Colonel Edward E. Cross, thus described his experience at the battle of Fredericksburg:–
“It came near being my last battle. As we were advancing to those fatal heights in line of battle, I was near my colors. A twelve-pounder shell, from the Washington battery, burst right in front of me. One fragment struck me just below the heart, making a bad wound. Another blew off my hat; another (small bit) entered my mouth, and broke out three of my best jaw-teeth, while the gravel, bits of frozen earth, and minute fragments of shell covered my face with bruises.
“I fell insensible, and lay so for some time, when another fragment of shell, striking me on the left leg, below the knee, brought me to my senses. My mouth was full of blood, fragments of teeth and gravel, my breast-bone almost broken in, and I lay in mud two inches deep. My brave boys had gone along. I always told them never to stop for me. Dead and wounded lay thick around. One captain of French’s division was gasping in death within a foot of my head, his bowels all torn out. The air was full of hissing bullets and bursting shells. Getting on my hands and knees, I looked for my flag. Thank God, there it fluttered right amid the smoke and fire of the front line. I could hear the cheers of my brave men. Twice the colors dropped, but were up in an instant. I tried to crawl along, but a shot came and struck the steel scabbard of my sabre, splitting it open, and knocking me down flat.
“Dizzy and faint, I had sense enough to lay myself out decently, ‘feet to the foe.” Two lines passed over me, but soon they swayed back, trampling on the dead and dying. Halting about thirty yards in the rear, one line laid down and commenced firing. Inagine the situation. Right between two fires of bullets and shell–for our own artillery fire from over the river was mostly too short, and did great damage to our own troops. I lay on the field for hours, the most awful moments of my life. As the balls from our line hissed over me within a foot of my head, I covered my face with both hands, and counted rapidly from one to one hundred, expecting every moment my brains would spatter the ground. But they didn’t
“The guardian angels (if there be such personages) or my destiny saved me. The end of my days was reserved for another and I hope more fortunate occasion. For if I am to die on the battle-field, I pray that it may be with the cheers of victory in my ears. When it became dark some of my men found me and I was carried to the hospital.”
And the prayer of the brave New Hampshire Colonel was answered, for he did “die with the cheers of victory in his ears,” on the ever memorable field of Gettysburg.
Originally posted 2008-01-17 15:17:43.