Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Brett Schulte.
A BRAVE SOLDIER — The following account of the heroism of a private soldier, comes to us authenticated by the signature of Capt. Isaac Pipkin, commanding the skirmish line on the day when this instance of extraordinary gallantry took place.
Private Thomas Riley, of Company “H,” 31st N. C. regiment, Clingman’s brigade, was engaged with his company on skirmish duty,, near Clay’s farm, on the 19th ult. [Siege of Petersburg Online Ed. Note: May 19, 1864]. The order to charge was given, and a rush made upon the enemy’s rifle pits. On nearing the pits, and under a heavy fire, it was ascertained that the enemy was in strong force, which made it prudent for the skirmishers to retreat. But instead of retreating, Riley pulled off and waved his hat, exclaiming: “Come ahead, boys,” and onward he went regardless of his peril or of being alone. He passed over their pits and through the line of a whole regiment, passed by their rear and moving by their right flank, re-entered our lines again unscathed.
In the charge he wounded a private through both legs and killed a sergeant, taking from his person everything that was desirable, such as gun, canteen, knapsack, &c. Riley has killed seven of the “bluebellies” exclusive of those he has wounded.
The above is only one out of several instances of this soldier’s bravery, since the commencement of the series of battles and skirmishes fought on the South-side. We feel great pride and pleasure in giving publicity to well authenticated facts like the above, which do honor to the brave and worthy men who compose the rank and file of our armyWhen a grateful people erects a lasting testament to the “unknown heroes” of the war, a marble tablet will contain names of all those who like Thos. Riley have deserved well of their country, and whose memory, like his, will be rescued from that oblivion which is too often the fate of the private soldier.–Petersburg Express1
- “A Brave Soldier.” Raleigh Confederate. June 10, 1864, p. 1 col. 2 ↩
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