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To recapture the rifle pits

on our right as well as the Crater, and for this purpose the brigade would be compelled to right oblique after starting, so as to cover the points of attack—no man was to fire a shot until we reached the works, and arms must be carried at a right-shoulder shift. I was also instructed by General Saunders to inform the men that General Lee had notified him that there were no other troops at hand to recapture the works, and if this brigade did not succeed in the first attempt, they would be formed again and renew the assault, and that [85] if it was necessary, he (General Lee) would lead them. As a matter of fact, a large portion of the army was on that day east of the James river. These directions of General Saunders were communicated at once to every officer and man, and by actual count made by me the brigade had in line 632 muskets.

At the boom of the signal guns the Alabama brigade rose at a ‘right-shoulder shift,’ and moved forward in perfect alignment—slowly at first, until we came in sight of the enemy and received his first fire, and then with a dash to the works. For a moment or two the enemy overshot us and did no damage, but as we reached the works many were struck down and the gaps were apparent, but the alignment remained perfect. It was as handsome a charge as was ever made on any field, and could not have been excelled by the ‘Guard’ at Waterloo, under Ney.

On reaching the works the real fight began. Our men poured over into the Crater, and the ring of steel and bayonet in handto-hand fight began. Men were brained by butts of guns, and run through with bayonets. This melee kept up for at least fifteen minutes, the enemy fighting with desperation because they were impressed with the idea that no quarter would be given. The credit of capturing the Crater and all its contents belongs to Morgan Smith Cleveland, then Adjutant of the 8th Alabama Regiment, who now fills a patriot's grave at Selma, Alabama.

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J. C. C. Saunders (2)
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