previous next

[394] everybody that will listen to him. He means well, certainly: “Men of Kentucky, of Illinois, of Ohio, of Iowa, of Indiana, I implore you, I beg of you, come up now. Help us through two hours more. By all that you hold dear, by the homes you hope to defend, by the flag you love, by the States you honor, by all your love of country, by all your hatred of treason, I conjure you, come up and do your duty now!” And so on for quantity. “That feller's a good speaker,” was the only response I heard, and the fellow who gave it nestled more snugly behind his tree as he spoke.

I knew well enough the nature of the skulking animal in an army during a battle. I had seen their performances before, but never on so large a scale, never with such an utter sickness of heart while I looked, as now. Still, I do not believe there was very much more than the average per centage. It was a big army, and the runaways all sought the Landing.

Arrival of Gen. Buell.

Looking across the Tennessee we see a body of cavalry, awaiting transportation over. They are said to be Buell's advance, yet they have been there an hour or two alone. But suddenly there is a rustle among the runaways. It is! it is! You see the gleaming of the gun-barrels, you catch amid the leaves and undergrowth down the opposite side of the river glimpses of the steady, swinging tramp of trained soldiers. A division of Buell's army is here! And the men who have left their regiments on the field send up three cheers for Buell. They cheering! May it parch their throats, as if they had been breathing the simoon!

Here comes a boat across with a Lieutenant and two or three privates of the Signal Corps. Some orders are instantly given the officer and as instantly telegraphed to the other side by the mysterious waving and raisings and droppings of the flags. A steamer comes up with pontoons on board, with which a bridge could be speedily thrown across. Unaccountably enough, to on-lookers, she slowly reconnoitres and steams back again. Perhaps, after all, it is better to have no bridge there. It simplifies the question, takes escape out of the count, and leaves it victory or death — to the cowards that slink behind the bluffs as well as to the brave men who peril their lives to do the state some service on the fields beyond. Preparations go rapidly forward for crossing the division (Gen. Nelson's, which has the advance of Buell's army) on the dozen or so transports that have been tied up along the bank.

We have spent but a few minutes on the bluff, but they are the golden minutes that count for years. Well was it for that driven, defeated, but not disgraced army of Gen. Grant's that those minutes were improved. Col. Webster, Chief of Staff, and an artillery officer of no mean ability, had arranged the guns that he could collect of those that remained to us in a sort of semi — circle, protecting the Landing, and bearing chiefly on our centre and left, by which the rebels were pretty sure to advance. Corps of artillerists to man them were improvised from all the batteries that could be collected. Twenty-two guns in all were placed in position. Two of them were heavy siege-guns, long thirty-twos. Where they came from I do not know; what battery they belonged to I have no idea; I only know that they were there, in the right place, half a mile back from the bluff, sweeping the approaches by the left, and by the ridge Corinth road; that there was nobody to work them; that Dr. Cornyn, Surgeon of Frank Blair's old First Missouri artillery, proffered his services, that they were gladly accepted, and that he did work them to such effect as to lay out ample work for scores of his professional brethren on the other side of the fight.

Remember the situation. It was half-past 4 o'clock--perhaps a quarter later still. Every division of our army on the field had been repulsed. The enemy were in the camps of four out of five of them. We were driven to within little over half a mile of the Landing. Behind us was a deep, rapid river. Before us was a victorious enemy. And still there was an hour for fighting. “Oh! That night or Blucher would come!” Oh! that night or Lew. Wallace would come! Nelson's division of Gen. Buell's army evidently couldn't cross in time to do us much good. We didn't yet know why Lew. Wallace wasn't on the ground. In the justice of a righteous cause, and in that semi-circle of twenty-two guns in position, lay all the hope we could see.

Suddenly a broad, sulphurous flash of light leaped out from the darkening woods; and through the glare and smoke came whistling the leaden hail. The rebels were making their crowning effort for the day, and as was expected when our guns were hastily placed, they came from our left and centre. They had wasted their fire at one thousand yards. Instantaneously our deep-mouthed bull-dogs flung out their sonorous response. The rebel artillery opened, and shell and round-shot came tearing across the open space back of the bluff. May I be forgiven for the malicious thought, but I certainly did wish one or two might drop behind the bluff among the crowd of skulkers hovering under the hill at the river's edge.

Very handsome was the response our broken infantry battalions poured in. The enemy soon had reason to remember that, if not

Still in their ashes live the wonted fires,

at least still in the fragments lived the ancient valor that had made the short-lived rebel suecesses already cost so dear.

The gunboats open fire.

The rebel infantry gained no ground, but the furious cannonading and musketry continued. Suddenly new actors entered on the stage. Our Cincinnati wooden gunboats, the A. O. Taylor and the Lexington, had been all day impatiently chafing for their time to come. The opportunity was theirs. The rebels were attacking on our


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
D. C. Buell (6)
Lewis Wallace (2)
William Nelson (2)
J. D. Webster (1)
Major-Gen Grant (1)
Cornyn (1)
Blucher (1)
Frank Blair (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: