Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/81

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75
The Bottle of the Wilderness.

In a subsequent letter, under date of January 24th, 1892, assenting to my reading our correspondence, General Sorrel, says:

"Please give my heartfelt regards, remembrances and all good wishes to the brave veterans you are associated with. They were my comrades too, and I shall never forget them or the tremendous days that brought us together."


To Comrade George S. Bernard, a member of my company, I first turned over this correspondence with General Sorrel, and requested his recollections of the battle.

Here is his reply:

"I have read with much pleasure your correspondence with General Sorrel, and am glad you propose to read it to the camp. It furnishes an interesting page of the unwritten history of the war. It connects our regiment and brigade with a most important move in the Battle of the Wilderness, and shows how, when this move seemed about to prove a great success, it was arrested by an unfortunate accident.

"I did not witness the incident of the flag. Ben. May's refusal to let the colors go from his hands was highly characteristic of the man. A splendid fellow he was, as brave as a lion and as gentle as a woman, resembling in this particular his distinguished uncle, Captain Robert B. Pegram, of naval fame.

"The general appearance of the woods, with its scrubby oaks and other trees, in which we encountered the enemy, the marshy flat and gentle slope on either side at the point we first struck them, the enemy at the top of the slope on the north side, an occasional blue coat and a Federal flag indistinctly visible for an instant through the foliage of the thick undergrowth, say, less than a hundred and fifty yards ahead of us, our men in line of battle just at the foot of the slope on the north side moving rapidly forward, some mounted officers riding along with the line encouraging the troops, one of these officers conspicuously leading, the men loading and firing as they moved forward, all yelling and cheering as they saw the enemy hastily retiring, the woods echoing with the rapid discharge of musketry, and the 'rebel yell' vigorously sounded from more than your friends.' 'Show your colors!' 'Show your colors!!' It immediately became apparent to us and to the men on the south side of the plank-road that a mistake had been made, and the firing ceased.