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

Warren Wilkes at Fold3





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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Unknown, 11th North Carolina Infantry, On the Campaign

31 08 2020

LETTERS
FROM OUR VOLUNTEERS.
—————

Manassas Gap, Va., July 23, 1861.

On last Thursday we met the enemy at a place called “Bull’s Run,” about four miles from Manassas, and repulsed them three times with a loss to ourselves of only six killed and nine wounded, while the enemy confess to a loss of about eight hundred killed & wounded. They sent a flag of truce to us and asked leave to bury their dead, which was granted, and it took them all the next day – Friday – to finish the task. But the greatest news is yet to come. The enemy fell back on Friday to Centreville about eight miles from Manassas, and on Saturday were reinforced by 30,000 men under Gen. Patters. This made their force about 90,000 altogether. We were reinforced about the same time by 15,000 men under Ben. Johnston, and afterwards by Jackson’s brigade of 5,000. Jeff. Davis came up from Richmond also with some 15,000 or 20,000 men, thus making our force about 65,000. On Sunday morning, just as I received your letter, the pickets came galloping in, announcing that the Yankees were advancing from Centreville to attack us, and in about ten minutes afterward we heard the heavy thunders of their batteries about five miles on our left wing. Our line was stretched about 15 miles from Manassas to the north-west. Our regiment was placed immediately in the centre; it being the post of honor, and was given to us in order to compliment North Carolina for the bravery of her sons at Bethel Church. We had splendid entrenchments, and had a field battery of 6 cannon to support us where our company was placed as that was the spot where it was thought the enemy would tug and break through. Along the line of our regiment, other than where the Rifles were place, where were about twelve or fifteen other pieces, loaded with canister, ready to belch forth death to the foe at every discharge. We had not waited long after firing commenced before we saw the enemy marching in front of us at a distance of two and a half or three miles, arranging their line of battle. Their design was to attack our right, left, and centre simultaneously, with 20,000 men at each point, keeping 30,000 reserve. We had about 5,000 on our right, 5,000 on our centre, and some 15,000 on our left, as it was shrewdly suspected by General Beauregard that the grand blow would be made upon our left, that being the point most weakly defended by breastworks. The remainder of our troops were kept in reserve. About 9 o’clock the batteries in front of us were opened and the Yankees bombarded and cannonaded us till noon without cessation. The shells burst over us and all around us. Our entrenchments were struck by no less than 132 bombs and balls. The air was kept full of them flying in every direction, but not a single man of our regiment was hurt. During all this time the enemy were too far distant for us to do any thing with our muskets, and our cannon were not large enough to compete with the heavy Armstrong guns, and rifled cannon of the enemy; so we kept ourselves snug in our trenches watching the effect of the shells and balls, and getting so used to them that we could only laugh when one came too near, and declare that it was but a chance shot.

About noon, the grand assault was made up on the left, and then commenced the slaughter. The Yankees advanced in a solid body, and our troops held their fire until the enemy were within 100 yards and then they let fly. From this time on the thunders of cannon and musketry were incessant, and the battle became general. – The sky was clouded with smoke. Cavalry was galloping in every direction, and infantry from the reserve kept filing in double quick as fast as they could go. This continued until four o’clock in the afternoon, when suddenly the Major of our Regiment galloped along our lines, and taking off his hat, he waved it, shouting “The Yankees are flying, and our men have captured all their batteries.”

Cheer after cheer burst from the North Carolina boys, who were wild with delight. It was true enough! The enemy had been repulsed at all points, and were routed, horse, foot and dragoons, leaving 30,000 killed and wounded upon the field. The order was next given for us to form into line, and pursue them. We did so with fixed bayonets, and at double quick. Three thousand of our Cavalry first galloped after them, and then our whole army of infantry and artillery rushed after the Cavalry. We could see the Yankees clipping it at 2.40 speed about a mile ahead of us. They threw away their guns, knapsacks, blankets, cartridge boxes, and oil cloths. They left their baggage wagons and horses. All their provisions were cast along side the road and they themselves scattered like frightened sheep. It was the grandest sight in the world to see 60,000 men flying before 40,000 all going it as hard as they could clip. We followed them two miles beyond Centreville, and our men then broke down with running, and we had to return. We reached our entrenchment about 9 o’clock at night, and then wrapped ourselves in our blankets to catch a few hours rest, after the excitements of the day. The next morning we were made aware of the of our victory – 30,000 of the enemy killed and wounded on the field, and left for us to bury and take care of; 6,000 of our men killed and wounded. The Sixth N. C. Regiment of State troops were nearly cut to pieces, and its Colonel, Chas. F. Fisher, shot through the brain, dead. Two South Carolina Regiments, two Virginia Regiments, one Mississippi and one Alabama Regiment, were also shot to pieces. One Regiment lost every officer from the rank of Captain up to Colonel, some of the South Carolina companies had only six men living when the battle was over.

The enemy was completely defeated. We captured all their cannon, 66 pieces including Sherman’s famous rifled battery; 108 baggage wagons, hundreds of horses, all their provisions and ammunition. We took about 1,500 prisoners among whom were 36 field officers that we know of. Such was the great battle of Manassas. It will be a day long to be remembered in history.

A portion of our army is now pursuing the enemy towards Alexandria, and out Regiment moves to night for the same place. There will no doubt, be another battle there, as it is the key to Washington City; but we will be the conquerors as our boys are inspirited by victory, and the Yankees are disheartened by their bitter and overwhelming defeat. I wish I had room to tell you all the incidents of the battle, but I must, per force, reserve the narrative till I return. It would take a god sized volume to tell the half I could tell.

(Winston-Salem, NC) The People’s Press, 8/2/1861

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“Justice,” 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

23 08 2020

[For the State Journal.]

Manassas Junction, Aug. 3, 1861.

Editors of the State Journal, Sirs: – Your attention has no doubt been called to a publication in the Standard, purporting to be an account of all that was done by the Sixth Regiment of North-Carolina State Troops on the memorable 21st ult. That statement does certainly far more than justice to one individual, and, by inference at least, great injustice to others. I do not pretend to reflect on Mr. Holden for publishing, as true, whatever facts were communicated to him from what he regarded as a reliable source; but the most charitable supposition in camp is, that the Standard’s informant, whether he be one of those mentioned in the article or not, was not an eye-witness of the whole affair.

In the article referred to, only the companies of Capt. Freeland and Capt. York are mentioned, and the inference is very palpable, that they alone bore the brunt of the battle. Now, if we are to judge from the list of killed and wounded, (which I enclose in full for publication,) and I know no better criterion by which to judge, it will be seen that, while Capt. Freeland’s company suffered as much, perhaps, as any, Capt. York’s loss in killed and wounded is less than that of any company actively participating in the fight.

The following summary will sustain me in what I have stated:

Co. A. Capt. Kirkland.
Killed, 2
Severely wounded, 2
Slightly wounded, 3
Missing 1
Total 7
Co. B. Lieut. Parish.
Killed, 1
Mortally wounded, [1]
Severely wounded, 2
Slightly wounded, 3
Total 7
Co. C. Capt. Freeland.
Killed, 2
Mortally wounded, 1
Severely wounded 10
Slightly wounded, 2
Total 15
Co. E. Capt. Avery.
Mortally wounded, 1
Severely wounded 4
Slightly wounded 7
Total 12
Co. F. Lieut. Carter.
Killed, 2
Mortally wounded, 1
Severely wounded, 3
Slightly wounded, 1
Total 7
Co. G. Capt. Craig.
Killed, 7
Severely wounded, 2
Slightly wounded, 14
Total, 23
Co. I. Capt. York.
Mortally wounded, 3
Severely wounded, 1
Slightly wounded, 1
Total 5

As unofficial reports have reached the people of N. C. through the press, it is due to the regiment and the friends of the regiment that a fair, full and impartial account of its connection with the fight should be published to the people of our state.

Omitting all the details of our march thither, it is sufficient to say, we reached the Junction soon after daylight on the 21st, and in a half hour were marched off at a pace between quick and double-quick toward Lewis’ house, distant some four miles. When within a mile of the battle field we halted in obedience to orders and the men were drilled an hour in the manual.

The regiment was then led forward to the brow of the hill in front of Lewis’ house for the purpose, it was said, of supporting a battery about to open fire from that point, but, for some reason, the battery was removed, and our regiment led to the left, and formed in line along a road on the margin of the woods.

While resting in that position, we were first enabled to realize that a hard-fought contest was going on before us. The wounded were every moment passing our line with the report that the enemy were advancing, and that the shell from Sherman’s battery were playing sad havoc with our soldiers. Shell whizzing over our line occasionally gave to their statement at least an air of plausibility, one of them wounding Col. Fisher’s horse, and another passing through the centre of Capt. Craig’s company. After a little pause, however, Col. Fisher commanded us to file to the left, and, conducted by a mountain officer, led us through a dense wood for some distance, and then filed us to the right, along a little ravine, with thick woods on our left and an old field on the right. Though concealed from our view by an undergrowth, the battery was throwing shell constantly over us as we advanced, and it was only on rounding a corner of the woods that we came in full view of it, planted on the top of the hill in an old field, and not more than sixty yards from us. It was supported by a body of Marines and Ellsworth’s red-legged Zouaves.

Col. Fisher then filed to the left around the corner of the woods, and the following companies in the order of the names – Capt. Freeland’s, Capt. York’s, Lieut. Carter’s, Capt. Avery’s, Capt. Craig’s, Lieut. Parish’s and Capt. Kirkland’s – came into line, faced to the right and opened fire on the enemy. Our men then advanced, firing at will, until, I suppose, they had fired two rounds or more, and many were then within thirty yards of the battery. All this time a oration of our men were firing at a body of men on our left in a little slip of woods, but at the time I speak of, a mounted officer rode in among our men, with no little danger to himself, and ordered us to cease firing. Our Colonel repeated the command, and when, through the united efforts of our Company officers, the firing was stopped, it was stated that we were firing into our friends on the left, and we immediately concluded that it was the 4th Alabama Regiment which, it was previously understood, would support us on that side.

When the smoke had cleared away we perceived that the horses attached to the battery were all killed and many of the soldiers manning and supporting the guns had fallen while many others had retreated, though the stars and stripes still floated over the battery, and some Federal troops were ranged around.

At this juncture, it was that, after a pause, Capt. Avery took the responsibility of ordering a charge, and it being repeated along the line, more than a hundred of our men did charge, and, the enemy retreating in hot haste, took possession of the battery. When we reached the top of the hill, many of the Zouaves could be seen running a distance of a hundred yards beyond, while some had squatted behind a fence in a lane about fifty yards beyond the battery. Upon these latter our men opened fire from points beyond and around the battery.

About this time a fire was opened upon us from the strip of woods on our left, and many of our number, among them the gallant young Mangum, fell. Our hands were tied. We had been told that they were friends, and to corroborate it, they had given us the sign adopted to distinguish friends that day, and some said had raised the Confederate flag. The solders of the 4th Alabama Regiment deny the charge, but with the facts before them, it is submitted to the public to pass judgment. Situated as we were, receiving a fire and unable to return it, our officers advised a retreat and we did give way.

Upon the conduct of our gallant Colonel, suitable encomiums will be passed by persons much more competent to perform the task than myself. I will content myself with giving a plain statement of facts.

He had been from the first in front of his regiment, and when, after the command to cease firing, a portion of his men were giving back fire for a moment, he came down the hill, called upon them to rally, and as they charged, said to an officer, ”you are right, rally your men, it will never do to give it up.” These were his last words. In a moment he swept on with the men and past them, and soon after it is supposed, fell about thirty yards beyond the battery and to the left of it. No one saw him fall, for no one could see him from behind, even though within a few paces of him. He had gone through a little cluster of pine bushes and at the moment he emerged from the other side fell dead. Besides, Col. Fisher had dismounted, and there was nothing to attract attention to his movement. In justice to those companies in the rear, that did not actively engage in the fight, it must be said that some were in the most trying of situations, receiving a galling fire and unable to return it, especially Capt. Tate’s, which was next in front. Maj. Pickett, who was in command of Sherman’s battery on the 21st, but now a wounded prisoner here, states, that when our regiment was coming up the ravine, he started to depress his pieces and rake our line; but we were too quick for him and our first fire killed all his horses and some of his gunners. With this statement before them, we call upon the citizens of North Carolina to aid us in establishing the fact, that we took Sherman’s battery. I may also state, that up to the time we attacked the battery, the enemy’s line in that direction had been steadily advancing, and our Generals were forming a new line some distance in the rear to fall back upon. When the battery was silenced, however, they instantly gave the command ”forward.” After we had retreated about a hundred and fifty yards to an old field, portions of Capt. Freeland’s, Lieut. Carter’s, Capt. Avery’s, Capt. Craig’s, Lieut. Parish’s and Capt. Kirkland’s companies rallied with all their officers, who were not disabled, and Col. Lightfoot, who had been last to leave the field despite a wound in the leg, then bleeding freely, took command, having the assistance of Maj. Webb and Adjutant Lowrie. Col. L. then reported to Gen. Cock for orders and was commanded to support the flank movement, which he did, moving with the left of our line till the final stampede of the enemy that evening. His command, being attached that night to the Va. 7th, slept on the line and returned to the Junction to rejoin their comrades Monday afternoon. This, Messrs. Editors, is a true statement of al that was done by the 6th Regiment, on the 21st.

I must not be understood to question the truth of any accounts of the heroic adventures or miraculous, hair-breadth escapes of any individual, which may have reached the public. Those feats were performed and those scenes enacted, where there could be no witness, but that one appealed to in the courts of justice. I, of course, cannot testify with regard to them.

JUSTICE.

(Raleigh, NC) Semi-Weekly State Journal, 8/17/1861

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Capt. James William Wilson, Co. F, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On His Company In the Battle

13 08 2020

For the Hillsborough Recorder.

Melville, Aug. 1st.

Mr. Hearte – Dear Sir: – I had intended writing you a lengthy account of the fight at Manassas, but was prevented by sickness from so doing. Two days previous to the fight I was sent off by Col. Fisher as Quarter-master, and for that reason did not get into the engagement until about 2 o’clock. As soon as I get better I will try to give you some items which will be of interest to your readers.

In the Standard I notice a letter from Capt. York, which does not give justice to the Company from the Hawfields, which I have the pleasure to command, and I write to-day to ask you in your next editorial to make a statement for them. In addition to the two companies that charged upon Sherman’s battery, under their brave commanders, Capts. Avery and Kirkland, the writer neglects to add the one from Haw Fields. This Company fought bravely through the entire battle, was in the charge upon the battery, and even went beyond it, and at night as large o proportion as from any other Company followed in the pursuit. I can say this without any egotism, as the company was under the command of my most efficient first Lieut. Carter. In this Company James P. Stewart and James Simpson (privates) were killed; Paisley White severely wounded; Elbridge Younger flesh wound in the arm; Samuel Younger wounded in the foot; Jo. Thompson (son of Samuel) marked in the ear. Many others received slight marks, but not of sufficient importance to notice.

