A graphic account of the memorable action.
The editor is indebted to the gallant author for a revised copy of this excellent paper, which was published in the Norfolk, Virginia
, July 30, 1897, the thirty-third anniversary of the memorable action which is so graphically described.
The article has been highly commended by Henry Tyrrell
, the author of a series of articles on General R. E. Lee
, which recently appeared in Pall Mall Gazette
, a valued citizen of Portsmouth, Virginia
, is favorably known to the public by his contributions to the press, as well as an entertaining lecturer:
As the wild waves of time rush on, our thoughts now and then run back over rough billows, to buried hopes and unfulfilled anticipations, and oft we linger long and lovingly, as if standing beside the tomb of a cherished parent.
Thus the faithful follower of the Southern Cross
recalls the proud hopes that led him over long and weary marches and in bloody battles.
These foot-sore journeys and hard contested fields are now bright jewels in his life, around which the tenderest chords of his heart are closely entwined.
They are monuments of duty!
They are sacred resting places for his baffled energies!
They are rich mines from which the very humblest
actor gathers the wealth of an approving conscience!
He hears no paeans from a grateful country—no bounty rolls bear his name—yet these are sweet choristers ever chanting priceless praises to the zeal and manhood with which he faced his foe.
The veteran of an hundred battles always points with greater pride to one as the crowning glory of the many achievements.
So the soldiers of Mahone
's Old Brigade look upon the great battle which I shall attempt to describe.
My little fly tent, scarcely large enough for two persons to lie side by side under, was stretched over a platform of rough boards, elevated about two feet above the ground, in that little grave-yard on the Wilcox Farm
, near Petersburg
I was quietly sleeping within it, dreaming, perhaps, of home and all its dear associations (for only a soldier can properly appreciate these), when a deep, rumbling sound, that seemed to rend the very earth in twain, startled me from my slumbers, and in an instant I beheld a mountain of curling smoke ascending towards the heavens.
The whole camp had been aroused, and all were wondering from whence came this mysterious explosion.
It was the morning of Saturday, at 4:44 o'clock, on the 30th day of July, 1864.
The long-talked — of mine had been sprung, Pegram
's battery of four guns was blown up, and about 278 sleeping soldiers were buried beneath the upturned earth.
Immediately the leading columns of the Ninth Army Corps, U. S. A.
, commanded by Colonel E. G. Marshall
and Brigadier-General W. F. Bartlett
, pressed forward and occupied the Crater and the earthworks for a distance on either side.
Two hundred cannons roared in one accord, as if every lanyard had been pulled by the same hand.
The fiery crests of the battlements shone out for miles to our left, and, sweeping together, formed one vast range of gloom.
It was a great gun conflict, with thundering, booming, flashing, blazing, smoking, shrieking, thudding, crashing, majestic terrors of war.