Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/352

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344
Southern Historical Society Papers.

the north came huge shells whirling death in their arms. Pelham had drawn upon himself the concentrated fire of half a dozen batteries twenty four guns. Yet his gun continued to roar, and roaring never failed to slaughter. No other gun on the Confederate side had yet opened, but the lone war-dog howled on. And in the half lull between the boom of the cannon there floated above the noise a sound that seemed strange on that day of multitudinous terrors—the Napoleon detachment singing the Marseillaise as they fought their gun. Like infernal imps of Tophet they flitted about in the smoke of battle. Two armies looked on while the Mobile Frenchmen wrote history with blood. Arms, legs, heads were whirled off, and the ground around torn as by Titan plows. No other Confederate gun had opened, but the fierce Federals could not pass the bellowing Napoleon. Time wore on. Still the gun roared and the sound of its roaring thundered through the air in breaths of battle to the ears of General Robert E. Lee, as he viewed the red revel from the heights. "It is glorious," he exclaimed, "to see such courage in one so young." And in his report of the battle he spoke of no one but Pelham below the rank of major-general, terming him "the gallant Pelham."

Once, twice, three times, Pelham drove back the Federal columns and delayed the battle an hour. When his ammunition was spent he retired, in obedience to a peremptory order, and was assigned to the command of all the artillery on the Confederate right.

Amid shot and shell he had opened the great battle of Fredericksburg and had become immortal. The part played by Pelham at that fight is history that will survive with General Lee's report He was a major of artillery then. His commission as lieutenant-colonel was issued soon after, and only awaited confirmation when he was killed. This was at Kelly's Ford, on the Rappahannock, March 17th, 1863. He had gone to visit some ladies in Culpeper county when he heard the cannonading and hurried to the scene. His artillery had not come up, but he galloped to a regiment that was wavering and shouted: "Forward, boys! Forward to victory and glory!" and at that moment was struck by the fragment of a shell that penetrated the brain and he died shortly after midnight. He died as he had wished amid the roar of battle.

General Stuart telegraphed to Hon. J. L. M. Curry, at present trustee of the great Peabody fund and well known in Louisville,