1861 to 1865 — Virginia
Ambrose Newton Edwards
Memories of the Civil War
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I well remember the day when my company assembled at old Darian Church in Dale County, Alabama, where we bade good bye to our loved ones and took up our march to the battle front in answer to our country’s call. I remember the first night we camped on the banks of Pea River and bathed in its waters and spent this our first night in joyous hilarity. I remember after three days march we reached old Fort Mitchell near Columbus, Georgia, where we were organized into the 15th Alabama Infantry, my company being known as Co E. Then after a few weeks of company and regimental drill we had orders to go to Virginia, and this was for me a matter of exquisite thrill and interest which cannot be well depicted here. When we reached Richmond we were quartered at Old Chimborozo where we remained about three weeks and thence to Manassas. Shortly after the noted first battle of the war, as there was no more fighting in this section, we went into winter quarters there. Up to this time we had not had to suffer any great hardships, but had many interesting experiences. In the beginning of 1862, the second year of the war, greater activities in war matters became more tense. McClellan was assembling a great army in the Yorktown peninsula with the purpose of marching on to Richmond and General Johnson was ordered to fall back from Manassas to meet this move of the enemy. But Ewell’s division, to which I belonged, was ordered to join Stonewall Jackson in the Valley. Then my regiment was in the noted Valley campaign in which Jackson defeated three armies and then it was at Cross Keys we received our baptism of battle. From here the scene changed and the Seven Days Battle around Richmond was fought in which my regiment took an active part and lost quite a number of noble men. I was sick and in the hospital at Charlottesville at that time. After McClellan’s defeat General Lee moved his army North. On the first invasion, we crossed the Potomac at Leesburg, wading it of course, as there were no bridges. My division was ordered to go around and cross back above Harper’s Ferry where General Wool was stationed with seven thousand men. We had him completely surrounded and he surrendered. In this surrender we secured arms, commissary, and quarter master supplies in great abundance. Immediately after the surrender we were ordered back across the Potomac to be in the battle of Sharpsburg – called Antietam by the North Historians – this was one of the hardest battles of the war, and was known as a draw. Lee withdrew to the Virginia side and there ended that year’s campaign in Virginia. To avoid being tedious, I will omit many important military operations including the battle of Fredericksburg in which I took a part and will speak of the Pennsylvania invasion and the battle of Gettysburg. I was in this battle and on the second day of July 1863, with thirteen other men of my company, was captured and carried to Fort Delaware where we were kept as prisoners until the war closed. I could make an interesting chapter about our prison, but only say we managed to keep up spirit and hope amid its trials and troubles until the day came for our release nearly two months after the surrender. I reached home on the 5th of June 1865, to find our beloved Southland wrecked and ruined by war’s devastation. Then it was with unflinching courage we took up the task of reconstructing the ruin and building our new South upon it. While I cannot elaborate on this work, for it would require many words, yet I cannot omit saying that the work was done in a way that solicited the admiration of all people. Our noble women were our staunch co-laborers in every sense, and deserve a monument for their wonderful work. On the 5th of December 1865 it was my good fortune to lead to the marriage altar one of the best of the noble daughters of the South, to walk with me and share with me, every joy and every sorrow that awaited us on life’s pilgrimage. We came to Texas in 1866 where eight sons came to bless our union, all noble men and all living useful lives in Texas except one. Eight years ago my precious one left me to go and wear her crown. Now in my 90th year I can truly say that much love and kindness have been meted out to me, but must say that the best friends we old veterans have are the noble Daughters of the Confederacy, and may god bless them is my closing word. A. N. EdwardsCo E, 15th Alabama Inf.