I came across an account by Pvt John Johnston, 14th Tenn Cavalry, in one of our library books at the First White House of the Confederacy, the “Journal of Confederate History, Volume 1, Summer 1988” that was quite fascinating. I will share a brief portion of it with you today, from his account of the Battle of Nashville.
He talked about how quickly the time passes while engaged in battle, so that he did not know how long the fight lasted, but suddenly the whole line broke, and went to pieces like a rope of sand. He says: “We now ran back to our horses as fast as we could, every man for himself…most of us made it to our horses in safety..The Yankees were firing at us from behind and all was excitement and confusion. I had great difficulty in mounting my wiry little sorrel as he was very restless and my feet were clogged with mud.
When I had gained my saddle and was about to ride away, John Holden, a boy from Somerville, Tenn. called to me and said his horse was gone. I told him to get behind me and I would take him off…”
It took several tries before John was able to mount, and by this time all their men had disappeared, but over to the right they saw the enemy. They managed to slip by them and then they saw a loose horse which his friend managed to catch and mount.
John goes on to say: “all the shouting and clamor had ceased and we rode quietly and undisturbed down this road for a mile or more when much to my surprise…we saw our infantry marching down it (the Franklin Pike) quietly, but apparently disorganized. Just then the clouds broke and the moon shed a brilliant light over the scene. While I sat my horse and saw this long line of infantry passing my heart sank within me, for, for the first time, I FELT MY CAUSE WAS LOST.”