The following is from C.I. Walker, 10th SC, Manigault's Brigade.
Hd. Qrs. S.C.Regt. Near Florence,
Nov. 16, 1864.
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I have been very anxious to write to you for two or three days past, but business and rain prevented me. I am a member of a General Court Martial
N.B. – I well remember one of the cases brought before our Court. A young man in the uniform of a Lieutenant of U.S. Cavalry was brought before us, and it was proved that he was a deserter from a Mississippi Regt. He made no
defence. The Court could only condemn him. Perhaps thirty years after I accidentally learned the detailed circumstances of his capture, and I don't think if I had known them at the time I would have voted for his conviction – not that he did not technically deserve it, but his heroism would have excused him. I learned this from a man who was serving on the pontoon train. The
Confederates had thrown a pontoon bridge across the Tennessee River near Florence. In building such a bridge a rope cable is stretched across the river and to this cable the pontoons are attached and on the pontoons the roadway is laid.
If this cable is severed or breaks, the whole bridge goes. The Federal Lieut. whom we tried, was of a force of Yankee Cavalry on the banks of the river above the Bridge. The Lieut. taking a hatchet in his mouth, swam and floated with the current down to the bridge, with the purpose of cutting the cable and destroying the bridge, and at least delaying the crossing of the Army. The poor
fellow was exhausted by his long swim having on all his clothes, and drifted up against one of the pontoons on which there was a man of the pontoon train, who
drew him aboard. The man was of the Lieutenant's old Confederate Regt., and recognized him. It was a brave and gallant, though reckless, deed and it was the irony of fate that when almost accomplishing his purpose, to fall into the hands of one of his old comrades and be recognized as a deserter .