previous next

Who captured Heckman's Brigade?

Editor of the Times-Dispatch:
Sir.—In reading the December, 1904, copy of the Confederate Veteran, a few days ago, I came across an article signed by Comrade Stansel, of Gracie's Alabama Brigade, in which he takes issue with Sergeant Marion Seay, of Company E, Eleventh Virginia Infantry, as to whom belongs the honor of capturing Heckman's Brigade, in the Drewry's Bluff fight of May 16, 1864. Let me say that both Sergeant Seay and Comrade Stansel are mistaken as to dates. The battle of Drewry's Bluff was fought on the 16th of May, 1864, and not on either the 15th or

Our brigade, that of Kemper, under Colonel (afterwards Brigadier-General), William R. Terry, of the Twenty-fourth Infantry, had been in front of Newbern, N. C., and afterwards, under General Hoke, assisting in the capture of Plymouth and Little Washington, in preparation to take Newbern, but on account of our ironclad gunboat (The Trent), having run aground at Kingston, the attempt on Newbern was abandoned, and we were ordered to return to Virginia as soon as possible. We got back to our lines, in rear of Manchester and Drewry's Bluff, on the morning of the 7th or 8th of May, and took position in the first line of entrenchments, under command of General Bragg. On the night of the 14th of May, General Beauregard came over from Petersburg, by way of Chesterfield Courthouse, and took command, and on the 15th, extra ammunition was issued and everything made ready for the advance the next day, the 16th [182] of May. We started to our assigned position about 2 o'clock on the morning of the 16th, and marched to where the Richmond and Petersburg River Road crossed a creek (Falling, I believe), which we crossed, and formed line of battle on the right of the road, near the crest of the hill, and lay down. We had been there but a very short time when the Eleventh and Twenty-fourth Virginia Infantry were ordered to the front to relieve Gracie's Brigade, who were being badly cut up. In going forward we met a number of Gracie's men coming out, and they seemed to have been badly worsted. One of them, an officer, said: ‘Hurry up, boys, they are tearing us all to pieces.’ We went forward until we got to the edge of the woods, where we opened ranks to let Gracie's men pass, and as soon as our front was clear of the Alabamians we went to work to give the Yanks the best we had. On account of the very heavy fog and smoke we could not see ten feet in front of us. Mr. Butler's boys made it hot for us for about an hour. They were about ten or fifteen feet above us and knew the ground so well that they had a great advantage, for we did not know the land and were wasting lead in the ground, thinking we were on a level.

Colonel Terry, finding that their line was weak on their right, ordered the First and Seventh forward. We charged them, doubled them up, and came sweeping up the line. As we were only about thirty steps from the enemy's line, we could plainly hear the enemy yelling out to ‘stop shooting, that they were friends,’ but they soon found that the boys in gray had them, and right then and there Buck Terry's boys captured Heckman's Brigade.

Colonel Maury was in command of the Twenty-fourth Virginia in that fight, and he and the gallant Richmond boys of the old First Virginia, I think, will corroborate my statement. I do not know what became of the Alabamians, but suppose they were somewhere on the line doing their duty and fighting as Alabamians know how and always did. But they did not capture Heckman's Brigade. Terry's Brigade did that—the First, Seventh, Eleventh and Twenty-fourth Virginia—and on the 17th marched through Richmond with all four of the regimental colors of Heckman's Brigade drooping beneath our glorious Southern Cross. [183]

I very much regret the necessity of having to write this article, but I think it the duty of every one, especially the old soldiers, to correct all errors in statements that might prevent a true history of the part taken by the Southern soldiers being written. I believe we all tried to do our duty, and earned honor and glory enough by acts actually performed, without claiming honors that were earned by others.

J. U. Sumpter, Company G, Eleventh Virginia Infantry. Christiansburg, Va., June 30, 1904.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Heckman (5)
Gracie (4)
William R. Terry (2)
Buck Terry (2)
Stansel (2)
Marion Seay (2)
J. U. Sumpter (1)
Richmond (1)
Dabney Maury (1)
Kemper (1)
Jacob Hoke (1)
Butler (1)
Bragg (1)
Beauregard (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 16th, 1864 AD (2)
December, 1904 AD (1)
June 30th, 1904 AD (1)
May 14th (1)
May 8th (1)
May 7th (1)
May (1)
16th (1)
15th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: