Before I got through my conversation with him and the guard I heard the
attack on our line and hastened back to the front. He with the other
prisoners were hastily that night sent off to Atlanta, Georgia and kept
there till the following February when the converted man with three others
of the Brigade who were also under sentence of death for the crime of
desertion were brought back to Dalton, Georgia, where the army was then in
camp and were all four executed by being that with musketry.
Shooting 4 men for Desertion
It might not be out of place just here to give a brief account of the
military execution of these four unfortunate men. As already stated after
the army had fallen back to Dalton, Georgia and in camp there in the winter
of 1863-4 four men of the Brigade who had the previous fall been sentenced
to death by court martial for desertion were brought back to be executed.
Early one morning in February, orders were issued from brigade headquarters
to the regiment commanders to have their regiments in readiness to go out to
witness the execution of the condemned men.
So at the appointed hour, the entire brigade was marched out about one mile
from camp to an old field and formed in three sides of a square. One side
being left open. Rude coffins had been prepared for the condemned men and
they were taken out of the guard house and the men placed in an army wagon
A heavy guard placed around the wagons and they were driven out to the old
field and then the four wagons with the prisoner in each wagon sitting on
his coffin were driven slowly all around inside the line of the brigade.
After which they were driven to the open side of the square and the four men
were taken out and were required to sit down on their coffins about ten
feet apart facing the square.
Four squads, of nine men each had been detailed to do the shooting. These
squads were marched up about thirty feet in front of the prisoners. Then a
like number of squads with nine men each came up and took the guns from the
first squads and went off and loaded them and returned and handed the guns
to the original four squads.
In loading the guns, only part of the guns were loaded with balls, the
balance were loaded with blank cartridges. Then an army chaplain offered
Then an officer rode up in front of the condemned men and read the charges
and specification of the crime and the sentence of the court martial and
retired - then an officer rode up just in rear of the men who were to fire
the fatal volley (the men holding their guns at shoulder arms) and
gave the command Make Ready. Every gun came down in a firing
position. The next command was Take Aim. Every gun was leveled at
it's victim. The last and fatal command was Fire and in the
twinkling of an eye, every gun was discharged and four men lay dead on the
It might not be amiss to state just here, that I had not seen the converted
man from the time I talked with him in rear of our line at Missionary Ridge
in November, till he was brought back to Dalton to be executed. Just after
he, with his unfortunate comrades in crime were placed in position to
receive their doom, sitting on his rude coffin. I went to him and shook his
hand and asked him how he felt about his future, to which he responded in a
very calm way and said he was ready to meet his maker. After I had at his
request knelt by his coffin and offered a word of private prayer for him and
after he thanked me for my interest in his future welfare, I took his hand
and gave him a promise that I would meet him in that country, where there is
no wars or troubles and bade him goodbye.
Forty-three long years have come and gone since that tragic scene. Yet no
event in a life of more than three score and ten years is so indelibly fixed
on memory's page as the one I have just recorded. The bodies of these men
were placed in their rude coffins and placed in similar graves nearby their
place of execution.
I here and now, as I have done heretofore enter my solemn protest against
such cruelty. It is in my judgement a species of barbarism which should
have no place in civilized warfare. It has been, I know the military law of
all nations to give the death penalty to the crime of desertion, especially
when done in the face of the enemy when in action. It is the case in the
civil courts of the country when a man is brought into court for a crime
that involves his life or liberty, if he has no council, the state or court
is required to furnish him, so that he may have a fair trial. In military
courts in our army this was not so, so far as I observed. I think other
means of discipline would be as efficient as to kill men in such a barbarian
manner except in extreme cases.
I now return to my narrative of the Missionary Ridge battle.
On the night before the general attack of General Grant's 200,000 men, I
was in command of a picket line in the valley between Missionary Ridge and
the City. It was about two or two and half miles from the Ridge to the
Grant's right wing had attacked our forces on Lookout Point that evening and
the fighting continued all night.  I remember the
moon was in eclipse that night and it was quite cold and we were so
near the Yankee picket line, we were not allowed to have fires. The
broke our left flank on Lookout Point that night.
Early next morning the movements of Grant's army in our front (they were
in full view from our position on the Ridge). We were convinced that
they were getting ready to attack our whole line.
We had earthworks at the foot of the Ridge as well as on top of the Ridge
and for several days half of each regiment was kept at the foot of the Ridge
to do picket duty. The half of our regiment was at the foot of the Ridge
commanded by Major Dan Richards now of Columbus, Mississippi.
