Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sorebacks


So I wonder, who was "OLD JOHNNY REB" from Loafer's Glory (Mitchell County, NC)? Probably served in either the 6th or 16th Regiments.

Genesis of "Soreback"

Originated at Chancellorsville When Tar Heels Ran Over Virginiains.

To the Editor of The Observer:

   In your issue of the 18th you state that you cannot give the origin of the term "soreback" as applied to Virginities. The epithet originated at the battle of Chancellorsville May 1863. After General Jackson was wounded, Gen. J. E. B. Stewart assumed command of Jackson's corps and the next morning ordered an advance on the enemy's position. I think this was May 3d.

   The front line of Confederate troops were Virginians, commanded by General A., and the second line commanded by Gen. R., were Tar Heels. After advancing a short distance the enemy opened a terrific fire on the advancing Confederates which caused the Virginians to lie down and hug the ground and refuse to assault the enemy's position. General Stewart then ordered General R. to advance-"run over the Virginians and stamp them into the earth."

   The Tar heels obeyed the order to the letter and carried the enemy's line, and from every Tar Heel in that line who was so fortunate as to have a pair of shoes on some Virginian received a sore back. Fortunately, many of the Tar Heel boys were bare-footed and could not do as effective work as it they had been well shod, but they did the best they could.

   Such was the origin of the term "soreback" for Virginians.  

                                OLD JOHNNY REB

                Loafer's Glory, N. C., April 23

~Charlotte Observer 24 April 1912.

6 comments:

Kevin Ellis said...

Michael,

I don't have the order of battle in front of me, but I;m pretty sure this occurred in the woods near Fairview, south of the Orange Plank road.
4th NC?
Virginians still don't care to be reminded.

Jeff Felton said...

From the Ramseur Papers @ the NC Archives. A nice back and forth between Col. Funk, who temporarily commanded the Stonewall Brigade after the death of Paxton, and Stephen D. Ramseur.


Hd. Qrs. Paxtons Brigade
9th of May, 1863.
Genl Stephen Ramseur.
Dear Sir,
The report has reached me that you had remarked that Paxton’s Brigade, had disgraced itself upon the field on the morning of the 3rd, refused to go forward when ordered and permitted other troops to run over them. I had hoped the brigade had sustained its reputation on that occasion. Genl Rhodes I understand was under the same impression, but when informed of the facts has admitted he was mistaken in? the brigade. I also hope you are mistaken. I will briefly state the facts.
At the commencement of the engagement we were in the 2n line on the left and our right resting on the plank road. After sunrise we were ordered across the road and placed upon the extreme right; advancing over some earthen works behind which lay a brigade- we continued our advance over one?other line of battle where we were warmly engaged some twenty minutes our right being enfiladed and forced to fall back some hundred yards when Gen Paxton fell- here we reformed. When Genl Stewart ordered me to take command, and put the brigade in motion, to relieve , as I understand your brigade who were out of ammunition. I immediately advanced to the relief of the line in front; who were gallantly holding their ground with thinned ranks and empty boxes- we continued the charge up the hill driving the enemy from his fortifications in rear of the log house some half a mile west of Chancellorsville.
I do not remember of any troops passing over us or they refusing a move forward when requested? Or commanded. Our condition speaks for us being more then one third of what we took in the engagement.
I hope from the above statement of facts- you will find you are mistaken in the brigade. Please favour me with an immediate answer.
In haste, I am, sir very respectfully,
Your obt servt
J.H.S. Funk Col
Cmg Paxton’s Brig




Jeff Felton said...

Response from Ramseur


Hd. Qrs Ramseur’s Brigade
May 22nd 1863

Col. J.H.S. Funk
Sir
Your letter of the 9th May was rec’d last night. I hasten to reply.
Of? Inst let me express the great satisfaction your statement of facts affords me. I was slow in believing that the veterans once commanded by our beloved and departed Hero, thee Immortal Jackson, could or would ever falter in the discharge of their duty.
I will briefly state the occurrences of Sunday, May 3rd, in order that you may understand WHY I reported to Maj Gen RE Rodes that I had passed over Jones’ Brig and a PART of Gen Paxton’s. Having been in the advance Friday and Sat’y Our Division was placed in the 3rd line on Sunday. Soon I was ordered to advance to the support of our 2nd line. Arriving at the Enemy’s first line of breast works at a dangerous crisis, I found within this line, a large body of troops, 3, 4, and sometimes, 6 deep. I immediately halted my Brig and told these troops the order was to advance, directed them to move forward, that I would support them. Not a man moved. I then enquired what troops were these. Several men answered “I belong to the Stonewall Brig” I asked for Genl Paxton, whom I knew as a brave man and true. They could not tell me where he was, but stated he had moved to the right. I then moved on to the right, asked again, about 75 or 100 yds from the men I had just questioned as above, what troops they were lying in my front. I was answered “we belong to the Stonewall Brig.” I hastened on to the right, about fifty yds farther to the right where I found an Officer in Major’s uniform. In answer to my questions he told me that he belonged to Jones’ Brig, that Genl Jones was not there and that Col. Garnett comd g the Brig had been killed, the troops on his right were those of Genl Jones’ Brig. These troops I urged to go forward: they did not move. The crisis was on us. A general advance of the whole line I knew had been ordered. Therefore I ordered my Brig forward over those of Genl Jones and over those who told me that they were of the Stonewall Brig. My officers and men have been under the impression that they ran over Paxton’s and Jones’ Brigades. I am happy to correct an impression which does injustice to the Brigade called after the immortal “Stonewall”. Which I will do most cheerfully by having your letter published to my troops at Dress Parade.
The number of men who said they belonged to the Stonewall Brig, I do not know. I take it they were either lost from their regts , were skulkers, or were other than they represented themselves to be.
I have next to add that I have always deprecated all miserable jealousies between troops from Sister States contending for a common and glorious cause. And this matter has been spoken of by me with caution and regret. In order to explain my terrible loss (more than ½ of the force carried into action) I conceived it to be my duty to report to Maj Genl Rodes, that though they were sent for, after my Brig advanced to come to my assistance and twice by myself ordered forward. The troops I had passed over reformed to drive the enemy from a gap on my right flank, from which position he was pouring a destructive enfilading fire into my line, and by which I lost most of my men.
I am Col very Respectfully,
S.D. Ramseur
Brig. Genl

P.S.
I would have read your letter earlier had I not been absent on account of my wounds. I returned on the 20th inst.
S.D. R.

Jeff Felton said...

Here is the letter from Col. J.H.S. Funk that Ramseur responded to. Both are found in the Ramseur Papers at the NC Archives.


Hd. Qrs. Paxtons Brigade
9th of May, 1863.
Genl Stephen Ramseur.
Dear Sir,
The report has reached me that you had remarked that Paxton’s Brigade, had disgraced itself upon the field on the morning of the 3rd, refused to go forward when ordered and permitted other troops to run over them. I had hoped the brigade had sustained its reputation on that occasion. Genl Rhodes I understand was under the same impression, but when informed of the facts has admitted he was mistaken in? the brigade. I also hope you are mistaken. I will briefly state the facts.
At the commencement of the engagement we were in the 2n line on the left and our right resting on the plank road. After sunrise we were ordered across the road and placed upon the extreme right; advancing over some earthen works behind which lay a brigade- we continued our advance over one?other line of battle where we were warmly engaged some twenty minutes our right being enfiladed and forced to fall back some hundred yards when Gen Paxton fell- here we reformed. When Genl Stewart ordered me to take command, and put the brigade in motion, to relieve , as I understand your brigade who were out of ammunition. I immediately advanced to the relief of the line in front; who were gallantly holding their ground with thinned ranks and empty boxes- we continued the charge up the hill driving the enemy from his fortifications in rear of the log house some half a mile west of Chancellorsville.
I do not remember of any troops passing over us or they refusing a move forward when requested? Or commanded. Our condition speaks for us being more then one third of what we took in the engagement.
I hope from the above statement of facts- you will find you are mistaken in the brigade. Please favour me with an immediate answer.
In haste, I am, sir very respectfully,
Your obt servt
J.H.S. Funk Col
Cmg Paxton’s Brig

Jeff Felton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Felton said...

This from William Calder, a Lieutenant of sharpshooters in the 2nd North Carolina State Troops pertaining to the assault on Fairview by Ramseur's brigade, and in particular, pertaining to the "soreback" issue in the OP. From the Southern Hist. Coll. at UNC-CH, Calder Family Papers.

"The Stonewall brigade then became engaged. They were ordered to charge, but refused to go. Gen Ramseur sprang forward, and commanded “Attention!” In an instant every man was on his feet. “Forward boys”, he said, “walk right over them”. And over them they did go. The brave, chivalrous Virginians lay flat on the ground; and the “tar-heels”, whom they so often ridicule, walked over them to glory and to victory!"