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   Chapter 32 GAINES'S MILL

The Long Roll By Mary Johnston Characters: 44283

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Dawn broke cold and pure, the melancholy ashen seas slowly, slowly turning to chill ethereal meads of violets, the violet more slowly yet giving place to Adonis gardens of rose and daffodil. The forests stood dew-drenched and shadowy, solemn enough, deep and tangled woodlands that they were, under the mysterious light, in the realm of the hour whose finger is at her lips. The dawn made them seem still, and yet they were not still. They and the old fields and the marshes and the wild and tangled banks of sluggish water-courses, and the narrow, hidden roads, and the low pine-covered hilltops, and all the vast, overgrown, and sombre lowland were filled with the breathing of two armies. In the cold glory of the dawn there faced each other one hundred and eighty thousand men bent on mutual destruction.

A body of grey troops, marching toward Cold Harbour, was brought to a halt within a taller, deeper belt than usual. Oak and sycamore, pine and elm, beech, ash, birch and walnut, all towered toward the violet meads. A light mist garlanded their tops, and a graceful, close-set underbrush pressed against their immemorial trunks. It was dank and still, dim and solemn within such a forest cavern. Minutes passed. The men sat down on the wet, black earth. The officers questioned knew only that Fitz John Porter was falling back from Beaver Dam Creek, presumably on his next line of intrenchments, and that, presumably, we were following. "Has Jackson joined?" "Can't tell you that. If he hasn't, well, we'll beat them anyhow!"

This body of troops had done hard fighting the evening before and was tired enough to rest. Some of the men lay down, pillowing their heads on their arms, dozing, dozing in the underbrush, in the misty light, beneath the tall treetops where the birds were cheeping. In the meantime a Federal balloon, mounting into the amethyst air, discovered that this stretch of woodland was thronged with grey soldiers, and signalled as much to Fitz John Porter, falling back with steadiness to his second line at Gaines's Mill. He posted several batteries, and ordered them to shell the wood.

In the purple light the guns began. The men in grey had to take the storm; they were in the wood and orders had not come to leave it. They took it in various ways, some sullenly, some contemptuously, some with nervous twitchings of head and body, many with dry humour and a quizzical front. The Confederate soldier was fast developing a characteristic which stayed with him to the end. He joked with death and gave a careless hand to suffering. A few of the more imaginative and ?sthetically minded lost themselves in open-mouthed contemplation of the bestormed forest and its behaviour.

The cannonade was furious, and though not many of the grey soldiers suffered, the grey trees did. Great and small branches were lopped off. In the dim light they came tumbling down. They were borne sideways, tearing through the groves and coverts, or, caught by an exploding shell and torn twig from twig, they fell in a shower of slivers, or, chopped clean from the trunk, down they crashed from leafy level to level till they reached the forest floor. Beneath them rose shouts of warning, came a scattering of grey mortals. Younger trees were cut short off. Their woodland race was run; down they rushed with their festoons of vines, crushing the undergrowth of laurel and hazel. Other shells struck the red brown resinous bodies of pines, set loose dangerous mists of bark and splinter. As by a whirlwind the air was filled with torn and flying growth, with the dull crash and leafy fall of the forest non-combatants. The light was no longer pure; it was murky here as elsewhere. The violet fields and the vermeil gardens were blotted out, and in the shrieking of the shells the birds could not have been heard to sing even were they there. They were not there; they were all flown far away. It was dark in the wood, dark and full of sound and of moving bodies charged with danger. The whirlwind swept it, the treetops snapped off. "Attention!" The grey soldiers were glad to hear the word. "Forward! March!" They were blithe to hear the order and to leave the wood.

They moved out into old fields, grown with sedge and sassafras, here and there dwarf pines. Apparently the cannon had lost them; at any rate for a time the firing ceased. The east was now pink, the air here very pure and cool and still, each feather of broom sedge holding its row of diamond dewdrops. The earth was much cut up. "Batteries been along here," said the men. "Ours, too. Know the wheel marks. Hello! What you got, Carter?"

"Somebody's dropped his photograph album."

The man in front and the man behind and the man on the other side all looked. "One of those folding things! Pretty children! one, two, three, four, and their mother.-Keep it for him, Henry. Think the Crenshaw battery, or Braxton's, or the King William, or the Dixie was over this way."

Beyond the poisoned field were more woods, dipping to one of the innumerable sluggish creeks of the region. There was a bridge-weak and shaken, but still a bridge. This crossed at last, the troops climbed a slippery bank, beneath a wild tangle of shrub and vine, and came suddenly into view of a line of breastworks, three hundred yards away. There was a halt; skirmishers were thrown forward. These returned without a trigger having been pulled. "Deserted, sir. They've fallen back, guns and all. But there's a meadow between us and the earthworks, sir, that-that-that-"

The column began to move across the meadow-not a wide meadow, a little green, boggy place commanded by the breastworks. Apparently grey troops had made a charge here, the evening before. The trees that fringed the small, irregular oval, and the great birds that sat in the trees, and the column whose coming had made the birds to rise, looked upon a meadow set as thick with dead men as it should have been with daisies. They lay thick, thick, two hundred and fifty of them, perhaps, heart pierced, temple pierced by minie balls, or all the body shockingly torn by grape and canister. The wounded had been taken away. Only the dead were here, watched by the great birds, the treetops and the dawn. They lay fantastically, some rounded into a ball, some spread eagle, some with their arms over their eyes, some in the posture of easy sleep. At one side was a swampy place, and on the edge of this a man, sunk to the thigh, kept upright. The living men thought him living, too. More than one started out of line toward him, but then they saw that half his head was blown away.

They left the meadow and took a road that skirted another great piece of forest. The sun came up, drank off the vagrant wreaths of mist and dried the dew from the sedge. There was promise of a hot, fierce, dazzling day. Another halt. "What's the matter this time?" asked the men. "God! I want to march on-into something happening!" Rumour came back. "Woods in front of us full of something. Don't know yet whether it's buzzards or Yankees. Get ready to open fire, anyway." All ready, the men waited until she came again. "It's men, anyhow. Woods just full of bayonets gleaming. Better throw your muskets forward."

The column moved on, but cautiously, with a strong feeling that it, in its turn, was being watched-with muskets thrown forward. Then suddenly came recognition. "Grey-grey!-See the flag! They're ours! See-" Rumour broke into jubilant shouting. "It's the head of Jackson's column! It's the Valley men! Hurrah! Hurrah! Stonewall! Stonewall Jackson! Yaaaih! Yaaaaaihhhh!-'Hello, boys! You've been doing pretty well up there in the blessed old Valley!' 'Hello, boys! If you don't look out you'll be getting your names in the papers!' 'Hello, boys! come to help us kill mosquitoes? Haven't got any quinine handy, have you?' 'Hello, boys! Hello Kernstown, McDowell, Front Royal, Winchester, Harper's Ferry, Cross Keys, Port Republic! Yaaaih! Yaaaaaihh!' 'Hello, you damned Cohees! Are you the foot cavalry?'-65th Virginia, Stonewall Brigade? Glad to see you, 65th! Welcome to these here parts. What made you late? We surely did hone for you yesterday evening. Oh, shucks! the best gun'll miss fire once in a lifetime. Who's your colonel? Richard Cleave? Oh, yes, I remember! read his name in the reports. We've got a good one, too,-real proud of him. Well, we surely are glad to see you fellows in the flesh!-Oh, we're going to halt. You halted, too?-Regular love feast, by jiminy! Got any tobacco?"

A particularly ragged private, having gained permission from his officer, came up to the sycamore beneath which his own colonel and the colonel of the 65th were exchanging courtesies. The former glanced his way. "Oh, Cary! Oh, yes, you two are kin-I remember. Well, colonel, I'm waiting for orders, as you are. Morally sure we're in for an awful scrap. Got a real respect for Fitz John Porter. McClellan's got this army trained, too, till it isn't any more like the rabble at Manassas than a grub's like a butterfly! Mighty fine fighting machine now. Fitz John's got our old friend Sykes and the Regulars. That doesn't mean what it did at Manassas-eh? We're all Regulars now, ourselves.-Yes, Cold Harbour, I reckon, or maybe a little this way-Gaines's Mill. That's their second line. Wonderful breastworks. Mac's a master engineer!-Now I'll clear out and let you and Cary talk."

The two cousins sat down on the grass beneath the sycamore. For a little they eyed each other in silence. Edward Cary was more beautiful than ever, and apparently happy, though one of his shoes was nothing more than a sandal, and he was innocent of a collar, and his sleeve demanded a patch. He was thin, bright-eyed, and bronzed, and he handled his rifle with lazy expertness, and he looked at his cousin with a genuine respect and liking. "Richard, I heard about Will. I know you were like a father to the boy. I am very sorry."

"I know that you are, Edward. I would rather not talk about it, please. When the country bleeds, one must put away private grief."

He sat in the shade of the tree, thin and bronzed and bright-eyed like his cousin, though not ragged. Dundee grazed at hand, and scattered upon the edge of the wood, beneath the little dogwood trees, lay like acorns his men, fraternizing with the "Tuckahoe" regiment. "Your father and Fauquier-?"

"Both somewhere in this No-man's Land. What a wilderness of creeks and woods it is! I slept last night in a swamp, and at reveille a beautiful moccasin lay on a log and looked at me. I don't think either father or Fauquier were engaged last evening. Pender and Ripley bore the brunt of it. Judith is in Richmond."

"Yes. I had a letter from her before we left the Valley."

"I am glad, Richard, it is you. We were all strangely at sea, somehow-She is a noble woman. When I look at her I always feel reassured as to the meaning and goal of humanity."

"I know-I love her dearly, dearly. If I outlive this battle I will try to get to see her-"

Off somewhere, on the left, a solitary cannon boomed. The grey soldiers turned their heads. "A signal somewhere! We're spread over all creation. Crossing here and crossing there, and every half-hour losing your way! It's like the maze we used to read about-this bottomless, mountainless, creeky, swampy, feverish, damned lowland-"

The two beneath the sycamore smiled. "'Back to our mountains,' eh?" said Edward. Cleave regarded the forest somewhat frowningly. "We are not," he said, "in a very good humour this morning. Yesterday was a day in which things went wrong."

"It was a sickening disappointment," acknowledged Edward. "We listened and listened. He's got a tremendous reputation, you know-Jackson. Foreordained and predestined to be at the crucial point at the critical moment! Backed alike by Calvin and God! So we looked for a comet to strike Fitz John Porter, and instead we were treated to an eclipse. It was a frightful slaughter. I saw General Lee afterwards-magnanimous, calm, and grand! What was really the reason?"

Cleave moved restlessly. "I cannot say. Perhaps I might hazard a guess, but it's no use talking of guesswork. To-day I hope for a change."

"You consider him a great general?"

"A very great one. But he's sprung from earth-ascended like the rest of us. For him, as for you and me, there's the heel undipped and the unlucky day."

The officers of the first grey regiment began to bestir themselves. Fall in-Fall in-Fall in! Edward rose. "Well, we shall see what we shall see. Good-bye, Richard!" The two shook hands warmly; Cary ran to his place in the line; the "Tuckahoe" regiment, cheered by the 65th, swung from the forest road into a track leading across an expanse of broom sedge. It went rapidly. The dew was dried, the mist lifted, the sun blazing with all his might. During the night the withdrawing Federals had also travelled this road. It was cut by gun-wheels, it was strewn with abandoned wagons, ambulances, accoutrements of all kinds. There were a number of dead horses. They lay across the road, or to either hand in the melancholy fields of sedge. From some dead trees the buzzards watched. One horse, far out in the yellow sedge, lifted his head and piteously neighed.

The troops came into the neighbourhood of Gaines's Mill. Through grille after grille of woven twig and bamboo vine they descended to another creek, sleeping and shadowed, crossed it somehow, and came up into forest again. Before them, through the trees, was visible a great open space, hundreds of acres. Here and there it rose into knolls, and on these were planted grey batteries. Beyond the open there showed a horseshoe of a creek, fringed with swamp growth, a wild and tangled woodland; beyond this again a precipitous slope, almost a cliff, mounting to a wide plateau. All the side of the ascent was occupied by admirable breastworks, triple lines, one above the other, while at the base between hill and creek, within the enshadowing forest, was planted a great abattis of logs and felled trees. Behind the breastwork and on the plateau rested Fitz John Porter, reinforced during the night by Slocum, and now commanding thirty-five thousand disciplined and courageous troops. Twenty-two batteries frowned upon the plain below. The Federal drums were beating-beating-beating. The grey soldiers lay down in the woods and awaited orders. They felt, rather than saw, that other troops were all about them,-A. P. Hill-Longstreet-couched in the wide woods, strung in the brush that bordered creek and swamp, massed in the shelter of the few low knolls.

They waited long. The sun blazed high and higher. Then a grey battery, just in front of this strip of woods, opened with a howitzer. The shell went singing on its errand, exploded before one of the triple tiers. The plateau answered with a hundred-pounder. The missile came toward the battery, overpassed it, and exploded above the wood. It looked as large as a beehive; it came with an awful sound, and when it burst the atmosphere seemed to rock. The men lying on the earth beneath jerked back their heads, threw an arm over their eyes, made a dry, clicking sound with their tongue against their teeth. The howitzer and this shell opened the battle-again A. P. Hill's battle.

Over in the forest on the left, near Cold Harbour, where Stonewall Jackson had his four divisions, his own, D. H. Hill's, Ewell's, and Whiting's, there was long, long waiting. The men had all the rest they wanted, and more besides. They fretted, they grew querulous. "Oh, good God, why don't we move? There's firing-heavy firing-on the right. Are we going to lie here in these swamps and fight mosquitoes all day? Thought we were brought here to fight Yankees! The general walking in the forest and saying his prayers?-Oh, go to hell!"

A battery, far over on the edge of a swamp, broke loose, tearing the sultry air with shell after shell tossed against a Federal breastwork on the other side of the marsh. The Stonewall Brigade grew vividly interested. "That's D. H. Hill over there! D. H. Hill is a fighter from way back! O Lord, why don't we fight too? Holy Moses, what a racket!" The blazing noon filled with crash and roar. Ten of Fitz John Porter's guns opened, full-mouthed, on the adventurous battery.

It had nerve, élan, sheer grit enough for a dozen, but it was out-metalled. One by one its guns were silenced,-most of the horses down, most of the cannoneers. Hill recalled it. A little later he received an order from Jackson. "General Hill will withdraw his troops to the left of the road, in rear of his present position, where he will await further orders." Hill went, with shut lips. One o'clock-two o'clock-half-past two. "O God, have mercy! Is this the Army of the Valley?"

Allan Gold, detached at dawn on scout duty, found himself about this time nearer to the Confederate centre than to his own base of operations at the left. He had been marking the windings of creeks, observing where there were bridges and where there were none, the depth of channels and the infirmness of marshes. He had noted the Federal positions and the amount of stores abandoned, set on fire, good rice and meat, good shoes, blankets, harness, tents, smouldering and smoking in glade and thicket. He had come upon dead men and horses and upon wounded men and horses. He had given the wounded drink. He had killed with the butt of his rifle a hissing and coiled snake. He had turned his eyes away from the black and winged covering of a dead horse and rider. Kneeling at last to drink at a narrow, hidden creek, slumbering between vine-laden trees, he had raised his eyes, and on the other side marked a blue scout looking, startled, out of a hazel bush. There was a click from two muskets; then Allan said, "Don't fire! I won't. Why should we? Drink and forget." The blue scout signified acquiescence. "All right, Reb. I'm tired fighting, anyway! Was brought up a Quaker, and wouldn't mind if I had stayed one! Got anything to mix with the water?"

"No."

"Well, let's take it just dry so." Both drank, then settled back on their heels for a moment's conversation. "Awful weather," said the blue scout. "Didn't know there could be such withering heat! And malaria-lying out of nights in swamps, with owls hooting and jack-o'-lanterns round your bed! Ain't you folks most beat yet?"

"No," said the grey scout. "Don't you think you've about worn your welcome out and had better go home?-Look out there! Your gun's slipping into the water."

The blue recovered it. "It's give out this morning that Stonewall Jackson's arrived on the scene."

"Yes, he has."

"Well, he's a one-er! Good many of you we wish would desert.-No; we ain't going home till we go through Richmond."

"Well," said Allan politely, "first and last, a good many folk have settled hereabouts since Captain John Smith traded on the Chickahominy with the Indians. There's family graveyards all through these woods. I hope you'll like the country."

The other drank again of the brown water. "It wasn't so bad in the spring time. We thought it was awful lovely at first, all spangled with flowers and birds.-Are you married?"

"No."

"Neither am I. But I'm going to be, when I get back to where I belong. Her name's Flora."

"That's a pretty name."

"Yes, and she's pretty, too-" He half closed his eyes and smiled blissfully, then rose from the laurels. "Well, I must be trotting along, away from Cold Harbour. Funniest names! What does it mean?"

"It was an inn, long ago, where you got only cold fare. Shouldn't wonder if history isn't going to repeat itself-" He rose, also, tall and blonde. "Well, I must be travelling, too-"

"Rations getting pretty low, aren't they? How about coffee?"

"Oh, one day," said Allan, "we're going to drink a lot of it! No, I don't know that they are especially low."

The blue scout dipped a hand into his pocket. "Well, I've got a packet of it, and there's plenty more where that came from.-Catch, Reb!"

Allan caught it. "You're very good, Yank. Thank you."

"Have you got any quinine?"

"No."

The blue scout tossed across a small box. "There's for you! No, I don't want it. We've got plenty.-Well, good-bye."

"I hope you'll get back safe," said Allan, "and have a beautiful wedding."

The blue vanished in the underbrush, the grey went on his way through the heavy forest. He was moving now toward sound, heavy, increasing, presaging a realm of jarred air and ringing ear-drums. Ahead, he saw a column of swiftly moving troops. Half running, he overtook the rear file. "Scout?"-"Yes-Stonewall Brigade-" "All right! all right! This is A. P. Hill's division.-Going into battle. Come on, if you want to."

Through the thinning woods showed a great open plain, with knolls where batteries were planted. The regiment to which Allan had attached himself lay down on the edge of the wood, near one of the cannon-crowned eminences. Allan stretched himself beneath a black gum at the side of the road. Everywhere was a rolling smoke, everywhere terrific sound. A battery thundered by at a gallop, six horses to each gun, straining, red-nostrilled, fiery-eyed. It struck across a corner of the plain. Over it burst the shells, twelve-pounders-twenty-pounders. A horse went down-the drivers cut the traces. A caisson was struck, exploded with frightful glare and sound. About it, when the smoke cleared, writhed men and horses, but the gun was dragged off. Through the rain of shells the battery gained a lift of ground, toiled up it, placed the guns, unlimbered and began to fire. A South Carolina brigade started with a yell from the woods to the right, tore in a dust cloud across the old fields, furrowed with gullies, and was swallowed in the forest about the creek which laved the base of the Federal position. This rose from the level like a Gibraltar, and about it now beat a wild shouting and rattle of musketry. Allan rose to his knees, then to his feet, then, drawn as by a magnet, crept through a finger of sumach and sassafras, outstretched from the wood, to a better vantage poi

nt just in rear of the battery.

