First Bull Run Kershaw at First Manassas: Reminiscences of David Wigfall Brailsford (Co I /2nd SC)

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lelliott19

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Image: "2nd South Carolina" by @Gettmore https://civilwartalk.com/threads/may-2017-potm-now-accepting-entries.133070/#post-1512149
It was the death of Major General Joseph B. Kershaw on April 13, 1894 that prompted Pvt. David Brailsford to submit his recollections to the newspaper. Brailsford vividly recalls the anticipation; the arrival of Kirby Smith; the conspicuous part played by Kemper's battery; the charge on the Zouaves; the capture of Rickett's battery; Edmund Ruffin riding in on the cannon; the pursuit of the retreating enemy; and the capture of "Long Tom." He opines on the heroic conduct of members of his regiment and the consummate skill with which Kershaw handled his command. The article was published in The Anderson Intelligencer on July 04, 1894. Due to its length, it will be excerpted and posted in multiple parts.
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Joseph Brevard Kershaw (b. 1822) was a South Carolina lawyer. He served in the Mexican War and was elected to the South Carolina State Senate in 1852. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Kershaw was commissioned Colonel of the 2nd South Carolina. During the Battle of Fort Sumter, he was present at Morris Island. During the battle of First Manassas, Kershaw's regiment, the 2nd South Carolina, and the 8th South Carolina were detached from the rest of Bonham's South Carolina brigade.

David Wigfall Brailsford (8 September 1843 - 4 August 1915), the author of the reminiscences, was a young Private in Kershaw's regiment at First Manassas. He enlisted in May 1861 at age 17 as a Private in Capt G B Cuthbert's Company, which became company I, 2nd South Carolina. He later saw service in the 7th SC Cavalry (March 1862 until Feb 1865.)

Joseph B Kershaw eventually made Major General and commanded a division in Longstreet's First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. After the war, he served again in the State Senate and a judge in the Circuit Courts 1877 to 1893, when he resigned due to ill health. He was appointed postmaster in Camden SC in 1894 and died later that year on April 13. He was 72 years old. The article below was prompted by David W. Brailsford's memory of, and admiration for, General Kershaw.

July 17, 1861
...The soldier eye of Beauregard had selected the banks of Bull Run as his line of defense, and the troops were hurried forward from Manassas as fast as the trains, which were running night and day without stopping, could land them from Richmond. Our brigade was selected to defend Mitchell's Ford, just where the stream was crossed by the great highway running from Manassas to Washington, and upon which road the enemy was now moving with his entire army to force a passage of the stream at this point. Kershaw's regiment was precisely at the crossing, with his breastworks on either side of the highway, and with the other regiments of the brigade extending up the southern bank of the stream.​
THE BULL RUN SKIRMISH​
Col. Kershaw was charged with conduct of affairs in his immediate front. About midday the enemy were reported by our cavalry videtted at a point two miles in our front and advancing. Col. Kershaw ordered Capt. Wallace, of the Columbia Grays (Co. C), to take his company beyond the stream to a point he had selected on the highway in the yard of a farm house and occupy it as an outpost and one of observation. He also threw across the stream a section of two guns of Kemper's battery, and ordered Capt. Cuthbert to protect them with the Palmetto Guard (Co. I.)​
Kemper placed his guns in a field to the left of the road just below the crest of a hill, over which the brass muzzles of his dogs of war just peeped, the Palmetto Guard taking position on the left and in line with his guns. We were in this position just a few minutes when a volley from the Grays announced that they had opened the ball, and we saw a trooper leading in a wounded horse, which proved to be that of a drunken officer who rode up to Capt. Wallace inquiring for some Northern General, and whom the humane Wallace tried to save from certain death by making him his prisoner, but the poor fellow could not realize his surroundings, and reeling in his saddle he wheeled his horse and attempted to escape and was beyond capture when the Grays fired, riddling him with bullets.​
From our position could now be plainly seen heavy columns of the enemy's infantry deploying into line of battle and forming on both sides of the highway. Their immense numbers, the steadiness and precision with which they rapidly took their positions in line was thrilling to witness. Just to their rear and on an elevation was placed a 24-pounder, the largest gun ever pulled along as part of a field battery, and which opened fire with a thundering discharge that sent a shell way above our heads, beyond our breastworks on Bull Run and exploded harmlessly on the hills above. This was answered by a defiant Rebel yell that rolled like a great wave for miles along our lines. This shelling was continuous while the column was advancing to the attack.​
<To be continued.>​
Source: The Anderson Intelligencer., (Anderson Court House, SC), July 04, 1894, page 1.
NOTE: The OP image, entitled "2nd South Carolina" was borrowed from @Gettmore - previously posted here https://civilwartalk.com/threads/may-2017-potm-now-accepting-entries.133070/#post-1512149 It's a fantastic image and perfect for this posting here with Brailsford's account. Thanks @Gettmore !!!!!
 
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Andy Cardinal

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As a quick summary, part of the 2nd South Carolina (or "2nd Palmetto") was apparently present for the bombardment of Fort Sumter. It was organized as a regiment in April. Its original organization was:

Company A—W. H. Casson ("Governor's Guard")
Company B—A. P Hoke ("Butler's Guard")
Company C—William Wallace ("Columbia Gray's")
Company D—T. S. Richardson ("Sumter Guards")
Company E—John L. Kennedy ("Camden Volunteers")
Company F—W. W. Perryman ("Secession Guard")
Company G—I. Haile ("Flat Rock Guards")
Company H—H. McManus ("Lancaster Invincibles")
Company I—G- B. Cuthbert ("Palmetto Guards")
Company K—R. Rhett ("Brooks Guards Volunteers")

The regiment was transferred into Confederate service and ordered to Virginia on April 24. Apparently only four of the companies agreed to go to Virginia initially, but the rest soon followed. The 2nd South Carolina was mustered into the Confederate Army on May 22. They were sent to Manassas and assigned to Bonham's brigade. The regiment lost 5 killed and 43 wounded on July 21.
 
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lelliott19

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According to Gary Adelman, this image captioned as Blackburn's ford is in fact located not far from Mitchell's Ford where the Confederate Railroad crossed Bull Run. The Medford Historical Society Civil War Photograph Collection source

July 17, 1861 - Brailsford's account continues from above

GOOD WORK OF KEMPER'S BATTERY
When they had reached within two hundred yards of Kemper's guns he opened a terrific fire upon them with grape and canister. Being to the right oblique of their advancing line, and screened by the hill, they were not aware of his presence until his guns tore great gaps in his lines and created confusion in their ranks. No two guns on earth were ever worked with more deadly effect or fired as many shots in a given time.

In addition to this demoralizing fire our formidable breastworks broke upon their view just at this point in their advance, and the columns of attack made a left wheel and marched obliquely across the front of our works at Mitchell's Ford, and moved upon Blackburn's Ford, just a mile below, which was defended by Longstreet and his Virginians. Here the surging columns were met from the opposite bank with such volleys of musketry as no troops on earth could withstand and effect the passage of a stream.

It was an infantry fight from the opposite banks in less than fifty yards, and the roar of the musketry was incessant. The federals persisted in their attack for a couple of hours and slowly withdrew. During the fight Beauregard and his brilliant staff, among whom we recognized United States Senator Chesnut and Gov. Manning, rode up to the rear of the battery of the Palmetto Guard. The sun went down with our lines unbroken and the enemy repulsed at two points. Thus ended the battle of Bull Run proper. <In this excerpt, the author refers to the events of July 17, 1861 as "Bull Run proper.">

CHANGE OF POSITION
During the night our brigade (Bonham's) was moved a mile higher up the stream to a point where it was easily fordable and where it was thought the enemy would attempt to cross, having had quite enough of the fords at Mitchell's and Blackburn's. We got into our new position after midnight, and being told that we would in all probability be attacked at daylight, we dug up the soil with our bayonets and shoveled it up in front of us with our tin plates in a most lively manner, and by sunrise had a very respectable breastwork. Here we remained the 18th, 19th, and 20th; and all of the night of the 20th we could plainly hear the enemy on the turnpike just a half mile in our front as their artillery would rumble over the stones of the roadbed passing around our left in the direction of the Stone Bridge.

Source: The Anderson Intelligencer., (Anderson Court House, SC), July 04, 1894, page 1.
 
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lelliott19

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July 21, 1861 - Brailsford's account continues from above
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THE FIRST MANASSAS BEGUN
We were not surprised, therefore, the next morning when just at sunrise rapid firing was heard away up to our left, where they had crossed the valley of Bull Run above the Stone Bridge and turned our left flank. They were met though, by such heroes as Stonewall Jackson, Bee and Bartow and the chivalrous Hampton with his splendid legion. The roar of musketry was continuous and the boom of the artillery could be heard above its din. We were kept in line ready to move at a moment's notice and every moment expecting that notice. While in this position our chaplain, the Rev. Mr. Meynardie, passed down the line, holding a short service of prayer for each company.

About midday a courier dashed up to our position and asked for Col. Kershaw. It was an order that he should take his regiment (2nd SC) and the 8th (SC) and move promptly in the direction of the firing, followed by Kemper's battery. We moved immediately out of the trenches by columns of fours, and headed for the battlefield, followed by the 8th regiment and the artillery. We moved on through old fields sparsely covered with second-growth pines and with no sign of a road, but guided alone by the increasing sound of the firing as we approached the field.

It was at least three miles from the point where we left our trenches to the spot where we came under the shells from Pickett's battery located at the Henry House. We were not yet in sight of them, being a half mile distant, with many ravines and skirts of short growth pine between us; but a body of cavalry passing our left flank at a rapid gait raised clouds of dust, at which the battery opened a brisk fire, rightly surmising it was from troops coming into action. The shells cut great limbs from huge trees, through a grove of which we were passing in descending a hill, and several members of the Palmetto Guard (I/2nd SC) were wounded and stunned by them.
Source: The Anderson Intelligencer., (Anderson Court House, SC), July 04, 1894, page 1.
 
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lelliott19

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@Andy Cardinal Interesting that Brailsford describes their position as much nearer the Henry House than the map seems to show? Do you have any insight on the accuracy of this battlefields.org map?

@Coonewah Creek looks like your guys were right there too. Do any accounts from your regiment mention Kershaw, the 2nd SC or the 8th SC?
 

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@Coonewah Creek looks like your guys were right there too. Do any accounts from your regiment mention Kershaw, the 2nd SC or the 8th SC?
An excerpt from my history does mention the 2nd SC as a part of an "ad hoc" battalion Extra Billy Smith put together with his 49th Virginia:

...The remainder of Evans’ and Bee’s brigades drifted to the rear of Jackson’s line, deployed in battle formation on the reverse slope of Henry House Hill. Here they were met by reinforcements from other parts of the field and coming straight off the cars at Manassas Junction. Seven companies of the 2nd Mississippi not with Bee reformed and Colonel Falkner reported to Beauregard for assignment.

These companies were placed in line to the left of an ad hoc battalion assembled by Colonel William “Extra Billy” Smith. This battalion was made up of the one still organized company of the 4th South Carolina, the two companies of the 11th Mississippi, and three companies of his own regiment, the 49th Virginia. This command extended Jackson’s line to the left. Soon the just-arrived 6th North Carolina State Troops joined on the 2nd Mississippi’s left, reaching almost to the Sudley Road and forming the extreme left of Beauregard’s new line. It was approximately 1:00 p.m. when the 2nd reentered the battle that soon became a confused melee of infantry, cavalry and artillery. Major Chase Whiting (later promoted to Major General), who assumed command of Bee’s Brigade after he fell, gave credit to the 2nd Mississippi for the capture of Rickett’s (Battery I, 1st U. S. Artillery) Federal battery. He reported,

'Deprived of their leader with most of their field officers shot, the Brigade still enticed [entered?] the fight directed by the commanding General in person. The Second Mississippi in particular, seven companies strong, charged with other troops and captured Rickett’s Battery, all the horses of which they killed with their musketry. The honor of this brilliant feat of arms they share with a portion of the Eleventh under Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell, the Sixth North Carolina which lost its Colonel, [Charles F.] Fisher, and a portion of Colonel Hampton’s Legion.' [1]

The unit usually given credit for the capture of Rickett’s Battery is the 33rd Virginia of Jackson’s Brigade, made possible due to the confusion caused by their approach in blue Virginia militia uniforms.

Colonel J. E. B. Stuart, commanding the 1st Virginia Cavalry, wrote in his report, “Just after the cavalry charge [against the New York Fire Zouaves] our re-enforcements arrived upon the field and formed rapidly on right into line. The first was Colonel Falkner’s regiment (Mississippians), whose gallantry came under my own observation.” Although Stuart does not mention the capture of the battery, Captain John M. Stone of the Iuka Rifles, Company K, 2nd Mississippi, did write of having overrun a Federal battery during the fighting.

Attack and counterattack continued until 4:00 p.m. when the continual arrival of fresh Confederate reinforcements allowed the Southern battle line to overlap the Federal right flank. A general advance was ordered, rolling up the Union line and putting McDowell’s green troops to disordered flight.
 

Andy Cardinal

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Not specifically about the Bull Run/Manassas maps, but the Battlefield Trust maps are generally pretty good in my opinion. However, as I have learned in my studies of Gettysburg and Antietam, there are often discrepancies between different maps showing the same events. I think we need a @Tom Elmore for Bull Run, lol!

The SC regiment's will appear in my 1st Minnesota thread shortly.
 
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lelliott19

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July 21, 1861 - Edmund Ruffin Rides in on Kemper's Cannon
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DISTINGUISHED VOLUNTEERS
The most honored and distinguished member of the Palmetto Guard was the Hon. Edmund Ruffin, of Virginia, a gentleman who declared he could not breathe the air of Virginia after South Carolina had seceded, and she remained still in the Union; so he came to Charleston and joined the Palmetto Guard (I/2nd SC) on James Island, and went with us to Virginia. He was apparently in his seventies (actually 67 years old), and wore his long white hair in locks upon his shoulders. Being unable to hold his place in our ranks by reason of the extreme heat and our rapid march, he accepted a seat on Kemper's battery, and as the guns rushed by us to their position his white hair was borne out upon the breeze and the soldiers cheered him lustily.
Source: The Anderson Intelligencer., (Anderson Court House, SC), July 04, 1894, page 1.
 

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July 21, 1861 - "If you are Carolinians come with us, for we are going to redeem the day."
(continued from above)

DEMORALIZED TROOPS
When within a mile of the field of battle we met streams of the wounded and hundreds of demoralized soldiers swarming to the rear, many of whom had thrown away their arms. They declared that the day was lost; that Bee, Bartow, Johnstone [sic] and Hampton were killed, and added that all who were not killed were like themselves retreating. In vain did the heroic (Capt) Cuthbert (I/2nd SC), with Lieuts. Holmes, Webb and Brownfield, plead and then order them to fall into our ranks -- all to no purpose. I remember Capt. Cuthbert's last appeal. He said: "If you are Carolinians come with us, for we are going to redeem the day." I heard him say this.

We now descended a hill, crossed a stream where our field hospital had been established and around which hundreds of the wounded lay, and the head of the column was turned to the right, and we moved far enough down stream to uncover the crossing for the 8th regiment. We then fours left into line wheeled, and the gallant old 2nd was in line of battle facing Ellsworth's Zouaves, of New York, who were just above a pine thicket about one hundred and fifty yards distant, and from the cover of which they kept up a rattling fire against us. While waiting for the 8th to cross and form on our left, the 2nd was ordered to lie down, and thus somewhat protect themselves from the galling fire of the Zouaves, who had killed and wounded a good many of the regiment.

DISCOMFORTED MARYLANDERS.
While lying down the 7th Maryland Battalion charged over us, crying, "Remember the 27th of April," on which day, I think, it was that some Federal troops passing through Baltimore fired upon some citizens, killing and wounding many. When within a short distance of them the Zouaves rose to their feet and delivered a terrible volley square in their faces; the battalion broke and fled down the hill in confusion, and as they passed us the regiment jeered them derisively.

While the 8th was getting into position its heroic commander, Col. E.B.C. Cash, mounted upon a splendid black charger, dashed up to Col. Kershaw, and pointed to the woods from which Ellsworth's command was still firing upon us, he said: "Colonel, are those the scoundrels in there?" Upon being answered in the affirmative, he said: "Well sir, I will have them out of there in five minutes," and wheeled his horse to return to his regiment. Col. Kershaw said: "You must await orders, Colonel. I am going to charge with both regiments in line."

CHARGING THE ZOUAVES
Col. Kershaw then took his position, mounted, midway between the regiments, and commanded in a ringing voice that was heard at the extreme flank of both regiments: "Attention, battalion." Every man sprang to his feet. "Fix bayonets." Two thousand bayonets flashed from their scabbards and the clash of steel was heard as they were clasped to the muzzles of the rifles. "Carry arms; right shoulder shift arms; advance in line; battalion forward, guide centre, march!" And the splendid line of two thousand infantry swept up the hill in magnificent style, not deigning a reply to the fire of the Zouaves, but reserving our volleys for bigger game.

When half way up the hill the Colonel's voice rang out with the thrilling command: "Battalion, forward, double quick; charge bayonets!" He had for months drilled us that at this command we should rush forward with a great cheer; so that with perfect truth it can be said that the famous rebel yell originated with him, and was raised by us that day in the first great charge of the war.

With deafening cheers and without firing a gun we passed over the Zouaves, and, rushing through a belt of loblolly pines, we debouched upon the battlefield at the foot of the hill on which the Henry house was located and before which Rickett's battery had taken up a commanding position just above two lines of battle formed midway its height. These troops were placed to receive us, and having heard the Rebel yell, they waited with eagerness our advent from the woods.

As we broke into sight thousands of muskets blazed in our faces in less than a hundred yards and our brave fellows went down by the score, but there were two thousand rifles in our ranks that were now for the first time leveled upon the foe, and a murderous volley poured into their dense ranks, and, with tremendous cheers, without waiting to reload, we rushed upon them with bayonets. They broke in wild confusion and fled across a ravine and formed upon a hill to the right of their position and near a column of United States regulars under Gen. Sykes.
Source: The Anderson Intelligencer., (Anderson Court House, SC), July 04, 1894, page 1.
 
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