Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 32.djvu/49

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The First Virginia at Gettysburg. 37

do or die. It was a sad sight. Most of them were bleeding; num- bers of them were bathing their wounds in a little creek which ran along the valley, making- its clear water run red, which others used to quench their burning thirst. Some 300 or 400 men were there. General George E. Pickett was mounted, and was talking to the men here and there. Only two of the regiments had retained their colors, one of which was the 24th Virginia, and the color bearer, a tall mountaineer, named Charles Belcher, was waving it, crying: "General, let us go at them again!" Just about then General James L. Kemper was carried into the crowd, and the latter came to a halt. Then General Lee was seen to ride up, and we, as was usual, wanted to know what he had to say, crowded around him.

General Pickett broke out into tears, while General Lee rode up to him, and they shook hands. General Lee spoke to General Pickett in a slow and distinct manner. Anyone could see that he, too, felt the repulse and slaughter of the division, whose remains he viewed.


Of the remarks made to General Pickett by General Lee, we distinctly heard him say: "General Pickett, your men have done all that men could do; the fault is entirely my own." These words will never be forgotten.

Just then, he turned to General Kemper and remarked: "Gen- eral Kemper, I hope you are not seriously hurt, can I do anything for you ?" General Kemper looked up and replied: "General Lee, you can do nothing for me; I am mortally wounded, but see to it that full justice is done my men who made this charge." General Lee said: "I will," and rode off.

General Pickett turned to us, saying: "You can go back to the wagons and rest until you are wanted." The men then left for their wagon trains.

There was little or no organization among them. Night was coming on and the writer and several of his company slept in a mill, about half way to the wagon train, getting back with those of the survivors of the Old First on the morning of the 4th. The whole command numbered hardly thirty men, rank and file, and Captain B. F. Howard had charge of the squad.

About 10 o'clock the drum beat to fall in, and, as we took our places in rank, J. R. Polak came out with a set of colors, which he got from an ordinance wagon (the same had been left in our