We don’t hear enough about our heroes. Real heroes that is. The only heroes I hear about nowadays, besides our troops in perpetual warfare in the Middle East, are MLK or some other figure worshiped by the Left. Specifically, we don’t know about our Southern heroes. The South is essentially vilified in every medium of entertainment and venue of education. The Confederate soldier might as well be a faceless Nazi goon from Raiders of the Lost Ark, per our good friends in (((Hollywood))). So, when I hear about Buck Denman, it warms my heart to learn about one of our real forgotten heroes.
Below is an excerpt from Robert Stiles’ Four Years Under Marse Robert (published in 1904). Stiles was a major of artillery and served in the Army of Northern Virginia.
Buck Denman,–our old friend Buck, of Leesburg and Fort Johnston fame,–a Mississippi bear hunter and a superb specimen of manhood, was color sergeant of the Twenty-first and a member of Brandon’s company. He was tall and straight, broad-shouldered and deep-chested, had an eye like an eagle and a voice like a bull of Bashan, and was full of pluck and power as a panther. He was rough as a bear in manner, but withal a noble, tenderhearted fellow, and a splendid soldier.
The enemy, finding the way now clear, were coming up the street, full company front, with flags flying and bands playing, while the great shells from the siege guns were bursting over their heads and dashing their hurtling fragments after our retreating skirmishers.
Buck was behind the corner of a house taking sight for a last shot. Just as his fingers trembled on the trigger, a little three-year-old, fair-haired, baby girl toddled out of an alley, accompanied by a Newfoundland dog, and gave chase to a big shell that was rolling lazily along the pavement, she clapping her little hands and the dog snapping and barking furiously at the shell.
Buck’s hand dropped from the trigger. He dashed it across his eyes to dispel the mist and make sure he hadn’t passed over the river and wasn’t seeing his own baby girl in a vision. No, there is the baby, amid the hell of shot and shell, and here come the enemy. A moment and he has grounded his gun, dashed out into the storm, swept his great right arm around the baby, gained cover again, and, baby clasped to his breast and musket trailed in his left hand, is trotting after the boys up to Marye’s Heights.
And there behind that historic stone wall, and in the lines hard by, all those hours and days of terror was that baby kept, her fierce nurses taking turns patting her, while the storm of battle raged and shrieked, and at night wrestling with each other for the boon and benediction of her quiet breathing under their blankets. Never was baby so cared for. They scoured the country side for milk, and conjured up their best skill to prepare dainty viands for her little ladyship.
When the struggle was over and the enemy had withdrawn to his strongholds across the river, and Barksdale was ordered to reoccupy the town, the Twenty-first Mississippi, having held the post of danger in the rear, was given the place of honor in the van and led the column. There was a long halt, the brigade and regimental staff hurrying to and fro. The regimental colors could not be found.
Denman stood about the middle of the regiment, baby in arms. Suddenly he sprang to the front. Swinging her aloft above his head, her little garments fluttering like the folds of a banner, he shouted, “Forward, Twenty-first, here are your colors!” and without further order, off started the brigade toward the town, yelling as only Barksdale’s men could yell. They were passing through a street fearfully shattered by the enemy’s fire, and were shouting their very souls out–but let Buck himself describe the last scene in the drama:
“I was holding the baby high, Adjutant, with both arms, when above all the racket I heard a woman’s scream. The next thing I knew I was covered with calico and she fainted on my breast. I caught her before she fell, and laying her down gently, put her baby on her bosom. She was most the prettiest thing I ever looked at, and her eyes were shut; and–and–I hope God’ll forgive me, but I kissed her just once.”
God didn’t make them any better. We should look to the past – at our own heroes and emulate them. If we can.