The Sixth at Manassas

Copyright (C) 2016 by Frederick Walton

Here is an account of the 6th North Carolina State Troops and their participation in the first battle of Manassas on Sunday, July 21, 1861. This was written by Captain Benjamin Franklin White and published in “Histories of the several regiments and battalions from North Carolina, in the great war 1861-’65: Volume 5“. Edited by Chief Justice Walter Clark of the North Carolina Supreme Court, a Confederate veteran, and first published in 1901, today it is a valuable resource for North Carolina historians who generally refer to the 5 volume set simply as “Clark’s”.


[581] original Page numbers

Sixth Regiment [North Carolina State Troops] at Manassas
21 July, 1861
By B. F. White, Captain1

The main facts related by Major A. C. Avery (Vol. 1 of this work, pp. 240-349)2 in reference to the part the Sixth Regiment took in the first battle of Manassas are correct, but owing to his absence through sickness from the regiment when all points of the battle were discussed and the field visited and reports made to the commission sent out by Governor Clark, he has fallen into some errors. He fails to state that the Sixth Regiment halted for some time in front of the Lewis House, and that while here. Colonel Fisher rode forward to ascertain at what point to lead forward his regiment, at this juncture Lieutenant-Colonel Lightfoot requested Major R. F. Webb to ask, for him, the privilege of putting the regiment into line of battle, as Colonel Fisher had not drilled the regiment and was incompetent to do it, and further that Colonel Fisher and himself were not on good terms. (This request Colonel Fisher refused.) Colonel Lightfoot’s conduct towards Colonel Fisher had been such as to create an estrangement and their relations were very far from cordial.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 11.03.37 AM

The Lewis House, Portici, “Headquarters of Gen. Jos. E. Johnston, during the battle of the 1st Bull Run” LOC LC-DIG-ppmsca-20479

    On Colonel Fisher’s return, the regiment was moved several hundred yards and drawn up at a right angle from its former position. Avery states that this was our first position. After remaining here for some time a few shells from the enemy’s battery passed over our heads. One passed through our ranks as it bounded on the ground ; the men opened ranks and as it did not burst no one was hurt. Immediately after this we were ordered forward, marching in file, turned a little to the left, passed down a hill through a wood. On emerging from the woods into an old sedge field, [582] we crossed a branch (which I think was called Drake’s branch)3 While making this move quite a number of Louisianians and a part of a Mississippi Regiment in disorder, passed up a hill to the rear

    Here the Sixth Regiment halted for a short time. Then the regiment leaded for a point in the rear of where Colonel Bartow fell. When approaching near that point a courier or mounted officer called to Colonel Fisher not to go in that direction, for his regiment would be cut up by the Yankee cavalry. Thereupon the regiment was turned abruptly to the left, crossing an old worm fence, and passing behind a dense pine thicket immediately in the rear of the Fourth Alabama, Second Mississippi and two companies of the Eleventh Mississippi.


Old road at Manassas battlefield running behind Confederate lines Copyright (C) 2005 Frederick Walton Photography

On reaching an old road the regiment turned to the right and passed along a thick copse of wood on the left and soon emerged from the pines opposite the Mississippi troops. When the right of the Sixth Regiment got opposite the left of the Mississippi Regiment, I heard distinctly one of our field officers call to Colonel Fisher, “Colonel, turn the head of your regiment this way.” To this Colonel Fisher paid no attention whatever, but passed on into an angle formed by the Yankees in the Sudley road and the New York Zouaves marching to turn our left flank. When the left of company F, (third company in regiment), commanded by First Lieutenant Carter, came opposite the Mississippi
regiment, one of our field officers called out, “Halt.” Carter repeated the command, then “Right face4.” Colonel Fisher, who was but a short distance away, called out sharply, “Who in the hell gave that command? I am Colonel of this regiment; follow me.”

Captain Robert F Carter co F

1st Lt. Robert F. Carter, Co. F, courtesy of descendant Dan Morrow

    Lieutenant Carter gave the command, “Left face, forward, march.” No other company up to this time either halted or right faced. Company F immediately followed the two companies in its front. Lightfoot remarked, “Did any body ever see the like.” Soon after this we were fired upon at an angle from our left, the balls passing mostly over our heads, only one man in our company being hit. He was shot in the head. The second and third volley came low. About this time Colonel Lightfoot came through the left of company F [583] and was slightly wounded, but this did not interfere with his locomotion, calling out as he left, ”Boys, take care of yourselves,” and to their discredit or discretion, many took his advice and emulated his example, but did not stop till they reached Manassas, five miles away.

Point of Attack from Woodline by the 6th NCST at Manassas Battlefield Park Copyright (C) 2005 Frederick Walton Photography

Point of Attack from Woodline by the 6th NCST at Manassas Battlefield Park Copyright (C) 2005 Frederick Walton Photography

Company F faced to the rear and made a left wheel until they came on a line somewhat in advance of the Mississippians and opened fire upon a section of Sherman’s battery5 and two howitzers commanded by Captain Ricketts. About this time Companies A, E, F and D got considerably mixed up. I was much employed in driving home with a stone the balls for our Irish comrades. I was often called to, “Lieutenant, take this stone and drive me ball drown.” The kick of the gun was similar to that of a mule, and the report was not much less than a rifled 4-pounder.6 


Gen. O.B. Wilcox
Digital ID: (digital file from original neg.) cwpbh 00963

    About this juncture a Federal officer rode up to us waving his hat and calling, “For God’s sake stop ; you are firing on your friends.” On discovering his mistake he attempted to ride away. As he passed the left of the Mississippians he reeled and fell. He and his horse were both captured. This officer turned out to be Wilcox, who afterwards became a Major-General. Colonel Liddell, of the Eleventh Mississippi, got his horse and rode him for many a day.

2 gun section of Griffins Battery at Manassas Battlefield Park, located near where the guns attacked by the 6th NCST were Located

Two gun section of Griffin’s Battery at Manassas Battlefield Park, located near where the guns attacked by the 6th NCST were located Copyright (C) 2005 Frederick Walton Photography

    About this time the charge was made upon the battery. On reaching the battery I found all the horses killed. The two guns, 40-pounder brass howitzers, were unlimbered, but not trained upon our regiment, but rather pointing in the direction of the Second Mississippi. Our line passed the battery and on approaching the old Sudley road, were subjected to a heavy fire from Yankees stationed in the road, and also from the New York Zouaves on our left.

The Flagpole at the Manassas Battlefield Park Visitors Center Marks the approximate spot where Colonel Fisher Fell. Copyright (C) 2005 Frederick Walton Photography

The Flagpole at the Manassas Battlefield Park Visitors Center Marks the approximate spot where Colonel Fisher Fell. Copyright (C) 2005 Frederick Walton Photography

    In coming out of the fight I passed down the line of the Zouaves. Whether Colonel Fisher was killed by the Yankees charging from the Sudley road, or the Zouaves on our right, or from scattering shots from our own men, will never be known.

    Colonel Isaac E. Avery informed us that Captain Ricketts, in a conversation with his brother, Col. Waightstill Avery, informed him that ”the position of Fisher’s Regiment was such [584] that he supposed them to be a support for his battery; ” that had he a minute’s time longer, that he would have swept the whole head of our column down; that all of his men were either killed or wounded. This was the turning point in the battle. In falling back we passed directly in front of the Zouaves and were subjected to a heavy fire, the balls passing mostly over our heads, doing us little damage.
    Our line passed the battery and on approaching the old Sudley road were subjected to a heavy fire from the enemy stationed in it and also a flank fire from the New York Zouaves on our left, we were compelled to retreat. On leaving the field we passed through the line of Kirby Smith’s men, who were coming up as a support. On reaching the battery they found the dead and wounded Yankees lying around and honestly supposed that they did it. I passed a Virginia Colonel who I was told was Colonel Fletcher or Colonel Kemper. On getting back to the branch at the foot of the hill and edge of the woods the scattered men of the Sixth were formed into line and marched forward to the left of Kirby Smith’s command and led to the rear of one of our batteries, which did fine execution on the retreating columns of the enemy. We pursued the enemy as far as the stone house. There was still firing to the east. Here we were halted and addressed by President Davis, who told us of the glorious victory we had won. On the roll being called there were found to be present one hundred and twenty-five (125) men of the Sixth Regiment7. Twenty-five of these were from Company F.

The Stone house seen from the top of Henry Hill Copyright (C)2006 Frederick Walton Photography

The Stone house seen from the top of Henry Hill Copyright (C)2006 Frederick Walton Photography

Captain James Craige, whose company (G) was near the left of the regiment, was leading up his company in file, when he received a fire from an advancing column from the Sudley road, ten of his men fell dead in a bunch8, being only two less than one-half of the number killed in the regiment. Two-thirds of the regiment was blanketed by the three or four forward companies and the left companies took very little part in the fight simply from the position of the regiment and conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel Lightfoot. I have passed over the ground four times that the Sixth Regiment passed over in going into action. There was not at that [585] time, forty years ago, a gully which a man on horseback could not easily have crossed. The two guns brought over the Sudley road to the front of the Henry House were never fired from that position, not because of the nature of the ground, but simply because the battery was disabled, the men being either killed or wounded.

Author standing at the Magnum sign, notice the flagpole at the Visitors Center behind me. Copyright (C) 2006 Frederick Walton Photography

Author standing at the Mangum sign, notice the flagpole at the Visitors Center, behind me, where Col. Fisher fell. Copyright (C) 2006 Frederick Walton Photography

   I am of the opinion that Colonel Fisher, Lieutenant Magnum and others were killed by our troops over on the old Sudley road and not by the enemy9. Where the Sixth Regiment fought is free from gullies or steep hillsides. At the time of the battle all that ground was in virgin forest, piney old field and sedge, except where we joined in the flank movement.
On the evening of the battle I heard Colonel Fletcher, of Virginia, boasting of the capture of the battery by his regiment. I told him how it was done, but he would not stand
corrected. The Virginians still claim the honors, I believe.

B. F. White.
Mebane, N. C. ,
31 December, 1901.

Note —A very interesting account of the Sixth at Manassas is also
given by Gen. Clingman in this vol. at p. 29, ante.—Ed.


[1] Clark’s “Histories of the several regiments and battalions from North Carolina, in the great war 1861-’65: Volume 5” has been digitized by The North Carolina State Archives and is available at

[2] Clark’s “Histories of the several regiments and battalions from North Carolina, in the great war 1861-’65: Volume 1” has been digitized by The North Carolina State Archives and is available at

[3] I have been unable to identify a stream on the Manassas battlefield called Drake’s Branch. (There is a town in Charlotte County, Va. called “Drake’s Branch” but this would not be relevant.) This may have been a local nickname, but in studying period maps of the battle field I do not find this reference. I believe he may be referring to “Hokum’s Branch”, a tributary of the Bull Run which lies between the Lewis House (Portici) and their position in front of Griffin’s Guns. This branch also forks off into a couple of smaller unnamed branches that may have crossed their path.

[4] When a Column is marching by the left flank, as these troops were, the command right face, would have placed them in a two rank battle front facing the right, or in this case the enemy on their right. This is actually a proper reaction to a halt, however,  a company  commander should not assume the Colonel’s intention, but should have waited for the command.

[5] Although most of the early accounts of this battle call this battery “Sherman’s” it was, in fact, Griffin’s Battery.

[6] YIKES! what a dangerous practice! when a muzzle loaded black powder rifle is fired several times the interior of the barrel gets fouled making it very difficult to drive the lead mini ball home with a ramrod. Hitting the ramrod with a stone is one way to accomplish this, but considering that the explosive black powder is already at the bottom if the barrel, a spark could result in a deadly accident.

[7] There are several number’s floating around, but the guesstimates for the Regiments strength at Manassas range from the 600’s to the 800’s.

[8] A review of the regimental Roster shows 8 killed and 6 wounded, of which 2 were severely wounded, one of these dying as a result of the wound. The regimental losses were 16 Killed, 57 Wounded, 1 Missing for a total of 74 Casualties, reported in the 7-31-1861 North Carolina standard taken from Lt CoL Lightfoot’s official report and verified against North Carolina Troops Roster (Jordon) & Bloody Sixth Roster (Manarin).
by Rick Walton 7/18/2006. Click here and go to bottom of page for details

[9] In Major A. C. Avery’s article “additional Sketch of the Sixth Regiment” in Volume 1 of “Clark’s Regimentals” (page 346) he writes: “For many years the writer [A. C. Avery] shared in the opinion generally entertained by the soldiers of the Sixth, who participated in the fight, that the men who fired upon us, and caused us to fall back, were Confederates ; but the story was not credited by the general officers, who could locate none of our troops in the skirt of woods referred to…When General Sherman wrote his memoirs it appeared from his report that a Massachusetts regiment in his brigade wore a gray uniform, and were mistaken by Confederates for their own men. He describes their position as that of the soldiers who occupied the woods to the left and front of the Sixth. The account given by General Sherman is the solution of what before had seemed an inexplicable mystery. We were fired upon by a regiment of the enemy, and not by Confederates.”


Remembering the Volunteers of the 6th North Carolina State Troops on the Anniversary of the 1st Battle of Manassas

Copyright (C) 2016 Frederick Walton

July 21, 1861- First Battle of Manassas

The 6th N. C. S. T. were the ONLY North Carolina Regiment actively engaged at

the Battle of 1st Manassas.

In Honor of Colonel Charles Frederick Fisher and the Volunteers of the 6th North Carolina State Troops

These men answered the call of their state and served bravely and honorably. Let not their sacrifice for North Carolina be forgotten.


Colonel Charles F. Fisher

Colonel Charles F. Fisher

President of the North Carolina Railroad and founder of the Sixth North

Killed leading his men of the 6th North Carolina State Troops in a charge
on Griffin’s Battery at First Manassas

Killed in Action July 21, 1861



“Fisher”Flag- Regimental Flag of the 6th North Carolina State Troops flown at Manassas

Click here to enlarge

Regimental Flag Carried at 1st Manassas. Presented to 6th by Colonel Fishers

Flag Photo courtesy: North Carolina Museum of History Accession Nbr:   H.1915.4.5

Scene on the Manassas Battlefield

“When the first battle of Manassas was over and the federal army,
routed, were retreating in great disorder, I beheld a scene I shall never
forget. It was the carrying of the body of Col. Charles F. Fisher, Sixth
North Carolina Regiment, from the battlefield. A rider on horseback bore
the body, cold and stiff in death. He held it carefully and tenderly in
front of his saddle and carried him away from the field of carnage, where
he had fallen while leading his regiment to victory. He was doubtless carried
to his beloved state for interment.” 

T.P. Weakley, 2nd Tennessee

In the Confederate Veteran, October 1897

A patriot had made the supreme sacrifice.

The following is a list of casualties as reported in the newspapers after the battle and cross checked against records in the roster. Many of these boys never made it home to North Carolina and should be remembered for their sacrifice. (Click on Image for a larger view)

manasas casualtiesmanasas casualties2

manasas casualties3


A recollection of the 6th North Carolina State Troops at the First battle of Manassas

Copyright (C) 2016 Frederick Walton

A Brief Sketch of Co. G, 6th NC State Troops by L H Rothrock155 years ago today, members of the 6th North Carolina State Troops were at Piedmont Station, Va. waiting to board a train to be taken to Manassas junction to reenforce General Beauregard, where a battle was shortly anticipated. In fact as I write this, I can see the sun setting, this is about the exact same time the 6th NCST was starting to board the cars.

I present the following recollection from a member of the 6th NCST, in their Honor.
Corporal, later Lieutenant Lewis H. Rothrock of Co, “G” wrote this account “at the rather urgent request of Col. A. H. Boyden”. Why it was requested or written is unclear. It may be related to a Confederate reunion in Durham that occurred around the same time this was written. Rothrock, Born in 1839 was 82 when he penned this account.

The son of a well known Lutheran Minister, he was described as modest, successful, conscientious, able and a wonderful influence on the hundreds of school children he has taught.(Salisbury Evening Post, 26 April 1922) and “still vigorous in mind and body.” at age 83 (Charlotte Observer, 20 April 1922).  In fact he was still teaching when these articles were written and was well known as Professor Rothrock. He was very active teaching Sunday school as well as being an elected official and an officer in the United Confederate Veterans (UCV).

I found this handwritten sketch in the Military Collection of the North Carolina state Archives where I made a copy back in 2007, but only recently took the time to transcribe it. I would like to share it with my readers on this anniversary of the events he described.

A brief sketch of Co. “G”

6th N. C. State Troops
By L. H. Rothrock
sent by Col. A. H. Boyden Sept 30, 1921
(Transcribed by Frederick Walton, 2016)

L. H. Rothrock

from Salisbury Evening Post, 9 May 1922, Tue, Page 4


Col. Charles F. Fisher’s 6th N. C.Regiment left Winchester Va.1 about 2 o’clock PM on Friday, 19 July 1861 for Manassas Junction, and arrived at Piedmont Station, Manassas gap R. R. in the early part of the day Saturday, after marching all night. Other troops being in advance of us, did not get aboard the cars until sundown. Had not gone very far, when our train was stopped on account of track obstructions. Col. Fisher now became engineer and general manager and after a detention of two or three hours we were on our way, reaching Manassas Junction a little after sunrise Sunday morning2. There a little delay occurred, when Col. Fisher hurried off with his regiment to the battle-field, some six or seven miles distant. It must have been 12 o’clock before we gained the field of conflict. Col. Fisher halted his men near a ravine to give them a little rest and deposit their knapsacks, blankets, etc., that they might go into the fight fresh, and in light order. Col. Fisher was sitting on his horse and in fiery words to his soldiers “To ‘quit themselves like men”3. A section of Rickett’s battery4 was playing rapidly above our position. I here recall this statement from our beloved Col., ”Men, I intend to take that battery or die in the attempt”.

Colonel Charles F. Fisher

Colonel Charles F. Fisher

Presently the order came to move. Col. Fisher quickly got his men into line, the regiment in fine order crossed the ravine four deep5. The head of the regiment was nearing a dense thicket of pines when the command “File right”6 was given and when the word “front”7 rang out, Co.”G” had a position a little to the left of Ricketts’ battery8. The firing was now very brisk . The 6th Regiment shot down the horses of the battery and the gunners either fell or fled9. At this juncture Col. Fisher from the clump of Pine’s (the left of Co. “G” resting on the thick undergrowth, two other companies on our immediate left not getting into action) called me saying Corp. Rothrock “walk up to the brow of the hill and fire then fall back and load.” I did not know Col. Fisher was near until he called me. I recognized him instantly. He was on his knees, hat off, hands above his head cheering his men.


Launch point

Position of Griffin’s Battery on Manassas battlefield Photo Copyright (C) 2006 Frederick Walton Photography

At this crisis Co. “G” lost seven of her best men killed out right10, and seven wounded11. And now there was a lull in the battle and Henry W. Miller, having been wounded and in a standing posture on the top of the hill, called to me, being some 15 or 20 feet behind him; Rothrock,”There goes a gunner, kill him.” I could see his head and shoulders, so I leveled my piece on him and fired and Miller said he fell.”Deponent sayeth not”12. This part of the field was now clear. Col. Fisher had gained a complete victory over this particular stretch of the strife. Now we were ordered to reform and move to the left to support one of our batteries. Where was Col. Fisher? How delighted to have seen him at this moment13! Did not know positively that he was lost to us forever in this world, until the following Monday morning.

Now a more sublime scene rarely presents itself. Gen. McDowell’s army was most beautifully aligned on a slightly elevated plane. Our gunners got the exact range. The first shell fell in the midst of this well formed square. The enemy began forthwith to waver, and the third or fourth shot produced an utter route. Pardon me. Although Col Fisher came in, probably between one or two o’clock, I shall always believe that his regiment did as much or more than any other one regiment in winning the victory over Gen. McDowell’s army. In five minutes’ time not a soldier of our opposing forces was to be seen. Capt. James A. Craig14 and I crossed the valley and viewed the plain where the Union Army had been posted. We passed by an old fence and from one corner, out sprang a fine black Newfoundland dog. He seemed overjoyed to see us, but assumed a cringing attitude. He too was whipped. We made an examination of his lair, and discovered two bottles of fine champagne. The Capt. and I at once made violent charge upon the wine and won a most signal victory; for we were both hungry and thirsty. Where we encamped Monday night, I know not, unless somewhere near the head waters of Bull Run. We had received no food since we left Piedmont station on the previous Saturday, until Monday evening- a space of forty-eight hours.

Tuesday morning we marched back to Manassas Junction and later took up camp near Bristoe Station, four miles below. The two guns “Long Tom” and “Aunt Sal” remain with us as gentle reminders of the glorious achievements of the first battle of Bull Run15. Col Fisher deserves a monument fifty feet high, and present and future historians should not attempt to rob him of the glory and honor which justly belong to his pure unsullied and exalted patriotism. In the name of God’s truth let justice be done.”Honor to whom honor is due”

Gold Hill N. C.

September 21, 1921

L. H. Rothrock


1 The 6th North Carolina State Troops was part of General Joseph E. Johnston’s army of the Shenandoah and had traveled from North Carolina, via Richmond, to Winchester., arriving July 14, 1861 after a long forced march, to reenforce Johnston against an anticipated attack by Federal General Robert Patterson. They were assigned to the Third Brigade, commanded by General Barnard E. Bee, serving along side the 4th Alabama, 2nd and 11th Mississippi and the Staunton Artillery.

