Newspaper Page Text
J Ti roi< Defense ol' I^o
Kditor Atlanta Journal: I'nder the
head of close calls I will attempt a de
scription of the heroic defense and
fall of Fort Gregg on the 2nd of April,
Tort Gregg was a small hut strong
earthwork, about one and a half miles
south of Petersburg, Ya. The
front wall was 20 feet thick and was
made by digging a big ditch in front
and throwing up the dirt on thc in
lt was io the shape of a half circle j
and from the bottom of the ditch to j
the top of thc wall was at least 12 feet
high; protected in the rear by large !
pine logs, planted in a ditch cut be
tween the wings of the half circle, !
provided with loopholes for use of
muskets, lt was valso provided with
two bomb proofs on the inside for
storing ammunition and for protecting
the garrison from mortar shells, when
not in action.
Such is a brief description of this
fort. Captain Chew, of the Fourth
Maryland artillery, was placed in com
mand, with about 30 men and two Na
poleon guns from his own battery; the
balanoe of thc garrison, consisting of
about 100 artillery drivers from bat
teries around Petersburg, who had vol
unteered under a call from Gen. Lee to
garrison Fori, Gregg during the winter
It was now about thc 1st of Decem
ber, when thc one hundred artillery
drivers were ordered to report to Cap
taiu Chew at Fort Gregg. We were at
once organized into a company, sup
plied wich muskets and drilled every
day. Nothing worthy of note happen
ed until about tho 1st of the next
April, when tho Maryland detachment
of thirty men and guns were ordered
out on thc lines below us and to our
right. In exchange for men aod guns
we only got two little three-inch rifles,
and those we had to handle ourselves;
but we were at homo in tho use of ar
Great activity was noticed in the
movement of troops all along tho Hoes
and to an old soldier this was signifi
cant. So, next day, Sunday, tho 2nd
of April, dawned bright and olear, and
with the first light the Federal col
umns charged our entire lines. To
our right, Gen. A. P. Hill's troops
were in position; his left was very
weak, and the Federals breaking
through these turned down to the
right and swept our lines for miles,
oapturing many of our toops and rout
ing the balance by their overwhelming
numbers. Many of our troops passed
Fort Gregg panie stricken. In vain t
we beggod them to stop with
us. Failing in this, we gathered
several hundred guns that they had
thrown away and oarried them in our
They served a good purpose a little
Just about this time our company
was ordered out under arms, to our
right to watoh the enemy.
We went down about ono and a half
miles, when we found a company of
Yankees in a large farm house. We
were ordered to charge these, which
we did in veteran stylo. It was our
first infantry fight. I recollect that
my friend and oomrade, John Combs, of
Wilkes County, in thiB oharge had his
gun snot to pieces. Holding the
breeoh in ono hand and barrel in an
other, ho exclaimed: "Now, by Ned,
ain't I in a fix to fighi Yankees!"
But ho nover stopped charging. We
never fired a shot, however, our helter
skelter chargo dismayed thc enemy and
he fled for safety and we captured the
From this place over on a big ball
hill wc could plainly see Gibbon's di
vision massing for an advance on Pe
tersburg. It seemed to us to bo a
mighty host. Soon this victorious
host, with three lines of battle, with
faces eet toward Petersburg, took up
their line of march. Wo fired a few
shots as they advanced, but we re
treated towards Fort Gregg, and
soon met the old Twelfth Mississippi
regiment of Harris' brigade. It was
not larger than a company, but it
maintained its regimental organization.
We knew thom by reputation, and you
cannot imagine how glad we were to
see them? for they were the only Con
federates we had seen for hours.
Upon their tattered flag was printed
every important engagement of the
Army of Northern Virginia. This
regiment, numbering only about 75
men, gave a sharp engagement to the
advancing foo, and then retreated with
tis to Fort Gregg.
A few of our own company nover
came into Fort Gregg, so now we only
rad about 165 men, all told, to v?th
staud the assaults of 6,000 TJ^VIO'UB
Yankees, and wo only had ?few* iain
utes to wait, for over the hilltops just
south of us oould bc seen the enemy in
long lines of blue advancing with
rt Grrogg by ;i Handful
measured tread upon Fort Gregg.
Just at this time General A. P.
HUI, on horseback, dashed into our
fort, and in a short conference with
Captain Chew explained thc perilous
condition of our army and told Captain
Chew to hold thc lort as long as possi
The enemy was now upon us and thc
fight had begun, wheu General Hill left
thc fort and sped away towards Peters
Gibbon'* columns approached in fine
order, and by its numbers alone, seem
ed about to envelope thc works. Tt
i was a grand sight! As we gapped
their ranks with shot and shell they
would close up and move grandly on
until they had almost half encircled
our fort and not more than 50 paces
distant, when they stopped and opened
fire upon us with their repcatiug Spen
From their circular position thc fire
converged upon us and their bullets
hissed and shrieked and whistled un
j til thc brave Mississippians, vet
erans of a hundred battles, said tbey
I had never witnessed anything to com
paro with it
But wc had not been idle. As soon
as their terrible fire slackened, with
three charges of canister in our 3-inch
rifles and all thc guns we had picked
up loaded and stood up on the inside
of the fort, we opened with a well-di
rected volley and sent them reeling
back down the hill over the ground
they had passed over in such grand
style such a short time previous.
Their position around Fort Gre?g
was well marked by thc linc of their
It would bo impossible to desoribe
the scene in Fort Gregg at this time.
Our enthusiastic spirits found vent in
such rebel yelling as was never heard
before, for the boy "David" had smit
ten tho mighty Goliath.
Let me quote briefly from McCabe's
"Life and Campaign of Robert E.
Lee," page 606:
''The whole affair oould be distinct
ly aeon by both armies, and the re
pulse of the Federals was greeted by
loud oheers from the Confederates in
the inner line. Still no aid oould be
sent to the brave garrison. Both ar
mies ceased firing at other pointa and
every eye was fixed OD the fight at
Rallying his forces Gibbon made an
other desperate effort to carry the fort.
But the history of the first repulso is
also the history of the second. In the
meantime we were wild with excite
ment io the fort. Following the lead
of the Twelfth Mississippi regiment
we all yelled and oheered like madmen
and fought like demons.
Look I A third charge is now onl
But Gibbon has changed his taotics.
This time his columns double quick,
and in addition to their muskets, they
have strapped upon their backs small
picks and shovels. They do not stop,
as before, but pitch headlong into the
big ditch in front of the fort, notwith
standing the water from the winter's
rain is vwo to three feet deep in the
bottom. There is such a splashing as
they jump into the ditch, getting out
of ranee of our fire.
It was at this moment that Captain
Chev expressed a wish for hand gren
ades, and viotory would be ours. But
we had none.
Soon their plans developed. They
were digging steps iu front of the fort
to scale the top. This, of course, re
quired some time. We oould easily
hear tho officers giving orders. .
While thc steps were being prepared
we were hotly engaged with Gibbon's
sharpshooters, closed .almost around
Thcu wo heard the call to arms over
in tho ditch; th3 steps were ready; all
our guns were loaded and ready.
"Forward, march!'' the cry rang out
from the ditch. The fire from tho
sharpshooters ceased. Upon the tip
toe of expectancy, with guns in hand
and pointed across our breastworks,
every living member of our little gar
rison (many had been killed) was
watching for the heads of tho enemy to
First, we saw the flags, next the
bayonets bobbed in sight and then the
heads of the Federals rising up out of
tho ditch. Wo poured volley after
volley into them. Some esoaped our
murderous fire, many were killed upon
the breastworks; some few were shot
and fell inside the fort. So the first
effort tu scale our fort met with a signal
I will relate cse little inoident which
will show the desperation of the ene
my. In this effort to seale our work
ono flag bearer succeeded upon getting
upon the top of the fort before he was
killed. He managed somehow to stick
his flag staff upon our fort, then fell
dead. This flag was too far out for us
to reach, so we shot the flag staff in
two, und it fell upon tb< to]> of oui
works, Immediately a l'< doral soldiei
sj.rung upon tl.<; works* tu set it uj
again, but we killed him. I have fur
gotten how many we killel in thc vain
effort to reset that Hag on <;ut fort be
foro another desperute ello rt was niadt:
to scale our fort. This, of course, put
an end to thc Hag contest.
Wc could hear the officers' orders
over in the ditch: "Forward, charge!".
This put us on thc alert and we watch
ed for the tops of the heads, all our
guns being loaded and in position.
Also at this critical time their sharp
shooters wo,uld stop shooting, lest they
kill their owu men. This gave us thc
advantage, for we could kill their tirst
linc before they could bring their guns
to bear on us, and the fa'ling dead
would interfere with the progress of
others up the steps. This would give
us ampio time to pick up another gun
and bc rca ly for the next heads. But
vre i*rttt\A ?o? them all: sci"C would
come across our works to be killed on
top or perchance to fall inside oui
fort. After a hard almost hand to
hand struggle we repulsed the second
desperate attempt to scale our fort and
forced those we did not kill hack into
But iu thc meantime our own lose
waa heavy. Wc now had hardly ?ifty
Almost immediately a third rushing
effort to scale was made. In vain was
our effort to force them back. They
rushed until they covered the top of
our works at the south end. Our boys
fell back a little bit and continued
the fight from behind thegun parapet,
but alas! wc could do uo more. We
threw up our hands and guns and sur
rendered. It was, indeed, very sad to
see so many of our comrades' lifeless
forms, lying prostrate upon the cold
ground, bloody and blackened, often
beyond recognition. But suoh is
An incident or two atteadiog the
last assault will show somewhat the
desperate nature of this fight. The
first is that of a Federal officer who
oacaped our first volley and charged
over our breastworks, with sword ex
tended toward us, his cap pulled over
his eyes and calling to his men to fol
low him. He had nearly crossed the
top of our works wheo Joseph Cofer,
of Wilkes County, one of my compa
ny, shot him full in the breast and
he fell headlong inside the fort in
a lifeless heap. We dodged him as he
And sg&io, the Federals crowded
over the top of our fort until they
seemed to be literally packed like
sardines; they crowded over the en
tire width of the wall-20 feet-right
up to the muzzle of our three-inoh
guns (just loaded with a treble oharge
of canister and ready to fire) and be
fore they saw their danger.
They oalled loudly, "Don't fire that
gan!" hut io obedience to an order
from the . corporal to fire, a young
stripling of a boy. not over 16 years
old, from Sumter County, named
Giles, pulled the lanyard, and great
was the havoc of that shot, lt open
ed a gap, the whole width of the wall
of the fort, and must have killed at
least two dose? Federals at one' fire.
This was one of the last shots fired in
defense of Fort Gregg. The corporal
was shot through and through a dozen
times, and Giles was bayoneted
through the fleshy part of the arm and
slightly in the side.
It would make this article too long
to reeouut many personal aots of he
roism, besides I could not give names
as we were strangers to ODO another.
Suffice it to say I do not believe there
was a single man in our little garrison
who failed to do bia whole duty io this
The chagrin and deep mortification
of the Federals when they gathered up
It is a singular thing that in the
popular view of dil lase the interde
Kndence of the several organs of the
dy is lost sight of. The heart, for
example, is diseased and it is treated as
if it were entirely separated from, and
independent of, every other oigan.
The fallacy of this opinion is shown
by the cures of heart "trouble," liver
"trouble," kidney "trouble" and other
so-called "troubles," effected by the* use
of Dr. Pierce's Golden Medical Discov
ery. Primarily the "Discovery" is a
medicine for the cure of diseases of the
stomach and Wood. But it cor** dis
eases of organs seemingly remote from
the stomach, because these diseases have
their origin in a diseased condition of
the stomach and its associated organs
of digestion and nutrition.
"I doctored ' -wi t.K. three .-li nt rc nt doctor* for
weak heart, but they did me no good." mite?
Mr?. Julia A. Wilcox, of Cyjrnet. Wood Co.. Ohio
Box 53. ?I was so tired and discouraged if I had
had ray choice to live or dte I would have pre
ferred to die. My husband heard of ' Golden
Medical Discovery ' and he bought a bottle. T
took that and the first half seemed to help me.
I took, six bottles before I stopped. I a? per
fectly well, and am cooking for six boarders.
It has been a God-send to tat"
. Dr. Pierce's Pleasant Pellets cure con*
^ -rr. ru J i x
. ! then prisoners an?! found only about J
? 30 in all, was amusing
? 1 They demanded io know where all
. , the men were. They even sent guards
i J >wn in the two bomb proofs to bring
them out, but not uno did they lind
1 no niau shirked his post in this light.
Out of a total number of about IGJ,
only 30 were left of the little garri
son, in a three-hour defense of Fort
Gregg. And for this ?time we had re
sisted thc assaults of 0,000 brave Fed
erals. There was never any oilicial
report of the light at Fort Gregg, be
cause there was no oue left to make
one, and consequently one of the most
hotly contested battles of the war has
not become historic. Mr. Virgil
i Roberts, a resident of Atlanta now,
who was badly wounded twice in this
fight, and could not march away after
the fight, heard Gen. Gibbon say his
loss in taking the fort was at least
Proudly the tattered flag of the
Twelfth Mississippi waved over Fort
Gregg until wc surrendered and when,
to keep his flag from falling into thc
bauds of the coeniy, thc flag-bearei
1 torc it from the staff and crammed it
in his bosom. This he told me ic
prison at l'oint Lookout, when bi
1 showed me his highly-treasured anc
historic old banner, and if he survivec
prison life he carried it home witt
. The Federals made many threats ant
demands for this flag. Their govern
ment (so we understood) offered $301
1 and a GO days' furlough for every flat,
captured, so each flag was a valuabl*
prize. One Yankee soldier, I remem
ber, turned upon me, and pressing bi
bayonet sharply against my breast
! threatened to kill me if I. did not tel
him where the flag was. While h
seemed in earnest, the threat did no
frighten me just at this time, for
was so mortified I would about as soo
have been dead as alive; besides
knew nothing of the flag at all. Bu
just at this time another Federal so!
dier (an Irishman) threatened to bor
a hole through the first uamed Yanke
if he did not take his gun down, curt
jng him and telling him he did nc
know how to treat a prisoner when h
took one. So this brave and nobl
Irish soldier may have saved my lift
even after the surrender.
This same noble Irishman carried
squad of prisoners, myself included, t
the rear and not^knowiug where the -
pate to the fort was he led u> straight !
over the front wall aud down the steps
they had prepared for sealing, and out
of the big ditch, back to the rear over
thc very grouud they had just charged.
This gave ino u look at the battlefield
and this is my report.
The ditch was two or three feet deCp
in wat'?r before the fight, and of course
thc dirt, cut away to make steps filled
up sooo, but I actually walked across
that ditch dry shod upon the dead
bodies of the enemy, and where the
two charging lines had stopped to de
liver their fire, the dead lay in heaps.
Over the balance of the field for 300 j
yards back,their dead dotted the ground
everywhere. I think 1,000 is a very
modest estimate of ?heir less in that
Brave John Combs was shot through
the head and killed instantly. Oliver
Smith, as brave as the bravest, was
mortally wounded through the right
breast, and died in a. short time.
Captain Chew cautioned these two and
many others about recklessly exposing
themselves. I wish I could give the
name--- of many who performed deeds
of daring, but our little garrison were
nearly all strangers to one another and
I write this sketch by special re
quest of some of my old company who
, witnessed this fight from the inner
[ lines around Petersburg.
I A. E. STROTHER,
[ Ivin Art., Col. Cutts' Ga. Bat. Art.
j - The postal authorities have ex
? posed a matrimonial swindling scheme
j at Rochester, N. Y. The scheme was
I to answer the advertisements of par
ties desiring to marry, send photo
graph of handsome woman, and after
the courtship had been carried to the
marriage point, ask for money with
which to pay railroad fare to destina
tion, and after getting the money drop
the matter. _
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When you have a bad taste iu the
When your liver is torpid.
When your bowels are constipated.
When you have a headache.
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They will improve your appetite,
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For sale bv Orr-Grav Drn<r Cn
No Farmer should feel that he is prop
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OLIVER CHILLED STEEL BEIM PLOW,
-SOLD BY -
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For turning the coil properly and lightness of draft there has never been a
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and ita popularity grows each year, as is shown by the increasing Car Leads
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Sold by Sullivan Hardware Co. This Plow stands second only to the cele
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The old way of sowing grain broadcast by hand has been improved, and I
we now have the Grain Drill to distribute the Seed evenly over toe field. If !
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LOADED SHELLS and other Ammunition by the Car Load U the
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Trade at the
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Common, ordinaiy HATS 10?k -ike thirty cents beside their new line
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There's only one place to buy good FLOUR, -nd that is DEAN &
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DEAN'S PATENT, and don't you forget it .
DEAN & RATLIFFE.
BSV The Store where people trade, and where Grain Fertilizers of all kinds
are now being sold. Hurry up aud catch up T?itL tbs crowd.
Tho Kind You Have Always Bought* and which has been
lu uso for over SO years? has borne the signatr^e of
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" When the Leaves
Begin to Turn !
18 the time to sow OATS, R> E and BARLEY. Kow, in order that yon
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for you. JUST RECEIVED
3000 bushel? Texas Bed Bust Proof Oats,
2000 bushels Ninety Six Bed Bust Proof Oats.
1000 bushels Winter Grazing Oats.
Car Load Bye and Barley.
Could have sold the above without moving earn- for ?. handsome profit,
but preferred to give them to you at a loss, as we want to supply those .that
have always patronized us.
, Recollect the above is only about one-quarter our usual supply, and ia all
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HOON & LEDBETTEB.
D. 8. VAN DIV ER.
J. J. MAJOR.
E. ?, VANDIVER,
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If you want a Fine, Medium or Cheap
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tmr We sell the PLANO MOWER and BINDER, and want you to
Your trade appreciated. r: ? \
VANDIVER BROTHERS & MAJOR.
Acme Paint andCement Gure.
Specially used on Tin Boofs '
and Iron Work of any kind.
For sale by- '
ACME PAINT & CEMENT CO.
F. B. GR AYTON & CO;,
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A. C. STRICKLAND,
OFFICK-Front Reoms over Farm
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The opposite en? illustrates ''on
tlnuona Gum Teeth. Tho loVn!
Plato-mor? cleanly than tut? mit?
rsl teeth. No bud tasto or breath
f gui Pla*-^of thia hind *
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