field skirting the road, very busily engaged in efforts to extinguish an extensive fire, raging in the dry grass and fences.
On approaching nearer we found the party to consist of General Reynolds
and his staff.
It was now ascertained that they had, in their desire to prevent unnecessary devastation, voluntarily undertaken to stem the advance of an enemy who, not despising their rank, yet seemed to entertain supreme contempt for their numbers.
It, therefore, became necessary to call in reinforcements.
The brigade promptly furnished them, the fiery enemy was routed, and the march resumed.
In this incident we may infer the kindness of heart and the respect for strict observance of military law by which the general was governed; this being in the infantile period of the war, and when it was conducted under the system of the old regulations, which were soon found not to be well adapted in certain particulars to this peculiar and cruel war. The close of this year seemed to have ended such fastidiousness.
Fences, crops, barns, and houses, railroads, and even towns were afterward swept away by the surging and resistless tide of war, when in the way of an advancing army, or when used as a shield for the enemy, or when necessary to the subsistence and comfort of the army.
In a few weeks, after the occurrence of the incident just mentioned, the bloody battle of Fredericksburg
took place, in which Reynolds
' Corps was a prominent actor, and was the only corps in our whole army that met with any considerable degree of success in that great battle.
That corps, in withdrawing from that sanguinary field, felt like a victor, as it was, indeed, for it charged upon and broke the enemy's lines on their right, and, if prompt support had been rendered, the right flank of Lee
's army would have been turned, his position made untenable, and a great victory for the Army of the Potomac, rather than a bloody repulse, would have been the result.
Twice during the winter, in the way of official duty, we met General Reynolds
in his tent at corps headquarters.
Our duty was to report to him for orders and instructions, and on these occasions the interviews were brief and the words few. He impressed us as being mild and gentlemanly in manner, and an officer of not a very numerous class of old army officers who knew how to treat volunteers in such a way as to secure their respect and confidence.
The next we saw of Reynolds
was at the great review of his corps in April, 1863, at Belle Plain
, by President Lincoln
This was his last review, and but a short time before the battle of Chancellorsville
In this movement, for the first three days, his corps was making