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Pandemonium broke loose.

No time, however, was lost in admiration. Our men at once settled down behind the logs, rested their muskets on the tree-trunks, and fired. I was fain to content myself with a small pine (all the time wishing it was as big as the red woods) and blazed away over their heads. The enemy at once opened vigorously. Other regiments formed upon their flanks. The Eleventh came up on our right and the Seventeenth on our left. A Federal battery opened down the line; then one began to bellow upon the right. Stuart's horse artillery came up and unlimbered, and the guns at Fort Magruder began to play. Hooker put in his last man and so did Longstreet. Kearney's division came up and Hooker put that in. Longstreet received two regiments from D. H. Hill's division, and put them in. It was pandemonium broke loose. It seemed to me as if the brass pieces fairly howled, while the roll of the small arms was something indescribable. Ordinarily heavy musketry rises and falls like the sound of the sea, but here it was one deep, incessant, prolonged, deafening roar.

Our men began to fall. Ensconced as they were behind logs, when hit they would ordinarily be struck in the head or throat and killed. They dropped in all sorts of positions, some falling suddenly forward; others sliding gently backwards or sideways; one fell all in a heap, as if he had collapsed. One death was most tragic and yet with a touch of the absurd. Among the recruits joining us at Yorktown were a backwoods father and son, whose rustic demeanor was the jest of the regiment. The old man clung to the old-fashioned, tall silk hat; the son followed at ‘pappy's’ heels wherever he went.

Both fell in this battle, fighting like lions. The old man was close by me and I could not but notice him and his high hat as I fired over him. A man fell by him—possibly his son—but the old hero never stopped. Presently he fell over gently to the ground, shuddered, [417] and was still, his venerable head-gear surmounting his gray locks to the last.

So far from losing, the Federal fire appeared to gain intensity. The balls seemed to whiz closer and more viciously than at first, and we subsequently learned the Union Colonel was successfully operating a stratagem upon us. He had made some of his best shots crawl under the timber, and they were picking us off. Our color-bearer had special attention. Time and again as I turned to reload I could see the colors almost jerked out of his hands as a ball tore through the cloth. He hung on manfully, and though the flag had twenty-seven bullet-holes through it, and was twice shot out of his hands, brought her out safe at last. The Virginia Legislature gave him a sword of honor, and he wore it until he fell.


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