Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 28/Carpenter's Battery of the Stonewall Brigade

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1307650Southern Historical Society Papers: Volume 28 — Carpenter's Battery of the Stonewall Brigade1900Clarence Albert Fonerden

[From the Richmond, Va., Dispatch, July 8, 1900.]


Company A, of the 27th Virginia Regiment, of the old Stonewall Brigade, which fought with such desperate valor at the first battle of Manassas, was honored by General Jackson in his having had it transformed into an artillery company and assigned to duty under himself, in the Valley of Virginia, when he was sent there in chief command, which honor was the more highly accentuated by its accompanying him considerably in advance of the order to the entire brigade to join him in the Valley of Virginia. And so thus went forth Carpenter's Battery, from its membership with the Stonewall Brigade, rejoicing in that honor, and filled with enthusiasm for the dauntless and heroic commander, whose glorious leadership had already won its unspeakable admiration and unquenchable faith.

In the beginning it was supplied with four 6-pounder Tredegar. smooth-bore iron guns, but all insignificant as were these lour funny little pieces of artillery, behold what fine execution they did at Kernstown! Then and there was made a name and fame for Carpenter's Battery, which it so gloriously maintained to the bitter end, at the Appomattox culmination. And still, with its funny little guns, it travelled up the Valley and out through Staunton to that tight little fight at McDowell's, where it again acquitted itself bravely.

Who of us will ever forget the worse than hardships of fighting, the cold, privation and starvation of that ever memorable march to Romney, in particular, and the continued career of our contests of glory in our marches and tribulations from that time on, in general which attest the spirit and prowess of a company, out of, as well as in, the forefront of battle. A good soldier, be it remembered, must suffer and endure on the wearisome march, and in the tiresome tented field, no less than in the fiercest battle. The battles in which Carpenter's Battery fought may be counted by scores, from its first bloody infantry charge at the first Manassas, and its artillery baptism at Kernstown, onward incessantly in every battle of the Army of Northern Virginia, to the closing scene of General Lee's desperate endeavor just before Appomattox.

When it was Company A of the 27th Regiment, our good and brave first captain, Thompson McAllister, led it to deeds heroic in that first Manassas battle, where our losses were heavy, but where we gained a fighting name the soldier so dearly prizes, and then, too, we were only boy soldiers!

The failure of Captain McAllister's health, occuring soon after that famous event, in which he bore so conspicuous a part, devolved the captaincy next on our former First Lieutenant, Joseph Carpenter, and it was he who so nobly and bravely commanded the company at Kernstown, and onward as artillery until a fatal shot struck him down at Cedar Mountain, his death ensuing therefrom. He was a military cadet, under Major (Stonewall) Jackson, at the Virginia Military Institute, and this will account for his company's being one of the best drilled and disciplined companies in all the old Stonewall Brigade. His death was greatly lamented. After this his brother, John C. Carpenter, a lieutenant, became our third captain, and remained in command until the war closed, being always at his post of duty, except when wounded, which was often the case, though he still lives, as is said of him, in fragments. Two brothers of these second and third captains were also desperately wounded—Lieutenant Ben Carpenter, shot through the lungs, but who is now living in Covington, Va., and Private Tobe Carpenter, who was killed at Wade's Depot, in the Valley of Virginia.

From beginning to end our loss was forty-three killed outright, and a proportionate number in wounded, which means hundreds, since it must be remembered that recruiting was continually going on in our ranks. At one time Cutshaw's Battery, which, like our own, had been greatly reduced by the casualties of war, through a faithful and fearless discharge of its duty, was consolidated with Carpenter's Battery, and the union made a fine and splendid company. Our commissioned officers from first to last were Captains Thompson McAllister, Joseph Carpenter and John Carpenter; Lieutenants George McKendree, H. H. Dunot, W. T. Lambie, Ben Carpenter, Charles O. Jordan, and ——— Barton.

Our sergeants and gunners were largely instrumental in making and sustaining the fine morale of the company. Two of the gunners at Kernstown were formerly civil engineers, to which is attributed the fact of our doing such fine execution and making there so proud a name. At the first shot of the first gun there, General Jackson, who was seated on his horse only a few paces distant, clapped together his hands vehemently and exclaimed: "Good! Good!" What a glorious time was that for that gunner, and for Carpenter's Battery entire! The battery obtained its prestige there and maintained it to the end. With scarcely an exception, the privates of Carpenter's Battery were of the proper stuff, and never quailed before the enemy, whatever were the odds.

Did it not require too much space to publish all the names of these it would be a pleasure to me to write them out from a roster of the company, which required years to complete, now at my disposal.

The company was organized in Covington, Va., April 20th, 1861, hurried to Staunton, but was ordered back to rendezvous, for drill and equipment, soon thereafter repairing to Harper's Ferry, where it performed picket duty on Loudoun Heights and built block houses. A little later it assisted in the demolition of the Harper's Ferry arsenal and the burning of the great Potomac-river bridge. Then we were mustered into the old 1st Virginia Brigade, which the immortal General Bee said was standing at Manassas "like a stonewall," while other brigades wavered from the clash and shock of that bloody conflict. There company A used musket, ball and bayonet, while at Kernstown, and thereafter, on too many fields to enumerate, as Carpenter's Battery, it sent forth its defiance in the deadly solid shot, the seething, hissing shell and the whistling grape and canister.

C. A. Fonerden.