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Chapter 2:

After the battle of Seven Pines, General R. E. Lee was assigned to the command of the Army of Northern Virginia. He immediately commenced to form plans by which to free the Confederate Capital from the proximity of the enemy. His first move was to send General Whiting's Division to Staunton, as a ruse, to join General Jackson; to order the latter then to march toward Richmond, or down the north side of the Chickahominy, upon the right flank of McClellan; and, when Jackson was sufficiently near the enemy, to throw across this stream the main body of the Confederate Army at, and in the vicinity of Meadow bridge, and, finally, with his united forces to make a general assault upon the Federals. I happened to have been made cognizant of the foregoing plan through General Whiting, just prior to or during the march to Staunton. I mention the source from which I obtained this information, as it might seem strange that a Brigadier General should have knowledge of the secret purposes of such a movement, in operations of so great importance.

My brigade having been reinforced by Hampton's Legion, under the command of Colonel Geary, moved by railway about the middle of June, via Lynchburg, to Charlottesville, and thence marched to Staunton. Upon our arrival at this place, [25] we received orders to retrace our steps, return to Charlottesville, and there take the train to Hanover Junction. On the 25th I conducted my command, which now formed a part of Jackson's Army, to Ashland. At this point rations and ammunition were issued to the troops, and, the morning of the 26th, I marched with my brigade in a southeasterly direction towards Cold Harbor, as the advanced guard of Jackson's forces. We soon came in contact with the Federal outposts, whom we drove rapidly to and across Tottapotamoi creek, a sluggish stream, with banks steep and densely wooded on either side. Here I discovered the bridge on fire, and the enemy busily engaged felling trees to check our advance beyond; thereupon, Reiley's battery was placed in position, and opened fire, whilst we continued to push forward our skirmish line. The Federals finally retreated in such haste that they left their axes in the trees. The bridge was promptly repaired, and we continued skirmishing with their rear guard till we reached Handley's Corner, where we halted, and bivouacked for the night.

We had heard during the day, in the direction of Mechanicsville, the guns of Longstreet and A. P. Hill, which indicated that the issue of the great battle, then in progress, would soon be decided. At early dawn of the 27th the march was resumed; Ewell's Division bore off in the direction of our left during the day, and Whiting's to the right. The latter received instructions, in the afternoon, to repair to the support of Longstreet, then assaulting the Federal left at Cold Harbor. I moved on with all possible speed, through field and forest, in the direction of the firing, and arrived, about 4.30 p. m., at a point, on the telegraph road, I should think not far distant from the centre of our attacking force. Here I found General Lee, seated upon his horse. He rode forward to meet me, and, extending his usual greeting, announced to me that our troops had been fighting gallantly, but had not succeeded in dislodging the enemy; he added, “This must be done. Can you break his line?” I replied that I would try. I immediately [26] formed my brigade in line of battle with Hampton's Legion on the left. In front was a dense woods and ugly marsh, which totally concealed the enemy from us; but the terrible roar of artillery and musketry plainly revealed, however, that thousands and thousands of living souls were struggling in most deadly conflict for the mastery of that field, and I might say, almost under the shadow of the Capitol of the infant Confederacy. My line was established, and moved forward, regiment by regiment, when I discovered, as the disposition of the Eighteenth Georgia was completed, an open field a little to its right. Holding in reserve the Fourth Texas, I ordered the advance, and galloped into the open field or pasture, from which point I could see, at a distance of about eight hundred yards, the position of the Federals. They were heavily entrenched upon the side of an elevated ridge running a little west and south, and extending to the vicinity of the Chickahominy. At the foot of the slope ran Powhite creek, which stream, together with the abatis in front of their works, constituted a formidable obstruction to our approach, whilst batteries, supported by masses of infantry, crowned the crest of the hill in rear, and long range guns were posted upon the south side of the Chickahominy, in readiness to enfilade our advancing columns. The ground from which I made these observations was, however, open the entire distance to their entrenchments. In a moment I determined to advance from that point, to make a strenuous effort to pierce the enemy's fortifications, and, if possible, put him to flight. I therefore marched the Fourth Texas by the right flank into this open field, halted and dressed the line whilst under fire of the longrange guns, and gave positive instructions that no man should fire until I gave the order; for I knew full well that if the men were allowed to fire, they would halt to load, break the allignment, and, very likely, never reach the breastworks. I moreover ordered them not only to keep together, but also in line, and announced to them that I would lead them in the charge. Forward march was sounded, and we moved at a rapid, [27] but not at a double-quick pace. Meantime, my regiments on the left had advanced some distance to the front through the wood and swamp.

Onward we marched under a constantly increasing shower of shot and shell, whilst to our right could be seen some of our troops making their way to the rear, and others lying down beneath a galling fire. Our ranks were thinned at almost every step forward, and proportionately to the growing fury of the storm of projectiles. Soon we attained the crest of the bald ridge within about one hundred and fifty yards of the breastworks. Here was concentrated upon us, from batteries in front and flank, a fire of shell and canister, which ploughed through our ranks with deadly effect. Already the gallant Colonel Marshall, together with many other brave men, had fallen victims in this bloody onset. At a quickened pace we continued to advance, without firing a shot, down the slope, over a body of our soldiers lying on the ground, to and across Powhite creek, when, amid the fearful roar of musketry and artillery, I gave the order to fix bayonets and charge. With a ringing shout we dashed up the steep hill, through the abatis, and over the breastworks, upon the very heads of the enemy. The Federals, panic-stricken, rushed precipitately to the rear upon the infantry in support of the artillery; suddenly the whole joined in the flight toward the valley beyond. At this juncture some twenty guns, stationed in rear of the Federal line on a hill to my left, opened fire upon the Fourth Texas, which changed front, and charged in their direction. I halted in an orchard beyond the works, and despatched every officer of my staff to the main portion of the brigade in the wood on the left, instructing them to bear the glad tidings that the Fourth Texas had pierced the enemy's line, and were moving in his rear, and to deliver orders to push forward with utmost haste. At the same moment I discovered a Federal brigade marching up the slope from the valley beyond, evidently with the purpose to re-establish the line. I ran back to the entrenchments, appealed to some of our troops, who, by [28] this time, had advanced to the breastworks, to come forward and drive off this small body of Federals. They remained, however, motionless. Jenkins's command, if I mistake not, which was further to our right, boldly advanced and put this brigade to rout. Meantime, the long line of blue and steel to the right and left wavered, and, finally, gave way, as the Eighteenth Georgia, the First and Fifth Texas, and Hampton's Legion gallantly moved forward from right to left, thus completing a grand left wheel of the brigade into the very heart of the enemy. Simultaneously with this movement burst forth a tumultuous shout of victory, which was taken up along the whole Confederate line.

I mounted my horse, rode forward, and found the Fourth Texas and Eighteenth Georgia had captured fourteen pieces of artillery, whilst the Fifth Texas had charge of a Federal regiment which had surrendered to it. Many were the deeds of valor upon that memorable field.

General Jackson, in reference to this onset, says in his official report:

In this charge in which upwards of a thousand men fell, killed and wounded, before the fire of the enemy, and in which fourteen pieces of artillery and nearly a regiment were captured, the Fourth Texas, under the lead of General Hood, was the first to pierce these strongholds and seize the guns. Although swept from their defences by this rapid and almost matchless display of daring and desperate valor, the well disciplined Federals continued in retreat to fight with stubborn resistance.

On the following day, as he surveyed the ground over which my brave men charged, he rendered them a just tribute when he exclaimed: “The men who carried this position were soldiers indeed!”

Major Warwick, of the Fourth Texas, a brave and efficient officer, fell mortally wounded near the works, whilst urging his men forward to the charge; over one-half of this regiment lay dead or wounded along a distance of one mile. Major Haskell, son-in-law of General Hampton, won my admiration by his indomitable courage: just after my troops had broken [29] the adversary's line, and I was sorely in need of staff officers, he reported to me for duty, sword in hand, notwithstanding one of his arms had by a shot been completely severed from his body. I naturally instructed him to go in search of a surgeon.

After the capture of the artillery posted on the hill in rear of the Federal line, a strange and interesting incident occurred. The Second Cavalry, my regiment in the United States service prior to the war, gallantly charged the Fourth Texas, the regiment I had organized and commanded in the Confederate Army. Major Whiting, who was captain of my company on the frontier of Texas, commanded the former in this bold attack to recapture these guns; his horse was killed under him, and he fell stunned, though unharmed, at the feet of my men, and was taken prisoner.

When the battle had ceased, I gave my attention at once and during the night — to the care of the wounded, as doctors, litter-bearers and ambulance drivers were without much experience at that early period of hostilities. As I rode over the field, about 2 o'clock in the morning, amid the wounded whose touching appeals for water resounded on every side, a voice in the distance arose, calling me by my surname in tones of deep distress. Shortly after one of my soldiers came and reported to me that Captain Chambliss, an old friend, and a member of the Second Cavalry, United States Army, was lying upon the hill, desperately wounded. I ordered him to return immediately, to render every assistance in his power, and to assure Chambliss that I would soon be with him, as I was then completing the necessary arrangements for the care of the wounded. About daybreak I reached the spot where my friend lay, and we met with the same warmth of feeling which had characterized our intercourse previous to the war. I issued instructions to have him transported to the hospital, and accorded the same attention given to my own wounded officers. Although I feared at the time his wounds would prove mortal, he, I am glad to state, finally recovered. [30]

Subsequent to the battles around Richmond, I, in company with Colonel Fitzhugh Lee, also formerly of the Second Cavalry, United States Army, visited the Capital, and, at the Libby prison, called upon Whiting and Chambliss, with whom we renewed the cordial relations we had enjoyed upon the frontier.

