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Welcome to
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The
BLACK PHALANX;

A History of the

NEGRO SOLDIERS OF THE UNITED STATES
in the Wars of
1775-1812, 1861-'65,
By
Joseph T. Wilson
Late of the 2nd Reg't. La. Native Guard Vols. 54th Mass. Vols.
Aide-De-camp to the Commander-In-Chief G. A. R.
Author of
"Emancipation," "Voice of a New Race,"  "Twenty-Two Years of Freedom," etc., etc.
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56 Illustrations
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Hartford, Conn.:
American Publishing Company
1890

CHAPTER IX. -
THE PHALANX AT MARION, TENN.
pg. 306 -
 

     In the winter of 1864, while Sherman was marching his army toward the sea, raiding parties and expeditions were sent out from the several departments to intercept rebel communications, destroy telegraph lines, railroads and stores ; in nearly all of which Phalanx troops actively participated, and shared the perils and honors of the achievements.
     From Vicksburg, Miss., Brevet Brigadier-General E. D. Osband, with the Third Phalanx Regiment, on the 27th of November captured and destroyed the Mississippi Central Railroad bridge over the Big Black River, near Canton, also thirty miles of the railroad, with two locomotives and a large amount of stores.
     In the meantime, General Breckenridge, with a large confederate force, attacked the Federals under General Gillem, near Morristown, Tenn., captured the artillery, with several hundred men, and drove the remainder of Gillem's troops into Knoxville. Breckenridge soon retired, however, pursued by General Ammen's forces.  On the 12th of December, General Stoneman having concentrated the commands of Generals Burbridge and Gillem, near Bean Station, Tenn., started in pursuit of Breckenridge intending to drive him into Virginia and to destroy the railroad and Salt Works at Saltville, "West Virginia.  General Burbridge's command was principally composed of Kentucky troops, three brigades, numbering about five thousand men, all mounted.  The 6th Phalanx Cavalry

[Pg. 307]


SERVING REFRESHMENTS TO UNION TROOPS

[Pg. 308] - BLANK

[Pg. 309]
was attached to the 3rd brigade, which Colonel Jas. F. Wade, of the 6th, commanded. Gillem's defeat rather inspired the men in the new column, and they dashed forward with a determination to annihilate the enemy.  Four days after leaving Bean Station, the confederates were overtaken at Marion, General Vaughn being in command, and were routed, the Federals capturing all their guns, trains and a number of prisoners.  Vaughn fell back to Wytheville, pursued by the Federals, who captured and destroyed the town, with its stores and supplies and the extensive lead mines.
     Having accomplished their mission, the Federals about faced for Marion, where they met with a large force of confederates under Breckenridge, including the garrison of Saltville.  Now came the decisive struggle for the Salt Works between the two forces.  The Federals had been enjoying their signal victory, which they now attempted to enhance by pressing the enemy, who had crossed a bridge and there taken up a position.  During the night an advance regiment succeeded in crossing the bridge, after re-laying the planks which the confederates had torn up, but they were driven back , and there remained till the next morning.  The 6th Phalanx was assigned its usual position, and was held in reserve.  The battle opened in the morning, and continued with varying success during the day.  Late in the afternoon General Stoneman found his troops badly beaten, and unable to extricate them selves from the confederate coil; they were not the "Old Guard," and the question with them was not "victory or death," but surrender or death.  Nor was this long a question.  General Stoneman ordered up the 6th Phalanx, dividing them into three columns, placing himself at the head of one, and giving one each to Colonel Wade, (their valiant colonel), and his chief of staff, General Brisbin.  The regiment dashed into the light for the rescue of the pro-slavery Kentuckians and haughty Tennesseeians, who were now nearly annihilated.  The historian of this campaign, General Brisbin, who but a day or two previous to this battle had attempted to shoot one of the brave black

[Pg. 309]
boys of the 6th for retaliating for the murder of one of his comrades by shooting a confederate prisoner, thus writes, twenty-two years afterwards, about the battle and the conduct of the 6th:

 

 

[Pg. 310]

 

[Pg. 311]
















     The road to the Salt Works was thus opened and their destruction accomplished by the bravery and matchless
valor of the gallent Sixth.  Many of the regiment forfeited their lives in rescuing the force from defeat, and

[Pg. 312]
securing a victory; those who survived the terrible struggle no longer had opprobrious epithets hurled at them, but modestly received the just encomiums that were showered upon them by the white troops, who, amid the huzzas of victory, greeted them with loud shouts of "Comrades!"
     General Brisbin, continuing, says:

 

 

 

 

 

[Pg. 313]


SCOUTS

[Pg. 314] - BLANK

[Pg. 315] - CHAPTER X. - THE BLACK FLAG
 

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