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[335] men who were working would occasionally exchange words with each other regarding their respective avocations as amicably and jovially as if the siege was only a joke and the contending parties were the best of friends.

At three o'clock on the morning of the 20th, Lieutenant Bankston, of Miles's Legion, went out with fifty men, and, deploying them to the right and left in front of our fortifications, drove in the enemy's skirmishers. At the same hour on the morning of the 23d, two of the enemy's regiments attempted to approach our right centre at the sally port of the Plains's Store road, but were discovered and driven back.

The enemy were now bringing their approaches very close to us in front of the First Mississippi position, and every preparation was made to meet an expected onslaught there. In front of the salient angle of our line, Lieutenant Dabney planted a large number of stakes, slightly inclining outward, the points of which were sharpened with a draw knife. Among these wires were stretched at the height of a foot and a half from the ground, so as to trip an advancing line of men, and torpedoes were also placed at proper positions.

The enemy were digging their approaches under cover of cotton bales, which they rolled over in front of them as they advanced. On the 25th of June, Corporal Skelton, of the First Mississippi, volunteered to go out and destroy this cotton.

The first time he made the attempt he reached the cotton, but could not fire it with a burning brand which he carried. He, therefore, returned within the lines, and getting a port fire from the artillery went forth again, set the cotton bales in a blaze and returned unhurt. For this courage and devotion he was complimented by General Gardner in an order of the day.

About dusk next evening, Lieutenant McKennon, of the Sixteenth Arkansas, with thirty men of his regiment, who volunteered to accompany him, went out and captured, at the point of the bayonet, an earthwork on the Clinton road, which was being made at some distance from our lines. They took an officer and several men prisoners, and brought them safely within our works with their guns and a number of sand bags, out of which they had emptied the earth.

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