previous next

[252] could do no more, and our brave boys fell back, surrendering the hill in front of our left to the enemy.

It was a sore necessity, but they still held the front. The calm, pitying moon looked down that night on the hostile armies bivouacked within sound of each other's voices. The din of conflict had ceased; the groans of the dying and shrieks of the wounded had died away with the echo of the artillery, reverberating amid the hills surrounding the beleaguered city. Heaven's eyes seemed to gaze through the countless stars in sorrowful reproach alike upon the glory and grief of that sad scene. The pride and pomp of military achievement bowed their heads mournfully before the inhumanity of war. I was at the hospital during the afternoon. Ambulance after ambulance drove up, and deposited its bloody and mangled human contents. Abundant surgical attendance, the sympathies of comrades, and the kindest of colored female nurses were there. Every thing that skill and attention could do was done; but no human sympathy can replace the mother, sister, or wife. No kindness can allay the anguish of a mangled and lost limb. One poor fellow, Captain Lee, of the One Hundred and Twelfth Illinois, had his upper jaw shot away, and his legs torn to fragments, yet lived twelve hours. As I carefully cut the pants and boot from another whose leg had been fractured terribly by a Minie ball, he bore the agony manfully. He asked if the leg could be saved. I told him I feared not. “Well,” said he, after a pause, “I can afford one leg for my country — take it off!” During a moment's cessation of torture, his eyes brightened, and he triumphantly exclaimed: “An't the One Hundred and Twelfth Illinois a bully regiment?” In the evening afterward, I recognized his leg amid a pile of amputated limbs. He had subscribed so much for his country.

One, a boy scarce fifteen, was brought in by two men. He was crying piteously. I questioned him as to his hurt, but could get nothing but sobs. I examined him, and found no wound. I learned afterward that a shell had burst close to his head, killing his comrade, but missing him. The concussion had probably ruptured the tympanum, and frightened him.

The female contrabands have proved themselves most excellent and faithful nurses — kind, willing, skilful, and indefatigable. It is note-worthy.

We are still in the dark as to the rebel positions, numbers, or intentions. We are besieged, but by no means blockaded yet. Our forage trains scour on the south of the river. The telegraph is still in operation, and communications are open with Willcox at Bull's Gap. Some dread an assault to-morrow. I do not. The rebels have secured no positions for batteries, and evidently are not in force sufficient to invest the town. Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing would not exceed one hundred. Our dead were, unfortunately, left on the field when we fell back. The enemy must, from the nature of the contest, have suffered more than we. The loss of General Sanders is a sad blow to his new command, who were much attached to him. It is hoped that his wound will not prove fatal, though very severe.

Thursday, November 19.--Alas! poor Sanders is gone. The saddest episode of the campaign was his midnight burial. To-night the pale moon never lighted up a more sorrowful group than surrounded his lone grave. The uncovered heads, the bronzed features, and manly faces of the generals, officers, and comrades, as they gathered around to pay the last tribute to one whom they had loved in life and honored in death, were a painful comment on war. Sad hearts were there, and tender regrets for the untimely fate of the gallant soldier, the genial gentleman, the warm friend, and the glorious fellow; but alas! no woman's tears were there to hallow his martial grave. No mother's prayer, no loving woman's sob, no sister's tears, to soften the pathway of the young General into the great unknown. He died a soldier's death, and found a soldier's grave. The dirge of the military band, the random firing of the enemy, the touching ritual of the Episcopal Church, read by Mr. Hume, there in the pale moonlight, served as the requiem of one who gave himself to his country.

General William P. Sanders was but twenty-eight years of age, a native of Kentucky, and a graduate of West-Point in 1856. When the war broke out he was First Lieutenant of dragoons. He was appointed Captain in the Sixth regulars, and distinguished himself in the Maryland and Peninsula campaigns. In 1863, he was appointed to the colonelcy of the Fifth Kentucky cavalry, but was retained by the Commanding General for special staff duties, and never joined the regiment. All are familiar with his achievements in the Morgan, Cluke, and Scott raids, as well as his own into East-Tennessee. He received his promotion to the rank of Brigadier and immediate assignment to a cavalry division only three weeks ago. He was skilful, daring, and vigilant; an able officer, a true patriot, and an accomplished soldier. As such he will be remembered and regretted by his contemporaries. He was conscious, and contemplated death as fearlessly as he had waged the battle of life. Bidding farewell to his friends, his last words were affectionate remembrances to his mother. He received the rite of baptism, and was buried with the ceremonies of the Episcopal Church. The gallant brigade, who so nobly withstood the brunt of yesterday, was relieved by Gilbert's brigade, which had bivouacked in the streets as a reserve for two days. In the afternoon, they were replaced by the Seventeenth Michigan, and Eighth Michigan cavalry at two o'clock. The enemy suddenly opened fire on our front with a twenty-pounder. One shell passed over General Burnside's headquarters clear into the river. Six shells landed in the town, but did not explode. No damage was done. The rebel sharp-shooters rendered the hills about Fort Sanders, on our left, unsafe for

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 People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
James Sanders (2)
O. B. Willcox (1)
John C. Scott (1)
William P. Sanders (1)
S. P. Lee (1)
Hume (1)
Gilbert (1)
Cluke (1)
A. E. Burnside (1)
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.
1863 AD (1)
1856 AD (1)
November 19th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: