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The women of the Confederacy. From the New Orleans, La, Picayune, December 24th, 1906.

What they saw and suffered during the Civil WarMrs. John Randolph Eggleston recalls memories of the past.

The Unpretending heroism of the mothers of the South—In three besieged Cities—a soldier's strange Funeral— little Dramas of the war time.

Mrs. John Randolph Eggleston, of Mississippi, made an address before the General Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, at Gulfport, which was so flatteringly referred to by the delegates from New Orleans, that I have begged her permission to have it published. Her husband, Captain Eggleston, was an officer in the old Navy, and, like most Southerners, resigned his commission, and entered the Confederate service. CaptainEggleston and Mrs. Eggleston had their home in New Orleans before the commencement of the war. Without intending to do so, Mrs. Eggleston has paid the highest and best-deserved tribute to our Southern women I have ever read. I hand you the address herewith.

Mrs. Eggleston's address.

Daughters of the Confederacy:
In the name of the Mothers of the Confederacy, of the Mississippi Division, I greet and welcome you, and thank you for your presence in our midst.

It makes me happy to see so many of you here, and the fact that you belong to this organization, proves that you are proud of the noble heritage bequeathed to you by your fathers, and by your mothers as well; for the women of the Confederacy, though secure from the dangers of the battlefield, bore their part no less heroically than did the men.

The men gave, or offered to give, their lives; the women gave what was dearer to them than life—they gave the men they loved; [192] I will recall one or two instances to show the spirit of those women: I had a friend, a widow, who had only two sons; both enlisted for the war. The first was killed at Fredericksburg; the other was killed by the same volley that laid low our immortal Jackson, and this heroic boy, with his life-blood ebbing fast, had only breath to gasp, ‘Is the General hurt?’

When I was weeping with that poor mother, comfort I could not give, she said: ‘Both of my boys are gone, but if I had to do all this over again, I would not act differently.’

I knew a boy who belonged to the company that was organized in the village where I am now living. When he had been in Virginia more than two years, and had been in many battles, his mother wrote to President Davis, and in her letter used these words:

‘I notice that General Lee has gone into winter quarters, and there will be no fighting for several weeks. So, if my boy has done his duty, I respectfully beg that he be granted a furlough to come home to see me, for I greatly long to see him.’

Mark the simplicity and sublimity of that mother's words: ‘If my boy has done his duty.’

Bishop Polk gives an instance of sublime devotion of a Tennessee mother, who gave five sons to the Confederacy. When the first one was killed, and the Bishop was trying to say some words of comfort, she said: ‘My son Billy will be old enough next spring to take his brother's place.’

The only idea of duty that this heroic mother had was to give her boys to the cause she loved as soon as they were old enough to bear a musket.

Such was the spirit of your mothers and your grandmothers.

I will tell you of two funerals I attended—one in 1861, the other in 1865. In the early summer of 1861 I witnessed the funeral of the gallant Colonel Charley Dreaux, who was killed in Virginia in a skirmish before any of the great battles had been fought. Colonel Dreaux was the first Louisianian who sealed his devotion to the cause with his blood, and one of the very first from any State.

When he was borne to his last resting place, he was followed by a vast concourse of people with drooping flags, muffled drums, the tolling of all the church bells and the bands playing the dead march. It was a funeral that befitted a hero who had died for his country.

Very different was it later on. In the spring of 1865, I was in [193] Mobile. The enemy were pressing the siege at Spanish Fort, across the Bay the booming of cannon being heard above all the noise of the city.

I was attending service at Trinity Church, Mobile, for while the men were fighting we women were praying. As the services were proceeding, the roar of cannon being heard above the voice of the aged clergyman, we heard the muffled tread of men coming down the aisle, when, looking up, I saw four soldiers, in their worn and faded gray, bearing on their shoulders a rude pine coffin, which contained the remains of a comrade who had fallen that day at Spanish Fort. Slowly and sadly they placed the coffin before the chancel, they remaining standing reverently without a word. The clergyman began with the burial service. None of us knew for whom those prayers were said, but we knew that he was the father or husband, or son, or brother, or lover of some Southern woman.

We had no tribute to pay but tears. The services over the burial squad bore their precious burden from the church. They were passing by the church and swung the door open and services going on, they went in to have the last sad rites over their fallen comrade.

Some of us were slow to leave the church, for we knew it would be to return to lonely apartments. When I reached the door I saw one woman standing there-probably she saw in my face the same intense anxiety which I had seen in hers, for she said: ‘Oh, listen to those guns. All that I have in this world, my only boy, is there,’ and I said: ‘And my husband is there, too.’

It was my lot during those four years to hear the guns of three besieged cities—Vicksburg, Richmond and Mobile. I saw many partings on the eve of battle, but seldom did I see women weep when those farewells were taken—we parted with a smile upon our lips, but when night came our pillows would be wet with tears.

I have told you some things that I saw. I will tell you some things which I did not see. I saw no mother trying to keep her boys from going into battle. I saw no wife trying to persuade her husband not to go to the front. And I saw no woman who cried surrender. If you ask me to explain this, my answer is because we knew we were right, our cause was just, and now, once more, welcome, dear Daughters.

[194] From the Times-Dispatch, November 11th, 1906.

The great battle at Cedar Creek. In some respects one of the most remarkable of the war. Early's Thin gray line.

Story told by one who was desperately wounded in the fight.

Editor of the Times-Dispatch:
Sir,—I send you herewith a picturesque and interesting account of Godwin's Brigade, Ramseur's Division, Second Corps, at the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864. It is a soldier's tale, relating events as he saw them. It is by Captain Clarence R. Hatton, adjutant-general of the brigade, who received a wound in the neck as his brigade was charging, which would, in all likelihood, have killed anybody but a hardy soldier, such as he was.

General John B. Gordon, in his reminiscenses, which often erroneously refer to General Early, justly reminds his readers that General Jackson was never in any one of his great battles so much outnumbered as was General Early at Winchester and Fisher's Hill. He states that Early in neither of these battles had more than ten thousand men, including all arms of the service, while official reports show that General Sheridan brought against him over thirty thousand well equipped troops. General Gordon holds his figures somewhat when he states in a note that Early's army was scarce twelve thousand strong at Cedar Creek. But at this battle of Cedar Creek Early had a reinforcement of Kershaw's Division, which is supposed to have contained some two thousand men. Gradually truth comes to light, and it will tell a story of the heroism of ‘64, such as will command the respect of all and uplift the hearts of heroes in days to come.

Captain Hatton is now in New York, engaged in business, but we are gratified that he has found time to contribute to the memory of his comrades in arms the attractive account he has written.

General A. C. Godwin, his chief, was a Virginian by birth. A tall, lithe, auburn-haired man, who was a born soldier. He had [195] been in California for years, and left amongst his friends there a name well honored and remembered. The gallant tarheels who followed him on many fields until he was killed at Winchester, September 19th, were worthy of him and he of them.

In an account of the battle of Cedar Creek, I would suggest that, in order to appreciate it properly, we should first consider the attendant and preceding circumstances leading up to it, and, therefore, I will go back to some days before, when Early's army was encamped up the Valley. I cannot, at this date, say just how many days it was, but not very many. It was the last of the few days that fall that he allowed us to rest in camp all day (wash-day, the boys called it) without a move—not on the go, as usual.

On the day before the battle, early in the morning, I, as adjutant-general of Archie C. Godwin's Brigade (Ramseur's Division) received orders to have a muster, get up reports of the regiment and make up our brigade report of the forces present for service, tabulate it, and take it to corps headquarters. This I did, and rode over to corps headquarters, which was in a large white house, with large grounds around it and a grape arbor on the right side of it. Arriving there about noon, hitching my horse and going in, I was directed to a room on the right, where I found General Jubal Early and Colonel Hy. Kyd Douglas, the corps adjutant-general.

Thinness of Earlys force.

General Early took my report, glanced at the totals, and, handing it to Colonel Douglas, ordered him to have them all consolidated into a corps report, and Colonel Douglas ordered me and another young staff officer named Russell (J. B., I think) to proceed to consolidate them into division, and then into a general corps report, and tabulate it, which we did; and I remember distinctly my great surprise that the aggregate of Early's forces was only seven thousand, two or three hundred (7,200-7,300) infantry. The remarks were passed on what great odds we would have against us in Sheridan's 35,000 or 40,000 finely equipped, well-fed men, with repeating (or breach-loading) rifles—5 to 1 against us—to say nothing of their superior equipment of supplies, longer range cannon, etc.

I mention this to give my recollection of the number of Early's [196] force and an idea of what we had to oppose to the Sheridan host, which consisted of three corps of infantry (Sixth, Eighth and Nineteenth) and one of cavalry, with a numerous and well-equipped artillery.

Enemy deceived by Strategy.

Now, as to the battle. I have always thought and contended that the manoeuvres made by Early on October 18th (the day before) should be considered a part of the battle of Cedar Creek—that our movement out of our camp around against their extreme right flank, on the Back of Little Mountain—going there by the more open roads, when their outpost could see us now and then—making the demonstration of force, and then withdrawing by the more curved roads, and through the woods back to our camp, was purely a feint, or maneuvre, made solely to deceive them into the belief that we were going to turn or attack their right flank, whilst in reality Early's actual purpose was to make a surprise attack against their left and rear, as was actually made that night, and that it did actually deceive them, as intended results show. And I think that when all this, and their overwhelming numbers, etc., is considered, in conjunction with our subsequent movements and attack that night and next morning, it constituted one of the most brilliant strategical movements of the whole war—probably only surpassed by some of Stonewall Jackson's—as at Chancellorsville—[see a the first article in this volume] and, in fact, this battle, taken as a whole, I have never been able to find a counterpart anywhere in history.

Preparing for the assault.

Soon after getting back to camp (from our feint) orders came to feed up and be prepared to move—then a little after dark, orders to get into light marching order—to leave canteens and everything calculated to make any noise in marching—ammunition up—or fill cartridge boxes—fall in—move.

Then we knew we were in for some heavy fighting, and our boys were eager to get it too—for they wanted a chance to get back at them for Berryville Pike (September 19th), where they pushed us hard to hold the Pike.

There near Winchester they had killed our much beloved General Archie Godwin, and it came near being worse for us than at Cedar Creek. It would, too, but for Godwin's Brigade, which held them [197] back against vast odds on the Berryville Pike, and kept them from getting into Winchester, in the rear of our army and trains, and thereby cutting off the rest of the army, which extended away over to beyond the Martinsville Pike, where Rodes was killed. It was right in the Berrville Pike, while praising his men for having just repulsed a heavy assault, thereby saving our right flank, which we covered, from being turned and the army cut off, that our dear General Archie C. Godwin was killed (and who, by the way, never got the credit which was justly his due).

Moving in position for the morrow's battle.

It was soon after dark, on the 18th October, 1864, that we moved out of camp, up the hill, from the little valley to the left of Fisher's Hill, where our camp had been located, over the Valley Pike, and across the river and along the foothills of the mountains or side of it. At times the mountain appeared to be right over the river. Slowly, silently, and stealthily we moved, sometimes in a bridle-path, sometimes in no path at all. Through the woods the hillside was so steep or slanting I got off my horse and walked for safety. Onward, mostly in single file, we moved, through the darkness of night and woods, until nearly daybreak the head of the column was halted and men closed up. We were then near the Bowman's lower ford, where we crossed the Shenandoah the second time.

As soon as we had our men up and formed, whilst it was yet in the gray dawn before daylight, and a mist hanging over, so we could not see fifty feet, we were ordered forward, and charged across the Shenandoah River, preceded (so far as I could see and understand at the time, and I was right at the head of the column) by only a few cavalry as an advance outpost guard. I see General John B. Gordon, in his ‘Reminiscenses,’ says his own division preceded Ramseur's Division. Godwin's Brigade was leading Ramseur's; it may be another division was ahead, but if so, I did not see them, and I am sure I did not hear any firing until we struck the enemy, except a few scattering shots of cavalry picket firing, as we took it to be.

Struck enemy's left.

Soon, while the mist still hung over us, we struck the enemy on their left flank, overlapping them to their rear and to the rear of their breastworks. The first two or three columns or bodies we [198] struck did not have a chance to, or anyway they did not, form any regular line against us, but with a few shots fled to the rear, we pursuing toward the 'Pike and obliquely toward Middletown, as we were still holding the right of the advance. Every now and then we struck some fresh troops. Each succeeding body, having more time to make formation, gave us harder fighting, but none stood against our charges, but broke and fled. In fact, it was the most complete rout I ever saw. Finally, we had crossed the pike, and still advancing, we saw quite a large body rallying on the brow of an elevation in the edge of a woods, with a stone fence in their front on edge of a woods between us; the land sloped down gradually from our position to a low boggy space, through which a small stream (called Marsh Run, I think) ran about forty or fifty feet from and nearly parallel to their position, and from which was a more sharp or steep rise to their position.

This position, we were ordered to charge and capture. Straightening our line as we moved forward, swinging a little to the right, so as to get our left upon an even line with our right, and about the same distance from the enemy, our men moved as on parade—I never saw them in better line. I was on the right of the brigade (in fact, on the right of the army) and in front of our lines. I could see the whole movement as I glanced down the line, viewing it with pride born of the remembrance of the glorious work already done that day (and as many days before) and the conviction that the enemy could not stand against our charge, and another glorious victory won.

That ‘Rebel Yell.’

Onward we charge, the shell is screaming and bursting, and the rifle balls whistling and spattering through and around us—that yell, that glorious old ‘Rebel Yell’ ringing in my ears. With that eager, fiery, exulting feeling, which only just such a situation can produce—almost over the low-land, within about 40 feet of the enemy—our lines went forward. The enemy's lines appeared to waver and success was almost in hand, when a minie ball struck me square in front in my lower neck in that little V in the breastbone and passed back into the muscles in front of the backbone, where it has lodged to this day.

As our column came up and passed me, some of our men caught me as I was falling off of my horse, and straighteing me out on the [199] ground, supposedly to die. The men, charging on, gallantly drove the enemy from their position, routed, and I was afterwards told that this was the last charge made by our forces, supposing them too badly routed to make another stand.

That ball, of course, ended my personal participation in that battle, and I knew nothing personally of Sheridan's rally and afternoon attack, except in the finale.

I was picked up on a stretcher, taken to the field hospital, where I was laid on the ground, and a knapsack under my head, until the surgeons came to me. Dr. Sutton, Dr. Morton, and two or three more. They looked at the wound, ran their fingers into it, and, as they afterwards told me, felt the ball lodged in the muscles in front of the backbone, and seeing that the ball had abraided the main artery of the neck, from which I was bleeding like a hog, they concluded it would surely kill me to cut for the ball, and believing I would die anyway, just bound me up.

Back to Richmond.

The surgeons then sent me in an ambulance just starting with Colonel Davis, of our brigade. His arm had been shot off, and we were carried to the house of the Mayor of Strasburg, where he was taken in. As the drivers and helpers came out of the house some of our cavalry came dashing in, shouting: ‘ We are flanked! Get out! Get out!’ Jumping in, they drove furiously on, and when they came to a bridge over a ditch which crossed the road about midway to Fisher's Hill, in attempting to cross it they turned the ambulance over with me in it. In a few minutes bullets came plugging through the ambulance from the Yanks up on the hillside. Though I had been given strict injunction not to move hand or foot, for fear of breaking open the artery, I crawled out and into an ordnance wagon which a jam had temporarily stopped, although the driver threatened to brain me with his whip. So finally I reached Fisher's Hill, where I recognized the voice of our surgeons, and crawling out, was fortunate to catch one of the ambulances about to start with wounded for the rear, and so at last, to Richmond, etc., etc., etc.

Clarence R. Hatton. 17 Park Row, New York, 1906.

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