* OFFICIAL *
- Mar 15, 2013
A Confederate battery succeeded in getting a position which enabled it to rake the whole length of the Thirteenth New York Volunteers as the men lay in line. In the regiment was one man - Connolly, of "B" company - an odd sort of genius, with a dash of the "Green Isle" in his nature, who though a capital soldier, was yet inclined to be just a trifle too indulgent to himself in one respect: he never would bear a burden, not even a weapon, when he could find a way to get rid of it. A short time previous, while on the march, he had succeeded in getting his Remington rifle rendered unserviceable by carelessly fastening it to a wagon, from which it fell under the wheels, and the value of it was charged to him upon the payrolls.
Just prior to the battle he received his new weapon. When the artillery opened, he was lying flat on the ground, his gun underneath him, the muzzle projecting a foot or so beyond his head, which was slightly elevated, "taking observations." The shells came in thick and fast for a few moments, and most of the boys hugged their mother earth pretty closely; but not so Connolly. He still kept on the lookout, cracking jokes as missile after missile flew by without doing any harm.
Presently a shell struck a slight elevation in front of the writer, ricochetted, struck again with a dull, heavy thud, and then glancing over the heads of the men on the left, exploded. When the shell struck for the second time, Connolly got up. He was obliged to do so, for the 12-pounder struck the muzzle of his rifle, ploughed a furrow underneath him the whole length of his body and gave him a most decided lift in life.
As he afterwards said, "he felt as if he had swallowed a barrel of powder and a friction primer." Of course, the concussion knocked the breath out of him, tore his clothing, bruised and lacerated his person, at the same time, reducing his Remington to a complete wreck. Everyone expected to see him fall dead, but for several moments he danced about, first upon one foot, then upon the other, meantime rubbing his stomach and gasping like a drowning person. "Lie down. Lie down you d___d fool, you!" (the situation demanded strong language) was shouted from every side, but Connolly paid no heed.
Presently he stooped over, keeping his stomach well in hand, picked up his dismantled weapon, which looked like Rip Van Winkle's after the twenty years' slumber, and continuing to caress his astonished front, hobbled up to his commanding officer and drawled out: "I say, Cap, will I have to pay for this d___d old gun?" The effect was irresistible; and high above the boom of cannon and hissing and screaming of shot and shell, went up "three cheers for Connolly" from half a thousand throats.
In response to the inquiry, he was ordered to the rear to repair damages, and reluctantly obeyed; but it was many a weary day before he fully recovered from what he called his "attempt to ride a 12-pound shell bare-back."
[Source: Excerpted from the article "Malvern: The End of the Seven Days" by John S. Slater, published in The National Tribune., September 10, 1881, page 3.]
John C. Connolly is the only member of the 13th New York with surname Connolly (or similar) who served in Company B. He was promoted to Corporal the day of the incident described above.
John S. Slater, the author of the article, served in G/13th NY