J. B. (Joseph Benjamin) Polley.

Hood's Texas brigade, its marches, its battles, its achievements online

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the rear on a special detail, but Thomas promptly declined
and said he would rather be killed than to be left in camp
on any kind of a detail when his regiment was at the front
fighting. In less than an hour from that time he was killed
in our charge up the hill in front of Kems' battery.

" In striking contrast to the foregoing, there was another
soldier, who had the habit of skulking and who had done so in
the engagement the previous day. As soon as we were or-
dered to advance his captain said to him, calling him by
name, ' I noticed your conduct in the fight yesterday, and if
you attempt to skulk to-day I will have you court-martialed
and shot,' to which the man rephed, ' Captain, there is no use
talking, I just can't stand it; do with me what you please.'


He was detailed to the litter corps and made one of the most
useful soldiers in the army and achieved a reputation for
bravery on the field that made him honored and respected by
all who knew him.

" I remained at the field hospital some ten or twelve days
until all the wounded who were able to be moved were trans-
ferred to the hospital at Warrenton, when I took an ambu-
lance and followed the army into Maryland, reaching the bri-
gade at HagerstowTi September 13, while the B. & O. bridge
was being destroyed. The route I traveled from the field hos-
pital led by the deep cut in the bed of the railroad in front of
Jackson's line, where I saw hundreds of dead bodies still
unburied, who were piled up like railroad crossties, and were
being buried by having the earth from the embankment above
thrown upon them. The stench was sickening and the sight

" The genius and generalship of General Lee never shone
with greater splendor than in the second battle of Manassas,
which will go down in history as one of the great battles
of modern warfare. The Confederate position was strong and
well selected against which the Federals frittered away much
of their strength in their repeated and unsuccessful assaults
upon Jackson's line, and when final orders were given to ad-
vance, there was scarcely a halt in the entire Confederate lines
until the battle ended. General Lee with 50,000 men was
opposed by General Pope, the Federal commander, with an
ai-my of 70,000. The Confederate losses were 7244, while the
Federal losses were 14,462 men, in addition to thirty pieces of
artillery, 20,000 stand of small arms, numerous flags and a
large amount of army stores.' No troops in General Lee's
army bore a more conspicuous part in this great battle or
contributed in a greater degree to achieve the victory than
Hood's Texas Brigade, but the honors they won were bought
at the price of 627 killed and wounded, of which the Fifth
Texas alone lost 239."

In his ofl^cial report, Lieutenant-Colonel B. F. Carter says:

" After our return to the position of the previous day, early

on the morning of the 30th, we rested on our arms in line of

battle during the day. Soon after four o'clock in the after-


noon we were ordered to advance In the same line of battle as
the day previous, the First Texas, on our left, being the
directing battalion. Company A (Captain S. H. Darden)
was deployed as skirmishers in our front early in the morning;
was engaged with the enemy during the day. Passing
through the skirt of wood we rested in, we advanced through
the first field, thence through the second skirt of timber to the
next field. While yet in the wood a heavy firing of musketrj'
commenced on the right of our brigade, but no enemy ap-
peared In front of my regiment. As we emerged from the
wood I discovered a battery stationed on the hill beyond the
small creek, supported by infantry in strong force, who
opened fire on us. The distance to the creek at the bottom of
the hill was about 300 yards. We advanced In double-quick
down the hill to the creek, where we halted In accordance with
your orders, and were pretty well protected by the banks itud
some trees growing there. Here the regiment, somewhat
broken in our rapid advance, was quickly re-formed. We had
halted scarcely a minute when I discovered the right of the
brigade advancing up the hill, and immediately ordered the
regiment to charge the battery. Two or three guns on the
right of the battery were directly in front of my regiment, at
about 100 yards distance from the creek, on a small eminence
sloping gradually to the bottom, the ground being bare and
smooth. We were greeted with a terrific fire of grape, canis-
ter, and musketry, and my principal loss was sustained here.
The regiment responded gallantly to the order to charge, and
carried the hill and battery on the run, utterly routing the
supports, and killing the gunners, who stood to their guns
until we approached to within twenty paces. I hurried the
regiment rapidly forward to the next valley beyond the hill,
where a dry, shallow ravine afforded some protection from the
fire of the enemy, who had taken refuge on the next hill, cov-
ered with a growth of short pine, and were keeping up a sharp
fire of musketry on us. The Eighteenth Georgia formed In
the same ravine on our right, but the First Texas had disap-
peared from my left, and I did not see It any more until our
return to the creek. While advancing through the first field,
before meeting the enemy, I had received a caution to look well
to my left ; that we had no supports there, the Third Brigade


being held as a support for the batteries, and not advancing.
In crossing the different hills, and especially from the batter}'^
hill, I discovered large masses of the enemy on our left moving
down at right angles to the course we were going. We re-
mained in the shallow ravine spoken of several minutes, driv-
ing the enemy from the short pines in front by our fire, when
I discovered the Eighteenth Georgia was moving hj the right
flank away from me along the ravine, and about the same time
the enemy commenced firing on me from a wooded ridge to my
left and in rear of my left flank. I sent Adjutant Price to
Colonel Wofford, of the Eighteenth Georgia, to ascertain
where he was going ; to tell him the enemy were moving in
large force around our left flank, and ask him for support.
The reply received Avas he could not come, but was going to the
right. I found myself exposed with my weakened force to an
increasing fire from the enemy in front, on my left, and in rear
of my left, with no support on either flank, and not a Con-
federate soldier but my own regiment in sight. To meet the
movement of the enemy around my left, I changed front per-
pendicularly to the left across the ravine we occupied, and
finding myself uncovered by this movement, I fell back about
fifty 3'ards to the dry bed of a shallow cross-ravine, where
for some time we maintained a steady fire on the enemy^. Here
several of my men fell from the severe crossfire of the enemy,
and some of the wounded, I fear, were taken prisoners here.
The ravine we were in extended to the left, up the hill on which
the battery was situated that we had taken. In the prolonga-
tion of it on the opposite side of the hill, was a thin hedge of
small growth, affording a partial protection. Seeing no pros-
pect of supports, and believing my whole command would be
sacrificed in the present position against the immense number
of the enemy, I ordered the regiment to march by the left
flank, keeping it as well as possible under cover of the ravine
and hedge spoken of. The movement was executed with re-
markably good order, the enemy being kept at a respectful
distance by our rapid fire. Reaching the small creek, the
regiment was formed under cover of its banks, and soon after-
ward, by your orders, I moved up the creek by the right flank
and connected with the First Texas, now on my right. Throw-
ing out skirmishers to the front on the hill-side, covering the


captured guns with their fire, we rested here until dark. We
were not again engaged.

" About half an hour after forming in the creek, while rest-
ing. General Evans rode up from the woods in our rear and
was cheered by our men, to whom he addressed a few words in

" I cannot speak too highly of the officers and men of my
command. The coolness, good order, and prompt obedience
to orders displayed under the most trying circumstances, and
the daring courage in the charge, were worthy of the reputa-
tion the Fourth had already established. The skulkers, if
any, were so few as to escape observation.

" Our loss was severe, including some of the best officers.
Major Townsend fell, badly wounded in the leg, while gal-
lantly leading the right of the regiment in its charge on the
battery. Previous to and during the action, he had rendered
invaluable services to me, and his loss was greatly felt by his

"Captain (D. U.) Barziza, Company C; Captain (James
T.) Hunter, Company H; Lieutenant (M. C.) Holmes, Com-
pany H, and Lieutenant (A. D.) Jeffries, Company D, were
all wounded in the same charge — the first and last slightly;
the other two severely.

" Lieutenant (C. E.) Jones, Company H, and Lieutenant
(T. I.) Johnson, Company D, were killed on the field in the
same charge, and died as brave men should, in the front of
battle, and their loss is irreparable to their companies and
the regiment.

" Color-Sergeant Francis, of Company A, fell severely
wounded while leading the colors in front of the regiment, and
they were gallantly borne the remainder of the action by
Color-Corporal Parker, of Company H."

Lieutenant-Colonel M. W. Gary's official report of the move-
ments of Hampton's Legion is next in order and is as follows:

" The fight was opened about three o'clock by an attack
of the enemy upon the left wing of our army. About four
o'clock the brigade was ordered to advance, the Legion in line
of battle, with the Fifth Texas Regiment on the right and the
Eighteenth Georgia on the left. I ordered Captain H. J.


Smith's company thrown forward as skirmishers. We had
gone about a quarter of a mile when the skirmishers became
hotly engaged with the Duryea Zouaves near where we had
engaged the enemy the evening before. We received the volley
and charged upon them and delivered our fire at short range,
killing, wounding, and capturing a large number. They were
completely routed, and as they retreated over the ravine and
up the hill a large number were killed and wounded by the
well-practised aim of the men of the entire brigade. The whole
brigade moved forward in hot pursuit under a heavy fire of
grape and canister, driving the enemy back to their reserves,
capturing a large number of prisoners and a battery. Seeing
that in our eager pursuit we were about to be flanked by the
enemy on the right and left, I commanded the Legion to halt
as it was ascending the hill from the deep ravine. We were
then ordered to move by the right flank. We gained the
woods under a heavy fire, and immediately advanced upon the
enemy. Perceiving that they were now outflanked, they fled
in confusion after the first volley, the Eighteenth Georgia,
Legion, and Fifth Texas still pursuing. We were then hotly
engaged around the Chinn house, where the brigade captured
several pieces of artillery. At this place, the brigade of Gen-
eral Evans came up in gallant style and relieved us.

" During the fight, Lieutenant B. E. Nicholson captured a
stand of colors. Private Henry Brandies, Company C, also
captured a beautiful flag,

" The colors of the Legion were the first that were planted
upon a battery of four guns, which was successfully turned
upon the enemy by Lieutenant J. H. M. James and Private
John Pios, of Company C, assisted by several members of
Company H, who were practised artillerists.

" I cannot mention in too flattering terms the splendid cour-
age evinced b}' the officers and men of the Legion. Major J.
H. Dingle had his horse shot under him and again won new
laurels by his untiring gallantr}^ being always in the thickest
of the fight. Captain L. C. McCord was shot down at the
head of his company, wounded in three places. His first lieu-
tenant, J. D. Palmer, fell at his side dangerously Avounded,
and his second lieutenant, T. A. G. Clarke, shared the same


fate. Lieutenant R. A. Tompkins, acting-adjutant, was
wounded while rallying the men. Lieutenant John W. Austin,
of Company F, was wounded while leading his company.
Lieutenant James McElroy, of Company A, who fought with
conspicuous courage, was wounded. Sergeant J. H. Satter-
field, the color-bearer, was wounded. Never was a flag borne
with more dashing courage than he displayed, as the bullet-
rent folds will attest. Captain T. M. Logan, by his brilliant
fighting, won the admiration of every one. Captain R. W.
Tompkins distinguished himself by his cool and practical cour-
age. - Lieutenant W. Edward O'Connor, in command of a
scouting party, acted with his usual gallantry and rendered
important information as to the movements of the enemy.
Lieutenant W. A. B. Davenport, (J. J.) Exum, (J. J.) Cleve-
land, and (J. H. M.) James, commanding their respective
companies, proved themselves gallant guardians of the honor
of their commands."

Reporting the movements of the Eighteenth Georgia, its
colonel, William T. Wofford, says :

" On the morning of the 30th ultimo I was directed by Cap-
tain W. H. Sellers, your adjutant-general, to hold my regi-
ment in line of battle to move against the enemy at three
o'clock that evening; that our brigade would move after Gen-
eral Kemper's brigade had entered the woods in our front.
The enemy having commenced the attack, I received orders to
advance my regiment. On my right were Hampton's Legion
and Fifth Texas and on my left the Fourth and First Texas.
As we passed the field in front of our line the brigade moved
in splendid order, and with a shout, advanced through the
second strip of woods on the enemy's lines, which we carried
so quickly that no halt was perceivable. The right wing of
my regiment encountered the Fifth and Tenth New York
Regiments supporting and in front of a battery of the enemy.
We pursued these fleeing regiments to the ravine at the foot
of the hill in front of the battery, killing and taking prisoners
nearly every man, with the assistance and co-operation of
Hampton's Legion and Fifth Texas. As we advanced on the
battery up the hill from the branch, my regiment captured


