Marshall M. Clothier — Incident in the Action near Bynum’s Mill

Incident in the Action near Bynum’s Mill, La.
Red River Campaign, May 1, 1864

By Sergt. Clothier, Co. F

After many hours marching and skirmishing in the early morning, the Confederates environed us on all sides. They forced the fighting and were repulsed. In a counter charge by our command, the writer and Capt. Rice, being on an unobstructed roadway, were soon in advance of all others. Capt. Rice, either to remedy this, or for other good reason, stopped suddenly. A moment later, missing the Captain and thinking him hurt, I halted, and looking back from my right shoulder (close to an Osage Hedge), I got a glimpse of the heads of horses and mules, lined behind the Hedge fence. A quick glance to the earth, I saw men in gray lying prone upon the ground. Discretion (sorely taxed) admonished me not to appear to realize the situation — to do so would be almost certain death. (‘Tis said, a drowning man will grasp at a straw).

I thought if die I must, I will face the bullets. Therefore, turning my horse’s head to the enemy and feigning not to notice them, I backed swiftly perhaps six rods, and while in the act, succeeded in halting and holding six men — George Frink, bearer of the Squadron guidon was one of these.

I instructed the men not to fire till commanded to do so. Suddenly, the Confederates arose from the earth (20 in all). Backing their animals a few paces, they fired a volley — all apparently at me. I can never forget the sensation as my eye caught the sheen of leveled guns. Very fortunate for me the shrubbery confused the shots. One ball graced my horse’s head, one the pommel of the saddle, one my haversack, one my boot-heel, one cut a strap to my belt, another ( a piece of steel rod) cut my sabre and scabbard in twain. And a buckshot clipped my right ear.

M. M. Clothier, Sergt. Co. F.
Jan. 1, 1905

An Incident of 17th of May, 1864

As rear guard, the regiment was engaging the Enemy in broken fields, ravines, old rail fences, and dwarf scrub oaks. A soldier named Hilman [sic: Fordyce L. Hillman] of Co. C  had a horse shot under him. A few minutes later, we were deployed on foot — horses led to the rear. Hilman, having no horse, was ordered to stand to horse (a set of four). He jokingly retorted, I want to go back and shoot the man that shot my horse. He was permitted to go forward into line.

We took a position among the young oaks — were ordered to cover as best we could, not to fire until commanded to. In the rush for position, the command was mixed a little. The writer was right guide of two or more Companies. I well remember Co. A was to my right, and was the extreme right of the line. The enemy pressed us hard and for some cause, a Squadron swung back so that my Squadron had to contend with both a front and flank attack. I was in an awkward predicament — kneeling, but without cover — when I heard a voice above the din of battle.  “My God, the boys are giving ground.” Instantly, and in stentorian tone, a cry, “D—d if they are, keep an eye on Clothier. He’s the guide.”

Naturally, I turned my eyes to the left whence came the appeal to stand fast. Young Hilman just then arose and stood erect, a fine specimen of physical manhood. His voice was heard, perhaps fifty feet away. Turning his face to the left (his next man was Jacob Amsden), he called distinct and clear, “Good-by, Jake.” Then swung to the right (his next man was [Wells] P. Taylor), in like manner he cried, “Good-by, Taylor,” then fell forward — Dead. A bullet had pierced his heart. Amsden was killed next day. Taylor is still living and will bear me witness in this narrative.

M. M. Clothier, Jan. 1, 1905. Sergt. Co. F

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