The dispute as to whom belongs the credit of taking Sherman’s battery, in my opinion, arises from our not being able fully to identify which was really his battery. That we charged upon and took a battery there is not a shadow of doubt, but whether it was Sherman’s, or a part of it, or some other battery, my impression is no one can say positively, and so many having been taken the confusion may have thus arisen.

I am yet very feeble, but hope soon to be able to return to my post. By making some notice of what I have written you will, I know, gratify your many readers in the Hawfields.

Yours, very truly

James W. Wilson

Hillsborough (NC) Recorder, 8/7/1861

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[The following appeared in the (Raleigh, NC) Semi-Weekly Standard on 8/10/1861, along with an excerpt of the above:

We are satisfied that Capt. York did not intend to do the slightest injustice to the Hawfields company. He had left a blank in his letter, hoping no doubt before he closed his letter, to obtain the names of the other companies that charged upon the battery. In publishing the letter we closed up this blank.

Capt. Wilson had returned home on leave, on account of serious indisposition – hemorrhage of the lungs. We hope to hear of his restoration to health. He is every way worthy of the men under his command, who bore so gallant a part in the great battle with laid permanently the foundations of Southern independence.]

James William Wilson at Ancestry 

James William Wilson at Fold3 

James William Wilson at FindAGrave 





An Eye Witness, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

12 08 2020

Camp Bee, 4 Miles N. E. Manassas
Junction, Va., July 28, 1861

Gentlemen: – I know you would like to hear from us, and as I have a leisure moment now, and a chance to send a letter, (for we have no mails,) I drop you this scroll. We of the Sixth N. C. State Troops, Col. Fisher, were ordered to Gen. Johnson’s command at Winchester, where we arrived in time to join in the celebrated “forced march” across the mountains to Gen. Beauregard’s aid, and which has been spoken of by President Davis as the great military achievement of the age. Yes, sire, we travelled on foot, day and night, without even stopping to eat! We arrived Sunday morning of the memorable 21st., at the Junction, about 8 o’clock, and while Col. Fisher was calling at Headquarters for orders we hear the opening fire. Soon after, Col. F. returned and ordered us to “forward,” and at a rapid pace, we set out for the battle field, without rest, water or food for 36 hours. As we approached, the musketry opened on the enemy (the fire before was that of Artillery) when we quickened our step ‘till within range of the enemy’s guns. Under cover of some timber we formed our line and for a few minutes practiced the men in manner of firing – then loaded and went on.

Owing to the position of the enemy the skirts of timber and the manner of carrying up the Regiment into action by the right flank, three of the extreme rear Companies never could get to “open” on the enemy, although exposed to a heavy cross fire of musketry and rifles all the while. The other seven Companies of the Regiment getting in, had the work to do, and right well did they do it.

In our rear was posted a Regiment of the enemy’s riflemen and in front Michigan Marine, Regular and Zouave Regiments in almost endless number, while to our left on tops of the hill, some 50 paces distant was the Sherman Battery.

On receiving fire from so many directions at the same time our men were thrown into temporary confusion and were ordered to “fall back” into the timber just in the rear and re-form. Col. Fisher again ordered them to “forward” in the direction of the Battery, he leading, some distance in advance. When found, the poor Colonel was dead, 25 yards beyond the Battery. About this time, Lieut. Col. Lightfoot was wounded and an officer mounted came up and ordered the men to “cease firing.” Just here there was great confusion, for there was scarcely any telling friends from foes. Yet the Zouaves with their red breeches could always be distinguished, and they kept pouring in a murderous fire. Capt. Avery saw it would not do to remain there inactive and took the responsibility to order a charge upon the Battery and with a yell the men moved rapidly on and driving the enemy from the guns, took possession – our Mississippi and South Carolina friends could not believe but they were the enemy and opened fire on them compelling the gallant Captain and his brave North Carolinians to abandon the guns – which were afterwards seized by other Southern men. This much is certainly true, that after Capt. Avery took the Battery no enemy ever used it, or was near it, for soon after the Yankees began a retreat which finally ended, as all knows, in a rout.

Many of our North Carolina boys acted heroically, but it would be perhaps better not to name these without explanations, which would be too tedious. It is sufficient to say that the fame of our State will not suffer by reason of bac conduct on the part of the Sixth Regiment State Troops. The loss is killed 16, wounded 64. Total 80. Several of the wounded will prove fatal.

Yours,
AN EYE WITNESS

(Raleigh, NC) Semi-Weekly Standard, 8/3/1861

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“Tau”, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle, the Death of Col. Fisher, and the Aftermath

11 08 2020

Correspondence of the Raleigh Standard.
—————

Camp Bee, Near Manassa Junction, Va
July 28, 1861.

Mr. Editor: – After incredible toil and hardships, and sleeping on the ground for a week, we have at last received our tents and baggage, and are now snugly quartered. There is no news of much importance; we are simply waiting for another festival on Sunday when the Yankees come to see us again, and when they do come back again, I hope they will come by forced marches so as to tire them, and then stiffen their legs; for certainly they can outrun any race of people that I have ever seen stretch legs over terra firma. It has been said that the yankees will not fight; well, this is a bad mistake, and if any troops come from North-Carolina under the apprehension that they will have no fight, they will be mistaken; for they fought us with a bravery worthy of a better cause for ten hours, and we whipped them by hard fighting. Our men took deliberate aim, and brought them to the ground, and, moreover, we walked right up to them, and did not stand off at half mile distance. Our regiment was led up by the gallant Fisher within 40 yards, and we silenced the battery first fire. The battery was Rickett’s and not Sherman’s. We all thought it was Sherman’s, but Capt. Rickett was wounded and taken prisoner and said it was his battery, and that our first fire killed every horse, and killed or wounded the cannoneers so that he could not fire the pieces. Had it not been cried out that we were “firing on friends,” we would have swept the field.

It was near this battery, and in advance of his men, that the lamented Fisher fell. Our loss of him was a serious and irreparable one. No man ever loved his men more than he, and none labored for them as he. There was nothing that he would not do for his men, even the lowest private in the ranks. While others might pride themselves upon their rank, he felt as a man, though he acted as a soldier. He never was with the Regiment until at Raleigh, and on our way to Virginia his labors were incessant for the soldiers. On the march from Strasburg to Winchester he walked all the way, giving both his horses to sick soldiers, and when we were thrown into line of battle, hungry and thirsty, on foot he went with the men, his hands full of canteens, to show them where the water was – then went back to Winchester, helped to cook our supper himself, and then did the same again at breakfast. These things riveted the affection of the men, and death itself can never eradicate from their hearts the memory of our gallant Colonel, the lamented Fisher. – When we left Winchester on a forced march to join Beauregard, when he read the orders of Gen. Johnson, the welkin rang with cheers, and when he returned from the left wing after reading the orders there, from the whole line, as one man, there went up three cheers for Col. Fisher, that spoke for themselves. His regiment would have followed him anywhere, and did follow him to the cannon’s mouth. Others may have excelled him in the minutiae of tactics; but none excelled him in bravery. Gallant and brave, he almost courted death; but fell in the hour of victory, lamented by his men. He went to the field determined that he would.

“As victor exult, or in death be laid low.”

His last words were “fire on the battery.”

May the sod lie light on his breast; and his memory shall be cherished by his men as one who knew how to die like a soldier.

We are at present engaged only in the usual routine of camp duty, and with but little prospect of a fight, though I certainly should relish one some Sunday soon; but I think they have pills enough to last them awhile.

We have had quite a number of North-Carolinians here for the past few days, visiting their wounded friends, and others to view the battle ground. Already nearly every bullet, bomb, and every thing else have been picked up off the battle field. I visited it yesterday, with some gentlemen from the old North State; but the odor of dead Yankees hand horses was too delicious entirely for me, and I retreated precipitately, as I think every other one will who has good smellers, and better stomachs.

A detachment of Louisiana troops were burying the putrid bodies of the dead Yankees, who had been lying there, ever since the battle, and they told me they buried eighty-two before breakfast; but hundreds of them in the thickets, will furnish food to the black eagles that collect in immense quantities over the putrid carcasses they left to pollute the soil of the South.

Our wounded men are all doing well, and if properly attended, will soon recover. They have all been removed, and I understand the ladies, where they are, are untiring in their exertions to relieve them. If any body upon this earth deserves compassion and attention, it is the wounded soldier, and rich rewards lie waiting in the land of the hereafter for those angels who bound up the haggard wound, and administered to the wants of those who braved the leaden hail storm of Sunday, the 21st. God bless the ladies, we often hear of them out here, and talk about our wives, sweethearts, &c., &c., but we see the agile form of woman, with her angelic smiles, about as often as we do Abraham. But we are coming back to old Wake after a while, and them we will collect the ladies, bring out the champagne, and have a merrier support than Gen. McDowell had at Centreville, and some of us can get as drunk as he. The difference, however will be, he drank before he won his victory, we will drink after.

Some beautiful ladies near Raleigh, gave us a lot of lint before I left. They will be pleased to know that it has been used on the wounds of as brave boys as ever “shouldered arms.”

I should like to see Raleigh again, and many friends, and my humble home in the country with the loved ones there, but –

Tau.

(Raleigh, NC) Semi-Weekly Standard, 8/7/1861

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“H*****,” Co. K, 18th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

19 07 2020

The Charlotte Rifles.

To the Editors of the Richmond Dispatch: – As an answer to the various inquiries of our numerous relatives and friends in Charlotte, concerning the part Capt. T. J. Spencer’s Rifle Company took in the recent engagement upon Bull Run, I propose as briefly as possible to give the desired information through the medium of your interesting columns. Some have erroneously supposed that we were at Mitchel’s Ford on Thursday, the 18th. We were not in any action until Sunday, the 21st. Early in the morning of that memorable day, we were stationed upon the road leading to Lewis’ Ford, which we had been guarding with a sleepless vigilance for several days. While standing here with the other companies of our regiment, arranged around at various points for the defence of the ford, our Captain took the first prisoner taken that day – He was a spy belonging to an Ohio regiment. He had unconsciously straggled into the lines of our men. When it became evident that the enemy did not design to cross the ford in that direction, we were deployed as skirmishers to prevent them from planting a battery in an open field upon and elevated point that commanded a full view of the opposite side of the stream – Here we remained for 3 or 4 hours, listening to the heavy thunderings of the artillery, the incessant roar of the musketry, and awful cries of the wounded – intermingled alternatively with the hearty cheers of the enemy and the vociferous applause of our soldiery as the tide of the battle would change from one side to the other. Having been withdrawn from our position and drawn up in battle array on the opposite side of the stream, we received orders to go forward to battle. In our advance we were exposed to the enemy’s shell and ball for more than a mile before we entered the battle-field. We advanced under the most discouraging circumstances. We met remnants of other regiments in retreat, saying that their companies had been cut to pieces and that the day was well-nigh lost. The wounded also were brought out in full view of our line. – The first appalling sight that met our vision was a wounded soldier with his left arm and a part of his left side entirely torn off rom his body. Wounds of various kinds presented themselves to our view. Strange to say, the only encouragement we received was from some poor wounded soldiers, who as they were being carried off the field waved their hands toward the scene of conflict. After marching through a body of thick pines, our company being situated upon the extreme left wing of the regiment, happened to fall suddenly upon a halfscore or more of New York Zouaves. We took a captain and several others as prisoners, and killed all the rest – They had on red pantaloons and a blue fatigue shirt. It was by the bullet of one of those desperadoes that Mr. Jas. Thomas, a worthy member of our company, lost his life.

Owing to various impediments on our route, our lines were thrown somewhat into confusion; but the regiment was soon arranged again, drawn up in full battle array in full view of the enemy. We were held here as mere spectators, awaiting further orders, and exposed, in the meanwhile, to a continual shower of the enemy’s bullets. When the command was given to advance, the whole regiment went in double-quick time, cheering and firing as they ran; meanwhile the flags of the Southern Confederacy were seen right and left, advancing over every hill. The enemy’s battery had been taken, and it became the province of our regiment to hold it. We met with but little resistance. The Charlotte Rifles, with the aid of Adjutant Hill, of North Carolina, had the honor of turning the famous Sherman’s battery around, and firing it upon the owners. When the Northern vandals perceived that the invincible columns of the Southern Confederacy were coming against them in and irresistible tide, and that their own guns were turned against them, they set their faces towards the land of their birth, resolving as no doubt many of them did, never to set foot again upon Virginian soil.

H*****

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/3/1861

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“Staunton,” 5th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

17 07 2020

THE FIFTH VIRGINIA REGIMENT.

Camp Near Manassas, July 31.

I take the liberty of asking a small space in your valuable paper to do honor to a regiment which has been entirely neglected in the accounts of the battle of July 21st. No notice has been taken of the Fifth Virginia Regiment or its gallant and brave commanders, Colonels Harper and Harman, and Major Baylor, or its heroic captains and men, who participated in that memorable conflict. The regiment was in the hottest of the fight for many hours. Captain A. W. Harman, of the Staunton Rifles (Company G,) was the first man who took possession of Sherman’s celebrated Battery, (six pieces,) and kept it. I should have noticed this before, but have been unable in consequence of sickness since the fight. Knowing that it is your principle to accord merit where merit is due, I hope you will oblige the Fifth by publishing the foregoing.

Staunton

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/3/1861

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“Pequot,” 2nd New York State Militia, On the Campaign

27 06 2020

Letter from Washington – The Great Battle Near Manassas.

Camp Powell (2d Reg’t N. Y. S. M.)
Washington, July 29, 1861.

Friend Irish: – You have probably heard or read so many statements in regard to the great battle at Bull (or Bloody) Run, that perhaps it is rather late for me to give my version of it, but as every one who participated has an experience to relate, I will give you mine, and as our regiment was in the same division and near the Connecticut boys throughout the eventful day, it may be of some interest. – Our march from our old encampment at Ball’s Cross Road to Vienna, and from thence to Fairfax and Centreville is what every correspondent has pictured. It was a very slow movement, owing to the many obstructions on the road. We came upon half made forts and entrenchments, abandoned camps with the food still cooking, and camp utensils lying about in confusion, and we flattered ourselves that the enemy were cowards and would not show fight. The sequel proved they were too sharp for us, and this apparent hasty retreat was only a bait to draw us still further into the trap.

