by Reub Williams
Oh, Flag glory-rifted!
Like a flower of strange grace
Upon Lookout's grim surge,
On some Federal-fold
A new tale shall be told.
And the record immortal
Emblazon thy verge!
---B. F. Taylor
A War Correspondent's Story.
The stars and stripes floated from Lookout on Wednesday at sunrise. At twelve on that day, something with the cry of a loon was making its way up the river. Screaming through the mountains, it emerged at last into Chattanooga, and its looks were a match for its lung-an ugly little craft more like a match for its lungs-an ugly little craft more like a backwoods cabin adrift than a steamer, it was the sweetest-voiced and prettiest piece of naval architecture that ever floated upon the Tennessee. The flag on the crest and the boat on the stream were parts of the same story: first, the fight on the mountain; then, the boat on the river. Never did result crowd more closely on the heels of action. When the thunder began to roll around Lookout, the boys in line before Mission Ridge cried out: "Old Hooker is opening the cracker line!" And when the next noon they heard the shriek of the steamer, they laughingly said, "The cracker line is opened! and went straight into the fight with a will. They have a direct way of "putting things" in the army.
I do not think that going about Chattanooga last Wednesday morning you would have discerned an impending battle. The current of regular business was not checked; the play of men's little passions was as lively as ever. Jest and laughter eddied round the street corners and pepper-and salt groups of children frolicked in sunny places. But there were signs of heavy weather. The doors of the ordnance depots swung open the sentinels stood aside and ammunition was passing out. You could see "canvas-backed" wagons working their way out of town to the eastward, apparently but little in them, and yet laboring beneath their freight. Grape and canister and shot and shell make heavy loads as well as heavy hearts. A building here and there is cleared and strangely furnished with long rows of pallets. Ambulances set forth, one after another; they are all going one way; they are bound for the valley of Mission Ridge. And if all this should fail to set you thinking, yet there are things that may perhaps, disturb the steady stroke of an easy-going heart. Sitting with me last Tuesday night, you would have heard such talk as this. A chief-of-staff is speaking: "Jemmy, here is a package of money I'll leave with you till I come back." "Lend me your watch," sad a dashing young Major to a comrade, "and here's a hundred dollars if I should forget to return it tomorrow night, you know," and the officer swallowed a little memory of something and went out. You part the folds of tent after tent; writing letters here, burning letters there, getting ready for the longest of all journeys that yet can be made in a minute. "Well," said an officer that night, "I shall be in the hottest place in the field tomorrow, but do you know -the bullet is not run that will kill me," and the gallant fellow dropped off into a child-like sleep, while I lay awake and was troubled. And he told the truth-the bullet was not molded-for a little after four the next afternoon, a bursting shell carried away the "pound of flesh" that Shylock craved, and again he fell asleep in the arms of the All-Father, Good night!
If seeing one's self is an art, seeing for another is a mystery, requiring, I mistrust, a better pair of eyes than mine. But if my readers will accept a straight-forward, simple story of what one man saw of Wednesday's work, as bare of embellishment as the bayonets that glittered to the charge; here it is. You are standing on Orchard Knob, the center of our line of advance; Mission Ridge is before Fort Wood behind; the shining elbow of the Tennessee to the left; Lookout to the right. Never was theater more magnificent. Never was drama worthier of such surroundings. The same grand heroic line of battle, but a little longer and stronger, silently stretches away on either hand. Breaking it up into syllables and reading from left to right you would have Howard's Eleventh Corps; Band's division of the Fourteenth Corps, with the brigades of Turchin, Vandevere and Croxton; Wood's division of the Fourth Corps, with the brigades of Beattie, Willich and Hazen; Sheridan's division, with the brigades of Wagner, Sherman and Harker; King's brigade of regulars, and Johnson's division of the Fourteenth Corps. And then at the tips of each of the wings, on farthest left and right are Sherman and Hooker. Imagine a chain of Federal forts, built in between with walls of living men, the line flung northward out of sight, and southward beyond Lookout. Imagine a chain of mountains crowned with batteries and manned with hostile troops through a six-mile sweep, set over against us in plain sight and you have the two fronts-the blue and the gray. Imagine the center of our line pushed out a mile and a half towards Mission Ridge-the boss, a full mile broad, of a mighty shield-and you have the situation as it was on Wednesday morning at sunrise.
The iron heart of Sherman's column began to be audible like the fall of great trees in the depth of the forest, as it beat beyond the woods on the extreme left. Over roads indescribable, and conquering lions of difficulties that met him all the way, he had at length arrived with his command of the Army of the Tennessee. The roar of his guns was like the striking of a great clock, and grew nearer and louder, as the morning wore away. Along the center all was still. Our men lay, as they had lain since Tuesday night, motionless behind the works. Generals Grant, Thomas, Granger, Meigs, Hunter, Reynold, were grouped at Orchard Knob, here; Bragg, Breckenridge, Hardee, Stevens, Cleburn, Bates, Walker, were waiting on Mission Ridge, yonder. And Sherman's Northern clock toiled on! At noon, a pair of steamers, screaming in the river across the town, telling over, in their own wild way, our mountain triumph on the right strangely pierced the hushed breath of air between the two lines of battle with a note or two of the music of peaceful life. At one o'clock, the signal-flag at Fort Wood was a-flutter. Scanning the horizon, another flag, glancing like a lady's handkerchief, showed white across a field lying high and dry upon the ridge three miles to the northeast, and answered back. The center and Sherman's corps had spoken. As the hour went by, all semblance to falling tree and tolling clock had vanished; it was a rattling roar; the ring of Sherman's iron knuckles knocking at the northern door of Mission Ridge for entrance. Moving nearer the river, I could see the breath of Sherman's panting artillery, and the fiery gust from the enemy's guns on Tunnel Hill, the point of Mission Ridge. They had massed there the corps of Hardee and Buckner, as upon a battlement utterly inaccessible, save by one steep, narrow way, commanded by their guns. A thousand men could hold it against a host. And right in front of this bold abutment of the Ridge, is that broad, clear field skirted by woods. Across this tremendous threshold up to death's door, moved Sherman's column. Twice it advanced, and twice I saw it swept back in bleeding lines before the furnace-blast, until that russet field seemed some strange page ruled thick with blue and red. Bright valor was in vain; they lacked the ground to stand on; they wanted, like the giant of old story, a touch of earth to make them strong. It was the devil's own corner. Before them was a lane, whose upper end the rebel cannon swallowed. Moving by the right flank or the left flank, nature opposed them with precipitous heights. There was nothing for it but straight across the field swept by an enfilading fire, and up to the lane down which drove the storm. They could unfold no broad front, and so the losses were less than seven hundred, that must otherwise have swelled to thousands. The musketry fire was delivered with terrible emphasis; two dwellings in one of which Federal wounded were lying, set on fire by the enemy, began to send up tall columns of smoke, streaked red with flame; the grand and the terrible were blended.
If Sherman did not roll the enemy along the Ridge like a carpet, at least he rendered splendid service, for he held a huge ganglion of the foe as firmly on their right as if he had them in the vice of the "lame Lemnian" who forged the thunder bolts, but I thank God that not a tithe could be called into action; the day was won without it. General Corse's, Colonel Jones' and Colonel Loomis' brigades led the way, and were drenched with blood. Here its brave young Captains knelt at the crimson shrine, and never rose from worshiping. Here, one hundred and sixty of its three hundred and seventy heroes were beaten with the bloody rain. The brigades of Generals Mathias and Smith came gallantly up to the work. Fairly blown out of the enemy's guns, and scorched with flame, they were swept down the hill only to stand fast for a new assault. Let no man dare to say they did not acquit themselves well and nobly. To living and dead in the commands of Sherman and Howard who struck a blow that day-out of my heart I utter it-hail and farewell! And as I think it all over, glancing again along that grand heroic line of the Federal Epic-I commit the story with a child-like faith to History, sure that she gives her clear, calm record of that day's famous work, standing like Ruth among the reapers in the fields that feed the world, she will declare the grandest staple of the West is man!
The brief November afternoon was half gone; it was yet thundering on the left; along the center all was still. At that very hour Whittaker and Grose, under the immediate command of General Crufts, were making a fierce assault upon the enemy's left near Rossville, four miles down towards the old field of Chickamauga. They carried the Ridge; Mission Ridge seems everywhere; they strewed its summit with the dead; they held it, the Fifty-first, Ohio. Lieutenant-Colonel Wood, playing a part of which the "Old Guard" in the little Corsican's palmy days might well be proud. And thus the tips of the Federal army's widespread wings flapped grandly. But it had not swooped; the gray quarry yet perched upon Mission Ridge; the hostile army was terribly battered at the edges, but there full in our front it grimly waited, biding out its time. If the horns of the crescent could not be doubled crushingly together in a shapeless mass, possibly it might be sundered at its center and tumbled in fragments over the other side of Mission Ridge. Sherman was hammering upon the left; Hooker was holding hard in Chattanooga Valley; the Fourth Corps that rounded out our center grew impatient of restraint; the day was waning; but little time remained to complete the commanding General's grand design; his hour had come; his work was full before him. And what a work that was, to make a weak man falter and a brave man think! One and a half miles to traverse, with narrow fringes of woods, rough valleys, sweeps of open fields, rocky acclivities, to the base of the Ridge, and no foot in all the breadth withdrawn from rebel sight; no foot that could not be played upon by rebel cannon, like a piano's keys, under Thalberg's stormy fingers. The base attained, what then? A hill struggling up out of the valley four hundred feet, rained on by bullets, swept by shot and shell; another line of works and then up like a Gothic roof, rough with rocks, a wreck with fallen trees, four hundred more; another ring of fire and iron, and then the crest and then the enemy.
To dream of such a journey would be madness; to devise it a thing incredible; to do it a deed impossible. But Grant was guilty of them all, and was equal to the work. The story of the battle of Mission Ridge is struck with immortality already; let the leader of the Fourth Corps bear it company. That the center yet lies along its silent line is still true; in five minutes it will be the wildest fiction. Let us take that little breath of grace for just one glance at the surroundings, since we shall have neither heart nor eyes for it again. Did ever battle have so vast a cloud of witnesses! The hive-shaped hills have swarmed. Clustered like bees, blackening the house-tops, lining the fortifications, over yonder across the theater, in the seats with the Catilines-everywhere, a hundred thousand beholders. Their souls are in their eyes. Not a murmur that you can hear. It is the most solemn congregation that ever stood up in the presence of the God of battles. I think of Bunker Hill as I stand here; of the thousands who witnessed that immortal struggle, and fancy there is a parallel. I think, too, that the chair of every man of them all will stand vacant against the wall tomorrow-for tomorrow is Thanksgiving-and around the fireside they must give thanks without him, if they can. At half-past three a group of Generals whose names will need no "Old Mortality" to chisel them anew stood upon Orchard Knob. The hero of Vicksburg was there, clam, clear, persistent, far-seeing. Thomas, the sterling and sturdy; Meigs, Hunter, Granger, Reynolds. Clusters of humbler mortals were there too, but it was anything but a turbulent crowd; the voice naturally fell into a subdued tone, and even young faces took on the gravity of later years. An order was given, and in an instant the Knob was cleared like a ship's deck for action. At twenty minutes of four Granger stood upon the parapet by Bridges' battery; the bugle swung idly at the bugler's side, the warbling fife and grumbling drum unheard -there was to be louder talk-six guns at intervals of two seconds was the signal to advance. Strong and steady his voice rang out: "Number one, fire! Number two, fire! Number three, fire!" -it seemed to me the tolling of the clock of destiny-and when at "Number six, fire!" the roar throbbed out with the flash, you should have seen the dead line that had been lying behind the works all day, all night, all day again, come to resurrection in the twinkling of an eye, leap like a blade from its scabbard and sweep with a two-mile stroke toward the Ridge. From divisions to brigades, from brigades to regiments, the order ran. A minute and the skirmishers deploy; a minute, and the first great drops begin to patter along the line; a minute, and the musketry is in full play like the crackling whips of a hemlock fire; men go down here and there, before your eyes; the wind lifts the smoke and drifts it again over the top of the Ridge; everything is too distinct; it is fairly palpable; you can touch it with your hand. The divisions of Wood and Sheridan are wading breast deep in the valley of death.
I never can tell you what it was like. They pushed out leaving
nothing behind them. There was no reservation in that battle.
On moves the line of skirmishers, like a heavy frown, and after
it, at quick time, the splendid columns. At right of us and left
of us and front of us, you can see the bayonets glitter in the
sun. You cannot persuade yourself that Bragg was wrong, a day
or two ago, when seeing Hooker moving in he said, "now we
shall have a Potomac review; that this is not the parade he prophesied;
that it is of a truth the harvest of death to which they go down.
And so through the fringe of woods went the line. Now, out into
the open ground they burst into the double-quick. Shall I call
it a Sabbath day's journey or a long half mile? To me, that watched,
it seemed endless as eternity, and yet they made it in thirty
minutes. The tempest that now broke upon their heads was terrible.
The enemy's fire burst out of the rifle-pits from base to summit
of Mission Ridge; five batteries of Parrots and Napoleons opened
along the crest. Grape and canister and shot and shell sowed
the ground with rugged iron and garnished it with the wounded
and the dead. But steady and strong our columns moved on.
"By heaven! It was a splendid sight to see.
For one who had no friend, no brother there."
But to all loyal hearts, alas, and thank God, those men were friend and brother, both in one. And over their heads, as they went, Forts Wood and Negley struck straight out like mighty pugilists right and left, raining their iron blows upon the Ridge from base to crest; Forts Palmer and King took up the quarrel, and Moccasin Point cracked its fiery whips and lashed the surly left till the wolf cowered in its corner with a growl. Bridges' battery, from Orchard Knob below, thrust its ponderous fists in the face of the enemy, and planted blows at will. Our artillery was doing splendid service. It laid its shot and shell wherever it pleased. Had giants carried them by hand they could hardly have been more accurate. All along the mountain's side, in the enemy's rifle-pits, on the crest, they fairly dotted the Ridge. Granger leaped down, sighted a gun, and in a moment, right in front, a great volume of smoke, like "the cloud by day" lifted off the summit from among the batteries, and hung motionless, kindling in the sun. The shot had struck a caisson and that was its dying breath. In five minutes away floated another. A shell went crashing through a building in the cluster that marked Bragg's headquarters; a second killed the skeleton horses of a battery at his elbow; a third scattered a gray mass as if it had been a wasp's nest.
And all the while our lines were moving on; they had burned through the woods and swept over the rough and rolling ground like a prairie fire. Never halting, never faltering, they charged up to the first rifle-pits with a cheer, forked out the foe with their bayonets, and lay there panting for breath. If the thunder of guns had been terrible, it was growing sublime; it was like the footfall of God on the ledges of cloud. Our forts and batteries still thrust out their mighty arms across the valley; the guns that lined the arc of the crest full in our front opened like the fan of Lucifer and converged their fire. It was rifles and musketry; it was grape and canister; it was shell and shrapnel. Mission Ridge was volcanic; a thousand torrents of red poured over its brink and rushed together to its base. And our men were there, halting for breath! And still the sublime diapason rolled on. Echoes that never waked before, roared out from height to height, and called from the far ranges of Waldron's Ridge to Lookout. As for Mission Ridge, it had jarred to such music before; it was the "sounding board" of Chickamauga; it was behind us then; it frowns and flashes in our faces today. The old Army of the Cumberland was there; it breasted the storm till the storm was spent, and left the ground it held; the old Army of the Cumberland is here! It shall roll up the Ridge like a surge to its summit, and sweep triumphant down the other side. That memory and hope may have made the heart of many a blue-coat beat like a drum. "Beat," did I say? The feverish heart of the battle beats on; fifty-eight guns a minute, by the watch, is the rate of its terrible throbbing. That hill, if you climb it, will appall you. Furrowed like a summer-farrow-bullets as if an oak had shed them; trees clipped and shorn, leaf and limb, as with the knife of some heroic gardener pruning back for richer fruit. How you attain the summit, weary and breathless, I wait to hear; how they went up in the teeth of the storm no man can tell!
And all this while prisoners have been streaming out from the
rear of our lines, like the tails of a cloud of kites. Captured
and disarmed, they needed nobody to set them going. The fire
of their own comrades was like spurs in a horse's flanks, and
amid the tempest of their own brewing they ran for dear life,
until they dropped like quails into the Federal rifle-pits and
were safe. But our gallant legions are out in the storm; they
have carried the works at the base of the Ridge; they have fallen
like leaves in winter weather. Blow, dumb bugles! Sound that
recall! "Take the rifle-pit," was the order, and it
is as empty of enemies as the tombs of the prophets. Shall they
turn their backs to the blast! Shall they sit down under the eaves
that drip iron? Or shall they climb to the cloud of death above
them, and pluck out its lightnings as they would straws from a
sheaf of wheat? And now the arc of fire on the crest grows fiercer
and longer. The reconnaissance of Monday had failed to develop
the heavy metal of the enemy. The dull fringe of the hill kindles
with the flash of great guns. I count the fleeces of white smoke
that dot the Ridge, as battery opens upon our line, until from
the ends of the growing arc they sweep down upon it in mighty
X's of fire. I count till that devil's girdle numbers thirteen
batteries, and my heart cries out: "Great God, when shall
the end be!" There is a poem I learned in childhood, and
so did you; it is Campbell's "Hohenlinden." One line
I never knew the meaning of until I read it written along that
hill! It has lighted up the whole poem for me with the glow of
"And louder than the bolts of heaven,
Far flashed the red artillery!"
At that moment the commanding General's aids are dashing out with an order; they radiate over the field to left, right and front: "Take the Ridge if you can" -and so it went along the line. But the advance had already set forth without it. Stout-hearted Wood, the iron-gray veteran, is rallying on his men; stormy Turchin is delivering brave words in bad English; Sheridan -little "Phil"-you may easily look down upon him without climbing a tree, and see one of the most gallant leaders of the age-is riding to and fro along the first line of rifle-pits, as calmly as a chess-player. An aid rides up with the order. "Avery, that flask," said the General. Quietly filling the pewter cup, Sheridan looks up at the battery that frowns above him by Bragg's headquarters, shakes his cap amid that storm of everything that kills, when you could hardly hold out your hand without catching a bullet in it, and with a "how are you?" tosses off the cup. The blue battle-flag of the enemy fluttered a response to the cool salute, and the next instant the battery let fly its six guns showering Sheridan with earth. Alluding to that compliment with anything but a blank cartridge, the General said in his quiet way, "I thought it d-d ungenerous!" The recording angel will drop a tear upon the word for the part he played that day. Wheeling toward the men, he cheered them to the charge, and made at the hill like a bold-riding hunter; they were out of the rifle-pits and into the tempest and struggling up the steep, before you could get breath to tell it, and so they were throughout the inspired line.
And now you have before you one of the most startling episodes of the war; I cannot render it in words; dictionaries are beggarly things. But I may tell you they did not storm that mountain as you would think. They dash out a little way, and then slacken; they creep up, hand over hand, loading and firing, and wavering and halting, from the first line of works toward the second; they burst into a charge with a cheer and go over it. Sheets of flame baptize them; plunging shot tear away comrades on left and right; it is no longer shoulder to shoulder; it is God for us all! Under tree-trunks, among rocks, stumbling over the dead, struggling with the living; facing the steady fire of eight thousand infantry poured down upon their heads as if it were the old historic curse from heaven, they wrestle with the Ridge. Ten, fifteen, twenty minutes go by like a reluctant century. The batteries roll like a drum, between the second and the last line of works is the torrid zone of the battle; the hill sways up like a wall before them at an angle of forty-five degrees, but our brave mountaineers are clambering steadily on-up-upward still! You may think it strange, but I would not have recalled those men if I could. They would have lifted you, as they lifted me, in full view of the region of heroic grandeur; they seemed to be spurning the dull earth under their feet, and going up to do Homeric battle with the greater gods.
And what do these men follow! If you look you shall see that the thirteen thousand are not a rushing herd of human creatures; that along the Gothic roof of the Ridge a row of inverted V's is slowly moving up almost in line, a mighty lettering on the hill's broad side. At the angles of those V's is something that glitters like a wing. Your heart gives a great bound when you think what it is-the regimental flag-and glancing along the front count fifteen of those colors that were borne at Pea Ridge, waved at Shiloh, glorified at Stone River, riddled at Chickamauga. Nobler than Caesar's rent mantle are they all! And up move the banners, now fluttering like a wounded bird, now faltering, now sinking out of sight. Three times the flag of the Twenty-seventh Illinois goes down. And you know why. Three dead color-sergeants lie just there, but the flag is immortal-thank God! -and up it comes again, and the V's move on. At the left of Wood, three regiments of Baird-Turchin, the Russian thunderbolt, is there-hurl themselves against a bold point strong with rebel works; for a long quarter of an hour three flags are perched and motionless on a plateau under the frown of the hill. Will they linger forever? I give a look at the sun behind me; it is not more than a hand's breadth from the edge of the mountain; its level rays bridge the valley from Chattanooga to the Ridge with beams of gold; it shines in the hostile faces; it brings out the Federal blue; it touches up the flags. Oh for the voice that could bid that sun stand still! I turn to the battle again; those three flags have taken flight. They are upward bound! The men of the Eighty-eighth Illinois were swept by an enfilading fire; Colonel Chandler seized the colors; they steadied into rock and swept the enemy before them with a broom of bayonets; it cost them fifty of the rank and file and two Lieutenants.
The race of the flags is growing every moment more terrible. There are at the right, in Colonel Sherman's brigade, a strange thing catches the eye; one of the inverted V's is turning right side up! The men struggling along the converging lines to overtake the flag have distanced it, and there the colors are sinking down in the center between the rising flanks. The line wavers like a great billow, and up comes the banner again, as if heaved on a surge's shoulder! The iron sledges beat on. Hearts, loyal and brave, are on the anvil all the way from base to summit of Mission Ridge, but those dreadful hammers never intermit. Swarms of bullets sweep the hill; you can count twenty-eight balls in one little tree. Things are growing desperate up aloft; the enemy tumble rocks upon the rising line; they light fuses and roll shells down the steep; they load the guns with handfuls of cartridges in their haste; and as if there were powder in the word, they shout "Chickamauga!" down upon the mountaineers. But it would not all do, and just as the sun, weary of the scene, was sinking out of sight, with magnificent bursts all along the line, exactly as you have seen the crested seas leap up at the breakwater, the advance surged over the crest, and in a minute those flags fluttered along the fringe where fifty guns were kenneled. God bless the flag! What colors were first upon the mountain battlement I dare not try to say; bright Honor"s self may be proud to bear-bear?-nay, proud to follow the hindmost. Foot by foot they have fought up the steep slippery with much blood; let them go to glory together. But this I can declare: the Seventy-ninth Indiana, of Wood's division, fairly ran over the rifle-pits, and left its whole line in the rear, and its breathless color-bearer led the way. But a few steps between him and the summit, he grasped a little tree that bravely clung there and away he went, hand over hand, like a sailor up the shrouds, and shook his exultant flag above the crest. This I can declare: John Cheevers, of the Eighty-eighth Illinois, planted his flag by Bragg's headquarters, and it kindled there in the setting sun, at the very heels of the enemy. A minute, and they were all there, fluttering along the Ridge from left to right. The routed hordes rolled off to the north, rolled off to the east, like the clouds of a worn-out storm. Bragg, ten minutes before, was putting men back into the riffle-pits. His gallant gray was straining a nerve for him now, and the man rode on horseback into "Dixie's" bosom, who, arrayed in some prophet's discarded mantle foretold, on the preceding Monday, that the Yankees would leave Chattanooga in five days. They left it in three, and by the way of Mission Ridge, straight over the mountains as their forefathers went! As Sheridan rode up to the guns, the heels of Breckinridge's horse glittered in the last rays of sunshine. That crest was hardly "well off with the old love before it was on with the new."
