Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reminiscences of a Soldier of the Orphan Brigade By LIEUT. L. D. YOUNG, Paris, Kentucky

It is to the great and interesting battle of Murfreesboro and some of the incidents and circumstances preceding it, that I shall devote this article. History will some day accord it but one name, whereas it now has two - Murfreesboro and Stone River - but I shall use the former.
Here a mile or so Southeast of the city, on a beautiful little plain or suburban scope of country, was encamped for a period of three months, the Orphan Brigade. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed both it and the many good things we had to eat and the hospitable greetings of the good people of the town and surrounding country. But while we were enjoying these good things, we were undergoing a strict military training, being drilled in the school of the company, battalion and the more comprehensive and enlarged movements of the brigade and division maneuvers, some of which we had seen employed at Shiloh and elsewhere by exigencies in actual battle. It was a matter of general pride in which as a member, I still glory that the Orphan Brigade was the most thoroughly drilled and best disciplined body of men in the Confederate army. In substantiation of this claim, I refer to the compliment paid us a little later on by General Hardee, in a trial drill with the First Louisiana Brigade, held at Beech Grove in the Spring following, and at which trial drill General Hardee was one of the judges, and was heard to say that to excel our drilling would require the construction of a different and better code than was laid down in the system of tactics bearing his name. The truth was we were determined to allow no body of troops to excel us in anything pertaining to these accomplishments or history of the soldier. This was accomplished in a great measure by the
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requirements and training of that military martinet, "Old" Roger Hanson. I use the appellation with the most profound respect. The facts as to these accomplishments can be attested by numbers of men still living and who often refer to General Hanson's rigid discipline and requirements with feelings of respect and pride. I must instance one circumstance, in support of this assertion.
Some time after he took command he issued an order that all officers and privates alike should be in full dress and in proper places at roll call in the morning after the sounding of the reveille. This did not suit many of the officers who wanted to take a morning snooze, but "Roger's" orders were inexorable to officers and soldiers alike and it was for a few mornings laughable to see these officers hustling on their clothes and into line. There was nothing that pertained to discipline and order that escaped his notice. It was sometimes amusing to hear some fellow relate his experience in attempting to outwit and fool him, and the fellow that attempted it was always caught. It just could not be done.
But the whirligig of time was rapidly turning and bringing with it lively and exciting times; big with importance to the country and the Confederate cause and especially and particularly to these dear Orphans of mine.
While in Mississippi and preceding his disastrous Kentucky campaign and in which his malevolent nature was displayed, Bragg refused us the great joy we so earnestly and hopefully prayed for viz, the return to Kentucky with his army, where we might see the dear ones at home, and incidentally aid the cause by inducing enlistments.
But the fact that quite a number of our fellow Kentuckians were coming out with the newly enlisted cavalry commands and bringing with them the news from home and friends - the first of consequence for a year or more - gave us some comfort and consolation. In the meantime some interesting matters of thrilling moment were transpiring
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down here, "Where the oak, the ash and red elm tree, all grow green in old Tennessee."
Rosecrans, not satisfied with results at Perryville, was cutting across the country for another opportunity to test his military skill and prowess, and to punish these unrepentant rebels for daring to offer resistance to the "old flag" and trying to "break up the best Government the world ever saw," and over which Government some of these same people are now fussing among themselves.
Excuse me, please. I see I am again off my base. Back to my beloved Orphans I must go. Oh, how I do love them!
The change from the ordinary routine of drill maneuver and review was brought about by the plan of General Morgan to attack the enemy's advance post at Hartsville, North of the Cumberland and about thirty miles or more from Murfreesboro. This movement included in its plan the co-operation of the Orphan Brigade and making it a distinctly Kentucky command, planned, led and fought by Kentuckians, and which was one of the most complete and brilliant affairs of the war. Some of us to this day feel the sting of disappointment of not being privileged to share in this "coupe de grace," as the Fourth and Sixth Regiments were left at Baird's mill to guard against the possibility of an intercepting column from Nashville. My heart went out in sympathy (practically) to these boys on their return to our encampment, worn out with fatigue, exhausted and hungry and almost frozen, the weather being bitter cold and the ground covered with snow to a depth of several inches. I confess also to a feeling of sorrow for the poor blanketless prisoners who passed a night of suffering, though we did the best we could for them by furnishing them with fires.
But here again the Orphans engaged in this fight paid dearly for their honors, especially the Second Regiment, which lost heavily in both officers and men, the Ninth Regiment also losing considerable. But this seemed but the
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prelude to the grand Christmas entertainment staged to come off later and when Breckinridge's Kentuckians received the soubriquet Orphan Brigade by which they have ever since been known and which will pass into the annals of history, alongside that of the "Tenth Legion," the "Old Guard" and "Light Brigade."
With a sense of feeling that impresses me with my utter inability to at all do justice to the subject of Murfreesboro (or Stone River), I fear to undertake the task.
To the writer this was in some respects one of the most interesting, exciting and captivating battles of the war in which he took part. Captivating, because the great battle of the 31st was witnessed from my vantage point of view - the left of our entrenchments on Swain's hill - overlooking the stretch of country on which the battle was fought, extending as it, did from the Nashville turnpike and railroad, which at this point are parallel, and at which point also stood the famous "Cowans' burnt house," referred to by historians and which I saw burn, the afternoon before. From this knoll I could see the principal part of the field.
Before attempting to describe the battle on this part of the field, I must look up my Orphans and see what they are now, and have been doing these last few hours. On the afternoon of Monday, the 29th they took possession of this hill, which was the acknowledged key to Bragg's position of defense. And herein lies a kind of mystery, why he would trust to these men, in the judgment of whose officers he showed later on he had so little confidence, this the most important point in his whole line, and why should it be entrusted to them - the Kentucky Brigade. Some were wicked enough to say, and his course toward us later, as that of Friday, strengthens this belief that he wanted us all killed, hence placing us in the most perilous position. Now mind you, gentle reader, I am not giving this as my opinion, but others have given it as theirs. While "bivouacking" a little behind this hill the enemy's skirmishers a little after dark made quite a determined onset on our
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skirmishers in front of the hill, but were driven back finally with considerable loss to both parties. It was a daring and courageous move and created no little excitement and concern and looked for a time like a night attack was pending. The 30th was spent in getting ready by both parties to the battle.
And early on the morrow we took our position on Swain's hill in support of Cobb's and the Washington artillery. From my vantage position I could see more plainly the Confederate lines than the Federal, because the Confederates were on a direct line extending Southward, while the Federals were obliquely to the front and partially obscured by an intervening cedar glade and in the afternoon the Confederates swung like a great gate on their pivotal position, while just behind and to the left of this was the enemy's strong point of resistance, to which he had finally been driven. The smoke from the guns of the long lines of infantry, as they moved forward to the attack and the counter stroke from the enemy's resisting columns, the dashing to and fro, up and down the lines and over the field by officers, orderlies, aides and couriers, carrying orders and dispatches, with here and there a battery belching forth shot and shell was a sight wonderful to behold and never to be forgotten. The most thrilling incident to that view was early in the day when a body of cavalry, supposed to be "Dragoons," swung into line from behind the cedar glade with drawn sabers, gleaming and waving in the crisp chill sunlit air, dashed down over the open fields in a grand charge upon the Confederate infantry, whose movements a few moments before convinced me of this approaching cavalry charge.
We had been instructed by Buckner, Monroe and others on the drill field in the formation of the "hollow square" to resist the charge of cavalry and when I saw these regiments doubling column at half distance I knew what was coming. To see the field officers on horseback rushing within the squares as they closed and the front rank kneeling,
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all with fixed bayonets glittering in the frosty sunlight, and these oncoming charges with waving sabers and glittering helmets was a sight unsurpassed by anything I witnessed during the war. The nearest approaching it was by Sherman's charge at Resaca. As soon as the squares were formed the artillery in the rear opened fire through these intervening spaces made by the formation of the square, whereupon artillery and infantry combined swept the field and the charging column turned in confusion and route, skurrying helter skelter back over the field, leaving numbers of men horseless.
Soon the "Rebel yell" down the line told us that things were going our way and looking we could see our friends moving forward like a mighty serpent drawing his coils.
While this was transpiring on the left a battery in our front on the opposite side of the river was industriously employed in shelling Cobb's and Slocum's batteries stationed on Swain's hill, and whose business for the time it was the Orphans to support. When I saw this cavalry charge, to which I have referred, the thought instantly and involuntarily came to my mind of the repeated attacks of Napoleon's cavalry on the squares of Wellington's infantry at Waterloo. The sight was so thrilling that I hoped they would repeat it. But how foolish, I thought this was, in this body of cavalry attempting to ride down regiments of veteran infantry. Their officers must surely have thought that they could reach the Confederate line before they could complete this formation. If so, they paid dearly for their mistake.
The battle progressed steadily and satisfactorily to the Confederates until about four o'clock, when they, in the language of the "bum," "run against a snag." Woods' and Sheridan's divisions, with other of Rosecrans' forces had concentrated upon his extreme left, which was his strongest position for a final and last stand. The conflict here
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was desperate and bloody, neither party seeming to have much the advantage.
The National cemetery now occupies this identical ground and in which there are more than 6,000 Federal soldiers buried. A beautiful and fit place for the remains of these brave Western soldiers to rest, for here upon this field was displayed a courage that all men must admire.
Both armies slept that night upon the field with the greater part of the field in possession of the Confederates and the advantages and results of the day almost wholly in their favor.
The Orphans spent the night in the rear of and among the artillery they had been supporting. When morning came we found that the enemy was still in our front instead of on the road to Nashville as Bragg believed. Both parties seemed willing that a truce should prevail for the day and scarcely a shot was heard. Bragg believed that Rosecrans' army was "demolished" and would surely retreat to his base (Nashville), and so informed President Davis.
But old "Rosy" had something else in his mind. He was planning and scheming and matured a plan for a trap and Bragg walked right into it with the innocence of a lamb and the ignorance of a man that had never known anything of the art of war, and the butchery of the next day followed as a result of his obstinacy and the lack of military skill. Had he listened to the protestations of General Breckinridge and his officers he might have saved for the time being his military reputation and the lives of several hundred brave and noble men.
The recounting of the steps that led up to this ill-conceived and fatal denouement and the efforts by General Breckinridge to prevent its consummation, by one while not high in rank, but who claims to know something of the facts in the case, may not go amiss even at this late day.
Early on the morning of January 2, Captain Bramblett, commanding Company H, Fourth Kentucky, and who had served with General Breckinridge in Mexico, received orders
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from him (Breckinridge), to make a thorough reconnaissance of the enemy's position, Company H being at that time on the skirmish line. Captain Bramblett with two of his lieutenants, myself one of them, crawled through the weeds a distance of several hundred yards to a prominent point of observation from which through his field glass and even the naked eye we could see the enemy's concentrated forces near and above the lower ford on the opposite side of the river, his artillery being thrown forward and nearest to the river. His artillery appeared to be close together and covering quite a space of ground; we could not tell how many guns, but there was quite a number. The infantry was seemingly in large force and extended farther down toward the ford. Captain Bramblett was a man of no mean order of military genius and information, and after looking at, and studying the situation in silence for some minutes, he said to us boys, "that he believed Rosecrans was setting a trap for Bragg." Continuing, he said, "If he means to attack us on this side, why does he not reinforce on this side? Why concentrate so much artillery on the bluff yonder? He must be expecting us to attack that force yonder, pointing to Beatty's position on the hill North of us, and if we do, he will use that artillery on us as we move to the attack." At another time during the afternoon I heard him while discussing the situation with other officers of the regiment use substantially the same argument. I accompanied Captain Bramblett to General Breckinridge's headquarters and heard him make substantially in detail a report containing the facts above recited. Captain Tom Steele was ordered (his company having relieved ours) on the skirmish line to make a reconnaissance also, and made a similar report, and lastly General Breckinridge, to thoroughly and unmistakably understand the situation and satisfy himself, in company with one or two of his staff examined the situation as best he could and I presume reached the same conclusion, and when he (Breckinridge) repaired to Bragg's
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headquarters and vouchsafed this information and suggested the presumptive plan of the enemy, Bragg said: "Sir, my information is different. I have given the order to attack the enemy in your front and expect it to be obeyed."
What was General Breckinridge to do but attempt to carry out his orders, though in carrying out this unwise and ill-conceived order it should cost in one hour and ten minutes 1,700 of as brave and chivalrous soldiers as the world ever saw. What a terrible blunder, what a bloody and useless sacrifice! And all because General Breckinridge had resented the imputation that the cause of the failure of Bragg's Kentucky campaign was the "disloyalty of her people to the Confederate cause." Could anyone of the thousands of Kentuckians that espoused the cause of the South, complacently acquiesce in this erroneous charge and endorse the spirit that prompted this order and led to the slaughter of so many of her noble boys? This was the view that many of us took of Bragg's course.
How was this wicked and useless sacrifice brought about? "That subordinate must always obey his superior" - is the military law. In furtherance of Bragg's order we were assembled about three o'clock on the afternoon of January 2, 1863 (Friday, a day of ill luck) in a line North of and to the right of Swain's hill, confronting Beatty's and Growes' brigades, with a battery or two of artillery as support. They being intended for the bait that had been thrown across the river at the lower ford, and now occupied an eminence some three-quarters of a mile to the right-front of the Orphan's position on Swain's hill.
This was the force, small as it was that Bragg was so anxious to dislodge. Between the attacking line and federal position was a considerable scope of open ground, fields and pastures, with here and there a clump of bushes or briars, but the entire space was in full view of and covered by the enemy's batteries to the left of the line on the opposite side of the river previously referred to. If
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the reader will only carry these positions in his eye, he can readily discover the jaws of the trap in this murderous scheme.
A more imposing and thoroughly disciplined line of soldiers never moved to the attack of an enemy than responded to the signal gun stationed immediately in our rear, which was fired exactly at four o'clock. Every man vieing with his fellowman, in steadiness of step and correct alignment, with the officers giving low and cautionary commands, many knowing that it was their last hour on earth, but without hesitating moved forward to their inevitable doom and defeat. We had gotten only fairly started, when the great jaws of the trap on the bluff from the opposite side of the river were sprung, and bursting shells that completely drowned the voice of man were plunging and tearing through our columns, ploughing up the earth at our feet in front and behind, everywhere. But with steadiness of step we moved on. Two companies of the Fourth regiment, my own and adjoining company, encountered a pond, and with a dexterous movement known to the skilled officer and soldier was cleared in a manner that was perfectly charming, obliquing to the right and left into line as soon as passed.
By reason of the shorter line held by the enemy, our line, which was much longer and the colors of each of our battalions being directed against this shorter line, caused our lines to interlap, making it necessary, in order to prevent confusion and crowding, that some of the regiments halt, until the others had passed forward out of the way. When thus halted they would lie down in order to shield themselves from the enemy infantry fire in front, who had by this time opened a lively fusillade from behind their temporary works.
While lying on the ground momentarily a very shocking and disastrous occurrence took place in Company E, immediately on my left and within a few feet of where I lay, A shell exploded right in the middle of the company,
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almost literally tearing it to pieces. When I recovered from the shock the sight I witnessed was appalling. Some eighteen or twenty men hurled in every direction, including my dear friend, Lieut. George Burnley of Frankfort. But these circumstances were occurring every minute now while the battle was raging all around and about us. Men moved intuitively - the voice being silenced by the whizzing and bursting shells. On we moved, Beatty's and Growes' lines giving way seemingly to allow the jaws of the trap to press with more and ever increasing vigor upon its unfortunate and discomfited victims. But, on we moved, until the survivors of the decoy had passed the river and over the lines stationed on the other side of the river, when their new line of infantry opened on our confused and disordered columns another destructive and ruinous fire.
Coupled with this condition and correlative to it, a battery of Growes and a part of their infantry had been cut off from the ford and seeing our confused condition, rallied, reformed and opened fire on our advanced right now along the river bank. Confronted in front by their infantry, with the river intervening; swept by their artillery from the left and now attacked by both infantry and artillery by an oblique fire from the right, we found ourselves in a helpless condition, from which it looked like an impossibility to escape; and but for the fact that two or three batteries had been ordered into position to check the threatened advance of the enemy and thereby distract their attention, we doubtless would have fared still worse.
We rallied some distance to the right of where we started and found that many, very many, of our noblest, truest and best had fallen. Some of them were left on the field, among whom was my military preceptor, advisor and dear friend, Captain Bramblett, who fell into the hands of the enemy and who died a few days after in Nashville. I shall never forget our parting, a moment or two before, he received his wound - never forget the last quick glance
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and the circumstances that called it forth. He was a splendid soldier and his loss grieved me very much. Many another gallant Kentuckian, some of our finest line and field officers, were left on the field, a sacrifice to stupidity and revenge. Thirty-seven per cent in one hour and ten minutes - some say one hour - was the frightful summary. Among the first of these was the gallant and illustrious Hanson, whose coolness and bearing was unsurpassed and whose loss was irreparable. He with Breckinridge, understood and was fully sensible of - as indicated by the very seriousness of his countenance - the unwisdom of this move and as shown in their protest to Bragg. What a pity that a strict observance of military rule compelled it to be obeyed against his mature military mind and judgment, causing the loss of such a magnificent soldier and gentleman - uselessly and foolishly.
Comtemplating this awful sacrifice, as he rode by the dead and dying in the rear of our lines, General Breckinridge, with tears falling from his eyes, was heard to say in tones of anguish, "My poor Orphans! My poor Orphans!" little thinking that he was dedicating to them a name that will live throughout the annals of time and crown the history of that dear little band with everlasting immortality.
I have tried to give you above a description from memory's tablet - of the battle of Murfreesboro, and I shall now relate some of my observations made on my recent visit together with further references, to the events that transpired on that eventful field - the study of which is of almost overwhelming interest.
Here, as elsewhere and on other fields, the view is especially and particularly interesting, because of the country being more level and more open with the view much less obstructed. It was worth a half dozen years to live over,
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in reminiscence, this week of intense excitement, interest and danger. And here too, as at Chickamauga, memory refused to be satisfied, and I find myself wishing I could see it again. I feel that I could never tire looking at the different aspects of the view and studying the tragic scenes as they transpired on this eventful closing of this eventful year of 1862, and the no less eventful opening of the year 1863. To those who lived in this historic decade and participated in these events of bygone years are of intense and ever thrilling interest, but few realize that these things happened a half century ago.
Here as elsewhere events came back to me and I had but little or no difficulty in locating the leading and many of the minor places of interest.
The immediate vicinity of our long encampment is changed considerably by houses being erected nearby and on the ground where our camps stood, but the big spring house, however, still does duty as of yore. The place on the Shelbyville turnpike where we held guard mount and review is much changed. So also are the grounds on the East side of the city where we held brigade and division drill, it now being "built up." But one of the leading landmarks of the town and of special interest to the Orphans and other Kentuckians is still intact and but little changed in appearance but now used for a different purpose. I refer to the Judge Ready residence where General Morgan captured his grand prize. There is not an old Orphan now living, that does not remember how he used to primp for the march by this house, and how proudly he stepped and with what perfect mien he marched to Billy McQuown's best pieces, all to, have the privilege of "showing off," and having the opportunity for a sly glance at the beautiful Queen sisters standing on the upper veranda. You know, old boys, just how this was, don't you?
But my mind is taking me back to the battlefield where the things of real excitement were transpiring, where "the
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pride, pomp and circumstances of glorious war are to be found."
Starting out in company with Rev. Everett Smith, we took the Nashville pike crossing the river at the same place we crossed when on the retreat from Bowling Green to Shiloh in February, 1862, and where I had crossed several times while encamped later, near the town and over and beyond which I saw the celebrated cavalry charge and the victorious columns of the Confederates move on December 31. My mind was so completely occupied and crowded that I scarcely knew what to do or say. I know I must have been a study, to my young friend for a time at least.
I could see again in imagination the smoke and red fire and could hear the crackling flames as they leaped high in air of the famous "Cowan" house as we rode by. I imagined as we rode on that I could hear the yells and shouts of the contending lines as they surged forward and across the turnpike to the famous cut in the railroad, where Wood and Sheridan saved the day to the Federals against the last grand charge of Cleburne, Preston and Pillow of the Confederates.
As before stated here is a fitting place for the six thousand Federals who rest here. Here at the cemetery, I was introduced to Captain Thomas, the officer in charge, who was exceedingly polite and courteous and whom I found by conversing with, that I had faced at Shiloh and who had the most perfect recollection of many of the chief points and incidents of that battle. I regretted very much that I could not spend more time with him, as he impressed me as being a man after my own heart. But my young friend and myself had promised to be back at the dinner hour and I was therefore, compelled to close my interview.
I spent the afternoon in glancing over town and meeting and conversing with old soldiers and others whom I found interested in my mission, and willing and anxious to give me any information I desired.
I met and arranged with Captain Mitchell, who now owns a part of the field over which the celebrated charge
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of Breckinridge was made, to go out with me next morning and in company with him and a young friend, W. H. Hohgatt, of Pittsburgh, Pa. We started early, going over the same road, crossing the same bridge, as the day before to a point near the cemetery where the road to McFadden's ford leaves the turnpike and runs North by the bluff, the famous bluff where Rosecrans' fifty-eight pieces of artillery were stationed that wrought such dreadful havoc upon Breckinridge's men as they moved across the fields to attack Beatty and Growes (the decoy) on the other side of the river, here we crossed the river at the lower ford, so famous in history but which is properly known as McFadden's. Here we "tied up" and in company with my companions we took to the fields and woods, which latter exist now in fancy only. Up the gradual slope we go to the crest of the ridge (now a cotton patch) to where Beatty and Growe were stationed, swinging around as we go to the point overlooking the river on which stood the massive oaks where the Sixth Kentucky, led by that incarnate demon of war, "Old Joe" Lewis, with flashing sword and blazing eyes, more terrible than the eyes of a raging lion and who impressed me as I was never impressed before or since, with the devil in human form. He presented a picture at that time I shall never forget. It is. as grimly and immovably fixed in my mind as the sun and the stars and I become enthusiastic whenever I think of him and the incident. Now we move along the crest Northward to the point where the Fourth Kentucky struck Beatty's line. Looking East and South towards the Lebanon pike, we can see the vicinity where we started in the charge about midway between the crest and the pike. Turning around we can look down the North slope of the ridge and over which we pressed Beatty and the right of Growes' brigade to McFadden's ford, dropping into, as we move down the narrow sag or depression that leads from the top of the hill straight to the ford and which furnished the only protection from the murderous fire of the fifty-eight guns
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massed on the bluff. Out of this depression, going or coming, we were exposed to this dreadful and incessant fire. Opposite to and some forty yards from this ford is the picket fence where we were compelled to halt and which is so well remembered by many of the Orphans.
The Federals passed around the end of this fence, they being acquainted with the situation, but we struck it square and were compelled to halt. Just outside and along this picketing were piled the enemy's drums and upon which the minnie balls from their new and supporting line on the opposite side of the river were beating a funeral dirge for many of our dear boys who were here compelled to halt and die to no purpose whatever. I walked along this picket fence, which looks just as it did then, but of course has been rebuilt, and over the very ground on which my dear Captain Bramblett fell and with whom I exchanged glances a moment before. To give expression to my feelings as I contemplated this last glance, this look in life at my dear friend and leader is impossible and I turn away with sickened heart from the fatal spot and retrace my steps over the field to the rallying point, every step of the way marked by exploding shells and flying shot from the enemy's battery of fifty-eight guns which seemed determined to show no mercy at all.
Lest some one may say I am magnifying this story of the "battery on the bluff" I will quote here verbatim from the tablet on the twenty-foot granite monument which marks the place occupied by these guns to mark the place from which the death-dealing shot and shell were hurled that resulted in the death of so many of Kentucky's noble and brave boys.
I understand this monument was erected by the president of one of the great railway systems, the N. C.& St. L., who had participated in the famous charge. It is the most interesting and historic point of all the very interesting points of this eventful field. It was with awe and overpowering wonder and feeling that I indulged the scenes
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of fifty years ago, enacted on this spot. Here the very earth trembled beneath the thunderings of these fifty-eight cannon, sending death and destruction into the ranks of us poor unfortunate Confederates.
The tablet upon this monument reads as follows:
"On January 2, 1863, at three p. m., there were stationed on this hill, fifty-eight cannon commanding the field across the river and as the Confederates advanced over this field the shot and shell from these guns resulted in a loss of 1,800 killed and wounded in less than one hour."
What a harvest of death in so short a time was wrought by shot and shell! The most of whose victims were mutilated and lacerated beyond recognition or description. Had the earth been torn by an earthquake the scene would not have been more terrible and hideously appalling.
On a board marker, near by, in faded letters is this indefinite inscription:
"Col. S. Mat-, Third Division 14th A. C. Fed-, Col. S. W. Price commanding. Holding Lower Ford, Dec. 31, 1862."
This evidently refers to the battery that played upon Cobb and Slocum on Swain's Hill.
