Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 22, 1863: The Diary of Arthur J. Fremantle

The Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket was probably the most common weapon in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.

On this day 150 years ago, British Lieutenant Colonel Arthur J. Fremantle caught up with Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and was able to observe the men of Pender's division at close hand.
22d June (Monday).—We started without food or corn at 6.30 a.m., and soon became entangled with Pender's Division on its line of march, which delayed us a good deal. My poor brute of a horse also took this opportunity of throwing two more shoes, which we found it impossible to replace, all the blacksmiths' shops having been pressed by the troops.

The soldiers of this Division are a remarkably fine body of men, and look quite seasoned and ready for any work. Their clothing is serviceable, so also are their boots; but there is the usual utter absence of uniformity as to colour and shape of their garments and hats: grey of all shades, and brown clothing, with felt hats, predominate. The Confederate troops are now entirely armed with excellent rifles, mostly Enfields. When they first turned out, they were in the habit of wearing numerous revolvers and bowie-knives. General Lee is said to have mildly remarked, "Gentlemen, I think you will find an Enfield rifle, a bayonet, and sixty rounds of ammunition, as much as you can conveniently carry in the way of arms." They laughed, and thought they knew better; but the six-shooters and bowie-knives gradually disappeared; and now none are to be seen among the infantry.

The artillery horses are in poor condition, and only get 3 lb. of corn a-day. The artillery is of all kinds—Parrots, Napoleons, rifled and smooth bores, all shapes and sizes; most of them bear the letters U.S., showing that they have changed masters.

The colours of the regiments differ from the blue battle-flags I saw with Bragg's army. They are generally red, with a blue St Andrew's Cross showing the stars. This pattern is said to have been invented by General Joseph Johnston, as not so liable to be mistaken for the Yankee flag. The new Confederate flag has evidently been adopted from this battle-flag, as it is called. Most of the colours in this Division bear the names Manassas, Fredericksburg, Seven Pines, Harper's Ferry, Chancellorsville, &c.

I saw no stragglers during the time I was with Pender's Division; but although the Virginian army certainly does get over a deal of ground, yet they move at a slow dragging pace, and are evidently not good marchers naturally. As Mr Norris observed to me, "Before this war we were a lazy set of devils; our niggers worked for us, and none of us ever dreamt of walking, though we all rode a great deal."

We reached Berryville (eleven miles) at 9 a.m. The headquarters of General Lee were a few hundred yards beyond this place. Just before getting there, I saw a general officer of handsome appearance, who must, I knew from description, be the Commander-in-chief; but as he was evidently engaged I did not join him, although I gave my letter of introduction to one of his Staff. Shortly afterwards, I presented myself to Mr Lawley, with whom I became immediately great friends. He introduced me to General Chilton, the Adjutant-General of the army, to Colonel Cole, the Quartermaster-General, to Major Taylor, Captain Venables, and other officers of General Lee's Staff; and he suggested, as the headquarters were so busy and crowded, that he and I should ride to Winchester at once, and afterwards ask for hospitality from the less busy Staff of General Longstreet. I was also introduced to Captain Schreibert of the Prussian army, who is a guest sometimes of General Lee and sometimes of General Stuart of the cavalry. He had been present at one of the late severe cavalry skirmishes, which have been of constant occurrence since the sudden advance of this army. This advance has been so admirably timed as to allow of the capture of Winchester, with its Yankee garrison and stores, and at the same time of the seizure of the gaps of the Blue Ridge range. All the officers were speaking with regret of the severe wound received in this skirmish by Major Von Borke, another Prussian, but now in the Confederate States service, and aide-de-camp to Jeb Stuart.

After eating some breakfast, Lawley and I rode ten miles into Winchester. My horse, minus his foreshoes, showed signs of great fatigue, but we struggled into Winchester at 5 p.m., where I was fortunate enough to procure shoes for the horse, and, by Lawley's introduction, admirable quarters for both of us at the house of the hospitable Mrs ——, with whom he had lodged seven months before, and who was charmed to see him. Her two nieces, who are as agreeable as they are good-looking, gave us a miserable picture of the three captivities they have experienced under the Federal commanders Banks, Shields, and Milroy.

The unfortunate town of Winchester seems to have been made a regular shuttlecock of by the contending armies. Stonewall Jackson rescued it once, and last Sunday week his successor, General Ewell, drove out Milroy. The name of Milroy is always associated with that of Butler, and his rule in Winchester seems to have been somewhat similar to that of his illustrious rival in New Orleans. Should either of these two individuals fall alive into the hands of the Confederates, I imagine that Jeff Davis himself would be unable to save their lives, even if he were disposed to do so.

Before leaving Richmond, I heard every one expressing regret that Milroy should have escaped, as the recapture of Winchester seemed to be incomplete without him. More than 4000 of his men were taken in the two forts which overlook the town, and which were carried by assault by a Louisianian brigade with trifling loss. The joy of the unfortunate inhabitants may easily be conceived at this sudden and unexpected relief from their last captivity, which had lasted six months. During the whole of this time they could not legally buy an article of provisions without taking the oath of allegiance, which they magnanimously refused to do. They were unable to hear a word of their male relations or friends, who were all in the Southern army; they were shut up in their houses after 8 p.m., and sometimes deprived of light; part of our kind entertainer's house was forcibly occupied by a vulgar, ignorant, and low-born Federal officer, ci-devant driver of a street car; and they were constantly subjected to the most humiliating insults, on pretence of searching the house for arms, documents, &c. To my surprise, however, these ladies spoke of the enemy with less violence and rancour than almost any other ladies I had met with during my travels through the whole Southern Confederacy. When I told them so, they replied that they who had seen many men shot down in the streets before their own eyes knew what they were talking about, which other and more excited Southern women did not.

Ewell's Division is in front and across the Potomac; and before I left headquarters this morning, I saw Longstreet's corps beginning to follow in the same direction.

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