Col. Thomas J. Jackson to Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee on Strength and Deficiencies at Harper’s Ferry

24 11 2020

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

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – CONFEDERATE

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 814-815

Division Headquarters,
Harper’s Ferry, Va. May 7,1861.

Major-General Lee, Commanding Virginia Forces:

General: I forward herewith a statement of the strength of my command at this post, of the deficiency of arms, ammunition, and accouterments.*

The deficiencies I respectfully request may be supplied at the earliest practicable period, as I wish to put the post in as defensible a condition as possible. I have finished reconnoitering the Maryland Heights, and have determined to fortify them at once, and hold them, as well as the Virginia Heights and the town, be the cost what it may. For this purpose I would urge the necessity of giving me an ample supply of good arms, and such disciplined troops as you can spare (though it should swell the number here to nine thousand five hundred or ten thousand men). Two pieces of field artillery (12-pounders) should be placed on the Virginia Heights, and a larger number of 6-pounders on the Maryland Heights. Heavier ordnance, in addition to the field pieces referred to in yesterday’s letter, could be advantageously employed in defending the town. The heights west of Bolivar must be strengthened. I would be more than gratified could you spare the time for a short visit here, to give me the benefit of your wisdom and experience in laying out the different works, especially those on the heights. I am of the opinion that this place should be defended with the spirit which actuated the defenders of Thermopylae, and, if left to myself, such is my determination. The fall of this place would, I fear, result in the loss of the northwestern part of the State, and who can estimate the moral power thus gained to the enemy and lost to ourselves ? The commissary department here is in a suffering condition, and will continue so, unless the estimates are complied with. All the cadets you can spare from Richmond are needed here.

The enemy are in possession of the Relay House, and permit no freight cars to come west. Personal baggage is searched. At Grafton the cars have been broken open by the Republicans, upon the suspicion that they contained arms. I dispatched a special messenger this evening to Baltimore, for the purpose of having the arms which Virginia furnished Maryland returned to us, and I trust that the scheme will be so carried out as to elude the vigilance of the enemy.

The pressure of office business here is so great as to induce me to retain Maj. T. L. Preston, of the Virginia Military Institute.

Mr. Burkhart, who is in charge of the rifle-factory, reports that he can finish fifteen hundred rifle-muskets in thirty days. I have, in obedience to the orders of Governor Letcher, directed the rifle-factory machinery to be removed immediately after that of the musket factory. My object is to keep the former factory working as long as practicable without interfering with its rapid removal.

An unarmed company, in Harrison County, has offered its services, and I design arming it at Grafton. With prudent management I hope to assemble a number of companies at that post from the northwest, and for this purpose I have been corresponding with reliable gentlemen in various parts of that section of the State. Major Boykin was here yesterday on his way to Grafton, where I hope he will not long remain without a command.

I would respectfully recommend that the money for which estimates have been made by the quartermaster and commissary be turned over to them at once, and, if practicable, that it be deposited in a Winchester or Charlestown bank. They have been forced to use their private credit, that of the State being insufficient.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. J. JACKSON,
Colonel, Virginia Volunteers, Commanding.

*Not found.

John Thomas Lewis Preston was a founder of the Virginia Military Institute.

Philip Burkart was master armorer at the Harper’s Ferry rifle factory.

Francis Marshall Boykin was a member of VMI class of 1856, and served as Lt. Col. of the 31st Va. Infantry





Col. Thomas J. Jackson to Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee on Actions Since Taking Command at Harper’s Ferry

23 11 2020

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

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – CONFEDERATE

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 809-810

Division Headquarters,
Harper’s Ferry, Va., May 6, 1861.

General Lee, Commander-in-Chief:

General: I assumed command of this post on Monday last, soon after my arrival here. Since that time I have been busily occupied organizing the command and mustering the troops into service. I send herewith a report of the strength for May 4.* To-morrow I will give you a more detailed account of the forces, equipments, &c. All the troops have been mustered into service, except some companies on detached service. I have occupied the Virginia and Maryland Heights, and I am about fortifying the former with block-houses of sufficient strength to resist an attempt to carry them by storm. Whenever the emergency calls lor it, I shall construct similar works on the Maryland Heights. Thus far I have been deterred from doing so by a desire to avoid giving offense to the latter State. If you have an experienced engineer officer, I hope that you will order him here, if you have no duty for him elsewhere. There are four 6-pounder guns here without caissons. I respectfully request that you will send the caissons, and also two 6-pounder batteries and two extra 12-pounder howitzers, all fully supplied with ammunition, horses, equipments, and everything necessary for being turned over to companies now waiting for them. Reliable information has been received that the Federal troops are at the Relay House. As four thousand flints have been found here, I have taken the responsibility of ordering the one thousand flint-lock rifles from the Lexington Arsenal, and also ten barrels of musket and ten barrels of rifle powder, as in my opinion the emergency justified the order. Should the Federal troops advance in this direction, I shall no longer stand on ceremony. In addition to the cavalry stationed at Point of Rocks, I this morning ordered two 6-pounders to the same position. The enemy, from good authority, are about four thousand strong in the neighborhood of Chambersburg. About two-thirds of the machinery from the musket factory has been removed from here. This morning Mr. John Ambler, the quartermaster in Winchester, informed me that the merchants were paying double freights, and were thus securing all the transportation. To prevent the consequent delay of the machinery, I directed him to impress the wagons. He also notified me that the baggage cars from Strasburg were employed in carrying flour from the valley to New York, and that every barrel would be required for our use. To remedy this evil, until the subject could be referred to you, and also to secure the transportation for the machinery, I directed him to impress the cars. About four hundred and eighty Kentucky volunteers are here without arms, and stand greatly in need of them. I directed some old arms to be issued to them, but they refused to receive them. I refer the subject to you, with the hope that something may be done towards arming them. The material is good. My object is to put Harper’s Ferry in the most defensible state possible, and hence feel it my duty to give the best arms to the Virginia troops, as the others may at any time be ordered off. The news from the northwest shows great disaffection, especially in Ohio County.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. J. JACKSON,
Virginia Volunteers, Commanding.

*Not found.





Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee to Col. Thomas J. Jackson to Prepare for Federal Assault on Harper’s Ferry

23 11 2020

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

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – CONFEDERATE

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 806-807

Headquarters Virginia Forces, Richmond, Va., May 6,1861.

Col. T. J. Jackson,
Commanding Volunteers, Harper’s Ferry, Va.:

Colonel: I consider it probable that the Government at Washington will make a movement against Harper’s Ferry, and occupy the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad with that view, or use the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal for the transportation of troops. You are desired to watch these avenues of approach, and endeavor to frustrate their designs. On receiving certain intelligence of the approach of troops it will become necessary to destroy the bridge at Harper’s Ferry and obstruct their passage by the canal as much as possible. You might make some confidential arrangements with persons in Maryland to destroy the Monocacy railroad bridge and draw the water out of the canal, should there be assurances of the enemy’s attempt to make use of either.

You are authorized to offer the payment of $5 for each musket that may be returned of those taken possession of by the people in and about Harper’s Ferry.

It is advisable that you establish some troops at Martinsburg, or other more advantageous point, if your force will permit. I desire that you will report the amount of your present force and the number of volunteers that will probably respond to the call of the governor from the counties indicated in his proclamation.

Respectfully, &c.,

R. E. LEE,
Major- General, Commanding.





Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee to Col. Thomas J. Jackson Directing Him to Recruit and Form Companies at Harper’s Ferry

21 11 2020

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

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – CONFEDERATE

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 793-794

Headquarters Virginia Forces,
Richmond, Va., May 1,1861.

Col. T. J. Jackson, Commanding Harper’s Ferry, Va.:

Colonel: Under authority of the governor of the State, you are directed to call out volunteer companies from the counties in the valley adjacent to Harper’s Ferry, viz, Morgan, Berkeley, Jefferson, Hampshire, Hardy, Frederick, and Clarke, including the troops you may muster in at Harper’s Ferry, not counting five regiments of infantry, one regiment of cavalry, and two batteries of light artillery, of four pieces each. The average number of enlisted men in each company will be eighty-two, and the troops will be directed to rendezvous at Harper’s Ferry. You will select, as far as possible, uniformed companies with arms, organize them into regiments under the senior captains, until proper field officers can be appointed. You will report the number of companies accepted in the service of the State under this authority, their description, arms, &c. Five hundred Louisiana troops, said to be en route for this place, will be directed to report to you, and you will make provision accordingly.

You are desired to urge the transfer of all the machinery, materials, &c., from Harper’s Ferry, as fast as possible, and have it prepared in Winchester for removal to Strasburg, whence it will be ordered to a place of safety. The machinery ordered to this place must be forwarded with dispatch, as has already been directed. The remainder will await at Strasburg further orders. All the machinery of the rifle factory, and everything of value therein, will be also removed as rapidly as your means will permit. If the troops can be advantageously used in the removal of the machinery, they will be so employed. It is thought probable that some attack may be made upon your position from Pennsylvania, and you will keep yourself as well informed as possible of any movements against you. Should it become necessary to the defense of your position, you will destroy the bridge across the Potomac. You are particularly directed to keep your plans and operations secret, and endeavor to prevent their being published in the papers of the country.

I am, sir, &c.,

R. E. LEE,
Major-General, Commanding.





Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee to Col. Thomas J. Jackson Directing Him to Take Command at Harper’s Ferry

19 11 2020

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

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – CONFEDERATE

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 784-785

Headquarters Virginia Forces,
Richmond, Va., April 27, 1861.

Col. Thomas J. Jackson,
Virginia Volunteers, Camp near Richmond, Va.:

Colonel: You will proceed, without delay, to Harper’s Ferry, Va., in execution of the orders of the governor of the State, and assume command of that post. After mustering into the service of the State such companies as may be accepted under your instruction, you will organize them into regiments or battalions, uniting, as far as possible, companies from the same section of the State. These will be placed under their senior captains, until the field officers can be appointed by the governor. It is desired that you expedite the transfer of the machinery to this place, ordered to the Richmond Armory, should it not have been done, and that you complete, as fast as possible, any guns or rifles partially constructed, should it be safe and practicable. Your attention will be particularly directed to the safety of such arms, machinery, parts of arms, raw material, &c., that may be useful, to insure which they must be at once sent into the interior, if in your judgment necessary. If any artillery companies offer their services, or are mustered into the service of the State, and are without batteries, report the facts.

I am, sir, very respectfully,

R. E. LEE, Major-General, Commanding.





Gov. John Letcher to Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee on Placing Col. Thomas J. Jackson in Command at Harper’s Ferry

19 11 2020

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

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – CONFEDERATE

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, p. 784

Executive Department, April 27, 1861.

Maj. Gen. R. E. Lee, Commanding, &c.:

Sir : You will direct Col. T. J. Jackson to proceed to Harper’s Ferry, to organize into regiments the volunteer forces which have been called into the service of the State, and which may be assembled in the neighborhood. Direct him to report with as much dispatch as possible the number and description of the companies thus organized; the character and condition of their arms, and the names of the company officers present for duty, and where from; also, the names of all general, field, and staff officers now in the field in that command, that the Executive may have the information required for the proper organization of the regiments and brigades according to the ordinance of the Convention of April 21,1861. You will place Colonel Jackson, for the present, in command of the troops in that locality, and give him such general instructions as may be required for the military defenses of the State. Direct him to make diligent inquiry as to the state of feeling in the northwestern portion of the State. If necessary, appoint a confidential agent for that purpose, but great confidence is placed in the personal knowledge of Major Jackson in this regard. If deemed expedient, he can assemble the volunteer forces of the northwest at such points as he may deem best, giving prompt information of the same. Promptness in all these matters is indispensable.

I am, very respectfully,

JOHN LETCHER.





Lt. William Mack Robbins, Co. G, 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle

25 11 2018

With Generals Bee and Jackson at the First Battle of Manassas

On the afternoon of July 18, 1861, the army of [Brigadier General Joseph E.] Johnston – about ten-thousand strong – which had been for some weeks manoeuvering up and down the [Shenandoah] Valley in front of [Major General Robert] Patterson and was then lying around Winchester, was hastily put in motion and marched off southeastwardly, going we knew not whither. Most of the men belonged to the class which may be described as “young bloods,” sons of planters, reared in ease and affluence – intelligent, merry hearted, high spirited, full of romance and enthusiasm. They had volunteered at the first call, not only from devotion to the cause, but love of adventure, and there was nothing they were so eager for as to get into battle, being somewhat tinctured with the idea that they “could whip at least three Yankees apiece,” and were rather afraid that the war might come to an end before they got the chance to prove it. In spite of their confidence in their general, they had been a good deal chagrined and disgusted at what they deemed his overwary strategy in not delivering battle to the enemy under Patterson. They were therefore greatly delighted to hear the general order which General Johnston caused to be read to each regiment as soon as we got well out of Winchester that summer evening. That order was about in these words: “Beauregard is attacked by overwhelming odds at Manassas. Your commanding general has full confidence in your zeal and devotion and asks every man to step out lively. You are going on a forced march over the mountains to reinforce your companions in arms and save the country.” Loud cheers welcomed the tidings. The prospect of an early encounter with the enemy loomed up ahead and stimulated the impatient spirits of the men to their best exertions. Heat, dust, and night-fall soon made the rapid march disagreeable enough, but it was pushed without a check till we reached the Shenandoah. This river, about waist deep, was waded at dawn of July 19, amidst songs, jokes, and general hilarity. The Blue Ridge was passed at Ashby’s Gap, and at evening of the same day the head of the column arrived at Piedmont Station on the Manassas Gap Railroad, whence Johnston’s forces were sent forward in detachments by rail as fast as transportation could be furnished.

So much has been said about Johnston’s troops appearing on the field in the nick of time after the battle had been long ranging that the impression extensively prevails that none of them were there at its beginning. This is a great mistake. Three brigades – [Brigadier General Thomas J.] Jackson’s, [Col.] F. S. Bartow’s and nearly all of [Brigadier General Barnard E.] Bee’s – were at hand when the battle opened and bore an important part in it all day. The Fourth Alabama and other regiments of Bee’s Brigade reached the Junction at noon of the twentieth and were among the very earliest in the conflict the next day. It was only the comparatively minor number of Johnston’s men under [Brigadier General Edmund] Kirby Smith and [Colonel Arnold] Elzey that leaped from the train when they heard the battle in progress, and, hastening down the Warrenton Pike, came in so luckily on the right rear of the Federals and caused the panic which gave the victory to the Confederates.

I have spoken of the eagerness of our inexperienced but enthusiastic soldiers to see and participate in the battle. The feeling did not diminish, but rather grew in intensity on this occasion, up to the time of actual engagement, and how much longer I cannot say; but one thing is certain – all of us by the time the day was over felt sufficiently amused. Thousands of soldiers on both sides know all about the experience of a first battle, and anything said on the subject would be but an old tale to them; but those who never took a hand, and especially young who have come up since the war would no doubt like to know how a battle looks and seems to a new soldier – its thrill, its thunder, its grandeur, its horror, and no lees its odd, absurd, and even grotesque features. I do not feel competent to paint an adequate picture and description of these things. I doubt if any pen can fitly paint them. A few hints about how this battle opened and proceeded – as the writer saw it – must suffice. The Fourth Alabama were busy with breakfast near the junction when the sudden boom of a gun in the direction of the railroad bridge over Bull Run drew our eyes that way and we saw for the first time the little dense round sphere of white vapor, high up in the air, produced by the bursting of a shell. This was quickly followed by others, the design of the Federals being to draw all attention to that part of the line while they were executing their shrewd flanking movement on our left. However, our regiment, with others of Bee’s Brigade, was at once moved at double-quick towards the Confederate left, to a position that had been allotted to us at one of the upper fords. But we had scarcely reached the designated point when we were again ordered to go at a rapid run for about two miles still further up the stream to meet the Federals – our commanders having just at that moment discovered that they had crossed the stream at Sudley’s Ford, entirely beyond the Confederate left, and were pouring down in heavy force on that flank. All depended on presenting a quick front to this unexpected movement. So we went  – a few battalions only – across the fields at out highest speed, and soon reached the plateau of the Henry House, around which the battle was afterward mainly fought. But Bee did not permit us to stop there. He marked that as the most favorable position for the Confederate line to form its new front on, but he knew his brigade alone could not hold it and he also saw that the enemy would reach it, unless checked and delayed by some means before an adequate force of Confederates could get there to oppose them. To gain the needed time it was necessary to risk the sacrifice of the two and a half regiments then with him by a bold movement still further to the front. He could not hesitate. So he ordered the Fourth Alabama, Second Mississippi, and Eleventh Mississippi (two companies) to move half a mile further forward to the next ridge to engage the enemy and delay them as long as possible. Down the slope we rushed, panting, breathless, but still eager because ignorant of the desperate crisis which had doomed us to probably destruction to save the whole army. As we passed the little rivulet below the Stone House, the duel of the artillery began and the shells of friend and foe shrieked wildly above our heads. Mounting the hill and entering the copse of timber north of the Stone House, we began to hear a sharp cracking of musketry ahead of us – a collision  between the Federals and some small bodies of Confederates we had not known were there before, among them [Major C. R.] Wheat’s Louisiana Tigers, wearing the zouave uniform.

As we emerged from the little wood we caught sight of these Tigers, utterly overwhelmed and flying pell-mell, most of them running off to our right and toward the stream (Bull Run). This and their zouave uniform, which we had never before seen, but had heard some of the enemy wore, for a minute caused us to mistake these “Tigers” for Federals and as they were flying in disorder, some of our men set up a loud yell and shout of victory, supposing the enemy were already routed and retreating, whereupon one ardent fellow of the Fourth Alabama, with his finger on the trigger and anxious to pull down on somebody before they all got away, burst out with: “Stop your darned hollerin’ or we won’t get a shot!” But the mistake was discovered just in time to prevent our firing on friends. A little way further up the hill beyond the timber and we struck the enemy and no mistake. Their long advancing line, with the Stars and Stripes waving above it (which made some of us feel sorry), began to peer over the crest, eighty yards in our front, and opened a terrific fire, which at first went mostly over us. It is proper to mention that the Mississippians, who had come with us, were halted at the edge of the wood behind us, and so did not get into the hot conflict that ensued, the whole brunt of which thus fell on the Fourth Alabama alone. On receiving the enemy’s first fire we lay down and waited till we could see their bodies to the waist, when we gave them a volley which was very effective, firing uphill. The Federals fell back and disappeared behind the crest. After some interval they advanced another and longer line; but the result was the same as before, only they held on longer this time and their fire hurt us badly. A third time they came on in a line which extended both our flanks, and now the conflict became bloody and terrible to us, their balls coming not only from the front but from the right and left oblique, cutting down our colonel (Egbert Jones) and stretching lifeless many a familiar form so recently full of hope and gayety. Then war began to show us his wrinkled front. But we thought of what they would say at home if we flinched and how ashamed we should feel if after all the big talk about whipping the enemy we let them whip us at the first chance. We could see, too, that they were as awkward at the business and enjoyed it as little as ourselves. Besides, it looked like they could hardly help killing every one of us if we got up and tried to run away. It seemed our safest chance to hug the ground and pepper away at them; and so from sheer desperation, as much as anything, we kept to it, until after awhile, to our great joy, the enemy fell back once more behind the crest, and their fire lulled. Our general, seeing we would be certainly overwhelmed at the next onslaught, gave us the order to retire, which we did before another attack. We had been at it for over an hour and had really rendered great service in gaining time for the Confederate army to change front and form the new line. But nearly one third of the Fourth Alabama had gone down in the effort and were left on the ground, including the colonel, mortally wounded. I should not omit to mention that the Seventh and Eight Georgia, of Bartow’s brigade, also came into our advanced position far to our right during our contest, and had a bloody collision with another column of the Federals, and though these Georgians were recalled some time before we were, they contributed materially to the delay of the Federal advance.

The two Mississippi regiments of our (Bee’s) brigade had also retired before us, so that the Fourth Alabama was going back alone. In this movement a bloody episode occurred to us. Retiring by the same route along which we had come, when we reached the little rivulet running near the stone house, we saw a regiment, in column by companies, marching down the rivulet toward us. Their flag was furled on the staff and so was ours. By the quarter we had just come from they thought us probably Federals, but were not sure. As for us, we felt the enemy had got so far around in rear of the place of our recent fight; their uniform also resembled that of the Sixth North Carolina, belonging to our brigade, and we hastily took them for that regiment coming to our aid. Thus encouraged we halted, faced about and reformed our line, intending with this supposed reinforcement to take another tilt with the enemy we had been fighting if they should pursue us as we expected. The unknown regiment also halted and deployed into line of battle at right angles with ours and less than 100 yards from our left flank. Their colonel signaled us with his handkerchief for the purpose of communicating  and learning who we were as it afterward appeared; but we never dreamed this was his purpose and made no haste to respond, feeling confident we knew him, and thinking of course he knew us. All this took place in a few moments. Having quickly rearranged our line, our flag was than unfurled and displayed – the Stars and Bars! Instantly a blaze of fire flashed along the line of our supposed friends (a New York regiment it really was), and an enfilading hailstorm of bullets tore through the Fourth Alabama from left to right, killing many and disabling more, among the rest Lieutenant Colonel [Evander M.] Law and Major Scott, leaving our regiment without field officers.

What does the reader suppose we did? We did not stay there. The position was too bad and the surprise too sudden. True, the enemy’s fire was once returned with considerable effect; but it is only frank to say that we resumed, without delay, our movement back to the main Confederate line, whither Bee had intended us to go when he first ordered us to retire. Having arrived there, even after all they had suffered, the Fourth Alabama still had pride enough left to rally again, and under the command of a captain fell in on the right of the line and fought to the end of the terrible day. I will not now attempt to detail all the incidents that befell the regiment in these later hours of the battle. I will give one, however, which will always be of special historic interest.

The position of our regiment being now on the right of the Confederate line as drawn on the plateau of the Henry House, and the leading design of the Federals during the entire day being to turn the Confederate left, the heaviest fighting gradually veered toward that flank. No one who was there can ever forget how the Federal musketry crashed and rolled in fresh outbursts as new troops poured in against the center and left. Farther and farther round its awful thunder seemed to encroach, as if it would never be stayed till it should rend and tear that part of our line to atoms. Our brigade comrades of the Sixth North Carolina, separated from us in the manouevres of the day, had rushed in single-handed and attempted to check it, but had been smitten as with fire by its overwhelming power and their gallant Colonel [C. F.] Fisher, with many of his men, were no more. Jackson, with brigade, was struggling desperately, and at length successfully, to arrest the Federal columns; but immovable as Jackson and his men stood, the surging tides of the enemy beating upon him with such a mighty momentum that it seemed as if he must give way. Just then the battle had entirely lulled in our front on the right. Our Brigadier, General Barnard E. Bee, at this moment came galloping to the Fourth Alabama and said: “My brigade is scattered over the field and you are all of it I can now find. Men, can you make a charge of bayonets?” Those poor battered and bloody-nosed fellows, inspired by the lion-like bearing of that historic officer, responded promptly: “Yes, general, we will go wherever you lead and do whatever you say.” Be then said, pointing toward where Jackson and his brigade were so desperately battling: “Yonder stands Jackson like a stone wall! Let us go to his assistance.” Saying that Bee dismounted and led the Fourth Alabama (what remained of them) to Jackson’s position and joined them on the right of his brigade. Some other reinforcements coming up a vigorous charge was made, pressing the Federals back. In this charge Bee fell mortally wounded. Bartow fell nearly at the same time and within a stone’s throw of the same spot. Before the Federals recovered from the impression made by this partial repulse they saw Kirby Smith’s men advancing down the Warrenton Pike upon their right rear, as before stated, and his unexpected appearance in that quarter struck them with an overpowering panic and caused their precipitate retreat from the field. The battle ended so suddenly that the Confederates could not understand and could scarcely believe it. When afterwards the doings of the day were recounted among is the above expression, uttered General Bee concerning Jackson, was repeated from mouth to mouth throughout the Confederate army, and that is how he came to be known everywhere as Stonewall Jackson.

In conclusion, as I have set down with an endeavor at entire frankness the achievements, the mistake and the misfortunes that day of the regiment to which I myself belonged (the Fourth Alabama), I may be pardoned for adding a word about how we looked back upon our experience after it was over as a curious illustration of the absurd notions of inexperienced soldiers. Our ideal was that we were to whip whatever we came across – no matter about numbers; many or few, we must put them to flight. To turn the back before any enemy would be disgraceful. Having, therefore, turned our backs to the enemy twice that day, as I have narrated, once under orders and once without, we of the Fourth Alabama, upon the whole, felt humiliated and rather ashamed of ourselves on reviewing what had occurred. It was some days after the battle that to our surprise we began to hear from our comrades if the army and to read in the papers that our regiment was thought to have distinguished itself greatly. Then we began to hold up our heads again and to recall the fact that we had lost more than any other regiment in the army. Finally, we go hold of the Northern newspapers and found where our gallant and generous adversary, [Brigadier General Samuel P.] Heintzelman, giving an account of what he termed our stubborn resistance in that opening conflict, which I have described, had praised us extravagantly, saying: “That Alabama regiment was composed of the most gallant fellows the world ever saw.” This restored our equanimity, and we concluded that if we had not come up to our previous ideas of our invincibility, maybe we had not done so badly after all, and perhaps our sweethearts at home would not scorn us as poltroons. One other profound inpression, however, was left on the minds, at least of some of us, by the events of that day, and especially when we came to gather up the mangled remains of so many of our late merry-hearted and beloved comrades – an impression which was not changed by all we saw in the succeeding four years, or by the lapse of time since, and that was – talk as men about great war-like deeds, heap plaudits on heroes and worship military glory how they will – war is from hell!

Transcribed from Peter Cozzens (ed.), Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volume 5, pp. 41-49. Brackets above are the editor’s. Per note therein, the original article first appeared in the Philadelphia Weekly Times, 2/26/1881, under the title First Battle of Bull Run.

William Mack Robbins at Ancestry

William Mack Robbins at Fold3

Interesting article on William Mack Robbins





L. T. Moore House, Winchester Virginia

25 01 2017

 

The following article, edited, appeared as the final installment of my Collateral Damage/In Harm’s Way column in Civil War Times, back in 2011. I post it upon receiving news of the passing today of the actress Mary Tyler Moore:

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Despite his advanced years, the news still came as a shock to the people of Winchester. Around noon, just a few days after Christmas, 1897, townspeople saw octogenarian “Colonel” Lewis Tilghman Moore fall while walking along Rouss Avenue not far from his home on Braddock Street. He lay on the ground motionless and unconscious. They summoned medical assistance, but to no avail. The retired lawyer passed away quietly, the doctors pronouncing “death due to paralysis.”

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L. T. Moore was born in 1815 or 1816 – records to that effect are unclear – in Loudoun County, VA. In 1840, he moved as a bachelor to Winchester, studied law, passed the bar, and began his practice in that town. Except for a brief stint as a Virginia state attorney in Winchester, he held no public office. He was active in the Masonic Lodge and local militia, and rose to the rank of Major in the antebellum 35th Regiment of Virginia Militia. He appears to have been present at Harper’s Ferry in command of militia troops during the John Brown raid in 1859.

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Still a bachelor, on April 1, 1856 Moore purchased out-lot number 52 from William McP. Fuller, a dentist. In 1854, Fuller had constructed a dwelling on the property, a Hudson River Gothic Revival cottage called “Alta Vista”. The two story, six-room house featured a panoramic view across Winchester, and was accented with diamond-pane windows, scrolled wood trim and tin roof.

