days, and I have missed them.’
I explained that I had been back in our hospitals looking after our wounded, and that my regiment had more men back there than in front just then, but that I was going to have a service as soon as I could assemble the men. And so we soon had a very tender, precious service in full hearing of the enemy's lines.
Some of the meetings we held around Richmond
when we came back from Harrison's Landing
went to meet Pope
—in line of battle at Cedar Run
— and on the march to Second Manassas
—were of deep solemnity and great interest, but I must pass them by at present.
The morning that Early
's Brigade was relieved from its perilous position on the north bank of the Rappahannock
near the Fauquier White Sulphur Springs
, where for twenty-four hours we faced the whole of Pope
's army with an impassable river, swollen by a sudden storm, in our rear, one of the largest congregations I ever saw promptly assembled on an intimation that there would be preaching.
I never saw the army massed within as small a space as at that point.
had purposed crossing his whole army over at the Springs
, and by a rapid march on Warrenton
and the railroad to plant himself firmly on General Pope
's line of retreat.
was thrown across as the advance guard, but the severe storm made the river unfordable, and as we had no pontoon-bridges the movement had to be abandoned.
So men from many other commands as well as our own came to our service until, when I stood up to preach, I seemed to look on a solid acre
of eager listeners.
An artillery duel was going on across the river and an occasional shell would shriek overhead or fall near by, but the service went on, regardless of that strange church music until, as we were singing the last hymn before the service, an immense rifle-shell fell in the centre of the congregation, a few feet from where the preacher was standing.
It fell just between Colonel
(afterwards General) James A. Walker
and Captain Lewis N. Huck
, of the Thirteenth Virginia, and found just space enough to wedge its way in between their legs without striking either.
It was a ‘cap shell,’ the reverse end struck, and it simply buried itself in the soft ground, threw dirt on all around, but did not explode.
There was, of course, a moving back from that spot, as it was supposed that the shell would explode, but the leader of the singing lost no note, his clear, ringing voice did not tremble,