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Charge of the First Tennessee
at Perryville

With no stunning result save forcing the Confederates to abandon Kentucky once more, Perryville was a terribly bloody battle with the Confederates losing over 3000 men and the Federals suffering some 4000 casualties. Distinguishing itself on that "ensanguined" Kentucky battlefield was the First Tennessee, called the Kid Glove Regiment, as the unit primarily consisted of youths from Nashville and central Tennessee.

Far and wide on Perryville's ensanguined plain,
The thunder and carnage of battle resounded;
And there, over thousands of wounded and slain,
Riderless steeds from battle's shock rebounded.

Cheatham's division was fiercely attacking,
And proudly from his men rose cheer after cheer,
As before them McCook was sullenly backing,
Gallantly fighting as he moved to the rear.

On Cheatham's left, Stewart's guns roared and rattled,
And in the center, Donelson onward bore;
On the right, Maney's brigade charged and battled,
Valiantly driving the stubborn foe before.

‘Twas there, held in reserve impatiently lay;
The First Tennessee, the "Knights of the Kid Glove,"
Eager and chafing to join the bloody fray -
Help their brave comrades, and their own powers prove.

Soon was their impatient valor to be tried,
Soon were they to charge to the cannon's grim mouth -
Soon upon the battle's crimsoned wave to ride -
Soon to prove themselves worthy "Sons of the South."

For soon, at headlong speed, there came dashing down -
His steed flecked with sweat and foaming at the mouth -
The warrior-bishop - he of the "Sword and Gown" -
Who with like devotion served God and the South.

Every eye and ear of that gallant band,
Was eager turned to catch the old hero's words;
On the guns more firmly clenched was every hand,
And from their scabbards quick leaped two score of swords;
For all knew by the flash of the old chief's eye,
That he had hot work for every trusty gun;
And ready was each man to fight and to die,
In the bloody work then and there to be done.

A moment along their solid ranks he glanced,
And with just pride his eagle-eye beamed o'er them -
Assured by their firm main, that when they advanced,
No equal numbered foe could stand before them.
He noted the firm set lip and flashing eye,
And on their sun-burnt cheeks the brave man's pallor;
And knew they had the spirit to "do or die,"
For Southern honor and with Southern valor.

Then pointing towards the cannon-crested height,
Where Loomis' guns volleyed in death-dealing wrath,
He seemed as a war-god gathering his might,
To hurl missiles of destruction on his path,
And with a look that plainly said, "You must win,
For the sake of the Sunny Land that bore you,”
He shouted above the battle's fierce din,
"Forward! and carry everything before you!”

Forth they sprang, four hundred, less fifty, all told;
And as their ranks were thinned by iron and lead,
With true discipline, fearless courage, and bold,
They closed their files and rushed on over the dead.
Towards the height, bristling in hostile array,
With unwavering line the heroes rushed on -
Oh! truly was it a glorious display
Of courage - worthy the fame the "Old Guard" won.

All dressed by the right with veteran skill,
They moved on their way with step steady and true,
And guns at shoulder, to the foot of the hill,
As if on parade, for the "soldiers in blue."
But then their muskets spoke, their wild shouts leaped,
As before them, in rout, a regiment fled;
Many of which their bullets halted and heaped
In bloody confusion, the wounded and dead.

Now more dreadful the carnage volleyed and roared,
A volcanic crater the hill's frowning crest,
Down whose bloody sides, death's fiery lava poured,
Sweeping the young and the brave upon its breast.
Like sear leaves before the autumn blast" they sank,
But their undaunted comrades pressed on o'er them -
Pressed on, with quick, steady step and closed up rank,
Hurling death into the blue links before them.

Brave Loomis' support were veterans long tried,
And nobly did they second his fatal blows;
But their numbers and valor were all defied,
By the impetuous ranks of their Southern foes.
Loomis' gunners and horses went to the dust,
And his terrible war-dogs were hushed and still;
A few more quick bounds and a bayonet thrust,
And the "kid glove soldiers" had captured the hill.

But then came stern Rousseau, a Federal "brave,"
Rapidly sweeping down with his fine command,
And threw it like a torrent, wave upon wave,
Against the brave First's shattered and bleeding band.
But they met it as meets the breakers firm rock,
The wild, towering waves of the storm-lashed sea -
Met it to hurl it back with a fearful shock -
Back, like the foiled, rock-broken waves of the sea.

But just then the cry was passed along the line,
"They are flanking by the left! fall back! fall back!"
Ah! 'twas then more brilliant did their valor shine,
As with face to the foe, they retraced their track.
Proudly, their reluctant, backward way they bent,
With sullen, defiant mien, firm step and slow,
Sending back defiance and death as they went,
And moved more to the left in the plain below.

And then "forward!" was again the cheering cry,
And quickly did those noble Southerners respond;
They again sprang forward, and their shouts rose high,
As they swept the hill and the wide plain beyond.
And then, when the fierce, bloody conflict was o'er,
The heroes sank down with fighting sore wearied;
And wept that of their brave comrades, full ten score,
Were wounded or dead; but the height had been carried.

from War In The West p.128 edited by B.P.STEELE