- Jul 23, 2017
- Southwest Missouri
Just before sunrise the troops were in position, and our Captain gave the command to commence firing. I dampen , sponge, ram the first cartridge home, and step back. A loud report, a cloud of smoke, and the battle of Cold Harbor has begun. I rapidly sponge out, a turn of the wrist, a whizzing of the sponge-staff in the air, another cartridge is put in the gun, I ram it home and spring back clear of the wheel. I give a hurried glance toward the rebel line and catch sight of the smoke of cannon, and realize that their guns have been manned. I fairly jump to and from my gun, the smoke grows thicker. I am at last thoroughly warmed up to the battle.
A whistling of bullets among us, sounding as though we were in a great bumblebee's nest ; the shriek of solid shot and shell as they come tearing into the battery ; the dull thud of bullets, instantly followed by exclamations of pain; the falling of artillerymen—all pass uncared for. I simply sponge and ram and look ahead. My partner at the gun, just opposite me, standing with a cartridge in his hand, suddenly pitches forward, dead. As I jerk the sponge out of the gun I lean over toward him and pick up the cartridge and put it in the gun. As I step back I see the man who is to fill the dead man's place jerk the dead body impatiently by the legs to get it out of the way.
Stepping back I look over to the next gun, and involuntarily smile to see the great piece turn a summersault in the air. Bits of wood and non fly off to the rear, and the gun comes down with a great thud upon the ground. I stop smiling as I see the poor men in scarlet-trimmed jackets, my comrades, lying dead around the wrecked cannon.
Up through the smoke comes a bare-headed officer on horseback. Telling our officers to stop firing he disappears as rapidly as he came.
The battery is silent.
Rifle Shots and Bugle Notes