This is a short post. While I was researching my next several topics, I came across a reference to one of the Confederate soldiers highlighted in my last post (click here). I was paging through William Owen’s book on the Washington Artillery when I came across a reference to Major James Charles Campbell of Company K, 18th Mississippi Regiment. I include this passage in order to make his biography a little clearer.
Owen is explaining the loss of Marye’s Heights on 3 May, 1863 in what is called the second Battle of Fredericksburg during the Chancellorsville Campaign. Owen misidentifies Campbell as a Lieutenant Colonel.
“The loss in the Washington Artillery, as near as can be ascertained this evening, is fifty cannoneers, officers, and drivers. The guns on Marye’s Hill are certainly captured, with their officers and men. Some of the Eighteenth Mississippi, who escaped, reported that the boys when last seen by them, were fighting heroically at their guns, apparently with no idea of deserting their posts. The charge of the enemy was so sudden that but few succeeded in getting away from the stone-wall at the foot of Marye’s Hill. Sergt.-Major Willian Blake and Lieut.-Col. Campbell, of the Eighteenth Mississippi, took advantage of the confusion to escape when the Federals leapt into the road, and, finding two horses tied behind Marye’s house, — supposed to be those of Capt. Squires and Lieut. Owen,– mounted them and rode off. They passed by the enemy, now re-forming his line, and thought themselves almost safe when they were fired upon, and Col. Campbell was shot through the body, but kept his seat upon the horse until Blake got him safely away and into an ambulance.”
This classic photograph was taken by AJ Russell on 3 May, 1863 just after Union troops of the 6th Maine Infantry Regiment under General Sedgwick captured the Sunken Road and Marye’s Heights during the second Battle of Fredericksburg. The dead Confederate soldiers are likely from the 18th Mississippi that was stationed in this sector south of the Plank Road. Two 3-inch rifled guns of the Washington Artillery were located on the top of the slope on the immediate right (click here). Russell seems to have ‘staged’ the shot. Nonetheless it is as close to a real-time war photograph given the technology of the photography equipment at the time. The photograph is included in the Mathew Brady collection at the National Archives and on file with the Western Reserve Historical Society Library, Cleveland, Ohio.
Given Owen’s description of Campbell’s escape and where I estimate the location of the Russell photo, I believe Major Campbell probably was in the neighborhood of the Innis house, a little north of where the photo was taken. From that location he could have run up the draw between Willis Hill and Marye’s Hill to where the two horses mentioned in Owen’s piece were tied up. During the December battle of Fredericksburg, the Marye mansion, ‘Brompton’, was the headquarters of the Washington Artillery. It would seem logical that Captain Squires whose 3-inch rifled guns were in action would have used the same location for his horses during the second battle.
From this short piece we can understand the nature of Major Campbell’s escape and mortal wounding. I will return to the second Battle of Fredericksburg in a future post. For the moment, we can lay James Campbell to rest.
Owen, William M., In Camp and Battle with the Washington Artillery of New Orleans, original published by Ticknor and Company (Boston, 1885) Reprinted by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 1999, page 222-3.
Also available from the Western Reserve Historical Society Library, Cleveland, Ohio. Volume 4, Group #378.