Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/84

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


80 Southern Historical Society Papers.

This was the first intimation that we had to fight negro troops, and it seemed to infuse the little band with impetuous daring as they pressed forward to the fray.

A BRUTAL AND INHUMAN SLAUGHTER.

I never felt more like fighting in my life. Our comrades had been slaughtered in a most inhuman and brutal manner, and slaves were trampling over their mangled and bleeding corpses. Revenge must have fired every heart and strung every arm with nerves of steel for the Herculean .task of blood. We filed up a ditch, which had been dug for a safe ingress and egress to and from the earthworks, until we reached the vale between the elevation on w hich the breastworks were located and the one on the banks of the little stream just men- tioned within two hundred yards of the enemy. The ill-fated battery, which had been demolished by the explosion, projected from the line of earthworks for the infantry at an acute angle, and was called Elliott's Salient. It overlooked the enemy's line of works, which were on the northeastern slope of the same elevation, about 100 yards distant.

The " Crater," or excavation caused by the explosion, was about twenty-five feet deep, sixty feet wide and 150 feet long, with its crest about twelve feet above the ground. About seventy-five feet in rear of the line of earthworks there was a wide ditch with the bank thrown up on the side next to the fortifications. This was con- structed to protect parties carrying ammunition and rations to the troops.

Between this irregular and ungraded embankment and the main line the troops had dug numerous caves, in which they slept at night to be protected from the mortar shells that every evening traced sparkling circles in death search, like shooting stars bespangling the heavens with meteoric beauty.

The embankment, from the bottom of the ditch, was about ten feet high, and commanded the outer or main line. The space from the outside of the fortifications to the inner edge of the ditch was probably more than 100 feet wide.

The Crater and a space of about 200 yards on the north were lit- erally crammed with the enemy's troops.

Official report shows that five army corps were massed to aid in the assault of the lines broken by the explosion, which reported pres- ent for duty on the 3ist of July, the day after the battle, as follows: