Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 18.djvu/264
264 Southern Historical Society Papers,
center of the enemy still stood firm and fighting. Upon that fortified point the flower of the Confederate army, embracing Cleburne and his division, had been hurled and rehurled without success. Charge after charge had been made and repulsed, and it seemed that the position was not to be taken. But just as the sun, encrimsoned with the smoke of battle and like a great, bloody disk in the sky, was sink- ing beneath Lookout mountain, that towered upon our left, news was swiftly brought to our center that both wings of the enemy's line were in full retreat, and orders were given to charge again the Fed- eral center. Quickly onr shattered columns were rallied for the last grand struggle. The "charge" was sounded, and, with a shout that rent the heavens and an impetuosity that swept away all opposition, they dashed into the enemy's works and poured a volley into their flying forces. The battle was over, the victory won, the rout complete. Pursuit was brief Night closed the scene. For a few moments a strange silence reigned. It was indeed strange, in its mysterious con- trast to the uproar and confusion of the last three days. But just then, miles away to our left, through the deep and darkening forest, could be faintly heard the shouting of troops. And what did that mean ? Listen ! listen ! it is the shout of victory ! Nearer and nearer it came, louder and louder it grew, grander and grander it rose, as it was taken up by each successive command in the line, till it passed and repassed the entire line of the Confederate army. From wing to wing it went and returned, from flank to flank it rolled. Sholit after shout rent the skies, echo after echo died upon the heavens. I imagine it was like the shouting of the hosts of Joshua at the taking of the city of Jericho. In the exultation of that moment, every man felt that he was compensated for all the effort, all the anguish, and all the danger that the three days' fight had cost him. For let me here say, that the sublimest emotion that ever filled the human heart, is that inspired by the shout of victory after a long and doubtful con- test. The exultation ceased. Then was a time for memory and tears. The army sank down upon the earth to rest, " the weary to sleep, and the wounded to die." Silence and moonlight wrapped the bloody scene. General Cleburne and his valiant division were in the charge that I have just described the charge that completed the Confederate victory on the famous field of Chickamauga. The Confederate loss in this battle, as I now remember it, was about seventeen thousand in killed, wounded and captured the Federal loss being about the same.