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"How many men has your general got?" the rebel leader inquired.
"Oh, not many, only about seventy-five thousand," Higgins replied.
"How far back do his lines extend?"
"As far as Cairo, Illinois, and they are still being formed in the state of Maine."
"Well," General Pemberton observed sarcastically, "we'll have Grant in here as a prisoner tomorrow."
"I know," was the doughty Yankee soldier's reply, "General Grant will come in here tomorrow to ship you and your command to Altona, Illinois, where he has a big boarding house."
At this, General Pemberton got angry. "Sergeant," he exclaimed, "take this man away. He is insulting. He is impudent. He is insolent."
Thereupon, Private Higgins was led away, a few days later paroled, exchanged, and subsequently he returned to his regiment, where he remained until the end of the war.(2)
- Thomas J. Higgins, Private, Company D, Ninety-ninth Illinois Infantry, born in Franklin Co., New York, June 3, 1831.
- Deeds of Valor: from records in the archives of the United States government; how American heroes won the Medal of Honor, Vol. 1, Perrien-Keydel Co., 1907, pp. 198-200.
- See Medal of Honor Recipients, Civil War at http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/civwaral.html