An interesting letter.
the first Virginia regiment--their Experience in the camp — brave and popular officers — Lists of Promotions, killed and wounded — a tribute to a brave soldier — facts and Incident, &c.
[correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
Camp near Centreville. Dec. 4, 1861
While watchful thousands, distant from the of operations, are awaiting, with anxious hearts and bated breath, the commencement of the great conflict which, in the nature of things, it would seem must inevitably within a few days or weeks; and while the two main bodies of the mighty opposing hosts seem to be "in dread silence repeated.
It may perhaps be gratifying to the numerous friends of the 1st Virginia regiment to learn something of events transpiring within and directly concerning that particular corps.
Pound, as almost all of its members by the strongest of human to many of the citizens of Richmond
, I that its destiny is of vital concern portion of your readers, and that ments are watched with emotions of the so ude. As the gray of evening sppeaches and the meditative hour near, when the storm clouds move across the and the hollow wail the night wind dies a long the distant hills; the driving rain-drops dash against the and all beyond the preciously is gloomy and wretched, well believe that the fancy of the loved at home-paints, with a coloring that even the reality, the scenes which the soldier is mingling, and the cir by which he is surrounded — the shelter of his canvas house, the keen of the pitiless.
December breath, and fielding couch of earth.
At such and in his every hour of discomfort the soldier who has th in prayer himself the unspeakable consolation fervent petitions from the lips of whom he has girded on his armor to are ascending to the Throne of Grace for his safety and guidance.
The blessed memory of home, and all its lations, bread into the gloom darkest hours, like a ray of sunshine the riven clouds, and the hope of re stored whetter cheers him in the of inactive camp life, upon the long and weary march, and nerves him even in the entdeadly breach." Perhaps for some the fraction of that hope will never be the eyes of those who await our coming may in vain from the window or the until dimmed with watching and snowy brows, and the fair hands the sunlight from them as they may alike become wrinkled and swarthy age, and the w chers, too, pass into of shadows, as those whom they for had done long before, but they be it not.
On the 25th of May last, the 1st Regiment of teers left the Hermitage Fair
for Manassas Junction
We all remember that cene--the gathering of mothers, and wives to bid a tearful.
some, alas ! to say farewell for earth to the men who were turning faces from all they held dear and going How finely the regiment look gleamed their steel in the of the morning — how gaily waved their in the soft of martial music were an red by the measured tread of a thousand wear ed --how sore and ti since-- Each countenance was radiant with the ardor of enthusiasm, and "battle's magnificently tern array med up in the future, painted with all the geous colorings of a poetic On the cars the shrill whistle is sou ted few hurried words of parting, a few, blessings invoked with the intensity of almost blessing hearts, and off they speed the thundering, trains from all worth earth.
How many changes have taken place since The ssitudes of six months service the field, such as we have seen are an or by which the souls and bodies of men are thoroughly tried, and with us it has been as a fiery furnace.
Some have up their lives in the defence of their in the defence of their country others are at home suffering from received in battle, more have been rated by sickness from exposure and while others have from causes best themselves, resigned or sought and Our ranks have been most past recognition; many fa are gone forever, and strange ones are now seen instead.
And yet, despite the kings of time and circumstance, the 1st regiment has shield its own"surprise.
We left Richmond
numbering 620 men, rank and file, the morning's report of this date shows --two companies, be it remembered having been added to us since leaving home, to say nothing or recruit.
Our ment was then composed of companies B, G, H, J. and K. The Grays
, Blues and F, properly belonging to the regiment, were not mustered in with us, being absent the time on duty, in other portions of the State
These companies, I understand, had expressed their determination not to become of Cel. Moore
's command, and spoke with contempt.
Had they been with us we should have had our full numbers, and have been, in all respects, the finest regiment service.
the battles of the 18th and 21st their has changed, and two of the companies have indicated their perfect willing acknowledge our gallant leader and the regiment.
A shot time after ar at Manassas
we were strengthened by be addition of company E, Captain Sher
imposed chiefly of- citizens of Wash and Alexandria
, of the famous West battery, and claims to have and wear the sword which his namesake lost in the battle of Manassas
He wishes no greater than that of measuring weapons with the Federal
officer on another field.
The first change of importance that took place in the regiment was the resignation of Major Manford
, who had received and accepted the Colonelcy of the 17th Virginia regiment.
He is a gallant officer and gentleman, and his loss was a source of sincere regret to every man in the regiment.
H ing the battle of the 18th he was In our midst, and mingled in the est of the fight, proving himself every the brave man and heroic soldier.
Shortly after Major Munford
's resignation the vacancy occasioned thereby was filled by the appointment of Major F. G. Skinner
, of county, Virginia
Of all the men whom I have yet seen in the army, our Major
has the most military air. With candor spoken we were at first disposed to view , appointment with disfavor, without ing ourselves to inquire the whys and therefore, and doubtless would have regarded any new incumbent with the same A brief time sufficed, however, to work a complete revolution in our ing on the subject, and how we are all ing to follow ‘"our Major
"’ to the death.
During our first encounter with the enemy, Col. Moore
had fallen, and Lieut. Col
had been glory.
For the first time, he had command of the regiment, and right bly Wherever the death-dealing of the enemy fell thickest, there was he steed encouraging the men to He was the perfect picture of an leader, and the recollection of that day will create a halo about his noble old head that shall shine upon his virtues alone, building the moralist to the frailties of his generous nature, making his memory in years a sacred thing.
On the morning of July 21st, the regiment was ordered to cross Bull Run
, and take position in an adjacent field.
Gently rising hill, topped with a scant growth of pines, served to hide us from the view of the enemy; but they seemed to know our position, for a terrible fire of shot and shell rained from one of their batteries in our front, bursting in fearful proximity all around us, or crashing through the woods in our rear where a South Carolina regiment was entrenched.
Having ordered a halt Major Skinner
thus addressed us ‘"Boys, we have got to take that battery.
Recollect, when the time comes, you must charge it with a yell
I will not order you where I do not go. I
shall lead and you
shall follow me."’ This was said while the Major
was feeding his horse with a bundle of cats, which he had brought along under his arm from a stack near by. Having flashed his speech he walked to the top of the hill, and, climbing a tree, coolly surveyed the enemy.--I expected every moment to see him tumble down but the Major
is as sure of foot as he is firm of purpose and having concluded his reconnaissance, he returned to where we lay, at full length on the ground, under the most oppressing gun I ever knew.
After we had endured the shelling of the enemy about 2 hours during which several of our men were badly wounded, an aid from General Longstreet
came riding to us to know whether the fire affected us. ‘"It doesn't affect me at all,"’ replied the Major
," ‘"I don't know how it is with others about here.
Tell the General
I shell hold my position until ordered to change it"’ For reasons unknown to us, we were shortly after ordered to resume our first position, and the darling idea of the Major
‘"charging a battery with the First,"’ was not gratified.
The day we reached Centreville
(July 24th)A portion of the company, known formerly at the National Rifles, from Washington
, was added to the regiment as company F. --The original company was commanded by well known in military
cles; but he being under arrest and awaiting a trial by Court Martial, (since honorably acquitted) Lieut. Cummings
was in authority.
This corps did not remain with us long, Gen. Longstreet
finding it necessary to send them to Manassas
, without arms, for open mutiny against their commanding officer.
They have since been disbanded, and their several Lieutenants
assigned to another branch of the service.
On the 11th day of August we took up our march for Fairfax Court- House, arriving there at dark, as tired a set, of men as I ever saw. We reached the Court-House
on Saturday night, and on Sunday morning pitched our tents on the left of the road, and just below the village, where we remained until the night of the 16th of October, when the whole army of the Potomac retreated.
Our life, while encamped at Fairfax
, was by far the most arduous that we have experienced, going alternately to Falls Church
on picket duty, and turning out at the beat of the long-roll to march to meet an enemy that would not show himself.
On the occasion of one of these false alarms, the regiment marched is miles without halting.
This sort of thing did us no harm, however, but rather served to inure us to hardship and danger, and to make us better soldiers.
A short time after our arrival at Fairfax
, Capt. S. P. Mitchell
, our Adjutant, was appointed Brigade Quartermaster, with the rank of Major
, and Lieut. Wm. H. Palmer
, of company D, was chosen to fill the office made vacant.
No better selection could have been made for either of the two mentioned positions.
The acceptance of the resignation of Lt. Col. Fry
was read out on dress parade a few evenings since.
This was altogether unex — pected by the men, and occasioned not a few comments.
The regiment is greatly indebted to Col. Fry
for many things.
No officer was ever more conscientious in the discharge of his duty — more careful of his men in all the minutia affecting their health, comfort, or safety.
Our camp, under his scrutinizing eye, was the most regularly laid off, and the most cleanly of any that I have seen.
Our proficiency in drill is almost entirely due to him--Col. Moore
being so long absent from sickness, and other causes.
In a word, we have lost one of the very best officers, and the best drill-master in the service.
has been appointed in his place, and Captain Dooley
The two appointments are the most popular that could possibly have been made.
In consequence of the latter promotion, Lieutenant English
has been chosen Captain
of Company C. --Vacant offices now exist in the company, which will soon be filled.
The regiment now consists of--
, P. T. Moore
; Lieutenant Colonel, Fred. G. Skinner
, John Dooley
; Adjutant, Wm. H. Palmer
; Quartermaster, Wm. G. Allan
: Commissary, Henry Harney
; Assistant Surgeon, Thos F. Maury
Company B--Captain, Randolph Harrison
; 1st Lieutenant, Wm. Wirt Harrison
; 2d Lieutenant James H. Cobb
; Jr. 2d Lieutenant
. T. Herbert Davis
. Wm. English
; 1st Lieutenant
, David King
; 2d Lieutenant
, James Mitchell
Company D--Captain, Jos. D. Griswold
: 2d Lieutenant
, George F. Norton
; Jr. 2d Lieutenant
. E. Payson Reeve
Company E.--Captain, Chas. K. Sherman
; 1st Lieutenant
, Wm. N. Barker
; 21 Lieutenant
. George W. O Jr. 2d Lieutenant
, Wm. B. Maxwell
Company G.--Captain, Wm. F. Gordon
; 1st Lieutenant
, Frank A. Langley
; 2d Lieutenant, Eldridge Morris
; Jr. 2d Lieutenant
, John McDonald
Company H--Captain, John H. Greaner
; 1st Lieutenant
. T. Vaughan
; 2d Lieutenant, Wm. E. Tysinger
. Jr 2d Lieutenant
, Oscar R. Hough
Company I.--Captain, J. W. Tabb
; 1st Lieutenant
, Benj. F. Howard
; 2d Lieutenant, John A. Tyree
; Jr. 2d.
, Wm. W. McKaig
Company K.--Captain, Florence Miller
; 1st Lieutenant, F. W. E. Loman
; 2d Lieutenant
, Fred. W. Hagemeyer
; Jr. 2d Lieutenant
, Herman Paul
The following is a statement of the changes that have taken place among the commissioned officers:
Company B--Randolph Harrison
, elected Captain
, vice James K Lee
, died August 2d, from a wound received July 18th. Wm. W. Harrison
, promoted, vice J. W. Archer
, promoted to a captaincy and assigned to Brig. Gen. Anderson
Company C.--Wm. English
, promoted, vice Capt.
cotey, made Major
, promoted, vice Lieut. M. Segars
Company D--Lieut. Reeve
, promoted, vice Lieut. Henry Harney
. Wm. H. Palmer
, Adjutant, vice S. P. Mitchell
, promoted to Captain
in the Q. M. Department
, and assigned to duty with Gen. Langstreet
Company G--Lieut. Langley
, promoted, vice S. H. Tucker
, resigned Lieut Morris
, promoted, vice Lieut. H. Miles
, killed July 18th. Lieut McDonald
, promoted, vice Lieut. Morris
Company H.--J. H. Greaner
, elected Captain
, vice F. H. Boggs
Lieut. J. T. Vaughn
. promoted, vice Lieut. Greanor
. Lieut. Wm. H. Tysinger
, promoted, vice Lieut. Vaughan Lieut. O. R. Hough
, elected from the ranks, vice Wm. Allan
Company L.--W. Tabb
. promoted, vice Capt Taylor
Lieut. Jno. A. Tyree
, promoted, vice J. T. Rodgers
Lieut. B. F. Howard
, promoted, vice Jno. A. Tyree
, promoted, Lieut. W. W. McKaig
, promoted, vice B. F. Howard
Company K.--Lieut. Paul
, promoted, vice Lieut. Linkenhauser
I also add a statement of the killed and wounded in the battles of the 18th and 21st July:
) Engglish, wounded in the leg. Serg't. Patrick Rankin
, wounded in the leg; since dead.
, wounded in the leg; since dead.
, through the body; recovered Michael Hughes
, through the body: recovered.
, through the arm; recovered.
Andrew Foresight, through arm: recovered.
, through body: died All on the 18th. Jno. Cavenang
in the hand, on the 21st.
Company B.--Capt. Lee
, mortally wounded Lieut. Wirt Harrison
, wounded in foot; recovered.
Sergeant Wm. J. Lumpkin
, wounded in hand: recovered.
wounded in head; recovered.
, wounded in breast; recovered.
All on the 18th.
Company G.--Lieut. H. H. Miles
, mortally wounded.
J. Scott Mallory
, killed. Henry Ashby
, wounded in foot; recovered.
, wounded in hand; recovered.
James A. Royester
wounded in arm; recovered.
Wm. S. ware, wounded in foot.
All on 18th.
Company E.--S. Morris
, killed. James E. Marron
All on 18th.
Company K.--Wolfgang Discout
Wm. E. Cree
, wounded; recovered.
, wounded; recovered.
wounded. recovered. All on 18th. Phil. C. Degechart
, wounded, on the 21st.
Company H--Milton H. Barnes
, killed;* and Jona Morgan
, wounded on the 18th.
*I wish here to say a word of young Milton Rarnes
— not to make an invidious distinction between those who have fallen, but because he was a member of the company to which I belong, and well known by me. All who were acquainted with this gallant youth remember his jovial nature, his merry, lighthearted disposition.
No member of our company was more popular than he, for all liked ‘"little Milton
"’ for his jolly humor and uniform amiability.
When the battle of the 18th of July was about to commence, as we stood in death like silence, awaiting the onset of the foe. I looked at Milton
to see if I could detect in his countenance anything indicative of the emotions which certainly stirred my own bosom, and cast a pallor over almost every face.
I never saw a countenance freer from a shade of anxiety or care.
With gun in hand and finger upon the trigger, his face wore simply the animated expression of a hunter's, who momentarily expects his game to spring from the covering of an adjacent thicket.
When the battle was raging I frequently heard his usual merry laugh and cheerful voice, and his reckless daring elicited the frequent remonstrance and admonition of his comrades.
Just as the fight was coming to a close poor Milton
I was standing near him at the time, but was not aware of what had occurred until one of our men called to me to come to his assistance.
I immediately ran to where Barnes
lay. He was on his back, his arms fallen helplessly at either side.
I asked him if he wanted water, whether he wished to be removed, &c. To these he answered, with perfect calmness, ‘"No, please leave me as I am."’ He uttered no word of complaint from the time he was wounded until his death.
He was shot entirely through the left side with a Minnie ball.
We speedily conveyed him to the hospital for medical attention, but a sight of his would told the tale at once, and the Surgeon
turned away with the remark, ‘"give him what he wants."’ I saw him about an hour after he had been borne to the rear.
I shall never forget the marble-white face and glassy eyes, so changed in one short hour ! He was then quite unconscious, and died shortly after.--Poor Milton
! gallant youth, heroic soldier ! A more fearless spirit never animated the breast of man. His comrades made him a grave beneath an apple tree in the field adjoining McLane's house, and wrapping his form in blankets, consigned him tearfully to his last resting place; and there he sleeps the sleep of a pale and mighty throng whom the clang of battle shall disturb no more forever,
‘"How sleep the brave who sink to rest By all their country's wishes blest."’
Such is a brief sketch of some of the incidents in the history of the 1st Virginia regiment--a burps incapable of performing the duties of a full regiment without imposing on its members a far greater amount of labor than should justly fall to their lot. The details for weeks past have been very heavy.
These details are made from the Brigade Headquarters
, whence they are issued simultaneously to the several regiments and corps of the brigade.
They ought to be made with reference to the strength of each regiment.--Such does not seem to be the case, however; and as the numerical strength of the 1st regiment is much less than that of either of the others, we are thus required to perform a double share of duty.
If we were only rated as a battalion — and we are scarcely more — the demands upon-us would be in proportion to our strength.
Than is it not wrong that a mere technicality should impose onerous and unnecessary burdens upon men who always have done and are ever willing to do their duty — their whole duty — and who have already exhibited their earnestness of soul by writing their names in characters of blood upon the page of their country's history ? --who came to fight, and not to drag out two thirds of their time in digging trenches, repairing roads, cutting wood, guarding wagons, or watching the sacred precincts of some General officer
Our ranks at each day's dress parade scarcely presents a front of one hundred men. The rest, excepting the sick, are handling the pick, the spade, or the axe, or walking the monotonous beat of the sentinel.
Since the day on which we left Richmond
the 1st Regiment has been constantly, in the advance.
It has done as much, perhaps more service their any other regiment in the State
, or, I may say. in the Confederate army.
It has, through the untiring exertions of its officers, acquired a proficiency in drill not equalled by any other volunteer infantry corps in the service, and the materials of which it is composed are such as never brought the blush of shame to the cheek of a gallant leader.
There is plenty more of the same materials at home.
Then why do not our numbers increase, rather than diminish ? Is there any prospect of filling our ranks ? I answer, none, as things now exist.
And yet it would be an easy thing to swell our numbers to 1,000 men within one month.
‘"The 1st"’ has an enviable reputation, so far as I can learn, at home and abroad.
Scores of young men are willing, and even anxious, to join the army, for a variety of reasons, and would prefer entering this regiment to any other.
they have no idea of bidding good bye to their homes and friends, with no hope of returning until the expiration of their term of service.
They have no thought of voluntarily becoming prisoners of war, such as they know us (of the ranks) to be.--Never was a greater mistake made by our Generals
, than the determination to grant no more furloughs.
This has gone forth to the country, and the back ward ness of volunteers, as well as two, thirds of the discharges and resignations, is entirely owing to it.
It is hard to forget home, even when surrounded by scenes which enliven the soul and give ease and pleasure to the body.
There are few men whose hearts do not turn to it with an almost irresistible longing when their bodies and minds are worn and vexed with the sights and sounds, the turmoil and discomforts of the camp and field, and it is an inexpressible relief to be permitted to return home, though it be for only a few days, Finding this impossible, and that the day of their deliverance is many weary months ahead, those who can do so, resign, while others, who are refused a short leave of absence, obtain discharges upon various pretexts.
Others less fortunate, who can neither resign nor obtain discharges, become enervated in mind and body, and sink under the weight of their dejection.
Many are rendered unfit for duty by no other disease than the ‘"home fever,"’ and others who are slightly unwell from other causes become seriously ill as their minds revert to the tender nursing which, in former times, they received at home from willing hands, but which is now denied them by the inexorable decree ‘"no more furloughs."’
Again, when the subject of maintaining or increasing the strength of the army is considered, it should be borne in mind, that the hour of enthusiasm is past.
Men do not spring into the ranks now as at the first call of their country.
