We are pleased to present below the 2nd Honorable Mention of our Civil War Family Story essay contest. The contest ran in the summer and the winners were announced in the fall print newsletter, which was mailed to MHS members last week. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, and two Honorable Mentions, will appear on the blog throughout the week. Congratulations to the winners, and many thanks to all the entrants. Judging was made difficult given the volume and high quality of the submissions.
by Ann Worster
“Attention, Forward, March” and the little command of Company E, 14th Maine Volunteers, under Lt. George W. Worster, moved up the railroad track towards Ponchatoula.
Worster noticed that his command had begun to be separated from the main body of troops. He knew not what the orders were save to press on, and this he did. He had noticed that there was a piece of woods, something in the shape of a flatiron with the point towards him. The main body had passed, doubtlessly to one side of this point while he and his command had passed on the other side.
Worster began to feel anxious and calling a private to his side, said, “Go back and find Captain Trask and ask for instructions.”
The private had scarcely left when suddenly the enemy assembled their skirmishers in front. Worster, fearing a charge did the same. But no charge came. The rebels had now disappeared over a tall bank. As soon as they arrived at the top of the rise they understood the assembling of the rebels. Before them flowed the Tangipaho River, spanned by a small wooden bridge. On the other side, behind a previously erected breastwork of oak and dirt, the rebels had gathered.
They laughed tauntingly and cried, “Why don’t you come on Yanks, what are you waiting for?”
“Oh, to get our breath. You didn’t suppose it was on your account did you?” shouted a young private.
“Oh, go home to your mother, sonny,” replied a grey headed Confederate, unwisely showing a part of his body. The next instant there was a sharp crack of the Yank’s musket, followed by a smothered cry on the other side.
Then there was a silence. The Confederate guns commanded the little bridge. In the distance could be heard the crash of musketry of the main body. But Worster was not one to give up easily.
Leaning over, he whispered to the corporal lying next to him, “Pass the word along to the boys to keep perfectly silent until I give the word, then I want them to all fire together and yell as they never did before.” Worster feared to give the order to fix bayonets for had such an order been executed, the Confederates could not have missed seeing it.
After waiting long enough for the word to be passed among the men, Worster cried out, “Fire!” The muskets cracked in unison and there followed a terrific yell. The rebels, half startled, but thinking it was some farce in which they would join fired their guns and gave back an answering yell. Now was Worster’s opportunity. He knew that their guns were empty but that in a few moments they would be recharged.
Springing from behind his shelter, he shouted, “Where are the boys that will follow me?”
“Here’s one,” replied a man of sixty years with grey hair and long white whiskers. In another moment they were all dashing behind Worster for the little bridge.
“Club muskets,” shouted Worster as he sprang up the bank on the other side, followed by his men yelling at the top of their lungs. But the rebels had not stayed to meet them. They were running away.