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[106] of the battle, the enemy at no time took one of our pieces of artillery, and they thundered away all the time, doing great execution, and carrying dismay into the hearts of the Yankees.

The scene of carnage was beyond description. Here a pile of dead and dying men; there struggling, crippled horses, and over the surface of the hitherto peaceful fields, the surging, angry waves of battle still adding its victims to the long list. Our light artillery batteries seem to have been more than a match for the rifled cannon at a short distance, for our guns would be fired three or four times to their once. But it must be admitted that some of their batteries were fired with the precision, almost, of a rifle at one hundred yards' distance.

There was a constant struggle during the day over the enemy's batteries. Time and again were they captured by our men, and very often retaken by the enemy. The most excited creature on the battle field was the Rev. Mr. Repetto, Captain of the Page Co. (Va.) Grays, who claimed the honor of taking Rickett's (Sherman's) battery. Of his whole company, nearly one hundred strong, he had only eighteen uninjured. Another of our reverends, Colonel Pendleton, a graduate of West Point, a resident of Lexington, Virginia, and an Episcopalian minister, was quite busy during the day, and doubtless did more than any one else to check the advancing enemy. The inquiry among the prisoners was very general, “Who commanded that battery on the left that killed so many of our men?” Our reply was that it was a saint named Pendleton.

About 5 o'clock our anxious minds were relieved by the cessation of cannonading from their side, whilst upon ours the thunders still rolled out long and loud. Then we knew we had them. A long line of dust towards Centreville proclaimed that the “stars and bars” waved triumphant over the field. A long line of fugitives defiled across the fields, and the cavalry were ordered to pursue. The history of that pursuit upon our part could well be written in words of blood, for more men were killed then and there than had fallen in the battle. Our infantry hurried on as rapidly as possible, while our batteries gave a parting “fire in the rear.” The amount of plunder strewn upon the road is almost incredible. The quantity of arms taken it is hard to get at, as many of them are in the hands of those who first took them. For instance, one company of Virginia troops, in returning from the pursuit, captured enough Minie muskets to arm the whole command--eighty strong. It is estimated, however, that twelve thousand small-arms will be added to our stock of ordnance. Enough powder was taken to supply the army for another big battle, and sixty-three pieces of artillery, with the caissons full of projectiles, which will be returned shortly, with our compliments, to their former masters. Many hundreds of our brave boys now sport splendid blue overcoats, the owners of which did not have time to call for them.

There is no earthly doubt that our army was overcome several times between 12 and 3, and that the bulletins sent by the enemy are, in the main, correct; but, alas! “the best-laid plans of men and mice aft gang aglee,” and in this instance, verily, was there a great “slip between the cup and the lip.” With all their preparations made, their “grand army,” complete in every department, it is too bad that destruction should come upon them when victory seemed perching upon their standard. And they cannot lay the blame this time upon “those infernal masked batteries.” They chose their own ground, and we met them in the open field with no other intrenchments but bright steel bayonets above our brave-hearted soldiers. The whole plan of attack had been mapped out, as was shown by a splendid map of the entire country, which the writer received from Col. Wilcox, of Michigan, commanding the second brigade. Upon that map, which had been drawn up by order of the War Department from the coast survey records, showing the topography of the country from Washington to Manassas, it was evident that the plan of action had been mapped out by old Scott. At Sudley Springs, where the crossing was made, three columns indicated that the crossing was to be made there.

The number of men actually engaged on our side was 18,000, though some think it was less. The number engaged upon the other side, taken from the admission of captured officers, was about 37,000. What was the secret of our success against such odds? The enemy fought bravely — there can be but one opinion about that — and forced our lines back more than half a mile. Our success can alone be attributed (beyond that which Divine Providence acceded to us) to the dauntless bull-dog courage of our men. They could not quit fighting. Said one of Lincoln's officers: “What sort of men are yours? We broke your regiments all to pieces, and yet we did not whip you.” And so it was. Scattered as they were, every man was for fighting on his own hook, and you could have picked a thousand at any time out of the pine thickets who did not know where their companies were, but kept loading and blazing away. From these scattered fragments of companies General Johnston gathered several hundred, and requested Colonel Thomas to take them to a position, which he indicated a short distance off. It was in performing this service that this gallant gentleman fell, pierced to the heart.

The artillery captured upon the field had splendid horses attached to them, caparisoned in the best style. Sixty-two of them were brought together the next morning. In the rout, however, the artillerists, to save themselves from Colonel Stuart, of our cavalry, cut loose the horses, and left the cannon in the road.

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William B. Pendleton (2)
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