"I Rode With Stonewall" by Henry Kyd Douglas

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

mkyzzzrdet

Private
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Messages
214
Douglas is absolutely, completely and utterly wrong about this. I volunteer at Burnside Bridge and I have forded the creek just below Burnside Bridge, so I know whereof I speak. There is no way the federals could have forded the creek at the bridge for several important reasons:

1. A squad tried during the first assault on the bridge. They were all shot dead.

2. The sides of the creek bed are too steep near the bridge - you might get yourself in, but getting out is another question.
And you would never get your cannon, etc. in and out there. Cannon would topple directly into the creek bed because of the steep sides and stay there.

3. The bottom is uneven there - some rock, some silt, all slippery. Try getting across without falling. You fall, your powder is wet, you are useless as a soldier, and the Confederates would have killed you anyway.

4. Water slows you down even if it just ankle deep. When men are shooting at you, you can't be slowed down. They can and did kill you.

Sorry, but Douglas is just wrong when it comes to fording that creek under battle conditions. He was thinking with his brain as a seven-year-old playing in the creek, not a soldier trying to ford it with military equipment under battle conditions.

Rob - some very interesting observations, and you may well be right. I can't find my copy of the book, though, and I was wondering something. The points you make are certainly valid, but Douglas was a veteran soldier and staff officer. Wouldn't he have surely known about all the difficulties crossing the creek?
Was Douglas referring to someplace else further from the bridge? Has the terrain changed since the war?
 

Rob9641

Captain
Civil War Photo Contest
Annual Winner
Joined
Jun 7, 2010
Messages
5,967
Location
Maryland
Douglas might just have been the guy from the other side denigrating the Union forces. I haven't read the book so I can't comment beyond that, and that's just a guess, too.

Edited
 

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
7,864
Douglas might just have been the guy from the other side denigrating the Union forces. I haven't read the book so I can't comment beyond that, and that's just a guess, too.

Edited
Well, then, you ought to read it. Seriously.

BTW, I was in one of the country's most prominent and successful booksellers, two or three years ago now and found that Kyd Douglas' I Road With Stonewall, is still in print. You shouldn't have any trouble finding a very modern addition for sale. Or a used one, or a library loaner.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
7,864
Douglas is absolutely, completely and utterly wrong about this. I volunteer at Burnside Bridge and I have forded the creek just below Burnside Bridge, so I know whereof I speak. There is no way the federals could have forded the creek at the bridge for several important reasons:

1. A squad tried during the first assault on the bridge. They were all shot dead.

2. The sides of the creek bed are too steep near the bridge - you might get yourself in, but getting out is another question.
And you would never get your cannon, etc. in and out there. Cannon would topple directly into the creek bed because of the steep sides and stay there.

3. The bottom is uneven there - some rock, some silt, all slippery. Try getting across without falling. You fall, your powder is wet, you are useless as a soldier, and the Confederates would have killed you anyway.

4. Water slows you down even if it just ankle deep. When men are shooting at you, you can't be slowed down. They can and did kill you.

Sorry, but Douglas is just wrong when it comes to fording that creek under battle conditions. He was thinking with his brain as a seven-year-old playing in the creek, not a soldier trying to ford it with military equipment under battle conditions.
A seven year-old, eh? I appreciate that you volunteer there and know the terrain. Thank you for doing it.

But, do you have 1862 experience with Antietam Creek? One hundred fifty years of moving water and "preservation effort" can have a huge impact on what it looks like today.

That "a squad" tried to cross and got shot dead I have no doubt, but moving forces in column across the bridge in the face of Confederates on much higher ground was not a solution to this problem, as history shows.

I'm not ready to dismiss Henry Kyd Douglas' judgement on this issue.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Mike Serpa

Major
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
Messages
8,702
I don't know if this was what you meant or not, but the picture is a detail from the well-known and often-reproduced photo montage of Jackson and his staff:

View attachment 114308
This could be where I got the photo. It looks the same just a different color. Thanks. I try to keep a link to every photo but sometimes I fail.
 

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
7,864
I don't know if this was what you meant or not, but the picture is a detail from the well-known and often-reproduced photo montage of Jackson and his staff:

View attachment 114308
This could be where I got the photo. It looks the same just a different color. Thanks. I try to keep a link to every photo but sometimes I fail.
I noted up thread that Kyd Douglas' book was displayed in front of me in reprint form at a major bookseller, a few years back.

His picture was on the cover, taken from this photograph, apparently. The 2013 edition of I Rode with Stonewall is still available, here. Look for yourselves.

That this book is an enjoyable read is in my opinion confirmed by our own contemporary publishers and book sellers, willing to give it a go. Potential readers needn't be hard core period enthusiasts to enjoy it.

It's just a good-natured account of one man's experience, who knew about everyone and went about everywhere.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Rob9641

Captain
Civil War Photo Contest
Annual Winner
Joined
Jun 7, 2010
Messages
5,967
Location
Maryland
A seven year-old, eh? I appreciate that you volunteer there and know the terrain. Thank you for doing it.

But, do you have 1862 experience with Antietam Creek? One hundred fifty years of moving water and "preservation effort" can have a huge impact on what it looks like today.

