The Lone Star Defenders 161


KILPATRICK’S RAID Kilpatrick’s Raid—

Attack on Kilpatrick—Lee’s Mill—Lovejoy’s

Station—The Brigade Demoralized—I

Surrender—Playing ’Possum—I Escape—

The Brigade Reassembles—Casualties.

ON the night of August 18 Ross’ brigade was bivouacked a

short distance east of the road leading from Sand Town, on the

Chattahoochee River, to Fairburn, on the West Point Railroad,

eighteen miles west of Atlanta, thence to Jonesboro, on the

Macon Railroad, some twenty miles south of Atlanta. This latter

was the only railroad we then had which was of any material

value to us, and we knew that General Sherman was anxious to

destroy it, as an unsuccessful effort in that direction had been

made only a few days previous.

We had a strong picket on the Sand Town and Fairburn

road, and, as all was quiet in front, we "laid us down to sleep,"

and, perchance, to dream—of home, of the independence of the

Confederate States, and all that was most dear to us. It was one

of those times of fair promises, to the weary soldier, of a solid

night’s rest, so often and so rudely broken. Scarcely had we

straightened out our weary limbs and folded our arms to sleep,

when we were aroused by the shrill notes of the bugle sounding

"boots and saddles." Our pickets were being driven in rapidly,

and before we were in our saddles General Judson Kilpatrick,

with a force of five thousand cavalry, with artillery, ambulances,

pack mules and all else that goes to constitute a first-class

cavalry raiding force, had passed our flank and was moving

steadily down the Fairburn road. The Third Texas were directed

162 The Lone Star Defenders

to move out first and gain their front, to be followed by the other

regiments of the brigade.

For the remainder of the night we moved as best we could

down such roads as we could find parallel to Kilpatrick’s line of

march—so near, in fact, that we could distinctly hear the clatter

of their horses’ hoofs, the rumbling of their artillery, and the

familiar rattle of sabers and canteens. Soon after daylight we

came in sight of his column crossing the railroad at Fairburn,

charged into it and cut it in two for the time. They halted,

formed a line of battle, and we detained them in skirmishing

until we managed to effect our object,—the gaining their front,—

and during the day, until late in the afternoon, detained them as

much as possible on their march.

Below Fairburn Kilpatrick’s main column took the

Jonesboro road, while a small column took the road leading to

Fayetteville, a town about ten miles west of Jonesboro. Ross’

brigade, continuing in front of the main column and that of

Armstrong, followed the Fayetteville road. Just before night we

passed through Jonesboro, which is ten or twelve miles from

Fairburn, and allowed Kilpatrick to occupy the town for the

night. Ross’ brigade occupied a position south of the town near

the railroad, while Armstrong was west; General Ferguson,

whose brigade was numerically stronger than either of the

others, being directed to go out on a road leading east. As we

afterwards learned, they failed to find their road, or got lost, and,

so far as I remember, were not heard from for a day or two. Thus

posted, or intended to be posted, the understanding and

agreement was that we should make a triangular attack on

Kilpatrick at daylight the next morning.

Our brigade moved on time and marched into the town,

only to learn that, with the exception of a few stragglers who had

overslept themselves, not a Federal soldier was to be found. The

The Lone Star Defenders 163

brigade followed them eastwardly from Jonesboro, and in due

time came up with their rear-guard at breakfast behind some

railworks near Lee’s Mill, and from this time until along in the

afternoon we had a pretty warm time with their rear. They were

moving on a road that intersects the McDonough and Lovejoy

road, and when they struck this road they turned in the direction

of Lovejoy Station.

We finally came up with the main force ensconced behind

some heavy railworks on a hill near a farmhouse a short distance

east of the station. We had to approach them, after leaving the

timber, through a lane probably three-quarters of a mile in

length. The farm was mostly uncultivated, and had been divided

into three fields by two cross-fences, built of rails running at

right angles with the lane, and these were thrown right and left

to admit of the free passage of cavalry. In the eastern cross fence,

however, a length some twenty or thirty yards, and but a few

rails high, was left standing, when a ditch or ravine running

along on the west side was too deep to be safely crossed by

cavalry. In this lane the command dismounted, leaving the

horses in the hands of holders, and deployed in line in the open

field, to the left or south side of the lane, and a section of Croft’s

Georgia battery was placed on an elevation to the right of the

lane.I had been sent back to Lee’s Mill to hurry up a detail left to

bury one of our dead, so was behind when the line was formed.

Having, on the day we fought McCook, picked up a mule for my

boy Jake to ride, I now had him leading my horse to rest his

back, while I rode the mule. I rode up and gave my rein to a

horse-holder, and was hurrying on to join the line when they

charged the railworks, and when I got up with them they had

begun to fall back. The brigade, not having more than four

hundred men for duty, was little more than a skirmish line.

During the day General Hood had managed to place General

Reynolds’ Arkansas brigade at Lovejoy Station, which fact

Kilpatrick had discovered, and while we were showing our

164 The Lone Star Defenders

weakness in an open field one side, General Reynolds managed

to keep his men under cover of timber on the other. Thus

Kilpatrick found himself between an unknown infantry force in

front and a skirmish-line of dismounted cavalry and a section of

artillery in his rear. He concluded to get out of this situation—

and he succeeded. Being repulsed in the charge on the railworks,

by a heavy fire of artillery and small arms, we fell back and reformed

our line behind the first cross fence. Three regiments of

the enemy then rapidly moved out from behind their works, the

Fourth United States, Fourth Michigan, and Seventh

Pennsylvania, and charged with sabers, in columns of fours, the

three columns abreast. As they came on us at a sweeping gallop,

with their bright sabers glittering, it was a grand display. And

Ross’ brigade was there and then literally run over, trampled

under foot, and, apparently annihilated. Just before the charge

they had shelled our horses in the lane, which, consequently,

had been moved back into the timber.What could we do under

the circumstances? If we had time to hold a council of war and

had deliberated over the matter ever so long, we would probably

have acted just as we did; that is, acted upon the instinct of selfpreservation,

rather than upon judgment. No order was heard;

not a word spoken; every officer and every man took in the

whole situation at a glance: no one asked or gave advice: no one

waited for orders. The line was maintained intact for a few

seconds, the men emptying their pieces at the heads of the

columns. This created a momentary flutter without checking

their speed, and on they came in fine style. There was no time

for reloading, and every one instinctively started for the horses a

mile in the rear, a half mile of open field behind us, and all of us

much fatigued with the active duties performed on the sultry

summer day. Being very much fatigued myself and never being

fleet of foot, I outran only two men in the brigade, Lieutenant W.

H. Carr, of Company C, and W. S. Coleman, of Company A, of

the Third Texas, who were both captured, and I kept up with

only two others, Captain Noble and Lieutenant Soap, also of the

The Lone Star Defenders 165

Third Texas. We three came to the ravine already described, at

the same instant. Soap dropped into it, Noble jumped over and

squatted in the sage grass in the corner of the fence. I instantly

leaped the ravine and the rail fence, and had gone perhaps ten or

fifteen steps when the clatter of horses’ hoofs became painfully

distinct, and "Surrender, sir!" rang in my ear like thunder.

Now, I had had no thought of the necessity of

surrendering, as I had fondly hoped and believed I would

escape. Halting, I looked up to ascertain whether these words

were addressed to me, and instantly discovered that the column

directly in my wake was dividing, two and two, to cross the

ravine, coming together again just in front of me, so that I was

completely surrounded. This was an emergency. As I looked up

my eyes met those of a stalwart rider as he stood up in his

stirrups, his drawn saber glittering just over my head; and, as I

hesitated, he added in a kind tone: "That’s all I ask of you, sir." I

had a rifle in my hand which had belonged to one of our men

who had been killed near me during the day. Without speaking

a word, I dropped this on the ground in token of my assent. "All

right," said he, as he spurred his horse to overtake some of the

other men.Just at this time our artillery began throwing shells

across the charging columns, and the first one exploded

immediately above our heads, the pieces falling promiscuously

around in my neighborhood, creating some consternation in

their ranks. Taking advantage of this, I placed my left hand

above my hip, as if struck, and fell as long a fall as I could

towards the center of the little space between the columns,

imitating as best I could the action of a mortally wounded

man,—carefully falling on my right side to hide my pistol, which

I still had on. Here I lay, as dead to all outward appearances as

any soldier that fell during the war, and remained in this

position without moving a muscle, until the field was clear of all

of Kilpatrick’s men who were able to leave it. To play the role of

a dead man for a couple of hours and then make my escape may

166 The Lone Star Defenders

sound like a joke to the inexperienced, and it was really a

practical joke on the raiders; but to me, to lie thus exposed on the

bare ground, with a column of hostile cavalry passing on either

side all the time, and so near me that I could distinctly hear any

ordinary conversation, was far from enjoyable. I am no stranger

to the hardships of a soldier’s life; I have endured the coldest

weather with scant clothing, marched day after day and night

after night without food or sleep; have been exposed to cold,

hunger, inclement weather and fatigue until the power of

endurance was well-nigh exhausted, but never did I find

anything quite so tedious and trying as playing dead. I had no

idea of time, except that I knew that I had not lain there all night.

The first shell our men threw after I fell came near killing me, as

a large piece plowed up the ground near enough to my back to

throw dirt all over me. Their ammunition, however, was soon

exhausted, the guns abandoned, and that danger at an end.

As things grew more quiet the awful fear seized me that

my ruse would be discovered and I be abused for my deception,

and driven up and carried to prison. This fear haunted me until

the last. Now, to add to the discomfort of my situation, it began

to rain, and never in my life had I felt such a rain. When in my

fall I struck the ground my hat had dropped off, and this terrible

rain beat down in my face until the flesh was sore. But to move

an arm or leg, or to turn my face over for protection was to give

my case completely away, and involved, as I felt, the humiliation

of a prison life; than which nothing in the bounds of probability

in my life as a Confederate soldier was so horrible, in which

there was but one grain of consolation, and that was that I would

see my brother and other friends who had been on Johnson’s

Island for some months.

The last danger encountered was when some dismounted

men came near driving some pack mules over me. Finally

everything became so quiet that I ventured to raise my head,

The Lone Star Defenders 167

very slowly and cautiously at first, and as not a man could be

seen I finally rose to my feet. Walking up to a wounded

Pennsylvania cavalryman I held a short conversation with him.

Surveying the now deserted field, so lately the scene of such

activity, and supposing as I did that Ross’ brigade as an

organization was broken up and destroyed, I was much

distressed. I was left alone and afoot, and never expected to see

my horse or mule any more, which in fact I never did, as

Kilpatrick’s cavalry, after charging through the field, had turned

into the road and stampeded our horses.

I now started out over the field in the hope of picking up

enough plunder to fit myself for service in some portion of the

army. In this I succeeded beyond my expectation, as I found a

pretty good, completely rigged horse, only slightly wounded,

and a pack-mule with pack intact, and I soon loaded the mule

well with saddles, bridles, halters, blankets, and oil cloths.

Among other things I picked up a Sharp’s carbine, which I

recognized as belonging to a messmate. While I was casting

about in my mind as to what command I would join, I heard the

brigade bugle sounding the assembly! Sweeter music never was

heard by me. Mounting my newly-acquired horse and leading

my pack-mule, I proceeded in the direction from which the

bugle notes came, and on the highest elevation in the field, on

the opposite side of the lane, I found General Ross and the

bugler. I told my experience, and heard our gallant brigadier’s

laughable story of his escape. I sat on my new horse and looked

over the field as the bugle continued to sound the assembly

occasionally, and was rejoiced to see so many of our men

straggling in from different directions, coming apparently out of

the ground, some of them bringing up prisoners, one of whom

was so drunk that he didn’t know he was a prisoner until the

next morning.

168 The Lone Star Defenders

Near night we went into camp with the remnant collected,

and the men continued coming in during the night and during

all the next day. To say that we were crestfallen and heartily

ashamed of being run over is to put it mildly; but we were not so

badly damaged, after all. The horse-holders, when the horses

stampeded, had turned as many as they could out of the road

and saved them. But as for me, I had suffered almost a total loss,

including the fine sword that John B. Long had presented me at

Thompson’s Station, and which I had tied on my saddle. My

faithful Jake came in next morning, and although he could not

save my horse, he had saved himself, his little McCook mule and

some of my soldier clothes. My pack-mule and surplus rigging I

now distributed among those who seemed to need them

most.Including officers, we had eighty-four or eighty-five men

captured, and only sixteen or eighteen of these were carried to

Northern prisons. Among them were seven officers, including

my friend Captain Noble, who was carried to Johnson’s Island,

and messed with my brother until the close of the war. Captain

Noble had an eye for resemblances. When he first saw my

brother he walked up to him and said, "I never saw you before,

but I will bet your name is Barron, and I know your brother

well." The other prisoners who escaped that night and returned

to us next day included my friend Lieutenant Soap, who brought

in a prisoner, and Luther Grimes, owner of the Sharp’s carbine,

already mentioned, who had an ugly saber wound in the head. I

remember only two men of the Third Texas who were killed

during the day—William Kellum of Company C, near Lee’s Mill;

and John Hendricks, of Company B, in the charge on the

railworks. These two men had managed to keep on details from

one to two years, being brought to the front under orders to cut

down all details to increase the fighting strength, and they were

both killed on the field the first day they were under the enemy’s


The Lone Star Defenders 169

Among the wounded was Captain S. S. Johnson, of

Company K, Third Texas, gunshot wound, while a number of

the men were pretty badly hacked with sabers. Next day General

Ross went up to General Hood’s headquarters and said to him:

"General, I got my brigade run over yesterday." General Hood

replied, "General Ross, you have lost nothing by that, sir. If

others who should have been there had been near enough to the

enemy to be run over, your men would not have been run over."

This greatly relieved our feelings, and the matter became only an

incident of the campaign, and on the 22d day of August Ross’

brigade was back in its position ready for duty.