Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 18.djvu/392
392 Southern Historical Society Papers.
scattered and disorganized, but we had far outstripped in distance the supports on our wings, and were rushing wildly upon the enemy, who quietly and coolly awaited our coming ; in fact, had so far anti- cipated us as to place their infantry supports in a commanding po- sition immediately behind the battery, and had thrown out on the right and left in front another body of infantry, thus laying a trap into which they felt satisfied we would fall, and in which expectation they were not disappointed.
" If the reader has never been in a fierce battle he does not know how a man's courage is most severely put to the test, and it may be well just here to give some idea, if possible, as to testing one's courage under such circumstances. Here our regiment is in line on the edge of a wood. Less than a quarter of a mile away is another wood. Between the two is an open field bare of the slightest shelter or protection. The regiment is advancing, and the line moves out into the clear sunlight. Men will hurriedly reason to themselves, ' The enemy is posted in that lumber across the field, and before we move many yards he will open on us with shot and shell ; this is perhaps my last day.' So each man reasons ; yet every face is sternly set to the front, and not a man falters. Shell and shot come ; dozens are blown to gory fragments ; but the line moves on as before, and the living say: ' the fire will presently change from shot and shell to grape and canister, and then we shall all certainly be hit.' The prediction is well-nigh verified. Gap after gap yawns through the line, only to be speedily closed again. Now the regiment has lost its adhesion and marching step ; its lines are broken ; but the move- ment is still onward, and the rest of us reason: ' the infantry are sup- porting that battery ; we have escaped shell and canister, but when the deadly fire of the musketry comes we shall surely be slaugh- tered.' Still there is no hanging back nor turning to right or left; no other thought but to push ahead. The leaden hail is upon us ; the lines are further disordered, and the left wing has lost its front by several feet; but the others do not stop. As we go on men grip their muskets tighter; their eyes flash, their teeth shut hard, only to open with a cry of rage as they rush upon the guns and bayonet the cannoneers at their posts; and then goes up that long, continuous yell of triumph to see the infantry supports running to the rear. Such is a faint picture of testing a man's courage in battle.
" As our brigade pushed forward towards the enemy's battery, led by General Kemper, it met a shower of shot, shell and canister, and a storm of leaden bullets. The men never once faltered, but rushed