4th Alabama Infantry

4th Alabama

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The newly formed 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment was making their way from Dalton, Ga. to Lynchburg Va. to be inducted into the Confederate Army of Virginia. By Kim Christensen

May 2, 1861. Thursday- Election Day
. [Dalton Ga.]
Captain Lindsay and the "Larkinsville Guards" from Jackson County arrived on the early morning train and came on into camp. Candidates and their campaigners conspicuously mingled with the newcomers for some last minute electioneering.
At eleven o'clock, we were all called out to cast our votes anxiously gathering round to hear the results. After an expectant flurry of ballot counting , the results were announced. As expected all the Northern companies but for the exception of the "Canebrake Rifles" had voted for Captain Jones. At the last minute they had a change of heart and decided to throw in their support behind Syd Moore. Many of their boys knew him as he hailed from the next county and thought quite highly of him. He had served in the Mexican War and in the campaigns against the Cherokee Indians and for the last several years had been in the U.S. House of Representatives.https://civilwartalk.com/file:///C%3A/Users/Member/Documents/Alabama%20Book%20Proof%20from%20Thumb%20Drive/Chap%201%20Final%20Proof%20Draft.docx#_edn1
Well, this really put a twist on it and with all the southern companies solidly behind Governor Winston, it seemed to assure the Governor the election. But, what do you know if the Marion company didn't go over to the North Alabamians and when the final vote was counted, Captain Jones was elected by an eleven vote majority.[ii] Capt. Evander Law unanimously won the office of Lt. Colonel and of course Charlie Scott was easily elected to the post of Major.[iii]
No sooner had we settled back into our quarters when a sudden commotion brought everyone outside. Quartermaster wagons had pulled into camp and word spread that we were to be issued Arms! Everyone was excited as we rushed the wagons. Thoroughly envious of the dashing figure cut by those already armed with their beautiful Mississippi rifles, we pushed eagerly into line to pick up our new weapons. A detail under Captain Tracy, with the "North Alabamian,s" kept everyone back as the lids were pried off the long wooden boxes and the Captain began passing out muskets to the first in line. To our utter astonishment, instead of the short, walnut stock and brass bound Mississippi rifles we had been expecting, we were handed a collection of old George Law muskets.[iv] They were merely discarded flint and steel smoothbore muskets left over from the Revolutionary and War of 1812 which had been worked over and converted with percussion locks. Rough and rusty, most of the springs were loose fitting or broken and the gun locks were so wood bound that they were impossible to even cock. If you could get the dern thing to fire, it seemed most probable that it would do more harm to the owner than to any enemy we might be aiming at. These antiquated, clumsy looking guns were clearly an offensive insult and we took it as such. Many of the boys bristled and became so indignant they positively refused to accept them and it took nearly an hour and every ounce of Captain Tracy's rather formidable patience and persuading influence, to ultimately appeal to our patriotism as soldiers of Alabama, before everyone reluctantly accepted the old muskets with mumbled complaints.[v]
Settling around the fires for the evening, we struggled to polish up the "rough" spots on our old muskets best we could, certain we were getting the small end of the horn on this no matter what Captain Tracy said. By and by, we passed over this complaint and the conversation turned to politics and we took up a great discussion on this morning's elections. Those that had supported Governor Winston were disappointed over the outcome, but those who knew Colonel Jones gave every assurances of his qualifications. Lieutenant Colonel Law seemed to all an accomplished officer and a thorough soldier, while Major Scott, perhaps unfamiliar with military life and the details of his new office, was well thought of and all agreed he would no doubt soon acquire the skills needed to properly perform his duties.[vi] Around nine o'clock, just as we were settling in for night, considerable excitement once again stirred through camp. Rushing outside to see what had set off the commotion we learned that orders for us had arrived. We were to leave for Lynchburg, Virginia tomorrow at eleven o'clock.[vii]

May 3, 1861, Friday. [Leaving Dalton]
After breakfast we took down our tents and began packing up clothing and equipment to the martial airs of "Grey Jackets over the Border." Everyone seemed to have brought along a trunk, augmented with various and sundry, grips, knapsacks and valises of the sort to see to our comforts. Before long, an immense pile of luggage was heaped up in the middle of camp. Passing to and fro through camp, Colonel Jones was busy giving instructions to the officers and
making sure everything was securely packed into a variety of hired wagons that would carry our equipment to the depot. By ten o'clock, everything was ready, and we marched back down Hamilton street and over to the station to meet the Lynchburg train.[viii]
Arriving at the depot were surprised to find a long line of rough, simple boxcars waiting patiently at the platform. Of course we had expected to be met by a passenger train, and upon discovering that this was indeed our train, it's safe to say we were a bit taken back by the situation. After a hasty discussion allowed as we'd signed on as soldiers and would have to get used to some rough use in our new life. Determining to make the best of it, we crowded onto the old boxcars. Everyone that is but Theodore Wren of Captain Dawson's company. He just absolutely refused to enter, declaring himself to be "no horse to be trundled about in a cattle car." He threatened to resign on the spot and vowed that he'd return home before boarding a common stock car. Now there wasn't any of us that didn't have sympathy for old Theodore's notion, but enough was enough. After a few minutes of polite and careful coaxing by some of the officers, Captain Dawson, Sgt. Boykin Goldsby and a few of the other large Selma boys picked him up and simply heaved him aboard.[ix]
Even though we were crammed in forty and more to a car, the officers soon concluded there wasn't enough room to fit the entire regiment onto the train and part of the regiment would have to await the arrival of another train.[x] With a few muttering grumbles a few of the boys got off, the doors closed and we pulled slowly out of the station, fondly waving a truly tearful goodbye to the wonderful citizens of Dalton.[xi]
It was nearly four hundred and fifty miles to Lynchburg and we made ourselves as comfortable as we could hunkered down on the rough wooden floor, quietly watching the red clay countryside of northern Georgia pass by through the open doorway. By noon, we rumbled into Tennessee at Red Clay. On the verge of voting for secession and joining the Confederacy, Tennessee by all accounts still fostered many pockets of pro-union sentiment, especially in the eastern portion of the state in which we were to pass through. Rumor had it that the lonely glens and ravines of Green and Jefferson county which lay ahead, were teeming with numerous guerrillas, bushwhackers and renegade Tennessee mountain boys lying in wait to attack the train.[xii]
The rumors grew as we rumbled north until everyone was edgy and anxious with anticipation. Winding our way north, we were received with great enthusiasms in some and rather marked coolness in others. In Cleveland, Union flags could plainly be seen flying over many of the buildings, and only a handful of brave ladies dared to wave and throw small bouquets to us as we passed, yet in Charleston, not twelve miles away, found the tracks lined with enthusiastic supporters.[xiii] At Athens we were told a large liberty pole had been erected, flying the National colors and that Andy Johnson and "Parson" Brownlow, editor of the Knoxville Whig, were addressing a large Union meeting there. With nerves on a raw edge, this was simply too much of an indignation to bear, and it became dangerous for anything from a sympathizing Yankee cow down to a non-partisan goose to be caught within pistol shot of the train. By the time we reached the Athens depot, we were mighty hot for a brawl, but as we passed the place, there stood the lone pole with nothing but a fragment of a lady's falmoral floating from the mast.[xiv]
We crossed the beautiful rolling Tennessee river at Loudon, finding the same mixed sentiment in each small town we passed. Still, we did our part for the cause, courting pretty Tennessee girls at every water tank and turnout, promising a triumphant return with Yankee trophies hanging from our belts. By the time we reached Knoxville we were spoiling for a fight and ready to tangle with anything remotely connected to any anti-secesh feelings. Finding an enthusiastic crowd gathered to meet us at the depot seemed to only deepen the tension and some of the boys left the train in a rage, intent on demolishing the office of the traitorous Knoxville Whig. Colonel Jones quickly sent a squad to round up the hotheads, who were soon brought back before any harm could be perpetrated.[xv]
Piling back up onto our cattle cars, we pushed on north, stopping near sunset to pick through a rick of hay near the tracks for bedding. Slept on the cars, such sleeping as it was.[xvi]

https://civilwartalk.com/file:///C%3A/Users/Member/Documents/Alabama%20Book%20Proof%20from%20Thumb%20Drive/Chap%201%20Final%20Proof%20Draft.docx#_ednref1Sydenham Moore went on to become Colonel of the 11th Alabama. He died of wounds received in the battle of Seven Pines. Cutrer. Longstreet's Aide. pg. 89 & footnote No. 52 pg 210.
Find Out More Info on HIM!

[ii]"Editorial Correspondence" dated May 2nd 1861 from Miss Alphine Sterrett Scrapbook. Department of Alabama Archives. 4th Alabama Collection.
[iii]Coles. History. Orginization" pg. 3. Hudson. pg. 143 Muster Rolls Company "F" 4th Alabama. Article entitled "Reminiscences of the Fourth Alabama" dated August 30th, 1866. Department of Alabama Archives. 4th Alabama Collection . Cease Not to Think of Me. The Steele Family Letters. Edited by Patricia H. Ryan. Letter by Capt. Edward Tracy dated May 3 1861. pg 137
[iv]George Law, a buisnessmen from New York had contracted to buy all the antiquated flint and steel lock muskets dating to the Revolutionary War from the United States Government. Converting them to percussion locks, he re-sold them back to the Government at a large profit. Many of these muskets found their way down South at the beginning of the war. CHECK DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY on George Law.
[v]Coles. History. Orginization" pg. 5. Newspaper Article from "Hunstsville Democrat." September 11, 1861. entitled "Interesting Diary of a Young Soldier." April 30th entry. Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the US Military Academy West Point. Vol. 1. Gen George W Cullum. pg 226.
[vi]"Editorial Correspondence" dated May 2nd 1861 from Miss Alphine Sterrett Scrapbook. Department of Alabama Archives. 4th Alabama Collection.
[vii]Hudson. pg. 143. Cease Not to Think of Me. The Steele Family Letters. Edited by Patricia H. Ryan. Letter by Capt. Edward Tracy dated May 3 1861. pg 137 On the 22nd of april, Secretary of War, LP Walker, had requested two regiments from Alabama to rendezvous at Lynchburg and on the 1st of May, Samuel Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General, wrote that "three regiments from Tennessee, two from alabama, two from Mississippi and one from Arkansas, in all eight regiments to concentrate at Lynchburg,"OR 2 Cooper to Smith. pg 792. OR Series 4. Vol 1 Walker to Moore pg 231
[viii]Letter entitled, "Dear Commonwealth" dated May 3rd, 1861. Department of Alabama Archives. 4th Alabama Collection. Hudson. pg. 143. Cease Not to Think of Me. The Steele Family Letters. Edited by Patricia H. Ryan. Letter by Capt. Edward Tracy dated May 3 1861. pg 137
[ix]Article entitled"Reminiscences of the Fourth Alabama" dated Sept. 6th, 1866. Department of Alabama Archives. 4th Alabama Collection. Selma Times April 2 1909 Article by Paul T. Vaughan entitled "Memories of The Civil War." The unhappy Theodore Wren, to proud to enter the cars, deserted the regiment the next June. Official Muster Roll Company "C".
[x]Huntsville Democrat, Sept. 11th, 1861. Article entitled "Interesting Diary of a Young Soldier." Entry dated May 3rd.
[xi]Hudson. pg. 143. Robert Coles wrote they were "entrained in two sections." the second section leaving by 5 P.M. Coles. History. "Organization" pg. 6. Muster Roll Company "H" 4th Alabama [July/Aug 61]
[xii]Marion Commonwealth Newspaper Article entitled "Reminiscences of the Fourth Alabama" dated Sept. 6th, 1866. Department of Alabama Archives. 4th Alabama Collection. Tennessee passed Secession Ordinances and joined the Confederacy only three days later on the 6th of May becoming the 9th state to join the Confederacy. Eastern Tennessee strong pro-Union sentiments continued for the duration of the war.
[xiii]Robert A Moore. A life for the Confederacy. pg. 32. In the future known as Moore.
[xiv]Marion Commonwealth Newspaper Article entitled "Reminiscences of the Fourth Alabama" dated Sept. 6th, 1866. Department of Alabama Archives. 4th Alabama Collection. William G. "Parsons" Brownlow was a leading Tennessee Unionist, and was editor of the pro Union 'Knoxville Whig'. He had been a Methodist minister thus earning the title "Parson". The Confederate Government suppressed his newspaper and finally imprisoned him in the winter of 1861. After the war he became Gov. of Tenn and was elected US Senator. Boatner. The Civil War Dictionary pg. 93. Andrew Johnston, who was Lincolns Vice-President in the 1864 elections, was a pro-Union Democrat from Tennessee, and had held the posts Congressman, Governor and Senator from Tennessee. In 1862 he was appointed military Gov. of Tennessee by Lincoln . Boatner. pg 436.
[xv]Hudson. pg. 144. Coles. History, 'Organization' pg. 6. On May 7th, three days after the 4th Alabama passed through, a riot broke out in Knoxville between the pro-Union and secessionist faction, leaving one man mortally wounded. Robert Denney. The Civil War Years. A Day By Day Chronicle. see May 7th. pg 41. In the future known as Denney.
[xvi]Huntsville Democrat, Sept. 11th, 1861. Article entitled "Interesting Diary of a Young Soldier." Entry dated May 3rd. This article in the Huntsville Democrat is based on the diary of George Anderson a private from Huntsville who enlisted in Co. "I". He was killed at 1st Manassas and his diary was found by a Union soldier by the name of Cash, a member of th 71st NY Regiment. He took it back to NY and turned it over to the New York Herald, which printed it verbatim. Editor J. Withers Clay of the Huntsville Democrat happened to read the article and reprinted it in the Huntsville Democrat on Sept. 11 1861.
 

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redbob

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If the 4th took the same route on the railroads that the 11th Alabama was to take a short time later, then their big adventure was off to a shakey start.
 

4th Alabama

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The 4th Alabama Infantry continue their journey to Lynchburg Va.
May 4, 1861 Saturday. [On the cars. Jonesborough Tennessee.]
Woke in the morning at Jonesborough having travelled all night through the broken mountainous countryside of east Tennessee. By ten o'clock rumbled our way into Bristol, which sat on the Tennessee and Virginia border. As this was the end of the line, we piled out of the cars and unloaded all of the baggage onto the depot platform to await our next train. Remained near the station cooling our heels throughout the afternoon and seemed to be a great source of wonderment to the gathering townsfolk. They supplied us with cakes and the occasional swallow from a gentlemen's flask for those so inclined. Most seemed standoffish and simply watch the spectacle from a distance, like boys watching a circus. Many in the crowd took particular delight in making a game of guessing our former occupations. Sizing one of the boys up and down in his rough soldier suit for a few moments, many a hilarious prediction was made to the utter howl and delight of the crowd.
Around five o'clock the cars arrived to take us on up to Lynchburg, Virginia. Again there wasn't enough space to get everyone aboard so part of the regiment remained behind to catch the next train. With the sun soon quietly setting behind the mountains, we rumbled and swayed all night through the soft Virginia darkness.
 

4th Alabama

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After Gettysburg the 4th Alabama (Law's Brigade) accompanied Gen. Longstreet's Division up into the Western Theater and Tennessee. The regiment left Richmond on Sept. 10th 1863 and arrived just in time to participate in the battle of Chickamauga. There they lost 10 killed and 46 wounded. They went from there to the siege of Chattanooga and then Knoxville. They would spend the entire hard winter here in Tennessee. It was a bit of a disaster for Longstreet's independent command away from Gen. Lee. In the Spring of 1864 the regiment and Law's Brigade were ordered back to Virginia with Longstreet's command. The 4th Alabama had come up to Tennessee with some 300 men and were returning with but 179 present for duty.
The regiment arrived in Charlottesville, Va. by the end of April. Confederate intelligence surmised Gen. Grants Army numbered around 116,000 and were camped near Culpeper Courthouse, about 40 miles east of them. Lee's Army of Northern Va. numbered around 62,000 men. In anticipation of Grant crossing the Rapidan, the regiment was ordered along with Longstreet's Corps to Gordonsville. The Regiment left their bivouac outside of Gordonsville on May 4th, heading for the Wilderness-

May 4, 1864. Wednesday. [Bivouac outside of Gordonsville, Va.]
Remained in camp without any word until afternoon when orders hurried in by courier, stampeding up to Colonel Perry at brigade headquarters. Company officers were soon bustling about telling everyone to make ready. Grant's army had begun to cross the Rapidan and the entire army was moving to meet him. Haversacks quickly filled, blanket rolls tied and slung over shoulders, we were ready to leave quicker than it takes to talk about it.
By four o'clock we were backtracking down through Gordonsville and then up the Orange Courthouse road. After 7 or 8 miles reached the Old Zion Meeting house a few miles south of the Courthouse. Filing off to the right, we meandered down several small country lanes before hitting the Lawyer Road. Here we turned, heading south east towards the North Anna River.
The late afternoon was pleasant and we tramped along at route step, the sun slowly setting behind us. It was nearly eleven o'clock in the evening before we halted on the banks of the North Anna at Brock's bridge having made 16 miles today. Didn't need an invitation as the officers told us to get some rest as we waited for guides to lead us through the back country roads. Took a cold dinner and were soon asleep.

