The battle at Bethesda Church.One among the bloodiest Contests of the great war of the Sixties—The Color-bearer killed.
Graphic description of it by Lieutenant Colonel C. B. Christian.
The sharp combat at Bethesda Church, on the afternoon of May 30, 1864, was the beginning of the series of battles at Cold Harbor, which wound up by the decisive repulse of Grant on June 3rd. Our loss on that occasion, except in Pegram's brigade, was small, says General Early in his report, which is found in Vol. 51 Part 1, Serial 1, of the War Records, Serial Number 107. He was at that time commanding Ewell's corps. Colonel Edward Willis, of Georgia, and Colonel J. B. Terrill, of the Thirteenth Virginia, had both been named as Brigadier Generals, but were killed ere their commissions reached them. Willis was .a brilliant young officer of great promise and of distinguished service. A West Pointer by training, he had won a name which will live in the annals of the Army of Northern Virginia. Colonel J. B. Terrill was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute; had long commanded the Thirteenth Virginia with great courage and skill, succeeding James A. Walker and A. P. Hill as colonel of a regiment which had no superior in the Confederate Army. His brother, General Terrill of the United States Army, was a West Pointer, and had been killed at Perryville, Ky. Colonel Christian's account of this combat gives us a picturesque glimpse of the charge of the Forty-ninth Virginia Regiment, which made its mark under Colonel (Governor) William Smith, at First Manassas, and sustained its reputation to the close of its career. Colonel Christian was a V. M. I. man and one of those sturdy fighting men who always had ‘his place in the picture by the blasting of the guns.’ His adventures from Bethesda Church to Morris Island, bring vividly before the mind the days that verily ‘tried men's souls.’