did in the Wilderness!”
He removed his hat and bowed very low, remarking that nothing would please him more than to lead those men in another charge, but that no fighting was to be done that evening, as we were only going out a short distance to form a line and rest.
I have met the general since the war and talked with him about this incident, which he remembered perfectly, and if I am not very much mistaken, he remarked that it was a proud day for him.
Now, John, I am not a good hand at either writing or talking, but, if I have succeeded in giving you any pleasure by this simple narrative, I am amply repaid for the time and labor it has cost me.
A letter to Mr. William C. Smith
, of Nashville, Tennessee
, of Company B, Twelfth Virginia regiment, requesting his recollection of the engagement, brought me a reply under date of February 26th, 1892, from which I take the following extracts:
I cannot recall much of the route along which we passed except that we moved in a northeasterly direction, somewhat; nor can I recall the place at which we bivouacked on the night of the 4th.
On the night of the 5th, however, we bivouacked near a place called Vidiersville.
In the meantime, reports reached us that fighting was going on in that part of Orange county known as the Wilderness, and from the early start taken on the morning of the 6th and the rapidity of the march, it became evident that the Wilderness was our destination.
After reaching the plank-road, which was about 9 o'clock A. M., we were hurried along to the scene of action.
By 10 o'clock or a little after, on the 6th, we were on the ground, but we had no sooner arrived than we filed to the right from the plank-road, moving quite rapidly in a direction apparently at right angles to it, and after going some distance, about a third of a mile I suppose, we formed line o battle very quickly, and at once commenced a forward movement on the enemy.
We had not proceeded very far, however, in line of battle, when Colonel Sorrel (afterwards brigadier-general), General Longstreet's assistant adjutant-general, appeared on the scene, and placing himself in front of the right wing of the Twelfth Virginia regiment, with his hat in one hand, and grasping the reins of his horse with the other, he exclaimed, “Follow me, Virginians!
Let me lead you!”