Saturday, September 12, 2020

Diary of Private Louis Leon: June 10, 1861

At three o'clock this morning the long roll woke us up. We fell in line, marched about five miles, then counter-marched, as the Yankees were advancing on us. We got to our breastworks a short time before the Yankees came, and firing commenced. We gave them a good reception with shot and shell. The fight lasted about four hours. Our company, was behind the works that held the line where the major of the Yankee regiment, Winthrop, was killed. After he fell our company was ordered to the church, but was soon sent back to its former position. This is the first land battle of the war, and we certainly gave them a good beating, but we lost one of our regiment, Henry Wyatt, who was killed while gallantly doing a volunteer duty. Seven of our men were wounded. The Yankees must have lost at least two hundred men in killed and wounded. It was their boast that they could whip us with corn-stalks, but to their sorrow they found that we could do some fighting, too. After the fight some of the boys and myself went over the battlefield, and we saw several of the Yankee dead—the first I had ever seen, and it made me shudder. I am now in a school where sights like this should not worry me long.

Our commander in this fight was Col. Bankhead Magruder. The Yankee commander was Gen. B. F. Butler.

From now on I will never again grumble about digging breastworks. If it had not been for them many of us would not be here now. We returned the same night to Yorktown, full of glory.

On July 18 we heard that our boys had again whipped the Yankees at Bull Run.

Also, on July 21, again at Manassas.

We changed camp a number of times, made fortifications all around Yorktown, and when our six months were over we were disbanded, and returned home. So my experience as a soldier was over.

I stayed home five months, when I again took arms for the Old North State, and joined a company raised by Capt. Harvey White, of Charlotte, and left our home on April 23, 1862, at 6.30 P.M. I stayed in Salisbury until next night, when I, with several others, took the train for Raleigh, where our company was. We went to the insane asylum to see Langfreid, who wanted to go home by telegraph to see his cotton and tobacco. After spending most of our day in town we went to camp four miles from Raleigh. We stopped a carriage, and the driver said he would take us to camp for three dollars. We halved it with him and he drove us there. We reported to Captain White, and he showed us to our hut. We were surprised to find it without a floor, roof half off and “holey” all over. We commenced repairing, and went to the woods to chop a pole for a part of the bedstead. We walked about a mile before we found one to suit us. It was a hard job to get it to our hut. We put it up and put boards across and then put our bedding on it, which consisted of leaves we gathered in the woods. And now it is a bed fit for a king or a Confederate soldier.

It commenced raining at dark, which compelled us to cover with our oilcloth coats. We did not get wet, but passed a bad night, as I had gotten used to a civilian's life again.

SOURCE: Louis Leon, Diary of a Tar Heel Confederate Soldier, p. 3-5

No comments: