previous next

[152] most of the companies, and four of them were sent in from the line and paid.

About half-past 11, Colonel Guppy ordered dinner prepared for his men, with a good cup of coffee for each, saying jocosely he could not ask his regiment to fight first-class on an empty stomach. He had his own dinner also prepared, and while we were partaking of it was in particularly good spirits. When nearly through, we heard sharp picket-firing far on the right, and in a few moments the roar of the battery, pitching shells into the woods. He left the table hurriedly, saying there might be something serious up, and went over to his men, who had just swallowed their coffee.

As I stepped out of the tent, an orderly galloped up to the Colonel, and the regiment immediately moved off to the right. The roar of musketry and the cannon rapidly increased in volume, and the smoke drifted down upon us from the battery, about one hundred rods distant. At this time, General Washburn and staff galloped by near where I was standing, and went into the line of fire. The battery suddenly changed from shells to canister, and the musketry broke out in great volumes of sound, completely overpowering the noise of the cannon. I kept an anxious look upon the line of the Twenty-third as it pushed rapidly forward along the margin of the prairie, finally breaking into a double-quick — formed suddenly — a terrible shout came back — a burst of smoke, and the regiment disappeared from the scene.

I turned about and instantly ordered my safe and army-chest loaded into an army-wagon, with whatever else could be tumbled in, and to leave the field, and my ambulance to be ready for instant departure. My associate, Major Brigdon, paying the second regiment to the right, I knew must be lost unless I could get him and his clerk into the ambulance, and I ran up the line, and fortunately was enabled to attract his attention in time. As I turned to make for the ambulance, I saw a vast line of cavalry sweeping down upon the camp, which had not an armed man in it — saw them gobble up the pickets, and come on with the velocity of the wind. Our mule-team was put to its highest speed, and fortunately made the woods, here about eighty rods across, before they could come up; but they sent their compliments in the shape of a shower of bullets.

As we emerged on the south side, the prairie was a moving spectacle of teams and stragglers, going at the highest speed. On our left hand, about a hundred rods distant, stood a huddle of soldiery in apparent disorganization — the debris of the brigade — all, indeed, that remained of it — about three hundred in number. The road we had taken led round an old field having a sod fence, near a mile out in the prairie, around which it turned at a sharp angle toward the south, compelling us to travel about a mile and a half to make half that distance in a straight line; and the rebel cavalry pressing behind, struck across this line to head off the train, instead of following us directly in rear. When we saw that cloud break out of the, woods into the field, it certainly looked as if the chances for going to Dixie were of the first class. It was the most exciting, not to say exhilarating, race I ever got caught in. Looking over into the field from the ambulance to see if there was a chance, we saw a battery gallop furiously up, and without waiting to unlimber even, twice poured a storm of shells into the advancing columns, and we had the satisfaction of seeing men and horses tumble in heaps. It was certain that without infantry support the cavalry would ride over the battery, and we were lost; but as the column of cavalry dashed madly forward and came in range, the guns vomited among them a storm of canister, and a regiment of infantry, which had been lying flat upon the ground invisible to us, jumped up and greeted them with a shower of bullets. They turned tail — to in a moment, what were left, and we had the consolation of seeing the tallest kind of a race, in which we were not partners. This check saved the train. The guns we are so much indebted to were Nimms's Massachusetts battery. It did wonders that day.

It was with a sense of terrible oppression about the heart that I looked over at the little group of the brigade, standing where they were when we emerged from the woods, only organized and in line — and thought of so many friends and acquaintances in the Twenty-third that I had twenty minutes before seen disappear in a cloud of smoke on the other side of the line of forest. That some had fallen was certain — while the brigade had dwindled down a handful. Who were lost? I felt little consoled at the regiments of reserves hastening to their relief. It was too late. The battle was over; the firing had ceased, and at the distance of a mile and a quarter the rebels were plundering the camp. As they fell into line, however, they advanced into the woods, and the rebels took to their heels, not having time to destroy one half of what had been left on the ground.

We waited over an hour in the road for news to come in. I found it impossible to procure a horse, or I should have gone back at once. First came a rumor that the brigade was all gobbled, though part of it was in plain sight; then that the Twenty-third Wisconsin, Sixtieth and Sixty-seventh Indiana, and Ninety-sixth Ohio had all been killed or captured. Finally I met a Twenty-third straggler, who reported the regiment destroyed, who was soon followed by an orderly, who stated that the regiment — what was left, seventy-three in number — were in the old camp, and then came the imperturbable Dwight Tredway, Quartermaster of the Twenty-third, with that perpetual smile on his face, looking for his trains, without the slightest trace of alarm or excitement. From him we learned that about ninety of the boys were left, and subsequently the number increased to about a hundred--that Colonel Guppy was wounded and a prisoner, Captain Sorenson the same; that Captain Bull was taken prisoner; that the brave and daring soldier, Alonzo G. Jack, and some others were

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 Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
Guppy (2)
C. C. Washburn (1)
Sorenson (1)
Nimms (1)
Alonzo G. Jack (1)
Bull (1)
Brigdon (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: