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[241] forlorn hope, and was most successfully executed. To Colonel Bennett and his men, says General Ramseur, and his gallant officers, all honor is due. I distinctly recall the circumstances under which the charge was made, and for cool audacity and unflinching courage I never saw it surpassed. At the time the movement was commenced Colonel Parker's regiment and the Federals were engaged in a hand-to-hand encounter in and over the works, while my regiment was pouring a most destructive fire into the Federals in our front. We entered these works at 4 o'clock on the morning of the 12th and remained in the works fighting and contending for over twenty hours. When relieved, hungry and exhausted, we dropped upon the wet ground and slept most profoundly.

A correspondent of the London Morning Herald, who had familiar access to Lee's headquarters, in a description of the battle of the Wilderness, gives this vivid account of the action of Ramseur's brigade on the morning of the 12th:

The Federalists continued to hold their ground in the salient, and along the line of works to the left of that angle, within a short distance of the position of Monoghan's (Hays') Louisianians. Ramseur's North Carolinians, of Rodes' division, formed, covering Monoghan's right; and being ordered to charge, were received by the enemy with a stubborn resistance. The desperate character of the struggle along that brigade-front was told terribly in the hoarseness and rapidity of its musketry. So close was the fighting there, for a time, that the fire of friend and foe rose up rattling in one common roar. Ramseur's North Carolinians dropped in the ranks thick and fast, but still he continued, with glorious constancy, to gain ground, foot by foot. Pressing under a fierce fire, resolutely on, on, on, the struggle was about to become one of hand to hand, when the Federalist shrank from the bloody trial. Driven back, they were not defeated. The earthworks being at the moment in their immediate rear, they bounded on the opposite side; and having thus placed them in their front, they renewed the conflict. A rush of an instant brought Ramseur's men to the side of the defenses; and though they crouched close to the slopes, under enfilade from the guns of the salient, their musketry rattled in deep and deadly fire on the enemy that stood in overwhelming numbers but a few yards from their front. Those brave North Carolinians had thus, in one of the hottest conflicts of the day, succeeded in driving the enemy from the works that had been occupied during the previous night by a brigade which, until the 12th of May, had never yet yielded to a foe—the Stonewall.

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Stephen D. Ramseur (5)
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