ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
3 1833 00824 2544
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center
Under the Stars and Bars
A History of the Surry
3. W. Ooneus
Recollections of a Private Soldier
in the War Between the States
Qjw&srr^r^ IOo^Kx^oXct^ Q
And Hist'ry's pen will yet relate,
In some approaching, clear-eyed day,
The men were right who fought for the State,
And wore the sober, Southern Gray.
— Reunion Ode.
EVERETT WADDEY O
».. ^: v.t^t.<J<K^^.a.v.fa l a*i!8to:^ ; toiJ:»->jLa <,».ifMt,.aff,^Jh,-;i,-^ ^.v..aiA^i«tfea
■Jcr.c-3, Benjamin Washington] 1841-
Under the stars and bars: a history of the Surrv iiclit artil-
lery: recollections of a private soldier in the war between the
states ... Richmond, S. Waddev co.. 1009.
SLlli, 207 ;>.
r, : - rra
1. U. S.— II! f.— L'ivl- war — Regimental histories — Vn. crt. — Slurry
li^'it artillery. I307-l. t -i>5. 2. YjrtjiHa artillery. Surry light artillery.
lS : ;i-^t;3. J. U. S.— :iist — Civil *™r— T'VJrsonal narratives— Coufcder-
ute siile. r, TJtle.
RCCat Ml '": ! "» «>f On»»-rcss
Bw yjj . ^.i . iHP. 11. i. > T m55nSF"^-^ -" -"•■' j j MftjS,',f J .WW '."H'W " " f .fl- HW h ' jr> u,^ -^-n ^ W,.,..U. I ,y ».' TT^"^ j
To His Old Comrades, Who Marched with Hem Under the
Banner of the Southern Confederacy, from the Begin-
ning of the Struggle in Virginia to the Closing Hour
at Afpomattox, These Recollections, in Garb as
Rugged as was the Bot Soldier Himself,
are Respectfully and Fraternally
Dedicated, by the Author.
These recollections of events that occurred in Vir-
ginia during the great and bloody struggle between the
States, in which the writer shared in common with his
Company, are collated principally from letters written
to a friend at home while the war was progressing.
I have thought it best that the form of the letters be
retained, only adding here and there such notes and
remarks as appeared to be necessary to make of them
one connected story. Having been written as the events
were transpiring, they serve admirably as the frame-
work of the narrative, and present a true reflex and
picture of the state of affairs as seen by a private soldier
during the bitter contest in Virginia leading up from
Big Bethel to the abandonment of Richmond.
The book is not meant for general circulation, but
only for the boys in gray, my immediate companions in
arms, who shared in the events herein related ; and for
their friends and kindred, who will wish to read the
story, and know how those boys stood the test of battle,
and endured the ordeal of the daily trials and sufferings
to which they were subjected through four long, weary,
tragicful years. It is simply an offering of love to the
men (the dead and the living alike), with whom I
marched and camped, and labored and suffered, in the
effort to turn aside the tidal wave of a ruthless invasion
that was sweeping over our land from the Potomac to
the Rio Grande, and leaving behind it scarred and deso-
lated homes, and destitution and misery.
It is certain that the men of the Surry Artillery went
out to fight for their homes and firesides, for personal
liberty, and for the independence and integrity of their
State. These were the principles for which we con-
tended. It were these incentives, and not the narrow
quest ion of perpetuating negro slavery, that animated
the heart of the private soldier of the South, and nerved
his arm to strike its heaviest blows in defence of the
sacred holdings where his cradle had stood and his
ancestors lay buried. They were no hireling soldiery,
but freeborn citizens, the native lords of the soil that
had been invaded. This tells the secret why the boys
in gray, from Texas to Maryland, fought so stubbornly
and so persistently.
It has been one purpose in the course of this story,
to present something of the inner life of the soldier in
camp — something of the many little tableaux and come-
dies that were often taking place, and which served to
break the monotony of what would often have been a
dull and scarcely endurable life. Perhaps the recital
of these episodes, most of them doubtless long since for-
gotten by the surviving actors therein, may serve to
recall some pleasant memories, and evoke a smile from
toe now old and gray men, who were then, for the most
part, but beardless and care-free boys.
And now, having finished the task, not altogether as
I fain would, but as I could, I lay it in the hands of
my surviving comrades, trusting that it may serve to
call up pleasing, though it must often be sad, reminis-
cences of that era of unpleasantness that marked our
loved Southland with a thousand battlefields, laid
therein a million untimely graves, incarnadined her
soil with rivers of blood, and filled her homes with
widows and orphans, and poverty and loneliness, where
love, peace, and plenty should have reigned supreme.
The memory of these things must linger while a single
veteran remains to tell the mournful story. And it is
right that the sons and daughters should know what the
fathers and mothers endured. Over the wrongs that
we suffered we may throw the mantle of forgiveness, but
we can never forget them. Knowing well that we vjere
right, we would fight the foe again, were cause and
quarrel and issue the same. The man who would not
contend for his own domicile and altar, for the soil of
his birthplace and the graves of his ancestors, is a
craven. B. W. J.
Surry, Va., 1909.
INTRODUCTORY NOTES 1
Company attached to 3d Virginia Infantry — Drilling with
the Regiment — Murmurs of the men — Guard duty — Van-
dalism — Hucksters — Note 11
An invasion of measles — Recruits — Two cannon — Sergeant
Bloxam and his hard drilling — Soldierly pluck — Note. . . 15
Winter quarters — Two more guns — Life in camp — Gambling —
A mild winter — Life in camp — Active operations expected —
Other troops — A soldier's burial — Rations — Note 23
The campaign opened — Confederate reverses — Naval battle in
Hampton Roads — Departure of the 3d Regiment, and
other forces — Camp '"Destruction" — Transfers — On the
march — Note 27
Destruction of the Merrimac — Advance of a Federal fleet —
Engagement at Harding's Bluff — Re-elction of officers —
Postscript — Note 31
In Chesterfield — The 2d Section goes to Richmond — Camping
around — Point of Rocks — Battle of Seven Pines — All
quiet on the burly Appomattox — Note 35
A contest with gunboats — Results of the fight — The enemy's
losses — The seven days' battles — Note 39
Return of the 2d Section — End of the seven days' struggle —
McClellan stationary — Balloons — Death of I. 0. Cren-
shaw — Note 45
Shelling a gunboat — Results — Discharge of 35-year men —
Lee in Northern Virginia — A Comet — Election for 3d Lieu-
tenant — Autumn — Note 49
On to Manchester — The "wood brigade" — Resignation of Cap-
tain Ruffin — Promotions and election — The town — View
of Richmond — Note 54
Frame barracks — Sick men — Foreign residents — Lee at Fred-
ericksburg — The city defences — A snow storm — Rations —
Christmas eve — Church bells — Christmas boxes — Fredericks-
burg — Attached to Lightfoot's Battalion — Our camp — No
snug cabins — Note 66
A night on picket — Snowed under — Only a cavalry raid —
And a false alarm — Note 70
Snow and wind storm — Tents overturned — Rat venison — A
new flag — Battalion drills — Note 73
Good health of the men — "Broom day" — Confederate sta-
tionery — Skulkers — A revival spirit — Songs in camp —
An incident — Note 77
Sabbath breaking — Inspections and parade — Government
work — Conduct of officials — Sir Matthew Hale's Sabbath
law — "Permits" — Note 85
The "everlasting" itch — Williams and his remedy — Bright
Lopes, bat dark results — That, too, passes — Rumors of
battle — Note 89
Suffolk recaptured — Big siege guns — Marching orders — Des-
tination — The Home Guard — Note 94
Gordonsville — Marching and counter-marching — The Stone-
man raid — At Orange Courthouse — Scenery — Note 99
Conflicting reports — Wounded men and prisoners— Death of
General Jackson — Honoring the remains — Orders to
return — Note 105
Ibe plains of Virginia — Condition of agricultures — A pen
sketch of Colonel Rhett— Arrival at Richmond— A new
camp— Note 109
LETTER TWENTY-THIRD. *
AH quiet on the James— Drilling and guard duty— Church
and theatre— Negro raiders— Note 114
The battle cloud moving northward — Advancing from the
York — On the Chickahominy — Scenery and conditions —
Return into camp — Confederate reverses — Hope for us yet —
Our cause just — Why we sometimes fail — Conscripts and
skulkers — Note • 124
Hanging of Kellogg, the spy — Revivals — Furloughs — Health
of the Company — Books — Note 129
Guardian angels — September days in camp — Hard times in
Surry— But worse in other parts — Courage, and better
times — Note 135
Winter quarters again — Rations — Small-pox — A fire — The
city by moonlight — "All quiet along the James" — Con-
federate Congress — Note 139
Forage details — Condition of the country visited— "Greens"
and pot liquor — Why soldiers are given to "raiding" —
A lecture on Palestine — Pay-day in Camp — Note 145
Campaign of 1864 begun — Confederate victories — Dahlgren-
Kilpatrick cavalry dash — Its nefarious purpose — And
farcical failure — Stirring events expected — Notes 151
The "Soldiers' Home"— Oakwood Cemetery— A chicken
"raid" — Double duty — Songs — Note, 157
The Butler campaign begun — Battle of Port Walthall — A
Confederate victory — Losses — Note 167
The enemy advancing — Railroad torn up — Fight at Swift
Creek — Trying to turn the flank — Advancing toward
Richmond — Note 174
A glance at operations elsewhere — Federal cavalry again —
Butler's second advance — Note 178
Two days under fire — Conduct of the men — Casualties and inci-
The battle of Drewry's Bluff — Charge of Terry's and Gracie's
men — Prisoners — Note 188
Our losses — Company Q ordered to report — Watching the
enemy — Spring's lush sweetness — More vandalism —
Verses — Note 194
On the march — Condition of the horses — Drewry's Bluff hill —
Battle of Cold Harbor — Grant crossing the Chicka-
hominy — Note 200
Picketing in New Kent — Unburied dead— A battle-scarred
country — Corn bread only — Note 205
Return to the city — Our summer camp — View of the city —
Richmond the Mecca of the South — Often on picket —
Picketing around — The "poetry of war" — Frequent exchange
of shots — No news from home — Note 215
Ceaseless boom of cannon — The flight and bursting of a
shell — Recruits — Deserters — Note 219
In Vinter quarters again — Clothing — Rations — Both armies
rest — Courtesies along the lines — Note 222
The paymaster around — Prices — Health of the Company —
Furloughs — Absentees — Note 226
The winter of '64-'65 — No prayer meetings — Reading and
sport — The cannon's boom again — Beef and biscuit —
One meal a day — Note 231
Butler's ditch — Our idle iron-clads — Pushing around the
flank — Southern railroad cut — Grant's railroad — And
his towers — Note 238
A circuitous mail route — But one line open — Richmond un-
tenable; — What then?— Note 244
THE SAD FINALE.
The battle of Five Oaks — Lee's flank turned — Richmond
abandoned — The city an ocean of flame — Slowly retir-
ing—Without rations — A weary march — Our last fight —
Sabbath morning, April 9th — A sound of battle — At Red
Oak church — Disbanding — Tears and farewells — Crossing
the James 247
R«t and sleep — Starting out — Hospitality of the people
by the way — Sheridan's trail of ashes and desolation —
Passing Richmond — Down the Chickahominy — Waiting
for darkness — Crossing the James — Home at last 266
THE SHADOW ON THE WALL.
"Coming events cast their shadows before them." 279
Of S. M. Williams, Quartermaster-Sergeant of the Surry
Light Artillery, on the march from Richmond to Ap-
pomattox, April, 1865 281
Of Dr. Joseph N. Jones, of Surry, while a prisoner of war. 284
Of Pembrook D. Gwaltney, a member of the Surry Light
Artillery, detailed as Master Armorer, for the 2d Corps,
Army of Northern Virginia 288
The following is a list of our comrades who died during the
progress of the war, either of sickness or of wounds re-
ceived in battle : 290
LIST OF SURVIVORS 295
Under the Stars and Bars
A HISTORY OF
THE SURRY LIGHT ARTILLERY
When, early in 1S61, the first muttering thunders
of war began to reverberate through our land — and
when, on the 17th of April, Virginia, finding it impos-
sible to remain neutral, passed her ordinance of seces-
sion, and cast in her lot with that of the new-born
Southern Confederacy, men everywhere throughout the
old State began hastily to organize, equip, and prepare
themselves, as best they could, for the impending con-
flict that was so rapidly approaching. Even then the
flame of war had already burst forth in the farther
South, Sumter had been bombarded and taken, and the
spirit of war prevailed almost everywhere North and
South. The determination to resist invasion — the first
and most sacred duty of a free people — became general,
if not universal. The plodding, conservative fanner
forsook the implements of his toil, the mechanic laid
aside his tools, the merchant turned away from his
traffic, and the fiery young student of law or letters
2- Under the Stars and Bars
closed his books, and took up the rifle or the sword ; all
classes responded to the call for volunteers, and mili-
tary companies for every branch of the service were
speedily enrolled and armed, ready for duty wherever
the State might call them. Camps were laid out and
barracks constructed, fortifications were built, forges
and factories became busy in preparing the implements
of war, and all was activity, and bustle, and ardor, to
meet the boastful foe who had already crossed our
In all these preparations, the little county of Surry,
in common with her sister counties around her, took
an early and active part. In nothing was she found
laggard or supine. She gave freely of her material
and money, and her people, male and female, exerted
themselves nobly in mustering and equipping men for
the field. Her sons of military age almost en masse
hastened to enroll themselves in some new or already
existing company. Every man, except a timid nothing
here and there, felt it his duty to respond to the call of
his State, and of the new Confederacy under which he
then lived and acted.
Besides the old Surry Cavalry, an aute-war organi-
zation composed of the flower of her wealth and chiv-
alry, to which men began to flock till it was filled to
repletion, another large Cavalry company was made
up in the county. The Light Artillery, the history of
Under the Stars and Bars 3
which is herein related, was enrolled and sent into the
field. The Jamestown Heavy Artillery, Captain Har-
rison's Company, was composed largely of men from
Surry. Captain Allen's Infantry of Prince George,
had in it quite a number of Surry men. Some joined
the Isle of Wight Blues, some enlisted in the Sussex
Cavalry, and numbers still went to other commands,
as inclination or convenience led them. This statement
will account for the fact, that, in proportion to her
military strength, so few companies or commands
hailed directly from Surry county.
In the enrollment of the Light Artillery — the S. L.
A., as I shall often put it, for brevity — James D. Han-
kins, a young cadet just returned from the military
school at Lexington, took an earnest and active part.
Early in May, 1861, the embryo company, augumented
in numbers by men from the Cabin Point and Spring
Grove neighborhoods, where John A. Deal had been
laboring to form a company, met at Surry Court
House, effected a permanent organization, and elected its
commissioned officers. The county court, shortly after-
wards, presented the men with new and serviceable
uniforms, and the new Company stood ready for active
service wherever the State might order it to go.
The following is a list of the men of the new Com-
pany, rank and file, as it was originally constituted:
Captain — Thomas W. Ruffin.
First Lieutenant — James D. Hankins
Under the Stars and Bars
Second Lieutenant — Ira 0. Crenshaw.
Third Lieutenant — John A. Deal.
First Sergeant — William R. Barham.
Second Sergeant — Theophilus J. Berryman.
Third Sergeant— T. Boiling Bell.
Fourth Sergeant — Joseph H. Pitman.
Commissary Sergeant — Joel W. Whitley.
First Corporal — John H. Bell.
Second Corporal — Boiling T. Jones.
Third Corporal — Edwin S. Spratley.
Fourth Corporal — Samuel A. Moody.
Bailey. James T.
Bell, Edwin E.
Berryman, Joseph R.
Berryman, John R.
Brown, Nicholas A.
Cockes. Littleton M.
Clayton, William A.
Collier, R. M. J.
Davis. John A.
Deuell, James T.
Edwards, William W.
Edwards, W. John.
Foreman, W. W.
Gwaltnev, Benjamin I
Harris, John T.
Holleman. Edmund S.
James, William E.
Johnson, William S.
Jones, Isaac G.
Jones, Benjamin W.
Judkins, John L.
Judkins, W. B. 0.
Little, William H.
Moody, James W.
Pond, Noah B.
Presson, John W.
Roberts, Henry C.
Rowell, George A.
Rowel 1, J. Henry.
Rowell, Patrick "H.
Rowell, Thomas J.
Savedge, Richard R.
Seward, John L.
Spratley, James N.
Thompson, Robert C.
The Company, as thus constituted, was composed of
men, all of whom were residing in Surry in 1861, but
a number of them were natives of other places. Lieu-
tenant Crenshaw came from Richmond ; Bailey and
Holleman were from Southampton county; Casey was
Under the Stars and Bars 5
a native of Ireland; Foreman came from Baltimore;
Garon was from New Jersey; W. S. Johnson hailed
from Connecticut, and B. H. Delk, W. H. Little and
J. W. Whitley were natives of Isle of Wight county.
Immediately upon its organization, application was
made for guns and equipments. But at that early stage
in the life of the Confederacy, there were no guns to be
had, and a long delay ensued before any were obtained.
However, having been ordered into camp, on the 22d
of June, 1861 (a few days after the battle at Big
Bethel), we took our departure from Surry Court House
for Smithfield, in Isle of Wight. It was on a Satur-
day afternoon, a bright and balmy day. The Com-
pany was halted for the day at Bacon's Castle, and we
were quartered in the old Hebron church, where we
spent the first night of our soldier life.
Supper was furnished us by the elder John Han-
kins, Mr. William A. Warren, and other patriotic citi-
zens of the vicinity, and we passed the night in or near
the church building, some sleeping out of doors and
some upon the benches or the floor. It was a novel ex-
perience with us all. But merriment and good humor
prevailed ; songs, comic or otherwise, dispelled serious
thought, as they also prevented sleep on the part of
some who had thought to retire early. ~No one slept
much, and the god of dreams doubtless fled appalled
from the noisy assemblage.
In fancy I look back over the long and eventful
period of forty-eight years that has elapsed since that,
6 Under the Stars and Bars
to us, ever memorable time. I see the gay procession
as it journeyed on, some in wagons and some in rail-
carts or other conveyances — hear the jests and dashes
of song that broke now and anon from the care-free
boys — see them at supper, in soldier style, helping them-
selves liberally — see them at night trying to find a soft
place on the bare pews of the church, and finally giving
it up in disgust — and see, on the morrow morn, the
good ladies of the vicinity come out to bid us good-by
and wish us safety and a speedy return to our homes !
Alas ! how very little did any of us then know or realize
of the true nature, or probable duration, of the conflict
that awaited us, or the self-denials and privations to
which we would be subject, in the stern tragedy to
which we were hastening ! Heaven, in its mercy, veils
the future from us, whether our pathway leads through
jungles and thorns, or over daisied plains and beds of
On arriving at Smithfield, we were quartered on the
grounds of the Mason street church and the Masonic
Hall, and the church building was opened for our occu-
pancy by night. Rations were supplied us by the town,
and drilling, morning and afternoon, took up a large
part of our time by day. In a few days the enrolling
officer came along, and we were mustered into the
military service of the Confederate States of America,
for the term of one year — "unless sooner discharged" !
And perhaps some of us were verdant enough to think
Under the Stars and Bars 7
that the war would indeed be over, and we would return,
with honors and eclat, before the expiration of one
year! Our pay, as soldiers of the Confederacy, began
from the day we were mustered into service.
Thus the Stars and Bars became our banner. Under
its immaculate folds, during four immortal years, a
military history was to be written that should eclipse
that of any land or any people. In the making of this
history, it fell to the lot of the S. L. A. to share but a
small and humble part. Yet, as I expect to show in
the following pages, we did good service wherever sent,
and accomplished something of importance for the cause
of the Southern Confederacy.
Though we were not in at Gaines's Mill or Cold
Harbor, on the left of the Confederate lines, when the
great drama before Richmond began in 1862, we were
in at Point of Rocks, on the extreme right of that
line, where we held back a Federal fleet of seven gun-
boats, saved Petersburg from bombardment, and per-
haps, from capture; effected the destruction of one of
their vessels, and gave the Confederacy a serviceable
engine to put upon one of its ironclads. Though we
were not present in Spotsylvania, when Lee and Grant
were pounding each other to pieces in May, 1864, we
were present at Port Walthall, and Fort Stevens, and
the second Drewry's Bluff during the same tragicful
month, where we helped to turn back Butler's host
from its advance on Richmond and to pen them up in
8 Under the Stars and Bars
quiet idleness at Bermuda Hundred. Though we did
not march with Lee into Maryland, or share in the
misfortunes at Gettysburg, we did help to guard and
defend the oft-assailed Capital from the sudden forays
of the enemy, under Stoneman and Dahlgren and
These things must count for something. And his-
tory's pen will yet accord to the smaller portion of
Lee's army that guarded the Capital of the Confed-
eracy successfully in '62, '63 and '64, the meed of
having performed their part as well as the larger army
that foiled the invading hosts at Fredericksburg or
Chancellorsville. It is not the number contending, but
the issue involved, that makes a battle important. Port
Walthall and the second Drewry's Bluff saved the cities
of Petersburg and Richmond from capture and the
Confederacy from ruin, twelve months before the col-
lapse of the Southern Republic. Let the following
pages furnish the proof I have to offer for the state-
ment here advanced. This is not uttered in any brag-
gart tone, but in simple justice to ourselves and the
truth of history.
Our short sojourn at Smithfleld, comparatively with
the remainder of our soldier life, was like a fete day
to us. We were fed, and regaled, and noticed by the
good people of the town, until we became quite vain
of our importance. The evening hours were enlivened
by song, in which the ladies sometimes joined from
Under the Stars and Bars 9
their verandas or windows — the days were made happy
by the visits of friends from home — the duties were
light — and rations were plentiful and good. A few
weeks passed pleasantly, but too speedily, by, only to
linger in memory but never to return — to fade away,
like receding song3 of happiness, that the great cloud-
burst of war soon silenced forever ! I recall, even now,
with mingled feelings of pleasure and amusement, that
first, short, happy month of soldier life at old Smith-
field, ere discipline had galled us, and ere we were
"broke to the harness" by the rude hand of the drill-
master, and we were made to learn the first hard lesson
of military duty — that it was ours to obey and do with
unquestioning promptness !
In the early part of August, our Company was or-
dered to join the 3d Regiment of Infantry, then sta-
tioned at Camp Cook, on the lower James river. Here
we were quartered in tents lately vacated by a Company
that had been transferred to another command, and we
were ranked as Company I of the Regiment. It was
at this place that our real soldier life and experiences
began. But we were "under the yoke," and the boys
took to their duties kindly, and laughed, and sported,
and sang the tardy hours away with great good nature
From this point onward to the close, I will use the
letters written home to a friend during the progress of
10 Under the Stars and Bars
the war, only supplementing them with such notes and
remarks as may appear necessary, in elucidation and
connection of the general record. In every case, the
notes and additions are designated by the brackets.
Under the Stars and Bars 11
Company attached to 3d Virginia Infantry — Drilling with the
Regiment — Murmurs of the men — Guard duty — Vandalism —
Hucksters — Note.
Camp Cook, Va.,
August 15, 1861.
My Dear Friend: — I did not write to you from
Smithfield, as I had promised, because our time there
was so constantly occupied with a series of pleasant
rounds, and with the oft-recurring drills — drills by
squad, drills by section, drills by company. Fresh
troops, you may well suppose, need a deal of drilling.
I expected, too, to have been permitted to see you
in person ere this time. But we begin already to dis-
cover that a private soldier cannot go and come at will,
but must secure a "permit," or a "furlough," and travel,
like a slave, with a pass in his pocket.
But here we are at Camp Cook, immediately on the
lower James river, in open view of Newport News
Point, and the Federal fleet lying off there, and near
the famous oyster-beds, or shoals, known so well, and
valued so highly by our forefathers for generations
agone. course, we expect to enjoy the delectable bi-
valves, when the season for them opens.
We are now attached, as Company I, to the 3d
Virginia Regiment of Infantry, Col. Roger A. Pryor
12 Under the Stars and Bars
commanding. Having received no cannon as yet, we
have been furnished with muskets, and are required to
drill with the Regiment, besides doing infantry drill
Some of tke men murmur a good deal at having to
perform infantry duty, saying they enlisted for the
artillery service. The officers, however, tell them it is
only a temporary arrangement, and that the cannon
will soon be here for our use. But the men shake their
heads, and declare it is only a ruse to lure us piece-
meal into the net, and fasten us to the infantry service
for the war. I do not know. I begin already to feel
attached to the men of the other Companies, many of
whom are very clever fellows, and should it so result,
I, for one, will not hesitate to go with the Regiment
wherever duty calls. It is a fine body of men, ably
officered, and full of the esprit de corps. I doubt not,
when the hour of trial comes, that they will give a good
account of themselves.
Besides the constant drilling, we have to do guard
duty with the Regiment, both at Camp and down at
Day's Point, two miles below us, where there is a
picket outpost. Each Company sends two men daily,
and the Surry Cavalry, Captain Taylor's Company,
supplies a detail of four horsemen, for vedettes.
While on the outpost the other night, I was witness
to a scene of vandalism that, they tell me, is of frequent
occurrence on the other side of the river. The view
Under the Stars and Bars 13
across the river to the country about Big Bethel is un-
obstructed, and a large fire over there at night is
readily seen from this side. Many of the family resi-
dences, barns, and other buildings within reach of the
Federal army, are being burned, and the owners thus
made refugees. Thus our foes adopt this method to
cripple and weaken the Southern people. Such van-
dalism as this is worthy of barbarian hordes, rather than
of a civilized people.
There are crowds of hucksters here every day, with
vegetables, fruits, chickens, eggs, etc., to sell to the
soldiers, and they carry away a deal of money, for they
are liberally patronized, although the regular rations
furnished us are plentiful and good. But those who
have money spend it freely, and melons, fruits, and
eggs are consumed in great quantities by the men.
Time passes lightly, and we are getting used to
drilling, and guard duty, and life in camp. These cloth
houses are fairly good residences, and it is so easy to
change them from one place to another. And there is
need for so little furniture ! or rather there is no room
for it ! We sleep and sit on the ground, with only
some straw under us.
May peace and good health attend you, and hover
over all the homes of the land.
Your friend, B.
[The 3d Regiment, as constituted at this time, was
composed of companies from the cities of Norfolk,
14 Under the Stars and Bars
Portsmouth and Petersburg, and the counties of Nor-
folk, Nansemond, Southampton, Isle of Wight and Din-
widdie. It was a fine organization, and subsequently
performed its full share of active service in the Army
of Northern Virginia, from the battle of Williamsburg,
May, 1862, to Sailors' Creek, in 1865. In more than
a hundred hard-fought battles, it gave freely of its blood
and valor to the Southern cause. Its history is linked
forever with that of the Army of Northern Virginia,
and with the names of the immortal Lee, of Longstreet,
and of Pickett.
In regard to the destruction of the private property
of the South, alluded to in the above letter, the future
historian who may care to know anything of the deep
spirit of hate and oppression toward the Southern peo-
ple, that animated our foes in this war, may here learn
how, from the very beginning of the struggle, they
carried the torch and flame wherever they went — may
learn how mills, barns, fences, princely residences, fur-
niture, books, pictures, statuary, sacred mementoes,
were burned ; how the owners, oftentimes aged men and
women, were forced to forsake their homes, and endure
poverty, self-denial, and want in the interior districts.
Wherever a Federal band crossed the land, its pathway
was marked, like the track of the snail by its slime, by
blackened ruins and the ashes of desolation! Can any
old Veteran forget these things, or cease to speak of
them? It was a sorry way to "whip us back into the
Union," as they pretended to be doing.]
Under the Stars and Bars 15
An invasion of measles — Recruits — Two cannon — Sergeant Bloxam
and his hard drilling — Soldierly pluck — Note.
Camp Cook, Va.,
Sept. 20, 1861.
My Dear Friend: — Our Company has had quite a
visitation recently in the way of measles, a perfect in-
vasion of it. Almost every man in the Company has
had it, myself one of the last to take it — a well-defined
case, the doctor said. It has put me off duty for a
good long time — 21 days, according to the regulations,
and I am free from drill and guard duty now.
We are having quite an increase of new men to our
ranks, recruits from Surry county, from Isle of Wight,
and from other places. Several of them are from the
Mill Swamp neighborhood. As a result of these ad-
ditions, our officers are kept busy drilling the new men,
preparatory to Company and Regimental drill. It is a
part of the service that a soldier has to learn.
And we have had two old cannons given us, for prac-
tice, and the whole Company is being put through a
course of artillery tactics, in addition to our other
duties. Thus we are doing double duty, as it were, by
serving in the regimental duties, and also at the guns.
16 Under the Stars and Bars
In the latter case we are under the tuition of Sergeant
Bloxam, of the Portsmouth Company, who has seen
service in the United States Army, and who drills
us with vim and zeal.
The guns are smooth-bore, six-pounders, of ancient
manufacture, appearing as if they might have done
service in Revolutionary times. In actual service, they
could not be very effective, except at short range. In-
stead of horses, of which we have none as yet, we are
required to move the guns about by hand over the
field, to front and to rear, en echelon and in line, to
sponge and load and fire in mimic warfare, until our
arms ache, and we long for rest-
But Bloxam does not rest. He is relentless. He
says the Colonel has told him to drill us thoroughly,
and he means to do it. In fact, we suspect that Colonel
Pryor is at the bottom of it all. He wants us for the
infantry service, and thinks to put us out with artillery
by this hard drilling. But we do not take well to in-
fantry tactics. We blunder awfully in every parade,
and, I believe, have become the common butt of the
Regiment, in consequence of our many mistakes.
No doubt, to spectators it must be a little bit amusing
to see us at the old guns, moving them around by main
force and awkwardness, until there is little but monotony
and disgust in it. But the boys will not give in. They
insist on being trained as artillerymen, and learning
all there is in it. We are bora artillerymen — we are!
Under the Stars and Bars 17
Come down and see us at the fun. It will please you
to see hove plucky the boys are, and will never cry
out, "Hold! enough of artillery for us." It will re-
quire more than one Bloxam, or one Pryor either, to
beat us out of this idea.
Good-by. God be with and bless you all.
Your friend, B.
[In fancy I look back over the fast evanishing years,
and behold us all, Sergeant Bloxam in charge, Cor-
poral B. T. Jones at the trail, Whitfield Goodrich hold-
ing the post of number 2, James Moody number 3,
William Clayton number 4, myself as number 1 — see
us all as we march and countermarch, load "by detail/'
and "fire" by word of mouth, and then load and fire
again, and so on, and so out, in those far-off autumn
days, in that school of stern discipline by the James.
What a time we had ! What lessons we learned ! What
old Veteran does not recall the hard training of his
early camp life, often under the command of men who
were but little better than pig-headed martinets, re-
garding the private soldier as but a piece of putty, to
be shaped into any form that might please them. How-
ever, not overmuch of this fell to our lot, and perhaps
we had no great reason to complain of our eai*ly train-
ing masters. At any rate, we stuck to those two old
guns, sorry as they were. They served to drill with
as good as the best, and we subsequently came to prize
them more highly.
18 Under the Stars and Bars
Dear Whitfield! the comrade mentioned in the let-
ter above. A kind, gentle, good-hearted man. He tar-
ried with us but a few short months. He died during
the winter, the first of our Company to give his life a
sacrifice to the cause of the South. He fell a prey to
pneumonia at Camp Pemberton, March 10, 1862. His
remains, attended by an escort from the Company, were
sent home for interment.]
"And o'er the graves of comrades gone
Our heart3 will turn to weep,
And round their names the ivy wreath
Of living green we'll keep."
Under the Stars and Bars 19
Winter quarters — Two more guns — Life in camp — Gambling —
Camp Pemberton, Va.,
Dec. 10, 1861.
My Dear Friend: — We, that is the whole Regiment,
are in winter quarters now, good and comfortable log
cabins, built by the men, the several Companies each
by itself, all arranged around tliree sides of a large
square, or campus, the quarters of the Regimental of-
ficers occupying the fourth side. In the open space
within, which has been cleared of all debris, the Regi-
mental and Company roll-calls take place, and squad
drills of new recruits are conducted. Here we expect
to remain through the winter. The new camp is but
a short distance from the old one, and there is plenty
of wood for fires nearby.
And we have received two more cannon, and horses
enough for the four guns. The men are divided now
into two classes, cannoneers and drivers, the latter hav-
ing charge of the horses, and the cannoneers working
the guns. We regard ourselves as on rising ground
now, and have been excused from infantry drill al-
together, of which favor we are immensely proud. And,
thanks to the untiring efforts of Sergeant. Bloxam, we
20 Under the Stars and Bars
are becoming quite expert in the artillery tactics, so
that our own officers will drill us in future.
We drill twice daily in battery, and have recently
done some sure enough practice at loading and firing.
The Colonel wanted to see if our gunners could hit the
broad side of a house, about half a mile off, and ban-
tered the gunners beforehand, that, "he would be bound
every one of them would miss it, clear and clean." But
no. Four big holes were soon made in the side of that
edifice. And if the owner ever received any compensa-
tion for the damage done, Colonel Pryor had it to pay.
He said the gunners did better than he expected of
I have not told you much of the inner scenes of camp
life, the life of the soldier when oft" duty. Well, the
men get up all sorts of sports — ball, marbles, leaping,
running, etc., etc. Anything serves to break the mo-
notony of confinement. The more intellectual of the
men spend much time in reading. And the few re-
ligious ones get together and sing a good deal. There
are quite a number here who have good voices, and the
twilight hour, and early darkness before taps, is gen-
erally enlivened with song.
But I must say that many, too many, of this Com-
pany, both privates and officers, seem to prefer other
amusements of a less intellectual or spiritual nature.
Card-playing is fearfully common, and the men gamble
for money, too. Gambling debts are eating up the
Under the Stars and Bars ~ 21
men's wages, instead of going for better things, or for
their families at home. It is a great evil, and ought
to be forbidden. The morals, as well as the comfort
and welfare of the men demand it. Yet I am glad to
say we have in our Company some good, pious and
God-fearing men, who take no part in encouraging the
gambling evil; and these, I trust, like the lump of
leaven in the general mass, will exert a salutary and
saving influence over the others.
General Huger, who has command on this side of
the James, with headquarters at Norfolk, has been
around recently on a tour of inspection, and has paid
a visit to the 3d Regiment. He is from South Carolina,
a scion of an old Huguenot family, and, of course, of
French descent. He does not look a bit like a "'fire-
eater/' as the South Carolinians are supposed to be,
but a staid, even-tempered, kindly man. I like him.
The name is pronounced Hu-gee.
There is an absolute dearth of news from the military
field, and I close with a prayer for your continued
peace and safety.
Your friend, B.
[The first winter of the S. L. A. in camp passed
quietly by. ^Nothing beyond the common routine of
duties occurred to vary the usual sameness. We were
very comfortably fixed, rations continued good and
22 1 Under the Stars and Bars
plentiful, there was little sickness, the Company was
fairly well drilled by this time, and the moral tone of
the organization, and good feeling for each other among
the men generally, were excellent.
The following recruits had joined us during the
summer and fall of 1861, thus, in addition to the 54
men of the original Company, making our number at
the close of 1861 to be 77, rank and file: John W.
Barlow and Josiah Bell, from Isle of Wight county;
J. Thomas Brown, A. ISTicholas Brown, J. Decatur
Edwards, and James Gay, from Surry county; Josiah
Gwaltney, from Isle of Wight ; Joseph Glover, George
M. Hargrave, Zechariah Holland, and Joseph R. Kea,
from Surry; Luther J. Little, from Isle of Wight;
Samuel A. Moody, George W. Moody, William R. Math-
ews, Richard Moring, John T. Xelms, Joseph T.
Price, Charles A. Price, Gilbert W. Rogers, and John
Underwood, from Surry; and Servetus M. Williams
and Edward W. Wright, also from Surry county.
Under the Stars and Bars 23
A mild winter — Life in camp — Active operations expected —
Other troops — A soldier'9 burial — Rations — Note.
Camp Pembebton, Ya.,
February 10, 1862.
My Dear Friend: — The winter, which, as you know,
ha9 been a mild one, with but little of snow, has passed
by without anything occurring to disturb the ordinary
routine of camp life. There has been very little sick-
ness among our men, but more, perhaps, among the
other Companies of the Regiment, and the daily drills
with our guns are more of a pleasure than a task with
us now. The guard duty is reasonably light, though
the requirements are strict, and there are seldom any
burdensome details for forage or wood. The pious
members of the Company, and any others who admire
vocal music, assemble nightly for singing, and angry
brawls among the men are of rare occurrence. The
entire Regiment seems composed mainly of moral and
orderly men. Though we have no chaplain, and no
place of preaching nearby, the men read the Bible
among themselves, and sometimes hold social prayer
together. The religious and moral spirit of this com-
mand is regarded as excellent.
24 Under the Stars and Bars
But matters seem shaping themselves for active
operations, and the spring campaign is expected to
open early. The armies on the Peninsula are astir,
though it is yet winter, and fighting may occur at some
point very soon. On this side of the James, troops are
being concentrated all the way from Smithfield to Suf-
folk, and it is rumored that fighting has commenced
in North Carolina about Roanoke Island. The Blues
(Isle of Wight) yet occupy Fort Boykin on the James,
where they have been all the winter; and there are
forces at Harding's Bluff and numerous other fortified
points along the James, both above and below Fort
Boykin — Red Point, Pig Point, Barret's Point, and
various other ''points" and places — where we are said
to have heavy guns and resolute men, ready to drive
back the invader, whenever he ventures to come, though
with all of the panoply of war he be guarded and de-
Our camp has lately been the scene of a soldier's
burial. A new Company (Captain Tutt's) that came
here the latter part of the summer from Halifax county,
having lost one of its men by sickness, the remains were
interred in military style near the camp. A detach-
ment of the Company followed the pall-bearers with
reversed arms, the regimental music played the funeral
march, and, after the grave was filled, the detachment
discharged their guns over the mound, and then turned
away and left the early-fallen soldier to his rest. It
was a solemn and affecting scene.
Under the Stars and Bars 25
Rations continue plentiful and good — flour, bacon
or beef, sugar, coffee, and sometimes rice. Nearly
every mess of eight or ten men has a negro man for
cook. Coffee is made in large camp kettles holding
several gallons, and it would astonish you to see what
quantities of it the men drink. Strong coffee, liberally
sweetened, is the favorite beverage here, and it goes
well and does good when one is just off guard duty
these cold mornings. I will not say it is the only bev-
erage drank here, for there is a sutler's shop here, where
cider and beer are sold, and the men get frequent
"permits" to visit Smithfield, four miles from our camp.
Read Xumbers 6 : 24 — 27, and think of,
Your friend, B.
[The allusion to beverages, at the close of this letter,
reminds me to say, that the restrictions on the sale of
intoxicants in the town of Smithfield and the country
around, were not as rigid during those times, as, per-
haps, they should have been, considering the large bodies
of soldiers stationed at different points nearby. Brandy
was frequently brought into the camp. As a conse-
quence of this liberty, a good many men found them-
selves at times doing double duty, or maybe under-
going some sterner punishment for breech of military
order — some of the S. L. A. among the rest. Yet, as
a rule, our Company passed this ordeal creditably.
Composed of some of the best material, morally, of the
respective neighborhoods from which they sprang, the
26 Under the Stars and Bars
men of the S. L. A. were never much addicted to the
vice of drinking. In large part, they were the pious
sons of pious and God-fearing men, and their conduct
served to check dissipation and disorder among the
Under the Stars and Bars 27
The campaign opened — Confederate reverses — Naval battle in
Hampton Roads — Departure of the 3d Regiment, and other
forces — Camp "Destruction" — Transfers — On the march —
Ben's Church, Va.,
May 2, 1862.
My Dear Friend: — As was expected when I last
wrote to you, the military campaign of 1862 has
started early, not only here in Virginia, but at the "West
also, where our forces have sustained some severe re-
verses in Kentucky, and at Forts Henry and Donelson,
both of which places have been captured by the enemy.
In Carolina, also, on February 8th, the Federals suc-
ceeded in taking Roanoke Island, with the supplies and
garrison there, thus opening the way for an attack
upon Suffolk and Norfolk from that direction.
To offset these reverses, we have the brilliant naval
victory in Hampton Roads to cheer us. On March 8th,
our new ironclad, the Merrimac, that had been quietly
under construction all of last summer, dashed out from
Norfolk toward Newport News, attacked the Federal
fleet lying off there, destroyed two of their boats in
quick succession, and created great commotion in the
Federal Army near the scene. The fight was renewed
the next day between the Merrimac and the Monitor,
28 Under the Stars and Bars
also an iron-plated vessel, and the strongest, it is said,
in the Federal navy. The extent of the damage on
either side is not yet known with us here.
The 3d Regiment has gone across the river, taking
the Blues from Fort Boykin, thus leaving those works
entirely unoccupied for the time being. Our army on
the Peninsula is concentrating near Williamsburg, and
Gen. Joseph E. Johnston has assumed command. Most
of the infantry forces on this side have also been with-
drawn, and a battle is expected over there soon.
Our Company broke camp nearly a month ago, and
went first into a "camp of instruction," so designated,
but the boys dubbed it "camp destruction," on account
of the cold and wet weather and miserable time that we
had. Our men suffered greatly, after being so com-
fortably fixed all winter, and a good deal of sickness
has resulted from it.
It was while we were deepest in the mud at the afore-
said camp, down at Riddick's farm, near Suffolk, that
several of our men received their transfers, which they
had been looking for anxiously for sometime, and six
of them have left us to join the Surry Cavalry. It is
needless to say that the said men were highly elated at
the event, and they thought they had the laugh on the
rest of us. But we told them to wait and see. Some-
times "he laughs best who laughs last," and it may re-
sult this way in this case. The names of these boys
were William A. Clayton, G. A. Rowell, B. T. Jones,
Under the Stars and Bars 29
E. S. Spratley, R. C. Thompson, E. R. Bell; all good
and efficient men, which our Company can ill afford to
From the mud near Suffolk, we were ordered first,
to Barret's Point, which had been vacated by its former
garrison, and which appeared to us a most excellent
place to be captured in. Fortunately, no doubt, we were
soon withdrawn from that trap, and we are now at the
winter quarters lately occupied by the Southampton
Cavalry, near Ben's Church, and also near the old
Colonial church, known as St. Luke's, now in ruins,
Our stay here will be brief, and I cannot surmise from
what place I may address you next time.
Before I close, let me tell you of the sudden death
of one of the men, Thomas J. Rowell, whom you knew.
Tom was apparently well only the day before, was cheer-
ful and talkative, and no one thought that death was so
near him. But on the next morning he was stricken
with something like a congestive chill, and died before
noon. His remains were sent home under charge of
a detachment from the Company. Thus we have lost
two men by sickness within a very few weeks. Others
of the Company are sick in hospital, or at home.
Peace be with you, and health and safety.
Your friend, B.
[All the men named above as having procured trans-
fers, served efficiently in the 13th Virginia Cavalry,
30 Under the Stars and Bars
General Fitz Lee's command, and all lived to reach
home again at the close of the war. They saw a good
deal of hard service and fighting, and those of them
who are yet living could tell many interesting stories
of their adventures and escapes. Clayton served use-
fully for a time as scout, a difficult and dangerous duty.
He received a severe wound, from which he never fully
recovered, and died a year or two after the close of
the war. Spratley was shot through the body, but re-
covered, and is still living (1909) at Surry Courthouse.
The other four of the men, I believe, escaped without
wounds, and returned to become useful citizens. Of
these, E. R. Bell died at his home in Isle of Wight, in
December, 1905. B. T. Jones died at his home in
Surry, February 9, 1908; Thompson and Eowell are
yet living, the last having been, for a long time, a great
sufferer from paralysis. George A. Eowell died at his
home in Surry, May 20, 1909, while the book was pass-
ing through the press.]
Under the Stars and Bars 31
Destruction of the Merriraac — Advance of a Federal fleet —
Engagement at Harding's Bluff — Re-election of officers —
Postscript — Note.
Todd's Battery, Va.,
May 14, 1862.
My Dear Friend: — At an early hour on the morn-
ing of the 10th, a loud explosion in the direction of
Norfolk startled us in our quarters at this place, and
we have since learned that it was caused by the blowing
up and destruction of our famous warboat, the Merri-
mac, or Virginia, as it was named. It seems that the
boat sustained serious damage in the encounter with
the Monitor, and its draft being too great for it to be
taken far up the James, it was deemed the proper thing
to destroy it, to prevent its falling into the enemy's
hands. This is sad news. How the foe will rejoice!
I suppose they will take the hint, and soon build plenty
more like it.
We are now at Todd's Battery, a small entrenchment
near the mouth of Smithfield, or Pagan, creek. A
fleet of seven or eight Federal gunboats has just now
passed us, on its way up the river. It did not notice
us here, but saluted Fort Boykin with a shell or two.
As there were only a few militia at the place, the re-
sistance was feeble, and the fleet passed on, and turned
32 Under the Stars and Bars
its attention to Harding's Bluff, at the upper angle of
the Bay. The men there made a stout resistance, hold-
ing their fire pluckily for more than an hour, but with
what result I have not learned.
And so the war-guns are echoing near us often now.
A sharp battle was fought near Williamsburg on the
5th instant, where the 3d Regiment lost its first blood,
fortunately with few casualties. We are in daily ex-
pectation of the arrival of gunboats, in the attempt to
capture Smithfield. This is a weak place, but if they
come we will give them the best we have, and make them
welcome to it.
We are in daily expectation of orders to retire
from this place, and the impression among our men
is, that Norfolk and the whole Southside country is
being abandoned by our forces, and will soon be left
to the tender mercies of a vandal foe. What will be-
come of our homes, and the women and children, when
Our Company has just held an election of officers,
or rather a re-election. The same officers as before
were retained without change, except that Orderly
Sergeant W. R. Barham was chosen 3d Lieutenant, in
place of John A. Deal, who declined a re-election. It
is his purpose to transfer to the cavalry branch of ser-
vice. He has been a good officer, and is much esteemed.
In consequence of the vacancy in the office of 1st Ser-
Under the Stars and Bars 33
geant, our 2d Sergeant, T.. J. Berryman, has been ad-
vanced to the first place, and ISToah B. Pond appointed
to the vacancy thus created.
May the God of armies defend and keep you all, now
Your friend, B.
Postscript. — I have heard, since the above part of
my letter was written, that our friends, the militia,
over at Fort Boykin on the 14th, made a beautiful
retrograde movement from the place, as soon as the
Galena threw them her first shell. Poor fellows ! They
knew nothing about the working of those big guns.
What were they to do? No one could have expected
them to put up a fight, under such circumstances.
. [The S. L. A. did not tarry long at Todd's Battery.
The few forces yet remaining on the Southside having
been placed under the command of Col. R. F. Archer,
with instructions to proceed leisurely toward Peters-
burg, the magazine at Fort Boykin was fired and blown
up, Sergeant Xoah B. Pond, of our Company, per-
forming the difficult and dangerous task; the military
stores remaining in Smithfield were burned or distrib-
uted to the people; and then, with sad hearts, we bid
them adieu, and left them and their homes without
protection from the invader. At the time we questioned
34 Under the Stars and Bars
the necessity of the movement and gladly we would have
staid, to shield the women and children from the insults
of the foe. But it was our duty to obey orders, and we
We proceeded first to Ivor, from which place a
detachment was sent down, and an attempt made, to
destroy the railroad bridge across the Blackwater near
Zuni, but with poor success — and then, after tarrying
a night at Spring Hill church, in Sussex county, we
marched by easy stages to Petersburg, where we made
a brief stay. In a few days our Company was ordered
into Chesterfield, where General Holmes, with a few
forces, was holding the extreme right of the Confed-
erate line confronting McClellan below Kichmond.]
Under the Stars and Bars 35
In Chesterfield — The 2d Section goes to Richmond — Camping
around — Point of Rocks — Battle of Seven Pines — All quiet
on the burly Appomattox — Note.
Point of Rocks, Va.,
June 4, 1862.
My Dear Friend: — Well, here we are, that is to say,
half of the Company is here. The 2d Section, includ-
ing two guns and half of the men, in charge of Lieut.
Hankins, has gone on to Richmond. The detail is only
temporary, I suppose, and they are expected to return
After our march up here from Smithfield, we made
a brief stay in Petersburg, camping in a pine grove in
the western confines of the town, and then came over
into Chesterfield county, where we have been moving
around from place to pkce for some time. At the
present writing, we occupy a place on the Appomattox
river, six miles below Petersburg, at the point where
Swift Creek flows into that river. It is a high and
rocky bluff, rising up and overshadowing the main
channel of the river, which, at this place, lies very near
the shore. The position is naturally a very strong
one, and it is an admirable place for erecting works
that would be adequate to the defence of this river and
the safety of Petersburg from all naval attack. Properly
36 Under the Stars and Bars
fortified, it would be for the Appomattox what Drewry's
Bluff has so lately become for the James — a defence
against which no warships of the present day could
But there is nothing here in the line of defences.
Not a spadeful of dirt has been turned for earthworks
or redoubt, and I doubt if any are ever constructed here.
The great preparations now going on before Richmond
will prevent any thought or notice of this place, although
it lies naturally along the same line of defences as
those of the James river.
We are supposed to be here to dispute the advance
of Federal vessels up the Appomattox, but, if this be
the purpose, we ought to be supplied with far better
guns than these we have at present. Our little six-
pounders are entirely unfit to cope with the large and
powerful guns, such as the vessels of the Federal navy
carry at this day. It is but sacrificing men to require
them to stand by such guns as ours, and fight against
such odds. But, perhaps, our Government is unable,
at present, to do any better for us, and we will have
to stand to our post, and trust to luck.
A great battle was fought at Seven Pines, on the
east of Richmond, June 1st. The half of our Company
over there was near the battlefield, but was not engaged.
I hear that General Johnston was severely wounded, and
that General Robert E. Lee has been placed in command
of our army. McClellan is said to have an immense
host over there, and the resources of our Government
Under the Stars and Bars 37
will be put to a severe test. You may expect to hear
of stirring events shortly. Two great armies in such
close proximity cannot remain idle long. We do not
know how soon we may be called upon to meet an ad-
At this time, however, all is as quiet as a June day
Sabbath along the Appomattox. No turmoil of war is
disturbing us now. Though we occupy a post on the
extreme right of the Confederate lines, confronting
Richmond, we are too far from the main portion of both
armies to fall much into the commotion of the contend-
ing forces. General Holmes, under whose command we
are now acting, holds only a very thin and broken line
of forces, extending from this place to Drewry's Bluff
on the James. Unless McClellan should think to send
gunboats up this river to shell Petersburg — an entirely
feasible project at this moment — we are not likely to
have much to do, so long as we remain here. But in the
event that gunboats should come this way, there is
no telling what would be the fate of the few smooth-
faced Surry boys, who are, just now, laughing and tak-
ing their ease under the cool shade of the several fine
white oak trees that crown this beautiful bluff.
May heaven keep you all in old Surry ever safe from
invasion, and lawless freebooters.
Your friend, B.
[In the light of events that transpired soon after the
above letter was penned, there is no question about it
38 Under the Stars and Bars
but that a grave mistake was made, in not fortifying
the Point of Rocks, on the Appomattox, the same as was
done at Drewry's Bluff, on the James. The place could
have been, and should have been, made too strong for
the passage of any war craft up the river. The enemy
did attempt to pass up the stream, for the purpose of
shelling and destroying the city, and it was only by a
piece of fortunate and unexpected good luck on our
part, that they were foiled. With heavy guns and reso-
lute men on that rock-crowned hill, no vessels of that
day, even though encased with iron or steel, could have
forced the passage — and the fleet that did venture there
on the night of June 26th, would have been sunk or
Under the Stars and Bars 39
A contest with gunboats— Results of the fight— The enemy's
losses — The seven days' battles — Note.
Point of Rocks, Ya.,
June 28, 1862.
My Dear Friend: — I hasten to inform you that the
Light Artillery boys have had their baptism of fire, a
battle royal, and that with Federal gunboats ! And so
what was regarded as hardly probable has come to pass.
A fleet did come this way, though no one seemed to think
it would, and as it came and we were here, we fought
it to the best of our ability— fought it with only our
two smooth-bore, six-pounder guns, and a small infan-
On June 26th, McClellan and Lee began their great
test of skill and arms before Richmond, and on the
night of that same day, just as we were having roll call,
and the men were about to retire for the night, the boom
of a cannon a little way down the river, and the whizzing
of a shell as it sped by us, aroused us to the fact that the
enemy was approaching. Soon another shell followed
the first, and then several more to the right and the
left of the river, as if the enemy were feeling their way,
and trying to locate or uncover any hostile force.
And now we knew that there was work for us to do.
Despite our small number of men — some sixty only.
40 Under the Stars and Bars
one-half of the Company being away — and notwith-
standing the great disparity in the weight and effective-
ness of our guns, there was no thought of anything but
doing the best we could, and disputing the advance of
the fleet as long as we might.
The cannoneers sprang to their guns, and while the
Captain was giving some necessary orders concerning
the horses, the men stood waiting for orders to fire. By
this time the foremost of the vessels had come up very
near to us, and lay just below the bluff, not fifty yards
from our position on the top of it. The discharge of
our guns brought the fleet to a halt, and then the battle
began in earnest. But as the darkness of the night pre-
vented the enemy from getting the range and elevation
properly, most of their shells passed high over us, aiid
exploded far to the rear, without doing us any harm.
We fired upon the nearest of the boats as fast as we
rould load, and could hear the impact of our shells as
they struck on the iron armor of the vessels. Of course,
we were not doing the enemy much material harm at
that, but we were keeping him busy, trying to dislodge
us from our vantage ground on the bluff.
In the meantime, an infantry support had come to
our aid — two companies commanded by Lieutenant
J. T. West — and these men found excellent shelter be-
hind the large boulders of granite on the sides of the
bluff. As often as the port-holes of the boats were
opened, the infantry poured in upon the gunners a per-
fect fusillade of minnie balls, that galled them most
Under the Stars and Bars 41
severely, and did great execution among them. Being
at such close range, every shot almost did some injury,
while the infantry were completely sheltered by the
masses of rock that lie all around, on either side of the
Being stung almost to desperation by the fire of the
infantry into their portholes, and maddened by their
inability to lodge an effective shot on the top of the
bluff, where our guns were placed, the enemy seemed
now to double their efforts to destroy us, and the roar
of their guns and the bursting of their shells became
terrific and deafening. But for our elevated position,
and their near approach to us, they would doubtless
have pounded every man of us into mincemeat. If they
elevated their guns enough to miss the edge of the rock,
their balls passed over, and did no injury. They were
only wasting their amunition, and were doing us no
Thus the fight went on for more than two hours.
The boats did not slacken their fire, and the boys con-
tinued to pepper their iron sides as fast as they could
load. After awhile, one of the boats lower down the
river got the range better, and then several of their
huge shells exploded very near us. One of these, burst-
ing near a group of our men, wounded several of them,
two of them quite seriously. Our 2d Lieutenant, I. O.
Crenshaw, was dangerously wounded about the hip, and
W. John Edwards, a private, was also painfully hurt
by a piece of the same shell. Two others were slightly
42- Under the Stars and Bars
In the course of the engagement, a lucky shot from
one of our guns, entered the porthole of one of the
vessels, and plunging downward, made a leak in the
hull, that obliged them to run the craft aground, to
prevent it from sinking in deep water. This boat, after
taking off the valuables, they have now burned and
Thus, if we did no more, we have been instrumental
in checking the advance of the fleet upon the city of
Petersburg, and have caused the destruction of one of
their warships, besides the killing or wounding (as we
have since learned) of fifty of their men. Our loss was
five men wounded, two of them seriously. It is thought
that Lieutenant Crenshaw is dangerously hurt. The
wounded men were sent on to hospital the same night.
The Petersburg Express of the 27th contains a glow-
ing account of the affair, but beyond that no notice
has been taken of it. The great struggle at Richmond
that began on the same day, and which is yet going on,
absorbs the whole attention of the country, and of the
We are now camping in the vicinity of Port Wal-
thall on Swift Creek, two miles from Point of Rocks.
The gunboats have returned down the river, and some
of the boys have gone over in a boat, to take a look
at the remains of the vessel that was burned. Heavy
musketry firing has been echoing all the morning from
the country east of Richmond. It is a contest of giants,
and the final result still hangs in the balance, concealed
from all eves but God's.
Under the Stars and Bars 43
Thankful to Almighty God that so many of us have
escaped unharmed in the midst of so much danger, and
with a prayer for the continued safety of our friends
at home, I remain,
Your friend, B.
[This, the first engagement in which the Surry Ar-
tillery took part in the war between the States, while
it attracted no notice from the public press at the
time, because of the great drama that was at the same
moment being enacted, day after day, for more than
a week, before Richmond, was not devoid of important
results and benefits to the Confederacy. In the first
place, it gave the boys of the S. L. A. confidence in
themselves, and their ability to make a good fight under
any ordinary or reasonable conditions. They knew
that the circumstances under which they fought on this
occasion were unique. They felt that it should not
have been expected of them, with only two light field
pieces, to stand and contend against the heavy cannon
of seven Federal gunboats. Against infantry in the
field, or cavalry, they believed they could have done
much better. Or with heavier and more effective guns
to work, they had no doubt but that they might have
inflicted more damage on the vessels.
Besides, the affair had tested their fighting qualities,
and none of them had shown the white feather. All
had stood to their posts like Trojan heroes, and had
fought until ordered to retire and rendezvous at an-
44 Under the Stars and Bars
Secondly, the result showed the value of an infantry
support, when engaged against gunboats on all narrow
waters. It was to the infantry, doubtless, that we
owed the whole loss of the enemy in killed and wounded.
And this was considerable.
Thirdly, it is highly probable that we saved Peters-
burg from bombardment, and perhaps from a destruc-
tive fire, and it is certain that we caused the destruction
of one of the enemy's vessels, and that we gave the
Confederacy a serviceable engine, to put upon an iron-
clad. The engine of the burned vessel was subsequently
raised, carried to Richmond, and placed on one of the
boats built by the Confederacy.
Thus the foe lost a gunboat and a considerable num-
ber of men, and accomplished nothing. We lost no
material, and gained in military spirit and confidence.]
Under the Stars and Bars 45
Return of the 2d Section — End of the seven days' struggle —
McClellan stationary — Balloons — Death of I. 0. Crenshaw —
Walthall Junction, Va.,
July 15, 1862.
My Dear Friend: — The 2d Section of our battery,
that has been separated from the other half of the Com-
pany, has returned. It reached this vicinity on the
evening of our gunboat fight — June 26th — but was not
near enough to render us any aid on that occasion. Of
course, the boys of the two sections have a great deal
to tell each other of their experiences, since we parted
several weeks ago.
The great conte.-t of arms between Lee and McClel-
lan, after continuing a week, has ceased. After many
hard and bloody battles, from Mechanicsville to Mal-
vern Hill, General Lee succeeded in rolling back Mc-
Clellan's vast host of 120,000 men, and the Federal
Army is now quietly reposing, and resting, at Berkley
on the James. Though he is said to still have around
him an army greater in number than General Lee's,
yet he finds it convenient to throw away all that he had
gained in his advance upon Richmond, and to acknowl-
edge his defeat by retiring under the cover of his great
fleet of gunboats in the James.
46 Under the Stars and Bars
The great army of invaders, that began their march
up the Peninsula two months ago, and whose pathway
from Big Bethel to Mechanicsville has been swept by
fire and desolation, appears to be quiet and well-behaved
enough now. They have felt the weight of the South-
ern arm when striking for home and family, and doubt-
less are aware, by this time, that they cannot walk over
the land, as they would over a conquered province, and
continue to burn and destroy at will. Apart from
sending up a few balloons, with men and glasses to
spy out the location of our forces, or the weak points
in our defences, the Federals appear to be doing nothing
to break the usual monotony of life in camp. I have
observed two or three balloons recently, resting sta-
tionary high in air, while, doubtless, the occupants were
"taking note" of all they could discover in the country
from the Appomattox to the Chickahominy. The Fed-
erals are welcome to all they can learn in this way, in
such a wooded country.
Since I wrote you on June 28th, 2d Lieutenant I. O.
Crenshaw has died of his wounds. As I then stated, he
was dangerously wounded in the fight at Point of Rocks,
and, despite the best attention of the medical staff, and
of his friends from Richmond, the hurt proved to be a
fatal one. He is dead. He had been a good and effi-
cient officer, and was much esteemed by the men. The
Confederacy has lost a worthy and valuable citizen and
Under the Stars and Bars 47
We are now in our cloth tents near Walthall
Junction, on the P. & R. railway* All is quiet around
us at present, despite the proximity of such a great
army and fleet, whose flag is not the Stars and Bars.
But we hear that the Federals are retiring on trans-
ports down the river, to be sent on to some other field
of battle and blood, in this or another State.
We have a large sick list now for so small a Com-
pany, the most of them in hospital in Petersburg.
There have been several cases of the measles this sum-
mer, and dysentery prevails among the men.
May your guardian angel shield you.
Your friend, B.
[The spring and earlier summer months of 1862
proved to be a sickly period for the S. L. A., and many
of the cases resulted fatally. Among the deaths about
this time, I recall the names of the following, and am
not sure that this list includes all that died during that
John W. Edwards, from Moore's Swamp, who
had joined us only in the early part of that year ; Josiah
Bell, from Mill Swamp, who came in the latter part of
'61 ; Robert and Emmet Collier, brothers, from Surry,
new recruits ; Anson Goodrich, another new man, but a
few months with us ; and Richard Moring, who died at
our camp, near Walthall Junction, in July, 1862, and
whose remains were interred nearby, in a field over-
48 Under the Stars and Bars
grown with small pines. The others died in Petersburg,
and were buried in the Soldiers' burying-place near
there. The remains of some of them were afterwards
carried home for re-interment. All these died early, a
prey to disease, giving their young lives a sacrifice to
freedom's cause and Southern rights. Though they fell
not in battle, their record is honorable and without a
stain. Let us keep their memories green.
"Here plant the ivy and the pine,
And let the myrtle spring —
And 'round these names the wreath entwine
Of everlasting green."
"They fell in a cause, tho' lost, still just,
And died for me and you."
Under the Stars and Bars 49
Shelling a gunboat — Results — Discharge of 35-year men — Lee in
Northern Virginia — A comet — Election for 3d Lieutenant —
Autumn — Note.
Walthall Junction, Va.,
August 5, 1862.
My Dear Friend: — On Sunday afternoon, August 3d,
our battery was ordered to proceed at once to a point
near Bermuda Hundred, for the purpose of shelling a
gunboat that had grounded in the James river near that
place. We reached the designated point, put our guns
in position, and began firing upon the stranded vessel.
About the same time, another battery on the southern
side of the Appomattox joined in the shelling, and thus
we had the boat between two fires.
Our shots reached and struck the boat, inflicting some
damage, no doubt. But the vessel was too far away
for our small guns, and we probably did it but little
harm. We soon discovered there was no chance for
us to sink the craft, and the fire of the battery on the
other side of the river appeared to be doing no more
execution than our own. Both of us were firing at very
long range for such small calibre guns.
But if the Federals were grounded, they were not
helpless, and as their vessel lay broadside to us, they
brought several guns into action, and soon returned our
50 Under the Stars and Bars
fire with vigor. They quickly sent over the water to-
ward us some pretty big playthings, some of which
burst near us, but the most of them went whizzing and
screaming by, far to the rear. A few of their huge
"lamp-posts," as the boys called them, struck the ground
some distance in front of the guns, and ricochetting beau-
tifully, passed over in grand style without exploding.
We kept up the game with them more than an hour.
But as we saw the ironclad Galena coming with all
speed to the aid of her consort, and as it was plain that
we were doing her no material damage, the officer in
charge of us — a Captain Taylor, I believe, of General
Holmes' staff — directed us to withdraw. We came off
with only the loss of one horse, killed by a piece of a
shell, and one man, Corporal R. R. Savedge, slightly
wounded in the knee.
In obedience to an order received from headquarters
in Richmond, whereby all men in the army who are
more than 35 years old, were to be discharged, and per-
mitted to return to their homes, a dozen or more of our
men have lately bid us adieu and retired from the ser-
vice. They were:
J. Nicholas Bell (butler), J. Thomas Brown (the
fiddler), Xicholas A. Brown, Roger Casey, James R.
Hatchell, William W. Edwards, James Gay, Randolph
Johnson, John R. Kea, James King, William II. Little,
John W. Presson, and James X. Spratley.
Under the Stars and Bars 51
We learn here, though it is not in the papers, that
Lee's army — the main part of it, at least — is now in
Xorthern Virginia, and that a General Pope has super-
seded General McClellan in command of the [Northern
Army. The great army of McClellan in these parts
has been withdrawn, and with it most of the fleet. It
is certain very little of their fleet was in sight about
City Point on the afternoon of the 3d.
A large comet is visible now in the northwestern sky,
and is getting nearer and plainer to view every evening.
Its shape is much like that of the Turkish cimeter.
What it may portend, if anything, no one, perhaps,
In consequence of the death of 2d Lieutenant I. O.
Crenshaw, Lieutenant W. R. Barham has been advanced
to the vacancy, and an election has been held to fill the
vacancy in the third place. The contest lay between
J. W. Whitley, Commissary Sergeant, and Orderly
Sergeant T. J. Berryman, and resulted in Whitley's
election. Hilton II. Gray was, thereupon, appointed to
the post of Commissary Sergeant. Gray came to us
early in 18G2, from the vicinity of Mill Swamp. He
had been sutler at Camp Cook in 1861.
Brown-hued autumn is here again, and the now quiet
and solemn woods of old Chesterfield are beginning to
wear their many-colored robes of yellow and dun, and
52 Under the Stars and Bars
bronze and red, telling us that the reign of summer is
over, and another winter is fast approaching. Not the
sound of a gun is heard. Even the gunboats that patrol
the James seem to have omitted their usual morning
salute for the time being. We are reposing at ease.
Rations are enough, but not as plentiful as a year ago.
The boys forage for wild grapes (of which there are a
good many near here this fall), and apples, and butter-
milk, and so they sing their songs, and contrive to
•'while away the time" without getting into that mis-
erable state denominated "the blues."
All is quiet in the vicinity of the two cities, and we
are falling back into the easy ways of life in camp, until
called forward again to more active duties in another
Grace and mercy be with you all.
Your friend, B.
[Of the 35-year men noted in this letter as having
been discharged from service, only two subsequently
returned to the army. J. T. Brown afterwards re-
enlisted in the S. L. A., and continued to perform his
duties until near the end of the war, when he died of
small-pox. His death took place at the small-pox hos-
pital in Richmond, in the latter part of the summer
of 1S64. His remains were buried in Oakwood, the
Confederate cemetery, near the eastern limits of the city.
W. H. Little also re-enlisted. He joined Company
H, 13th Virginia Cavalry, where he remained till the
Under the Stars and Bars 53
close of the war. Since the war, returning to his native
county (Isle of Wight), he has twice married, and has
been a prosperous farmer. He is still living (1909).
£T one of the other men ever returned to the army.
J. W. Presson died at his home in Surry in 1863. All
of the others named died within a few years after the
end of the struggle. Hatchell was, I believe, the last
survivor of the thirteen, except W. H. Little, who is
About the time the above letter was penned, Lee's
army, in its advance into iSTorthern Virginia, had fought
the great battles of Cedar Run and the Second Man-
assas, and having "pushed Pope out of the saddle/' to
be succeeded by McClellan, who was again put at the
head of affairs, were advancing into Maryland. In con-
sequence of these movements, a few months' interreg-
num of unusual quiet and peace prevailed around the
Confederate Capital, and the country along the lower
James, and in all Southern Virginia. The storm-centre
of war had shifted from the James to the Potomac, and
the Light Artillery was permitted to enjoy a few weeks'
repose, ere the winter set in, and they were moved for-
ward to other quarters. Visits from friends at home,
or the arrival of boxes with needed articles of apparel,
and other remembrances, fell into the otherwise dull
routine of soldier life, like bright sunshine after days
of gloom. The remainder of the summer of 1862 sped
softly by for the S. L. A., and they rested and
54 Under the Stars and Bars
On to Manchester— The "wood brigade" — Resignation of Captain
Ruffin — Promotions and election — The town — View of Rich-
mond — Note.
November 5, 1862.
My Dear Friend: — We abandoned our old quarters
near Walthall Junction two weeks ago, and are now
camping in a park by the old race course at Manchester
on the James. It is a good enough place to camp in,
except that both wood and water are rather scarce
articles here, and these, as you may readily imagine,
are very essential things for a soldier's comfort and
welfare, especially as the nights are already getting
rather cool, and fires are needed.
As to water, we manage to get enough for the men
and for cooking, by going a little distance to the wells
around, and the horses are driven to a brook half a
mile away. And, as for wood, the several "messes" or-
ganize their "wood brigades" daily, and the men go off
a little distance into the country, pick up whatever they
can find for fire, and lug it into camp on their shoulders.
It would amuse you to see the grotesque pictures some
of the boys make with their big turns of "sticks," such
as brush, broken fence-rails, etc., etc., as they come
panting and sweating back, under their loads of wood.
Under the Stars and Bars 55
Some of them, by using a rope to tie the sticks into
bundles, carry almost enough to fill a cart. And you
had better believe that the men keep a sharp eye on their
precious piles of wood, lest some of the less energetic
among the men "snake" away a piece now and then on
the sly. If you want to raise a little excitement in
camp, all you have to do is to_pretend to be after some
fellow's wood. You had as well poke a hornet's nest.
"Get out of my wood-pile, you thief," is quickly
heard, generally followed by some such article as a
frying-pan, or a hatchet, or a stone.
And then the cries of, "Go for him, John!" "Lam
him with a piece!" "Throw your skillet at him!" and
similar expressions, resound from side to side of the
camp, while the offender beats a hasty retreat to shelter.
It is such episodes as these that serve to keep our life
in camp from becoming utterly unendurable, and such
little tableaux are rather encouraged and taken part in
by our officers. For, to the credit of our commissioned
officers, let me inform you that they do not hold them-
selves aloof from the men, but mingle with them, when
off duty, with perfect familiarity and equality, re-
garding the men, socially and every way, as upon the
same plane with themselves.
There have been some changes in the grades of our
commanding officers recently. Captain Euffin having
sent in his resignation sometime since, it has been ac-
cepted, and he has lately bid his old Company adieu,
56 Under the Stars and Bars
and has retired from service for a time. It is stated
that it is his purpose to enter the cavalry service. As
the result of his withdrawal, James D. Hankins has
been promoted to the Captaincy, W. R. Barham be-
comes 1st Lieutenant, and J. W. Whitley, 2d Lieuten-
ant, and an election has been held to fill the third place.
The choice of the men was almost unanimous for W. W.
Foreman for that office, and accordingly he becomes our
3d Lieutenant. He is very popular with all the men,
and will make a fine commanding officer.
Manchester is a dingy and rather dilapidated old
town, that appears to have been built without much
regard to order or regularity, along the original high-
way leading toward Powhatan and Amelia counties, and
seems to have stopped growing entirely. There is a
post-office, which, of course, is being largely patronized
by the men, and several churches, where the boys are
pretty regular attendants. Guards, however, are sta-
tioned almost everywhere about the place, and a soldier
cannot move around much without a written "permit."
As many of our men as can get the consent of the
"officer of the day" to do so, go along with the feed and
commissary wagons as they go into Richmond every
day, and thus manage to pass about without molestation
from the guard.
The view of Richmond from this side of the James
river is varied and picturesque. The State Capitol,
which is now also the Capitol for the Confederate
Under the Stars and Bars 57
States, the post-office, and many churches, mills and
factories, stand out prominently in the picture, and the
whole city lies before you in queenly splendor and
beauty. The river here is more than the fourth of a
mile wide, but is much broken up with a multitude of
rocky islets and bowlders, against which the waters are
ever beating in angry fury and noise. The bridges of
the P. & R., and the R. & D. railroads are prominent
objects in the view, and lower down old Mayo's wagon
bridge is seen. The prospect is inspiring and enrap-
turing. Read Dyer's Gronger Hill, and apply the first
few lines to the prospect that now calls forth these ap-
preciative remarks from him who is now and always,
Your friend, B.
[Doubtless my comrades will recall, with some degree
of complacency, those few pleasant weeks that sped by
Jill too fleetly during that sunny autumn at Manches-
ter — will remember Mathews, the postmaster, and the
little ricketty hospital, where some of our men were
cared for in sickness — also Dr. Childs, the head physi-
cian there — and, perhaps, too, will recall to mind the
little match factory on the side of the main street, where
friction matches were made. They remember yet the
cotton mills down by Mayo's bridge, then idle and silent,
and the little church, where they loved to attend the
prayer-meetings. Of course, there have been great
changes in the town since that pleasant autumn of 1862.
But, for us of the S. L. A., the pictures of Manchester
58 Under the Stars and Bars
that memory will call up, will be of those olden things
that were there when first we saw the place, during the
ruder days of war. But, for more of our soldier life
there, see the next letter. And here, as well as any
where, I will name the new men, the recruits, that came
to us during 1862 r
Archibald R. Atkins, William T. Atkins, and Calvin
Baker, Alexander Baker and James Baker, three
brothers, all the above from Isle of Wight county;
Joseph II. Barham, from Surry, early in the year ; Wil-
liam O. Barlow, from Isle of Wight ; William T. Bell
(Boston), from Surry; Thomas T. Cockes and Abner
B. Cofer, both from Surry ; Peter F. Crocker and Wil-
liam Crocker, from Isle of Wight; Edward L. Collier
and Robert A. Collier, brothers, from Surry ; George W.
Dean, Matthew A. Delk, and Hezekiah Delk, from Isle
of Wight ; John W. Edwards, Thomas X. Edwards, An-
son Goodrich, from Surry county; John P. Goodson,
Milton H. Gray, and Junius Gray, from Isle of Wight ;
John A. Gwaltney, from Surry, and Pembrx»ok D.
Gwaltney, from Isle of Wight ; James Hatchell and
William E. Harris, from Surry; Bird Harvey and
George C. Holmes, from Southampton; Thomas A.
James, Wiley Jones, James Judkins, Benjamin O. Jud-
kins and John R. Kea, from Surry; William E. Long
and William B. Moore, from Surry; William J. Pres-
son, from Southampton, and John F. Ramsey, from
Isle of Wight; Asa Rogers (our ''Commodore"), from
Surry; and Benton D. Thomas, from Petersburg;
Under the Stars and Bars 59
Lewis L. Turner, James M. Turner, and W. Henry
Turner, from Isle of Wight ; James C. Underwood,
from Surry; Linnaeus W. "White, from Isle of Wight;
aiid Thomas II. Williams (the shoemaker), from
Prince George county.
A goodly array of names, and it includes much of
the very best material of our Company. These addi-
tions, forty-six in all, joined to the twenty-four who
came in during the latter part of 1861, make the total
list of names on our muster-roll 123. From this deduct,
for deaths and discharged men of the 35-year list, 21,
and the net strength of the Company, at the close of
1SG2, was 102 men.
Of the above recruits, Pembrook D. Gwaltney, now
of Smithfield, Va., never served with the Company.
Being an expert artisan and gunsmith, on joining our
Company in July, 1SC2, he was at once detailed for
service in the Ordnance Department, where he remained
till the close of the war. See an" appendix at the close
of the book.]
60 Under the Stars and Bars
Frame barracks — Sick men — Foreign residents — Lee at Fred-
ericksburg — The city defences — A snow storm — Rations —
]\ T ov. 20, 1862.
My Dear Friend: — The S. L. A. having been or-
dered to occupy Battery Xo. 16, on the western confines
of Manchester, where there is plenty of water and a
fair supply of wood nearby, we are now supposed to
be in winter quarters, good frame buildings, with brick
chimneys. Accordingly, our tents have been packed,
and we have barracks where we may have fires inside
and a little more room for bunks.
But, as yet, we have to cook out of doors — when we
have anything to cook — for there is no room in the
barracks for the camp kettles and mess-pans and other
utensils, and, if there were room enough, the fire-
places are too small for cooking anything larger than
a snow-bird. If we stay here long, maybe the different
messes will build them cooking shelters, and then we
will have both great-house and kitchen, and will feel
almost as if we were living at home again. It is by no
means certain, however, that any such good luck
Under the Stars and Bars 61
This battery was constructed for heavy guns, and
for infantry, but only a few of the large pieces have
been put in place. There is no infantry here, and no
magazine or storeroom for arms or ammunition. It is
an unfinished place, and perhaps will never advance be-
yond the present stage of completion.
A dozen or more of our men are on the sick list, and
most of them have been sent to the little rickety hos-
pital down in the village. An old snuff factory near
Mayo's bridge .has been converted into a temporary
hospital for the few soldiers that are now on this side
of the river, and a Doctor Childs, a resident physician
of ^Manchester, has charge. The ladies of the town devote
some attention to our sick, and sometimes they furnish
from their own homes some delicacy or nourishment
for the men. So the little wayside hospitals, as it were,
like this one here, are the best, after all.
There are a great many able-bodied foreign residents
in this place, who, but for the fact that they are of
foreign extraction, would, I suppose, have to be in the
army. They claim to be exempt from military service
because they have never become naturalized citizens of
the State, and hence our Government has no right to
force them into service. They remain at home in their
rase, while their betters are marching, entrenching and
fighting, to protect them and their property from mo-
lestation. This looks hardlv fair to the native sons of
62- Under the Stars and Bars
the State, "who are baring their breasts to the storm
in all its intensity and fury. If these men would
work to help produce food for the rest of us, it would
be less unequal. But nearly all of them that I have
seen appear to be thoroughly idle and worthless. They
are non-prod ueers, and therefore only parasites, living
and loafing at the expense of the general public.
And who knows but that some of them are spies,
watching our Government, and the trend of affairs, and
keeping the .enemy informed by some sort of ''grape-
vine telegraph" of all that is going on here at the
Capital of the Confederacy? I, for one, believe that a
strict watch should be kept over all these people. I am
told there are great numbers of them in Richmond. In
one sense it may be. politic to allow them to batten here,
but it seems to me to be unwise, if not weak, to do so.
One of these same parasites had the audacity, a few days
since, to say to me :
"I could spike every gun in that battery," meaning
Battery Xo. 1G.
I simply replied to him: "Come and try it, then.
We have a guard there now."
The remark seemed to be inspired by a spirit an-
tagonistic to the Sourhern cause.
After fighting some terrible battles in Maryland, and
after the capture of Harper's Ferry by General Stone-
wall Jackson, General Lee has returned to Virginia,
and is now in the vicinitv of Fredericksburg. McClel-
Under the Stars and Bars 63
Ian, as he did not succeed in whipping Lee, as it was
his business to have done, has again been "bounced" by
his Government, and a General Burnside has succeeded
him. Whether the last elevation will be able either to
burn or turn any one's sides, remains to be seen.
There are rumors that stirring events are expected to
happen hereabouts soon. Burnside is manifesting great
activity, though it is so far advanced into the season of
winter, and a battle may take place very soon. It is
reported that both the York and James rivers are full
of transports, and it is conjectured they are conveying
an army to attack Richmond. In this event, with Lee
engaged with Burnside on the Rappahannock, the forces
around Richmond would, doubtless, have more than
they could do to hold back an invading army, advancing
on us from the York or the James.
So far as I have seen, or learned, there are very few
forces stationed here now. How easy it would seem
for any foreign citizen ( ?) so disposed, to inform an
advancing enemy of our weak condition just at this
time, and then a leader with any push about him, by
making a sudden dash upon the defences here, might
easily ride over them into the very heart of the city.
And our earthworks — these on the southern side of
the city, at least — even were there plenty of men here
to ocupy them, look to be weak and entirely inadequate
for checking an army of resolute men. Let us hope
that, despite our suspicions and fears, there are really
no spies here to betray us into the hands of a wily and
64 Under the Stars and Bars
We have had quite a snow storm up here, and the
ground is carpeted with a four-inch layer of the most
beautiful white plush, spotless and pure as a maiden's
prayer. It is cold to-day. A brisk and biting wind is
coming down across the James, that finds its way readily
through the faded and thin uniforms of the men. In
the absence of overcoats, the men go about wrapped
in their blankets, which are thus made to do double
service — a cover by night, a protection by day. Even
a piece of an old tent, anything that can be utilized,
serves to keep out some of the cold. I trust the families
at home, the women and children, are better provided
for against the coming storms and blasts.
Rations are out in camp. But this is "draw-day,"
as the men call it, and our wagons have gone into town
for supplies. But they will not return before the after-
noon, and all will have to fast until then. True, Jack,
with his pies, may be around soon, but money is almost
as scarce in this camp as are rations. And it takes a
big bill to buy a small pie from Jack. O, for a dash at
the sweet potatoes, corn pone, and sorghum molasses
down in old Surry!
May the good angel guard and keep you all, now and
Your friend, B.
[The Company did not repose long at Battery 1G.
And, after all, it would have been but a bleak, cold place
for a winter camp. There were no thick woods around
Under the Stars and Bars 65
to break off the northern winds, which would have had
a clear sweep upon us, across the James at this point.
It was well for us that we were moved to another and
more sheltered position on the eastern side of Rich-
66 Under the Stars and Bars
Christmas eve — Church bells — Christmas boxes — Fredericksburg —
Attached to Lightfoot's Battalion— Our camp — Xo snug
cabins — Note.
Camp Ropek, Va.,
Dec. 24, 1862.
My Dear Friend: — It is now December 24th —
Christmas eve again, the second that we have passed
in camp. But how great the contrast in our condition
and surroundings with those of last year, down at
Camp Pemberton, in Isle of Wight ! Then rations were
plentiful and good, and we could get plenty of good
things from our homes, not a great many miles away.
Here the most of us are but thinly clad and scantily
fed, and we have no snug cabins to shelter us from the
blast3 and snows of winter.
The day is bright and beautiful, but cold, and there
is no appearance of the good cheer and extra fixings
that used to come to us at Christmas time. How I
would like to look in upon the homes of old Surry, to
see if her people are thinking of the soldier boys to-day !
The church bells of the city are sounding out loud
and clear, doubtless calling the ladies' aid societies and
committees together for the purpose of devising ways
and means, and planning for pleasant surprises for
friends and kindred somewhere in the army. Many,
Under the Stars and Bars 67
no doubt, will get the Christmas box to-morrow, and
thus be made happy. It is well. It is pleasant to be
remembered. It is pleasant to remember. And I know
that the wives and daughters, and mothers and sisters,
of the men of the S. L. A. will think of their loved
ones in the army, and at least send up a prayer to the
throne of grace for their safety and well-being, if they
can send no box or token of remembrance to the men.
But perhaps there will be some boxes, too, from the
friends in Surry and Isle of Wight. The wagons go
into town early to-morrow morning, and one of them
will call at the depot, to see if there may be anything
for any of the men.
Letters from home! And Christmas boxes! How
these things will cheer the hearts of the men and revive
their drooping spirits! How sweet to have tangible
evidence that some one cares for you ! Blessings on the
senders of the letters and boxes.
In the recent great contest of arms at Fredericks-
burg, Bumside appears to have been badly beaten, and
his army has returned to its first position on the north-
ern side of the river. He got his own sides burned
■with a vengeance, especially on Mary's Hill. It was a
decided victory for the Southern arms.
Our Company has but recently been attached to Col.
Charles A. Lightfoot's Battalion of Light Artillery,
composed now of three batteries, namely, Captain
G8 Under the Stars and Bars
Rives's Battery, of Albemarle county, six fine guns;
Captain Thornton's Battery, from Caroline county, also
six splendid guns; and our own, or Hankins's Battery,
of four guns. But they are not the same four small,
light pieces that we had at first. Those were turned
in some time ago, and were replaced with four good
and effective cannon of greater calibre and weight.
Two of them are brass, 12-pound Napoleon field pieces,
and two are 9-pound rifled guns of the best pattern.
Thus the Battalion has sixteen good guns, with horses
and all necessary equipments for effective warfare. It
is regarded as a strong command. Colonel Light foot
is fast becoming popular with the men. He is a native
of Culpeper county.
We are now in camp on the eastern side of Richmond,
one mile from the corporation line, and near Battery
No. 2, where Captain Harrison's Prince George-Surry
Heavy Artillery is stationed. As to quarters, we have
none yet, except our cloth tents (which have been
brought into requisition again), and such shanties as
the men have been able to construct, to cook and eat in.
