Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field eBook

Thomas W. Knox
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 458 pages of information about Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field.

“The farm-house on the Emmetsburg road, where General Meade held his head-quarters during the cannonade, is most fearfully cut up.  General Lee masked his artillery, and opened with one hundred and thirty pieces at the same moment.  Two shells in every second of time fell around those head-quarters.  They tore through the little white building, exploding and scattering their fragments in every direction.  Not a spot in its vicinity was safe.  One shell through the door-step, another in the chimney, a third shattering a rafter, a fourth carrying away the legs of a chair in which an officer was seated; others severing and splintering the posts in front of the house, howling through the trees by which the dwelling was surrounded, and raising deep furrows in the soft earth.  One officer, and another, and another were wounded.  Strange to say, amid all this iron hail, no one of the staff was killed.

“Once more at the cemetery, I crossed the Baltimore turnpike to the hill that forms the extremity of the ridge, on which the main portion of our line of battle was located.  I followed this ridge to the point held by our extreme right.  About midway along the ridge was the scene of the fiercest attack upon that portion of the field.  Tree after tree was scarred from base to limbs so thickly that it would have been impossible to place one’s hand upon the trunk without covering the marks of a bullet.  One tree was stripped of more than half its leaves; many of its twigs were partially severed, and hanging wilted and nearly ready to drop to the ground.  The trunk of the tree, about ten inches in diameter, was cut and scarred in every part.  The fire which struck these trees was that from our muskets upon the advancing Rebels.  Every tree and bush for the distance of half a mile along these works was nearly as badly marked.  The rocks, wherever they faced our breast-works, were thickly stippled with dots like snow-flakes.  The missiles, flattened by contact with the rock, were lying among the leaves, giving little indication of their former character.

“Our sharp-shooters occupied novel positions.  One of them found half a hollow log, standing upright, with a hole left by the removal of a knot, which gave him an excellent embrasure.  Some were in tree-tops, others in nooks among the rocks, and others behind temporary barricades of their own construction.  Owing to the excellence of our defenses, the Rebels lost heavily.”

A few days after visiting this field, I joined the army in Western Maryland.  The Rebels were between us and the Potomac.  We were steadily pressing them, rather with a design of driving them across the Potomac without further fighting, than of bringing on an engagement.  Lee effected his crossing in safety, only a few hundred men of his rear-guard being captured on the left bank of the Potomac.

The Maryland campaign was ended when Lee was driven out.  Our army crossed the Potomac further down that stream, but made no vigorous pursuit.  I returned to New York, and once more proceeded to the West.

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Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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