Image: Brig. Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

12 01 2023
P. G. T. Beauregard (Wikipedia)
P. G. T. Beauregard (Wikipedia)
P. G. T. Beauregard (Wikipedia)
P. G. T. Beauregard (Wikipedia)
P. G. T. Beauregard (Wikipedia)

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The First Battle of Bull Run by P. G. T. Beauregard





Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard, On Bull’s Run as a Battlefield Name

12 01 2023

Bulls Run as a Battlefield. – The Camden Journal tells us of a pleasant little conversation which occurred between Col. Kershaw and Gen. Beauregard, on the occasion of a visit to the camp. Talking about the probability of this point becoming famous in the history of the war, Col. K. remarked that the place should have a more classic name than Bulls Run, when Gen. B. promptly remarked that it is quite as good as Cowpens. This settled the question.

The Clarke County (Grove Hill, AL) Democrat, 7/18/1861

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Musician/Band Director Timothy Dwight Nutting, 13th Mississippi Infantry, On the Battle, Casualties, and Aftermath

7 12 2022

We publish below a very full and interesting letter descriptive of the battle of Manassas, from the pen of one of our townsmen, Prof. Nutting, Director of the Brass Band attached to the 13th Mississippi Regiment. The letter was addressed to his lady, who has kindly placed it at our disposal.

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Manassas Junction, July 23rd, 1861.

—————, If you have received my last letter (from Lynchburg,) you will be prepared to hear from me here. My head is so confused with the scenes of the last 48 hours, that it seems like moving a mountain, grain by grain, to attempt to give an account of it all. I will write away however, as ideas present themselves, and as long as I can to-day, as I do not know at what moment we may be ordered forward. Sunday morning at 2 o’clock we landed from the cars, having been cooped up in them for 11 days and nights, on our way from Union City, we spread our tents on the ground and laid down on them with nothing over us but the skies and our blankets, at daylight we were summoned to eat breakfast, (after cooking the same,) and holding ourselves in readiness for any orders from Gen. Beauregard. At 7 the Regiment was formed, and we were ordered to a point 4 miles nearly east, where a division of several thousand men was located under Gen. Longstreet, and an attack was expected from the “Yankees” at any moment. Before we had fairly started, the booming guns of the batteries announced that the services had commenced, and upon the way the smoke from their guns was plainly visible. – Our guide took us through a route that exposed us less to the fire of their guns, which they pointed at every moving mass of men or horses that they could discover. Much of the time we were walking in thickets of small pines, which made it very difficult to proceed at all. We finally, after 3 hours marching, took our position as reserve corps, not being in any condition to fight unless required by urgent necessity, being stationed on the south side of a deep ravine calle “Bull’s Run,” upon very high ground, but masked by a skirt of pine trees about 1/2 of a mile through. The batteries of the enemy were constantly playing upon the position which Gen. Longstreet’s troops occupied, and although we were only about 1/2 of a mile from them, (Longstreet’s men,) we had seen none of them, as thickets intervened. The enemy’s batteries now occupied a position nearly 1 1/2 miles north of us on the heights across Bull’s Run and were supported by a very strong force of infantry that had advanced from Centreville and Fairfax Court House, and were intending to take possession of Manassas before night, and proceed directly on to Richmond. By means of a traitor who is taken, they learned perfectly our position and force, and the best route of march to attack, which was to send an immense force west, about 5 miles down the Run, and take Stone Bridge, and march immediately here from the north west. It was for a diversion from this plan that the attack was commenced above and to the eastward, and we were not long halted in the place I have named, before a very strong attack was made at the Stone Bridge, which was sustained by our men at an odds of ten to one until reinforcements could be sent from Manassas consisting of Regiments from several States. Gen. Beauregard saw into the plan immediately, and ordered almost the entire force of artillery, cavalry and infantry, from the eastern wing to the scene of action. Our 13th Regiment was stripped of every thing, knapsacks, blankets, and all but muskets, and ordered to “double quick march” for 5 miles. In such a movement our field music was useless, and Col. Barksdale told us who had no muskets, to fall back and look after our baggage, tents, &c. In returning we passed over a height where we saw distinctly the battle raging about 3 miles to the north west, and a more sublime sight was never witnessed in America. The cannonading was terrific. Sherman’s battery of ten pieces of flying artillery being but a small part of the artillery opposed to our men. The fight lasted till 5 o’clock, which was 9 hours and over, after the attack commenced, and without any cessation of the roar of cannon and rattle of musketry, except for a moment or two, while some flank movements were being made. I cannot stop now to give you many details. the force of the enemy was by their own confession, about 70,000, against which we had at no time, over 35,000, and many of the reinforcements came too late for anything but to join in chasing them in retreat. Our cavalry and artillery followed them back to Fairfax C. H., and made sad havoc among them. They left muskets, rifles, knapsack and blankets on the road and made the best of their way, leaving all their dead and wounded behind on the battle field. Yesterday morning, day after the fight, I saw 500 of the prisoners put on a train for Richmond, who were taken in the battle without being wounded at all. The entire number of prisoners taken so far in this battle, is not less than 1500. Our Regiment and 5 others, went into action in time to make some bayonet charges, which caused the precipitate retreat. – Just at the moment this commenced, Jeff. Dabis arrived from Richmond, jumped on a horse and ordered the cavalry in pursuit, leading them for some time in person. He then returned in season to congratulate the troops on their brilliant victory, which produced the greatest joy and excitement. Now comes the sad part of the tale. Within a long shed not a stones throw from the spot where I am writing, are not less than 800 dead, dying and wounded men. Just before I began my letter, I walked through it, and spent an hour or more, in trying to alleviate suffering – all mingled together, are Southerners and Northerners, brought in from the field in wagons, which have been busy ever since Sunday night in moving those who could not walk. O, and what an idea, that men should be brought to face each other in such plight, who were ready to cut each others throats two days ago! Some would ask imploringly for water. Some to move a limb that was shot and mangled to pieces, others for a Surgeon to dress wounds already filled with living insects. I saw one poor fellow from Minasota with a musket ball wound through his left breast above the back which was swarming so thick with them, that he was trying to dip them out with the end of a large straw. These have all to wait for attention, until our men are attended to, and are in this plight because their men did not stop to take care of them, and all day yesterday, they lay on the battle field in a drenching could rain, till they were picked up by our wagons, and brought to our camps. This is only one of some half dozen places within a half hours walk, each one filled with the same. Twenty wagon loads of the enemy’s dead were taken off the field yesterday, and scarcely a perceptible difference was made in the number on the field., which extends over a distance of about seven miles along the Run, east and west. Our wounded men are sent to Culpeper for attention, so that most that are here now, are of the enemy, who are to be sent to Richmond as fast as possible. It is impossible to compute the number killed and wounded on each side, but it is immense, and I trust will be the last battle needed to bring our enemies to their senses. I have talked with more than twenty of them, and find the same account from them all. They say they came to Washington to defend the Capitol, and they have been ordered over here contrary to the terms of their enlistment. Most of these in this battle enlisted for three months, which expired on Saturday the 20th, their officers told them they should go into it or be branded as deserters, and the first one who grumbled would be shot down. They all say they will never be coaxed ot compelled to fight again.

Their expectations and the promises of their officers were that they would have possession of Manassas junction on Sunday and proceed to Richmond immediately and use up our Rebel organization in a hurry – all these things ae from such men as Dr. Powell of New York City, as good a Surgeon as is in their army, whom I saw and heard express these sentiments and many more like them. He was taken prisoner in the retreat Sunday night, with five assistants in his wagon, with the most splendid assortment of surgical instruments to be found anywhere. Not less than 30 officers of high rank were taken, all of them have paid their respects to Davis and Beauregard and gone to Richmond with a free pass. Sheran’s Battery was taken entire, and most of the men were killed and wounded, and nearly 50 pieces of artillery and 200 horses were taken and brought to this place yesterday morning. Ellsworth’s Zouaves, and the famous 69th New York Rigiment (Col. Corcoran’s Irish Regiment were Court Martialed for not honoring the Prince of Wales by ordering our his command.) were engaged and large numbers of Regulars and Marines all of their best forces from Maine to Minnisota in fact. I cannot stop to particularize further and will only say that the news has just come in that our men, Gen. Johnston’s command, 19,000 strong, are already on the march to Alexandria and we shall all follow to-morrow. We also hear that there is great disaffection existing in Washington and the troops are reported to be fighting among themselves. However this may be, we shall not rest until all of them are driven off our soil. The belief of all the prisoners is that Scott cannot organize and army to invade the Southern soil again, which is pretty near the truth in my opinion. At any rate I believe the question will be settled in less than two months, and we can be allowed to go to our homes once more in peace. God grant that no more blood shall be required to satisfy the craving appetite of Lincoln and Scott. We cannot be taken here by any force that can be brought against us. We have been reinforced by thousands upon thousands since the fight, who will be brought into the field in case of necessity. I suppose it will be best to direct your letters to Manassas Junction as it will be our head quarters for the present. Remember me kindly to all my friends and do not forget us in your prayers to our Heavenly Father.

Your ever affectionate husband,
T. D. Nutting.

The (Jackson, MS) Weekly Mississippian, 8/14/1861

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Pvt. William C. Ward, Co. G, 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Campaign

10 11 2022

FOURTH ALABAMA REGIMENT AT BATTLE OF MANASSAS, SUNDAY, JULY 21, 1861

By William C. Ward

At sundown, Jul 21, ,1861, the greatest battle ever fought on the American continent, to that time, had been won by the Southern Confederacy and lost by the United States of America. So widespread and deep was the exultation of the southern people, and so profound was the depression of the north, that everywhere and easy achievement of southern independence was confidently anticipated.

In June, 1861, General Patterson, with a large and well-equipped army, crossed the Potomac in the vicinity of Matinsburgh Va., and confronted the army of the valley of the Shenandoah commanded by General J. F. Johnston, making such demonstrations as to indicate an immediate battle. After awaiting the expected attack for about ten days, General Johnston withdrew to Winchester, Va., and his troops resumed drilling, of which they stood in need. General Jackson, however, with his brigade and some cavalry remained in the presence of the enemy, concealing the movements of his commanding general.

In the meantime, General Beauregard, flushed with the cheap laurels won in the capture of Fort Sumter, was in command of a splendid, thought not a large army, along the line of Bull Run creek, about three miles north of Manassas Junction. He was a splendid military engineer, and with the creek to protect his front had a well entrenched position. General McDowell, with the flower of the Federal army, strong in numbers and with all the most modern equipments of war, occupied a strong position confronting Beauregard. On the 18th of July, McDowell made a reconnaissance in force along Beauregard’s front, justly creating the impression that he intended to give battle. Over Beauregard was the shortest line of march to Richmond with a railroad to carry supplies. It thus became manifest that Patterson had not seriously intended to attack the army of the Shenandoah, but had made a strategic demonstration to amuse General Johnston. As soon as General Johnston, on the 18th, had information by telegraph that Beauregard been attacked, the army of the Shenandoah was mobilized and at once marched toward Manassas leaving Winchester that afternoon. Infantry, artillery, commissary and quartermaster wagons filled the highways all crowding toward the point of attack.

At noon, on the 20th of July, we reached Manassas and bivouaced in the woods about one mile north of the Junction. We were very tired and very much exhausted by the weary journey, on foot and in the cars, and the excessive heat. Early Sunday morning, off to the northwest, an occasional report of artillery could be heard, but soon that most alarming of signals, the dropping fire of skirmishers was heard. Directly a courier dashed up to General Bee, our brigade commander, who immediately mounted his little chestnut horse, and the order came to fall in. Sooner than it takes to write it, we were headed to the northwest at a double-quick guided by the artillery and skirmish fire Of the Third brigade commanded by General Bee, composed of the Fourth Alabama, Second and Eleventh Mississippi, First Tennessee and the Fifth North Carolina regiments, only the Fourth Alabama, Second Mississippi, and two companies of the Eleventh Mississippi were present in this movement, the others following later in the day. General Bee was at the head of the Fourth Alabama, and ever moving toward that skirmish firing. So rapid was the march, that many of the men, weak from measles, were being left behind, afterwards to take their places when the battle was on. Imboden’s rock brigade artillery, had unlimbered on a plateau, just north of the Robertson […] Rickett’s battery, 500 yards over the hill and beyond the valley intervening. Arriving at the point of attack, it was found that General Evans (Shank) in command of an outpost numbering about 600 men, had been struck by McDowell’s right brigade engaged in turning Beauregard’s left. Wheat’s battalion of Louisiana Tigers deployed as skirmishers, moved at the right oblique across our front and disappeared into the timeber. The Fourth Alabama was fronted into line of battle and ordered to load. It was then marched to the southwest for a short distance, partially behind a block of timber covering a steep hill side, when again fronting in line of battle marched up the hill and halted behind a low fence just in the edge of the timber.

General Bee from the left, rode up along our front and commanded, “Up Alabamians.” At once, every one sprang up and forward into the corn field about one hundred and fifty yards, halted and laid down in the corn, then about two feet high. Over a little ridge, just out of sight, was Rickett’s battery, near enough for us to hear the commands, “Load. Aim. Fire!” and the sound of the rammer as it drove the shot home, and the swab as it followed the shot sent across the valley to Imboden. We could on our right, see our men as they rose to fire and lay down to load. We could hear the commands of the Yankee officers, as they urged their men to advance. Every time the right of the Yankee regiment, immediately in our front, reached the crest of the ridge, we fired and the Yankees would fall back. On our right the men were more exposed, and the slaughter was terrible. The roar of musketry was fearful, and without intermission. It was, load, aim, fire, at will. The Second Mississippi had disappeared from our left. How long we were there, we never knew, but long enough to be left alone, and for Jackson to reach the plateau near the Henry house, a half mile in our rear and take a strong position; long enough for Bartow, great of soul, to form line to the right of the Robertson house, supporting Imboden’s battery, and long enough for Hampton, with his legion of infantry, cavalry and artillery to arrive from the right, and long enough to leave on the battle-field nearly one-third of the 650 men who went into battle.

Just who did it, was never known, but some one gave the command retreat. The regiment rose and faded as it were to the rear. Some men ran as they went by Colonel Egbert Jones, who stood by his horse supporting himself, having received his death wound. He said, “Men, do not run.” The men were demoralized. They fell backwards, through the woods, over the fence, down the hill, reformed facing the front, then faced to the rear, crossed the brook and again halted and faced to the front obliquing to the right. Colonel Jones having been left wounded, Lieutenant-Colonel Law took command. It was then seen that immediately on our left there was a Federal regiment that had turned our left in close column by division at a support arms, and that our right had been turned by a Union brigade. The left company of the Fourth, notwithstanding the cry, “Don’t shoot, they are Virginians,” delivered a fire left oblique into the faces of the regiment on the left. This was returned with interest. The Fourth was literally hanging in the air without support, enemies to the right of them, to the front of them and to the left of them. Again the men in front of the terrible fire fled up the hill. It was pitiful to see the poor fellows fall before the merciless hail. Chagrined, full of wrath and shame, some dragged themselves up the hill, and as they retired turned and emptied their muskets at short range into the faces of the foe.

Where was Shank Evans with his six hundred, where was Wheat with his Louisiana Tigers, where was Falkner with the Mississippians? Crossing the line of the Eighth Georgia, a shell exploded just over the head of Captain Clarke, who commanded the left rifle company, and immediately in front of this historian. The old captain fell, lay still on his face for a moment, rose, brushed the dirt from his clothes, and quietly continued to the rear. Here the celebrated Hampton’s legion came into view, with the assistant surgeon in front carrying a stretcher, and firing volleys or red hot oaths at the retreating men. Hampton must have formed on the left of the Eighth Georgia. Halting around the old cotton-bale flag, which Sergeant Frank Fitts had carried through the day, just in the rear of the Georgians, it was ascertained that about two hundred of the regiment had rallied.

It was just at this time that General Johnston and Beauregard, accompanied by their staffs, rode up to the regiment, having heard the firing from their position on the right, and concluded that McDowell had selected his own battle-ground and was giving battle. To General Johnston’s question, “What troops are these?” the answer was, “It is what is left of the Fourth Alabama.”

“Where are your field officers?” The answer was, “left on the battlefield.”

“Who is in command?”

Here it is understood that no one had thought it the duty of the senior captain to take command. We asked that the general either lead or give us a commander to take us again into the battle. He replied that he had just come on the field, and as soon as he could understand the situation he would place us again in battle.

Just at this point General Bartow, bleeding from a wound in the foot, his horse wounded and panting, rode up and said, “General Johnston, I am hard pressed on the right, and I cannot hold my positions without reinforcements. The General replied, “You must at all hazards hold your position, and you need reinforcements, this regiment here,” pointing to the Fourth Alabama, “will support you.” Bartow turned his horse and rode back to his command and to his death. General Johnston then, placing himself by the colors, moved the Fourth through the scrub pine timber, placed the regiment in a washout in the rear of the Georgians and left us shrouded by the thick pine bushes with orders to support Bartow.

There are some men who believe that a speech is always in order, and never lose an opportunity to fire an audience with their eloquence. Here was a great opportunity, and Captain, afterwards General Tracy rose to the occasion. The men were sad; their comrades had fallen; they had shown their backs to the foe, and they felt that hence forth they never would be able to wipe out the stain. They felt that they ought to have died on the battlefield. Tracy was eloquent. It is remembered that when he had exhausted all his native resources, he closed with Hallock’s lines, “Strike for your altars and fires; strike for the green graves of your sires, God and your native land.” Just then a minnie ball, apparently having lost its course, came singing that song that threatens to strike but does not indicate where, yet apparently near Captain Tracy’s head. He bowed low, saying, “and dodge boys, when you can.”

The battle raging from our right towards our left came nearer. Bullets fell fast into our covering. The captains, not knowing what had become of Bartow and his Georgians, moved us out into an open field, where we could see the danger that threatened. A water detail was sent out while the men rested in the sun. It was here that General Bee rode up to the regiment. Mortified at the results of the morning and feeling all was lost, he called out:

“What regiment is this?”

Captains King and Clarke answered, “General, do you not know your own men? This is what is left of the Fourth Alabama.” He said:

“Come with me and go yonder where Jackson stands like a stone wall.” The captains replied, “we have sent out details for water and as soon as they return, we will go with you.”

It was just before this that the Federal attack had become general. Advancing over the line of retreat of the Fourth Alabama, the Union army ascended the hill to the plateau in front of Jackson and Hampton and the Georgians, and as it uncovered the crest, there was a crash of musketry that can never be forgotten. The Yankees advanced, loading and firing, and their cartridge covers showed beautiful lines and magnificent drill.

When the water was distributed, General Bee mounted, placing himself on the left, and moved in rear of Jackson’s line of battle. Arbuthnot’s battery changing position, cut the regiment in two at the colors. When the right again joined the left, we were told that General Bee had fallen mortally wounded, while leading the regiment to a place where it could again go into battle. He died that night. While waiting in front of the Lewis house, where General Johnston had established his headquarters, General Jackson rode by, having his arm in a sling. For hours he had held his position and it was understood that he had saved the day.

Directly there was an indescribable roar of battle and shouting. The cavalry came from the rear charging to the front. The cry was that the Yankee army was in full retreat, and all over the vast plateau the glad shouts of victory went up to heaven. President Davis, at this time, rode on the field, hat in hand, receiving the plaudits of the men. Straglers were coming in. The happiest people ever seen were the negro mess servants, who laughed, shouted and wept. Steve., Captain King’s body servant, was uncontrollable in his joy that he had found his master alive. The Fourth went back to the Junction that night to gather up the fragments and sleep. We were so tired! We laid down to sleep feeling that we were disgraced; we waked on Monday morning to find the air vocal with our praise. That a great victory had been won was being ascribed to the fact that the Fourth Alabama had for an hour held the Federal right in check until brigades and regiments could be moved from the right to the left. As fast as the regiments came on the field, marching by the left flank they were fronted into line of battle and moved into action. McDowell, at the same time, was always moving by his right until having uncovered his front about 12 o’clock he advanced to the main attack. His flanking movement had been discovered by Evans and check by the Fourth Alabama. We never fully knew what the Fourth Alabama had done until General Heintzleman’s report to his commanding-general was made public. In that report he paid a very great compliment to the valor of the Fourth Alabama regiment that for an hour or more delayed his advance successively driving back his four regiments, so that he was unable to again bring them to the attack. From the position named, all knew the regiment so designated was the Fourth Alabama.

