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Monday, June 30, 2014



By Colonel Frank Aretas Haskell, United States Army (1828-1864). In the public domain.

Col. Frank A. Haskell
U.S. Army of the
Potomac II Corps
Despite a terrible loss at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May of 1863, a defeat that verged on humiliation at the hands of Robert E. Lee...the Union Army would not go away and by the end of June, 1863, one Union officer, a veteran of Gettysburg wrote that on the eve of that great Pennsylvania battle: “the [Union] Army of the Potomac was no band of school girls...”

[AUTHORFrank Aretas Haskell was born at Tunbridge, Vermont, on July 13, 1828. He graduated at Dartmouth College in 1854, and went to Madison, Wisconsin, to practice law. On the outbreak of the War, he received a commission as First Lieutenant of Company I, of the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and served as Adjutant of his regiment until April 14, 1862, when he became aide-de-camp to General John Gibbon, commander of the Iron Brigade. This was his rank in the battle of Gettysburg. On Feb. 9, 1864, Haskell was appointed Colonel of the Thirty-sixth Wisconsin; and on June 3, of the same year, he fell and died when leading a charge at the battle of Cold Harbor, one of the most distinguished soldiers of the Army of the Potomac.

This account of Gettysburg was written by Haskell to his brother, shortly after the battle, and was not intended for publication. This fact ought to be borne in mind in connection with some severe reflections cast by the author upon certain officers and soldiers of the Union army. The present text follows the unabridged reprint of the Wisconsin Historical Commission; and the notes on Haskell’s estimates of numbers and losses have been supplied by the late Colonel Thomas L. Livermore, the well-known authority on this subject.]



The great battle of Gettysburg is now an event of the past. The composition and strength of the armies, their leaders, the strategy, the tactics, the result, of that field are today by the side of those of Waterloo—matters of history. A few days ago these things were otherwise. This great event did not so “cast its shadow before,” as to moderate the hot sunshine that streamed upon our preceding march, or to relieve our minds of all apprehension of the result of the second great Rebel invasion of the soil North of the Potomac.             
No, not many days since, at times we were filled with fears and forebodings. The people of the country, I suppose, shared the anxieties of the army, somewhat in common with us, but they could not have felt them as keenly as we did. We were upon the immediate theatre of events, as they occurred from day to day, and were of them.

We were the army whose province it should be to meet this invasion and repel it; on us was the immediate responsibility for results, most momentous for good or ill, as yet in the future. And so in addition to the solicitude of all good patriots, we felt that our own honor as men and as an army, as well as the safety of the Capitol and the country, were at stake.        

And what if that invasion should be successful, and in the coming battle, the Army of the Potomac should be overpowered? Would it not be? When our army was much larger than at present—had rested all winter—and, nearly perfect in all its departments and arrangements, was the most splendid army this continent ever saw, only a part of the Rebel force, which it now had to contend with, had defeated it—its leader, rather—at Chancellorsville!

Now the Rebel had his whole force assembled, he was flushed with recent victory, was arrogant in his career of unopposed invasion, at a favorable season of the year. His daring plans, made by no unskilled head, to transfer the war from his own to his enemies’ ground, were being successful. He had gone a day’s march from his front before Gen. Joseph Hooker moved, or was aware of his departure. Then, I believe, the army in general, both officers and men, had no confidence in Hooker, in either his honesty or ability.            
Did they not charge him, personally, with the defeat at Chancellorsville? Were they not still burning with indignation against him for that disgrace? And now, again under his leadership, they were marching against the enemy! And they knew of nothing, short of the providence of God, that could, or would, remove him. For many reasons, during the marches prior to the battle, we were anxious, and at times heavy at heart.            
But the Army of the Potomac was no band of school girls. They were not the men likely to be crushed or utterly discouraged by any new circumstances in which they might find themselves placed. They had lost some battles, they had gained some. They knew what defeat was, and what was victory. But here is the greatest praise that I can bestow upon them, or upon any army: With the elation of victory, or the depression of defeat, amidst the hardest toils of the campaign, under unwelcome leadership, at all times, and under all circumstances, they were a reliable army still. The Army of the Potomac would do as it was told, always.   
Well clothed, and well fed—there never could be any ground for complaint on these heads—but a mighty work was before them. Onward they moved—night and day were blended—over many a weary mile, through dust, and through mud, in the broiling sunshine, in the flooding rain, over steeps, through defiles, across rivers, over last year’s battle fields, where the skeletons of our dead brethren, by hundreds, lay bare and bleaching, weary, without sleep for days, tormented with the newspapers, and their rumors, that the enemy was in Philadelphia, in Baltimore, in all places where he was not, yet these men could still be relied upon, I believe, when the day of conflict should come.

“Haec olim meminisse juvabit.”
 [... perhaps this too will be a pleasure to look back on one day.]

