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[340] Wilderness. Two roads led in parallel lines through the dense thicket which gave its name to the territory upon which the battle was fought. One was known as the Orange Plank Road, and the other as the Turnpike. The 44th marched by way of the Plank Road, and became heavily engaged about 2 o'clock of the afternoon of the 5th. The right rested immediately upon the Plank Road, and next in line to it, with its left on the road, was the 26th North Carolina regiment. This immediate locality was the storm centre of the fight, and it is doubtful if any more violent and sanguinary contest occurred during the entire Civil War than just here. The road was swept by an incessant hurricane of fire, and to attempt to cross it meant almost certain death. It was at this point of the line that three pieces of Confederate artillery were seriously menaced with capture. The horses belonging to the guns had all been killed and disabled, whilst the gunners were subjected to an incessant and murderous fire.

Lieutenant R. W. Stedman, of Co. A, volunteered to drag the guns down the road, out of danger, if a detail of forty men were furnished. Forty men immediately stepped to his side and said they would follow him, although they all knew the effort was full of peril. The work was done successfully, but only three of the volunteers escaped unhurt. Lieutenant Stedman was severely wounded by a grape shot. For his personal gallantry in this action he was honorably mentioned in high terms of praise in an official order from division headquarters. The loss of the regiment in the engagements of the 5th and 6th was exceedingly heavy; a large proportion of its officers were killed and wounded; amongst the latter the major of the regiment. Both officers and men won the special commendation of brigade and division commanders. On the 8th the regiment moved with the brigade towards Spotsylvania Courthouse. On the 10th Heth's and Anderson's divisions, commanded by Early, had a serious conflict with a portion of Grant's army, which was attempting to flank General Lee by what was called the Po River road. In this engagement the 44th suffered severely and fought with its accustomed valor.

Captain J. J. Crump, of Co. E, elicited by his conduct warm commendation from the General commanding.

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Robert Winship Stedman (1)
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