men in the outskirts of the woods, within two hundred yards of the works. We lay concealed and very quiet, so as not to draw their fire; our orders being not to fire, unless they opened with cannon upon our troops elsewhere, in which case we were to shoot the gunners. As they did not fire excepting once, when they did no harm, we did not. The day was beautiful, the woods warm and pleasant, and I could not help enjoying it. How different the woods seem from what they have in former seasons. Now the sun shines warm as ever, the tops of the pine-trees whisper in the wind, and the dry leaves and pine needles are as luxurious to lie on; but grape-shot and shells may at any moment come cutting everything to pieces. We don't sit in a social circle as in our picnics at home, but each one takes a tree to himself; and, instead of wandering round in pleasant meditations, we creep on our hands and knees, and talk in whispers.
camp near Yorktown, April 21, 1862.Quarter of a mile from the Rebels' first battery is a rising ground, where the ruins of a fine house stand. There is little left but three large chimneys and the brick foundations of the house. These ruins have been the scene of the sharpshooters' operations for a few days past, and I have been mostly there. So little shooting has been going on, that we have been able to make our arrangements almost as we pleased, and we established ourselves in a style of luxurious comfort quite unknown to privates. From the furniture lying around, two men took bureaus and set them up by a chimney to rest their guns on. Another found a thick tree that divided about five feet from the ground. He cut out the notch large enough for his gun, and put up a seat behind it, where he spied around very much at his ease. I took a position at the side of a chimney, with a black-walnut table in front, the leaf hanging down and making a tolerable protection from bullets, &c., at this distance; and to cover my head I set up two or three timbers, charred rafters, &c., the ends slanting up over my head, leaving a narrow port-hole for the gun. It happened to do me service. Towards night our batteries, stationed very near the chimneys, threw some shell into the works, while we kept our guns levelled at their embrasures. At last, after our cannon had sprinkled their shot and shell in various parts of the fort, an iron howitzer, on the battery nearest and just opposite to us, which not a man had approached all day, now, touched off by an unseen hand, threw a charge of grape or canister at us. It struck the ground a few yards before us, and scattered. Some of the balls struck my table,
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Ode recited at the Harvard commemoration, July 21 , 1865 .
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