For those interested in the Confederate effort during the American Civil War this book is an essential memoir. 'Ned' Moore takes us into battle with the Rockbridge Artillery and gives us an account of the Southern Army on campaign throughout the entire war with a battery that was never far from the action. Moore's experiences of battle read like a regimental battle honour role-Kernstown, McDowell, Winchester, Port Republic, Cold Harbor, Cedar Run, Manassas Junction, Chantilly, Sharpsburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and others are all reported in clear entertaining detail. The personalities of the battery and their personal experience under fire are graphically described. This is a well written account that takes the reader to the heart of the times and events when history was being made. A regimental role is included which makes this book invaluable for genealogists.
So far they had failed to do our battery any serious harm, but now each volley of their shells came closer and closer. At this time my attention was attracted to the second piece, a few paces to our left, and I saw a shell plough into the ground under Lieutenant Brown’s feet and explode. It tore a large hole, into which Brown sank, enveloped as he fell in smoke and dust. In an instant another shell burst at the trail of my gun, tearing the front half of Tom Williamson’s shoe off, and wounding him sorely. A piece of it also broke James Ford’s leg, besides cutting off the fore leg of Captain Graham’s horse. Ford was holding the lead-horses of the limber, and, as they wheeled to run, their bridles were seized by Rader, a shell struck the horse nearest to him, and, exploding at the instant, killed all four of the lead-horses and stunned Rader. These same horses and this driver had very nearly a similar experience (though not so fatal) at Sharpsburg a year before, as already described. Sam Wilson, another member of our detachment, was also painfully wounded and knocked down by the same shell.
This artillery bombardment was the prelude to Pickett’s charge, which took place on the opposite side of Cemetery Hill, and out of our view. Culp’s Hill, since the early morning previous, had been enveloped in a veil of smoke from Johnson’s muskets, which had scarcely had time to cool during the thirty-six hours.
The men of the Fourth Virginia Regiment had been gradually and steadily advancing from boulder to boulder, until they were almost under the enemy’s fortifications along the crest of the ridge. To proceed farther was physically impossible, to retreat was almost certain death. So, of the College company alone, one of whom had already been killed and many wounded, sixteen, including Captain Strickler, were captured. To John McKee, of this company, a stalwart Irish Federal said as he reached out to pull him up over the breastworks, “Gimme your hand, Johnny Reb; you’ve give’ us the bulliest fight of the war!”
Lieutenant “Cush” Jones determined to run the gauntlet for escape, and as he darted away the point of his scabbard struck a stone, and throwing it inverted above his head, lost out his handsome sword. Three bullets passed through his clothing in his flight, and the boulder behind which he next took refuge was peppered by others. Here, also, my former messmate, George Bedinger, now captain of a company in the Thirty-third Virginia Regiment, was killed, leading his “Greeks,” as he called his men.
About nine o’clock that evening, and before we had moved from our position, I received a message, through Captain Graham, from some of the wounded of our company, to go to them at their field-hospital. Following the messenger, I found them in charge of our surgeon, Dr. Herndon, occupying a neat brick cottage a mile in the rear, from which the owners had fled, leaving a well-stocked larder, and from it we refreshed ourselves most gratefully. Toward midnight orders came to move. The ambulances were driven to the door and, after the wounded, some eight or ten in number, had been assisted into them, I added from the stores in the house a bucket of lard, a crock of butter, a jar of apple-butter, a ham, a middling of bacon, and a side of sole-leather. All for the wounded!
Feeling assured that we would not tarry much longer in Pennsylvania, and expecting to reach the battery before my services would be needed, I set out with the ambulances. We moved on until daylight and joined the wounded of the other batteries of our battalion, and soon after left, at a house by the wayside, a member of the Richmond Howitzers who was dying. Our course was along a by-road in the direction of Hagerstown. In the afternoon, after joining the wagon-train, I found “Joe,” the coloured cook of my mess, in possession of a supernumerary battery-horse, which I appropriated and mounted. Our column now consisted of ambulances loaded with wounded men, wounded men on foot, cows, bulls, quartermasters, portable forges, surgeons, cooks, and camp-followers in general, all plodding gloomily along through the falling rain.