previous next

[675] foe. For particulars of this charge I would respectfully refer you to the report of Colonel J. G. Vail, commanding Seventeenth Indiana volunteers. Great credit is due Colonel White, and the men under his command, for their bravery and gallant conduct, and although repulsed by the immensely superior force of the enemy, there is no doubt but this charge contributed greatly to the demoralization which soon after ensued in the rebel ranks, and caused them to retreat in the utmost confusion, as soon as an attack was made by General Upton's division, which arrived about this time on a road to the left of where we were moving. Finding there was a heavier force than we expected, by the direction of General Long, my brigade was placed in line, the Seventeenth Indiana volunteers on the right, One Hundred and Twenty-third Illinois volunteers the right centre, Ninety-eighth Illinois volunteers the left, and Seventy-second Indiana volunteers the left centre, and moved forward as rapidly as possible; but the ground being very rough and broken we were unable to overtake the enemy, who was rapidly retreating, and we were ordered to remount and move forward on horse-back. Our loss in this engagement was one officer and seven men killed, one officer and fourteen men wounded, and five men missing. We captured one twelve-pounder brass piece, a number of small arms, which were broken up, and secured about thirty prisoners.

We camped that night near Plantersville, and on the second instant moved at half-past 6 A. M. in rear of the Second brigade, and arrived in front of the works of Selma, on the Summer-field road, northwest of the city about three o'clock P. M.

By direction of the general commanding the division I formed my brigade on the left of the Second brigade and battery, with the Ninety-eighth Illinois volunteers on the right, Seventeenth Indiana volunteers in the centre, and One Hundred and Twenty-third Illinois volunteers on the left, and skirmishers were thrown forward to engage the attention of the enemy; four companies of the Seventy-second Indiana volunteers had been detailed to take charge of the division pack-train, five additional companies were detailed to picket the roads in our rear, leaving only one company of this regiment, which was dismounted and held in reserve. Soon after forming on this line four companies were detailed from the Ninety-eighth Illinois volunteers to go in pursuit of a rebel wagon train, for particulars of which expedition I would respectfully refer you to report of Lieutenant-colonel Kitchell, commanding Ninety-eighth Illinois volunteers. We remained in position skirmishing with good effect until the arrangements for the attack had been completed, when I moved my brigade by direction of General Long, by the right flank, past the Second brigade, and formed my line on the right in a ravine and under cover of a hill. My line was formed with the Seventeenth Indiana volunteers on the right, Ninety-eighth Illinois volunteers, six companies, in the centre, and One Hundred and Twenty-third Illinois volunteers on the left, connecting with the Second brigade. The Ninety-eighth and One Hundred and Twenty-third Illinois volunteers were formed in single rank, and the Seventeenth Indiana volunteers was formed in double rank, with instructions to deploy to the right as soon as the nature of the ground would permit a single rank formation. While forming this line the enemy kept up a rapid fire from his artillery, which, although well directed, did very little damage.

The works to be carried consisted of a heavy line of earthworks from eight to twelve feet high, and fifteen feet in thickness at the base, with a ditch in front four feet wide and five feet deep, partly filled with water, and in front of this ditch a stockade or picket of heavy posts placed firmly in the ground five feet high, and sharpened at the ends. There were also four heavy forts with artillery mounted, and covering the ground over which we had to advance. The ground was rough, with a fence and deep ravine to cross before reaching the works. The men fully understood the difficulties before them, but there was no flinching, and all seemed confident of their ability to accomplish whatever should be ordered.

About five o'clock the charge was ordered and the whole line moved. promptly forward. As soon as we uncovered the hill, about six hundred yards from the earthworks, the enemy opened a rapid and destructive fire of musketry and artillery upon the line, but it moved steadily forward until within short range, when a rapid fire was opened from our Spencer rifles, and with a cheer the men started for the works on the run. They swept forward in a solid line over the fence, across the deep ravine, over the pickets of the stockade and the works with resistless force. The enemy fought stubbornly, many of them clubbing their guns upon us as we were climbing the works, but they were compelled to retreat. I was wounded before reaching the works, and being unable to proceed farther, I sent word to Colonel J. G. Vail, Seventeenth Indiana volunteers, to take command of the brigade, but I had the satisfaction of seeing my men beyond the works before I was removed from the field.

It would be impossible for me to mention individual acts of bravery in either officers or men, as I would have to mention every one engaged. All the regiments did equally well, and the work accomplished shows for itself. I instructed the men before starting on the charge that the works were to be taken, and knew they would do it. No one faltered, and I am proud to say that they have never failed to do the work assigned them, however difficult or hazardous, and the history of the war will not show another instance where such formidable

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.
Selma (Alabama, United States) (1)
Plantersville (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.
J. G. Vail (2)
Eli Long (2)
Frank White (1)
E. Upton (1)
E. Kitchell (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.
2nd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: