Brig. Gen. Roger A. Pryor, during the battle between Gen. Pope and the Confederates, near Manassas, in August, 1862, had the misfortune to be taken a prisoner, but the corresponding good fortune to escape.
He had started off on foot to call up two or three regiments for reinforcements, and on his return found his command moved from the position in which he had left it. Thinking it had gone ahead, he too went on, wondering all the time where his men were, until he suddenly encountered two Yankee soldiers, sitting at the foot of a hay-rick. His uniform being covered by a Mexican poncho, they did not observe that he was not one of their own men; nor was there any mark visible upon his person to indicate that he was an officer.
They accordingly familiarly inquired how everything was going on in front. He replied, “Very well," and in the conversation which ensued, learned that he was a mile and a half within the Federal lines. They asked him numerous questions, under some of which he began to quake and grow uneasy, fearing his inability, good lawyer though he is, to cope successfully with a cross-examination of such a dangerous character. He accordingly began to look about him to discover some means of escape. There was apparently none. He observed standing near him, however, the two muskets of the men, one of them with a bayonet, and the other without.
The colloquy had not proceeded much further before one of them, looking at him keenly, asked him to what regiment, brigade, and division he belonged; and as Pryor hesitated and stammered out his reply, the Yankee sprang to his feet and exclaimed: "You are a —rebel, and my prisoner." In an instant, the General, who is a powerful man and as active as a squirrel, seized the gun with the bayonet, and, before his antagonist could turn, ran him through the body twice. The other now jumped to his feet, apparently as if to escape, but he also received from Pryor a lunge that left him helpless on the field. Throwing down the musket, the General moved rapidly away in the direction from whence he came, and after dodging Federal stragglers for an hour or two, had the satisfaction of finally regaining his command.
Anxious to know the fate of the two men whom he had so summarily disposed of, he sent one of his aids the next day to examine the hospitals in that neighborhood, and ascertain, if possible, whether any men were present wounded with a bayonet. The aid returned with the information that he had found one so injured. Whereupon Pryor mounted his horse, and went in person to see him. The man was asleep when he entered the hospital, but the surgeon awoke him, and the General asked if he recognized him. "Yes, sir, I do," was the reply. "You're the man who stuck me." The wounded man was not less surprised when he learned that the author of his misery was the redoubtable Roger A. Pryor.
[In the Official Records, General Pryor reports: “In the progress of the action I had the misfortune to be separated from my command by a circumstance to which I allude only in explanation of my absence. Returning from a search after two of my regiments, which in the confusion of the fight had become detached from the brigade, I advanced unconsciously beyond the enemy's line and was a while detained in my embarrassing position. Eventually, however, I was so fortunate as to effect my escape and rejoin my command. – MpG]
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