Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 21.djvu/253
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under the title of " My Experience as a Sharpshooter, and Other War Sketches." I don't know of your rules, but I shall reserve the privilege of using this material in the way I have just mentioned.
During the operations around Spotsylvania Courthouse, General John B. Gordon had command of Evans' Georgia brigade and Pegram's Virginia brigade. As a member of the Thirteenth Virginia Infantry, I was attached to Pegram's brigade. We were in reserve. To be in reserve at a time like that implied two things confidence upon the part of our commander, and hard work upon the part of the men. In neither case was there disappointment.
The evening of the i ith closed in dark and chilly. We were made more uncomfortable by the fact that orders came around for "no fires." So, rolling up in our oil cloths, we were soon dreaming, perhaps, that the "Cruel war was over." The gray dawn of the morning of the I2th found us standing at attention. Some time since I read an account of the battle of the I2th of May, written by a Northern officer. In this account he said that they were told that a blow would be struck which would end the war. Nothing was said by our officers, but there was a nameless something in the air which told each man that a crisis was at hand. Orders were given in low tones. The dim, shadowy outlines of the different commands as they took their positions under the sombre shades of the pines, gave a weird effect to the scene.
Just as the day began to streak the East, we heard a rapid firing on our extreme left. In a short time a courier dashed up to General Gordon with an order. "Attention! Left face, forward! Double quick!" passed up our lines, and we were off on a run. Troops in reserve had to have what the horse jockeys call " good bottom." At that time we were in good order for a run. Not a fat man in our ranks. A quarter of a pound of meat and a pint of unsifted meal, with hard work, was our formula for reducing flesh. On this occa- sion, we demonstrated that the old saying, "a lean dog for a long chase," was a correct theory. How far we went, I am unable to say, but it was to General Lee's extreme left. Just as we arrived on a run, we saw our boys, Hood's Texas, I think, recapturing works which the enemy had gained temporary possession of. We had scarcely time to draw a long breath before another courier dashed up to Gen- eral Gordon, when the command came quickly, " About face ! for- ward ! double quick ! " Back over our tracks we sped, covering the