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In reply to a letter written to Comrade Putnam Stith, now in Florida, I received from him a communication sent me from Fort Meade, Florida, under date of February 9, 1892, in which he says:

I was present at the Wilderness fight, and remember that orders to “charge” were brought by General (then Lieutenant-Colonel) Sorrel, of Longstreet's staff. I remember that our part of the line was ordered to move forward by Sorrel in person. I think he attempted to take our colors out of the hands of Ben. May to carry them himself, but he did not know the stuff that Ben. was made of, one who could carry colors where any other man could. Of course Ben. refused to give up his colors and carried them as gallantly as we were led by Sorrel. The bearing of Sorrel was such as to attract my attention, and I think the attention of every man in the brigade. More conspicuous gallantry on the field I never saw.

I claim that we made a brigadier of him that day. His conduct on that field certainly entitled him to the distinction soon afterwards conferred on him by General Lee.

In making that charge we got far in advance of the balance of our command. A halt was ordered. Soon afterwards we were fired into by our own men, who, coming up, mistook us for the enemy. I think that was the time when Longstreet was shot. Hugh Smith saved us serious damage by waiving his handkerchief on the point of his sword. I have always thought that, had it not been that Longstreet was shot then by his own men, we would have put the Federals across the river that night and changed the whole of Grant's flank movement, which terminated in the seige of Petersburg.

I don't remember that we saw Sorrel after that day, until the evening we marched into Petersburg from across James river. On the march to Petersburg we met people going out of town. Some of them knew that the Federals were at the water-works. Others knew that they were even in town and by that time had full possession. By these accounts we were worked up to a high pitch of excitement. We finally crossed Pocahontas bridge and marched through town, greeting our friends on every side. I, and I reckon most of the command, fully expected to charge the Federals on the heights. In going up Sycamore street, when we reached Marshall, we saw Sorrel riding up Marshall and close to us. He was recognized at once. I believe every man took off his hat simultaneously and cheered, calling out, “Lead us, Sorrel! Lead us as you ”

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G. M. Sorrel (7)
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