16 May 2014

"Had Dutton's nerve for a second wavered,....perhaps the result of the battle [would have] changed."

From An Army Life: From a Soldier's Journal, 1861-1864 by Albert O. Marshall (Joliet, IL: Self-published, 1883).  Here is an excerpted portion of the soldier's account of the Battle of Cache River, July 7, 1862, Woodruff County, Arkansas --
.....This second charge was soon broken by our accurate, telling fire. In a spasmodic form it continued.  The fight became continuous. Heavy forces of the enemy were in front of us; some upon our flank, and often many were, by their fierce ride, carried through to our rear. It was fighting all around. Every few minutes a desperate band of rebel cavalry would rush upon us. During one of these fierce charges a powerful rebel, upon a superb horse, came dashing through our lines at the head of his band. The first man he reached was Sergeant Dutton of our company. Dutton had just fired and was reloading his rifle. Seeing his advantage the athletic rebel drew his heavy saber and with a cry of desperate rage went fiercely on to strike and ride the Union soldier down. None of our boys within reach had at that critical moment a loaded gun so as to fire and save Dutton from his threatened doom, and besides, just about this time each of us had about a dozen rebels of his own to attend to and was kept mighty busy dodging out of reach of rebel balls while putting each fresh load in our rifles. Being just then near a fence which blocked his retreat, with an open space of ground in front of him, giving the rider an unobstructed way, no escape seemed possible and Dutton's doom seemed at hand.  Just as the fatal blow was about to fall, the little sergeant whipped a revolver from his belt, without moving a single step, and fired. The uplifted hand fell helpless, the bold rider dropped dead to the ground, and the riderless horse passed on through our lines and out of sight to our rear. Had Dutton's wonderful nerve for a second wavered, had he even given a single glance to look for a way of escape he would have been a dead man, and perhaps the result of the battle changed.
Late on in his journal the author recalled that the soldiers of Company "A" voted 20-4 to elect Sgt. Dutton there next Second Lieutenant.  Go on further in the journals, and we discover Dutton has been promoted to Captain!  And he was still looking out for the welfare of the men serving under him.

This soldier "Dutton" is my 2xg-grand uncle Harvey James Dutton (1836-1928).  We are duly proud.

Copyright © 2014 by Kevin W. Walker

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