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Title: Reminiscences of a Rebel
Author: Dunaway, Wayland Fuller, 1841-1916
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Publisher's logo]



Formerly Captain of Co. I, 40th Va. Regt.,
Army of Northern Virginia

                                   "_Omnibus hostes
     Reddite nos populis--civile avertite bellum._"

[Illustration: logo]


Copyright, 1913, by


Notwithstanding the title of this volume, I do not admit that I was ever
in any true sense a rebel, neither do I intend any disrespect when I
call the Northern soldiers Yankees. The use of these terms is only a
concession to the appellations that were customary during the war.

It is my purpose to record some recollections of the Civil War, and
incidentally to furnish some historical notices of the brigade to which
I was attached. Here and there I have expressed, also, some opinions
concerning the great events of that dreadful period, some criticisms of
the conduct of battles and retreats, and some estimates of the abilities
of prominent generals.

The incentive to write is of a complex nature. There is a pleasure,
especially to the aged, in reviving the memories of the past and
narrating them to attentive hearers. Moreover, I hope that this book
will furnish instruction to those who have grown up since the war, and
entertainment to older persons who participated in its struggles,
privations, and sorrows. And besides, the future historian of that
gigantic conflict may perhaps find here some original contribution to
the accumulating material upon which he must draw. He will need the
humble narratives of inconspicuous participants as well as the
pretentious attempts of the partial historians who have preceded him.
The river flows into the sea, but the river itself is supplied by creeks
and rivulets and springs.

                                                             W. F. D.



     "Lay down the axe; fling by the spade;
        Leave in its track the toiling plow;
     The rifle and the bayonet-blade
        For arms like yours were fitter now;
     And let the hands that ply the pen
        Quit the light task, and learn to wield
     The horseman's crooked brand, and rein
        The charger on the battle field."

In the fall of the year 1860, when I was in my nineteenth year, I
boarded the steamboat _Virginia_,--the only one then running on the
Rappahannock river,--and went to Fredericksburg on my way to the
University of Virginia. It was my expectation to spend two sessions in
the classes of the professors of law, John B. Minor and James P.
Holcombe, and then, having been graduated, to follow that profession in
Lancaster, my native county.

The political sky had assumed a threatening aspect. The minds of the
Southern people had been inflamed by the insurrectionary raid of John
Brown upon Harper's Ferry, especially because it had been approved by
some Northern officials, and because the surrender of some fugitives
from justice, who had taken part in that murderous adventure, had been
refused by Ohio and Iowa. The election of Abraham Lincoln added fuel to
the flame. Having been nominated by the Republican party, he was
constitutionally chosen President of the United States, although he had
not received a majority of the popular vote. The election was ominous,
because it was sectional, Mr. Lincoln having carried all the Northern
states but not one of the Southern. The intensest excitement prevailed,
while passion blew the gale and held the rudder too.

While I believed in the right of secession I deprecated the exercise of
that right, because I loved the Union and the flag under which my
ancestors had enjoyed the blessings of civil and religious liberty. I
did not think that Lincoln's election was a sufficient cause for
dissolving the Union, for he had announced no evil designs concerning
Southern institutions; and, even if he had, he was powerless to put them
into execution. He could have done nothing without the consent of
Congress, and his party was in a minority both in the Senate and in the
House of Representatives.

Before Christmas South Carolina, not caring for consequences and blind
to the horrible future, passed an ordinance of secession; and her
example was followed in quick succession by Mississippi, Florida,
Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. These seven states organized the
Southern Confederacy, of which Jefferson Davis was inaugurated
President, February 18, 1861. In April Fort Sumter was captured, and on
the 15th of that month President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling
on the remaining states to furnish their quotas of an army of
seventy-five thousand soldiers for the purpose of destroying the
Confederate government. Two days later the Virginia convention passed an
ordinance of secession. Being compelled to take sides, the Old Dominion
naturally cast her lot with her Southern sisters. War had
begun,--intestine war, of whose magnitude and duration no living man had
any adequate conception.

These events conspired with other causes to infuse in me a martial
spirit. The conviction was growing in me that, as my native state was
about to be invaded, I must have a place in the ranks of her defenders.
I was influenced by speeches delivered by Governor Floyd, Professor
Holcombe, and Dr. Bledsoe, and still more by the contagious example of
my roommate, William H. Chapman, who had gone with a company of students
to Harper's Ferry, and had returned. What brought the conviction to a
head was a flag. One morning in the latter part of April, as I was
walking from my boarding-house to the University I saw a Confederate
banner floating above the rotunda. Some of the students during the
night, surmounting difficulty and braving danger, had clambered to the
summit and erected there the symbol of a new nation. I was thrilled by
the sight of it as if by an electric shock. There it was, outstretched
by a bracing northwest wind, flapping defiantly, arousing patriotic
emotion. Unable longer to refrain, I went as soon as the lecture was
concluded to Professor Minor's residence and told him I was going to
enter the military service of Virginia. He sought to dissuade me, but,
perceiving that he could not alter my rash decision, he gave at my
request a written permission to leave his classes.

But how to get home?--that had become a perplexing question. I could not
go the way I had come, because the _Virginia_ fearful of capture had
ceased to make trips from Fredericksburg to Lancaster, and there was no
railroad to that part of the state. Knowing that my uncle, Addison Hall,
was a member of the Convention, I determined to take a train to
Richmond and seek his advice. I felt relieved when he informed me that
he was going the next morning, and that I could go along with him. We
took an early train to West Point, and being ferried across the
Mattaponi river, obtained from one of his friends a conveyance to
Urbanna. We hired a sloop to take us to Carter's creek, and thence we
proceeded in a farm wagon to his home in the village of Kilmarnock. The
next morning he sent me to the home of the Rev. Dr. Thomas S. Dunaway,
my brother, and my guardian.

In a few days I enlisted in a company that was being raised by Captain
Samuel P. Gresham, who had been a student at the Virginia Military
Institute. And thus the student's gown was exchanged for the soldier's

Before we were regularly mustered into service an expedition was
undertaken that indicated at once the forwardness of our people to
engage the enemy and their ignorance of military affairs. The report
having been circulated that a Federal gunboat was lying in Mill Creek
in Northumberland county, its capture, or destruction, was resolved upon
by about a hundred men, who had assembled at the county seat of
Lancaster. With no weapons except an old smooth-bore six-pound cannon,
and that loaded with scrap iron gathered from a blacksmith's shop, we
proceeded to Mill Creek and unlimbered on the bank in plain view of the
boat, and distant from it some two or three hundred yards. I have always
been glad that we had sense enough to refrain from shooting, for
otherwise most of us would have been killed then and there. Seeing the
hopelessness of an unequal combat, we retired from the scene somewhat
wiser than when we went. In that instance was not "discretion the better
part of valor"?


     War, war is still the cry, "War to the knife."

There was in the central part of the county a beautiful grove in which
the Methodists were accustomed to hold their annual camp-meetings. On
account of its location and the shelter afforded by its tents it was in
1861 transformed into a rendezvous of a radically different nature, the
military companies that had been raised in the county assembling there
preparatory to going into the army. It was there that Captain Gresham's
company, known as the Lacy Rifles, was formally enrolled by Col. R. A.
Claybrook and Dr. James Simmonds. When they came to where I stood in the
line of men they declined to enlist me because I appeared pale and weak
on account of recent sickness. I said, "Do as you like, gentlemen, but I
am going with the boys anyhow." "If you talk like that," they replied,
"we will insert your name."

Not many days afterward the company assembled at the court-house, and,
having sworn allegiance to the Southern Confederacy, was duly mustered
into its service. In vehicles of all sorts we drove to Monaskon wharf,
where the schooner _Extra_ was moored to receive us and to convey us up
the Rappahannock river. As the vessel glided along what a jolly set we
were!--gay as larks, merry as crickets, playful as kittens. There was
singing, dancing, feasting on the palatable provisions supplied by the
loving friends we were leaving, with no thought of captivity, wounds,
nor death. Ignorant of war, we were advancing toward its devouring jaws
with such conduct as became an excursion of pleasure. The only arms we
then possessed were two-edged daggers made of rasps in blacksmith shops,
and with these we were going to hew our way to victory through the
serried ranks of the invading army! Ah, well! we knew better what war
was after we had become the seasoned veterans of many campaigns.

When the vessel had proceeded up the river as far as Fort Lowry it
rounded to, because a solid shot ricochetted before the bow, and we were
transferred to the steamboat _Virginia_, which carried us to
Fredericksburg. Passing along the streets, attracting attention by our
neat gray uniforms, we marched out to the fair-grounds, and rejoiced to
obtain the friendly shelter of the cattle stalls. They were not as
comfortable as the chambers of our homes--but what of it? Were we not
soldiers now? It is wonderful and blessed how human nature can
accommodate itself to altered environments.

We were supplied with smoothbore, muzzle-loading, Springfield muskets,
small leather boxes for percussion caps, and larger ones for cartridges.
For the information of the present generation let it be explained that
the cartridge was made of tough paper containing powder in one end and
the ounce ball of lead in the other; and the manner of loading was
this: the soldier tore off with his teeth the end, poured the powder
into the muzzle, and then rammed down the ball; this being done, a cap
was placed on the nipple of the breech, and the gun was ready to be
fired. That musket is antiquated now, but it did much execution in
former days.

Maj. J. H. Lacy, for whom the company was named, presented an elegant
silk banner, which at Captain Gresham's request I received in the best
language at my command. It was never borne in battle, for it was not
companies but regiments that carried banners. There was but one flag to
a regiment, and that was always carried in the center. Twice a day there
was a course of drilling in tactical evolutions and in the handling of
the muskets. At first I was hardly strong enough to sustain the fatigue,
but I rapidly grew stronger under the combined influence of exercise,
sleeping in the open air, and the excitement of a military life. The war
did me harm in many ways, but it was the means of increasing my capacity
for bodily exertion. During the encampment at Fredericksburg many of my
spare moments were spent in reading the New Testament and Pollok's
"Course of Time."

We did not long remain in Fredericksburg; but being transported on cars
to Brooke Station we marched up to camp Chappawamsic, near a Baptist
church of that name. There the Lacy Rifles became Company F in the 47th
regiment of Virginia Volunteers, commanded by Col. G. W. Richardson of
Henrico county, who had been a member of the Virginia Convention that
passed the ordinance of secession. He was a brave and patriotic
gentleman, but unskilled in military affairs; and he did not long retain
the command.

From the summer of 1861 until the spring of 1862 we spent the time in
company and regimental drill, and in picketing the shore of the Potomac
river day and night, lest the enemy should effect a landing and take us
unaware. During that time no shots were exchanged with the enemy,
because no landing was attempted. The only fighting that we saw was at
Dumfries where there was a Confederate fort, to which we marched to act
as a support in case the Yankees came ashore. Three vessels of the
Federal navy passed slowly down the river, between which and the fort
there was a brief but lively cannonade; but so far as I know there was
no resulting damage to either side.

On Sunday, July 21, we heard the booming of the cannon at Bull Run,
lamenting that we had no part in the battle. When we afterward heard how
McDowell's army skedaddled back to Washington more rapidly than they
came, we thought that the war would end without our firing a gun. So
little did we understand the firmness of President Lincoln's mind and
the settled purpose of the North!

The winter was spent in comparative comfort, for we moved out of tents
into cabins built of pine logs, each one having a wide arch and a
chimney. At Christmas some good things were sent to me, among which was
a dressed turkey, which I did not know how to prepare for the table, for
even if I had possessed some knowledge of the culinary art there was no
suitable oven. Fortunately a comrade by the name of John Cook,--an
appropriate name for that occasion,--came to my relief and solved the
problem in a most satisfactory manner. The bird was suspended by a
string before the open fire, and being continually turned right and
left, and basted with grease from a plate beneath, it was beautifully
browned and cooked to a turn.


     Drummer, strike up, and let us march away.
                            --SHAKESPEARE'S _Henry VI_.

In the spring of 1862 Gen. George B. McClellan with an army of 120,000
men, thoroughly drilled and lavishly equipped, set out from Washington
to capture Richmond from the north; but he had not proceeded far before
he changed his mind about the line of advance. His forces were
transported to Fortress Monroe with the design of approaching the city
by the way of the peninsula that lies between the York and the James
rivers. The correctness of his judgment was justified by subsequent
campaigns; for the successive attempts of Pope, Burnside, Hooker, and
Grant to take the Confederate capital from the north were all disastrous

In order to check the upward progress of McClellan's army, Gen. Joseph
E. Johnston withdrew his forces from Manassas and the shore of the
Potomac and concentrated them on the Peninsula. The 47th regiment
marched from its winter quarters to Richmond, and was thence transported
down the James to a wharf not far from Yorktown. During our brief stay
in that vicinity, the companies were authorized to elect their officers;
and I, who had been acting as Orderly Sergeant, was chosen Third

As the National army advanced, the Confederates fell back toward
Richmond. Our regiment was not in the engagement that took place near
Williamsburg on the 5th of May, but I saw then for the first time some
wounded men and prisoners. The retreat was conducted somewhat rapidly,
but in an orderly and skilful manner. I do not remember that we marched
in darkness but once, and then we trudged all night long through
shoe-deep mud. At times when the men in front encountered an unusually
bad place those who were behind were compelled to come to a temporary
halt. If I did not sleep while walking along I came as near to it as
weary mortal ever did, and I am sure that I dozed while standing still.

General Johnston posted his army between Richmond and the Chickahominy
river, the 47th regiment being on the left, not far from Meadow bridge,
and in the pestilential low-grounds of that sluggish stream. Swarms of
mosquitoes attacked us at night and with their hypodermic proboscides
injected poisonous malaria in our veins, to avoid which the sleeping
soldier covered his head with a blanket. The complexion of the men
became sallow, and every day numbers of them were put on the sick-list
by the surgeons.

The 47th regiment, commanded by Col. Robert M. Mayo, and having brigade
connection with some regiments from North Carolina, had its first
experience of real war in the battle of Seven Pines (or Fair Oaks),
which was fought on the 31st of May. On that day General Johnston
attacked the left wing of the Federal army, which had been thrown
across to the southern side of the Chickahominy. To some persons the
declaration may seem surprising, but it was with real pleasure that I
went into the battle. It was the novelty of it, I suppose, that
prevented me from being frightened by exploding shells and rattling
musketry. The dread of these things came afterward when I saw fields
scattered over with the wounded, the dying, and the dead, and among them
some of my dearest friends. In that affair our Lieutenant-Colonel, John
M. Lyell, was seriously wounded, and the regiment sustained a loss of
about fifty men. Our chaplain, Mr. Meredith, of Stafford county, went
into action with us, but while he did not do the like again, it is no
impeachment of his courage. His duty lay in other directions; and it
ought to be recorded in his praise that after every battle he might be
found doing all he could to relieve and comfort the wounded.


     In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
     As modest stillness, and humility;
     But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
     Then imitate the action of the tiger;
     Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.
                               --SHAKESPEARE'S _Henry V_.

After the undecisive battle of Seven Pines the 47th regiment together
with the 40th and the 55th Virginia regiments and the 22nd Virginia
battalion was formed into a brigade, and this combination continued
until the close of the war. It was known as the First Brigade of the
Light Division, which was composed of six brigades, and commanded by
Maj.-Gen. A. P. Hill. Why it was called the Light division I did not
learn; but I know that the name was applicable, for we often marched
without coats, blankets, knapsacks, or any other burdens except our
arms and haversacks, which were never heavy and sometimes empty.

On Thursday, June 26, the memorable but miss-called "battles around
Richmond" began. Being on the left of the army, the First Brigade had
the honor and the danger of being the first to cross the Chickahominy.
Passing over Meadow bridge, we dispersed the enemy's outpost, only one
man being wounded in the passage, and hurried on towards Mechanicsville
and Beaver Dam, where was posted the extreme right of the Federal army.
The contest raged for six hours. We failed to dislodge the enemy from
its naturally strong and well-fortified position across Beaver Dam
creek, and our loss was heavy,--heavier in some other brigades than in
ours. The following morning, discovering that our antagonists had
withdrawn, we crossed over Beaver Dam in pursuit.

McClellan had decided to retreat! He called it a change of base; but if
a change of base from the York to the James river was good strategy,
why did he not do it before he was attacked? It looks very much as if he
gave "a reason upon compulsion." It must be conceded that he managed the
retreat with admirable ability, although, while inflicting severe
punishment upon Lee's army, it involved the loss of 10,000 prisoners, 52
pieces of artillery and 35,000 stand of small arms, besides immense
stores of ammunition and provisions. But why retreat? Was it for this
that he had led to the gates of Richmond a grand army of brave and
disciplined men, at an enormous cost to his government? Having many
qualities of a great commander, he lacked the _gaudium certaminis_ and
the daring that assumes the hazard of defeat. In war the adage holds
good with emphasis: "Nothing venture, nothing gain." The celebrated
generals of all times, confiding in their own skill and the bravery of
their soldiers, have been bold even to the degree of seeming rashness.
Such was the spirit and conduct of Lee when with half the numbers he
assaulted Hooker, and afterward Grant, in the Wilderness.

McClellan's army being astraddle the Chickahominy, two courses of action
were open to him when he was attacked.

He might have concentrated on the north side of the river, leaving a
sufficient force to guard the bridges in his rear, and then assumed a
strong defensive position. Having abandoned Beaver Dam he withdrew to
Gaines' Mill,--a place most favorable for defense,--still having 60,000
men in striking distance across the river. If instead of vacating that
position, or suffering a portion of his army to be driven from it, he
had reënforced it by a half of those unoccupied 60,000 men, I do not
believe he could have been dislodged by all the valor and dash of the
Confederate army.

The other line of action that he might have chosen was to concentrate on
the southern side of the river, destroy the bridges, and then crushing
the small army of Magruder, make a quick attack upon Richmond, while
the forces of Lee and Jackson were on the other side. It seems to me
that either course would have been better and nobler than the inglorious
retreat to Harrison's Landing. It appeared that Lee was gaining victory
after victory; but until the battle of Malvern Hill he was fighting only
portions of McClellan's forces. In that engagement alone did the Union
army contend with its undivided strength, and there it gained a victory.
If it could hold its ground there after having suffered many losses,
could it not much better have repulsed the Confederates at Gaines' Mill?

When the First Brigade advanced to the charge at Gaines' Mill, on the
27th of June, it emerged out of a wood into a large field, which
declined toward a ravine through which a stream of water ran, and on the
other side of which the ground rose somewhat precipitously to a
considerable altitude. It had been wisely chosen for defense, and the
opposite high ground was lined with infantry and crowned with
batteries. As it was impossible to dislodge the enemy until some
diversion should be created on one of his flanks, our men lay prone upon
the ground, while bullets and shells hurtled among us and above us. At
length seeing a brigade on our left rapidly advancing where the enemy's
position was less formidable, we rose up and, with the inspiring "rebel
yell," ran down the slope, crossed the little creek, clambered up the
hill, and poured a volley into the retiring Yankees, some of whom were
Duryea's Zouaves with their flaming uniforms. It was then that we more
than repaid them for the loss they had inflicted upon us. On that day
there fell some of my dearest friends, among whom was St. John F. Moody,
who for three years had been my teacher, and afterward became my beloved
companion. So patriotic and brave was he that if "_Dulce et decorum est
pro patria mori_" ever was true of any hero it was of him.

The next battle in which the brigade took part was that of Frazier's
Farm, three days later. As we entered a field we saw before us a
battery (which I believe was Randell's) supported by a firm line of
infantry. In Wilson's history of the war he says: "One of the most
brilliant charges of the day was made by the 55th and the 60th
Virginia." The correct statement is that it was made by our brigade
composed, as has been said, of the 40th, the 47th, the 55th, and the 22d
Virginia. We rushed across the field, drove away the opposing infantry,
and captured the battery. One of the gunners lying on the ground badly
wounded jerked the lanyard of a loaded cannon just as we had almost
reached the battery. Happily for us the discharge flew over our heads.
He knew that he was in our power, for all his comrades were fleeing
away, and he had no right to fire upon us. The deed was more like
vengeful murder than honorable war; however, we did him no harm, for
though his spirit was spiteful his pluck was commendable.

It was late in the afternoon; and as we stood in line by the captured
guns, ready to receive an expected countercharge, a lone horseman
approached who proved to be Major-General McCall, who in the fading
twilight had mistaken us for his own men. Hearing numerous cries to halt
and seeing many muskets leveled at him, he dismounted and led his horse
to where we stood. Being conducted before Colonel Mayo, he said, "For
God's sake, Colonel, don't let your men do me any harm." Colonel Mayo
was so indignant at the implied accusation that he used some cuss words,
and asked him whether he thought we were a set of barbarians. If he had
been captured in battle, I should have been glad; but, as it was, I felt
sorry for him, and if I could have had the disposal of him I would have
paroled him and turned him loose.

The First Brigade did not again come under fire until we reached Malvern
Hill, the 1st of July. There McClellan had skilfully stationed his
entire army, and all the valorous efforts of Lee's army to storm the
position were unavailing. One of our men addressed a North Carolina
regiment as "Tarheels" and received for answer, "If you had had some
tar on your heels, you would have stuck to that battery better than you

McClellan, having for six days acted on the defensive, and in the last
engagement having been virtually victorious, had an opportunity to
assume the offensive; for in war as in the game of chess an unsuccessful
attack invites defeat. On the 2d of July, if he had inspirited his
regiments with the cry of "On to Richmond" and attacked the Confederates
unprepared for so surprising a reversal, who can tell what might have
been the result? Was it not worth the trial? And if he had failed, could
he not then have fallen back to the cover of the gunboats? But he was
bent on going to Harrison's Landing, and thither his army retreated all
night over a muddy road. Thus ended the second attempt to capture the
Confederate capital.


     When Greeks joined Greeks, then was the tug of war.
                                       --NATHANIEL LEE.

After the battle of Malvern Hill the First Brigade had a brief and
enjoyable respite from marching and fighting, while it bivouacked in the
pine forest near Savage Station.

Gen. John Pope, with his "headquarters in the saddle," set out from
Washington with a numerous force to capture Richmond, and was reënforced
by the remains of McClellan's army that had been transported from
Harrison's Landing to Acquia creek. Jackson's corps, of which Hill's
Light Division was an important part, was dispatched to watch his
movements and to check his progress. From the flat lands of the James
and the Chickahominy we marched to the hill country, and for a few days
remained near Orange Court House. On the 9th of August we forded the
Rapidan in search of the enemy. A suffocating cloud of dust enveloped
our toiling host, and so intense was the heat that a few of the men fell
sunstruck in the road. During this march, as also on similar occasions,
I saw packs of cards scattered along the highway; for though the soldier
might play them for money or amusement when there was no prospect of an
engagement, he did not relish the thought of their being found upon him
if he should be killed. In the afternoon we encountered a portion of the
National army under the command of General Banks and fought the battle
of Cedar Run, in which our people were victorious. That night the
hostile lines were so close that we could hear the Yankees talking, but
could not distinguish the words. When daylight came they were far away.

Toward the latter part of the month Pope's army occupied a position near
Warrenton in Fauquier county, while across the North Fork of the
Rappahannock river he was confronted by Lee's united army in Culpeper.

To cross the river and force the Federal position by a front attack was
plainly impracticable; but in some way the Yankees must be removed and
compelled to fight on something like equal terms. The plan was formed
that Jackson with his corps should by a forced circuitous march obtain
the enemy's rear and thus, cutting the line of his communication, compel
him to retire from his advantageous location, and that Lee with
Longstreet's corp should rejoin Jackson and bring on an engagement with
his entire army. To some military critics this division of the army in
the face of an unchastised antagonist might seem to contradict the rules
of sound strategy, but in the fertile minds of Lee and Jackson it was
the dictate of consummate genius. Such a division occurred in Maryland,
just before the battle of Sharpsburg, and again at Chancellorsville the
following year, and each time it was advantageous to the Confederate
arms. These two men had the utmost confidence in each other, and either
felt safe while the other was making an independent movement. In the
course of the years that have elapsed since the termination of the war I
have frequently been asked, "Which was the greater general, Lee or
Jackson?" After pondering this question for forty-five years I am yet
unable to decide; and that reminds me of Abe Lincoln and the hats. When
he became President, two enterprising merchants in Washington, desiring
to secure his custom, each presented him with an elegant silk hat, and
it so happened that they called at the same time to learn his opinion of
their gifts. "Gentlemen," said Mr. Lincoln, "these hats mutually excel
each other."

On Tuesday, the 26th of August, the march of Jackson's corps began,
every step of the onward way bringing us nearer to the Blue Ridge where
it borders the county of Rappahannock, and causing us to guess that
through some gap of the mountain we were going into the valley. We did
not know what Old Jack, (as he was familiarly and affectionately
called,) was up to, but it did not matter what was the objective,--so
implicit was the confidence reposed in his military judgment. Passing
out of Rappahannock and skirting the base of the Blue Ridge, we rested
for the night at Salem, in Fauquier, a station of the Manassas Gap
Railroad, the name of which has since been changed to Marshall. Betimes
the next morning we were hurrying eastward through Thoroughfare Gap of
Bull Run Mountain, and late in the evening we arrived at Manassas
Junction,--between Pope's army and Washington. I had read that walking
was an excellent form of exercise because it brought into play every
muscle of the body, and having walked nearly sixty miles in two days I
was convinced that the reason assigned was valid, for the muscles of my
arms and neck were almost as sore as were those of my legs. The making
of long marches unexpectedly and quickly was one of the secrets of
Jackson's success. It may be supposed by the uninitiated that after such
fatigue the soldier is not in good condition for fighting; but the
sense of weariness is lost when the excitement of battle begins.

The few Federal regiments on guard at the Junction were quickly
dispersed, and trains of cars loaded with all sorts of army supplies
were burned. A large building filled with commissary stores was also
burned, but not before our empty haversacks had been replenished. By the
light of the fires we supped plentifully on potatoes and beef and then
lay down upon the ground, not to pleasant dreams, but to dreamless

On the 28th our brigade with some others went toward Centerville, in
Fairfax county, and thence turning away came back into Prince William
and took position on a part of the ground whereon the first battle of
Manassas had been fought. Ewell's division, which had been left behind
to befog Pope's mind and retard his movements, joined us and completed
the defensive line of Jackson's entire corps.

The next day the Federal army began to press us vigorously, but the
numerous attacks made upon us were repelled and followed by counter
charges. Our Brigadier-General, Field, was wounded badly, and Company F
lost some men, among whom was Lieutenant James Ball, who in the absence
of Capt. William Brown was in command. By his death the control of the
company was devolved upon me.

Let me here relate an incident to show that between individuals of the
opposing hosts there was no animosity. During a lull in the battle I
left the regiment and circumspectly proceeded forward to reconnoiter. I
found in a wood a Yankee captain dangerously wounded, a fine-looking man
and handsomely dressed. In reply to the question whether I could do
anything for him he asked for water, and I, kneeling down, held my
canteen to his lips, for which kindness he made grateful
acknowledgments. "And now," said I, "there is something you can do for
me: you can give me your sword, but I will not take it unless you part
with it freely." He replied that I was welcome to it, for he would never
need it again. After I had taken it he said: "You had better retire,
because our men will soon be here again." He was thirsty, and I gave him
drink; I was in danger, and he gave me friendly warning.

That sword had an unfortunate history: its beautiful scabbard, belt, and
shoulder strap were ruined when my tent was burned the next winter; its
hilt was shot off at Chancellorsville, and the naked blade was thrown
away on that ensanguined field.

I returned to where the regiment was standing prepared to receive
another attack, which, however, was not made that day. When we were
ordered to fall back to our first position, I caused to be brought with
us the bodies of Lieutenant Ball and his most intimate friend, Mordecai
Lawson, who, like him, had been shot in the forehead. With bayonets and
hands a grave was dug, in which we laid them side by side, and spreading
over them a soldier's blanket, we heaped above them the turf and clods.
In neither army could there have been found two braver men. Boon
companions in life, in death they were not divided.

The next day, Saturday the 30th, witnessed the grand struggle that has
become famous in history as the Second Battle of Manassas. After a
separation of four days Longstreet's corps had come up and formed on
Jackson's right, and General Pope was compelled either to retreat or
fight on ground so skilfully selected by General Lee. The line of battle
was nearly parallel with Bull Run, whereas in the first battle it was
perpendicular to it.

There was between the two armies a bed that had been graded for a
railroad, but upon which no rails have ever been laid. It was the
fortune of the First Brigade to fight on Friday over a shallow cut, and
on Saturday over the deepest of all. Our line being formed in an oak
forest and ordered to charge, we rushed from the wood into a large field
across which the cut had been dug, not knowing it was there until we
came close to it. The Federal soldiers on the other side made but feeble
resistance, because they had already been hotly engaged with a brigade
composed of the 60th Virginia and some regiments from Louisiana. That
brigade was down in the cut, having exhausted their ammunition, and it
would have been captured but for our timely arrival, which filled them
with rejoicing. In that charge the saber was knocked from my uplifted
hand, and falling it stuck in the ground some paces behind me.

The brigade did not cross the cut, but a few of the men clambered over
and I among them. There was a cannon over there which they pulled back
with all the hilarity of college students, some riding astraddle the
piece, cheering, and waving their caps.

We had no sooner recrossed the cut and regained our places in the line
than the grand spectacle of dense columns of Pope's army coming to the
assault was witnessed. In perfect array, they kept step as if on dress
parade, and bore their banners proudly. I looked for a terrific shock,
but before they came to close quarters with us, the Confederate
artillery, massed on high ground behind us, opened upon their closed
ranks, and wrought such fearful destruction as, I believe, was not
dealt in any other battle of the entire war. Shells burst among them so
thick and fast that in a few minutes the field was literally strewn with
the killed and wounded. They halted, they turned, they fled; and Lee's
whole army assuming the offensive, rushed forward and won the battle.

General Pope was going to hoist the Stars and Stripes above the capitol
in Richmond, but he came no nearer to the city than Cedar Run. His men
were brave, but from first to last he was mystified by Lee's superior
strategy. A prisoner said to me, "If we had your Jackson, we would soon
whip you." And I will express the opinion that if the Army of the
Potomac had been commanded by generals who were the equals of Lee and
Jackson the Southern Confederacy would have collapsed before April,
1865; and sooner still if Lee and Jackson had led the Northern armies,
while the Confederates were marshaled by leaders of Pope's caliber.


                       'Tis the soldiers' life
     To have their balmy slumbers waked with strife.
                                --SHAKESPEARE'S _Othello_.

Our next encounter with the Yankees occurred on the first day of
September at a place called Ox Hill, near Chantilly on the Little River
turnpike, in which they sustained a heavy loss in the death of General
Philip Kearney, one of their best and bravest commanders. Inasmuch as
the action took place during a thunderstorm its awful impressiveness was
increased, and it was difficult to distinguish between the
reverberations of the heavens and the detonations of the mimicking
artillery, sometimes alternating and sometimes simultaneous.

That night, when all was still and darkness had settled upon the field
where lay the victims of war, a soldier of the 40th regiment, an
intrepid Irishman, George Cornwell by name, went out prowling for food
and plunder, taking his musket with him. Unexpectedly meeting a Federal
lieutenant and four men bearing a stretcher and searching for their
wounded captain, he was asked to what regiment he belonged. With ready
wit he named a New York regiment, and then learning their business and
finding that they were unarmed, he leveled his musket, demanded their
surrender, and brought them as prisoners within our lines. I myself did
a little searching until I found a full haversack strapped to a man who
would never use his teeth again. I was hungry, and chilled by the recent
rain. I found in the haversack crackers and ground coffee mixed with
sugar; and bringing into requisition my matches, tin cup, and canteen of
water (which three things I was always careful to have about me), I soon
had a pint of steaming beverage. I ate my supper, and then laid down to
sleep. This was only one of many times that I slept in wet garments on
the rain-soaked lap of earth without injury to my health; and the only
reason I can give for the immunity is, that those were "War times."

The National army returned to Washington, and together with all the
forces in and around that city was again put under the command of
General McClellan.

From Chantilly we marched to the vicinity of Leesburg and went into camp
near a beautiful spring, several feet deep, which was in a large square
walled up with brick. The next day we came to the Potomac river, which
was then about four feet deep, with its bottom covered with rounded
stones of many sizes. We were not so favored as Joshua's host at the
Jordan, but we just walked from shore to shore as if there were no water
there. Beautiful was the scene. As I approached the river I beheld those
who had crossed ascending the hill on the farther shore; in the water a
double line of soldiers stretching from side to side, their guns held
high above the current and gilded by the beams of the westering sun; and
others behind them going down the declivity of the Virginia shore.
There came unbidden to my mind some lines of one of Charles Wesley's

     One army of the living God,
       To his command we bow;
     Part of the host have crossed the flood,
       And part are crossing now.
     E'en now to their eternal home
       Some happy spirits fly;
     And we are to the margin come,
       And soon expect to die.

From Bunyan's time onward, and I know not how long before, a river has
been the Christian symbol of death.

There was some expectation that when we came into Maryland many of her
sons would rally to our banners, according to the prediction of a
well-known song:

     "She breathes, she burns, she'll come, she'll come,
                Maryland, my Maryland;"

but the cold fact is, she did not come; and in the light of subsequent
events, it is well that she did not.

From the Potomac the march was continued to the Monocacy river, near
Frederick City. During our brief sojourn there we bought goods in the
stores and paid for them in Confederate money, although, no doubt, the
merchants would have preferred greenbacks or specie; and so far as I
know nothing was taken without that remuneration.

Again Lee's army was divided, Jackson's corps being detached and sent
forward for the purpose of capturing Harper's Ferry. For three days
during the westward march in Maryland no rations were issued, and our
only food was ears of green corn roasted or boiled without salt. These
served for supper and breakfast, but we had nothing for dinner, for if
when we started in the morning we put the cooked corn in the haversacks
it soured under the hot rays of the sun, and time was too precious to
allow a halt for cooking a fresh supply at noon.

Fording the Potomac again, we passed out of Maryland into Virginia at
Williamsport and proceeded rapidly to Harper's Ferry. The Federal force
occupying a very high hill which had been fortified by abattis and
entrenchments, any attempt to storm it would have inflicted terrible
loss upon the attacking party. With much difficulty our cannon had been
placed on the Maryland Heights, on the Loudoun Heights, and on other
eminences that overlooked the enemy's position; and when all was ready
the order was given to the infantry to begin the assault. When we came
to the foot of the little mountain occupied by the Yankees we discovered
that trees had been cut so as to fall downward, and that their
interlacing limbs had been trimmed and sharpened to a point. To advance
upward through these innumerable spikes appeared impossible;
nevertheless we began the ascent at the same time that our artillery on
the mountains opened fire. The enemy, seeing our advance and being torn
by plunging shots and shells from so many enfilading directions, were
persuaded to surrender. As we were slowly struggling upward I looked and
with a joyful feeling of relief saw the white flag flying, and a large
one it was. This was on Monday, the 15th of September. So well was this
affair planned by Jackson that without the loss of a man we captured
11,000 prisoners, 13,000 stand of small arms, and 73 pieces of

Having performed what was necessary to secure the fruits of this
remarkable achievement, it was of the utmost importance that we should
hurry away to reënforce Longstreet's corps, which was confronted by the
northern army at Sharpsburg. Passing through Shepherdstown we waded the
Potomac the third time. Our brigade did not reach the battle field until
the evening of the 17th, when the most of the severe fighting of the day
had ended. It was a drawn battle with very heavy losses on both sides.
On the 18th the opposing hosts confronted each other without coming to
blows. Did not McClellan blunder again? Having a much greater army, a
part of which had not been engaged, ought he not to have renewed the
battle in the attempt to crush the Confederates and drive them into the
river? When he awoke on the 19th Lee's army was on the Virginia side.


     The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
     The morn the marshalling in arms, the day
     Battle's magnificently-stern array.

On the 20th of September McClellan sent one of his divisions over into
Virginia, with the purpose, I suppose, of making a reconnoissance in
force. It was attacked by the Light Division and driven back to the
Maryland side of the river, not a few of the men perishing in the water.
On that occasion the 47th passed within a few paces of a Yankee regiment
standing in line in a field and displaying their national banner. Not a
musket was fired by either party; for they, being cut off from the
river, were doomed to captivity, and we were going at double-quick
against another force. When the engagement had ended and we were
marching away, a solid shot from beyond the river ricochetted along our
line and in unpleasant proximity to it. Though much of its force was
spent, yet if it had struck our line it had sufficient momentum to have
destroyed many lives. Here was a close call, which differed from many
another in that the bounding ball was visible.

The Maryland campaign being over, Jackson's corps retired to Bunker Hill
between Winchester and Martinsburg, and there we had for more than two
months an unusual season of rest and recuperation. I remember one day of
special enjoyment. Obeying an order, I took a squad of men some seven or
eight miles along the turnpike in the direction of Martinsburg to keep a
lookout for the approach of the enemy. We halted where there was a grove
on one side of the road and a dwelling-house on the other. We purchased
a shoat from the matron of that domicile, who made us a stew that would
have done credit to the Maypole Inn. After dinner,--the only meal worthy
of that name that I had enjoyed for many months,--I took a musket, and
leaving the men a short distance behind, took a stand in the middle of
the road. No Yankee came in sight, but while I was there silently
waiting and watching two large, beautiful wild turkeys walked with
stately step across the road in easy range. Was I tempted to shoot? Yes.
Did I do it? No; for I was particularly instructed that on no account
must a gun be fired except on the enemy's approach. The report would
have been repeated by squads in my rear, the camp would have been
falsely alarmed, and I would have been justly court-martialed.

The Army of the Potomac, 100,000 strong and commanded by General
Burnside, once more took up the slogan,--"On to Richmond,"--but that was
more easily said than done. Before it reached the northern bank of the
Rappahannock river, opposite Fredericksburg, the ever-watchful Lee,
having left the valley, had occupied the heights on the other side.
Jackson's corps by rapid marches arrived at Fredericksburg on the 11th
of December, none too soon for the impending conflict, and took
position on Longstreet's right. Nearly five miles from the town our
brigade formed the extreme right of the Southern Army, which was an
assignment of honor; and the 47th held the right of the brigade. The
other brigades of Hill's Light Division formed on our left, Gregg's next
to ours, and between the two on higher ground twenty pieces of artillery
looked out across the field. Lee's army had the advantage of position,
and had the rare pleasure of fighting on the defensive. It occupied the
high ground that borders the river flat, and which is close to the town,
but, as it continues, recedes from the river, leaving an ever widening
plain. On the morning of the memorable 13th that plain resounded to the
martial tread of Burnside's army.

Before the battle began General Lee, inspecting the disposition of his
forces all along the line, rode up to where we stood, and dismounting
from Traveller, handed the bridle-rein to an orderly. This was the first
time that I saw him, and his appearance made an indelible impression
upon my mind. What a noble man he was in form and face as well as in
moral character! While he was examining the outlying field I had a
conversation with the orderly, who spoke of the General's fondness for
his horse.

Having observed that a few men of the Confederate cavalry had brought up
a piece of artillery in front of our right, I obtained permission of
Colonel Mayo and ran forward to join them. Two Federal batteries came
forward in a gallop and in a minute's time unlimbered and began firing
against Hill's division, the twenty guns of which I have spoken giving
them as good as they sent and a little better. The Yankees were so hotly
engaged by the firing in front of them that they paid no attention to
the little cavalry gun upon the flank. The first shot did no execution,
but the next struck a caisson and exploded its contents.

What more was done there I cannot say; for seeing that the Federal
infantry were advancing to the charge, I hastily returned to my position
in the regiment. Our men, lying in a railroad cut about two feet deep,
waited until the Yankees were close upon them, and then rising up poured
such volleys upon them as caused them to retire in confusion; but on our
left Gregg's South Carolina brigade was broken through and he was
killed. Being thereby severed from the rest of the army, we changed
front and took the victorious Yankees in flank, causing them to lose
their advantage and fall back to the railroad which they had crossed.
Then occurred a pretty duel. The blue and the grey lines were about
sixty yards apart and each was loading and firing as rapidly as
possible. The Federal general and his two aides on horseback were urging
their men to charge, as was evident from their gestures; but their men
would not respond.

Being an officer I had no weapons but sword and pistol, but I picked up
the musket of one of our men, who had loaded it but was killed before he
could discharge it, and called on some of our company to shoot down the
horsemen. We took deliberate aim and fired; and down went horses and
riders. "Now," said I, "shoot down the colors." Four times they fell,
only to be quickly raised again. I would not affirm that the little
group about me shot down the horsemen and the flag, for many others were
shooting at the same time; I only know that we calmly did our best in
that direction. After a while the enemy turned and fled; and I was glad,
for they had inflicted on the 47th a loss of fifty men in killed and
wounded. However, their loss greatly exceeded ours. The next day, when a
truce prevailed for burying the dead and caring for the wounded, I was
informed by some of the Union soldiers that the name of that general was
Jackson. He was a brave man, deserving a better fate, and he fell while
nobly performing what he believed was his duty to his country.

It was the general and confident expectation that the battle would be
renewed, and we were, therefore, surprised to discover on the morning of
the 15th that the enemy had during the night recrossed to the northern
side of the river. Their loss in the engagement was three times greater
than ours. Burnside made the mistake of putting forth his greatest
strength where the Confederates were strongest. If he had assailed our
right as fiercely as he did our left, perhaps there might have been a
different result.

In a few days after the battle I was informed by Colonel Mayo that I was
"for gallant and meritorious conduct promoted to be First Lieutenant and
Adjutant of the 47th regiment." I had not thought of trying to make an
exhibition of unusual gallantry among so many intrepid men, but, of
course, the commendation and promotion were highly gratifying.

     "The love of praise, howe'er concealed by art,
     Reigns more or less, and glows in ev'ry heart."

The campaign having come to an end, Lee's army went into winter quarters
at camp Gregg, so named in honor of Brigadier-General Maxcy Gregg who
was killed in the battle of Fredericksburg. It was near Moss Neck, the
large and fertile farm of Mr. Richard Corbin. The Rappahannock river
flowed between the Yankee and the Rebel armies, each picketing its own
side of the stream. By common consent there was no shooting across the
river, but on the other hand there was an occasional exchange of tobacco
and coffee by means of little boats. We could hear them impudently
singing: "O soldiers, won't you meet us." We had met them on fields of
carnage, and expected to meet them again on the return of spring; but
whether we should meet them "On Canaan's happy shore," or in some less
pleasing locality in the eternal world, who could say?

I distinctly remember one night when my turn came to go to the river on
picket duty, and the earth was covered with snow several inches deep.
When my watch was off and the opportunity to sleep was afforded the
question was, where to lie down. I spread on the snow some boughs that I
had cut from a cedar tree and laid a gum cloth upon them. Upon this
pallet I lay down and covering myself head and all with a blanket
enjoyed sweet, refreshing, and healthful sleep. The next morning the
blanket above my head was stiff-frozen with the moisture from my breath.

There was one man that should have been mentioned before this time,--a
negro of my own age, whose name was Charles Wesley. We had grown up on
the farm together, and had played, and boxed, and wrestled without
respect to color. Not as a slave but as a friend he followed me to the
war,--my launderer, my cook, and when I was sick, my nurse. Having
orders to keep himself out of danger, he very willingly remained far in
the rear when a battle was in progress, but when the firing ceased he
faithfully sought me and reported for duty. While writing about Charles,
I may anticipate a little and say that when we were in Pennsylvania I
told him that we were on Yankee soil, and that he had the opportunity of
deserting me and of remaining there as a free man. He replied that he
already knew that, but that he was going to abide with me. And when I
was captured at Falling Waters he had the intelligence and fidelity to
ride my horse home and deliver him to my brother.

It was while we were encamped at Moss Neck that I witnessed a military
execution for the offense of desertion from the 47th regiment. The
criminal was on his knees, blindfolded, with his hands tied behind him
to a stake. A short distance in front of him was the line of twenty men
detailed to do the shooting, and commanded by an officer especially
appointed. No man could tell who did the killing, for the twenty muskets
were handed to them, one-half of them being loaded with blank
cartridges. The rest of the regiment was drawn up, one-half on the
right, and the other on the left. At the word "Fire!" the report of the
guns rang out and the deserter fell forward pierced by balls. Death was
instantaneous. Although the crime was mortal, the scene was painfully


     Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a
     battle won.

I did not serve long as the adjutant of the 47th regiment. In March,
1863, Company I of the 40th regiment, having from one cause or another
lost all its officers, unanimously desired that I should become their
captain, and this desire was approved by Colonel Brockenbrough, who
commanded that regiment, as well as by General Heth, who commanded the
brigade. I was loath to sever connection from the regiment to which I
had been attached since the beginning of the war, but I accepted the new
position, because it was in the line of promotion, and the men of the
company were from my native county and well known to me; moreover, I
would still be in the same brigade with my old comrades of the 47th. My
captain's commission was dated April 30, and was signed by James A.
Seddon, Secretary of War.

When the spring had come General Joseph Hooker, the successor of
unfortunate Burnside, having crossed the Rappahannock river, took up a
strong position at Chancellorsville, with an army numerically twice as
strong as the available Confederate forces, and declared by him to be
"the finest army on the planet." At the same time a powerful detachment
under General Sedgwick crossed the river below Fredericksburg and made
demonstrations of attack upon the Confederate lines. Never was General
Lee confronted by a more perilous situation, and never did his military
genius more brilliantly appear.

In war so much depends upon the commander, that I advance the confident
opinion that if the Confederates had been under the charge of Hooker and
Sedgwick, and Lee and Jackson had had command of the Federal soldiers
above and below Fredericksburg, the Confederate army would have been
destroyed; and the Army of the Potomac would have walked straight into
Richmond. That army would indeed have been "the finest on the planet,"
if the skill and the courage of its commander had equaled its numbers,
its aggressive power, and its opulent equipment.

Hooker had a grand opportunity, but ingloriously failed to use it. He
had conceived a good plan of action, and he successfully executed its
initial movement; but when the decisive hour arrived his resolution
failed. Instead of advancing aggressively on to Fredericksburg, as he
had begun to do, he turned back and fortified his army with
intrenchments. Did he mistrust himself, or his army, or both? His
original scheme contemplated offensive tactics, and all its merit was
sacrificed when he began to erect defensive fortifications.

Let me here briefly describe Chancellorsville and its environments as I
saw them during the battle. There was no village there, but only a large
brick tavern with a few outbuildings, located immediately on the north
side of the road that connects Fredericksburg and Orange. In the rear
it was separated from the forest by a narrow field, while in front and
across the road there was a large space of open land. In the direction
of Orange the road and fields declined to a wooded ravine. On the
slightly elevated land in front of the tavern the Yankees had unlimbered
twenty Napoleon cannon, and along the side of the ravine they had
erected breastworks of logs and earth.

Late in the afternoon of Friday, May 1, our brigade had marched up from
Fredericksburg and halted in striking distance of the Federal army. What
could we expect but that in the morning we should be waging an assault
upon its fortified position? Instead of that Jackson led us with the
rest of his corps around the front of that position until we struck the
road on the Orange side of Chancellorsville. We were now on Hooker's
right flank, having marched quickly and silently fifteen miles over a
rough and unfrequented road. The sun was sinking toward the western
horizon when our lines of attack were formed on both sides of the road
and at right angles to it. Immediately the onslaught began, silent,
rapid, resolute, Heth's brigade being on the north or left side of the
road. We had not proceeded far before we struck Howard's corps all
unsuspecting and unprepared. Their fires were kindled for cooking
supper, and dressed beeves were ready for distribution among the
companies. They fled before us, strewing the ground with muskets,
knapsacks, and other accouterments. Whoever censures them for running
would probably have acted as they did, for our charge was as lightning
from a cloudless sky. On the way we crossed a little farm, and as I
passed the dwelling I saw several ladies who were wildly rejoicing.

When we had come within half a mile of Chancellorsville daylight had
faded into night. The moon had risen, but her rays were rendered
intermittent by scudding clouds. The darkness, the tangled undergrowth
of the forest, and the entrenchments and artillery of the enemy combined
to arrest our progress. Those cannon of which I have spoken shelled the
woods in which we lay, and what a cannonade it was! The trees and bushes
trembled, the air was laden with sulphurous fumes, the very earth seemed
to quake under the impulse of exploding shells. There was, however, more
noise than execution; only one man of my company was struck, and his
broken jaw was bound up by my handkerchief.

From my position on the roadside I saw a few riderless horses running
terror-stricken to the rear. These were, I believe, the animals that
Jackson and his aides had ridden to the front. It is recorded that he
was wounded by some soldiers of the 18th North Carolina regiment who
were in the brigade of General James H. Lane. If this statement were
made on less reliable authority it might be questioned; for I know that
the Yankees were close to our front and that Jackson could not have
ridden far beyond our line without encountering their volley. We did not
hear until next morning that our peerless leader had been shot. Alas!
As when Hector fell the doom of Troy was sealed, so with the death of
Jackson the star of the Southern Confederacy declined.

Late in the night the firing ceased, and the Gray and the Blue lay on
their arms, catching brief snatches of troubled sleep, and abiding the
renewal of hostilities with the coming morning.

On the bright and pleasant Sunday that ensued no chiming bells nor
melodies of sacred music were heard upon that famous field, but only the
cries of antagonistic men and the horrid din of batteries and muskets.
Our brigade being transferred to the right side of the road and drawn up
in line of battle in the forest, it was not long before the renowned
Stonewall brigade passed by us and charged upon the breastworks of the
enemy. It was repulsed with heavy loss, the Yankees having
preponderating advantage of position. Then Pender's intrepid brigade of
North Carolinians had a similar experience. There were no braver
soldiers in the army than the men composing these two defeated brigades.
When, therefore, the command to charge was given to us, could we hope
for a better result? As we advanced a shell struck the ground
immediately before me, exploded and covered me with dirt, but
providentially inflicted no wounds. Onward we rushed with the usual
inspiriting Rebel yell. When we came in sight of those formidable rifle
pits we were delighted to find them abandoned by our foes; and when we
climbed over them and entered the field just beyond them we were no less
glad to discover that those batteries that had so noisily shelled us the
night before had been withdrawn.

There in full view toward our left stood Chancellor's tavern, and the
large field in front was literally filled with Federal soldiers in
perfect array marching northward,--that is, to the rear. The retreat of
Hooker's army had begun; they were not whipped but out-generaled.
Passing across the road by the tavern and entering the forest behind it,
they left not in sight a single blue coat, save that a battery in the
tavern yard was firing upon us. Two Confederate batteries galloped up to
our line, and, unlimbering, opened upon the battery in the yard at close
range. There were in the Southern armies many soldiers in their teens,
but here at one of the guns labored a boy who was, as I guessed from his
size, not more than twelve years old. It was his part to fire the gun by
pulling the lanyard, and as often as he did it he playfully rolled over
backward. "Boys will be boys" even in the peril of battle. In the
meantime Jeb Stuart, temporarily assigned to the command of Jackson's
corps, came riding into the field, and in a spirit not unlike that of
the boy was singing, "Old Joe Hooker, won't you get out the wilderness?"
The Yankee battery withdrew; the battle was ended. The tavern was all
ablaze, having been ignited by one of our shells,--the house that an
hour before had been the headquarters of General Hooker. Our army was
resting along the road in front of the burning building. As General Lee
rode by, a waggish fellow of the 47th said, "General, we are too tired
to cheer you this morning," and he pleasantly replied, "Well, boys, you
have gotten glory enough for one day."


     He that fights and runs away
     May turn and fight another day.

After the lamented death of General Jackson the divisions of the Army of
Northern Virginia were organized into three corps, commanded,
respectively, by Longstreet, Ewell, and A. P. Hill. General Heth was
assigned to the command of the Light Division, and the senior colonel of
the first brigade, John M. Brockenbrough took the command made vacant by
Heth's promotion.

In forming his staff Colonel Brockenbrough selected me to be his acting
assistant adjutant-general. As this new sphere of duty required that I
should have a horse, and as it was useless to search for one in the
neighborhood of Fredericksburg, I sought and obtained a furlough in
order that I might seek one in my native county. The time was limited to
five days,--not long enough, as Colonel Brockenbrough knew; but there
was an understanding between us that if I overstayed the limit nothing
would be said about it.

A tramp of a hundred miles was before me, but that was a matter of
indifference to my buoyant body and practiced feet. It was my intention
to cross the river at Tappahannock, and proceed down the Neck to my
brother's home, but the southern bank was picketed by the 15th Virginia
cavalry, which prohibited my passage. Walking back into the town and
finding Colonel John Critcher, who was in command of the regiment, I
explained my mission and requested the liberty of passing through his
line. He informed me that on the other side the 8th Illinois cavalry
were making a raid, and urged that I should not cross and run the risk
of being captured. Telling him that I was familiar with the country and
that I would avoid the enemy, I persisted in the request, being as
desirous of a horse as was Richard III in his final battle. Having
obtained his reluctant written permission I decided that instead of
crossing at Tappahannock I would walk down as far as Owen Hill in
Middlesex county and thence seek a passage over into Lancaster. A negro,
whose service I secured in return for Confederate money, transported me
in a canoe, and landed me at Morattico. During the passage I kept a
sharp lookout up and down the wide river for Yankee gunboats, fearing
that even if I should escape Scylla I might fall into Charybdis; and
indeed some of the marauding bluecoats had but recently departed from
the farm.

Having dined with the hospitable family, I set out for my brother's home
fifteen miles away, not knowing that one part of the enemy was encamped
on his farm and another part in the yard. Being informed that the
hostile invaders were traversing all parts of the county in search of
booty, I sought to evade them by walking not upon the familiar roads but
in the woods parallel with them. When I drew near the county-seat,
instead of crossing the road as prudence suggested I thought I would
walk the road a short distance and then pass over, for my shoes had
become uncomfortably smooth by treading on the fallen foliage of the
pines. Rash procedure!

I had come into the road near what is called "the court-house mill
hill," intending to go down, cross the bridge, and turn again into the
woods in the rear of the village, scouting as I proceeded. When I had
come nearly to the brow of the hill, I met a squadron of ascending
Federal horsemen. If I had been two minutes earlier and they as much
later we would have met as I was descending the hill; and then my
capture would have been inevitable, because the steep banks on either
side would have precluded all hope of escape. I heard the foremost
riders say, "Here're the Rebels, boys; come on." I did not wait to see
more than their heads and breasts as they were coming up the hill. I was
in my full uniform, having a gray overcoat on my shoulder and a felt hat
on my head. In the twinkling of an eye the coat was dropped, and the
hat flew off as I made such a leap into the friendly forest as perhaps
was never equaled by any athlete in the Olympic games. I had no time to
become frightened, but I was angered by being pursued on my native soil
by men who had no right to invade it. It is a wonder that they did not
catch me. I heard them swearing, crying "Halt," and firing pistols.
Three things favored me: the trees and undergrowth were coming into
leaf, I was fleet of foot, and I took an unsuspected direction. Instead
of running at right angles to the road, or obliquely backward, I ran
obliquely forward, in the direction from which they had come. When I was
nearly out of breath, I stopped to listen, and was glad to hear no
sounds save those that were made by my thumping heart. The pursuit had
ended, and I lay down to rest and to recover my wind,--not unlike the
stag that had been chased by Fitz James' hounds.

In a little while rising refreshed from my rest, I went onward and
crossing the mill stream higher up than I had purposed, I arrived at the
residence of my cousin Robert. I had been there but a few minutes when
his wife, who had glanced up the lane, cried out, "Run, run; the Yankees
are coming!" At the first utterance of the word "run," I was making
rapid tracks for the forest in the rear of the house; but before I
reached it she called me back. Two of the Yankees had been there before,
and her excited imagination had mistaken a Rebel officer for two more.
It was her brother-in-law, Ned Stakes, major of the 40th Virginia. He
and I then set out for a place near Wicomico church, where, as he told
me, a few Confederates were in hiding. Having spent the night with them
in the forest, we were in the morning informed by a faithful negro, who
had been acting as commissary, that the Yankees had all gone. Although I
trusted his report, it was with circumspection that I traveled homeward.

The departed Yankees had carried away teams and wagons loaded with
plunder from meat-houses, barns, and cabins, and as many of the negroes
as desired to take advantage of "the year of jubile?" which old Spencer
said "had come." One girl, who refused to depart, was thus upbraided by
her father: "You's a fool, gal, not to go where there's a plenty to eat
and nothing to do." That regiment of cavalry had robbed my brother, and
had treated many other peaceable citizens in the same way. Large was the
booty they carried away, and long was the train of negroes, horses, and
loaded wagons. It is said that "all things are lawful in war"; but this
adage, like many others, sails under false colors. War is lawless, as
Cicero observed: "_Silent leges inter arma_." There was neither
constitutional nor statute law that justified the invasion of the South
by armies from the North; none for the emancipation proclamation; none
for the cruel and destructive deeds that were perpetrated by the Federal

My furlough had run out, and my object was yet ungained. The next day I
found a bay horse to my liking, five years old, large, tall, and strong,
named John. The owner sold him to me for Confederate money, knowing that
the sale bore close resemblance to a gift. After a night's rest I set
out for the army. Riding in the wake of the retiring sons of Illinois, I
recrossed the river at Bowler's, and on the second day rejoined the
brigade near Fredericksburg. After having been chased by the Yankees, a
feeling of safety came over me as I mingled again with my veteran

That was not to be my last experience with the 8th Illinois. It was they
who in less than two months afterward took me prisoner in Maryland. Some
of them were riding horses that they had stolen,--no; impressed,--from
my county. They showed me their repeating Spencer carbines, and asked
that if I should be exchanged I would tell the 9th Virginia cavalry that
they would be glad to meet them. The lapse of fifty years has made old
men of them and me. I have forgiven the wrongs those brave fellows
inflicted on my country, and I would be glad to meet them to talk over
the stirring events of the past.


     Hand to hand, and foot to foot;
     Nothing there, save death, was mute;
     Stroke, and thrust, and flash, and cry
     For quarter, or for victory,
     Mingled with the volleying thunder.

I come now to relate my experience of the disastrous invasion of

The first week in June the commands of Longstreet and Ewell began the
northward movement, but Hill's corps remained at Fredericksburg to
deceive the Federal commander and watch his movements. It was not until
the middle of the month that Hooker divined Lee's purpose and withdrew
his army from our front, leaving us free to follow the rest of the army.
Marching through Culpeper, we crossed the mountains through Chester's
Gap and struck out for the ford of the Potomac at Williamsport. I had
four times waded the river, but this time, being on horseback, I escaped
a wetting by holding my feet high on the saddle. My spirits would not
have been so light and gay, if I could have foreknown that I should not
lay eyes on the river again until the war should be over. Nothing of
moment occurred while we passed across Maryland into Pennsylvania.

Tuesday night, June 30, our division bivouacked near Cashtown, about
eight miles northwest of Gettysburg. The next morning Colonel
Brockenbrough was informed that Pettigrew's brigade was on the way to
Gettysburg to obtain shoes for the men, and was ordered to follow as a
support in the contingency of need, none of us knowing that the advance
of Meade's army occupied a strong position between us and the town. I
was riding with Colonel Brockenbrough at the head of the column when we
met Pettigrew and his men returning. He informed us that the enemy was
ahead and that as he had not received orders to bring on an engagement
he was coming back, to report. As to the source of his information I
had no doubt, for by his side was a man on horseback, bearing an
umbrella, and dressed in a suit of civil clothes. After a brief
consultation between the commanders of the two brigades I was ordered to
ride back quickly to Heth's headquarters, report the condition of
affairs, and bring back his instructions. With a brusque manner, he
said, "Tell General Pettigrew not to butt too hard, or he'll butt his
brains out." I translated his command into politer terms, and we started
again toward Gettysburg, knowing that Heth would follow with the other
four brigades of the division.

We found the enemy posted on a ridge just beyond Willoughby's Run, and
deploying on both sides of the road we went into the engagement. We had
the honor,--if honor it may be called,--of losing and shedding the first
blood in one of the most famous battles of the world. In war things
sometimes just happen: the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern
Virginia came into collision at a place where neither commander
designed a general engagement. Pender's division formed on the right of
Heth's and both pressed forward in the face of volleying musketry and
thundering cannon. We found out afterward that the opposing force
consisted of the three divisions of the First Corps under the command of
General Reynolds. Right bravely did they fight, and being driven from
the ridge they formed again on Seminary Ridge, determined to hold it. As
our men, on the other hand, were no less determined to take it, the
contest became furious and slaughterous. Our loss was heavy, but did not
equal that which we inflicted. At last they gave way, and we pursued
them to the edge of the town, through the streets of which they hastened
until they lodged among the rocky fastness of Cemetery Ridge. I was in
all the great battles, from Seven Pines to Chancellorsville, but never
had I witnessed a fight so hot and stubborn. On a field of battle the
dead and mortally wounded are usually scattered promiscuously on the
ground, but here I counted more than fifty fallen heroes lying in a
straight line. They belonged, as well as I now remember, to the 150th
Pennsylvania. When a regiment stands its ground until it suffers so
great a loss, it deserves honor for its courage, for the wounded must
have numbered as many as two hundred and fifty. It is a rare thing that
a regiment loses so many men in one engagement.

At the same time that we were struggling with the First Corps of Meade's
army the divisions of Rhodes and Early on our left were driving the
Eleventh Corps before them. But of the gallant part they bore in the
battle I make no mention, inasmuch as I am not writing a general
history, but only jotting down the things I saw, a small part of which I

When the battle had ended and the brigade was standing in line close to
the town, Colonel Brockenbrough and I occupied positions in rear of the
line; and near us were Capt. Austin Brockenbrough and Lt. Addison Hall
Crittenden. First one and then the other of these two gallant officers
fell mortally wounded, although no Yankee was in sight. It was the work
of sharpshooters concealed in a large wooden building on our left. I
took the liberty of causing a company to fire a volley into the house
and that put a stop to the murderous villainy.

It was nearly midnight when the brigade fell back a short distance to
seek some rest after the severe toils of the day; but notwithstanding
the lateness of the hour and our tired condition I proposed to Colonel
Brockenbrough that we should look up these two men who were especially
dear to us, for Austin was his cousin and Addison was mine. We knew that
they had been carried on stretchers from the place where they had been
wounded. Our only guides as we slowly rode along in the dark were the
fires that indicated the location of the improvised hospitals of the
numerous brigades. Inquiring our way, we at last came to the hospital of
our brigade where Mr. Meredith, chaplain of the 47th, conducted us to
our friends who were lying upon pallets of straw. They knew that their
wounds were mortal, but they faced "the last enemy" with the same
intrepidity they had manifested on many a sanguinary field. If I had
yielded to my emotions, I would have wept over Addison even as a woman
weeps. He was named for my mother's only brother; he was pure in heart;
and while he was gentle and sweet in manners and disposition, he was as
brave as any man who followed Lee across the Potomac.

By some critics General Lee has been censured because he did not
continue the battle and attempt to capture Cemetery Ridge on the evening
of the first day. I think that the criticism is unjust; for, in the
first place, the attempt would have been of doubtful issue, and then if
he had tried and succeeded, what advantage would have been gained? It
was clearly Meade's rôle to act on the defensive and select the arena
upon which the decisive contest must be waged. If Cemetery Ridge had
been taken, instead of hurrying his other corps to that position to
form a junction with the First and Eleventh, he would have retired
behind Pipe Creek, or chosen some other ground as easily tenable as
Cemetery Ridge. The state of things was such that Lee could not retreat
without a general engagement, and he could not enter upon it except upon
disadvantageous conditions. The tables were turned: as the Yankees had
fought at Fredericksburg, so the Rebels had to fight in Pennsylvania.

On the second day Heth's division was not engaged, but occupied the
ground near that on which it had fought the day before, close by the
seminary in which General Lee had his headquarters. In the afternoon
while Longstreet's corps was furiously fighting to wrest Little Round
Top from the enemy, he came unattended to where I was standing. Looking
down the valley of Plum Run, which separated the armies, there could be
seen the flashing of the guns under the pall of smoke that covered the
combatants. Now and then making a slight change of position he viewed
the scene through his field-glass. His noble face was not lit up with a
smile as it was when I saw it after the victory at Chancellorsville, but
bore the expression of painful anxiety. Ah, if only his men could seize
and hold that coveted elevation! It was the key to the situation, and
victory would have been assured. But that battle was lost, although the
divisions of Longstreet performed prodigies of valor. Then and there the
issue was decided.

That night Heth's division moved farther to the right. Being directed by
Colonel Brockenbrough to ride ahead and pick out a place for his
brigade, I went forward in the darkness, ignorant of the lay of the
land, until the command to halt was given to me in an undertone. I did
not see the man, but was informed that I was just about to ride through
the line of Confederate skirmishers, and was cautioned to ride back as
quietly as I could, because the Yankee skirmishers were not far in

On the morning of the 3d of July, although Ewell's corps on the left
had waged a bloody but unsuccessful battle, not a shot was fired by
Hill's corps in the center, nor by Longstreet's on the right; but the
final struggle was yet to be made. More than a hundred cannon were
placed in position, along the line of which lay the eighteen thousand
men, who had been selected to make the assault upon Cemetery Ridge.
Before the firing began Colonel Brockenbrough told me that when the
cannonading should cease we should make the charge.

About one o'clock the guns opened, and for two dreadful hours pounded
the adversary's position, being answered by almost as many of his guns.
There has never been such a war of artillery on the American continent.
Surely this was an exhibition of the "Pride, pomp, and circumstance of
glorious War." It was hoped that so terrible a bombardment would
demoralize the enemy and thus prepare the way for a successful onslaught
of the infantry. During its continuance we lay among the guns, and as
soon as their clamor hushed sprang to our feet and began rushing toward
the enemy. We had to descend the slope of Seminary Ridge, cross a
valley, and ascend the steep slope of Cemetery Ridge, a distance of
nearly a mile. If while we were crossing the valley the artillery behind
us had been firing at the enemy over our heads, our task would have been
less dangerous and more hopeful, but unwisely and unfortunately the
caissons had become almost exhausted. As we were ascending the eminence,
where cannon thundered in our faces and infantry four lines deep stood
ready to deliver their volleys, I noticed that the line of the
Confederates resembled the arc of a circle; in other words, the right
and the left were more advanced than the center, and were, therefore,
the first to become engaged. Brockenbrough's brigade formed the extreme
left of the attacking column.

The fame of Pickett's charge on the right has resounded through the
world. The Virginians on the left achieved less glory, but they did
their best. We came so close to the serried ranks of the Yankees that I
emptied my revolver upon them, and we were still advancing when they
threw forward a column to attack our unprotected left flank. I feel no
shame in recording that out of this corner the men without waiting for
orders turned and fled, for the bravest soldiers cannot endure to be
shot at simultaneously from the front and side. They knew that to
remain, or to advance, meant wholesale death or captivity. The Yankees
had a fair opportunity to kill us all, and why they did not do it I
cannot tell. Our loss was less than it was in the first day's battle. As
in our orderly and sullen retreat we were ascending the ridge from which
we had set out, I heard the men saying mournfully, "If Old Jack had been
here, it wouldn't have been like this"; and though I said nothing I
entertained the same opinion.

Suppose he had been there to turn the enemy's left flank as he did at
Gaines' Mill, and again at Chancellorsville!

As I look back upon that final assault at Gettysburg, it seems strange
to me that General Lee should have sent eighteen thousand men to
dislodge a hundred thousand from a position much stronger than that
which Wellington occupied at Waterloo. Perhaps he miscalculated the
effect of the cannonade; perhaps he reposed too much confidence in his
soldiers. When all was over he found no fault with them, but most
magnanimously took the blame of defeat upon himself and endured great
mental suffering. Adverse criticism is swallowed up in sympathy for that
peerless man.

It was a drawn battle. The Army of Northern Virginia had not been
beaten, but it had failed in the attempt to beat the Army of the
Potomac. All day long on the 4th of July it remained in view of Meade's
army, but he dared not assail it.

There was nothing left but to return to Virginia. On the night of the
4th of July the army began to retreat, and on the 7th it halted near
Hagerstown and offered battle, which Meade refused. It seems to me that
he did not press the pursuit as closely and fiercely as he might have
done; perhaps he was respecting the valor that he had lately witnessed.


     A prison is a house of care,
     A place where none can thrive,
     A touchstone true to try a friend,
     A grave for men alive.
       --_Inscription on the Old Prison of Edinburg._

After falling back from Hagerstown the army took up a strong position
near the Potomac, extending from Williamsport to Falling Waters. On the
night of the 13th of July the retreat to Virginia began. The division of
Heth and that of Pender, now commanded by Pettigrew, marched all night
long in a drenching rain and over a very muddy road toward Falling
Waters, where the engineers had constructed a pontoon bridge across the
river. When the morning dawned we were about two miles from the river,
and, so far as I know, there was no reason why we should not have kept
on and followed the rest of the army over the bridge. Instead of that
we halted and formed in line of battle across the road, facing
northward, Heth on the right and Pettigrew on the left, well located for
defense, being on rising ground and having a valley in front. It was
supposed that our cavalry were between us and the enemy, (which was a
false supposition,) and, contrary to well-established military rules, no
skirmishers were sent to the front. The command was given to stack arms
and rest, and the men exhausted by fatigue lay down on the wet ground
behind the line of muskets and soon went to sleep. The guns were wet and
muddy and many of them were either unloaded or unfit for action. Giving
my horse to Charles to be held in the rear until called for, I too fell
asleep. We were in no condition for anything except the surprise that
startled us from our transitory slumbers.

We were awakened by the firing of the enemy. By the time that the
muskets could be retaken from the stack, squadrons of cavalry were upon
us. These were easily repulsed, not, however, until riding down in
front of our line they had mortally wounded General Pettigrew at the
head of his division. General Heth, riding rapidly along behind our
line, was crying out, "Keep cool, men, keep cool!" But judging from the
tone of his voice and his manner of riding, he seemed to me to be the
only hot man on the field.

The color-bearer of the 47th exclaimed, "Come on, boys; it's nothing but
cavalry," and ran forward into the valley, showing more bravery than
intelligence or discipline, for infantry does not charge cavalry, and he
had no right to advance without an order. The color-bearers of the other
regiments of the brigades, not to be outdone, likewise advanced, and
some of the bolder spirits followed their respective flags. This action
was so unwise that I requested Colonel Brockenbrough to authorize me to
recall these brave fellows to their original and better position; but,
to my surprise, he directed me to order all the men to join their
colors; and this I tried to do, but the men would not obey, saying that
their muskets were unfit for action. However, I went myself, though
Colonel Brockenbrough and many men of the brigade remained behind. I
never saw him again.

A spirited contest ensued, which I shall dignify with the name of the
battle of Falling Waters, for a real battle it was, although it is not
mentioned in the histories that I have read, and the number engaged was
small. On one side were portions of the four regiments of
Brockenbrough's brigade, with their bullet-pierced battle flags, and on
the other side were dismounted men of the 8th Illinois cavalry regiment
armed with their seven-shooting carbines. There were officers present
who held higher rank than mine, but, as they knew me to be of the
brigade staff, they permitted me to exercise authority over the entire
force. For an hour we held the Yankees in check at close quarters.

While the action was in progress I observed that one of our enemies was
protected by a large tree in the field, from behind which he stepped
frequently and quickly to fire upon us. As he seemed to be taking
special aim at me, I requested one of our men, who had a beautiful
Colt's rifle, to give me his gun, and I shot at the man the next time he
emerged from behind his natural protection. He was not killed, but he
darted back without shooting. I handed back the gun. Then, with my right
arm around the man, I was with my left arm pointing out the enemy when
he fired at us and broke the arm of my comrade that was pressed between

Seeing another regiment of cavalry in front, hearing their bugle sound
the charge, and knowing that our ammunition was nearly exhausted, I
directed all the men to retire as quickly as possible to their former
position. I had not once looked back, and I supposed that the two
divisions were where we had left them; but they, taking advantage of our
defense, had gone across the river. All of a sudden it flashed through
my mind that we could neither fight nor run. Further resistance was
vain; escape, impossible. I felt angry because we had been sacrificed,
and chagrined because we were about to be captured. I had known all
along that I might be killed or wounded, but it had never entered my
mind that I might be made a prisoner. As we were scattered upon the
field and the squadrons came charging among us, a group of men gathered
about me were asking, "Captain, what shall we do?" "Stand still," I
replied, "and cast your muskets upon the ground." At the same time I
unbuckled my useless pistol and sword and cast them from me. After we
had surrendered, I regretfully record that a cavalryman discharged his
pistol in our midst, but fortunately no one of us was struck. An
officer, indignant at an act so cowardly and barbarous, threatened him
with death if he should do the like again. That day the Yankees captured
on this field and in other places about thirty-five officers and seven
hundred men.

The prisoners were escorted to the rear, huddled together, and
surrounded by a cordon of armed men. That night I slept with Lt. W.
Peyton Moncure on the blanket of one prisoner and covered by that of
the other. In the afternoon of the next day, as I was standing near the
living wall that surrounded us engaged in conversation with Col. William
S. Christian, of the 55th Virginia, and Capt. Lee Russell, of North
Carolina, some Federal officers approached and began to talk with us.
One of them was the colonel of a New York regiment, (I think it was the
122d); another was the captain of one of his companies, and another was
an officer on the staff of General Meade. The Colonel invited us to take
supper with him and some of his friends, and the kind and unexpected
proposal was gladly accepted, for recently we had had nothing but
hard-tack to satiate our hunger. At sunset he sent a guard to conduct us
to his tent, which was large and comfortable. We found the table well
supplied with a variety of savory eatables, and we were struck by the
contrast of the tent and the table with those of the Rebels.

The Blue and the Gray gathered around that hospitable board as gleeful
as boys, and as friendly as men who had been companions from childhood.
The supper being ended, a polite negro who looked like an Old Virginia
darky, and who acted in the two-fold capacity of cook and butler,
cleared away the dishes and supplied their place with cigars and bottles
of liquor of several varieties. More than once or twice the bottles
passed from hand to hand, and in order to prevent drunkenness I was
cautious to pour very sparingly into my tumbler. In the midst of this
hilarious scene our Yankee host proposed a health to President Lincoln,
which we of the Gray declined to drink; whereupon I offered to
substitute a joint health to Abe Lincoln and Jeff. Davis, which they of
the Blue rejected. I then proposed the toast, "The early termination of
the war to the satisfaction of all concerned," and that was cordially
drunk by all. It was nearly midnight when the Colonel told us that if we
would promise to go back and deliver ourselves up, he would not call a
guard to escort us; and we gave him our word, and bade him good night.
There we were in the darkness, our limbs unfettered, our hearts longing
for freedom, no Yankee eye upon us; and it is not strange that there
flitted across our minds the temptation to steal away and strike out for
Virginia; but though our bodies were for the moment free, our souls were
bound by something stronger than manacles of steel,--our word of honor.
We groped our way back, entered the circle of soldiers who were guarding
our fellow-prisoners, and went to sleep on the ground, while our late
entertainers reposed upon comfortable cots.

The next morning, July 16, we were hurried along by an unfeeling cavalry
escort to a station near Harper's Ferry, and there put into box cars
strongly guarded. On our arrival in Washington we were conducted along
the streets to the Old Capitol prison. "To what vile uses" had that
building come! It was superintended by a renegade Virginian, whose name
I am not sorry that I have forgotten; but let me do him the justice to
say that he behaved courteously and gave us a plenty to eat. The guard
of the prison was the 178th New York regiment, composed of insolent
Germans, some of whom could not speak the English language. I came near
losing my life by the bayonet of one of them, because he could not
understand a request that I made of him. The house was infested by
insects whose name I will not call; but the reader will recognize their
nature when I characterize them as malodorous, and blood-sucking. We
could expel them from our bunks, but not from the walls and the ceiling,
from the holes and the cracks of which they swarmed at night, rendering
sound sleep impossible.

In a few days after having taken involuntary quarters in the Old Capitol
I read with surprise and grief an article in the Baltimore _American_,
headed "Meade _versus_ Lee." General Lee, misinformed by somebody, had
reported that there had been no battle at Falling Waters, and that none
of his soldiers had been captured except those who had straggled during
the night or fallen asleep in barns by the roadside. When he published
that statement he knew that there had been no engagement of his
ordering, but he did not know that the gallant and accomplished
Pettigrew had been wounded on the field, nor that some of his men had
kept the enemy in check, while others were thereby afforded the
opportunity of safely crossing the river. No; the men who were captured
with me were not stragglers: they were taken on the field of battle, and
they were as brave and dutiful as any that ever wore the gray. Neither
was General Meade's report strictly correct, but it corresponded more
closely with the facts. He did not capture a brigade, as he said, but he
did take the flags of Brockenbrough's brigade, and enough men of other
commands to form one.

During the whole term of my imprisonment I anxiously longed to be
exchanged, being willing any day to swap incarceration for the toils and
dangers of active military service. In the early part of the war there
were some partial exchanges, but as it was prolonged the government at
Washington rejected all overtures for a cartel. Throughout the North
there were raised loud and false reports that Federal soldiers in
Southern prisons were being wantonly maltreated, while the National
Government might have restored them to freedom and plenty by agreeing to
the exchange of prisoners that was urged repeatedly by the Confederate
Government. The refusal was an evidence of the straits to which the
Union was pushed, and an act of injustice and cruelty to the prisoners
of both sides. It was, moreover, an undesigned but exalted testimony to
the valor of Southern soldiers, for it was as if Mr. Stanton, the
secretary of war, had said to every man in the Federal armies: "If in
the fortunes of war you should be captured, you must run the risk of
death in a rebel prison. I will not give a Southern soldier for
you,--you are not worth the exchange." Gen. Grant said: "Our men must
suffer for the good of those who are contending with the terrible Lee;"
and ignoring the claims of humanity and the usages of honorable
warfare, he lowered the question to a cold commercial level when he
declared that it was "cheaper to feed rebel prisoners than to fight


     But now we are in prison and likely long to stay,
     The Yankees they are guarding us, no hope to get away;
     Our rations they are scanty, 'tis cold enough to freeze,--
     I wish I was in Georgia, eating goober peas.
               Peas, peas, peas, peas,
               Eating goober peas;
     I wish I was in Georgia, eating goober peas.
                                  --_Stanza of a Prison Song_.

Only about two weeks did we abide in the Old Capitol, the officers being
transported to Johnson's Island, and the privates to other prisons. Our
route was by Harrisburg, and as the train was leaving the city it jumped
the track, jolting horribly on the cross-ties, but inflicting no serious

The Sandusky river before it passes through its narrow mouth into Lake
Erie widens into a beautiful bay about four miles wide. In this bay is
situated Johnson's Island, low and level, and containing three hundred
acres. It is not in the middle of the bay, but is on the north side,
half a mile from the main land, while on the other side it is three or
more miles from the city of Sandusky across the water.

The prison walls enclosed a quadrangular space of several acres, the
southern wall running along the margin of the bay and facing Sandusky.
They were framed of wooden beams, on the outer side of which, three feet
from the top, there was a narrow platform on which the guard kept
continual watch. Thirty feet from the wall all around on the inside
there was driven a row of whitewashed stobs, beyond which no prisoner
was allowed to go on pain of being shot by the sentinels. At night the
entire space within was illuminated by lamps and reflectors fixed
against the walls.

Within the walls there were eleven large wooden buildings of uniform
size, two stories high. The first four were partitioned into small
rooms, and were sheathed; the remaining seven had two rooms on each
floor, and they afforded no protection against the weather except the
undressed clapboards that covered them. In each house the upper story
was reached by an outside flight of steps. In the larger rooms some
sixty or seventy men were huddled together. Around the sides bunks were
framed on pieces of scantling that extended from floor to ceiling,
arranged in three tiers, so that a floor space of six feet by four
sufficed for six men. My cotton tick was never refilled, and after doing
service for many months it became flat and hard. Our quarters and
accommodations were such as the Yankees thought good enough for rebels
and traitors, but in summer we were uncomfortably and unhealthily
crowded, and in winter we suffered from the cold, because one stove
could not warm so large and windy an apartment. Many a winter night,
instead of undressing, I put an old worn overcoat over the clothes I had
worn during the day.

At first I "put up" in block No. 9, afterward in No. 8, and toward the
end of my imprisonment in No. 3, which was much more comfortable.

In summer, water was obtained from a shallow well, but in winter, when
the bay was frozen, a few men from each mess were permitted to go out of
the gate in the afternoon and dip up better water from holes cut through
the ice. On these occasions a strong guard extended around the prisoners
from one side of the gate to the other.

From the time of my capture until the fall of the year the rations were
fairly good and sufficient, but then they were mercilessly reduced, upon
the pretext of retaliation for the improper treatment of Union prisoners
in the South. The bread and meat rations were diminished by a half,
while coffee, sugar, candles, and other things were no longer supplied.
We did our own cooking, the men of each mess taking it by turns, but the
bread was baked in ovens outside and was brought in a wagon every
morning. A pan of four loaves was the daily allowance for sixteen men.
When I got my fourth of a loaf in the morning I usually divided it into
three slices, of which one was immediately eaten and the others reserved
for dinner and supper; but when the time came for the closing meal I had
no bread, for hunger had previously claimed it all. But for some
clothes, provisions, and money that were sent to me by kind friends
residing in Kentucky and Maryland I think that I could not have lived to
witness the end of the war. There was not enough nutriment in the daily
ration to support vigorous health, and it was barely sufficient to
sustain life. I believe that a few of the prisoners succumbed to disease
and died because they had an insufficiency of nourishing food. Bones
were picked from ditches, if perchance there might be upon them a morsel
of meat. I was begged for bread, when I was hungry for the want of it.
All the rats were eaten that could be caught in traps ingeniously
contrived. When prejudice is overcome by gnawing hunger, a fat rat
makes good eating, as I know from actual and enjoyable mastication.

For a time we were permitted to obtain the news of the outside world
through the New York _World_ and the Baltimore _Gazette_, but these were
suppressed; and then we had to depend upon a little Sandusky sheet and
the Baltimore _American_, which vilified the South and claimed for every
battle a Union victory.

How did we while the time away? Well, we organized a minstrel band,
singing clubs, and debating societies; we had occasional lectures and
exchanged books in a so-called reading room; we had two rival base-ball
teams, and we played the indoor games of chess, checkers, cards, and
dominoes. I spent much time in reading the Bible, besides some of
Scott's novels and the charming story of Picciola.

On Sunday there were Bible classes, and sometimes sermons by men who had
gone from the pulpit into the army. Among them were a Methodist colonel
from Missouri, a Baptist colonel from Mississippi, and a Baptist
captain from Virginia. At one time evangelistic services were held in a
lower room of block No. 5, and a number of converts confessed Jesus
Christ as Lord and Saviour, and declared their denominational
preference. Those who decided to be Baptists were permitted, under
guard, to go out to the shore and were baptized in the bay by Captain
Littleberry Allen, of Caroline county, Virginia; the rest could find
within the walls as much water as they considered necessary for the

Block No. 6 was set apart for a hospital, into which a prisoner might go
in case of sickness. It was superintended by a Federal surgeon, but a
large part of the prescribing was done by Confederate officers who had
been practicing physicians. The nursing was performed by the patients'
more intimate friends, who took it by turns day and night. I have a
sorrowful recollection of sitting up one night to wait on Captain Scates
of Westmoreland county, and to administer the medicines prescribed by
the doctors. The ward was silent save for occasional groans, the lights
were burning dimly, and there was no companion watching with me. About
midnight the emaciated sufferer died, passing away as quietly as when
one falls into healthy slumbers. I closed his eyes and remained near the
body until the grateful dawn of morning. Guarded by soldiers we went to
the cemetery without the walls, and committed the body to the ground,
far away from his family and native land.

Nearly all the men confined on Johnson's Island were officers, of every
rank from lieutenant to major-general, and numbering about twenty-six
hundred. They represented all parts of the South and nearly every
occupation, whether manual or professional. They were men of
refinement,--ingenious, daring; and they were enclosed in this prison
because it was secured no less by an armed guard than by the surrounding

Every man was trying to devise some method of escape, but only a few
succeeded, not only because the difficulty was great, but also because
there were spies among us. Three men tunneled out from Block No. 1, only
to find themselves surrounded by Yankee soldiers. Captain Cole, a portly
man, became jammed in the passage, and was somewhat like Abe Lincoln's
ox that was caught and held on a fence, unable to kick one way or gore
the other. The incident furnished the theme of another minstrel song,
with the chorus, "If you belong to Gideon's band."

I had a secret agreement with Captain John Stakes, of the 40th Virginia,
that if either saw a way of escape he would let the other know. Many a
time with longing eyes we looked upon a sloop that used to tie up for
the night at a wharf near the island. If we only could get to it! And so
we began a tunnel under block No. 9, but finding that our labors were
discovered by a spy, we were constrained to desist.

Two men filed saw teeth on the backs of case knives, and on a rainy,
dark, and windy night they crawled down a ditch to the wall on the bay
shore, and cut their way out; but they were captured and brought back.

There were a few successful escapes. One man, smarter than the rest of
us, when we went to a vessel to fill our ticks with straw concealed
himself under what remained in the hold and was carried back to
Sandusky, whence he wended his stealthy flight. Colonel B. L. Farinholt,
of Virginia, got away in a very artful manner, an account of which has
been published. In January, 1865, when the thermometer registered 15°
below zero and an arctic northwest wind was blowing furiously Captain
Stakes took me aside and told me in whispers that he and five others
were going out that night, and that they had agreed that I might go with
them. I answered that if the Yankees were to throw open all the gates
and grant permission, I would not in my feeble health and with clothes
so insufficient, depart in such bitter weather. When the hour came those
six men rushed to the wall, and setting up against it a bench, on which
rungs had been nailed, climbed over. They were not shot at, perhaps
because the sentries, not expecting such an attempt, had taken refuge
from the cold in their boxes. On the thick ice that begirt the island
they crossed over on the north side and gained the mainland. Captain
Robinson, of Westmoreland, and three others with him, hiding in the
daytime and traveling at night, after enduring many hardships arrived in
Canada, where they were clothed and fed and supplied with money. Taking
shipping at Halifax, they ran the blockade and landed in Wilmington,
North Carolina. One of the six men was recaptured by a detective on a
train in New York. My friend Stakes was overtaken the next morning and
brought back so badly frostbitten that it became necessary to amputate
parts of some of his fingers.

By some means, I know not how, information was received in the prison
that certain agents of the Confederate government in Canada would come
to the island in steamboats captured on Lake Erie to release the
prisoners. It was agreed that when they approached and blew a horn the
prisoners would storm the walls and overpower the guards. We, therefore,
organized ourselves into companies and regiments and waited anxiously
for the sight of the boats and the sound of the horn. Though we had no
arms, except such as the rage of the moment might supply, and did not
doubt that some of us would be killed, we were ready to fulfil our part
of the desperate contract; and we felt no doubt of success, for the
Hoffman Battalion that composed our guard had never been in battle nor
heard the rebel yell. The expected rescuers never came. There must have
been some real foundation for the proposed movement, for very soon the
guard was reinforced by a veteran brigade, and the gunboat _Michigan_
came and anchored near the island and showed her threatening portholes.


     'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
     Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;
     A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
     Which seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.

If one longs for home while roaming amidst pleasures and palaces, how
much more intense, suppose you, must be the nostalgia of the soldier
confined in a far distant prison?

March 14, 1865, was one of the happiest days of my life. After a
captivity of twenty months, I was led out of the prison with the three
hundred others, conducted to a steamboat, and homeward bound transported
to Sandusky. The thick ice that for three months had covered the bay was
floating in broken pieces on the surface, through which the boat
struggled with so much difficulty that I feared it would be necessary to
put back to the island; but the trip was made at the expense of some
broken paddles. Why we were selected rather than our less fortunate
compatriots I cannot guess, unless it was to save the annoyance and the
expense of burial, for some of our party had been wounded, others as
well as myself, had recently recovered from serious sickness, and all
were adjudged to be unfit for military service; or perhaps there was the
same number in Southern prisons that for special reasons the Federal War
Office desired to have exchanged.

The train that was to convey us southward was made up of box-cars, upon
the floors of which there was a thin covering of straw. We were so
crowded that we all could not lie down at the same time. The sleepers
lay with their heads at the sides of the cars, while their legs
interlaced in the middle. We took the situation in good humor, and slept
by turns, those who could not find room standing amidst entangled legs
and feet. Thus we traveled several days and nights, our train being
frequently switched for the passage of regular trains. Our route was by
Bellaire to Baltimore, or rather to Locust Point, where we took passage
on a steamboat for James river. Having landed the next day, we walked
across a neck of land formed by a bend of the river to the wharf where a
boat from Richmond was expected to meet us. A company of negroes made a
show of conducting us across the neck, though a company of children
armed with cornstalks would have been equally efficient.

We had not long to wait until the smokestack of the Confederate
steamboat could be seen winding along as she tracked the serpentine
course of the river. As she neared the wharf the band on board struck up
that sweetest of tunes,--"Home, Sweet Home." Some of my companions
laughed, some threw their caps into the air, others hurrahed, while my
own emotions were expressed only by tears of joy that coursed down my
cheeks. When, however, the music glided into the exhilarating notes of
"Dixie" I joined in the cheering that mingled with the strain.

We arrived in Richmond on the 22d of March, the eighth day after we had
started. I was pained to notice in the city so many signs of
delapidation and poverty, and to learn that Confederate money had
depreciated to the point of sixty for one. The captain's salary that the
government owed me for two years was worth only about fifty dollars in
specie, which a friend in the treasury department advised me to collect
at once, inasmuch as he thought that the capital would be soon
evacuated. I took him for a timorous prophet, and told him I would wait
until I rejoined the army, when I should need it. I did not know, as he
did, the impoverished and critical condition of the Confederacy.

I was not exchanged, but "paroled for thirty days unless sooner
exchanged." I set out for the Northern Neck in company with Lieutenant
Purcell, of Richmond county, and Captain Stakes, of Northumberland. We
rode on a train as far as Hanover and then struck out afoot across the
country. Notwithstanding the fact that one of my companions limped on a
leg that had been wounded at Gettysburg and the other was a little lame
from frosted toes, it taxed all my powers to keep up with them. If I had
rejoiced to see the James, I was happier still to set foot once more
upon the bank of the Rappahannock. When we had crossed over we went to
the home of Lieutenant Purcell, where we spent the night, and the next
day, Monday, March 27, I arrived at home. I supposed that I should take
them by surprise, but somehow they had received intelligence of my
coming; and as I approached the house I found them all lined up in the
yard, white and black. "And they began to be merry."

I found John in the stable, having been ridden home by my faithful man,
Charles Wesley, who supposed that he had left me dead at Falling Waters.

On the 14th of April, Good Friday, when I was thinking of returning to
Richmond to inquire whether I had been exchanged and was still hoping
for the independence of the Southern Confederacy, I attended religious
services at a church in the neighborhood. When these had been concluded
and the congregation were talking as usual in the yard a messenger
arrived with a newspaper, which the Yankees had sent ashore from one of
their gunboats, and which contained the details of General Lee's
surrender of his army five days previously at Appomattox. My heart sank
within me. My fondest hopes were crushed. The cause for which I had so
often exposed my life, and for which so many of my friends had died, had
sunk into the gloomy night of defeat.

I was thankful that out of the horrid conflict I had escaped with my
life, a gray coat, and a silver quarter of a dollar. Although I had
participated in all the battles that were fought by the Army of Northern
Virginia, I was never seriously hurt. At Manassas one bullet struck my
leg, and another forcibly wrenched my sword from my hand. At
Chancellorsville a bomb exploded just in front of me, making a hole in
the ground and covering me with dirt, the pieces flying away with
discordant noises. Countless balls whizzed by my ears, and men fell all
around me, some of them while touching my side. Am I not justified in
appropriating the words of David addressed to Jehovah, "Thou hast
covered my head in the day of battle?"

Withdrawal from the Union was the right of the Southern States, as
appears from the history of the making and adoption of the federal
constitution; and great was the provocation to use it. It is not,
however, always wise,--either for persons or communities,--to exercise
their rights. Secession in the year 1860 was a hot headed and stupendous
political blunder,--a blunder recognized by the majority of the people
of Virginia, who refused to follow the example of her southern sisters
until there was forced upon her the cruel alternative of waging war
either against them or against the States of the North.

Though secession was a grievous error, nevertheless the war that was
waged by the Federal Government was a crime against the constitution,
humanity, and God. But now, as we view the present and retrospect the
past, who may say that all has not turned out for the best? We find
consolation in the belief that the Lord's hand has shaped our destiny,
and we meekly submit to his overruling providence.

     "If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well
     It were done quickly."

But the war, like Duncan's murder, was not done after it was done. There
supervened the unnecessary, vindictive, and malignant reconstruction
acts of the Federal Congress.

On the 14th of April, only nine days after Lee had surrendered, a great
calamity befell the South in the foolish and infamous assassination of
President Lincoln, who was the only man who could have restrained the
rage of such men as Sumner in the Senate and Stephens in the House of
Representatives. The hatred of the Northern politicians was intensified
by the supposition that his death was instigated by Southern men, and it
did not abate even after they were convinced that the supposition was

It is a singular fact that while the war was in progress the acts of
secession were considered null and void, and the Southern States were
declared to be parts of an indissoluble union, but when the war had
ended they were dealt with as alien commonwealths and conquered
territories. For four years Virginia was not a co-equal State in the
Union but "Military District No. 1," governed by a Federal general, who
appointed the local officers in the several counties. The affairs of the
State were managed by carpetbaggers in close agreement with despicable
scalawags and ignorant negroes. The elective franchise was granted to
the emancipated slaves regardless of character or intelligence, while it
was denied to many white men. In Lancaster county the negroes had a
registered majority of a hundred voters; it was represented in a
constitutional convention by a carpetbagger, and after the adoption of
the constitution it was represented in the Legislature by a negro. To
injury were added hatred and insult. It was not enough that the South
was conquered, it must be humiliated by African domination!

The Southern people did not go to war--war came to them. Not to gain
military glory did they fight, although this meed must be awarded to
them. Nor was the perpetuation of African slavery the object for which
they took up arms, for in Virginia nineteen-twentieths of the citizens
owned no slaves, and there was perhaps the same proportion in the other
States of the Confederacy. Neither was it for conquest that they so long
waged the unequal contest; for though they twice crossed the Potomac it
was not to gain an acre of territory, but only to relieve their own
beleaguered capital. From first to last it was a purely defensive
struggle to maintain for themselves the freedom they cheerfully accorded
to other communities, and to make good the inherited belief that "all
just government derives its power from the consent of the governed."
They simply resisted subjugation by a hostile government whose right to
rule them they denied.

As we review the history of that gigantic struggle we are not surprised
that the South was subdued, the only wonder being that it was not sooner
done. It required two and a quarter millions of soldiers four years to
overcome one-third of that number. The South had no navy to open her
ports, no commerce for her products, no foundries for the manufacture of
arms. During the first year there were not muskets enough to supply her
volunteers, though later on sufficient numbers were taken on the fields
of battles, fifty-two cannon and thirty thousand small arms being
captured in the battles around Richmond, besides the many thousands that
were taken in subsequent engagements.

That the South for so long a time resisted the attempts of her powerful
enemy, and during that period gained so many remarkable victories, is
attributable to the skill of her generals and the valor of her soldiers.
In these respects only was the advantage on her side.

The fame of her generals has spread throughout the world, and their
campaigns enrich the text-books of the military students of Europe and
Asia. They rank with the most famous commanders that ever led armies to
victory. Their names are immortal, and their memory is enshrined not
only in poetry and history, in marble and bronze, but also in the
admiration of mankind and in the affections of the Southern people.

But what could strategy have achieved unless there had been soldiers to
make it effective? The men had confidence in their commanders and were
responsive to their genius. In attack they exhibited impulsive courage,
and in defense possessed unyielding firmness. They made days and places
forever historic, when their pay was money in little more than name,
their garments torn, their rations coarse and scant. Footsore they
charged against the dense Blue lines, or made those rapid marches that
bewildered opposing forces.

When the end had come both officers and men surrendered as they had
fought,--without mental reservation. Sadly they furled and yielded up
the bullet-riddled battleflags they had carried so proudly. Now while
they manfully accept the hard arbitrament of war, and yield unaffected
loyalty to the United States, they make no confession of criminality.
While the war continued they were asserting what they believed was a
God-given right, and now they recall with pride the valor and victories
of the Southern armies.

Those armies are rapidly disappearing from the land they loved so well.
Many of the men fell in battle, and many died in prisons and hospitals,
and since the close of the war more of them have fallen asleep in
peaceful homes. Those who have departed and those who survive will not
want a eulogist while one remains; and when the last of the men who wore
the gray shall have joined his comrades beyond the river of death,
coming generations will celebrate their heroism and scatter flowers upon
the mounds that mark the places where their ashes repose.


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