Some of us, who were one day detailed to accompany a sergeant and artificers out into the woods a short distance in the rear of our picket-line, to construct, under the direction of Col. Arnold
, a lookout, had an opportunity to observe the position of a portion of this section of the vedettes.
Having arrived at the spot where it was designed to build the structure, we were set to cutting timber, from which stout steps or rounds of a ladder were to be fashioned by the artificer, which it seemed were to be secured to a huge old oak on the one hand and on the other to a tall standard which was to be planted in the ground, perhaps three feet from the base of the tree.
The colonel, after giving necessary orders as to the work, directed us, in case of the falling back of the pickets, to retire; and as he was about to leave us to our work, he remarked that when in want of water we could fill our canteens at a spring in a ravine in our front, indicating the direction by pointing.
So, later in the day, several of us went to the spring, which we found to be well down the left slope of the ravine, a basin of pure, cold water bubbling from many a vent in a bed of clean white sand.
A rivulet made its way from the spring to the creek which ran through the ravine.
As we reach the bank of this valley we see beyond, on the other side, a clearing in which is a cornfield, through which extended the Confederate
Occasionally an individual was seen plainly enough, but there was no firing in that part of the line; indeed, it was said that previously, the spring, by the then position of our pickets, was between the lines and was visited by the boys from both sides; at any rate there were the boys in gray a few rods yonder, and all was quiet as would be a Sunday ramble in a Maine wood.
The intensely hot weather during this fortnight in June had a various influence upon the different temperaments and dispositions of the soldiers in camp.
Some were quite enervated and despondent, seeming to catch through the veil a glimpse of misfortune to our arms; some who were constitutionally irascible were heated to contention; others, and the greater number, were warmed into a glow of patriotic ardor, and were impelled to express their faith in the commander of the army and the triumph of our cause.
The veil that hid the disaster, now near at hand, was impenetrable to all, but the volunteer ever seeks to pierce it with his inevitable, ceaseless conjectures, which are born