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Armstrong Brotherton Champion Eubanks Ford Green Jackson Massey McCulloch Pinson Slemmons Turner

By C. Y. Ford, Odessa, Mo., Of Company G, 2d Missouri Regiment, Forrest's Cavalry.

In the early summer of 1862 we were attached to Gen. Martin E. Green's brigade of infantry, as nearly all cavalry regiments and artillery companies were at that early stage of the war. Consequently we were practically without organization, but in June we were organized into a brigade of cavalry and placed under that brave and efficient general, Frank C. Armstrong, who afterwards ranked as one of General Forrest's most accomplished division commanders. The brigade consisted, as I now recall, of the 2nd Missouri Cavalry, about one thousand strong, commanded by that austere old colonel, Bob McColluch, of brave young Missourians, without a conscript in the ranks, and perhaps only a few in the other regiments; the 2nd Arkansas Cavalry, some eight hundred numbers, commanded by Colonel Slemmons; the 1st Mississippi Cavalry about one thousand in numbers, commanded by Colonel Pinson' also the 7th Tennessee Cavalry, a full regiment, commanded by Col. William H. Jackson, afterwards a brigadier under that wizard of the saddle, Gen. Bedford Forrest, one of the most distinguished soldiers of our Southland; and Wirt Adam's Battalion, and a small battalion commanded by Colonel Saunders. In all, a magnificent body of fighting cavalry, ready and eager to measure arms with the Federal cavalry.

About the middle of July we were granted that privilege. We had drilled some two months as dismounted troopers and become quite good with the saber. The bugle sounded "Boots and Saddles," and we were marching in a long column. How proud we were of our well-mounted men armed with carbines (breech-loading) and pistols with sabers. We camped the first night on the Tombigbee River at Bay Springs, and from there we marched into West Tennessee. Near Middleburg, we encountered a strong Federal force of cavalry and one six-gun battery commanded by General Grierson, consisting of some five thousand superbly armed and finely mounted men. The 2nd Missouri was marching at the head of the column, when we were fired into by some dismounted troopers placed behind a railroad embankment. General Armstrong ordered the bugler to sound the charge, and we thundered down a dusty lane by platoons, with drawn sabers. Capt. Rock Champion was at the head of the troop, Colonel McCulloch riding by his side, and our sabers glittering in the bright sunshine made an imposing line of battle. The Yanks were game, and plainly we could hear their bugle sounding the charge. Soon we crashed together in a general mix-up. Capt. Rock Champion was instantly kill; Lieut. Joe Eubanks was severely wounded. When some confusion ensued, a few men were ordered dismounted to throw down a small fence, and we were ordered to right-front into line. Again we drove them back into a cotton field some half mile farther, when they reformed and charged us with sabers, but we were not dismayed by this splendid line of cavalry charging right up to us, with their young Colonel Hogg waving his sword and urginf his men into battle. Colonel McCulloch waved his saber and cheered the men on, and in we went with the rebel yell, cutting and slashing as we again drove them from the field, leaving their commander's body on the field. He was dressed in a white shirt, with a cavalry jacket buckeled to the pommel of his saddle, his horse lying by his side, both dead. We all felt some sorrow at seeing so young and brave a soldier fall, when victory was at one time almost in his grasp. Many claimed the distinguished honor of killing this gallant soldier, but he and Colonel McCulloch were often seen striking at each other and always close together in battle, so it was always conceded that Colonel McCulloch killed Colonel Hogg.

We had a number of men wounded by sword cuts, but very few killed. Sammy Massey, in my company, was killed, his head cleaved by a saber, and his horse killed.. When we found Sammy, his saber was in his clutch and two feet of the blade was broken off. Tom Turner, also of my company, had three cuts, and his horse two. Tom I think, killed the Federal who wounded him. It was a hotly contested battle of perhaps an hour's duration. We had met a regiment worthy of our steel a most beautiful fight, nearly equal in forces and regiments finely led. Hogg was most surely a chivalrous and fine soldier.

The battle was witnessed by the Federal troops, drawn up in line of battle on this cotton plantation, with a battery, and our forces drawn up south of them in the same cotton field; but not a soldoer outside of the 2nd Missouri or the 2nd Illinois regiments took any part whatever in the engagement. We sent Colonel Hogg's body by flag of truce into the enemy's camp. That night we attacked a body of Federals at Medan in a depot surrounded by cotton bales, but they drove us away. This fight was near midnight, and we continued our march until daylight, when we dismounted to rest a short time and were standing by our horses, when two pieces of artillery let loose two charges of grapeshot into our column at point-blank range, but with no casualties resulting. Bugles sounded, and, as soon as we had mounted, Lieutenant Brotherton, of General Armstrong's staff, dashed up and order Colonel McCulloch to draw sabers and charge the battery a few hundred yards down the road at Britton's Lane. So again we went at the Yanks with sabers and the rebel yell. The guns were supported by an infantry force on each side of the road, and we were supported by the 1st Mississippi on the left and the 7th Tennessee on our right. These supports were dismounted; the battle was in an open field that had been in corn the previous year. The grapeshot and Minie bullets cutting the dry stalks and our charging horses made a fearful noise. We charged right up to the guns, but all three regiments were driven back. Our colonel's horse was killed, as also the flag bearer's horses. A number of men were killed and wounded, and this created some confusion, but we again rallied on the blast of the bugle, reformed, and, all dismounted, charged them again, and drove them from the field. It was a bloody battle for more than two hours, and our loss was heavy both in men and horses. Colonel Pinson, commanding the 1st Mississippi Regiment, was severely wounded. I think the heaviest loss was in that fine old regiment, the 7th Tennessee, for many of their men fell on that hot August day. It was called the battle of Britton's Lane, near Denmark, Tenn. The Yankees mad a gallant fight, but we proved too much for them. This was our second saber battle in two days, and we sustained severe losses of many of our fine soldiers. Conspicuous among them was Capt. Rock Champion, who commanded Company K, of our regiment, a most distinguished looking soldier, and much so as any soldier I saw in my four years' service.

Often in my old days do I think of these two saber fights and of the fine boys who fell there. Peace to their slumbers!

SOURCE: Confederate Veteran Magazine, August, 1922.

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