Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/121

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Battle at Reams' Station. 115

brigades of Lane, Cooke and McRae, from left to right, in the order named. These troops had become famous throughout the entire army for their fighting qualities. How could it be otherwise with such brigade commanders? On this day General Conner, of South Carolina, was commanding Lane's brigade, as General Lane had been severely wounded at Cold Harbor.

Where is the North Carolinian who does not rejoice in the unfad- ing laurels of John R. Cooke and James H. Lane, who, though natives of another State, are as dear to us as our own sons? Both have equally an unstained, chivalrous, glorious record. Go where you will in this State, and it would be difficult to find an assemblage of men, who might happen to meet together, in the midst of whom it would be safe to utter an unkind word of either Cooke or Lane. Long commanding troops from North Carolina, their names and fame have become the common heritage of us all. The character of General William McRae has already been sketched to-day.

In front of Lane and Cooke the enemy had felled trees, sharpening the limbs and making it very difficult to get through them. McRae had an open field between him and the enemy's breastworks, and for this reason, as the other two brigades would be necessarily retarded by the abattis, which was exceedingly formidable where Lane's men had to pass, they were ordered to advance somewhat sooner than McRae's men. McRae's line of battle was in the edge of a pine thicket, about three hundred yards from the breastworks to be as- saulted. Walking along the line McRae told the men that he knew they would go over the works, and that he wished them to do so without firing a gun. "All right, General, we will go there," was the answer which came from all. The men were in high spirits, jesting and laughing, and ready to move on an instant's notice. In the mean- while Lane's and Cooke' s brigades advancing were received by a heavy fire of both musketry and artillery. As the fire became more violent, especially in front of Lane, McRae, prompted by that great and magnanimous spirit which ever characterized him, and realizing that the crisis of the conflict was at hand, said to Captain Louis G. Young, his adjutant-general, ;< I shall wait no longer for orders. Lane is drawing the entire fire of the enemy ; give the order to advance at once." Hitherto his brigade had received but slight attention from the enemy, the greater portion of their fire having been directed against Lane's and Cooke's brigades. But warned of the danger which threatened them, by the loud cheers from McRea's brigade, as it emerged from its covering of pines and advanced to the assault,