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[187]

Surgeon Haven's last hasty note (from Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburg) bears date December 9th. At the close of it, he thus refers to the preparatory orders for the disastrous battle of the 13th:—

We have this moment received orders to have to-morrow morning, right after breakfast, three days rations issued to officers and men, and sixty rounds of ammunition to each man. This looks like moving, and it remains to be seen what will be done.

What was done can be read, not only in his own epitaph, but in the broken hearts and desolate homes of, alas! how many. A portion of the sad story can best be told in the words of his superior officer, Surgeon Sherman. After speaking of his ‘sacrifices to duty,’ and ‘utter disregard of danger,’ he says:—

Witnessing his self-exposure at the battle of Antietam, I had, as Medical Director of the Second Division, detailed your son, in a written order, in the event of a battle, to repair to the Division Hospital, and give his services there instead of in the field with his regiment. When I communicated this order to your son, he evidently felt disappointed. He expressed a strong choice to go wherever his regiment went; and when the column to which the Fifteenth Massachusetts was attached was about to pass over the bridge in front of Fredericksburg, he was expostulated with, and reminded of the previous order; but he asked as a special favor to be allowed to go with his regiment, and said that as soon as the fight was done, he would return to the hospital and remain there.

Only a short time after, while marching through the streets of the city by the side of his regiment, toward the position assigned it in that day's battle, he was struck in the leg by a casual shell from the enemy's batteries. Taken back to the nearest hospital, it was for a time hoped that an amputation might save his life; but he never rallied from the shock. And so, cheerful in his agony, upheld by the consciousness of duty performed, in that shattered building, even then rent by an occasional shell, adding fresh confusion and horror to the scene,—surrounded by the dying and dead, amid the groans of those to assuage whose early pangs he had ventured and

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