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[74] one wounded, so that we could return only two--which the regiment seemed to think a small return of borrowed property! We then took a position in front of the Emmittsburg road and a little north of the peach orchard. We lay all night there, opposite the center of the Federal line, the cemetery being a little to our left front, and the Round Tops on our right.

At one o'clock the next day the great artillery duel, the heaviest in the history of war to that time and probably not exceeded since, was opened by the previously arranged signalgun of the Washington Artillery. It was promptly answered by the Federals--and the din of war was on.

The roar of our guns was terrific. The explosion of the Federal shells, with a different sound, added to the tumult. In the midst of it our officers and men engaged were busy with their work, pausing only to give a cheer at the sight of an exploding caisson of the Federals. The work went on mechanically. Few orders were given and those had to be shouted. As soon as Pickett's division passed through our guns on their way to the charge a respite was gained, the dead were removed, the wounded cared for, and the survivors breathed more freely.

The question is often asked, “How does a man feel in such an action?” Comparatively few men are physical and moral cowards. Even when the courage is wanting, the example and opinion of comrades often acts in place of it. Brave men cheerfully acknowledge their appreciation of the danger. The most trying time is “waiting to go in.” The silence before the coming battle is oppressive. Many mental and physical exhibitions will be noticed, and if the battle is on, the sight of the wounded men streaming back is disheartening.

But when once engaged, the sense of duty and the absorption of occupation will greatly overcome every other sensation. Every man has his duty to do, and if he does it he will have little time to think of anything else. No place can be considered safe. In this action, a man was standing behind a tree near our battalion, safe from direct fire. But a passing shell exploded just as it passed; the fragments struck him and tossed his dead body out. The sight reassured those who were in the open.

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