Pvt. Drury P. Gibson, Company D, 1st Special Battalion Louisiana Infantry Before and After the Battle

31 07 2010

Camp Moore June 6, 1861

Dear Sister,

I again write to inform you that we are all well, and getting along tolerably well in drilling.

One of our men died yesterday with the pneumonia, his name was Patrick Sweeney. He was an Irishman and a good soldier, he was sick only five days, he died in his tent.

Several of the boys have been a little sick, though nothing serious, save that of poor Sweeney. One of the “Lafourche Guards” died a few days ago, he had the Typhoid Fever, those are the only deaths that we have had in camp since our arrival.

The “Catahoula Guerrillas” have been placed in the first Special Battalion, which when filled will be the 8th Regiment.

Two regiments left yesterday for Virginia. We will in all probability follow on in the course of two weeks.
 
One of our men deserted the other day. He was an unknown Irishman, our company numbers at the present, 100 Rank & File.

We have fine times, the men all seem to be well satisfied with the Camp life. We are quartered in a very healthy and pleasant country. There seems to be a disposition in some of our officers that has the subscription fund paid over to them, to get all they can, and keep all they get. The company have not been at any expense whatever since they left the shores of Catahoula and strange to say, there has not been one dime paid to any man in camp.

None of us are suffering or in particular need of money, but as it was paid into the treasury of the Company for the volunteers, I think it but just that it should be paid over to the company and some account rendered to the respecting contributions. At least such is my opinion of the matter. Other persons may perhaps think different notwithstanding.

I am going to keep my eyes open and watch passing events, and report to the public accordingly but, more some other time.

I am satisfied with the soldier’s life, but it is very confining and laborious to any one that has never been used to such a life.

The very flower of the South are engaged in this war. Companies are not formed of the lower classes in this war as in other wars. Men of intelligence, courage, and standing have taken up arms in defense of their homes, firesides and domestic institutions and they are invincible. We are bound to succeed or every man will perish in the effort.

I am well satisfied with my office 3rd Sergeant. I have all the benefits and privileges of an officer without such responsibilities and laborious duties that the higher officers have to go through with. We drill six hours every day, three hours in the morning and three in the evening. Nothing more at present.

————

August 1, 1861

I would have written before now, had a favorable opportunity presented itself; but owing to frequent movements and scarcity of writing materials, and all the time being in extreme outpost, I have delayed until the present leisure moment. We are stationary after cleaning out the Yankees on the memorable 21st of July 1861.

Previous to that battle we had been continually on the pact for two weeks. Maj. Wheat being an officer of experience and a noted character for scouting, we were placed on an outpost as soon as we arrived in Virginia, and kept there until Gen. Beauregard ordered us back to “Stone Bridge” to take a bold stand against the invading foe.

We were anxious to meet the enemy, in fact our hearts jumped for joy when we saw their bayonets glittering through the distant forrest. We were, especially the Guerillas, completely exhausted, we had been lying in ambush and marching around for two weeks, without tents or anything to cover us, save the canopy of heaven, it raining part of the time & at times with nothing to eat. I shall not pretend to give you an account of the battle of “Stone Bridge” as you no doubt have long since read all the particulars of that glorious victory in “your Delta”. Suffice to say that the “Catahoula Guerrillas” were the vanguard and had the honor and consolation of opening the battle on that occasion.

Catahoula has at last done something worthy of note, the names of her sons that were engaged in the battle of “Stone Bridge” will be handed down to future generations on the page of history, as souldiers and patriots, fighting for their homes, firesides, and to free our cherished sunny South of mercenary foes. Little did the avowed ________, foes of the Catahoula Guerrillas expect when we left Trinity that we would be identified and actors in one of the greatest victories that can be found in the annals of the nineteenth century.

All of the Louisiana troops are being concentrated at this place, Mitchell’s Ford on the Bull Run three miles below the Stone Bridge. We will rest here for awhile, if Davis don’t take a notion to march on Washington. We have got the Yankees whipped and I don’t think it will require much fighting to keep them so. We defeated the old regulars and best drilled men, and Sherman’s Artillery at Stone Bridge. It was not only a defeat but a route, a complete slaughter. Our total loss I suppose was about three hundred killed and one thousand wounded. The enemy lost some four or five thousand. The Battle field for miles was covered with dead and dying Yankees and our Cavalry completely slaughtered them when retreating or running. Every barn house, corner of the fence, and hollow top is full of dead, dying and wounded Yankees. I have had fine time of it, in cutting off their arms and legs, and dressing wounds. They seem to be very greatful for any attention for they know they deserve none. The northern army seems to be principally composed of foreigners, such as Elksworths Fire Zouaves, they are fighting for plunder. The New England states send native religious fanatics, especially Maine, Vermont and Michigan. None of the Lincolnites have been paid off and some of the prisoners say that they are not being well fed.

Among our prisoners I recollect of seeing several big buck Negroes marching in ranks, guns on sholdier as big as anybody. I reason it will be some time before you will see us if ever. I regretted very much the death of Hall and Elias Stone, they were both brave young men and fought like men and souldiers. Genticores was mortally wounded, he was sent to Richmond. I have not heard from him since. All the rest of our wounded are doing as well as could be expected. Maj. Wheat who at first was thought mortally wounded is improving some better. Our Battalion has been reported ready and willing for service. If you was to unknowingly happen into our camp I don’t think you would know any of us. We are so badly tan burnt and look so bad generally. Our health is tolerable good, but it makes one bear to be souldiers, marching around on half rations reduces all surplus fat, he is noting but bone and sinew. I have become so used to walking until I would rather walk than ride. I can lift three times as much now, as when I commenced souldiering. I think I have been considerably benefited.

————

August 12, 1861

…….the Catahoula Guerrillas are getting along tolerably well out here though several of the boys have been and are now sick. Four of our company has died from diseases, namely Sweeney, Peoples, Reinheardt and Ballard. We have had pretty warm times out here. You no doubt have long since heard of the great Battle of Stone Bridge on the 21st of July in which the Catahoula Guerrillas distinguished themselves for courage and bravery in maintaining firmly their position against overwhelming odds until we were sufficiently reinforced to shove the field of the mercenary and plundering Yankees. Wheat’s Battalion and five other regiments, in all numbering about five thousand effective men, held the enemy in check for two hours until our reinforcements came up; the enemy numbering at least fifty thousand, headed by all of the old United States regulars, Ellsworth Zouaves and Shermans celebrated light artillery. The Guerrillas fired the first guns, they opened the ball on that memorable occasion.

Poor Hall Stone and Elias Stone got killed in the battle. They were both mess-mates of mine. I very much regretted their untimely and premature deaths. Elias fell on the field during the action. When I saw that he was shot I asked if he was badly wounded. He said yes but I will give them another shot. He run his hand in his cartridge bag and fell dead in the act of loading his gun. Hall was mortally wounded, poor fellow, he struggled so hard against death. I never saw any one take death so hard, he said he wanted to live to revenge the death of Elias who fell by his side on the plains of Manassas. They were both buried with military honors side by side in the battlefield, in a beautiful place near some shade trees on a hill. We placed some stones at their heads to know the spot in future as a kind of a tomb stone. I think that we were very fortunate in getting only two killed and fifteen wounded, for I was shure or thought at one time that we would all be killed, and for my life even now. I don’t see how the remainder escaped unhurt. The balls came as thick as hail, grape bomb and canisters would sweep our ranks every minute, and strange to say the enemy only killed three hundred of our men.

One reason why they did not kill more of us, was because they overshot us. Their guns were ranged for a mile with raised sights so we closed in on the gentlemen, before they could lower their sights.

…….all of the Louisiana troops are here at Mitchell’s Ford on Bull Run on the main road between Manassas and Washington City. All of the Louisiana troops are under the command of Brigadier General Seymour of New Orleans. I have frequently heard of Mr. Cotton speak of Col., now Gen. Seymour. He is a fine officer and if the Yankees should take a fool notion and come this way, you will hear again from the Pelican State…..

Contributed by reader Stuart Salling, and published on his blog Louisiana in the Civil War on 7/24/10 (see here).  Originally published in the North Louisiana Historical Society newsletter in 1979.





Letters from Wheat’s Battalion

27 07 2010

Stuart Salling has posted these letters from a member of Wheat’s Battalion written before and just after the battle.

Stuart has given me the go-ahead to post these letters to the Bull Run Resources section, which I’ll be doing soon.  In the meantime, check them out on the Louisiana in the Civil War site.





Wheat’s Battalion

24 07 2010

Stuart Salling hosts the blog Louisiana in the Civil War, and also wrote the recently published Louisianians in the Western Confederacy – the Adams-Gibson Brigade in the Civil War.  A contributor to his site posted this article, about the Battalion from formation through First Bull Run.   Check it out.





Notes on An Ohio Man’s Experience in the Rebel Army

1 05 2009

First, thanks to Jon-Erik Gilot for sending this article to me.  Good readers make good blogs.  This is the kind of thing I was hoping for when I started this project.

Thanks also to two authorities on Louisiana troops who gave me valuable input.  Gary Schreckengost is the author of this book on the First Special LA Battalion, and Art Bergeron of the U. S. Army Heritage & Education Centerstill commonly referred to as USAMHI, is the author or editor of several books on Louisiana in the Civil War.

Gary provided the following:

All three men [Johnson, Vance & Hutchinson] are listed as being in Wheat’s original company, the Old Dominion Guards, which was the battalion’s first Company E and second Company D after the Guerrillas left. I believe your article is accurate. I’ve listed what’s in the combined service records. Below is what’s in the records [what Gary sent summarizes the info provided by Art] and what’s cool about this is [the article] gives us actual examples of names of the poor suckers who were shanghaied. The uniform, of course, was of his company and not the entire battalion as each company varied to a degree. The OD Guards most matched the other guards—the Walker Guards, Company A.

Art sent in a little more detail from the microfilmed Compiled Service Records in the National Archives, Microcopy No. 320.

Johnson, Aug., Pvt. New Co. D, 1st Special Battn. (Wheat’s) La. Inf. Roll for June 1 to June 30, 1861 (only Roll on file), states Present. Appears on a List of killed, wounded and missing, in the battle of Manassas, Va., July 21, 1861, dated August 29, 1861, “Wounded. Supposed to be dead, but cant be found.” M320, Roll 101

Vance, David, Pvt. New Co. D, 1st Special Battn. (Wheat’s) La. Inf. En. Camp Moore, La., Aug. 9, 1861. Present on Roll to June 30, 1861. Roll to Oct. 30, 1861, Present or absent not stated. Appears on a List of killed, wounded and missing in the battle of Manassas, Va., July 21, 1861, dated August 29, 1861, “Wounded in knee.” Roll Nov. and Dec., 1861, Absent, detached near Manassas. On Hospital Muster Roll of Hospitals at Camp Pickens, Manassas, Va., to Oct. 31, 1861, attached to hospital Oct. 1, cook, present. On Hospital Muster Roll of Hospitals at Camp Pickens, Manassas, Va., for Nov. and Dec. 1861, attached to hospital Oct. 1, cook, transferred to Moore Hospital Dec. 15, 1861. On Hospital Muster Roll of Moore Hospital, Manassas Junction, Va., for Nov. 1, 1861 to Feb. 28, 1862, attached to hospital Oct. 1, nurse, present. On Hospital Muster Roll of General Hospital, Danville, Va., for March and April 1862, attached to hospital Oct. 1, nurse, present. On Hospital Muster Roll of General Hospital, Danville, Va., for May and June 1862, attached to hospital Oct. 1, nurse, present. On a Receipt Roll for clothing, 1st Div. Gen. Hosp., Danville, Va., for 4th Qtr 1863, dates of issue Nov. 9, 21, Dec. 7. M320, Roll 101

Hutchinson, James H., Pvt. New Co. D, 1st Special Battn. (Wheat’s) La. Inf. En. June 9, 1861, Camp Moore, La. Rolls from June to Dec., 1861, Present. Appears on a List of killed, wounded and missing in the battle of Manassas, Va., July 21, 1861, dated Aug. 29, 1861, “Wounded severely in face.” On a Register of C. S. A. General Hospital, Charlottesville, Va., “wounded in face,”admitted July 22, 1861; returned to duty Aug. 31, 1861. On Register of Payments on Descriptive Lists, from Feb. 28 to May 31, 1862, paid June 30, $30.50. On Register of Payments to Discharged Soldiers, discharged Apr. 29, 1863; paid Apr. 29, 1863.

Hutchinson’s discharge payment certificate shows the following: James H. Hutchinson, Private, Captain O. P. Miller’s Co. D, Wheat’s Battalion Louisiana Volunteers. Born in Salem Co., N. J.; aged 23; 5 feet 8 inches high; light complexion; dark eyes; brown hair; occupation, boatman. Enlisted by Capt. Miller at New Orleans on April 25, 1861, for the war. Battalion disbanded by the Secretary of War August 15, 1863. Hutchinson was last paid to include May 30, 1862. Has pay due him from that date to August 15, 1862. Due him $50.00 bounty and $25.00 clothing. Given to him at Richmond on April 29, 1863. Signed by Major R. A. Harris. Paid $27.50 for two months and 15 days; travel from Richmond to New Orleans, $3.00; bounty, $50.00; clothing, $25.00; balance paid $105.50. Received from Major John Ambler (?) at Richmond on April 29, 1863. Hutchinson made his mark.  M320, Roll 100.

Art’s not convinced of the impressment claim in the article.  Personally, I’m going to need more convincing too.  Anyone?

Art also sent me another article of an incident of the battle, an encounter between brothers who fought on opposite sides.  I’ll have that for you in the near future.





An Ohio Man’s Experience in the Rebel Army

30 04 2009

Belmont (OH) Chronicle

September 5, 1861

An Ohio Man’s Experience in the Rebel Army

The Washington Star gives an interesting account of a man named Augustine Johnson, now in that city, whither he has escaped from the Secession army. He is a native of Steubenville, Ohio, where he had, or had a few months ago a mother and four children living. Early last spring he went to New Orleans on a flatboat and was impressed with several companions in that city on the 25th of April. To distinguish Northern from Southern “volunteers,” their heads were shaved. John was assigned a place in Wheat’s First New Orleans Battalion, which, after much suffering for want of proper food and clothing, found itself at Manassas. On account of his Northern birth, Johnson was permitted to endure greater hardships than the southern soldiers. At the battle of Bull Run Wheat’s battalion was stationed at the extreme rebel left – our right. Near it was a South Carolina regiment under cover of some pines, separated by an open space from the National infantry, also under cover. As Major Wheat advanced his men into this open space they were fired upon by the South Carolinians, which caused the battalion to waver and made them easier victims to a very destructive fire that was immediately after poured in upon them by the National troops.

Near Mr. Johnson were two other Northern men. One of them, David Vance of Philadelphia, was instantly killed. The other, a comrade and warm friend of Johnston’s, an Illinoisan, named Jas. H. Hutchinson, was shot under the eye. He was in such agony that Johnson carried him from the field a long way to the hospital, occasionally resting with the wounded man’s head on his lap.

After taking his friend to the hospital, he thought the time had come to try an escape, as in the confusion there were no pickets out. He took his gun and started westward, up a ravine. After getting a considerable distance from the battle field, he threw away his gun and cartridge box.

The uniform of the battalion was cotton pants of the mixed color known as pepper and salt and red shirt. Under this red shirt Johnson had a checkered cotton shirt. He now changed these, by putting the checkered shirt outside and the red one under, expecting instant death if he was arrested as a deserter. He heard the firing all day on Sunday and traveled away from it in a Northwest direction.

At night he took two shocks of wheat and made a bed, on which he slept soundly and was awakened by the rain on Monday morning. He shortly afterward reached a Quaker settlement in Loudon county, where he found a heaven of rest, being kindly taken care of for some weeks. Being anxious to reach his home, he left Loudon on Friday last and came by way of Harper’s Ferry to Washington, where he is waiting for a pass to enable him to go over the roads without interruption, he having no funds to defray his expenses by railroad. Mr. Johnson says he did not receive one cent of pay whilst in the Confederate service. He says that Loudon county is devastated, as if it had been overrun by locusts.

See here for notes.

Meta pdf





Wheat’s Report

7 01 2009

Well, I finally found a copy or Major C. R. Wheat’s report of the actions of the 1st Special Louisiana Battalion at Bull Run.  It was hiding in plain sight in the Supplement to the ORs, and was sent to me by friend of Bull Runnings Jonathan Soffe.

As discussed in this post, the report of Wheat’s commander N. G. Evans claims that the Battalion captured a regimental color during the fight.  Wheat’s report unfortunately does not mention any captured banner, however he does make mention of the capture of some artillery pieces.  Is it possible that the captured colors in question were actually those of a battery?

Also, I have more on the Wheat ambrotype recently “discovered” by Mike Musick and discussed here and here.  Mike sent me a big packet of info, which I mentioned here.  I haven’t forgotten – I just haven’t had time to get to it yet.





#110a – Maj. Chatham R. Wheat

6 01 2009

Supplemental Report

Report of Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat, First Special Battalion Louisiana Volunteers

SUPPLEMENT TO THE O.R. – VOL.1: REPORTS ADDENDUM TO SERIES I, VOL. 2, pp 194-195

Manassas, [Virginia],

August 1, 1861

Sir: I beg leave herewith, respectfully, to report the part taken by the First Special Battalion of Louisiana Volunteers, which I had the honor to command in the battle of July 21.

According to your instructions, I formed my command to the left of the Stone Bridge, being thus at the extreme left of our lines.  Your order to deploy skirmishers was immediately obeyed by sending forward Company B under Captain [Alexander] White.  The enemy threatening to flank us, I caused Captain [Jonathan W.] Buhoup to deploy his Company D as skirmishers in that direction.

At this conjuncture, I sent back, as you ordered, the two pieces of artillery which you had attached to my command, still having Captain [John D.] Alexander’s troop of cavalry with me.  Shartly after, under your orders, I deployed my whole command to the left, which movement, of course, placed me on the right of the line of battle.

Having reached this position, I moved by the left flank to an open field, a wood being on my left.  From this covert, to my utter surprise, I received a volley of musketry which unfortunately came from our own troops, mistaking us for the enemy.  Apprehending instantly the real cause of the accident, I called out to my men not to return the fire.  Those near enough to hear, obeyed; the more distant, did not.

Almost at the same moment, the enemy in front opened upon us with musketry, grape, canister, round shot and shells.  I immediately charged upon the enemy and drove him from his position.  As he rallied again in a few minutes, I charged him a second and a third time successfully.

Finding myself now in the face of a very large force – some 10,000 or 12,000 in number – I dispatched Major [Robert G.] Atkins to you for reinforcements and gave the order to move by the left flank to the cover of the hill; a part of my command, [by] mistake, crossed the open field and suffered severely from the fire of the enemy.

Advancing from the wood with a portion of my command, I reached some haystacks under cover of which I was enabled to damage the enemy very much.  While in the act of bringing up the rest of my command to this position, I was put hors de combat by a minie ball passing through my body and inflicting what was at first thought to be a mortal wound and from which I am only now sufficiently recovered to dictate this report.  By the judicious management of Captain Bouhup I was borne from the field under the persistent fire of the foe, who seemed very unwilling to spare the wounded.

Being left without a field officer, the companies rallied under their respective captains and, as you are aware, bore themselves gallantly throughout the day in the face of an enemy far outnumbering us.

Where all behaved so well, I forbear to make invidious distinctions, and contenting myself with commending my entire command to your favorable consideration.  I beg leave to name particularly Major Atkins, a distinguished Irish soldier, who as a volunteer Adjutant, not only rendered me valuable assistance but with a small detachment captured three pieces of artillery and took three officers prisoner.  Mr. early, now Captain Early, also, as a volunteer Adjutant, bore himself bravely and did good service.

My Adjutant, Lieutenant [William] Dickinson was wounded while gallantly carrying my orders through a heavy fire of musketry.

Captain [Obed P.] Miller of Company E, and Lieutenants [Thomas W.] Adrian and [Frank S.] Carey were wounded while leading their men into the thickest of the fight.

All of which is respectfully submitted,

C. R. Wheat.

Major, First Special Battalion,

Louisiana Volunteers

N. G. Evans,

Brigadier-General of Confederate States of America

[Wheat Papers, in possession of Mr. Charles L. Dufour, New Orleans, Louisiana]