150th Anniversary Battle of First Manassas Part 10
October 4, 2011
Walnut Hill, located in Durham County, North Carolina, was the home of United States Senator William Person Mangum (1792-1861) and his son, William Preston Mangum (1837-1861). William Person Mangum served as a United States Senator from 1830-1834 as a Democrat, and from 1834-1836 as a Whig. He was one of the founders of the Whig Party, and served again as a United States Senator from 1840-1853. His son, Second Lieutenant William Preston Mangum was a member of Company B of the 6th North Carolina Infantry Regiment (Brigadier General Barnard Bee’s Brigade) and was mortally wounded at the Battle of First Manassas on July 21, 1861. This image, courtesy of the Durham County, North Carolina Library, was taken facing circa the 1870s.
The Gettysburg Daily decided on Thursday, July 21, 2011 that after finishing their tours at Gettysburg to drive to Manassas. The goal was to stand on the ground on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of First Manassas, to document the scene, and to avoid the crowds.
In today’s First Manassas 150th Anniversary post we visit the markers showing where Second Lieutenant William Preston Mangum and Colonel Francis J. Thomas were mortally wounded.
This is the National Park Service Map of Manassas National Battlefield. Most of the map shows areas concerning the Second Battle of Manassas, which was fought from August 28-30, 1862. Today, we are concerned about the First Battle of Manassas, which was fought on July 21, 1861. This final stages of the battle centered around the Henry Hill area, shown in the bottom right of the map. This map was scanned facing north at approximately 11:00 AM on Friday, July 22, 2011.
This is the National Park Service Map of the area around Henry Hill for the 150th anniversary period. Large tents, tractor trailers, Coca Cola trucks, Pepsi trucks, food stands, etc… dot the hill of the first major land battle of the American Civil War. So if you had thoughts of going to the battlefield and to be transported back in time 150 years ago, that was difficult. This map was scanned facing north at approximately 11:00 AM on Friday, July 22, 2011.
We are at the line of artillery pieces organized by Brigadier General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson during the First Battle of Manassas. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 8:30 PM on Thursday, July 21, 2011.
We will leave these pieces and walk south for a short distance. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 8:30 PM on Thursday, July 21, 2011.
As we turn to look back at the First Manassas Visitors Center, we notice some other markers by the white tent in the right background. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 8:30 PM on Thursday, July 21, 2011.
The first is to Second Lieutenant William Preston Mangum (1837-1861) who was a member of Company B of the 6th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, Bee’s Brigade. He had four sisters, and was the only son of Senator William Person Mangum (1792-1861). This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 8:30 PM on Thursday, July 21, 2011.
William Preston Mangum enlisted as a Private on May 1, 1861 in the service of the State of North Carolina. He and his unit entered the service of the Confederacy on May 16, 1861 at Orange County, North Carolina. His unit, the Flat River Guards, marched to Mangum’s home, Walnut Hall, before leaving for the front. His father, Senator William Person Mangum had suffered a stroke and was partially paralyzed. Senator Mangum had to be carried out to his front yard to talk to the unit. Sources vary if he was actually able to talk after his stoke. Other accounts have him saying the not very inspiring words, “Boys, God bless you every one, but you can’t succeed. Their resources are too great for you.” This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 8:30 PM on Thursday, July 21, 2011.
William Preston Mangum was promoted to the rank of Junior Second Lieutenant on July 1, 1861. He was wounded at Manassas on July 21, 1861 when his regiment charged upon some artillery pieces attached to Captain Charles Griffin’s Battery D, 5th United States Artillery (commanded at Gettysburg on Little Round Top by First Lieutenant Charles Hazlett and Second Lieutenant Benjamin Rittenhouse). Enfilading fire from Union infantry in the woods drove back the North Carolinians. Mangum was taken to Fairfax Court House where he died on July 29, 1861. His father, Senator Mangum, died approximately five weeks after hearing of his son’s death, on September 7, 1861. Father and son were buried in the family cemetery on the grounds of Walnut Hill. In November, 1861, a claim was filed by his mother, Charity Alston Cain Mangum to recover the $120.33 that he was owed by the Confederate Army. In the early 1980s, the body of William Preston Mangum, was disinterred by grave robbers who stole pieces of his uniform. He was re-interred in 1984. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 8:30 PM on Thursday, July 21, 2011.
Not too far away from Mangum’s marker is a marker to Colonel Francis J. Thomas (1824-1861). Thomas was born in Virginia, but was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point from the State of Maryland. He graduated sixth in the class of 1844. He served in the 3rd United States Artillery at Fort McHenry, Maryland and Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. In the Mexican War he fought at Monterey and was involved in the attack on the San Antonio Garita in Mexico City. After the Mexican War, he served on frontier duty in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and fought against the Apaches. He resigned with the rank of First Lieutenant on June 30, 1852. He became Chief Engineer of the Montevue Railroad, which ran from Piedmont, Virginia to Fairfield Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania in 1854. He was Superintendent of the Montevue Mining and Manufacturing Company in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania from 1855-1856, and of the Pinnakinnick Coal Mines in Clarksburg, Virginia from 1857-1858. He was a “General Commission Merchant” in Baltimore, Maryland from 1859 until the war began in 1861. This view was taken facing east at approximately 8:30 PM on Thursday, July 21, 2011.
When the Civil War began, Thomas recruited companies of Marylanders and attempted to organize them in Richmond, Virginia, and later in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Brigadier General Robert Selden Garnett ordered Thomas to organize the Maryland companies into regiments, and at one point Thomas was appointed Colonel of the First Maryland Regiment. However, many of the company commanders vocally objected to Thomas’ command. He was relieved on June 8, 1861, and Colonel Arnold Elzey was appointed to head the Maryland troops. Thomas was attached to General Joseph E. Johnston’s staff, and became the acting Chief of Ordnance for the Army of the Shenandoah. On July 14, 1861, Colonel Thomas had a son born, and Thomas saw the child on July 16, 1861. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 8:30 PM on Thursday, July 21, 2011.
In his official report of the Battle of First Manassas, General Johnston discussed Thomas’ death: “Colonel (William ‘Extra Billy’) Smith’s cheerful courage had a fine influence, not only upon the spirit of his own men, but upon the stragglers of the troops engaged. The largest body of these, equal about four companies, having no competent field officer, I placed under the command of one of my staff, Col. F. J. Thomas, who fell while gallantly leading it against the enemy.” Lieutenant Alexander Swift “Sandie” Pendleton (1840-1864), a staff officer for Stonewall Jackson, helped Thomas from his horse and attempted to make Thomas comfortable. Pendleton was struck by a ball in the thigh. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 8:30 PM on Thursday, July 21, 2011.
We feel the best book on the Battle of First Manassas is John Hennessy’s book, First Battle of Manassas: An End to Innocence. It is part of the Virginia Civil War Battles and Leaders Series by H.E. Howard. This image was scanned facing north at approximately 7:40 PM on Sunday, August 7, 2011.
We feel the best picture book on the Battle of First Manassas is Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Gary Adelman’s book, Manassas Battlefields Then and Now. You can order it from the CCWP by clicking here. This image was scanned facing north at approximately 3:40 PM on Sunday, September 18, 2011.