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Battle of the Wilderness.

The succession of fierce engagements, known as the battles of the Wilderness, which began May 5th, 1864, and continued through May 12th, were events of surpassing interest to the Confederate States. The meeting on the 5th of May between parts of General Lee's army and that of General Grant, was not a great distance from the old Chancellorsville battle ground. Rodes' brigade fought in the woods most of the time, and the writer had the bad luck to have a minie ball, which had struck the limb of a tree, to glance and pierce the ankle of his right foot, cutting through the shoe, skin and flesh and grazing the bone, but did not [293] retire from the field. Here gallant Ed. Hendree, while leading the sharpshooters, was struck by a fatal bullet. No purer, braver young officer followed the fortunes of Lee. The late afternoon of the 5th was devoted, from sundown until 10 o'clock, in throwing up some hasty breastworks. At that hour I crept over the works with two canteens of water for the purpose of relieving some of the wounded enemy, who were groaning and calling aloud in our front. The night was dark, with no moon and very few stars visible, and as I crawled to the first man and offered him a drink of water, he declined, and in reply to my inquiries, told me that he had been shot through the leg and the body, and was sure that he was bleeding internally. I told him that I feared he would not live until morning, and asked him whether he was making any preparation for leaving this world. His reply was that he had not been given it any thought, as his life had not been one of sin, and that he was content. He was about twenty years of age and from a northwestern State. I continued my search among the men, many of whom I found too far gone to reply to my questions, and others quietly drank the proffered water and thanked me for the attention. I occupied myself in this way for some time, and approached very near to the pickets and the main line of the enemy. The light of the next day enabled us to see many dead men in our front, but no visible living enemy.

On the 8th we were again under heavy fire, and on the 10th a fierce engagement took place, and we were running backwards and forwards for hours, first advancing and then retreating.

At night I had the roll called and only one man failed to answer. That was brave John Attaway. About midnight he appeared, came to the tree where I was lying, and explained, in reply to my stern inquiry as to where he had been, that he had got lost from the company and gone into the fight with a South Carolina regiment, and that he had the permission of the colonel to refer to him for the truth of his statement. He handed me the sword of the colonel of a Massachusetts regiment, as well as his splendid blue broadcloth coat, with all of the insignia of a colonel's rank upon it. These were given to me by him in the hope, I presume, of conciliating me and excusing his absence. The coat, sword and belt I sent to Major Vandiver, in charge of the Alabama depot in Richmond, and never heard from them again. They were no doubt captured when Richmond fell.

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