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one by San Cosmo. It was by the first mentioned route that Gen. Quitman pursued vigorously after the capture of Chapultepec; but although this route was the shorter, it was the more difficult, as batteries had to be taken before reaching the gate, then a battery there, and, lastly, the position to be held under a concentrated fire from the citidel, a 'bastioned work, less than two hundred yards distant, surrounded by a heavy wall and deep ditch of wa. ter, with seventeen pieces of artillery and four thousand infantry. The Garita de Belin was captured at twenty minutes past one o'clock and held until night, under cover of which Santa Anna evacuated the city. When the gate had been gained, Gen. Quitman ordered a flag to be waved from the top of the aqueduct, that his men in the rear might know his success. Lieut. Selleck of the Palmetto Regiment, assisted by Lieut. Wilcox, aid-de-camp, mounted the aqueduct, and the two lieutenants waved the Palmetto flag, which was the first raised in the city of Mexico. This was done under a close and terrific fire of both musketry and artillery. Lieut. Selleck, while waving the flag, had a leg broken by a musket ball, and fell. One of the men, catching him as he fell, also received a shot, and was instantly killed. Lieut. Wilcox received a severe contusion in his left side, his pistol being struck by a musket ball, which flattened on it.
Upon the return of the army to the United States, Lieut. Wilcox served on the frontier, west of the Mississippi River, in Florida, and in Texas---much of the time in operations against the Indians. In the autumn of 1852, he was ordered to West Point, as assistant instructor in infantry tactics. Here he remained on duty until the summer of 1857. During a part of this time he was commandant of the cadets. Upon being relieved from duty at the military academy, his health not being good, sick furlough for twelve months was given him, with permission to visit Europe. Returning from Europe, he prepared and published a work upon rifles and the theory of rifle-firing. Of this work the War Department at Washington ordered a thousand copies for distribution to the army, and it was made a text book at West Point Academy. He also translated and published the evolutions of the line (infantry), as practiced and adopted by the Austrians. Entering the field of active duty again, he was ordered to New Mexico, and promoted to a captaincy. He was subsequently stationed at Fort Fillmore, in Arizona; and at this distant post he became apprised of the war consequent on the disruption of the Union, and on the 7th June, 1861, learned that Tennessee, the State of his citizenship and allegiance, had seceded. The mail that gave him this information bore him an order directing him to proceed forthwith to Washington city and report for duty to Lieut.-Gen. Scott. The next morning he tendered his resignation as an officer of the United States Army, and left for Richmond.
Offering his services to the new government, he received the appointment of colonel, and was assigned to the command of the 9th Alabama Regiment. He reached Manassas the day after the first brilliant victory on that twice glorious field.“ On the 21st October, 1861, he was made a Brigadier-General, and given the command of the 3d Alabama, 1st Mississippi, and 1st Virginia regiments, and a battery. At Williamsburg his brigade was prominent, fighting on the right, where the action was a complete
two brigades, and at Gaines' Mill three-his own, Featherstone's, and Pryor's. This command, under the immediate direction of Gen. Wilcox, attacked the extreme left of the enemy's line, and was in that part of the field most severely contested. The position of the enemy was defended by numerous and heavy artillery, admirably posted. The line of attack was formed under a brisk enfilading fire of artillery from the Federal batteries of rifled cannon from the heights beyond the Chickahominy; but the men moved forward in admirable order, preserving their alignments perfectly. Ascending the crest of a hill they came in full view of the enemy, and were instantly met by a heavy and destructive fire of infantry within less than a hundred yards. It was dashing in the face of death. The enemy was in large force, directly in front, behind two lines of breastworks, the second overlooking the first; and from behind this, as well as the first, a close and terrible fire of musketry was poured in upon the devoted assailants. Between them and the works referred to was the bed of a small stream which the enemy used as a rifle pit, and from this also a strong line of fire was brought to bear. Thus exposed to three lines of fire, facing shot, shell, grape, and
cannister, and all the time suffering from an enfiladed fire from batteries of rifle cannon beyond the Chickahominy, the heroic men of Wilcox's command seemed to be delivered to destruction. But they never faltered; the first impulse of attack was more than redoubled as they approached the enemy; the Federal ranks were shaken, and began to yield only when Wilcox's men had got within a few yards of them; and now with yells the Confederates run over the rifle-pit, drive the Federals from the second parapet of logs, push them into the open field, and now when the fugitive troops are no longer screened by their breastworks or standing timber, breaking them into rout, chasing them in all directions, and covering the ground with their dead and wounded. Here McClellan lost his battery of Napoleon guns, and with difficulty saved what remained of his army under the cover of the night. It was this desperate and gallant assault that at once conferred upon Wilcox one of the most brilliant reputations of the war.
