planning what to do next.
Some of our soldiers, misunderstanding the order, “Fix bayonets,” were actually charging
with them, dashing off into the dim woods, with nothing to charge at but the vanishing tail of an imaginary horse,--for we could really see nothing.
This zeal I noted with pleasure, and also with anxiety, as our greatest danger was from confusion and scattering; and for infantry to pursue cavalry would be a novel enterprise.
stood by me well in keeping the men steady, as did Assistant Surgeon Minor
, and Lieutenant
, now Captain
How the men in the rear were behaving I could not tell,--not so coolly, I afterwards found, because they were more entirely bewildered, supposing, until the shots came, that the column had simply halted for a moment's rest, as had been done once or twice before.
They did not know who or where their assailants might be, and the fall of the man beside me created a hasty rumor that I was killed, so that it was on the whole an alarming experience for them.
They kept together very tolerably, however, while our assailants, dividing, rode along on each side through the open pinebarren, firing into our ranks, but mostly over the heads of the men. My soldiers in turn fired rapidly,--too rapidly, being yet beginners,--and it was evident that, dim as it was, both sides had opportunity to do some execution.
I could hardly tell whether the fight had lasted ten minutes or an hour, when, as the enemy's fire had evidently ceased or slackened, I gave the order to cease firing.
But it was very difficult at first to make them desist: the taste of gunpowder was too intoxicating.
One of them was heard to mutter, indignantly, “Why de Cunnel order Cease firing
, when de Secesh blazin‘ away ”