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The career of Wise's Brigade, 1861-5.


An address

Delivered by General Henry A. Wise, near Cappahoosic, Gloucester county, Virginia, about 1870.


The following graphic address, is now first printed, from the original manuscript in the autograph of the ‘Noble Old Roman’ who died at Richmond, Va., Sept. 12, 1876, an ‘unrepentant rebel,’ without government pardon.

It is unfortunately undated, and without definite statement of place of delivery. The object appears to have been to secure funds to meet the cost of gathering together the remains of soldiers from Gloucester county, who died in defence of the South, and to duly mark their graves. A monument has been since erected at Gloucester Courthouse.

The address has been furnished by Mr. Barton Haxall Wise, a young lawyer of Richmond, Va., who has in preparation a life of his distinguished grandfather, whose public services thread the warp of our National history for quite a half century:

Surviving Comrades of the Confederate War, of the County of Gloucester, Ladies and Gentlemen:

The people of no section of the South were more self-sacrificing in their devotion to the ‘Confederate Cause,’ or more heroic in its defence, than were the inhabitants of the five peninsulas lying between the Potomac and Rappahannock, the Rappahannock and the York, the York and the James, the James and the Nottoway, and the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

The whole Atlantic and Bay Coasts from Hatteras to Assateague Island and the mouth of the Potomac river, were accessible to war steamers far above the head of tidewater, and the rivers and estuaries so parted each from the others that they could not readily or [2] adequately support each other in their defences. None were more exposed to the ravages of war, and none worse scourged by them than were these people between the Rappahannock and the York. Homes, houses, labor, fences, crops, provisions, furniture, teams, stock, household necessaries and comforts, things of affection and things sacred, the very cradles and graves of families, the persons of women and children, and the lives and personal liberty of men were all alike exposed to the dangers and disasters of both servile and civil war; and from the first to the last of hostilities all that the inhabitants of the low-lands had and held dear was laid under the guns of invading and marauding navies and armies. There was no mode of escape, no place of refuge. The defenceless condition was unmitigated, the enemy was unscrupulous and relentless. The fathers and sons and brothers could not stay by the firesides and altars and defend them, and they could not leave them without vengeance being taken for their absence; yet, mainly, they obeyed the calls of duty, honor and patriotism, left all to the Providence of God and the fate of war, and betook themselves, with manly decision, to the camps of the Confederate soldiers, joined them in their privations, endured their marches, hungered and thirsted with them, helped to fight their glorious battles, braved their dangers, shouted in their victories, wept in their defeats, and did all that good and true men could do for country, kindred, honor and renown, from the first, the tocsin gun of Fort Sumter, to the stacking of arms at Appomattox.

We are here to-day not only to collect the means to gather the remains of their dead, but to plead that the good which the living and the dead did, shall not be interred with their bones.

Of these patriotic heroes and martyrs, it becomes me to speak. They were the comrades of my command. They largely filled the rank and file of my noble Brigade, and I know full well where to place them in the estimation of men and soldiers. In speaking of them I do not shrink from being compelled to speak of myself. To have been associated with them; to have been the General who ordered them; to have had their confidence and cheerful obedience; to have had the sympathy of their brave hearts; to have been loved by them as well as to have led and loved them; to have shared with them privations and dangers; to have shouted with them in the charge and in victory, and to have wept with them when all was lost, made of me, even me, that ‘stern stuff,’ of which they were composed in earnest, in the unsuccessful because unequal struggle of a war for a principle, a faith, and a feeling, without counting the cost [3] or calculating the issue; they asked not ‘whether it would pay,’ or what would be their fate, if they failed. It was enough that honor, and self-respect, and a sense of duty and a love of liberty and of law to guard it, required of them to resist ursurpation, and to assert and fight for the rights of conscience and self-government.

How they fought was worthy of the precious and undying Cause, for which they died—not in vain. During Magruder's stubborn stand across the Peninsula and the York river, from Warwick river to Gloucester Point, the most if not all of these men were enrolled in his lines. They were among the forlorn 7,000, only baring their brave breasts and keeping their vigils against the countless columns of an enemy attacking their redoubts and breast-works with siege-guns of batteries, and bombs of iron-clads. This they encountered unbroken to the last, and until they were ordered to raise their indomitable defences of Yorktown and move to the defences of Richmond. This they did after the victory at Bethel, and after fighting most gloriously the battles at Williamsburg and Barhamsville.

During this period, before the evacuation of the defences of Yorktown, I was in command of a legion of 2,000 men and two regiments of Virginia Volunteers in the Kanawha valley. To pass over the scenes there of Scary and Pocataligo, and the evacuation of that valley, and the burning of Gauley Bridge, and of Carnifax, and of Honey Creek, on the east peak of Sewell Mountain, and of Camp Defiance and the Slaughter Pen of Roanoke Island, after Richmond was invested by McClellan's army, my legion was converted into a brigade of infantry, and was reorganized. The 46th and 59th Virginia Regiments of the legion were left to my command, and to these were added the 26th and 34th Regiments of Virginia, largely composed of men from the counties of Mathews, Gloucester, King and Queen and Essex. This reorganization was effected early in the spring of 1862, and we were soon posted to guard the batteries at Chaffin's Bluff and the entire district from Richmond to Williamsburg, on the James, Chickahominy and Pamunkey rivers.

To the four regiments commanded by Colonel Powhatan R. Page, of the 26th, Colonel J. Thomas Goode, of the 34th, Colonel J. H. Richardson, of the 46th, and Colonel W. B. Tabb, of the 59th, were added two batteries of artillery under Major A. W. Starke, commanded by Captains Armistead and French, with a few cavalry for videttes.

This small force did post duty at Chaffin's for sixteen months, from April, 1862, until September, 1863. During that time they [4] scouted the enemy incessantly, and so effectually as to keep them close to their seventeen redoubts at Williamsburg. The 59th was stationed mostly at the Diascund, its rangers keeping the miserable 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry timidly at bay. Under orders, they guarded the River road whilst the battles around Richmond were going on, until the last at Malvern Hill was fought, when, without orders, they reinforced the fagged forces of General T. H. Holmes, on Lee's extreme right, and where they stood unbroken for two days under the Paixhans and bombs of the enemy's batteries and ironclads, though regiments of infantry and batteries of artillery of General Junius Daniel's command stampeded through their ranks. After that, Colonel A. W. Starke riddled one of the enemy's side-wheel steamers from the heights of Deep Bottom. Again, in 1863, they were given the most difficult order to be executed which can be issued from headquarters. To make a divertisement in favor of Longstreet in his operations around Suffolk, in Nansemond, and to prevent the enemy from sending reinforcements from Yorktown against him, orders were issued to me from Richmond to move with all my available force as low down the peninsula as possible, and to do all the damage possible to the enemy and threaten him as closely as was in my power, without hazarding a battle unless certain of success. With 1,100 men, we moved to the six miles' ordinary in James City, ascertained that the enemy, 3,000 strong, already apprised of our movement, had occupied Fort Magruder and the other sixteen redoubts around Williamsburg, and we planned to destroy his stores of munitions and provisions at Whitaker's Mill, nearly four miles in his rear. Tabb, with only 218 men, a portion of the 59th, was sent forward that night, and we attacked the redoubts in front with 900 men at daybreak the next morning. The plan succeeded gloriously, in destroying from $300,000 to $500,000 worth of stores and their quarters at Whitaker's Mill, without the loss of a man. We occupied Williamsburg and vicinity for about a week in face of an enemy in our front three times our number; relieved many of the inhabitants of their durance vile; saved much property, and avenged somewhat the outrages which had followed Shingler's raid, and returned to Chaffin's to meet the thanks of the War Department and of General Elzey. Tabb and Page and Captain Rives, with a section of artillery, especially met my commendation.

After this, in September, 1863, this brigade was ordered to report to General Beauregard at Charleston, South Carolina. Whilst at Chaffin's Bluff, its men and officers began to chafe somewhat that [5] they were not put into a service where more laurels and less hard service could be gained. But there was one officer who nobly said: ‘I am ready to do my whole duty wherever I am put, and if my superiors in command see fit to give me the least glorious duty to perform, I will do it with the same alacrity that I would or could perform those duties which are crowned with the brightest leaves of honor; and if duty don't require of me to incur greater danger than that of the service at this post, I thank God for the chance of being spared to my little family. Any may have the honors of war, if I can be allowed to do my duty wherever put, and I can be spared to my wife and child.’ From that moment forward I set that man down as a true man and soldier of the first water and purest crystal, all of which he so proved to the moment of his death at his post, so brightly, so grandly, so great and so good as to make the name of Colonel P. R. Page immortal among angels in Heaven if not among men on earth. During the durance at Chaffin's, the time was not lost in drilling, and without any disparagement to other regiments, my own or those of other commands, I hesitate not to say that the officers of the 26th Regiment of Virginia, from Colonel Page and Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. Council down to the sergeants and corporals, had perfected its drill to a degree superior to that of any regiment known to me in the entire army of General Lee. Mahone had the best drilled brigade, but this was the best drilled regiment known to me in the Confederate army. It twice saved my brigade by its regular and orderly and steady rally; once at the White Oak road, on the 31st March, 1865, near Hatcher's Run, and again on the 6th April, 1865, at Sailor's creek, on the retreat to Appomattox.

And before I leave the camps at Chaffin's and at Diascund and at the White House on the Peninsula, I cannot omit to pay a tribute to the people who remained at home to make bread for our army and comforts for the boys of our brigade. However, other soldiers in the field may have suffered for want of supplies or from neglect of quartermasters and commissaries, I must do credit and pay but just dues to our purveyors as far above the general demerits of their class in the army. Major W. F. C. Gregory, as Commissary, and Majors F. D. Cleery and H. C. Watkins of our brigade were above reproach in the discharge of their duties. Gregory, particularly, was distinguished as surpassing his own superiors so far that in the last retreat he was the main agent of supplies to Johnson's Division, though he was but the commissary of our brigade. But though so well served officially, what I desire to say most gratefully is: that [6] our supplies whilst at Chaffin's were vastly aided and improved by ‘the old folks at home’ in King and Queen, Gloucester, Mathews, Essex and Accomack and Northampton. The latter counties had to run a blockade through narrow passes in the smallest craft, at night, but they sent clothes and medicine and food. Essex and Mathews and Gloucester poured out their cornucopias upon us; but Oh! shall I ever forgot the little hen-coop carts of King and Queen. They were constantly coming packed to the tops of their cover-hoops always with good things from the dear mothers and sisters and wives at home! I had seen those little characteristic carts before the war in the market-places of Richmond, and felt a funny feeling about them, such as used to titulate my nerves by seeing the fish-carts around Norfolk and Portsmouth, drawn by the tackies of Blackwater, 130 of which, in a single day, I have counted which had but thirty eyes. As an eastern shore man I could not but think how incomparable with them was ‘the train and steers’ of Accomack. But the war taught me how precious they are and capacious too of every sort of good things. One of those little carts, hauled by a poney, was like an open sesame, it was full of hams and chickens and eggs and melons and cakes and cider and home-made wine and letters and socks and blankets. And the memory of its fullness is nothing to that of its pathos. Not a company got its home greetings that some poor soldier did not bring to me some choicest present of the sweets he so seldom got, compared with my own opportunities. ‘Why my good comrade keep 'em for yourself, you need them more than I do.’ But no, he would'nt, he could'nt eat them if I did not take part, and hear what the ‘old woman’ or the children said about us, God bless my true hearted, humble, brave privates who loved for me to taste their morsels of good things. There was no generosity like theirs. It forgot everything but self-sacrifice and devotion, cheerfully made and paid. They allaccepted their situations:’ to fight to the death and to endure to the end for a faith and a principle, rather than eat the diet of dictation thrown by the hands of tyranny as husks to swine!

We arrived at Charleston in Sept., 1863, with an effective force of 2,850 infantry, and found in Gen. Beauregard and Col. David B. Harris, a Lt.-General and a Chief Engineer worthy of the citizen soldiers who composed our brigade.

The command preceding that of Beauregard had an effective force of 45,000 men, to defend the department from North Carolina to the cape of Florida; whilst Beauregard had for the same defence [7] only about 17,000 effective men. This compelled a distribution of forces very wide apart, and hardly in supporting distances, so large were the districts and extended the coasts of the command. To our brigade was assigned the duty of guarding the entire district lying between the Ashley and the Edisto, with the exception of James' island. On the Atlantic front it extended from the Stono to the Edisto, including Johns' island, Kiahwah, Seabrooks, Jehosse, Kings, and Slau's islands, and the Wadmalaw. At first, our headquarters were at Wappoo, and then farther South at Adams' Run, and extended from Willtown on the Edisto, to the Church Flats on the Stono, posting Willtown, the Toogadoo, the Dahoo, King's island, Glen's island, Church Flats, and the Haulover, near the mouth of the Bohickett on John's island, besides the forces in reserve at Adams' Run. It was a very laborious and hazardous defence of a coast indented for every mile almost, by waters accessible not only to the war steamers, but to the land forces from Morris' island in the occupancy of the enemy. In every emergency these troops did their whole duty promptly, successfully, and with the approbation and commendation of their superiors. Their duties were constant and active during the whole period from September, 1863, until March, 1864, in doing guard duty in the most exposed situations, and in details upon extensive earth-works, at many and various points. But they were not left to non-combatant work alone. They had two memorable opportunities of showing their alacrity and bravery in the fields of battle. The two war steamers, Marble Head and Pawnee, were too curious in running up the Stono to peer at a Quaker battery, which had been placed above the mouth of the Abbepoola, to deter the enemy, and Colonel Page commanding, with Major Jenkins of the South Carolina troops, and Colonel Del. Kemper of the artillery, were ordered to drive them off. This they did with gallantry, riddling the Marble Head, but the Pawnee got a cross fire on our batteries, and forced Page to fall back, but he fully effected the purpose of the expedition, and won my most hearty thanks. He was one of the coolest men I ever saw under fire. On his dull sorrel horse, he rode about the field under showers of shot and shell, without turning his head, or giving it a twitch even at the sound too near of that awful aerial whisper: ‘where is he? where is he?’ before an explosion which crashed as if heaven and earth were coming together. His mounted unconcern was so marked that it did not escape the notice of that cool and gallant soldier, Major Jenkins, the brother of the lamented General M. Jenkins, of South Carolina. [8] After the fight was over he asked the gallant Page-how he could be so unflinching, without a dodge, amidst such bursting of bombs and whispers of danger all around him. His answer was beautifully characteristic, showing the great integrity of his courage:

“I did'nt dodge, sir, because I am so deaf I did'nt hear them before their explosion!” A braggadocio would have pocketed the compliment as belonging to his steady nerves. He claimed nothing which did'nt belong to him, and his courage was too honest and real not to assign his apparent indifference to danger to the true cause, his deafness. But there was a much greater and more important instance trying the promptness and the pluck of these men. The enemy designed its attack upon Florida, and a large fleet left the mouth of the Stono, conveying troops for the South. It was uncertain for a time what their point of destination was, when a servant of General Gilmer was captured by my Rebel Troop, as it was called, on John's Island. He was brought in to me as a prisoner of war. He was a light mulatto, who described himself as the son of a slave freed by the Barnes family, near Frederick, in Maryland. He was General Gilmer's cook, was purveying for the general's table on Morris's Island, and had got lost on the Wadmalaw. He was an exceedingly plausible fellow, and after a close and searching examination professed to be wholly ignorant of the design of the Stono expedition. At last he was overcome by my refusal to receive or treat him as a prisoner of war. What then? He was made to apprehend that he would be turned loose, unmolested, to shift for himself. Fearing many imaginary dangers, that he would be shot as a straggler from the enemy, or be caught and sold as a slave and might never see his wife and family again, he made a full disclosure which proved in the sequel to be true, and enabled General Beauregard to forward reinforcements to General Finnegan. Just before these reinforcements were to depart for Florida, General Alex. Schimmelfinnig with 6,000 men crossed over the bars to Seabrook Island, and surprising the picket at the Haulover from that island to the main, he advanced up the Bohickett road and nearly reached the headquarters of Major Jenkins, in command at that point, twenty-five miles from Adams Run. Major Jenkins had no force but two companies of our brigade and Humphrey's troop of South Carolina calvary. The enemy divided into two columns of 3,000 each, the one moving up the Bohickett road, and the other moving to the right over the Mullet Hall creek which heads very near the left bank of the Bohickett. The 3,000 on the Bohickett road were gallantly [9] met by Humphreys and the two companies of infantry, Jenet's and another, and were so closely fought by them as to make them move very cautiously, and to give time for Colonel Page to reinforce Jenkins from Johns Island bridge with a portion of the 26th, and this small force, fighting for thirty-six hours saved Jenkins' headquarters and prevented the enemy from getting to the Abbepoola road, and made him, in fact, retire past the defile at the head of Mullet Hall, when I reached that defile with reinforcements from the 59th, the 46th and 34th, making our whole force but 900 men. Seeing that the 3,000 of the enemy were crossing the Mullet Hall, over the temporary bridging of the channel of that stream, and that they were trying to reach the defile in our rear, we fell back to what is called the ‘Cocked Hat,’ a short distance west of the defile and of the Abbepoola road, and there took position and opened fire from two batteries upon the columns of the enemy advancing on the Bohicket road; the 3,000 on the Mullet Hall threatening our left. In half an hour after the fight began, 900 of Colquitt's brigade, bound to Florida, left the railroad cars at Church Flats and reinforced our command. They were posted on the left to check the enemy at Mullet Hall creek, whilst our 900 repulsed the attacking columns on the Bohickett road. This was done handsomely, without loss save to the enemy. They fell back after several hours fighting, and the next morning we could see their strategy. They expected us to pursue them past the defile at the head of Mullet Hall when their forces on our left were to close it upon our rear. We were not to be caught in such a snare, and they were glad to retire in the night as they came. For this the command was highly commended by the report of Colonel Harris and the orders at headquarters. Colquitt's men proceeded the next day on their way to Florida, and were soon followed by our 26th and 59th, to join Finnegan, who met the enemy of the Stono fleet and conquered them gloriously at Olustee.

