On August 24, 1861, Elisha Franklin Paxton wrote to the editor of his hometown newspaper to correct the record regarding Paxton's action at the Battle of Manassas. While Paxton had been in the thick of the fighting, the editor of the Lexington Gazette had perhaps exalted Paxton at the expense of others. Paxton wanted to make sure his fellow soldiers received the credit they were due.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE LEXINGTON "GAZETTE."
Camp Harmon, August 24, 1861.
I do not merit the compliment paid me in a paragraph contained in a recent number of your paper, which gives me the position of leading a portion of the 4th Va. and 7th Geo. in the charge upon the enemy's batteries. The 4th Va. was led by its gallant officers, Preston, Moore and Kent, and it was by order of Col. Preston, who was the first to reach the battery, that I placed the flag upon it. The 7th Geo. was led by one whom history will place among the noblest of the brave men whose blood stained the field of Manassas -- the lamented Bartow; when he fell, then by its immediate commander, Col. Gartrell, until he was carried, wounded, from the field; and then, until the close of the day, by Major Dunwoodie, the next in command.
If the paragraph means, not leading, but foremost, the compliment is equally unmerited. In the midst of the terrible shower of ball and shell to which we were subjected, and whilst our men, dead and wounded, fell thick and fast around us, my associates in the command of our company, Letcher, Edmondson and Lewis, were by my side; the dead bodies of my comrades, Fred Davidson and Asbury McClure, attest their gallantry; and the severe wounds which Bowyer, Moodie, Northern, Neff and P. Davidson carried home show where they were. I witnessed, on the part of many of our company around me, heroism equal to that of those I have named; but as others whom, in the excitement of the occasion, I do not remember to have seen, did quite as well, I may do injustice to name whom I saw. Compared with the terrible danger to which we were exposed at this time, that seems trifling when, at a later hour and in another part of the field, the flag was placed on some of the guns of the Rhode Island battery, which the enemy were then leaving in rapid retreat, the day being already won, and the glories of Manassas achieved.
Again, I did not get the flag when Bartow fell, but sometime after, from the color-sergeant of the regiment, who, wounded, was no longer able to bear it.
The work done by Jackson's Brigade and the 7th Geo., and the credit to which they are entitled, is stated in the following extract from the official report of Gen. McDowell: "The hottest part of the contest was for the possession of this hill with a house on it." Here Jackson and his gallant men fought. Here the work of that memorable Sabbath was finished.