overruling his council of war, had decided, in desperation, to hurl the Ninth Corps next day, himself at its head, against that self-same eminence.
The officer sat on his horse, looking out into the spectre-making mist and darkness.
Nothing stirred; not the sound of a gun was heard; a dread silence, which one momentarily expected to be broken by the rattle of fire-arms.
All at once he looked down.
He saw something white, not far off, that moved and seemed to be a man. It was, in fact, a thing in human form.
In the obscurity one could not discern what the man was doing.
The officer observed him attentively.
He stooped and rose again; then stooped and handled an object on the ground.
He moved away, and again bent down.
Presently he returned, and began once more his manipulations of the former object.
The chills crept over one.
The darkness and the gloom, and the contrasted stillness from the loud and frightful uproar of the day, except for the intermittent cries of the wounded and dying, groans intermingled with fearful shrieks, and cries for water, and this thing, man or fiend, flitting about on the field, now up, now down, intent on his purpose, seeing nothing else, hearing nothing, seemingly fearing nothing, loving nothing; the hill all overstrewn with dead and the debris of artillery, and mutilated horses — it was a ghostly, weird, wicked scene, sending a shudder through the frame.
“Who goes there V
” at the length the officer said, and rode forward.
“A private,” the man replied, and gave his regiment and company.
“What are you doing here at this hour?”
and so questioning he saw that the man was engaged in putting on the clothes of a dead soldier at his feet.
need clothes and shoes,” he said, “and am taking them from this dead man; he won't need them any more.”
“ You, there!
you are rifling the dead; robbing them of their watches and money.
And the man disappeared into the night like an evil bird that had flown away.
Where he had stood lay the dead man, who had fallen in the charge, stripped of his upper clothing; robbed of his life by the enemy, robbed of his garments by a comrade, alone on the hillside, in the darkness, waited for in some far off Northern home.
The three officers returned to their posts.
Toward morning the general commanding the brigade came out, and, withdrawing his troops a little distance to the rear, took up a new position, less exposed than the former line.
The captains were cautioned to leave