Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 29.djvu/233

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Their Lxt Battle. 217

ting one half of Stovall's brigade, which had been marched and fought down to an alarmingly small number, but those who were still in line were true and tried. Our position was taken only a short distance from the main road, and now we were on the battle-field of Bentonville, where we were to fight our last battle; no time to throw up breastworks, but the boys availed themselves of time to cut down small pine limbs, which, to some extent, hid them from the view of the approaching enemy. The small pine trees growing at intervals apart gave our men an opportunity to see the approaching line of battle several hundred yards from where they were hugging the ground closely, hid to some extent by the pine limbs cut from the near-by trees. It was a grand sight to see them moving on us, "Old Glory" floating in the breeze so proudly. Here they came, our skirmish line gradually giving way and falling back into our line of battle.

I never was more particular and careful in giving officers and men orders to hold their fire. My orders had gone up and down my line repeatedly, instructing the men and officers to keep down hold fire, and await a sign, or orders; even threatening those who should first disobey. 'Tis not strange, then, that men who had fought twenty-one battles carried out my orders to the letter.

The other day an old veteran walked into my office and asked for me I raised up to shake his hand, for I saw at a glance that I had known him in other days, and as we were grasping hands and look- ing at each other in the eyes, trying to trace some remembrance of the bygone times, he said: " Colonel, I remember the last order you gave us at Bentonville: 'Attention, Forty-second Georgia, hold your fire for my orders, and when you fire, give the rebel yell.' Those who yet survive, and were present that day, can tell you how well the order was obeyed. ' '

Well, here they came. Our line had absorbed our skirmishers, and the way was clear in front for the music of the battle to com- mence but not a gun was fired, and bravely onward the enemy marched in grand style nearer and nearer they came. When not over forty or fifty paces from us, the order so anxiously awaited was given, and a sheet of fire blazed out from the hidden battle line of the Forty-second Georgia that was demoralizing and fatal to the enemy. They halted, reeled, and staggered, while we poured vol- ley after volley into them, and great gaps were made in their line, as brave Federals fell everywhere their colors would rise and fall just a few feet from us, and many a gallant boy in blue is buried there in