Wayland Fuller Dunaway.

Reminiscences of a Rebel online

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tall, and strong, named John. The owner
sold him to me for Confederate money, know-
ing that the sale bore close resemblance to a
gift. After a night's rest I set out for the
army. Riding in the wake of the retiring
sons of Illinois, I recrossed the river at Bow-
ler's, and on the second day rejoined the
brigade near Fredericksburg. After having
been chased by the Yankees, a feeling of
safety came over me as I mingled again with
my veteran companions.

That was not to be my last experience with
the 8th Illinois. It was they who in less than
two months afterward took me prisoner in
Maryland. Some of them were riding horses
that they had stolen, — no; impressed, — from
my county. They showed me their repeat-
ing Spencer carbines, and asked that if I
should be exchanged I would tell the 9th
Virginia cavalry that they would be glad to
meet them. The lapse of fifty years has
made old men of them and me. I have for-


given the wrongs those brave fellows inflicted
on my country, and I would be glad to meet
them to talk over the stirring events of the



Hand to hand, and foot to foot;
Nothing there, save death, was mute;
Stroke, and thrust, and flash, and cry
For quarter, or for victory,
Mingled with the volleying thunder.

— Byron.

I COME now to relate my experience of
the disastrous invasion of Pennsyl-
The first week in June the commands of
Longstreet and Ewell began the northward
movement, but Hill's corps remained at
Fredericksburg to deceive the Federal com-
mander and watch his movements. It was
not until the middle of the month that Hooker
divined Lee's purpose and withdrew his army
from our front, leaving us free to follow the
rest of the army. Marching through Cul-
peper, we crossed the mountains through
Chester's Gap and struck out for the ford of



the Potomac at Williamsport. I had four
times waded the river, but this time, being on
horseback, I escaped a wetting by holding my
feet high on the saddle. My spirits would
not have been so light and gay, if I could have
foreknown that I should not lay eyes on the
river again until the war should be over.
Nothing of moment occurred while we passed
across Maryland into Pennsylvania.

Tuesday night, June 30, our division
bivouacked near Cashtown, about eight miles
northwest of Gettysburg. The next morning
Colonel Brockenbrough was informed that
Pettigrew's brigade was on the way to Gettys-
burgh to obtain shoes for the men, and was
ordered to follow as a support in the contin-
gency of need, none of us knowing that the
advance of Meade's army occupied a strong
position between us and the town. I was
riding with Colonel Brockenbrough at the
head of the column when we met Pettigrew
and his men returning. He informed us that
the enemy was ahead and that as he had not
received orders to bring on an engagement he



was coming back to report. As to the source
of his information I had no doubt, for by his
side was a man on horseback, bearing an um-
brella, and dressed in a suit of civil clothes.
After a brief consultation between the com-
manders of the two brigades I was ordered to
ride back quickly to Heth's headquarters, re-
port the condition of affairs, and bring back
his instructions. With a brusque manner,
he said, "Tell General Pettigrew not to butt
too hard, or he'll butt his brains out." I
translated his command into politer terms,
and we started again toward Gettysburg,
knowing that Heth would follow with the
other four brigades of the division.

We found the enemy posted on a ridge just
beyond Willoughby's Run, and deploying on
both sides of the road we went into the en-
gagement. We had the honor, — if honor it
may be called, — of losing and shedding the
first blood in one of the most famous battles
of the world. In war things sometimes just
happen: the Army of the Potomac and the
Army of Northern Virginia came into col-


lision at a place where neither commander
designed a general engagement. Pender's
division formed on the right of Heth's and
both pressed forward in the face of volleying
musketry and thundering cannon. We found
out afterward that the opposing force con-
sisted of the three divisions of the First Corps
under the command of General Reynolds.
Right bravely did they fight, and being
driven from the ridge they formed again on
Seminary Ridge, determined to hold it. As
our men, on the other hand, were no less de-
termined to take it, the contest became furious
and slaughterous. Our loss was heavy, but
did not equal that which w T e inflicted. At
last they gave way, and we pursued them to
the edge of the town, through the streets of
which they hastened until they lodged among
the rocky fastness of Cemetery Ridge. I
was in all the great battles, from Seven Pines
to Chancellorsville, but never had I witnessed
a fight so hot and stubborn. On a field of
battle the dead and mortally wounded are
usually scattered promiscuously on the



ground, but here I counted more than fifty
fallen heroes lying in a straight line. They
belonged, as well as I now remember, to the
150th Pennsylvania. When a regiment stands
its ground until it suffers so great a loss, it
deserves honor for its courage, for the
wounded must have numbered as many as two
hundred and fifty. It is a rare thing that a
regiment loses so many men in one engage-

