Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/145

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The resources of the country through which we were pass- ing had been almost exhausted, and we had to gather up and eat the grains of corn left on the ground where the horses had fed, whenever we could find any. We were, moreover, constantly annoyed by the enemy's cavalry, which hung on our rear. Thus the retreat con- tinued until the afternoon of Thursday, April 6th. More than half of our men had straggled or fallen by the wayside from sheer exhaus- tion, but those whose endurance and grit had brought them thus far were ready to face any foe. Between 2 and 3 o'clock in the after- noon of the 6th we arrived at Sailor's Creek. The stream had been swollen by the rains of the past few days and the waters overflowed the banks. We waded across this stream and took position on the rising ground about too yards beyond. The ground was covered with a growth of broom straw and a few small bushes, mostly pine. Our line of battle was long drawn out exceedingly thin. Very soon after taking our position, the enemy opened a brisk fire on us from a battery posted on the opposite ridge, about 300 yards away. We had no artillery to return the fire. This fire did but little damage to my immediate command, but our brigade suffered severely further to the right. Their infantry then appeared in solid line. They moved steadily forward, reached the creek which we had so recently crossed, waded through, as we had done, dressed up their line, and continued their advance towards the rising ground where our men lay. When they had advanced to within thirty or forty paces of our line, the order was given to charge. In a moment we were on our feet, yell- ing like demons and rushing upon their line. It has always been a mystery to me why they did not then and there wipe our little band from the face of the earth. It may be that the very audacity of our charge bewildered and demoralized them. At any rate they broke and fled just before we reached them, but a portion of the line en- gaged in a hand-to-hand fight. We followed them to the edge of the stream, into which they plunged, our men keeping up a deadly fire on them as they crossed. It was during this charge that my company suffered most severely. One-third were either killed or wounded, more or less seriously.


Colonel Crutchfield was killed, and Adjutant Wilson shot through the leg, which had to be amputated. I received a slight wound in the shoulder, which, however, did not incapacitate me. After the nemy had retreated across the creek, we gathered up our handful of