First Bull Run "Remember boys, battle and fighting mean death, and probably before sunrise some of us will be dead": Frank Bartow at Manassas

Andy Cardinal

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Feb 27, 2017

I thought I would pick up from @lelliott19's excellent thread (What Happened to the 1st Monument - Col Francis Bartow Monument). Who was Colonel Francis Bartow? Other than he was killed at Manassas?

Francis Bartow was born on September 6, 1816, in Savannah, Georgia. After graduating from Franklin College (University of Georgia, Athens), he attended Yale. He then joined the law firm of Berrien & Law. John Berrien was a former U. S. Senator and had served as Attorney General during Andrew Jackson's administration until forced to resign after the Peggy Eaton affair.

Bartow married Louisa Berrien (John Berrian's daughter) on April 18, 1844. They lived in the Bartow family home on Pulaski Square in Savannah.

Along with Berrien, Bartow was one of the leading Harrison Whigs during the 1840 presidential campaign. Berrien was elected U. S. Senator and the firm Berrien & Law became Law & Bartow. Bartow became one of the state's leading lawyers and also served as a state representative and in the Georgia Senate. As the Whig party fractured, Bartow migrated to the Democratic party. He ran for a seat in the U. S. Congress in 1856 but lost. In 1857, he was elected captain of the Olgethorpe Light Infantry.

Bartow was a noted orator and one of Georgia's leading secessionists. According the Savannah Daily Morning News: "His style of oratory was bold, earnest and impassioned. As a determined advocate, his eloquence was of a high and thrilling order." As an example of one of his orations:

"If the storm is to come, and it seems to me as though it must, be its fury ever so great, I court it now in the day of my vigor and strength. Let it come now, I am ready for it. I do not wish to destroy this government. I am a Union man in every fibre of my heart but i will perish all -- ALL before i will abandon our rights in the Union or submit to be governed by an unprincipled majority."

On January 3, 1861, Bartow led the Olglethorpe Guards in the capture of Fort Pulaski. He was chosen to be a delegate to Georgia's Secession Convention. In February, he was chosen to represent Georgia at the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States in Montgomery. Bartow was placed at the head of the military affairs committee where it is said he suggested gray as the color for Confederate uniforms (because he admired the gray uniforms of the Olgethorpe Guards). This story, however, may be apocryphal.

On May 10, the Confederate Congress passed a law allowing Jefferson Davis to personally accept the services of units for the duration of the war. Bartow went immediately to the President (thus bypassing Governor Joseph Brown, leading to some problems with him) to offer the services of the Olgethorpe Guards. According to one newspaper account: "This company was the first one to offer its services to President Davis under the Confederate act authorizing him to receive independent companies, and had the honor of being the first received…. They have enlisted for the whole war, and not one will turn back who can go forward, until it is ended, or they are completely annihilated."

Bartow and the guards headed to Virginia, where they were assigned to Joseph Johnston's command in the Shenandoah Valley. On June 1 Bartow became colonel of the 8th Georgia. On Jine 17, Bartow was promoted to command of Johnston's Second Brigade. Bartow wrote to his mother: "I am not only in command of a regiment but of a brigade consisting of about 3,000 men. So you see I have a general's command if not the name."

Bartow's brigade followed Jackson's from Winchester to Manassas, where they were placed in reserve. On the night before the battle, Bartow stopped by the 8th Georgia's camp and told his old regiment: "Remember boys, battle and fighting mean death, and probably before sunrise some of us will be dead."

Andy Cardinal

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Feb 27, 2017
The following account from the 8th Georgia appeared in the North Carolina Standard on August 3, 1861:

"Breathless, tired, faint and footsore, the gallant fellows were eager for the affray.

They were first ordered to support Pendleton’s Virginia Battery, which they did amid a furious storm of grape from the enemy. Inactive as they were, compelled to be under this fire, they stood cool and unflurried.

They were finally ordered to charge Sherman’s Battery. To do this it was necessary to cross and intervening hollow, covered by the enemy’s fire, and establish themselves in a thicket flanking the enemy’s battery. They charged in a manner that elicited the praise of Gen. Johnston.

Gaining the thicket they opened upon the enemy. The history of warfare probably affords no instance of more desperate fighting than took place now. – From three sides a fierce, concentrated, murderous, unceasing volley poured in upon this devoted and heroic “six hundred” Georgians. The enemy appeared upon the hill by thousands. Between six and ten regiments were visible. It was a hell of bullet-rain in that fatal grove. The ranks were cut down as grain by a scythe. Whole platoons melted away as if by magic. Cool, unflinching and stubborn, each man fought with gallantry, and a stern determination to win or die. Not one faltered. Col. Bartow’s horse was shot under him. Adjutant Branch fell, mortally wounded. Lieut. Col. Gardner dropped with a shattered leg. The officers moved from rank to rank, from man to man, cheering and encouraging the brave fellows. Some of them took the muskets of the dead and began coolly firing at the enemy.

