Thursday May 29, 1862
Bivouack of the Rockbridge Artillery 1st Brigade.A.V.
at Charlestown, Jefferson co. Virginia
Mrs. Wm. M. Blackford–Lynchburg
I wrote you a short letter ^
on Sunday advising you of my safety in the battle of that
morning I hope it reached you duly. I also sent a Tele-
gram down to Staunton to provide against the letter’s
not reaching you. It mentioned the safety of Berkeley & myself
with others known to you. I desire now to take up the
narrative of my daily journeyings discontinued on the 11th
Since then, owing to our combined moving and manifold dis-
tractions I have been wholly unable to write at length.
Even now my accounts must be somewhat meagre.
On Sunday morning, the 11th, the time of dispatching my last long
letter to you from a point 14 miles below Franklin in Pendleton co.,
we made an early start and moved on toward
I was unable to walk that day owing to a sore on my ancle
and so rode in one of our wagons a little in the rear.
Within a couple of miles of the village the train halted and we
had a little artillery & other skirmishing in the front where
the enemy had assumed a strong position: one or two of
our rifled guns were employed but not a half dozen
shots fired in all on our side. We bivouacked in a mea-
dow that night and were roused and ordered to be
in readiness for immediate moving at a very early hour
Monday morning; as we all believed for an engagement, prob-
ably a general one. Accordingly at a very timely interval before
sunrise the men had breakfasted, packed their things and the
wagons gone to the rear , they
men stretched on the grass
around the fires awaiting the call which all expected wd.
be to take our positions for operation on the Enemy’s lines.
After an hour or two orders were given to take out the horses
-or rather unhitch them from guns and caissons and allow
them to graze in the meadow. This did not look like fighting,
but we were further reassured that our anticipation had
not been correct by a circular coming around from the Division
Hd.Qrs. which was ordered to be read to all the troops.
It was pretty much as follows–though I quote only from memory
“Soldiers of the Armies of the Valley and NorthWest–I congrat-
ulate you on your recent victory at McDowell x x x and invite
you to join with me in returning thanks therefore to the
Giver of all Victory x x x Services will be held by the Chaplain
of the several regiments of this command to day at 10 A. M.
(signed) T. J. Jackson–Major General commanding.”
The contrast between this order and the one we expected was about
as wide as that between the cruel work of war and the
mild and gentle offices of the religion of Christ. A notice
for preaching instead of Gen. Winder’s adjt. directing that
“Capt. Poague will take his battery and assume a position
to be designated on the front!” The men listened with
becoming respect to the ‘invitation’ of our excellent Major Genl.
and were not displeased to receive it instead of the order
to fight, though to say sooth it was not as fully complied
with as such a one would have been, albeit the attendance
was good in the services. For our own and several other cos.
of artillery who had as Chaplain the Generals’ own Adjutant
Major (Rev. R. L. ) Dabney (D.D.) was kind enough to preach. Gen.
Jackson attended this service and as usual stood up all
the time (there being nothing but the ground to sit on) with
his hat off, and looking as fixed and motionless as a statue.
He stood near the outside of the congregation so as to be
ready to go off without much ado if his presence was
needed and be summoned. Just as we assembled we heard
the report of several of the Enemy’s cannon withing 2
miles of us just across the ridge that separated us from them.
The meadow in which we were was a rather narrow
one flanked by mountains on either side: at the foot
of one of these ranges ran a pretty little mountain river.
The mountain sides were covered with beautiful ver-
dure in its spring aspect, and the same valley extended
for many miles toward Monterey, a little widening in
that direction. In the lower part of it, near Franklin
–i.e. for several miles above Franklin the mountainsides
were fleeced in smoke, the Enemy having fired the woods
to cover their retreat.
[the next 6 pages of this letter are missing. The following pages, 9 and 10 may be the conclusion to it]
The men were hurried on without the rests usually
accorded at moderate intervals, and early in the af-
ternoon the road was for miles in the rear
strewn with broken down men from different Brigades
waiting to revive their exhausted energies. Formerly this
was not uncommon, bot of late Gen. Jackson has greatly
improved the discipline of his army in this respect and now
straggling is comparatively rare except on weighty reasons,
I suffered myself greatly from fatigue as I did not get over
2 miles riding the whole day, and being unwell had but little
appetite and could not keep up my strength by eating,
though I had plenty in my haversack. The march for the
1st Brigade was uneventful as we were the rearmost but one
or two. At different times during the day our exhausted ener-
gies were revived by the assurance from some officer that a
surprise was intended for the enemy, that it promised to
be a complete one, and that everything depended on the men
pressing on. And this our brave fellows did right heartily.
In the afternoon when within 6 or 8 miles of Front Royal our two
Parrott guns were sent on to the front but they were not used
I believe at all, and all the glory of the day fell into the hands
of the advance troops who were in the march a half day
or day ahead of us. I do not undertake therefore to give
you the details of the affair there, of which you are already
apprised through the newspapers quite as fully as I could
make you. There was but a small force a few regiments
only, of the enemy–and they were completely surprised
They did not make a very vigorous resistance, I judge, though
I am informed they fought gallantly for a while. The Infantry
chiefly engaged on their side was the 1st Md. Regt., and on
ours it was too that gallant little 1st Md., whose name is
the synonym for pluck and
gall bravery throughout our army.
The Tory Regiment was taken prisoner almost to a man, at least
so it appeared, with all the field officers: their capture was
effected ultimately by the cavalry in pursuit, though the glory
of it largely attached to the Confederate Regiment of 1st Md. Infantry.
Our cavalry was particularly efficient in the affair about Front
Royal and suffered considerably–They were opposed in cavalry
engagement to the 1st Mich. Regt. which seems to have been badly
worsted, as they generally are when opposed to our men of that arm
Capt Sheets of the 7th Va. Cavalry (Ashby’s) the most eminent
and useful officer in the command next to the distinguished
head, and Capt. Fletcher, another fine officer, were killed.
The Rappahannock Cavalry, numbering not over 35 made a charge
in which 10 were killed of that number, among them my
fried Philip B. Field, of Culpeper, son to the Judge. this pained me
greatly, as he was a young man of fine promise. He was one of
those converted at Greenwood in march 1859, during the religious
awakening there in Mr Dinwiddie’s school, and was confirmed
in Charlottesville the following June the same time with C. L. C.
and Berkeley Minor. My acquaintance with him began at this
interesting period and during the next year while he was at school
and I at the University I saw him frequently, as I had done less
often since. It had always gratified me much to notice the
continued interest he maintained in religion, and to learn that
he held fast his profession. I trust he now enjoys “the substance
of things hoped for” during his brief Christian course. I was informed
of his death Saturday morning by his brother Wm. G. Field, Jr., an old
college-mate of mine, and a man I always liked, though not a pious one.
He was struck several times himself and slightly wounded, but
appeared chiefly concerned about his brother to whom he was much
attached. Friday night the whole army camped about a
mile or two Winchester side of Front Royal. We did not pass
through the town until after dark, and did not finally
settle in camp until a very late hour. I leave the con-
clusion of my narrative for my next letter; I regret very
much to have gotten so much behind hand but it was
unavoidable. The same reason prevents my noticing more
particularly the contents of your letters, whose receipt I have
lately done little more than acknowledge. I prize them none the
less however for this, and thank you for them most heartily.
Your affectionate son L[ancelot] M[inor] Blackford
University of Virginia alumnus Lancelot Minor Blackford, 1837-1914, was later the beloved principal of Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va., for over 40 years.