Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/300

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294 Southern Historical Society Papers.

he had fixed on to the trail and pulled the gun down the hill perhaps one hundred yards, when the captain, seeing the Yankees were so close on us that we must have been killed or captured in a minute or two more, ordered us to leave the gun and save ourselves if we could. The first glance at the situation seemed to show that this was an impossibility. We were surrounded. They were behind us, on our right, and in front, but we noticed that the line of battle which was now advancing rapidly on our left (it had been our front) had not reached our deserted breastworks by one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards. That gap afforded us the only chance to escape. There was nothing left for us but to surrender at once or " run the gauntlet." We chose the latter, so jumping over the breastworks we commenced the race. If we could make it before the gap was closed up there might be some chance for us. Fortunately the firing had ceased because of the danger of killing their own men.

RUNNING THE GAUNTLET.

So the race was to the swiftest, that time. It has been said that there are times in war when " soldiers' legs are more valuable than their guns," and so it proved for us then. We soon made the top of the next hill, where we got into the woods and felt ourselves safe for the time. But the adventures of the day were not over. I have yet to relate an incident showing the conspicuous bravery of the men composing a small remnant of a Louisiana brigade, which had been formerly under the command of General Hays. There did not seem to be over one hundred men left in it at that time. It had been our fortune to fight " side by side " with these men in several preceding battles of the same year, and I had never seen them waver or give an inch.

Having become separated from the few members of my own com- mand who had been with me up to that time, I overtook these Lou- isianians, who were retiring slowly (and if I should tell the exact truth I would also say sorrowfully) from the field. As I overtook them I was surprised and also much affected by seeing one of them behind his comrades crying like a child, and with the tears running down his face he called to those in front of him, "I say, men, for 4 God's sake let us stop and fight them right here! We are ruined forever." Of course they did not stop, for it would have been madness for a hundred men to attempt to make a stand against the whole Yankee army in broad daylight. I soon left them, but was destined