FROM THE FORTY-FOURTH
WASHINGTON, May 30, 1864.
A letter to the Editor of the Seneca Co. Courier about the death of Sidney Burroughs:
SIR: - Knowing the facts by observation, which may never be brought before the public, I ask permission for a little space in your valuable, and, I have no doubt, crowded paper, for something which may interest many of your readers, in relation to the doings of the 44th N. Y. V. during the recent battles, and the death of one of its members, who lived and fought like a soldier, and like a soldier he died, and was buried in the "Wilderness."
The march of the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan, the manoeuvres and movements to gain an advantageous position, of this you know all. We will pass over the marches and counter marches, through mud and rain, night and day, to the morning of the 7th day of May, a day memorable in history and in the hearts of the American people, and by many of your own readers with mournful pride. The morning was gloomy, and fog hung like a pall over the "Wilderness."
The 44th expected, as they had a right to, that so small a regiment, thinned out as they had been in nearly every engagement in Virginia, and cut up as they were at Gettysburg, that if any were reserved, they surely would be. But General Grant asked for troops to open his campaign that could be relied on. General Warren selected the 44th among the first to answer that call, and with alacrity they did it, and marched gladly forward to take their place in the front line - glad for the honor conferred.
The lines were formed by three o'clock, P. M., and now the men had time, the first since daylight, to eat their rations. So there, 'neath the shade of the Wilderness, in the swamp, on logs, some in dry places, some in wet, the Army of the Potomac sat down to dinner, as gay and happy as they might be on a gunning excursion. But the picket line warn them of the advancing foe, for the occasional firing on the picket line had increased to the rapid firing of advancing skirmishers, and the return volley from our rallying pickets tells us that the ball is about to open. Now the quick and spiteful rattle of the "Picket Reserve," growing nearer each moment, calls the line to "Attention." We will listen to the last roll-call, before the enemy are uncovered by our skirmishers, - the last to so many. We hear the name, James Woodworth, Color-Bearer. - he answers, "here." S. W. Burroughs - "here." M. Yeckley, - "here." Wm. Oliver, - "here." C. Pruden, - "here." J. Sperling, - "here." H. Campbell, - "here." C. McDuffee, - "here." Oscar Tucker, - "here;" and many other familiar names. But the "Roll-Call" has ended, and the 44th are waiting. The "Picket Reserve" are filing to the rear, and we see the gray lines of skirmishers, like flitting shadows, - now you see him, and now you don't. At last, like a swarm of locusts, the gray line appears. It's gray to the right, and gray to the left, and a swarm of gray in front.
But few words are spoken. "Men of the 44th, remember 'Gettysburg,' 'Antietam,' 'Bristo Station,' 'Cedar Mountain,' and 'Bull Run;' your flag, your country, and your homes!" With one wild cheer for their galant commander, and at his command, "Ready," every hammer goes firmly back. "Steady, men. Aim! Fire low. Fire!" and the 44th, for the tenth time, is fairly launched upon the sea of blood. The galling fire of the 44th is returned, and it seems as though by the whole opposing line, for they go down like ripe wheat in a tempest. With bayonets fixed, the remainder brace themselves to receive the charge for the purpose of capturing the Colors. Dirty flag, ragged and blood-stained though it be, it is dearer to those men than their heart's blood. But see that "Color-Guard" go down! The gallant Color-Bearer more than once down, but up again and struggles with that flag to the front. With a yell like demons, they charge, but the 44th rally round their flag and save it, and at the point of the bayonet they drive them back; but alas! they take with them the firm old guard. S. W. Burroughs did not answer, like many others, to the next "Roll-Call." He died the next morn at daylight, from a wound received in the breast. Said he: "Boys, when you march home, tell them how we did this, and how I died. Tell them they asked us to bring that flag home, and we have done it; for, boys, you must remember! - and he was dead.
H. J. E. C.