Monthly Archives: November 2009


A soldier of the Confederate army, writing from Missionary Ridge, in October, 1863, says: “I presume you know Father Challon, a Catholic priest of Mobile. Well, he has a brother, an old man of, perhaps, sixty years, who is a member of Captain Hurtel’s company. This old man was in Kansas when the war broke out; he immediately turned his steps homeward, and coming across a Louisiana regiment, he joined it as a private. General McCullough, with whom the regiment was, happening to notice this brave old man, and also seeing how cheerfully he bore the fatigues and dangers of camp and battle, offered him a staff appointment; but Mr. Challon refused it, preferring to fight as a private in the ranks, until he could find some of the Mobile or Alabama troops. This was not effected, however, until he got to Corinth with Price’s army. Soon after, he was transferred to the 24th Alabama regiment, company A, commanded by your fellow-citizen, A. Hurtel, where he has remained ever since, discharging his duties faithfully and well, so much so, indeed, that he was noticed by the General of the brigade, and other officers, with whom he was a great favorite;any was the time that he might have been noticed sitting around the General’s fire, in free conversation with that officer, always eager for news, and when he obtained any that was good, would hurry off to impart it to his regiment. But for the incident.

“It was on the ever-memorable day of the 20th of September (battle of Chickamauga), that Mr. Challon took his place in the front ranks to attack the enemy in a strong position on a hill. Gallantly did all set on this occasion; but conspicuous among those brave men was the subject of this anecdote. They rushed on, driving the enemy from his breastworks, capturing three pieces of artillery, &c..; but the enfilade fire from the right and left was so very heavy that we were obliged to fall back. Here Mr. Challon fell with his thigh broken. Lieutenant Higley, passing by, and seeing his condition, tendered him assistance; but the old man waved him off, telling him to go and whip the Yankees, and let him alone; that he would take care of himself. We moved on, leaving the litter-bearers to take care of the dead and wounded; but in a few moments the news reached us that the enemy had set fire to the woods by their guns, and that the wounded would all be burned to death.

“Several officers immediately volunteered to take a party, and rescue the sufferers. They hastened to the spot, and succeeded in saving all our men, but not until some of them had been scorched. Among these latter was my old friend, who was manfully battling with this new enemy. He had crawled some distance from the spot where he fell, and many of the surgeons think that he, in these efforts, broke his thigh entirely, that was only fractured in the first instance by the ball. The old man is still alive, and strong hopes are entertained of his recovery, his cheerfulness aiding in it. Many of the brigade have visited him. He is always cheerful, and says, ‘No matter–the old man can die; he whipped the rascals.'”

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The following thrilling narrative was rated by B. D. Beyea, who spent several days on the battle-field in search of the body of Captain C. H. Flagg, who fell in that terrible fight:

“In the town of Gettysburg live an old couple by the name of Burns. The old man was in the war of 1812, and is now nearly seventy years of age; yet the frosts of many winters have not chilled his patriotism, nor diminished his love for the old flag under which he fought in his early days. When the rebels invaded the beautiful Cumberland Valley, and were marching on Gettysburg, old Burns concluded that it was time for every loyal man, young or old, to be up and doing all in his power to beat back the rebel foe, and, if possible, give them a quiet resting-place beneath the sod they were polluting with their unhallowed feet. The old hero took down an old State musket he had in his house, and commenced running bullets. The old lady saw what he was about, and wanted to know what in the world he was going to do. ‘Ah,’ said Burns, ‘I thought some of the boys might want the old gun, and I am getting it ready for them.’ The rebels came on. Old Burns kept his eye on the lookout until he saw the Stars and Stripes coming in, carried by our brave boys.This was more than the old fellow could stand. His patriotism got the better of his age and infirmity. Grabbing his musket, he started out. The old lady hallooed to him: ‘Burns, where are you going?’ ‘O,’ says Burns, ‘I am going out to see what is going on.’ He immediately went to a Wisconsin regiment, and asked them if they would take him in. They told him they would, and gave him three rousing cheers.

