previous next

The battle of Williamsburg--reply to Colonel Bratton.

By Colonel D. K. Mcrae.

Wilmington, N. C., June 3d, 1879.
Rev. J. William Jones, Secretary, Richmond:
My Dear Sir-The June number of the Southern Historical Society Papers, being volume VII, No. 6, of the series, has been placed in my hands by a friend, who called my attention to a “paper” purporting to be a “narrative of Colonel Bratton, Sixth South Carolina regiment,” of the operations of his regiment at Williamsburg, May 5th, 1862. This “paper” seems to have been written in 1868, and was “originally prepared for General E. P. Alexander.” The “paper” does not confine itself to a “narrative of the operations” of that regiment, but goes on to describe the action of General J. A. Early's brigade, on the left of our line, in an encounter it had with a brigade of General W. S. Hancock, in the evening of that day, and the author allows himself to criticise the conduct of the officer then in command of the Fifth North Carolina regiment, which made part of Early's brigade, and which bore, I think I may say, a conspicuous part in that encounter — and to express the opinion that but for “bad management” (which, in the connection it bears, has reference to the officer in immediate command) the attack would have been effective.

The language of Colonel Bratton is: “I have never, on any field during the war, seen more splendid gallantry than on that field of Williamsburg, but that splendid gallantry was thrown away, and wasted by bad management, when it would have been entirely effective if properly directed.” The compliment is a fit one to the Fifth North Carolina regiment. No troops could have behaved more courageously, and certainly none suffered more disastrously. A casualty list of two hundred and ninety killed and wounded, out of a total of four hundred and ten, rank and file; of ten commissioned officers killed and ten wounded of twenty-four who entered the fight, bespeaks a mortal combat and the steadiness of those engaged. The exalted enconium which its distinguished adversary passed upon it when he said, “The State of North Carolina should write immortal on the banner of its Fifth regiment,” was a tribute worthy to be rendered by a heroic enemy. A glowing testimony also to its “splendid gallantry” may be found in the columns of the New York Herald, published a few days after the battle.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Calonel Bratton (3)
J. A. Early (2)
D. K. McRae (1)
John William Jones (1)
W. S. Hancock (1)
E. P. Alexander (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 3rd, 1879 AD (1)
1868 AD (1)
May 5th, 1862 AD (1)
June (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: