Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/343

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olina regiment, was promoted to Hri-.idii r-General, and assigned to the command of Pettigrew's brigade, about the loth of August, 1863.


The brigade left camp at Rapidan station, where it had been in r.iiitonim-nt, on the 8th of October, 1863, and marched rapidly with a view of engaging General Meade at Culpeper Courthouse. Gen- eral Meade fell back and avoided a conflict at Culpeper Courthouse, but was overtaken at Bristoe station. Here on the I4th of October, 1863, a bloody and disastrous engagement was precipitated between Cooke's and Kirkland's brigades, and the bulk of Warren's corps, supported by a powerful artillery with a railroad embankment as a fortification. In this fight, so inopportune and ill-advised and not at all in accordance with the views of General Lee, the 44th regiment greatly distinguished itself. Advancing through an open field di- rectly upon the line of fortifications of the Federal artillery, it sus- tained a heavy loss without flinching. Three different couriers rode up to the regiment and delivered a message to fall back. The order was disregarded and the regiment moved steadily on under heavy fire of both artillery and infantry, and when close upon the works, with the shout of victory in the air, only retreated under peremptory orders from Lieutenant-General A. P. Hill. The loss of the regi- ment in this engagement in killed and wounded was large. This was the first time the conduct of the regiment fell under the observa- tion of Colonel Wm. MacRae, of the isth North Carolina Regiment, and afterwards its brigade commander. He was struck with admi- ration at the splendid conduct of the men, and often afterwards re- ferred to their steady valor upon the field. It endeared the regiment to him, for he loved brave men, and it became his habit to frequently place himself with the colors of the regiment, for, said he, " If I am with the 44th regiment and am lost, I shall always be found in the fore- front of the fighting."


General Lee, having received information that General Grant had commenced the passage of the Rapidan on the night of the 3rd of May, 1864, broke up his cantonments on the 4th, and prepared to meet him. The 44th North Carolina, with Kirkland's brigade, left camp near Orange Courthouse on the 4th, and bivouacked the same night at Verdiersville, about nine miles from the battlefield of the