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Sketch of Cobb Legion Cavalry
and Some Incidents and Scenes Remembered:

Electronic Edition

Howard, Wiley C.


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Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
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Call number E547.C63 H68 1901 (Davis Library, UNC-CH)


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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 19th edition, 1996



Sketch of Cobb Legion Cavalry
And Some Incidents and Scenes Remembered.

BY WILEY C. HOWARD, OF COMPANY C.

        Prepared and Read under appointment of Atlanta Camp 159, U. C. V., August 19, 1901.

        The regiment known as Cobb Legion Cavalry in the Army of Virginia, was the cavalry battalion of the organization known first as Cobb's Legion raised by Colonel, afterwards, Brigadier-General Thomas Roots Reed Cobb, of Athens, Georgia. It consisted of a battalion of infantry and one of calvary and a battery of artillery, called the Troup Artillery. The whole organization was under command of Col. Cobb until after the Seven Days fighting around Richmond, when there was a re-organization, the cavalry being recruited and raised to a regiment and formed a part of Hampton's Brigade, Stuart's Cavalry Corps. Soon after reaching Richmond in July, 1861, P. M. B. Young, fresh from West Point, was assigned to duty as Sargeant-Major and Drill Master of the calvary. His genius and skill as a soldier were quickly demontrated by his masterful manipulation and training of the splendid material under his command, and he was, before leaving Richmond, chosen Major. Our first service was on the peninsular below Yorktown under the general command of Gen. J. Bankhead Magruder. In March, 1862, the Legion was ordered across the James river at old Jamestown, first to Suffolk, Va., and then to Goldsboro, N. C. Later on the command was ordered back to Virginia, and for a time was stationed at Camp Meadow, near Richmond, doing vidette duty along the Chickahominy until the flank movement of Stonewall Jackson began the day before the Seven Days fighting began. By this time, promotions had taken place. Pierce Young was Lieutenant Colonel. Benjamin H. Yancey, a brother of Wm. L. Yancey, who first commanded the Fulton Dragoons and was the ranking captain, became Major while we were at Camp Marion below Yorktown. He was afterwards succeeded by William G. DeLoney, first captain of Company C, called "Georgia Troopers." Our command marched to Ashland and there joined in the movement of Stonewall Jackson to flank McClellan. Our first experience under fire was on the evening of the battle of Cold Harbor, and my impressions there of the dread reality of war will never be effaced. Col. Cobb was in command


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and we were drawn up in battle array, mounted and expecting for two hours to charge, while the enemy's artillery played on our position, the bursting of shells and the occasional whizzing of minie balls about us, the terrific roar of musketry and booming of cannon to our right, the clouds of dust that noted the track of the moving combatants, the occasional sight of the wounded being taken back, and wild cheering of Jackson's men and others as they pressed back the serried ranks of the foe from one line of defense to another, the rapid riding of couriers and staff officers scurrying hither and thither with messages and orders to commanding officers, are all indelibly painted on memory's walls, never to be effaced. Nor do I fail to remember, and am not ashamed to say, that while in this great suspense under fire, yet not participating, but all expectancy, my thoughts ran back to the dear old home in Oglethorpe county, Ga., my loved mother, father and sisters, as well as my six brothers - all in service - (the eldest of whom laid down his life about this hour in another part of this great battlefield for his country and in defence of human rights and Southern liberty). I say here and now I am not ashamed to own, that I breathed a fervent prayer for all dear to me, my loved Southland, and felt my nerves steadied as I silently invoked Divine aid to help me discharge my duty and face the foe courageously so as not to bring disgrace on my name and blood, and to acquit myself like a man and a true Southron. The battery which we had expected to charge with the infantry support having been silenced and withdrawn, we moved out and engaged until after nightfall in pursuing and pressing back the retreating foe, skirmishing, taking prisoners, etc. Then we went what seemed a long way down, where the enemy had been, in darkness, passing among the dead and wounded and listening to the heart-rending groans of the wounded as they cried for water and help. The memory of this has ever been with me and verifies Sherman's definition of war. The counter-sign that night whispered along the line from man to man was "Tomlinson." We were on the march, making slow progress, till very late in the night, when we rested on our arms. Early next morning we were on the go, striking the railroad leading to the White House on Pamunkey river near West Point. At Dispatch Station we quickly attacked a body of the enemy, Major DeLoney leading, charging them and dispersing them. Our casualties were, Lieut. Early, wounded in the arm, and Bugler Fred Walters, scalp wound with saber, both of Company C, while private Sam Bailey, of the same company, was the first to draw blood with saber from an invader. Having torn up the railroad, we proceeded to the White House, where my company was in charge for two days, when we rejoined the command near bloody Malvern Hill. Some month or more after this we marched to the bloody work about Second Manassas, engaging in a number of skirmishes and hot little bouts near Thoroughfare Gap. Our command was in front when Stuart planned to surprise the enemy's wagon train on the road near Hay Market. DeLoney, at head of column, was just entering the thicket to pounce upon the train when it was


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found to be heavily guarded by strong infantry marching alongside the train with fixed bayonets, and our presence being discovered, we were subjected to a very uncomfortable canonading by a battery of the enemy overlooking the situation. DeLoney was recalled and we had to about-face, but our leader did so stubbornly and under protest, for he was a game fighter and dared to attempt anything, even though it seemed impossible to others. After Manassas, we pursued Pope's famous army away towards Washington and had numerous tilts with the Yankee cavalry. At Upperville there was a hard-fought cavalry fight under Hampton, and our regiment met the enemy with glittering sabers, clearing the field and showing the effect in the large number of the enemy's killed and wounded, while our own loss was moderately heavy. Cobb Legion there illustrated its glorious name, as on many other fields. Across the Potomac we plunged at night and shortly met the advance of McClellan's second army as it advanced towards Sharpsburg. Our regiment had a number of tussels with the foe at different places, and in a charge between stone-walled lane added new lustre to its fame. Colonel P. M. B. Young and Captain Gib. J. Wright, being both badly wounded. Wright will long be remembered as he lay holding up his bleeding foot and cried to us as we passed, "give 'em h--l, boys, they've got me down!" At one point I remember brave Dan O'Connor and myself were in advance on picket when it seemed McClellan's whole army was coming up the road. We exchanged shots with their advance guard and fell back on our reserve, consisting of fifteen men under gallant Lieut. Tom House, where we made a stand until the enemy in force came directly upon us. When I told House that fifteen men could not hold McClellan's army in check, he said, 'By jaunties, give 'em h--I anyhow." The command fighting stubbornly from position to position, late at night came through Crampton's Gap somehow - I never did know how - and pushed on under orders near Harper's Ferry. The Troup artillery under the intrepid Henry Carlton pulled their guns up Maryland's Heights and next morning we listened to that thunderous bombardment of Harper's Ferry, where Col. Miles and eleven thousand Yankees surrendered to the strategy of Jackson and the prowess of Southern soldiers, while Lee with Longstreet and the rest held McClellan back at Boonesboro. Our command recrossed the river on pontoon bridges into Harper's Ferry and saw the eleven thousand bluecoats paroled and marched back across the bridge. Two days later some of these paroled prisoners were recaptured at Sharpshurg, showing utter disregard of parole and honor! Shame upon all such! Leaving Harper's Ferry, we marched up the river and crossed in deep water near the right end of our fighting line in front of Sharpsburg and worked our way to the left, where Stuart, Fitz Lee and others were operating on McClellan's flank and were subjected to some fierce and destructive cannonading, not to speak of the zip of the minies. The night after the last day's fight, General Hampton lead us across the Potomac between Falling Waters and Sharpsburg, at an old blind ford, and such an


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experience rarely comes to horse and rider. Standing on rocks half leg deep in water, the next step would plunge horse and rider into it up to the neck. I remember sleeping a while before day on a rock pile in clothes soaking wet, and oh! how delicious to be thus allowed to sleep, wet and hungry, while I dreamed of a soft downy feather bed away at home. We assisted in tearing up the Baltimore& Ohio Railroad beyond Martinsburg as far as a little place called Funktown, I think, where in a brisk and hot little fight Lieut. Salter, of Company H, was killed, besides other casualties. For some time we camped near Bunker Hill, between Winchester and Harper's Ferry, and as I remember some of the command accompanied General Stuart on the raid into Maryland and to Chambersburg, Penn., though I was not along, as I was off at that time on detailed service. We participated in the campaign east of the Blue Ridge during the fall and winter, resisting the advance of and harassing Mead in his retreat from the uncomfortable position he found himself in at Vedeersville, camping, as I remember, part of the winter near Raccoon Ford, from whence Gen. Hampton made his daring raid on Dumfries, and then shivering without tents in an old pine field near Stevensburg, from whence we picketed along the Rappahannock. While Mead and Lee were manoeuvering about Bristow Station and along the Warrenton turnpike, I think it was, a portion of our command together with some scattering detachments of Virginia cavalry, together with three guns of a Maryland battery, under command of Gen. P.M. B. Young, who was just returning to the army after recovering from wounds, played a bold and hazardous game of bluff protecting Lee's army train passing by Culpepper Court House across Hazel Run and on towards Warrenton, whither Lee was advancing on Mead. Two army corps of the enemy had crossed the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford and were rapidly moving uncomfortably near our wagon train, we having no adequate force of cavalry and no infantry to arrest their progress. Our squadron with the Virginia cavalry, all told not over five hundred men, if so many, were quickly and skillfully disposed by Young so as to conceal our real force and the artillery brought forward and engaged in a protracted duel with that of the enemy. The range was soon ascertained, Young himself personally directing the handling of the guns and sighting the pieces, while our whole command under his orders and, in his peculiar phraseology, kept time to the music of guns and hurtling, bursting shells above us and about our artillery by yelling, as he said, "like hell and damnation." Couriers and others under his orders dashed about, along and in front of what the Yanks supposed to be our concealed line of battle, along the zigzag edge of a wood where had formerly been an army camp strewed with barrels, etc. Our friends, the enemy, stopped apparently dismayed at the audacity of our manoeuvering and let their battery pound away at ours and shell the woods promiscuously for more than two hours while the sun was sinking low in the west. Young sat on his iron-gray stallion near the battery, shouting orders and directing gunners, looking a veritable


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young Napoleon, absolutely without fear or mistrust of his ability to successfully cope with the situation in hand. His presence and demeanor displaying a sublime courage which was to all about him an inspiration, when bursting shells ripped open horses and disabled men and they knew no re-inforcements could be had, the men never wavered or ceased to make all the noise that could be extracted from Southern throats, while gaps in the line were instantly closed up. At length nightfall began to come on, the enemy gradually ceased their galling artillery fire and their sharp-shooters stopped whizzing their long range missiles about us, a band, ordered some two hours before from our wagon train, arrived on the scene and was placed by Young in front of our battery and played "Dixie Land," while the boys shouted the rebel yell for all there was in it, and men lighted up bonfires of barrels, brush and what-not along our supposed zigzag line of battle, as if an army after a skirmish held its position and was making the usual campfires, the men playing this farce whooping and hollowing all the while. Our friends, the enemy, not to be outdone by this flare of trumpets on our part, quickly brought up a band, and it must have been a fine one for they played "Annie Laurie" sweeter than I had ever heard it before it seemed to me. Then our boys gave them "Way Down upon the Swannee River". The farce was ended, the bold bluff had done its perfect work and our train was safe beyond Hazel Run protected by Marse Robert's infantry. Had the commanding officer understood our situation and our predicament, they could have run over and dissipated us like frost before the sun and taken our army train easily, for they were within two miles of its roadway at one point. But they had been thrown across the river to feel about, as Lee's movements about there were veiled in mystery to them as well as to many of us who followed him and trusted him as children do their parents. Next morning the Yanks were again beyond the river, hastening to help Mead keep out of Marse Robert's clutches.

        As our command was guarding the fords on upper Rappahannock River, we did not actively participate in the great battle of Fredericksburg, where Lee so gloriously and superbly repulsed Burnside and ended his military career and where our lamented Gen. Tom Cobb was killed. Peace to his ashes. The Confederacy never lost a truer, abler or nobler defender and the recent scandal concerning him is as base and groundless as can be imagined. Who for a moment that knew him could give credit to the slander recently published through the instrumentality of some unheard of and irrepressible scribbler, more anxious for newspaper notoriety than ever he was to serve the cause and make a name worthy of a soldier. A skulking coward who failed to win fame with gun and saber and whose pen has only carved the fame of infamy and ignominy for the one who inspired and wrote the damnable diatribe! Thank God, the life and character of our peerless Cobb is too noble and grand to be smirched by such damnable attacks - even if there were no living witnesses as to how he came to his glorious death on Marie's


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Heights that day where his brigade won world-wide fame resisting the most persistent and furious onslaughts of a determined foe until their slain bodies almost made a pyramid rivaling in height the memorable stone wall which witnessed the holocaust of death and destruction. Glorious Tom Cobb and his brave command will live forever in history among the brightest constellations that shine out in the annals of great achievements and military glory.

        I cannot within proper limits of a sketch like this undertake to tell of all our experience as a cavalry command throughout the war. What I recollect would make a volume, perhaps not very readable with the general public or those of other parts of the army, but still of thrilling interest to old comrades who shared in this strenuous experience. We had our share in the conflicts of the Wilderness and Gettysburg, Chancellorsville and Spottsylvania Court House, opposing Grant all along as he dropped down below Richmond and across to Petersburg, at Reams Station and later in front of Five Forks, on the Plank Road where grand and glorious old Wade Hampton lost his youngest son Press and young Wade was desperately wounded, the great South Carolinian with Pierce Young led the charge against infantry. We met and defeated Wilson's raid and fought all night at Sapponia Church. We coped with Sheridan in a number of combats, defeating him at Travillian Station and driving him to the swamps of the Chickahominy, with hard brushes at Nances and Hawe Shops. Not all these engagements were participated in in the order named. With Hampton we rode and fought Sherman through the Carolinas, surprising Kilpatrick and camp near Fayettesville, North Carolina, and at Bentonville and up to Raleigh before the terms of Johnson's surrender began to be considered and finally at Greensboro, all the regiment then present surrendered.

        In this enumeration of engagements participated in by our command, I have not mentioned many wherein the valor and endurance of men were put to the test severely, much of cavalry fighting being often away from proximity to the main army. At Brandy Station, near Culpepper Court House, while Lee was en route to Pennsylvania, there occurred perhaps the greatest distinctive cavalry battle in our experience. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, the gay knight of the black plume, commanding. A signal victory for us, after hard and stubborn fighting with sabers, small arms and artillery. The enemy, while we were fighting a force to the front towards the river, somehow got into our rear and when we faced about the vast plain was aswarm with bluecoats, mounted and coming at us vigorously. Our command fought over the little knoll called by us the Peach Orchard, where a splendid line of the enemy with drawn sabers and pistols stood watching a battery just being put into position. We swung right into line within two hundred yards of the enemy and as Young in a clear ringing voice commanded "Charge," we swept in splendid order up to the enemy's lines as yet unbroken, their front rank emptying their pistols at us, while the shining sabers of their rear rank glistened as they flashed in our faces. We "mixed"


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with them, as the noble Forest termed it, and soon their splendid line was all broken and each man of us was fencing and fighting for the time his individual foe, the fiery and impetuous onslaught of the Southron was too much for the steady courage of the Northman, and quick and fast as the blows fell and the cold steel slashed, the most of the enemy were making to their rear, some mounted, some unhorsed, others pinned to the earth by a fallen steed, all sorts of experiences and incidents happening all about us. My man having at the first slash deftly wheeled to the rear, I rushed to the aid of one of my comrades, who being tangled in the limbs of a peach tree, was being chopped over the head by his adversary, when with a fortunate swing of the arm my blade touched his neck and the blood flowed, much to the relief of my friend, who dashed after his man and I was carried nolens volens right amid the confused mass of jumbled up retreating Yanks by my unruly mare, never stopping until she ran up against a piece of artillery they were trying to save, drivers and others jumping down and running for dear life. As I got control of my steed and faced her about I saw Major DeLoney, my former Captain, smiting Yankees right and left as he charged along in advance. He sat on his charger grandly, his fine physique and full mahogany beard flowing, he looked a very Titan war god, flushed with the exhuberance and exhiliration of victory. He called to me to rally with others of his old company about him and on he led us pressing the retreating foe right down to a railroad cut, until we had run into the cross fire of the enemy's dismounted men, organized there, I suppose, to stay the stampede of the crowd we had driven back and if possible to arrest our progress. Col. Young, seeing from his position the danger, dashed rapidly down and ordered DeLoney to withdraw, but shaking his head and lion-like beard DeLoney said, "Young, let's charge them," and in two or three minutes five horses fell and a number of our men had been shot. By this time, however, the enemy's whole line in sight were giving way and on we went, those not unhorsed or crippled. So fierce and fast was the fighting, we had no time to accept surrender offered by many Yankees - just rode on and left them behind. Wm. L. Church, youngest child of Dr. Alonzo A. Church, of Franklin College, who went out as 4th corporal in my company, was Adjutant and was unhorsed while contending with two men mounted. He finally succeeded in fatally thrusting one through, who was leaning over and had his hand on him, and as he tumbled off, Church mounted his adversary's horse and galloped to the front with us. He was indeed a gallant, dashing fighter and though often struck (twenty-five times) by spent balls, escaped serious wounds. As our portion of the field was won, I saw just across on an elevation near the brick house, Hart's Battery, that splendid organization, equipped with Whitworth guns from England by Gen. Hampton personally, fighting their guns without any support. They were suddenly attacked by Yankee cavalry, who rode among them about the guns, chopping them down, and Hart's men beat them with gun sticks from their horses in two instances. Their


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dilemma was quickly relieved by a charge led, I think, by glorious Fitz Lee and part of the Virginia cavalry, which cleared the guns in three minutes, and Hart's boys were again at them, thundering away at the retreating foe. About this time Gen. Jeb Stuart dashed up to where our officers were endeavoring to reform us for further work, and waving his hat with the black rooster feather above his head, said, "Cobb's Legion, you've covered yourselves with glory, Follow me!" which acted like magic, and the column being formed, he halted it and told the officers to await orders, while this incomparable cavalier darted away to other commands. Stuart was a superb man and magnetic leader of men, a born commander, with all the geniality of a jolly comrade, absolutely without fear - like Stonewall Jackson, a man of destiny - and when he fell fighting, all hearts were melted with sadness over our great loss. I have seen him in the midst of whizzing bullets and hurtling shells humming some favorite ditty, as for instance, "Old Joe Hooker, come out of the Wilderness." We were with him on that last great and memorable flank movement of Jackson in Hooker's rear. The next day, when he passed us in command of Jackson's corps, we bared our heads and cheered our cavalry ideal hero, fearing that he would be taken from us for good. When later on Stuart was killed near Richmond, Hampton, our own beloved; brave and skillful, unselfish Wade Hampton, who knew by name almost all the men of his old brigade, and delighted to recognize the humblest private just the same as the highest officer - took command of all the cavalry of Northern Virginia, and with such magnificent Division and Brigade commanders as Fitz Lee, Rosser, Mat Butler, Wicham, Young, Lomax, Munford, and others, he managed it masterfully and gloriously, until called to the Carolinas to help beat back Sherman. God bless Wade Hampton and may he linger long among us who love him for all his glorious past and the grandeur of his aged life and unspotted character. As a soldier and a noble man, he is the peer of any man living, and after death worthy to join the brilliant galaxy of those knightly spirits of comrades, officers and privates, who have passed "over the river and rest under the shade of the trees." The memory of his deeds and fame shall go sounding down the corrodors of Time, inspiring generations that shall follow in the ages to come to lofty manhood, noble daring and self-sacrifice on the altar of truth and human liberty.

        Speaking of Hampton reminds me of an incident illustrating his cool courage and high sense of honor, even when hard pressed by three or four adversaries in personal combat at Gettysburg the last day, where our cavalry under Stuart fought a desperate and protracted battle lasting several hours on our extreme left with the enemy's cavalry under Pleasanton, where Hampon was severely wounded. Being hard pressed and partially disabled, while protecting himself with saber from a furious onslaught of three of the enemy and cornered against a fence, another came up in his rear and shot him in the back. An eye witness who with others was flying to his relief, said that while he parried manfully


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the blows being rained on his devoted head by his antagonists in front, he turned his head with those snapping eyes flashing upon the man who shot him and said, "You dastardly coward - shoot a man from the rear!" and continued to figh the foes in front until rescued from his perilous position by three men of his old brigade, belonging to the Jeff. Davis Legion of Georgia, who wounded and drove off his assailants. The day before this happened, when we returned to the vicinity of Gettysburg, near a place called Hunterstown, I think, our command had a thrilling experience and while charging a body of cavalry down a lane leading by a barn, ran into an ambuscade of men posted in the barn who dealt death and destruction upon us. Within five minutes some four or five officers were killed and wounded and about fifteen men were slain or wounded. Col. DeLoney leading the charge on his prancing bay Marion was unhorsed, his charger being shot, fell upon him so that with great difficultty he extricated himself from his prostrate position. Our men had passed him meantime, driving and routing the force in front, when three Yankees seeing his almost helpless position and that he was an officer of note, dashed upon him to subdue, capture him or kill him, shooting and cutting him from their horses. But this superb fighter, with his Hugunot blood boiling, raised himself on one knee and with his dexterous and wiry arm fenced and parried their blows, Charley Harris who was helping him, being wounded, until Bugler H. E. Jackson of Company C, Cobb Legion, who was coming up from the rear, spurred his horse to the fray and to DeLoney's aid, fencing with these darring assailants, at last by a dexterous movement successfully thrust one man through the side, the others escaping with saber wounds from DeLoney's shimmering blade as he rose to his feet. Jackson's bugle, coat and shirt were cut through with saber blows and his sword, which I brought home for him from the surrender at Greensboro, N. C., has four or five distinct gashes along its edge made there by these valiant foes in that desperate rencounter. Jackson, now living near Bogart, Ga., still has this treasured blade and exhibited it to us at the Cobb Legion re-union held at Hoke Smith's at the time of our general re-union here. DeLoney that night sent for Jackson and publicly thanked him for his timely and courageous defense, complimenting him highly, which he will prize to the day of his death.

        A few days after this, DeLoney, who was badly disabled and cut about the head was in an ambulance near Williamsport with our wagon train, when an attack of the enemy came well nigh being successful and causing a general stampede, as some of Imboden's cavalry guarding the train from the direction of Hagerstown had given away and were run over by the enemy. Ordering his horse, along with the train, DeLoney mounted with head all bandaged up and quickly organized a small force of dismounted, sick and disabled men along with the train and with such arms and ammunition as could be snatched up led them forth to check the progress of the attacking force. With his cammanding


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presence, bull dog courage and superb generalship, he made a most determined resistance and successfully held them at bay until re-enforcements arrived, thus avoiding a train stampede and a great disaster to Lee's retreat. Another incident and close call in DeLoney's career occurred near what is or was known as little Washington among the mountains east of the Blue Ridge in Verginia , the exact time of which I cannot recall. The enemy in some force were advanceing and we were held in position, rather concealed by a hill along the road, flanked on either side by stone fences, the head of column just showing on brow of the hill. DeLoney being in command had just sent forward some dismounted sharpshooters who deployed and advanced some distance to left of the road, feeling the enemy cautiously and slowly falling back to the command. The Colonel, leaving Major Zack Rice with the command, rode down the hill considerably forward in sight of the sharpshooters, observing, if possible, and estimating the advancing enemy, when suddenly a troup of mounted men came cantering up the road, having cut off our mounted videts further down the road, seeing DeLoney, who had just turned to ride back to the command alone, pushed forward in gallant style, thinking, no doubt, to chase and capture him; but suddenly, at the foot of the hill and in plain view of the head of our column, he wheeled his horse and like a lion at bay prepared to meet the onslaught and alone cope with a party of about ten far in advance of the others. Emptying both his pistols and deliberately drawing his saber, he met them as they dashed around and about him. Major Rice had great difficulty in keeping back the column from dashing down the hill, and only allowed some eight or ten to go. These went like lightening to the rescue of our brave and loved DeLoney. Among them, I remember was gallant Jim Clanton. DeLoney was fighting like a mad boar with a whole pack of curs about him, having his bridle hand dreadfully hacked, his head gashed and side thrust, when one athletic fellow, after vainly ordering him to surrender and DeLoney shouting, "I will never surrender!" Seized his saber wrist and grappling for the mastery, shouted, "Surrender! By God! I am the best man!" But our valiant knight held fast the hilt of his trusty blade, shouting defiance in his face as the two leaned forward on their horses till their heads nearly touched, when the rescuers fell upon the squad in merciless vengeance. Stalwart Jim Clanton, spurring his horse, knocked others aside and plunged his saber into the contending athlete. DeLoney quickly drew up his blade and with almost superhuman effort cleaved his antagonist's skull as he fell forward. As I remember, four of our men who went to the rescue were wounded and more than that number of the attacking party bit the dust. It was, perhaps, one of the most desperate single-handed contests against fearful odds and one of the bloodiest little fights that the history of our great struggle for right and liberty will ever record and, so far as I know, this is the only record of it yet made. Still the facts here related can be substantially verified by those who yet remain and witnessed it.


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No further advance was attempted by the enemy that day. Col. DeLoney, next day, while sitting on a log where we camped, with head and hand bandaged, showed me a small metalic flask, which he carried in his inside coat pocket, near the region of the heart and lungs, which showed an entire saber point thrust nearly a quarter of an inch wide clear through the metal, remarking that he had sometimes felt that he would hate for his wife, in case he fell in battle, to know that it was there; but, with a humorous smile said he now thought it a good idea for every man to have one on him at the vulnerable spot when the cold steel struck with such force. I mention this to show the intense desperation of the struggle. Golden-hearted, brave, brainy DeLoney, how his men loved him, and how he stood by them, contending always for their rights and looking after their comforts, when others would treat them indifferently! His heart and his purse were ever open to their needs. While on the Peninsular, the first winter of the war, where Hilton, a rugged mountain boy and a fine soldier died of fever, DeLoney sent to Richmond and procured a metalic coffin and sent his body to his father in Hall county, Ga., at his own expense. He has been justly called the Henry of Navarre of our cavalry, a real hero above the most extravagant descriptive powers of the gifted novelist writing fiction. He deserved a Brigadier General's Commission, but never sought notoriety or promotion. I admired his character so much that I gave up a first Lieutenancy in an infantry company at Americus and begged a private's place in his company. He took me, though the ranks of his company were already full, and I am proud to have been considered worthy to ride and fight with him. He died in prison from a gun shot wound in the leg, received in battle at Jack's Shop on the Robinson river, refusing to allow amputation, even though gangreen had set in. If in this sketch I may seem to give him undue prominence, it is because I know he deserved it and on account of my great admiration of his character and the fact that he was my original Captain, and I saw and knew more of him and of his deeds of daring and devotion than of others. His illustrious career gave the command more fame and reputation than any other field, company officer or man in the regiment. He was a symmetrically built, distinctively handsome man, of commanding mien in any company of commanding characters; his full brown or mahagony beard and high massive forehead, intellectual face and eagle eyes, marked him as a man among men, resembling the finer full bearded engravings I have seen of Stonewall Jackson. The world never produced a better, braver soldier, truer patriot or grander hero than William G. DeLoney. Peace to his ashes and all praise to his fair name and imperishable fame, linked as it is with the hallowed memories of our Southland and its just and glorious cause!

        At Ream's Station we had a hot time under Hampton. Fighting dismounted, we advanced through a wood and drove the enemy's infantry from their works at the further edge and through an open field in corn or sorgum cane, and for a time were subjected to a galling and


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destructive cannonading from our own artillery of shell, grape, shrapnel and canister, stationed near the railroad station, which had been shelling the enemy in their earthworks and were unadvised of our successful advance over the works, driving the enemy across the field. Some confusion and unfortunate altercation occurred between Col. Gib Wright, commanding the brigade, and Lieut. Col. King and other officers. Wright not comprehending the situation we were in out in the open field exposed to the vigorous enfilading fire from our artillery, until we were compelled to fall back to the corner of the woods. Wright, coming then to our part of the line, flushed and excited, indulged in uncomplimentary and uncalled for strictures upon some of us. Brave Lieut. Donahue, with others, resented the insult and there came near being a personal combat, which happily was postponed. I received there a stun and a slight wound across the breast, the ball bursting through a small sapling against which I leaned and skelping my breast. I, however, quickly recovered and went back into the open field and stayed prone between two corn or cane rows until covered with dirt by a richocheting shell, when everybody not disabled had to retire into the woods. The following day Col. Wright made ample and public apology to those of us he had accused wrongfully, admitting his own mistake and improper conduct. He was brave, but rash on occasions when unduly steamed up, as he was then; but he was swift to undo his wrong and make the amende honorable. Daring and fearless old Gib Wright, with scars of the Mexican war and our own upon him, he was a rusher in any sort of a fight, and despite his faults, commanded the confidence and admiration of the men under him; for he hesitated not to lead into the very jaws of death with all the furious ferocity of a madened tiger.

        Our participation in the Ream's Station fight contributed largely to turning the tide and causing the enemy to give up their position and abandon their purpose to turn Lee's left and destroy the railrood. I saw a man near me in the open field have both legs torn off by a piece of shell, and my friend Dan Davis, of Lumpkin county, with the cool courage and utter disregard of danger which the one-quarter Indian blood in his veins nourishes, had his gun stock splintered in his hands while preparing to shoot, and another minie ball at the same instant cut his hat band in two, still holding his shattered gun and with an oath said, "Lieutenant, they broke my gun and nearly knockad my hat off before I could get another crack et 'em, Lend me your gun and I'll kill some more." The famous Virginia orator, great lawyer and statesman, Roger A. Pryor, who resigned from the confederate Congress to take up arms as an independent fighter and scout, appeared on our battle line a-foot and did some sturdy fighting. His imposing figure, finely chiselled face, massive brow and long hair reminded me of our lamented Gen. Tom Cobb, whom he resembled very much. His presence, coolness and courage amid the roar of artillery and the din of battle, were an inspiration to all as he moved and fought with rank and file and gives the lie to the untrue and baseless slander that it was "the rich


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man's war and the poor man's fight," which I have sometimes heard and seen in print. The rich and the poor, the high and low as a rule, all fought side by side, actuated alike by the noblest instincts of self-preservation and the principles of right, with the loftiest courage endeavoring to perpetuate and defend human rights and liberty as embodied in the system of government which our forefathers won by their blood and established by their matchless courage and statesmanship.

        I cannot begin to enumerate and describe the many thrilling and impressive incidents, individually and collective, witnessed and remembered by me, by men and parts of our command throughout the great struggle, within the limits of this paper. I shall content myself with brief allusion to a few more only. Of the conflicts and encounters of the command with Sherman's hosts in South Carolina, I cannot speak personally, as I was left behind sick and disabled in Virginia when Hampton went to help fight Sherman; but I managed soon to make my way to my comrades and had the happiness to join the depleted ranks in North Carholina and was engaged in the surprise and attack on Kilpatrick's camp about fourteen miles from Fayetteville, North Carolina, which proved to be a hot place, and the regiment had another baptism in blood. Lieut. Col. Barrington S. King was in command, Col. Gib. Wright commanding the brigade. At half past two o'clock in the morning, that fearless and peerless soldier, Lieut. Tom Donahoo, with Gen. M. C. Butler, personally captured the videt and with others surprised and took in the whole picket force on the road by which we approached, without the firing of a gun or making any disturbance, and we waited in column until the early dawn, when we fell upon the camp like a small avalanche, riding pell mell over the enemy, asleep many of them, while others were preparing their coffee and breakfast. The Fulton Dragoons were in front. We dashed along the roadway in part and right in front of the house where Kilpatrick was quartered. I remember Jim Jack, one of Atlanta's truest, best men, fell dead and many horses in the charge leaped over his dead body with upturned face. I still vividly remember how he looked, not a horse stepped on him, strange to say. Kilpatrick, it appears, when the first shots were fired and the Rebel Yell burst upon them, not having time to dress fully, ran out in his shirt sleeves and bareheaded, cut the Halter and mounted a horse, intending no doubt to rally his forces and make defense; but the advance of our column were upon him and gave him a lively chase for over half a mile, until by a leap he cleared an intervening fence, a man named Harris from Gwinett County being in the lead cutting at him desperately with saber and barely missed wounding him. Kilpatrick, however, soon made his presence among his disordered troops felt, as they rallied and came back at us dismounted, four ranks deep in solid phalanx, with seven- shooter Spencer rifles. Our men had numerous hand-to-hand contests with those powerfully built Michiganders, who were foemen worthy of our steel. Many, when awakened, turned over


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on their blankets and commenced to fire before they rose from their disturbed slumbers and when hacked by sabers and ordered to surrender, replied with the flash of a pistol or the thrust of a saber hastily snatched. Passing one of our men who was shot through the ear on his horse, the Yankee getting the advantage, I was enabled, by a right parry blow, striking the back of the head, to floor his antagonist, and relieve him. His name was Shed, from Gwinett County. He afterwards thanked me for relieving him, and a little later I saw the poor fellow brought off the skirmish line at Bentonville mortally wounded. We had partially routed the enemy and coralled a large number of prisoners; but Gen. Wheeler's column of cavalry, which was to act in concert from another direction having failed to simultaneously attack from that side with Hampton, on account of all impassable morass bogging the horses, we lost in a measure the full fruits of our success. Kilpatrick, as stated, having rallied his men to some extent, we again assayed to charge them under the inspiration of Hampton and Wheeler, who appeared on an elevation near by, waving us on. The Cobb Legion gallantly charged upon that splendidly equipped battle line of dismounted Westerners, steadily advancing while their artillery, which we ought to have looked after better at the start, was playing upon our support murderously. We got within fifteen to twenty paces from their front line, our men and horses falling fast. Col. King, by whose side I happened to be, my youngest brother being on the other side, was mortally wounded, the artery of his thigh being severed. Blood spouted onto my shoulder as I leaned over to grasp him, and we held him and wheeled about, managing to take him off under a most terrific fire. My brother and Bugler Jackson afterwards buried him, taking note of the place, etc., so that after the war I was enabled to direct his brother to the spot and his remains were removed and re-interred at Roswell, where he had lived. My friend and loved comrade, Dr. Charley Dalvigney, informs me the inscription on his tomb states he was killed at Bentonville, some forty or fifty miles distant from where he so gallantly fell leading the charge, about a month before that last great battle was fought. Epitaphs do not always speak the truth; but King died as gloriously as he could have possibly done on the bloody field of Bentonville, whatever may have been thought or said of him before that day. I testify of that of which I personally know. I wrote his widow at the time all the particulars and sent his jewels, etc., to her. I never met her again.

        Here I go back to Trevillian, where we met, and after two days hard fighting under Hampton, thwarted Sheridan and drove him back away below Richmond On the morning of the first day I was suffering with a severe throat trouble and under advice of Dr. H. S. Bradley, our surgeon, I remained with the led horses, the command fighting dismounted and driving back the enemy in front; but a body of Sheridan's force somehow came in our rear and a stampede occurred with the led horses. Mounted on a horse of one of our dead comrades, I did what I could to stay the rush; but the Seventh Georgia being driven


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back on us, a general fall-back and reforming of the lines was necessary and in the melee I was chased for a mile by fifty or more Yankees. I jumped my horse over a pile of shells spilled in the road by a disabled caison. Finally, my horse, descending a slant, stumbled and fell. I caught on my hands, tearing the hide from my hand and exposing the leaders. As I ran, a Yankee overtook me, shooting and shouting "Surrender," but I did not. I scrambled over the fence and heard a ball hit the rail behind me. I made time across the field while the whole pack practiced on me as a target. Strange to say, I was not hit and soon gained the cover of a wood, worn down and panting. Pushing ahead, I stumbled on an old citizen in hiding with his favorite mare and soon ran onto a Jeff Davis Legion man who was having an experience similar to mine. I did not see him till he confronted me with a pistol ready to fire, as he mistook me for an enemy. We were soon reconciled and agreed to stick together in our perils. Fearing, from sounds of fighting, etc., that the enemy would be upon us, we slipped down the head of a branch in a swamp and hid in thick alder bushes at the head of an old pond, which was shortly after skirted by Yankees, as we could tell, peeping through the thick foliage and listening to their curses and imprecations on rebels. While they remained in the vicinity it seemed an age, as we preserved profound silence and my throat grew worse so that I could not suppress a cough and Hopkins, my fellow sufferer and companion in suspense and trouble, would force his canteen into my mouth as each spasm of coughing came on, until the enemy had gone away. We feared to come out, as we might run into a squad of the foe instead of our own men. So after prolonged conference and debate in low tones, we planned how we might succeed in getting back within our own lines, even if we had to wait till night and either elude the vigilance of the enemy's pickets or, if, need be, surprise and silence one, while we together mounted his steed and rode to safety and liberty in Dixie, rather than endure a Yankee prison. As a precautionary measure, I buried in the mud a pack of very precious and splendidly written love letters from my Virginia sweetheart I had treasured, and some from my sisters too, in case I could not escape the clutches of the enemy. It cost a pang to part with them, but they were too sacred to be exposed to the vulgar gaze of the ruthless foe and hawked about with gibes and merciless ribaldry. Then, concealing as best I could some Confederate money and my watch in my clothing, I persuaded my comrade to attempt a reconoiter, and we stealthily crept down stream until in view of a mound. I crawled up on it and listening to the din of battle and watching the clouds of dust, I thought I comprehended the situation and we could rejoin our command. With some difficulty, by signalling him up from the brush, I persuaded Hopkins to join me and when he had surveyed the scene, he at length agreed to my suggestion of how to approach and ascertain the situation. So down the stream we hastened until I could discern enough to strengthen my notion that we were near our provost guard, who were coralling a lot of Yankee prisoners.


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So we leaped the fence and running a mile I found I was right and to our joy we were again with our own men. Lieut. Moke Simmons, whose widow still lives in Atlanta, was in command of the guard and a hundred and fifty or two hundred prisoners. He was a good fellow and learning briefly of my experience and the loss of my horse, he promptly proposed to mount me. So calling a Yankee Lieut. Colonel who was still mounted on his horse, he introduced me. I told him that I regretted the circumstances of war which made it necessary for me to deprive him of his mount. He was a gentleman and with a salute dismounted, pleasantly remarking that such were the fortunes of war and further that his horse was government property and not his, he courteously handed me the reins. By tearing strips from my shirt tail with the aid of those about me, I got my scalped wrist, which I had bandaged before with my handkerchief, into a sling so as to make it more comfortable and mounted my new Yankee horse with Simmons' aid. In spite of his entreaties to remain with him, as I was unfit to go to the front, on the fighting line, I rode rapidly towards the front, hoping in some way to find my lost horse and English tree-saddle and saddle bags, containing a new suit of jeans lately received from home. As I approached nearer where the fighting was going on, I suddenly came upon Gen. Hampton debouching from a by-way into the main road, who stopped me and inquired concerning my morning experience, etc. He told me to stay with him, as he had just sent away all his couriers and it would be some time before members of his staff could find him after carrying orders to different parts of the line. He proceeded towards the front to a point he had expected to meet certain of his staff, and as they and the couriers came, most of them were quickly sent again with other messages, and I held his horse while he read brief notes and wrote others to be dispatched. The day was wearing away and Hampton had largely regained the ground occupied in the morning. Wounded men and some prisoners were being taken to the rear. At length, when he had sent all his aids away, he asked me if I could deliver a verbal message to Gen. Rosser and, giving me directions as to the location of Rosser's brigade, I put my Yankee steed on his metal and after a time came upon the brigade hotly engaged dismounted. It was powerful uncomfortable where I found Rosser, but I was bound to go to him unless bullets stopped me. When I delivered my message, that gallant commander and superb fighter said, "Give the general my compliments and tell him we are giving 'em hell." I need not say I rode swiftly away, for it was hot and uncomfortable and I hastened to rejoin our chief who had then been rejoined by staff officers and moved in another direction and nearer a portion of the line. When I saluted and delivered Rosser's message, Hampton snapped his eyes, smiled and said to the staff, "General Rosser is a magnificent fighter and has done much to turn the tide in our favor to-day."

        When night fell upon the battle field, the firing gradually ceased and both sides spent most of the night in constructing such temporary


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defences as lay in their power, using rails, logs, brush and what earth could be scooped up with out spade or shovel. The morning found us still confronting each other and ready to renew hostilities. There was more or less sharpshooting and reconnoitering in the morning. I had gotten with my command. That golden hearted, lovable gentleman, gallant Frank Jones of Thomas County, who was then adjutant, took me, as I had a good mount, with him on an uncomfortable reconnoitering ride and we came near being shot by Yankee sharpshooters. Poor dear comrade! He received his death wound later that same day when (after eating the last sorry meal with some of us he laughingly said, "Eat, drink and be merry, for to-morrow you may die.") As he stormed the works, leading the men, a piece of shell tore away his side, exposing the lungs and heart. Still he lived nearly two days in that condition. I held his hand when he died, after that last faint smile which I shall never forget. The nobility of his soul shined out as a glittering gem among the purest, gentlest, knightliest gentlemen whose wealth and blood were spent and poured out, a willing libation on the altar of Southern liberty.

        Fitz Lee's command having been delayed by a misleading guide the day before, having fortunately intercepted a portion of Sheridan's force in charge of our captured men and horses (among which was the horse I rode that morning), now swung into position and in the afternoon the battle was on in earnest all along the line. Our men, leaping over their own rude braest-works, charged grandly forward, taking the enemy's works (after stubborn fighting, for Sheridan and his men were good fighters as well as runners) and driving him back and then procuring their horses, Hampton's forces pressed Sheridan far below Richmond, where a few days later the affairs of Nances and Haws Shops occurred.

        The Trevillian battle field, as Gen. Jubal Early said of it in passing that way a few days afterwards, resembled a hard fought infantry battle. Our losses in Cobb Legion were heavy, but it was a glorious victory snatched from what at one time seemed almost defeat. Being disabled I was about the field hospital for two or three days helping care for the wounded, near Mr. West's place in the Green Spring neighborhood and while I saw much of war and human suffering there, I also witnessed the devotion and heroism of those angles of mercy and loving kindness, the lovely women - mothers and daughters of that far famed Green Spring neighborhood - to our boys and our holy cause. Their sacrifice of themselves, their time and all they possessed was complete, lavishly and charmingly bestowed, while they wept because they had no more to give and could not do more to alleviate pain and suffering.

