Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/210

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

work. It made the jaws ache and the gums and teeth so sore as to cause almost unendurable pain.

After the muskets were issued a line of battle was formed with Cutshaw on the right. For what purpose the line was formed the men could not tell. A short distance from the right of the line there was a grove which concealed an ammunition train which had been sent from Richmond to meet the army. The ammunition had been piled up ready for destruction. An occasional musket ball passed over near enough and often enough to produce a realizing sense of the proximity of the enemy and solemnize the occasion. Towards evening the muskets were stacked, artillery style of course, the men were lying around, chatting and eating raw bacon, and there was general quiet, when suddenly the earth shook with a tremendous explosion and an immense column of smoke rushed up into the air to a great height. For a moment there was the greatest consternation. Whole regiments broke and fled in wild confusion. Cutshaw's men stood up, seized their muskets and stood at attention till it was known that the ammunition had been purposely fired and no enemy was threatening the line. Then, what laughter and hilarity prevailed, for awhile, among these famishing men!

Order having been restored, the march was resumed, and moving by way of Amelia springs, the column arrived near Deatonsville about ten o'clock the morning of Thursday the 6th. The march, though not a long one, was exceedingly tiresome, as the main roads being crowded, the column moved by plantation roads, which were in wretched condition, and crowded with troops and trains. That the night was spent in the most trying manner, may be best learned from the fact that when morning dawned the column was only six or seven miles from the starting point of the evening before.

This delay was fatal. The whole army—trains and all—left Amelia Courthouse in advance of Walker's division, which was left to cover the retreat—Cutshaw's battalion being the last to leave the Courthouse, thus bringing up the rear of the whole army, and being in constant view of the enemy's hovering cavalry. The movement of the division was regulated to suit the movements of the wagon trains, which should have been destroyed on the spot, and the column allowed to make its best time, as owing to the delay it occasioned the army lost the time it had gained on the enemy in the start, and was overtaken the next day.

At Deatonsville another effort to cook was made, but before the