Join Date: February 21, 2008
Gen. Enoch's And A. D. Crossland's Experiences
Ironton Register, Thursday, December 2, 1886
"I suppose you have observed that the REGISTER is giving some "Narrow Escapes" of the boys in the war, Gen. Enochs?"
"Yes, indeed," said the General, "I read them with a great deal of interest. They are a good thing. They remind me of what Gen. Hayes said to me at Portsmouth, during the reunion. He remarked that the real history of the war has not yet been written; and will not be, until the boys have a chance to tell their personal experiences."
"Well now," said the reporter, "that’s just what I am after, a "narrow escape" from you."
"Oh, I have none worth relating. I was in a great many battles and met danger with the rest of the boys, but I have no distinctively romantic escape to relate. My narrowest escape was where I didn’t altogether escape. It was at the battle near Winchester, on the 19th of September 1864--Sheridan’s first great battle in the Shenandoah Valley. You remember the engagement began about noon. The 19th corps was on the left; the 6th corps in the center and the Army of West Va. on the right, and my regiment, which I commanded that day, was on the extreme right of the whole line; that is, of the infantry line. Custer’s and Merritt’s divisions of cavalry still covered our flanks."
"Well, we had driven the rebel forces gradually from the start; and they were very hard to drive as they fought behind the stone fences which abound in that country. It was on toward five o’clock in the evening, and the rebel lines had been driven back from every point except where the artillery was planted, which was a strong position. Their cannon was doing fearful execution, and the musketry from that quarter was very severe. Gen. Duval, who commanded our brigade, had fallen, and the ranks were much shattered. I had lost my horse in a swamp soon after the fight commenced and so was afoot in the battle. Things were in a turmoil and confusion; nobody seemed to be directing our brigade or division, so I took hold of our end of the line myself, and ordered an assault on the rebel artillery. I thought we wouldn’t be killed any faster going ahead than standing still. Then the enemy opened on us furiously. Our line as it advanced had a very ragged edge to it. It was made up almost without any order as to regiment, a dozen regiments being represented, in some parts of the line."
"As we approached the rebel position, I happened, at one moment, to be looking down the line, awfully anxious about its maintaining itself, when my "narrow escape" came to me in the form of a minnie ball, and down I went, to figure, as the comrades around me supposed, among the list of the killed. And I would have thought so too, possibly, if I had not been knocked senseless. There I lay insensible, for some time, but finally regained my thoughts, to find that I couldn’t see. I was blind as a bat for over an hour; but during that little period, I felt about to ascertain the extent of my wound, and found a ball sticking in the side of my head about two inches above the right ear. It had gone through my hat band and flattened against the skull, which it bruised badly, and to which it stuck until I pulled it off. The first man who discovered I wasn’t dead was Lewis Neff, of Rome township, who gave me a drink from his canteen."
"That was indeed, a very close shave," said the reporter, "but what of the charge on the artillery?"
"Oh, that was the best part about it," said the General--"the boys went right on, and captured the rebel works; and that did as much as any other one thing that day to give us the victory. The next day, I was all right and took command of my regiment again."
"Where’s the ball?" asked the reporter.
"I carried it for a couple years after, but finally lost it," replied the General; "but I can recollect everything about that fight without the ball as a reminder. It struck me too forcibly to ever be forgotten."