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[595] battle the vacant space between Fort Magruder and the redoubt to its right. The Federal skirmishers advanced against this part of the line, and took position in some timber which had been cut down the past winter. They opened a destructive fire upon the regiment by which several were killed and wounded-among them Major Payne, very severely. He was conveyed to a hospital in Williamsburg, and fell into the enemy's hands when the Southern army withdrew. Finding that the cavalry could not cope upon terms of advantage with sharpshooters thus posted, the regiment was relieved by infantry and moved further to the right of the line of battle.

After the battle of Williamsburg the Confederate army continued its retreat on Richmond, the cavalry protecting the rear. The Black Horse participated in the dangers and hardships of this service, in performing which they were compelled to subsist on parched corn. Near Hanover Court-House, while on picket duty, the Black Horse assisted in checking the pursuit of General Branch's North Carolina troops by Fitz John Porter, who had overpowered and badly worsted them, and in this effort lost many men wounded and prisoners. The command took part in Stuart's raid around McClellan's army as it lay before Richmond, which was esteemed at the time a brilliant and hazardous feat, and participated in the fight at the old church in Hanover, where the gallant Captain Latane was killed.

The regiment to which the Black Horse was attached was now, for a time, camped near Hanover Court-House, and while here an interesting incident took place. An English officer, who warmly sympathized with the Southern cause, presented, at Nassau, to a captain in the Confederate navy a rifle of beautiful workmanship, which he desired him, on his return to Richmond, “to present to the bravest man in the Confederate army.” The naval officer, embarrassed by the scope of his commission, and not knowing, to be sure, where he should find the bravest soldier in the Southern army, thought he could best fulfil his commission by giving the rifle to Captain Robert Randolph, to be by him presented to the bravest man in the Black Horse Cavalry. But Captain Randolph was as much embarrassed in the execution of this commission as the naval captain had been, for how was it possible for any one to say in that command who was the bravest man2 Robert Martin was the first sergeant, and in that capacity had displayed the highest qualities of a soldier, and had, in consequence, won the esteem and respect of both men and officers. Robert Martin, too, was foremost in every fight. He appeared to court danger for itself, and it seemed there was nothing he so little valued as life. To him, by general consent, therefore, the rifle was awarded as “the bravest of the brave.”

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Robert Randolph (2)
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