Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/285

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The Twelfth Alabama Infantry. 281

pany of our regiment and brigade in the charge. Colonel Pickens was not far from me, and General Early himself rode near me as we entered the action. I lifted my hat to the old hero as we ran forward, and noticed how proudly he watched our impetuous ad- vance. The enemy soon ran precipitately before us, and officers and men were in the utmost confusion. We raised the well known "rebel yell", and continued our onward run, for we actually ran, at our greatest speed, after the disordered host in our front. We could see that they had a much larger force than ours, but we cared not for numbers. We had never regarded superior numbers since we entered the service, in fact, we rather enjoyed it. The victory was then more creditable to us. We learned afterwards that the Sixth and Nineteenth army corps, with their full ranks and splendid equipment, were our opponents. As we moved forward we passed scores, yes, hundreds, of dead and wounded Yankees, and a large number of prisoners were captured. We passed entirely through the woods and into the open space beyond, when we halted for a moment, and then formed our line in the edge of the woods. While the lines were being established, Major Peyton, A. A. G. to Gen- eral Rodes, rode up, and an indescribable, unexplainable something, I know not what, carried me to his side, as he sat motionless upon his horse. I had heard nothing, not even a rumor, nor whispered suggestion, yet something impelled me to ask, in a low tone, "Major, has General Rodes been killed?" In an equally low, sub- dued tone that gallant officer answered, "yes, but keep it to your- self, do not let your men know it." "Then who succeeds to the command of this division?" I asked. "General Battle," said he, and rode on to the next brigade. The dreadful news of Major-Gen- eral Rodes' sudden death, at such a critical moment, distressed and grieved me beyond expression. There was no better officer in the entire army than he, very few as brave, skillful and thoroughly trained. His men regarded him as second only to General Lee, excelled by none other. Robert E. Rodes was born at Lynchburg, Va., and graduated at the Virginia Military Institute, served two years as assistant professor, and afterwards became chief engineer of the A. & C. R. R. of Alabama. He entered the army as cap- tain of a company from Tuscaloosa, was elected Colonel of the Fifth Alabama, and soon after promoted to brigadier-general, and succeeded General Ewell in command of the Fifth, Sixth and Twelfth Alabama and Twelfth Mississippi. The latter regiment