Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/89

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The Battle of the Wilderness.


" Early the next morning, the yth, I was informed by Dr. Claiborne that he had orders to move, and that some time during the day we would leave, as the army was moving. Being unable to walk, and being unwilling to be left behind, I sent word to Hugh, my brother, the adjutant of the Twelfth Virginia, to send me his horse, that I wanted to keep up with the army. He complied with my request, and I went along with the brigade to Spotsylvania Courthouse, where I rejoined my company, though my wound was still very painful, and took a part in that engagement.

"There was one feature of the Battle of the Wilderness that impressed me very much, and that was the meagre use of artillery. The nature of the country thereabouts and the thick undergrowth throughout that section may account for this, no doubt, although the loss of men, especially on the Federal side, was very great. Quite a number of Federals were brought to our infirmary, among them General Wadsworth, who was mortally wounded."

Comrade Joseph E. Rockwell, sergeant Company A, of the Twelfth Virginia regiment, having had the foregoing correspondence submitted to him, sent me a reply, in which he says:

'* Our movements forward were made with all possible haste, but owing to entangled undergrowth in some places, and the marshy nature of others, our line of battle was not well preserved, as in our impetuosity to get forward many of our extreme right became sepa- rated from our main forces in the charge.

" The enemy were in retreat, and we had the pleasure of seeing their backs for a considerable distance, except at intervals, when the smoke from the burning woods would conceal them from view, as the woods by accident or design had been fired by the enemy, and many of their dead and wounded comrades lying about the fired wood ; but we had no time to help them then.

" Pressing on for a few yards further, for some reason we came to a halt, that is, our part of the command, which I am under the impression was in advance of our colors. Here the retreating enemy came upon their reserves, and we had it quite hot, until many of our comrades were shot down. I was fortunate enough to catch a friendly ball myself, and as no surgeon would take the responsi- bility of cutting for it, I have carried it from that time to the present with special affection and as a cherished memento of that sanguinary battle. My thoughts then very naturally reverted to our brigade