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[340]

This regiment (Nineteenth Massachusetts) was presented with a new stand of colors, to replace those sent home stripped and torn by Rebel bullets. In the action of the 13th, the new colors had fourteen holes in them; and we are informed that they were carried by eleven different men, nine of whom were killed or wounded within one hour. Sergeant Charles Brown was the seventh man. He received a wound in the head, which stunned and for a time confused him. Lieutenant Hume, thinking his wound mortal, told him to give up the colors; but he refused, saying, “I will not give them to any man.” Finding he was fast becoming weak, he rushed out in advance of the line, staggered and fell, driving the color-lance into the earth; and there he lay, dizzy and bleeding, still grating the lance with both hands, until Lieutenant Hume caught them up.

Referring in his letters to the scenes of that day, he writes:—

The color-sergeants had been shot, and no one seemed willing to take the colors, when I made the offer, and to the front I went. When I took the colors I bade farewell to life; but God saved me. . . . . The Boston Journal gave your humble servant a good “puff,” in consequence, as I suppose, of a nearly accurate account of the affair as related by Lieutenant Hume to some correspondent of that paper. Give yourself no uneasiness, however, in regard to the wound I received. It would have felled a bullock; but the effect was temporary. I stayed with the regiment all the time, and the next day was all right, though my head was a little sore. As regards the remark of the correspondent, that “such sergeants should be commissioned,” that will come right, if I live, unless something happens not now thought of.

After the battle of Fredericksburg followed the winter-quarters at Falmouth. The following illustrates his esprit de corps. Writing January 13, 1863, he says:—

I am looking forward with somewhat gloomy anticipations to another battle. I do not fear it. Anybody who was ever with me in battle knows that I am not a man to run; but what I fear is this: the three regiments of our brigade, who always do about all the fighting of the brigade, are almost dismayed. We have six regiments, yet the Twentieth Massachusetts, the Seventh Michigan, and our regiment know as well beforehand as afterwards, that if there is any risky job to do, we shall have to do it; and it makes

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