We did not then know this. I mention them now, that you may see that in those times we had several matters to think about, and to do, that were not as pleasant as sleeping upon a bank of violets in the shade.             
In moving from near Falmouth, Va., the army was formed in several columns, and took several roads. The Second Corps, the rear of the whole, was the last to move, and left Falmouth at daybreak, on the 15th of June, and pursued its march through Aquia, Dumfries, Wolf Run Shoales, Centerville, Gainesville, Thoroughfare Gap—this last we left on the 25th, marching back to Haymarket, where we had a skirmish with the cavalry and horse artillery of the enemy—Gum Spring, crossing the Potomac at Edward’s Ferry, thence through Poolesville, Frederick, Liberty, and Union Town.

We marched from near Frederick to Union Town, a distance of 32 miles, from 8 am to 9 pm, on the 28th, and I think this is the longest march, accomplished in so short a time, by a corps during the war. On the 28th, while we were near this latter place, we breathed a full breath of joy, and of hope. The Providence of God had been with us—we ought not to have doubted it—General George Meade commanded the Army of the Potomac.   

Not a favorable time, one would be apt to suppose, to change the General of a large army, on the eve of battle, the result of which might be to destroy the Government and country! But it should have been done long before. At all events, any change could not have been for the worse, and the Administration, therefore, hazarded little, in making it now. From this moment my own mind was easy concerning results. I now felt that we had a clear-headed, honest soldier, to command the army, who would do his best always—that there would be no repetition of Chancellorsville.

Meade was not as much known in the Army as many of the other corps commanders, but the officers who knew, all thought highly of him, a man of great modesty, with none of those qualities which are noisy and assuming, and hankering for cheap newspaper fame, not all of the “gallant” Gen. Daniel Sickles stamp.

I happened to know much of General Meade—he and General Gibbon had always been very intimate, and I had seen much of him—I think my own notions concerning General Meade at this time, were shared quite generally by the army, at all events, all who knew him shared them.             

By this time, by reports that were not mere rumors, we began to hear frequently of the enemy, and of his proximity. His cavalry was all about us, making little raids there and here, capturing now and then a few of our wagons, and stealing a good many horses, but doing us really the least amount possible of harm, for we were not by these means impeded at all, and his cavalry gave no information at all to Lee, that he could rely upon, of the movements of the Army of the Potomac.

The Infantry of the enemy was at this time in the neighborhood of Hagerstown, Chambersburg, and some had been at Gettysburg, possibly were there now.

Gettysburg was a point of strategic importance, a great many roads, some ten or 12 at least concentrating there, so the army could easily converge to, or, should a further march be necessary, diverge from this point. General Meade, therefore, resolved to try to seize Gettysburg, and accordingly gave the necessary orders for the concentration of his different columns there. Under the new auspices the army brightened, and moved on with a more elastic step towards the yet undefined field of conflict.             

The 1st Corps, General John Reynolds, already having the advance, was ordered to push forward rapidly, and take and hold the town, if he could. The rest of the Army would assemble to his support. Gen. John Buford’s Cavalry co-operated with this corps, and on the morning of the 1st of July found the enemy near Gettysburg and to the West, and promptly engaged him. The First Corps having bivouacked the night before, South of the town, came up rapidly to Buford’s support, and immediately a sharp battle was opened with the advance of the enemy. The First Division (Gen. James Wadsworth) was the first of the infantry to become engaged, but the other two, commanded respectively by Generals William Robinson and Abner Doubleday, were close at hand, and forming the line of battle to the West and North-west of the town, at a mean distance of about a mile away, the battle continued for some hours, with various success, which was on the whole with us until near noon. At this time a lull occurred, which was occupied, by both sides, in supervising and re-establishing the hastily formed lines of the morning.

New Divisions of the enemy were constantly arriving and taking up positions, for this purpose marching in upon the various roads that terminate at the town, from the West and North. The position of the First Corps was then becoming perilous in the extreme, but it was improved a little before noon by the arrival upon the field of two Divisions of the Eleventh Corps (Gen. Oliver Howard), these Divisions commanded respectively by Generals Carl Schurz and Francis Barlow, who by order posted their commands to the right of the First Corps, with their right retired, forming an angle with the line of the First Corps.

Between 3 pm and 4 pm, the enemy, now in overwhelming force, resumed the battle, with spirit. The portion of the Eleventh Corps making but feeble opposition to the advancing enemy, soon began to fall back.  

Back in disorganized masses they fled into the town, hotly pursued, and in lanes, in barns, in yards and cellars, throwing away their arms, they sought to hide like rabbits, and were there captured, unresisting, by hundreds.       

