As soon as the confusion arising from the mistake (the cross firing) was over, Gen. Pierce ordered the troops to advance. No scouts were thrown out, nor were troops aware of the vicinity of the enemys batteries until they came within their fire. Lieut. Greble was ordered to unlimber his gun. He advanced, firing his gun alternately, until he came within two hundred yards of the masked battery of the rebels.
Soon after the firing commenced, he was left alone with his original command of eleven men, in an open road, the volunteers having retreated before the telling fire of the rifled cannon.
He worked his guns until he had silenced all those of the enemy, except one rifled cannon.
The Zouaves made a demonstration, and only desired permission to storm the fort, but no general officer was seen from the commencement of the action, and fifteen hundred troops were kept lying of the ground for an hour and forty minutes, waiting for a commander.
Lieut. Greble stood the brunt of the action for two hours; he was begged by several officers to retreat, but he refused. Lieut. Butler asked him at least to take the same care of himself that the rest did, and dodge. He replied, “I never dodge, and when I hear the notes of the bugle calling a retreat, I shall retreat, and not before.” The enemy made a sortie. Lieut. Greble said to Capt. Barlett, who was standing alongside of him, “Now, Charley, I have something to fire at, just see how I will make them scamper.” He immediately loaded with grape, and fired, when the enemy at once retreated behind their intrenchment.
Seeing himself left alone, with five men at his own gun, he turned to Corporal Peoples, and said, “All he could do would be useless–limber up the gun and take it away.” At this moment a shot struck him on the left temple. He immediately fell, and his only exclamation was, “O, my gun!” The same ball went through the body of another man, and took the leg off a third.
Throughout the firing he had sighted every gun himself, and examined the effect of every shot with his glass. It was remarked by his own men, that every ball was placed in the very spot that he aimed for. The men say that he exhibited the same coolness that he would on parade.
The enemy did not come out again until the Federal troops had been withdrawn a half hour.
Lieut. Greble did not spike his gun, but kept it charged in preparing to withdraw his command. The Sergeant spiked it after the Lieutenant was killed.
Originally posted 2008-05-26 01:01:03.