Continue north about 20 yards until you are on the north side of
the tree shading the small monument. The modest Missouri monument was
built in May 1905 by two former members of Woodson's command, at their
own expense. You are standing on the final line held by the Confederates
preparatory to their successful charge. Once over the orchard fence, the
cadets lay down for about fifteen minutes, and for the first time in their
long advance they were able to return the Federal fire. The rain and smoke
by this time made visibility difficult. Colonel J. H. Waddell, 12th West
Virginia, described what could be seen from the Federal side.
At a given order they fell flat on the ground, and we could see nothing
but a gray streak across that meadow. Directly they arose on their knees,
and immediately a streak of fire and smoke flashed across that field, and
the bullets flew thick and fast through our ranks.
The Federal line was stretched from east to west about 350 yards to the
north of this position. The guns on the hill to the northwest symbolize
the batteries of Snow and Carlin. The single piece by the lone tree marks
the location of von Kleiser's Battery. The seventeen pieces Sigel arrayed
on the slope extended from the top of the hill at least down to the single
gun. Directly in front of this point and extending east to the interstate
is the part of the line occupied by the 34th Massachusetts. It approached
to within about 100 yards of this spot in its unsuccessful charge.
Its repulse marked the start of the Confederate assault. Lieutenant
Colonel Scott Shipp described the fortunes of the corps during this period.
The advance was thus continued until having passed Bushong's house,
a mile or more beyond New Market, and still to the left of the main road
the enemy's batteries, at 250 or 300 yards, opened upon us with canister
and case-shot, and their long lines of infantry were put into action at
the same time. The fire was withering. It seemed impossible that any living
creature could escape; and here we sustained our heaviest loss, a great
many being wounded and numbers knocked down, stunned, and temporarily disabled.
I was here disabled for a time, and the command devolved upon Captain H.
A. Wise, Company A. He gallantly passed toward. We had before this gotten
into the front line.
Continue north from this point about 320 yards to the end of the lane.
En route, notice the deep basin in the field west of the road. This
area was planted in knee-high wheat at the time of the battle and the ground
was totally saturated by the extended rains. The muddy surface restricted
the men to a slow walk and sucked their footwear off as they struggled
forward, hence the name for the area: "Field of Lost Shoes." As described
by Capt. Frank Preston in the Lexington Gazette, 25 May 1864,
The mud, which in many places was over the ankles, made it impossible
to advance faster than at a walk, and the enemy's artillery had fair range
all the while.
Cadet Wyndham Kemp recalled in a letter to Brig. Gen. James M. Goggin,
We had to cross a ploughed field where the mud was up to our ankles.
Here I remember that one of my shoes pulled off in the mud, and I went
through the rest of the "row" with nothing on one foot but a sock, and
I'm prepared to "Make affidavit" that there wasn't much of that.
Again, in the Gazette, Captain Preston recalled,
In the advance of this third position, we were subjected to a terrible
fire of artillery. When within four hundred yards of their line three of
our boys fell dead from the explosion of one shell—Cabell, Jones, and Crockett,
and fifty yards further on McDowell, from my company, fell pierced through
the heart with a bullet.
Cadet Gideon Davenport later recounted to Capt. Preston Cocke,
The bursting of shells about us was incessant, one of these passing
directly through our colors. . . . About this time we passed a group of
wounded soldiers who cheered us, but a shell, intended for us, burst in
their midst, and they were silent. Suddenly there was a crash in our front-a
great gap appeared in our ranks, and 1st Sergeant W. H. Cabell, privates
Wheelwright, Crockett, and Jones fell dead, and others were wounded. The
opening was immediately closed, and the line went forward in the best of
order. Nothing could have been finer done.
Cadet Kemp continued to General Goggin,
I remember here a circumstance that we, the Cadets, thought nothing
of, believing it unusual under like conditions, but which some of the old
soldiers, who saw it, afterwards applauded. In advancing under heavy fire
of shells and shot over the uneven and muddy ground, the wings of our battalion
pushed forward, making our line crescent-shaped. In order to correct this
our commandant gave the order he was used to give us on the parade-ground
at drill, that is to "mark time; and this we did under fire, until the
command "forward" was given.
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page created 20 December 1999