They saw, did Anna and those sisters (and many and many a wife and mother from Callender House to Carrollton), the vast, stealthy, fireless bivouac at fall of night, in ear-shot of the enemy’s tattoo, unsheltered from the midnight storm save by raked-up leaves: Saw, just in the bivouac’s tortuous front, softly reddening the low wet sky, that huge, rude semicircle of camps in the dark ridged and gullied forests about Shiloh’s log meeting-house, where the victorious Grant’s ten-thousands—from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, as new to arms as their foe, yet a band of lions in lair—lay dry-tented, full fed and fast asleep, safely flanked by swollen streams, their gunboats behind them and Buell coming, but without one mounted outpost, a scratch of entrenchment or a whisper of warning.
Amid the eager carriage talk, in which Anna kept her part, her mind’s eye still saw the farther scene as it changed again and the gray dawn and gray host furtively rose together and together silently spread through the deep woods. She watched the day increase and noon soar up and sink away while the legions of Hardee, Bragg, Polk and Breckinridge slowly writhed out of their perplexed folds and set themselves, still undetected in their three successive lines of battle. She beheld the sun set calm and clear, the two hosts lie down once more, one in its tents, the other on its arms, the leafy night hang over them resplendent with stars, its watches near by, the Southern lines reawaken in recovered strength, spring up and press forward exultantly to the awful issue, and the Sabbath dawn brighten into a faultless day with the boom of the opening gun.
As the ladies drew up behind the throng and across the throat of Commercial Alley the dire List began to flutter from the Picayune office in greedy palms and over and among dishevelled heads like a feeding swarm of white pigeons. News there was as well as names, but every eye devoured the names first and then—unless some name struck lightning in the heart, as Anna saw it do every here and there and for that poor old man over yonder—after the names the news.
“Nan, we needn’t stay if you—”
“Oh, Miranda, isn’t all this ours?”
The bulletin boards were already telling in outline, ahead of the list, thrilling things about the Orleans Guards, the whirlwind onset of whose maiden bayonets had captured double its share of the first camp taken from the amazed, unbreakfasted enemy, and who again and again, hour by hour, by the half-mile and mile, had splendidly helped to drive him—while he hammered back with a deadly stubbornness all but a match for their fury. Through forests, across clearings, over streams and bogs and into and out of ravines and thickets they had swept, seizing transiently a whole field battery, permanently hundreds of prisoners, and covering the strife’s broad wake with even more appalling numbers of their own dead and wounded