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Colonel John Bowie Magruder.

Historical Sketch of his life.

By Col. Wm. H. Stewart, Portsmouth, Va.
John Bowie Magruder was born on the 24th day of November, 1839, at Scottsville, in Albemarle county, Virginia. He was the oldest son of Benjamin H. Magruder and Maria Minor, daughter of Dr. James Minor, and great-grandson of Garrett Minor, of ‘Sunning Hill,’ who was a member of the Committee of Safety in 1775 for Louisa county, and represented it in the Legislature in 1793. The family removed to ‘Glenmore,’ about seven miles from Charlottesville, Va., when John was five years old. He first attended private schools in the neighborhood; went to Colonel John Bowie Strange's ‘Albemarle Military Academy,’ at Charlottesville, one session, then matriculated at the University of Virginia in 1856, and took the degree of Master of Arts in June, 1860. He was a teacher in Nelson's Academy, in Culpeper county, at the outbreak of the Confederate war, which position he at once relinquished and went to the Virginia Military Institute to take a two months course in military tactics.

On his return home, he organized a military company, called the ‘Rivanna Guards;’ was elected and commissioned captain July 22, 1861. The gray cloth for their uniforms was furnished by the county, and the ladies of the three families at ‘Glenmore,’ ‘Edge Hill,’ and ‘Gale Hill’ made them.

The ‘Rivanna Guards,’ under Special Order No. 276, Adjutant and Inspector-General's Office, Richmond, Va., dated September 12, 1861, was assigned to the 32d Virginia regiment infantry, Colonel B. Stoddert Ewell, commanding; and on the 23d day of September, 1861, it was transferred to the 57th Virginia regiment, constituted by Special Orde'r No. 285, under command of Major E. F. Keen, [206] and designated as Company ‘H.’ Colonel Lewis A. Armistead was subsequently assigned to its command, and on February 14, 1862, ordered to report to General Huger at Suffolk, Va. Colonel Armistead continued in command of the 57th Virginia regiment until April, 1862, when he was promoted to brigadier-general.

On the 20th of February, 1862, Brigadier-General A. G. Blanchard, commanding at Portsmouth, Va., moved Colonel Armistead's 57th Virginia regiment, and one section of Girardy's battery to defend the Blackwater river and cause its blockade. This force garrisoned Fort Dillard at the confluence of the Blackwater and Nottoway rivers, in North Carolina, until May 12th, when it was evacuated. Captain Magruder was directed to embark his company on an old steamboat and proceed up the river to Franklin. It had in tow a large schooner, which Captain Magruder was ordered to sink in the channel about seven miles below Franklin, to prevent pursuit by the enemy's gunboats, which might attempt to come up the river from Edenton. This work, after considerable trouble with the leaking steamboat, was successfully accomplished, and Captain Magruder's command disembarked at Franklin about 1 o'clock P. M., and rejoined the rest of the regiment, which, by a forced march, reached there about the same time. The artillery, ammunition, etc., were shipped to Raleigh, N. C., by the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad. After burning the county road bridge and railroad bridge over the Blackwater, they moved on and bivouacked for the night within two miles of Jerusalem. As the soldiers marched into the village next morning, the whole population turned out and treated them in the most hospitable manner.

John Tyler, Jr., son of ex-President John Tyler, was remarkably kind to Captain Magruder's company. He had a cart hitched up, loaded it with the knapsacks of the men, and directed the driver to go along with the company until encamped for the night and then return. Only those who have borne the burden of a knapsack strapped to the back on a hot day can fully appreciate such a kindness. Besides, Mr. Tyler had every man's haversack filled with deliciously cooked corn bread, which must have required fully six bushels of meal.

The camp for the night of the 13th was in a woods near Mr. Urquhart's farm, and about 11 o'clock A. M. of the 14th of May, the command arrived at Littletown where it rejoined the brigade which came up from Suffolk, and all moved to a point about two and a half miles north and east of Petersburg, where they encamped. [207]

On the 28th of May, Armistead's brigade was engaged in obstructing the Appomattox river at Point of Rocks, and soon after this date was ordered to the north side of James river. On the 25th of June, it was posted about five miles from Richmond, between the York River Railroad and the Williamsburg road, occupying rifle pits in the margin of a woods from the railroad to the Williamsburg road. There was constant skirmishing along the line. On 29th it moved to the Charles City road; on 30th moved down the road and engaged the enemy, losing one man killed and one wounded. On July 1st, in the celebrated charge on Malvern Hill, Captain Magruder's company lost twenty-seven men, killed and wounded, in about forty minutes—one-half of the company present.

On July 3rd, Armistead's brigade reported to General Longstreet, near Temperance Hall, about three miles from ‘Shirley,’ nearly opposite the mouth of the Appomattox, and was put under the command of General A. P. Hill until the 11th of July. Captain Magruder was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, July 31st, 1862.

On the 23d of July, Armistead's brigade was assigned to General R. H. Anderson's division, and on August 16, 1862, proceeded to Louisa, and from thence on the first Maryland campaign. Armistead's brigade was in reserve at the second battle of Manassas, and at the capture of Harper's Ferry from Maryland Heights; but it was engaged in the battle of Sharpsburg.

At Martinsburg, in September, 1862, it was transferred from Anderson's to Pickett's division, which was at the battle of Fredericksburg, December 11-15, but not actively engaged. It remained with the army on the Rappahannock until early in February, 1863, when it marched to Richmond, thence to Petersburg, thence by the line of the railroad towards Suffolk on a foraging expedition.

Lieutenant-Colonel Magruder was promoted to Colonel, January 12, 1863, and soon after Lieutenant John D. Watson, was appointed adjutant of the 57th Virginia regiment. Colonel John B. Magruder was assigned to an independent command and posted on the White Marsh road leading from Edenton, N. C., to Suffolk, Va., about four miles from the latter place. General Pickett with the remainder of the division was on the Sumerton road. Colonel Magruder's force was made up of the 11th, 17th and 57th Virginia infantry regiments and Macon's battery of four pieces.

Skirmishes were of frequent occurrence for three weeks. The enemy made an attack on the 21st of March, with force about equal to ours, and were summarily repulsed by Colonel Magruder, with [208] little loss to his command; but, on the 24th, an expedition in overwhelming numbers made an assault upon Colonel Magruder's command, and again retired ingloriously. At the same time another force attacked General Pickett on the Sumerton road. The force sent against Colonel Magruder was under command of General Michael Corcoran, of the noted Irish brigade. The Federal reports say it consisted of about 5,000 infantry commanded by Colonel R. S. Foster, under whom were Colonel J. C. Drake, Colonel Francis Beal, Colonel Clarance Buel and Colonel Mathew Murphey, commanding the Irish brigade, with 500 cavalry under command of Colonel Samuel P. Spier, and ten pieces of artillery under Captain John G. Simpson. Colonel Buel, of the 169th New York infantry was severely wounded, and his lieutenant-colonel reported that his regiment was placed far in advance of all others in support of battery D, 4th U. S. artillery, commanded by Captain Follet, and unflinchingly faced a continuous and unabating shower of shell, grape and cannister, from the well directed fire of the enemy until orders were received to retire. This is a high compliment to Colonel Magruder from the enemy, whose loss in men and equipment was greater than they were willing to admit. It did not take long to find out that Colonel Magruder was terribly in earnest with all work assigned to him, and it was known throughout the whole division that he was a man of fine courage and ability, and he was held in high esteem by his superiors, as well as those under him. The splendid management of Colonel Magruder and the gallant conduct of his troops were duly appreciated and acknowledged in order from headquarters, as follows:

Headquarters Pickett's division, April 25th, 1863.
Col.,—The Maj.-General commanding directs me to say that it affords him great pleasure to acknowledge the important services of yourself and command during the time that you held the important position on the White Marsh Road. All of the dispositions you made to receive the enemy, and especially the manner in which you received them, and notwithstanding their greatly superior numbers, repulsed them, meets with special approval. He desires you to express his approval in orders to Macon's battery, the 11th Virginia infantry, Kemper's brigade. The 17th Virginia infantry, Corse's brigade, and your own gallant regiment, the 57th.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Ro. Johnson, A. A. A. G.


To Col. J. B. Magruder, 57th Virginia regiment, Commanding, White Marsh Road.
Thereupon the colonel commanding issued congratulatory orders to his troops. General Longstreet ordered his troops to withdraw from the siege of Suffolk on the night of the 4th of May, and Colonel Magruder's regiment marched from thence to Richmond, where it remained about a week; thence it moved to encamp within two miles of Hanover Junction, where preparations were made for the advance into Pennsylvania.

On June 24th, Pickett's division crossed the Potomac at Williamsport and bivouacked on the Maryland shore. It entered Chambersburg on the 27th of June, marched directly through the town, and encamped on the York road about four miles out. The division was detained here three or four days, destroying railroad depots, workshops and public machinery. On the morning of the 2d day of July, 1863, at 2 o'clock, it took up the march to Gettysburg, marching 23 miles, and within three miles of that place, before it was halted to rest. Early next morning it moved towards the line of battle, and in the afternoon made the great charge which shattered and immortalized Pickett's splendid division. Colonel John Bowie Magruder fell mortally wounded within twenty steps of the enemy's cannon, shouting: ‘They are ours.’ He was struck by two shots—one in the left breast and the other under the right arm, which crossed the wound in his breast.

On the spot where he thus gloriously fell mortally wounded, Colonel Magruder was made prisoner and carried to the hospital in Gettysburg. Here he languished until July 5th, 1863, when his spirit took its flight. He was a member of the ‘Epsilon Alpha Fraternity,’ and a frater caused his remains to be encased in a metallic coffin, and, with all his personal effects, sent to his father by flag of truce to Richmond, in October, 1863. He was buried at ‘Glenmore,’ in Albemarle county.

His cousin, James Watson Magruder, himself afterward killed on the battlefield at Meadow Bridge, May 11th, 1864, writing from camp near Fredericksburg. August 8, 1863, said: ‘From last information, John now sleeps among those gallant spirits who that day bore our banner so nobly against the ramparts of the enemy on the battlefield in a foreign land. If so, he died with his laurels thick around him. I saw him in Loudoun [county] a short while before the army left Virginia, looking better and in better spirits than I [210] ever knew him. It almost disposes me to quarrel with the decrees of heaven when he, the noblest of us all, in the flower of his youth, is thus untimely cut off. Why could not other men, who might be better spared, be taken in his stead? But our country demands the noblest for her altars. Our grief is increased by the fact that our country cannot afford to lose such men.’

The spirit of this letter exhibits in every line the unselfish patriotism of the Southern youth. Their sacrifices made glorious the history of the Confederate States. The proud record is so close to us that we should see it at every mental glance, feel it at every move, and touch it at every step. It is a fadeless essence, beautiful and brilliant. Its stars, like diamonds in the tomb of royalty, will rest undimmed by the dust and lapse of ages.

John Bowie Magruder, in the flower of his manhood, in the 24th year of his age, fell for the glory of his country in the great battle which turned the destiny of the South. His name is enrolled amongst the heroes of his Alma Mater, the University of Virginia, and listed with the dead on the field of battle, whose courage and chivalry made the fame of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Sharpsburg. [from the Richmond, Va., Times, May 28, 1899.] graphic description of the battle and its results.

The courage and self-sacrifice of the Confederates during the campaign.

Some months since an article on the battle of Sharpsburg, which appeared in the Confederate column of the Richmond Dispatch, stated that the writer for the first time had cause to be ashamed of the Confederate soldier. Ever since I have waited for some one to notice this criticism—some one whose knowledge of the facts was greater than mine, and who could defend the reputation of men who never had cause to be ashamed of their actions—their deeds then and forever will speak for themselves. From Bethel to Appomattox their grand leader and their country was proud of them, and they never had cause to blush with shame themselves. [211]

It is true that there were many stragglers (not deserters), or General McClellan would have found out before the second day after the battle that he could claim a victory. These men, please bear in mind, had in about eight weeks marched from Richmond to Frederick, Md.; had fought and won the battles of Cedar Creek, Second Manassas, Chantilly, Harper's Ferry, South Mountain—though not successful in holding the passes of the latter, they had crossed the Potomac, and then retraced their route to Sharpsburg, and with a record that never before has been claimed of any army in an enemy's country. When hungry, tired soldiers marched through a land of plenty and took no man's goods, not even apples in the orchards; when forced marches on empty stomach had broken down and worn out the men, of course the older, sick and weak men dropped out of the column and straggled from necessity.

Governor Curtin and General Wool both testify that these men—ragged, shoeless, half-fed—passed through the country without making depredations or taking anything without offering to pay for what they took, even if it were in Confederate scrip. General Lee's order had been issued to that effect, and though hungry, the men observed his request. It is for the future historian to compare such an order and the character of the man who issued it and the men who observed it, with the vandalism of Butler, Sherman, and Sheridan and their men. These were not men to be ashamed of, even if some of them did straggle, and when those who were on hand when General Lee marshalled his forces on that 17th day of September, with an army, variously estimated at from 35,000 to 40,000 men, to cope with General McClellan, with about 90,000 to 120,000 men (see his report in Vol. XIX, War of ‘Rebellion,’ dated September 20, 1862; also Long's Memoirs of Robert E. Lee, page 220), every man who answered roll-call knew that a terrible and bloody battle was before him, and when the day was over they had nothing then to be ashamed of, nor had the stragglers, who, weak from hunger, with bare feet, leaving bloody tracks where each step was made, crossed the river all day and joined in the battle wherever the fighting line might be. The men who fought at Sharpsburg have a record as proud and free from shame as those who fought in any other battle of the war, Gettysburg not excepted.

As to the victory.

It was not my intention when I began, to write so long a preface but only to recite an incident that occurred after Sharpsburg. [212]

A short time since, I was talking with Colonel William H. Palmer, afterwards A. A. G. to General A. P. Hill, and asked if General Hill had ever made a report of the engagement at the ford below Sheppardstown; how many men were there, and what General Hill's opinion of the fight had been. It seems that Hill had never been fond of writing reports and seldom made one, and they are all too brief. Colonel Palmer stated that he had often talked with General Hill about the attack and defeat of the Yankees, though he had never before met one who had participated in the affair, and as General Hill had fought the battle, and by driving the Yankees back, was the man who changed the whole plan of the campaign for that year, he would be glad if I would try to remember all that occurred, as the whole honor and glory belonged to General Hill.

The battle of Sharpsburg is claimed as a Federal victory. Why, I do not know, except that in that case we failed to drive the enemy entirely off the field, as we had done before, but all the 18th, the next day after the battle, we lay waiting for ‘Little Mac’ to come out of his hole and try another tussle. As he refused to do this, General Lee retired on the night of that day, and then, for the first time, McClellan claimed his victory.

Our battery, being on the extreme right of our line, was drawn off first, and reached the ford shortly after dark. This ford was an exceedingly difficult one, especially for an army with a ‘victorious’ enemy in its rear. The road crossed the C. & O. canal, then down the steep berm bank to the river, which at that time was waist deep. On the southern side of the bank was again steep, and the road ran for some distance along the foot of the bluff, then crossed a deep ravine by means of a narrow bridge, and then into a gorge, so that a long time was necessary to cross an army with all its artillery, wagons, etc. As soon as we had crossed, an aide directed us to place our guns on the bluff and wait for orders. My captain directed me to wait at the ford until General Gregg (of A. P. Hill's division) crossed and to report to him (General A. P. Hill's light division being the rear guard of the army).

All night long I sat on my horse waiting for General Gregg, but it was not until morning, just after daybreak, that his brigade reached the river. I delivered my message and found my way to the battery. Just here I wish to call attention to the difference between the Confederate and the enemy: General McClellan, for more than a month after the battle, remained near Sharpsburg, trying to reorganize his army, calling for reinforcements, stating in one of his reports that a [213] division with 18,000 on its roll had only 7,000 for duty, the rest having returned to their homes, and, finally, provost marshals were appointed all over the States (I should say the Union States) to bring these deserters back, and during all that time the utmost efforts were made to recruit his army and outfit it in clothing, tents, ammunition, etc., while the ‘beaten and routed’ Confederates fell into line as naturally as water seeks its level.

As I stood at the ford that night the men, as they passed, would call out the number of their regiment, or the name of their battery, soon finding their own places, and when General Lee, two days afterwards, settled on the hills around Bunker Hill, the men had reorganized themselves and were ready to fight again. As stated before, after seeing the entire army cross the river, I found my way to our battery-tired, hungry, and anxious to find something to eat. It happened that a stray chicken got in my way and found its way into the frying pan in a very short time. Up to that time, so far as I know, no orders had been issued to those five batteries; we were left there with about 175 infantry, under General Roger A. Pryor, as a shadow of support for the guns. Just about sunrise General Longstreet rode up and ordered me to take two guns to shell a point of woods on the other side of the river, where he said the enemy were massing. Like the poor innocent that I was, I took the guns and left the chicken, and when my duty with the guns was over I returned to find both General Longstreet and my chicken gone. He left orders, however, that we were to remain on the bluff as long as possible, and when driven away by larger and longer range guns to retire as quickly as possible upon the rear of the army. With the exception of the odor of fried chicken and two peaches that I had found on a tree near the battery, I had nothing to eat all that day.

During the morning we had some little firing, but were exceedingly annoyed by the infantry lying in the bed of the canal and concealed in a house and barn opposite our battery. Finding this picket fire was coming too fast and close, I determined to burn the barn with shrapnel, if possible, and I think that by one shot during this fire I gave General Lee at least four good hours in which to make his way back to Bunker Hill—the position that he had selected to meet McClellan, if that general chose to follow him. I observed an officer and an orderly riding down the hill towards the barn and house alluded to above, and, having cut the fuse and being just about to give the order to fire, I concluded to try a shot at these [214] men instead of at the barn. So moving the trail slightly to the left and giving the gun a very slight elevation, I was delighted to see, upon the explosion of the shrapnel, that both men had been knocked from their horses to the ground. One of them was evidently killed, the other badly wounded; but after about half an hour he succeeded in getting on his horse, with the assistance of the rail fence, and rode to the rear.

From what occurred afterwards, I am satisfied that these men came with orders for the men hidden in the barn, house and bed of the canal to charge across the river at a given signal; because just about that time a battery of 20-pound Parrotts, which we had observed for an hour or two on the extreme left of the enemy's line, commenced firing; and though the distance was estimated to be about two miles and a half, their shots fell within a few feet of our guns, though none of them exploded where they struck, but ricochetted over our heads to where General Pryor's infantry was lying in the woods. Our guns, being smooth bore, could not, of course, fight a battery of 20-pound Parrotts, so we withdrew just below the brow of the hill and awaited further orders.

Upon the withdrawal of our guns the firing of this battery ceased, and being very tired, to say nothing about being sleepy and hungry, I stretched myself on the ground and went to sleep. How long I slept I have no idea, but was awakened by a most tremendous fire of artillery all along the line of the hill on the north bank of the river, and noticed particularly that our friends of the 20-pound Parrotts had the range of the top of our hill in a most uncomfortable manner. As I rose to my feet I found the whole woods on the other side ablaze with the fire of heavy guns, ranging from 3-inch rifles to 24-pound Howitzers—probably some twenty-five guns altogether. How many infantry were in the bed of the river and crossing the canal it would be hard to tell, but, from my frightened condition, I thought there were a million of them. The river was full of men over half way across, cheering and firing as they came on.

The men of our battery, together with those belonging to other batteries on the bluff, were mixed in helter-skelter race for the road, the whole field and road being crowded with men, guns, horses, limber chests without the guns, caissons, officers on horseback and on foot, all in a confused mass and all making the best time possible to where they expected to find the rear of General Lee's army. I had been so sound asleep that I was somewhat dazed by the noise of the guns and the rattling of muskets, the bursting of shells, and the [215] general confusion around me. For the moment I did not notice that the gun of which I had charge was still standing unlimbered on the edge of the hill, but calling two men, one named Solomon, and the other named Manoni, both of whom promptly returned, we succeeded in limbering the gun, the men mounted the horses, and we were quickly following the procession. For probably a mile the Yankee guns commanded the gorge up which this road ran, and every step of it I took at a gait that would have done credit to John Gilpin on his famous ride.

It is no use denying the fact, I ran as fast as my horse could carry me, through the crowded road or through fields, where possible, and the men of my gun followed me. At the first turn, which was the road running towards Shepherdstown, we turned from the column, intending to go there and find where the rear of the army was. Just after turning into this road, I came across my old comrades, the 2d and 3d Howitzers, with their horses unhitched, guns parked both men and horses endeavoring to get supper of some kind, utterly unconscious that the Yankees had crossed the river. They had evidently been forgotten. It was only a few minutes before the battalion was hitched up and on their way also to the rear, as fast as possible.

How late that night we pushed onward, or where we struck General Hill, I have not the slightest recollection. It seemed to me, however, that the night was interminable, and that we must be many miles beyond the river. At last, however, we did strike General Hill, and our story was communicated to his headquarters. A fighter like General Hill needed no orders when his rear was pressed, and by daylight next morning the tramp of that tireless infantry that had already marched and fought until any other less hardened soldiers or men of such spirit would have given out and broken down, was heard marching back to the river, the clatter of their canteens, the occasional clanking of a musket butt against a bayonet, and the rumbling of the artillery carriages being the only sounds, but plainly showing that General Hill did not intend to allow General McClellan to push General Lee, but to give him a tussle for the advance.

How far we marched that morning I do not know, but when the infantry struck the Yankees that were encamped on the south side of the river preparing their breakfast, the tired stride that had carried these veterans over so many miles was forgotten, as, with an old-fashioned rebel yell, they opened fire, and in a short time charged, and though the Yankees fought, and fought well, they could not stand the rush of Hill's troops. I am under the impression that we did [216] not fire a gun on that morning. The fight lasted probably an hour, though, as Bob Stiles says, ‘No man knows in a fight whether he has been there five minutes or a whole day.’

But as the Yankees began to give way and to rush down the sides of the ravine into the road and thence into the river, the fire of Hill's infantry became steadier and their aim truer, and how many were killed no one knows—the ravine was narrow and full of men, every man for himself in a mad effort to cross the river before the rebels could overtake them. I remember seeing the river full of men, as I recall now, not firing a single gun, while our men lay on the top of the bluff and poured volley after volley into the enemy, every man who was shot going down to his death in the river either by the shot or by drowning. It was one of the horrible sights of war, but a necessary and effectual check to McClellan.

I have been unable to find in the short time I have spent in look-over the volumes of the ‘War of the Rebellion’ how many men Hill had and how many Federal troops there were, my impression being, however, that we carried between 3,500 and 4,000 men. Five of our guns had been left on the bluff, and were found just as we left them. The one belonging to our battery was quickly taken charge of by our men, and the march to the rear again resumed.

This time General McClellan was convinced that it would be prudent for him to allow General Lee to choose his own place for meeting him, and we were not pushed nor followed, not even a gun was fired from the other side of the river as we withdrew.

This action of General Hill's proved to be one of the turning points in the campaign of ‘62. McClellan certainly had had an experience that made him cautious.

On the 22d of September, with nearly three times as many men as General Lee had, McClellan again reports from the north side of the Potomac that he ‘did not feel authorized to cross the river in pursuit of the retiring enemy,’ and in the same report (which is the only reference I have found as to the instance related above) says: ‘The enemy still continues to show their pickets along the river, and with a large force drove back the last reconnoissance that was attempted on the other side.’ This hardly sustains the boastful claim of a victory at Sharpsburg.

A perusal of the ‘War of the Rebellion,’ to the men who participated in these scenes, is exceedingly interesting, and especially when a victorious army, after one of the bloodiest battles of the war, remains on its own side of the river for at least six weeks looking for [217] General Lee with his defeated columns up and down the river, when they could easily have found him at Bunker Hill, not twenty miles from the Potomac, waiting to give McClellan a chance for another ‘glorious victory.’ McClellan in the meantime was continually calling on Washinton for troops, asking that this general be sent to his army, and that general—it may be, to repair the bridges at Harper's Ferry and other places, and it was not until late in the fall that the Army of the Potomac attempted to cross at Harper's Ferry, and advanced upon Culpeper and along the Rappahannock river. The probabilities are, therefore, that our little stand at the ford below Sheppardstown, where twenty guns and 175 infantry held McClellan's ‘victorious’ army for a whole day, and again on the next day, when General Hill drove his ‘reconnoissance in force’ back with such loss, impressed the enemy with such profound respect for the shooting qualities of the ‘ragged rebels’ that the whole Federal army had to be recruited ‘almost anew’ and outfitted, as is shown by the official reports filed, before willing again to challenge General Lee to a battle. Before General McClellan, however, who was a good soldier and a gallent man, could get himself ready, some one else was put in charge of his army, with instructions to take Richmond whether or no.

The late Cuban war has taken up the attention of the people of the present generation, so that we ‘old fogies’ of ‘61 to ‘65 are relegated to the rear, and when we begin to talk about war, fighting, suffering, sleepless nights and dreary days, without clothes, without shoes, with nothing but the unconquerable spirit which made the Army of Northern Virginia the grandest army the world ever saw, when Jackson's ‘Foot Cavalry,’ Longstreet's ‘Heavies,’ and Hill's ‘Light Infantry,’ would march twenty or thirty miles from dawn of one day to the beginning of a second, then fight all day and possibly two, the boys of the present day are inclined to laugh and say, ‘Old man, you are a back number,’ and so we are. Year by year the men who held the Southern Cross for four long, weary years against overwhelming odds, and whipped and killed more men than they at any time had in the army, are fast passing away, and it will be but a few years before all of them shall have ‘passed over the river to rest under the shade of the trees.’

I say ‘whipped,’ and say so deliberately; they never whipped us, but wore us out; and on April 8th and 9th of 1865, there was as much fight in the eight or ten thousand veterans who had followed General Lee to Appomattox as there had ever been, and some as [218] gallant stands made by these men then as can be found in the pages of history. We were overwhelmed by numbers in the army and by suffering and starvation at home, where such men as Sheridan and Sherman overran our country and devastated it so that ‘a crow flying over would have to carry his rations with him.’ With such a record as that, we old veterans still think we have a right to talk, and if any of the younger generation wish to learn what fighting is, let him attend any ‘Campfire,’ and get some of the men around to talk about the old times; old eyes will kindle into flashing fire, old forms, bent with age, straighten up, as first one and then another tells of the charge on such and such a battery, or a stand made behind such a fence, or how such and such a battery—as, for instance, the First Company of Howitzers at Chancellorsville—held the entire right wing of the Union army at bay for a whole day without infantry support, as Rev. Willam Dame, of Baltimore, will tell him; or get Major Robert Stiles to repeat his lecture on the Second Battle of Cold Harbor, where in eight minutes 13,000 of Grant's splendid army were killed and wounded by the ‘ragged rebels’; and the youth, if he has any manhood in him, and is not simply a second-class cigarette smoker, will become convinced that the ‘old man’ is not far wrong in claiming a right to talk, and that ‘there were giants in those days.’

Possibly, therefore, he will listen more respectfully and with more interest not only to the tales of the battles, with the rattle of musketry, the deep boom of cannon, the whistle of the conical bullet, the bursting of the shell, the commands of the officers riding here and there with sometimes loud and angry curses and sometimes with the clear, cool words of the man who has thorough control of himself; the noise, dust, confusion and, above all, an excitement that compares with nothing else in the world, the weary marches through rain or choking dust, the dreary camps, the suffering from cold and lack of clothing—but to the cause for which their fathers fought and for which so many of them laid down their lives.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, as the case may be, from the standpoint from which it is viewed, we had no war correspondents in our army who made it their business to laud their officers and to decry the action of those not so popular, and therefore as unwilling as some of us may be to write articles of this character at this late date, we feel it is due that the individual soldier should tell what he saw and what he knew, not only of the privates who stood shoulder to shoulder with him, but of their great and gallant leaders, than whom [219] no better soldiers ever fought; and we hope that you and the public will accept this view of the case as an apology for so long an article. We are the war correspondents, though our story is nearly thirty-five years old.

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Sharpsburg (Maryland, United States) (9)
Suffolk, Va. (Virginia, United States) (5)
Harper's Ferry (West Virginia, United States) (5)
Richmond (Virginia, United States) (4)
Appomattox (Virginia, United States) (4)
Zuni (Virginia, United States) (2)
Williamsburg (Virginia, United States) (2)
Portsmouth, Va. (Virginia, United States) (2)
Meadow Mills (Virginia, United States) (2)
Fredericksburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (2)
Frederick, Md. (Maryland, United States) (2)
Charlottesville (Virginia, United States) (2)
Chantilly (Virginia, United States) (2)
York, Pa. (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
White Marsh (Virginia, United States) (1)
United States (United States) (1)
Temperance Hill (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Scottsville (Virginia, United States) (1)
Raleigh (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Nottoway river (United States) (1)
North Carolina (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Maryland Heights (Maryland, United States) (1)
Martinsburg (West Virginia, United States) (1)
Malvern Hill (Virginia, United States) (1)
Louisa Court House (Virginia, United States) (1)
Louisa (Virginia, United States) (1)
Loudoun (Virginia, United States) (1)
Jackson (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Gale Hill (Oregon, United States) (1)
Edge Hill (Virginia, United States) (1)
Edenton (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Culpeper (Virginia, United States) (1)
Colorado (Colorado, United States) (1)
Charles City (Virginia, United States) (1)
Chancellorsville (Virginia, United States) (1)
Chambersburg, Pa. (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Baltimore, Md. (Maryland, United States) (1)
Albemarle (Virginia, United States) (1)

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