Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/76

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70 Southern Historical Society Papers.

Upon reaching the Gregg house I met General Wilcox, and told him what my orders were from General Walker. He said, with much emphasis : "The guns must remain ; the forts must be held to the last extremity. Even if we wished to withdraw the guns, the enemy has a battery exploding shells at the entrance to the fort, and it is impossible to get in or out."

Meanwhile, Harris had placed his men in the forts, himself going into Whitworth, and Colonel Duncan with the Twelfth and Sixteenth Mississippi regiments entering Gregg.

Lieutenant Walke was more fortunate (or unfortunate) at Whit- worth than I was at Gregg, and withdrew the guns, as ordered by General Walker.

The enemy were now advancing to the attack, and Gregg, being surrounded, was finally taken, and Harris, deprived of his artillery, saved the remnant of hisc ommand by withdrawing from Whitworth, in compliance with orders from General Wilcox.

The defence of Gregg has been often described. I witnessed the three assaults from Battery 45, where I posted myself with my bat- talion commander, Colonel Mclntosh. We saw distinctly the rushes of the enemy, the discharge of 'McElroy's guns when the enemy was almost up to their muzzles. An incident is related by an artillery- man (John S. Mioton) who was in the fort, that just as a young man (a member of the third company, Washington Artillery one Berry) was about to pull the lanyard of one of the guns, the Federals ap- peared above him on the parapet and shouted loudly to him : " Don't fire that gun ; drop the lanyard, or we'll shoot ! " " Shoot and be damned!" retorted Berry, and discharged the gun, loaded with double canister, into the masses of the enemy. As he did so, he fell, pierced with numerous balls, a corpse. We tried to help by firing solid shot from the English Whitworth gun in Forty-five, but with little effect.

The fatal error in not finishing the rifle pits between Gregg and Whitworth contributed largely to aid the assailants. The unfinished trench gave them a foothold to climb the parapet, and we saw six regimental flags in quick succession gain that position. The firing being continued, we thought then that the garrison was being put to the sword. It has been estimated that there were two hundred men in Fort Gregg maybe more ; sixty-seven were reported killed,