Thursday, November 26, 2009

Battle of Cat Creek, November 26, 1863

During the retreat from Missionary Ridge there were several rear guard actions that have been forgotten to all but the most serious of students, one of those was the engagement at Camp Creek, very little was ever recorded about it, being overshadowed by the fight at Ringgold Gap on November 27th. However, Sam Watkins did leave his version of events, which I will leave with you here:

About dark a small body of cavalry dashed in ahead of us and captured and carried off one piece of artillery and Colonel John F. House, General Maney's assistant adjutant-general. We will have to form line of battle and drive them back. Well, we quickly form line of battle, and the Yankees are seen to emerge from the woods about two hundred yards from iis. We piomptly shell off those sides of bacon and sacks of hard-tack that we had worried and tugged with all day long. Bang, bang, siz, siz. We are ordered to load and fire promptly and to hold our position. Yonder they come, a whole division. Our regiment is the only regiment in the action. They are crowding us; our poor little handful of men are being killed and wounded by scores. There is General George Maney badly wounded and being carried to the rear, and there is Moon, of Fulcher's battalion, killed dead in his tracks. We can't much longer hold our position. A minnie ball passes through my Bible in my side pocket. All at once we are ordered to open ranks. Here comes one piece of artillery from a Mississippi battery, bouncing ten feet high, over brush and logs and bending down little trees and saplings, under whip and spur, the horses are champing the bits, and are muddied from head to foot. Now, quick, quick; look, the Yankees have discovered the battery, and are preparing to charge it. The limber, horses and caisson to the rear. No. 1 shrapnel, load, fire—boom, boom; load, ablouyat—boom, boom. I saw Sam Seay fall badly wounded and carried to the rear. I stopped firing to look at Sergeant Doyle how he handled his gun. At every discharge it would bounce, and turn its muzzle completely to the rear, when those old artillery soldiers would return it to its place—and it seemed they fired a shot almost every ten seconds. Fire, men. Our muskets roll and rattle, making music like the kettle and bass drum combined. They are checked; we see them fall back to the woods, and night throws her mantle over the scene. We fell back now, and had to strip and wade Chickamauga river. It was up to our armpits, and was as cold as charity. We had to carry our clothes across on the points of our bayonets. Fires had been kindled every few yards on the other side, and we soon got warmed up again.

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