Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/192

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

184 Southern Historical Society Papers.

the smoke from the fresh batteries arise; and I could tell that every musket in more than half our army was unflinchingly belching death's flame into the very faces of the surging foe. How anxiously I watched those forests from which if overpowered, our forces must issue in confusion. Thank God, not a man came out. The wild cheer often vieing with the clangor of battle for ten minutes an. eternity it seemed to my ears dwindled away, then gushed out again, but further off. At last it died out slowly, prolonged shrilly toward the end, as if some Winkelried refused to follow his flying comrades, and was defying death in the shower of iron that seemed to rip and shiver every atom of space save where he was standing.

The terrific charge on the left had failed, but the thunder did not slacken. There were times when the elastic air and the impassive earth seemed to throb with the pulse of battle. At 12 o'clock the firing extended toward the right. We opened fresh batteries, and all, save Davis and Sheridan, were fighting. The terrific fury of the firing at this time cannot be described. It brought the hearts of those who were listening, in the rear, to their mouths. A dozen aw- ful claps of thunder at the same instant might have been heard above the din of that fearful noon, but it could hardly have sensibly in- creased the crushing volume of sound.

Brannan, Baird, Negley, Reynolds, Johnson, and Palmer were engaged in deadly conflict. They had repulsed the great charge of the day, but at heavy cost. The enemy had plenty of reserve, and massed them again on the left. He pushed his lines forward, and the weakness of our brave right was beginning to show. At the end of one short hour Van Cleve was no longer in reserve. He was fighting with Thomas, for the left that terrible, gluttonous left. Wood, too, has been shoved in that direction, under a heavy fire, that cost him heavily; but he cannot stop to answer. He pushed forward and faced to the front, and his men at last returned shot for shot.

At i o'clock the roar of battle had not abated in the least. An- other stream of stragglers break to rear, heavier than the first one. Again I tried to convince myself that this is all legitimate. Men with guns pour out, and I cannot see that they are hurt. Four cais- sons trot out briskly and take up the hill obliquely, hurriedly, it is true, but not panic-stricken. I gallop over and ask the name of the battery. " One of Johnson's" is the reply, " and that is all that -is left."

Once more the stream abated. A thousand men, perhaps, had