We came before Centreville on Thursday, and with twenty thousand more Union troops rested on a hill-side all day, while less than three thousand men of Col. Richardson’ brigade were getting badly cut up by the Rebels at Bull’s Run, on the southern road. Just before sundown we were ordered up the hill and started at double quick, all “spoiling for a fight” and eager to avenge the slaughter of our brave friends of the N. York 12th Reg’t with whom we were neighbors for a long time in camp, but when we arrived in the town we found we were to take position on the northern road leading to Manassas, by the way of Gainesville, and about a mile from the battle field of that day. We bivouacked in a large field of oats, without any tents or protection from sun or rain, and worse than this, with half rations, (only one meal a day) until Sunday morning. The country seemed to have been cleared of everything eatable or drinkable, except a little stream near us called Rocky Run, and with hard bread (or iron crackers as the boys call them) and water, we were compelled to content ourselves. Hunger will make men desperate, and not withstanding the strict orders of Gen. McDowell, sundry cattle, sheep, chickens, pigs, &c, did disappear from the neighboring fields, and no one could account for them. We were ordered when starting, each man to take only his musket, canteen, one blanket and three day’s cooked rations. In this country, marching under a burning sun, no man can carry food enough for three days in addition to musket, blanket and a quart canteen of water, consequently much was thrown aside, and some water. Not until Saturday evening – four and a half day’s in all – did we see any thing more furnished by our venerated Uncle Samuel. Saturday noon we were informed by our brigade Quartermaster that we would be immediately served with rations for three day, which we must cook and pack to be ready for a march forward (and a probable fight) at 6 o’clock that evening. The order was a afterward countermanded, because we did not receive provisions until 6 o’clock, and then we had no utensils to cook with. But the junk beef, bacon, &c., was cut up and packed raw, coffee was made in our drinking cups, and agreeably with new orders we marched silently out into the road at about 2 ½ o’clock A. M. It was a bright moonlight night, and as we filed up the hill we could look back for a couple of miles and see the ten thousand bayonets of our division, with Col. Hunter’s division following. It was a splendid sight, and it was enough to inspire the weakest soul to see so many keeping step to the music of the Union; but with it came the sad reflection that so many of these brave soldiers would, never return. The truth is the officers on our side went into the fight with no confidence whatever in the result, but were careful not to say so to the men under their command. Most of the officers in our brigade at least, expected to be badly whipped, for an army never went into the field in worse condition for a successful fight. One trouble was our empty stomachs, and this probably influenced the result of the battle as much as any one thing except bad generalship. Our brigade was commanded by Gen. Schenck, and consisted of the 1st and 2d regiments of Ohio Volunteers, 2d regiment N. Y. S. M., and Carlisle’s battery of 2d artillery, – in all about twenty-five hundred men, and we were the advance of the army. About two miles from our starting point we were deployed into the woods n our left in line of battle, and advanced in this way, preceded by skirmishers for about two miles, occasionally getting a sight of a rebel picket running from us. In our rear were the 69th N. York, the 1st, 2d and 3d Conn, while the 2d Wisconsin was thrown into the woods on the right of the road. We were on what is called the Warrentown turnpike, a northern road to Manassas, and about two miles north of the battle ground of Thursday, but on the same creek or run. Col. Hunter’s division, consisting of the N. Y. 71st regiment, the two Rhode Island regiments, and others, took a side road, taking them still farther north so as to come round and attack the enemy on the flank, for we had ascertained that they were intrenched on the opposite side of the creek. The battle was commenced by shots from our long Parrott gun which throws 32 lb balls and shells. We were ordered to lie in the woods out of range or fire, and to be ready for a charge. About 10 o’clock we were ordered to advance into a pine grove, but o getting into it by a nice little road evidently cut for us (as we afterward ascertained) we were met by a tremendous discharge from a four gun masked battery, which we could feel but not see. It was barely two hundred yards from us, and we could distinctly hear their officers giving orders and cursing the damned Yankees! The fire was terrible, and we lost eight or ten men killed and as many wounded within fifteen minutes. This was all bourne by our 2d N. Y. regiment (the Ohio boys having gone forward to try and take the battery) and the General seeing that by remaining we must be cut to pieces, ordered us to retire. The sensation of lying flat on the ground to avoid a shower of shot, shell and canister cutting through the trees about breast high, is anything but pleasant, although very exciting. The third shot killed one of our lieutenants and a poor drummer boy, whose scream of agony as the shell tore him in pieces still rings in my ears. The men were firm and did not flinch, and I think exhibited other qualities surpassing courage, that of endurance, for they lay down expecting a death shot every instant, and remained there until ordered to retire. The wounds our men received in the woods at this time were of a very severe kind, caused mostly by shell and rape shot. I had a very narrow escape while sitting in a group of four; one of them received a grape shot through the shoulder and breast, and another, one through the leg and ankle, the third had his hat cut into fragments, while your humble servant was untouched, save by the branches and splinters of a little tree which stood beside us. While we were out of the fight I crossed the road and witnessed the operation of the big gun, noting the effects of the shot upon the enemy’s entrenchments. From the top of the high hill I could see the whole battle field at a glance. The valley was full of our men, all pushing forward attacking batteries on the opposite bank of the river, and Hunter’s division, on the extreme north, were doing some tall firing, though a full view of their operations was obstructed by the woods. Long clouds of dust are seen to arise from the roads leading from Manassas, as well as from Winchester, and with a good glass it could be seen that a steady stream of reinforcements was pouring in to the aid of the enemy. The battle was now hotly contested and for about two hours the volleys of musketry were incessant – one long roll of firing broke in upon only by the thundering notes of the heavy cannon. Just then we were ordered into the woods to support a portion of Sherman’s battery, which endeavored to silence the saucy little masked battery just opposite. After a brisk firing of fifteen minutes our battery was forced to retire, having lost half of its men and horses. The General who ordered us in to the wood to support the battery, forgot to order us out, after the battery was withdrawn, and but for our commander taking the responsibility, ten minutes longer would have finished our regiment. As we came up into the road again we met the three Connecticut regiments going down into the fight. They were full of pluck and anxious for a chance at the enemy.

At 3 o’clock we were ordered to take a new position down the road in full view of all the enemy’s batteries, ostensibly to support a battery of two guns, but in reality to draw the fire from our enemy’s batteries so our storming parties could have a better chance of success. The tow Ohio regiments were somewhat sheltered by a cleft in the road, but ours was terribly exposed. Grape shot, shell, round shot and canister were rained upon us without mercy. Great gaps appeared in our ranks caused by three missiles; four of our men were torn in pieces and as many wounded by the explosion of a single shell! Grape and round shot struck all around in front and behind us; in fact we seemed to be a target for two batteries, and how any of us came out alive from such an infernal cross-fire no man can tell. But flesh and blood could not stand it and we were ordered out of fire again. Up to this time we had not an opportunity to fire a single musket. We now began to see stragglers come up the hill from the battle, and by half past four the remains of the different regiments commenced filing past us in retreat. We saw the 69th with the brave Col. Corcoran at the head looking sad enough. He said he thought 500 of his boys were missing. Our regiment with the three Connecticut regiments were posted along the road covering the retreat, when suddenly above us a terrible panic was created by a charge of cavalry which had outflanked our lines, and came along the road sabreing and shooting every body. We tried to rally, and did give them a good many shots, but were obliged to retire into the woods followed by the troopers. Here legs did their duty, and a good pair saved one life as I can testify. Picking up a loaded rifle laid beside a dead secessionist, your friend took careful aim at the waist belt of one of the troopers and pulled the trigger, and it is a matter of firm belief with the undersigned that the said trooper will ever make another charge. (The rifle was covered with secession blood when I took it, but I have had it carefully cleaned and will send it to you as a souvenir. I took it from a dead Georgian. His revolver I have also, which I retain for future operations.) After our run from the cavalry we cleared a high fence and came upon an open field. We saw the Zouaves running a mile ahead of us, pursued in some cases by the horsemen. I first saw Col. Terry with the Connecticut Second emerging from the woods, and joined him with a number of our men, and shortly our men headed by our Lieut. Col. came out with both colors flying (state and national.) which were received with cheers. The 1st Conn. came out headed by Col. Burnham, and we formed in three lines of battle and marched in good order to Centreville.

The road to Centreville was a scene of the wildest confusion and disorder. Baggage and ammunition wagons loaded, were thrown over the embankments; ambulances filled with wounded soldiers were pushed aside, heavy pieces of artillery were lying by the road, the gunners having cut loose the horses and ridden them away, and the ground was covered with muskets, knapsacks, haversacks, blankets, canteens, &c. The rout was complete, and all discipline was lost. Every impediment to flight was cast aside, and it was every man for himself.

Our brigade attempted to rally at Centreville protected by the skirmishers of Col. Mile’s division (who although armed with Enfield rifles had acted as a reserve all day, while those in the hottest of the fight had nothing but smooth bore muskets,) but our General was missing, and we had no other alternative but to continue our retreat. When we arrived at Fairfax Court House our body of fugitives numbered about three thousand and was constantly increasing. We took a different route and I arrived at camp between two and three o’clock a. m. Provisions were immediately cooked for our famished men, who after being somewhat refreshed were ordered to march to the city the same day in the midst of a pouring rain.

We are now located in a camp at 7th st, about two miles from Pennsylvania Avenue, and the 2nd and 3d Connecticut regiments are within a stones throw of us. There are some twenty thousand troops in camp here, within two miles of us. I see Capt. Chapman daily, he is well and his company also.

We find in footing up our losses (2nd reg.) that we have 23 killed, 25 wounded and 17 prisoners, and about 100 missing – among the killed are our Surgeon and 2 first lieutenants, our two assistant Surgeons are prisoners. The soldiers bestow great blame on General Tyler, who may be brave but certainly lacks judgement and places little value on the lives of his command. A captain of the 2nd informs me that in the retreat the General threw away his sword – travelled off as fast as his horse could carry him. Certain it is, (for I saw it myself,) the cavalry and artillery of the regular U. S. Army was the first and foremost in the retreat. Gen. Miles commanding the reserve is said to have been beastly drunk all day. He is under arrest. This battle learned us all a lesson – that we have underrated the means and spirit of the south; that we went into battle without the precautions for a safe retreat if repulsed, which is quite as likely to be necessary as preparations for advancing; also the bad policy of sending half starved and exhausted soldiers into a battle under leaders in whom they have no confidence. I deeply regret that the most unpopular general officer in this locality is from Connecticut, and bitter threats are made against him for the failure of the battle on the 21st.

But I see I have spun this out to an unendurable length and it will tire you to read it. The story could be condensed in a few words, ”We went, we saw, and we were badly beaten.”

Pequot.

New London (CT) Weekly Chronicle, 8/8/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

82nd New York Infantry Roster (the 2nd NYSM became the 82nd NYVI)