The Battle of Kernstown - from The Richmond Daily Dispatch, April 3, 1862
We are permitted to make the following extracts from a private letter
written by a young gentleman belonging to the "Rockbridge Artillery," of
"Stonewall Jackson's" army: |
Camp Buchanan, March 26, 1862.
This is the first opportunity I have had for more than a week to write you a single line, and now I am compelled to be brief and hurried in what I have to tell you about our battle at Kernstown, on Sunday last. It was a terrific fight, and all our men behaved like heroes. No one left his post until ordered off the ground. The loss in our battery was comparatively slight, being less than a dozen. Henry and Charlie are safe, so is George B., &c.; and it is wonderful how we all got off so well. A round shot killed one of our men not far from me, and another cut a spoke out of a wheel by which I was standing with my foot on the hub. Shell burst all around us. One struck a driver on the leg and cut it off, then passing through one horse and entering the body of another, burst inside of it and mortally wounded its rider.
The Second regiment (our own glorious regiment) behaved magnificently, and Colonel Allen proved himself worthy of his gallant command. Amongst many instances of gallantry which characterized the conduct of our men, I must tell you one or two. The banner bearer of the 2d was shot down, killed; whereupon Lieut. Richard Henry Lee caught up the fallen flag and bore it onward in front of the line until he fell wounded in the thigh. Then Lieut. Davis seized it, when he, too, was shot, and as he fell another man caught it before it touched the ground, when he also was mortally wounded. Col. Allen then sprang from his horse, took up the tattered standard from the ground, and gallantly charged at the head of his regiment, with the consecrated colors in his hand. The flagstaff was shot in two, and bears, besides, the marks of fourteen bullet- holes!
Harris Towner was killed, and John Feaman also, of Shepherdstown. Poor Selby Hamtramck was wounded in the hip and left on the field.
Bushrod Washington was wounded, and, when asked to leave the field and go to the rear, replied that "not so long as he had a drop of blood left in his body would he cease fighting for Virginia." His brother stood by him and assisted him in loading his gun, when the enemy's reinforcements came up and both the poor boys were killed.
Our battery lost one gun and two caissons; but the execution we did upon the enemy greatly exceeded the loss we sustained. A regiment of infantry, charging on us came up to within a hundred yards of our battery, when our canister scattered them like scared sheep, and made them run, all that were left of them, like so many--Yankees!
The Minie balls of the sharp-shooters rattled like hall around us, killing five of our horses, and wounding some of our men. But, as I said before, our battery escaped wonderfully well. We retired in good order, at our leisure, and regard the result as by no means discouraging; for with less than 3,000 we fought from three to five times our number of fresh troops until night put a stop to the engagement. Our loss was 400, all told; that of the enemy from 1,200 to 1,500.
On the evening after the battle my gun, with Chew's and Blakely's, were ordered to check the enemy's advance, and cover the retreat of our men, when a full battery opened upon us, and did some very good firing. One shell struck immediately in front of me. I threw myself on my face, and the fragments flying over me killed a horse from under a Sergeant who was directly behind me. Another came rushing over our heads, and, bursting behind us, killed five and wounded ten of the infantry who were supporting us. We then let loose upon a column of cavalry which was cautiously approaching us, and cut them up considerably.
Yesterday morning my gun was again ordered down to picket with Col. Ashby, and we gave the enemy a few rounds. So you see how busily we are kept at our work. Within the last five days we have marched 100 miles and have been in three engagements.