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2011 Battle at Crystal River

posted Mar 14, 2011, 5:20 PM by Matthew Rojas
Company F headed north after the skirmish at Fort DeSoto only to meet the enemy on another field of battle. On Saturday, March 12th, the Union 4th Brigade took rest from their long march along a fence line in a field just north of the town called Crystal River. As the infantry rest against the fence, Confederate cavalry advanced on us post-haste and surprised us. Company F and the Marine detachment quickly returned fire as Federal cavalry moved out to engage. On the left flank a couple of Confederate sharpshooters engaged us from behind a small clump of trees. Their muzzle-loaders were no match for our breach-loading Sharps rifles. Company F returned fire and when both Rebel sharpshooters fired their muskets, PVTs Briggs and Rojas quickly swept around the left side of the trees and captured the troublemakers. Minutes later, the Federal cavalry commander requested Company F's assistance in engaging the Confederate dismounted cavalry as the remaining infantry takes arms and reforms their lines. We began pushing back the cavalry when enemy infantry began to appear in the distance. As we were such a small force compared to the oncoming enemy infantry, we wisely broke contact and began to fall back to our main line as our cavalry remounted and returned to their post.

The Confederate soldiers pressed on as they exchanged volleys with our infantry. Our forward artillery pulled back from the fence line as the infantry held strong. Once the artillery was repositioned, the infantry began to pull back away from the fence line as the Confederates overtook it. The enemy pushed around to our left flank as we refused our line to keep them in front of us. Company F continued to defend the left flank as one of our cannon, manned by Anderson’s crew, came onto line on our left in time to help repel the flanking maneuver. Our forces began to push the Rebs back as they began taking heavy casualties. Enemy sharpshooters again fired onto our left flank. PVT Briggs tried to single-handedly eliminate the sharpshooters, but in doing so was wounded in the leg by one of them. A cease-fire was called to allow the roughed up Rebs to retrieve their wounded and retire from the field.

The 4th Brigade bivouacked in place for the night to recuperate and patch up the wounded. Sunday afternoon, Confederate cavalry reappeared from the wood line. Our Federal cavalry quickly moved out to meet the threat. After several cavalry charges from both sides, the cavalry dismounted and exchanged rifle fire as the artillery from both sides echo their mighty booms. Federal artillery fires from the right, then from the center. Enemy shells land dangerously close to our Federal infantry waiting to take the field as we get dusted by sand blasting into the air. Union infantry is called to reform the lines and take arms. The Federal artillery fires one last barrage, creating a small smoke screen, before allowing our infantry to pass through its lines. Cavalry regroup on the far right flank. Company F was placed on the right flank of the left wing as we advanced toward the Confederate infantry and artillery. The right wing comes online and Company F holds strong at the center of the Federal line as we fire on enemy artillery, picking them off one by one. The Confederate line begins to give on the left flank as a company retires from the field. Confederate infantry advances on the brigade’s right flank and retakes the fence line. Anderson’s artillery reinforces the federal infantry at the center in an attempt to push the enemy away from the fence.

The federal left wing begins to converge on the fence line pushing the Rebs back temporarily. The Rebel artillery fires into the infantry’s left flank as confederate infantry redeploy on our left flank again. A company is detached from our brigade to defend our left flank, leaving a large gap in the line for Company F to hold. Our brigade took heavy casualties as Anderson’s artillery is repositioned just to the right of Company F as the brigade begins to fall back. The gun crew is taken out one by one as they try to fire a final shot. The Confederate forces cut off the company defending the left as they advance on our lines. Company F continues to fire on the large body of enemy infantry, but is overwhelmed by the advancing Rebs. A volley drops 1st SGT Roesler and PVT Rojas. PVT Briggs takes cover behind PVT Rojas’ body but is incapacitated by the next Confederate volley, leaving a “pile of green” on the field. A cease fire is called and taps is sounded, ending the Battle at Crystal River.

PVT Matt Rojas
1st USSS, Co F
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