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[101] Gen. Smith, whose coming, however, was most opportune; and when Gen. Smith was shot, Col. Elzey took command, and did at least his share to secure the victory.

When I entered on the field at 2 o'clock of the day of battle, the scene, as I have mentioned, was gloomy, for the battle was undecided, and the chances seemed against us, but I did not mention all that made it painful. In peaceful life we are not familiar with the scenes of war, and it has happened to me, at least, to have seen but little suffering from the casualties or combats of life. I had not, therefore, the advantage of familiarity, and just at once the scene was one to task the nerve of any man. At the first trench I came to, which was just beyond the range of bullets, lay one hundred, at least, in every stage of suffering and endurance. One had his leg shot off with a cannon ball, another had his arm broken, another had his jaw shot away. Col. Hampton met us with the appearance of having had a ball in his temple, and he said he had been insensible from the effects, but he hoped soon to be upon the field again. A few steps further on I saw a Palmetto boy with his under jaw shot off at the instant. I met Col. Shingler, riding before an ambulance, which, he said, contained the late lamented Gen. Bee. The General lay prostrate, and almost expiring, from the wound in his abdomen, which of necessity must prove mortal. A few steps further still, and there lay the helpless form of my late friend, Col. Johnson. Others there were — aged men, whose gray hairs proclaimed them sixty and more; boys whose young hearts yearned, I know, for softer hands and sweeter faces than were around them there. To this spot all had been impelled by the wounded soldiers' constant want of water. The stream, by the constant crossing, was so muddy, it was scarcely fluid, but they drank it; and, with the night approaching, through which they must either be under the cold sky or bear the jolting of a journey to Manassas, and without attendance or the certainty of medical attendance, they yet were cheerful, or, if not, enduring. No one added to the sufferings of others by exhibitions of his, and during the time I felt at liberty to stay — for the order came for all able to bear a gun to enter in the ranks for a final stand — I heard no solitary groan from any one.

But of all imaginable scenes of horror, the battle-field to-day excels. Upon the hills from which the enemy was last driven, still lay the dead they had not time to remove. Some had been buried by our own men, but the task was too repulsive, and the most of them were left upon the bare ground without a leaf to shade them, bloated, blackened, and rotting in the sun, for birds and insects to devour. And it was scarcely possible not to commiserate the fate of men who had offered up their lives for a country that would not show to them the cold charity of even a grave to lie in. Nor was it better with the poor starved wretches who had crawled into the storehouse upon the field of battle. Sick, famished, friendless, and without a home or country they could love or honor, it were scarcely better to be alive than dead. I spoke of the fact to Gen. Evans, in whose military department they are at present, and he promised to keep them from starving at least; but in the mean time the country people were coming in with offers of assistance, and one was taking one poor fellow off to his house at Brentsville.

Battles make singular developments. My friend, Dr. Shepardson, visiting the prisoners yesterday, found a college-mate among them. One of our soldiers found among them his own brother. Gen. Evans found among them Major Tillinghast, long known in Charleston, who had been his classmate — at the instant of recognition, Major T. was at the point of death, and died soon after; and also in a horse that was taken at Fairfax, the charger upon which he rode in the service of the United States. And Col. Mullins, in a customer that was skulking on the road to Centreville upon the evening of the battle, and whom he made his prisoner, the Hon. Mr. Ely, of New York.

There is a feeling of regret for all the gallant men who fell in this engagement, but for none more than for the gallant Bartow. He had gone into this war with such uncalculating zeal and fidelity to the great cause, and bore himself so nobly in the fight, that if there were the wish to, it were hard to withhold our admiration. When his horse was shot, he led the Eighth Georgia regiment, on foot, to storm a battery. This was cut to pieces, and retiring to put himself at the head of the Seventh, he asked of Gen. Beauregard what he would have him do. The General said, “There is the battery.” He started for it again. The color-bearer was shot down, when he seized the colors, and bearing them on, he received a shot in his left breast.

Nor less lamented is the death of Gen. Bee. He has been regarded as one among the best military appointments, and has won opinion in every act of his military life. He was first in the field to sustain our leading column at every succeeding crisis of the contest. He was present at the passage of the turnpike; at the gallant charge of the Hampton Legion; at the storming of the batteries; and at last fell near the fatal spot where also had fallen the gallant Bartow. Of his aids were Gen. Gist, Col. Shingler, and Major Stevens, who was slightly wounded, shared his pains, and remained to the further fortune of the contest.

Nor is less sympathy experienced for the sufferings of Gen. Smith. He came to stem the current of our backward fortunes, and leading his brigade to the very head of the flanking column, fell almost at the first fire, pierced through the breast with a grape shot. Hopes, however, are entertained for his recovery. On his staff were our townsmen, Col. Buist and Capt. Tupper, who were with him when he fell.


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