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[From the Times-Democrat, September 8, 1895.]
THE LAST BATTLE OF THE LATE WAR.
I was ordered to report to Brigadier-General Henry W. Allen, of Louisiana, at his special request; being unable to do so, the order was rescinded. Par. IV, S. P., No. 275. January 5, 1864, I was ordered to relieve Major E. W. Baylor, post-quartermaster West Point, Georgia, where I remained until the fall of that plucky little city, which event took place a week after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.
West Point, Georgia, a town of some importance to our armies, on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, being the key to the sitution at this juncture, was splendidly fortified against attacks by stockades, redoubts and long-range rifle pits, and by the erection of a large fort on the west side of the river. The fort commanded a great portion of the place, and under more favorable conditions would have proved a veritable Gibraltar. This fort was manned by a portion of Wailes' Battery, from Columbia, S. C. The post was under command of the intrepid General R. C. Tyler, of Tennessee. mors came of the advance of the Federals from the direction of Montgomery, Alabama. Saturday afternoon, April 15th, 1865, everything was set quickly in motion for the defense of the place. Sunday morning the pickets were posted along the roads leading into town, and in the rifle pits and in the redoubts. The military contingent from the hospitals and militia were soon ordered into the fort. School boys responded to the call, and there were in all 121 effective men to cope with the 3,000 Federals under Colonel La Grange. The women and children were ordered to places of security early in the day. The fort contained one gun, denominated a siege gun, 32-pounder, and two 12-pounders. The large gun occupied the eastern corner of the fort, while the two smaller ones commanded the southern and western approaches. The small arms consisted of 113 smooth-bore muskets.
At 10 o'clock the enemy came in sight, and Trapanier, a young South Carolinian, aimed the siege guns on their columns, and
brought down Colonel La Grange's horse and two pack-horses. The Federals planted their brass cannon on Ward's Hill, just a half mile from the fort, a most commanding position, and began a rapid and effective cannonade on the fort. They soon drove in the outposts, and began to sound the bugle for charges on the coveted trophy. The valiant soldiery in the fort, though but a handful, were equal to the occasion, and repulsed attack after attack. The cannon in the fort was silenced about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, every gunner having been either killed or wounded. General Tyler, while recklessly exposing himself at the portcullis, viewing the enemy through his field glasses, was shot by a sharpshooter from a flower or kitchen garden below. The first shot, though fatal, was followed by a second, which cut his crutch in two and precipitated him to the ground. He was tenderly borne to the foot of the flagstaff, where he died an hour later, beneath the flag he had sworn to protect with his life, which had been presented by the noble ladies of West Point and vicinity. The command of the fort then devolved upon Captain Gonzales, of Florida. He, too, soon received a death wound, but survived until Monday morning. Next in line was Colonel J. H. Fannin, of La Grange, Georgia, who, after seeing the ammunition was about exhausted, and the fearful odds against him, and the hopelessness of contending against 3,000 picked men inured to warfare, and thoroughly equipped with improved repeating carbines, raised the white flag at 6:30 o'clock, after a gallant stand of eight hours and a half in such an unequal conflict.
Our losses were thirteen killed and twenty wounded, among the killed being Lieutenant McKnight, of Louisana, the author of many beautiful poems.
While the battle was in progress there were other details to carry out. My orders were to take charge of the supplies and government stock, all of which I sent up the river about three miles, on the Winston plantation. My wife and daughter, Callie, accompanied the train on horseback, with a Mr. Leonard in charge. They would have been captured but for a thorough knowledge of the country and the fleetness of their horses.
I was superintending the men under me in tearing up the flooring of the large foot bridge, to prevent the enemy from passing over with their cavalry and heavy ordnance, as Beauregard was thought to be rapidly pursuing this part of Wilson's command. Here the noble young McKnight was killed, and he was on leave of absence from
"Leed's Light Horse," New Orleans. My servant, Andrew Walker, received a slight flesh wound, but from his wild expression, showing so much of the white of his eyes, it was evident he "thought that his time had came." Mr. W. C. Camp, proprietor of the hotel, who left the bridge for the fort to report, had both eyes shot out. So sad! Lieutenant Lee, of Tennessee, was anxious to help out, but his horse was killed, and he could not reach the fort.
Young McKnight, one of our brave boys, who fell by the hand of a sharpshooter, was carried to the residence of Mrs. Ann Winston, and there, unattended by a physician, died. Mrs. Winston, one of the true-hearted women of that day, had his remains interred in her lovely flower-garden. Although far from home (New Orleans) he rested beneath the sweet shadows of rose bowers, and the feathered songsters kept watch over his grave. Old man Baker, Mrs. Ann Winston, Miss Tinsley Winston, and my wife buried McKnight, assisted by some of the old servants.
After the battle had ended, the victorious Federals cheered and climbed upon the parapets of the fort, and were dumbfounded to find so few inside, and praised their valor in no uncertain words. "You fought like demons," they said. "We thought you had at least two companies."
Fourteen of the Point Coupee Battery of Louisiana, who fought a week before at Selma, were in the fort and did valiant service. One of their number named Delmas was killed. Three of the quartermaster's department-Lieutenant John W. Bryant, George Williams Blackwell, of New Orleans, and Julius O. Metcalf, of Natchez-were in the fort.
All the prisoners were marched to the outskirts of the town and bivouacked for the night on the east side of the river. The next morning the Federals burned the two commodious depots filled with government supplies and hundreds of freight cars loaded with machinery, merchandise, etc., together with about sixteen locomotives. The magazine in Fort Tyler was blown up, and the two magnificent bridges were burned; after which the enemy, with the prisoners, were again on their march, carrying destruction on their
A Federal captain, whose leg was amputated, was taken to the residence of the mayor for treatment. He was robbed of his sword, pistols, watch and cash by the Federal stragglers-"The Devil's Own Vagabonds." They found one of the wagons of my wife's
train in the woods and plundered the trunks and boxes, and took the clothing of the officers and men, etc.
After the Federals reached Macon they learned for the first time of Lee's surrender. The prisoners were paroled and sent home. The day after the battle I was reading the burial service over the joint grave of General Tyler and Captain Gonzales, when firing was heard in the direction of the town, and a panic almost ensued. Some cowardly stragglers had returned and shot into the wards of the hospital, killing a wounded soldier in his bunk, and desperately wounding a small lad. They cut up a large zinc yawl, the only means of ferriage, and departed.
The Federal loss at West Point was about 200.
A daughter of Mrs. Potts, sister of the late Charlie Marsh, fired twice from a rifle pit, in the rear of their residence, at the Federal skirmishers. This daring exposure of herself was observed. Colonel La Grange was informed, and learned that the bodies of the gallant Tyler and Gonzales were in the house. He said: "Were it not for the honored dead that lie in the house I would teach the female sharpshooters a lesson." The order to burn the house was rescinded.
West Point, Ga., is midway between Montgomery and Atlanta, 165 miles; there was a difference in the gauge of the track of five inches. The telegraph lines were cut before the surrender of General Lee, leaving us without the means of communication with the outside world.
It is with regret that I cannot recall the names of the six Louisiana boys who assisted in throwing the planks from the bridge into the river. Their timely aid was thoroughly appreciated.
The heroic defense of West Point, Ga., April 16, 1865, cannot be forgotten, and will rank with the hardest contests of the war of 1861-1865.
S. F. Power.
[From the Charlotte, N. C., Observer, October 6, 13, 1895 ]
THE ELEVENTH NORTH CAROLINA REGIMENT.
The Successor of the
First N. C. Volunteers (the Bethel Regiment).
Its History from Its Organization, March 31, 1862, to the Surrender at Appomattox, Va., April 9, 1865, by Colonel W. J. Martin, Davidson College, N. C.
For any inaccuracies or omissions in the statement of facts, and for the absence of anecdotic incidents which would have made the sketch more readable, the writer offers in advance the apology that at the close of the war his diaries and private letters to his family were destroyed by a Federal raiding party. As a consequence he has had to rely mainly on the Rebellion Record-very incomplete on the Confederate side-and on the recollection of the few members of the regiment with whom he has been able to confer.
If his old comrades who detect material errors in this record will send report of the same to him at Davidson, N. C., so that they may be corrected in the proposed volume of sketches, he will be grateful for the favor.
The Eleventh North Carolina Regiment was the successor of the First North Carolina Volunteers, the Bethel Regiment. This latter was mustered into service for six months, and upon its disbandment was re-organized for the war as the Eleventh Regiment, North Carolina troops. It was composed in considerable degree of the material of the Bethel Regiment.
The reorganization took place at Camp Mangum, near Raleigh, March 31, 1862, by the election of C. Leventhorpe, Colonel; W. A. Owens, Lieutenant-Colonel, and W. A. Eliason, Major. Major Eliason was at the same time elected to the Lieutenant-Colonelcy of the Forty-ninth, and accepted it, and Captain W. J. Martin, of the Twenty-eighth, was elected Major in his stead, and was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel May 6th, when Lieutenant-Colonel Owens was elected Colonel of the Fifty-third. At the same time, May 6th, Captain E. A. Ross, of Company A, was promoted to the majority.