Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/61

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

A Remarkable Victory. 55

physician of Halifax county and only several severely wounded. I have not heard their dead estimated at less than sixty. Many, if not all of their dead, were buried where they fell upon the river flats. Subsequent freshets have exhumed and scattered their bones over the land.


I will close my letter with an incident just related to me by my brother, which may throw some light upon the matter. In the spring or summer of 1865, while General Benham with his engineer corps was engaged in rebuilding Staunton-river bridge, he had a visit from a Colonel Fitzhugh, who commanded the assaulting force, the object of his visit being an inspection of the scene of battle. My brother being on courteous relations with the General was sent for to be questioned by Colonel Fitzhugh in regard to the strength of the Confederate garrison. When he replied that the force engaged in repelling the attack amounted to not more than two hundred and fifty men, Colonel Fitzhugh sprang up and vehemently exclaimed, "It is false." As my brother moved to leave the tent, the General exacted of Colonel Fitzhugh an apology for the affront offered to his invited guest which was accorded. My brother then assured Colonel Fitzhugh that a personal inspection of the works on the Charlotte side of the river would satisfy him that they were insuffi- cient to accommodate many more than two hundred and fifty men. Upon reaching the works and inspecting them for a minute Colonel Fitzhugh exclaimed, "By God," and turned back in unconcealed disgust. He had stated to General Benham in my brother's pres- ence that the attacking force, commanded by himself, numbered two thousand five hundred men. I believe it is conceded that Gen- eral Wilson's whole force amounted to six thousand men. The battle was fought on my father's plantation, General Wilson and his staff occupying the front yard of his house, a mile distant from the bridge. My father and brother had enlisted for military service. My mother, alone, remained in charge of the house, and is credited with having exerted more important influence on the fortunes of the battle than any other single individual. She sincerely believed the garrison at the fort was ten thousand strong and being rapidly in- creased by reinforcements. She was closely plied with questions, and her answers severely tested by General Wilson.

By the intelligence and evident sincerity of her statements she succeeded in imparting her convictions to the General, which