Maryland in the Civil War
Marylanders in 1862 Under Generals Joseph E. Johnston and Stonewall Jackson.
Source: Confederate Military History, Vol. 2
In November, 1861, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, then in command of the Confederate army of the Potomac, withdrew from the posts of Mason's and Munson's Hills, established by Beauregard, having information that McClellan was about to sweep them in. Beauregard had established a capital secret service, and his spies in Washington, in the departments and in McClellan's headquarters, kept his headquarters perfectly advised of the intentions of General McClellan. They had reported in time McDowell's projected movement on Bull Run, which resulted in the first battle of Manassas. In November Johnston withdrew from the line of Fairfax Court House to Centreville, in front of Bull Run, and in a month fell back to Bull Run, where he put his troops in camp for the winter. He made his men cover themselves in log huts, which were comfortable, but too warm and ill-ventilated for troops in the field.
During all this period the Marylanders furnished a singular exception to the rest of the army. The soldiers in the Southern regiments were suffering from mumps, measles and whooping cough, which became epidemic with them; the Thirteenth North Carolina, for instance, which came up after the battle of Manassas thirteen hundred rank and file for duty, became so reduced by these diseases that it could not parade enough men for camp guard, and was sent to the mountains to recruit its sick. But the First Maryland had none of these diseases. It lost a few men, not ten in all, by typhoid fever, but it was exempt from the numerous complaints that afflicted the troops from further south. Its camp was established on Bull Run just above Union Mills, and it served during the winter with the other regiments of the Fourth brigade, the Tenth and Thirteenth Virginia and the Third Tennessee, picketing the front from Wolf Run Shoals by Burke's Station up toward Fairfax Court House. It was hard service. The men were taken out of warm huts and sent on tours of three days' duty in the open fields or in the woods without shelter Their huts had been occupied during their absence and they never saw them again. Sleeping on the wet ground in sleet, snow and hail of necessity produced pneumonia and rheumatism. Nevertheless they never lost their gay spirit. Their march to picket and their return were always marked by shouts and yells and songs.
The song of "Maryland" was too solemn for these spirited boys. Its movement was too slow. It was more like a dirge. It had been introduced to them in the most picturesque way. During the summer at Fairfax Station, Hetty, Jenny and Constance Carey, who had run the blockade from Baltimore, came up to visit the regiment. It was full of their brothers, their cousins and their beaux, and these beautiful young women in camp produced an effect on the mercurial Marylanders that can only be imagined, not described. The boys and the officers were on their heads. The young ladies were quartered in the field officers' tents, where they held court for several days. One night the glee club of the regiment was serenading them, when the fly of Colonel Steuart's tent was thrown open and all three appeared, Jenny Carey in the center and her sister Hetty on one side and cousin Constance on the other. Their pure voices rang through the summer night with the words and air of" My Maryland," and no such audience ever inspired songsters before or since. The boys were carried away. Silence, then cheers, then silence, then suppressed and not unmanly sobs attested the power of the sentiment of love for home. But" Maryland" touched too deeply the feeling of the heart to do for camp or march. "Gay and Happy" was the air that thrilled souls, and it rang like the drum-beat of the assembly or the bugle sound to the charge. So the march of the Marylanders was announced by the ringing song of "Gay and Happy."
Johnston understood perfectly that as soon as the spring sun dried up the roads and the fields of Virginia, McClellan must move on him. The latter had two hundred thousand men, Johnston forty thousand, so for more than a month he was clearing out his camp and sending impedimenta to the rear. Early in March, 1862, he received notice from his spies in Washington that McClellan was about to strike. On the 8th he began his retrograde to the line of the Rappahannock, still keeping his pickets out on their usual posts, to present the appearance of being in the same position and to prevent intelligence leaking through to the Union commander. Early on the morning of the 9th the first battalion of the First Maryland, four companies, under Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson moved out to Burke's Station to relieve the Thirteenth Virginia, whose term of picket had expired. They reached Burke's before noon and Johnson reported to Walker of the Thirteenth that he was ready to relieve him. The two officers rode along the line, posting the reliefs and sending the Virginians back to their camp, when all at once on the opposite line of hills appeared a line of skirmishers, and simultaneously a squadron of cavalry rattled down the road. Company F, First Lieut. William D. Hough in command, had been posted on a hill, just below the road, in front of a wood and a fence. As soon as Hough saw the cavalry coming, he very properly made for the fence, for he had no bayonets. But the horsemen, a squadron of the Eighth Illinois, were on him before he got there. He turned and made a gallant fight. Second Lieut. Joseph H. Stewart jerked a rifle from one of his men, shot the leader of the charge, a captain or lieutenant, knocked the horse's front legs from under him with his clubbed rifle and was cut down by the sabre. Nine men, including Stewart, were captured. Company H, under the gallant captain, Wm. H. Murray, came running up as soon as they heard the firing. The remnant of Company F got behind the fence and gave the charging party a volley, and Murray from the nearest hill gave them another, and they went back faster than they came. But the advancing line of skirmishers were sweeping the front as far as the eye could reach on each side, and it was clear that an advance in force was present. Colonel Johnson, therefore, drew in his command. Walker had formed and waited for him a mile to the rear. They joined forces and marched comfortably back to Union Mills, where they arrived after dark. The bridge was on fire, the army had gone and Colonel Nicholls, of the Louisiana regiment, since Governor Nicholls, was holding the place for them until they got through. Crossing Bull Run they marched on the rear guard of the army and the next day reached the Rappahannock. Maj.-Gen. Richard S. Ewell, who was in command of the division, was posted there by Johnston to hold the enemy back while Johnston got his trains out of the way. He held the position for several weeks, until during the last of April he moved to Gordonsville, thence to Somerset and thence by Swift Run Gap and across the Blue Ridge to Conrad's store in the valley of Virginia.
After First Manassas George B. McClellan was put in command of all the Union armies when Winfield Scott resigned, superannuated. General McClellan had come out of the Mexican war with a first-rate reputation, and in 1861 made a brilliant campaign in West Virginia, the American Switzerland, against Wise, Floyd and Robert E. Lee. He was, therefore, with reason regarded as the first soldier on his side. During the winter of 1861-62 he prepared a plan of a grand campaign, of which Richmond was to be the objective, and which was to be carried but by the army of the Potomac under his personal direction, in conjunction with an army in West Virginia under General Milroy, and another in the valley of Virginia under General Banks. While McClellan transported his great army of the Potomac by water to York river, whence he could move on the flank of Richmond, Milroy was to march down west of the Alleghanies, and Banks was to move directly up the valley,--the latter two uniting at Staunton to march on Lynchburg, where they would cut the communication between Richmond and the southwestern States of the Confederacy. Maj.-Gen. Thomas J. Jackson (Stonewall) was in the valley with 8,000 men to observe and check this concentration. Ewell was on the Rappahannock with 7,000 to watch McClellan's move by that route, while Johnston had taken the main part of his army to the peninsula between the York and James rivers, to confront McClellan, whose move in that direction had become fully developed.
Jackson required more men. Banks in front had more than four times his number, and his force could not cover the ground. The story at the time was that he applied to Richmond for "more men and fewer orders." Ewell was ordered to report to him and reached Conrad's Store on the first days of May. To his astonishment and perplexity he found the embers of Jackson's camp fires and no orders. Jackson had vanished in a night, without a word, without a trace. So Ewell impatiently waited a week for directions and at length came the telegram from "Stonewall"--"McDowell, May 9th:--God has given us a victory at McDowell to-day." That was all, but it was sufficient.
