man whom I had just before prevented from firing, “Let him have it!”
At the crack of the gun the retreating Federal fell dead.
This was on the north side of the plank-road.
The regiment was now halted, and we were ordered to return to the balance of the brigade.
As we came back over the ground over which the enemy had just been driven, the other regiments of the brigade naturally supposed we were the enemy and fired into us. As soon as this fire opened, knowing what it was, I fell flat on the ground in the plank-road.
Some one exclaimed, “Show your colors!”
I shall never forget what I consider one of the bravest acts I ever witnessed.
The color-bearer stepped out on the plank-road and calmly waived his colors over his head, although a line of our own men, not more than fifty yards—indeed, not that far—in his front, were at the time pouring a deadly fire into us, which resulted in killing and wounding some of the best men in our regiment.
Judge D. M. Bernard
, of Petersburg
, of Company E, Twelfth Virginia regiment, furnishes the following statement:
I have read with pleasure the correspondence and statements relating to the Battle of the Wilderness, you have handed me for perusal.
I was a member of the corps of sharpshooters of Mahone's brigade, commanded by Colonel Feild at the Battle of the Wilderness, and remember well that we passed through marsh, swamp and burning woods.
I was struck with the coolness and soldiery bearing of Colonel Feild, and with the dash and gallantry of a mounted staff-officer, who, I believe, was Colonel Sorrel.
Whilst we were advancing through the woods, I picked up a fine pair of officer's gloves, which I immediately handed to this staff officer, who was at the time riding near me. Receiving the gloves with a smile he thanked me for them, saying, “They are the very things I need.”
I was not an eye-witness of the May-Sorrel flag incident, but remember hearing of it about the time of its occurrence.
So gallant an act was to be expected of Ben. May, as all who knew him can testify.
I well remember, too, and can never forget, how, not many days after this battle, when he had received his mortal wound at Spotsylvania Courthouse, my heart was melted while shaking, in our last good-bye, the poor fellows hand, hot with the lever that I knew must and which did in a few hours burn out his noble life.
To the foregoing the following letter from Major Andrew Dunn
, of Petersburg
, may be added: