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number of regimental flags. His loss was 495 killed and wounded out of a force of 2,100 muskets.
The dramatic field of Gettysburg is already familiar to the reader for its pregnant fate and its critical conjunctures; and it was in one of those periods of the multitudinous battle, when victory seemed to depend upon a single incident, and trembled in the balance, that we have to regard the most remarkable appearance of Gen. Wilcox in the war. It was in the second days' fight that Wilcox' brigade took position on the right of Heth's division, Hill's corps, and, advancing upon the enemy, drove him from the woods into a patch of orchards and hedges. Late in the evening, about half-past four o'clock, an artillery fire was opened by Gen. McLaws on the part of the enemy's line, which soon attracted the fire of several Federal batteries. Gen. Wilcox had received orders several times during the day to advance when the troops on his right should advance, and to report promptly to the division commander, in order that the other brigades should advance successively on to the left. About 6 P. M., McLaws (on Wilcox's right) advanced on the enemy's infantry, being not more than 600 or 700 yards in his front. Wilcox was nearly at right angles with McLaws, and moved off rapidly by the left flank for 600 or 700 yards, and then by the right flank, which brought him on the enemy's right flank and rear. In this movement several fences had to be crossed, one of stone and one of plank, behind which were the enemy's skirmishers. The movement by the flank was not seen by the enemy, but the forward movement after halting and facing to the right, rising a ridge on which was the Emmettsburg road, was seen, and batteries from Cemetery Hill fired upon the brigade. The enemy being struck in the flank and rear broke at once, and pursued by Wilcox with Barksdale, on McLaws left, bearing slightly to the right. In this movement, a battery was taken by Wilcox 600 yards beyond the Emmettsburg road. Beyond this battery a second line of the enemy was broken ; and beyond this a second battery taken. Still Wilcox pushed on and at length, 500 yards beyond the Emmettsburg road, he reached the foot of the ridge or crest, upon which were the last of the enemy's batteries, and behind which lay more of the enemy's infantry. Here he reported his successes to the division
ated above the Onicers of the
commander, and asked to be reinforced. While awaiting the answer to his request, the brigade drove back, twice, a line of infantry that came over the crest in front. But as this gallant and intrepid little command stood on the verge of a great victory, no reinforcements came. Previous moments were unimproved ; and at last, seeing no prospect of support, Gen. Wilcox withdrew his command, and, as darkness fell, withdrew about 200 yards to the rear, and bivouacked for the night.
In an official manuscript report of this day's action, Gen. Wilcox says: “I beg to assure the division commander that the conduct of both men and officers of the brigade was admirable; and, as stated above, the enemy's line resting on the Emmettsburg road was broken and a battery taken, a second line broken and a second battery taken. This brought the brigade in the bed of a dry stream; and on the crest of the ridge in their front was the last of the enemy's batteries, and in rear of it more infantry. This infantry was twice driven back in their efforts to force my men back. The brigade was withdrawn, not being able to accomplish more without support."
In the last day's action, when Pickett's division made its desperate charge on the enemy's works, Wilcox's brigade moved at some distance in support, advancing over nearly the same ground as the day before, exposed to shot and shell from the enemy's batteries. Marching out of sight of Pickett, and reaching the rocky and dry bed of the stream where he had halted the day before, Wilcox found himself obstructed by a heavy fire; and while engaged with a movement of the enemy in his front, apparently to envelope his command, he was informed of Pickett's repulse, and fell back, without having participated in the main action which closed the day.
In any review of the great battle of Gettysburg, we must take into account the high spirits of the Confederate army which had risked an attack against the most enormous advantages of the enemy. They were fresh from fields of victory. A powerful Federal army intrenched at Chancellorsville had been easily routed; the Sixth Corps (Sedgwick) and part of the Second bad been whipped at Salem Church by an insignificant force; Ewell had swept up everything in the Valley of Virginia, and Confederate troops had come to think that they were invincible. But Gettys
burg was barely lost. Wilcox’ brigade, as we have seen, had on the 2d July reached the foot of a ridge on which was the last gun of the enemy. It is not improbable that one more brigade, following Wilcox at this point, would have broken the lines easily and might have given the victory to the Confederates. In Anderson's division (to which Wilcox' brigade belonged) were two brigades stronger than Wilcox—Mahone's Virginians and Posey's Mississippians. Wilcox reported his successes and asked to be supported; but no support came, and he withdrew the next day. The correspondent of the London Times, in a letter describing Gettysburg, said that the Confederates had it their own way on the 2d July, had they have known it. The remark was thought to have reference to affairs on the part of the line where Wilcox had fought. After the battle, and when the Confederate army had recrossed the Potomac, there were severe criticisms on Gen. R. H. Anderson, for not supporting Wilcox' and Wright's brigades on the second day; and letters were published by Gens. Mahone and Posey, in which it was stated that they “ obeyed orders, and that they were ordered to advance only if the successes of the brigades on their right would warrant it," and that they did not think that the success did warrant it.” · Col. Freemantle, of the British army, who was a spectator on the field of Gettysburg, and in his observations of the war wrote an interesting account of the battle, describes Gen.Wilcox in the third day's fight as an officer 5 wearing a short round jacket and a much battered straw hat” riding up to Gen. Lee with tears in his eyes, and pointing lugubriously to the condition of his brigade; and Gen. Lee is reported to reply, “never mind, General; this is all my fault, and you, young men, must help me out of it.” The picture is perhaps correct; but the language of Gen. Wilcox is too broadly reported. What he did say was that he did not like to make a disagreeable report, but that there was no protection to the great number of batteries on the Emmettsburg road but his single brigade, which was very much reduced in numbers. At this time Pickett's division had been repulsed, and did not appear again on the field, but was reformed several miles in the rear. It was a critical moment; an attack from the enemy was expected; and it was in view of this desperate prospect that Gen. Wilcox approached the Commanding General, who spoke, almost
exactly word for word, as the British journalist has reported him.
An amusing anecdote, related by Gen. Wilcox, relieves the story of his hard fight at Gettysburg, and may be inserted here. A few days before the battle, Longstreets and part of Hill's corps were resting near the town of Fayetteville. While lying here Gen. Wilcox published an order against all marauding, and forbidding the men to leave camp to hunt poultry, fruit, &c., lest they should be gobbled up” by the militia with which the country swarmed. A member of the 10th Alabama regiment, one Pat Martin, had been detailed as teamster at the General's headquarters, with the view no doubt of keeping him out of the peril of battle, as he was a young and nice little fellow whom it seemed a pity to expose to war's rude and bloody usages. The day following his order referred to, the General espied Pat Martin slipping through the woods and bushes near his head-quarters with a string of fine chickens in his hand. He spoke to the little fellow harshly for his disobedience of orders, and ordered as a punishment that he should return at once to his regiment. A few days thereafter and the General was in the thick of the fight at Gettysburg. When he struck the enemy on the Emmettsburg road, he found himself, as we have already seen, in the midst of a terrible fire; several batteries on Cemetery Hill were playing upon his command; the shells were flying thick and fast, the General had one courier killed by his side and another wounded, the reins of his bridle were cut by bullets, and his alarmed horse was rearing and plunging, and had become almost unmanageable. Just at this moment he caught sight of little Pat Martin, who advanced towards him, halted a squad of sixteen Federal prisoners he was conducting, formed them and faced to the front, and, saluting the astonished General with an air of triumph or revenge, said: “Here are your chickens, Sir.”
On the 9th August, 1863, Wilcox was promoted Major-General, and assigned to the command of the division in Hill's corps that Pender had commanded at Gettysburg. It consisted of Lane's North Carolina brigade, five regiments, Thomas's Georgia brigade, four regiments, McGown's South Carolina brigade, five regiments, and Scales' North Carolina brigade, five regiments. This act of promotion was but tardy justice to Wilcox, and the junction
fighting cades dr
general sentiment of the army was that he had deserved it long before. Henceforth his name was more brilliantly associated with the Army of Northern Virginia; and it is hardly necessary to make a distinct statement of a career which ran throngh all the operations of the main army, in the great campaign of 1864, and is bound up in its general history.
From the Wilderness to Appomattox Court House, Wilcox' division bore its part and inscribed its banners with new victories. Conspicuously engaged in the bloody battles of the Wilderness, where, in conjunction with Heth's division, it forced the enemy back on the plank road; fighting desperately at Spottsylvania Court House, where one of its brigades drove the enemy out of his lines ; making another gallant affair at Jericho Ford (May 24); distinguished in the action of Reams' Station (August 25); repulsing a movement of the enemy towards the Boydton plank-road (Sept. 30 and Oct. 1); engaged in the last battles around Petersburg, and in at the last shot at Appomattox Court House, the record of Wilcox's division is an essential part of that of the whole army, and an adorned chapter in the history of its achievements. But from this summary record we must detach one incident that glorified the last days of the Southern Confederacy, and is generally related as having fitly closed, with illuminated scroll, the career of the Army of Northern Virginia. It is the story of the defenders of Fort Gregg. Whose troops they were that gave this last example of devotion on Gen. Lee's lines had been subject to some doubt; but it is now certain that they were of Wilcox'command, and that the General himself, in the eventful morning of the 2d April, gave the order by which 200 men, mostly of Harris' Mississippi brigade, with cannoniers for two pieces of artillery, were placed in this work. The remainder of Harris' brigade were placed in Battery Whitworth (or Alexander), in which work were three pieces of artillery. These two small detachments of troops were ordered to hold these batteries to the last extremity, for these two points were all that now barred the road to Petersburg, since Longstreet's forces had not yet arrived, which were to occupy the interval between the right of the Petersburg lines and the Appomattox River. Extra ammunition was issued to the men. As the enemy's long line advanced, the two guns in Gregg and the