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‘ [287] cut I occupied, and had also, under cover of the hill we were fighting over, succeeded in moving up on my left flank part of a brigade, all of which was discovered in time to save my regiment by moving it rapidly back to my first position on the pike, but, I regret to inform you, not in time to save our colors, which were still where I first planted them; 20 paces on the left flank of the regiment, the color guard all being killed or wounded while defending them. To have saved my colors would have been to advance between two forces of the enemy, both my superiors in numbers; also, to have put my command under an enfilade battery fire. It would have been certain surrender or destruction.’

The Colonel must have found it quite a task to write his official report. His recollections of the battle were evidently so indistinct and confused, that, cudgel his brain as he may, it was impossible to get order out of chaos. He fixes the time of the loss of our standards over one hour before its actual occurrence. He had no opportunity to post himself on the color affair by interviewing the survivors, who were scattered in hospitals.

The resulting document was about what could be expected from a man in his condition during the fight. He could not recall when and why the colors were detached, but having an undefined recollection of it concluded it took place after the regiment had reached the cut.

If Stone's order had really been what Dwight says it was, it would stamp him as a man lacking common sense. To plant the colors 20 paces on the left flank of the regiment with an overlapping brigade of the enemy approaching in front, could have done no possible good. It would have been a senseless and criminal exposure of the colors and the men in charge of them, who would have drawn the enemy's fire with a vengeance, and would all have been struck down in a few moments, with the Color Company, too far away to supply fresh victims.

The conditions the Colonel describes as a reason for not being able to save the colors—out there at the cut—did not exist until an hour or so later, that is, after both wings of the brigade were left unsupported. During the greater part of that time there was nothing to prevent him from sending an order to Brehm to return to the regiment.

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Roy Stone (1)
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