Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 34.djvu/273
Men of Virginia at Sail's Bluff. 265
Evans was by no means certain that Hun ton could hold Baker in check. The chances he thought quite desperate, and cautioned the Howitzers to be very qareful "not to fire on Hunton's men, who would be the first running out of the woods;" but Hunton not only held on heroically, but drove the enemy, and the Howitzers, therefore, had no chance to test their metal. Their presence upon the field, however, had its effect, for General Stone, in his report, speaks of "breastworks and a hidden battery, which barred the movement of troops from left to right."
THE HERO OF BALL'S BLUFF.
In the narrative histories and descriptions of battles required by the act creating the office of Secretary of Virginia Military Records, it will be my constant aim, while bringing out in as clear relief as possible the achievements and exploits of our own soldiers, to pluck no laurels from the soldiers of our sister Southern States. Unfounded or grossly exaggerated claims discredit their authors and the merit of actions otherwise praiseworthy. Besides, there is a vitality about the truth very dangerous to tamper with.
General Hunton has been known throughout Virginia as the "Hero of Ball's Bluff" ever since the battle, and we have never heard his title to that honor questioned. It is based upon con- siderations which involve no disparagement of the other distin- guished participants. Colonel Evans, the commander of the whole field, remained at Fort Evans, two and a half miles from Edward's Ferry and one and a half miles from Ball's Bluff, during the whole day, watching both points, and directing the general operations.
In detaching two-thirds of his command from Gorman's front to reinforce Hunton at the critical juncture he evinced strategic skill and generalship of a high order and added to the fame he had won at First Manassas.
Colonel Burt, as we have seen, fell mortally wounded while lead- ing a brilliant and successful charge in the face of deadly volleys from the enemy's left wing, in strong position, in conjunction with Hunton's splendid dash against their centre, and no one will question Captain McNealy's tribute to his fame as a hero "by the title of life-sacrifice."
Colonel Featherston, whose crowning and conclusive charge swept the enemy from the woods, over the bluffs, and compelled his surrender, associated his fame forever with this memorable battle.