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[251]

At sunrise on May 4th Early, moving forward, reoccupied Marye's hill. A few of its defenders were found there, some dead, some wounded. That stone wall, which skirted the sunken road, had again grown fatalistic. This time, its fatalism had turned against its friends. On May 3, 1862, Sedgwick earned the empty honor of capturing Marye's hill and a few prisoners and guns. Upon some drunken rowdies of his corps fell the dishonor—fortunately rare in the annals of civilized warfare—of killing prisoners on the hill after they had surrendered.1 At this Fredericksburg battle the loss of Hays' brigade was 63 killed and 306 wounded.

On May 2d and 3d the Second Louisiana brigade, now led by Brig.-Gen. Francis T. Nicholls, was to be found on the Plank road, either resting on the highway or deployed along it toward the Chancellor house. Around Chancellorsville the battle swayed during the two days, at times fiercely, with a resolute purpose of the enemy's masses to envelope, anaconda-like, our slenderer lines; at other times, utilizing heavy guns to clear the Plank road of our men. The artillery was specially destructive on Saturday, the 2d. About 9:30 p. m. the head of Nicholls' brigade halted on the Plank road about half a mile from Chancellor's house, and the road was swept by a destructive artillery fire. It was here that the gallant Nicholls had the misfortune to be seriously wounded, a shell tearing his left leg, necessitating immediate amputation.2 Col. J. M. Williams, Second Louisiana, assumed

1 Adjt. Oscar E. Stuart of the Eighteenth Mississippi was deliberately shot after he had surrendered. By his brutal murder a life, full of promise as of honor, was cut short.

2 Men of the brigade, hearing of their leader's wounds, mentioned the loss of his arm on Winchester heights less than a year before: and anxiously recalled the army talk—heroic gossip!—that it was hard to say whether General Nichols was as brave as he seemed or not—he was always fated to be wounded so soon as a battle opened. They spoke also, with soldierly regret, of his mutilated frame. In its honorable mutilation it may still be seen when the chief justice of the Supreme court of Louisiana passes on the street, or when, with his associate justices around him, he sits on the bench.

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