44th Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Co. C.
The Johnson Guards
June 6 at Pennypacker Mills, Schwenksville, Pennsylvania
To Commander, 44th Georgia, Company C
I beg to report on operations of the 44th Georgia at Pennypacker Mills June 4 through 6. It is with great pleasure that I inform you that this regiment now controls the mansion, lands and entire estate of Samuel W. Pennypacker, the former governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. While battle plans anticipated a two-day engagement, Pennypacker Mills was won and won fairly in a single day thanks to the valor and fighting spirit of this regiment.
In addition to officers Capt. VanBuskirk and Lt. Mallette, those answering roll call were: (NCO) First Sgt. R. Sasor, 2nd Sgt. K. Doran, 1st Cpl. (Breveted) K. Heywood, and 4th Cpl. W. Ringel. Privates answering the call included C. R. VanBuskirk, A. Lolli, B. Lanza, B. O’Brien and Yours Truly. Will Lanza performed hazardous duty nobly and nimbly as brigade runner.
Adding to our force were troops from the 9th Virginia, which brought our company strength to 16 rifles and added to an overall brigade strength of over 75 Confederates.
Roll call and camp organization proceeded smoothly on Saturday morning. We were placed in a grove of trees protected from the threat of rain under a canopy of tall oaks and maples. Despite a wariness of impending heavy weather, the unit fixed a smart but crowded company street. Reports speculated that we would not engage the enemy until mid-afternoon, and even though it afforded plenty of time to set to other activities, there was restlessness among the boys to get at the enemy.
I also must report, Sir, a curious case of two disappearing rabbits that were known to follow our unit from engagement to engagement. Apparently, they bunk with Cpl. W. Ringel for reasons that remain unclear.
The episode seemed to initiate with a very tasty and welcomed chicken stew prepared by Mrs. M. Doran for the company’s lunch. Around midday, the presence of the cottontails was made known to our company Captain, who ordered them added to the pot of stew. The Corporal, protested on the grounds of animal cruelty and some unexplained affinity for the creatures that perhaps require investigation into darker areas of the Corporal’s state of mind than those of us with healthier dispositions dare to tread. He then refused to carry out the order outright resulting in an immediate disciplinary action from the Captain. For his punishment, the Corporal was handed a whistle into which he was to blow every five minutes for one hour. When blown, the whistle gave a high-pitched twittering sound, not unlike a miniature locomotive coming into station.
The Corporal endured the punishment and later returned to his tent only to discover piles of fluffy material used to fill stuffed animals, like rabbits, littering his tent floor and cot. This caused much inquisitiveness among the boys for the fate of the bunnies. Rumors swirled that the animals were actually Yankee spies and were summarily dispatched by loyal Confederate squirrels.
Fortunately, and without warning, the rabbits reappeared unharmed to the great relief of the Corporal and in time for first call to assemble for the battle.
The unit formed at a shady staging area and awaited further orders. The sun at that point was bright and the temperature hot. After a while, we were given the order to form up in a column of twos. We then moved out to an open field where we made our battle lines and waited. The battle began with an artillery barrage, a pair of Confederate guns answered by two Federal pieces. The exchange lasted about fifteen minutes. It was then that our Captain led a line of skirmishers closer to the enemy to harass the Yankees as they came out of their side of the woods and into the field.
Our battalion was organized in three companies, the 44th designated as the third. When the other two were marched into position, Lt. Mallette gave us the command to forward march and we stepped our way through the high grass until the Lieutenant placed us at the enemy’s left flank. While the other companies sheltered themselves behind fence rails and in a modest swale, the 44th boldly kept our ground to the right and poured volley upon volley on the Yankees. The exchanges remained heated until the firing on our left slowed and the enemy began to move toward us. The Lieutenant repositioned our line backward onto slightly higher ground as the Yankees quickened their pace.
Stepping over fallen comrades, we quickly reformed. The Lieutenant wasted no time in giving us the order to resume firing. We continued to pour fire on the enemy, leaving them with few options. Their commander foolishly gave the order to charge our position and we responded with a ferocious hail of lead that met the mark. When the smoke cleared, the Yankees littered the field to our front; not a one attacking our position survived the charge. Tired and hot, we assessed our victory and marched back to camp.
The rest of the afternoon passed quietly, the troops returning to their tents or resting under the company fly. Cpl. Ringel exhibited great relief that his rabbits were back in camp as well. Sgt. Doran diligently concentrated all his efforts on keeping the campfire roaring while the rest of the unit diligently concentrated its efforts on emptying the pot of rabbitless chicken stew.
It rained overnight, but that did not dampen the unit’s resolve to take the fight again to the Blue Bellies. While the threat of heavy wind and rain Sunday thinned out the ranks of other units, I am proud to report that the number of rifles in the 44th Georgia camp remained undiminished.
After a hardy breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage and prodigious biscuits, we went to work storing gear and making our camp ready for any weather condition. To our dismay, by noon we received word there would be no battle. The boys, however, stayed in camp while other units disappeared. And while plans were cancelled over fear of a downpour, the rain never arrived.
Around 2 p.m., Cpl. Heywood led the unit in a parting prayer and we were dismissed.
The next event is 155th Battle of Manassas at Cedar Creek, VA July 22 through 24. The company website has details. Please make sure the Captain knows if you will be attending.
Submitted with my compliments,
Pvt. M. Lordi