Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/206
196 Southern Historical Society Papers.
the last shot was fired, the heavens were dark again and silence reigned. Soon all hands were as sound asleep as though nothing had occurred.
The next morning an artilleryman came walking leisurely to- wards the camp, and being recognized as belonging to a battery which was in position on that part of the line where the firing of the last night occurred, was plied with questions as to the loss on our side, who was hurt, &c., &c. Smiling at the anxious faces and eager questions, he replied : "When? Last night? Nobody!" It was astounding, but nevertheless true.
On another occasion some scattering shots were heard up the river, and after awhile a body came floating down the stream. It was hauled on shore and buried in the sand a little above high- water mark. It was a poor Confederate who had attempted to de- sert to the enemy but was shot while swimming for the opposite bank of the river. His grave was the centre of the beat of one of the picket posts on the river bank, and there were few men so in- different to the presence of the dead as not to prefer some other post.
And so while there had been no fighting there were always in- cidents to remind the soldier that danger lurked around, and that he could not long avoid his share. The camp was not as joyous as it had been, and all felt that the time was near which would try the courage of the stoutest. The struggles of the troops on the right with overwhelming numbers and reports of adversities, caused a general expectation that the troops lying so idly at the Clifton house would be ordered to the point of danger. They had not long to wait.
Sunday came and went as many a Sunday had. There was nothing unusual apparent, unless, perhaps, the dull and listless attitudes of the men and the monotonous call of those on guard were more oppressive than usual. The sun went down, the hills and valleys and the river were veiled in darkness. Here and there twinkling lights were visible. .On the other side of the river could be heard a low rumbling which experienced men said was the movement of artillery and ammunition trains bound to the enemy's left to press the already broken right of the Confederate line.
Some had actually gone to sleep for the night. Others were huddled around the fires in the little huts, and a few sat out on the hillside discussing the probabilities of the near future. A most peaceful scene a most peaceful spot. Hymns were sung and