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The Mighty Few

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The Mighty Few
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Frank M. Mixson & John Gill
Date Published: 2013/04
Page Count: 164
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-113-7
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-112-0

Two excellent Confederate eyewitness accounts

This special Leonaur edition contains two small works combined for good value and each written by a private soldier of the Confederate Army who fought in the American Civil War. The diminutive Frank Mixson, who quite literally ran away to enlist as a child at just fourteen years old, writes about his wartime experiences in the First South Carolina Volunteer Infantry regiment. He saw campaigning and action at Manassas, Sharpsburg, Chattanooga, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Petersburg and many other hard fought skirmishes and battles. His finely observed words bring a fresh perspective to the conflict and include details of many incidents as well as personal anecdotes. This is an excellent first-hand account that is all the more incredible because the author was still a juvenile as the war concluded. The second account here is shorter and unless accompanied by another work it may not have seen republication in modern times. The more mature John Gill decided from conviction to serve with those Marylanders who elected to join the cause of the southern states. Few in number, these troops were initially incorporated into the Virginian regiments. Following the theft of his horse prior to enlistment John Gill saw service in the infantry and later in the 2nd Virginia Cavalry and 1st. Maryland Battalion of Cavalry. Confederate accounts of the civil war are notably fewer than those from the Union Army and this book will be a valuable addition to any library of the American Civil War.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket; our hardbacks are cloth bound and feature gold foil lettering on their spines and fabric head and tail bands.

It was about sixteen miles from where we were camped to the gap, and as we were needed there badly we double quicked nearly the entire distance. Of course, we were stopped a few minutes at intervals to rest and catch our breath. It seems that this gap was the only way we had to get back into Virginia, and the Yankees were trying to hold this against us. Had they succeeded in doing this, Lee’s army would be trapped, but our troops held them at bay until Jenkins’ Brigade got there about deep dusk. We found our troops hard pressed on the side of the mountains only a few hundred yards from the pass. We were immediately put into position and relieved those who had been fighting all day. Our orders were to hold our position or die.<br>
After being in position here for some little time and holding the enemy back, an officer rode up to near where Maj. Livingston and I were and asked for the commanding officer. I hollered out, “Here he is.” He told Maj. Livingston that the enemy were being reinforced and would charge us very shortly, and to save the pass long enough for our army to succeed in getting by, that we would charge first—that the orders to charge had been extended on our right and all movements would be taken up from the right. Maj. Livingston turned to me and said, “Frank, tell Company A to move as the regiment on its right moves, and come on down the line and tell each company commander to move as the right moves.”<br>
I had hardly got the orders extended before I heard the command, “Company A, forward,” “Company B, forward.” And on down the line. We were in for it sure, and away we went—into a blaze of musketry which lighted us on our way. We drove them back some little distance and held our gain long enough for the rear of our army to pass through, when we again heard the right extending orders. This time I heard, “Company A in retreat,” “Company B in retreat,” and it was not long before we were going through the gap—the last of the army to pass through. We found a relief for us when we got through, which held them back till we were safe on our road to Sharpsburg, which we reached sometime late in the afternoon, after having been fighting nearly all night and marching since noon the day before.
On reaching Sharpsburg we were stopped in an apple orchard (our regiment) and we fared well. We remained in this orchard that night, all next day and night. The second morning about sunrise the Yankees opened their artillery from the heights on us, and it seemed as if they had placed all the cannon in the world up there; it was certainly the heaviest and most terrific artillery firing during the entire war, and has gone down in history as such. Fortunately for us we were in a bottom and the worst of the shells went over us, but not all. We had a good many hurt while in this position. Our batteries were on the hill above us and were responding all they could.<br>
About 8 o’clock we were ordered up the hill to protect our batteries; the enemy were charging them. We went up the hill at a double quick. Our regiment was on the left of the brigade and we were going left in front, which put us to the front. I was trotting by the side of Maj. Livingston amid a furore of bursting shells. About half way up the hill Maj. Livingston called to me, saying, “Lead on, Frank, I am wounded.” I called to Capt. Knotts, who was the senior captain present, and told him to take command of the regiment. We got in position on the hill in rear of a plank fence and were told not to fire a shot till ordered to do so.<br>
While lying behind the fence the Yankees were making their charge and coming down the opposite hill in as pretty a line as on dress parade. In front of us, and about midway, there was a stone fence in another apple orchard. The Yankees were making for this fence, and, as I said before, were moving on it at a double quick and a regular dress parade line. The old captain commanding our batteries had shot himself out of balls, and, all his horses being killed, he ordered his men to cut off the trace chains. With these he loaded his pieces and fired. It seemed that as the chains reached the ranks they spread themselves out full length and cut their way broadside through. The old captain jumped up, yelled, and ordered another load, with about the same result. This was done several times, and finally the column began to waver and weaken.<br>
At this point a Yankee colonel rode to the front with drawn sword and rallied his men, who were about to give way. Just then I said to Kite Folk, from Bamberg, a boy like myself, but a year or two older, “Let us shoot him.” I picked up a gun lying near me and Kite and I put our guns through the fence and fired together. The colonel fell and was carried from the field. The enemy fell back, but very soon came again.