A Confederate Solider's account of the Battle of Moore's Hill

Excerpt from Reminiscences of one who suffered in the lost cause by Hance, Charles Hewit

 
 

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I was standing aloof and before my time came, the order was given again to "March". About midnight we arrived somewhere down on the Aux Veaux, when we halted and were ordered to dismount. We were in a heavy forest and our poor tired and hungry horses were roped to the trees, and had only the bark to feed upon; while we, their riders, must roll up in a blanket or quilt, on an empty stomach, and dream about good things that were not in store for us. Next morning, without food for man or beast, we started from here, and soon came to an oat field where the oats had just been cut and were still in shock; each of us took a good supply for our hungry steeds. I was riding my roan, that I had carefully selected before leaving home, as he was built just right for cavalry service. (Porter, I am now sure, was seeking an advan- tageous spot to receive the enemy, who was still in pursuit.) Reaching a small stream, we dismounted and there was a mad rush for the commissary for flour, the only thing in stock for breakfast. I had just taken some flour and was mixing it with water that I had obtained from the little branch, where we had pitched our camp, when our pickets came rushing in, reporting the enemy near. Without a moment's notice the dough and camp were abandoned and we made a wild rush through the timber to meet the ad- vancing foe. After marching about a mile in double quick time, we were formed in line to face the enemy, who were advancing rapidly. Dr. Joseph A. Mudd, in his history of Porter's Campaign in North Missouri, during the summer of 1862, has this to say of the battle of Moore's Mill, as related to him by myself, as the things and doings occurred under my observation. Comrade Hance says: "Our boys were with me, fighting bravely after the action begun. It seems to me that our company was directly in front of the enemy's artillery. I have always thought it was our fire that disabled the battery and killed nearly all of the horses and a number of those in charge." It was just before our charge that Perry Brown fell, on my immediate left, with part of his skull torn away by a grape shot. The firing by the

 

 
 

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enemy was, I think, the heaviest in the battle. We charged and drove them two or three hundred yards farther back into the timber. I never understood why we did not take the artillery when it was abandoned by the enemy, unless it was because Col. Porter lacked artillery-men and did not have the force to spare.

Soon the reinforcements arrived for the enemy, and we were forced to fall back to a gully. Their fire was continuous and very heavy, the minie balls flying in our faces, and the smoke of their guns seemed to be within twenty or thirty yards. Here out of our six, George Free- man, William Furnish, Uriah Williams and myself, were wounded. My right arm was fearfully shattered almost from the shoulder to the elbow. Another bullet, which I still carry, buried itself in my thigh, and a third grazed the skin under my left arm, tearing a hole in my clothing and haversack, through which you could pass your hand. I stepped back to a gully in our rear, and the next thing I remember was a Dutchman peeping around a tree at me with a shout of glee to see the damned secesh hors de combat. Presently several of >Merrill's and Rice's Red Rovers came up; one of Merrill's orderlies carried water and poured some of it and some brandy down my throat, and asked me if I wished to be taken up the road where they had taken their dead and wounded. I said I would like to be taken there, but first I should like to speak to an officer if there were any near. He called Captain Rice. When he came I took my pocketbook from under a root of a tree where I had hidden it and said, "Captain, I have a request to make of you. Will you kindly send this book and money to my mother." I then gave him her address. He promised to send it immediately and then said, "Now I have a request to make of you." (When I think of it now I can but laugh at the ridiculousness of it.) "And it is, when you get back to your command, that you recover and return to me two or three of the guns, captured by your men from my company, as they are of a new kind and limited to my company and I cannot get others like them."

 

 
 

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I was then taken to the roadside and placed among the Federal dead and wounded. I lapsed into unconsciousness and when I came to myself, I was all alone, and the sun was setting. I thought, if I were able, it was time for me to seek shelter and relief, if those things were possible. I remembered that while on the march, that morning, we had passed a little log cabin just at the edge of the timber where we had turned in for encampment; and I knew it could not be very far away. Though weak and nearly blind from loss of blood and suffering awful agonies, I made a supreme effort to reach it. Finally I was successful in my attempt, and fortunately the rail fence that stood in front of it had been pulled down to the ground, and the door was open. I walked in and laid down on a couch near the door. Close by it, lying on the floor, was my Comrade Perry Brown, who had received a fatal wound, and his brain was gradu- ally oozing out; I think he died that night. The entire floor was covered with the wounded and dying. The scene now comes back to me as a terrible nightmare. The sole occu- pant of this cabin was a lonely woman whose name I think was Fletcher. All night long, with a solitary tallow dip, suggestive of spectral shadows, did she pass and repass, giving water to the feverish and rendering what other aid she could. God only knows how I pitied her.

The next day two young girls whose names were Mad- dox, came to assist this poor woman. They washed the blood and battle stains from my face and hands, and gave me some delicious chicken broth, the first food I had had for several days. They told me they were Union, but I think such kindness and gentleness could come only from sympathizers, and that their statements were made only through prudence.

 

 
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