Rev. J. B. Graw, D.D.
Chaplain of the 10th Regiment of NJ (Olden’s Legion)
by Thomas Hutchison
In the early part of the Civil War, my 3rd Great Grandfather, Rev. Jacob B. Graw answered the call to serve on the side of the Union Army. In September of 1861 he went to Beverly, NJ where he enlisted and became the Chaplain of the 10th NJ Regiment, “The Olden Legion.” This regiment was itself was unique in the fact that the recruitment was being done by the US War Department and against the wishes of the Governor Olden of NJ. The regiment left for Washington, D.C. on December 26 that same year under the command of Col. Wm. Bryan.
After arriving in Washington, the regiment was of little use to the war as it was a disorganized and undisciplined mess. In January of 1862, Governor Olden was requested by the War Department to take over the 10th Regiment as part of a quota of New Jersey, organize and get it ready for service. At first the Governor declined, but eventually consented under the condition that Col. Wm. R. Murphy was to be placed in command, replacing Col. Bryan.
On February 19, 1862, Col. Murphy took command of the 10th Regiment with the authority to appoint his own officers. By the time that summer came in 1862, the 10th was given provost guard duty in Washington. This was a position that the regiment held until early 1863, when it was ordered to Suffolk, Virginia, and thereafter engaged in many hard fought battles. Rev. Graw was not a part of these battles as he resigned in February of 1863. Camp life was taking a toll on his health. After a year and one-half of military service, he left the army to return to his family.
There were a few times during the war that Rev. Graw’s life was in peril. Some of the accounts for the early 10th Regiment’s disrepute and fighting capability were attributed to the officers under Col. Bryan. These officers were reported to be a rowdy bunch that loved drinking and excessively did so to the detriment of the regiment. Rev. Graw had started a movement to curtail this from the beginning of the regiment’s formation. As told by Rev. Graw to his son, so much so, that if it were not for John G. Bowen, his orderly, he might have been murdered one night in his tent.
The other time his life was in peril is related in the following reprint in Rev. Graw’s article that originally appeared in the New Jersey Gazette, under the "Within the Rebel Lines" heading. Below is the article, complete with introduction, as it appeared in A.C. Graw’s book, Forty-Six Years in the Methodist Ministry: Life of Rev. J. B. Graw, D.D., published in 1901, pages 55 to 64.
The following article on the second battle of Bull Run was written by Dr. Graw in 1894 and published in the New Jersey Gazette, of which he was then associate editor, it being one of a series in Gen. James F. Rusling, of Trenton, Capt. W. F. Kilgore, the late Geo R. Danenhower, of Camden, E. Chandler Reed, of Beverly, Col. H. F. Chew, of Camden, Drs. G. B. Wight, J. W. Morris and James E. Lake, Rev. D. B. Harris and others, were contributors:
THE SECOND BATTLE BULL RUN
July and August, 1862 was one of the darkest periods of the war against the rebellion. The army of the Potomac commenced its movement against Richmond, via the Peninsula, under the command of General McClellan, in March, 1862. Our army was large and almost perfect in its equipments and discipline. Every possible preparation had been made to insure the capture of Richmond and the overthrow of the Confederacy. The soldiers were eager for battle, and fully-believed with their commander that the campaign would be `sharp, short and decisive." The president and the people believed that Richmond was doomed, and that the war would beaver in a few months. So confident were the authorities of a speedy termination of the war, that recruiting offices were closed in April, and a few unimportant military organizations were mustered out of service. But after the heavy fighting in May, and the "seven days' battles" in June, our army fell back to Harrison's Landing in July. Twice during the Peninsula campaign Richmond might have been captured, but the opportunities were lost, and this only intensified the mortification and discouragement of the people at large.
During the month of June General Pope was placed in charge of what was denominated the "Department of Virginia," with the particular duty of protecting Washington. Little of interest transpired in this department until August 9, when a severe but indecisive battle was fought at Cedar Mountain. Shortly after this battle McClellan was ordered to withdraw from Harrison's Landing and report on the Potomac. This placed his army in the Department of Virginia of which General Pope was commander, and as department commander he ranked all officers in his jurisdiction except the commander-in-chief. Considerable feeling was manifested against General Pope in consequence of his sensational order issued on assuming command of the department in which he said his headquarters would be in the saddle," and lines of retreat would not be considered. Nevertheless it is proper to say that he was a brave soldier and would have made a fine corps or division commander while he evidently lacked the qualifications necessary for the command of an army. Lee haying forced McClellan to Harrison's Landing now turned his attention to General Pope, in the expectation of destroying his army before it could be reinforced by the army of McClellan. It is believed that Lee had about double the army that Pope commanded, and therefore General Pope very properly fell back beyond the Rappahannock, on August 20. August 22 Stuart made a cavalry dash around the right of Pope reaching Catlett's Station, near the Union headquarters, and seized the personal baggage of Pope together with his dispatch book containing information as to the disposition of the Federal forces. It is said that Stuart was guided by a Negro. If this be true it is the only instance we can recall of a Negro giving such information to the enemy. With scarcely an exception the Negroes believed that the war was for their emancipation.
A striking incident occurred about this time which indicated the faith of many of the slaves. An old patriarch came into our camp and I asked him what side he was on, and what he thought of our whipping the south. He looked me squarely in the face, and pointing to our boys in blue said, quoting from Isaiah: "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us." He evidently believed that God intended to emancipate the slaves through the Union armies.
LEE’S BOLD MANOEUVRE[sic]
The information that General Lee obtained through the dispatch book of Gen. Pope led him to attempt the capture of Pope's entire army. To do this, however, he must divide his own army, which, under ordinary circumstances, is a hazardous thing to do. Having determined to attack Pope by front and rear, Lee dispatched Stonewall Jackson, on August 25th with 30,000 men to march up the western side of the Bull Run Mountains, which lay between him and the Union army. A forced march of twenty miles brought Jackson to Thoroughfare Gap, through which he marched August 27, and by sunset he reached Bristoe Station on the Orange Railroad, which was Pope's principal source of supply. A part of Jackson’s forces moved on to Manassas Junction, about seven miles distant, where we had large stores of provisions which were captured and destroyed. Pope made a serious mistake in not guarding Thoroughfare Gap, as a small number of men could have prevented Jackson from coming through it. Sigel was exceedingly anxious to have the Gap protected, but Pope thought it improbable that Lee would divide his army under the circumstances.
A short but sharp engagement took place at Bristoe Station, between Hooker and Ewell, which showed Jackson that his movement was not altogether a, surprise, and that lie was in danger of being attacked in front, flank and rear. To deceive Pope, Gen. Jackson moved towards Centreville, then turning sharply toward the battle-field of 1861, he took a strong position and waited for Longstreet to re-inforce him. On the evening of the 28th our army became engaged with the extreme right of Jackson, Gen Pope hoping to crush him before Longstreet could come to his relief, but Longstreet arrived at the critical period and enabled Jackson to maintain his ground.
PORTER'S DANGEROUS DELAY
Gen. Pope had ordered Gen. Fitz John Porter to the front, but for some cause he did not respond, although his corps was within easy reach of the battle-field. Just why Porter did not obey the orders he received has never been made clear to my mind, although I have read both sides of the controversy. If
Porter had come to the help of Pope as promptly as Longstreet came to the rescue of Jackson, our defeat at the second battle of Bull Run would have been turned into a glorious victory. In saying this I must not be understood as condemning Porter as a traitor, as it is not my purpose to discuss his action at that time. On the morning of the 30th both armies were inactive, and it appeared that neither of the commanders was anxious to bring on an engagement. However, towards noon Pope received information that the rebels were in full retreat, and he ordered a vigorous pursuit. The enemy, however, were not retreating, but were drawn up in the form of an irregular L in a strong position. To my mind Pope had courage and dash enough but he failed to properly locate the enemy or comprehend his plans so as to defeat him. As a matter of fact he did not know, when the battle began, that he was confronted by Longstreet as well as Jackson. Heintzelman and Reno as they advanced encountered a terrible fire from the enemy, who was almost invisible. For a time our men withstood this murderous fire, but eventually were compelled to fall back and take shelter in the woods. As Fitz John Porter failed us on the 29th at a critical moment, he came up on the 30th at a critical moment and saved the army from complete rout. I have said that the rebel armies were arranged for battle like an irregular L. At this dangerous period these lines were gradually closing in on us, and had not Porter's corps, or a part of it, seized a commanding position and checked the enemy, our army would have been routed if not captured.
We were able to retreat across Bull Run towards Centreville with some degree of order, although there was much demoralization and confusion among a considerable number of regiments. Our forces were not held in hand by the commanders; several brigades missed their way and did not participate in the battle of the 30th, and on September 1st there was much trouble in re-organizing our forces. Towards night, however, we were in fair condition to meet the enemy had he attacked us, although it must be confessed that the army was strongly inclined to move towards Washington. On September 2nd Jackson, with his usual audacity, made a reconnoisance[sic] towards Washington, and a sharp encounter took place at Chantilly, not far from Fairfax Court House. In this battle Generals Kearney and Reno were killed.
No wonder the people were discouraged. In the early spring we set out to capture Richmond, fully expecting to succeed, but now in September a large rebel army, flushed with victory, confronts Washington, and if they had known all things it is possible they might have captured it.
TWO BLOODY BATTLES
The battles of August 29 and 30 were desperate and bloody. Our loss in killed and wounded was about 11,000, while that of the enemy was not much less. To my mind the magnitude and importance of these battles have not been fully comprehended. They were great when we consider the number of men engaged, as there were nearly 40,000 men on each side, and the desperate character of the fighting is seen when we remember that about one-fourth of this number was killed or wounded.
In going over the battlefield under a flag of truce I witnessed such horrors as I had scarcely ever looked upon before or since. Thousands of the dead and wounded were lying around, while the wounded and dying were moaning and praying. Men who were horribly mangled called upon God to release them from their misery, while others were pleading for pardon and peace. I knelt down beside a bright faced young soldier who belonged to an Ohio regiment, and prayed with him. While praying, those within the sound of my voice closed their eyes reverently, while some responded with a fervent amen, to the petitions that were presented in their behalf. The young man to whom I have referred died with a smile of triumph on his face shortly after the prayer was ended. One poor fellow who was severely wounded, asked me to come and kneel close to his side so that he might get the full benefit of the prayer.
While engaged in helping the wounded from the field I encountered Chaplain Thomas Sovereign, of the Fifth New Jersey Regiment, who was looking for his son, he having been reported killed. The son was adjutant of a New York regiment. After a time, we found his body and buried it.
WITHIN THE REBEL LINES
On the 29th, as I was passing through the Woods to reach a field hospital, I was greatly astonished at being confronted by a squad of rebels. The lieutenant in command ordered me to "get out" of my boots and coat in "double quick," with which reasonable request I at once complied. I was hustled towards the rebel's rear as rapidly as possible. I soon found myself in company with a Union surgeon, who had also been stripped of boots and coat. Fortunately, however, we were not long within the rebel lines. In the darkness and confusion we slipped into the bushes, and hurried along, not knowing which way we were traveling until we heard the click of a musket and the voice of a sentinel asking, "Who comes there?" Quickly and silently we stretched ourselves upon the ground, and awaited developments. Directly, another sentinel approached, and after a moment's conversation they agreed that "it must be a ---- hog." I will only add that my temper was not ruffled in the least by being called a hog under the circumstances. After lying quiet for awhile we crawled along until we believed that we had passed the rebel line, and were fortunate enough to reach our own pickets just before the break of day.
RETREAT TO WASHINGTON AND REORGANIZATION
In falling back towards Washington the army presented a grotesque appearance. Some soldiers had thrown away their' arms and knapsacks. All were more or less demoralized. Some swore they would never fight again, while others treated the whole matter as a ridiculous farce.
In passing through Fairfax Court House I tried to get something to eat, not having had anything like a meal for several days. All that I could buy was a pint jar of pickled tomatoes, for which I paid $1.00. As this was a poor apology for dinner, I approached two soldiers who were feasting on hard-tack and coffee, offering them a dollar in cash and half of my pickles in exchange for one hard-tack and a small tin cup full of coffee. They said, "No; keep your money. Give us each a pickle and help yourself to hard tack and coffee." When I arrived at Alexandria I looked as forlorn as any tramp that I have ever seen, and was so completely worn out that I laid down on the floor of what had been a beer saloon and went to sleep at once.
But what a change took place within less than ten days! The shattered armies that straggled into the earthworks south of the Potomac were reorganized and equipped for effective service once more. While from one standpoint of observation the second Bull Run battles may be regarded as defeats, yet from another they should be recognized as battles by which Washington was saved from capture. General McClellan had been ordered to the command of the defenses of Washington, and as the army of the Potomac was now within the defenses, he was actually restored to his old command. The army received him with enthusiasm, and obeyed with alacrity his order to march in pursuit of Lee, who had moved towards the Upper Potomac by way of the Shenandoah Valley. Our march through Washington was like the return of a victorious army rather than that of an army which had been defeated so recently. President Lincoln, Secretary Stanton, and other high officials, gave abundant evidence of their delight to see us, while the whole city was moved with joy.
So ended the night of Bull Run, and with joy we turned from, battlefields that were lost through bad generalship rather than through lack of courage on the part of our soldiers, to the brighter morning ushered in by South Mountain and Antietam.