Stand Fast! The Pioneer Brigade

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The Battle of Stone’s River, Murfreesboro: This battle line of untried road builders held fast and stopped the massive Confederate assault.

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On came the sounds of battle struggling blue-coats falling back came into view through the trees. They were loading and firing as they retired they passed over our line and laid down behind it. The order Battalion, rise up! came like an electric shock. The brigade was by some mischance short of ammunition; some companies had not more than 20 rounds. The Confederates were near at and. Suddenly their line seemed to burst through the thicket just in front. Commence firing! and our volleys were fired into them. Men were dropping here and there, and others filled the vacant places.

In the Army of the Cumberland, a brigade of pioneers handled all the armys pick, shovel, and ax work for building roads and bridges. Officers picked two men from every company of every regiment in the army for this duty. Many of the men who lined up to fight here on this knoll had been carpenters or miners in civilian life.

What they had never done before was train to fight as a unit. Their leaders did not know if they would stand and fightor break and run. This battle line of untried road builders held fast and stopped the massive Confederate assault.

Henry Freeman, orderly sergeant, 3rd Battalion, Pioneer Brigade

December 31st, 1892 Late Afternoon

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