Sunday, August 31, 2014
Facing Death with Honor ?
At Cold Harbor ( and other places )
Grant used whiskey to bolster the courage of his men !
William Meade Dame writes ----
“The fight was over, just about as dusk was closing in. In this, and the fight at five o’clock, the enemy lost about six thousand men, killed and wounded. In the assaults, at ten, eleven and at three o’clock, they certainly lost between two and three thousand in killed and wounded, so this day’s work cost them about seven or eight thousand in killed and wounded, besides prisoners.
Our loss was very small. On our immediate part of the line, almost nothing. In the battery, we had one man wounded at five o’clock. In this furious close up fight with infantry, with the awful mauling our guns gave them, strange to say, we had not a man touched. The only blood shed that day, at the “4th” gun, was caused by that rail striking my hand. And our battle line was just as it was, in the morning, save for the hecatomb of dead and dying in front of it, and six hundred prisoners we held inside.
About these prisoners: Numbers of these men were drunk, and officers too. One Colonel was so drunk that he did not know he was captured, or what had happened. The explanation of this fact, I do not profess to know, but this was what the men themselves told us, “That before they charged, heavy rations of whiskey were issued, and the men made to drink it. I know that indignant denial has been made of this charge, that the Federal soldiers were made drunk to send them in, but this I do certainly know, as an eye witness, and hundreds of our men know it too, that here, on the Spottsylvania line, and at Cold Harbor, and other times in this campaign, we captured numbers of the men, assaulting our lines, who were very drunk, and said they were made to drink. And this fact is one reason for the carnage among them, and the light loss they inflicted upon us. It made their men shoot wildly, and the moment our men saw this, they could, with the cooler aim, send death into their ranks. These hundreds of men going, drunk, to face death was a horrible sight; it is a horrible thought, but it was a fact.
Is that facing death with Honor ?