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[488] it be known as the “Salamander brigade,” for it literally lives in fire.

They charged and took the battery which was doing so much damage, after a desperate struggle, piling the ground with dead. The Third Louisiana regiment, of this brigade, entered the fight with two hundred and thirty-eight men, and lost one hundred and eight in killed and wounded. The Third Texas fared about as badly. What a glorious brigade it is! The Fortieth Mississippi, I am proud to say, is in this brigade, and gallantly shared the glory of the day. The troops against which we were contending were Western men, the battery manned by Iowa troops, who fought bravely and well. Of the part borne by our brigade and regiment I will not speak, but leave to others the chronicle of our deeds. I know this, that the events of that evening have considerably increased my appetite for peace, and if the Yankees will not shoot at us any more, I shall be perfectly satisfied to let them alone. It was a terrible struggle, and we lost heavily, though victory was with us, as we drove the enemy from his chosen position, and slept at night within one hundred yards of their army, and beyond their line of battle in the evening. All night could be heard the groans of the wounded and dying of both armies, forming a sequel of horror and agony to the deadly struggle over which night had kindly thrown its mantle. Saddest of all, our dead were left unburied, and many of the wounded on the battlefield to be taken in charge by the enemy.

During the night the enemy were reenforced, and as our strength would not justify us in trying the issue of another battle, a retreat was ordered, and at daybreak next morning commenced a retreat for this place. As we marched through the town, the enemy began to shell, directing their aim, as we judged, at the headquarters of General Price, but the old hero was not at home, but on the road directing our march. The retreat, made in the face of a foe outnumbering us by odds, was, perhaps, more brilliant than a victory; and General Maury, whose division brought up the rear, deserves the highest honor for the skill and courage displayed under circumstances so perilous.

The enemy pressed our rear all day on the twenty-sixth, until General Maury placed a battery commanding the road, and as their cavalry closed upon us, sent a volley into their ranks, which settled the sardines of about sixty of them, and taught them caution the balance of the route. During the entire retreat we lost but four or five wagons, which broke down on the road and were left. Acts of vandalism disgraceful to the army were, however, perpetrated along the road, which made me blush to own such men as my countrymen.

Corn-fields were laid waste, potato-patches robbed, barn-yards and smoke-houses despoiled, hogs killed, and all kinds of outrages perpetrated in broad daylight and in full view of officers. I doubted, on the march up and on the retreat, whether I was in an army of brave men, fighting for their country, or merely following a band of armed marauders, who are as terrible to their friends as foes. I once thought General Bragg too severe in his discipline, but I am satisfied none but the severest discipline will restrain men upon a march.

The settlements through which we passed were made to pay heavy tribute to the rapacity of our soldiers, and I have no doubt that women and children will cry for the bread which has been rudely taken from them by those who should have protected and defended them. This plunder, too, was without excuse, for rations were regularly issued every night, and though the men did not get their meals as punctually as in camp, still there was no absolute suffering to justify such conduct, and it deserves the severest reprobation.

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