Mr. D. B. Bird, Jr.
My Dear Sir:
Your esteemed favor asking the facts concerning your father's death
received. It affords me a mournful pleasure
As to your father's death and the manner of it there can be no doubt or uncertainty. He fell in the performance
of duty at the post of danger, I may say leading a "forlorn hope" and acquitted himself most nobly as became a
brave Confederate soldier. These facts are known to a crowd (?) of witnesses - his comrades, who watched his
daring charge and saw his untimely fall.
Well do I remember the day, one of the most eventful of my life. It was
on the 3rd day of June, 1864, at the
a part of our line - held by General Breckenridge's Division - to which we were acting as a Reserve. Our brigade
had bivouacked upon the ground, and the charging troops of the enemy were almost upon us before General
Finegan could get his men into line and ready to repulse them. But our men responded promptly and moved
with such alacrity as to "sweep the enemy before them like a whirlwind", as was described by Georgia's great
war correspondent, P. W. A. We had recaptured and reoccupied our entrenchments, but the enemy's
sharpshooters still occupied a line of rifle pits covering our front, from which they kept up an annoying and
deadly fire. About 10 o'clock in the morning it was determined to make an effort to recover them. A detail from
the Brigade was made and Major Bird ordered to command it. At the word, they all leaped over the breastworks
and started at a run. As they did so, the enemy received them with a destructive fire, both from the rifle pits
and their main line, resulting in the killing and wounding of nearly every man who composed the detail, among
them your gallant and heroic father.
My eyes were upon him from the moment he started up that desperate charge until he fell, pieced by two
bullets. In less time than I take to write it, in response to a mute appeal which I can never forget, I jumped
over the breastworks and ran to his assistance. I had just reached his side and was in the act of lifting him up
when I too was shot down. About the same time, Lieutenant Lane of our battalion (the 6th Florida) came out
on the same mission and met the same fate, the poor fellow dying from his wounds some days afterward. Still
another ventured a rescue, and he was also shot down.
Later on, when the murderous fire had slackened a little, Sgt. Bryan of my Co. "D" came to my assistance and
two others whose names I cannot now recall to your father's and by hugging the ground fairly dragged us
inside our works, a little way at a time, as the lull in the enemy's fire would allow them to move.
After getting inside the breastworks we were compelled to lie there all
day and far into the night, before the
(sp) that filled the air. After halting a while at the field hospital, where we received the first surgical attention
since being wounded twelve hours before, we were carried to the corps hospital where we were kept until
ambulances could be had to convey us to Richmond. We were placed in the Howard Grove Hospital, which was
under the charge of Dr. T. M. Palmer, with Dr. Babcock, late of Jacksonville, as his assistant. Mrs. M. M. Reid,
was there as a ministering angel doing all that woman could and what only woman can do - to soothe, comfort
and console the wounded, whose name was legion. Mrs. D. Palmer was there also, thus your father fell into the
hands of skillful surgeons and kind and sympathetic friends; but alas, his wounds were mortal. The surgeons'
art, nor the tears and prayers of woman, availed him naught.
We were placed in the same ward and upon cots only a short distance
from each other, I could see and hear all
Such was the fall and death of your honored father, Major Pickens B.
Bird – as generous a soul, as brave a man,
In his patriotic endeavor, a faithful service and noble death his wife and children possess a legacy sealed by
the heart's blood of one of nature's nobleman.
I trust you will pardon the intrusion of myself into this true story of a . . .
[The letter ends here... some is missing. Major Pickens B. Bird is buried in the Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.]