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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"I would charge hell itself"

General John Gregg

     One of the most emotionally charged moments of the Civil War occurred on Widow Tapp's farm on Orange Plank Road during the battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864. Unwisely waiting for the expected arrival of Longstreet's troops, A.P. Hill's soldiers were poorly prepared for the onslaught of the Union forces. The Rebels were thrown into confusion and at just the most crucial moment the Texas Brigade of Longstreet's corps, commanded by former Texas district judge John Gregg, arrived on the scene.
     What occurred next was recorded by Private Robert Campbell of the 5th Texas Infantry:

..."Attention Texas Brigade" was rung upon the morning air, by Gen. Gregg, "the eyes of General Lee are upon you, forward, march." Scarce had we moved a step, when Gen. Lee, in front of the whole command, raised himself in his stirrups, uncovered his grey hairs, and with an earnest, yet anxious voice, exclaimed above the din and confusion of the hour, "Texans always move them."
...never before in my lifetime or since, did I ever witness such a scene as was enacted when Lee pronounced these words, with the appealing look that he gave. A yell rent the air that must have been heard for miles around, and but few eyes in that old brigade of veterans and heroes of many a bloody field was undimmed by honest, heart-felt tears. Leonard Gee, a courier to Gen. Gregg, and riding  by my side, with tears coursing down his cheeks and yells issuing from his throat exclaimed, "I would charge hell itself for that old man."

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