Lt. Joseph Morrison
There had been enough excitement and confusion for one evening. The flank attack had been a smashing success, but darkness, thick trees, and undergrowth slowed the Confederate advance and disorganized their battle lines. General Jackson seemed somewhat irritated, wanting to press forward the attack. He insisted on doing a little scouting in advance of the Confederate lines. Joseph rode with him, accompanied by seven other staff officers, and several couriers.
They had turned back, riding near the Plank Road and heading toward the 7th and 18th North Carolina regiments, units already skittish about cavalry and horsemen in the night. At first it was scattering shots, then a volley from the 7th startled the group of officers. The 18th North Carolina men opened fire as General Jackson’s horse – Little Sorrel – bolted.
The young lieutenant felt his horse suddenly collapse as a bullet penetrated. The quick halt pitched the aide clear of the falling animal, but the officer smacked his head against one of the trees. Stunned but struggling to his feet, he ran toward the still firing North Carolinians and the direction Little Sorrel had taken.
“Cease firing!” he called into the darkness where muzzle flashes punctuated night. “You are firing on your own men!” The vigilant major on the battle line shouted back, “It’s a lie! Pour it into them, boys.” Lieutenant Morrison may have sheltered behind a tree or hit the ground when he heard that, but however he escaped unscathed, he still searched for his general. His next minutes blended into a frightful period of trying to get the North Carolinians to stop firing.
Then, he saw the scene. A couple officers crouching over an immovable fallen figure. Thomas was wounded and Joseph choked. “Are you much hurt?” he asked. Probably a fleeting thought entered his mind: “Would he have to tell Anna…?” Continue reading