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[350]

Starting on the march, our battalion was ordered to ‘front face!’ and the various company officers made known the cause of the stir and confusion. We were told that fighting would begin on tomorrow, and that we must be ‘brave boys’ and stand firm, be true to our country, etc. That was a solemn time to me; I will never forget it. After this another thing was done that made me more solemn than ever, and it had the same effect upon the other boys. Our commander appeared in our front, with our battle-flag in his hand, and said: ‘Boys, this is our flag; we have no regular color-bearer; who will volunteer to carry it? Whoever will, let him step out.’

The ‘god of day’ was now setting behind the western horizon. All nature seemed to be draped in mourning. It was only a moment, though, before I stepped out and took it. The officer told me to stand still until he made another call. He then said: ‘I want five men to volunteer to go with this color-bearer as guard.’ It was not long before the required number volunteered. I repeat, it was one of the most solemn moments of my life. I knew that to stand under it in time of battle was hazardous, but I was proud that I had the courage to take the position, for it was a place of honor. The officer in charge ordered us to take our places in line, and soon we were on the march.

We marched all night slowly, occasionally halting. The entire army seemed to be on the move. Everything indicated a great battle. We continued our march until about noon next day, when we halted and laid down by the roadside. I dropped down by my flag, and was so worn out that I was soon sound asleep. Oh, I was sleeping so good! Suddenly I was awakened from my sweet rest by some of the boys ‘pounding’ me in the side. ‘Get up! Get up! There is a big battle raging, and we are getting ready to go into it.’ I jumped up quickly, rubbed my eyes, and was soon in place. We moved off in the direction of heavy firing. Cannon were booming and small arms could be heard distinctly. It was now after 4 o'clock P. M., and in less than one hour we had crossed the Chickahominy and were into the thickest of the engagement at Mechanicsville. The battle raged furiously until about 9 o'clock at night. The casualties of my old battalion were very heavy. We fought under many disadvantages. The enemy had felled large trees in their front, and it was with great difficulty that we made our way through this entanglement of tree tops, saplings, vines, and every other conceivable obstruction, under a heavy fire. Many of


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