But the scene on that narrow plateau can never be painted. As the blue-coats surged over its edge, cheer on cheer rang like bells through the valley of the Chickamauga. Men flung themselves exhausted upon the ground. They laughed and wept, shook hands, embraced; turned round and did all four over again. It was as wild as a carnival. The General was received with a shout. "Soldiers," he said, "you ought to be court-martialed, every man of you. I ordered you to take the rifle-pits and you scaled the mountain!: but it was not Mars' horrid front exactly with which he said it, for his cheeks were wet with tears as honest as the blood that reddened all the route. Wood uttered words that rang like "Napoleons," and Sheridan, the rowels at his horse's flanks, was ready for a dash down the Ridge with a "view halloo" for a fox hunt. But you must not think this was all there was of the scene on the crest, for fight and frolic were strangely mingled. Not a gray-coat had dreamed a man of us all would live to reach the summit, and when a little wave of the Federal cheer rolled up and broke over the crest, they defiantly cried: "Hurrah and be d-d;" the next minute the Sixty-fifth Ohio followed the voice, the enemy delivered their fire, and tumbled down in the rifle-pits. No sooner had the soldiers scrambled to the Ridge and straightened themselves than up muskets and away they blazed. One of them, fairly beside himself between laughing and crying, seemed puzzled at which end of his piece he should load, and so abandoning the gun and the problem together, he made a catapult of himself and fell to hurling stones after the enemy. And he said as he threw -well, "our army,," you know, "swore terribly in Flanders." Bayonets glinted and muskets rattled. Sheridan's horse was killed under him; "Richard" was not in his role, and so he leaped upon a rebel gun for want of another. The artillerists are driven from their batteries at the edge of the sword and the point of the bayonet; two guns are swung around upon their old masters. But there is nobody to load them. Light and heavy artillery do not belong to the winged kingdom. Two infantry men claiming to be old artillerists, volunteer. Granger turns captain of the guns, and -right about wheel!-in a moment they are growling after the flying enemy. I say flying, but that is figurative. The many run like Spanish merinoes, but the few fight like lions at bay; they load and fire as they retreat; they are fairly scorched out of position. It was so when Turchin struck them, and so where Wood and Sheridan gave them the iron glove. Colonel Harker is slashing away with his saber in a ring of foes. Down goes his horse under him, they have him on the hip; one of them is taking deliberate aim, when up rushes Lieutenant Johnson, of the Forty-second Illinois, claps a pistol to one ear and roars in at the other, "Who the h-l are you shooting at?" The fellow drops his piece, gasps out, "I surrender," and the next instant the gallant Lieutenant falls sharply wounded. He is a "roll of honor" officer straight up from the ranks. A little German in Wood's division is pierced like the lid of a pepper-box, but is neither dead nor wounded. "See here," he says, rushing up to a comrade, "a pullet hit te preech of mine gun-a pullet in mine goat-tail-dey shoots me three, five dime, and by tam I give dem h-l yet!"
But I can render you no idea of the battle cauldron that boiled on the plateau. An incident, here and there, I have given you and you must fill out the picture for yourself. Dead soldiers lay thick around Bragg's headquarters and along the ridge. Scabbards, broken arms, artillery horses, wrecks of gun carriages, bloody garments, strewed the scene; and tread lightly, oh, true-hearted, the boys in blue are lying there; no more the sounding charge; no more the brave wild cheer; and never for them, sweet as the breath of new-mown hay in the home fields, "the Soldier's Return from the War." A little waif of a drummer-boy, somehow drifted up the mountain in the surge, lies there, his pale face upward, a blue spot on his breast. Muffle the drum for the poor child and his mother. Our troops met one cordial welcome on the height. How the old Tennessean that gave it managed to get there nobody knows, but there he was grasping Colonel Harker's hand and saying, while the tears ran down his face, "God be thanked! I knew the Yankees would fight!: With the receding flight and swift pursuit the battle died away in murmurs, far down the valley of the Chickamauga; Sheridan was again in the saddle and with his command spurring on after the enemy. Tall columns of smoke were rising at the left. The enemy were burning a train of stores a mile long. In the exploding caissons we had "the cloud by day," and now we were having "the pillar of fire by night." The sun, the golden disk of the scales that balance day and night, had hardly gone down when up, beyond Mission Ridge, rose the silver side, for that night it was full moon. The troubled day was done.!
Warsaw Daily Times August 1, 1903
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