Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/265

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A Confederate Veteran. 259

cavalry hovered in their front and protected our right. Far as the vision could extend to our left in the direction of Fredericksburg the blue-coated divisions were advancing to the attack, while the sun's rays glanced from ranks bright with steel, with flashing swords and glistening bayonets. It was a sight to stir the heart and quicken the pulse of every beholder. We had halted in a road before going into action. I looked to the right, and there, a few yards from the road, seated on the ground, was "Old Hines" with his pack close by. He had made up a fire, taken off his shoes, turned his back to the panorama, and was slicing off huge hunks of "corn dodger," which were disappearing in his capacious jaws.


Just then there was a commotion on our right. Stuart, the " Prince of Cavalrymen," his black plume dancing in the air, dashed up with Pelham closely followed by the staff. Then was executed a novel manoeuvre to us a charge of artillery upon artillery. Can- noneers scrambled on guns and caissons, and under lash and spur the whole battalion thundered across that field and took position in pistol range of the enemy's batteries. Then commenced the fiercest and longest sustained artillery duel of the war, prolonged as it was away into the night. The great guns of the enemy posted on the "Stafford heights" across the river, began a terrific cannonade, firing over the heads of their advancing troops, and now the bat- teries in our front and our own joined in the " orchestra of battle. " On left, on right and in centre cannon growled and grumbled and roared like wild beasts for their prey. Cannon speaks to cannon, growl answers growl, roar answers roar an inferno of wild beasts. Shot and shell, shrapnel and cannister whizz and shriek and rend and tear. Trees are battered and torn to pieces ; horses maimed and mangled, are struggling in dumb agony over dead and dying men; caissons are blown up, guns dismounted, and the earth rocks and trembles to the hoarse bellowing of artillery. On our left the long, rolling volleys of musketry told that Burnside was grappling with Lee's matchless infantry, to be hurled back again and again in defeat and death. And then that crashing, deafening sound like the roar of some mighty conflagration a thousand buildings top- pling and falling into volcanoes of fire, the forked tongues of light- ning that blast and wither and burn. Hecla, Vesuvius and ALtna vomiting fire and smoke and death. And then that "yell," louder,