Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/359

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Field of Blood Was The Crater. 355

finally making their way back without a bayonet thrust or a sword stroke. The accuracy of this is in keeping with his claim of four thousand prisoners, who actually numbered 1,101.

He gives no credit to the men of the three brigades, who charged up this hill two hundred yards, and fought hand to hand, foot to foot, with bayonets and butts, pistols and swords, as desperately and daringly as ever recorded in the annals of war; and took from Burnside nineteen flags (Mahone 15, Saunders 3, Wright i.) Then that voluminous "Confederate Military His- tory," in giving its account, leaves out entirely the charge of the Alabama brigade under the chivalrous Saunders.

I shall always remember the splendid manner in which that glorious brigade did the final act which enabled General Lee to re-establish his line "without interruption."

Mahone' s brigade had recaptured the works on the left up to the excavation, and I could look back and see the Alabama brigade form ; n this valley, and charge in beautiful array up to the rim of the Crater, held by Bartlett, where, after a short strug- gle, the white flag went up and Bartlett and his men came out as Saunders' prisoners of war. No troops ever lacted more brilliantly on any field than Alabama's faithful sons under the lead of gallant Saunders on that day. While speaking of the infantry, I am not unmindful of the wonderful work of our artillery: and you saw the gallant Haskell with two little cohorts help to force the capitula- tion of the Crater.

I must pause to pay tribute to the bravest Federal general officer, William F. Bartlett, who fought in their front line, with the admir- able desperation that made him the foremost hero of all the officers who commanded the 70,000 Federal troops in our front on that day. Massachusetts never sent out a braver and more dashing soldier to uphold her honor than Bartlett, the Federal hero of the Crater.

Stung by the unfairness of such treatment from our own historians, I conceived a plan for a reunion of the survivors of Mahone's Brigade, who participated in the charge of the Crater, to correct the injustice to you and our dead comrades, and it resulted most successfully on the 6th day of November, 1903.

I have collected many personal narratives from those who charged with muskets in their hands and laid them aside to be read by those