The Fifth Alabama Infantry Regiment
The Fifth Alabama regiment was organized at Montgomery, May 5, 1861. Its first duty was at Pensacola, Fla. In August it was ordered to report to the commanding officer of the army of Northern Virginia.
Its first colonel was the renowned Robert E. Rodes, who was promoted to brigadier-general, October 21, 1861, and to the rank of major-general, May 2, 1863. He was distinguished in all the battles of Northern Virginia and was wounded and disabled at Seven Pines, but recovered sufficiently to resume command of the brigade at the battles of Boonsboro and Sharpsburg. He was then placed in command of a division, which he led in its brilliant charge on Hooker's line at Chancellorsville, and it was for his gallantry in this battle that he received the commission of major-general.
He was greatly distinguished at Gettysburg, The Wilderness, Spottsylvania, the second battle of Cold Harbor, Castleman's Ferry, Kernstown and Winchester. In the latter battle, while triumphantly leading his division, he received a mortal wound, lamented by his commanders and the entire army of Northern Virginia, toward whose great victories he had largely contributed. Generals Lee and Stonewall Jackson spoke of him in terms of highest commendation, and at Gettysburg his gallantry and skillful conduct elicited from General Lee his admiration and special thanks.
The next commander of this regiment was Christopher C. Pegues, who, like General Rodes, also reached great distinction, and after winning the encomiums of his commander for his gallantry in many battles, was killed while leading his regiment in the bloody charge at Cold Harbor.
Allen T. Jones, Lafayette Hobson and Josephus M. Hall afterward succeeded in command of this regiment.
John T. Morgan, afterward a brigadier-general, was at one time its lieutenant-colonel, and Eugene Blackford its major. Its first severe engagement was at Seven Pines, May 31 and June 1, 1862, where it lost 27 killed and 128 wounded. It also earned a well-merited meed of honor at Gaines' Mill and Cold Harbor, June 27th and 28th; Malvern Hill, July 1st to 5th; Second Manassas, August 30th; Boonsboro, September 15th; Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862; Chancellorsville, May 1 and 4, 1863; Gettysburg, July 1 to 3, 1863; the Wilderness, May 5, 6 and 7, 1864; Spottsylvania, May 8 to 18, 1864; Second Cold Harbor, June 1 to 12, 1864; advance upon Washington, July, 1864; battle of Winchester, July 24, 1864, and the terrible conflict in the trenches around Petersburg, September, 1864, to April, 1865.
Among the other officers who were killed in battle were Capt. G. W. Johnson at Cold Harbor, Capt. William T. Renfro at Chancellorsville, Capt. N. R. E. Ferguson at the Wilderness, Capt. George Reed near Winchester, Capt. J. N. Gilchrist at Second Cold Harbor, Lieut. L. D. Wiley at Seven Pines, Lieutenant Ramsey at Gaines' Mill, and Lieut. Albert J. Wilcox at Gettysburg.
Extracts From Official War Records
Vol. II--(309, 423, 433) Mention by Col. O. B. Wilcox (Union), by Col. D. S. Miles, U. S. A., Centreville, va., by Colonel Marsh (Union) as near Fairfax Court House. (440-446) Mentioned in report of Gen. G. T. Beauregard, Manassas: "With its excellent officer, Colonel Rodes, it made a resolute protracted defense against heavy odds. On the morning of the 17th, when the enemy appeared before that position, they were checked and held at bay with some confessed loss in a skirmish in advance of the works in which Major Morgan and Captain Shelley, Fifth Alabama regiment volunteers, acted with intelligent gallantry, and the post was only abandoned under general, but specific, imperative orders, in conformity with a long-conceived,established plan of action and battle." (447) Beauregard's special orders regarding position of regiment, July 8, 1861. (459-461) Colonel Rodes' report of the affair of Fairfax Court House, Va., says: "Captain Shelley's company having been sent out skirmishing, on the morning of the 17th, they were returning to camp for provisions, having been sent off in such a hurry as to prevent their making preparations for breakfast, and had gotten within three-quarters of a mile of camp before the approach of the enemy was announced to them by one of my couriers coming in with a prisoner who had been taken by a sentinel (Private Wethered of Company H). The outpost and guard fell back, fighting not very severely, but killing several of the enemy. One of the guard (Kennedy of Company H) killed 2, having taken two deliberate musket-shots from the same spot at 4 of the Federalists, all of whom fired at him. Shelley's company having advanced again to sustain the guards, had a sharp skirmish with them. The result of the skirmish may be summed up thus: On our side 2 men wounded slightly, one in leg, the other in the ear; on the side of the enemy, 1 prisoner and at least 20 killed and wounded." (537) Mentioned in General Ewell's report. (944) General Beauregard assigns regiment to Second brigade, June 20th. (1000) Same assignment, July 25, 1861.
Vol. V--(737) Mentioned as being near mouth of Bull Run, by E. J. Allen (Allen Pinkerton), January 27, 1862. (825) Ewell's brigade, Beauregard's corps, August, 1861. (1029) Rodes' brigade, Beauregard's " Potomac District," January 14, 1862.
Vol. XI, Part I--(621) Mentioned in report of Capt. Wm. Hexauer, of action at West Point landing, May 7, 1862. (971-976) Mentioned in report of Gen. R. E. Rodes of battle of Seven Pines or "Fair Oaks," several times. Calls special attention to gallantry and coolness, among others, of Col. C. C. Pegues and Maj. E. L. Hobson; also reports 29 killed and 181 wounded. (977, 978) Report of Col. C. C. Pegues, same battle, speaks very highly of conduct of Major Hobson and Lieut. R. Inge Smith, acting adjutant. He reports 229 killed and wounded. (1076) Lieut. L. D. Wiley among killed.
Vol. XI, Part 2--(484) Rodes' brigade, Hill's division, Jackson's corps; Seven Days' battles around Richmond. (405) Casualties, 43 killed and 131 wounded, June 26 to July 1, 1862. (621) Mentioned in report of Col. Bradley Johnson, Maryland line. (625) Report of Gen. D. H. Hill speaks very highly of this regiment and its officers. He says: "Col. C. C. Pegues, the noble Christian commander of the Fifth Alabama, fell mortally wounded in this charge." (630-633) General Rodes' report of battle of Gaines' Mill, June 27th, says: "Lieutenant Ramsey and a private of the Fifth Alabama killed; all the regiment and regimental officers acted handsomely, but the Fifth and Twenty-sixth were especially distinguished for their courage. No troops ever acted better. Col. C. C. Pegues was wounded desperately and has since died. Upon falling he called to the next officer in command, Maj. E. L. Hobson, and told him that the Fifth had always been in the advance, and it was his last wish that he would let no other pass it. Major Hobson gallantly carried out his wishes, and led the regiment constantly ahead of all others in the division except the Twenty-sixth Alabama, which, under its brave Colonel O'Neal, kept steady with it." Reports loss of brigade as 31 killed and 114 wounded in engagements from June 27th to July 1st (of these, 21 killed and 45 wounded belonged to the Fifth Alabama). (633-635) Col. J. B. Gordon's report of same operations makes several mentions of regiment, also of gallant conduct of Major Hobson; gives casualties 26 killed, 66 wounded, and says "these figures are correct." (638) Mentioned in report of Col. B. B. Gayle. (975) Casualties at Gaines' Mill, 21 killed, 45 wounded. (976) Casualties at Malvern Hill, 26 killed, 66 wounded.
Vol. Xl, Part 3--(482,532) Rodes' brigade, Early's division, about April 30, 1862, 660 strong. (601) Mentioned in order of Col. J. B. Gordon, June 15, 1862. (650) Assignment as above, July, 1862, Col. J. M. Hall in command.
Vol. XIX, Part I--(808) Rodes' brigade, Lee's army, Maryland campaign, regiment commanded by Major Hobson. (1018-1030) Mentioned in Gen. D. H. Hill's report of Maryland campaign. Names particularly Major Hobson and Lieut. J. M. Goff. (1035-1038) General Rodes' report, battles of Boonsboro and Sharpsburg, speaks in the highest terms of commendation. He says: "Under Major Hobson's gallant management, though flanked, wheeled against the flanking party and by desperate fighting silenced the enemy so far as to enable them to make their way to the peak before mentioned. The men generally did well, but Major Hobson of the Fifth Alabama deserves special mention for admirable conduct during the whole fight. Major Hobson and Lieut. J. M. Goff (the latter with a musket) bore distinguished parts in the fight."
Vol. XXI--(541-560) Rodes' brigade, Hill's division. Loss, 1 wounded; battle of Fredericksburg. (1073) Lieut.-Col. E. L. Hobson in command of regiment.
No. 39--(792) Rodes' brigade, Hill's division, Jackson's corps. (807) Report of medical director, battle of Chancellorsville, 24 killed and 130 wounded. (943-946) Gen. R. E. Rodes' report of same battle says: "The Fifth and Twenty-sixth Alabama, with some other regiments, carried the heights in magnificent style, planting their colors inside the works." Attention called to gallantry of Colonel Hall; Lieutenant-Colo-nel Hobson severely wounded; also mentions Gilliam James of Company D. (948) Casualties given at killed 24, wounded 133. Colonel Hall, Lieutenant-Colonel Hobson, Maj. Eugene Blackford "under fire." (949) Mentioned by General Rodes. (951-953) Colonel O'Neal, commanding Rodes' brigade, mentions Major Blackford; he also says: "Capt. W. T. Renfro, commanding right wing of the Fifth Alabama after Colonel Hobson had been wounded, brought in 225 prisoners .... Lieutenant-Colonel Hobson was wounded while gallantly rushing in front of his men. Captured in the midst of the enemy's guns and intrenchments and some time before any other troops reached that point, the loss of their flag is one of the highest evidences of the gallant and daring service rendered by the Fifth Alabama regiment in the action of that day." (953-955) Colonel Hall's (commanding brigade) report of battle commends Captain Renfro, who was severely wounded while gallantly leading the Fifth. "Justice demands that I should mention Lieut.-Col. J. S. Garvin, commanding the Twenty-sixth Alabama, and Capt. W. T. Renfro, commanding the Fifth Alabama, who were both severely, if not mortally, wounded while gallantly leading their regiments, and giving the highest evidence of that coolness and skill which should ever characterize a true soldier." (957, 958) Report of Col. J. M. Hall (Fifth Alabama), same battle, says: "Lieutenant-Colonel Hobson, whose daring courage led him always to the front, was severely wounded. Major Blackford being in command of the sharpshooters, the senior captain (W. T. Renfro) was placed in command of the regiment wing and the pursuit continued. Both officers and men acted well and vied with each other in doing their whole duty. I would, however, respectfully mention the gallant conduct of Capt. T. M. Riley, Company C; Adjt. C. J. Pegues, Sergt.-Maj. Alfred G. Ward; also Sergt. Adam Swicegood and Corp. A. M. Ballard, Company E, and Private James Arrington, Company D. All of these men acted with the most undaunted courage, coolness and skill." (958, 959) Report of Capt. T. M. Riley: "Captain Renfro, while bravely leading the advance and calling on the men to follow, fell, mortally wounded. Being senior officer, I now assumed command of the regiment." (965, 966) Mentioned in reports of Colonel Garvin and Lieut. M. J. Taylor. (1052, 1053) Roll of honor of the Fifth regiment, battle of Chancellorsville: Capt. W. T. Renfro, Company B; Private John Summers, Company B; Private F. M. Burnett, Company C; Sergt. John H. Cowan, Company D; Private L. H. Thornton, Company E; Private W. P. Stokes, Company A; Corp. H. F. Martin, Company K; Private R. L. Franklin, Company H; Private H. J. Robertson, Company I; Corp. John O'Donohoe, Company F; Private N. S. Franklin, Company G.
No. 40--(456) Mentioned by Gen. H. W. Slocum, Chancellorsville.
No. 44--(287) O'Neal's brigade, Rodes' division; Colonel Hall in command of regiment. Gettysburg, July to 4. 1863. (332, 336, 342) Returns of casualties after battle of Gettysburg give 21 killed, 109 wounded. Regimental report gives loss 209. (444) Mentioned by Gen. A. S. Pendleton. (545-561) General Rodes' report of Gettysburg campaign gives the part taken by regiment. Refers to Major Blackford in terms of high praise. (563) List of officers with their commands at battle of Gettysburg gives Colonel Hall, Major Blackford; list of officers killed or wounded, Lieut. A. J. Wilcox. (592-594) Mentioned in report of Col. E. A. O'Neal. (595-597) Report of Col. J. M. Hall says: "I would respectfully state that the general conduct of my command was all that I could desire. I would beg to mention the names of the following officers: Capt. T. M. Riley; Capts. E. B. Mosley and J. M. Gilchrist; Lieuts. Burton Goode and John A. Kirkland; E. P. Jones and J. F. Christian, Adjt. C. J. Pegues acted with conspicuous gallantry; Lieut. Albert J. Wilcox, a most gallant officer, was killed on the field." Entire loss Gettysburg, 21 killed, 121 wounded. (598) Report of Maj. Eugene Blackford says: "Though all acted so well, I would scarcely like to make a distinction, yet I must call your attention to the conduct of Sergt. Christopher Clark, commanding a company from the Fifth Alabama regiment. He handled his company with great skill and courage and would well fill a commission."
No. 45--(922, 1059) General Rodes' division, Second army corps, General Ewell, Colonel Hall in command of regiment.
No. 48--(399, 818, 838) Assignment as above, September and October, 1863. Thirty-one wounded in engagements at Payne's Farm and Mine Run, November 26th to December 3d. (889, 890) Highly commended in report of Col. J. M. Hall.
No. 49--(683, 900) Assignment as above, December 31, 1863.
No. 60--(1149) Joint resolution of thanks from Congress to Battle's brigade, February 6, 1864. [See Extracts under Third regiment.]
No. 67--(1024) and No. 88--(1217) Assignment as above. No. 89--(1194) Battle's brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Hobson in command; Rodes' (late) division; regiment commanded by Capt. Thomas M. Riley, October 31, 1864. (1246) Colonel Hall commanding regiment, November 30, 1864. (1364) Colonel Hobson commanding regiment, December 31, 1864.
No. 90--(564) Battle's brigade, Ramseur's division, Colonel Hobson leading brigade after General Battle was wounded, battle of Cedar Creek, Va., October 19, 1864. (1002, 1013) Battle's brigade, Rodes' division, army of the Valley district, Colonel Hall in command of regiment, August 31st.
No. 95--(1270) Battle's brigade, Grimes' (late Rodes') division, Second army corps; Colonel Hobson and Capt. 'P.M. Riley. Appomattox campaign.
No. 96--(670, 1172, 1181, 1270) Assignment as above. Captain Riley in command, January 31, 1865.
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