Williamson's Hill


It is possible if you are in a private automobile to drive to the final assembly areas of Wharton's Brigade, occupied before the attack. Turn south from the Tourist Association parking lot and drive .8 mile along CR 619, which parallels the Interstate. Go to the first dirt driveway on your left, just before the white frame house. Make a "U" turn in the driveway and halt on the side of the road. The driveway is a private road; do not block it, and be alert to traffic as you turn. Your route has taken you along one side of Shirley's Hill and behind it.

The Confederates left US 11 about a half mile southeast of this point and marched to the southern base of Shirley's Hill. The 30th Virginia Battalion and 51st Virginia advanced north onto the slope of the hill and moved around to give the impression of greater strength. The cadets took up a position along the fence line extending east from the driveway where you turned. The 26th Virginia Battalion took up the line farther east, out onto the flats extending to the Pike, where it linked with Echol's Brigade. Breckinridge came up to this part of the line and encouraged the cadets, as recalled by Cadet Howard.

We were ascending the slope of the long hill with the ridge in view, and our next stopping place was after crossing a fence several hundred yards below this ridge and out of the range of all hostile fire. At this point ti Confederate lines began their advance. . . . When the cadet battalion reached this position by the fence, it was put in to fill a space, and became then part of the second line of battle, halting with the other troops while they watched the advance of the first line of battle over the ridge in front. Just at this point, General Breckinridge, in command of the Southern troops, rode up with his staff and halted near. He was greeted with something of a cheer, and said to the battalion of cadets: "Young gentlemen, I hope there will be no occasion to use you, but if there is, I trust you will do your duty." The instant thought in my mind was: "What do you mean by that? Here we are, a part of the second line, and if it advances, we will have to advance with it." My thoughts, however, had nothing to do with the situation, and I was engaged, like the rest, in watching the advance on the first line of battle, some hundreds of yards away, that was moving over the high crest of the hill. We had heard in some way that the range from point to point of artillery had been obtained by the Federals all along where they thought the battle was likely to be fought. This was probably true. At any rate it was true as to that particular hill, and we saw the bursting of a number of shells as the first line passed over. I think there was but little damage done by this fire. Return .8 mile to the Tourist Association.
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page created 20 December 1999

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