Re: Longstreet's cannon crew--fact or fiction?
- Found a reply in a CV 1894 magagine re Longstreet's battery:
"THE CRISIS AT SHARPSBURG .
A correspondent from Salisbury, N. C., gives some interesting reminiscences of the battle of Sharpsburg, and corrects an error in the VETERAN for August, 1893 [in part by quoting Longstreet]:
The timely use of the deserted brass piece by four officers of Longstreet's staff, instead of the Fourteenth North Carolina Regiment, saved Gen. Lee's army from being cut in two, with Longstreet to the right, Jackson to the loft, and D. H. Hill pressed into the river. Gen. Longstreet sustains him in this part of his official report: "As I rode along the line with my staff, I saw two pieces of Washington artillery (Miller's battery), but there were not enough men to man them, the gunners had been either killed or wounded. This was a fearful situation for the Confederate center. I put my staff officers to the guns, while I held the horses. It was easy to see that if the Federals broke through our line there, the Confederate army would be cut in two and probably destroyed, for we were already badly whipped and were only holding our ground by sheer force of desperation." That little battery shot harder and faster, with a sort of human energy, as though it realized that it was to hold the thousands of Federals at bay, or the battle would be lost. After a little, a shot came across the Federal front, plowing the ground in a parallel line, another and another, each coming nearer and nearer their line. This enfilade fire, so distressing to soldiers, was a battery on D. H. Hill's line, and it soon beat back the attacking column. The Richmond papers, just after the battle, gave Gen. Longstreet and his staff all the credit of saving Lee's army, at that time. Gen. McClellan lost the chance of his life by not reenforcing and pushing his center just then."
The preponderace of the evidence agrees that some of Longstreet's staff did man some guns while he held their horses.
--- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "eighth_conn_inf" <eighth_conn_inf@...> wrote:
> All--thanks for the input. I wonder if the post war Lost Cause anti-Longstreet bias had something to do with the report along with the usual poor memory of the writer or the "axe to grind" mentality?
> Tom: here is a link to the Google Books campaign 2 of the Maine Bugle; if it doesn't work, I can e-mail you a Word document with the article in plain text vice PDF; the schoolhouse fight starts on page 121:
> There is an account in SHSP, vol. 25, page 148, "The Charge at Burkitsville" in an article "The Beau Sabreur of Georgia" which also says that Hampton participated in the fight. It is interesting that Pickerill in his 1898 newspaper article didn't know about the earlier SHSP and Bugle articles.
> --- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, <richard@> wrote:
> > And also -- Ted Alexander read my manuscript (this has been years ago) for "To Make Men Free" and made no changes to the Longstreet Battery section.
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: G E Mayers
> > To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
> > Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 9:24 PM
> > Subject: Re: [TalkAntietam] Longstreet's cannon crew--fact or fiction?
> > Dear Larry,
> > I skimmed through the account and will read it more closely at
> > another time. However, if I might comment...
> > 1. Confederate Veteran had a bad habit of taking whatever any
> > veteran wrote, without insisting on checking the facts. Thus,
> > some rather wild tales have been told by veterans years after the
> > fact. Remember the old story about how the passage of years
> > improves one's "memory"?
> > 2. I believe it is fairly well established that the "Battery
> > Longstreet" incident did indeed happen and that it happened in
> > the area of the Piper Farm Orchard somewhere near the Piper Farm
> > Lane, and most likely somewhere near the farmstead or at least
> > between the farmstead and the Hagerstown Turnpike. (Sorrel
> > mentions it in his memoirs as do other sources not directly
> > connected with Longstreet's staff.)
> > 3. Regarding that abandoned brass piece, Priest mentions it in
> > his Antietam book. IIRC it was Lt Ham Chamberlayne who wrote
> > about the experience of firing that abandoned brass piece down
> > the Piper Lane at the Federals; the brass piece had been found
> > near the Hagerstown Pike. In any case Longstreet would not have
> > been pulling the lanyard of an artillery piece!
> > Hope this helps!
> > Yr. Obt. Svt.
> > G E "Gerry" Mayers
> > To Be A Virginian, either by birth, marriage, adoption, or even
> > on one's mother's side, is an introduction to any state in the
> > Union, a passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from
> > the Almighty God. --Anonymous
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "eighth_conn_inf" <eighth_conn_inf@>
> > To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
> > Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 5:43 PM
> > Subject: [TalkAntietam] Longstreet's cannon crew--fact or
> > fiction?
> > Probably most of us agree that Longstreet's famous cannon crew
> > fired from near the Hagerstown Pike. But has it been settled that
> > he and his staff did crew a cannon? I thought so until I ran
> > across the following in the "Confederate Veteran:"
> > 246 Confederate Veteran August 1893.
> > REMINISCENCES ABOUT SHARPSBURG.
> > "Many errors drop into history by inadvertence and imperfect
> > knowledge of facts. In reading an account of the battle of
> > Sharpsburg by a Virginian, I find he is in error. In speaking of
> > the great danger that at one time threatened General Lee's
> > center, which was held by Gen. D. H. Hill, he states the
> > withdrawal of General Rhode's brigade made a great gap through
> > which the enemy rushed in great numbers, and to check them
> > General Hill led a squad of stragglers in person, and General
> > Longstreet was seen working a piece of artillery on the field to
> > save the day. I was in this engagement at that point with General
> > Anderson's brigade of North Carolinians and did not see any
> > troops withdrawn, but I did see that the right and left of our
> > division were swept away by the deadly fire centered upon us, our
> > General was wounded and taken from the field, all our field
> > officers killed or wounded with the exception of Col. R. Tyler
> > Bennett of the 14th .North Carolina, who was in command of the
> > remnant of our brigade at that time of the battle. His regiment
> > had the good fortune to come into line in the " bloody lane,"
> > which was a depressed road. Two regiments, 14th and 4th North
> > Carolina, occupied this lane and found it, comparatively, a safe
> > place to fight from, and the enemy in our front were unable to
> > dislodge us. Federal lines of great strength had been pressed
> > upon us from the first of the engagement until after midday and
> > were repulsed by our deadly fire. We were just getting ready to
> > receive three heavy lines in our front, when an officer from the
> > right came to us in great haste and informed our Colonel that we
> > were flanked at that point, and called our attention to a column
> > coming perpendicular to our rear. Then Col. Bennett ordered us to
> > fall back, which was done under a murderous fire from front and
> > flank. When I reached the pike leading from the " burg" to
> > Hagerstown, I found only four of our regiment together, Sergt. P.
> > D, Weaver, Lieutenant Hanny, Colonel Bennett and myself, but
> > quite a number of stragglers behind a rock fence along the pike.
> > At this point a brass piece left by the road, which these four
> > officers, with what help they could get from the stragglers,
> > pulled to the top of the hill and loaded it, which they had just
> > accomplished as a soldier rode up and inquired what they were
> > trying to do. He was informed in a few words that they wished to
> > fire the gun at the advancing line, then in a short distance of
> > them. The soldier jumped from his saddle and fired the gun,
> > throwing the shot into the enemy's front line, which caused them.
> > to halt and lie down at once. This unexpected shot, I think,
> > created the impression that we had a masked battery behind the
> > rock fence. We fired three shots at them before their
> > sharpshooters drove us from the gun. This delay gave General Hill
> > time to get his reserve artillery on points behind us, which
> > opened with great vigor on the enemy. It was then that General
> > Hill rode forward to us and ordered us to get the stragglers into
> > line in front of the rock fence, and headed us in person to a
> > charge on the enemy in our front, who delivered a galling fire
> > which sent us to the rear in great disorder, but our troops
> > rallied later, recaptured a portion of our original line and held
> > it until night came and closed the battle of Sharpsburg. I did
> > not see General Longstreet pulling and firing a cannon on the
> > field, but remember that the soldier who helped us fire the gun
> > told us he belonged to Longstreet's staff. General Longstreet had
> > all he could do to look after his own line, which was being
> > heavily pressed in front, and Jackson on our left was fighting
> > overwhelming numbers. This was the turning point of the battle
> > and firing of that deserted brass piece saved General Lee's army
> > from being cut in two, with Longstreet to the right and Jackson.
> > to the left and D. H. Hill pressed into the river.
> > Salisbury, N. C. July 18, 1893."
> > I also recently ran across an article by D.B. Rea of the First
> > North Carolina Cavalry "Cavalry Incidents of Maryland Campaign"
> > from the January 1895 Maine Bugle which describes the Quebec
> > School House fight in a totally different way from others I have
> > read. This account is more than just a different perspective so
> > it will be interesting to square it with Pickerill's detailed
> > telling from the Union perspective.
> > Larry
> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]