Originally known as the Molly Walton Guards because Molly Walton sewed the uniforms for them - The Molly Walton house still stands today in Mooresville, Alabama....
AS RELATED BY DR. WILLIAM O. SOWELL
I was born October 5, 1842. I enlisted in the war when I was
nineteen years old. Our company was organized at Cambridge Camp Ground about the later part of March, 1861, under the name of the 'Mollie Walton Guards'. Dr. W.T. Sanders was made captain; Dr. Thomas Thach, first Lieutenant; Nell Martin, second lieutenant, John B. Floyd, third lieutenant, and myself orderly sergeant.
On about the first of April, we left Limestone for Lagrange,
Alabama, where we entered the 35th Alabama Regiment, then being
organized, becoming known as Company D of the regiment. Captain
R.W. Robinson was made colonel. Lieutenant Colonel Ed Goodwin andMajor Hunt, whose given name I am unable to recall were also of us. They were professors at Lagrange College, and had much to do with having the regiment made up. Hunt was soon transferred to the Army of Virginia. Robinson after awhile went into another department of the service. Goodwin died later on. As these parted from us others took their places. We had Ives as colonel, Ashford as Lieutenant Colonel, and Dickson as Major. Colonel Ives, though severely wounded at Baton
Rouge, and shot in a dozen different parts of the body at the battle of Franklin, remained our Colonel unto the end. Of the old officers Captain Sanders was made surgeon of the regiment. Dr. Thach's health soon failing, he was discharged from the service. This made Nell Martin of Mooresville, captain which position he held unto the end of the war.
The Yankees had obtained possession of this part of the country. Learning of our regiment being formed, they laid plans to capture us. This made it necessary for us to leave LaGrange at once, which we did rather hurriedly late on Monday evening, April 14, 1861, without equipment or arms of any kind, and with the Yankees in close pursuit. But we succeeded in reaching Corinth Wednesday, April 23, 1862. We mreached Corinth at the time the army was undergoing reorganization
under General Bragg and everything was confusion. We were fast broken up as a regiment and the company was divided among other regiments, a thing which caused us much distress. But on April 26th, we were gathered together again and temporarily assigned to Gardner's Brigade and to Breckenridge's Division. We were with Preston and Breckenridge as brigade and division commanders until after the battle of Baton Rouge, August 5th, 1862, which was fought by our division and in which we lost a good many brave fellows.
Our regiment took part in the various skirmishes and minor engagement around Corinth and in the battle of Farmington, Friday, May 9th, here the enemy was utterly routed, throwing away Knapsacks and other accouterments as they sought to escape the yelling rebels.
Our army entered Corinth, May 29, 1862, and made a stop at Tupelo, Mississippi, until June 19, 1862. After the battle of Baton Rouge, General Rust was made our Brigade commander and General Lovell, our division commander. Under their command we fought the battle of Corinth, October 3-4, 2862. Corinth was strongly fortified and after hard fighting for two days in which our army lost heavily we were forced to retreat.
A short time after the battle of Corinth, General Buford was made our Brigade commander and Loring, our division commander. Buford was subsequently transferred to the cavalry service and colonel Scott, of the 12th Louisiana Regiment being ranking colonel, succeeded him. Scott and Loring remained our Brigade and Division commanders during the continuance of the war. The next battle of any importance in which my regiment was engaged was the battle of Baker Creek, May 16, 1863. It was a hard fought but useless battle in which we lost many a brave soldier. Being overcome by numbers we were ordered to retreat.
our division covered the retreat of Pemberton's army. he went into the fortifications of Vicksburg where he ordered Loring to follow him. But General Loring refused to take his men into the trap at Vicksburg. He took us closely pursued by the enemy around by Crystal Springs by means of an all night march. Across fields and through woods, as there was no direct road open for us, we carried our artillery as far as we could. But it was very dark and as we were marching through woods and swamps, we finally had to abandon it. Our wagon train was shot up in Vicksburg with Pemberton's army, so we were without provisions, having nothing but our knapsacks and cartridge boxes. We reached Jackson, Mississippi, late on the evening
of May 20th, but marched for five miles over the Canton Road and reported to General Joe Johnston whose headquarters were at Canton.
The next day we were marched back to the vicinity of the bridge over Big Black River, and marched and counter-marched around there for several days, waiting to hear the sound of Pemberton's guns. He had been ordered to cut his way out of Vicksburg and we were to attack the enemy in the rear. But Pemberton(traitor that he was, as I shall always believe)surrendered on the 4th of July, and we fell back to Jackson, followed by the enemy. There was almost constant fighting
night and day from July 9th to the 16th. At eleven o'clock on the night of the 16th, we began a noiseless march eastward along the line of the Southern railroad.
Our command took part in no more regular battles in Mississippi. From there we were transferred to Joe Johnston's Army of the Tennessee, which was at Dalton, Georgia, sometime in April, 1864. I was in all the fighting and skirmishing from Dalton to Atlanta--the fights at Pesaka, Kennisau Mountains, Marietta, and so on.
After General Johnston was removed from his command of the army at Atlanta, and the appointment of Hood in his place, I was in all the skirmishes and battles during the seige of Atlanta, including the severe battle of Peach Tree Creek on our left, which was fought on July 22 and also the hard fought battle on our left on July 25th. We were confined to the trenches which were about knee deep in stagnant stinking water, with the hot sun pouring down by day, and where the
least movement would lay you liable to a shot from the enemies sharp shooters. At night all hands had to work to strenghten our breastworks. it was a terrible time. Finally the end came and we gave up Atlanta and fell back to Palmetto Station. Here we stayed a short time and then started for Tennessee, September 29, 1864. On our northern movement through Georgia and northern Alabama, after the evacuation on Atlanta, we captured quite a number of yankee garrisons. Big Shanty and Dalton were among the number. At those places we had some hard fighting. In what we supposed to be a fort at Decatur, Alabama, October 26 and 28th, our regiment suffered a great
deal. As we approached this place, which was strongly fortified, our regiment was the advance guard of the army, and my company--Company D and Company B--the advance guard of the right. These two companies waded Flint river on the morning of October 26th after we had a dark, rainy, and muddy march the day before, and stood picket beyond it until the pontoon could be put down for the rest of the troops to cross over, and then we were thrown forward to skirmish with the yankees. They were calvalry forces and offered but little resistance. By a little strategy we drew them into the ambush we had formed, and could have secured them had not half of our guns failed to fire from
having been rained on so much after they had been loaded. But we emptied a good many saddles, as it were, and they had about the hardest retreat I ever witnessed. At this junction our entire regiment was formed into a skirmish line for the brigade, and began to encounter the infantry picket of the enemy in the grove surrounding the house of Col. Gibbs. We fought all around the house and behind fences. I remember charging right through the porch of the Gibb's house. We followed the enemy, pushing very close to the fortification around Decatur. Here we were ordered to lie down and
await further orders. A battery of our field artillery was planted in our immediate rear and a duel was engaged in with the yankee heavy guns until night set in, there being quite heavy firing of muskets in the meantime. Our position was exceedingly exposed one, being in an open field, and we suffered the loss in killed and wounded of some of our best men. We drew off from Decatur on October 29th, and went to
Tuscumbia to make arrangement for crossing the Tennessee river which was finally accomplished. After various skirmishes and hard marching, we succeeded in cutting off a portion of the enemy's force at Columbia. But through some misunderstanding, allowed them to move quietly along the pike and through our lines and unite with their army at Franklin. We followed and engaged in the battle of Franklin. The enemy was heavily fortified while our troops fought without covering at all. This was the hardest fought battle our troops had yet engaged in, and according to history, the heaviest loss of life took place than any battle of the war, considering the number of
troops engaged. Hood simply sacrificed the army of the Tennessee in the battle of Franklin. After the battle it took what had once been a regiment to make a company, and a brigade to make a regiment. The colonel of my regiment was shot in sixteen different places, but is living yet, or at least was the last time I heard of him.
After the battle of Franklin, we followed the enemy onto Nashville, where somewhere in the later part of December, we fought the two-day battle in front of Nashville. At this two-day fight our division was stationed in line of battle on the left of Granny White Pike. We were in line of battle on the brow of a hill behind a rock fence. Our men stretched out only one line deep with about six feet interval between each man. In our immediate front was a wide bottom. The enemy advanced on us in the line of battle eight lines deep, with negro
soldiers in the front line. Here we fought nearly all day, repulsing several of their charges and literally covering the ground with their dead and wounded. Along toward noon they broke our line on the extreme left, toward the river, and gained our rear. I could look up the lines and see our men falling back by companies and brigades at a time. The enemy in our front, heavily reinforced, charged again. They were soon in possession of the rock fence. Mixed all together, both
sides used the bayonet and the butt of the musket in a hand-to-hand fight. Then it was every man for himself. How I got out I hardly know.
Immediately back of the line of battle was a level plateau for some two or three hundred yards to the foot of a high hill or mountain that rose abruptly and very steep, with great rocks, and covered with a growth of stump pine and oak. I had reached the top of this hill. A soldier belonging to the artillery came along riding one of the artillery horses and leading another. I asked him to let me ride the horse he was leading. He threw me the line and kept on. I was so exhausted that it was sometime before I could succeed in mounting the horse, and all the time bullets were cutting all around me and the yankees crying out to halt and surrender. After I had mounted the horse I could not get him to bulge on account of his being an artillery horse and used to certain commands, that I knew not how to give. So I had to abandon him and make the best of my way on foot. I finally got to Columbia. Here I found my servant. But he had lost my saddle. It was pouring down rain. Hood's army, what was left of it, was making for Bainbridge on the Tennessee River. So in company with Billy Cain, his brother, and Lou Emmett whom I met up with, we started out in the rain, got home at Athens, Alabama, about three o'clock that night. The next morning the report came that the yankees
were out at Piney Creek coming from Huntsville, to cut off the
stragglers from Hood's army. So I started off again, and after
various hardship, was lucky enough to get in with some engineers who had a flat-boat. Here I was joined by my brother Jimmy and Capt. Dan Coleman. We succeed in getting the engineers to take us aboard the flat boat with our horses. We floated down the Elk river onto and across the Tennessee. The next day was Christmas and a glorious one it was. I stayed a day or two within the vicinity of Courtland to rest and then started to overtake the army. When I arrived at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I reported to General E.A. O'Neal who was in command there. He gave me written order which I have in my possession
to proceed back to North Alabama and collect up all the men belonging to the army of the Tennessee, with headquarters at Newburg, to mount them as fast as I could; and then rejoin the main army. I started for North Alabama the next day. Just as I was leaving the mountain and going into the valley, I heard shots. A woman came out of the little cabin by the roadside. Seeing I was a Confederate soldier, she told me I was riding right into the Yankees. She hid me in a cave, hid my horse for me, and fed me for two days, until Wilson's Cavalry left the valley. I then went on to Newbury and succeeded in collecting
about sixty men belonging to various Alabama regiments. They elected me Captain. Of course, it was almost impossible to mount the men, both armies having recently passed through and made a clean sweep of all stock. About the time I had succeeded in mounting most of my men the collapse came. I remained in camp at Newbury until all the armies had surrendered. Then I took my men to Decatur, Alabama, to
Surrender. When I arrived at the picket line, they told me I could not bring my men into Decatur; but I could come in alone, be paroled, and then go back and parole my men. This I did. I have my parole yet. I was paroled May 16, 1865, and I think we were about the last of the Confederates to surrender.