One of our men happened to be riding by so near that the fellow almost touched him with his sleepy head as he popped it out between the curtains, and, startled by it into instinctive selfdefence, promptly put an end to him, so that the poor wretch never got really well awake at all. It was much to be regretted, but the moral is, it is a bad thing to sleep too late in the mornings.
It was not long before the entire camp was in our possession, those who had not fled to the cover of the infantry or sought refuge in a swamp hard by having been slain or captured.
The herd and its official leader had been from the outset completely demoralized, and the heroism of individuals could not redeem the situation.
It only remained to hold what had been gained, but that was the difficulty.
If it had not been for overwhelming masses of infantry near at hand Kilpatrick
's corps, as an organized body, would have never again existed.
Most of our men were dismounted and thrown forward as infantry to hold the ground until the captured horses, artillery and wagons could be removed or destroyed.
The programme had been for a portion of Wheeler
's command to attack the camp on our right as soon as the firing indicated to them that the ball was opened, but owing to the swampy nature of the ground after the rain, and other reasons not necessary to mention, they unfortunately did not come up in time to answer the purpose intended.
At length portions of the scattered Federal cavalry began to take heart and rally under the wing of their infantry, and it became necessary for our command to withdraw before the pressure of the latter.
We carried away many hundred prisoners (nearly as many as the entire attacking force), and numbers of horses, among them three of Kilpatrick
's private mounts, the gallant black already alluded to, a piebald, and a bay. When we had retired it was practicable for that General to return to his headquarters, which he had left in the rather abrupt manner that I have attempted to describe.
Thus terminated an affair which, as far as I know, has not been recorded, or even dignified by a name; yet it was not without brilliancy in conception and romantic dash in execution, and its results failed of being decisive simply from the vast disproportion of numbers.
If it had occurred in the first
American war for independence its achievements would have been chronicled with flourishes of the historic pen, and it might have supplied a theme for many a fervid centennial speaker.
Some weeks afterwards, when Johnston
's army had been disbanded,