Search This Blog

Thursday, September 5, 2013

An Old Book; A New Chapter, Part II

I don't really have time for a long blog post, but this entry was so delicious, I just had to share:

Wed. June 3

I got out of General [Leonidas] Polk the story of his celebrated adventure with the ____Indiana (Northern) regiment, which resulted in the almost total destruction of that corps.  I had often during my travels heard officers and soldiers talking of this extraordinary feat of the "Bishop's."  
Gen. Leonidas Polk

The modest yet graphic manner in which General Polk related this wonderful instance of coolness and bravery was extremely interesting, and I now repeat it, as nearly as I can in his own words.

"Well, sir, it was at the battle of Perryville, late in the evening -- in fact, it was almost dark when Lidell's brigade came into action.  Shortly after its arrival, I observed a body of men, whom I believed to be Confederates, standing at the newly arrived troops.  I said, 'Dear me, this is very sad, and must be stopped;' so I turned 'round, but could find none of my young men who were absent on different messages; so I determined to ride myself and settle the matter.

"Having cantered up to the colonel of the regiment which was firing, I asked him in angry tones what he meant by shooting his own friends, and I desired him to cease doing so at once.  He answered with surprise, 'I don't think there can be any mistake about it; I am sure they are the enemy.' 

"'Enemy! I said,' 'why I have only just left them myself.  Cease firing, sir; what is your name, sir?'

"'My name is Colonel ____, of the ____Indiana; and pray, sir, who are you?'

"Then for the first time I saw, to my astonishment, that he was a Yankee, and that I was in rear of a regiment of Yankees.  Well, I saw that there was no hope but to brazen it out; my dark blouse and the increasing obscurity befriended me, so I approached quite close to him and shook my fist in his face, saying, 'I'll show you who I am, sir; cease firing, sir, at once.'  

"I then turned my horse and cantered slowly down the line, shouting in an authoritative manner to the Yankees to cease firing; at the same time I experienced a disagreeable sensation, like screwing up my back, and calculating how many bullets would be between my shoulders every moment.  I was afraid to increase my pace until I got to a small copse, when I put the spurs in and galloped back to my men.  

"I immediately went up to the nearest colonel, and said to him, 'Colonel, I have reonnoitred [sic.] those fellows pretty closely -- and I find there is no mistake who they are; you may get up and go at them.'  

"And I assure you, sir, that the slaughter of that Indiana regiment was the greatest I have ever seen in the war."

From the book Three Months in the Southern States, April-June, 1863 by Lieut.-Col. Arthur Freemantle, published by William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1863

See also Part I - Old Book; New Chapter


  1. That Lidell was General Lidell and he was one of my ancestors!!