The idea of war has become a familiar thing, and while all good citizens are none the less determined to resist tyranny, and to defend all that makes life worth having , yet, those who did not yield to the first impulse to rush to arms, those who were not swept away in the first wave of popular excitement, are disposed to view the subject with a calculating eye. With each day's reflection danger seems more remote; patriotism is placed in the balance against their habit of personal freedom; their love of the comforts of home against the privations and perils of the camp and field, and when patriotism does not actually kick the beam, the scales are nearly balanced.
It cannot be denied that this is true of those who are not and have not been in the army; and such being the case, every abridgment of individual privileges, not absolutely necessary to the maintenance of military discipline, is an injury to the army, to the recruiting service, and, thereby, to the cause in which we are engaged.
Now, while it is true that men who ought to be in the army pause thus to consider the subject, it does not follow that they are less patriotic than others.
Men who hesitate in the present instance to place themselves under military rule, or, in other words, to volunteer, do so for weighty reasons outside of mere personal considerations.
A cherished principle is not more dear than a cherished wife; a country has not more claims upon the strong arm of manhood than an aged mother and unprotected sisters.
In most instances, when a man gives himself to his country he not only withdraws the cheering influence of his presence from those who have a natural claim upon him, but he also abandons the means by which they have obtained shelter and support.
Can any man do this without a painful struggle ? Are these not sacrifices worthy
of hesitation ? The man is not worth having whose affections are not twined round and round his homestead and its occupants.
He can be true to nothing who is not true to the mother who watched his infancy, the wife of his altar-spoken vows, or the sister who shared his childhood's sunny sports, A man who has these to bind him to home may well hesitate to enter the army with the edict ‘"no more furloughs"’ staring him in the face.
The all-important question new with us is, whether or not we are to pass the winter here.
It is a matter of no little concern, as you may readily imagine, and the question is one which I am constrained in my own mind to answer in the affirmative.
So far as I can learn, the friends of the 1st Va. Regiment need not hope that they will return to Richmond
this winter, if, indeed, we go into winter quarters at all. They are the ‘"one year"’ soldiers, and the policy of the War Department is to get all the service out of them that can be had within that time.
If we remain in the field, we must all suffer greatly, and I sincerely believe many will die from the effects of cold and exposure; but human life.
shattered constitution, broken hearts and beggared hearthstones are familiar fruits in the harvest of civil war. The weather up to this date has of course, been comparatively mild to what we may expect in mid winter, and yet we have suffered not a little.
Friday night, the 2d November, a tremendous Northeaster set in, with as heavy a rain as I ever saw. All the tents of Company H, with many others, were blown down and torn into rags.
Imagine our condition if you can. No shelter of any kind, no fire, no food, wet to the skin, in a drenching rain, and chilled to the marrow by the keenest sort of a wind Saturday some of our men walked miles to procure food and shelter.
Others huddled together over a few smoking sticks, some cursing their luck, and I am sorry to say, so far forgetting patriotism as to d — n the Southern Confederacy; others laughed at the misery of their comrades, yet all deriving some consolation from the hope and belief that the storm would send the Federal fleet to h — Ii. It is an ill wind that blows nobody good, however, for in a few days we had a complete set of new tents.
and also had the gratification of knowing that our very pious wish had not altogether failed of consummation.
We received, some time since, the new clothing voted us by the Common Council.
It did not come any too soon, as our old suits were quite worn out — certainly not fit to visit our sweethearts in There is a circumstance connected with this appropriation which I do not at all understand.
It is that though the money for the clothing was given to the regiment.
company G was entirely excluded from all participation in the benefits there of. If it was the design of the Council to exclude this fine company on the mere ground of their home locality, I can inform them that there is no foundation for their action in fact, a large proportion of the members of company G being residents of the city, and many of them tax payers to no small amount.
Company E not one of whose members belong to Richmond
, received their share of the clothing, and very justly, too, while company G, from our very midst, are entirely ignored, and in order to present the same appearance as the rest of the regiment, have to pay for clothing out of their own private means.
This is altogether wrong, and, if it is an unintentional error, should be at once corrected, as we are all fighting the same fight; our glory or shame must be equally divided, and our good fortune should be shared alone.