Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/86

This page needs to be proofread.


82 Southern. Historical Society Papers.

would close, still pressing onward, unwavering, into the jaws of death.

Was Cardigan's charge of the 600 more desperate, save that his was to defeat, Mahone's to victory.

The orders of General Mahone were obeyed to the very letter. The brink of the ditch was gained before a musket was discharged. The cry "No quarter" greeted us, the one volley responded, and the bayonet was plied with such irresistible vigor that success was insured within a short space of time. Men fell dead in heaps, and human gore ran in streams that made the very earth mire beneath the tread of our victorious soldiers.

The rear ditch being ours, the men mounted the rugged embank- ments and hurled their foes from the front line up to the very mouth of the Crater.

A clipping headed "A Grand Spectacle," in the Saturday Blade, of Chicago, 111., October 26, 1895, says: I asked an old soldier the other day what was the most interesting scene he had ever witnessed, and his reply was:

" General William Mahone and his troops on dress parade at the Battle of the Crater. It was the grandest spectacle ever seen on a battlefield. Men were falling like leaves under the raking volleys of the enemy, but there was not a break in the line that was not in- stantly filled up with a calmness and a precision that were sublime! "

CHARGED THE CRATER.

The Georgians, who did not charge with our Virginia brigade, formed in column of regiments, and at u o'clock A. M. charged the Crater; but they were met by such a withering fire that they re- coiled with heavy slaughter. Their casualties numbered 231.

Our bloody work was all done so quickly that I had scarcely an idea of the time it required to accomplish it. It was over, I am sure, about noon, and then for the first time I realized the oppression of the scorching rays of that July sun, under whose burning glow many sank from exhaustion. Our brigade captured fifteen battle- flags, and our own regiment owned five of the seven that I had counted in its front. The Georgians captured one. How many men rallied to each of these flags I can only estimate from the figures above given. The gth corps had been recently recruited, and its regiments must have been well up towards a thousand. General Burnside said he put every single man into action; so, from these facts and the captured flags, the reader may form a correct idea of