The outlook is, that a piece of cotton cloth will be our
only protection from the snows and storms of winter,
while we remain at this place. I trust the season will
prove to be a mild one. Few of the men have any good
and warm clothing, and they will miss the snug quar-
ters that we had a year ago. But there is plenty of
wood, and also good water here, and we are sheltered
from the northern winds by a piece of forest, on the
Under the Stais and Bars 69
border of which our camp is laid out. The guard duty
will be light this winter, as we will have no outpost to
May the sun shine warm upon you at home.
Your friend, B.
[Our chances for passing the winter comfortably at
Camp Roper were far better than they could have been
at Battery 16, and it was a fortunate circumstance for
us that we were moved. Besides plenty of wood for
fires, the water was excellent, and we were camped near
to men who, to numbers in our Company, were old ac-
quaintances and friends. Many of the men in Battery
2 were from Surry county, and, therefore, well known
to many of the S. L. A. The intercourse between the
two commands became general and frequent, and, in a
social way, the winter of 1862-'63 passed very agree-
ably for us. There was but little sickness among the
men ; the season was mild, with but little snow, and
nothing occurred to disturb our repose, or call us out
of our quarters, except one little false alarm.]
70 Under the Stars and Bars
A night on picket — Snowed under — Only a cavalry raid — And
a false alarm — Note.
Camp Ropek, Va.,
My Dear Friend: — After a few weeks of almost
blissful repose for the soldier life, we have had another
little experience of war — ''bitter-sweet" some of the
boys called it, since, though we suffered considerably,
we met no enemy, and, of course, did no fighting, and
soon returned to our camp.
On Thursday afternoon, the Sth instant, our Battery
received orders to march at once. It was near sunset
when the despatch came, and we were in for a night
on the outer lines. We were to occupy a position on the
York river railway where it intersects the outer line
of defences, for there are three separate lines of earth-
worths or other defences, that circumvallate the city on
all sides. It was near 10 o'clock when we reached the
Our four guns were put in positions to render it as
warm for the enemy as could be contrived in the dark-
ness, and sentries were posted to keep a sharp lookout
for any advancing foe, including, of course, an advance
picket, some distance to the front. The rest of us, not
Under the Stars and Bars 71
on the guard detail, spread the tarpaulins (tarred can-
vas, one of which goes with each gun, to spread over it
when a battery is in park), and then the cannoneers, each
one wrapped in his blanket, lay down together on the
canvas, by the guns to rest and sleep.
But, lo ! before morning, for the night was cloudy
and stormy-looking, down thick and fast fell the fleecy
snow, covering us all with a blanket of white, both warm
and beautiful ! It is needless to say that we slept
soundly, despite the snow. A soldier can sleep any-
where. No foe disturbed us, and the snow only served
to keep us warm under another, canvas that had been
drawn over us, after all had laid down.
It fell out that the detachment at one of the guns
had made their bed in a graveyard, and the boys of
that gun slept that night literally among the dead. But
they slept well, and perhaps had sweet dreams of home
and loved ones. Xone of them would have laid awake
if he had known that the dead were there.
The morrow dawned bright and beautiful. The
grotesque figures of some of the men, as they crawled
from under their robes of snow, evoked many a laugh
and jest. The novelty and romance of the occasion
dispelled all gloom and disposition to murmur, and
good humor and jolity were in the ascendant. It was
much better than fighting and bleeding would have
been, for no enemy had come, and no one complained
of the snow or the bitter cold.
"Aud mournfully over the frozen earth
The wind sobbed loud and shrill,"
72 1 Under the Stars and Bars
but, with the first blush of daylight, the men were
allowed to build fires, and their petty sufferings from
the cold were soon forgotten.
It turned out that no enemy was anywhere around.
It was a false alarm. There had been a cavalry raid
somewhere down about the railroad station at West
Point, and the rumor had grown out of that. But the
enemy, like sensible fellows, were, no doubt, quietly
sleeping in their warm bunks, instead of trying to
pierce the lines before Richmond on any such night
as that had been.
Before noon, orders came for our return to winter
quarters, and you may be sure the men lost no time in
obeying it. We found that "Company Q" had kept the
fires steadily burning during our absence, and — they
had also consumed nearly all the available rations. But
we put them on duty bringing in a fresh supply of
wood, and soon all was peace again.
Peace be with you at home.
Your friend, B.
[This "Company Q" is nearly always present, in
greater or less number, in every military company that
goes out into service. It is a sort of unavailable part,
composed of the men not quite sick enough for the hos-
pital, but not effective for active service or hard duty.
It is a difficult point sometimes to determine who should
and who should not have a place in this "Company."]
Under the Stars and Bars 73
Snow and wind storm — Tents overturned — Rat venison — A new
flag — Battalion drills — Note.
Camp Ropek, Va.,
Feby. 6, 1863.
My Dear Friend: — Yesterday, February 5th, it
snowed nearly all day, covering the ground by night
several inches deep, with its fleecy ermine. As dark-
ness came on, the wind rose higher and higher, till it
became a terrific gale. In consequence thereof, several
of the tents were overturned, and the boys put out of
You may depend upon it that, amid the darkness
and confusion, there was some lively scampering around
for awhile, trying to put the tents up again. But it is
no fool's job to set a tent upright before a hard wind,
even in daylight. And at night — and such a night —
the task was almost a hopeless one. But, as Napoleon
said to his engineer, when he asked him if the route
was practicable: "Barely possible, Sire," said the en-
gineer. "Let us go forward, then," replied the great
commander. And so the boys of the S. L. A., though
the task of erecting tents in a wind-storm at night was
hardly possible, yet they determined to go forward, and
finally they accomplished the job. The tents were re-
74 Under the Stars and Bars
stored to their former places and positions again. And
if some things were uttered now and then that the boys
had not learned at Sunday school, would you blame
them very much, under the circumstances ? But, despite
a lapsus lingua?, spoken now and then in an undertone,
good humor and good sense prevailed, and no one
refused the helping hand, that I have heard of.
To-day is damp and chilly enough, and not many
songs enliven the passing hour. But the tents are up,
and most of the men are snugly coiled within them.
The discomforts of last night are almost forgotten, and
the damp blankets are drying by the fires. Paths have
been made in the snow throughout the whole camp, and
to the hospital and officers' quarters.
Rations are not as varied and plentiful with us as
once they were. We do not get meat every day now,
and the little that we do get seems to have shrunken to
twelve ounces to the pound by the time it has reached
us. It is seldom that we get bacon, and first-class beef
does not come our way. And so, to help out the
shortage in meat, finding that several large, sleek rats
had taken up their abode in the feed-house, and were
making too free with the corn, one of the men con-
ceived the idea of utilizing them to his own account.
He captured some of them, and, after dressing them
nicely, fried them to a crisp and inviting brown, using
plenty of black pepper, to disguise any oddish flavor
the venison might possess.
Under the Stars and Bars 75
He declared that the meat was as good and sweet
as any chicken he ever ate. But I suspect it had been
a long time since he had tasted chicken.
Some ladies of Richmond, becoming patriotically in-
clined, made with their own hands, and presented to
our Company recently a beautiful battle flag. The
whole Company was turned out to receive it. W. Gor-
don McCabe, the accomplished Adjutant of the Bat-
talion, presented it in an eloquent speech, in which he
referred to the glorious deeds of Henry of Navarre
and the stainless honor of Sir Phillip Sidney — and
Captain Hankins responded in a few appropriate re-
marks. God bless the ladies, and bless our cause!
We are having Battalion drills nearly every fine day
now. The three Batteries manoeuvre together, going
through all the movements laid down in the tactics with
rase and celerity. Sometimes spectators come out from
the city to witness the drilling, and the general testi-
mony is, so I am told, that our is, not only the best
drilled Company of this Battalion, but the best drilled
in the whole Confederate service. As many of these
spectators are high officials, military men, this is no
slight or idle praise.
"Closing of a wintry day,
Far from home and ease;
Wailing voices murmur sad
Through the icv trees."
76 Under the Stars and Bars
God bless and keep our homes from the rude in-
Your friend, B.
[The incident anent the venison of rat meat is no
soldier's yarn, but an occurence that actually took place,
as I had it from the man himself. He was one of those
boys whom nothing could down, a capital soldier, and
when he took the notion to do a thing, he did it, no
matter who might laugh. Ridicule or banter cut no
ice with him. The event will serve to show to what
straits for food the soldier was sometimes driven.]
Under the Stars and Bars 77
Good health of the meri— "Broom day" — Confederate stationery-
Skulkers— A revival spirit — Songs in camp — An incident —
Camp Roper, Va.,
Feby. 20, 1863.
My Dear Friend: — Notwithstanding the fact that we
have been living in tents all winter, exposed to cold and
dampness, I think the Company has never enjoyed
better health at any period since the war began. We
have very few sick, and those only mild cases. Indeed,
we have had but one sick man in the hospital for quite
a while. The worst ailments that have afflicted the
men this winter are, short rations and this intolerable
camp itch. The last, indeed, is extremely exasperating,
and it prevails generally through the whole Company.
As to short rations, that is a thing which a soldier is
expected to get used to, and submit to uncomplainingly.
In fact, we are getting to endure both of these
troubles very philosophically. We have learned that
they are parts of the inevitable belongings of a soldier's
life, and it is no use to fret about them. "What can't
be cured, must be endured." Doctor Dunn doctors us
for the one, and good Milton Gray — our Commissary
Sergeant — does the very best he can, I suppose, for the
other. If any of the men are not quite content with
78 Under the Stars and Bars
the treatment they receive in either case, they have no
redress but to "grumble and endure it." Either malady
serves to break a little the dull monotony of other things,
such as the ever recurring roll calls, drills, guard duty
and sweeping the camp.
And' this is "broom day," and our camp has to be
swept again. On these occasions one man, at least, for
each tent, has to fall in with his broom, and help to
sweep the camp all over. These sweepings occur once
a week, if the weather permits, and all debris has to be
gathered up and burned. It is a sanitary regulation
for which all can see the utility, and there is very little
complaining about it. It becomes absolutely necessary
when a body of men are camped long at one place. But
some of the boys do not take to the task very kindly,
but are disposed to shirk and shift about whenever they
can. Some men will shirk at anything — but eating.
And some of the prankish ones, when they are forced
to take up the broom, contrive to raise all the dust they
can, especially about the tents of the officers, or of any
comrade they wish to tease a little, in which case they
soon render themselves a general nuisance.
You will notice the quality of this paper that I am
writing upon. It is coarse and inferior, and nothing
in comparison with the nice paper we used to have
before the war began. It is made at the paper mill in
Richmond, and they have not the facilities for manu-
facturing fine paper. But it is a product of our own
Under the Stars and Bars 79
country, and appeals to our patriotism. It should be
dear, therefore, to every true son and daughter of the
South. Keep this sheet, and others like it, and in
"As rolls time's furrowing course along,"
perchance sonic one will prize it, and preserve it as a
sacred memento of these trying days. Note the Con-
federate flag, with the thirteen stars, to represent the
thirteen Confederate States, and the stirring stanza at
the head of the page. They appeal loudly to our love
for the South and her holy cause.
"Gather around jour country's flag,
Men of the South, the hour has come —
None may falter, none may lag-
March to the sound of the fife and drum."
And this reminds me to say that there are yet a
few men left at home, who ought to be in the army
doing their part for their country's independence.
Shame that there are any such shirks and skulkers to
be found among Southern born — any so lost to duty
and true manhood, as thus to hide away at home, when
their proper place is in the ranks ! What will be the
status of such men in society, when the war is over? A
hundred times would I prefer to lie
"Beneath the hasty funeral mound,
Where Nature took me to her sleep,"
than to a scorn and lot like theirs.
80 Under the Stars and Bars
I hear that a great religious spirit and revival is
spreading throughout Lee's army, and some of the other
armies of the South, and there are some evidences of it
here, and in other camps about Richmond. Old pro-
fessors that had become lukewarm in their zeal, are
arousing to a sense of their duty, and many of the
openly sinful are growing more temperate and reverent
in their conversation and regard for religious things.
There is less of cursing and profligacy, and much less
of card-playing in our Company now. than formerly.
The voice of prayer is often heard in camp among the
men, and many commands now have regular, or at
least, occasional, preaching. Many ministers have gone
out as evangelists to the armies, and some have gone
into the ranks as private soldiers, or have become regu-
lar chaplains in some command. Their example and
teaching are exerting a wide-spread and salutary in-
fluence. Rev. J. W. Ward, of Isle of Wight, has
preached to our Company once recently, and other
ministers hold meetings near us occasionally.
Almost nightly now, before the tattoo is sounded, we
hear the voice of song in our camp, religious and re-
vival songs and hymns. There are several men here
who sing well, and these assemble together and pass an
hour or two together at night very pleasantly. Sergeant
X. B. Pond's tent is headquarters for these exercises,
and doubtless, to some extent, this method of praise and
prayer is doing good here, and toning down some of the
rougher vices of the men. May it lead finally to a great
Under the Stars and Bars 81
outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all the armies, and
all the people of all the South. A soldier may fight and
be a religious and God-fearing man, too.
But let me tell you of a little incident that has really
taken place in our camp lately — one of the little
comedies, not altogether innocent, but not wholly harm-
ful, that are occasionally happening, and which serve
as safety-valves, to let off the superfluous steam en-
gendered by the life of confinement and idleness in
One of the songs that were being sung quite fre-
quently, almost nightly in fact, by our religious choir
was that somewhat eccentric refrain:
"Scotland's burning! Scotland's burning!
Cast on water! cast on water!"
and so some of the prankish set among our boys con-
ceived the idea of turning a little joke on the men in
Sergeant Pond's tent. As a few of the tents had been
fixed up with rude dirt chimneys for fireplaces, and
Sergeant Pond's was one -of these, it gave the boys a
fine chance to play their game. And so, one night, one
of the smallest among the men, with a bucket of water
in hand, was lifted up by a big, strong fellow to the
top of the little stick chimney. And just as the choir
rang out the alarm,
Cast on water!"
82' Under the Stars and Bars
the little fellow on the chimney cast his bucket of
water down upon the fire inside, which deluged the
whole fireplace, put out the fire, and scattered the em-
bers in every direction!
Of course, tocr^it put a sudden stop to the song, and
sent the men quickly out of the tent after the offenders.
But not in time to discover who they were. Before they
wei-e fairly out of the tent, the boys had gained their
own bunks, and were enjoying the fun at a distance.
The choir soon saw the joke, and, as they could do
no more, submitted quietly. But it is presumed that
nothing more will be heard of ''Scotland's burning" for
With a prayer for your continued safety and welfare
at home, I remain,
Your friend, B.
[It was about this time, or a little previous to it, that
all the leading denominations of Christians in Rich-
mond, and other cities of the Confederacy, began an
earnest and systematic effort to supply the armies with
religions literature of a practical and serious nature.
Tracts, pamphlets, religious papers, small books and
testaments, songs for the camp, and other forms of
pious reading matter for the soldiers of the Confederacy
were printed and distributed on all sides, wherever there
was a company or body of soldiers to be found. Each
denomination had its depository of books and tracts for
distribution among the soldiers, and every soldier who
Under the Stars and Bars 83
applied at any of the publishing houses, was supplied
gratis with something of a religious nature to read.
Every evangelist and chaplain who went into the army,
carried along a supply of tracts, to give to the men.
Even the women, in many instances, took upon them-
selves the benevolent task of visiting the camps nearest
the cities, that they might convey to the men the spir-
itual f6od they so much needed, and, in most cases, de-
sired and begged for.
It was a noble work, in which the women of the Con-
federacy took a large, zealous and active part. And the
amount of good that was accomplished by this agency
was incalculable and lasting. The reader who may
desire to see an extended account of this grand labor of
love, will find it in Dr. William Jones's "''Christ in the
Camp." The religious literature of the Southern Con-
federacy, that was called into being by the desire to
supply the armies with reading of a spiritual nature, if
it could be collected together in one body, would form
a most interesting library of practical and serious
reading. Pity that some one did not think in time to
collect and retain copies of it all.
But it was not alone in the distribution of good books
and tracts that the women took a large and an active
part. The future historian, in writing up the record
of those times, should not fail to mention the zealous
and self-denying labors of the mothers and daughters,
and the wives and sisters, in ministering to the bodily
comforts, as well as the spiritual benefit, of the soldiers.
84 Under the Stars and Bars
Their tender aid and encouragement were found every-
where, by the cot of the sick or the wounded, at the
home of the fatherless and widows, by the couch of the
dying, at the grave of the dead. Whether it were the
offering of flowers for the hospital, the little delicacy
for the sick, the word of warning for the irreligious,
the voice of entreaty in the prayer-meeting, or a song or
a Bible text for the dying, the noble women of the
South, in the days that tried men most, stood foremost
and pre-eminent. Their record is bright in deeds of
mercy for the men who wore the gray.]
Under the Stars and Bars 85
Sabbath breaking — Inspections and parades — Government work —
Conduct of officials — Sir Matthew Hale's Sabbath law —
"Permits" — Note.
Camp Roper, Va.,
March 10, 1863.
My Dear Friend: — Sunday the 8th was a bright and
beautiful day here, and we had inspection and Battalion
drill, which occupied the whole of the forenoon, and it
was 1 o'clock before our Battery returned to the park,
and the men were dismissed, and permitted to go about
cooking their dinners. As to the latter item, perhaps it
mattered little, for there was not much to cook, and il
did not require much time to get through with it. Yet,
being Sunday, a day that should ever be set apart for
rest and religious exercises, it seemed a needless dese-
cration of the sacred law to keep holy that day. But
such has been the general practice with our higher
officials from the beginning of the civil strife. If there
is anything above the ordinary to be done, such as a
dress parade, regimental inspection, or a drilling con-
test, it has to take place on Sunday. Nearly all the
big drills and reviews are ordered for Sunday. Sunday
seems to be regarded as the great drill day.
Were this a necessary feature of the war, a matter
which could not be attended to as well on any other day,
86 Under the Stars and Bars
there would be some excuse for the wholesale abuse of
the day of rest. But such is not the case. The ex-
igences of war do not require it, for these things are not
essentials. In many cases they are no more than a
display of vanity and pride on the part of pfficials who
desire to show off their commands to their friends.
Many a grand review has been ordered to please a few
lady visitors to camp on Sunday.
In the case of the Government works, the manufac-
ture of arms, amunition, and war material, there may
often be real necessity for Sunday labor. Supplies must
be had, and if the need is great and pressing, the work
may properly go on without intermission. But this
urgency can hardly continue all the time, without ces-
sation. It may well be feared that the pressure is often
assumed to exist only as an excuse. I am told that work
goes on at all the Government shops and works in Rich-
mond constantly on Sunday. And I know they do not
stop for Sunday down in the dock at Rocketts, but
continue to hammer away on the ironclads on that day
as earnestly as upon any other day.
There is reason to believe that many of our higher
officials are not as pious and Sabbath-loving as they
should be. I fear they care very little for God's holy
day. I suspect some of them suppose that the private
soldier has no need for a day of rest, and that he should
work or drill on Sunday, in order to earn his wages
and make a better soldier of him.
I do not believe that Sabbath-breaking pays, even in
time of war. Sir Matthew Hale's law of the Sabbath
Under the Stars and Bars 87
conies to niy mind very often, and I could wish that it
were written in very large characters on every Govern-
ment shop, and all the war material in our land. Here
"A Sabbath well spent,
Brings a week of content,
And health for the toils of to-morrow;
But a Sabbath profaned,
Whatsoe'er may be gained,
Is a sine forerunner of sorrow."
Could anything be more direct and pointed than
that ? or more obviously true, when considered in the
light of lifelong observation and experience ? The rule
is just as applicable to nations as to individuals.
With me this Sabbath profanation is a serious mat-
ter. I have my fears of what the final issue of this
war will be, wholly on this account. I fear God will
not continue to bless our cause, as evidently lie has
done hitherto, unless this sin is turned from by all in
authority. If our cause fails, at last, I believe it will
be due, in great part, if not entirely, to our own national
mistakes and sins in regard to the law of the Sabbath
day, and not because our fight is not just and upright.
But enough of this.
Our men are allowed "permits" almost daily now.
And they make use of them to attend the churches in
the city. There is good preaching and religious exer-
cises two or three times a week, and often nightly, at
88 Under the Stars and Bars
all the leading churches. Whole squads of the men go
in town together, and the pastors and people welcome
them, and invite them to come.
My friend, pray for the success of our cause. Pray
for the spread of religion in the army. Pray for those
in authority, that all of them may become pious and
God-fearing men; and pray for the Sabbath to be re-
spected and honored by all, both high and law. Then
our cause must prosper.
Your friend, B.
[After forty-five years of added experience and ob-
servation in regard to the Sabbath since this letter was
written, the writer is decidedly of the opinion, that it
was on account of two sins especially — one of them
national, or rather official, and the other individual —
that God withdrew his favor from us as a people, and
permitted the South to be defeated in the war of
1861-'G5. One of these offenses, the official, was the
general and shameful violation of the Sabbath day, the
needless secularizing of the sacred hour for rest and
spiritual improvement ; and the other, the individual
sin, that of intemperance! I have no doubt but that
many a battle was lost, and many a life, too, because
some one in command had imbibed too freely of some
form of intoxicant. General Stonewall Jackson had a
horror of intoxicating liquors in the army. Could this
evil have been banished entirely from the army, and had
the Sunday hour been always and everywhere duly
regarded, the South might have won her cause.]
Under the Stars and Bars 89
The "everlasting" itch — Williams and his remedy — Bright hopes,
but dark results — That, too, passes — Rumors of battle — Note.
Camp Eopek, Va.,
March 30, 1863.
My Dear Friend: — In my letter of February 20th, I
spoke incidentally of that trying malady denominated,
in military phrase, the camp itch. Well, it does not
abate. Far from it. It seems here to stay. Dr. Dunn's
red precipitates, mercurial ointments and lotions, do
not cure, and what the boys wanted was something that
would cure, no matter how bad or bitter it might be.
Anything that would effect a change for the better
would be welcome. The boys did not wish to be af-
flicted with the same disease all the time. They wanted
a change, and this itch was perennial, it was everlasting.
And so a man was found equal to the occasion, one
who knew of a "certain, safe and quick" cure — one of
our own men. It was T. H. Williams, "Shoemaker''
Williams, as we all call him. He knew of a plant, a
decoction of which would cure any case of camp itch
in the Confederacy. But the said plant grew nowhere
else but in Surry county. Down there, not far from
the home of the said Williams, were loads of it, and
if — if he could only get down there for a short time, he
90 Under the Stars and Bars
would soon have in camp enough of the leaves to make
tea for the whole Battalion, to say nothing of one Com-
pany. But just at this time neither permit or furlough
is granted to any one. But the boys have — or rather
they had, faith in Williams's prescription, and they be-
came urgent that he be sent home for the leaves. And
Captain Hankins, he, too, listened tenderly to the story,
and, after putting his wits together, for he likes to
please the men, soon devised a plan. He would send
Williams to Surry on a detail. The detail, being a
matter of duty, and service for the army, would go
And so it did. Williams was delighted, and the men
pressed his departure. The detail was as good as a
furlough would have been for Williams, for he only
wanted to get home for a little space. The detail was
for five days, and promptly on the fifth day Williams
returned to camp with ever so many bags of leaves —
leaves of the so-called "sheep laurel'-' or lambkill, the
Kalmia angusti folia of botany.
This was the plant. And a strong decoction of its
leaves was to be the great "safe and certain'' cure for
the exasperating scabies militavis that had atflictcd them
so long, by day and by night.
Bright hopes were now in the ascendant. Speedily,
several camp kettles, filled with water and leaves of
the kalmia, were placed over the fires, and brought to
a boil— for Williams had told them to make the de-
coction strong. He really wanted it to cure, no doubt,
and thought he was advising them for the best.
Under the Stars and Bars 91
And then the boys "prepared for action," as the ar-
tillery phrase is. Stripping off their shirts, several of
them at the same time — such was the haste to have the
remedy working a cure — several of them at once began
vigorously to apply the lotion that was to rid them for-
ever of the detested scabies. But before the first ones
that began to use it had proceeded even a little way,
their physiognomies, before so bright and anticipative,
began to change suddenly and wonderfully ! and some
impromptu adjectives, not of the admiration class, be-
gan to be uttered without rule or reason. And quickly
their words grew louder, and faster and fiercer. The
other boys who had just started in, paused for an ex-
planation. But they did not have to wait to be told, for
as soon as the tea began to act just a little, they knew
how it was themselves, and they, too, joined in the
And soon there arose such an outburst that the <k of-
ficer of the day" heard it, and came forth to learn the
cause of it. And Williams himself heard it, on his
post in the Battery, for he was on guard duty that day,
and he wondered what had occasioned the uproar. It
began to trouble him.
And then some of the boys who had not yet tested
the prescription, seeing how matters stood, began to
laugh and halloo and jest at the suffering ones. But
that did not stop the turmoil. The agony produced by
that sheep-laurel tea, and the outcries and anger were
almost alarming. The imprecations that descended on
92' Under the Stars and Bars
the head of Williams were loud and bitter, and if some
of the men could have got hold of him just then, he
might have fared badly. But he was on post, and none
of them dare molest him then.
But, after awhile the pain abated a little. The
tableau passed from the tragic to the comic. Good
humor re-asserted itself. A better feeling began to pre-
vail, and the cloud that had been raised passed by.
Those kettles of tea were silently overturned, and no
more has been made. The boys all. declare they prefer
the disease to the remedy, ten to one.
There are rumors that the Federal cavalry under
Stoneman are attempting to turn Lee's flank above
Fredericksburg — and also that another large body has
been seen coming in this direction from the York river.
We are expecting orders to march, and, in any event,
we will not remain here much longer, as the spring is
well advanced, and the weather mild and fine.
May the good angels guard and keep you and us from
Your friend, B.
[I have thought that this letter, relating how our
comrade, Thomas IT. Williams, studied out a plan to
pet home, at a time when neither permit nor furlough
was granted to any one, though perhaps a little over-
drawn in some particulars, would do to go in along
Under the Stars and Bars 93
with the rest. The occurrence did actually take place,
and no doubt some of the survivors, those certainly who
tried the tea, will recall some of the incidents. I think
Comrade Williams never did stand in quite so well any
more with some of the men. They always entertained
a little grudge toward him, on account of that sheep-
laurel tea. He certainly lost his reputation as a doctor,
and some of the boys were so discourteous at times as
to remind him of the well-known adage : Ne sutor ultra
crepidam, let not the shoemaker go beyond his last.
He was a good man and a good soldier. But he did
finally return to his last, and got a detail to work in
the Government shoemaking shop in Richmond. He
died a few years after the close of the war at his home
And still, in Mem'ry's hallowed halls,
We'll sometimes pause to view
The scenes that Friendship yet recalls.
Of comrades tried and true.
94 Under the Stars and Bars
Suffolk recaptured — Big siege guns — Marching orders — Destina-
tion — The Home Guard- — Note.
Camp Roper, Va.,
April 20, 1863.
My Dear Friend: — We learn here that a portion of
Lee's army under Longstreet, has lately recaptured the
town of Suffolk', and driven the Federals back several
miles toward Norfolk. Thus the Southside counties are
freed again from the enemy that has been ravaging and
despoiling, and in many cases, burning the homes of our
people. Whether or not it is the purpose of our Gov-
ernment to maintain an army at Suffolk, and keep the
foe out of that part of the State, does not appear, but
I sincerely trust that such is the case. It would put a
stop to those raiding bands (perhaps most of them only
lawless freebooters, in fact) that have been prowling
around down there, stealing the horses, killing the
cattle, robbing the hen-roosts, and burning the mills and
the private dwellings of the people. How pleased the
S. L. A. would be to be ordered into that part of the
State! It would be going back home again. I was in
Richmond when Longstreet's men passed through, on
their way down to Sulfolk. I trust it is the intention
tf> hold that section permanently.
Under the Stars and Bars 95
Thus active operations for the summer have started.
We have orders to be ready to march at a moment's
notice, but in what direction we shall go, none of us yet
know. Perhaps this will be the deciding year of the
war, and reveal what the end is to be, if it does not
bring the end itself. I hear that all is astir in the
armies at Fredericksburg. The Northern Government
has sent Burnside down, and put in "Fighting Joe
Hooker" at the head of affairs. Perhaps Hooker thinks
it is about time for him to be hooking in General Lee
and his men. The enemy's cavalry forces, now under a
General Stoneman, seem to be trying a flank movement
around Lee's army, in the direction of Louisa Court-
house. Perhaps it is in that direction that we are to go.
I saw yesterday, at the Southern depot in Richmond,
some of the largest cannon ever cast in the Confederate
States. I was told they were 700-pounders, and I tell
you they were rousers. I could have crawled into them
easily. They were cast at the Richmond Iron Works,
and are to go to Charleston, where the gallant Beaure-
gard is still holding off the Federal fleet and army in-
vesting that port. The Confederacy is not so badly off,
after all, in the way 'of supplying her fortified posts
with large guns and ammunition. It is a sight to a
countryman to go through those shops and see the
great piles of shot and shell, and other paraphernalia
"Well, we have marching orders. Our entire com-
mand (Lightfoot's Battalion), and a large part of the
96 Under the Stars and Bars
City Defences, all under command of Colonel Rhett,
are ordered to proceed without delay to Gordonsville
and the vicinity. Colonel Rhett is a South Carolinian
and said to be a rigid disciplinarian and determined
fighter, and I suppose we are in for some rough ex-
periences. If we meet the enemy, I feel su|fe that Rhett
will fight them. But I do not know who -is to defend
the Capital, in case of a sudden foray of the enemy
from the York or the James, when all these forces here
are gone. I hear, however, that they have a pretty
strong Home Guard here, and I suppose they will have
to turn out and repel the foe if he comes.
The fact that there is a regularly organized and
equipped Home Guard in both Richmond and Peters-
burg, does not appear to be generally known. Nothing
is ever said about it in the public press. Perhaps the
head authorities wish to keep it a secret. And it may
be better that it should be so. The body is made up of
middle-age and old men and boys, mere lads, not yet
old enough for service in the regular army. As they
are the home people, those whose homes and every
sacred tie are centred here, they may be counted upon
to fight with resolution, if the pinch comes, notwith-
standing the lack of military training and discipline.
It is a sorry man that will not defend his own ingle and
Good-by. We are off at noon, and are to go by rail.
So the necessity must be urgent. Hooker's cavalry have
crossed the Rappahannock some distance above Fred-
Under the Stars and Bars 97
ericksburg, and are said to be advancing toward Gor-
donsville. I will try to find opportunity to write to
you from that place.
"Company Q" remains behind to nurse the sick,
guard the camp, and "bring up the rear," in case of a
sudden attack on the city while we are away.
May the angel guard camp around you, and us, and
Your friend, B.
[For the enlightenment of the sons and daughters of
the old Veterans, who, perhaps, may be curious to know
about this Company Q," spoken of above, I will say
that, in every body of soldiers, whether a single com-
pany or more, there are, nearly always, a few men, more
or less, who are partially sick or ailing, or in some way
disqualified for full and active duty ; convalescents just
out of the hospital ; new recruits that have not been
drilled ; and some, maybe, who shirk and pretend to be
sick; and, it is these who are classed as "Company Q."
They are the unavailables, the ineffectives, those who
cannot be counted upon to render aid or help, either in
the hour of battle or in the performance of any very dis-
agreeable duty. And while some of the very best and
most reliable men are sometimes forced to be classed in
this "company," it is not regarded as an altogether
creditable parcel or body of soldiers to which they
98 Under the Stars and Bars
And, as I am trying to write a truthful history, I
must say that the S. L. A. had, nearly all the time, an
indefinite number of men, generally few, sometimes
many, of this class. How far, at any time, any of these
might properly have been called shirks, it is beyond
my province to say, but I think not many. It was a
hard matter to play off continually, or frequently, so as
deceive officers, doctors, and comrades, too.]
Under the Stars and Bars 99
Gordonsville — Marching and counter-marching — The Stoneman
,- a jd — At Orange Courthouse — Scenery — Note.
Orange Cotjkthotjse, Va.,
May 8, 1S63.
My Dear Friend: — I take the first opportunity that
I have had since our arrival in these parts, to write to
you. Our Battalion, with many other forces, left Rich-
mond on April 27th, and arrived at Gordonsville, over
the CL & O. rail, at an early hour that night. The
night was rainy, and, as we had no tents or shelter of
any sort, we had rather a bad time of it until morning.
But we had large fires, and some of the men managed
to sleep a little.
Gordonsville is a long, straggling town, built up
along the highway that has many angles and turns. It
lies at the foot of the southwest hills, or mountains, a
spur or outcrop of the Blue Ridge. As a railroad
centre, it is a place of some importance, and there are
a number of shops and other industrial enterprises, or
rather there were, until the war closed some of them.
We tarried at Gordonsville but a day or two, since
which time our Battalion has been moving almost con-
stantly, marching and counter-marching from place to
place, seldom remaining more than a day anywhere, but
100 Under the Stars and Bars
hurrying from point to point, as the exigencies of the
occasion, or the movements of the enemy, seemed to
require. So far, we have not been brought in contact
■with the invaders, and have done no fighting. The
13th Virginia Cavalry, however, has been engaged
once or twice within the past few days, and have
brought in some prisoners. You know there are a great
many Surry boys in that command. Both Company
G and Company H of that Regiment, are from Surry.
We are told now that the enemy is falling back to his
stronghold somewhere near the Rappahannock, and, of
course, near the main body of Hooker's army. Stone-
man, at the head of a large and formidable cavalry
force, had attempted, by a circuitous flank movement,
to get between General Lee's position and Richmond,
and so destroy his communications and cripple his army.
And it is said he came right near succeeding, in part, at
least. For the very day we came up here, a part of
his troops got within a mile or two of the railroad, and
by a sudden dash, they might have cut the road, and
perhaps have captured a part of us. Had Stoneman
kept on with the vim he showed at first, he might have
given a good deal of trouble, but he seemed soon to lose
faith in his enterprise, and has withdrawn. Conse-
quently we have had rest for several days.
We are now camped within a mile of the village of
Orange Courthouse, reposing on a high ridge, with deep
ravines on either side ; in Orange, but not among
oranges! And not much of anything else to eat in
Under the Stars and Bars 101
sight. In fact, rations up here afford no suspicion of
abundance and more to come. Those of the men who
have any Confederate scrip left, manage, by tramping
around a good deal, to buy buttermilk, vegetables, etc.,
and thus eke out the short supply of corn bread. So
we are comparatively content and happy.
The scenery up here is varied, picturesque and beau-
tiful. From our camp we have a fine and extended
view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance, and
there are many delightful prospects all around us. This
hilly country presents many elevated ridges and high
knolls, fine for residences, and just the beau ideal posi-
tions for artillery to play .upon an advancing army.
But for a few things, I think I would love to live up
here. And one of these is the formidable state of the
roads, the clay, the endless beds of clay. It has rained
several times recently, and the roads, unlike the varied
scenery, are anything but beautiful. These red-clay
roads are "just awful" after a rain. If it rains but a
little, the surface gets so soap-like and slick that every
step one makes he is likely to slide back two, and wind
up by falling down prone into the mud. And if it
rains much, the clay gets like mortar, only more tena-
cious, and every step you take, you stick fast in the
mire or leave a shoe behind !
It is hard on the men's shoes, hard on the men, and
as for the poor horses, they can barely drag the cannon
through it at all. The guns and caissons have . been
102- Under the* Stars and Bars
lightened of every disposable weight, but to little pur-
pose. The mud encases the spokes and hubs until the
wheels become huge plates of solid clay, and stops have
to be made to shovel it off. I love Virginia, all of it.
"I love thee next to Leaven above,
Home of my fathers — thee I love;
And rail thy sland'rers as they will
With all thy faults, I love thee still :"
but I am not intensely captivated with these red. hills
and this Orange county clay. I much prefer our own
Tidewater, with its long stretches of sand, and level
roads, and gravelly hills. There are no mountains down
there, it is true, and but little of varied and picturesque
scenery ; and there is no red clay there, either — at least
none like this clay up here. If there be anything in
the world that "sticketh closer than a brother," un-
doubtedly it is this Orange county mire.
For awhile adieu, and peaceful dreams.
Your friend, B.
[Before the above letter had been written, several
great battles had occurred between different parts of
the two armies at Fredericksburg ; General Jackson had
executed his splendid and famous flank movement, and
struck Hooker's vast army a blow, from which it re-
coiled in fatal confusion, and which gave another great
victory.. to Lee's matchless army; and Stoneman, too
Under the Stars and Bars 103
busy in aiding his chief in his retrograde across the
river, found no opportunity to meddle further with
Lee's communications with Richmond. There was,
therefore, no further use for Colonel Rhett and his
forces in Orange, and he was free to return. It was
deemed advisable, however, to give the horses a good
rest before the backward march was undertaken.
As I am writing this only for my immediate com-
rades and their friends, and not for a critical public,
I feel that I need make no excuse for having employed
the word "raid" at the head of this letter. It is not
altogether a well-established word for grave history.
It carries the idea of a predatory incursion, for the
purpose of robbing and devastating a country, rather
than approved warfare ; and perhaps General Stone-^
man would object to the implication that he was bent
on robbery. The term is a Scotticism, used by Sir
Walter Scott in his admirable writings, but hardly yet
sufficiently anglicized for use in grave composition.
But perhaps I have more need to apologize for the
occasional use, in the course of these letters, of such
decidedly rude expressions as "just awful," and some
others. They were found in the original letters, and I
did not deem it of importance enough to change them.
But in every such case I have used the marks of quota-
tion, to show that they are not well approved words.
The account that is given of the bad state of the
roads, as we found them in the Piedmont country in
104 Under the Stars and Bars
May, 1863, is no exaggeration. In a country where
stones seem to grow like bumps of stubbornness on every
hillside and in every valley, it is a wonder that some of
them had not been utilized a century ago in making
hard roads. Good roads, if they had been general
throughout Virginia, might have done something to
save the Confederacy from final overthrow. The roads
of Orange county were no worse than those of the other
hilly districts. Bad roads cost the Confederacy
Under the Stars and Bars 105
Conflicting reports — Wounded men and prisoners — Death of
General Jackson — Honoring the remains — Orders to return —
Orange Courthouse, Va.,
May 14, 1863.
My Dear Friend: — There are no newspapers circu-
lating in the army up here, and nothing by which to
form a definite idea of what is going on elsewhere, and
the rumors and reports that we get from time to time
are extremely conflicting and untrustworthy. First, we
hoard that Stuart's cavalry had been defeated by Stone-
man's forces, and next we heard that Stuart had re-
signed. Then we were told that Stonewall Jackson had
been wounded, and that Stuart had been placed in
command of Jackson's corps. Then we heard that the
Federals had captured Fredericksburg, and got in be-
tween Lee and Richmond, and that Lee was retiring to-
ward Louisa Courthouse. And so, between one report and
another, we did not know what to depend on. That a
great battle had been fought, we felt sure, but of what
the issue had been we were kept in profound ignorance
for several days.
But the passing of many trains, conveying wounded
men and prisoners, also captured arms and supplies,
convinced lis that the tide of battle had once more
106 Under the Stars and Bars
turned in our favor. The prisoners that came by this
route, were captured mainly by Stuart's forces and the
daring Uosby. Then we began to receive more definite
accounts of Jackson's charge on Hooker's right flank,
and that Jackson had been wounded.
But we were not prepared for the sad news that
General Jackson had died of his wounds! Stonewall
Jackson dead ! The words were too distressing to be
entertained ! But the arrival of orders for a section
of our Battery to proceed to Gordonsville, for the pur-
pose of firing a salute to the remains as they were being
conveyed to their last resting-place, put an end to all
doubt. It was indeed too true. The great chieftain,
General Thomas J. Jackson, had been severely wounded
near Chancellorsville on May 2d, and had died near
Guiney's Station on the 10th.
As the train bearing his remains approached the sta-
tion at Gordonsville, the section of our Battery that
had been detailed for the purpose, discharged its guns
in honor of the dead hero. It was a sad duty the boys
had to perform. All felt and knew that a great leader
among men had fallen — felt that our cause had sus-
tained an irreparable loss — and that his place could
never be entirely filled.
The sad event has occasioned great gloom throughout
our army, and over all of the Confederacy. We have
many able generals, but none just like Stonewall Jack-
son. In his fall I believe that we lose even more than
Under the Stars and Bars 107
the fall of Richmond would be. May the God of battles
defend our cause, and order the event to our good.
"Let us praise Him for victories past;
Let us trust Him for all that's to come."
On yesterday afternoon, the 13th, orders were re-
ceived for our return to Richmond, and I am writing
this early this morning, before we take our departure.
Accordingly, all the forces of Colonel Rhett's Command
are about to take up the line of march, on the return
trip. We will bid adieu to Orange, and Orange county
mud, and proceed by easy stages via Gordonsville and
Louisa Courthouse, and on through Hanover.
"The bright May morning's come again,
With balmy airs and showers,
And through the wood, and in the glen,
Is borne the breath of flowers."
When you approach the throne of grace, think of the
Your friend, B.
[It is out of the province of this humble history to
speak extendedly of General Stonewall Jackson. Our
command was in another part of the army, and we saw
nothing of him. But we heard much. From the time
he struck McClellan's right flank at Mechanicaville,
on that bright 20th of June, 1862, up to that glorious
but too fatal day at Chancellorsville, we had heard
108 Under the Stars and Bars
many things of "Stonewall Jackson's way" of marching,
and fighting, and defeating the enemy. And every man
of the S. L. A. had learned to love him. And when he
fell, we all felt and knew that it was an irreparable blow
for the South. Sadness settled upon our camp and upon
the hearts of the men. They spoke of his death with
bated breath, and wondered why he had been taken
from us in the way and manner that he had. Such a
splendid victory! Such an untimely and disastrous
fall ! Even to this day, I cannot see the reason for it.]
Under the Stars and Bars 109
The plains of Virginia — Condition of agriculture — A pen sketch
of Colonel Rhett — Arrival at Richmond — A new camp — Note.
Camp Letcheb, Ya.,
May 28, 1863.
My Dear Friend: — The section of the State over
which we passed, on our return route, is a, level plain,
known as the plains of Virginia. The scenery is varied,
at times almost picturesque, and one notable feature
in the landscape for several miles after leaving the
mountain country, is the presence of large isolated
bowlders, or rocks, scattered about, one or two at a place,
over the fields. Some of them are almost as large as
a house, and all are too large to be moved by ordinary
mechanical appliances, hence they have to remain where
they lie. Such rocks, similarly placed, would be a
notable feature for our Tidewater land.
