Pouring Peas on a Rawhide: A Texan Remembers Chickamauga
As orderly sergeant of Co. K of the 25th Texas Cavalry (Dismounted), North Carolina native Benjamin Franklin Grady participated in some tall fighting at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863. As he relates in this letter to his uncle, the pounding his regiment took from Union artillery was frightening. "Balls of all sizes, grape, canister, and 6 lb, 12 lb, and 18 lb balls whizzed among us in copious profusion and fearful proximity," he noted. "One man in our company was struck down by a grape and another had his shoulder torn off. A 12 lb ball went through Company B next to us and took off one's man's head and tore two others into ragged pieces! Many in the regiment were killed or wounded."
The 25th Texas was part of a consolidated regiment consisting of itself along with the 17th, 18th, and 24th Texas cavalry regiments, and was assigned to General James Deshler's brigade, Cleburne's Division, of General Daniel H. Hill's corps. Grady's account of Chickamauga was published in the October 29, 1863 edition of the Wilmington Journal back in North Carolina. The editors noted that Grady was a "highly intelligent gentleman, a native of Duplin County."
|The image from Skinner Auction House depicts just a small sampling of the various types of ordnance used during the Civil War.|
October 11, 1863
of writing materials added to the necessary interruptions of camp life has
prevented me from informing you before now that Yankee bullets and shells did
not put a period to my life in the late battles on
On Sunday morning the 20th we built a log breastwork expecting to be attacked, but no such good fortune. The enemy did the same, and about 9 o’clock we moved to attack him. We had to march and countermarch across a field in easy range and view of two Yankee batteries. Of course they gave us a small share of their attention. Shells burst over us, under us, and in our midst. Balls of all sizes, grape, canister, and 6 lb, 12 lb, and 18 lb balls whizzed among us in copious profusion and fearful proximity. One man in our company was struck down by a grape and another had his shoulder torn off. A 12 lb ball went through Company B (next to us), took off one man’s head and tore two others into ragged pieces! Many in the regiment were killed or wounded.
|General Patrick R. Cleburne|
The Stonewall of the West
During this state of things, General Wood’s brigade was seen double quicking from the forest directly to our right, and we learned that General Polk’s brigade had been driven from this same place. General Cleburne (“Old Pat”) had ordered General Deshler to move up there and hold that ground. This was done. We were to keep the enemy at bay there, while other troops turned his flanks. We did it. This was 10 o’clock a.m.. The noise from that time until 3 p.m. exceeded in rapidity and loudness anything I had ever imagined. About 3 o’clock, we heard cheering on our right a half mile distant and soon learned that Crittenden’s right had given way. The firing then abated.
A half hour after our right fell back, their ammunition being exhausted. Our brigade then expected to be flanked and one company was thrown out on to the exposed flank to watch the enemy. A half hour’s skirmish occurred at the end of which General Cleburne led another brigade to the abandoned ground and before you could say ‘Jack Robinson’ the ball opened again hot and heavy. The Yankee battery there, which with one on our left, had kept up a raking crossfire on our brigade, opened up on the newcomer with shell, grape, and canister. In five minutes, General Cleburne ordered two batteries of his division up to the ridge on which we were posted 50 yards to the right. They went to work in earnest and three or four solid shots knocked Old Abe’s battery into next week. I then heard the gunners cry ‘hurrah’ and great it was. I was amazed by the rapidity with which they fired. 'Twas deafening.
|Unidentified image of a well armed young Confederate soldier|
10 minutes, a shout, a perfect tiger, was raised on the right and soon extended
along all of our lines. The old woods joined us in the exultation. The Yankees
were running like frightened wolves. They never stopped until they reached
we spent a day burying the dead who were lying all over the woods. Then we
moved forward and formed a line of battle around
|General Braxton Bragg|
President Davis rode down our lines on Saturday in company with Bragg. Our works were covered with Rebs, cheering him. Our soldiers are in excellent health and spirits. Some of the prisoners we took said to us: “Boys, you ought to have let us whip you here. It would have ended the war and we would all have gone home this winter.” Wasn’t that cool? Miserable, low bred, inhuman, rascally, thieving scums of Christendom. Our subjugation the only termination of the war! I would a thousand times prefer a French protectorate. God forbid that I or you or anybody should be forced to submit to even a decent government, much less a barbarous, fickle, and brainless despotism! But I have no apprehension. We shall gain our independence, if we deserve it. If we are cowards and poltroons and speculators, we ought not be free. God will do right about it.
Avery is on Hill’s staff and Thad Coleman is his chief of engineers. There are
no other acquaintances here. Write me all the news and send me the Daily
Journal. I never see a
Letter from First Sergeant Benjamin Franklin Grady, Co. K, 25th Texas Cavalry (Dismounted), Wilmington Journal (North Carolina), October 29, 1863, pg. 2
Thank you for posting Sgt. Grady's correspondence home to North Carolina. That's a great descriptive letter. I am somewhat of a student of Texas regiments in the Army of Tennessee and pleased to read that one which was previously unknown to me.ReplyDelete