Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 29.djvu/305

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Grant's Change of Base. 289

but all are in good spirits. We have had several skirmishes, and the battalion lost twelve men.

August 1 8 Mahone made a desperate assault upon the enemy to- day, and dislodged him from a strong position at Ream's Station, on the Weldon railroad. The fight was very severe, but we achieved a complete victory, driving the Federals before us with heavy loss in killed, wounded and prisoners.

August 19 The tables were turned on us to-day, for the Yanks came down upon us thick as the locusts of Egypt. We made a hard fight, but were compelled to fall back, leaving the enemy in possession of the railroad. The loss on both sides was dreadful. Our little battalion did its duty, and we have to mourn the loss of many of our best and bravest, among them Adjutant Winder Laird.

September 30 We again encountered the enemy to-day at Pe- gram's farm, and after a desperate battle achieved a signal victory, but at a fearful cost, As usual, our little battalion was badly cut up, losing forty-three men out of 149. If this thing continues there will be none of us left to tell the tale.

October i Another fight to-day on the Squirrel Level road, in which the enemy were repulsed. The battalion lost 10 men.

January i The battalion has been reduced to about loomen, and yet we are expected to do the work of a full command. So nume- rous have been the desertions in our brigade that it is necessary to keep us almost constantly on picket; for as sure as this duty is en- trusted to some regiments of the brigade, just so sure were the posts found deserted in the morning. It is bitter cold, and we are in tat- ters. I have the waist of my pantaloons left, and my only pair of cotton drawers are not of the thickest material. However, as long as my blanket holds out I am all right, for I wear it wrapped around me day and night. I often wonder what my little Baltimore girl would say if she saw me in this plight. Guess she'd look for some other fellow.

January 8 Had a genuine surprise this morning while on picket. Soon after day broke I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw a Yank crawl out of a rifle pit about 200 yards in our front, and walk deliberately toward us. There were three of us in our pit, and I told the boys that he must be a deserter. He had no gun, and I noticed when he got quite close that his pockets bulged. When he came within speaking distance he said: " Boys, don't shoot; I only want to have a few words with you," and then he pulled out two