previous next


A brigade of Mississippi and Missouri rebels held the works, and greeted our advance with a galling fire. The abatis once cleared, and the way was clear. A charge was ordered, a cheer rang out full and round and lusty, and the work was done.

The enemy beat a rapid retreat toward the mountain, and plunged into the underbrush of that rugged, uneven slope, hotly pursued by the eager skirmishers.

Logan's troops were worn and jaded by the heat, but victory to the soldier is as an invigorating elixir to the invalid, and in the joy he feels the very flag seems to participate. Still the bullets and missiles are showered incessantly down. The artillery peals out its hoarse, heavy thunders, hurls down its withering hail, and the mountain seems a volcano more than ever.

Success has so invigorated and inspired the men that the heat and fatigue are forgotten, and no obstacle is too difficult to check or dishearten.

The only practicable line of retreat is by the ravine that I have referred to, and toward this the pursued and pursuers tend. Over rocks and through the brush, skirmishing all the way, the race continues along the slope. A party of our troops take possession of the ravine, and about a hundred rebels, who were thus cut off, were made prisoners.

It is found impossible to take a column through the thick-standing undergrowth, and Logan directed that the column be deployed in line of battle Lightburn holds the right, Giles A. Smith the centre, and Walcutt the left. In this order the men continue their tedious, tire — some ascent, crawling between and over rocks, and pulling themselves up at times by limbs and brush. The rebels loosen huge rocks and logs, that come crashing down the declivity with a noise like thunder. Many of the troops are crushed in this manner; but the line lag's not a moment.

Hanging above the foliage of the slope now, sent by an explosion, and curling and twirling aloft in the clear expanse, a light, gauze mantle of sulphur-smoke floats along the mountain side, through which at intervals can be seen glimpses of the colors that some daring fellow has planted on a massive rock, and then the welkin rings again with the glad shouts of the watchers from. below. A rumbling noise like thunder floats down the mountain again and again, and now saplings are bending before the shock of a heavy rock that the rebels from their rocky eyrie have hurled at the advancing line. The flag moves again. Upward, onward, is the cry, and as the firing grows in violence the shouts, groans and cheers lose identity and blend into a din. It was a spectacle that once seen could not be forgotten.

The painter's pencil may portray on canvas the contour of mountain, the mosaic of fields and forests in the valley below; may picture a rocky, abrupt slope, impassable cliffs, inequalities of the surface, a line of earthworks, a cannon, or a fort, but let any one see a battle as it rages, and see it in oil, and I care not what the genius of the artist, he will say, “it lacks the cheers and shouts of the combatants.” The action is the life and soul of a battle, the noise, the terrible clamor, the roar, the confusion, are all arts of a drama that loses its interest if it fails in one particular.

Parrhasius wanted for his picture of Prometheus “but a dying groan,” and without this he felt that he had failed. Walker, the famous army artist, whose pencil, like a magician's wand, reproduces on canvas scenes around which cluster and cling memories that will be historic, and float down to posterity, to be treasured and revered hundreds of years hence, can put on canvas every other detail of a battle; but without the ringing cheer, the exultant shout, the actual flutter of the flag, the swaying, surging line of battle; in a word, the action, the life, and the din, the conception falls far short of the reality.

Nearing the summit, just such an insurmountable facade of cliffs as opposed us at Rocky Face obstructs our path. The average perpendicular height of the precipice is thirty feet.

Along the verge of this the enemy had drawn a line of battle, and his troops, as we approached, hurled down rocks, clubs, blocks, and every conceivable species of missile that could do us injury, killing and maiming many.

Colonel Barnhill, of the Fortieth Illinois, had been ordered to go toward the summit as far as possible, and he determined to literally obey. At the head of his line along with the skirmishers, a conspicuous mark for the rebel sharp-shooters, he shared with his men every danger, and fell dead at the very base of the lofty palisade of rock that barred the way.

Though Logan failed to do what was allotted him, and in that did only what every portion of the line did, he only failed to do what was, from the very nature of things, an utter impossibility.

In one hour and a quarter from the time they marched out from their breastworks, Logan's troops had cleared two lines of abatis; carried a line of earthworks at a charge; followed the routed enemy up his rugged stronghold through a murderous cross-fire of artillery, and a storm of bullets; conquered every obstacle; planted the flag at the foot of an insurmountable array of cliffs — the very furthest approach to the summit; threw up defences of logs and stones, and to-day holds the line despite the stubbornest efforts of the enemy to dislodge him.

The losses of the Fifteenth corps will foot up over sixty prominent and gallant officers and four hundred men killed and wounded. Among the officers who fell in the assault, and whose loss will be deeply deplored, because irreparable, I find the following:

Colonel Rice, Fifty-seventh Ohio, mortally wounded; Colonel Parry, Fifty-fourth Ohio,

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.
Rocky Face (Georgia, United States) (1)
Missouri (Missouri, United States) (1)

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.
John A. Logan (4)
Robert J. Walker (1)
Walcutt (1)
Giles A. Smith (1)
Charles Rice (1)
Prometheus (1)
E. H. Parry (1)
Parrhasius (1)
J. A. J. Lightburn (1)
Barnhill (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: