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Sally Port and South Rifle Pit (13 on map)

Tour Stop

Directions: Although it no longer exists, there was a sally port leading to the south rifle pit [ Waypoint = N37 37.161 W90 38.396 ] located around the middle of the southern wall of the fort.

Federal Brigadier-General Thomas Ewing, Jr. (National Archives) Description: Extending southward from this spot for about 156 yards was the south rifle pit. During the battle on September 27th, units from the 47th Missouri Infantry manned the south rifle pit. In his official report, Brigadier-General Thomas Ewing, Jr. wrote about the changes he ordered made to Fort Davidson earlier that year. [114]

"Early last summer I sent competent engineers to select another site, but such are the difficulties of the position no practicable place could be found any more defensible. I therefore had the roads leading up the hills obstructed, cleared the nearest hill-sides of timber, and put the fort in a thorough state of defense by deepening the ditches, strengthening the parapet, and adding two rifle-pits leading north and south, commanding the best approaches."

The men in the south rifle pit were exposed to enfilading fire from the Confederates on Shepherd Mountain. Earlier in the day Captain P. I. Powers, Company H, 47th Missouri Volunteer Infantry, had ordered some timber laid across the rifle pit with blankets thrown over the timber. [115]

By mid afternoon on September 27th, the men in the south rifle pit had withdrawn into Fort Davidson. Private Azariah Martin, Company H, 47th Missouri Volunteer Infantry, later described the action experienced by the Federals manning the south rifle pit. [116]

"About two o'clock p. m. … all at once the Confederate guns opened on us from the spur of Shepherd's Mountain east of the crest. The first shot cut uncomfortably close to our heads and struck in the rifle-pit between Captain Adair's feet, causing him to jump high in air. He ripped out an oath and with his company, F, of the Forty-seventh Missouri, broke for the sally-port and through it into the fort … I saw the whole side of Shepherd's Mountain become fairly black with the mass of the enemy, who came rushing down upon the flat toward us … We, from behind our blanket cover, delivered a sharp left oblique fire into the thickest mass of the enemy we then could see rushing down the mountain side; and then we ran for the sally-port and into the fort. We already had run unnecessary risk in remaining there in such an exposed position to no purpose."

Sergeant H. C. Wilkinson, 47th Missouri Volunteer Infantry, was one of the fort's defenders in the south rifle pit. He described the assault on Fort Davidson by Marmaduke's Division. [113]

"A fearful task was before us. Two-thirds of the circumference of the fort,—east, south, and west,—were surrounded by a dense mass of infantry, their guns were still hurling shot and shell at the fort from the heights beyond, and out of the west and northwest came Slayback and Freeman, with a dark cloud of cavalry, to cut us down if we attempted to escape. As I came in (from the south rifle-pit) I saw the stately form of General Ewing, his arms folded, his mouth tightly closed, and his face slightly pale, but firm as a 'stone wall.' He was walking erect from side to side, looking here and there at the surging mass around us …

"I could see Captain Campbell, Adjutant Murphy, and other gallant officers, rushing from side to side and using all the power that was in them to direct and encourage the boys who were then down on their knees at the parapets, pouring lead into those charging hosts of the enemy. Oh, but it was hot there!"

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