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[372]

Fort Donelson. [from the Richmond Dispatch, June 7, 1891.]

Reminiscences of the Fifteenth Virginia Infantry—Death of Captain Dabney Carr Harrison—The Virginia State flag.


chase city, Va., June 5, 1891.
People appear never to weary in reading incidents of the late war. I recall some never published, and may be interesting to some of your readers.

It is well known that the battle of Fort Donelson continued four days in February, 1862.

On the morning of the second day of the fight my regiment (the Fifty-sixth Virginia of Floyd's brigade) was in the trenches awaiting an attack expected as soon as the light of day broke upon us. Captain Dabney Carr Harrison, a Presbyterian minister, commanded a company from Henrico county, Va., in that regiment.

An impressive scene.

He called his company to attention just as the first streak of morn gleamed upon us and repeated in a calm and impressive manner the 27th Psalm, commencing:

The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear; the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, come upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident,

and continued to the end of the chapter.

All the men around him listened with heads uncovered and bowed on that solemn and still, cold winter morning. Some repeated after him.

A strange dispensation.

But soon there was a strange dispensation of the Almighty. In a few hours Captain Harrison was mortally wounded while gallantly leading a charge on the Federal lines. Strange to say, only one other man of his company was killed. Captain Harrison was a true [373] type of a Christian soldier. I told Dr. Hoge of this incident in his friend's life many years ago, and my impression is, some mention was made of it in a sketch of his life.

Saluted Virginias flag.

Soon after Captain Harrison had finished the Psalm we saw coming along the lines all the generals and their aids. Our regiment had no Confederate colors, but only the standard of Virginia emblazoned on its folds, ‘Virginia, Sic Semper Tyrannis.’ General John B. Floyd passed us, looking sternly to the front. Generals Buckner and Bushrod Johnson simply touched their caps to our flag. Then came General Gideon J. Pillow, superbly mounted and splendidly dressed.

General Pillow's Tribute.

He reined in his horse and facing our regiment said so that all could hear, pointing to our glorious banner: ‘I trust to old Virginia my safety and my honor.’ The effect was electrical, and inspired the Virginians with renewed hopes and courage.

Buckner beloved.

But all the officers and men centered their confidence in Buckner. He had drilled our brigade the Sunday evening before at Russellville, Ky., and all knew him. He looked every inch a typical military man and leader. The result showed their confidence was not misplaced. Floyd and Pillow turned over the command to Buckner and escaped in safety. Buckner stood by his men and surrendered with them.

Prediction verified.

On the evening of the first day after fighting commenced, the Confederates took as prisoner a captain of an Indiana company. He was brought to my camp under guard, and while sitting before the camp-fire at night I asked him who commanded the Federal Army. He replied, ‘General U. S. Grant.’ When asked where he came from, as we had never heard of him before, he said: ‘You will know him well enough before Saturday night, and his initials are ominous, meaning, “Unconditional surrender” Grant.’ His predictions were verified, much to our astonishment.

T. D. J.

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