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[61] record if I did not here state that I would have gladly then and there ended the war, changed the situation of affairs and transferred myself to the scene of these memories, far away from the angry roar of hostile cannon.

The crisis is now at hand. General Mahone, seizing the colors of one of our regiments, commands us to move forward. We rush up the slope of the hill towards the enemy, yelling at the top of our voices. Just as we near the brow of the hill, when my eye, on a level with them, takes in the field with its houses, I catch a glimpse of four artillery horses hitched to a gun, or to a caisson, dashing away at full speed. At the sight of this my heart leaped with joy. The enemy are flying! Their artillery and infantry are routed! We are victors without firing a gun! These were my thoughts. But I was terribly mistaken. My eye saw only those four horses in flight. No men, no other horses drawing pieces of artillery, no infantry, are flying. It was imagination—the wish being father to the thought—which, magnifying for the instant what was actually seen, had drawn the picture of the whole force of the enemy in full retreat.

Our line of battle was allowed to get well upon the hill, when the enemy's infantry, stationed not more than one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards in front of us, and their artillery in the rear of the infantry, suddenly opened upon us with terrific fury. Our men are driven back with terrible loss, but only to gain the protection of the brow of the hill, there to rally and return to the charge. The enemy's infantry line meanwhile is seemingly immovable. It stood as if at a dress parade. I could scarcely believe my own eyes as I looked upon it. Soon, however, dense volumes of smoke considerably obscured their line, but there were the red flashes of the guns and the crimson-looking Federal colors floating over the dark line of men plainly visible.

The company of which I was a member being next to the right company of the Twelfth Virginia regiment, and this regiment being the right regiment of Mahone's brigade, and Mahone's brigade being on the extreme right of the Confederate line of battle, just where I was the fire from the enemy was not so severe as it appeared to be on our left, and this gave me an opportunity to watch the troops to our left as they repeatedly moved forward in line of battle to charge the enemy. What I now saw impressed me very much. Every few minutes a column, a regiment or two, would move steadily forward in line of battle towards the enemy, cheering as they advanced.

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William Mahone (3)
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