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The Crenshaw Battery. [from the Richmond, Va., star, January 15, 1894.]

Its service during its return from Gettysburg at falling Waters, Brandy Station, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Jericho Ford, and Second Cold Harbor Reviewed.

[Mr. J. C. Goolsby, who is contributing a serial of graphic and entertaining articles to the Star on the service of the redoubtable Crenshaw Battery, from Richmond, Va., enlisted in this organization when he was only fourteen years old. He gallantly followed the fortunes of his command to the close of the war, being among those who surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse.]

The Crenshaw Battery commenced its memorable retreat from the disastrous heights of Gettysburg during a hard rain on the night of the Fourth of July as we started on our march, and everything looked terribly dark, but the troops were in good spirits, and though the Federal army had achieved their first victory, they had not the nerve to attempt to follow it up by an onward movement. They knew too well the troops they were opposing, and that Lee had taught them too often the necessity of prudence, which they were not slow in acknowledging at this time, as was illustrated in the [369] quietude enjoyed by the Federal army in succeeding this great battle, as they never attempted to follow us until the next day, and then only with the cavalry, under Kilpatrick, who came up with our wagon train, attacked it, and were beaten off by Stuart. We moved on over the roads, which were in a horrible condition, the men discussing the battle and its effect, occasionally being interrupted by the report that the Federal army were marching to intercept us and cut us off from the main force, which were moving on another road. We reached Hagerstown after a long and toilsome march, where we halted and awaited the approach of the enemy. The Potomac was swollen to a considerable height, occasioned by the heavy rains, which prevented our crossing.

It was while we were here that the news came—how I know not—that the Confederacy had been recognized by France, and that other European powers were ready to do the same; that our ports were to be opened to the world, and our independence was soon to be an assured fact. How joyous was this news, with what delight and pleasure was it told and retold by the men. Meade's whole army was now gathering thick and fast, flushed with victory, and just in our front were the angry, surging waters of the Potomac, leaping high in their endeavor to get over their banks-all nature seeming to conspire in our


Such, indeed, was the situation of our army at that time. But it soon became noised about that this unexpected joy was like the morning dew, to be dissipated by the first rays of the sun, and we soon learned that the report was untrue, which had, of course, the effect of causing the men to express their opinion on this very important subject in no uncertain way. How we needed help! Fighting the whole world—that was about the size of it. Was there ever such a destruction of life—the very flower of the Southern country—by such an unprincipled enemy as made up, to a great extent, the Federal army, many of whom could not speak a word of the English language, and were soldiers only for the thirteen dollars per month, and the bounty which at that time the United States government was dispensing with lavish hands! We expected here to have another tilt with the enemy, and were hastening our troops through Williamsport on the march to Falling Waters, the point selected for our [370] crossing. But General Meade was too much in fear of Lee's troops to attack, and he only made an effort when he found our troops crossing the Potomac, where a sharp fight occurred, in which General Pettigrew, a gallant brigade general of Hill's corps, was killed before we succeeded in driving him back where he was glad to be out of our reach. It was said a

Council of war

was called by General Meade while we lay near Hagerstown to discuss the situation, and it was decided not to hazard an attack. There were numerous cavalry skirmishes on our trip back to Virginia, but no general engagement by the army. Although our troops were still sanguine of the ultimate success of our arms it was

A dark hour

for the Confederacy, for about that time came news of Grant's destruction of a great part of the Mississippi, and of Morgan's capture in Ohio, besides the successes attending the naval forces of the enemy.

In looking over the results of this great struggle I am struck with the fact that Lee's army, although it received its first check here after beating its opponent in every previous battle, was ready again to meet the enemy, which it did in subsequent battles and proved itself more than a match for them, thereby evidencing their entire confidence in General Lee, which they ever continued to have.

But we were soon in Virginia again, having crossed the Potomac for the last time, that is, our battalion never saw the Potomac again as an organization, and soon we were in the great Valley of Virginia, and after reaching Bunker Hill, and resting some three or four days our march was resumed, and, pushing on we passed through Winchester, nothing occurring worthy of mention. As the fall of the year was now at hand it was soon apparent that we would spend the winter somewhere near the Rapidan. But we are suddenly interrupted by the report that the enemy were tearing up the railroad near Brandy Station, on the Orange and Alexandria railroad, and we were hurried forward to meet them, and a battle ensued, in which we had several men badly wounded, among them Jack Moyers, who lost a leg. We succeeded in driving them back. [371]

As winter was now approaching, we were ordered to the south side of the Rapidan, and soon we were preparing for winter quarters, the selected spot being in the celebrated Green Springs neighborhood of Louisa county, where we remained during the winter. It .was here we went through the form of enlisting for the war. Our time was spent here very quietly—this being our second winter in the army.

In the meantime, General Grant had been made commander of the United States Army, and was to take personal command of the Army of the Potomac, General Meade taking a back seat, or rather a subordinate position. Thus everything pointed to an early spring campaign, and everything possible that was honorable was resorted to to strengthen our army, and we had a complete overhauling of our guns, repairing of harness, &c. Longstreet having been recalled from the West, where he was sent by General Lee to assist that army, our troops were soon ready to again take the field. The winter was over; the grass again covered the ground, and the air was redolent with the perfume of wild flowers with which this section of our State abounds, the buds were bursting from their long pent-up homes—everything conspired to cause one to exclaim with the prophet of old: ‘The earth is the Lord's—he makes it to blossom and bring forth the harvest.’ And yet amidst these scenes so delightful to the senses, not far from us lay our cool, calculating enemy, with whom, in a short time, we would meet in a death struggle, for at this time the roads were being filled up with troops as they hurriedly marched to Spotsylvania Courthouse, where Grant, after crossing the Rapidan, Warren in advance, would meet our troops with gallant A. P. Hill in the lead, General Lee having anticipated this movement, and there commenced a series of battles which lasted for days. General Grant had consolidated the numerous divisions into three corps—Hancock, a brilliant soldier, whom we met so often, commanding the Second Corps; Warren, who tried to run over us at Five Forks, with Sheridan's cavalry, commanding the Fifth, and Sedgwick, a popular officer, whose fame was eclipsed at Fredericksburg, just previous to the battle of Chancellorsville, commanding the Sixth, with General Phil. Sheridan to manage the cavalry, and to do all the destroying of growing crops that he and his bold troopers could in the short space of time he was to remain in the Valley. It is said that Grant's army would fill any road in the State for more than a hundred miles with his soldiers, trains of wagons [372] &c. This was something like the force that the Confederate commander was to meet in the jungles of Spotsylvania in the early part of the month of May—about the 3d or 4th—and the Federal army, after occupying the whole night of the 3d in crossing the Rapidan at Kelly's, Ely's and Germanna Fords, was to seize our little army and strangle it and pass on to Richmond, but the ever watchful eye of Lee had arranged things differently, and the advance of Warren's corps was met and repulsed by the troops of A. P. Hill. The Crenshaw battery reached Spotsylvania Courthouse late in the evening and went into position just to the left and rear of that building for the night, when early next morning one section of the battery was ordered to move off to the right, Mahone at that time having gained a signal advantage over the enemy by a quick movement to the right, piercing his right center-capturing a number of prisoners. Here we had the limber-chests of one of the caissons blown up and had one man badly burned. After the return of this section to the line (for we had thrown up here a temporary line of breastworks) we remained in full view of the enemy until the quietness was suddenly broken by the wounding of William Ellis Jones by a sharpshooter, when again we commenced the same old unfortunate artillery duelling, in which we again were to suffer a percussion shell of the enemy, striking the front of one of our pieces, bursting and wounding three men—Sergeant Jeff. Thomas, who was shot in the face and painfully wounded; Alonzo Phillips, also shot in the face and dangerously wounded, and Richard Seeley, whose face was so badly cut that he never returned to the battery. It now became apparent to General Grant, who had been butting up against our earthworks, that his famous declaration of ‘fighting it out on that line if it took all the summer,’ was not to be fulfilled. After several brilliant charges on the part of both armies, notably the one of the Second corps (Hancock commanding), in which our General Edward Johnson was captured, with a large number of prisoners, which gave to the enemy only a temporary advantage, as our works were speedily retaken, the Man of Destiny started on another flank movement, and soon both armies were manoeuvering for position, this time to halt near Hanover Junction, where Grant attempted to cross the North Anna river, the outcome of which was the battle of Jericho Ford, where our company lost two more men—George Young, heretofore mentioned as the genial, whole-souled companion whose chief delight was in making others happy, [373] being mortally wounded, and ‘big’ Caldwell killed. Poor Caldwell, you, too, have proven your loyalty to the cause which resulted in the unholy sacrifice of so many noble and fearless men. This battle was fought in rather a different way from any other this company ever participated in, or, rather, we went into this fight in a different manner. Our company, as also the

Letcher Battery,

which was on our right, formed under the brow of a hill overlooking the North Anna, the enemy being strongly posted on the opposite side, when, after allowing so much space for each gun to be properly worked, at a given signal, started up and soon unlimbered, and went to work and succeeded in driving Warren's troops back and quieting the batteries of the enemy, but not until they had caused a severe loss to our battery. After this battle, General Grant, with a determination which savored of butchery, both armies having taken up the line of march, attempted to storm our works, and we had as a result the second battle of Cold Harbor, in which, to say the least, the loss of the enemy was greater than the whole number of men engaged on our side, and which had the effect of creating great dissatisfaction in their army, which culminated in the men refusing to obey orders for a forward movement.

Observe here the conduct of Grant in contrast with that of Lee as exhibited in the memorable struggle in the Wilderness. When it became necessary to recapture a certain line which had been seized by Hancock, General Lee, with that promptness characteristic of the great soldier, started forward to lead the troops, which, of course, our soldiers, officers as well as privates, would not permit. Whereas Grant, after butchering his men here at Cold Harbor, and they being unwilling again to face our works, never showed any disposition to lead them himself, but remained quietly behind his own works. But that was one thing the Confederacy could with very great satisfaction boast of. Her army was certainly well officered with bold, intelligent, and courageous men, always ready to lead. The world never saw their superiors. We were now on nearly the same ground on which the seven days battles were fought, the Federal army at that time being in command of General George B. McClellan. But oh, what changes! Then our uniforms were bright, and everything pointed, as I then thought, to certain victory; but now the thin, emaciated [374] form of the Confederate soldier told in language too plain the sufferings he was then undergoing for the want of proper sustenance. And now, before closing this letter, let me say that Grant had certainly played the last card known in the art of warfare—


for all it was worth. For he confessed to a loss before reaching the south side of the James of more than the Army of Northern Virginia had in the field. After pontooning the James, the army of Grant was now where it might have been at any time without the loss of a single man. But here he is near Bermuda Hundred, and is soon to lay siege to Petersburg, it having been proven to his satisfaction that the ‘Cockade City’ could not be captured by an attack in front, and that our southern connections were safe, at least for the present. But here I stop.

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