the colors of the Tenth New York Regiment. As our brigade
charged the battery and carried it most gallantly, the left of
my regiment passed over four guns, and my color-bearer
mounted one of the pieces and waved the colors over the cap-
tured trophy. Observing a second battery immediately in
front and on a hill, I gave the order to move rapidly to the
ravine between the two batteries, where I halted the regiment
to take breath. At this moment. Colonels Gary, of Hamp-
ton's Legion, and Robertson, of Fifth Texas, came to me
and said that we were being flanked on our left by a large
body of the enemy, which caused us to move by the right
flank up the ravine to the woods. I halted my regiment as
soon as my left was covered by the woods, and moved in line
to the second battery through the woods and over a slight de-
clivity, to within forty yards of the enemy's guns and their
lines of support, composed of two regiments of infantry placed
on the right and left of the battery. At this battery I had no
support but a fragment of a regiment (supposed to be the
Holcombe Legion), which fought with much spirit and gal-
lantry. Sergeant Weems, my color-bearer, who bravely
moved in front of the regiment, was shot down in forty yards
of this battery ; also two others — Sergeants McMurray and
Jones. Seeing my men falling rapidly, and having no support
and no reinforcements arriving, I withdrew my regiment in
the same order that we approached the batterj^, through the
woods to the branch to the right of where we took the first
battery, were I found the First and Fourth Texas Regiments,
when I halted and formed on their right, and where we re-
mained until you came to us.

" My regiment lost in killed 19, and wounded I'SS. Among
the former were Lieutenant (S. V.) Smith, commanding Com-
pany K, and Lieutenant (E. L. Brown), of Company E.

" I cannot find words to express the gallantry of my regi-
ment, both oflScers and men. Nearly all the men lost were
killed where we first encountered the two New York regiments
of Zouaves, and at the second battery. It would be invidious
to speak especially of any man or officer where all did their
part so well, but the great gallantry of my color-bearer. Ser-
geant Weems, who was shot down almost at the mouth of the
guns of the second battery, entitles him to particular notice."


Captain W. T. Hill, of the Fifth Texas, contributes the
following account of the movements of that command:

" Until 3 p. M. of the 30th, there was no disturbance of the
peace except such as was produced by occasional discharges of
small arms and artillery. At three o'clock the enemy ad-
vanced in force against Jackson, and for an hour, one of the
most terrible battles of the war raged. Jackson was pressed
so persistently and heavily, that at 4 p. m. General Long-
street was ordered by General Lee to join in the battle, and if
possible, drive the enemy from the field. Longstreet gave the
necessary commands to his subordinates, and, in line with the
other brigades of the corps, the Texas Brigade moved for-
ward — my company, then on the skirmish line in front of the
Fifth Texas, being ordered to form on its right when over-
taken by it. The brigade marched across an open field, and
through a skirt of timber, and in the open ground beyond the
timber, encountered the enemy, as, in line of battle he stood
awaiting attack — the Fifth New York Zouaves standing
directly in front of the Fifth Texas, but overlapped by the
length of my company, when that fell in on the right of the
Fifth Texas.

" Thus it happened that when the Fifth Texas, its men
yelling their loudest, came out of the timber into the open
ground, it came, practically, face to face with the Zouaves,
who, in their red, white and blue uniforms, stood in as perfect
ahgnment as if on dress parade. The Zouaves were first to
fire, but most of their shots went far astray from the mark:
they killed only two of our men, but wounded several others.
Lieutenant-Colonel Upton, sad to say, was one of the killed.
Following almost on the instant, but with far better aim, was
the volley of the Fifth Texas, and seemingly, one-half of the
Zouaves fell, cut down in their tracks. Appalled by such a
storm of lead as fell among them, and by the sight of so many
fallen comrades, the surviving Zouaves, seized with panic,
wheeled and took to flight. With a shout, the Fifth Texas
followed, continuing the slaughter down to and until two
hundred yards beyond Young's branch. There, remembering
that his orders were to move no further forward than Young's
branch, Colonel Robertson called a halt.

" This halt, however, was not of long duration. Hardly


had the last slow-coach of the regiment come up and found
his place in line, when somebody — a private, it was thoughV,
to have been, but nobody ever knew who — shouted at the top
of his voice, ' Forward ! ' Then, as General Hood said, ' the
Fifth Texas slipped the bridle,' Hearing that ' Forward,'
every man of the regiment sprang to his feet, and with a j'ell,
dashed forward at his topmost speed, reckless that at this
time we were two or three hundred yards in advance of the
foremost regiment of the brigade then in sight, and that, as
had been the case when they fell upon the Zouaves, not a single
Confederate command was in view on our right.

