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Twenty-first regiment, and posted the Thirteenth regiment on the
right of the Telegraph road; the left wing, under Major Bradley,
resting its left company under the brave Captain G. L. Donald im-
mediately on the road; the right wing under Colonel Carter, Lieu-
tenant-Colonel McElroy and the accomplished adjutant, E. Harmon,
in rear of the redoubts on Lee's Hill occupied by Frazier and

Colonel Wm. D. Holder, of Pontotoc, posted the Seventeenth
regiment on the left of the Telegraph road, the right wing under the
chivalrous Lieutenant-Colonel C. Fiser, of Panola county, and the
It ft wing under the command of the brave Major W. R. Duff, of
Calhoun county, and immediately engaged the advancing enemy.
This timely and judicious disposition of our troops, and their stub-
born daring, checked the enemy, and enabled me to reach the Tele-
graph road, with the Twenty-first regiment. The enemy, however,
])ushed forward his troops under cover of the brow of the hill and
concealed by the smoke of the artillery, almost to the muzzles of the
guns of the second company of Washington Artillery, shot down
some of the horses, wounded several of the men and forced them to
limber to the rear, leaving one gun.

The ranks were rapidly wasting away under the deadly fire. Gen-
eral Sedgwick was pushing his blue lines over Marye's Hill and up
the plank road. His serried lines were fast encompassing Lee's Hill,
and it was apparent that the Thirteenth and Seventeenth would soon
be enveloped and crushed. Barksdale yielded before the impending
shock and ordered a retreat.

We fell back along the Telegraph road about two miles to the Mine
road. It was now about the middle of the afternoon, and Barksdale's
brigade of fifteen hundred Mississippians, and seven guns of the
Washington Artillery, with less than two hundred Louisianians, and
one gun of Parker's battery, with about twenty Virginians, had been
struggling and holding back from Lee's flank and rear Sedgwick's
army, variously estimated from eighteen to thirty thousand, from
the time he advanced from Deep Run on the 2d to i o'clock on the
3d of May. At the Mine road we met General Early with his divi-
sion, which had been lying all day at Hamilton station, expecting
Seflgwick to move that way. General Early immediately formed
line of battle on the main road and across the Telegraph road. The
enemy did not pursue us. A few wagons, mistaking the road, fol-

■ Recollections of Fredericksburg. 425

lowed after us, but retired as soon as our artillery fired on them and
they discovered our line. We remained in line oi battle and
bivouacked for the night. Sedgwick moved his main army directly
on the plank road to get in the rear of General Lee, who, having re-
.ceived early notice of the loss of Marye's Hill, detached McLaws's
division to meet him. General Wilcox, who had been guarding
Bank's ford, and General Hays, who had been sent to guard Taylor's
Hill, moved back and threw their lines across the plank road at
Salem Church. Sedgwick endeavored to push through their lines
about sundown, but was repulsed. It now being dark, no further
advance was attempted, and both armies bivouacked for the night.
At sunrise next morning, General Early, in obedience to orders re-
ceived during the night from General Lee, moved his division and
Barksdale's brigade down the Telegraph road toward Fredericks-
burg, and found no difficulty in taking possession of Marye's Hill.
He ordered Barksdale to reoccupy the trenches at the foot of Marye's
Hill and hold back any force that might attempt to advance from
the city, while he moved his own division up the plank road to at-
tack Sedgwick in the rear.

Let us now pause and look at the extraordinary position the various
portions of the two contending armies found themselves in on the
morning of the 4th of May, after six days' marching, fighting
and counter-marching. A heavy force of Federals — about fifteen
thousand — occupied Fredericksburg and Stafford Heights ; Barks-
dale and Early, with their backs to each other on the plank road,
with five thousand men, between Fredericksburg and Sedgwick ;
Sedgwick between Early and Lee, with twenty thousand men; Lee,
with Anderson, McLaws and Wilcox, between Sedgwick and Hook-
er's main army, with twenty thousand men; Hooker's main army —
ninety thousand strong — between Lee and Stuart; Stuart, now com-
manding Stonewall Jackson's corps, with twenty-five thousand men;
all stretched along a straight road within a space of twelve miles.
Who could foretell the result of this mighty, but unfinished contest ?
Who could estimate its vast complications? Stonewall Jackson was
wounded, and lay languishing upon his litter; Longstreet and D. H.
Hill were absent. Robert E. Lee alone, of all the master spirits of
the struggling hosts, could comprehend thf situation, and by his
mastery over that situation successfully worked out the result, and
illustrated his vast superiority over all the great captains that opposed
him. With the genius that never deserted him in his greatest trials,

426 Southern Historical Society Papers.

he boldly issued his orders. Barksdale was ordered to hold back
any Federal force left in Fredericksburg, Stuart and Anderson were
ordered to threaten Chancellorsville, while, in person, Lee advanced
with McLaws and Wilcox and a portion of Anderson's division, com-
posed of Posey's and Perry's brigades, to attack Sedgwick in front,
while Early attacked in the rear. Sedgwick, finding himself attacked
front and rear by fifteen thousand men, instead of being able to at-
tack Lee in his rear, hurriedly and rapidly retired by his right flank
toward Banks's ford, and recrossed the Rappahannock that night.
Lee, thus relieved of the presence of Sedgwick, moved McLaws and
Early toward Chancellorsville to support Anderson and Stuart, who
had been threatening, but were now ordered to engage Hooker.
Early on the 5th, Hooker, perplexed by his " Dutch entanglement,"
and alarmed by the failure of Sedgwick, declined the fight and re-
treated toward the Rappahannock and crossed at the United States
ford. Thus, Lee, with an army of less than fifty thousand men, all
arms — ragged, half-rationed, and badly equipped — successfully met
an army of over one hundred and twenty thousand men, magnifi-
cently equipped, and on ground chosen by themselves and partly
fortified. For five long days he maintained the unequal contest —
skillfully foiled every effort of the enemy to gain his rear — drove
Sedgwick from his flank — gained the rear of Hooker's ninety thou-
sand men at Chancellorsville by the brilliant movement of Stonewall
Jackson, and, by bold and gallant daring and heroic assaults, drove
back the "finest army on the planet," routed and in disorder, be-
yond the Rappahannock.

The loss of the entire brigade was six hundred and six officers and
men ; Washington Artillery, about seventy officers and men ; Par-
ker's Battery, about ten officers and men.

The battle of Chancellorsville, fought from Fredericksburg to the
Wilderness, along two almost parallel roads — the "Plank Road"
and the " Old Turnpike" — is justly regarded one of the proudest
achievements of Southern arms. Military critics are puzzled at the
result. Lee knew with absolute certainty that Hooker had over
120,000 men. Hooker knew with equal certainty that Lee had less
than 50,000 men. Hooker moved over go,ooo to Chancellorsville,
and left .Sedgwick in front of Fredericksburg with over 30,000.
Why did Sedgwick cross a portion of his army over the river at

Recollections of Fredericksburg. 427

Deep Run on the 29th of April ? Was the movement premature,
or was it made to threaten and hold Lee at Fredericksburg until
Hooker could slip through the Wilderness and fall upon the Jflank
and rear of Lee's army ? If so, why did Hooker halt at Chancel-
lorsville, and commence fortifying on the 30th of April ? After Lee
moved up to Chancellorsville, and confronted Hooker on the ist of
May, why were Hooker and Sedgwick both inactive ? They knew
that Lee had divided his army. Hooker and Sedgwick each had
an army — had they been Confederate soldiers — that could have van-
quished either half of Lee's army, if that half had been any other
than Confederate soldiers. Yet they both remained inactive until
Jackson gained the extreme right flank of Hooker's army on the 2d
with fully half of Lee's army, and drove back the right wing of
Hooker's arm}'' upon his centre. Then Sedgwick began to move in
earnest on the 3d of May, and Hooker remained on the defensive
with his ninety thousand against forty-five thousand. From the
number of men that Hooker knew Jackson had on his right flank,
stirring up his Dutch, he must have known that Lee had but few left
between him and Sedgwick. Yet Hooker remained defending his
ninety thousand as best he could against* Anderson's twelve thousand
and Jackson's twenty five thousand, and let Lee turn towards Fred-
ericksburg with two divisions — eight thousand men — on the 4th of
May, and in hearing distance of Hooker, drive Sedgwick, with his
twenty thousand, across the Rappahannock ; and on the 5th became
alarmed for the safety of his ninety thousand, and precipitately re-
crossed the river. That didn't look to the Rebels like " pulverizing
the rebellion " much.

Had Hooker been a Lee, and Sedgwick a Jackson, Sedgwick
would have moved out of Deep Run with his 30,000, square across
the plateau between Barksdale and Early during the night of the ist
of May, and presented himself on the hills on the Mine road ; Gen-
eral Early would have been captured or routed back to North Anna,
Barksdale would have evacuated Marye's Hill, and, perhaps,
made his escape by the plank road and gained Lee, and Jackson
would not have made his flank movement to Hooker's right flank.
Still, then, nothing but action on the part of both Hooker and Sedg-
wick would have prevailed. If General Hooker had prudently
remained at Chancellorsville, defending his ninety thousand men
against half of Lee's army, now reduced by the loss of Early, Stone-
wall Jackson would have turned upon Sedgwick with the other half of


428 Southern Historical Society Papers.

Lee's army and pushed him back across his pontoons at Fredericks-
burg:, and returned toward Chancellorsville and struck Hooker on his
left flank, drove in his left wing upon his centre, and Lee would have
pushed the whole disordered mass through the Wilderness and
across the Rapidan. But if Hooker had been a Johnston or a Long-
street on the morning of the 2d of May, with 90,000 men at Chancel-
lorsville; and had Sedgwick been a Beauregard, a D. H. Hill, or a
Hood, with 30,000 men on the hills back of Fredericksburg, a joint,
active, closing-in movement would have been made upon Lee, and
Lee would have been crushed upon the plank road, and that would
have looked like " pulverizing the rebellion." But Sedgwick was not
the real Beauregard, or Hill, or Hood; Hooker was not the real John-
ston or Longstreet. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson knew
their men. They knew the vain and boastful Hooker, and the court-
eous and cautious, if not timid, Sedgwick, and upon that knowledge
they ventured upon movements that puzzled military science, and by
that partial prowess of the "Confederate soldier," that has placed
the name of American above all the names of earth, they worked out
a result at once glorious to the now prostrate and down-trodden
South, and disgraceful to the numerical superiority of the domineer-
ing North. But it is easier to criticise than to convince or perform.
The Confederate army is now dispersed, the rebellion is pulverized,
and the problem is solved. One Dixie cannot whip ten Yankees, and
it is no longer " loyal," and, perhaps, no longer safe, for an unpar-
doned " rebel and traitor" so called, to tell his thoughts, except in
bated breath and whispers. The sun of the Southern Confederacy has
gone down in blood forever. The bright orb of " The Union " — that
child of destiny, conceived in treason to an established Government,
and brought forth in rebellion against a lawful sovereign — is again
arising in all its effulgent and aggressive grandeur and glory; and,
having shaken from its name the incubus of constitutions and the
heresy of rights " reserved to the States and to the people," now
sheds its defianc but " rehabilitating " rays over all nations, tongues,
and peojiles. " It is finished."

Henceforth let treason become odious; let rebellion stink in the
nostrils of the people; let the divine right of " The Union" to rule
be acknowledged; let humble, submissive, and silent adoration be

The Maryland Confederate Monument at Gettysburg. 429

The Maryland Confederate Monument at Gettysburg.

At a preliminary meeting to arrange for the dedication of the
Maryland Confederate Monument at Gettysburg, held in Baltimore,
Tuesday evening, November the i6th, 1886, General Bradley T.
Johnson made a defence of Confederates from the charge of being
"Rebels" and "traitors" well worthy of preservation in our


We are often asked by persons quite friendly to u.«, why we per-
sist in maintaining these Confederate societies, and why we every
year make public demonstrations of our respect for the " Lost
Cause," and our affection for our dead comrades and attachment
to our living ones. I have been asked, " Why not let the dead
Confederacy rest in peace ? It is dead ; it cannot be revived, and
you are guilty of an anachronism when you seek to put life in the
corpse." My answer is, the cause of the Confederate States was the
cause of civil liberty, under constitutional forms, on this continent.
Those who supported it in arms acted up to the best lights they had,
and maintained their faith and belief at the risk of life and fortune.
That cause never will be a " lost cause," for as long as freemen all
over the world love liberty they will struggle for it, and, if need be,
fight for it, and they will respect the people who dared, at such great
cost, to stand in defence of it against overwhelming odds and irre-
sistible force. By the conventions of Appomattox and Denham
Station we agreed to " return to our homes and obey the laws in
force there," but by those military treaties it was expressly agreed
that we should retain our swords, and without that stipulation no
surrender would have been made by either Lee or Johnston. The
sword was the insignium of the soldier — the emblem of our right
and the outward mark of the respect which we had won. It indi-
cated our reserved right of self-defence, of our honor, of our prop-
erty and our institutions.

The parole was the certificate given by the conquerors to the
conquered of honorable service in honorable war.

As soon as peace returned the first question that met us was as to
what was to be our position m the future development of the

Were we to live as unconvicted rebels and go down to dishonored

430 Southern Historical Society Papers.

.graves as felons who had vainl}'' attempted to destroy the Union, the
sole sanctuary and safeguard of liberty to mankind, and were we to
transmit to our posterity the tainted blood of unhung traitors and
our children bearing the burden of names branded with ignominy
and crime? Or were we to be considered honorable soldiers of a
war illustrated by the greatest gallantry, the highest chivalry, the
brightest genius that the English-speaking race have ever exhibited ?

Were we to be regarded by our contemporaries — the gallant sol-
diers of the successful side — as their equals in patriotism and purity
of motive, and by succeeding generations as worthy of places beside
the armies of the Union ? These were not merely sentimental ques-
tions. They were pressing and vital ones, upon the answer to which
our future welfare and happiness largely depended.

As outcasts we would rapidly degenerate into the outlaws of the
community, and would be thrust aside as unworthy of respect and
debarred an equal opportunity of earning the suppoft of ourselves
and those dear to us. As respected citizens of the State and the
Union we would live happily among our people, would receive proofs
of their confidence and esteem, and leave to our children the price-
less heritage of honored fame and name. To Marylanders these
questions were more vital than to those who had their own State
organizations to justify them. We had no defence except the law of
war as defined by and practiced under the law of nations. And it
was of overwhelming necessity that our position should be ascer-
tained to be that of soldiers, and not of rebels and traitors.

The question came home to me personally in a very pressing way.
I was under indictment in the Federal and State courts for treason
in committing acts of war in the Sharpsburg and Gettysburg cam-
paigns. I knew perfectly well what the law was. The only doubt
was as to how far the courts of the successful side would give the
unsuccessful side the benefit of it. Rebellion is insurrection against
lawful government, which is unlawful in itself, in which every one
who assists, aids or abets it is equally guilty, and personally respon-
sible to the law for his crime, and which has no legal consequences,
and can have none, for it is against all law. After it is suppressed
tl)ere only remain the criminal trial and the punishment. War is a
status between nations, countries or parties. As soon as it occurs, it
changes at once the relation of every person subject to either party;
each one becomes bound to obey his own country, and ceases to be
personally responsible for actions committed by command of its
authority, civil or military. All the people on one side become

The Maryland Confederate Monument at Gettysburg. 431

legally enemies to all those on the other side, and no connection or
communication is lawful between them unless by permission of their
respective authorities. All business ceases, all compacts are dissolved
between them, and they are as if they existed on separate planets.
Therefore if the war between the States was determined to have been
rebellion, every citizen of the Confederate States who had aided it
would have been guilty of treason and liable to the law for his

All official acts done by civil officers of the Confederate govern-
ment, or of the States, judgments of courts, protests of commercial
paper, probate of wills — every act necessary in civilized society to
be done by officials — would have been void, and everything would
have been in chaos. But if that war was held to be civil war, with
all the legal consequences of public war, then there was no trea-
son and no penalty for it — no personal responsibility for acts of law-
ful war. All the transactions of the governments, city, county and
State, would be recognized and affirmed, and society would go on
undisturbed in the status of peace, which would ensue upon the ces-
sation of war.

I prepared and delivered the first argument, I believe, which was
delivered anywhere, at the October term, 1868, before the Court of
Appeals of Maryland, to establish the position that the contest had
been war and not rebellion, and had produced the legal consequences
that result from war, and that, therefore, we had not been rebels nor
traitors, and could not, under the law, be held responsible as such.
The same views were afterwards pressed upon the Chief Justice of
the Supreme Court of the United States in the proceedings against
ex-President Davis by Charles O'Conor, and Mr. "Davis was never

Nor was any man ever tried anywhere in any Federal Court for
treason. The law of the United States, as declared by the executive
and judicial departments for eighty years, had settled the fact that
resistance by any great body of people, controlling a large territory for
a considerable time against the government which they were en-
deavoring to throw off, was war and not rebellion, and must be treated
as war, with all the legal consequences of war. As O'Conor said,
" Washington might have failed, Kosciusko did fail," but neither of
them could have been treated, under the civilized code of nations, as
traitors. The revolutions of the South American republics and of
Greece were so treated by the Federal government. Mr. Webster,
in his Bunker Hill oration, in 1825, had declared that the battle of

432 Southern Historical Society Papers.

Bunker Hill marked the dividing line between rebellion and civil war,
between treason and war.

" It created," he said, " at once a state of open public war. There
could no longer be a question of proceeding against individuals as
guilty of treason or rebellion." So Mr. Charles Francis Adams, the
American minister to England, in June, 1861, wrote to his govern-
ment that the recognition by the European powers of belligerent
rights in the Confederate States relieved the government of the
United States of responsibility for any misdeeds of the Confederates
towards foreign persons or property. As soon as hostilities began,
England and France recognized the Confederate States as entitled to
rights of belligerents in lawful war. The Union government per-
mitted flags of truce and exchange of prisoners, and for four years
the status of war was self-evident, and admitted by all the world.
As soon as the war began, the United States claimed and exercised
the right of blockade, which, as it affects foreign nations, can only
be exercised in a war. As soon as peace was restored, the civil
courts in the Union were forced, by the inexorable logic of history,
of law and of justice, to decide anywhere all sorts of questions, in
all sorts of cases, that the war was a civil war, with all the legal con-
sequences of public war.

The Supreme Court of Maine led off in deciding in an insurance
suit between citizens of Maine, that a capture by the Sumter was a
capture in war, and that Semmes's flag was a lawful flag, and not a
piratical one. The Supreme Court of the United States also held
in a suit against a Massachusetts Insurance Company, that the Con-
federate flag was a lawful one, and a Confederate capture on the high
seas a capture in war.

The Federal courts everywhere have established the same propo-

The Supreme Court, in numberless cases, has held that the war
was a civil war, with all the consequences of public war. A New
Hampshire man sued an Arkansas man, who pleaded the statute of
limitation to a debt created before the war. The court held that the
war stopped the running of the statute.

A New York man was sued on liabilities created during the war by
a partnership, of which he was a member in Mobile. The court held
that the war dissolved the partnership. In another case it has de-
cided that a corporation chartered by the Confederate State of Ala-
bama continued to exist after Alabama returned to the Union, and it
exists now. Numerous attempts have been made to hold Confede-

The Maryland Confederate Monument at Gettysburg. 433

rate soldiers civilly liable for damages for trespass committed during
war, but the Federal courts and the Supreme Court have held that
no such liability was incurred.

As a matter of historical fact and of legal truth, First Manassas
destroyed whatever possibility there ever was of the war being
treated as rebellion by the successful side, or of our ever being con-
sidered as traitors.

As soon as the struggle in arms for independence ended, this strug-
gle of logic and reason for our recognition as honorable soldiers
began, and we have established our position before the world and to
the end of time.

We are faithful citizens of the Union and supporters of the Consti-
tution, and we are so because we are recognized as equal citizens,
with equal rights to respect and recognition.

We are making the South to blossom as the rose, and her increase
in power, population, and wealth in the future will be simply incredi-

The census of 1900 will see Texas outvoting New York, and Ala-
bama passing Pennsylvania in power. When people have lost every-
thing save honor, as we had done in 1865, our first duty became to
preserve that untarnished. The Union had power, wealth, art,
poetry, the press, the histories, and the school-books to impress their
story upon future generations. We had naught but our own invin-
cible courage and endurance and self-respect, and we have never
wavered in the assertion of our right to be respected. While, for years,
the successful side were offering high rewards for those who would
leave us, not five Confederate soldiers of renown have deserted.

Online LibrarySouthern Historical Society. cnSouthern Historical Society papers (Volume 14) → online text (page 45 of 61)