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return home. Before I left, General Ewell sent for me to his quarters.
"Captain," said he, handing me some papers, " I learn that some
of the newspapers in the far South are imputing responsibility to me
for the failure of our army to make the attack at Manassas as con-
templated. Now, of course, I can publish nothing at this time. But
you are going home, through Richmond, and may, sooner or later,
hear the subject discussed. Have an accurate copy made of this
correspondence between General Beauregard and myself, and take it
with you, that you may have it in your power to vindicate me." I
promptly complied with his request, and preserved the paper. It
was verbatim et literatim as now published in the Southern His-
torical Society Papers. After the war a published call was
made by the Society for all such matter, and I sent this copy of the
correspondence to the person indicated as the appointed recipient,
possibly the present secretary.

In the light of what did happen, I suppose I am not singular in
saying, that I never think of the mysterious failure of these orders
to three brigades to reach them, followed by the one countermanding
Eweirs advance, without a thrill in every nerve —

1. Had they been duly delivered, of course the whole battle of
Manassas must have been fought on the east side of Bull Run — that
stream in our rear. Would the panic and rout have been more or less,
or equally likely to have resulted ? If they had, what would have
been \\\^ finale.^ If not, ditto? But —

2. Given the failures, had General Ewell not been recalled when
that panic-stricken army rolled back upon itself, what would have
been the effect of five thousand fresh troops attacking it in flank and
rear ? And may not one venture to ask, why should not that have

The Secession of Virginia. 359

been the ^/a?z f Was \\. not exactly ihdii which saved us at Chan-
cellorsville ? And something like it at Second Manassas ? In both
instances, with far greater difficuhy of accomplishment, and \yith
more to discourage. Far be it from a tyro like me, to presume to
criticise Johnston and Beauregard's wisdom. But surely if the latter
can tickle his fancy with what would have happened if Jackson or
Desaix had been in Ewell's place, orif Ewell had taken upon himself the
responsibility of inaugurating that battle without orders, in the face
of the fact that the chiefs had had a whole night in which to reverse
or modify their plans, surely we may be excused for imagining what
would have been the effect, after Ewell did act upon the order
as soon as he knew it had been sent, if they had let him, alone. If
it was " too late" for him to go on, it needed but a glance ^t the
hour and the distance to see that it was too late for him to withdraw
and reach the battlefield in time to be of any use. All honor to
General Beauregard. Doubtless, many will join me in the sentiment,
that had his splendid abilities and wise counsels been better appreci-
ated, the " Cause" might not have been " lost." But he has done
injustice to one of the most able, noble, self-sacrificing, and patriotic
generals who went down with that cause, and the best excuse / can
make for him is, that in the light of subsequent events, he has dwelt
upon what would have been the result if he had entrusted his orders
to responsible officers instead of, to use his own words, " the worst
set of GUIDES and COURIERS I ever employed;" or, when it was "too
late" for General Ewell to render any assistance on our left, he had
let him alone until the wish has begotten the thought — that with a
Jackson on our right, "the movement would not have balked."
Better judges than I am — ^Jackson himself to begin with — know that
there was " Jackson " enough in Ewell for any duty.

The Secession of Virginia.


[The following, written in the New York Examiner, in reply to a
so-called historical statement of Mr. Rossiter Johnson, is put in'our
records at the request of a number of gentlemen whose opinions we

It is, of course, not a full treatment of the question, but merely a
hit back at Mr. Johnson's misrepresentations.]


360 Southern Historical Society Papers.

I am willing- to believe that Mr. Johnson has tried to be fair, and
has presented the case as he understands it. But as a Virginian born
and reared on her soil, familiar with her history, and proud of her
traditions, I especially desire to enter my protest against the account
he has given [see the Exaviiner of November 12th] of " The Seces-
sion of Virginia."

The statement that Virginia's Governor (John Letcher) "was an
ardent disunionist" exactly contradicts the fact. Governor Letcher,
up to the issuing ot Mr. i^incoln's proclamation calling for seventy-
tive thousand troops to coerce the seceded States, was an ardent
'Union'' man, as were a majority ot the people of Virginia. In-
deed, his attachment to the Union was so strong — and his opposition
to setression so emphatic and outspoken —that the secessionists dis-
trusted him, and their chief organ, the Richmond Exami?ier, was
hiled with abuse and denunciation of " our tortoise Governor," " the
submissionist," "the betrayer of the liberties of the people," etc.
Governor Letcher was in fullest accord with the Union leaders of the
Virginia Convention, and refused every suggestion to call out troops
to capture the navy-yard at Portsmouth, Fort Monroe, or Harper's
Ferry until after the Convention had passed the ordinance of seces-
sion. But he was, in all of his sympathies and feelings, a Virginian,
did not believe in the right of the General Government to coerce a
"Sovereign State," and promptly responded to Mr. Lincoln's call
for Virginia's quota of the seventy-five thousand troops that no
troops " would be furnished for any such purpose" — "an object"
which, in his judgment, " was not within the purview of the Consti-
tution or the laws." " You have," said he to Mr. Lincoln, "chosen
to inaugurate civil war."

But the most remarkable statement in Mr. Johnson's article is as
follows :

" Virginia's fate appears to have been determined by a measure
that was less spectacular and more coldly significant. The Confede-
rate Congress at Montgomery passed an act forbidding the impor-
tation of slaves from States outside ol the Confederacy. When
Virginia heard that, like the young man in Scripture, she went away
s(jrrowful ; for in that line of trade she had great possessions. The
cultivation of land by slave-labor had long since ceased to be profit-
able in the border States — or at least it was far less profitable than
raising slaves for the cotton States, and the acquisition of new terri-
tory in Texas and Missouri had enormously increased the demand.
The greatest part of this business (sometimes estimated as high as

The Secession of Virginia. 361

one half) was Virginia's. It was called the 'vigintal crop,' as the
blacks were ready for market and at their highest value about the
age of twenty. As it was an ordinary business of bargain and sale,
no statistics were kept ; but the lowest estimate of the annual value of
the trade in the Old Dominion placed it in the tens of millions of dol-
lars. After Sumter had been fired on and the Confederate Congress
had forbidden this traffic to outsiders, the Virginia Convention again
took up the ordinance of secession (April 17th) and passed it in
secret session by a vote of 88 to 65."
Now, I have to say in reply to this :

1. The Confederate Congress a.\. Mont^ovaery passed no such act
"forbidding the importation of slaves from States outside of the
Confederacy, and absolutely nothing of this character whatever.
I have before me an official copy of The Statutes at Large of the
Confederate States of America — a book, by the way, which I res-
pectfully commend to Mr. Johnson for his careful study — and it con-
tains no such act or resolution.

2. Even if such an act had been passed, it would not have had the
slightest effect upon the action of Virginia, for it is a slander alike
upon the character of her people and the motives which impelled
her to secede and join the Confederacy, to represent her as a cold,
calculating, negro-trader, only influenced by the hope of gain in rais-
ing negroes for the Southern market. It is not true that "raising
slaves for the cotton States" was an "ordinary business of bargain
and sale," worth annually " tens of millions of dollars to Virginia."
The truth is that the average Virginia planter would mortgage his
plantation and well nigh ruin his estate to support his negroes in
comparative idleness before he would sell them ; that very few ne-
groes were ever sold except under the sternest necessity ; that the
negro trader was considered a disreputable member of society ; and
that " raising slaves for the market" is a romance of Abolition in-
vention which fully served its purpose in the bitter controversies of
the slavery agitation, but which an intelligent writer should now be
ashamed to drag forth again. When Robert E. Lee said, " If the
millions of slaves at the South were mine I would free thetn 7vith a
stroke of the pen to avert this war,'^ he but voiced the sentiments of
nine-tenths of the people in Virginia. The truth is that our grand
old Commonwealth has a record on this question of which she need
not be ashamed. The first slaves introduced in Virginia were
brought and forced upon her colonists against their protests — and
from that day all that were brought to her soil came in ships of Old or

362 Southern Historical Society Papers.

New England. When the Federal Constitution was adopted Virginia
lavored the immediate abolition of the slave-trade, and the time for its
abolition was extended twenty years on the demand of Massachusetts
and other New England States, and when the slave-trade was abolished
Virginia voted for its abolition, while Massachusetts voted for its con-
tinuance. After giving with princely liberality, to the General
Government for the common domain, the Northwest Territory, out
of which the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin,
and a part of Minnesota were afterwards carved, Virginia consented
with surprising readiness to making this /r^-*? territory. And there can
be but little doubt that the sentiments of her leading statesmen
would have prevailed, and Virginia would have adopted emancipa-
tion measures, but for the fact that, after finding that slavery would
not pay with them, the Northern States (after selling Xheiv o-wn slaves
and pocketing the money) began a system of warfare upon slavery
which tended to consolidate and perpetuate the pro slavery sentiment
in the State.

3. The real reason of the secession of Virginia was that she con-
sidered that Mr. Lincoln's proclamation had " inaugurated civil war,"
and she had simply to choose whether she would lake sides with the
A^orth or with the South in the great conflict.

If you could give me space to go into the details I could abun-
dantly show that in all of the bitter controversies of the past the voice
of Virginia had been on the side of the Union — that she had been
ready to make any sacrifice, save honor, to preserve the Union which
her sons had done so much to form and to perpetuate.

After other Southern States had seceded she still voted overwhelm-
ingly against secession, called the " Peace Congress " which assembled
at Washington, sent her commissioners to Mr. Lincoln after his in-
augural, and on bended knee begged for peace and Union But she
was equally emphatic in claiming that a State had the right to secede —
that she had expressly reserved that right when she entered the origi-
nal coinpact — and that the General Government had no right to coerce
a State desiring to secede. This she had declared over and over
again by the most solemn enactment, and her commissioners made
her j)osition clear to the authorities at Washington. Two days,
therefore, after Mr. Lincoln's call for her quota of troops to subju-
gate the seceded States Virginia passed her ordinance of secession
and bared hef breast to receive the coming storm.

Equally untrue to the facts of history is the attempt of Mr. John-
son to make it appear that the people of Virginia were not tlien in

The Secession of Virginia. 363

favor of secession — that " the Governor turned over the entire mili-
tary force and equipment of the State to the Confederate authori-
ties"— and that a vote against secession was " impossible," because,
at the time of the popular vote, " the soil of Virginia was overrun by
soldiers from the cotton States," TAe Convention, and not the Gov-
ernor, formed the alliance with the Confederate States — the election
was one of the fairest ever held in America — and while the vote stood
125,950 in favor of ratifying the ordinance of secession to 20,373
against it (most of these last being cast in Northwest Virginia, where
Federal bayonets did influence the vote) — yet there were no soldiers
at the polls, no sort of intimidation was used, and men voted freely
their honest convictions. The simple truth is, that Mr. Lincoln's
proclamation caused the immediate secession of Virginia, and so dis-
sipated the "Union" sentiment of the people, that Hon. John B.
Baldwm (the Union leader of the Convention, and one of the ablest,
purest men the State ever produced) but voiced the geperal senti-
ment when he wrote a friend at the North — who had asked him the
day after the proclamation was issued : " What will the Union men
of Virginia do now?" — " We have no Union men in Virginia 7iow,
but those who were 'Union' men will stand to their guns and make
a fight which shall shine out on the page of history as an example of
what a brave people can do after exhausting every means of pacifica-

Yes ; old Virginia clung lo the Union and the Constitution with
filial devotion. The voice of her Henry had first aroused the colo-
nies to resist British oppression. The pen of her Jefferson had written
the Declaration of Independence. The sword of her Washington
had made good that Declaration. The pen of her Mason had written
the Constitution, and her great statesmen had expounded it. Through
long, prosperous, and happy years her sons had filled the presidential
chair, and her voice had been potential, in Cabinet and Congress, in
shaping the destinies of the great republic to whose prosperity she
had contributed so largely.

But now there had arisen " another king that knew not Joseph" —
the very fundamental principles of the Constitution were, in her judg-
ment, subverted — civil war, with all of its horrors, had been inaugu-
rated, and she must choose on which side she would fight. She did
not hesitate ; but knowing full well that her soil would be the great
battlefield, she took up the "gage of battle" and called on her
sons to rally to her defence. From mountain-valley to the shores of
her resounding seas — from Alleghany to Chesapeake — from the

3fi4 Southern EistoricaJ Society Papers.

Potomac to the North Carolina line — the call is heard and there rush
to arms at the first tap of the drum— not Hessian or Milesian mer-
cenaries, not a band of negro-traders coolly calculating how much
they could make out of a " Southern Confederacy" — but the very
fiower of our Virginia manhood, as true patriots as the world ever
saw, worthy sons of sires of '76.

And thev did "make a fight" which illustrates some of the
brightest pages oi Ajnei-ican history, and of which men at the North
as well as men at the South are even now beginning to be proud.
Aye I and the day will come when the story of the partisan will rot
into oblivion, and "the men who wore the gray," alike with "the
men who wore the blue," will have even justice at the bar of impartial

The "Stonewall Brigade" at Chancellorsville.


It has recently come to my knowledge that Captain Landon, in
a memorial address at Raleigh, North Carolina, made the statement
that in the battle of Chancellorsville, in May, 1863, a certain famous
brigade behaved in a most cowardly manner, and refused to advance
when ordered to do so. I have no defence to make for that brigade,
nor do I know them.

Captain Landon did not name the brigade to which he referred,
but I am informed that he stated afterwards that he referred to the
"Stonewall Brigade."

This is a total mistake, and does the grossest injustice to as brave
a body of men as ever carried a musket.

So far as the part taken by that brigade in that engagement is con-
cerned, I am entirely familiar with it, as I commanded the Fourth Vir-
ginia infantry, one of its regiments, and therefore know, from personal
observation, what I write. I need not go over the history of General
Jackson's flank movement and its brilliant results. This is familiar
to all intelligent readers. It is sufficient to say that night-fall found
Jackson covering the old plank road and facing east toward the Chan-
cellorsville House. In the night, after Jackson had been wounded,
the " .Stonewall Brigade" was moved forward and placed in line of
battle in the woods on the left of the plank road. As I never saw

The " Stoneivall Brigade" at Chancellor sville. 865

the ground in daylight, when my attention might have been called to
distances, I will only say, I think we were some three-quarters of a
mile in front of the Chancellorsville House.

The brigade remained in this position during the night. With
daylight, artillery firing commenced, and very soon furious infantry
firing was heard on the right of the plank road. During the night
the enemy had constructed some temporary breastworks on the right
of the plank road, from which they were driven in the attack referred

Soon after, the " Stonewall Brigade" was moved from the left to
the right of the plank road, and moved some distance to the right;
then moved by the front, and again direction was changed to the
right. About this time Brigadier-General Paxton, commanding, was
mortally wounded — for we were under fire all this time. A word of
explanation here will serve to explain what followed. The Second
Virginia infantry was on the right of the brigade; my regiment was
the second in line, with the Fifth, Twenty-seventh and Thirty-third
to my left, but their order in line I do not now remember. The order
given us was to follow the movements of the regiment on the right of
the brigade. After crossing the plank road some distance, then moving
by the front, and again changing direction to the right, we were
brought near the temporary breastworks from which the enemy had
been driven in the early morning, and behind which were then lying
the troops who had captured them. I did hear then the name of the
brigade in our front, who had participated in the morning attack, but
I do not now remember it. (I hope this article will fall under the eye
of some member of that command, and that they will remember it.)
As I have stated, we had now approached near the breastworks,
and were moving by the right flank. In the left company of the
regiment to my right the command was given, " By the left flank,
march." This I promptly gave to my regiment, and it was re-
peated to the three regiments to my left. I have never heard any
explanation of the order given to the company to my right, and
have no doubt there was some mistake; but at the instant I had
no reason to question it, and I promptly obeyed. The result was that
the company to my right, my regiment and the three regiments to my
left moved by the front over the troops and breastworks into the
woods beyond ; and, moving forward some one hundred or one hundred
and fifty yards, we became engaged with the enemy. I naturally sup-
posed that we were supported on the right and left in this advance,
but it turned out that only the left company of the Second Virginia

38fi Southern Historical Society Papers.

and tlie other four regiments of the brigade were engaged. We
became exposed to a very heavy concentrated fire. I quickly took
in the situation. I saw we could not drive the enemy, and that we
were suffering a terrib^ loss of life. I ordered the men to retire be-
hind- the breastworks.

The regiments to my left, following my movement, also fell back.

To show the terrific fire to which we were exposed, I will state
that I went into that fight with three hundred and fifty muskets, and
in less than ten minutes I had one hundred and sixty men killed and

We had remained behind the breastworks some time, when Gen-
eral J. E. B. Stuart, who, upon the fall of Jackson and the wounding of
A. P. Hill, had been called to the command of Jackson's corps, rode
in front of the line where the " Stonewall Brigade " was, and called
for it. They responded, they were there — Stuart ordered an advance.
The order was given, and I state positively, after recent conversa-
tions with men and officers of the Fourth Virginia infantry, that not-
withstanding the terrible ordeal through which they had only a short
time before that passed, every man, not wounded, sprang to his
place in ranks. There being now a continuous line of battle and
properly supported, the enemy gave way and were driven with but
light resistance for more than half a mile, and the plateau of the
Ciiancellorsville House was carried. I need not, for the purpose of
this article, pursue this branch of the subject further.

Some days after the battle of Chancellorsville I was informed that
General Ramseur, in his official report of the battle, stated that he
had passed over the Stonewall brigade; I immediately called on Col-
nel Funk, Fifth Virginia infantry, senior Colonel of the brigade, and
in temporary command. General Paxton being dead, and informed
him of General Ramseur's report and suggested that he at once call
on General Ramseur and try to get his report corrected, so far as it
related to the "Stonewall Brigade." He promised me to do so.
With that I WdS content. I gave the matter no further thought, feel-
ing satisfied that full justice would be done.

To my utter astonishment, near twelve months afterwards, I learned
that Colonel Funk had never called on General Ramseur, and no cor-
rection of his report had been made. I immediately procured from
the officers of my regiment, who were in the engagement, and then
with the regiment, the following certificates, a copy of' which, in my
own handwriting, is now in my possession, the original was forwarded
to General Ramseur:

The ^^ Stonewall Brigade" at C liancellorsville. 367

" Fourth Virginia Infantry, May 3d, 1864.

" We, the undersigned, officers of the Fourth Virginia infantry,
' Stonewall Brigade,' do certif}- that we were engaged in the battle
of Chancellorsviile, May 3d, 1863, and that no troops passed through
or over this regiment, and especially do we tleny that any troops
passed over us near the breastworks ; some troops may have passed,
moving by the flank, while the ' Stonewall Brigade' was moving by
the flank from the left to the right of the plank road.

"(Signed): John E. Roberts, Captain, Company F, Fourth Vir-
ginia infantry; George M. Hanson, Lieutenant, Company A, Fourth
Virginia infantry ; B. D. Fretton, Lieutenant, Company A, Fourth
Virginia infantry ; T. P. Campbell, Lieutenant, Company D, Fourth
Virginia infantry; P. Hagan, Lieutenant, Company H, Fourth Vir-
ginia infantry ; Thomas J. Kirk, Lieutenant, Company G, Fourth
Virginia infantry; J. B. Caddell, Lieutenant, Company C, Fourth
Virginia infantry ; Jas P. Kelly, Lieutenant, Company C, Fourth
Virginia infantry ; Samuel H. Lyle, Lieutenant, Company I, Fourth
Virginia infantry; John B.Jones, Lieutenant, Company I, Fourth Vir-
ginia infantry; S. S. Slusser, Lieutenant, Company L, Fourth Vir-
ginia infantry; H. L Keister, Captain, Company L, Fourth Virginia
infantry ; Jas. N. Bosang, Captain, Company C, Fourth Virginia
infantry ; Wm. Wade, Adjutant, Fourth Virginia infantry ; Joseph
McMurran, Sergeant-Major, Fourth Virginia infantry."

" Early in the morning of the 3d May, 1863, the skirmishers of the
' Stonewall Brigade ' were deployed some one hundred and fifty
yards in the front of the brigade and about parallel with the breast-
works on the right of the plank road. When the brigade moved by
the flank to the right of the road, the line of skirmishers moved also
to the right, many of them crossing the road, and remained there

some time awaiting orders.

"Hamil. D. Wade,

' ' Captain Commanding Skirmishers. ' '

I certify that the within are the only officers of the Fourth Vir-
ginia infantry who were in the battle of Chancellorsviile, 3d May,

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