In April, 1864, we were ordered back to the defences of Richmond. Colonel Tabb, with a small portion only of his regiment, the 59th, was in advance, and was attacked front and rear at Nottoway Bridge, and had to fight in turns on both sides of the parapets thrown up there. He repelled the double attacks handsomely, but with the loss of his lamented Lieutenant-Colonel Jones. The brigade was pushed forward with all expedition, reached Petersburg punctually, and from that time to the surrender at Appomattox, was, I may say, constantly under the fire of the enemy in the trenches and fields around Petersburg and on the retreat. [10]

General Lee was at that time confronted by Grant at the Rapidan. General W. H. C. Whiting was placed in command of the defences of Petersburg, embracing the line of heavy fixed batteries supported by two small local battalions, about 150 militia, one Georgia battalion, and our brigade of infantry.

General Beauregard took his position with about 8,000 effective men at Drewry's Bluff, and all these forces were confronted by Butler's Army of the James, entrenched at City Point and at Cobb's in Howlett's Neck. On the 14th of May, 1864, he presented his plan of strategy to the War Department, at the head of which then were Mr. Seddon and General Bragg. Lee had about 45,000 effective forces; Beauregard about 15,000; and the plan he presented was for Lee to fall back upon the outer defences of Richmond and send to him, Beauregard, 15,000 reinforcements, making, with his own, 30,000 men with which to attack and conquer Butler, gain City Point, cross the James, and attack Grant's on the left and rear, whilst Lee should attack him in front. Thus Grant would have been cut off from the James below Richmond, Petersburg would have been relieved, and Grant's force of about 120,000 then could have been assailed front, flank and rear by 60,000 men under the two choicest generals of the Confederate army. This plan, unfortunately, was rejected by the President, and immediately thereafter General Bragg sent to General Whiting an order saying that General Lee was pressed very hard by Grant, and needed all the reinforcements which could be forwarded to him to save Richmond; and the defence of the capital being much more important than that of Petersburg, he was ordered with all despatch to report with all his available forces at Richmond. This order was submitted to me, his second in command, by General Whiting, for my opinion as to its execution. It was signed by General Bragg officially. I read it with care, and unequivocally gave the opinion that it should not be obeyed, for the reason that to abandon Petersburg was to abandon Drewry's Bluff, and to abandon the latter was to abandon Richmond. General Whiting declared that that was his own opinion, and ordered me at once to make the best preparation for the defence of Petersburg to the last extremity in my power. I state these facts because it has been denied that General Bragg ever issued such an order. It was read and considered by another besides General Whiting and myself. In two hours from the time it was received, and whilst I was issuing orders for the defence of Petersburg, General Whiting again sent for me to wait on him at his quarters. The moment I reported he [11] handed me an order to him from General Beauregard at Drewry's Bluff, to the front of which point Butler had advanced. The substance of that order was that he, Whiting, was, with all his available forces on both sides the Appomattox, Martin's and Wise's Brigade, numbering in all about 5,000 men, to cross the Appomattox and take the road across Campbell's Bridge by the coal pits, and join his right before daybreak the next morning, when he would attack Butler. In a few hours after this order was received, another order from Beauregard, changing this, came, ordering (J. G.) Martin's and Wise's Brigades to be at Dunlop's, on the Richmond and Petersburg turnpike, before daybreak the next morning, and thence at daybreak to move to the sound of Beauregard's guns.

It is lamentable to add that, owing to causes which affect the reputation of a brave and accomplished Confederate commander, who died nobly in battle afterwards, General Whiting did not move as promptly as he might. The two brigades were at Dunlop's before daybreak, and there awaited his orders until more than an hour by sun. They were moved then, and found the reserve of the enemy under General Terry in barricade at the Walthall Railroad junction with the Petersburg Railroad and the turnpike. Martin's Brigade was on the right and Wise's on the left, crossing the turnpike on which the enemy had thrown up their works. They were immediately charged, driven from their breastworks, across Bakehouse creek up the hill to their artillery, and in their flight their guns barely escaped capture. All their provisions were captured, and the brigades were passing on to the rear of the army retreating before Beauregard, when they were halted by General Whiting and ordered to fall back. But for this sad hindrance, the causes of which were fully reported, the victory of Beauregard would have been one of the most signal and decisive during the war. As it was, it was very decided in capturing 6,000 prisoners and in shutting Butler up, as General Grant said, in Howlett's Neck, ‘like a fly in a bottle.’ On the morning of the 17th the two brigades joined Beauregard's army, and from the 18th to the 28th of May, for ten days, there was heavy fighting on the whole picket lines, one-third of our brigade being required at a time to picket its front, making every day almost a general battle. At last the order came to charge and take the enemy's outer line at Howlett's, and it was captured from Ware Bottom Church on the James to the front of Cobb's on the Appomattox. The part borne by Martin's and Wise's Brigades upon the enemy in their front was without failure and a perfect success; 600 of the Wise Brigade, [12] under that perfect tactician, Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. Council, of the 36th, led the charge, supported by Martin, who was supported in a third line by the remaining portions of Wise's Brigade. The 600 carried the front before either brigade came up; so rapid and so undaunted was this charge of the 600 it was Balaklava like. This charge was made in open field for one-half a mile, under 10 guns, against a full line of infantry in parapet. The men, though falling ‘like leaves of Vallambrosa,’ moved steadily up under the point blank fire until within ten or twenty paces, when the enemy threw down their guns and cried for quarter. The reply was ‘too late!’ ‘too late!’ and the havoc which followed was appalling. The 600 passed beyond the line taken and had to be recalled. No more could be done but hold that line. After this line was captured and settled firmly, General Wise was sent with but one of his regiments, the 46th, and a Georgia battalion to support the local forces on the lines of Petersburg. His whole force was 800 men, including 113 militia under the gallant Colonel F. H. Archer, to defend a line of six and a half miles. Alas! when he came to count his brigade, numbering 2.40 men on the 16th May, he found the roster reduced to about 1,350. In the charge at Howlett's the Ben McCulloch Rangers, the best scouts of the army, were reduced from seventy-four to thirty-eight, and the Accomack Company from seventy-two to thirty-seven. It was Peter Paine of this company who cried ‘too late!’ by the nickname of which words he goes to this day, at his home on Matchatank creek in Accomack.

We were hardly posted on the lines of Petersburg when the 800 men in the defences were attacked by 5,000 mounted infantry, called Kautz's cavalry, with their sixteen shooters. They kept up feints of attack all the forenoon of the 9th of May, and at last swept around to our extreme right where the militia were posted and broke through. A force, two companies formed from the prisons and the hospitals, called the ‘Penitents and the Patients,’ were moved out on the Blandford fork of the road entering the city, and three companies moved from the left of the lines under Colonel Randolph Harrison of the 46th, to flank the entering enemy on the right, and they seeing the approach of the former in front, and of the latter on their right, retreated as rapidly as they had advanced; and Graham's field battery repulsed the column on the other fork of the road leading into the city. This saved Petersburg on that day.

Though Petersburg barely escaped by a successful defence against all odds, yet this caused a protest to General Beauregard against the [13] hazard of trusting its defense again to so small a force. He immediately reinforced us by sending the 26th and 34th of our command, still retaining the 59th and a portion of the 34th, west of the Appomattox; and this and some increase of the local forces, increased our effective force to just 2,200 men of all arms. This force could not in a thin skirmish line reach from battery No. 1 below the city to the plank road. The 46th and 26th were posted on the left from battery No. 1 to battery No. 6; tho 34th from battery No. 14 in the centre, and the Georgia battalion and the militia and irregular forces on the extreme right. Whilst in this position, the enemy numbering 22,200, including Hincks' corps of colored troops, commanded by (Wm. F.) ‘BaldySmith, advanced from City Point and Cobbs, at 3:30 o'clock A. M., and attacked Graham's battery and some of Dearing's cavalry below our line on the river road, by 8 A. M. on the 15th of June, 1864, and advanced in a body upon our left, from No. 1 to No. 5 where the worst constructed line of the war made a sharp salient angle, leaving the most commanding ground outside of our line in front. The battle was pressed hard upon the left until about 1 P. M., without making an impression, but our whole force had to be closed to the left, and at that hour a portion of the enemy deployed and advanced upon our centre, in front of the 34th with about 5,000 men, and took our rifle pits. The 34th charged and drove them out. Again the enemy retook the pits and were again driven out; and when they advanced the third time upon the pits, the whole regiment leapt the parapets and gloriously repulsed them. All this time the enemy was engaging the left, and this caused us necessarily to close upon the left and centre, and made a gap from battery 6 to battery 8, through which about 3,000 entered upon the right flank of the left and captured from battery 3 to battery 8 inclusive. We immediately closed upon the inner line from battery 2 to battery 14, and continued the struggle until 10:30 P. M., when we were reinforced by our 59th regiment and by (Johnson) Hagood's South Carolina brigade; the other reinforcements coming up before the morning of 16th. By daybreak that morning we opened with Bogg's battery upon the enemy, and the fight was continued that day until about eleven o'clock at night. Bushrod R. Johnson's old brigade was on a hill on our extreme right, and between it and our 26th regiment the space was not filled by any troops whatever. Colonel Page was there in command of our brigade, General Wise being in command of the District. The latter however was on the ground with Page all the day of the 16th and parted with him at 11 [14] P. M., to see that General Johnson would have the gap filled up. He reported to Johnson and warned him of the disaster likely to occur before sunrise the next morning. He professed to have issued the proper orders, but they were not executed, and the next morning Johnson's Brigade gave way, the 26th was flanked on the right, and Colonel P. R. Page and Captain Geo. D. Wise fell in a few minutes of each other; near by fell Major Patrick H. Fitzhugh, crossing the bayonets of the enemy with his sword; there too fell the gallant flagbearer of the 46th, the indomitable hero, Louis Rogers, and near him Otho West, both of Accomack; there too fell the brave Major J. C. Hill, of the 46th, whilst bearing up the flag, and Rogers the flag-bearer, and there too fell Lieutenant-Colonel Peyton Wise,1 and a large member of others killed and wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Wise and Major Hill survive, but Page lies at Blandsford Cemetery, Captain Wise, our brigade inspector, at Hollywood, and the body of Fitzhugh fell into the hands of the enemy. Poor fellow! he had heard his son was butchered at Battery No. 5 by the colored troops, after his surrender; the last that I saw of him he was in tears swearing the Hannibal's oath that he would at every hazard avenge his son's death. The story was false, his son was captured only, and yet survives. After this commenced the life of the trenches and scenes like that of the Crater. Colonel Goode succeeded Page in the command of the brigade, and when the mine was sprung Gracie's Brigade was on the left and ours on the right of it. As sudden as the explosion the enemy rushed through the gap made by its terrific blast and a portion of them got to our inner line. Gracie's Brigade and ours firing obliquely right and left continuously for six hours, without relief, kept the enemy down where they lodged and kept them back in front until Mahone's Brigade was brought six miles from the right to charge the enemy in the trenches as they did most triumphantly. Here, too, havoc was made among the best and bravest of our brigade. I have not time or space to tell of our picket losses and of the sufferings of the trenches. Early in March, 1865, we were ordered to Lee's extreme right at Hatcher's Run. Then commenced the preliminaries of the retreat, strong guards near [15] Burgess's Mill, where the plank road crossed our line. On the 28th of March the firing became hot and heavy, we felt that something had given way on our left. Sheridan's mounted infantry (miscalled cavalry) was bearing on Five Forks, and General Pickett was advanced to that point at the head of Gravelly Run fork, on the White Oak road; and General Meade's corps of 25,000 men was advancing in our front across Arthur's creek. Ransom's and Hunton's brigades were taken from our division, to reinforce Pickett at Five Forks and Evans' old brigade, of South Carolina, then commanded by General W. H. Wallace, and our brigade were alone left at Hatcher's Run. On the 29th March, our brigade was ordered into line of battle at the point near Burgess' Mill, where what is called the Military road, forks with the plank road to Dinwiddie C. H., and General Wise was ordered to advance quickly ‘on the Military road, to Gravelly Run, guiding by the centre, and to fight everything in our way.’ We threw the 34th and 46th on the right of the road, and the 26th and 59th on the left. Within six hundred yards from the place where the brigade was ordered forward, we struck the enemy obliquely, diverging from left to right. They were in four lines, which we charged and broke, and drove the first upon the second and the second upon the third, until the four lines were massed in our front, in a dense growth of pine thicket on the right and a heavy growth of oak, with an undergrowth of Black Jack, on the left of the road, at the distance of ten to twenty paces on the left and thirty on the right. But the line of the enemy being so much longer than our own, the angle at which we struck them gave them an enfilade fire on our left; nevertheless, under the order to lie flat and shoot from a rest on the elbows, we maintained the dreadful conflict for one hour and a half, when the 59th and 26th were obliged to break; but they soon rallied on General Wallace in reserve at the forks, came up again with his brigade to the aid of the 46th and 34th, until Wallace and the 26th, 59th and 46th were again broken and gave way, leaving the 34th alone under fire, where it stood and fought to within thirty paces of the enemy's artillery until thrice ordered to retreat. We fell back again to the parapet at Hatcher's Run, rested the 30th there, and on the 31st again were ordered to fall in on the left of McGowan's Brigade and charge the enemy. The 59th were left to guard the trenches, and the 26th, 34th and 46th went into the charge. They, with McGowan's Brigade, did good execution in staggering the overpowering columns of Meade, and in delaying their advance to Five Forks. In these two fights a number of the [16] best and bravest fell among the killed and wounded, among whom were Lieutenant-Colonel Harrison, of the 34th; Captain Barksdale, of the 59th, and Lieutenant Barksdale Warwick, of my staff, who died with a smile of the guadia certaminis on his face, struck whilst waving his sword and shouting ‘Charge! Charge!’

