Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/299

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


The Battle of Fisher's Hill 293

been able to account for the singular order, except on the supposition that these two pieces, together with the cannoneers belonging to them, were left to be sacrificed to be fought to the last, and by that means to give the infantry and other troops on that part of the line a chance to get out of the trap. After this unsuccessful attempt to change front under such a heavy cross-fire our infantry had been withdrawn, and the two pieces of artillery, with the detachments of cannoneers necessary to work them, were left alone. Of course I had no means of ascertaining the number, but I believe that at the least ten thousand of the enemy's infantry were advancing on us from two different directions.

THICK WITH BULLETS.

The air seemed to be thick with bullets. It may perhaps be thought strange that twelve or fourteen men would stay there under such circumstances, but we had been trained to stand to our guns until we had orders to leave them, or they had been taken by the enemy.

One of our guns had been pulled out of the breastworks and was pointing down the line of now empty fortifications to our left, and was pouring canister into the ranks of the advancing Yankees, with as much vim as if we could have hoped to drive them back, and the other gun was hurling shell with equal rapidity into the line of battle which was closing in on us from the front. This was a strange look- ing battle. Two guns fighting perhaps ten thousand men. It was very much like the combat between David and Goliath ; except that Goliath had so many lives this time that David's "smooth stones " made very little impression. Our cannister was now gone and I was sitting on a pile of ammunition behind the gun giving out shells and case-shot in which no fuse had been fixed, because the enemy was now so close on us that fuse could not be used to any advantage.

CRITICAL MOMENTS.

" Number four " fell dead across me and the pile of ammunition on which I was sitting. I unbuckled the box of friction-primers from around him, fastened it around myself, and slipped in his place ; and if my recollection serves me right only three men were then left at the gun. We did not have time to fire but a few more rounds when we heard the voice of our captain calling to us to make an attempt to pull one of the pieces off by hand. We seized a prolong which