Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/225

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Ihe Twelfth Alabama Infantry. 221

take my comrades, and miraculously escaped the thousands of minie balls that were being hurled above and around me.

It was appalling to see how few men formed in line with us after dark, how reduced we were in numbers. The strong, orderly line of the morning was now scarcely more than a line of skirmishers, and from 408 had been reduced to 203 present for duty, making a loss of 205 men from our single command. The ground seemed literally covered with the dead and wounded.

This was our first experience in real battle. The men were worn out, and were glad to stretch themselves upon the wet ground and slept soundly, though the air was filled with the agonizing cries and groans of the wounded and dying men and animals by whom they were surrounded. It is impossible for me to describe or prop- erly eulogize the splendid conduct of the officers and men in this notable engagement. They showed coolness, deliberation, daring, in making their way through the pointed abatis while suffering from the galling fire at short range. I can never forget the calm resolve with which the men reformed their line after we had reached the open field, within a hundred feet of the enemy's breastworks. They did not wince nor dodge under the terrible and destructive fire, but, with the utmost coolness and precision, returned it, undis- turbed by their trying situation. The gallant charge they made into the very jaws of death while crossing the works and through the forsaken camp, their stubborn courage as they retired, evinced a lofty heroism worthy of patriots of any age and any country. The names of these martyr patriots may never be recorded in history or known to fame, but it seems to me that such men not only illus- trated their own states and section, but they ennobled humanity. The world was poorer by their loss.

Rev. Dr. J. L. Burrows, the distinguished Baptist minister, and many noble citizens of Richmond, spent the night walking among the wounded, relieving their necessities. The ambulance corps did not sleep, but were busy carrying the wounded into Richmond.

Early next morning I saw an ambulance pass by, and was attrac- ted by the sight of a weeping negro man walking behind it, and recognized Mark, the cook and slave of Sergeant Flournoy. He had learned of his master's wound and had been with him all night, and was then following the ambulance, as it was being driven into the city. As he passed Company F, and saw us preparing break- fast, he burst into tears and it was a tender and pathetic sight to