Maryland Confederates

Southern Historical Society Papers.
Vol. XXIX. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1901.
 

ORIGINAL FIELD ORDERS FROM GENERAL JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON AND T. J. (STONEWALL) JACKSON TO ASHBY, OF CAVALRY FAME.  Marylanders Complimented for Efficiency and Gallantry--Ashby Died Fighting with Them--Ashby Brothers' and Marylanders' Monuments in Stonewall Cemetery--Historical Resume--Bazaars in Baltimore.

        The Daughters of the Confederacy in Maryland held a popular and successful bazaar in the Fifth Regiment armory, Baltimore, December 2d to 11th ultimo, which yielded about $10,000 for the fund to erect a monument in Baltimore city to the Marylanders in the Confederate service. The monument will cost, perhaps, $25,000.
        The heroism of the Maryland soldiers and sailors of the Confederate States is known and acknowledged by all intelligent and fair minded men and women in Maryland, as elsewhere. "Young men and maidens, old men and children," praise their valor and sacrifices for principle, and resound their deathless fame. All shades of religion and politics are represented by the contributors to the monument fund, even as when the two previous bazaars were held in the same place by the same noble women of Maryland in 1885 and 1893, to supply the means to provide for indigent and worthy Confederates in Maryland, who hail from all parts of the South, the proceeds of those two bazaars being collectively about $50,000.
        A Southern bazaar was first held in Baltimore under the auspices of the ladies, in April, 1866, one year after the war, which yielded over $200,000, for the relief of suffering Southern people. Within a year thereafter the Legislature of Maryland appropriated $100,000 for like purpose.
        As relating to Maryland Confederate troops, the historical sketch which follows possesses peculiar interest, anent the late successful bazaar.
        The three military orders which follow below are of great historical value. The copies are exact, the careless punctuation indicating the haste of the writers. The originals are in the possession of Judge George W. Wilson, of Upper Marlboro, Md., who was a gallant soldier in the First Maryland battery, C. S. A. (raised and first commanded by Colonel R. Snowden Andrews, of Baltimore), who received them from Rev. James Battle Averitt (when stationed at Upper Marlboro after the war), who was chaplain of Colonel Turner Ashby's cavalry and the custodian of the treasured documents.

Following are copies of the orders referred to above:

HD QRS HARPER'S FERRY, June 8th, 1861.

Captain, I have ordered the Berlin bridge to be burned to-night, & Capt. Drake to remain in observation until you pass. Burn your bridge as well as you can, & blow up after the fire is well kindled, let the infantry & artillery come up--& as soon as Col. Hunton can have sufficient notice, which please send him, Come up with your cavalry--bringing in any party which may be at Berlin bridge.

Your obt servt

J. E. JOHNSTON,
Brig. Genl., C. S. A.

Capt. Ashby,
Comdg at Point of Rocks.

NEAR UNGER'S STORE, Jany 2d 1862.

Col., I am on my way to Bath and hope to be at Hancock to morrow, so you need not be concerned should you hear firing in that direction

Your Obd't Servt

T. J. JACKSON,
Maj. Genl.

Lt. Col. Turner Ashby,
Comdg Cavalry.

HD'QRS. VALLEY DIST., April 16th, 1862.

Dear Colonel, Carry out your suggestions of burning the bridge at Ripley's if it does not interfere with your failing back. Send back your train and establish your camp at the woods this side of Mt Jackson.

(Confidential.)

All my information is to the effect that the Federal troops from the East are for Banks.

Very truly yours

T. J. JACKSON,
Maj. Gen.

How many men were captured of Harper's company so far as you have ascertained?

        The first in order of these curious papers is an order from General J. E. Johnston to Captain Ashby, when Johnston commanded the Confederate forces at Harper's Ferry, Va., having relieved Colonel T. J. Jackson (promoted to Brigadier-General June 18, 1861). His farthest outpost eastward, under Ashby, was at Berlin bridge, which in this order of June 8, 1861, he directed to be burned. Johnston evacuated Harper's Ferry June 19, and on the 22d he issued a special order complimenting the First Maryland regiment, under Lieut.-Colonel George H. Steuart, for efficiency in carrying out his orders, and he further said: "Owing to their discipline, no private property was injured and no unoffending citizen disturbed. The soldierly qualities of the Maryland regiment will not be forgotten in the day of action." And it so happened, frequently.
        Among the property thus saved from destruction was 17,000 musket stocks, which were sent to North Carolina to be completed, in acknowledgment of that State having armed and equipped the Marylanders.
        The order of January 2, 1862, from General Jackson 10 Colonel Ashby, occurred during Jackson's sudden movement from Winchester to Romney, Va., with the design to destroy the B. & O. Railroad, but the result, while satisfactory, was not among Jackson's famous successes. Moreover, intensely cold weather ensued, with rain and snow, his men were mostly without suitable clothing to protect them, and, hence, suffered terribly. During this movement Jackson issued an order to General Loring, which Loring disregarded. A contention followed which resulted in the Confederate War Department sustaining Loring. Jackson promptly indicated his intention to resign his commission and retake his chair at the Virginia Military Institute, at Lexington, whereupon, Governor Letcher, apprehending the tremendous loss to the Confederacy by Jackson retiring from the field, prevailed upon the Richmond authorities to reconsider their decision.
        The next order from Jackson to Ashby, April 16, 1862, occurred between the time Jackson fought Shields at Kernstown, March 23, 1862, and his defeat of Milroy at McDowell, May 8, following. Returning swiftly to the Valley of Virginia, Jackson prepared to pursue the campaign, which resulted in the quick and successive defeats of the armies of Banks, Fremont and Shields, which made Jackson master of the entire Valley.
        In May, 1862, the First Maryland Infantry, under Major-General Ewell, joined Jackson in the Valley. Major W. W. Goldsborough, in his Maryland Line, C. S. A., 1869, tells of Jackson at this time, thus:
        "To our utter amazement, when we turned our faces to where we had passed his army the evening previous, nothing met our gaze but the smouldering embers of his deserted camp-fires. We rubbed our eyes and looked again and again, loth to believe our sense of vision. But gone he was, and whither and for what, no one could tell. Quietly, in the dead of night, he had arisen from his blanket, and calling his troops around him, with them had disappeared.
        "For more than two weeks his whereabouts remained a mystery, and various were the conjectures as to what had become of him, when one day there came the news of Milroy's defeat at McDowell, more than one hundred miles away. Swiftly he had traversed the steep ranges of mountains that separated him from his prey, and with irresistible fury had hurled his legions upon the astonished foe in his mountain fastness, and routed him with heavy loss, and was even now on his return; and within two days' march of us."
        "In Stonewall Jackson's way," he annihilated Milroy and telegraphed these words: "God blessed our arms with victory at McDowell to-day;" hurried back to the Valley and whipped in detail the other Yankee armies; then by a ruse de guerre, threw his force upon Lee's flank at Richmond, crushed McClellan's right and suddenly caused the star of that much vaunted "Young Napoleon" to set!
        By the strategem of Lee and Jackson and the valor of their armies, the Federal army of 40,000 at Fredericksburg was kept "in the air" (like McClellan's right flank) between Washington and McClellan's army beleaguring Richmond, but a day's march from him!
        The historical connection between the First Maryland Regiment and General Ashby had a tragic termination during the fight near Harrisonburg, Va., on the evening of June 6, 1862, when, that regiment being hotly engaged with the Pennsylvania Bucktail Regiment, Ashby, while rallying the 58th Virginia Regiment to support the Marylanders, was killed, almost in touch with right file of the Maryland Regiment. This regiment did the fighting, losing some of its best officers and men. Major Goldsborough wrote: "The commander of the Bucktails, Lieutenant-Colonel Kane, with several of his officers and many of the men were wounded and prisoners in our hands, and, to use Kane's own words, 'Hardly a dozen of the command escaped.'"
        General Ewell issued an order complimenting the First Maryland and Colonel Bradley T. Johnson, and authorized a captured buck-tail to be appended to the color staff.
        Ashby's last words were: "Charge men; for God's sake charge!" Waving his sword, a bullet pierced his breast and he fell dead. When killed he was afoot,(*) his horse having been killed just before. Private M. Warner Hewes of Ashby's Cavalry cut the saddle girth and secured the saddle.
        Jackson visited the room where Ashby's body lay and asked to be left alone in silent communion with his dead cavalry chief. Within one year the corpse of the illustrious chieftain himself likewise "received the homage of all the good and the brave."
        Stonewall Jackson, in his official report, said of Ashby:

        (*) As a member of "Jackson's Foot Cavalry" and in sound of the battle in which the beau sabreur Ashby fell, I was cognizant, somewhat, of attendant circumstances. My information was that Ashby went into the action afoot, and against the remonstrance of General Ewell, in the lead 'of their troops. It was an accepted fact that getting between the enemy and our own troops he fell under fire of our own men.
        His body was placed in an ambulance in the rear of which followed his horse, a magnificent black stallion, who, in his subdued mien, seemed almost as if humanly conscious of the loss which had befallen him, as the body of his gallant master was constantly and fully in his view.
        Upon the bosom of the gallant dead, whom all loved and admired [and who was the impersonation and ideal of chivalry and fearlessness], some one had placed a beautiful wreath of flowers, which concealed the gaping hole torn by the cruel bullet. He was not only the "eye of Jackson," but he was felt, as the avant-courier [being always with the advancing column], to be the protecting Aegis of our army, and thus, his death was to our cause and to all an incalculable loss.
        The newspapers have recently given us a tribute from a foe, from whom much was expected by the Federals-Colonel Sir Percy Wyndham, that it was a cruel calamity that one so brave as Ashby should fall. I viewed the remains about the same time at Waynesboro that the doughty Englishman did, although the tribute was not uttered in my hearing.--EDITOR.

        "As a partisan officer I never knew his superior. His daring was proverbial, his powers of endurance almost incredible, his tone of character heroic, and his sagacity almost intuitive in divining the purposes and movements of the enemy."
        Turner Ashby was promoted from Captain to Colonel of the Seventh Regiment Virginia cavalry, and was made a brigadier-general just before his death. This regiment, at Ashby's death, was reputed to have twenty-seven companies, formed chiefly in the Valley, but so rapidly did they come and so active were Ashby's movements, that not until his death and the end of Jackson's great Valley campaign could they be formed into regiments and brigaded, which was then done, and subsequently Ashby's cavalry became the "laurel brigade" under the dashing Rosser.
        Richard Ashby, brother of Turner, was captain of Company "A" in his regiment. "Dick" Ashby had already seen perilous service against the Indians in the West, but Turner Ashby was the more popular officer. Both were conspicuous types of the chivalrous cavalier--brave, dashing, and were idolized by their men.
        Their regiment, in June, 1861, was at Romney, Va., operating against the enemy. On or about June 26th, Captain Dick Ashby, with a small detachment, while scouting near New creek, was ambuscaded by Federal infantry. Ashby, having fallen with his horse, and helpless, was bayoneted repeatedly by coward hands. Being rescued, he was carried back to Romney, where he died, about July 3d. His tragic fate spread gloom through the regiment and among all the troops. The funeral escort consisted of his company and Captain George R. Gaither's Maryland company.
        Between the two brothers, Ashby, the close, tender ties existed that are so often found in Southern homes; hence the mortal wounding, under harrowing circumstances, of Dick Ashby, was believed by many to have made his brother, Turner, daring to desperation--reckless of personal peril, and ever keen for a fight.
        Ashby's cavalry and the Ashby brothers will be the theme of story and song for generations through the Valley and the Confederacy.
        Many Marylanders served under the knightly Ashbys, among them Colonel Harry Gilmor, the famous partisan, who began his service as a private in the Seventh Virginia cavalry.
        Memorial day, June 6th, is identical in the Valley of Virginia and Maryland. Two monuments in the Stonewall cemetery in Winchester, Va., nearly side by side, mark respectively the graves of the Ashby brothers and the Marylanders. The Maryland infantryman in marble, at "parade rest," from his pedestal looks down upon the polished granite sarcophagus over the Ashbys.
        Rev. James B. Averitt, an Episcopalian minister, and now resides in Cumberland, Md. Under Ashby he was a fighting chaplain. Since the war he has written historical accounts of his experiences and observations.
        Judge Wilson, also, has a curious memento of the battle of the Crater, fought near Petersburg, Va., July 30, 1864--a cube of flinty clay which was unearthed by the explosion which caused the Crater. He was then serving with his battery, which was engaged in the battle.
        For the preceding sketch the Southern Historical Society Papers is indebted to Lieutenant-Colonel Winfield Peters, of the Maryland State Line, of Baltimore, the Maryland member of the History Committee of the United Confederate Veterans, late commander of J. R. Trimble Camp Confederate Veterans, etc., who was a private in the first Maryland infantry, C. S.A. This regiment, forming at Harper's Ferry, Va., was recruited largely from the First Rifle regiment of Baltimore, through the efforts of its commander, Colonel George Peters, father of Lieutenant-Colonel Peters, and his son. The Senior Colonel Peters also entered the Confederate service, served faithfully to the end, and died from the consequences of privation and exposure soon after the surrender. His sacrifices involved, not only his life, but his property also, and his entire family were launched into the Confederate struggle voluntarily, and suffered accordingly.

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