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[549] it from becoming a disaster. On the second day we retrieved and redeemed all that had been lost. Pleasant Hill, as I have said before, is a clearing in the midst of these vast pine woods, about thirty-five miles from the Red River, on the road that leads from Natchitoches. It forms a plateau that rises to a noticeable elevation above the country around. It was probably intended as a settlement of more than usual importance, for I noticed an unfinished seminary, a church, a sawmill, many fine houses, and one or two that would have done credit to our Northern towns. The land was in a high state of cultivation, and every acre seemed to be traversed by ridges of ploughed soil. On the elevation where the unfinished seminary stands, a complete view of the whole field could be obtained, and with a glass, the features and the rank of men at the other could be readily seen. Here we determined to make a stand. The day was as bright and clear and fresh as a May day in the North, and the air was so bracing that the officers found their great-coats grateful. The morning passed on. The plateau had the appearance of a paradeground on a holiday. For any one man to see all that was to be seen, or to understand the different movements of the armed and uniformed men before him, would be impossible. Regimnts marching to the right, and regiments marching to the left, batteries being moved and shifted, cavalry squads moving in single file through the brush, now and then an aid galloping madly, or an orderly at full speed, driving his spurs, and holding an order or despatch between his teeth, bugles sounding the different cavalry calls, and drums repeating the orders of the captains, all passed and repassed, and controlled the vision, making very much the impression that a spectator in the theatre receives as he looks upon a melodrama. In an inclosure near the roadside was a small cluster of gentlemen to whom all this phantasmagoria had the meaning of life, and death, and power, and fame. General Banks, with his light-blue overcoat buttoned closely around his chin, was strolling up and down, occasionally conversing with a member of his staff, or returning the salute of a passing subaltern. Near him was General William B. Franklin, his face as rough and rugged as when he rode through the storms of the Peninsula, the ideal of a bold, daring, imperturbable soldier. There are few braver men than this Charles O'Malley of major-generals. He had two horses shot under him the day before. His face was very calm that morning, and occasionally he pulls his whiskers nervously, as though he scented the battle afar off, and was impatient to be in the midst of the fray. General Charles P. Stone, the chief of staff, a quiet, retiring man, who is regarded, by the few that know him, as one of the finest soldiers of the time, was sitting on a rail smoking cigarettes, and apparently more interested in the puffs of smoke that curled around him, than in the noise and bustle that filled the air. There was General Smith, with his bushy, grayish beard, and his eager eye, as it looks through spectacles, giving him the appearance of a schoolmaster. General Arnold, the chief of artillery, with his high boots, and his slouched hat thrown over his head, seemed the busiest of all. The other members of the staff, colonels, and majors, and captains, completed the group; with orderlies in the distance, and servants chiding or soothing their masters' restive horses, and the body-guard dismounted and dozing under the trees. It was rather a tedious party, and group after group formed and melted away, and re-formed and discussed the battle of the evening before, and the latest news and gossip of New-Orleans, and wondered when another mail would come. It might have been a parade; it might have been a fair-day, and these men around us so many plain farmers who came to receive medals for their cattle and swine, and hear the county lawyer deliver the agricultural address. It certainly could not be war, and yet the slow rumbling of gun and caisson, the occasional shell bursting from the cannon, whistling in the air, and exploding in the woods beyond; the sudden musket-shot, and the distant cheer — all gave the picture the deep and deathly tints that made it a battle-piece. It is curious to study the feelings which such a scene produces. This morning scene became so weary and tame that, from very languor and apathy, I began to weave up the bright and real tints of the picture with as many unique fancies as the imagination could suggest, and, finally, turning over on a pine board, which was resting against a fence, and made an inviting bed for a weary man, endeavored to regain a portion of the sleep that the last night had taken away. I had scarcely time for wooing a nap when the General called for his horse and proposed to go to the front. The different generals around him returned to their commands, and, slowly picking our way out of the yard, we rode along the ridge to an elevation near at hand, and from thence surveyed the field.

It was one of those scenes that battles rarely present, but which enables us to see what is really the pomp and glory of war. Below, or rather before us, was the whole army of General Banks. There were three distinct lines of battle, two of which could be seen by the eye, the other being hidden by the woods. The batteries were in position, and each regiment displayed its flag. On our flanks were small detachments of cavalry, who busily scoured the woods to prevent any thing like a surprise, or a movement in our rear. It was now eleven o'clock, and our whole army was prepared for action. The generals had determined to await the attack of the enemy, and finding it impossible to subsist the army in a country without water or forage, concluded to move the trains back to Grand Ecore, there concentrate our army, and await news from the cooperating column of General Steele, which is known to be moving through Arkansas on Shreveport. Accordingly, before our lines were formed, the trains were ordered to move, and before noon we had a clear field, and were ready for the attack. In order to look his army face to face, and

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