        It is glory enough to have suffered all that fell to our lot and fought in defence of the noble women of the South. No Monument of chiselled stone or polished marble, however costly, can ever be erected which will adequately commemorate their fame and matchless devotion, but their memory is forever enshrined in the hearts of those who wore the gray.


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        Our command participated in the last great battle at Bentonville and done its share helping to beat back the resistless rush of Sherman's host till the last day we fought and fell sullenly back to Raleigh, being constantly under fire and the baptism of blood. On that day, the command being away from the brigade defending a crossing of a stream until well up in the day, it fell to my lot as the ranking officer to command a few who had been detatched the previous day to protect a position deemed important, and under orders of our Adjutant J. T. Norris we attached ourselves to the Jeff Davis Legion temporarily. While awaiting an expected onslaught, gallant Lieut. Tom Donehoo broke away in spite of my protestations and joined in a charge of the Phillips Legion a little to our right and front, but returned in time to participate in one of the hottest encounters in the range of my experience, the enemy in great numbers rushing like a resistless torrent over Col. Waring and his brave Jeff Davis Legion, whose flank Adjutant Norris endeavored to protect with my little band mounted, in the edge of the woods near the road. Bullets rained like hail, but not a man wavered, till Norris, seeing the futility of attempting longer to stay, ordered a retreat. Lieut. Jeffries of the Jeff Davis Legion, who was with us, Lieut. Donahoo, Adjutant Norris and the writer were the last to leave. As we descended into the road it was like plunging into the jaws of death under the concentrated fire of the enemy, now rushing along close to us. Jeffries and Donahoo kept straight in the road while Norris and I dashed across and clung to the bushes outside for several hundred yards, when we came into the road. Both Jeffries and Donahoo were shot, but were carried quite a distance before falling off their horses. I came across Donahoo, halted and leaping down raised his head on my lap, his horse and mine still standing there, and he gasped his last breath, the blood flowing from his bosom had bespattered the picture of his little motherless daughter which he carried there.

        Our men had rallied up the road some distance, and having that morning pledged my friend to stick to him, I called to a belated soldier just coming out from the range of the enemy's fire to assist me. It was Sergeant Umphries, of Phillips Legion, whom I knew, with his assistance I got the body across his saddle and mounted my horse, leading Donahoo's, while Umphries held the body on. As we started out we were subjected to the fire of the advancing foe, but we succeeded and got the body in an ambulance with that of Jeffries, who was also killed. I remember also seeing there Jep Langston, of Fulton Dragoons, who was badly wounded put into an ambulance. He still lives here, an honored citizen and worthy soldier, but crippled for life. The bodies of Donahoo and Jeffries were taken to Raleigh, and late that evening they were buried in the same grave, wrapped in blankets furnished by a lady; as no coffin could be had. I gladly pay just tribute to the memory of my warm friend, the brave and fearless Lieutenant Tom Donahoo, of Company H. We had been much together and I saw much of him in camp and in numerous encounters with the enemy, and


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I loved him as a brother. On one occarion while retreating over ugly ground afoot when I was exhausted he took me on his stout shoulders and literally bore me to a place of safety. I was but a small sized boy then compared to my present self. I shall ever cherish his memory and am pleased to have been of service to his child since the war in securing a teacher's place for her.

        My last days's fighting experience did not end with Donahoo's death and the rescue of his body. We fought and fell back from place to place till late in the evening, while reforming a new line and getting my company into a more advantagous position to receive the next onslaught a black jack bud got into my only good eye from a limb which struck my face as I dashed into a clump of black jacks to order the company up to a better elevation. This accident done me up for the time, as it seemed to be stuck there and could not be removed. Blind as a bat, with water streaming down my face, I called Billy Orr, who had one eye shot out below Richmond the year before, to lead my horse and we started to the rear, as some one remarked, "the blind leading the blind." Meeting Col. Gib Wright, then commanding the brigade, he stopped to inquire as to my trouble, and he said the enemy were planting a battery on the hill and would soon be raking the road with shell, and it was more than a mile straight ahead before we could reach the turn and cover of woods, and directed Billy Orr to hurry up and get me out of the lane. Shortly after as we jogged along, on came a screaming shell which bursted near by and another and another quickly followed. I cannot picture the demoralizing effect of the situation, stone blind and suffering while I was retreating, subjected to this horrible cannonading from the rear. It remains to-day amid all my experiences a living, vivid memory beyond my descriptive powers. It was my last experience under fire and was received with all the force of dread which my introduction to shell and shot produced at Cold Harbor.

        Reaching Raleigh some few miles away, I managed finally, after a doctor had failed, to get "the beam" out of my own eye, with blood and tears. However, before day next morning I was in the saddle and at my place with the company and we marched away until we reached Old Hillsboro, where we rested while Johnston and Sherman parlied over terms of surrender and pacification.

        I cannot resist the temptation to relate an incident of that last day illustrative of the situation and the recklessness of young Foster Daniel, who came to my company before he was sixteen years odd, a mere runt of a lad weighing less than a hundred pounds, who appeared to have leaped from the cradle into the saddle, and springing from game Revolutionary stock, did valiant service as a fearless, cool and daring soldier on numerous occasions in my presence. This boy, with others, during that dreadful last day, when about to be overwhelmed, was galloping to the rear and an officer, endeavoring to stop the retreating men, halted Daniel with his pistol, threatening to shoot if he did not stop. Pausing for a moment, Daniel said, "Oh, shoot and be damned! There's


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a thousand men shooting at me back there," and on he went, regardless of consequences. I did not witness it, but the facts have been verified to me, so I am sure it happened. The boy soldier has been dead some years and I gladly paid tribute to his memory, which was published, and the story of his deeds of daring are highly treasured by his kindred, friends and comrades.

WILEY C. HOWARD,
Formerly Lieutenant Commanding Co. C, Cobb Legion Cavalry.

             ATLANTA, GA., AUGUST 19th, 1901.