Part 3 out of 12
In some countries, to be called a conscript or drafted man was
considered a stigma, but not so in the South. There is little doubt,
had a call been made for volunteers, any number could have been had at
a moment's notice, for there were hundreds and thousands at the South
only awaiting an opportunity to enter the army. In fact, there were
companies and regiments already organized and officered, only awaiting
arms by the government, but these organizations were all raw men,
and at this time it was believed to fill up the old companies with
recruits, thus putting seasoned troops side by side with raw ones,
would enhance the efficiency of the army, retain its discipline, and
esprit de corps.
Then, again, the farms had to be managed, the slaves kept in
subjection, and the army fed, and the older men were better qualified
for this service than the young. In reality, all were in the service
of the country, for while the younger men were fighting in the ranks,
the older ones were working in the fields and factories to furnish
them clothes, provisions, and munitions of war. Our government had no
means at home, no ships on the ocean, little credit abroad, and our
ports all blockaded. So all had to enter the service either as a
fighter or a worker, and our wisest men thought it the better policy
to allow the young men the glory upon the field, while the old men
served at home. On the 13th of May all companies were allowed to elect
their officers, both company and regimental, and enter the service
for two more years. As I said in the commencement of this work, at
the breaking out of the war men generally selected as officers the old
militia officers for company officers and veterans of the Mexican
War for field officers. General Bonham had been a Colonel in Mexico.
Williams, of the Third, had led a company from Newberry to that
far-off land. Kershaw went as First Lieutenant. Cash, of the Eighth,
was a Major General of the militia at the breaking out of the war.
The greatest number of the first Colonels of regiments under the first
call were Mexican veterans. Another qualification that was considered
at the first organization was popularity--gentle, clever, and
kind-hearted. The qualification of courage or as a disciplinarian was
seldom thought of; for a man to be wanting in the first could not
be thought possible. Our men, who had known the proud feelings of
personal freedom, dreaded discipline and restraint, naturally turned
to those men for officers most conducive to their will and wishes. But
twelve months' service in trying campaigns made quite a change. What
they had once looked upon with dread and misgiving they now saw as
a necessity. Strict discipline was the better for both men and
the service. A greater number of the older officers, feeling their
services could be better utilized at home than in the army, and also
having done their duty and share by setting the example by enlistment
and serving twelve months, relinquished these offices to the younger
men and returned home. The younger, too, saw the advisability of
infusing in the organizations young blood--men more of their own age
and temperament--the stern necessity of military discipline, a closer
attendance to tactics and drills, better regulations, and above all,
courage. The organizations selected such men as in their opinions
would better subserve the interests of the service, and who had the
requisites for leadership. This is said with no disparagement to the
old officers, for truer, more patriotic, nor a braver set of men ever
drew a blade than those who constituted the old brigade during its
first organization. In fact, some who had served during the first
twelve months as officers, when they discovered their deficiency, or
that the men had more confidence in others, after a short respite at
home, returned and joined their old companies as privates. Was there
ever greater patriotism and unselfishness and less ostentation shown
as in the example of these men! It was but natural that men selected
almost at random, and in many instances unacquainted with a majority
of the men at enlistment unusual to military life, or the requirements
of an officer in actual service, could possibly be as acceptable as
those chosen after a year of service, and in close compact with the
SECOND REGIMENT. The Second Regiment chose as officers--
Colonel--Jno. D. Kennedy.
Lieutenant Colonel--A.S. Goodwin.
Chief Surgeon--Dr. F. Salmond.
Chaplains--Revs. McGruder and Smith.
I give below a list of the Captains, as well as the field officers,
of the Second Regiment during the war. There were many changes from
Lieutenants to Captains, and subsequent elections from the ranks to
Lieutenants, caused by the casualties of war, but space forbids,
and want of the facts prevents me from giving more than the company
commanders and the field officers.
Colonels--J.B. Kershaw, E.P. Jones, Jno. D. Kennedy, and Wm. Wallace.
Lieutenant Colonels--E.P. Jones, A.D. Goodwin, F. Gaillard, Wm.
Wallace, and J.D. Graham.
Majors--A.D. Goodwin, W.H. Casson, F. Gaillard, Wm. Wallace, I.D.
Graham, B.F. Clyburn, G.L. Leaphart.
Adjutants--A.D. Goodwin, E.E. Sill, and A. McNeil.
Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons--J.A. Maxwell and J.H. Nott.
Some of them went from Captains and Majors through all the grades to
Colonel. The following are the Captains, some elected at the first
organization, some at the reorganization, and others rose by promotion
Company A--W.H. Casson, M.A. Shelton, G.L. Leaphart, M.M. Maddrey.
Company B--A.D. Hoke, Wm. Pulliam, W. Powell, J. Caigle.
Company C--Wm. Wallace, S. Lorick, J.T. Scott, A.P. Winson.
Company D--J.S. Richardson, J.D. Graham, W. Wilder.
Company E--John D. Kennedy, elected Colonel, Z. Leitner, J.
Company F--W.W. Ferryman, W.C. China, G. McDowell.
Company G--J. Hail, J. Friesdale, J.P. Cunningham.
Company H--H. McManus, D. Clyburn.
Company I--G.B. Cuthbreath, Ralph Elliott, R. Fishburn, B.F. Barlow.
Company K--R. Rhett, J. Moorer, K.D. Webb, J.D. Dutart,--Burton, G.T.
Many changes took place by death and resignation. Scarcely any of the
field officers remained in the end. Many Captains of a low rank went
all the way to Colonels of regiments, and Third Lieutenants rose by
promotion to Captains. This shows the terrible mortality among the
officers. None of the first field officers but what had been killed or
incapacitated for service by wounds at the close of the war.
* * * * *
THIRD SOUTH CAROLINA REGIMENT.
James D. Nance, of Newberry, Captain of Company E, elected Colonel.
Conway Garlington, of Laurens, Captain of Company A, elected
W.D. Rutherford, of Newberry, formerly Adjutant, made Major.
Y.J. Pope, Newberry, formerly Orderly Sergeant of Company E, made
G.W. Shell, Laurens, Quartermaster.
J.N. Martin and R.N. Lowrance, Commissary.
Ed. Hicks, of Laurens, Sergeant Major.
All staff officers are appointed or recommended for appointment by the
Colonel of the regiment. The offices of Regimental Quartermaster
and Commissary, the encumbents heretofore ranking as Captains, were
abolished during the year, having one Quartermaster and one Commissary
for the brigade, the regiments having only Sergeants to act as such.
I will state here that some of the companies from each regiment had
reorganized and elected officers before the time of re-enlistment.
This is one reason why rank was not accorded in the regular order. In
the Third Regiment, Company E, Captain J.D. Nance, and perhaps several
others, had reorganized, taken their thirty days' furlough, and had
returned before the general order to reorganize and remain for two
more years or the war. The new organizations stood in the Third as
follows, by Captains:
Company A--Willie Hance, Laurens.
Company B--N. Davidson, Newberry.
Company C--R.C. Maffett, Newberry.
Company D--N.F. Walker, Spartanburg.
Company E--J.K.G. Nance--Newberry.
Company F--P. Williams, Laurens.
Company G--R.P. Todd--Laurens.
Company H--John C. Summer, Lexington.
Company I--D.M.H. Langston, Laurens.
Company K--S.M. Langford, Spartanburg.
Many changes took place in this regiment, some almost immediately
after the election and others in the battle that followed in a few
Captain Davidson died in two weeks after his election from disease,
and was succeeded by Lieutenant Thomas W. Gary, who had during the
first twelve months been Captain Davidson's Orderly Sergeant. It seems
the position of Orderly Sergeant was quite favorable to promotion,
for nearly all the Orderlies during the first twelve months were made
either Captains or Lieutenants.
Lieutenant Colonel Garlington being killed at Savage Station, Major
Rutherford was promoted to that position, while Captain Maffett was
made Major and Lieutenant Herbert Captain in his stead of Company C.
Captain Hance, of Company A, being killed at Fredericksburg, First
Lieutenant Robert Richardson became Captain.
Lieutenant R.H. Wright became Captain of Company E after the promotion
of Nance to Major in the latter part of the service.
Captain Williams, of Company F, was killed, and Lieutenant Wm. Deal
made Captain and commanded at the surrender. There may have been other
Captains of this company, but no data at hand.
John W. Watts became Captain of Company G after the promotion of
Captain Todd to Major and Lieutenant Colonel.
Captain Summer being killed at Fredericksburg, Lieutenant G.S. Swygert
became Captain, was disabled and resigned, and D.A. Dickert became
Captain and commanded to the end.
Captain Langston, of Company I, being killed, Lieutenant Jarred
Johnston became Captain, disabled at Chickamauga.
Company K was especially unfortunate in her commanders. Captain
Langford was killed at Savage Station; then Lieutenant L.P. Foster,
son of Lieutenant Colonel Foster, was promoted to Captain and killed
at Fredericksburg. Then W.H. Young was made Captain and killed at
Gettysburg. Then J.H. Cunningham became Captain and was killed at
Chickamauga. J.P. Roebuck was promoted and soon after taken prisoner.
First Lieutenant John W. Wofford commanded the company till the
surrender, and after the war became State Senator from Spartanburg.
Captain N.F. Walker was permanently disabled at Savage Station,
returned home, was appointed in the conscript bureau, and never
returned to active duty. He still retained his rank and office as
Captain of Company D, thereby preventing promotions in one of the most
gallant companies in Kershaw's Brigade.
It was at the battle of Fredericksburg that the regiment lost so
many officers, especially Captains, that caused the greatest changes.
Captains Hance, Foster, Summer, with nearly a dozen Lieutenants, were
killed there, making three new Captains, and a lot of new Lieutenants.
It was by the death of Captain Summer that I received the rank of
Captain, having been a Lieutenant up to that time. From December,
1862, to the end I commanded the company, with scarcely a change. It
will be seen that at the reorganization the Third Regiment made quite
a new deal, and almost a clean sweep of old officers--and with few
exceptions the officers from Colonel to the Lieutenants of least
rank were young men. I doubt very much if there was a regiment in the
service that had such a proportion of young men for officers.
I will here relate an incident connected with the name of Captain
Hance's family, that was spoken of freely in the regiment at the time,
but little known outside of immediate surroundings--not about
Captain Hance, however, but the name and connection that the incident
recalled, that was often related by the old chroniclers of Laurens.
Andrew Johnson, who was at the time I speak United States Senator from
Tennessee, and was on the ticket with Lincoln, for Vice-President of
the United States in his second race against McClellan, was elected,
and afterwards became President. As the story goes, and it is vouched
for as facts, Andrew Johnson in his younger days had a tailoring
establishment at Laurens, and while there paid court to the mother of
Captain Hance. So smitten was he with her charms and graces, he paid
her special attention, and asked for her hand in marriage. Young
Johnson was fine looking, in fact handsome, energetic, prosperous, and
well-to-do young man, with no vices that were common to the young men
of that day, but the great disparity in the social standing of the
two caused his rejection. The family of Hance was too exclusive at the
time to consent to a connection with the plebeian Johnson, yet
that plebeian rose at last to the highest office in the gift of the
American people, through the force of his own endowments.
* * * * *
SEVENTH SOUTH CAROLINA REGIMENT.
The Seventh Regiment was reorganized by electing--
Colonel--D. Wyatt Aiken, Abbeville.
Lieutenant Colonel--Elbert Bland, Edgefield.
Major--W.C. White, Edgefield.
Adjutant--Thomas M. Childs. Sergeant
Major--Amos C. Stalworth.
Company A--Stuart Harrison.
Company B--Thomas Huggins.
Company C--W.E. Cothran.
Company D--Warren H. Allen.
Company E--James Mitchell.
Company F--John S. Hard.
Company G--W.C. Clark.
Company H--H.W. Addison.
Company I--Benj. Roper.
Company K--Jno. L. Burris.
Company L--J.L. Litchfield.
Company M--Jerry Goggans.
I am indebted to Captain A.C. Waller, of Greenwood, for the following
brief summary of the Seventh after reorganization, giving the
different changes of regimental and company commanders, as well as the
commanders of the regiment during battle:
Colonel Aiken commanded at Savage Station, Malvern Hill, and Antietam,
till wounded at Gettysburg, after which he was ordered elsewhere.
Lieutenant Colonel Bland commanded at Fredericksburg,
Chancellorsville, and Chickamauga; killed in latter battle.
Major White commanded at Antietam after the wounding of Aiken, and
until he was himself killed at the enemy's battery, the farthest
advance of the day. Captain Hard had command at the close. Captain
Hard also led for a short while at Chickamauga after the death of
Bland, and fell at the head of his regiment on top of Pea Ridge.
Captain Goggans was in command at Knoxville, Bean Station, and the
Wilderness, until wounded.
Captain James Mitchell led the regiment in the charge at Cold Harbor,
and was in command at Spottsylvania.
Lieutenant Colonel Maffett, of the Third, was placed in command of
the Seventh during the Valley campaign under Early in 1864, and led
at Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek the 13th and 19th of September. Was
captured in October.
Lieutenant Colonel Huggins commanded from October till the surrender,
and at the battle of Averysboro and Bentonville.
Captain Goggans was promoted to Major after the battle of the
Wilderness, but resigned.
Company E was divided into two companies, E and M. Company H took the
place of Bland's, which became Company A.
Captain Stuart Harrison, Company A, resigned, being elected Clerk of
Court of Edgefield, and Lieutenant Gus Bart was made Captain.
John Carwile, First Lieutenant of Company A, acted as Adjutant after
the death of Adjutant Childs, and also on General Kershaw's staff.
Lieutenant James Townsend became Captain of Company B after the
promotion of Huggins to Lieutenant Colonel.
After Captain Hard's promotion James Rearden was made Captain of
Company E and was killed at Wilderness, and Lieutenant C.K. Henderson
Captain Wm. E. Clark, Company G, was killed at Maryland heights.
Lieutenant Jno. W. Kemp was made Captain and killed at the Wilderness.
Captain J.L. Burris, of Company K, was wounded at Antietam and
resigned. First Lieutenant J.L. Talbert having been killed at Maryland
Heights a few days before, Second Lieutenant Giles M. Berry became
Captain; he resigned, and Lieutenant West A. Cheatham was made Captain
Captain J.L. Litchfield, of Company I, was killed at Maryland Heights,
and First Lieutenant Litchfield was made Captain.
First Lieutenant P. Bouknight became Captain of Company M after the
promotion of Captain Goggans.
* * * * *
EIGHTH SOUTH CAROLINA REGIMENT.
The Eighth South Carolina Regiment was reorganized by electing--
Colonel--Jno. W. Henagan, Marlboro.
Lieutenant Colonel--A.J. Hoole, Darlington.
Major--McD. McLeod, Marlboro.
Adjutant--C.M. Weatherly, Darlington.
Assistant Surgeon--Dr. Maxy.
Company A--John H. Muldrow, Darlington.
Company B--Richard T. Powell, Chesterfield.
Company C--Thomas E. Powe, Chesterfield.
Company D--Robt. P. Miller, Chesterfield.
Company E--M.E. Keith, Darlington.
Company F--T.E. Howle, Darlington.
Company G--C.P. Townsend, Marlboro.
Company H--Duncan McIntyre, Marion.
Company I--A.T. Harllee, Marion.
Company K--Frank Manning, Marlboro.
Company L--Thomas E. Stackhouse, Marion.
Company M--Thomas E. Howle, Darlington.
Company L was a new company, and T.E. Stackhouse was made Captain;
also A.T. Harllee was made Captain of Company I. Company M was also a
After the reorganization the Generals' staffs were reduced to more
republican simplicity. General Kershaw was contented with--
Captain C.R. Holmes--Assistant Adjutant General.
Lieutenant W.M. Dwight--Adjutant and Inspector General.
Lieutenant D.A. Doby--Aide de Camp.
Lieutenant Jno. Myers--Ordnance Officer.
Major W.D. Peck--Quartermaster.
With a few privates for clerical service. General Kershaw had two
fine-looking, noble lads as couriers, neither grown to manhood, but
brave enough to follow their chief in the thickest of battle, or carry
his orders through storms of battles, W.M. Crumby, of Georgia, and
DeSaussure Burrows. The latter lost his life at Cedar Creek.
As I have thus shown the regiments and brigade in their second
organization, under the name it is known, "Kershaw's," and as all were
so closely connected and identified, I will continue to treat them
as a whole. The same camps, marches, battles, scenes, and experiences
were alike to all, so the history of one is the history of all. South
Carolina may have had, and I have no doubt did have, as good troops
in the field, as ably commanded as this brigade, but for undaunted
courage, loyalty to their leaders and the cause, for self-denials
and sacrifices, united spirits, and unflinching daring in the face of
death, the world has never produced their superiors. There was much to
animate their feelings and stimulate their courage. The older men had
retired and left the field to the leadership of the young. Men were
here, too, by circumstances of birth, education, and environment that
could scarcely ever expect to occupy more than a secondary place in
their country's history, who were destined to inferior stations in
life, both social and political,--the prestige of wealth and a long
family being denied them--still upon the battlefield they were any
man's equal. On the march or the suffering in camp, they were the
peers of the noblest, and when facing death or experiencing its pangs
they knew no superiors. Such being the feelings and sentiments of
those born in the humbler stations of life, what must have been the
goal of those already fortune's favorites, with a high or aristocratic
birth, wealth, education, and a long line of illustrious ancestors,
all to stimulate them to deeds of prowess and unparalleled heroism?
Such were the men to make the name of South Carolina glorious, and
that of "Kershaw" immortal. How many of these noble souls died that
their country might be free? the name of her people great? In the
former they lost, as the ends for which they fought and died were
never consummated. To-day, after nearly a half century has passed,
when we look around among the young and see the decadence of chivalry
and noble aspirations, the decline of homage to women, want
of integrity to men, want of truth and honor, individually and
politically, are we not inclined, at times, to think those men died
in vain? We gained the shadow; have we the substance? We gained an
unparalleled prestige for courage, but are the people to-day better
morally, socially, and politically? Let the world answer. The days of
knight-errantry had their decadence; may not the days of the South's
chivalry have theirs?
* * * * *
Battle of Seven Pines--Seven Days' Fight Around Richmond.
It was the intention of General Johnston to fall back slowly before
McClellan, drawing him away from his base, then when the Federal Corps
become separated in their marches, to concentrate his forces, turn and
crush him at one blow. The low, swampy, and wooded condition of the
country from Yorktown up the Peninsula would not admit of the handling
of the troops, nor was there any place for artillery practice to be
effective. Now that he had his forces all on the South side of
the Chickahominy, and the lands more rolling and firm, he began to
contemplate a change in his tactics. Ewell, with several detached
regiments under Whiting, had been sent in the Valley to re-enforce
that fiery meteor, Stonewall Jackson, who was flying through the
Shenandoah Valley and the gorges of the Blue Ridge like a cyclone, and
General Johnston wished Jackson to so crush his enemy that his
troops could be concentrated with his own before Richmond. But the
authorities at Richmond thought otherwise. It is true Jackson had been
worsted at Kernstown by Shields, but his masterly movements against
Banks, Fremont, Siegle, and others, gave him such prestige as to
make his name almost indispensable to our army. McDowell, with forty
thousand men, lay at Fredericksburg, with nothing in his front but
a few squadrons of cavalry and some infantry regiments. Johnston was
thus apprehensive that he might undertake to come down upon his flanks
and re-enforce "Little Mc." or the "Young Napoleon," as the commander
of the Federal Army was now called. On the 20th of May, Johnston heard
of two of the Federal Corps, Keyes' and Heintzleman's, being on the
south side of the Chickahominy, while the others were scattered
along the north banks at the different crossings. McClellan had his
headquarters six miles away, towards the Pamunkey River. This was
considered a good opportunity to strike, and had there been no
miscarriages of plan, nor refusals to obey orders, and, instead,
harmony and mutual understanding prevailed, the South might have
gained one of its greatest victories, and had a different ending
to the campaign entirely. G.W. Smith lay to the north of Richmond;
Longstreet on the Williamsburg Road, immediately in front of the
enemy; Huger on the James; Magruder, of which was Kershaw's Brigade
(in a division under McLaws), stretched along the Chickahominy above
All these troops were to concentrate near Seven Pines and there fall
upon the enemy's two corps, and beat them before succor could be
rendered. No Lieutenant Generals had as yet been appointed, senior
Major Generals generally commanding two divisions. The night before
the attack, General Johnston called his generals together and gave
them such instructions and orders as were necessary, and divided his
army for the day's battle into two wings, G.W. Smith to command
the left and Longstreet the right; the right wing to make the first
assault (it being on the south side of the York River Railroad).
G.W. Smith was to occupy the Nine Mile Road, running parallel with
Longstreet's front and extending to the river, near New Bridge, on the
Chickahominy. He was to watch the movements of the enemy on the other
side, and prevent Sumner, whose corps were near the New Bridge, from
crossing, and to follow up the fight as Longstreet and D.H. Hill
progressed. Magruder, with his own and McLaws' Division, supported
Smith, and was to act as emergencies required. Kershaw was now under
McLaws. Huger was to march up on the Charles City Road and put in on
Longstreet's left as it uncovered at White Oak Swamp, or to join his
forces with Longstreet's and the two drive the enemy back from the
railroad. Keyes' Federal Corps lay along the railroad to Fair Oaks;
then Heintzleman's turned abruptly at a right angle in front of
G.W. Smith. The whole was admirably planned, and what seemed to make
success doubly sure, a very heavy rain had fallen that night, May
30th, accompanied by excessive peals of thunder and livid flashes of
lightning, and the whole face of the country was flooded with water.
The river was overflowing its banks, bridges washed away or inundated
by the rapidly swelling stream, all going to make re-enforcement by
McClellan from the north side out of the question. But the
entire movement seemed to be one continual routine of blunders,
misunderstandings, and perverseness; a continual wrangling among the
senior Major Generals. The enemy had thrown up two lines of heavy
earthworks for infantry and redoubts for the artillery, one near Fair
Oaks, the other one-half mile in the rear. Longstreet and D.H. Hill
assaulted the works with great vigor on the morning of the 31st of
May, and drove the enemy from his first entrenched camp. But it seems
G.W. Smith did not press to the front, as was expected, but understood
his orders to remain and guard the crossing of the river. Huger lost
his way and did not come up until the opportunity to grasp the key to
the situation was lost, and then it was discovered there was a mistake
or misunderstanding in regard to his and Longstreet's seniority. Still
Huger waived his rank reluctantly and allowed Longstreet and Hill to
still press the enemy back to his second line of entrenchments. From
where we lay, inactive and idle, the steady roll of the musketry
was grand and exciting. There was little opportunity for ability and
little used, only by the enemy in their forts.
Several ineffectual attempts were made to storm these forts, and
to dislodge the enemy at the point of the bayonet. Finally R.H.
Anderson's Brigade of South Carolinians came up, and three regiments,
led by Colonel Jenkins, made a flank movement, and by a desperate
assault, took the redoubt on the left, with six pieces of artillery.
When Rhodes' North Carolina Brigade got sufficiently through the
tangle and undergrowth and near the opening as to see their way clear,
they raised a yell, and with a mad rush, they took the fort with
a bound. They were now within the strong fortress on the left and
masters of the situation. Colonel Jenkins was highly complimented by
the commanding General for his skill, and the energy and courage of
his men. The enemy worked their guns faithfully and swept the ranks of
Rhodes and Anderson with grape and canister, but Southern valor here,
as elsewhere, overcame Northern discipline. Many of the enemy fell
dead within the fort, while endeavoring to spike their guns.
Sumner, from the north side of the Chickahominy, was making frantic
efforts to cross the stream and come to the relief of sorely pressed
comrades. The bridges were two feet or more under water, swaying and
creaking as if anxious to follow the rushing waters below. It is
said the Federal General, Butler, called afterwards "Beast," covered
himself with glory by rushing at the head of his troops, in and
through the water, and succeeded in getting enough men on the bridge
to hold it down, while the others crossed over. But the reinforcements
came too late to aid their hard pressed friends. After the
entrenchments were all taken, the enemy had no other alternative but
to fall back in the dense forest and undergrowth, giving them shelter
until night, with her sable curtains, hid friend and foe alike. Just
as the last charge had been made, General Johnston, riding out in an
opening, was first struck by a fragment of shell, thereby disabling
him for further duty upon the field for a long time. The command of
the army now fell upon General G.W. Smith, who ordered the troops to
remain stationary for the night, and next morning, they were returned
to their original quarters. Kershaw and the other Brigadiers of
the division did not become engaged, as they were awaiting upon a
contingency that did not arise. It is true, the enemy were driven from
their strongly fortified position, and for more than a mile to the
rear, still the fruits of the victory were swallowed up in the loss
of so many good men, with no tangible or lasting results. From all the
facts known at the time, and those developed since, it is the opinion
that upon G.W. Smith rested the blame for the loss of the day. Had
he been as active or energetic as the other Major Generals, or had
he assumed responsibility, and taken advantage of events presenting
themselves during the battle, that could not be known beforehand, nor
counted in the plan of the battle, the day at Seven Pines might have
loomed up on the side of the Confederate forces with those at Gaines'
Mills or Second Manassas. But, as it was, it must be counted as one of
the fruitless victories of the war.
General Smith left the army next day, never to return to active
service. Here was a commentary on the question of the made soldier or
the soldier born. At West Point General Smith stood almost at the very
head of his class; at the commencement of the war, he was considered
as one of our most brilliant officers, and stood head and shoulders
above some of his cotemporaries in the estimation of our leaders and
the Department at Richmond. But his actions and conduct on several
momentous occasions will leave to posterity the necessity of
voting him a failure; while others of his day, with no training nor
experience in the science of war, have astonished the world with their
achievements and soldierly conduct. The soldiers were sorrowful and
sad when they learned of the fate of their beloved Commander-in-Chief.
They had learned to love him as a father; he had their entire
confidence. They were fearful at the time lest his place could
never be filled; and, but for the splendid achievement of their new
commander, R.E. Lee, with the troops drilled and disciplined by his
predecessor, and who fought the battles on the plans laid down by
him, it is doubtful whether their confidence could have ever been
transferred to another.
General Lee took command the next day, June the 1st, 1862. He did
not come with any prestige of great victory to recommend him to the
troops, but his bold face, manly features, distinguished bearing, soon
inspired a considerable degree of confidence and esteem, to be soon
permanently welded by the glorious victories won from the Chickahominy
to the James. He called all his Lieutenants around him in a few days
and had a friendly talk. He told none his plans--he left that to be
surmised--but he gained the confidence of his Generals at once.
The troops were set to work fortifying their lines from the James
to the Chickahominy, and up the latter stream to near Meadow Bridge.
Engineer corps were established, and large details from each regiment,
almost one-third of the number, were put to work under the engineers
strengthening their camps on scientific principles. The troops thought
they were to do their fighting behind these works, but strange to say,
out of the hundred of fortifications built by Kershaw's men during the
war, not one ever fired a gun from behind them.
[Illustration: Col. William Wallace, 2d S.C. Regiment. (Page 479)]
[Illustration: Col. Jno. W. Henagan, 8th S.C. Regiment, (Page 423)]
[Illustration: Lieut. Col. A.J. Hoole, 8th S.C. Regiment.
[Illustration: John M. Kinard, Acting Lieut. Col. 20 S.C. Reg.
On the 12th of June General Stuart started on his remarkable ride
around the army of McClellan, and gained for himself the name of
"Prince of Raiders." Starting out in the morning as if going away to
our left at a leisurely gait, he rode as far as Hanover Court House.
Before daylight next morning his troopers sprang into their saddles
and swept down the country between the Chickahominy and the Pamunkey
Rivers like a thunderbolt, capturing pickets, driving in outposts,
overturning wagon trains, and destroying everything with fire and
sword. He rides boldly across the enemy's line of communications,
coming up at nightfall at the Chickahominy, with the whole of
McClellan's army between him and Richmond. In this ride he came in
contact with his old regiment in the United States Army, capturing
its wagon trains, one laden with the finest delicacies and choicest
of wines. After putting the enemy to rout Stuart and his men regaled
themselves on these tempting viands, Stuart himself drinking a "bumper
of choice old Burgundy," sending word to his former comrades that he
"was sorry they did not stay and join him, but as it was, he would
drink their health in their absence." Finding the bridges destroyed,
he built a temporary one, over which the men walked and swam their
horses, holding on to the bridles. When all were safely over Stuart
sped like a whirlwind towards the James, leaving the enemy staring
wildly in mute astonishment at the very audacity of his daring. That
night he returned to his camps, having made in thirty-six hours the
entire circuit of the Federal Army. Stuart was a rare character.
Light hearted, merry, and good natured, he was the very idol of his
cavaliers. His boldness, dash, and erratic mode of warfare made him a
dreaded foe and dangerous enemy. One moment he was in their camps, on
the plains, shouting and slashing, and before the frightened sleepers
could be brought to the realization of their situation, he was far
over the foothills of the Blue Ridge or across the swift waters of the
During the first week after taking our position on the line, Magruder,
with his divisions of eight brigades, was posted high up on the
Chickahominy, nearly north of Richmond. McLaws, commanding Kershaw's,
Cobb's, Semmes', and Barksdale's Brigades, was on the left, the
first being South Carolinians, the next two Georgians, and the last
Mississippians. General D.R. Jones, with his own, Toombs', G.T.
Anderson's, and perhaps one other Brigade, constituted the right of
the corps. The army was divided in wings. Huger, the senior Major
General, commander on the right, next the James River, with Longstreet
next; but before the great battle Magruder was given the centre and
Longstreet the left with his divisions, and the two Hills', A.P. and
D.H. But after the coming of Jackson A.P. Hill's, called the "Light
Brigade," was placed under the command of the Valley chieftain.
While up on the Chickahominy, the enemy were continually watching our
movements from lines of balloons floating high up in the air, anchored
in place by stout ropes. They created quite a mystic and superstitious
feeling among some of the most credulous. One night while a member
of Company C, Third South Carolina, was on picket among some tangled
brushwood on the crest of the hill overlooking the river, he created
quite a stir by seeing a strange light in his front, just beyond the
stream. He called for the officer of the guard with all his might
and main. When the officer made his appearance with a strong
reinforcement, he demanded the reason of the untimely call. With fear
and trembling he pointed to the brilliant light and said:
"Don't you see 'em yonder? They are putting up a balloon."
"No," said the officer, "that's nothing but a star," which it really
"Star, hell! I tell you it's a balloon. Are the Yankees smart enough
to catch the stars?" It is enough to say the man carried the name of
"balloon" during the rest of his service.
A Federal battery was stationed immediately in our front, beyond the
river, supported by infantry. Some one in authority suggested the idea
of crossing over at night, break through the tangled morass on the
other side, and capture the outfit by a sudden dash. The day before
the Third South Carolina Regiment was formed in line and a call
made for volunteers to undertake this hazardous enterprise. Only one
hundred soldiers were required, and that number was easily obtained,
a great number being officers. At least twenty-five Lieutenants and
Captains had volunteered. The detachment was put under Captain Foster
as chief of the storming party, and the next day was occupied in
drilling the men and putting them in shape for the undertaking. We
were formed in line about dark near the time and place allotted, and
all were in high glee in anticipation of the novel assault. But just
as all were ready, orders came countermanding the first order. So
the officers and men returned to their quarters. Some appeared well
satisfied at the turn of events, especially those who had volunteered
more for the honor attached than the good to be performed. Others,
however, were disappointed. An old man from Laurens was indignant. He
said "the Third Regiment would never get anything. That he had been
naked and barefooted for two months, and when a chance was offered
to clothe and shoe himself some d----n fool had to countermand the
order." Ere many days his ambition and lust for a fight were filled to
The various grades and ranks of the Generals kept us continually
moving from left to right, Generals being sometimes like a balky
horse--will not pull out of his right place. We were stationed, as
it appeared from the preparations made, permanently just in front of
Richmond, or a little to the left of that place and the Williamsburg
road, and began to fortify in earnest. About the middle of June
Lee and his Lieutenants were planning that great campaign whereby
McClellan was to be overthrown and his army sent flying back to
Washington. Generals plan the moves of men like players their pieces
upon the chess board--a demonstration here, a feint there, now a great
battle, then a reconnoissance--without ever thinking of or considering
the lives lost, the orphans made, the disconsolate widows, and broken
homes that these moves make. They talk of attacks, of pressing or
crushing, of long marches, the streams or obstacles encountered, as if
it were only the movement of some vast machinery, where the slipping
of a cog or the breaking of a wheel will cause the machine to
stop. The General views in his mind his successes, his marches, his
strategy, without ever thinking of the dead men that will mark his
pathway, the victorious fields made glorious by the groans of the
dying, or the blackened corpses of the dead. The most Christian and
humane soldier, however, plans his battles without ever a thought of
the consequences to his faithful followers.
On the 25th of June, orders came to be prepared to move at a moment's
notice. This left no doubt in the minds of the men that stirring
times were ahead. It had been whispered in camp that Jackson, the
"ubiquitous," was on his way from the Valley to help Lee in his work
of defeating McClellan.
About 4 o'clock, on the 26th of June, as the men lay lolling around
in camp, the ominous sound of a cannon was heard away to our left and
rear. Soon another and another, their dull rumbling roar telling too
plainly the battle was about to begin. Men hasten hither and thither,
gathering their effects, expecting every moment to be ordered away.
Soon the roar of musketry filled the air; the regular and continual
baying of the cannon beat time to the steady roll of small arms.
Jackson had come down from the Valley, and was sweeping over the
country away to our left like an avalanche. Fitz John Porter, one of
the most accomplished soldiers in the Northern Army, was entrusted
with the defense of the north side of the Chickahominy, and had
erected formidable lines of breastworks along Beaver Dam Creek,
already strong and unapproachable from its natural formations. Jackson
was to have encountered Porter on the extreme right flank of the Union
Army at an early hour in the day, and as soon as A.P. Hill heard the
sound of his guns, he was to cross over on our left at Meadow Bridge
and sweep down the river on Jackson's right. But after waiting for
the opening of Jackson's guns until after 3 o'clock, without any
information that he was on the field, Hill crossed over the river and
attacked Porter in his strong position at Mechanicsville. His task
was to beat back the enemy until the bridges below were uncovered,
allowing re-enforcement to reach him. Jackson being unavoidably
delayed, A.P. Hill assailed the whole right wing of the Federal Army,
single-handed and alone, he only having five brigades, one being
left some miles above on the river, but the brigade that was left
was making rapid strides to join the fighting column. The strong
earthworks, filled with fighting infantry and heavy field artillery in
the forts, were too much for this light column, but undaunted by the
weight of numbers and strength of arms, Hill threw himself headlong
upon the entrenched positions with rare courage and determination.
There were South Carolinians with him who were now engaging in their
maiden effort, and were winning imperishable fame by their deeds of
valor. Gregg, with the old First South Carolina Regiment of Veterans,
with four new organizations, the Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and
Orr's Rifles, went recklessly into the fray, and struck right and left
with the courage and confidence of veteran troops. D.H. Hill, late
in the evening, crossed over and placed himself on the right of those
already engaged. The battle of Games' Mill was one continual slaughter
on the side of the Confederates. The enemy being behind their
protections, their loss was comparatively slight. The fight was kept
up till 9 o'clock at night, with little material advantage to either,
with his own and only a portion of Jackson's troops up. But the
desperate onslaught of the day convinced Porter that he could not hold
his ground against another such assault, so he fell back to a much
stronger position around Gaines' Mill.
The next day, the 27th, will be remembered as long as history records
the events of our Civil War as one of the most bloody and determined
of any of the great battles of the war for the men engaged. For
desperate and reckless charges, for brave and steady resistance, it
stands second to none. Jackson, Ewell, Whiting, and D.H. Hill moved
their divisions by daylight, aroused the enemy's right, intending to
reach his rear, but at Cold Harbor they met the enemy in strong force.
