A Hardheaded Cousin

Maybe you can relate or maybe you are the head-headed cousin in your extended family. Whether it is a cousin or not, everyone knows a hardheaded person in their circle. On January 3, 1863, Colonel David Lang of the 8th Florida Regiment wrote to his cousin, Elizabeth Atkinson in Marietta, Georgia, affectionately known as “Annie.” In that missive, Lang relays his news from the frontlines. The colonel was then serving with the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia then in winter encampment south of the Rappahannock River in central Virginia. He owns the label of the hardheaded cousin in his family group.

David Lang

On December 11, 1862, during the opening day of the Battle of Fredericksburg Lang and his regiment were split in two to serve on either flank of the Mississippians under the command of General William Barksdale. Their assignment was to harass the crossing of any Federal soldiers into the town itself. To clear the way for his engineers to lay the pontoon boats, the Federal commander, General Ambrose Burnside, ordered a terrific cannonading of the town. One of those projectiles careened toward the southern town and from here Lang picks up what happened next in is letter to Annie.

“In the late battle of Fredericksburg I was unlucky enough to get a blow upon the head, from a mass of bricks and mortar knocked from the wall of a house by a cannon ball. And to that circumstance I owe my visit to Richmond, I am very sick from the blow for eight to ten days, the Surgeon thought I was in danger of congestion of the brain, but thanks to a thick skull I am again able for duty, though troubled some with dizziness, the result of the concussion.”

Luckily the concussion symptoms abated for the young officer, and he would continue in service to the Confederate army, including acting as brigade commander at certain times, until Appomattox in April 1865.

One can only imagine Annie shaking her head in disbelief or possibly reminiscing of past experiences with her hardheaded cousin from years past.

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