Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/302

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296 Southern Historical Society Papers.


[Atlanta (Ga.) Constitution, July i, 1883.]

General Joe Johnston tells a thrilling story of our General W. S. Walker and his daring at Chapultepec, in the Mexican war. He says : "Walker, who was then a young lieutenant, was, I thought, the handsomest man I ever saw as he led his men to the charge. Of perfect feature, slender frame, and the carriage of a thoroughbred, he was the picture of a soldier. As his men swept on in the charge, rushing past a battery that might have swept them from the face of the earth, Walker soon went to the front. He was the first man to scale the heights, and was about to seize the Mexican colors, run them down, and put the Stars and Stripes in their place. Just as he had his hand on the flag-staff, Major Seymour, of Connecticut, rushed up, and with rare inborn courtesy, Walker stepped aside and allowed his senior officer to take the honor. It made Major Seymour so much reputation that he was frequently suggested as a candidate for the presidency. Walker was the first to the flagstaff, and might have had the glory as well as not." I asked General Walker about this incident. He said : " Of course I remember it well. Indeed, General Johnston, who was the lieutenant-colonel of our regiment, and drilled and fought it, wrote me a note saying : ' If ever a similar thing occurs, and you lose sight of yourself, please remember your regiment.' " General Walker said further: " There is a curious se- quel to that story. When my leg was shot off during the late war, I was put in a Federal hospital. Near me was a Federal officer who had also lost his leg. He had fought in the Mexican war, and was, I think, in Major Seymour's regiment. He was talking one day about Chapultepec, and said that Captain Kimball, of his regiment, told him that just before Seymour reached the flagstaff a young lieu- tenant had raised his sword to cut down the flag. He cried ; ' Let the Major take down the flag,' and the lieutenant gave way. ' I have often wondered/ said he, ' who that lieutenant was.' He was aston- ished when I disclosed the facts. My reaching the flag first was due to my superior activity. I was then a gymnast. As we crossed the wall Captain Howard was ahead of me. As we fought our way along, I moved toward the castle, a squad of men following. In the octag- onal room of the castle was a group of Mexican officers and soldiers. I cried, Rendio las armas, which was about all the Spanish I knew.