At the same time that we were struggling
with the First Corps of Meade's army the
divisions of Rhodes and Early on our left
were driving the Eleventh Corps before them.
But of the gallant part they bore in the battle
I make no mention, inasmuch as I am not
writing a general history, but only jotting
down the things I saw, a small part of which
I was.

When the battle had ended and the brigade
was standing in line close to the town, Colonel
Brockenbrough and I occupied positions in
rear of the line; and near us were Capt.
Austin Brockenbrough and Lt. Addison Hall


Crittenden. First one and then the other of
these two gallant officers fell mortally
wounded, although no Yankee was in sight
It was the work of sharpshooters concealed in
a large wooden building on our left. I took
the liberty of causing a company to fire a vol-
ley into the house and that put a stop to the
murderous villainy.

It was nearly midnight when the brigade
fell back a short distance to seek some rest
after the severe toils of the day; but notwith-
standing the lateness of the hour and our
tired condition I proposed to Colonel Brock-
enbrough that we should look up these two
men who were especially dear to us, for Aus-
tin was his cousin and Addison was mine.
We knew that they had been carried on
stretchers from the place where they had been
wounded. Our only guides as we slowly
rode along in the dark were the fires that in-
dicated the location of the improvised hos-
pitals of the numerous brigades. Inquiring
our way, we at last came to the hospital of our
brigade where Mr. Meredith, chaplain of the



47th, conducted us to our friends who were
lying upon pallets of straw. They knew that
their wounds were mortal, but they faced
"the last enemy" with the same intrepidity
they had manifested on many a sanguinary
field. If I had yielded to my emotions, I
would have wept over Addison even as a
woman weeps. He was named for my
mother's only brother; he was pure in heart;
and while he was gentle and sweet in manners
and disposition, he was as brave as any man
who followed Lee across the Potomac.

By some critics General Lee has been cen-
sured because he did not continue the battle
and attempt to capture Cemetery Ridge on
the evening of the first day. I think that the
criticism is unjust; for, in the first place, the
attempt would have been of doubtful issue,
and then if he had tried and succeeded, what
advantage would have been gained? It was
clearly Meade's role to act on the defensive
and select the arena upon which the decisive
contest must be waged. If Cemetery Ridge
had been taken, instead of hurrying his other


corps to that position to form a junction with
the First and Eleventh, he would have retired
behind Pipe Creek, or chosen some other
ground as easily tenable as Cemetery Ridge.
The state of things was such that Lee could
not retreat without a general engagement, and
he could not enter upon it except upon dis-
advantageous conditions. The tables were
turned: as the Yankees had fought at Fred-
ericksburg, so the Rebels had to fight in

On the second day Heth's division was not
engaged, but occupied the ground near that
on which it had fought the day before, close
by the seminary in which General Lee had
his headquarters. In the afternoon while
Longstreet's corps was furiously fighting to
wrest Little Round Top from the enemy, he
came unattended to where I was standing.
Looking down the valley of Plum Run,
which separated the armies, there could be
seen the flashing of the guns under the pall of
smoke that covered the combatants. Now
and then making a slight change of position



he viewed the scene through his field-glass.
His noble face was not lit up with a smile as
it was when I saw it after the victory at
Chancellorsville, but bore the expression of
painful anxiety. Ah, if only his men could
seize and hold that coveted elevation! It
was the key to the situation, and victory would
have been assured. But that battle was lost,
although the divisions of Longstreet per-
formed prodigies of valor. Then and there
the issue was decided.

