Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/213

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203
Detailed Minutiæ of Soldier Life.

misfortunes of war, there was still left at least one battery worthy to represent the artillery of the army.

As the column marched slowly along, some sharp-eyed man discovered three of the enemy's skirmishers in a field away on the left. More for amusement than anything else, it was proposed to fire at them. A group of men gathered on the roadside, a volley was fired, and to the amazement of the marksmen, for the distance was great, one of the skirmishers fell. One of his comrades started on a run to his assistance, and he, too, was stopped. The third man then scampered away as fast as his legs could carry him. The battalion applauded the good shots and marched on.

At Sailor's creek the detachment which had been left at Deatonsville behind the fence rails to watch and retard the approach of the enemy, having slowly retired before their advance, rejoined the command. Indeed, their resistance and retreat was the beginning of and ended in the battle of Sailor's creek.

The line of battle was formed on Locket's hill, which sloped gently down from the line to the creek, about one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards in rear of and running nearly parallel with the line of battle. A road divided the battalion near the centre. The Howitzers were on the left of this road and in the woods; Garber's men were on the right of the Howitzers, on the opposite side of the road, in a field; Fry's men on the extreme left. To cross the road dividing the line was a hazardous experiment, as the enemy, thinking it an important avenue, swept it with musketry.

It was amusing to see the men hauling out of their pockets a mixture of corn, salt, caps and cartridges, and, selecting the material needed, loading. They were getting ready to stand. They did not expect to run, and did not until ordered to do so.

The enemy's skirmishers advanced confidently and in rather free and easy style, but suddenly met a volley which drove them to cover. Again they advanced in better order, and again the improvised infantry forced them back. Then came their line of battle, with overwhelming numbers; but the battalion stubbornly resisted their advance. The men, not accustomed to the orderly manner of infantry, dodged about from tree to tree, and with the deliberation of huntsmen picked off here and there a man. When a shot "told," the marksman hurrahed! all to himself. There was an evident desire to press forward and drive the advancing foe. Several of the men were so enthusiastic that they had pushed