Anna Moffett's Civil War - 4
Tennessee has become the 11th southern State to secede from the Union. They had a referendum, in the same way Virginia had done in May, to make sure the people were behind them. We may be
small in number, but we are determined.
I am very worried about how George is getting on with his mission in England, but he told me he would be unable to contact me, as what he is doing there must remain a secret. I am worried that
he is in danger. I pray for him daily.
My son, Alex, was involved in the fighting at Manassus on July 21st. He has survived without incident, but he was very upset as six of his friends died & 14 were wounded. One of them killed was Leonidas Lamar, the son of Judge Henry Lamar of Macon.
I should make note of the many organizations that have been set up throughout the confederacy to support the soldiers. We have collections of money of course, but also knitted socks for the
soldiers & bits of food that are donated. We have done what we can in that regard. I must admit that we have not suffered too much so far in regard to the war, because we had those in the family who
suspected a problem & stockpiled large amounts of food & supplies early on.
The Depository, in Chalmers Street, is open every Wednesday, to receive contributions from those who desire to aid our sick & wounded soldiers. Old sheets, pillowcases, undergarments, old or new, linen or cotton rags, housekeeping stores, rice, barley, arrowroot, flax seed, tea, sugar, brandy, wine, especially blackberry, etc., are desired. These are forwarded to Virginia immediately.
Here is a notice in our paper, the Charleston Mercury, on July 24
Let every family in the city aid in providing for the relief of our defenders. Any contributions will constitute membership in the association. Ladies wishing to aid are invited to meet at the
Depository every day from 10 a. m. to 2 p. m., & from 4 to 7 p. m.
Work will be provided for those who will undertake it.
President—Mrs. George Robertson.
Vice-President—Mrs. Wm. Snowden.
Corresponding Secretaries—Miss Laura Porter & Miss Blamyer.
Secretary & Treasurer—Miss E. P. Hayne.
Other ladies have cheerfully consented to act as Managers in their respective Wards.
The churches in Sumter are used as hospitals. My friend, Mrs. Montgomery Moses & her daughter, visit the hospital at the Baptist Church daily, carrying delicacies for the sick, taking a servant with them to help attend to the sick. She also takes home the surgeons' clothes to mend, makes tea & fills quinine pills stuck together with flour & hominy.
She had a very ill soldier removed to her house, in hopes of saving his life, but, notwithstanding all the good nursing, he died. In his delirium, he kept calling; "Sue, Sue, I am only four miles off; I am coming." It was never known who he was!
Some of her soldier patients, once they were out of hospital, tried to show their gratitude by bringing wood to her cook.
Many soldiers from the hospitals came at meal times to the houses of the ladies to be fed; also, many brought their rations to be cooked and, of course, the ladies made many additions to what
they brought. Some of them have come here & we have obliged as best we could.
An old lady - Miss Rachel Squares (I don't know her personally) boards the trains each morning, as they pass & washes the sick soldiers on board, returning home by the next train. Some ladies also set tables of food at the depot, for the soldiers, as they pass through.
I must write now write more about our first big battle away from the sea. I knew Alex was involved, but I hadn't realized that Charles was too. It was a very sobering experience, as many lives were lost on both sides. I have copied most of this information from the newspapers, as George told me detail was important.
The Battle of Manassas was fought near the city of Manassas in Virginia, on July 21st & it brought sorrow & gloom to many a home in South Carolina, for our regiments suffered terribly & when General Bee & Colonel Johnson were brought home & laid to rest, where they first saw the light, Charleston felt she could not do enough to honor her dead heroes.
This battle was the idea of the North, itching for a march against Richmond, which is now the Confederate capital, to bring an early end to the war. The Union troops were under Brig.
General Irvin McDowell & ours were under Brig General Beauregard. McDowell's ambitious plan for a surprise flank attack against the Confederate left was not well executed by his inexperienced officers & men, but we, who had been planning to attack the Union left flank, found ourselves at an initial
Then we got reinforcements & when General Bee galloped up to General Jackson & cried out, "General, they are beating us back!" His reply was, "Then we will give them the bayonet!" This inspired the intrepid Bee and, riding back to his disordered men, cried, "Look! there is Jackson
standing like a stone wall! rally behind the Virginians! let us determine to die here & we will conquer! follow me!" his clarion notes rang out on the summer air & his men followed him to the charge which was the death knell of the gallant Bee. I expect that name will stick with him & Jackson will now be called Stonewall Jackson.
What happened was this. Jackson posted his five regiments on the reverse slope of the hill, where they were shielded from direct fire & was able to assemble 13 guns for the defensive line, which he posted on the crest of the hill; as the guns fired, their recoil moved them down the reverse slope, where they could be safely reloaded.
