A few minutes after we take the recumbent position, Captain Drury A. Hinton
, acting aid-de-camp to Colonel Weisiger
, walks along the line and directs the regimental officers
to instruct their men to reserve their fire until the enemy are reached.
As soon as Captain Hinton
passed down the line Captain Jones
stepped out in front of us, as we lay on the ground, and, with great coolness of manner, said: ‘Men, you are called upon to charge and recapture our works, now in the hands of the enemy.
They are only about one hundred yards distant. The enemy can fire but one volley before the works are reached.
At the command “forward” every man is expected to rise and move forward at a double quick and with a yell.
Every man is expected to do his duty.’
This short address, delivered under the gravest of circumstances, was impressive in the extreme, and well calculated to nerve up the men to do their best work.
The words and manner of the speaker sank deep in my memory.
How Captain Jones
came to deliver this address is explained in a letter written by him to General Mahone
from Oxford, Miss.
, under date of January 3, 1877:
‘On getting my regiment in position in the ravine your courier delivered me a message to report to you at the right of the brigade.
I went immediately, walking in front of the brigade, and found all of the other regimental commanders
before you when I arrived.
At that moment you gave the order to have the Georgia
brigade moved up rapidly to its position on the right of the Virginia
brigade, and then turning to the officers you delivered a stirring address to this effect: “The enemy have our works.”
The line of men which we have here is the only barrier to the enemy's occupying the city of Petersburg
There is nothing to resist his advance.
Upon us devolves the duty of driving him from his strong position in our front and re-establishing the Confederate
We must carry his position immediately by assaulting it. If we don't carry it by the first attack we shall renew the attack as long as there is a man of us left or until the works are ours.
Much depends upon prompt, vigorous, simultaneous movements.
I do not profess to give your words, but your address and orders were given with such peculiar emphasis and under such impressive circumstances that the sentiments were indelibly inscribed on my mind.
I at once placed myself in front of my command and had bayonets fixed; I explained to them the character of our work and perilous position of our army.’