|PAPER No. 2-
FIRST MANASSAS AND ITS SEQUEL.
Remaining for some days longer in front of Winchester,
and several times called into line of battle on false alarms, the
private soldier was forming his own plan
of campaign when our great commander received information
that Beauregard was being attacked at Manassas, and determined at once
to hasten to his
Accordingly, about noon on the 18th of July Johnston
left a cordon of Stuart's cavalry to conceal the movement from General
Patterson, and put his column in motion for Ashby's Gap and Manassas.
As soon as we had gotten about two miles from Winchester there was read
to us a ringing battle order from our chief, in which he stated that Beauregard
was being attacked at Manassas by a greatly superior force-that this was
"a forced march to save the country," and that he expected us to step out
bravely, to close up our ranks, and do all that could be required of patriotic
soldiers who were fighting for "liberty, home and fireside." I remember
how we cheered that order, and the swinging stride with which we set out,
as if determined to make the whole march that night.
But it proved a most wearisome and unsatisfactory march-the
straggling was fearful-and we only reached Piedmont Station, thirty-four
miles from Manassas, in the time in which a year later we could easily
have made Manassas Junction. Jackson's brigade being in front
reached Piedmont at 8 o'clock in the morning of the 19th, and two hours
later took the cars for Manassas. Our brigade did not reach Piedmont until
night. Incident of the march were the
wading of the Shenandoah-the cheers with which we greeted the announcement
that Beauregard had defeated the attack upon him at Bull Run-the frequent
raids we made on black-berry patches (a witty surgeon of our brigade remarked
that our bill of fare on the march was "three blackberries a day, pick
them yourself, and if you got a fought one it was to be turned over to
the commissary) and the crowds of people who turned out to see us pass
and supply us with what food they had. I remember that on reaching
Piedmont, late in the night, my regiment was assigned a place of bivouac
which was covered with water, and I looked around for some more comfortable
quarters until I found in an old-fashioned Virginia chicken-coop a couch
where "nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep," soon brought me rest as refreshing
as I ever enjoyed on downy pillows.
We were detained at Piedmont until late in the night
of the 20th by being unable to obtain transportation.
I witnessed here an incident which illustrated the
fact that at this date every private in our ranks thought himself as good
as the highest officer. While General Kirby Smith was superintending
the embarkation of
the troops, a private in my company asked him
a question, to which the General gave a rough reply, whereupon the
soldier straightened himself up and said: "I asked you a civil question,
sir, and if you were disposed to act the gentleman you would give me a
civil answer." General Smith at once grasped the hilt
of his sword, but the soldier quietly drew his pistol
and said: "If you don't put up that sword I'll shoot you."
The private was arrested, but Colonel Hill interceded
for him and General Smith generously consented to his release.
I do not know whether it is true, as was currently
reported, that one of the engineers proved traitor and caused a collision
of two trains, but I know that we
had a wearisome night on the crowded cars waiting
for the track to be cleared; that we went down Sunday morning very
cautiously, expecting the enemy to strike the railroad; that for miles
we heard the roar of the
battle then progressing; that once we disembarked
and formed line of battle on a report that the enemy were advancing on
the road, and that we reached Manassas Junction when the excitement was
at its heights, and
were double-quicked out to the Lewis House, where
we arrived just in time to witness the route of McDowell's grand army,
and join in the shouts of victory.
I shall give no description of the battle of Manassas,
nor enter into any details as to its results.
But it may
be well to correct a widely circulated error in reference
to the movements of Gen. Kirby Smith, who was represented
as stopping the train four miles above the Junction, and marching across
the fields to strike the Federal army in flank, and thus decide the fate
of the day. Now, as Gen. Smith was that day in command
of our brigade (until he was wounded, and Col. Elzey
resumed the command), I am prepared to assert in the most positive manner
that no such movement was made, but that the brigade was carried on to
the Junction, reported to Gen. Johnston, and (with the exception of the
Thirteenth Virginia, which was detached), was marched thence to the battle-field,
where it arrived at
an opportune moment, and together with Early's brigade,
gave the finishing blows of the hard-fought
field. I had, until recently, the blanket under
which I slept on the battle field that night, and it recalled a thousand
reminiscences which I will not here relate.
The next day we were marched to Fairfax Station, and
held the advance at that point, picketing on the outposts,
and having not a few stirring skirmishes
with the enemy. I might fill pages with the details
this outpost service; but I recall only a few incidents.
In the latter part of July, or the first of August,
Stuart, with five companies of the First Maryland and five of
the Thirteenth Virginia, and several companies of
cavalry, captured Mason's, Munson's and Hall's hills, from which we could
plainly see the dome of the
Capitol at Washington. The day we captured Munson's
hill, Major Terrill was sent with a detachment of the Thirteenth
on a scout, during which we drove in the enemy's pickets, ate their smoking
dinner, and pursued them back until they rallied on their reserve, and
our gallant Major thought it would not be prudent to advance further.
Accordingly we were moving back to our reserve when we met Stuart. "What
is the matter? I hope you are not running from the Yankees," said the "gay
cavalier." Major Terrill explained, and Stuart said, "That was all right,
but the Maryland boys are coming, and I think we must go back and beat
up the quarters
of those people." Just then a scout rode up and informed
him that the enemy were fully five thousand strong and had five pieces
of artillery. (We numbered about five hundred). "Oh, no!" was the
laughing reply, "you are romancing. But it does not matter how many they
number. We can whip them anyway; and as for their artillery, the
Southern Confederacy needs artillery, and we will just go and take possession
of those pieces." Dismounting from his horse after our line of battle
was formed, he took a musket and was among the
foremost in the charge as we dashed forward and
cleared the wood to and beyond the Loudoun and Hampshire
Railroad, causing the long roll to beat
and the troops to turn out for miles along General
It was my privilege to see a good deal of Stuart at
this period, at his head-quarters, on a red blanket, spread under a pine
tree on Munson's hill. His athletic frame indicating that he was
a splendid war machine-his lofty forehead, flashing blue eyes, prominent
nose, heavy, reddish-brown whiskers and mustache-his beaming countenance
and clear, ringing laughter, and his prompt decision, rapid execution and
gallant dash, all showed that he was a born leader of men, and pointed
as a model cavalryman. Those were merry days
on the outpost, when we fought for a peach orchard, a tomato patch, or
a cornfield, when Stuart would call for volunteers to drive in the enemy's
pickets, or amuse himself with having Rosser's artillery "practice" at
Professor Lowe's balloon, or sending up a kite with lantern attached, or
causing the long roll to beat along McClellan's whole front, by sending
up sky-rockets at night from different points.
On the 11th of September, Stuart took 305 men of the
Thirteenth Virginia, two companies of his cavalry,
and two pieces of Rosser's battery, and advanced on
Lewinsville, where, by a skillful handling of his little command, he drove
off a force of the enemy consisting of a brigade of infantry, eight pieces
of artillery, and
a detachment of cavalry. I remember how delighted
Stuart was, as he declared, "We have whipped them
out of their boots."
He was also chuckling over the following note, which
was left for him with a citizen by his old West Point
I have called to see you, and
regret very much that you are 'not in.' Can't you dine with me at
Willard's to-morrow? Keep your 'black horse' off me.
"Your old friend,
To this note Stuart made the following reply:
I heard that you had 'called,'
and hastened to see you, but as soon as you saw me coming, you were guilty
of the discourtesy of turning your back on me. However, you probably hurried
on to Washington to get the dinner ready. I hope to dine at Willard's if
not 'to-morrow,' certainly before long.
"Yours to count on,
Stuart was made a Brigadier-General for his gallantry
and skill on the outposts, and wrote Colonel Hill,
who was then commanding the brigade, a most complimentary
letter concerning the conduct of the Thirteenth Virginia regiment. I recollect
that a facetious private in one of our companies (poor fellow, he fell
at Gaines's Mill in 1862, bravely doing his duty) remarked in reference
to this letter, which was read out on dress parade, "I do not like it at
all. It means 'you are good fellows, and there is more bloody work for
you to do.'
If is preparatory to butting out heads against those
stone walls down about Arlington. I would rather exchange
our Minnie muskets for old flint-locks, and get no
compliments for the Generals, and then, perhaps, we might be sent back
to Orange Court-house, to guard
the sick and wounded."
I remember one night, two of us were on picket-post
in a drenching rain, and had received orders to be
especially alert, as the enemy were expected to advance that night.
We had constructed very respectable breastworks in a fence-corner, with
port-holes for our guns, and were prepared to give a warm reception to
any approaching blue-coats. About two o'clock
in the morning, the rain still pouring in torrents, my comrade was quietly
smoking his pipe, while I was keeping a sharp lookout, when he suddenly
called me by name,
and said: "I want here and now, in this drenching
rain, on the outpost, to lay down a plank in my future political platform.
If I live to get through this war, and two candidates are presented for
my suffrage, the very first question I mean to ask will be: 'Which one
of them fit?' and I mean always to vote for the man who fit. I
tell you those able-bodied men who are sleeping in
feather beds to-night, while we are standing here in the rain to guard
their precious carcasses, must be content
to take back seats when we get home."
I gave him my hand there in the dark, and my pledge
that I would stand with him on the camp platform.
These frequent movements with cavalry, often requiring
long or very rapid marches, made the men begin to
speak of the regiment as the "foot cavalry."
first time I ever heard the sobriquet publicly applied
was after the evacuation of Manassas, in March,
1862, while General Ewell was holding with his division the' line of the
Our regiment had been on picket at Bealton Station
a support to Stuart's cavalry, and the enemy were
rapidly advancing in large force, when another infantry
regiment came down on a train of cars to relieve us. We had just gotten
on the train, our friends were rapidly forming line of battle to
meet the Federal advance,
"Jeb" Stuart was going to the front with his "fighting
jacket" on, and our train was slowly moving back,
when a battery of the enemy galloped into position,
and threw some shell, which shrieked through the air,
and exploded uncomfortably near us. Immediately Colonel Walker called
out in his clear, ringing tones, "It's all right, boys. The Thirteenth
Foot Cavalry are mounted at last, and we will try the speed of our horse-flesh.
So saying, he ordered the engineer to increase his speed, and we rushed
to the rear amid the shouts of the men, who gave "three cheers for the
foot cavalry," and made the woods echo with the camp song,
"If you want to have a good time,
Jine the cavalry."
The whole of Jackson's splendid corps was afterwards
called "the foot cavalry;" but I believed that the above was the origin
of the sobriquet. My grand old regiment afterwards won imperishable renown
as it bore its tattered battle-flag into the very thickest of the fight
on many a victories field, but we never forgot those bright days with Stuart,
when we had our "outpost service with the foot cavalry."
.*From the Southern Historical Society Papers
Volume IX ,Richmond, Va, March 1881 - Pages 129 - 134