The army was retreating from Centreville. The battle was fought against a rebel force that had penetrated five miles nearer Washington than our rear and was moving to strike upon the flank. Gen. Stevens’ division, the advance of Reno’s corps, was on the left of the road taken by the trains, and intercepted the enemy. He saw that the rebels must be beaten back at once, or during the night they would stampede the wagons, and probably so disconcert our retreat that the last divisions would fall a prey to their main force. He decided to attack immediately, at the same time sending back for support. Having made his dispositions, he led the attack on foot at the head the Eighty-eighth (Highlanders). Soon meeting a withering fire and the color-sergeant, Sandy Campbell, a grizzled old Scotchman, being wounded, they faltered. One of the color-guard took up the flag, when the General snatched it from him. The wounded Highlander at his feet cried, “For God’s sake, General, don’t you take the colors; they’ll shoot you if you do!” The answer was, “Give me the colors! If they don’t follow now, they never will;” and he sprang forward, crying, “We are all Highlanders; follow, Highlanders; forward, my Highlanders!” The Highlanders did follow their Scottish chief, but while sweeping forward a ball struck him on his right temple. He died instantly. An hour afterwards, when taken up, his hands were still clinched around the flag-staff.
A moment after seizing the colors, his son, Captain Hazzard Stevens, fell wounded, and cried to his father that he was hurt. With but a glance back, that Roman father said: “I cannot attend to you now, Hazzard. Corporal Thompson, see to my boy.”
Originally posted 2009-01-02 13:56:21.