Historic Markers Across Alabama

The Battle for Decatur 9 - “Captain, We've Got It At Last”

Marker ID:  
Location: at the Rhodes Ferry Park at the end of Oak Street Northeast, Decatur, Alabama
County: Morgan
Coordinates: N 34° 36.823    W 086° 58.794
  34.61371666    -86.9799
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


"Captain, We've Got It At Last” - The Charge of the 14th U.S. Colored Infantry
“A Hard Nut to Crack”
— The Battle for Decatur —

As sharp shooting and artillery fire continued throughout the morning of October 28, Granger and Doolittle determined to launch an attack upon the Confederate battery at the edge of the Tennessee River, whose fire threatened the critical pontoon bridge. Chosen to make this assault was the 14th USCT. Colonel Thomas Jefferson Morgan recorded the preparations for this charge,"The men were stripped of all extra load, carrying only gun, accouterments, and canteen of water. They were cautioned that a battery was to be charged and taken, if only ten men survived to take it. They seemed anxious for the work.”

At precisely noon Morgan ordered the assault to begin. Captain Romeyn of Company B remembered:"…The order was at once given to charge, and with arms at the right shoulder 363 enlisted men and officers rushed to the assault. It required but little time to reach and go over the slight works, and driving off the artillerymen spike the guns and get the prolonges [ropes] down to haul them off. But before the guns could be moved the rebel infantry had charged, and after a hand-to-hand fight the colored soldiers abandoned the attempt and retired, bringing off their killed and wounded….” The fighting was intense, close, and personal. Colonel Morgan reported,"As Captain Rolph was retreating a rebel seized him by the collar, and paid the forfeit of life by a stroke from the captain's sword.”

Their mission successfully accomplished, having captured and disabled four Confederate cannon, the regiment fell back to Decatur's fortifications. Captain Romeyn recalled that,"…on its return [as the regiment] re-entered the works surrounding the town, the white soldiers mounted the parapet and gave it three rousing cheers. I shall never forget the glad look of my first sergeant as, marching by my side, he turned his fact to me and said 'Captain, we've got it at last.' Our victory was complete.”

Erected by City of Decatur. (Marker Number 9.)

End of The Battle for Decatur 9 - “Captain, We've Got It At Last”