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[224]

Hagood's brigade had been on the north side of the James river, confronting Grant's army, from before the battle of Cold Harbor, on the 3d of June, along down the Chickahominy, Malvern Hill, and Haws's Shop; and on the morning of the 16th were on the north bank of the James river, near the pontoon bridge at Drewry's Bluff. We were hurriedly marched across the bridge to the south side of the James, and on to the Petersburg and Richmond railroad, near Chester Courthouse. It was a cool morning, and as I was marching near Major Rion, there came to my nose the most fragrant scent a weary soldier ever inhaled.

“What is that?” I asked.

“Hush,” said Orderly-Sergeant Malone, of D, the front company, ‘Major Rion has opened his brandy flask.’ Rion always carried a flask filled with French brandy for an emergency, and, wearied with the fatiguing campaign and march, he had taken a morning dram. I believe the smell did me as much good as the dram did for him.

We came to the railroad, about sixteen miles or so from Petersburg, and halted along the track. The 7th, under Colonel Rion, was in front and nearest to Petersburg. Towards evening, Major Ed. Willis, of the Quartermaster's department, came along from Richmond with an engine, tender, and two cars. He called for two companies of volunteers from the brigade to go to Petersburg. Colonel Rion stepped out and said: ‘The whole battalion will go.’ He directed me to put the eight companies, comprising some 500 men, on the train. It was close packing, standing and sitting, inside and outside, on engine, tender and cars. I was on top taking in the scenery and the pine smoke from the engine. I was a dirty white man before we started, but by the time we arrived in Petersburg I was black.

Right across Pocahontas Bridge and up the Main street we marched, my blackness illuming and leading the way. It was just after Wise's brigade had given way. They were running back, some hatless, some shoeless, and nearly all without guns. The women of Petersburg were out on the sidewalks, carrying their household goods from place to place.

“What brigade is that?” they asked.

Hagood's brigade,” I proudly answered.

“We are safe now,” said they, as they went down on their knees on the pavements. Hagood's brigade had saved them twice recently


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