It was at this time that an officer rode up to Gregg
, with a message from General Hill
, asking if he could hold the position any longer; and then was his famous reply, that his ammunition was exhausted, but ‘he thought he could still hold his position with the bayonet.’
And this was absolutely true.
The ammunition we had carried into action had been expended for some time; and it was one of the cruelties of our position, that before the Infirmary corps were allowed to help a wounded man, before his wound was looked at, he must be stripped of his accoutrements, and his ammunition distributed among his comrades.
This economy, and the ammunition we got from the dead and wounded of our assailants, had enabled us to carry on the fight.
I have always wished that the scene which followed General Gregg
's message could be painted by some great artist able to do it justice.
Having sent word to Hill
that he had no ammunition, but would hold the position with the bayonet, General Gregg
drew up the remnants of his five regiments, now reduced to a mere handful, in two lines, the Twelfth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth in one line, in front, under Lieutenant-Colonel Simpson
, of the Fourteenth, (now the honored Chief-Justice
of the State
) and the First and Rifles under my command, as a second line, behind the First.
All the other field officers, except Lieutenant-Colonel Jones
, of the Twelfth, had by this time been killed or wounded.
We were upon the top of the hill, the point to which we had been driven back by Kearney
, some two or three hundred yards from the railroad excavation.
Here General Gregg
formed us to await the assault of the enemy, whose cheers we heard as they were ordered forward.
1 can see him now, as with his drawn sworn, that old Revolutionary scimitar we all knew so well, he walked up and down the line, and hear him as he appealed to us to stand by him and die there.
‘Let us die here, my men, let us die here.’
And I do not think, my comrades, that I exaggerate when I say that our little band responded to his appeal, and were ready to die, at bay, there if necessary.
The moment was, indeed, a trying one—a trying one to men who had shown themselves no cowards that day. We could hear the enemy advancing, and had not a round with which to greet them, but must wait the onslaught with only our bayonets.
On they came.
They had nearly reached the railroad, and were about to cross to the charge when a shout behind paralyzed us with dread.
Was all the glorious fight we had made that livelong day to end in our capture