Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/36
Southern Historical Society Papers.
"Rebel yell," and continued our onward run, for we actually ran, at our greatest speed, after the disordered host in our front. We could see they had a much larger force than ours, but we cared not for numbers. We had never regarded superior numbers since we entered service; in fact, rather enjoyed it. The victory was then the more creditable to us. We learned afterwards that the Sixth and Nineteenth Army Corps, with their full ranks and splendid equipments, were our opponents. As we moved forward we passed scores, yes, hundreds, of dead and wounded Yankees, and a large number of prisoners were captured. We passed entirely through the woods, and into the open space beyond, when we halted for a moment, and then formed our line in the edge of the woods. While the lines were being established, Major Peyton, A. A. G. to General Rodes, rode up, and an indescribable, unexplainable something, I know not what, carried me to his side as he sat upon his horse. I had heard nothing, not even a rumor nor whispered suggestion, yet something impelled me to ask, in a low tone, "Major, has General Rodes been killed?" In an equally low, subdued tone, that gallant officer answered, "Yes, but keep it to yourself; do not let your men know it." "Then who succeeds to the command of the division?" I asked. "General Battle," said he, and rode on to the next brigade. The dreaded news of Major-General Rodes' sudden death, at such a critical moment, distressed and grieved me beyond expression. There was no better officer in the entire army than he; very few as brave, skillful and thoroughly trained. His men regarded him as second only to General Lee, excelled by none other. Robert E. Rodes was born at Lynchburg, Virginia, and graduated at the Virginia Military Institute; served two years as assistant professor, and afterwards became chief engineer of the A. & C. R. R. of Alabama. He entered the army as captain of a company from Tuscaloosa, was elected Colonel of the Fifth Alabama Regiment, and soon after promoted Brigadier-General, and succeeded General Ewell in command of the Fifth, Sixth and Twelfth Alabama and Twelfth Mississippi regiments. The latter regiment was transferred, and its place supplied by the Third and Twenty-sixth Alabama regiments. He was wounded at Seven Pines and Sharpsburg. At Chancellorsville, in command of D. H. Hill's old division, he led the advance, and swept everything before him. His clarion voice shouting, "Forward, men, over friend or foe," electrified his troops, and they were irresistible. They pushed on, under his gallant leadership, and completely routed the panic-