Then for an uncertain period there was a lull, an anxious rest.
At last we limber up and draw out upon the road.
rides in the darkness into the enclosure, and in a low tone bids the drivers of the teams and the men in charge of the spare horses to move on after the company, at the same time enjoining silence; just then some mules close at hand gave a prolonged blast of their unique music, so that the otherwise serious effect of the captain's injunction was ludicrously spoiled.
We have no doubt this was appreciated by the brave captain, for he next inquired, in his usual tones, for some one who was missing, and receiving no definite information, remarked that the one in question would ‘go to Richmond
The company was now moving along at a rapid pace.
So dark was it, that we could not judge from observation whether we were in the general column on a pike, or were a portion of a corps that was making its way by a bridle-path through the woods.
Certainly, narrow and crooked enough for an hour the way was; there appeared to be considerably more than the usual interval between the teams.
The drivers had to employ all their skill to prevent locking their wheels with the trees.
At length a carriage was held fast; its right hind hub was flush with the trunk of a large tree, and was plumb against another.
The drivers of the following team dismounted and sought to render assistance, grasping the wheel, lifting, and endeavoring with the aid of the horses, whose drivers tried to back them, to throw the wheel away from the tree.
No officer, commissioned or non-commissioned, was at hand.
It required more strength than was afforded by the willing men present.
Now the pickets came along, their canteens rattling as they walked, and the drivers besought them, in vain, to lend a hand; they were intent upon making as good time as possible.
As they strung along, the drivers would fruitlessly repeat the request.
At last, an officer who had evidently been superintending and hastening forward the pickets, and looking personally to the movements of the rear on this retreat, rode up in time to hear one of the last appeals of the drivers.
‘A half dozen of you men hand your muskets to others, and take hold here,’ said he to the pickets.
The infantry-men, doubtless, in the darkness supposed him to be a lieutenant in charge of the teams, and paid no heed.
As the order was repeated, one of the men said: ‘We don't belong to the ’