Without stopping to take breath, Jackson sped back to Staunton, moved swiftly on Banks, who had got to Strasburg, and ordered Ewell to meet him at New Market. Thence they recrossed the Massanutten range and raced swiftly down the Luray valley. This march was like the tiger's approach, stealthy, silent until within striking distance, then one leap on his prey. The army of the Valley marched ten to twelve miles a day, then twenty, then thirty, and it was on Banks before he knew Jackson had left McDowell.Colonel Steuart had been promoted brigadier-general on March 28th; Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson colonel, and Major Dorsey, lieutenant-colonel. General Steuart was ordered to organize the Maryland Line, consisting of the First Maryland and the Baltimore Light artillery as a nucleus, but was temporarily assigned to command a brigade of cavalry, being an old cavalry soldier. Colonel Johnson was thus left in command of the Maryland Line. They marched to the quarters of General Elzey, between whom and themselves there had always existed the tenderest affection, though Elzey had never been in command of the regiment, having been assigned to a brigade as soon as he joined. But they loved him. His brusque, prompt manner, his gallant bearing, his generous heart, made him dear to them. In battle Elzey's look was like the blast of a bugle; in camp he was careful of his men, though he scolded the.m from start to finish and they always deserved it. The parting, therefore, was more than usually touching.
In the First Maryland, matters at this time were in a very unsatisfactory condition. The Richmond companies had been mustered into the army of Virginia for twelve months, that being the term of enlistment in that service. The Harper's Ferry companies had been mustered by Lieutenant-Colonel Deas into the army of the Confederate States for the war. But during the year they had got it into their hearts that they, too, ought to have been mustered for only twelve months, and that if their muster rolls showed differently, they had been deceived. There was not the slightest doubt that they were mistaken, but this idea naturally breeded great discontent. Companies A and B had been mustered at the Point of Rocks for twelve months, as their muster rolls showed. On May 18th Company C's time expired and they were mustered out by Colonel Johnson, who expostulated with them to no effect. They wanted their rights, they wanted to go into the cavalry, they were tired of trudging. So off they went. They had no idea of going home, or abandoning the fight. The rest, except Companies A and B, being absent on detached service, were nearly in a state of mutiny as they neared the enemy. At length, on May 22d, when twelve months from the muster at Harper's Ferry expired, the large majority of them stacked their arms and refused to do duty. This was mutiny, and the colonel promptly had the arms packed in the wagons and the men put under a guard with loaded guns. He sent for Color-Sergeant Doyle, as good a soldier as ever bore musket, and showed him how impossible it was to have any discussion in the presence of the enemy, and directed him to find out how many men were willing to go on and defer the decision of their claims and complaints until after the campaign. Doyle reported that about half the command were willing to stand by the colors in any event. The army was then within an easy march of Front Royal, where Banks had stationed a force to protect his flank. The next morning, the 23d, the march was begun, the First Maryland in the worst possible condition---one-half under arrest for mutiny, the rest disgusted with the service, and the colonel disgusted with them. A halt was made for rest about five miles from Front Royal, and during it an aide brought this order: "Colonel Johnson will move the First Maryland to the front and attack the enemy at Front Royal. The army will halt until you pass. JACKSON." The colonel turned on his regiment: "You have heard this personal order from General Jackson and you are in a pretty condition to obey it. You are the sole hope of Maryland. You carry with you her honor and her pride. Shame on you--shame on you. I shall return this order to General Jackson with the endorsement, ' The First Maryland refuses to face the enemy,' for I will not trust the honor of the glorious old State to discontented, dissatisfied men. I won't lead men who have no heart. Every man who is discontented must fall out of ranks--step to the rear and march with the guard. If I can get ten good men, I'll take the Maryland colors with them and will stand for home and honor; but never again call yourselves Marylanders! No Marylander ever threw down his arms and deserted his colors in the presence of the enemy--and those arms and those colors given you by a woman! Go!" This appeal settled it. The men in ranks cheered and yelled, "Forward, we'll show you!" The men under guard pleaded with tears to be allowed to return to duty, ran back miles to the wagons, got their guns and rejoined their regiment by the time it attacked at Front Royal. The Marylanders marched forward, rejuvenated, reinvigorated, restored! The army halted. As they went by they could hear time and again, "There they go. Look at the ' game cocks.'" The Louisiana brigade, Gen. Dick Taylor, came to a front and presented arms. The Marylanders trod on air, for no men are so susceptible to praise or enjoy flattery more.
Clear of the column, they debouched from the wooded road into the open, where there was a long stretch of fields between them and the village of Front Royal. A squad of cavalry charged down the road. Captain Nicholas and Company G were deployed as skirmishers on each side of it. A mile distant, by the side of a fence was a blanket stretched from two fence rails as a shelter. A man got up, looked at the strange sight coming out of the woods, sheltered his eyes from the sun, then made a grab for his musket, but before he could fire, the cavalry was on him, and that picket was gobbled up. There were three men on post, but they did not have time to give the alarm. A cavalry man, with cocked carbine, trotted them to the rear. General Ewell, General Steuart and Colonel Johnson were riding at the head of the column. "What regiment do you belong to?" was the colonel's eager inquiry. "First Maryland," was the response of the Dutchman. "There's the First Maryland," cried the Confederate, pointing behind. Great Heavens! was such good fortune ever given to a soldier? The Federal First Maryland had been recruited under the gallant Kenly, but it was largely composed of foreigners, and the Marylanders had always refused to recognize it as representing their State. They were the only simon-pure, genuine Marylanders, and if ever they got a chance they would show them ! Here was the chance. As the news flew back through the ranks, shoulders were straightened, chests thrown out, and every man thanked God he was a Marylander and was there !
As they approached the town, a hot musketry fire broke out from the doors and windows of a large building to the left, probably four or five hundred yards distant. "Colonel, can you take that building?" said General Ewell. "Yes, sir, in five minutes." "Men, you see that house? You are to take it. Forward, double quick charge!" And the Marylanders went at it like a charge of canister. "Excuse me, Colonel," said Adjutant Frank Ward, touching his cap as he dashed by on his pony. Capt. Billy Murray and Lieut. George Thomas broke from their proper places and ran in front, and the building was taken in half the time promised. Gathering the command together it was rushed into the town with Wheat's battalion on the left, then through the town, where the enemy was discovered on the crest of some hills with a battery in position at his center, and a force of cavalry, probably a squadron, on his right. Wheat with the Louisianians took the left, the Marylanders the front and center and moved across the open to attack. A shell exploded in the ground under the color guard, and the colors fell; but Lieut. Dick Gilmor had them before they touched the ground. The Louisianians worked their way from cover to cover, until they nearly enveloped Kenly's right.
But the Marylanders could make no further progress. They were in the open with no cover. Lines of stone fences running parallel to Kenly's front gave secure protection to his skirmishers, so that when, after hours' work, one line was dislodged and forced back on its reserves, another was promptly formed and reinforced by Kenly, who handled his command with gallant skill and coolness. He had 800 infantry, a battery, and probably eighty cavalry. The First Maryland paraded that day 375 rifles and Wheat had 200, and Kenly could see every man of his antagonists.
Jackson, adhering to his persistent strategy of mystery, kept his army concealed in the woods several miles off, and left the Louisianians and Marylanders to fight their fight out, without assistance. Company F, Capt. J. Louis Smith, was sent by his colonel into a skirt of woods on the right to work his way up to Kenly's left, which he succeeded in doing during the afternoon, and began firing down Kenly's line. At length Kenly began to move. His cavalry came down the hill and deployed in the field and came forward in a trot to charge the Marylanders and cover Kenly's withdrawal. The fire of his battery also became very active, but the Baltimore light artillery quieted that in a few minutes. Kenly had discovered from his elevated position two regiments of Virginia cavalry moving round his left to get in his rear, though unknown to the Louisianians and Marylanders. As soon as Kenly's move was understood, the whole line was moved forward. The skirmishers under Lieutenant-Colonel Dorsey advanced into a charge as soon as they got within reach. This expedited Kenly's retreat, so that he was unable to burn the bridge over the Shenandoah. He set it on fire, but the Louisianians and Marylanders put it out before any harm was done, >and the Sixth Virginia cavalry pressed over it in single file in hot pursuit. Jackson, Ewell and Steuart joined the leading squadron as soon as the enemy was well started and the cavalry on them. Jackson and Ewell then returned to their proper places with the infantry and Steuart pushed on all night, picking up nearly every man of Kenly's command. It was a fight between First Maryland and First Maryland, creating great amusement in the army, for among the prisoners were many brothers, cousins, uncles, and some fathers of the Confederates. Such a scene was never witnessed before in war as the meeting between the two regiments after the Union Marylanders were brought in as prisoners by the cavalry. It was amusing and even jovial, for one side was glad to see somebody from home, and the other that it had fallen into the hands of relatives and kindred, although technically they were enemies. Kenly fought his men with indomitable gallantry, intelligence and good sense. He made all out of it that was possible, and he might have held his position had it not been for the flanking movement of the cavalry. He was wounded by saber cut and pistol ball. His adjutant, Tarr, was also badly wounded.
The next morning Colonel Johnson and staff called on Colonel Kenly and staff and tendered any courtesies that it was proper for the one to receive or the other to offer. But Kenly was sore in body and spirit and refused any favors of any kind at the hands of his conqueror. The ill humor of the gallant soldier was condoned on account of his misfortune, and no one thought the worse of him for his bitterness. Kenly performed an inestimable service to Banks. He held Jackson back for twelve hours, and thus gave Banks opportunity to fall back from Strasburg to Winchester.
On the 24th Ewell moved up within reach of Winchester, Jackson marching by Strasburg and the valley pike. By daylight they were in line of battle, Jackson's right almost touching Ewell's left, both together forming a semi-circle round the town. Before day the line moved forward, First Maryland on Ewell's left with orders to watch out for Jackson in the pike, and get in touch of him as soon as possible. Skirmishers were out; but nothing could be seen, for a dense fog enveloped everything. Feeling their way slowly and carefully forward, at last the skirmishers were withdrawn and Colonel Johnson made a dash forward at a stone wall, which could be dimly discerned ahead. To their surprise they went over it without a shot and were halted in an apple orchard, some distance inside the wall.' It appeared that they had penetrated Banks' center, between his right and left wing, and were behind his line. It was uncertain whether they were prisoners in a big army, or had achieved a grand tactical movement and exploit. The colonel sent back Adjutant Ward to report the situation to General Ewell with the suggestion that as soon as Ewell attacked in front, the First Maryland would charge down behind the Union lines and sweep them away from the front attack. The fog was thick and dark. Ward was gone, and the Marylanders waited for the fire from the front. The Union bugles sounded "cease firing !" The fog rolled up like the curtain at the theater and the Federal line was disclosed, wheeling by companies into column and marching to the left. On the extreme Union right, Dick Taylor's Louisiana brigade swept up the hill, like a steel-tipped wave--over the earth-works, over the guns, over the line of battle, and the fields were filled with Banks' fugitives. The Maryland colonel brought his men to attention, wheeled into column and said, "Men, this regiment is to be first at the Taylor House!" They cheered and started with quickened pace to the center of Winchester. They went down the main street just as the sun of that May morning was gilding the steeples and housetops. Doors and windows flew open. Women in dishabille, in nightdress, filled the windows and the streets, crying and screaming in ecstasy, and the Marylanders were the first at the Taylor House. They had policed the town, seized the warehouses and magazines of supplies and put guards over them before others got up, so that when Ewell's commissary came up, an immense quantity of everything useful to an army was turned over to him intact, except of course some things retained by the Marylanders, who were entitled to salvage and took it! Lieut.-Col. Edwin R. Dorsey was wounded as he charged singly and alone a squad of Union soldiers in a side street. He was the only man of the command hit during the day.
The Marylanders went into camp four miles north of the town on the valley pike, and next day, the 26th, marched into Martinsburg. There they were engaged for two or three days collecting stores left by Banks, and then rejoined the main army near Charlestown. While there General Steuart with the First Maryland and two batteries drove the enemy from Bolivar Heights, which he occupied, but evacuated after a few hours and went into camp at Halltown. The next morning at daylight the army took the retrograde. Gen. Charles S. Winder, the Marylander, had been sent to the other side of the Shenandoah to take Loudoun Heights and demonstrate from there on Harper's Ferry, which he did. Everything was done to make the enemy understand that the Confederates proposed crossing the Potomac at Harper's Ferry, and moving down in the rear to take Washington. When Winder recrossed to join the army, then in retreat, he found the First Maryland alone just moving out of camp, having received no order of march. It had no brigade. Winder at once directed Colonel Johnson to report to him and gave him the position of honor, the rear guard, and thus they moved up the valley--the Stonewall brigade the rear guard of the army, the First Maryland the rear guard of the Stonewall brigade.
Jackson's movement had accomplished Lee's object in ordering it. It deranged and temporarily broke up McClellan's campaign on Richmond. It was plain that no grand strategy could be carried out with such an erratic, eccentric, unaccountable, uncontrollable character as Stonewall interfering, intercepting, and meddling all the time.
While Jackson was at Charlestown, Harry Gilmor, the most daring of scouts, operating in Hardy county west of the Alleghanies, reported to him that Fremont with a large army was moving rapidly south, with the evident intention of cutting him off at Strasburg. Scouts from east of the Blue Ridge kept him fully advised of the movements of Shields, who was hurrying by forced marches to Front Royal. Front Royal is about twelve miles from Strasburg. Through this gap between Fremont and Shields, Jackson was to make his escape. He had five thousand prisoners and three thousand captured wagons, making a column ten miles long. He pushed his spoils ahead, and when he reached Strasburg Fremont was three miles to his right and Shields twelve miles to his left at Front Royal. In fact, Shields' cavalry was on the road parallel to the pike and only three miles distant. Jackson hurried Charles Winder and the Stonewall brigade up to meet Fremont. Winder sent orders to Colonel Johnson that if charged by cavalry he must take to the fences on the sides of the pike. The Maryland rear guard covered that critical movement and were the last to cross the burning bridges. Clear of his flanking enemies, with all of them behind him, Jackson stretched himself up the valley in a seventy-mile race, Fremont closing in behind, and Shields pushing up the Luray, or Page valley on the east, parallel to Jackson's line of march. If the two Federal armies could out-march Jackson and throw themselves across the Confederate retreat, Jackson must be ground up between Fremont with forty thousand men and Shields with eight thousand. Fremont was a dashing and imprudent soldier and Shields a headlong Irishman. Fremont's cavalry was commanded by Sir Percy Wyndham, an Englishman, a soldier of fortune, who had served under Garibaldi with Maj. Robideau Wheat of Wheat's battalion.
Fremont mounted a considerable force of infantry in wagons, and with them supporting his cavalry pushed and harassed Jackson day and night. The Union cavalry became very bold. They rode over the Confederate guns and over Confederate cavalry when it pleased them. Ashby and Steuart were in command of the cavalry. and they determined to give Sir Percy a lesson. On the 5th of June, Jackson turned from the main turnpike, south to Stanton, toward Port Republic, east of the Shenandoah and west of the Blue Ridge, where he could head off both Fremont and Shields, and if necessary, dodge through a gap in the mountains and hold the gap against their combined force. During the next day, the 6th, Sir Percy pressed on the Confederate cavalry rear, but Ashby, as crafty as an Indian, drew him into an ambuscade, and captured him and his leading squadron, dispersing the rest. This taught the Union general some caution, and he began to perceive that Jackson's retreat was not a flight, but was strategy.
Late in the afternoon Ashby in person reported to General Ewell that the wagon brigade had pushed far ahead of the infantry, and if the general would give him a few regiments, he would capture the whole gang of this four-wheeled cavalry. Ewell gave him the First Maryland, the Forty-fourth and Fifty-eighth Virginia. The First Maryland was, as usual, in the rear, and, therefore, when the command was faced about, was entitled to the right of the line. "Always next the enemy," they claimed--"in front going toward him, behind going from him." When, therefore, by countermarching they were thrown in the rear, they lost their post of honor. Colonel Johnson that morning had dressed himself in a new uniform, little worn, glittering with gold lace and the three stars of his rank and had ridden ahead to talk to General Jackson about the condition of his command and apply for some detached service, where he could rest and receive recruits from the Marylanders then flocking to Virginia. He was reduced to seven companies and two hundred and seventy-five rifles. The time of two companies had expired and that of a third, Company C, would expire on June 17th. Jackson heard all this and assented to it cordially, and then said, "Colonel, I can't let you go on detached service at this time. Go and select a good camp, drill your men three times a day, and you'll draw recruits as soon as they know where to find you." All this was incontrovertible, but Jackson's drill did not tend to replenish depleted ranks. He drilled that regiment in three battles in the next three days and in ten in the next thirty! Colonel Johnson, however, galloped back to his command as fast as he could, and on his arrival found it moving rearward, First Maryland farthest from the enemy, in the rear.
It was about sundown, and as they moved across an open field, he broke from his place in column and pushed on to get parallel to the Fifty-eighth Virginia, the leading regiment, the Forty-fourth Virginia next. Ewell and Ashby were riding at the head of the Fifty-eighth, Ashby's dark face afire with enthusiasm. His hair and head were as black as a crow and his beard grew close up to his black eyes, until he looked like a Bedouin chief. He was pointing out the positions and topography, swinging his arm right and left. "Look at Ashby enjoying himself," said the Maryland colonel to Adjutant Ward riding by his side. They pushed across the open field and entered the wood. The evening sun was shooting its horizontal arrows through the June foliage. The wood was open, with little undergrowth and the timber well grown and large. Ewell sent over to the First Maryland for skirmishers. Company G, Captain Nicholas, and Company D, Captain Herbert, were sent to him. They were deployed in front of the two columns, Virginians on the right, Marylanders on the left, and the whole pressed on into the darkening wood. Soon the dropping fire of the skirmishers on the right showed that they had found the enemy, and Ashby moved the Virginians in line straight to the firing. Ewell remained with the Marylanders and threw them into line and marched them straight forward, Ewell and Johnson riding on the right. All at once the skirmish fire deepened, a volley roared out, and in a second the Virginians on the right were thrown into confusion. The dusk, the surprise, the sudden death to so many shocked them into momentary panic. They were as brave men as were in that army and proved their valor on every battlefield of the army of Northern Virginia but the shock had unnerved them for a moment. Colonel Johnson, springing in front of his regiment, ordered, "Halt! Steady battalion! Stand fast, First Maryland!" and swinging his saber in a circle round his head, "Rally, Virginians! Rally! Form behind that wall!" pointing to the staunch ranks of the First Maryland. This recalled every one to his duty, and when Ewell gave the order to charge, the men moved forward as if in review. They reached the edge of the wood and found on the farther side of a field a six-gun battery and a regiment, apparently of cavalry.
At this time the fire on the right, where Ashby was, had become hot--and growing every second. Ewell dashed up--" Charge, colonel!" he cried. "Attention battalion," was the order, "by the right flank, march." The regiment moved by the flank towards the fire. As soon as it arrived at the top of the hill, the head of the column was turned to the right, and when the colors came in "by the left flank, charge!" was the order. The right battalion swung into line and charged in a run. The left battalion jumped into place and went along. There is no such movement or order in any tactics, but it was sufficient. The enemy, thirty yards off, was lying behind a worm fence and, as the Marylanders came into line, a volley from the fence swept down Colonel Johnson, Captain Robertson, Lieutenant Snowden, Sergeant Doyle, and twenty of the men in ranks. The colonel's new uniform procured him especial attention. Three bullets, tearing off the pommel of his saddle and cutting down his horse, dismounted him, but he was on his feet in a moment and with his regiment at the fence. Their opponents, the Pennsylvania Bucktails, broke, and as they ran across the open field, the Marylanders pelted them with great comfort and satisfaction. Few escaped, the Bucktails were nearly annihilated, and Colonel Kane captured. The Maryland colors went down time and again but never touched the ground. All the color guard were killed or wounded.
From this place Jackson moved to Cross Keys, on the Shenandoah, where, with Shields and the river in his rear, he offered battle to Fremont against odds of three to one. Fremont attacked early on the 8th, and as the Marylanders were moving up to their place in line, Ewell said to Colonel Johnson, "Colonel, you must carry a bucktail in your colors as your trophy, for you won it on Friday." Many of the men were wearing bucktails in their caps, which had attracted Ewell's attention. Company D was passing at the moment, and Colonel Johnson called out to William H. Ryan, a tall, long-legged boy, who had one, "Here, Ryan, give me that bucktail." Ryan brought it. "Now you tie it to the head of the colors yourself and your trophy shall be the trophy of the regiment." That is the way the bucktail got to be the cognizance of the First Maryland regiment.
The Marylanders held Ewell's right from sunrise until four o'clock, when their rifles having become so hot and so foul they could no longer be loaded or fired, they were withdrawn to a branch in rear to clean their guns.
The Baltimore light artillery held the center of the line, which was commanded by Elzey. The right was commanded by Trimble and the left by Steuart, and Elzey selected the line on which the battle was to be fought. The Marylanders, therefore, always claimed Cross Keys as a Maryland battle and a Maryland triumph.
But while Fremont's guns were thundering at Cross Keys, Shields was plunging up the other side of the river to strike Jackson's rear and drive him back on Fremont. He got there twelve hours too late. Jack. son's troops slept in line on the night of the 8th, but next morning before the sun was up they were over the river in Shields' front, and made right at his throat. The Marylanders, after their hand-to-hand fight on the evening of the 5th, had not had half rations during the next day, for they had to bury their dead at Cross Keys church. On the 8th they had not a mouthful, for their wagons had been sent off. On crossing the river by sunrise of the 9th Colonel Johnson gained Ewell's permission to stop and get something to eat. The fire of the Louisianians at Port Republic, two miles off, abbreviated their breakfast and they pushed on to the fight. They got there only in time to act as reserve to their old comrades, the Stonewall brigade, but enjoyed none of the joys of the charge, as the Louisianians had done, and none of the glory which the gallant soldiers of Dick Taylor and their general had gathered in such abundance.
Ewell decorated the First Maryland by a general order and honored them in his report, as follows:
"Headquarters, Third Division.
General Order No. 30.
In commemoration of the gallant conduct of the First Maryland regiment, on the 6th of June, when, led by Col. Bradley T. Johnson, they drove back with loss the Pennsylvania Bucktail rifles in the engagement near Harrisonburg, Rockingham Co., Va., authority is given to have one of the captured Bucktails, the insignia of the Federal regiment, appended to the color staff of the First Maryland regiment.
By order of Major-General Ewell:
JAMES BARBOUR, A. A. G."
From General Ewell's report of the Valley campaign:
"The history of the First Maryland regiment, gallantly commanded by Col. Bradley T. Johnson during the campaign of the Valley, would be the history of every action from Front Royal to Cross Keys. On the 6th, near Harrisonburg, the Fifty-eighth Virginia regiment was engaged with the Pennsylvania Bucktails, the fighting being close and bloody. Colonel Johnson came up with his regiment in the hottest period, and by a dashing charge in flank, drove the enemy off with heavy loss, capturing Lieutenant-Colonel Kane commanding. In commemoration of this gallant conduct, I ordered one of the captured Bucktails to be appended as a trophy to their flag. This action is worthy of acknowledgment from a higher source, more particularly as they avenged the death of the gallant General Ashby, who fell at the same time. Four color bearers were shot down in succession, but each time the colors were caught before reaching the ground and were finally borne by Corporal Daniel Shanks to the close of the action.
"On the 8th inst. at Cross Keys they were opposed to three of the enemy's regiments in succession."
General Jackson in his report says :--
"Apprehending that the Federals would make a more serious attack, Ashby called for an infantry support. The brigade of Gen. Geo. H. Steuart was accordingly ordered forward. In a short time the Fifty-eighth Virginia became engaged with a Pennsylvania regiment called the Bucktails, when Colonel Johnson of the First Maryland regiment, coming up in the hottest period of fire, charged gallantly into its flank and drove the enemy with heavy loss from the field, capturing Lieutenant-Colonel Kane commanding. In this skirmish, our infantry loss was seventeen killed, fifty wounded and three missing. In this affair Gen. Turner Ashby was killed."
It is a curious commentary on official reports and historical records that both these reports from the highest authorities state that the Marylanders charged in flank, while in fact they charged full in front of the enemy, and received his fire from the front of his line of battle.
RETURN TO MARYLAND IN THE CIVIL WAR INTRO PAGE
ON TO MARYLAND IN THE CIVIL WAR, CHAPTER VII