To prevent a short line march to the rear of our line of battle by the Union army, it was necessary to keep a large part of Beauregard’s army behind his earth works at Bull Run, when the day had been won. Colonel Cook’s Virginia regiment came on the battlefield, having all day listened to the roar of the great battle. The battle was fought by the southern generals without a plan, a rough and tumble fight made necessary by the splendid flanking movement of McDowell. As the day grew old, Generals Archer and Kirby Smith, coming by railroad train, when at a point equidistant from the battlefield and Manassas Junction, hearing the sound of battle, stopped the train and with their commands moved in the direction of the firing. They struck the Yankee right, squarely and doubled it back upon itself. Up to this time the Yankees had steadily advanced fighting with great confidence. This was too much and they fled from the field without order, never halting until under the shelter of Washington.

(Birmingham, AL) Age-Herald, 7/20/1902

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Contributed and transcribed in part by John Hennessy

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Lt. John Calvin Reed (Reid), Co. I, 8th Georgia Infantry, On the Battle and Aftermath

3 11 2022

Chapter 2

The First Manassas.

After we were in the road and well closed up, Bartow, raining in his horse, announced to us, with thrilling manner, as we passed by, “We are marching to succor General Bearegard, who is now fighting the enemy at Manassas”; and deafening cheers responded. We kept on twenty four hours, with but four hours’s rest, taking the railway train at Piedmont, where the shipment was tedious and wearing. Our regiment arrived at Manassas Junction early Saturday morning, July 20, and from Bartow’s words to us after breakfast, we supposed we were to meet the enemy immediately; but having stacked arms near Mitchell’s Ford, the way wore away without anything notable except loud complaints from the hungry. Our boys had many of them found their haversacks containing three days’ rations too burdensome, and so they had thrown away most of their contents. The next morning, in company with W. H. Clarke, the junior lieutenant, and McCall the second sergeant, I went to a neighboring home and bespoke a good breakfast. While it was preparing a cannonade commenced. The house chanced to be that of the man who was to be the guide of Lt. Col. Gardner, now in command of the regiment, Bartow commanding the brigade, to his position; and he saved us a long walk back over the ground we had come by showing us where we might fall in as the regiment came by. The cannon we heard were far towards the left. As we marched along the batteries quickened their fire, and I saw a shell explode for my first time. Because of the greater distance of the hostile batteries from us the explosion of the shell seed to be the echo of the report of the gun, and as the shell came toward us the echo seemed louder. Most of the men were still hungry, and but few had recovered from the exertion of getting to Piedmont from Winchester by forced march, now regarded as a great affair, though a year later we would have laughed at it. But the sound that promised battle fed the hungry and rested the weary. We went about and about, sometimes almost counter marching, often double quicking, and now and then on the run. The sun was blazing in fiercest heat. At last we were near the famous Henry house. Here we saw Bartow, who had not been with us during the morning and while we paused to amit some disposition of the 7th. Georgia that he was making as brigade commander, Hampton’s Legion came alongside of us and halted. In their best clothes and clean linen. How bravely they outshone us, who were in our shirt sleeves, and all bedraggled and soiled with the dirt of our hard march. And their ranks were full, while he had left two hundred behind at Winchester, most of them sick with measles. Here I first heard musketry. Rival batteries might dual it our at long taw, but I was as accurately impressed then as I could ever be Afterwards that musketry meant real fighting. The sound came from over the hill and seemed about half a mile away. Here I gave Lit. my colored servant, my coat and baggage, and took my canteen, and ordered him to go to the rear. As we started he was in a great struggle between his concern for me, and his fear, which had been showing plainly since the increase of artillery fire, and became abject when he heard the musketry. The rest here, – though out of the shade, and we were about to taste our first battle, – was very grateful. We marched a few hundred yards, surmounting a hill that rose with a steady slope, and the shock was stunning when on the crest from which we caught a view of two miles beyond, we came, as it seemed to us, all at once, in the midst of the fight. Under orders we laid down a short distance in rear of the Henry house. The Wise artillery was just beyond the house, and it was firing rapidly. Hostile guns were replying, but they did not have the range; and the shot and shell were passing far overhead. This was the most trying part of the day. The projectiles sung and whizzed and exploded over us, around us, and a very few among us. One of the Macon Guards was killed here. I shrank from the accursed things for several minutes. Once I saw dust rising from the roof of the house, indicating that a shot had passed through it. Major Cooper directed a brush fence, dividing the regiment between the right of our company and the next, to be pulled down. I was lying ten or fifteen yards distant, and as another officer was nearer, I did not heed the command. It was repeated. I looked up, and o my shame saw that nobody had stirred. I forgot the hostile battery; and in a minute a dozen of our men had enlarged a passage to our major’s satisfaction. The small affair was a great relief to me; and I think that with my springing up went the last of any nervousness that day. When I lay down again, I located the battery on the other side of the turn-pike, and about three fourths of a mile off. A long range of woods ran around the further limit of the field, and out of a place in this, as it seemed, I could see the smoke puff. Then I distinguished the report, and I have forgotten how many seconds I made it between the two. In a short while after I had heard the report, here came the shot or shell. Then I saw a long line of the enemy, far towards our left; and it rejoiced me to see them scamper as some of the shot of the wise artillery tore through their ranks. General Bee was fighting across the turn-pike, as we could hear, not see. After we had stood the fire of the distant battery about half an hour, Bartow started with us to reinforce Bee. As we moved off, another man was struck down by a shell – killed, I think. We kept behind rising ground, crossed the pike, went up a long steep red hill, and, when near the top, fronted in line and halted, – our commander seeming to expect an attack. Then we resumed our march. Just as we reached the corner of a square grove of oaks I descried the battery, and noted that were nearer to it by half than when on the hill. It sent a few ineffectual shot at us; and passing on around the rear of the oaks, we turned up the other side; and when we got to a fence running off to our right on a production of the front line of the oaks and leading to the famous pine thicket, we filed to the right, and proceeded along the fence. It was partially thrown down, and there was some small growth on each side, called in the south a hedgerow. As we turned away from the oaks a few men were wounded by Minie balls from the long fence, some three hundred yards off, to be described hereafter. Eight companies had passed on – the regiment was marching by the flank, with the right in front – and just as company I was turning from the woods, a shell from the battery, now hardly three hundred and fifty yards from us, knocked three men out of a file behind me. Some of Company K were also wounded here by a shell. Shortly afterwards I heard canister shot fly through the bushes, the marks of which I found the next day. Bartow was leading us to the thicket about a hundred and twenty yards distant from the oaks. A fence on the side of the oaks we were leaving reached on the produced side about 250 yards to the front, where it intersected with what I call the long fence, which last extended several hundred yards to the right. The 4th Alabama were lying on the ground, to the right of the fence running from the oaks, and I saw them in this position loading and firing upon the long fence. At the point where we left the oaks this regiment was between us and that fence. Now let me tell you of the latter and the thicket. It was evidently Bartow’s design, or Bee’s, that we should take advantage of the thicket in order to approach under its cover within good range of the long fence. The latter was about 125 yards from the front of the thicket, and our march was along the hedgerow to enter the rear of the thicket. We were foolishly carried over the last sixty yards of this route before and not behind the hedgerow, and a most galling fire was concentrated upon us from parts of three regiments. We made this last of the way on the run. I could hear the bullets zipping and zeeing among us like angry bees, and I knew that our men were falling fast. Two of our company were hit just here, – George Heard, one of them, falling dead as we entered the thicket. This with the tree wounded by a shell, made five. We slackened down to quick time, and I glanced up the regiment and was struck with the good order in which the files were dressed. We were in sight of the battery, and in position to be raked from end to end, but its canister came too high. When we moved forward, the ground concealed us from the guns. Just as we resumed quick time I looked back at the perilous place we had just passed. Jesse Dalton, of company K, a man over sixty, against who I had brought a suit for slander for Higgins, was coming over the ground running slowly and weasely. Thousands of bullets seemed to be striking up the dust around him, but he did not quicken his gait. He was too exhausted. I thought that he would run the gauntlet safely, but just as he got to the pines he received a serious wound. When I saw his fall I could not help thinking of the rule of law under which a personal action dies with a party*. I said we had dressed our files. Bartow, quivering with rage, shouted, “By the left flank, march.” That threw us in line, to the front. Everybody understood that it was ow our time; and there was a wild rush to the edge of the thicket. It was rectangular and contained about three acres, with a front of some 110 yards. We should have had a least three hundred yards. From the fence came a volley that roared more loudly than any I have ever heard afterwards, but it seemed to do no hurt. Huddled up in some place seven or eight deep, and even more, our firing commenced. I observed three colors at regular intervals, just on the other side of the long fence. A dwelling was a little beyond it, and four out-houses were on its lines, and some grains stacks besides. The dwelling and out-houses were opposite the left and right center of the regiment. The further side of the fence, the out-houses and stacks were lined with federals. An ice-house was a few yards nearer our side of the fence, and just a trifle to the left of the produced left line of the thicket, and more federals were around it; and they extended in rather desultory order, in front, to a point not far to its right. To the left of the ice-house, in an oblique line towards the fence, by which the 4th Alabama were lying, another regiment took position, just after our fighting commenced, and its musketry was very destructive to companies K and I, as it approached somewhat to an enfilade and many of the men f these companies were pushed out into the open. This last mentioned regiment fired buck and ball, as I discovered from the marks on the trees the next day, the other regiments fired Minie balls. Now, were we not in a pickle? The houses, the stacks, the fence, the line of the regiment on our left, – all seemed a continually playing flash. The trees were becoming white all around us, from having the bark cut away, though I noted that numerous bullets were going too high and bringing down leaves. Many of our men were being wounded, and there were frequent cries of pain, “O,! Lord!” becoming from that time on the ejaculation that I usually heard a man make when struck in battle. But the loading and firing kept up with eagerness. Jim Lewis, one of the company, came to me and told me goodbye. The brains and blood seemed to be running out of his forehead. I never expected to see him again, but the next day it appeared the ball had gone around and not through the skull. I shall never forget how pale, stiff and thoroughly dead Gus Daniel, another one of the company, looked as I glanced down when I had stumbled over him. This was the first dead man I saw. Our men were taking careful aim. McCall, a glorious fellow from New York State, our second sergeant, as already mentioned, was shooting at the color of the regiment on our left; and all of company K, and the left half of I, were aiming at that regiment. The weary and feeble were staying their muskets upon the pines, and each was selecting a mark. A federal in front of the thicket bravely rushed into an opening in the fence, where he raised his piece, but before it came to his shoulder it flew into the air and he fell. A second later I saw another adventurous man climbing and out-house, and down too he came. But we were under the concentrated fire of at least four regiments, and probably each was of fuller rank than ours. I was never afterwards in as hot a place. The men were so crowded as seriously to impede their work. Some few fired as many as fourteen rounds, but the most of them fired but seven or eight. And let me make you understand the peril of those few minutes. According to a count some of us made upon a careful study of the company roles, the regiment carried into the action 490 officers and men. Of these 41 were killed, 159 wounded, and seventeen reported missing ten or twelve days afterwards. It is probable that the most of the seventeen were wounded and captured. So out of 490 we lost 217 – not very far from half. I think it was 39 or 40 of dead in the thicket that I counted a little before sun down, and they lay within less than half an acre of ground. In our company six were killed in the thicket; and thirteen severely wounded. Two of the latter died soon afterwards. Our total of officers and men in the company at the commencement of the action was sixty-four, and adding to the killed and wounded those whose clothing was pierced by balls – and bear in mind hardly one of us had on a coat – and deducting the sum from the total, fourteen only was left. As those who heard him told me the next day, Bartow vociferated to the captain of the Atlanta Grays, “We must get these men out of here.” Several times he ordered us to fall back, but I was among those who did not hear. Nothing could be understood in the din to which our ears were so new. But some of the men at last, misunderstanding the order to fall back, began a disorderly retreat. On the right of the first platoon, close behind it, I was encouraging some of the men of our company to fire with more coolness, and I reminded them that the enemy’s fire was slackening. The regiment furthest to the left had disappeared – its smooth-bores probably being no match for the Mississippi rifles of company K – and the line before us looked thinner along the fence; and there was nobody standing on our side of it. Ransome, one of my men, lying on the ground, was keeping his musket quiet. He seemed very cool, and with much warmth I asked him why he had ceased to fire. He fired at once, begun to load, and shouted to me that he had been obeying orders; and he rolled his eyes in such a manner that I glanced to the left and then to the right. Nearly everybody was going back at about quick time. Of course I could not stay. I carried off my squad very doggedly. Their sulleness increased mine. At every step they seemed on the point of rushing back, and soon would turn and fire. I had got near the fence at the rear of the thicket, when I heard what seemed to be a severe slap, and looking towards it I saw a little fellow, of another company with his piece almost at a shoulder. He was facing to the right, and a ball had struck the barrel; and he told me afterwards he thought he was shot through his collar bone. His face showed great anxiety, until I said to him that it was his musket that was wounded. Bartow’s horse was killed in the thicket; and when I came to the fence dividing the pines from the wheat field, he was there dismounted, and ordering the colors to be planted near the fence. He was greatly excited, and he implored his men to rally. I went to him, and I thought his eye twinkled with pleasure as he saw that I was coming to the front. The last words that passed between him and me were my enquiring where he wished the line to form, to which he pointed with his arm along an open place running diagonally through the pines, and said, “Just there.” I was nearly ready to sink in the ground at what I too hastily conceived was the disgrace of the regiment, for I did not know that we had been ordered back. “Who is the officer that is leading off these men” said the colonel hoarse with rage, stamping his feet, and shaking his fist in the direction of our poor fellows going across the wheat field. Jake Phinizy, 1st lieutenant of company K, made great efforts to bring the men back. I shouted from the fence, calling everyone by name that I saw. We got back a few. But balls began to come hotly from the right, and the colonel commanded us to fall back. All organization was lost. My little band kept with me, and I told them we must go to the color. We crossed the ledge of small oaks, through which shot and shell were crashing, from a battery on the right which I could not see, and we came upon the color at the brook, at the foot of the hill, behind the grove of oaks. The men leaped into the water like thirsty men, It was muddy, but we drank copiously. A dashing cavalier, as he looked in his brilliant uniform, galloped up, and said, “Why, the Georgians are running while the South Carolinians (of Sloan’s regiment) are fighting.” Our color-bearer, Charley Daniels, cursed him, and threatened to shoot him; and many of us ran towards him, hurling the fiercest imprecations. “O,” said he, with an apologetic, but noble bearing, “I must admit that you are ready enough to fight; I withdraw the words that I should not have used;” and he rode away. Some days afterwards I saw a picture, and then for the first time I learned that the handsome stranger was General Bee. Bartow sent the color bearer on nearly to the pike, not far from the free negro Robinson’s house; and there the regiment tried to form. It was madness. The red hill side of the brook, hardly two hundred yards distant, was swarming with infantry, elated, huzzaing, and flaunting the United States flag so proudly that is seemed to cover the whole land. We mustered perhaps a hundred men. Bartow sent us word from a fence on which he was leaning, the he should die where he was or his regiment should rally. I saw Hampton’s Legion in position, in front of Robinson’s house, its right resting on the pike, and my judgement told me that we should reform behind the new line. But I could not disregard the appeal of Bartow. Our men fired about two rounds here, and it was returned more than five fold. In the midst of the smoke and dust thrown up by the musket balls shot at us I found myself between the two lines. But at last I got in place behind the remnant of our company. The company commanders led the men away; and I have always believed they did right. Just before I got to the pike, a fugitive passed me at a slow pounding trot. When he was about six or eight feet ahead a bullet whistled so close to my ear that I was startled. “Dip”, I heard it strike. The poor fellow fell forward, the blood and brains spouting from the back of his head in a red jet as long as my finger. We passed out behind Hampton’s Legion, and then behind the 7th Georgia. Here I noticed Fry, the old chaplain, patting the men on the back, and adjuring them to stand firm. Major Cooper in obedience to orders, carried the regiment off the field. I stayed behind; and I collected a few of my company and some others, whom I tried to induce to go with me into a regiment just arrived. A field officer angered me by saying they did not want stragglers, but one of his whole-souled captains told me softly not to mind a d—-d fool, saying he would make room for us. My poor fellows were fainting for water, and it seems to me some of them were letting their tongues out, and I was myself almost dead from thirst. We told the captain that we should rejoin him as soon as we had got some water; and we ran off for it. We hurried back, and the regiment had gone. Then it occurred to me that the remains of our own regiment might yet for ordered forward; and in that case I ought to be with it. So I sent one of the company to find and mark exactly where it was, and keep me informed of it; and I sat down on a stone and observed the fight. I cannot more definitely give the place than by saying it was a little to the left of a battery of ours that was on our right and firing vigorously. A Louisiana Tiger came along going to the rear. He was without his rifle and sabre bayonet, but he had not yet got rid of his loose attire, baggy trousers, and something on his head resembling a turban, – all of which made him look like a Turk. Every time a gun fired from our battery, which, as he was faced about, was to his left, and a little behind him, he would fall prostrate, manifestly believing that the shot was the enemy’s and aimed at him. This sight diverted me for the moment; and with a few minutes’ rest I was soon recovered from my extreme fatigue and thirst, and then returned my great concern for our fortunes. I saw a little and understood more of the first impact of our new line. Yes, the line really does stand. Then I discovered that an assault was repulsed. And as our men fighting were firm, and a few reinforcements were coming up with spirit, and rising columns of dust betokened more behind, the flush of hope came back to my pale cheek and I said to my companions, we shall conquer yet. All the struggle to keep the position where Jackson offered battle, and the taking and the loss of the ground about the Henry house – these I noted, heedless of the dangers that filled the air around me. I had unconsciously changed my position, and got nearly behind the center.

The fight had rolled further to the left, and my ear told me that we were not losing there. When the field around the Henry house was permanently occupied I decided that the day would soon be ours. In my verdancy I supposed that when the enemy went back all of us should be ordered forward; and so I returned to the regiment. The main field hospital was near it, where numbers of the wounded were stretched upon the ground. It was spirit-lifting to hear them bless the regiments double-quicking by, and see them wave their comrades forward with hands soon to be stilled in death. The reinforcement rushing past, replying to the wounded with cheers and vows to revenge them, the musketry plainly receding, the joy in the faces of all around and brightest in those of the dying as victory was surely coming – all this moving scene arises, and I am again an eager confederate, volunteered for the war. When our men advanced in the last charge, there came above the confused noise of the battle a shout – I was always told that it commenced with the 1st Maryland and the 3d Tennessee – and shaking the earth, rending the air, and piercing the ears, it followed Bull Run down on our right, until it died out in the far distance. There was born full-grown the southern battle-cry. I ran towards the Lewis House. I caught sight of the federal line going to pieces, and I saw Lieut. Dearing as he fired the farewell shots from our side. Officers were leaping for joy. One of these who was gray-headed, was clapping his hands with fury, and exclaiming rapturously and over and over, “We have whipped ‘em.” I dashed back to the regiment. In a short while orders were brought that Genl. Johnston wanted every man to come to the top of the hill that he might show his line to the retreating enemy. As I tell this now I feel a qualm of the nausea that it excited in me. It was about 5 P. M., and all of three hours until dark. I replied to myself, Is there to be no pursuit? I had been pleasing myself with the compensation our regiment was now to have for the awful loss in the morning, and gleefully had I quoted to some of my friends Shakespeare’s “Tis sport to maul a runner.” It was days before I fully recovered from the disappointment. Jake Phinzy always asserted that I never did.

President Davis galloped by on his way to the field. His high-crowned hat and citizen’s garb showed oddly. He was recognized, and everybody cheered, the wounded among them.

I got to the pine thicket as soon as I could. Thad Howell, the handsomest man in our company, was lying on his back, in the open field, just at the edge of the pine. A bullet had struck the top of his forehead, and the brains were oozing out. He heels drummed on the ground constantly, but I found that he was utterly unconscious. Those who could feel demanded all that I could do. There was Dawson Moore, one of our company, with his leg broken. I got him into an ambulance. But there were many other companies who were not removed that night. For a long while after the ambulance left I was there alone. I supplied all the wounded with water. Some drank as though they would burst, but I as not afraid to give it. As I started away with a poor fellow’s canteen the second time, he called me to him and made me swear that I would return. But their thirst was at last assuaged. Their teeth commenced to chatter, and I robbed the dead of blankets to cover them. Nearly all went to sleep. At a late hour that night, friends commenced to come in groups. It was raining. I threw an oil-cloth which I took off of a dead federal around men and went to camp, and, lying on the ground with my feet to the fire, slept until several hours after sunrise, when the men around me waked me by cheering some of the captured artillery that was going by. It was still raining; but with Charley Doherty, a lieutenant of the Pulaski Volunteers, I went over the field. First I studied the fence and stacks and out-houses in front of the thicket. It gratified me to find hardly a single mark of a bullet from our regiment which was too high; and the wounded federals in the house and yard, said our musketry had be devouring. Then we went to the other part of the field. It sickened me to find a frightened woman cowering in the Henry house. She showed me the body of her mother laid out. The old woman had been long bed-ridden, I think she said, and while in bed the day before she was killed with a musket ball, which came through the side of the house. The house was riddled with shot. To the left of the house – in a field of small pines of second growth – the dead were thickest. The red shirt generally marked the federal. As this spot had plainly been the fiercest and closest grapple, and both sides had shown the genuine Anglo-Saxon mettle. It pained me to see that our dead here equalled, if it did not exceed, those of the other side. But further on our left, the federal corpses indicated that surprise and swift destruction had darted upon them from the forest which I shall mention after a while as extending forward; and here our loss had been small.

As our camp was near I went over the field many times, and I studied it more closely than I ever had opportunity to do another afterwards. The map which accompanies this chapter was made just as my study of the field ended. Though I was without topographical training, It think it is practically accurate. I hope that the engraver will reproduce the rude diagram exactly. I regret now that I did not make it illustrate the rest of the battle field. But I was then too resolved upon showing the terrific results to the 8th Georgia of inexperienced conduct.

The foregoing account is mainly taken from my letters to Gennie, and it may be relied upon as thoroughly accurate. I have tried to set down mainly what I noticed myself, in my first battle. Many of the regiment further to the right told me that the federal line advanced from the log fence once in a charge, and arriving at the cedars, marked on the map, we thence driven back by our fire. I have not described this, simply because I did not see it. And I wish that I could say more of those who suffered. Especially should I be glad to tell of Col. Gardner, who was on the right, where he was sorely wounded. But I forbear. I fear that I have already detailed much that can never interest anybody but myself.

But if I have cut my narrative short, I have some philosophizing and reflections I cannot suppress.

Instead of reinforcing Evans’s right, Bee ought to have strengthened his left, using the square oak grove, the hedgerow to its right, and the hills to the left of the grove for cover and screen, and gradually have fallen back to the high plateau where we took our stand later. It was foolish in the extreme to advance the 4th Alabama into the bare field beyond the oaks. It was madness to send the 8th Georgia to the pines by the route I have told. We never should have been thrown so far out; but if it was decided that we must seize the opportunity offered by the thicket, we should have been led from the corner of the oaks directly to its rear, which would have been the shortest line, and one hidden by the hedgerow from the battery and the long fence. When arrived at the thicket, only the left half of the regiment should have been sent to the front, and the other companies should have been stationed along the right side, and ordered to lie down. And those sent forward should have been instructed to take advantage of all cover offered by the trees and the formation of the ground. When we gave way, the enemy advancing rapidly upon our right and rear, there was nothing to be expected from raw troops but a disorderly flight across the pike. But had Bee made use of the oaks and the hill to their left, and posted skirmishers to be retired into the oak grave behind it when pressed, such a stand could have been maintained much longer than ours was and the transcendent duty of the hour was to gain time to allow of reinforcement from our distant right. And the 4th Alabama, the Tiger Rifles, the 8th Georgia, and the other men of Bee and Evans would have reached the new line with but small loss. Such management would have made the fight across the pike the right preparation for our battle, instead of the route which proved very near our ruin, and which was retrieved only by a seeming miracle.

The longer we contemplate the plainer it appears that everybody else’s part on our side could have been better spared than Jackson’s. He really decided, and with the utmost wisdom, where our new line was to be formed. He who was afterwards the magician of surprise to flank and rear is now the very soul of the grand need, obstinate fighting. And yet his wariness shows. He pushes his artillery into the open, to be sacrificed to encourage the raw infantry that he is sheltering; and he charges when least expected and in the very nick of time. He has noble comrades, Bartow, Bee, Hampton and Evans are with him, and the heroes face imminent ruing with peerless courage. And General Johnston riding forward with the standard of a regiment! And the chivalric Beauregard having the officers to advance the colors and appeal to the men to come on! Where in all the annals of war were disheartened raw troops so quickly endowed with veteran steadiness against the countless odds of foes flushed with victory won as they believed? And the result! With the very last reinforcement of ours we had in all but twenty-five thin and weary regiments on the field, and we took prisoners of fifty-five regiments, full and fresh.

The field itself was great luck to us. Skits of forest and second-growth pine ran along our front; on the right, ,in the rear of Robinson’s house, there was a wooded ravine; and on our extreme left there was a long reach forward of forest – good for defence and for making our movements. The ground occupied by the enemy in his struggles to carry our position was nearly all open, and it sloped downward, behind him to the plain almost a hundred feet; and so it was highly favorable both for our observation defence and attack. And it is not to be over-looked that there was little shade for the enemy and much for us on this hot July day, especially trying to raw levies. While it is Jackson’s glory to have been the immovable fulcrum of the rally against defeat in the morning, it is Beauregard’s glory that after he arrived on the field the tactics of the battle were practically faultless. To me he has long suggested Luxemburg’s greatness in sudden straits; and I think he appreciated in time the entire resources of the field to which he had been unexpectedly driven. He made them at first serve for an insuperable defensive; and at this moment of ripeness his offensive swept the baffled and wearied for from before him. I am not aware of any other battle in which the ground was so well used and our troops disposed and handled better. The fault of our subsequent fighting was mainly tactical. Beauregard did so magnificently with a small army that he should have been trusted with a larger. Still I must say that there ought to have been a more vigorous pursuit till after dark.

And I cannot help thinking that we failed to learn another important lesson from the first Manassas. That less was to cultivate defensive tactics in pitched battles. I verily believe that had we forced a defensive battle in Pennsylvania the south would at least have got pay for her slaves.

I must not fail to observe upon General Johnston’s report. In the lively image which it calls up to the reader it is equalled, in my knowledge, only by Caesar’s account of the battle with the Nervii, or his picture of the battle which doomed Alesia.

And the last thing I have to say is that Beauregard is right, when he pronounces that we ought to have followed up the victory by crossing the upper Potomac. This would have given us Maryland, and lifted the pressure upon is in the west.

(Note: P. S. I see now, as I have explained in my book “The Brothers’ War” that we ought to have pursued the flying federals, pressing them the rest of the day and all the next night. The bridge over the Potomac hemmed their retreat so seriously that we could have captured nearly the whole of the Grand Army and its baggage. The foregoing was written 20 years ago. July 27, 08

*See 34 Ga. 433. I finally lost my case on another point.

John C. Reed Manuscript, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, AL, pp. 15-33

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The Brothers’ War, by John Calvin Reed





Dr. Josiah C. Nott, Volunteer Surgeon, Army of the Potomac, On the Battle

14 10 2022

[From the Mobile Evening News.]

Letter From J. C. Nott

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THE BATTLE OF MANASSAS – GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION – A CORRECT IDEA OF THE BATTLE

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We are permitted to publish the following portion of a private letter from our eminent townsman, Dr. J. C. Nott, addressed by him to a friend in this city. It gives the most comprehensive and striking impression of the battle which has yet come to hand, and, aided by reference to the sketch which we publish the reader can arrive at a very correct idea of the plan and progress of the conflict. It will be realized that if we had all the army of Manassas on the ground, none of McDowell’s army would have returned to Washington to tell the tale. Those who escaped the slaughter would have been captured. The enemy’s feint on the centre was a masterly manoeuvre, which would have distracted heads less cool than Beauregard’s and Johnston’s, and they would have drawn all their forces to that point. They kept up a persistent attack there during most of the day and our generals were thus prevented from withdrawing their troops from the right and centre to aid their sorely pressed left which a few thousand wearied heroes were holding against the 35,000 fresh Federal troops.

DR. NOTT’S ACCOUNT.

Richmond, July 23, 1861.

Dear Harleston: – I have seen the great and glorious Battle of Manassas which brought a nation into existence, and the scene was grand and impressive beyond the power of language. We foresaw the action several days ahead- the enemy was known to be advancing in immense masses from Arlington towards Fairfax, and the master stroke was at once made to order Johnston down from Winchester by forced marches before Patterson could get down on the other side. Johnston’s troops marched all night, 26 miles, then crowded into the railroad and came down on successive trains without sleeping or eating. 15,000 of them arrived, many of them while the battle was raging.

I got to Manassas the morning of the day previous to the fight [July 20th] and knowing well both Generals Beauregard and Johnston and their staff officers, I went immediately to their headquarters. Zac Deas, among the rest, in full feather, and I, of course, felt home in his camp where I spent the night. General Beauregard determined to attack the enemy in several columns at once the next morning so as to cut them up before Patterson could arrive. But our scouts came early in the morning informing the Generals that the enemy had been in motion since two hours before daylight, which settled the question as to their intention to make the attack. Beauregard, who had studied the whole ground around knew every hill, ravine and pathway, and had made all the necessary arrangements and planned the battle. Not knowing at what point of a semi-circle ten miles around Manassas the enemy would attack, his forces had to be scattered in such a way as to guard all points, prevent a flank movement on either side, and guard his entrenchments and supplies in the center.

We got up in the morning at daylight, took a cup of coffee, and remained quietly laughing and talking at headquarters while the scouts were passing in and out bringing news from the enemy. At a quarter past 6 in the still, bright morning, we heard the first deep-toned sound of a cannon on the center of our line about three miles off. We waited until 9 for further information and at 9 the Generals ordered to horse and dashed to the hill overlooking the point at which cannon, like minute guns, had continued slowly to fire. The enemy could not see any of our troops but were firing at the dust kicked up along the road which they saw above the low trees. We were for some time at the point they were firing at, and some 20 or 30 balls of their rifled cannons whizzed through the air above us and I felt very forcibly the remark of Cuddy to his mother Mouse that “a straggling bullet has nay discretion” and might take my head off as well as that of anybody else. The firing at this point kept up slowly from 6:15 until 11 when we heard a gun fire on the extreme left of the semi-circle and we were then satisfied that the firing in front was a mere feint. In a few minutes, the cannon firing came in rapid succession as if one battery was answering another. The Generals then ordered “to horse” again and away we rode to the seat of battle about three miles off. When we arrived on the top of a hill in an old field, we could get glimpses of the fight through the woods. The cannons were roaring and the musketry sounded like a large bundle of fire crackers, and the constant roaring of the big guns, the sharp sound of the rifled cannons, Minie rifles, and muskets with the bursting of shells made one feel that death was doing his work with fearful rapidity.

The enemy had concentrated all his forces on this one point, while ours were scattered around a half circle of ten miles and the few regiments who received the first onset were terribly cut up. It was far greater odds than human nature could stand, the regiments were torn to pieces, driven back, and so overwhelmed in numbers that I feared the day was lost. At this stage of the game, the enemy was telegraphing to Washington that the battle had been won and secession was about to be crushed. My heart failed me as I saw load after load of our poor wounded and dying soldiers brought and strewn on the ground along the ravine where I was at work. Dr. Fanthray who belonged to General Johnston’s staff and myself were just getting fully at work when an old surgeon who I do not know came to use and said the enemy were carrying everything before them and ordered us to fall back to another point with the wounded as they were turning our flank and the battle would soon be upon us. Accordingly, the wounded were taken up and we fell back, but after following the ambulances for a mile, we found that they were to be taken all the way to Manassas, about four miles, where there were hospitals and surgeons to receive them and we returned to our position near the battle. The decisive moment at First Bull Run which in Dr. Nott’s opinion heralded the birth of the Confederate nation, describing the scene as “grand and impressive beyond the power of language.” At this juncture, I saw our reinforcements pouring in with the rapidity and eagerness of a fox chase and was satisfied that they would drive everything before them. No one can imagine such a grand, glorious picture as these patriots presented rushing to the field through the masses of wounded bodies which strewed the roadside as they passed along. For a half mile behind me the roar passed down a gradual slope and through an old field; as I looked back, I could see a regiment of infantry coming in at a trot with their muskets glittering in the sun. Then would come a battery of artillery, each gun carriage crowded with men and drawn by four horses at a full gallop. Next came troops of cavalry, dashing with the speed of Muratt; after these followed with almost equal speed wagons loaded with ammunition, screaming all the while “push ahead boys, pitch into the damned Yankees, drive them into the Potomac!” This kept up from about midday until dark and I felt as if the Alps themselves could not withstand such a roar. The cannon and small arms were roaring like a thunderstorm as they rushed to the field. One regiment, which had been driven back by overwhelming numbers, was now supported, and I soon perceived that the firing was getting further off as I had expected and knew that the “pet lambs” now could only be saved by their superior heels. About this time, too, the last of General Johnston’s command arrived on the cars opposite the battleground to the number of 3,000-4,000, and although they had been two nights without sleep, they jumped from the cars and cut across to the field. By this time, we had collected about 15,000 against their 35,000 and from all accounts no red fox ever made tracks so fast as did these cowardly wretches. They were all fresh and better accoutered in every respect than our men, one half or more of whom had to make forced marches to get at them. They had selected their position coolly and deliberately in the morning, while ours were scattered over ten miles and had to run through the midday sunshine. If our men had been equally fresh, they would have gone straight through into their entrenchments at Arlington. But I will not speculate on the future and weary you with details which will reach you through print long before this.

The victory was dearly bought but still blood is the price of freedom and we can at least, while we drop a tear over the graves of our fallen friends, feel the proud consolation that they have died like heroes and given liberty to unborn generations.

Our troops are pouring in every day from the South and if Beauregard and Johnston chose to lead them, they can plant the hated Palmetto tree besides the Bunker Hill Monument which was erected to commemorate the same principles for which we are now fighting, and to which a degenerate race has proved recreant. They have forced this fight upon us and after exhausting everything but honor for peace, it is their turn to sue for terms.

I never had any idea of military science before Beauregard and Johnston played it like a game of chess without seeing the board- when a messenger came and told the enemy’s move was immediately ordered to put him in check.

The times are so exciting here that I cannot yet foresee my movements. I found that they had surgeons enough for the wounded at Manassas, and having no commission, I left and came up to Richmond to send down many things needed for the patients, thinking I could serve them better in this way than any other.

The (Paulding, MS) Eastern Clarion, 8/2/1861

Clipping image

Contributed and transcribed by Dan Masters

Josiah C. Nott at Ancestry

Josiah C. Nott at Fold3

Josiah C. Nott at FindAGrave

Josiah C. Nott at Wikipedia

Josiah C. Nott at Encyclopedia of Alabama

Josiah C. Nott at Dan Masters’ Civil War Chronicles





Corp. William Howard Merrell, Co. E, 27th New York Infantry, On the Battle, Wounding, Capture, and Treatment

16 01 2021

In compliance with the request of friends in Rochester, and in pursuance of a resolution previously formed, I propose to publish a few reminiscences of my involuntary sojourn in the “Old Dominion.”

The events which I am about to narrate are of so recent occurrence, that a retentive memory would suffice to recall them with all due exactness and circumstantiality; but were it otherwise, I have only to turn to a little pocket diary, which has been a faithful and indelible reflector of all important occurrences, as they transpired, during a five months’ imprisonment in the Rebel Capital.

In presenting this narrative, I claim for it nothing but TRUTHFULLNESS – “a plain and unvarnished tale,” wherein I shall

“Nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice;”

and may safely appeal to my late prison associates for the confirmation of any statement that is likely to be called into question.

With a view to form a connected narrative, I shall relate events in the order in which they transpired, commencing with my personal observations at the battle of Bull Run; yet, as it is no part of my design to describe that memorable engagement, I shall wholly confine myself to facts and incidents relating to my own regiment, the 27th N. Y. S. V. This regiment was organized at the Elmira Rendezvous in the month of May, and was ordered to Washington on the 10th of July. It consisted of three companies from Binghamton, one from Rochester, one from Albion, one from Lyons, one from Lima, one from Angelica, one from White Plains, and one from Mt. Morris. The field officers were Col. H. W. Slocum of Syracuse, Lt Col. J. J. Chambers of White Plains, and Maj. J. J. Bartlett of Binghamton. The regiment had the reputation of being one of the best officered in the service, and notwithstanding that it was newly recruited and but partially inured to the hardships of camp life, it was believed to be as effectually disciplined as any volunteer corps in the army of the Potomac.

The 27th did not participate in the action of Thursday the 18th of July, but in that of the Sunday following their mettle was fully tested, and I believe that no impartial eye-witness of the battle of Bull Run will maintain that any regiment, whether regular or volunteer, exhibited a greater degree of gallantry on the field, maneuvered with better regularity or precision, were more exposed to the enemy’s fire, or suffered more severely from its effects, than the one which has been facetiously christened the “Mutual Admiration Society” of Elmira. Notwithstanding the unaccustomed fatigue of an early and protracted march on Sunday morning, the feeling of the troops was animated, and they literally went on their way rejoicing. The enemy seemed hastily to abandon every position as we advanced, and the fact that the progress of the Union army from Washington had been marked only by a succession of light skirmishes, the less reflecting felt assured that we should not encounter a sufficient resistance on the way to Manassas, or even to Richmond, to furnish an appetite for rations. Yet how sadly different was the result.

Glancing back upon the interminable line of the Grand Army, as its several columns crept gradually toward Centreville – the sunlight flashing upon the serried bayonets, the regimental banners fluttering in the morning breeze, and the huge masses moving steadily, noiselessly and with the beautiful regularity of a street parade – the view was grand and imposing in the extreme, and though momentary, seemed worth the sight-seeing experience of an entire life. But the eventful scenes were to come, and the predictions of those who assumed that the enemy were disposed to let us “onward to Richmond” without contesting our ability to force a passage, were speedily silenced by the sound of heavy artillery from the batteries to which we had been lured. There was no longer doubting the fact that we were approaching the field of battle. The roar of cannon was succeeded by the roll of musketry, which at every step became more and more audible, and it was easy to perceive that though not with us, yet elsewhere the work of carnage and of death had already commenced in earnest.

As I before intimated, I shall attempt no general description of our engagement, but rather confine myself in this connection to a narrative of events, as they transpired, in my immediate vicinity, and within the scope of my own observation.

It was my good fortune to be selected as one of the color-guard of the 27th. Soon after entering the field, we saw at a distance what appeared to be our National Flag, but which was in reality that of the enemy. While we were still in doubt, but advancing, Adjutant Jenkins rode forward, with the remark that he would soon determine whether they were friends or foes. He placed his havelock on the point of his sword, which he held aloft as a flag of truce, but as he approached them he was greeted with a volley of musketry. Unharmed, however, he rode quickly back to his regiment, exclaiming, with considerable emphasis, “Give ‘em —, boys.” The 27th responded by opening their hottest(!) fire, and the enemy scattered. We subsequently learned that they were the 27th Virginia volunteers.

We continued to advance till confronted by the 8th Georgia, who stood their ground manfully for a time, loading and firing with great rapidity. They could not, however, withstand the regular and accurate discharges of the 27th, and we finally drove them back to a considerable distance, where they were reinforced. We were then in turn repulsed, and took refuge under a hill, where we remained until another advance was ordered.

(It was while resting here that one of my comrades, William Hanlon, of Rochester, Co. E, was most severely wounded. He was struck in the right leg by a cannon ball, and was thought to be killed outright. He survived, however, a cripple, to become a prisoner at Richmond, and was released and sent home on the 6th of October.)

Soon after this event Col. Slocum, our gallant commander, was ordered to charge a battery stationed on a knoll to our left, and was fearlessly leading on his regiment, in the midst of a tremendous fire, when he fell, severely wounded, and was immediately taken from the field. The occurrence was a severe blow to the regiment, who regarded their brave commander with a feeling of boundless affection. Happily he was spared to receive the appointment of Brigadier General, and the 27th is still under his charge.

The first member of the color-guard who was “stuck” was Corporal Fairchild. The regiment had for a moment halted, when the Corporal staggered back, crying, “O, boys, I am struck!” Placing his hand upon his breast, with the expectation, as he afterwards said, of finding it “covered with blood,” he accidently felt the ball (a grapeshot) in his shirt pocket! He immediately pulled it out, exclaiming, “Thank God, I am safe!” It was a spent ball. The Corporal survived the battle to become a prisoner at Richmond.

