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[332] to myself, ‘the God of battles has this day delivered these people into our hands.’ But I had time only for a brief glance. Hurrying to where I had tied my horse, I mounted and rode with all possible speed back to where I had left the General. I made my report. Not a word escaped his lips. He raised his eyes to heaven, and his lips seemed to murmur a prayer, and then turning to General Hill said:

‘Order the whole line to advance, General Hill; but slowly, with great caution, and without noise.’

And so the movement commenced slowly, silently, with no sound save the occasional cracking of a stick beneath the feet of the men; those long grey lines stretching far into the gloom of the forest, pressed on; twenty-five thousand veterans of many a hard fought field, who had never moved save in the path of victory; on and on in the gathering evening, the sinking sun casting long shadows behind them, the frightened birds twittering and chirping as they flew from tree to tree, and an occasional bark of a squirrel as he looked out, startled at the unwonted scene, were the only sounds that interrupted the stillness, solemn and oppressive; a strange calm preceding a storm, the light of which has rarely been chronicled in the annals of war.

When our line of battle debouched from the dense wood which effectually concealed the advance, it came immediately upon the Federal encampment and directly in the rear of their whole line. The first intimation the enemy had of our approach was the characteristic Confederate yell, which rolled along the line, and rung out clear and loud above the thunderous clash of musketry and re-echoed through the forest, which had until then been as silent as the grave. Never was surprise so complete, never was a victory more easily won. As our lines swept like an avalanche over the Federal camps, they were overwhelmed and outnumbered at every point, resistance was paralyzed, and the panic which ensued is indescribable. On the part of the enemy it was not a retreat, but the wildest flight—a race for life.

At one time during the evening a young officer, wild with enthusiasm, dashed up to the General, crying: ‘General, they are running too fast for us; we can't come up with them.’ ‘They never run too fast for me, sir,’ was the immediate response. And thus onward rushed pursuers and pursued down the road toward Chancellorsville. Now and then Jackson would press his horse to a gallop

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