It would seem from these last words of this poster that the Federals were afraid on the first day's fight that the Confederates would attempt to turn their left by crossing at this ford, hence the placing of this battery here. Bragg, it seems, had no such thought, and, however, it was stationed in our immediate front, West from Swain's Hill and as the battle progressed on the plain South of the railroad and turnpike it played upon Cobb and Slocum with increasing vigor and spirit. As before stated, the Orphans were stationed at this time in support to these batteries, and it was from this point that I witnessed the thrilling sights on the West side of the river.
In company with my new-made genial and accommodating friend, W. G. Beatty, whose father owned the land on which the battle of the 2nd was fought, I visited
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Swain's Hill, which is evidently a mistaken name for the place, no one with whom I conversed, old or young, knew it by that name. I found on the hill, which I very readily recognized from the distance, the old entrenchments intact, save from the leveling effects of time, and on which an occasional locust sapling is growing with quite a thicket of the same in the immediate front. But from the left of this line of works and where I was stationed on the 31st the view overlooking the railroad, turnpike and plain is perfectly clear. From here I looked, studied and wondered. Why should I not linger and contemplate? Never until the great day of judgment do I ever expect to witness such a thrilling and awe-inspiring scene as I here witnessed on that eventful day of December 31, 1862.
Beatty contemplated me with interest, if not astonishment. So intensely interesting were these scenes and recollections I was almost tempted to spend another day contemplating and reviewing them. But we returned to the city at night to attend a church affair at the instance and invitation of my young friend from Bourbon, Rev. Everett Smith, whose guest I had been while here.
I tried hard to forget and partially succeeded in forgetting the thoughts and reminiscences the day had suggested - in the presence of so many charming ladies and gallant gentlemen of Brother Smith's congregation and the additional enjoyment of the ice cream, cakes and strawberries, my appetite of fifty years ago suddenly returning to remind me of the difference twixt now and then.
Next morning my friend Beatty was on hand early with his automobile and speeded me over the city which I am frank to say is one of the most beautiful little cities I ever saw. I was charmed by the old time warmth and hospitality of its people and the greeting given me and I shall remember them as among the happiest of my life. And if I were young once more, I would be almost tempted to cast
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my lot with these good people in this good country, both of which are the next best to Kentucky.
I must not forget to remind the old Orphans and others who may read this paper that after considerable inquiry I was able to find the old Haynes home, in which General Hanson died, and which is now occupied by Hon. Jesse C. Beasley, the present Democratic nominee for Congress in this district. I was shown through the house by his good little wife who although taken somewhat by surprise at my sudden and unexpected visit, but who courteously invited me to examine and inspect until fully satisfied. I stood in the room in which he died almost dumfounded with emotion. Here, in the presence of his heart-broken wife, and sorrowing friends his life gradually ebbed away and took its flight to the realms above.
I was reminded to tread lightly and speak softly on this solemn occasion, for here, passed away into the Great Beyond one of Kentucky's grandest and greatest noblemen.
I attended that afternoon, in company with Captain Baird, Beatty and others, the anniversary decoration of the Confederate graves and listened to a fine oration and the delightful rendering of several appropriate songs by the Murfreesboro quartette. When they sang "My Old Kentucky Home," I hugged tightly, the tree against which I leaned and fear I betrayed a weakness for which I am not altogether ashamed, for what Kentuckian that lives, especially when away from home, whose soul is not moved, when he hears the sweet strains of this touching and soul inspiring song. How can he, when thus reminded of his old Kentucky home, keep from exclaiming (in mind at least) in the language of the poet:
"Lives there a man (Kentuckian) with soul so dead, Who to himself hath not said, this is my own, my native land."
Before closing this chapter I must not fail to say that I found on this trip a manifestation of the same liberal
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hospitable and magnanimous spirit, that has ever characterized this noble and self-sacrificing people. To the good women of the South I owe my life; to them I bow and acknowledge obeisance as the truest, purest, sweetest and best of all God's creatures.
No sacrifice, that mortal man could make is, too great a recompense for the love and devotion of these dear women who sacrificed, wept and suffered during the four long years of midnight darkness. They are the angels of the earth today; to them, as such I uncover my head and I hail them.
Finally I wish to acknowledge my thanks to Mr. and Mrs. C. D. Ivie, at whose home I was the guest of my friend, Rev. Smith and his charming little wife. To Editor Williams, W. G. Beatty, Captains Baird and Mitchell, Dr. Campbell and others, I am indebted for many courtesies and favors.
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