Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/217

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On Historic Spots.

dramatic. The version with which I was most familiar told how Major Keenan, who as commanding the regiment, was directed to charge the advancing column of Jackson's men as they came down the road. With a smile upon his face, he repliedĀ : "It is death, but I will do it," and then, at the head of his column, he plunged into the seething mass of Confederates, like a second Arnold Winkelried, and was slaughtered with his entire command. The short time which the charge occupied, however, was sufficient for the Union forces to get a battery into position and thus protect to some extent the rear of Howard's retreating column.

But Major Morris says that this story, although so thrilling, is not true. "Keenan was over there," he said, pointing a short distance away, "and was ordered to go out and stop stragglers of Howard's corps who were coming down the road. The route of the corps was not then known. He moved in columns of twos out that road yonder, which leads into the main 'pike. When he emerged from the woods he fond himself surrounded by Confederates. There were only two things to do, either to retreat or charge. He chose the latter, and rushed pell-mell into the enemy, thinking to cut his way in and then out again. He had no idea that he was attacking the whole of Jackson's army. No order was given him to charge. The story is all romance."

Whether romance or not, there was something particularly stirring as we came to the road where the cavalry encountered the enemy, to think of that gallant and desperate effort which the Pennsylvania men made. Very few of them, if any, escaped. Major Keenan was killed and many of his officers. "The enemy were as thick as bees, and we appeared to be among thousands of them in a moment," was the description which one of the officers afterward wrote of his experience.


The resinous odor of pines filled the air as the party stood by the simple shaft on the roadside that marks the spot where Stonewall Jackson fell on the night of May 2, 1863, shot by his own men as he was returning from a reconnoitering expedition. It is a granite column, with inscriptions on each of the four