Sgt. William Alexander McQueen, Co. D, 2nd South Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

26 03 2022

[From the Sumter Watchman.]

CAMP NEAR VIENNA,
August 19, 1861

Dear Watchman: You have doubtless, by this time, heard from various sources a detailed account of the great battle of Manassas Plains. But there are some little incidents more immediately connected with our part in that glorious affair, which might not be uninteresting to your readers. The Colonel’s official report of the battle is very lucid and correct, the best thing of the kind that has yet been published. – There is one oversight, however, which cannot fail to be noticed by those who were engaged in the action. Every Captain in the Regiment is mentioned with honor, except that old Mexican hero, Capt. McManus; he is passed over in silence, only mentioned among the wounded. Now those who were near can testify that there was no one in that glorious battle who acted with mor calmness and self posession, and, withal, more gallantry, than did Capt. McManus. When struck by the fragment of a shell in the arm, he quietly turned to one of his men and said, “Hand me that shell,” and though the wound was painful, he refused to leave the field until the battle had ceased. I mention this as a simple act of justice to the Captain, and feel assured that the attention of our gallant and impartial Colonel has only to be called to the facts of the case, and it will be all right.

To give some idea of the coolness and sang froid with which our boys engaged the enemy, I have only to mention a few little anecdotes:

During the battle, a poor little rabbit, frightened by the roar of musketry, and the whistling of bullets, timidly approached our ranks; after giving chase for a few moments, a private in Capt. Haile’s Company succeeded in taking him prisoner, and very probably made a soup out of him for dinner.

My attention, during the battle, was attracted by a negro who fought with great coolness and bravery. He had obtained a fine Yankee gun on the field, and as he fired, would exclaim: “My golly! How de bucra* fall!”

As some poor soldier lay upon the field, groaning with pain, caused by a mortal wound, his comrade stepped up to him and whispered: “Oh, die game! die game!”

The following anecdote is related of Co. Kershaw: The Colonel had been suffering for several days previous to the battle from a sore leg, caused by the kick of a horse. – When he had reached the field, some one asked him how his leg was, “Sir,” said he, “I did not know that I had a leg.”

Yours,
W. A. McQ. **

The Lancaster (SC) News, 9/4/1861

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* “Buckra” is Gullah slang for “white man.” – ed.

** Per below records, likely William Alexander McQueen. Hat tip to reader Michael Pellegrini.

William Alexander McQueen at Ancestry

William Alexander McQueen at Fold3

William Alexander McQueen at FindAGrave





Lt. Col. J. P. Pryor, Aid to Brig. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, On the Battle and His Captivity

11 02 2022

From the Richmond Dispatch.]

GRAPHIC ACCOUNT OF A CAPTURE, A SECESSION SPEECH, AND AN ESCAPE.

Richmond, Aug. 10, 1861. – Owing to a severe illness, from which I have not yet recovered, my promised statement has been delayed to this time. It is with diffidence I obtrude upon the public even now, and should certainly not do so, but that I know that everything in any way connected with the great battle of Manassas is still read with unabated interest, and that it is also necessary to my own vindication from certain mis-statements which have been copied into our newspapers from Northern resources. I shall make it as brief as possible, confining it mainly to the facts, and denouncing, in advance, as false and unfounded, anything in conflict with it which may have appeared in the journals of the United States.

The day before the fight, (Saturday,) the regiment to which I was attached, (the 19th Mississippi, Col. C. H. Mott,) was on the way from Winchester to Manassas, waiting at a railway station called Piedmont, for a train to convey it to the vicinity of the [?] of action. – I was on horseback and was that day acting as Assistant Brigade Quarter Master to Maj. Jas. H. Anderson, of Mississippi, and also as volunteer Aid to Col. C. H. Mott, who was then acting as commander of the Brigade in place of Brigadier General E. Kirby Smith, who was acting in place of General Johnston. Saturday morning I had ridden on, six or seven miles from Piedmont, by the dirt road, in the direction of Manassas, when Maj. Anderson requested me to go back and attend to some business in his department which he supposed had been neglected. In order to ride as light as possible I gave my rifle and baggage to a servant and told him to await my return – not expecting to be gone more than two hours. On my return to Piedmont I was detained by Col. Mott four or five hours, and consequently when I started back toward Manassas I was unable to overtake either the Quarter Master’s train or the servant with my arms who, of course, despairing of my return in time for him to catch up with the train before dark, had gone on. I rode on, however, to Haymarket, a village distant, I believe, ten miles from Manassas Junction, and somewhat nearer the battlefield.

At Haymarket I stopped for the night, being completely knocked up by the fatigue of the day and of the previous march from Winchester to Piedmont. Sleeping the next morning – the glorious Sunday, the 21st – late at least for a soldier, we were at breakfast about 7 o’clock, when it was announced that the battle had begun, as the quick recurring discharges of cannon were distinctly heard. It was at once perceived that a party of us, all of whom were strangers to war, should proceed to the battle ground. I was unarmed, but such was my desire to see a battle, particularly such as I knew this promised to be, I acceded, and away we went, under the guidance of some of the neighboring citizens, who said they knew all of the by ways of the vicinity. They led us by a tortuous route, and it was not till half past ten that we reached the field; and when we got there, I was completely “turned round,” and, as I found out afterwards, was on the left wing of our line of battle, instead of the right, as I then supposed.

The part of the battle ground upon which we entered had not been very hotly contested previous to our arrival, but, instantly after coming up, it became and continued to [?] hours the “[?]” part of the field. The persons who came with me I saw no more after reaching the area of the conflict. Unable to find any of our Mississippi people that I knew, I was thrown in with a regiment which I was afterwards told was from North Carolina – probably the 6th – which just then was making an ineffectual attempt to form on a ridge in point-blank range of a large battery of the enemy, then playing on that of our lines. The regiment, however, fell back a little way to the left and formed in good order behind a farm-house and the adjacent buildings. – About this time a piece of our artillery came upon the scene at that point, and after some delay opened fire upon the enemy in beautiful style. I sat on my horse near this gun for some time, the enemy’s shot and shell whizzing by and falling thick and fast around. The shot from a rifled cannon makes a peculiar music, which, to be appreciated, must be heard – it cannot be described. The bursting of bombs in the air, too, is a sight to see – the long drawn out whirl of a Minnie ball – of a hailstorm of them – the small [?] like report of many thousand muskets – all made up a concert well worth going a thousand miles to attend. And yet, strange to say, I was not in the least apprehensive of danger to myself. All sense of fear was swallowed up in the one grand idea we had that day – before us an enemy who, whatever his numbers, must that day be whipped.

After tarrying awhile by the side of our troops at the point whence I first smelt the powder and heard the roar of a real battle field, I descried on the hill in front of me – the hill where, farther to the left, stood the house so terribly riddled afterwards by the [?]shot of the enemy, in which they killed the old woman, notwithstanding the hospital flag then floating over it – another regiment, which I hoped might be one from Mississippi, I immediately formed the determination to join it. I started down the hill under a cross fire from a battery to the left and another in front, which I now suppose to have been Sherman’s, such was the incessant roar of its guns and the explosion of its shells and hissing of its balls, all around and above me. I had, however, advanced only half way up the opposite hill, when I was met by the regiment I was seeking, rapidly falling back but in good order. Many of the men were wounded, and many came down the hill with their faces all streaming with blood and begrimmed with powder. This regiment, I am informed, was the Fourth Alabama, which suffered so severely and acted so nobly through out the entire day. I proceeded to form, if I am not mistaken, along with the North Carolina regiment, behind the crest of the hill and beyond the range of the enemy’s guns.

All this time the rattle of rifles and musketry, as well as the grander music of artillery, was unceasing. It was observed by many old soldiers, after the battle, that they had never before known the discharges of musketry to be so sharp and continuous throughout so long an action – an action that lasted from 7 in the morning to 7 in the evening. And, this, too, notwithstanding the now well established fact that there were six distinct bayonet charges made by the Confederates during the day.

It was now about 1 o’clock, and as the troops I happened to be with seemed to be waiting for reinforcements, and as I was unarmed and there was no prospect of getting arms where I then was, I concluded to go again in search of a Mississippi regiment, knowing the gallant Second, under the command of my now renowned friend Faulkner, to be somewhere on the field. For this purpose I started off as I then thought, on the side of the field near Manassas. Unfortunately, I was mistaken in the course, and knowing nothing of our line or order of battle, I rode in the direction of Centreville. On rising the next hill, a shell struck a rock within a few feet of me, and exploding, threw the dust over me and my horse in a way that was not very compatible with one’s notions of safety, but was still exciting, especially to the horse, who bounded into the air as if he had been struck with a fragment of Yankee iron. This shell must have been thrown at me by Sherman’s Battery, then probably a mile and a half distant.

Riding forward a few yards further, I perceived in a glen or ravine a party of soldiers, numbering, I suppose about forty, dressed in uniforms exactly similar to many of those worn in the Confederate service, and all armed with the improved Springfield musket.* Of course, I did not dream for an instant that they were other than Southerners and Secessionists. Riding directly up to, and accosting them, a brief colloquy ensued, of which the following is the substance:

“Well, boys,” said I, “I believe those batteries over yonder are, for the present, a little too much for our people on the hill.”

“Oh no,” replied one of them, “we are carrying the day everywhere.” (And so they were up to 1 ½ P. M.]

“Well,” said I, “who are you, and where are you from?”

“Where the devil are you from?” was the quick response, in true Yankee fashion.

Seeing I was in for it, I replied promptly and proudly, “I am from Mississippi.”

Instantly an officer sprang up and shouted, “Take that man,” and the whole forty cocked their guns and surrounded me. There I was in their midst, totally unarmed. What could I do but surrender me a prisoner of war? I did so. I was dismounted. They searched me for arms but found none. The officer of the detachment got on my horse, and when the panic came ran away with him! But I understand that both horse and man were killed by a cannon shot from one of our batteries in the rout. So much for the gallant bay who bore me through what little I saw of the immortal filed of Manassas.

My captors carried e by devious ways to a strong detachment of their troops, probably [?] strong, posted in a neighboring wood. – From thence they were ordered to convey me to their rear, which they proceeded to do, treating me kindly and politely by the way. Indeed, I may here say, once and for all, to the credit of the great Yankee nation, except in a single instance, I experienced nothing but polite and respectful treatment while I was a captive in their hands. The single instance referred to was of a very common soldier, wo, it seems, had just lost his brother that night, and who came up, and pointing to me, said he wanted to shoot “that d—-d secesh.” My guards sternly ordered him off, and even threatened to shoot him if he did not at once absent himself. But this is anticipating, for the incident happened after we reached the rear.

The rear of the enemy’s forces to which I was next conducted was then at a point a mile and a half to two miles on this side of Centreville at a farm house beyond and to the right of which lie extensive fields. To the left there is a skirt of woods sufficiently extensive to screen a brigade and a battery of four guns. But of this further on.

Arrived at the rear, we found there a large body of men, amounting, I judge, to near 10,000, scattered over the field and in the grounds around the farm house, all in disarray and all elate with the victory which they then deemed assured. They brought out a chair for me, and a large crowd gathered around, asking innumerable questions, but at the same time politely assuring me I need not answer unless I chose. They asked m how many men we had in the field that day.

I told them I did not know, and that if they did I should not tell them. However, I added, I shouldn’t be surprised if we had at least 60,000 men on the ground, and as many more only a few miles off. They said they had 40,000 in the field and 40,000 in reserve. They asked me if Jeff. Davis didn’t ride a white horse, and was he not on the field? I replied that President Davis rode a white horse at Richmond, and that if not then on the field, he would be there in ample time to turn the tide of battle, if it was really running in their favor, as they said it was. They said they did not care a d—n for the nigger – that they were simply fighting for the flag, and asked me what we were fighting for? I told them they were very candid; that while we were fighting for the same great principle our and their forefathers fought together for side by side through the first revolution, the right to govern ourselves in our own way, without let or hindrance from the outside world, they acknowledged that they were merely fighting for a tawdry piece of bunting, worth about fifty cents a yard – while they were fighting for a simple conventional symbol, we were fighting for our homes and firesides, and every good and holy thing that man holds dear. Much more of the same sort passed, but not a word was said by me (as their reporters wantonly write,) about our having “two full negro regiments” in our Confederate States Army.

During the [?], a great crowd numbering several hundreds gathered around me, (still sitting in my chair,) [?] officers on horseback being on the outskirts and [?]. Tiring somewhat of their countless questions, I politely remarked that if they would [?] their [?] questioning I would make them a comp[?] the whole [?] between the Confederate States and the United States as I understood it, and as I believed every [?] and intelligent man among them would view it if he were only properly enlightened. To this they assented, and I proceeded to do my best under the circumstances. Of course, I cannot here give even an outline of my remarks on that interesting and critical occasion but this much I remember and will not withhold: After going over the main points of Southern Scripture in reference to merely political [?], States Rights, etc., I told them frankly that, although they could outnumber us, we could outfight them; that a vast majority of our people were as brave as Caesar at the head of his conquering legions, while the majority of brave men among them was probably not so vast, that we had the best Generals on our side – Davis, Beauregard, Johnston, Lee, Magruder, Albert Johnston, Ben McCulloch and others – while they had only Scott, whose sands of time are nearly run, and who is altogether too slow for such a “trial of conclusions” as our Generals have [?]; and that as long as we could bring 200,000 men into the field, (and we can do that forever,) the question of victory or defeat is a mere question of generalship. Finally, I told them, that God Almighty, the Supreme, All-wise and [?] Ruler of the Universe, was on our side. That was evidenced by the military [?] of the old Union, which for the last eight years, had required large quantities of arms and munitions of war to be transported to Southern and Southwestern forts, arsenals, armories and other military and naval depots. That it was evidenced at Fort Sumter, when God raised a great storm and scattered their provisioning and reinforcing fleet to the four winds of the sea. Just as the bombardment began. That it was evidenced at Bethel, where it seems that the very stars, in their courses, fought against you Siveras of the North, in that you got on fighting and slaying among yourselves, even before the battle began, demoralizing your forces and thus assuring us an easy victory against the most desperate odds. That it was further abundantly evidenced in the unexampled food crops with which the good God has blessed us, thus forever thwarting your expressed determination to starve us out, by blockading us from Cairo all the way round to the sea. And, finally, I should not be surprised if some signal interposition of Divine Providence should not be exhibited in our favor here at Bull Run today.

All this, and more like it, I substantially said, and yet they did not slay me where I sat. The truth is, I thought I was doomed to a long and dreary imprisonment or exile at least, and, perhaps, felt a little desperate. They heard me politely, and, so far from mocking or hissing, seemed rather to like, if not the matter, at least the exceeding novelty of my remarks, and the intense strangeness of “the situation” generally.

Nearly all the time I was with them the Yankees were particularly severe on our “masked batteries,” sneeringly asking, “How many masked batteries have you?” I told them we had them almost everywhere, and particularly in places where they would least expect them. I knew not that even while I spoke one of our batteries was moving up behind the skirt of woods to which I have alluded, for the purpose of giving them a surprise such as the world has rarely seen.

I observed that most of them seemed to be unaccustomed to the use of arms, handling them awkwardly, and showing very palpable symptoms of trepidation whenever even one of their own muskets or rifles was fired a short distance off. But when, as I have foreshadowed, our big guns (Kemper’s battery) backed by the South Carolina brigade, came up on them unperceived and commenced firing on them from their right flank, all scattered about the houses and fields as they were – oh, then you ought to have seen them break and run! The two rough-hewn fellows who had me in charge snatched me up by either arm and dragged me in the grand melee at more than “double-quick,” across an open field, for more than two hundred yards; and, when the fire grew hotter, and some of their men began to fall, they forgot all about me, dropped me and their muskets, and everything else they had about them that would encumber their flight – knapsacks, haversacks, cartridge-boxes, canteens and all – and ran for dear life. As did my guards in the matter of shedding their encumbrances, so did nearly the entire division. The woods and fields were strewed with the “spoils of war.” All this time the officers – or at least some of them – were shouting, “Don’t run, men; don’t run!” while they themselves were making quite as good time as their men. Very quietly I picked up one of my guards’ muskets (I have it yet), and taking a direction to the right across their line of racing. I was soon safely out of the rabble rout, and happily ensconced under a tree in a woodland hard by, where I sat down to await the chances of battle, already decided – though I did not then know it positively – gloriously in our favor.

It was, I think, not more than an hour before the skirmishers of a South Carolina Regiment came up, and after requiring me to give an account of myself, which being satisfactory, I went on with them a short distance, and a little after sunset saw the last gun fired by Kemper’s battery at the broken and disordered elements of the enemy as they scampered pell mell into and through Centreville on their way to Washington, and to everlasting disgrace. It was by use of these last guns, I suppose, that my gallant horse and the officer that commanded the detachment which took me prisoner were slain. Requiecsat in pace!

Returning that night towards the headquarters, the South Carolina Brigade, in whose hospitable company I found myself bivouacked at various places on the battlefield, until finally, about three o’clock in the morning of Monday, we arrived at the headquarters of Gen. Evans, where we laid down on the ground, and on [?] blankets, in the rain, until we got sufficiently wet to wake us up – about 6 ½ or 7 o’clock.

My captors belonged to a regiment of Wisconsin, the [?*], I believe. After they ran off and left me, dropping every portable thing they had, I picked up the fine military great coat of one of their officers – Lieut. W[ise?], I suppose, was his name, from an envelope in the pocket which I have yet, and which my baggage being at the Junction, was of especial service in shielding me from the cold and rain of several succeeding nights and days.

Begging pardon, Messrs. Editors, for having trespassed so long upon your patience.

I am, yours, very respectfully,
J. P. PRYOR

The (Huntsville, AL) Democrat, 8/28/1861

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* An account in the Baltimore Sun, reprinted in the Richmond Dispatch on 7/25/1861, identifies these as members of the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry, and the soldier capturing Pryor as Pvt. Hasbrouck. It also identifies Pryor as a cousin of Roger A. Pryor.

This account refutes, per other Southern accounts, claims in Northern papers that Pryor told his captors there were units of black confederate soldiers on the field that day. See this post by Andy Hall.

I suspect, but can’t state with certainty, that the author is John Pope Pryor, a journalist, who was later enlisted in the Nathan Bedford Forrest’s 3rd Tennessee Cavalry, and still later coauthored The Campaigns of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and of Forrest’s Cavalry.

J. P. Pryor at Fold3

J. P. Pryor at FindAGrave





#2 – Brig. Gen. Robert C. Schenck

11 12 2020

Report of Brig. Gen. Robert C. Schenck, U. S. Army. [On the Action at Vienna, June 17, 1861]

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 126-128

Left camp with 668 rank and file, 29 field and company officers, in pursuance of General McDowell’s orders, to go upon this expedition with the available force of one of my regiments, the regiment selected being the First Ohio Volunteers. Left two companies—Company I and Company K, aggregate 135 men—at the crossing of the roads. Sent Lieutenant-Colonel Parrott, with two companies, 117 men, to Falls Church, and to patrol roads in that direction. Stationed two companies—D and F, 135 men—to guard railroad and bridge between the crossing and Vienna. Proceeded slowly to Vienna with four companies—Company E, Captain Paddock; Company C, Lieutenant Woodward, afterwards joined by Captain Pease ; Company G, Captain Bailey ; Company H, Hazlett ; total, 271 men.

On turning the curve slowly, within one-quarter of a mile of Vienna, were fired upon by raking masked batteries of, I think, three guns, with shells, round-shot, and grape, killing and wounding the men on the platform and in the cars before the train could be stopped. When the train stopped, the engineer could not, on account of damage to some part of the running machinery, draw the train out of the fire, the engine being in the rear. We left the cars, and retired to right and left of train through the woods. Finding that the enemy’s batteries were sustained by what appeared about a regiment of infantry and by cavalry, which force we have since understood to have been some fifteen hundred South Carolinians, we fell back along the railroad, throwing out skirmishers on both flanks; and this was about 7 p. m. Thus we retired slowly, bearing off our wounded, five miles, to this point, which we reached at 10 o’clock.

Casualties.—Captain Hazlett’s company, H, 2 known to be killed, 3 wounded, 5 missing; Captain Bailey’s company, G, 3 killed, 2 wounded, 2 missing; Captain Paddock’s company, E, 1 officer slightly wounded; Captain Pease’s, 2 missing.

The engineer, when the men left the cars, instead of retiring slowly, as I ordered, detached his engine with one passenger car from the rest of the disabled train and abandoned us, running to Alexandria, and we have heard nothing from him since. Thus we were deprived of a rallying point, and of all means of conveying the wounded, who had to be carried on litters and in blankets. We wait here, holding the roads for reenforcements. The enemy did not pursue.

I have ascertained that the enemy’s force at Fairfax Court-House, four miles from Vienna, is now about four thousand.

When the batteries opened upon us, Major Hughes was at his station on the foremost platform car. Colonel McCook was with me in one of the passenger cars. Both these officers, with others of the commissioned officers and many of the men, behaved most coolly under this galling fire, which we could not return, and from batteries which we could not flank or turn from the nature of the ground, if my force had been sufficient. The approach to Vienna is through a deep, long cut in the railway. In leaving the cars, and before they could rally, many of my men lost haversacks or blankets, but brought off all their muskets, except, it may be, a few that were destroyed by the enemy’s first fire or lost with the killed.

ROBT. C. SCHENCK,
Brigadier- General.

[Received at the War Department June 18,1861.]

I am enabled now to give you additional and exact details of the affair near Vienna last evening. A perfectly reliable Union man, residing in Vienna, [and who] was there during the attack, has arrived, bringing with him, in patriotic and Christian kindness, the six bodies of our killed who were left behind. I have sent them to Camp Lincoln by the train which has just left for burial. He reports also one wounded man remaining at Vienna, John Volmer, of Company G, for whom I have just sent an assistant surgeon and two men with the same gentleman who brought the killed in his wagon, carrying a flag of truce, to be displayed if necessary. When the wounded man arrives I will send him forward by a train to my camp, to be conveyed from there to Georgetown Hospital by ambulance.

The casualties, as I now am able accurately to state them, are as follows:

Dead, 8.—Captain Hazlett’s: 1st, George Morrison, of Company H, brought in to-day. 2d, David Mercer, of same company, brought off the field to this place, and died here. 3d, Daniel Sullivan, of Captain Bailey’s company, G. 4th, Joseph Smith, Company G, brought in to-day. 5th, Philip Strade, Company G. 6th, Thomas Finton, Company G. 7th, Eugene Burke, Company G. 8th, J. R. T. Barnes, Company G, shot in the passenger car that was carried away from us by the engineer, and died on his way to this camp.

Wounded and yet living, 4.—1st, David Gates, Company G, dangerously. 2d, B. F. Lanman, Company G, severely, but not dangerously. 3d, Henry Pigman, Company H, dangerously. (Those three were sent to the hospital this morning.) 4th, John Volmer, Company G, supposed dangerously; yet at Vienna and sent for.

Total killed and wounded, 12. None, I believe, are now missing.

From the same reliable source I ascertain that the whole force attacking us was at least 2,000, as follows: South Carolina troops, 800; these had left Fairfax Court-House on Sunday and gone over to the railway; two [hundred] came down yesterday through Hunter’s Grove. They sent, anticipating our coming to Fairfax Court-House, for 2,000 additional infantry, of whom only from 600 to 1,000 arrived before the attack. The enemy had cavalry, numbering, it is believed, not less than 200, and, in addition to these, was a body of 150 armed picked negroes, who were posted nearest us in a grain field on our left flank, but not observed by us, as they lay flat in the grain and did not fire a gun. The enemy had three pieces of artillery, concealed by the curve of the railway as we passed out of the cut, and more pieces of ordnance—six, our informant believes—arrived on the field, but not in time for action. The three pieces thus placed were fired very rapidly; must have been managed by skillful artillerists; but I cannot learn who was in command of the enemy. Our men picked up and brought away several round and grape shot, besides two or three shells, which did not explode because the Borman fuse had not been cut. This raking fire was kept up against the cars and upon us as we retired through the woods and along each side of the railway. Its deadliest effect was on Company G, on the third platform car from the front, and on Company H, on the second platform car. Company E, on the foremost car, was not touched. The first firing raked the train diagonally with round shot; the other, before the train came to a full stop, was cross-firing with canister and shells through the hind cars. The pieces were at a distance of about 150 yards, and no muskets or rifles were brought into action.

The rebels must have believed that our number far exceeded the little force of 271, or else I cannot understand why they made no pursuit nor came out, as we could discover, from the rise of ground behind which they were posted with their overwhelming numbers.

The enemy’s whole force left Vienna last night between 10 and 12 o’clock; supposed to have gone to Fairfax Court-House. It is understood that there is a considerable force assembled at that point, but cannot ascertain how many. None of the bridges have been burned, nor the railway interfered with, between this point and Vienna since we came down the road.

I send this, as we remain at this point without other facilities for correspondence or writing except to communicate by the Army telegraph, and I trust you will accept it in place of a formal written report.

I am, just now ordered by Brigadier-General Tyler to move forward with my brigade in the direction of Falls Church, for which I am now getting in readiness. I have already spoken of the skill and coolness with which Colonel McCook and Major Hughes, with other officers, helped to conduct our retirement to this place. It was a very slow and painful march, carrying in the arms of the men and in blankets and on rude litters made by the way their wounded comrades. But I must not omit to mention others.

Adjt. J. S. Parrott, my aide, Lieutenant Raynor, and Surgeon McMallen gave effective assistance. The company officers who were under fire generally behaved with coolness and gallantry. Captain Pease, of Company C, especially distinguished himself in protecting our rear and flanks, and I warmly recommend him to favorable consideration. The non-commissioned officers and men generally also behaved extremely well on the march, as we retired along the road. Captain Crowe, with Company D, which was among those I had left as patrol guards on the railway as we passed up, came up handsomely at double-quick step to our support, and Lieut. Col. E. A. Parrott, with his detachment of two companies, which had been thrown out to Falls Church and on the roads in that neighborhood, hearing of the attack on our advance, hastened by a cross-road to the line of the railroad to join and give us any support required.

I have, in my former dispatch, mentioned the disregard of my instructions and cowardly desertion of us by the engineer of the train. His name, I understand, is Gregg. One of the brakemen, Dormin, joined us, and carried a musket and gave good help. The enemy, I learn, burned that part of the train which was abandoned by the engineer.

ROBT. C. SCHENCK,
Brigadier- General.





Lieut. Douglas French Forrest, Co. H,* 17th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

23 07 2020

A GRAPHIC PICTURE.
—————

We have been permitted to copy the following extracts from a letter written by a young officer who greatly distinguished himself at the battle of Manassas.

Should his modesty take offence at the publication of his frank expressions of feeling and unreserved narration of events, our apology is found in the fact that the original was placed at our disposal byt the courtesy of those to whom it was addressed.

The style is singularly copious, and the descriptive passages especially fine; and the more to be admired when we reflect that the letter was written, a la Pope**, upon fugitive scraps of paper, and currente calamo.***

THE NIGHT BEFORE THE BATTLE.

Saturday night was spent in watching. – The enemy’s bugle, his drum, the rumble of his baggage trains and artillery; not only these, but their very words of command, being distinctly audible in the silent night.

The next morning partly refreshed, we were ordered over the ford, (Bull Run,) as scouts in that direction. I was creeping over the field, when the enemy threw a shell at my party, which exploded just in advance of us. Here we passed a body, one of the Massachusetts slain, (shot the day before,) blackened and ghastly.

After a few hours we were ordered to our reserve, and, without breakfast, to deploy as skirmishers. The first reserve had been left in charge of Willie Fowle. I led the second further on, while the Captain placed himself in the skirt of wood, having established a line of sentries. Here we watched the enemy’s batteries, and would report their movements to the General. Becoming anxious about him, I left my reserve under Zimmerman, and advanced on the spot. The Captain said: “Don, I am awfully sleepy, and will just take a little nap, if you will watch those fellows there.” I cheerfully acquiesced, and relieved Jordan, one of our men who was the actual look-out at the fence. Here I lay on my face, my time pleasantly occupied with the proceedings at the batteries, the ceaseless explosions of the guns and rattle of musketry from the great fight below being in strange contrast with the quiet scenery of mountains and valleys!

SHOWING HOW YANKEE SPORTSMEN FLUSHED GAME AND THEMSELVES TOOK WING.

I unclasped my sword bet and yielded myself to the seductions of the scene, and was startled from my almost reverie by the cry of Lovelace, one of our men, posted on the right: “Look out, Lieutenant! Here they are!” Looking around I saw their skirmishers within about thirty yards with their pieces at a ready, and advancing, just as sportsmen approach a covey of partridges. I shouted to the Captain, and we dashed into the woods. I then asked him if we should fight them? He said, “he reckoned we had.” I then yelled to the boys, “Come on, Old Dominions! Now’s your chance! Now is the chance you’ve waited for!” This shout of mine was heard by our forces on the other side of the Run. The boys say I said “Isn’t it Glorious!” But I don’t remember. On came the boys. I led them, pointed out the Yankees, and we drove them out of the woods and completely put them to flight. As we drove them into the field, the enemy’s battery, about four hundred yards off, opened on us with grape and cannister, and we ordered a retreat; not, however, before our men returned it, firing right at the guns, wounding, as I have since learned from a prisoner, several of their men.

THE “IRON DICK” BATTLE.

We were exposed nearly half a mile without support. The enemy had our range completely, and we were in great peril – the balls whizzing and humming all around us. Fowle, who had advanced his reserve, and behaved with great coolness, says the line of skirmishers extended a long way and intended to cut us off; but we gave a yell, and as I have said, drove them home. Arthur was too slow in retreat even after he had given the order. I had to turn back twice too look for him.

How the balls rattled! Every man would sometimes have to get behind a tree to escape the “dreaded storm.”

A SOLDIER’S GRAVE.

McDermot, one of our men, was killed by a grape-shot. On yesterday I buried him. He had lain out all night, and our eyes filled with woman’s tears as we covered him with his blanket, and left him to sleep on the field where he had fallen. Hurdles put a head and foot mark at his grave, with the inscription in pencil:

Dennis McDermot, of the Old Dominion Rifles, of Alexandria, Va, died in battle, July 21, 1861, a gallant soldier and a good man.”

THE RETREAT OF THE “GRAND ARMY.”

What a glorious day Sunday was for the South! When the rout of the enemy came, down the long line of Bull Run (Yankee’s Run? Eds.) up went a shout! Oh! how grand it was! Imagine the quiet woods through which the watching bayonets glittered silently, suddenly alive with triumphant hurrahs! From right to left, and left to right, for seven miles they were repeated! Then came to order to advance, and as we left the woods and gained the high and open ground, the grandest spectacle I ever saw met my eyes. Company after company, regiment after regiment, brigade after brigade, army after army of our troops appeared We halted to enjoy the sight, and as our glorious artillery and dashing cavalry spurred by in pursuit, shout after shout rent the air. General Longstreet, our Brigade Commander, rode along our line with his staff and thousands of men flung their caps in the air, or swung them on their bayonets. Col. Corse our gallant little Colonel got his meed of hurrahs; next, an old negro who rode by with his gun, got no small salute. And then the sunset came in a perfect glory of light sifted through the leaves.

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/3/1861

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This letter also appears in History of the 17th Virginia Regiment, C.S.A, by George Wise

* Per Col. Montgomery Corse’s Official Report,  Co. H (Capt. Herbert) was advanced across Bull Run as skirmishers on the morning of the 21st. The roster in the above referenced regimental history lists three lieutenants in Co. H: Wm. H. Fowle, Jr; D. F. Forrest; and W. W. Zimmerman. As the letter writer identifies Fowle and Zimmerman in his narrative, and is identified as a lieutenant, this letter was likely written by 2nd Lt. D. F. Forrest.

** Alexander Pope wrote his translation of Homer’s Illiad on the backs of scraps of otherwise used paper.

*** Without deep reflection, extemporaneous, “off the cuff.”

Douglas French Forrest bio

Douglas French Forrest at Ancestry.com 

Douglas French Forrest at Fold3 

Douglas French Forrest at FindAGrave 

 





Unknown Irishman, Co. B, 2nd Vermont Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

29 06 2020

From the Manchester Journal
A CHARACTERISTIC LETTER.

From an Irishman in the Castelton Company of the 2d Vt. Regiment:

Bush Hill, Fairfax Co.
July 26, 1861.

Dear Friend Patrick, – I received your letter last night with the greatest pleasure. It is the first word I have heard from any of my old friends since I have been here, and anything that comes from Vermont seems worth more to me than the whole Southern States. Patrick you asked me if I was in that fight. Oh, yes indeed I was, and God only knows what a fight we had to: it was one of the hardest battles ever fought. It was a very hot day, and we were very much furtuiged on so long a march, but we fought very brave, but all in vain. There were only 20,000 of our men, and they had about 90,000, and was fresh and hid in the woods, and had 48 rifel cannon behind heavy breastworks. We only had 20 pieces of cannon, and in an open field, and after we got out of ammunitions we was forced to retreat for our lives, and left them in possession of the field, and as the d–d savages ralied on us they run our wounded men through with their bayornets, and burned an old house where there was a good many of our wounded caried to have their wounds dressed. They took all the advantage they could. They raised the stars and stripes once, and we thought they were going to give up, but when we got clost up to them drawed it down and raised their d—l—h palmetto, then opened upon us with a volley of grape which killed about 200 of the Michigan First Regiment and then run into the woods. They took every way to whip us, but we killed more of there men, yes 3 times as many. They tried to surround us, but did not succeed. They made an atact on us as we returned. In those long woods they had a company of 400 black horses; it is called the black horse cavalry; we killed a good part of them, and the rest was glad to retreat and leave us. I wish you had been there to have picked up some of the swords and revolvers and rifuls. I picked up as many as I could carry, but we had to cross over a bridge, and there they had some cannon that was worked by the infernal black Nigars, and weakened the bridge, and it broke down with us and we lost our cannon in the stream, and I was forsed to drop my load of stuff. They killed about 500 men in all. To the bridge we lost our tents and every thing we had onley what we had on our back, and we marched all that night and the next day till noon. It commenced to rain the next morning, and we were as wet as a drouned rat; our feet was a soiled blister and we was so lame and tiard that I could lain down by the road-side and died with the greatest pleasure. – We all went to Alexandria. We got together and went down to Bush Hill last night, about four miles from Alexandria, to camp and recruit for another fight, which will be before long. We have been for the last 2 weeks where money was of no use; we shot hogs and cows and hens and every thing we could get, and stuck it on a stick, and roasted it and eat it without eny salt or eny bread, but we are in hopes of better times now, and I hope we shall have better times. I never saw hard times before, and I hope I never shall again, but I never will run away. I will fight as long as I can.

I wish you could see some of the women here; they are very poor and lean, with ragged clothes, and have no hoops on – nothing but a shirt and an old nasty torne dress, with four or five nasty young ones hanging on to her. Se puts me in mind of an old setting turkey that has sot about eight weeks on rotten eggs – and they cannot read or write; live in the woods in little old log house, and thier men hunt and fish and gamble and drink champaigne and whiskey; some are married and some are not married. I did not see any stoves; all of them has an old-fashioned fire-plase. The hogs run wild here. The water is very poor. You do not know how the country is covered with woods; it is a k—d wild barberaus place; the timber is mostly oak, white. How many is killed from our Regiment I do not know; four from our company. It is agoing to be an awful hard job to whip them, if we ever do. Give my best respects to all my acquaintances.

In haste, yours truly.

Vermont Watchman, 8/23/1861

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2nd Vermont Infantry Roster 





Vivandiere, 7th Louisiana Infantry*, On Blackburn’s Ford and the Battle (2)

8 05 2020

Vivandiere, 7th Louisiana Infantry*, On Blackburn’s Ford and the Battle (2)

From the Seat of War in Virginia.
—————

Special to the New Orleans Crescent

Headquarters Seventh Regiment La. Vols.
2 ½ Miles from Centreville, VA, August 3.

Mr. Editor – My multitudinous duties of a military character have kept me so constantly employed for the past few days as to cause me, unwillingly, to delay the “continuation” of my letter of the 23rd ult., relative to the great battles of Bull Run and Stone Bridge, or “Manassas.” Of the full particulars of both these memorable battles, you are, ere this, fully informed through other correspondents, and the official returns published in the Richmond papers and the Northern press. Even the interesting episodes of which such tragic scenes are always so prolific have been ere this served upon the public platter, as food for the insatiable appetite, proceeding from the “animal which is in man,” and hashed and re-hashed until they have become insipid and tasteless.

A few incidents which either occurred under my own observation, or for the truthfulness whereof I will vouch, have thus far however escaped other argus-eyed correspondents for the press, and I will claim for the Crescent the honor of being fist in the field with them. Of one of these, the historian should make note, as a link forever binding the name of Beauregard to that of all that is truly great and honorable.

It was not until late in the afternoon of the eventful 21st that President Davis arrived on the battle-field, and Beauregard had from an elevated stand-point seen the last gallant horseman of our pursuing cavalry disappear in the distance after the retreating Federalists ere he was informed of the President’s coming. I was near him, as his staff and the field-officers of the day approached to congratulate him on his safety and his victory. He was thus occupied when one of his aids approached at the top of his horse’s speed and announced the fact of the President’s arrival and request to have the pleasure of seeing him immediately. The reply of Beauregard was firm and unimpassioned: “I cannot wait upon the President himself till I have first seen and attended to the wants of my wounded!” This saying he turned his horse in the direction of the most fatal portion of the bloody field. Such a man is our Beauregard.

In conversation with many apparently intelligent Yankee prisoners, and from letters picked up on the field of battle, we gain a much better idea of public sentiment at the North than is discoverable from the perusal of the hireling papers of that section. When asked why they had taken up arms against us and invaded our soil, many of the prisoners would reply that they had enlisted for three months with a view of protecting the “National Capital” against a “Southern mob,” and had been marched, against their wills and wishes, into Southern territory, and would prefer to remain prisoners at Richmond until the suspension of hostilities than to rejoin the “grand army” of Northern aggression and invasion. I was engaged, at Manassas Junction, a day or two after the battle of the 21st, in conversation with a prisoner, a Sergeant in a Connecticut regiment, when a large and good natured looking darkie, belonging to an officer from South Carolina, came in, having in charge two live Yankee prisoners, whom he had surprised, disarmed, and captured, unaided. The negro was much pleased with his exploit, and became the lion of the hour. My Connecticut sergeant appeared somewhat astonished that the negroes – the downtrodden, bechained, bestrapped, misused, maltreated and crushed – should thus turn upon their liberators and friends (?). Your correspondent “took occasion” to read Connecticut a homily, with the above mentioned circumstance for a text, and felt sufficiently repaid for my efforts, in my first lesson, in the assurance on the parted Nutmeg, that there had “no doubt been considerable fault on both sides.”

The regiment to which I am attached, the Seventh of Louisiana, under Col. Hays, is now encamped on the battle-field of Bull Run, abut two hundred yards from Blackburn’s Ford, across which the enemy attempted to force a passage – and did’nt. The Sixth, of Louisiana, (Col. Seymour’s,) is quartered to our left a few hundred yards, and the Washington Artillery about a mile farther up the Run. The Ninth is at Manassas Junction. All the Louisiana troops in this section have been formed into a Brigade, under command of Senior Colonel Seymour, which arrangement appears to be generally satisfactory to all.

I have just had placed in my hands the monthly reports of the several companies of the Seventh Regiment, from which I collate the following of the killed and wounded in the late battles:

Continental Guards, Capt. Geo. Clark – Killed, Wm. Maylau on the 18th ult., and Thos. R. Clay on the 21st. Wounded, Sergeant [?], and Privates Jno. Flynn and J. W. Kelly, all on the 21st.

Crescent Rifles, Company B, Capt H. T. Jett – Killed, Jno. S. Brooks, on the 18th ult. Wounded, Corporal Chas. V. Fisher, on the 21st, doing well.

American Rifles, Capt. Wm. D. Rickarby – Wounded, Wm. Stanton, slightly, in the battle of the 21st.

Irish volunteers, of Lafourche, Capt. W. B. Ratliff – Killed [?] Murphy, 21st; Wounded on the 21st. Corporal Fallan lost an arm, James Hammond, Jas. McCarty, Francis Manley and Timothy Noon.

Baton Rouge Fencibles – Wounded, 21st, J. T. [?] and W. H. Banks.

Virginia Blues, Capt. D. A Wilson, Jr. – Killed, Miles Smythe, July 18; Wounded, Patrick Cane and Jno. McMahan. Total killed, 5; wounded, 14.

Of the loss of the Eighth Regiment, I see you are already informed, and also relative to the cutting up of Wheat’s Battalion.

Our boys are in the best of spirits, and eager for more fighting.

I enclose you a discourse delivered by our Chaplain, Rev. Dr. Howard of New Orleans, on the Sunday succeeding the great battle of Stone Bridge, on the very spot where the battle raged the hottest on the ever memorable 21st of July. It was entirely extemporaneous, and written out afterwards from recollection. I send it to you by urgent request of nearly all our officers, and very many others who were present on the occasion of its delivery. It will well repay perusal. More anon.

Vivandiere

New Orleans (LA) Daily Crescent, 8/6/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

*The writer’s enlistment in the 7th Louisiana is assumed, but not certain.





Correspondent Peter Wellington Alexander On His Arrival at Manassas

25 09 2013

Our Correspondent Arrives at Manassas

Army of the Potomac,

Manassas Junction, July 20, 1861

I arrived here late this afternoon, having left Richmond early this morning and been on the road nearly the whole day. The use of the road for the past few days has been surrendered up almost entirely to the military authorities, and so great is the demand for transportation by the War Department, that it is with difficulty that the trains can manage to get through under less than ten to twelve hours.

As the great battle of the campaign will, in all probability, have been fought and decided before this reaches you, it will not be amiss, especially since the fact is already known to the enemy, to say that General Johnston has arrived here from Winchester with the greater part of his forces recently stationed at that place. What is the precise number of the troops brought with him, I am unable to say. Some of them are still on the road, and are expected to get in some time to-night. Among those who reached here to-day, were the 7th, 9th, and 11th Georgia Regiments, under Colonel Bartow, Gartrell, and Goulding, the brigade under the command of Col. Bartow. I have not been able to see any one who is attached to the brigade, owing to the lateness of the hour at which I arrived, but I learn that all three of the regiments were, immediately upon their arrival, ordered forward to an advanced position upon Bull’s Run, near Union Mills, where the Alexandria & Manassas Railroad crosses the creek. That they will give a good account of themselves in the great battle that is impending, you may feel perfectly assured.

Gen. Johnston ranks Gen. Beauregard, and consequently he will succeed to the command, at least nominally, in the approaching conflict. This seems to have occasioned some regret among the troops who have been stationed here, since Gen. Beauregard has had all the labor of arranging the camp, perfecting the works and preparing the ground for what we all believe will be a great victory. It would be impossible, however, for any officer to supersede him in fact, though he may be outranked under the rules of the War Department. Whatever may be the result, therefore, to “little Beaury” will belong the honor, now and hereafter.

In addition to the forces brought down by Gen. Johnston, I learn that 2,300 men arrived here this morning from Aquia Creek under command of Brig. Gen. Holmes. They marched across the country a distance of 30 miles since yesterday morning. This force is composed chiefly of Tennesseeans, with some companies from Arkansas. The men are said to look very much as if they would not ask for more than one bite at a Yankee.

It is generally conceded that Patterson has moved down the Potomac from Martinsburg to the relief of Gen. McDowell, and that he took with him his entire force. The number of the enemy now before us cannot be less than 75,000. That Gen. Scott will risk such an army in the hands of either McDowell or Patterson, or both of them, is not believed for one moment. When the great contest does take place, he will take the command of the Federal forces himself. If he does not, it will be because he expects defeat. Our own forces are believed to be at least a third less than those which are arrayed against us.

The impression prevails here that there will be a grand battle to-morrow, and that we will be the attacking party this time. I have been here too short a time to venture and opinion myself, but I should not be surprised if, in the next few days, we did not witness a series of active operations, culminating by or before the middle of next week in a pitched battle, in which all the forces on both sides will be engaged.

I have said nothing so far of the Battle of Bull’s Run, for the reason that you will find, in the Richmond papers this morning, and especially the Examiner, a better account of it than I could possibly give you. A few facts may be mentioned, however, that will not fail to interest your readers. The first is, that the battle was opened by Sherman’s famous battery, under the protection of whose fire the enemy’s infantry advanced upon our lines. Nearly all the shells passed over our men and exploded beyond them. Not so with the New Orleans Washington Artillery which was opposed to Sherman’s Battery, and whose guns did horrible execution. Indeed, it is believed that but for the precision and destructiveness of their fire, the enemy would have approached nearer and in greater numbers, and that our victory would have been greater than it was. The Federal battery changed its position fifteen times during the engagement, and at last left the field minus one of its guns which we captured, together with 501 small arms.

Soon after getting here, I encountered a little drummer boy of fourteen summers from Lynchburg., who says he went over the field soon after the battle with the hope of getting a little revolver. He examined the pockets of a score or more of the dead without finding a solitary “red,” his only trophy being an odd looking dirk with a buckhorn handle and a due bill for seven dollars from one Dutchman to another.

Another lad, a marker for the Alexandria Rifles, appearing upon the field, was ordered to the hospital by his Captain as a place of safety. The little fellow was not pleased with the order, though he obeyed it, but when the battle began to wax warm, he stole back and seizing the gun of a disabled soldier he succeeded in killing one Hessian and wounding the second.

Some of the officers have furnished their servants with revolvers, and it is asserted to be a fact that these negroes made several captures during the fight on Thursday. One of them, Dick Langhorn, from Lynchburg; a strapping fellow, shot down one man, his ball taking effect through the shoulder; and when all his barrels had been discharged, he rushed upon another whom he knocked down with  his pistol. Seizing the two by the collars, he started to carry them to his master, when one of them showed a disposition to resist; whereupon Dick turned to him and said: “See here, Massa, you’d better come ‘long, or dis here nigger will hurt you, see ef he don’t.” Seeing the d—l in Dick’s eye, he submitted, and the two were carried prisoners to the Colonel of the Regiment, the Eleventh Virginia.

Hampton’s Legion and the 13th Mississippi Regiment have just arrived, and the 11th Mississippi is expected some time to-night. A few days would increase our forces materially. North Carolina is sending up some of the finest regiments I have seen, and about three a week.

P. W. A.

Savannah Republican, 7/26/1861

William B. Styple, Ed., Writing and Fighting the Confederate War: The Letters of Peter Wellington Alexander Confederate War Correspondent, pp 18-19





“There are three grown negroes there doing nothing, and wants men to build him a kitchen.”

25 06 2013

I came across a couple of passages today that got me thinking, the way things get you thinking to the point where you can’t read any further until you sort those thoughts out a bit. Do something about them. My current read is the very fine Voices from Company D, a collection of diaries by members of the Greensboro Guards, 5th Alabama Infantry, edited by G. Ward Hubbs. It really is a must read for anyone studying the war. I’ve had it for a long time and am just getting around to actually reading it, as opposed to skimming. Currently I’m in January of 1863, and this entry by John Henry Cowin (who, despite being a doctor and graduate of Philadelphia’s Jefferson Medical College, served as a private) got me to thinking (p. 138):

January 13, Tuesday…Col. Hall ordered today a detail from the different companies to go to Camp and build him a kitchen. Capt Renfrew refused to send him any man and Capt Williams sent him word that he could not get any more men for such a purpose. There are three grown negroes there doing nothing, and wants men to build him a kitchen.

This got me thinking on two levels (at least), one being that CW armies in many ways were not armies as many of us understand them today, whether that understanding comes from service, study, or simply watching dozens of movies over the years. Many of us tend to think that orders are orders, yet we run across so many instances of orders not necessarily being orders in Civil War armies of independent-minded citizen soldiers. (By the way, Renfro – inconsistent spelling – was arrested the next day, though Williams was not.) The Colonel detailing soldiers for manual labor of a personal nature while more “appropriate” personnel for such duty was available was seen as adding insult to injury. The passage gives the lie to the first line of defense of many who try to downplay the role of slavery as a cause of the war – that only fillintheblank percent of southerners actually owned slaves. As if actual ownership of human chattel was the single criteria for interest in seeing the institution perpetuated. This plays into one of my other on-going interests regarding how slavery as a character-molding fact of life in the south affected the efficiency and capabilities of the Confederate military.

Just three days later, another Cowin entry caught my attention (p. 140):

January 16, Friday…Last night about ten o’clock it began to rain and continued until day light this morning. Six of us were under a fly. (The tent being occupied by Britton’s Servant who is very sick with Typhoid Fever.) Our blankets all got perfectly saturated with the rain, and occasionally a large drop of water would fall in my face rendering all hopes of sleep vain. I could only lay there and amuse myself dodging from the drops of rain and wishing fro day light to come…Britton’s Servant John died today about half past twelve o’clock and was buried this afternoon. No coffin could be procured and he was buried as a soldier, wrapped in his blanket.

This second passage illustrates the complexity of viewing slavery with minds formed in the latter part of the 20th Century. It’s difficult to reconcile the inhuman nature of human bondage with the image of six white men huddled under a tent fly in a rainstorm while a servant, presumably a slave, lies dying as the sole occupant of their nice, dry tent, and with the fact that they  made an effort to procure a coffin for the man before burying him “as a soldier.” What do you think?





Pvt. George Plaskett, Co. E, 14th New York State Militia, On the Battle

29 11 2012

From the War.

Mr. James Plaskett has received a very interesting letter from his son, who was in the fight Sunday, as a member of the 14th regiment New York militia. We make a few extracts. He says:

We had to march about 17 miles over a rough road, and without stopping, as our division was behind time. The last mile and a half we were put forward in double quick time, so that we went into action tired out. After fighting until our artillery ammunition – 2600 rounds – was used up, we had to retreat, and fall back for some six miles, to a point leading out of the wood, where we received a murderous fire from the enemy, which proved very disastrous, killing our Colonel, and wounding one Lieut. Colonel. One of the most inhuman occurrences which we were compelled to witness that day, was the destruction of a building erected by us for a temporary hospital. The building was about a mile from the batteries, and was filled with the wounded and dying, and they were also lying all around the outside of the building. The rebels pointed their guns, and threw bomb-shells into the building, which blew it up and killed all who were in and around the building. A negro regiment came on to the field after the fight was over, and killed all those who showed signs of life.

The sight upon the battle-field, in view of the carnage, was a sad one to me: legs, arms, and heads off.

There were only 18,000 of our troops in the engagement, against 80,000 or 90,000 of the rebels. We were on the move from 2 A. M. Sunday till Monday noon; fought five hours, and marched 60 miles.

Hartford Daily Courant, 7/27/1861

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George Plaskett at Ancestry.com

Contributed by John Hennessy





Oh Boy….

21 03 2012

Today I received the June 2012 issue of Civil War Times magazine. At the top of the cover: Why Gary Gallagher Doesn’t Trust Civil War Bloggers. So that’s where I went straight away – Gallagher’s Blue & Gray column. It turns out the teaser on the cover misrepresents the content of Gallagher’s piece. Sure, he takes nameless bloggers to task for transgressions ranging from saying not-so-nice-things about Gallagher to spending too much time debating “non-issues” like black Confederates (note I’ve included that tag on this post, as I can always use the hits). But the overall tenor of the piece is that the content of blogs is uneven. Gallagher ends with this:

Overall, my limited engagement with the Civil War blogging world has left me alternately informed, puzzled and, on occasion, genuinely amused. I suspect these are common reactions to the mass of valuable information and unfiltered opinion that crowd the multitude of blogs out there.

That sounds a lot like my own thoughts regarding books on the Civil War. In fact, I think you can replace the words “Civil War blogging” in the first sentence and “blogs” in the last and insert just about anything in their place and you’d have an assessment of equal applicability.

Read Kevin Levin’s thoughts here. He has a dog in the fight, so to speak.