point a field-piece and give it proper elevation according to the distance.
I quickly found the proper elevation by the means well known to artillerists, and then directed the battery to go on firing at that elevation, while I was called upon by the commanding officer
to devote myself to some men with muskets.
I have seen this passion so strong that a major-general commanding an army corps would dismount and act the part of gunner to a fieldpiece, apparently oblivious to the battle raging all along the line of his corps.
Personal feeling in battle is sometimes remarkable, even to the person himself.
In my own experience, the degree of danger was not often entirely unthought of; and in the comparatively few cases where it was, the actual danger was much the greatest ever experienced by me. That such should be the experience of a general in chief command, under the responsibilities of a great battle, is natural enough; but that the same should occur when there is little or no responsibility seems worthy of remark in reference to its apparent cause.
In my first battle,—that of Wilson
's Creek,—where I was a staff officer under a soldier of great experience, ability, and unsurpassed courage,—General Lyon
,—I felt for a long time no sense of responsibility whatever.
I had only to convey his orders to the troops.
Yet the absorption of my mind in the discharge of this simple duty, and in watching the progress of the battle, was so complete that I absolutely had no thought whatever of self.
Even after Lyon
had been twice wounded, both of our horses killed, the troops on our left given way in disorder, leaving us standing in the line, only a few feet to the left of Totten
's battery, under a murderous fire, it did not occur to me that I also might possibly be hit. I had not even thought for a moment that the commanding general ought not to be in such an exposed position, or that his wounds ought to have surgical treatment!