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[400] his wounded foot, a distance of seventeen miles. And not alone, for by encouragement and authority he turned stragglers from different regiments, and collected and organized them as he pushed forward. He says simply, ‘I felt I was needed, and that it would cheer my men to see me there. A sense of God's care decided me, not recklessness of danger.’ About one o'clock he found his brigade, and joined it in an unavailing struggle against superior numbers. ‘Unable to act with the regiment to any considerable extent,’ his Colonel writes, ‘with his rallied force he rendered service beyond his rank and expectation.’ He was soon wounded above the left knee, ‘but he did not permit his second wound to drive him from the field which the first had not prevented his reaching.’

After leading his comrades from the tangled abatis, he learned that a battery on the left was in danger, dismantled, mud-bound, and unsupported. Soon he had collected, by the impulse of his words and bearing, in spite of his wounds, man by man, squad by squad, two or three hundred men scattered from various regiments. This ‘little army’ he posted in support, threw out skirmishers, formed his line of defence, held his centre firmly, and resisted every effort of the enemy. ‘O how long the hours were!’ he said. ‘I never knew before what it was to “watch and wait.” ’ But no help came save scattered troops, among whom finally came Lieutenant-Colonel Wells of the First Massachusetts, to whom Stevens offered his little force, and hurried for new supplies of cartridges. The little band was saved by Kearney's force, at half past 4 P. M.; and in the reaction he was first sensible of his exhaustion and wounds, and was then carried to the hospital. Such was the scene in which his whole life seemed to culminate. Lieutenant-Colonel Wells, in delight at his disposition of his force, which he afterwards described as ‘worthy a major-general,’ warmly recommended his promotion, and a commission as First Lieutenant was sent him, to date May 5, 1862.

The following is the narrative of this transaction, as

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William Wells (2)
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