Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/78
Southern Historical Society Papers.
It was soon after this that General Longstreet said to me that, if I were to collect some troops over on the right, get them in good line and in touch with each other, and make a strong movement forward, swinging by the right, he felt sure a splendid success would follow. I proceeded to follow out these directions, with full authority to control the movement. There were three brigades in addition, perhaps, to other troops, that I succeeded in getting into good form and ready to move. These were Mahone's, Wofford's, and I believe the other was Anderson's. The movement soon began, at a given signal, our right swinging swiftly around, driving everything before it. The lines in front of us made some sharp resistance, but they were quickly overcome, and our troops Mahone's brigade, notably distinguished in the affair rushed forward through the dense undergrowth, carrying everything before them. It was then that the incident occurred of which you speak, about poor Ben. May. He was doing all that man could do with his colors, but seemed to be somewhat embarrased by the bushes, and I thought perhaps I might help him to get them forward, mounted as I was. As you say, he positively refused to let them leave his own hands, and I was filled with admiration of his splendid courage. I think it was on the 12th that poor May was shot, and I received from a member of the Twelfth Virginia an affectionate message that he sent me. His message was: "Tell Colonel Sorrel I couldn't part
in less homely words; but the brave Texans did not pick up their phrases. 'We won't go unless you go back!' A sergeant seized his bridle rein. The gallant General Gregg (who laid down his life on the 9th of October, almost in General Lee's presence, in a desperate charge of his brigade on the enemy's lines, in the rear of Fort Harrison), turned his horse towards General Lee, remonstrating with him. Just then I called his attention to General Longstreet, whom he had been seeking, and who sat on his horse on a knoll to the right of the Texans, directing the attack of his divisions. He yielded with evident reluctance to the entreaties of his men, and rode up to Longstreet's position. With the first opportunity I informed General Longstreet of what had just happened, and he, with affectionate bluntness, urged General Lee to go further back. I need not say the Texans went forward in their charge and did well their duty. They were eight hundred strong, and lost half their number killed and wounded on that bloody day. The battle was soon restored and the enemy driven back to their position of the night before."