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A temporary panic.

We had now been about seven hours in action, some two at this particular point, and the strain was intense. Off on the right one fellow sprang up, dropped his gun to a trail, and made off back into the woods like a quarter-horse. The panic instantly spread, and up and down the line men took to their heels. To tell the honest truth, I gave leg-bail myself, but at the second or third bound a revered and gentle voice, now long silent, whispered reproach, and I wheeled about and caught at the nearest fugitive. He tore loose and half knocked me over. A young officer ran up to the rescue, and as he nailed one man I seized another. They, too, broke away. The officer presented his sword to the next man's breast, and throwing my musket arms-a-port I halted two. For one instant there was a rally; the next they surged over us, and made off as if the devil was behind them. What became of the young officer I know not. I thought I might as well be shot front as rear, and walked back to my tree. Two or three of our men were blazing away. The smoke was lifting a little, and the enemy were preparing to advance. Half a dozen heads had already popped up out of the timber. Back of them their main line was reforming. It was not more than half its original size—had no colors, and otherwise showed marks of the pounding it had received. It seemed very reluctant to advance, and in a few minutes this hesitancy was explained. There was a rousing shout behind; our men had reformed as suddenly as they had run away, and here they came back at a double-quick, yelling vociferously. Down they went again behind the logs, and reopened most vigorously, as if rather refreshed than otherwise by the scare. It [418] makes me laugh now to think of the whoop I gave as they came up. It would have done honor to a Comanche. Hope was almost gone, and the sight once more of these brave men's faces and the cheery ring of their guns was like the breath of life.


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