On the night of the 31st we fell back across Hatcher's Run to Sutherland's on the S. S. R. Road and pressed forward after Hunton to reinforce Pickett at Five Forks. On Sabbath morning the 1st April, we reached Church Crossings, and were kneeling to God, under the prayers of Chaplain W. E. Wiatt of the 26th, when an order announced the defeat of Pickett at Five Forks and that we must fall back to the Appomattox. On Sunday at noon we reached the Namozine creek, and lodged our right on its banks. The enemy came up immediately, whilst we were throwing up breast-works, and Sheridan's cavalry sounded the bugle notes of charge until night-fall, from a heavy wood in our front. This was but a feint to deceive Fitz Lee's dismounted cavalry on our left. At dark the enemy pressed decidedly upon him, when he called for reinforcements from the infantry. We ordered the 59th down the breast-works immediately, leaped them before reaching the cavalry, formed at right angles to the breast-works on the enemy's left, and scattered them at the first volley. That night we crossed the Namozine, and the next day, the 2nd of April, crossed the Winticomack creek, and as we reached the defile at Deep creek near Mannsboro, Sheridan's cavalry in position at the defile, opened a galling fire upon our advanced guard. The 59th had been ordered to assist in bringing up the rear, and thus we consisted then of the 26th under the younger Perrin, the elder having been badly shattered to pieces at the charge at Howlett's the year before; the 46th under Captain Abbott, Colonels Harrison and Wise being both wounded and exempted, and the 34th under Colonel J. Thomas Goode. Immediately upon the fire we turned the head of our column obliquely to the right through an open field to a curtilage of houses, where the 26th and 46th were posted, and the 34th was deployed to the open ground on our right, to decoy a charge upon it passing the front of the other two regiments behind the houses. The decoy succeeded. The enemy had dismounted, tied their horses on the other side of the creek some 600 yards off, and charged on foot obliquely by the houses, upon the 34th, until they came close in front of the 26th and 46th which burst upon their right flank so sudden and so sharp that they broke and fled, and were so pressed by the three regiments, they could [17] not reach their horses and mount in time to prevent a severe loss of men and horses. Here we were halted for the entire line to pass, with orders to bring up the rear. Thence we passed on by Amelia C. H., Jetersville and Deatonsville, zig-zagging from right to left, and from left to right and skirmishing the whole way until we came to the forks of Sailor's creek, near Jamestown, and the High Bridge, on the 6th April. What was left of our division, Wise's brigade of Virginia, and Wallace's of South Carolina, were posted on the left of Pickett's division, then reduced to an inconsiderable number by the stampede at Five Forks. Corse's brigade and Ransom's had stood their ground there well, and suffered very much. Whilst in position at the forks of the road when the baggage train passed to the right and the artillery to the left, we were ordered to detail two regiments to guard the left of Wallace's brigade; the 26th and 59th were detailed, and when the order came as it did, to join Pickett on his left and attack the enemy, we had but two regiments, the 46th and 34th, to go into the fight with. We came in half rifle range of the enemy near the east fork of Sailor's creek on our left; Wallace's brigade came up between our two regiments and the east fork, when we found that the enemy were coming up on our left, and we were annoyed by an enfilading fire. In our front was a curtilage of houses, dwelling, kitchen, barns, stables and tobacco-houses reaching a half mile, and with a large graveyard inclosed by a rough stone wall, all filled by the enemy who were pouring in a fire so galling that we were compelled to lie down in the copse of pine where we were posted. The enemy had broken the forces under General Ewell, and were then pouring down upon our left. Under these circumstances, we detailed two companies from the 34th under Captain William Jordan, of Bedford county, to drive off the sharpshooters who were enfilading our left, which duty he did with signal efficiency, and Colonels Abner Perrin and Tabb coming up at the time to the left of Wallace, they were ordered to support Jordan with the 26th and 59th Regiments and to push the enemy until they came opposite their right flank in our front. The moment they did so we charged in front upon the stone wall and houses, and Perrin and Tabb and Jordan charged upon the enemy's right flank, and we broke them thoroughly, and drove them some one and a half to two miles, unassisted by either the forces of Wallace or Pickett, when Colonel (R. P.) Duncan, of General Anderson's staff, ordered us to fall back to Pickett's rear to form at right angles to his line and to retreat to the road of our march. We had hardly formed and began [18] to move in his rear before Pickett's whole command stampeded, leaving our artillery in the enemy's hands, and they were exploding our caissons in a lane in our front. We pressed forward across a branch of the west fork of Sailor's creek, and were surrounded by the enemy entirely on our rear and left and half way down our front. Wallace's Brigade broke and fled to a woods on our right. We pressed up a hill in our front, halted behind a worm fence on the crest, fired three volleys to the rear, and retreating again, moved quickly down the hill, putting it between us and the enemy in our rear, and poured three volleys obliquely to the left and front, broke the enemy and got out. Here the 26th showed its exemplary drill. Perrin gallantly rallied his regiment, and upon its nucleus we formed and seized the whole brigade in sight of the broken enemy. After rallying and forming, we poured three volleys into the woods where Wallace's Brigade were ensconced, and it raised a white flag and came out to us and formed and marched with us safely off the field, and gained our road past the enemy. Anderson, Pickett and (B. R.) Johnson had left the field before we cut through and gone on to the high bridge and Farmville. At one o'clock at night we reached the high bridge and found it shut down. After getting over it we marched a mile or more on towards Farmville, and bivouacked until the morning of the 7th. We were overcome by exhaustion, and without food or refreshment of any kind. There was no water but the pools, as red as brick dust, in the soil of that region. Colonel J. Thomas Goode, Captain Jordan and myself washed or cooled our faces and hands in the same pool the next morning, and neither of us had a handkerchief or towel to wipe with, and consequently the paint of the red water remained on our faces and at the edges of our hair; and during the night a soldier of the 34th found me sleeping without a blanket or coat on the chilling earth—the enemy had captured my orderly and body-servant, with my cloak and two of my horses—a wounded man at Sailor's creek had escaped on my riding horse proper—and the noble private, whom I don't know, wrapped me, more dead than alive, in his coarse gray blanket, pinning it on with a wire pin, both of which I have now, and the gold of Ophir could not buy them! With a face painted like an Indian, with the gray blanket around me, and with the Confederate Tyrolese hat on—not off, as ridiculously stated—and muddy all over, I put myself on foot at the head of the two brigades and marched on the railroad to near Farmville. There an officer of General Lee met me and ordered us to move to him, then in sight on his gray. Turning the head of the [19] column to the right, down the railroad embankment, we marched across the open field to where he was sitting in his saddle, with General B. R. Johnson on his horse a little in the rear. The latter had fled from Sailor's creek and reported me killed and the whole division cut to pieces and dispersed. As I moved up with the two brigades I saw that General Lee was suppressing a laugh. I knew he had a sub-vein of humor, which he was hardly concealing when he saw my appearance—that of a Comanche savage. He was right; I was savage and looked like an Indian, and waited not to be accosted, when I exclaimed with an oath: ‘General Lee, these men shall not move another inch unless they have something more to eat than parched corn taken from starving mules!’ He smiled with great blandness, and said:

“They deserve something to eat, sir. Let them, without taking down the fence, move to the trees on yonder hill, and they shall be filled for once at least. And you, General Wise, will pause here a moment with me.” When the brigades passed on he turned to me and said: ‘You, sir, will take command of all these forces.’ There were no organized forces but the two brigades I came up with, in sight; there were thousands of disorganized troops in all directions without order or command. I protested that I could not take such a command. I had no horses. He ordered me to get a horse and make all the stragglers and disorganized men fall into my ranks. I told him that it would put my brigade hors du combat, to have to play field marshal for such a disorganized mass. He said: ‘You must obey your order, sir.’ I replied: ‘I will, sir, or die a trying, but I must first understand it. It is not the men who are deserting the ranks, but the officers who are deserting the men who are disorganizing your army. Do you mean to say, General Lee, that I must take command of all men of all ranks?’ looking at General B. R. Johnson. Lee then understood my meaning, turned his head the other way to smile, said: ‘Do your duty, sir.’ And I first went to breakfast and then to the work which wound up at Appomattox on the 9th, when and where I signed the paroles of more than 5,000 men besides those of my own brigade. It was this which gave rise to the ridiculous story lately published in the newspapers of the day and in Harper's Magazine. The correspondent, as usual, blundered upon enough of fact to make fiction murder truth, and make me ludicrous. It was the proudest moment of my life, and I am glad to explain its true history.

