previous next

Anniversary of the battle of Boonsboro, Maryland.

September 14. This is the second anniversary of the battle of Boonsboro, where I had the ill luck to be taken prisoner in 1862, and kept 90 days before being exchanged. We had just reached the scene of action, met the dead body of gallant Gen. Garland, when an order from General D. H. Hill, through General Rodes, to Colonel B. B. Gayle, of the 12th Alabama, directed that skirmishers should be deployed in front, and while our precise Adjutant, L. Gayle, was looking over his roster of officers, to detail one in his regular turn, Gayle hurriedly exclaimed, ‘detail Lieutenant Park to command the skirmishers,’ and I immediately reported for orders. Was directed to carry my squad of forty men, four from each company, to the foot of South Mountain, and ‘keep the enemy back.’ I hastily deployed the men, and we moved down the mountain side. On our way we could see the enemy in the valley below advancing, preceded by their dense line of skirmishers. I concealed my men behind trees, rocks and bushes, and cautioned them to aim well before firing. We awaited with bated breath and beating hearts, the sure and steady approach of the ‘Pennsylvania Bucktails,’ who were in front of us, and soon near enough to fire upon. In response to my loud command the men fired, almost simultaneously, and we drove back the skirmishers to their main line. The solid, well drilled line advanced steadily forward, and my small party, as soon as they were near enough to make their aim sure, fired again, and every leaden messsenger sped on its unerring way and stilled a soldier's heart. At least fifty must have been killed or wounded by these two volleys. But they continued to advance, their officers cursing loudly, and earnestly exhorting them to ‘close up,’ and ‘forward.’ My men slowly fell [279] back, firing from everything which served to screen them from observation. Several of them were wounded and six or eight became completely demoralized by the unbroken front of the rapidly approaching enemy, and despite my commands, entreaties and threats left me, and hastily fled to the rear. Brave Corporal Myers, of Mobile, adopting a suggestion of mine, aimed and fired at an exposed offieer, receiving a mortal wound in the breast as he did so. I raised him tenderly, offered him water, and was rising to reluctantly abandon him to his fate, when a dozen muskets were pointed at me, and I was ordered to surrender. There was a ravine to our left, and the 3rd Alabama skirmishers having fallen back, the Yankees had got in my rear, and at the same time closed upon me in front. If I had not gone to Myers when he fell, I might have escaped capture, but I was mortified and humiliated by the necessity of yielding myself a prisoner. Certain death was the only alternative. One of the men, who ran away early in the action, reported that I had been killed, and my name was so published in the Richmond papers, and my relatives mourned me as one dead, until I was regularly exchanged and reached Richmond. The enemy pushed forward after my capture, and soon came upon Colonel Gayle and the rear support. He was ordered to surrender, but, drawing his pistol and firing in their faces, he exclaimed: ‘We are flanked, boys, but let's die in our tracks,’ and continued to fire until he was literally riddled by bullets, and surrendered up his pure, brave young spirit to the God who gave it. Colonel Gayle was originally from Portsmouth, Va. Lieutenant Colonel S. B. Pickens was severely wounded also, and the regiment fell to the command of Captain Exon Tucker, of Company D, who was killed at Sharpsburg three days afterwards.

Thoughts of that day's conflict bring to mind the names and faces of many of my noble company, very few of whom are still with me. I am grateful that such gallant spirits as Sergeants T. H. Clower, R. H. Stafford, A. P. Reid, J. H. Eason, W. M. Carr, and A. G. Howard, and privates P. W. Chappell, C. C. Davis, Pierce Ware, Tobe Ward, Lester, Moore, Attaway, and a few others are still spared as my faithful comrades and as true soldiers of the Confederacy. I am proud of them all, and regret that I can do so little for their comfort. All are worthy of commissions, and some would fill high positions most creditably. [280]

Late in the afternoon of to-day we were relieved from picket and returned to camp, where I have written down these thoughts of the stirring incidents of this day two years ago. Captain Dan Partridge, of Selma, is now our excellent brigade ordnance officer, and is ably assisted by Sergeant A. G. Howard, a disabled soldier of my company.

Many ‘grape vine’ telegraph reports are afloat in camp. None worthy of credence, but those of a cheerful nature exert a good influence over the tired soldier.

September 17. Rodes' and Gordon's divisions, with Braxton's artillery, marched to Bunker Hill.

Next day Gordon's division, with Lomax's cavalry, moved on to Martinsburg, and drove Averill's cavalry out of town, across the Opequon, and then returned to Bunker Hill. The Twelfth Alabama was on picket after dark. By referring to previous pages, I find we have camped at Bunker Hill July 25th and 31st, and August 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 8th, 9th, 19th, 20th, 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th, September 3rd, 10th and 17th. It seems to be a strategic point.

Grant is with the ruthless robber Sheridan to-day, and we expect an early advance. His force has been largely increased, while ours has been greatly diminished.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1862 AD (1)
September 30th (1)
September 29th (1)
September 17th (1)
September 14th (1)
August 2nd (1)
August 1st (1)
July 31st (1)
July 25th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: