Charge on the Crater.
We were required to drive back the Federal
troops, who were then holding and within the very gates of the city of Petersburg
It was startling news; but our soldiers faltered not, and moved off at quickstep for the seat of war.
's Georgia Brigade, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel M. R. Hall
, and our Virginia
brigade commanded by Colonel D. A. Weisiger
, the latter numbering scarcely 800 muskets, constituted the first force detailed to dislodge the enemy, who held the broken lines with more than fifteen thousand men, and these were closely supported by an army of fifty-five thousand.
I remember that our regiment (the Sixty-first), which I commanded, did not exceed two hundred men, including officers and privates, and I am quite sure this was the strongest in the two brigades.
The distance from Wilcox Farm to the Crater in an air line is about one and a half miles; by the circuitous route taken by Mahone
's Brigade about two and a half miles.
I suppose we had marched the half of a mile, when we were commanded to halt and lay aside all luggage, except ammunition and muskets.
Fighting-trim was the order.
We then filed to the left a short distance to gain the banks of a small stream called ‘Lieutenant Run
,’ in order to be protected from the shells of the Federal
batteries by placing a range of hills between.
These the enemy were already viewing, within four hundred yards, with covetous eyes, and making dispositions to attempt their capture; for they were the very keys to the invested city.
When nearly opposite the portion of our works then held by the Federal
troops, we met several soldiers who were in the works at the time of the explosion.
Our men began to ridicule them for going to the rear, when one of them remarked: ‘Ah, boys, you have hot work ahead; they are negroes and show no quarter.’
This was the first intimation that we had to fight negro troops, and it seemed to infuse the little band with impetuous daring as they pressed forward to the fray.