seemed almost miraculous; at other times we lay in quiet, and undisturbed. So you see for five days we were constantly at work, either supporting batteries or fighting infantry. The horrors of the battle-field I must describe to you in another letter, as the mail-boy calls for this. I have seen sights and gone through what I hope will never be my lot again. We are now resting a little.
Harper's Ferry, September, 23, 1862.Yesterday (Monday), A. M., we left Sharpsburg, the scene of our victories, and marched to this place, about twelve miles. We were nearly ten hours, marching quite slowly, and being some time fording the Potomac, the Rebels having burned the bridge. The spot is the most beautiful and romantic I ever was in. .... As we stand in our camp and look down the river, the mountains, separated by its bed, seem gradually to meet in the distance. I wish I could describe the picture. I stood and gazed with awe this morning, as the golden-tinted fog at sunrise rolled off the mountain and filled the gap. Just so beautiful too was the scenery in the region of the battle-field,—fertile fields, thickly-wooded mountains, and rolling valleys met the eye everywhere, and it seemed wicked that war should lay all this waste. I hope the North is satisfied with what the army has done, and to think too that the old Army of the Potomac should have done the chief part of the fighting! But, as usual, one thing was left undone,—the enemy were not bagged. I was on guard the night they left, and it was evident to us that they were leaving. . . . . That night on guard in the cornfield was horrid. As I went round to visit my men, I stumbled everywhere over dead men; everywhere I was met with the cry of Rebels, wounded two days before, calling for water. I could hear one who died about morning, and who proved to be a major, saying, in the pleasantest possible voice, “Henry, Henry; bring me some water, Henry” ; and another crying, “O my God! Won't somebody bring me some water?” As I passed along in the night, I was startled by a whisper which seemed to come from a heap of dead bodies. “Sam, where's the regiment?” I found he was a wounded sergeant from the Thirtieth North Carolina Regiment. I gave him some water, and afterwards he was taken into camp. He was very gentle and quiet, and bore his suffering bravely. I will not distress you with these details. The scenes were terrible enough to us, and will long haunt my memory. . . . . I am well, though I have slept on the ground eight nights, my only covering a
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Ode recited at the Harvard commemoration, July 21 , 1865 .
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