Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/179

This page needs to be proofread.


thrn advanced as far as Blair's farm, in full view of Washington city, but soon deemed it wise to come back into Virginia."

Of course the operations in the valley under Early, already given, were subsequent to the action and events recorded immediately above. In the valley campaign, the brigade was transferred to Ram- seur's division. At his death, General John Pegram succeeded to the command of the division. Almost simultaneous with the transfer of Sheridan from the valley to Grant's line near Petersburg, Early's command returned to the aid of Lee, at least the greater part of it.

Picket duty on Hatcher's Run, during the greater part of the win- ter, was onerous and severe. The 23rd took an active part in the fight at Hatcher's Run, Captain Peace, of Granville, being its com- mander. It was in this action that General John Pegram was killed, and Captain Frank Bennett, of Anson, formerly commander of the 23rd, lost an arm, at the time being in command of the brigade skirmishers. The division was afterwards commanded by General Walker. Johnston's was one of the attacking brigades that carried the enemy's line of breastworks at the battle of Hare's Hill, in which action General Johnston was so injured by a fall from the breast- works, a sprain of the ankle, that he was carried from the field.

On the withdrawal of the army from Petersburg, he followed in an ambulance. To the last, was he true to the high, soldierly instincts of his nature. Finding that the Federal cavalry were about to cap- ture the whole line of wagons and ambulances, he got hold of a few stragglers, stopped an ammunition wagon, made every man get down and take a gun, and with this force he prevented the capture of the wagon and ambulance train. Further on in the great retreat the cavalry broke into the line, captured General Johnston's ambu- lance, and the rest including a portion of the wagon train. General Johnston cut off the insignia of his rank from his coat, and seizing a mule, the driver having fled, he mounted the warlike animal bare- back, rode back behind where the outfit had been captured, organ- ized a force of stragglers and recaptured the whole line. A cause that had such grit as that in its defence, deserved success. But we hasten to a conclusion, regretting the incompleteness of a task which has been both pleasing and sad.

At dawn on the gth of April, the scene of a bloody midnight skir- mish is passed. Gordon's command, of which the 23rd Regiment is a part, moves with spirit against a body of infantry which after a volley falls back precipitately, and once more the "rebel yell" of