Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 21.djvu/282
274 Southern Historical Society Papers.
At 5:30 P. M. a most furious enfilading fire against the land face and palisade line commenced certainly never surpassed in warfare 130 shot and shell per minute more than two every second. I ordered my men to protect themselves behind the traverses, and re- moved all extra men from the chambers, with the order, the moment the firing stopped to rally to the ramparts without further orders.
As soon as this fire commenced I saw a heavy line of skirmishers advancing on our works. Just as the naval fire ceased the guns were manned, and I opened with grape and canister, and as it was becom- ing too dark to see the advance from the ramparts, threw 800 men and boys behind the palisades, which had been scarcely injured. I never shall forget the gallant youths whom I rallied that night to meet the enemy. I had ordered all to man the parapets as soon as the naval fire ceased, as I supposed it would be followed by an assault. I thought the junior reserves were coming up too slowly, and I called out rather impatiently, " Don't be cowards, boys," when one manly little officer rushed over the work, followed by his com- panions, shouting, " We are no cowards, Colonel," and manned the palisades. I ordered them not to fire until the enemy were within a few feet of the palisades, but the whistle of bullets from Butler's skir- mish line so excited them that in spite of my orders they kept up a fusilade until the enemy retired.
I was determined to meet the enemy at the palisade, feeling confi- dent the few who would reach it would easily be captured or repulsed. I had the land guns, heavy and light, manned, with orders to fire grape and cannister whenever they saw an advance in force, and the operators stood ready upon my order to explode some of the sub- terra torpedoes. I stood upon the parapet to the left of the centre sally port, after giving directions in person to the officers on the land front. The fleet had ceased, except an occasional shell from the iron- clads down this face. The Federal sharpshooters were firing wildly in the darkness at our ramparts, but the bullets which were few and far between, went harmlessly over our heads. My plan was to open with grape and canister on the assaulting column, and when its front reached the palisade, to open the infantry fire, and explode a line of torpedoes in their rear to stop the reinforcing line. I am confident that this would have resulted in a repulse of the main body and the capture of the first line. But Butler, with wise discretion, determined not to assault. There were not enough Federal troops landed to