Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/123

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Battle at Reams Station. 117

support, it continued a rapid fire upon the attacking column until the guns were reached. Some of the gunners even refused to surrender and were taken by sheer physical force. They were animated in their gallant conduct by the example of their commanding officer. On horse-back, he was a conspicuous target, and his voice could be distinctly heard encouraging his men. Struck, with admiration by his bravery, every effort was made by General McRae, Captain W. P. Oldham, of this city, Captain Robert Bingham. and one or two others who were among the first to reach the guns, to-save the life of this manly opponent. Unfortunately he was struck by a ball which came from the extreme flank, as all firing had ceased in front of him and he fell from his horse mortally wounded, not more lamented by his own men than by those who combatted him. This battery, when captured, was at once turned upon the retreating columns of the enemy. It was manned by a few of McRae's sharp-shooters, all of whom were trained in artillery practice. They were aided by Cap- tain Oldham, Lieutenant Kyle and others, not now remembered. Captain Oldham sighted one of the guns repeatedly, and when he saw the effect of his accurate aim upon the disordered masses in front, was so jubilant, that General McRae, with his usual quiet humor remarked* "Oldham thinks he is at a ball in Petersburg."

No description of the battle of Reams' Station would be fair or just which failed to notice the Confederate artillery commanded by Colonel Pegram. Some of his guns were toward the left of the Con- federate line, whilst others had been firing from a position slightly to the right and rear of McRae's brigade previous to the final as- sault. As soon as notified that the advance was about to be made, he did what he, Haskell and Pelham had often done on other fields, but which hitherto in war had been seldom done, and never except by artillerists of rare courage and self-reliance. He ordered all his guns to the right and rear of McRae to advance to the front line of battle held by the infantry, and to unlimber and commence firing at close musketry range. That charge of Peg ram's artillery for so it might well be called was a sight worthy of the painter's highest art. Through an open field, covered here and there by a growth of small pines, came his artillery, the horses at a full gallop. As they ap- proached nearer to McRae's brigade, the infantry recognized them in advance of the guns, and riding side by side, those two unequalled and fearless artillery officers, Colonel Pegram, of Virginia, and Lieu- tenant-Colonel J. C. Haskell, of South Carolina always excepting