Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/158

This page needs to be proofread.


154 Southern Historical Society Papers.

the line of the regiment had taken place, which perhaps it is not material to note in detail. The winter was a severe one, and great was the mortality among the troops from pneumonia, typhoid fever, and other diseases. The old camps were abandoned on the 8th of March, 1862, and at daylight the regiment moved out, throwing away tents and camp equippage; sum total of first days' march, one and a half miles from starting point, progress being checked by con- fusion of orders. Early was now acting as major-general, in com- mand of the fourth division. Not until sunset of the Qth did the grand column move again, reaching Manassas Junction that night. An immense amount of property was destroyed, as the army com- manded by General Joseph E. Johnston was to change base to the peninsula. A very carnival, restrained to some extent by the power of military discipline, reigned that night at the junction. The sol- diers got rich with plunder; depots of supplies and the express office were fired and barrels of whiskey opened at the head, poured their contents in streams upon the ground. A rough soldier was observed with six canteens of whiskey around his neck, and, as if he " wept such waste to see," actually wading in a "puddle of the stuff while in a ditty, tuneless but gay, he whistled his regrets over departed spirits.

Our army at Manassas, numbering less than 50,000, was con- fronted by a host of more than 100,000. General McClellan, styled through the favoring pride of his friends, "the Little Napoleon," fell upon the expedient of transferring his troops by the way of the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay to Yorktown, anticipating an easy victory over "the small army of Magruder, and then "on to Rich- mond" by the Peninsular route. This move on the part of Mc- Clellan, though conducted in great secrecy, was not long hidden from the eagle eye of Johnston; hence the retreat from Manassas, and his resolve to reinforce Magruder and take command of the en- tire force at Yorktown. With the other commands the regiment reached Yorktown on the 8th of April, '62, a stop having been made on the south side of the Rappahannock of several weeks du- ration, to await the full development of McClellan's plans. At York- town, the trying duty of service in the trenches began. On the i7th, after nine days behind the breastworks, the boys had their first ex- perience with cannon balls and bombshells. The picket line was situated between opposing batteries, three-fourths of a mile apart, and more than one shell exploded in uncomfortable proximity to them. When the first shot was fired directly at the position occupied