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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/147

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Closing Scenes of the War about Richmond. 139

one of the most dangerous predicaments I was placed in during the war. Finally, however, the firing ceased and order was restored. Some valuable lives were sacrificed in this inexcusable affair, includ- ing Major Frank Smith, of Norfolk; H. C. Pennington, of Balti- more, and three or four others killed (or mortally wounded), and half a dozen wounded.

The latter had to be carried in ambulances until a house was reached, where their wounds were dressed, and the poor fellows then left to the care of the enemy.

The whole division was disheartened by this unhappy occurrence, and for some time marched on, discussing it in subdued but eager tones, presently relapsing into a gloomy silence. We marched on through the night, the men becoming more and more faint from fa- tigue, want of sleep, and hunger, particularly the latter. Every ex- pedient was resorted to in order to obtain rations, however scanty, with a total disregard of the ordinary rules of discipline and respect for private property.

The regimental commanders were instructed to send out small de- tachments to scour the country on either flank and bring in what- ever they could lay their hands on, if only a pig, a chicken, or a quart of meal. Very little, however was procured in this way, the detachments either returning empty-handed or failing to regain the column at all.

At about an hour before dawn the troops were halted in a dense thicket of old-field pine. Most of the men immediately dropped down in their places and sank to sleep, while some few parched corn or cooked any little provision they were so lucky as to have in their haversacks.

Hunger being most pressing in my own case, I first parched a handful of corn in a frying pan, borrowed with some difficulty, and was then preparing for a nap, when the drum beat the assembly and we took the road once more.

The morning (April 6) was damp, and the ground in bad condi- tion for marching. In disentangling the division from various other commands which blocked the road, the battalion lately commanded by Major Frank Smith became separated and did not join us again.

We soon got ahead of the other troops; but the road was occu- pied by an immense train of wagons, ambulances, etc., and so we marched by the side of it. By this time the command was fearfully reduced in numbers, and men were falling out continually. They were allowed to shoot from their places in the ranks pigs, chickens,