Tin Soldier: Another Barksdale


Not at his most flattering, this tin representation of General B. and three of his 13th Infantry Regiment at Gettysburg. At least they got his bald top and long side hair right.

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New Brit site on the 13th at First Manassas

The messenger sent to General Longstreet returned and informed me that the General said there was a regiment in the pines to my left which had been ordered to report to him, and that I could take that regiment instead of the companies of my own, to save time and prevent the exposure of both to the fire of the enemy’s artillery in passing to and from Blackburn’s Ford. In this arrangement I readily concurred, and soon found, to my left in the pines, the 13th Mississippi Regiment under Colonel Barksdale, which had very recently arrived.

Lieutenant General Jubal Anderson Early C.S.A.: Autobiographical sketch and narrative of the War Between the States, with notes by Jubal Anderson Early

Worth a look.

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Another charging Barksdale


Seems unlikely Gen. B would lead a charge with his hat, as this painting by Western artist Gary Lynn Roberts has it. But there have been other fanciful notions about him. More troubling would be his rather short hair on the sides while thick on the top. Most contemporary remarks on his charge have his long white hair billowing, and we know he was bald on top without his toupee, which he was unlikely to have worn then, even if it would have stayed on.

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Reprise: The Journey: Kingsmill Wharf to Lee’s Mill

The Spartan Band diarist Albert Wymer Henley on Wednesday, April 9, 1862:

“About 4 p.m. we landed at ‘Kings Mills’ on the James River when under a drenching rain and in places nearly knee deep, we proceeded to march about 8 miles to Lebanon Church [near Lee’s Mill on the Warwick River] which we reached cold, wet and hungry at about 10 o’clock that night.”

Winston Guards diarist Thomas D. Wallace described the terrain as “low slash flat pine quicksand country…it sleeted and rained most of the night.”

Henley wrote the next day, Thursday:

“…many who were unable to keep up…did not reach here till [this] day. We built fires on our arrival but being in such uncomfortable condition we neither slept or rested.”

It was a far cry from what they had become used to in the green fields and warm cabins near Leesburg. Gart Johnson, a captain in the brigade’s 21st Mississippi Regiment recalled years later in Confederate Veteran magazine:

“….huddled on a steamer like cattle [we] took our way to the Peninsula. From the beautiful hills and fertile valleys, the crystal springs and clear, running streams, the fresh baker’s bread and clover fed beef, and the milk and honey of old Louden [sic], to the marshes and lagoons and brackish water of the Warwick! These, with the rancid bacon, the musty corn meal and rice, and the cool, damp atmosphere, made us realize what war was.”

Actually, the full realization hadn’t quite arrived, but it was on the way.

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A Very Jewish Civil War

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Up to now the only source for Jewish Confederate soldiers, besides considering surnames on rosters, has been attorney Simon Wolf’s 1895 The American Jew as Patriot, Soldier and Citizen, available here.

Altogether about 10,000 names: 7,000 Union and the rest Confederate. Of them, I found eight among the 13th’s infantrymen, though could match only five of them in McLean’s and Howell’s rosters.

Soon there may be more, as a National Archives project to identify all Jewish soldiers of the Civil War is underway. With records Wolf had no access to. Plans now are for everything, from written documents to photographs to be available free online in 2017.

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Another Look At Barksdale

“Forty-two years old, Barksdale was one of the Confederacy’s most inspirational brigadiers, and his brigade of big, rangy, straight-shooting Mississippians was second to none. Barksdale was a political general, and couldn’t be asked to achieve anything tactically sophisticated, but as a charismatic leader of a brigade of fellow Mississippians, he could work wonders in either attack or defense.”

More here in an interesting word portrait of the 13th Regiment’s original colonel.

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The ghost 13th at Nashville

The 13th’s battle flags certainly got around, at least one being captured at Knoxville in November 1863 and another possibly captured at Saylor’s Creek in 1865, though the latter is in dispute.

There’s no dispute, however, about a 13th battle flag being captured at Nashville in December of 1864. It wasn’t captured there because the 13th wasn’t there then, being in defensive entrenchments east of Richmond at the time.

And yet that’s what the federal Congressional Medal of Honor citation reads for Sergeant William Garrett of the 41st Ohio Regiment: “With several companions [he] dashed forward, the first to enter the enemy’s works, taking possession of 4 pieces of artillery and captured the flag of the 13th Mississippi Infantry (C.S.A.),” according to Find-A-Grave.

Either the citation writer got it wrong, or the Find-A-Grave copyist did, or there was a ghost 13th Mississippi Infantry Regiment at Nashville on Dec. 16, 1864. Boo!

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Reprise: Marching and Countermarching

Thursday, July 2, 1863, was clear and warm, according to Spartan Band diarist William H. Hill:

“General Lee brought all of his forces up this morning in front of the enemy. Both parties skirmished all the morning.”

Barksdale’s Brigade could hear the fighting to the east. But, camped at Marsh Creek along the Chambersburg Turnpike, east of the South Mountains, they were well west of Gettysburg. For them, it began as another day of hurry-up-and-wait.

“The slumbers of all were broken by drum beat and bugle call at sunrise,”J.S. McNeily wrote in 1903 for the Mississippi Historical Society, “and the column was promptly formed and headed toward Gettysburg…We reached the front at nine or ten o’clock…where the road intersected Seminary Ridge. We halted here an hour or more until the plan of battle was decided…”

Confederate veterans later and historians today argue whether Gen. Lee wanted a morning attack by Longstreet’s Corps (but his old War Horse inexplicably delayed), or if Lee himself delayed for unknown reasons, perhaps wanted to keep the Union off-balance.

Longstreet wrote in 1878 that “It was fully eleven o’clock when [Lee decided that Longstreet’s Corps would make the main attack on the extreme right]. We waited about forty minutes for Law’s brigade [of Hood’s Division] and then moved forward.”

Then there’s the problem of Longstreet’s approach march to his corps’s position on the field “one of the most difficult non-combat aspects of the Gettysburg campaign to reconstruct and to understand,” wrote historian Harry Pfanz in his Gettysburg, The Second Day:

“The facts of the matter seem to lie forever concealed by a lack of correct information engendered by personal conflicts and the failure of participants to report what they had done.”

Pfanz concluded that it “must not have begun before noon at the earliest.”

McLaws division, with Kershaw’s Brigade in the lead, followed by Barksdale’s Brigade, led the march to the battlefield. Hood’s division followed McLaws. They marched south down the west side of Herr Ridge and onward to Black Horse Tavern, at a good pace, according to 17th Regiment memoirist William Meshack Abernathy.

They halted when McLaws determined that if they continued they would be exposed to enemy view (and the Union Signal Corps communication flags) on Little Round Top mountain. He and a few mounted staff officers searched for an alternate route. Longstreet approved a countermarch.

“The time taken to cover the intervening space,” McNeily wrote, “has been the cause of much censure, but without cavalry, not even a company to guide the advance over unknown ground for five or six miles, slow progress was unavoidable.”

They apparently returned to Herr Ridge and took another route farther east that also led them south, closer to the west slope of Seminary Ridge.

Finally, close to 4 p.m., they reached the tree line along the eastern side of the ridge, a quarter mile west of the Peach Orchard, where federal artillery unexpectedly took them under fire—revealing that Gen. Lee’s intelligence on the disposition of the enemy was wrong.

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