" What effort, if any, was made by officers to stay this
second charge of the Fifth Texas, I do not remember. But we
had not gone far, when a line of Federals sprang up from the
ground where they had been lying so flat we could not see
them, and poured a volley into our ranks that was terribly
destructive — many of our men falling dead or wounded. But
undismayed, the Fifth returned the fire, and with effect even
more deadly than was theirs. Broken and demoralized by it,
they fled, and following them, went the Fifth Texas, j^elling,
loading and firing as they ran. The pursuit carried the regi-
ment into open ground, and there it came in view and range
of two batteries — one on its left, and the other on its right,
at the Chinn house.

" As out of breath in the chase of infantry whose fleeter-
footedness had taken them out of sight, we came finally to a
halt, and looking to the right and left, saw what we were
' up against,' we felt ourselves lost and bewildered orphans.
It was not comfortable, by a long shot, to be five hundred
yards or more in advance of our army, under the enfilading
cross-fires of two well-served batteries, and with enemies in-
numerable presumably waiting, just over the hill, to capture
or destroy us. To stay where we were, was suicidal — to go
straightforward was to get further from support — and to
retreat, not a man of us dared suggest to another. The officer
in command of the regiment — our officers were killed or dis-
abled, that day, too rapidly for one to know Avhicli one com-
manded at this or that place — solved our doubts and fears;
although around the Chinn house. Federal infantry was heavily
massed, we were far beyond the range of their rifles, and


might, in order to secure protection from the artillery, safely
lessen the distance between us, and therefore, he orderd the
regiment to double-quick, by the right flank, down the slope
of the hill toward the Chinn house, into a gully, two hundred
yards away. .

" We obeyed the order with alacrity, each man gomg at his
best speed, and the lame and the slow-coaches getting over the
gi'ound as fast as any of their comrades. But we had barely
passed the gully, found safety in the pine and cedar thicket
beyond it, and gotten into a semblance of ahgnment, when an
unknown voice again shouted the command, 'For\vard!' and
joining on the left of D. R. Jones' division, which just then
came in line with us, we made such a vigorous and determmed
assault on the Federal lines at the Chinn house, as to force
the enemy into retreat down a breach and valley leadmg m the
direction of Sudley ford on Bull Run Creek. It took us until
night, though, to get the Federals into the humor for gomg.
They fought gallantly and stubbornly, and inflicted a severe
loss on us. Exactly what our losses were in the day's fighting,
I cannot say. The Fifth Texas carried into the action about
800 men, but after the fighting was over, only 400 answered

to roll-call." ro • 1

Because of a change of commanders on the field, two ofticial
reports were required to tell the part the Fifth Texas
took in the battle of the 30th— one from Colonel J. B. Rob-
ertson covering what occurred up to the time he was disabled,
and one from Captain King Bryan, acting major, who suc-
ceeded Robertson in the command. Colonel Robertson reports

as follows: , • i t

" My regiment was on the right of the brigade. 1 was or-
dered to keep well-closed on the left of the First Regiment
Texas Volunteers, which was the battahon of direction. I was
notified that General Kemper, with his brigade, was on my
right, and that I need have no uneasiness about my right
flank As the brigade moved across the first field to the tim-
ber held by the enemy's skirmishers, a change of front forward
on the left battalion made it necessary to move my men at a
run across the field. At the edge of the timber the enemy s
skirmishers were encountered by my skirmishers and driven
back to a point in the timber about 100 yards from the open


field beyond. Here I encountered the regiment of the enemy
tliat had deployed as skirmishers, who had rallied on their
right. I ordered the regiment to fire on and charge them.
They broke and were closely pressed to the open field, where
we encountered a second line of the enemy in the Fifth Regi-
ment New York Zouaves, who, after permitting the fleeing reg-
iment to pass its lines, presented a solid front for a short time.

" Their stand was but momentary. They gave way before
the impetuous charge of my men and fled, leaving the field
strewn with their dead and wounded. Such was the im-
petuosity of the charge and the unerring aim of my men, that

Online LibraryJ. B. (Joseph Benjamin) PolleyHood's Texas brigade, its marches, its battles, its achievements → online text (page 9 of 32)