The dead were buried on the field of Cold Harbor or Gaines's Mills on the 28th, and, the afternoon of the 29th, my brigade began the pursuit of the enemy along with Jackson's forces. We crossed the Chickahominy at Grapevine bridge, near the railroad; arrived at Savage's Station the morning of the 30th, and pushed on to White Oak Swamp, where we found the enemy in position on the opposite side of the stream, in our immediate front, behind the bridge, which they had destroyed on the retreat. General Jackson ordered forward a few batteries, opened fire, and, at the same time, sent detachments to the right and left to effect a crossing and assail our adversary upon both flanks. Whilst this artillery duel in our front was progressing, Longstreet and A. P. Hill were heavily engaged lower down at Frayser's Farm. At a very early hour on the morning of July 1st we forced the passage of White Oak Swamp, moved rapidly forward, and, before long, reached the field which Hill and Longstreet had compelled the enemy to abandon. From this point Jackson's Corps led the advance of Lee's Army upon the Willis Church road; my brigade, under an annoying fire from the Federal rear guard, soon arrived in an open field in front of and commanded by Malvern Hill. The latter was not only a position of immense natural strength, but was, moreover, crowned with artillery which was supported by McClellan's entire Army.

General Whiting's Division, in this meadow, constituted the left of the Confederate line; and, although the position occupied by the enemy in our immediate front was seemingly impregnable, the country on their right appeared to be open, and to afford an easy approach. I therefore dispatched some of my Texas scouts to reconnoitre in that direction. The [31] report, shortly received, was of a favorable character, and General Hampton and I requested of General Whiting permission to turn and assail this exposed flank. Our application was not granted, however, and we remained during the day under a murderous fire of artillery, whilst our forces on the right were driven back in every attempt made to gain possession of Malvern Hill. The ensuing night the Federals retreated to Harrison's Landing, on the James river, and thus put an end to this bloody and fruitless contest.

General Jackson marched, after this engagement, in the direction of Culpepper Court House, leaving my brigade with Longstreet. The battle at Cedar Run soon followed, and resulted in a brilliant victory for Jackson over Pope, whilst Longstreet remained with his corps in observation of McClellan's shattered forces at Harrison's Landing. A fleet of vessels, however, appeared on the James river to transport the Federals to another field of operations, and orders were issued to march to the Rapidan in the vicinity of Gordonsville, which point we reached about the 15th of August.

My command had been increased by the addition of two or more batteries and a splendid brigade, under Colonel E. M. Law, an able and efficient officer. General Evans was shortly afterwards given, besides his own troops, command of the two brigades under my direction.

On the 20th of August my division, acting as an advanced guard of Longstreet's Corps, moved against General Pope's Army, then lying a short distance south of the Rappahannock, crossed the Rapidan at Raccoon Ford, and marched in the wake of Jackson's Corps, which was pushing forward rapidly with the design to secure a position on the flank or in rear of the Federals. This manoeuvre resulted in one of those bold and dazzling achievements which not only won my unbounded admiration, but deservedly earned for Jackson the highest appreciation and encomiums of the civilized world. Whilst he was hastening forward with a determination to allow no obstacle to hinder the accomplishment of his object, his train [32] was attacked by the enemy near Welford's Ford, on Hazel river; nevertheless, true to the inspiration of his genius, he pushed onward, leaving Trimble's brigade to protect his baggage against this assault. General Trimble gallantly repulsed the Federals, as my division moved forward to his support.

Longstreet's Corps continued to threaten the enemy, while Jackson turned his right flank and cut his communications with Washington. He finally stood at bay near Manassas, whilst Longstreet, by a forced march from the Rappahannock, pushed forward, and reached about mid-day, on the 28th, Thoroughfare Gap, which was guarded by a strong force of the enemy.

My command had marched nearly the whole previous night About 2 a. m., after passing through a valley amid darkness which was greatly increased by a dense wood, the troops were allowed to file off, stack arms, and bivouac on a slope, and around a knoll upon which some of our cavalrymen had been stationed on picket duty. The fatigue of the men was so excessive that they dropped down in line, and fell asleep almost the instant they touched the ground. Amid the stillness and darkness which reigned in the encampment, some of the officers, who had dismounted upon the summit of the hillock, kicked over an empty barrel which had been used by the cavalrymen as a receptacle for forage, and it came rolling and bounding down the slope over the bushes, toward the Texans who were then in a sound sleep. Just at this moment a favorite animal of one of the regiments, “the old grey mare,” loaded with kettles, tin cups and frying pans, dashed up the hill from the forest below with a rattling noise. Some one gave the alarm, crying with a loud voice, “Look out!” and the brave men who had fought so nobly at Cold Harbor sprang to their feet, deserted their colors and guns, and ran down the slope over a well-constructed fence, which was soon levelled to the ground, and had continued their flight several hundred yards before they awoke sufficiently to recover their wits, and boldly march back, convulsed with laughter. This incident is [33] the origin of the brigade song, the burden of which ran, “The old Grey Mare came tearing out oa the Wilderness.” The truth is, in time of war, a cap explodes much louder at night than in the day.

