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Title: From the Rapidan to Richmond and the Spottsylvania Campaign - A Sketch in Personal Narration of the Scenes a Soldier Saw
Author: Dame, William Meade, 1845?-1923
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A Sketch in Personal Narrative of the Scenes a Soldier Saw


Private, First Company
Richmond Howitzers

Green-Lucas Company

Copyright, 1920, by Harry B. Green


[Illustration: WILLIAM MEADE DAME, D. D.


               BALTIMORE, MD.




Thomas Nelson Page

"The land where I was born" was, in my childhood, a great battleground.
War--as we then thought the vastest of all wars, not only that had been,
but that could ever be--swept over it. I never knew in those days a man
who had not been in the war. So, "The War" was the main subject in every
discussion and it was discussed with wonderful acumen. Later it took on
a different relation to the new life that sprung up and it bore its part
in every gathering much as the stories of Troy might have done in the
land where Homer sang. To survive, however, in these reunions as a
narrator one had to be a real contributor to the knowledge of his
hearers. And the first requisite was that he should have been an actor
in the scenes he depicted; secondly, that he should know how to depict
them. Nothing less served. His hearers themselves all had experience and
demanded at least not less than their own. As the time grew more distant
they demanded that it should be preserved in more definite form and the
details of the life grew more precious.

Among those whom I knew in those days as a delightful narrator of
experiences and observations--not of strategy nor even of tactics in
battle; but of the life in the midst of the battles in the momentous
campaign in which the war was eventually fought out, was a kinsman of
mine--the author of this book. A delightful raconteur because he had
seen and felt himself what he related, he told his story without
conscious art, but with that best kind of art: simplicity. Also with
perennial freshness; because he told it from his journals written on the

Thus, it came about that I promised that when he should be ready to
publish his reminiscences I would write the introduction for them. My
introduction is for a story told from journals and reminiscent of a time
in the fierce Sixties when, if passion had free rein, the virtues were
strengthened by that strife to contribute so greatly a half century
later to rescue the world and make it "safe for Democracy."

It was the war--our Civil War--that over a half century later brought
ten million of the American youth to enroll themselves in one day to
fight for America. It was the work in "the Wilderness" and in those long
campaigns, on both sides, which gave fibre to clear the Belleau Wood. It
was the spirit of the armies of Lee and Grant which enabled Pershing's
army to sweep through the Argonne.

_Rome_, March 27, 1919.


_The following tribute to Robert E. Lee was written by Lord Wolseley
when commander-in-chief of the armies of Great Britain, an office which
he held until succeeded by Lord Roberts._

_Lord Wolseley had visited General Lee at his headquarters during the
progress of the great American conflict. Some time thereafter Wolseley

"The fierce light which beats upon the throne is as a rushlight in
comparison with the electric glare which our newspapers now focus upon
the public man in Lee's position. His character has been subjected to
that ordeal, and who can point to a spot upon it? His clear, sound
judgment, personal courage, untiring activity, genius for war, absolute
devotion to his State, mark him out as a public man, as a patriot to be
forever remembered by all Americans. His amiability of disposition, deep
sympathy with those in pain or sorrow, his love for children, nice sense
of personal honor and generous courtesy, endeared him to all his
friends. I shall never forget his sweet, winning smile, nor his clean,
honest eyes that seemed to look into your heart while they searched your
brain. I have met with many of the great men of my time, but Lee alone
impressed me with the feeling that I was in the presence of a man who
was cast in a grander mold and made of different and finer metal than
all other men. He is stamped upon my memory as being apart and superior
to all others in every way, a man with whom none I ever knew and few of
whom I have read are worthy to be classed. When all the angry feelings
aroused by the secession are buried with those that existed when the
American Declaration of Independence was written; when Americans can
review the history of their last great war with calm impartiality, I
believe all will admit that General Lee towered far above all men on
either side in that struggle. I believe he will be regarded not only as
the most prominent figure of the Confederacy, but as the greatest
American of the nineteenth century, whose statue is well worthy to stand
on an equal pedestal with that of Washington and whose memory is equally
worthy to be enshrined in the hearts of all his countrymen.


[Illustration: GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE]


INTRODUCTION                                                     1

The cause of conflict and the call to arms--Those who
answered the call--An army of volunteers--Our great
leader--The call comes home--First Company Richmond
Howitzers--Back to civil life--Origin of this narrative.

CAMPAIGN                                                        17

Morton's Ford--Building camp quarters--"Housewarming"
on parched corn, persimmons and water--Camp duties--Camp
recreations--A special entertainment--Confederate soldier
rations--A fresh egg--When fiction became fact--Confederate
fashion plates--A surprise attack--Wedding bells and a
visit home--The soldiers' profession of faith--The example
of Lee, Jackson and Stuart--Spring sprouts and a "tar heel"

II. BATTLE OF THE WILDERNESS                                    63

"Marse Robert" calls to arms--The spirit of the soldiers
of the South--Peace fare and fighting ration--Marse
Robert's way of making one equal to three--An infantry
battle--Arrival of the First Corps--The love that Lee
inspired in the men he led--"Windrows" of Federal dead.


Stuart's four thousand cavalry--Greetings on the field
of battle--"Jeb" Stuart assigns "a little job"--Wounding
of Robert Fulton Moore--A useful discovery--Barksdale's
Mississippi Creeper--Kershaw's South Carolina
"rice-birds"--Feeling pulses--Where the fight was
hottest--Against heavy odds at "Fort Dodge"--"Sticky" mud
and yet more "sticky" men--Gregg's Texans to the front--
Breakfastless but "ready for customers"--Parrott's reply
to Napoleon's twenty to two--The narrow escape of an
entire company--Successive attacks by Federal infantry--
Eggleston's heroic death--"Texas will never forget
Virginia"--Contrast in losses and the reasons
therefore--Why Captain Hunter failed to rally his men--
Having "a cannon handy"--Grant's neglect of Federal


The last march of our Howitzer Captain--The bloodiest
fifteen minutes of the war--Federal troops refuse to
be slaughtered--Dr. Carter "apologizes for getting
shot"--Death of Captain McCarthy--A Summary.


=The Cause of Conflict and the Call to Arms=

In 1861 a ringing call came to the manhood of the South. The world knows
how the men of the South answered that call. Dropping everything, they
came from mountains, valleys and plains--from Maryland to Texas, they
eagerly crowded to the front, and stood to arms. What for? What moved
them? What was in their minds?

Shallow-minded writers have tried hard to make it appear that slavery
was the cause of that war; that the Southern men fought to keep their
slaves. They utterly miss the point, or purposely pervert the truth.

In days gone by, the theological schoolmen held hot contention over the
question as to the kind of wood the Cross of Calvary was made from. In
their zeal over this trivial matter, they lost sight of the great thing
that did matter; the mighty transaction, and purpose displayed upon that

In the causes of that war, slavery was only a detail and an occasion.
Back of that lay an immensely greater thing; the defense of their
rights--the most sacred cause given men on earth, to maintain at every
cost. It is the cause of humanity. Through ages it has been,
pre-eminently, the cause of the Anglo-Saxon race, for which countless
heroes have died. With those men it was to defend the rights of their
States to control their own affairs, without dictation from anybody
outside; a right not _given_, but _guaranteed_ by the Constitution,
which those States accepted, most distinctly, under that condition.

It was for that these men came. This was just what they had in their
minds; to uphold that solemnly guaranteed constitutional right,
distinctly binding all the parties to that compact. The South pleaded
with the other parties to the Constitution to observe their guarantee;
when they refused, and talked of force, then the men of the South got
their guns and came to see about it.

They were Anglo-Saxons. What could you expect? Their fathers had fought
and died on exactly this issue--they could do no less. As their noble
fathers, so their noble sons pledged their lives, and their sacred honor
to uphold the same great cause--peaceably if they could; forcibly if
they must.

=Those Who Answered the Call=

So the men of the South came together. They came from every rank and
calling of life--clergymen, bishops, doctors, lawyers, statesmen,
governors of states, judges, editors, merchants, mechanics, farmers. One
bishop became a lieutenant general; one clergyman, chief of artillery,
Army of Northern Virginia. In one artillery battalion three clergymen
were cannoneers at the guns. All the students of one Theological
Seminary volunteered, and three fell in battle, and all but one were
wounded. They came of every age. I personally know of six men over sixty
years who volunteered, and served in the ranks, throughout the war; and
in the Army of Northern Virginia, more than ten thousand men were under
eighteen years of age, many of them sixteen years.

They came of every social condition of life: some of them were the most
prominent men in the professional, social, and political life of their
States; owners of great estates, employing many slaves; and thousands of
them, horny-handed sons of toil, earning their daily bread by their
daily labor, who never owned a slave and never would.

There came men of every degree of intellectual equipment--some of them
could hardly read, and per contra, in my battery, at the mock burial of
a pet crow, there were delivered an original Greek ode, an original
Latin oration, and two brilliant eulogies in English--all in honor of
that crow; very high obsequies had that bird.

Men who served as cannoneers of that same battery, in after life came to
fill the highest positions of trust and influence--from governors and
professors of universities, downward; and one became Speaker of the
House of Representatives in the United States Congress. Also, it is to
be noted that twenty-one men who served in the ranks of the Confederate
Army became Bishops of the Episcopal Church after the war.

Of the men who thus gathered from all the Southern land, the first
raised regiments were drawn to Virginia, and there organized into an
army whose duty it was to cover Richmond, the Capital of the
Confederacy--just one hundred miles from Washington, which would
naturally be the center of military activities of the hostile armies.

=An Army of Volunteers=

The body, thus organized, was composed _entirely of volunteers_. Every
man in it was there because he wanted to come as his solemn duty. It was
made up of regiments from every State in the South--Maryland, Virginia,
North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi,
Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Tennessee. Each State had its quota, and
there were many individual volunteers from Kentucky, Missouri and
elsewhere. That army was baptized by a name that was to become immortal
in the annals of war--"The Army of Northern Virginia."

What memories cluster around that name! Great soldiers, and military
critics of all nations of Christendom, including even the men who fought
it, have voiced their opinion of that army, and given it high praise.
Many of them, duly considering its spirit, and recorded deeds, and the
tremendous odds against which it fought, have claimed for it the highest
place on the roll of honor, and in the Hall of Fame, among all the
armies of history.

Truly it deserves high place! when you think that after four years of
heroic courage, devotion, and endurance, never more than half fed,
poorly supplied with clothes, often scant of ammunition, holding the
field after every battle, that it fought, till the end, worn out at
last, it disbanded at Appomattox, when only eight thousand hungry men
remained with arms in their hands, and they, defiant, and fighting
still, when the white flags began to pass. They surrendered then only
because General Lee said they must, because he would not vainly
sacrifice another man; and they wept like broken-hearted children when
they heard his orders. They would have fought on till the last man
dropped, but General Lee said: "No, you, my men, go home and serve your
country in peace as you have done in war."

=Our Great Leader=

They did as General Lee told them to do, and it was the indomitable
courage of those men and of the women of their land, who were just as
brave, at home, as the men were, at the front, which has made the South
rise from its ruins and blossom as the rose as it does this day.

Thus "yielding to overwhelming numbers and resources," the Army of
Northern Virginia died. But its _glory_ has not died, and the splendor
of its deeds has not, and will not grow dim.

As, in vision, I look across the long years that have pressed their
length between the now and then, I can see that Army of Northern
Virginia on the march. At its head rides one august and knightly figure,
Robert E. Lee, the knightliest gentleman, and the saintliest hero that
our race has bred. He is on old "Traveler," almost as famous as his
master. On his right rides that thunderbolt of war, Stonewall Jackson,
on "Little Sorrel," with whose fame the world was ringing when he fell.
On Lee's left, on his beautiful mare, "Lady Annie," the bright, flashing
cavalier, "Jeb" Stuart, the darling of the Army.

Behind these three, in their swinging stride, tramp the long columns of
infantry, artillery, and cavalry of the army. As we gaze upon that
spectacle, we say, and nothing better can be said, "Those chiefs were
worthy to lead those soldiers; those soldiers were worthy to follow
Robert Lee."

In this order, The Army of Northern Virginia, General Lee in front, has
come marching down the road of history, and shall march on, and all
brave souls of the generations stand at "Salute," and do them homage as
they pass. Noble Army of Northern Virginia!

All true men will understand and none, least of all the brave men who
faced it in battle, will deny to the old Confederate the just right to
be proud that he was comrade to those men and marched in their ranks,
and was with their leader to the end. Of that army, I had, thank God!
the honor to be a soldier. It came about in this way.

=The Call Comes Home=

When the war began I was a school boy attending the Military Academy in
Danville, Virginia, where I was born and reared. At once the school
broke up. The teachers, and all the boys who were old enough went into
the army. I was just sixteen years old, and small for my age, and I can
understand now, but could not then, how my parents looked upon the
desire of a boy like that to go to the war, as out of the question. I
did not think so. I was a strong, well-knit fellow, and it seemed to me
that what you required in a soldier was a man who could shoot, and would
stay there and do it. I knew I could shoot, and I thought I could stay
there and do it, so I was sure I could be a soldier, and I was crazy to
go, but my parents could not see it so, and I was very miserable. All my
classmates in school had gone or were going, and I pictured to myself
the boys coming back from the war, as soldiers who had been in battle,
and all the honors that would be showered upon them--and I would be out
of it all. The thought that I had not done a manly part in this great
crisis would make me feel disgraced all my life. It was horrible.

My father, the honored and beloved minister of the Episcopal Church in
Danville, and my mother, the daughter and grand-daughter of two
Revolutionary soldiers, said they wanted me to go, and would let me go,
when I was older--I was too young and small as yet. But I was afraid it
would be all over before I got in, and I would lay awake at night, sad
and wretched with this fear. I need not have been afraid of that. There
was going to be plenty to go around, but I did not know that then, and I
was low in mind. I suppose that my very strong feeling on the subject
was natural. It was the inherited microbe in the blood. Though I was
only a school boy in a back country town, my forebears had always been
around when there was any fighting to be done. My great-grandfather,
General Thomas Nelson, and my grandfather, Major Carter Page, and all
their kin of the time had fought through the Revolutionary War. My
people had fought in the war of 1812, and the Mexican War, and the
Indian Wars. Whenever anybody was fighting our country, some of my
people were in it, and back of that, Lord Nelson of Trafalgar, was a
second cousin of my great-grandfather, Thomas Nelson; and, still farther
back of that, my ancestor, Thomas Randolph, in command of a division of
the Scottish Army under King Robert Bruce, was the man who, by his
furious charge, broke the English line at "Bannockburn" and won the
Independence of Scotland.

You see that a boy, with all that back of him, in his family, had the
virus in his blood, and could not help being wretched when his country
was invaded, and fighting, and he not in it. He would feel that he was
dishonoring the traditions of his race, and untrue to the memory of his
fathers. However, that schoolboy brooding over the situation was mighty
miserable. When my parents realized my feelings, they, at last, gave up
their opposition, and I went into the army with their consent, and

=First Company Richmond Howitzers=

While this matter was hanging fire, having been at a military academy, I
was trying to do some little service by helping to drill some of the raw
companies which were being rapidly raised, in and around Danville. The
minute I was free, off I went. Circumstances led me to enlist in a
battery made up in Richmond, known as the "First Company of Richmond
Howitzers," and I was thus associated with as fine a body of men as ever
lived--who were to be my comrades in arms, and the most loved, and
valued friends of my after life.

This battery was attached to "Cabell's Battalion" and formed part of the
field artillery of Longstreet's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. It was
a "crack" battery, and was always put in when anything was going on. It
served with great credit, and was several times mentioned in General
Orders, as having rendered signal service to the army. It was in all the
campaigns, and in action in every battle of the Army of Northern
Virginia. It fought at Manassas, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Seven Days'
Battle around Richmond in 1862, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Harpers
Ferry, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Morton's Ford, The
Wilderness, The Battles of Spottsylvania Court House, North Anna, Pole
Green Church, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and at Appomattox Court House.
Every one of the cannoneers, who had not been killed or wounded, was at
his gun in its last fight. The very last thing it did was to help "wipe
up the ground" with some of Sheridan's Cavalry, which attacked and tried
to ride us down, but was cut to pieces by our cannister fire, and went
off as hard as their horses could run--as if the devil was after them.
Then the surrender closed our service.

=Back to Civil Life=

My comrades, as the rest of the army, scattered to their homes. I went
to my home in Danville, and had to walk 180 miles to get there. After a
few days, which I chiefly employed in trying to get rid of the sensation
of starving, I went to work--got a place in the railroad service.

After eighteen months of this, I proceeded to carry out a purpose that I
had in mind since the closing days of the war. I had been through that
long and bloody conflict; I had been at my gun every time it went into
action, except once when I was lying ill of typhoid fever; I had been in
the path of death many times, and though hit several times, had never
been seriously wounded, or hurt badly enough to have to leave my
gun--and here I was at the end of all this--alive, and well and strong,
and twenty years of age. As I thought of God's merciful protection
through all those years of hardship and danger, a wish and purpose was
born, and got fixed in my mind and heart, to devote my life to the
service of God in the completest way I could as a thanksgiving to Him.
Naturally, my thoughts turned to the ministry of the Gospel, and I
decided to enter the seminary and train for that service as soon as the
way was open.

While I was in the railroad train work, I studied hard in the scraps of
time to get some preparation, and in September, 1866, I entered the
Virginia Theological Seminary along with twenty-five other students--all
of whom were Confederate soldiers. I here tackled a job that was much
more trying than working my old twelve-pounder brass Napoleon gun in a
fight. I would willingly have swapped jobs, if it had been all the same,
but I worked away, the best I could, at the Hebrew, and Greek, and
"Theology," and all the rest, for three years.

Somehow I got through, and graduated, and was ordained by Bishop Johns
of Virginia, the twenty-sixth of June, 1869. Thus the old cannoneer was
transformed into a parson, who intended to try to be as faithful to
duty, as a parson, as the old cannoneer had been. He has carried that
purpose through life ever since. How far he has realized it, others will
have to judge.

After serving for nine years in several parishes in Virginia, I came to
Baltimore as rector of Memorial Church, and have been here ever since.
Hence I have served in the ministry for fifty years--forty-one of which
I have spent serving the Memorial Church, and having, as a side line,
been Chaplain of the "Fifth Regiment Maryland National Guard" for
thirty-odd years. When one is bitten by the military "bee" in his youth,
he never gets over it--the sight of a line of soldiers, and the sound
of martial music stirs me still, as it always did, and I have had the
keenest interest and pleasure in my association with that splendid
regiment, and my dear friends and comrades in it.

So, through the changes and chances of this mortal life, I have come
thus far, and by the blessing of God, and the patience of my people, at
the age of seventy-four I am still in full work among the people, whom I
have served so long, and loved so well--still at my post where I hope to
stay till the Great Captain orders me off to service in the only place I
know of, that is better than the congregation of Memorial Church, and
the community of Baltimore--and that is the everlasting Kingdom of

=Origin of This Narrative=

Now, what I have been writing here is intended to lead up to the
narrative set forth in the pages of this volume. Sam Weller once said to
Mr. Pickwick, when invited to eat a veal pie, "Weal pies is werry good,
providin' you knows the lady as makes 'em, and is sure that they _is
weal_ and not _cats_." The remark applies here: a narrative is "werry
good providin' you knows" the man as makes it, and are sure that it is
facts, and not fancy tales. You want to be satisfied that the writer was
a personal witness of the things he writes about, and is one who can be
trusted to tell you things as he actually saw them. I hope both these
conditions are fulfilled in this narrative.

But some one might say, "How about this narrative that you are about to
impose on a suffering public, who never did you any harm? What do you do
it for?"

Well, I did not do it of malice aforethought. It came about in this way.
Young as I was when I went into the war, and never having seen anything
of the world outside the ordinary life of a boy, in a quiet country
town, the scenes of that soldier life made a deep impression on my mind,
and I have carried a very clear recollection of them--everyone--in my
memory ever since. As I have looked back, and thought upon the events,
and especially the spirit, and character, and record, of my old comrades
in that army, my admiration, and estimate of their high worth as
soldiers has grown ever greater, and I felt a very natural desire that
others should know them as I knew them--and put them in their rightful
rank as soldiers. The only way to do this is for those who know to tell
people about them; what manner of warriors they were.

Now mark how one glides into mischief unintentionally. Years ago, I was
beguiled into making, at various times, places, and occasions, certain,
what might be called, "Camp Fire Talks" descriptive of Soldier Life in
the Army of Northern Virginia. Weakly led on by the kindly expressed
opinions of those who heard these talks, and urged by old friends, and
comrades, and others, I ventured on a more connected narrative of our
observations and experiences, as soldiers in that army. I wrote a
sketch, in that vein, of the "Spottsylvania Campaign"--in 1864--fought
between General Lee and General Grant. It was a tremendous struggle of
the two armies for thirty days--almost without a break. It was a
thrilling period of the war, and brought out the high quality of both
the Commander and the fighting men of the Army of Northern Virginia.

It was the bloodiest struggle known to history, up to that time. As one
item, at Cold Harbor, General Grant, in fifteen minutes, by the watch,
lost 13,723 men, killed and wounded, irrespective of many
prisoners--more men in a quarter of an hour than the British Army lost
in the whole battle of Waterloo. That gives an idea of the terrible
intensity of that campaign--one incident of it the bloodiest quarter of
an hour in all the history of war.

I took as a title for my sketch "From the Rapidan to Richmond" or "The
Bloody War Path of 1864"--"The Scenes One Soldier Saw."

As a guarantee of its accuracy, I took that narrative to Richmond, and
in the presence of fifteen of my old comrades of the First Howitzers,
every man of whom had been along with me through all the incidents of
which I wrote, and therefore had personal knowledge of all the facts, I
read it, and we freely discussed it. What resulted has the approval, and
endorsement of all those personal witnesses, and may be counted on as
accurate--in every statement and impression made in this story, and may
be safely accepted by the reader as a true narration of facts.

I am urged to put the narrative in such form that its contents may be
more widely known, and I am glad to do it. I do want as many as possible
to know my old comrades as I knew them, and value them at their true
worth. My narrative is a true account of that soldier life, and
illustrates the stuff of which those men of the Army of Northern
Virginia were made. The story illustrates this in a graphic and
impressive way, because it is a simple and homely story of how they
lived, and what they did--showing what they were. It is an honorable
testimony to the character, and worth, as patriot soldiers, of my old
comrades--borne by one who saw them display their courage, and
endurance, and devotion in heroic conduct, in every possible way,
through the long strain, and stress of war--to the end.

I believe there is interest and value, to the true understanding of
history, in such narratives of personal witnesses to the men, and
things, and conditions of that past, which reflected so much glory on
the manhood of our American race; which sterling quality, of high
soldierly worth, has just been shown again, in the present generation of
our race, when American soldiers, drawn from the North, South, East and
West have stood, shoulder to shoulder, in the one American line, under
the Star-Spangled Banner, and fighting for the freedom of the world. Our
splendid American men of today are what they are, and have done what
they did, because the blood of their sires runs in them; because they
are "the same breed of dogs" with the American soldiers, who, on both
sides, in the bloody struggle of the Civil War, bore them so bravely in
the days gone by.

This narrative only paints the picture, and gives a sample of the
Anglo-Saxon American soldier of the generation just gone; it shed lustre
upon our race. This generation has done the same--all honor to both!

=A Summary=

Let us Americans, at all cost, keep pure the Anglo-Saxon blood, to which
this America belongs, of right; let us as a nation, Americans all, work
and dwell together in true comradeship, and let our nation walk in just
and right ways, for our country. Then, indeed, our heart's aspiration
shall be fulfilled.

  "And the Star-Spangled Banner _forever_ shall wave
   O'er the land of the free--and the home of the brave."

As a preface to the sketch of the active campaign, I have given some
account of our life in the winter quarters camp, the winter before, from
which we marched to battle when the Spottsylvania Campaign opened.




=Morton's Ford=

From Orange Court House, Virginia, the road running northeast into
Culpeper crosses Morton's Ford of the Rapidan River, which, in December,
1863, lay between the "Federal Army of the Potomac" and the "Confederate
Army of Northern Virginia." The Ford is nineteen miles from Orange Court

Just after the battle of Mine Run, November 26 to 28, our Battery left
its bivouac near the Court House, and marched to the Ford. As the road
reaches a point within three-quarters of a mile of the river, it rises
over a sharp hill and thence winds its way down the hill to the Ford. On
the ridge, just where the road crosses it, the guns of the Battery,
First Company of Richmond Howitzers, were placed in position, commanding
the Ford, and the Howitzer Camp was to the right of the road, in the
pine woods just back of the ridge. We had been sent here to help the
Infantry pickets to watch the enemy, and guard the Ford. Orders were
that we should remain in this position all winter, and were to make
ourselves as comfortable as we could, with a view to this long stay. We
got there December 2 and 3, and, in fact, did stay there until the
opening of the spring campaign, May 3, 1864.

=Building Camp Quarters=

With these instructions, as soon as we placed our guns in battery on the
hill, we went promptly to work to fix up winter quarters in the shelter
of the pines down the hill just a few rods back of the guns. It was
getting very cold, and rough weather threatened, so we pitched in and
worked hard to get ready for it.

Each group of tent mates chose their own site and thereon built such a
house as suited their energy, and judgment, or fancy. Some few of the
lazy ones stayed under canvas all winter, but most of us constructed
better quarters. In my group, four of us lived together, and we built
after this manner. On our selected site, we marked off a space about ten
feet square. We dug to the line all around, and to a depth of three or
four feet in the ground--this going below the surface of the ground gave
a better protection against wind and cold than any wall one could
build--and on that bleak hill you wanted all the shield from wind that
you could get. Having dug a hole ten feet square and three feet deep, we
went into the woods and cut, squared, and carried on our shoulders logs,
twelve or eighteen inches thick, and twelve feet long--enough to build
around three sides of that hole a wall four feet high. Half of the
fourth side was taken up by the chimney, which was built of short logs
split in half and covered well inside with mud. With such suitable
stones as we could pick up, we lined the fire place immediately around
the fire, and as far above as we had rocks to do it with. The other half
of the fourth side was left for the door, over which was hung any old
blanket or other cloth that we could beg, borrow or steal.

The log walls done, we dug a deep hole, loosened up the clay at the
bottom, poured in water and mixed up a lot of mud with which we chinked
up the interstices between the logs and covered the wood in the chimney.
The earth that had been thrown up in digging the hole, we now banked up
against the log wall all around, which made it wind proof; and then over
this gem of architecture we stretched our fly. We had no closed
tents--only a fly, a straight piece of tent cloth all open at the sides.
Our fly, supported by a rude pole, and drawn down and firmly fastened to
the top of the log wall, made the roof of the house.

="Housewarming" on Parched Corn, Persimmons and Water=

Then we went out and cut small poles and made a bunk, to lift us off the
ground. Over the expanse of springy poles we spread sprigs of cedar--and
this made a pretty good spring mattress. Last of all, we dug a ditch all
around our house to keep the water from draining down into our room and
driving us out. Then we went in, built a fire in our fireplace, called
in our friends, and had a house-warming. The refreshments were parched
corn, persimmons (which two of us walked two miles to get) and water.
Of the latter, we had plenty in canteens borrowed from the boys. We had
a bully time, and we kept it up late. Then we went to bed in our cosy
bunk and slept like graven images till reveille next morning. Thus we
were housed for the winter--"under our own vine and fig tree," so to

Most of the other houses were built after the same general style. We
bragged that we had the best house in camp, and were very chesty about
it. Others did likewise.

The men's quarters ready, we at once set to work on stables for the
horses, of which there were about seventy, belonging to the Battery. All
hands were called in to do this work. We scattered through the woods,
cut logs and carried them on our shoulders to the spot selected. We
built up walls around three sides, leaving the fourth or sunny side
open. Then we cut logs into three or four foot lengths and split them
into slabs, and with these slabs, as a rough sort of shingle, covered
the roof and weighted them down, in place, with long, heavy logs laid
across each row of slabs. Then we mixed mud and stopped up the cracks in
the log walls. Altogether, we had a good, strong wind and rain-proof
building, which was an effective shelter for the horses and in which
they kept dry and comfortable through the winter--which was a cold and
stormy one. All the men worked hard, and we soon had the stable
finished, and the horses housed. Thus our building work was done, and
we settled into the regular routine of camp life.

=Camp Duties=

Perhaps a little sketch of our life in winter quarters, how we lived,
how we employed ourselves, and what we did to pass away the time, may be
interesting. I will try to give you some account of all that.

Of course, we all had our military duties to attend to regularly. The
drivers had to clean, feed, water, and exercise the horses, and keep the
stables in order. The "cannoneers" had to keep the guns clean, bright,
and ready for service any minute--also they had to stand guard at the
guns on the hill all the time, and over the camp, at night, to guard the
forage, and look after things generally. We had to drill some every
day--police the camp and keep the roads near the camp in order. To this
day's work we were called, every morning at six o'clock, by the bugler
blowing the reveille. I may mention the fact that Prof. Francis Nicholas
Crouch, the composer of the famous and beautiful song, "Kathleen
Mavourneen," was the bugler of our Battery, and he was the heartless
wretch who used to persecute us that way. To be waked up and hauled out
about day dawn on a cold, wet, dismal morning, and to have to hustle out
and stand shivering at roll call, was about the most exasperating item
of the soldier's life. The boys had a song very expressive of a
soldier's feelings when nestling in his warm blankets, he heard the
malicious bray of that bugle. It went like this:

  "Oh, how I hate to get up in the morning;
      Oh, how I'd like to remain in bed.
  But the saddest blow of all is to hear the bugler call,
      'You've got to get up, you've got to get up,
  You've got to get up this morning!'

  "Some day I'm going to murder that bugler;
      Some day they're going to find him dead.
  I'll amputate his reveille,
  And stamp upon it heavily,
      And spend the rest of my life in bed!"

We didn't kill old Crouch--I don't know why, except that he was
protected by a special providence, which sometimes permits such evil
deeds to go unpunished. We used to hope that he would blow his own
brains out, through his bugle, but he didn't--he lived many years after
the war.

=Camp Recreations=

In between our stated duties, we had some time in which we could amuse
ourselves as we chose, and we had many means of entertainment. We had a
chessboard and men--a set of quoits, dominoes, and cards; and there was
the highly intellectual game of "push pin" open to all comers. Some very
skillful chess players were discovered in the company. When the weather
served, we had games of ball, and other athletic games, such as foot
races, jumping, boxing, wrestling, lifting heavy weights, etc. At night
we would gather in congenial groups around the camp fires and talk and
smoke and "swap lies," as the boys expressed it.

There was one thing from which we got a great deal of fun. We got up an
organization amongst the youngsters which was called the "Independent
Battalion of Fusiliers." The basal principle of this kind of heroes was,
"In an advance, always in the rear--in a retreat, always in front. Never
do anything that you can help. The chief aim of life is to rest. If you
should get to a gate, don't go to the exertion of opening it. Sit down
and wait until somebody comes along and opens it for you."

After the first organizers, no one applied for admission into the
Battalion--they were elected into it, without their consent. The way we
kept the ranks full was this: Whenever any man in the Battery did any
specially trifling, and good-for-nothing thing, or was guilty of any
particularly asinine conduct, or did any fool trick, or expressed any
idiotic opinion, he was marked out as a desirable recruit for the
Fusiliers. We elected him, went and got him and made him march with us
in parade of the Battalion, and solemnly invested him with the honor.
This was not always a peaceable performance. Sometimes the candidate,
not appreciating his privilege, had to be held by force, and was
struggling violently, and saying many bad words, during the address of
welcome by the C. O.

