The Emerald Guard - A brief history of
Company "E" Thirty-third Virginia Infantry.

By Brian Swidal

The Emerald Guard was formed in and around the town of New Market during May and early June of 1861. It was organized by a thirty-four year old Shenandoah County native named Marion Marye Sibert. and as it's name implied was formed from the Irish laborers that worked in the Valley when the War began. The company would become was among the most colorful and volatile companies of the famed "Stonewall Brigade". "In their adopted sector," one historian would write, "the Sons of Erin did not mesh easily with their conservative neighbors, most of whom were of German and Scotch-Irish descent. The Celts' predilection for hard liquor and their affinity for world-class brawling at the least provocation engendered a definite air of notoriety."[1]

CAPTAIN MARION SIBERT

Captain Marion Sibert was born January 23, 1826 near the town of New Market, Shenandoah County. When the war began, he was thirty-four years old, stood 5'11" and was described as "handsome" having a "fair complexion, light hair and hazel eyes." Wyland's History of Shenandoah County suggest that Sibert and his family were in the hotel business prior to the war. Of his personal life, Sibert married well, wedding Emily C Moffitt in 1853. Family happiness was to elude them however as the Siberts gave birth to a son in 1854 who lived but 3 months, and again in 1855, a son, (Samuel) was born to them, but would also die in October, 1857 died after only two years. It is little wonder that Sibert's focus moved out of the home and towards the military adventurism of organizing a military company. Following John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859, Marion Sibert organized a volunteer artillery company in the New Market area known as the Tenth Legion Artillery. Despite their lack of cannon, they were called upon by the State Governor to perform guard duty at Shepherdstown on December 9, 1859 during Brown's trial.[2] Having returned to New Market after the trial, Sibert would not have long to wait until another opportunity presented itself. On April 18, 1861 war had erupted and Virginia, having voted in favor of secession, placed itself in danger of being invaded. When the Governor, John Letcher extended a call for certain counties to begin organizing companies for State defence in early May, Sibert once again put his business and homelife on hold and began recruiting a new company of men. This time, he targeted a distinct class of men that would form the nucleus of the company. Recruiting amongst the Irish laborers that had made their way to the Lower Valley through working on the Manassas Gap Railroad prior to the war, the As the company formed and began to drill in earnest, a contemporary newspaper account provided a glimpse to its readers of this new company.

Through the energy and zeal of Maj. M.M. Sibert, a company of Irishmen, numbering about 60, has been raised and are in barracks at this place (New Market). These men, impelled by devotion to their adopted country, patriotically and promptly responded to the call of their State, and are now hourly preparing themselves to resist the encroachments of the mercenary hordes, who are let loose upon us by our oppressors.[3]

As this quote and archival records suggest, the company never reached the regulation size of 100.

REASONS FOR ENLISTMENT

Many of the Irishmen who joined the unit in May and June of 1861 were thought to be laborers who had been engaged on the construction of the Manassas Gap Railroad. Many of the Irishmen who found employment in Virginia migrated from Northern cities, to escape persecution by a growing anti-Irish anti-papist movement fueled by the New England nativist movement referred to as Know-nothingism. Virginia as well as most of the Southern States rejected the Know-nothings and openly encouraged Irishmen to settle and work below the Mason-Dixon line. As a result of this, it was not surprising that when war came, many Irishmen living in the South were quick to defend their new homes. In reference to the Emerald Guard, the aforementioned newspaper editor surmised, "Virginia was the first to hurl back the tide of Know-Nothingism, and maintain the rights of Irishmen, they now gratefully and willingly will lay down their lives, if necessary, to sustain, protect and vindicate her rights." At the time the article was written, it appeared that Sibert had not intended that the new company would be an infantry company. As the newspaper account went on, the writer stated: "The whole company are noble specimens of Irishmen, and will do gallant service as Artillerists--the corps to which they wish to be attached."

By the middle of May, the company elected its officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs). Sibert naturally assumed the role of Captain of the Company. To compliment Sibert's militia experience, Thomas C. Fitzgerald proved to be a "most valuable acquisition" and was elected 1st Lieutenant of the company. Prior to his immigration to the United States, Fitzgerald boasted prior military experience with the British Army during the Crimean War. For this reason, he was thought "well qualified for drilling the company."[4]

