My name is Wilson Smith, son of Mike Smith and Amanda Smith. I grew up in Ohio with my older brothers Pat and John. Since my birth I haven’t really been happy in this family. My parents and my brothers gave me a hard time. I always had to do the “dirty” jobs, and sometimes only my Mom defended me from the “Three Musketeers” as I called them. Everybody thought I was weak and not valuable. With the Battle at Chancellorsville, I wanted to prove to all, that I have a lot of courage and can defend my self. It was a great chance to join the 304th regiment to do so.
I could see my self shooting some damn grays, coming home as an victor, and telling all my stories of war. As it turned out it was harder than imagined. I will start my story at a battlefield somewhere in the north of Virginia. It was a pretty lugubrious day, no clouds, no sun, no noise, only the voice of some laggard soldiers, frightened of fighting, getting some rest from the first battle we had that day. Most were scared to death the day before, when we lost a bunch of people in a battlefield in the south. Most ran away, but some got wounded and didn’t make it to the camp.
I ran too, but Major General, General Hooker shouted at me to “Get back in line or [he] gonna kill me before the enemy does so. ” Of course, I ran back, but didn’t have a goal left. I felt like a little whiner. There was no way that I would have possibly thought about running away at home in Ohio, but I didn’t care if everybody would laugh at me when I told them I ran away. My only goal was not getting shot and dying on the battlefield. The battlefield looked like a really nice place with flowers, lakes, and birds singing in the trees, except battle had been fought on it.
However, I didn’t even want to think about ending my life in this war. The order from General Hooker was clear, “Win the upcoming attack against the Confederates. ” Far back on the edge of the horizon, we could see the grays coming up with their perfunctory screaming and yelling. I was not sure to fight or to start running. All the others stayed, so I didn’t even try to. Waiting in the very small but relatively safe trench wasn’t the best place to make an escape. Every soldier would see me, and the General would keep me back. With the upcoming command “Line up,” I got more and more scared thinking about getting wounded or shot.
We started walking towards the vociferous grays. The walk got faster and faster. I stayed close to Henry, heck of a guy, who never thought about running. Even the day before, when he could have run, he “fought on the right side,” he told me. I felt much safer next to him, than anyone else. He had been wounded wounded, but was still in good shape. Henry was a role model for me. As we got closer and closer to the enemy, our guys kept falling down. It seemed they fell on purpose so they wouldn’t have to fight. I followed Henry very close, and I shot one shot after another.
With every shot I took, I got more and more perfunctory. When our flag man, Ryan Jackson, went down, Henry was the first and only one who had the courage to run up to him and take the flag. I helped him getting the flag out of Jackson’s dead hands. That was the first time, even though it was probably only a few seconds, that I felt fulfilled with courage and pride. Henry took the flag and was now in the leading position in front of the whole regiment. He even started yelling at us to speed up and start shooting better. God, he was a heck of a man.
Everybody in the regiment was suddenly encouraged and started “fighting. ” As we approached the enemy’s hill I saw the Confederates’ flag man lying on the ground seriously wounded. My hands laggard towards the flag. At the same time I felt sublime, I felt bad and very sad for the dying man. I finally took the flag and held it with proud very tough and hard. At the same moment I took the flag, I prayed to God to bless the dead Confederate soldier, who was lying on the ground in the soft grass. As I finished my prayer, I closed his eyes and put both of his hands on his dead body.
I thought about the soldier’s family, and could only imagine how my family would accept the message if I had been killed. Getting ready to walk back to my regiment, I definitely felt the changes in my behavior from the beginning of the war to now. There was no one and nothing who could have possibly taken the flag away from me at that moment. The enemy’s regiment was defeated. Only dead, wounded, and captured grays were left on the battlefield. I was standing of the top of the hill, holding the enemy’s flag. I felt so proud. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell the story to my hole family. They would be so proud of me.