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our men to fall back. The Rebels, now bank of the Holston. He then compressing forward, gained the ridge for menced the construction of a line of which they had been contending, and works. The four companies of the established their lines within rifle range Thirty-sixth Massachusetts which had. of our works.
been detailed for picket duty on the It was while endeavoring to check morning of the 17th, remained on post this advance that General Sanders was till the morning of the 19th. Thencemortally wounded. He was at once forward, throughout the siege, both borne from the field, and carried into officers and men were on picket duty Knoxville. While a surgeon was ex- every third day. During this twentyamining the wound, he asked, “ Tell four hours of duty no one slept. The me, Doctor, is my wound mortal ? " rest of the time we were on duty in
Tenderly the surgeon replied, “San- the trenches, where, during the siege, ders, it is a fearful wound, and mortal. one third, and sometimes one fourth, of I am sorry to say it, my dear fellow, but the men were kept awake. The ut. the odds are against you."
most vigilance was enjoined upon all. Calmly the General continued, “Well, Meanwhile, day by day, and night by I am not afraid to die. I have made up night, with unflagging zeal, the troops my mind upon that subject. I have gave themselves to the labor of strengdone my duty, and have served my thening the works. Immediately in country as well as I could.”
front of the rifle-pits, a chevaux-de-frise The next day he called the attention was constructed. This was formed of the surgeon to certain symptoms of pointed stakes, thickly and firmly which he had observed, and asked him set in the ground, and inclining outwhat they meant
wards at an angle of forty-five deThe surgeon replied, “General, you grees. The stakes were bound togethare dying."
er with wire, so that they could not “ If that be so," he said, “I would easily be torn apart by an assaulting like to see a clergyman.”
party. They were nearly five feet in Rev. Mr. Hayden, chaplain of the height. In front of Colonel Haskins's post, was summoned. On his arrival, position, on the north side of the town, the dying soldier expressed a desire the chevaux - de - frise was constructed that the ordinance of baptism should with the two thousand pikes which be administered. This was done, and were captured at Cumberland Gap then the minister in prayer commended early in the fall. A few rods in front the believing soul to God, - General of the chevaux-de-frise was the abatis, Burnside and his staff, who were pres- formed of thick branches of trees, ent, kneeling around the bed. When which likewise were firmly set in the the prayer was ended, General Sanders ground. Still farther to the front, were took General Burnside by the hand. wire entanglements stretched a few Tears — the language of that heartfelt inches above the ground, and fastened sympathy and tender love belonging to here and there to stakes and stumps. all noble souls — dropped down the In front of a portion of our lines anothbronzed cheeks of the chief as he lis- er obstacle was formed by construct. tened to the last words which followed. ing dams across First and Second The sacrament was now about to be ad-, Creeks, so called, and throwing back ministered, but suddenly the strength the water. The whole constituted a of the dying soldier failed, and like a series of obstacles which could not be child he gently fell asleep. “Greater passed, in face of a heavy fire, without love hath no man than this, that a man great difficulty and fearful loss. lay down his life for his friends."
Just in rear of the rifle-pits occupied The enemy did not seem inclined to aby the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts was attack our position at once, but pro- an elegant brick mansion, of recent ceeded to invest the town on the north construction, known as the Powell House. When the siege commenced, Massachusetts were detached to supfresco-painters were at work ornament- port Roemer's battery on College Hill. ing its parlors and halls. Throwing While on this duty the officers and open its doors, Mr. Powell, a true men were quartered in the buildings of Union man, invited Colonel Morrison East Tennessee College. Prior to our and Major Draper to make it their occupation of East Tennessee, these head-quarters. He also designated a buildings had been used by the Rebels chamber for the sick of our regiment as a hospital ; but, after a vigorous use Early during the siege, the southwest- of the ordinary means of purification, ern and northwestern fronts were they afforded us pleasant and comfortloopholed by order of General Burn- able quarters. side, and instructions were given to The siege had now continued several post in the house, in case of an attack, days. The Rebels had constructed two companies of the Thirty - sixth works offensive and defensive in our Massachusetts. When the order was front; but the greater part of their announced to Mr. Powell, he nobly force seemed to have moved to the said, “ Lay this house level with the right. On the 22d of November, howground, if it is necessary.” A few feet ever, they returned, not having found from the southwestern front of the evidently the weak place in our lines house, a small earthwork was thrown which they had sought. It was now up by our men, in which was placed a thought they might attack our front section of Buckley's battery. This work that night; and orders were given to was afterwards known as Battery No the men on duty in the outer works to ble.
exercise the utmost vigilance. But the Morrison's brigade now held the line night passed quietly. of defences from the Holston River With each day our confidence in the the extreme left of our line — to Fort strength of our position increased ; and Sanders. The following was the posi- we soon felt able to repel an assault tion of the several regiments of the from any quarter. But the question of brigade. The Forty-fifth Pennsylva- supplies was a serious one. When nia was on the left, its left on the the siege commenced, there was in the river. On its right lay the Thirty- Commissary Department at Knoxville sixth Massachusetts. Then came the little more than a day's ration for the Eighth Michigan. The Seventy-ninth whole army. Should the enemy gain New York (Highlanders) formed the possession of the south bank of the garrison of Fort Sanders. Between Holston, our only means of subsistence the Eighth Michigan and Fort Sanders would be cut off. Thus far his atwas the One Hundredth Pennsylvania tempts in this direction had failed ; (Roundheads).
and the whole country, from the French On the evening of the 20th, the Broad to the Holston, was open to Seventeenth Michigan made a sortie, our foraging parties. In this way a and drove the Rebels from the Arm- considerable quantity of corn and wheat strong House. This stood on the King- was soon collected in Knoxville. Bread, ston road, and only a short distance made from a mixture of meal and flour, from Fort Sanders. It was a brick was issued to the men, but only in half house, and afforded a near and safe and quarter rations. Occasionally a position for the enemy's sharpshooters, small quantity of fresh pork was also which of late had become somewhat issued. Neither sugar nor coffee was annoying to the working parties at the issued after the first days of the siege. fort. Our men destroyed the house, The enemy, foiled in his attempts to and then withdrew. The loss on our seize the south bank of the Holston, part was slight.
now commenced the construction of a For a few days during the siege, raft at Boyd's Ferry. Floating this four companies of the Thirty-sixth down the swift current of the stream, he hoped to carry away our pontoon, operations would allow. He knew the and thus cut off our communication rations were short, and that the day with the country beyond. To thwart would be unlike the joyous festival we this plan, an iron cable, one thousand were wont to celebrate in our distant feet in length, was stretched across the homes; and so be reminded us of the river above the bridge. This was done circumstances of trial under which our under the direction of Captain Poe. fathers first observed the day. He Afterwards, a boom of logs, fastened also reminded us of the debt of gratiend to end by chains, was constructed tude which we owed to Him who durstill farther up the river. The boom ing the year had not only prospered was fifteen hundred feet in length. our arms, but had kindly preserved our
On the evening of the 23d the Reb- lives. Accordingly, we ate our corn els made an attack on our pickets in bread with thanksgiving; and, forgetfront of the left of the Second Division, ting our own privations, thought only Ninth Corps. In falling back, our men of the loved ones at home, who, uncerfired the buildings on the ground aban- tain of our fate, would that day find litdoned, lest they should become a tle cheer at the table and by the fireshelter for the enemy's sharpshooters. side. Among the buildings thus destroyed Allusion has already been made to were the arsenal and machine-shops the bastion-work known as Fort Sannear the depot. The light of the blazing ders. A more particular description buildings illuminated the whole town. is now needed. The main line, held The next day the Twenty-first Massa- by our troops, made almost a right chusetts and another picked regiment, angle at the fort, the northwest basthe whole under the command of Lieu- tion being the salient of the angle. tenant-Colonel Hawkes of the Twenty- The ground in front of the fort, from first, drove back the Rebels at this which the wood had been cleared, point, and reoccupied our old position. sloped gradually for a distance of eighty
The same day an attack was made yards, and then abruptly descended to by the Second Michigan on the ad- a wide ravine. Under the direction of vanced parallel, which the enemy had Lieutenant Benjamin, Second United so constructed as to envelop the north- States Artillery, and Chief of Artillery west bastion of Fort Sanders. The of the Army of the Ohio, the fort had works were gallantly carried ; but be- now been made as strong as the means fore the supporting columns could come at his disposal and the rules of military up, our men were repulsed by fresh art admitted. Eighty and thirty yards troops which the enemy had at hand. in front of the fort, rifle-pits were con
On the 25th of November the enemy, structed. These were to be used in having on the day previous crossed the case our men were driven in from the Holston at a point below us, made an- outer line. Between these pits and the other unsuccessful attempt to occupy Fort were wire entanglements, running the heights opposite Knoxville. He from stump to stump, and also an abatis. succeeded, however, in planting a bat- Sand-bags and barrels were arranged tery on a knob about one hundred and so as to cover the embrasures. Travfifty feet above the river, and twenty- erses, also, were built for the protection five hundred yards south of Fort San- of the men at the guns, and in passing ders. This position commanded Fort from one position to another. In the Sanders, so that it now became neces- fort were four twenty-pounder Parrotts sary to defilade the fort.
(Benjamin's battery), four light twelveNovember 26th was our national pounders (of Buckley's battery), and Thanksgiving day, and General Burn- two three-inch guns. side issued an order, in which he ex- Early in the evening of the 27th there pressed the hope that the day would was much cheering along the Rebel be observed by all, as far as military lines. Their bands, too, were unusually lavish of the Rebel airs they were wont struck? So some thought. Gradually occasionally to waft across the debat- the night wore away. able ground which separated our lines. A little after six o'clock the next mornHad the enemy received reinforce- ing, the enemy suddenly opened a furiments, or had Grant met with a re- ous cannonade. This was mostly directverse ? While on picket that night, in ed against Fort Sanders ; but several making my rounds, I could distinctly shots struck the Powell House, in rear hear the Rebels chopping on the knob of Battery Noble. Roemer immediately which they had so recently occupied on responded from College Hill. In about the opposite bank of the river. They twenty minutes the enemy's fire slackwere clearing away the trees in front ened, and in its stead rose the wellof the earthwork which they had con- known Rebel yell, in the direction of structed the day before. Would they the fort. Then followed the rattle of attack at daybreak? So we thought, musketry, the roar of cannon, and the connecting this fact with the cheers and bursting of shells. The yells died away, music of the earlier part of the night; and then rose again. Now the roar of but the morning opened as quietly as musketry and artillery was redoubled. its predecessors. Late in the after- It was a moment of the deepest anxnoon the enemy seemed to be placing iety. Our straining eyes were fixed on his troops in position in our front, and the fort. The Rebels had reached the our men stood in the trenches, awaiting ditch and were now endeavoring to an attack; yet the day wore away with- scale the parapet. Whose will be the out further demonstrations.
victory, - 0, whose ? The yells again A little after eleven o'clock, P. M., died away, and then followed three loud November 28th, I was aroused by heavy Union cheers, “Hurrah, hurrah, hurmusketry. I hurried to the trenches. rah !” How those cheers thrilled our It was a cloudy, dark night, and at hearts, as we stood almost breathless a distance of only a few feet it was at our posts in the trenches! They impossible to distinguish any object. told us that the enemy had been reThe men were already at their posts. pulsed, and that the victory was ours. With the exception of an occasional Peering through the rising fog towards shot on the picket-line, the firing soon the fort, not a hundred yards away, ceased. An attack had evidently been O glorious sight !- we dimly saw that made on our pickets; but at what point, our flag was still there. or with what success, was as yet un- Let us now go back a little. Under known. Reports soon came in. The cover of the ridge on which Fort Sanenemy had first driven in the pickets in ders was built, Longstreet had formed front of Fort Sanders, and had then his columns for the assault. The men attacked our line, which was also obliged were picked men, the flower of his to fall back. The Rebels in our front, army. One brigade was to make the however, did not advance beyond the assault, two brigades were to support pits which our men had just vacated, it,* and two other brigades were to and a new line was at once established
* This statement is confirmed by the following exby Captain Buffum, our brigade officer
tract from Pollard's (Rebel) “ Third Year of the of the day.
War.” Speaking of this charge on Fort Sanders, It was now evident that the enemy
he says : “ The force which was to attempt an enterintended an attack. But where would
prise which ranks with the most famous charges in
military history should be mentioned in detail. It it be made ? All that long, cold night consisted of three brigades of McLaw's division :- our men were without overcoats - we that of General Wolford, the Sixteenth, Eighteenth, stood in the trenches pondering that
and Twenty-fourth Georgia Regiments, and Cobb's
and Phillip's Georgia Legions; that of General question. Might not this demonstra
Humphrey, the Thirteenth, Seventeenth, Twentytion in our front be only a feint to draw first, I'wenty-second, and Twenty-third Mississippi our attention from other parts of the
Regiments; and a brigade composed of General
and Bryant's brigades, embracing, line, where the chief blow was to be
among others, the Palmetto State Guard, the Fif.
watch our lines and keep up a constant morning laid on the brow of the hero fire. Five regiments formed the brigade of Fort Sanders, - Lieutenant Benjaselected for the assaulting column. min, Second United States Artillery. These were placed in position not more Longstreet had promised his men than eighty yards from the fort. They that they should dine that day in Knoxwere “in column by division, closed in ville. But, in order that he might bury mass.” When the fire of their artillery his dead, General Burnside now tenslackened, the order for the charge was dered him an armistice till five o'clock, given. The salient of the northwest It was accepted by the Rebel bastion was the point of attack. The general; and our ambulances were furRebel lines were much broken in pass- nished him to assist in removing the ing the abatis. But the wire entangle- bodies to his lines. At five o'clock, ments proved a greater obstacle. Whole two additional hours were asked, as the companies were prostrated. Benjamin work was not yet completed. At seven now opened his triple-shotted guns. o'clock, a gun was fired from Fort SanNevertheless, the weight of their col- ders, the Rebels responded from an umn carried the Rebels forward, and earthwork opposite, and the truce was in two minutes from the time the charge at an end. was commenced they had filled the The next day, through a courier who ditch around the fort, and were endeave had succeeded in reaching our lines, oring to scale the parapet. The guns, General Burnside received official nowhich had been trained to sweep the tice of the defeat of Bragg. At noon, a ditch, now opened a most destructive single gun we were short of ammunifire. Lieutenant Benjamin also took tion - was fired from Battery Noble in shells in his hand, and, lighting the fuse, our rear, and the men of the brigade, tossed them over the parapet into the standing in the trenches, gave three crowded ditch. One of the Rebel bri- cheers for Grant's victory at Chattanoogades in reserve now came up in sup- ga. We now looked for reinforcements port, and planted several of its flags on daily, for Sherman was already on the the parapet of the fort. Those, how- road. The enemy knew this as well as ever, who endeavored to scale the para- we, and, during the night of the 4th of pet were swept away by the fire of our December, withdrew his forces, and musketry. The men in the ditch, sat- started north. The retreat was discovisfied of the hopelessness of the task ered by the pickets of the Thirty-sixth they had undertaken, now surrendered. Massachusetts, under Captain Ames, They represented eleven regiments. who had the honor of first declaring the The prisoners, numbered nearly three siege of Knoxville raised. hundred. Among them were seventeen It would be interesting to recount the commissioned officers. Over two hun- facts connected with the retreat of the dred dead and wounded, including three Rebel army, and then to follow our colonels, lay in the ditch alone. The men to their winter quarters, among ground in front of the fort was also the mountains of East Tennessee, strewn with the bodies of the dead and where, throughout the icy season, they wounded. Over one thousand stands remained, without shoes, without overof arms fell into our hands, and the coats, without new clothing of any debattle-flags of the Thirteenth and Sev- scription, living on quarter rations of enteenth Mississippi and Sixteenth corn meal, with occasionally a handful Georgia. Our loss was eight men killed of four, and never grumbling; and and five wounded. Never was a vic- where, at the expiration of their three tory more complete ; and never were years of service, standing forth under brighter laurels worn than were that the open skies, amid all these discom
forts, and raising loyal hands towards teenth South Carolina Regiment, and the Fifty-first,
heaven, they swore to serve their counFifty-third, and Fifty-ninth Georgia Regiments." — pp. 261, 162.
try yet three years longer. But I must