daily routine of the engineer's work, to whose judgment and skill the efficiency of the earthworks of Vicksburg
The narrow escapes they made, the strategems of war they invented to meet existing difficulties, the strong spell that the word duty wrought in them to replace weariness, sickness, and a desire for death, rather than the life of the moment, does not strike the enthusiasm of the masses like the brilliant charge into the vortex of death that a Federal officer made when he leaped, standard in hand, on to the walls of the battery in which so many Missourians were blown up. Yet the 15,000 men who lay secure behind the dirt lines, and the still greater number who lay outside, felt the result of the eternal vigilance of the few scientific men who, in season and out of season, gave unity and design to the labors of the noble soldiers whose rest was little in that unfortunate city.
A few days before the termination of the attack upon Vicksburg
the vanity of a Major of artillery, who because of seniority was the chief of artillery
on the line, caused me a narrow escape from the ‘sudden death’ that the church reminds us every Sunday to pray against.
He had sent a dispatch to Major-General Smith
that the enemy was making a breach in the works, and asking that the engineer officer
report to the works at once.
It was sent to me by General Smith
, with a request to go. As I had been on duty sixteen hours I refused, but Colonel Lockett
persuaded me to go. Just above the courthouse on the river road I was shot in the thigh, but fortunately having the means at hand, and the minnie ball having touched no bone or artery, I had the wound dressed and rode on, reporting to Brigadier-General Vaughn
at Fort Hill
There was nothing the matter with the works, so having plenty of time both General Vaughn
and I expended an incalculable number of hard words on that soft artillery officer.
He got the rheumatism, dug him a cave, and went to studying McMahon
's fortification for the rest of the siege.
The night preceding the surrender was the darkest I ever saw. I had just reported for duty in the rear of the works near the river; depressed in feelings, miserable and weak, an orderly handed me a dispatch and at the same time informed me that the Union
soldiers were running mines under the stockade.
He also told me that the Lieutenant
of engineers placed there had been badly wounded.
The post of danger being there, I literally felt my way over the sleeping soldiers, giving and taking impatient exclamations until I reached the stockade.
Silently I went over the breastworks to find out the direction and extent of the work the enemy was engaged in prosecuting.
On my knees,