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[52] Lee, or the baptism of fire and of blood that awaited it. Of these history has already taken charge.

Benning's Georgia brigade next arrived, numbering not over one thousand men. It passed over the ground stained by the blood of the heroic Texans. Being a larger brigade, it produced more impression; but its advance exposed its right flank to a deadly tire from the troops south of the road. This checked its progress and inflicted upon it great loss. I soon had occasion to learn, too, that heavy masses were pressing by and beyond its left.

Next came the brigade with which this paper has more immediately to do. I was ordered to form to the left of the road also, in what seemed an old field, containing thirty acres or more. As the column wheeled into line, it passed immediately by a large group of horsemen, consisting chiefly of the corps and division commanders and their officers of the staff. But the central figure of that group — and the central figure of that larger group of famous men which the war between the States brought to the attention of mankind — was General Lee. The conception of his appearance in my mind to this day is that of a grand equestrian statue, of colossal proportions. His countenance, usually so placid and benign, was blazing with martial ardor. The lamb in his nature had given place to the lion, and his spirit seemed transfused through every one who looked upon him. It was impossible not to feel that every man that passed him was, for the time being, a hero. The formation was completed at a double quick step, and the instant that the last company sprung into line the forward movement began.

The open ground in front sloped gradually downward for two or three hundred yards, and then, by an abrupt declivity, it descended to a narrow swamp or morass, which, beginning near the Plank road, extended northward in a direction nearly parallel to my line. Beyond the morass the ground rose with a moderately steep ascent for several hundred yards, and was covered with trees and a scattering undergrowth.

At the command the men moved forward with alacrity, and with increasing speed, to the brow of the steep declivity referred to. Here the center and left regiments found themselves confronted by dense masses of the enemy, some of them across the morass and not fifty yards distant, some crossing it and others still beyond. My front rank fired a volley without halting, and the whole line bounded forward with their characteristic yell. The enemy were

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Fitzhugh Lee (2)
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