Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/362

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


358 Southern Historical Society Papers.

From the Times-Dispatch, October 22, 1905.

GRAPHIC ACCOUNT OF BATTLE OF CRATER.

Charge of Wilcox's Old Brigade Under General Saunders, of Mahone's Division.

STORY OF A PARTICIPANT.

One Among the Most Wonderful Fights in the History of the Wars.

General Henderson, of the English army, who is the celebrated author of the life of Stonewall Jackson, says that, "contemporaneous accounts are the life of history."

I have the pleasure of sending you a story admirably told by Captain John C. Featherston, of Lynchburg, who is so well and favorable known throughout the State, as soldier, legislator and cit- izen, of the part taken in the battles of the Crater by Wilcox's old brigade of Mahone's division, under General J. C. C. Saunders.

He has shown me the letters which he wrote in the trenches on August ist and August 2d, while yet the contending forces con- fronted each other on the field of battle. One of them is written on the paper of the United States Christian Commission, of Washing- ton, which was part of the captured spoil of the battle, and these let- ters addressed to his wife have the flavor of the "real thing."

When the Alabama Brigade, under Saunders, was put in by Ma- hone at the right moment, and after his other brigades had cap- tured the trenches close by the Crater Fort, the last infantry reserve of Lee was casting the die of fate, and Lee himself watched the movements of Mahone's division, and of his last brigade with the in- describable feeling that a commander must possess when playing his piece on the checker-board of war, for at that time a considerable portion of his forces was on the north side of the James, and the Petersburg line was in great attenuation.

Captain George Clark, the assistant adjutant-general of the brigade, who now lives at Waco, Tex., relates in a letter to Captain Featherston, which I have seen, that he went along the line of the brigade and told the privates that General Saunders had been in-