Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 17.djvu/425
and was still, his venerable head-gear surmounting his gray locks to the last.
So far from losing, the Federal fire appeared to gain intensity. The balls seemed to whiz closer and more viciously than at first, and we subsequently learned the Union Colonel was successfully opera- ting* a stratagem upon us. He had made some of his best shots crawl under the timber, and they were picking us off. Our color- bearer had special attention. Time and again as I turned to reload I could see the colors almost jerked out of his hands as a ball tore through the cloth. He hung on manfully, and though the flag had twenty -seven bullet-holes through it, and was twice shot out of his hands, brought her out safe at last. The Virginia Legislature gave him a sword of honor, and he wore it until he fell.
A TEMPORARY PANIC.
We had now been about seven hours in action, some two at this particular point, and the strain was intense. Off on the right one fellow sprang up, dropped his gun to a trail, and made off back into the woods like a quarter-horse. The panic instantly spread, and up and down the line men took to their heels. To tell the honest truth, I gave leg-bail myself, but at the second or third bound a revered and gentle voice, now long silent, whispered reproach, and I wheeled about and caught at the nearest fugitive. He tore loose and half knocked me over. A young officer ran up to the rescue, and as he nailed one man I seized another. They, too, broke away. The offi- cer presented his sword to the next man's breast, and throwing my musket arms-a-port I halted two. For one instant there was a rally ; the next they surged over us, and made off as if the devil was be- hind them. What became of the young officer I know not. I thought I might as well be shot front as rear, and walked back to my tree. Two or three of our men were blazing away. The smoke was lifting a little, and the enemy were preparing to advance. Half a dozen heads had already popped up out of the timber. Back of them their main line was reforming. It was not more than half its original size — had no colors, and otherwise showed marks of the pounding it had received. It seemed very reluctant to advance, and in a few minutes this hesitancy was explained. There was a rousing shout behind ; our men had reformed as suddenly as they had run away, and here they came back at a double-quick, yelling vocifer- ously. Down they went again behind the logs, and reopened most vigorously, as if rather refreshed than otherwise by the scare. It