Excerpts From Second Lt. Samuel Cosmo Lowry's Diary
Second Battle of Manassas
On Wednesday evening, August 27th, we arrived in the neighborhood of Manassas. On arriving at the little station of Gainesville we were drawn into line of battle after double quick, but crossing only a short distance farther before we bivouaced for the night. On Thursday, the day following we lay still listening to our pickets stray shots and to the occasional booming of big guns. On Friday we arose considerably refreshed and marched up in reach of the enemy shells that now commenced falling thick and fast. We lay in the woods a short distance from the enemy's line, watching the flying shells as they passed over us, seeing, whistling, literally plowing the air, the loud shriek of the flying shells, the dull whiz of the great ancanisten, with the disappearing cry of wounded mortals, fairly rent the air. Our pickets in front were continually popping away at those of the enemy, firing like a crane brake on fire, and shouting like demons. All day we lay and listened to these discordant sounds, knowing that our time would soon come to mix in with the general medley. As evening approached the firing became still hotter. Brigade after Brigade hurried to engage in the general revelry. A short while before dusk General Evans rode up to our Brigade and ordered us to advance. We formed a line and the general ordered us to double quick, and thus we went through bushes, over hills, &c., for half a mile, when we came upon a farm house all around which was strewn with dead bodies. A short distance from this house Benbons Regiment, the 23rd S.C. Vol. being on the left of the brigade was charged upon by a regiment of Yankee Cavalry. Our fellows stopped steady, poured a destructive fire into the charging cavalry, emptying nearly every saddle, and throwing them into the utmost confusion. Those that left immediately wheeled and fled, followed by the exultant shouts of our victorious boys. While advancing a stray ball struck W. A. Parker of our company inflicting a wound that proved mortal in a short time. We kept steadily on, waded a deep creek, until we came in view of General Law's Brigade of Alabamians where we halted in a corn field and remained there half the night, wringing wet and shivering with cold. About midnight a rumor reached us that the enemy were trying to get into our rear and General Evans ordered us back to the farm house where we spent the remainder of the night. All night long the pickets kept up a constant firing, indicating that the enemy still confronted us. We all knew that the following day would be an eventful one for some of us, ay, a fatal one. The 30th of August dawned and ushered in a glorious day for our young Confederacy, - one that will ever be remembered in the annals of history, and one whose fame shall never pass into oblivion. As the day dawned, cannon after cannon boomed forth their iron hail, and the increased firing showed plainly the fierceness of the battle. Regiment after Regiment advanced to the contest. We lay for over half the day listening and watching the contest, and still no orders for us to advance, But at length, the order came. General Evans ordered us to advance, and the whole Brigade started forward in as pretty a line as they had ever formed on dress-parade. We advanced first across a little open space, or small strip of old field, and on entering the woods on the other side the shells came flying over us in close proximity. General Evans ordered us to lie down until the shells passed over us. As I lay down a shell came whizzing over me, about a foot over my head and fell right at my heels, but fortunately it did not explode. We got up then and charged forward in a good line, through the woods, over the dead and wounded men, shouting like demons. After passing through the woods we entered on a thicket of cedars and here the enemy sent their great shots in perfect hurricanes, crushing and maiming man after man.
On entering a little clump of black-jacks, grape, canister, shrapnel, fairly rattled amid the trees. Here we lost very heavily, the man by my side was killed dead on the spot; our gallant Colonel, Ex-Gov. Means, fell pierced with a ball through the breast while gallantly cheering us on. It seemed strange how a man could escape, still we pressed resolutely on, and, on clearing the woods at Mrs. Chinn's house, we came in full sight of the enemy drawn up in good line, and showing their leaden missels upon us, the red uniforms of Col. Duryeas New York Knaves, shining prominent in the ranks, with a shout that sounded loud above the cannons roar, we charged forward on the run, firing and loading as fast as possible. The Yankees did not await to lock bayonets with us, but turned and fled precipitently, still keeping up a desultory fire, While giving our whole attention to the fleeing foe, a regiment of Yankees suddenly drew up in line, in a few yards from us on our left, an poured a destructive fire. And now my turn came, for it was here, while busy loading my rifle, that a ball from the enemy came whizzing through my thigh. My first thought was to look at it, but there was so much blood on my leg that I could not distinguish the wound. The balls continued to fly around me, knocking up the dirt all around me, and I was in eminent danger of getting another one. I got up and found I could walk a little, and hobbled about five steps back and lay down (Hors de CombatO. The battle continued with unabated fury, grape shells, shot, and Minnie Balls were plowing the air around me, and at that time I was suffering acute pain from my leg. My leg seemed to be numbed all over. Still, with a dull kind of pain thrilling through it. Several other wounded were lying near me. It was while lying here that someone came and lay down beside me saying, "We are friends now if we have been enemies". I did not understand him, in fact, I did not take any notice of him, but I saw he had on a Yankee uniform, which a great many of our men wore, and I supposed him one of our men. I lay still sometime without speaking to him, examining my leg, but having finished I asked him to what regiment he belonged. He replied, "I belong to the 24th Ohio". You are a Yankee then, says I. "Yes," he replied, "but I am tired of this dumb war, and won't fight anymore." I told him I would not trust a Yankee no further than I could see, and demanded his gun, which he complacently delivered, remarking, "It is loaded". I turned him over to our soldiers on their return. I lay here where I was wounded until the battle ended, which was about half hour after I got wounded. The Yankees were thoroughly whipped. It seemed that the field of Manassas was peculiarly unfortunate for them.
After the Battle, Samuel Cosmo Lowry and the wounded were taken a short distance to Mrs. Chinn's house.
Capt. Avery, my uncle, who was looking on the battle field for me, found me about twelve o'clock that night in good spirits, and left me promising to have me carried off in the morning, which he did. I considered myself truly fortunate in getting into the cellar, for it not only rained, but a night amid the dead and dying is not very pleasant. I was partially shielded from the discordant sounds of the wounded and dying, but I heard sufficient to apall the ear of the most hard-hearted stoic. Discordant sound rent the air, yells, shrieks, piteous groans and crys of suffering reached the ear on every side. It is truly horrible to witness the mangled bodies of the unfortunate combatants, limbs off, bodies half shot away, features awfully disfigured, &c., all wrapped up in the robe of death. The features were variously marked, some wore the stern aspect of battle, even in death, some presented pictures of despair, some of reckless determination, some of fright and still some of calmness and self satisfaction truly sublime. Some were smiling in death, seeming to realize that old and patriotic, but romantic maxim, " 'Tis sweet to die for one's Country". Peace be to their ashes, a soldier's fate. How wonderfully sudden, how apparently awful.
Samuel Cosmo Lowry lived to fight another day, he was only 16 years old during this battle. He recovered quickly and was back with the 17th S.C. a year later. His last battle was the Battle of the Crater, where 5 hours after the explosion, he led his men into harms way, taking back the lines lost to the Yankees in a Glorious Confederate Victory. However, he died in the process, at only the age of 19 years old. I'm sure that romantic maxim that he heard years earlier would of explained his sacrifice, " ' Tis Sweet to Die for One's Country"
Diary exert donated by Andrew Jones
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