The author of this book was a trooper in the Confederate cavalry who published his recollections of the Civil War in later life. The 6th Virginia Cavalry, the unit to which he proudly belonged, was formed at Manassas in 1861 and it fought principally as part of the Army of Northern Virginia. Hopkins has structured his book as a chronology of conflicts and the list naturally includes some of the most significant engagements of the war. The 6th Virginia took an active role in Jackson’s Valley Campaign at Second Bull Run, Brandy Station, Upperville, Fairfield, Bristow, Mine Run, the Wilderness, Todd’s Tavern, Spotsylvania, Haw’s Shop, Cold Harbor, Early’s campaign in the Shenandoah Valley and the Appomattox Campaign at the close of hostilities. Only three of the regiment actually surrendered with Lee—the remainder cut through Union lines and were later disbanded. This excellent first hand account does not seek to be a regimental history—though much interesting information is given by the author—instead Hopkins has elected to concentrate on those events he witnessed himself and upon the accounts of other reliable writers. This is, of course, an excellent source work for any student of the horse soldiers in grey and will be a valuable addition to any American Civil War library.
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It was 9 o’clock at night. There was a lull in the battle, and Jackson’s line had become somewhat disorganized by the men gathering in groups and discussing their brilliant victory. Jackson, noticing the confusion, rode up and down the line, saying, “Men, get into line, get into line; I need your help for a time. This disorder must be corrected.”<br>
He had just received information that a large body of fresh troops from the Union army was advancing to retake an important position that it had lost. Jackson had gone 100 yards in front of his own line to get a better view of the enemy’s position. The only light that he had to guide him was that furnished by the moon.<br>
He was attended by half a dozen orderlies and several of his staff officers, when he was suddenly surprised by a volley of musketry in his front. The bullets began whistling about them, and struck several horses. This was the advance guard of the Federal lines. Jackson, seeing the danger, turned and rode rapidly back toward his own line. As he approached, the Confederate troops, mistaking them for the enemy’s cavalry, stooped and delivered a deadly fire. So sudden was this volley, and so near at hand, that every horse which was not shot down recoiled from it in panic and turned to rush back, bearing his rider toward the approaching enemy.<br>
Several fell dead on the spot, and more were wounded, among them Gen. Jackson. His right hand was penetrated by a ball, his left was lacerated by another, and the same arm was broken a little below the shoulder by a third ball, which not only crushed the bone, but severed the main artery. His horse dashed, panic-stricken, toward the enemy, carrying him beneath the boughs of the trees, which inflicted several blows, lacerated his face, and almost dragged him from the saddle. His bridle hand was now powerless, but seizing the rein with his right hand, notwithstanding its wound, he arrested his horse and brought the animal back toward his own line.<br>
He was followed by his faithful attendants. The firing of the Confederates had now been arrested by some of the officers, who realized their mistake, but the wounded and frantic horses were rushing without riders through the woods, where the ground was strewn with the dead and dying. Here Gen. Jackson drew up his horse and sat for an instant, gazing toward his own line, as if in astonishment at their cruel mistake, and in doubt whether he should again venture to approach them. He said to one of his staff, “I believe my arm is broken,” and requested him to assist him from his horse and examine whether the wounds were bleeding dangerously.<br>
Before he could dismount he sank fainting into their arms, so completely prostrated that they were compelled to disengage his feet from the stirrups. They carried him a few yards into the woods north of the turnpike to shield him from the expected advance of the Federalists. One was sent for an ambulance and a surgeon, while another stripped his mangled arm in order to bind up the wound. The warm blood was flowing in a stream down his wrist. His clothes impeded all access to its source, and nothing was at hand more efficient than a penknife to remove the obstruction.<br>
Just at this moment Gen. Hill appeared upon the scene with a part of his staff. They called upon him for assistance. One of his staff, Maj. Leigh, succeeded in reaching the wound and staunching the blood with a handkerchief. It was at this moment that two Federal skirmishers approached within a few feet of the spot where he lay, with their muskets cocked. They little knew what a prize was in their grasp. When, at the command of Gen. Hill, two orderlies arose from the kneeling group and demanded their surrender, they seemed amazed at their nearness to their enemy, and yielded their arms without resistance.