Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/73

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First Confederate Martyr.

and by Captain Bridgers, with Company A, who had been recalled from the swamp where he was first posted, and had retaken, in splendid fashion, the work from which Captain Brown, of the artillery, had been compelled to withdraw a disabled gun to prevent its capture. The enemy made a rush, hoping to get within the Confederate lines. They were met by a cool and deliberate fire, but were concealed in part by a house. Volunteers were called for to burn this house. Corporal George Williams, Privates Henry L. Wyatt, Thomas Fallon and John H. Thorpe, of Company A, advanced to perform the duty. Their duty was to charge across an open field, two hundred yards wide, in face of the enemy's lines, and commanded by his sharp-shooters. They behaved with great gallantry, but had advanced only about thirty yards when Wyatt fell, pierced through the brain by a musket ball. The other three were wounded, and remained on the earth until a shell from a howitzer fired the house, and helped to route the enemy. About the same time that private Wyatt fell on the Confederate side, the gallant Major Winthrop fell on the other, one of the first officers to fall in the war. He was a native of Connecticut, and his native State has long since perpetuated his memory.

The conduct of young Wyatt was spoken of in the highest terms by J. B. Magruder, colonel commanding the Confederate forces, by his own regimental commander, D. H. Hill, by George W. Randolph, then in charge of the Richmond Howitzers, and afterwards Secretary of War for the Confederacy, and by all who on that day were witnesses of his gallant but unavailing heroism.

The remains were taken to Richmond and interred in the soldier's section in Hollywood, near where the Confederate monument now is. A board of pine, inscribed with his name, regiment, time and place of death, was his only monument. In 1887 this had rotted away and was found face downward. I do not know that the grave has yet been properly marked.

But the State of North Carolina has shown her sense of duty and gratitude to the young hero. The General Assembly, of 1891, ordered an oil painting (25x30) of Wyatt, to be made at the public expense. The work was executed by Miss Mary A. E. Nixon, an artist of Raleigh, and now adorns the main reading-room of the State Library. Persons who knew the young soldier in life, say that the artist has caught the very spirit of his daring and chivalrous soul.