It was late in the summer of 1864. The veteran and heroic army of Sherman had commenced in May that wonderful series of battles and marches which lasted while the rebellion continued, and which were the fatal and finishing blows by which the rebellion was crushed. By degrees, and after marking every mountain pass and almost every mile with blood, the rebel army had been pushed back and dislodged from one position after another, till now they had settled sullenly around the doomed city of Atlanta. The cautious and able Johnson was displaced in favor of the madcap and brainless fighter, Hood, who, in the language of the insurgent chief, “was determined to strike one manly blow for Atlanta.” While the antagonists lay thus at bay, and Sherman was perfecting the details of that splendid manaeuvre by which the stronghold became ours, a youthful soldier in the Union army, by the name of Ira B. Tuttle, with four of his men, performed a feat of military daring, which equals the exploits of Morgan, or any of the famous raiders of the war. The small village of Villa Rica lies about twenty-seven miles south by west of Atlanta, and about ten miles south of Dallas; near it is another little village, not inappropriately called Dark Corner.
In this village of Villa Rica the rebel General had established a principal magazine of supplies. As the greater part of his force lay between that point and the enemy, he regarded the point as entirely safe, and had left no guard on the spot, but only a Lieutenant-Colonel, a Captain, and three issuing Sergeants, to deliver the subsistence stores to the army wagons as they came for them. Rebel camps were, in fact, all around the point, in front and in rear, not more than a mile distant. Tuttle and his four men, in their scouting adventures, had penetrated very near the place, and resolved on making a bold dash upon it, thus running an immense risk; while, on the other hand, they might inflict on the enemy a great loss, and make good their escape. Putting spurs to their horses, they rode directly up to the largest building, where fifty thousand bushels of corn and a large amount of bacon were stored. The officers and enlisted men at the magazine were taken wholly by surprise, not even having side arms. Tuttle made them mount their horses, while he and his men fired the buildings, and five wagons loaded with bacon for the army. As soon as the flames were well started, he ordered his five prisoners to ride on in front, while he with his four men rode behind, with hands on their pistol hilts.
As they rode away with their prisoners, the smoke of the burning storehouses had been seen at the rebel camp a mile distant, and men were seen rushing to save them, if possible. But it was too late. The material was highly combustible, the weather hot and dry, and water distant. While the astonished rebels were running towards the fire, in the vain hope of “saving their bacon,” Tuttle and his brave companions, who had the fear of Andersonville before their eyes, put spurs to their horses, and drove their five prisoners before them into the Union camp.
Originally posted 2009-06-19 00:50:58.