struggle was hopeless, and that if we fought on as we had determined to do, death was the inevitable end. That was my conviction, and I believe it accounts for the fact that I volunteered to go on the errand which I undertook that night.
About two o'clock word was passed down from the head of the column to stop the singing, and for the entire column to move in silence.
When we heard the order, we knew we were coming close to the foe. About four o'clock we were again halted, and another message was started at the head of the column and came back down the line in a low tone, for it was the custom on night marches, on account of the darkness and the crowded condition of the roadway, to transmit orders in this fashion.
An aide or courier could not get through the crowded highway or ride through the thick underbrush and woods on either side.
The message was, in effect, a call for a volunteer to go on a special errand.
My messmate, Lieutenant Jack Weatherley
, who was killed soon after at Big Shanty, rode with me to the head of the column where, in the darkness, I made out a number of men, presumably officers and aides, some mounted and some on the ground.
The general in command — Wheeler
— asked if I were willing to go inside the foe's lines.
I replied I would go provided I could wear my uniform, but not as a spy. He said: “You can go as you are. I want you to find a detachment of cavalry which has been sent around the right of the enemy's lines, and which by this time should be in their rear, about opposite our present position.
It is important that they be found and ordered not to attack, but to rejoin this column by the route which they have already traveled.
In order to reach them,” he added, “you will proceed upon a road which leads through the enemy's lines, and should bring you in contact with their pickets about one mile from this point.”
The message was entirely verbal.
I carried nothing but one army six-shooter.
, Colonel Hambrick
, in command of our regiment at the time, and a guide