Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 21.djvu/383
Heroism of Prt'nif,- ( '/ l( - w Colema,,. .",7:,
The guns were pulled out, the cannoneers mounted, and the horses went galloping down a lane formed by a row of cedars on each side to the new position assigned the battery. Notwithstanding the com- pany faced three Federal batteries of six guns each, which had an enfilade of fire on us for probably four hundred yards, for some unaccountable reason we escaped injury until we had gotten within six hundred yards of the enemy's batteries, when their shells were skimming so close to the mounted cannoneers and the horses' heads that, as if by intuition, the men on the caisson in front of me dis- mounted, without the orders to do so, while the remainder of the company kept their seats on the limber-chests. Scarcely half a minute had elapsed after the men, who had dismounted, touched the ground when a shell from one of the enemy's guns came plunging through the particular caisson that nobody was on. When it struck it exploded one chest of the caisson, and the heat set fire to the next one, but it did not explode immediately. The driver of the lead team, in his fright, tumbled from his horse, and the team made straight for the enemy's lines. The wheel driver, however (Chew Coleman, of Spotsylvania, by name), kept his seat, although next to the exploded chest, and the heat set fire to his jacket, which burned through to the skin, and, notwithstanding the flesh was crisping up, and he was suffering the most excruciating pain, he did not let go the reins, but stopped the horses, thereby preventing them from taking the team into the enemy's lines.
He then fell or jumped from his horse nearly exhausted. While this was going on two or three of the cannoneers jumped between the exploded ammunition chest (which was now harmless) and the one on fire and unlimbered it and got out of the way before the fire communicated with the powder, which occurred two or three seconds after, when up went the other two chests with a terrific noise.
These I regard as the bravest exploits that came under my obser- vation in the four years of the war from Bethel to Appomattox.
CHARLES P. YOUNG, Late of Crenshaw Battery, C. S. A.