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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/67

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Battle of Fort Gregg. 59

started his second column of a thousand or fifteen hundred men, and we gave them the same warm welcome that we gave the first, and more of it.

As soon as this column reached shelter and recovered breath they attempted to climb over the parapet, but no sooner was a head seen than it was withdrawn with a minnie ball in it. When it was realized that nothing more could be expected from the men in the trenches around the fort, then the third and stronger column started, and we had harder work to keep them out. When these several charges were made the troops in the rear cheered most lustily. There were six of these assaulting columns, and they followed each other about every thirty minutes, and each successive one was harder to drive off the parapet, and when the fort was finally captured, the parapet was covered with dead men in blue.

I am satisfied that the last assaulting column walked on the heads of the other columns, who were packed in the ditch like sardines in a box, for they made no halt at all, but rushed right on over the parapet into the fort.

Before the last assault was made the battle flags of the enemy made almost a solid line of bunting around the fort. The noise outside was fearful, frightful and indescribable, the curses and groan- ing of frenzied men could be heard over and above the din of our musketry. Savage men, ravenous beasts!

We felt that there was no hope for us unless we could keep them at bay. We were prepared for the worst, and expected no quarter.

Many of our captors were under the influence of whisky, and all were exasperated that we should have made such a stubborn fight, entailing on them a bloody massacre, when resistance was useless and vain.

So the cry was to kill, and but for their officers, who with cocked pistols made the men desist, all of us would have been murdered, and then too the jam of men in the fort gave us some protection, for it was impossible almost to shoot a Confederate without hitting a Federal. We lost about forty men killed in the fort after its capture, and fully that many Federals were killed by their own men.

It was ten minutes before the shooting could be suppressed.

I have been often asked how many men we had in the fort, and what was our loss, and what was that of the enemy. I am sure that we did not have exceeding two hundred men in both regiments. If all the twenty companies in the fort were equally as strong as Com-