Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 14.djvu/13
Annual Reunion of Pegram Battalion Association.
But time would fail did I attempt further to recall all the glorious scenes with which Memory, plying her busy loom, proudly fills up every rent in these tattered colors. Often in our mother-land beyond the seas—in the great cathedrals of Chester and Worcester and Canterbury and Winchester—have I passed all unheeding by the tombs of her princes and her kings, and paused with beating heart and head uncovered before the battle-grimed standards of her famous
lied defiance in the centre of the forty guns commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Pegram crowning the heights of Spotsylvania. Who can ever forget the stirring scene as the enemy gallantly debouched from the woods on that day, brigade front, moving across the open ground to, attack, colors flying and men cheerig. On the Confederate front all was silent; a dozen rounds of canister had been "runup" to each gun, the guns already shotted, primers fixed, lanyards taut—all waiting for the word. Our young commander rode slowly up and down his line, his glorious boyish face flushing through its bronze, his voice deep with the joy of hotly-impending fight, speaking briefly to each battery-commander: "Captain, shoot the first man who pulls a lanyard before I raise my sabre as the signal." Can you ever forget how he waited and waited until the enemy seemed almost in the guns—then his sabre flashed suddenly and swiftly in the air, and the double canister tore with dreadful accuracy through the cheering lines which seemed to fall as one man. The remnant breaking sought the cover of the woods, where, reinforced by fresh troops, they once more tried the desperate venture; but, recoiling a second time under the withering fire, broke again and finally fled, leaving their dead and dying on the field along the whole front. Yet a third time did these gallant fellows attempt to reach the heights. Then it was that the men of this Battalion, seized as it were by a sort of delirium of disdainful daring, dropping sponge-staff and lanyard, sprang upon the parapets and bade them "Come on" with such a roar of defiance that the whole attacking line, without a shot being fired on our side, broke and fled under that fierce yell which no man ever yet heard unmoved on the field of battle.—Yet, once more, comrades, it seems but yesterday that as Grant attempted to force the passage of the North Anna, following this flag we galloped into action at Jericho Ford, all twenty guns, with cannoneers mounted, while the men of Harry Heth's division, on whose front we came into battery, roared out their rough soldier's greeting with "make way, men, make way right and left, here comes the fighting Battalion!"'