Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/348

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344 Smith, I'll ll'ixtorlrill Snn'ft,/ PapCTS.

odds. No help came whilst his men toiled, bled, and died. Ap- proaching night told him that the safety of his brigade demanded that he return to his original position. Facing his men about, they cut their way through a new line of battle which had partially formed in their rear. In this encounter the 44th North Carolina bore a brilliant part; it drove the Federal line, everywhere in its front, steadily to the rear. Lieutenant R. W. Stedman, of Company A, with less than fifty men, charged and captured a battery of artillery which was supported by a considerable force of infantry. This bat- tery was disabled and left, as it was impossible to bring it off the field when the regiment was ordered to return to the position it occupied at the commencement of the fight. The affair at Burgess' Mill was marred by the misunderstanding of his orders by an officer in high rank, by which he failed to reinforce as instructed, General MacRae, causing a heavy loss to his brigade.

From Burgess' Mill the regiment again returned to its old position in the entrenchments at Petersburg. On the 2nd of April, 1865, the Confederate lines having been pierced and broken through, the regiment under orders commenced its retreat towards Amelia Court- house, which place it reached on the 4th of April. Its line of march was marked by constant and bloody engagements with the Federal troops, which followed in close pursuit but who were entirely unable to produce the slightest demoralization or panic. At Sutherlin's station the fight was severe. On the night of the 5th it left Amelia Courthouse and reached Appomattox on the morning of the gth, where, together with the bleeding remnants of the Army of Northern Virginia it stacked its arms, and its career was ended.

The " esprit de corps " of the regiment was of the very highest order. Neither disease, famine nor scenes of horror well calculated to freeze the hearts of the bravest ever conquered its iron spirit. The small remnant who survived the trials of the retreat from Petersburg, and who left a trail of blood along their weary march from its abandoned trenches to Appomattox Courthouse, were as eager and ready for the fray on that last memorable day as when with full ranks and abundant support they drove the Federal troops before them in headlong flight on other fields. This spirit especially manifested itself in the love of the regiment for its flag, which was guarded by all its members with chivalrous devotion and which was never lost or captured on any field. The first flag was carried from the commence- ment of its campaign until about January i, 1865, when a new one was presented in its stead, for the reason that so much of the old flag had been shot away that it could not be distinctly seen by other