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[135] had attracted the attention of other passers, who were peeping in. We perceived a soldier striking out lustily at a hospital assistant on either hand, each of whom was careful to keep out of range, at the same time watching his opportunity to close with the man. The soldier was giving vent to most wrathful utterances. ‘What would they do with the man?’ we asked of a bystander. ‘Pull a tooth,’ he replied. We did not remain to witness the denouement. One would have thought that the two skirmishers might have endured the struggle the longer, as their prospective victim was exhausting his vitality by strokes in the air and abnormal exhalations. But the poor fellow had soon an opportunity to expend any surplus energy that he might possess, for the next week, it being the second in September, we moved beyond Culpepper, C. H., near where Cedar Creek makes its way to the Rapidan, through pawpaw bushes and other small wood growth.

We were now well on the right of the main line; if an advance were contemplated, we should be in the van; if a retreat, we should share the honors that pertain to the rear-guard in such a movement.

That our coming here was only the commencement of a more extensive enterprise, seemed evident from shadows cast before, or straws which indicated the course of the wind. For example, cavalry were retiring from our front and moving by our right, as if anticipating a flank movement of the enemy. Again, sutlers were ordered to Washington, and the prudent obeyed; but not a few greedy leeches clung to the body of the army, so intent upon absorbing its vitality as to be oblivious to repulse; so when the long Federal line moved by the left flank along the line of railroad between the Rappahannock and the Rapidan, Lee having crossed the latter river and moved north, these fellows were literally on a hot gridiron, hopping frantically from one strip to another. It is a long plain which the railroad (and we followed its course) traverses from Culpepper to Rappahannock Station. And as our long train, moving at rapid pace, swept over the great waste, the extortioners were now sandwiching themselves between the mess and company wagons, then, being ousted, flying timorously along on parallel lines, again bouncing into a gap in the train, to be anon swept out and relegated to a side-track.

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