------'s brigade, which preceeded the brigade of regulars, “broke,” and ------'s regiment came rushing back right through their ranks, but the “colors” were ordered to the front, and the officers called on the men to “stand firm,” and so great was their courage and discipline that not one of the regulars disobeyed the command and joined in the flight.
All day they held their slight breast-works there, although they were heavily assaulted repeatedly, by thrice their numbers.
They bivouaced on the battle field that night, and the next day the brigade received official thanks from Lieutenant-General Hardee
, who published a complimentary order that was read out to the whole corps, which spoke of their “iron firmness and measureless gallantry
Thus did the First Regiment for the third time
receive public thanks for its admirable conduct and devotion to duty.
Some years after the war had ended General Hardee
met one of the officers in New York, he shook him cordially by the hand, and then said to him, “You were one of the South Carolina Regulars who fought at Bentonville
, were you not?”
“Then you can look any man in the face as long as you live, for no troops ever fought better than you did that day.”
It is impossible to write of Captain Harleston
without dwelling somewhat at length upon the merits of his regiment, for he
had helped very materially to make it what it was, by his zeal, active energy and example.
On the 21st November Captain Harleston
's last term of duty at Fort Sumter
expired, and his company was “relieved” by another.
Having obtained a much desired furlough, he intended as soon as he was released, to go up to Columbia
and visit his family, who were joyfully awaiting his arrival, after the great dangers and hardships of the past months.
He had written to his mother, “I will be with you to-night,” but Colonel Elliott
, who at the time was the commander of the fort, asked him to remain a few days longer, “until the dark nights were past,” he “depended so much upon Captain Harleston
's vigilance and ability.”
Of course he readily and cheerfully acceeded to this complimentary request, as he always did to the call of every duty.
It was destined to be the last, for to Colonel Elliott
's great regret it was the occasion of his death.
My pen falters and my heart grows heavy as I record the sad fate of this much loved young soldier.
At 4 o'clock, on the morning of November 24th, 1863, a sentinel reported to him that the tide had washed aside some of the “chevaux-de-frise” that protected the outside of the fort from an assault, and he at once proceeded to examine the condition of