This poem appeared in the February 1864 issue of The Southern Literary Messenger (pp. 110-111). It was prefaced by the following note:The following lines commemmorative of the gallant Wheat, were written by a Southern lady in New Orleans upon the reception of the sad tidings in that city of his death upon the bloody field of Gains' Mill. Written amid the most trying scenes of Butler's brutal despotism, the tender pathetic devotion to the memory of the slain patriot which they express, affords an appropriate requiem to one of the most noble spirits that ever glowed with responsive warmth to the appeals of an oppressed country. It afford [sic] too, a proud evidence of the defiant spirit of the fair daughters of Louisiana, in whom not even the iron hoof of despotism could check the utterance of an unwavering devotion to country, and veneration for the martyred heroes, who die in defence of a holy cause. "Bury me on the field, boys," were the last words which Wheat uttered.
Chatham Roberdeau (Rob) Wheat was a Virginian by birth but gained his greatest fame as a major of a Louisiana unit. Born the son of an Episcopal minister in 1826, Wheat was studying law when the Mexican War broke out in 1846. In an odd turn of events, he ended up an oficer in the Mexican Army some years later after abandoning a successful criminal law practice in his adopted home of New Orleans to fight in Latin America with Lopez, Caravajal, Walker, and Alvarez. The outbreak of the War Between the States found him fighting for Garibaldi in Italy with the English Volunteers. He returned home to enlist with the First Louisiana Special Battallion, better known as the Louisiana Tigers. Although shot through both lungs at the Battle of First Manassas, Wheat stubbornly refused to die and continued on through the Valley Campaign of 1862. His death on the field at the Battle of Gaines' Mill (June 27, 1862) put an end to the fighting effectiveness of his unit.
"Last Words of Major Wheat"
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Last modified 16-April-2001