Lt. George W. Lester, Co. F, and Corp. W. Edmund O’Connor, Co. A, Hampton’s Legion, And the Capture of “Sherman’s Battery”

9 04 2022

The Palmetto Flag Planted upon Sherman’s Battery. – A correspondent writes to the Richmond Enquirer correcting the statement that Gen. Beauregard had borne forward the flag of the Hampton Legion. He says:

The honor properly belongs to Lieut. G. W. Lester, of the “Davis Guards,” who, when the order for charge was given, bore the Palmetto colors about fifteen paces in front, calling on South Carolina to follow, which was promptly done. Corporal O’Connor, of the Washington Light Infantry, was the next to take it, and he it was who waved the first Southern flag over Sheman’s Battery.

The Charleston (SC) Mercury, 8/14/1861

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George W. Lester at Ancestry

George W. Lester at Fold3

George W. Lester at FindAGrave

W. Edmund O’Connor at Ancestry

W. Edmund O’Connor at Fold3





Pvt. Alexander Whyte*, Co. B, 79th New York Infantry, On the Battle

22 03 2022

THE BATTLE AT BULL RUN.

———-

LETTER FROM A MEMBER OF THE SEVENTY-NINTH REGIMENT

Arlington Heights, July 23, 1861.

Dear Brother: – We attacked the rebels on Sunday. We got ready to march at two o’clock in the morning, and marched along another road from the one where the battery we attacked before was situated. We crossed a bridge which they thought was undermined, where we were put on a double quick for about a mile, to get out of range of the battery – the Seventy-ninth, Sixty-ninth, and the two Indiana regiments. Generals Sherman and Tyler were in command. They filed us into the woods and marched us right forward in line, and we scoured the woods and hunted the cowardly dogs into their dens. We then opened our batteries on the rebels, who were in large force all around us. We had three or four batteries with us, including Sherman’s. They shelled the woods, in which they had dozens of masked batteries, which seems to be their forte. The Sixty-ninth followed them up the hills, through gulleys, across streams waist deep, and the enemy playing on us from a dozen points with cannister and shell, but we ran double quick up the hills, where their infantry was waiting for us, when we fired and charged upon them, and drove them from their position and followed them up the same way till we dislodged them from three positions, when we were for the first time as high as they were. We then brought forward two of our batteries and fired a few shells, when Sherman ordered the infantry forward to the charge. The Sixty-ninth were sent round to the right of it to flank the rebels, and the Seventy-ninth, with the Second Wisconsin to back us, were sent up to the charge. This was after nearly every regiment except us, had been sent up and cut to pieces. However, we went forward and charged them, when they poured shell, canister and balls into us like hail; but the Second Wisconsin ran back, except about twelve men of them, which stood with us. The cowardly rebels then hoisted the American flag on one of their forts, when our men supposed our friends had taken it which went around to flank them out. The men then ran forward to follow them up; but when within a few yards of them they opened their guns again, and poured shell and canister right into us, and then thousands of infantry, firing at the same time, every one of them armed with rifles and us with old muskets, we had to fall back, and while retreating another masked battery opened upon us, and I can assure you we had a very hard time of it. When we were so close to the fort we could have taken it had the Second Wisconsin stood by us. The rebels then poured their cavalry out of the woods after us, when we had to fall back on the main body. They shot all the horses from our batteries, and we were unable to take them back, so the rebels took them and turned them against us, when we had not a single piece hardly to cover our retreat. Then the rebels poured a large force of infantry, about 6,000, to follow us up, and we without a single regiment in reserve, as we had to retreat all in confusion. The United States regulars, and those of Sherman’s battery cut the traces of their horses and galloped off, leaving their guns to the rebels.

