Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 14.djvu/537

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The Campaign from the Wildeiiiess to Petershurg. 531

The Sixth corps was sent by General Grant about 6 A. M., to re- inforce Hancock, and somewhat later he sent two divisions of War- ren's corps. General Lee sent to the assistance of General Rodes, on whose front the confined battle raged, three brigades during the day — McGowan's South Carolina brigade, Perrin's Alabama brigade and Harris's brigade of Mississippians. Now, Rodes's division at the beginning of the campaign was about six thousand five hundred muskets, and it had already done some heavy fighting in the Wilder ness and on the Spotsylvania lines. The brigades sent to his assist- ance did not number twenty-five hundred men. So that Rodes, with less than ten thousand men, kept back for eighteen hours more than one half of General Grant's infantry, supported by a heavy fire of Federal artillery. There was one continuous roll of musketry from dawn till midnight. The Spotsylvania tree cut down by bullets W'-as a proof, not only oi the closeness of the contestants, but of the narrow space to which the battle was confined. During the day there was a second repetition of the occurrence of the 6th of May. General Lee had his position nearly all day near a point on Heth's line to the left of Spotsylvania Courthouse. Rodes sent to him ask- ing for reinforcements. He sent me to the right of the line to guide Harris's brigade of Mississippians from the right of our line down to Rodes. The brigade, in coming across from the right, passed near General Lee's position. He rode out from a little copse alone and placed himself by General Harris's side at the head ol his column. Soon the troops came under the artillery fire of the enemy. General Lee's horse reared under the fire, and a round shot passed under him very near the rider's stirrup. The men halted and shouted to him to go back, and, in fact, refused to move if he marched with them, hie told them he would go back if they would only promise him to retake the lines. The men shouted, in response, "We willl We will, General Lee!" He then repeated the order to me to guide them down to General Rodi s, and rode slowly away towards Heth's lines. The Mississippians marched on with steady step to the front — "Into the mouth of hell, marched the eight hundred;" theirs but to do and die, for they had promised Lee. They cheered lustily the gallant Rodes, as they passed into the deadly fray. Coming in at a time when Ramseur was heavily pressed, the day was saved. This was the last reinforcement sent in. The lines were not retaken, but the enemy was pressed back into the narrow angle and held there on the defensive until midnight. The homely simplicity of General Lee in these scenes of the 6th and i2th of May, is in striking contrast with the theatrical tone of the famous order of Napoleon at Auster-