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[244] gun had been drawn back to conceal it a little, and a sentinel sat on the brink of the hill to observe our movements and give notice to the gunners to bring forward the piece. The sharpshooters also could be seen, glaring intently out of their cover upon the opposite opening in the willows, where the ford was approached.

Our skirmish line was composed of about two hundred men, from several regiments; and a volunteer detachment of two hundred men from the Twenty-third and Twenty-fifth Michigan, One Hundred and Eleventh Ohio, and other regiments which had in their ranks many old Lake Erie sailors, were assigned to the use of the oars in the pontoons which were to carry over the first companies.

At half past 4 o'clock the little squad of skirmishers issue out of the woods which had concealed them perfectly, rush rapidly across the corn-field, and when they come close in the rear of the willows they begin pouring in a sharp fire upon the rebel gun on the hill, and keep it up without cessation. The sentinel is seen to leap up hastily and run to the rear, the gunners trundle out their gun in plain sight, and the Sergeant stoops to sight it. But it is in vain, the bullets whistle so thick about his ears, that after dodging a few moments from one side to the other, he gives up indespair, the lanyard is pulled, the shot plunges harmless in the middle of the river, and the rebel gunners all incontinently take to their heels and disappear in the woods. Our fellows keep up so hot a fire about it that no one dares to return. The shells from our batteries pour in around it, and the red clouds of Confederate dust that leap up show how fatal was their aim. A shell from one of the guns lands under the tree of sharpshooters; the glasses are quickly turned upon them, and they are discovered lying flat on the ground. The willows completely screen our brave boys, and they cannot fire a shot at them, but must hug the soil for dear life. Suddenly a pontoon boat filled with blue coats is seen nearing the opposite shore, then another, and another. As the first boat touches land, Captain Daniels, whose eye is rivetted to his glass, shouts, “They hold up their hands! they hold up their hands! they drop their guns! they run down the bank!” The shells have cut off their retreat; there is no other resource, and they come running down to the boats with uplifted hands in token of surrender, and yet crouching as if to shun a flying bullet.

The Twelfth Kentucky infantry is first over the river, they run rapidly up the hill, and three men, fully five rods in advance of all others, lay hands upon the gun in the name of the Government. With it they capture a caisson full of ammunition, two horses, two ducks, and the Captain's coat. They had left so hurriedly that they had not even spiked the piece. The gun and the accoutrements were very properly put into possession of these three men. Would I knew their names.

In thirty minutes after the stampede, Captain Daniels had reached the ford, swam his horse over behind a pontoon, and shaken out his flag in triumph on the opposite side of the Chattahoochee, where the rebels had threatened they would make so bloody a resistance.

Soon the pontoons had ferried over several regiments, who formed in line of battle at once on the top of the hill, but found no enemy. The bridge was rapidly laid, and the corps began to cross. It was necessary that all possible expedition should be used, as the enemy might learn of the movement in time to mass heavily upon the small force before others could cross to support it, and inflict much damage. To Colonel Buell, commanding the pontoon train, there is much due for the rapidity and good order with which the bridge was almost literally “flung” over the river.

There was not a man killed during the day, that I can learn of, nor so many as half a dozen wounded. So overwhelming and sudden was our firing that it took the rebels by surprise. They seem to have been entirely disconcerted, and they certainly have not made a more utter failure to carry out their fierce threats in any single case.

Soon after the troops began to cross, the corps below began to open a lively cannonade, doubtless with a view of attracting the enemy's attention away from us. Detached as this corps is, so far away from the others, I am unable to learn whether they have yet crossed over any forces or not; but if I am not greatly mistaken, the Twenty-third corps has crossed the first regiment of the army. True, they did not encounter strong forces in their front; but none could tell what they would find, and the gallantry of the men who rushed forward to man the pontoons in the face of these uncertainties, and those who ran up the hill with no others yet over to support them, when they may be met by a deadly fire from behind some screen, is worthy of all praise. How could they know but all this apparent panic and ridiculous fiasco might be but a blind to draw them on to their death? And when men are compelled thus to go upon suspense, and charge, it may be, upon lurking volleys which shall leave no one of them to return, it requires a stouter heart than to dash forward amid the roar and rattle of arms, and to meet a foe whom they can see. I have not known a more dramatic, brilliant, and at the same time bloodless episode, in this whole campaign than was enacted to-day by the command of General Schofield--so entirely successful, and so entirely without loss.


Isham's ford, Georgia, July 11, 1864.
The names of the three men mentioned as the first to take possession of the rebel gun unmanned by our sharpshooters, on the occasion of crossing the river, on the eighth, are James Vaught, Charles Miller, and James Carter. These all belong to company A, Twelfth Kentucky infantry, Bird's brigade, Cox's division, Twenty-third Army Corps.


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