Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 13.djvu/12

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Gregg's Brigade in the Second Battle of Manassas.

dawn the next morning we were on our feet again, pushing on to the Junction to break our long fast on the stores provided for Pope's supply. Arrived there, our mess details were soon made, and we were just about to receive the longed-for rations, when an officer rode up and ordered General Gregg to move his brigade forward immediately to meet the enemy. For once our gallant commander was slow in obeying such an order. He knew that our men were absolutely famishing, and in no condition to march or fight until they had had some food, for, on that march of two days, all the rations we had had were three ears of green corn each, plucked from the field on the road side. Another and more pressing message came, but General Gregg still delaying, that our mess detail should return with our rations, General Jackson himself rode up, and very peremptorily ordered us forward. We had gone but a little distance when the firing ceased. General Archer, with his brigade of our division, having repulsed a brigade of New Jersey troops, which escaping by the train which had brought them from Alexandria, and no other force appearing, we lay during that morning, Wednesday, in the old trenches which General Johnston had built around Manassas.

On our march to this position, we passed through the camp in which our Federal friends had the day before been quietly resting, and saw on all sides abundant supplies. We managed, however, to keep our ranks pretty steadily, until coming up to a large sutler's store, and the firing in front having ceased, thus relieving us from the sense of a pressing necessity for our presence, it was more than our officers could do to restrain our hungry men from a charge upon that well-stored establishment. I do not know where he got it from, but this is the account given by General Gordon of the storming of that sutler's store, and which I do not think you will consider a bad one. He says :

"Weak and haggard from their diet of green corn and apples, one can well imagine with what surprise their eyes opened upon the contents of the sutler's stores, containing an amount and variety of property such as they had never before conceived of. Then came a storming charge of hungry men, rushing in tumultuous mobs over each other's heads, under each other's feet—anywhere, everywhere, to satisfy a craving hunger, stronger than a yearning for fame. There were no laggards in that charge, and there was abundant evidence of the fruits of victory. It is barely possible that the luckless purveyors of luxuries for Pope's army witnessed such amusing scenes without reflecting upon an ensuing ruin. Men, ragged and famished, clutched tenaciously at whatever came in their way, whether of `