That night Heth's division moved farther
to the right. Being directed by Colonel
Brockenbrough to ride ahead and pick out a
place for his brigade, I went forward in the
darkness, ignorant of the lay of the land, until
the command to halt was given to me in an
undertone. I did not see the man, but was
informed that I was just about to ride through
the line of Confederate skirmishers, and was
cautioned to ride back as quietly as I could,
because the Yankee skirmishers were not far
in front.

On the morning of the 3d of July, although


Ewell's corps on the left had waged a bloody
but unsuccessful battle, not a shot was fired by
Hill's corps in the center, nor by Longstreet's
on the right; but the final struggle was yet to
be made. More than a hundred cannon
were placed in position, along the line of
which lay the eighteen thousand men, who
had been selected to make the assault upon
Cemetery Ridge. Before the firing began
Colonel Brockenbrough told me that when
the cannonading should cease we should
make the charge.

About one o'clock the guns opened, and
for two dreadful hours pounded the adver-
sary's position, being answered by almost as
many of his guns. There has never been
such a war of artillery on the American con-
tinent. Surely this was an exhibition of the
"Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious
War." It was hoped that so terrible a bom-
bardment would demoralize the enemy and
thus prepare the way for a successful on-
slaught of the infantry. During its continu-
ance we lay among the guns, and as soon as



their clamor hushed sprang to our feet and
began rushing toward the enemy. We had
to descend the slope of Seminary Ridge, cross
a valley, and ascend the steep slope of Ceme-
tery Ridge, a distance of nearly a mile. If
while we were crossing the valley the artillery
behind us had been firing at the enemy over
our heads, our task would have been less dan-
gerous and more hopeful, but unwisely and
unfortunately the caissons had become almost
exhausted. As we were ascending the emi-
nence, where cannon thundered in our faces
and infantry four lines deep stood ready to
deliver their volleys, I noticed that the line
of the Confederates resembled the arc of a
circle; in other words, the right and the left
were more advanced than the center, and
were, therefore, the first to become engaged.
Brockenbrough's brigade formed the extreme
left of the attacking column.

The fame of Pickett's charge on the right
has resounded through the world. The Vir-
ginians on the left achieved less glory, but
they did their best. We came so close to the


serried ranks of the Yankees that I emptied
my revolver upon them, and we were still
advancing when they threw forward a
column to attack our unprotected left flank.
I feel no shame in recording that out of this
corner the men without waiting for orders
turned and fled, for the bravest soldiers can-
not endure to be shot at simultaneously from
the front and side. They knew that to re-
main, or to advance, meant wholesale death
or captivity. The Yankees had a fair oppor-
tunity to kill us all, and why they did not do
it I cannot tell. Our loss was less than it
was in the first day's battle. As in our
orderly and sullen retreat we were ascending
the ridge from which we had set out, I heard
the men saying mournfully, "If Old Jack had
been here, it wouldn't have been like this";
and though I said nothing I entertained the
same opinion.

Suppose he had been there to turn the
enemy's left flank as he did at Gaines' Mill,
and again at Chancellorsville!

As I look back upon that final assault at



Gettysburg, it seems strange to me that Gen-
eral Lee should have sent eighteen thousand
men to dislodge a hundred thousand from a
position much stronger than that which Well-
ington occupied at Waterloo. Perhaps he
miscalculated the effect of the cannonade;
perhaps he reposed too much confidence in
his soldiers. When all was over he found no
fault with them, but most magnanimously
took the blame of defeat upon himself and
endured great mental suffering. Adverse
criticism is swallowed up in sympathy for
that peerless man.

It was a drawn battle. The Army of
Northern Virginia had not been beaten, but
it had failed in the attempt to beat the Army
of the Potomac. All day long on the 4th of
July it remained in view of Meade's army,
but he dared not assail it.

There was nothing left but to return to
Virginia. On the night of the 4th of July
the army began to retreat, and on the 7th it
halted near Hagerstown and offered battle,
which Meade refused. It seems to me that


he did not press the pursuit as closely and
fiercely as he might have done; perhaps he
was respecting the valor that he had lately



A prison is a house of care,
A place where none can thrive,
A touchstone true to try a friend,
A grave for men alive.
— Inscription on the Old Prison of Edinburg.

AFTER falling back from Hagers-
town the army took up a strong posi-
tion near the Potomac, extending from
Williamsport to Falling Waters. On the
night of the 13th of July the retreat to Vir-
ginia began. The division of Heth and that
of Pender, now commanded by Pettigrew,
marched all night long in a drenching rain
and over a very muddy road toward Falling
Waters, where the engineers had constructed
a pontoon bridge across the river. When the
morning dawned we were about two miles
from the river, and, so far as I know, there
was no reason why we should not have kept

on and followed the rest of the army over the



bridge. Instead of that we halted and
formed in line of battle across the road, fac-
ing northward, Heth on the right and Petti-
grew on the left, well located for defense,
being on rising ground and having a valley
in front. It was supposed that our cavalry-
were between us and the enemy, (which was
a false supposition,) and, contrary to well-
established military rules, no skirmishers
were sent to the front. The command was
given to stack arms and rest, and the men ex-
hausted by fatigue lay down on the wet
ground behind the line of muskets and soon
went to sleep. The guns were wet and
muddy and many of them were either un-
loaded or unfit for action. Giving my horse
to Charles to be held in the rear until called
for, I too fell asleep. We were in no condi-
tion for anything except the surprise that
startled us from our transitory slumbers.

We were awakened by the firing of the
enemy. By the time that the muskets could
be retaken from the stack, squadrons of
cavalry were upon us. These were easily re-



pulsed, not, however, until riding down in
front of our line they had mortally wounded
General Pettigrew at the head of his division.
General Heth, riding rapidly along behind
our line, was crying out, "Keep cool, men,
keep cool!" But judging from the tone of
his voice and his manner of riding, he seemed
to me to be the only hot man on the field.

The color-bearer of the 47th exclaimed,
"Come on, boys; it's nothing but cavalry,"
and ran forward into the valley, showing
more bravery than intelligence or discipline,
for infantry does not charge cavalry, and he
had no right to advance without an order.
The color-bearers of the other regiments of
the brigades, not to be outdone, likewise ad-
vanced, and some of the bolder spirits fol-
lowed their respective flags. This action was
so unwise that I requested Colonel Brocken-
brough to authorize me to recall these brave
fellows to their original and better position;
but, to my surprise, he directed me to order
all the men to join their colors; and this I
tried to do, but the men would not obey, say-


ing that their muskets were unfit for action.
However, I went myself, though Colonel
Brockenbrough and many men of the brigade
remained behind. I never saw him again.

A spirited contest ensued, which I shall
dignify with the name of the battle of Fall-
ing Waters, for a real battle it was, although
it is not mentioned in the histories that I have
read, and the number engaged was small.
On one side were portions of the four regi-
ments of Brockenbrough's brigade, with their
bullet-pierced battle flags, and on the other
side were dismounted men of the 8th Illinois
cavalry regiment armed with their seven-
shooting carbines. There were officers pres-
ent who held higher rank than mine, but, as
they knew me to be of the brigade staff, they
permitted me to exercise authority over the
entire force. For an hour we held the Yan-
kees in check at close quarters.

While the action was in progress I ob-
served that one of our enemies was protected
by a large tree in the field, from behind which
he stepped frequently and quickly to fire





upon us. As he seemed to be taking special
aim at me, I requested one of our men, who
had a beautiful Colt's rifle, to give me his
gun, and I shot at the man the next time he
emerged from behind his natural protection.
He was not killed, but he darted back with-
out shooting. I handed back the gun. Then,
with my right arm around the man, I was
with my left arm pointing out the enemy
when he fired at us and broke the arm of my
comrade that was pressed between us.

Seeing another regiment of cavalry in
front, hearing their bugle sound the charge,
and knowing that our ammunition was nearly
exhausted, I directed all the men to retire as
quickly as possible to their former position.
I had not once looked back, and I supposed
that the two divisions were where we had left
them; but they, taking advantage of our de-
fense, had gone across the river. All of a
sudden it flashed through my mind that we
could neither fight nor run. Further resist-
ance was vain; escape, impossible. I felt
angry because we had been sacrificed, and


chagrined because we were about to be cap-
tured. I had known all along that I might
be killed or wounded, but it had never en-
tered my mind that I might be made a
prisoner. As we were scattered upon the
field and the squadrons came charging among
us, a group of men gathered about me were
asking, "Captain, what shall we do?"
"Stand still," I replied, "and cast your mus-
kets upon the ground." At the same time
I unbuckled my useless pistol and sword and
cast them from me. After we had surrend-
ered, I regretfully record that a cavalryman
discharged his pistol in our midst, but for-
tunately no one of us was struck. An officer,
indignant at an act so cowardly and barbarous,
threatened him with death if he should do
the like again. That day the Yankees cap-
tured on this field and in other places about
thirty-five officers and seven hundred men.

The prisoners were escorted to the rear,
huddled together, and surrounded by a
cordon of armed men. That night I slept
with Lt. W. Peyton Moncure on the blanket



of one prisoner and covered by that of the
other. In the afternoon of the next day, as
I was standing near the living wall that sur-
rounded us engaged in conversation with Col.
William S. Christian, of the 55th Virginia,
and Capt. Lee Russell, of North Carolina,
some Federal officers approached and began
to talk with us. One of them was the colonel
of a New York regiment, (I think it was the
i22d) ; another was the captain of one of his
companies, and another was an officer on the
staff of General Meade. The Colonel in-
vited us to take supper with him and some of
his friends, and the kind and unexpected pro-
posal was gladly accepted, for recently we
had had nothing but hard-tack to satiate our
hunger. At sunset he sent a guard to con-
duct us to his tent, which was large and com-
fortable. We found the table well supplied
with a variety of savory eatables, and we were
struck by the contrast of the tent and the
table with those of the Rebels.

The Blue and the Gray gathered around
that hospitable board as gleeful as boys, and


as friendly as men who had been companions
from childhood. The supper being ended, a
polite negro who looked like an Old Virginia
darky, and who acted in the two-fold ca-
pacity of cook and butler, cleared away the
dishes and supplied their place with cigars
and bottles of liquor of several varieties.
More than once or twice the bottles passed
from hand to hand, and in order to prevent
drunkenness I was cautious to pour very
sparingly into my tumbler. In the midst of
this hilarious scene our Yankee host proposed
a health to President Lincoln, which we of
the Gray declined to drink; whereupon I of-
fered to substitute a joint health to Abe Lin-
coln and Jeff. Davis, which they of the Blue
rejected. I then proposed the toast, "The
early termination of the war to the satisfac-
tion of all concerned," and that was cordially
drunk by all. It was nearly midnight when
the Colonel told us that if we would promise
to go back and deliver ourselves up, he would
not call a guard to escort us; and we gave him
our word, and bade him good night. There



we were in the darkness, our limbs unfettered,
our hearts longing for freedom, no Yankee
eye upon us; and it is not strange that there
flitted across our minds the temptation to
steal away and strike out for Virginia; but
though our bodies were for the moment free,
our souls were bound by something stronger
than manacles of steel, — our word of honor.
We groped our way back, entered the circle
of soldiers who were guarding our fellow-
prisoners, and went to sleep on the ground,
while our late entertainers reposed upon
comfortable cots.

The next morning, July 16, we were hur-
ried along by an unfeeling cavalry escort to
a station near Harper's Ferry, and there put
into box cars strongly guarded. On our
arrival in Washington we were conducted
along the streets to the Old Capitol prison.
"To what vile uses" had that building come!
It was superintended by a renegade Vir-
ginian, whose name I am not sorry that I
have forgotten ; but let me do him the justice
to say that he behaved courteously and gave


us a plenty to eat. The guard of the prison
was the 178th New York regiment, composed
of insolent Germans, some of whom could
not speak the English language. I came
near losing my life by the bayonet of one of
them, because he could not understand a re-
quest that I made of him. The house was
infested by insects whose name I will not call;
but the reader will recognize their nature

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Online LibraryWayland Fuller DunawayReminiscences of a Rebel → online text (page 4 of 6)