Thread: Horse Artillery
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Old 08-10-2019
Theodoric Theodoric is offline
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Few passed the test. One by one, Confederate artillerists began abandoning their guns and fleeing toward the back of the hill, where they hoped to find cover. It was little safer there. Many Union projectiles skimmed over the crest and exploded beyond, killing men and battery horses alike. So many animals were victims of the shelling that for years afterward the place was known as "Dead Horse Hill."

One man who did not seek safety was Capt. Willie Pegram. With his thin, pale face, wavy hair, and thick spectacles, the earnest 21-year-old officer looked more like a graduate student than a warrior, but in his breast beat the heart of a lion. Pegram commanded six of Prospect Hill's 14 guns.

As his men fled their pieces, Pegram shouted at them to return. When they did not respond, Pegram wrapped himself in his battery flag and strode calmly among

Capt. James Hall matched Pegram's coolness under fire. Hall commanded one of the Union batteries that was firing at Prospect Hill. He was chatting with some fellow officers when a solid shot skipped past him and struck an ammunition chest nearby. A deafening explosion followed.

Hall calmly walked over to the nearest cannon, sighted it, and sent a shell screeching toward the enemy lines. His shot was right on the mark, detonating a Confederate ammunition chest. Having exacted his revenge, Hall returned to his conversation.

Shots like Hall's had their effect. One by one, the Confederate guns fell silent. After an hour, Meade determined that the time had come to strike. The 3,800 men of his division rose to their feet and started toward the smoking ridge. As they passed through the line of barking Union guns, a sooty artillerist shouted after them: "Boys, we have done our duty, now go and do yours."

Next week: Mannsfield

DONALD C. PFANZ is staff historian with Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He is author of "Abraham Lincoln at City Point" and "Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier's Life."

Last edited by Theodoric; 08-19-2019 at 03:33 AM.
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