The 13th after First Manassas

Private Henley of Co. K (H), The Spartan Band, was chosen for picket that night [July 21] on the battlefield “though by good fortune I was not required to stand.”

They were camped in the open several miles from where they began their charge on Sunday afternoon. Their good fortune continued as some, armed at home with old smoothbore flint-lock rifles altered for percussion caps, picked up new rifled Union “Minie muskets” abandoned on the field. Then the rains began.

“Monday [July 22],” wrote Hill, the quartermaster clerk. “Commenced raining last night and continued all day.”

They had nothing to eat until that evening, when wagons arrived “with crackers and bacon,” Henley said. During the day they had used fence rails to build fires and erect shelters “covered with straw carried nearly a mile through muddy fields.”

The knapsacks they had been ordered to leave behind—near Longstreet’s position miles away on the Confederate right—were soon discovered to have been stolen, probably by other Rebels who thought they belonged to Union soldiers. The contents, the extra clothes, blankets, quilts and their other possessions from home were shredded and strewn about.

They were cheered by a visit from President Davis and Gen. Beauregard. In a short speech, Davis complimented their steadfastness and added: “When powder and ball fail, give them the cold steel.”

“We stayed there till Wednesday evening…and went to [The Stone Bridge], where they fought the Thursday [July 18] before,” Private Wallace of Co. A (B), The Winston Guards, wrote. “The next morning, we drilled a little and that evening, which was Friday, they put me to guard the hospital. When I am on guard I can’t hear nothing but the groans of the wounded… The most of them is Yankees. One is a colonel and he says if he ever gits back he will be damned if he don’t try us again. He says that we can’t whip them everytime. That he says we whipped them this time but he says that we can’t do it again, but I believe that we can do it everytime.”

It rained off and on. When it quit, the air was sultry. The camp stayed wet and muddy.

Regimental returns, according to McLean, showed 72 men, almost one company, already listed as ill. Hill recorded that an additional “large number of men are sick from exposure.”

Indeed, in what would be the beginning of a significant, killing outbreak, six men from Co. I (D), The Minutemen of Attala, were sent off to a hospital set up at Orange Court House with the measles.

About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
This entry was posted in Albert Wymer Henley Diary, Battles: First Manassas, Gen. James Longstreet, Jess N. McLean, Thomas David Wallace Diary, William H. Hill Diary and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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