From where the battle was fought to this place is about thirty miles, so we had a pretty long march of it. We commenced our retreat about four P. M. Sunday afternoon, and arrived in our camp Monday morning, so you can imagine how we must feel. But I must not forget our dear old Colonel. He was shot dear before we fired our second round; he stood out in front of us, and waving his sword, ordered us to charge bayonets, which were the last words he said. Nearly all of our officers were either killed, wounded or taken prisoners. We have but about eight left out of our complement. Thirty-five of our company are missing. All the other companies in proportion. Our captain is missing. We believe he is captured. The Sixty-ninth had their colors taken, but they gallantly retook them, with heavy loss. Their Colonel was wounded, and we believe is taken prisoner. Malcom was shot in the head, but not very serious. I found him in the hospital, which was full of wounded men. The last report we heard was that they had set fire to it. I stood sentry there while our regiment was retreating, and when I left brought Malcom with me. He is now in Washington. John Stratton was also wounded and taken prisoner. They made him take hold of the saddle and run back with them, threatening to shoot him, but seeing some officers they dropped him and made after them, so he escaped, and is now safe. It would be well to let his wife know of this. Our company was the first to take prisoners. Our captain was entirely worn out, and uncle (John White, 13 Third avenue), had to lead on the company, and he did it well, I assure you. I saw him after the battle, all sound, but he staid behind to assist the Captain, and I suppose they were both taken prisoners by the rebel cavalry. They are very fond of taking officers, and I have no doubt that this has been their fate, as the regiment was pursued by the same cavalry for a considerable distance, and our officers were not seen afterwards. Uncle had about one hundred dollars in gold on him – the very thing the rebels like. I am sorry that I did not ask some of it from him.

P. S. – I have since learned that one of our men was talking to uncle his when taken by the regel cavalry.

A. W.*

New York (NY) Herald, 7/29/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

79th New York Infantry Roster

*Likely Alexander Whyte, Co. B. John Stratton, mentioned above, was also a member of Co. B. John White, mentioned above, is shown on the roster as a member of Co. H. The only other A. W.s found in the roster who was enlisted on July 21, 1861 are Andrew Whiteford of Co. K, and Andrew Walters, unassigned.

Alexander Whyte at Ancestry.com

Alexander Whyte at Fold3





Unit History – Battery E, 3rd U. S. Artillery

15 03 2022

At Washington, D. C, May, 1861. Attached to Sherman’s Brigade, Tyler’s Division, McDowell’s Army, Northeast Virginia, to August, 1861. Sherman’s Brigade, Division of the Potomac, to October, 1861. Porter’s Division, Army of the Potomac, to October, 1861. W. T. Sherman’s South Carolina Expeditionary Corps to April, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Dept. of the South, to July, 1862. District of Hilton Head, S. C, Dept. of the South, to September, 1862. United States Forces, Hilton Head, S. C, 10th Army Corps, Dept. of the South, to June, 1863. United States Forces, Folly Island, S. C, 10th Army Corps, to July, 1863. United States Forces, Morris Island, S. C, 10th Army Corps, to January, 1864. Artillery, Folly Island, S. C, Northern District, 10th Army Corps, to February, 1864. Artillery, Ames’ Division, District of Florida, Dept. of the South, to April, 1864. Artillery, 3rd Division, 10th Army Corps, Army of the James, to May, 1864. Artillery, 1st Division, 10th Army Corps, to June, 1864. Artillery, 2nd Division, 10th Army Corps, to August, 1864. Artillery Brigade, 10th Army Corps, to December, 1864. Artillery Brigade, 25th Army Corps, to January, 1865. Artillery, 3rd Division, Terry’s Provisional Corps, Dept. of North Carolina, to March, 1865. Artillery, 3rd Division, 10th Army Corps, Dept. of North Carolina.

SERVICE. – Occupation of Arlington Heights, Va., May 24, 1861. Advance on Manassas, Va., July 16-21. Blackburn’s Ford July 18. Battle of Bull Run July 21. Expedition to Port Royal, S. O, October 21-November 7. Bombardment and capture of Forts Walker and Beauregard, Port Royal Harbor, November 7. Duty at Hilton Head, S. C, till February, 1862. Expedition to Florida February 25-March 5. At Hilton Head, S. C, till May. Operations on James Island, S. C, June 1-28. Action on James Island June 10. Battle of Secessionville June 16. At Hilton Head, S. C, till October. Expedition to Pocotaligo, S. C, October 21-23. Action at Pocotaligo October 22. At Hilton Head, S. C, till June, 1863. Moved to Folly Island, S. C. Attack on Morris Island, S. C, July 10. Operations on Morris Island against Forts Wagner and Gregg and against Fort Sumpter and Charleston July 10-September 7. Assault on Fort Wagner July 18. Capture of Forts Wagner and Gregg September 7. Operations on Morris and Folly Islands against Charleston till January, 1864. Expedition to Florida February 5-7. Expedition from Jacksonville to Lake City, Fla., February 8-22. Battle of Olustee February 20. Duty at Jacksonville till April. Moved to Gloucester Point, Va. Butler’s operations on south side of the James River and against Petersburg and Richmond May 5-28. Siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond June 16 to December 7. Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, New Market Heights, September 28-30. Darbytown Road October 7. Expedition to Fort Fisher, N. C, December 7-27. Second Expedition to Fort Fisher, N. C, January 3-15, 1865. Assault and capture of Fort Fisher January 15. Near Sugar Loaf Battery February 11. Occupation of Wilmington February 22. Northeast Ferry February 22. Campaign of the Carolinas March 1-April 26. Advance on Goldsboro March 6-21. Advance on Raleigh April 10-13. . Bennett’s House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. Duty in Dept. of North Carolina till —-

From Frederick Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, p. 1701





Sgt. Arthur T. Pickett, Co. I, 38th New York Infantry, On the Battle

19 02 2022

THE THIRTY-EIGHTH NEW YORK REGIMENT

Editor Star: In perusing the journals, I barely see notice of the Thirty-eighth New York Regiment as being engaged on Sunday in defense of my country’s flag. Allow me, Mr. Editor, to say that I was there, being hurt seriously in the right leg and left hand and head. I think that I for one was in the action, and if credit is awarded, the Thirty-eighth are worthy of it. We covered Sherman’s battery bravely, and also covered the gallant firemen of New York when the Black Horse Cavalry charged upon them. Company I was three times driven from a battery, and I saw the secession flag lying in the dust. We marched on the field with 64 men, and we now number 30. Our officers led their men gallantly, and many a poor fellow lies dead on Virginia’s soil. While our regiment was advancing on the enemy our eyes were greeted by the glorious flag of our county, and we supposed that they were some of our own men. We marched at double quick to make a charge on a battery that was pouring a deadly fire upon us; but to our cost we found that the stars and stripes were used as a decoy, and under cover they mowed us down. We retreated, and laid down and loaded our pieces, and sir, our boys marched right ahead, and we avenged the deaths of our comrades. My humble opinion is, that if we had been then reinforced we could have whipped them and sent their black hearts to h—l! I hear it denied that the enemy butchered our wounded, and I beg leave to say that I saw the enemy deliberately bayonet our poor men, and they asking for mercy. Such cruelties are not on record, and my wish and prayer is that my wounds will speedily heal, and the remnant of the Thirty-eighth are ready for the field. We bore the regiment banner of the honored old chieftain, Gen. Winfield Scott, and the regiment did not disgrace the colors they bore. Please insert this in your paper, and you will oblige a type and a soldier.

Very respectfully,
Arthur T. Pickett
2d Sergt. Co. I, 38th regt. Scott Life Guard.

N. B. – Our flag shall wave. Boys of New York will always be ready.

(Washington, DC) Evening Star, 7/24/1861

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38th NYVI Roster

Arthur T. Pickett at Ancestry

Arthur T. Pickett at Fold3
Arthur T. Picket at Fold3

Arthur T. Pickett at FindAGrave





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

11 02 2022

From the Richmond Dispatch.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J. P. Pryor at Fold3

J. P. Pryor at FindAGrave





Pvt. (Dr.) Asbury Smith Mayson, Co. E, 7th Georgia Infantry, On the Battle

29 01 2022

Extract of a letter from Dr. A. S. Mayson, Assistant Surgeon in the 7th Regiment:

Manassas, July 23, 1861.

My Dear Wife: After several days of excitement, I seat myself to let you know that I am still living. We arrived here from Winchester on Saturday. On Sunday morning about 7 o’clock, the cannonading commenced about four miles distant, and we received orders to march immediately. The 7th and 8th Georgia Regiments were the first to reach the field. The 8th Regiment was rushed into a position, by Col. Bartow, from which they had to retreat, in which they were almost shot to pieces. James George, was shot through the abdomen, and then taken prisoner. He was afterwards re-taken from them by us, brought to the Junction, and died. Joel Yarborough was wounded – not seriously, and Mr. Orr was killed on the field. Brother William * was shot through the fleshy part of the thigh. I don’t think he will suffer much.

None of the Powder Springs Company was killed, though Captain Moyer was wounded in the head, and it is thought will die.

I have eaten but two regular meals since Sunday. I never did as hard a day’s work in my life as on that day. I dressed wounds all day, until 1w o’clock at night. Then I went to the battle-field and hunted the dead and wounded till day; and I did not leave the field till last night. All day to day, I have been dressing over the wounds of our soldiers, and I am hungry and sleeping.

Tell Dr. Hoyle that his brother, Eli, was the first man that rushed upon Sherman’s battery. When the command for a charge was given, he jumped upon one of the cannons, killed the man that controlled it, took his sword, knife and spur, and kept his position until the enemy fled

But I must close. May Heaven Bless you.
A. S. Mayson

We were shown a biscuit, all the way from Manassas, of the Doctor’s kneading and baking, which shows that he is an adept in the culinary art as well as in dressing the wounds of soldiers; and were informed that he labored every way to render the sick and wound comfortable, and succeeds better than any of the cooks in fixing up good things for the sick. – Men who thus labor for the good of their fellow-men, are worthy of everybody’s esteem.

(Atlanta, GA) Southern Confederacy, 8/1/1861

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Asbury S. Mayson appears in records as a private in Co. E. This does not preclude him from performing the duties of an assistant surgeon, but he was not on the rolls as such.

* Pvt. William C. Mason, Co. B, 7th Georgia Infantry.

Asbury Smith Mayson at Ancestry

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Asbury Smith Mayson at FindAGrave





5th Sgt. William M. Glenn, Co. K, 7th Georgia Infantry, On the Battle

28 01 2022

Another Letter from Billy Glenn.

Manassas Junction, July 26, 1861.

Dear Father: You have doubtless been very uneasy about me, fearing that I was killed or wounded. I assure you I came out perfectly unharmed, and I am in the best of hopes that this war will come to a speedy close. When that Yankees that are left get back home and take the scales off the eyes of their fellows in regard to Southern men’s feelings in this war, it will be hard to rally men enough to meet us again, for it was the most complete victory ever gained on this continent.

Our Seventh Regiment was in the thickest of the fight, the left wing especially, of which our company (the Davis Infantry) formed a part, was highly spoken of by Beauregard. – We captured, by a series of charges, Sherman’s celebrated battery. We turned their own cannon against them, killing nearly all their engineers and horses. We were engaged with the best men they had, including Ellsworth’s Zouaves. All those New York Fire Zouaves were killed but about two hundred. We also had the regulars to contend with. The prisoners say we fought not like men or soldiers, but like devils, and that God is surely on our side. We all know it to be so, for nothing in the world but a Divine power could have saved us from being out done. We were almost surrounded by treble our number. We fought like lions, and no man seemed to care a straw for his life, preferring death to defeat.

I was standing by Mr. Puckett’s side when he was shot through the breast.

I am proud to be able to say that I was in that great battle – not for the honor of the thing, but to know that I did my whole duty for my country.

There is no used in trying to describe the consternation and panic of the foe after they were routed. The papers have told you something of that. The funniest thing was that most of their big men – Congressmen – and some two or three hundred ladies in carriages, had come out to greet their officers with their smiles and kisses, and the soldiers by the waving of their little hands, and to have a grand pic-nic after they had conquered us. Imagine their surprise and mortification, when these heroes of theirs whom they had come out to cheer, encourage, and bless, came back in all haste, filled with consternation and running for their lives! Some without guns or knapsacks, coats and shirts off, shoes and hats lost, pitching headlong through them, running over women, carriages and everything in their way; and then closely followed by our cavalry, cutting and slashing them at every jump, and taking prisoners by the hundreds!

The prisoners and wagons are coming in yet every hour and sent off by the car load to Richmond.

All the wounded are well cared for. Tell Mrs. Wm. T. Wilson, that Mr. Wilson is not in a dangerous condition. I helped him off his horse and gave him water from my canteen, and took his boot off. He got on his horse and went to the cars. He rallied and encouraged the men long after he was shot, and he is a whole regiment himself in time of battle.

Well, I won’t say any more about the fight this time. You must not be uneasy about me, for if I get wounded I will be well taken care of, and if killed, I will die for my county.

Your son, WM. GLENN

(Atlanta, GA) Southern Confederacy, 8/6/1861

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William M. Glenn at Ancestry

William M. Glenn at Fold3





Pvt. Robert LaFayette Francisco, Co. E, 4th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

6 08 2021

The following is from a member of Col. J. F. Preston’s Regiment, to his brother in this city:

Camp near Manassas, July 30, 1861.

We left Winchester on Thursday, with the impression that we were going to prevent the enemy from out-flanking us in the direction of Charlestown; but when a few miles from town we were told by our officers that we were on a forced march for this place to help Gen. Beauregard, and that we must make it in forty-eight hours, which we did, and had some eight hours to spare. We had one day’s rest, when, on Sunday morning, 21st, while preparing breakfast in the pines, our ears were saluted by the enemy’s artillery, and in a few moments a few bombs fell in our neighborhood. This was only a feint.–We were in a few moments on the march, and, after marching and counter-marching, and double-quicking it some twelve miles, we were brought up immediately behind our largest battery to support it, and at which the enemy were hurling a perfect sheet of grape, canister, and every other kind of shot. We soon took our positions and lay down upon the ground quietly for two hours and forty minutes in the hot sun. During this time the pine bushes behind us were literally mowed down, and many of our best men were killed lying there. Three were killed by a bomb-shell within a few feet of me, a part of whose blood was spattered upon me. A little further off five of our countrymen were killed without having moved from their positions. Gens. Johnston, Beauregard and Jackson rode before us and gave us a cheer. Gen. Beauregard’s horse was shot within my sight. After a while the enemy got on our flank, and commenced a brisk cross fire both with artillery and musketry, and I began to think that our case was a desperate one, for our men who were on our left fell back and let the enemy have their position in the pines. But we did not have long to think of our position, for we were ordered to charge and clear the field with the bayonet.–Up we jumped, gave a loud yell, and over the fence and through the pines we went until we met the enemy face to face. We were met at every step with a perfect shower of bullets, and I saw many noble fellows full by my side to rise no more. One shot passed through the leg of my pants, and another through my shirt, but nothing could stop us; on we went until we charged on and over Sherman’s famous battery, and our brave Colonel (James F. Preston) was first to mount it and place our colors upon it. So, let the world say what they will, the Fourth Regiment of Virginia Volunteers took it and held it, though we were aided by the Twenty-Seventh; but they were a long way from it when we captured it. I am told that others claim and have received all the honor of the capture, some of whom perhaps never saw it. We took in all ten pieces, having first killed nearly all their horses and men. The men that we fought were the Brooklyn Zouaves, a part of Ellsworth’s Regiment, and the regulars.–But they could not stand the cold steel, and I never in my life saw men run so fast after fighting as well as they did; for there is no denying the fact that they know how to shoot, and for a long time fought well.

After our cavalry took them on the run, I returned to the field and assisted in removing many of our wounded men, and I never again wish to witness such a scene. The cries of the wounded and dying for help and water are still ringing in my ears. I carried water and ministered to both friend and foe as long as I could. Of the number of prisoners and amount of property taken in this fight, you doubtless know as well, if not better than I do.

I had many interesting conversations with the enemy’s wounded, nearly all of whom said that they had been most grossly deceived, but I don’t believe one word that they say. Some, however, said that they would fight again if they got the chance. I saw many letters that they had written to their lady-loves, telling them to direct their letters to Richmond, as they would be there in a few days. I don’t suppose there ever were men who calculated more certainly on victory than these men; but, thanks be to God, there never were men more bitterly disappointed.

They say that they can fight men with some hope of success, but not devils.

So you see, in the whole matter, the “harmless Fourth,” as we are called, have performed their duty well, and God in his mercy gave us help and put a “panic” into the hearts of the Yankees, and they ran; therefore we ought to give Him all the glory and thanks.

We had, when we went into action, a little over four hundred in our regiment. Thirty-five were killed and ninety-eight wounded. Our loss was, therefore, heavy in proportion to the number engaged. Not one of the company to which I am attached (the Montgomery Highlanders, Captain C. A. Ronald,) was killed, and only six wounded. I am satisfied that nothing but the protecting care of our Heavenly Father saved us from so many imminent dangers.

R. L. F.

Richmond (VA) Daily Dispatch, 8/6/1861

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Contributed and transcribed by Eric Mink

Robert L. Francisco at Ancestry

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4th Virginia Infantry Roster

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Corp.* Warren D. Wilkes, Co. J, 4th South Carolina Infantry, On the Capture of “Sherman’s Battery”

12 09 2020

The Capture of Sherman’s Battery.

From Lieut. Warren Wilkes, of the 4th Regiment of South Carolina volunteers, who arrived here yesterday in charge of the remains of his brother, Adjutant S. M. Wilkes, killed at Manassas, we obtain the following particulars of the capture of this celebrated battery. The battery was masked in a pine thicket, from which position it opened fire, at about ten minutes past 8 o’clock in the morning, upon Major White’s battalion of the 4th South Carolina regiment, which maintained its ground until the 4th Alabama and 11th Virginia regiments came to its assistance. The battle continued to increase in vigor and intensity, and whilst raging most furiously, our men at this point finding they were being overwhelmed in numbers, were about giving way in the centre of the column. At this critical juncture, Ex-Gov. Smith, with the 49th regiment of Virginians came to the rescue. Seizing a Confederate flag he unfurled it to the breeze, and appealing to the troops in short, forcible terms, to rally to the rescue and make one gallant final charge with their comrades in arms and win the day, he put himself at the head of the column, and followed by our gallant men, charged through several companies of sharp shooters stationed in the bushes and behind fences, reached the terrible battery, and amid a blinding storm of “leaden rain and iron hail,” captured it and turned the pieces on the panic-stricken foe. Not one man of Sherman’s battery was left to tell of its capture, and but four horses remained alive.

The following are the casualties sustained by the 4th South Carolina regiment: – Capt. Kilpatrick received a shot in his right hand; a severe wound, but it will not cause amputation. Capt. Pool was shot through the right thigh, rendering immediate amputation necessary. Lieut. Ballale was shot through the left leg; amputated. Orderly Sergeant Fuller, of Capt. Poole’s Company, had his left foot shot to pieces. Orderly Sergeant J. W. Morrice, of the same regiment, was shot through the shoulder, and died from the effects of the wound. In Capt. Anderson’s Company, of the same regiment, private John Simpson, was shot through the heart in a bayonet charge, and instantly killed. Private Kay was wounded in the neck by a piece of bomb. This company sustained no further injury, though in the thickest of the fight. In the Palmetto Rifles, private Earl, had the flesh torn from his right shoulder to the bone, by a piece of bomb. It is hoped he will recover. Jas. Sloan, private, was shot through the cheek with a musket ball. Hubbard was wounded with a musket ball, which passed through his left arm near the elbow and through the abdomen. Cochrane was shot through the shoulder. Five members of the Company are missing.

Our informant states that the number of cannon captured from the enemy, amounted to at least seventy pieces. The amount of small arms and quantity of commissary’s stores captured in incalculable. – Richmond Enquirer.

The (Wilmington, NC) Daily Journal, 7/29/1861

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*While the article identifies Warren D. Wilkes as a Lieutenant, records below indicate he was a corporal.

Warren Wilkes at Ancestry.com

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S. D. S., Co. K, 18th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

9 09 2020

Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.
The Charlotte Rifles.

Charlotte C. H., Va., Aug.2d.

With your permission, I avail myself of the opportunity to return my grateful and heartfelt thanks to the kind ladies of Orange and Culpeper Court-House, who met me with many other poor wounded soldiers on the cars, with blackberry wines, warm teas and many other delicacies too numerous to mention, (but all calculated to soothe and refresh a worn out soldier,) while on our way from the battle ground of Manassas. Crowds of ladies assembled at the depots of the above mentioned places to await the arrival of the train which was to convey us from the scene of action, bringing with them kind words of comfort which almost made me thankful that I received the wound.

May God bless them – that God who so graciously protected us in our time of danger and turned aside the missiles of death hurled against us by the hands of the brutal, but cowardly foe. When I first commenced my journey I thought that I was far from friends and home, but I was greatly mistaken, for a wounded soldier will always find relief and comfort whenever and wherever he may meet with the ladies of the Old Dominion.

I received my wound in the early part of the engagement whilst attempting to shoot a cowardly Yankee, who was dodging behind a bush; the ball passed through the calf of my left leg, and was cut out behind. I was carried under a large tree to have the ball cut out, and whilst there a cannon ball shattered the top of the tree into a thousand pieces, without injuring me in the least. One of my company, James A. Thomas, was shot dead at my side by a Yankee, who pretended to be in the agonies of death. Our gallant Major George Cabell, seeing the deception practiced upon poor Thomas, (than whom a braver and better man never lived,) drew his revolver and sent the Yankee scoundrel to his last account.

Our regiment (the Eighteenth) was soon ordered to charge upon a portion of Sherman’s Battery, which they did with the greatest coolness and bravery, having taken it with the loss of but few men. The company to which I belonged, (the Charlotte Rifles, Capt. T. J. Spencer,) I am happy to say, acted with great coolness and bravery throughout the whole engagement. Our noble Captain is as brave and good a man as ever lived, rallying his men throughout the whole battle. First Lieutenant Matthew Lyle, of the Charlotte Rifles, distinguished himself by killing six of the scamps wand taking several prisoners. Among them was Capt. Jack Downey, of the New York Zouaves, who, with the true spirit of a Yankee after he was captured, threw up his hands and cried for mercy, when he was told he should not be harmed. A Minnie musket, a brace of pistols, and a sword, with his name on it, were taken from him. If ever a man deserved promotion, Lieut. L. does.

S. D. S., a Member of the Charlotte Rifles.

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/5/1861

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