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From Manassas to Frazier's Farm.

Recollections of a soldier in many Battles—General Lee to the rear.


Sir,—I read in the Confederate Column of The TimesDis-patch some time ago Corporal Tom's article, in which he gave some intensely interesting accounts of his close calls and other experiences in the War of the Sixties. This has encouraged me to offer a few of my own experiences, and other incidents that have never found their way in print.

I was a native of Warren County, and in the early days of 1861, when I was just a plain farmer, twenty-four years of age, I assisted in organizing an infantry company of eighty-four men. The organization was completed on the 17th day of June, 1861, and M. T. Wheatley, a graduate of Lexington, was elected captain; B. S. Jacobs, first lieutenant; J. B. Updyke, second lieutenant; R. S. Funkhouser, junior second lieutenant; E. V. Boyd, orderly sergeant; John G. Brown, color sergeant. Later Boyd was made second lieutenant; Brown, junior second lieutenant, and Private A. Updyke was elected second lieutenant. Captain Wheatley was promoted to major in October, and died of typhoid fever in December, 1861.

We remained at Front Royal, drilling and having our uniforms made, until July, 1861, when on the 16th day of that month we reported to Colonel William Smith (Extra Billy) at Manassas Junction for duty.

Battle of Manassas.

On the morning of the 21st of July, 1861, we were bivouacked near the Lewis House, and within four hundred yards of the Henry House, which was destined to become the key to the great strategic move of that day, although I think it was a surprise to our generals, for they expected the conflict to take place about five or six miles to the right of it. We were, through [367] sympathy occasioned by our awkward appearance, sent there to be out of harm's way, rather than as an outpost. We had just received our guns since our arrival at Manassas, and were without cartridge boxes or bayonet scabbards, and had to carry the cartridges in the men's pockets, with the bayonets fixed on the end of the guns. I have often thought what a ludicrous appearance we would have made to the New York Zouaves (the red breeches fellows), who had been drilled and equipped to perfection, and were Uncle Sam's, or Abe's, especial pets; but, fortunately for us, they did not wait to observe us long at that Henry House hill when we charged into them and took Rickett's Battery, which they were supporting, or rather, the Stonewall Brigade, took the battery, and we paid our respects to the Zouaves; and a great many of them stayed with us in killed and wounded. We went into the fight with only two other companies of what afterwards became the 49th Virginia Regiment, to-wit: Captain Ward's, afterward Randolph's, from Warrenton, Va., and Captain Charles B. Christian's, from Amherst County, Va., and temporarily brigaded with Brigadier-General Philip St. George Cooke. We were formed, when the crisis of the battle had come, on the left of the 39th Virginia Regiment, which was the left wing of the Stonewall Brigade. We lost four men killed and eighteen wounded out of our company that day. This was my first battle, and I wish I could describe my feelings on that occasion; but I can only say that it was a terrific change from a peaceful, quiet and happy home, the home of my youth, where we worshipped on the Sabbath day, and none dared to molest us or make us afraid.

Singular coincidence.

And here I wish to mention that it was a singular coincidence that our company and regiment were thrown into the balance when the crisis had come at the first battle of Manassas, as already described, and also on the ever-memorable 12th of May, 1864, at Spotsylvania Courthouse, when General Lee offered to lead us to retake the works just after General Edward Johnson's Division was captured, of which the writer and many others have minutely described in the columns of The Times-Dispatch, for it seems that no other incident of the war has [368] attracted more attention than that. Methinks that I can see General Lee yet, and hear the ‘rebel yell,’ that was raised when his horse was led back and we charged, and, as in the charge at Manassas, we won.

The night after the battle at Williamsburg, the 6th of May, 1862, our regiment Was standing in line of battle in front of the winter quarters of some of General Magruder's troops, and it was pouring down rain. We were wet as water could make us, even with good overcoats on, and it was very dark, so Lieutenant J. B. Updyke and myself groped into one of the huts and found something soft to lay our heads on, and soon we were both fast asleep. A cannon-ball crashed through our shanty, and the rattle of shingles and shower of daubing and debris woke us up, and when we started to decamp in a great hurry, Lieutenant Updyke said, wofully: ‘I've lost my hat. Have you got a match?’ When I struck one, lo and behold! there was a large Newfoundland dog, which had served as our pillow, lying there dead; but we did not hold a post-mortem to ascertain the cause of his death, because another cannon-ball came shrieking close over our heads.

My first close call was at Seven Pines, the 31st of May, 1862, when we were going into the fight and wending our way through that impenetrable swamp and abattis, sluiced with water after a big rain. I was following in the wake of Corporal G. W. Fox, a file closer, it being my position in line of battle as lieutenant. When Fox was stepping around a tree he hesitated to push some briers to one side, and after I stepped with my right foot forward, I withdrew it and pushed by the other side of the tree, instead of waiting for him to get out of my way. Just then a cannon-ball came along and took one of Fox's legs off. We went in that fight with forty-six men, and only twenty-two came out unharmed. Captain B. S. Jacobs was wounded and Lieutenant L. V. Boyd was killed.

We were in General George B. Anderson's Brigade, with the 4th North Carolina and two Georgia Regiments there, and in the entanglement of brush and felled trees we became mixed up, but still trying to go forward. I noticed Colonel, afterwards General, Bryan Grymes, of the 4th North Carolina, riding near me, carrying the flag of his regiment, the bearer having [369] been shot down. When I called to him to let me carry the flag, saying, too, that he would be killed, he replied, calmly: ‘Lieutenant, your life is worth as much as mine.’ I did not think of the awkward looks of a Virginian carrying a North Carolina flag for them, and I do not know whether the General did or not.

The morning after the battle of Frazier's Farm, June 30, 1862, I was detailed to take command of forty-five skirmishers to charge the bluecoats out of a barn, and when we started at double quick it looked like going into the jaws of death. We were greatly relieved when the enemy hoisted the white flag and surrendered, sixty-two of them, for the whole Yankee Army had left the night previous for Malvern Hill.


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