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73



REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL



N.



REMINISCENCES OF
A REBEL



BY



THE REV. WAYLAND FULLER DUNAWAY, D.D.

Formerly Captain of Co. I, 40th Va. Regt.,
Army of Northern Virginia



" Omnibus kostes
Reddite nos populis — civile avertite be Hum."

— Lucan.




NEW YORK

THE NEALE PUBLISHING COMPANY

1913



p. (jo -J






a



Copyright, 19 13, by
Wayland Fuller Dunaway



f-r:i^



&CIA857794 ^



PREFACE

Notwithstanding the title of this volume, I
do not admit that I was ever in any true sense
a rebel, neither do I intend any disrespect
when I call the Northern soldiers Yankees.
The use of these terms is only a concession to
the appellations that were customary during
the war.

It is my purpose to record some recollec-
tions of the Civil War, and incidentally to
furnish some historical notices of the brigade
to which I was attached. Here and there I
have expressed, also, some opinions concern-
ing the great events of that dreadful period,
some criticisms of the conduct of battles and
retreats, and some estimates of the abilities of
prominent generals.

The incentive to write is of a complex
nature. There is a pleasure, especially to the
aged, in reviving the memories of the past

5



6 PREFACE

and narrating them to attentive hearers.
Moreover, I hope that this book will furnish
instruction to those who have grown up since
the war, and entertainment to older persons
who participated in its struggles, privations,
and sorrows. And besides, the future his-
torian of that gigantic conflict may perhaps
find here some original contribution to the
accumulating material upon which he must
draw. He will need the humble narratives
of inconspicuous participants as well as the
pretentious attempts of the partial historians
who have preceded him. The river flows
into the sea, but the river itself is supplied by
creeks and rivulets and springs.

W. F. D.



REMINISCENCES OF A
REBEL

CHAPTER I

"Lay down the axe; fling by the spade;
Leave in its track the toiling plow;
The rifle and the bayonet-blade

For arms like yours were fitter now;
And let the hands that ply the pen

Quit the light task, and learn to wield
The horseman's crooked brand, and rein
The charger on the battle field."

— Bryant.

IN the fall of the year i860, when I was
in my nineteenth year, I boarded the
steamboat Virginia^ — the only one then
running on the Rappahannock river, — and
went to Fredericksburg on my way to the
University of Virginia. It was my expecta-
tion to spend two sessions in the classes of the
professors of law, John B. Minor and James

7



8 REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL

P. Holcombe, and then, having been grad-
uated, to follow that profession in Lancaster,
my native county.

The political sky had assumed a threaten-
ing aspect. The minds of the Southern peo-
ple had been inflamed by the insurrectionary
raid of John Brown upon Harper's Ferry,
especially because it had been approved by
some Northern oflicials, and because the sur-
render of some fugitives from justice, who
had taken part in that murderous adventure,
had been refused by Ohio and Iowa. The
election of Abraham Lincoln added fuel to
the flame. Having been nominated by the
Republican party, he was constitutionally
chosen President of the United States, al-
though he had not received a majority of the
popular vote. The election was ominous,
because it was sectional, Mr. Lincoln having
carried all the Northern states but not one of
the Southern. The intensest excitement pre-
vailed, while passion blew the gale and held
the rudder too.

While I believed in the right of secession



REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL 9

I deprecated the exercise of that right, be-
cause I loved the Union and the flag under
which my ancestors had enjoyed the blessings
of civil and religious liberty. I did not think
that Lincoln's election was a sufficient cause
for dissolving the Union, for he had an-
nounced no evil designs concerning Southern
institutions; and, even if he had, he was
powerless to put them into execution. He
could have done nothing without the consent
of Congress, and his party was in a minority
both in the Senate and in the House of Repre-
sentatives.

Before Christmas South Carolina, not car-
ing for consequences and blind to the horrible
future, passed an ordinance of secession; and
her example was followed in quick succession
by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia,
Louisiana, and Texas. These seven states
organized the Southern Confederacy, of
which Jefferson Davis was inaugurated Presi-
dent, February 18, 1861. In April Fort
Sumter was captured, and on the 15th of that
month President Lincoln issued a proclama-



lo REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL

tion calling on the remaining states to furnish
their quotas of an army of seventy-five thou-
sand soldiers for the purpose of destroying
the Confederate government. Two days later
the Virginia convention passed an ordinance
of secession. Being compelled to take sides,
the Old Dominion naturally cast her lot with
her Southern sisters. War had begun, — in-
testine war, of whose magnitude and duration
no living man had any adequate conception.

These events conspired with other causes to
infuse in me a martial spirit. The convic-
tion was growing in me that, as my native
state was about to be invaded, I must have a
place in the ranks of her defenders. I was
influenced by speeches delivered by Governor
Floyd, Professor Holcombe, and Dr. Bledsoe,
and still more by the contagious example of
my roommate, William H. Chapman, who
had gone with a company of students to
Harper's Ferry, and had returned. What
brought the conviction to a head was a flag.
One morning in the latter part of April, as I
was walking from my boarding-house to the



REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL ii

University I saw a Confederate banner float-
ing above the rotunda. Some of the students
during the night, surmounting difficulty and
braving danger, had clambered to the summit
and erected there the symbol of a new nation.
I was thrilled by the sight of it as if by an
electric shock. There it was, outstretched by
a bracing northwest wind, flapping defiantly,
arousing patriotic emotion. Unable longer
to refrain, I went as soon as the lecture was
concluded to Professor Minor's residence and
told him I was going to enter the military
service of Virginia. He sought to dissuade
me, but, perceiving that he could not alter my
rash decision, he gave at my request a written
permission to leave his classes.

But how to get home? — that had become a
perplexing question. I could not go the way
I had come, because the Virginia fearful of
capture had ceased to make trips from Fred-
ericksburg to Lancaster, and there was no
railroad to that part of the state. Knowing
that my uncle, Addison Hall, was a member
of the Convention, I determined to take a



12 REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL

train to Richmond and seek his advice. I
felt relieved when he informed me that he
was going the next morning, and that I could
go along with him. We took an early train
to West Point, and being ferried across the
Mattaponi river, obtained from one of his
friends a conveyance to Urbanna. We hired
a sloop to take us to Carter's creek, and thence
we proceeded in a farm wagon to his home in
the village of Kilmarnock. The next morn-
ing he sent me to the home of the Rev. Dr.
Thomas S. Dunaway, my brother, and my
guardian.

In a few days I enlisted in a company that
was being raised by Captain Samuel P. Gres-
ham, who had been a student at the Virginia
Military Institute. And thus the student's
gown was exchanged for the soldier's uniform.

Before we were regularly mustered into
service an expedition was undertaken that
indicated at once the forwardness of our peo-
ple to engage the enemy and their ignorance
of military affairs. The report having been
circulated that a Federal gunboat was lying



REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL 13

in Mill Creek in Northumberland county, its
capture, or destruction, was resolved upon by
about a hundred men, who had assembled
at the county seat of Lancaster. With no
weapons except an old smooth-bore six-pound
cannon, and that loaded with scrap iron gath-
ered from a blacksmith's shop, we proceeded
to Mill Creek and unlimbered on the bank in
plain view of the boat, and distant from it
some two or three hundred yards. I have
always been glad that we had sense enough to
refrain from shooting, for otherwise most of
us would have been killed then and there.
Seeing the hopelessness of an unequal combat,
we retired from the scene somewhat wiser
than when we went. In that instance was not
"discretion the better part of valor"?



CHAPTER II

War, war is still the cry, "War to the knife."

— Byron.

THERE was in the central part of the
county a beautiful grove in which
the Methodists were accustomed to
hold their annual camp-meetings. On ac-
count of its location and the shelter afforded
by its tents it was in 1861 transformed into
a rendezvous of a radically different nature,
the military companies that had been raised
in the county assembling there preparatory to
going into the army. It was there that Cap-
tain Gresham's company, known as the Lacy
Rifles, was formally enrolled by Col. R. A.
Claybrook and Dr. James Simmonds. When
they came to where I stood in the line of men
they declined to enlist me because I appeared
pale and weak on account of recent sickness.
I said, "Do as you like, gentlemen, but I am

X4



REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL 15

going with the boys anyhow." "If you talk
like that," they replied, "we will insert your
name."

Not many days afterward the company as-
sembled at the court-house, and, having sworn
allegiance to the Southern Confederacy, was
duly mustered into its service. In vehicles of
all sorts we drove to Monaskon wharf, where
the schooner Extra was moored to receive us
and to convey us up the Rappahannock river.
As the vessel glided along what a jolly set we
were! — gay as larks, merry as crickets, play-
ful as kittens. There was singing, dancing,
feasting on the palatable provisions supplied
by the loving friends we were leaving, with
no thought of captivity, wounds, nor death.
Ignorant of war, we were advancing toward
its devouring jaws with such conduct as be-
came an excursion of pleasure. The only
arms we then possessed were two-edged dag-
gers made of rasps in blacksmith shops, and
with these we were going to hew our way to
victory through the serried ranks of the in-
vading army ! Ah, well ! we knew better what



i6 REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL

war was after we had become the seasoned
veterans of many campaigns.

When the vessel had proceeded up the river
as far as Fort Lowry it rounded to, because a
solid shot ricochetted before the bow, and we
were transferred to the steamboat Virginia,
which carried us to Fredericksburg. Pass-
ing along the streets, attracting attention by
our neat gray uniforms, we marched out to
the fair-grounds, and rejoiced to obtain the
friendly shelter of the cattle stalls. They
were not as comfortable as the chambers of
our homes — but what of it? Were we not
soldiers now? It is wonderful and blessed
how human nature can accommodate itself to
altered environments.

We were supplied with smoothbore, muz-
zle-loading, Springfield muskets, small leather
boxes for percussion caps, and larger ones
for cartridges. For the information of the
present generation let it be explained that
the cartridge was made of tough paper con-
taining powder in one end and the ounce ball
of lead in the other: and the manner of load-



REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL 17

ing was this : the soldier tore off with his teeth
the end, poured the powder into the muzzle,
and then rammed down the ball; this being
done, a cap was placed on the nipple of the
breech, and the gun was ready to be fired.
That musket is antiquated now, but it did
much execution in former days.

Maj. J. H. Lacy, for whom the company
was named, presented an elegant silk banner,
which at Captain Gresham's request I re-
ceived in the best language at my command.
It was never borne in battle, for it was not
companies but regiments that carried banners.
There was but one flag to a regiment, and that
was always carried in the center. Twice a
day there was a course of drilling in tactical
evolutions and in the handling of the muskets.
At first I was hardly strong enough to sustain
the fatigue, but I rapidly grew stronger under
the combined influence of exercise, sleeping
in the open air, and the excitement of a mili-
tary life. The war did me harm in many
ways, but it was the means of increasing my
capacity for bodily exertion. During the



i8 REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL

encampment at Fredericksburg many of my
spare moments were spent in reading the New
Testament and Pollok's "Course of Time."

We did not long remain in Fredericksburg;
but being transported on cars to Brooke Sta-
tion we marched up to camp Chappawamsic,
near a Baptist church of that name. There
the Lacy Rifles became Company F in the
47th regiment of Virginia Volunteers, com-
manded by Col. G. W. Richardson of Henrico
county, who had been a member of the Vir-
ginia Convention that passed the ordinance of
secession. He was a brave and patriotic
gentleman, but unskilled in military affairs;
and he did not long retain the command.

From the summer of 1861 until the spring
of 1862 we spent the time in company and
regimental drill, and in picketing the shore
of the Potomac river day and night, lest the
enemy should effect a landing and take us
unaware. During that time no shots were
exchanged with the enemy, because no land-
ing was attempted. The only fighting that
we saw was at Dumfries where there was a



REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL 19

Confederate fort, to which we marched to act
as a support in case the Yankees came ashore.
Three vessels of the Federal navy passed
slowly down the river, between which and the
fort there was a brief but lively cannonade;
but so far as I know there was no resulting
damage to either side.

On Sunday, July 21, we heard the boom-
ing of the cannon at Bull Run, lamenting that
we had no part in the battle. When we after-
ward heard how McDowell's army skedad-
dled back to Washington more rapidly than
they came, we thought that the war would end
without our firing a gun. So little did we
understand the firmness of President Lin-
coln's mind and the settled purpose of the
North!

The winter was spent in comparative com-
fort, for we moved out of tents into cabins
built of pine logs, each one having a wide
arch and a chimney. At Christmas some
good things were sent to me, among which
was a dressed turkey, which I did not know
how to prepare for the table, for even if I



20 REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL

had possessed some knowledge of the culi-
nary art there was no suitable oven. For-
tunately a comrade by the name of John
Cook, — an appropriate name for that occa-
sion, — came to my relief and solved the prob-
lem in a most satisfactory manner. The bird
was suspended by a string before the open
fire, and being continually turned right and
left, and basted with grease from a plate be-
neath, it was beautifully browned and cooked
to a turn.



CHAPTER III

Drummer, strike up, and let us march away.

— Shakespeare's Henry VI.

IN the spring of 1862 Gen. George B.
McClellan with an army of 120,000
men, thoroughly drilled and lavishly
equipped, set out from Washington to cap-
ture Richmond from the north; but he had
not proceeded far before he changed his mind
about the line of advance. His forces were
transported to Fortress Monroe with the
design of approaching the city by the way of
the peninsula that lies between the York and
the James rivers. The correctness of his
judgment was justified by subsequent cam-
paigns; for the successive attempts of Pope,
Burnside, Hooker, and Grant to take the Con-
federate capital from the north were all
disastrous failures.

In order to check the upward progress of

21



22 REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL

McClellan's army, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
withdrew his forces from Manassas and the
shore of the Potomac and concentrated them
on the Peninsula. The 47th regiment
marched from its winter quarters to Rich-
mond, and was thence transported down the
James to a wharf not far from Yorktown.
During our brief stay in that vicinity, the
companies were authorized to elect their offi-
cers; and I, who had been acting as Orderly
Sergeant, was chosen Third Lieutenant.

As the National army advanced, the Con-
federates fell back toward Richmond. Our
regiment was not in the engagement that took
place near Williamsburg on the 5th of May,
but I saw then for the first time some wounded
men and prisoners. The retreat was con-
ducted somewhat rapidly, but in an orderly
and skilful manner. I do not remember that
we marched in darkness but once, and then
we trudged all night long through shoe-deep
mud. At times when the men in front en-
countered an unusually bad place those who
were behind were compelled to come to a



REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL 23

temporary halt. If I did not sleep while
walking along I came as near to it as weary
mortal ever did, and I am sure that I dozed
while standing still.

General Johnston posted his army between
Richmond and the Chickahominy river, the
47th regiment being on the left, not far from
Meadow bridge, and in the pestilential low-
grounds of that sluggish stream. Swarms of
mosquitoes attacked us at night and with their
hypodermic proboscides injected poisonous
malaria in our veins, to avoid which the sleep-
ing soldier covered his head with a blanket.
The complexion of the men became sallow,
and every day numbers of them were put on
the sick-list by the surgeons.

The 47th regiment, commanded by Col.
Robert M. Mayo, and having brigade con-
nection with some regiments from North
Carolina, had its first experience of real war
in the battle of Seven Pines (or Fair Oaks),
which was fought on the 31st of May. On
that day General Johnston attacked the left
wing of the Federal army, which had been



24 REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL

thrown across to the southern side of the
Chickahominy. To some persons the decla-
ration may seem surprising, but it was with
real pleasure that I went into the battle. It
was the novelty of it, I suppose, that pre-
vented me from being frightened by explod-
ing shells and rattling musketry. The dread
of these things came afterward when I saw
fields scattered over with the wounded, the
dying, and the dead, and among them some
of my dearest friends. In that affair our
Lieutenant-Colonel, John M. Lyell, was
seriously wounded, and the regiment sus-
tained a loss of about fifty men. Our chap-
lain, Mr. Meredith, of Stafford county, went
into action with us, but while he did not do
the like again, it is no impeachment of his
courage. His duty lay in other directions;
and it ought to be recorded in his praise that
after every battle he might be found doing
all he could to relieve and comfort the
wounded.



CHAPTER IV

In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness, and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger ;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.

— Shakespeare's Henry V.

AFTER the undecisive battle of Seven
Pines the 47th regiment together with
the 40th and the 55th Virginia regi-
ments and the 22nd Virginia battalion v^as
formed into a brigade, and this combina-
tion continued until the close of the war. It
was known as the First Brigade of the Light
Division, which was composed of six brigades,
and commanded by Maj.-Gen. A. P. Hill.
Why it was called the Light division I did
not learn; but I know that the name was ap-
plicable, for we often marched without coats,
blankets, knapsacks, or any other burdens ex-

25



26 REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL

cept our arms and haversacks, which were
never heavy and sometimes empty.

On Thursday, June 26, the memorable but
miss-called "battles around Richmond" began.
Being on the left of the army, the First
Brigade had the honor and the danger of
being the first to cross the Chickahominy.
Passing over Meadow bridge, we dispersed
the enemy's outpost, only one man being
wounded in the passage, and hurried on to-
wards Mechanicsville and Beaver Dam,
where was posted the extreme right of the
Federal army. The contest raged for six
hours. We failed to dislodge the enemy
from its naturally strong and well-fortified
position across Beaver Dam creek, and our
loss was heavy, — heavier in some other
brigades than in ours. The following morn-
ing, discovering that our antagonists had
withdrawn, we crossed over Beaver Dam in
pursuit.

McClellan had decided to retreat! He
called it a change of base; but if a change of



REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL 27

base from the York to the James river was
good strategy, why did he not do it before he
was attacked? It looks very much as if he
gave ''a reason upon compulsion." It must
be conceded that he managed the retreat with
admirable ability, although, while inflicting
severe punishment upon Lee's army, it in-
volved the loss of 10,000 prisoners, 52 pieces
of artillery and 35,000 stand of small arms,
besides immense stores of ammunition and
provisions. But why retreat? Was it for
this that he had led to the gates of Richmond
a grand army of brave and disciplined men,
at an enormous cost to his government?
Having many qualities of a great commander,
he lacked the gaudium certaminis and the
daring that assumes the hazard of defeat.
In war the adage holds good with emphasis:
^^Nothing venture, nothing gain." The cele-
brated generals of all times, confiding in their
own skill and the bravery of their soldiers,
have been bold even to the degree of seeming
rashness. Such was the spirit and conduct of



28 REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL

Lee when with half the numbers he assaulted
Hooker, and afterward Grant, in the Wilder-
ness.

McClellan's army being astraddle the
Chickahominy, two courses of action were
open to him when he was attacked.

He might have concentrated on the north
side of the river, leaving a sufficient force to
guard the bridges in his rear, and then as-
sumed a strong defensive position. Having
abandoned Beaver Dam he withdrew to
Gaines' Mill, — a place most favorable for
defense, — still having 60,000 men in striking
distance across the river. If instead of vacat-
ing that position, or suffering a portion of his
army to be driven from it, he had reenforced
it by a half of those unoccupied 60,000 men,
I do not believe he could have been dislodged
by all the valor and dash of the Confederate
army.

The other line of action that he might have
chosen was to concentrate on the southern side
of the river, destroy the bridges, and then
crushing the small army of Magruder, make



REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL 29

a quick attack upon Richmond, while the
forces of Lee and Jackson were on the other
side. It seems to me that either course would
have been better and nobler than the in-
glorious retreat to Harrison's Landing. It
appeared that Lee was gaining victory after
victory; but until the battle of Malvern Hill
he was fighting only portions of McClellan's
forces. In that engagement alone did the
Union army contend with its undivided
strength, and there it gained a victory. If it
could hold its ground there after having suf-
fered many losses, could it not much better
have repulsed the Confederates at Gaines'
Mill?

When the First Brigade advanced to the
charge at Gaines' Mill, on the 27th of June,
it emerged out of a wood into a large field,
which declined toward a ravine through
which a stream of water ran, and on the other
side of which the ground rose somewhat pre-
cipitously to a considerable altitude. It had
been wisely chosen for defense, and the oppo-
site high ground was lined with infantry and



30 REMINISCENCES OF A REBEL

crowned with batteries. As it was impossible
to dislodge the enemy until some diversion
should be created on one of his flanks, our
men lay prone upon the ground, while bullets
and shells hurtled among us and above us.
At length seeing a brigade on our left rapidly
advancing where the enemy's position was
less formidable, we rose up and, with the in-
spiring ^'rebel yell," ran down the slope,
crossed the little creek, clambered up the hill,
and poured a volley into the retiring Yankees,
some of whom were Duryea's Zouaves with


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