Battle of Winchester, September 19th, 1864.
Early this morning our cavalry pickets on the Opequon
were driven in, and it became evident that an engagement was imminent.
News came that the cavalry under Fitz Lee
, and Ramseur
's division of less than 2,000 infantry, were engaged by the enemy near Winchester
, and Rodes
' division left Stephenson
's depot to go to their assistance.
's division preceded us, and as soon as we reached Ramseur
, we were ordered to ‘forward into line,’ and almost as quick as thought, we were rapidly hurried to the attack.
General C. A. Evans
brigade, meeting overwhelming columns of the enemy, was forced back through the woods, and the Yankees
were pressing after them, and came near capturing some of our artillery, when Colonel Carter
and Lieutenant-Colonel Braxton
opened on them with grape and canister, and the Yankees
halted, and then fell back.
As they began to fall back, Battle
's brigade, which had formed in the rear of Evans
, rushed forward and swept, with loud shouts, through the woods, driving the enemy swiftly before it. I commanded the right company
of our regiment and brigade in the charge.
was not far from me, and General Early
himself rode near me as we entered the action.
I lifted my hat to the old hero as we ran forward, and noticed how proudly he watched our impetuous advance.
The enemy soon ran precipitately before us, and officers and men were in the utmost confusion.
We raised the well known ‘rebel yell’, and continued our onward run, for we actually ran, at our greatest speed, after the disordered host in our front.
We could see that they had a much larger force than ours, but we cared not for numbers.
We had never regarded superior numbers since we entered the service, in fact, we rather enjoyed it. The victory was then more creditable to us. We learned afterwards that the Sixth and Nineteenth army corps, with their full ranks and splendid equipment, were our opponents.
As we moved forward we passed scores, yes, hundreds, of dead and wounded Yankees, and a large number of prisoners were captured.
We passed entirely through the woods and into the open space beyond, when we halted for a moment, and then formed our line in the edge of the woods.
While the lines were being established, Major Peyton
, A. A. G. to General Rodes
, rode up, and an indescribable, unexplainable something, I know not what, carried me to his side, as he sat motionless upon his horse.
I had heard nothing, not even a rumor, nor whispered suggestion, yet something impelled me to ask, in a low tone, ‘Major
, has General Rodes
In an equally low, subdued tone that gallant officer answered, ‘yes, but keep it to yourself, do not let your men know it.’
‘Then who succeeds to the command of this division?’
,’ said he, and rode on to the next brigade.
The dreadful news of MajorGeneral Rodes
' sudden death, at such a critical moment, distressed and grieved me beyond expression.
There was no better officer in the entire army than he, very few as brave, skillful and thoroughly trained.
His men regarded him as second only to General Lee
, excelled by none other.
Robert E. Rodes
was born at Lynchburg, Va.
, and graduated at the Virginia Military Institute, served two years as assistant professor, and afterwards became chief engineer of the A. & C. R. R. of Alabama
He entered the army as captain of a company from Tuscaloosa
, was elected Colonel
of the Fifth Alabama, and soon after promoted to brigadier-general, and succeeded General Ewell
in command of the Fifth, Sixth and Twelfth Alabama and Twelfth Mississippi.
The latter regiment
was transferred, and its place supplied by the Third and Twenty-sixth Alabama.
He was wounded at Seven Pines
, in command of D. H. Hill
's old division, he led the advance and swept everything before him. His clarion voice shouting, ‘forward men, over friend or foe,’ electrified his troops, and they were irresistible.
They pushed on, under his gallant leadership, and completely routed the panic-stricken soldiers of ‘Fighting Joe’ Hooker
After Generals Jackson
and A. P. Hill
were wounded, General Rodes
was in supreme command, but he modestly and patriotically yielded to General J. E. B. Stuart
, who had been sent for by General Pendleton
of the artillery.
After this battle he was promoted to full major general, and put in charge of Battle
's (now Cox
' (now Cook
's), and Daniel
's (now Lewis
was a precise and somewhat stern military man, of resolute expression and soldiery bearing, and enjoyed the implicit confidence of his superior officers, as well as his troops.
A fragment of shell struck him behind the ear, and in a few hours this brave, skillful and trusted officer yielded up his heroic life as a holocaust to his country's cause.
He married the accomplished Miss Virginia Hortense Woodruff
, of Tuscaloosa, Ala.
, who survives with a son, his namesake, and a younger daughter, Bell Yancey
The young and gallant Colonel S. B. Pickens
, of the Twelfth Alabama, took command of the brigade as senior colonel.
He has commanded it nearly the entire time since we left Richmond
He was wounded during the engagement.
The enemy had Crook
's full, fresh corps and all his heavy force of cavalry as a reserve, and they came to the rescue of the defeated and routed Sixth and Nineteenth corps.
Our ranks were very thin indeed, and our lines stretched out far too much.
The enemy overlapped us for hundreds, I might say, thousands of yards, and we had no fresh troops in our rear to come to our aid. Sheridan
must have had six to our one, yet our weakened forces held their ground, obstinately and proudly, until late in the afternoon, when Crook
's fresh division drove back our small cavalry force under Fitz Lee
. General Breckinridge
, with Wharton
's attenuated division, repulsed them, but the troops soon became impressed with the horrible, unendurable idea that they were flanked, and began to retreat in confusion.
Just before this idea became prevalent, private John Attaway
, of my company, was shot through the breast by a minie ball, and called me, as he fell, to go to him, saying he was
I immediately began to walk from the right towards the left of the company, where Attaway
was lying, bleeding and faint.
I had gone but a few steps, and, while raising my right foot, was struck in the calf of the left leg by a minie ball, which broke the small (fibula) bone and badly fractured the large one.
The ball flattened and came out sideways, severing muscles, veins, tendons and nerves.
I was knocked down, but ordered two of my men to carry Attaway
off the field, the brave and faithful fellow urging them to carry me off first, declaring he would die any way, and that my life must be saved.
However, I had him moved away to the rear, before I consented for privates P. W. Chappell
and Tobe Ward
to place me on a blanket, and carry me to the rear.
As I was borne back, Attaway
called out for them to hasten with me out of danger, as bullets and shells and solid shot were flying thick and fast around us. His conduct was that of a true, magnanimous friend and generous soldier.
carried me as gently and quickly as possible toward some ambulances in the rear.
When we reached them we were told they belonged to the Louisiana
brigade, and I was refused admittance into one.
At this time the gigantic and gallant Colonel Peck
, who had been wounded and retired from the field, rode up, and ascertaining the state of affairs, ordered the men to ‘take him up tenderly and put him in an ambulance,’ adding, ‘he is a wounded brother soldier and must be cared for.’
I thanked the Colonel
, but he, in his bluff, soldierly way, interrupted and said he ‘had done nothing but what I would have done for him.’
Bidding a last farewell to my faithful men, I was driven to the Union Hotel
, then turned into a hospital.
(Note—Chappell and Ward
were both afterward killed at Petersburg
.) The surgeon examined my wound, and pronounced it a serious one, and dressed it, uncertain whether the leg should be amputated or not. In my own mind I resolved to die before submitting to its loss.
The surgeon promised me, in event our army was to evacuate Winchester
, to send me away in an ambulance, but a few minutes after shot and shell were fired into the Hospital building
, crashing resistlessly through roof, walls, chimneys, etc., and knocking down bricks, plastering, planks and splinters over the helpless wounded and dying, and the demoralized surgeons, hastily detailing two or three of their number to remain with the wounded, fled incontinently, forgetting, in their anxiety to escape capture, all thought of their
promise to carry me along with them.
Our scattered troops, closely followed by the large army of pursuers, retreated rapidly and in disorder through the city.
It was a sad, humiliating sight, but such a handful of wornout men could not successfully withstand such overwhelming odds.
I never saw our troops in such confusion before.
It is said that Mrs. General Gordon
, Mrs. Hugh Lee
, and other patriotic ladies, ran impetuously into the streets and eloquently pleaded with the retreating soldiers to cease their flight and stand and confront the advancing enemy.
Night found Sheridan
's hosts in full and exultant possession of much abused Winchester
The hotel hospital was pretty full of desperately wounded and dying Confederates.
The entire building was shrouded in darkness during the dreadful night.
Sleep was impossible, as the groans, shrieks, sighs, prayers and oaths of the wretched sufferers, combined with my own severe pain, banished all thought of rest.
, of Co. H., wounded in the thigh, lay on the floor beside me. Wat Zachry
, Sergeant Carr
and Tom Crawford
, wounded men of my company, made their escape from the city just as the Yankee
cavalry entered in. A few noble women of Winchester
ventured, with lanterns in their hands, to walk among the wounded and distribute sandwiches and cups of coffee with cheering words of comfort and sympathy.
One sweet, Christian woman came to me and stooping, placed her gentle hand on my pale forehead and said, ‘my poor boy, you seem to be in much pain, though so quiet, take some refreshments, and tomorrow you shall have a better bed than this hard floor.’
I thanked her, drank some coffee, and inquired what she had heard of General Rodes
She told me his body had been saved and sent to Lynchburg
Many of my wounded comrades wept aloud and bitterly on learning for the first time the fate of their beloved commander.
All seemed overcome with unaffected grief.
of North Carolina
, and Col. G. W. Patton
were killed, and General York
, lost an arm. The brave Capt. Tom Lightfoot
of the 6th Alabama, by whose side I have stood in many a battle, was instantly killed.
He was a younger brother of Col. J. N. Lightfoot
, The enemy lost Brigadier General Russell
killed, and Generals Upton
Report says that over 6000 Yankee wounded are now scattered over Winchester
in every available building.
houses have been seized and turned into hospitals, and their inmates forced to seek
The churches, too, are used.
It has been a victory bought at a fearful cost to them, if it be a victory at all.
, of North Carolina
, and Surgeons T. J. Weatherly
, of the 6th Alabama, and Robert Hardy
, of the 3rd Alabama, were left in charge of our wounded.
and I were moved to a well ventilated room on the second floor and placed on a comfortable mattress.
A short time after an elegant lady came in to see us, and inquired from what State we hailed.
I replied, ‘Alabama
,’ whereupon she said she had lost a favorite cousin, a captain in an Alabama regiment, killed at Seven Pines
He proved to be Captain Keeling
of my company, and the good woman, Mrs. Mary Greenhow Lee
(now of Baltimore
), proposed to take us under her special care, and to have us carried to a private house where we would be better provided for. We gladly consented, and, after a brief absence, she returned with some litters, borne by negroes, who still remained faithful to their owners, despite the corrupting influence of the Yankees
, and were carried to the law office once used by Hon. James M. Mason
, our Minister to England
, and his able partner, Mr. Clark
The office was on Main street, near Fort Hill
, socalled from the remains of an old fort erected there in the days of the British General Braddock
, and near the residence of Mr. Clark
and his amiable daughter, Mrs. Susan P. Jones
. Mrs. Jones
sent us some delicacies, and made us a brief visit.
I suffered much from my wound to-day.
A party of Confederates, perhaps a hundred, marched by the office, under guard, on their way to some Northern prison.
The sight was a painful one.
, Lieutenant W. H. Hearne
, Sergeant Lines
and private Watkins
, of the 14th North Carolina, were brought to the office and quartered with us. Captain Frost
, of the 4th Georgia, from West Point, Ga.
, died of his wounds in hospital.
The ladies gave him the kindest attention.
Yankees are continually passing our door, and frequently stop and gaze curiously and impertinently at us, and ask rude, tantalizing questions.
They do not wait to be invited in, but stalk in noisily and roughly.
Their conversation is coarse and insulting.
We have many conflicting and unreliable rumors of Early
Six families, in the vicinity of the office, have agreed to alternately furnish us with our daily meals.
They are those of Mrs. Susan Peyton Jones
, Mrs. J. N. Swartzwelder
, Mrs. Burwell
W. G. Kiger
, Mrs. Snapp
and Mrs. Marsteller
. Three times each day they send us very palatable and abundant meals, nicely cooked, and of fine variety.
Negro slaves bring them to us, and are very attentive and respectful, sincerely sympathizing with us in our sufferings, and openly declaring their purpose to remain with their mistresses (their masters are absent in the Southern
army), and not regard the seductive promises made by the Yankees
to induce them to abandon their life-long friends and homes.
Several pretty girls called to see us, and entertained us very agreeably with their charming conversation.
Among them were Misses Nena Kiger
, Gertrude Coffroth
, Sallie Hoffman
, Jennie Taylor
, and Lizzie Swartzwelder
They are true to the cause and encourage us much.
（Sunday). All the churches in the city, except one, are filled with Yankee wounded.
Our surgeons say our wounded will not number over 500, while theirs is between 4,000 and 5,000, nearly ten times greater than ours.
Their killed is said to be equal to our killed and wounded together.
Verily, a costly victory for them!
Miss Janet Fauntleroy
, a very pretty and intelligent young lady, came to the office and brought us some delicacies.
She is a granddaughter of Brigadier-general Fauntleroy
, perhaps the oldest officer on the rolls of the Confederate army, now over eighty years of age, and daughter of Captain Fauntleroy
of the Confederate navy, now serving his country on the high seas, aiding Admiral Semmes
, Captain Maffitt
, Commodore Maury
and other gallant seamen.
My wound gives me constant pain.
The torn flesh protrudes nearly two inches, and the severed nerves torture me much.
September 27th, 28th and 29th. Three days of great suffering.
Small bones are constantly working their way out of my wound, and the separated nerves and sinews keep me awake, night and day. The good ladies are ministering angels, so incessant are they in their kind attentions.
They are doing most excellent service in the Confederate
hospital, greatly assisting the surgeons.
We owe them a debt of lasting gratitude.
One afternoon, while in conversation with the beautiful Miss Nena Kiger
, a sharp piece of bone, making its exit from my wound, cut an artery, and ‘secondary hemorrhage’ was produced.
Miss Nena ran immediately for a surgeon, and, in an incredibly short time, returned with Dr. Hardy
, who promptly applied sulphate of iron and
bandaged my leg very tightly from the foot to the knee, thus checking the dangerous hemorrhage.
The blood flowed in jets from the artery, and I soon became very faint and deathly sick.
came to see me frequently during the day and night, and, although they gave me two large doses of morphine, I could not sleep at all for the pain.
Poor John Attaway
died of his wound at the residence of Mrs. Hist
He spoke often, while in his right mind, and in his delirium, affectionately of his mother, of Sergeant Stafford
brought me some parting messages from him. May his brave spirit rest in peace!
The severed nerves in my left foot, below my wound, caused me real agony.
My comrades in the office are cheerful and seem to improve.
of the 14th North Carolina, is a native of the North
, but is a true southerner in sentiment.
Some of our best soldiers were born in the North
, and deserve honor for their devotion to truth and their adopted homes.
Rumors are rife that General Early
will attempt to retake Winchester
This is very improbable, as Sheridan
's forces are too numerous.
Reinforcements pass by the office every day going to the front, and Early
's army must be a mere handful of exhausted, illy equipped men, incapable of any offensive movement.
The ladies bring us all kinds of reports, usually very cheering.
They always look on the bright side.
's men venture into the city quite often at night, to see relatives and friends, and gain all the information they can. They are greeted warmly, and secreted by the citizens until they are ready to leave the city.
They carry outmany letters for Dixie Land.
The risk they run is very great, but they are daring scouts, accustomed to danger and fond of its excitement.