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Charge of Kemper's brigade at Frazier's Farm. [from the State.]

The following graphic description of one of the most brilliant feats of the war is from a little book entitled ‘Four Years a Soldier,’ by Hon. David E. Johnston (judge of a judicial circuit of West Virginia), member of Company D, Seventh Virginia infantry, and afterwards sergeant-major of the regiment, and a splendid example of that noblest type of consummate manhood, the volunteer private Confederate soldier:

When our brigade had cleared the woods, it entered, in a most confused state, an open field, at the farther side of which, some four hundred yards in front of us, was a Federal battery with heavy infantry supports. The shots from this battery had been ploughing and ploughing through the woods from which we advanced to the attack.

So rapid had been our advance, that the men were not only badly [392] scattered and disorganized, but we had far outstripped in distance the supports on our wings, and were rushing wildly upon the enemy, who quietly and coolly awaited our coming; in fact, had so far anticipated us as to place their infantry supports in a commanding position immediately behind the battery, and had thrown out on the right and left in front another body of infantry, thus laying a trap into which they felt satisfied we would fall, and in which expectation they were not disappointed.

If the reader has never been in a fierce battle he does not know how a man's courage is most severely put to the test, and it may be well just here to give some idea, if possible, as to testing one's courage under such circumstances. Here our regiment is in line on the edge of a wood. Less than a quarter of a mile away is another wood. Between the two is an open field bare of the slightest shelter or protection. The regiment is advancing, and the line moves out into the clear sunlight. Men will hurriedly reason to themselves, “The enemy is posted in that lumber across the field, and before we move many yards he will open on us with shot and shell; this is perhaps my last day.” So each man reasons; yet every face is sternly set to the front, and not a man falters. Shell and shot come; dozens are blown to gory fragments; but the line moves on as before, and the living say: “ the fire will presently change from shot and shell to grape and canister, and then we shall all certainly be hit.” The prediction is well-nigh verified. Gap after gap yawns through the line, only to be speedily closed again. Now the regiment has lost its adhesion and marching step; its lines are broken; but the movement is still onward, and the rest of us reason: “ the infantry are supporting that battery; we have escaped shell and canister, but when the deadly fire of the musketry comes we shall surely be slaughtered.” Still there is no hanging back nor turning to right or left; no other thought but to push ahead. The leaden hail is upon us; the lines are further disordered, and the left wing has lost its front by several feet; but the others do not stop As we go on men grip their muskets tighter; their eyes flash, their teeth shut hard, only to open with a cry of rage as they rush upon the guns and bayonet the cannoneers at their posts; and then goes up that long, continuous yell of triumph to see the infantry supports running to the rear. Such is a faint picture of testing a man's courage in battle.

As our brigade pushed forward towards the enemy's battery, led by General Kemper, it met a shower of shot, shell and canister, and a storm of leaden bullets. The men never once faltered, but rushed [393] like a torrent upon the battery, routing the infantry, and Sergeant T. P. Mays, the ensign, planted the colors of our regiment on the enemy's guns. They were ours, fairly won after a severe and bloody struggle. As before stated, we had far preceded our support on the wings, had penetrated deep into the enemy's lines, had fallen into the trap set for us, and now, casting about, could see the enemy's flanking column closing in behind us. The men in the ranks could see all this as plainly as their officers, and a Confederate soldier, even at this early date, was his own general when he got into battle. So far as now recollected no order was received from an officer to retire; but the men seeing the critical situation in which they were placed determined to fight their way out, as they had fought their way in. At this juncture Sergeant Allen M. Bane, of the color-guard, mounted the wheel of a captured gun and shouted at the top of his voice, “Retreat.” Our supports were not near enough to strike a blow for our relief, and nothing was left but to make our way out as best we could. The loss in this retrograde movement was heavy-equally as great as in the advance. Most of the men succeeded in passing the gap before it was closed by the enemy, and in a few moments came our supports, who struck their flanking columns and sent them flying and scattered to the rear. One brigade rallied a short distance in the rear, but took no further part in the battle, which raged with great fury and varying fortune till late in the night. Among the terribly wounded in this memorable charge was Rev. John C. Granberry, chaplain of the gallant Eleventh regiment, now a bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

J. J. M.

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K. Kemper (2)
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