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The Story of a Confederate Boy in the Civil War:

David Emmons Johnston

Of Giles County, Virginia

 1845 -1917


 Text scanned (OCR) by Jessica Mathewson
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First edition, 1998.
ca. 500K
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1998.  

The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-CH digitization project, Documenting the American South, or, The Southern Experience in 19th-century America.
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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 19th edition, 1996

Portraits contained in Book

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David E. Johnston, 16 years old, in Confederate uniform and off for the war

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Captain Robert H. Bane

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Captain James H. French

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Lieutenant Elisha M. Stone

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Lieutenant Eustace Gibson

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Lieutenant John W. Mullins

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Corporal Jesse B. Young

Lieutenant Thomas S. Taylor

Rev. J. Tyler Frazie

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David E. Johnston, Brigadier-General, Confederate Veterans, and David E. J. Wilson, Captain and Aide-de-Camp


        Some twenty-eight years ago I wrote and published a small book recounting my personal experiences in the Civil War, but this book is long out of print, and the publication exhausted. At the urgent request of some of my old comrades who still survive, and of friends and my own family, I have undertaken the task of rewriting and publishing this story.

        As stated in the preface to the former volume, the principal object of this work is to record, largely from memory, and after the lapse of many years (now nearly half a century) since the termination of the war between the states of the Federal Union, the history, conduct, character and deeds of the men who composed Company D, Seventh regiment of Virginia infantry, and the part they bore in that memorable conflict.

        The chief motive which inspires this undertaking is to give some meager idea of the Confederate soldier in the ranks, and of his individual deeds of heroism, particularly of that patriotic, self-sacrificing, brave company of men with whose fortunes and destiny my own were linked for four long years of blood and carnage, and to whom during that period I was bound by ties stronger than hooks of steel; whose confidence and friendship I fully shared, and as fully reciprocated.

        To the surviving members of that company, to the widows and children, broken-hearted mothers, and to gray-haired, disconsolate fathers (if such still live) of those who fell amidst the battle and beneath its thunders, or perished from wounds or disease, this work is dedicated. The character of the men who composed that company, and their deeds of valor and heroism, will ever live, and in the hearts of our people will be enshrined the names of the gallant dead as well as of the living, as the champions of constitutional liberty. They will be held in grateful remembrance by their own countrymen, appreciated and recognized by all people of all lands, who admire brave deeds, true courage, and devotion of American soldiers to cause and country.

        For some of the dates and material I am indebted to comrades. I also found considerable information from letters written by myself during the war to a friend, not in the army, and not subject to military duty, on account of sex; who, as I write, sits by me, having now (February, 1914), for a period of more than forty-six years been the sharer of my joys, burdens and sorrows; whose only brother, George Daniel Pearis, a boy of seventeen years, and a member of Bryan's Virginia battery, fell mortally wounded in the battle of Cloyd's Farm, May 9, 1864.


Portland, Oregon, May, 1914.


        The author of this book is my neighbor. He was a Confederate, and I a Union soldier. Virginia born, he worked hard in youth. A country lawyer, a member of the Senate of West Virginia, Representative in Congress, and Circuit Judge, his life has been one of activity and achievement. Blessed with a face and manner which disarm suspicion, inspire confidence and good will, he makes new friends, and retains old ones.

        Judge Johnston (having through life practiced the virtues of a good Baptist), is, therefore, morally sound to the core. He has succeeded, not by luck or chance, but because of what he is. Withal, he has cultivated the faculty for hard work; in fact, through life he has liked nothing so well as hard work.

        A vast good nature, running easily into jocular talk, with interesting stories, in which he excels. he is able to meet every kind of man in every rank of society, catching with unerring instinct the temper of every individual and company where he is.

        He is thoroughly American, and though having traveled extensively in Europe and the East, he is not spoiled with aping foreigners, nor "rattled" by their frivolous accomplishments. He is likewise an experienced writer, being the author of the history of "Middle New River Settlements, and Contiguous Territory," in Virginia and West Virginia, a work of great value, which cost the author years of persistent research.

        This volume, "The Story of a Confederate Boy," is written from the heart, with all his might, and all his honesty, and is characterized throughout by fertility, sympathy, and magnanimity, in recording his own personal experiences, and what he saw.


Portland, Oregon.


  • I. Pre-election Statement as to Mr. Lincoln. - The Presidential Election in November, 1860. - Fear and Anxiety. - At School with Rev. J. W. Bennett in Winter 1860 and Spring 1861. - Debating Society. - Some Recollections of Colonel Chambers and Others. - Strong State Rights Ideas. - Desire to Become a Soldier. - The Anticipation and the Reality. - Return Home. - War Talk and Feeling . . . 1

  • II. Giles County, Its Formation and Early Settlers. - Its Geographical Position, Topography and Population in 1860. - State of Political Parties. - Election of Delegate to the Convention . . . 9

  • III. What Will Not Be Attempted Herein. - How the Southern People Viewed the Situation. - Virginia as a Peacemaker. - The Peace Conference and Its Failure. - Geographical, Territorial Position. - Assembling of the Convention and Its Action. - Mr. Lincoln's Attitude and Call for Troops. - Adoption of the Ordinance of Secession. - Preparations for Defense . . . 15

  • IV. Organization of Volunteer Forces. - Giles Not Behind Her Sister Counties. - A Company Organized at Pearisburg with James H. French as Captain; Eustace Gibson, First Lieutenant; William A. Anderson, Second Lieutenant; Joel Blackard, Second Junior Lieutenant, and Captains James D. Johnston and R. F. Watts on the Committee to PurchasePage viii

    Uniforms, etc. - The Ladies of the Town and Country. - In Barracks and on Drill. - Anecdote. - Dixie. - Our March to Wolf Creek. - Presentation of Bible and Flag . . . 25

  • V. The Election for the Ratification of the Ordinance of Secession Was Held on the Fourth Thursday of May - the 23rd. On that Day Members of the House of Delegates, and Perhaps Other Officers, Were to Be Elected. - Our Departure. - Lynchburg and to Manassas Junction . . . 39

  • VI. Stay at the Junction. - Organization of 24th Regiment as Afterwards Completed. - March to Camp Davis Ford. - First Night on Picket. - Alarm. - March to the Town of Occoquan and Back Again. - A War of Words. - Serious Fight Imminent. - Leaving the 24th Regiment. - Camp Tick Grove and a Personal Difference. - A More Perfect Union. - Camp Wigfall. - Blondeau's Shot. - How We Cooked, Ate and Slept. - Shannon's Bob. - Rumors Afloat of Pending Battle. - Three Days' Rations Cooked . . . 47

  • VII. - Breaking Camp at Wigfall. - The March to the Battlefield. - General Beauregard and His Appearance and Advice. - First Cannon Shot. - Battle of Bull Run - The Advance. - The Charge. - The Wounded. - Isaac Hare and John Q. Martin. - Retreat of the Enemy. - Severe Artillery Duel. - The Dutchman and His Chunk of Fat Bacon. - Casualties . . . 61

  • VIII. Night's Experience on Our First Battlefield. - The Dead and Cries of the Wounded. - Occurrences on the Field. - Sunday, July 21. - Shelled by the Enemy. - March to the Field by the Sound of Battle. - The Battle. -Page ix

    Casualties. - The Pursuit. - To the Outposts. - Incidents. - Winter at Centerville . . . 69

  • IX. Our Daily Duties. - In Camp. - Among the Last Rencounters. - Lieutenant Gibson, Corporal Stone and Others Hold a Council of War and Determine to Advance and Drive McClellan from Arlington Heights. - March to the Outposts. - Graybacks. - Religious Exercises. - Incidents of Camp. - Depletion of the Army. - Re-enlistments and Furloughs. - Retreat from Manassas Behind the Rappahannock. - Albert and Snidow. - Gordonsville . . . 83

  • X. The Stay Near Gordonsville. - The March to Richmond and Journey to Yorktown. - In the Trenches. - Skirmishing and Night Alarms. - Reorganization. - The Retreat from Yorktown. - The Old Lady's Prayer. - Battle of Williamsburg. - The Killed and Wounded. - Forces and Numbers Engaged and Losses. - Retreat Up the Peninsula. - Battle of Seven Pines. - Casualties . . . 93

  • XI. Preparations for Active Field Service. - Dress Parade and Speeches of General Kemper and Colonel Patton. - Battles Around Richmond. - Gaines' Mill or Cold Harbor. - Frazier's Farm and Malvern Hill. - Testing a Man's Courage. - Casualties. - In Pursuit of the Enemy. - In Camp Near the Chickahominy. - Sickness and Death. - Threatening Attitude of the Enemy in Northern Virginia. - Concentration of the Confederate Army on the Rappahannock. - Pope's Bravado. - Lieutenant Hugh M. Patton Succeeds Stark as Adjutant, and Sergeant Parke Appointed Sergeant-Major, Succeeding George S. Tansill . . . 107 Page x

  • XII. General Jackson With His "Foot Cavalry." - On the Flank and in the Rear of General Pope's Army. - Longstreet's Division Diverting the Enemy's Attention on the Rappahannock. - March Through Thoroughfare Gap. - Haymarket to the Relief of Jackson's Men. - The Fight on the 29th. - Battle of August 30, 1862. - Kemper Commands Division, Corse Leads the Brigade. - Pope Defeated. - Casualties. - Rainstorm and March Through Leesburg to White's Ford. - Crossing the Potomac. - The Cry "Back to Washington" and not "On to Richmond." - "Maryland, My Maryland," "Bonnie Blue Flag." - Halt at Monacacy Bridge . . . 123

  • XIII. A Soldier's Equipment. - Washing His Clothes. - How He Ate and Slept. - March Through Frederick. - Middletown. - Hagerstown. - A Soldier in Active Service in the Field. - What He Possesses. - Indications of Southern Sympathy. - The Return from Hagerstown. - Battle of Boonsboro and Casualties. - Retreat to Sharpsburg . . . 135

  • XIV. Number of Men for Action in Kemper's Brigade. - General D. R. Jones' Division. - Confederate Cavalry. - General Lee Playing Bluff with McClellan. - The Opening of the Battle. - Burnside's Attack and Repulse. - Casualties. - Re-crossing the Potomac . . . 145

  • XV. From Winchester to Culpeper. - Reorganization of the Army. - What Happened at Culpeper. - To Fredericksburg and Battle There. - In Winter Quarters. - Incidents of the Camp . . . 163

  • XVI. Leaving Camp. - March Through Spottsylvania. - Louisa. - Hanover, Petersburg. - First North Carolina Campaign. - Heavy Snowfall and Battle. - Accident to AndersonPage xi

    Meadows Near Chester. - Camp Near Petersburg. - Gardner Exchanges Hats. - Lieutenant Stone in a Box. - To Weldon, Goldsboro and Kinston. - At Suffolk, Virginia; Return via Petersburg, Chester, Richmond, to Taylorsville. - John, the Drummer Boy. - Professor Hughes, Frank Burrows, and Others. - Across the Pamunky, Return and to Culpeper . . . 177

  • XVII. Pennsylvania Campaign of July, 1863. - Culpeper and Snicker's Gap. - Fording the Potomac. - Shooting a Deserter. - Pennsylvania Invaded. - Chambersburg. - My Dream. - Willoughby Run. - Roll Call . . . 191

  • XVIII. Finishing Roll Call. - March to the Field. - Inspection of Arms. - Fearful Artillery Duel. - The Charge. - Killed and Wounded. - Army Retires. - Crosses the Potomac . . . 199

  • XIX. Sketches and Incidents While a Wounded Prisoner. - How Long in the Field Hospital. - The Walk to Gettysburg and Kindness Shown Me By a Federal Captain. - In Box Cars and Ride to Baltimore. - What Occurred in Baltimore. - To Chester, Pa. - Dr. Schafer and Another. - Paroled and Back to Dixie . . . 221

  • XX. Return to My Command. - Long Stay at Taylorsville in November and December, 1863, and Part of January, 1864. - Dr. Blackwell's Address. - Our Second North Carolina Campaign. - General and Mrs. Pickett and Baby George. - Back in Virginia. - The Advance to Newbern. - Capture and Execution of Deserters. - In Camp at Goldsboro. - Shooting a Confederate Deserter. - The Shoemaker's Letter. - Wilmington and Mouth of Cape Fear. - Return and to Tarboro. - The Capture of Plymouth, N.C. -Page xii

    To Washington and Newbern. - Return to Virginia . . . 231

  • XXI. Battle of Dreury's Bluff. - The Forces Engaged. - Casualties. - The Pursuit of General Butler's Troops. - Bombardment at Howlett's House. - The Wounding of Lieutenant John W. Mullins. - His Death. - Withdrawal from Howlett's House . . . 247

  • XXII. To Richmond. - Captured Flags. - Affair at Milford. - Tom Yowell's Yarn. - Hanover Junction. - North Anna. - Cold Harbor. - John A. Hale and His Prisoner. - Malvern Hill . . . 259

  • XXIII. From Malvern Hill to the South of the James. - Engagement at Clay's House. - Bermuda Hundred Line. - Christmas Dinner. - Our Southern Women. - Close of 1864 . . . 267

  • XXIV. Religion in the Army. - Doctors Pryor, Fontaine, Stiles. - General Pendleton. - Young Men's Christian Association. - Frazier, our Preaching-Fighting Chaplain . . . 285

  • XXV. From January, 1865, to Close of Battle of Five Forks. - Gloomy Outlook at the Opening of the Year. - The Peace Commissioners. - Spirit of the Army. - A. L. Fry as Regimental Clerk and Historian. - Trouble in Company D. - Activity Within the Federal Lines. - General Pendleton's Speech. - Early's Small Force Defeated at Waynesboro. - Sheridan's Raid . . . 297

  • XXVI. South of the James. - Battles of Dinwiddie and Five Forks . . . 307

  • XXVII. The Retreat. - Battle of Sailor's Creek. - Captured . . . 321Page xiii

  • XXVIII. To Prison at Point Lookout, Maryland. - Prison Life. - Release. - Home . . . 335

  • XXIX. The Conclusion. - War Ends. - The Return to Civil Pursuits. - The Confederate Soldier . . . 349

Portraits  (Shown above)

  • David E. Johnston, 16 years old, in Confederate uniform and off for the war . . . Frontispiece

  • Captain James H. French . . . 32

  • Lieutenant Eustace Gibson . . . 64

  • Captain Robert H. Bane . . . 80

  • Lieutenant Elisha M. Stone . . . 112

  • Lieutenant John W. Mullins . . . 144

  • Corporal Jesse B. Young . . . 208

  • Lieutenant Thomas S. Taylor . . . 240

  • Rev. J. Tyler Frazier . . . 272

  • David E. Johnston, Brigadier-General, Confederate Veterans, and David E. J. Wilson, Captain and Aide-de-Camp . . . 304

Chapter I

  • Pre-election Statement as to Mr. Lincoln.

  • The Presidential Election in November, 1860.

  • Fear and Anxiety.

  • At School with Rev. J. W. Bennett, in Winter 1860 and Spring 1861.

  • Debating Society.

  • Some Recollections of Colonel Chambers and Others.

  • Strong State Rights Ideas.

  • Desire to Become a Soldier.

  • The Anticipation and the Reality.

  • Return Home.

  • War Talk and Feeling.


            AS A BOY, but little more than fifteen years of age, I heard and learned much of the pre-election news, as well as read newspapers, by which I was impressed with the thought that Mr. Lincoln was a very homely, ugly man, was not at all prepossessing, some of the newspapers caricaturing him as the "Illinois Ape," "Vulgar Joker of Small Caliber," and much other of the same kind of silly rubbish was said and published. Some of the negroes inquired if he was sure enough a black man. They had heard him spoken of as a "Black Republican."

       At the election in November, 1860, Mr. Lincoln, the Abolition-Republican candidate, was chosen President, which caused great anxiety and alarm throughout the Southern states - in fact, in other parts of the country. This fear was intensified later by Mr. Lincoln's utterances in his inaugural address, of which more will be said in later chapter.

        Late in the Fall of 1860, and in the early Spring of 1861, I was at school on Brush Creek, in the County of Monroe, Virginia, under the preceptorship of Rev. James W. Bennett, a ripe scholar and genial Christian gentleman. I do not think I progressed as rapidly as I might, most probably on account of some things that tended to distract my attention from my studies. Toward the ending of the school there was much talk about secession and war; in fact, it was the theme of every-day conversation. Even the boys in the school talked learnedly about the questions, and were divided in opinion much in the same proportion as their fathers, guardians and neighbors.

        As day after day passed and something new was constantly happening, the feeling and excitement became more intense. As the war clouds began to arise and seemingly to overshadow us, the mutterings of the distant thunder could be heard in the angry words of debate and discussion in the councils of the country, and at home among the extreme advocates of secession on the one hand, and those holding extreme views opposed to the principle and policy of secession on the other. This was not confined to the men alone, but, as before stated, the schoolboys were would-be statesmen, and in Mr. Bennett's school organized a debating society, in which was most frequently discussed the question, "Shall Virginia Secede from the Union?" - the question being generally decided in the negative.

        The meetings of the society were frequently attended by some of the men of the neighborhood, and among them were Col. William Chambers, Major Arnett, and Captain Shue. Colonel Chambers was a fierce, bold, determined, and uncompromising Union man, opposed to secession in any and every form or name in which it could be presented, while Major Arnett and Captain Shue were much of the same way of thinking, but more conservative in their utterances. These men and others frequently took part in the debate and sometimes sat as judges.

        When I took part in the discussion it was generally on the affirmative, in favor of secession, my sentiments and convictions leading me in that direction, though as a matter of fact my ideas were very crude, as I knew little of the matter, not having at that time attained my sixteenth year. I had only caught from my uncle, Chapman I. Johnston, who had been educated and trained in the State Rights school of politics, some faint ideas of the questions involved in the threatened rupture.

        Naturally following my early impressions, I became and was a strong believer in and an advocate of State Rights, and secession, without fair comprehension of what was really meant by the terms. My youthful mind was inspired by the thought that I lived in the South, among a southern people in thought, feeling and sentiment, that their interests were my interests, their assailants and aggressors were equally mine, their country my country, - a land on which fell the rays of a southern sun, and that the dews which moistened the graves of my ancestors fell from a southern sky; and not only this, but the patriotic songs, and the thought of becoming a soldier, with uniform and bright buttons, marching to the sound of martial music, a journey to Richmond, all animated and enthused me and had the greatest tendency to induce and influence me to become a soldier. Grand anticipations! Fearful reality!

        When thinking of this, I am reminded of the story of Bill Douthat of our Company, who, after trying the realities of war and soldier life for a part of one year, returned home, and being strictly inquired of as to what war was, what it meant, or how he liked it, answered, "Well, gentlemen, I have seen the elephant; don't want to see him anymore." And after having tried it, I think I can truthfully say that Bill expressed fully our views on the subject.

        Leaving school about the last days of March or the first days of April, I returned to my uncle's house.

       Although Virginia had not yet seceded, there was an abundance of war talk, and some of the people were rapidly coming to the conclusion that war was inevitable and that the only way the controversy could or would be settled was by resort to arms, an appeal to the King of Battles, - a submission to the arbitrament of the sword.

        Volunteer military organizations already existed in various parts of the state; perhaps there was scarcely a county or city in the Commonwealth that did not have at least one organized volunteer company.

        Many overzealous persons declared their purpose to unite their fortunes with the states which had already seceded, whatever the course of Virginia might be, and many of these zealots were so much afraid that there would be no war, or none in Virginia, that they hurried south; however, the ardor of at least some of them became somewhat frigid as the war became flagrant, until it is believed it fell below the freezing point, and some of them going over to the enemy; helped stir up the strife, then ran away, and let the other fellows do the fighting.

Chapter II

  • Giles County, its Formation and Early Settlers.

  • Its Geographical Position, Topography and Population in 1860.

  • State of Political Parties.

  • Election of Delegate to the Convention.

        GILES COUNTY, named for Hon. William B. Giles, once Governor of Virginia, was created in 1806 out of the territory of Montgomery, Tazewell, and Monroe counties; the county town or seat of justice, Pearisburg, being named in honor of Col. George Pearis, a soldier of the American Revolution, who donated to the county the land on which the town is located. Colonel Pearis was a descendent of a French Hugenot, and was born in the State of South Carolina, February 16, 1746. In a battle with the Tories at Shallow Ford of the Yadkin, North Carolina, on the 14th day of October, 1780, he was wounded in the shoulder, which disabled him for further military service, and on reaching Virginia sought shelter with some relations on the New River, at a place since known as Pepper's Ferry.

        The settlement of what is now the territory of Giles County began at a period anterior to the American Revolution, perhaps as early as 1755, if not a few years before that date. Among the early settlers of Giles County were the Lybrooks, Snidows, Harmans, Halls, Napiers, McComas', Clays, Pearis', Peters,' Hales, McKenseys, Chapmans, Frenches, Johnstons, Shumates, Hatfields, Adkins', Hares, Pecks, Hughes', Wilburns, Shannons, and Banes, who were of Scot-Irish, German, Hugenot and English blood, many of them suffering much from Indian incursions.

        The population of this county, in 1860, was 6816, of whom 6038 were free white persons. The county is situate in the midst of the great Appalachian chain or range of mountains, distant from Richmond some three hundred miles. Its length, thirty, by a mean width of twenty miles. New River flows through it in a northwest direction, the chief tributaries of which, in Giles County, are the Sinking, Walker's, Wolf, Big Stony, and Little Stony creeks. Its principal mountains, Walker's, Sugar Run, Angel's Rest, Wolf Creek, East River, Peters' and Salt Pond, which are high, rugged, and precipitous. The streams are rapid, and the surface of the country, other than the river and creek bottoms, generally rough and broken, but the soil rich and fertile. The population in 1861 was made up of sturdy, liberty-loving, hardy mountaineers, engaged chiefly in agricultural pursuits, where brave men are bred, accustomed to the chase and the use of firearms, which fitted them for the hardships and privations of soldier life.

        Politically, in 1860 and the early part of 1861, the county was fairly evenly divided between the democratic and whig parties, with perhaps a slight preponderance in favor of the democrats, the great body of whom, with the State Rights whigs, being intensely southern in character, but opposed to extreme measures, or hasty action.

        In January, 1861, the legislature ordered an election for delegates to a convention to consider the critical condition of the country, said election to be held on the 4th day of February, at which in Giles County Mr. Manilius Chapman was elected over Mr. Charles D. Peck by a small majority. The convention assembled in Richmond on the 13th of February, of which more hereafter.

Chapter III

  • What Will Not Be Attempted Herein.

  • How the Southern People Viewed the Situation.

  • Virginia as Peace Maker.

  • The Peace Conference and Its Failure.

  • Geographical, Territorial Position.

  • Assembling of the Convention and Its Action.

  • Mr. Lincoln's Attitude and Call for Troops.

  • Adoption of the Ordinance of Secession.

  • Preparations for Defense.



IT IS not herein attempted to record the causes which led to the withdrawal of the Southern States from the Federal Compact of Union framed by the Deputies of twelve of the Thirteen Original States, in the City of Philadelphia on the 17th day of September, 1787, afterwards acceded to and ratified by the states acting by and through conventions of the sovereign people of the states entering into and forming the Compact. Neither will it be discussed whether Secession is a violation of the Constitution, nor whether it is or is not prohibited to the states and no power granted or delegated to the Federal agent to prevent it. It seems no longer a practical question, hence no good purpose could be subserved by a discussion thereof. Some of the arguments, however, of the Southern people are reproduced to show how they viewed the question at the period of which I am writing, - especially what Virginia people said and thought on the subject.

        In his inaugural address, Mr. Lincoln had declared his purpose to repossess the forts which had been seized by troops of the seceded states, reading to the Virginia Commissioners on April 13th a paper setting forth his views declaring his purpose to coerce the seceded States. By the Southern people this declaration by Mr. Lincoln was construed as a purpose to wage immediate war of subjugation against the South; in fact, no other meaning could be given to what he said.

        Many of the Southern states did not want to leave the Union, abhorred war, and especially was this true of Virginia. She therefore hesitated before taking the step which was to separate her from that Union she had contributed so much to create. Virginia, therefore, made overtures to the government at Washington for an amicable and peaceful solution of the questions agitating the country, which, if not adjusted, would soon plunge the nation into the dreadful war to which we were rapidly drifting. Virginia took the lead in the matter of pacification, by a resolution of her legislature passed early in the month of January, 1861, recommending each of the states to appoint commissioners to a convention, the object of which should be "to adjust the present unhappy contro-versies." This proposition met the approval of President Buchanan. Most of the states, save those which had then seceded, responded by appointing delegates. In pursuance of this call, the convention met in Washington, February 4, 1861, choosing John Tyler of Virginia, chairman of the convention. After some three weeks' deliberation, this "Peace Congress" submitted a number of propositions, amendments to the Constitution. These propositions, together with most, if not all overtures, came to naught, were rejected by the congress and the party then in control of affairs at Washington.

        On December 20th the State of South Carolina had seceded from the Union, affirming and claiming that she, with her sister Southern states, could no longer live on equal terms and in peace in that Union and under that Constitution which many of the Northern states did not hesitate to violate whenever it suited their interests; and further insisting that there had been a powerful party organized in the North, upon principles of ambition and fanaticism, whose purpose was to divert the Federal Government from the external, and turn its power upon the internal interests and domestic institutions of the Southern states; that they had thus in the Northern states a party whose avowed object not only threatened the peace but the existence of nearly one-half of the states of the Republic; that this same party in the North proposed to inaugurate a president, at the head of the Army and Navy, with vast powers, not to preside over the common interests and destinies of all the states alike, but upon partisan issues of avowed hostility, with relentless war to be waged upon the rights and peace of half the states of the Union.

        This is but a faint picture of what awaited the Southern states, as they saw it, upon the coming into power of a sectional party, with Mr. Lincoln as chief magistrate, whose inaugural address clearly foreshadowed war.

        After repeated demands made by South Carolina, and after several ineffectual attempts by negotiation for the surrender of Fort Sumter, and a Federal fleet had sailed and was then off the harbor of Charleston, for the reinforcing and provisioning of the garrison, it is claimed that treachery and duplicity of the Federal government had been used to deceive the state authorities of South Carolina as to the surrender of the fort.

        It was therefore decided to reduce the fort; hence, on the 12th day of April, 1861, the bombardment commenced, the news of which fired the Northern heart, notwithstanding the well known principle that it is not always he who strikes the first blow that is the aggressor, but he who by his conduct or act forces that blow to be given. However, the shot had been fired which aroused the whole country to the highest pitch of excitement, with seemingly no way to allay it. The war was on.

        Let us return to the Virginia convention which assembled in Richmond February 13th. These were momentous days. This historic body, composed of the ablest and best men from the Commonwealth of Virginia, carefully considered the grave issues involved, the fearful consequences of civil strife. Upon the best authority, it is averred that two-thirds of the men composing this convention were opposed to secession, and preferred to remain in the Union.

        A committee on Federal Relations was appointed, which, on the 10th day of March, reported fourteen resolutions, as follows: protesting against all interference with slavery; declaring secession to be a right; defining the grounds on which Virginia would feel herself to be justified in exercising that right, namely: the failure to obtain guarantees; the adoption of a warlike policy by the government of the United States, or to reinforce, or recapture the Southern forts. These resolves clearly defined the attitude of Virginia at this critical moment. After serious discussion pro and con, all but the last of these resolves had passed the convention, when the news was received that the bombardment of Fort Sumter had begun.

        Virginia was still for peace and the Union, endeavoring by every means within her power to avert the awful calamity of civil war. Her territorial limits were extensive, reaching from the northeast point of North Carolina northwestward nearly five hundred miles to a point within about one hundred miles of Lake Erie, practically separating the eastern from the western states of the Union; hence her geographical position entitled her to and gave her great power and influence toward a settlement of the impending trouble. It was then claimed, - which was no doubt true, - that the Federal Administration was anxious to see her shorn of her power, which in a measure was accomplished by her dismemberment, by the formation of West Virginia out of her territory, and this by the aid of the Federal power.

        Virginia's son was foremost in fanning the flames of revolution, leading to the overthrow of British tyranny and the establishment of American independence. Her son had written the Declaration of Independence. Her son had led the Continental armies during the Revolution, and her son was active in the framing and ratification of the Federal Constitution. Virginia had been among the first to suggest and to assist in creating the compact of union.

        To the Confederated states and in the spirit of patriotism and confidence in the continuance of good will, she had given to the Union her northwest territory, an empire within itself, out of which six or more states have been formed. She had furnished seven presidents to the Republic.

        It was on the 15th day of April that Mr. Lincoln issued his call for seventy-five thousand troops. Virginia's quota, 2400, were to rendezvous at points in Virginia, thus placing armed soldiers in her territory, though still in the Union, her convention a few days previous having refused to secede by a vote of 89 to 45. This act of Mr. Lincoln was construed by our people as an act of war, and without authority, that power being vested in Congress alone.

        Thus it will be seen that all the efforts made by Virginia to preserve the Union and peace had been defeated, Mr. Lincoln having pronounced secession unlawful and void. Virginia was a Southern state, in sympathy with her sister states of the South, and could not be induced to make war on them, nor on the Northern states of the Union. The conduct of the Federal Administration had not only forced her out of the Union, but to take sides in the impending crisis. It was not a Southern Confederacy that Virginia sought or her people fought for, but to uphold and maintain the integrity and sovereignty of the state, and this necessarily meant separate government. I am sure at no time did the people of Virginia think of becoming the aggressors upon the rights of the other states of the Federal Union.

        The issue was, therefore, squarely presented. Virginia must decide on which side she would stand. "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve," was the alternative. There was no middle ground, no neutral position, no evading the issue. Against her persistent attachment to the Union, the strongest appeals and bitterest denunciations, Virginia remained unmoved.

        When her voice and her pleadings were no longer heard, the news of the bombardment of Fort Sumter, and Mr. Lincoln's call for troops, reached the convention, the supreme moment had come. The die was cast. There could be no further hesitation. On April 17th the Ordinance of Secession, amid anguish and tears, was adopted by a vote of 81 to 51.

        The call for troops by the President brought an immediate change in the current of public opinion in Virginia from the mountains to the sea.

        The Ordinance of Secession was ratified by the people on the 23d day of May by a majority of 96,750 out of a total vote of 161,018.

        Virginians having now made their decision to defend themselves and their state, hastened to arms with ardor and a determined spirit of resistance.

Chapter IV

  • Organization of Volunteer Forces.

  • Giles Not Behind Her Sister Counties.

  • A Company Organized at Pearisburg, with James H. French as Captain; Eustace Gibson, First Lieutenant; William A. Anderson, Second Lieutenant; and Joel Blackard, Second Junior Lieutenant; Captains James D. Johnston and R. F. Watts on the Committee to Purchase Uniforms, etc.

  • The Ladies of the Town and Country.

  • In Barracks and on Drill.

  • Anecdote.

  • Dixie.

  • Our March to Wolf Creek.

  • Presentation of Bible and Flag.

        ON LEARNING of the adoption of the Ordinance of Secession by the convention, the country was ablaze with the wildest excitement, and preparations for war began in earnest. Volunteer organizations of troops were forming all over the state. Why and wherefore, may be asked. Not to attack the Federal Government, to fight the Northern states, but only to defend Virginia in the event of invasion by a Northern army. There was at this time in the county, already organized and fairly drilled, the volunteer company of Capt. William Eggleston, of New River White Sulphur Springs. Pearisburg and the region roundabout in the most part received the news of the secession of the state with apparent relief and gladness, and immediately James H. French, Esq., of Pearisburg, a lawyer and staunch, bold Southern man in education, sentiment and feeling, assisted by others, commenced the enlistment of a company of volunteer infantry to serve for the period of twelve months from the date of being mustered into service, believing that war, if it should come, would not last longer than one year. Enlisting men for war was something new; people are always ready to try something new, and as our people were possessed of a martial spirit, this, together with the excitement and enthusiasm of the occasion, made it no difficult matter to enroll a full company in an incredibly short time. Names were readily obtained, among them my own. I had to go with the boys, - my neighbors and schoolmates, little thinking, or in the remotest degree anticipating, the terrible hardships and privations which would have to be endured in the four years which followed. The idea then prevalent among our people was that we were not to be absent a great while; that there would probably be no fighting; that Mr. Lincoln was not really in earnest about attempting to coerce the seceded states, and if he was, a few Southern men would suffice to put to rout the hordes of Yankeedom. If, however, the Northern people were intent upon war, our people were ready to meet them, because thoroughly aroused.

        Our people had by this time arrived at the conclusion that war was inevitable; no settlement on peaceable and honorable terms could be had. They had therefore left the Union, which seemed to them the only alternative. Consequently we felt obliged to appeal to the sword for the settlement of questions which statesmanship had failed to solve; yet always willing to make a child's bargain with the Northern people, - "You leave us alone and we will leave you alone." Extravagant utterances and speeches were made as to Southern prowess. It was even said that one Southern man could whip five Yankees; that the old women of the country with corn-cutters could drive a host of Yankees away; but the people who made these assertions knew little of what they were saying, for ere the war had long progressed we found we had our hands full, and it soon became evident that we might like to find someone to help us let go.

        The organization of the company which afterwards became Company D, 7th Virginia regiment, took place April 25, 1861. The only contest for office worth relating was for the captaincy, which was between James H. French and Andrew J. Grigsby, and resulted in the election of the former. The following is a complete roster of the company, with dates of enlistment, rank, etc., to be followed later by a tabulated statement of losses in battle, by disease, desertion, discharge, etc.:



Date of enlistment. Name. Rank.

  • 1861 - April James H. French. . . .Captain

  • 1861 - April Eustace Gibson . . . .First Lieutenant

  • 1861 - April W. A. Anderson,. . . .Sec. Lieutenant

  • 1861 - April J. Blackard,. . . .Second Jr. Lieutenant

  • 1861 - April Allen C. Pack. . . .First Sergeant

  • 1861 - April John W. Mullins,. . . .Second Sergeant

  • 1861 - April Joseph C. Hughes,. . . .Third Sergeant

  • 1861 - April Wm. D. Peters. . . .Fourth Sergeant

  • 1861 - April Hamilton J. Hale,. . . . Fifth Sergeant

  • 1861 - April Allen L. Fry. . . .First Corporal

  • 1861 - April Elisha M. Stone,. . . .Second Corporal

  • 1861 - April T. N. Mustain. . . .Third Corporal

  • 1861 - April John W. Hight. . . .Fourth Corporal

  • 1861 - April David C. Akers. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August George W. Akers. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August William R. Albert. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Daniel Bish. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Allen M. Bane. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Robert H. Bane. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Joseph E. Bane. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Jesse Barrett. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Alexander Bolton. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Travis Burton. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August William H. Carr. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August James M. Collins. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John R. Crawford. . . .Private

  • 1863 - March William Crawford. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April James B. Croy. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April James Cole. . . .Private

  • 1865 - January D. E. Dulaney. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April M. J. Dulaney. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Tim P. Darr. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John S. Dudley. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April William H. Douthat. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Thomas Davenport. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August David Davis. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Elbert S. Eaton. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Elisha D. East. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John W. East. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Joseph Eggleston. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April James H. Eggleston. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Francis H. Farley. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April William C. Fortner. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April James H. Fortner. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Jacob Tyler Frazier. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April William Frazier. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Creed D. Frazier. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April William A. French. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John S. W. French. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Andrew J. French. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April James H. Gardner. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Francis M. Gordon. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Andrew J. Grigsby. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Charles A. Hale. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John A. Hale. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John D. Hare. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Isaac Hare. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April James B. Henderson. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August John Henderson. . . .Private

  • 1861 - Mar. 1862 Baldwin L. Hoge. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April 1861 James Hughes. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April James J. Hurt. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April George W. Hurt. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John F. Jones. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Manelius S. Johnston. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August George Johnston. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April David E. Johnston. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April George Knoll. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Charles N. J. Lee. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Joseph Lewy. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Henry Lewy. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April William H. Layton. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April James Lindsey. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Patrick H. Lefler. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Anderson Meadows. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Ballard P. Meadows. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John Meadows. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Newton J. Morris. . . .Private

  • 1862 - March Christian Minnich. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April George A. Minnich. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John H. Minnich. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Absalom D. Manning. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Raleigh Merricks. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Tapley P. Mays. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John Q. Martin. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John H. Martin. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Wiley W. Muncey. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August George C. Mullins. . . .Private

  • 1862 - March James J. Nye. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John Palmer. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Charles W. Peck. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John W. Sarver. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Demarcus L. Sarver. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Josephus Southern. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Samuel B. Shannon. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Joseph C. Shannon. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April William H. H. Snidow. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April John P. Sublett. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April William T. Sublett. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Lewis R. Skeens. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Alexander Skeens. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Joseph Skeens. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Amos L. Sumner. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Thomas J. Stafford. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August William H. Stafford. . . .Private

  • 1863 - January Ralph M. Stafford. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Andrew J. Thompson. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Adam Thompson. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Alonzo Thompson. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Thomas S. L. Taylor. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Lee E. Vass. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Washington R. C. Vass. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Elijah R. Walker. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Lewis N. Wiley. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Gordon L. Wilburn. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Ballard P. Watts. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Hugh J. Wilburn. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August William I. Wilburn. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Edward Z. Yager. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Thomas J. Young. . . .Private

  • 1861 - August Isaac Young. . . .Private

  • 1861 - April Jesse B. Young. . . .Private

  • Whole number of enlisted officers and men, 122.


          Upon the company being organized, a committee was appointed by the county court to purchase uniforms and blankets. This committee, which was composed, as now recollected, of Captains James D. Johnston and R. F. Watts, acted promptly, and the materials for the uniforms were soon on hand. The ladies of the town and surrounding country went to work in earnest and with energy to make our outfits. Herculean as was the task, they accomplished it in an incredibly short time, and we soon donned our bright new clothes, with nice brass buttons, and began to think ourselves soldiers in fact. We occupied as barracks the large frame building on the southeast side of the town, the same lately owned and occupied by Capt. James D. Johnston as a residence. While here we usually had daily squad and company drill, conducted by the accomplished Captain W. W. McComas, then a practicing physician, who had been a soldier in the Mexican War, and who, after the departure of our company, raised and organized a company of which he was made captain. He fell at his post in the forefront of the battle of South Mills, North Carolina, April 19, 1862. He, like many others, died too soon for his country's good, and his friends were greatly grieved and distressed over his untimely death.

        During the period which elapsed between the organization and departure for Lynchburg, the designated place of rendezvous, and while in barracks, "the boys," as we were wont to call ourselves, played many pranks upon each other, one of which is worth relating. A sham or mock election was held for the election of a fifth Lieutenant, the choice falling on a very credulous member of the company, who, after the announcement of his election, became quite anxious to know what the duties of his office required of him, - which we, also ignorant of military duties, were unable to answer. With his consent, it was agreed to refer the solution of the matter to Lieutenant Anderson, who was always full of wit and humor, ever ready with answer, and always enjoyed a good joke. Upon the arrival of the Lieutenant, the question was promptly referred to him, and without pausing he promptly answered, "His duties are to carry water and catch fleas out of the soldiers' beds." This seemed satisfactory to the newly elected Lieutenant, and doubtless, as was afterwards demonstrated - for he always obeyed orders and did his duty - he would have proceeded to perform his prescribed duties as explained by Lieutenant Anderson, had not some one told him that it was all a joke and a sell.

        Early in May we were invited to a dinner prepared for us by the good people living at and near the mouth of Wolf Creek, whither we marched, partook of a bountiful repast, and returned to our barracks. During our stay in barracks at Pearisburg, as before stated, we were frequently drilled by Captain McComas, who attempted to teach us to keep the step and to cheer, or huzzah. The latter was no easy task, for in fact we never did learn uniformity in the "huzzah," but gradually drifted into that wild "rebel yell," as it was called, which so often sent a thrill of horror into the Yankee ranks, and the memory of which brings a cold chill over those fellows yet! "Dixie," "Bonnie Blue Flag" and other patriotic songs, sung by the choir of the company, greatly enthused us, but "Dixie" had more music in it than all others put together, and it has ever been so, even to this good day.

        As all people of all lands are more or less fond of "flag worship," it was altogether fit and proper that the company should have a suitable emblem or flag, and the women, always first in every good work, determined to present to the company a flag and a Bible. Both were soon ready, and it was determined to have a formal presentation of each. Miss Mary Woodram, now the widow of Dr. James O'Keiffe, presented the flag, and the pupils of Pearisburg Academy the Bible, which was placed in the custody of Jacob Tyler Frazier, who had been selected as chaplain, the flag being delivered to Joseph Edward Bane, the company's ensign. J. Smoot Dennis, a boy of only seven years of age, a pupil of the school, presented the Bible, in the following little speech:

        "The teachers and pupils of Pearisburg Academy beg leave to present this copy of the Holy Scriptures to our magnificent 'Mountain Boomers' as an expression of our confidence in their Christian faith and patriotism."

        To which the chaplain responded:

        "On behalf of the 'Mountain Boomers' I accept this book, knowing it to be the Word of God. I shall read it with care and diligence, and on all suitable occasions will endeavor to explain and enforce its claims. Should any of our band fall sick in camp, or be wounded on the field, then from the great treasure of its precious promises I will bring balm for the suffering, and point them to Him whose mission to earth was to bind up the broken-hearted and save that which was lost.  If the Pale Horse and his Rider should overtake any of us in a distant land, we will rest in hope of the glorious appearing of Him who is the Resurrection and the Life, and with whom we shall be gathered into that land which no foe invades, and where friends are parted no more."


Chapter V

  • The Election for the Ratification of the Ordinance of Secession Was Held on the Fourth Thursday of May, the 23d. On That Day Members of the House of Delegates, and Perhaps Other Officers Were to be Elected.

  • Our Departure.

  • Lynchburg and to Manassas Junction.

        THE total vote (1033) in Giles County was cast in favor of the ratification of the Ordinance of Secession. Captain William Eggleston was elected to the House of Delegates over Dr. John W. Easley by a majority of 234 votes. Our departure for the rendezvous was delayed for the purpose of giving such members of the company as were entitled to vote the opportunity to do so. To avoid delay and to furnish means to carry us to the railway station twenty-one miles away, preparations were made in advance to transport us in wagons.

        The day arrived at last. It was a lovely May morning; the sun shone in all his splendor, the birds sang, all nature seemed to smile, and there was nothing to indicate that this should be the last farewell for many noble Giles County boys to home, friends, and loved ones. We seemed to be going on a holiday journey, to return in a few days. But alas! when the time of departure arrived, what a change of scene! The town was being filled with people, - the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, relatives, friends and lovers of the men and boys who were starting on the errand of war. Here was a fond and loving mother clinging to her baby boy, weeping, sobbing, praying the Father of all Mercies to protect and preserve the life of her darling child, amidst the fury and storm of battle. There stood the patriotic, gray haired father, the tears trickling down his cheeks, giving to his beloved son words of comfort, begging that he act the man, be brave, do his duty, refrain from bad habits, and to shun all appearance of evil. A loving sister might be seen with her arms around a brother's neck, reminding him of her love and attachment, and her grief and sorrow at parting from one with whom she had been associated from childhood's days, upon whom she had leaned for protection, and upon whom her fondest hopes for the future rested, and whose face she was, in all probability, gazing upon for the last time. Ears were not deaf to the mutual promises and plighted faith of lovers, of what they hoped one day should be realized. Nor were eyes dim to the parting glances and silent tears, for scarcely could be found an eye that was not bathed in tears on this occasion. It was weeping, shaking of hands, "goodbye," and "God bless you;" and thus the scene continued until the long train of wagons drove us away.

        On reaching the residence of that hospitable gentleman, Thomas Shannon, ten miles away, we found in his orchard near the spring a long table on which was spread a splendid dinner. After partaking thereof, and resting a short time, we resumed our journey towards Dublin, arriving there at sunset. Assembling near the station, we were addressed by Colonel Pogue and Mr. Frank Wysor, whose speeches were well timed and patriotic, which, together with the good supper furnished us, had the effect to dispel in some degree the gloom and sadness of the morning. At eleven o'clock P. M. we boarded the train for Lynchburg, arriving there at sunrise next morning. With us were Robinson and Hurt, drummer and fifer, who kept us well supplied with music during that long night's ride. Crowded closely in the coaches, unaccustomed to riding on the cars, and sleeping none, we found ourselves on reaching Lynchburg pretty badly used up. Falling into line at the station, we marched up Bridge street to Main, then to a back street above, going into quarters in a tobacco warehouse, where we remained but a day and night; then to the fair grounds, or Camp Davis, as it was called. There we were joined by Captain Eggleston's company, the Mercer company under Captain Richardson, with several companies from the counties of Franklin, Henry, Patrick, Floyd, Montgomery, and Carroll, which later formed the 24th Virginia regiment of infantry, commanded by Colonel, afterwards Lieutenant-General Jubal A. Early, Peter Hairston, Lieut.-Col., and J. P. Hammett as Major. Colonel Early was not in camp with us at Lynchburg and did not join us until we reached Manassas. The camp was in charge of Lieut.-Col. Hairston, a tall, slender, sandy-haired, blue-eyed man, good natured, but, as we then thought, evidently better qualified to manage his farm down in Henry County than a green military force composed of Virginia gentlemen, unused as they were to restrictions or restraints upon their personal liberty, and not to be broken into harness, so to speak, in a few days.

        Our quarters were rude plank sheds with inclined rough floors; our bedding not of feathers, but of a little straw and blankets. As no one in the company knew anything of the art of cooking, what little was done as a matter of course was badly done; the cooking vessels consisting of a tin cup, camp kettle, and frying pan. Bread was generally furnished from the bakers' shops of the city, while meat, rice, beans, peas, etc., had to be dumped into a camp kettle and boiled together - so that it requires no strong stretch of the imagination on the part of the reader to realize that we had a real mess. However, "necessity, the mother of invention," compelled us to learn how to cook, and we were right apt scholars.

        In a few days after taking up quarters at Camp Davis, there were issued and delivered to us Springfield muskets, bayonets, scabbards, cartridge boxes, but no ammunition. With these muskets we performed quarter guard, the chief objects of which seemed to be to keep the men out of the city, and to give us some knowledge as to the handling of arms. In accomplishing the first named purpose it was vain; the guards had muskets, but no powder and ball, therefore if anyone were desirous of passing the lines into the city, he had only to wait until the sentry turned on his beat to walk away, then glide quickly across the line; but when the sentry did catch a fellow, he usually made him stand at the point of his bayonet, marking time, until the corporal of the guard could answer the call and conduct the prisoner to the guardhouse. Consequently a different remedy was resorted to by the officers, viz.: The frequent call of the roll, by which the absentees were readily ascertained. This had the effect of lessening the practice of going into the city without permission.

        We remained in Lynchburg eight days, breaking camp at Camp Davis Friday the 31st day of May, 1861, and departing that evening in freight cars over the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, for Manassas Junction, a distance of one hundred miles or more. After a long, tiresome, all-night ride, we reached Manassas at sunrise on the morning of June 1st, the morning on which occurred, at Fairfax Court House, a skirmish between the Federal and Confederate outposts, in which Capt. John Q. Marr, of Fauquier, was killed and Major Ewell wounded. The Confederate post at Manassas was named "Camp Pickens" in honor of Governor Pickens of South Carolina.

Chapter VI

  • Stay at the Junction.

  • Organization of Twenty-fourth Regiment as Afterwards Completed.

  • March to Camp Davis Ford.

  • First Night on Picket.

  • Alarm.

  • March to the Town of Occoquan and Back Again.

  • A War of Words.

  • Serious Fight Imminent.

  • Leaving the Twenty-fourth Regiment.

  • Camp Tick Grove, and a Personal Difference.

  • A More Perfect Union.

  • Camp Wigfall.

  • Officers of the Seventh Virginia Regiment.

  • Blondeau's Shot.

  • How We Cooked, Ate and Slept.

  • Shannon's Bob.

  • Rumors Afloat of Pending Battle.

  • Three Days' Rations Cooked.

        THE day, or second day, after arriving at Manassas, began the organization of the 24th Virginia Regiment of Infantry, with companies from the counties of Carroll, Floyd, Montgomery, Henry, Franklin, Patrick, Mercer and Giles, including our company, the regiment numbering about one thousand men. In our company were J. Tyler Frazier, the company Chaplain, Thomas S. Taylor, James B. Henderson, the Eggleston boys, and perhaps others not now recalled, whose custom and habit was not to retire at night until they had held devotional exercises, thanked God for His past mercies and blessings, and asked His care and protection during the night. This they had not failed to do since leaving home. Taps were sounded at nine o'clock, when all lights must be extinguished. One night at Manassas taps sounded while the boys were at their devotions. Colonel Hairston, seeing the light in their tent still burning, had the boys marched to the guard house; but they were soon released.

        After two or three days at the Junction, we marched seven or eight miles to Davis' Ford on the Occoquan river, a stream formed by the junction of Cedar Run, Broad Run, and Bull Run, where we went into camp, pitching tents in a field on the right of the road, behind a skirt of pines which lined the northeast bank of the stream. The Occoquan here is small, with high banks. The field where we camped was barren, not even covered with grass. Our beds were mother earth, our rations were cooked in frying pans and camp-kettles, and we had to wash our own clothes, often without soap.

        Company drill was our dally avocation, and when well and closely followed was quite irksome, especially in warm, sultry weather. We also performed quarter guard and did picket duty, the latter by detachments from the various companies, under the command of a commissioned officer, arranged by alternate service. The picket post was nearly a mile in advance of the camp, the small stream flowing between.

        No one but a soldier can form any proper conception of the feelings and imaginations of a green boy performing his first night's picket duty on the outpost, and in order to give some meager idea of such a situation, the writer will here relate his personal experience during his first night on the outpost.

        It must be kept in mind that the private soldier is supposed to be a mere machine, which, if not in working order, may somewhere along the line produce friction. This machine is supposed to know nothing but his duty and obey orders, - the instructions of his superiors. If placed on outpost duty and told that there is nothing in front of him but the enemy, to keep a sharp lookout, and to warn of the approach of danger, he is not expected to ask questions. My time came to go on duty at ten o'clock at night. The night was cloudy and dark, but pleasant. I was placed on the road by which it was supposed the enemy might come, and given the countersign. From ten o'clock to twelve, midnight, was the time I had to remain, unless the enemy captured or ran me away. What a long two hours! The silence was oppressive. I stood peering through the darkness, away a half a mile or more from any human being, so far as I knew, imagining that every noise or bush shaken by the passing breeze was a veritable foe.

        The long two hours had nearly passed away, when - hush! in the distance, on the hard beaten road, not two hundred yards away, came the sound of approaching hoof-beats. Yankees, of course! Who else could they be? I had no information that any of our troops were on the road in front of us. What should I do? To fire before challenging and alarm the camp would be highly improper; to run away without challenging or firing would be an act of cowardice. So, nerving myself as well as I could under the circumstances, remembering the instructions and countersign, I awaited the coming of the party with all the courage I then seemed to possess. Supposing them to have approached to within some fifty yards, - though it was most likely a hundred yards - I challenged the party, and was answered, "Friends, with the countersign." Then the rejoinder, "One of you dismount, come forward and give the countersign," which was quickly done, and the party passed on; and you, gentle reader, may be assured there was one on his first night's picket duty who breathed with more ease. The spell was broken, - thereafter I had less trouble when on the outpost.

        A few nights after this occurrence, the soldier on duty at this same post discharged his musket, which aroused the camp nearly a mile away. Such excitement was scarcely ever witnessed. The long roll sounded, officers cried out, "Fall in! Fall in! The enemy is coming!" Had this been true, there is little doubt that in the confusion and darkness of the night there would have been a stampede.

        On the 10th of June we struck tents, taking up the line of march for the village of Occoquan, in the direction of the Potomac River. Our march was only about twelve miles, - hot, dry and dusty, through a country scarce of water. Many a scuffle at wells that we passed took place among the men famishing for water. Our march by the route step was rapid, much too rapid for troops unused to marching and carrying guns, accouterments, knapsacks, blankets and canteens, which, together, weighed from fifty to seventy-five pounds, and which, with our heavy, close fitting coats, made the march burdensome and cruel in the extreme; this in part because the commandant refused to halt for rest or to allow the men to get water. About sunset camp was reached, all hands broken down and exhausted. Next day we marched back, our boys in disgust, some of them quoting the King of France, who with fifty thousand men marched up the hill and then marched down again.

        On the tramp to Occoquan occurred a difficulty between Lieutenant Hairston and our Lieutenant Gibson, the two high bloods squaring themselves in the road for battle, but the prompt intervention of Major J. P. Hammett of the regiment prevented the trouble, which threatened to involve not only the two officers but their respective companies, and which difficulty was the cause of the transfer of our company from the 24th to the 7th Virginia regiment.

        We rested for a few days in camp in a grove of pines not far from Manassas, to which we gave the name of "Camp Tick Grove," from the fact of our being nearly eaten up by the seed-ticks that infest that region. Nothing of interest transpired while in this camp further than that the writer had a small personal difference with a great burly fellow, which but for the timely interference of a comrade might have resulted in somebody getting threshed. It was a trifling affair, soon over and forgotten. Our transfer to the 7th Virginia regiment being duly effected, we left the "camp of terror" and at Camp Wigfall formed a more perfect union with our new regiment, commanded by Colonel James L. Kemper of Madison County; of which regiment Lewis B. Williams of Orange was lieutenant-colonel, and W. T. Patton, of Culpeper, major.

        This regiment was formed of ten companies, two from Madison, two from Rappahannock, one from Albemarle, one from Greene, one from Orange, one from Washington, D. C., one from Culpeper, and one from Giles - designated by letters as follows:


  • Co. A, Capt. John Welch, Madison County.

  • Co. B, Capt. Thos. B. Massie, Rappahannock County.

  • Co. C, Capt. John C. Porter, Culpeper County.

  • Co. D, Capt. James H. French, Giles County.

  • Co. E, Capt. John Taylor, Culpeper and Orange Counties.

  • Co. F, Capt. F. M. McMullen, Greene County.

  • Co. G, Capt. Austin Walden, Rappahannock County.

  • Co. H, Capt. William Cleary, District of Columbia.

  • Co. I, Capt. Isaac Winn, Albemarle County.

  • Co. K, Capt. William Lovell, Madison County.

  • Dr. C. Bruce Morton, Surgeon.

  • Rev. Mr. Bocock, Chaplain.

  • Rev. Mr. McCarthy, Chaplain.

  • Rev. Mr. J. Tyler Frazier, Acting Chaplain.

  • Captain Crisler, Quartermaster.

  • Captain Graves, Quartermaster.

  • Captain J. W. Green, Commissary.

        The adjutants who served in the 7th Virginia were:

  • Charles C. Flowerree, 1861 to April, 1862.

  • E. B. Starke, April, 1862, to June 30, 1862.

  • Hugh M. Patton, - , 1862, to August 30,1862.

  • John H. Parr, September, 1862, to April, 1865.


  • George S. Tansill, to June 30, 1862.

  • - Park, to August 30, 1862.

* This company joined the regiment on the morning of the day of first battle of Manassas.Page 56


  • David E. Johnston, from November, 1862 to April, 1865. *

        Camp Wigfall was situate on a beautiful upland grass plot, a short distance southeast of Manassas, and not far from Bull Run. Here we spent the time rather pleasantly, engaging in daily company and battalion drill and doing picket duty on two old country roads leading in the direction of Bull Run.

        Blondeau, the Frenchman, belonging to Company H, caused quite a stir and excitement one night by firing his gun at an imaginary foe, which turned out to be a cow browsing in the brush near him. The long roll was sounded, the camp aroused, the regiment put into line, but before this was accomplished the camp was in an uproar, one had lost his boots, another his trousers, another his gun, etc. On the companies reaching their positions in regimental line, ten rounds of ammunition were ordered given each man, and non-commissioned officers directed to make the distribution. It was often told of our Corporal Stone that while dealing out ammunition, on the occasion referred to, one of the men remarked

* I recall the names of some of the officers who came in later as well as men, to wit: Captains W. O. Fry, Thomas Fry, F. McMullen; J. W. Almerid, Thos. Harris, Phil S. Ashby, Thos. G. Popham, Jas. G. Tansill; Lieutenants Porter, Jas. Brown; Sergeants Wm. Aylor, Apperson, Parrott, Billy Fray, H. C. Burrows and Frank him that he was giving him more than ten caps, to which the Corporal replied in quick, sharp tone, "Oh, it's no time to count caps now!" Of course no one knowing the Corporal attributed his remark to a want of courage, for no cooler, truer, braver man belonged to the company. Such signification as it had was simply that men unused to "war's alarms," aroused from slumber at the dead of night, would, despite themselves, become excited and impatient, and especially so when they momentarily expected the enemy to pounce upon them; but no enemy came. We, however, rested on our arms the remainder of the night; and though no foe appeared, some of the men were credited with having seen some in the distance - on the hills, in the open fields, but on the coming of light they were found to be merely harmless bushes. On such occasions the imagination is naturally fertile.

        The camp becoming quiet, we settled down to old habits. Rations were abundant, more thrown away than we consumed. Inaction was not good for us, and numbers of men became sick and were sent to hospital. Our soldiers, like other people, loved to sleep. If their rest was broken or disturbed at night, by picket, quarter guard, duty, or otherwise, they were sure to take a nap the next day, if the flies, of which there were swarms, would allow them to snooze. If they failed to get their nap during the day they were pretty sure to have their nocturnal slumbers disturbed by gnats and mosquitos, especially during the warm nights.

        Two members of our company, Samuel B. and Joseph C. Shannon, sons of Thomas Shannon, had with them a negro servant, Bob, as their cook. Bob was noted for his propensity for laughing, and when in a good glee he could be heard half a mile. He was very patriotic, and declared his purpose to go into battle with his young masters; that he could and would fight as well as we, and shoot as many Yankees. In this Bob was in earnest, as he believed; but ere long his courage was to be put to a practical test, for rumors were already afloat in the camp that the enemy was advancing and a battle impending.

        The private soldier knows little of what takes place, other than that which comes under his immediate observation. His general was supposed to keep his own counsels, not allowing his left hand to know what he intended to do with his right. Later on, the private soldier of the Civil War became often as wise about what was on hand as his superior.

        An order came to cook three days' rations, pack haversacks, and be ready to move at a moment's notice. From this, we knew something was up. Just what, we could not tell; however, we learned that the enemy was advancing, and a battle to be fought. All was now activity and preparation in the camp, and the men in high spirits and ready for the fray.

Chapter VII

  • Breaking Camp at Wigfall.

  • The March to the Battlefield.

  • General Beauregard and His Appearance and Advice.

  • First Cannon Shot.

  • Battle of Bull Run.

  • The Advance.

  • The Charge.

  • The Wounded.

  • Isaac Hare and John Q. Martin.

  • Retreat of the Enemy.

  • Severe Artillery Duel.

  • The Dutchman and His Chunk of Fat Bacon.

  • Casualties.

        BREAKING camp at Wigfall Wednesday noon, July 17, the 7th regiment marched in the direction of McLean's ford on Bull Run, halting on the high land nearly a mile from the Run, and going into bivouac, or rather lying down in an uncultivated field, where we rested quietly during the night. Moving next morning a short distance, we halted on an eminence, overlooking Mitchell's, Blackburn's and McLean's fords, and the country beyond, whence about noon we observed clouds of dust to the north. Very soon after this came the sound of brisk skirmish firing, and the roar of cannon from the direction of Mitchell's Ford.

        The 24th Virginia, 7th Louisiana, and 7th Virginia regiments constituted a brigade commanded by Col. J. A. Early. Longstreet's brigade, holding Mitchell's Ford, against which the enemy directed his principal attack, consisted of the 1st, 11th and 17th Virginia regiments.

        The 7th Virginia moved towards the firing along a narrow country road and over a field which had been planted in corn, in which field near the road, in charge of a guard, was a Federal prisoner. We eyed him closely, Bob, the colored cook, especially observing him with interest.

        At McLean's gate, as we passed, stood General Beauregard, the commander of the Confederate forces, - slim, strong shouldered, five and a half feet high, of swarthy complexion, and lightish mustache. He appeared calm, and collected, saying as we passed, in a quiet, low tone: "Keep cool, men, and fire low; shoot them in the legs."

        I am reminded to state here that in the earlier battles of the war I have seen men in their excitement fire their muskets into the air at an angle of probably forty-five degrees, and others so lowering their guns that the ball would strike the ground but a few feet in front of them. This, however, was soon corrected, and the men took good aim.

        Pushing forward from this point some two hundred yards, we halted on the left of the road under cover of a belt of pines, which sheltered us from the view of the enemy. Soon came the boom of a cannon, the ball whizzing and buzzing over our heads. All eyes turned in the direction of the noise of the ball, which struck the house near where General Beauregard was standing. A second shot came, the ball cutting away an apple tree near the house referred to, causing a team of horses to take fright and run away, as well as the colored man, Bob, who, musket in hand, had halted at the house, and the last seen of him that day he was making rapid speed for Manassas. Bob never expressed any regret for the run he had made, satisfied with his experience. The rattle of musketry in our front made strange music, affecting some of the men very peculiarly, especially John W. East, of our company, who, on account of a severe pain in the region of his stomach, clasped both hands across that locality, becoming almost doubled, which wholly disabled him for the fight.

        The order for the advance came, and forward we went along the narrow country road, through the pines, with a wild yell, and at double quick, accompanied by a section of the Washington (Louisiana) artillery, commanded by Lieutenant Squires. Meeting on the way some wounded men of the 1st Virginia regiment, pale and bleeding, had any other than a pleasant and happy effect upon our nervous systems, tending somewhat to dampen the ardor.

        Emerging into an open field two hundred yards from Bull Run, by a movement by the right flank, we were in line advancing towards the stream, the banks of which were covered with timber, the opposite bank sloping from the stream, high and precipitous. Within one hundred yards of the stream, from the opposite bank the enemy poured into our ranks, or rather at us, a volley of musketry, which, thanks to his bad marksmanship, went high, doing little or no damage, but causing us, by common impulse, as is usual with soldiers in their first battle, to fall flat on the ground, and down we went. On the side next the enemy, in front of Isaac Hare, was John Q. Martin, who sprang over Ike, leaving him next the enemy. Ike, with a curse and threatening gesture, compelled Martin to resume his former position. The men of the regiment were immediately upon their feet. As they rose, Lieutenant Squires, whose section of artillery had unlimbered immediately in our rear, gave the command, "Fire!" which command, being mistaken by our men for that of our own officer, caused us to let fly a terrific volley at the enemy in the woods in our front, and this was followed by a rush with fixed bayonets for the stream, behind which the enemy was posted, forcing him to retreat in confusion, leaving his dead and wounded, knapsacks, haversacks, hats and part of his small arms. Reaching the bank of the stream, the regiment lay down, and there followed for more than an hour a fierce artillery duel between the Federal batteries and the Confederate, the latter under Lieutenant Squires, which resulted in the withdrawal of the former. During this bombardment, shell, shot and shrapnel fell around and among us, wounding a few men of the regiment, but all were quiet, and continued to hug the ground. This was about five o'clock in the afternoon.

        George Knoll, "Dutchman," as we usually called him, being in his characteristic mood, but hungry, took from his haversack a chunk of fat bacon, stuffing himself while the artillery fire was in progress.

        Quiet now reigning, we began to look after the wounded and prepare for spending the night in battle line in front of the enemy, who had retired from our immediate front, but still hovered near by.

        The troops engaged on the Confederate side, save the artillery mentioned, were principally the 1st, 11th and 17th Virginia of Longstreet's brigade, with the 7th Virginia of Early's. The losses in Longstreet's regiments, as reported, were: Killed and mortally wounded, 15, and slightly wounded, 53. Of these casualties 40 were of the 1st Virginia. Seven were wounded in the 7th Virginia of Early's brigade, one killed and five wounded of the artillery. In Company D of the 7th regiment Isaac Hare and James H. Gardner were slightly wounded by spent balls. H. C. Burrows of E Company got a musket ball through his hand; a man of B Company had his hand or fingers mangled by a piece of shell.

        The Federal force that attacked us was Richardson's brigade, of Tyler's division, consisting of the 1st Massachusetts, 2d and 3d Michigan, and 12th New York regiments; Ayers' battery, and Brackett's cavalry. The Federal loss, as reported, was 19 killed, 38 wounded, and 26 missing.


Chapter VIII

  • Night's Experience on Our First Battlefield.

  • The Dead and Cries of the Wounded.

  • Occurrences on the Field.

  • Sunday, July 21.

  • Shelled by the Enemy.

  • March to the Field by the Sound of Battle.

  • The Battle.

  • Casualties.

  • The Pursuit.

  • To the Outposts.

  • Incidents.

  • Winter at Centerville.

        RETURNING to the battle line, we found ourselves groping around in the dark. Knowing the enemy to be close by, we quietly went to work throwing up temporary breastworks of logs. The cries of the Federal wounded, and the groans of the dying, the occasional volleys of musketry fired by some of our troops at imaginary foes, with the hooting of owls, made the night hideous and weird, deeply impressing the nature of a lot of young Virginia boys reared in Christian homes. The regiment behaved, however, with great coolness during the entire night, encouraged by the example, presence and good conduct of our brave Lieutenant-Colonel Williams, then in command, Colonel Kemper being absent on public service.

        With the coming of daylight, the Confederate scouts crossed the Run, brought in the Federal wounded, and quite a number of muskets, knapsacks, blankets, canteens, cartridge boxes, and hats, thrown away or dropped by the enemy in his flight. By an examination of the dead in front of our regiment, it was ascertained that we had fought the 1st Massachusetts regiment.

        This action of the 18th was preliminary to the real battle which came on Sunday the 21st, but on different ground, seven or eight miles northwest of the engagement of the 18th as just described. During Friday and Saturday all was quiet, the Confederate line of battle extending from Union Mills to Stone Bridge, several miles in length; the enemy in the meantime keeping up a showing of force, threatening our front at McLean's, Blackburn's and Mitchell's fords, while his main column was moving or preparing to move northwest to strike the Confederate battle line in flank and reverse on its extreme left.

        Our regiment remained Friday night and until late Saturday evening at the same place at which it had halted on Thursday; being then relieved by other troops, retired to a pine thicket close by, where we received a bountiful supply of rations, some in boxes from home, - a thing that makes glad the heart of a homesick boy.

        On Saturday evening we were joined by Colonel Kemper, the commander of the regiment. At sunrise on Sunday morning, July 21, the enemy's batteries near Blackburn's opened fire, on account of which we marched to the cover of the pines, between McLean's and Blackburn's fords, remaining but a short time. Our regiment, together with the 7th Louisiana, crossed the Run at McLean's ford for the purpose of attacking the enemy's batteries, which were annoying us, occasionally throwing shots into our ranks, without, however, doing any serious damage. It will be recalled by those present that while lying down behind the pines a shot struck near the center of our company, scattering dust and dirt over us.

        While getting into battle line, preparatory to assault upon the batteries, an order came to retrace our steps to the cover of the pines. This was near 12 M. By this time we distinctly heard the roar of heavy guns far to our left, and the great Battle of First Manassas was on.

        Near one o'clock P. M., we moved by a rapid gait with the head of the column directed northwest, guided by the sound of the battle. The distance from our starting point, McLean's, by the route we marched to the extreme Confederate left, was fully eight miles, which distance was covered in two hours, notwithstanding the scorching rays of the sun, stopping not for rest or water, for want of which we suffered. The three regiments of Colonel Early's brigade, 7th Louisiana, 7th Virginia, and 13th Mississippi, (the latter substituted for 24th Virginia) passed to the extreme Confederate left, reaching there at near 3:20 P. M., finding themselves face to face with the foe at the Chinn house and in open ground.

        Approaching the scene of action, a wild cheer was heard, following which a man on horseback at full speed, hatless, face flushed, covered with perspiration and dust, brandishing his sword over his head, and shouting, "Glory! Glory! Glory!" rode rapidly by. In answer to inquiry as to what was the matter, he said, "We have captured Rickett's battery and the day is ours." This was the first glad news we had received, and all were thrilled with new courage. Cheering wildly, the men pressed forward at double quick. Passing in rear and beyond a wood into which Smith's Confederate brigade had just entered, we encountered the fire of the enemy, mostly United States Regulars. The 7th Virginia here formed quickly, the 7th Louisiana and 13th Mississippi forming on the left, thus completing the battle line with three regiments front. Nor had we arrived a moment too soon, for the enemy was pressing our left flank sorely. There they were, in full view on our front, and to the left of us on the higher ground. Here Colonel Early * ordered us not to fire, saying that they were our friends: a grievous blunder upon his part, the result of misinformation not easily explained. Captain Massie, whose company was armed with rifles, called out, "Colonel, they may be your friends, but they are none of ours. Fire, men!" and fire they did.


* See Colonel Early's Report, Rebellion Records, Series 1, Vol. II, pp. 555-6.

        As we formed, the enemy at long range kept up an irregular fire, inflicting upon our men considerable loss in killed and wounded, and all this while we were too far away from them to pay them back in their own coin. As we pushed forward towards the enemy, they retreated pell-mell, we chasing them over the hill towards Bull Run, considerably in advance of the general Confederate battle line forming across a peninsula created by a sharp curve on Bull Run between Stone Bridge and the mouth of Catharpin creek.

        Up to this time we had little realization of the utter defeat of the Federal army, the evidence of which we saw a few days after, when, following his line of retreat, we found guns, caissons, muskets, ambulances, spades, picks and knapsacks abandoned in his flight. The only reason seemingly the enemy had for running as he did was because he could not fly.

        The casualties in the 7th Virginia for the limited time it was under fire were severe - nine killed and thirty-eight wounded, our Company D losing Joseph E. Bane, a brave and gallant soldier, killed; Robert H. Bane, A. L. Fry, Manelius S. Johnston, Charles N. J. Lee, Henry Lewy, John P. Sublett, and Samuel B. Shannon wounded. The loss of the Confederates in the battle was 387 killed, 1582 wounded, and 13 captured.

        The Federal loss was 2896 men, of which 460 were killed, 1124 wounded, and 1312 captured or missing, besides 26 pieces of artillery, 34 caissons and sets of harness, 10 battery wagons and forges, 24 artillery horses, several thousand stand of small arms, many wagons and ambulances, large quantities of army supplies of all kinds.

        The Confederate army remained on the field after the battle for two days, amidst a terrific rainstorm; then marching beyond Centerville, six miles to the east, went into camp in a body of woods, where we remained for some weeks; thence moved a short distance beyond Fairfax Court House. Here we laid out our camp and pitched tents, which was barely done when the long roll sounded and we were quickly on the march in the direction of Alexandria and Washington, whither we should have been pushing the day after the battle; for if vigorous pursuit had been made, Washington would have fallen into our hands.

        The march referred to took us to Munson's hill; learning on the way that a brisk skirmish between the enemy and some Confederate troops had occurred during the day, which had only ended with the approach of darkness. Halting near Munson's hill, an order was given to load muskets, and again we moved forward. John W. East, from sheer cowardice - constitutional - he could not avoid it - fell at full length in the road. John turned up in camp a few days after, in fair health and clothed in his right mind. The regiment passed on a few hundred yards to the base of the hill, going into camp. The following morning, Company K, together with Company D, under Captain Lovell, on the right and front of the hill had quite a sharp skirmish with the enemy. Next morning, Saturday, August 30, Major Patton, with Companies B and D, advanced to Bailey's Corners, three-quarters of a mile or so, where they engaged in quite a fusillade with a portion of the Second Michigan regiment, in which a lieutenant of B Company was wounded, and one man of the Michigan regiment was mortally wounded.

        In a few days after the skirmish just described, we returned to our camp, where we found peace and plenty. Lieutenant W. A. Anderson, who at Camp Wigfall had been detailed to go back home and secure additional men to fill up the loss in the ranks, caused by sickness, had returned with the following men, to wit: George W. Akers, William R. Albert, David Davis, Creed D. Frazier, A. J. French, Francis M. Gordon, John Henderson, George Johnston, P. H. Lefler, Anderson Meadows, Ballard P. Meadows, Winton W. Muncey, George C. Mullins, Charles W. Peck, Thomas J. Stafford, William H. Stafford, Adam Thompson, Alonzo Thompson, William I. Wilburn and Isaac Young.

        With the exception of company and regimental drill, some picket duty, and quarter guard, we did little but cook, eat, write letters and sleep. The weather was hot, the water bad; this, with an overabundance of rations, and insufficient exercise - in fact, a life of almost entire inactivity - were the fruitful sources of disease, and many of the men were sick, a number of them finding their way to the hospital; among them, Allen C. Pack, Ed Z. Yager, William Sublett, John Henderson, William Frazier, H. J. Hale, and doubtless others, not now recalled. Frazier, Henderson, Sublett and Hale died, as did Alonzo Thompson, whose deaths and loss were much regretted. Strange, yet true, that many of our strongest men fell victims to disease, while those apparently much weaker stood the service well.

        While on picket duty at Fall's Church, a Captain Farley, with smooth face, fair skin and blue eyes, claiming to be - and was - a South Carolinian, and an independent scout, approached our outpost and proposed that some of the men go with him into the timber in front of the picket and run the Yankees out. Our boys regarded this as preposterous, and on went Farley. He had not been in the woods long till firing began, and he soon returned with blood streaming from his ear: he had a close call.

        During the months of August and September we served on frequent picket duty at Munson's, Upton's and Mason's hills, and at Annandale. Our lines were fairly well connected. The enemy, not being able to discover by their scouts what we were doing - what movements we were making, or what force we had, resorted to the use of balloons. On one occasion our people fired at a balloon with cannon shot, and down came the balloon. A short while after this, the balloon was up again, when our boys concluded to at least give the man in the basket - Professor Lowe - a scare; so, rigging up the rear gears of a wagon with a stovepipe, ran the improvised artillery to the hilltop, in full view of the aeronaut, pretending to load. The Professor descended quickly, only to appear again at a safer distance.

        On one of our tramps to picket we went to Annandale and remained a day or so with Captain Harrison's Goochland Dragoons, which did outpost duty during the day and we at night. We lived largely, while on picket, on green corn, potatoes, and sometimes other vegetables, a relief from fresh beef, bacon and hardtack, the regular diet of camp life.

        As the enemy perfected his lines, he became bolder, pressing closer. This led to frequent collisions between the troops on outpost duty. These conflicts were by general orders discouraged, and called petty warfare. Nor were these without their casualties - if not caused by the enemy, sometimes by accident, or mistake - careless handling of firearms in passing through the brush, carrying of arms at a trail and catching the hammers against some obstacle. One such accident is recalled by which a man by the name of Link, of Captain Eggleston's Giles company, lost his life.

        During the sojourn at Fairfax, a detachment under Lieutenant Allen of the 28th Virginia, was sent to the station on the railway to guard some baggage and stores deposited there. Of this detachment was John R. Crawford, of our company, who for true physical courage, bravery and self-possession, had scarce an equal; indeed, it was often said of him that he knew no fear - did not know what it meant - never dreamed nor imagined what danger was; that he felt as much at ease in the storm of battle as when resting quietly in the camp. The reader doubtless has heard of the "Louisiana Tigers," who in the first battle of Manassas, when closing with the enemy, threw down their muskets and rushed upon the enemy with their bowie-knives. They were a dangerous, blood-thirsty set - at least so reputed. It was two of these same "Tigers" who found Crawford on guard over the baggage and stores above referred to, which they proposed to appropriate. Crawford warned them to stand off and go away. They paid no heed to the warnings, but persisted in their purpose. Crawford then reversed his musket and downed the man nearest to him, who fell trembling and bleeding at his feet; whereupon his companion quickly advanced to his rescue, but Crawford's belligerent attitude caused him to beat a hasty retreat.

        The Winter of 1861-1862 was spent at Centerville in camp, our quarters being constructed of log huts with wooden chimneys. The Winter was cold and dreary, and we had some difficulty in keeping a supply of rations, which had to be transported from the junction six miles away by wagons over a road deep in mud and mire.

        Owing to the difficulty of distinguishing our Virginia state flag from many flags of other states carried by the enemy in the battle of Manassas, whereby we had been threatened with serious consequences, such as occurred with our own brigade on that field: it became necessary to have a flag uniform in design for all the Confederate army. Such a flag was designed by Colonel Miles, of South Carolina, and presented by General Beauregard to the army. This flag was about twenty-two inches square, the field red, with blue stripes from corner to corner at right angles, with thirteen white stars; and was ever after our battle flag.

        Again we were on picket, Crawford on outpost, with instructions to keep a sharp lookout, as the enemy was near, but not to shoot without calling "halt" the usual three times, and if no halt made, to shoot. Shortly after Crawford took post, his cries of "Halt! Halt! Halt!" were heard, and bang! went his gun. The corporal ran to see what was the matter: he found Crawford standing quietly at his post as if nothing had happened - a stray fat hog had wandered to the post and had not halted at Crawford's command, consequently was dead. Crawford's only explanation was, "I obeyed orders." The hog was roasted, with many compliments for Crawford, and all had a feast.

Chapter IX

  • Our Daily Duties.

  • In Camp.

  • Among the Last Rencounters.

  • Lieutenant Gibson, Corporal Stone and Others Hold a Council of War and Determine to Advance and Drive McClellan from Arlington Heights.

  • March to the Outposts.

  • Graybacks.

  • Religious Exercises.

  • Incidents of Camp.

  • Depletion of the Army.

  • Re-enlistments and Furloughs.

  • Retreat from Manassas Behind the Rappahannock.

  • Albert and Snidow.

  • Gordonsville.

        OUR duties in camp during the Winter were not onerous, save quarter guard inclement weather, especially rain and extreme cold, for it will be remembered that we had no shelter on quarter guard post - that is, none while on post and on the beat, as a guard must always be in the open, both as to weather and to the foe. The guards were divided into three reliefs: the first went on at 9 o'clock A. M., the second at 11, the third at 1. This order was observed during the twenty-four hours. When off post we were required to remain at the guard house, unless by special permission of the officer of the guard. The quarter guard were supposed to be the special custodians of the quiet and safety of the camp. The mode of placing guard on post was as follows: A sergeant or corporal commenced at the top of the roll, the number of men being equal to the number of posts. Beginning with post number one, we marched around the entire camp, relieving each sentinel with a new man. When this was to be performed at night, the countersign (a pass word adopted at army headquarters and transmitted to the various subordinates) was delivered in a whisper to the guards by the officers thereof, so that as the sergeant with the relief guard approached the sentry, he was required to halt and give the countersign.

        Colonel Kemper, still a member of the General Assembly of Virginia, was absent for the greater part of the Winter. Lieutenant-Colonel L. B. Williams, a rigid disciplinarian, who was left in command, endeavored by watchfulness, to have everything done in strict military style; frequently visiting the guard house, having the officer turn out the guard, call the roll, and woe to the man absent or out of line when his name was called. Punishment was sure to follow in the way of double duty or otherwise. On one occasion Lieutenant Anderson and W. H. Layton, having both imbibed too freely, took a jaunt to the guard house, where they had no business, and here Colonel Williams, on one of his visits, found them. Layton was placed in the guard house and the lieutenant in arrest.

        During this stay in Winter quarters, Privates Mays, Farley, Thompson and John W. East had an altercation, the last (save two) which occurred in the company. It was not an uncommon thing for the soldiers to discuss the conduct of the war, the remissness and failure of commanders, the probabilities and improbabilities of success, peace, the plan of battles, and the war policy, offensive and defensive. A discussion of this kind is well remembered as having occurred between Lieutenant Gibson, then officer of the day; Corporal Stone, Sergeant Peters, Sarver, Hare and others, in the quarters of my mess, while at Centerville. It was at night; the boys had gotten in a little stimulant. Lieutenant Gibson dropped in, and with the others, imbibing freely, began in a very serious way the discussion of the surest and quickest way or mode of ending the war, and restoring peace to our distracted country. After much discussion pro and con, which lasted practically throughout the night, Corporal Stone submitted a plan to which all readily assented, and which was as follows: To "attack immediately General McClellan's army, drive it from Arlington Heights, capture the Federal capital, then propose an armistice and congress of the states." Stone was for starting that night, for prompt and aggressive action, but Peters favored postponement until morning, which was by this time at hand. Just then the long roll sounded to arms, and a march toward Washington, sure enough, began, but with only our regiment. And, oh! such headaches as Stone, Peters, Gibson and the others in the war council had, and how formidable and impregnable now appeared Arlington, which a few hours before was to them but a mole hill. Our mission was to relieve a Louisiana regiment then on picket near Fairfax, where we remained for a week, occupying the quarters just vacated by the Louisianians. Here it was that we formed our first acquaintance with the "graybacks," which filled our clothing and blankets, much to our discomfort. Oh! the digging under the shirt collar, under the arm pits, and every point where the cruel pest found the flesh of the poor soldier. It was a difficult matter to rid ourselves of them - they seemed over anxious to remain with us. Nothing short of boiling them hard in water got rid of them. The next Summer on the peninsula, in the swamps of the Chickahominy, and around Richmond, we had them in abundance, the boys often saying that they had stamped upon their backs the letters, "I. F.W.," which, interpreted, meant "In for the war."

        During our stay in Winter quarters at Centerville, there was little, if any, preaching or religious exercises, as there was no place to have public services, and the weather was too severe to hold services in the open. The mess of J. Tyler Frazier, in which were Thomas S. Taylor, James B. Henderson, F. H. Farley, John F. Jones, William C. Fortner, Joseph Eggleston, James Eggleston, and perhaps others, never neglected their religious duties, and in quarters invariably read a chapter of the Bible, sang a hymn, and prayed before retiring at night. These men, by their upright conduct, observance of their religious duties, their Christian character and conversation, had great influence over their comrades, and especially upon the conduct and morals of the company.

        The expiration of the term of service, twelve months, of most of the men was rapidly approaching; the ranks having been much depleted by sickness, death and other causes. No adequate provision had yet been made for the retention of those already in the field, or for the filling of the ranks. It was evident that if the war was to be prolonged, and the contest maintained, we must have an army. With one year's service many were satisfied; the fever had worn off, enthusiasm was on the wane. The government, to induce re-enlistment, was offering fifty dollars bounty and thirty-day furlough. Quite a number availed themselves of an opportunity to go home by accepting the bounty and re-enlisting. Some eighteen of Company D took advantage of the offer, among them E. M. Stone, John D. Hare, J. W. Mullins, A. L. Fry, J. W. Hight, John W. East, R. H. Bane, J. B. Young, Tom Young, W. H. Layton, Tom Davenport, John Palmer, and the writer. Tom Young, Davenport, Layton and Palmer never returned - deserted.

        On our return to the army we were accompanied by Christian Minnich, who enlisted in the company, having two sons therein. The question of re-enlistment was soon settled by an act of Congress, which placed every man in the Confederate states between the ages of 18 and 35 in the army for three years, or until the close of the war, retaining all that were under 18 and over 45 for ninety days, continuing the organizations then existing, with the right to elect regimental and company officers.

        March 1, or thereabouts, in 1862, the enemy began to push his lines closer up, and to make more frequent reconnaissances, and to extend his lines toward Aquia Creek on the Potomac, on the right flank of the Confederate army, causing our commander uneasiness, no doubt, as to the tenableness of our position, and hence on or about the 10th of the month orders were issued to cook rations, and be prepared to march. The movement began three days later, with the head of the column directed toward Warrenton and the Rappahannock River, which was crossed the second or third day. At Centerville we left burning immense quantities of provisions and army supplies, of which later we stood in dire need, the inadequacy of transportation being the excuse for the destruction.

        At a point either in Culpeper or Rappahannock, near where we one night encamped, was a distillery, of which some of our men took possession, procuring Old Man Riley Albert to make a run of applejack, with which they tanked up, then filled their canteens, with no way to transport the residue. Harry Snidow and others from a nearby store procured jars, with which they trudged along until the jars were emptied. No one was drunk, but the boys were happy and jolly.

        Gordonsville, in Orange County, near the junction of what was then the Central and Orange and Alexandria railroad, was reached, where we went into camp

Chapter X


  • The Stay Near Gordonsville.

  • The March to Richmond and Journey to Yorktown.

  • In the Trenches.

  • Skirmishing and Night Alarms.

  • Reorganization.

  • The Retreat from Yorktown.

  • The Old Lady's Prayer.

  • Battle of Williamsburg.

  • The Killed and Wounded.

  • Forces and Numbers Engaged and Losses.

  • Retreat up the Peninsula.

  • Battle of Seven Pines.

  • Casualties.

        OUR stay in the vicinity of Gordonsville was of short duration - only for a few days - for on or about April 1 we set out for Richmond, distant about seventy-five miles. The route taken lay through the counties of Louisa, Hanover and Henrico, a low, flat, swampy territory, and in March and April knee deep in mud. The people along this march were unaccustomed to seeing large bodies of armed men marching. The negroes, especially, gazed upon us with seeming astonishment. How long we were making this march to the capital city is not now recollected, but as we carried heavy burdens at that day, it is probable we did not reach Richmond before the 8th or 9th of April.

        On the 10th of the month last mentioned, the 7th regiment left Richmond aboard a steamer on the James River, disembarking at King's Landing, ten miles from Yorktown, inland, whither we marched the evening of our debarkation. We took position in and near the trenches for the purpose of preventing the Federal army from marching up the peninsula. Now and then a brisk skirmish would occur on some part of the lines, scarcely a night passing without picket firing and alarms; one of which occurred during a heavy rainstorm, in which the men stood to their guns throughout the night and were thoroughly drenched by the rain.

        The time for reorganization of the army had arrived, and this was accomplished quietly on Saturday, April 26, 1862, in the face of the enemy. Before giving in detail the result of the reorganization, will state that a very decided change had taken place among the men as to their estimates of the character and ability of their officers, field and company. Many were moved by their dislikes and prejudices, engendered by contact in their first year's service, against officers who had endeavored to enforce obedience and strict military discipline, prompted by no other motive than the good of the service; yet these acts, done in accordance with military law, and inspired by patriotism, were often misconstrued by men born freemen, wholly unaccustomed to having restraints placed upon their personal liberty; such acts, the exercise of such authority, being regarded by our volunteer citizen soldiery as tyrannical. Consequently those who had been foremost in rushing to the country's rescue in the early days of her peril, bravely leading their men to the forefront of the battle, were displaced, to the detriment of the service; but patriotic and good men are oftentimes only human. The organization was, however, effected apparently without injury to the public service.

        Captain James H. French, of my company, was taken sick on the march from the Rappahannock, and was left in Richmond; consequently he was not present at the reorganization, and perhaps was not a candidate for re-election. Had he been present and a candidate, it is more than probable he would have been again chosen captain without opposition, as no one could have had any personal grievance against him. He had proven himself a man of unflinching courage, and as much in this respect could be said of the other company officers. Save one, Lieutenant Joel Blackard, all were displaced. Blackard, in the reorganization, was elected captain; Sergeant R. H. Bane, first lieutenant; Orderly Sergeant John W. Mullins, second lieutenant; Corporal E. M. Stone, third lieutenant. The non-commissioned officers elected were: A. L. Fry, first sergeant; W. H. H. Snidow, second sergeant; William D. Peters, third sergeant; Joseph C. Shannon, fourth sergeant; this scribe, fifth sergeant; A. J. Thompson, first corporal; Daniel Bish, second corporal; George C. Mullins, third corporal, and J. B. Young, fourth corporal.

        Comment as to the choice of the men will not here be made, nor the character of the new officers as ample opportunity will be afforded in these pages to judge their conduct. It suffices to say now that the company had no cause for regret.

        Of the regimental officers, Colonel James L. Kemper was chosen to succeed himself; Major W. T. Patton was elected lieutenant-colonel; Adjutant C. C. Flowerree, major; Lieutenant Starke was appointed adjutant; George S. Tansill, sergeant-major. Dr. C. B. Morton was regimental surgeon, with Dr. Oliver assistant, and upon the promotion of Dr. Morton to brigade surgeon, Dr. Oliver became regimental surgeon, with Dr. Worthington as assistant.

        As recollected, Company H, from the District of Columbia, having served its one year, for which it had enlisted, disbanded shortly after reorganization.

        Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis B. Williams, than whom no braver man wore the gray, was elected colonel of the 1st Virginia regiment. Prior to the battles of Bull Run and Manassas, the 7th regiment had been brigaded with the 24th Virginia and 7th Louisiana, under Colonel J. A. Early. After these battles, we were commanded by General Ewell. Subsequently, the 1st, 7th, 11th and 17th Virginia regiments formed General Longstreet's brigade. On reaching Yorktown,  

Brigadier-General A. P. Hill became our brigade commander, General Longstreet having been made a major-general, to whose division our brigade was attached.

        At this juncture we were still at Yorktown, with the enemy bold and threatening in our front. It was evident, therefore, that a collision was imminent, either where we were or near by. The order came to move on Saturday evening, May 3. We were soon on the road, in the mud, floundering and pushing toward Williamsburg, about twelve miles distant, reaching there early next morning, after an all night march. The command halted in front of the grounds of the Eastern Hospital for the Insane. The enemy, evidently determined we should not get away without trouble, followed closely, skirmishing briskly with the rear guard, which was continued throughout the afternoon. Then came the monotonous standing in line of battle from early dawn till near midday - a thing that always tries the patience of a soldier. The booming of artillery, and the rattling of small arms could be distinctly heard. As we passed over the street leading to William and Mary College, an elderly lady appeared on her porch, with clasped hands and eyes lifted heavenward, uttering for us, in simple, pathetic tones, a prayer to God for the protection of our lives in the coming conflict.

        Beyond the College the column filed to the right into an open field, piled baggage, and then in battle line moved forward into the timber, receiving as we entered therein a shower of balls at close range, wounding a number of men. This onslaught was answered by a charge from us, which broke up the lines of the enemy, consisting in part of New York regiments, and drove him for more than a half mile through the woods into a body of fallen timber, in which was encountered a fresh line of battle. Some doubt at first existed as to who these people were. This was settled by the unfurling of their flag. At close quarters, the fight was desperate for more than two hours, in which our ammunition was expended, when General A. P. Hill ordered a charge with fixed bayonets, upon which the enemy (New Jersey men,) were driven from the field; for a hand-to-hand charge is something fearful to contemplate. Being relieved by other troops, Hill's brigade retired to the line from which it had moved in the charge, from whence we withdrew during the night, continuing the retreat; for it will be remembered that the task in hand for us was the holding in check of the enemy - a force vastly superior to our own. In this day's work I fired 36 charges, by which my shoulder was pounded so that it was for a time completely disabled. This battle was fought for a safe retreat for our trains and for the army, and accomplished this purpose. We had beaten the enemy in our center, and on the right wing, while a portion, two regiments, of General Early's brigade had been repulsed by General Hancock's Federal brigade.

        The forces engaged were, as stated by General Longstreet: Federals, 12,000; Confederates, 9,000. The casualties: Federal, 2,288; Confederate, 1,565. This engagement was called the Battle of Williamsburg, and will be remembered by the survivors whose eyes may fall upon these lines.

        In Hill's brigade the loss was 326, of which 67 were killed, 245 wounded, 14 missing. The 7th Virginia lost 13 killed, 64 wounded, aggregate 77. In Company D, of the 7th Virginia, the loss was one killed, 14 wounded, as follows: Killed, William H. Stafford; wounded, Lieutenant E. M. Stone, and the following men of the line: Allen M. Bane, Charles W. Peck, Andrew J. Thompson, John A. Hale, John W. East, Isaac Hare, George Knoll, Anderson Meadows, Demarcus Sarver, William I. Wilburn, Edward Z. Yager, John Meadows, and the writer - who 

knows what it is to have a hot buckshot in his hand. Baldwin L. Hoge had the belt of his cartridge box severed and cut from the belt; several of the men had holes shot through their clothing. Sergeant Tapley P. Mays, of Company D, the ensign of the regiment, who bore the flag aloft throughout the battle, had the staff severed three times and the flag pierced by twenty-three balls, Mays escaping unscathed. For his gallant conduct on this field, he received the thanks of the commandant of the regiment, and his conduct was made the subject matter of a complimentary letter to him from the Governor of the state, promising that he should receive a fine sword for his gallant conduct.

        The mud was deep, the movement slow, and when morning dawned we were only a few miles from the battlefield, halting occasionally in battle line in order to hold the enemy in check until our long train of wagons and artillery could get away. It must not be supposed that because we were wearied, covered with mud and hungry, that we were dispirited and gloomy. Such mental conditions could not then well exist among such a jolly set of fellows, for we had in each company one or more who would have their amusement, in a joke, a laugh, or a song, especially Bolton and George Knoll (the Dutchman), who were clownish and full of fun. In passing along the roads and through the towns and villages, if a citizen with a high silk hat appeared, these clowns would call out: "Mister, come out of that hat; I know you are in there, for I see your feet!" Another would likely call out: "Mister, my bees are swarming; lend me your hat to hive them in." They sometimes ran across a man with high top boots. Then it was: "Come out of them boots! I know you are in them, for I see your head above." Occasionally they were paid back in their own coin. An old preacher, white-haired, with long white flowing beard, one day rode into camp, when one of these wags called out: "Boys, here is old Father Abraham," whereupon the old preacher said: "Young men, you are mistaken. I am Saul, the son of Kish, searching for his father's asses, and I have found them." The preacher had won, and nobody enjoyed the joke better than the fellows who had been beaten at their own game.

        The Chickahominy was crossed by our troops May 9, when we went into camp at Clark's farm, and later near Howard's Grove, on higher and dryer ground, with better water. Here inactivity and hot weather brought on much sickness. It was from this camp that A. L. Sumner of Company D took "French furlough" - went without leave, to see his family, was arrested, brought back, courtmartialed, and sentenced for a term to Castle Thunder, a Confederate prison in Richmond for Confederate delinquents. On his return he made up for his delinquency. A. L. Fry, orderly-sergeant, was summoned as a witness against Sumner at his trial, and was thereby absent at the battle of Frazier's farm.

        For several days preceding the 30th day of May, 1862, the weather had been very sultry, and during the night of that day there broke over the camp a violent electric storm, accompanied by a heavy downpour of rain, which flooded the quarters and submerged everything on the ground within the tents, compelling the men to stand on their feet for hours. The vivid flashes of electricity, the fearful peals of thunder, reminded one of the progress of a mighty battle, and was a fitting precursor of the morrow's bloody day.

        At daylight, Saturday, May 31, came the order to march. Although we knew the enemy was in close proximity to Richmond and extending his lines closer, with the intention of investing the city, yet we were at a loss to determine where we were going, as we had not received orders to be ready to move. Much difficulty was encountered in crossing the small branches, which had overflowed their banks, but we finally made our way into the Williamsburg road, learning on the way from parties coming from the front that a battle was imminent. Hurrying forward at quickstep, turning to the right from the Williamsburg road, we found ourselves in line of battle on the edge of a swamp in a wood, where we remained until about 1 P. M., hearing the boom of cannon, and indistinctly the rattle of musketry, apparently far to our left. Not long after the hour mentioned, we were hurried away to the left to Seven Pines, where we soon found ourselves face to face with the enemy, in part the Federal division of General Silas Casey, whose earthworks and camp we carried, including some of his artillery. The forces engaged, as given by General Longstreet in his "Manassas to Appomattox," were: Union troops, 18,500; Confederates, 14,600; Union losses, 5,031; Confederate, 4,798. This engagement was called by the Confederates the Battle of Seven Pines.

        I have not been able to secure my brigade or regimental loss but my company loss was: A. D. Manning, killed; Sergeant E. R. Walker, Privates Travis Burton, John W. Hight and Joseph Lewy, wounded. Our ensign, Mays, acted with his usual gallantry.

        The right wing of the Confederate army, under General Longstreet, had defeated the left wing of the Union army, captured its intrenchements, guns and camp, and driven it for quite a distance, but the Confederate left wing had not been so fortunate as the right. In this battle, after we had broken General Casey's lines, some Union sharpshooters took cover in the swamp in our front, one of whom at about seventy-five yards fired at me, the ball grazing my cap.

        A short time previous to the Battle of Seven Pines, our brigadier-general, A. P. Hill, had been made major-general. Colonel Kemper had been promoted to brigadier-general and was in command of the brigade during the above-mentioned engagement. General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding the Confederate army in this battle, was badly wounded, and General Robert E. Lee was appointed to succeed him in the command.

        We left the battleground, as now recalled, on June 2, returning to camp, a few days after which the 24th Virginia regiment, which had been with Early's, then with Garland's brigade, was united with ours - now composed of the 1st, 7th, 11th, 17th and 24th Virginia regiments.

Chapter XI


  • Preparations for Active Field Service.

  • Dress Parade and Speeches of General Kemper and Colonel Patton.

  • Battles Around Richmond.

  • Gaines' Mill or Cold Harbor.

  • Frazier's Farm and Malvern Hill.

  • Testing a Man's Courage.

  • Casualties.

  • In Pursuit of the Enemy.

  • In Camp Near the Chickahominy.

  • Sickness and Death.

  • Threatening Attitude of the Enemy in Northern Virginia.

  • Concentration of the Confederate Army on the Rappahannock.

  • Pope's Bravado.

  • Lieutenant Hugh M. Patton Succeeds Stark as Adjutant, and Sergeant Parke Appointed Sergeant-Major, Succeeding George S. Tansill.

        FOLLOWING the Battle of Seven Pines, and the period preceding the opening of the battles around Richmond, at Mechanicsville on June 26, all were engaged in drilling and gathering in absentees. Muskets were put in order, cartridge boxes, bayonets and gun straps were issued. Inspection of arms and accouterments, and dress parades were frequent, and the word went from lip to lip that something was up, that all this preparation meant business, and that right early.

        Rations were cooked and distributed on Wednesday, June 25, and everything put in shape to move on short notice. Being on parade on the evening of the day last referred to, General Kemper and Colonel Patton made soul-stirring speeches, telling us that the great battle of the revolution was now to be fought, and if we were successful the Confederacy would be a free country, and we would all go home together; if beaten, the war must be prolonged for years.

        Leaving camp in the early morning of the 26th, we marched in the direction of Mechanicsville bridge, on the Chickahominy, halting a short distance from the bridge under cover of timber on the roadside, from which we could, late in the afternoon, hear the roar of the battle at Mechanicsville beyond the river, then being fought by the Confederate division of General A. P. Hill and the Federal corps of Porter. As the darkness came on the flash of their guns could be seen distinctly, the battle continuing until nearly 9 o'clock. At dawn the firing across the river was renewed, continuing for a time. The movement of our force was then made across the bridge, following the track of the retreating foe, whose course was marked by the destruction of commissary stores. Reaching the vicinity of Gaines' Mill at noon, a line of battle was formed behind and near the crest of a low range of hills, hiding us from the view of the enemy. In our immediate front were the brigades of Pickett, Wilcox and Pryor, who were to lead the assault on our part of the line, with our brigade in support. Near the middle of the afternoon the battle opened with fury, raging with varying fortune until nearly dark, when our troops broke over the Union lines, forcing their men from the field: a victory dearly bought. Kemper's brigade was not called into action, though lying under fearful shelling, but fortunately we were just near enough the crest of the ridge to avoid the shells, which passed in most part over us. We suffered but little if any loss.

        The Federals engaged in this battle numbered about 35,000; their loss in killed, wounded and missing, 7,000, besides twenty-two pieces of artillery which fell into our hands. The Confederates no doubt had the larger number engaged, and their casualties were, therefore, greater, but seem not to have been reported.

        Next morning we marched over the field on which the Confederate brigades of Wilcox, Pickett and Pryor, with others, had made heroic fight, and it is almost incredible that a single line of Confederates should have forced their way in the face of the murderous fire they met, over such a position, which was to all appearances impregnable, and certainly was, except as against men fighting for homes, firesides, and principles which they regarded as dearer than life.

        We occupied the field Saturday, in a position to make or to receive an attack, but the enemy was in no plight - in fact, in no mood, to attack us, but on the contrary was making for the James River, though we did not then know it. Our officers did not seem to know with certainty what direction the enemy was taking, as his movement was well masked. It seems to have been discovered late on the evening of Saturday, the 28th, or early on Sunday morning, the 29th, that General McClellan, with his army, was making for the shelter of the Union naval fleet on the James, and such being the understanding, Longstreet's and A. P. Hill's divisions at an early hour on Sunday morning were pushed across the Chickahominy via New Bridge, and to the Darbytown road, to intercept the retreat. The day was warm, the roads dusty, and the march fatiguing, especially as it was rapid for fifteen or eighteen miles. Pushing ahead early the next day, Monday, June 30, the enemy was encountered about noon. The skirmishers were soon engaged, but the advance of our troops did not begin until about 4 o'clock P. M., and after we had suffered for two or more hours from a severe shelling. While under this severe fire and in line in the woods, in a swamp amidst brambles and vines, a shell from one of the enemy's guns burst immediately in our front and only a few feet away, scattering the fragments and shrapnel in our midst, one of which struck a man close by me, burying itself in a testament in his breast pocket, which thus saved his life.

        The point where the encounter took place was known locally as Frazier's farm. The only Confederate troops engaged were the two divisions above mentioned, which had been sorely reduced by the casualties at Seven Pines, Mechanicsville and Gaines' Mill, as well as by sickness, the exhaustion of a rapid march, and by straggling to about 12,000 men. These were pitted against the main body of the Union army.


        From the firing we had every reason to believe that the enemy was close at hand in large numbers, seemingly not distant more than half a mile. The advance of our forces was through a dense wood, tangled underbrush filled with brambles, and partly covered by water, with no possibility of keeping the men up to their places, the stronger ones pushing through over the obstacles, while many of the weaker, unable to keep pace, were left behind. Kemper's brigade was leading and his advance soon became a charge, the enemy being posted on the farther side of an open field. Some of the line officers implored the regimental commander to halt long enough to get the men in order and close the ranks, but the officer cried out: "Forward! Forward!" and on rushed the men, every man his own general, which they usually were in making such a charge.

        In a fierce battle a man's courage is severely tested. Here our regiment is in battle line on the edge of a wood; less than a quarter of a mile in front is another wood, sheltering the enemy; between the opposing forces is an open field; the regiment is advancing and the lines move out into the clear sunlight. Men will hurriedly reason  with themselves: "The enemy is posted in that timber across the field; before we move many yards he will open on us with shot and shell; this is perhaps my last day on earth." So each man reasons, but every face is sternly set to the front and not a man falters. The shell and shot blow dozens to gory fragments, but the line does not halt, the living saying to themselves: "The fire will presently change to cannister, then I shall certainly be struck." The prediction is being verified, gaps are opened through the ranks, only to be closed again; the regiment has lost its adhesion and marching step, its lines are no longer perfect, but the movement is still onward. From knowledge of methods in battle, our men suppose the infantry is in support of the battery. We have escaped shell and cannister, but when we meet the musketry fire we shall be killed. There is no hanging back, no thought but to push ahead. The leaden hail now comes and the lines are further disordered; the left wing has lost its front by quite a distance, but the push is forward, men grip their guns, their eyes flash, and with a yell, on to the battery they rush, bayonetting the cannoneers at their posts. The Federal infantry supports give way precipitately - then follows that famous bone-searching rebel yell of triumph.

        The brigade, led by the brave General Kemper, met a shower of shot, shell, cannister and storm of leaden bullets; it never faltered, rushed upon the Union battery - Randol's Pennsylvania - routing its infantry supports. Here Ensign Mays planted the colors of the 7th regiment on the Union guns. They were ours, won, however, at fearful cost. The failure promptly to support our brigade - the enemy flanking us on both wings - caused General Kemper to order the retirement of the brigade, now suffering severe loss from the fire of these flanking columns, which in turn were themselves flanked and defeated by the troops coming to our support. Such is the fearful game of war with men of the same valor and blood.

        The brigade casualties were 414, of which 44 were killed, 205 wounded and 165 missing. Regimental loss in the 7th Virginia, 111, of which 14 were killed, 66 wounded and 31 missing. Adjutant E. B. Starke was killed and Sergeant-Major Tansill severely wounded, disabled for further service. Sergeant-Major Tansill had been a soldier in our war with Mexico, and was one of the most efficient, the bravest and best of our soldiers. The gallant Lieutenant, afterwards Captain James G. Tansill, of Company E, of the 7th regiment, was the son of Sergeant-Major Tansill.

        The loss in my company was 16. Killed, Captain Joel Blackard; mortally wounded, Ballard P. Meadows, Lee E. Vass and Joseph Eggleston; the other wounded were: J. C. Shannon, Daniel Bish, Jesse B. Young, David C. Akers, H. J. Wilburn, Tim P. Darr, Francis M. Gordon, George A. Minnich, T. P. Mays, John W. Sarver and Joseph Suthern. Captured, Allen M. Bane. Ballard P. Meadows was made a prisoner and died in the hands of the enemy. Upon the fall of the brave and lamented Captain Blackard, the command of the company devolved upon First Lieutenant Robert H. Bane, a gallant soldier, and a worthy successor to Captain Blackard. Second Lieutenant Mullins became first lieutenant; E. M. Stone, second lieutenant, and Sergeant E. R. Walker was elected second junior lieutenant.

        During that night our troops rested on the field without disturbance from the enemy, who continued his flank movement, a masterly retreat, to a position at Malvern Hill, on the banks of the James: a position of great natural strength, where the entire Union army was concentrated, supported by the gunboats in the river. The Battle of Malvern Hill did not begin until the afternoon, but its tide swept to and fro until far into the night. The divisions of Longstreet and A. P. Hill were held in reserve, close up, but not called into action, near enough, however, to be in range of the enemy's artillery and heavy projectiles thrown from the gunboats, inspiring fear and terror among our men not justified by their execution. The repeated charges of our troops against the enemy's stronghold failed to dislodge him. Our men were repulsed; they had bearded the lion in his den; he refused to yield; he could not afford to, for if he did he had but one place to go and that was into the river, or the alternative, of surrendering. In the Battle of Frazier's Farm the Federals largely outnumbered the Confederates. They lost ten guns captured by the Confederates, who, when the battle closed, held the greater part of the field. The Federal General McCall was captured by the 47th Virginia regiment.

        At the opening of the campaign, the Union army numbered 105,000, the Confederate 80,762 - tremendous armies, when we come to think of it. The losses on each side, up to the Battle of Malvern Hill, in killed and wounded, were thought to be equal, but in that battle it is stated upon authority that the Confederate loss was about 5,000 men, the Union loss about one-third that number. During the Battle of Malvern Hill, Mr. Davis, President of the Confederate States, was with us in the morning and under the fire of the gunboats.

        It being ascertained that the enemy had retreated during the previous night, we hastened in pursuit, amidst a heavy rainstorm, and after a fatiguing, disagreeable, all-day march, found the enemy in a strong position at Westover, on the James. As he showed no disposition to come out from his cover, our army, about July 8, reached its camps in the vicinity of Richmond. It had been a wonderful series of battles. General McClellan had made a most masterly retreat, escaping from woeful disaster. It was within the range of probability, in fact, almost a certainty, that if the Confederate army had been under as good discipline as it was two years later, the Union army would have been destroyed or made prisoners. As it was, the Federal loss was nearly 16,000 men and 54 pieces of artillery, while the Confederate loss was reckoned at about 19,000 men. Richmond had been saved, the enemy driven far away, General McClellan proving himself better at a retreat than going the other way.

        After the enemy had taken shelter under the protection of his gunboats at Westover, the Confederate commissariat attempted to reach the large amount of supplies held by the farmers along the James River. Numerous wagons were sent under escort to secure these supplies. Our Company D, going on one of these trips, was attacked by Union gunboats, into which we fired quite a number of volleys of musketry at close range, being sheltered by the river bank, and in return received a severe shelling. A few men were wounded, and I received a shot on the side of the foot, but not much of a hurt.

        From July 8 to August 13, a period of inactivity ensued, and as usual in that swampy country, with bad water, there was much sickness among the men. Lewis R. Skeens, of Company D, died in camp and was buried near by. Charles W. Peck, George W. Akers, William C. Fortner, James B. Henderson, John R. Crawford, and the writer were taken sick and sent to hospital at Richmond, where Peck and Akers died. Fortner, Henderson, Crawford and the writer improved rapidly, and were ready to return to our command by the middle of August.

        General McClellan's Union army was shut up at Westover, and being depleted by the ravages of sickness and death. This fact, together with the threatening attitude of a new Federal army in Northern Virginia, induced General Lee, who now had apparently nothing to fear from McClellan, to concentrate his army on the Rappahannock, and to that end about the middle of July had transferred General Jackson and his command to the Rapidan - which, by the early days of August, was in the vicinity of the enemy - and closed with him at Cedar Mountain on August 9, forcing the enemy to retire on Culpeper court house.

        Longstreet's division left Richmond Wednesday, August 13, for Gordonsville and the Rapidan, our brigade moving by rail. Learning that our division was moving, Fortner, Henderson, Crawford and the writer, the sick bunch above alluded to, applied for discharge from the hospital, and procured transportation via Lynchburg. Reaching Orange court house on the 18th, we left the railway, taking the track of the advancing army. The first day's tramp finished up Fortner and Henderson, both of whom were still feeble; and it also finished up my shoes, leaving me barefoot; in fact, had none I could wear until after our return from Maryland a month later. Leaving Fortner and Henderson on the road, Crawford and I pushed on, rejoining our command on the Rappahannock. Fortner overtook us in a few days, and in time to go into the battle of the 30th, when he received a severe wound. Poor Fortner! Misfortune seemed now to be his lot, going and coming.

        By August 20 the greater part of General Lee's army was on the Rappahannock, confronting the Union army under General John Pope, on the opposite bank. Pope, who, it is stated, had said a few days before in an address to his troops that "his headquarters were in the saddle, and that he never turned his back upon an enemy nor looked for lines of retreat" - which statement he later denied - had already run, and was in a position to have to run again, or at least to get to the rear to look after his line of retreat.

        Longstreet's division on August 21 moved forward to Kelley's ford, which we left on the 22d taking position near Beverly's, relieving some of General Jackson's command, which moved up the Rappahannock. For three or four days there was considerable skirmishing, with occasional artillery duels across the river. Again moving on the 24th to the assistance of Jackson's troops, engaged with the enemy at some of the upper fords of the Rappahannock, our march was retarded by the swollen condition of Hazel river and other small tributaries of the Rappahannock; reaching Jeffersonton that afternoon, during the progress of a lively cannonade. A halt was made by our division and Jackson's men moved up the river. Lieut. Hugh M. Patton had been appointed Adjutant of the seventh regiment, succeeding Adjutant Starke, and - Park had been appointed Sergeant Major to succeed George S. Tansill, disabled and discharged.

Chapter XII

  • General Jackson With His "Foot Cavalry."

  • On the Flank and in the Rear of General Pope's Army.

  • Longstreet's Division Diverting the Enemy's Attention on the Rappahannock.

  • March Through Thoroughfare Gap.

  • Haymarket to the Relief of Jackson's Men.

  • The Fight on the 29th.

  • Battle of August 30, 1862.

  • Kemper Commands Division, Corse Leads the Brigade.

  • Pope Defeated.

  • Casualties.

  • Rainstorm and March Through Leesburg to White's Ford.

  • Crossing the Potomac.

  • The Cry "Back to Washington" and not "On to Richmond."

  • "Maryland, My Maryland," "Bonnie Blue Flag."

  • Halt at Monocacy Bridge.

        GENERAL JACKSON with his "foot cavalry," as his men were often referred to, on account of their rapid marches and power of endurance, crossed the Rappahannock on August 25 and by swift marches placed his command at Manassas in the rear of General Pope's army, and between it and Washington - our division (Longstreet's) amusing General Pope on the Rappahannock by making sortie in order to divert his attention from General Jackson's movement.

        Longstreet's division crossed the river near Amissville on Tuesday, the 26th, reaching Thoroughfare Gap in the afternoon of the 28th; the march having been somewhat disturbed by a body of the enemy's cavalry. The enemy held the east side of the Gap in large force. The evening was spent in reconnoitering, getting into position to carry the Gap. Our rations consisted of green corn and fresh beef. Numbers of the men were without shoes, including the writer. Some horses belonging to the wagons or ambulances broke from their fastenings during the night, running through the camp and creating quite a stir, as someone called out, "Yankee Cavalry!" No damage was done, except the loss of an ear by one man from the stroke of a horse's hoof. The man yelled, "I've got a one ear furlough."

        The Gap next morning was flanked by our troops, the enemy scurrying away in time to save his face. After clearing the Gap and reaching the vicinity of the little village of Haymarket, there could be heard distinctly seven or eight miles away the roar of artillery. The day was warm, the roads dusty, and the men suffered for water. It was pathetic to see the boys with feet bare and bleeding endeavoring to keep pace with their comrades.

        A little past noon on the 29th, we arrived in the vicinity of the battleground, and not long thereafter the roar of battle to our left informed us that Jackson's men were hotly engaged. Later in the evening, the brigades of Hood and Evans, of Longstreet's division, engaged a portion of the enemy, driving him for some distance. The remainder of our division was in line of battle, prepared to attack, as we understood, a force of the enemy to the right, should opportunity offer. Our position was now between the Warrenton pike and Manassas Gap railway - where we were still subsisting on roasting ears and fresh beef; no large quantity at that, but the Confederate soldier ever bore his privations with less complaint than would be supposed by those who did not know his enthusiasm for cause and country.

        On the morning of the 30th, during skirmishing and artillery fire along the lines, the command to which we belonged moved forward a short distance, resting near an old rail fence which ran on and along a narrow country road. All firing ceased about noon, and quiet continued until about 3 o'clock P. M., when it was broken by the lumbering of artillery and the crash of small arms. While lying on the road referred to, A. J. Thompson and John Q. Martin, of Company D, came near having a serious fight, which was finally terminated by the interference of Colonel Patton. In a few minutes after this trouble, the battle opened on the left, rolling towards us. The order came, and the brigade, under command of Colonel Corse, went forward at double quick, over a field, through the woods, and into open ground, where the enemy was in line of battle. The charge of the division under General Kemper, the brigade under Colonel Corse, was impetuous and most gallant, routing the Union infantry and capturing a Maine battery and some regimental flags. General Pope's army was defeated and in retreat. It was now dark. The forces engaged on the Union side, under General Pope, in this series of battles around Manassas amounted to 74,578 men; those on the side of the Confederates, 49,077. The casualties in the Union army were 1,747 killed, 8,452 wounded, 4263 missing; aggregate, 14,462. On the side of the Confederates, 1468 were killed, 7563 wounded, and 81 missing; aggregate, 9112. Thirty Union field guns were captured by the Confederates, with 20,000 small arms, including a number of colors.

        Our brigade loss was 33 killed, 240 wounded, and one missing; aggregate, 274. The regimental loss was Col. W. T. Patton, Lieut. Col. C. C. Flowerree, Major Swinler, Adjutant Patton and Sergt. Major Park, all of whom were severely wounded, Major Swinler losing a leg, and Adjutant Patton and Sergt. Major Park being disabled for further service. The loss including those mentioned was five killed, 48 wounded; aggregate 53.

        The loss in my company was 16, equal to about one-third of the regimental loss: John Q. Martin, killed; wounded, Lieutenant John W. Mullins and 14 privates, viz: William H. Carr, John S. Dudley, Elbert S. Eaton, Adam Thompson, William C. Fortner, James H. Fortner, Francis H. Farley, J. Tyler Frazier, John W. Hight, G. L. Wilburn, H. J. Wilburn, William I. Wilburn, James J. Nye and Washington R. C. Vass. The two latter were mortally wounded, Vass dying that night and Nye a few days thereafter. A. L. Fry had been sent with our wounded Lieutenant Mullins to Warrenton, and was there captured by the enemy after the army had crossed the Potomac.

        I must speak here of some little incidents in connection with this battle which I think worthy of notice. The advance of the brigade in the charge encountered a rail fence, a short distance beyond which was the enemy's battery, and its battle line of infantry supports. When near the fence, fearless Lieutenant-Colonel Flowerree - a mere boy, scarcely 21 years of age - shouted: "Up to the fence, 7th regiment, and give them h-l!"

        In closing on the battery, the man at the breach was in the act of firing, when bold Ike Hare, of my company, directly in front of the guns, cried out, "Fire!" Whiz! went the ball over the heads of the men, who the next moment, with Colonel Skinner of the First Virginia regiment, were among the cannoneers, the Colonel, with heavy sabre in hand, cutting right and left, receiving a wound in the encounter which retired him from the service.

        I went out to help gather up the wounded, and to get me a pair of trousers and shoes, both of which I had need of, and which I procured, selecting a dead Union soldier about my size. His shoes I could not wear, as they were too small, and I gave them to a comrade; and I almost regretted having put on his trousers, for they were inhabited by the same sort of graybacks common to the Confederate and Union soldiers. After more than 50 years the thought of this wretched parasite makes my flesh itch. But these pests were unavoidable to soldiers continually on the march through mud, mire, and over dusty roads, without opportunity to cleanse their clothes or make a change thereof, and this was particularly so with the Confederate soldier, who seldom had, or could procure a change of raiment.

        In front of our regiment fell mortally wounded Colonel Fletcher Webster, of Massachusetts, the only son of Daniel Webster, where he lay until next day.

        As was usual following the great battles of our war, there came down that night, and continuing the most of the next two days, a heavy downpour of rain; a great blessing to the wounded, who needed the cooler temperature, as some relief at least from the warm and oppressive heat.

        Our time on Sunday was occupied in burying the dead and caring for the wounded, then being relieved by others. On Monday, September 1, followed the command of General Jackson to Chantilly, where he had a heavy engagement with the enemy. From here we marched on the 3d, 4th and 5th, passing through Leesburg and to White's Ford on the Potomac River, where camp was made on the evening of the 5th.

        At Leesburg an order came for all sick and shoeless men to remain there: an unfortunate order, in some respects, as it was construed by a great many of the men to mean just anyone who did not want to go over the river into Maryland. There had already been large depletion of the ranks, after leaving Richmond, caused by straggling - partly by shoeless and sick men, and partly, doubtless, from other causes. Rapid marching and insufficient, indifferent, or no food, had much to do with the straggling. Judging other commands by my own, I can state that much too large a number of men remained at Leesburg, stretching the pretext to cover far more than was intended by the order. But when it is remembered that the army within a period of ninety days had fought not less than eleven pitched battles, sustaining losses in the aggregate of fully thirty-five thousand men, and that in addition to this they had engaged in many skirmishes, in which numbers of men were lost, and that the use of bad water and bad or insufficient food had depleted the ranks by thousands; and again, further considering that a large portion of the army had marched from Richmond to the Potomac, hundreds shoeless and more becoming so - it is not strange there were so many stragglers, sick and barefooted men. They amounted to probably 20,000. I think a great many remained at Leesburg who were not sick or barefoot, because of their aversion to fighting beyond Virginia territory, north of the Potomac. In one or more of these things enumerated, I may say thousands of men found excuses, or made them, to fall out of ranks along the line of march, finally to halt at Leesburg - men whose help was sorely needed at Sharpsburg.

        The Potomac River was forded on the morning of September 6, amid the singing of "Maryland, My Maryland," and the shouts and cheering of the men. "Back to Washington," the cry, instead of "On to Richmond," which we had heard from our foes. Winchester was made the rendezvous for all the sick, lame, shoeless and others who remained as we passed Leesburg.

        That night we camped at a little village, or crossroad hamlet, I think called Buckeystown. Next day, the 7th, a halt was made at the railway bridge over the Monocacy, two miles or more from Frederick, Maryland. Many of the shoeless, and others too plucky to remain at Leesburg, still kept their places with their comrades, following the fortunes of the army throughout the campaign. I was one of the number that made this tramp with bare feet.

Chapter XIII

  • A Soldier's Equipment.

  • Washing His Clothes.

  • How He Ate and Slept.

  • March Through Frederick.

  • Middletown.

  • Hagerstown.

  • A Soldier in Active Service in the Field.

  • What He Possesses.

  • Indications of Southern Sympathy.

  • The Return from Hagerstown.

  • Battle of Boonsboro and Casualties.

  • Retreat to Sharpsburg and Battle.

  • Thirteen Days in Maryland.

  • Back in Virginia.

        A MUSKET, cartridge box with forty rounds of cartridges, cloth haversack, blanket and canteen made up the Confederate soldier's equipment. No man was allowed a change of clothing, nor could he have carried it. A gray cap, jacket, trousers and colored shirt - calico mostly - made up a private's wardrobe. When a clean shirt became necessary, we took off the soiled one, went to the water, usually without soap, gave it a little rubbing, and if the sun was shining, hung the shirt on a bush to dry, while the wearer sought the shade to give the shirt a chance. The method of carrying our few assets was to roll them in a blanket, tying each end of the roll, which was then swung over the shoulder. At night this blanket was unrolled and wrapped around its owner, who found a place on the ground with his cartridge box for a pillow. We cooked but little, having usually little to cook. The frying pan was in use, if we had one.

        We remained three days at Monocacy, during which time the bridge was destroyed by our engineers. The morning of Wednesday, September 10, our division marched through Frederick, Middletown, Boonsboro, and to Hagerstown, reaching the latter place the evening of the 11th and going into camp half a mile to the south of the town. Subsistence was still a pressing need, green corn and fresh beef becoming monotonous.

        In Frederick our hearts were made glad by unmistakable signs of friendship and sympathy. A bevy of pretty girls, singing "Maryland, My Maryland," on seeing our battle flag inscribed "Seven Pines," proposed "three cheers for the battle flag of Seven Pines," which were heartily and lustily given by us. In Middletown we met no smiles, but a decided Union sentiment was in evidence. In Hagerstown we observed indications and heard some expressions of Southern sentiment, but none that satisfied us that they were ready, and willing to shed their blood for the Southern cause.

        The troops of Stonewall Jackson, together with those of McLaws and Walker, were now rapidly moving to invest and capture the Union garrison of some 13,000 men, at Harper's Ferry. During the march from Frederick, the Confederate rear was protected by a cavalry force under General Stuart, and infantry under General D. H. Hill. In the wake of this rear guard, following leisurely was the Union army under General McClellan, quite a hundred thousand strong, including a powerful artillery of 300 guns.

        On Sunday, just before noon of the 14th, the long roll sounded calling the men into line, and a quick movement was made east in the direction of Boonsboro and Turner's Gap. Wagons, artillery and ambulances cleared the road, giving us the right of way. At Hagerstown was left General Toombs' Georgia brigade, and one regiment of G. T. Anderson's to watch a Federal gathering force just across the Maryland line. The day was hot, the road hard and dusty, the march rapid - so much so that many of the men broke down, falling by the wayside. The emergency demanded the presence of our division on the field of battle, which we knew, having learned on our way that General Hill's division had been attacked at Turner's Gap beyond Boonsboro by a largely superior force, perhaps by the larger part of General McClellan's Union army. Let it now be remembered that this army made fourteen miles to the immediate vicinity of the battleground in three and a half hours - good time for a Hamiltonian horse. Now with other troops we were hurried up the mountain to the right of the main gap (Turner's), and after getting near the firing line, and finding Confederate troops there holding the enemy in steady fight, our steps were retraced to the Gap. From thence we were ordered to the left, climbing the mountain side in full view of the enemy to our right, and in range of one of his batteries on a plateau to our right rear, which threw shot and shell thick and fast, striking the head of the leading company of my regiment and killing one man instantly. On reaching the crest of the mountain we found ourselves face to face with the enemy and close up to them, and under fire before we were able to get into formation. The brigades of Rodes and Evans on the left were engaged in strong combat with the force in their front, and as soon as Garnett's and Jenkins' brigades filled the space on the right and connected with Colquit's Georgia brigade, which was astride the turnpike, the fighting along the line became general and fierce, as much so as brave men on both sides could make it.

        The writer's brigade was now in a body of open timber, among stones - large boulders, with some fallen timber along the line, behind which, lying down, the men took shelter as best they could; the enemy occupying a skirt of woods with a strip of open land between their position and ours. For two or more hours the battle raged, or until darkness fell, the enemy making repeated but unsuccessful efforts to dislodge our men. The firing having ceased, there was heard in our front the tramp of the enemy's feet, evidently preparing to renew the assault. In a few minutes, a few yards to the right, in which lay a portion of the brigade in the edge of a field, where at the beginning of the battle was standing corn (now cut to the ground) came the sound of a voice, "There they are, men! Fire on them!" Suddenly came a sheet of flame with a deafening crash from the guns of each of the combatants, plainly disclosing them to be within a few feet of each other. The flame from the respective muskets seemed to intermingle. The well-directed fire of the Confederates caused confusion in the enemy's ranks and compelled them to retire. Among the casualties on our side from this rencounter was Adjutant John W. Daniel of the 11th Virginia, who received a severe wound in the hand. This same Daniel served with distinction in the United States Senate, dying a year or so ago. Such was the character of many a noble man engaged in this horrid game of death.

        It was now 9 o'clock or after and intensely dark, especially in the timber where we were. Wounded comrades had to be removed and cared for; this had to be done quietly, as the enemy was in whispering distance. As heretofore stated, Company D of the 7th Virginia carried into the battle of Second Manassas forty men, of which sixteen were killed and wounded, leaving twenty-four, including commissioned officers. After crossing the Potomac and on entering the battle at Boonsboro Gap, we had twenty-one commissioned officers and men. In this battle were lost four men: T. P. Mays, killed; James Cole, mortally wounded; George Knoll, severely, and John R. Crawford, slightly wounded. Mays was serving in the capacity of ensign of the regiment, and died at the front, where danger was met and glory won, with that flag which he had so gallantly, proudly and defiantly borne aloft on many victorious fields. Brave and undaunted, he ever led where duty called, sharing the hardships and privations of camp life, the march and dangers of battle, without a murmur, and dying with his flag unfurled and its staff clenched in his hands. May the memory of Tapley P. Mays rest in peace.

        With two commissioned officers, Captain Bane and Lieutenant Stone, and fifteen men we left the field a little after 9 o'clock at night, carrying one of the wounded, George Knoll, who had an ankle bone fractured. Knoll was borne on the back of Isaac Hare a mile or more to the hospital in Boonsboro.

        The officers and men of Company D who went into the battle of Boonsboro were Capt. R. H.

Page 143

Bane, Lieut. E. M. Stone; men of the line, Travis Burton, John R. Crawford, James Cole, John S. Dudley, John A. Hale, Isaac Hare, B. L. Hoge, J. J. Hurt, John F. Jones, David E. Johnston, George Knoll, John Meadows, T. P. Mays, W. W. Munsey, William D. Peters, W. H. H. Snidow, R. M. Stafford, Thomas S. Taylor and A. J. Thompson. The cook in Company D, Alexander Bolton, remained with the supply trains and was not in the engagement.

        The forces in this battle on the Federal side, according to the report of General McClellan, numbered 30,000, while the Confederate force, as stated by General D. H. Hill and others, was 9000. The Federal loss was 1813 in fifty-nine infantry regiments engaged; 325 killed, 1403 wounded, and 85 missing. The Confederate loss was 224 killed, 860 wounded, and 800 made prisoners. There are but few regimental reports of losses, therefore I am unable to give those in the 7th Virginia. I am satisfied that of the four brigades of Evans, Kemper, Garnett and Jenkins, sent late in the evening to reinforce the Confederate left, not more than one thousand men reached the firing line, but these were iron soldiers equal to the emergency, holding more than 5000 of the enemy at bay until we were ready to leave the field. The superb fighting in this battle -  if at this day a fight can be called something superb - prevented the enemy from occupying the Gap, thus sealing the fate of the Union garrison at Harper's Ferry, which surrendered the following morning, the tidings whereof came to us about noon, causing much rejoicing.

        Now set in an all night's march to the scene of the struggle at Sharpsburg, called in the North "Antietam," among the most gigantic and awful in the history of warfare. When daylight came Monday, we were at Keedysville, midway between the points mentioned, not having reached the field of Sharpsburg until 12 o'clock. Having been on our feet all night, without sleep or food, save green corn or apples, placed us in no cheerful mood, but in good fighting temper, as hungry soldiers fight better than well fed ones. Numbers of men straggled off along the march, and even after the Antietam was crossed, in search of food, a number of whom did not get back in the ranks for the battle.

Chapter XIV

  • Number of Men for Action in Kemper's Brigade.

  • General D. R. Jones' Division.

  • Confederate Cavalry.

  • General Lee Playing Bluff with McClellan.

  • The Opening of the Battle.

  • Burnside's Attack and Repulse.

  • The Casualties.

  • Re-crossing the Potomac.

        WHEN Kemper's brigade was called to action at Sharpsburg, it did not number 400 muskets. The only regimental report accessible of the number going into action and the loss is that of Colonel Corse of the 17th Virginia (himself wounded), who says he led into the action fifty-five officers and men, all of whom were lost but five. The 1st Virginia did not number more than 30, the 11th Virginia 85, the 24th probably 110, and I know (for I counted them) that the 7th Virginia had but 117, Company D having but two commissioned officers and fifteen men before action began. Sergeant Taylor, sent in quest of rations, did not return with the food until the battle had ended. John S. Dudley, on the skirmish line, was wounded and captured. He, with Taylor, made the fifteen, leaving for battle two officers and thirteen men. Kemper's brigade belonged to General D. R. Jones' division, which was composed of the brigades of Jenkins, Garnett, Jones, under Colonel Geo. T. Anderson, Drayton, Kemper and Toombs, numbering on that morning, by the report of General Jones, 2400 men - far too many.

        The division of General Jones held the ground in front and southeast of Sharpsburg, extending from the Boonsboro-Sharpsburg pike along the ridges and range of hills in front, south and east of the old road to Harper's Ferry, nearly a mile in length, covering the approaches from what has since been known as Burnside's bridge over the Antietam. Robertson's cavalry brigade, under Colonel Thomas T. Munford, was in observation on the extreme right along the Antietam and toward the Potomac; General Stuart, with General Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry brigade, the 13th Virginia regiment of infantry, with a number of batteries holding the extreme Confederate left, Hampton's cavalry brigade not in the fight, but in reserve, in rear of Stuart's position.

        It is stated upon authority that during Monday, September 15, and for most of Tuesday, the 16th, General Lee confronted General McClellan's Union army with only the divisions of Longstreet and D. H. Hill, numbering all told 10,000 men, while General McClellan had 60,000 men then facing Lee.

        In the afternoon of Monday, and continuing for the most of Tuesday, the Federal batteries across the Antietam kept up a lively fire, during which the troops, our brigade included, frequently shifted position, showing our flags first at one and then at another place, being exposed to the artillery fire, and getting a severe shelling. General Lee was playing bluff with McClellan, who was led to believe - and so reported to his government - that he was confronted not only by "a strong position, but by a strong force" - imaginary numbers, not real.

        Late in the evening of Tuesday the firing to the left seemed to increase. We heard not only the artillery fire but the rattle of musketry for quite a time after dark. Before daylight on Wednesday, the 17th, the artillery opened vigorously on the left, followed by the crash of small arms, the battle raging with intense fury for hours. From our position on the right we could not see the combatants, but could hear the crash of small arms and the wild rebel yell. As long as we could hear this yell we felt that things were going our way.

        The battle which began on the left had at noon extended to the right until the Confederate troops holding the open ground on the left front of Sharpsburg were within our view. We discovered at this time a straggling retreating line of Confederates closely followed by a solid blue line, which soon met the fire of a Confederate battery, causing it to retire.

        Now affairs in our front began to claim our attention. The 24th Virginia regiment was detached from the brigade and sent a half mile to

the right, and shortly thereafter the 7th Virginia under Captain Phil S. Ashby was detached and hurried to the right, taking position in front of the old road leading from Sharpsburg to Harper's Ferry, between the position held by the 1st, 11th and 17th Virginia regiments of the brigade, and that held by the 24th regiment. Upon the advance of the enemy we dropped back into the old road referred to. Captain Ashby had been a soldier in our war with Mexico, was a brave man, and when he had placed the regiment in the road, seeing the advance of the enemy he drew his sword, saying: "Men, we are to hold this position at all hazards. Not a man leave his place. If need be, we will die together here in this road." Putting our muskets through the board fence, and with fingers on the triggers, we awaited the enemy's approach through a strip of corn, some forty yards away. *

        Colonel Geo. T. Anderson's brigade of D. R. Jones' division had early in the morning been detached and sent to the aid of General Jackson, and Garnett's brigade had been taken away and placed in position to cover the front of Sharpsburg. General Lee had stripped his right in aid of his left, which was being sorely pressed, leaving General Jones to hold the right with the small

* The headlong rush of Archer's brigade across the front of the 7th Virginia regiment prevented its firing into the enemy.

brigades of Jenkins, Garnett, Drayton, Kemper and Toombs, whose numbers I will later attempt to give.

        Two of General Toombs' regiments, the 15th and 17th Georgia, were guarding ammunition trains, and he, with the 2d and the 20th Georgia, and 50th Georgia of Drayton's brigade - in all numbering 403 men - with a company of sharpshooters and a battery, was ordered to the defense of the bridge (Burnside's). On Wednesday morning at an early hour General Burnside, who had been ordered to carry the bridge and advance to the heights at Sharpsburg, assailed General Toombs' men at the bridge. The stream is small, and at the time of the battle afforded but little water - could have been waded in dozens of places. Why the bridge? Burnside made the effort to carry the bridge, was five times repulsed by Toombs' small force, losing a large number of men in killed and wounded - exacting, however, from Toombs' regiments heavy toll, for his 2d Georgia lost one-half its numbers, and the 20th Georgia suffered heavily. General Toombs, finding the enemy crossing the stream at a ford below the bridge, and the position no longer tenable, withdrew his men and retired to the heights on which Jones' four brigades - Jenkins', Garnett's, Drayton's and Kemper's - were posted. General Toombs was joined on the way by his 15th and 17th Georgia, and Major Little's battalion of 140 Georgia men. His 20th Georgia had been sent to replenish its ammunition, and only part of these men returned in time for the final contest.

        The enemy came in bold march at 4 P. M. He came in fine style and good order until probably half way from the Antietam to the crest of the heights, whereon stood the depleted Confederate battalions of Jenkins, Garnett, Drayton and Kemper, when he encountered the Confederate skirmish line posted behind stone and rail fences. These skirmishes repulsed and routed the Union skirmishers, making it so hot for the enemy's front battle line that it was only able to push forward by its mere momentum, but on it came, overrunning, killing, wounding and capturing the entire skirmish line, the men thereof remaining in their places, firing until he reached the muzzles of their muskets. The enemy's battle line overreached Kemper's right by several hundred yards, exposing McIntosh's battery, the men thereof for the time being forced to abandon their guns. Kemper's and Drayton's men were broken off, outflanked and forced back to the outskirts of the village.

        General A. P. Hill with five small Confederate brigades which had left Harper's Ferry that morning, marching seventeen miles, reached the field at the opportune moment. Leaving two of his brigades to guard the approach from a ford on his right, General Hill threw the brigades of Gregg, Archer and Branch on the enemy's left front and flank, while General Toombs, who had circled around the enemy's left, being joined by the men of Kemper, Jenkins, Garnett and Drayton, together with Hill's three brigades, with a wild yell charged, the Confederate batteries opening fiercely; the enemy was driven from the field, mostly in disorder, fleeing to the banks of the Antietam for shelter. The field was won, the day was ours. In this headlong Confederate charge, General Branch of Hill's division was killed; General Gregg of the same division and General Toombs of Jones' division, wounded. Federal General Rodman was mortally wounded. The 24th and 7th Virginia suffered a few casualties in killed and wounded, mostly from the artillery fire, a few by musket balls. My company lost Hare, and Dudley wounded, the latter captured on the skirmish line.

        With the utter defeat of General Burnside's Federal Army Corps, the battle ended, and Kemper's brigade occupied that night and the next day the same position it held when the battle in our front opened.

        No fiercer, bloodier one day's conflict occurred during the war than the battle of Sharpsburg, which was fought on the part of the Confederates by a worn out, broken down, naked, barefooted, lame and starved soldiery, against a far superior force of brave, well rested, well clothed and well fed veterans. It was an all day, stand up, toe-to-toe and face-to-face fight, just as close as brave American soldiers could make it, and in none other did Southern individuality and self reliance - characteristics of the Confederate soldier - shine more brilliantly or perform a more important part. It was on this field that strategy and military science won the day for the Confederates. It was mind over matter. General Lee, the greatest military man of the age, was on the field, wielding the blade that was so admirably tempered, which brought blood and destruction at every stroke.

        The failure of the Union soldiers to win this battle and utterly crush the Confederates, was no fault of theirs; they had the numbers and equipment, were courageous and brave. The truth is, their leader was timid, overcautious, and outgeneraled, fought his battle in detail, and was defeated in detail. General Burnside's, the largest single attacking corps, was beaten before he had his columns fairly deployed, and this because the Confederates outmaneuvered him on the field, had the flanks of his assaulting columns turned before he knew there was any Confederate force on the ground to turn them. Upon this occurring, he lost control of the battle, and the only thing apparent to him was to get away as quickly as possible, which he did, though his battle had not lasted an hour.

        The force engaged in this battle on the Confederate right, on the Union side, was that of General Burnside's 9th army corps, consisting of twenty-nine regiments of infantry, six batteries of artillery, and two companies of cavalry, making, according to the most reliable information obtainable, an aggregate of 13,083. His losses were: Killed, 436; wounded, 1796; missing, 115; total, 2349.

        On the Confederate side the battle was fought by the brigades of Jenkins, Garnett, Toombs, Kemper and Drayton ( two regiments, 51st Georgia and 15th South Carolina); Gregg's, Archer's and Branch's (less the 18th North Carolina, on detached duty), of Hill's division. The 24th and the 7th Virginia, except their skirmishers, did not pull a trigger, but were under the fire of the artillery and partly that of infantry. Nor did the 18th North Carolina take part in the battle.

        From the best information I have been able to obtain, from the official reports and otherwise, I fix the number of Confederates in this battle against General Burnside's 13,083 men as follows:


  • Jenkins' brigade. . . 500

  • Garnett's brigade. . . 250

  • Drayton's brigade (51st Ga. & 15th S. C. Regmts.). . . 200

  • Kemper's brigade. . . 300

  • Toombs' brigade (including Maj. Little's bat., 140) . . . 600

  • Total Jones' Division . . . 1850

  • A. P. Hill's three brigades, less 18th North Carolina, detached . . . 1900

  • Total, both divisions. . . 3750

        Casualties - General Jones reports, including the battle of Boonsboro, 1435. Toombs' brigade was not at Boonsboro, and the brigade commanded by Colonel Geo. T. Anderson was detached in the early morning, and we have no reports from the 28th Virginia regiment of Garnett's brigade, and only in part from Toombs' regiments, and but from one regiment of Kemper's. Approximately, however, the losses were as follows:

  • Col. Walker, commanding brigade of Jenkins, reports . . . 210

  • Taking 4 regiments of Garnett's and averaging the 5th . . . 80

  • Drayton's two regiments, estimated . . . 100

  • Kemper's regiments, estimated . . . 160

  • Toombs, stated . . . 346

  • Total . . . 996

        The disparity in numbers on this part of the field was probably greater than on any other - nearly three and a half to one.

        There has been, and probably will always be, uncertainty as to the number of men General Lee had in the battle of Sharpsburg. Colonel Taylor, of the staff of General Lee, and Adjutant General of the army, puts the number at 35,250 - including cavalry and artillery, putting the infantry force at 27,255. This is surely incorrect for the reasons: first, that the returns of the army on the 20th of July, 1862, a few days before the movement of the army to North Virginia from Richmond began, show the total cavalry 3740. In the second place the fact is well known that the cavalry and artillery had been engaged in the battle of Cedar Run, the battles around Manassas, and at South Mountain, Harper's Ferry, Crampton's Pass, and Boonsboro, and the losses must have been large; and again, there were only three brigades of Confederate cavalry at Sharpsburg - Lee's, Hampton's and Robertson's, the latter under Munford, and there is no evidence that either of the two latter named fired a shot at Sharpsburg. Lee's brigade could not have numbered more than a third of the cavalry force, say 1500 - a liberal estimate - and the artillerists 1800. We have 3300. A careful examination of all the sources of information available to me, including official reports, and my own personal knowledge and observation on the march and on the field, inclines me strongly to the opinion and belief that the Confederate troops on the field of Sharpsburg on the firing line and actually engaged on the 17th of September numbered:


  • Jackson's division . . . 1600

  • Ewell's division . . . 3400

  • D. H. Hill's division . . . 3000

  • D. R. Jones' division . . . 1850

  • A. P. Hill's division . . . 1900

  • Hood's division . . . 2000

  • McLaws' division . . . 2893

  • R. H. Anderson's division . . . 3500

  • J. G. Walker's division . . . 3200

  • Geo. T. Anderson's brigade . . . 300

  • N. G. Evans' division . . . 1500

  • Lee's cavalry brigade . . . 1500

  • Artillerists . . . 1800

  • Total . . . 28,443

  • Note: - There is no evidence that Armistead's brigade of R. H. Anderson's division drew trigger in this battle.

  • The Confederate casualties in the Maryland campaign as given in the War Records . . . 13,609

  • The Federal casualties, including the garrison at Harper's Ferry . . . 27,767

  • Deducting the Harper's Ferry garrison, we have the Federal losses of the campaign . . . 15,203

  • Deducting Federal losses at Boonsboro Gap of 1813, Crampton's Gap 533, we have approximately as the Federal loss in battle of Sharpsburg . . . 12,856