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The Fredericksburg artillery, Captain Edward S. Marye, [from the times-dispatch, January 8, 1905.]

In the three days battle at Fredericksburg, July, 1863.

First appearance of the Confederate States flag with White field.

Deaths of Lieutenants Morris and Eustace.

By C. R. Fleet (now of Lynchburg, Va.); Edited by U. S. Senator J. W. Daniel.
On the morning of July I, 1863, the Fredericksburg Artillery, Captain Edward S. Marye commanding (better known as Braxton's Battery, from its first captain), marched with the advance brigades of Heth's division (Archer's and Davis's brigades) from Cashtown, taking the turnpike toward Gettysburg. About 9 o'clock we struck a small body of cavalry. The two brigades formed line of battle, and two of our guns were unlimbered in front of a brick building which looked like an old Virginia county courthouse tavern. We opened fire on the squad of cavalry, scattering them immediately. This was the first artillery fire in the battle of Gettysburg.

In a few minutes we limbered up and proceeded on our march for a mile or thereabouts and took position in the edge of a beautiful oak grove on the left of the pike. Here we were soon hotly engaged with the enemy's batteries, one of which we learned afterwards was Grimes' Battery of regulars. Their firing was steady and well aimed, though none of our battery was struck in this position. Lieutenant Morris, battalion ordnance officer, a gallant young gentleman, was mortally wounded here, while riding in rear of our guns across the line of fire.

After being in this position for perhaps a half or one hour, we moved down into a plain, where we were joined by the other batteries of the battalion (Pegram's). While in this position we fired into a group of officers, some of whom fell and one of whom was carried off on a litter. We supposed afterwards that this was General Reynolds, a gallant Federal officer, who did receive his death [241] wound from an artillery shell. Running diagonally across our front was a railroad cut, in which were a number of infantry, perhaps as many as a regiment, which were annoying us with their minie balls. Colonel Pegram ordered two guns of the Letcher battery to fire obliquely to the right in this cut. (We were too far to the right to fire into the mouth of this cut.) Two or three shots from the Letcher battery brought the infantry out in ‘roughrolland-tum-ble’ fashion. It was amusing to watch Martin Douglas, a great big Galway Irishman, a member of the Letcher battery, fire his gun. He was number four at the gun, whose duty it is to pull the lanyard which fires the charge. Before pulling his lanyard he would, every time, cross himself and mutter, ‘Lord, be marsiful to their poor souls.’

The Federal infantry driven from the cut fell back into the turnpike, slightly depressed at this point, its side bank thus forming a fair breastwork. By some oversight, or hurry, or misunderstanding two flags were left standing in their front some twenty or thirty yards. These flags led to a gallant little hand-to-hand fight between three Confederates and as many Federal soldiers, who had sprung from their respective sides and rushed forward, the one to capture and the other to save the flags. Two on each side were killed or wounded, the one Confederate left carrying off triumphantly the regimental flag, while the remaining ‘boy in blue’ bore away the ‘Stars and Stripes.’ General Lee came on that part of the field later in the afternoon, and, being told of the gallant act, called up the young solder, and the writer heard him thank him in his dignified and courteous way for his zeal and courage and promised to report it to President Davis. How we bystanders envied that young fellow those words of thanks from our great leader.

To resume the record of our battery: While in this position we ceased firing after an hour or two as Rodes's division came sweeping across the field from our left, bearing for the first time the new Confederate flag, with the white field and the beloved battle flag for a union. How we yelled as we saw this splendid body of men swing into perfect line and rush forward to the charge! And with what anxiety of heart did we watch that new flag in its onset, praying that it might not fall, but continue its onward course to wave in triumph over our enemies! It went onward in its proud course as that gallant division swept everything before it, and we trusted it was an omen of victory.

After this onset there was comparatively little fighting the balance [242] of the day, and we were moved across the pike to a position almost exactly in the centre of General Lee's lines. This position we held for the remaining two days of the great battle, doing our part in the terrific artillery duels of both days, losing our gallant Lieutenant Eustace and several privates, and witnessing that grand infantry charge on the third day, which has seldom been equalled and never surpassed in the history of the war. We fired our guns until too hot to hold the hand on them, and then waited—and waited—and waited until heart-sick at the inexplicable delay in the forward movement which we knew was to follow. Oh, how we missed our old commander, ‘Old Jack,’ who would so promptly have taken advantage of the enemy's demoralization from the splendid artillery firing. The charge came too late, as we all know now.

As our battery started from Fredericksburg for the Pennsylvania campaign the writer donned, as the best he could get, a pair of old shoes thrown away by one of the boys who had received a new pair from his home nearby. This ancient and holey foot-gear he wore and kept together by diligent care and sundry strings all through that tedious and muddy march. But on that second day they utterly refused further service and had to be consigned to shoe cemetery, to become food for goats or crumble into the inhospitable Pennsylvania dust. About the same time his caisson was blown up by a shot from the enemy, and along with it went all his rations, which had been tied on this caisson. The melange of external gray with internal blue, resulting from a sense of defeat in battle, a two or three days hunger (which could have been borne cheerfully if we had won the battle), and utterly bare and very tender feet can better be imagined than described. More rations were obtained on the afternoon of July 5th, but the poor feet had to tough it out till they were carried back to old Virginny.

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George E. Pegram (2)
Eldridge Morris (2)
Edward S. Marye (2)
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