Monthly Archives: September 2009

THE CHARGE AT PORT HUDSON.–

A soldier who participated in the storming of Port Hudson, on the 14th of June, 1863, gives the following account of that unfortunate affair: “I have been in many battles, but I never saw, and never wish to see, such a fire as that poured on us on June 14th. It was not terrible—it was HORRIBLE.

“Our division (Second) stormed about a mile from the Mississippi. We left our camp at twelve o’clock, midnight, on the 13th, and proceeded to the left, arriving just at daylight, where the balance of our brigade (Second) awaited us.

“Colonel Benedict arrived from opposite Port Hudson on the 12th, and our regiment was transferred from the First to the Second brigade, and he placed in command. The movement to the left took all by surprise; but we got in shape behind a piece of woods which concealed the enemy’s works, and rested. The First brigade went in first, and we followed–the Third brigade being a reserve. I saw the First brigade file left and move on, but saw no more of it. When the order came to move on, we did so in ‘column of company,’ at full distance. Ask some good military man what he thinks of a brigade moving to a charge in that manner. The One Hundred and Sixty-second leading, the One Hundred and Seventy-fifth (Bryan’s) after us; then the Forty-eighth Massachusetts, and Twenty-eighth Maine. We were in a road parallel to the enemy’s works, and had to change direction to, or file left round the corner of the woods, and then started forward by a road leading up. The ground rose gradually, and away above, the rebel works were in plain sight. The moment we turned into the road, shot, shell, grape, and canister fell like hail, in, amongst, and around us. But on we went. A little higher, a new gun opened on us. Still farther they had a cross-fire on us–O! such a terrible one; but on we went, bending as, with sickening shrieks, the grape and canister swept over us. Sometimes it fell in and about us; but I paid no heed to it.

“After the first, my whole mind was given to the colors, and to keep my men around them; and they did it well. I wonder now, as I think of it, how I did so. I walked erect, though from the moment I saw how they had us, I was sure I would be killed. I had no thought (after a short prayer) but for my flag. I talked and shouted. I did all man could do to keep my boys to their ‘colors.’ I tried to draw their attention from the enemy to it, as I knew we would advance ore rapidly. The brave fellows stood by it, as the half-score who fell attest. The ‘color-bearer’ fell, but the ‘flag’ did not. Half the guard fell, but the “flag’ was there. Ask (if I never come home) my Colonel or Lieutenant-Colonel if any one could have done better tan I did that day. I do not fear their answer. When about three hundred yards from the works, I was struck. The pain was so intense that I could not go on. I turned to my Second Lieutenant, who was in command of company C, as he came up to me, and said: ‘Never mind me, Jack; for God’s sake,jump to the colors.’ I don’t recollect any more, till I heard Colonel B. say: ‘Up, men, and forward.’ I looked, and saw the rear regiments lying flat to escape the fire, and Colonel B. standing there, the shot striking all about him, and he never flinching. It was grand to see him. I wish I was of ‘iron nerve,’ as he is. When I heard him speak, I forgot all else, and, running forward, did not stop till at the very front and near the colors again. There, as did all the rest, I lay down, and soon learned the trouble. Within two hundred yards of the works was a raving parallel with them, imperceptible till just on the edge of it, completely impassable by the fallen timber in it. Of course we could not move on. To stand up was certain death; so was retreat. Naught was left but to lie down with what scanty cover we could get. So we did lie down, in that hot, scorching sun. I fortunately got behind two small logs, which protected me on two sides, and lay there, scarcely daring to turn, for four hours, till my brain recked and surged, and I thought I should go mad. Death would have been preferable to a continuance of such torture. Lots of poor fellers shot as they were lying down, and to lie there and hear them groan and cry was awful. Just on the other side of the log lay the gallant Colonel Bryan, with both legs broken by shot. He talked of home, but bore it like a patriot. Near him was one of my own brave boys, with five balls in him. I dared not stir, my hand ached so, and it would have been death also. Well, the Colonel got out of pain sooner than some, for he died after two hours of intense agony. Bullets just grazed me as they passed over, and one entered the ground within an inch of my right eye. I could not go that. Our boys had run back occasionally, but got a volley as they did so from the rebels, who would curse them. I waited till our cannon fired a round at them, then up and ran across the road, and fell flat behind some low bush or weeds; ad well I did. They saw my sword, and fired several volleys after me. As my hand was very lame, I crawled several rods back, then under a big log, got behind it, and, for the first time in five hours, sat up. I bathed my hand, and after a while made my way to the rear, got it dressed, and was on my way back, when I learned that the men were to work in, by one and twos; so I staid. I then learned of poor Bryen’s fate, and one by one came the tidings of my own men, and when the word came of them I cried like a child. Some of them passed me on the way to have their wounds dressed, and blessed me as they passed by. When night came, the troops came in and line was formed, and a small one we had. The Major’s body was brought in to be sent home, and my pet favorite, Sergeant Fred. Mitchell (who, as a favorite to us, Colonel Benedict had made an acting Lieutenant–he was so good a soldier, and handsome and talented), the last I saw of him, was his sword flashing in the sunlight as he urged the men forward; but he was brought in with half his head torn off, and it was hard to recognize him. But God bless him! He was true, for his right hand grasped his award firmly in death. I have it stored to be sent to his friends. Colonel B. and Lieutenant-Colonel B. came out safe. The Lieutenant-Colonel had been sick for some time, and this finished him. So I took command of the regiment, brought it to the mortar battery, and bivouacked for the night.

Posted in Recent Entries | Leave a comment

CAPTURE ON MOSBY’S HOUSE.–

Captain J. S. Graham, of the Twenty-first New York cavalry, detailed the following:

“One hundred and fifty of the Twenty-first cavalry were sent out from Halltown, Va., on a three days’ scout. At night they stopped about five miles above Berryville. Sergeant Wetherbee and Corporals Simpson and Van Antwerp went about a mile from the camp to a house to get supper. After eating, they concluded to stay there all night, and so put their horses in the stable. Having safely, as they thought, secured their animals, they sat down in the house by the fire to warm their feet and make themselves as comfortable as possible. Just then the door opened, and three men, with revolvers in hand, marched in and demanded a surrender. There was no alternative. Having disarmed their prisoners, the guerrillas took them to the stables to get their horses. While in the stable Van Antwerp noticed a hole in the floor, into which he dropped and concealed himself. Mosby (for he was the leader of the party) supposed that Van Antwerp had run away, and gave him no further thought. He took the other prisoners and hurried them away into the Loudon Mountains to a little place called Paris. Stopping at a house, Mosby dismounted, and told his prisoners to do likewise, and follow him into a house. Simpson dismounted, and while pretending to tie his horse, snatched a pistol from the holster on Mosby’s saddle, shot the Lieutenant who stood on the other side of the horse, mounted Mosby’s horse, fired a shot at Mosby, and away he flew as fast as the horse could carry him. Mosby returned his fire, but without effect, and Simpson rode at full gallop towards the Shenandoah. Wetherbee, who had not dismounted, took advantage of the occasion to take the same course, and both got safely into the Federal camp,—Simpson with Mosby’s famous gray horse.”

Posted in Recent Entries | Leave a comment

A CLASSIC SOLDIER.–

A Lieutenant in the Twelfth Indiana relates the following:

Being out on a scout with a squad of his men, and becoming fatigued, they stopped at a house to see if they could get some buttermilk to drink. In their squad was a young man who had been highly educated, but who had become dissipated before entering the army, and had the appearance of one very low in life. When they entered the house, there were two young ladies sitting in the room, very busily engaged in reading, and did not seem to take any notice of them whatever. After getting their buttermilk, the young man, supposed to be an ignorramus, walked to one of the ladies, and very politely asked her what book she was reading. Thinking his question impertinent, she indignantly replied, “You would not know, if I should tell you.” “That may be true,” says he; “still, I would like very much if you would tell me.” “Well,” says she, “if you must know, I am reading Virgil.” “Ah! Virgil! And how do you like it?” “Very well; but I have come to a hard, knotty sentence here, that I cannot translate.” “Well, perhaps I can assist you about it, if you will allow me.” “You assist me! It is Latin that I am reading!” “Very well, miss. Will you be so kind as to let me see if I cannot assist you with it?” Somewhat softened by his kind and gentlemanly manner, she handed him the book, when, to her utter astonishment, he translated the difficult sentence with great ease. She now addressed him politely. “Are you an officer, sir?” “O, no, miss; I am only a private. If I had had a little better education, I do not know but I might have been an officer in the Federal army.” Surprised still more, she replied, “I am astonished! I thought I was a good Latin scholar. Here is a boy in the Federal army who can read Latin better than I can, and yet he says he is not well enough educated to be an officer. Why, sir, what kind of an army have you?” “Well, miss, we have a very intelligent army; one that knows what they are fighting about, and what they are fighting for. We have an army of men who will continue to fight until this wicked rebellion you intelligent Southerners have stirred up is crushed. Good by, miss.”

Posted in Recent Entries | Leave a comment

A NEGRO’S PRAYER.–

The following is a prayer offered by a colored man at a funeral, and reported by Dr. Calkins, Surgeon of a Mass. regiment:

“Massa Jesus, like de people ob de ole time, de Jews, we weep by de side ob de ribber, wid de strings ob de harp all broke; but we sing ob de broken heart, as dem people could not do. Hear us, King, in de present state ob our sorrow. You know, King Jesus, honey, we just got from de Red Sea, and wander in de wilderness, a poor, feeble portion ob de children ob Adam, feeble in body, feeble in mind, and need de help ob de good Almighty God. O, help us, if you please, to homes, for we’s got no homes, Massa Jesus, but de shelter ob de oak tree in de daytime, and de shelter of de cotton tent at night. Help us for our own good and de good of God’s blessed Union people, dat want all people free, whatsomebber be de color. Massa Jesus, you know de deep tribulations ob our hearts, dat sickness is among us, dat our children is dyin’ in de camp; and as we tote ’em from one place to tudder, and bury dem in de cold ground, to go in spirit to de God ob de people whar de soul hab no spot nor color. Great King ob Kings, and Doctor ob Doctors, and God ob battles! help us to be well; help us to be able to fight wid de Union sogers de battle for de Union; help us to fight for liberty, fight for de country, fight for our own homes, and our own free children, and our children’s children. Fotch out, God ob battles, de big guns wid de big bustin’ shells, and gib dem God-forsaken secesh, dat would carry to shame our wives and daughters. O, mighty Jesus! if you please, a right smart charge ob grape and canister; make ’em glad to stop de war and come back to shoes and de fatted calf, and de good tings ob de Union. No more murderin’ brudder ob de Norf States. No more ragged, bare feet. No more slave-whippers and slave-sellers. No more faders ob yellow skins. No more meaner as meanest niggers.”

Posted in Recent Entries | Leave a comment