Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/177

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Brilliant Page in History of War.

From the Birmingham Age-Herald, February 4, 1906.


Eye Witness Describes Bloody Battle of the Crater—
The Losses Were Heavy.

Gallant Conduct of Alabamians in Wilcox Brigade Related by Man
Who Took Part at Petersburg.

By Captain JOHN C. FEATHERSTON, 9th Alabama Regiment,
now of Lynchburg, Va.

On the night of the 29th of July, 1864, Wilcox's old brigade of Alabamians, at that time commanded by Gen. J. C. C. Saunders, which was one of the five brigades composing Mahone's (formerly Anderson's), division, was occupying the breastworks to the right of Petersburg, at a point known as the Wilcox farm. The division consisted at the time of Wilcox's "old brigade" of Alabamians, Wright's Georgia brigade, Harris' Mississippi brigade, Mahone's Virginia brigade, and Perry's Florida brigade(by whom commanded at the time I fail to remember). All was quiet in our immediate front, but an incessant and rapid fire was going on to our left and immediately in front of Petersburg, where the main lines of the hostile armies were within eighty yards of each other. There was a rumor that the Federals were attempting to undermine our works, and were keeping up this continuous fire to shield their operations. The Confederate army had dug counter mines in front of our works at several points, but failed to sink them sufficiently deep to intercept the enemy and thwart their efforts, as was subsequently proven.

During the night of the 29th (I think about 2 o'clock), we received orders to get our men under arms and ready for action at a moment's notice, which convinced us that General Lee had important information. We remained thus until between daybreak and sunrise of the 30th of July, when suddenly the quiet and suspense was broken by a terrific explosion on our left.