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[17] battle eight hundred muskets, now stood on the crest, ready to die in a forlorn hope, with but forty-six muskets. My company, that often used to march in a grand review in two platoons of fifty men each, carried into Sharpsburg but two muskets (the writer and one other), commanded by Lieutenant Perry. Is it a wonder that we deliberately made up our minds to die on that hill, knowing what a force must be sent against us?

All at once, an eight gun battery, detecting our position, tried to shell us out, preparatory to their infantry advance, and the air around was filled by the bursting iron. Our battery of four guns took its place about twenty steps on our right, for our right flank was entirely undefended. They replied to the enemy. During the fire a shell burst not ten feet above where the Seventeenth lay, prone on their faces, and literally tore poor Appich, of Company E, to pieces, shattering his body terribly, and causing the blood to spatter over many who lay around him. A quiver of the form, and then it remained still. Another Hotchkiss came screeching where we lay, and exploded, two more men were borne to the rear; still the line never moved nor uttered a sound. The shells split all around, and knocked up the dust until it sprinkled us so, that if it intended to keep the thing up, it threatened to bury the command alive.

Oh, those long minutes that we lay with closed eyes, expecting mutilation, and a shock of the plunging iron, with every breath we drew—would it never end? But it kept up for fully fifteen minutes, and the men clenched their jaws tight and never moved; a line of corpses could not have been more stirless.

At last! at last! the firing totally ceases, then the battery with us limbered up and moved away, because, as they said, their ammunition was exhausted; but murmurs and curses loud and deep were heard from the brigade, who openly charged the battery with deserting them in the coming ordeal. It was in truth a desertion, for instead of throwing their shells at the enemy's eight gun battery, thereby drawing their dreadful fire upon us, they should have laid low and waited until the infantry attack was made, then every shot would have told, every shell or solid shot a help—but they moved away and left us.

An ominous silence followed premonitory of the deluge. The Seventeenth lay with the rest of the brigade, recumbent on the earth, behind the fence, with their rifles resting on the lower rails. The men's faces are pale, their features set, their hearts throbbing, their muscles strung like steel.


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