I took a company with me, and after going about two and a half miles, I observed a large body of rebels ahead of us in the woods, awaiting our arrival. I ordered my men to deploy into the woods as skirmishers, and then received a volley of musketry from them, which I returned, and then finding they were surrounding me, I fell back gradually until I reached the reserve, always keeping one platoon in the woods as skirmishers, to prevent an attack. Receiving orders then to join the brigade as rapidly as possible, as the enemy was preparing to attack us in numbers, I took my position with General Newton, who had drawn up the brigade for action about half a mile behind where I was, or just outside the woods. The action commenced at nine o'clock A. M.--the enemy being posted in thick woods, and we endeavoring by manoeuvres to draw them out — and was maintained with great spirit and incessant firing until four o'clock P. M., when we succeeded in driving them from their position and in occupying the ground lately occupied by rebel hordes. The artillery worked beautifully, doing great execution. My own escape is wonderful, and, indeed, almost miraculous, and I forgot not to thank God for his watchfulness over me. It was about one o'clock P. M. when I received an order from Gen. Newton to go forward into the woods to ascertain whether the rebels were falling back, and whether a certain regiment of ours held its position there. I went forward at once as fast as my well-tried horse could carry me, and upon entering the woods moved cautiously until I reached a barricade, when hearing voices beside me I plunged into the woods, thinking, of course, it was one of our regiments--Thirty-first New-York--and was surprised to find that I had gone right into a perfect nest of the Hampton Legion, from South-Carolina, who were lying behind trees, standing behind bushes, and kneeling behind stumps like bees. I at once perceived my mistake, and knew that nothing but the most consummate coolness would save me. I therefore saluted them, and they, taking me for a rebel officer, asked me how far Gen. Hampton was then. I answered without hesitation, and with rather more assurance than I thought I possessed, “I left him about ten rods below here,” and added, “now, boys, the General expects you to do your duty to-day.” I then turned my horse slowly to lull suspicion, and was congratulating myself on the probable success of my ruse, when seeing the U. S. on my cap, they yelled out: “That's a d — n Yankee son of a b — h, give him h — l!” On hearing this, I dashed the spurs into my horse, threw my head over his neck, and made for the road. A perfect volley of Minie-balls passed over and around me — killed my horse, who rolled over carrying me with him, and left me down. Knowing that apparently nothing but time would save me, I lay with my head back in a ditch, as I fell, and appeared dead for some ten minutes. I did not move a muscle or a feature, although the-scoundrels were swarming around me, and threatening to “end me.” I remained in this way until they came up to me, took away my pistol, and commenced general plundering, and as they fingered away I could not suppress a smile — and then rising, I said: “Well, men, I yield as a prisoner of war.” They said: “You have been shamming, you d — d Yankee scoundrel, have you?” “Certainly,” said I, “everything is fair in war.” They then commenced to abuse me as a d — d Yankee this, and a d — d Yankee that, when I turned upon them, and said: “I have yielded as a prisoner of war, I demand to be used as such. We in the North know how to treat dogs better than you do men; now lead me to your commanding officer.” They gave me another volley of abuse, at which I merely smiled, and then a shell, fired by our artillery to the place where I was seen to enter, burst like the wind amongst us--skinning my nose and scattering the rebel rascals like chaff. They seized their muskets, pointed two of them at me, and told me to “come along, you d — d Yankee!” I still talked with them to gain time, when another shell bursting amongst us, they moved on further, calling to me to “come on,” while I said: “Go ahead, lead the way, quick.” I then saw a favorable moment, and preferring freedom to a Southern prison, I made one bound into the woods, and went back as fast as one leg would carry me. I felt very much exhausted, and was carried to the rear by some men and placed under a tree, when, with whisky and care, I soon felt stronger, although my leg was stiff. They wished me to go in an ambulance to hospital, but I politely declined, and calling for an extra horse, I was lifted on his back, and returned to the field and reported to Gen. Newton for duty. He kindly told me that I had distinguished myself enough this day, and requested me to keep quiet. Do you not think that this was a miraculous escape? My captors (Hampton Legion) were the most murderous looking body of villains I ever beheld, and as for honor and mercy, they know not the first principles of such excellent virtues. They are lost to all sense of honor, and should be used as dogs. Our men were brought in rapidly — many fine officers killed — and several men killed with Minie-balls and their throats cut from ear to ear! Savages themselves would blush at such barbarity. Gen. Newton conducted the engagement, Gen. Franklin arriving at twelve M. on the field. It was a beautifully planned battle, and they expected to drive us into the river. We had twenty thousand men against us, composed of Tennesseeans, Texan volunteers, Louisiana Tigers, Virginians, and Alabamians, beside the Hampton Legion. Our men fought like tigers, although they suffered severely. We are expecting to meet them again to-day, and will give them another chance at us. We are surrounded by them here, but we are bound to be in Richmond soon. Believe me, ever, your affectionate son,
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
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.