Colonel Frank Huger
, of South Carolina
, a young officer of great promise and of high personal courage, with his own hands worked one of the guns throughout the fight.
The sharpshooters in this battle sustained heavy losses, having not only skirmished with the enemy during the entire evening, but also participating in the attack with the main line.
The extent of the enemy's losses is known; and the battle itself lives, alone of Confederate victories, on the canvas of John E. Elder
, of Richmond
, whose picture is notable for the absence from it of every recognizable figure of those who bore part in the heroic labors and perils of the bloody day. After this battle the army had a long rest, unbroken except by an occasional fusilade over some wretched deserter.
At this time desertions from the Confederate army had become matters of such common occurrence that it was determined to put a stop to the evil by a summary execution of the law. When men had been taken for this offense, there was held what was called a corps court-martial; when they were found guilty they were remanded to their respective commands, that the sentence might be carried out. The sentence was executed with all the formalities suitable to such occasions, and the scene was well calculated to strike terror to the hearts of those who contemplated the commission of this gravest of all military offenses.
The brigade charged with the duty of executing the sentence was drawn up without arms, forming three sides of a hollow square.
The condemned man, with the firing party, was marched around the inside of the square, the band in front playing a dirge-usually the “Dead march in Saul
These parades were the most disgusting and disagreeable duty encountered during the whole war. One can never forget the looks of the poor fellows moving slowly around to their death.
Some were erect and composed; others so nearly dead from terror at the approach of death as to be reduced almost to a state of coma.
After moving around the circle of the troops, the condemned man was fastened to a stake and shot, and the brigades, filing slowly by the corpse, were dismissed to their quarters.
There were, I am glad to say, no deserters from the sharpshooters, as was natural; for they were the elite
of the army.
When the heavy winter days were ended and spring found us prepared to continue the unequal contest, General Lee
, weary of waiting, his depleted command being somewhat strengthened by its long rest, determined to assume the initiative.
Accordingly, on the 25th of March, a movement was made on our left (Fort Stedman
), which proved a failure.
That very evening Grant