The water of the plains is excellent, and there are
many tine springs and small brooks and streams. And
ther<_- is gold there, too, so they say, but I did not have
time to look for any. Agriculture seemed to be in a
depleted condition. There w T ere some good fields of
corn aud wheat, and some cattle and sheep grazing in
Well-enclosed pastures. But many fields and farms lie
fallow, and are growing up in bushes, and quite often
110 Under the Stars and Bars
the fences and buildings manifest neglect and the ab-
sence of labor. Slaves, and in some cases, white men,
were at work in some of the fields. But an air of aban-
donment, painful to look upon, seems to rest over all the
Yet, in comparison with the Peninsula counties, it
is still a fair and goodly land. There are no blackened
ruins, marking the despoiler's path, and the people have
not been driven from their homes to N seek refuge in other
parts. The churches and mills remain, and the appli-
ances of agriculture are there yet, and the old men and
the boys may labor in hope and peace. With its pro-
ductive soil, and a climate almost beau ideal for health,
it is one of the most desirable parts of the Old Dominion.
Xothing of particular interest occurred on the march
back — nothing that needs to be noted, save, perhaps, the
presence of vast clouds of dust, that clung to the army,
as it moved onward, in long lines of stifling misery.
The volume of dust that is raised by an army, tramping
slowly onward over a dry road, is a phenomenon. From
front to rear of the line, the impalpable earth-powder,
the floating soil-spray, winds its slow coils around every-
thing. It penetrates everywhere, into the clothing and
accoutrements, into the eyes and lungs of man and
beast, into everything. It settles upon the foliage of
all the trees, and floats off right and left over field and
crops. There is no escaping it. Tho soldier has to
trudge on in the moving wave, half suffocated, half
Under the Stars and Bars 111
blinded. How welcome, at such times, is a shower of
rain, to lay the soil-demon low. Though it is seldom
mentioned, and but little thought of, outside of army
circles, one of the greatest discomforts of the soldier's
life, and one of the severest tests of his physical en-
durance, is, undoubtedly, the great dust-clouds that
hang over and envelope a moving army on a dry, hot
day. It has to be seen and experienced to be thor-
oughly understood. We met with a good deal of this
sort of misery on our march back here.
I had frequent opportunity, on the return, to see
and note our commanding officer, Colonel Rhett. Once
or twice he spoke to me, and seemed desirous of talking,
though I was only a private, trudging along in the
dust, and he on horseback. He asked some questions
about the crops, and other things, and his manner was
kind and affable. He is regarded by many in his
command as a stern man and a severe officer, but I saw
nothing like it. I think he has a kindly heart, though
it may be concealed under a rough and somewhat re-
poll ant exterior. That he will fight the enemy, when
he meets him, I have no doubt. He is from the Pal-
metto State, and the Palmetto soldiers all fight. I have
come to like him.
We reached Richmond yesterday, the 27th, and our
camp is now in a fine oak grove near the western limits
of the city, and near the Brook Turnpike, that leads
out of the town into the old "mountain road" through
112' Under the Stars and Bars
Hanover, over which we lately marched. We are also
quite near to the fair grounds usually occupied by the
State Agricultural Fair during its annual exhibitions
in times of peace, but now used as a conscript camp for
the State conscripts. It is called Camp Lee. Our own
camp has been named Camp Letcher, for the Governor
of Virginia, and the grove is large enough for all the
three Companies of the Battalion.
"The mellow eve is gliding
Serenely down the west;
So, every care subsiding,
My soul would sink to rest."
Pray for our country, for the armies, and for me,
and read the twenty-third Psalm.
Your friend, B.
[The reference in this letter to the clouds of dust
that always attend a body of soldiers on the march
during a dry time, while it will recall to the minds of
the Veterans one of the most disagreeable attendants
of their soldier life, will also serve to inform the chil-
dren and grandchildren of the post-war times of a
matter that, very likely, they would never think about
in reading the history of what their fathers endured
in the war between the States.
The long marches — and all armies have to make
long marches at. times — the long marches have four
repellant features, namely, weariness, footsoreness,
Under the Stars and Bars 113
thirst and dust. Weariness and footsoreness are in-
separable attendants on all marches, whether per-
formed in summer or in winter. In addition to these,
thirst and dust are unavoidable in summer time. A
rain while an army is moving in summer, brings relief
and is always welcome. But the rain, unfortunately,
seldom occurs just at the time needed.
The sufferings that armies experience at times from
thirst and dust are often intolerable. An army on the
march cannot escape the dust. It is a natural result
of the movement of any body of troops over a dry and
sandy road. The men cannot leave the ranks and get
out of it. They have to keep in it all the time. And
when to the dust are added thirst, footsoreness, and
weariness, the soldier's lot is indeed severe and trying
to the utmost — is truly and emphatically a hard and
bitter experience. No one but an old Veteran who
has gone through it all time and again, can form any
adequate idea of the depressing nature of these things.
I thought it proper to emphasize this fact, that the
younger generations, whose ideas of war are mostly
of the romantic cast, might be the better prepared to
understand something of its true bitterness.]
114 Under the Stars and Bars
All quiet on the James — Drilling and guard duty — Church and
theatre — Negro raiders — Xote.
Camp Letciieb, Ya.,
June 15, 1863.
My Dear Friend: — All is quiet along the James and
around the Capital of the Confederacy at this writing.
We seem to be settling down to a tranquil summer
here. But we hear that General Lee, with a recruited
army, is moving forward into Xorthern Virginia.
After the mighty struggle at Fredericksburg, ''fighting
Joe," who got the worst of the fight, has been falling
back, and General Lee is assuming the offensive.
Whether he will go beyond the Potomac again this
summer, as he did last, has not yet reached the ear of
the private in these parts. I hope, however, there will
be no further movement that would have the appearance
of an invasion of Northern soil. Southern soldiers
are fighting for this very thing, more than anything
else, namely, to resist invasion, invasion of their native
land and soil, and if our own army should turn about
and become the invader of the Xorth, I believe it would
tend to unite that people more firmly and lead them
to fight us harder than ever. This is a private's view
Under the Stars and Bars 115
of the matter, and it may be all wrong. But I, for one,
would prefer to fight at home. I think I could strike
Our drilling field is the old Fair Grounds, now
Cain]) Lee, where our Battalion drills once or twice
daily. This, and guard duty, are about all we have
to occupy our time, except the usual routine of camp
life. Sometimes the boys engage in athletic sports,
and there is the usual "broom day" once weekly to
occupy a part of our time, that often will hang heavy,
for lack of regular and continued employment, Drill-
ing and guard duty are commonly irksome employ-
ments, but the men manage to get through them with-
out feeling that they are martyrs on account of them.
Our camp is located very conveniently to the city for
attending church, theatre, etc., and the men get "per-
mits" almost daily for attending the one or the other.
Many attend the different churches, especially the Clay
Street Methodist Episcopal, where a revival has been
in progress for sometime, and where several of the men
have made a profession of religion. Others visit the
Trinity Methodist Episcopal, where that able minister,
Rev. John E. Edwards, is the pastor. I have heard him
preach, and regard him as an earnest, zealous, devoted
man of Cod, who is endeavoring to do all the good he
can. I have been reading his ''Life of the Rev. John
Wesley Childs," of the Virginia Conference, and ad-
mire the portrayal of Christian character therein ex-
116 Under the Stars and Bars
The new Richmond Theatre, finished since the war
began, has also been drawing some of our men. I have
attended on several occasions, and have witnessed
Scott's "Lady of the Lake," also "Cleopatra," "Captain
Kidd," and other pieces. But I take no special interest
in the plays. I have some doubts as to the propriety
of permitting the play-house to be open at times like
these. When we reflect upon the great struggle that
we are engaged in, and the frequent reverses that our
arms have sustained, and also come to think of the hard
lot of our soldiers, and the many deaths that are con-
stantly taking place in the hospital and on the battle-
field, it does seem to me that such diversion as the
theatre offers us should be prohibited. It looks very
much like Xero fiddling while Rome is burning. I
wonder that the public sentiment of the city permits
the theatre to run while the country is engaged in a
bitter and terrible war.
And besides, there are a number of strong, able-look-
ing men belonging to the troupe, who, it seems to me,
might be doing better service if assigned to a wider
stage, and made to do some acting pro bono publico, for
the country at large. They have one man there, who,
they say, ran the blockade from the North to join the
company. If he would go and "join the cavalry," I
think he would deserve and share a better opinion on
the part of some. Who knows that he is not a spy,
paid to report such things as may be of importance
Under the Stars and Bars 117
for the other side to know ? Some fine day before long,
he may depart to "run the blockade" back again to
whence he came.
How can we pray for and trust God's blessing to
rest upon this country, when there are so many in-
consistencies and sins lying at our door? With our
hospitals filled with the sick, wounded and dying —
with the crepe displayed in so many homes — what room
or place is there in our lives for the inane and silly
amusements of an irreligious drama ?
It is a source of grief to the men of the S. L. A. that
several bands of lawless freebooters, composed of run-
away negroes and worthless white men, have recently
begun to visit and pillage in the counties of Isle of
Wight and Surry. It makes the blood almost to boil
within us, to think that our kindred and friends at
home have tamely to submit to and endure the insult,
abuse, and wrong that come of such thieves, without
any prospect of redress or retaliation. Perhaps it is
but litle more than we might expect of a certain class
of slaves, let loose from bondage, without any restrain-
ing hand to control them. But that there are any white
men, native to the soil, and living here among our people
all their lives, and receiving favors from many of them
on many an occasion, who could descend to an abyss so
low and despicable, is more than I could believe. Great
God ! to what depths will not mortal man plunge, when
the demon of unholiness and greed gets possession of
118 Under the Stars and Bars
his heart! White men? — white traitors! dogs! vam-
pires! with hearts blacker than the slaves with whom
they associate, and souls more repulsive than the
hideous daughters of Phorcus and Ceto ! What infamy
will rest upon their names, when this bitter tragedy is
Your friend, B.
[The intention has been strong with me from the
beginning of this history, to devote a page somewhere
in the work to an expose of the conduct of a few white
fiends in our midst, Avho played the despicable role of
traitors, informers, freebooters and thieves, during the
closing years of the war, in the section where the men
of the S. L. A, were born and raised. But, on reading-
over the letters that I had written during the war, I
discovered that I had already spoken of them in terms
as strong as respect for my readers would permit. I
have no desire to devote to them any further attention,
except to say that I could give the names of several of
them, were I called upon. It would be but simple jus-
tice to every old Veteran to name them here, in order
that posterity might know who among onr own people
were true, and who were false, to the Stars and Bars,
and the Cause we espoused, but I forbear. I would not
have these pages soiled with the titles of beings so vile
Under the Stars and Bars 119
The battle cloud moving northward — Advancing from tlie York—
On the Chickahominy — Scenery and conditions — Note.
New Bridge, Va.,
July 5, 1863.
My Dear Friend: — General Lee has crossed the Po-
tomac, and is reported to be advancing northward info
Pennsylvania. And there are rumors and accounts of
several great battles having been fought by different
divisions of his army, but as I have seen none of the
daily papers since we came here, I am uncertain
whether a general battle has taken place or not. Of
course, having made an advance movement into the
enemy's country, some terrible fighting may be ex-
pected. If our army should again prove victorious, as
it has done in the past, it may lead to an early peace
between the two sections. Let us hope that such will
indeed be the result of this advance.
But the Federals, probably to prevent any re-en-
forcements being sent to Lee from this section, or
possibly because they supposed our Capital to be but
weakly guarded now, have been making demonstrations
<»f an advance by the way of the York river. Many
transports have been seen lately on that, river by our
pickets and scouts, and a large force has been set
ashore, and it appears to be moving this way.
120 Under the Stars and Bars
Accordingly, to meet the advance, nearly all the
available troops about the city have been posted at the
various crossings of the Chickahominy, from the Long
Bridge, the lowest fordable place above tidewater, to
the Xew Bridge, a few miles from the city. Light-
foot's Battalion has, consequently, been broken up, for
the time being, one company or section having been
sent to one point, and another company to another
point. Our Company was directed to hold a position
at the ]STew Bridge, on the road leading out to Cold
Harbor, in Hanover. And at this place the S. L. A.,
with an infantry support, are now stationed, to dispute
the further advance of any Blue Coats that may come
this way. Our post is about ten miles east of Rich-
mond, and our line of forces extend at least ten miles
further down the river. Our guns are posted to rake
the bridge, and the hi] Is beyond, and we have a broad,
open field before us, and a fine view of the country on
the opposite, or Hanover, side of the little stream.
It being summer time, and, as was supposed, only
for a temporary bivouac, we brought no tents with us,
and have been finding shelter from the dews of night
under the few forest trees that the armies of a year
ago chanced to leave untouched. I was so fortunate,
as I supposed, as to find good shelter under a dense-
foliaged apple tree, and I would have done nicely
there, and slept well, I think, but for the millions of
mosquitoes that swarmed about me and sang their
ditties, and made sleep impossible. I think the flats
Under the Stars and Bars 121
of the Chickahominy must be the premium breeding-
place for mosquitoes. After awhile, I enveloped myself
as completely as possible in my only blanket, and told
them to bite on.
The country adjacent the ISTew Bridge is, to a smart
extent, pleasing and picturesque to the view. The hills
and ridges on the Hanover side of the stream are ele-
vated and, were they under a good state of cultivation,
would be called beautiful. The scenery and conditions
here now are quite different from what they were a
year ago. Then all this section, from Mechanicsville
to Malvern Hill, was the theatre of a mighty struggle
between two great and powerful armies, and fire and
war swept along here like an angry sea. Nature has
obliterated many of the signs of that terrible strife,
but mam- evidences of battle and despoliation yet re-
main — long lines of earthworks, blackened ruins of
buildings, mills and property, lonely chimneys, the sole
remains of former homes, forest trees torn and scarred
by bullet and shell, and the shallow graves, where the
dead were hastily interred.
There are no crops and no evidences of life. Few
families remain, and the few that are here, move about
in a listless sort of way. They have no property, and it
is a wonder how they manage to live here at all. There
are two places where one can realize something of the
real horrors of war — the hospital, where the wounded
lie, and the neighborhood where a battle has been
122 1 Under the Stars and Bars
fought. The whole Virginia Peninsula, from York-
town to Richmond, is, to a greater or less extent, one
continuous scene of desolation.
Thankful indeed should you be, my friend, that the
country south of the James has escaped the despoiling
hand of the war-fiend.
Your friend, B.
[It was indeed a most fortunate circumstance for
the people in the counties south of the James river, that,
from the beginning to the close of the war, that whole
section of the State escaped, almost entirely, the burn-
ing and destruction of private property, and the inter-
ruptions, losses, and inconveniences arising from the
presence of large armies. The people were not forced
to leave their homes, the avocations of industry were
not entirely interrupted, and, except in a few minor
instances, property was not destroyed, as it was where
the great army of invaders swept along. Especially did
the counties of Surry, Isle of Wight and Southampton,
from whence the Light Artillery was chiefly made up,
pass through the period of the war almost untouched by
fire and invasion. It was the source of great thankful-
ness to the men of the S. L. A. that it fell not to their
lot to look upon burned and desolated homes, fields en-
trenched and ditched, and timber destroyed, on their
return to their homes.
In their marches over the State, the soldiers from
the Southside counties had witnessed the ruin and de-
Under the Stars and Bars 123
vast at ion that invariably followed wherever a Federal
army had been. They had seen and heard how some of
the leaders of invasion had boasted that they had left
nothing behind them but misery. They had seen how
old men, women and children had been robbed of the
comforts and common needs of life, solely to gratify the
malice or fiendishness of a heartless foe. And while
they beheld these things, they had felt a pang of fear
for their own homes, a painful apprehension that the
like despoliation and misery would meet their gaze
when they returned to the scenes of their own child-
hood. Truly, we of these counties have much to be
thankful for, that the hand of war fell so lightly upon
us, comparatively with other sections — that the besom
of ruin swept so tenderly here — that homes and hearth-
stones escaped desecration. Let us thank God for it all,
and cling to these homes all the more lovingly.]
124 Under the Stars and Bars
Return into camp — Confederate reverses — Hope for us yet — Our
cause just — Why we sometimes fail — Conscripts and skulk-
ers — Note.
July 14, 1863.
My Dear Friend: — After spending a week in our
bivouac at New Bridge, and no enemy appearing to
claim our attention, we left the sad scenes of the Chicka-
hominy, and the pestilent mosquitoes, and returned to
our pleasant camp at this place. All is serene again
about the Capital, and along the York and the James,
and generally so all over the State.
But I learn that it is far from being so in other
parts of the country, particularly in Pennsylvania and
Mississippi. General Lee's army, after fighting several
hard battles, in which they were uniformly successful,
met with a severe repulse on July 3d, and is now slowly
retiring, and, by this time, has re-crossed the Potomac.
In the reverse of the 3d, it was General Pickett's Di-
vision that sustained the burden of the repulse, meeting
with very heavy loss in killed and wounded. The 3d
Virginia Infantry, to which, you know, the S. L. A.
was attached in 1861, is in that Division, and was in the
charge made by General Pickett's command. I hear
their loss was very great. Colonel A. D. Calcott, who
Under the Stars and Bars 125
led the Regiment in the charge, was killed. It turned
out to be a severe disaster, the heaviest, it is said, that
General Lee's army has yet met with. But it was only
a repulse. There was no confusion, no panic, in any
other part of the army, on account of it. General Lee
stood and offered battle the next day, but the challenge
was not accepted. He then retired leisurely toward
But it was at Vicksburg, Miss., that the worst dis-
aster, perhaps, of the whole war has befallen our arms.
After days and weeks of battle and siege, that strong-
hold has been given up to the enemy, the Mississippi
is open to the Federal fleet from end to end, and the
territory of the Confederacy has been rent in twain.
The States west of the Mississippi are now isolated
from the remainder of the Confederacy.
These two great reverses, happening at the same time,
have naturally cast a gloom over all the country. The
loss at Vicksburg was particularly heavy in material
and men, to say nothing of the place as a stronghold and
connecting link between the two parts of the Confed-
eracy. Some think it was a fatal blow.
But, though our losses have been great, there is yet
hope for u*. The spirit and courage of the army have
not been broken. Let us fight them hereafter on our
own soil. Our cause is just, and so long as a single
invader remains to disturb us, we ought to, we must,
light them. Though the private soldier feels and knows
126 Under the Stars and Bars
that some one in authority has been guilty of blundering,
there remains a determined feeling "to fight them to
the last ditch."
May it not be that these reverses are chastisements,
sent upon our country as a rebuke for the sins of the
nation ? I have thought all along that God would, in
some way, punish us for the flagrant and causeless dis-
regard of the sanctity of the Sabbath day. May the
afflictions already sent suffice to recall all in authority
to a sense of our sins, and produce a speedy reformation
and return to duty. But I have no heart to speak further
of the deplorable state of things that confronts us.
The buildings on the Fair Grounds (Camp Lee),
where we drill, are being used as a camp of instruction
for the State conscripts, or drafted men, who have been
forced into service. There they are drilled and trained
until assigned to some command. It is whispered
around that the experiences of a conscript at Camp Lee
are not altogether pleasant. Doubtless many a man
will retain a vivid recollection of the place to his dying
day. Well, they should have gone out earlier, and thus
escaped the den. But there are men who would rather
suffer martyrdom at Camp Lee than fill an honorable
place in the line of battle. Poor fellows ! They are to
Since the late reverses, the enrolling officers will be-
come busier and more energetic than ever, and large
additions to the conscript camp may be expected. The
Under the Stars and Bars - 127
skulkers and hiders at home may not have altogether au
easy time of it, making baskets and mending shoes.
They had better come out of the woods, like honorable
men, and give themselves up. Yet no one thinks much
of the bush-hiders, as material for making good and
efficient soldiers. And, perhaps, after all, they had as
well be let alone, and allowed to remain in hiding.
They count for little anywhere.
Hoping these dark clouds will soon roll away and
victory be ours again —
Your friend, B.
[Lest the sons and daughters should entertain wrong
impressions concerning the terms "conscript" and
"skulkers/' let me offer here an explanation. The
words do not apply to one and the same class of men,
but to different sets. Conscripts were those who, not
having gone into the service voluntarily, were drafted
and sent on to some place of instruction and training,
like that at Camp Lee, in Richmond. No disgrace or
reproach should attach to any one who was conscripted,
unless otherwise he attempted to evade the call and es-
cape from duty. All could not volunteer at first, and
there were some men to whom military service was
never a fit and useful place. They would have been
of more benefit to the State if they had been permitted
t<> remain at home as farmers, laborers or mechanics.
Let no one, then, attach any discreditable meaning ro
the term "conseript." The word itself is one of respect.
128 Under the Stars and Bars
The Latin, conscripts, from conscribo, to enroll, means
"written, enrolled," and was applied to the body of
senators of Rome, who were termed conscript fathers
because their names were written in the register of the
The other term, "skulkers," is meant to apply to
those men — there were a few such — who declined to go
into military service at all, and to escape arrest, went
into some place of concealment, and remained hid from
public observation until it became safe for them to
appear openly. The skulker is one who will not fight.
The deserter is one, who, having been in the service,
deserts his command, and either skulks at home or goes
to the enemy. The traitor is one who deserts his post,
violates his allegiance to his command or country, and
betrays it to the enemy. The last deserves the deepest
contempt. The skulker is to be despised. A traitor
ought to be scorned and ostracized. The skulker de-
serves to lose caste among all honorable men. But he
cannot be regarded as an enemy. He is simply a shirk.
He does not perform a public trust, or duty, but he
betrays no one, and does not aid the enemy.]
Under the Stars and Bars 129
Hanging of Kellogg, the spy— Revivals— Furloughs— Health, of
the Company — Books — Note.
Camp Letcher, Va.,
Aug. 3, 1863.
My Dear Friend: — I was present, on Eriday after-
noon, at the banging of Kellogg, the spy, who was cap-
tured a year ago at Island !No. 10, in the Mississippi
river. He was executed at Camp Lee, on the grounds
where we drill daily. He manifested intrepid resolu-
tion, was perfectly calm, conversed freely and pleas-
antly with his guard, and met death with great firmness.
At the given signal the trap fell, and the body swung
in mid-air. A few convulsive movements passed over
his frame, and then the body relaxed, and all was over.
Such was the fate of Kellogg, the spy. But what is
tbe death of one man, when thousands fall in a single
battle? Truly, war has many repellant phases, many
horrors, many tragedies, and there are many secret foes
and many betrayals. And when or what the end, no
From these sad topics, I gladly turn to a subject more
agreeable — to the revivals of religion that are taking
place in the city and throughout the army. There
seems to be a great outpouring of the Spirit upon our
people everywhere, at home, among the women, children
130 Under the Stars and Bars
and aged men, and in all divisions of the army. At
Clay Street M. E. church, in Richmond, where our men
attend most regularly, because the church is so near to
our Camp, a great revival has been sometime in pro-
gress, and several of my comrades have gone forward
and accepted Christ as their Saviour. The congrega-
tion at that church welcome the soldiers to their meet-
ings most heartily, and work among them, and urge
them with earnestness and zeal to accept the overtures
of grace now, while they may. In consequence of these
things, a great religious fervor pervades our Company,
and the pious members talk freely to their unconverted
comrades on the subject of religion, and urge them to
attend the meetings and read the religious tracts and
papers that are offered them.
The newspapers of the day contain glowing accounts
of the revival spirit, and spread of religion in the Army
of Northern Virginia, and in the armies in Tennessee
and at other points. There is a great awakening. God
is visiting our land with the offers of His grace ; and
the future historian, when he comes to write up the
record of this war, will leave the story but partly told
if he fails to relate how the spirit of religion, and con-
secration to Christ, swept through the Southern armies
and churches in 1803. The narrative, if given in truth-
fulness and completeness, will form one of the most
interesting chapters in the history of these times.
As the place where the several denominational de-
positories of religious reading have their location, and
Under the Stars and Bars 131
where tracts, books, Testaments and religions papers are
printed and kept for gratuitous circulation, the city of
Richmond may be regarded as the head and centre of
this glorious revival. May the good cause continue to
increase and spread until every man in all the armies,
both officers and privates, shall accept Christ as his
Saviour and King.
The various commands around this city are being
allowed furloughs at the rate of four to a Company at
the same time, and some of the men have already secured
theirs, and have visited their homes and have returned.
Four are now absent at home.
This concession is a great boon to our men, who
have been away from their homes so long, and the
privilege of visiting friends and kindred once more is
eagerly sought by the men. But as the names are taken
iu alphabetical order, those whose names are low down
on the list are rather glum, fearing that the order will
be revoked before their time comes.
The health of the Company is very good, and has
been all the year. There are only three or four men
in the hospital now, and, I believe, not a single case in
camp. \\ T e have had but one death since the spring
and early summer of last year, when our losses by
death were heavy. One man— Isaac G. Jones— has
lately been discharged from service on account of dis-
aluhty, and has returned home. His disease was
132 Under the Stars and Bars
phthisis pulmonalis, and he had been in hospital half
the time since he joined the Company in 1861. He
was an original member.
Another man— William Crocker, of Isle of Wight-
has also been returned home, for inefficiency. Our
•ith Corporal, Samuel A. Moody, has recently died,
while at home on furlough. He was a young and
promising soldier, and his death is much lamented.
Our location so near the city, and the privilege of
procuring permits almost daily, offer the boys oppor-
tunity of buying plenty of books to read, and there
art' now in camp books enough to form a considerable
library. But books, of course, are a prohibited article
for n soldier on the march. Nothing but articles of
absolute necessity are allowed him then, and these
darling books will have to remain behind when we move
Good-by, and pray for the soldiers.
Your friend, B.
[The two men named in this letter as having been
discharged from service, and the one that died, cover,
1 believe, the entire loss of the Company for the year
ISG3. But the gain, by new recruits, during the year
was considerable, and was, as far as I have been able
to determine, an follows:
George W. Armistead, from Richmond, mathema-
tician, transferred to the navy in 1864; Joseph W.
Under the Stars and Bars 133
Bailey, from Southampton, a brother of James T.
Bailey; Decatur Barlow and Junius H. Barlow,
brothers, from Isle of Wight; Jacob E. Bell, from
Surry, brother of Corporal John H. Bell ; William Joe
Bell, from Surry; Franklin F. Carrington and Wil-
liam H. Elliott, from Charlotte county; Edward T.
Edwards, from Surry ; R. Fuller Farrar, from Henrico
county; J. Thomas Harris, from Surry, brother of Wil-
liam E. Harris, who came to us in 1862 ; Beverly W.
Irving, from Alexandria, Va. ; Edward W. Jones, from
Richmond; Julian H. Judkins, from Isle of Wight;
James T. Latimer, from Isle of Wight ; J. Thomas Lit-
tle, also from Isle of Wight, brother of Luther J. Little
and William H. Little, both from the same county;
James J. Lewis, from aSTansemond ; James M. Lewis,
from Isle of Wight; Everett II. McGuriman, from
Surry; Marion Messersmith, from Baltimore, trans-
ferred to Surry Cavalry in 1861; William II. Olliver,
from Surry; Henry Peters, from Surry; Charles C.
Richardson, from Sussex; C. Travis Savedge and
Franklin R. Seward, from Surry ; John F. Scott, from
Isle of Wight; Malory Shields, from Hampton, Va. ;
W. Henry Turner, from Isle of Wight; Thomas II.
Tynes, from Surry, who was transferred to us from
the Jamestown Heavy Artillery, Captain Harrison's
Company ; and Thomas Williams, of Surry. A total
of 30, making the net gain of the S. L. A. for the year
1863, l>7 men.
The story of the rise and spread of religion in the
armies of the South forms a highly interesting, en-
134 Under the Stars and Bars
couraging and instructive part of the history of those
times. For a general and pretty full account of it, as
relating more especially to the Army of Northern Vir-
ginia, see Dr. J. William Jones's splendid volume,
"Christ in the Camp."
But I cannot but feel that a fuller record should,
long ago, have appeared concerning the outpouring of
the same blessing in the other large armies of the
South. Even as relates alone to the S. L. A., I am
conscious that a book of no small size would be needed
to tell of all that was done to promote religion and gain
converts to Christ, by the pious among our own men,
and of all the conversions that took place from our
ranks, in the religious meetings around us. Only the
final day will reveal all the good that was accomplished
in these revivals. As one consequence, many of the
vices that went into the armies at first, such as cursing,
obscene talking and card-playing, were laid aside.]
Under the Stars and Bars 135
Guardian angels— September days in camp — Hard times in
SurJy — But worse in other parts — Courage, and better
times — Note.
Camp Letcher, Va.,
Sept. 15, 1863.
My Dear Friend: — Do yon believe in the doctrine of
guardian angels I I do, most implicitly. And I tell
you, that, for a poor soldier, exposed to so many dan-
gers, and liable to be called upon to face death at any
time, it is a most comforting and strengthening belief.
1 think the Bible reveals the truth of this faith very
clearly. I cannot now go into particulars, but if you
will turn to Hebrews i : 14, and by the reference notes
there found, trace out the kindred passages, you will
have my Bible authority for this encouraging doctrine.
And I tell you it is highly encouraging. It is com-
forting to think, when dangers gather about us, that
there are wiser and stronger beings near, though in-
visible to mortal eye, whose gentle and silent ministra-
tions are constantly between us and danger. No spar-
row fall* th without our heavenly Father's notice. And
while I know that sparrows (men) do fall, yet I know
thoy cannot unless lie permits it. And I tell you that,
in battle, I commit myself into God's hand, and ask
136 Under the Stars and Bars
that my guardian angels defend me. Is this puerile ?
Is it weak ? In number 34 of the Psalter we read :
"His angels camp around to guard,
And rescue them that fear the Lord."
I love to think that heaven has given me an angel, to
guard my pathway.
To-day is one of the brightest and sunniest of this
bright and sweet autumnal month. The woods have
put on their "sear and yellow robe," but the days are
warm and splendid, the sky, intensely blue, smiles
tb rough a dry and riant atmosphere, and all around
me is loveliness — all, but these reminders that a cruel
and bloody war is now in progress.
These scenes must change soon. Stern winter, with
snow and sleet, will come shortly; and want and, in
many cases, suffering, is already abroad in our land
and in our homes. It gives me pain to hear that times
are getting hard in Surry, that our friends at home
must soon experience the pinchings of want. It makes
it doubly hard for the soldier in camp to be content,
when he knows that friends at home are in need of the
necessaries, to say nothing of the comforts, of life.
And, from various acounts that reach me, the con-
dition of things is worse in other parts than it is in
Surry. What the result is to be, no one can foresee.
But there is need of great courage, invincible resolu-
tion, unfaltering faith. So far, I believe, the private
Under the Stars and Bars 137
soldier is vet resolute, and determined to stand it out
to the end, while hoping that the end may be near, and
a brighter day close at hand.
And when that better day comes indeed, and the
soldiers are all back at their dear old. homes once more,
how thankful all will be, and how interesting it will
be to hear them tell of these times that are now
passing — hear them recount the trials and tribulations
of the war, of their marches and counter-marches, of
battle and blood and wounds, all freely endured for the
sake of those same dear homes and firesides. Then the
faith in the guardian angels will be stronger than ever.
And each return of the bright September days will be
welcomed with tenderer heart, because of the memory
of the days of like beauty that they whiled away be-
neath war's rude banner, under the Staks and Bars
of their loved Southland.
In all dangers and trials, ever
Your friend, B.
[This short letter, though containing too much of a
personal nature, will serve to show how affairs at home,
as wv-11 as in the camp, were gradually growing harder —
how poverty was slowly, but surely, strengthening its
coils and testing the courage and endurance of all. As
th<« months sped by, and war continued to ply its horrid
trade, labor deserted the fields, and there was less and
less pjod-oced, till scarcely enough was left to feed the
women and children at home. Added to this, but little
138 Under the Stars and Bars
money was circulating, and that little — Confederate
script only — was well-nigh worthless. It possessed no
purchasing value, or scarcely none. And though it had
been as good as gold, no one had much of anything to
sell. Stores were closed. Flour, sugar, coffee, bacon
and, in many cases, even salt, were not to be had. It
was a time of need, of trial, of suffering.
But the courage and resolution of the soldier were
unabated. The invader's heel was on his native soil.
His fleets were blockading every Southern port, and
preventing the import of foreign goods, of the very
necessaries of life. The slaves had been lured or stolen
from their masters, and the plow was idle on the farms.
But the Southern soldier knew he could whip the North-
ern hirelings, two to one, any day that he could meet
them in a fair contest — knew that he had done so on a
hundred battle-fields. He did not fear to meet the
Northern foe. He only asked of his Government food
to fight upon, and sustenance and protection for the
wife and bairns at home while he was away.
Could the civil government have provided for the
home people, as it was in duty bound to do, and as
it did faithfully try to do — and could the soldiers in
the field have been properly fed and clothed, there would
have been no complaint or repining, and the war would
have been carried to a successful issue. The disasters
that had attended our arms in 18G3 only intensified and
increased the poverty and distress that were becoming
manifest everywhere. But these losses could have been
Under the Stars and Bars 139
Winter quarters again— Rations— Small-pox — A fire — The city
by moonlight— "All quiet along the James"— Confederate
Congress — Note.
Camp Schermerhorn, Va.,
Dec. 10, 1863.
My Dear Friend: — Camp Letcher is deserted now.
Light foot's Battalion has gone from it. The place where
the S. L. A. had passed a quiet and comparatively pleas-
ant summer, is now silent. Xo drill, no reveille, no
assembly, no tattoo, no military parade or bustle, dis-
turb now the nearby dwellers of that fair grove. The
soldier has left it, and the owner thereof may take com-
fort that the most of the goodly trees — but not all of
thorn — are again in his keeping.
We are in winter quarters again, a brand-new place,
all in the woods, never before disturbed by a military
band. The three Companies of the Battalion are a little
J! part, each from the others, and we have plenty of
room. And there is plenty of wood here, too, so we
will not freeze. The Colonel's headquarters, the hos-
pital, etc., are near our camp. The land is owned by
a Mr. Schermerhorn, and the Camp has been named for
him. The men have built log cabins for themselves,
and stalls for the horses, of which there are 64 belonging
140 Under the Stars and Bars
to the Battery and officers, besides 12 mules, for the
commissary and feed-wagons. It requires a deal of
forage for all these head of teams.
The whole Camp is surrounded by woodland, which
will break off the winds of winter, and, altogether we
are quite coinportably situated, and may pass the sea-
son pleasantly enough, if permitted to stay here. But
this, of course, is as uncertain as next year's crop of
beans. We may not stay here a week longer. But the
men are not borrowing any trouble, on account of any
contingencies that may arise. We are in "for better
or for worse," and
Let the war wax and wane as it will,
We'll be gay and happy, happy still.
The men are singing their songs, and having their
fun, just as if everything were as lovely as a garden
of roses all the land over. Joe Kea, incorrigible tease,
is fretting Tom the fiddler nearly to his death ; "Com-
modore" keeps his crow, has his buttermilk, and sim-
mers his pea-porridge ; and Sergeant Pond and his tent-
mates — or rather, cabin-mates — have their nightly
songs of prayer and praise, just as they did a year ago
over at Camp Roper, when "Scotland was a-burning."
But we hear nothing of Scotland this time. That little
fellow With the bucket of water put the fire out.
Were it not for the lamentable thinness and shortness
of the ration crop this winter, we would not have very
much to annoy us, or cause us anxiety. It must have
Under the Stars and Bars 141
been a bad season last summer, for both the meal and
the beef aro number three, short. The late recruits, of
whom there arc a few, look on with apprehension, and
turn away from the poor fare in disgust. But the
Veterans tell them it is no use to sulk, they will have
to come to it. But for an occasional box from home,
some of the men wOttld fare badly indeed. There is
yet a little to spare at the homes of some of the men.
I hear that small-pox has broken out in the city and
may become general. Some of Lightfoot's command
have it. In consequence thereof, orders have been
made rigid about visiting town. The men are not al-
lowed to go anywhere, except on a detail, to perform a
duty. There are a few men, however, of the S. L. A.
Camp who often disregard orders. These go into town
Jeveral times a week.
The men of the Battalion were called upon, a few
day.-, since, to assist in removing the household goods
from a burning dwelling. The residence of a Mr. Snell
had taken fire, and before it was discovered, it had
gained such headway that the building could not be
saved. The men succeeded in getting out nearly every-
thing of any value. The family took refuge in a small
office upon the grounds, that, fortunately, escaped the
flames. The weather was cold, with several inches of
Know on the ground, and the family has been put to a
good deal of inconvenience. But for the presence of
th»j nun, they would have lost nearly everything.
142 ' Under the Stars and Bars
Despite the desolating war, and the general stagna-
tion of business, and negleet of improvements, our Capi-
tal is really, even yet, a queenly city. Especially is it
beautiful when viewed under the moonlight. While on
guard at the stilly hour of midnight, I often turn and
look upon the town, as it lies in panoramic splendor
before me, till I am lost in admiration, and almost for-
get that I am on post. Spread out over its numerous
hills, it sits a very queen among cities. The dim out-
line of the taller buildings traced across the horizon,
the numerous lights that glimmer in the distance, the
dull noise of the water falling over the rocks in the
James, the thud of arriving and departing trains, and
the sound of the bells, as they tell the hours as they
pass — all these combine to fill my mind with admira-
tion for the Capital of the Confederacy.
"As yet, 'tis midnight deep. The weary clouds,
Slow meeting, mingle into solid gloom"- —
and, as now and anon, they cast their shadows over the
town and hide it from view, I think of the changing
fortunes, the successes and reverses of our arms, and
of the tide of war that has ebbed and flowed, and beat
its angry waters at the granite feet of our Metropolis.
For well-nigh three years, the swash of this surging
tide has echoed at the gates of this devoted town, but
it stands ye\, a gibraltar in a surging sea. Its dangers
and its sacrifices have endeared it to the heart of every
Virginian. "When thi3 war ends, it will be, I doubt
Under the Stars and Bars 143
not, the Mecca of the Confederacy. Here around, in
Hollywood, in Oakwood, and elsewhere, sleep thousands
of the bravest heroes of the South, who have fallen in
its defense. Here tens of thousands more have bravely
fought, bled and suffered. These things give an air
of mournful interest, and of tender sacredness, to the
city, that time can never obliterate. To this spot, the
heart of the Veteran, like the pilgrim of Islam to the
shrine of the Prophet, in future years, will turn to ad-
mire and worship.
The Congress of the Confederacy is now in session
at the Capitol in the city, called together to consider
and deliberate on the exigencies of war, and the press-
ing need of devising ways and means of repleting the
armies, and providing food and clothing for the men.
They have a grave duty, a great and imperative task
before them. May they be found equal to it. The
army is looking to them for help. May they not have
to look in vain.
Read Numbers vi: 24-26, and pray for the final
glorious success of our cause.
Your friend, B.
[The countless Confederate dead that repose in the
cemeteries, and in numerous unknown graves, about
the city of Richmond, though unmarked and neglected
many of their graves may be, can. never be forgotten.
I he historian, the bard, the painter, the sculptor, will
144 Under the Stars and Bars
embalm their deeds, and the willow and ivy that bend
over them, will keep green their memories to the latest
ages. It fell to the lot of but a few of the S. L. A. to
fill honored graves in the sacred soil that environs the
once beleagured city. J. Thomas Brown, Josiah
Gwaltney, Zacheriah Holland, James Pond, and Ed-
ward AY. Wright, are all that I can now recall to mind.
Somewhere there, it is supposed in Oakwood, these, our
former comrades, sleep their last sleep. But the sur-
vivors who yet remain will not forget them. And it is
the purpose of this humble narrative, to tell, in the
course of it, as each one fell, the part he bore in the
contest for home, and honor, and State.
The winter of 1863-'C4 passed quietly by for the
army around Richmond. No military operations were
undertaken until near the close of the winter, and no
public event of any importance that ought to be men-
tioned in these pages. There was an affair of some
significance that was threatened, and the S. L. A. was
called out, and held in readiness, to aid in suppressing
the apprehended movement. But, fortunately, their
services were not required ; and it is deemed best that
the particulars be not given — that the secret should
perish with the survivors of the S. L. A.]
Under the Stars and Bars 145
Forage details — Condition of the country visited — "Greens" and
pot-liquor— Why soldiers are given to "raiding"— A lecture
on Palestine — Pay-day in camp — Note.
Camp Schermekhor^, Va.,
Feby. 4, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — The forage wagons of the Bat-
talion have been out a good deal this winter, making
long trips after feed for the horses. Sometimes they
are gone several days. The section visited mostly lies
northeast of Richmond, in Hanover and King William
counties. 1 have been out with the wagons on several
of these expeditions, and I like it much better than lay-
ing idle in camp. When we go into King William, we
cross the Pamunkey at the Piping-Tree ferry — for
there are no bridges — or at Chester.
Taxes are being paid in kind now, that is, in corn,
forage, cotton, wool, etc., and our wagons are sent
out to receive these things and convey them to camp.
And, though there are frequently some discomforts to
be endured on these trips at this season, yet a tour over
a section of country that is new to one, has its inter-
esting and relieving features, and I get on the .detail
as often as I can. One meets with new scenery at every
turn, learns something of the topography and general
condition of the country; and sometimes a kind farmer
14G Under the Slavs and Bars
treats one to fruit or something nice to eat. We make
journeys of thirty or forty miles, stay out four or five
days, and almost always contrive to bring back with us
into camp something to help out the miserably short
rations that "Cousin Sally Ann" — C. S. A. — is giving
The section that we have been visiting, however, has
been overrun and pillaged by the armies, and the people
really have very little of anything to spare. The
slaves have mostly gone off to the Blue Coats, and the
few white men that remain— old men and boys — are
not capable of producing much surplus. The farms
are mostly in a sad state of neglect, and broom-straw
and pine bushes are fast invading the once productive
King William, however, is a fine county, even now,
with a good soil and fine climate, and there are many
good farms. At present, large areas are idle. No
wheat or grass crops are growing, and the live-stock
has been greatly depleted.
But most of the men contrive, on their return from
these details, to bring with them a sack or two of col-
lards, or turnip salad, or kale, or something green, to
boil with the modicum of meat, and thus have a big
kettleful of pot-liquor to drink. I tell you, my friend,
there is nothing in the world, that I know of, equal to
plenty of good, hot pot-liquor, for restoring life and
vivacity to a lean and lank Confederate soldier. Do
Under the Stars and Bars 147
not smile or look incredulous. The average soldier can
smell pot-liquor a mile off, and he will go for it every
time, unless be is tied.
And "greens!" Did you ever seo the negroes eat
greens, at an old-time corn-shucking? It was nothing
to the way the soldiers devour them. To the hungry
Bflldicr — and all of them are hungry now — to the half-
famished soldier it is equal to a wedding feast. There
is not a man of the S. L. A. who cannot tell, by a sort of
pfcseieiiee or instinct, when a pot-boiling is going on
iu camp. And as soon as they can locate "the game," it
is amusing to see them coming round, cup in hand, beg-
ging for "just a little bit of that liquor!"
A cup of hot pot-liquor is a boon to the soldier. It
has a wonderfully invigorating and reviving effect. It
warms, exhilarates, cheers. It thaws the frozen heart,
moves the silent tongue, sends a prayer to the lip of
the recipient, and starts a tear of happiness in the eye
of the giver. I will never cease to sing the praises of
pot -liquor as long as I live.
Ho you wonder how some soldier boys that you know
ener could "fall from grace" so far as to forget their
early training, and be given to "raiding?" I tell you
it i> nature calling for what the system really needs.
And when "the springtime has come, gentle Annie,"
and a soldier can secure a little piece of bacon, a hock
joint, or a bone, forthwith he is off to hunt for some-
thing to boil with it. And if a turnip patch, or a garden
148 Under the Stars and Bars
of collards, lies in his way, and the stingy owner will not
sell or give him "a little mess,''' is it a great mystery that
some of those "greens'' should disappear, when once
the evening shadows fall? The boy has "located" the
game, and he would have it, though a Federal gunboat
were guarding the ground. There may be, there are
conditions, where the eighth commandment does not
apply. See, for instance, Prov. vi: 30. Do not fear,
on this account, that the soldier boy will become a repro-
bate. He will not. He cannot.
I have lately been to hear a great lecturer tell about
the land of Palestine. As the subject was one that is
always and profoundly interesting to me, I managed to
buy a ticket, and attended the lecture. It was given
at the Second Baptist church, by the Rev. John Ley-
burn, who has visited the Orient, and describes scenes
and events from personal observation and knowledge.
I cannot give you even the briefest synoposis of the ad-
dress, but it was both very interesting and instructive
to me. I was amply repaid for the Confederate dollar
that it had cost me. There is no place in the wide world
that 1 would more love to visit that the Holy Land —
the "Lord's land."
At last, after four months' waiting, pay-day has come
around again, our command has been paid off, and the
boys are happy — as happy as Confederate scrip can
make them. But what will a- month's pay — $12 — buy
Under the Stars and Bars 149
now, when everything has advanced to fabulous prices ?
The whole four months' pay would not buy a barrel of
flour or a suit of clothes. But the Government owes
each one of us a $100 bounty, for re-enlisting. When
we get that, we will be quite flush.
May peace and health be with you all.
Your friend, B.
[My comrades, I am sure, will be able to appreciate
fully, and enjoy, the allusion to "spring greens" and
pot-liquor. They will bear testimony to its truthful-
ness; for were they not among those same boys who
presided at many a pot-boiling of "ye olden time?"
And some of them, I fear, not all, but some of them,
will have to plead guilty to the charge of "raiding" a
little, on certain hard and trying occasions. When all
other resources failed them, there was one resort that
generally won the prize, and the boys knew how to
The paragraph in reference to the lecture on Pales-
tine is admitted here to illustrate the fact, that, al-
though the thunders of war were loudly reverberating
from every nook and corner of the Confederacy, yet
there were life and ambition enough remaining in the
laud fur the people to turn aside awhile to intellectual
things. The spirit for advancement and improvement
Mas not dead. In the midst of their heroic struggle.
for personal liberty and State independence, they still
found time to listen to the educator and the literatus.
150 Under the Stars and Bars
In tbe campaign of 1863 as a whole, Jhe advantage
was decidedly on the side of the Federal arms. With
Ihe defeat of Hooker and the fall of Jackson, victory
6eemed to have forsaken our banners. The severe re-
verse at Gettysburg, and the fall of Vicksburg, were dis-
asters from which the South never recovered. It is
useless to speculate on what might have been, but, if
the expedition into Pennsylvania had never been under-
taken — and if a corps of General Lee's army had been
Bent in time to the aid of the garrison at Vicksburg —
perhaps — perhaps the march of Sherman through Geor-
gia, and of Grant from the Wilderness to Appomattox,
would never have been ; and the Confederacy would have
gained the prize for which it contended. Fighting to
resist invasion, from the moment the South itself be-
came an invader, its fortunes began to wane, and suc-
cess was impossible.]
Under the Stars and Bars 151
Campaign of 1864 begun — Confederate victories — Dahlgren-Kil-
patrlck cavalry dash — Its nefarious purpose — And farcical
failure — Stirring events expected — Note.
Camp Schermekhoex, Va.,
March 6, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — The military drama of 1864 has
already begun, and battles have been fought in Florida,
in Mississippi, and in Texas. And I am glad to say
the result has been Confederate victories in each case.
On February 20th, our General Finegan gained a great
victory at Olustee, Fla., capturing prisoners, cannon,
and arms. On the 22d, General Forest achieved a vic-
tory at Okolona, Miss. And the Federals are reported
to be badly beaten, in their attempted advance into
Texas from Louisiana. These successes have greatly
revived the drooping spirits of our people and armies,
and are, I sincerely trust, a happy omen of greater vic-
And the ball has opened here in Virginia, also. Al-
ready we have been called out to meet a proud and
boastful foe. Bands of Federal cavalry, under Dahl-
gren and Kilpatrick, have just made a sudden dash to
capture Richmond, and, on March 1st, our Company
was hastily sent to the outworks west of the city, where
Kilpatrick was said to be advancing. At the same time
152' Under the Stars and Bars
(Kilpatrick and Dahlgren having divided their forces),
Captain Thornton's Battery was moved to a point north
of the city, and Captain Rives's Company to a position
on the east. Thus it was the design of the enemy to
attack the city at two or more points at the same time.
The plan was well conceived, and it showed great
audacity and daring on the part of the foe. But they
failed to press their advantage with vigor, after they
had gained sight of the prize, and so they missed it and
The enemy's forces, under Kilpatrick, appeared near
the outer works, on the western side of the city, on the
afternoon of the 1st, and were met by infantry, aided
by our Battery. After a short engagement, they were
easily repulsed, and, without renewing the attack, the
enemy drew off, going in a northerly direction. His
design, evidently, was to unite with Dahlgren, who was
coming up on the north of the city.
But Dahlgren did not arrive till late at night on the
1st, and in the darkness, having crossed beyond his
intended point of attack, he became entangled with our
forces, and his troops became confused. In his attempt
to get out of the trap, Dahlgren himself was killed, and
his body left in our lines. i\s soon as daylight occurred
on the 2d, a feeble engagement took place. But having
lost their leader, and also a number of prisoners, these
forces also retired, going in the direction of the Pe-
Under the Stars and Bars 153
Despite his daring attempt, the enemy showed very
little vim in the execution of his plans. His effort was
too feeble to alarm even a force of conscripts that were
posted at the point where Dahlgren came up.
The night of March 1st was rainy and dark, and
having met with no picket, Dahlgren's troops rode into
our lines without knowing it. In the slight skirmish
that ensued, their General was killed, and some pris-
oners were taken on both sides.
Dahlgren's body was taken into Richmond, and
papers were found upon it that revealed a most diaboli-
cal and dastardly plot. The design of the sudden dash
was shown to be, the capture of Richmond, with as
many of the higher officials as possible, all of whom
were to be executed, and then the Federal prisoners in
the Lilly, and on Belle Isle were to be released, to
-■"■V and burn the city, and overawe, maltreat, and
murder the citizens!
But a gracious Providence ordered it otherwise.
Such a fiendish outrage was not to be. The skillful dis-
pwitfoa of the Confederate forces about the city caused
the enemy to conclude that they stood a better chance
of being slain, than did our beloved President and
I \t bard to believe that military men of respectable
lining, like Kilpatrick and Dahlgren, would stoop
' a plot so low and wicked as this attempt seems to
Mve beeit. There is reason to believe that the plan
originated elsewhere, and that these officers were mis-
154 Under the Stars and Bars
led. In view of recent events in which our Company
has already figured to some extent, there, doubtless,
were spies concealed in Richmond, who were keeping
the foe informed of the condition of affairs among
our people, and of what our Government was doing —
and these leaders had looked for some material aid
from within the city, to enable them to carry out their
nefarious purpose! Did they suppose that there were
no forces at all to defend the city, and that they could
ride into the very heart of it without interruption,
with a troop so small as was the one led by them ? The
feeble effort that they made to carry out their plans
shows clearly enough that, either they were incom-
petents, wanting in skill and judgment to command an
army, or that they were looking to other hands to do
the hellish work of slaughter, rapine, and violence
among the helpless people of a great city.
This sudden dash of a comparatively small body of
Federal cavalry, at this time, and under the circum-
stances that surrounded it, and preceded it, is invested
with more than usual significance, although our papers
have little to say about it. What if the enemy had suc-
ceeded in breaking into the city and carrying out their
designs, by liberating the large number of Federal pris-
oners in the Libby and on Belle Isle I What a pan-
demonium of misrule, lawlessness, confusion, pillage,
robbing, personal violence and murder would have
quickly resulted ! The picture is too horrible to con-
template ! The plot, wherever or by whom conceived,
Under the Stars and Bars 155
will doubtless be noted by the future fair and impartial
hi-!<. riai), as one of the foulest blots on the character
and spirit of the foe in this war. What Southern boy,
with a heart even as big as a mustard seed, could refuse
to light, to aid in repelling such vandals from our soil ?
It gives me pleasure to know that the Surry Artillery
held a hand, and aided in driving off these would-be
assassu&s and fiends.
The summer's campaign is starting early this year,
and, doubtless we will have plenty of work to do before
>!■> close. We do not expect to remain in our present
quarters much longer. The Company, and, in fact,
the whole Command, is in good trim, the men ready
and resolute, and the horses in fair condition. We all
feel, too, that we are engaged in a righteous cause, and
when the opportunity comes, we intend to strike hard
"for home and native land."
Continue to pray for us, and for the success of the
£ont!iern armies everywhere.
Your friend, B.
[The Federal authorities, it is said, denied the fact
that the Kilpatriek-DahlgTcn expedition was set on
foot for any such purpose, or clothed with any such
authority, as that claimed for it by our people. They
disputed the existence of any such papers as those pur-
porting to have been found on the body of General
How, tlu-n. did the charge originate? Surely it was
not manufactured from the whole cloth by our officials.
156 Under the Stars and Bars
The writer was a private in the ranks when the events
here recorded were transpiring, and, of course, knew
nothing of what was doing in official circles. But he
did have eyes and a mind to see and contemplate. And
sharing, as he did, in the affair of the 1st and 2d of
March, 1864, in which the Federal cavalry was so
easily turned aside from Eichmond, without making
so much as a schoolboy show of pluck — and joining
this event with other matters, with which he was, at
the time, cognizant, he believes now, and has always
believed, that it was the purpose of this expedition, by
the aid of a hand within the eitij, to unfasten the doors
and turn the lion out of the cage, to sate itself on blood
and plunder ! By drawing off their forces, and leaving
the city to be sacked and burned by a wild and lawless
horde, they would thus escape, so they thought, any
responsibility for the act, and prevent foreign nations
from expressing disapprobation thereof. It proved at
the time a farcical failure. But, in view of what might
have been, it ceased to be a farce, and revealed the pos-
sibility of the existence of a terrible volcano beneath
our feet. It was a narrow escape from what might have
proved a most serious disaster to the Southern cause.
It was also a signal light in the social system that should
have been more carefully heeded. I feel that the sur-
vivors of the S. L. A. will understand these things.
They shared in the events, and were cognizant of the
undertow that was moving along beneath the tide. I
am writing for them, not for the public eye, and need
not express myself more clearly here.]
Under the Stars and Bars 157
liu> "Soldiers' Home"— Oakwood Cemetery— A chicken "raid"—
Double duty — Bongs — Note.
Camp Schekmeehobn, Va.,
April 10, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — I had heard frequent mention of
tlit: famous Soldiers' Home in Richmond, but have had
no opportunity of testing the hospitalities thereof, until
one day recently. Being in the city without a written
"permit," I was halted by a guard, and taken to the
h foresaid "hotel," to give cause and reason why a "high
private" should be prowling about the town without the
necessary papers. As my excuse did not quite satisfy
the gentleman in command, I was told to remain over
until the next morning.
As it was near the dinner hour, and being curious to
test the capacity of their "bill of fare," I kept quiet
til) the drum sounded, and the meal was served. The
guests, of whom there were some twenty or thirty, were
arranged all in line, but without being seated, the roll
<>f lianas was called, and then a tray of light bread.
cut into half-loaves, each loaf already small enough,
was passed down the line. Each man took a piece, and
each man proceeded to put it away where it would do
him the most good.
158 Under the Stars and Bars
This was the only course that was served, which, I
think, you will grant was a very light dinner, even for
these times. But I have long been used to this sort of
board, and so I ate my half-loaf in silent thankfulness,
and then went up to the top of the "Home" to take a
survey of the surroundings, and select a good point of
exit. There were a few guards stationed around, and
a high wall enclosed the little yard. But the guards
were tired and listless, and a low shed in the rear pre-
sented an available "weak point" in their line of en-
vironment. Awaiting a favorable chance, I easily
scaled the wall and was down on the outside without
any one knowing about it.
Being pretty well acquainted with the streets and
alleys of the town, I managed to evade the guards, and
soon made my way back to Camp, fully satisfied with
my experience in the "Soldiers' Home," and just in
time to fall in line and answer at roll call. When the
list of boarders at the ''Home" was called for supper
that night, the official in charge expressed some surprise
at the absence of "that tall fellow with the artillery
The "Home" serves as a sort of temporary prison for
men who are found in the city without "permits," where
they are held until they can be returned to their com-
mands. It also supplies a stopping-place at night for
a soldier on furlough, who is passing through the city
to or from camp. In the latter respect, it tills an im-
portant end, providing gratis a shelter for the night
Under the Stars and Bars 159
and something at least to eat, for one who has no money
to pay for more expensive lodgings. It was a wise
and charitable conception, in fact, a necessary pro-
vision for the scores of Confederate soldiers who are
constantly passing to and from the armies, or stopping
here at night.
Yon have heard of Oakwood Cemetery, the soldiers'
bnrying-groimd ? It lies on the eastern, or rather, the
northeastern, side of the city. It covers several acres
of level ground, and is reserved for the burial of Con-
federate soldiers who die in the hospitals here, or are
killed in battle near the city. The native trees on the
ground are mostly of some species of the oak genus, and
the ground, properly cleared of debris and fenced,
would be a beautiful last resting-place for a soldier.
Already there are many hundred graves, and it is by
no means the only place within sight of the city where
the fallen patriots of our Southland sleep.
1 have been over the grounds on more than one oc-
casion, searching for the grave of some lost acquaint-
ing, (for soldiers sometimes get lost from their com-
panions in a strange sort of way), and as I noted the
evidences of regard for some of the sleepers that marked
the little wooden head-boards, I could not help but
pause to think and moralize, how some one's friend
Bud dear one rested there. The little rosebuds and other
fl<<ral offerings planted there, indicated, despite all the
wickedness and sin that is in the world, how Love and
160 Under the Stars and Bars
Friendship never die. Occasionally, a small marble
shaft or slab, indicated more of opulence. But the
graves are all well and neatly kept by some careful or
pious hand, even those marked by the word "unknown''
being as tenderly cared for as the rest. This feature,
the "unknown" ones, is, perhaps, the saddest circum-
stance connected with the burial of our dead. It is
lamentable. But though unknown they rest on earth,
their deeds and noble sacrifices will never be forgotten.
A nation's heart will enshrine their dust,
"Till morning's latest sunlight fades
On the blue tablet of the deep."
And armed ghosts shall rise to tell,
They fought for home and freedom well.
Unknown they lie on earth, but they are not, and
can never be, forgotten. Their deeds and self-devotion
to the cause they loved, will endear them to the hearts
of their countrymen, and of posterity, so long as men
love liberty, or have manhood enough to honor the brave.
Will you elude me very much, my friend, if I tell
you what a wicked thing some of us did a few nights
since? You know that rations have got to be out-
rageously light this winter. We have been fourteen
days at a time with nothing at all but corn meal fur-
nished us, and of that but one light pound per day to
the man. And some of the boys declared they could
Under the Stars and Bars 161
stand it no longer. One of them had found out where
a line lot of chickens roosted at night, and as the owner
would not sell a single one, the party was made up.
After roll call at night, six of us set forward, with a
bag or two to hold the game, and one or two rusty fire-
arms for defence. We soon found the place, and while
two stood guard for the rest, we forced the door, and
while one held the bag, a tall fellow among them gath-
ered down the birds, and deposited them safely in the
aforesaid bag. As the family nearby remained quiet,
we did not stop until we had "stripped the roost," and
secured all there were of them, eighteen, including the
ruoster. But we afterwards turned him loose, to crow
for them in the morning.
We got back to camp without mishap, and proceeded
to dress the fowls, and fit them for an early boil the
next day. But during our absence roll call had been
ordered and the whole party was caught and booked for
double duty. But the officers — good, easy men they
are — "scented game," and did not even have the bar-
Suffice it to say, we enjoyed our chicken hugely, and
before the next night there was not a bone of it left.
Even the captain got a nice piece for letting us off
so easily. And we spoke of sending the Colonel a wing,
but did not. Was it all wrong? We own it; we depre-
cate it, and hate to have to resort to it at times. But
when hunger gnaws so fiercely, who can resist the
temptation to appease it when he can? Our double
162 Under the Stars and Bars
duty, we thought, was light enough for the good times
we had, and one comrade declared he wished that we
had taken the rooster, too, since we got along so well.
This incident will show you how pinched we are, quite
often, for something to eat.
But camp life has its pleasant, as well as its repel-
lent features, and, though the soldier, many a time, is
both hungry and sorrily clad, he is ever ready for a
song, and many a lively air, or national ode, is heard
in or about our Camp at the "stilly hour of even," be-
fore the final roll call and tattoo. Several of the boys
sing well. All of them try to sing at times. But I
think Lieutenant Foreman is listened to more than the
rest. Did you ever hear Wallace Foreman sing ? When
lie strikes in on sweet "Annie Laurie" or the "Bonnie
Blue Flag," all the rest stop to listen. But it is when
he is threading his way w T ith a loving heart through
his own "My Maryland," that his soul seems to melt in
tenderness, till his song vibrates and recedes, almost
like harp notes borne away by the evening breeze. He
is tenderest then, for his heart is touched. And then
there are "Dixie," and "Sweet Evelena," and "Stone-
wall Jackson's Way," and half a score more songs that
are favorites with our boys.
But better and sweeter far than these, are the songs
of praise that we often hear from some tent at night,
where the professed followers of Christ have assembled
Under the Stars and Bars 163
for a little time of prayer and thanksgiving, ere they
retire to their humble beds. Then it is that the low
and measured cadence of "Xearer, my God, to thee,"
or ' ; IIow firm a foundation," or "There is a fountain
filled with blood," falls on the ear of the listener with
soothing and hallowing effect. Or else the stirring
notes of "All hail the power of Jesus' name" rings out
through the Camp like a bugle call to battle. And
while the singing goes on, the heart of the lonely senti-
nel on his post is moved, or the soldier reposing quietly
in his tent nearby, sends up a prayer to heaven in
consonance with the song.
And then, when the last hymn has been sung, and
the men all lie down to rest, some one somewhere in
Camp, who has been listening to the songs of praise,
and whose heart feels the holy inspiration of the hour,
strikes up with "Home, sweet home," and as the ten-
derly sweet and heart-stirring solo floats softly out over
the Camp, many a rough soldier, who weeps not for
wounds or blood, dashes a tear from the eye, while his
bosom yearns for one sight more of the dear old home,
bo far away, and of the loved ones he has not seen in
so many lung months, and, perchance, may never see
J wonder do our friends at home sing any now? Are
the songs of Zion ever heard floating out on the matin
or ve-per breeze, down in old Tidewater land ? It is an
ill day for any people, where the songs of praise and
gladness are stilled — when men go about iu silent and
1C4 Under the Stars and Bars
melancholy mood, as if they were afraid some foe
would spring upon them from ambush, and maltreat
them because of their joy?
It is not often that sorrow finds expression in song,
but when it does, the heart-chords vibrate to the sweet-
est and tenderest tones. And this is why the songs
that are sung in times of war, are invariably those that
most stir the heart, and awaken the emotions of thanks-
giving and of patriotism — gratitude to heaven for mer-
cies bestowed, or love of country, home and family.
Did you ever think of this ? Is it not true ? For an-
swer, note the character of the songs you hear the next
month or two.
Your friend, B.
[It has been one purpose of this record to present
a good deal of the life of the soldier in camp, to show
how the men lived and acted when off duty. Another
object has been to give a passing picture of the times,
and tell of things that the younger generations would
never hear about elsewhere. This letter covers a little
space in both of these. Xo one would ever hear of a
chicken raid or double duty, or scarcely of the songs in
camp, save in a work like this. Xor would the "Sol-
diers' Home" or the Confederate Cemetery be so fully
described on the staid and stilted page of history as it
But, above all else, I have tried to give my comrades
a truthful, and, as far as I can, an accurrate account
Under the Stars and Bars 165
of events and scenes, and persons and things, that fell
along our pathway during those four eternal years.
Everything in this letter, therefore, even the chicken-
pulling, is a true picture of things that were, or of
scenes and places.
As to the '"songs in camp," they were an ever-re-
curring attendant of the daily life of the men. There
was no day so dark and gloomy as to silence all attempt
at song on the part of some one ; and the voice of melody
in some form, comic or light, sentimental or merry,
grave or gay, serious or pious, was almost constantly
heard in some part of our Camp, through the day, and
often in the "sma' wee hours" of early morn. There
were a few men whose tongues seemed never still.
Surely my comrades will recall to mind that chattering
magpie of song, that incorrigible jay bird of jest and
banter, that versatile clown of comic verse, Joseph
J\ea — will remember how his tongue was always run-
ning through some merry or jesting stanza, or half
stanza, or song, to the amusement of some and the dis-
gust of others. Joe was the magpie of the Camp, the
general tease of the touchy and the irritable, the uni-
versal clown of the Company. lie was, withal, a good
soldier, too, and did his duty, rain or shine. Alas, that
bis own life should have passed under such a cloud
•luring his last few years subsequent to the war! His
light went out in gloom, with no comrade near to sing
for him the songs of hope or trust.
But as to those better songs, the songs of Zion, that
several of the comrades used to sing so well — who can
166 Under the Stars and Bars
estimate the good they did, in a silent way, as they fell,
almost nightly, upon the ears, and into the hearts, too,
of the other men ? There is power, oftentimes, in the
words and melody of a song to seize upon the heart-
chords, and cause them to vibrate as nothing else can, to
a feeling of sorrow or of hope — sorrow for sin com-
mitted, hope in the pardoning love and mercy of Christ.
And I am personally conscious that the religious songs
in our Camp had an influence for good in the lives of
some of the men, and, I believe, of many." I wished to
say this much for the encouragement of the few sur-
vivors of that singing band. xVlas ! how few there are of
them now on this side of the mystic stream that divides
from the upper Camp.]
Under the Stars and Bars 167
The Butler campaign begun— Battle of Port Walthall— A Con-
federate victory — Losses — Note.
Swift Ckeek, Va.,
May 10, 1S61.
My Dear Friend:— The operations for the summer
have beeii started up for us about Richmond by General
Butler— Benjamin Franklin Butler, of Xew Orleans
f ame — w h has but recently steamed up the James
river with a strong fleet of gunboats and transports, the
latter carrying a land force of 30,000 or 10,000 men,
it is said, all equipped and panoplied for war galore.
His object being the capture of Petersburg, and of the
railroad connecting it with Richmond, and also to
threaten the latter city, he has established his head-
quarters at, or near, Bermuda Hundred, and has already
made two attempts to seize and destroy the railroad.
In consequence of this movement, the S. L. A. re-
ceived orders, on the Gth inst., to proceed rapidly to the
vieinity of Port Walthall. The other Batteries of the
Battalion were held in reserve to meet a threatened
advance in another direction, and did not accompany us.
We did not arrive at the designated point on the
Gth in time to take part in the initial engagement at
Dunn's farm, on the afternoon of that day — an affair
in which a few hundred South Carolinians of General
168 Under the Stars and Bars
Hagood's Brigade, under the command of Colonel Gra-
ham, met and checked Butler's advance to destroy the
On the 7th inst., Butler moved up a much larger
force — five brigades — under General. Brooks, and early
in the afternoon the important battle of Port Walthall
was opened by one of our guns that had been sent for-
ward, and which engaged the enemy near the ground
where the fight of the preceding evening occurred. This
gun, however, was soon forced to retire, the ammunition
chest having been stuck by a shell that exploded among
the cartridges of powder, doing, however, but little ma-
Hereupon, Generals Hagood and Bushrod Johnson
formed their infantry lines along the railroad cut, from
near Craig's house to a point half a mile toward Chester,
the left resting upon a small brook that crosses the
railroad at nearly a right angle. The line was thus
protected by the cut-outs along the road, and held a
comparatively strong position. Our four guns were
stationed at intervals on rising ground some fifty or
more yards to the rear of the infantry line, where we
had an open field and a clear view of the advancing
foe. Altogether, the arangement of our forces, both
the infantry and artillery, was skilfully made, and our
guns had the advantage of elevated ground.
As soon as the enemy's forces emerged from the wood
into the open field on the east of the railroad, our in-
fantry opened upon them, and our guns began to shell
Under the Stars and Bars 169
them vigorously. They advanced in three columns, ex-
tending across the open field, and into the wood on the
north. The first line approached more than half way
across the field, and when it halted was barely three
hundred yards from our line of infantry, posted along
and in the railroad cut.
For two mortal hours, and more, the battle raged
without interval or cessation. Our guns continued to
ply their lines liberally with shot and shell. Still the
enemy held his ground, and seemed determined to force
his way across the road, over our thin line of infantry.
Finding that we held tenaciously to the ground in his
front — for it was, in fact, the key of the situation —
the Federals, without lessening their forces before us,
brought up more troops, and essayed a flank movement
on our extr.eme left. Hastily adjusting his lines to
receive it, General Johnson met the blow with great
vigor, when it recoiled, and the enemy retired before
our shells that were ploughing their way through his
ranks with stunning effect. During this part of the
engagement, the forest through which the Federals had
charged was set on fire by our shells, and the foe, after
caring for their wounded, retired further off, and did
not renew the attack. Some of their killed, however,
having been left in the wood, were burned in a shocking
Upon the failure of their flank movement, and ob-
serving that we still fought them stubbornly in their
front— and partly, no doubt, on account of the fire that
170 Under the Stars and Bars
was raging on their right, the enemy, completely foiled
by a force much inferior to their own, drew off out of
range of our guns.
Thus a force of some 1,500 infantry and a Battery
of four guns only, had succeeded in repulsing an army
of five or six brigades, numbering as many thousand
men, and had held their ground without yielding an
inch. They had saved the railroad from being cut in
two, and had taught the foe the futility of any attempt
to capture Petersburg along this line. The battle, there-
fore, was a decided Confederate victory.
In this engagement, our Company had three men
severely wounded, and one or two slightly. Malory
Shields, of Hampton, was shot through the body, but
walked half a mile to the doctor's tent. And Edward
Wright and Zacheriah Holland, both of Surry, were
dangerously wounded and have been sent to the city
hospital. One gun had its ammunition chest exploded,
but was uninjured otherwise, and the chest was soon
replaced. Colonel Lightfoot, who was with us, and
directed our movements, expresses himself as highly
pleased with the manner in which our men handled
their guns and s,tood up to their posts throughout the
The loss of our infantry, in killed and wounded, was
considerable, but not heavy, being greatest on the ex-
treme left of the line, where the most determined effort
to dislodge them was made. Busfarod Johnson's
Tennesseeans fought splendidly, as did also Hagood's
Under the Stars and Bars 171
Carolinians and Wise's Virginians. The enemy's loss
was great, both in the open field, in front of the centre
of our lines, and where the attempt was made to seize
The stubborn resistance that our 1,500 men had
made against a force of from 5,000 to 6,000, with
plenty of reserves in the rear, served to check the
enemy's advance and delay his movement for that day.
In the meantime re-enforcements were hastening to the
scene. While the battle was going on, a section of
the Washington Artillery was being rushed to our aid,
but did not arrive until late at night. In the mean-
time, though our forces had not yielded an inch of
ground, had repulsed the enemy in his most persistent
effort, and the entire field of battle had been left in our
possession, yet it was deemed proper, after nightfall
and darkness intervened, to cover the movement, to
retire from the railroad to the vicinity of Swift. Creek
Mills, one and a half or two miles distant. Accord-
ingly, our Battery was drawn off. The infantry line was
readjusted to a position nearer the Creek, and details
were made to care for the wounded and bury the dead.
I must not forget to tell you of one rather amusing
incident that occurred during the hottest of the fight
on the 7th. The flagman at the railroad station is a
colored man. The station house was within the line
of battlo, But the old darkey, true to the South, had
retired to his cabin, and, it is said, was engaged earn-
172' Under the Stars and Bars
estly in prayer for the success of our army. But pres-
ently the wicked Federals sent a shell crashing through
his humble domicile, which thoroughly aroused him
from his wrestlings, and he made a precipitate retreat
to the rear, muttering imprecations on the head of the
enemy for treating his house so rudely.
I will tell you of the events of the 8th and 9th in
another letter. Peace and safety be yours.
Your friend, B.
[The battle of Walthall Junction, on the 7th of May,
lSG-i, when we consider the issues involved, was one of
great importance. Had General Butler pushed forward
with energy and celerity, as soon as he had landed at
Bermuda Hundred, there can be no doubt about it but
that he might have taken Petersburg almost without op-
position. On the 6th of 5Iay, the day that he made the
first advance, the only Confederate force between his
army and Petersburg was the small one of 500 or 600
men of General Hagood's command that he encountered
in Dunn's field, less than a mile from the P. & P. rail,
and only five or six miles from the city. A determined
dash of one or two hours, following the turnpike and
the railroad bridges, all of which he would have had
at his command, would have put the head of his army
into the heart of the city.
Or, if General Butler could have known how near the
goddess of fame stood by him that day, ready to crown
him with the laurel wreath of immortality — and if he
Under the Stars and Bars 173
could have turned his eye northward toward Rich-
mond, and beheld how utterly defenceless the city
stood — not 1,000 muskets between his army and Mayo's
bridge, and the distance but twenty miles ; yea, with
his fleet of gunboats to aid him, and with Drewr/s
Bluff eliminated, which his army might have taken
from the rear on the 7th, Richmond might have yielded
to him almost without opposition. He lost time feeling
his way, and by the time he had decided to fight, he
found some one ready to oppose him. While Butler
was delaying, the Confederates were concentrating.
And when our Beauregard arrived on the field, thero
was no hope for Butler.]
174 Under the Stars and Bars
The enemy advancing — Railroad torn up — Fight at Swift Creek —
Trying to turn the flank — Advancing toward Richmond —
Swift Creek, Ya.,
May 12, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — On the night of the 7th, our
troops withdrew from Walthall Junction, retiring to-
ward Swift Creek, and forming a new line across the
turnpike, the centre resting near Squirrel Level church.
Our Battery crossed over the Creek at the turnpike
bridge, and the guns were posted in the works about
two hundred yards beyond the Creek. Here we found
the Washington Artillery, which had just arrived, oc-
cupying that part of the line extending from the turn-
pike to the railroad bridge at Dunlop's house.
On the Sth the enemy advanced again, seized the
railroad, and tore up about one mile of the track, ex-
tending from near Craig's house toward Chester. In
the afternoon the Federals advanced and attacked our
infantry with vigor, and succeeded in forcing them
back. The right of our line was driven back in some
disorder, and these men forded the creek and formed
on the side where the artillery was posted, and to the
left of our Battery.
Under the Stars and Bars 175
The foe, flushed with this small success, now brought
up his artillery and posted it in and near the turnpike,
OU the northern side of the creek. They opened on us
with shell, but the prompt answer and accurate aim of
out guns soon knocked them out of the road, and they
withdrew. Our Battery, aided by the Washington Ar-
tillery, continued to shell the woods in the direction of
the Federals for some time, but as both their artillery
and their army remained silent, we ceased firing and
awaited further developments.
In the engagement of the 8th, a part of Hagood's
and Wise's commands suffered considerably, Sustaining
some loss in killed and quite a number in wounded.
The S. L. A. escaped without a casualty. We were not
under the fire of the Federal infantry in this engage-
Butler's forces employed the next few days in en-
deavoring to find a way around the Confederate left,
and thus get into Petersburg by a more circuitous route
than the one at first attempted. Failing in this, he be-
gan a movement toward Richmond, but was met on the
turnpike a little beyond Chester by the men of the 10th
Virginia Battalion and other forces, and driven back
with loss. Butler now drew his forces off nearer to
the James, evidently deeming it prudent to keep in
proximity to his gunboats. He seemed now to abandon
all furl her effort to advance upon Petersburg, and ap-
pears to have taken up the idea that the proper thing
176 Under the Stars and Bars
for him to do was to capture Drewry's Bluff from the
rear, and advance upon Richmond with both his fleet
The turnpike being now open, and the enemy retiring,
the Confederate forces, now considerably augmented by
arrivals from the South and Tennessee, were thrown
forward, advancing upon the turnpike as far as the
Half Way Station.
"While lying at Swift Creek our Company received
an unusual treat one day in the way of rations. It
came from the ladies — the noble women — of Peters-
burg — God bless them forever ! Somehow they learned
that our supplies had been very short for a long time.
And so they got together and made up a big lot of
nice bread, like that we used to have at home, and
our wagons came in loaded with nice loaf bread, which
was at once duly distributed to the hungry and thank-
ful men. Many a soldier's heart sent up a prayer for
blessings upon the patriotic women who had denied
themselves to serve us.
We are anticipating some serious work in a day or
two. Beauregard is here in command, and as soon as
he takes a survey of the field, something will happen.
Your friend, B.
[The return of the S. L. A. on the 13th, over the
same ground they had passed on the 6th and 7th, gave
Under the Stars and Bars 177
us another opportunity of witnessing the vandalism
that always and everywhere inspired the Federal heart
from the very first of the struggle. The wanton de-
struction of private property was manifest on every
hand. The tearing up of the railroad was, of course,
to have been expected. About one mile of the track
had either been overturned into the ditch or burned
and the rails spoiled. If material, such as fencing, etc.,
was at hand, fires were built upon the track, and the
rails, thus softened and bent out of shape, were ren-
dered of no value. The Northern hordes appear to
have been adepts in the art of destruction. Perhaps
they found this the easiest way to conquer the South.
General Butler himself, quite early in the course of the
war, acquired a somewhat notable reputation, not only
for permitting of vandalism, but for some things of
178 Under the Stars and Bars
A glance at operations elsewhere — Federal cavalry again —
Butler's second advance — Note.
May 13, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — We are now bivouacking in the
woods, almost under the range of Butlers gunboats in
the James. Occasionally the Federals send out a shell
over this way, and the infantry, who are posted in
front of us, welcome it with shouts and laughter.
Sometimes they crash through the tree-tops under
which the infantry are reposing, and the broken limbs
fall down among the men. Butler's force seems to
be threading its way up towards Drewry's BluiT.
Accounts have reached us that Lee is being hard
pressed up at the Wilderness. The enemy is forcing
his way slowly toward Richmond. But, of course, it
is the old story repeated. The Federals number 150,-
000, all well equipped and fed ; the Confederates G0,-
000— less than half.
And the other two Batteries of our Battalion —
Thornton's and Rives's — have had work to do since we
parted from them. It appears that the enemy planned
a series of advances upon the Confederate Capital, and
a force of cavalry under Sheridan have tried their hand
on the defences of Richmond, on the northern side.
Under the Stars and Bars 179
where Dahlgren made his ludicrous failure only two
month ago. But Captain Thornton, with his six fine
Xapoleon guns, and the conscript fathers and others
of the old guard, handled Sheridan's forces so roughly
that he, too, drew off and retired from the scene without
accomplishing anything. Thornton had one man killed
and others wounded.
Butler appears to be about to try his hand once more
in the "on to Richmond" game, and is manifesting
rcstiveness under the close pressure of the Confederate
lines. A new alignment of our forces is being quietly
made to-day, and our Battery has orders to occupy
Fort Stephens, a strong entrenchment near the turn-
pike, only a little beyond the Half Way Station.
Our Battery will not move, however, until darkness
sets in, unless Butler forces a general engagement dur-
ing the afternoon. There are entrenchments back of
us, to which the infantry will move. We have about
0,000 or 7,000 men here now, and our lines extend
from a point near the James at Drewry's Bluff, in a
half moon, around to Proctor's Creek.
A "grape-vine" courier, just arrived, informs us that
our Company Q — poor fellows — over at the old quar-
ters — Camy) Scherinerhorn — are nearly starved. They
have no rations and no one in command there to draw
for them, our Milton Gray being with us here. More
than all, some of Q got an awful scare on the morning
180 Under tJie Stars and Bars
of the 8th, when Sheridan was trying to ride into
Richmond, over Thornton's Battery and the rest of
them. The fight took place but a mile or so away from
our late winter quarters, and some of their shells fell
out as far as our Camp. Of course, this did not please
Q, and they became alarmed for their safety.
Nearly all the citizens here in Chesterfield, whose
homes are within the enemy's lines, have been obliged
to move away. They report that they cannot endure
the robbery and abuse to which they are subject. Every-
thing they have in the way of provisions, and most of
their stock and poultry, has been taken from them,
and, in some cases, their furniture and beds broken
up and destroyed before their eyes. Scores of women
and children are thus rendered homeless and foodless.
Ah, War ! how bitter art thou, in thy heartless, merci-
less dealings with the children of men! The young
and the strong may defy thy cruel blows ; but the weak
and the helpless, who will relieve their distress ? Well
may you, my friend, be grateful indeed that your home
has not fallen within the lines of the invading army.
But it is nearly time to cook our ash-pone, and then,
when darkness falls, another position. Hay the guar-
dian angels keep us all, and may to-morrow's battle
go softly with the S. L. A.
Your friend, B.
[The change of lines was made by the Confederate
forces in this part of the field, as forecasted in this
Under the Stars and Bars 181
letter, not because of any felt weakness or apprehension
of defeat, but to secure a better and stronger position
for defence. On the new line there were earthworks
for the infantry and redoubts for artillery, and better
ground to fight upon. But the Federals seemed to in-
terpret the change as an evidence of weakness, and they
responded quickly to it, and followed with a stronger
force. Before morning on the 14th, their lines were
well up to our own, and as soon as daylight opened
fairly, their skirmish force was making it warm for us
all along the lines.
But our Battery already occupied the works at Fort
Stephens, and our own skirmishers were in advance,
face to face with the enemy. xVnd both Thornton's and
Rives's Batteries had rejoined us during the night, and
they also held positions in the works. I think, when
all of our 16 guns opened upon the enemy, they must
have understood that our artillery had been re-enforced
and that a charge upon the works, to carry them by
storm, would result in fearful loss among their men.
It ma} T have been this circumstance, more than any
other, that deterred Butler from risking a general en-
gagement on the 1-ith.
But, to offset the 16 guns of Lightfoot's Battalion,
none of them heavier than 14-pounders, Butler sent up
a fine battery of 24-pound Parrott guns, which took a
position in the turnpike, only 300 yards from our
position in the Fort, and within easy range of the in-
fantry on our right. This artillery, a Rhode Island
182 Under the Stars and Bars
battery, did fine work on the 14th, the men standing
to their posts and handling their pieces with celerity
and accuracy. But it must have been at a fearful sac-
rifice of blood. They were posted too near to the Con-
federate infantry, whose sharp-shooters picked oif the
cannoneers at a rapid rate. This battery was aban-
doned that night and fell into our hands. The S. L. A.
passed two clays, the 14th and 15th, in Fort Stephens,
and were under fire continually, as long as daylight
held, on both days. The next letter will tell of the
Under the Stars and Bars 183
Two days under fire — Conduct of the inen — Casualties and inci-
dents — Note.
May 11, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — The morning cf the 14th of May
dawned clear and bright, and skirmishing began be-
tween the advanced lines ere it was fully light. As we
occupied an angle or corner of the Fort, only one side
of which fronted toward the enemy's line, two guns
only could be used upon them. Soon, however, the
Federals brought up a battery of four Parrot t guns,
which they stationed on the turnpike to our right, at a
distance of some 300 yards from us, and this battery
began to shell us rapidly. This gave the other guns
something to do, and they at once engaged with the
About the time this battery began to salute us so
rapidly, the Federal infantry in our front began a
vigorous assault, forced back our line of skirmishers,
and appeared as if they were about to charge our works.
But we played upon their lines persistently and with
effect, with the two guns that could be brought to bear
in that direction, our infantry at the same time re-
doubling their fire, and the enemy did not advance
184 Under the Stars and Bars
More infantry coming up to our aid, and taking posi-
tion along the line of works to our left, extending in
the direction of Drewry's Bluff, toward which point
the Federal right seemed to be working its way, the
firing became general and rapid all along the lines, both
left and right, and held steadily without intermission
for more than two hours. In fact, a general engage-
ment with both musketry and artillery had begun,
which continued, with more or less vigor, through the
remainder of the day.
Neither army, however, manifested any disposition
either to advance or retire. It was a case of stand and
fire, each endeavoring to cripple the other the most, and
gain, if he could, some advantage here or there. The
enemy's one battery was handled with rapidity and
accuracy, and they sent us quite a number of dangerous
missiles, that exploded very near to our guns and did
The limber-chest — ammunition box — of gun Xo. 4
was struck and exploded by one of their ugly shells,
and Sergeant G. M. Ilargrave and ten or twelve men
were either wounded or badly stunned. The boys did
not stop their work, however, but continued to hurl
their 12-pound Xapoleon shells at them as fast as they
could. Another limber was brought up promptly with
more ammunition, and Xo. 4 worked on as if nothing
had happened to them.
Another of their Parrott shells exploded upon the
muzzle of gun Xo. 3, scarring it considerably, but do-
Under the Stars and Bars 185
ing no further injury to the gun. A fragment, however,
of the same shell struck the arm of the cannoneer
standing by the gun— James Pond, a youth, of South-
ampton county — and nearly severed the limb from the
body. With remarkable presence of mind and cool-
ness for one so young, Pond grasped the broken stump
above the wound, to check the bleeding, and walked a
mile to receive surgical attention.
Lieutenant J. W. Whitley received a painful musket
wound in the shoulder, and retired. Private Benton D.
Thomas likewise received a painful, but not dangerous,
wound from a minnie ball. Several other men, six or
eight, were slightly hurt during the day, but all refused
to withdraw. All the men acted well, and some of
them distinguished themselves in one way or another
for coolness or efficiency.
Sergeant B. T. Bell handled his gun— Xo. 1, Xa-
poleon— so well, and his manner was so calm and self-
poised, that he drew upon himself the notice of General
Johnson Hagood, who came into the Fort while the
hottest of the .firing was going on. Altogether, the
casualties of the first day were 21 or 22 wounded, most
of them but slightly. Four, however, had received pain-
ful, not to say dangerous, wounds, and these were sent
on to the hospital in Eichmond.
At nightfall all hands were set to work filling bags
Avith sand, to raise and strengthen the works, and pre-
pare for the sterner fight that was expected on the mor-
row. This clone, beside the shotted guns, that had
186 Under the Stars and Bars
barely yet cooled to their normal temperature, the can-
noneers, each wrapped in his well-worn blanket, laid
them down to seek rest and sleep, for nature was well-
nigh exhausted, and the men greatly needed repose and
recuperation. The physical and mental strain had been
great. Twelve hours under continued fire is enough to
test the endurance of the strongest and hardiest of men.
During the night, however, the Federal commander
made a new disposition of forces, drawing off some of
his infantry from our immediate front, and concen-
trating it nearer to Drewry's Bluff, and the battery
that had annoyed us so much during the day, as it
could not be carried off, was abandoned and fell into
our hands. On the 15th, contrary to what we had an-
ticipated the enemy, on our part of the lines, made but
a feeble fight. They kept us engaged, however, all
day, but put forth their strongest effort on the extreme
right of the Confederate line, some six or eight miles
away, and where our lines were at first forced back,
but subsequently recovered and held their ground.
The 15th passed without any casualties worthy of
note. The guns were fired leisurely, and the men rested
under cover of the works, and talked of their experi-
ences of the previous day. General Beauregard came
into the Fort during the day. We were all glad to see
him here, for we have confidence in his ability to con-
duct the fighting successfully.
At night we were drawn out of Fort Stephens, greatly
to the satisfaction of most of the men, no doubt, and
Under the Stars and Bars 187
the entire Battalion was moved down the left of the
line?, where Beauregard was massing his forces, pre-
paratory to the intended attack of the next day. As
the men had lost sleep the preceding three nights, they
slept well on the 15th. It was not their habit to borrow
trouble, by reflecting that it might be the last night on
earth for some of them. We all knew of the intended
work of the morrow, but we rested well, expecting to
be called at an early hour.
Your friend, B.
[The first day's engagement at Fort Stephens, the
14th of May, was not as heavy a fight, altogether, as
was the battle at Walthall Junction on the 7th. Yet,
on account of its .continuance through the day, almost
without lull or intermission, it tested the endurance of
the men even more severely than the fight of the 7 th.
That continued only about three hours ; this of the 14th
twelve hours. The losses were about the same on both
occasions. On the 7th we had an ammunition box
exploded by a shell, and on the 14th the same casualty
occurred again. Of the three men severely wounded
on the 7th, two of them, Zacheriah Holland and W. E.
Wright, subsequently died in hospital. Of the three
badly injured on the 14th, one, namely, James Pond,
though he had recovered from his wound, and was ex-
pecting, in a short time, to receive an honorable dis-
charge from service, contracted pneumonia and died
in the hospital sometime in June, 1S64. His body
rests in Oakwood Cemetery.]
188 Under the Stars and Bars
The battle of Drewry's Bluff — Charge of Terry's and Grade's
men — Prisoners — Note.
May 18, 1861.
My Dear Friend: — By early dawn, on .Monday morn-
ing, May 16th, the Confederate army was in motion,
prepared for the work of the day. The atmosphere
was cool and bracing, but a dense fog prevailed, hiding
everything from view fifty yards away. This circum-
stance greatly favored the advance, and enabled the
Confederate infantry to approach very near the enemy's
lines before they were observed. The charge was made
on our extreme left, near the James river, and but a
little way from Drewry's Bluff.
Our infantry struck the Federals just as they were
preparing their morning meal, and so sudden and fierce
was the onset, that they quickly gave way, and soon
our men had them in full retreat. Just as the Federal
line had been rolled back by the infantry, Colonel
Lightfoot's Artillery Battalion of 16 guns was thrown
in on the same ground over which the infantry had just
charged, and the guns were speedily unlimbered and
brought into action on the retreating Federals.
Very soon, however, on account of the doubling up
of a part of the enemy's line by the charging column.
Under the Stars and Bars 189
and partly because of the dense fog, and the rapid
change in the position of our own forces, our guns had
to cease firing and move forward to another position,
where we could fire over the heads of the advancing
Here we were on the ground where General Heck-
man's brigade and other forces, numbering 800 or 900
men, had just yielded to the fiery onset of the Con-
federate infantry that was first thrown upon the Federal
column. The ground, for some distance around, was
literally piled with muskets.
This splendid charge on the extreme left of our line
was made by Terry's Virginians and Grade's Ala-
bamians, and it won the day for the Confederate side.
So fierce had been the onset here, and so severe was the
fire of Lightfoot's artillery, that the Federal columns
continued to fall back rapidly for miles, not pausing
until they had placed themselves well under the protec-
tion of their gunboats in the James.
The result of the battle was. a complete defeat for
Butler's army. It retreated in disorder, not to say con-
fusion; and I hear that, but for the failure of one of
our generals to carry out the orders given him by Gen-
eral Beauregard, the larger part, at least, of the Fed-
eral army would have been captured. This is unfor-
tunate, but such slips will take place.
At one time during the early morning, our Battery
had advanced within one hundred yards of the Federal
line, with no infantry support near us. It was a critical
190 Under the Stars and Bars
place for artillery. But our liberal employment of
shell and canister doubtless deterred them from doubling
back upon us.
During the hour in which the battle lasted on our
part of the line, we had several men wounded, most of
them but slightly hurt, but one or two severely. John
L. Seward, a driver, was slightly hurt in the leg, while
limbering up to advance. Julian II. Judkins was shot
in the body. And Julian Stewart, a cannoneer, was
wounded in the foot, receiving a complicated and dan-
gerous hurt that kept him in hospital a long time.
The loss in killed and severely wounded men, of both
armies, was heavy for so short an engagement. Dead
or disabled men lay on the field in every direction, a
large portion of them being Confederates. Of course,
most of the wounded Federals made their way back to
their own hospitals. The ambulance corps was engaged
several hours in removing the wounded men. The doc-
tors were out upon the field, attending to the desperate
The battle of the lGth of May, both in the numbers
engaged on both sides, in the casualties occurring, in
the issues involved, and in the direct results, ranks as
a very important affair. It was a decided Confederate
victory, and it insures the safety of Richmond on this
side, and also of Petersburg, for some time to come, at
least. We congratulate ourselves that Lightfoot's Ar-
tillery contributed largely toward this splendid result.
The men all stood up to their work bravely, in face of
Under the Stars and Bars 191
the leaden hail that hurtled around them, working their
guns with rapidity and good effect. It seems almost
like a special providence that so few of us were struck
by the enemy's bullets. Let us thank God and take
Pray for our cause, and for us.
Your friend, B.
[The battle of May 16th, ended the so-called Butler
campaign of 1SG4 in Virginia. The contest had been
short and severe. It lasted but ten days — May 6th-16th —
and during that time Butler had fought six engage-
ments, three of them being pitched battles, in none of
which was he successful, and two of which — Walthall
Junction and Drewry's Bluff — were acknowledged de-
feats. After the battle of the ICth of May, Butler drew
in his lines to a very small area of Chesterfield county,
with his headquarters at Bermuda Hundred, his left
resting on the Appomattox at Point of Rocks, his right
on the James nearly opposite to Curie's Xeck farm.
The Confederate line confronting his forces was drawn
closely up. and. the men lost no time in digging en-
trenchmonts*, so that when General Lee's army reached
the vicinity two w r eeks later, the men found works al-
ready constructed, for them to occupy. Butlers golden
opportunity for winning fame as one of the dis-
tinguished military chieftains of the age, had passed
away forever, and the future historian will have to
rank him as one of the incompetents.
192 Under the Stars and Bars
Only one thing had Butler done that he was sent to
do. He had indeed reached the P. & R. rail, and had
torn up and destroyed about one mile of the track. But
he had neither captured the city of Petersburg, which
he might easily have done on the 6th or 7 th inst., or
imperiled the safety of Richmond, which lay in his
power, if he had promptly assaulted the works at
Drewry's Bluff, from both the land and river at the
With 30,000 men — some say 40,000 — with his base
upon a river, and a fleet to aid him, he allowed a force
of 6,000 or 7,000, hastily called together, to defeat him
in every engagement, and force him back into a state
of harmless inertia, a condition of innocuous desuetude.
To this result, the men of the S. L. A. congratulate
themselves that they rendered very important and
material aid. To this end they contributed freely of
their toil and blood.
In connection with the account of the battle of the
16th of May, 1864, I take pleasure in laying before my
comrades a page from the, as yet, unpublished "Rem-
iniscences" of a gentleman of Floyd county, an ex-Con-
federate, who was a member of Kemper's Brigade, and
an eye-witness and participant in the fight. It is from
the pen of Mr. W. II. Morgan, of Floyd. The 11th
and 24th Virginia infantry, of Kemper's Brigade, took
the place of two of Grade's regiments that had fallen
back in the charge upon Heckman's forces. These two
regiments (the Virginians ) suffered severely. It was,
says Mr, Morgan, "a hot time." Here is the extract:
Under the Stars and Bars 193
"On the right of Grade's Brigade, Hankins' Battery
of Surry county was taking position. Xo unnecessary
noise was made, no one spoke unless giving orders, and
then in low tones. The artillery moved into position
slowly, and with as little noise as possible. I remember
well the cluck of the iron axles as the guns moved
slowly into position as quietly as a funeral procession.
When all was ready, and while it was yet quite dark,
the Alabamians moved forward up the hill, the artillery
keeping pace with them, firing by sections, each section
moving forward after firing.
"Pretty soon the Yankee pickets opened fire on the
advancing column, which is returned, the column mov-
ing on the while, driving the pickets from their rifle
pits near the top of the hill. The artillery halted on
the top of the hill, still firing away in the darkness
beyond, throwing shot and shell into the woods in front
where the enemy is supposed to be. It was a grand
spectacle that dark morning, the firing of the battery
by sections as it advanced, the roar of the guns, the
flames of fire bursting forth in the darkness,^ though
rather awe-inspiring at the time, yet grand neverthe-
less. I shall never forget the scene."
It was about this time in the progress of the battle
that Kemper's Brigade charged dowoi the hill and as-
sisted in doubling in upon the enemy, and capturing a
large number of prisoners. The Federal breastworks
were soon in possession of our infantry, and the retreat
of the enemy so precipitate as speedily to put them out
of the range of our guns.]
194 Under the Stars and Bars
Our losses — Company Q ordered to report — Watching the enemy —
Spring's lush sweetness — More vandalism — Verses — Note.
May 20, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — Our loss in wounded men since
the 7th inst. counts up about 24, of whom one-third
were severely hurt and sent to the hospital, the re-
mainder too slightly injured to require surgical atten-
tion, and did not leave camp. We have several men on
the sick list, however, and these, too, have been sent
into town, so that our number of effective men is re-
duced to a low figure.
In consequence of this depletion of our ranks, orders
have been sent up to the old camp — our winter quar-
ters — for all of Company Q to report for duty at once.
Poor fellows ! they have missed all the fun we have had
and now must come and take whatever honors they can
get. But we will put them in the front rank in the next
We are now in temporary bivouac, a mile from the
James, watching the enemy and resting from the labors,
fatigues and battles of the past two weeks. General
Grade's Alabamians are in line in front of us, with
Butler penned up on a narrow margin of land along
Under the Stars and JBars 195
the river, where he lies under the cover and security
of his war-boats — and the Capital of the Confederacy
is still safe.
The forests are fast putting on their lush, green garni-
ture of leaves, and fragrant buds and lovely flowers are
smiling all around us, in marked contrast to the scenes
we have lately beheld. Thousands of little bluets
(lloustonia) cover the ground here all around us, and
the wild violets and yellow cinguefoil are here in
"The vernal sunbeams pour around
A fairy light, uncertain, pale;
The wind blows cool; the scented ground
Is yielding odors on the gale."
While we were pushing Butler's army back, on the
ICth, to its present position, we had abundant oppor-
tunity again to witness more of that peculiar penchant
for despoiling and wasting private property, that has
characterized the Federal armies from the very outset
of this war. Furniture broken up, feather beds carried
out into the fields, the ticking ripped open and the
feathers scattered abroad — books and pictures torn and
thrown around the yards — the poultry and stock killed —
vehicles broken and rendered worthless — doors and
windows broken — fences burned — crops destroyed. In
one case I saw a piano left out in the barn. In anothpr
a fine painting of Patrick Henry thrust through with
196 Under the Stars and Bars
Such is the vandal spirit of our foe. It is bar-
barism, savage ferocity, brutal cruelty. If these hordes
could fight as well as they destroy, they would soon
conquer us. Butler's men are no worse than the rest.
Sheridan has an inkling that way. They all try to
subdue us by pauperizing our people.
Permit me to give you here a specimen of soldier-
boy verse, inspired by the scenes and surroundings in
our camp, on the night of the 16th of May — the night
following the battle near Drewry's Bluff:
Along the Lines by Old Bermuda.
Night, May 16, 1864.
Along the lines by old Bermuda,
The Southern army lay —
And men to men were sadly telling
How wrath had ruled the day —
And comrades true had bravely fallen
Amidst the battle dread,
Ere back the foe, dismayed and broken,
Before our charge had fled.
The stars of night were gently smiling
In sweet compassion down —
And filmy clouds, like folded mantles,
Now pines and willows crown ;
And down beneath the shelt'ring forest
Each weary soldier laid —
Around him drew his thin-worn blanket,
And rest and dreams essayed.
Under the Stars and Bars 19 Y
But, hark! as speed the hooded hours,
Where Butler holds the dell,
Rude guns disturb the midnight silence
With spurt of flame and shell;
Like phrensied fiends, to wrath on-rushing,
They crash athwart the pines —
First hiss and blaze and hurtle fiercely,
Then burst above our lines.
Yet little recks the sleeping soldier
For hurtling shell, or foe,
In dreams his willing feet are turning
The halls of Long Ago —
The school, the home, the gentle mother,
Bise up before his gaze —
And now he meets a coy, fair maiden,
His friend of other days.
'Tis sweet to dream, when dreams are joyful,
Though dangers lower, the while;
'Tis bliss to trace the pathway backward,
Where scenes of childhood smile;
0, might such dreams forever linger!
O, might the moments stay!
Why turn the stars so quickly westward?
Why come3 so soon the day?
All! blissful dreams are soonest scattered —
The fairest rose soon dies —
When hearts would fain dream on forever,
Storms first disturb the skies;
Sharp through the camp calls loud the bugle —
The friendly night hath sped —
The soldier's sleep in rudely broken,
His happy dreams are fled!
The Battery is ordered to another point, and we
march in an hour. Good-by.
Your friend, B.
198 Under the Stars and Bars
[The Federal gunboats, having been strangely silent
throughout the whole of the day of the 16th, though
they might have annoyed our army very much, after
nightfall, kept up a constant shelling of the woods and
fields, where they supposed the Confederate lines to be
drawn, and, at times, their missiles became trouble-
some to the men. It is not pleasant to have a blazing
shell crashing through the tree-tops over one's head, and
broken limbs falling down, when one is trying to sleep
at night. But these were literal realities on this occa-
sion. Such are some of the minor dangers of war. Yet
men will throw themselves down anywhere and sleep
soundly, amidst such surroundings. The verses in the
above letter were inspired by having been an eye-witness
to these scenes, on the lines before Bermuda, on the
night of May 10, 1S64.
While Butler had been trying to find a way into Rich-
mond and had failed, Grant had been pegging away
against Lee to the same end, and he, too, had failed.
But the great 'and bloody battles of the Wilderness,
Spotsylvania, Xorth Anna and others, had been fought,
and Grant was slowly mining his way nearer and nearer
to the Confederate Capital. His army was approaching
the vicinity of Richmond on the northeast, and we had
orders to cross over to the northern side of the James.
We then began a series of marches and counter-marches,
crossing the James at the pontoon bridge, a little above
Drewrv's Bluff, several times within ten or twelve days.
We camped or bivouacked here and there and anywhere,
Under the Stars and Bars 199
sometimes two or three miles from the river, or from
other troops, and sometimes under the range of the big
shells from the gunboats. After the defeat of Butler's
land forces, his war-boats became busy, both day and
night, in shelling the country on both sides of the river,
as far out as their missiles could reach. They wasted a
big lot of ammunition to no purpose, for I never heard
or saw of the least damage that any of their shells did
anywhere. After the second battle of Cold Harbor,
Lightfoot's Battalion was, of course, thrown in Lee's
army, and we remained permanently on the north side
of the James, and with the left wing of the army during
the remainder of the war. But of the battle of Cold
PI arbor, and our near approach to an encounter with
some of Grant's army, see the next letter.]
200 Under the Stars and Bars
On the march — Condition of the horses — Drewry's Bluff hill —
Battle of Cold Harbor — Grant crossing the Chickahominy —
Bottom's Bridge, Va.,
June 14, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — Since my last letter, three weeks
ago, we have been on the march nearly all the time, on
picket or in bivouac at seven or eight points — all places
without name or inhabitant. Generally, we have been
in close proximity to the enemy, but have exchanged
no shots with them. Their gunboats, however, are con-
stantly shelling the country right and left, night and
day, and their big explosives oblige us sometimes to
move further off.
Since the 6th of May, the Battery horses have been
worked so hard, and the supply of forage often short,
that the poor creatures are now low in flesh. Besides,
in the several engagements, we have lost a number, so
that we have not now the usual complement of six
horses to a gun, the supply being reduced to four to
some of them. It is necessary at times, therefore, for
the cannoneers to have to spring to the wheels, and help
the cannon out of a mudhole or up a steep hill.
Now, Drewry's Bluff hill, the one leading down to
the pontoon from the Fort, is one of the steepest and
Under the Stars and Bars 201
hardest pulls the horses have had to encounter any-
where. And as we have been over it a good many times
recently, and sometimes in rain, which makes the con-
dition of the hill worse, the horses have had a hard
time making their way up, with all the help the can-
noneers could give them. And, of course, there are
some men who complain heavily at having to help the
horses. Some of them say, if the Government is going
to make horses of them, they want a set of harness. I
think the cannoneers will never quite forget that hill at
old Drewry's Bluff, and the hard labor they have had
there, pushing at the wheels to help the horses along,
the wheels, in the meantime, encased in mud, and the
clay of the hill made soap-like and slippery from rain.
There is danger in it to the men, as well as hard and
The fortification of Drewry's Bluff is built upon the
aforesaid high hill, the highest point of land, I suppose,
on the banks of the James river anywhere below Rich-
mond. The hill towers up high over the channel of the
river, which here runs very near inshore, and it forms
an admirable place for a strong defensive work. The
old Galena and the rest of the Federal fleet found it
too strong for them, in Mav, 1862, and the best iron-
clads that Butler has here now do not meddle much
with the place. It is a strong defensive work, and the
gate to the Capital of the Confederacy by water.
Grant, with his grand army of 150,000, all amply
equipped for offensive warfare, has been trying his
202 Under the Stars and Bars
highest skill, and best strategic art, to overpower or out-
general "ATarse" Bob, from the 6th of May to the
present, but about all he has been able to do so far, has
been to execute a series of wonderful en echelons by
the left flank — by the left flank from the wilderness to
Cold Harbor and the muddy Chickahominy. A series
of battles as terrible as any that have been fought dur-
ing the progress of this war have occurred, and, with
all his trying to pass Lee's flank, Lee keeps up with him,
and his army is still between Grant and Richmond.
The last great battle was that of Cold Harbor, in
which it is reported that the Federal army sustained an
overwhelming defeat. All day long the noise of the
battle — the roll of musketry and the booming of can-
non — was plainly heard at our camp, and we were in
constant expectation of orders to proceed in that direc-
tion. Since then Grant's army has apparently been
taking a rest. But it is thought that Grant is about to
change his base of operations, either to the York or to
the James. Every crossing-place on the Chickahominy
is being guarded by our forces, and Lightfoot's Bat-
talion is scattered, by company or by section, at several
points. Our Battery is now at Bottom's Bridge,
thought to be the lowest fordable place on the upper or
swamp-land portion of the river. There is one more
crossing-place below us, between this point and Windsor
Shade, at the head of tidewater navigation on this river.
It is known as the Long Bridge, only no bridge is there
Under the Stars and Bars 203
There is a Federal picket on the other side, in front
of us here, but they keep very quiet. It is said that
Sheridan's cavalry is over there, too. Wade Hampton's
cavalry is just, above us at the railroad crossing and
above that. But all the troops are constantly changing
positions. A report has just come up that Grant is
crossing the Chickahominy at the Long Bridge. If so,
it is strange no fighting has been going on down
This point is fifteen or eighteen miles from the city,
the battlefield of Seven Pines lying between us and
town. While all the cannoneers are required to stay
near by the guns, the drivers are employed most of the
time each day in hunting around to find grazing for the
horses. General Lee has just passed us here.
May heaven defend you and us.
Your friend, B.
[Grant's "change of base," after the battle of Cold
II arbor, to the James river, with City Point as his head-
quarters, and the cities of Petersburg and Richmond as
Ins objective points, of course, united General Lee's
army and the forces that had been located about the two
cities during the summers of 'G2 and 'G3, and up to
the present time in '6-i, under one command. All be-
came parts of Lee's army from this time on to the
close of the war.
Our command, including the whole of Colonel Lighi-
foot'a Artillery, remained north of the James constantly
204 Under the Stars and Bars
after this, and shortly after this letter was written, the
Battalion was ordered into camp within the inner linns
near the city, where we remained until going into winter
The next letter will relate principally to the events
of two or three weeks spent in ]STew Kent county, doing i'
picket service on' the extreme left.]
Under the Stars and Bars 205
Picketing in New Kent — Unburied dead — A battle-scarred coun-
try — Corn bread only — Note.
New Kent, Va.,
June 30, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — Since my last letter to you., and
since Grant's army has left these parts and crossed
over to the James, we have been on picket duty over
here in New Kent county, which, you know, lies be-
tween the Chickahominy and the Pamimkey rivers.
We are distant from Richmond about twenty-five miles,
and directly cast from the city. We forded the Chicka-
hominy at the railroad crossing, first laying a corduroy
of poles to prevent the horses and guns from sinking
into the rand. There are no Federals hereabouts now, as
many thousands as were here a week ago. All have
crossed over to'the James.
No, I mistake; there are quite a number of Federals
here around yet. But they are dead Federals. Or,
rather, the most of them are negroes that had joined
the Federal army, and were lighting against their
former masters. And they are unburied negroes. They
were some of Sheridan's lawless gang, and were killed
in a cavalry engagement between Wade Hampton and
Sheridan, that occurred about ten days ago. They have
been left unburied, and scores of them are lying here,
206 Under the Stars and Bars
festering and rotting under the rays of the hot sum-
mer's sun. It is a sickening sight. But there are no
inhabitants, or, but very few, to be inconvenienced or
endangered by the terrible stench, and so, as I suppose,
they will lie and rot, and their bones will bleach here
beneath the dews and suns of summer, even until "this
cruel war," this heartless strife, is finally ended. Alas !
the poor negro ! how very little does the Federal army
or the Northern people really care for him! In the
army, they put him in the front rank, to be hewed down
like sheep ! — or they set him to work to dig trenches for
the white soldiers to shelter under. We have several
negro cooks, and I think the sight of their dead
brethren here has opened their eyes a little.
This, indeed, and in very truth, is 'a battle-scarred
country. Made desolate in the beginning of the war
by the tread and the hate of two hundred thousand
armed invaders, it has remained so, and will so continue,
until Peace and Industry once more arise to cover it
with the healing mantle of prosperity and repose. We
all, my friend, have abundant cause to be thankful, yea,
doubly thankful, that an invading host has not swept
through Surry and Isle of Wight, with its besom of
woe and destruction, as it has here in these counties on
the east of Richmond, and on down to the bay and the
sea. Could you witness the ruin that has been wrought
wherever a Federal army has been, your heart, I know,
would swell with gratitude that your section had
Under the Stars and Bars 207
My heart goes out in sympathy and pity to the
women and children and old men of New Kent and
Charles City, and the other counties over here, who are
forced refugees from their lands and once pleasant
homes. But the ashes of a terrible desolation mark
Do you suppose that the old soldiers of the South can
ever forget these things? — that the picture of these
blackened ruins will ever pass entirely from their
But there is another matter that is troubling us now —
that of food, something to eat. Rations are fearfully
short and have been for sometime. The men have no
money, and if they had any, there is nothing in this
part of the State to buy. There are no crops, no gar-
dens, nothing of anything like vegetables, fruit, fowls,
or eggs. It is a barren country. And since the arrival
of Lee's army, which has to be rationed from the two
cities, it seems that our commissary department is en-
tirely unable to furnish anything like the proper amount
of bread and meat to feed us. It has been three weeks
since our Command — the Battalion — tasted meat. And
flour we have not had in sometime. It is only corn
meal now, a short pound per day to each man, and
this Las been our sole fare for more than two weeks.
Corn-pone only, made into dough with all the husk
and litter it may contain, three times a day! No; not
208 Under the Stars and Bars
three times. There is never enough of it for three
meals a day, and many a time the men will cook the
whole day's ration and eat it all at one time ! Yea, and
do not have enough then. These are literal facts.
It well-nigh makes our good-natured Commissary
Sergeant weep to go to town for rations and have to
return with nothing for the men but just plain corn
meal. They say it is the best they can do for us now.
But they could hardly do much worse.
Picture to yourself, if you can, a company of sol-
diers, all seated around in small groups, each group
constituting a ''mess," and all munching away upon
corn bread only — nothing but corn bread to eat. It
may be, there is some show at hilarity and mirth, for
it is a dark day indeed in camp, if some soldier cannot
evoke mirth out of something. But there is apparent
an undercurrent of unrest, of dissatisfaction, of some
want or desire unsupplied, which, if not expressed in
words, is manifest in the faces and manner of the men.
They cannot help it. Hunger will tell. And while
bread alone will appease the appetite for a time, it will
not continue to do so indefinitely. But we have passed
through such dearths before, and fondly hope this one
is nearly over.
Besides,. we have orders to return at once to Bottom's
Bridge, and we like that much better than staying here.
All is quiet about here. Xo Federals are near us any-
where that we can hear of. They have left the mud and
mosquitoes of the Chickahominv for the broader James
Under the Stars and Bars 209
and the turgid Appomattox. And Petersburg is to be
now the storm-centre of the war in Virginia. May the
cloud soon recede, spanned by the rainbow of peace.
Your friend, B.
[The period of three or four weeks covering the
transition of General Lee's army from Cold Harbor to
the lines before Petersburg, may, very properly, be
called "the starving time" of the army. It was a time
of scarcity that was felt everywhere by all the people,
out of the army as well as in it. The time had passed
by when the men were receiving boxes from home. For-
tunately, through the great exertions of the provision
department of the army, better and more liberal sup-
plies were shortly afterward obtained and continued
even up to near the close. At no time afterward were
we obliged to subsist for so long a time on nothing to
eat but corn bread. And generally we had beef. As
the fall and winter of '64 approached and the tax-in-
kind began to be collected, the supplies furnished the
army became more liberal and in greater variety. It
is wonderful how the supplies department managed
to do as well as it did.]
210 Under the Stars and Bars
Return to the city — Our summer camp — View of the city — Rich-
mond the Mecca of the South — Often on picket — Note.
Aug. 15, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — Well, we are back here again, in
view of the dear old city. Our camp is in a large and
beautiful oak grove, on the northeastern environs of the
town, and quite near the Confederate cemetery of Oak-
wood. The three Batteries are all camped together.
The ground is dry and smooth, with ample shade, and
wood enough for cooking purposes. It is a very pleasant
place, either for a summer or a winter camp. We are
near the inner line of defences, and convenient to the
roads leading to the outer defences. The Battalion
has roll calls and drills at the same hour, and the Bat-
talion bugler — a negro — sounds the calls for all the
There meanders near us a fine, rocky stream, which
affords a good watering place for the horses. And
there is a grist-mill nearby, and a small pond, which,
being in a retired nook, presents a capital bathing place
for the men. Altogether, we are admirably located for
personal comfort, if only they will let us remain here.
The view of the city from our camp, while partly
obstructed by intervening groves and timber, is exten-
Under the Stars and Bars 211
sive and beautiful. There is also some fine scenery on
the eastern and northeastern outskirts, and the farther-
off rural prospects. The more I see of the city, the
more I am convinced what a grand metropolis our
Xational Capital is. It is a queenly city.
And this is the Capital of the Southern Confederacy.
This the city for which so much noble blood has been
shed, so many brave lives sacrificed, to defend it from
the despoiling and desecrating hand of a vandal foe. It
is the devoted Capital against whose walls have been
dashing and leaping the angry waves of war for four
terrible years. It is the place where Southern heroism
and devotion, from whatever State it might come,
whether from far-off Texas, the pearl of the Southwest,
or nearby Maryland, the queen of the Chesapeake —
from the land of the Eio Grande or the soil of the Po-
tomac; it is the centre where Southern patriotism has
congregated, to lay its richest treasures, and test its most
sacred honor and fidelity to the principles it believes
to be true.
"Where the noisy James, with ceaseless song,
Leaps o'er its jagged falls,
A nation's strength and bravery throng,
To guard her sacred walls."
Richmond is the Mecca of the South; the sacred
tomb where so many hundreds of her heroes sleep.
Here around, on a hundred battlefields, they rest from
their toils — in a hundred wayside cemeteries they here
212 Under the Stars and Bars
repose in peace — here in Hollywod and Oakwood they
lie — all guarding still the hallowed halls and conse-
crated fanes of this politically holy ground. !N"o matter
what the final result of this war may be, for every true
Southern heart this noble city must ever possess an
interest and attraction superior to any other place in
the Southern Confederacy. Here the men of every
Southern State have fought side by side, and seen their
comrades fall and die. Here the sick and the wounded
of every commonwealth have languished in hospital
and received the tender ministrations of the devoted
women of the city.
And now the tide of war has rolled hitherward again,
and tens of thousands of war-scarred veterans of Dixie
Land to-day stand between these hallowed walls and
thirty miles of bristling bayonets in hostile hands, and
the ten thousand ponderous cannon that are daily and
nightly belching forth fire and death, and hate and
destruction, that they may level down and desecrate
and trample upon these shrines, so dear to the heart of
every mother and child in the Confederacy.
Of course, my friend, there is no rest for us while
the bloody drama lasts. Our pleasant camp may soon
be given up, for the foe is ever alert and active. We
are often out on picket duty, a part or a whole Battery
at a place. The enemy's cavalry are first on this side
of the river and then on the other, hoping to gain the
I have recently been out to Gaines's Mill, and on to
Cold" Harbor, the scene of the late mighty slaughter of
Under the Stars and Bars 213
man by man. Two words describe it all — horror, deso-
lation. Details need not to be given. It is too heart-
There is a melancholy interest in looking around at
the graves in Oakwood — the new burial ground set apart
for the Confederate soldiers who die in the hospitals
in the city. The space is extensive, but it is filling up
rapidly. Many hundred soldiers lie here. The hos-
pitals are all full of sick or wounded men, and many of
them die. Our Company has four men buried here.
But I am on duty to-day, and must bid you adieu.
Hay God keep you safe to the end.
Your friend, B.
[The following are the four comrades referred to in
this letter, as being interred at Oakwood: Zacheriah
Holland and Edward W. Wright, both of Surry county,
and both wounded on May Tth, 1864, at Walthall Sta-
tion, while serving at the same gun; Josiah Gwaltney,
of Isle of Wight, an amiable youth, not twenty years
old, who died of fever, July, 1864; and James Pond,
of Sussex county, a youth, who lost an arm at Fort
Stephens, May 14, 1864, and who died of pneumonia
at Chimborazo hospital one month later.
Now let the ivy and the pine
Their mortal dust enscreen,
And round their names the wreath entwine
Of everlasting green.
214 Under the Stars and Bars
I trust that my former comrades will not think my
soldier-boy eulogy of the city of Richmond too extrava-
gant. I believe what I wrote of it then was but the
spontaneous feeling of every Southern heart. I cannot
see how the place where one's relatives fought, suffered
and bled can be otherwise than dear to them — how the
soil where one's kindred sleep can ever cease to possess
a sacred interest to surviving friends. The heroic
struggle that was made there for Southern liberty by
the men of every State, and its final failure, after the
expenditure of so many lives, must ever invest the queen
city of the James with a solemn and a mournful in-
terest, that is yet tender and touching to the feelings
of every true son and daughter of Dixie land. Time
should not destroy this regard for the soil where so
many of the fallen braves of the South are reposing in
their last, long sleep. Indeed, as the fleet-footed years
pace by, this love should increase and grow tenderer,
truer, stronger, holier. To that Mecca let the pil-
grimages of future years be turned, while men love
liberty, or honor Statehood rights, or possess the man-
hood to lift a hand against invasion.]
Under the Stars and Bars 215
Picketing around — The "poetry of war" — Frequent exchange of
shots — No news from home — Note.
Sept. 15, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — We are yet located at the pleasant
summer camp I told you about in my last letter. That
is, it remains our headquarters. But some part, or all
of the Company — except "Company Q," which always
remains behind to guard the camp — is almost constantly
out, doing picket duty at some threatened or exposed
point. We have no idea, when we turn in to rest at
night, that we will be permitted to "sleep out our full
sleep" until morning.
There is hardly an acre of ground from Richmond
to Petersburg, or from the James to the Chickahominy,
that we have not been over a dozen times. And we
scarcely go a mile without passing some spot where we
have before slept or bivouacked. The River road, the
Williamsburg road, the Darbytown road, (Enroughty,
they spell it here), the Xine-mile road, the Mechanics-
ville road, the Brook turnpike, the Military roads, and
almost every other road, lane, by-path, and alley about
here are quite familiar to us. We can go anywhere
on the darkest night without mishap.
216 Under the Stars and Bars
But there is precious little fun in this ceaseless
tramping around from pillar to post, and from post
back to pillar again. And if, as is often the case, we
make the march at night, through rain, mud and slush,
it is anything but romantic. As a regiment of infantry
was plunging along through the mud, on the Military
road, one night recently, I heard a fellow exclaim:
"This knocks the poetry out of war, don't it ?" I thought
so, too. But the expression will serve to show you
what good-natured, tough, invincible material the
Southern soldier is made of. No adversity can down
him. He never gives up entirely. The only way you
can conquer him is to kill him. Such, my friend, is
the life of the soldier when not in battle — when on the
march, or on the outer posts.
Frequently, while out on these outpost expeditions,
the enemy comes in sight, and we send them over a shell
or two, just to let them know the old soldier is yet at
his post. So far, nobody in our Company has been
hurt recently. Gun No. 3, while lately on the lines
near Roper's farm, had a piece knocked off the muzzle
by the impact of a Federal shell, which exploded "just
as it struck the gun. None of the men were hurt. But
Lieutenant Barham, who was in charge, quickly re-
sponded with one or two 12-pound Napoleons, and the
Other guns and sections of our Battery have, at times
recently, exchanged shots with the enemy, as some of
their scouting party appeared. The other Batteries also
Under the Stars and Bars 217
are frequently engaged with them. Hampton's cavalry
and all the rest, is down on the south side of Petersburg
now, and the artillery here is performing both cavalry
and artillery duty at the same time. The conscript
fathers and the old guard have also to turn out some-
It has been several weeks since we had news from
home. The Federals have pushed their lines so far to
the south of Petersburg that communication is cut off
from the lower counties of the Southside, except by the
circuitous route via Hicksford, Jerusalem and Ivor. I
trust that, at least, this line will be kept open, and that
the mail will pass regularly, so that our men will not
be deprived of the pleasure of hearing from home.
These letters from home are, I assure you, of priceless
value to all the men, for there. is scarcely one who does
not have some friend with whom to correspond. But I
have no idea when this letter will reach you, or when
I will hear from home again.
Well, all is in God's hands. The private has only to
fight and pray. Believing that our cause is just, in
God we trust, and fight, and wait, and hope.
Your friend, B.
[This letter will exhibit to the sons, daughters and
friends of the S. L. A. a living picture of our soldier
life during the closing months of 1S64, when the armies
of Lee and Grant were grappling together like two
giants, each spreading out on the flanks, and seeking
218 Under the Stars and Bars
/ to overflow and encoil the other — and when both cavalry
and artillery were ever on the go — cavalry often per-
/ forming the duty of infantry, and the artillery of
cavalry. It was. active duty on the skirmish line, or
outpost, or picket. And while there was practically
but little hard fighting, there was great need for alert-
ness and watchfulness at every hour, day and night.
And especially was it required of every man on guard
at night, that he be more than commonly watchful and
cautious, lest the enemy approach him unobserved. It
was a time of exposure to the weather also. We would
have no shelter from the rains, or scarcely a chance for
cooking the few rations that we had. The shifts the
boys sometimes made to cook a piece of beef, or knead
a bit of dough and get it baked, would seem like a tale
of myth or fancy. It was a stirring, active, wearing
life. It tested the physical endurance to the utmost.
Xone but the best and most resolute could keep at his
post, and the hospitals were crowded with men.]
Under the Stars and Bars 219
Ceaseless boom of cannon — The flight and bursting of a shell —
Recruits — Deserters — Note.
October 15, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — The steady, ceaseless boom of the
big cannon on the Federal gunboats in the James, has
become a striking feature of the siege, and it is mo-
notonous already. At regular intervals of one or two
minutes, every hour almost, day and night, the boom
of a cannon is heard down on the James. And then,
after a few seconds, comes the report of the bursting
shell, a mile or two out on the land, either on this side
or the other side of the river. xVnd if one is near
enough, he may see the huge missiles, like nail kegs, as
they speed through the air, and he may hear the frag-
ments of the shell as they tear through the tree-tops
in the forest, or fall here and there around him.
It is interesting to watch the flight of those shells,
and to note the little cloud of white smoke that forms
in the atmosphere where a shell explodes. The smoke
at first collects in a rounded mass, and then slowly
fades from view. It does not float off on the wind
like any other cloud, but vanishes slowly from sight,
a picture of all that is human. The Federals waste an
untold amount of ammunition in this way to no pur-
220 Under the Stars and Bars
pose whatever. The soldiers regard the shells with
supreme indifference. Many a time, a shell bursting
overhead, evokes no remark or notice from the men.
Recently we have had several names added to our
roster, but I fear that the most of these late recruits
are poor material for serviceable men. "Substitutes"
and men "whipped in" are not likely to become effective
soldiers. Some of these men may be worse than worth-
less to our cause — they may be spies. It is an easy
matter, and only a short walk, to reach the Federal
lines now. I fear that our authorities are not as careful
as they should be in regard to these eleventh-hour
laborers. They may be here — some of them, at least —
to gain what information they can, and then desert us.
But we have had recruits during the present year
from our home counties, of men that we knew some-
thing about, and these, in most cases, proved to be some
of our best and most effective men. The most of them
came in during the early part of the year, before the
Butler campaign began, and have done good service
since they came. They are but youths, boys just ar-
rived at military age, and are volunteers, coming in of
their own volition — neither substitutes, conscripts, or
"whipped in" men. They have made an honorable
But the others — our Company would have been better
off without them. Some have deserted us already.
They got their money and stayed long enough to be
Under the Stars and Bars 221
counted, and vanished — and where? Are they skulk-
ing? or have they gone to the enemy? or were any of
Well, all is well that ends well. We will hope and
fight on to the end.
Your friend, B.
[The following good and serviceable men came to us
in 186-1, mostly before the active operations of the sum-
mer began, and they shared in the battles and toils of
the remainder of the war:
James S. Avery and William Holt Berryman, from
Surry county; Fidding A. Coakley, from Richmond, a
brother of Dr. J. B. Coakley, physician for the Bat-
talion; John Hankins, from Surry, a brother of Cap-
tain J. D. Hankins; Robert James, from Surry, en-
listed in February, 1864, our "Uncle Bob;" Robert H.
Jones, from Surry county; James IN". Matthews, from
Surry, under the military age when enlisted; James
Pond, from Sussex county, wounded May 14, died iu
July; Joel J. Presson, from Southampton, under the
military age; Henry W. Rogers, from Surry county;
Julian A. Stewart, from Surry, painfully wounded
May 16; William S. Underwood, from Surry; George
Waggoner, from Highland county, a good man and ser-
viceable soldier; and Samuel D. Warren, from Surry,
who enlisted in February.]
822 Under the Stars and Bars
In winter quarters again — Clothing — Rations — Both armies rest —
Courtesies along the lines — Note.
Camp Heneico, Va.,
Nov. 15, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — The army has gone into winter
quarters once more, the fourth time since the war be-
gan. Some of the barracks are better, some worse,
according as the material was at hand to build them.
It would furnish object lessons in construction and
ornament to an architect to go around to the different
camps, and note the various wonderful designs and
figures in the art of carpentry that are to be seen.
Elaborate or beautiful they are not. Original, unique,
grotesque they are. They are picturesque also, and all
more or less serviceable as the temporary abodes of
men who have no furniture to speak of, and but one
object for a shelter x>ver them, namely, comfort. Most
of them are fairly comfortable, as soldiers' barracks.
Our men have built them good log cabins, and we are
near a forest, where there is plenty of fuel for fires.
Our camping-place this time is near the Nine-mile
road leading out eastwardly from the Capital, and we
are four miles from the suburbs of the city. The cabins
are covered with slabs, but have no plank floors, and
the bunks are placed on the sides of the cabins, one
Under the Stars and Bars 223
above another. We had no nails to fasten the roofs, and
so the slabs are held in place by logs laid on top. Of
course, the cabins are rough and unsightly enough,
nothing like the neat ones that we had at Camp Pem-
berton, in the winter of '61-'62, when we had both
plank and nails furnished us, and tools to work with.
But these are much better than no cabins at all, and
we are thankful enough that we have them. Many com-
mands have only cloth tents to shelter them, and not
wood enough for fires. Our horses, too, have good
stalls, while some of the cavalry commands have no
shelters for their horses. General Gary's cavalry, how-
ever, to which command we are attached now, and whose
camp is near us, have good stalls for horses, and
warm cabins for the men.
If only the men had warm and comfortable clothing,
fit to protect them from the inclemency of the winter,
and even half as much rations as were furnished us in
1S61, we would fare well enough, even royally, so far
as creature comforts go. But, alas ! both of these highly-
essential "sinews of war" are conspicuous mostly for
their absence. Supplies of every sort are growing
scarcer and scarcer all the time, and we need both warm
garments and blankets, and more of food. Many of
the men have no overcoats, and some no blankets. And
the present supply of footgear is discreditable in the
Both armies appear to have tacitly agreed to take a
rest, and everything has been quiet for some time.
224 Under the Stars and Bars
Even the big guns on the fleet have stopped their
booming. The Federals, no doubt, are fixing up good,
-warm barracks for all the men, infantry, artillery and
cavalry. They have ample supplies and means, and
all the world to draw upon. Why should they stint
themselves ? "After so much and such stubborn fighting,
the armies may well pause for a good, long rest. Both
sides are growing tired of war, but the fanatics at
the ^Torth keep the men in the field, and the war goes
on. Were it left solely and exclusively tp the men in
the two armies, I believe peace would be made before
The men on picket along the lines often meet and
exchange such things as they may have to part
with — tobacco or peanuts, on the part of the Confed-
erates ; coffee or bacon on the Federal side. There is a
tacit agreement on both sides that no one is to shoot
while these exchanges are going on. When orders
come for shooting to begin, the men inform the other
side, and then all hasten to get behind their breastworks.
Such is one of the better phases and experiences of
soldier-life in the trenches. It shows that humanity is
not clean dead in the soldier's heart.
^lay hope and safety be with you forever.
Your friend, B.
[There is said to be abundant evidence that, since the
failure of both Grant and Butler to capture Richmond,
and after the merciless slaughter of so many of his
Under the Stars and Bars 225
men, that marked Grant's battles from the Wilderness
to Cold Harbor, a feeling contrary to the continuance
of the war began to prevail and grow, both at the ^Torth
and in the Northern army in the field. Be this as it
may, it is the firm belief of the writer that, could
General Lee's army have been properly recruited,
clothed and provisioned during the winter of '64-' 65,
General Grant's army would have been checked in its
advance beyond the Weldon railroad, and the abandon-
ment of Eichmond would not have occurred. In spite
of the terrible losses at the South, the lines here before
the two cities would have continued intact, and Grant,
as well as Butler, would have been penned up on his
base of supplies. It all hinged upon the question of
men and means to meet and check the foe.]
226 Under the Stars and Bars
The paymaster around— Prices — Health of the Company — Fur-
loughs — Absentees — Note.
Camp Henbico, Va.,
Dec. 15, 1864.
My Dear Friend: — Good news! The paymaster has
been around again, and the men now have four months'
pay in their pockets! And the hucksters are driving a
good trade with their "pies an' things." Hucksters?
Yes, there are retail venders of things to eat, still going
the round of the camps, though it is hard to tell where
they get their supplies from. Gingerbread — sweetened
with sorghum molasses — dried-apple pies, sweet pota-
toes at ten cents apiece, boiled beans at twenty-five cents
a plate, a chicken wing or leg at ten cents, one baked
apple at five cents — such are some of the articles they
sell, and the prices they charge for them, all in Con-
federate money, of course. The sight of a silver dime
would frighten a negro huckster half to death now.
But what are twelve dollars a month, Confederate
money, to the prices of things that prevail now? The
two are out of all proportion. If the Government only
would scale up and pay us en ratio with the times,
things would be more equal. How are the families
of soldiers that reside in towns to live on this pay?
But I am not complaining.
Under the Stars and Bars 227
The health of the Company is excellent; I believe
it was never better at any time. None are in the hos-
pital, and no case of much significance in Camp — only
a chill now and then, or colds, and wheezes and sneezes.
And — so quiet is everything along the lines, and in
the enemy's camps — even furloughs are allowed now.
But somehow, by some sort of rule, they are taking the
names from the last end of the list, down at the zeds
and zees, the wyes and tees, and the Williamses and the
Waggoners, the Wrights and the Whites, are getting
them all, for we have a big bunch of these names. We
have one man named Waggoner, who came to us either
from the conscript camp, or from a company of roughs
that had been made up somewhere of men from nowhere,
so to speak, and who succeeded in getting a transfer
to the S. L. A. He says the men of the other company
were too rough for him ; he could not stand them. They
handled him badly, because he was a "tender-foot."
Waggoner is a good man, moral, sober, quiet, and faith-
ful to all his duties, and the men all like him and re-
spect him. But Waggoner is from Highland county,
over between the Shenandoah and the Alleghany
mountains, and on the border of West Virginia. And
he has just got a furlough and has gone home. The
boys posed him a good deal with questions before he
left, and when he departed they all bid him a kind
good-by, and told him they knew they would never see
him again. And some of them pretended to weep a
little. Such are some of the good-natured comic
scenes that are ever taking place.
228 Under the Stars and Bars
We have a number of absentees, who are away from
the Company without permission- They are mostly
from the new recruits, the substitutes, and no one has
any idea where to look for them. One or two may
have crossed the Potomac over into Maryland. Some
may have gone home and joined the skulkers; and
some may have deserted. I would not write thus of
any of the older men. They stick, and are here to
stay to the end of the war, "let the big guns boom as
Many of the higher officers of the commands around
us here — of Gary's Cavalry, especially — have secured
winter quarters in private residences, either taking
homes that were unoccupied, or a set of rooms where
the families still remain. Thus they are fixed out in
quite home-like style, are living comfortably, and have
plenty. Our own officers might have done the same,
but they have not. They are here with the men, and
"mess" and room with the privates.
Three of our men have been transferred to other
commands during the year now near its close. George
W. Armistead, who came to us from Richmond, I be-
lieve, in 1863, has passed into the Richmond Xaval
Department as a teacher. He is an educated man, a
mathematician, and was needed in the other branch
of the service. Marion Messersmith has gone to Com-
pany H, 13th Virginia Cavalry. And Lewis L.
Under the Stars and Bars 229
Turner, a noted character with us, has obtained a
transfer to the Richmond navy, and is serving on one
of the ironclads lying there.
May the holy angels guard the homes and loved ones
of all the soldiers, and keep us in the army safe from
harm to the end. *■
Your friend, B.
[It will not be amiss, perhaps, to make here a special
note in relation to Lewis L. Turner — "Turner L." as
the boys called him. He was indeed a noted character,
and, I suppose, no man in the Company ever gave
Captain Hankins and the rest of the officers more
trouble than "Turner L." He was a native of Isle of
Wight county, but was living in North Carolina when
the war began. He joined a North Carolina company,
and was at the battle of Big Bethel, June 10, 1861.
He came to us in the winter of '61-'62, and remained
until some time in 1864, when he transferred to the
"L. L.," or "Turner L.," was a sharp-witted, and
withal, quite an intelligent man. He was an expert
"forager" and a "blockade runner" of the first class.
"While the Company lay around Richmond, he paid
almost nightly visits to the city, and was often on
double duty or undergoing some severer punishment
for his frequent absences from roll calls. In fact, he
was often in a scrape of some kind, not quite bad
230 Under the Stars and Bars
enough, perhaps, for a court-martial, and yet demand-
ing some severity. He became well acquainted with
the inside of "Castle Thunder," and, in fact, passed
a good deal of his time there. Though an able man
physically, he did very little service for the Confederacy.
He lived several years after the war, and married and
settled in Southampton county.
I regret that I cannot add here a note in relation
to the post war history of Armistead and Messersmith.
They appear to have wandered off into other parts, and
I have not been able to hear from them, or to learn if
they are yet living.
Deducting the losses of the Company .for the year
1864, by transfers, deaths and absentees, our numerical
strength at the end of that year should have been
Under the Stars and Bars 231
The winter of '64-'6o — No prayer meetings — Reading and sport —
The cannon's boom again — Beef and biscuit — One meal a
day — Note.
Camp Henrico, Va.,
Feby. 10, 1865.
My Dear Friend: — The present winter has dragged
its slow length along in very equable mood, with no
extremely cold spells or great storms of snow, and with
a goodly number of mild and pleasant days. We have
had some rain and sleet since February came in, but
the men have passed the winter thus far in much better
comfort than was anticipated when we came here in
December. There is an old English saying that, "God
tempers the wind to the shorn lamb," and perhaps He
has tempered the winter to the thin-clad soldiers, for
many of our men are but sorrily clad, and few of them
have overcoats. And good shoes or boots, and woolen
socks are greatly needed. Such a thing as a dress-
parade would be out of the question now. The officers
would be ashamed to exhibit such a rag-a-muffin, tatter-
demalion set as the average private would make. Such
a thing as a whole uniform is rarely to be seen.
Yet the boys do not take it much to heart because
of their rags, but sing their songs and have their sports
and fun, just as earnestly as though they were the
232 Under the Stars and Bars
best clad fellows in the land. Many of them have
learned to patch quite neatly, and we have some men
that could pass an examination for tailors. In fact,
one of our boys has had his wedding suit of Confederate
gray made for him by one of the Company. And it
was pronounced by all to have been a good job. But
I reckon you would laugh heartily if you were to see
some of the odd patches that some of the boys stitch
on. The most of them never think of cutting out the
old rent to set in a patch, but they stitch the piece on
over the old cloth, which, of course, makes a bungle of
it all. They say it makes the clothes warmer to set the
patches on top the old cloth, and it is easier work.
But hardships and short rations seem to make the
men hardier and more able to endure privations, cold
weather, exposure, etc. The majority of the men are in
vigorous health, and ready for any service. Instead of
repining at their sufferings, I believe the men are really
thankful that it is no worse with them than it is. If
one of the men were to get sad and mope around with a
long face, the rest would pose and tease him half to
death for it. One may see more cheerful faces in the
army on the outer posts or in the trenches, than any-
where else in our land.
There has been a great lack of prayer-meeting ser-
vices in the camps around us this winter. There has
not been a single evangelist around here or, I suppose, in
Gary's whole command, since we came into winter
Under the Stars and Bars 233
quarters. Some of our own men assemble occasionally
at night for singing, and every one who desires it has
plenty of good reading matter — tracts, papers, books,
Testaments. There is a goodly supply of religious books
in camp. But books make dead weight for baggage, and
are not allowed to be put in with the essentials when
we move or start out on a march.
The gunboats that crowd the James are thawing out
of the ice again, and once more the boom, boom of the
big guns is daily repeating its harsh and monotonous
reverberations from river to wood, and back from
wood to river. It seems like a silly waste of material,
for not one shell in five hundred does the least harm to
any one. May be the Federals think they will keep
"the Bebs" at a respectful distance from their lines by
By some piece of good fortune, our Commissary
Sergeant managed recently to get a supply of nice fat
beef, and good, sure-enough flour— two articles that have
depreciated much in quantity and quality the last
twelvemonth. And if ever you saw a fellow's face
radiant with smiles, it was that of the said Commissary
when he road into camp that day with the wagon
loaded with the said beef and flour. Milton does like
to do a good part by the boys when he can, and the
beef and flour that we have been getting for ever so
longwave been so inferior, that the men had about lost
faith in Milton as a successful commissary.
234 Under the Stars and Bars
But this good haul saved his reputation, and brought
smiles to many more faces than Milton's ; and soon the
compliments were rolling in upon him at a lively rate.
And very soon every "mess" in camp was making elabo-
rate preparations for a liberal meal of "beef and
biscuits," or boiled beef and "pot-dodgers."
Our friends at home, though lacking many things
they formerly enjoyed, yet doubtless have their three
full meals each day. But, I tell you that the Southern
soldier would regard himself as very fortunate indeed
if he could always be sure of even one square meal a
day. He would gladly take that one of just plain
"beef and biscuit" without any pretense at dessert.
Other things would be but superfluities. He would
laugh and sing, and grow fat, and fight the Federals
like Trojans on that. Fill up Lee's ranks again to one
hundred thousand men, and give them all though but
one full meal a day of good beef and biscuit, and they
would bid defiance to all the forces the Northern despot
could pit against them.
After the "messes" had all eaten their fill once more,
many a Richard felt that he was "himself again," and
ready for any emergency. And more than one humble
private audibly thanked God for "one more square
meal." And there was a whole "camel's load" of grati-
tude in the words, for, I tell you that scrimp dinners,
rather than full ones, has been the rule in Lee's army
for many a long month.
Under the Stars and Bars 235
It is the recital of such things that alone can give
you a just and accurate conception of the actual needs
and privations and self-denials of the Southern soldier
in this struggle for State rights and native soil unpro-
faned by the vandal's heel. All General Lee's army
needs to be invincible is more men and more of beef
and biscuit. With these and their indomitable spirit,
Lee's men would soon clear the State of every foe.
Your friend, B.
[Perhaps my old comrade and warm friend, John H.
Bell, will bear me out about that nice tailor-built suit
that he made for M. A. Delk, some time during the
war — and. how proud Hatt was when it was finished
and he got his furlough to go home. That was a red-
letter day for Matt, one of the happiest of his life, no
doubt — one to which he will ever look back with pride
and thankfulness — thankfulness for the happy results
that led out of it, and gratitude that his life was spared
through the war, and that he has been permitted to
enjoy so many years of peace and happiness since
then. Very few of the boys, I fear, will be able to
recall such a pleasant reminiscence as this of our
I can recall few things of any particular importance
that occurred at our Camp during this, our fourth and
last, winter spent in the service of the Confederate
States. Both armies remained very quiet all winter.
236 Under the Stars and Bars
We had but little of sickness among the men, and we
were located rather too far from town for the few
incorrigible "blockade runners" there were still in the
Company to venture out often. "Turner L." was gone,
transferred to the navy, and he had been the ring-
leader among the half-dozen men of the Company that
might be set down as our worst "blockaders." I think
there must have been less shirking of duty, more of
good conduct and kindliness among the men, and fewer
calls for discipline than had been the case any previous
winter of the war. Even our magpie, Joseph Kea,
was less noisy than ever he had been before. But "Tom
the fiddler" was not with us now, for Joe to worry and
exasperate into fever-heat all the time. Poor man!
he had passed over the river, and was beyond the reach
of any earthly trouble. As I look back and think of
our life in camp, a feeling of regret comes to me that
something more had not been done by the men to render
the life of that man happier and sweeter. I fear his
light went out in a darkness that might have been made
a little less dark, if only a little more of brotherly
kindness had been shown him.
And Waggoner had not returned. His time was out,
but he had not reported for duty. He never did. Per-
haps the preponderance of union sentiment and talk,
when he got home, was too much for him ; he had to
remain. Or, perhaps, he was held a prisoner and not
allowed to return. No one will ever know. Yet, I am
very sure that he was not a bad man, or false to his
Under the Stars and Bars 237
State. For him the S. L. A. will entertain kindly
feelings, and register his name on our bead-roll of honor
as one who did his duty well while with us.
I do not recall a single Battalion drill or inspection
as having occurred during this winter. And the pay-
master never came around again after that visit in De-
cember, '64. It really made but little difference. We
were penniless soldiers, and likely to remain so to the
end, for the paper they gave us had but little purchasing
value for anything that was worth buying. Two months
more from the date of this letter, reached the end of it
238 Under the Stars and Bars
Butler's ditcli — Our idle iron-clads — Pushing around the flank —
Southern railroad cut-^Grant's railroad — And his towers —
Camp Henrico, Va.,
March 10, 1865.
My Dear Friend: — We have heard rumors several
times during the last four or five months, that Butler
has been digging — or is having dug — a great ditch or
canal at the place on the James river known as "the
Dutch Gap," and it is reported that it is completed, and
is a real success. By a short cut of one hundred yards,
all that long bend in the James of several miles around
Curie's Neck, is obviated, and boats pass through easily
to the upper part of the Neck without having to go
Now, if this is reliable news, it is the cleverest thing
that Butler has done in these parts since his arrival
here, the first of May of last year. If it is true, he has
done something of value, to perpetuate his name and
fame to posterity. Virginia and Richmond, in future
years, will thank Butler for his gratuitous service. If
the canal is really a success, it will be a perpetual bene-
fit to the navigation of the James for all time to come.
What advantage the Federals hope to realize, how-
ever, from the said ditch, is not so clear. It will not
Under the Stars and Bars 239
put their iron-clads above Drewry's Bluff, and that,
after all, is the military key to Richmond by water.
It is hard to see the military value of the great canal,
under the existing condition of things. Let him now
undertake another canal, to put his fleet around and
by the Bluff, and he will be there, and even Grant, I
suppose, will thank him for his labors. After all, Gen-
eral Butler may succeed in winning immortality for
himself, if be only has time and means enough allowed
him. A canal around the Bluff should be his next
In the meantime, what are our four or five idle iron-
clads, that are rusting in the dock at Richmond — what
are they doing to make things lively for Butler, and
help General Lee to check the advance on the Southern
railroad below Petersburg? If only those same iron-
mailed monsters could be induced to make a sudden
dash, one fine morning before long, on the Federal fleet
about Curie's Xeck, and the aforesaid Butler's canal,
they might stir up a little breeze that might be inter-
esting to some one. They might win glory for them-
selves, and help our cause a good deal. And, in case
they were beaten, the run back under the Bluff would
be but a short one. They ought to try it, even though
they sank for it. Such, at least, is the view one private
takes of it.
The news comes that Grant is constantly pushing his
lines around to the south and southwest of Petersburg.
His forces already hold the Southern railroad, so that
240 Under the Stars and Bars
important line of communication between Richmond
and the South is severed, and General Lee is still
crippled in his resources. Oh, for men to meet the
emergency, and strike the enemy a telling blow !
And Grant has a railroad of his own, a sure-enough
iron rail, all the way from City Point, around by the
east and south of Petersburg, along the line that his
army occupies. So vast are the resources and appli-
ances of war at his command. They, do not spare in
means or men, but are lavish of both. But the Con-
federacy seems to be getting more and more impover-
ished, and is growing weaker and weaker every day.
The hope of foreign recognition is about at an end, and
the blockade of all our ports renders it impossible to
secure the needed supplies.
And the Federals have built vast towers, or look-
outs, at points upon their lines — a sort of frame-work,
a hundred and fifty feet or more in height. And they
send men up to the top of them to watch the movements
of the Confederates, and spy out the weak points in the
thin lines behind the breastworks. They do not use
balloons, as did McClellan, but high wooden towers.
In some cases they have fixed ladder-ways up to the
top of tall trees, and use them as look-outs, for gaining
information of all that is going on along General Lee's
lines. The Federals are a resourceful people.
But they are invaders. They have come into our
State with hostile intent. They are desolating our land,
destroying our property, robbing our homes, burning
Under the Stars and Bars 2-il
bridges, mills and churches. They seek to pauperize
our people, to overpower and rule them. What ought
we to do but to fight them? Yea, we will fight them
to the bitter end. We need more Stuarts, more Mosbys,
more Jacksons — men who know how to strike them at
odd times and places, and in unexpected ways. We
should not tie down too closely to West Point morals
when fighting invaders. I would take the advantage
of them in any way and manner possible. I would
strike at their supply trains, shell their transports,
cripple them in any way that might appear. What
right have they on our soil ? Should we not treat them
as common robbers ? Yea, arm the boys and the old
men, and fight them to the bitter end. This is the
dictate of common reason, the only course for a people
who would be free. Shall we bow the neck to a foe
so insolent and high-handed as these vandals ?
I trust you will not imbibe the too gloomy and
despondent tone in which I write. I believe there is
hope for us yet. From the beginning of this struggle
until now, I have ever entertained an abounding con-
fidence in the ultimate success of the Southern cause.
I hold that confidence still. The principles for which
we contend, founded in truth, justice and right, are as
eternal as the hills, and must prevail. There may be
changes, revolutions, disasters, failures, but Statehood
rights and personal liberty are invincible. Tyrants
may arise, oppression may come, freedom and self-
government may suffer long interregnums, but at last
242 Under the Stars and Bars
the principles of the old constitution, as framed by the
best wisdom of our fathers, will be sustained.
Let us take courage and struggle on. A brighter
day will dawn. All is not lost. This is our land, and
we will hold it. On this platform we will rise or fall.
Your friend, B.
[The reader will observe, from the date of the above
letter, that the Confederacy was within two months of
its dissolution. Of course, then, there was prevailing
at the time an undertone of despondency in the army,
and distrust in the ability of our Government to hold
out a great while longer. The privates saw and felt
this, and deplored it. But the collapse came sooner
than was expected — and why? It was because of the
very liberal — even generous — terms offered General Lee
by General Grant. Had Grant's conditions been at all
harsh or unreasonable, General Lee, I feel sure, never
would have yielded as he did, but would have fought
his way through the cordon that surrounded him. Gen-
eral Grant's terms of surrender was the occasion of the
close of hostilities, at the time that it occurred. Had
the tyrant, Stanton, been there to dictate measures, or
any one else less tolerant than General Grant, the his-
torian would never have heard of the surrender at
Appomattox. Grant's clemency, his liberality, his
generous treatment of General Lee, did more to end
the war than his army ever could have done. The
Army of Xorthern Virginia, though fearfully depleted
Under the Stars and Bars 243
and torn, though ragged and hungry and despondent,
had defied Grant's bullets, but it was won by his
One more letter that succeeded in winding its way
around Grant's army, and in reaching fiually the folks
at home, is all that now remains to me in finishing out
this narrative. After that I must resort to memory
and a few notes that I made shortly after the close of
244 Under the Stars and Bars
A circuitous mail route — But one line open — Richmond un-
tenable — What then?— Note.
Camp Henrico, Va.,
March 20, 1865.
My Dear Friend: — Grant having pushed his lines
across the Southern rail, and on into Dinwiddie, the
mail route between Richmond and the lower counties
of the Southside, even if a route can be kept open at all,
is rendered still more circuitous and extended than
before. Another way through Amelia, Nottoway and
Brunswick, and on to Hick's Ford, as before, will, I
suppose, be selected, and may be, in the course of an
age or two, a letter from home may reach us, and an
answer be returned. This will be very annoying to
the men of the S. L. A. One great enjoyment to them,
all along through their life in camp, has been the re-
ceipt of letters from home, messages from their friends
and kindred, and if this pleasure is now to be denied,
it will be a hard blow to them. Any mail route is far
better than none at all. And if Grant's forces should
be advanced so far south and west as to destroy the
present line — and if it should still be the fortune of
the S. L. A. to remain here on this side of the James —
I would suggest a private line via the Chickahominy
and Jamestown, and across into Surry, and so on into
Under the Stars and Bars 245
Isle of Wight and the other counties. The plan would
be feasible by making the crosses on the James at
night in a small boat. One man with a pair of oars
might work his way across in calm weather with per-
fect safety, despite the gunboats and other craft. But
I trust that this letter, at least, will reach you before
Grant's men get everywhere.
And so, there is but one line of railway communica-
tion open from Richmond to the South — the Danville.
Of course, the Federals will aim to seize and destroy
that, if possible. But they will not be likely to keep it
cut permanently. Grant will hardly depart so far
from his base of supplies on the James as the Danville.
Unless he should invest Richmond on the south and
west, which he might do by abandoning his present
line, or a part of it.
In that case, Richmond becomes untenable, and
doubtless will have to be given up. It could not be
held very long. Famine is a foe that no army can
conquer, and there would be no way open for supplies
to reach us.
With Richmond abandoned, what then ? Who
knows ? God only does. But the thought is too ap-
palling to contemplate. I trust it may never have to be
evacuated. But the outlook is gloomy enough now.
The men feel it. It is in the air. A mist, a semi-
darkness hangs over the land. It seems to pervade the
atmosphere. Thus it is that our feelings and our fears
give color and form to surrounding objects. I will
246 Under the Stars and Bars
cease. I would not appall you with evil forebodings,
which, after all, happily may never come to pass. God
grant that they never may. My faith in the justice
of our cause was never stronger. And, ultimately — in
some way, at some time, if not now — the South will
Your friend, B.
[In some way, by some route, this letter reached
home, and I found it among the rest, when I, too, ar-
rived, about the close of April following. But what
shall I here append, by way of note? Nothing, except
this : that in two weeks more the misfortune came ;
Richmond was abandoned; the retrograde began!
For the remainder of the story, therefore, I will as-
sume the narrative form, and cull from memory, and a
few notes made soon after the close of the war, the
material to finish up these Recollections to the end of
Of course, the account must take its coloring, in
great measure, from my own personal observation and
feelings at the time. Many of my comrades will have
other impressions and recollections. We all did not
see alike. My notes, made so soon after the return
home, reflect the views of the soldier, and I have not
sought to give them another cast. Statements that may
not be strictly true, I am .ready to modify and correct.
But my views are my own, and I will abide by them
to the end.]
Under the Stars and Bars 247
THE SAD FINALE.
The battle of Five Oaks — Lee's flank turned — Richmond aban-
doned — The city an ocean of flame — Slowly retiring — Without
rations — A weary march — Our last fight — Sabbath morning,
April 9th — A sound of battle — At Red Oak church — Dis-
banding — Tears and farewells — Crossing the James.
I come now to the sad finale of the great and bloody
drama of war in Virginia. On the 26th of March,
Grant's army before Petersburg, having been increased
to more than 200,000 men by the arrival of Sheridan
with a large cavalry force from the Shenandoah Valley,
began to assume the offensive, and, on April 1st, Grant,
with this immense and well-equipped army, succeeded
in turning General Lee's right flank on the south of
Petersburg. A battle ensued, but on the 2d inst., Gen-
eral Lee found it necessary to abandon Petersburg and
retire westward, thus leaving that city and Richmond
to the mercy of the enemy. With his sadly depleted
army, and having no hope of reinforcements from any
quarter, it was impossible for Lee any longer to hold
his lines and keep the enemy in check. All of General
Lee's cavalry forces combined were no match now
against the larger and far better equipped cavalry com-
mand of Sheridan, and with this strong force at his
service, Grant was placed at a great advantage over
Lee. Lee's army was far inferior to Grant's in both
248 Under the Stars and Bars
number and equipments, and Lee could do nothing
more than slowly to retire before the immense host
that confronted him.
On Sunday, April 2d, orders reached our Battalion,
in its camp on the Nine-mile road, east of Richmond, to
withdraw toward the city early on the following morn-
ing. The news that Richmond was to be abandoned,
though not unexpected, came like a death-knell to us all.
The day was a sad Sabbath to the men. We had come
to love the city almost as if it had been our home. We
passed the day in constant expectation of an attack
from the enemy. But no enemy came, and we heard
no sound of battle. All remained quiet — the lull be-
fore the storm.
Very early on the morning of the 3d of April, our
•Company, and all other commands near us, hastily
packed the wagons with the few essential things that we
possessed, and sometime before the dawn of day, we
abandoned our last winter quarters, leaving behind
such things as were not absolutely essential to take
We moved away slowly and quietly, without noise
or sound of bugle, expecting an enemy to dash in upon
us at any moment, and standing by our guns, ready to
give him a warm reception.
Frequent halts were made for other commands to
come up or pass by us, or, also to await orders, and our
progress was very slow. Thus we had good opportunity
to observe all that was taking place around us.
Under the Stars and Bars 249
As the different commands left their barracks, or the
officers their quarters, fires began to break out on every
side, the glare of which cast around a weird, unearthly
glamour, like the pall of some impending catastrophe.
As stated in letter forty-fourth, many of the higher
officers on this side of the river had obtained quarters
in the homes or residences of the citizens — and, in
many cases on this memorable occasion, it was private
residences, good and comforable homes, that were being
consumed. What cause or reason there was for this
sacrifice, I never could make out. Nor were there any
need that the soldiers' barracks should be destroyed.
But such is the temper of man: burn and destroy, lest
Now and anon, in quiclt succession, other fires, both
right and left of us, would burst forth, until the lurid
light of scores of burning camps, or homes, or stores,
eclipsed the light of the rising day. All this before
we reached the city.
As we approached the environs of the town, great
columns of black smoke were seen ascending upward,
here and there, all over the city. The Government
shops and works everywhere had been fired, and the
flames were extending from these to other buildings.
It was the ruling order of the hour, to burn everything
that had any relation to the Government.
But flames do not pause at Government lines, and
soon the angry, hissing fires were raging all along the
city, from Rocketts up into the very heart of the town.
250 Under the Stars and Bars
Fires were spreading with irresistible fury through the
doomed Capital, right and left, for no effort was made
to check their advance. On the contrary, more fires
were bursting out in other quarters, as if it were the
purpose of some fiend to leave the place one pile of
ashe3 and blackened ruins.
Presently, on Union hill, a vivid flash of light shot
out and upward, and a great cloud of white smoke burst
forth, and spread outward on all sides, followed by a
tremendous report that shook the earth around us ; and
the Confederate Powder Mills had ceased to exist.
That, too, had been fired and blown up.
Next, a deafening explosion down at the dock on the
James is heard, telling that an iron-clad, upon which
so much labor and material had been expended, all to
no purpose, had been torn into a thousand shapeless
fragments, and hurled hither and thither over the
water. And then a second, a third, and a fourth similar
explosion indicated that other intended war-craft of
the nascent Confederate navy had been rendered non
est, without venturing a single fight. What, if some
daring Paul Jones could have been found, on that same
woeful morning, who would have taken those boats
down the river and made a sudden and desperate dash
upon the noisy Federal fleet lying there, and so let
them have won some renown, before they went down
into ruin? The attempt might have furnished a bril-
liant and interesting chapter in naval warfare.
Explosion after explosion were now succeeding each
other rapidly, all along the huge line of flame and
Under the Stars and Bars 251
smoke that skirted the river from the Dock to the
Basin and beyond. Rapidly upward from Cary to
Main the flames were sweeping on, leaping rapidly from
tenement to tenement, like hungry fiends from the in-
All was noise, confusion, excitement, apprehension,
fear. Pandemonium reigned supreme within the
doomed Capital of the Southern Confederacy, the land
of the Staes and Baes. How our hearts sank within
us, as we looked upon the appalling scene, the mighty
conflagration, the needless sacrifice!
All this time our Company stands idle, irresolute,
uncertain, on the hill at the eastern environs — awaiting
the tardy orders, that, it seemed, were never coming.
Other commands were filing by us without stopping,
until at last we are left alone — the rear guard of the
retrograde. Still no foe appeared in sight, to push the
departing columns faster on. Every man looked on
with bleeding heart and bated breath, as the victim
lay helpless in the constantly extending fires — but no
advancement is made, and the sun is speeding on its
At last a courier arrives, and we dash forward, on
through Kocketts, where the wildest confusion pre-
vails — on along Main street, where numberless women,
reckless of personal danger, are tugging and pulling at
parcels and goods thrown out from the depots where
supplies had been stored — on by the Government shoe
factory, just in time to secure a supply of new shoes —
252 Under the Stars and Bars
on toward the Capitol, winding in and out from street
to street, to avoid the fast encroaching fires. It is diffi-
cult to make our way at all, through the crowds of ex-
cited humanity that throng the streets, and hinder travel
with their burdens and loads of goods. An officer has
to get in front of the Battery with drawn sword to
make way for us to pass along.
By this time, an ocean of flame is dashing, as a tidal
wave of destruction, from side to side, and roaring,
raging, hissing about us, and leaping on from house
to house, and from street to street, in very wantonness
of wrath. Like a wild, mad steed, without any restrain-
ing hand to impede it, the flame bounds along, seeming
to gloat in its great power to destroy. As the fire
spreads, buildings are deserted, the helpless occupants
dragging with them whatever they could of clothes or
Consternation and confusion prevailed on all sides.
No one seemed capable of sober reasoning or calm re-
flection. The whole city seemed doomed to go down
before the onrushing element that roared and raged
like fiends and furies. The Government officials, and
all in authority, civil or military, seemed to be absent.
Presently we are moved onward toward Mayo's
bridge. But, behold! the short bridge spanning the
canal before Mayo's is reached, is wrapped in flames,
and nothing could pass there. Fortunately, a way is
open through the yard of the Danville depot, and over
it we dash to the bridge, eager to escape the wilderness
Under the Stars and Bars 253
of flame. Just as we were entering the Danville yard, a
tobacco factory near by is emptied of its contents of
plug tobacco, and the boys got a liberal supply of the
weed that served them for a long time after. It was
their last gift !
Once safely over Mayo's, we paused awhile, to
look upon the scene of danger and dread from which
we had just escaped — looked back upon the vast col-
umns of black smoke, rising mountain high, obscuring
the sky, and hiding half the town from view. But, even
in Manchester, the insatiate flame is busy, and the
cotton mills and other works, are rapidly going down
before the heartless destroyer. Even here, private resi-
dences were on fire, and dismay marked the countenances
of men. If a smile lighted the face of any being in
Eichmond that day, it must have been that of some
Stanton or Garrison, gloating over the fall of the
Southern Metropolis. No one with a heart could smile
with such a 3pectable of horror before him.
Ah ! that was a picture and a time to be remembered
forever, and none of the S. L. A. who witnessed it can
ever forget the dreadful sight. Miles on miles of
fire ; mountain piled on mountain of black smoke ; mil-
lion on million of flying sparks, of hot ashes, of angry
cinders; one ceaseless babel of human voices, crying,
shouting, cursing; one mighty pandemonium of woe,
darker than death itself, more to be feared than the
angry rush of battle, or the leaden hail and glittering
steel of charging columns ! Great God ! what a deluge
254 Under the Stars and Bars
of misery was it. To my last hour, the horrid picture
will remain indelibly stamped on memory's tablet. The
burning of Richmond on that woeful 3d of April, 1865,
was heart-crushing enough to force tears from the most
callous eye that ever felt a pang for human sorrow.
And was it necessary ? Let the future historian pass
upon that. I do not know. But to a private soldier,
giving his sober recollections of what he saw and heard,
it seemed a cruel and wicked waste — an almost heart-
less destruction of valuable material and human homes,
that might have been avoided.
As we gain the turnpike leading out toward Amelia,
and pass beyond the confines of the town, we pause to
cast back one farewell gaze upon the tragedy we had
passed — turned to look our last upon the once queenly
Capital of the Confederate States — now Capital no
longer, but a fallen, helpless victim! With almost
breaking hearts, we turned away, and began our weary
tramp hither or thither, as fate might lead.
"He turned and left the scene —
0, -do not deem him weak —
Tho' dauntless was the soldier's heart,
A tear was on his cheek."
So far as we could see and learn, the S. L. A. was
the very last organized body of soldiers that left Rich-
mond on that 3d of April, 1865. We came out alone,
no other command in sight, either to the front or in the
rear of us. We were the fag end of the retiring army
Under the Stars and Bars 255
that was slowly, reluctantly wending its way from the
place made sacred to the soldier's heart, by the straggles
and sufferings of four trying, tragicful years.
Our march was continued all that day, in a slow
and orderly manner — on by Coalfield and thence to
Tomahawk church, where we paused and rested that
night. The next day the march was continued, the
several commands proceeding, as yet, upon the same
road, and following a general southwesterly direction
across a part of Powhatan county, and on into Amelia.
Here the forces from Richmond joined in with those
from Petersburg, and it was learned that the Federal
cavalry were hovering upon our flanks right and left,
seeking to fall upon and cut off any part of the retiring
column that might become detached from the main body.
But the army was now almost without rations of any
description, and, worst misfortune of all, the trains that
had been ordered to meet General Lee's army in Amelia
with supplies, never came ! The order had miscarried
or been misunderstood, and the supplies were not at
hand ! Thus the whole army was practically without
food for the remainder of the march, for the section
through which we moved had little to give. In addition
to the failure of supplies to reach us, as expected, the
Federals, on the third day, cut out and burned a large
section of the wagon trains that contained some sup-
plies, thereby still further curtailing our means of
256 Under the Stars and Bars
I think it was at the close of the third day that it
became necessary to relieve the battery horses of some
of their burden, for they, as well as the men, were
suffering from the lack of food, and were jaded from
the constant marching. Accordingly, one or two of the
cannon of each Battery were dismounted and buried,
the wheels of the limbers and caissons were cut' down,
and so much of the ammunition as could not be carried
along was destroyed. Thus lightened of part of their
labor, the horses were enabled to hold out to the end.
Though foodless, footsore, and sleepy were the men,
the march was continued through the fourth day, with
no event or incident of importance to relate..
By this time, and before, the army was retiring by
several roads leading in a westerly direction, and all
the divisions were closely followed by the Federals, and
frequent skirmishing occurred between the two armies.
An engagement of some magnitude took place at
Sailor's Creek, in which the 10th Battalion of Virginia
Heavy Artillery, composed largely of men from Surry
county, was engaged.
The road travelled by the S. L. A. on this weary
march of six days, led us on by Stony Point Mills
and Willis Mountain, and thence across a part of
Cumberland into Appomattox county. We passed Ap-
pomattox Court House about noon on the 8th of April,
and proceeding one and a half or two miles further
on, paused in a small field to rest; and here we were
told, rations would be distributed to the men. The
Under the Stars and Bars 257
men of the S. L. A., and I suppose all the other com-
mands from Richmond, had made the march on what-
ever food they had at the start, and whatever they could
pick up from the people along the route. Many of
the men kept up in the march two or three days without
anything to .eat. The army, and especially the S. L. A.,
was practically foodless for several days, three or four
days certainly. Footsore, weary, without sleep, and
without food, the boys dragged on, kept up with the
guns, and still had the courage and strength left them
to hope on and believe that a brighter day would soon
come to them. We were approaching near to Lynch-
burg, and there we expected to find food and rest, and
defensive works to fight behind. Up to Saturday after-
noon, April Sth, the Artillery of Lee's army, then
under command of General Alexander, had not en-
countered the enemy at any point. Lightfoot's Bat-
talion, and other commands, numbering about 100
pieces in all, were moving together along the same road,
and this division of the Artillery was commanded by
General AYalker, of Southwest Virginia.
Calling to his aid the best local guides of the section,
General Walker had led us by obscure roads and by-
paths, and across farms, and often by no road at all,
either to shorten the way or to avoid the enemy, who
was ever hovering upon our flanks, and watchful to
strike us unawares. Our progress, however, was neces-
sarilv slow all the time. Both men and horses were
258 Under the Stars and Bars
thoroughly jaded; halts for rest were frequently made;
the roads were hilly and rough; and guides had often
to be changed.
It may well be conceived that our six days' tramp
was a weary procession. It was akin to a funeral
march, a journey to the dead ! Indeed, it was a funeral
march. "We were tramping on to the death-hour of the
Confederacy, and every footstep we made was but
sounding out the drum-beat to the grave of Southern
independence. The men walked on almost in silence.
There was no loud or boisterous talk, no songs, no mer-
riment. All hearts were sad, many faces despondent;
few hopeful words were spoken. The tattered rem-
nants of General Lee's noble army, that had made for
itself a record equal to the best in the history of the
world, was under a cloud, and the cloud had no sign
of a rainbow promise of deliverance.
It was a hard test of the physical man. Without
rest, or food, or sleep, how could men move on con-
tinually, and keep their places by the guns £ Men
slept while walking along. The drivers slept upon their
horses. Men would drop down by the wayside and be
asleep in a second. Only the strongest and most reso-
lute could keep their places and continue the inarch.
On Saturday afternoon, after passing the village of
Appomattox Court House, we paused for rest in a
small clearing, where the artillery and infantry crowded
together without order, no one appearing to surmise
that any Federals were near us. We had been resting
Under the Stars and Bars 259
an hour or more, when suddenly a horseman dashes
down, yelling out that the Federals were charging!
For a moment some confusion prevailed. But we
stood our ground. The infantry fell into line, our
guns were quickly shotted, and just as the Blue Coats
burst from the cover of the wood before us, we opened
on them, loading and firing as rapidly as we could.
The enemy charged up almost to our guns, calling out :
"Surrender! surrender!" But we gave them canister
and the infantry saluted them so warmly, that they
soon retired, with the loss of several of their men.
Fortunately, none of the S. L. A. had received a
shot. Perhap's it was because there were so few of us
engaged. There was plenty of room for the enemy's
missiles to pass without striking a man. The only
men whom the writer remembers as serving at the same
gun with himself on this occasion, were Corporal T. T.
Cockes, gunner, and George C. Holmes, W. Holt Ber-
ryman, and, I think, Charles A. Price. Of course,
there must have been two or three more men at this
gun, and a like number at the other gun — for we had
but two cannon then. Two had been left behind, buried
somewhere in Amelia county. Altogether, I think
there were not more than 20 or 25 men of the S. L. A.
engaged in this fight. First Lieutenant W. R. Bar-
ham commanded, Captain Hankins having been called
to a consultation with some of the superior officers.
Many of the men had fallen out of ranks the last day
or two, broken down or sick and disabled.
260 Under the Stars and Bars
This was our last fight, our last exchange of shots
with the foe. Our guns were never shotted again.
We had fired our last shell.
During all of that night following this engagement,
the artillery, in charge of General Walker, moved slowly
and caustiously along in a northerly or northwesterly
direction, as if it were his intention to cross over to
the northern side of the James river, and so reach
Lynchburg that way.
The next day — a Sabbath — dawned bright and beau-
tiful — but it brought nothing beautiful to us. Pres-
ently the boom of cannon, in the direction of the army,
told us that another battle was about to take place.
But the firing soon ceased. We heard afterwards that
it proceeded from a part of General Gordon's com-
mand, making their last stand for battle.
By this time our Battalion had reached Red Oak
church, in Appomattox county, several miles from the
place of our engagement of the previous evening. And
at noon, a courier arrived, conveying the sad news that
General Lee had capitulated, and that the men were to
be paroled, and permitted to return to their homes!
