Here is another tale of Private Sam Watkins, Company H, 1st Tennessee:
“It was Christmas. John Barleycorn was general-in-chief. Our generals, and colonels, and captains, had kissed John a little too often…. We marched plumb into the Yankee lines, with their flags flying.”
“I called Lieutenant-Colonel Frierson’s attention to the Yankees, and he remarked, “Well, I don’t know whether they are Yankees or not…”
There was a lot of confusion about the situation, especially when the Yankees pulled back over the hill:
“Oakley, color-bearer of the Fourth Tennessee Regiment, ran right up in the midst of the Yankee line with his colors, begging his men to follow. I hallooed till I was hoarse, “They are Yankees, they are Yankees; shoot, they are Yankees.”
The shooting began, but confusion continued. Then a shell fragment struck Sam in the arm, “…and then a minnie ball passed through the same paralyzing my arm, and wounded and disabled me.”
Just then General Cheatham came up, not so fazed by John Barleycorn as the rest. He was calling to his men, “Come on, boys, and follow me.” Sam tells the rest:
“The impression that General Frank Cheatham made upon my mind, leading the charge, I will never forget. I saw either victory or death written on his face…as he was passing me I said, ‘Well, General, if you are determined to die, I’ll die with you.’”
“We were at that time at least a hundred yards in advance of the brigade, Cheatham all the time calling upon the men to come on. He was leading the charge in person. Then it was that I saw the power of one man, born to command, over a multitude of men then almost routed and demoralized.”
“I saw and felt that he was not fighting for glory, but that he was fighting for his country because he loved that country, and he was willing to give his life for his country and the success of our cause.”
The Rebels won the field that day, and General Cheatham and Sam lived to fight again.
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