Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

August 24, 2012

Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

August 24 — This morning we went up the river to a ford a few miles below Waterloo bridge and crossed the river. All our cavalry that were on the dangerous side of the Rappahannock crossed to the safe side. This morning after we forded the river I took my gun to a blacksmith’s shop and had it repaired.

This afternoon we moved up the river to Waterloo bridge, in order to protect it from Yankee incendiarism. It seems they have marked it for destruction by the torch. If I were a Yankee general and had made the bombastic announcement, just three weeks ago, that I had never seen anything of the Rebels but their backs, I would certainly be ashamed to resort to bridge burning to keep the Rebels from getting to me. When we arrived at Waterloo the Yanks had a battery in position on the Fauquier side of the river, on a hill commanding the bridge and its approaches on this side of the river. They also had three regiments of infantry near the bridge. One of our guns and one of Captain Pelham’s guns went into position and fired on the Yankee battery. They returned our fire forthwith, and the Yankee artillery must be getting cross as they fired solid shot at us, trying to break our guns; but unless they get better gunners than they had this afternoon we will never receive much damage from such wild, scatter-gun shooting as they did to-day from all the solid shot in Uncle Sam’s pocket.

Late this evening we were ordered to put the first gun into position in a direct and raking line with the road that approaches the bridge on the Fauquier side of the river. We did it rather clandestinely, by winding through a thick brushy woods, in the edge of which we planted our gun unobserved by the enemy. Yet they were in full view of our position. The Yanks had a battery in position bearing on the bridge and two companies of infantry in column in the road fronting toward the bridge also.

I aimed my gun at the infantry in the road and loaded it with a percussioned shell and was ready to open and awaiting orders to fire. After waiting about fifteen minutes General Fitzhugh Lee came riding through the brush. When he got up to our position he dismounted and looked over the sights of the loaded gun and observed its line and range, then said: “Who aimed this gun?” After being told who did it, he remarked that it was very well done, and if fired with its present aim and range it would kill some of that infantry over there in the road.

He then called me up to the piece and said, “I do not want to hurt anybody; turn your gun on that battery and open fire on it,” which I did. The infantry referred to were the two hundred Yanks standing in the road in columns of fours, and the battery we fired on was on the left of the infantry in a field and a little higher up the hill. When we opened on the battery the infantry broke and flew for the woods. In two minutes after we fired the first shot every single one of the infantrymen were in the woods and out of sight. The Yankee battery promptly returned our fire, with four guns. We fired three shell at their battery, then withdrew from our position. At sunset we were ordered by General Fitzhugh Lee to take a position to rake the bridge in case the Yanks should attempt to burn it during the night. We got a commanding position and aimed the gun right at the bridge. At dark we loaded our piece and lay down and slept by it. However, we kept a sentinel on post near the gun to report alarms and receive orders during the night.

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