網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

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 impedec their course. Exasperated at this conduct, th officers of the Thirty-third threatened to shoot dow the entire Regiment if they did not return. The Colonel, who so ignobly deserted them, came a sat down among the privates of the Thirty-thi when one of them said to him, “Don't your Re ment need you? we have got all the officers want here." Upon this he picked himself up hastened to a hospital near by. He was afterw compelled to resign. The Regiment did.

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

[graphic]

146

FIGHTING AT CHARLES CITY CROSS-ROADS.

tinued until after night had enveloped friend and foe in darkness. General Smith appeared frequently riding along the line, regardless of the shells which were bursting all around him, and exhibiting as much nonchalance as if the occasior were nothing more than a militia training. Halt ing at one time in front of the Thirty-third, he said to them, “You are doing nobly; stay where you are until you get different orders.” He afterward remarked that the Regiment had “sustained its foi mer reputation.” While the battle was progressin a fierce engagement was also going on at Charle City Cross-Roads. The cheering of friend and fo could be easily distinguished as either side gaine any advantage.

About half-past eight o'clock in the evening ti enemy's fire slackened, and preparations were mai to resume the march. The Division stealthily wit drew, and were massed in a large field. The me were not permitted to return to the hillside ar secure their knapsacks, which contained letter likenesses, &c., but were speedily and quiet hurried away.

A picket line was left to deceive the enemy making them think that we still remained. In h an hour's time all preparations were completed, a the troops commenced marching. It was a mi solemn and impressive scene as the long colu moved away, winding over hill and through da The officers delivered their commands in a whisp and the men were not permitted to speak. I

HONORABLE MENTION OF OFFICERS.

147

artillery was drawn away by hand; one single Napoleon being left to fire upon the crossing, kept booming, booming all night long.

The woods adjoining the swamp were set on fire at our departure, casting a lurid flame over woodland and plain, and lighting up the country for miles around. An attack was expected every moment, and the snapping of a twig or cry of a night bird was sufficient to create an alarm. But no enemy appeared, and the solemn, noiseless march was continued. Colonel Taylor, in his report of this engagement at White Oak Swamp, said: “Major John S. Platner, and Captain Cole, of Company C, and Captain McNair, of Company F, rendered themselves conspicuous in their efforts to get the men into line of battle and under arms, where they nobly stood until relieved by the order to fall back." The following is an extract from a report subsequently made by General Davidson: “In compliance with special order No. 42, from 6th Army Corps, to forward any recommendations for promotion, and the names of the officers and men deserving reward for distinguished services, I have the honor to report as follows: Major John S. Platner, Captain James McNair, Company F, and Captain C. H. Cole, Company C, for gallant conduct at White Oak Swamp. Owing particularly to the efforts of these officers, the men were formed in perfect order, and enabled to hold their position under the terrific fire of the enemy."

[graphic]

148

THE ENEMY BAFFLED.

CHAPTER XVI.

The Enemy Out-generaled.- Arrival at Malvern Hills.—TH

Thirty-third assigned to Picket Duty.-Battle of Malvern.Arrival at Harrison's Landing.-General McClellan's Address.Building a Fort.-Slashing Timber.

So successfully had the pickets, who were left t cover the withdrawal, performed their part, that was not discovered by the enemy in time to pursu Before morning, however, a fresh danger encou tered the Division, which now constituted the rea of the army. Another portion of the enemy, unde Huger, had gained possession of the road ahea of us, thereby cutting off the retreat. Some, near exhausted by the arduous labors of the four da previous, were well nigh discouraged on receipt this intelligence. But General Smith was equal the emergency, and instead of pressing forward, some of his officers advised, and attempting to his way through to the river, seven miles dista he turned off, and making a circuit of twenty-t miles, completely eluded the foe.

In a conversation which occurred a few d afterwards, at Liberty Hall, between General Ja son and Surgeon Dickinson, of the Thirty-th

« 上一頁繼續 »