D.H. Hill attacked immediately, while A.P. Hill, who had been left
in Porter's front, marched through the deserted camp, over his
fortifications, and at Gaines' Mill, he met Porter posted on an
eminence beyond the stream. This was only passable at few places, but
Hill pushed his men over under a galling fire of musketry, while the
enemy swept the plain and valley below with shell and grape from
their batteries crowning the height beyond. A.P. Hill formed his lines
beyond the stream, and advanced with a steady step and a bold front to
the assault. Charge after charge was made, only to be met and repulsed
with a courage equal to that of the Confederates. Hill did not know
then that he was fighting the bulk of the Fifth Corps, for he heard
the constant roll of Jackson and D.H. Hill's guns away to his left;
Jackson thinking the Light Division under A.P. Hill would drive the
enemy from his position, withdrew from Cold Harbor and sought to
intercept the retreating foe in concealing his men for some hours on
the line of retreat. But as the day wore on, and no diminution of the
firing, at the point where A.P. Hill and his adversary had so long
kept up, Jackson and D.H. Hill undertook to relieve him. Longstreet,
too, near nightfall, who had been held in reserve all day, now broke
from his place of inaction and rushed into the fray like an uncaged
lion, and placed himself between A.P. Hill and the river. For a few
moments the earth trembled with the tread of struggling thousands, and
the dreadful recoil of the heavy batteries that lined the crest of the
hill from right to left. The air was filled with the shrieking shells
as they sizzled through the air or plowed their way through the ranks
of the battling masses. Charges were met by charges, and the terrible
"Rebel Yell" could be heard above the din and roar of battle, as the
Confederates swept over field or through the forest, either to capture
a battery or to force a line of infantry back by the point of the
bayonet. While the battle was yet trembling in the balance, the
Confederates making frantic efforts to pierce the enemy's lines,
and they, with equal courage and persistency, determined on holding,
Pickett and Anderson, of Longstreet's Division, and Hood and Whiting,
of Jackson's, threw their strength and weight to the aid of Hill's
depleted ranks. The enemy could stand no longer. The line is broken
at one point, then another, and as the Confederates closed in on them
from all sides, they break in disorder and leave the field. It looked
at one time as if there would be a rout, but Porter in this emergency,
put in practice one of Napoleon's favorite tactics. He called up his
cavalry, and threatened the weakened ranks of the Confederates with a
formidable front of his best troopers. These could not be of service
in the weight of battle, but protected the broken columns and fleeing
fugitives of Porter's Army.
South Carolina will be ever proud of the men whom she had on that
memorable field who consecrated the earth at Gaines' Mill with
their blood, as well as of such leaders as Gregg, McGowan, McCrady,
Marshall, Simpson, Haskell, and Hamilton, and hosts of others, who
have ever shed lustre and glory equal to those of any of the thousands
who have made the Palmetto State renowned the world over.
McClellan was now in sore straits. He could not weaken his lines on
the south side of the Chickahominy to re-enforce Fitz John Porter,
for fear Magruder, Holmes, and Huger, who were watching his every
movements in their front, should fall upon the line thus weakened and
cut his army in twain. The next day McClellan commenced his retreat
towards the James, having put his army over the Chickahominy the night
after his defeat. His step was, no doubt, occasioned by the fact that
Lee had sent Stuart with his cavalry and Ewell's Division of Infantry
down the north side of the Chickahominy and destroyed McClellan's line
of communication between his army and the York River. However, the
Confederate commander was equally as anxious to cut him off from the
James as the York. He aimed to force him to battle between the
two rivers, and there, cut off from his fleet, he would be utterly
destroyed. Lee only wished McClellan to remain in his present position
until he could reach the James with a part of his own troops, now on
the north side of the Chickahominy.
On the evening of the 27th, Magruder made a feint with Kershaw's and
some other brigades of this division, near Alens, as the troops in
his front showed a disposition to retire. A line of battle was formed,
skirmishers thrown out, and an advance ordered. Our skirmishers had
not penetrated far into the thicket before they were met by a volley
from the enemy's line of battle. The balls whistled over our heads
and through the tops of the scrubby oaks, like a fall of hail. It put
chills to creeping up our backs, the first time we had ever been under
a musketry fire. For a moment we were thrown into a perfect fever of
excitement and confusion. The opening in the rear looked temptingly
inviting in comparison to the wooded grounds in front, from whence
came the volley of bullets. Here the Third South Carolina lost her
first soldier in battle, Dr. William Thompson, of the medical staff,
who had followed too close on the heels of the fighting column in his
anxiety to be near the battle.
Early in the morning of the 28th, Lee put the columns of Longstreet
and A.P. Hill in motion in the direction of Richmond around our rear.
After their meeting with Holmes and Huger on our extreme right, they
were to press down the James River and prevent McClellan from reaching
it. Jackson, D.H. Hill, and Magruder were to follow the retreating
army. We left our quarters early in the day, and soon found ourselves
in the enemy's deserted camp.
The country between the James and the Chickahominy is a very flat,
swampy county, grown up in great forests, with now and then a
cultivated field. The forests were over-run with a tangled mass of
undergrowth. It was impossible for the army to keep up with the enemy
while in line of battle. So sending our skirmishers ahead the army
followed the roads in columns of fours. In each regiment the right
or left company in the beginning of battle is always deployed at such
distance between each soldier as to cover the front of the regiment,
while in line of battle the regiments being from ten to fifty yards
apart. In this way we marched all day, sometimes in line of battle, at
others by the roads in columns. A great siege cannon had been erected
on a platform car and pushed abreast of us along the railroad by an
engine, and gave out thundering evidences of its presence by shelling
the woods in our front. This was one of the most novel batteries of
the war, a siege gun going in battle on board of cars. Near night at
Savage Station Sumner and Franklin, of the Federal Army, who had been
retreating all day, turned to give battle. Jackson was pressing on
our left, and it became necessary that Sumner should hold Magruder in
check until the army and trains of the Federals that were passing
in his rear should cross White Oak Swamp to a place of safety. Our
brigade was lying in a little declivity between two rises in the
ground; that in our front, and more than one hundred yards distance,
was thickly studded with briars, creepers, and underbrush with a
sparse growth of heavy timber. We had passed numerous redoubts, where
the field batteries of the enemy would occupy and shell our ranks
while the infantry continued the retreat. Our brigade skirmishers,
under command of Major Rutherford, had been halted in this thicket
while the line of battle was resting. But hardly had the skirmishers
been ordered forward than the enemy's line of battle, upon which they
had come, poured a galling fire into them, the bullets whistling over
our heads causing a momentary panic among the skirmishers, a part
retreating to the main line. A battery of six guns stationed in a
fort in our front, opened upon us with shell and grape. Being in the
valley, between the two hills, the bullets rattled over our heads
doing no damage, but threw us into some excitement. The Third being
near the center of the brigade, General Kershaw, in person, was
immediately in our rear on foot. As soon as the bullets had passed
over he called out in a loud, clear tone the single word "charge." The
troops bounded to the front with a yell, and made for the forest in
front, while the batteries graped us as we rushed through the tangled
morass. The topography of the country was such that our artillery
could get no position to reply, but the heavy railroad siege gun made
the welkin ring with its deafening reports. Semmes and Barksdale put
in on our right; Cobb remaining as reserve, while the Division of D.R.
Jones, which had been moving down on the left side of the railroad,
soon became engaged. The enemy fought with great energy and vigor,
while the Confederates pressed them hard. Much was at stake, and night
was near. Stunner was fighting for the safety of the long trains of
artillery and wagons seeking cover in his rear, as well as for the
very life of the army itself. Soon after the first fire the settling
smoke and dense shrubbery made the woods almost as dark as night in
our front, but the long line of fire flashing from the enemy's guns
revealed their position. The men became woefully tangled and
disorganized, and in some places losing the organizations entirely,
but under all these difficulties they steadily pressed to the front.
When near the outer edge of the thicket, we could see the enemy lying
down in some young growth of pines, with their batteries in the fort.
The graping was simply dreadful, cutting and breaking through the
bushes and striking against trees. I had not gone far into the thicket
before I was struck by a minnie ball in the chest, which sent me
reeling to the ground momentarily unconscious. Our men lost all
semblance of a line, being scattered over a space of perhaps 50 yards,
and those in front were in as much danger from friend as from foe.
While I lay in a semi-unconscious state, I received another bullet in
my thigh which I had every reason to believe came from some one in the
rear. But I roused myself, and staggering to my feet made my way as
well as I could out of the thicket. When I reached the place from
whence we had first made the charge, our drummer was beating the
assembly or long roll with all his might, and men collecting around
General Kershaw and Colonel Nance. Here I first learned of the repulse.
The balls were still flying overhead, but some of our batteries had
got in position and were giving the enemy a raking fire. Nor was the
railroad battery idle, for I could see the great black, grim monster
puffing out heaps of gray smoke, then the red flash, then the report,
sending the engine and car back along the track with a fearful recoil.
The lines were speedily reformed and again put in motion. Jones, too,
was forced by overwhelming numbers to give back, but Jackson coming up
gave him renewed confidence, and a final advance was made along the
whole line. The battle was kept up with varying success until after
night, when Sumner withdrew over White Oak Swamp.
On the morning of the 30th, McClellan, like a quarry driven to bay,
drew up his forces on the south side of White Oak Swamp and awaited
the next shock of battle. Behind him were his trains of heavy siege
guns, his army wagons, pontoons, and ordnance trains, all in bog and
slush, seeking safety under the sheltering wings of his gunboats and
ironclads on the James. Lee met him at every point with bristling
bayonets of his victorious troops. At three o'clock A.M. Longstreet
and A.P. Hill moved down the Darbytown road, leaving Jackson, D.H.
Hill, and Magruder to press McClellan's retreating forces in the
rear. Huger, with the two former, was to come down the James River and
attack in the flank. Magruder, with his corps, was sent early in the
day on a wild goose chase to support Longstreet's right, but by being
led by guides who did not understand the roads or plan of battle,
Magruder took the wrong road and did not get up in time to join in
the battle of Frazier's Farm. Jackson for some cause did not press
the rear, as anticipated, neither did Huger come in time, leaving the
brunt of the battle on the shoulders of A.P. Hill and Longstreet. The
battle was but a repetition of that of Gaines' Mill, the troops of
Hill and Longstreet gaining imperishable glory by their stubborn and
resistless attacks, lasting till nine o'clock at night, when the enemy
Two incidents of these battles are worthy of record, showing the
different dispositions of the people of the North and South. At
night the division commanded by General McCall, who had been fighting
Longstreet so desperately all day, was captured and brought to
Longstreet's headquarters. General McCall had been Captain of a
company in the United States Army, in which Longstreet had been a
Lieutenant. When General Longstreet saw his old comrade brought to him
as a prisoner of war, he sought to lighten the weight of his feelings
as much as circumstances would admit. He dismounted, pulled his
gloves, and offered his hand in true knightly fashion to his fallen
foe. But his Federal antagonist, becoming incensed, drew himself up
haughtily and waved Longstreet away, saying, "Excuse me, sir, I can
stand defeat but not insult." Insult indeed! to shake the hand of
one of the most illustrious chieftains of the century, one who had
tendered the hand in friendly recognition of past associations, thus
to smooth and soften the humiliation of his foe's present condition!
When Bob Toombs, at the head of his brigade, was sweeping through the
tangled underbrush at Savage Station, under a terrific hail of bullets
from the retreating enemy, he was hailed by a fallen enemy, who had
braced himself against a tree:
"Hello, Bob Toombs! Hello, Bob Toombs! Don't you know your old friend
Dismounting, Toombs went to the son of his old friend but political
adversary, Daniel Webster, one of the great trio at Washington of
twenty years before, and found his life slowly ebbing away.
Toombs rendered him all the assistance in his power--placed him in
comfortable position that he might die at ease--and hastened on to
rejoin his command, after promising to perform some last sad rites
after his death. When the battle was ended for the day, the great
fiery Secessionist hastened to return to the wounded enemy. But too
late; his spirit had flown, and nothing was now left to Toombs but to
fulfill the promises he made to his dying foe. He had his body carried
through the lines that night under a flag of truce and delivered
with the messages left to his friends. He had known young Webster at
Washington when his illustrious father was at the zenith of his power
and fame. The son and the great Southern States' Rights champion had
become fast friends as the latter was just entering on his glorious
Our brigade lost heavily in the battle of Savage Station both in
officers and men. Lieutenant Colonel Garlington, of the Third, was
killed, and so was Captain Langford and several Lieutenants. Colonel
Bland, of the Seventh, was wounded and disabled for a long time. The
casualties in the battle of Savage Station caused changes in officers
in almost every company in the brigade.
When I came to consciousness after being wounded the first thing that
met my ears was the roar of musketry and the boom of cannon, with the
continual swish, swash of the grape and canister striking the trees
and ground. I placed my hand in my bosom, where I felt a dull,
deadening sensation. There I found the warm blood, that filled my
inner garments and now trickled down my side as I endeavored to stand
upright. I had been shot through the left lung, and as I felt the
great gaping wound in my chest, the blood gushing and spluttering out
at every breath, I began to realize my situation. I tried to get off
the field the best I could, the bullet in my leg not troubling me
much, and as yet, I felt strong enough to walk. My brother, who was a
surgeon, and served three years in the hospitals in Richmond, but now
in the ranks, came to my aid and led me to the rear. We stopped near
the railroad battery, which was belching away, the report of the great
gun bringing upon us the concentrated fire of the enemy. As I sat upon
the fallen trunk of a tree my brother made a hasty examination of my
wound. All this while I was fully convinced I was near death's door.
He pronounced my wound at first as fatal, a bit of very unpleasant
information, but after probing my wound with his finger he gave me the
flattering assurance that unless I bled to death quite soon my chances
might be good! Gentle reader, were you ever, as you thought, at
death's door, when the grim monster was facing you, when life looked
indeed a very brief span? If so, you can understand my feelings--I was
scared! As Goldsmith once said, "When you think you are about to die,
this world looks mighty tempting and pretty." Everything in my front
took on the hue of dark green, a pleasant sensation came over me, and
I had the strangest feeling ever experienced in my life. I thought
sure I was dying then and there and fell from the log in a death-like
swoon. But I soon revived, having only fainted from loss of blood, and
my brother insisted on my going back up the railroad to a farmhouse
we had passed, and where our surgeons had established a hospital. The
long stretch of wood we had to travel was lined with the wounded, each
wounded soldier with two or three friends helping him off the field.
We had no "litter bearers" or regular detail to care for the wounded
at this time, and the friends who undertook this service voluntarily
oftentimes depleted the ranks more than the loss in battle. Hundreds
in this way absented themselves for a few days taking care of the
wounded. But all this was changed soon afterwards. Regular details
were made from each regiment, consisting of a non-commissioned
officer and five privates, whose duty it was to follow close in
rear of the line of battle with their "stretchers" and take off the
I will never forget the scene that met my eyes as I neared the house
where the wounded had been gathered. There the torn and mangled lay,
shot in every conceivable part of the body or limbs--some with wounds
in the head, arms torn off at the shoulder or elbow, legs broken,
fingers, toes, or foot shot away; some hobbling along on inverted
muskets or crutches, but the great mass were stretched at full length
upon the ground, uttering low, deep, and piteous moans, that told of
the great sufferings, or a life passing away. The main hall of the
deserted farm house, as well as the rooms, were filled to overflowing
with those most seriously wounded. The stifling stench of blood was
sickening in the extreme. The front and back yards, the fence corners,
and even the out-buildings were filled with the dead and dying.
Surgeons and their assistants were hurrying to and fro, relieving the
distress as far as their limited means would allow, making such hasty
examinations as time permitted. Here they would stop to probe a wound,
there to set a broken limb, bind a wound, stop the flow of blood, or
tie an artery.
But among all this deluge of blood, mangled bodies, and the groans of
the wounded and dying, our ears were continually greeted by the awful,
everlasting rattle of the musketry, the roar of the field batteries,
and the booming, shaking, and trembling of the siege guns from friend
The peculiar odor of human blood, mingling with the settling smoke of
the near by battlefield, became so oppressive I could not remain in
the house. My brother helped me into the yard, but in passing out I
fell, fainting for the third time; my loss of blood had been so great
I could stand only with difficulty. I thought the end was near now for
a certainty, and was frightened accordingly. But still I nerved myself
with all the will power I possessed, and was placed on an oil cloth
under the spreading branches of an elm. From the front a continual
stream of wounded kept coming in till late at night. Some were carried
on shoulders of friends, others leaning their weight upon them and
dragging their bodies along, while the slightly wounded were left to
care for themselves. Oh, the horrors of the battlefield! So cruel,
so sickening, so heart-rending to those even of the stoutest
nerves!--once seen, is indelibly impressed upon your mind forever.
The firing ceased about 9 o'clock, and all became still as death, save
the groaning of the wounded soldiers in the hospital, or the calls and
cries of those left upon the battlefield. Oh, such a night, the night
after the battle! The very remembrance of it is a vivid picture of
Dante's "Inferno." To lie during the long and anxious watches of the
night, surrounded by such scenes of suffering and woe, to continually
hear the groans of the wounded, the whispered consultations of the
surgeons over the case of some poor boy who was soon to be robbed of
a leg or arm, the air filled with stifled groans, or the wild shout
of some poor soldier, who, now delirious with pain, his voice sounding
like the wail of a lost soul--all this, and more--and thinking your
soul, too, is about to shake off its mortal coil and take its flight
with the thousands that have just gone, are going, and the many more
to follow before the rising of the next sun--all this is too much for
a feeble pen like mine to portray.
The troops lay on the battlefield all night under arms. Here and there
a soldier, singly or perhaps in twos, were scouring through the dense
thicket or isolated places, seeking lost friends and comrades, whose
names were unanswered to at the roll call, and who were not among the
wounded and dead at the hospital. The pale moon looked down in sombre
silence upon the ghastly upturned faces of the dead that lay strewn
along the battle line. The next day was a true version of the lines--
"Under the sod,
under the clay,
Here lies the blue, there the grey."
for the blue and grey fell in great wind rows that day, and were
buried side by side.
The Confederates being repulsed in the first charge, returned to the
attack, broke the Federal lines in pieces, and by 9 o'clock they had
fled the field, leaving all the fruits of victory in the hands of the
No rest for the beaten enemy, no sleep for the hunted prey. McClellan
was moving heaven and earth during the whole night to place "White Oak
Swamp" (a tangled, swampy wilderness, of a half mile in width and six
or eight miles in length,) between his army and Lee's. By morning he
had the greater portion of his army and supply trains over, but had
left several divisions on the north side of the swamp to guard the
crossings. Jackson and Magruder began pressing him early on the 30th
in his rear, while Longstreet, A.P. Hill, and others were marching
with might and main to intercept him on the other side. After some
desultory firing, Jackson found McClellan's rear guard too strong to
assail, by direct assault, so his divisions, with Magruder's, were
ordered around to join forces with Hill and Longstreet. The swamp
was impassable, except at the few crossings, and they were strongly
guarded, so they were considered not practicable of direct assault.
But in the long winding roads that intervened between the two wings,
Magruder and Jackson on the north and Longstreet and A.P. Hill on
the south, Magruder was misled by taking the wrong road (the whole
Peninsula being a veritable wilderness), and marched away from the
field instead of towards it, and did not reach Longstreet during the
day. But at 3 o'clock Longstreet, not hearing either Jackson's or
Magruder's guns, as per agreement, and restless of the delays of the
other portions of the army, feeling the danger of longer inactivity,
boldly marched in and attacked the enemy in his front.
Here was Frazier's Farm, and here was fought as stubbornly contested
battle, considering the numbers engaged, as any during the campaign.
Near nightfall, after Longstreet had nearly exhausted the strength
of his troops by hard fighting, A.P. Hill, ever watchful and on the
alert, threw the weight of his columns on the depleted ranks of the
enemy, and forced them from the field. The soldiers who had done such
deeds of daring as to win everlasting renown at Gaines' Mill and Cold
Harbor, did not fail their fearless commander at Frazier's Farm. When
the signal for battle was given, they leaped to the front, like
dogs unleashed, and sprang upon their old enemies, Porter, McCall,
Heintzelman, Hooker, and Kearny. Here again the steady fire and
discipline of the Federals had to yield to the impetuosity and valor
of Southern troops. Hill and Longstreet swept the field, capturing
several hundred prisoners, a whole battery of artillery, horses, and
McClellan brought up his beaten army on Malvern Hill, to make one last
desperate effort to save his army from destruction or annihilation.
This is a place of great natural defenses. Situated one mile from
the James River, it rises suddenly on all sides from the surrounding
marshy lowlands to several hundred feet in height, and environed on
three sides by branches and by Turkey Creek. On the northern eminence
McClellan planted eighty pieces of heavy ordnance, and on the eastern,
field batteries in great numbers. Lee placed his troops in mass on the
extreme east of the position occupied by the enemy, intending to park
the greater number of his heaviest batteries against the northern
front of the eminence, where McClellan had his artillery pointing to
the east, and where the Confederates massed to sweep the field as Lee
advanced his infantry. The object of Lee was to concentrate all his
artillery on the flank of McClellan's artillery, then by an enfilade
fire from his own, he could destroy that of his enemy, and advance his
infantry through the broad sweep of lowlands, separating the forces,
without subjecting them to the severe cannonading. He gave orders
that as soon as the enemy's batteries were demolished or silenced,
Armstead's Virginia Brigade, occupying the most advanced and favorable
position for observation, was to advance to the assault, with a
yell and a hurrah, as a signal for the advance of all the attacking
columns. But the condition of the ground was such that the officers
who were to put the cannon in position got only a few heavy pieces
in play, and these were soon knocked in pieces by the numbers of
the enemy's siege guns and rifled field pieces. Some of the brigade
commanders, thinking the signal for combat had been given, rushed at
the hill in front with ear piercing yells without further orders. They
were mown down like grain before the sickle by the fierce artillery
fire and the enemy's infantry on the crest of the hill. Kershaw
following the lead of the brigade on his left, gave orders, "Forward,
charge!" Down the incline, across the wide expanse, they rushed with
a yell, their bayonets bristling and glittering in the sunlight, while
the shells rained like hail stones through their ranks from the cannon
crested hill in front. The gunboats and ironclad monitors in the James
opened a fearful fusilade from their monster guns and huge mortars,
the great three-hundred-pound shells from the latter rising high in
the air, then curling in a beautiful bow to fall among the troops,
with a crash and explosion that shook the ground like the trembling
of the earth around a volcano. The whole face of the bluff front was
veiled by the white smoke of the one hundred belching cannon, the
flashing of the guns forming a perfect rain of fire around the sides
of the hill. It was too far to fire and too dense and tangled to
charge with any degree of progress or order, so, in broken and
disconnected ranks, Kershaw had to advance and endure this storm of
shot and shell, that by the time he reached the line of the enemy's
infantry, his ranks were too much broken to offer a very formidable
front. From the enemy's fortified position their deadly fire caused
our already thinned ranks to melt like snow before the sun's warm
rays. The result was a complete repulse along the whole line. But
McClellan was only too glad to be allowed a breathing spell from his
seven days of continual defeat, and availed himself of the opportunity
of this respite to pull off his army under the protecting wings of his
The Confederates had won a glorious victory during the first six days.
The enemy had been driven from the Chickahominy to the James, his army
defeated and demoralized beyond months of recuperation. Lee and his
followers should be satisfied. But had none of his orders miscarried,
and all of his Lieutenants fulfilled what he had expected of them,
yet greater results might have been accomplished--not too much to say
McClellan's Army would have been entirely destroyed or captured, for
had he been kept away from the natural defenses of Malvern Hill and
forced to fight in the open field, his destruction would have followed
beyond the cavil of a doubt. The Southern soldiers were as eager
and as fresh on the last day as on the first, but a land army has a
superstitious dread of one sheltered by gunboats and ironclads.
All the troops engaged in the Seven Days' Battle did extremely well,
and won imperishable fame by their deeds of valor and prowess. Their
commanders in the field were matchless, and showed military talents
of high order, the courage of their troops invincible, and to
particularize would be unjust. But truth will say, in after years,
when impartial hands will record the events, and give blame where
blame belongs, and justice where justice is due, that in this great
Seven Days' Conflict, where so much heroism was displayed on both
sides, individually and collectively, that to A.P. Hill and the brave
men under him belongs the honor of first scotching at Gaines' Mill
the great serpent that was surrounding the Capital with bristling
bayonets, and were in at the breaking of its back at Frazier's Farm.
It was due to the daring and intrepidity of Hill's Light Division at
Gaines' Mill, more than to any other, that made it possible for the
stirring events and unprecedented results that followed.
Among the greater Generals, Lee was simply matchless and superb;
Jackson, a mystic meteor or firey comet; Longstreet and the two
Hills, the "Wild Huns" of the South, masterful in tactics, cyclones in
battle. Huger, Magruder, and Holmes were rather slow, but the courage
and endurance of their troops made up for the shortcomings of their
Among the lesser lights will stand Gregg, Jenkins, and Kershaw, of
South Carolina, as foremost among the galaxy of immortal heroes who
gave the battles around Richmond their place as "unparalleled in
* * * * *
The March to Maryland--Second Manassas. Capture of Harper's
The enemy lay quietly in his camps at Harrison's Landing for a few
days, but to cover his meditated removal down the James, he advanced a
large part of his army as far as Malvern Hill on the day of the 5th
of August as if to press Lee back. Kershaw, with the rest of McLaw's
Division, together with Jones and Longstreet, were sent to meet them.
The troops were all placed in position by nightfall, bivouaced for the
night on the field, and slept on their arms to guard against any night
attack. The soldiers thought of to-morrow--that it perhaps might be
yet more sanguinary than any of the others. Our ranks, already badly
worn by the desperate conflicts at Savage Station, Frazier's Farm,
Cold Harbor, etc., still showed a bold front for the coming day. Early
in the morning the troops were put in motion, skirmishers thrown out,
and all preparations for battle made, but to the surprise and
relief of all, the "bird had flown," and instead of battle lines
and bristling steel fronts we found nothing but deserted camps and
evidences of a hasty flight. In a few days we were removed further
back towards Richmond and sought camp on higher ground, to better
guard against the ravages of disease and to be further removed from
the enemy. The troops now had the pleasure of a month's rest, our only
duties being guard and advance picket every ten or twelve days.
While McClellan had been pushing his army up on the Peninsula the
Federals were actively engaged in organizing a second army in the
vicinity of Manassas and Fredericksburg under General John Pope, to
operate against Richmond by the flank. General Pope from his infamous
orders greatly incensed the people of the South, and from his vain
boasting gained for himself the sobriquet of "Pope the Braggart." He
ordered every citizen within his lines or living near them to either
take the oath of allegiance to the United States or to be driven
out of the country as an enemy of the Union. No one was to have any
communication with his friends within the Confederate lines, either
by letter or otherwise, on the penalty of being shot as a spy and his
property confiscated. Hundreds of homes were broken up by the order.
Men and women were driven South, or placed in Federal prisons, there
to linger for years, perhaps, with their homes abandoned to the
malicious desecration of a merciless enemy, all for no other charges
than their refusal to be a traitor to their principles and an enemy
to their country. Pope boasted of "seeing nothing of the enemy but
his back," and that "he had no headquarters but in the saddle." He was
continually sending dispatches to his chief, General Halleck, who had
been appointed Commander-in-Chief of all the Federal forces in the
field, of the "victories gained over Lee," his "bloody repulses of
Jackson," and "successful advances," and "the Confederates on the
run," etc., etc., while the very opposites were the facts. On one
occasion he telegraphed to Washington that he had defeated Lee, that
the Confederate leader was in full retreat to Richmond, when, as a
fact, before the dispatch had reached its destination his own army
was overwhelmed, and with Pope at its head, flying the field in every
direction, seeking safety under the guns at Washington. It is little
wonder he bore the name he had so deservedly won by his manifestoes,
"Pope the Braggart."
About the middle of July Jackson, with Ewell and A.P. Hill, was sent
up to the Rapidan to look after Pope and his wonderful army, which had
begun to be re-enforced by troops from the James. On the 9th of August
Jackson came up with a part of Pope's army at Cedar Mountain, and a
fierce battle was fought, very favorable to the Confederate side.
A month after Jackson had left Richmond, Longstreet, with three
divisions, headed by Lee in person, was ordered to re-enforce Jackson,
and began the offensive. While the Federal commander was lying
securely in his camp, between the Rappahannock and the Rapidan,
unconscious of the near approach of the Confederate Army, his scouts
intercepted an order written by General Lee to his cavalry leader,
giving details of his intended advance and attack. Pope, being thus
apprised, hurriedly recrossed the Rappahannock and concentrated his
forces behind that stream. Lee followed his movements closely, and
while watching in front, with a portion of his army, he started
Jackson on his famous march around the enemy's rear. Pulling up at
night, Jackson marched to the left, crossed the Rappahannock on
the 25th, and by the night of the 26th he had reached the railroad
immediately in Pope's rear, capturing trains of cars, prisoners, etc.
On learning that large quantities of provisions and munitions of war
were stored at Manassas Junction, feebly guarded, General Trimble,
with a small number of brave Alabamians, Georgians, and North
Carolinians, not five hundred all told, volunteered to march still
further to that point, a distance of some miles, notwithstanding they
had marched with Jackson thirty miles during the day, and capture the
place. This was done in good time, defeating a brigade doing guard
duty, and capturing a large number of prisoners, one entire battery of
artillery, and untold quantities of provisions. Jackson now appeared
to retreat, but only withdrew in order to give Longstreet time to
come up, which he was doing hard upon Jackson's track, but more than
twenty-four hours behind. This was one of the most hazardous feats
accomplished by Lee during the war, with the possible exception of
Chancellorsville, "dividing his army in the face of superior numbers,"
a movement denounced by all successful Generals and scientists of
war. But Lee attempted this on more occasions than one, and always
Jackson concealed his forces among the hills of Bull Run, giving time
for Longstreet, who was fighting his way through Thoroughfare Gap
at the very point of the bayonet, to come up, while Pope was racing
around the plains of Manassas, trying to intercept Jackson's imaginary
retreat. It seems as if the one single idea impressed itself upon the
Federal commander, and that was that Jackson was trying to get away
from him. But before many days Pope found the wily "Stonewall," and
when in his embrace endeavoring to hold him, Pope found himself in the
predicament of the man who had essayed to wrestle with a bear. When
the man had downed his antagonist he had to call lustily for friends.
So Pope had to call for help to turn Jackson loose--to pull him loose.
On the 29th the forces of Pope, the "Braggart," came upon those of
Jackson hidden behind a railroad embankment on the plains of Manassas,
and a stubborn battle ensued, which lasted until late at night.
Longstreet came upon the field, but took no further part in the battle
than a heavy demonstration on the right to relieve the pressure from
Jackson. Longstreet's left, however, turned the tide of battle. Lee
turned some prisoners loose at night that had been captured during the
day, leaving the impression on their minds that he was beating a hasty
retreat. Reporting to their chief that night, the prisoners confirmed
the opinion that Pope was fooled in believing all day, that "Lee was
in full retreat," trying to avoid a battle. Pope sent flaming messages
to that effect to the authorities at Washington, and so anxious was
he lest his prey should escape, he gave orders for his troops to be
in motion early in the morning. On the 30th was fought the decisive
battle of Second Manassas, and the plains above Bull Run were
again the scene of a glorious Confederate victory, by Lee almost
annihilating the army of John Pope, "the Braggart." Had it not been
for the steady discipline, extraordinary coolness, and soldierly
behavior of Sykes and his regulars at Stone Bridge, the rout of
the Federal Army at Second Manassas would have been but little less
complete than on the fatal day just a little more than one year
At Ox Hill, 1st September, Pope had to adopt the tactics of McClellan
at Malvern Hill, face about and fight for the safety of his great
ordnance and supply trains, and to allow his army a safe passage
over the Potomac. At Ox Hill, the enemy under Stephens and Kearny,
displayed extraordinary tenacity and courage, these two division
commanders throwing their columns headlong upon those of Jackson
without a thought of the danger and risks such rash acts incurred.
Both were killed in the battle. Phil. Kearney had gained a national
reputation for his enterprising warfare in California and Mexico
during the troublesome times of the Mexican War, and it was with
unfeigned sorrow and regret the two armies heard of the sad death of
this veteran hero.
During the time that all these stirring events were taking place and
just before Magruder, with McLaw's and Walker's divisions, was either
quietly lying in front of Richmond watching the army of McClellan
dwindle away, leaving by transports down the James and up the Potomac,
or was marching at a killing gait to overtake their comrades under Lee
to share with them their trials, their battles and their victories in
Maryland. Lee could not leave the Capital with all his force so long
as there was a semblance of an army threatening it.
As soon as it was discovered that Manassas was to be the real battle
ground of the campaign, and Washington instead of Richmond the
objective point, Lee lost no time in concentrating his army north of
the Rappahannock. About the middle of August McLaws, with Kershaw's,
Semmes's, Cobb's, and Barksdale's Brigades, with two brigades
under Walker and the Hampton Legion Cavalry, turned their footsteps
Northward, and bent all their energies to reach the scene of action
before the culminating events above mentioned.
At Orange C.H., on the 26th, we hastened our march, as news began to
reach us of Jackson's extraordinary movements and the excitement in
the Federal Army, occasioned by their ludicrous hunt for the "lost
Confederate." Jackson's name had reached its meridian in the minds
of the troops, and they were ever expecting to hear of some new
achievement or brilliant victory by this strange, silent, and
mysterious man. The very mystery of his movements, his unexplainable
absence and sudden reappearance at unexpected points, his audacity
in the face of the enemy, his seeming recklessness, gave unbounded
confidence to the army. The men began to feel safe at the very idea of
his disappearance and absence. While the thunder of his guns and
those of Longstreet's were sounding along the valleys of Bull Run, and
reverberating down to the Potomac or up to Washington, McLaws with his
South Carolinians, Georgians, and Mississippians was swinging along
with an elastic step between Orange C.H. and Manassas.
McClellan himself had already reached Alexandria with the last of
his troops, but by the acts of the ubiquitous Jackson his lines of
communication were cut and the Federal commander had to grope his way
in the dark for fear of running foul of his erratic enemy.
When we began nearing Manassas, we learned of the awful effect of the
two preceding days' battle by meeting the wounded. They came singly
and in groups, men marching with arms in slings, heads bandaged, or
hopping along on improvised crutches, while the wagons and ambulances
were laden with the severely wounded. In that barren country no
hospital could be established, for it was as destitute of sustenance
as the arid plains of the Arabian Desert when the great Napoleon
undertook to cross it with his beaten army. All, with the exception of
water; we had plenty of that. Passing over a part of the battlefield
about the 5th of September, the harrowing sights that were met with
were in places too sickening to admit of description. The enemy's
dead, in many places, had been left unburied, it being a veritable
instance of "leaving the dead to bury the dead." Horses in a rapid
state of decomposition literally covered the field. The air was so
impregnated with the foul stench arising from the plains where the
battle had raged fiercest, that the troops were forced to close their
nostrils while passing. Here and there lay a dead enemy overlooked in
the night of the general burial, stripped of his outer clothing,
his blackened features and glassy eyes staring upturned to the hot
September sun, while our soldiers hurried past, leaving them unburied
and unnoticed. Some lay in the beaten track of our wagon trains, and
had been run over ruthlessly by the teamsters, they not having
the time, if the inclination, to remove them. The hot sun made
decomposition rapid, and the dead that had fallen on the steep incline
their heads had left the body and rolled several paces away. All the
dead had become as black as Africans, the hot rays of the sun changing
the features quite prematurely. In the opening where the Washington
Battalion of Artillery from New Orleans had played such havoc on the
30th with the enemy's retreating columns, it resembled some great
railroad wreck--cannon and broken caissons piled in great heaps;
horses lying swollen and stiff, some harnessed, others not; broken
rammers, smashed wheels, dismounted pieces told of the desperate
struggle that had taken place. One of the strange features of a
battlefield is the absence of the carrion crow or buzzard--it matters
little as to the number of dead soldiers or horses, no vultures ever
venture near--it being a fact that a buzzard was never seen in that
part of Virginia during the war.
All was still, save the rumble of the wagon trains and the steady
tread of the soldiers. Across Bull Run and out towards Washington
McLaws followed with hasty step the track of Longstreet and Jackson.
On the 5th or 6th we rejoined at last, after a two months' separation
from the other portion of the army. Lee was now preparing to invade
Maryland and other States North, as the course of events dictated.
Pope's Army had joined that of McClellan, and the authorities at
Washington had to call on the latter to "save their Capital." When the
troops began the crossing of the now classic Potomac, a name on every
tongue since the commencement of hostilities, their enthusiasm knew
no bounds. Bands played "Maryland, My Maryland," men sang and cheered,
hats filled the air, flags waved, and shouts from fifty thousand
throats reverberated up and down the banks of the river, to be echoed
back from the mountains and die away among the hills and highlands
of Maryland. Men stopped midway in the stream and sang loudly the
cheering strains of Randall's, "Maryland, My Maryland." We were
overjoyed at rejoining the army, and the troops of Jackson,
Longstreet, and the two Hills were proud to feel the elbow touch of
such chivalrous spirits as McLaws, Kershaw, Hampton, and others in the
conflicts that were soon to take place. Never before had an occurrence
so excited and enlivened the spirits of the troops as the crossing
of the Potomac into the land of our sister, Maryland. It is said the
Crusaders, after months of toil, marching, and fighting, on their
way through the plains of Asia Minor, wept when they saw the towering
spires of Jerusalem, the Holy City, in the distance; and if ever Lee's
troops could have wept for joy, it was at the crossing of the Potomac.
