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[296] for the bank. Though Keelin was wounded three times by the volley—in the hip, where he still carries a bullet, in the left arm and in the side—he bravely stood his ground; and not having time to reload his muzzle-loading musket, he drew his big knife and awaited the onset. Fortunately for him the assent was narrow, and the attacking party could only climb up the steep bank one or two at a time. With his knife he slew two more of the invaders and wounded six others, hurling them gashed and bleeding down the embankment. Once he stumbled while aiming a blow at one of the party, and before he could recover a big fellow made a vicious stroke at him with a heavy knife. He threw up his left arm to ward off the blow from his head, and the blow severed his hand at the wrist, besides inflicting an ugly gash upon the scalp. He also received a dangerous cut in the neck, and another on the right hand.

With all these gaping and bleeding wounds the brave fellow stood his ground, fighting with the courage of a Bayard, and held the whole attacking party at bay. At last, Bill Pickens, the lieutenant who was commanding the Federals, seeing so many of his men fall before the invincible arm of the brave Confederate, called out with an oath: ‘Let me up there, boys, I'll fix the d-n rebel!’ But when he rushed up the bank he was confronted by the same weapon, gory with the blood of his subordinates, and, after receiving two vicious cuts, he too retired, calling off his men. They left the place hastily, leaving their three dead companions on the ground, but carrying off their wounded. They thought that a force of Confederates was encamped a mile or so up the river, and probably expected them to be attracted to the scene by the sound of the firing.

Keelin, desperately wounded as he was, remained at his post until relieved. He bound up the bleeding stump of his arm, and staunched the blood of his half-dozen other wounds as best he could, receiving no medical attention till after daylight next morning. After he recovered from his wounds, he continued to serve in the army to the end of the war, notwithstanding the loss of his left hand. He is now an old man, far on the shady side of sixty, and lives by the fruits of his daily toil in a little cabin in West Bristol. He is modest and retiring in disposition, and comparatively few people in this city, where he has resided for a number of years, have ever seen him or heard the wonderful story of which he is the hero. There are several persons here, however, who are familiar with the incident, and from an


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James Keelin (2)
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