A Video Tour of Longstreet’s Wounding

Today, May 6, was the anniversary of James Longstreet’s accidental wounding—at the hands of his own men—during the battle of the Wilderness. I took the time today to walk the ground. Join me in this video tour from the ECW YouTube page:

In the video, I mention that Jackson’s wounding was probably the best thing to happen at Chancellorsville for Robert E. Lee. You can read more about that in this blog post.

Here’s more about Longstreet’s wounding:

16 Responses to A Video Tour of Longstreet’s Wounding

  1. Fantastic! Glad to see you had reinforcements! I was there maybe 5 yrs ago to the day but it was a mystery. I had been to the other battlefields in the area. It was probably 20 degrees warmer. Later I was caught in a thunderstorm at the Fredericksburg cemetery.

    1. It was in the low 60s today–much cooler than it was a few days ago, when temps topped 80. Spring came early this year, but it seems cooler than normal right now. Sorry to hear the T-storm ruined your trip to the cemetery; that’s such an awesome place.

      1. Thanks for your reply! While it probably wasn’t above 80, it seemed hotter to this chilly New Englander! And of course humid. No no, sorry I was a clear as usual (I would have been great at giving orders, not!) the thunderstorm slowed me down. I would have been outta there in a flash (sorry!) otherwise.

  2. Here’s how Longstreet was wounded. From “The Petersburg Regiment in the Civil War: A History of the 12th Virginia Infantry from John Brown’s Hanging to Appomattox, 1859-1865,” (Savas Beatie, 2019). The 12th Virginia of Mahone’s brigade was at the heart of the matter.

    After enemy resistance broke, at the plank road the 12th Virginia of Mahone’s brigade gave a volley to the Federals, who tried to rally again on the opposite side around Carruth’s brigade of Stevenson’s IX Corps division. The Virginians ran over the 4th United States Infantry. Lieutenant Colonel Sorrel dashed westward on the plank road toward Longstreet, who was pounding through the woods north of the road leading forward part of Jenkins’ brigade, under a grand corps flag of a new design. The 12th’s Ensign May could not see that the other regiments of Mahone’s brigade were slowing as they approached the road. He led the eight companies with the 12th’s flag beyond the road in pursuit of the Northerners. “One of them had a stand of colors which we kept shooting at,” recalled 1st Lt. James Eldred Phillips of the 12th’s Company G, the Richmond Grays. “We cut the tassel off but the flag & bearer escaped.” The 12th’s Col. David A. Weisiger thought his troops would have captured the flag if supported by the rest of the brigade. “The balls fell around me like hail,” he wrote.
    Private James A. Farley, formerly an apprentice baker, of the 12th’s Company E, the Petersburg Riflemen, was serving in the sharpshooter battalion. Despite wounds in the face and shoulder, he charged across the plank road to the regiment’s most advanced position. The eight companies with the 12th’s banner halted fifty yards beyond the road in a ravine about six feet deep. They exchanged fire with the enemy. Many more of the regiment’s soldiers caught bullets. Weisiger ordered his troops to fall back. They reformed, turned around and climbed the gentle slope to the road. The eight companies with the 12th’s colors neared the road. Longstreet came within 100 yards of their right. A scattering fire began, then a sharp volley from men forty or fifty yards ahead of the eight companies. “The enemy are in our rear, and we are in a bad box,” thought the troops with the 12th’s flag, immediately falling on their faces, then realizing that Southern soldiers had unleashed the volley.
    “You are firing into your friends!” the men with Weisiger shouted. “Show your colors!”
    Most of the bullets had flown around the flags, the best targets. The regiment’s three soldiers struck by the volley included two of the color guard. Instead of diving for cover, May made himself even more conspicuous. “Ben May stood upon a stump, with his lithe, graceful form, a smile upon his face, waving our battle-flag until it was recognized,” recalled the Riflemen’s Sgt. William Watson Tayleure, wounded at Crampton’s Gap. Captain Hugh Ritchie Smith, regimental adjutant and brother of William Smith, waved a handkerchief atop the point of his sword. The musketry quickly stopped. The companies with the 12th’s colors recognized the troops firing on them as men of their own brigade. The minnies had come from the 41st Virginia.
    “Boys, we are so sorry!” its soldiers cried. “We are so sorry!! We did not know you were our friends.”
    All three of the 12th’s soldiers struck by the 41st’s fire perished. Two of the 12th’s Company B, the Petersburg Old Grays, Color Cpl. John Mingea, who had returned from Tennessee with his friend William Smith to fight for Virginia, and Cpl. William A. Jelks, died instantly. The New Grays’,, Company C’s, First Sgt. Benjamin B. White, a former clerk and another member of the color guard, took a bullet “on the side of the head and a portion of his brain ran out,” recalled Phillips. “We left him on the ground going around & around on his elbow not knowing what he was doing.” The 41st Virginia wounded Longstreet seriously in the shoulder and Brig. Gen. Micah Jenkins mortally in the head as they rode past with their new corps flag. “Our loss of these was more deeply regretted than of those who were shot by the enemy,” observed Sgt. John F. Sale of the 12th’s Company H, the Norfolk Juniors..

    1. I don’t exactly where Greg will take folks, but this is the general idea, yes!

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