Saturday, March 24, 2018

The 37th Virginia Infantry Charges a Bridge

From Recollection of the War Between the States 1861-1865, by James W. Orr, 1st Lieutenant, Company E, 37th Virginia Infantry.

"We camped Saturday night about a mile north of Port Republic and on Sunday Morning, June 9th, 1862, while our regiment was in line for inspection, an order came to double quick to the bridge, it being the bridge across the Shenandoah River to the town of Port Republic, on the south side of the river. Gen. Fields, with his army down the river was shelling us but overshooting. General Jackson had spent the night in the town of Port Republic and the enemy had advanced a squad through the town with a piece of artillery and planted the gun at the south end of the bridge, and as we approached the bridge they fired two shots at our regiment, of grape or canister, but over shot us. When we arrived near the bridge, Gen Jackson came dashing through the bridge, raised his cap and with a wave of his cap ordered us to "CHARGE THE BRIDGE! CHARGE THE BRIDGE! CHARGE THE BRIDGE!" We rushed through the bridge and captured the gun and the gunners."

From the June 14th, 1862 letter of William R. Gilmer, Company I, 37th Virginia Infantry.

"Last Sunday the yankees completely surprised us they was fireing their cannons before we know they was about. We was on one side of the river and they yankees on the other they got to bridge and planted their cannon but the 37 charged the bridge and took the artilery and made them leave the bridge. "

From The War “Stonewall” Jackson His Campaigns and Battles The Regiment As I Saw Them By JAMES H. WOOD Captain Co. “D”, 37th Va. Infty.

"Passing on we reached the heights on the north side of the Shenandoah, overlooking Port Republic, located in the fork of the river, and a tributary stream entering it on the south side. On the following morning, June the 8th, being adjutant, I read to the regiment, then on Sunday morning inspection, an order for divine service to be held by the chaplains in their respective regiments. Before inspection had been finished two or three artillery shots in the direction of the village of Port Republic were heard. At this time, Capt. Henry Clinton Wood, who had gone to the village on a business errand, came in breathless haste and stated to our Colonel, Fulkerson, that the enemy were in possession of the bridge. This was a wooden structure spanning the main branch of the Shenandoah River from our side to the village. Without hesitation the regiment was formed and proceeded at double quick time through an intervening wheat field to the bridge. On reaching the top of the ridge we saw a cavalry force with two pieces of artillery in possession of the Port Republic end of the bridge. They used their artillery on us with damaging effect, killing two and wounding others. We soon reached the road leading to the bridge, and when within about a hundred yards of it met Jackson riding rapidly from the direction of the bridge. I was with my colonel at the head of the regiment and saw and heard what occurred and what was said. Jackson turned his horse and in his characteristic way, said, “Charge right through colonel, charge right through.” As he spoke he seized and swung his cap about his head, uttering a low cheer, adding, “Colonel, hold this place at all hazards.” He then turned his horse and rode swiftly toward Cross Keys, where the battle had already begun. We rushed on, and when near the mouth of the bridge the enemy fired one or both of his pieces that were planted at the other end, but the charges took effect in the sides of the bridge and did no injury to us. We captured the pieces and a number of prisoners and horses. No other troops than “The Regiment,” and no other commander than our colonel had any part in the capture of this bridge, artillery and prisoners. "

From an obituary of Judge Charles T. Duncan, written by R. A. Ayers.

"The late General W. B. Taliaferro once related to me an instance of his [Duncan's] courage at the battle of Port Republic...General Taliaferro said that his brigade was formed upon an elevation fronting the bridge, with the Thirty-seventh Virginia, Duncan's company, in the lead: that Jackson galloped up to him, pointed back and said: "General, take that battery at all hazards." Taliaferro at once ordered the Thirty-seventh Virginia to charge, riding with them to the bridge urging them on. Duncan led his men into the bridge with drawn sword, "going like lightning," and in an incredible short space of time emerged, throwing themselves upon the battery, which they captured. He said that Duncan was the first man through, and captured the first gun just as a charge of grape and canister was being rammed home, and that it was one of the bravenst acts he witnessed during the entire war..."

Monday, March 5, 2018

World War I Letters of Russell County, Feburary 14, 1919

The following letter originally appeared in the February 14th, 1919 issue of the Lebanon News:


Somewhere in France Dec. 5.

My dear Wife:

I will now answer your letter received a few minutes ago. You know I was glad to have another letter from you, for I have not heard from you for some little time. I have some spare time will write you again.

Would have written you sooner, but thought perhaps we would start for home soon.

Our Bn. was supposed to go across soon but got mixed up, so they said, and probably we will not get home now for some little time.

I am well now and getting along alright. We don't have much to do now since the war ended, so I spend the most of my time writing to you. If you get all the letters I write I know it will keep you busy reading them. Luther and I are still together yet and believe me, it is luck for us. We are at Fontenard now. Was over at Alton near Metz for a long while, not more than forty miles from there now. So you can just about look us up on the map.

We have been on the front since the first of September - under some heavy shell fire, but as luck was we got thru safe and sound.

I am lots better satisfied since the war has ceased. Got better hope of getting back home now. I hope to be home with you within the next two or three months. Can't [...] how it will be, you know we don't know anything only as it happens. Just here today and some where else tomorrow. You write and tell me if you all at home ever heard from Albert since the war ended. I have not seen or heard of him since I left Camp Lee. I'm afraid he will get started home before I do, but that's alright if he does, just so I get there too.

Luther has got one more of a bad cold but he's not serious. We very often get out to ourselves and talk of homefolks. You see that helps to pass the time off.

Listen, dear, I only wish you knew where I was now. Kindly a funny place. I spent the afternoon yesterday at Nancy. I would like to stop at that place for it is a pretty place alright. We are going to Paris real soon and you get I'm anxious for that trip.

Listen; you tell Mr. Candler that I want to shake hands with him for he wasn't in any war at all.

I am sending you and mother a little souvenire from France in remembrance of me. Hope they will be appreciated.

Tell Andy to write me, I wrote him some time ago, but have never heard from him yet. Hope to hear from him soon.

Had a letter from Coz. R. L. Johnson the other day but haven't gotten as many letters from you lately as I have been getting, but that isn't worrying me so much. All that I'm studying about now is when I will get started home. A month seems like a long time over here, but some parts of this country is alright but understand me, I'll take Home sweet Home any time.

So I will close now and go for supper. We have to walk about 12 miles a day for our meals.

Tell all the homefolks to write,
With much love to you,
From your loving Husband,
C. C. 1ST A. A. M. G. Bn.
A. E. F."