“The old musket was soon thrown aside, and a first-rate rifle given him, and twenty-five rounds of cartridges.

“The engagement between the two armies soon came on, and the old man fired eighteen of his twenty-five rounds, and says he killed three rebels to his certain knowledge. Our forces were compelled to fall back and leave our dead and wounded on the field; and Burns, having received three wounds, was left also, not being able to get away. There he lay in citizen’s dress and if the rebs found him in that condition, he knew death was his portion; so he concluded to try strategy as his only hope. Soon the rebs came up, and approached him, saying: ‘Old man, what are you doing here?’ ‘I am lying here wounded as you see,’ he replied. ‘Well, but what business have you to be here? and who wounded you? our troops or yours?’ ‘I don’t know who wounded me; but I only know that I am wounded, and in a bad fix.’ ‘Well, what were you doing here?–what was your business?’ ‘If you will hear my story, I will tell you. My old woman’s health is very poor, and I was over across the country to get a girl to help her; and, coming back, before I knew where I was, I had got right into this fix, and here I am.’ ‘Where do you live?’ inquired the rebels. ‘Over in town, in such a small house.’ They then picked him up, and carried him home, and left him. But they soon returned, as if suspecting he had been lying to them, and made him answer a great many questions; but he stuck to his old story, and they failed to make anything out of old Burns, and then left him for good.

“He says he shall always feel indebted to some of his neighbors for the last call; for he believes some one had informed them of him. Soon after they left, a bullet came into his room, and struck in the wall about six inches above where he lay on his sofa; but he don’t know who fired it. His wounds proved to be only flesh wounds and he is getting well, feels first-rate, and says he would like one more good chance to give them a rip.”

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THE days of June were nearly done;
The fields, with plenty overrun,
Were ripening ‘neath the harvest sun,
In fruitful Pennsylvania!

Sang birds, and children, “All is well!”
When, sudden, over hill and dell,
The gloom of com ttle fell
On peaceful Pennsylvania!

Through Maryland’s historic land,
With boastful tongue, and spoiling hand,
They burst–a fierce and famished band–
Right into Pennsylvania!

In Cumberland’s romantic vale
Was heard the plundered farmer’s wail,
And every mother’s cheek was pale
In blooming Pennsylvania!

With taunt and jeer, and shout and song,
Through rustic towns they passed along–
A confident and braggart throng–
Through frightened Pennsylvania!

The tidings startled hill and glen;
Up sprang our hardy Northern men,
And there was speedy travel then,
All into Pennsylvania!

The foe laughed out in open scorn;
For “Union men were coward-born,”
And then they wanted all the corn
That grew in Pennsylvania!

It was the languid hour of noon,
When all the birds were out of tune,
And nature in a sultry swoon,
In pleasant Pennsylvania!–

When, sudden o’er the slumbering plain,
Red flashed the battle’s fiery rain;
The volleying cannon shook again
The hills of Pennsylvania!

Beneath that curse of iron hail,
That threshed the plain with flashing flail,
Well might the stoutest soldier quail,
In echoing Pennsylvania!

Then, like a sudden summer rain,
Storm-driven o’er the darkened plain,
They burst upon our ranks and main,
In startled Pennsylvania!

We felt the old ancestral thrill,
From sire to son transmitted still,
And fought for Freedom with a will,
In pleasant Pennsylvania!

The breathless shock –the maddened toil–
The sudden clinch–the sharp recoil–
And we were masters of the soil,
In bloody Pennsylvania!

To westward fell the beaten foe;
The growl of battle, hoarse and low,
Was heard anon, but dying slow,
In ransomed Pennsylvania!

Sou’-westward, with the sinking sun,
The cloud of battle, dense and dun,
Flashed into fire–and all was won
In joyful Pennsylvania!

But ah! the heaps of loyal slain!
The bloody toil! the bitter pain!
For those who shall not stand again
In pleasant Pennsylvania!

Back, through the verdant valley lands,
East fled the foe, in frightened bands,
With broken swords, and empty hands,
Out of fair Pennsylvania!

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