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[324] in the history of our country by the persistency with which they have noted copiously in all our histories the great importance of every battle fought during the Revolution of 76 to 81 within their borders. Yet many of them were not more important or fought against such odds as was the battle of Staunton Bridge, and even Big Bethel, the first affair between General Butler and General Magruder, was not fought with such dire catastrophy resting upon the result as was in the scales at Staunton Bridge had we been defeated. The boys from the V. M. I. are duly glorified for their intrepid charge and heroic fight at New Market, but they were trained to implicit obedience and under the immediate control of those who had drilled and instructed them in tactics and military duties for over two years, and each and every one of them knew well the duty of a soldier and the importance of alertness and cohesive action. It must be remembered that my command was a heterogeneous mass, the greater part of which had been assembled only three months, the rawest kind of recruits, from fourteen to twenty and from fifty to sixty-five years of age, whom I was as rapidly as possible instructing in the duties of a soldier when they were not working with pick and spade on the fortifications, and that to these I had added the volunteer citizens of the county and the force from Danville, both hastily summoned to my assistance, after being informed by a special messenger from General Beauregard that this large force of the enemy had been detached from General Grant's army and it was thought their object was the destruction of the Danville Road and bridges and rolling stock, then so important for us to hold at all hazards.

There was some criticism of my conduct of this battle by General Dabney Maury many years afterwards in the Richmond Tines, based, I think, upon information furnished him by a man whose name I do not recall, who came to me just as the enemy was approaching and then in sight, requesting to be assigned to an officer's place over one of my recently improvised companies. As I had no place for him as an officer, I gave him a rifle and ordered him in the ranks. If he expected to perform proper service that was the place for him. At this he took offense, and as my duties called me imperatively elsewhere at the moment, I did not place him under arrest, as I should have done.

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