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The Palmetto Button a sufficient pass.

A writer in the South Carolina Spartan relates the following interesting incident:

Lieut.Col. McGirto, of the 17th Mississippi regiment, was kind enough to accompany me in my tour of duty as field officer, in visiting the several regiments and inspecting the several posts of pickets stationed on Bull's Bun at the several fords, bridges and crossings. I hope I will be pardoned for mentioning an incident that was really more pleasant after the occurrence than while occurring. After partaking of the kind hospitality of Cols. Williams, Foster and Major Baxter of the 3d regiment, who were encamped at Mitchell's Ford on Bull's Run, we proceeded down the Run, immediately on the banks of the stream, following a narrow pathway to Wolford Ford, about one mile distant from Col. Williams' camp, to inspect the picket from Col. W.'s regiment, stationed to guard that crossing. There we found a strong picket, strictly and rigidly performing the important duty assigned them.

We approached the sentinel, announced our business and official position for the day. The pickets all turned out and received us kindly. All were entirely strangers to each of us. After examining the ford and giving the instructions ordered to be given, we bade them adieu, and passed down the Run, in continuation of the tour of examination. After having gone about 300 yards down the creek we stopped a few moments to examine an old crossing place. When looking up the stream, we saw a sergeant and three soldiers full tilt after us, with guns cocked, ordering us to halt and approach them, which command we readily obeyed. As we approached the sergeant and guard we found that each had his gun cocked and finger on the trigger, ready to blaze away if we had not promptly halted.

The sergeant remarked, ‘"I am fearful, sire, we have not done our duty in permitting you to visit and pass our pickets without first having shown your pass. We don't know who you are. We are not to know you without a pass or signal. You may be spies for all we know" I stated to him that the commanding General had appointed me field officer of the day, and had ordered us to visit that post, but had not given me any pass, not deeming it necessary."’ ‘"That may all be true, but I don't know it. You must show me some authority."’ I remarked to him again that I had no pass, and that the only evidence I could give him of who I was, and that I was not an enemy, was my Palmetto buttons. He heartily and readily replied, ‘"Oh! that will do, that will do! If you have on Palmetto buttons you can certainly pass."’ I encouraged him in the prompt and vigilant performance of his duty, and bade him a kind adieu.

We then crossed the Run in Fairfax county, and proceeded several miles down to Union Mill, where we found a strong picket stationed. One entire company of Virginians, from Col. Kemper's (Virginia) Regiment encamped near by. The pickets were stationed near one mile thickly on both sides of the stream — This picket was really without the limits of our brigade. As I approached each picket I stated the object of my mission, but that there's no pass, and that the only evidence I could give or show of who I was or where I was from was my Palmetto buttons, which to every picket was a ready and current passport, with a pleasant smile and graceful salute from each one as we passed After reaching our camp we felt truly gratified that we had passed the ordeal safely and free from arrest or bullets, and considered it not only an honor, but the highest privilege, to wear Palmetto buttons.

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Charles J. Williams (2)
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McGirto (1)
Kemper (1)
Foster (1)
Bull (1)
Baxter (1)
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