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Camp near Orange Courthouse August, 1863.

General Lee placed the Army of Northern Virginia in position at and around Orange Courthouse during the summer of 1863. At [246] this time General Longstreet, with his corps, was sent to Georgia to the aid of General Bragg.

For some days our regiment and brigade remained quiet, and during the time the famous review by General Lee took place. The review was a very brilliant sight, with the magnificently dressed officers, for most of them did manage to keep new uniforms, and were in marked contrast to the poorly clad privates and line officers. The only field officer of the Twelfth Alabama present was Colonel Pickens. There was only one captain in camp, and I was senior first lieutenant, and third in rank. This illustrates the great severity with which the enemy's bullets and camp sickness had dealt with my regiment.

An amusing incident during this great review was the whistling by some of the men in perfect imitation of the partridge, or ‘Bob White.’ They used their lips in imitating the bird whenever Lieutenant and Acting A. G. Daniel Partridge, of General Battle's staff, rode by on his fine horse. The gallant officer was annoyed by this impertinence on the part of the men, whom he could not possibly detect, and whom the company officers would not expose, but he was helpless and had to submit.

Sunday morning I was surprised by Adjutant Gayle coming to my tent and informing me that I was in command of the regiment, that Colonel Pickens had been sent for by General Rodes, and Captain Thomas had been detailed as brigade officer of the day, and that I, as the third officer in rank, was in command of the regiment, and that he awaited my orders. I directed him to draw up the regiment for regular Sunday inspection, and I recall, very distinctly, the hesitation and embarrassment that I felt in marching to the front of the regiment, then depleted to less than 300 men, and after the formation of the parade by the adjutant, giving the regiment a short drill in the manual of arms, and then breaking it into companies, and personally inspecting each gun in the command, as well as the cartridge-box and bayonet of each soldier. The arms of some of the companies were in most admirable condition, while others showed more or less rust and indifference on the part of the men who handled them.

It was a notable fact that there was not only not a field officer, but not a single captain present during this parade, every company being commanded either by a lieutenant or a sergeant.

During our stay at this camp I had a visit from Gen. B. Graves, [247] of Tuskegee, whose son William, had been a member of the company, and had been arrested for desertion, and was then at headquarters under guard. The erect, dignified and courteous old gentleman, then probably 70 years of age, was grievously distressed by the conduct of his son, and anxious to prevent any severe punishment being inflicted upon him. One of the most eloquent letters that I ever read was handed to me by the father from the grieved mother. The trial did not take place, as soon after, when we resumed our march, he escaped and was never again seen in the Confederacy.

The beautiful wife of Col. Charles Forsyth, of the 3rd Alabama, visited the colonel in camp, and as she was a splendid horse-woman she attracted marked attention from the gallant young officers of the command.

I had the pleasure of forming the acquaintance of some charming families in that vicinity, among them the Misses Willis, Mrs. Goodwin and Miss Terrell, the two last daughters of the venerable Dr. Terrell, who lived to be over 90 years of age, and was a member of the Virginia Constitutional Convention after the close of the war.

I can never forget a brief conversation with General Rodes while at the depot at Orange C. H. on his return from a visit to Richmond. He told me of the appointment of General Battle to the command of the brigade, and stated that Colonel O'Neal of the Twenty-sixth Alabama, had asked for a transfer to the Western army. During the conversation General Rodes spoke most affectionately of my former captain, R. H. Keeling saying that he knew him at the Virginia Military Institute, and that he should have entered the army as a brigadier general instead of first lieutenant.

August 24. General R. E. Lee rode his famous horse, ‘Traveler,’ through our camp and near my tent. I lifted my hat and was saluted by our great commander. He is always greeted with cheers and acclamations when he passes near a regiment.

August 28 and 29. Colonel Battle received his commission as brigadier general, and at night was serenaded by a brass band from Doles' Georgia brigade. He responded in a very pretty speech.

September 4 and 5. Am officer of the day. Private Griffith of Company E, married a girl near Orange C. H. It is love in low life. He brought his cara sposa to see our encampment, and they were the observed of all observers.

September 14. The anniversary of my memorable skirmish near [248] Boonsboro, (South Mountain) Md. We are ordered to Summerville Ford, near Rapidan Station, where the Yankees are threatening a passage. Marched very rapidly and halted a mile from the ford. Our artillery kept up a heavy firering for several hours and had several men killed. Captain Carter's battery cannot be excelled.

September 15 and 16. Rodes' division, composed of Daniel's and Ramseur's North Carolina, Doles' Georgia, and Battle's Alabama brigades, were marched out to witness a melancholy sight, the public shooting of one of Ramseur's brigade, who was convicted of desertion by a court martial and sentenced to be shot to death by musketry. It was a sad sight, but his death was necessary as a warning and lesson to his comrades. Each regiment was marched in front of the dead body, and his breast was pierced by several bullets. On return to camp we found two of my men, George Ward and Dick Noble, who had been on a scout across the river and captured a Yankee and carried him to General Rodes, and secured a splendid pistol and seven-shooting rifle. Heard Rev. Dr. L. Rosser deliver an eloquent lecture to our Christian Association on ‘patriotism, benevolence and religion.’

Oct. 8, 1863. I drew from quartermaster Pickens, 15 envelopes, one quire of letter paper, half quire of note and half quire of foolscap paper and five pens. Such things are growing scarce, and show to what extremities we are rapidly approaching. Lieuts. F. A. Rogers and John R. Williams of Company A, were promoted Captain, and First Lieutenant of said company, and Lieutenant John Rogers of Company E, promoted to captain. At 3 P. M. we were ordered to pack up, and marched until 9 P. M. and camped near Dr. Terrell's, 4 miles from Orange C. H.

Oct. 9. At 4 o'clock A. M. we marched through Orange, waded Rapidan river, and bivouacked three miles from Madison C. H. Here our ‘spider wagon,’ as the North Carolina ‘Tar Heels’ call our cooking utensil wagon, failed to come up and we had to ‘make up’ our flour, water and salt on oil cloths, and bake before the fire on our gun ramrods, sticks, rails, etc. And, after salting our beef, hung it on poles before the fire until cooked. We were all hungry and ate heartily of our beef and bread.

Oct. 10. Continued our march through byroads and old fields, and new roads cut by the pioneer squads through the woods, until we came to the Sperryville turnkike, 11 miles from Culpeper C. H. [249]

Oct. 1. We waded across Robinson river, as it is called, and occupied an old camp of the 6th Yankee army corps. It was on a high, bleak hill, where the wind blew constantly and fiercely, and rendered our sleep very uncomfortable. Such cold winds eighteen months ago, would have caused colds, coughs and pneumonia, but now we are accustomed to rough weather and thin clothing.

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