Wayland Fuller Dunaway.

Reminiscences of a Rebel online

. (page 2 of 6)
Online LibraryWayland Fuller DunawayReminiscences of a Rebel → online text (page 2 of 6)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the 40th, the 47th, the 55th, and the 22d Vir-
ginia. 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 Ma-
jor-General McCall, who in the fading twi-
light 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

The First Brigade did not again come
under fire until we reached Malvern Hill,
the i st of July. There McClellan had skil-
fully 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 in-
spirited 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 cap-
ture 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 enjoy-
able respite from marching and fight-
ing, 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 reenforced by the remains of McClellan's
army that had been transported from Harri-
son'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 Chicka-
hominy 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 suffocat-
ing 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 pros-
pect of an engagement, he did not relish the
thought of their being found upon him if he
should be killed. In the afternoon we en-
countered 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 hos-
tile lines were so close that we could hear the
Yankees talking, but could not distinguish the
words. When daylight came they were far

Toward the latter part of the month Pope's
army occupied a position near Warrenton in
Fanquier 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 im-
practicable; 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 Mary-
land, just before the battle of Sharpsburg, and
again at Chancellorsville the following year,
and each time it was advantageous to the Con-
federate arms. These two men had the ut-


most confidence in each other, and either felt
safe while the other was making an independ-
ent 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 re-
minds me of Abe Lincoln and the hats. When
he became President, two enterprising mer-
chants 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 Rap-
pahannock, 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 af-



fectionately 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 Fanquier,
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 Thorough-
fare 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 re-
plenished. 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 sleep.

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 Manas-
sas 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. Wil-
liam Brown was in command. By his death
the control of the company was devolved upon

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 ack-
nowledgments. "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 Chancel-
lorsville, and the naked blade was thrown
away on that ensanguined field.

I returned to where the regiment was stand-
ing 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 sol-
dier's blanket, we heaped above them the turf
and clods. In neither army could there have
been found two braver men. Boon compan-
ions 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 se-
lected 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 know-
ing 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 re-
gained 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 Confed-
erate 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.

peneral 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 Jack-
son, 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 Chan-
tilly 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 diffi-
cult 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 vic-
tims 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 regi-
ment 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, de-
manded 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 rea-
son I can give for the immunity is, that those
were "War times."

The National army returned to Washing-
ton, and together with all the forces in and
around that city was again put under the com-
mand of General McClellan.

From Chantilly we marched to the vicinity
of Leesburg and went into camp near a beauti-
ful 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. Beauti-
ful 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 de-



clivity of the Virginia shore. There came
unbidden to my mind some lines of one of
Charles Wesley's hymns:

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 predic-
tion 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 Con-
federate money, although, no doubt, the mer-
chants 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 en-
trenchments, 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 inter-
lacing 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 be-
ing torn by plunging shots and shells from so
many enfilading directions, were persuaded to
surrender. As we were slowly struggling up-
ward I looked and with a joyful feeling of re-
lief 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 artillery.

Having performed what was necessary to
secure the fruits of this remarkable achieve-
ment, it was of the utmost importance that we
should hurry away to reenforce Longstreet's
corps, which was confronted by the northern
army at Sharpsburg. Passing through Shep-
herdstown 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 oppos-
ing hosts confronted each other without com-
ing 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.

— Byron.

ON the 20th of September McClellan
sent one of his divisions over into Vir-
ginia, with the purpose, I suppose, of
making a reconnoissance in force. It was at-
tacked 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 oc-
casion 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, be-
ing 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, Jack-
son's corps retired to Bunker Hill between
Winchester and Martinsburg, and there we
had for more than two months an unusual sea-
son of rest and recuperation. I remember
one day of special enjoyment. Obeying an or-
der, 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 ap-
proach of the enemy. We halted where there
was a grove on one side of the road and a dwel-
ling-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 leav-



ing 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 ap-
proach. The report would have been re-
peated 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 Fredericks-
burg, the ever-watchful Lee, having left the
valley, had occupied the heights on the other
side. Jackson's corps by rapid marches ar-
rived at Fredericksburg on the nth of De-
cember, none too soon for the impending con-


flict, 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 defen-

2 4 5 6

Online LibraryWayland Fuller DunawayReminiscences of a Rebel → online text (page 2 of 6)