May 5, 1864. Thursday. [Bivouac Brock's Bridge. North Anna River.]
Were roused up well before dawn and soon under arms. Colonel Taylor of General Lee's staff, had brought up a local guide (James Robinson) to lead us through the labyrinth of back country roads leading north.
Silently following the file leaders out of camp, we moved off with the division taking the road leading from Brock's bridge north. Marched hard all day along a variety of unused roads and narrow farm lanes, passing a little Macedonian Church outside of Jackson's Shop and swinging through Woolfolk's Store. At times the guide even resorted to pushing us through fields, wading streams and pushing our way through rough thickets and taking every cut we possibly could as we wound our way north.
Struck the Carthapian Road and soon knew something was certainly going on as we began hearing the soft rumble of artillery in the distance. A bit further we met a squad of about 30 Yankee prisoners under guard and word was passed down the line that A.P. Hill's boys had pitched into General Grant in the Wilderness. Passing a few dead Yankee's lying off of the roadway here and there word was passed back along the lines that Hill was driving the Federals back . Well we all gave a whoop which surely put a spring back in our step
Near five o'clock, halted up at Richard's Store on the Carthapian Road. To tired and worn out to pitch tent flies, we threw blankets on the ground and were soon fast asleep.
 
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After Gettysburg the 4th Alabama (Law's Brigade) accompanied Gen. Longstreet's Division up into the Western Theater and Tennessee. The regiment left Richmond on Sept. 10th 1863 and arrived just in time to participate in the battle of Chickamauga. There they lost 10 killed and 46 wounded. They went from there to the siege of Chattanooga and then Knoxville. They would spend the entire hard winter here in Tennessee. It was a bit of a disaster for Longstreet's independent command away from Gen. Lee. In the Spring of 1864 the regiment and Law's Brigade were ordered back to Virginia with Longstreet's command. The 4th Alabama had come up to Tennessee with some 300 men and were returning with but 179 present for duty.
The regiment arrived in Charlottesville, Va. by the end of April. Confederate intelligence surmised Gen. Grants Army numbered around 116,000 and were camped near Culpeper Courthouse, about 40 miles east of them. Lee's Army of Northern Va. numbered around 62,000 men. In anticipation of Grant crossing the Rapidan, the regiment was ordered along with Longstreet's Corps to Gordonsville. The Regiment left their bivouac outside of Gordonsville on May 4th, heading for the Wilderness-

May 4, 1864. Wednesday. [Bivouac outside of Gordonsville, Va.]
Remained in camp without any word until afternoon when orders hurried in by courier, stampeding up to Colonel Perry at brigade headquarters. Company officers were soon bustling about telling everyone to make ready. Grant's army had begun to cross the Rapidan and the entire army was moving to meet him. Haversacks quickly filled, blanket rolls tied and slung over shoulders, we were ready to leave quicker than it takes to talk about it.
By four o'clock we were backtracking down through Gordonsville and then up the Orange Courthouse road. After 7 or 8 miles reached the Old Zion Meeting house a few miles south of the Courthouse. Filing off to the right, we meandered down several small country lanes before hitting the Lawyer Road. Here we turned, heading south east towards the North Anna River.
The late afternoon was pleasant and we tramped along at route step, the sun slowly setting behind us. It was nearly eleven o'clock in the evening before we halted on the banks of the North Anna at Brock's bridge having made 16 miles today. Didn't need an invitation as the officers told us to get some rest as we waited for guides to lead us through the back country roads. Took a cold dinner and were soon asleep.

May 5, 1864. Thursday. [Bivouac Brock's Bridge. North Anna River.]
Were roused up well before dawn and soon under arms. Colonel Taylor of General Lee's staff, had brought up a local guide (James Robinson) to lead us through the labyrinth of back country roads leading north.
Silently following the file leaders out of camp, we moved off with the division taking the road leading from Brock's bridge north. Marched hard all day along a variety of unused roads and narrow farm lanes, passing a little Macedonian Church outside of Jackson's Shop and swinging through Woolfolk's Store. At times the guide even resorted to pushing us through fields, wading streams and pushing our way through rough thickets and taking every cut we possibly could as we wound our way north.
Struck the Carthapian Road and soon knew something was certainly going on as we began hearing the soft rumble of artillery in the distance. A bit further we met a squad of about 30 Yankee prisoners under guard and word was passed down the line that A.P. Hill's boys had pitched into General Grant in the Wilderness. Passing a few dead Yankee's lying off of the roadway here and there word was passed back along the lines that Hill was driving the Federals back . Well we all gave a whoop which surely put a spring back in our step
Near five o'clock, halted up at Richard's Store on the Carthapian Road. To tired and worn out to pitch tent flies, we threw blankets on the ground and were soon fast asleep.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/representation-of-regimental-flags-for-memorial-day.135035/#post-1555348
 

4th Alabama

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In the early hours of May 6th the 4th Alabama headed towards Lee's army in the Wilderness-

May 6, 1864. Friday. [Bivouac Richard's Shop. Carthapian Rd.]
It wasn't much past midnight before officers were shaking us awake. Stumbling around in the dark over a cold breakfast, learned that Grant had indeed crossed the Rapidan with three full Yankee Corps. Ewell and A.P. Hill's Corps were tangling with them up in the "Wilderness" right now and we were needed. Kershaw's Division, camped a few miles north of us, took the advance and by 2am, we filed off behind them.
The Officers said General Lee needed us up quick and orders were to cut cross country until we reached the Plank Road. Luckily enough there was a very fair late rising moon, but the marching was hard as we were led along these blind roads, overgrown with underbrush, through fields that had lain fallow for years, studded with bushes and briars that continually tugged and snagged at our trousers. At times the head of the column would lose its way, which was about the only rest we got as guides hunted up the way back to the lost bridle path.
The glow of first light was just beginning to flicker in the east when the feint rattle of musketry started up be in the distance. Quietly murmuring at first, it rolled and began to build like the first few raindrops of a coming thunderstorm. The road we were following forked a short distance before reaching the Plank Road. Kershaw's Division, a short distance ahead of us took the right hand, while we were led up the left. Just as dawn began to break, reached Parker's Store on the Orange Plank Road at the same time as Kershaw's Division. Moving out onto the broad straight turnpike, the heads of our two flank Divisions were right abreast of each other and the two sets of fours, gave a front of 8 men to the column as we came swinging down the road.
For some time now we'd started seeing dead soldiers lying about, Yankee cavalry mostly by the look of them. The roll of musketry was gaining in volume in the distance, but we were still several miles from the front and aides from General Lee were galloping up with urgent messages."HURRY! HURRY!" Seeing the urgency, Gen. Field hollered for us to keep pace with Kershaw's boys and we did the last several miles at the quick step. Directly in our front the sun was coming up blood red, from the smoke of battle and it looked for all the world as if we were racing pell-mell into the very gates of Hell.
"At the double quick!" was soon passed from company to company and all along our line the sergeants and file closers pushed us into a slow trot. Ahead of us the road was a scene of unbelievable confusion, crowded with stalled and moving wagons, horses and mules blocking the road. as we thread our way through. These were A.P. Hill's boys and you could tell there was utter hysteria. It looked bad. Real bad. The closer we got to the snarling sound of battle coming up from the thick woods ahead, the worse it became. It didn't get much better when we came upon Hill's field hospital filled with hundreds of men scattered about, doctors busy at their grisly work, a pile of arms and legs piled up waist high next to the tables. On we rushed, pushing our way through this constant stream of wounded, stragglers and fragmented companies, all heading for the rear. The manner and expression on their faces showing all to plainly that the situation was grim. The woods itself were swarming with troops fleeing heedless of their officers frantic calls to rally.
Passing an officer on horseback who was desperately trying to stop the frantic retreat, Col. Perry hollered, "Major what's the matter. Are not those men being marched back?" "No! God **** 'em!" he swore, "They are running!" It was true, Hill's boys were running--away, a sight we'd never seen before and as we passed began guying and chafing the retreating troops urging them to return, gesturing and shouting "We're Longstreet's boys, returned to fight with 'old Bob'. You all mustn't belong to Gen'l Lee's army? You don't look like the men we left here. Why your worse than Bragg's men."
Just over the rising curve of the road, the clear ringing of cheers, mixed with the roll of musketry indicated the head of the column had reached the fight though. Coming up out of the thick woods we emerged onto the edge of an old field (Widow Tapp's) to the left of the road and could finally see just what we were up against. As we were in the rear of the Division the whole scene was playing out in front of us. By the look of it the last brigades of A.P. Hill's Corp had broken and were fleeing to the rear and the dark smear of Yankee columns was just now pushing through the thin pines on the far side of the field. There were thousands and thousands of them devils ---with nothing in front of them but our two Divisions. Desperate times.
Kershaw's Division was already formed up and charging to the right of the Plank Road while our Division moved to the left. Orders were quickly shouted to form in the quickest order and charge with whatever front we could make. Already the Texas Brigade (not more than 800 men) were already pounding across the field and heading right square against the Yankee lines. By God what a sight, but before they had gotten a couple hundred yards the Yankee line opened with a terrific volley, clearly knocking half of the entire Brigade down.
As we came up, Gen. Field, sitting his horse just as cool as could be, was giving a few last minute instructions to "Rock" Benning as his Georgian's began moving across the field in support of the Texans. They too were soon shrouded in smoke as the roar of musketry enveloped them. Then it was our turn. Throwing off blanket rolls and cooking gear, we formed up into companies in the broom grass field and wheeled off to our right when we see a group of horsemen, the central figure being "Marse" Lee himself. He sat astride his grey stallion, Traveller. black cape draped across his shoulders, his face anxious as he watched Benning's brigade disappear across the field at the run and into the tangled woods of the Wilderness listening to the progress of the mounting roar of musket fire.
As quickly as officers got their companies formed, we double-quicked into line of battle. The 4th Alabama took the right of the Brigade, followed by the 47th Alabama to our left, then the 44th Alabama, 48th Alabama and Col. Oates with the 15th Alabama securing the left of the Brigade. Colonel Bowles, pacing in front of the regiment, gave orders to load and cap our pieces, and some 200 ramrods scraped and jingled as we jammed a cartridge home.
The firing out front was furious now and Minié balls were beginning to fly thick and fast up the Plank Road. The Texan's and Benning's Georgia boys were certainly taking a beating and sorely needed help. It was looking squally as most of the Texican's were already down and nearly a quarter of the Georgian's as well. The butcher's bill for today would be high indeed but those two Brigades had checked the Yankee progress for the moment and it was our duty to try and throw them back. Behind us there was nothing, absolutely nothing. We were the last brigade up. If we couldn't hold them, those Yankee troops would come pouring through, our lines. Reading ourselves, Colonel Perry ordered the brigade forward and off we stepped. Gen. Lee, riding his horse up and down the in front of the column, turned on Traveler. "What troops are these?" he asks. Several of the boys hollered out "Law's Alabamians." Pointing towards the fighting in the far woods the General cried, "God Bless the Alabamians. All I ask of you is to keep up with the Texans.. Go out my brave Alabamian's and drive them back." It was impossible not to feel that every man that he passed was invincible and for the time being, a hero and erupting with a roar for "Marse Roberts", we moved off over the rise, flags flurried, ready for anything.
After passing Gen. Lee we pushed up to the crest of a rolling hill and were halted there and ordered to form "line right forward." General Field came dashing up, spoke a few words with Colonel Perry and then came down the line in person and called to Colonel Bowles with instructions that at the "advance" we would be the "battalion of direction" and to keep the right of the regiment firmly on the Plank Road. The open ground of the Tapp field sloped gently down some two or three hundred yards in our front before plunging suddenly into a steep narrow swampy morass. Across the ravine, the muffled roar of the Texans and Georgians were keeping up a steady fire that as they tried desperately to hold back the surge of Federal troops. Col. Bowles hollered for skirmishers to advance and we pushed down the hill, meeting the walking wounded of the Texas Brigade slowly trudging back out of the woods.
When our skirmish line reached the ravine they halted at the edge of a dense undergrowth, so thick you couldn't see ten feet in front of you. Cautiously we pushed our way into this "wilderness" and were fired upon before we gotten fifty feet. At the sound of the guns the rest of the Brigade charged in to their aid at the double quick. Pushing through this tangle of brush, we found our skirmishers halted at the edge of the ravine opening up a scattering fire upon the unseen foe hidden in the pine thickets on the far side of the swamp. Without a halt, the whole line stepped forward at the double quick, firing as we went. After about 100 yards through the tangled growth, we came upon a rough set of log works that the Feds must have just thrown up, but there was no one to be seen. The firing through the thickets out front was quite brisk but still we could see nothing of them. Not knowing quite what we were up against the officers halted us up and Col. Bowles barked out for us to lie down behind the logs and sent a squad of videttes out front to take a look.
What they could possibly see was a mystery though as we now saw why the locals called this the "Wilderness." Everywhere you turned the undulating land was covered with a thick growth of pine, chinquapin, cedar, oak and hickory beneath which grew stringy vines, brambles and any sort of undergrowth known to man. Although it was bright morning out, here in the morass, no light could possibly filter through the thick foliage and it felt more like dusk. The ground was covered with sluggish streams and boggy swamps in the hollows where a man would sink ankle or leg deep when he walks. All in all a rather dismal spot.
We were nearly blind laying here and couldn't see 20 or 30 yards in any direction through the thickets. Heavy musketry across the Plank Road on our right told us we had not out run our lines and we had Confederate support on our right flank. To our left we could barely make out the 47th Alabama in line of battle, but just where the rest of the Brigade was, was anyone's guess.
Just because we couldn't see the enemy though didn't mean they weren't there as soon enough as firing began out front and the videttes came rushing back crying that the Yankee's were coming
Sure enough through the tangle a dark line could be seen advancing. Popping up over our log works we put a volley into them, or at least what we thought was them. Now the boys on the far right of the regiment overlooking the road, could partially catch a glimpse of the enemy, so as to be able to fire with some degree of accuracy, but most of us in line here on the right simply fired into the that impenetrable thicket in hopes of hitting something. We must have done some damage as after another volley the shadows backed off.
` The lull didn't last long though as in a few moments a second much larger column could be heard thrashing through the brush, firing as they advanced. The crackle of the musketry here in the thick woods resembled the noise made by swiftly rasping a stick along a paling fence or shooting fire crackers into a barrel, as bullets zipped and snipped through the brush. Although they couldn't really see us very well their shots were low and we began taking casualties even though we were lying or kneeling behind our log protections. Will Harrison Jr. was struck in the neck. Herbert Chapell, a ball through his right shoulder. Jessie B. Nave took a ricochet shot off his left wrist and both John Griffin and George Barks took head wounds and although bleeding quite badly didn't look mortal . Firing at will, we knock down our share of those blue-bellies, but they kept it up as well. Henry Hoffman went down with a slight wound while Henry Chapman looked serious, a ball through his chest as he sucked desperately for a breath. James Cook and Charlie Gooken, both lay wounded. Bob Tribble, shot through his left arm, collapsed for a moment but calmly struggle to pick up his musket and gamely tries to reload not wanting to give up the fight.
Seeing no advantage in just lying here and taking fire, Col Bowles ordered us up and to the charge. Stepping up over our low works we went straight at them perfectly ignorant of just who or how many Yankee's were in our front. We pushed through the thickets best we could, firing as we went through a hailstorm of lead. Old man Quinley (Stephen D.) fell backwards, shot through the breast. Uriah Lowery was down and by the look, wouldn't be getting up. Alfred Floyd tumbled, struck in the leg. Sam Norwood pitches over, shot though his left arm and Gilbert Nicholson took a ball in his right ankle.
Still we were giving as good as we took as the Yankee's began falling back, although grudgingly into a second line of works. From the looks of it this must have been their original position as they were some stout looking breastworks of dead logs and fence posts, maybe three foot tall. It looked as if we might have some heavy lifting to do getting them out of there, but a couple of volleys barking into the logs, surprisingly sent them skeddadling.
Quickly scrambling up to our side of those breastworks, we kept up a desultory fire as the Federals slowly melded back into the brush, leaving their dead and wounded behind. Felt fairly secure behind this second line of works, congratulating ourselves on their capture without much of a fuss. While litter bearers tended to our wounded, Adj. Coles was sent off down to our left to make sure our left flank was secure, but to his dismay, returned to saying all he could find was the 47th Alabama and none of our other regiments of the brigade were in sight. It soon dawned on us that we were alone out here "like Moses in the Wilderness" perhaps surrounded already and a ominous verse from the bible came to mind- "Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness, and all that were numbered of you." It was enough to spook the stoutest heart.
The Yankee's hadn't gone very far and kept up a slow consistent fire and it was here that Dave Hood and James Rogers both took slight head wounds here as they peeped over the head logs to get a view.
Through the thick brush out front we could view several open spaces and catch a fleeting glimpse of the enemy darting from tree to tree as the fired, but most were concealed in the heavy underbrush and we had no way to measure the effect of our own fire. What with the dry brush everywhere, musket wading soon began starting small smoldering fires that added to the smoke and confusion. We kept it up some 10 or 15 minutes when suddenly we began taking heavy fire on our right flank from the far side of the Plank Road. Evidently our Confederate friends across the way had been driven back. At the same time word was passed down the line that the 47th Alabama on our left had suddenly fallen back. It was clear we had overrun our supports and the balls began zipping in thick and fast from both flanks, many finding targets. George Allen of "B" Company fell dead. Bob Pryor took a ball through his side in just about the same spot he'd been wounded at 2nd Manassas. Lt Hornbuckle of "G" was shot through the shoulder and Jason Hendrix was down. We all knew it was time to go and sure enough Col. Bowles hollered for us to step back.
Helping what wounded we could, we began stepping back in good order we continuing our fire as we went. The Yankee's seeing their advantage though quickly followed, keeping up a tremendous fire on us. Will Drake toppled, his leg suddenly a bloody useless mess. Messmates grabbed him by the arms, dragging him back with them. A ball shattered Jasper Newsome's arm and Capt. Brown of "F" Company went down hard but luckily the ball had just grazed his leg and he was able to hobble back with us with a little help. We humped it back to those first set of works we had passed but moments ago where we found the 47th Alabama already waiting us. Quickly tumbling behind those few rotten logs we bit off cartridges, loaded up and opened fire upon the advancing line of Yankee infantry. Thankfully, if brought them up short.
Col. Bowles ordered the wounded taken to the rear, but before the stretcher bearers could even get the serious onto the stretchers, the Yankee's came bounding towards us with their huzzah's sounding. Muskets up , we poured in a volley and then another as they got to within 30 yards of our frail works. Staggered by our onslaught, the Yankee's hesitated and Col. Bowles seeing the opportunity ordered bayonets and to the charge. Leaping over our slight protection, we went straight at them with a counter charge, bayonets and rebel yells, rushing through the brush and brambles yet again. They in turn declined our offer and turned and raced off through the woods. Again we drove them back beyond the second stand of works.
In the meantime the 20th Georgia from Benning's Brigade showed up and took position on our right, spreading out in line of battle parallel and facing the Plank Road to protect our right flank. The loud commands of the Federal officers could be heard over the din, urging their men forward. Over and over the Federal lines came on again and again. The slaughter was fearful, but those Yankee's gave as good as they took as our casualties mounted. Capt. Bayless Brown of "B" Company was killed and Lt.. Jones of "K" Company lay bleeding, shot through both legs. Lt. Kunzie took a grievous wound through the pelvis that looked terribly serious. James Robertson, shot through the breast, Johnny Russell through his right side and both lay sprawled on the ground, bloodied and hurt. Lt. Willie Newsome and James Hines of "H" both took leg wounds and were out of the fight. By now our ammunition was running low, but still it was load and shoot, load and shoot as the Federals out front began to stack up like cord wood. It seemed we were opposed by a stubborn lot, worthy of our steel as our boys continued to fall under their well directed fire. Christopher Pitts and Bob White were killed outright, both now lying there in unmoving heaps. Frank Turner, John Friday, Willie G. Young and Newton Snowden all went down hard and didn't look like they'd be getting up to soon, if at all. Ben Lockett was down, still as a stone, most certainly already dead.
Col. Bowles and Major Robbins continued to pace behind the firing line giving calm words of encouragement and exhorting us to aim low and keep protected. Will Raiford and Ben Steele are struck. Tom Mathews is struck in the leg. Suddenly the top of Eugene Hentz's head explodes into mush. Billy Craig is a bit luckier as a ball grazing his cheek and he's still in the fight. Still walking calmly behind the firing line Major Robbins keeps up the encouragement when suddenly he spins about, sword flying from his hand and falls heavily to the ground. Several of the boys rushed over to him, sure that he was dead, but being turned over, his eyes sprang open and we discovered he had nothing but a scalp wound.
As we continued the fight suddenly a conspicuous Federal officer, leaped his horse over several obstructions and came dashing down the Plank Road. Whether he was trying to rally his men or had lost his stirrups, we never new, but one of the boys on the right of the regiment, didn't waste the opportunity and shot him off his horse.
Surprisingly, there seemed to be a lull in the firing as for some reason the Federals had ceased firing and an eerie silence suddenly prevailed over the field. Dead and wounded Yankee's were scattered all across our front and from the constant musketry snipping through the brush and brambles, it was now possible to see near a hundred yards when we could barely see ten yards this morning. It was also discovered that the 20th Georgia to our right had disappeared, leaving our right flank completely unguarded, so taking advantage of the lull, Col. Bowles directed the orderlies to get our wounded off the field and ordered us to fall back to our first line. Having had their fill, thankfully the Federals didn't follow and we moved back without incident.
Here we reformed and in a short time Gen. Field rode up and had a low conversation with the officers, telling them we were relieved from the line and that Gen. Perrin's Alabama Brigade and a Florida Brigade under Edward Perry would take our place so we could resupply with ammunition. Col. Bowles soon has us on our feet and we moved off by the left flank some distance to the rear where we found the remainder of our Brigade hard at work building breastworks. Knowing full well the advantage of a line of good works, we took up on the right of the line and pitched right in pulling up dead wood and fence rails.
Well we didn't see hide nor hair of any Yankee advance along our front, but the heavy roll of musketry could be heard rapidly extending in our direction and assuring us that we would soon be called up. Sure enough around 3pm Gen. Perry could be seen talking with several officers. Seems scouts had spotted a large body of Federals off to our left and the small Florida Brigade was already moving out in that direction. We were soon called back into line with orders to "advance the brigade in echelon of battalions" at 40 paces, which meant rather that forming line in column we lined up at a diagonal, each regiment slightly overlapping the head of the next. The 15th on the left was chosen to direct the advance so the 4th, being on the right of the line, took up the rear of the brigade and we marched off obliquely to our left, closely following the Floridians.
We hadn't advanced more than a couple hundred yards when the rattle of musketry in front told us the Florida boys had treed something. Picking up the step we pushed through the woods and up a low ridge to find Col. Oates with the 15th and 48th Alabama kneeled down behind a few logs and the Florida Brigade to their left. In their front across a swampy ravine, a thick dark line of Federal infantry were coming forward in line of battle just thick as fleas. Just like that the Yankee line struck into the left flank of the Floridian's and sent them reeling backwards. Col. Perry seeing we were about to be overrun, hollered for us to hurry. The 44th and 47th regiments just ahead of us, raced towards the left to try to hold them, while we were directed to form line on the right of the Brigade next to the 48th. Muskets up we pour in a volley.
This seemed to give them some pause, but they rattled off their own volley. A good portion of "B" Company, who was on the far right flan went down though, Alonzo Richardson fell dead, shot through the head. Ed Ervin, John Gilbert and Georgie Smoke were all hit. Larkin Geeslin of "C" tumbled, a ball through his thigh and George McNeal lay shot through the throat, bleeding out there in the brush. Muskets up, we pushed another volley into them scattering a good few. There was nothing else to do but stand there behind a few root wads and what downed timber we could drag up and continue to trade shots with them. The air was full of lead and more disconcerting was that every shot was taking its toll.
Within a few moments, Sgt. Columbus Woolley, Gus Johnston lay bleeding to death. John Stearns wounded in the neck. George Story falls. Joe Walker is struck, his arm hanging at an awkward angle. Elias Leake lays hard clutching a mangled leg while Willie Thompson lay still as a stone, little better than dead by the look of him.
We were taking a murderous fire, minie balls raining like hailstone, snipping off leaves and twigs and finding softer targets. Henry Dubberly took a grazing wound in the side, but was still able to handle his musket. John McKinning clutched his chest and fell over dead, lying their with that surprised look of death on his face. James Gardner was struck in his left arm. Tom Melton knocked off his feet as a shot nearly severed his right foot. By now the woods were afire, and mixed with the gun-smoke was so thick it was hard to see. Still we stuck at it, loading and firing. Our Color Bearer, Ensign Beasley, was struck in the breast but managed to keep the flag aloft. Caleb Gardner and Joe Hyde went down hurt.
Suddenly the firing to our left seemed to grow and looking down the line we could see Major Carry's 44th Alabama on the far left of the line, starting to fall back as Federal troops came swarming around their flank. Seeing the situation, the 47th Alabama started doing the same, firing slowly as they too pulled back from the firing line. With the collapse of our left flank, heavy firing began to strike us from that direction. Wiley Narmore and Foster Terrell were both struck, but didn't seem to badly hurt. Several balls thud into Little Frankie Hicks. Dropping his musket he takes a few steps and pitches face forward into the brush, dead as stone. Will Scott and Harrison Longest tumble and fall. Our whole line was crumbling and none of us had to be told, it was time to stay and be captured or go. Turning on our heels, we hot-footed to the right, taking our lives but leaving our pride behind.
The Yankee's, seeing their advantage, were quick to follow, hollering like the devil for us to "Halt! Halt! Halt!" One thick Irishman stood over Williamson Parker of "D" Company, who had been wounded and couldn't follow. Seizing Williamson's musket he continued to yell after us, "Halt! ye divils! Bejazes, yr're my prisoners now!"
Well it was a lively run as we crashed through the thickets for two or three hundred yards finally coming out of the woods and began marching slowly up the hill and into the open of the Widow Tapp's farm, not far from where we had started this morning. Col. Bowles soon had everyone in line with the remainder of the Brigade as we formed right front towards the enemy. A quick head count told us we had gotten most of the wounded out, but not all.
Exhausted from our long run, we were allowed to lay down in line when we suddenly heard three loud "Huzzas" from a strong Yankee line just breaking out of the woods and into the field below. It looked like we were in for it when just as suddenly the woods behind them exploded with a hard volley. By God it was Davis's Mississippi Brigade, and our old friends the 2nd and 11th Mississippi Regiments firing into their rear. Why those Federal's didn't think twice, but off they ran like frightened sheep, throwing away guns, hats, blankets, knapsacks and anything that would slow them down as they skedaddled out of sight just as fast as their feet could take them. Lord did we give them a good "Rebel Yell" in parting.
With our front clear we soon had orders to advance and marched back across the field over the same ground which we had just been driven taking a position several hundred yards into the woods. Remained here as the sun finally set and put an end to the fighting.
As we waited Gen. Field rode down the line to enquire how we were doing. Now being a bit sheepish ourselves at our own sudden departure from the front, one of the wags walked up to the General just bold as brass to have a few words with him- "Why don't you let us charge 'em? We can lift 'em out of these woods in ten minutes and take 'em five miles from here, if you'll say so. Why, we had 'em running just now, and they wouldn't let us follow them."
The General smiled at this and answered- "We only wish to hold this position at present, such are my orders, however I am ready for the charge at any time son"
As he rode off with a laugh the young wag quipped- "All setting up. General. All setting up!"
Well though we were ready, there was no more charging the enemy for us and we remained quietly here in the Tapp field, listening to the ebb and flow of the battle as the sun slowly began to set and tending to our wounded. When it was full dark, an orderly came through with orders and we were soon under arms, marching across the Plank Road to take up position several hundred yard to the right. Spent the remainder of the night hauling up logs, branches and timber for a good stout line of works.
 

4th Alabama

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These 4th Alabama threads are from research I have done on the 4th Alabama over the years, which I've endeavored to turn into sort of a day by day diary of what the Regiment did throughout the war. I mostly researched and used primary sources as well as other published books, letters, diaries, War Records and old newspapers or articles, to come up with a narrative that could tell the story of these men. For example the casualties come from the original Muster Rolls, lists of casualties in the newspapers and CSA Official records as well as old pension records Here is what I have on May 7th 1864.

After the fight in the Wilderness the 4th Alabama waited to see what the Yankee's would do. I left the footnotes in.

May 7, 1864. Saturday. [In line of battle. Plank Rd.]
As dawn broke in the east, here we sit behind the Plank Road, The officers soon has us hauling up more logs, rails and branches to pile up against these flimsy breastworks, anything that might help to keep those pesky blue-bellies at bay. Figuring we might as well make ourselves comfortable, we used our bayonets to pick and dig rough shelves and firing ledges, scooping up the dirt with dinner plates and heaving it up on top of the whole shebang.https://civilwartalk.com/file:///C:/Users/Member/Documents/4th Alabama Final Book for Printing from Kinkos 12 14 17/Book Proof Chapter 1-10 on 8x11 pages Nov 2017.docx#_edn1 The Yankee's were likely doing the same a short distance out front and a few of the boys went "news walking" returning after a bit with truly jaw-crossed, knee-dropping news that General Longstreet had been wounded and General Jenkins killed in yesterdays fighting. Don't reckon most of the boys shed much of a tear for General Jenkins, considering what bad blood there was between him and General Law, but "Old Pete" was a different matter, even if he had treated us poorly. Scuttlebutt was General Richard Anderson, the senior officer, had been put in charge of the 1st Corps for the time being.[ii]
All around us was nothing but a spectacle of horror. What had been this unbroken tangled forest was now charred torn and a cut up mess with numerous broken pathways and every tree in sight seemed to be stripped clean and riddled with balls. Muskets were strewn over the ground, along with every conceivable type of accouterments, clothing and litter. Dead men and horses lay in heaps in every direction. The stench of burning was suffocating from the smoldering fires brought on by yesterday's fighting.[iii]
Details were sent out into that horror to gather up any usable muskets, until we had three or four guns to a man, loaded and just waiting for those Yankee's to attack, though those blue boys declined any invitation and we remained unmolested here other than the periodical skirmishing that flared up now and then. Litter bearers were busy searching our side of the woods for casualties, and we spent the afternoon carrying for what wounded were brought back to the field hospital, rounding up and burying our own dead. In the rear the surgeons had stretched their great hospital tents, over which the yellow flag floated and were busily engaged in their gruesome work of whacking off arms and legs.[iv]
Col. Bowles, who had gone out in this morning said he counted ten dead Yankee's for every one fallen Confederate soldier, so by that count it would seem we whooped them up good. Still, for us, we had suffered a good deal for when Adjutant Cole called the roll this morning. Here's how the Regiment stood at 127 men present for duty-[v]
1557269248464.png

Out of the 179 enlisted men[vi] and 17 officers we had gone into the fight with the regiment yesterday, the butchers bill was 15 killed and 56 wounded or some 30% of the entire regiment! Among our casualties Major Robbins had been severely wounded in the face. Capt. Bayless Brown of "B" had been killed and Capt. James Brown of "F" seriously wounded. Lt. Kunzie of "B", Lt. James Hornbuckle of "G," Lt. Newsome of "H" and Lt.. Robert Jones of "K" had all been wounded. We also had 7 men missing and presumed captured- George Smoke, John Dollins, Thomas Mathewson, Williamson Parker, William Peeples, Hezakiah Moore and Caleb Garner.[vii] Still we counted our luck where we could take it as several of our wounded weren't too terribly bad and quite a few of the boys nursed bruises from spent and glancing balls caused by the thick undergrowth and timber, but remained on the firing line.[viii]
Well we fully expected the Yankee's would come around for a visit sometime today, but everything remained quiet through late afternoon and we were able to make a fair supper from contents gleaned from the haversacks of the Yankee dead scattered about. As darkness fell, a few details manned the breastworks as lookouts while the rest of us unrolled bedrolls and bedded down for the night.[ix]
We hadn't been a sleep but a few hours though when the officers came around shaking everyone awake. Stumbling to our feet, certain the Yankee's were creeping up on us, we grabbed muskets ready to man the works, but instead were ordered to fall into line and were soon marching out in column of fours by the right flank. Moving through the thickets that seemed to snag at every step, we finally found ourselves moving down a newly cut road running nearly parallel with our lines. The word that filtered through the ranks was that Grant's army had pulled up stakes and was on the move. The entire 1st Corps was to follow, Kershaw's Division leading the advance and ours taking up the rear.[x]
With no moon, we stumbled along the rough road navigating by star light. It was slow going as the road was narrow and crowded with troops overflowing on either side, but we managed on best we could, jostling through the darkness. Our route seemed to takes us through a part of the forest which had caught fire somehow during the fight and the smoke from the smoldering leaves hung in clouds upon the ground and like to choke and suffocate us until we finally cleared our way through into some fresh air. Out in the open though it didn't get much easier as we splashed through streams, waded boggy swamps and pushed our way through the pine thickets, keeping up the pace best we could through this accursed country.[xi]




https://civilwartalk.com/file:///C:/Users/Member/Documents/4th Alabama Final Book for Printing from Kinkos 12 14 17/Book Proof Chapter 1-10 on 8x11 pages Nov 2017.docx#_ednref1SHSP 14. pg. 546.The War Between the Union and the Confederacy. Oates. pg. 354. Some Events and Incidents. Jordan. pg 91.
[ii]From Manassas to Appomattox. Longstreet. pg.564-565.
[iii] The description of the battlefield comes from a member of Gen. Samuel McGowan's Brigade. M'Gowan's South Carolina Brigade. pg 138, Col. Bowels of the 4th Alabama walking over the battlefield on the 7th wrote- "...I counted 27 bullet marks on one small hickory bush. On the morning before the fight it was impossible to see twenty yards in any one direction, but then I could see for two hundred yards and leap my horse with ease." Philadelphia Weekly Press. Oct. 4, 1888. "Battle of the Wilderness" by Pinckney Bowles. Pg 1.
[iv] History of Kershaw's Brigade. Dickert. pg 352. CV 22. pg 357.
[v]This breakdown of the strength of each Company comes from my own research combing through the Compiled Service Records I found that there were 198 officers and men marked "Present at the Wilderness battle and was able to come up with the strength of each Company. Compiled Service Records.
[vi] Sgt. Mortimer Cook in a notice written for the Richmond Enquirer wrote that the "strength of the regiment in the first day's fight" at the Wilderness was 179 men in the 4th Alabama, putting the strength of each Company thus- Co A-? Co B-18. Co C-17. Co D-19. Co E-30. Co F-16. Co G-19. Co H-? Co I-10. Co K-?. Richmond Enquirer. July 6, 1864 "Casualties. Fourth Alabama" . pg 1. Col. Bowles in his article in the Philadelphia Weekly wrote that the "4th Alabama went in on the morning of the 6th with 200 muskets and 17 commissioned Officers. During the day, 90 men and 10 officers were disabled. Philadelphia Weekly Press. Oct. 4, 1888. "Battle of the Wilderness" by Pinckney Bowles. Pg 1.
[vii]The casualty figures come from-Casualties- Wilderness from List of Casualties 4th Alabama in the campaigns of 1864 From Adj. Robert Coles (4th Ala.) Mar 5 1865. - Series 1. National Archives. and Compiled Service Records. Adj. Robert Coles put the casualties for the 4th Alabama at 15 killed and 59 "incapacitated for duty." Cole. 'Wilderness.' pg. 21. The Partial Returns for the 1st Army Corps for the 4th Alabama list 2 Officers and 20 men killed. 9 Officers and 53 men wounded with 6 men missing. OR36(1) Partial Return of Casualties. pg 1060.
Col. Bowles wrote that of the "two hundred muskets and seventeen commissioned officers" that went into the fight, "ninety men and ten officers were disabled." Philadelphia Weekly Press. Oct. 4, 1888. "Battle of the Wilderness" by Pinckney Bowles. Pg 1.

[viii]Cole. 'Wilderness.' pg. 21.
[ix]CV 22. pg. 357.
[x]Cole. 'Wilderness.' pg. 22.CV 14. pg 111. Dailey Constitutionalist. (Augusta Ga.) June 7, 1864. " Another Interesting Letter." pg 2. SHSP 14. pg 547OR 36(1) Diary of 1st Corps. May 7th. pg. 1056. OR 51(2) Lee to Ewell. pg. 902. [For route of march see Atlas 45(1)
.
[xi]Alexander. Fighting for the Confederacy. pg. 366. The War Between the Union and the Confederacy. Oates. pg. 354. Fighting for the Confederacy. Alexander pg 366. Dailey Constitutionalist. (Augusta Ga.) June 7, 1864. " Another Interesting Letter." pg 2. CV 22. pg. 357.
 

ErnieMac

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Why was Jenkins disliked?
The 4th Alabama was part of Law's Alabama Brigade. Law was a competent brigadier, popular with his men and the senior officer in Hood's Division when Hood was promoted to Corps command in while Longstreet's Corps was in Tennessee. Longstreet had other ideas. Jenkins was one of his favorites; Longstreet appointed him to command the division and attempted to have him promoted. Things went downhill rapidly from there. Law resigned, tried to rescind his resignation, was arrested and court martialed by Longstreet. When the court cleared Law, Longstreet had him arrested for insubordination. All of the colonels of Law's Brigade requested transfer of their units back to Alabama. It finally took Robert E. Lee's appointment of Charles W. Field to the command of the division and Jenkins' death to put the matter to rest. The men of Law's brigade directed their anger at Jenkins because Longstreet was too much an icon to aim it in his direction.
 

Sbc

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The 4th Alabama was part of Law's Alabama Brigade. Law was a competent brigadier, popular with his men and the senior officer in Hood's Division when Hood was promoted to Corps command in while Longstreet's Corps was in Tennessee. Longstreet had other ideas. Jenkins was one of his favorites; Longstreet appointed him to command the division and attempted to have him promoted. Things went downhill rapidly from there. Law resigned, tried to rescind his resignation, was arrested and court martialed by Longstreet. When the court cleared Law, Longstreet had him arrested for insubordination. All of the colonels of Law's Brigade requested transfer of their units back to Alabama. It finally took Robert E. Lee's appointment of Charles W. Field to the command of the division and Jenkins' death to put the matter to rest. The men of Law's brigade directed their anger at Jenkins because Longstreet was to much an icon to aim it in his direction.
Thanks
 

Sorah_45thVA

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First and foremost, having been born in Knoxville and lived here my whole life, I feel it absolutely necessary to say that Brownlow and his thugs over at the "Knoxville Whig and Rebel Ventaltor" were scoundrels and have only hurt East Tennessee to this day with their post war policies that still linger. I agree wholeheartedly with this man's take on the nature of those people. Hahahaha sorry that's just an opinion not trying to argue. Thanks for posting this though I thourghly enjoyed this post!
 

Sorah_45thVA

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Knoxville
The 4th Alabama was part of Law's Alabama Brigade. Law was a competent brigadier, popular with his men and the senior officer in Hood's Division when Hood was promoted to Corps command in while Longstreet's Corps was in Tennessee. Longstreet had other ideas. Jenkins was one of his favorites; Longstreet appointed him to command the division and attempted to have him promoted. Things went downhill rapidly from there. Law resigned, tried to rescind his resignation, was arrested and court martialed by Longstreet. When the court cleared Law, Longstreet had him arrested for insubordination. All of the colonels of Law's Brigade requested transfer of their units back to Alabama. It finally took Robert E. Lee's appointment of Charles W. Field to the command of the division and Jenkins' death to put the matter to rest. The men of Law's brigade directed their anger at Jenkins because Longstreet was too much an icon to aim it in his direction.
Again just an opinion, but my esteem for Longstreet begins with the Knoxville Campaign. He proved incomptent for the job of planning a campaign alone, unwilling to cooperate with Bragg when that was obviously necessary to secure East Tennessee. And without doubt unable to control normal command structure changes. What do you guys think?
 

Coonewah Creek

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Northern Alabama
The 4th Alabama, 2nd and 11th Mississippi, and 6th North Carolina State Troops (and originally Turney's 1st Tennessee) were all part of the Old 3rd Brigade, an anomaly in an army with regiments almost always brigaded together by state. First serving under Generals Bee and Whiting and then Colonel Law prior to his promotion to BG, these regiments suffered from the fact that by the time the Old 3rd was broken up and the regiments dispersed, to a large extent, combat reputations had already been made at the brigade level. Although all these regiments would all go on to serve with distinction in their new brigades, they would unfortunately never be recognized to the same degree as many regiments that had served with their parent brigade from the beginning of the war.
 

4th Alabama

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It was quite unfortunate for the Confederacy that two good Generals, such as Evander Law and Micah Jenkins disagreements in Georgia and Tennessee, would grow to effect the brigade for the rest of the war, drawing Law into a serious controversy with General Longstreet, that would eventually involve General Lee and President Davis. It would lead to several charges and arrests and finally an ignominious transfer from the regiment and brigade that had borne his name almost from the beginning of the war.
Law and Jenkins were at odds over the command of Hood's Division. Evander Law felt he was the rightful heir to General Hood. His Alabamians and Hoods Texans had been together and were "the Division" almost from the very first shots of the war. His long history and credentials spoke for themselves.
Evander Law had organized the first company mustered into the 4th Alabama and had been elected Lt. Col. of the regiment only behind the popularity of EJ Jones at its inception. He led the regiment into its first battle at 1st Manassas and was elected its Colonel after the death of Col. Jones. At Seven Pines, as the senior colonel he was put in charge of the brigade as General Whiting took over the duties of Divisional Commander. He remained in this capacity through the Seven Days battles, 2nd Manassas, Boonsboro and Sharpsburg. On October 2nd 1862 he was appointed to the rank of Brigadier General leading the brigade through the battles of Fredericksburg, Suffolk and Gettysburg, taking over the responsibility of the Division after the wounding of General Hood. Law remained in charge of the Division as they moved to Georgia and continued the duties of Divisional Commander at Chickamauga.
Micah Jenkins on the other hand had every bit a meritorious record as Evander Law. Helping organize the 5th South Carolina regiment at the beginning of the war, he had been elected its Colonel, leading them at 1st Manassas and Yorktown and was put in charge of Anderson’s brigade at Williamsburg as well as at Seven Pines. With the return of General Anderson, Jenkins was again put at the head of his regiment in the Seven Days battles, but returned to command the brigade at Glendale. Promoted to Brigadier General on July 22nd he led his brigade at 2nd Manassas, Fredericksburg and Suffolk and was then posted at Petersburg. Languishing in the backwaters of the war, Jenkins made repeated applications to General Lee to be transferred back to the Army of Northern Virginia. [see OR 51(2) pg. 745. & OR 29(2) pg 661] Finally successful, Jenkins brigade was transferred to Hood's Division on September 11th 1862 but did not arrive in Georgia until September 22nd, after the battle at Chickamauga.
It's interesting to note the amazing similarities between the two rivals. Both young, handsome and ambitious. They both were raised in South Carolina, graduating from the same school, the South Carolina Military Academy. Before the war Jenkins help co found and taught at the Kings Mountain Military School at Yorkville, South Carolina while Law co founded and taught at the Military High School in Tuskegee, Alabama. Jenkins a year older was 28 and Law 27 with similar records and was most probably equally experienced in leadership. Maddeningly equal Law had the advantage of continuity, but Jenkins held the advantage of sonority, having been appointed Brigadier General 74 days earlier than Evander Law.
This then was the backdrop of conditions after General Hood was wounded on the 20th of September. General Law, having just fought the Division through the two days of heavy fighting at Chickamauga, was not inclined to hand his command over to General Jenkins who had arrived from detached duty at Petersburg only a day after the battle and had not seen much active fighting since being wounded at 2nd Manassas. Jenkins on the other hand having been assigned to the Divisions and being the senior officer following military dictum, felt he should assume command.
The issue must have been hotly contested and highly disruptive for General Longstreet found it important enough to bring the matter up in his meeting with President Davis on the 10th of October. Longstreet recognizing Jenkins slim sonority, simply recommends promoting Jenkins to Major General and assigning him command. President Davis was reluctant, referring to Laws service with the Division, not making any decisions. [see Longstreet. pg. 467-68.] Without a decisive settlement, the matter was unfortunately left to fester with Jenkins in temporary command of the Division. Moxely Sorrel referring to the situation wrote, "as it was, the five brigades of this fine command were practically paralyzed by the difference...." [Sorrell. pg. 212.]
The battle at Wauhatchie was the first in a series of accusations and charges leveled at General Law of being less that cooperative in assisting and obeying his "commanding officer", General Jenkins. After the unsuccessful night attack against Geary's force at Wauhatchie, Jenkins blamed Law for the failure by abandoning his position to soon commanding the roadway and holding back the Federal reinforcements from Browns Ferry to the aid of General Geary. It was reported that General Law was heard to have said, "he did not care to win General Jenkins’s spurs as a major-general." [OR 31(1) pg. 218-19. Longstreet. pgs. 476-77.]
Whatever the case, no formal charges were brought against General Law, but it was the beginning of a series of incidents that would plague the brigade for the rest of the war.
Campbell’s Station on November 16th 1863 was the second incident in which General Jenkins attributes General Law for the failure. Again no formal charges were preferred against Law, but both Jenkins’s and Longstreet make references in their official reports of the "mismanagement of General Law"https://civilwartalk.com/threads/4th-alabama-infantry.157714/#_edn1 and Longstreet refers to an unidentified staff officer who reported, "I know at the time it was currently reported that General Law said he might have made the attack successfully, but that Jenkins would have reaped the credit of it, and hence he delayed until the enemy got out of the way."[ii]
Because General Law was never charged with any misconduct, but simply accused with implied insinuations he could not clearly fight in a court of law, not much is known about the facts of the incident other that from the reports of Jenkins and Law, and a handful of contemporary reports.
Longstreet would ultimately endeavor to leave the 4th Alabama and Gen. Law's entire brigade behind in Tennessee when he returned to Virginia in the spring of 1864. It proved to be unsuccessful. Unfortunately the feud continued nearly driving Gen Law from the service for a time and leaving Gen. Jenkins dead at the Wilderness. I think it was a black mark on Longstreet's abilities of independent command

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/4th-alabama-infantry.157714/#_ednref1OR 31(1).Gen. Longstreet Report. pg. 458. & Gen. Jenkins Report. pg 526-27.
[ii]Longstreet. pg. 495.
 

4th Alabama

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This is a letter I purchased late last year from Henry Figures, 4th Alabama Infantry. It's the second one of his that I've purchased over the years and thought it very interesting as I realized it was written from Yorktown Va. and was dated "April 21, 1861." I realized then that the date Henry had written was in error. In April 1861, the 4th Alabama hadn't even been organized, that came the following month when the Regiment was sworn into Service of the Confederate Army on May 7, 1861 in Dalton, Ga. As they were some of the first Regiments to enlist, they signed enlistment papers for ONE YEAR. Thus their enlistment actually ended the following year at Yorktown on April 21, 1862. That in time caused quite a problem to the Confederacy as other troops that had enlisted later, signed up for 3 yrs. or the "duration of the war." The Confederacy couldn't afford to loose seasoned veterans and eventually persuaded the "12 month" men to re-enlist or be conscripted, promising them that if they did, they could at least elect their own officers. At the beginning of the war it was usually the most wealthy or influential that were "appointed" to their positions of leadership. By the spring of 1862 after experiencing what WAR actually entailed, they had come to realize the value of having someone that was competent under fire was much more important. So on April 21, 1862 they held their election for Officers as Henry relates in his letter. Many of the officers were not re-elected. This is what Henry relays in his letter of "April 21, 1862" as follows-

The Letter reads-

Yorktown Va.
April 22, 1861

My dear Papa
The regiment left Ashland last monday week. Those who were not able to go were left behind. I was one of those who could not march. We staid there three days and then took the cars and went to Richmond, where I saw all my old acquaintances. We left next morning for this place. We took the cars at Richmond for West Point, there took schooner and got here, fatigued and very sleepy and hungry at dark. We slept in an old house that night. Next evening the regiment go her, so we came out to it. They had a very hard march about eighty miles. I would have went with them but I had the diarrhea, so I was to weak to go. I am perfectly well now. We have been here for several days. Yesterday Gen. Whiting [Gen. Wm HC Whiting] ordered an election to be held for company and regimental officers (you have heard by this time that the conscript bill has passed and we are in for two years.) Law [Col. Evander Law] is Col., McLemore [Lt. Col. Owen McLemore] (Major of the 14th Ala.) is Lt. Col, he beat Goldsby. [Capt. Thomas Goldsby of Co. "A"] Mastin [Capt. Gus Mastin. Co. "F" ] is Capt, W. W. Leftwich [Wm. Leftwich] is 1st Lieut, Orlando Halsey is 2nd Lieut.. Jim Brown 3rd Lieut. None of the old Lieuts was elected. Croxton [Milton Croxton]is Orderly Sergt. Jack Byms 2nd and I am 3rd Segt. Willie Farris is a Corpl. Wat Harris is 3rd Lieut. in his company. No news, fight is expected daily.
I will send more by Brown who is going home

Your Aff. son
HS Figures



Most of the men Henry refers to are from his Company "F" the "Huntsville Guards." The Regiment would remain in Yorktown until May 2nd 1862 when they left for Williamsburg. Henry Figures would later be appointed to the post of Adjutant of the 48th Alabama in May of 1863 and was killed at the Wilderness May 6, 1864. He's buried in Huntsville Alabama.



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