Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/232

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228 Southern Historical Society Papers.

the cannoneers who were doing fatal damage in our ranks. The can- non belched forth fire and smoke, and bursting shells were hurt- ling among us. Wounded men were being carried to the rear, while we were saddened by the sight of motionless and lifeless com- rades. In obedience to instructions, I hurried forward through the lowland, and before we had gone two hundred yards we cap- tured seven prisoners, and I disarmed and hurried them to the rear. One of my men volunteered to take charge of and carry them back, but I replied that he would be needed in the other di- rection, and left them to surrender themselves to the main body.

Sergeant Patton of Company I, a native of Portland, Maine, a volunteer in a Mobile company, kept near me and showed great gallantry. We marched as best we could in line till we reached a deep sunken road, near enough to one of the batteries to shoot the artillerymen. The men were not slow in doing execution, and very soon we silenced the battery in our immediate front. Before we did so they turned their shot and shell, grape and canister directly up- on my small squad, and the limbs of trees and countless leaves fell upon us, cut down by the -enemy's fire. During a cessation in the firing Sergeant Patton obtained my permission to go up a ravine in front and discover what was going on. In a short time he returned, leading a horse, with a splendid saddle and holster of pistols upon it, and a young Federal soldier walking by his side. Bring- ing him to me we searched the young man and found a dispatch in cipher from General Kearney to General McClellan. We could not read it, and I sent the horse and its rider with the dispatch to Col- onel Gayle, who took the horse and his accoutrements, including the holster of pistols, and sent the dispatch to General D. H. Hill. The Richmond papers next day gave an account of the capture, and stated that the dispatch was important, giving valuable informa- tion, and mentioned that it had been brought in by a Lieutenant of the 1 2th Alabama Regiment.

Noticing the great and prolonged quiet in front of us, I ordered my men to crouch low and proceed beyond the woods into an open field, and there, to our intense surprise, we found a long array, in one line, of knap-sacks, haversacks, guns and cartridge boxes. I quickly found, by an examination of the baggage, that they belong- ed to the 2oth Mass. Regt., and we begun to open the knapsacks, which contained, besides clothing, numerous letters from relatives and sweethearts, and many pictures of women. From these I was