Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 29.djvu/156
140 Southern Historical Society Papers.
have led in person, would have been about the last of the Fifth North Carolina cavalry.
In a few minutes some artillery came. And oh ! such artillery ! It was the most beautiful in all its appearances that we ever beheld. The smoke of battle had never been about it. Gordon placed it to the slight oblique right and front of our regiment on the elevation of some old entrenchments. It fired once Immediately, one or more of Sheridan's guns were turned on it canister for the first time in its history rattled around those beautiful guns and among its wheels, and every man about the battery flew into the ditches of those old entrenchments. Gordon was furious. He raved and begged. He called it Band-Box Artillery," which would have occurred only to him, possibly, under such a fire. But those artil- lerists " held the trenches faithfully" against Richmond's invaders. Some few of them couldn't even stand that, and came through the woods by us. We laughed at them, ridiculed them, and asked them to go back and man their guns. But they looked at us as if they thought we were surely crazy. Gordon became utterly dis- gusted and went back at a gallop right into the fire down that mili- tary road, and there he received the wound which ended his life and brilliant career six days later. The battle was raging furiously at Meadow bridge on Sheridan's front, and right flank. The command of the brigade now devolved on Colonel Andrews, of the Second, as ranking officer. The Fifth was dismounted to join in the attack on foot. Company F was in front of that column. The order was to cross the road, still swept by canister, and form on its left. Captain Erwin looked calmly around at us and said: " Come on boys." He led, and over the road the regiment went and formed in line of battle. We advanced fast to a horizontal, wide, board fence, which looked literally perforated with rifle balls, and after short firing on our part the enemy disappeared. Sheridan had broken over at Meadow bridge and escaped. Sheridan himself says on page 791, volume 67, War Records: "The enemy considered us completely cornered, but such was not the case." Well, of course, none of us knew for certain, but those of us who were there will never cease to believe that if he had not broken over at Meadow bridge that he and his men would have been given quarters in Richmond for the rest of the war.
He also says, page 801, of his raid: " The result was constant success and the almost total annihilation of the Rebel cavalry."