Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 21, 1861 (Tuesday): "These Rough Looking Men"

Confederate Troops Captured at Gettysburg

                                                Harper’s Ferry, Va., May 21, 1861
Col. R. S. Garnett, Adjutant-General,  Richmond, Va.:
…..The troops here are all raw and inexperienced-wanting even in the first elements of the school of the soldier-and there is a great scarcity of proper instructors.  Many of the captains are singularly ignorant of their duties.  Guard duty is very loosely done; and, indeed, there is apparent on every side the mere elements of men and arms, without the clothing and in camp and garrison equipage; and I fear that the exposure to which the troops have recently been subjected in the cold, rainy, weather will swell the list of sick, already large.  To make up, however, for this loose state of things, so striking to the professional eye, it must not be forgotten that a fierce spirit animates those rough-looking men; and, if called upon, even now, to meet their enemy, I have no fear of the result of battle.  There is a determination abroad among men who have collected from far and near to give a summary chastisement to any force which may have the hardihood to invade the soil of Virginia.  This spirit is invincible.
……I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                                        GEO. DEAS,
                                    Lieutenant-Colonel and Inspector-General, C. S. Army.

These are Jackson’s men at Harper’s Ferry in May of 1861, an army in infancy as viewed by George Deas, a regular army officer of 23 years experience.  He was married to Elizabeth Garland, which made him borther-in-law of James Longstreet.  He served on the staffs of various Confederate Officers throughout the war and was, for a brief time, acting assistant Secretary of War.  This information comes from the excellent “Staff Officers In Gray” by Robert E.L. Krick.

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