Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/213

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quite excited me. The fire was continued without eliciting any response, when the General ordered it to cease and skirmishers to be thrown out, and advanced down the slope.

Two other newspaper correspondents had appeared on foot with the infantry — E. C. Stedman, the poet and critic, and E. H. House, long connected with the New York Tribune, and well known as essayist and critic till he abandoned the profession to become American consul in Japan for many years. As we three felt very hungry, I dismounted and left my horse in charge of an officer's servant, and we followed the skirmishers down the road to a farm-house within a hundred yards of the woods, in the hope of getting something to eat. We found the house locked and apparently deserted. Espying a well-laden cherry-tree, I climbed it in order to supply myself and friends with the fruit. I had just got on a branch when suddenly a terrific roar burst out from the woods seemingly within a few steps of us, followed by a mighty whizzing and clattering all around us. The rebel infantry in the woods had fired a volley against the skirmishers. In less than a minute another volley followed, accompanied by the same great roar and the small noises all around us. It then flashed upon us that the latter were caused by thousands of bullets whistling by us and striking the farm buildings, fences, and trees round about. We were, indeed, right in the line of fire of a whole rebel brigade. With the second volley there came also the deep detonations of artillery fire. Then there was a deafening crash, and I found myself thrown from the tree to the ground. Stedman and House shouted, “Are you hurt?” from their shelter behind the farm-house, to which they had rushed after the second volley. Fortunately, no harm had befallen me.

The rebel fire continued violently, and was answered by our skirmishers and the regiments and two guns that came hurrying down the slope to their support. As the enemy's musketry and artillery swept the entire slope, it was