The truth of history—a letter from Brig.-Gen. Lane. [for the Dispatch.]
Richmond, Va., September 19, 1867.The Petersburg Index, in its editorial notice of Mr. Pollard's new work entitled, ‘Lee and His Lieutenants,’ does great injustice to Lane's North Carolina brigade and the other gallant troops composing Wilcox's division. That paper asserts: ‘Wilcox was not engaged, except slightly, on the first evening at the Wilderness,’ whereas Heth's and Wilcox's divisions were both hotly engaged, and succeeded in keeping back two or more corps of the Yankee army. In my official report I stated that we—that is, my brigade—were the last troops to become engaged, and, without hope of assistance, kept up the unequal contest from about 5 o'clock P. M. until 9. My aggregate loss in the fights of the 5th and 6th was four hundred and fifteen. The next error is in the assertion that ‘Wilcox's troops did not hold their own on the 12th of May at Spotsylvania.’ General Early, however, is of a different opinion, for in his ‘Memoir of the Last Year of the War for Independence,’ page 25, he says:
On this morning the enemy made a very heavy attack on Ewell's front, and broke the line where it was occupied by Johnson's division. A portion of the attacking force swept along Johnson's line to Wilcox's left, and was checked by a prompt movement on the part of Brigadier-General Lane, who was on that flank. As soon as the firing was heard General Wilcox sent Thomas's and Scales's brigades to Lane's assistance, and they arrived just as Lane's brigade had repulsed this body of the enemy, and they pursued it for a short distance. As soon as Mahone's division arrived from the left, Perrin's and Harris's brigades, of that division, were sent to General Ewell's assistance, and were carried into action under his orders. Brigadier-General Perrin was killed and Brigadier-General McGowan severely wounded while gallantly leading their respective brigades into action, and all the brigades sent to Ewell's assistance suffered severely. Subsequently, on the same day, under orders from General Lee, Lane's brigade, of Wilcox's division, and Mahone's own brigade (under Colonel Weisiger) were thrown to the front for the purpose of moving to the left and attacking the flank of the column of the enemy which had broken Ewell's line, to relieve the pressure on him, and, if possible, recover the part of the line which he had lost.