Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/47
The Battle of Antietam. 39
Fair as the gardens of the Lord
To the famished eyes of the rebel horde. .
With a rush and a swing we passed through the " royal" city of Frederick, where we got scant welcome, up the dusty broad pike northward to Hagerstown, where the people received the ragged "Rebs" as if they were belted knights, with victory on their plumes. Here every soldier got as much as he could eat. Then there came the long roll and we fell into ranks and sorrowfully turned our faces southward, and went with a swinging gait toward the moun- tains to help D. H. Hill. We reached Crampton's Gap after the fight was over, then retraced our steps, and on the morning of the I4th of September halted on the fields of Boonsboro, tired and oh, so hungry. Apples and corn, corn and apples, were our only fare; eating them raw, roasted, boiled together and fried, they served to sustain life, and that was all.
That evening the battle of Boonsboro was fought. Our position was in a cornfield, and we held our line intact after repeated assaults. The next day we rested and gathered more corn and apples, and that night we marched until the Great Bear had reached its zenith in the heavens, and at dawn on the fateful morning of September iyth we reached the little village of Sharpsburg, and, forming in line of battle just on the right of where the National Cemetery is now located, we lay down and slept like logs, though the fight at the Dunkard Church on our left was raging in all its fury.
We moved several times in the course of the day, but at noon the final position was selected behind a post-and-rail fence near where we first stopped. The order to halt was given, the line formed, and the command to stack arms rang out. I was the only private left of Company A, Seventeenth Virginia, and, having no comrade to lock bayonets with, I ran mine into the ground. The only officer left in my command was Lieutenant Tom Perry. A mild-mannered, slow-speaking man was Tom, but he was a soldier, every inch of him. He never made a boast in his life, but in every battle in which the Seventeenth was engaged, there, in front of his company, stood Tom, calm and serene, as if waiting for the dinner-horn to blow.
Longstreet's old Firs>t Brigade that which charged through the abattis at Seven Pines, 2,800 strong mustered only 320 men. The Seventeenth Virginia, the pride of Alexandria, Prince William, Fairfax, Fauquier and Warren counties, which at Blackburn's Ford had 860 men in ranks, now stood in their tracks with 41 muskets