After Virginia’s secession from the Union in 1861, Moore became Lt. Colonel of the Fourth Virginia Infantry. The Fourth joined the Second, Fifth, Twenty-seventh, and Thirty-third Virginia regiments under the command of Brigadier General Thomas J. Jackson. At the battle of First Manassas on July 21, 1861, during a back and forth struggle for possession of Union artillery on Henry House Hill, Moore was seriously wounded in the knee. Reports of his death in the battle proved exaggerated, but he would limp for the rest of his life, and never again took the field.

Moore recovered from his wound in Edinburg, south of Winchester. In November 1861, when he learned that his former brigade commander was establishing the headquarters of his Valley District, Department of Northern Virginia, in Winchester, the absentee owner of “Alta Vista” offered his home for Jackson’s use. The Major General now known as Stonewall accepted. He had been staying at the Taylor Hotel – partially owned by Moore – in the center of town, and he found it too crowded and conspicuous for his needs. Moore’s home on Braddock Street would serve as Jackson’s headquarters in Winchester until the Confederates evacuated on March 11, 1862.

Jackson left a vivid account of “Alta Vista” in a letter to his wife, Anna:

“This house belongs to Lieutenant-Colonel Moore, of the Fourth Virginia Volunteers, and has a large yard around it. The situation is beautiful. The building is of cottage style and contains six rooms. I have two rooms, one above the other. My lower room, or office, has a matting on the floor, a large fine table, six chairs, and a piano. The walls are papered with elegant gilt paper. I don’t remember to have ever seen more beautiful papering, and there are five paintings hanging on the walls. If I only had my little woman here, the room would be set off. The upper room is neat, but not a full story, and is, I may say, only remarkable for being heated in a peculiar manner, by a flue from the office below.”

Jackson’s staff slept in the bedroom across the hall from his own, but the fraternity life in the house ended, and Jackson’s office on the first floor of Moore’s home was indeed “set off.” Anna travelled from the Jackson home in Lexington via Richmond. The General met her upon her arrival at the Taylor Hotel on the evening of December 21, 1861, and took her to Alta Vista. They stayed in the house until January 1, 1862, when Jackson left on the Romney Campaign. Anna moved two doors down to the home of Reverend and Mrs. James Graham. When Jackson returned to Winchester, he and his wife stayed with the Grahams. Anna became pregnant in February, and their daughter Julia was born the following November.

Lewis T. Moore returned to his home at 415 North Braddock St. He married Mary Bragonier, a woman nearly 30 years his junior, in 1867, and they had five children. Moore, who was known to all as “Colonel”, built a large practice consisting of primarily lower income clients. He was active in the Hiram Masonic Lodge and the Confederate Veterans’ Ashby Camp. He lived at “Alta Vista” until his death, and was laid to rest in Winchester’s Hebron Cemetery on December 31, 1897.

One of the resolutions passed by the Hiram Lodge in the Winchester News after his death read “Pure in heart, he was unsuspecting and easily deceived.” Interestingly, the only mention of Lewis T. Moore in “The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion” is in a dispatch from a Union spy, Michael Graham, to Union Major General Robert Milroy in May 1863. While describing Moore as a “rebel of the strongest dye”, the spy noted, “he has great confidence in me, and thinks I am a rebel at heart, as I pretended to be once in his presence.” The information Graham had gleaned from Moore stated that Lt. General James Longstreet’s corps had reinforced the Army of Northern Virginia, and General Robert E. Lee intended to move north into Maryland.

Today Alta Vista is owned by the City of Winchester, managed by the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society, and maintained as a museum. The heating ducts from Jackson’s office to his bedroom are still there. The gilt wallpaper that Jackson so admired in his office has been twice reproduced and hung on the walls, most recently courtesy of “Colonel” Moore’s great-granddaughter, the actress Mary Tyler Moore.

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Thanks to Mr. Jerry Holsworth of the Handley Regional Library, Ms. Cissy Shull of the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society, and Mr. Ben Ritter for their assistance.





New Orleans Visit – Metairie Cemetery

4 09 2016

My wife’s second and last Civil War concession during our recent visit to the Crescent City, Metairie Cemetery proved a little frustrating. After taking the Canal Street trolley to its terminus, we de-streetcarred in an area surrounded by cemeteries (that’s why, when you are looking for which streetcar to board, you look for the one that says “Cemeteries” – $3 for a 24 hour ticket).

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You’ll have to walk about a quarter-mile or so from the streetcar stop to the cemetery’s pedestrian entrance, crossing Metairie Road and passing under I-10 in the process. This gets you to the entrance, which is very near the Civil War related “attractions” in the cemetery. Sounds simple, and it is – if the pedestrian entrance isn’t padlocked. Which, of course, it was. So, we walked a long way, maybe half a mile, up Metairie Rd looking for another entrance, and we struck out. We walked back to the entrance and checked out the option of paralleling I-10 to another entrance, but you can’t walk there. About ready to give up and head back to the streetcar, the wife called the cemetery office and about 20 minutes later a volunteer came to pick us up and take us to the main office at the north end of the cemetery. There we picked up maps (they have one geared for Civil War personalities) and set off. Of course, all the Civil War sites are in the older part of the cemetery, which is at the south end near the pedestrian entrance. The kind woman in the office told us she would have maintenance open the gate, so we would have a relatively short walk to the streetcar afterwards. Needless to say, my Fitbit was working overtime and I finished the day with over 10 miles walked, including a walk to the Superdome and a return trip to Bourbon Street.

Here are the photos. I apologize for being unable to find John Bell Hood’s grave. Also note that there are plenty of other famous folks buried here, like Al Hirt, Louis Prima, Mel Ott, the founders of Popeye’s Chicken and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and many more. Click on the images for bigger ones. Keep an eye out for the Easter Egg!

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Pedestrian Entrance

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Pedestrian Entrance near Army of Tennessee Memorial – Albert Sidney Johnston’s statue is visible from I-10 as you enter the city from the airport

The Washington Artillery

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The monument is inscribed with the unit’s battle honors, which include both world wars and Operation Iraqi Freedom – today it is the 141st Field Artillery Regiment

If true, very sad.

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Army of Northern Virginia

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Yes, that is Stonewall. Why? Why not!

General Richard Taylor

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Army of Tennessee Tumulus

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That is Albert Sidney Johnston atop the tomb.

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There are 48 members of the Army of Tennessee buried in the tumulus, including P. G. T. Beauregard, who jointly, solely, or subordinately commanded the Confederate forces at First Bull Run

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This Confederate officer is reading the Roll of the Dead

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this three-part travelogue. I hope some day to get back to New Orleans to see more of the sights, Civil War and otherwise. But maybe when it’s not so hot.

Lee Circle

Confederate Memorial Hall





Dr. Hunter McGuire on Brig. Gen. T. J. Jackson’s Wound

1 05 2016

A Reminiscence of Stonewall Jackson – His Wound at the Battle of Manassas

In the February number of the Richmond Medical Journal, we find an able paper on “gunshot wounds of joints,” from the pen of Dr. Hunter McGuire, Professor of Surgery in the Virginia Medical College, and, during the war, chief surgeon on the staff of General Stonewall Jackson. In the course of his remarks, speaking of gunshot wounds of the hands, the Doctor cites the case of the wound received by his renowned Chief at the first battle of Manassas. The Doctor writes:

When he made the celebrated charge with his brigade, which turned the fortune of the day, he raised his left hand above his head to encourage the troops, and, while in this position, the middle finger of the hand was struck just below the articulation between the first and second phalanges. The ball struck the finger a little to one side, broke it, and carried of a small piece of the bone. He remained upon the field, wounded as he was, till the fight was over, and then wanted to take part in the pursuit, but was peremptorily ordered back to the hospital by the General commanding. On his way to the rear, the wound pained him so much that he stopped at the first hospital he came to, and the surgeon there proposed to cut the finger off; but while the Doctor looked for his instruments, and for a moment turned his back, the General silently mounted his horse, rode off, and soon afterwards found me. I was busily engaged with the wounded, but when I saw him coming, I left them, and asked him if he was seriously hurt. “No,” he answered, “not half as badly as many here, and I will wait.” And he forthwith sat down on the bank of a little stream near by, and positively declined any assistance until “his turn came!” We compromised, however, and he agreed to let me attend to him after I had finished the case I was dressing when he arrived. I determined to save the finger, if possible, and placed a splint along the palmar surface to support the fragments, retained it in position by a strip or two of adhesive plaster, covered the sound with lint, and told him to keep it wet with cold water. He carefully followed this advice. I think he had a fancy for this type of hydropathick treatment, and I have frequently seen him occupied for several hours pouring cup after cup of water over his hand, with that patience and perseverance for which he was so remarkable. Passive motion was instituted about the twentieth day, and carefully continued. The motion of the joint improved for months after the wound had healed, and, in the end, the deformity was very trifling.

During the treatment, the hand was kept elevated and confined in a sling, and when the use of this was discontinued, and the hand permitted to hang down, there was, of course, gravitation of blood towards it. Under the circumstances you would expect this. In consequence of it, however, the hand was sometimes swollen and painful, and, to remedy this, he often held it above his head for some moments. He did this so frequently that it became at length a habit, and was continued, especially when he was abstracted, after all necessity for it had ceased. I have seen it stated somewhere that whenever, during a battle, his had was thus raised, he was engaged in prayer; but I think the explanation I have given is the correct one. I believe he was the truest and most consistent Christian I have ever known, but I don’t believe he prayed much while he was fighting.

Richmond Examiner, 1/31/1866

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Contributed by John Hennessy