Editor’s Note: Base transcription is from the CD-ROM version of The Confederate Veteran at Eastern Digital. Minor corrections were made by Brett Schulte.
The Battle Near Deep Bottom, Va. 1
BY J[ohn] W. LOKEY, BYARS, OKLA.
On August 16, 1864, the Federals, having been reenforced by troops moved from the south side of the James River, attacked our breastworks near Deep Bottom, Va., driving us out of the trenches and about four hundred yards back. Seeing reenforcements coming up, our forces rallied and, with the aid of these fresh troops, drove the enemy back and recaptured our works. As we were going into this fight, we met General Lee and staff coming out. Notwithstanding that bullets were whistling through the trees, the General was riding in a walk and seemed perfectly indifferent to danger.
Just as we got into the breastworks, Private [Young W.] Swinson of my company (Company B, 20th Georgia Regiment) jumped on the breastworks, saying: “Come on, boys.” These were the last words he ever spoke, as he fell mortally wounded. During this fight I heard only one cannon shot. The shell from it came over the breastworks near me and struck one man on the head, scattering his brains on several men near him. The same shell cut another man’s arm off between his shoulder and elbow, knocking him down. These men belonged to a different command.
As there were only three of our regimental stretcher bearers present, Captain [Henry C.] Mitchell, of my company, asked me to help take Swinson to the rear. We carried him some distance before we found an ambulance, in which we placed him. I never saw him again, as he died that night.
In passing through the woods on our way back, a wounded Yankee called to me to give him some water. He was lying on his canteen, which had water in it, and I got it out and gave him a drink, then placed his knapsack under his head. He was very grateful, thanking me several times, and said if he ever got well he was going to write his wife how well I had treated him; he also said this was the first fight he had been in, and that he had been told if he ever fell into the hands of the Rebs they would kill him. I told him that we were not savages, and we never hurt a prisoner; that later on we would have men looking after the wounded, and I had to hurry on back to the front.
I heard that we had a brigadier general killed in this fight, but have forgotten his name; was told that he was a very brave officer and the youngest brigadier in the army at that time.2
As this battle was fought mostly in the woods, I could see but little of it. I would like for some one to write of it for the VETERAN, giving particulars of the fight, troops engaged, and the losses on both sides.
I think General Lee was satisfied that this was a feint movement on the part of the enemy to cause him to move some of his troops to the north side of the James River. This was the last time I ever saw General Lee, though I was at the surrender at Appomattox.