Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/186

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

sides. In handing this communication 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 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 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 continued for about four hours. In that ditch, about one hundred feet in length, were buried seven hundred white and negro Federal soldiers. The dead were thrown in indiscriminately, three bodies deep. When this 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 was peopled with men. It seemed an illustration of Cadmus sowing the dragon's teeth. Both sides came over their works, and, meeting in the center, mingled, 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 Gen. R. B. Potter, who commanded, as he informed me, a Michigan division in Burnside's corps. He was extremely polite and affable, and extended to me his canteen with an invitation to sample its contents, which I did, and found it containing nothing objectionable. He then handed me a good cigar and for a time we smoked the "pipe of peace. ~


In reply to a question from me as to their loss in the battle