It was an appalling hour. The shot whistled and tore through trees and bones. The ground became literally paved with the fallen. Yet the remnant stood composed and unquailing, carefully loading, steadily aiming, unerringly firing, and then quietly looking to see the effect of their shots. Mere boys fought like veterans – unexcited, save with that stern “white hear,” flameless exhilaration, that battle gives to brave spirits.

After eight or ten rounds the regiment appeared annihilated. The order was reluctantly given to cease firing and retire. The stubborn fellows gave no heed. It was repeated. Still no obedience. The battle spirit was up. Again it was given. Three volleys had been fired after the first command. At length they retired, walking and fighting. Owing to the density of the growth, a part of the regiment were separated from the colors. The other part formed in an open field behind the thicket. The retreat continued over ground alternately wood and field. At every open spot they would reform, pour a volley into the pursuing enemy and again retire.

From the accounts of the enemy who stopped to give water to the wounded and rifle the dead, it seems that the 8th cut to pieces the 6th Massachusetts, half demolished the Rhode Islanders, and made deadly havoc among the Regulars.

But a horrible mistake occurred at this point. – Their own friends, taking them for the enemy, poured a fatal fire upon their mutilated ranks.

At length they withdrew from the fight. Their final rally was with some sixty men of the six hundred they took in. Balaklava tells no more heroic tale than this: “Into the valley of death marched the six hundred.”

As they retired, they passed Gen. Beauregard. – He drew aside, fronted, raised his hat, and said, “I salute the 8th Georgia with my hat off.”

Of all the companies of the regiment, the Oglethorpe Light Infantry suffered most. They were on the extreme right nearest the enemy, and this were more exposed. Composed of the first young gentlemen of Savannah, their terrible loss will throw a gloom over their whole city.

An organization of five or six years’ standing, they were the favorite corps of Savannah. Colonel Bartow had long been Captain and was idolized by them, while he had a band of sons in them. It is supposed that his deep grief at the mutilation of his boys caused him to expose his life more recklessly than was necessary. He wished to die with them, if he could not take them back home.

They fought with heroic desperation. All young, all unmarried, all gentlemen, there was not one of the killed who was not an ornament to his community and freighted with brilliant promise.

In sending them to Virginia, Savannah sent her best to represent her, and their loss proves how well they stood up, ho well that city was represented upon a field where all were brave.

This company was the first one to offer its services to President Davis under the Confederate act authorizing him to receive independent companies, and had the honor of being first received. They left home in disobedience to the orders of their Governor, and brought away their arms in defiance of his authority, so eager were they to go where our country needed her best soldiers.

They were one of the two companies that took Fort Pulaski. When there was a riot expected in Savannah, early in the year, they were called out to quell it, with another corps.

Their whole history is one of heroism. First to seek peril, they have proved in their sad fate how nobly they can endure it.

The will inevitably make their mark during the continuance of this holy war. They have enlisted for the whole war, and not one will turn back who can go forward, until it is ended, or they are completely annihilated.

After the gallant 8th had retired with but a fragment, Col. Bartow, by Gen. Beauregard’s order, brought up the 7th Georgia, exclaiming, in reply to Col. Gartrell, of the 7th, who asked him where they should go – “Give me your flag, and I will tell you.”

Leading them to their stand amid a terrific fire, he posted the regiment fronting the enemy, and exclaimed in those eloquent tones so full of high feeling that his friends ever expected from him – “Gen. Beauregard says you must hold this position, and, Georgians, I appeal to you to hold it.”

Regardless of life, gallantly riding amid the hottest fire, cheering the men, inspiring them with his fervent courage, he was shot in the heart, and fell from his horse. They picked him up. With both hands clasped over his breast, he raised his head and with a God-like effort, his eye glittering in its last gleam with a blazing light, he said, with a last heroic flash of his lofty spirit, “They have killed me, but, boys, NEVER give up the field,” – emphasizing the “never” in his peculiar and stirring manner, that all who know him will do feelingly recall.

This perished as noble a soul as ever breathed. – He will long live in remembrance. He met the fate he most wished – the martyred patriot’s grave. He was a pure patriot, an able statesman, a brilliant lawyer, a chivalric soldier, a spotless gentleman. – His imperious scorn of littleness was one of his leading characteristics. His lofty patriotism will consign his name to an immortal page in his country’s history."

Hennessey, First Battle of Manassas: An End to Innocence

Jordan, Hidden History of Civil War Savannah