Page images

railroad, I would peep up to see how near the Federals were.

Captain Jones, on the other side of the railroad, was doing the same thing. Closer and closer would the Federals come, and I would think to myself, "Will he never say fire?" At length they came within ten or fifteen yards, as Mr. Alley says, and the Major straightened himself, "Rear rank, ready! aim, fire!" Then, "Front rank, ready! aim, fire!" I extended the orders to Captain Jones, and 250 Enfield rifles of each rank spoke at each command with one voice. The air was thick in front of us with the smoke; but when we ceased firing, and the air cleared, we could see the retreating and scattered Federals, and the dead they had left in our front.

In one of these charges, while the shells were flying, I peeped up to see the approaching Federals. Just in front of me there suddenly appeared something like a black buzzing bee. It was a shell. I knew what it was, and down I ducked behind the breastwork. The shell burst in the breastwork, right in front of me, and covered me with dirt all to my protruding legs. I was pulled out, and my head bandaged where a piece of the shell had struck me. It was my duty to report the casualties. I did not report myself. "How is this?" asked Major Rion. I told it was slight, and I did not want my to be unnecessarily alarmed. "Wounds, sir, are honorable to a soldier and his command. A wound is any blood letting. Don't let this occur again." I told him "I hoped it would not.”


But all things must come to an end. General Hoke had been preparing an interior line for us, while we were fighting the forts. South of Hare's Race Course was the old Colonial Canal, leading from near Colquitt's salient down to the Appomattox, and it made splendid breastworks. On the morning of the 19th the interior line was ready. At daylight Major Rion directed me to make a detail of skirmishers for him. When I reported with the detail he directed me to take the rest of the battalion back to the canal and report to General Hagood. This I did, looking back at Major Rion to see what he was going to do with his skirmishers. They were all lying flat and within ten or fifteen yards of the breastworks. The Federals saw us withdraw, and came on to the forts with a great rejoicing. The Major let them crowd the breastworks, and then poured in a volley from his skirmishers. Both sides retreated.

I had reported to General Hagood in the road, and he directed me to take his horse and recall Major Rion. The campaign had made him bony, yet I mounted, but did not get twenty yards before he fell with me. The shells were flying, and they thought I was

killed, but I got on my feet, turned the horse's head back to the General, and cried out, "If he had no objections, I would take the balance of my journey afoot," and so I did.


The Major brought in his skirmishers, and exchanged them for the first company of the Washington Light Infantry, and went back to the front. The Federals must have thought he had a brigade, he ran the infantry about in such a way. We could hear him, “ Charge, men, charge!" "Down!" The infantry behaved well, and the Major was so well pleased that he sent to me for the second company of the Light Infantry. General Hagood gave me a verbal order on the commanding officer for them, and I carried then out to Rion. He had been wounded in the right forearm at Drury's Bluff, and he always carried a tournequet and bandages ready in his haversack. Just after midday he was wounded in the left forearn, and brought in his skirmishers. I applied the tournequet for him, and bandaged his arm, and he went to the hospital.

Before going he had the prescience to establish our picket pits; he directed they should be kept at a good distance from our main line, so that the main line might not be annoyed by shooting from close quarters. This was wise. When we first entered the canal our regiments were mixed up, but soon Colonel Nelson came in, and our battalion was aligned from the road eastwardly, and the other regiments extended to Colquitt's salient in the same direction; to the west of the road was Clingman's North Carolina Brigade. They did not keep the Federals off as far as we did, and the consequence was Clingman suffered from the near approach of the Federals. They got so close they could talk together, swap tobacco, newspapers, The men became so friendly that an order was issued on our side to stop it, and to commence firing. I recall how a Tarheel got on the breastworks and cried out, "Hide out, you Feds, we have orders to commence firing, and we are going to begin."


The difference in the picket lines in front of us and those in front of Clingman made a complete trap for several Federal officers. The officer of the day and officers in charge of the Federal picket line used to start, after nightfall, to visit their picket pits, commencing at the Appomattox river, and going eastwardly. Along Clingman's line it was plain sailing, but when they came to the road and crossed over in our front, they came on the same projection to the rear of the Confederate pickets; and all the Confederates had to do was to draw a bead on them and make them stand and deliver.

Captain W. C. Clyburn, of Co. G, was at that time acting as

major, and inasmuch as we had recovered the cannon on the 17th he was put in charge of it when it was brought back to the canal. It was right in the road, and the Federal prisoners, when brought in, would be brought before Captain Clyburn. He is now, and was then, one of the politest men in the world. He would receive these Federal officers with the utmost courtesy, but he would always insist on the spoils of war. Captain Clyburn had plenty of greenbacks and good clothing so long as this trap lasted. He lived well, too. He once asked me to dinner with him. 'Take this seat, up against

this tree; you can see to the front, and you are in no danger, I can assure you. None of the Federal balls ever come lower than this mark," said he, showing me a spot on the tree about three inches above my head. About a day or two afterwards Captain Clyburn showed me where a Federal ball had struck the tree fully six inches below, just where my head had been.

When I went

Four years after this battle I revisited this field. into the army for good my wife had made me a pretty woolen shirt, and put in it my set of amethist and pearl studs, so that if I was killed, as she said, whoever found my body would see I was a gentleman and give me decent burial. A few days after I had been among the tadpoles, as above related, I went to the rear, towards the Appomattox, to bathe and wash my clothing. I found, I thought, a safe place, and deposited my studs on a stump, taking my shirt with me into the water. While busy in my laundry the Federals made an attack, and their balls fell so thick around me that I retreated, taking my clothing, regardless of my studs. My remembrance is that Captain Martin, of General Hagood's staff, was wounded in the same vicinity that day. So when I went North for my health in 1868, and passed through Petersburg, I stopped over to see the old battlefield and find my studs. I found the stump, but the studs were gone. The old forts were reversed. Instead of facing North they faced South. Some negro women and a man were hoeing corn on the site of the left fort, I asked them "if that was a Yankee or Rebel fort?" "He Yankee fort," was the answer. I was miffed, I said: "I was here in the fight, and just where the women are hoeing three men were killed by one shell, and we buried them right there.' Down went the hoes, and away went the women, just as the Federals had done years before.

[From the Pulaski, Tenn., Citizen, January 6, 1898.]


A Tribute to this Martyr by ELLA WHEELER WILCOX, with a Simple Account of the Sacrifice.

A Touching Parallel to the Fate of NATHAN HALE.

Nothing sweeter, it may be felt, might the poet have done, than in her lines given. It may be trusted, that, permanently re-united, our most promising refuge and Nation, will not fail in recognition, in time, of every instance of honorable devotion.

At a recent meeting of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, at Baltimore, a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox was read. The poem is eulogistic of a young Tennessee Confederate soldier who preferred death to dishonor.

Mrs. Wilcox wrote the poem for the Confederate Veteran, and in a note to the editor, she said:

"I have never worked harder to produce what I desired. I began fully twenty poems before I wrote this one."

Here it is:


When the Lord calls up earth's heroes
To stand before his face,

Oh, many a name unknown to fame
Shall ring from that high place!
And out of a grave in the Southland
At the just God's call and beck,
Shall one man rise with fearless eyes
And a rope around his neck.

For men have swung from gallows

Whose souls were white as snow,
Not how they die nor where, but why
Is what God's records show.

And on that mighty ledger

Is writ Sam Davis' name

For honor's sake he would not make

A compromise with shame.

The great world lay before him,
For he was in his youth,

With love of life young hearts are rife,
But better he loved truth.
He fought for his convictions,
And when he stood at bay

He would not flinch nor stir one inch
From honor's narrow way.

They offered life and freedom
If he would speak the word;
In silent pride he gazed aside
As one who had not heard.
They argued, pleaded, threatened—
It was but wasted breath,

"Let come what must, I keep my trust,"

He said and laughed at death.

He would not sell his manhood

To purchase priceless hope;

Where kings cast down a name and crown
He dignified a rope.

Ah, grave! where was your triumph?
And death! where was your sting?
He showed you how a man could bow
To doom and stay a king.

And God, who loves the loyal

Because they are like him,
I doubt not yet that soul shall set
Among his cherubim.
Oh, Southland! fling your laurels:
And add your wreath, Oh, North!
Let glory claim the hero's name,
And tell the world his worth.

The bronze head of Sam Davis was one of the most admired works of art in the Parthenon of the Tennessee Centennial.

This bust, executed by Julian Zolling, represents a nobly formed head; the boyish face conveys an impression of courage, strength and sweetness. Many visitors were attracted to this bit of bronze; singularly enough, many of them had never before heard of Sam Davis and his tragic death. Here is the story:

In 1863 General Bragg sent a number of picked men, as scouts, among them Sam Davis, into Middle Tennessee in order to gain information concerning the Federal army; he wished to know if the Union army was re-enforcing Chattanooga. The men were to go

« PreviousContinue »