previous next

[608] passed (known as the Hill road, from Little Rock to Helena) was extremely rugged, and it was not without considerable difficulty, and great fatigue to the men, that we succeeded in getting within one mile of the enemy's intrenchments. At this point I found the road blockaded with fallen timber to such an extent, that I halted the brigade, of which I was temporarily in command, sent Captain Millar's company, which had been in advance, to the rear, and sent forward Captain P. G. Roper's company (A), deployed as skirmishers. General Fagan now arrived at the head of the column, and ordering all the field and staff officers to dismount, we moved forward as rapidly as possible towards the intrenchments — the skirmishers deployed on either side of the road, keeping well in advance of the main body. At five minutes past four o'clock A. M., my skirmishers reported the enemy in sight. By order of General Fagan I moved my regiment in double-quick by the right flank, along the crest of a hill running at right angles with the road, and parallel with the enemy's first line of intrenchments; and, without halting, so soon as my left had passed the road I moved by the left flank in line of battle towards the enemy. Without waiting for the other regiments of the brigade to form, I gave the order to charge, which was responded to by loud shouts along my entire line. The men dashed down the steep declivity amid a perfect storm of bullets, climbed step by step over vast piles of fallen timber, up the rugged sides of almost perpendicular hills, and finally, after unheard — of toil and fatigue, scaled the opposing height and drove the enemy in consternation from their first line of defences. Here I waited to recruit my men, whose strength was very much exhausted, and to give Colonel Bell time to form his regiment and move up on my left. As soon as Colonel Bell informed me that he was ready, our two regiments moved forward together, and after encountering and overcoming obstacles similar to and even greater than those in front of the first line of rifle-pits, drove the enemy out and took possession of their second line. Colonel King had, by order of General Fagan, under a heavy and constant fire, and after almost superhuman exertions, placed his regiment two or three hundred yards beyond my extreme right, partly in rear of the enemy's third line of intrenchments, and nearly at right angles with the position occupied by Colonel Bell's regiment and mine. I sent a courier to communicate with him, who returned with the gratifying intelligence that his regiment was in position, and was ready and anxious to charge the enemy. The three regiments now moved forward with a shout, and, notwithstanding the steep hillsides, covered with immense masses of fallen timber, up and over which we had to climb, and notwithstanding the perfect hail-storm of bullets which assailed us at every step, we soon drove the enemy out of his third line of defence. We soon rallied our exhausted troops, re-formed our broken lines, and again. charged the enemy, driving him from his fourth line of intrenchments. It was now about seven o'clock A. M. My regiment had been hotly engaged for nearly three hours. The men were completely exhausted. Numbers had fainted from excessive heat and fatigue. Many had been killed and wounded, and a large majority in each of our three regiments were utterly unable to fight any longer. We began to be discouraged. From the very commencement of the action we had been listening for the guns of Generals Price, Marmaduke, and Walker, but thus far we had listened in vain. Every brigade, except ours had failed to attack at daylight, as ordered. Even the very guns on Graveyard Hill were wheeled around and directed against our lines, which they swept again and again from one end to the other with grape and canister.

Just at this moment the scene changed. Heavy and rapid volleys of musketry were heard on our left. General Fagan announced to us that our friends were storming Graveyard Hill, and ordered us to move forward at once. Our men responded with a shout, dashed down into the deep ravine, climbed the steep sides of the opposite hill, and just as the noble brigades of Parsons and McRae swept in triumph across the face of Graveyard Hill, drove the enemy from his fifth and last line of rifle-pits back to his forts, and under cover of his siege guns. An attempt was now made by General Fagan to capture the fort on Hindman's Hill, which was immediately in our front. But our men were too much exhausted and our numbers too few. The attack was unsuccessful, and resulted in the death and capture of many valuable officers and men. It was here that Captain Walton Watkins, commanding Company D, of my regiment, was killed, while gallantly leading this last and most desperate charge. His conduct throughout the engagement had been chivalrous and manly, so much so as to attract universal attention and admiration. Here, also, I lost the services of Major John B. Cocke, who was severely wounded and compelled to retire from the field. It affords me much pleasure to bear testimony to the coolness, courage, and efficiency of this gallant officer. His services throughout that desperate fight were invaluable, and his absence was most keenly and sensibly felt. Lieutenants Richard Shaddock, Hinson, Hainard, and Thompson, were killed while bravely fighting at their posts.

But to return to the fight: Graveyard Hill was evacuated soon after it was taken. The other positions to the left of that hill, that were to have been taken at daylight, had not even been attacked. The firing had ceased at all points except the firing of our brigade, and that of our enemies directed against us. This latter was now most terrific, and the whole force of the enemy seemed to be directed against our little band. Yet, notwithstanding their vast superiority in numbers and position, notwithstanding the terrible withering fire that continued to pour upon us from their own ranks;


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)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Little Rock (Arkansas, United States) (1)
Hill, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: