Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 27.djvu/312

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304 Southern Historical Society

Soon after leaving the town we were halted in an open field. Night was coming on, and ominous clouds were looming up, with lightning and thunder. Soon it began to rain in torrents. I have always maintained I never saw it rain so hard before or since. The storm was soon over, and then commenced the fun. It was laugh- able to see the men standing on their heads, or getting their feet up in the air to let the water run out of their boots. By the tinie we started again it was pitch dark, and not one of us privates, I will ven- ture to say, knew where we were going. I surely did not. On we plodded, hour after hour, with the darkness so dense that you couldn't see your file leader. We crossed several streams very much swollen by the recent rains, which made fording very difficult, but on we went. There were two regiments in front of mine in the line of march. One, I think, was the gallant 5th, led by that dashing officer, Colonel Tom Rosser, now General.

Somewhere about midnight, when nothing was to be heard but the splash, splash of the horses' feet in the wet roads, the stillness was suddenly broken by a tremendous yell far to the front. We in the rear knew then something had been found. Orders soon came down the line to quicken up. The yelling at the front became fiercer and fiercer. By the time my regiment got upon the scene of action, it was pretty much all over, and by the flashes of lightning we found that we were standing in the midst of the Federal tents. Just then Colonel Rosser, with his sword drawn and dripping with blood, rode up to General Stuart, who was close by, and said in his own em- phatic language: "General, I have been giving them h 11, cutting and slashing right and left. "

It was a pitiable sight to see those Federal soldiers running here and there, and clad only in their night garments, which consisted, of course, only of undergarments. They had no hats nor shoes, and wherever one .was seen he was soon captured or cut down. It was an awful and exciting time. Soon after my regiment came up Cap- tain William B. Newton, of Company G, was ordered to take a squad of men and proceed to the railroad to cut the telegraph wire. I formed one of the squad, but what we were to cut with I could not see. Sabres are good for cutting flesh and breaking bones, but they can't cut suspended wire very easily. Some of the Gloucester cav- alry got mixed up with us as we proceeded in the pitch dark. Finally we reached the railroad at a high embankment, and it was well for us that we did, for by the flashes of lightning, which were still very vivid, we could see, by climbing to the top of the embankment, a