“An especially glorious day for the Invincibles,” said Colonel Talbot.
“The most glorious of all possible days for the Invincibles,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire.
There was an especial emphasis to their words that aroused Harry’s attention.
“The Invincibles have had many glorious days,” he said. “Why should this be the most glorious of them all?”
“We went into battle one hundred and forty-seven strong,” replied Colonel Talbot quietly, “and we came out with one hundred and forty-seven casualties, thirty-nine killed and one hundred and eight wounded. We lay no claim to valor, exceeding that of many other regiments in General Lee’s glorious army, but we do think we’ve made a fairly excellent record. Do you see those men?”
He pointed to a silent group stretched upon the turf, and Harry nodded.
“Not one of them has escaped unhurt, but most of us will muster up strength enough to meet the enemy again to-morrow, when our great general calls.”
Harry’s throat contracted for a moment.
“I know it, Colonel Talbot,” he said. “The Invincibles have proved themselves truly worthy of their name. General Lee shall hear of this.”
“But in no boastful vein, Harry,” said Colonel Talbot. “We would not have you to speak thus of your friends.”
“I do not have to boast for you. The simple truth is enough. I shall see that a surgeon comes here at once to attend to your wounded. Good night, gentlemen.”
“Good night,” said the four together. Harry walked back toward General Lee’s headquarters, full of pride in his old comrades.
Harry secured a little sleep toward morning, and, although his nervous tension had been very great, when he lay down, he felt greatly strengthened in body and mind. He awakened Dalton in turn, and the two, securing a hasty breakfast, sat near the older members of the staff, awaiting orders. The commander-in-chief was at the edge of the little glade, talking earnestly with Hill, and several other important generals.
Harry often saw through the medium of his own feelings, and the rim of the sun, beginning to show over the eastern edge of the Wilderness, was blood red. The same crimson and sinister tinge showed through the west which was yet in the dusk. But in east and west there were certain areas of light, where the forest fires yet smoldered.
Both sides had thrown up hasty breastworks of earth or timber, but the two armies were unusually silent. A space of perhaps a mile and a half lay between them, but as the light increased neither moved. There was no crackle of rifle fire along their fronts. The skirmishers, usually so active, seemed to be exhausted, and the big guns were at rest. The fierce and tremendous fighting of the two days before seemed to have taken all the life out of both North and South.