AUTHOR'S NOTE: I started this AAR as a Victoria Revolutions story a few years back. I ended up getting bogged down with real life, and couldn't keep the story going. After buying Victoria II a few weeks ago, I started thinking about giving the story another try. I'll usesome of the stuff from the old story, but most of the content will be new. I'm going to be slightly more ambitious this time, and look at the war from the perspective of both a poor farm boy and the son of a plantation owner as they live through both the war and the peace. Even Lincoln, Lee, and Davis will make a few appearances.
Near Manassas, VA
Virgil Biddle sat around the small campfire with his fellow soldiers in the 1st Richmond Rifles. The sun had gone down, and had caused some of the summer heat and humidity to dissipate. The ragtag group of volunteers looked nothing like a professional army. None of the men wore a full uniform. Virgil wore uniform pants and a kepi. Next to him, his father Josiah was identified as a soldier only by the fact that he was wearing a gray kepi.
The men, and the entire Army of Northern Virginia, had been encamped near Manassas for several weeks. The rumor was that General Lee wanted to wait for the Union Army to come to him rather than moving toward them. There was also news that other regiments were being raised, and Lee was waiting for those regiments to make it toward Manassas before making any move.
“You think we’ll ever make it into the fightin, pa?” Virgil asked.
“It won’t be long before the Yankees come down here, I reckon,” Josiah said. “They’re gonna want to drive us back before those other regiments from the south show up."
His 19 year old son took a bite of a hardtack biscuit and shook his head.
“Hope it happens soon. I’m itchin’ to give it to the DamnYankees.”
Josiah sighed. “I wouldn’t be so eager if I was you. I don’t love the Yankees either, but I don’t look forward to the day when the bullets start flyin. This is liable to be a bloody, tough war. I want to make it home to your ma, and your brother and sister. I don’t want to have to tell ‘em that we had to put you in the ground on some battlefield.”
“Still,” Virgil said, “I’m ready for our first fight.”
Later that evening, Virgil pulled out a quill and a piece of paper. His father was illiterate, so it fell on Virgil to write home to their family.
We hav been sittin near Manassas for a few weeks now. Marse Robert wants the yanks to come to us instead of the other way around. Pa says he don’t think it will be long before the yankees come down here to Stanton and try and drive us out. I look forward to the fight. Pa says hi to. Give owr luv to Billy and Mary.
1st Richmond Rifles
Army of Northern Virginia
June 28, 1861
Jackson County, GA
William Stanton sat under the shade of an old tree, and wiped the sweat from his brow. It was a hot day in North Georgia, and Will had been working since before sunrise. His friends and neighboring plantation owners often wondered why he went out every day and worked just as hard, if not harder, than his field hands. He was one of the richest landowners in Georgia. Why did he not just stay indoors, and let his stable of slaves do the heavy lifting?
The answer was simple. Will had been pouring his blood and sweat into every inch of soil on his farm ever since he was a young man. Why should it be any different now that he had been blessed with enough money to have others help him with the work? Why should he ask anyone to do work that he wasn’t willing to do? That was Will’s philosophy. It was a philosophy that he tried to instill in his eldest son Jeffrey. One day, Jeffrey would own one-fifth of the land in Jackson County. Will wanted his son to realize that he would have to work hard to keep the land, and the sizable profits the land produced.
Just then, Will looked up, and saw his son Jeffrey riding his horse up to his father. Jeff had gone into town earlier in the day for supplies, and to get the latest news on the ongoing war with the Union. As one of the state’s most prominent landowners, Will dabbled a little in politics. We had supported secession, and he was now doing what he could to support the war effort. He was anxious to hear of the latest developments.
“Pa!” Jeff yelled as he rode up, and dismounted from his horse. “Big news! Mr. Witcher’s general store in Jefferson had a copy of the newspaper from Atlanta. There was a big story in there about General Stuart invading Kentucky. They’re calling it the first major offensive push of the war!”
Will was surprised by the news. He thought Lee would be the first to invade the north.
“How fares the invasion so far?” Will asked.
“The paper talked about a big battle near some town called Paducah. They say ole’ JEB whipped the Yankees, and sent them retreatin’ with their tails between their legs.”
“That’s good news,” Will said. “With any luck, this war could be won quicker than everyone predicts.” Will looked at his son. It looked like Jeff wanted to tell him something more.
“What’s wrong, Jeffrey. It looks like you have something on your mind.”
Jeff stared at his feet, and hesitated a bit. “Yes, sir…There is. You see, there was an army recruiter down in Jefferson when I got there. I talked to him a little, and…well…I volunteered.”
The news hit Will like a ton of bricks. Despite his support of the war, he had no desire to send his son off to fight. His son was supposed to stay here, and learn the ropes of tending Oakwood Plantation. For the last 18 years, he had worked to prepare his son for the day when he would take over Oakwood. He had paid to have tutors come in and give Jeff a well-rounded education. He had planned to send him to the university in Athens in just a couple of months. His son was meant to be a gentleman farmer. Not a soldier.
“Jeffrey,” Will responded. “There’s no need for you to fight…”
Jeff cut him off. “Yes there is! This is my state. This is my country. I want to defend it. I want to do my part.”
“But you might not come back,” Will said, quietly.
“You said yourself that the war will probably be over quicker than everyone says it will. As it is, I might not even get a chance to fight before it all ends.” Jeff sounded almost disappointed by the prospect of missing his chance to go into battle.
Will looked at his son. He had grown into a handsome young man. He was tall, and had grown muscular from working in the fields of Oakwood. He had a shock of red hair, and blue eyes that hid an above-average intellect behind them. Will hated to admit it, but he could see his son in a brand new gray military uniform.
“I can’t dissuade you from this, can I?” Will asked, finally.
“No, sir,” Jeff said. He could tell that his father was close to giving in.
“Ok, then.” Will gave his son a tight smile, and held out his hand for Jeff to shake. “Go with my blessing. I do have one condition, though.”
“You’re the one who has to tell your mother about this.”
July 1, 1861
Near Manassas, VA
“LOAD!” The corporal shouted.
Virgil stood shoulder to shoulder with the other men of the 1st Richmond Rifles. As one, they reached into their ammo pouches, and loaded them into their rifles. In front of them, a column of Union soldiers advanced.
Josiah stood immediately to his son’s left. He looked over at Virgil with a very solemn look on his face.
“Good luck, boy,” Josiah said.
“You too, Pa.”
As one, the men of the 1st Richmond Rifles fired into the line of Union soldiers. Virgil’s gun kicked as he squeezed the trigger. Through the puff of smoke that rose from the barrel of his gun, he could see the Yankee soldier he aimed for clutch his stomach and fall. Yankees were falling all across the skirmish line.
Just then, the Union boys responded by firing into the gray line. Men from Virgil’s regiment fell as the Yankee gunfire struck home.
The men who remained standing prepared to fire again. Virgil’s hands shook a little as he tried to load his rifle. Despite it all, he managed to aim and fire again. Within minutes, the Union soldiers were obscured by the smoke from the dueling gunfire. Yet, Virgil continued to fire in the direction of the opposing soldiers. He heard a wet smacking sound, and the soldier on his right, Grady Sullivan, started to scream.
“Awwww, damnit, they shot me! Gawdalmighty, they got me!” The soldier clutched at his chest as a dark red stain began to form on his tunic.
“Biddle!” the corporal yelled. “Help Sullivan make it back to the rear so he can be taken care of.”
“Come on, Grady,” Virgil said, and he put Sullivan’s arm around his shoulders, and helped him back toward the surgeon’s tent.
They hadn’t gotten far from the front lines when the wounded soldier sank down to his knees, and started to cough. He spit frothy, bright red blood onto the grass.
“Come on Grady,” Virgil urged. “Get up, so we can get you to the doctor.”
Grady Sullivan was on his hands and knees whimpering. “I can’t walk no more. Oh, Gawd, it hurts.”
Virgil grabbed the boy’s arm, and tried to pull him back up onto his feet. “Come on, Grady. The doctor’s tent is just over yonder. It ain’t far now. They can take fix you up.”
Rather than stand up, Sullivan laid down on his back. The entire lower part of his tunic was stained crimson. He coughed again, and blood trickled out of the corner of his mouth.
Sullivan’s eyes were closed. His breathing had become more shallow.
“Am I gonna die, Virgil?” he asked.
“You’re gonna be fine, Grady,” Virgil lied. “We just need to get you to the doctor.”
Vigril Biddle looked up desperately. He needed someone to help him drag Sullivan back to the surgeon. Around him, other wounded men were walking, and being carried toward the rear. He looked around; desperate to find someone to help him.
“Will somebody help me?” Virgil yelled. “I got a wounded man here! I need somebody to help me carry him!”
He looked back down, and Sullivan was no longer moving. No longer breathing.
We got our first taste of combat. The bluebellies came down from Maryland and tried to take Manassas. We gave em hell! I know that I keeled at least 6 or 7 my ownself. The Yankees retreated and we might chase after em and drive them out of the state compleetle. A man died in my arms to. My friend Grady Sulluvan. He got shot, and got keeled befoor we culd git him to a doctor. I heer that General Stuart and General Johnston have captured southern Kentuckee. Have you herd anything about it? Pa says hi. He wishes he new his letters so as he could write to you to. He keeled a hole mess of yankees too. Hows the farm? Hows Billy and Mary? Give em our love.
1st Richmond Rifles
Army of Northern Virginia