We had halted once or twice to close up the ranks, and had marched some two miles, seeing and hearing nothing more.
I had got all I could out of our new guide, and was striding on, rapt in pleasing contemplation.
All had gone so smoothly that I had merely to fancy the rest as being equally smooth.
Already I fancied our little detachment bursting out of the woods, in swift surprise, upon the Rebel
quarters,--already the opposing commander, after hastily firing a charge or two from his revolver (of course above my head), had yielded at discretion, and was gracefully tendering, in a stage attitude, his unavailing sword,--when suddenly There was a trampling of feet among the advanced guard as they came confusedly to a halt, and almost at the same instant a more ominous sound, as of galloping horses in the path before us. The moonlight outside the woods gave that dimness of atmosphere within which is more bewildering than darkness, because the eyes cannot adapt themselves to it so well.
Yet I fancied, and others aver, that they saw the leader of an approaching party mounted on a white horse and reining up in the pathway; others, again, declare that he drew a pistol from the holster and took aim; others beard the words, “Charge in upon them!
But all this was confused by the opening rifle-shots of our advanced guard, and, as clear observation was impossible, I made the men fix their bayonets and kneel in the cover on each side the pathway, and I saw with delight the brave fellows, with Sergeant Mcintyre
at their head, settling down in the grass as coolly and warily as if wild turkeys were the only game.
Perhaps at the first shot a man fell at my elbow.
I felt it no more than if a tree had fallen,--I was so busy watching my own men and the enemy, and