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[82]

About 4 o'clock in the afternoon the vidette was startled by a long line of skirmishers stepping out of the woods in his front and advancing; jumping to his feet he made for Colonel Johnson. He had got only a short distance when he saw their line of battle following. Now, that fellow just dusted, made his report to Colonel J., who at once called the line to attention; the command was given, ‘right, face; double quick, march,’ and away we went north, through the woods. All of us were wondering what had become of old Jack. When we got through the woods he was the first man we saw, and looking beyond we could see that his command was massed in a large field; arms stacked, batteries parked and everything resting. Colonel Johnson rode up to General Jackson, made his report, when General Jackson turned to his staff, gave each an order, and in a moment the field was a perfect hubbub-men riding in all directions, infantry getting to arms, cannoneers to their guns, and the drivers mounting. But you could see the master-hand now, even while I am telling this you could hear the sharp command of an officer, ‘right face; forward, march,’ and a body of skirmishers marched out of that confused mass right up to old Jack, when the officer gave the command to ‘file right,’ and the next instant to deploy, and the movement was done in a twinkle, and forward they went to meet the enemy; General Jackson had waited to see this; he then turned to Colonel Johnson, and told him to let his men stack arms and rest, as they had been on duty since the day before; he would not call on them if he could do without them, and off he went with the advance skirmishers. Another body of skirmishers had in the meantime marched out and filed to the left and gone forward, a column of infantry was unwinding itself out of that mass and marching up to the same point as the skirmishers had, filed to right, fronted and went forward; another was now filing to the left, while the third column moved straight ahead. Some of the artillery followed each column of infantry. This was the most perfect movement of troops I saw during the war, and now the crack of musket and the bang of artillery told us that the lines had met; the fire in a few minutes was terrific.

An officer soon came for the 2nd Brigade, to report on the extreme left of Jackson's line. On getting there, the entire brigade was formed as skirmishers and ordered forward, and after getting a certain distance were halted and ordered to lie down. We staid there all night, sleeping on arms. The enemy did not appear in our front, but the right had a hard fight, in which the enemy were defeated


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