The Stories of the 13th.

 

Confederate Military History, Vol. 12

THE MORALE OF THE CONFEDERATE ARMIES.

(part of)

Written by Rev. J. William Jones, Chaplain of 13th Virginia Infantry Regiment

 

A shell at the church service.

 

 …………………The morning that Early's brigade was relieved from its perilous position on the north bank of the Rappahannock near the Fauquier White Sulphur Springs, where for twenty-four hours it faced the whole of Pope's army with an impassable river, swollen by a sudden storm, in the rear, one of the largest congregations I ever saw promptly assembled on an intimation that there would be preaching. I never saw the army massed within as small a space as at that point. General Lee had purposed crossing his whole army over at the Springs, and by a rapid march on Warrenton and the railroad to plant himself firmly on General Pope's line of retreat. General Early was thrown across as the advance guard, but the severe storm made the river unfordable, and as we had no pontoon bridges the movement had to be abandoned. So men from many other commands as well as our own came to our service until, when I stood up to preach, I looked on a great mass of eager listeners. An artillery duel was going on across the river and an occasional shell would shriek overhead or fall nearby, but the service went on, regardless of that strange church music until, as we were singing the last hymn before the service, an immense rifle-shell fell in the center of the congregation, a few feet from where the preacher was standing. It fell between Col. (afterward general) James A. Walker and Capt. Lewis N. Huck, of the Thirteenth Virginia, and found just space enough to wedge its way in between their legs without striking either. It was a "cap shell," the reverse end struck, and it simply buried itself in the soft ground, threw dirt on all around, but did not explode. There was, of course, a moving back from that spot, as it was supposed that the shell would explode, but the leader of the singing lost no note, the song was sung through, the preacher announced his text, and the service would have gone on despite the interruption. But Colonel Walker stepped up to the chaplain and told him if he would suspend the service he would move the brigade back under the hill where it would be more sheltered. Accordingly, the announcement was made to the congregation, and we moved back under cover. As we moved out a shell exploded in an artillery company in our rear and killed or wounded five men. The service was resumed and I preached from the text, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish," as plainly and earnestly as I could. At "early dawn" the next morning we started on that famous flank march of "Jackson's foot cavalry," which culminated in the battle of Second Manassas, and many of our poor fellows heard their last sermon that day on the Rappahannock. I went back that afternoon to the spot where we held our service, and found that after we moved, at least twenty shells had fallen and exploded in the space occupied by that congregation.

 

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. II. Richmond, Va., March, 1881. No. 3.

Reminiscences Of The Army Of Northern Virginia.

 

The origin of the term "Jackson’s Foot Cavalry" ?

 

These frequent movements with cavalry, often requiring long or very rapid marches, made the men begin to speak of the regiment as the "foot cavalry." But the first time I ever heard the sobriquet publicly applied was after the evacuation of Manassas, in March, 1862, while General Ewell was holding with his division the line of the Rappahannock. Our regiment had been on picket at Bealton Station as a support to Stuart's cavalry, and the enemy were rapidly advancing in large force, when another infantry regiment came down on a train of cars to relieve us. We had just gotten on the train, our friends were rapidly forming line of battle to meet the Federal advance, "Jeb" Stuart was going to the front with his "fighting jacket" on, and our train was slowly moving back, when a battery of the enemy galloped into position, and threw some shell, which shrieked through the air, and exploded uncomfortably near us. Immediately Colonel Walker called out in his clear, ringing tones, "It's all right, boys. The Thirteenth Foot Cavalry are mounted at last, and we will try the speed of our horse flesh." So saying, he ordered the engineer to increase his speed, and we rushed to the rear amid the shouts of the men, who gave "three cheers for the foot cavalry," and made the woods echo with the camp song,

 

"If you want to have a good time, jine the cavalry."

 

The whole of Jackson's splendid corps was afterwards called "the foot cavalry;" but I believe that the above was the origin of the sobriquet. My grand old regiment afterwards won imperishable renown as it bore its tattered battle flag into the very thickest of the fight on many a victorious field, but we never forgot those bright days with Stuart. when we had our "outpost service with the foot cavalry."

 

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. IX. Richmond, Va., July And August, 1881. Nos. 7 And 8.

Reminiscences Of The Army Of Northern Virginia.

 

Jackson's Secrecy and a crazy "discharge".

 

We were confident that we were to sweep down the Valley again, and the sending of some eight thousand troops from Richmond to reinforce Jackson deceived us as completely as it did the authorities at Washington. I remember to have heard General Ewell say just the day before we broke camp and started for Richmond: "Well, our reinforcements are coming up, and after a few days rest we shall march rapidly down the Valley again and beat up the enemy's quarters about Strausburg," and when some time afterwards I intimated to General Ewell's chief of staff that he had merely made that remark for effect, as he, of course, knew of the contemplated movement, that officer assured me that General Ewell (the second in command) had not the most remote idea of the contemplated move -- that when he did move the only orders he received were to march in the direction of Charlottesville -- and that as a rule Jackson kept Ewell and the rest of his officers in profound ignorance of his plans and purposes.

 

General J.A. Walker has recently given me an amusing illustration of this. A few days after Ewell's division moved into Swift Run Gap to take the place of Jackson's troops, who were then marching on Milroy, Walker had occasion to call to see Ewell on important business, but found him in such a towering rage that he took the advice of a member of the staff and did not broach his errand to him. But as he was about to leave Ewell called him and abruptly asked: "Colonel Walker, did it ever occur to you that General Jackson is crazy?"

 

"I don't know, General," was the reply, "We used to call him 'Fool Tom Jackson' at the Virginia Military Institute, but I do not suppose that he is really crazy."

 

"I tell you sir," rejoined the irate veteran, "he is as crazy as a March hare. He has gone away, I don't know where, and left me here with instructions to stay until he returns. But Banks's whole army is advancing on me, and I have not the most remote idea where to communicate with General Jackson. I tell you, sir, he is crazy, and I will just march my division away from here. I do not mean to have it cut to pieces at the behest of a crazy man." And as Walker rode away he left Ewell pacing the yard of his quarters in no good humor at being thus left in ignorance of the whereabouts and plans of his chief.

 

Riding down to see General Elzey, who commanded the brigade, Colonel Walker found that officer in an exceedingly irritable frame of mind over an order he had received from General Ewell, and pretty soon he said: "I tell you sir, General Ewell is crazy, and I have a serious notion of marching my brigade back to Gordonsville." Just then one of the conscripts who had been recently assigned to the Thirteenth Virginia (Walker's regiment), bolted in with a paper in his hand and rushing up to General Elzey exclaimed:

 

"I want you, sir, to sign that paper at once, and give me my discharge. You have no right to keep me here, and I mean to go home."

 

As soon as General Elzey recovered from his astonishment at the fellow's impudence, he seized his pistols and discharged two shots at him as the man rushed out of sight. Coming back, he exclaimed: "I should like to know, Colonel Walker what sort of men you keep over at that Thirteenth regiment? The idea of the rascal's demanding of me, a Brigadier General, to sign a paper. Oh! if I could have only gotten hold of my pistols sooner."

 

"Well," replied Walker, "I don't know what to do myself. I was up to see General Ewell just now, and he said that General Jackson was crazy; I come down to see you, and you say that General Ewell is crazy; and I have not the slightest doubt that my conscript, who ran from you just now, will report it all over camp that General Elzey is crazy; so it seems I have fallen into evil hands, and I reckon the best thing for me to do is to turn the conscripts loose, and march the rest of my regiment back to Richmond." This put General Elzey in a good humor, and they had a hearty laugh over the events of Colonel Walker's visits to division and brigade headquarters.

 

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. I. Richmond, Virginia, May, 1876. No. 5.

Editorial Paragraphs.

 

It was the privilege of the Editor to attend at Gordonsville on the 10th of May a reunion of the old Thirteenth Virginia Infantry. General Early, General J.A. Walker, Ex-Governor Wm. Smith, General Dabney H. Maury, General McComb, Colonel Grigsby, of the old Stonewall Brigade; Colonel Gibson, of the Forty ninth Virginia; Colonel Goodman and Colonel Crittenden, of the thirteenth Virginia, a number of other officers and some two hundred and fifty of the veterans of this grand old regiment were present. The speaking was admirable, the banquet was elegant, and the mingling together of old comrades, long separated, delightful. Many facts were brought out illustrative of the history of this regiment, which had a career worthy of its origin, composed as it was of original volunteers, who participated in the capture of Harpers Ferry, April the 18th, 1861, and having as its first field officers Colonel (afterwards Lieutenant General) A.P. Hill, Lieutenant Colonel (afterwards Major General) James A. Walker, and Major (afterwards Brigadier General) J.E.B. Terrill.

 

But we have mentioned this Reunion chiefly for the purpose of suggesting that our Confederate regiments generally should have such reunions, and that along with the social they should by all means arrange for detailed histories of the commands.

 

 

There Is a Fountain

 

Southerners in the mid-19th century were religious people for the most part. Most regularly attended church and held a deep, personal faith. When war broke out and the ties of community and church were severed, the soldier sometimes forgot his upbringing and began to slip into the besetting sins of camp life -- drinking, gambling, and swearing, among others. However, there were chaplains in the army who labored among the men to point them toward Christ. By the Spring of 1863 a great revival swept the Army of Northern Virginia, reaching its peak during the Winter of 1863-64. Literally thousands of men were converted, and the army camps took on a much different character than the one they had possessed early in the war. Hymn singing, of course, became popular in the army at that time and one of the most popular songs was There Is a Fountain. This hymn, written by the English poet William Cowper in the early 1770s, was already old and well established by the time of the Civil War.

 

Two stories about this hymn and its impact on Civil War soldiers follow. The first is taken from a 1917 issue of Confederate Veteran magazine.

 

J. M. Beadles, of Madison Run, Va., writes of a most unique incident of his war experience:

In November, 1863, General Lee's army moved into winter quarters on the south side of the Rapidan River. The Union Army moved up to the north side. The pickets on each side of the river were within speaking distance of each other. My command camped on the north side of Clark's Mountain and was composed of the following regiments of infantry: 58th, 52nd, 32nd, and 13th Virginia, Gen. A. P. Hill's old regiment. This was the 4th Virginia Brigade, commanded by General Pegram, who was killed at Hatcher's Run.

 

While in camp our chaplain, Rev. Willie Ragland [Ryland], preached very faithfully the gospel of Christ to our command, the 13th Virginia, that loved and honored him as a servant of God. One of the converts, Goodwin, of Company A, of Orange Courthouse, living in the lower part of the county, wished to be baptized in the Rapidan River; but the enemy was just on the other side and our officers feared that we might bring on trouble. But finally they gave their consent. We marched very scatteringly, about fifty strong; and the enemy, seeing that we had no arms, did not fire on us, but seemed greatly puzzled and watched us closely. As soon as we reached the water's edge we began to sing that grand old hymn, 'There is a fountain filled with blood,' and at once the enemy began to leave their works and hasten to the riverside, and many voices in the Northern army joined in the song. Both armies were at peace as they witnessed the death of the old man into the resurrection of the new man through Jesus Christ our Lord."

 

From Mr. Dan Cowgill (Great Great Grandchild of Private Benjamin Haines of Co. I, 13th Virginia) of Middletown, DE, we have recieved the following information.

 

During the war Private Haines somehow recovered a history book about the Crimean War from a Union Soldier. The name of the Union soldier is signed inside the cover along with Private Haines' signature. The Union soldier was a prisoner in Winchester at one point. The book is in possession of a family member of Mr. Cowgill. The log/diary that Private Haines kept during the war is in the possession of a cousin of Mr. Cowgill.

 

Benjamin was born Feb. 7, 1840.  Not much is currently known about his early years.  He enlisted with Co. I of the 13th on May 18th in Romney, Virginia.  Ben served for 2 years with the 13th.  He had missed a few engagements due to illness but was present during the 2nd Winchester.  From this battle, he returned with an officer’s diary, believed to have been owned by a captain of the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery who had been captured (William Martins).   Benjamin also retrieved a book with Captain Martins’ name written inside the cover – a book that covered the tactics used during the Crimean War.  Not long after the 2nd Winchester, Benjamin was reported as a deserter.  Whether by transfer or on his own – Ben ended up serving the remainder of the war with the 18th Virginia Cavalry and possibly had been for a period, detached to the Signal Corp.  Ben married Nancy Offutt after the war and raised a large family.  He farmed his property and late in life either he or one of his sons operated a store and post office in a building across the road from his house.  There are historical maps indicating there was a ‘Hainesville’ at one time – and the store is marked as its center of location.  This property is located at the intersection of Voit Rd. and Old Martinsburg Grade Rd.  Ben for a period had been the secretary of the local Confederate Veterans Organization which held picnics at Camp Walker in Frenchburg, WV (near Augusta).  He died on May 28, 1918 and an article in the local Romney, WV paper stated that a terrible thunderstorm occurred during the funeral service at Salem Church (where he had taught Sunday School), where mourners could not see each other due to the darkness caused by the storm. His headstone is marked with the 13th Virginia Co. K (not sure why the K – assuming a mistake by his widow).

Last Update: 8/12/2019                                13th Virginia Infantry,  Company I has no political affiliation or agenda.