2 Charles Frederick Fisher was the president of the North Carolina Railroad before resigning to form the 6th North Carolina State Troops, Many of the officers and men were former Railroad employees and had a lot of experience that could be used to repair damaged railroad tracks, engines, etc

3 Acquit- To bear or conduct one’s self; to perform one’s part. i.e.The soldier acquitted himself well in battle.

4 Captain James B. Ricketts commanded the 1st US artillery, more commonly called Ricketts battery. They were deployed along the crest of Henry House Hill across from where the Confederate lines were being formed on the opposite crest. Their Cannons firing into the Confederate lines caused panic as unfortunate men were arbitrarily cut down. Leaves and branches rained down on the untested troops as cannon balls soared overhead.

5 Column of fours- A civil war regiment, standing in two ranks and facing front would count off, from right to left, each soldier, in turn, would be numbered 1 or 2. At the order “right face”, each soldier numbered 1 would turn to the right. Every second soldier, numbered “2” would step to the right of the soldier previously to his right, thereby forming column of four, which would be an efficient, compact way to march along narrow paths.

6 Technically the command is “By file Right (or Left) , March”. At the command March, the first file of the column (i. e. the first four men) will wheel (turn) in the direction specified followed by the rest of the column, each wheeling at the same spot until the entire column has turned 90 degrees. In other words, the column has made a right hand turn.

7 Technically the command is “Company halt, Front” at which time the column will stop marching (halt) and undouble, returning to a two rank battle front, which can be deployed against an enemy.

8 Two guns of Griffin’s battery to move down the Sudley road (about 1:30 PM), into a position in front of the wood line on the far left of the Confederate line in an effort to enfilade the Confederates if they attempted to move forward. At the same time that these guns were being moved, Colonel Fisher had been ordered to move to the left end of the Confederate line and ended up fronting his regiment opposite these newly arrived guns. It is Actually Griffin’s Battery, not Ricketts, that Co, G overlaps on the left.

9 Griffin’s battery moved forward without any infantry support, and was unprepared to defend itself against an infantry attack like this. Shooting the horses would have prevented the battery from withdrawing, allowing the guns to be captured. It is a long running debate about who actually silenced this battery, the 33rd Va. also making the claim.

10 The Richmond Daily Dispatch of August 1, 1861 reported the following seven members of Co. “G” killed: Privates G. Noah, A. B. Corriher, J. R. Corriher, J. S. Smith, Jason D. Setzer, Jno. Hess and Jacob Safrit

11 The Richmond Daily Dispatch of August 1, 1861 reported the following Six members of Co. “G” wounded: privates John Howard and N. Lindsay Dancy, severely wounded; privates W. Rufus Owen, Henry W. A. Miller, Jacob W. Miller, and Bartlett Allen, slightly wounded. Checking the roster, I was unable to find a seventh wounded member of company G.

12 This may refer to a common legal term included at the end of a deposition or Affidavit meaning that the person has nothing further to say… which would certainly be true if the person, in this case, had been fatally shot.

13 I believe he means to say, how delighted we would have been to have seen him at this moment. I suspect he was already dead, having fallen among the guns of Griffin’s Battery when they charged the guns. the following was reported in the Carolina Watchmen,July 25, 1861 “He was killed on the battlefield of Manassas Junction, Sunday 21st July, instant whilst bravely leading his regiment into an engagement. He was struck by a Minnie ball (As was supposed) above the left eye. It cut the rim, and passed through the hat at the band, and came out the back of the head. His death was believed to be instantaneous. No one noticed his fall at the moment, not did anyone know of his death until late in the after part of the day, his presence was missed from his regiment. Search was then made over the field upon which the engagement was had, and his lifeless body was found.”

14 Commander of Company G

15 “Long Tom” was a Federal 30-pounder Parrott Rifle, abandoned at Cub Run after the battle of Manassas and captured by the Confederates to add to their arsenal. I assume “Aunt Sal” had a similar history, but have been unable to find a captured gun by that name.

Visiting Camp Fisher

Friday, June 22, 2011- Manassas, Va.- We were getting close to Manassas. We had just exited interstate 95 at Dumfries, when it occurred to me that we were near the place the 6th North Carolina State troops camped during the winter of 1861-1862.

“Have either of you ever visited Camp Fisher, near Dumfries?”, I asked my mess mates William and Matt.

They hadn’t, so I suggested a detour since we were nearby. They agreed. Now all I had to do was recall exactly where it was. I hadn’t visited here myself for 4 or 5 years and I hoped I could recall the exact neighborhood the marker was in. I vaguely recalled a historic marker on the roadside right before the entrance which would give us a clue.

“Is that it?” someone yelled.

Roadside Marker

Roadside Marker

“Yes” I cried  at the last minute and we turned in. I was hoping I remembered this right! We cruised along the divided roadway through a densely populated suburban neighborhood. I started getting a little nervous. It seemed like we had driven a long way.

“I remember it being on the right hand side, halfway down a hill” I said as we rounded a bend and started down an incline. And there it was, just as I remembered.

Camp Fisher Marker

Camp Fisher Marker

The marker had been placed during a ceremony in 2005 by a fellow named Robert Alton who lived in the Montclair subdivision where Camp Fisher once stood. He had contacted me back then looking for information on the 6th NCST which I provided. As a civil war buff, he drove a project to mark this important landmark which had all but disappeared beneath his neighborhood.

The marker reads:

 “Camp Fisher” Civil War Campsite
The 6th North Carolina Infantry Reg’t (C.S.A.) camped along the hills 100 yard south of here from Sept. 1861 to Mar. 1862 and named the site in honor of their fallen commander Col. Charles F. Fisher. The camp contained more than 100 winter huts housing nearly 750 soldiers and was often referred to as a “City in the Wilderness” by other soldiers camped along Powell’s Creek—forming Gen. Johnston’s Dept. of Northern Virginia (Ref. 1861-62 Blockade of the Potomac River).

  After the 1st battle of Manassas, the 6th North Carolina marched to Camp Jones at Bristoe Station, 8 miles away. There, In August 1861, They spent their time drilling, while waiting for a new commander to lead them. W. H. C. Whiting, the new brigade commander declared their camp “The best camp in the Brigade”, but was unable to stop the sickness that was spreading through the men. By mid September Whiting decided to move the third brigade, consisting of the 4th Alabama, the 1st Tennessee, the 2nd Mississippi, and the 6th North Carolina, along with Imboden’s battery to the vicinity of Dumfries on the Potomac near where defensive batteries where being constructed to control traffic on the river. The camp was named in honor of their fallen commander, Colonel Charles Frederick Fisher.  Their mission was to patrol the river banks and support the batteries .

Woods in Montclair near Camp Fisher

Woods in Montclair near Camp Fisher

In his book “Relic Hunter”, Howard R. Crouch describes his luck in rediscovering the camp in the 1970’s. It was well known by locals, but hidden deep in the woods and rarely seen by anyone but game hunters passing through. He recalled rows of chimneys marking the long gone company streets. His metal detector unearthed a number of 6th NCST Belt buckles, NC buttons and other dropped and discarded objects associated with the military settlement. I wish I could have been with him.

Today the camp has disappeared beneath a suburban development. What was once an officer’s cabin may be the site of some child’s playhouse or swing set. Were boy soldiers once stood in drill formation may now be someone’s vegetable garden sprouting orderly rows of tomatoes with military precision.

Colonel Charles F. Fisher, Comander of the 6th North Carolina State Troops

Colonel Charles F. Fisher, Comander of the 6th North Carolina State Troops

The landscape that was so well known to the soldiers in 1861 would be unrecognizable now.

We pulled into a maintenance shed next to the monument. Leaving the air conditioned truck, we stepped into the steamy afternoon heat and pulled on our wool uniform coats to have a picture made with the marker. I told Matt and William what I knew about the Camp, but they had already heard of it. Although there was not much to see, we speculated what the camp must have looked like. I felt a little excited to be in a place where the 6th NCST once walked. I was glad I got to share it with Matt, Beth  and William. I was glad Robert Alton shared it with me.

William, Rick and Matt at Camp Fisher 22 July 2011

William, Rick and Matt at Camp Fisher 22 July 2011

We stood behind the monument, out of time and place in our 6th North Carolina uniforms. nearby, cars whizzed by, hurrying home to start the weekend in suburbia. I don’t think any of them gave us a second glance. I wonder how many of them know they live on hallowed ground.


Camp Fisher Marker:

Camp Fisher Marker:

Roadside Marker:

Discovering Camp Fisher:

Copyright (C) Rick Walton 2011