‘And his eye runs Sthraight on the barrel sights’ These Negro pickets near Dutch Gap Canal in 1864 were posing proudly for their photograph, unconscious that they were illustrating Halpine's line so closely. The natural love of the Negro for imitating the white folks was not the only trait that distinguished the colored troops at Dutch Gap. Work on the canal proved to be very dangerous. The Confederate sharpshooters in the vicinity were continually firing at the men from tree-tops, and several mortars were continually dropping bombs among the squads, who had to seek refuge in dug-outs. In the fall of 1864 most of the labor was performed by colored troops. General P. S. Michie reports that they ‘displayed the greatest courage and fortitude, and maintained under the most trying circumstances their usual good humor and cheerful disposition.’ Such a record may encourage their well-wishers.
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