Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/113
N/.W.-// ,-/,///, Artillery. |u7
we went into camp for tin- night near a large spring, and around our camp tires discussed the events of the day. The next day, the .vl of July, we It'll bark several miles southward to Darkesville, where we first saw, many of us, our general-in-chief, Joseph K. Johnston, the gamest-looking soldier we had ever seen. If we had had more experience than we then had in the ways of Confederate soldiers, we would have made the welkin ring with shouts at seeing this typical soldier who "witched us" all with his "noble horsemanship."
This " Darkesville" was not a village only a farm-house near a fine spring. In front of the house, on the east side of the turnpike, wretched a beautiful meadow, and in this meadow we encamped. The infantry was cast and west of us, and their camp-fires were beautiful at night. The weather was ciear, and besides the light of all the visible stars, we enjoyed one of the most brilliant comets which had appeared for many years. It appeared about midnight to be just above us, and many hearts were half-way cheered by inter- pretations which were put on its appearance. The tail extended northward, or southward, I don't remember which, but it meant that we were to be victorious in the battle which we then thought was imminent. For four days we were drawn up in line of battle and awaited the enemy's attack, which never came. We one day- were marched to a quartermaster's wagon and were provided with strips of white cotton cloth, to be tied around the arms of the men to distinguish us from the Federals, for at that time many of the uniforms worn by our men were of the same color with that worn by the enemy. We had not worn out the old garments used by the volunteer militia, many of which were of dark blue. The Confede- rate Government had probably adopted the grey as the proper color for our troops, but it had not furnished the material for our use.
At this camp, too, Captain Pendleton and the lieutenants drilled the men, or the gunners, in estimating distances. We knew the point blank ranges of our guns, but we had had no opportunity to practice with them, and would have been at a disadvantage in firing them. The success of our corporals in aiming the guns at the very beginning of the first action (First Manassas) in which we were en- gaged, was probably due to some extent to the lessons learned by us there.
After three or four days we took up the line of march towards Winchester with the rest of the army. It was a hot, dry march over that macadamized road, and never was a fine country so devoid of water as that part of the Valley. There was an occasional fine