previous next

[236] and hold the little ground we did win. The losses in Newton's division will reach, I presume, at least eight hundred.

We left Davis' division, to which has been allotted a part in this sanguinary effort, sheltered by high ground, awaiting orders. At 9:20 A. M., leaving Morgan as reserve, with McCook on the left, formed in column of regiments, and Mitchell in the same order on the right, he uncovers his column, and moves through into the open fields. His appearance is the signal for the enemy's artillery that now opens from half a dozen points along his line. The troops take the double-quick, and, cheering lustily, sweep boldly across the intervening space. In advance of Mitchell's brigade the Thirty-fourth Illinois is deployed as skirmishers, with four companies in reserve. The rebel skirmishers deliver a volley and rapidly retire. A light abatis is encountered, but it offers slight resistance. Pushing through and on, the two columns descend into a hollow and are partially sheltered.

Here again the formation seemed to have proven defective. That this expedient, resorted to for the purpose of saving men, failed of its object, I have not the shadow of a doubt. The peculiar formation of the rebel lines, and the excellent judgment displayed by the rebels in planting their artillery, conspired to adduce a bloody proof of the futility of the plan. The men saw that the experiment was too costly, and long before they reached the hollow they had begun to deploy.

Here the lines were readjusted and the two columns summoning every energy and bracing every nerve, stood ready to close in a death-grapple for the works. The word is spoken, and, with a yell that has in it the evidence of soul to dare and earnest will to work, the men rush to the assault. A volley tears through our ranks and strews the ground with dead and dying. Over these, careless as to who is trampled, the furious followers rush headlong forward, and they, too, are numbered among the fallen. It was a spectacle full of sublimity. When I knew the fate of that charge my thoughts involuntarily reverted to that passage in Byron's description of Waterloo:

When this fiery mass of living valor,
     Rolling on the foe,
And burning with high hope,
     Shall moulder cold and low.

Colonel Daniel McCook, in the act of mounting the rebel parapet, was pierced by a ball that passed entirely through the left breast, and he was borne from the field. Colonel Harnun, of the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Illinois, a noble soldier and a popular officer, succeeded to the command. Dashing forward as the line, borne down by a mass of metal that threatened to sweep it from existence, was wavering, he raised his sword and was about to lead another charge, when a bullet struck him lifeless to the earth. Colonel Dilworth, of the Eighty-fifth Illinois was next in rank, and assumed command. Again and again did Dilworth and Mitchell lead their men to the enemy's works. Among the fearless spirits that on that day seemed as impervious to bullets as to fear is Colonel Banning, of the One Hundred and Twenty-first Ohio, a regiment of Colonel Mitchell's brigade. He apparently ignored his own safety, refused shelter when it offered, and busied himself in steadying and holding his line. If troops could be made invincible, I apprehend it could only be under such leaders as he.

To give you some idea of the desperate character of the struggle, the following facts will be ample data:

The One Hundred and Thirteenth Ohio, the regiment that led the column under Mitchell, lost ten officers out of nineteen.

Two men of the Thirty-fourth Illinois were left dead inside the enemy's works. The color-bearer of the Twenty-second Indiana--John Caton, of company F--carried his colors so near the works that a rebel cast a stone at him with such force as to fracture the skull. The same gallant fellow was struck by a bullet before being wounded in the head, and though it carried away his finger, he would not yield the flag, but bore it forward until struck down as I have mentioned. Captain Jack Kennedy, of the Eighty-fifth Illinois, was also dangerously wounded by a stone thrown from the rebel works. One of Colonel Mitchell's men was serously wounded in the leg by a pickaxe hurled by a burly foeman at our line. The bodies of two of Colonel Mitchell's men could be seen, after our withdrawal, hanging across the rebel breastworks. It was a day pregnant with heroic deeds, and the pen of the historian and the poet, the pencil of the painter, and the chisel of the artist, will yet find matter here for thought and labor.

The correspondent only regrets that his time and space are not commensurate with his desires. Hundreds of exemplary soldiers, who have performed deeds that would brighten any historic page, and stir a patriotic pride in the hearts of his loyal countrymen, will go down to death, each of whom deserves a place with him who is

Freedom's now and Fame's,
One of the few — the immortal names
That were not born to die.

The day of the battle was fearfully hot, and the dead and wounded lay side by side between the lines that were but thirty yards apart, while the vicious bullets whistled over them, from eleven o'clock in the day until early the following morning. The fighting on Davis' front lasted about an hour, during which time he sustained a loss of seven hundred and fifty men. Colonels Dilworth and Mitchell headed their brigades with the wisdom and dexterity of lifelong soldiers, and elicit hearty commendations. Colonel Daniel McCook won laurels to-day that all who love to be honored as a brave man and a competent leader cannot fail to envy.

Davis' division retired only to the shelter of a light knoll, when the men scooped with their hands dirt enough to shield their bodies until

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.
Waterloo, Ala. (Alabama, 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 G. Mitchell (8)
Daniel McCook (3)
Dilworth (3)
Jefferson C. Davis (3)
Newton (1)
Thomas J. Morgan (1)
Jack Kennedy (1)
Harnun (1)
Byron (1)
H. B. Banning (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: