Monday, September 30, 2013

"Things looked very gloomy for our side about then:" Cresswell Waller and the Second South Carolina in the West Woods, Part III of III.

Greenwood So. Car.

June 13 1901

Genl. E.A. Carman,

Dear Sir;

Your two of the 10th inst. to hand, [1] I was glad that you were pleased with the information, such as it was in regard to the 3 S.C. Regts at Antietam.

[Here Waller begins the correspondence with a "digression" about historical "error" regarding events  later in the war. This is reproduced below in Footnote 2.]

I do not know for certain, but I do not believe Early’s brigade struck the right of the regiment 125th⁠ [3] if it was them. I do know that it was the impression of our brigade that Hood’s and Ewell’s had been badly “frazzled” out & driven out of the woods. We saw several flags with but few supporters getting
Detail from Waller correspondence.

away from the wood when we were striking for them. Things looked very gloomy for our side about then. Right here I would like to say that I made enquiries after Walker’s⁠ or Manning’s⁠ [4] or E.D. Hall’s brigade⁠ [5], which you alluded to in a former letter. By investigation it was discovered that Hall in his report claimed that although he went in immediately after our 2nd Regt. by order of Genl Kershaw & Manning, then commanding, that this regiment of the enemy 125th Pa., if it was that one_broke before Walker’s brigade saw them. Yet the brigade, Walkers, went straight on & would have crossed Early’s line of fire, if Early had been firing & pressing toward the Church. In my opinion, there were plenty of the enemy, Union troops, in the woods on the Williamsport side [6] of the Church & that they were the ones struck by Walker’s, Barksdale’s & Early’s brigades.

None of our troops outside of our regiment went beyond the turnpike in the first charge_ The enemy did come out of the woods, however. I might have erred in creating the impression that the 125th was so easily driven. We had two “crack” rifle companies on the right of the regiment composed of good shots_ we had two on the left, one of which was the Palmetto Guards of Charleston & the other the Brooks Guard of the same place_ We had an advantage in formation_ ours not being so close_ Any how the regiment [7] had new guns [ ] enfields & new covered canteen. I took up one of the guns as an extra & threw it by strap over my shoulder, also took up a few canteens of good water which perhaps the water carrier had just brought in. These I gave to friends. 

I cannot just say how long it took us to drive them. We shot several times, so often that some guns became foul & clogged_ Mine did not, because I had peculiar cartidges captured from a man of 126 N.Y. [8] on Maryland Heights_ the balls consisted of three parts: two of lead & one of metal brass or copper_ the cone about 10 oz. in weight was of lead_ then a convex sheet & last next to powder, a piece of lead like the head of a rivet with a point which passed through the sheet into the lead of the cone. [8a]

To sum up, I would say that 125th Pa was not touched by Early’s command, but stood for a while against our left & gave way when they saw Walker’s men coming although unseen by that brigade, the 125th being in the woods & the brigade in open field approaching woods_

2nd, that the road was the limit of all of our troops except 2nd regt. in 1st charge_

I may be wrong, but I think by careful analysis of reports you will find a way out on this as a basis of fact not withstanding there was such a conglomeration on both sides.

One of our company, now in my camp_ still harps on the gallantry of the Union Colonel who tried to rally his men to a flag_ Some person said it must have been Col. Knipe or Knape.[9] I knew nothing of the incident, but laughed at him for shooting at the flag instead of the bearer on man close to it.

I had not idea of time, but am certain we were in the woods not less than 3 or more than 5 hours before retiring to [the] rock fence_

1/3 of the killed in the regiment was from our company_ We lost 5 Killed.

Yours Respt

C.A.C. Waller 


Source: C.A.C. Waller to Ezra Carman, June 13, 1901, National Archives, Antietam Studies, Record Group 94.

[1] The incoming correspondence from Ezra Carman has not be found.

[2] "I have a little reluctance about replying to the second_ not, however, from a disposition not to aid or gratify you, but from fear I may do some injustice to some worthy organization on either side. You know, if you will pardon the digression, that this happened on both sides during the “unpleasantness” by parties trying to locate other organizations to suit their views. I called on Genl Montgomery, W. Gardener⁠ in Memphis  in regard to an error of this kind in relation to Col C. W. Fribley who commanded the Negro brigade at Olustee on Ocean Pond, Fla. & defended a battery which we captured. I had gotten his sword & a member of my regiment had a receipt for the flag yet the whole Capture was ascribed to another regt._ 32nd Ga. Genl. Gardener said I was right_ he was in command of the forces when the flag of truce came in afterwards_ So also in regard to the “Crater” or Petersburg mine battle injustice was done to Warren  on your side & to Wright’s Brigade on our side. I was in position to know more of that battle than most of the generals. I saw distinguished bravery on both sides. Saw Bartlett & others & knew Warren was right when he said he saw a rebel flag upon the ramparts of the Crater before or about 9 a.m. That flag was saved by the Color bearer falling dead upon it. Excuse me, but to these questions. "

[3] This was the 125th Pennsylvania (XII Corps, Williams Division, Crawford's Brigade). The 125th was a new regiment and Antietam their first engagement. They were recruited from Blair, Cambria and Huntingdon Counties.

[4] Walker's Brigade was led by Col. Vannoy (Van) Hartog Manning (July 26, 1839 – November 3, 1892).

[5] Col. E.D. Hall led the 46th North Carolina (Walker's Division/Walker's Brigade [Manning]. 

[6] The west side of the Dunkard Church.

[7] The 125th Pennsylvania.

[8] The 126th New York surrendered at Harper's Ferry on September 15. The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 -- records of the regiments in the Union army -- cyclopedia of battles -- memoirs of commanders and soldiers. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908. volume II and retrieved from New York State Military Museum website.

[8a] Waller is describing a Williams Patent "Cleaner." The convex sheet does the cleaning as it's pushed ahead by the charge, scraping the barrel as it goes. Thanks to Dave McGowan for the contribution. For more information on the Williams Patent "Cleaner" visit this website.

[9] Col. Joseph F. Knipe led the 46th Pennsylvania (XII Corps/Williams Div./Crawford's Brigade). He took command of Crawford's Brigade after Crawford's wounding "late in the afternoon." In his official report he recounted the flag incident Waller mentions, "I was in the immediate rear of the battery at the time with my colors and a few more men than its guard, when I was requested by some general, to me unknown, to form a rallying point for our retreating regiments. I was successful so far as to get the One hundred and seventh New York to form on my flank, and believe that it was this show of front that saved the guns from the enemy's hands." Official Records: Series 1, Vol 19, Part 1 (Antietam - Serial 27) , Pages 486 - 488 and retrieved from Brian Downey's Antietam on the Web. 

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