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Texans at Second Manassas

Some photos of the new Texas monument at Manassas National Battlefield, which was put up about a week ago next to the Fletcher Webster monument on Chinn Ridge.

From J.B. Polley, A Soldier’s Letters to Charming Nellie (New York: The Neale Publishing Group, 1908), 75-77:

It was not until four o’clock on the evening of the 30th that our brigade again sought the foe. The same meadow was to cross, the same skirt of timber to pass through. As the Fourth emerged from the latter, the Fifth New York Battery, commanded by Captain Curran, and stationed on a commanding eminence on the other side of a deep hollow, devoted its whole attention to us, and to show our appreciation of the courtesy, we made directly for it. A Federal regiment between us and the battery fired one volley at us and fled as fast as legs could carry them. Another regiment that had been placed in a pine thicket immediately in rear of the battery as a support to it, followed suit, but, undismayed, gallant Captain Curran fired his guns until every artillerist was shot down, and he himself fell as he was in the very act of sending into our huddled ranks a charge of grape and canister that would have sent the half of us to kingdom come. A braver spirit than his never dwelt in the brest of man. “You would never have captured my battery,” said he, as at his request a Texan laid him under one of the guns and placed a knapsack under his head, “if my supports had been men instead of cowards.” We fully agreed with him. * * *

Looking up the hill, a strange and ghastly spectacle met our eyes. An acre of ground was literally covered with the dead, dying, and wounded of the Fifth New York Zouaves, the variegated colors of whose peculiar uniform gave the scene the appearance of a Texas hillside in spring, painted with wild flowers of every hue and color. Not fifty of the Zouaves escaped whole. One of their lieutenants, who had lost an arm, told me that they were in the second line of the breastworks which the Fourth Texas had carried at Gaines’ Mill a month before; that in the mad retreat of the first line of Federals they had been swept away, and that, on learning the position in the Confederate line occupied by our brigade here at Second Manassas, they had made a special request of General Pope to be permitted to confront us on the 30th, and regain the laurels lost at Gaines’ Mill. There they met the Fourth Texas and suffered ignominious defeat—here, they came face to face for a minute only with the Fifth Texas—and suffered practical annihilation.

The Zouaves, it seems, were posted just under the crest of the hill, and a hundred feet from the edge of the timber, and fired the moment the heads of the Texans showed above the crest. Of course they aimed too high, and before they could reload the Texans poured such a well-directed and deadly volley into their closely formed ranks that half of them sank to the ground, and the balance wheeled and ran. Not waiting to reload, the Texans rushed after the fugitives, and, clubbing their muskets, continued the work of destruction until every enemy in sight was left prone upon the ground.

Comments (2) to “Texans at Second Manassas”

  1. The actual combattants had a legitimate right to memorialize their sacrifices and achievements, but I think modern people should stop cluttering up battlefields with more monuments.

  2. Actually, new monuments may not be put up on land actually owned by the National Park Service. In order to put up the new 11th Mississippi monument at Antietam, the monumenters had to purchase the small parcel of private land on which they put it.