Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 13.djvu/147
146 Southern Historical Society Papers.
pened to have been attracted to the spot (three of whom were from Company K, Fourth South Carolina Cavalry, locally known as the "Charleston Light Dragoons,") and to these he shouted "Charge!" he himself leading. The enemy numbered seventy -five;* for eight men to attack such a number would seem rather awkward even to soldiers from the Army of Northern Virginia, but then there was no time for counting noses, and, moreover, their leader was Hampton. We have often read of a warrior's eyes figuratively flashing fire, but it is literally true that on this occasion his eyes emitted sparks of light and his grand personnel claimed the devotion instinctively rendered to the born leader of men. No wonder that, from Manassas to Ap- pomattox, he possessed the faculty of infusing into his followers the inspiration of the God of Battles.
So the eight Confederates flung themselves upon the foe, playing a lively instrumental accompaniment with their pistols to the vocal music of a splendid battle-yell.
The Federals were armed with breech loading carbines, which they fired, but without effect, except for mortally wounding one horse whose indomitable pluck nerved him nevertheless to carry his rider gallantly to the end of the fight. By the time their carbines had been discharged once, their assailants were nearly upon them, and they were bashful about making a nearer acquaintance with strangers; without attempting to reload carbines, or to draw pistols or sabres the company broke in wild terror and all fled for their lives. They became jammed frantically together, their one idea " Devil take the hindmost" (which he was very busy trying to do). The street in which the attack was made ended about a hundred yards further on where a road from the country lead into it, and as the fugitives were rounding this corner the sabres of their pursuers, usually more orna- mental than useful in these days of "villainous saltpetre," were got to work, revolvers having by this time been emptied; after that the scene resembled a covey of partridges scattered by a hawk. Those of them who succeeded in getting away, continued furiously down the road, and never thought themselves safe until they reached their friends, who, it seems, were in force less than a mile distant.
This detachment had probably been thrown forward to ascertain the position of our troops and had blundered into the town somehow through our pickets, where, more bent upon " spoils" than "strate-
- This was the number according to the statement of the captain who was