Grant advanced with three heavy lines of battle. Our picket line in which I
had been in charge during the previous night fell back before the advancing
column of the enemy to the works at the foot of the Ridge. By this time our
batteries on top of the Ridge had opened a heavy fire on the enemy and they
were firing as they advanced. And to retreat up the mountain to the top was
Major Richards and Lt. Richardson together with a member of those who had
been down there thought it too risky to try to gain the top of the Ridge in
the face of such a fire, so they remained and were made prisoners of war and
were not paroled till the surrender.
I told the men who were under me that day that they must be their own
general and take care of themselves. I had always had a most intense dread
of being captured and I decided I would try my luck in climbing the
mountain. It was quite steep and rugged from where we were to the top.
Fortunately, I reached the works at the top in safety and felt almost
certain the enemy could never reach the top in the face of our heavy
artillery fire with musketry fire also.
But while our artillery would cut down lanes in their advancing columns they
would close up and still advance. Just before the line in our front reached
us, we looked to our left where our line had been broken and the enemy had
captured one of our batteries and turned it down the down the line and
firing on us with our own guns. At this stage of the game everything turned
loose and stampeded down the mountain to the rear. And the whole army went
pell-mell across Chickamauga Creek and on toward Dalton, Georgia where we
went into winter quarters and remained till May 1864.
The enemy did not follow us after we so unceremoniously bid them Good
Night at the Ridge on the 25th of November 1863. 
The Yankee stampede at Chickamauga and our stampede at Missionary Ridge were
similar in many respects. Our loss in killed and wounded however were not
as great as theirs at Chickamauga. Our loss in captured was perhaps as
large, if not larger than any battle before that. This was the heaviest
blow our army had ever had, but I dare say that Grant had at least four men to our one and it was not therefore very humiliating.
In two or three days we reached Dalton, Georgia and went into camp there and spent the winter.
 Grant and Sherman did not unite with Rosecrans until after the Battle of Chickamauga.
 The organization is the same (Official Records, Serial 51, page 15, but the division, commanded first by Hindman then by Patton Anderson, was in the Left Wing with Lt. General James Longstreet as commander. Deas was in command of the brigade, Colonel McSpadden of the 19th Alabama; Lt. Colonel Weedon of the 22nd, but was killed, and the command devolved on Capt. Harry T. Toulmin; George D. Johnston (now Colonel), of the 25th Alabama; Colonel Whitfield Clark of the 39th Alabama; Colonel J. G. Coltart of the 50th Alabama (this had been the 26th, but there being another in Virginia numbered 26th, and older than this, it's number was changed to the 50th) ; Capt. J. F. Nabers of the 17th Alabama Sharpshooters; Capt. S. H. Dent of Dent's Alabama Battery (formerly Robertson's).
General Anderson in his report for the division (Official Records, Serial 51, page 317), says: "Deas swept everything before him without halting or even checking up in his advance to and over the enemy's first line of breastworks."
Deas (Official Records, Serial 51, page 331): I cannot close this report without testifying my high appreciation of the courage and daring displayed by the officers and men of the brigade which I had the honor to command on this ever memorable field. They here added fresh laurels to those already won on other fields in the sacred cause of their country.
The loss of the regiment was 15 killed, 95 wounded, 2 missing out of 350 going into battle (Official Records, Serial 51, page 338).
 The Battle on Lookout Mountain took place on the morning of the 24th of November 1863 and lasted through the day and into the night, but there was little fighting after 9pm, and the Confederates began to leave after night, only the soldiers confronting the enemy remained until 2am the 25th. See Stevenson's report (Official Records, Serial 55, pages 717-722); also Pettus' report (pages 731-733). Grant's army was not 200,000 strong.
 The enemy followed to Ringold and were there fought by General Patrick Cleburne, in which he badly beat the enemy inflicting a heavy loss on the 26th of November. See Cleburne's report (Official Records, Serial 55, pages 753-758).
The organization of the brigade on the 20th of November, just preceeding those engagements was the same, Colonel Johnston commanding the 25th Alabama, Anderson the division, Hardee the corps. But from Bragg's report (OWR, Serial 55, pages 664-667), Anderson was in command of Hindman's division on the 25th of November. Loss of regiment or brigade given only in that of division which was, killed 69, wounded 463, missing 1,088 (Official Records, Serial 55, page 684).