Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/48

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I

40 Southern Historical Society Papers.

and 7 officers. My! my! What a set of ragamuffins they looked! It seemed as if every cornfield in Maryland had been robbed of its scarecrows and propped up against that fence. None had any under- clothing. My costume consisted of a ragged pair of trousers, a stained, dirty jacket; an old slouch hat, the brim pinned up with a thorn; a begrimed blanket over my shoulder, a grease-smeared cotton haversack full of apples and corn, a cartridge box full and a musket. I was barefooted and had a stonebruise on each foot. Some of my comrades were a little better dressed, some were worse. I was the average, but there was no one there who would not have been " run in " by the police had he appeared on the streets of any populous city, and would have been fined next day for undue expo- sure. Yet those grimy, sweaty, lean, ragged men were the flower of Lee's army. Those tattered, starving, unkempt fellows were the pride of their sections

Whose ancestors followed

Smith along the sands,

And Raleigh around the seas.

About noon we were ordered to fall in, and in a few moments Toombs' skeleton brigade took position on the left overlooking An- tietam bridge. Burnside had commenced his attack. Just at this moment a battery dashed by us the Rockbridge Artillery and I had only time to wave my hand at my old school-fellow, Bob Lee, a private in the battery, the son of our Commander-in-Chief, when it disappeared down the hill.

And then Toombs got to work in earnest. No words can describe the gallant fight he made to keep Burnside from crossing the bridge;. Again and again he drove back the blue columns, and with nothing behind him for support. Those Georgians fought on until their gun barrels were too hot for the naked hands.

On our left it seemed as if Hades had broken loose. The vol- umes of musketry and noise of the artillery were mingled in one vast roar that shook the earth, and this kept up for nearly two hours. The whole of our front and left was wrapped in an impenetrable cloud of smoke. Then came a lull, and I was sent to the village with canteens to get water. I had a clear view from the steeple of a church which I climbed, and then hurried back and said to Colonel Corse, of my regiment: " We are lost, Colonel; we haven't a single reserve. ' '

" Is it possible ? " he said.