Behind him, through the woods, came a clatter of horses' hoofs. It was met and followed by cheering. Turning his head, he saw a general and his staff, and though he had never seen Lee he knew that this was Lee, and himself began to cheer. The commander-in-chief lifted his grey hat, came down the dim, overarched, aisle-like road, between the cheering troops. With his staff he left the wood for the open, riding beneath the shelter by the finger of sumach and sassafras, toward the battery. He saw Allan, and reined up iron-grey Traveller. "You do not belong to this regiment.-A scout? General Jackson's?-Ah, well, I expect General Jackson to strike those people on the right any moment now!" He rode up to the battery. The shells were raining, bursting above, around. In the shelter of the hill the battery horses had at first, veteran, undisturbed, cropped the parched grass, but now one was wounded and now another. An arm was torn from a gunner. A second, stooping over a limber chest, was struck between the shoulders, crushed, flesh and bone, into pulp. The artillery captain came up to the general-in-chief. "General Lee, won't you go away? Gentlemen, won't you tell him that there's danger?"

The staff reinforced the statement, but without avail. General Lee shook his head, and with his field-glasses continued to gaze toward the left, whence should arise the dust, the smoke, the sound of Jackson's flanking movement. There was no sign on the left, but here, in the centre, the noise from the woods beyond the creek was growing infernal. He lowered the glass. "Captain Chamberlayne, will you go tell General Longstreet-"

Out of the thunder-filled woods, back from creek and swamp and briar and slashing, from abattis of bough and log, from the shadow of that bluff head with its earthworks one above the other, from the scorching flame of twenty batteries and the wild singing of the minies, rushed the South Carolina troops. The brigadier-Maxey Gregg-the regimental, the company officers, with shouts, with appeals, with waved swords, strove to stop the rout. The command rallied, then broke again. Hell was in the wood, and the men's faces were grey and drawn. "We must rally those troops!" said Lee, and galloped forward. He came into the midst of the disordered throng. "Men, men! Remember your State-Do your duty!" They recognized him, rallied, formed on the colours, swept past him with a cheer and re?ntered the deep and fatal wood.

The battery in front of Allan began to suffer dreadfully. The horses grew infected with the terror of the plain. They jerked their heads back; they neighed mournfully; some left the grass and began to gallop aimlessly across the field. The shells came in a stream, great, hurtling missiles. Where they struck flesh or ploughed into the earth, it was with a deadened sound; when they burst in air, it was like crackling thunder. The blue sky was gone. A battle pall wrapped the thousands and thousands of men, the guns, the horses, forest, swamp, creeks, old fields; the great strength of the Federal position, the grey brigades dashing against it, hurled back like Atlantic combers. It should be about three o'clock, Allan thought, but he did not know. Every nerve was tingling, the blood pounding in his veins. Time and space behaved like waves charged with strange driftwood. He felt a mad excitement, was sure that if he stood upright or tried to walk he would stagger. An order ran down the line of the brigade he had adopted. Attention!

THE BATTLE

He found himself on his feet and in line, steady, clear of head as though he trod the path by Thunder Run. Forward! March! The brigade cleared the wood, and in line of battle passed the exhausted battery. Allan noted a soldier beneath a horse, a contorted, purple, frozen face held between the brute's fore-legs. The air was filled with whistling shells; the broom sedge was on fire. Right shoulder. Shift Arms! Charge!

Somewhere, about halfway over the plain, he became convinced that his right leg from the hip down was gone to sleep. He had an idea that he was not keeping up. A line passed him-another; he mustn't let the others get ahead! and for a minute he ran quite rapidly. There was a yellow, rain-washed gulley before him; the charge swept down one side and up the other. This crack in the earth was two thirds of the way across the open; beyond were the wood, the creek, the abattis, the climbing lines of breastworks, the thirty-five thousand in blue, and the tremendous guns. The grey charge was yelling high and clear, preparing to deliver its first fire; the air a roar of sound and a glaring light. Allan went down one side of the gulley with some ease, but it was another thing to climb the other. However, up he got, almost to the top-and then pitched forward, clutching at the growth of sedge along the crest. It held him steady, and he settled into a rut of yellow earth and tried to think it over. Endeavouring to draw himself a little higher, a minie ball went through his shoulder. The grey charge passed him, roaring on to the shadowy wood.

He helped himself as best he could, staunched some blood, drew his own conclusions as to his wounds. He was not suffering much; not over much. By nature he matched increasing danger with increasing coolness. All that he especially wanted was for that charge to succeed-for the grey to succeed. His position here, on the rim of the gully, was an admirable one for witnessing all that the shifting smoke might allow to be witnessed. It was true that a keening minie or one of the monstrous shells might in an instant shear his thread of life, probably would do so; all the probabilities lay that way. But he was cool and courageous, and had kept himself ready to go. An absorbing interest in the field of Gaines's Mill, a passionate desire that Victory should wear grey, dominated all other feeling. Half in the seam of the gully, half in the sedge at the top, he made himself as easy as he could and rested a spectator.

The battle smoke, now heavily settling, now drifting like clouds before a wind, now torn asunder and lifting from the scene, made the great field to come and go in flashes, or like visions of the night. He saw that A. P. Hill was sending in his brigades, brigade after brigade. He looked to the left whence should come Jackson, but over there, just seen through the smoke, the forest stood sultry and still. Behind him, however, in the wood at the base of the armed hill, there rose a clamour and deep thunder as of Armageddon. Like a grey wave broken against an iron shore, the troops with whom he had charged streamed back disordered, out of the shadowy wood into the open, where in the gold sedge lay many a dead man and many a wounded. Allan saw the crimson flag with the blue cross shaken, held on high, heard the officers crying, "Back, men, back! Virginians, do your duty!" The wave formed again. He tried to rise so that he might go with it, but could not. It returned into the wood. Before him, racing toward the gully, came another wave-Branch's brigade, yelling as it charged. He saw it a moment like a grey wall, with the colours tossing, then it poured down into the gully and up and past him. He put up his arms to shield his face, but the men swerved a little and did not trample him. The worn shoes, digging into the loose earth covered him with dust. The moving grey cloth, the smell of sweat-drenched bodies, of powder, of leather, of hot metal, the panting breath, the creak and swing, the sudden darkening, heat and pressure-the passage of that wave took his own breath from him, left him white and sick. Branch went on. He looked across the gully and saw another wave coming-Pender, this time. Pender came without yelling, grim and grey and close-mouthed. Pender had suffered before Beaver Dam Creek; to-day there was not much more than half a brigade. It, too, passed, a determined wave. Allan saw Field in the distance coming up. He was tormented with thirst. Three yards from the gully lay stretched the trunk of a man, the legs blown away. He was almost sure he caught the glint of a canteen. He lay flat in the sedge and dragged himself to the corpse. There was the canteen, indeed; marked with a great U. S., spoil taken perhaps at Williamsburg or at Seven Pines. It was empty, drained dry as a bone. There was another man near. Allan dragged himself on. He thought this one dead, too, but when he reached him he opened large blue eyes and breathed, "Water!" Allan sorrowfully shook his head. The blue eyes did not wink nor close, they glazed and stayed open. The scout dropped beside the body, exhausted. Field's charge passed over him. When he opened his eyes, this portion of the plain was like a sea between cross winds. All the broken waves were wildly tossing. Here they recoiled, fled, even across the gully; here they seethed, inchoate; there, regathering form and might, they readvanced to the echoing hill, with its three breastworks and its eighty cannon. Death gorged himself in the tangled slashing, on the treacherous banks of the slow-moving creek. A. P. Hill was a superb fighter. He sent in his brigades. They returned, broken; he sent them in again. They went. The 16th and 22d North Carolina passed the three lines of blazing rifles, got to the head of the cliff, found themselves among the guns. In vain. Morrell's artillerymen, Morrell's infantry, pushed them back and down, down the hillside, back into the slashing. The 35th Georgia launched itself like a thunderbolt and pierced the lines, but it, too, was hurled down. Gregg's South Carolinians and Sykes Regulars locked and swayed. Archer and Pender, Field and Branch, charged and were repelled, to charge again. Save in marksmanship, the Confederate batteries could not match the Federal; strength was with the great, blue rifled guns, and yet the grey cannoneers wrought havoc on the plateau and amid the breastworks. The sound was enormous, a complex tumult that crashed and echoed in the head. The whole of the field existed in the throbbing, expanded brain-all battlefields, all life, all the world and other worlds, all problems solved and insoluble. The wide-flung grey battlefront was now sickle-shaped, convex to the foe. The rolling dense smoke flushed momently with a lurid glare. In places the forest was afire, in others the stubble of the field. From horn to horn of the sickle galloped the riderless horses. Now and again a wounded one among them screamed fearfully.

Allan dragged himself back to the gully. It was safer there, because the charging lines must lessen speed, break ranks a little; they would not be so resistlessly borne on and over him. He was not light-headed, or he thought he was not. He lay on the rim of the gully that was now trampled into a mere trough of dust, and he looked at the red light on the rolling vapour. Where it lifted he saw, as in a pageant, war in mid-career. Sound, too, had organized. He could have beaten time to the gigantic rhythm. It rose and sank; it was made up of groaning, shouting, breathing of men, gasping, and the sounds that horses make, with louder and louder the thunder of the inanimate, the congregated sound of the allies man had devised,-the saltpetre he had digged, the powder he had made, the rifles he had manufactured, the cannon he had moulded, the solid shot, grape, canister, shrapnel, minie balls. The shells were fearful, Allan was fain to acknowledge. They passed like whistling winds. They filled the air like great rocks from a blasting. The staunchest troops blanched a little, jerked the head sidewise as the shells burst and showered ruin. There came into Allan's mind a picture in the old geography,-rocks thrown up by Vesuvius. He thought he was speaking to the geography class. "I'll show you how they look. I was lying, you see, at the edge of the crater, and they were all overhead." The picture passed away, and he began to think that the minies' unearthly shriek was much like the winter wind round Thunder Run Mountain-Sairy and Tom-Was Sairy baking gingerbread?-Of course not; they didn't have gingerbread now. Besides, you didn't want gingerbread when you were thirsty.... Oh, water, water, water, water!... Tom might be taking the toll-if there was anybody to pay it, and if they kept the roads up. Roses in bloom, and the bees in them and over the pansies.... The wrens sang, and Christianna came down the road. Roses and pansies, with their funny little faces, and Sairy's blue gingham apron and the blue sky. The water-bucket on the porch, with the gourd. He began to mutter a little. "Time to take in, children-didn't you hear the bell? I rang it loudly. I am ringing it now. Listen! Loud, loud-like church bells-and cannons. The old lesson.... Curtius and the gulf."

In the next onrush a man stumbled and came to his knees beside him. Not badly hurt, he was about to rise. Allan caught his arm. "For God's sake-if you've got any water-" The man, a tall Alabamian, looked down, nodded, jerked loose another U. S. canteen, and dropped it into the other's hand. "All right, all right-not at all-not at all-" He ran on, joining the hoar and shouting wave. Allan, the flask set to his lips, found not water, but a little cold and weak coffee. It was nectar-it was happiness-it was life-though he could have drunk ten times the amount!

The cool draught and the strength that was in it revived him, drew his wandering mind back from Thunder Run to Gaines's Mill. Again he wished to know where was the Army of the Valley. It might be over there, in the smoke pall, turning Fitz John Porter's right ... but he did not believe it. Brigade after brigade had swept past him, had been broken, had reformed, had again swept by into the wood that was so thick with the dead. A. P. Hill continued to hurl them in, standing, magnificent fighter! his eyes on the dark and bristling stronghold. On the hill, behind the climbing breastworks and the iron giants atop, Fitz John Porter, good and skilful soldier, withdrew from the triple lines his decimated regiments, put others in their places, scoured with the hail of his twenty-two batteries the plain of the Confederate centre. All the attack was here-all the attack was here-and the grey brigades were thinning like mist wreaths. The dead and wounded choked field and gully and wood and swamp. Allan struck his hands together. What had happened-what was the matter? How long had he lain here? Two hours, at the least-and always it was A. P. Hill's battle, and always the grey brigades with a master courage dashed themselves against the slope of fire, and always the guns repelled them. It was growing late. The sun could not be seen. Plain and woods were darkening, darkening and filled with groaning. It was about him like a melancholy wind, the groaning. He raised himself on his hands and saw how many indeed were scattered in the sedge, or in the bottom of the yellow gully, or slanted along its sides. He had not before so loudly heard the complaining that they made, and for a moment the brain wondered why. Then he was aware that the air was less filled with missiles, that the long musketry rattle and the baying of the war dogs was a little hushed. Even as he marked this the lull grew more and more perceptible. He heard the moaning of the wounded, because now the ear could take cognizance.

The shadow deepened. A horse, with a blood-stained saddle, unhurt himself, approached him, stood nickering for a moment, then panic-struck again, lashed out with his heels and fled. All the plain, the sedge below, the rolling canopy above, was tinged with reddish umber. The sighing wind continued, but the noise of firing died and died. For all the moaning of the wounded, there seemed to fall a ghastly silence.

Over Allan came a feeling as of a pendulum forever stopped, as of Time but a wreck on the shore of Space, and Space a deserted coast, an experiment of some Power who found it ineffective and tossed it away. The Now and Here, petrified forever, desolate forever, an obscure bubble in the sea of being, a faint tracing on the eternal Mind to be overlaid and forgotten-here it rested, and would rest. The field would stay and the actors would stay, both forever as they were, standing, lying, in motion or at rest, suffering, thirsting, tasting the sulphur and feeling the heat, held here forever in a vise, grey shadows suffering like substance, knowing the lost battle.... A deadly weakness and horror came over him. "O God!-Let us die-"

From the rear, to A. P. Hill's right, where was Longstreet, broke a faint yelling. It grew clearer, came nearer. From another direction-from the left-burst a like sound, increasing likewise, high, wild, and clear. Like a breath over the field went the conviction-Jackson-Jackson at last! Allan dropped in the broom sedge, his arm beneath his head. The grey sleeve was wet with tears. The pendulum was swinging; he was home in the dear and dread world.

The sound increased; the earth began to shake with the tread of men; the tremendous guns began again their bellowing. Longstreet swung into action, with the brigades of Kemper, Anderson, Pickett, Willcox, Pryor, and Featherstone. On the left, with his own division, with Ewell's, with D. H. Hill's, Jackson struck at last like Jackson. Whiting, with two brigades, should have been with Jackson, but, missing his way in the wood, came instead to Longstreet, and with him entered the battle. The day was descending. All the plain was smoky or luridly lit; a vast Shield of Mars, with War in action. With Longstreet and with Jackson up at last, Lee put forth his full strength. Fifty thousand men in grey, thirty-five thousand men in blue, were at once engaged-in three hundred years there had been in the Western Hemisphere no battle so heavy as this one. The artillery jarred even the distant atmosphere, and the high mounting clouds were tinged with red. Six miles away, Richmond listened aghast.

Allan forgot his wounds, forgot his thirst, forgot the terror, sick and cold, of the minute past. He no longer heard the groaning. The storm of sound swept it away. He was a fighter with the grey; all his soul was in the prayer. "Let them come! Let them conquer!" He thought, Let the war bleed and the mighty die. He saw a charge approaching. Willingly would he have been stamped into the earth would it further the feet on their way. The grey line hung an instant, poised on the further rim of the gully, then swept across and onward. Until the men were by him, it was thick night, thick and stifling. They passed. He heard the yelling as they charged the slope, the prolonged tremendous rattle of musketry, the shouts, the foiled assault, and the breaking of the wave. Another came, a wall of darkness in the closing day. Over it hung a long cloud, red-stained. Allan prayed aloud. "O God of Battles-O God of Battles-"

The wave came on. It resolved itself into a moving frieze, a wide battle line of tall men, led by a tall, gaunt general, with blue eyes and flowing, tawny hair. In front was the battle-flag, red ground and blue cross. Beside it dipped and rose a blue flag with a single star. The smoke rolled above, about the line. Bursting overhead, a great shell lit all with a fiery glare. The frieze began to sing.

"The race is not to them that's got

The longest legs to run,

Nor the battle to that people

That shoots the biggest gun-"

Allan propped himself upon his hands. "Fourth Texas! Fourth Texas!-Fourth-"

The frieze rushed down the slope of the gully, up again, and on. A foot came hard on Allan's hand. He did not care. He had a vision of keen, bronze faces, hands on gun-locks. The long, grey legs went by him with a mighty stride. Gun-barrel and bayonet gleamed like moon on water. The battle-flag with the cross, the flag with the single star, spread red and blue wings. Past him they sped, gigantic, great ensigns of desperate valour, war goddesses, valkyries, ... rather the great South herself, the eleven States, Rio Grande to Chesapeake, Potomac to the Gulf! All the shells were bursting, all the drums were thundering-

The Texans passed, he sank prone on the earth. Other waves he knew were following-all the waves! Jackson with Ewell, Longstreet, the two Hills. He thought he saw his own brigade-saw the Stonewall. But it was in another quarter of the field, and he could not call to it. All the earth was rocking like a cradle, blindly swinging in some concussion and conflagration as of world systems.

As dusk descended, the Federal lines were pierced and broken. The Texans made the breach, but behind them stormed the other waves,-D. H. Hill, Ewell, the Stonewall Brigade, troops of Longstreet. They blotted out the triple breastworks; from north, west, and south they mounted in thunder upon the plateau. They gathered to themselves here twenty-two guns, ten thousand small arms, twenty-eight hundred prisoners. They took the plateau. Stubbornly fighting, Fitz John Porter drew off his exhausted brigades, plunged downward through the forest, toward the Chickahominy. Across that river, all day long McClellan, with sixty-five thousand men, had rested behind earthworks, bewildered by Magruder, demonstrating in front of Richmond with twenty-eight thousand. Now, at the twelfth hour, he sent two brigades, French and Meagher.

Night fell, black as pitch. The forest sprang dense, from miry soil. The region was one where Nature set traps. In the darkness it was not easy to tell friend from foe. Grey fired on grey, blue on blue. The blue still pressed, here in disorder, here with a steady front, toward the grapevine bridge across the Chickahominy. French and Meagher arrived to form a strong rearguard. Behind, on the plateau, the grey advance paused, uncertain in the darkness and in its mortal fatigue. Here, and about the marshy creek and on the vast dim field beyond, beneath the still hanging battle cloud, lay, of the grey and the blue, fourteen thousand dead and wounded. The sound of their suffering rose like a monotonous wind of the night.

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