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 embankments and rain-washed parapets, they answered, with infinite courage and the scantiest supply of ammunition, the fire from two hundred and twenty siege guns. The trenches were narrow; in the rifle-pits the men could not extend their limbs. There was no relief. The same men labored day and night. The fatigue was unutterable. The midsummer sun of the South fell upon soldiers exhausted with endless watching, endless attack. In every trench there was fever; every day had its list of dead and wounded. At the first the men were on half rations; towards the last on one-fourth. ‘All the unripe half-grown peaches, all the green berries growing on the briars were carefully gathered, simmered in a little water and used for food.’ They had maggot-filled water for drinking, and no water at all for cleanliness. They had no change of clothing. When the sun did not bake down upon them, they fought and watched, shelterless in the rain. ‘Tired, ragged, dirty, barefoot, hungry, covered with vermin, hand to hand with the enemy, beleagured on all sides, with no prospect and but little hope of relief—when I think of their cheerfulness and buoyant courage,’ says one of their commanders, ‘it seems to me no commendation of these soldiers can be too great.’ The guns of the enemy rarely ceased firing, the smoke never lifted, the uproar was never stilled. The Confederates faced the nightmare of exhausted ammunition; they saved their fire for advancing columns of infantry, or for the new batteries that the enemy ceaselessly planted. At dawn began the thunder of the eighty-six opposing batteries; at dusk the mines were still whirring overhead; under the stars there were alarms, incursions, magnificent and murderous outbursts from the two hundred and twenty guns. The Confederates answered when they could, and stood silent when they must; wore out the long day, ate with equanimity their supper of two ounces of musty meal, and lay down upon their arms. For an hour, perhaps, they might dream of home and loved ones, then the impatient thunder recommenced. Turn out—turn out, men! Then men neither faltered nor complained. Cramped in the narrow trenches, parched by the sun, chilled by the night dews, without covering, without food, without rest, without ammunition, without hope, they endured with a Roman and Stoic fortitude,
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