These battles form the half-way stone in the long period of our civil war. It was the day after the dreadful conflict. The forces had retired to re-gather their strength, and the wounded, dying, and dead, were left upon the field. Early in the morning, as the heat of the summer sun was streaming down, a horseman rode slowly and carefully about this field of death. Here and there, lying thickly, as they fell, were the dead of both forces, easily distinguished by the different colors they wore, while gathered in groups, under the grateful shade-trees, could be seen the wounded whose strength was sufficient to drag them thither. This field was a shocking spectacle. And as the horseman rode slowly along the desolate track, peering curiously and sadly into the upturned faces of the dead, a casual observer might have detected the melancholy expression on his face, and marked the glittering tear that bedewed his eyes. For brave, true, noble George Marshall, was never ashamed to weep over the woes of humanity! Imperative business had called him from his post of duty to the seat of war, just in time to be within ear-shot of that memorable seven days’ carnage. And as he rode, on that quiet summer morning, strange, painful emotions filled his heart. Around and about him, before and behind, lay grim and ghastly faces cold in death-faces of soldiers who were brothers in country, and many of them brothers in name-brothers in actual consanguinity, brothers in destiny, brothers in everything, save love. There they were, peaceful now, side by side, the last conflict ended, the last spark of animosity extinguished; there, side by side-dead. No wonder George Marshall wept. The wonder is that there ever throbbed a human heart that could refrain from weeping over such a scene.
At length, George Marshall suddenly drew his rein, and lifting his hand to his forehead so as to shade his eyes, gazed curiously forward for a moment toward an object lying not very far distant. Then, quickly alighting, he stepped cautiously toward the object of his scrutiny. It was the dead body of a soldier. The dark blue uniform told to which army he belonged. The stocking, turned back from a slender ankle, fell carelessly over the heavy army shoe. The head was half-averted, and the open eyes, though sightless, were still bright with God’s own azure.
“Creeping gently through his slender hand, as though it loved the cold caress of death, was a wild vine whose tiny blossoms would have shrunk at the touch of a wild bee’s foot.” By the side of his face was the worn cap that had fallen from his head as he fell.
Fearfully, timidly, with an air of dread, Colonel Marshall approached the silent figure and bent over the recumbent form.