Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/170

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

old field which muffled the tread of the horses and got beyond Wilson's extreme left. We could hear the officers in charge of the battery in Airs. Eppes's field, giving orders for the firing. After getting some distance beyond Wilson's left, the guide thought the crossing through the swamp was sufficiently firm to get us over, consequently we turned in, but had not proceeded far when the young man suggested he was afraid it would not be safe on account of the boggy condition of the swamp. He said there was another crossing lower down, so we pulled out and proceeded further down, made a second attempt and again the guide thought it was too boggy. We could hear the old soldiers in the rear saying "the dominecker has struck that boy, but the old general will sit up with him until he finds a way over."

The sequel will show how unfounded were their criticisms. When we pulled out a second time General Butler remarked with some impatience, "Is there any other place we can cross," "Yes, sir," replied the guide, "there is a better crossing lower down, still." Well, we proceeded to the third crossing, started in and the guide suggested that he was afraid that was not safe. General Butler then turned to him and said, "Now young man, if you do not conduct this column over this swamp I will have you tied to your horse and send you in front." The result was we moved rapidly across, rather boggy in some places, dismounted, sent the horses back and deployed in open order, as far as a hundred men would reach. With that formation we were immediately in Wilson's rear.

Daylight was near at hand when we moved up and opened fire before the enemy had any knowledge of our presence. The scene that followed baffles description; as Old Bill McKinley says, the "fur flew." When General Hampton heard our fire in Wilson's rear he pushed forward to the main line and our friends, the Yankees, were literally between two fires. There was but one thing for them to do—get out of that "neck of woods," and they did so without ceremony or leave.

They were completely demoralized; they would rush through our thin line of skirmishers in squads of twenty or thirty, decorated with all kinds of paraphernalia they had stolen from the people on their raid. It was not uncommon for our boys to