all those who were in the heat of battle, for the first time, on the glorious 21st.

Our Regiment is now having an easy time. There is considerable slight sickness, but none dangerous that I know of. Dr. Miller has been appointed General Director of the Medical Board for our Brigade – the 2nd – but he still retains the office of Surgeon of the 8th Regiment.

M. D.

From Dear Courier: The Civil War Correspondence of Editor Melvin Dwinell, pp. 66-68

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Lt. Melvin Dwinell, Co. A, 8th Georgia Infantry, On the Advance to Manassas and Casualties

30 11 2022

Camp Bartow, near Manassas,
August 5, 1861.

Dear Courier: It has been several days since I have written to you mainly for the reason that I have quite fully experienced the wonderful state of exhaustion and debility – amounting to almost complete prostration – consequent to the great and indescribable exertions, both physical and mental, of the glorious 21st. Every person has experienced to some extent a sense of vacuity and extraordinary excitements. By multiplying this a thousand fold, some idea may be formed of the prostrate condition of our Regiment since the memorable battle of Manassas. With resolute men, the ability to endure increases to a marvelous extent, with the accumulation of exciting causes; but after these causes are removed, the natural depression, that follows, is as much below the ordinary equilibrium as it had been carried above. Since that “day so foul and fair,” until the past few days, when the men had began to brighten up, the ordinary routine of camp duties have seemed idle formalities, altogether frivolous, and they were reluctantly performed with feelings of repugnance that amount almost to disgust.

As the little glowing description of the march og Gen. Johnston’s command from Winchester to this place, seems, from its non-publication, to have been lost, and in order that our condition upon the day of battle may be better understood. I will now give a few of the leading facts: On Thursday July 18th, five Regiments, including the 2d, had orders to march from Winchester. Our Regiment left camp at 1 o’clock P.M., without dinner, and only food enough in our haversacks for one meal. When a half mile out of town, we were told that the march was to Manassas. Arrived at Millwood at 6 o’clock, and to the Shannandoah River, thirteen miles from Winchester, at 9 o’clock. Four hours were consumed by the army, in fording the river. Passed the Blue Ridge through Paris Gap, and arrived at that town distant from the river, five miles, at 3 o’clock A.M., on Friday; here lay down on the ground, without blankets, and rested three hours, then resumed the march to Piedmont Station, on the Manassas Gap Railroad – distance five miles – where we arrived at 9 o’clock. Our wagons came up about noon and we got a very good dinner, ready at three o’clock. From 7 P.M., till 2 A.M. Saturday, we were on the cars between Piedmont and Manassas – detained by the rascality of the conductor, who was believed to have been bribed by the enemy, and who has since been shot.

My letter published in the Courier on the 30th ult., gives an account of our movements of Saturday. We marched not less than ten miles on the morning of the battle.

From breakfast Thursday morning, until after the battle on Sunday, the men of the Regiment received about sufficient food for two full meals. In this time they marched 35 miles – fording the Shannandoah, and crossing the Blue Ridge – and were for several hours, crowded in the most uncomfortable manner in the cars.

I have been this particular in reporting our movements, because it has been intimated by some few who did not know the facts, that the survivors in the 8th Georgia Regiment broke down very soon after the bloody charge.

I saw a statement a few days since in a communication in the Richmond Dispatch, that the Oglethorpe Light Infantry occupied the right of the Regiment in the charge in the pine thicket. The falsity of this statement is only equaled by the presumption of the writer.

Below is an accurate statement of the numbers entering the battle of the 21st, from the various companies of the 8th Georgia Regiment, and of the killed, wounded and prisoners:

No.K’dW’dPr’s
A. Rome Light Guards565142
B. Oglethorpe L’t In’ry835253
C. Macon Guards624162
D. Echols Guards422111
E. Miller Rifles372150
F. Atlanta Greys763207
G. Pulaski Volunteers364140
H. Floyd Infantry404120
I. Stephens L’t Guards787131
K. Oglethorpe Rifles330160
Total5433615616

Gen. Samuel Jones, who has been appointed to command our Brigade for a few months, had charge of the Institute at Marietta, Ga. We, as yet, have no Lieutenant Colonel. A. R. Harper is acting as Adjutant, and Lieutenant Reese is acting Quartermaster of the Regiment. Our Brigade – the 7th, 8th, and 9th Georgia Regiments and Ky. Battalion – is now encamped 2 miles N.E. from Manassas. Our regular drills were resumed three days since.

Lieut. G. R. Lumpkin has resigned on account of ill health. He was an excellent officer and much beloved by the company. Z. B. Hargrove and Marion Ezzel have applied for, and will doubtless receive honorable discharges, on the ground of chronic ill health; also, McOsker, on account of his wounds, Howard, Anderson, and Stephenson, will probably get furloughs for 60 days on account of their wounds, and Ross for 30 days.

Several applications for discharges and furloughs will be made by members of the Miller Rifles and Floyd Infantry, but I have not time to go around and learn their names.

Rev. John Jones preached to us yesterday an excellent sermon. He will hold prayer meetings every evening, at eight o’clock, as long as he remains in camp.

There is considerable sickness in the Floyd county companies, but none are considered dangerous.

Of the general movement of our Army, you can learn more at your various homes than we can here in camp.

M. D.

From Dear Courier: The Civil War Correspondence of Editor Melvin Dwinell, pp. 62-64

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Lt. Melvin Dwinell, Co. A, 8th Georgia Infantry, On Casualties and Spoils

29 11 2022

Battle Ground near Manassas Junction July 24 1861

Dear Parents – On last Sunday I was in the midst of one of the hardest fought battles that has ever occurred in America – I am without a scratch or even a bullet hole in my clothes – Five of our men fell dead by my side – four were mortally wounded – and six or eight more severely – It seems a miracle that I escaped unharmed. The Confederate Army was victorious and completely routed Lincoln’s forces – We took 64 cannon of the best kind, 100 heavy baggage wagons – about 600 Prisoners and drove the enemy back some 12 or 15 miles and would have pursued them to Washington but out men gave out from sheer exhaustion.

Your aft. Son
Melvin

From Dear Courier: The Civil War Correspondence of Editor Melvin Dwinell, pp. 57-58

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Pvt. Vardy Pritchard (Prichett) Sisson, Co. F, 8th Georgia Infantry, On the Campaign

18 11 2022

Captain V. P. Sisson Tells Vividly of

CLOSE CALLS

In Which Near 1,000 Men Participated

It was at Manassas, July 21, 1861. The “call” was not personal to the writer alone, and this brief narrative must not assume that phase.

It was a “close call” in which a full regiment of near a thousand men participated. The regiment was the memorable Eighth Georgia, organized at Richmond, in May, 1861., disciplined and commanded by that chivalrous sone of Georgia, Francis S. Bartow, of Savannah, who reached the capital of the Confederacy in command of the Oglethorpe Light Infantry of his city.

The writer left Atlanta as high private of the Atlanta Grays, Captain Thomas L. Cooper, on May 5, 1861. Other companies from the state went forward to Richmond at the same time, and an early formation of the regiment was accomplished, drilled and equipped for the arena of war.

It was an intrepid band, composed exclusively of Georgians. The regimental staff consisted of Colonel Bartow, Lieutenant Colonel Montgomery Gardner, Major Thomas L. Cooper and Lieutenant John Branch, adjutant. In the staff also was that distinguished and scholarly gentleman, Dr. H. V. M. Miller, the surgeon, familiar in ante-bellum Georgia politics, as the “Demosthenes of the Mountains.” The commissary was Major Charles H. Smith, known to literary fame as “Bill Arp.” The quartermaster was Lieutenant Ed Wilcox, of Macon. Gardner was in West Point, had been in the Mexican war, and was the thorough drill master and disciplinarian the regiment had need of. In this he had the ready assistance of the colonel, whose enthusiasm and ambition had no bounds. He had a personal pride in developing a regiment perfect in all things. The material was there assembled, and Colonel Bartow’s lofty character exercised a marked influence among company commanders and privates. Among the latter were men the peers of their ranking officers, men of high birth, education and refinement, bearing muskets and in cheerful submission to rigid military discipline.

Of the company officers it is impossible here to speak. It was a fine body of Georgia’s chivalry, many of whom as captains of local companies, like Bartow at Savannah, had given evidence of ability of a high order. If memory fails me in the long lists, I cannot forget Lucius M. Lamar, Magruder, Dawson, the Coopers, Tom Lewis, Seab Love, Towers, Fouche, Hall, Smith, Charley Lewis, Dunlap Scott and John C. Reed, now at the Atlanta bar and a member of our present city council, George C. Norton of Louisville, the Harpers and Dwinell.

A brief stay in camp at Richmond, and the regiment was sent forward, first to harper’s Ferry. The soldier prefers active service to the monotony of camp life.

Here it is in place to record my then impressions of Colonel Bartow, our Richard of the Lion Heart – sans peur et sans reproche – and his regiment as he rode at its head. He seemed an ideal knight, and the pages of crusade history can furnish nothing grander in conception of purpose or desire of achievement, as its beautiful banner first floated to the winds and its burnished guns flashed in the sunlight. Here was the pomp and pageantry of war, with the glistening blades of a Saladin. A thousand men in the bloom of youth, enthused with the righteousness of their cause, and an invincible determination to defend it. Thus propelled, they were fit champions for any cause or any age.

Alas, for the frailty of human hopes, when fate decrees otherwise! And how ambition treads the spider’s stair! The regiment reached Winchester from Harper’s Ferry, where General Joseph E. Johnston was confronting a Federal force menacing the valley of Virginia. Our stay at this point was without incident. It was severe drilling under a merciless July sun with light picket duty on the turnpike leading to Martinsburg. But the plot was thickening.

In the forenoon of July 18, and order came to be in readiness in two hours for a forced march to reinforce General Beauregard, at Manassas, and in that brief period of time the command of General Johnston was in motion.

We waded the Shenandoah river, and by midnight had reached the summit of the Blue Ridge, where for an hour or two rest was had in the village of Paris. Resuming the march, railway transportation at Piedmont awaited us, and in box and stock cars we landed at Manassas, much exhausted from wading a river, climbing over a rugged mountain, loss of sleep and in sore want of food. This was but a foretaste of what awaited the regiment on the following day. It proved a stimulant to courage, and created a dogged pertinacity to meet whatever issue the future might hold. And they did to a man!

It was now night at Manassas on July 20, the eve of an eventful day in the history of the Eighth Georgia. At daylight on Sunday morning, the 21st, the regiment was hurriedly ordered into line and sent forward to the left flank of General Beauregard’s line of battle where the enemy had made a heavy flank movement and attack. This was an exhaustive forced march of several hours under a pitiless July sun impeded by artillery and cavalry en route.

By 10 a. m. the scene of action had been reached, and the combat was on. Beauregard’s elaborate line of earthworks had been flanked.

Here the mastery of war had to come to issue on the field, and no advantage to any, save that the enemy had precipitated an emergency requiring military skill and quick action to meet.

To this Generals Johnston and Beauregard proved equal, as history will show. But The Journal asks for a recital of the “close call,” and my preface has lengthened out to weariness. Our talented litterateur, “Uncle Remus.” congratulated himself on one occasion whilst reading a piece to a friend, that the listener did not go to sleep!

And here comes the close call: Hampton’s Legion and other troops were engaged.

The first sight the Eighth had of the enemy was Rickett’s battery of six 10-pound pieces on a promontory, about a half a mile distant. So soon as the regiment entered an open field and got in line for action, that battery had a very fine target, and was quick to get the range. It was in a nicely cultivated cornfield, the growth being about waist high, that we loaded guns and fixed bayonets.

Colonel Gardner with his field glass surveyed the situation calmly for a moment, and ordered the regiment to “lie down,” which I remember to have done with great promptness and much satisfaction. Perhaps never before had I embraced mother earth so affectionately, as my weary head was softly laid in a freshly plowed furrow, and I pulled a stalk of succulent corn to slake my thirst. The regimental staff had dismounted and sent horses to the rear.

The federal infantry had not advanced to our immediate front, and not a shot had we fired. Colonel Bartow, having been promoted, was not in command of the regiment. He was not far distant, however, getting orders from General Johnston, whose other forces were moving up rapidly. A crisis was at hand. The rattle of musketry grew nearer, and Rickett’s gunners had an easy going affair in plowing up with solid shot and shell our cornfield. The soldier’s pride of character keeps his courage intact so long as he has a fighting chance, but the suspense is trying to the best nerve when he cannot strike back as he receives. In any event, however, he will do and dare in the face of the enemy as is known only to those who have been there.

Colonel Gardner was no novice on such occasions, and he stood as a statue in front of the regiment and calmly awaited orders.

At length the order came, and the “close call” followed in its wake.

General Bartow, attended by an aid, dashed up, and in a moment “attention” rang out in clear tones amid the wild din and confusion.

The Washington artillery of New Orleans, dashed by like the torrent of Niagara, and the clanking sabers of Stewart’s cavalry gave inspiration to the boys of the Eighth, ready to do their duty, and eager for release from their perilous position. The dogs of war were to be unleashed.

“Men, this regiment is ordered to capture yonder battery, forward, double-quick, march,” and Colonel Gardner sprang forward, flourishing an old cavalry saber he had used in the Mexican war. It was a half-mile on open ground to reach that battery, save a stunted pine thicket in its immediate front, from behind which its guns were in full play as we advanced.

Our quick movement and not having time to lower their guns for a correct range, much of the destructive fire of shot and shell failed in its deadly mission. Our loss in this half-mile was not serious. Rickett’s battery, as we learned later, was known as the “pride of the army,” and its work on that dire occasion was indeed beautiful, of one can descry anything in resemblance to aesthetics under such circumstances!

And yet close comes the “close call.” We thought it sufficiently near at hand in the cornfield under the fire of well directed guns, awaiting slaughter like sheep in the shambles.

But that was a picnic!

We entered the pine thicket in very good order, emerging from which into the open the regiment found itself some fifty yards distant from the battery, its position being a little elevated, and every gun in full chorus. Nothing remained but a last desperate sortie for those guns, and to silence them. Perhaps to turn them on the enemy. Up to that critical moment, the regiment had not suffered seriously, beyond the killing of a few men, and wounding not more than a dozen, so far as memory serves me.

It was thought we had the bird in hand, but it is the unexpected that happens, and certainly, it confronted us then and there with startling suddenness. As we began to pick off the gunners and end the havoc, there arose as if by magic from the ground, a full regiment of United States regulars in support of the battery, and we received a terrific volley along the entire line of our regiment. The aim was a trifle too high, but its effect was deadly enough. The blow was staggering and much confusion ensued. The regiment had lain flat on the ground in the rear of the battery, and was unseen by us until the blue flame belched forth as from one gun. As the volley was answered there was no infantry in sight. They had flattened upon the earth to reload, and in an instant another volley greeted us shattering our ranks and causing still further disorder.

The contest was unequal, and our charge for the guns was halted. Had the infantry aim been a little lower, our destruction would have been complete, for the old time United States regular had a dead aim.

Among the first to fall was Colonel Gardner and Adjutant Branch, with several company officers, and a third of the men wounded or killed. It was difficult to retrieve the regimental alignment and continue to contest, but there were no orders to fall back, the colors still floated defiantly in the hands of the color bearer, Charley Daniel, and there was no surrender, demand for one, or advance of the enemy. Human endurance finally reached the limit, and the Eighth Georgia retired to the base of the hill under a withering fire of shrapnel, where the remnant was reformed as reinforcements came up. The Pine thicket was a scene of ruin, stripped of its foliage, and presented a grime spectacle of war’s devastation.

At this juncture General Bartow brought up reinforcements and was wild at the unhappy fate of the regiment he loved as his own. It was in this act that he lost his own grand life. I make no effort to describe the death agony of our late colonel. He died with armor on and colors in hand.

It was now high noon, the sun burning down with tropical ferocity, and no man had tasted water since daylight. The dead lay upon the field, and the wounded had but indifferent care.

After the death of Bartow the Eighth and Seventh regiments were place in General Bee’s command. The enemy advanced in vast numbers on other parts of the battlefield, and the carnage had no abatement. The next great loss was that of General Bee, who fell with a mortal wound.

General Kirby-Smith reached us with his brigade, but was severely wounded as soon as his troops got into action, and his services lost to the Confederates.

Until about 4 p. m. the battle raged with great severity with the issue doubtful, when the enemy was seen to waver. The battery which the Eighth with such dire results sought to capture single-handed was now silenced, its commander wounded and a prisoner.

The field of Manassas was won, and the “on to Richmond” abandoned to a later period.

I am competent to speak of the one regiment only. Others had their close calls. In fact, it was an uncomfortably close transaction to all concerned on both sides.

After the third of a century memory becomes treacherous and perfection is not claimed in this brief sketch. The career of the Eighth ended at Appomattox, its ranks diminished to scarce one good company. Probably 75 percent of those who received their baptism of blood at Manassas have solved the great mystery.

From Yorktown and all through Virginia to Gettysburg and back, wherever a battle was fought, some member of that regiment reposes in an unknown grave. He followed wherever the immortal Lee led.

Let us hope that grand old Nature in her munificence at each returning springtime will decorate the turf over them with the beautiful wild flowers and the choristers in leafy branches overhead trill their choicest notes!

It should not be forgotten that the Confederate was not such soldier as comprise the regular army of a country. He was of a higher strain, and the purity of that strain finds no degeneracy in his issue. He claims lineage from:

“The knightliest of the knightly race
That, since the days of old,
Have kept the lamp of chivalry
Alight in hearts of gold;
The kindliest of the kindly band
That, rarely halting ease,
Yest rode with Spottswood round the land,
And Raleigh ’round the seas.”

Those who survive that regiment, and in weary steps pass to and fro amid the busy scenes of life, hold, as the French would express it, and embarrassment de richesse, resembling the sunlight and the shadow. Memories of picturesque scenes of jocund comradeship in the bivouac one day, and of death and burial the next.

And it is:
“Oh for the touch of a vanished hand –
The sound of a voice now stilled.”

V. P. SISSON.

Atlanta, February 1, 1901

Atlanta (GA) Journal, 2/2/1901

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Image: Maj. Charles Henry Smith (Bill Arp), Commissary, 8th Georgia Infantry

17 11 2022
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Maj. Charles Henry Smith (Bill Arp), Commissary, 8th Georgia Infantry, On Casualties, Medical Treatment, the Tragedy of War, and the March to Manassas

17 11 2022

ARP’S WEEKLY BUDGET.

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REMINISCENCES OF THE FIRST BATTLE OF MANASSAS

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A Vivid and Realistic Description of the Scene at Bull Run – The Sunday After the Fight – The Surgeon’s Work – Burying the Dead – Marching With Stonewall Jackson.

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Twenty five years! A quarter of a century has passed since the first battle of Manassas. A battle that made a more lasting impression upon the nation than any that occurred during the war. It was the first shock of the earthquake. The first blood, the first glory and the first grief. We had read about wars all our lives and about the bloody battles where thousands and thousands were slain. We had in earliest childhood looked at the pictures and wondered and wondered. The few books that had them were almost all worn out with our thumbing the leaves and we would talk over the same old heroes and wonder again. Our mothers made us read the Bible every Sunday and when we came to a big battle our minds were filled with awe at the contemplation of bloody things. What a wonderful hero was Samson who seized an old jawbone of an ass and like a mighty giant went thrashing around smiting the Philistines hip and thigh, and never stopped until he had slain a thousand men. Then we came down to the revolution where our forefathers fought, and there were the pictures of Bunker Hill and Lexington and Yorktown, that were neared kin. But still it was all a fanciful dream. Nearly fifty years had passed since Jackson fought at New Orleans and those heroes were dead. Here and there was a man who fought in Mexico, but they were of a past generation, and that war was not intensified by a long quarrel among brethren – people of the same blood and nation. The north and south had been quarreling for more than fifty years, and at last had come to blows and to blood. The chip on the hat had been knocked off.

What an awful scene it was, that first battle. At home it was awful when one man was suddenly killed. It startled a whole community, and the news of it was carried from nabor to nabor until it was the talk of the county. My elder brother was a doctor, and I was permitted to look on once when Dr. Wildman cut a man’s leg off, and I saw the quivering flesh and the arteries, and the blood, and the thigh bone severed with the saw, and heard the poor man’s groans, and I had not forgotten that. But here were men, young men, healthy and strong and brave, shot down by the score. Many were dead and many were dying, and they were all around me. The pine thicket and the open field close by, where the Eighth Georgia and Fourth Alabama fought side by side, was specked with them. That pine grove and field was a terrible shock to me, for my friends were there and some of my kindred, The dead seemed asleep with their arms near by. The wounded asked for water. Their surviving comrades had left them to pursue an enemy that was still fighting, though retreating. We hurried to the branch for water. We rode to the rear for help – for ambulances. We found the wounded all along the route and the news that Bartow and Bee were killed and Colonel Gardner was wounded, and a prisoner. Shout after shout was heard as the front advanced and the enemy retreated. Everywhere there was wild hurrying to and fro. Ambulances went on the run to the battle field. Couriers with orders flew in hot haste over hill and plain. Generals with their staff galloped from hill to hill to overlook the movements of their troops who were surging and swaying at double quick and yelling like wild Comanches as they drove back the enemy and broke their columns. The air was filled with smoke. The minnie balls rattled through the pines or spent their force against the fences or upon the ground. The cannonading was incessant and was continued long after the enemy was out of reach. The terrible sound of it lent wings to their flight and they left everything behind them. Night shut down upon the scene and brought rest – rest to the weary, but not to the wounded. All night long we watched and waited, and nursed and comforted them as best we could. the surgeon’s knife was busy, and as one poor fellow was attended to a moved aside the doctor worked the perspiration from his brow and hurriedly said, “next.” There was not a groan or a moan as arms and legs were hastily amputated. I don’t believe that the boys had much feeling then. The excitement and the victory had wrought them up to a pitch that smothered feeling. They talked and laughed and cried as the surgeons dressed their wounds. I saw Dr. Miller cut a ball from Jet Howard’s hip that had come nearly through the other side, and Jet stood up to have it done, and as the ball dropped into the doctor’s hand he seized it and said, “I wouldn’t take a thousand dollars for this.” It was Sunday. What a day for such deeds of carnage. The next day was devoted to the dead. Our own dead were buried in spots selected by their friends and some rude headboard marked the name. The federals were lined in trenches with head to feet in nameless graves. They were thick in some places, so thick that one could step from corpse to corpse. It was the third day before some of them were buried, and they had swollen and looked fat and bloated, and some of their clothing had bursted with swelling flesh. There was a company of Zouaves in Turkish costume, who looked like a race of giants sleeping there. Dead horses strewed the ground, and they were swollen too and their legs stood out without touching the ground, and the buzzards sat upon their heads and feasted upon their eyeballs as the sweetest morsel to begin with. Artillery horses fell dead upon each ither and were crass and piles and the harness had to be cut away.

This battle was insignificant when compared with those that came after, but it was so that the soldiers and the nation could get used to blood. Within a year the shock of it had passed. The horror of it was gone. The army wagons marched over the field of Sevan Pines a month or so later, after it was fought and as the wheels crashed across the shallow trenches where the dead were buried, one could see an arm or a leg shoot up or hear the bones crack with the passing weight. The teamsters looked back a smiled or cracked a heartless joke – blood and death and corpses are nothing in war – nothing when one gets hardened to them. It is all business and destiny. No wonder that Bonaparte fought and felt no sympathy. He was used to it and the dead were nothing. It was no more than a game of chess and the people were the pawns. The anguish of a dying man on the field, strife is enough. But more than this is the silent grief of widowed wife and fatherless children, and of the mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers whose unbidden tears flow on and flow ever for the lost one. Is there a remedy for this curse? Oh why will nations fight? Why will people fight? Here in a time of peace one man kills another and brings a woe and a grief that, like Banquo’s ghost, will never, never down. Could it not have been avoided? When a man is crazed by liquor is it courage to hunt hm down like he was a beast and slay him? or is it not a better courage to avoid him and give his friends and kindred a chance to save him? What is our country coming to that every young man carries a weapon of death in his pocket? They did not use to do so. I understand that most every lad in our community carries a pistol. What for and why? Are our laws and our courts powerless to protect our people? Have we no judge nor juries? Have even the boys got to protect and defend themselves? A man may be constrained to carry a pistol on some emergency, but I believe Judge Hammond was right when he charged the grand jury that a man who habitually carried a pistol was a coward. The pistol may make a bully of him and then he is still more contemptible, for he is a dangerous fool. I heard a young man confess that he carried a pistol for two years and one morning he forgot it and he felt so helpless that if a feller had have crooked his finger at him he would have run like a turkey. This made him ashamed of himself and he discarded it for good. Whisky and pistols ate in copartnership, and it is a bad firm.

Twenty-five years ago General Johnston’s army left Winchester on the sly and hurried to Manassas, while Patterson was waiting for a fight at Buckletown, a few miles out from Winchester. For days and weeks they had been sparring each other, and we thought every day they would fight. Old Joe left enough troops skirmishing around to keep Patterson from suspecting any trick, but the bulk of his splendid army got marching orders in a still, quiet way, and by night were near the Shenandoah. We crossed the river by torch light. It was a wild, exciting scene to see the boys wading through at the ford and holding their guns and cartridge boxes over their heads. There were some little fellows along in our crowd and they had to tip toe to keep the water out of their mouths, but they got there all the same. There were no dry clothes for next day, but they rested on the grass around Paris and let the morning sun give them a dry suit. I remember that there was a child born to us at my house on that eventful night, and a year after when I went home on furlough I travelled with a man who was very inquisitive, and when he asked me how many children I had I told him six, but I had never seen one of them. He pondered over it a few minutes and said: “That is very strange, and I would like to ask how it has happened that you have never seen your children.” Said I, “My friend, I said that I had never seen one of them, for one was born after I left home last June.” He saw the point, and troubled me no more.

The soldiers are having reunions now, and I am glad to see they are becoming so universal at the south. It is sad to see how few of a company have survived the perils of the war and the surer perils of death since the war. One by one they go. But let them meet and take comfort, and let their hearts twine together as they talk over the sad but glorious past. A regiment – will make about a company now, but in a few more years it will take a brigade. But few are under forty-five, and many have a wound that has never healed or a disease that will not cure. God bless them all, and inspire their children to love their country as their fathers did.

Bill Arp.

Atlanta (Ga.) Constitution, 7/2/1886

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Lt. Melvin Dwinell, Co. A, 8th Georgia Infantry, Incidents of the Battle and Aftermath

10 11 2022

Editorial Correspondence.

Near the Battle Field, 6 Miles from
Manassas Junction, July 25.

Dear Courier: The events of the bloody 21st still continue, as they become known, to amaze even us who are here. If any previously doubted the righteousness of our cause, or that a just God smiled upon and blessed our patriotic efforts, to repel the wicked invaders, they now see such overwhelming evidence of these facts as to convince the most skeptical.

It is perfectly astonishing that the last man in the 8th Georgia Regiment was not killed, in the most brave and gallant charge made in the pine thicket, in the early part of the battle. The saplings, all about where we stood, are literally pealed and shot to pieces. We numbered five hundred and fifty-nine men in ranks. There were at least three thousand of the foe – and most of them regulars – in front of us, and about as many on the right. Our Regiment deployed here – entirely without support, sustained in the first charge a most deadly fire for thirty minutes, while with cool courage and accurate aim, our men poured the missiles of death into the ranks of the enemy. At the command we fell back in good order, and again at the order rallied to the same place. This would seem to be wanton sacrifice of our men, but it was really one of the wisest movements of the day, and it is believed to have turned the tide of the battle.

The enemy, as the prisoners now tell us, believed they were contending against at least six thousand men, and we thus held them in check for an hour and a half, and until our reinforcements could be brought on the field. Thus, although we did not have the pleasure of pursuing the most despicable and hated enemy, that ever contended on the battle field, we yet have the gratifying satisfaction of knowing that the 8th Georgia Regiment performed a most important part in the memorable events of this glorious day.

Geo. T. Stovall and Chas B. Norton fell in the first charge, within five steps of each other, and at almost the same instant. They were most bravely and gallantly fighting in the front rank, and two more heroic or better men never fell on the field of honor. Their many virtues and excellent traits of character, are now so distinctly present to the minds of their numerous friends and acquaintances, as to beggar any eulogy that I might attempt in this hasty letter. They were two gentlemen of such transcendant good qualities, of head and heart, as we are not likely “to look upon their like again.” James B. Clark fell in the second charge, equalling the bravest of the brave in the deadly fight. He was a noble youth, and much beloved by all who knew him. Near the same time and place of the two first, D. C. Hargrove was killed. No braver man fell that day, nor one who was more manfully contending. Dr. Duane was killed by a shot after the second charge.

Col. Bartow was killed some time after the second charge of the 8th Regiment, after two horses had been killed under him, and while he was bearing the colors and leading the 7th Regiment. It would be impossible for a man to show more indifference to danger than he did on this bloody field.

Col Gardner had his right leg broken below the knee, in the second charge. He is a most excellent officer, and very much beloved and highly respected by all his command. It will be very hard to satisfy the Regiment with any other man in his place, and probably it will only be supplied temporarily; that at least is our hope.

The evidences of the great extent of the victory still continue to accumulate. It is now currently reported that we have taken 360 heavy loaded wagons, beside a complete village of ambulances, carriages and other vehicles. President Davis is reported to have said in a speech since the battle, that of the men actually engaged in the fight, we had only fifteen thousand men, and the enemy thirty five thousand men. He also said we had taken more baggage wagons, baggage and provisions than all that there was previously, for the entire army, at Manassas Junction.

I learned yesterday that there were 237 wounded enemies – now prisoners – at Stone Church, six miles from here, all found there, together with 60 of them dead. They had tried, probably, to carry these off, but their retreat was too hasty to allow it. Ex-Gov. Manning, of S. C., now one of Gen. Beauregard’s Staff, said yesterday that our loss is estimated at one thousand, and that of the enemy, in killed and wounded, at between eight and ten thousand.

Among other things taken were two or three wagon loads of demijohns of fine liquors, and baskets of champagne, and other fixtures for jubilee, in honor of their expected victory. Seward, Greely, Gen. Scott, and may other distinguished Lincolnites, are reported to have been near the battle field, and watching the movements with telescopes.

In writing these hasty letters I am obliged to record facts and incidents as they occur to me or not at all – but hope the absence of order will not entirely deprive them of interest. I have just heard of the valliant conduct of Billy Barron when he was taken prisoner. He, with one or two others were with Col. Gardner, and trying to protect him after being wounded. A squad of ten or fifteen of the enemy charged down upon them, and ordered them to surrender, but Barron fought, striking with his gun, until completely overpowered, and was then carried off a prisoner.

Lewis Yarbrough, of the Miller Rifles, died of his wounds last night. Jas. W. Langston with ten other recruits for the Light Guards, and Alec Harper with some fifteen or twenty of the Miller Rifles, arrived. The boxes of eatables and luxuries were opened with the greatest pleasure, and I am sure such things were never better or more fully enjoyed. The “goodies” were shared by all, and many hearty thanks and cordial good wishes were expressed for the loved ones who sent them.

The 2d Brigade will hereafter be under the command of Gen. Jones, and old Army officer.

The spirit of Virginia ladies was exhibited in the conduct of Mrs. Thornton on Sunday evening. She lives on the road taken by the retreating enemy, and there was no white man about the place. A Yankee, exhausted from running, rushed into her kitchen and fell fainting. She applied restoratives, gave him some fine brandy, and when he was sufficiently recovered to receive it, supper. Shen then ordered a servant to take his gun and telling him he was her prisoner, sent for one of our officers and had him marched off. A few moments after one of Mrs. T’s servants coaxed one of these same Hessians into the kitchen, and they took him prisoner.

The Fire Zouaves, Lincoln’s “pet Lambs,” were slain like sheep – out of 950 it is said only 200 escaped. Many of their bodies are still unburied.

It is amazing to see the completeness and excellence of arms and accoutrements of the Federal troops. A better equipped army probably never entered the field.

Since writing the above John Black and Marcus Ross have come into camp. They tell us that they escaped from the enemy on Sunday evening during the confusion of the general stampede. They marched several miles with them until their Guard got separated from them, and then calling themselves Federal troops from Wisconsin, they managed to edge themselves off until finally they broke for the woods, and escaped. They traveled nearly all night not knowing where they were. Ross had a painful wound in his hand, and when they were certain that they were among friends they stopped about 22 miles from here. Black is unhurt. John Berry had two fingers on his left had shot off and is otherwise uninjured.

Camp of 8th Regiment Ga. Volunteers,
Near Manassas, July 30, 1861.

Dear Courier: – Through other sources you have doubtless received, before this time, most of the important particulars of the great and glorious, though dearly bought, victory of the 21st. In my other letters, I have noticed very little except the movements of our own Regiment, for the reason that I desired to chronicle my own observations rather than the doubtful rumors that came to my ears, and I have, even yet, not had opportunities to get facts in regard to the general plan and movements of the battle from reliable sources. The only satisfactory report of the memorable deeds of that day will be the official one, which will probably soon be forthcoming.

The following facts and incidents will be interesting to most readers. – There is probably not an officer in the Confederate army, more beloved by his command, and for whom there exists a more confiding respect for his military character and attainments, than is enjoyed by Col. Montgomery Gardner. He is familiar with his men, yet commands their full and high respect. – The following speech made to the Regiment just before we were led into battle is accurately illustrative of one of his peculiarities, viz: that he is a man for fighting rather than talking. I quote from memory, yet am sure the report is full and verbatim: “Fellow Soldiers: I shall soon lead you into battle; I cannot make a speech, and haven’t time now if I could. Keep cool, obey orders – follow me, and we will whip them, egad.” Every movement and command, until he fell from his wound, evidenced the utmost calmness and discreet bravery. It is the earnest wish of all, that he may speedily recover and again take his post at the head of our Regiment.

Other Captains may have done just as well, but I know that Captain Magruder was cool and discreet in his commands. He was wounded in the left arm in the very first of the fight, by a buck-shot, but continued during the fight, at the head of his company, with his arm in a sling. Late in the evening, and after the fight had ceased in that part of the field, he took a prisoner in the following manner: – He had gone some little distance to a spring for water, while there a man with a musket approached. He drew his pistol and demanded “who comes there.” The man answered “a member of the Wisconsin Regiment.” – The Captain said “throw down your gun and surrender, or I will blow your brains out.” The man threw his gun forward so that it stuck up on the bayonet. The Captain then marched him off to where other prisoners were, and put him under guard.

Where all were so brave and so well acted their part in the awful tragedy, it may seem invideous to particularize, but I cannot refrain from referring to the self-sacrificing devotion to comfort of our wounded, who had been left on the battle-field, exhibited by Geo. S. Barnsley. There were none of our Regiment known to be left on the field, yet, he, with two or three others, spend the time from 5 P. M. until 3 o’clock the next morning in searching out and bringing in such as could be found. – Considering the extreme fatigue and exhaustion of all, this particular kindness of heroism is worthy of high commendation.

We are now resting, getting ready for a re-organization of the Regiment and Brigade.

John Dunn, of the Floyd Infantry, died from his wounds last Saturday.

Tommy Hills, of the Miller Rifles, one of the bravest and best young men in the army, died of his wounds on Sunday.

McOsker, of the Buards, is very bad off. The balance of the Floyd county boys are doing well, so far as I have learned.

Several of our men have recognized acquaintances among the prisoners, large numbers of which continue to be found.

Some of the Oglethorpe Light Infantry boys, a few days since, while hunting for eggs, under a barn in the neighborhood, found three Yankees and took them prisoners.

Rome (GA) Tri-Weekly Courier, 8/6/1861

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Lt. Melvin Dwinell, Co. A, 8th Georgia Infantry, On the Battle, Casualties, and Spoils

8 11 2022

Editorial Correspondence.

Battle Ground on Lewis’ Farm,
Tuesday, July 23, 1861.

Dear Courier: The present is the first opportunity I have had to write, since the awfully glorious and momentous events of Sunday, the 21st inst. And even now, I can give but a meagre, hasty, and very imperfect account of a small part of the important transactions, because we have already received orders to move.

Our Regiment left our place of bivouac, of the night previous, at 6 o’clock on Sunday morning. The cannonading commenced some half hour before this, two reports being heard once in about five minutes, in the direction of Bull’s Run, and seeming about two miles distant.

We marched round by a circuitous and zigzag course to the left, with the intention of flanking the right wing of the enemy, and attacking them. We marched at quick time, and a part of the time double-quick until ten o’clock, when opposite our place of destination, we were drawn up in a line extending back from a battery of four guns of Virginia Artillery, commanded by ——. The cannon balls from the celebrated Sherman’s Battery, soon began to fly about five or ten yards over our heads, with a whiz that was surprisingly loud. Directly bomb shells began to burst over our heads and on either side. We were ordered to lie flat down on our faces. The cannonading became very brisk. There must have been some ten or fifteen cannon playing on the 8th Regiment, and the battery we were placed to guard. At about 11 o’clock we were ordered to leave here. This order was promptly obeyed, although by rising to our feet we were in full view of the enemy’s battery, from which we had been partially protected by the brow of the hill, on which we were. We were intended to support Gen. Bee in a charge, but were led to the extreme right of the attacking force, going under the cover of the woods, between us and the enemy’s artillery. We were led up and deployed in a pine thicket, and ordered to fire. The enemy were about 100 yards, and many of them protected by stables and stacks of straw and hay, and all by a fence. The balls whizzed about us like hail in a thick storm. There were probably six thousand men firing upon our force of six hundred. Most of Col. Gardner’s command loaded lying down and rose up to fire. Our men fell with fearful rapidity. After about twenty minutes, we were ordered to fall back, to a place where the intervening ground would protect us from the enemy’s fire.

After falling back about 200 yards we halted, faced about, loaded, and again rallied upon the enemy, at the same place as the first charge. After firing one or two rounds, we discovered a large, heavy column on our right, that we had supposed to be a portion of Gen. Bee’s command, were enemies, and were carrying the stars and stripes; just then they opened fire upon us, and we were obliged to fall back again, out of this cross fire. In these fearful charges sad havoc was made in the Regiment. We then fell back, firing in retreat, and formed under Major Cooper, some 600 yards back of the pine thicket. We could then rally only about 150 men, and this remnant retired in good order from the battle-field, and as a Regiment did not return, although many individuals did, under other commands.

Col. Bartow, acting as Brigadier General, was killed. A more intrepid, brave, and gallant man never lived. Col. Gardner had his leg broken in the first charge, and was left on the field, because he would not suffer the men to stop in that fearful place to carry him off. He was taken prisoner, but afterwards released by the enemy when they retreated, upon condition that he would have six or eight wounded Yankees cared for, and sent home with their arms.

Adjutant Branch of our Regiment was killed.

The following is the loss in the Rome Light Guards: C. B. Norton, G. T. Stovall, James B. Clarke, Dr. Duane and D. C. Hargrove killed.

Anderson, Stevenson, McOaker and Howard, severely wounded. Capt. Magruder wounded in the left arm.

The following are slightly wounded: AJ. J. Beardern, R. W. Boggs, J. D. Jones, G. L. Aycock and J. T. Shackelford.

The missing are John Black, Wm. Barron, T. McGrath, M. A. Ross and J. B Payne. It is supposed that most or perhaps all these were taken prisoners.

Of the Miller Rifles Thos. Mobley and Frank Lathrop were killed.

Thos. Hills was wounded probably fatally, and O. B. Ever, severely, W. A. King had his wright arm shot off about the elbow. Lewis Yarbrough is probably fatally wounded. Ben Price and Wm. Ware are slightly wounded.

In the Floyd Infantry, Aaron Harshaw, F. M. Madrey, Wammack and Chastain are killed. Capt. Cooper, Geo. Martin, O. M. Porter, H. Burns and Holbrook severely wounded.

Who are missing from the Rifles or Infantry I have not learned.

I have to close this hasty letter.

Notwithstanding the great loss a most glorious victory was won by the Confederate forces. The field is ours. We have taken forty two cannon, including Sherman’s Battery, over hundred baggage wagons, and any amount of Baggage and pursued the enemy to Fairfax Court House.

We spent yesterday – a very rainy day in hunting up the dead and burying them. They were decently intered and the funeral service read.

The loss of killed and wounded in the 8th Ga. Regiment is probably about 200, or one -third the men engaged in the Battle. The entire Confederate loss is believed to be about twelve or fifteen hundred in killed and wounded.

The enemies loss between two and three thousand. We took a large number of prisoners say 500 or 600.

Gen. Bee was killed, as also Co. Fisher, of one of the Virginia Regiments, and Capt. Howard of the Echols Guards Meriwether county Georgia.

The general estimates I have made of the losses of both sides, are quite vague and unsatisfactory to myself even.

If our readers knew the circumstances under which this letter is written they would be more disposed than otherwise to excuse its want of systematic order.

Clarke, Duane and Hargrove were buried on the field near where they fell. Norton and Stovall were carried to Manassas Junction, some six miles from the battle field, and will be buried there or sent home.

Our entire force marched out for this battle was said to be about thirty thousand. That the enemy is variously stated from fifty to one hundred thousand. Most of our army has already moved forward and the balance will go soon towards Washington City.

M. D.

Camp near the Battle Ground,
8 o’clock P. M., Tuesday, July 23.

Dear Courier: Since writing this morning, I have gathered some further particulars in regard to the glorious victory of the 21st. As the facts are made known, the complete route of the enemy, and the utter confusion into which they were thrown, becomes more and more evident. Instead of getting forty-two of their cannon, sixty-four have already been brought in, and there is reason to suppose that still more may be found, provided this number does not include all they had. Our troops, detailed for that purpose, have been finding them all day, run off, in concealed places, by the roadside. In addition to the cannon, it is reported that the road leading to Alexandria is literally lined with muskets, rifles, Minnie muskets, &c., &c. This morning twenty-seven of Lincoln’s officers, including several of Staff, were sent to Richmond as prisoners of war.

The sneaking cunning, and perfidious meanness of our enemies was exhibited on the day of battle, by their using a flag, one side of which, represented the colors of the Confederate States, and the other those of the United States. It was the use of this that our Regiments was so badly cut up. The column that flanked us showed the Confederate Flag until they got to the position where they could do us the greatest possible injury, then turned to us the Federal side and fired. For doing this when they sent the flag of truce to Gen. Beauregard, asking for the privilege of gathering up and burying their dead, it was denied. How can they expect any courtesy when they this set at defiance all rules of civilized warfare? – The low spirit that governs them and their miscreancy was also exhibited on the 19th, when having leave to bury their dead of the 18th, they made use of the truce in throwing up barricades and breast works.

A. J. Bearden was taken prisoner and carried some four miles from the battle ground. This was after our Regiment had fallen back. He was carried to the headquarters of the enemy, and there saw a large number of gentlemen from Washington City, New York and other places, eating, drinking and carousing over itheiri victory. – Not long after, news came that their army was retreating, and our cavalry was in hot pursuit. Then ensued a scene of indescribably confusion among this white kid gentry in their efforts to secure their personal safety by flight. When our cavalry came up, Bearden claimed his own freedom, and took captive the Captain who had been guarding him. Chas. Harper, of the Miller rifles, was taken prisoner, and with two or three others, was guarded by six of the Hessians. After a while, more prisoners were put in the care of the same guard, so that their number exceeded that of the hirelings holding them, our boys watched their opportunity, snatched their guardian’s guns and took them all prisoners. Another instance in which the tables were turned on them occurred with a member of our company, Robert DeJournett. He was on the retreat when a mounted officer, supposed to be a Colonel, rode up to within 15 or 20 paces, and cried out, “your life! your life! you young rebel.” DeJournett turned, raised his gun, and shot him through, while the officer was attempting to draw his pistol, and DeJournett made a hasty retreat to safety, though a volley of muskets were fired at him.

It is now certain that John Black, Marcus Ross and John Payne were taken prisoners and carried off. McGrath came in to-day unharmed. This accounts for all the Light Guards. No prisoners were carried off from the Miller Rifles. Several of the Federal prisoners have told us that they had expected to be hung as soon as the battle was over. They have been taught to believe that the Southerners are a set of complete barbarians.

Wm. Martin, of the Floyd Infantry, died last night. Howard, McOaker, and Anderson, of our company, have been sent to Gordonsville. They were doing well.

Our Regiment has not yet re-organized, and we did not move to-day. As was anticipated. We were all very glad to see Rev. John Jones when he came into camp today.

It is said that the Lincolnites have taken Washington City. They certainly by report, hold no place this side of Alexandria.

M. D.

Rome (GA) Tri-Weekly Courier, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Melvin Dwinell was the editor of the Rome Tri-Weekly Courier

Melvin Dwinell at Ancestry.com

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Vermonter in Gray: The Story of Melvin Dwinell

More on Melvin Dwinell herehere, and here





Lt. Melvin Dwinell, Co. A, 8th Georgia Infantry, On the Advance to Manassas and the Eve of Battle

7 11 2022

Editorial Correspondence.

Camp Near Winchester,
Wednesday, July 17, 10 o’clock P. M.

Dear Courier: To-day has been quiet in this camp. This evening news came that some six thousand of the enemy were in Smithville, a town 6 miles East of Bunker Hill, while the balance of the force, now believed to be about 30,000, remain at the latter place. The presumption is, that they intend to attempt to flank us here, by coming up to the East of the direct road with one column of their army. They will find Gen Johnston ready for them, whatev- manoeuvring may be, unless I greatly misjudge.

Since five o’clock we have thrown down probably six miles of fence, for the purpose of opening a battle-field, and I never imagined men, on the eve of an expected fight, could be in such excellent spirits, and so enthusiastic.

It may be that this movement of Patterson is only a sham, but it really looks like there would a fight here before long.

Most of the sick are doing well, though one of the Chattooga county boys died to-day, of Pneumonia, his name was Allen. Of the Light Guards all but four were on duty to-day.

7 o’clock this morning. – Orders have just been issued to pack up baggage, strike tents, cook two days rations and be ready to march immediately, we know not where, but expect only two or three miles towards Smithville. No news from the enemy this morning. The 11th Georgia Regiment arrived yesterday.

Manassas Junction, Saturday.
July 20th, 7 ½ 0’clock A. M.

Dear Courier: About one half of the force that left Winchester on Thursday, and arrived at Piedmont yesterday morning, came to this place on the cars yesterday and last night, our Regiment left Piedmont Station at 7 P. M., yesterday, and did not arrive here until 2 o’clock this morning. We were very much crowded on the cars, and of course the chance to sleep was a slim one. The reason of so much delay I do not know. The distance is only 35 miles. We had some coffee this morning, and are now scattered round on the ground, trying to get what rest we can, before marching to Bull’s Run – some four miles from here.

The particulars of the fight there on Thursday, you have probably received before this. The belief prevails here that the enemy lost in killed about 900. We had ten killed and some 30 or 40 wounded. This statement is as I receive it, and I cannot vouch for its accuracy. We expect to remain here until the balance of Johnston’s force, that we left behind at Piedmont Station, to come up, probably this evening, and then go to Bull’s Run. The expectation yesterday was, that there would be a big battle to-day. Yesterday the enemy under a flag of truce, were allowed to collect their dead and bury them. Beauregard, as reported has possession of the battle-ground.

Our men stand up wonderfully well, under the fatigue of the past tow days and nights. Most of our baggage and all the tents, were left at Winchester. I hear it said that these will be sent to us in a day or two.

The entire force that was here previous to yesterday morning, has gone to Bull’s Run.

Rome (GA) Tri-Weekly Courier, 7/27/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Melvin Dwinnell was the editor of the Rome Tri-Weekly Courier

Melvin Dwinell at Ancestry.com

Melvin Dwinell at Fold3

Melvin Dwinell at FindAGrave

Vermonter in Gray: The Story of Melvin Dwinell

More on Melvin Dwinell here, here, and here