At Frazier's Farın there were other laurels won, and in this field nearly every regimental officer in Wilcox' command was wounded, and the General himself had his clothing perforated by six bullets. Two of the enemy's batteries, six guns each, were captured ; and although one of them was retaken by the enemy, it was only when overwhelming numbers had been brought to bear against a solitary regiment (the 11th Alabama), which, entering the engagement 357 strong, had 181 men and nine company officers killed and wounded. In the two battles of Gaines? Mills and Frazier's Farm, Wilcox's own brigade had lost 1,055 men out of a force of 1,800; of this number fifteen officers were killed, fifty-two officers were wounded, 216 men killed, and 754 wounded. The brigade was in reserve at Malvern Hill, and returned to camp on the Charles City road on the 6th July, 1862. Its loss was heavier than that of any other brigade in Longstreet's division, and the severest in the army in proportion to its strength, it being composed of only four regiments.
In the other battles of 1862 in Virginia, Gen. Wilcox was not conspicuously engaged. But we inay make note of an incident on the second field of Manassas, which contains an interesting tribute both to himself and to a brave enemy. While the action was progressing, and in the heat of the battle, Wilcox was 500
ordered from the left to the right to support a part of the Confederate lines where the enemy was most vigorously attacking. Moving at the head of his troops and riding past the house that gave its name to part of the field-Groveton-he saw a man lying on the ground, some sixty yards distant, waving a handkerchief. The General rode up to him, and discovered that he was a wounded Federal officer. The latter remarked : “ You don't know me, Wilcox. I saw you riding by, and recognized you, and wanted to speak to you. My name is Chamberlain, and I was a cadet at West Point when you were an instructor there." He looked pale, and blood was running from his breast. “Oh, yes,” replied Gen. Wilcox, “I know you, and I hope you are not much hurt;" and dismounting and kneeling beside him, he examined his wound, and found that the cold dew of death was already on his forehead. “I will make my men,” said the General, “move you to the shelter of the ravine; you are exposed here to our shells, and those, too, of your own batteries.” “No," said the dying man, “it is no use; I am mortally wounded, and you must not expose yourself to our fire taking care of me. Farewell!" A few moments more and he breathed his last. The incident of this meeting illustrates the singular good feeling remarked at all times. between the old graduates of West Point whenever they met under opposite flags, which was at least one generous trait of the war.
In the campaign into Maryland, Gen. Wilcox was compelled to obtain sick leave three days before the battle of Sharpsburg; but on the return of the Confederate army to Virginia he rejoined his command, and was soon increasing the fame he had made in the early part of the campaign. His reputation ascended again on the bloody fields of Chancellorsville, and his command was remarkable there in the severe conflict at Salem Church, where Sedgwick was defeated and Gen. Lee relieved from the pressure of enveloping armies. It was a narrow chance that saved the Confederate army on that occasion, or, at least, prevented Sedgwick from getting to its rear at Chancellorsville. Late in the afternoon of the 2d May, 1863, Gen. Wilcox received a note from Gen. Lee telling him that he needed his help at Chancellorsville, but as he (Gen. Lee) did not know what was in Wilcox' front, he must leave him to decide whether or not to
move to Chancellorsville early the next morning. Meanwhile, Gen. Wilcox dispatched to Gen. Barksdale at Fredericksburg, telling him that he had returned to a position near Banks, Ford, and requesting to be informed should the enemy cross at Fredericksburg. The next morning he examined the front of his line, and seeing no indications of the enemy, he lessened his picket force, and at once retired all but a small guard at Banks' Ford and ten pieces of artillery. He was in the act of taking up the march to Chancellorsville, when a private from a vidette post dashed up to his headquarters at full speed, and reported that “the Yankees were coming up between the canal and the river, and were opposite Falmouth.” Gen. Wilcox remarked that it was probably Barksdale's brigade on its way to Chancellorsville, when the soldier replied, “No, General, I have seen the old gridiron flag.” It was Sedgwick’s column, which, unknown to Wilcox, had occupied Fredericksburg and was now marching to Gen. Lee's rear.
There was nothing on the plank-road between Chancellorsville and Sedgwick’s column, until Wilcox promptly threw his brigade forward, forming it in line on crest of a ridge some 700 or 800 yards in rear of Marye's Hill. Here he checked the enemy, until he had reported the situation to Gen. Lee, and indicated to Gen. Early the enemy's line of march by the plankroad. Falling back to Salem Church, he selected ground there, and was assured by a dispatch from Gen. Lee, that three brigades (Kershaw's, Simms' and Mahone's) were marching to his support. The troops had all been put in position when Major-Gen. McLaws arrived on the field, and the artillery was then playing upon the enemy. The decisive field was fixed by Wilcox; and looking now only to the conduct of his own brigade, he fought the enemy with desperation, and, at one time, with his five regiments and two of Simms' brigade, who joined the pursuit without orders, he drove the enemy and had him nearly in rout. Had the other brigades joined in this movement it might have been more decisive; but as it was, the enemy was badly whipped, and so thoroughly demoralized as to meditate only the chances of escape. It was an action of only a few minutes' duration, but of great mortality. Three hundred of the enemy were killed in front of Wilcox' brigade, and nearly 1,000 prisoners taken, with a