I grieve to say that an election into this notable corps was treated as
an insult, and responded to by hot and unbecoming language. One fellow,
when informed of his election, flew into a rage, and said bad words, and
offered to lick the whole Battalion. But what would they have? We were
obliged to fill up the ranks.

After a while it did come to be better understood, and was treated as a
joke, and some of the more sober men entered into the fun, and would go
out on parade, and take part in the ceremony. We paraded with a band
composed of men beating tin buckets, frying pans, and canteens, with
sticks, and whistling military music. It made a noisy and impressive
procession. It attracted much attention and furnished much amusement to
the camp.

=A Special Entertainment=

On proper occasions, promotions to higher rank were made for
distinguished merit in our line. An instance will illustrate. One night,
late, I was passing along when I saw this sight. The sentinel on guard
in camp was lying down on a pile of bags of corn at the forage
pile--sound asleep. He was lying on his left side. One of the long tails
of his coat was hanging loose from his body and dangling down alongside
the pile of bags. A half-grown cow had noiselessly sneaked up to the
forage pile, and been attracted by that piece of cloth hanging
loose--and, as calves will do, took the end of it into her mouth and
was chewing it with great satisfaction. I called several of the fellows,
and we watched the proceedings. The calf got more and more of the coat
tail into her mouth. At length, with her mouth full of the cloth, and
perhaps with the purpose of swallowing what she had been chewing she
gave a hard jerk. The cloth was old, the seams rotten--that jerk pulled
the whole of that tail loose from the body of the coat. The sleeping
guard never moved. We rescued the cloth from the calf, and hid it. When
the sleeper awoke, to his surprise, one whole tail of his coat was gone,
and he was left with only one of the long tails. Our watching group,
highly delighted at the show of a sentinel sleeping, while a calf was
browsing on him, told him what had happened and that the calf had
carried off the other coat tail. He was inconsolable. He was the only
private in the company who had a long-tailed coat and it was the pride
of his heart. There was no way of repairing the loss, and he had to go
around for days, sad and dejected, shorn of his glory--with only one
tail to his coat.

All this was represented to the "Battalion of Fusiliers." Charges were
preferred, and the Court Martial set. The witnesses testified to the
facts--also said that if we had not driven off the calf it would have
gone on, after getting the coat tail, and chewed up the sentinel, too.
The findings of the Court Martial were nicely adjusted to the merits of
the case. It was, that the witnesses were sentenced to punishment for
driving off the calf, and not letting her eat up the sentinel.

For the sentinel, who appeared before the Court with the one tail to his
coat, it was decreed that his conduct was the very limit. No one could
ever hope to find a more thorough Fusilier than the man who went to
sleep on guard and let a calf eat his clothes off. Such conduct deserved
most distinguished regard, as an encouragement to the Fusiliers. He was
promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General of the Battalion, the highest
rank in our corps. After a while the lost coat tail was produced, and
sewed on again.

=Confederate Soldier Rations=

The one thing that we suffered most from, the hardship hardest to bear,
was hunger. The scantiness of the rations was something fierce. We never
got a square meal that winter. We were always hungry. Even when we were
getting full rations the issue was one-quarter pound of bacon, or
one-half pound of beef, and little over a pint of flour or cornmeal,
ground with the cob on it, we used to think--no stated ration of
vegetables or sugar and coffee--just bread and meat. Some days we had
the bread, but no meat; some days the meat, but no bread. Two days we
had nothing, neither bread nor meat--and it was a solemn and empty
crowd. Now and then, at long intervals, they gave us some dried peas.
Occasionally, a little sugar--about an ounce to a man for a three days'
ration. The Orderly of the mess would spread the whole amount on the
back of a tin plate, and mark off thirteen portions, and put each man's
share into his hand--three days' rations, this was. One time, in a burst
of generosity, the Commissary Department stunned us by issuing coffee.
We made "coffee" out of most anything--parched corn, wheat or rye--when
we could get it. Anything for a hot drink at breakfast! But this was
_coffee_--"sure enough" coffee--we called it. They issued this three
times. The first time, when counted out to the consumer, by the Orderly,
each man had 27 grains. He made a cup--drank it. The next time the issue
was 16 grains to the man--again he made a cup and drank it. The third
issue gave nine grains to the man. Each of these issues was for three
days' rations. By now it had got down to being a joke, so we agreed to
put the whole amount together, and draw for which one of the mess should
have it all--with the condition, that the winner should make a pot of
coffee, and drink it, and let the rest of us see him do it. This was
done. Ben Lambert won--made the pot of coffee--sat on the ground, with
us twelve, like a coroner's jury, sitting around watching him, and drank
every drop. How he could do it, under the gaze of twelve hungry men, who
had no coffee, it is hard to see, but Ben was capable of very difficult
feats. He drank that pot of coffee--all the same!

After this, there was no more issue of coffee. Even a Commissary began
to be dimly conscious that nine grains given a man for a three days'
rations was like joking with a serious subject, so they quit it, and
during that winter we had mostly just bread and meat--very little of
that, and that little not to be counted on.

This hunger was much the hardest trial we had to bear. We didn't much
mind getting wet and cold; working hard, standing guard at night; and
fighting when required--we were seasoned to all that--but you don't
season to hunger. Going along all day with a gnawing at your insides, of
which you were always conscious, was not pleasant. We had more appetite
than anything else, and never got enough to satisfy it--even for a time.

Under this very strict regime, eating was like to become a lost art and
our digestive organs had very little to do. We had very little use for
them, in these days. A story went around the camp to this effect: One of
the men got sick--said he had a pain in his stomach and sent for the
surgeon. The doctor, trying to find the trouble, felt the patient's
abdomen, and punched it, here and there. After a while he felt a hard
lump, which ought not to be there. The doctor wondered what it could
be--then feeling about, he found another hard lump, and then another,
and another. Then the doctor was perfectly mystified by all those hard
places in a man's insides. At last, the explanation came to him: he was
feeling the vertebræ of the fellow's back-bone--right through his

I do not vouch for the exact accuracy of all the details of the story,
but it illustrates the situation. We all felt that our stomachs had
dwindled away for want of use and exercise.

=A Fresh Egg=

Another incident, that I can vouch for, showing the strenuous time the
whole army had about food that winter: One day Major-Quartermaster John
Ludlow, of Norfolk, met a Captain of Artillery from his own town of
Norfolk--Capt. Charles Grandy, of the Norfolk Light Artillery Blues. The
Major invited the Captain to dine with him on a certain day. He did not
expect anything very much, but there was a seductive sound in the word
"dining" and he accepted. Grandy told the story of his experience on
that festive occasion. He walked two miles to Major Ludlow's quarters,
and was met with friendly cordiality by his old fellow-townsman, and
ushered into his hut where a bright fire was burning. After a time spent
in conversation, the Major began to prepare for dinner. He reached up on
a shelf, and took down a cake of bread, cut it into two pieces, and put
them in a frying pan on the fire to heat. Then he reached up on the
shelf and got down a piece of bacon--not very large--cut it into two
pieces, and put them in another pan on the fire to fry. Down in the
ashes by the fire was a tin cup covered over--its contents not visible.
The dining table was an old door, taken from some barn and set up on

When the bread and meat were ready, the Major put it on the table and
with a courtly wave of his hand said, "D-d-draw up, Charley." They
seated themselves. The Major gave a piece of bread and a piece of bacon
to his guest, and took the other piece, of each, for himself. After he
had eaten a while--the Major got up, went to the fireplace and took up
the tin cup. He poured off the water, and, behold, one egg came to view.
This egg, the Major put on a plate and, coming to the table, handed it
to Grandy--"Ch-Ch-Charley, take an egg," as if there were a dish full.
Charley, having been brought up to think it not good manners to take the
last thing on the dish, declined to take the only egg in sight--said he
didn't care specially for eggs! though he said he would have given a
heap for that egg, as he hadn't tasted one since he had been in the
army. "But," urged the Major, "Ch-Ch-Charley, I insist that you take an
egg. You must take one--there is going to be plenty--do take it." Under
this encouragement, Grandy took the egg--while he was greatly enjoying
it, suddenly there was a flutter in the corner of the hut. An old hen
flew up from behind a box in the corner, lit on the side of the box and
began to cackle loudly. The Major turned to Grandy and said, "I-I
t-t-told you there was going to be a plenty. I invited you to dinner
today because this was the day for the hen to lay." He went over and got
the fresh egg from behind the box, cooked and ate it. So each of the
diners had an egg. The incident was suggestive of the situation. Here
was a Quartermaster appointing a day for dining a friend--depending for
part of the feast on his confidence that his hen would come to time. The
picture of that formal dinner in the winter quarters on the Rapidan is
worth drawing. It was a fair sign of the times, and of life in the Army
of Northern Virginia; when it came to a Quartermaster giving to an
honored, and specially invited guest, a dinner like that--it indicates a
general scarceness.

=When Fiction Became Fact=

One bright spot in that "winter of our discontent"--lives in my memory.
It was on the Christmas Day of 1863. That was a day specially hard to
get through. The rations were very short indeed that day--only a little
bread, no meat. As we went, so hungry, about our work, and remembered
the good and abundant cheer always belonging to Christmas time; as we
thought of "joys we had tasted in past years" that did _not_ "return" to
us, now, and felt the woeful difference in our insides--it made us sad.
It was harder to starve on Christmas Day than any day of the winter.

When the long day was over and night had come, some twelve or fifteen of
us, congenial comrades, had gathered in a group, and were sitting out of
doors around a big camp fire, talking about Christmas, and trying to
keep warm and cheer ourselves up.

One fellow proposed what he called a _game_, and it was at once taken
up--though it was a silly thing to do, as it only made us hungrier than
ever. The game was this--we were to work our fancy, and imagine that we
were around the table at "Pizzini's," in Richmond. Pizzini was the
famous restauranteur who was able to keep up a wonderful eating house
all through the war, even when the rest of Richmond was nearly starving.
Well--in reality, now, we were all seated on the ground around that
fire, and very hungry. In imagination we were all gathered 'round
Pizzini's with unlimited credit and free to call for just what we
wished. One fellow tied a towel on him, and acted as the waiter--with
pencil and paper in hand going from guest to guest taking orders--all
with the utmost gravity. "Well, sir, what will you have?" he said to the
first man. He thought for a moment and then said (I recall that first
order, it was monumental) "I will have, let me see--a four-pound steak,
a turkey, a jowl and turnip tops, a peck of potatoes, six dozen
biscuits, plenty of butter, a large pot of coffee, a gallon of milk and
six pies--three lemon and three mince--and hurry up, waiter--that will
do for a start; see 'bout the rest later."

This was an order for one, mind you. The next several were like unto it.
Then, one guest said, "I will take a large saddle of mountain mutton,
with a gallon of crabapple jelly to eat with it, and as much as you can
tote of other things."

This, specially the crabapple jelly, quite struck the next man. He said,
"I will take just the same as this gentleman." So the next, and the
next. All the rest of the guests took the mountain mutton and jelly.

All this absurd performance was gone through with all
seriousness--making us wild with suggestions of good things to eat and
plenty of it.

The waiter took all the orders and carefully wrote them down, and read
them out to the guest to be sure he had them right.

Just as we were nearly through with this Barmecide feast, one of the
boys, coming past us from the Commissary tent, called out to me, "Billy,
old Tuck is just in (Tucker drove the Commissary wagon and went up to
Orange for rations) and I think there is a box, or something, for you
down at the tent."

I got one of our crowd to go with me on the jump. Sure enough, there was
a great big box for me--from home. We got it on our shoulders and
trotted back up to the fire. The fellows gathered around, the top was
off that box in a jiffy, and there, right on top, the first thing we
came to--funny to tell, after what had just occurred--was the biggest
saddle of mountain mutton, and a two-gallon jar of crabapple jelly to
eat with it. The box was packed with all good, solid things to
eat--about a bushel of biscuits and butter and sausage and pies, etc.,

We all pitched in with a whoop. In ten minutes after the top was off,
there was not a thing left in that box except one skin of sausage which
I saved for our mess next morning. You can imagine how the boys did
enjoy it. It was a bully way to end up that hungry Christmas Day.

I wrote my thanks and the thanks of all the boys to my mother and
sisters, who had packed that box, and I described the scene as I have
here described it, which made them realize how welcome and acceptable
their kind present was--and what comfort and pleasure it gave--all the
more that it came to us on Christmas Day, and made it a joyful one--at
the end, at least.

In regard to all this low diet from which we suffered so much hunger
that winter--it is well worthy of remark that the health of the army was
never better. At one time that winter there were only 300 men in
hospital from the whole Army of Northern Virginia--which seems to
suggest that humans don't need as much to eat as they think they do.
That army was very hungry, but it was very healthy! It looks like cause
and effect! But it was a very painful way of keeping healthy. I fear we
would not have taken that tonic, if we could have helped it, but we
couldn't! Maybe it was best as it was. Let us hope so!

Well, the winter wore on in this regular way until the 3d or 4th of
February, when our quiet was suddenly disturbed in a most unexpected
manner. Right in the dead of a stormy winter, when nobody looked for any
military move--we had a fight. The enemy got "funny" and we had to bring
him to a more serious state of mind, and teach him how wrong it was to
disturb the repose of gentlemen when they were not looking for it, and
not doing anything to anybody--just trying to be happy, and peaceable if
they could get a chance.

=Confederate Fashion Plates=

Leading up to an account of this, I may mention some circumstances in
the way of the boys in the camp. Living the hard life, we were--one
would suppose that fashion was not in all our thoughts; but even then,
we felt the call of fashion and followed it in such lines, as were open
to us. The instinct to "do as the other fellow does" is implanted in
humans by nature; this blind impulse explains many things that otherwise
were inexplicable. With the ladies it makes many of them wear hats and
dresses that make them look like hoboes and guys, and shoes that make
them walk about as gracefully as a cow in a blanket, instead of looking,
and moving like the young, graceful gazelles--that nature meant, and men
want them to look like. Taste and grace and modesty go for nothing--when
fashion calls.

Well, the blind impulse that affects the ladies so--moved us in regard
to the patches put on the seats of our pants. This was the only
particular in which we could depart from the monotony of our quiet,
simple, gray uniform--which consisted of a jacket, and pants and did not
lend itself to much variety; but fashion found a way.

There must always be a leader of fashion. We had one--"The glass of
fashion and the mould of form" in our gang was Ben Lambert. He could
look like a tombstone, but was full of fun, and inventive genius.

Our uniform was a short jacket coming down only to the waist, hence a
hole in the seat of the pants was conspicuous, and was regarded as not
suited to the dignity and soldierly appearance of a Howitzer. For one to
go around with such a hole showing--any longer than he could help
it--was considered a want of respect to his comrades. Public opinion
demanded that these holes be stopped up as soon as possible. Sitting
about on rough surfaces--as stumps, logs, rocks, and the ground--made
many breaks in the integrity of pants, and caused need of frequent
repairs, for ours was not as those of the ancient Hebrews to whom Moses
said, "Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee"--ours waxed very old, before
we could get another pair, and were easily rubbed through. The more
sedate men were content with a plain, unpretentious patch, but this did
not satisfy the youngsters, whose æsthetic souls yearned for "they know
not what," until Ben Lambert showed them. One morning he appeared at
roll call with a large patch in the shape of a heart transfixed with an
arrow, done out of red flannel. This at once won the admiration and envy
of the soldiers. They now saw what they wished, in the way of a patch,
and proceeded to get it. Each one set his ingenuity to work to devise
something unique. Soon the results began to appear. Upon the seats of
one, and another, and another, were displayed figures of birds, beasts
and men--a spread eagle, a cow, a horse, a cannon. One artist depicted a
"Cupid" with his bow, and just across on the other hip a heart pierced
with an arrow from Cupid's bow--all wrought out of red flannel and sewed
on as patches to cover the holes in the pants, and, at the same time,
present a pleasing appearance. By and by these devices increased in
number, and when the company was fallen in for roll call the line, seen
from the rear, presented a very gay and festive effect.

One morning, a General, who happened in camp--the gallant soldier, and
merry Irishman, General Pat Finnegan, was standing, with our Captain, in
front of the line, hearing the roll call.

That done, the Orderly Sergeant gave the order, "'Bout face!" The rear
of the line was thus turned toward General Finnegan. When that art
gallery--in red flannel--was suddenly displayed to his delighted eyes
the General nearly laughed himself into a fit.

"Oh, boys," he cried out, "don't ever turn your backs upon the enemy.
Sure they'll git ye--red makes a divil of a good target. But I wouldn't
have missed this for the world."

The effect, as seen from the rear, was impressive. It could have been
seen a mile off--bright red patches on dull gray cloth. Anyhow it was
better than the holes and it made a ruddy glow in camp. Also it gave the
men much to amuse them.

Ben set the fashion in one other particular--viz., in hair cuts. He
would come to roll call with his hair cut in some peculiar way, and
stand in rank perfectly solemn. Ranks broken, the boys would gather
eagerly about him, and he would announce the name of that "cut." They
would, as soon as they could, get their hair cut in the same style.

One morning, he stood in rank with every particle of his hair cut off,
as if shaved, and his head as bare as a door knob. "What style is that,
Ben?" the boys asked. "The 'horse thief' cut," he gravely announced.
Their one ambition now, was to acquire the "horse-thief cut."

There was only one man in the Battery who could cut hair--Sergeant Van
McCreery--and he had the only pair of scissors that could cut hair. So
every aspirant to this fashionable cut tried to make interest with Van
to fix him up; and Van, who was very good natured, would, as he had time
and opportunity, accommodate the applicant, and trim him close. Several
of us had gone under the transforming hands of this tonsorial artist,
when Bob McIntosh got his turn. Bob was a handsome boy with a luxuriant
growth of hair. He had raven black, kinky hair that stuck up from his
head in a bushy mass, and he hadn't had his hair cut for a good while,
and it was very long and seemed longer than it was because it stuck out
so from his head. Now, it was all to go, and a crowd of the boys
gathered 'round to see the fun. The modus operandi was simple, but
sufficient. The candidate sat on a stump with a towel tied 'round his
neck, and he held up the corners making a receptacle to catch the hair
as it was cut. Why this--I don't know; force of habit I reckon. When we
were boys and our mothers cut our hair, we had to hold up a towel so. We
were told it was to keep the hair from getting on the floor and to stuff
pincushions with. Here was the whole County of Orange to throw the hair
on, and we were not making any pincushions--still Bob had to hold the
towel that way. Van stood behind Bob and began over his right ear. He
took the hair off clean, as he went, working from right to left over his
head; the crowd around--jeering the victim and making comments on his
ever-changing appearance as the scissors progressed, making a clean
sweep at every cut. We were thus making much noise with our fun at Bob's
expense, until the shears had moved up to the top of his head, leaving
the whole right half of the head as clean of hair as the palm of your
hand, while the other half was still covered with this long, kinky, jet
black hair, which in the absence of the departed locks looked twice as
long as before--and Bob did present a spectacle that would make a dog
laugh. It was just as funny as it could be.

=A Surprise Attack=

Just at that moment, in the midst of all this hilarity, suddenly we
heard a man yell out something as he came running down the hill from the
guns. We could not hear what he said. The next moment, he burst
excitedly into our midst, and shouted out, "For God's sake, men, get
your guns. The Yankees are across the river and making for the guns.
They will capture them before you get there, if you don't hurry up."

This was a bolt out of a clear sky--but we jumped to the call. Everybody
instantly forgot everything else and raced for the guns. I saw McCreery
running with the scissors in his hand; he forgot that he had them--but
it was funny to see a soldier going to war with a pair of scissors! I
found myself running beside Bob McIntosh, with his hat off, his head
half shaved and that towel, still tied round his neck, streaming out
behind him in the wind.

Just before we got to the guns, Bob suddenly halted and said, "Good
Heavens, Billy, it has just come to me what a devil of a fix I am in
with my head in this condition. I tell you now that if the Yankees get
too close to the guns, I am going to run. If they got me, or found me
dead, they would say that General Lee was bringing up the convicts from
the Penitentiary in Richmond to fight them. I wouldn't be caught dead
with my head looking like this."

We got to the guns on the hill top and looked to the front. Things were
not as bad as that excited messenger had said, but they were bad enough.
One brigade of the enemy was across the river and moving on us; another
brigade was fording the river; and we could see another brigade moving
down to the river bank on the other side. Things were serious, because
the situation was this: an Infantry Brigade from Ewell's Corps, lying in
winter quarters in the country behind us, was kept posted at the front,
whose duty it was to picket the river bank. It was relieved at regular
times by another Brigade which took over that duty.

It so chanced that this was the morning for that relieving Brigade to
come. Expecting them to arrive any minute, the Brigade on duty, by way
of saving time, gathered in its pickets and moved off back toward camp.
The other Brigade had not come up--careless work, perhaps, but here in
the dead of winter nobody dreamed of the enemy starting anything.

So it was, that, with one brigade gone; the other not up; the pickets
withdrawn, at this moment there was nobody whatsoever on the front
except our Battery--and, here was the enemy across the river, moving on
us and no supports.

In the meantime, the enemy guns across the river opened on us and the
shells were flying about us in lively fashion. It was rather a sudden
transition from peace to war, but we had been at this business before;
the sound of the shells was not unfamiliar--so we were not unduly
disturbed. We quickly got the guns loaded, and opened on that Infantry,
advancing up the hill. We worked rapidly, for the case was urgent, and
we made it as lively for those fellows as we possibly could. In a few
minutes a pretty neat little battle was making the welkin ring. The
sound of our guns crashing over the country behind us made our people,
in the camp back there, sit up and take notice. In a few minutes we
heard the sound of a horse's feet running at full speed, and Gen. Dick
Ewell, commanding the Second Corps, came dashing up much excited. As he
drew near the guns he yelled out, "What on earth is the matter here?"
When he got far enough up the hill to look over the crest, he saw the
enemy advancing from the river, "Aha, I see," he exclaimed. Then he
galloped up to us and shouted, "Boys, keep them back ten minutes and
I'll have men enough here to eat them up--without salt!" So saying, he
whirled his horse, and tore off back down the road.

In a few minutes we heard the tap of a drum and the relieving Brigade,
which had been delayed, came up at a rapid double quick, and deployed to
the right of our guns; they had heard the sound of our firing and struck
a trot. A few minutes more, and the Brigade that had left, that morning,
came rushing up and deployed to our left. They had heard our guns and
halted and came back to see what was up.

With a whoop and a yell, those two Brigades went at the enemy who had
been halted by our fire. In a short time said enemy changed their minds
about wanting to stay on our side, and went back over the river a good
deal faster than they came. They left some prisoners and about 300 dead
and wounded--for us to remember them by.

The battle ceased, the picket line was restored along the river bank,
and all was quiet again. Bob McIntosh was more put out by all this
business than anybody else--it had interrupted his hair cut. When we
first got the guns into action, everybody was too busy to notice Bob's
head. After we got settled down to work, I caught sight of that
half-shaved head and it was the funniest object you ever saw. Bob was
No. 1 at his gun, which was next to mine, and had to swab and ram the
gun. This necessitated his constantly turning from side to side,
displaying first this, and then the other side of his head. One side was
perfectly white and bare; the other side covered by a mop of kinky, jet
black hair; but when you caught sight of his front elevation, the effect
was indescribable. While Bob was unconsciously making this absurd
exhibition, it was too much to stand, even in a fight. I said to the
boys around my gun, "Look at Bob." They looked and they could hardly
work the gun for laughing.

Of course, when the fight was over McCreery lost that pair of scissors,
or _said_ he did. There was not another pair in camp, so Bob had to go
about with his head in that condition for about a week--and he wearied
of life. One day in his desperation, he said he wanted to get some of
that hair off his head so much that he would resort to any means. He had
tried to cut some off with his knife. One of the boys, Hunter Dupuy, was
standing by chopping on the level top of a stump with a hatchet. Hunter
said, "All right, Bob, put your head on this stump and I'll chop off
some of your hair." The blade was dull, and it only forced a quantity of
the hair down into the wood, where it stuck, and held Bob's hair fast to
the stump, besides pulling out a lot by the roots, and hurting Bob very
much. He tried to pull loose and couldn't. Then he began to call Hunter
all the names he could think of, and threatened what he was going to do
to him when he got loose. Hunter, much hurt by such ungracious return
for what he had done at Bob's request, said, "Why, Bob, you couldn't
expect me to cut your hair with a hatchet without hurting some"--which
seemed reasonable. We made Bob promise to keep the peace, on pain of
leaving him tied to the stump--then we cut him loose with our knives.

After some days, when we had had our fun, Van found the scissors and
trimmed off the other side of his head to match--Bob was happy.

=Wedding Bells and a Visit Home=

A few days after this I had the very great pleasure of a little visit to
my home. My sister, to whom I was devotedly attached, was to be married.
The marriage was to take place on a certain Monday. I had applied for a
short leave of absence and thought, if granted, to have it come to me
some days before the date of the wedding, so that I could easily get
home in time. But there was some delay, and the official paper did not
get into my hands until fifteen minutes before one o'clock on
Sunday--the day before the wedding. The last train by which I could
possibly reach home in time was to leave Orange Court House for Richmond
at six o'clock that evening, and the Court House was nineteen miles off.
It seemed pretty desperate, but I was bound to make it. I had had a very
slim breakfast that morning; I swapped my share of dinner that evening
with a fellow for two crackers, which he happened to have, and lit out
for the train.

A word about that trip, as a mark of the times, may be worth while. I
got the furlough at 12.45. I was on the road at one, and I made that
nineteen miles in five hours--some fast travel, that! I got to the depot
about two minutes after six; the train actually started when I was still
ten steps off. I jumped like a kangaroo, but the end of the train had
just passed me when I reached the track. I had to chase the train twenty
steps alongside the track, and at last, getting up with the back
platform of the rear car, I made a big jump, and managed to land. It was
a close shave, but with that nineteen-mile walk behind, and that wedding
in front, I would have caught that train if I had to chase it to
Gordonsville--"What do you take me for that I should let a little thing
like that make me miss the party?"

Well, anyhow, I got on. The cars were crowded--not a vacant seat on the
train. We left Orange Court House at six o'clock P. M.--we reached
Richmond at seven o'clock the next morning--traveled all
night--thirteen hours for the trip, which now takes two and a half
hours--and all that long night, there was not a seat for me to sit
on--except the floor, and that was unsitable. When I got too tired to
stand up any longer, I would climb up and sit on the flat top of the
water cooler, which was up so near the sloping top of the car that I
could not sit up straight. My back would soon get so cramped that I
could not bear it any longer--then I crawled down and stood on the floor
again. So I changed from the floor to the water cooler and back again,
for change of position, all through the night in that hot, crowded car,
and I was very tired when we got to Richmond.

We arrived at seven o'clock and the train--Richmond and Danville
Railroad--was to start for Danville at eight. I got out and walked about
to limber up a little for the rest of the trip. I had a discussion with
myself which I found it rather hard to decide. I had only half a dollar
in my pocket. The furlough furnished the transportation on the train,
and the question was this--with this I could get a little something to
eat, or I could get a clean shave. On the one hand I was very hungry. I
had not eaten anything since early morning of the day before, and since
then had walked nineteen miles and spent that weary night on the train
without a wink of sleep. Moreover, there was no chance of anything to
eat until we got to Danville that night--another day of fasting--strong
reasons for spending that half dollar in _food_. On the other hand, I
was going to a wedding party where I would meet a lot of girls, and
above all, was to "wait" with the prettiest girl in the State of
Virginia. In those days, the wedding customs were somewhat different
from those now in vogue. Instead of a "best man" to act as "bottle
holder" to the groom, and a "best girl" to stand by the bride and pull
off her glove, and fix her veil, and see that her train hangs right,
when she starts back down the aisle with her victim--the custom was to
have a number of couples of "waiters" chosen by the bride and groom from
among their special friends, who would march up in procession, ahead of
the bride and groom, who followed them arm in arm to the chancel.

The "first waiters" did the office of "best" man and girl, as it is now.
I have been at a wedding where fourteen couples of waiters marched in
the procession.

Well, I was going into such company, and had to escort up the aisle that
beautiful cousin, that I was telling you about--naturally I wanted to
look my best, and the more I thought about that girl, the more I wanted
to, so I at last decided to spend that only fifty cents for a clean
shave--and got it. My heart and my conscience approved of this decision,
but I suffered many pangs in other quarters, owing to that long fasting
day. However, virtue is its own reward, and that night when I got home,
and that lovely cousin was the first who came out of the door to greet
me, dressed in a--well, white swiss muslin--I reckon--and looking like
an angel, I felt glad that I had a clean face.

And after the rough life of camp, what a delicious pleasure it was to be
with the people I loved best on earth, and to see the fresh faces of my
girl friends, and the kind faces of our old friends and neighbors! I
cannot express how delightful it was to be at home--the joy of it sank
into my soul. Also, I might say, that at the wedding supper, I made a
brilliant reputation as an expert with a knife and fork, that lived in
the memory of my friends for a long time. My courage and endurance in
that cuisine commanded the wonder, and admiration, of the spectators. It
was good to have enough to eat once more. I had almost forgotten how it
felt--not to be hungry; and it was the more pleasant to note how much
pleasure it gave your friends to see you do it, and not have a lot of
hungry fellows sitting around with a wistful look in their eyes.

Well, I spent a few happy days with the dear home folks in the dear old
home. This was the home where I had lived all my life, in the sweetest
home life a boy ever had. Everything, and every person in and around it,
was associated with all the memories of a happy childhood and youth. It
was a home to love; a home to defend; a home to die for--the dearest
spot on earth to me. It was an inexpressible delight to be under its
roof--once more. I enjoyed it with all my heart for those _few short
days_--then, with what cheerfulness I could--hied me back to camp--to
rejoin my comrades, who were fighting to protect homes that were as dear
to them as this was to me.

I made another long drawn-out railroad trip, winding up with that same
old nineteen miles from Orange to the camp, and I got there all right,
and found the boys well and jolly, but still hungry. They went wild over
my graphic description of the wedding supper. The picture was very
trying to their feelings, because the original was so far out of reach.

=The Soldiers' Profession of Faith=

In this account of our life in that winter camp, it remains for me to
record the most important occurrence of all. About this time there came
into the life of the men of the Battery an experience more deeply
impressive, and of more vital consequence to them than anything that had
ever happened, or ever could happen in their whole life, as soldiers,
and as men. The outward beginning of it was very quiet, and simple. We
had built a little log church, or meeting house, and the fellows who
chose had gotten into the way of gathering here every afternoon for a
very simple prayer meeting. We had no chaplain and there were only a few
Christians among the men. At these meetings one of the young fellows
would read a passage of Scripture, and offer a prayer, and all joined in
singing a hymn or two. We began to notice an increase of interest, and a
larger attendance of the men. A feature of our meeting was a time given
for talk, when it was understood that if any fellow had anything to say
appropriate to the occasion, he was at liberty to say it. Now and then
one of the boys did have a few simple words to offer his comrades in
connection, perhaps, with the Scripture reading.

One day John Wise, one of the best, and bravest men in the Battery,
loved and respected by everybody, quietly stood up and said, "I think it
honest and right to say to my comrades that I have resolved to be a
Christian. I here declare myself a believer in Christ. I want to be
counted as such, and by the help of God, will try to live as such."

This was entirely unexpected. He sat down amidst intense silence. A
spirit of deep seriousness seemed fallen upon all present. A hymn was
sung, and they quietly dispersed. Some of us shook hands with Wise and
expressed our pleasure at what he had said, and done.

This incident produced a profound impression among the men. It brought
out the feelings about religion that had lain unexpressed in other
minds. The thoughts of many hearts were revealed. The interest spread
rapidly; the fervor of our prayer meetings grew. We had no chaplain to
handle this situation, but men would seek out their comrades who were
Christians, and talk on this great subject with them, and accept such
guidance in truth, and duty as they could give. And now from day to day
at the prayer meetings men would get up in the quiet way John Wise had
done, and in simple words declare themselves Christians in the presence
of their comrades. Most of them were among the manliest and best men of
the company; they were dead in earnest, and their actions commanded the
respect and sympathy of the whole camp.

This movement went quietly on, without any fuss or excitement, until
some sixty-five men, two-thirds of our whole number, had confessed their
faith, and taken their stand, and in conduct and spirit, as well as in
word, were living consistent Christian lives. They carried that faith,
and that life, and character, home when they went back after the
war--and they carried them through their lives. In the various
communities where they lived their lives, and did their work, they were
known as strong, stalwart Christian men, and towers of strength to the
several churches to which they became attached. Of that number twelve or
fourteen men went into the ministry of different churches, and served
faithfully to their life's end.

What I have described as going on in our Battery off there by itself at
Morton's Ford, was going on very widely in the Army at large. There was
a deep spiritual interest and strong revival of religion throughout the
whole Army of Northern Virginia during that winter. Thousands and
thousands of those splendid soldiers of the South, became just as
devoted soldiers, and servants of Jesus Christ, and took their places in
His ranks, and manfully fought under His banner, and were not ashamed
to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and to stand for His cause.

The effect of all this was very far-reaching. What these men carried
back home with them wrought a great change in the South--a change in the
attitude of the men of the South toward Christ's religion. There was a
great change in that attitude, from before the war, and afterward,
produced by the war.

I will try to explain what I mean: Before the war, in the South, as I
knew it--in the country neighborhoods, and in the villages, and small
towns--you would find a group of men, often made up of the most
influential, respected, educated, efficient men of that community, who
were not members of any church or professed Christians. These were men
of honor and integrity, respected by all, valuable citizens. They
respected religion, went to church regularly, as became a gentleman, and
gave their money liberally to support the church as a valuable
institution of society. That was, their attitude toward
religion--respectful tolerance, but no personal interest--no need of it.
Their thought, generally unspoken but sometimes expressed, was that
religion was all right for women, and children, and sick or weak men,
but strong men could take care of themselves and had no need of it. And,
of course, the young men coming on were influenced by their example and
thought it manly to follow their example. The argument was specious.
"There is Mr. Blank; he is an upright, good man, and no man stands
higher in the community; he is just as good a man and citizen as any
member of the church. He gets along all right without religion--I won't
bother about it." So he let it alone and went his way. The very virtues
of that group of men were a baleful influence in that community--led
young men into the dreadful mistake that men do not need religion--that
religion is not a manly thing. A good man who is not a Christian does
ten-fold more harm, in a community, to the cause of Christ, and to the
lives of men than the worst, and lowest man in it; so it was here!

When the call to war came, these very men were the first to go. As a
rule they were the leaders, in thought and action, of their
fellow-citizens, and they were high spirited, intensely patriotic, and
quick to resent the invasion of their rights, and their State. In
whole-hearted devotion to the cause, they went in a spirit that would
make them thorough soldiers.

=The Example of Lee, Jackson and Stuart=

Now when these men got into the army the "esprit de corps" took
possession of them. They got shaken down to _soldier_ thoughts, and
judgments. They began to estimate men by their personal value to the
cause that was their supreme concern. In that army, three men held the
highest place in the heart and mind, of every soldier in it--they were
General Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jeb Stuart--each the highest in his
line. All the army had, for these three men, reverent honor,
enthusiastic admiration, and absolute confidence. We looked up to them
as the highest types of manhood--in noble character, superb genius, and
consummate ability. They were by eminence the heroes--the beloved
leaders of the army. There were many other able, and brilliant leaders,
whom we honored, but these were set apart. In the thoughts, and hearts
of all the army, and the country as well, these three were the noblest
and highest representatives of our cause; and every man did homage to
them, and was proud to do it. But, as was known, with all their high
qualities of genius, and personal character, and superb manhood, each
one of these three men was a devout member of Christ's Church; a sincere
and humble disciple of Jesus Christ; and in his daily life and all his
actions and relations in life, was a consistent Christian man. All his
brilliant service to his country was done as duty to his God, and all
his plans and purposes were "referred to God, and His approval and
blessing invoked upon them, as the only assurance of their success." All
who were personally associated with these men came to know that this was
the spirit of their lives; and many times, in religious services, in
camp, these men, so idolized by the army, and so great in all human eyes
but their own, could be seen bowing humbly down beside the private
soldiers to receive the holy sacrament of the Blessed Body and Blood of

Now, when the men, who had been so indifferent to religion at home, as
so unnecessary for them, came up against this fact, and came to look up
to these three men as their highest ideals of manhood, they got an eye
opener. If men like Lee, and Jackson, and Stuart, and others, felt the
need of religion for themselves, the thought would come, "Maybe I need
it, too. No man can look down on the manhood of these men; if they
esteem religion as the crown of their manhood, it is not a thing to be
despised, or neglected, or treated with indifference. It is a thing to
be sought, and found and taken into my life." And this train of thought
arrested the attention, and got the interest and stirred to truer
thoughts, and finally brought them to Christ. Thousands of these men
were led to become devout Christians, and earnest members of the church
through the influence of the three great Christian leaders, and other
Christian comrades in the army.

Now, when these men got back home after the war and the survivors of
those groups got settled back in their various communities, there was a
great difference in the religious situation, from what it had been
before the war. There had taken place a complete change in these men, in
their attitude toward religion, and this wrought a great change in this
respect in their communities, for the returned soldiers of any community
were given a place of peculiar honor, and influence. They had their
record of splendid, and heroic service behind them and they were held
in affectionate, and tender regard--not only by their own families, and
friends, but by all their neighbors and fellow-citizens. What that group
of soldiers thought, and wanted, _went_ in that town, or countryside.

Now, that group of men who set the pace, and made the atmosphere in that
community were Christians. The serious phase of life; the seasoning of
hardships; the discipline; the oft facing of death; the stern habit of
duty at any cost, which they had passed through during the war had made
them very strong men, and very earnest Christians. What they stood for,
they stood for boldly, and outspokenly on all proper occasions. They
were not one whit ashamed of their religion and were ready at all times,
and about all matters to let the world know just where they stood; to
declare by word, and deed who they were, and whom they served.

All this set up before the eyes of that community a very strong,
forcible, manly type of religion. These were not women, and children,
and they were not sick or weak men--they were the very manliest men in
that town, and so were taken and accepted by general consent.

Just think of the effect of that situation upon the boys and young men
growing up in that community. The veteran soldiers, back from the war,
with all their honors upon them--were heroes to the young fellows. What
the soldiers said, and did, were patterns for them to imitate; and the
pattern of Christian life, set up before the youngsters, made religion,
and church membership most honorable in their eyes. They did not now, as
aforetime, have to overcome the obstacle in a young man's mind which lay
in the association of weakness with religion, and which had largely been
suggested to them by the older men, in the former times.

The old Christian soldiers, whom they now saw, set up in them the idea
that religion was the manliest thing in the world, and so inclined them
toward it, and assured the most serious, and respectful consideration of
it. Religion could not be put aside lightly, or treated with contempt as
unmanly, for those veteran heroes were living it and stood for it, and
they were, in their eyes, the manliest men they knew.

Now, this leaven of truer thought about religion was leading society all
through the South; the Southern men and boys everywhere were feeling its
influence, and it was having most remarkable effects. The increase in
the number of men, who after the war were brought into the church by the
direct influence of the returned soldiers, "who had found their souls"
through the experiences of their army life, was tremendous. Those
soldiers did a bigger service to the men of their race by bringing back
religion to them than they did in fighting for them during the war.

Just after the war, in the far harder trials and soul agony of the
Reconstruction days, I think that the wonderful patience, and courage
which resisted humiliation, and won back the control of their States,
and rebuilt their shattered fortunes and pulled their country
triumphantly up out of indescribable disaster, can only be thus really
explained--that those men were "strong and of a good courage" because
"their minds were staked on God."

The history of the Southern people during that epoch is unmatched by the
history of any people in all time. The result they achieved, this was
the reason--beneath the superb "grit" of the Southern people lay deep
the conviction "God is our refuge and strength" and "The God whom we
serve. He will deliver us." It was the spiritual vision of the men of
the South that saved it when it was ready to perish--and let the men of
the South never forget it! Let them give unceasing recognition and
thanks to God, for that great deliverance.

If I have made clear my thought--the connection of the religious revival
in the army with the fortunes of our people at home after the war--I am
glad! If I haven't, I am sorry! I can't say any fairer than that, and I
can only make the plea that was stuck up in a church in the West, in the
old rough days, when a dissatisfied auditor of the sermon, or the
organist, was likely to express his disapproval with a gun. The notice
up in front of the choir read like this: "Please don't shoot the
musician, he's doing his level best"--I make the same request.

But, to return to our muttons! Let us get back to the winter camp at
Morton's Ford.

=Spring Sprouts and a "Tar Heel" Story=

The winter had now worn away and the spring had come. Vegetation began
to show signs of life. Its coming bore us one comfort in one way--among
others. It was not so cold, and we did not have to tote so many logs of
wood to keep up our fires. Down on the river flats, where vegetation
showed sooner than it did on the hills, green things began to shoot up.
Dandelions, sheep sorrel, poke leaves and such, though not used in civil
life, were welcome to us, for they were much better than no salad at
all. The men craved something green. The unbroken diet of just bread and
meat--generally salt meat at that--gave some of the men scurvy. The only
remedy for that was something acid, or vegetable food. The men needed
this and craved it--so when the green shoots of any kind appeared we
would go down on the flats, and gather up all the green stuff we could
find, and boil it with the little piece of bacon we might have. It
improved the health of the men very much.

At this time, there was a North Carolina Brigade of Infantry at the
front furnishing pickets for the river bank. They were camped just back
of our winter quarters. Those fellows seemed to be very specially strong
in their yearning for vegetable diet, so much so that they attracted
our attention. Every day we would see long lines of those men passing
through our camp. They would walk along, one behind another, in almost
unending procession, silent and lonesome, never saying a word and never
two walking together--and all of them meandered along intent on one
thing--getting down to the flats below "to get some sprouts" as they
would say when asked where they were going.

Later on, we would see them in the same solemn procession coming back to
camp--every man with a bunch of something green in his fist.

This daily spectacle of Tar Heels swarming through our camp interested
us; we watched them mooning along. We tried to talk with them, but all
we got from them was, "We'uns is going to git some sprouts. Don't
you'uns love sprouts?"

We did, but we didn't go after them in such a solemn manner. Our
"sprout" hunts were not so funereal a function; rather more jovial, and
much more sociable. Also this devotion to the search for the herb of the
field excited our curiosity. They were all the time craving green stuff,
and going after it so constantly. We had a story going around which was
supposed to explain the craving of a Tar Heel's insides for greens.

This was the story:

One of these men got into the hospital. He had something the matter with
his liver. The doctor tried his best to find out what was the matter,
and tried all sorts of remedies--no results. At last, in desperation,
the doctor decided to try heroic treatment. He cut the fellow open, took
out his liver, fixed it up all right (whatever that consisted in),
washed it off and hung it on a bush to dry, preparatory to putting it
back in place. A dog stole the liver, and carried it off. Here was a bad
state of things--the soldier's liver gone, the doctor was responsible.
The doctor was up against it. He thought much, and anxiously. At last a
bright idea struck him. He sent off, got a sheep, killed it, took out
its liver, got it ready, and sewed it up in that soldier in place of his
own. The man got well, and about his duties again. One day, soon after,
the doctor met him and said with much friendly interest, "Well, Jim, how
are you?"

"Oh, doctor," he replied in a very cheerful tone, "I'm well and strong

The doctor looked at him, and asked him significantly, "Jim, do you feel
_all right_?"

Falling into that characteristic whine, Jim said, "Yes, sir, I am well
and strong, but, Doctor, all the time, now, I feel the strangest
hankering after grass."

That was the sheep's liver telling. Our theory was that all of those
fellows had sheep's livers, and that accounted for the insatiable
"hankering after grass."

I told this story in an after-dinner speech at a banquet some time ago
to a company of twenty-nine female doctors of medicine--trained, and
practicing physicians. They made no protest; listened with unbroken
gravity; accepted it as a narrative of actual occurrence, and looked at
me with wide-eyed interest. When I finished I thought it best to tell
them that it was all a joke. Then they laughed themselves into a fit.

Well, this little account of our doings, and our life in the winter camp
at Morton's Ford--1863-1864--is done. Out of its duties, and
companionships; its pleasures, and its deeper experiences, we Howitzers
were laying up pleasant memories of the camp for the years to come. And
often in after years, when some of us comrades got together we would
speak of the old camp at Morton's Ford.

The spring was now coming on. We knew that our stay here could not last
much longer. How, and when, and where we should go from here, we did not
know. We knew we would go somewhere--that was all. "We would know when
the time came, and 'Marse Robert' wanted us" he would tell us.

That is the soldier's life--"Go, and he goeth; come, and he cometh; do
this, and he doeth it." No choice. Wait for orders--then, quick! Go to

Well we were perfectly willing to trust "Marse Robert" and perfectly
ready to do just what he said. Meantime we take no anxious thought for
the morrow; we go on with our work, and our play--we are "prepared to
move at a moment's warning."



Nineteen miles from Orange Court House, Virginia, the road running
northeast into Culpeper crosses "Morton's Ford" of the Rapidan River,
which, just now, lay between the Federal "Army of the Potomac" and the
Confederate "Army of Northern Virginia."

As this road approaches within three-fourths of a mile of the river it
rises over a sharp hill, and, thence, winds its way down the hill to the
Ford. On the ridge, just where the road crosses it, the guns of the
"First Richmond Howitzers" were in position, commanding the Ford; and
the Howitzer Camp was to the right of the road, in the pine wood just
back of the ridge. Here, we had been on picket all the winter, helping
the infantry pickets to watch the enemy and guard the Ford.

One bright sunny morning, the 2d of May, 1864, a courier rode into the
Howitzer Camp. We had been expecting him, and knew at once that
"something was up." The soldier instinct and long experience told us
that it was about time for something to turn up. The long winter had
worn away; the sun and winds, of March and April, had made the roads
firm again. Just across the river lay the great army, which was only
waiting for this, to make another desperate push for Richmond, and we
were there for the particular purpose of making that push vain.

For some days we had seen great volumes of smoke rising, in various
directions, across the river, and heard bands playing, and frequent
volleys of firearms, over in the Federal Camp. Everybody knew what all
this meant, so we had been looking for that courier.

Soon after we reached the Captain's tent, orders were given to pack up
whatever we could not carry on the campaign, and in two hours, a wagon
would leave, to take all this stuff to Orange Court House; thence it
would be taken to Richmond and kept for us, until next winter.

This was quickly done! The packing was not done in "Saratoga trunks,"
nor were the things piles of furs and winter luxuries. The "things"
consisted of whatever, above absolute necessaries, had been accumulated
in winter quarters; a fiddle, a chessboard, a set of quoits, an extra
blanket, or shirt, or pair of shoes, that any favored child of Fortune
had been able to get hold of during the winter. Everything like this
must go. It did not take long to roll all the "extras" into bundles,
strap them up and pitch them into the wagon. And in less than two hours
after the order was given the wagon was gone, and the men left in
campaign "trim."

This meant that each man had, left, one blanket, one small haversack,
one change of underclothes, a canteen, cup and plate, of tin, a knife
and fork, and the clothes in which he stood. When ready to march, the
blanket, rolled lengthwise, the ends brought together and strapped, hung
from left shoulder across under right arm, the haversack,--furnished
with towel, soap, comb, knife and fork in various pockets, a change of
underclothes in one main division, and whatever rations we happened to
have, in the other,--hung on the left hip; the canteen, cup and plate,
tied together, hung on the right; toothbrush, "at will," stuck in two
button holes of jacket, or in haversack; tobacco bag hung to a breast
button, pipe in pocket. In this rig,--into which a fellow could get in
just two minutes from a state of rest,--the Confederate Soldier
considered himself all right, and ready for anything; in this he
marched, and in this he fought. Like the terrapin--"all he had he
carried on his back"--this _all_ weighed about seven or eight pounds.

The extra baggage gone, all of us knew that the end of our stay here was
very near, and we were all ready to pick up and go; we were on the eve
of battle and everybody was on the "qui vive" for decisive orders. They
quickly came!

="Marse Robert" Calls to Arms=

On the next day but one, the 4th, about 10 o'clock, another courier
galloped into camp, and, in a few moments, everybody having seen him,
all the men had swarmed up to the Captain's tent to hear the first news.
Captain McCarthy came toward us and said, very quietly, "Boys, get
ready! we leave here in two hours." Then the courier told us that "Grant
was crossing below us in the wilderness. That everything we had was
pushing down to meet him; and that Longstreet, lately back from
Tennessee, was at Gordonsville." The news telling was here interrupted
by Crouch sounding the familiar bugle call--"Boots and saddles," which,
to artillery ears, said, "Harness up, hitch up and prepare to move at a
moment's warning."

The fellows instantly scattered, every man to his quarters, and for a
few minutes nothing could be seen but the getting down and rolling up of
"flys" from over the log pens they had covered, rolling up blankets,
getting together of each man's traps where he could put his hands on
them. The drivers took their teams up on the hill to bring down the guns
from their positions. All was quickly ready, and then we waited for
orders to move.

It was with a feeling of sadness we thought of leaving this spot! It had
been our home for several months; it was painful to see it dismantled,
and to think that the place, every part of which had some pleasant
association with it, would be left silent and lonely, and that we should
see it no more.

While we waited, after each had bidden a sad "good-bye" to his house,
and its endeared surroundings, it was suggested that we gather once
more, for a last meeting in our log church. All felt that this was a
fitting farewell to the place. To many of us this little log church was
a sacred place, many a hearty prayer meeting had been held there; many a
rousing hymn, that almost raised the roof, many a good sermon and many a
stirring talk had we heard; many a manly confession had been declared,
many a hearty, impressive service in the solemn Litany of the Church,
read by us, young Churchmen, in turn. To all the Christians of the
Battery (they now numbered a large majority) this church was sacred. To
some, it was very, very sacred, for in it they had been born again unto
God. Here they had been led to find Christ, and in the assemblies of
their comrades gathered here, they had, one after another, stood up and,
simply, bravely, and clearly, witnessed a "good confession" of their
Lord, and of their faith.

So, we all instantly seized on the motion, to gather in the church. A
hymn was sung, a prayer offered for God's protection in the perils we
well knew, we were about to meet. That He would help us to be brave men,
and faithful unto death, as Southern soldiers; that He would give
victory to our arms, and peace to our Country. A Scripture passage, the
91st Psalm, declaring God's defense of those who trust Him, was read.
And then, our "talk meeting." It was resolved that "during the coming
campaign, every evening, about sunset, whenever it was at all possible,
we would keep up our custom, and such of us as could get together,
_wherever we might be_, should gather for prayer."

And, in passing, I may remark, as a notable fact, that this resolution
was carried out _almost literally_. Sometimes, a few of the fellows
would gather in prayer, while the rest of us fought the guns. Several
times, to my _very lively_ recollection we met _under fire_. Once, I
remember, a shell burst right by us, and covered us with dust; and,
once, I recall with _very particular_ distinctness, a Minie bullet
slapped into a hickory sapling, against which I was sitting, not an inch
above my head. Scripture was being read at the time, and the fellows
were sitting around with their eyes open. I had to _look_ as if I had as
lieve be there, as anywhere else; but I _hadn't_, by a large majority. I
_could_ not dodge, as I was sitting down, but felt like drawing in my
back-bone until it telescoped.

But, however circumstanced, in battle, on the battle line, in interims
of quiet, or otherwise, we held that prayer hour nearly every day, at
sunset, during the entire campaign. And some of us thought, and _think_
that the strange exemption our Battery experienced, our little loss, in
the midst of unnumbered perils, and incessant service, during that awful
campaign, was, that, in answer to our prayers, "the God of battles
covered our heads in the day of battle" and was merciful to us, because
we "called upon Him." If any think this a "fond fancy" _we don't_.

Well! to get back! After another hymn, and a closing prayer, we all
shook hands, and then, we took a regretful leave of our dear little
Church, and wended our way, quiet and thoughtful, to the road where we
found the guns standing, all ready to go. Pretty soon the
command--"Forward!" rang from the head of the line. We fell in alongside
our respective guns, and with a ringing cheer of hearty farewell to the
old Camp, we briskly took the road,--to meet, and to do, what was before

We tramped along cheerily until about dark, when we bivouacked on the
side of the road, with orders to start at daylight next morning. As we
pushed along the road,--what road! gracious only knows, but a country
road bearing south toward Verdiersville,--brigades, and batteries joined
our march, from other country roads, by which we found that all our
people were rapidly pushing in from the camps and positions they had
occupied during the winter, and the army was swiftly concentrating.

It was very pleasant to us to get into the stir of the moving army
again, as we had been off, quite by ourselves, during the winter, and
the greetings and recognitions that flew back and forth as we passed, or
were passed by, well known brigades or batteries, were hearty and
vociferous. Such jokes and "chaffing" as went on! As usual, every
fellow had his remark upon everything and everybody he passed. Any
peculiarity of dress or appearance marked out a certain victim to the
witty gibes of the men, which had to be escaped from, or the victim had
to "grin and bear it." If "Puck" or "Punch" could have marched with a
Confederate column once, they might have laid in a stock of jokes and
witticisms,--and first-class ones, too,--for use the rest of their

Next morning, at daylight,--the 5th of May,--we promptly pulled out, and
soon struck the highway, leading from Orange Court House to
Fredericksburg, turned to the left and went sweeping on toward "The

=The Spirit of the Soldiers of the South=

Here we got into the full tide of movement. Before and behind us the
long gray columns were hurrying on to battle,--and as merry as crickets.

One thing that shone conspicuous here, and always, was the indomitable
_spirit_ of the "Army of Northern Virginia," their intelligence about
military movements; their absolute confidence in General Lee, and their
quiet, matter of course, _certainty of victory_, under him. Here they
were pushing right to certain battle, the dust in clouds, the sun
blazing down, hardly anything to eat, and yet, with their arms and
uniform away, a spectator might have taken them for a lot of "sand-boys
on a picnic," _if_ there had only been some eatables along, to give
color to this delusion.

And their intelligence! These men were not parts of a great machine
moving blindly to their work. Very far from it! Stand on the roadside,
as they marched by and hear their talk, the expression of their opinions
about what was going on, you soon found that these men, privates, as
well as officers, were well aware of what they were doing, and where
they were going. In a general way, they knew what was going on, and what
was _going to go on_, with the strangest accuracy. By some quick, and
wide diffusion of intelligence among the men, they understood affairs,
and the general situation perfectly well. For instance, as we passed on
down that road to the fight, we knew,--just _how_ we didn't know,--but
we _did know_, and it was commonly talked of and discussed, as
ascertained fact, among us as we marched,--that General Grant had about
150,000 men moving on us. We knew that Longstreet was near Gordonsville,
and that one Division of A. P. Hill had not come up. We knew that we
had, along with us there, only Ewell's Corps and two divisions of A. P.
Hill's Corps, the cavalry and some of Longstreet's artillery. In short,
as I well remember, it was a fact, accepted among us, that General Lee
was pushing, as hard as he could go, for Grant's 150,000 with about
35,000 men; and yet, knowing all this, these lunatics were sweeping
along to that appallingly unequal fight, cracking jokes, laughing, and
with not the least idea in the world of anything else but victory. I
did not hear a despondent word, nor see a dejected face among the
thousands I saw and heard that day. I bear witness to this fact, which I
wondered at then, and wonder at now. It is one of the most stirring and
touching of my memories of the war. It was the grandest moral exhibition
I ever saw! For it was simply the absolute confidence in themselves and
in their adored leader. They had seen "Marse Robert" ride down that
road, they knew he was at the front, and that was all they _cared_ to
know. The thing was _bound_ to go right--"Wasn't Lee there?" And the
devil himself couldn't keep them from going where Lee went, or where he
wanted them to go. God bless them, living, or dead, for their loyal
faith, and their heroic devotion!

=Peace Fare and Fighting Rations!=

I have alluded to rations; they were scarce here, as always when any
fighting was on hand. Even in camp, where all was at its best, we had
for rations, per day, one and a half pints of flour, or coarse
cornmeal,--ground with the _cob_ in it we used to think,--and
one-quarter of a pound of bacon, or "mess pork," or a pound, far more
often half a pound, of beef.

But, in time of a fight! Ah then, thin was the fare! That small ration
dwindled until, at times, eating was likely to become a "lost art." I
have seen a man, Bill Lewis, sit down and eat three days' rations at one
time. He said "He did not want the trouble of carrying it, _and_ he did
want _one_ meal occasionally that wasn't an empty form." The idea seemed
to be that a Confederate soldier would _fight_ exactly in proportion as
he _didn't eat_. And his _business_ was to _fight_. This theory was put
into practice on a very close and accurate calculation; with the odds
that, as a rule, we had against us, in the battles of the Army of
Northern Virginia, we had to meet two or three to one. Then, each
Confederate soldier was called upon to be equal to two or three Federal
soldiers, and, therefore, each Confederate must have but _one-half_ or
_one-third_ the rations of a Federal soldier. It was easy figuring, and
so it was arranged in practice.

It was eminently so in this campaign, from the first. When we left camp,
on the 4th a few crackers and small piece of meat were given us, and
devoured at once. That evening, and on this day, the 5th, we received
_none at all_, and in that hard, forced march we became very hungry. An
incident that occurred will show how hungry we were. As we passed the
hamlet of Verdiersville, I noticed a little negro boy, black as the "ace
of spades" and dirty as a pig, standing on the side of the road gazing
with staring eyes at the troops, and holding in his hand a piece of
ash-cake, which he was eating. A moment after I passed him, our dear old
comrade and messmate, Dr. Carter, the cleanest and most particular man
in the army, came running after us (Carter Page, John Page, George
Harrison, and myself) with gleeful cries, "Here, fellows, I've got
something. It isn't much, but it will give us a bite apiece. Here! look
at this, a piece of bread! let me give you some."

As he came up he held in his hand the identical piece of bread I had
seen the little darkey munching on. It was a small, wet, half-raw
fragment of corn ash-cake, and it had moulded on one edge a complete
cast of that little nigger's mouth, the perfect print of every tooth.
The Doctor had bought it from him for fifty cents, and now, wanted to
divide it with us four--a rather heroic thought that was, in a man
hungry as a wolf. Of course we young fellows flatly refused to divide
it, as we knew the Doctor, twice our age, needed it more than we. We
said, "We were not hungry; couldn't eat anything to save us." A lie,
that I hope the recording Angel, considering the motive, didn't take
down; or, if he did, I hope he added a note explaining the

We then began to joke the Doctor about the print of the little darkey's
teeth on his bread and suggested to him, to break off that part. "No,
indeed," said the Doctor, gloating over his precious ash-cake, "Bread's
too scarce, _I_ don't mind about the little nigger's teeth, I can't
spare a crumb." And when he found he could not force us to take any, he
ate it all up.

Indifference to the tooth prints was a perfectly reasonable sentiment,
under the circumstances, and one in which we all would have shared, for
we were wolfish enough to have eaten the "little nigger" himself. The
Doctor didn't mind the little chap's tooth marks _then_ but--he did
_afterwards_. After he had been pacified with a square meal, the idea
wasn't so pleasant, and though we often recalled the incident,
afterwards, the Doctor could not remember _this part of it_. He
remembered the piece of ash-cake, but, somehow, he could not be brought
to recall the tooth marks in it. Not he!

It was about eleven o'clock when we passed Verdiersville. Soon after, we
turned down a road, which led over to the plank road on which A. P.
Hill's column was moving. Hour after hour all the morning, reports had
come flying back along the columns, that our people, at the front, had
seen nothing but Federal Cavalry; hadn't been able to unearth any
infantry at all. An impression began to get about that maybe after all,
there had been a mistake, and that Grant's army was not in front of us.

About this time, that impression was suddenly and entirely dispelled. A
distinct rattle of musketry broke sharply on our ears, and we knew, at
once, that we had found _something_, and, in fact, it was soon clear
that we had found Federal infantry, enough and to spare.

That sudden outbreak of musketry quickened every pulse, and every step
too, in our columns. Harder than ever we pushed ahead, and as we
advanced, the firing grew louder, and the volume heavier till it was a
long roar. The long-roll beat in our marching columns, and some of the
infantry brigades broke into the double quick to the front, and we could
see them heading off, right and left into the woods.

=Marse Robert's Way of Making One Equal to Three=

We had now come to the edge of that forest and thicket-covered district,
the "Wilderness of Spottsylvania."

Grant had crossed the Rapidan into this tangled chaparral, and it is
said he was very much surprised that Lee did not dispute the passage of
the river. But "Ole Marse Robert" had cut too many eye teeth to do
anything like that. He was far too deep a file, to stop his enemy from
getting himself into "a fix." He knew that when Grant's great army got
over there, they would be "entangled in the land, the wilderness would
shut them in."

In that wilderness, three men were not three times as many as one man.
No! no! not at all! Quite the reverse! Lee wouldn't lift a finger to
keep Grant from getting _into_ the wilderness, but quick as a flash he
was, to keep him from getting out. This, was why he had been marching
the legs off of us, rations or no rations. This, was why he couldn't
wait for Longstreet, but tore off with the men he had, to meet Grant and
fight him, before he could disentangle himself from The Wilderness. We
had got up in time; and into the chaparral our men plunged to get at the
enemy, and out of it was now roaring back over our swift columns the
musketry of the advance. As brigade after brigade dashed into line of
battle the roar swelled out grander, and more majestic, until it became
a mighty roll of hoarse thunder, which made the air quiver again, and
seemed to shake the very ground. The battle of The Wilderness was begun,
in dead earnest.

The crushing, pealing thunder kept up right along, almost unbroken, hour
after hour, all through the long noon, and longer evening, until just
before night, it slackened and died away. It was the most _solemn_ sound
I ever heard, or ever expect to hear, on earth. I never heard anything
like it in any other battle. Nothing could be seen, no movements of
troops, in sight, to distract attention, or rivet one's interest on the
varying fortunes of a battlefield. Only,--out of the dark woods, which
covered all from sight, rolled upward heavy clouds of battle-smoke, and
outward, that earth shaking thunder, now and then fiercely sharpened by
the "rebel yell,"--the scariest sound that ever split a human ear,--as
our men sprang to the death grapple.

We had pushed up along with the rest; but by and by our guns were
ordered to halt, to let the infantry go by. Here, while we waited for
them to pass, we saw the first effects of the fight. Just off the road
there was a small open field containing a little farmhouse and garden
and apple orchard, where the cavalry had been at work, that morning
before we came up. Around the house and in the orchard lay ten dead
Federal troops, three of our men, and a number of horses; all lying as
they had fallen. One of the Federals was lying with one leg under his
horse, and the other over him; both had, apparently, been instantly
killed by the same ball, which had gone clear through the heads of both
man and horse. They had fallen together, the man hardly moved from his
natural position in the saddle. Another had a sword thrust through his
body, and two others, in their terribly gashed heads, gave evidence that
they had gone down under the sabre. The rest of them, and all three of
our men, had been killed by balls. Not a living thing was seen about the

We were called away from this ghastly scene by the guns starting again,
and we moved on rapidly to the front. As we went, at a trot, one of the
men, John Williams, who was sick with the heat and exhaustion of the
trying march, and was sitting on the trail of the gun, suddenly fainted,
and fell forward under the wheel. He was, fortunately, saved from
instant death by a stone, just in front of which he fell. The ponderous
wheel, going so rapidly, struck the stone, and was bounded over his
body, only bruising him a little. It was a close shave, but we were
spared the loss of a dear comrade, and good soldier.

=An Infantry Battle=

When we got up pretty close to the line of battle, we halted and then
were ordered to pull out beside the road and wait for orders. Here we
found a great many batteries parked, and we heard that it was, as yet,
impossible to get artillery into action where the infantry was fighting.
In fact, the battle of The Wilderness was almost exclusively an
_Infantry_ fight. But few cannon shots were heard at all during the day;
the guns could not be gotten through the thickets. We heard, at the
time, that we had only been able to put in two guns, and the Federals,
three, and that our people had taken two of them, and the other was
withdrawn. Certainly we hardly heard a single shot during most of the
fight. But we didn't know at the time the exemption we were to enjoy. It
was a strange and unwonted sight, all those guns, around us, idle, with
a battle going on. For the way General Lee fought his artillery was a
caution to cannoneers. He always put them in, everywhere, and made the
fullest use of them. We always expected, and we always got, our full
share of any fighting that was going on. And to be idle here, while the
musketry was rolling, was entirely a novel sensation. We were under a
dropping fire, and we expected to go in every moment. A position which
every old soldier will recognize as more trying than being in the thick
of a fight. It was very far from soothing.

When we had been waiting here a few minutes, Dr. Newton, since the Rev.
John B. Newton of Monumental Church, Richmond, Va., afterwards Bishop
Coadjutor of Virginia, but then the surgeon of the 40th Virginia
Infantry, rode by our guns, and recognizing several of us, boys, his
kinsmen, stopped to speak to us. After a few kind words, as he shook
hands with us very warmly at parting, he pointed to his field hospital,
hard by, and very blandly said, "Boys, I'll be right here, and I will be
glad to do anything for you in my line." To fellows going, as we
thought, right into battle, this was about the last kind of talk we
wanted to hear. A doctor's offer of service in our situation, was full
of ghastly suggestions. So his well-meaning proffer was met with
opprobrious epithets, and indignant defiance. It was shouted to him in
vigorous Anglo-Saxon, what we thought of doctors anyhow, and that if he
didn't look sharp we'd fix him so he would need a doctor, himself, to
patch him up. The Doctor rode off laughing at the storm his friendly
remarks had raised. Never was a kind offer more ungraciously received. I
suppose, however, if any of us had got hurt just then, we would have
been glad enough to fall in with the Doctor, and to have his skillful
care. Fact is, soldiers are very like citizens--set light by the doctor
when _well_, but mighty glad to see him when anything is the matter.

The Doctor, and all his brother "saw-bones" soon had enough to do for
other poor fellows, if not for us. Numbers of wounded men streamed past
us, asking the way to the hospitals, some, limping painfully along,
some, with arms in a sling, some, with blood streaming down over neck or
face, some, helped along by a comrade, some, borne on stretchers. It was
a battered looking procession; and yet, I suppose that people will be
surprised to hear, it was as _cheerful_ a lot of fellows, as you can
imagine. Wounded men coming from under fire are, as a rule, cheerful,
often jolly. Being able to get, honorably, from under fire, with the
mark of manly service to show, is enough to make a fellow cheerful, even
with a hole through him. Of course I am speaking now of the wounded who
can walk, and are not utterly disabled.

Eagerly we stopped those wounded men to ask how the fight was going.
Their invariable account was that it was all right. They spoke about
what heavy columns the enemy was putting in, but they said we were
pressing them back, and every one spoke of the dreadful carnage of the
Federals. One fellow said, after he was shot in the advancing line, he
had to come back over a place, over which there had been very stubborn
fighting, and which our men had carried, like a hurricane at last, and
as he expressed it, "Dead Yankees were _knee deep_ all over about four
acres of ground." The blood was running down and dropping, very freely,
off this man's arm, while he stood in the road and told us this.

These accounts of the wounded men from the line of battle put us in good
heart, which was not lessened by a long line of Federal prisoners being
marched to the rear, and the assurance by one of the guard that there
were "plenty more where these came from."

And so at last this long exciting day wore away. As dark fell the firing
ceased. We got some wood and made fires, and, pretty soon after, "old
Tom Armistead," our Commissary Sergeant, rode up. His appearance was
hailed with delight, as the promise of something to eat. These
transports were destined to be moderated when Tom told what he had to
say. He had ridden on from the wagons, far in the rear, and all he could
get was a few crackers, and a small bag of wet brown sugar. This he had
brought with him, across his horse.

Each man got two crackers and one handful of sugar. This disappeared in
a twinkling. And then we sat around the fires discussing the events of
the day. One subject of general anxiety, I remember, was when Longstreet
would be up. As well as things had gone this day, we all knew well, how
much his Corps would be needed for tomorrow's work. It was generally
regarded as certain that he would get up during the night, and we lay
down to sleep around our guns confident that all was well for tomorrow.

Next morning we were up early. I don't remember that we had anything to
eat, and as the getting anything to eat in those days made a deep
impression on our minds, I infer that we didn't. However we got a
_wash_, a small one. We did not always enjoy this refreshment; then had
to be content with a "dry polish" such as Mr. Squeers recommended to
Nicholas Nickelby at "Dotheboys Hall," when the pump froze. But on this
occasion we had, with difficulty, secured one canteen of water between
three of us, wherein we were better off than some of the others. The tin
pan in which we luxuriated during winter quarters had been relegated to
the wagon, both as inconvenient to carry, and as requiring too much
water. It always took two to get a "campaign wash." One fellow poured a
little water, out of the canteen, into his comrade's hands, with which
he moistened his countenance, a little more poured over his soaped
hands, and the deed was done. On this occasion when one canteen had to
serve for three, and no more water was to be had, our ablutions were
light; in fact, it was little more than a pantomime, in which we "went
through the motions" of a wash. But we were afraid to leave the guns a
minute, after daylight, for fear of a sudden movement to the front, so
we had to do with what we had.

Soon after this, our cares about all these smaller matters suddenly fell
out of sight. That fierce musketry broke out again along the lines, in
the woods, in front. It increased in fury, especially on the right. Very
soon reports began to float back that the Federals were heavily
overlapping A. P. Hill's right, and things looked dangerous. Then it was
rumored that some of Hill's right regiments were beginning to give way,
under the resistless weight of the columns hurled upon him and round his
flank. We could quickly perceive this to be true by the sound of the
firing, which came nearer to us and passed toward the left. This
immediately threw our crowd into a fever of excitement; the idea of
lying there, doing nothing, when our men were falling back, was
intolerable. Every artillery man thought that if _his battery_ could
only get in, it would be all right. We knew what a difference it would
instantly make, if all these silent guns could be sweeping the columns
of the enemy. We would soon stop them, we thought! We just ached for
orders to come but they did not. Still the news came, "impossible to get
artillery in;" and loud and deep were the angry complaints of some, and
curses of others, and great the disgust of all at our forced inaction.
One fellow near me, voiced the feelings of us all--"If we can't get in
there, or Longstreet don't get here pretty quick, the devil will be to

=Arrival of the First Corps=

In the midst of this anxious and high wrought feeling, an excited voice
yelled out, "Look out down the road. Here they come!" We were driven
nearly wild with excited joy, and enthusiasm by the blessed sight of
Longstreet's advance division coming down the road at a double quick, at
which pace, after the news of Hill's critical situation reached them,
they had come for two miles and a half. The instant the head of his
column was seen the cries resounded on every side, "Here's Longstreet.
The old war horse is up at last. It's all right now."

On, the swift columns came! Crowding up to the road, on both sides, we
yelled ourselves nearly dumb to cheer them as they swept by. Hearty were
the greetings as we recognized acquaintances and friends and old battle
comrades in the passing columns. Specially did the "Howitzers" make the
welkin ring when Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade passed. This was the
brigade to which our battery had long been attached, to which we were
greatly devoted, with whom we had often fought, and admired as one of
the most splendid fighting corps in the army. And loud was the cheer the
gallant Mississippians flung back to the "Howitzers."

Everything broke loose as General Longstreet in person rode past. Like a
fine lady at a party, Longstreet was often late in his arrival at the
ball, but he always made a sensation and that of delight, when he _got_
in, with the grand old First Corps, sweeping behind him, as his train.

This was our own Corps, from which we had been separated for some
months. The very sight of the gallant old veterans, as they poured on,
was enough to make all hearts perfectly easy. Our feeling of relief was
complete and as the Brigades disappeared into the woods in the direction
of Hill's breaking right, where the thunder of their still heroic
resistance to overwhelming odds was roaring, we all felt, "Thank God!
it's all right now! Longstreet is up!"

And it _was_ all right. The first brigades as they got up formed, and
rushed right in, one after another, to check the advance of the enemy.
And as they successively went in we could hear the musketry grow more
angry and fierce. Before very long, a crashing peal of musketry broke
out with a fury that made what we had been hearing before seem like
pop-crackers. Our crowd quickly perceived that the sound was receding
from us; at the same time the bullets,--which had been falling over
among us entirely too lively to be pleasant to fellows who were not
shooting any themselves,--stopped coming. We knew what this meant;
Longstreet was putting his Corps in, and they were driving the enemy.
Soon, to confirm our ideas, lines of Federal prisoners, from Hancock's
Corps, they told us, came by, and Longstreet's wounded began to pass.
These fellows told us that our Corps had gone in like a whirlwind, had
already recovered Hill's line, gone beyond it, and were forcing the
Federals back.

They said Hancock's Corps was doubled up, and being torn to pieces and
they thought we would "bag the whole business."

=The Love that Lee Inspired in the Men He Led=

All this was very nice and we were expressing our delight in the usual
way. Just then, an officer rode up who told us a bit of news, that made
us feel more like tears than cheers, and put every fellow's heart into
his mouth. He said that just before, General Lee had come in an ace of
being captured. A body of the enemy had pushed through a gap in our line
and unexpectedly come right upon the old General, who was quietly
sitting upon his horse. That, these fellows could with perfect ease have
taken, or shot him, but that he had quietly ridden off, and the enemy
not knowing who it was, made no special effort to molest him.

I wish you could have seen the appalled look that fell on the faces of
the men, as they listened to this. Although the danger was past an hour
ago, they were as pale and startled and shocked as if it were enacting
then. The bare idea of anything happening to General Lee was enough to
make a man sick, and I assure you it took all the starch out of us for a
few minutes.

I don't know how it was, but somehow, it never occurred to us that
anything _could_ happen to General Lee. Of course, we knew that he was
often exposed, like the rest of us. We had seen him often enough under
hot fire. And, by the way, I believe that the one only thing General Lee
ever did, that the men in this army thought he _ought not to do_, was
going under fire. We thought him perfect in motive, deed and judgment;
he could do no wrong, could make no mistake, but this,--that he was too
careless in the way he went about a battlefield. Three different times,
during these very fights, at points of danger, he was urged to leave
the spot, as it was "not the place for him." At last he said, "I wish I
knew _where my place is_ on the battlefield; wherever I go some one
tells me _that_ is not the place for me."

But, he would go! He wanted to see things for himself, and he wished his
men to know, that he was looking after them, both seeing that they did
their duty, and _caring_ for them. And certainly, the sight of his
beloved face was like the sun to his men for cheer and encouragement.
Every man thought less of personal danger, and no man thought of
_failure_ after he had seen General Lee riding along the lines. Nobody
will ever quite understand what that old man was to us, his soldiers!
What absolute confidence we felt in him! What love and devotion we had,
what enthusiastic admiration, what filial affection, we cherished for
him. We loved him like a father, and thought about him as a devout old
Roman thought of the God of War. Anything happen to him! It would have
_broken our hearts_, for one thing, and, we could no more think of the
"Army of Northern Virginia" without General Lee, at its head, than we
could picture the day without the sun shining in the heavens.

An incident illustrating this feeling was taking place up in the front
just about the time we were hearing the news of the General's narrow

As the Texan Brigade of Longstreet's Corps, just come up, dashed upon
the heavy ranks of the Federals, they passed General Lee with a rousing
cheer. The old General, anxious and excited by the critical moment,
thrilling with sympathy in their gallant bearing, started to ride in,
with them, to the charge. It was told me the next day by some of the
Texans, who witnessed it, that the instant the men, unaware of his
presence with them before, saw the General along with them in that
furious fire, they cried out in pleading tones--"Go back, General Lee.
We swear we won't go on, if you don't go back. You shall not stay here
in this fire! We'll charge clear through the wilderness if you will only
go back." And they said, numbers of the men crowded about the General,
and begged him, with tears, to return, and some caught hold of his feet,
and some his bridle rein, and turned his horse round, and led him back a
few steps,--all the time pleading with him. And then, the General seeing
the feelings of his men, and that he was _actually checking the charge_
by their anxiety for him, said, "I'll go, my men, if you will drive back
those people," and he rode off, they said, with his head down, and they
saw tears rolling down his cheeks. And they said, many of the men were
sobbing aloud, overcome by this touching scene. Then with one yell, and
the tears on their faces, those noble fellows hurled themselves on the
masses of the enemy like a thunderbolt. Not only did they stop the
advance, but their resistless fury swept all before it and they followed
the broken Federals half a mile. They redeemed their promise to General
Lee. Eight hundred of them went in, four hundred, only, came out. They
covered with glory that day, not only themselves, who did such deeds,
but their leader, who could inspire such feelings at such a moment in
the hearts of these men. Half their number fell in that splendid charge,
but--they saved the line, and they gloriously redeemed their promise to
General Lee--"We'll do all you want, if you will only get out of fire."
I cannot think of anything stronger than to say that--This General, and
these soldiers, were worthy of each other. There is no higher praise!

As the Brigades of Field's division, that followed the Texans, went in,
a little incident took place, which illustrated the irrepressible spirit
of fun which would break out everywhere, and which we often laughed at
afterwards. General Anderson's Brigade was ahead, followed hard by
Benning's Brigade, gallant Georgians all, and led by Brigadiers, of whom
nothing better can be said, than that they were worthy to lead them.
Among the men General Anderson had somehow got the soubriquet of "Tige"
and General Benning enjoyed the equally respectful name of "Old Rock."
On this occasion, Anderson was ahead, and as he moved out of sight into
the woods, his men began to yell and shout like everything. One of
Anderson's men, wounded, blood dropping from his elbow and running down
his face, was coming out, when he met General Benning, at the head of
his column, pushing in as hard as he could go. As this fellow passed
him, taking advantage of his wound to have a little joke, he pointed to
the woods in front and called out to the General, "Hurry up 'Old Rock,'
'Tige' has treed a pretty big coon he's got up there; you'd better hurry
up or you won't get a smell." The brave old Benning, already hurrying
himself nearly to death, flashed around on the daring speaker, and saw
at once the streaming blood--"Confound that fellow's impudence," said
the disgusted General. "I wish he wasn't wounded, if I wouldn't fix
him." The fellow well knew that he could say what he pleased to anybody
with that blood-covered face.

I think it was about eleven or twelve o'clock we heard that General
Longstreet was badly wounded, and soon after he was brought to the rear,
near our guns. With several of the others I went out and had some words
with the men who were taking him out. To our grief, we heard them say,
that his wound was very dangerous, probably fatal. He had fallen, up
there in the woods, on the battle front, fighting his corps, in the full
tide of victory. He had broken and doubled up Hancock's Corps, and
driven it, with great slaughter back upon their works at the Brock road,
and in such rout and confusion, that, as he said, he thought he had
another "Bull Run" on them. And if he could have forced on that assault,
and gotten fixed on the Brock road, it is thought that Grant's army
would have been in great peril. But, just in the thick of it, he was
mistaken, while out in front in the woods, for the enemy, and shot, by
his own men. His fall was in almost every particular just like
"Stonewall" Jackson's, in that same wilderness, one year before. Both
were shot by their own men, at a critical moment, in the midst of
brilliant success, and in both cases their fall saved the enemy from
irretrievable disaster. Longstreet's fall checked the attack, which
after an inevitable delay of some hours, was resumed. But the enemy
seeing his danger had time to recover, and make disposition to meet it.

="Windrows" of Federal Dead=

Again, at four o'clock, after this interval of comparative quiet, the
thunder of battle crashed and rolled. General Lee, himself, fought
Longstreet's Corps. The attack was fierce, obstinate, and fearfully
bloody. Wilkinson, of the Army of the Potomac, an eye-witness of this
charge, says, in his book, "Recollections of a Private Soldier": "The
Confederate fire resembled the fury of hell in its intensity, and was
deadly accurate" and that "the story of this fight could afterwards be
read by the windrows of dead men." As to its effect he also says: "We
could not check the Confederate advance and they forced us back, and
back, and back. The charging Confederates broke through the left of the
Ninth Corps and would have cut the army in twain, if not caught on the
flank, and driven back. Massed for the attack on the Sixth Corps, they
were skillfully launched, and ably led, and they struck with terrific
violence against Shaler's and Seymour's Brigades, which were routed,
with a loss of four thousand prisoners. The Confederates came within an
ace of routing the Sixth Corps. Both their assaults along our line were
dangerously near being successful." Such was the description of a brave
enemy, an eye-witness of this assault. At last, as dark fell, the fire
slackened and died out.

The Battle of the Wilderness was done. Grant was pinned into the
thickets, hardly able to stand Lee's attack, no thoroughfare to the
front and twenty odd thousand of his men dead, wounded and gone. That
was about the situation when dark fell on the 6th of May!

That night we drew off some distance to the right, and lay down,
supperless, on the ground around our guns; it was very dark and cloudy
and soon began to rain. There had been too much powder burnt around
there during the last two days for it to stay clear. And so, as it
always did, just after heavy firing, the clouds poured down water
through the dark night. Lying out exposed on the untented ground, with
only one blanket to cover with, we got soaking wet, and stayed so.

The comfortless night gave way, at last, to a comfortless day--May
7th--gloomy, lowering, and raining, off and on, till late in the
evening. During the morning, a little desultory firing was heard in
front, and then all was quiet and still. We knew enough to know that
Grant's push was over at this point. Some of us had gone up to look at
the ground over which Longstreet had driven the enemy yesterday. We knew
that the Federal troops could never be gotten back over that awful,
corpse-covered ground to attack the men who had driven them. We knew we
had to fight somewhere else, but where? By and by, talk began to
circulate among the men that Spottsylvania, or around near
Fredericksburg, might be the place. Of one thing we were all satisfied,
that we would know soon enough.

In this waiting and excited state of mind, the long, long, rainy day
wore on, and dark fell again. We had managed to conjure up some very
lonesome looking fires out of the wet wood lying about (fence rails were
not attainable here in the wilderness), and were engaged in a hot
dispute about where the next fighting was to be, which warmed and dried
us more than the fires did, when "the winter of our discontent" was made
"glorious summer," so to speak, by the news that the wagons had got up,
and they were going to issue rations. Tom Armistead made this startling
announcement in as bland, and matter of course a tone as if he were in
the habit of giving us something to eat _every_ day, which he was not,
by a great deal. Tom was the dearest fellow in the world, and the best
Commissary in the army, and we all loved him. Many a time when, in the
confusion of campaign, the wagon was empty, or was snowed in by an
avalanche of wagons, far in the rear, he could be seen struggling up to
the front with a bag of crackers, sugar, meat, anything that he had been
able to lay hands on, across his horse, so that the boys should not
starve entirely. Hunting us up through the woods, or along the battle
line, he would ride in among us with his load, and a beaming face, that
told how glad he was to have something for us. And when, as too often it
was, the whole Commissary business was "_dead busted_," our afflicted
Commissary would tell us there was nothing, with such a rueful visage,
that it made us sorry we did not have something to give him, and made us
feel our own emptiness all the more, that it seemed to afflict him so.

The present rations were quickly distributed, and as quickly devoured,
and not a man was foundered by over-eating! Then we sat around the fires
and discussed the news that had been gathered from various sources.



It was just ten o'clock and each man was looking around for the dryest
spot to spread his blanket on, when a courier rode up, with pressing
orders for us to get instantly on the march. In a few moments, we were
tramping rapidly through the darkness, on a road that led, we knew not
whither. We were, as we found out afterwards, leading the great race,
that General Lee was making for Spottsylvania Court House to head off
Grant in his efforts to get out of the Wilderness in his "push for
Richmond." We were with the vanguard of the skillful movement, by which
Longstreet's Corps was marched entirely around Grant's left flank, to
seize the strong line of the hills around Spottsylvania Court House and
hold it till the other two Corps could come to our aid.

We marched all night, a hard, forced march over muddy roads, through the
damp, close night. Soon after the start from our bivouac, a brigade of
infantry had filed into the road ahead of us, and we could hear, behind
us on the road, though we could not see for the darkness, the sound of
other troops marching. The Brigade ahead of us, we soon found, to our
gratification, to be Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade, now under command
of General Humphreys, since the gallant Barksdale fell at the head of
his storming columns at Gettysburg. This was the Brigade to which we had
belonged in the earlier organization of the artillery. It was a
magnificent body of men, one of the most thorough fighting corps in the
army, as they had showed a hundred times, on the bloodiest fields, and
were soon, and often to show again. There was a very strong mutual
attachment between the First Richmond Howitzers and Barksdale's Brigade,
and we were much pleased to be with them on this march. We mingled with
them, as we sped rapidly along, and exchanged greetings, and our several
experiences since we had been separated.

The morning of the 8th of May broke, foggy and lowering, and found us
still moving swiftly along. The infantry halting for a rest, we passed
on ahead, and for some time were marching by ourselves. I well recall
the impressions of the scene around us on that early morning march. Our
battery seemed all alone on a quiet country road. The birds were singing
around us, and it seemed, to us, so sweet! Everybody was impressed by
the music of those birds. As the old soldiers will remember, the note of
a bird was a sound we rarely heard. The feathered songsters, no doubt,
were frightened away, and it was often remarked, that we never saw
birds in the neighborhood of camp. So we specially enjoyed the treat of
hearing them, now and here, in their own quiet woods, where they had
never been disturbed. All was quiet and still and peaceful as any rural
scene could be. It seemed to us wondrous sweet and beautiful! All the
men were strangely impressed by it. They talked of it to one another. It
made our hearts soft, it brought to the mind of many of those weary,
war-worn soldiers, other quiet rural scenes, where lay their homes and
dear ones, and to which this scene made their hearts go back, in tender
memory, and loving imagination. All the eyes did not stay dry as we
passed along that road. We talked of this scene many a time long
afterwards. And I expect some of the old "Howitzers" still remember that
quiet Spottsylvania country road, winding through the woods, on that
early Sunday morning, when the birds sang to us, as we hurried on to

Well! the morning wore on, and so did we. By and by, the sun came out
through the fog and clouds, and began to make it hot for us. The
dampness of the earth made this an easy job. The sun got higher and
hotter every minute. The way that close, sultry heat did _roast_ us was
pitiful. We would have "larded the lean earth as we walked along,"
except that hard bones and muscles of gaunt men didn't _yield_ any
"lard" to speak of. The _breakfast_ hour was not observed, _i. e._, not
with any ceremony. "Cracker nibbling on the fly" was all the visible
reminder of that time-honored custom. We were not there to eat, but, to
get to Spottsylvania Court House; and _steps_ were more to that purpose
than _steaks_, so we omitted the steaks, and put in the steps; and we
put them in very fast, and were putting in a great many of them, it
appeared to us. At last, just about twelve o'clock our road wound down
to a stream, which I think was the _Po_, one of the head waters of the
Mattaponi River, and then, we went up a very long hill, a bank,
surmounted by a rail fence on the left side of the road, and the woods
on the other.

=Stuart's Four Thousand Cavalry=

Just as we got to the top (our Battery happened just then to be ahead of
all the troops, and was the first of the columns to reach the spot), the
road came up to the level of the land on the left, which enabled us to
see, what, though close by us, had been concealed by the high roadside
bank. A farm gate opened into a field, around a farmhouse and
outbuildings, and there, covering that field was the whole of Fitz Lee's
Division of Stuart's cavalry. These heroic fellows had for two days been
fighting Warren's corps of Federal infantry, which General Grant had
sent to seize this very line on which _we_ had now arrived. They had
fought, mostly dismounted, from hill to hill, from fence to fence, from
tree to tree; and so obstinate was their resistance, and so skillful the
dispositions of the matchless Stuart, that some thirty thousand men had
been forced to take about twenty-six hours to get seven or eight miles,
by about forty-five hundred cavalry. But, it was incomparable cavalry,
and J. E. B. Stuart was handling it. It was some credit to that Corps to
have marched any at all! Thanks to the superb conduct of the cavalry,
General Lee's movement had succeeded! We had beaten the Federal column,
and were here, before them, on this much-coveted line, and meant to hold
it, too.

I note here in passing, that this Spottsylvania business was a "white
day" for the cavalry. When the army came to know of what the cavalry had
done, and _how they had done it_, there was a general outburst of
admiration,--the recognition that brave men give to the brave. Stuart
and his men were written higher than ever on the honor roll, and the
whole army was ready to take off its hat to salute the cavalry.

And, from that day, there was a marked change in the way the army
thought and spoke of the cavalry; it took a distinctly different and
higher position in the respect of the Army, for it had revealed itself
in a new light; it had shown itself signally possessed of the quality,
that the infantry and artillery naturally admired most of all
others--_obstinacy_ in fight.

As was natural, and highly desirable, each arm of the service had a very
exalted idea of its own importance and merit, as compared with the
others. In fact the soldier of the "Army of Northern Virginia" filled
exactly the Duke of Marlborough's description of the spirit of a good
soldier. "He is a poor soldier," said the Duke, "who does not think
himself as good and better than any other soldier _of his own army_, and
_three times as good_ as any man in the army _of the enemy_." That
fitted our fellows "to a hair;" each Confederate soldier thought that

It was not an unnatural or unreasonable conceit, _considering the
facts_. It must be confessed that _modesty_ as to their quality as
soldiers was not the distinguishing virtue of the men of the Army of
Northern Virginia, but, it must be considered, in extenuation that their
experience in war was by no means a good school for humility. An old
Scotch woman once prayed, "Lord, gie us a gude conceit o' ourselves."
There was a certain wisdom in the old woman's prayer! The Army of
Northern Virginia soldiers had this "gude conceit o' themselves,"
without praying for it; certainly, if they did pray for it, their prayer
was answered, "good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running
over." They had it abundantly! And it was a tremendous element of power
in their "make up" as soldiers. It made them the terrible fighters, that
all the world knew they were. It largely explains their recorded deeds,
and their matchless achievements.

For instance, here at the Wilderness! What was it that made thirty-five
thousand men knowingly and cheerfully march to attack one hundred and
fifty thousand men, and stick up to them, and fight them for twenty-four
hours, without support or reinforcement? It was their good opinion of
themselves; their superb confidence. They felt _able_ with thirty-five
thousand men, _and General Lee_, to meet one hundred and fifty thousand
men, and hold them, till help came; _and didn't they do it_?

Well! they did _that kind of thing so often_ that they couldn't get
humble, and _they never have been able to get humble since_. They _try
to_--but--_they can't_!

But I return from this digression to say, that the different Arms of the
service had something of this same feeling, this good opinion of
themselves, as compared with one another. Each one had many jokes on the
others, and whenever they met, all sorts of "chaffing" went on. In all
this, the infantry and artillery felt closer together, and were rather
apt, when the occasion offered, to turn their combined guns on the

The general point of the jokes and gibes at the cavalry was their
_supposed_ tendency to be "_scarce_" when _big fighting_ was going on.

It wasn't that anybody doubted the _usefulness_ of cavalry, but their
usefulness was imagined to lie in other respects than fighting back the
masses of the enemy. And, it wasn't that anybody supposed that the
cavalry did not have plenty of fight in them, _if they could get a
chance_. We knew that when they were at home they were the same stock as
we were, and we believed, that if they were along with us, they would do
as well; but in the cavalry, well! we didn't know!

The leaders of the cavalry, Stuart, Hampton, Ashby, Fitz Lee and others,
were heroes and household names to the whole army. Their brilliant
courage and dare-deviltry, their hairbreadth escapes, and thrilling
adventures, their feats of skill, and grace were themes of pride and
delight to us all. These cavaliers were the "darlings of the army."
_Still_, the army would guy the cavalry every chance they got.

It was said that Gen. D. H. Hill proposed to offer a "reward of Five
Dollars, to anybody who could find a dead man with spurs on." And Gen.
Jubal Early once, when impatient at the conduct of certain troops in his
command threatened "if the cavalry did not do better, he would put them
_in the army_."

One day, an infantry brigade on the march to Chancellorsville had halted
to rest on the pike, near where a narrow road turned off. A cavalryman
was seen approaching, in a fast gallop, plainly, in a great hurry. The
infantry viewed his approach with great interest, prepared to salute him
with neat and appropriate remarks as he passed, by way of making him

Just before he got to the head of the brigade he reached the narrow road
and started up it. Instantly a dozen "infants" began to wave their arms
excitedly, and shout in loud earnest voices--"Mister, stop there! don't
go a step farther; for heaven's sake _don't_ go up that road." The
trooper, startled by this appeal, and the warning gestures of the men,
approaching him, pulled in his fast-going horse, and stopped, very
impatiently. He said in a sharp tone, "What is the matter, why mustn't I
go up this road? Say quick, I'm in a big hurry." "Don't go, we beg you;
you'll never come back alive." "Humph! is that so?" said this trooper
(who had been near breaking a blood vessel in his impatience at being
stopped, but cooled off a little, at this ominous remark)--"But what's
ahead? what's the danger? The road seems quiet?" "Well, Sonny, _that's_
the danger. Haven't you heard about it?" "Now, Sonny," was a term of
endearment, which from an "infant" always exasperated the feelings of a
cavalryman to the last degree; turned the milk of kindness in a
horseman's breast into the sourest clabber; and it instantly stirred up
this trooper. "Look here men, don't fool with me. Tell me what is the
danger up this road," "Well! we thought we ought to let you know, before
you expose yourself. General Hill has offered a reward of Five Dollars
for a dead man with spurs on, and if you go up that lonesome road some
of these here _soldiers_ will shoot you to get the reward." "Oh pshaw!"
cried the disgusted victim, clapping spurs to his horse, and away he
rode, leaving the grinning and delighted "infants" behind, and leaving,
too, his _opinion_ of them, and their joke, in language that needed no

This sort of thing was going on, all the time. The infantry and
artillery _would_ do it. With many, particularly the artillery, who knew
better, it was _only joking_, the soldier-instinct to stir up _any_
passer-by. But with many, especially the infantry, who were not as much
"up to snuff" as the artillery, these gibes at the cavalry expressed a
serious, tho' mistaken idea, they had of them. Upon the advance of the
enemy, of course, we were accustomed to see cavalrymen hurrying in from
the outposts to the rear, to report. So the thoughtless infantry, not
considering that this was "part of the large and general plan," got
fixed in their minds an association between the two things,--the advance
of the enemy, and, the rapid hurrying off to the rear of the cavalry,
until they came to have the fixed idea, that the sight of the enemy
_always_ made a cavalryman "hungry for solitude." They reasoned that, as
a mounted man was much better _fixed_ for running away than a footman,
it was, by so much, natural that he _should_ run away, and was, by so
much, the more likely to do it.

Also, our orders to move and to go into battle were always brought by
horsemen; so the horsemen were thought about as _causing others to
fight_ instead of _doing it themselves_. So, in short, it came to pass,
that this innocent infantry had a dim sort of notion that the chief end
of the cavalry was, in battle time, to run away and bring up other
people to do the fighting, and in quiet time, to "range" for buttermilk
and other delicacies, which the poor footmen never got. Hence the
soubriquet of "buttermilk ranger" universally applied to the cavalry by
the army.

But, I assure you, that all this was dispelled at once, and for good and
all, at Spottsylvania. Here had these gallants gotten down off their
horses. They hadn't run _anywhere at all_; didn't want anybody else to
come, and fight for them. They had jumped into about five or six times
their number of the flower of the Federal infantry. They met them front
to front, and muzzle to muzzle. Of course they had to give back; but it
was slowly, _very slowly_, and they made the enemy pay, in blood, for
every step they gained. They had worried these Federals into a fever,
and kept them fooling away nearly twenty-six hours of priceless time;
and made Grant's plan _fail_, and made General Lee's plan succeed, and
had secured the strong line for our defence.

It was a piece of regular, obstinate, bloody, "bulldog" work. We knew,
well as we thought of ourselves, that not the staunchest brigade of our
veteran "incomparable" infantry, or battery of our canister-shooting
artillery, could have _fought_ better, _stood_ better, or _achieved
more_, for the success of the campaign. We felt that General Lee,--that
the whole army,--"owed the cavalry one," "_several_," in fact. The army,
even the infantry, had come to know the cavalry, at last. Obstinacy,
toughness, dogged refusal to be driven, was their test of manhood, and
this test the cavalry had signally, and _brilliantly_ met. Everybody was
satisfied, the _cavalry would do, they_ were "all right." We couldn't
praise them enough, we were proud of them. The remark was even suffered
to pass, as nothing to his discredit particularly, that our "Magnus
Apollo," General Lee, himself, had once been in the cavalry, and no one
resented it _now_. We knew that it was when he was _younger_ than now.
We, of the "Howitzers," knew very well what arm of the service, and what
corps of that arm, the experienced old General would join, if he was
enlisting in the Army of Northern Virginia, now, when he knew more than
he did. Still! he had been a cavalryman; admit it!

And we all _admired_ the cavalry; _honored_ the cavalry; _shouted_ for
the cavalry, from that time! Occasionally, from force of habit, the
infantry (the artillery never) would fall from grace at sight of a
passing cavalry column, and let fall little attentions, that sounded
very like the old-time compliments, but they were not _meant that way_.
It was the soldier-instinct to salute pilgrims. Just as, on a village
street, if a dog, of any degree, starts to run, every other dog in
sight, or hearing, tears off after him in pursuit, and if he can catch
up, instantly attacks him,--not that he has anything against the
fugitive, but, simply, because he is running by. The act of running past
makes him the enemy of his kind. So, I think, the Confederate infantry
assailed, with jokes and gibes, _anybody in motion_ by their camp, or
column. They had nothing against him; they attacked him because he was
passing by. "It was their nature to." Of all living men, General Lee,
_alone_, was sacred to them in this. The cavalry _always_ had their full
share, and never suffered for want of notice.

This account of the false idea that prevailed, the fun that came of it,
and the way it was dispelled, is part of the history of the time. It
went to make up the life in the Army of Northern Virginia; it lives in
the recollection of that good old time. No record of that old time would
be complete without it. So I make no apology for falling into it, in
this informal reminiscence.

At one o'clock on Sunday, the 8th of May, we reached the top of the hill
near Spottsylvania Court House and suddenly came upon Stuart's cavalry
massed in the yard and field around a farmhouse. They had finished their
splendid fight, the van of the army was on the spot to relieve them.
They had been withdrawn from confronting the enemy, and were now drawn
up here, preparatory to starting off, to overtake Sheridan's raid toward
Richmond; which they did, and, at "Yellow Tavern," two days after, many
of them, the immortal Stuart at their head, died and saved Richmond.

=Greetings on the Field of Battle=

I have lingered at that farmhouse gate, at the top of the hill, in this
story, very much longer than we did in reality. In fact we didn't linger
there at all. Didn't have a chance! For, the moment we came in sight, at
that gate leading into the farmhouse, an officer came dashing out from
amongst the troops of cavalry, and galloped across the field toward us.
The instant this horseman got out of the crowd, we recognized him. That
long waving feather, the long auburn beard, that easy, graceful seat on
the swift horse,--that was "J. E. B." Stuart, and nobody else! He rode
up to the foremost group of us, and pulled up his horse. With bright,
pleasant, smiling face, he returned our hearty salute with a touch of
his hat, and a cheerful, "Good morning, boys! glad to see you. What
troops are these?" "Richmond Howitzers, Longstreet's Corps." "_Good!_
anybody else along?" "Infantry close behind." "Good! Well, boys, I'm
_very_ glad to see you. I've got a little job for you, right now, all
waiting for you." Just then the Captain rode up and saluted. "Captain,"
said the General, saluting pleasantly, "Draw our guns through the gate
and stop. I'll want you in ten minutes." And, away he galloped, back
toward the cavalry. The guns pulled in through the gate and halted as
they were, on the road leading to the house, close by the cavalry.

We seized this sudden chance to see our old friends among the troopers.
In every direction our fellows might be seen darting in among the
horses, in search of our friends. Loud and hearty were the shouts of
greeting as we recognized, or were seen by, those we sought or
unexpectedly lighted on. Brothers, met and embraced. Friends greeted
friends. Old schoolmates, who had, three years ago, parted at the
schoolroom, locked eager, and loving hands, and asked after others, and
told what they could. It was a delightful and touching scene, that
meeting there on the edge of a bloody field! they coming out, we going
in. There were jokes, and laughs, and cheerful words, but, the
hand-clasps were very tight, the sudden uprising of tender feelings, at
the sight of faces, and the sound of voices, we had not seen nor heard
for years, and that we might see and hear no more. The memories of home,
or school, and boyhood, suddenly brought back, by the faces linked with
them, made the tears come, and the words very kind, and the tones very

I had several pleasant encounters. Among others, this: I heard a
familiar voice sing out, "William Dame, my dear boy, what on earth are
you doing here?" I eagerly turned, and in the figure hasting toward me
with outstretched hand,--as soon as I could read between the lines of
mud on him,--I recognized my dear old teacher, Jesse Jones. I loved him
like an older brother, and was delighted to meet him. I had parted from
him, that sad day, three years ago, when our school scattered to the
war. I had seen him last, the quiet gentleman, the thoughtful teacher,
the pale student, the pink of neatness. Here I find him a dashing
officer of the Third Virginia Cavalry, girt with saber and pistols,
covered with mud from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet,
and just resting from the bloody work of the last two days.

Just here, I had the great pleasure of falling in with my kinsman, and
almost brother, Lieut. Robert Page, of the Third Virginia Cavalry, the
older brother of my two comrades, and messmates, Carter and John Page.
"Bob" was one of the "true blues" who had followed Stuart's feather from
the start, and was going to follow it to the bitter end. I remember how,
at the very first, he rode off to the war, from his home, "Locust
Grove," in Cumberland County, Virginia, on his horse, "Goliath," with
his company, the Cumberland Troop. He had stuck to the front, been
always up, and ever at his post, all the way through those three long,
terrible years. He had deserved, and won his Lieutenancy, and commanded
his regiment the last days of the war. He made an enviable record as a
soldier for courage, faithfulness, and honor. None better! At
Appomattox he was surrendered. And having been forced to cease making
war on mankind with the saber, he mended his grip, and continued to make
war, with a far deadlier weapon of destruction, the spatula.

All this was very pleasant, but it was very short. Time was up; ten
minutes were out! We caught sight of General Stuart cantering across the
field toward our guns, the bugle rang, and we tumbled out from amidst
the cavalry, in short order, and took our posts around our respective

="Jeb" Stuart Assigns "A Little Job"=

Stuart was in front of the column of guns talking to Captain McCarthy;
next moment we moved. That is, the "Left Section" moved, the two
twelve-pounder brass "Napoleons," the "Right Section" had two
ten-pounder "Parrott" guns and stayed still. We did not rejoin them for
several days. It was our "Napoleons" that moved off, we took note of
that! Also, we took very scant gun detachments,--all our men, but just
enough to work the guns, stayed behind,--we took note of _that_ too!
These two circumstances meant _business_ to old artillerymen. We
_remarked_ as much, as we trotted beside the guns. "The little job" that
General Stuart had alluded to, with his bland and seductive smile, and
the merry twinkle of his eye, was, plainly, a very _warm_ little job;
however, away we went, "J. E. B." Stuart riding in front of the guns,
with the Captain,--apparently enjoying himself; _we reserved our
opinion_ as to the enjoyableness of the occasion, till we should _see
more_ and be better able to judge. Two guns of "Callaway's" and two of
"Carlton's" Batteries of our Battalion,--which had come up while we were
disporting with our cavalry friends, back there,--had pulled in behind
our two.

The six guns followed the road which turned around the farmhouse, and
ran on down toward the back of the farm. There were pine woods about, in
different directions, the fields lying between. We saw nothing as yet,
and wondered where we were going. We soon found out! About half a mile
from the house, the farm road, which here ran along with pine woods on
the left and a stretch of open field on the right, turned out toward the
open ground. As we passed out from behind that point of woods, we saw
"the elephant!" There, about six hundred yards from us were the
Federals, seeming to cover the fields. There were lines of infantry,
batteries, wagons, ambulances, ordnance trains massed all across the
open ground. This was part of Warren's Corps, which had been pushing for
the Spottsylvania line. They thought they had left the "Army of Northern
Virginia" back yonder at the "Wilderness," and had nothing before them
but cavalry, and they were halted, now, resting or eating, intending
afterwards to advance, and occupy the line, which was back up behind us,
where we had left the cavalry and our other guns. That line, so coveted,
so important to them, that they had been marching, and fighting to
gain, was not a mile off, in sight, in reach, _secure now_, as they
thought. That thought was not only a _delusion_, it was a _snare_. They
were never to reach it! and the "snare," I will explain very soon.

As we thus suddenly came upon that sight, we stopped to look at the
spectacle. It looked very blue, and I dare say, we looked a shade "blue"
ourselves; for we could not see a Confederate anywhere, and we supposed
we had no support whatever, though we were better off in this particular
than we knew. And the idea of pitching into that host, with six
unsupported guns, was not calming to the mind. Coming out from cover of
the pines, back of a slight ridge that ran through the field, with a few
sassafras bushes on it, we were not seen, and the Federals were in
blissful ignorance of what was about to follow. We pulled diagonally
across the field to a point, just back of the low ridge, and quietly
went into position and unlimbered the guns. We pushed them, by hand, up
so that the muzzles just looked clear over the ridge, which thus acted
as a low work in our front, and proved a great protection. The field had
been freshly plowed for corn, the wheels sunk into it, and the minute we
tried to move the guns, by hand, with our small force, we saw what it
was going to be, in action, with the sun blazing down.

When all was ready,--guns pointed, limber, and caisson chests
opened,--General Stuart said, waving his hand toward that swarming field
of Federals, "Boys, I want you to knock that all to pieces for me. So go
to work." And this was the last time we ever saw the superb hero. He
rode, right from our guns, to his death at "Yellow Tavern" a day or two
after. We have always remembered with the deepest interest, that the
very last thing that glorious soldier, "J. E. B." Stuart, did in the
Army of Northern Virginia was to put our guns into position, and give us
orders; which _we obeyed_, to his entire satisfaction, I know, if he had
seen it.

The minute General Stuart had given his order, and turned to ride away,
Captain McCarthy, sitting on his horse, where he sat during the whole
fight, looking as cool as the sun would let him, and far more
unconcerned than if he had been going to dinner, sung out, "Section ----
commence firing." It was ours, the Fourth gun's turn to open the ball.
We were all waiting around the guns for the word.

The group, as it stood, is before my mind as vividly as then. Dan
McCarthy, Sergt. Ned Stine, acting gunner (vice Tony Dibrell absent,
sick, for some time past, who came tearing back, _still sick_, the
moment he heard we were on the warpath) Ben Lambert, No. 1; Joe Bowen,
No. 2; Beau Barnes, No. 3; W. M. Dame, No. 4; Bill Hardy, No. 5;
Charlie Pleasants, No. 6; Sam Vaden, No. 7; Watt Dibbrell, No. 8! The
three drivers of the limber, six yards back of the gun, dismounted, and
holding their horses. Ellis, the lead driver, had scooped out the loose
dirt, with his hands, and lay down, on his back, in the shallow hole,
holding the reins with his upstretched hands.

The third gun was just to our right, the cannoneers grouped around the
guns, each man at his post. Travis Moncure, Sergeant, known and loved
and honored among us as "Monkey," always brave and true and smiling,
even under fire, Harry Townsend, gunner; Cary Eggleston, No. 1; Pres
Ellyson, No. 2; ---- Denman, No. 3; Charlie Kinsolving, No. 4;
Charlie Harrington, No. 5; ----, No. 6; ----, No. 7; ----,
No. 8; Captain McCarthy sitting his horse, just behind, and between the
two guns. The other guns were a little to our left.

All was ready; guns loaded and pointed, carefully, every man at his
post,--feeling right solemn too,--and a dead stillness reigned. The
Captain's steady voice rang out! As an echo to it, Dan McCarthy sung out
"Fourth detachment commence firing, fire!" I gave the lanyard a jerk. A
lurid spout of flame about ten feet long shot from the mouth of the old
"Napoleon," then, in the dead silence, a ringing, crashing roar, that
sounded like the heavens were falling, and rolled a wrathful thunder far
over the fields and echoing woods. Then became distinct, a savage,
venomous scream, along the track of the shell. This grew fainter,--died
on our ear! We eagerly watched! Suddenly, right over the heads of the
enemy, a flash of fire, a puff of snow-white smoke, which hung like a
little cloud! We gave a yell of delight; our shell had gone right into
the midst of the Federals, and burst beautifully. The ball was open!

The instant our gun fired we could hear old Moncure sing out, "Third
detachment, commence firing, fire!" and the Third piece rang out. The
guns on the left joined in, lustily, and in a moment, those six guns
were steadily roaring, and hurling a storm of shell upon the enemy.

And now the fun began, and soon "grew fast and furious." Over in the
Federal lines, taken by surprise, all was confusion, worse confounded.
We could see men running wildly about, teamsters, jumping into the
saddle, and frantically lashing their horses,--wagons, ambulances,
ordnance carts, battery forges, tearing furiously, in every direction.
Several vehicles upset, and many teams, maddened by the lash, and the
confusion, and bursting shells, dashing away uncontrollable. We saw
_one_ wagon, flying like the wind, strike a stump, and thrown, team and
all, a perfect wreck, on top of a low rail fence, crushing it down, and
rolling over it.

This was the only time I ever saw a big army wagon, and team, thrown
over a fence.

All that lively time they were having over among the enemy was very
amusing to us; we were highly delighted, and enjoyed it very much.
Laughter, and jocular remarks on the scene were heard all about, as we
worked the gun, and we did our best to keep up the show.

Meanwhile, we were not deceived for a moment. Wild and furious as was
the confusion, and running, over the way, we knew, well, it was the
wagoners and "bomb-proof" people, who were doing the running, and
stirring up the confusion. We knew they were not _all_ running away. We
had seen a good deal of artillery in that field, and we knew that we
should soon hear from them. And we were not mistaken!

In a few minutes the sound of our guns was suddenly varied by a sharp,
venomous screech, clap of thunder, right over our heads, followed by a
ripping, tearing, splitting crash, that filled the air; a regular blood
freezer. We knew _that sound_! It was a bursting Parrott shell from a
Federal gun! And they had the range.

The enemy had run out about eighteen, or twenty guns, and they let in,
mad as hornets. Another shell, and another, and another, came screaming
over us. Then they began to _swarm_; the air seemed full of
them,--bursting shells, jagged fragments, balls out of case-shot,--it
sounded like a thousand devils, shrieking in the air all about us. Then,
the roaring of our guns, the heavy smoke, the sulphurous smell, the
shaking of the ground under the thunder of the guns,--it was a fit
place for _devils_ to shriek in.

And how _hot_ it was! Twenty guns, in full fire, can make it hot at the
foot of the North Pole, and this was _not_ the North Pole! quite the
reverse. In addition to the battle heat, the sun was pouring down, hot
as blazes; and the labor of working a rapidly firing "Napoleon" gun,
with four men, in deeply plowed ground, and the strong excitement of
battle--altogether, it was the hottest place I ever saw, or hope I shall
_ever_ see, in this world, or in the world to come. It nearly melted the
marrow in our bones!

A persimmon sapling stood near our gun. It was trimmed, and chipped
down, twig by twig, and limb by limb, by pieces of shell, until it was a
lot of _scraps scattered over the ground_. Sam Vaden, as he passed me,
with a shell, said "Dame, just look back over this field behind us. A
mosquito couldn't fly across that field without getting hit." It looked
so! The dirt was being knocked up, wherever you looked, literally, by
_shower_ of balls, and shell fragments. It had the appearance of hail
striking on the surface of water, only it wasn't cold.

Well! for three mortal hours this battle raged. They hammered us, and we
hammered them. Occasionally, we saw a Federal caisson blown up, which
refreshed us, and several of their guns ceased firing--disabled or
cannoneers cleared out, we thought--and _this_ refreshed us. We wished
they would _all_ blow up, and stop shooting.

After we had been under fire sometime, with nobody hurt as yet, a
case-shot burst in front of us, and Hardy, who had just brought up a
shell, and was standing right by me, said, in his usual deliberate way,
"Dame, I'm hit, and hit very hard, I am afraid." "Where are you hit?" I
asked. He said, "I'm shot through the thigh, and the leg is numbed." I
fired the gun, and jumped down to see what I could do for him. I found
the place, and it looked ugly. There was a clean-cut hole right through
his pants, to the thickest part of the thigh. I put my finger into the
hole, and tore away the cloth to get at the wound, and found to my
great, and his _greater_ delight, that the ball had struck, and glanced.
It had made a long black bruise and the pain was much greater than if it
had gone through the leg. It had struck the great mass of muscle on the
outer thigh, and the leg was, for the time, paralyzed and stiff as a
poker. He was completely disabled. I said, "Bill, you must get right
away from here." "But I _can't_ walk a step." "Well crawl off on your
hands and your good foot, not a man could leave the gun, to help you,
and go out to the side so as to get soonest from under fire." So the
poor fellow hobbled off, as best he could, all alone, amidst the
laughter of the fellows at his novel locomotion. We could see the
bullets knocking up the dirt all around him, as he went slowly "hopping
the clods" across the plowed fields. But he got off all right. Shortly
after Hardy was struck, Charley Pleasants, of Richmond No. ------, at
the Third gun, was shot through the thigh. A long and tedious wound
which kept him disabled some months. Bill Hardy was back to duty in a
day or so. One of the horses, the off horse of the wheel team of our
limber, was hit, also. A piece of shell went into his head, between the
right eye and ear, cutting the brow band of the bridle. The old horse, a
character in the Battery, didn't seem to mind it; and he wore that piece
of shell, in his head, until the end of the war.

And, strange as it seemed, these were all our casualties, under that hot
fire; one man, seriously, and one slightly wounded and a horse slightly

=Wounding of Robert Fulton Moore=

No! I forgot! There was one other casualty,--Robert Fulton Moore was
mortally wounded, _in the hat brim_. And this gave rise to a most
amusing scene. Robert Fulton was a driver to the limber of the third
gun. He was a large, soft, man, and was, by no means, characterized by
soldierly bearing, or warlike sentiments. On the contrary, he was
something of a "butt," and was always desperately unhappy under fire. He
could dodge lower off the back of a horse at sound of a shell, than any
man living. His miraculous feats, in this performance, afforded much
diversion, whenever the guns went under fire, to us all, except his
Sergeant, Moncure, who was very much ashamed of it. Still, in a
general, feeble sort of way Robert Fulton had managed to keep up without
any flagrant act of flinching from his post. On this occasion he had
stood up better than usual. He stood holding his horses, and we noticed,
with pleasure, that he was behaving very well under fire. But, it seems,
his courage was only "hanging by the eyelids" so to speak.

Presently a piece of shell came whizzing very close to his head. It cut
away part of his hat brim, and alas! this was too much! Poor Robert
Fulton went all to pieces, instantly. Completely demoralized,
panic-stricken and frantic with terror, he dropped his reins, and struck
out wildly. It seems, he had seen Ellis, our lead driver, scooping out
the hole that has been referred to, and as this was the only hole of any
kind in reach, he instinctively struck for it. Ellis was lying down in
it, flat on his back, with his arms stretched upward, holding his
horses. Robert Fulton rounded the limber, and threw himself down with
all his weight, right upon, and completely covering up, Ellis, and stuck
his face in the dirt over Ellis' shoulder, effectually pinning him down.
Ellis was a fiery, ugly-tempered fellow, but as brave as Julius Cæsar,
and of all men in the battery he had the greatest contempt for Moore,
and especially for his present conduct. Ellis, upon finding Moore on top
of him, was in a perfect blaze of fury. The breath was nearly knocked
out of him by Moore's weight, and he was mashed into the narrow hole,
and embarrassed by the reins of his horses. He tried to throw Moore off,
and couldn't. Then he broke loose! He yelled, and swore, and bit, and
pulled Moore's hair, and socked his spurs into him, with both feet. He
would have broken a blood vessel if McCarthy, assisted by Moncure, who
had come to look after his driver, had not pulled Moore off, and taken
him back to his post.

Our attention was drawn to this scene by the noise. The terrific combat
going on in that hole, the sight of Ellis' legs and arms, tossing wildly
in the air, Moore not moving a muscle, but lying still, on top, the dust
kicked up by the fray,--it was more than flesh and blood could stand,
even under such a fire, and we could hardly work the guns for laughing.
After the fight, when Moore had time to look into his injuries, he found
that Ellis had nearly skinned him with his spurs. Some days after, we
heard Robert Fulton exhibiting his torn hat brim to some passing
acquaintance from his own neighborhood, as a trophy of his prowess in
this fight. No doubt he preserves it as a sacred relic yet.

=A Useful Discovery=

In this fight, necessity, the mother of invention, put us up to a device
that served us well here, and that we made fullest use of, in every
fight we had afterwards. When we had kept up that rapid fire, with a
scant gun detachment, in plowed ground, and under a hot sun, for an
hour, we were nearly exhausted. After Hardy was wounded, and left us, it
was still worse. The hardest labor, and what took most time, was running
up the guns from the recoil. We had stopped a moment to rest, and let
the gun cool a little, and were discussing the difficulties, when the
idea occurred to us. There was an old rail fence near by. Somebody said
"let's get some rails and chock the wheels to keep them from running
back." This struck us all as good, and in an instant we had piled up
rails behind the wheels as high as the trail would allow. The effect
was, that when the gun fired it simply jerked back against this rail
pile, and rested in its place, and so we were saved all the time and
labor of running up. We found that we could fire three or four times as
rapidly, in this way. So that a chocked gun was equal to four in a
fight. We found this simple device of immense service! We were told by
the knowing ones that we ran the greatest possible danger. The ordnance
people said that if a gun was not allowed to recoil it would certainly
burst. But we didn't mind! A device that saved so much labor, and
enabled us to deliver such an extraordinarily effective fire on the
battlefield, we were bound to try. We found it acted beautifully. We
then _knew_ the guns _wouldn't_ burst for we had tried it.

We used it afterward in every fight. The instant we were ordered into
position, two or three cannoneers would rush off and get rails, or a
log or two, to chock the guns. And on two or three very desperate
emergencies, during this campaign, this device enabled us to render very
important service. It made a battery equal to a battalion, and a good
many other batteries took it up, and used it. I believe it added greatly
to the effectiveness of our artillery in the close-range fighting of
this campaign.

Well! even with this relief, the labor of working our guns in this
furious and prolonged fight was fearful! At last the welcome order,
"Section cease firing" was given. We limbered up, and drew the guns a
short distance to the side, out of the line of fire, and utterly
exhausted, we cannoneers, threw ourselves right down on the plowed
ground beside the guns, and slept like the dead.

In the meantime, while we had been fighting out in that field, events
were taking place near us, of which we, absorbed in the work before us
and deafened by the roar of our guns, had taken little notice at the
time. As had been described, there was a body of woods some distance off
to our right, and another, to our left. When we went into position we
had not seen any of our troops, and did not know of the presence of any,
near us. We thought we were without support, but as I intimated some
time back, we were better off than we knew.

=Barksdale's Mississippi Creeper=

It seems, that before we came on the ground, Barksdale's Mississippi
Brigade, which had been marching behind us, had filed off the road, and
while we were up on the hill with the cavalry, had quietly, and silently
passed into that body of woods to our right, unseen by the enemy. Along
the front edge of that wood ran an old rail fence, covered all over with
the luxuriant vine known as "Virginia Creeper." Wide open fields
extending in front. Soon, the ground behind that fence was covered with
another sort of "creeper," not as good a "runner" as that on the fence,
nor as "green," but just as tough of fibre, and as hard to "hold on"
when it had once fixed itself,--the "_Mississippi_ Creeper." Silently,
as ghosts, the Brigade glided in behind that fence, and lay low, and
waited. Right here, was where the Federals' idea of _quietly_ occupying
the Spottsylvania line was going to prove a snare. They had not the
dimmest suspicion that we were ahead of them, and between them and that
line. They came on, with guileless confidence, and walked right into
trouble. Presently, a line of battle with columns of troops behind came
marching across the fields upon the concealed Mississippians. Nearer and
nearer they came, unsuspecting any danger, till they got nearly up to
the fence. One man had actually thrown his leg over the rail to mount.
Suddenly! as lightning out of a clear sky, a blinding sheet of flame
flashed into their very faces. Then, after one volley, swiftly came the
dreadful, venomous roll of musketry, the Mississippians loading and
firing "at will," every man as fast as he could. It was just as if "the
angel of death spread his wings to the blast and breathed in the face of
the foe as he passed."

That withering fire tore the ranks of that Division to pieces. It didn't
take those fellows half a second to decide what to do. With yells of
dismay, they charged back, out of that hornet's nest, as if the devil
was after them. In headlong rout, they rushed wildly back across the
fields, and disappeared in the woods beyond.

They left four hundred and two of their number in front of that fence,
and before the fugitives got out of range, their General of Division,
General Robinson, was seriously wounded.

Some of our men went out among the Federal wounded to do what they could
for their relief. An officer of a Mississippi Regiment came upon a
Federal Colonel who lay to all appearance mortally wounded, and gave him
a drink of water, and did what else he could for his comfort. The
Federal took out a fine gold watch, and said, "Here is a watch that I
value very highly. You have been very kind to me, and I would like you
to have it, as I am going to die. If I should get over this, and send to
you for it you will let me have it, if not, I want you to keep it. But,"
he said sadly, "my wound is mortal, I am obliged to die." The
Mississippian left him, and went back to his post, supposing him dead.

Many years after the war, the Mississippi officer was in Baltimore at
Barnum's Hotel. One day, he got into casual talk with a gentleman, at
dinner, and, as he seemed to be a good fellow, they smoked their cigars
together after dinner, and continued their conversation. By and by they
got on the war. It came out, that both of them had served, and on
opposite sides. Finally, in telling some particular incidents of his
experience, the Federal soldier described this very fight, his being, as
he thought mortally wounded, the kindness shown him by a Confederate
officer, and his gift to him, of his watch. The Southern man said, "What
is your name?" "Col. ----, of Robinson's Division," he replied. "Can
you be the man? Have I struck you at last?" cried the ex-Confederate.
"_I've_ got your watch, and here it is, with your name engraved in it."

=Kershaw's South Carolina "Rice Birds"=

It was a singular incident, that these two should meet again so! The
meeting was most cordial; the Federal was delighted to get his watch
again, made doubly valuable by so strange a history.

While this bloody episode was enacting by the Mississippi Brigade, in
the woods to our right, an almost exactly similar scene was going on, in
the woods to our left. A portion of Kershaw's South Carolina Brigade was
unwittingly stumbled upon by "Griffin's" Division in the pines. Another
complete ambuscade! The South Carolinians suddenly sprang up before the
Federals, let them have it, broke and routed them, and killed, and
wounded eighty-seven of them. Our loss was one man. Things were so
sudden, so close here, that one of Kershaw's men killed a Federal
soldier, and wounded another with an axe he happened to have in his

These first efforts of "Warren's" Corps that had gotten up near the
Spottsylvania line, "just in time to be too late," are thus described by
Swinton, the admirable historian of the "Army of the Potomac."
(Swinton's "Army of the Potomac," p. 443):

"Finally," he says, "the column (Warren's) emerged from the woods into a
clearing, two miles north of Spottsylvania Court House. Forming in line,
Robinson's Division advanced over the plain. Thus far, only Stuart's
dismounted troops had been encountered, and no other opposition was
anticipated; but when half way across the field, and on the point of
rising the crest, the troops were met by a savage musketry fire from
infantry. Owing to their severe experience in the Wilderness, and the
night march, without rest, the men were in an excited, and almost
frightened, condition, and the tendency to _stampede_ was so great that
General Warren had been compelled to go in front of the leading Brigade.
When, therefore, they received a fire in front, from the redoubtable foe
they had left in the Wilderness, the line wavered, and fell back in some
confusion. General Robinson was at the same time severely wounded,
which left the troops without their commander at a critical moment, and
they were with some difficulty rallied and reformed in the woods back of
the open plain. Griffin's Division, which advanced on the right of
Robinson, soon afterward received the same fire with a like result."

It seems then, that it was Robinson's Division that the little
Mississippi Brigade sent to the right about, and it was Griffin's
Division, who scared themselves nearly into fits, by flushing Kershaw's
"rice-birds," in the pines. It was a little hard on these "excited and
almost frightened" men of Warren's. The memory of the fearful shaking up
they had got, day before yesterday, was so fresh in their minds that
"General Warren himself, the _Corps Commander_, had to go in front of
the leading Brigade" to quiet their nerves, even when they thought they
were advancing upon a few dismounted troops. They thought,--a little
comfort in this,--that, at least, all those terrible fellows of the Army
of Northern Virginia were far behind them. And--to meet them _here_,
still, in front! It must be confessed it was hard! It was a very sad

It is said that General Grant's strained relations with General Warren
came of Warren's conduct of this move, to seize the Spottsylvania line.
He found great fault with his failure. But, perhaps he was a little hard
on Warren. What could Warren do? His men were demoralized, "excited,
almost frightened, tending to stampede, needing the Corps General to go
in front," and stopping to dine, instead of pushing on to seize the
line. They had to meet men who were not _particularly excited_, were not
_at all frightened_ and had not _the least tendency to stampede_; in
fact, were in the best of spirits, perfectly confident of victory, and
did not need _a corporal to go in front of them_, gaunt, hungry, cool
fellows, who never counted noses--in a fight!

It was too much to expect Warren, with men like his, to go anywhere, or
take anything, when men like these others were in the way. Grant was too
hard on Warren! If it took a _Corps Commander_, going in front, to
encourage them along to advance upon _a few troopers_. I hardly think
that Generals Grant and Meade, and President Lincoln, and Secretary
Stanton, _all together_,--going in front, could have got them up, _if
they had known who was actually ahead_.

However that may be, the object of our rapid all-night march, and of our
venturesome stand, out here, in front of the Spottsylvania line, was
accomplished! The stir up we gave them with that long artillery fire,
and the savage and bloody repulses of two of their divisions made them
more nervous than they were before. They spent some time considering who
it could be in their front, and considering what to do. Later on, two
more Divisions advanced, and our two Brigades and our guns retired.

Our work was done! While we had been out in front amusing the enemy, and
keeping them easy, the Brigades of Longstreet's Corps had been rapidly
coming up, and taking position on the all-important line. We now had a
_sure enough line of battle_ holding it. And night was falling; the
enemy out in front had stopped, and gone to intrenching, instead of
pushing on. We knew that during that night our people, Ewell and Hill,
would be up. All were safe! We slept the sleep of the weary. So ended
the 8th of May. It was a pretty full day for us!

I don't remember anything at all about the early morning of the next
day, the 9th. We were dreadfully tired, and I suppose we slept late, and
then lounged about, with nothing to do, yet, in a listless, stupid
state. Everything was quiet around us, and nothing to attract attention,
or fix it in mind. About mid-day, I recollect noticing bodies of troops,
a regiment, a brigade, or two, moving about, here and there, in various
directions. We heard that Ewell's and Hill's Corps had come up, and
these troops we saw, were taking their way leisurely, along, to the
various position on the line of battle.

In the afternoon, about four or five o'clock, our guns, the "Napoleon"
Section, moved off to take our destined position on the line. We
followed a farm road, off toward the left, and presently came down into
quite a decided hollow, through which ran a little stream of water.
Here we halted! The ground before us rose into a low short hill. Along
the ridge of that hill ran the proposed line of battle, and there was
the position for which we were making. There was quite a lively picket
fire going on, in different directions, and right over the hill, behind
which we were, an occasional shell could be heard screeching about, here
and there. Several passed over us, high above our heads, and away to the
rear. Federal Artillery lazily feeling about to provoke a reply, and
find out where somebody was. They felt lonesome, perhaps! It was a calm,
sweet sunlit May evening.

=Feeling Pulses=

In order not to expose us longer than necessary to this fire of the
pickets, Lieutenant Anderson, commanding this "Section," went up on the
hill, to select _exact_ position for the guns, so that they might be
promptly placed, when we went up. While he was up there reconnoitering,
we lay down on the ground, and waited, and talked. The bullets dropped
over, near, and among us, now and then, and we knew, that the moment we
went up a few steps, on the hill, we would be a mark for sharp-shooters,
a particularly unpleasant situation for artillery. But we tried to
forget all this, and be as happy and _seem_ as careless as we could. And
we would have gotten along very well if let alone. But, there was a
dreadful, dirty, snuffy, spectacled old Irishman, named Robert Close, a
driver, who took this interval to amuse himself. He would ask us "how we
felt," and he came around to most of us, young fellows, and asked us to
let him feel our pulse, and see if we were at all excited, or scared;
and he would put his hand on our hearts, to see if they were beating
regularly enough. And he would call out the result of his investigation
in each case,--the other fellows all sitting around, and eagerly waiting
his report. Nobody can tell what a dreadful trial this simple thing was!
When just going under fire--and indeed _already_ under some fire--to
have your heart and your pulse felt, and reported on to a waiting crowd
of comrades! But, all of us youngsters had to undergo it! That cruel,
old scoundrel went round to every one of the youngsters. It was an
unspeakable humiliation for a _cannoneer_ to be thus fingered by _a
driver_, but what could we do? Not a thing!

We would _have liked_ to knock the old rascal's head off, but, not one
of us would have dared to object to that pulse feeling, and we in turn
meekly held out our wrists, and _tried_ to look happy and amused--and
made a dismal failure of it. Old Close was as brave, himself, as a lion.
_He_ had as soon go in a fight as not; a little sooner! When balls
swarmed around, he didn't care a bit. He was in a position to do this
thing. But it was suffering to us. Each man waited, with anxious heart,
for his turn to come, for old Close to "pass upon his condition." Those
whom he approved, were pleased to death, and those whom he didn't, hated
him from that time.

I honestly believe that old Irishman gave me the worst scare I had in
that campaign, and I am sure that a compliment, on the field, from
General Longstreet himself, would not have pleased me more, than that
snuffy old fellow's verdict, after feeling my pulse that I "would do all
right." It was quite a curious scene altogether!

=Where the Fight Was Hottest=

In a few minutes Lieutenant Anderson came down and ordered us forward.
He told us "the sharp-shooters were making it a little warm" up there.
When the guns got to the top of the rise, they must go at a trot to
their positions, the sooner to get the horses from under fire. Twenty or
thirty steps brought us to the top of the sharp little ascent. Here we
found a few of our sharp-shooters exchanging compliments with the enemy,
and the balls were knocking up the dirt, and whistling around. I was
interested in watching one of our fellows. He was squatting down,
holding his rifle ready. A Federal sharp-shooter, whom we could not see,
was cracking at him. Three times a ball struck right by him, and came
whizzing by us. He kept still, and patiently bided his time. Suddenly,
he threw up his rifle and fired, and then exclaimed "Well! I got _you_
anyhow." The balls stopped coming. This man said that the concealed
Federal sharp-shooter had been shooting at him for some time and he had
been waiting for him. At last, catching sight of a head rising from
behind a bush, he got his chance, as we saw, and dropped his man. Our
guns were placed in their position, selected for them on the line, and
the horses sent back to the rear.

Our position here was right on the infantry line of battle. That is, on
that line the infantry afterwards took. For when we got on the spot,
there was no infantry there,--nothing except the sharp-shooters, already
referred to. The line was traced by a continuous pile of dirt thrown up,
I don't know by whom, before we got on the ground. I suppose the
engineers had it done as a guide to the troops, in taking position.

The position our guns now took, grew to be very familiar ground to us,
and remains very memorable. On this spot we stayed, and fought our part
in the Spottsylvania battles. On this spot we saw many bloody sights,
and witnessed many heroic scenes, and had many thrilling experiences.
The incidents of those days spent there, in nearly all their details,
are indelibly impressed on my memory, and are as fresh as if they
happened yesterday.

We stood on a low ridge which rose gradually to the right. To the left,
after running level for fifty yards, the ground fell rapidly away, until
it sank down into the valley of a little brook, one hundred and fifty
yards from us. Off to the left, in front, stretched a large body of
woods. To the right, in front, stood a body of thick pines coming up to
within two or three hundred yards of us, its edge running along to the
right about that distance parallel with our line. Directly in front of
us, the ground,--cleared fields about three or four hundred yards
wide,--sloped gently away down to a stream, and beyond, sloped gently
upward to the top of the hill, on which stood a farmhouse, and
buildings. That hill was considerably higher than our position, and
commanded it. That hill-top was about one-half to three-quarters of a
mile from us.

All along our front, in the bottom, ran a little stream; the ground, on
either side, in our immediate front, was swampy, and thickly covered
with low swamp growth. That soft ground saved us a good many hard knocks
we had plenty as it was! Behind us, our cleared ground ran back, very
gently sloping, almost level, some thirty or forty yards, and then, the
hill fell sharply down, some twenty yards to the little brook, which ran
along the hollow! This sharp bank, facing away from the enemy, and this
stream, protected by it, and so near us, proved a great comfort to us.
It also was of great service as a covered way, by which troops and
supplies (_ammunition_, while there, it did not seem to be considered
necessary for us to have any other supplies) were able to approach the
line. Once it proved of vital use as a cover behind which a broken
Brigade was able to rally, and save the line.

Exactly back of us, forty yards off, and covering that steep bank at
this one point, stood a body of large, tall trees,--pines and
others,--occupying half an acre. And in that wood, under the bank, some
of the fellows dug holes, and in them they built fires which, by one or
another, were kept up all the time. At these fires,--quite effectually
protected from shot and shell and bullets, though within forty yards of
the line of battle, a fellow could cook anything he happened, by
accident, to have, or slip back from the works, now and then, when not
engaged at the guns, warm himself and stand up straight, and stretch his
legs and back, without the imminent risk of being bored by a
sharp-shooter; which makes a stretch unsatisfactory.

Just at the point where we were posted, the line left the ridge, and
dipping a little, on the front face of the slope, ran along about
parallel with the ridge. My gun, "Number Four," stood exactly at the
point where the line declined in front of the ridge, and so, was exactly
in the infantry line. The "3d gun" was some ten yards to our left, on
the ridge seven or eight yards back of the line, and could fire over it
to the front. It had its own separate work.

It was about sunset when we got to our position. We unlimbered our guns,
and ran them up close to the bank of dirt, about two feet high, which we
found there, thinking that in case of a row, that would be some little
protection. However, things seemed quiet. We couldn't see any enemy from
where we stood, didn't know whether any force was near us. And after we
placed our guns, we strolled around, and looked about us, and were
disposing ourselves for a quiet night, and a good sleep, which we needed

Just then somebody, I think it was Lieutenant Anderson, who had walked
to the left, some distance, where he could see around the point of pine
woods to our right, up on the hill, came back with some news very
interesting to us, if not to our advantage. He said that, just beyond
these woods up on the hill, not over five or six hundred yards from us,
there was a lot of Federal artillery. He saw them plainly. They were in
position. He counted twelve guns, and was sure there were others,
farther around, which he could not see for the woods. At least six of
those, in sight, he was certain were twenty-pounder Parrotts. These
guns, he said, commanded our position, and while the enemy had not yet
seen us, for the treetops between, they soon would; and _anyhow_, the
moment we fired a shot, and disclosed our position, we would catch it.
There were enough heavy guns bearing down on us to sweep us off the face
of the earth, unless we were protected. If daylight found us unfortified
we couldn't stay there, so we had better go to throwing dirt.

=Against Heavy Odds at "Fort Dodge"=

Here was nice news! Our two Napoleons, right under the muzzles of twelve
or more rifled cannon, and six twenty-pounder Parrotts, and with no
works! This was pleasant advice to tired and sleepy men, who wanted to
go to bed. But such were the facts, and as we never had left a position
under fire, and had come to stay, and were _certainly going_ to stay,
we _went_ to throwing dirt.

We went to work, to raise and thicken the little bank already there, in
front of our gun, and to build a short "traverse" to the right, for
protection from enfilade fire. We worked all night, six of us, and by
morning we had a slight and rough artillery work, with an embrasure for
the gun; the whole thing about four feet high, and two and one-half feet
thick, at the top. It was the best that could be done by six, tired, and
hungry fellows, all young boys, working with two picks and three shovels
through a short night. Such as it was, we fought behind it, all through
the Spottsylvania battles, and it stood some heavy battering. This gem
of engineering skill,--by reason of the pretty constant courtesies we
felt it polite to pay to the unceasing attentions of our friends, the
enemy, for the next six days, in the shape of shells and bullets, we
called "Fort _Dodge_."

Just here, I take occasion to correct a very wrong impression about the
field works, the "Army of Northern Virginia" fought behind, in this
campaign. All the Federal writers who have written about these battles,
speak of our works as "formidable earthworks," "powerful
fortifications," "impregnable lines;" such works as _no troops_ could be
expected _to take_, and any troops could be expected _to hold_.

Now about the parts of the line distant from us, I couldn't speak so
certainly, though I am sure they were all very much the same, but about
the works all along _our part_ of the line I can speak with exactness
and certainty. I saw them, I helped, with my own hands, to make them. I
fought behind them. I was often on top of them, and both sides of them.
I know all about them. I got a good deal of the mud off them on
me,--(not for purposes of personal fortification, however).

Our "works" were, a single line of earth, about four feet high, and
three to five feet thick. It had no ditch or obstructions in front. It
was nothing more than a little heavier line of "rifle pits." There was
no physical difficulty in men walking right over that bank! I did it
often myself, saw many others do it, and twice, saw a line of Federal
troops walk over it, and then saw them walk _back_ over it, with the
greatest ease, at the rate of forty miles an hour; _i. e._, except those
whom we had persuaded to stay with us, and those whom the angels were
carrying to Abraham's bosom, at a still swifter rate. Works they could
go over like that couldn't have been much obstacle! They couldn't have
made better time on a dead level.

="Sticky" Mud and Yet More "Sticky" Men=

Such were our works _actually_! And still, they seemed to "loom largely"
to the people in front. I wonder what could have given them such an
exaggerated idea of the strength of those modest little works? I wonder
if it could have been the _men_ behind them? There were not a great many
of these men. It was a very thin gray line along there, back of a thin,
red line of clay. But these lines stuck together very hard, and were
very hard indeed to separate. The red clay was "sticky" and the men were
just as "sticky." And, as the two lines stuck together so closely, it
made the whole very strong indeed. Certainly, it seems they gave to
those who tried to force them apart, an impression of great strength!

Yes, it must have been the _men_. A story in point, comes to my aid
here. A handsome, well-dressed lady sweeps with a great air, past two
street boys. They are much struck. "My eye, Jim, but ain't that a
stunning dress?" Says Jim, with a superior air, "Oh get out, Bill, the
dress ain't no great shakes; it's the _woman_ in it that makes it so
'killing.'" That was the way with our Spottsylvania earthworks. The
works "wa'n't no great shakes." It was the _men_ in 'em, that made them
so "killing."

The men behind those works, such as they were, had perfect confidence in
their own ability to hold them. And this happy combination of "faith"
and "works" proved as strong against the world and the flesh, here, as
it does against the devil. It was perfectly effectual! It withstood all

This day, May 10th, to whose dawn we have now come, broke dark, and
lowering, very typical of the heavy cloud of war that was impending, and
soon burst upon us, in a fierce tempest, that was going to thunder, and
howl, and beat upon us, all day, and for days to come. This day was to
be an eventful, and memorable day to us,--crowded full of incident.

Some time during the night, while we were working like beavers on "Fort
Dodge," infantry had come in, on the line. Soon as they got there they
set in to do what we were doing, to raise, and thicken the line against
the coming of day, and the equally certain coming of battle. When the
day came they also, were ready.

=Gregg's Texans to the Front=

We had been too busy to think about them, at the time, but when we had
gotten done,--and had a little time to look about us, and day had
broken, and the fighting time, as we knew, was drawing near,--we took an
interest in that infantry. Artillerymen are always concerned in their
"supports," in a fight, and we wanted to know who these fellows were, on
whom we had to depend, as battle comrades, in the approaching struggle.
Our minds were quickly made perfectly easy on that score. We found we
had alongside of us "Gregg's" Texas Brigade,--the gallant, dashing,
stubborn fellows who had, as they jocularly said, "put General Lee under
arrest and sent him to the rear," and then, had so brilliantly, and
effectually, stopped Hancock's assault on Hill's right, at the
Wilderness. Better fellows to have at your back, in a fight, couldn't be
found! We knew _that part_ of the line was safe! We mingled together,
and chatted, and got acquainted, and swapped yarns about our several
adventures. We told them how particularly glad we were to have _them_
there, and our personal relations soon grew as cordial as possible.

Our service together on this spot, and our esteem of one another's
conduct in battle, made the Texans and the "Howitzers" ardent mutual
admirers, and fast friends, to the end. Never afterwards did we pass
each other, during the campaign, without hearty cheers, each, for the
other, and friendly greetings and complimentary references to the
"Spottsylvania lines." Gregg's Texans! Noble fellows! Better soldiers
never trod a battlefield. I saw them fight; I saw their mettle tried, as
by fire. They live in my memory as "the bravest of the brave." I hope
Texas is growing more like them!

=Breakfastless, But "Ready for Customers"=

Having got our Fort in shape, and refreshed ourselves a little with a
wash, at the stream back of us, and thinking how nice some breakfast
would be, if we had it, (which we _didn't_, not a crumb!) we got ready
for the business of the day. We sloped the ground downward to the works,
so that the guns would run easily; placed the gun, and saw that it could
poke its muzzle well over the dirt, and look around comfortably in every
direction; got some rails, and chocked her tight, so that she couldn't
run back. Then we got a lot of cartridges, and piled them down safely
behind the works, and in front of the guns, so that we could do very
rapid firing. Lieutenant Anderson called attention to the fact of these
pine woods, in front, which came up to within two or three hundred
yards, and that the enemy could get up very near us, under cover, before
they started to charge, and we would have to put in our work while they
were charging across the narrow open ground. "So," he said, "Have plenty
of 'canister' by your guns. Break loose some canisters from the powder,
so you can double-shot; you'll need it." We cannoneers had already
thought of this; the edge of that wood was in canister range, and we had
put little else but this short range missile in our pile; only a few
case-shots to make it lively for them in the woods before they came out,
and to follow them into the woods, when they were broken, and keep them
going. We were now all ready and waited for customers. They soon came!

It was still early in the morning, about five or six o'clock, and, as
yet, all was quiet in our front; we hadn't even seen a Federal soldier.
Suddenly! out of the woods to our right, just about five hundred yards
in front, appeared the heads of three heavy blue columns, about fifty
yards apart, marching across the open field toward our left. Here was
impudence! Infantry trying to cross our front! _That's_ the way it
seemed to strike our fellows. I don't know whether they knew our guns
were there, but we took it for an insult, and it was with a great deal
of personal feeling, we instantly jumped to our guns and loaded with
case-shot. Lieutenant Anderson said, "Wait till they get half way across
the field. You'll have more chance at them before they can get back
into those woods." We waited, and soon they were stretched out to the
middle of the field. It was a beautiful mark! Three, heavy well closed
up columns, fifty yards apart, on ground gently sloped upward from us,
lovely for ricochet shots,--with their flanks to us, and in easy range.
Dan McCarthy went up to Ned Stine, our acting gunner, who was very deaf,
and yelled in his ear, loud enough for the Federals to hear, "Ned, aim
at the nearest column, the ricochet pieces of shell will strike the
columns beyond." "All right," he bawled back, with his head on one side,
"sighting" the gun. "I've got sight on that column, now. Ain't it time
to shoot?" This instant Anderson sung out, "Section commence firing! and
get in as many shots as you can before they get away." "Yes," shouted
Dan, "Fire!" "Eh?" said Ned, putting his hand up to his ear, "What did
you say?" "I said Fire! you deaf old fool--Fire!" the last, in a tone
calculated for a mile and a half. This fetched him. Ned threw up his
hands (the gunner's signal to fire) and we let drive. All Ned wanted was
a start, he was only slow in hearing. He jumped in now, and we kept that
gun blazing almost continuously. It was the first time Stine had acted
gunner, and he did splendidly here, and until Dibbrell, our gunner, got

Our first shot struck right in the nearest column, and burst, and we
instantly saw a line opened through all three columns, and a great deal
of confusion. The shot from the "Third Piece" struck at another point,
and burst, just right for effect. I am sure not a single shot missed in
that crowd, and we drove them in just as fast as we could. The columns
were pretty badly broken, and in two minutes, they were rapidly crossing
back into that woods, out of which they had come, and disappeared. The
Texans were greatly pleased with this performance. Having nothing to do,
as the enemy was out of effective rifle range, they stood around, and
watched us work the guns, and noticed, with keen interest, the effect of
our shots upon the blue columns, and they made the welkin ring, when the
Federals turned to retire.

=Parrott's Reply to Napoleon's Twenty to Two=

In a minute or two we received notice of our work from another quarter.
That artillery, up there on the hill, beyond the woods, woke up. They
got mad at our treatment of their infantry friends, furiously mad.
"Boom" went a loud report, over the way, and, the same instant, a savage
shriek right over our heads, of a twenty pounder Parrott shell. Another
followed, another, and another. They began to rain over. We could detect
the sound of different shells, three inch rifle, ten pounder Parrott,
and twenty pounder Parrott.

Some fifteen or twenty guns joined in, and they hammered away most
savagely. Most fortunately the treetops of that wood, out in our front,
came up just high enough to conceal us from the enemy. They could see
our smoke, and knew just _about_ our position, but they could not
_exactly see us_, and correct their aim by the smoke of their shells. So
they could not get the _exact_ range. And that makes a great difference,
in artillery firing, as it does in a great many other things. To know
_just about_ and to know _exactly_, are two very different things in
effect, and in satisfaction to the worker. If those people could have
_seen_ our two guns, I suppose they could have smashed them both, and
killed, or wounded every man of us, and their columns could have moved
across our front, in peace, and accomplished this movement they were
trying to get across them for, and about which they seemed very anxious.
As it was, neither man, nor gun, of ours, was touched, though it was hot
as pepper all around there; and our guns stuck there a thorn in their
sides, and broke up that movement altogether.

It seems that those columns were a part of Warren's Corps, and were
trying to push into an interval between our Corps, and A. P. Hill's
Corps, which, under command of General Jubal Early (Hill being very
sick) began just on our left, our position being on the left of
Longstreet's line, near its junction with Hill's. This infantry was
pushing across our front to get into that gap, and make it hot for "Old
Jubal" over there in the woods. But, in order to get to that gap, they
were forced to pass close to us, and across that open field.

Now, at once, to insult us, and to hurt our friends, was a move that we
didn't at all approve, and were not going to stand. And as soon as we
discovered the meaning of this move, we were very earnest to stop it.

Well! we had stopped it once, and driven back the Federal columns of
attack. It remained to see what they were going to do about it. The
Federal artillery thundered at us through the trees. We quietly sat and
waited to see.

In about half an hour, (I suppose they thought we were pulverized by the
fire their guns had been pouring upon us,) we saw those three infantry
columns pouring out of the woods again, at a quick step. We manned the
guns, and waited as before, till they reached the middle of the field.
Then we began to plow up the columns with shrapnel. This time some of
our infantry tried and found it in range for their muskets and they
adjusted their rifle sights and took careful aim, with a rest on the top
of the works. Soon, the columns faltered, then stopped, then broke, and
made good time back to their woods. We could see their officers trying
to rally them, but they refused to hear "the voice of the charmer." Soon
they disappeared!

Then the artillery began to pour in their shells on us more furiously
than ever! The air around us was kept in a blaze, and a roar of bursting
shells, and the ground, all about, was furrowed and torn. We quietly
sat behind our works, and interchanged our individual observations on
what had just taken place, and waited for further developments.

The two rifled pieces of our Battery, and the other rifled guns of our
Battalion, "Cabells," had been laced in position, on a hill half a mile
back of, and higher, than the low hill on which we were. The plan was
for these long range guns to fire over our heads, at the enemy. We
suspected that when that Federal infantry next tried to pass us, they
would try to make a rush. So Lieutenant Anderson sent back to the other
guns, calling attention to this probability, and suggesting that they
should be on the lookout, and reinforce our fire, and try, also, to
divert the Federal artillery, a little. We thought that with eight or
ten rifled guns, added to the fire of ours, and what the infantry could
do, we could sicken that Federal infantry of the effort to get by.

Presently we noticed the fire of the Federal guns increase in violence
to a marked degree. At this savage outburst, Lieutenant Anderson said,
"Boys, get to your guns, that infantry will try to get across under
cover of this." We sprang to the guns, and sure enough, in a minute,
those blue columns burst out of the woods at a double quick. "Open on
them at once men. We can't let them get a start this time," shouted
Anderson. Both guns instantly began to drive at the head of their

The sound of our guns started our rifle guns on the hill behind. They
opened furiously, and we could hear their shells screeching over our
heads, on into this enemy's columns. We did our best, and the Texans did
what musket fire they could. The enemy still advanced at a run, but this
storm was too much for them. Their columns were torn to pieces, were
thrown into hopeless confusion. They had, by this time, gotten half way
or more across the field, and they made a gallant effort to keep on, but
torn and storm-beaten as they were, they could not stand. The crowd
broke and parted. A few ran on across to the farther woods, and were
captured by Hill's men. The rest, routed and scattered, ran madly back
to the cover they had left. This gave them enough! They gave up the
attempt, and tried it no more.

We thought that Hill's Corps "owed us one" for this job. We certainly
saved them a lot of trouble by thus protecting their flank. They had to
stand a heavy assault by Hancock's Corps, and had very hot work as it
was. If these strong columns, that we were taking care of, had gotten
into that gap, and taken them at disadvantage, they would have had a
hard time, to say the least. Our work left them to deal with Hancock's
Corps alone, which they did to their credit, and with entire success, as
will appear.

That little scheme of our long-range guns on the hill behind, firing
over our heads at the enemy acted very well, for a while. It came to
have its very decided inconvenience to _us_, as well as to the enemy.
When the Federal infantry had retired, those guns turned their fire on
the Federal artillery which was hammering us. They meant to divert their
attention, and do us a good turn. They had better have left us to "the
ills we had." Their line of fire, at that artillery, was exactly over
our position. Very soon their shells got tired travelling over, and
began to stop _with us_. Our Confederate shells were often very badly
made, the weight in the conical shells not well balanced. And so, very
often, instead of going quietly, point foremost, like decent shells,
where they were _aimed_, they would get to _tumbling_, that is, going
end over end, or "swappin' ends" as the Tar Heels used to describe it,
and _then_, there was no telling _where_ they would go, except that they
would _certainly go wrong_. And, they went very wrong, indeed, on this
occasion, in our opinion.

The sound of a tumbling Parrott shell in full flight, is the most
horrible noise that ever was heard!--a wild, venomous, fiendish scream,
that makes every fellow, in half a mile of it, feel that it is looking
for _him particularly_, and _certain_ that it's _going to get him_. I
believe it would have made Julius Cæsar, himself, "go for a tree," or
want to, anyhow!

Well! these blood-curdlers came crashing into us, from the rear,
knocking up clouds of dirt, digging great holes, bursting, and raining
fragments around us in the field. We were not firing, and had leisure
to realize the fix we were in. With the enemy hotly shelling us from the
front, and our friends from the rear, obliged to stay by our guns,
expecting an infantry assault every minute, we certainly were in a
pretty tight fix, "'Tween the devil and the deep sea."

It was the only time I ever saw Lieutenant Anderson excited under fire,
but he was excited _now_, and mad too. He said to one of the fellows,
"Go back under the hill, get on a horse, ride as hard as you can, and
tell those men on the hill, what confounded work they are doing, and if
they fire any more shells, here, I will open on them immediately." In a
few minutes it was stopped, with many regrets on the part of our

=The Narrow Escape of an Entire Company=

In the midst of all this, an incident took place that created a great
deal of amusement. Along the line, just back of and somewhat protected
by the works, the Texans had pitched several of the little "shelter
tents" we used to capture from the enemy, and found such a convenience.
One of these stood apart. It had a piece of cloth, buttoned on the back,
and closing that end up to about eighteen inches from the top, leaving
thus, a triangular hole just under the ridge pole. In this little tent
sat four men, a captain and three privates, all that were left of a
Company in this Texan Brigade. These fellows were playing "Seven-up"
and, despite the confusion around, were having a good time. Suddenly,
one of the shells from the hill behind, struck, tumbled over once or
twice, and stopped, right in the mouth of that tent, the fuse still
burning. The game stopped! The players were up, instantly. The next
moment, one fellow came diving headforemost out of that triangular hole
at the back, followed fast by the other three--the captain last. It only
took "one time and one motion" to get out of that. Soon as they could
pick themselves up, they, all four, jumped behind a tree that stood
there; and then, the fuse went out, and the shell didn't burst.
Everybody had seen the shell fall, and were horror stricken at the
apparently certain fate of those four men. Now, the absurdity of the
scene struck us all, and there were shouts of laughter at their expense.
Despite their sudden, hasty retreat through that narrow hole everyone of
the scamps had held on to his "hand," and they promptly kicked the shell
aside, crawled into the tent again, and continued their little game;
interrupted, however, by jokes from all sides. It was very funny! The
smoking shell, in front, and those fellows shooting through that hole at
the back, and alighting all in a heap, and then the scramble for that
tree. As the shell went out, it was a roaring farce. If it hadn't, it
would have been a tragedy. The Captain said that these three men were
his whole company, and when that lighted shell struck, he thought that
his company was "gone up" for good and all.

Such was about the size to which some of the companies of this Texan
Brigade was reduced.

Well! after we got rid of those shells from the rear we didn't so much
mind the artillery fire from the front, which kept up more or less
through the morning.

What with the wet, cheerless weather, and the mental discomfort of
staying in a place where they were "shooting cannons" at us, and other
kind of shooting might soon be expected, two of our men got sick, and
went back to the position of our guns on the hill in the rear. The
Captain appealed to them to go back, but their health was bad, and they
didn't think the place where we were, _a health resort_. So Captain
McCarthy called for volunteers to take their places, and instantly John
W. Page, and George B. Harrison, of the First Detachment, offered, and
came over to us.

=Successive Attacks by Federal Infantry=

Up to this time we had seen no infantry since their columns had tried to
cross our front. No attack had been made on us and all seemed quiet out
in front, except that artillery. But, out of our sight, over behind the
woods, the enemy was conspiring to break up our quiet in the most
decided manner. About ten o'clock we suddenly caught sight of a confused
appearance down through the woods on our right front. It quickly defined
itself as a line of battle, rapidly advancing. Our pickets fired upon
it, then ran back over the works into our line. The Texans sprang into
rank, we jumped to our guns, and sent a case-shot tearing down through
the woods. Next instant, the Federal line dashed, cheering, out of the
edge of the woods, and came charging at us. As they dashed out, they
were met by a furious storm of bullets, and cannister, which at two
hundred yards tore their ranks. They got about a hundred yards under
that fire, then began to falter, then stopped, tried to stand for a
moment, then with their battle line shot all to pieces, they turned and
broke for the woods in headlong rout. We did our best to help them
along, shooting at them with case-shot as long as we could catch any
glimpse of them, moving back through the trees. Then that Federal
artillery got savage again. We lay low and waited for some more

Very soon, here they came again! another line charging on, only to meet
the same fate; shattered lines, hapless disorder, bloody repulse, and
rapid retreat. Several times they tried to reach our lines, and every
time failed, then gave it up for the time.

These various assaults took up the time, I should say from ten-thirty to
twelve o'clock. When they were over, the field, and wood in front of us
displayed a most dreadful scene. The field was thickly strewn with the
dead, and wounded. And just along the edge of the wood, where the
advancing lines generally first met our full fire, in the several
assaults, the dead lay so thick and in such regular order, that it
looked to us like a line of battle, lying down. And the poor wounded
fellows lying thickly about! It was frightful to see and to hear them.
It was a bloody business, their oft-repeated effort to take our line.
Their loss was very severe, ours was almost nothing. The Texan Brigade
in all their assaults had several wounded, none killed; at our guns not
a man was hurt.

One thing that struck me in that fighting was the utter coolness of the
Texan infantry. I watched the soldier next to my gun, and can never
forget his bearing. The whizzing bullets, the heavy storming columns
pouring upon us, the yells and cries of the combatants were enough to
excite anybody, but this fellow was just as easy and deliberate as if he
had been shooting at a mark. He would drop the butt of his musket on the
ground and ram down a cartridge, raise the piece to his hip, put on a
cap, cock the hammer, and then, slowly draw the gun up to his eye, and
shoot. I really don't think that Texan fired a shot that day until the
sight on his gun covered a Federal soldier, and I think it likely he hit
a man every time he shot. It was this sort of shooting that made the
carnage in front so terrible.

And what a confident lot they were! After one or two of these lines had
been repulsed, as the enemy were advancing again, you could hear the men
in the line calling one to another, "Say, boys, don't shoot so quick
this time! Let them get up closer. Too many of them get away, when you
start so soon." Truly they were the unterrified! Our line was so thin;
those storming lines of blue as they came storming on seemed _heavy_
enough to roll over us like a tidal wave. Yet it never seemed to occur
to these fellows that they might be run over. Their only thought was to
"let them get up closer next time." Their only concern was that "too
many of them were getting away." Good men, they were, to hold a line!

_At last_, this furious attempt, by Warren and Hancock, to force our
position ceased. And as we saw, out in front, the heavy losses of the
enemy, and still had every one of our men ready for duty, we thought
"_we_ could stand this sort of thing, if _they_ could, and just as long
as they chose to keep on." They lost in dead and wounded about twelve
hundred men to about four of ours. Certainly, we could stand it! So we
piled some more canister in front of our guns, and watched to see what
they would do next.

The long hours crept on until three o'clock,--when the warming up of the
Federal artillery fire warned us of another attack. Soon came another
stubborn assault by Warren's Corps. Same result. Line after line pushed
out from the woods, only to be hurled back, bleeding and torn, leaving
on the field large additions to the sad load of dead, and wounded, with
which it was already encumbered. They effected nothing! Very little loss
to us, heavy loss to them. We were using double shot of canister nearly
every time, on masses of men at short range; the infantry fire was rapid
and deadly. Our fire soon swept the front clear of the enemy. We piled
up more canister, and waited again.

