previous next

[246] whole distance at a run. The men needed no urging, for we all felt that there must be some urgent need. General Gordon, accompanied by a young man, who was detailed from my old company (A) at division headquarters as a courier, went ahead.

This young man told me afterwards that when General Gordon reached General Lee he reined his horse back on his haunches, throwing his hand to his cap, he saluted General Lee, and said: ‘What do you want me to do, General?’ General Gordon was then, he said, the most superb looking soldier he ever saw. During our absence, as we afterwards learned, the enemy had broken over our lines, capturing the greater part of General Edward Johnson's division. It was to retake and re-establish this line we had been sent for.

When we, the reserve, I mean, arrived, General Lee was seated upon Traveler, engaged in conversation with General Gordon. Our brigade came up on a run and went through the manoeuvre of ‘on the right by file into line,’ by which we changed front, facing towards Spotsylvania Courthouse. As the boys came up the General could read the same question in all their eyes which General Gordon had asked. The General was in great danger, for we were under a lively fire as we formed. I saw the dust fly from General Gordon's coat, just above his sword belt. Checking his horse, he threw his hand to his back. He seemed satisfied that it was only a little darning for Mrs. Gordon, who was always in reach, and spurred on down the line. I passed in a few feet of General Lee; he was perfectly calm. No one would ever have dreamed that General Grant held probably half a mile of his works. It was just then the circumstance occurred which has given rise to some controversy. I allude to General Lee's being turned back. What has caused some confusion has been the fact that almost the same identical thing happened twice during that campaign. In the first instance, General Lee wanted to lead the Texans, when they turned him back. On this occasion General Lee took his position on the right of our brigade, with the evident intention of leading it into action. General Gordon told the General he must go back and said: ‘These are Virginians, and they are going to do their duty,’ appealing to the men at the same time. All who heard him responded that he must go back, and they would do what he wanted done.

It took less time to form that line than it has taken me to tell it.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John B. Gordon (8)
Robert E. Lee (7)
Virginians (1)
Edward Johnson (1)
Ulysses S. Grant (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: