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[278] was made very quietly in the darkness, and each regiment was hardly conscious of the presence of the other, as the line was continued to the right and left. Permission was given for the men to lie down but nothing could be unpacked and no fires whatever were allowed, not even the lighting of a match or a pipe and no loud talk or laughter could be indulged in. This state of affairs was anything but pleasant on such a cold night, and, to make matters worse, the information was given out that at 8 o'clock on the following morning the men of the Second Corps were to make an assault on the rebel works.

For some reason the men had been siezed with the belief that the undertaking was to be one of unusual danger and many pinned their names to their clothing to aid in the identification in case of death. The assault formed the main topic of conversation during the remainder of the night, most of which was passed in trotting up and down in the rear of the line in a vain effort to keep warm. The men did not fear death so much, but the thought of receiving a bad wound and being left to suffer in the cold and perhaps to die upon the field was not pleasant and if they looked upon the undertaking with apprehensions and misgivings, they were certainly justified in them. The feeling that there was to be some awful slaughter in the morning was very strong among the men, so strong in fact, that many called to the little drummer boys and gave to them last messages for home and confided to them trinkets they desired should be sent to the family at home in case of their being killed, as they expected to be.

As the hour of eight approached, a man here and there, along the line, would crawl to the top of the ridge, peep over and take a look at the works ‘which in a single night had been made almost if not quite impregnable to a direct assault.’

Shortly before eight o'clock, the Third Brigade was addressed by General Webb. ‘We are ordered to charge the enemy's works,’ he said, ‘and we must do it. Try not to break, for it will be worse if you do. I shall go in with you and the other officers will go also, and we hope we shall succeed.’

In front of the Second Division, fourteen guns looked angrily down upon the level plain over which its men would

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Alexander S. Webb (1)
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