Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/282

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278 Southern Historical Society Papers.

8,000 men for duty. General Anderson, with his infantry and artillery, has left us and returned to Richmond, leaving only Fitz Lee's small force of cavalry. On the other hand rumor says Sheridan has fully 40,000 well equipped, well clad and well fed soldiers. If Early had half as many he would soon have sole pos- session of the valley, and Sheridan would share the fate of Milroy, Banks, Shields, Fremont, McDowell, Hunter, and his other Yan- kee predecessors in the valley campaign. Sheridan's lack of vigor, or extra caution, very strongly resembles incompetency, or cowardice.


September 14. This is the second anniversary of the battle of Boonsboro, where I had the ill luck to be taken prisoner in 1862, and kept 90 days before being exchanged. We had just reached the scene of action, met the dead body of gallant Gen. Garland, when an order from General D. H. Hill, through General Rodes, to Colonel B. B. Gayle, of the i2th Alabama, directed that skir- mishers should be deployed in front, and while our precise Ad- jutant, L. Gayle, was looking over his roster of officers, to detail one in his regular turn, Gayle hurriedly exclaimed, ' 'detail Lieu- tenant Park to command the skirmishers," and I immediately re- ported for orders. Was directed to carry my squad of forty men, four from each company, to the foot of South Mountain, and "keep the enemy back." I hastily deployed the men, and we moved down the mountain side. On our way we could see the enemy in the valley below advancing, preceded by their dense line of skir- mishers. I concealed my men behind trees, rocks and bushes, and cautioned them to aim well before firing. We awaited with bated breath and beating hearts, the sure and steady approach of the "Pennsylvania Bucktails," who were in front of us, and soon near enough to fire upon. In response to my loud command the men fired, almost simultaneously, and we drove back the skirmishers to their main line. The solid, well drilled line advanced steadily forward, and my small party, as soon as they were near enough to make their aim sure, fired again, and every leaden messsenger sped on its unerring way and stilled a soldier's heart. At least fifty must have been killed or wounded by these two volleys. But they con- tinued to advance, their officers cursing loudly, and earnestly ex- horting them to "close up," and "forward." My men slowly fell