Recollection of J. T. Woods, Battle of Bayou Bourbeau, November 3, 1863

    Source citation
    J. T. Woods, Services of the Ninety-Sixth Ohio Volunteers (Toledo, OH: Blade Printing and Paper, Co., 1874), 41-43.
    Date Certainty
    Transcription adapted from Services of the Ninety-Sixth Ohio Volunteers (1874), by J. T. Woods
    Adapted by Don Sailer, Dickinson College
    The following transcript has been adapted from Services of the Ninety-Sixth Ohio Volunteers (1874).
    At 2 o'clock on the morning of the 3d, Col. Brown, of the 96th, received a request from Gen. Burbridge to call immediately at his headquarters. The General, at that late hour, was busily engaged in writing. This interview was private and confidential, in which he notified the Colonel that there was not the least doubt but that early in the day the command would be attacked by overwhelming numbers. He explained fully all the details, and notified him as to what he should expect of his Regiment. Very early in the morning a council was held, in which all the commanding officers of regiments were present. The General explained to them the expected attack, and directed them to adopt every precaution in their separate commands to secure their entire strength and efficiency in the coming struggle. Filled with a sense of their responsibility, and pondering on the probable events that the day would bring forth, these officers returned to their posts of duty. Col. Brown immediately proceeded in person to give certain orders to his officers. In doing so, he chanced to observe a sweet-faced young boy, whose manliness of bearing, and gentle, pure, and christian character, had not only been observed, but had endeared him to all. He was sitting by his tent, earnestly engaged in reading his Bible. To the salutation, "are you ready.?" Charley Stanfield replied, calmly, with his open book before him: "Yes, Colonel, I am always ready !" The sun had that day scarcely passed "high noon," when a rebel bullet sent his pure soul to God.

    Then followed quickly the sounds of busy preparation. Everywhere was heard the click, click, of the rising hammer, and then the sharp explosion of the cap, by which it was known that the tube was open ; and the clear ring of the rammer, as it was dropped into the barrel, satisfied its owner that he could rely upon his musket to do faithful execution in the moment of need. Cartridge boxes were carefully packed with 40 rounds, and can- teens filled with water, that might quench the thirst of a dying comrade.

    It was scarcely 10 o'clock, when the sharp picket-firing in the distance confirmed our expectations; and at 12, our retreating cavalry gave notice that "the Philistines were upon us." The thrilling long-roll called every man to arms. In calm, calculating haste, each donned his battle trappings, and with clockwork precision fell into line.

    The officer who happened to be engaged in paying off the 23d Wisconsin, found his labor suddenly checked as the men rushed for their guns. Bundling his greenbacks promiscuously into his iron box, he tumbled it into a ready ambulance, that, at breakneck speed, dashed into the road and across the bayou bridge for the rear, a squad of greedy rebel cavalry at his very heels.

    Marching directly on the road that turned to the left, close to the right of our camp, the rebel infantry advanced in force, while clouds of cavalry emerged from the woods and deployed on the flanks of their infantry, scattering like wild Comanches, and enveloping our camp.

    The battle-ground is in outline again before us. Let us follow the colors in the fray, describing the tragic events as then we saw them. Time is as precious as every hope the heart holds dear, and not an instant is lost in preparation. Cur line of battle faces the woods on the right, close to and at right angles with our camp. The 67th Indiana, in open prairie on the left, supports two guns of the 17th Ohio Battery. The 96th Ohio and 60th Indiana, with the remaining guns, form the centre. The 23d Wisconsin, a little delayed in reaching their position, form the right of our line. This disposition of our little command is scarcely completed, when we are face to face with more than 8,000 men, and instantly begins THE BATTLE OF GRAND COTEAU.
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