In the meantime the action had become fierce and sanguinary, and every soldier in the ranks realized that his regiment was quite as severely “exposed” as the most ardent-minded and valorous could desire. Our numbers were greatly diminished, and though our discharges were rapid, they had become irregular, and the men loaded and fired promiscuously. An incident may be related in this connection of rather a novel character. Corporal S—-s, of Rochester, a young man, who, since his enlistment, had been somewhat distinguished among his comrades for a religious zeal, fought manfully with the “full assurance of faith.” With every load of his musket he uttered an audible prayer to this effect: “O, Lord, send this bullet to the heart of a rebel, and spare my life!” A Manxman, who stood beside him, and who was quite as energetically engaged in the “discharge” of duty, censoriously retorted: “Hoot mon – shoot more and pray less!” Shooting was evidently the most pressing business in hand, but our Manxman, was probably not aware that a Yankee seldom attempts to do one thing at a time, and that it was quite proper to put two irons in the fire when the conflagration was so general and so extensive.

The 27th Regiment continued to march unflinchingly forward, literally amid a storm of “leaden rain and iron ball.” Indeed, it seemed as though we were confronting an avalanche of bullets. Many were mowed down. I think that but one of our line officers then deserted his post of duty, and a few days since I met him in the streets of Rochester, wearing the uniform of a private. To my inquiring upon this subject, he admitted that he had been cashiered in consequence of his behavior on that occasion, and that he afterward returned home. “But,” said he, “I could not help it; I ran despite of myself, for we were marching into the jaws of death. I am not a coward, and I mean to prove it. Therefore I have enlisted as a private soldier, and if I ever participate in another battle, I mean to stand my ground.”

In less than half an hour after the fall of General Slocum, the ranks of the color-guard were reduced from nine to two. The colors were large and weighty, and Sergeant Freeman having become quite exhausted, and myself too much so to relieve him, Major (now Colonel) Bartlett, who perceived the situation of affairs, came to our assistance. Riding along the line, and waving the colors above his head, he shouted, “Boys, will you fight for this?” The response was general and enthusiastic.

A large number of the enemy were discovered in the front, and the 27th advanced towards them, Sergeant Freeman again being in possession of the colors. At this conjuncture, while my piece was leveled, I received a ball in the breast and fell, remarking to my comrade that I should have to leave him. The Sergeant gave me a glance so full of sympathy at my misfortune that I never can forget it, and with the regiment passed on to meet the enemy. I crept to a rail fence near by, and lay insensible about fifteen or twenty minutes, as I should judge, and upon regaining consciousness, discovered that I was surrounded by numbers of dead and wounded. The immediate vicinity was not then occupied by troops. The first notable object that excited my attention was a Union soldier, who was wounded in the left arm, which lay powerless at his side. He was standing beside the fence, his piece resting upon the rail, and which, after taking deliberate aim, he discharged at the enemy. He then dropped his musket, and came a laid down beside me. No more passed between us, but I imagined he had obtained “satisfaction” for his own grievances.

While still lying in my position, I beheld another Union soldier at a short distance, climbing the fence. He held his musket in his right hand, but while astride of the fence, and in the act of getting down, a cannon-shot struck the rail, shattering it in pieces, and sending its rider whirling and summersetting in the air, with a velocity that would have astonished the most accomplished acrobat. He gathered himself up with almost an equal degree of alacrity, and started on “double quick” toward our own forces. He had proceeded but a few feet, however, when he came to a halt. Casting his eyes over his shoulder, and perceiving that he was unpursued, he scratched his head thoughtfully for a moment, and then ran back and recovered his musket and started again for his regiment. I was in too much pain and bewilderment at the time to fully appreciate the comicality of this performance, but have since enjoyed many a hearty chuckle upon its reflection.

There was a great deal of skirmishing upon the field, and many instances of personal bravery particularly worthy of remark. I noticed, for example, one soldier leave his regiment, and crossing the field and leaping the fence, load and fire several times at a squad of cavalry. He was finally discovered, and three or four of their number rode down upon him. One who was in advance of the rest, came upon “our hero” as he was in the act of loading. He had driven the ball home, but had not withdrawn the ramrod. The horseman raised his sabre, and the next instant, as it appeared to me, the volunteer was to be short by a head; but suddenly inverting his musket, he dropped out the ramrod, and in the twinkling of an eye emptied the saddle and started back to his regiment. After proceeding a few rods, and finding that the enemy had given up the chase, he started back to recover his ramrod, and with it returned in triumph to his regiment, where he was greeted with rousing cheers.

But it is needless to multiply instances of this nature, so many of which have been already published by the press. The movements upon the field had in the meantime changed in such a manner that I found the spot where I lay exposed to the cross firing, and accordingly crept to the cellar of “the old stone house.” The passage was not unattended with danger, the rebels making a target of every living object upon that section of the field, (from which our troops had retreated,) and their balls whizzed briskly about me. The cellar in which I found refuge was already occupied by many other wounded Union soldiers, who had likewise sought its shelter. They were lying in the mud and water upon the ground. Upon entering, I discovered Corporal Fairchild, (above mentioned, of the 27th,) who was moving about among the wounded, exerting himself to relieve their sufferings by stanching their wounds, etc. Their distracted and agonizing cries would have moved the most obdurate heart to pity. “Water, water!” was the prayer upon every tongue, but it was unavailing. To linger upon such a scene is to recall one of the most painful experiences of my life, and one which no words can adequately depict. The floor above was also covered with wounded soldiers, whose cries could be distinctly heard. I was not then aware that my comrades, Clague and Hanlon, of Rochester, were among the occupants of the upper floor.

The cross firing of the troops continued, and the rattle of musket balls against the walls of the building was almost incessant. A number of them entered the windows, wounding three of the inmates.

A cannon-shot also passed through the building, but inflicted no bodily injury. Pending these occurrences, two rebel soldiers entered the cellar, one of them seeking shelter in the fire-place. They were both unwounded. The occupant of the fire-place, however, had not fairly ensconced himself when a musket ball passed through his leg. The other, who was lying by my side, was also severely wounded – fitting penalty for their cowardice and desertion.

Finding that the building was likely to be destroyed by the continued firing, one of our number went to the door, and placing a havelock on his bayonet waved it aloft in the air. This hospital signal was greeted with a shower of balls from the Confederates, and he was compelled to retire. Subsequently a yellow flag was displayed from the floor above, but it was likewise disregarded.

The wounded were perishing with thirst. At the distance of about two rods from the building was a pump, and one noble fellow (whose name I regret that I have forgotten) took two canteens and went out to obtain water. While do doing he received five or six musket balls, in different portions of his body, from the rebel forces – yet was not fatally injured. Though very low he was still alive, an inmate of prison hospital No. 2, when I left Richmond. He will ever be remembered with gratitude and affection by those who witnessed his noble conduct, and shared in the benefits of his exploit. It is my opinion that between fifty and sixty men fell in the immediate vicinity of the pump and “the old stone house.”

From the position in which I lay, glancing outward, I could discover the movements of troops upon the field, and at times with tolerable distinctness. The battle seemed general, but irregular, and I witnessed no bayonet charges, or murderous hand-to-hand conflicts. The thrilling pictures by “our special artist, taken upon the spot,” subsequently to adorn the pages of our enterprising illustrated weeklies, must have been “through a glass, darkly,” or in the heated imaginations of that ubiquitous class of correspondents who simultaneously indite at Hong Kong, Constantinople and Salt Lake City, and invariably reach the sanctum in time to read the proof of their own missives.

The observations and impressions of another spectator of the same field, are thus truthfully and graphically described:

I’ll tell you what I heard that day:
I heard the great guns, far away,
Boom after boom. Their sullen sound
Shook all the shuddering air around.

“What saw I?” Little. Clouds of dust;
Great squares of men, with standards thrust
Against their course; dense columns crowned
With billowing steel. Then, bound on bound,
The long black lines of cannon poured
Behind the horses, streaked and gored
With sweaty speed. Anon shot by,
Like a long meteor of the sky,
A single horseman; and he shone
His bright face on me, and was gone.
All these, with rolling drums, with cheers.
With songs familiar to my ears,
Passed under the far hanging cloud.
And vanished, and my heart was proud!

At length a solemn stillness fell
Upon the land. O’er hill and dell
Failed every sound. My heart stood still,
Waiting before some coming ill.
The silence was more sad and dread,
Under that canopy of lead,
Than the wild tumult of the war
That raged a little while before.
All nature, in her work of death,
Paused for one last, despairing breath;
And, cowering to the earth, I drew
From her strong breast, my strength anew.

When I arose, I wondering saw
Another dusty vapor draw
From the far right, its sluggish way
Towards the main cloud, that frowning lay
Against the westward sloping sun;
And all the war was re-begun,
Ere this fresh marvel of my sense
Caught from my mind significance.
O happy dead, who early fell,
Ye have no wretched tale to tell
Of causeless fear and coward flight,
Of victory snatched beneath your sight,
Of martial strength and honor lost,
Of mere life brought any cost.
Ye perished in your conscious pride,
Ere this misfortune opened wide
A wound that cannot close or heal
Ye perished steel to leveled steel,
Stern votaries of the god of war,
Filled with his godhead to the core!

While our forces were on the retreat, pursued by the rebels, a body of troops halted at the stone building, entered with bayonets, and demanded a surrender! They were to all appearances as much intimidated as though they had anticipated a successful resistance. None was made, however. No violence was offered to the prisoners, and in this connection, I may state that I saw no “bayoneting” whatever committed by the enemy at Bull Run. Our arms were delivered up, and a few moments afterward I was led and half-carried away to the quarters of Gen. Beauregard, situate at a distance of perhaps half a mile. Before reaching there, we encountered Gen. Beauregard, flanked by Johnson and Davis, riding across the field. Their countenances were illuminated with a mingled feeling of joy and exultation, and they could well afford, as they did, to salute an unfortunate prisoner. The head-quarters consisted of a large white house. It was filled with wounded soldiers, undergoing surgical attention. Fragments of human bodies were strewed upon the verandah and about the building, and large numbers of both Union and rebel wounded lay outside upon the ground.

On arriving at head-quarters, my guard, who was a private soldier, pointed me out to a “Louisiana Tiger,” and performed the ceremony of introduction by saying, “Here’s one of our Tigers!” – and – “Here’s a d—-d Yankee!” I expected a savage growl, not to say the roughest of embraces at the hands of the savage forester, and was not a little surprised when he approached me kindly, with the remark, “Are you wounded, sir?” I replied in the affirmative, when he resumed, “I am sorry for you. I hope you will soon recover, and be restored to your friends,” My companion, the guard, appeared to be quite as much astonished as myself; though less agreeably so, I have no doubt.

The case above may have been exceptional, for I was afterwards subjected to frequent insults from private soldiers, though kindly treated, in general, by the “Confederate” officers.

