ice. As the indomitable Mississippians
struggled to make their way over this barrier, they were under a heavy fire of artillery and musketry from all points of the works; and hand-grenades, billets of wood, axes, and all sorts of missiles were hurled over the parapet, killing and mangling them.
The pickets soon silenced the artillery and sharpshooters on the south, but a raking fire continued from the west side.
The storming party had with them no ladders or fascines; so, leaping into the ditch, they bridged it with their bodies while their comrades, scrambling over their shoulders, planted the battleflags of the Fourteenth and Seventeenth Mississippi and the Sixteenth Georgia upon the parapets.
But every man who rallied to them was either killed, wounded or captured.
The fight lasted but forty minutes, but it was as gallant and heroic an assault as was made during the four years war. As General Alexander
has said: ‘Nowhere in the war was individual example more splendidly illustrated than on that fatal slope and in that bloody ditch.’
was killed at the head of his regiment, and Lieutenant-Colonel Fiser
, commanding the Seventeenth, lost an arm while endeavoring to scale the parapet.
Five other officers were killed and eight wounded among the Mississippians.
The total loss of the Thirteenth and Seventeenth was 140 killed, wounded and captured. After this bloody struggle the two regiments fell back behind the pickets, the Thirteenth rallying under Major Donald
and Captain Brown
, and the Seventeenth under Captain Wright
and Lieutenant Greene
in his official report commended the courage and energy of General Humphreys
, and recommended him for promotion; and as one among the best and bravest men whom the country had to mourn, mentioned the brave Colonel McElroy
, ‘a man of very fine courage, united to a self-possession on all occasions, with a knowledge of his duties and a natural capacity for command which inspired confidence and made him always ’