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Fifteenth Virginia Infantry. 99

He commanded there the Thirty -fourth New York, and is a care- ful and painstaking scholar, who has made a special study of the Sharpsburg combat.

It is hoped that some officer or soldier who was there will do for the Thirty-second Virginia what Colonel Morrison has done for the Fifteenth.


Fifteenth Virginia Infantry. (Bv COLONEL E. M. MORRISON.)

I am requested to write an account of the part borne by the Fif- teenth Regiment of Virginia Infantry, Semmes's Brigade, McLaws's Division, in the battle of Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862.

Contrary to the custom of the best writers and the approved can- ons of polite literature, or any reliable narrative of a historical nature, I wish to submit in advance, or as prefatory to my sketch, a gen- eral reflection, also a sort of recapitulation, to wit :

Heine says: "We do not take possession of our ideas, but are possessed by them. They master us and force us into the arena, where like gladiators, we must fight for them." And it will not matter to the thoughtless spectator if the emperor turns his royal thumb down or up, we may either live or perish, grandly or ignobly, amid the most ennobling ideas that dominate our race.

From i86i-'65, f ur memorial years, we fought it out on aline of ideas that took possession of our minds and hearts. In God's providence it may so happen that failure in a great and good cause may be crowned with untold blessings. If this be the philosophy of the situation, we must line up like men and join in the great rush and mighty tide of stupendous events.

It is entirely probable and surely quite possible for a man to for- get many things of the past in which he took an active part; the elapse of forty years since the event took place; the absence of en- vironments; the severing of associations, living at a distance from the scenes, are some of the things that lead up to, and contribute materially to, our forgetfulness, for of such is our human nature. Yet, after all, there will linger with us, like the sweet and pervasive odor of old-time lavender, intangible, invisible, the subtle essence of an existing, undying past, that will never entirely vanish. Along this line my thoughts were reminiscently roving Wednesday, Thurs-