Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/258

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252 Southern Historical Society Papers.

At early dawn the Federal advance guard crossed the Rappahan- nock river, and charged our outposts with such vigor that they en- tered our camp at their heels. Most of my regiment, Sixth Vir- ginia, had turned their horses out the evening before, so that not more than fifty of us were prepared to mount. Our reveille was the crack of the pistol and carbine of the foe. These fifty men were quickly mounted, formed, and ordered to charge. Not a moment was to be lost, as some of the enemy's advance were in our artillery camp.


I was the unfortunate possessor of an untamed and untamable Buchephalus that Alexander might have ridden, but that no rider on earth could control. I had experienced this on three former oc- casions. But what could I do, charge or not charge, that was the question. Although I knew full well that my wild charger would lead the van, of course I must charge. In our front was a heavily- wooded forest of pine scrub and black jack, through which ran a narrow country road. No time was to be lost, therefore there was little ceremony. The usual commands trot march, gallop, charge were omitted, and the gallant Shumate, who mustered the fifty, sim- ply yelled "Charge," and away we flew down the winding road through that dark and dismal forest, all yelling like so many Co- manche Indians. As the arrow from the bended bow flew my fiery horse. I had taken the precaution to put a jaw-breaking bit on his bridle, but it was of no avail.


He bowed his neck, and placing his mouth against his breast I was helpless, and away he fairly flew. What must I do to be saved ? What could I do? Jump. No; pull off the road I could not; stop I could not. Away, away we went; my horse seemed wild with fury. I looked around, but there was no one in sight. We had left the others far behind. I knew that in a few seconds one poor and soli- tary cavalryman would be rushing into the midst of the foe. Oh, how I pulled, and how often I said whoa, whoa, sir, may be imagined, but all in vain.


As the cyclone sweeps over the prairie flew my mad horse. One moment more and I see drawn up across my path a double line of Federal cavalry. A moment more and we will break that line or fall