Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/371

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Graphic Account of Battle of Crater. 367

the Yankee flag. (I have frequently thought that the "get up" of these flags of truce illustrated the condition of the armies.) They met half way about forty yards from each line. After a few min- utes interview they handed to Captain Clark a paper. They then withdrew to their respective sides. In handing the communica- tion to General Saunders, Captain Clark said:

' 'They are asking for a truce to bury their dead and remove their wounded."

The communication was forwarded to the proper authorities and proved to be from General Burnside, who commanded the Federal troops in front, but not being in accordance with the usages and civilities of war, it was promptly returned, with the information that whenever a like request came from the general commanding the Army of the Potomac to the general commanding the Army of Northern Virginia it would be entertained. Within a few hours the Federals sent another flag of truce, conveying a communication, which was properly signed and addressed, and the terms of the truce were agreed on. These terms were that they could remove their wounded and could bury their dead in a ditch or grave to be dug just half way between the two lines. They brought in their details, including many negroes, and the work was commenced and was continued for about four hours. In that ditch, about one hun- dred feet in length, were buried seven hundred white and negro Federal soldiers. The dead were thrown in indiscriminately, three bodies deep.


As soon as the work was commenced I witnessed one of the grandest sights I ever saw. Where not a man could be seen a few minutes before, the two armies arose up out of the ground,. and the face of the earth seemed to be peopled with men. It seemed an illustration of Cadmus sowing the dragon's teeth. Both sides came over their works, and meeting in the centre, min- gled, chatted and exchanged courtesies as though they had not sought in desperate effort to take each other's lives but an hour before.

During the truce I met General R. B. Potter, who commanded, as he informed me, a Michigan division in Burnside's corps. He was exceedingly polite and affable, and extended to me his can- teen with an ivitation to sample the contents, which I did and found in it nothing objectionable. He then handed me a good cigar,