Late in the afternoon of the 28th my division was instructed to unite with General D. R. Jones's Division and gain possession of Thoroughfare Gap, a narrow mountain defile, protected, as it were, by a wall of stone on either side. At the same time General Lee sent a force to the left to threaten the Federals in rear, whilst a portion of my command passed through the Gap under a heavy fire of artillery, and my main force crossed over the ridge upon the immediate left of the Gap. The enemy was thus forced to retire, and my division bivouacked for the night beyond this stronghold. At early dawn on the morning of the 29th I put my troops in motion, and, in accordance with instructions from General Longstreet, formed his advanced guard in the direction of Manassas. I placed Lieutenant Colonel Upton, of the Fifth Texas, in command of about one hundred and fifty picked men, from the Texas brigade, to act as skirmishers, and instructed him to rapidly push the Federals in his front. I impressed upon him the importance of hastening to the support of General Jackson, and assured him I would keep the division in readiness to render him prompt assistance, if requisite. Here was achieved by this advanced guard of the advanced guard one of those military feats which is entitled to the admiration of every soldier. Although the Federals opposed us with the different arms of the service, Colonel Upton drove them before him with such rapidity that General Longstreet sent me orders, two or three times, to halt, since the Army was unable to keep within supporting distance of my forces. The gallant Upton was, indeed, pre-eminent in his sphere as an outpost officer.

I joined General Jackson on the Groveton pike, upon the field of Manassas, about 10.30 a. m., when he rode forward and extended me a hearty welcome. He was then keeping at bay the entire Federal Army, commanded by Major General [34] Pope. My division was formed without delay across the pike; the Texas brigade was posted on the right, and that of Law on the left. Between my left and Jackson's right, which rested about one mile south of Groveton, a gap of a few hundred yards existed; it was afterwards filled by artillery, under the direction of Colonel Walton. Longstreet's Corps, as it arrived upon the field, formed on my right, thus constituting my division the centre of the Confederate Army. I was instructed to obey the orders of either Lee, Jackson, or Longstreet. We remained, till a late hour in the afternoon, spectators of the heavy engagement of Jackson's troops with the enemy, who was thwarted in his attempt to turn our left flank. Major B. W. Frobel, whom I had previously assigned to the command of my artillery, was sent to our right with his battalion to oppose a column of the enemy, advancing to attack Longstreet whilst he was establishing his line. He speedily repulsed the Federals, and returned to his former position.1

In the meantime our opponents had been massing their forces in our front. Just before sunset I received orders from General Longstreet to advance, and scarcely had I given the word of command, when the enemy moved forward and began a general attack along my line. Law's brigade of Alabamians, Mississippians and Carolinians dashed forward with the Texans, Georgians and Geary's Legion, upon their immediate right; each seemed to vie with the other in efforts to plunge the deeper into the ranks of the enemy. Onward they charged, driving the foe through field and forest, from position after position, till long after darkness had closed in upon the scene of conflict. Law had captured one piece of artillery,2 and I beheld with pride the work done by my men, who had forced back the Federals a distance of over one mile.

I now discovered that my line was in the midst of the enemy; the obscurity of the night, which was deepened by a thick wood, made it almost impossible to distinguish friend from foe, [35] and for the same reason I was unable to select a position and form upon it for action next morning. The Confederates and Federals were so intermingled that commanders of both armies gave orders for allignment, in some instances, to the troops of their opponents. Colonel Work, of the First Texas, was struck in the head with an inverted musket in the hands of a Federal, and several stands of colors were snatched from their bearers by my troops, and borne off as mementos of this night encounter of clubs and fists.

In view of this condition of affairs I determined to ride to the rear, inform Generals Lee and Longstreet of the facts, and to recommend that I retire and resume the line from which I had advanced just before sunset. I found them about two miles off, in an open field, and, after a brief interview, we received orders to act in accordance with my suggestion. The troops were therefore withdrawn from the immediate presence of the enemy, back to their original position across the Groveton pike, about 2 a. m. on the 30th of August. As I was prepared to lie down and rest for the few remaining hours before dawn, one of my officers informed me that General Richard Anderson's Division was bivouacked in mass just in my front. Knowing that some thirty or forty pieces of artillery bore directly upon his troops, I mounted my horse, rode off in search of his quarters, and urged him to hasten his with-drawal, as the Federal artillery would assuredly, at daylight, open upon his men thus massed, and greatly cripple his division. Anderson had been marching all day, in order to join General Lee, and did not halt until he found himself in the midst of Federal and Confederate wounded. Upon my warning, he promptly aroused his men and, just after daybreak, marched to the rear of my line of battle. The pike was dry, and his division, as it moved back, left a cloud of dust in its wake, which circumstance, I have always thought, induced General Pope to send his celebrated despatch to Washington to the effect that General Lee was in full retreat [36]

My troops remained stationary a greater part of the 3oth, quietly awaiting orders to again advance. About 3.30 p. m. a furious assault was made upon Jackson, within full view of my position. Line after line was hurled against his brave men, posted in a railroad cut, from which they stubbornly resisted every attack. I sent for a battery (Reiley's, if I mistake not), and ordered it to open upon the flank of the enemy's attacking column, whilst Colonel S. D. Lee's artillery, together with the remainder of Major Frobel's batteries, ploughed deep furrows through the Federal masses, as they advanced to and recoiled before the “Stonewall” upon my left. So desperate was the assault of Pope, and so fixed the determination of this commander, or some of his officers, to force the troops to fight that a line was, apparently, stationed in rear to fire upon those who, impelled by fear or despair, sought refuge from the battle-field.

Thus raged this fierce contest, when about 4 p. m. I received an order, through one of Longstreet's staff officers, to advance. A few minutes after my division moved forward, a messenger from Longstreet summoned me, and, at the full speed of my horse, I joined him from a quarter to a half of a mile in rear. He instructed me not to allow my division to move so far forward as to throw itself beyond the prompt support of the troops he had ordered to the front. Notwithstanding I rode at as rapid a course as my favorite horse could bear me to rejoin my two brigades, I did not overtake them till I had crossed the creek, about four hundred yards south of the Chinn House, and the Texas brigade had captured a battery, routed the Federal Zouaves — literally strewing the ground with their dead and wounded — and Law, upon the left, had accomplished equally important results in his front. The field, where lay the dead and dying zouaves in their gay uniforms, amid the tall green grass, presented indeed a singular appearance, as I passed down the slope and across the creek. I here sent orders to my troops to halt and adjust their allignment, and discovered, at the same time, upon a ridge a short distance [37] beyond, another battery together with large masses of Federal infantry in the vicinity of the Chinn House. Soon, Colonel Means, mounted and in command of General Evans's brigade, reported to me for directions. I instructed him to take the battery which was then within sixty yards of us. His men boldly dashed forward, and he, a few moments later, fell dead to the ground pierced by a ball.

I moved a little to the right, and about this juncture D. R. Jones's Division arrived upon the scene of action; it was soon followed by the remainder of Longstreet's Corps. General Jones rode up to me, and desired to know at which point he could most effectually strike the enemy. I recommended that he at once assail the heavy lines in rear of the Chinn House. He promptly accepted the suggestion, in concert with several other commanders, and they moved to the attack, as did the whole line from right to left. Thus the splendid corps of Longstreet moved forward in a grand charge out upon the high and open ground in that vicinity. Onward it swept toward Bull Run, driving the enemy at a rapid pace before it, and presenting to the view the most beautiful battle scene I have ever beheld. I was in conference, near the Chinn House, with General Jones and other commanders, as they arrived upon the field, when the Fifth Texas--after Colonel Robertson had been wounded in the faithful discharge of his duty, and the gallant, noble Upton had been killed--slipped the bridle and rushed forward, breaking loose from its brigade. When night approached, and the battle was over, I found it far to the front, in the vicinity of the Sudley Ford road.

Whilst I lost many valuable officers and men, as shown by the official reports, my two brigades, true to their teaching, captured five guns in addition to fourteen stands of colors, which they bore off as trophies of war and proof of the noble work they had accomplished. During this engagement Major W. H. Sellers, my Adjutant General, led the Texas brigade. I had ordered him to assume direction when General Longstreet sent for me at the beginning of the movement forward, [38] This distinguished soldier not only deserves great credit for his conduct in this battle, but proved himself, as I expressed my conviction in my official report, competent to command a brigade at that early period of the war. Toward the close of the battle I pushed forward some of my reliable Texas scouts, and captured a number of new Federal ambulances, with a view to better the outfit of my troops. After nightfall I reassembled my division, and rode back to the headquarters of General Lee.

I found him in an open field, near a camp-fire of boards kindled for the purpose of reading despatches; he was in high spirits, doubtless on account of the brilliant and complete victory just achieved by his Army. He met me in his usual manner, and asked what had become of the enemy. I replied that our forces had driven him almost at a double-quick, to and across Bull Run, and that it was a beautiful sight to see our little battle-flags dancing after the Federals, as they ran in full retreat. He instantly exclaimed, “God forbid I should ever live to see our colors moving in the opposite direction!”

The ambulances I had captured were destined to cause me somewhat of annoyance, which I had nowise anticipated at the time I assigned them to my troops for the use of their sick and wounded. After the burial of the dead on the following day, and the march had been resumed, with orders to follow Jackson's Corps in the direction of Maryland, I was instructed by Major General Evans to turn over these ambulances to his Carolina troops. Whereas I would cheerfully have obeyed directions to deliver them to General Lee's Quarter Master for the use of the Army, I did not consider it just that I should be required to yield them to another brigade of the division, which was in no manner entitled to them. I regarded the command, which had captured them, as the rightful owners in this instance, and therefore refused to obey the order. I was, in consequence, placed in arrest, and, on the march to Frederick, Maryland, was ordered by General Longstreet to proceed to the rear to Culpepper Court House, if I [39] remember correctly, and there await the assembly of a Court Martial for my trial. General Lee, however, became apprised of the matter, and at once sent instructions that I should remain with my command, though he did not release me from arrest. Longstreet's Corps was finally massed near Hagerstown, and by this time my division had become restive and somewhat inclined to insubordination on account of my suspension. I repressed all demonstrations of feeling by assurances to the officers that the affair would soon be settled, and I shortly restored to command.

On the 13th of September intelligence was received of McClellan's advance from the direction of Federal City toward South Mountain, and on the morning of the 14th I marched with Longstreet's Corps to Boonsboroa Gap, a narrow and winding pass, through which runs the turnpike from Hagerstown to Federal City. I was still under arrest, with orders to move in rear of my two brigades. The division reached the foot of South Mountain about 3.30 p. m., from which point could be seen the shells of the enemy, as they passed over the rugged peaks in front, and burst upon the slope in our proximity. I could hear the men, as they filed up the ascent, cry out along the line, “Give us Hood!” but did not compre-hend the meaning of this appeal till I arrived with the rear of the column at the base of the ridge, where I found General Lee standing by the fence, very near the pike, in company with his chief of staff, Colonel Chilton. The latter accosted me, bearing a message from the General, that he desired to speak to me. I dismounted, and soon stood in his presence, when he said: “General, here I am just upon the eve of entering into battle, and with one of my best officers under arrest. If you will merely say that you regret this occurrence, I will release you and restore you to the command of your division.” I replied, “I am unable to do so, since I cannot admit or see the justness of General Evans's demand for the ambulances my men have captured. Had I been ordered to turn them over for the general use of the Army, I would cheerfully have acquiesced.” [40] He again urged me to make some declaration expressive of regret. I answered that I could not consistently do so. Then, in a voice betraying the feeling which warmed the heart of this noble and great warrior, he said, “Well, I will suspend your arrest till the impending battle is decided.”

I quickly remounted, galloped to the front of my column, and, with a kind welcome from my troops, reported for duty to General Longstreet, who by this time had reached the summit of the mountain. He immediately instructed me to file to the left, in the wake of Evans's brigade, and to take position with my right near the pike. The advance of McClellan's long lines could be seen moving up the slope in our front, evidently with the purpose to dislodge our forces posted upon the sharp ridge overlooking the valley below. Before long Major Fairfax, of Longstreet's staff, came to me in haste with orders to move to the right of the pike, as our troops on that part of the field had been driven back. He accompanied me to the pike, and here turned his horse to leave, when I naturally asked if he would not guide me. He replied, “No, I can only say, go to the right.” Meantime Major Frobel's batteries had come forward into position on top of the ridge; they opened fire, and performed excellent service in checking the enemy. The wood and undergrowth were dense, and nothing but a pig path seemed to lead in the direction in which I was ordered. Nevertheless, I conducted my troops obliquely by the right flank, and while I advanced I could hear the shouts of the Federals, as they swept down the mountain upon our side. I then bore still more obliquely to the right, with a view to get as far as possible towards the left flank of the enemy before we came in contact. We marched on through the wood as rapidly as the obstacles in our passage would admit. Each step forward brought nearer and nearer to us the heavy Federal lines, as they advanced, cheering over their success and the possession of our dead and wounded. Finally, I gave instructions to General Law and Colonel Wofford, directing the two brigades, to order their men to fix bayonets; and, when the [41] enemy came within seventy-five or a hundred yards, I ordered the men to front and charge. They obeyed promptly, with a genuine Confederate yell, and the Federals were driven back pell mell, over and beyond the mountain, at a much quicker pace than they had descended. Night closed in with not only our dead and wounded, together with those of our adversary in our possession, but with the mountain, on the right, within our lines.

After the correction of my allignment I rode, at about 10 p. m., back to the Gap, where I found General D. H. Hill and other officers on the gallery of a tavern, near the pike, evidently discussing the outlook. As I approached, I inquired, in an ordinary tone of voice, as to the condition of affairs on our left, and to my surprise was met with a mysterious “Pshe — Pshe” --; a voice added in an audible whisper, “The enemy is just there in the corn field; he has forced us back.” I thereupon suggested that we repair without delay to General Lee's headquarters, and report the situation. Accordingly, we rode down to the foot of the mountain, where we found General Lee in council with General Longstreet. After a long debate, it was decided to retire and fall back towards Sharps-burg.

The morning of the 15th our forces were again in motion in the direction of the Antietam; the cavalry and my two brigades, in addition to Major Frobel's artillery, formed the rear guard to hold our opponents in check, whilst the Army marched quietly to its destination. My troops, at this period, were sorely in need of shoes, clothing and food. We had had issued to us no meat for several days, and little or no bread; the men had been forced to subsist principally on green corn and green apples. Nevertheless, they were in high spirits and defiant, as we contended with the advanced guard of McClellan the I5th and forenoon of the 16th. During the afternoon of this day I was ordered, after great fatigue and hunger endured by my soldiers, to take position near the [42] Hagerstown pike, in an open field in front of3 Dunkard Church. General Hooker's Corps crossed the Antietam, swung round with its right on the pike, and, about an hour before sunset, encountered my division. I had stationed one or two batteries upon a hillock, in a meadow, near the edge of a corn field and just by the pike. The Texas brigade had been disposed on the left, and that of Law on the right. We opened fire, and a spirited action ensued, which lasted till a late hour in the night. When the firing had in a great measure ceased, we were so close to the enemy that we could distinctly hear him massing his heavy bodies in our immediate front.

The extreme suffering of my troops for want of food induced me to ride back to General Lee, and request him to send two or more brigades to our relief, at least for the night, in order that the soldiers might have a chance to cook their meagre rations. He said that he would cheerfully do so, but he knew of no command which could be spared for the purpose; he, however, suggested I should see General Jackson and endeavor to obtain assistance from him. After riding a long time in search of the latter, I finally discovered him alone, lying upon the ground, asleep by the root of a tree. I aroused him and made known the half-starved condition of my troops; he immediately ordered Lawton's, Trimble's and Hays's brigades to our relief. He exacted of me, however, a promise that I would come to the support of these forces the moment I was called upon. I quickly rode off in search of my wagons, that the men might prepare and cook their flour, as we were still without meat; unfortunately the night was then far advanced, and, although every effort was made amid the darkness to get the wagons forward, dawn of the morning of the 17th broke upon us before many of the men had had time to do more than prepare the dough. Soon thereafter an officer of Lawton's staff dashed up to me, saying, “General Lawton sends his compliments with the request that you come [43] at once to his support.” “To arms” was instantly sounded and quite a large number of my brave soldiers were again obliged to march to the front, leaving their uncooked rations in camp.

Still, indomitable amid every trial, they moved off by the right flank to occupy the same position we had left the night previous. As we passed, about sunrise, across the pike and through the gap in the fence just in front of Dunkard Church, General Lawton, who had been wounded, was borne to the rear upon a litter, and the only Confederate troops, left on that part of the field, were some forty men who had rallied round the gallant Harry Hays. I rode up to the latter, and, finding that his soldiers had expended all their ammunition, I suggested to him to retire, to replenish his cartridge boxes, and reassemble his command.

The following extract from the official report of General Jackson will convey an idea of the bloody conflict in which my two little brigades were about to engage:

General Lawton, commanding division, and Colonel Walker, commanding brigade, were severely wounded. More than half of the brigades of Lawton and Hays were either killed or wounded, and more than a third of Trimble's, and all the regimental commanders in those brigades, except two, were killed or wounded. Thinned in their ranks, and exhausted of their ammunition, Jackson's Division and the brigades of Lawton, Trimble and Hays retired to the rear, and Hood, of Longstreet's command, again took the position from which he had been before relieved.

Not far distant in our front were drawn up, in close array, heavy columns of Federal infantry; not less than two corps were in sight to oppose my small command, numbering, approximately, two thousand effectives. However, with the trusty Law on my right, in the edge of the wood, and the gallant Colonel Wofford in command of the Texas brigade on the left, near the pike, we moved forward to the assault. Notwithstanding the overwhelming odds of over ten to one against us, we drove the enemy from the wood and corn field [44] back upon his reserves, and forced him to abandon his guns on our left. This most deadly combat raged till our last round of ammunition was expended. The First Texas Regiment had lost, in the corn field, fully two-thirds of its number; and whole ranks of brave men, whose deeds were unrecorded save in the hearts of loved ones at home, were mowed down in heaps to the right and left. Never before was I so continuously troubled with fear that my horse would further injure some wounded fellow soldier, lying helpless upon the ground. Our right flank, during this short, but seemingly long, space of time, was toward the main line of the Federals, and, after several ineffectual efforts to procure reinforcements and our last shot had been fired, I ordered my troops back to Dunkard Church, for the same reason which had previously compelled Lawton, Hays and Trimble to retire.

My command remained near the church, with empty cartridge boxes, holding aloft their colors whilst Frobel's batteries rendered most effective service in position further to the right, where nearly all the guns of the battalion were disabled. Upon the arrival of McLaws's Division, we marched to the rear, renewed our supply of ammunition, and returned to our position in the wood, near the church, which ground we held till a late hour in the afternoon, when we moved somewhat further to the right and bivouacked for the night. With the close of this bloody day ceased the hardest fought battle of the war.

In the Military Biography of Stonewall Jackson, edited by Rev. J. Wm. Jones, D. D., occur the following passages (pp. 330-31) in reference to this engagement:

Seeing Hood in their path the enemy paused, and a Northern correspondent writes: “ While our advance rather faltered, the rebels, greatly reinforced, made a sudden and impetuous onset,4 and drove our gallant fellows back over a portion of the hard won field. What we had [45] won, however, was not relinquished without a desperate struggle, and here, up the hills and down, through the woods and the standing corn, over the ploughed land and clover, the line of fire swept to and fro as one side or the other gained a temporary advantage.”

Hood was now fighting with his right toward the main line of the enemy, for General Hooker had swept round so far, that, as we have said, his line was almost at right angles with its original position. Hood threw himself into the action with great gallantry, and says in his report: “Here I witnessed the most terrible clash of arms by far that has occurred during the war. The two little giant brigades of my command wrestled with the mighty force, and although they lost hundreds of their officers and men, they drove them from their position, and forced them to abandon their guns on our left.” “One of these brigades numbered only eight hundred and fifty-four (854) men.”

The following morning I arose before dawn and rode to the front where, just after daybreak, General Jackson came pacing up on his horse, and instantly asked, “Hood, have they gone?” When I answered in the negative, he replied “I hoped they had,” and then passed on to look after his brave but greatly exhausted command.

The subjoined letter, I have no doubt, obtained my promotion about this period. I had no knowledge of its existence until after the close of the war, when it was handed to me in New York by Mr. Meyer, to whom I am indebted for the favor. He was at the time of the surrender a clerk in the War Office, at Richmond, and, in consideration of the unsettled condition of affairs, placed it among his papers for preservation:

headquarters, V. Dist., Sept. 27th, 1862.
General:--I respectfully recommend that Brig. Genl. J. B. Hood be promoted to the rank of a Major General. He was under my command during the engagements along the Chickahominy, commencing on the 27th of June last, when he rendered distinguished service. Though not of my command in the recently hard fought battle near Sharpsburg, Maryland, yet fox a portion of the day I had occasion to give directions respecting his operations, and it gives me pleasure to say that his duties were discharged with such ability and zeal, as to [46] command my admiration. I regard him as one of the most promising officers of the army.

I am, General, your obedient servant,


T. J. Jackson, Major General. General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. A. Endorsed, New York, November 9th, 1866.
The enclosed letter from General Jackson to General Cooper was handed to General Hood by Mr. Meyer (a former clerk in the War Department at Richmond), at the Southern Hotel in this city. The letter is the original, and preserved by Mr. Meyer.


The foregoing letter is doubly kind in its tenor, inasmuch as I was not serving in General Jackson's Corps at the time.

During the 18th the Confederate Army remained in possession of the field, buried the dead, and that night crossed near Shepherdstown to the south side of the Potomac. Soon thereafter my division marched to a point north of Winchester, and passed a pleasant month in the beautiful Valley of the Shenandoah. My arrest, which General Lee, just prior to the battle of Boonsboroa Gap, had been gracious enough to suspend, was never reconsidered; the temporary release became permanent, and, in lieu of being summoned to a Court Martial, I was shortly afterwards promoted to the rank of Major General with the command of two additional brigades.

The accession of Benning's and Anderson's brigades, which had already taken part in a number of battles, composed a division which any general might justly have felt honored to command. The former brigade had been gallantly led by General Toombs at Sharpsburg. I experienced much interest in training these troops, as I endeavored to excite emulation among them and thoroughly arouse their pride, in accordance with the system of education I had pursued with the Fourth Texas Regiment, Law's, and my original brigade. Under the unfortunate organization of brigades by States, I lost the Eighteenth Georgia Regiment and Hampton's Legion, to both [47] of which commands, I, as well as my Texas troops, had become warmly attached. The former had served with me longer than the latter, and in every emergency had proved itself bold and trusty; it styled itself, from a feeling of brother-hood, the Third Texas.

Whilst I lost these two excellent bodies of men, I gained the Third Arkansas, a large regiment, commanded by Colonel Van Manning, a brave and accomplished soldier, who served with distinction, and, in truth, merited higher rank and a larger command. I also lost the Sixth North Carolina, Ninth and Eleventh Mississippi Regiments, which, after long and gallant service in Law's brigade, were also transferred to other commands; thus, unfortunately, were severed relations which had been engendered and strengthened by common trials and dangers.

1 See Frobel's Report.

2 See Law's Report.

3 In my official report erroneously called St. Mumma Church.

4 The above mentioned large reinforcements were my two small brigades.

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