There was now an interval of comparative quiet. We could walk around,
and talk, and look about us, a little. Now and then a bullet struck the
ground close to us, and presently one of the infantry was struck
slightly. It was plain that a concealed sharp-shooter had our range, and
we began to watch for him. Soon one of us caught a glimpse of him; he
was up a tree some distance out in front, and he would cautiously edge
around the trunk and fire, dodging back behind the trunk to load again.
One of the Texans went over the works, and stole from stump to stump off
toward the left, and for some time was out of our sight. Presently, we
saw that sharp-shooter slyly stealing around the tree, and raise his
rifle. The next instant, we saw a puff of smoke from a bush, off to the
left, and that sharp-shooter came plunging down, headforemost out of the
tree, dead as Hector. Our man had crept round so that when the Federal
slid around the tree, he exposed his body, and the Texan shot him.

Robert Stiles, the Adjutant of the Battalion, who had been, until
lately, a member of our Battery, and was very devoted to it, and his
comrades in it, had come to the lines to see how we were getting on, and
gave us news of other parts of the line. He, Beau Barnes, and others of
us were standing by our guns, talking, when a twenty pounder Parrott
shell came grazing just over our guns, passed on, and about forty yards
behind us struck a pine tree, about two and a half to three feet in
diameter. The shell had turned. It struck that big tree sideways, and
cut it entirely off, and threw it from the stump. It fell in an upright
position, struck the ground, stood, for an instant, and then, came
crashing down. It was a very creepy suggestion of what that shell might
have done to one of us. A few moments after another struck the ground
right by us and ricochetted. After it passed us, as was frequently the
case, we caught sight of it, and followed its upward flight until it
seemed to be going straight up to the sky. Stiles said "There it goes as
though flung by the hand of a giant." Beau Barnes, who was _not_
poetical, exclaimed, "Giant be darned; there ain't any giant can fling
'em like that." He was right!

Strange how the most trivial incidents keep their place in the memory,
along with the great events, amidst which they occurred! I remember the
fall of that tree, and the remark about that shell, and a small piece of
pork which an Arkansas soldier gave me, and which, in jumping to the
guns, I dropped into a mudhole, and never found again, though I fished
for it diligently in the muddy water, and a _pig_, which was calmly
rooting around near our guns, under fire, and which we watched, hoping
he would be hit, so that we could get his meat, before the infantry did,
to satisfy our wolfish hunger, just as distinctly as the several fierce
battles which were fought that day.

About five o'clock the Federal guns on the hill in our front broke out
again into a furious fire. It was a warning! We knew it meant that the
infantry were about to charge again. We got to our guns, and the Texans
stood to their arms. It seems that the balance of Hancock's Corps had
got up, and now, with Warren's, and part of Sedgwick's Corps, formed in
our front, Grant was going to make the supreme effort of the day, to
break our line.

_What we saw_ was that far down in the woods, heavy columns of men were
moving; the woods seemed to be full of them. The pickets, and our guns
opened on them at once. The next moment they appeared, three heavy lines
one close behind the other. As they reached the edge of the woods, our
lines were blazing with fire. But on they came! The first line was cut
to pieces, only to have its place taken by the next, and then, the next.
Closer and closer to our guns they pressed their bloody way, until they
were within fifty yards of us. Heavens! how those men did strive, and
strain to make their way against that tempest of bullets and canister!
It was too much for man to do! They stopped and stayed there, and fired
and shouted, under our withering fire. The carnage was fearful. Their
men were being butchered! Their lines had all fallen into utter
confusion. They could not come on! Despair suddenly seized them! The
next moment a panic stricken cloud of fugitives was fast vanishing from
our view, and the ground over which they had charged was blue with
corpses, and red with blood.

=Eggleston's Heroic Death=

Just here, we of the "Howitzer" suffered our first, and only, loss in
this day's fighting. Cary Eggleston, "No. 1" at third gun, had his arm
shattered, and almost cut away from his body, by a fragment of shell. He
quietly handed his rammer to John Ayres, who that instant came up to the
gun, and said, "Here Johnny, you take it and go ahead!" Then, gripping
his arm with his other hand, partly to stop the fast flowing blood, he
turned to his comrades, and said in his jocular way, "Boys, I can never
handle a sponge-staff any more. I reckon I'll have to go to teaching
school." Then he stood a while, looking at the men working the gun. They
urged him to go to the rear; he would not for a while. When he consented
to go, they wanted to send a man with him, but he refused, and walked
off by himself. As he passed back an infantry officer, seeing what an
awful wound he had, and the streaming blood, insisted that one of the
men should go and help him to the hospital. "No," he said; "I'm all
right, and you haven't got any men to spare from here." So, holding his
own arm, and compressing the artery with his thumb, he got to the

His arm was amputated, and a few days after, as the battery passed
through Spottsylvania Court House, we went by the Court House building,
used as a hospital, where he lay on the floor, and bade him "good-bye."
He was just as cheerful, and bright, as ever, and full of eager interest
in all that was going on. Said "Since he had time to think about it, he
believed he _could_ handle a sponge-staff _with one hand_; was going to
practice it soon as he could get up, and would be back at his post
_before long_." The next day, the brave young fellow died. The
"Howitzers" will always remember him tenderly. No braver, cooler warrior
ever lived! Always bright, full of fun in camp, and on the march, he was
at the gun in action, the best "No. 1" I ever saw. One of the few men I
ever knew who really seemed to enjoy a fight. His bearing, when he was
wounded, was simply _heroic_. No wounded knight ever passed off his last
battlefield in nobler sort. All honor to his memory!

John Ayres, the fellow to whom Cary Eggleston handed his rammer, was at
his home in Buckingham County, Virginia, on furlough, when we started on
the campaign. Off in the remote country, he didn't hear of our movements
for several days. The moment he heard it, off he started, walked
thirteen miles to the James River Canal boat; got to Richmond, came up
to Louisa County on the Central Railroad, got off and walked
twenty-three miles across country, guided by the sound of the battle,
and reached his gun just in time to take Eggleston's place as "No. 1"
and finish the fight.

When the enemy had thus broken in such utter rout, and with such fearful
losses, we did hope they would let us alone, for this day at least. We
were wet, and hungry, and nearly worn out working the gun, off and on
all day, and it was late in the afternoon. For an hour or more things
were quiet; the woods in front seemed deserted and still; the Texans
were lying stretched out on the ground, all along the line; many of them
asleep. We cannoneers were wearily sitting about the guns, wishing to
gracious we had something to eat, and could go to bed, even if the _bed
were_ only one blanket, on the wet ground.

Our rifled guns had just been firing at a Federal battery which we could
see, up on the hill in front of us. Watching the effect of the shots, we
saw one of the caissons blown up, and a gun disabled, and soon
confusion. Somebody remarked, "how easy it would be to take that
battery, if any of our infantry were in reach." Just then, we heard loud
cheering, which sounded to us, to be up in the woods, on our left, where
Hill's men were. Someone instantly cried out, "There it goes now! Hill's
men are going to take those guns." We eagerly gathered at the works,
some distance to the left of our guns, where we could see better, and
stood gazing up at the edge of the field, expecting every moment to see
Hill's troops burst out of the woods, and rush upon these guns. Our
attention was absorbed, off there, when, all of a sudden, one of our
fellows who happened to glance the other way, yelled, "Good heavens!
look out on the right." We all looked! There, pouring out of the woods,
yelling like mad men, came the Federal infantry, fast as they could run,
rushing straight upon our line. The whole field was blue with them! When
we first saw them, the foremost were already within one hundred yards of
our works, and aiming for a point about two hundred yards to our right.
The breath was about knocked out of us by the suddenness of the
surprise! It was not Hill's men charging _them_, but these fellows
charging us,--whose yells we had heard, and here they were, right upon
us! In two jumps we were at our gun. We had to turn it more to the
right, and, with the first shot, blow away a light traverse, which was
higher than the level of the gun, before we could bear on their columns.
We sent two or three canisters tearing through their ranks; the Texans
were blazing away, but, they had got too close to be stopped. The next
instant, they surged over our works like a great blue wave, and were

="Texas Will Never Forget Virginia"=

So sudden was the surprise that they bayonetted two of the Texan
infantry, asleep upon the ground. Soon as they got over they turned, and
began to sweep down the works, on the inside, upon our guns. As the
Texans forced to retire streamed past our guns, leaving us all alone
and unsupported to face the enemy, Lieutenant Anderson said, "Men, the
road is only a little way back of us; we must stay here, and stop these
people, or the Army is cut in two. Run the guns back and open on them.
We can hold them until help comes." We turned the guns round so as to
command the approaching enemy, and chocked them with rails; several men
snatched up the pile of ammunition, and piled it down before the guns in
their new place, then we opened, with double canister.

If ever two guns were worked for all they were worth, those were! I
don't believe any two guns, in the same time, ever fired as many shots
as those two "Napoleons" did. We kept them just _spouting canister_!
Several times _three canisters_ were fired. Billy White, "No. 2," had
only to reach down for them, and he would have loaded the guns _to the
muzzle_ if "No. 1" had given him time. The gun got so hot that, once, in
jumping in to put in the friction primer, the back of my left hand
touched it, and the skin was nearly taken off. The sponge was entirely
worn off the rammer, so "No. 1" stopped sponging out the gun, and only
rammed shot home. We fired so fast that the powder did not have time to
ignite in the gun. After firing the gun, "No. 4" could hardly get the
"primer" in before the gun was loaded, and ready to fire again. So it
went on! It was fast and furious work! And the bullets sounded like bees
buzzing above our heads.

I felt a sharp pain, then a numbness in my right hand. I glanced at it,
and saw that the back of it was cut open, and bleeding. I had to pull
the lanyard with my left hand the rest of the fight. I supposed a bullet
had done it, but was disgusted to see blood on one of the rails, which
chocked our gun, and find that this rail had worked loose, and, when
struck by the recoiling gun wheel, had flown round and struck my hand,
and disabled it. So, it was not an "honorable" wound, even though
received in battle, as it was not done by a missile of the enemy.

Minute after minute, this hot work went on. The enemy, in coming over
our works, and sweeping around, was thrown into disorder, so that they
advanced on us in a confused mass.

In this mass our canister was doing deadly work, cutting lanes in every
direction. Still on they came; getting slower in their advance as the
canister constantly swept away the foremost men. The men in front began
to flinch, they were within thirty yards of us,--firing wildly now. One
good rush! and their bayonets would have silenced our guns! But they
could not face that hail of death any longer; they could not make that
rush! They began to give back from our muzzles.

At that moment, the Texans having rallied under the bank, forty yards to
our right, and rear, came leaping like tigers upon their flank. The
Texans were perfectly furious! It was the first time during the whole
war that they had been forced from a position, under fire, and they were
mad enough to eat those people up. A screaming yell burst out, a
terrific outbreak of musketry, a rush, with the bayonets, and the inside
of our work was clear of all, save the many dead, and wounded, and six
hundred prisoners.

We ran our gun instantly back to its place, in the works, and got
several shots into the flying mob, outside.

Then all was gone, and we were ready to drop in our tracks, with the
exhausting work of the ten minutes that we had held the foe at bay.

General Gregg came up to our gun. With strong emotion he shook hands
with each of us; he then took off his hat, and said, "Boys, Texas will
never forget Virginia for this! Your heroic stand saved the line, and
enabled my brigade to rally, and redeem its honor. It is the first time
it ever left a position under fire, and it was only forced out, now, by
surprise, and overwhelming weight. But it could not have rallied except
for you. God bless you!" This moment Bob Stiles came up at a run. He had
left the guns a few moments before the attack came, and hearing our guns
so busy came back.

When General Gregg told him in a very enthusiastic way what we had done,
he just rushed up to each cannoneer, and hugged him with a grip, strong
enough to crush in his ribs, and vowed he was going to resign his
Adjutancy at once, and come back to the guns.

Pretty soon Major-General Field, commanding part of the line, came
dashing up on his horse, and leaped off. He went round shaking hands
with us, and saying very civil things. He was red hot! He had witnessed
the whole thing from his position, on a hill near by. He said, "When he
saw the Federals roll over our works, and the Texans fall back, he was
at his wits' end. He did not have a man to send us, and thought the line
was hopelessly broken." Then he saw us turn our two guns down inside the
works. He said to his courier, "It isn't possible these fellows will
even attempt to keep their guns there. The enemy will be over them in
two minutes." But as our guns roared, and the enemy slowed down, he
swung his hat, as the courier told us, and yelled out, "By George, they
will do it!" and clapping spurs into his horse he came tearing over to
find the Texans in their line, all solid again. He said to us, "Men, it
was perfectly magnificent, and I have to say that your splendid stand
saved the Army from disaster. If the line had been broken here I don't
know what we should have done."

Of course all this was very nice to hear. We tried to _look_ as if we
were _used to this sort of thing all the time_. But, it was something
for us, young chaps, to have our hands shaken nearly off, by
enthusiastic admirers, in the shape of Brigadier and Major-Generals,
especially as they were such heroic old veterans as Field and Gregg,
and to have the breath hugged out of us by an old comrade. All this
glory was only to be divided up among _nine men_, so there was a big
share for each one. I must confess, it was very pleasant indeed to hear
that men, who were judges, thought we had done a fine thing; and when in
General Orders next day our little performance was mentioned to the
whole army in most complimentary terms, and we knew that the folks at
home would hear it, I am free to say, that we would _not_ have "taken a
penny for our thoughts."

=Contrast in Losses and the Reasons Therefor=

The fight was over, just about as dusk was closing in. In this, and the
fight at five o'clock, the enemy lost about six thousand men, killed and
wounded. In the assaults, at _ten_, _eleven_ and at _three_ o'clock,
they certainly lost between two and three thousand in killed and
wounded, so this day's work cost them about seven or eight thousand in
killed and wounded, besides prisoners.

Our loss was very small. On our immediate part of the line, almost
nothing. In the battery, we had one man wounded at five o'clock. In this
furious close up fight with infantry, with the awful mauling our guns
gave them, strange to say, we had not a man touched. The only blood shed
that day, at the "4th" gun, was caused by that rail striking my hand.
And our battle line was just as it was, in the morning, save for the
hecatomb of dead and dying in front of it, and six hundred prisoners we
held inside.

About these prisoners: Numbers of these men were drunk, and officers
too. One Colonel was so drunk that he did not know he was captured, or
what had happened. The explanation of this fact, I do not profess to
know, but _this_ was what _the men themselves told us_, "That before they
charged, heavy rations of whiskey were issued, and the men made to drink
it. I know that indignant denial has been made of this charge, that the
Federal soldiers were _made drunk_ to send them in, but _this_ I do
_certainly know_, as an eye witness, and hundreds of our men know it
too, that here, on the Spottsylvania line, and at Cold Harbor, and other
times in this campaign, we captured numbers of the men, assaulting our
lines, who were very drunk, and said they were made to drink. And this
fact is one reason for the carnage among them, and the light loss they
inflicted upon us. It made their men shoot wildly, and the moment our
men saw this, they could, with the cooler aim, send death into their
ranks. These hundreds of men going, _drunk_, to face death was a
horrible sight; it is a horrible thought, but _it was a fact_.

=Why Captain Hunter Failed to Rally His Men=

In the quiet time, just before that sudden rush which swept over the
works, Captain Hunter, of the Texans, was frying some pieces of fat
bacon in a frying pan, over a little fire just by our gun. In a flash,
the enemy was over the work, and we were in the thick of battle, and
confusion. The Captain glanced from his frying bacon, to see his company
falling back from the works, and the enemy pouring over. The sudden
sight instantly drove him wild with excitement! He utterly forgot what
he was doing. With a loud yell, he swung that frying pan round and round
his head,--the hot grease flying in all directions,--and rushed to his
men, and tried to rally them. (Having _lost the meat_, he _failed_! With
a frying pan full of meat he could have rallied the regiment!) Back he
fell with the brigade, and disappeared under the hill.

When the rallied Brigade came whooping back upon the enemy, ten minutes
after, who should be in front tearing up the hill, leading the charge,
but the gallant Captain, yelling like everything, and still waving that
frying pan, to cheer on his men. More gallant charge was never led, with
gleaming sword, than was this, led with that Texas frying pan.

At the time we were getting our guns around to fire upon the enemy
inside the works, as the retiring Texans were falling back past us, Dr.
Carter stepped quickly out, and in his courteous manner, called out to
them, "Gentlemen, dear gentlemen, I hope that you are not running." A
passing infantryman, a gaunt, unwashed, ragged chap, replied, "Never you
mind, old fellow! We are just dropping back to get to 'em." "I beg your
pardon," retorted the Doctor, "but if you want to _get to them_, you
ought to _turn round_; they are not the way you are going." They passed
on, and the fight took place. When it was over we noticed that the
Doctor was very much vexed about something. We asked what was the
matter? He said, "Never mind!" We insisted on his saying what disturbed
him so. At last, he said "Well, I don't see why, because men are in the
army, they should not observe the amenities customary among gentlemen."
"Well," we said, "that is all right; but why do you say it?" "Why!" he
warmly said; "did you hear that dirty, ragged infantryman call me an old
fellow? A most disrespectful way to address a gentleman!"

All the row of the fight had not put it out of the Doctor's mind, and he
brooded over it for some time. He never did get used to the lack of
"amenities" and he always had an humble opinion of that unknown Texan,
who did not observe the form of address customary among gentlemen. The
Doctor himself always followed his own rule; he was as courteous in
manner, and civil in speech, as "observant of the amenities" in the
thick of a fight, as in his own parlor.

This was the first battle the Doctor was in, having lately joined us. As
we ceased firing, one of us exclaimed, as we were apt to do, when a
fight was over, "Well! that was a hot place." The Doctor turned on him
and eagerly said, "Did I understand you to say that was a hot place?" "I
did, indeed, and it was." The Doctor turned to another, and another,
with the same eager question, "Did _you_ think that was a hot place?"
"Yes," we all agreed, "it was about as hot a one as we ever saw, or
cared to see." "Well," said the Doctor, in a very relieved tone, "I am
very glad to hear you gentlemen, who have had experience, say so. I
hesitated a long time about coming into the army, because I did not want
to disgrace my family, and I was afraid I should run, at the first fire;
but, if you call _that_ a hot place I think I can stand it." The
Doctor's distrust of himself was very funny to us; for he was so utterly
fearless, and reckless of danger, that some of the men thought, and
said, that he tried to get himself shot. And once, the Captain
threatened to put him under arrest, and send him to the rear, if he did
not stop wantonly exposing his life. He had very little cause to
distrust his courage, or fear that he would "disgrace his family" in
_this_, or _any other way_.

When the fight was over, we promptly went among the Federal wounded, who
lay thickly strewn on the inside of our lines, to see what we could do
for their comfort and relief. Curious how one could, one minute, shoot a
man down, and the next minute go and minister to him like a brother; so
it was! The moment an enemy was wounded he ceased to be thought of as an
enemy, and was just a suffering fellow man.

We did what we could for these wounded men, giving water to some;
disposing the bodies of some in a more comfortable position, cheering
them all up with the promise of prompt aid from the surgeons.

Among many others, we came to one man, mortally wounded and dying. His
life was fast ebbing way; he was perfectly aware of his condition. He
earnestly entreated that some one of us would pray for him. The request
was passed on to Robert Stiles, who was still at our guns.

He came at once! Taking the hand of the poor dying fellow tenderly in
his own, Stiles knelt right down by him on that wet, bloody ground, and,
in a fervent prayer commended his soul to God. Then, as a brother might,
stayed by him, saying what he could to comfort the troubled soul, and
fix his thoughts upon the Saviour of men, and have him ready to meet his

Some of us looked reverently on with hearts full of sympathy in the
scene. It was a sight I wish the men of both armies could have looked
upon. Right on the bloody battlefield, surrounded by the dead and dying,
that Confederate soldier kneeling over that dying Federal soldier
praying for him.

Well! the long weary day of battle was closing and the fighting was
done, at last. This 10th of May was a day filled up with fun, and
fasting, and furious fighting; simple description, but _correct_.
Thirteen to sixteen lines of infantry we had broken, and repulsed,
during that day; and what between infantry and artillery we were under
fire all day from five A. M. to nine o'clock that night; had toiled all
night long, the night before; not a morsel had passed our lips all day,
but one small crustless corn cake, taken out of a wet bag that had lain
for hours, in the rain. A tired lot, we lay down that night on the wet
ground to sleep, and be ready for the morrow. We fell asleep with the
artillery still roaring on the lines, and shells still screaming about
in the dark, and slept a sound dreamless sleep all through the night.

The next day, _the 11th_, was, for the most part, quiet and uneventful!
The bloody and disastrous repulse of every effort of the enemy to force
our line, had, as it well might, discouraged any further attempt along
our front. From time to time we could hear the Federal artillery, on our
front or other parts of the line, feeling our position, with an
occasional reply from our guns.

The sharp-shooters of both sides were keeping up their own peculiar fun.
At every point of vantage, on a hill, or behind a stump, or up a leafy
tree, one of these marksmen was concealed, and would try his globe-sight
rifle on any convenient mark, in the way of a man, which offered on the
opposite line. Any fellow who exposed himself soon heard a bullet
whistle past his ear, too close for comfort. Several of us had narrow
escapes, but the only casualty we suffered was Cornelius Coyle. Coyle
was from North Carolina and it seems that the jokes we were wont to
indulge in at the expense of the "Tar Heels" had gotten him sore on the
subject. In order to show us that a "Tar Heel" was as careless of danger
as anybody else, he exposed himself, very unnecessarily, by standing on
the works and on the guns, while the rest of us were "roosting low," and
about two o'clock he got a bullet in the thigh, which disabled him, I
believe, for the rest of the war. It was bad judgment! The jokes on the
"Tar Heels" were only meant in fun. Nobody ever doubted the courage and
gallantry of the North Carolinians. They had proved it too often, and
were proving it every day! It did not need for Coyle to expose himself
to prove it to us, and by his mistake we lost a good soldier.

The coming of night found all quiet on the lines. In the late afternoon,
and early night, we could plainly hear the sound of,--what we took to
be,--wagon trains and artillery, over in the enemy's lines, passing off
to our right. We got therefrom the impression that the Federals were
leaving our front and that by morning they would all be gone. So we were
not surprised when a courier came with the orders from headquarters that
we should get our guns out of the works, limber up, and be ready to move
at daylight.

=Having "A Cannon Handy"=

We drew our gun from its place at the works, up the little incline we
had made for its more easy running forward, hitched its trail to the
pintle-hook of the limber, chocked the wheels, and left it there until
we should move. The men picked out the least wet spots they could find,
and lay down to sleep. Everybody was very tired, nearly worn out with
the incessant work, and marching, and watching, and fighting, of the
last seven or eight days and nights. This was the first really quiet
night we had known for a week! The quiet and the assurance that the
enemy was gone from our front, and that there was no need to bother
about them, lulled the men into deep slumber. The infantry was all
stretched out along the lines sleeping, and even the pickets out in
front were, I am sure, sound asleep.

Every soul of our cannoneers was asleep, except Sergt. Dan. McCarthy,
Beau Barnes, Jack Booker, and myself. We sat together, by the gun,
talking and smoking until midnight. Then Jack said he would go to bed,
and did. We three, McCarthy, Barnes and I, continued our conversation
for some time longer, for no special reason, except perhaps, that we
were too tired to move, and we sat there, in the dark, listening to the
rumbling of heavy wheels over in the Federal lines, and talking about
the events of the last few days, speculating about what was to come.
Then our thoughts ran on other days, and scenes, and the folks at home,
and we talked about these until we became quite sentimental.

Several times it was suggested that we had better go to sleep, but we
talked ourselves wide awake. About two o'clock it was again suggested,
but Dan said he did wish we had something to eat first. This was a most
agreeable thought, and in discussing the same it was discovered that I
had a corncake, Dan had some coffee, and Beau some sugar. So we
resolved, before lying down, to go back under the hill, some fifty yards
behind the works, where a fire was kept burning or smoldering all the
time, and have a little supper of bread and coffee, which we proceeded
to do. We made up the fire, got water from the branch, warmed our
corncake, boiled the coffee, got out our tin cups, and sat around the
fire having a fine time. It was now about time for daybreak, though
still very dark. Dan proposed that we stroll up to the guns, and lie
down awhile. We walked slowly up! When we got to the guns all was still,
and quiet, as when we left, and I really believe we three were the only
men awake on that part of the line.

Before lying down Dan and I stepped to where our gun had been, and stood
a moment looking out through the dim light, which had hardly begun, of a
dark cloudy morning.

We had no object in this outlook, it was the instinct of a soldier to
look around him before going to sleep. It was, I think, the Providence
of God to an important result. For most fortunate indeed was it that we
took that glance out toward the front.

As our eye rested upon the edge of the wood out to our right front, we
caught a vague glimpse of movement among the trees. We called Barnes,
and stood together, watching keenly. Presently the air lightened a
little, and we could discern the dim figures of men moving about, just
within the woods. "Who are those men?" Dan asked. "Did either of you see
any of the troops pass out of the lines during the night?" "No, we had
not." "Then," he said, "I don't like this. Who can they be?" Just then
the cloud seemed to lift a little, more light shot into the landscape,
and, to our dismay, we clearly saw a line of men. Yes! no doubt now!
That was a battle line of Federals, formed there in the edge of the
woods, and just beginning to advance,--as silently as so many ghosts.
There they were, two hundred yards off marching swiftly for our line,
and everybody fast asleep in that line!

The horror of the situation flashed on us. The enemy would be
bayonetting our sleeping, helpless comrades, and the line be taken in
two minutes! What could we do to save them? Wake them up? No time to get
a dozen men roused up before the fatal peril would be upon us. Suddenly!
the same thought seemed to flash into our minds. Fire the gun! that will
wake up the line instantly. Come boys! There was a case-shot in the gun.
I remembered I had not fired it out, and I had my friction primer box
on, and a primer hooked to the lanyard. We jerked the trail loose from
the limber, and let the gun run to its place! Before it stopped, I
think, I had the primer in, while Dan pulled the trail round to get the
aim. He sprung aside as I let drive.

The crash of that Napoleon, and the scream of the shell there, in the
deep stillness of day-dawn, sounded as if it might be heard all over
Virginia! The effect was instant! You ought to have seen the boys, lying
all about, "tumble up." They flirted up from the ground like snap bugs!
"Gabriel's trumpet" couldn't have jerked them to their feet quicker.

Ned Barnes had lain down right where the gun had been, at the work. When
we ran it back to its place, in our excitement, we did not notice him.
Fortunately the wheels went on either side of him. He was lying flat on
his back, and right under the gun, when it fired. Ned went on like a
chicken with its head off. There was a scuffle, a yell, the whack of a
bumped head under the gun. Ned came tumbling out, all in a heap,
perfectly dazed, and wanting to know, in indignant tones, "What in the
thunder we were doing that way _for_?"

Before the sound of our gun had died away the whole line was up,
shooting like mad, and both guns were going hard. A few minutes of this
sent that sneaking line back to the woods, with a good deal more noise,
and faster, than it came. We learnt, afterwards, that the idea was to
surprise us, if possible. If so, to take, and sweep our line. If not,
_not_ to press the attack. The "surprise" was all they could have
wished. Not a picket fired on them. They were in one hundred and fifty
yards of our sleeping men, and could have simply walked over them, and
captured the whole line at that point. And, _if they had_--fixed as our
Army was, a half hour later--it would, I am sure, have meant disaster.
The only thing that averted it was, _humanly_ speaking, the _accident_
that three young "Howitzers" sat up talking all night, and, happened to
look over at that wood at the break of day,--and _had a cannon handy_!

I think the Texans "owed us another one" for this, and the Army of
Northern Virginia "owed us one" too. Major-General Field _said so_ in
his report of this incident.

The very same thing which _would have happened here was happening_ five
minutes later up the line to our right, where the Federal troops came
right over our works, and caught our exhausted soldiers asleep in their
blankets--the start of the bloody business of the Bloody Angle.

Yes! the bloody work which was to go on all day long, this dreadful 12th
of May, was already beginning, up there in the woods.

The little firing on our part of the line was scarcely over, before we
heard the sound of musketry come rolling down the line from the right.
Soon the big guns joined in, and we knew that a furious fight was going
on, off there. In a few moments we got the news, called from man to man
down along the lines, "The Yankees have taken the Salient on Ewell's
front, and captured Ed. Johnson's Division, and twenty guns. Pass it
down the lines!"

So it was! In overwhelming masses the Federals had poured out of the
woods, over the Salient Angle, where the men were asleep, and from which
the cannon had been withdrawn. And General Lee was trying to drive them
out, and retake our works.

This was the great business of the 12th of May. A very cyclone of battle
raged round that Salient. The Federals trying to hold it, our men trying
to retake it. We heard that the two Parrott guns of our "Right Section"
had gone over there to help, and they were in the thick of that awful
row. We heard it all going on, artillery and musketry, rolling and
crashing away, all day long.

Our part of the line was comparatively quiet, after the fight of the
early morning. Several times infantry was seen moving about, down in the
woods, in our front, and we would send a few shells into the woods just
to let them know that we were watchful, and ready. Harry Sublett was
wounded by a stray ball on this day. But no real attack was made, only
the sound of the sharp-shooter's rifle, and the sound of their bullets
enlivened the time.

This went on for several days. The idea of breaking our line, here, had
been given up as a hopeless job, and no other attempt was made on it.
Assaults were made on other points, and we could hear fighting, here and
there, but we were left alone.

At last, we got orders to move, about the 18th or 19th. Our pickets had
advanced through the woods, and reported that the enemy had left our

While waiting for the horses to be brought up to take off the guns, an
infantryman told me that a cow had been killed, between the lines, and
was lying down there in the woods, in front.

We had had an awful time about food, for the last week, and were hungry
as wolves. This news about the cow was news indeed. I told several of
the boys, and off we started to get some of that cow! We found it lying
just in the edge of the woods. It was a hideous place to go for a
beefsteak! All around, the ground was covered with dead Federal
soldiers, many in an advanced stage of decay. The woods had been on
fire, and many of these bodies were burned; some with the clothing, and
nearly all the flesh consumed! The carcass of that cow was _touching
five dead bodies_,--which will give an idea of how thick the dead were
lying. Many of their wounded had perished in the flames, which had swept
over the ground.

=Grant's Neglect of Federal Wounded=

We had witnessed all these horrors, with our own eyes, days before, from
our lines, and had been helpless to do anything for them. Hundreds of
wounded Federal soldiers lay between the lines, day after day, and
perished for want of help. Several of us, unable to bear the sight of
their suffering, went out one day to carry them food and water, and the
Federals fired upon us, and wounded one of our men, then we had to leave
them alone. They could not or would not care for their wounded, and
would not let us do it. It _was stated_ among us that General Lee had
sent an offer to General Grant to permit him to send, and care for his
wounded, near our lines; and he refused. And then General Lee offered,
if Grant would suspend hostilities for some hours, that _we_ would care
for his wounded rather than see them suffer, and die, before our eyes;
Grant refused that proposal too!

Certain it is, these poor fellows were left to their fate and perished,
miserably, by wounds and famine, and fire. Their many dead, in our
front, lay unburied until the odor from them was so dreadful that we
could hardly stay in our works. It may be that General Grant had this in
mind, and was determined that, if his _live_ soldiers couldn't drive us
out of the works, his _dead_ ones should. Well! he had his way of making
war! And on account of his inhumanity to his wounded, his _own men_
thought as _ours did_, that his way was very brutal! I heard his own men
curse him bitterly. They called him "The Butcher" in those days. The
feeling of his army to him was widely different from our feeling for our

All those dead soldiers along a line of five miles lay rotting on the
ground, until we had gone away, and the people of the country
neighborhood had to collect them from the fields, and thickets, and bury
them, for fear of pestilence. And when one remembers that from Thursday,
the 5th of May, to Thursday, the 12th of May, General Grant had lost
40,000 in killed and wounded, the dread sight of death and suffering we
looked upon, can be imagined! The thronging lines of unburied dead,--it
was a shocking and appalling spectacle!

But we could not just then, mind the sights we saw! We got our beef, all
the same! We were the first to get to that cow, and we had to take our
knives and cut through the skin, on the rump, and flay it up, and then
cut out hunks of the flesh, as best we could, and get back to the guns.

As I got back, carrying my big piece of meat, in my hands, Col. H. C.
Cabell, commanding our Battalion, met me. He said, "My dear boy, where
on earth did you get that meat?" I told him. "Well," he said, "I am
almost starved; _could_ you give me a little piece?" I cut off a chunk
as big as my fist, stuck it on a sharp stick, held it a few minutes in a
fire, close by, and handed it up to the Colonel, sitting on his horse.
He took it off the stick, and ate it ravenously. He said it was the best
morsel he ever tasted! It was scant times when a Colonel of artillery
was as famished as he was! I cut up the rest of the beef, and divided
among several of us, and we cooked it on a stick, the only cooking
utensil we had at hand, and ate it, with a keenness of enjoyment that
terrapin, canvass back duck, and Lynnhaven oysters could not provoke me
to now. _My dear!_ but that hot meat was good, to palates accustomed,
mostly, to _nothing_, and _no salt on that_, for about a week. The only
meat we had now,--when we had any at all.--was fat mess pork, and we ate
that _raw_. Hot beef was a delicious change!

Meanwhile the hours had worn on. We limbered up the guns, and moved
several miles off, toward the right, passing through Spottsylvania Court
House. It was here we went by to see Cary Eggleston for the last time.
He died next day.

We halted in a broom-sedge field, some distance beyond the Court House,
and parked our guns, along with some other artillery, already there. And
here we stayed a day or two.

The only thing I particularly recall of the stay here, was a trivial
circumstance. One of the batteries we found in this field, belonged to
the "Reserve Artillery" of which the "_un_reserved artillery" had a very
humble opinion indeed,--just at that time.

These fellows had not fired a shot, through all the late fighting, and
their guns were as bright, and clean as possible; which ours were not.
One day a blue bird started to build her nest in the muzzle of one of
their guns. Some of the sentimental fellows took this as an augury. "A
sweet gentle little bird building her nest in the muzzle of a cannon!
What _could_ that mean but, that peace was about to be made, and these
cannon useless?"

The rest of us scouted this fancy, and took it as a rare good joke on
that "Reserve Artillery." We said "their guns were not of any use anyhow
_except_ for birds' nests; the birds knew they would be perfectly safe
to build their nest, and live in _those_ guns. _They_ would not be
disturbed!" We "chaffed" the officers and men of that battery most
unmercifully. The whole field was on the _grin_, about that birds' nest.
The poor fellows were blazing mad, and much mortified; so _disgusted_
that they took their nice, clean guns, and went off to a distant part of
the field, to get rid of us. We were _sorry_ to lose them! They afforded
_us_ a great deal of fun, if they didn't have any themselves. That blue
bird story got all over our part of the Army, and those "Reserve
Artillerists" were "sorry that they were living."



About the 20th or 21st we started from Spottsylvania battlefields for
others. The Army was on the move, and we went along. For a day or two we
were constantly marching, not knowing where we were going, and along
roads that I remember very little about. At last, about the 22d, we
crossed the North Anna River, and struck the Central Railroad (now "the
Chesapeake and Ohio") and marched along it, till we halted near Hanover

Our Army had crossed and stopped on the south bank of the North Anna,
two or three miles in front of the Junction, and was taking the river
for a new line of defence. Presently the Federal Army came up pushing
on, for the same point, and found us, already ahead, in front, and
across their track! Then they went at the same old game of trying to
break through us. They got across the river on our right, and on our
left. General Lee then threw back both wings of his army, clinging with
his centre to the river bank. Thus check-mating Grant in a way to make
his head swim! Grant after crossing the river, on both our right and
left, suddenly found he had got his army cut in two, and he _got out of
that_, just as quickly as he could, and gave the North Anna line up as a
bad job.

We were moving in one direction, or another, about the Junction, for
seven or eight days. This North Anna business was far more a matter of
brains between the Generals, than brawn between the men. Some sharp
fighting, on points right and left, but that was all! General Lee simply
"horn swaggled" General Grant, and that was the end of it! We were out
one day on the "Doswell Farm," and got under a pretty sharp infantry
fire, and fired a few shots, then General Rodes' skirmishers charged,
and drove them off, and we saw no more of them.

Along about the 29th or 30th of May, we got on the march again; this
time through the "Slashes of Hanover." It was an all-night march, and a
most uncomfortable one. The rain had been pouring, and long sections of
the road were under water. I think we waded for miles, that dark night,
through water from an inch to a foot deep. And the mud holes! after a
time our gun wheels went up to the hub, and we had to turn to, there in
the dark, and prize our guns out; nearly lift them bodily out of the
mud. I suppose we did not go more than five or six miles, in that
all-night march, and by the time day dawned we were as wet, and muddy,
as the roads, and felt as _flat_, and were tired to death. We halted for
an hour or two to rest; then pushed on, all day.

In the late afternoon (this I think was May 31st) we took our guns into
position, on the far edge of a flat, open field. Two hundred yards in
front of us, in the edge of a wood, was a white frame Church, which,
some of the fellows, who knew this neighborhood, told us was "Pole Green
Church." They also told us that the Pamunkey River was about a mile in
front of us. We heard artillery in various directions, but saw no enemy,
and did not know anything of what was going on, except where we were. It
was quiet there; so we went to sleep, and were undisturbed during the

The next morning, we found that infantry had formed right and left of
us, and we were in a line of battle stretching across this extensive
field. About eleven o'clock skirmishers began to appear, in the woods,
in front of us. They thickened up, and opened on us quite a lively fire.
We stood this awhile until those skirmishers made a rush from the woods,
and tried to gain the cover of the church building. Some of them did,
and as this was crowding us a little too close, we took to our guns, and
so dosed them with canister, as they ran out, that they retired, out of
range, into the woods. Soon after some infantry began to form in the
edge of the woods as if they were about to charge us. We opened on them.
They advanced a little, then broke in some confusion, and disappeared.
The rest of this day, June 1st, along where we were, there was lively
sharp-shooting going on, up and down the line, and once a battery fired
a few shots at us, but no special attack was made.

In the afternoon, taking advantage of the quiet, our negro mess cooks
came into the line, to bring us something to eat. Each fellow had the
cooked meat, and bread, for his mess, in a bag, swung over his shoulder.
They came on across the field until within a hundred yards of the line,
when a shell struck, in the field, not far from them. The darkies
scattered, like a covey of birds! Some ran one way, and some another.
Some ran back to the rear, and a few ran on to us. Our cook, Ephraim,
came tearing on with long leaps, and tumbled over among us crying out,
"De Lord have mercy upon us." "Ephraim," we said, "what is the matter?
what did you run for?" All in a tremble, he thrust out the bag towards
us, and exclaimed, "Here, Marse George, take your vituals, and let me
git away from here. De Lord forgive me for being such a fool as to come
to sich a place as dis _anyhow_."

"But, Ephraim," we said, "there was no danger! That shell didn't hit
anywhere near you." "De ain't no use in telling me dat! Don't nobody
know whar dem things goin'! Sound to me like it was bout to hit me side
my head, and bust my brains out, every minit; and if it had a hit me,
dem other cooks would all a run away, and left me lying out dar, like a
poor creeter." "But, my dear Ephraim," we said, "it mortifies us to see
the 'Howitzer' cooks running so, with all the men looking on." "Don't
keer who looking! When dem things come any whar bout me, I _bleeged_ to
run. Dis ain't no place for cooks, nohow. Here gentlemen! take your
rations; I got to get away from here!" We emptied the bag, he threw it
over his back, and streaked with it to the rear.

Another night in line here! Next morning, June 2d, orders came to move.
We got on a road running along, just back of our position, and marched
off toward the right. The road ran, for some distance, nearly parallel
to our lines, and then bore away toward the rear. For a time we met, or
passed bodies of troops and wagon teams on the roadside, soldiers
single, or in groups. Further on, all these reminders of the presence of
the Army were left behind, and we found ourselves marching on quiet
lonely country roads, through woods and fields of a peaceful rural
landscape. We had not the least idea where we were going; or what we
were going to do, or see when we got there. But we had got out of the
habit of caring for that.

=The Last March of Our Howitzer Captain=

It was a calm, sweet June evening! quiet country farms, and homes lay
all about us. The whole scene spoke of peace. It was such a restful
change to us from the din and smoke and crowd we had been in the midst
of so long. We gave ourselves up to the influences of the hour, and a
very pleasant evening we cannoneers had strolling along, in front of the
column of guns, and talking together.

Captain McCarthy was on foot, in the midst of us, as we marched. I
remember being particularly struck with what a stalwart, martial figure
he was, as he strode along that road. He was much more silent, and quiet
than usual! He was generally so bright and cheerful, that this was
noticed, and remarked on by several of us.

It was afterwards, that perhaps a presentiment was given him that this
was his last march, with the battery, he had fought so often, and loved
so much; and _this_ saddened, and softened his usually bold, soldierly
spirit, and bearing. I walked and talked with him a good deal that
afternoon, and certainly I was struck by a quietness of manner, and a
gentleness of speech, not at all usual with him. But we did not know
what it meant _then_! So we cheerily swung along that silent road, to
meet what was coming to him, and to us, in the unseen way ahead.

About five o'clock we pulled out of the road we had been travelling, and
followed a narrow farm road, across a wide, open field, toward a
farmhouse, on its farther edge. Beyond the house was a large pine wood,
which stopped all view in that direction. As we passed across that
field, we saw some other artillery, coming from another direction, and
converging with us upon that farmhouse. When we drew close together, we
discovered that these fellows were the Second and Third Companies of the
"Richmond Howitzers." Our Company, the First, had been separated from
them at the beginning of the war, and they had never met, before now. A
little while after, at this spot, the three batteries, "First," "Second"
and "Third Richmond Howitzers" went into battle side by side, for the
first, and _only_ time, during the war. There was great interest felt by
the boys that we should go into one fight _together_; but before we went
in, the Battalion was broken up again, and scattered, to different parts
of the line.

When we got near this farmhouse, all was quiet! We had not seen, or
heard of any enemy for many hours, and we did not know where anybody
was; didn't even know "where we were _at_" _ourselves_. The farm road
ran past the house, round the barn and on toward that pine woods behind
the house.

We halted just by the house, and got some water, at the well, and stood
around and wondered what we were here for. There were some cherry trees,
with ripe cherries on them, and up them the boys swarmed, Leigh
Robinson gallantly leading the way, to enjoy the fruit.

We were thus engaged, when the deep quiet of this rural scene was
suddenly, and rudely broken! Over beyond that wood just by us, there
burst out a terrific roar of musketry! It was like a clap of thunder out
of a clear sky! We did not know any troops were near us, and had no idea
that the enemy was in ten miles of us.

But there right through those pines the musketry was rolling, and
cracking now! A few cannon shots joined in, and the Confederate "yell"
rose up out of the thunder of battle. And the bullets began to sing
around us. The cherry trees were quickly deserted by all, but Leigh
Robinson. He stayed up there with balls whizzing close to him, and
calmly picked and ate cherries,--as if these were humming birds sporting
about him,--until he had enough, or more likely, the cherries gave out.
Not knowing who was fighting beyond the woods, or what might come of it,
we got the guns into battery, facing the woods, to be ready for what
might be.

In a few minutes we saw Colonel Goggin, of Kershaw's staff, dash out of
the woods, and gallop toward us. He told us that it was Kershaw's
Division over there. They had been attacked by heavy lines of the enemy;
that our line was broken, and captured at one point, and that Kershaw
wanted some guns, just as quick as they could get to him. Our two
"Napoleons" were ordered in. Goggin said "for heaven's sake come at
double quick;" the need was very urgent. We cannoneers of the Left
Section had the guns limbered up, and into the woods, in about a minute;
we, double-quicking alongside. We went by a narrow wood road, which
entering the woods straight ahead of us, went obliquely to the left down
a deep ravine, crossed a little stream, and up the hill, into the open
field beyond.

Passing through that pine wood was a mean job! The Minie balls were
slapping the pines all about us, with that venomous sound, with which a
Minie crashes into green pine wood. It is a mean piece of work anyhow,
to go from the rear up to a fighting line! But, away we went, excited
and eager to get through, and see what was going on. The road, cut
through the steep banks down to the stream, was so very narrow that it
barely admitted our wheels, and when they went farther down the cut, our
hubs stuck in the bank, on both sides, and the gun was held fast. From
this point the road ran straight up to the edge of the wood. We could
see men running about, and yelling, and shooting in the open ground. We
could not tell whether they were our men or the enemy, and the fear
seized us that the enemy might be pressing our people back, and would
catch us, helpless and useless, in this ridiculous fix.

Gracious! how the driver did whip, and spur! and how the cannoneers did
strain, and tug at those wheels! Captain McCarthy jumped off his horse,
and put his powerful strength to the wheel. The men from the other guns
joined us, and, at last, when we were nearly wild with excitement, we
gave one tremendous jerk, all together, and lifted the whole thing
bodily out of that rut, and over the bank. The horses, as excited now,
as we were, snatched the gun over the bank, across the stream, nearly
upsetting it, and then went tearing, at a full gallop, up the hill; we
running at top speed to keep up. The third gun following. At this pace,
we dashed into the open field, and were upon the battle ground. We ran
the guns into the line of battle, along a slight work Kershaw's men had
hurriedly thrown up, just to the left of the part of the line which the
Federals had taken, and were still holding. We pushed up, until we got
an enfilade fire upon their lines. A few case-shots screaming down their
line sent them flying out of that, and our line was restored.

The Colonel of one of their regiments, captured by our men, said that
his regiment was lying down behind our captured line, and one of our
shells cut down a large pine tree and threw it on his line, and about
finished up what was left of his regiment. The shell burst just as it
struck the tree, and the shell fragments, and falling tree together,
killed twelve or fifteen men, and wounded a number of others.

The fighting was dying down now, and soon ceased. Our line restored, the
enemy made no further effort to take it. The rest of the time, till
dark, was taken up with sharp-shooting, and artillery fire. A farmhouse
and outbuildings and barn stood right behind our position, and, I
remember, the barn swallows in large numbers were skimming and
twittering all around, through the sweet, bright air, while shells and
balls were singing a very different sort of song. I never saw that sight
during the war but this once,--birds flying about in the midst of a
battle. But here, those dear little swallows circled round, and round
that barn, and the adjoining field, for hours, while the air was full of
flying missiles. They did not seem to mind it. Perhaps they wondered
what on earth was going on. It was a curious scene!

During the night we made some little addition to the slight earth work,
which the infantry had thrown up, in front of our two guns. Infantry
began to pile into the line on both sides of our guns; we learned that
this was the Twentieth South Carolina Regiment, Colonel Keitt, who had
been killed, in a fight the Regiment had been in, that afternoon.

This regiment, at this time when some Brigades in the Army of Northern
Virginia had not more than one thousand or twelve hundred men, came
among us with seventeen hundred men ready for duty. The regiment had
been stationed at Fort Sumter; had seen nothing of war except the siege
of a Fort, and their idea of the chief duty of a soldier was,--to get as
much earth between him and the enemy as possible. When they came into
line this night, and saw this slight bank of dirt,--about two feet
thick, and three feet high,--and learned that we expected, certainly, to
fight behind it in the morning, they were perfectly aghast! They pitched
in, and began to "throw dirt." They kept it up all night, and by morning
had a wall of earth in front of them, in many places eight feet high,
and six to seven feet thick.

How much higher, and thicker they would have got it, if the enemy had
not interrupted them, gracious only knows! Of course they couldn't begin
to shoot over it, except at _the sky_; perhaps they thought _anything
blue_ would do to shoot at and the sky was blue. But it was a fact, that
when the enemy advanced next morning, this big regiment was positively
"Hors du Combat."

It is true, that when we woke up at daylight, and found what they had
done, we jeered, and laughed at them, and showed them the impossibility
of fighting from behind that wall, until some of them got ashamed, and
began to shovel down the top, a little. Captain McCarthy sent to let
General Kershaw know the absurd situation we were in,--supported by
infantry that could not fire a shot, and warning him, that if the enemy
charged, they would certainly take the line, unless our two guns alone
could hold it. General Kershaw sent orders to them "to shovel that
thing down to a proper height," but they didn't have time to do it. When
the fight began some of them had cut out a shelf on the inside of the
bank, and some of them had gotten boxes and logs and a number stood up
on them, and did some shooting, and behaved gallantly; but many of them
seeming to think that a man should be "rewarded according to his works"
laid closely down behind that wall, and never stirred.

The next night General Lee took them out of the lines, and gave them
picks, and shovels, and made a "sapping and mining corps" of them,--the
military service they were most fitted for, and they _were_ rewarded
according to their works.

While these beavers were gallantly wielding the pick and shovel, we,
satisfied with our little bank of dirt, were getting ready for next
day's work, by a good sound sleep. One of our boys did have misgiving
about the strength of our defences. He went in the night, and woke up
Sergeant Moncure and said, "Monkey, don't you think these works are very
thin?" "Yes, Tom, they are," he replied. "You just get a spade, and go
and make them just as thick as you think they ought to be; Good night!"
He resumed his slumbers, and Tom, not an overly energetic person, walked
away grumbling that "the work _was_ too thin, but he would be derned if
_he_ was going out there, in the dark to work on them, all by himself,"
which he didn't.

Somehow when we lay down this night we had gotten the impression that
things were going to be rough, in the morning. They were!

Just as the day dawn was struggling through the clouds, we were roused
by the sound of several guns, fired in quick succession. We were on our
feet instantly, and saw that all was ready for action. Shells came
howling at us from batteries that we could discern in the dim light. We
could see the light of their burning fuses, as they started out of their
guns, and could trace their flight toward us by that. Some of them would
strike the ground in front, and ricochet over us; some would crash into
our work, with a terrific _thud_, and some went screaming over our
heads,--very close, too, and went on to the rear to look after our Right
Section guns, which were still by that farmhouse, where we had left
them, the evening before. They knocked down several of the shelter tents
our boys were sleeping under, and several of our fellows, there, had the
narrowest kind of an escape. One shell "caromed" over three of the men,
who were sleeping side by side, touching the very blanket that was over
them. The Right Section boys needed no reveille that morning to get them
out! They tumbled up with great promptness and moved round out of the
line of fire. Fortunately none of them were actually hurt, just here.
One fellow was sleeping with several canteens of water hanging right
over his head. A bullet went through them. He was nearly drowned!

=The Bloodiest Fifteen Minutes of the War=

In our front, this artillery fire kept up for a while, then it stopped!
The next moment, there was an awful rush! From every quarter their
infantry came pouring on over the fields, and through the woods, yelling
and firing, and coming at a run. Their columns seemed unending! Enough
people to sweep our thin lines from the face of the earth! Up and down
our battle line, the fierce musketry broke out. To right and left it
ran, crashing and rolling like the sound of a heavy hail on a tin roof,
magnified a thousand times, with the cannon pealing out in the midst of
it like claps of thunder. Our line, far as the eye could reach, was
ablaze with fire; and into that furious storm of death, the blue columns
were swiftly urging their way.

Straight in our front one mass was advancing on us and we were hurling
case-shot through their ranks,--when, suddenly! glancing to the right,
we saw another column, which had rushed out of the woods on our right
front, by the flank, almost upon us, not forty-five yards outside our
line. Instantly we turned our guns upon them with double canister! Two
or three shots doubled up the head of that column. It resolved itself
into a formless crowd, that still stood stubbornly there, but could not
get one step farther. And then, for three or four minutes, at short
pistol range, the infantry and our Napoleon guns tore them to pieces. It
was deadly, and bloody work! They were a helpless mob, now; a swarming
multitude of confused men! They were falling by scores, hundreds! The
mass was simply melting away under the fury of our fire. Then, they
broke in panic, and headlong rout!

Many fearing to retreat under that deadly fire, dropped down behind the
stumps near our line, and when the others had gone, we ordered them to
come in. Several hundred prisoners were captured in this way. To show
what our works were,--I saw one tall fellow jump up from behind a stump,
run to our work, and with "a hop, skip, and a jump," he leaped entirely
over it, and landed inside our line. And a foolish looking fellow he
was, when he picked himself up!

Just as the enemy broke, Ben Lambert, "No. 1" at "4th" gun, was severely
wounded, in the right arm, just as he raised it to swab his gun. One of
the boys took his place, and the fire kept on.

The great assault was over and had failed! Only ten or fifteen minutes
was its fury raging! In that ten minutes, thirteen thousand Federal
soldiers lay stricken, with death, or wounds. In those few moments,
Grant lost nearly as many men as the whole British Army lost in the
entire battle of Waterloo.

Just to our right the enemy got over our works, and the guns right and
left of the break were turned on them. We heard a "yell" behind us, and
round a piece of pines came Eppa Hunton's Brigade of Virginians, at a
run; General Eppa on horse-back leading them in, at a gallop. The
Virginians delivered their volley at the Federals inside our lines, then
sprang on them like tigers. Next minute the few, left of them, were
flying back over the works.

In the thick of the fight, Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade, now
commanded by General Humphreys, to which our Battery had been attached,
being unengaged just at that time, heard that the infantry supporting us
was not effective, and that the "Howitzers" were in danger of being run
over. They requested permission to come to our help, and two Regiments
came tearing down the lines to our position, manned the line by us, and
went to work. What work these splendid fellows could do in a fight! We
had been very uneasy about our supports, and were delighted to see the
Mississippians, especially, as they had voluntarily come to our help, in
such a handsome manner.

The spectacle in front of our line was simply _sickening_! The horrible
heaps of dead lay so ghastly, and the wounded were so thickly strewn all
over the field. To right, and to left, out in front, along our line, as
far as we could see, this dreadful array of the dead and wounded
stretched! It was pitiful to see the wounded writhing, and to hear their
cries of agony. And here _again_, as at Spottsylvania, these wounded
were left between the lines, to perish miserably, of hunger and thirst,
and mortifying wounds.

=Federal Troops Refuse to Be Slaughtered=

When, a few days after, Grant sent to look after them they were nearly
all dead. What they must have suffered before death came! But none of
their own people seemed to care, and no effort was made to help
them,--when they might have been saved. I wonder who will have to answer
for the _unnecessary waste of life_ and suffering in the "Army of the
Potomac?" For the untold agony and death that _need never have been_! It
was awful! We used to think it was _brutal_! And the _Federal soldiers_
thought so too!

Some hours after this assault we saw the enemy massing for another.
Their columns advanced a little way, and then stopped. We could see
there was some "hitch," and sent a few shells over there, just to
encourage any little reluctance they might have about coming on. These
lines stood still, and came no further.

We learned, afterwards, that perfectly demoralized, and disheartened by
the bloody repulse of the morning, the Federal troops, when ordered by
General Grant to storm our line again, _mutinied in line of battle_, and
_in the face of the enemy and refused to go forward_. I witnessed that
performance, but did not understand at the time, just what was going on.
The grave meaning of it was, that the enemy's soldiers had distinctly
quailed before our lines and declared their utter inability to take
them. And _this_ was the verdict--at the end--of General Grant's Army
upon General Grant's campaign! Their heads were more level than their
General's. They were tired of being slaughtered for nothing!

The moment the morning assault was over, the Federal artillery opened
furiously, all along the line, and all day long, we were under a
constant fire of cannon, and sharp-shooters.

Fifty yards behind our guns was a farmhouse, outbuildings, and yard full
of trees. Shells aimed at us, rained into those premises all day. The
house was riddled like a sieve, the trees were cut down, and the
outbuildings, barn, stables, sheds, etc., were reduced to a heap of
kindling wood.

A pig was in a pen, in the yard! Everything else on the place had been
hit, and we watched with interest the fate of that pig. He escaped all
day! Just after dark, a shell skimmed just over our gun, went screaming
back into that yard, burst,--and--we heard the pig squeal. Some of the
men, at once, started for the yard, and came back with the pig. Said "he
was mortally wounded, and they were going to carry him to the hospital."
I fear he did not survive to get there! We disposed of his remains in
the usual way.

About noon we heard that our Right Section had been ordered into
position, on the lines, some distance to our right, and that John
Moseley, No. 8 at 1st gun, while with his caisson, back of the lines,
had been killed. A stray bullet had pierced his brain. No one was with
him at the time. He was found dead, in the woods.

=Dr. Carter "Apologizes for Getting Shot"=

The sharp-shooters swept all the ground about us, making it dangerous
for any man to expose himself an instant. Dr. Carter took some canteens,
and his cup, and went round under the hill behind us, to bring some
water. With filled canteens, and tin cup, filled to the brim, carried in
his right hand, he recklessly came back across the field, in rear of the
line. Just before he got to us, a bullet struck his right thumb, and
shattered it. He did not drop the cup or spill the water! He came right
on, as if nothing had happened, offered us a drink of water out of the
cup, and then courteously apologized to the captain for getting shot;
who accepted his apology, and sent him off to the hospital, to have his
thumb amputated; which he did, and was back at his post, the first
moment his wound permitted. When we condoled with him for the loss of
his thumb, he said "_He_ didn't care anything about the _thumb_; he
could _roll cigarettes just as well with the stump_, as he ever could
with the whole thumb. That seemed about all the use he had for his
thumb,--to roll cigarettes. He was an artist at that!

In the afternoon three or four of us were standing in a group talking
when one of the numberless shells that were howling by all day long,
burst in our very faces. I distinctly felt the heat of the explosion on
my skin, and grains of powder out of the bursting shell struck our
faces, and drew blood. The concussion was terrific! It was a pretty
"close call" to all three of us!

The stream of shells fired at our guns gradually cut away the top of our
work, until it was so low that it did not sufficiently protect our gun.
We feared that some of the shells would strike our gun, and disable it.
To avert this, for many hours that day, from time to time, we had to
take turns, and, with shovels, throw sand from the inside on the top of
the work. In this way we managed to keep our defences up, but it was
weary work, and we grew very tired. Still, there was nothing for it, but
to keep on, and _we kept_ on!

=Death of Captain McCarthy=

About six o'clock, there fell the saddest loss, to the battery, that it
had yet been called to bear. Captain McCarthy stood up at the work to
watch what was going on in front. One moment, I saw him, standing
there;--the next instant, I heard a sharp crash, the familiar sound of a
bullet striking, and McCarthy was lying, flat on his back, and
motionless. We jumped to his side! Nothing to be done! A long bullet
from a "globe sight" rifle had struck him, two inches over his right
eye, and crashed straight through his brain. He lay without motion two
or three minutes, then his chest rose, and fell, gently, once or twice,
and he was still, in death.

And there, on that red field of war, with shells, and bullets whistling
all about, over his dead face, dropped the tears of brave men, who loved
him well, and had fought with and followed him long! We had seen his
superb courage in battle; his patient bearing of hardship, his
unfaltering devotion to duty always; his kind, cordial comradeship! We
knew him to be a soldier, every inch, and a patriot to his heart's core!

We knew, and said, that among all her sons, Virginia had no braver son,
than this one, who had died for her. Sadly we lamented--"What shall we
do, in battle, and in camp, and on march, his form and face missing from
among us?" There was not a sadder group of hearts along that
blood-drenched line that evening, than ours, who bowed deeply sorrowing
over the form of our dead captain. We took his body in our arms, and
bore it to where we could place it in an ambulance.

It was sent to his home, and family, in Richmond, and buried in "Shockoe
Cemetery." And now,--after thirty-two years have passed, we, the old
"Howitzers," still carry the name of "Ned McCarthy" in our hearts! We
keep his memory green; we think of him, and rank him as a typical
Confederate Soldier. One who by his splendid courage and devotion shed
luster upon the name.

His stalwart form has gone to dust. The light of his bright, brave face
has long gone from our eyes; the soul-stirring war time--when we were
with him--has long passed away. The changes and chances of this mortal
life have brought many experiences to us who survived him. Our feet have
wandered far, into many paths. We have toiled, and thought, and
suffered, and enjoyed much, in the long years, since we last looked upon
his form dead on the red field of "Cold Harbor." "The strong hours have
conquered us" in many things. But--the noble memory of this man! as a
patriot and a hero!

Ah! that lives in our hearts! The hearts of his comrades who, with their
own eyes, saw him live and bear, and fight and die--for _Virginia_--and
the South.

The battle of Cold Harbor ended Grant's direct advance on Richmond. He
drew off in confessed defeat and inability to go on--afterwards, he
advanced by way of Petersburg.

The operations on that line resolved themselves into a siege. That siege
lasted through the fall and winter and early spring of '65, with many
attempts to break our lines, which always failed.

On the second day of April, 1865, according to General Lee's own
statement to General Meade, just after the surrender, the Army of
Northern Virginia stood, with 27,000 men, holding a line thirty-two
miles long; facing an army of 150,000 men. On that day our line was
broken, and the retreat began.

Under the circumstances, the disentanglement of our army from that long
line, and getting it on the march, with the enemy's powerful army close
in their front, was a supreme display of, at once, the consummate
generalship of General Lee, and the unshakable morale of the Southern

The retreat continued for one week; we started from Petersburg Sunday,
April 2, and reached Appomattox, Saturday, April 8th. On that day, after
the hunger, exhaustion, and losses in the many fights along the way,
the Army stood at Appomattox, ninety miles from Petersburg, with 8,000
men with arms in their hands; and they were as "game" as ever. On that
morning of April 9th, when General Gordon surrendered his little force
of 1,300 men, he had to surrender 1,700 Federal soldiers, and fourteen
pieces of artillery, which he had just captured from the enemy, while
driving back their encircling line more than a mile.

Then General Lee, unwilling for useless sacrifice, surrendered the army,
because it was "compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and
resources"--and that Army of Northern Virginia, when it was surrendered,
had behind it this remarkable, and proud record, that, in the many
battles it fought during the war, it was never once driven from the
field of battle; and it was as defiant, and ready to fight at Appomattox
as it was at Manassas, the first battle four years before.

As we turn from that closing scene, let us take a parting glance at the
facts which, duly considered, enable us to form a true estimate of the
fight the South made in that struggle of the Civil War.

The history of that war may be briefly, but accurately comprehended in
this short statement. During the four years, '61 to '65, the North put
into the field two million, eight hundred thousand (2,800,000) men. They
were well armed, well equipped, and well fed--also, it had a Navy.

During those four years, the South put into the field less than six
hundred thousand (600,000) men. They were poorly armed, poorly equipped,
and poorly fed--much of the time, very poorly indeed! And it had no

It took those 2,800,000 men, with the Navy, four years to overcome those
600,000 men. In doing so they lost the lives of one million (1,000,000)
men--nearly double the whole number of men the South put into the field.

What these facts mean, the world will judge--the world has judged! And
the world has off its hat to the race who made that heroic fight!

      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

Two quotes are opened with a double quotation mark but are not
closed. These are presented as they appear in the original text.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "comand" corrected to "command" (page 8)
  "setled" corrected to "settled" (page 21)
  "muttton" corrected to "mutton" (page 33)
  "proceded" corrected to "proceeded" (page 36)
  "felows" corrected to "fellows" (page 41)
  "semed" corrected to "seemed" (page 44)
  "nineteeen" corrected to "nineteen" (page 45)
  "Hil's" corrected to "Hill's" (page 75)
  "gettinge" corrected to "getting" (page 76)
  "at" corrected to "a" (page 79)
  "aound" corrected to "arround" (page 121)
  "Fedtral" corrected to "Federal" (page 127)
  "Warrren" corrected to "Warren" (page 130)
  "atention" corrected to "attention" (page 132)
  "iminent" corrected to "imminent" (page 138)
  "bags" corrected to "bugs" (page 181)
  "sharp-shooters's" corrected to "sharp-shooter's" (page 183)
  "hostilites" corrected to "hostilities" (page 185)

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