scene, and the emotion of that one moment, were worth all the losses and dangers of a soldier's lifetime.
It would hardly be possible to frame language that would do more than justice to the magnificent conduct of Emerson Opdycke
's brigade and Laurence H. Rousseau
's 12th Kentucky and John S. White
's 16th Kentucky, which were also in reserve, and their commanders, in that battle.
Their action was beyond all praise, and nothing that can justly be said in respect to the battle can detract one iota from their proud fame.
Yet the light in which the part acted by Opdycke
's brigade (the others not being mentioned) is presented by some ‘historians,’ to the prejudice, relatively, of other portions of the army and of their commanders, is essentially false.
It is represented as something purely spontaneous, out of the ordinary course, not contemplated in the dispositions made for battle, unforeseen and unexpected; in short, something more—yes, vastly more—than the reasonable duty of the brigade; or, ‘beyond all power of generalship to mold the battle or control its issue, the simple charge of Opdycke
's brigade stands in boldest relief.’
The same might be said with equal truth of the action of any brigade upon which devolves the assault or defense of the key of a military position.
The success or failure of ‘generalship to mold the battle or control its issue’ depends absolutely upon the action of such brigades, their doing, or failure to do, the duty belonging to the position to which they are assigned.
Every soldier in the army knew what his duty was in such a case—knew for what he had been placed in that position.
It would have been strange indeed if the gallant commander of that brigade had waited for orders from some higher officer to move ‘forward to the lines.’
As well might the commander of a brigade in the line wait for orders from the general-in-chief
before commencing to fire on the advancing enemy.