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GEN. DAVIDSON SUN-STRUCK. 141
third, detailed to bury the dead, were nearly all taken prisoners. The Brigade remained until ten o'clock in the evening, the men falling asleep in their tracks, when it again moved to the rear, on the road previously taken, towards White Oak Swamp. Gen Davidson, who had been sun-struck during the afternoon, was borne along for some distance on a litter by members of the band. On being temporarily left by the road-side, the General stepped into a house close by, and a straggler happening along took his place. The men returning, took up the litter, and carried the straggler nearly a mile before discovering their mistake. They were very much chagrined over the "sell," but thought it too good a joke to keep.
142 A DREARY NIGHT MARCH.
A Tedious Night March.—White Oak Swamp.—Sudden Attack by the Enemy.—Narrow Escape of General Smith.—A Cowardly Colonel.
Col. Taylor succeeded to the command of the Brigade. The distance to the bridge was represented as being inconsiderable, and the troops plodded wearily along, congratulating themselves that they should soon reach a resting place; but hour after hour of the long night passed, and no bridge appeared. Owing to the darkness and confusion, the commands became mingled together, Regiments losing their Brigades, and soldiers their Regiments.
It was now the fourth night the men had been without sleep, which, together with the fearful excitement through which they had passed, exhausted their strength, and one after another sank down by the road side, knowing that the enemy would soon be along.
An hour before day the Brigade reached the bridge which crossed White Oak Swamp, when a scene ensued which baffles description. The structure was very narrow, and each Regiment pushed ahead pell-mell, in order to get over first. A Maj. General
CROSSING WHITE OAK SWAMP. 143
stood on the bridge and kept repeating: "For God's sake hurry up men." The enemy were pressing closely behind, and might make their appearance at any moment, rendering escape impossible. Already guards stood, with torch in hand, waiting the first signal of their approach to fire the structure, and thereby save those who had already crossed.
After anxiously waiting an hour, the Thirty-third succeeded in effecting a crossing, but many were found to be missing. A placard was posted up by the roadside directing such men as might afterwards come up, to the spot where the Regiment was located. General Smith temporarily established his head-quarters under a fruit tree, and sent out aids to hunt up his various Regiments. Those of Colonel Taylor's Brigade being got together, moved up, about six o'clock, on their way from the swamp, taking the road to Harrison's Landing. They proceeded, however, only a short distance, over the crest of a hill, and halting, formed in line of battle.
No signs of the enemy being visible, arms were stacked, and the men scattered in various directions—some to pitch tents, others to bring water or bathe themselves. Nearly all the stragglers had now got over, and about eleven o'clock the bridge was in flames. When the Thirty-third were receiving rations they were suddenly startled by the roar of fifty cannon and the appearance in their midst of shot and shelL Under cover of the dense wood on the opposite side of the swamp the enemy had planted their batteries, in close proximity to us, and
144 SUDDEN ATTACK BY THE ENEMY.
obtained perfect range of our forces. So accurate was their aim that the first shell burst in the dwelling occupied by General Smith, cutting the grayhaired owner in two just as he was leaving the house. The same shell disabled Lieutenant Long, knocked down Lucius Beach of Company C, and killed a Southern laborer who was standing close by. General Smith was changing his clothes at the time, and lost his watch. He coolly walked away from the house, but one of his aids, darting away from him, ran bareheaded through the Regiment like mad, and getting behind a tree, hugged it closely during the rest of the cannonade. A momentary panic followed this sudden attack of the enemy, and it required the most strenuous exertions on the part of officers to restore order in the ranks. Those who fled to the rear were brought back at the point of the bayonet. A Regiment stationed in front of Col. Taylor's was thrown into the greatest confusion, and, following the example of their leader, rushed back headlong, sweeping down those who impeded their course. Exasperated at this conduct, the officers of the Thirty-third threatened to shoot down the entire Regiment if they did not return. Their Colonel, who so ignobly deserted them, came and sat down among the privates of the Thirty-third, when one of them said to him, "Don't your Regiment need you? we have got all the officers we want here." Upon this he picked himself up and hastened to a hospital near by. He was afterwards compelled to resign. The Regiment did some A DARING TROOPER. 145
splendid fighting at Antietam, under a new leader. The soldiers all fell flat on the ground, thereby escaping the shells, which ploughed through the top of the crest, or, clearing it, struck in the marsh beyond. Occasionally one would burst directly over their heads, causing some loss of life. After remaining under this fire for half an hour, Colonel Taylor withdrew his Brigade to the edge of the woods, and formed them in line of battle. Maj. Platner, who was now in command of the Regiment, was ordered to report to General Hancock, who stationed him on the extreme right of the line, remarking as he did so, "Major, you have the post of honor; hold the position at all hazards, and add new laurels to those already won by the Thirty-third." The firing still continued very heavy, the enemy making several attempts to cross the swamp, but they were repulsed each time. The bridge had been burned before their arrival. Several cavalrymen, however, succeeded in getting over. Lieutenant Hills, who had been sent to the top of the crest to watch the movements of the enemy, observed one of these horsemen capture five Union soldiers. They were lying behind a fence, and when he rode up and ordered them to surrender the cowards yielded, though having guns in their hands. The daring trooper likewise rode fearlessly towards Lieutenant Hills, and shouted to him to surrender. Let the scoundrel come on if he wants to, said Captain Cole, who had come up, which remark intimidated him, and he galloped rapidly away. The cannonading con