Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 16.djvu/231
Charge of Black's Cavalry Regiment at Gettysburg. 225
along our depleted ranks. I find it impossible to speak with cer- tainty of our arrival on the field of Gettysburg, or of our position at the fatal hour of encounter.
The more prominent incidents of the terrific scene are still pictured on my mind ; but it is rather with the vividness of a strange, wild dream, in which much has faded from the waking memory, than as any past event of real life that I now contemplate them.
About 2 o'clock in the afternoon of July 3d, 1863, our brigade moved to its position on the left of the army. There was one inces- sant roar of artillery and the ground was shaken, while to the north- west cumulous clouds of smoke rose above the unbroken thunder of six hundred guns. For a time the tremendous reverberations ren- dered it difficult for one at a distance to determine the direction of the battle, but knowing the position it was easy to divine that, as the din became less distinct, we were steadily forcing the enemy at every point. At the time our brigade was thrown from the serried form of the phalanx across the field which was so soon to become our battleground, it seemed the resistance of the enemy became more stubborn, the smoke became denser and darker, and curling up filled the immense sky.
We were in ignorance of the juxtaposition of the enemy's cavalry, but anyone without risking his dexterity might have ventured to pre- dict that the quietude of this part of the field was soon to be broken by the clash of sabres, the shout of triumph and the agonizing cry of death.
The quick eye of our stalwart leader, his rapid movements from regiment to regiment, his hurried, yet confident, tone of command, and above all his frequent anxious glances towards a certain dense oak forest one mile away, were indications sufficient of this even before the skirmishers had engaged one another on the intermediate ground. Soon a battery opened upon us from the enemy's line. They managed their guns with admirable precision, and although branches of trees were rifted from their trunks and shells exploded in our very ranks, little damage was done. At this time our regiment was calmly awaiting orders for the engagement. The battle had opened. I was of the color-guard on the right of J. H. Koger, the bearer of the standard, whose heroism in keeping it proudly in the face of the enemy, and afterwards in bearing it in triumph from the field, where he had narrowly escaped death and capture, became so well known. On my right was Sergeant T. P. Brandenburg, whom you will remember as a peerless soldier and truly imperial spirit.