paddling along bravely when we came in sight of two gunboats; that is, common steamers with some heavy guns on board. There are many in the river and they go up and down to keep it clear. As we drew near, I saw the men were at quarters and the guns run out. We passed between the first boat and the high wooded bank, when I beheld the gunboat captain dancing up and down on the paddle-box and roaring to us: “The left bank is lined with sh-a-a-rp-shooters!” It would have edified you to have seen the swift dignity with which General Meade and his gallant Staff stepped from the open, upper deck to the shady seclusion of the cabin! Our skipper jingled “Stop her,” with his engine-room bell, and stop she did. Here was a chance for war-god Butler. “Hey? What? Sharpshooters? Pshaw! Fiddledeedee! Stop her! Who said stop her? Mr. DeRay, tell the Captain to go on, instantly!” And Butler danced out on the open deck and stood, like George II at Dettingen, in “an attitude of fence.” I, who looked for a brisk volley of musketry, fully expected to see him get a bullet in his extensive stomach. Meanwhile the Captain went on, and, as soon as we were clear, the naval party in the rear (or “astern,” we ought to say) let go one big gun, with a tremendous whang! and sent a projectile about the size of a flour barrel on shore, severely wounding a great many bushes and trees. The other gunboat went ahead of us and kept up a little marine combat, all on her own hook. Whether there really were sharpshooters, I know not: I only think, if there were, it would be difficult to say which party was the more scared. . . . Finally we went on shore where our horses were waiting, for this is not over three and a half miles from the Appomattox, though it is fifteen or sixteen miles round by the river. From the top of the cliff we had a splendid view of
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Table of Contents:
I. First months
IV . Cold Harbor
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