We were told to park the guns, which was done in the
fine grove about the church, and then the men were dis-
banded — either to surrender to the enemy and get
paroles, or to work their way home as best they might.
The horses were turned loose that they might graze, and
every man who would, took a horse for his own, to help
Under the Stars and Bars 261
him along on the way home. Very few of them, how-
ever, ever succeeded, I believe, in getting home with
one of those horses.
It was here, at this fine old church, that the Surry
Light Artillery, and the other Batteries of Colonel
Charles Lfghtfoot's Battalion, fell into fragments. It
was here, with tearful eyes, we bid adieu to officers and
comrades ! Here we looked our last upon our guns, and
turned away forever from the battle-flag we had fol-
lowed. Here the Stars and Bars fell to the ground, no
more to float to the breeze. The men broke up into
small squads, and turned away from their soldier-life
with but one thought uppermost in each heart — home.
Let us seek our homes!
A few of the commissary and supply wagons had
succeeded in keeping along with the Batteries, and some
of these contained a few articles of uncooked food —
a little flour, some sugar, some bacon, perhaps, I am
not sure, and — wonderful to say — some coffee! I am
sure about the coffee, for when the men were told to
take whatever articles they chose from the wagons, I
secured a small bag of coffee for myself. I never could
account for it how that coffee chanced to escape the
pot so long. It had been many a month since any had
been issued out to the men. But I had not quite for-
got the look of coffee, and that took my eye— and I
took it and held it. I have ever been fond of coffee, and
if, by chance, anything like a faint smile shone on my
face that day, it must have been when I laid hold of
262 Under the Stars and Bars
that parcel of Rio or La Guayra — I think it could not
have been Java. I trust my former comrades will par-
don this personal mention. It was about the only lucky
thing — barring the enemy's balls — that had happened
for me that week, and I could not resist the temptation
to speak of it here.
As I said, any of the men who would have one, took
a horse to ride. But most of the men preferred not
to be cumbered with a horse. And so the Company
broke up into small squads — deeming that the best
way to avoid falling into the hands of the -enemy —
and the several parties started off — some whither,
hither and thither, this way or that, as best suited their
notion of the proper way to go. Some turned their
faces directly homeward, regardless of the fact that
200,000 Federals stood directly in their way. A few,
perhaps, tried a more circuitous route by the south.
And others believed it would be wiser to cross over the
James, and make their way down on the north side,
around Richmond, and so on, down the Peninsula.
Many took this course.
A company of twelve started out for the James,
which was but a few miles away, and, in an hour or
two, we succeeded in reaching it at some ferry, the
name of which I have forgotten. But it was only a
little way above the mouth of Elk river, a small tribu-
tary that falls into the James from Appomattox county.
On hallooing for the ferry-boat to cross over for us,
two negroes promptly started out with the boat, and
Under the Stars and Bars 263
when they reached our side, told us that they had been
instructed to put across the river any soldiers that
might ask for a passage. The promptness of the negroes
in answering our call had surprised us a little, and we
were a bit suspicious that a trap had been set to capture
us. But we passed across safely. In some way, some
kind-hearted person had learned of the state of affairs
in the army, and so they contributed their mite to aid
any paroled or disbanded soldiers^ to reach their homes.
It was a kind and benevolent act, and, I trust, they
have, long ago, reaped a bountiful reward.
Thus we were across the James, in Amherst county.
Our first object was to obtain food, and then a good,
sound sleep — rest and recuperation for the journey
It is proper, at this point, to remind younger readers
of this narrative, that the men of the S. L. A. who stayed
by their guns to the end, and were with the command
at Red Oak church, never surrendered. They were
merely disbanded, and told to make their way home as
best they could. There was not a Federal in our sight
during the whole day of the 9th. There was no one to
whom we might turn, to receive us as captives. It
would have not been in keeping with the character of
Virginians, for us to have voluntarily walked ten'
miles to General Grant's army, and there to have crossed
arras and begged them to fasten on the fetters. iSTone
of us thought of doing that. The few of us who were
with the guns did not undergo the humiliation of a
264 Under the Stars and Bars
surrender ; we were not paroled ; and some have never
assented to "an oath of allegiance."
But, if we escaped this much of the bitterness of
defeat, it amounted to nothing in the end. The blow
fell with crushing weight upon us all, and it was then
very uncertain what fortune awaited us, should we
ever succeed in reaching our respective homes in
safety. Should we find peace, or would it be vassalage
and strife? Would Virginia be ruled a3 a conquered
province, or as a free State, equal with the rest ? Would
the old soldiers be received as free citizens of a free
republic, or would we be disfranchised, reduced to
These, and similar thoughts, perplexed us, but we
could only go on and trust in God to guide and keep
us in the hollow of His hand. One thing we felt we
must do, the first thing — we must get home somehow,
and once there, we would await developments and the
trend of the Northern mind toward us. Sleep and rest
now — strength for the journey — and then we would
turn our faces eastward, like Israel of old, and hasten
Farewell ! thou Stars and Bars ! Proud banner of
a proud people, noble even in their dire defeat ! Though
thy folds may trail in the dust, and thy foes may deride
and scorn thee for ages yet untold ! yet — sometime —
in God's own time, out of the ashes of thy desolation,
phoenix-like, thou wilt arise to grander things than at
Under the Stars and Bars 28/5
first. And the sons of thy first followers will seize
thee and bear thee aloft, to float again on the breeze,
the sacred ensign of a free and virtuous people. And
under the shadow of thy folds will assemble the poor,
the oppressed, the down-trodden, the Christ-like of every
land and kingdom; and thy influence over them will
be Love and Liberty, Peace and Happiness.
"The Flag we carried for four long years —
The Blue, the White, and the Red—
Fondly we fold it and bathe it in tears
For the sake of the gallant dead!"
266 Under the Stars and Bars
Rest and sleep — Starting out — Hospitality of the people by the
way — Sheridan's trail of ashes and desolation — Passing
Richmond— Down the Chickahominy — Waiting for dark-
ne3g — Crosing the James — Home at last.
To soldiers who had performed a long and wearisome
march of seven days on the very minimum of physical
recuperation, the first consideration, on being disbanded,
would be food and sleep — rest and strength for the
long tramp of more than 200 miles, which now lay
between them and their homes. Accordingly, once
safely across the river, we procured corn meal and, I
think, some bacon, from a family near the way, and
seeking a retired and sheltered place among the hills,
where we might sleep undisturbed by any passing foe,
we proceeded to cook the food, and eat of our frugal
Having partaken of our corn-pone and broiled mid-
dling, the first tolerably full dinner we had enjoyed
in more than a week, we made nice, soft berths of the
forest leaves, and spreading our long-used and tattered
blankets, we passed the night of April 9th with nothing
to disturb our sleep or dreams, if dreams we had.
It was a lonely woodland glen, shaded by oak and
chestnut trees, nestled cozily down amidst the rugged
hills of Amherst county, where our little party of seven
Under the Stars and Bars 267
passed that first night after the sorrowful close at Ap-
pomattox. We slept well, for we greatly needed sleep,
but if dreams we had, they must have been, like our
hearts, full of sorrow and sadness. Amherst county
is a semi-mountainous section, wild and rugged like
most other parts of the Piedmont country, a land where
nature has been fairly lavish with her splendors; and
I opine that many a mountain nook or dell might be
found there, wherein some modern Rob Roy might
find a safe retreat, and ply his vocation without fear
of capture. The artist, the poet, or the novelist, might
find there a thousand inspiring subjects for his skill
to portray. The very coloring of each landscape seems
veiled in the silken fringe of romance; and to one
soldier boy present on this occasion, if fond memory
had not just then presented to his vision the sacred al-
lurements and tender ties of old Surry, in most be-
witching guise, I verily believe he would have been
content no further to go, but would have found there a
home and resting-place forever.
Early on the morning of the 10th, our little party,
refreshed and stronger, turned our faces eastward and
set out to measure the footsteps, one by one, that sepa-
rated us from the "home-place of our hearts." Deter-
mined, if we could possibly help it," never to be carried
to a Northern prison, it was our aim, by passing
through an unfrequented part of the State, to avoid
contact with the Federals, and so escape capture. It
fell to the writer to act as guide for the party. It is
268 Under the Stars and Bars
the experiences of this small squad only that are related
in this section. It consisted of Lieutenant W. W. Fore-
man, George C. Holmes, Bird Harvey, W. Holt Berry-
man, John A. Davis, Thomas Williams and B. W. Jones.
We found the people along our route to be obliging
and hospitable, kindly supplying us with such food as
they had to spare, directing us on our way, and giving
us shelter at night. But the news of the surrender
fell upon them with stunning effect. They had hoped
for better things, after all the sacrifices that they had
made, and it was with doubt and uncertainty that
they looked now upon the future. What would be the
post-bellum status to them? We could not tell them.
All that we knew was that the conditions of the armis-
tice were liberal.
How fortunate for all of us, then, was it that none
could lift the veil that concealed beneath its lurid and
slimy folds the horrors, wrongs and humiliations of the
decade, now known as the miserable "reconstruction
days" — the decade of the carpet-bagger, the renegade,
and the "gentleman of color."
By the night of the 10th, we had reached Norwood, in
Nelson county, where the kind proprietor gave us a good
supper and a comfortable house where to sleep. Nor-
wood is, or was then, a fine place, beautifully located on
a mountain ridge, fit haunt for the muses or the litera-
teuer — and the memory of one comfortable night spent
there in April, 1865, will long retain its hold upon the
■ V r3
« 5 -y
.5 c S
O fc" 4)
!>* *^ **
P« SJ *g
a, S °
■ u en
"£ 1 J
05 " t»
h n ki
o .5* a _:
5 te «
o ° e
o _ «
w, s y
2 o 5
*S *^ *
V/ 1 - W
Under the Stars and Bars 269
The next day we reached and crossed Albemarle
county, following the towpath of the James River
Canal for many miles. This county was the home of
the men of Captain Rives' s Battery, but we met not a
single one of them, though they all might have been
safely home by that time.
At Scottsville, in the southeastern corner of that
county, we came upon the serpent trail of Sheridan's
vandal horde as they came down from the Valley of
Virginia in March, 1865, passing by Charlottesville
and striking the Canal first at this place. The whole
village was one scene of ruin and devastation, private
and public property alike having gone down before the
devouring flame. Every factory, shop, mill and store
was burned, the locks of the Canal dismantled, and the
records and books torn and scattered around. The
little town lay in its blackened pall like a mourner
weeping under the willow trees. It was thus they con-
quered us. Upon Sheridan's gang the shame and
infamy of this mode of warfare must rest as a perpetual
disgrace upon them. ISTo Veteran can ever forget these
things, if he would. Following the line of the Canal
from this point to Columbia, and beyond, their work
of hate and extermination went on with ruthless hand,
destroying mills, fences, locks, bridges, homes, crops,
stocks and supplies, without mercy, without shame!
Is it wrong that I should speak of these things here ?
that I should call up again the mode of the black-handed
invaded, who subdued with the torch and flame those
270 Under the Stars and Bars
whom lie could not conquer in battle ? Nay, but I will
speak — not to stir those olden hates again, but that the
future historian may know all the truth — but that the
sons may know how the fathers were despoiled and their
progenitors impoverished. To these sons we leave thy
At Scottsville we took the road by Central Plains to
Palmyra and beyond, and tarried for the night with a
Kev. Mr. Fox, a Baptist minister, I believe, who re-
ceived us very kindly, supplied our wants in a most
liberal manner, and gave us full directions for the
journey the next day. I shall ever remember his kind-
ness to us with gratitude. * And if, by any chance, this
book should fall into the hands of any person to whom
the family is known, I beg them to again express to any
survivor thereof, our thanks for the Christian hospi-
tality shown a party of seven ex-Confederates, on the
night of April 12, 1865.
The next day we crossed Goochland and entered Han-
over county, and passing on, without incident or adven-
ture, by Saturday evening, the 15th, had reached the
vicinity of Mechanicsville, a few miles north of Rich-
mond. Knowing, of course, that the Federals were
about that place in full force, we passed the night in a
sheltered forest, not caring to sleep in any house, lest
some one should betray us, and we should be captured,
On the 16th we proceeded on our way around Rich-
mond by the east, passing Mechanicsville in time to
Under the Stars and Bars 271
escape a train-load of Federals, and on down by the
battlefields of Cold Harbor, and along the country on
the eastern side of the Chickahominy, by scenes familiar
enough to us, and over ground made famous by the
events of "war. The traces of war were abundant
enough — blackened ruins, earthworks, forests destroyed,
bridges, mills and homes burned.
Families were few and far between, but at night
we found lodging with a Mr. Christian, an educator,
who had taught school at Surry Court House prior
to the war. We> began to feel like we were getting
among home people once more. And I believe our
accidental stop there proved a treat to him, inasmuch
as it revived his recollections of the people of Surry
during his sojourn among them. We felt as if we
could almost sniff the Surry air from his place.
Up to the present time our party had remained in-
tact. But on procuring a canoe on the Chickahominy
the next morning, two of the boys, George C. Holmes
and Thomas Williams, got into it, with the view of
descending the stream to Windsor Shade, a mile or
two below, where we designed procuring a larger boat,
in which the whole party might descend the river.
Windsor Shade, a small hamlet at that time, is at
the head of navigation on the river, and from that
place up, the stream is a mere swamp, filled with
cypress timber. Unfortunately for the two boys in
the boat, the stream was found to be so choked with
logs and fallen timber, that they could not make their
272 Under the Stars and Bars
way down. And after trying some time in vain to do
so, and losing precious time, they finally went ashore
and continued the walk down to the rendezvous, only
to find that the rest of us had departed. Not doubting
but they would get along safely and without difficulty,
and that they would soon overtake us in their boat
(as we designed to proceed slowly until they came up),
we had left some time before they arrived.
On this account, and being unable to procure another
boat at the place, the boys gave up, and finally pro-
ceeded to Richmond and became prisoners. They were
sent to Point Lookout, where they found several other
men of the S. L. A., but were held some months before
being released and sent home. It was the source of
much regret to the rest of the party that they should
have thus become separated from us. We kept a watch
for them all that day and the next, hoping that they
would finaly overtake us. But we saw them no more
until long months afterward.
Once during that day, we stopped at a house imme-
diately on the river side, where a family resided. But
we saw few signs of life, and very few persons any-
where along the river. Our journey down was made
with tolerable ease, the boys taking turns at rowing.
The country along the river was, at that time, un-
promising enough. No signs of labor, or scarcely of
human life. Ruins marked the site of many a once
pleasant home, and while the river is a large and nav-
igable stream, and the country one of fine possibilities,
Under the Stars and Bars 273
at that date, of course, it was deserted and desolate, for
there, too, the destroying hand of the Huns and Van-
dals had been.
As we were on the water, and had only to keep in
midstream and row, we deemed it best, at nightfall, to
continue on our way, hoping to reach the mouth of the
river and cross the James before daylight. But on
arriving in sight of the James, we discovered that gun-
boats were stationed all along the river, about a mile
apart, as if they were guarding the stream. It was then
too near daybreak for us to venture on the trip across,
and as there would be no possibility of crossing by day-
light, we concluded to go ashore, and wait for darkness
the following night.
It was a long and weary day to us, and we waited and
viewed the situation and formed our plans and calcu-
lated on the chances of reaching the coveted goal as
soon as friendly night should fall again. Only three
miles between us and our homeland, but doomed to
wait long hours before we might attempt to reach it!
Having almost reached the end, having arrived in sight
of home, it would never do to fail now. We would be
patient and wait.
Concealing our boat, we went ashore and tarried
around while the slow-footed hours paced by. Once we
ventured up to a farm house and learned that the place
was known as Sandy Point. We found only colored
people, but these some of the better class of the old
274 Under the Stars and Bars
regime. They gave us some bacon and bread, which
was our only meal that day, and then we returned, to
keep a watchful eye on our boat.
Darkness came at last. Wrapping our oars, to pre-
vent making a noise in the row-locks, we set out to
thread our way carefully and silently across the James.
The war-ships, with their lights, looked as if they had
got nearer together, and we were obliged to pass fear-
fully near to one of them. But we kept on, making all
the speed we could.
And, at last, our little craft grated upon the sands of
old Surry shore! and all the gunboats on the James
could not have stayed us then ! The hearts of five ex-
Confederates beat lighter and freer than they had done
for many a day before. We were on our native soil, and
a single day more would bear each of us to our respec-
But we were yet too far up the river, and had still
to work our way as cautiously as we could around the
long point known as Swan's Point Bar, before we could
reach Cobham landing, the place where we designed
Billy Holt, who knew the river well, was our pilot,
and, in due time, and without mishap, we reached the
landing place, and our feet pressed the friendly soil of
our native heath again !
Does any one suppose that gratitude to Almighty
God did not swell within our hearts, for our delivery
from all the dangers of the way? for leading us safely
Under the Stars and Bars 275
on to the end ? N^y, but we "could have knelt and
kissed the soil at our feet, in very thankfulness of heart.
After the many sad- events and dangers of the past
month — yea, of the past four years — forgetting all our
long marches, toils, privations, sufferings and changes
that we had experienced, we devoutly thanked the God
of heaven that we had arrived safely at home again —
adored His holy name that we had escaped capture,
wounds, death — had been preserved through all the dan-
gers incident to war, and were favored to stand again
upon our native soil. Truly could we say:
"Through many dangers, toils and pains
Our weary feet have come;
'Twas Grace that guarded all the way,
And Grace that led us home"
This was Tuesday night, April 18th, 1865, just nine
days from Appomattox, having tramped more than 200
miles in about eight days, as we tarried all of 18th at
Sandy Point, in Charles City county.
But where are all of our late companions and com-
rades in arms \ those men from whom we parted nine
days ago ? Have any of them arrived at home ? Xo.
All of them have surrendered. Some are held at Peters-
burg or at City Point ; some are on their way by dif-
ferent routes homeward ; and others have been sent
on to Point Lookout, or Fortress Monroe, to suffer the
humiliating experiences of imprisonment for many long
276 Under the Stars and Bars
weeks. It was this that we feared and that made us
so resolved to thread our way homeward without falling
into the hands of the foe, and thus of being delayed in-
definitely, until it might suit the convenience of the
Federals to permit us to proceed onward. Our party is
the first to reach home — the longer distance, but the
shortest trip. And we have had no experience with
Yankee blackguard or negro insolence! This alone is
worth all the pains the longer way has cost us.
But alas ! alas ! how different is the result from what
we fondly hoped it would be! from that for which we
fought and believed would be! The Southern Con-
federacy lies prostrate at the feet of her despoilers.
They wore us out by attrition and the torch. What a
gloom, a foreboding, a sadness, rests over the land!
Who can tell, as yet, but that a worse disaster than de-
feat awaits us. Shadows seem to lower everywhere.
All is despondency, apprehension, fear. There is no
life, but a stupor, a dazed unrest, a silent looking about
for even a trace of the silver lining on the dark cloud.
Silver lining? Is there any — can there be any to
such a storm-burst as this ? How will the Federals
regard us in the coming years? We can only await
and see what the future will bring, whether magna-
nimity or oppression.
Such were the thoughts that came to us, half spoken,
half unuttered, as, on the next day, we stood awhile
Under the Stars and Bars 277
together on the Court House green, ere we separated to
seek our respective homes.
"God rules. We will trust Him," whispers one to
the rest. And with this comforting hope animating
us, we clasp hands and part.
And here ends my Recollections of the war. I have
told the story of the Surry Light Artillery as I re-
member it. I believe that my comrades who yet sur-
vive will find that it is a truthful and, in the main, a
pretty full account of the scenes, events and dangers
through which we passed during those memorable
years in which the Southern States were engaged in a
desperate struggle for their separate independence. I
have aimed to emphasize the right of a free people, to
resist with arms and to the death, the invasion of their
native lantl. I have sought to put on record just what
the men of Surry and the surrounding counties fought
for — that it was not, as many seem yet to suppose, to
perpetuate the institution of negro slavery, but it teas
to maintain the sovereign liberty, the supreme authority
of each separate State to govern and control its own
domestic affairs according to the will of its own free
State Rights according to the copy of the old Consti-
tution, and personal liberty as guaranteed by that docu-
ment, were the issues involved in that war.
And when Virginia, in the exercise of her sovereign
right, withdrew from the Union on April 17, 1801 ; and
278 Under the Stars and Bars
when, shortly afterward, at various points, an armed
soldiery crossed the borders of the State, with the ex-
pressed purpose of coercing her people into submission
to Northern tyranny — then the men of Surry saw it
was time to confront the invaders of their State with
arms in their hands, and fight for their homes and their
Were they wrong? What though the issue of the
contest went against them, and they failed for the time
being? While right is right, and truth is truth, the
principle remains inviolable. To the calmer judgment
of posterity I will appeal for the justice of our course.
Tis well that War's hot bolts soon speed —
That Mercy's hand its wrath will screen,
And haste to hide the hearts that bleed
Beneath the olive branch of green.
Under the Stars and Bars 279
THE SHADOW ON THE WALL.
"Coming events cast their shadows before them."
The following account of his experiences with a por-
tion of the wagon < trains, on the retrograde from Rich-
mond, written by our comrade, Sergeant S. M. Wil-
liams, presents a graphic picture of things that occurred
on a different road from that over which the artillery
passed. It is interesting as showing that, while the
supply trains are an essential part of the service, yet
an army may be greatly encumbered and hindred by
its own baggage.
But these reminiscences reveal another, and very
significant phase, for which I was not prepared at so
early a stage in our post-bellum history. They show
how the hand of the freebooter and petty pilferer, the
low sneak and cowardly robber, had already begun that
despicable trade that became so common and wide-
spread over the South during the first decade just after
the close of the war. These detestable hangers-on and
camp-followers must have been pretty numerous in the
Northern armies. Here, not three days after the close
of hostility, we find the type and forerunners of that
large class of sharks, robbers, thieves, oppressors and
insulters that grew into such an army of despoilers and
280 Under the Stars and Bars
vampires during the next ten years. They were the avant
couriers of the carpetbagger and his allies, that figured
so largely in politics a few years later.
But, in fact, there is good reason to believe that these
thugs and thieves had been constant attendants of the
Federal armies everywhere, from the first outbreak of
the war. They attended the armies in order to rob and
pillage the people along the line of march. And while
the torch of the invader was busy, the hand of these
thugs was busier still.
Between the torch of the invader and the robberies
of that caravan of carrion crows that swooped down on
the South during the days of military misrule and
political oppression, is it any wonder that our people
became impoverished almost beyond the hope of re-
covery ? Indeed the wonder is that anything was left
upon which to build anew the material prosperity of
The robbers that were following Grant's army at first
soon became bold enough to spread out over the country
in small gangs, to seize upon whatever of value that
they could find.
And so these reminiscences of Sergeant Williams re-
veal "the shadow on the wall," the hand of the despoilers
of the South, that has been so vividly delineated by the
masterly pen of Thomas Dixon and others. It is out
of our province to go further in this painful story. It
was only that my readers should not fail to notice this
significant point in this paper of my comrade, that I
have said this much about it.
Under the Stars and Bars 281
Of S. M. Williams, Quartermaster-Sergeant of the Surry Light
Artillery, on the march from Richmond to Appomattox,
Breaking camp on the Nine-mile road, below Rich-
mond, April 3d, 1865, we started for Amelia Court
House. Passing over a part of Powhatan county with-
out interruption by any hostilities, we had no sooner
crossed the Appomattox into Amelia, than a general
stampede to the rear began, it being reported that the
enemy was in our front. Soon the march was resumed
when, suddenly, sharp fighting began on our left but
a little way off. The firing did not continue long, but
on resuming our march, and coming to another road, we
found the way filled with army wagons as far as we
could see. Not desiring to wait for the whole train to
pass us before we joined in the line, I instructed the
drivers to keep close together and lay on whip and force
their way into the line, regardless of consequences.
This they did, and we succeeded in getting in, leaving
the man that we had headed off very furious and utter-
ing a lot of things that I am sure he never learned from
his Sunday-school lessons.
Continuing, our march led us by the way of Farm-
ville, near which place we camped for the night. Next
morning Alajor Gary gave me some bacon for the
Company, and told me that General Gary could tell
282 Under the Stars and Bars
me where to find the Company. But on applying to
General Gary for the information, he was not able to
By the time I had returned to the wagons, a battle
began near us, and we got the wagon train off as quickly
as possible. On the evening before the surrender, we
stopped for a rest. But soon Major Maulding in-
structed the drivers to hitch the team with as little
noise as possible, and told me that we were surrounded,
but we would make our escape if we could.
We moved off a little way, and then turned about and
went about the same distance in another disrection. And
so we continued, turning and going all night. But,
behold! at sunrise we had not even gotten into the
proper road. We had been going in a circle all night.
This was Sunday morning, April 9th, and in a short
time we were informed that General Lee had capitu-
lated. We remained at the same place until Wednesday
morning, when we got our paroles, signed by Dr. J. B.
Coakley, and started for home. On our way to Farm-
ville, we noticed three men following us, and soon they
passed us and were out of sight. But in a short time
we again saw them coming up from the rear, as before.
By this we were convinced that they meant no good.
Soon they passed by once more.
In Farmville, while conversing with a Union soldier,
another came up and made some derogatory remarks
about us. But the first man told him that we were
paroled prisoners, and no one but a scoimdrel would
Under the Stars and Bars 283
attempt to insult us. The other then moved off, and our
friend remarked that there were many such fellows in
the army, but they were of no account, and only a dis-
grace to it.
At Burkeville I went to the Provost Marshal to get
rations for my squad. I found him in a wrangle with
a citizen, and waited awhile for him to cool off. On
approaching him, he at once gave me an order for the
rations, and informed me where to find the Commissary.
While at the provision department, the officer in
charge came up and began to converse with me. At last
he inquired, ''Where will you camp to-night?" I told
him I did not know, but we wished to get as far toward
home as we could. He said that was right, but when
we stopped, to go well away from the road, so that our
fire would not be seen by any one travelling the road.
And added that there were robbers following the army,
and if they found us, we would be robbed, and perhaps
We travelled late and then went in camp for the
night, and rested without interruption until morning.
The next day, in the afternoon, we reached our homes,
thus ending our military career.
S. M. Williams.
I do not recall the names of all the men of our Com-
pany that were with me. Thomas H. Tynes and R. M.
J. Collier were the drivers. And I think George W.
Moody and William J. Presson were two. John Un-
derwood came to us on the morning of the surrender.
S. M. W.
284 Under the Stars and Bars
Of Dr. Joseph N. Jones, of Surry, while a prisoner of war.
The following notes, written by Dr. Joseph N. Jones,
of Surry county, relating his arrest in Isle of Wight
county, and his imprisonment, first at Bermuda Hun-
dred, and subsequently at Fortress Monroe and Point
Lookout, having come into my hands, and believing that
Doctor Jones would sanction their publication, were he
living, I have inserted them here.
Doctor Jones was well known to many of the citizens
of Surry and Isle of Wight, as a gentleman after the
highest type of the old regime, and these notes, while
written with no view, perhaps, to subsequent publica-
tion, were doubtless intended for preservation. They
were inscribed upon the blank leaves of a Bible, as if
he designed them to escape oblivion. Presenting, as
they do, a vivid picture of the boorish insolence of many
among the subalterns in the Federal service, and as
showing something of the petty tyrannies that Southern
prisoners had to endure, the paper forms an interesting
chapter in the history of the prison service of the war.
As the men of the S. L. A. had a considerable ac-
quaintance with Butler's command, while he reigned at
Bermuda, this account of the treatment that Doctor
Jones received at his headquarters will be doubly in-
teresting to them:
Under the Stars and Bars 285
"On the 17th of August, 1864, about daybreak, I
was arrested at the residence of Mr. John M. Cawson,
in Isle of Wight county, together with himself and his
son, .John, by a squad of Yankees from a gunboat com-
manded by a Captain Fitch. At the same time, they
captured some Confederate scouts stationed in the
neighborhood, iSTat. Gammel, James Curry and George
Davis. The latter they wounded in the leg, and he sub-
sequently died of his wound.
We were taken to the headquarters of General B. F.
Butler, near Bermuda Hundred, where I remained
until the first of October, in the hands of Lieutenant
H. H. Davenport, Provost Marshal. Whilst there I
was obliged to live in a most filthy condition, had no
change of clothing — and, worse than all, was subject
to many indignities from that comtemptible tool of
General Butler, the said Davenport. He took the
greatest delight in the abuse of prisoners under his
charge, a sure characteristic of the poltroon, too cow-
ardly to face a chivalrous foe in honorable combat. He
was a good specimen of the Xew England pseudo puri-
tan, a comtemptible, mean, cowardly, petty tyrant.
Neither was youth or age a protection against the
malevolence of this dastard wretch.
From Bermuda Hundred I was transferred to Camp
Hamilton, a Yankee Bastile near Fortress Monroe —
with other Confederates, among Yankee animals and
negroes — the latter much the more decent.
Here I was treated kindly by the officer in command,
and particularly by Captain Blake, of Pennsylvania,
286 Under the Stars and Bars
Captain of the Guard. On the 15th of October I was
transferred to the military prison at Point Lookout.
Dr. John Thompson, Post Surgeon, gave me, on the
day of my arrival, the position of surgeon in the prison
hospital, Ward No. 8, which I held during the re-
mainder of my imprisonment. Here I was treated
with kindness and respect, both by Federals and Con-
federates, the latter numbering, at one time, more than
twenty thousand men. I hope I was of some little
service in relieving the sufferings of my fellow-pris-
oners. About eight thousand of them died at this
prison during the war.
The officers of this prison were generally kind to
the prisoners, but they were treated badly by the negro
guard placed over them. Several prisoners were shot
by them, some killed, without the slightest provocation.
And, so far as I know, none of them were ever pun-
ished for it.
Major Brady, Provost Marshal, was regarded as
good-natured. He was kind in his manner to the pris-
oners. Captain Barnes, his assistant, was kind and
courteous. Doctor Thompson had all the instincts of a
gentleman, was polite to all, but was as cold and frigid
as the bleak hills of his Xew England home.
The most pleasant episode in my prison life was,
when looking about for a friend to assist me, after my
arrival at Point Lookout, I received very unexpectedly
a most kind note from a lady I had never seen or heard
of, Miss Lou F. Whiting, of Hampton, Va., prof-
Under the Stars and Bars 287
fering assistance, commencing a correspondence which
continued for some time. Her letters solaced me very
On the 2d of June, 1865, I was released from prison,
and on the evening of the 3d arrived at the home of my
old friend, George H. Crump, near Chuckatuck. I was
accompanied by Dr. Samuel Wilson, of Surry.
J. 28T. Jones.
388 Under the Stars and Bars
Of Pembrook D. Gwaltney, a member of the Surry Light Ar-
tillery, detailed a.s Master Armorer, for the 2d Corp9, Army
of Northern Virginia.
"I joined the S. L. A. sometime in July, 1862, before
the Sharpsburg fight. After that I was detailed, by
order of Colonel Baldwin, Chief of Ordnance, Army of
Northern Virginia, and ordered to Winchester, Ya., to
establish a repair shop there. When I reached Win-
chester, I found that our army had re-crossed the Po-
tomac, and that the Federal army was marching towards
Winchester, and I remained there only two or three
"I was then ordered to Staunton, and established a
shop there for the repair of arms, and remained there
two or three months. Was then ordered to Hanover
Junction, under the command of Colonel William Allen,
Chief of Ordnance of the 2d Corps, and established a
shop at Hanover Junction, which did repairs for the
army lying around Fredericksburg. From that place
I was transferred to Guinea Station, and was there
when the battle of Chancellorsville was fought. I re-
mained at Guinea Station until the 2d Corps was
moved, and I continued with the Second Corps, under
Colonel William Allen, until the battle of Waynesboro,
Under the Stars and Bars 289
when General Early's army was dispersed or captured.
I then made my way to Richmond, and rejoined the
S. L. A., and started with it to Appomattox. After-
wards, when Colonel Lightfoot refused to surrender, I
was captured and sent to Newport News. Was released
on July 2d, 1865, and reached my home July 4th, not
having seen any member of my family for more than
two and a half years.
"P. D. GWAI/TNEY."
290 Under the Stars and Bars
The following . is a list of our comrades who died during the
progress of the war, either of sickness or of wounds received
Whitfield Goodrich, of pneumonia, at Camp Pem-
berton, March 10, 1862. Thomas J. Rowell, of con-
gestive chill, at Benn's church, May, 1862. Josiah Bell,
Ira O. Crenshaw, Edward L. Collier, Eobert A. Col-
lier, John W. Edwards, Anson Goodrich, at hospital
in Petersburg, June- July, 1862. Richard Moring, in
Camp near Walthall Junction, July, 1862. John W.
Presson, at home, in 1863. Samuel A. Moody, at home,
1863. J. Thomas Brown, of small-pox, at hospital in
Richmond, in 1864. Josiah Gwaltney, July, 1S64.
Zachariah Holland, June, 1864. James Pond, July,
1864. Edward W. Wright, July, 1864. John A. Deal,
killed at Upperville, 1863. Total, 17.
The following members have died since the close of
Archibald R. Atkins, at his home, in Isle of Wight,
in 1897. William T. Atkins, Isle of Wight, 1894 or
'95. Henry Ambros, time and place not known.
Under the Stars and Bars 291
James T. Bailey, at his home in Surry, August 13,
1903. Joseph W. Bailey, home in Surry, June 17,
1906. Calvin Baker, home in Isle of Wight, May 4,
1905. James Baker, home in Isle of Wight, about
1866. William R. Barham, home in Norfolk, May
17, 1908. John W. Barlow, home in Isle of Wight, in
1898. William O. Barlow, home in Isle of Wight, No-
vember 5, 1906. Decatur Barlow, home in Isle of
Wight, 1894. T. Boiling Bell, home in Isle of Wight,
February 26, 1904. Edwin E. Bell, home in Isle of
Wight, December, 1905. William Joe Bell, Surry,
about 1867 or '68. Samuel D. Bell, Norfolk, February
19, 1908. George A. Bell, Surry, 1866 or '67. J.
Nicholas Bell, Surry, soon after the war. Theophilus
J. Berryman, time and place not known. John R.
Berryman, Surry, about 1867. A. Nicholas Brown,
Surry, soon after the war. Frank N. Carrington, Char-
lotte county, about 1874. Roger Casey, home in Surry,
1866. Thomas T. Cockes, Surry, December, 23, 1902.
Abner B. Cofer, home in Surry, soon after the war.
William A. Clayton, Surry, 1866. William Crocker,
Isle of Wight, soon after the war. R. M. J. Collier,
Surry, 1898. John A. Davis, Surry, soon after the
war. George W. Dean, Isle of Wight, soon after the
war. Hezekiah Delk, in Surry, February, 1899. James
T. Deuel, home in Surry, soon after after war. W.
W. Foreman, home in San Angelo, Texas, April 30/
1902. James Gay, Surry, soon after the war. Milton
H. Gray, Isle of Wight, about 1867. Joseph Garon,
292 Under the Stars and Bars
time and place unknown. Jos. Glover, Surry, soon after
the war. Lewis Glover, Surry, a few years after the war.
Benjamin F. Gwaltney, home in Surry, about 1892 or
'93. John A. Gwaltney, home in Surry, May 14,
1904. James D. Hankins, killed in the spring of
1866. James Hatchell, Surry, about 1872 or '73.
J. Thomas Harris, Surry, a few years after the war.
John T. Harris, Surry, shortly after the war. George
M. Hargrave, home in Surry, about 1893 or '94.
Richard A. Hargrave, home in Southampton, March,
1898. Bird Harvey, in Petersburg, date not known.
Edmund S. Holleman, at Chapoax, Surry, about 1873.
George C. Holmes, home in Southampton, October 29,
1907. William S. Johnson, Surry, shortly after the
war. Randolph Johnson, Surry, shortly after the war.
Boiling T. Jones, home in Surry, February 9, 1908.
Isaac G. Jones, Surry, March 11, 1893. Wiley Jones,
jSTansemond, soon after the war. Robert H. Jones,
home in Surry, July 22, 18S0. John L. Judkins, Wel-
don, K. C, October 2, 1905. James Judkins, Surry, a
few years after the war. Julian Judkins, Isle of Wight,
shortly after the war. R. P. Q. Judkins, Surry, several
years after the war. James King and Joseph King,
Surry, time unknown. Joseph R. Kea, Isle of Wight,
shortly after the war. John R. Kea, home in Surry,
soon after the war. Luther J. Little, home in Sussex,
about 1894. William E. Long, time and place un-
known. William J. Lewis, home in Nansemond,
shortly after the war. Thomas H. Mitchell, Surry,
Under the Stars and Bars 293
time not known. Christopher Mitchell, Surry, date
uncertain. William B. Moore, Surry, 1867 or '68.
William H. Oliver, time and place not known. Henry
Peters, Baltimore, June, 1902. Joseph Pitman, Surry,
about 1866. Noah B. Pond, home in Surry, shortly
after the war. William J. Presson, Isle of Wight,
January, 1901. Joel J. Presson, home in Southampton,
April 25, 1906. Charles A. Price, Surry, about 1890.
Asa Rogers, Surry, several years after the war. Gil-
bert W. Rogers, Isle of Wight, June 11, 1907. Henry
W. Rogers, Surry, June 12, 1907. J. Henry Rowell,
Surry, soon after the war. Thomas W. Ruffin, time
and place uncertain. John Ruffin, time and place un-
certain. Mallory Shields, Hampton, Va., shortly after
the war. James 1ST. Spratley, Surry, soon after the war.
Julian A. Stuart, home in Surry, March 19, 1903.
Benton D. Thomas, home in Norfolk, April 13, 1907.
Lewis L. Turner, Southampton, July, 1900. W. Henry
Turner, Isle of Wight, time uncertain. James T.
Turner, Isle of Wight, time uncertain. Thomas H.
Tynes, home in Surry, July 17, 1900. John Under-
wood, Surry, shortly after the war. James S. Warren,
home in Surry, a few years after the war. Samuel D.
Warren, Surry, a few years after the war. Joel J.
Whitley, home in Newport News, April 14, 1898.
Linnaeus W. White, Surry, several years after the
war. Thomas H. Williams, Prince George coimty,
shortly after the war. " Thomas Williams, Surry, shortly
after the war. Total, 96.
294 Under the Stars and Bars
Besides these, it is uncertain whether the following
are living or dead:
George W. Armistead, Alexander Baker, W. John
Edwards, John P. Goodson, Beverly W. Irving, Marion
Messersmith, James C. Underwood, George Waggoner,
Wynn. Total, 9.
'The grave's grim halls are never full —
Death's harvest never ends!
And fast the few survivors turn,
To greet their former friends."
Under the Stars and Bars 295
LIST OF SURVIVORS.
The following members of the S. L. A. were known to be living
at the time of our last reunion, August 13, 1908:
James S. Avery, Joseph H. Barham, Junius H. Bar-
low, John H. Bell, Jacob E. Bell, William T. Bell,
Joseph R. Berryman, W. Holt Berryman, Fielding A,
Coakley, Littleton M. Cockes, Peter F. Crocker, Mat-
thew A. Delk, B. Hardy Delk, Thomas N". Edwards, J.
Decatur Edwards, Edward E. Edwards, Junius Ellis,
W. H. Elliott, R. Fuller Farrar, Junius Gray, P. D.
Gwaltney, John Hankins, William E. Harris, William
E. James, Robert James, Thomas A. James, B. W.
Jones, B. 0. Judkins, James T. Latimer, William H.
Little, J. Thomas Little, James M. Lewis, James W.
Moody, George W. Moody, E. H. McGuriman, William
R. Mathews, James N. Mathews, John T. Nelms,
Joseph T. Price, John F. Ramsey, Charles C. Richard-
son, Henry C. Roberts, George A. Rowell, P. H. Rowell,
R. R. Savedge, C. Travis Savedge, George A. Savedge,
James T. Savedge, John L. Seward, Frank R. Seward,
John F. Scott, Edwin S. Spratley, Robert C. Thomp-
son, James M. Turner, Serveitus M. Williams. Total,
54. Of these, George A. Rowell died May 20, 1909,
and E. II. McGuriman, June 4, 1909.
296 Under the Stars and Bars
Of the original Company of 54 men, who went out
from Surry Court House June 22, 1861, only the fol-
lowing are now living:
John H. Bell, Joseph R. Berryman, Littleton M.
Cockes, B. H. Delk, William E. James, B. W. Jones,
W. H. Little, James W. Moody, H. C. Eoberts, P. H,
Rowell, R. R. Savedge, E. S. Spratley, John L. Seward,
R. C. Thompson. Total, 14.
"A thin and broken rank, we stand,
With mute and bodeful gaze;
While few and feebler grows the band
So strong in otber days.
"How Friendship's eye, by silent walls,
Turns back in tearful mood,
To find, alas! deserted halls
Where once our comrades stood."
And now, nothing more remains to be said, except to
crave the indulgence of my readers for the many defects
of style, and possible inaccuracies, that, I fear, are but
too evident in the course of this simple recital of what
one Company of soldiers did and endured in the war
between the States. Had I tarried until I could have
written a perfect history, the book would never have
seen the light. r
I feel, too, that I should thank, in some befitting
terms, those of my comrades who have enabled me to
print the book at all. It was only by the earnest and
untiring efforts of a few among them that the work
has been pushed to completion. Foremost among these
Under the Stars and Bars 297
were my friends and comrades, Joseph H. Barham and
Charles C. Richardson, to whose active and untiring
efforts I am greatly indebted. And to all others, in and
out of the Company, my warm thanks are hereby ten-
dered for the generous aid and encouragement so kindly
extended. I would fain name them all.
Here, then, I lay the pen aside, to await what recep-
tion may be accorded the simple story I have essayed
to tell. The history of the Surry Artillery as a mili-
tary organization, ends, of course, with the close
of the war in Virginia. From that time its broken
fragments, scattered to their respective homes over a
large part of the State, seldom saw or heard of each
other, and soon became almost as strangers again.
Many, in fact, the greater part, have never met since
that direful, inglorious day.
But the few survivors, true to the friendships born
of the trials, sufferings and tears of those four undying
years, will not cease to keep green the names and deeds
of each one. While a single one of them lingers here,
the immortelle and cypress shall flourish by the fallen,
and over each new-made grave we will inscribe the
hopeful prayer :
"Sit tibi terra levis."