Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/162

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Southern Historical Society Papers.
 

THE KEYSVILLE GUARDS.

 

 

The Keysville Brigade, of which I was a member, took part in about twenty-five engagements, the least of which would be reckoned as a battle. I will proceed to give a few facts connected with our career as a company, and to make a few remarks on our experience during that time which "tried men's souls."

We began our service in West Virginia, June 15, 1861, under General Robert Selden Garnett, who was killed at Carricks Ford, Cheat River, on our retreat from Laurel Hill. Later we served under General H. R. Jackson at Greenbriar River, in Pocahontas county, thence to the Valley of Virginia with the great "Stonewall" as our leader. Beginning with Hancock, Bath and Romney, we took part in all his strategic moves, and followed him through this entire campaign. General Banks was our objective point at all times. He was famous for carrying a good stock of provisions—a fact which we appreciated and enjoyed almost as much as his own men—for it was a joke commented on by the newspapers of the country at the time, both North and South, "that Banks was Jackson's commissary."

As well as I can recollect, the last work we did while in the Valley was when we defeated him and Milroy at Cross Keys and took possession of some of their provision wagons, sending them back towards Winchester wiser for their severe lesson in the art of war, and sadder for the loss of many men and a good part of their commissary train. For our part, we continued our course to Port Republic, where Jackson fell upon Shields with such force that his army was completely demoralized, and he forced to flee in confusion down the Valley over the same ground he marched his men so confidently a few days before. Jackson was now master of the situation in this part of the State.

After giving us a few days rest at Weyer's Cave, he brought us by forced marches face to face with McClellan, who had just begun seriously to threaten Richmond. Then followed the fighting around Richmond, that resulted in our turning McClellan's right flank and forcing him back upon his gunboats.