The War Between The States


Moccasin Bend from atop Lookout Mountain
Photo Courtesy Detroit Free Press

"Major Robinson's Early Morning Attack On Federal Drill Camp"

Atlanta Journal, March 1, 1902

"To the Editor Atlanta Journal:

As I am a reader of your valuable paper and enjoy specially, your stories of the civil war, I will give you an instance of my experience in some of the days that tried to the fullest, not only all powers of human endurance, but the very souls of the soldiers.

There are many living--both of the Gray and the Blue who will remember the episode I shall attempt to recall. I will not try to remember dates, but it was sometime after the Battle of Chickamauga, and prior to the contest on Missionary Ridge. Our battalion of reserved artillery composed of Massenburg's Battery, from Macon, Slocum's, of New Orleans [5th Co. W. A.]; Yate's and Lumsden's, of Alabama; Havis', of Perry, Ga., of which I was a member, commanded by Major Robinson [Felix H. Robertson], by the way a great favorite of General Bragg, then commanding the Army of Tennessee. Major Halinguist [Hallonquist], General Bragg's chief of artillery, one day while riding about the lines accompanied by Major Robinson discovered, way around to our right, a Yankee drill camp, just across the river. The position from which they viewed it was a commanding one. Major Robinson got Colonel Halinguist to intercede with General Bragg--to allow him to take his battalion of 24 guns around--arrive there just after nightfall, and the next morning, as the companies were hurrying out to reveille, give them a surprise in the way of shot and shell. Bragg gave his consent, and one day just after the hazy Indian summer sun had turned towards the west, the call to boots and saddles rang out in bugle notes from battalion headquarters. We hitched six good horses to each gun, the drivers stood ready to mount. Each soldier had a blanket across his shoulders, belted to the waist, a canteen of water, and haversack containing supper and breakfast. We filed out, skirted around the Ridge, and on calculated time went into battery upon the position selected. Major Robinson attending to the details in person. Each cannoneer lay down at his post beside his gun; each driver by the side of his horse.

"In the morning, just as the gray streaks of dawn began to appear, we were aroused by the jingling of Robinson's spurs. Silently we stood at our posts. The sun rose clear and bright, lifting the fog from the river that wound like a band of silver around the fertile banks. On the other bank was a sight beautiful to behold. As the sound of reveille floated out upon the ambient air there came a host hurrying to roll-call from the many snow-white canvas tents. Robinson rode slightly in advance of the center of the battalion, between Massenburg on the right and Havis on the left. He was to give the signal to fire by raising and lowering his word three times. The guns were carefully trained. Shot and shell were rammed home, the friction primers inserted and the lanyards held taut, and as the sabre came down the third time there was hurled into that array of bright blue coats and glittering brass buttons a shower of death-dealing iron from the throats of our 24 Napoleon cannon and Parrott rifles.

But it was our time to be surprised.

Before we could reload there came an answer in the shape of schrapnel (sic) case shot, which exploded about 15 feet in our front, killing a man in my detachment, wounding some others and also several horses.

Robinson's next order was to "limber up," which I took time to do. Then I struck a bee-line for camp, but the shells from those Yankee guns kept up with us for about three miles, calling out "Where are you? Where are you?"

How Halinguist and Major Robinson ever reconciled General Bragg with the disastrous result of their little pleasure trip I never knew. I know there are many in Georgia who will remember the incident, and I expect, many who on that morning were tenting on that ground."

Eastman, Ga.


Mr. Downs' "Major Robinson" is actually Major Felix H. Robertson.

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