Civil War Account of James T. Ferriter

Posted by Margaret on 1/28/2012 in Family Legends

The following is an excerpt from the story of James T. Ferriter as written some years ago by Leo Massei of Richmond, Virginia. This is an account of James Thomas Ferriter’s service in the War Between The States.

In 1862 James T. Ferriter was working with his brother Thomas a “cooper” [barrel maker] in Richmond Virginia. James age 19 along with his cousins John Sullivan [Mary Ann Sullivan Ferriter’s brother] and *John Lynch [Johanna Lynch Sullivan was Mary Ann Ferriter’s mother’s maiden name] enlisted on Feb 17, 1862 in the Army of the Confederacy as privates with a newly organized “Company Virginia Light Artillery” being formed by Greenlee Davidson. James was 5’ 6’’ tall with fair complexion, blue eyes, and dark hair at that time. James may have enlisted as a substitute for a William Biathright and could have been paid up to $1,000.

Greenlee Davidson was an Aide-de-Camp to Virginia’s Governor John Letcher. Capt. Davidson formed the artillery company from men of “the lower walks of life “and at times men from “Castle Thunder” a prison in Richmond for Confederate deserters and Yankee spies. Men from just about all professions signed up. James however was the only “cooper” to enlist. Privates were paid $11.00 per month.

The company went into training at the fairgrounds located two miles from Richmond better known then as “Camp Lee”. [This area is now the Boulevard between Broad St. and Grove Ave. in Richmond]. While there at ‘Camp Lee” in March of 1862, John Sullivan deserted and made his way to Nebraska. James Ferriter and John Lynch remained in the Army.

From Aug. 31, to Dec. 31 1862.James is listed on the “Company Muster Roll’ as absent without leave however from Jan. to June of 1862 he is listed as present. *John Lynch was one of nineteen wounded from the “Letchers Artillery” at the battle of “ Malvern Hill “ on July 1,1862. He was also one of the thirteen men Wounded from “Letchers” during the battle of Fredericksburg on Dec.13, 1863. John Lynch died Jan. 2, 1863 in a army field hospital near Guinea Station Va. Cause of death is not stated, however this was only twenty days after he was wounded and Guinea Station is close to Fredricksburg VA. Records show his personal effects when he died was only one dollar. Guinea Station Va. is also where General “Stonewall” Jackson died May 10, 1863.

It was while in training at “Camp Lee” that the battery received it official name “ The Letchers Artillery “ in honor of Governor Letcher. In March of 1862 the “Letchers Artillery” along with the “Federicksburg”, “Pee Dee”, “Purcell”, and “Crenshaw’s Artilleries” became ”Walker’s Battalion” with Colonel Reuben Lindsay Walker commanding. Major William Johnson Pregram assumed command of the battalion after Colonel Walker replaced Colonel Stapleton Crutchfield as Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson’s Chief of Artillery. The battalion then became the “Pregram’s Battalion of Artillery Corps, Army of Northern Virginia”.

James was engaged in many battles while serving with the Letchers Artillery including such famous battles as Gaines Mill, Malvern Hill, Second Manassas, Harpers Ferry, Sharpsburg [Antietam], Federicksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. It was during the battle of Chancellorsville May 3, 1863 that Captain Greenlee Davidson was struck down by a Union mini ball and died on the field soon after. That same day Junior 1st Lieutenant Thomas Alexander Brander was promoted to Captain and assumed command of the “ Letchers Battery of Artillery”. Captain Brander would be promoted again in Jan. 1865 to “Major of Artillery” and attached to Poague’s Battery with which he surrendered at Appomattox Court House April 8, 1865. James was a member of “Brander’s Battery” The battle of Gettysburg July 1, 1863 would be James T. Ferriter’s last battle in the war. This is the sequence of events that led up to that fateful day in Gettysburg Pennsylvania for James.

June 16, 1863 Branders battery along with the Pregram’s battalion left camp at Hamilition’s Crossing in Virginia and headed west towards the Shenandoah Valley. Five days later they crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains at Chester Gap. On June 24th the battalion encamped near Shepherdstown Maryland and on the 25th Pregram’s battalion crossed the Potomac River at Boteler Ford. They crossed the Mason-Dixon Line and entered Pennsylvania on June 26.1863. The battalion reached Fayetteville Pennsylvania on June 27th where they went into camp for three days. June 30th the battalion limbered up their cannons and moved to Cashtown, Pennsylvania six miles north of the little village of Gettysburg and it’s 2,400 inhabitants.

July 1,1863 the five batteries of “Pregram’s Battalion of Artillery” were in the van of the column on the Chambersburg Pike in support of Brigadier-General James Jay Archer and Brigadier-General Joseph Robert Davis of Major-General Henry Heth’s Division. General Archer’s Brigade was made up of the 5th and 13th Alabama and the 1st, 7th, and 14th Tennessee infantry Regiments. General Davis’s Brigade was made up of the 55th North Carolina and the 2nd, 11th, and 42nd Mississippi infantry Regiments. About three miles west of Gettysburg at 7:30 A.M. skirmishers of the 5th and 13th Alabama approached a stone bridge over Marsh Creek and were met with fire from Union General John Buford’s cavalry. At 8:00 A.M. Heth’s skirmish line advanced followed by Archer and Davis’s brigades driving the Union cavalry back to McPherson’s Ridge. At 8:50 A.M. The main column reached Herr Ridge.

General Archer’s and General Davis’s two Brigades were then deployed in lines of battle. Pegram’s seventeen guns took station on convenient rises on Herr Ridge and began to shell the Union forces making a stand on McPherson’s Ridge. After a thirty-nine minute preparatory bombardment at 9:30 A.M. the Confederate infantry was ordered to advance. Gen. Archer’s men formed their battle lines and descended Herr Ridge toward Willoughby Run on the right side of the Chambersburg Pike and Gen. David’s brigade descended the ridge on the left.

The Letchers Artillery which consisted of 65 men, two 10 pounder Parrott rifled cannon and two 12 pounder Napoleon cannons was sent to a hill immediately in the rear of Gen. Davis’s infantry. Captain Brander’s men dashed across the Chambersburg Pike to a field between the “Herr Tavern” located on the Pike and an unfinished railroad cut, wheeled their guns into position and opened fire. As Gen. Davis’s infantry steadily advanced toward McPherson’s Ridge, the Letchers Artillery shifted from shelling the woods to target the infantry of Union Gen. Cutler’s Brigade. The 2nd Maine Battery posted on commanding terrain between the Pike and the railroad cut was shelling the 42nd Mississippi with blast of double-shot canister inflicting much damage. Captain Brander’s artillerists displaced 500 yards to “Willoughby’s Run” to better provide close range support for Davis’s infantry. At this time James and the battery were only 500 yards from the Union guns. At 11:00 A.M. Sharpshooters from the 42nd Mississippi dispersed into skirmish order and began to pick off the Maine gunners and horses. The Federal artillerymen retreated from the field abandoning their battery. At this same hour Brigadier-General James J. Archer’s Brigade encounter a stiff fight with the Union’s Wisconsin “Iron Brigade”. The outcome was seventy-five men and General Archer himself being captured by the enemy. General Archer was the first of General Lee’s generals to experience this fate.

Also at this time Union General John Fulton Reynolds at the age of forty-two was hit behind his right ear by a sharpshooter’s bullet toppling him from his horse and killing him instantly. As the battle raged on during the day Union cannoneers plowed the field in front of the Virginias with shot and canister. It was sometime during one of these exchanges that James Ferriter was wounded. A canister shell from one of the Union guns exploded near his battery sending shrapnel into James’s right leg.

There were two farmhouses near Willoughby’s Run on the Chambersburg Pike that had been turned into field hospitals. The John Crist farm located 400 yards southeast of Herr Tavern and the Michael Crist farm located 250 yards from Herr Tavern. James was most likely taken to the John Crist farm as this house was nearest his battery. After his wound was temporarily cleaned and bandaged James was transported to the Samuel Lohr farm. The Samuel Lohr farm was located at Cashtown on the Chambersburg Pike one-quarter mile northwest of the crossing over Marsh Creek. It was now being used as the hospital of Gen. Henry Heth’s Division of Gen. A. P. Hill’s Third Corps.

James’s right leg was found to be so badly injured that it had to be amputated six inches below his knee. The Division Surgeon, Doctor Green of the 55th North Carolina Infantry amputated James’s leg July 1, 1863. Timothy Curran another member of the battalion was also wounded and he and James were the only two men wounded on the first day’s battle at Gettysburg from Letchers Artillery. Two other men from the company were killed.

Although this was the last engagement James would be in with Letcher Artillery, the unit would be active in all the major battlers until the end of the war. The battery was not paroled at Appomattox, presumably reached Lynchburg with Walker’s artillery train and was disbanded.

James was left behind at the Lohr farm hospital when the Confederate Army returned to Virginia on July 4, 1863. He was taken prisoner July 5, and appears on the Roll of Prisoners of War at “Calvary Corps Hospital” on Aug. 10, 1863. James was admitted to”Camp Letterman” in Gettysburg Aug. 21 and later sent to “U.S.A. General Hospital West’s Building” Baltimore Maryland Sep.1, 1863.

On Sep. 25, 1863 James was paroled from Maryland to City Point Virginia. He appears on the register at “ Receiving and General Hospital No. 9” Richmond Virginia Oct. 26 1863. General Hospital No. 9 was located in Seabrook’s Warehouse on Grace Street between 17th and 18th. -. The warehouse was turned into a hospital in early June of 1862 to house the wounded from the Fair Oaks and Seven Pines battlefield. Because of its proximity to the Virginia Central Railroad Depot it was used as a receiving and distributing center for wounded men entering the city. It was torn down in 1910.

On Oct. 27 James appears on the register of “Chimborazo Hospital No. 1” in Richmond. His medical card numbers during this time were #2142181 and #2582650. He also appears on the register of “ C.S.A. General Hospital” Charlottesville, Va. from Feb.14.1864 to March 5, 1864.

James T. Ferriter was paroled on May 18,1865 nine days after General Robert E. Lee signed surrender papers in the parlor of William McLean’s home at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. At that time James was age 21, with eyes blue, hair dark, complexion fair, height 5ft 6in. and his residence was listed as Richmond Va. James was paid a pension of $12.00 a month for his disability. James a member of “The Pegram Battalion Association” served on the executive committee for their Annual Reunion May 21,1886 in Richmond. Annual dues for the association were $1.50.


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Margaret Ferriter Campbell

Margaret Ferriter Campbell MD, is an American medical doctor working as a Hospitalist at various North Carolina and South Carolina Hospitals. She likes to take some time off from work to travel and also to explore family history. Her favorite place to journey is to Dingle Peninsula and her favorite genealogical interest is that of her father's Ferriter family from that area. She first became interested in family history when she found a trunk of her mother's that was filled with old photos that had not been examined in over 100 years. That started the search that led to her connecting with others interested in learning more about the same families. This led to her being the organizer of the Ferriter Legacy Conference at the Blasket Center in April, 2012; a role she fills once again this June 19-22, 2015.