previous next

[347] entrenchments were upon ridges beyond the town, approaching the river only on the right and left flanks, so that the fire of Porter's mortar fleet was mainly effective upon the private dwellings, and the women, the children, and other non-combatants.

The hills on which the city is built are of a tenacious calcareous clay, and caves were dug in these to shelter the women and children, many of whom resided in them during the entire siege. From these places of refuge, heroically facing the danger of shells incessantly bursting over the streets, gentlewomen hourly went forth on the mission of humanity to nurse the sick and the wounded, and to soothe the dying of their defenders who were collected in numerous hospitals. Without departing from the softer character of their sex, it was often remarked that, in the discharge of the pious duties assumed, they seemed as indifferent to danger as any of the soldiers who lined the trenches.

During the 20th, 21st, and the forenoon of the 22d, a heavy fire of artillery and musketry was kept up by the besiegers, as well as by the mortar boats and gunboats in the river. On the afternoon of the 22d preparation was made for a general assault. The attacking columns were allowed to approach to within good musket range, when every available gun was opened with grape and canister, and our infantry, ‘rising in the trenches, poured into their ranks volley after volley with so deadly an effect that, leaving the ground literally covered in some places with their dead and wounded, they [the enemy] precipitately retreated.’ One of our redoubts had been breached by their artillery previous to the assault, and a lodgment made in the ditch at the foot of the redoubt, on which two colors were planted. General Stevenson says in his report:

The work was constructed in such a manner that the ditch was commanded by no part of the line, and the only means by which they could be dislodged was to retake the angle by a desperate charge, and either kill or compel the surrender of the whole party by the use of hand-grenades. A call for volunteers for this purpose was made, and promptly responded to by Lieutenant-Colonel E. W. Pettus, Twentieth Alabama Regiment, and about forty men of Waul's Texas Legion. A more gallant feat than this charge has not illustrated our arms during the war. The preparations were quietly and quickly made, but the enemy seemed at once to divine our intentions, and opened upon the angle a terrible fire of shot, shell, and musketry. Undaunted, this little band, its chivalrous commander at its head, rushed upon the work, and, in less time than it required to describe it, the flags were in our possession. Preparations were then quickly made for the use of handgrenades, when the enemy in the ditch, being informed of our purpose, immediately surrendered.

From this time forward, although on several occasions their demonstrations seemed to indicate other intentions, the enemy relinquished all idea of assaulting

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.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
— Waul (1)
R. Randolph Stevenson (1)
D. D. Porter (1)
E. W. Pettus (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
22nd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: