Southern Historical Society Papers.
Vol. XVIII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1890.
The battle of the Crater, July 30, 1864.
An Address delivered before the A. P. Hill Camp of Confederate Veterans, of Petersburg, Va., in that city, on the 24th of June, 1890.General William Mahone's brigade, to take part in the memorable engagement known as ‘The Battle of the Crater,’ and it is now proposed to give some account of the action—to tell a war story from the standpoint of a high private in the rear rank, supplementing information within my personal knowledge with some material drawn from other sources believed to be reliable—this being necessary to a proper understanding of what will be told. On Saturday morning, the 30th of July, 1864, when the mine under the angle in the Confederate's works around Petersburg, known as ‘Elliott's sailent,’ was exploded, blowing up, or burying under the debris of earth and timber, between two hundred and fifty and three hundred officers and men occupying the works at this point, making therein a huge chasm, described in the report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War as ‘from 150 to 200 feet in length, about 60 in width, and from 25 to 30 feet in depth, and aptly called “a crater,” from its resemblance to the mouth of a volcano, Mahone's brigade was occupying the breastworks on the Willcox farm, immediately south of our city’—say about a point which would be reached by a prolongation of Adams street. The site of the ‘Crater,’ as is well known probably to all now present, is east of the Jerusalem plankroad  and about half a mile southeast from Blandford Cemetery, being located a short distance beyond our city limits, in the county of Prince George, on the farm of Mr. T. R. Griffith. Some time during the night preceding the explosion, our brigade received orders to be ‘ready to move at a moment's warning,’ which, of course, indicated that something was expected requiring a movement of the command. It was well understood that the enemy were mining somewhere on our line, but exactly at what point was not known. A counter-mine was made by the Confederates several hundred yards to the right of the Crater, near the point at which the Confederate breastworks cross the Jerusalem plank-road, as may be seen at this time. At the Elliott salient a counter-mine was begun, but was abandoned for want of proper tools. The explosion took place between daybreak and sunrise (4:44 A. M. was the exact time), and the impression made upon those hearing it may be likened to that of a nearly simultaneous discharge of several pieces of artillery. The concussion of the atmosphere was unusual. We were all soon in the breastworks. Something extraordinary, we knew, had happened. Soon a report came down the line from the direction of the scene of action that a mine had been exploded and a part of our works blown up and was occupied by the enemy. A little after six o'clock, when the Crater had been in the enemy's possession for more than an hour, a staff officer rides rapidly past us; General Mahone's headquarters, which were at the Branch House, just west of the Willcox farm, is the point of destination of this staff-officer, who is Colonel Charles S. Venable, aide-de-camp to General Lee. Colonel Venable is bearing a message to General Mahone, who was then, as he had been since the wounding of General Longstreet at the battle of the Wilderness, in command of Anderson's division, which was composed of the brigades of General William Mahone (Virginians), General A. R. Wright (Georgians), General J. C. C. Saunders (Alabamians), General N. H. Harris (Mississippians), and General Joseph Finegan (Floridians). The message borne to General Mahone is to send at once two of his brigades to the support of General Bushrod R. Johnson, who commanded that part of the Confederate lines embracing the works now in the enemy's hands. Very soon, under orders received, the men of Mahone's brigade of Virginians and Wright's brigade of Georgians, began to drop back from their places in the breastworks, one by one, into the cornfield in  their rear, and, when they were well out of sight of the enemy, the line was formed and the two brigades marched to the Ragland House,1 were there halted, and the men were directed to divest themselves of knapsacks, blanket-rolls and other baggage; an order which to the veteran plainly bespoke serious work, and that in the near future. In a written statement made by Colonel Venable in 1872, referring to the carrying of the message from General Lee to General Mahone, he says: ‘He sent me directly to General Mahone (saying that to save time the order need not be sent through General A. P. Hill), with the request that he would send, at once, two of the brigades of his division to the assistance of General Johnson. I rode rapidly to General Mahone's line, and delivered my message. He immediately gave orders to the commanders of the Virginia and Georgia brigades to move to the sailent and report to General Johnson. The troops moved promptly, the Virginia brigade (General Weisiger) in front. We rode on together, at the head of the column, General Mahone giving instructions to his officers and inquiring as to the condition of things at the sailent. When we reached the peach orchard, in rear of the Ragland House, noticing that the men were encumbered with their knapsacks, he halted the column, and caused both brigades to put themselves in battle trim. While the men were throwing aside their knapsacks he turned to me and said: “I can't send my brigades to General Johnson—I will go with them myself.” He then moved the column towards the opening of the covered way, which led to the Crater salient. I left him at this point to report to General Lee, who, meantime, had come to the front. I found him sitting with General Hill, among the men in the lines, at a traverse near the River salient. When I told him of the delivery of the message, and that General Mahone had concluded to lead the two brigades himself, he expressed gratification.’ Leaving the Ragland House, we marched along the edge of the hills skirting Lieutenant Run to New Road, or Hickory street, and entered this road a hundred or two more yards east of the brigade, then marched westwardly to within a few yards of the bridge over this run, and then filed northwardly down the ravine on the east side of  the run to Hannon's (now Jackson's) old ice-pond; here entered a military foot-path leading along the pond eastward to the head of the pond; thence filed eastwardly up a ravine along the same military foot-path to the Jerusalem plank-road. We are now at a point a few feet from the southwestern corner of the Jewish cemetery of to-day, and the position of the foot-path in this ravine along which we came is yet plainly marked. At the plank-road we are halted and counter-march by regiments, thereby placing each regiment with its left in front. Here we see on the roadside, General Mahone, with other officers, dismounted, their horses standing near by. Mahone had then reported to General Beauregard at the headquarters of General Johnson, which were at the old house, which, until a few years ago, stood on the crest of the hill a short distance northwest from the northwest corner of Blandford Cemetery and near the road leading southwardly up the hill to the cemetery. It was now about half-past 8 o'clock, and the enemy were just as they had been for nearly four hours, in quiet occupation of the Crater, with about one hundred and fifty yards of our breastworks to the south and some two hundred yards of these works to the north of the Crater, reaching down to the foot of the hill on the north side. To these limits on either side the Confederates occupying the lines north and south of the Crater confined them. General Mahone, having had the regiments counter-march at the Jerusalem plank-road, goes ahead along the covered way leading directly across the road, southeastwardly to the ravine in rear and west of the Confederate works now occupied by the enemy. Ascending the little knoll at the point where the ravine is entered by another smaller ravine or gully, into which the zig-zag covered way led and terminated, he sees the Confederate works filled to overflowing with Federal troops, and, counting eleven regimental flags, estimates the Federal force in possession as at least 3,000 men. The situation is an extremely grave one. His own little force of two brigades, then approaching in the covered way, if assailed in this position, would be inevitably cut to pieces and destroyed. So Mahone orders Courier J. H. Blakemore to go at once back and bring up the Alabama brigade (Saunders') to come by the same route which the Virginia and Georgia brigades had taken. Whilst General Mahone is at the knoll surveying the enemy and arranging for the attack, we are cautiously approaching the ravine along the covered way. At the angles, where the enemy could see a moving column with ease, the men are ordered to run quickly by,  one man at a time; which was done for the double purpose of concealing the approach of a body of troops and of lessening the danger of passing rifle balls at these exposed points. I should have mentioned that there was constant shelling as we moved along our route from the breastworks at Willcox's farm, but we were well protected by the shelter of intervening hills. As we passed the Hannon pond, I remember seeing a solid shot, or shell, fired from one of the enemy's guns, descend into the water but a few feet from our moving line. Arriving at the ravine, we found General Mahone standing near the mouth of the gully into which the covered way led and along which we were filing into the ravine, now and then exchanging word of encouragement with some passing officer or man in the ranks.2 In this ravine are some artillery men, with one or more mortars in position; and I have a strong impression that I saw, skirting the slope of the hill, a slight line of breastworks which looked as if it had been made that morning for temporary shelter by men working with their bayonets. Soon the line of battle is formed; the Twelfth Virginia on the left of the brigade, the Sixth Virginia on the right, the brigade sharpshooters on the right of the Sixth. The middle regiments were the Sixteenth, the Forty-first and Sixty-first—the Sixty-first being the centre regiment. On the field to-day may be seen a tree that marks the position of the right of this line of battle. The line formed, we advanced some twenty yards up the slope of the hill and lie flat on our faces. In this position we are concealed from the view of the enemy, now two hundred yards in our front. Our brigade is under the command of Colonel D. A. Weisiger, colonel of the Twelfth, whilst the Twelfth is commanded by Captain Richard W. Jones, the Sixth by Colonel George T. Rogers, the Sixteenth by Captain L. R. Kilby, the Forty-first by Major William H. Etheridge, and the Sixty-first by Lieutenant-Colonel William H. Stewart. The sharp-shooters are commanded by Captain Wallace  Broadbent. 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 lines. 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.’  ‘The works are only one hundred yards distant,’ said Captain Jones—a fortunate mistake. They were, in point of fact, two hundred yards distant.3 ‘The enemy can fire but one volley before the works are reached.’ A timely reminder was this, as, whilst advising the men of the gravity of the situation, it warned them of the great importance of a quick movement towards the foe.4 Let me here mention an incident: Lying next on my right was a young friend, Emmet Butts, a member of the bar of our city. His proper position was on my left. Having a superstitious belief that the safest place for a man in battle is generally his proper place, I said to my friend, ‘Emmet, suppose we change places? I am in yours, and you in mine.’ ‘Certainly,’ was his reply, with a pleasant smile; and we then changed places. I never saw the poor fellow alive afterwards. Soon after reaching the works he fell, his forehead pierced with a minnie ball. Immediately after Captain Jones delivered his address the expected command, ‘forward,’ was given-by whom I could not of my personal knowledge say. Each man sprang to his feet, and moved forward, as commanded, at a double-quick, and with a yell. The line was about one hundred and fifty yards in length when it started forward, but with the men moving at slightly different paces and lengthening out a little on the right as the right regiments and sharp-shooters obliqued to the right towards the crater, before we were half across the field, the line had probably lengthened a hundred or two feet, and widened to twenty feet or more, and the men thus moving forward with open ranks, no spectacle of war could well have been more inspiriting than the impetuous charge of this column of veterans, every man of whom appreciated the vital importance of getting  to the works and closing with the enemy in the quickest possible time—every man feeling that to halt or falter for a moment on the way was fatal. The charge was probably as splendid as any of which history has made record. Just as we were well over the brow of the hill, I cast my eyes to the right, and I will ever carry a vivid impression of the rapid, but steady and beautiful, movement of the advancing line of some 800 men—the greater part of whom, being to my right, were within the range of my vision—as our five Virginia regiments, their five battle flags, borne by as many gallant color-bearers, floating in the bright sunlight of that July morning, and the battalion of sharpshooters double-quicked across the field they were unconsciously making famous. A Federal soldier thus describes the charge: ‘The second brigade had hardly raised their heads when the cry broke out from our men, “The rebels are charging. Here they come.” Looking to the front I saw a splendid line of gray coming up the ravine on the run. Their left was nearly up to the bomb-proofs, and their line extended off into the smoke as far as we could see. They were coming, and coming with a rush. We all saw that they were going straight for the Second brigade.’5 Getting within ten paces of the ends of the little ditches or traverses, which led out perpendicularly from the main trench of our breastworks some ten or fifteen paces, to my surprise I saw a negro soldier getting up from a recumbent position on the ground near my feet. He was the first colored soldier I ever saw, and this was my first knowledge of the fact that negro troops were before us. I had not then fired my rifle, and I might easily have killed this man, but regarding him as a prisoner, I had no disposition to hurt him. Looking then directly ahead of me, within thirty feet of where I stood, I saw in the trench of the breastworks crowds of men, white and black, with arms in their hands, as closely jammed and packed together as we sometimes see pedestrians on the crowded sidewalk of a city, and seemingly in great confusion and alarm. I distinctly  noticed the countenances and rolling eyes of the terror-stricken negroes. I particularly noticed in the hands of one of the frightened creatures the new silk of a large and beautiful stand of colors, the staff swaying to and fro as the color-bearer, his eyes fixed in terrified gaze at his armed adversaries, was being pushed and jostled by his comrades. With my gun still loaded I might have fired into this mass of men, but I regarded these also as practically our prisoners. Casting my eyes upon the ground over and beyond the breastworks—east of them, I mean—I there saw large numbers of the enemy retreating to their own breastworks. Many, however, were taking shelter behind—that is, on the east side, or outside, of our breastworks, as I could see from the tops of their caps, just over the parapet. Into a squad of those I saw retreating to their own works, I fired my rifle, and not stopping to note the damage done by my shot, or to enquire who was thereby hurt, I jumped into one of the little ditches leading out from the main trench. This ditch was about as deep as I was high and about eighteen inches wide. Proceeding down it towards the trench, or main ditch, I was suddently confronted by a negro soldier at the other end of it, standing with his gun pointed towards me at ‘a ready,’ and looking me in the face with a grin on his. As may be imagined, I was now in quite a predicament. What should I do? Shoot the fellow I could not—my gun, having been just fired, was empty. Bayonet him I could not, as I had no bayonet on my gun. I had lost my bayonet at the battle of the Wilderness, and glad of having done so, as I was thus lawfully relieved of that much weight on a march, I had never bothered myself about getting another, never having expected to get close enough to an armed enemy to need it. Nor could I club this man; the narrowness of the ditch prevented. Nor could I turn my back upon him with safety. But there was a protecting hand to save me. Just in front of me, and to my right, was a large recess in the earth, perpendicular to the little ditch in which I stood and parellel to the main ditch or trench, large enough for a horse to stand in—say eight feet in length, four in width and of the same depth with the little ditch. Into this recess, by a rapid stride to my front and right, I made my way, and there loaded my rifle in the quickest possible time; no muzzle-loader was ever loaded in less time. I was now less than five feet from a trench full of Federal soldiers with arms in their hands, and was in a position critical and perilous in the extreme. Just as I got into this place, I discovered near me, at my feet, a  negro soldier, who immediately began to most earnestly beg me not to kill him. ‘Master, don't kill me! Master, don't kill me! I'll be your slave as long as I live. Don't kill me!’ he most piteously cried, whilst I was rapidly loading my gun—and he doubtless supposed that its next shot was intended for himself. ‘Old man, I do not intend to kill you, but you deserve to be killed,’ was my reply. I addressed him as ‘old man,’ as he was apparently over the military age, and to my then young eyes seemed old. All the time he was begging for his life he was cringing at my feet. As soon as I assured him I did not propose to molest him, he began to vigorously fan a poor wounded Confederate soldier, doubtless one of Elliott's men who held the breastworks at the time of the explosion, lying on his back apparently in extremis. I thought he was dying. Manifestly the old negroe's idea was that this attention to the helpless Confederate would serve to protect him against other incoming Confederates. In the absence of evidence as to his identity, it cannot be positively affirmed that this old fellow was not the ex-preacher referred to by Lieutenant Bowley in his address before the California commandery of the Loyal Legion of the United States in the following paragraph:
Among the sergeants of my company was one, John H. Offer, by name, who had been a preacher on the eastern shore of Maryland. He exerted great influence over the men, and he deemed the occasion a fitting one to offer some remarks, and, assuming his “Sunday voice,” he began:About the time I got my rifle loaded, Comrade John R. Turner, the esteemed adjutant of our camp, then a member of my company,  came into the recess, and certainly one and possibly two other Confederates.6 Ready now to give the enemy a shot, I looked around the corner towards the place near the intersection of the ditch with the trench where I saw the fellow who pointed his gun and grinned at me, but he was not to be seen. All I could see in this direction were the ends of rifles and bayonets held by men in the trench concealed from my view by the angle of the trench and small ditch. Whilst I was making this observation, a Federal soldier in the trench near this angle fired his gun, and its muzzle was close enough to the dry earthen angle to make the dust rise in the air as the wind of the exploding rifle-charge knocked away a part of the sharp corner of the trench and ditch at this angle. Finding in this direction nothing at which to shoot, although only a wall of some five feet intervened between the place where I stood and a ditch full of men in blue, I stood tip-toe and looked eastward towards the ground beyond our breastworks. Here I saw numbers of the enemy crowding behind the outer or eastward part of our works, apparently three or four deep, the tops of their caps only being visible, and there were at the same time others of the enemy retreating across the open field between our works and theirs, and at these I fired this, my second shot, and again reloaded. About this time a conference took place between Comrade Turner and myself as to the propriety of remaining in the place where we then stood. The suggestion was made that we fall back to our line, I mean that part of it represented by the Petersburg Riflemen, all or the greater part of whom, we believed, were standing or lying at or near the ends of the ditches leading out from the trench. We agreed, however, that whilst we were in a very dangerous position,  it was our safest. Besides this, a backward movement, by even as few as two men, might have started others, perhaps the whole line, to falling back. So we concluded to remain where we were. Had we attempted to fall back, we would have gone from a position in which we were comparatively safe (unless our whole line had been beaten back) to one of great danger, and would probably have lost our lives. Both of us now fired several shots from this place—probably four or five. I then thought I would take an enfilading fire at the enemy in the trench to my right, who were in plain view, there being an angle in the breastworks to our right, the recess in which Comrade Turner and myself stood being so located as to enable us, when on tip-toe, to look southeastwardly down the trench towards the Crater, some seventy-five yards to our right. When taking a survey of this part of the trench I saw men struggling there, which indicated that some of our men opposite that part of the breastworks had effected an entrance therein. Seeing this I determined to withhold my proposed shot down the trench. Just at this time, looking to my left, I saw Federal soldiers coming out of, and many of our men passing into, the trench along the little ditch by which Comrade Turner and myself had entered; whereupon I went at once into the trench into which the Confederates were now entering in numbers from the little ditches up and down the line. Casting my eyes up the line towards the Crater I saw Confederates beating and shooting at the negro soldiers, as the latter, terror-stricken, rushed away from them. I saw one negro running down the trench towards the place where several of us stood and a Confederate soldier just in his rear drawing a bead on him as he ran. The Confederate fired at the poor creature, seemingly heedless of the fact that his bullet might have pierced his victim and struck some of the many Confederates immediately in its range. A minute later I witnessed another deed which made my blood run cold. Just about the outer end of the ditch by which I had entered stood a negro soldier—a non-commissioned officer (I noticed distinctly his chevrons)—begging for his life of two Confederate soldiers, who stood by him, one of them striking the poor wretch with a steel ramrod, the other holding a gun in his hand with which he seemed to be trying to get a shot at the negro. The man with the gun fired it at the negro, but did not seem to seriously injure him, as he only clapped his hand to his hip, where he appeared to have been shot, and continued to beg for his life. The man with the ramrod continued  to strike the negro therewith, whilst the fellow with the gun deliberately reloaded it, and placing its muzzle close against the stomach of the poor negro, fired, at which the latter fell limp and lifeless at the feet of the two Confederates. It was a brutal, horrible act, and those of us who witnessed it from our position in the trench a few feet away could but exclaim: ‘That is too bad! It is shocking!’ Yet this, I have no doubt, from what I saw and afterwards heard, was but a sample of many other bloody tragedies during the first ten minutes after our men got into the trench, many of whom seemed infuriated at the idea of having to fight negroes. Within these ten minutes the whole floor of the trench was strewn with the dead bodies of negroes, in some places in such numbers that it was difficult to make one's way along the trench without stepping upon them. But the works are not yet ours. To the north of the Crater and in the ditches immediately behind and west of it the Confederates were in possession; but the Crater itself is held by a large number of the enemy—several hundred of them—not yet ready to surrender. There were also some fifty yards of our works south of Crater in the enemy's possession. To drive out these, about ten o'clock—a little more than an hour after the charge made by the Virginia brigade— Wright's brigade of Georgian's were ordered forward from the same ravine from which the Virginia charged; but such was the severity of the fire the men of this gallant brigade were forced to oblique to the left and take shelter among the works now in the hands of the Virginians, thus failing in their attempt. When this charge was about to be made, the Virginians in the trench were notified and directed to fire upon the enemy in their front as rapidly as possible, in the language of the order, ‘to keep their heads down’; an order which was obeyed with a will, as nearly every man standing in the trench was supplied with several guns—his own, and one or more of the hundreds of captured guns which lay all along the trench. Not only when the charge was made, but all of the time after our men got in the trench did they fire from our breastworks at the enemy whenever they showed themselves along the crest or rim of the Crater, as they constantly did, or whenever they attempted to run the gauntlet from the Crater, across the field to their own works, a movement which was attempted by many and by some successfully. About the crest of the Crater next to the Federal lines might be seen sometimes a man from the outside climbing over to get within the Crater, and sometimes a man from the inside climbing over to get  outside. I remember seeing a gallant Federal officer mount the edge of the Crater at this point, and, with conspicuous bravery, wave his glittering sword overhead, as if calling on his men to follow him—a sight which commanded my admiration, as it must have done that of all who witnessed it. An incident occurred about this time, or a little later in the morning, that I have often recalled. Happening in my immediate presence, it very deeply impressed me. In my company two men, Orderly Sergeant W. W. Tayleure and Private Buck Johnson, of the Petersburg Riflemen, came very near having a personal difficulty. Tayleure had been standing on the step, which was about nine inches above the floor of the trench, and upon which all men of ordinary height had to stand in order to be able to shoot from the parapet, and had been firing at the enemy from this position. Just at this time Buck Johnson, who had doubtless been engaged in the same way elsewhere, and who was never known to flinch, bearing a splendid reputation as a soldier, as, indeed, did Tayleure, happened to be standing on the floor of the trench. Tayleure asked him why he did not get up on the step and fire at the enemy. Johnson's high spirit promptly resented the imputation against his courage, implied in this question, and he used some very strong language to Tayleure. One word led to another, and the two men, both being of approved courage, were about to come to blows, when Joe Sacry, a member of the Richmond Grays, standing on the little step above mentioned, having just fired his gun, received a bullet in his head and fell lifeless at the feet of the two men. The quarrel instantly ceased. Poor Sacry's bleeding corps substituted profound seriousness in the place of angry words, and I believe the needless quarrel was never renewed. Both Johnson and Tayleure served to maintain on several subsequent fields of battle the good name that each had already well won in their three years of active service. Wright's brigade of Georgians about eleven o'clock is called upon to make another attempt to carry the works about the Crater and south of it, but, this like the first attempt, is unsuccessful. As on the occasion of the first charge, word is passed down the line to the men in the breastworks to fire rapidly to keep the enemy's heads down, and the order is in like manner obeyed. What has been going on in the Crater? Those who were in it can best tell us, and I may, therefore, properly draw from the interesting address of Lieutenant Bowley above referred to. Here is what he says: Now, men, dis am gwine to be a gret fight—de gretest we seen yet; gret things is 'pending on dis fight; if we takes Petersburg, mos' likely we'll take Richmond, and 'stroy Lee's army ana close de wah. Eb'ry man had orter liff up his soul in pra'r for a strong heart. Oh, 'member de pore colored people ober dere in bondage; oh, 'member dat Gineral Grant, and Gineral Burnside, and Gineral Meade, ana all de gret ginerals is right ober yander a watchina ye, and 'member de white soldiers is a watchina ye, ana 'member dat I'se a watchina ye, and any skulker is a gwine to git prod ob dis bayonet; you heah me!
With a dozen of my own company I went down the traverse to the crater. We were the last to reach it, and the rifles of the Union soldiers were flashing in our faces when we jumped down in there, and the Johnnies were not twenty yards behind us. A full line around crest of the crater were loading and firing as fast as they could, and the men were dropping thick and fast, most of them shot through the head. Every man that was shot rolled down the steep sides to the bottom, and in places they were piled up four and five deep. For a few minutes the fire was fearfully sharp. Then the enemy sought shelter. The cries of the wounded, pressed down under the dead, were piteous in the extreme. An enfilading fire was coming through the traverse down which we had retreated. General Bartlett ordered the colored troops to build a breastworks across it. They commenced the work by throwing up lumps of clay, but it was slow work; some one called out, “Put in the dead men,” and acting on this suggestion, a large number of dead, white and black, Union and rebel, were piled into the trench. This made a partial shelter, and enabled the working party to strengthen their breastworks. Cartridges were running low, and we searched the boxes of all the dead and wounded. The day was fearfully hot; the wounded were crying for water, and the canteens were empty. A few of our troops held a ditch a few feet in front of the crater and were keeping up a brisk fire. In the little calm that followed, we loaded a large number of muskets and placed them in readiness for instant use. Another movement was soon attempted by the enemy, but our fire was so sharp that they hastily sought cover. The artillery on Cemetery Hill and Wright's Battery kept up a constant fire of grape and kept the dirt flying about us. A mortar battery also opened on us; after a few shots, they got our range so well that the shells fell directly among us. Many of them did not explode at all, but a few burst directly over us and cut the men down most cruelly. Many of the troops now attempted to make our lines; but, to leave, they had to run up a slope in full view of the enemy, that now surrounded us on three sides; nearly every man who attempted it fell back riddled with bullets. At 11 o'clock a determined charge was made by the enemy; we repulsed it, but when the fire slackened the ammunition was fearfully low. About this time two men, each carrying all the cartridges he could manage in a piece of shelter tent, reached us.‘The white troops,’ continues Lieutenant Bowley,
were now exhausted and discouraged. Leaving the line, they sat down, facing  inwards, and neither threats nor entreaties could get them up into line again. In vain was the cry raised that all would be killed if captured with negro soldiers; they would not stand up. From this time on the fire was kept up, mainly by the colored troops and officers handling muskets. A few Indians, of the First Michigan Sharpshooters, did splendid work. Some of them were mortally wounded, and drawing their blouses over their faces, they chanted a death-song and died—four of them in a group. An attempt had been made to dig a trench through the side of the crater towards the Union line, but the rebs got the range of that hole and plugged the bullets into it so thick and fast that no one would work in it. Of the men of my company who had rallied with me, all but one, a sergeant, lay dead or dying. The troops seemed utterly apathetic and indifferent. The killing of a comrade by their very sides would not rouse them in the least. Between 1 and 2 o'clock in the afternoon our men in the ditch, outside the crater, had expended all their ammunition, and were quickly captured. Then the rebels planted their battle flags on the edge of the crater, front and both flanks, not six feet from our men. They quickly pulled them back, but we knew that they were there, just on the other side of the clay bank. Muskets, with bayonets, were pitched back and forth, harpoon style. In this last movement the Confederates exposed themselves most fearlessly, and had all our men stood up at that time, the rebel loss would have been much more severe. I have good reason to believe that my own revolver did some effective work at this point.Here ends Lieutenant Bowley's account of what was transpiring in the Crater, and I will resume the narrative from our standpoint. It is now about one o'clock. We receive another order to keep the enemy's heads down. A charge is about to be made, this time by the Alabama brigade, General Saunders, who form in the ravine from which the Virginians had charged, but farther south and accordingly more nearly opposite the Crater. The charge is successful—those who witnessed it say it was splendidly executed. The works are surrendered, and the prisoners pour out, making their way back, however, under a severe fire from their own batteries, some of them falling on the way. What was here transpiring those of us in the breastworks to the north of the Crater could not see, but we immediately knew the result of the charge.  From this time, during the balance of the day, every thing is comparatively quiet. When night came on we are made to fall in line and move up the trench towards our right. In the trench that led around and to the rear of the Crater, dead men lie so thick that to walk along without stepping upon their bodies or limbs was very difficult. Our movement to the right is ended when we have been so shifted as to bring the Riflemen immediately in the rear of the Crater. Here we are halted, and a detail of two or more men from each company is called for. Of this detail it falls to my lot to be one. What is to be done? The dead are to be buried! And this detail is to do the work! My horror can be better imagined than described. Before work commenced, somebody—who I do not know, but some one whose authority and orders in the premises, legal or illegal, I was prompt to recognize and obey—came along and put me in charge of a burying squad. I congratulated myself that I had no nearer connection with this disagreeable work. In a big grave, not a hundred feet in rear of the Crater, a large number of the bodies were placed. The work was done by a squad of negro prisoners. In the gray light of morning I went into the Crater, and there I saw the burying parties in this place still at work. This gloomy night's work had at least one humorous incident. Our worthy commander, Comrade Hugh R. Smith, then adjutant of the Twelfth, I am glad to know, lives to-day to vouch for the correctness of what I am about to narrate: Comrade Smith had selected for his night's rest a grassy spot near the men in the trench, all of whom, except those on guard or special duty, were fast asleep, and like them was wrapt in the arms of Morpheus. He had the advantage of his sleeping comrades, in that he had a soft and cool bed of grass upon which to rest; but he was in close vicinity to the pile of dead men then being buried. Things, however, were fairly evened up, when, some time during the small hours of the night, one of the negro prisoners, looking out for a corpse to bury, seized our gallant adjutant by the ankle and was hurrying him to the grave, when the adjutant, not then ready to be buried, awoke, to the great consternation of the poor prisoner, who thought he was handling a genuine corpse. It is Sunday morning, and breakfast time. Are we to eat in this horrible place, the air filled with offensive odors from the presence of hundred of bodies still unburied, many of them within a radius of a  few feet from us? Yes, or starve. My messmate and myself, I well remember, made our breakfast on hard-tack and fried pickle-pork. My impression is we had no coffee. I have a distinct recollection that the meal was not enjoyed. It is in order just here to reproduce, for what they are worth as a contemporary record, the following entries in my diary, the first made during the afternoon of this day, the others on the days of their respective dates:
The foregoing brief entries are all that I find in my diary relating to the battle. From information subsequently obtained I am able to correct some of the statements therein made: In Comrade W. Gordon McCabe's admirable address, entitled ‘The Defence of Petersburg,’ the accuracy and fullness of the information contained in which are only equalled by the clear and beautiful language in which it is conveyed, the statement is made that the loss of life caused by the explosion of the mine was 256 officers and men of the Eighteenth and Twenty-second South Carolina regiments and two officers and twenty men of Pegram's Petersburg battery. This battery was commanded by Captain Richard G. Pegram, who was absent on duty, and thus escaped what befell his two lieutenants, Hamlin and Chandler. In a letter published in September, 1878, Dr. Hugh Toland, surgeon of the Eighteenth South Carolina, locates this regiment as on the left, or north, of Pegram's battery, and the Twenty-second South Carolina as on the right, or south, of this battery at the time of the explosion.
My brigade,says Dr. Toland, ‘had suffered severely—the Twenty-second South Carolina had lost its gallant Colonel Fleming, and many a brave soldier. My regiment had lost 163 men. Two whole companies, A and C, Eighteenth South Carolina, had not a man left, who was on duty, to tell the tale. One hundred and one of my men, including Capts. McCormich and Bridges were dead—buried in the Crater or scattered along the works—and 62 missing.’ Giving the Federal loss in this engagement, Captain McCabe in his address says:
In this grand assault on Lee's lines, for which Meade had massed 65,000 troops, the enemy suffered a loss of 5,000 men, including  1,101 prisoners, among whom were two brigade commanders, whilst vast quantities of small arms and twenty-one standards fell into the hands of the victors.The quantity of powder used in exploding the mine was not six tons, but 8,000 pounds. ‘The charge,’ says Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Pleasants, of the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers, the originator of the mine, in his report of the explosion, ‘consisted of three hundred and twenty kegs of powder, each containing about twenty-five pounds. It was placed in eight magazines, connected with each other by troughs half filled with powder. These troughs from the lateral galleries met at the inner end of the main one, and from this point I had three lines of fuses for a distance of 98 feet. Not having fuses as long as required, two pieces had to be spliced together to make the required length of each of the lines.’ In the concluding paragraph of this report Colonel Pleasants says:
I stood on top of our breastworks and witnessed the effect of the explosion on the enemy. It so completely paralyzed them that the breach was practically four or five hundred yards in breadth. The rebels in the forts, both on the right and left of the explosion, left their works, and for over an hour not a shot was fired by their artillery. There was no fire from infantry from the front for at least half an hour; none from the left for twenty minutes, and but few shots from the right.Major W. H. Powell, acting aide-de-camp of General Ledlie, the commander of the first division of the Ninth corps, at the time of the explosion, in his article entitled ‘The Tragedy of the Crater,’ published in the September (1887) number of the Century, says:
I returned immediately, and just as I arrived in rear of the first division the mine was sprung. It was a magnificent spectacle, and as the mass of earth went up into the air, carrying with it men, guns, carriages and timbers, and spread out like an immense cloud as it reached its altitude, so close were the Union lines that the mass appeared as if it would descend immediately upon the troops waiting to make the charge. This caused them to break and scatter to the rear, and about ten minutes were consumed in reforming for the attack. Not much was lost by this delay, however, as it took nearly that time for the cloud of dust to pass off. * * * Little did those men anticipate what they would see upon arriving  there: an enormous hole in the ground about 30 feet deep, 60 feet wide and 170 feet long, filled with dust, great blocks of clay, guns, broken carriages, projecting timbers, and men buried in various ways—some up to their necks, others to their waists, and some with only their feet and legs protruding from the earth. * * *
The whole scene of the explosion,continues Major Powell,
struck every one dumb with astonishment as we arrived at the crest of the debris. It was impossible for the troops of the Second Brigade to move forward in line, as they had advanced; and owing to the broken state they were in, every man crowding up to look into the hole, and being pressed by the First brigade, which, was immediately in rear, it was equally impossible to move by the flank, by any command, around the crater. Before the brigade commanders could realize the situation, the brigades became inextricably mixed in the desire to look into the hole. * * * *From the next paragraph of Major Powell's article it appears that Colonel Pleasants was in error as to the extent of the demoralization of the Confederates incident upon the explosion, as the South Carolinians in the trenches near the Crater were quick to recover their equanimity and to make the incoming Federals feel their presence. In this paragraph this Federal officer says:
However, Colonel Marshall yelled to the Second brigade to move forward, and the men did so, jumping, sliding and tumbling into the hole, over the debris of material, and dead and dying men, and huge blocks of solid clay. They were followed by General Bartlett's brigade. Up on the other side of the Crater they climbed, and while a detachment stopped to place two of the dismounted guns of the battery in position on the enemy's side of the crest of the Crater, a portion of the leading brigade passed over the crest and attempted to reform. It was at this period that they found they were being killed by musket-shots from the rear, fired by the Confederates, who were still occupying the traverses and intrenchments to the right and left of the Crater. These men had been awakened by the noise and :shock of the explosion, and during the interval before the attack had recovered their equanimity, and when the Union troops attempted to reform on the enemy's side of the Crater, they had faced about and delivered a fire into the backs of our men. This coming so unexpectedly caused the forming line to fall back into the Crater. Mr. George L. Kilmer, of the Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery, in his article entitled ‘The Dash into the Crater,’ published in the same number (September number, 1887) of the Century, makes some striking statements. He says:
Some few declared that they would never follow ‘niggers’ or be caught in their company, and started back to our own lines, but were promptly driven forward. Then the colored troops broke and scattered, and pandemonium began. The bravest lost heart, and men who distrusted the negroes vented their feelings freely. Some colored men came into the Crater, and there they found a worse fate than death on the charge. It was believed among the whites that the enemy would give no quarter to negroes, or to whites taken with them, and so to be shut up with blacks in the Crater was equal to a doom of death. * * * It has been positively asserted that white men bayoneted blacks who fell back into the crater. This was in order to preserve the whites from Confederate vengeance. Men boasted in my presence that blacks had been thus disposed of, particularly when the Confederates came up.It will be asked what was the number of Federal soldiers who were actually in possession of our works at the time of the charge made by Mahone's brigade. As the expression, ‘an effective force of not less than 3,000 men,’ used in General Mahone's congratulatory order to the three brigades, Mahone's, Wright's, and Saunders', embraced not only the force of about 800 men of Mahone's brigade who made the charge a little before nine o'clock in the morning, but also the forces engaged in the several unsuccessful charges made by Wright's brigade and the final successful charge made about one o'clock in the afternoon by Saunders' brigade, and probably the co-operating artillery and other infantry, so the statement made by General Mahone in this order that ‘the enemy had massed against us three of his corps and two divisions of another,’ and Captain McCabe's statement that ‘Meade had massed’ for the assault ‘65,000 troops,’ must be understood as embracing not only those who were actually in possession of our works but those immediately in, or massed a short distance behind, the Federal works near by, who were taking part or ready to take part in the affair. But we are not without data by which to ascertain the probable number of men that occupied the Confederate works when the Virginia  brigade numbering about eight hundred men dashed forward, in tile manner that has been described, to engage in what every man knew would be a death-struggle for their possession. General Mahone's congratulatory order places the flags captured at seventeen; Captain McCabe gives twenty-one as the number of standards captured. We will take General Mahone's figures and estimate each of the seventeen regiments represented by the seventeen flags as containing two hundred and fifty men—a fair average for a veteran regiment in the Federal army at that time. This done, and we have a force of 4,250 men. But this average is manifestly too small, when we consider the statement of Colonel Henry G. Thomas, who commanded the Second brigade of the Fourth division (Ferrero's) of the Ninth corps, made in his article in the September number, 1887, of the Century, entitled ‘The Colored Troops at Petersburg,’ in which he says:
There was but one division of colored troops in the Army of the Potomac—the Fourth division of the Ninth corps—organnized as follows: * * * * This made a division of only nine regiments, divided into two brigades, yet it was numerically a large division. The regiments were entirely full, and a colored deserter was a thing unknown. On the day of the action the division numbered 4,300, of which 2,000 belonged to Seigfried's brigade and 2,300 to mine.To assume that the number of flags captured represented the total number of regiments at the place of capture leads to a very erroneous result. So far from there being only seventeen regiments in our works, there were probably more than double this number. There went into our works three white divisions, the First (Ledlie's), the Second (Potter's), and the Third (Wilcox's), of the Ninth (Burnside) corps, about four regiments excepted, and after these the colored division of General Ferrero. This appears from the following paragraph in the testimony of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles G. Loring, of General Burnside's staff, before the Committee on the Conduct of the War:
General Ledlie's division was to go in first; the whole of that division went into the Crater, or lines immediately adjoining. Genera Potter's division was to go in next, but to go in on the right of  the other. I did not see them and I do not know how many of them went into the Crater. I simply saw the head of the column going in. I understood that they all went into the enemy's lines; but I cannot say positively about that. General Wilcox's division also went in at the same place where General Ledlie's division went in. I think four of his regiments—I am not sure of the number—failed to get in. In starting from our line they bore off too much to the left and came back to our own line, and did not go in, I think that with that exception the whole of General Wilcox's division went into the enemy's lines. The regiments of his division went in at different times, not as a division, but disjointedly. And at half-past 7, about two hours and a half after the mine exploded, the whole of the colored division went in at the same point.If the three white divisions numbered each nine regiments (the number of the regiments in the colored division), they aggregated twenty-seven regiments. Deduct the four regiments of Wilcox's division, referred to by Colonel Loring, allow two hundred and fifty men to each of the twenty-four remaining regiments, and we have 6,000 men. To these add the 4,300 colored troops, and there was an aggregate of 10,300 men! And this without counting a brigade of General Turner's division of the Eighteenth corps, which, according to his testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, took possession of about one hundred yards of our works to the north of the Crater. General Ord, in his testimony before the committee, by implication, puts the number of men who went into the Confederate works at 10,000 or 12,000, when he says:
The ground to the left and front of the mine was marshy and covered by bushes and trees. No preparations had been made for our troops to pass out to our right or left. They could only get out by a single long trench or covered way; so that in the slow process of getting 10,000 or 12,000 men up through this narrow space and through a single opening the enemy had an opportunity to make preparations to meet them. All this produced delay.With facts and figures like these to sustain the assertion, we are warranted in stating that the force against which our little band of about eight hundred Virginians was hurled, outnumbered their assailants more than ten to one!  But whilst the highest credit belongs to the Virginia brigade for its achievements on this occasion, it must be remembered that bad management in the disposition of the Federal forces greatly assisted in producing the result. No troops, crowded as were the Federals in the Crater and in the trenches on either side, the latter having a perfect net work of traverses and bomb-proofs, which greatly impeded the Federals in resisting an assault from the west, or Confederate side of our works, could well have met a determined assault made from this direction. ‘These pits,’ says Colonel Thomas in his Century article, referring to the trenches at this place, ‘were different from any in our lines—a labyrinth of bomb-proofs and magazines, with passages between.’ How far towards Cemetery Ridge, that is to say, west of the Confederate works, did the Federal forces advance at any time during their four hours occupation of these works, is a question which naturally arises, and was asked several of the witnesses in the official investigation made by the Federal government. Extracts from some of the testimony before the court of inquiry, held at the headquarters of General Hancock on the 1st of September, 1864, will give us some light upon this point: Brigadier-General S. G. Griffin, who commanded a brigade of Potter's division, on the stand:
Ques.—Did your command go beyond the Crater? Ans.—It did. Ques.—About how far? Ans.—I should judge about two hundred yards. It might be more, or it might be less. It could not have been much less, however; that is as near as I can judge.Colonel H. G. Thomas, commanding the Second brigade of Ferrero's (colored) division, on the stand:
Ques.—Did you get beyond the line of the Crater with your troops? Ans.—I did, sir. Ques.—How far? Ans.—I should say about between three and four hundred yards to the right of the Crater and in front of it. I was ordered to support the first brigade when it made its charge. Colonel Thomas' last answer giving no definite information as to the position of his troops in advance of the Confederate works, and the court manifestly having a doubt as to his troops having gone to the west of these works at all, he is asked the pointed question: ‘Did you get beyond the enemy's line?’ He replies: ‘I did, sir; I led a charge which was not successful. The moment I reached the first brigade I started out the Thirty-first colored regiment, which was in front, but it lost its three ranking officers in getting in position, and did not go out well.’ The witness's answer, whilst responsive to the question, like his answer to the preceding question, gives no light as to the point west of the Confederate works reached by his command. The next witness, however, testifies very clearly, and probably gives the most accurate information as to the position reached by the troops that moved forward west of the Confederate works. The witness is Lieutenant-Colonel Charles S. Russell, commanding the Twenty-eighth U. S. colored troops, of Colonel Thomas' brigade. Being asked the question ‘How far in advance did you get towards Cemetery Hill?’ he replies: ‘Not exceeding fifty yards. We were driven back.’
By what?is the next question asked this witness. He replies: ‘I should judge by about two or four hundred men (infantry), which rose from a little ravine and charged us. Being all mixed up and in confusion, and new troops, we had to come back.’ The witness is in error as to the number of the Confederates who ‘rose up from the little ravine,’ as they were the men of the Virginia brigade, whose number was approximated by General Griffin, when he said: ‘Five or six hundred men were all we could see. I did not see either the right or the left of the line. I saw the centre of the line as it appeared to me. It was a good line of battle.’ Of the condition of things in the Crater and in trenches when the three white divisions had entered the Confederate works and the colored division was about to go in, about 7 o'clock in the morning, General Turner, who commanded a division of the Eighteenth (Ord's) corps, gives a graphic description in his testimony before the committee. He says: ‘When the head of my column reached the point at which our assaulting column had passed through our lines, it was, as near as I recollect, about 7 o'clock. I jumped up on a parapet to observe what was going on. Immediately in front of me lay the Crater, about  seventy-five yards distant. The men were in it and around it in great confusion; they were lying down, seeking shelter from the fire of the enemy, which at that time had become exceedingly warm. The enemy had succeding in getting a cross fire of artillery and and musketry over the ground lying between our line and the Crater. * * * My idea was that the 9th corps would penetrate the enemy's line and double them up to the right and to the left, and then I was to pass out and cover the right flank of the assaulting column; but the enemy still held possession of their lines up to within one hundred yards of the Crater when I arrived, which surprised me. It left me no alternative of going out anywhere but directly opposite the Crater, where the 9th corps went out. I could see no movement taking place beyond the Crater towards Cemetery Hill * * * The troops lay very thick in and around the Crater, evidently more than could find cover from the enemy's fire. * * * The Crater was full of men; they were lying all around, and every point that would give cover to a man was occupied. There was no movement towards Cemetery Hill; the troops were all in confusion and lying down. I asked one or two officers there if an attempt had been made to move to Cemetery Hill. They said the attempt had been made, but it had failed. I then said, “You ought to entrench your position here, and you have too many troops here already to intrench. There are so many troops here that they are in each other's way; they are only exposed to this terrific fire of the enemy,” which was then growing warmer and warmer, and was a very severe fire. While I was talking to an officer—we had sought shelter in the Crater—the head of the colored division appeared at the crest of the Crater, and the division commenced piling over into the Crater and passing across it on the other side as well as they could. I exclaimed, “What are these men sent in here for? It is only adding confusion to the confusion which already exists.” The men literally came falling over into this Crater on their hands and knees; they were so thick in there that a man could not walk. Seeing that I was going to be covered up, and be entirely useless, I thought I would go out. As I had no control over these troops, and supposing there were officers in command, I said, “If you can get these troops beyond this line so that I can get out, I will move my division right out and cover your right flank” ; and I went back for the purpose of doing so. I met General Ord on our line at the head of my division. I said, “General, unless a movement is made out of the Crater towards Cemetery Hill, it is murder to send  more men in there. That colored division should never have been sent in there; but there is a furor there, and perhaps they may move off sufficiently for me to pass my division out.” ’ General Ord, in his testimony, using vigorous language, says:
The men had to go through a long, narrow trench, about one-third of a mile in length, before they got into our extreme out-work, and then they went into this Crater, and were piled into that hole, where they were perfectly useless. They were of about as much use there as so many men at the bottom of a well.The stampede which took place when Mahone's brigade made its charge is thus described by General Turner in his testimony
I had got, probably, half way between our line and the enemy's lines—which were perhaps only a hundred yards apart at that point, and it was a very broken country, thick underbrush and morass—when, looking to the left, I saw the troops in vast numbers coming rushing back, and immediately my whole first brigade came back, and then my second brigade on my right, and everything was swept back in and around the Crater, and probably all but about one-third of the original number stampeded back right into our lines. After some exertion I rallied my men of the First and Second brigades after they got into our lines, while my Third brigade held the line.General Carr, who commanded a division of the Eighteenth corps, in his testimony thus describes the stampede:
I saw a vacancy—a gap that I thought about four regiments would fill, and assist that line of battle that was going over our breastworks to take those rifle pits. I immediately took command of part of Turner's division, and ordered them over the line to join the line of troops then advancing, and told them to charge the rifle-pits in their front, which they did. That was about two hundred yards on the right of the Crater. After putting those troops in, I stepped back from the entrenchment some ten or fifteen yards towards the covered way, and I had scarcely got back to the lower end of the covered way when the stampede began, and I suppose two thousand troops came back, and I was lifted from my feet by the rushing mass, and carried along with it ten or fifteen yards in the covered way. What staff I had with me assisted me in stopping the  crowd in the covered way, and in putting some of them in position in the second line; some were in the first. I left General Potter in the covered way.I would like to give more extracts from the sworn and other statements of our adversaries as to what was done and omitted to be done on this memorable day, which marked an event altogether exceptional in the history of the war; but I fear that I have already drawn from these sources of information to the point of prolixity. Although all matters of controversy would in this address gladly have been avoided, I cannot pass unnoticed a remarkable paragraph in Colonel Alfred Roman's work, ‘The Military Operations of General Beauregard.’ At page 267, after mentioning General Meade's order to General Burnside to withdraw his troops, given at 9:45 A. M., and the orders given to General Hancock, at 9:25 and to General Warren at 9:45, ‘to suspend all offensive operations,’ Colonel Roman, basing his statement upon statements made by General Bushrod Johnson and Colonel F. W. McMaster,7 says:
Such was the situation—the Federals unable to advance and fearing to retreat-when, at 10 o'clock, General Mahone arrived with a part of his men, who lay down in the shallow ravine, to the rear of Elliott's salient, held by the force under Colonel Smith, there to await the remainder of the division. But a movement having occurred among the Federals which seemed to menace an advance, General Mahone threw forward his brigade, with the Sixty-first North Carolina, of Hoke's division, which had now also come up. The Twenty-fifth and Forty-ninth North Carolina, and the Twenty-sixth and part of the Seventeenth South Carolina, all under Smith, which were formed on Mahone's left, likewise formed in the counter-movement, and three-fourths of the gorge-line were carried with part of the trench on the left of the Crater occupied by the Federals. Many of the latter, white and black, abandoned the breach and fled to their lines, under a scourging flank fire from Wise's brigade. The statement here made that the charge was made by Mahone's brigade, with the Sixty-first, Twenty-fifth and Forty-ninth North Carolina and the Twenty-sixth and part of the Seventeenth South Carolina regiments, is as clearly incorrect as is the statement that Mahone arrived about ten o'clock, after General Meade issued his orders above referred to. Against this statement as to time we may safely place that of Colonel Venable, of General Lee's staff, made in 1872, in which he says: ‘I know that it is difficult to be accurate as to time on the battle-field, unless noted and written down at the moment. But I am confident this charge of the Virginians was made before 9 o'clock A. M. I know, from my recollection of the notes received and answered by General Lee, that after the charge, the formation of the Georgia brigade, under Colonel Hall, was completed, and after some delay was moved around under the slope, more to the right, and made a charge at 10 o'clock to recover that portion of the line on the right of the Crater.’ But we are not without a contemporaneous record to prove beyond all controversy that the charge of Mahone's brigade was made prior to 9 o'clock A. M., and therefore to the several orders issued by General Meade to suspend operations and withdraw the troops. General Meade, in his testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, says:
At 9 A. M. I received the following dispatch from General Burnside:The Committee on the Conduct of the War, in their report, made after all of the testimony bearing on the subject, oral and documentary, had been heard and considered, fully appreciating the importance of stating correctly the order of sequence and accordingly the exact time of the occurrence of the several military movements which were the subject of the committee's investigation, say: 
That was the first information I had received that there was any collision with the enemy, or that there was any enemy present. At 9:30 A. M. the following dispatch was sent to General Burnside: 
Then I received the following dispatch from Captain Sanders:
The Fourth (colored) division was also ordered to advance, and did so under a heavy fire. They succeeded in passing the white troops, already in, but in a disorganized condition. They reformed to some extent and attempted to charge the hill in front, but without success, and broke in disorder to the rear. This was about 8:45 A. M., about four hours after the explosion of the mine. * * At 9:45 A. M. General Burnside received a peremptory order from General Meade to withdraw his troops. * * * The troops were withdrawn between 1 and 2 o'clock in considerable confusion, caused by an assault of the enemy, and returned to the lines they had occupied in the morning.The error of Colonel Roman in placing the orders of General Meade to his corps commanders to suspend operations and withdraw their troops anterior to the charge made by the Virginia brigade, shows exceptional want of care in the preparation of matter published to the world as history. Especially is this true, as Colonel Roman was a staff-officer of General Beaureguard, and ought to have been better informed as to the subject whereof he wrote. As to the statement that other troops besides the Virginia brigade made the charge, and that these troops were four regiments and part of a fifth, it may be safely affirmed that this is not according to the recollection of any of the men of Mahone's brigade who participated in the charge.8  There may possibly have been, and I have no doubt but that there were, a few individual members of these Carolina regiments who charged along with Mahone's brigade, but if any organized body, or bodies of troops, made the charge along with the Virginians, this important fact has hitherto wholly escaped the attention of the men of this brigade. That there was gross mismanagement on the part of the Federals, in not so arranging and handling their troops as to place them in possession of Cemetery Ridge within a few minutes after the explosion of the mine, none can dispute. That the gallant South Carolinians of Elliott's brigade up to the date of the fall of their brave leader, General Stephen Elliott, and subsequently under the leadership of Colonel F. W. McMaster, did their full duty, as did other infantry, by their fire from the flanks, none will deny. That the artillery occupying the forts to the right and left and stationed in rear of the Crater rendered most effective service is beyond question. That the Alabama brigade made the final successful charge has never been disputed. But that the charge of the Virginia brigade, commanded by General D. A. Weisiger and directed by General William Mahone, made a little before nine o'clock in the morning, did the substantial work that led to the recapture of the Crater and the adjacent earthworks, is a  fact that will always stand out boldly on the pages of history, and the fame of the brigade for its part in this brilliant action, increasing as time rolls on, will shine out in the imperishable records of the late war long after its actors shall have passed away. Weisiger was an impetuous, dashing man, among the bravest of the brave; Mahone, cool, courageous and able, was by nature fitted for generalship as few men are, and none knew this better than the men of his command. Wherever he led or placed them, they always felt a moral certainty that they were being properly led or placed, either to inflict the most damage on the enemy or to have the enemy inflict the least damage on them. Accordingly, on the morning of the charge at the Crater, there was not a man in the brigade, knowing that General Mahone was present, personally superintending and directing the movement, that did not feel that we were to be properly and skilfully handled, and would be put in just when and where the most effective service could be rendered. This impression of these two commanders of the old brigade, whose names have passed into history along with that of the command, I have felt that justice requires that I should here record. I feel, too, that I should not pass in silence the gallant southerner, Captain V. J. Girardey, who was serving on General Mahone's staff at the time of the action, and won by his conduct the commission of a brigadier-general, dating from the 30th of July, 1864, and whose splendid conduct on this and previous occasions had commanded the admiration of all of the men of our brigade. Nor should I pass in silence the daring deeds of Privates Dean and Valentine, of the Twelfth. As the line was forming for the charge, each picked out and pointed to a stand of Federal colors and said he meant to have it. On the charge, before reaching the works, Valentine received a wound from which he never recovered, and Dean was killed. Both men were members of the Petersburg Old Grays. I have now, comrades, finished my story of the Crater—not, however, without a painful sense that as a record of this historic battle it is very incomplete. Many brave and gallant deeds done by men on both sides have not been mentioned. To Captain McCabe's splendid narrative, already mentioned, to the Century articles and other documents from which I have so freely drawn, and to the many old soldiers who participated in the action, yet alive, I must refer for much that I have necessarily omitted, as for instance, for such deeds of valor as those of Captain Wallace Broadbent, on the Confederate  side, who fell pierced by eleven bayonet wounds, and of Lieutenant-Colonel John A. Bross, on the Federal side, who, attired in full uniform, fell riddled with bullets as he was conspicuously rallying his men for a forward move. What has been narrated to-night must be received only as a private soldier's individual impressions of the action, formed partly from personal knowledge and partly from information obtained from others and believed to be authentic. If the story told has interested or contributed to a clearer understanding of how the battle was fought and won, it will have served its purpose.
