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A Soldier's Feelings In Battle

A Soldier's Feelings In Battle image
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Our Citizen soldiers, inexpericneed in the battlc field, will find the most, terrible moraents just bofore the battle begins. A soldier in bis narrntion of personal adveutures iu the Mexican war, war, published in " Ilowe's Achievements of Americana," gives somo interesting items of this hoad in his description of the battle of Palo Alto, the opcuing battle of the var, Wlien all was ready, both armies stood Stïll ubout twenty miuutea, each waiting for the other to begin the work of death, aud during this time I did not see a single man of the eneuiy move ; they stood like statues. We retuaiiied quiet with two exceptions. Gen. Taylor, followed by his stalF, rode from left to right at a slow pace, with his leg thrown over like a woinan, aud as lie pa.ssod each regiment he spokj wordd of eucouragemeut. I kuow not what he said to the others, but when he carne up to where we stood, he looked at us steadily; I suppose to see what eiftíct the eircumstanee in which vre were placed, had upon us, and as ho gazed, he said : '-The bayontt, ïny hardy oocks ! The bayonet is the thing I" The other occasion was that of Lieut. Blake', of the Engineors, who voluntecrcd to gal ■ lop along the cuciny's line, in front of both arraies, and count their guns, and so close did he go, that he might have been shot a hundrod times. One of the offioers of t!ie enemy, doubtlcss thinking he had some communieation to mako, rode out to meet him; Blake, however, took no notice of him but rode on, and then reported to Taylor. Thus stood the belligerent armies, face to face, What wero tho feelings in those meii's Lrcasts? What were the feelings of those thousands ? IIow many thoughts wore crowded into those few momeuts? Look at our men ! a clammy sweat is settled all over their faces, slightly pale, not from cowardly fear, but from an awful sense of peril, oonibined with a determination uot bo fliueh fro;n duty. - These are the momeuts in which true soldiers residu themselves to tlieir fate, auu coiiwiii." i ..iii-mvRS "■];" "" ronnn. tion that whatever may boiall thein, they may act with honor, these are the momouts when the absolute eoward suffers more than death - whon, if not certain that he would be shot down in his tracks, he would turn and Üue. Fighting is very hard work ; the man who bas passed through a two hour's fight, bas lived through a great amount of physieal and mental labor. At the end of a battlo I always found that I had porspired so profusely as to wet through all my thick wooleu clothing, and when I had got cool, I was as sore as if I had been beat en all over with a club. Wheu the tle coinmences, the fuelings Uadergo a ehange. lleader, did you ever see your house on fire? it' so, it then you rushed into great dangcr ; it was theu you went over phices, climbed over walls, lifted heavy loads, which you never could have done ia your oooler moments ; you have then experienced soiue of the exciternerit uf a soldier in battle. I always know my duuger - that at any moment I was Hable to be killed, yet suoh was my exeitement tliat I never fully realized it. All men are not alike; souie are cool ; souie are perfectly wild or crazy ; others are so prostrated with fear that they are complotely unnerved - an awful siuking and relaxatiou of all their energies takes place, awful to bchold ; they tremblo like an aspen, sink into ditches and covert places, cry - dead to every cmotion but the overwhelming fear of au iustaut death. We had a few, and only a few, of suoh in our army. As the two armies were laoing each other, it was remarkuble to see the coolness of our raen ; there they stood, chewing bits of bvscuit, and talking about the Moxicans- sorne wondering if tboy would fight ; others :illowing that they would, and like demons, etc. I kept my eyes on the artillory of the euemy, ur.d happened so to be looking towards their right wing, when suddenly a white curl of sinoke sprang up froin ono of' theii' U1#, and 'hen I ?;uv the dust lly some distance in iront, whero the ball struck. Instantly an otilar, and theu anothor, ,.nd then another curl of smoko arose, succeeded by a booming sound, and tben the shot carne orushing towards U3. The enemy fired very rapidly, and their ball.s knocked the dust about us in all directious- sorne went olear over our heads, others stmck the grouud in iront and bouuded ubay. Üur battoriüd novv wcut to work and poured in npon thora a perfect storm of iron; Lieuteinint Churchill and his men bogan with his eighteen pÜunders, and whon the first was fired, it mado such a loud report that our men gavo a spontanoous shout which seemed to inspire us with a renowed eontidenue. I uould hear every irord the Ljeutenant said to his men. When the fiistgnn was fired, he watehed tho ball, saying, " Too high, men ; try another;" - " too low, men, try another ! - tho third time is thf p.hnrm I" Tho ♦ ahc-t u-ia fircij. and I sa uHh rny own syei eire ttieauful effect, of that and the lollowihg shots. "That'sit iy boys !" shouted Churchill, jumpiug up about two fooi ; "you have them now, keep at that " and so they did, and every shot tore complete láües through thu enemy's linón, but they stood it man''ully. The full ohorus of batlle novv ragi'd ; 23 pii-ces ot arüllory belched forth their iron hail. We were ordoreJ to lie down in the grass to avoid [tho shot ; this puzzled ;he enemy, and they could pot bring their guus to beat' upop us, making our loss vory small. Many were the narrow escapes, one ball carne within six inclies of my loft sido. Thü ioree oí tho shot was iromundous ; a borse's body was no obstack' at all ; a mao'a leg vvas a more pipo sUm. I v.atched shot as it struck the roots of tho gfftt, and it was astomshing how ihy j dust Üevv. In about an hour the grass oaught fii'e, and tho elouds of smoke shut out the opposing armiöS. We had not vet lost u inau iu our regiment In the "obsourity tho enemy had changed thtíi,!1 lino, asid the eighteen pounders, Buuportad by our regiment, took a nevv posiiion on a liitlo risy of ground. As we moved on to th'e spot, a x pound shot oarriad avvay tho lovver jiivv oí'Cpí. Fago, and then took off a man's head on the right, as clean as a knife. Tho blood of poor Page was ,,,„ Znt 'b !' 1 saw; he was kuockod d'th, ,,:,,, .,,: -I - KUVored to raise bimsolf, l;e prest?..... M suoh a gl-astly spectacle that a sickly ' faiiit'uig sonsatlon came over me, and the UMMnory of tbat night labal] carry i with ine to my dying duy. A little j tur Major Ringgold "was mortaHy wounded at hia battery ; I saw hirn just nitor it. A shot had torn away a nortion of the Üesh of hiathiftha; its foree was tremtndous, cutüng ofl both his pistol.4 at the locks, and also the withers of his horse, a sp'endid steed, vvhich was killed to relieve bira of his miseries. Tfoe enèmy tricd hard, but without avail, to hit our eighteen pounders. The batüo continued until night put an end to the acene. We bivouauked where we ware, and luid on our anns ; we slept however, but little, thinking that we uiight bo atlücked in our sleep. " The enerny bad been very severely handled, owing to the supuriority oí our artillery. The gunners went ino it more like butchefe than men ; eaofa Btripped off lus coat, rulled up hia fileeves, and tied up his bospenders around bid waist; they all wore red flanoel shirts, and thereforo were in uniform. To see them lirnbering and uulimbering, firing a few shots, then daaüna througn Kie smoke,iiK] then to h'ro again with lightning rapidity, partly hid from view by dense elouds of' ernoke, with iheir dark red shirts and naked arm, yelling at every shot they made, reminded me oí a band of demons rather than men.


Old News
Michigan Argus