The following account of the adventure of Captain W. E. Strong, of the Second regiment of Wisconsin volunteers, was given by that officer in an official report to Maj. Larrabee, dated at Camp Advance, September 7, 1861:
“In pursuance of your order of yesterday, I proceeded to examine the woods to the right of our exterior line, for the purpose of satisfying yourself whether the line should be extended. The last picket was stationed about four hundred yards from the river–being our outpost on our right exterior line–leaving a dense thicket of pine undergrowth between it and the river. From my means of observation up to that time, I had concluded that our pickets were not sufficiently advanced in that direction, as this space was wholly unoccupied. At least I thought the ground should be examined; and in this you were pleased to fully concur.
“You desired me to make a minute examination of the ground, and be ready to report when you should return, at three o’clock P. M. of that day. Accordingly, after dinner I passed along the line until I reached the extreme outpost on the right, which consisted of Lieut. Dodge, Corp. Manderson, and three privates, and then proceeded along over very rough and densely wooded ground to the river. I soon ascertained that these physical obstacles were so great that no body of troops could, in this direction, turn our right flank, and there was no necessity of extending our pickets. I then concluded to return; and for the purpose of avoiding the dense undergrowth, I turned back on a line about a hundred rods in advance of the direction of our line of pickets. As I was passing through a thicket, I was surrounded by six rebel soldiers–four infantry and two cavalry. The footmen were poorly dressed and badly armed. Seeing I was caught, I thought it best to surrender at once. So I said, ‘Gentlemen, you have me.’ I was asked various questions as to who I was, where I was going, what regiment I belonged to, &c., all of which I refused to answer. One of the footmen said, ‘Let’s hang the d—d Yankee scoundrel,’ and pointed to a convenient limb. Another man said, ‘No; let’s take him to the camp, and then hang him.’ One of the cavalrymen, who seemed to be the leader, said, ‘We’ll take him to camp.’ They then marched me through an open place–two in front, two in the rear, and a cavalryman on each side of me. I was armed with two revolvers and my sword.
“After going some twenty rods, the Sergeant on my right, noticing my pistols, ordered me to give them up, together with my sword. I said, ‘Certainly, gentlemen,’ and immediately halted. As I stopped, they all filed past me, and of course were in front. We were at this time in an open part of the woods, but about sixty yards to the rear was a thicket of undergrowth. Thus everything was in my favor; I was quick of foot, and a passable shot; yet the design of escape was not formed until I brought my pistol pouches round to the front part of my body, and my hands touched the stocks. The grasping of the pistols suggested the thought of cocking them as I drew them out. This I did; and the moment I got command of them, I shot down two footmen nearest me–about sixty feet off–one with each hand. I immediately turned and ran towards the thicket in the rear. The confusion of my captors was apparently so great, that I had nearly reached cover before shots were fired at me. One ball passed through my left cheek, passing out of my mouth. Another one, a musket-ball, passed through my canteen. Immediately upon this volley the two cavalrymen separated–one on my left and the other on my right–to cut off my retreat. The remaining two footmen charged directly towards me; I turned, when the horsemen got up, and fired three or four shots, but the balls flew wild. I ran on, got over a small knell, and nearly regained one of our pickets, when I was headed off by both the mounted men. The Sergeant called out to me to halt and surrender; I gave no reply, but fired and ran in the opposite direction. He pursued and overtook me; I turned, took good aim, pulled the trigger, but the cap snapped. At this time his carbine was unslung, and he was holding it with both hands on the left side of his horse. He fired at my breast without raising the piece to his shoulder, and the shot passed from the right side of my coat, through it and my shirt, to the left, just grazing the skin: the piece was so near as to burn the cloth out the size of one’s hand. I was, however, uninjured at this time, save the shot through my cheek. I then fired at him again, and brought him to the ground, hanging by his foot in the left stirrup, and the horse galloping towards the camp. I saw no more of the other horseman, nor of the footmen, but running on soon came to our own pickets uninjured, save the shot through my cheek, but otherwise most exhausted from my exertions.”
Originally posted 2009-05-22 16:36:43.