Sketch of Thomas F. Marshall.
by Henry M. Rowley.Kentucky has been prolific of men of genius—great lawyers, great orators, great statesmen. Its annals can boast of a Clay, a Breckenridge, a Guthrie, a Crittenden. But we doubt whether the brightest period of its golden age of oratory can show a name that shown with greater lustre than that of the subject of this sketch. He was an orator of transcendent power, a lawyer of profound learning and splendid ability, and a broad and philosophic statesman. It is seldom that we see a man, anywhere, who had won, as he had, the double fame, and worn the double wreath, of Murray and Chatham, of Dunning and Fox, of Erskine and Pitt, of William Pinkney and Rufus King, in one blended superiority. Thomas Francis Marshall was born in the city of Frankfort, Kentucky, on the 7th day of June, 1800; the same year in which his illustrious uncle, John Marshall, was appointed by President Adams Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. His early education was conducted by his mother, Mrs. Agatha Marshall, an excellent and cultured lady, till his twelfth year, when he entered a grammar school and commenced the study of the ancient languages. When about fourteen, his father, Dr. Louis Marshall, procured an accomplished classical scholar as teacher in his family. By this gentleman he was instructed in the Latin, Greek and French languages, and from him he also gained some knowledge of rhetoric, English literature and history. It may be interesting to know that Dr. Robert J. Breckenridge, Dr. Louis Green, once president of Danville College, Rev. John A. McClung, and many others since famous,  received instruction in the classics from the same teacher. Young Marshall diligently pursued his studies under the eye of his father, and was never sent to a college or university. At twenty he went to Virginia to enter into a thorough study of history as the basis of jurisprudence, under the guidance of his uncle, James Marshall, a recluse student of many accomplishments and vast and varied erudition. He studied there for two years with unwearied industry, and returned to his father's house where he pursued the course of reading marked out for him by his uncle till he lost his health and was utterly prostrated by disease superinduced, it was thought, by intense application to his books. When he had regained his health and strength, he eagerly commenced the study of law in the office of that great lawyer and matchless orator, the Hon. John J. Crittenden. At twenty-seven years of age he was admitted to the bar, and immediately commenced the practice of his profession in the town of Versailles, in the county of Woodford. In 1829 he again visited Virginia, in order to attend the debates of the convention then sitting in the city of Richmond. Madison, Monroe, Chief Justice Marshall, Randolph, Leigh, Johnson, Tazwell, and a host of others of almost equal renown, all were there. For five months he listened to them with tireless attention, heard all the debates, noted the methods of conducting deliberative assemblies, and gathered many a lesson of statesmanship which served him in good stead when he came himself to play a part upon a similar arena. He often said afterwards that it was the best school he had ever attended. In Febuary, 1830, he went to Washington and witnessed ‘the battle of the giants,’ in the Senate chamber, on the celebrated Foote resolutions. He heard Hayne, and pronounced Webster's triumphant reply as equal to the world-noted ‘pleading for the Crown.’ From that time may be dated his ambition for political distinction. He studied diligently the questions of the day and entered upon their discussion before the people of his native county with the burning enthusiasm that always characterized his public utterances. Parties, at that time, in Woodford county were nearly equally divided. In 1832, after the veto of the United States Bank, Mr. Marshall sided with Henry Clay, appeared before the people as a candidate for the legislature, and was elected in a county polling twelve hundred votes, by a majority of nearly three hundred. Early in the spring of this year he made his home in Louisville, with the earnest purpose to confine himself exclusively to his profession, for he was, to use his own energetic expression, ‘steeped in poverty to the very lips.’  But, like many others, the fascinations of public life proved too strong for him, and he again plunged into politics with his accustomed ardor. He was successful in his candidature, and twice represented the city of Louisville in the legislature of Kentucky. In 1837 he made the race for Congress against Mr. Graves, the regular nominee of the Whig party. The congressional district being a Whig stronghold, stood staunchly by the regular candidate, and Mr. Marshall was defeated by almost two thousand majority. He was deeply disappointed and did not attempt to conceal the bitterness of his feelings. As he said, ‘the iron entered into his soul.’ He left Louisville immediately and returned to his old home in Versailles. During the ensuing year he announced himself as a candidate for the legislature from Woodford, and was elected without opposition. The legislature having adjudged him ineligible for want of the full year's residence in the county, rejected him. After this he was twice elected, and each time without opposition. It was at these sessions of the legislature that he distinguished himself as a powerful debater on the question of the Charleston, Lexington and Cincinnati Railroad. He opposed the measure with all his fiery earnestness, contending for the city of Louisville as the terminus, ‘heaping coals of fire,’ as he said, ‘upon her ungrateful head for the manner in which she had treated him two years before.’ At every session of the legislature of which he was a member Mr. Marshall was the zealous and fearless advocate of the slave law of 1832, which forbade the importation of slaves into the State. Many attempts were made to repeal this law, but he resisted them with all the might of his logic and all the force of his eloquence. In 1840 he refused to run again for the legislature. In the session of that winter the most strenous efforts were made to repeal this law that he so earnestly desired to keep upon the statute books of the State. He had no seat in the legislature, but, at the urgent solicitation of the friends of the law, he presented the arguments he had so often made on the floor of the House in a series of letters addressed to the Commonwealth, a newspaper published in the city of Frankfort. In 1841, when forty years of age, he was elected to the Twenty-seventh Congress of the United States from the Ashland district without opposition, and entered upon his congressional duties at the celebrated called session, under John Tyler, acting President. During his brief but brilliant career in Washington he spoke often and well. There are, however, but two of his congressional speeches fully reported. Disgusted with the manner in which his first speech was  given to the public, with characteristic irritability at the close of his second, he severely reprimanded the reporters, and ordered them ‘not to attempt again to pass upon the public their infernal gibberish for his English.’ They took him at his word, and left his speeches for some time unreported, and took their revenge by firing off at him their ‘paper bullets of the brain’ in their letters written from Washington. At this session Mr. Marshall separated from the Whigs on many very important measures. He spoke and voted against Clay's bank bill, and spoke with astonishing power. The speech is unfortunately lost, never having been reported in whole or in part. He was, he said, in favor of a Bank of the United States, but was opposed to the form of the charter then presented. He voted against the bankrupt law, and was opposed to striking out of the Constitution the veto power. He had opinions on all the political questions of the time, and had the courage of his opinions, and was always sure to maintain them by a vehement and splendid eloquence. He contended that he was a Whig, and that the Whig party had departed from their long cherished and time-honored principles. He launched the shafts of his sarcasm at Tyler's administration, on the floor of the House, saying that when the history of the country was written that administration might be put in a parenthesis, and defined from Lindley Murray: ‘A parenthesis is a clause of a sentence enclosed between black lines or brackets, which should be pronounced in a low tone of voice, and may be left out altogether without injuring the sense.’ While Mr. Marshall was in Congress, one of those periodical tempests of temperance swept over the land. It finally reached the halls of the national council. A congressional ‘total abstinence society’ was organized. Mr. Marshall had won a somewhat unenviable reputation for excessive conviviality. He became a member of the society and its most eloquent spokesman. In 1842 he delivered upon the floor of Congress an ‘Address on Temperance,’ which for splendor of illustration, justness of observation, and beauty of diction has never been excelled in this country. That the reader may judge somewhat of his style of oratory, we append some extracts from the address:
Temperate men refusing to join a temperance society! Withholding their name and influence! Nay, throwing, by their refusal, the weight of both against us! It is unnatural; it is unintelligible; it is cruel. It is most cruel, in those untainted by this destroying vice, to cast the whole weight of the cause upon its wretched victims, writhing and struggling with the chain which darkly binds their  strength, nor stretch out the arm, free and unparalyzed by its might, to aid in rending its links asunder. You (Mr. M. here looked steadfastly at Mr. Wise, of Virginia）—you incur no risk; you make no sacrifice; you brave no painful notoriety; your lives are as yet unstained; your good name unscathed. Not a shade darkens the fair field of your unsullied escutcheon. There is no room for shame. Nothing but honor to yourselves, and blessings to others can follow your union with us. Ashamed of pure and perfect temperance! Oh, no; true dignity surrounds her; the diadem of honor sparkles on her brow; and the flowing robes of virtue encircle and adorn her elastic and graceful form. * * * * Sir, if there be within this hall an individual man who thinks that his vast dignity and importance would be lowered, the laurels which he has heretofore won be tarnished, his glowing and all-conquering popularity at home be lessened, by an act designed to redeem any portion of his colleagues or fellow-men from ruin and shame, all I can say is that he and I put a very different estimate upon the matter. I should say, sir, that the act was not only the most benevolent, but, in the present state of opinion, the most politic, the most popular (looking down at Mr. Wise, Mr. M. added, with a smile), the very wisest thing he ever did in his life. Think not, sir, that I feel myself in a ridiculous situation, and, like the fox in the fable, wish to divide it with others, by converting deformity into fashion. Not so; by my honor as a gentlemen, not so. I was not what I was represented to be. I had, and I have shown that I had full power over myself. But the pledge I have taken renders me secure forever from a fate inevitably following habits like mine—a fate more terrible than death. That pledge, though confined to myself alone, and with reference to its only effect upon me, my mind, my heart, my body, I would not exchange for all earth holds of brighest and of best. No, no, sir; let the banner of this temperance cause go forward or go backward—let the world be rescued from its degrading and ruinous bondage to alcohol or not—I for one shall never, never repent what I have done. I have often said this, and I feel it every moment of my existence, waking or sleeping. Sir, I would not exchange the physical sensations—the mere sense of animal being which belongs to a man who totally refrains from all that can intoxicate his brain or derange his nervous structure; the elasticity with which he bounds from his couch in the morning; the sweet repose it yields him at night; the feeling with which he drinks in, through his clear eyes, the beauty and the grandeur of surrounding nature—I say, sir, I  would not exchange my conscious being as a strictly temperate man; the sense of renovated youth; the glad play with which my pulses now beat healthful music; the bounding vivacity with which the lifeblood courses its exulting way through every fibre of my frame; the communion high which my healthful ear and eye now hold with all the gorgeous universe of God; the splendors of the morning, the softness of the evening sky; the bloom, the beauty, the verdure of earth, the music of the air and the waters; with all the grand association of external nature, re-opened to the fine avenues of sense; No, sir, though poverty dogged me; though scorn pointed its slow finger at me as I passed; though want and destitution, and every element of earthly misery, save only crime, met my waking eye from day to day—not for the brightest and noblest wreath that ever encircled a statesman's brow; not, if some angel commissioned by heaven, or some demon, rather, sent fresh from hell, to test the resisting strength of virtuous resolution, should tempt me back, with all the wealth and all the honors which a world can bestow; not for all that time and all that earth can give, would I cast from me this precious pledge of a liberated mind, this talisman against temptation, and plunge again into the dangers and the horrors which once beset my path—so help me heaven, sir, as I would spurn beneath my very feet all the gifts the universe could offer, and live and die as I am, poor, but sober.By his independent course in Congress he had deeply offended Clay, the leader of the Whig party. Whether he intended to do so or not, it is perfectly evident he was careless about the matter. Upon the expiration of the Twenty-seventh Congress, he returned home, declined being a candidate for a second term, and declared publicly in Lexington that he would not again support Clay for the presidency. The annexation of Texas was one of the prominent questions in 1844. Before Clay wrote his celebrated Raleigh letter, defining his position with regard to it, Marshall declared himself in favor of annexation, and spoke, upon the invitation of many persons, on that subject in Lexington. In 1845 Marshall again entered the political field and ran for Congress against the Hon. Garrett Davis. Some time before the district had given Clay a majority of , 5000, and Governor William Owsley, when he defeated Butler, a majority of 1,300. Marshall was beaten by Davis, 700 votes. During the canvass he gave a full and graphic history of the Congress of which he was a member, and vindicated his vote for James K. Polk on national grounds. He declared that, under similar circumstances, he would  have voted against General Washington himself, and that the territory between the Sabine and the Rio Grande, and stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, was worth more to the United States than four year's administration of the government by any man who ever had been or ever would be born. In 1846 Mr. Marshall raised a troop of cavalry, was chosen captain, and served in that capacity in Mexico for twelve months. He made a gallant soldier, but, without fault of his, lost the opportunity of taking part in the battle of Buena Vista. After the war he returned to his native State. A convention was soon after called to revise the Constitution of Kentucky. He was a candidate for a seat in that body, and was beaten, because he was strongly in favor of reviving his old favorite, the law against the importation of slaves into the State, which had been repealed and which he desired to incorporate into the Constitution as part of the fundamental law. In 1850 the question of the adoption or rejection of the new Constitution was to be submitted to the people. Some of the most talented men in the State arrayed themselves against its adoption. Among these was Mr. Marshall. As editor of a newspaper published at Frankfort, called the ‘Old Guard,’ he came into the battle champing like a war steed, his whole armor on, impatient to measure strength with the most dauntless champions of the new Constitution. In a series of leading editorials, addressed ‘To the people of Kentucky,’ he gave the proposed Constitution a most thorough and searching analysis. To use one of his own expressions, he ‘struck at it, root and branch; he raked it—hull, mast and rigging.’ These letters show conclusively that Mr. Marshall was as skilful in the use of the pen as he had proved himself to be in the use of the tongue. Edmund Burke once told a friend his idea of a truly fine sentence. ‘It consists,’ said he, ‘in a union of thought, feeling, and imagery of a striking truth, and a corresponding sentiment rendered doubly striking by the force and beauty of figurative language.’ Mr. Marshall seems to have had the same idea of a ‘fine sentence.’ In his writings and speeches will be found sentences without number modelled upon this just conception. Indeed, all through life he paid the greatest attention to his literary style. He elaborated it with great care, and hence was acquired that remarkable production—‘the last work of combined study and genius—’ his rich, clear, correct, harmonious and weighty style of prose. And it was always perspicuous; you could look through the crystal water of the style down to the golden sands of the thought.  In 1851 the claims of both Crittenden and Dixon to a seat in the United States Senate were being urged with zeal and warmth by their respective friends. The rivalry of two such champions created quite a breach in the Whig party of the State. Mr. Marshall being a warm personal and political friend of Crittenden, urged his claims to the position with his accustomed energy and ability. Misrepresentation grew out of his course. He was accused of hostility to Clay, and he was more than once charged with being mainly instrumental in bringing about the unfortunate disruption of the party. In defence of himself, and to give more fully his views with regard to the senatorial contest, he wrote a vigorous letter to the Louisville Journal in November, 1851. Apart from its value as an epitome of then current political history, it was one of the happiest literary successes, and has merits of the highest order. Bold in its originality, grand in its conception, of brilliancy, depth and classic finish, it will vie with similar productions of the ablest masters. We give an extract which forms a very picturesque characterization of Henry Clay:
Mr. Clay did fall in 1828, and from a lofty height; but sprang, as he always springs, like the antique wrestler, the stronger from his fall, more terrible on the rebound than he was ere shaken from his feet. I have studied his life, his speeches, his actions, his character; I have heard him at the bar and in the Senate; I have seen him in his contests with other men, when all the stormy passions of his tempestuous soul were lashed by disappointment and opposition to the foaming rage of the ocean; when all the winds are unchained, and sweep in full career over the free and bounding bosom of the deep. He owes less of his greatness to education or to art than any man living. He owes less of his commanding influence to other men than any great leader I have ever known, or of whom I have ever heard. He consults nobody, he leans upon nobody, he fears nobody; he wears nature's patent of nobility forever on his brow; he stalks among men with an unanswerable and never-doubting air of command; his sweeping and imperial pride, his indomitable will, his unquailing courage, challenge from all submission or combat. With him there can be no neutrality. Death, tribute, or the koran is his motto. Great in speech, great in action, his greatness is all his own. He is independent alike of history or the schools; he knows little of either, and despises both. His ambition, his spirit, and his eloquence are all great, natural, and entirely his own. If he is like anybody, he does not know it. He has never studied models, and if he had, his pride would have rescued him from the fault of imitation. He  stands among men in towering and barbaric grandeur; in all the hardihood and rudeness of perfect originality; independent of the polish and beyond the reach of art. His vast outline and grand, but mild and undefined, proportions, liken him to a huge mass of granite, torn, in some convulsion of nature, from a mountain's side, which any effort of the chisel would only disfigure, and which no instrument in the sculptor's studio could grasp or comprehend.In 1855, during the rage of Know-Nothingism, he declared his opposition to the ‘American Party,’ and stated the grounds of his objection, at Versailles, in one of his most forcible speeches. In 1856 he removed to Chicago. He complained that ‘there was not room in Kentucky’—that he ‘had always been crowded.’ He determined to fix his home by the bright waters of the lake, in the young and rising city of the West. But his stay was not long. He returned to Kentucky in August of the same year that he had left it, in order to manage a law-suit of great importance. While in Lexington his friends, understanding that he was opposed to the election of Buchanan to the presidency, literally forced him to take the stump for the Whig ticket. Again he canvassed the State, spoke day and night, and got to Versailles the very day of the election. His exertions and exposure during the most imclement weather broke down his health. He was attacked by a violent fit of pneumonia, cough, spitting blood, etc., and was confined to his bed in Frankfort during the whole of the ensuing winter. One of Mr. Marshall's most finished orations was the eulogy on the life and character of Richard H. Menefee, delivered in Lexington, April 12, 1841, before the members of the Law Society of Transylvania University. Richard H. Menefee was a young lawyer and statesman of rare ability and much promise. His untimely death at the age of thirty-one was universally regretted. Mr. Marshall poured forth the eloquent sorrow of the State in a stream rich and full and strong. The annals of eulogy and panegyric may be sought in vain for a more splendid piece of composition. For some years before his death Mr. M. was engaged in delivering what he called ‘Discourses on History.’ Invitations poured in upon him from all parts of the country—villages, towns and cities. People everywhere sat fascinated under the spell of his wondrous speech. He would stand for three hours, without note, memorandum or a scrap of paper before him, and the eloquence would stream from his lips like moonlight upon a marble statue. But the sands in the hour-glass of his life were fast running out. In spite of repeated  efforts at reformation, he still continued to relapse into the excessive use of stimulants. The hand of death was on him; he knew it, and he desired to die near his old home in Versailles. He was taken there, and there died on the 22d day of September, 1864, with the pathetic words upon his lips: ‘Here I lie in a borrowed house, on a borrowed bed, and under a borrowed blanket. God pity me!’ Mr. Marshall was noted all over this country for the brilliancy of his wit and the quickness of his repartee. It has been said that one of the neatest retorts ever made by a public speaker was that made by Coleridge to some marks of disapprobation during his democratic lectures at Bristol: ‘I am not at all surprised that when the red-hot prejudices of aristocrats are suddenly plunged into the cool element of reason, they should go off with a hiss.’ Happy as was this reply, it was surpassed in overwhelming effect by the somewhat irreverent one made by Mr. Marshall, towards the close of his life, at Buffalo, New York. He was making a speech to a crowded audience in that city when he was interrupted by a political opponent, who, pretending not to hear distinctly, tried to embarrass him by putting his hand to his ear and crying out, ‘Louder!’ Mr. M., thereupon, pitched his voice several times on a higher and yet higher key; but the only effect on his tormenter was to draw forth a still more energetic cry of ‘Louder! please, sir, louder!’ At last, being interrupted for the fourth time and in the midst of one of his most thrilling appeals, Mr. Marshall, indignant at the trick, as he now discovered it to be, paused for a moment, and fixing his eyes first on his enemy and then on the presiding officer, said: ‘Mr. President, on the last day, when the angel Gabriel shall have descended from the heavens, and, placing one foot upon the sea and the other upon the land, shall lift to his lips the golden trumpet, and proclaim to the living and to the resurrected dead that time shall be no more, I have no doubt, sir, that some infernal fool from Buffalo will start up and cry out, “Louder, Gabriel, louder!” ’ Marshall went on with his speech, but there were no more cries of ‘louder.’ But the jokes and stories in which he figures are innumerable. During the political campaigns, and often at the bar, they are told and re-told down to the present day. He was once defending a man charged with murder in Jessamine County, Kentucky, Judge Lusk presiding. The testimony against the prisoner was strong, and Marshall struggled hard on the cross-examination, but to little purpose, for the old judge was inflexible in his determination to rule out all the improper testimony offered on the part of the defence. At last  he worked himself into a high state of excitement, and remarked that ‘Jesus Christ was convicted upon just such rulings of the court that tried him.’ “Clerk,” said the judge, ‘enter a fine of ten dollars against Mr. Marshall.’
Well, this is the first time I ever heard of anybody being fined for abusing Pontius Pilate,was the quick response. Here the judge became very indignant, and ordered the clerk to enter another fine of twenty dollars. Marshall arose with that peculiar mirth-provoking expression that no one can imitate, and addressed the court with as much gravity as circumstances would permit, as follows:
If your Honor pleases, as a good citizen, I feel bound to obey the order of this court, and intend to do so in this instance; but as I don't happen to have thirty dollars about me, I shall be compelled to borrow it from some friend, and, as I see no one present whose confidence and friendship I have so long enjoyed as your Honor's, I make no hesitation in asking the small favor of a loan for a few days, to square up the amount of the fines that you have caused the clerk to enter against me.This was what Dick Swiviller used to call an ‘inscrutable staggerer.’ The judge looked at Marshall, and then at the clerk, and finally said, ‘Clerk, remit Mr. Marshall's fines; the State is better able to lose thirty dollars than I am.’ He was once a candidate against General James S. Pilcher, at one time mayor of the city of Louisville. The general made a long and telling speech, for it was full of good stories if not good language and deep learning, and had closed by telling his audience that he was raised a plain country lad, and had never been to school more than about three months in his life. Marshall arose, and in that humorous way peculiar to himself, remarked: ‘My friend has told you that his school education was confined to the short period of three months time; for myself, I was much surprised to hear that the gentlemen had been to school at all.’ In an important suit before the Kentucky Court of Appeals, Marshall was pitted against Henry Clay, with whom, at the time, he was not on the best of terms. Marshall spoke first, and attacked with all hir energy the positions he supposed Clay would assume. ‘You can barely imagine,’ said he, subsequently, alluding to the case, ‘my immense mortification when Clay concluded a splendid speech without even alluding to anything I had said.’ On another occasion Marshall was engaged in a trial before a justice of the peace, whom he tried to convince that he had made an  erroneous decision on a certain point of law, and for this purpose he cited authorities from King Solomon all the way down, piling tome on tome, till the justice was ready to swear that he didn't care a button for all his books or Tom Marshall either. After Marshall had exhausted all his fund of argument and eloquence to no effect, he said: ‘Will your Honor please fine me ten dollars for contempt of court?’ ‘For what?’ asked the astonished magistrate. ‘You have committed no contempt of court.’ ‘But,’ replied Marshall, in his own provokingly ludicrous way, ‘I assure you that I have an infernal contempt for it.’ A young limb of the law, named McKay, who had heard of this anecdote of Marshall, once attempted to imitate it, and was punished as all imitators deserve to be. He was employed to prosecute a man indicted for larceny before a committing court composed of three magistrates. On hearing the testimony they refused to commit the prisoner to jail. McKay concluded to take revenge on the magistrates, and accordingly began the attack. ‘I wish your worships would fine me five dollars for contempt of court.’ ‘Why, Mr. McKay?’ ‘Because I feel a very decided contempt for the court.’ ‘Your contempt for the court is not more decided than the court's contempt for you,’ was the response of one of the magistrates. Mr. Marshall took great delight in relating an adventure which he once had with the celebrated Tom Corwin, the swarthy senator from Ohio. Marshall had stopped overnight at Lebanon, Mr. Corwin's place of residence, and registered himself at the hotel as Mr. Marshall, of Kentucky. While sitting in the public room in the evening he noticed a neatly dressed colored man enter the hall, and, approaching the register, begin to read it. When he had reached Marshall's name he read it aloud, and asked the clerk ‘if Mr. Marshall was in the hotel.’ The clerk replied by pointing him to the gentleman in question. The colored man approached Marshall, saluted him very respectfully, and asked if he belonged to the Lexington family of Marshalls. Marshall was, as he expressed it afterward, ‘somewhat put out by the familiar manner of the “cullerd gemman,” ’ but answered civilly that he did. The colored man was delighted to hear it, and to meet him. ‘I had,’ he said, ‘the honor and pleasure of serving with Thomas F. Marshall from 1841 to 1843.’ Marshall thinking he had met with one of the old family servants who had ‘run away’ from slavery in Kentucky to freedom in Ohio, was about to ply him with questions, but found no opportunity of ‘getting in a word edgeways.’ The colored man asked, in rapid  succession, after the various members of the family, spoke feelingly and familiarly of old Humphrey Marshall, and at last asked if the gentleman was acquainted with Henry Clay. On Marshall replying in the affirmative, the colored gentleman began to tell, in a voice intended for the little crowd of listeners who had gathered around, some reminiscences of Clay, one of which he began by the remark, ‘When I was in Congress with Mr. Clay—’ ‘You in Congress with Mr. Clay?’ interrupted Marshall—‘you in Congress?’ ‘Yes, sir; Yes, sir. My name is Tom Corwin.’ ‘Tom Corwin?’ exclaimed Marshall. ‘Excuse me, my dear sir, but I thought you were some runaway negro.’ As an orator Mr. Marshall was one of the most powerful and fascinating that ever spoke from a platform in the West. Wherever he was announced to speak crowds thronged to hear him. He was impassioned, magnetic, fluent—at times almost choked with the rushing multitude of his words. He had a high opinion of the oratorical art—of what he called a ‘perfect speech.’ Here, in a condensed form, was his idea of a great speech, as near as we can formulate it:
A great speech is a great work of art, and all great works of art are the outcome of one coherent, harmonious, well-proportioned whole—one single conception. The all—important fundamental fault of most ‘orations’ is the failure to perceive this, or else the failure to act on the perception. It is in oratory as it is in architecture and painting; there are certain features to be brought out in strong, bold prominence, and upon these all the forces at command may be lavished. All other features are merely subsidiary and must be placed in abeyance. In every great speech there are certain ‘points’ to be wrought up to, to be prepared for. It is only at these points that really great orators give full play to their powers. They reserve their strength, their voice, their language, their gesticulation, and all their passion for them. Even here, “in the very torrent, tempest and whirlwind of their passion,” they must, if they are to rise to the very height of their great art, endeavor to “acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness.” Where you may find a hundred men ready of tongue, fluent of action, able in argument, and solid in matter, you will not find more than one, at the most, who can thus make all his powers combine in the production of a real work of art—a well-proportioned speech.In person Mr. Marshall was tall and commanding in appearance, measuring six feet and two inches, erect and well-proportioned. He  had passed through a variety of scenes in life—scenes of romance and adventure—and had known much of pleasure and much of sorrow. He was at times bitterly sarcastic, and hence it was sometimes said that he wanted heart and generosity and kindness of feeling. But his was that sarcastic levity of tongue, ‘the stinging of a heart the world hath stung.’ And while it cannot be denied that he had somewhat of the soeva indignatio of Swift, yet those who knew him best aver that he was kind and gentle and generous to a fault. During the course of his public career he fought four duels, one of them with James Watson Webb, then editor of the New York Courier and Enquirer. He deeply regretted the necessity that forced him into duelling, but it was the universal custom of the country, and Mr. Marshall could never brook an aspersion on his courage. He was attended all his life after reaching manhood by an evil spirit, and it certainly speaks volumes for the strength of his intellect to say that, notwithstanding the almost omnipotent sway exercised over him by this evil spirit, and, at times, his abject bondage to its malign influence, he nevertheless became a brilliant and magnificient orator, an able and profound lawyer, and a far-seeing and sagacious statesman.
First North Carolina Infantry of Confederate States Army. Roster of its commissioned officers.The following papers, the Roster and the song ‘Twenty-eighth Regiment North Carolina Volunteers,’ are kindly furnished by General James H. Lane, of the Agricultural and Mechanical College, Auburn, Alabama. General Lane writes:
As soon as the Twenty-eighth North Carolina Volunteers had organized at High Point, it was ordered to Wilmington. Although I had only two acquaintances in the regiment, I was unanimously elected Colonel, a compliment that took me completely by surprise. I was at the time Lieutenant-Colonel of the First North Carolina Volunteers, stationed at Camp Fayetteville, near Yorktown. On reaching Wilmington I found a regiment amply making up in patriotic ardor what it lacked in military knowledge. The camp was full of this “Dixie” song printed on slips of paper, and everybody in the regiment was singing  it. You will perceive that it gives the home or local names of all of the companies as well as the names of the captains and field officers. It was written by Lieutenant George B. Johnston, of Company G., afterwards Captain of the same company, and subsequently, for a short time one of my adjutants. He was a highly-educated gentleman, a “first-honor man” at Chapel Hill, a devout Christian, and one of the most delightfully social men I ever met. I could tell of deeds of daring by him, though he was rapidly dying with consumption, which evinced him one of the most gallant young men in the whole of General Lee's Army.