"The green sward had been stained by a brighter crimson than nature gives to the dying leaves"

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Andy Cardinal

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Feb 27, 2017

"Over all this section, in the morning the spoiler's hand had not touched the farm buildings or the fences; the corn stood unbroken and green in the fields; and the leaves on the trees were beginning to blush with the tints of early autumn. At night, that peaceful country landscape had been sadly marred by the day of strife. Houses (some of them) had been shattered by shot from both sides, and the gathered crops had been burned by exploding shells. Fences had been broken down and the fields trampled by hurrying battalions until they looked as if they had been swept by a tornado. Fields of standing corn had been torn to shreds and cut away by volleys of musketry and blasts of canister until there were but few stalks left standing. The shrubs and bushes where the batteries had stood when in action were leaflets, scorched, blackened, and burned; fences had been demolished; the ground furrowed and the trees split, splintered, and torn by the missiles they had started on missions of destruction.

"This wasteful and widespread destruction of inanimate things -- great as it was -- was greatly exceeded by the awful destruction of human life. The green sward had been stained by a brighter crimson than nature gives to the dying leaves -- by the blood of the day's sacrifice from more than twenty-two thousand victims (counting both sides). About 4,000 of these were dead or dying.

"When the fighting had subsided to a degree that further serious movements were not expected, preparations for the night and any emergency of the morning were made. For the dead, whose "bodies were out of pain and souls out of prison," there was nothing but burial. On a battlefield, there are more pitiful sights than the dead and more urgent matters than the disposal of their remains -- even when the bullets cease to fly and the shells to burst. The wounded have the right to the first care, and always receive it....

"When all has been done that is possible under existing conditions to do, the amount of unrelieved suffering is still something to touch the most callous nature.

"It is not to the dead and wounded alone that all the suffering of the day has come. Is there not something to be said for those who escaped the casualty list but have shared in all the movements and dangers of the day and have had a 'fighting edge' on for the last 18 or 20 hours? Coffee, crackers and pork before two o'clock that morning is all they have eaten for 24 hours -- except a cracker perhaps while lying in line....

"Now that the crisis for the day was over and darkness veiled our movements, there was reaction from the tremendous mental strain, and defrauded physical nature demands relief. The rolls were called and inquiries made about the missing ones -- as to time, place, and by whom they were last seen -- and what their condition was. It is in this way that the losses of a day's fighting are estimated and reports made. Then -- unless it is certain that they are already cared for or are in the hands of the enemy -- interested comrades try to find and relieve them."

James A. Wright
1st Minnesota
No More Gallant A Deed, pp. 203-204
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