Without intermission I was with that brigade in whole and in part [20] from April, 1861, until April 9th, 1865, under the eye of General Lee from the first to the last scenes of the war, and we parted with each other on parole at Appomattox. Alas! how few were there at last of those who were comrades with us at first. There were less than 1,000 left of the 2,850 who returned from Charleston in April, 1864, Less than half were paroled of 2,400 who charged at Howlett's. Their last, after fighting in nineteen battles, was their most glorious charge; and they fired the last guns of the infantry at Appomattox. Of this and other commands, Gloucester's dead were piled on every battle field: Page, Taylor, Fitzhugh, Puller, Ellis, Robins, Hibble, Baytop, Millers, Roane, Bridges, Banks, Norton, Amory, Cooke, Edwards, Griffin, Massey, Newcomb, Bristow, Jones, Barry, Ware, Simcoe, R. B. Jones, Kenan, Pitts, Pointer, Leigh, Jeff Dutton, Elijah Dutton, Vincent Edwards, Dunstan, Hughes, Evans, Cary, Thos. Robins, Freeman, John Roane, Jenkins, Hobday, Albert Roane, Ransome, White, J. W. Robins, Woodland, Cooper, Summerson, Williams, Hogg, Sparrow, T. J. Hibble, Alex. Dutton, John Edwards, Rich, Dutton again, Dunbar Edwards, Gwyn—I cease to call the roll, for they are absent by fifties and hundreds, and not a man answers to his name!

In this succinct, didactic narrative, not half justice could be done to these martys to civil liberty. Their lives and deaths were the most beautiful epic poems. They will be sung and celebrated as long as liberty lasts; as long as a love for it sighs for its loss and their sacrifice. There was nothing sordid or selfish in the high motives or objects of their death struggle. The chief injustice done to their memories is in seeming to think or say that they fought and died in vain for some mere material property, profit, advantage, or possession. Nothing could be more unjust to them, or more untrue in fact. They were no hirelings; they were no men of expediency. They loved virtue for virtue's sake, honor for honor's sake, justice for justice's sake, truth for truth's sake, right for right's sake. They never stooped to ask: ‘Will it pay?’ They had faith, feelings, affections, sense of the intellect to know their rights, and knowing them, the courage to maintain them through all hazards, and to the last extremity, they had a sense of honor, a sense of self-respect, a sense of wrong, a sense of duty and a physiical and moral power of resistance to the tyranny of usurpation and oppression. Their physical power was expended in the war, but their moral power still exists unimpaired, except by those who call their consecrated cause ‘A Lost Cause;’ except [21] by those who say that ‘the best they can do’ is to desert the faith of that cause; to lose its feelings and fortitudes; to take test oaths; to beg for pardons; to confess the charge of treason, not only to acknowledge the guilt of the highest felony known to the calendar of human crime, for themselves, but in fact and effect to inscribe treason on the graves of these heroic martyrs; to choose the school of morals which teaches the doctrine of taking lesser evils; to approve and endorse the blackest wrongs done to this generation and its heirs forever, against which these immolated comrades fought and died! This thing which we now hear called ‘accepting the situation’ is very different from the acceptance of the situation which these dead comrades made in the pride of patriotism when they accepted graves rather than servile submission, when they tasted death rather than ‘eat dirt’ and live! They made thousands of the foe ‘bite the dust’ rather than be conquered to wear chains by consent and approval. If they were traitors I and every leader of theirs who led them to battle and to death, Lee and all, were murderers! They were not traitors, and Lee and I and others whom they followed were not their murderers! The morale of their lives and deaths still lives in the memory of the glorious deeds they did, and their examples are immortal. The rights for which they contended and their defence of those rights constituted ‘the Confederate Cause.’ And that cause is as undying as those rights are indestructible, and as their defence was glorious! They were true to that Cause, the substance of which was not to be masters of slaves, but that others should not be their masters, and they were true to the last ditch of its defence, and to the death! Yes! After the bones of these devoted martyrs shall have mouldered into dust; after the deserters of their faith and memories and examples shall have died in the easiest situations which they can accept, and they and their treason shall have rotted and been forgotten, the cause of freedom for which these noble Confederates fell—the freedom of conscience and the freedom of self-government, guarded by a standard of fundamental law of its honest administration—the Confederate Cause shall survive and revive and find champions, though its champions for the time be made martyrs! The blood of these martyrs shall be the seeds of new life and new liberty for all the ages of time! and the moral monuments of ‘These True Men,’ without marble and without brass, shall be eternal!

I wish it was permitted by this occasion, dedicated to the dead, to speak of and to the survivors of these their comrades, who so [22] nobly made up their accounts and passed away, leaving a duty, a sacred duty, to be performed by the living. There are many of those living who were true in the rank and file of the army, who were to tread with cautious steps and not forget to pay and not to mistake the way of paying the debt due to the fallen. You propose to build them a shrine. That shrine will be nothing—it will be vain, a mockery—if every one of your own hearts and heads are not shrines, in which the memories of these men are embalmed. Your hearts cannot be their shrines if you have not performed your part too like true men, worthy of their example.

Let us, the living, gather their ashes to the grave-yards of the old homesteads, and con the moral of their lives and deaths, that—

Integrity of life is fame's best friend,
Which nobly beyond death shall crown the end.

[From the New Orleans Picayune, Feb 10, 1895.]

1 Colonel, subsequently known as General Peyton Wise, from a post-bellum commission in the State Line, became a prominent and useful citizen of Richmond. He was an accomplished gentleman, as frank and warm-hearted as he was courageous, and possessed powers of oratory of a high order. He died March 29th, 1897, in his fifty-eighth year, honored and widely beloved.

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