Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bravery of Gen. Lauman

The correspondent of the World gives the following account of the heroic conduct of Gen. [Lauman] and his Brigade on the eventful 6th of April:


On the right the enemy were repulsed three [sic] several times by Sherman and McClernand, who in turn were forced back also. About noon the enemy abandoned our centre – Gen. Hurlbut never having budged an inch before him – and flung himself in force upon our left in command of Col. David Stewart, acting Brigadier General of the Douglas Brigade. They were outnumbered and over powered, and fell back.

Gen. Hurlbut then advanced Gen. Lauman’s brigade to the left, also a battery of artillery, and the enemy pressed on to the attack. Gen. Lauman’s brigade, composed at the time of only seventeen hundred men, bravely and firmly received and withstood the shock, and returned the enemy’s fire with slaughterous effect. Gen. Hurlbut informed Gen. Grant that He must have reinforcements, and was informed that none could be spared for him.


Having but ten rounds of ammunition left, Gen. Lauman advised the Forty-fourth Regiment of Indiana Volunteers, which by this time was reduced to less than three hundred men, to advance upon the enemy. This order is deserving of italics and immortality. It was the most daring and adroit piece of strategy of the battle. To hold the position was impossible, to retreat was to be destroyed and, in addition, to lose the batteries at the landing about a mile in the rear. This critical situation Gen. Lauman saw and comprehended. It was a situation to unnerve even a cool man. As I stood upon the spot, the thrilling scene passing before my imagination, I shuddered from head to foot. And Gen. Hurlbut is said to have exclaimed at the spectacle of this three hundred marching coolly into the face of fifteen regiments, “a gallant but rash movement!” expecting to see the little band literally wiped out.

The poor fellows saw the peril of the step they were about to take, and for an instant hesitated. It was but for an instant. Maj. Albert Heath, one of the staff officers, seized the regimental colors and advanced to within two hundred yards of the [enemy] crying, “Remember Buena Vista!” and with a storm of huzzas, the gallant fellows obeyed, made a line at their flag, and charged upon the enemy, who fled in dismay. Ten thousand fled in dismay before three hundred. The enemy imagined a powerful force behind them. After expending the tenth and last cartridge, Gen. Lauman quietly and orderly withdrew his troops one mile, when he formed again, and after a two hours’ fight, again repulsed the enemy, who outnumbered him at least three to one. – By this time darkness put a period to the hostilities, Sherman and McClernand having maintained their original position.

Third Brigade, Gen. Lauman, went in with 1,727. – Killed, 78; wounded 378; missing 16. Total, 472

It fought 15,000 of the enemy five hours, and retreated with such fine strategy as to completely baffle and confound the enemy.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, May 3, 1862, p. 1

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