THE AVERAGE SOLDIER

Regarding the average soldier in the Emerald Guard, an examination of the muster rolls available at the National Archives reveal that a large portion of the men signed an X to documents kept within that collection. This evidence suggests that many of the men were illiterate and unable to write their own names. Many listed their place of birth as Ireland and many declared their occupation to be laborer. Of 272 soldiers, in the 33rd Virginia, the median age was 25 years. Of the ages that were listed for the Emerald Guard, the company makeup in 1861 appeared older than the rest of the regiment. Indeed, the oldest man listed on the regimental roster was Francis Green, who enlisted in the Emerald Guard at age 62. Besides Green, the descriptive rolls printed in Lowell Reidenbaugh's 33rd Virginia Infantry reveal that at least 8 other persons in the company were over the age of 30. Several men, discharged on account of age also suggest that there were more than that.[5]

Sibert outfitted his company and petitioned Richmond to accept the Emerald Guard into State service. Accepted as an infantry company, Captain Sibert received permission to bring his company to Winchester during the last week of June. Lieutenant John Ireland would report that the company "traveled from New Market to Winchester 49 miles by private conveyance," or at their own expense. Along the way, it can be assumed that the company were "cheered along the rout by the waving of handkerchiefs and receipt of bouquets from the ladies" as were other units that converged on Winchester during that period.

WINCHESTER

The Emerald Guard arrived in Winchester and were assigned to the command of Colonel Arthur Campbell Cummings, an Abingdon attorney and Mexican War veteran. On June 27 they rendezvoused with the other four companies assigned to Cummings who had set up camp approximately 1 mile south of Winchester. The company were provided percussion muskets and a limited number of cartridge boxes, cap boxes and bayonet scabbards. They also were provided "very poor tents made of coarse linen."[6]

On the 15th Colonel Cumming's regiment, now consisting of ten companies and was designated the 33rd Regiment of Virginia Volunteers. Assigned to the1st Brigade commanded by General Thomas J. Jackson, they joined the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 27th Virginia Infantry Regiments as well as the Rockbridge Artillery. The Emerald Guard was formally designated as Company "E", 33rd Virginia Infantry, and like the companies around them, had enlisted for 12 months' service.

FIRST MANASSAS

The Emerald Guard fought its first battle at Manassas on July 21, 1861. At the height of the battle, it was Jackson's first brigade, and more specifically, the undersized regiment of Colonel Cummings that turned the tide of battle with a well-timed charge against an exposed artillery battery. Though the Thirty-third Virginia succeeded in capturing the guns, the number of men that made the charge (only about 250) were unable to maintain possession and were forced to retreat. The charge had halted the steady advance of the Union Army up to that point, and precipitated further charges by Jackson's other regiments. By day's end, the actions of the Thirty-third led to the complete route of the Union Army, and played a major role in immortalizing the brigade. From that point forward, the successful stand on Henry House Hill would earn the Brigade and its leader the name "Stonewall." The cost of immortality for Cummings regiment was high. Of the 450 men who were present at the battle, the 33rd would suffer 43 killed and 140 wounded; The Emerald Guard, having participated in the battle, suffered 15 casualties including most of the company officers and NCO's. Captain Sibert was shot through both legs; Lt. Thomas C. Fitzgerald and 2d Lt. John Ireland were also wounded; in addition, Sgt. Michael Gavagan was wounded and Corp. John O. Sullivan was killed.

PICKET DUTY

Throughout the rest of July, August, September and October the Company, along with the rest of the regiment continued to drill and performed guard and picket duty around Centerville, Virginia and on Munson's Hill, in sight of the Federal defenses around Alexandria.

The company was mustered and paid as of October 31, 1861. At that time, the company numbered 2 Lieutenants, 4 Sergeants, 4 Corporals and 38 Privates. According to the officer inspecting the company, their clothing was relatively good and military appearance was "as good as condition of the clothing admits." The company were armed with altered percussion muskets and were equipped with cartridge and cap boxes. Regarding their discipline, the mustering officer noted that it was "not good in the absence of the Captain."[7]

RETURN TO THE VALLEY

Three days later, General Jackson took leave of his old Brigade and returned to the Valley to take command of Virginia's Valley District. Finding the size of his command inadequate for the task, he petitioned Richmond for the return of the Stonewall Brigade to the Valley. On November 9, only five days after Jackson left his command, the Brigade received orders for them to pack up camp and march to Manassas Junction where they were expected to board the train and return to the Valley.

Arriving in the evening, it was determined that there were only enough cars to take the 2nd, 5th and 27th Virginia Regiments back. The 4th and 33rd were ordered to encamp at the junction and wait for the trains to return in the morning. Around 10 o'clock, without shelter to protect them, a steady, cold rain began to fall continuing throughout the long night. Having somehow come into the possession of a barrel of whiskey, the Emerald Guard would make it longer yet and twice as miserable for the others present. "The whole of the Irish company gets drunk save a few," wrote a member of Company H, 33rd Virginia, "they get to fighting, in which swords, bayonets and knives are used; have a hard time tying them and putting them in the guardhouse. Several of both parties get badly wounded…"[8]

News of the incident resounded all the way up to General Jackson's Headquarters. On December 2, Jackson in his official report, provided the following account of the rowdy Irishmen. "...While the Thirty-third Regiment Virginia Volunteers was en route from Manassas to this place one of its companies (Company E) arrived in camp near here without any officer, in consequence of its first lieutenant (T.C. Fitzgerald) having absented himself without leave. In consequence of Colonel Cummings having reported to me that he could not undertake another march with the company, as it was composed of unmanageable Irishmen…"[9]

CUTSHAW'S BATTERY

As it turned out, an opportunity presented itself that appealed to everyone involved. "…as the company numbered about 30, and as I had two unassigned pieces of field artillery, and also Second Lieut. W.E. Cutshaw, C.S. Army, a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, was without a command, I assigned him to the command of the company, and ordered the two pieces of artillery to be turned over to him..."[10] The Emerald Guard, or at least the 30 troublesome members, were now artillerists—the branch of service they originally expected to be part of.

The company were provided two four-pounders—one a smoothbore and the other rifled. Within a few days, the company showed a ‘mild proficiency.' Jackson immediately employed them to reinforce the militia camp situated at Hanging Rock—a strongpoint on the road to Romney.[11]

HANGING ROCK

On January 7, 1862, While Jackson advanced against Federal outposts at Bath and Romney, disaster struck the outpost at Hanging Rock. On the evening of the 6th an expedition of 2000 Federals with six pieces of artillery advanced against the Confederate position, which was defended by Cutshaw's two guns manned by the Emerald Guard, and 700 militia. The Federals completely surprised the rebels, putting the entire command to flight and capturing both artillery pieces. Cutshaw would recall that the Federal "advance [came] in with part of our pickets. Instead of attempting a passage of the gap the enemy hurried immediately to the more accessible ridge on our right, and were there as soon as our militia, and with a volley scattered them." Having no infantry support, the Irish artillerists were either "shot down or put to flight, and the pieces captured."[12] Despite this report, only one member of the Emerald Guard was killed in the action and no others reported wounded.

Though no documentation is available that officially shows which members of the unit were assigned to Cutshaw, the continuing service records of many of the original members show that their participation in the Emerald Guard continued throughout the next several years. It appeared that without cannon, the newfound artillerists were forced to once again pick up the musket and fall back in with the 33rd Virginia.[13]

KERNSTOWN

As Spring came, so did the Federals in force. Jackson, being forced to evacuated Winchester, headed southwards up the Valley until news from Jackson's cavalry scouts suggested that the Federals, were reducing their force so as to reinforce the Union operations further east. Doubling back, Jackson launched an attack against the Federals situated at Kernstown a few miles South of Winchester on March 23, 1862. The 33rd would play a large role in holding a stonewall against overwhelming numbers, until being ordered to retire as their ammunition became expended. The regiment would suffer 23 killed, 12 wounded and 18 captured; the Emerald Guard were fortunate not to lose a single man.

REORGANIZATION

Following Kernstown, Jackson's Army retreated down the Valley towards Rude's Hill, where, in accordance with various orders issued by the Governor of Virginia and the Confederate Congress, the existing units were reenlisted for a period of three years or the war. New recruits between the ages of 18 and 45 were encouraged through bounty and the fear of being conscripted involuntarily, to join the army. To augment recruiting, State militias were obliged to disband and its members obliged to fill up the ranks of the regular companies. By the end of April, the Thirty-third Virginia Infantry grew by 297 recruits and with the absorption of the militia, swelled to 762 men before breaking camp on May 3. The 30 men of the Emerald Guard were increased by 48 members during April. In both instances, many of the militia and some of the recruits were unhappy with the situation and within a few weeks, had melted away from the army. When the company was mustered on the last day of April 1862, the company consisted of 2 Lieutenants, 2 Sergeants, 3 Corporals and 23 Privates present. In addition, 11 of the original members who had reenlisted were away on furlough, while 8 privates and Captain Sibert were absent sick and recovering from wounds. Only 5 of the 48 conscripts were present at the time the regiment was paid. The officer mustering the company described their discipline, instruction and military appearance as "pretty good", and noted that their arms were "improved", accoutrements in good condition and clothing in tolerable shape.[14]

As part of the reorganization process, the companies were permitted to choose new officers. Marion Sibert, despite his continued inability to rejoin the company, was again elected Captain of the company. Thomas E. Conn, formerly the color sergeant of Co. K, who had transferred to the company on April 2, was elected 1st Lieutenant. Other changes were as follows: Lts. John Daily was reduced in rank while Thomas C. Fitzgerald, who had deserted in November was dropped from the rolls. From the ranks, Sgts. C.B.S.H. Sibert and John Ford were elected 2nd Lieutenants. In regard to the Non-commissioned officers, Patrick Sullivan continued as Sgt., Thomas S. Doyle and John Fitzgerald were made Sergeants.

THE VALLEY CAMPAIGN OF 1862

Throughout May and into the beginning of June, Jackson led his small army on one of the greatest campaigns of the war. The brigade would march some 386 miles and fight six battles in a month's time. Though the men of the Thirty-Third would see little real combat during the campaign, the long, forced marches that fully earned its members to be nicknamed Jackson's "foot cavalry." Jackson set a regimen for the men to enable them to march further and faster than any other unit in the war. He utilized the predawn hours, getting his men on the road and moving before the sunrise. He set a grueling pace, marching his men hard for 50 minutes at a time, then allowing them to rest 10 minutes. He would also allow the men a one hour lunch break to eat their rations. As a rule, Jackson would avoid marching or fighting on Sundays unless threat or opportunity made it necessary.[15]

At McDowell, (May 8) the Stonewall Brigade was assigned guard duty, protecting the wagons and supplies in the rear. From May 9 through 14, the Brigade pursued Fremont's army to Franklin and returned to McDowell. On May 23, the Brigade marched with the rest of Jackson's army towards Front Royal, but arrived too late in the evening to participate in the fighting. Late in the evening on May 24, the Brigade ran into a force of Federals situated in a wood near Barton's Mill around 10 PM. The 33rd formed line of battle and two companies were sent forward to flush out the Federals. In the confusion of night fighting, a Confederate Cavalry force heading to the rear, charged through the 33rd's causing several casualties. The next day, the 33rd participated in the battle of Winchester, acting as artillery support. Being situated as they were, the regiment found themselves under regular fire from artillery and infantry throughout the day. On the 28th the regiment again served as artillery support as the Federals were pushed out of Charlestown.

Threatened by Federal movements elsewhere in the Valley, Jackson recalled the brigade and began a quick descent back up the Valley, pursued closely by General Shields. During that time, straggling would result in the loss of 6 members of the Emerald Guard.[16]

On June 8 and June 9, the Battles of Cross Keyes and Port Republic were fought. The 33rd were held in reserve during the Cross Keyes affair, while at Port Republic, the regiment spent part of the day trying to find the location of the Stonewall Brigade. This would lead to the temporary arrest of Colonel John F. Neff, and also bring an end to the Valley Campaign.

THE PENINSULA CAMPAIGN

After a three day rest near Weyer's Cave, the brigade was again on the move. Crossing Rockfish Gap, Jackson hurried his men towards Richmond to augment the besieged forces around Richmond. The Brigade arrived in time to assist Robert E. Lee in his counteroffensive against George McClellan. On June 28th, the Stonewall Brigade would participate in the final charge near twilight at the battle of Gaines Mill, and again would see action near day's end at the battle of Malvern Hill on July 1.The Thirty-third took 32 casualties at Malvern Hill, three of which were members of the Emerald Guard.

From July 8 through 17, the entire Brigade left the battlefield and moved to Richmond where the men were allowed to take a well-deserved rest. On the 17th, however, the Stonewall Brigade again packed their blanket rolls, shouldered arms and began marching northwards for a new campaign, this time against a new Federal Army being organized around Manassas Junction under General John Pope. On August 9, the Brigade would run into Pope at a place known as Cedar Mountain. The Thirty-third Regiment fought fiercely throughout the battle, taking 17 casualties. The Emerald Guard would lose one man in the fight.

Two days after the battle at Cedar Mountain, the regiment would officially lose one more. Captain Marion Sibert, who, coming to terms with his inability to rejoin the Emerald Guard in the field, resigned his commission as Captain on August 11, 1862. Sibert would survive the war without further injury, serving as provost for both Winchester and New Market.

SECOND MANASSAS

Continuing northwards, Jackson's men would sweep away the single brigade of infantry that guarded the vast supply depot at Manassas Junction. Taking all that could be used by the army, it was left to the 33rd Virginia to see that the cars and warehouses were set aflame and otherwise destroyed. On the following day, August 27th the Brigade encamped at Groveton, just to the North of the old Battlefield. Around twilight, the Stonewall Brigade confronted their equals in the Federal Army, the Iron Brigade. Both commands would stand in line facing each other well into the darkness justifying their reputations to the other. In the end, the Stonewall Brigade would hold their position on the field. Over the next two days, the Brigade would be engaged in the battle of Second Manassas. The three days fighting would cost the 33rd Virginia 33 killed and 81 wounded including their Colonel John Neff. The Emerald Guard would suffer only two wounded.

SHARPSBURG (ANTIETAM)

Continuing their advance into Maryland, the Brigade now only numbering about 200 men, would fight just as tenaciously suffering 3 killed and 17 more wounded. As the battle would result in a draw, the Confederate army retreated back across the Potomac and Jackson's army settled in around the lower Valley at which time a number of men, who had been wounded, released from Northern Prisons or returned from being AWOL filled up the ranks. By the end of October, the regiment was mustered and paid once more. The Emerald Guard now officially numbered 1 Lieutenant, 3 sergeants and 21 privates present for duty. Seven privates were listed as recovering from wounds, 8 privates had officially been discharged, 1 had been on detached duty, 5 had been killed since the beginning of the Valley Campaign, and 2 were listed as having deserted. Besides these, 42 men were still listed as AWOL. In addition, 2 conscripts were accounted for—1 present for duty and the other absent wounded. The appearance of the company upon returning was listed as follows: Clothing, indifferent; arms, mixed; accoutrements, indifferent; discipline and instruction, indifferent; and the company's overall military appearance was "as good as circumstances permit."

THE NEW CAPTAIN

On August 11, 1862, George Rust Bedinger joined the regiment. Born in Jefferson County, VA on July 10, 1840, George was the son of the Hon. Henry Bedinger, Minister of Denmark under the administration of Franklin Pierce.

When Fort Sumter was fired on and the States of Virginia was in the question of whether to secede, George was a student at the University of Virginia. With Governor Letcher called for Virginians to form volunteers companies, George Bedinger left his studies and hurried home to join the "Hamtramck Guards"—the company in which his First Cousin Edwin G. Lee was a lieutenant. This company would become Company B, 2nd Virginia Infantry.


With the 2nd Virginia he saw action at First Manassas as part of the First (Stonewall) Brigade. Following the battle, in August, he was transferred to the 1st Rockbridge Artillery. During the Battle of Kernstown, while the Rockbridge artillery was heavily engaged throughout the day, George Bedinger was described by an eye-witness as "always in the right place, and in spite of the dangers to which he was exposed and of which he was fully conscious, could not resist the temptation to be merry and to provoke merriment in others at his own and his companions' occasional impulses to dodge the noisiest shells with which the enemy were making the day hideous."[17]

In appearance, George was of "medium height, active strong, and graceful."[18]‘In camp and on the march'" another wrote, "Bedinger was always gay and cheerful, and, though reared in ease and affluence, made himself and his comrades merry amid their privations and discomforts."[19]

Following the reorganization in April 1862, George Bedinger was provided a commission as Captain if he could form a new cavalry company for Colonel Ashby. Having failed at this assignment, he was transferred to the 33rd Virginia, Co. "E" on August 11, 1862. During the battles of Second Manassas and Sharpsburg, Bedinger's coolness in battle and natural leadership would gain him the respect of his Irish compatriots and the attention of the regimental officers, especially his cousin, Edwin.

On November 19, 1862, Col. Edwin G. Lee, who had been in command of the Thirty-third Virginia since the death of Col. Neff at Second Manassas, took the opportunity to promote Private Bedinger to command the Emerald Guard. In a dispatch to his Brigade commander, Lee wrote:

"I respectfully recommend Private Geo. R. Bedinger, Co. E, 33rd VA Infantry for promotion to Captaincy of his Company vice Seibert resigned upon the ground of general need. Officering & skills being the best qualified in his co[mpany] for the office, and upon the further ground of marked and conspicuous gallantry in many battles, and special conspicuous daring & coolness at Manassas Aug 28, 29, 30, Sept. 1st and at Sharpsburg Sept. 17th 1862."[20]

To his friend and superior Frederick Holliday, he would justify Bedingers appointment as "there was no one in it fit for it, and the Irish, (who remember him as acting Sergt. Major) expressed their perfect willingness to have him. He makes one of the best Captains I know of, and his men are delighted with him."[21]

The only lieutenant present at the time, John Ford would naturally have been promoted to the position. However, as Lt. Col. Lee would write to James Seddon, the Secretary of War about Bedinger's promotion on Jan. 21, 1863, "… The 2d Lt. John Ford, who was the only officer left to the Company consented to the recommendation, verbally and since sent me his written waiver of right to promotion by Seniority..." [22]

Soon after this recommendation was acted upon, Lt. Thomas E. Conn, the former color Sgt. of Co. K would reappear after being listed as AWOL following the battle of Cedar Mountain. In reality, Conn had recently returned to the 33rd after being exchanged as a prisoner of war. He made the claim that he was promised the command of Co. E upon Sibert's resignation by former Colonel John F. Neff. Neff however, was not available to defend Conn, as he had been killed at the battle at Groveton on August 27. Despite his protests, Lee would not validate Conn's absence or reverse his decision about promoting Bedinger to Captain. On December 17, following the Battle of Fredericksburg, Thomas E. Conn wrote to General Samuel Cooper in Richmond to "resigning his original commission and requesting that he be relieved from service."[23]

FREDERICKSBURG

While this was happening, the Battle of Fredericksburg occurred on December 14. Captain Bedinger had the responsibility of commanding the company, as the Brigade defended Hamilton's Crossing on the far right of the Confederate line. Seeing but little action, Bedinger would write to his mother on the 23rd, "...Our sufferings, preceding and during the battle were considerable. Marching and tramping or lying upon the frozen earth, but not a man deserted his post."[24]

It would appear that the promotion of Bedinger to Captain had a good effect on the men under his command. Bedinger would write several days after the battle: "I am very much pleased with the conduct of my Irishmen. they are enthusiastic and brave and at the same time obedient. I think they are fond of me, at least they are very attentive to my comfort."[25]

According to the muster rolls for December 1862, the company consisted of 1 Captain, 2 Lieutenants 2 Sergeants 1 Corporal and 9 Privates. In addition 9 privates, 1 sergeant, and 1 corporal were reportedly sick or recovering from wounds, and 56 soldiers were reported as AWOL. In addition, 2 conscripts were present for duty. As to the company settled into Winter Camp at Moss Neck, the discipline, military appearance and condition of the men's clothing were described as "indifferent, while the instruction was upgraded to "tolerably good." Their arms and accoutrements were listed respectively as "improved" and "good."

CHANCELLORSVILLE

At the beginning of May, 1863, a new Federal General, Joseph Hooker led the Army of the Potomac across the Rapahannock while making a demonstration in front of Fredericksburg. Over the next three days, the Battle of Chancellorsville would take place. In the thick of the fight on May 3 was the Stonewall Brigade. The Emerald Guard having, having grown little over the winter months, suffered heavily. Capt. Bedinger, taking a moment during a lull in the fighting on the 4th of May, wrote:

"Yesterday we fought the most terrible battle of this war, attacking the enemy in his chosen positions and driving him at every point, our Brigade behaved magnificently, but lost very heavily...Today we are in line and throwing up breast works, whether we will attack or the enemy retreat further, I cannot say, I'm pretty certain of more fighting. Thank God I am spared to write you this note, tho half of my little company were killed or wounded..." [26]

This battle would have a devastating effect on the Stonewall Brigade and the Confederacy despite the military victory in which it resulted. General Jackson, their beloved leader, had been severely wounded by his own pickets on the night of the 3rd. He would lose his arm and within a few days, Jackson died from complications. Although General Lee would feel that he had come to lose his right arm with the death of Jackson, Lee prepared to launch his second offensive northwards into Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Brigade was now placed under the command of James A. Walker and was placed in the Second Corps now commanded by Richard S. Ewell. By early June, Lee stealthily pulled his troops out of line and began the trek westward into the Valley and then north towards the Potomac.

SECOND WINCHESTER

Around midnight on June 14, the Thirty-third, marching at the rear of the Brigade, "a position described by its commander as the most irksome position either on the march or in the maneuvering of any brigade. The pace, somewhat rapid and laborious." Formed line of battle near the Winchester and Martinsburg turnpike where, being on the extreme left of the brigade, the regiment drew "desultory fire" from the enemy. Company "E" would suffer one man wounded as they were ordered not to return fire. As the enemy broke and fled northwards, the 33rd pursued. Captain Bedinger wrote home to his sister boasting of another Confederate victory on the day following the battle:

"Rejoice in another "glorious victory: which to use our good old chieftan's expression God has given us. We arrived before this town on 13th and surrounded it. Bombed the Yankees during the 14th, had a sharp battle with them yesterday (15th) as they tried to escape and killed or captured two thirds of their force. We have taken between two + three thousand prisoners, over twenty pieces of magnificent canon, wagons, horses + mules innumerable stores and plunder of every description to an immense amount…. lost one man yesterday very badly wounded."

GETTYSBURG

Within fifteen days, the 33rd had crossed the Potomac and were encamped around Chambersburg when the order came for the Second Corps to converge on the Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. Arriving late in the evening of July 1, the Brigade spent much of the 2nd day skirmishing on the far Confederate left. It would not be until the next day that the 33rd would see real fighting. At 3 a. m. on the morning of the 3rd, The regiment was aroused and marched off with the rest of the Brigade towards the enemy position atop Culp's Hill. After daybreak, the regiment advanced in line of battle towards the enemy who was "strongly intrenched in a most advantageous position." The regiment advanced up the slopes of the hill advancing "in intervals" as the men took cover behind rocks and trees as they advanced. Although the regiment exhausted its ammunition within an hour or two, at least part of the 33rd remained engaged for almost five hours, as partial supplies were received upon the field. During this portion of the fighting, Captain Bedinger of the Emerald Guard was killed while advancing towards the enemy. Captain Golladay, in temporary command of the regiment after the battle would write that Bedinger's body had fallen perhaps the closest to the enemy's lines. Sometime around noon, the regiment was withdrawn from the slopes, reorganized and replenished with ammunition. The regiment was then moved several hundred yards to the right, and another advance was made upon the enemy. The fighting was intense and lasted only a half hour or so before the regiment was withdrawn again and marched to the rear for a short rest until mid afternoon. Again, the regiment was aroused, reequipped and marched to a position farther to the right of the line. From this time until nightfall the regiment was only engaged in skirmishing after which the day's survivors quietly retired. Upon the field would be left many whom Golladay considered the "flower of the regiment."[27] Besides Captain Bedinger, the company would lose five other men wounded in action.


As Lee began his long retreat in the rain on July 4th and 5th, five members of the company, some of which had been wounded two days before were captured at Waterloo and Chambersburg. By the time the 33rd had re-crossed the Potomac and moved into camp around Orange Court House, the regiment numbered only 90 men.[28] With the death of George Bedinger and the only Lieutenant, Patrick Maxwell absent sick, Captain D.B. Huffman of Co. G, 33rd Virginia Infantry assumed temporary responsibility for the company. On August 31, 1863, the Emerald Guard was again mustered to be paid. At that time, the unit numbered 1 Corporal and 7 Privates present for duty; 14 privates, 3 sergeants and 1 corporal were recovering from wounds; and 1 man had been discharged. Of the multitude of men listed as AWOL in previous musters, all but 3 were dropped from the rolls. In regard to the appearance of those that were left in ranks, Colonel Abraham Spengler, commanding the regiment reported that discipline among the small company of Irishmen was loose, while their arms and training were considered to be "good." Their military appearance was considered "indifferent."[29]

MINE RUN / PAYNE'S FARM

In late October, the 33rd along with the rest of the Stonewall Brigade started on an expedition towards Bristoe Station, where it tore up railroad tracks of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. Still under the temporary command of Captain Huffman, and consisting of 1 corporal and 7 privates, the company was

On November 27th, during the Mine Run Campaign, the 33rd saw action around the Payne's Farm. As at 2d Winchester, the regiment found itself exposed to an enfilading fire. Again, the Emerald Guard suffered one casualty as the regiment held its position and tried to protect its left as best as it could. Against overwhelming pressure, the Federals again began to melt away. By the end of the day, the Regiment would suffer 5 casualties in all.

In December of 1863 Thomas S Doyle was promoted 2nd Lieutenant and now took command of the 7 privates present for duty. In addition, 16 privates, 3 sergeants and 1 Lieutenant were still absent, most recovering from wounds; 1 sergeant and 1 private were on detached duty; 2 were listed as AWOL, 4 deserted; and 1 new enlistment joined the ranks. The payroll officer inspecting the men at this time recorded that the discipline and instruction of the men were "good," the military appearance and clothing of the company was considered "indifferent," and their arms and accoutrements were described as "good".[30]

WILDERNESS / SPOTTSYLVANIA

The ill-fated Spring of 1864 would begin with news of Union General U.S. Grant's crossing of the Rapidan River. General Lee responded by maneuvering his ever-shrinking army to meet Grant on ground of his own choosing. On May 4, the Army of Northern Virginia and Army of the Potomac collided in the tangled landscape that sprawled between Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Spottsylvania Court House known as the "Wilderness". Fighting raged amidst the broken terrain from the 4th to the 6th of May. Less than a hundred men remained, and in the Emerald Guard, as previously mentioned numbered eight. Around 11 AM on the 5th the regiment became heavily engaged, taking several casualties. One private of Company "E" was wounded. Several days later, Lt. Doyle would be captured leaving the remaining men of the company without a commander. (As a matter of interest, Lt. Doyle would be sent as a POW to Fort Delaware, where on August 20, he was ordered as one of 600 Confederate officers to Charleston Harbor to be used as a human shield and subjected to poor living conditions. He would become one of the "Immortal 600."

A slight lull occurred as the repulse of his army caused General Grant to side step Lee in his continual descent towards Richmond. On May 10, both armies had shifted their positions and Lee had managed to cut off Grant's line of march at Spottsylvania Court House. At 6 AM on the 12th, the 6th Corps of the Army of the Potomac surprised the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. Overrunning the salient known as the Mule Shoe, many of the Brigades under Allegheny Ed Johnson were captured en masse. Among those captured were the majority of the Stonewall Brigade. Though some got away, the brigade effectively ceased to exist as a Brigade at that point. Likewise, within the 33rd Virginia, the Federal attack would cost the Emerald Guard the remaining men who actively participated.[31]

THE END OF THE WAR

What was left of the 33rd Virginia and the Stonewall Brigade would be incorporated with the remnants of several other brigades of Johnson's old division and placed under the overall command of William Terry from the 4th Virginia Regiment. This amalgamated brigade would go on to participate in Early's 1864 Valley Campaign, Hatcher's Run, Waynesboro, Fort Stedman and Lee's final retreat to Appomattox. During that time, a few men from the Emerald Guard would return to the ranks, but that number would be too small to act or be recognized as an actual company. As Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to General Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, only 18 men were present from the 33rd Regiment. Of that number, no members of the Emerald Guard were present.


 


[1] Reidenbaugh, Lowell, 33rd Virginia Infantry, p. 2.

[2] Wayland, History of Shenandoah County, p. 295.

[3] Wayland, History of Shenandoah County, p. 295.

[4] Wayland, History of Shenandoah County, p. 295.

[5] Riedenbaugh, Lowell, 33rd Virginia Infantry, pp.111-147.

[6] Company Muster Roll, June 1 to Aug 31, 1861, Co. E, 33 Reg't Virginia Infantry, National Archives and Records Administration.

[7] Pay and Muster Rolls, August 31, 1861 to December 31, 1861, National Archives and Records Administration.

[8] Hite, John, Wartime Diary

[9] O.R. Chap. XIV Correspondence to Maj. Thomas G. Rhett from T.J. Jackson.

[10] O.R. Chap. XIV Correspondence to Maj. Thomas G. Rhett from T.J. Jackson.

[11] Tanner, Robert G., Stonewall in the Valley, pp. 51-52.

[12] Allan, William, History of the Campaign of Gen. T.J. (Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, p. 24 note.

[13] Riedenbaugh, Lowell, 33rd Virginia Infantry, pp. 111-147.

[14] Pay and Muster Rolls, December 31, 1861 to April 31, 1862, National Archives and Records Administration.

[15] Martin, David G., Jackson's Valley Campaign, p. 200.

[16] Reidenbaugh, Lowell, Thirty-Third Virginia Infantry, pp. 111-147.

[17] Driver, Jr., Robert J., The 1st and 2nd Rockbridge Artillery, p. 60.

[18] Driver, Jr., Robert J., The 1st and 2nd Rockbridge Artillery, p. 60.

[19] Driver, Jr., Robert J., The 1st and 2nd Rockbridge Artillery, p. 60.

[20] Lee, Col. Edwin G., Dispatch.

[21] Lee, Col. Edwin G, Letter to Frederick W.M. Holliday, Dec. 22, 1862, Holliday Papers, Duke University.

[22] Col. E.G. Lee, 33rd Virginia, Letter to Sec. of War, James A. Seddon, Jan. 21, 1863.

[23] Lieut. Thomas E. Conn, letter to Gen. Samuel S. Cooper, Adjt. Gen., C.S.A.

[24] Capt. George R. Bedinger, Letter to mother, December 23, 1863.

[25] Capt. George R. Bedinger, Letter to mother, December 23, 1863.

[26] Capt. George R. Bedinger, Letter to sister, Virginia, May 4th 1863.

[27] Official Records, Chpater XXXIX THE GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN, Numbers 494. Reports of Captain J. B. Golladay, Thirty-third Virginia Infantry. JULY 16, 1863, pp. 530-531.

[28] Reidenbaugh, Lowell, 33rd Virginia Infantry, p. 72.

[29] Pay and Muster Rolls, August 31, 1863 to October 31, 1863, National Archives and Records Administration.

[30] Pay and Muster rolls, October 31, 1863 to December 31, 1863, National Archives and Records Administration.

[31] Reidenbaugh, Lowell, Thirty-Third Virginia Infantry, pp. 111-147.

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