orders,—all was ominous of the impending onslaught.
Far and indistinct in front was the now silent earthwork, seamed, scarred, and ploughed with shot, its flag still waving in defiance.
Among the dark soldiers who were to lead veteran regiments which were equal in drill and discipline to any in the country, there was a lack of their usual lightheartedness, for they realized, partially at least, the dangers they were to encounter.
But there was little nervousness and no depression observable.
It took but a touch to bring out their irrepressible spirit and humor in the old way. When a cannon-shot from the enemy came toward the line and passed over, a man or two moved nervously, calling out a sharp reproof from Lieutenant-Colonel Hallowell
, whom the men still spoke of as ‘the major.’
Thereupon one soldier quietly remarked to his comrades, ‘I guess the major forgets what kind of balls them is!’
Another added, thinking of the foe, ‘I guess they kind of 'spec's we're coming!’
Naturally the officers' thoughts were largely regarding their men. Soon they would know whether the lessons they had taught of soldierly duty would bear good fruit.
Would they have cause for exultation or be compelled to sheathe their swords, rather than lead cowards?
Unknown to them, the whole question of employing three hundred thousand colored soldiers hung in the balance.
But few, however, doubted the result.
Wherever a white officer led that night, even to the gun-muzzles and bayonet-points, there, by his side, were black men as brave and steadfast as himself.
At last the formation of the column was nearly perfected.
The Sixth Connecticut had taken position in