‘The gallant Pelham’ and his gun at Fredericksburg.
letter from Major H. B. Mcclellan.
Rev. J. Wm. Jones, D. D., Secretary of the Southern Historical Society:Dear Sir,—My attention has recently been called to a publication entitled ‘Contributions to a History of the Richmond Howitzer Battalion, Pamphlet No. 3,’ which contains, on page 58, a letter from Reuben B. Pleasants, Sergeant of the Second company, in which the claim is made that the praise which was bestowed by General R. E. Lee, General J. E. B. Stuart, and by others, upon Major John Pelham, of the Stuart Horse Artillery, for the gallantry with which he fought one Napoleon gun upon the extreme Confederate right, at the opening of the battle of Fredericksburg, on the 13th of December, 1862, really belongs to a gun of the second company of the Richmond Howitzer Battalion, which was served by Sergeant Pleasants himself. I make the following extracts from Sergeant Pleasant's letter. He says:
Soon after the war, I read a volume of “so-called” history, written, I think, by Howison, in which was an account of the gallant conduct of Pelham's artillery in the battle of Fredericksburg, ascribing to Pelham and his command what was really the work of the first detachment of our old Second company, even crediting our killed and wounded to the Horse Artillery. Subsequently, I read substantially the same in General Lee's report of the engaement. I have also read allusions of the same tenor in articles contributed to the Southern Historical Society Papers. I have, at each repetition of the error, thought I would write something for publication, giving the truth of this affair (which all seem to think so gallant and glorious), but until now neglected to do so. General Alexander says (Southern Historical Society Papers, Nos. 10 and 11 of Volume X, page 446), that “Lieutenant Pelham, of Alabama, approached close upon the enemy's left flank with only two guns, and so punished his line of battle that the advance was checked until Pelham could be driven off, an operation which it took four batteries an hour to accomplish.” Now, on that morning after an all-night march with Jackson's corps, from near Port Royal, our battery, with a number of other