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Beeland, E. W.
E. W. BEELAND, Farmersville, Texas, was born March 26, 1848, near Knoxville, Crawford County, Ga., and joined the Confederate Army at Macon, Ga., October, 1863, as private in Company F, Twenty-First Georgia Battalion of Artillery and was never promoted. Was afterwards changed to Gen. Finegan's Brigade, Gen. Billy Mahone's Division, Gen. A. P. Hill's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. My first Captain was J. E. Blount. When we first went out we went to the fort on Appalachicola River and took charge of a fort at Horse Shoe Bend, where we stayed until June the 8th, when we were ordered to Richmond and attached to Lee's Army, where we began to see some service.
The first battle I was in was on the 9th day of June, 1864, when we were ordered out about four miles from Richmond and reinforced Gen. Lee's army. We went into his breastworks under a heavy fire. We stayed here until the 28th of June when we retreated to Petersburg and crossed James River on a pontoon bridge. The next day we met Gen. Grant at Petersburg and opened on his men with our artillery and gave him a warns reception.
This was on July 1st and on Monday morning we began to fortify During my stay here I did picket duty and on the 30th day of July, 1864, as I turned to make my last trip from one picket hole to another, I saw a mortar shell come from Gen. Grant's line, which proved to be the signal for the advance of Grant's forces. The mine explosion blew up our battery and the place is called "Crater Hill." Grant put a regiment of negroes in front of his white troops and after the explosion charged us. We killed 1,300 in less than an hour. My position as picket gave me a good view of the whole engagement. After the negroes had been killed, they were followed by the white troops, many of whom met the same fate, until the "hole" was nearly full of dead men.
On Sunday a flag of truce was raised so that we might look after our dead and wounded, and as this relieved me learn my post as picket, I was allowed to go over the battlefield. I was very hungry and I found enough food in haversacks of dead men to give me the first square meal I had had for six month. This may not sound well, but Gen. Sherman said, "War is hell." In fact, men almost ceased to be human.
We stayed until Gen. Lee went to Appomattox. During this time I was taken sick and was taken to a hospital in Richmond to die, which I am glad I did not do. I went home on a thirty days' furlough which was extended thirty days. This was the only time I lost after my enlistment until all was over. I was with Gen. Lee when he made his last march, to Appomattox, where he surrendered.
In common with many others, I almost preferred death to surrender. After Gen. Lee had surrendered we looked over the old hills of Virginia where we left so many of our brave comrades, sad to leave them, but the time for parting had come. We who were still alive clasped hands for the last time and wandered home as best we could.