Night closed in with a pouring rain, and the wounded lay upon the ground unsheltered. I slept soundly, after these unaccustomed hardships, and was awakened by the sound of the morning reveille. My arm was stiff, my wound extremely painful, and my physical powers quite exhausted. A Lieutenant approached me and inquired as to my condition, and I begged him to find me a shelter. He absented himself for a short time, and then returned to say that there was but one place to be had, and that was a tent which was already filled with Confederate wounded, but if I was content to lay in the water for the sake of a shelter overhead, he would try to provide for me. I gladly accepted the offer, and soon found myself at the place indicated. As I entered, a wounded Confederate soldier, who had a blanket above and another beneath him, offered me one of them, which I at first politely declined. He however insisted, and I was soon enjoying its protection. Soon after, I observed a young man standing at the opening of the tent and looking within. As he glanced at me I nodded, and stooping down he kindly inquired if he could do anything to relieve me. After some conversation, I gave him the address of my wife, begging him to write and inform her of my misfortune, etc. He was, it appears, a Methodist student, and though a private soldier in the ranks of the rebels, was then acting in the capacity of Chaplain, and administering consolation to the wounded. I should occupy too much space in reporting our discussions at length. Before leaving, he kneeled in the water at my side and offered one of the most eloquent and moving applications to which I have ever listened. He soon after fulfilled his promise to notify my family of my condition, and subsequently, during my imprisonment, called upon me and placed in my hand five dollars and a copy of the Bible. I shall ever treasure it as a memento of our brief acquaintance, and of my heartfelt gratitude toward William E. Boggs, of Wainsboro, South Carolina.

While I was lying in the tent of the wounded “Confederates,” a private soldier who had just received his ration, (consisting of half a pint of coffee, a hard biscuit, and a small piece of bacon,) brought it to me, saying “You need this more than I do.” I at first hesitated to accept it, but he urged it upon me, remarking “We were enemies yesterday, in the field, but we are friends to-day, in misfortune.”

I would again state that these are exceptional instances of the feeling generally manifested by the rebels toward their prisoners, and the fact rather enhances my feeling of gratitude for the kind-hearted treatment, of which, at times, I was so singularly the recipient.

While the above was transpiring, a number of officers were standing near, convening, and one of them asked me how it was that men who fought so bravely could retreat, when the day was fairly their own? The speaker said it was at first believed to be a “Yankee trick” or the Confederates would have followed up their advantage! He solicited my opinion on this subject, and I assured him (of what I fully believed) that our forces would unquestionably return, and quite as unexpectedly as they had retired.

I was soon informed that all of the prisoners whose condition was such as to withstand the fatigues of the journey, would be immediately removed to Manassas; and soon after I was placed in a lumber wagon, beside one other prisoner and three wounded rebels, and we reached our destination after about an hour’s drive through a forest road. It struck me as rather significant that the direct road was avoided, and hence no prisoner transported in this manner was afforded an inspection of the enemy’s defenses.

The rain continued to poor in torrents, and without intermission. As we arrived opposite the depot at Manassas, I was afforded a glimpse of the place. The most prominent was the hospital, a large frame structure, opposite to which was the only battery to be seen in the vicinity. The only mounted piece was a shell-mortar. There were perhaps a dozen small frame buildings, which comprised the “Junction” proper. All of these seemed to have been appropriated to the accommodation of the Confederate wounded. Numerous tents had been pitched for a similar purpose, and temporary sheds were also in process of erection.

The Confederates were assisted from the wagon; my fellow-prisoner also descended and went off to obtain shelter, and even the guard and driver, thoroughly drowned out by the deluge, deserted their posts of duty, and left me to

“Bide the pelting of the pitiless storm”

in solitude. I finally managed to get out upon the ground, and crept along, “swimmingly,” to the hospital. There I was refused admission, on account of its over-crowded state, but finally prevailed upon the steward to let me within the hall, where with a number of others, I remained for about one hour. As formerly, when I had reached almost the lowest depth of despondency, I was so fortunate to secure a friend in a wounded rebel soldier. In the course of our conversation, he informed me that all of the prisoners were to be conveyed to Richmond. He was going as far as Culpepper, where his parents resided, and he assured me that if I desired to go with him, I should receive the best of medical care and attention. I accepted the kind offer conditionally, as I did not wish to be separated from my wounded comrades. He then – upon receiving my parole of honor – assumed the responsibility of my custody, and we were soon among the passengers of a crowded train, and speeding “on to Richmond.”

The journey occupied two days, the train being required to halt at every station from one to three hours. All along the route great crowds of people were assembled, consisting mostly of women and children, and at almost every place large numbers of Confederate wounded were removed from the cars, followed by weeping and distracted relatives. Some of these scenes were very affecting.

Davis, Lee, and other Confederate magnates, accompanied us as far as Orange Court House, and at intervening points the first named was called out upon the platform to speak to the multitudes. At some villages, the women thronged about the cars, offering refreshments to the wounded, both Union and Confederate, but more particularly to the former, whom they seemed to regard with mingled curiosity and favor. I suspected that the sympathies of some were even more deeply enlisted than they dared to avow. We were invariably addressed as “Yankees,” and there were frequent inquiries respecting “Old Scott, the traitor,” and “Old Lincoln, the tyrant.” The ladies generally expressed a benevolent desire to “get hold” of the hero of Lundy’s Lane, in order to string him up.

Arriving at Culpepper, the daughter of Major Lee, a young and beautiful damsel, came up to the window from which I leaned, and asked if she could do anything for me; and added, “What did you come down here for?” (This had become a stereotyped query.) I replied, “To protect the Stars and Stripes and preserve the Union.”

My questioner then proceeded, after the uniform custom, to berate Gen. Scott. “That miserable old Scott – a Virginian by birth – a traitor to his own State – we all hate him!” And the heightened color, the vindictive glance and the emphatic tones of the excited maiden, furnished assurance that her anger was unfeigned. But it quickly subsided, and after some further conversation, she took from her bonnet a miniature silken secession flag, which she handed to me, remarking she thought I could fight as well for the “Stars and Bars,” as for the Stars and Stripes. I playfully reminded her that she had just denounced Gen. Scott as a traitor to his own State, and if I should fight for the “Stars and Bars,” I should be a traitor to the State of New York! This trivial argument was evidently a poser. “Oh!” responded she, “I had not thought of that!” – But she insisted upon my acceptance of the emblem of disloyalty, and I still retain it as a memento of the occurrence, and with a feeling of kindly regard for the donor. She cut the buttons from my coat sleeve, and I consented to the “formal exchange,” though not exactly recognizing her as a “belligerent power.”

As Miss Lee retired, another young lady came forward, and glancing at my companion, the Confederate guard, addressed him as a “Yankee prisoner,” expressing her indignant surprise that he should have invaded their soil to fight them. He corrected her mistake, stating that I, not he, was the “Yankee prisoner.”

“No – no – you can’t fool me; I know the Yankees too well,” insisted the lady. I corroborated the assertion of my custodian, but it was some time before her prejudices could be overcome.

At almost every station on the route, one or more dead bodies were removed from the train, and placed in charge of their friends. The University at or near Culpepper, and the Church at Warrenton, had been fitted up for hospital purposes, and large numbers of the Confederate wounded were conveyed to them from the train. Of the six or seven cars which started from Manassas, there were but two remaining when we reached the rebel capital. We arrived there about 9 o’clock in the evening. After the cars had halted, I heard a low voice at my window, which was partly raised. It was quite dark, and I could not distinguish the speaker, who as evidently and Irish woman.

“Whist, whist?” said she; “are ye hungry?”

I replied that I was not, but that some of the boys probably were.

“Wait till I go to the house,” she answered, and a moment afterward I heard her again at the window. She handed me a loaf of bread, some meat, and about a dozen baker’s cakes, saying – as she handed me the first – “That was all I had in the house, but I had a shillin’, and I bought the cakes wid it; and if I had more, sure you should have it , and welcome! Take it, and God bless ye!”

I thanked here, and said, “You are very kind to enemies.”

“Whist,” said she, “and ain’t I from New York meself?” and with this tremulous utterance she retired as mysteriously as she had come.

This was the first “Union demonstration” that I witnessed in Old Virginia. I thanked God for the consolation which the reflection accorded me, as on the third night I lay sleeplessly in cars, my clothing still saturated and my body thoroughly chilled from the effects of the deluge at Manassas. I could have desired no sweeter morsel than the good woman’s homely loaf; and proud of the loyal giver, I rejoiced that “I was from New York meself.”

The following morning the prisoners were all removed to the hospital and provided with quarters and medical attendance.

From Five Months in Rebeldom; or Notes from the Diary of a Bull Run Prisoner, pp. 5-17

27th New York Infantry roster

William Howard Merrell at Fold3





President Jefferson Davis to Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, Encouraging Cooperation with Beauregard

3 01 2021

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – CONFEDERATE

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, p. 985

Richmond, July 20, 1861.

General Joseph E. Johnston, Manassas Junction, Va,:

General: You are a general in the Confederate Army, possessed of the power attaching to that rank. You will know how to make the exact knowledge of Brigadier-General Beauregard, as well of the ground as of the troops and preparation, avail for the success of the object in which you co-operate. The zeal of both assures me of harmonious action.

JEFFERSON DAVIS.





Brig. Gen. Samuel Cooper to Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard on Withdrawal and Reinforcements

3 01 2021

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – CONFEDERATE

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, p. 983

Richmond, July 19,1861.

General G. T. Beauregard, Comdg., &c., Manassas Junction, Va.:

We have no intelligence from General Johnston. If the enemy in front of you have abandoned an immediate attack and General Johnston has not moved, you had better withdraw call upon him, so that he may be left to his full discretion. All the troops arriving at Lynchburg are ordered to join you. From this place we will send as fast as transportation permits. The enemy is advised at Washington of the projected movement of Generals Johnston and Holmes, and may vary his plans in conformity thereto.

S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.





President Jefferson Davis to Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard on Reinforcements

31 12 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – CONFEDERATE

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, p. 981

Richmond, Va.,
July 18,1861.

General G. T. Beauregard:

McRae’s North Carolina regiment goes to you this evening; Barksdale’s Mississippi regiment goes to you from Lynchburg. Further re-enforcements have promise of transportation in the morning. Hampton’s Legion and others will go as soon as possible. God be praised for your successful beginning. I have tried to join you, but remain to serve you here, as most useful for the times.

JEFFERSON DAVIS.