That "a squad" tried to cross and got shot dead I have no doubt, but moving forces in column across the bridge in the face of Confederates on much higher ground was not a solution to this problem, as history shows.

I'm not ready to dismiss Henry Kyd Douglas' judgement on this issue.
The only 1862 experience I have is comparing the photos to what I see in front of me and times I have been IN the creek in the past. Gardiner's photos taken days after the battle show a creek that is a bit higher than it currently is (it's really down right now because of lack of rain). The approach into the creek (for the Union), right below the bridge, was and still is a more gentle slope than the sides at other locations, but the way out at that point, and the other banks around the bridge area, were and are steep. They have a good 8-10 foot drop, and the creek has not carved that much out of that ground in 150 years. You can tell from the old photos.

Years ago. I took part in a water quality study of the creek and had to wade in about 50 yards downstream of Burnside Bridge. It was VERY shallow at the time there - barely got up to my ankles. Still, I would not have wanted to run across the water at that point. Very slippery, and getting down to it from the western short was no easy chore either. If they got in there, Union soldiers would have to have climbed out the way I went in - very difficult.

And let's not forget, they are being shot at. I think the best evidence is that some tried, and all died.

Believe Douglas if you like, but I dismiss his assessment. He's just wrong.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Package4

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
3,341
Douglas is absolutely, completely and utterly wrong about this. I volunteer at Burnside Bridge and I have forded the creek just below Burnside Bridge, so I know whereof I speak. There is no way the federals could have forded the creek at the bridge for several important reasons:

1. A squad tried during the first assault on the bridge. They were all shot dead.

2. The sides of the creek bed are too steep near the bridge - you might get yourself in, but getting out is another question.
And you would never get your cannon, etc. in and out there. Cannon would topple directly into the creek bed because of the steep sides and stay there.

3. The bottom is uneven there - some rock, some silt, all slippery. Try getting across without falling. You fall, your powder is wet, you are useless as a soldier, and the Confederates would have killed you anyway.

4. Water slows you down even if it just ankle deep. When men are shooting at you, you can't be slowed down. They can and did kill you.

Sorry, but Douglas is just wrong when it comes to fording that creek under battle conditions. He was thinking with his brain as a seven-year-old playing in the creek, not a soldier trying to ford it with military equipment under battle conditions.
I think the creek would be completely different in terms of depth 150 years later, so a comparison to contemporary time is really impossible. Since Douglas grew up nearby, I would take him at his word.
 

AnnaLee

First Sergeant
Joined
Sep 4, 2017
Messages
1,302
Great story and one of the first CW books I read. My book is almost 40 years old and I've read it at least three times. Have gone by Henry Kyd Douglas' old homestead, 'Ferry Hill Plantation' many times over the years.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Joined
Jun 2, 2017
Messages
974
"I Rode with Stonewall" is a classic ACW book that should be on everyone's "Best 100" list. I probably have it in my personal "Top 25".
Henry Kyd Douglas above all is an excellent writer and his narrative is rich in detail throughout. I love how he describes simple life experiences, however minor and inconsequential they may at first seem to the reader. Here's one of those experiences he includes in his book---

He grew up in a mansion on a neighboring hill of the Potomac River. One day when Douglas was 19, he crossed the bridge and noticed a man ahead of him struggling to haul his two-horse wagon up the hill. A recluse known as Isaac Smith, the man said he was carrying miner’s tools, and Douglas offered to bring his father’s carriage horses to pull the heavy load. With Douglas’s invaluable assistance, Smith was able to cross the bridge and take the Harpers Ferry Road home.

A few months later, Douglas learned that recluse Isaac Smith was actually abolitionist John Brown and his wagon was full of pikes which he used to raid Harpers Ferry.

By the way, Douglas also watched the storming of the engine house by the federal Marines that ended John Brown's raid and later witnessed the treason trial that followed.
 

TerryB

Major
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Messages
9,591
Location
Nashville TN
"I Rode with Stonewall" is a classic ACW book that should be on everyone's "Best 100" list. I probably have it in my personal "Top 25".
Henry Kyd Douglas above all is an excellent writer and his narrative is rich in detail throughout. I love how he describes simple life experiences, however minor and inconsequential they may at first seem to the reader. Here's one of those experiences he includes in his book---

He grew up in a mansion on a neighboring hill of the Potomac River. One day when Douglas was 19, he crossed the bridge and noticed a man ahead of him struggling to haul his two-horse wagon up the hill. A recluse known as Isaac Smith, the man said he was carrying miner’s tools, and Douglas offered to bring his father’s carriage horses to pull the heavy load. With Douglas’s invaluable assistance, Smith was able to cross the bridge and take the Harpers Ferry Road home.

A few months later, Douglas learned that recluse Isaac Smith was actually abolitionist John Brown and his wagon was full of pikes which he used to raid Harpers Ferry.

By the way, Douglas also watched the storming of the engine house by the federal Marines that ended John Brown's raid and later witnessed the treason trial that followed.
Thanks for that. I had totally forgotten it. Put that in a novel and people will say it's too out in left field to be credible.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top