But we paid dearly for this pleasure in the death of so many thousands
of brave men and the loss of so many valuable officers. General Winder
fell at Cedar Mountain, and Jackson's right hand, the brave Ewell,
lost his leg at Manassas.
The army went into camp around Frederick City, Md. From here, on the
8th, Lee issued his celebrated address to the people of Maryland, and
to those of the North generally, telling them of his entry into their
country, its cause and purpose; that it was not as a conqueror, or an
enemy, but to demand and enforce a peace between the two countries.
He clothed his language in the most conservative and entreating terms,
professing friendship for those who would assist him, and protection
to life and the property of all. He enjoined the people, without
regard to past differences, to flock to his standard and aid in the
defeat of the party and people who were now drenching the country in
blood and putting in mourning the people of two nations. The young men
he asked to join his ranks as soldiers of a just and honorable cause.
Of the old he asked their sympathies and prayers. To the President of
the Confederate States he also wrote a letter, proposing to him
that he should head his armies, and, as the chieftain of the nation,
propose a peace to the authorities at Washington from the very
threshold of their Capital. But both failed of the desired effect. The
people of the South had been led to believe that Maryland was anxious
to cast her destinies with those of her sister States, that all her
sympathies were with the people of the South, and that her young men
were anxious and only awaiting the opportunity to join the ranks as
soldiers under Lee. But these ideas and promises were all delusions,
for the people we saw along the route remained passive spectators and
disinterested witnesses to the great evolutions now taking place. What
the people felt on the "eastern shore" is not known; but the acts of
those between the Potomac and Pennsylvania above Washington indicated
but little sympathy with the Southern cause; and what enlistments were
made lacked the proportions needed to swell Lee's army to its desired
limits. Lee promised protection and he gave it. The soldiers to a man
seemed to feel the importance of obeying the orders to respect and
protect the person and property of those with whom we came in contact.
It was said of this, as well as other campaigns in the North, that "it
was conducted with kid gloves on."
While lying at Frederick City, Lee conceived the bold and perilous
project of again dividing his army in the face of his enemy, and that
enemy McClellan. Swinging back with a part of his army, he captured
the stronghold of Harper's Ferry, with its 11,000 defenders, while
with the other he held McClellan at bay in front. The undertaking was
dangerous in the extreme, and with a leader less bold and Lieutenants
less prompt and skillful, its final consummation would have been more
than problematical. But Lee was the one to propose his subalterns to
act. Harper's Ferry, on the Virginia side of the Potomac, where that
river is intersected by the Shenandoah, both cutting their way through
the cliffs and crags of the Blue Ridge, was the seat of the United
States Arsenal, and had immense stores of arms and ammunition, as well
as army supplies of every description. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
and the canal cross the mountains here on the Maryland side, both
hugging the precipitous side of the mountain and at the very edge of
the water. The approaches to the place were few, and they so defended
that capture seemed impossible, unless the heights surrounding could
be obtained, and this appeared impossible from a military point of
view. On the south side are the Loudon and Bolivar Heights. On the
other side the mountains divide into two distinct ranges and gradually
bear away from each other until they reach a distance of three miles
from crest to crest. Between the two mountains is the beautiful and
picturesque Pleasant Valley. The eastern ridge, called South Mountain,
commencing from the rugged cliff at Rivertoria, a little hamlet
nestled down between the mountains and the Potomac, runs northwards,
while the western ridge, called Elk Mountain, starts from the bluff
called Maryland Heights, overlooking the town of Harper's Ferry, and
runs nearly parallel to the other. Jackson passed on up the river with
his division, Ewell's, and A.P. Hill's, recrossed the Potomac into
Virginia, captured Martinsburg, where a number of prisoners and
great supplies were taken, and came up and took possession of Bolivar
Heights, above Harper's Ferry. Walker's Division marched back across
the Potomac and took possession of Loudon Heights, a neck of high land
between the Shenandoah and Potomac overlooking Harper's Ferry from
below, the Shenandoah being between his army and the latter place.
On the 11th McLaws moved out of Frederick City, strengthened by the
brigades of Wilcox, Featherstone, and Pryor, making seven brigades
that were to undertake the capture of the stronghold by the mountain
passes and ridges on the north. Kershaw, it will be seen, was given
the most difficult position of passage and more formidable to attack
than any of the other routes of approach. Some time after Jackson and
Walker had left on their long march, McLaws followed. Longstreet and
other portions of the army and wagon trains kept the straight road
towards Hagerstown, while Kershaw and the rest of the troops under
McLaws took the road leading southwest, on through the town of
Burkettville, and camped at the foothills of the mountain, on the east
side. Next morning Kershaw, commanding his own brigade and that of
Barksdale, took the lead, passed over South Mountain, through Pleasant
Valley, and to Elk Ridge, three miles distance, thence along the top
of Elk Ridge by a dull cattle path. The width of the crest was not
more than fifty yards in places, and along this Kershaw had to move in
line of battle, Barksdale's Brigade in reserve. Wright's Brigade moved
along a similar path on the crest of South Mountain, he taking with
him two mountain howitzers, drawn by one horse each. McLaws, as
Commander-in-Chief, with some of the other brigades, marched by the
road at the base of the mountain below Wright, while Cobb was to keep
abreast of Kershaw and Barksdale at the base of Elk Ridge. Over
such obstacles as were encountered and the difficulties and dangers
separating the different troops, a line of battle never before made
headway as did those of Kershaw and the troops under McLaws.
We met the enemy's skirmishers soon after turning to the left on Elk
Ridge, and all along the whole distance of five miles we were more
or less harassed by them. During the march of the 12th the men had to
pull themselves up precipitous inclines by the twigs and undergrowth
that lined the mountain side, or hold themselves in position by the
trees in front. At night we bivouaced on the mountain. We could see
the fires all along the mountain side and gorges through Pleasant
Valley and up on South Mountain, where the troops of Wright had camped
opposite. Early next morning as we advanced we again met the enemy's
skirmishers, and had to be continually driving them back. Away to the
south and beyond the Potomac we could hear the sound of Jackson's guns
as he was beating his way up to meet us. By noon we encountered the
enemy's breastworks, built of great stones and logs, in front of which
was an abattis of felled timber and brushwood. The Third, under Nance,
and the Seventh, under Aiken, were ordered to the charge on the right.
Having no artillery up, it was with great difficulty we approached
the fortifications. Men had to cling to bushes while they loaded and
fired. But with their usual gallantry they came down to their work.
Through the tangled undergrowth, through the abattis, and over the
breastworks they leaped with a yell. The fighting was short but
very severe. The Third did not lose any field officers, but the line
suffered considerably. The Third lost some of her most promising
officers. Of the Seventh, Captain Litchfield, of Company L, Captain
Wm. Clark, of Company G, and lieutenant J.L. Talbert fell dead, and
many others wounded.
The Second and Eighth had climbed the mountains, and advanced on
Harper's Ferry from the east. The Second was commanded by Colonel
Kennedy and the Eighth by Colonel Henagan. The enemy was posted
behind works, constructed the same as those assaulted by the Third and
Seventh, of cliffs of rocks, trunks of trees, covered by an abattis.
The regiments advanced in splendid style, and through the tangled
underbrush and over boulders they rushed for the enemy's works.
Colonel Kennedy was wounded in the early part of the engagement, but
did not leave the field. The Second lost some gallant line officers.
When the order was given to charge the color bearer of the Eighth,
Sergeant Strother, of Chesterfield, a tall, handsome man of six
feet three in height, carrying the beautiful banner presented to the
regiment by the ladies of Pee Dee, fell dead within thirty yards of
the enemy's works. All the color guard were either killed or wounded.
Captain A.T. Harllee, commanding one of the color companies, seeing
the flag fall, seized it and waving it aloft, called to the men to
forward and take the breastworks. He, too, fell desperately wounded,
shot through both thighs with a minnie ball. He then called to Colonel
Henagan, he being near at hand, to take the colors. Snatching them
from under Captain Harllee, Colonel Henagan shouted to the men to
follow him, but had not gone far before he fell dangerously wounded.
Some of the men lifted up their fallen Colonel and started to the
rear; but just at this moment his regiment began to waver and break to
the rear. The gallant Colonel seeing this ordered his men to put him
down, and commanded in a loud, clear voice, "About face! Charge and
take the works," which order was obeyed with promptness, and soon
the flags of Kershaw's Regiments waved in triumph over the enemy's
Walker had occupied Loudon Heights, on the Virginia side, and all
were waiting now for Jackson to finish the work assigned to him and to
occupy Bolivar Heights, thus finishing the cordon around the luckless
garrison. The enemy's cavalry under the cover of the darkness crossed
the river, hugged its banks close, and escaped. During the night a
road was cut to the top of Maryland Heights by our engineer corps and
several pieces of small cannon drawn up, mostly by hand, and placed in
such position as to sweep the garrison below. Some of Jackson's
troops early in the night began climbing around the steep cliffs
that overlook the Shenandoah, and by daylight took possession of
the heights opposite to those occupied by Walker's Division. But
all during the day, while we were awaiting the signal of Jackson's
approach, we heard continually the deep, dull sound of cannonading
in our rear. Peal after peal from heavy guns that fairly shook the
mountain side told too plainly a desperate struggle was going on in
the passes that protected our rear. General McLaws, taking Cobb's
Georgia Brigade and some cavalry, hurried back over the rugged
by-paths that had been just traversed, to find D.H. Hill and
Longstreet in a hand-to-hand combat, defending the routes on South
Mountain that led down on us by the mountain crests. The next day
orders for storming the works by the troops beyond the river were
given. McLaws and Walker had secured their position, and now were in
readiness to assist Jackson. All the batteries were opened on Bolivar
Heights, and from the three sides the artillery duel raged furiously
for a time, while Jackson's infantry was pushed to the front and
captured the works there. Soon thereafter the white flag was waving
over Harper's Ferry, "the citadel had fallen." In the capitulation
eleven thousand prisoners, seventy-two pieces of artillery, twelve
thousand stands of small arms, horses, wagons, munitions, and supplies
in abundance passed into the hands of the Confederates. Jackson's
troops fairly swam in the delicacies, provisions, and "drinkables"
constituting a part of the spoils taken, while Kershaw's and all of
McLaw's and Walker's troops, who had done the hardest of the fighting,
got none. Our men complained bitterly of this seeming injustice.
It took all day to finish the capitulation, paroling prisoners, and
dividing out the supplies; but we had but little time to rest, for
Lee's Army was now in a critical condition. McClellan, having by
accident captured Lee's orders specifying the routes to be taken by
all the troops after the fall of Harper's Ferry, knew exactly where
and when to strike. The Southern Army was at this time woefully
divided, a part being between the Potomac and the Shenandoah, Jackson
with three divisions across the Potomac in Virginia, McLaws with his
own and a part of Anderson's Division on the heights of Maryland, with
the enemy five miles in his rear at Crompton Pass cutting him off from
retreat in that direction. Lee, with the rest of his army and reserve
trains, was near Hagerstown.
On the 16th we descended the mountain, crossed the Potomac, fell in
the rear of Jackson's moving army, and marched up the Potomac some
distance, recrossed into Maryland, on our hunt for Lee and his army.
The sun poured down its blistering rays with intense fierceness upon
the already fatigued and fagged soldiers, while the dust along the
pikes, that wound over and around the numerous hills, was almost
stifling. We bivouaced for the night on the roadside, ten miles from
Antietam Creek, where Lee was at the time concentrating his army, and
where on the next day was to be fought the most stubbornly contested
and bloody battle of modern times, if we take in consideration the
number of troops engaged, its duration, and its casualties. After
three days of incessant marching and fighting over mountain heights,
rugged gorges, wading rivers--all on the shortest of rations, many
of the men were content to fall upon the bare ground and snatch a few
moments of rest without the time and trouble of a supper.
* * * * *
Sharpsburg or Antietam--Return to Virginia.
When Lee crossed the Potomac the Department at Washington, as well
as the whole North, was thrown into consternation, and the wildest
excitement prevailed, especially in Maryland and Pennsylvania. "Where
was Lee?" "Where was he going?" were some of the questions that
flitted over the wires to McClellan from Washington, Philadelphia,
and Baltimore. But the personage about whose movements and whereabouts
seemed to excite more anxiety and superstitious dread than any or
all of Lee's Lieutenants was Jackson. The North regarded him as some
mythical monster, acting in reality the parts assigned to fiction. But
after it was learned that Lee had turned the head of his columns to
the westward, their fears were somewhat allayed. Governor Curtis, of
Pennsylvania, almost took spasms at the thought of the dreaded rebels
invading his domain, and called upon the militia "to turn out and
resist the invader." In less than three weeks after the battle of
Manassas, the North, or more correctly, New York, Pennsylvania, New
Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, had out 250,000 State troops behind
the Susquehanna River.
The great horde of negro cooks and servants that usually followed the
army were allowed to roam at will over the surrounding country, just
the same as down in Virginia. The negroes foraged for their masters
wherever they went, and in times of short rations they were quite
an adjunct to the Commissary Department, gathering chickens, butter,
flour, etc. Even now, when so near the Free States, with nothing
to prevent them from making their escape, the negroes showed no
disposition to take advantage of their situation and conditions, their
owners giving themselves no concern whatever for their safety. On more
occasions than one their masters told them to go whenever they wished,
that they would exercise no authority over them whatever, but I do not
believe a single negro left of his own accord. Some few were lost,
of course, but they were lost like many of the soldiers--captured by
foraging parties or left broken down along the roadside. It is a fact,
though, that during the whole war the negroes were as much afraid of
the "Yankee" as the white soldier, and dreaded capture more.
It might be supposed that we fared sumptuously, being in an enemy's
country at fruit and harvest time, with great waving fields of corn,
trees bending under loads of choice ripe fruits, but such was far from
being the case. Not an apple, peach, or plum was allowed to be taken
without payment, or at the owner's consent. Fields, orchards, and
farmhouses were strictly guarded against depredations. The citizens as
a whole looked at us askance, rather passive than demonstrative. The
young did not flock to our standards as was expected, and the old men
looked on more in wonder than in pleasure, and opened their granaries
with willingness, but not with cheerfulness. They accepted the
Confederate money offered as pay for meals or provisions more as a
respect to an overpowering foe than as a compensation for their wares.
A good joke in this campaign was had at the expense of Captain Nance,
of the Third. It must be remembered that the privates played many
practical jokes upon their officers in camps, when at other times
and on other occasions such would be no joke at all, but a bit of
downright rascality and meanness--but in the army such was called
fun. A nice chicken, but too old to fry, so it must be stewed. As the
wagons were not up, cooking utensils were scarce--about one oven to
twenty-five men. Captain Nance ordered Jess to bake the biscuit at
night and put away till morning, when the chicken would be cooked and
a fine breakfast spread. Now the Captain was overflowing in good humor
and spirits, and being naturally generous-hearted, invited the
Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel Rutherford, the latter his prospective
brother-in-law, down to take breakfast with him. The biscuits were
all baked nicely and piled high up on an old tin plate and put in the
Captain's tent at his head for safe keeping during the night. Early
next morning the fowl was "jumping in the pan," as the boys would say,
while the Captain made merry with the others over their discomfiture
at seeing him and his guests eating "chicken and flour bread," while
they would be "chewing crackers." All things must come to an end, of
course; so the chicken was at last "cooked to a turn," the Colonel
and the future brother-in-law are seated expectantly upon the ground
waiting the breakfast call. The Captain was assisting Jess in putting
on the finishing touches to the tempting meal, as well as doing the
honors to his distinguished guests. When all was ready he ordered Jess
to bring out the biscuits. After an unusual long wait, as it may have
appeared to Captain Nance under the condition of his appetite and the
presence of his superiors, he called out, "Why in the thunder don't
you bring out the biscuits, Jess?" Still blankets were overturned and
turned again, knapsacks moved for the fourth or fifth time, yet Jess
hunted faithfully in that little four by six tent for the plate of
biscuits. "Why in the h----l don't you come on with the biscuits,
Jess?" with a pronounced accent on the word "Jess." Meanwhile Jess
poked his black, shaggy head through the tent door, the white of his
eyes depicting the anguish of his mind, his voice the despair he felt,
answered: "Well, Marse John, before God Almighty, ef somebody ain't
tooken stole dem bisket." Tableaux!! Twenty-five years afterwards at a
big revival meeting at Bethel Church, in Newberry County, a great many
"hard cases," as they were called, were greatly impressed with the
sermons, and one especially seemed on the point of "getting religion,"
as it is called. But he seemed to be burdened with a great weight.
At the end of the service he took out Captain Nance and expressed
a desire to make a confession. "Did you ever know who stole your
biscuits that night at Frederick City?" "No." "Well, I and Bud
Wilson--" But Captain Nance never allowed John Mathis to finish, for
as the light of that far-off truth dawned upon him and seemed to
bring back the recollection of that nice brown chicken and the missing
biscuits he said: "No, I'll never forgive you; go home and don't try
for religion any longer, for a crime as heinous as yours is beyond
forgiveness. Oh, such depravity!" It appears since that two of his
most intimate friends had robbed him just for the fun they would have
over his disappointment in the morning and the chagrin the Captain
would experience, but the biscuits were too tempting to keep.
On the morning of the 17th we were yet ten miles from Sharpsburg,
where Lee had drawn up his army around that little hamlet and along
Antietam Creek, to meet the shock of battle that McClellan was
preparing to give. The battleground chosen was in a bend of the
Potomac, Lee's left resting on the river above and around to the front
to near the point where the Antietam enters the Potomac on the right.
The little sluggish stream between the two armies, running at the base
of the heights around and beyond Sharpsburg, was not fordable for some
distance above the Potomac, and only crossed by stone bridges at the
public roads. Up near Lee's left it could be crossed without bridges.
The Confederate Army now lay in a small compass in this bend of the
river, the Federal Army extending in his front from the river above
to the Antietam below, just above its junction with the Potomac. That
stream rolled in a deep, strong current in the rear of Lee.
Even before the sun had spread its rays over the heights of this
quaint old Quaker town sufficient to distinguish objects a few feet
away, the guns were booming along the crossings of Antietam. With a
hurried breakfast Kershaw took up the line of march along the dusty
roads in the direction of the firing, which had begun by daylight
and continued to rage incessantly during the day and till after dark,
making this the most bloody battle for the men engaged fought during
the century. In its casualties--the actual dead upon the field and
the wounded--for the time of action, it exceeded all others before
or since. When we neared General Lee's headquarters, some distance in
rear of the town, D.H. Hill and part of Jackson's forces were already
in the doubtful toils of a raging conflict away to our left and front,
where Hooker was endeavoring to break Lee's left or press it back upon
the river. Barksdale's Brigade, of our division, was in front, and
when near the battlefield formed in line of battle. Kershaw formed his
lines with the Third, Colonel Nance, in front, nearly parallel with a
body of woods, near the Dunker Church, and left of the road leading to
it, the enemy being about five hundred yards in our front. The other
regiments were formed in line on our left as they came up, Colonel
Aiken, of the Seventh, Lieutenant Colonel Hoole, of the Eighth, and
Colonel Kennedy, of the Second, in the order named, Barksdale moving
in action before our last regiment came fairly in line. Sumner, of the
Federal Army, was pushing his forces of the Second Army Corps forward
at this point of the line in columns of brigades, having crossed the
Antietam at the fords above. Sedgwick, of his leading division, had
already formed in line of battle awaiting our assault. One of the
Georgia Brigades of the division formed on Kershaw's left, while the
other acted as reserve, and a general advance was ordered against
the troops in the woods. The battle was in full blast now along the
greater part of the line. General Longstreet, speaking of the time
Kershaw came in action, says: "The fire spread along both lines from
left to right, across the Antietam, and back again, and the thunder
of the big guns became continuous and increased to a mighty volume. To
this was presently added the sharper rattle of musketry, and the surge
of mingling sound sweeping up and down the field was multiplied and
confused by the reverberations from the rocks and hills. And in the
great tumult of sound, which shook the air and seemed to shatter the
cliffs and ledges above the Antietam, bodies of the facing foes were
pushed forward to closer work, and soon added the clash of steel to
the thunderous crash of cannon shot. Under this storm, now Kershaw
advanced his men. Through the open, on through the woods, with a solid
step these brave men went, while the battery on their left swept their
ranks with grape and canister." In the woods the brigade was moved to
the left to evade this storm of shot and shell. The Mississippians on
the left were now reforming their broken ranks. Colonel Aiken, of the
Seventh, had fallen badly wounded in the first charge, and the command
was given to Captain White. This was the first battle in a fair field
in which the new commanders of the regiments had had an opportunity to
show their mettle and ability, and well did they sustain themselves.
Savage Station and Maryland Heights were so crowded with underbrush
and vision so obscured that they were almost battles in the dark.
Colonel Kennedy, of the Second, and Lieutenant Colonel Hoole, of
the Eighth, were handling their men in splendid style, the Seventh
changing its commander three times while in battle. Colonel Nance
changed his front in the lull of battle, and moved under the friendly
cover of a hill, on which was posted the battery that had been graping
the field so desperately during the first advance. The brigade had
now passed through the field of waving corn, over the rail fence, and
driven Sedgwick from his position. Barksdale, who had been staggered
by the first impact, was now moving up in beautiful harmony; the
steady, elastic step of his men, the waving banners, the officers
marching in the rear, their bright blades glittering in the sunlight,
made a most imposing spectacle. Up the slope, among the straggling
oaks, they bent their steps, while the grape, shell, and canister
thinned their ranks to such an extent that when the enemy's infantry
was met, their galling fire forced Barksdale to retire in great
disorder. The enemy's troops were being hurried ever the creek and
forming in our front. Kershaw moved forward in line with those on the
right to meet them, and swept everything from his front. The enemy
had been massing along the whole line, and when Kershaw reached the
farthest limit of the open field he was met by overwhelming numbers.
Now the fight waged hot and fierce, but the line on the right having
retired left the right flank of the Third Regiment entirely exposed
both to the fire of the artillery and infantry, forcing the brigade to
retire to its former ground, leaving, however, the second commander of
the Seventh dead upon the field. It was here the famous scout and aide
to General Stuart, Captain W.D. Parley, killed at the Rappahannock,
came to visit his brother, Lieutenant Parley, of the Third. He was
made doubly famous by the fiction of Captain Estine Cooke.
McClellan was now growing desperate, his lines making no headway
either on the left or centre. His forces were held at bay on our right
across the Antietam, having failed to force a crossing at the bridges.
Jackson and Hill, on the left, were being sorely pressed by the corps
of Mansfield and Hooker, but still doggedly held their ground. Jackson
had left the division of A.P. Hill at Harper's Ferry to settle the
negotiations of surrender, and had but a comparative weak force to
meet this overwhelming number of two army corps. Again and again the
Confederate ranks were broken, but as often reformed. Stuart stood on
the extreme left, with his body of cavalry, but the condition of the
field was such as to prevent him from doing little more service than
holding the flanks. General Toombs, with his Georgia Brigade, and
some detached troops, with two batteries, held the lower fords all day
against the whole of Burnside's corps, notwithstanding the imperative
orders of his chief "to cross and strike the Confederates in the
rear." Assaults by whole divisions were repeatedly made against the
small force west of the stream, but were easily repulsed by Toombs
and his Georgians. In all probability these unsuccessful attacks would
have continued during the day, had not the Federals found a crossing,
unknown to the Confederate Generals, between the bridges. When the
crossing was found the whole slope on the western side of the stream
was soon a perfect sheet of blue. So sure were they of victory that
they called upon the Confederates to "throw down their arms and
surrender." This was only answered by a volley and a charge with the
bayonet point. But there was a factor in the day's battle not yet
taken account of, and which was soon to come upon the field like a
whirlwind and change the course of events. A.P. Hill, who had been
left at Harper's Ferry, was speeding towards the bloody field with all
the speed his tired troops could make. Gregg, Branch, and Archer, of
Hill's Division, were thrown into the combat at this most critical