Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/82

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78 Soutlni-n Hisiof'irnl ,sV/ /// Paper s.

blest actor gathers the wealth of an approving conscience! He hears no paeans from a grateful country no bounty rolls bear his name yet these are sweet choristers ever chanting priceless praises to the zeal and manhood with which he faced his foe.

The veteran of an hundred battles always points with greater pride to one as the crowning glory of the many achievements.

So the soldiers of Mahone's Old Brigade look upon the great bat- tle which I shall attempt to describe.

My little fly tent, scarcely large enough for two persons to lie side by side under, was stretched over a platform of rough boards, elevated about two feet above the ground, in that little grave-yard on the Wilcox Farm, near Petersburg. I was quietly sleeping within it, dreaming, perhaps, of home and all its dear associations (for only a soldier can properly appreciate these), when a deep, rumbling sound, that seemed to rend the very earth in twain, startled me from my slumbers, and in an instant I beheld a mountain of curling smoke ascending, towards the heavens.

The whole camp had been aroused, and all were wondering from whence came this mysterious explosion.

It was the morning of Saturday, at 4:44 o'clock, on the 3oth day of July, 1864. The long-talked-of mine had been sprung, Pegram's battery of four guns was blown up, and about 278 sleeping soldiers were buried beneath the upturned earth. Immediately the leading columns of the Ninth Army Corps, U. S. A., commanded by Colo- nel E. G. Marshall and Brigadier-General W. F. Bartlett, pressed forward and occupied the Crater and the earthworks for a distance on either side.

Two hundred cannons roared in one accord, as if every lanyard had been pulled by the same hand. The fiery crests of the battle- ments shone out for miles to our left, and, sweeping together, formed one vast range of gloom. It was a great gun conflict, with thunder- ing, booming, .. flashing, blazing, smoking, shrieking, thudding, crashing, majestic terrors of war.

A GREAT ARTILLERY DUEL.

The sun rose brilliantly, and the great artillery duel continued to rage in all its grandeur and fury. An occasional shell from a Blakely gun would swoop down in our camp and ricochet down the line to our right, forcing us to hug closely the fortifications for protection.

Soon after sunrise "Captain" Tom Bernard, courier for General William Mahone, came sweeping up the lines on his white charger