Meanwhile, McDowell ordered his batteries to move to the hill for close infantry support. Their 11 guns engaged in a fierce artillery duel across 300 yards against Jackson's 13. The Union guns
were now within range of the our smooth bores & their guns were not effective weapons at such close ranges, with many shots fired over the heads of their targets.
The capture of the Union guns turned the tide of battle. Although McDowell had brought 15 regiments into the fight on the hill, outnumbering us two to one, no more than two were ever engaged
simultaneously. Jackson continued to press his attacks, telling soldiers, "Reserve your fire until they come within 50 yards! Then fire & give them the bayonet! & when you charge, yell like furies!" Beauregard ordered his entire line forward. McDowell's force crumbled & began to retreat.
The retreat was relatively orderly up to the Bull Run crossings, but it was poorly managed by the Union officers. A Union wagon was overturned by artillery fire on a bridge & incited panic. As the soldiers streamed uncontrollably away, discarding their arms & equipment.
In the disorder that followed, hundreds of Union troops were taken prisoner. Expecting an easy Union victory, the wealthy elite of nearby Washington, including congressmen & their families, had come to picnic & watch the battle. When the Union army was driven back in a running disorder, the roads back to Washington were blocked by panicked civilians attempting to flee in their carriages.
It has been said that Manassus was the largest & bloodiest battle so far in American history. Union casualties were 460 killed, 1,124 wounded & 1,312 missing or captured; Our casualties were 387 killed, 1,582 wounded, & 13 missing.
Beauregard was considered the hero of the battle & was promoted that day by President Davis to full General in our army.
After Manassas, things were quiet for a time & attention was turned to providing for our boys in camp, hospitals, & those preparing to go; pickles & preserves were made, socks knit; all material possible was brought into use, for it was incredible how soon after the blockade was established articles of every-day use became scarce.
The Union congress has passed the confiscation act. The law gives the army the authority to confiscate all property, including slaves, that might be used in hostile service against the
government of the US. Most Northern soldiers approve of sheltering fugitive slaves because they would think that if they were to return a runaway to his master, he would put them to work for the
confederate cause. So the blacks are now employed as laborers, blacksmiths, carpenters, teamsters, cooks, laundresses, personal servants, hospital attendants, scouts, spies & guides.
One northern soldier said that using the blacks for non-fighting purposes freed up 75 men to carry guns.
As I mentioned before, my youngest son, James, is in the army too. He enlisted a a private at Camden, Kershaw, County, South Carolina. He is 26. He has joined Company EJ Cavalry Battalion of Holcombe Legion. I asked him what this funny name meant.
Governor Pickens named Holcombe's Legion for his wife, Lucy Petway Holcombe. The Legion was formed as a home guard. During July, companies from all over South Carolina rendezvoused in Columbia after a call from President Jefferson Davis. Holcombe's Legion was one of those
I love getting the Atlantic Monthly & this week we have good news about a new book installment from Charles Dickens. The book is called Great Expectations.
Here is what they say in the magazine about the new book.
"The very title of this book indicates the confidence of conscious genius. In a new aspirant for public favor, such a title might have been a good device to attract attention; but the most famous novelist of the day, watched by jealous rivals & critics, could hardly have selected it, had he not inwardly felt the capacity to meet all the expectations he raised. In no other of his romances has the author succeeded so perfectly in at once stimulating & baffling the curiosity of his readers. He stirred the dullest minds to guess the secret of his mystery; but, so far as we have learned, the guesses of his most intellectual readers have been almost as wide of the mark as those of the least apprehensive.
“In Great Expectations, on the contrary, Dickens seems to have attained the mastery of powers which formerly more or less mastered him. He has fairly discovered that he cannot, like Thackeray, narrate a story as if he were a mere looker-on, a mere knowing observer of what he describes & represents; & he has therefore taken observation simply as the basis of his plot & his characterization.
“Altogether we take great joy in recording our conviction that Great Expectations is a masterpiece."
We are having some luck in getting ships through the blockade. The Bermuda, a large British steamer, got into Savannah on 18 September. Her cargo sold at a staggering profit & the Bermuda was set on her return trip laden with 2,000 bales of cotton for England's mills. For the first time we realized the tremendous advance in prices; it seemed as though we were not the same people, nor these the same stores.
Up to this time, the Charleston merchants have either kept the same prices or advanced them so little it was not worth complaining of; but when the advance once commenced, it did not stop.
What a bonanza the war must be to the English merchants, in clearing off the unsalable stock that had accumulated for years & that we blockaded Southerners are only too glad to get.
We would so like England & France to come in on our side in this war. At the outbreak England
proclaimed her neutrality, while at the same time recognizing both the United States & the Confederacy as belligerents.