The First Corps, deprived of this support, if support it could be called, outflanked upon either hand, and engaged in front, was compelled to yield the field. Making its last stand upon what is called “Seminary Ridge,” not far from the town, it fell back in considerable confusion, through the Southwest part of the town, making brave resistance, however, but with considerable loss.
The enemy did not see fit to follow, or to attempt to, further than the town, and so the fight of the 1st of July closed here. I suppose our losses during the day would exceed 4,000, of whom a large number were prisoners. Such usually is the kind of loss sustained by the Eleventh Corps. You will remember that the old “Iron Brigade” is in the First Corps, and consequently shared this fight, and I hear their conduct praised on all hands.
In the 2nd Wis., Col. Lucious Fairchild lost his left arm; Lieut. Col. Greenleaf Stevens was mortally wounded, and Major John Mansfield was wounded; Lieut. Col. John Callis, of the 7th Wis., and Lieut. Col. William Dudley, of the 19th Ind., were badly, dangerously, wounded, the latter by the loss of his right leg above the knee.        

Gettysburg Civilian John Burns
I saw “John Burns,” the only citizen of Gettysburg who fought in the battle, and I asked him what troops he fought with. He said: “O, I pitched in with them Wisconsin fellers.” I asked what sort of men they were, and he answered: “They fit terribly. The Rebs couldn’t make anything of them fellers.” And so the brave compliment the brave. This man was touched by three bullets from the enemy, but not seriously wounded.             

But the loss of the enemy today was severe also, probably in killed and wounded, as heavy as our own, but not so great in prisoners.  Of these latter, the “Iron Brigade” captured almost an entire Mississippi Brigade, however.    

Of the events so far, of the 1st of July, I do not speak from personal knowledge. I shall now tell my introduction to these events.  At 11 am on that day, the Second Corps was halted at Taneytown, which is 13 miles from Gettysburg, South, and there awaiting orders, the men were allowed to make coffee and rest.

At between 1 pm and 2 pm, a message was brought to Gen. Gibbon, requiring his immediate presence at the headquarters of Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, who commanded the Corps. I went with Gen. Gibbon, and we rode at a rapid gallop, to Gen. Hancock.         

At Gen. Hancock’s headquarters the following was learned: The First Corps had met the enemy at Gettysburg, and had possession of the town. Gen. Reynolds was badly, it was feared mortally, wounded; the fight of the First Corps still continued. By Gen. Meade’s order, Gen. Hancock was to hurry forward and take command upon the field, of all troops there, or which should arrive there. The Eleventh Corps was near Gettysburg when the messenger who told of the fight left there, and the Third Corps was marching up, by order, on the Emmetsburg Road—Gen. Gibbon—he was not the ranking officer of the Second Corps after Hancock—was ordered to assume the command of the Second Corps. 

All this was sudden, and for that reason, at least, exciting; but there were other elements in this information, that aroused our profoundest interest. The great battle that we had so anxiously looked for during so many days, had at length opened, and it was a relief, in some sense, to have these accidents of time and place established. What would be the result? Might not the enemy fall upon and destroy the First Corps before succor could arrive?    

Gen. Hancock, with his personal staff, at about 2 pm, galloped off towards Gettysburg; Gen. Gibbon took his place in command of the Corps, appointing me his acting Assistant Adjutant General. The Second Corps took arms at once, and moved rapidly towards the field. It was not long before we began to hear the dull booming of the guns, and as we advanced, from many an eminence or opening among the trees, we could look out upon the white battery smoke, puffing up from the distant field of blood, and drifting up to the clouds. At these sights and sounds, the men looked more serious than before and were more silent, but they marched faster, and straggled less.

At about 5 pm, as we were riding along at the head of the column, we met an ambulance, accompanied by two or three mounted officers—we knew them to be staff officers of Gen. Reynolds—their faces told plainly enough what load the vehicle carried—it was the dead body of Gen. Reynolds. Very early in the action, while seeing personally to the formation of his lines under fire, he was shot through the head by a musket or rifle bullet, and killed almost instantly. His death at this time affected us much, for he was one of the soldier Generals of the army, a man whose soul was in his country’s work, which he did with a soldier’s high honor and fidelity.        

I remember seeing him often at the first battle of Fredericksburg—he then commanded the First Corps—and while Meade’s and Gibbon’s Divisions were assaulting the enemy’s works, he was the very beau ideal of the gallant general. Mounted upon a superb black horse, with his head thrown back and his great black eyes flashing fire, he was everywhere upon the field, seeing all things and giving commands in person. He died as many a friend, and many a foe to the country have died in this war.            

Just as the dusk of evening fell, from Gen. Meade, the Second Corps had orders to halt, where the head of the column then was, and to go into position for the night. The Second Division (Gibbon’s) was accordingly put in position, upon the left of the (Taneytown) road, its left near the Southeastern base of “Round Top”—of which mountain more anon—and the right near the road; the Third Division was posted upon the right of the road, abreast of the Second, and the first Division in the rear of these two—all facing towards Gettysburg.          

Arms were stacked, and the men lay down to sleep, alas! many of them their last but the great final sleep upon the earth.

Late in the afternoon as we came near the field, from some slightly wounded men we met, and occasional stragglers from the scene of operations in front, we got many rumors, and much disjointed information of battle, of lakes of blood, of rout and panic and indescribable disaster, from all of which the narrators were just fortunate enough to have barely escaped, the sole survivors. These stragglers are always terrible liars!       
About 9 pm in the evening, while I was yet engaged in showing the troops their positions, I met Gen. Hancock, then on his way from the front, to Gen. Meade, who was back toward Taneytown; and he, for the purpose of having me advise Gen. Gibbon, for his information, gave me quite a detailed account of the situation of matters at Gettysburg, and of what had transpired subsequently to his arrival.    

He had arrived and assumed command there, just when the troops of the First and Eleventh Corps, after their repulse, were coming in confusion through the town. Hancock is just the man for such an emergency as this. Upon horseback I think he was the most magnificent looking General in the whole Army of the Potomac at that time. With a large, well shaped person, always dressed with elegance, even upon that field of confusion, he would look as if he was “monarch of all he surveyed,” and few of his subjects would dare to question his right to command, or do aught else but to obey.

His quick eye, in a flash, saw what was to be done, and his voice and his royal right hand at once commenced to do it. Gen. Howard had put one of his Divisions—Gen. Adolph Steinwehr—with some batteries, in position, upon a commanding eminence, at the “Cemetery,” which, as a reserve, had not participated in the fight of the day, and this Division was now of course steady.

Around this Division the fugitives were stopped, and the shattered Brigades and Regiments, as they returned, were formed upon either flank, and faced toward the enemy again. A show of order at least, speedily came from chaos—the rout was at an end—the First and Eleventh Corps were in line of battle again—not very systematically formed perhaps—in a splendid position, and in a condition to offer resistance, should the enemy be willing to try them. These formations were all accomplished long before night.

Then some considerable portion of the Third Corps—Gen. Sickles—came up by the Emmetsburg road, and was formed to the left of the Taneytown road, on an extension of the line that I have mentioned; and all the Twelfth Corps—Gen. Henry Slocum—arriving before night, the Divisions were put in position, to the right of the troops already there, to the East of the Baltimore Pike. The enemy was in town, and behind it, and to the East and West, and appeared to be in strong force, and was jubilant over his day’s success.

Such was the posture of affairs as evening came on of the first of July. Gen. Hancock was hopeful, and in the best of spirits; and from him I also learned that the reason for halting the Second Corps in its present position, was that it was not then known where, in the coming fight, the line of battle would be formed, up near the town, where the troops then were, or further back towards Taneytown. He would give his views upon this subject to Gen. Meade, which were in favor of the line near the town—the one that was subsequently adopted—and Gen. Meade would determine.    

The night before a great pitched battle would not ordinarily, I suppose, be a time for much sleep for Generals and their staff officers. We needed it enough, but there was work to be done. This war makes strange confusion of night and day! I did not sleep at all that night. It would, perhaps, be expected, on the eve of such great events, that one should have some peculiar sort of feeling, something extraordinary, some great arousing and excitement of the sensibilities and faculties, commensurate with the event itself; this certainly would be very poetical and pretty, but so far as I was concerned, and I think I can speak for the army in this matter, there was nothing of the kind.

Men who had volunteered to fight the battles of the country, had met the enemy in many battles, and had been constantly before them, as had the Army of the Potomac, were too old soldiers and long ago too well had weighed chances and probabilities, to be so disturbed now. No, I believe, the army slept soundly that night, and well, and I am glad the men did, for they needed it.        

At midnight Gen. Meade and staff rode by Gen. Gibbon’s Headquarters, on their way to the field; and in conversation with Gen. Gibbon, Gen. Meade announced that he had decided to assemble the whole army before Gettysburg, and offer the enemy battle there. The Second Corps would move at the earliest daylight, to take up its position.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


The Civil War Battle of Stones River, near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was fought December 31, 1862
to January 3, 1863.  Technically, it was fought to a draw, but the Federal forces stood their ground
for the first time causing the Rebels retreating.  In the North it was viewed as a Union victory.
Text Courtesy of

Ambrose Bierce

Editor’s Note: This amazing short story is a glimpse 
of post-American Civil War influenced fiction by 
one of the leading authors/journalists of his 
day. It’s gentleness belies an undercurrent of 
battle horror.


1: The Review as a Form of Welcome
One summer night a man stood on a low hill overlooking a wide expanse 
of forest and field. By the full moon hanging low in the west he knew 
what he might not have known otherwise: that it was near the hour 
of dawn. 
A light mist lay along the earth, partly veiling the lower features of the 
landscape, but above it the taller trees showed in well- defined masses 
against a clear sky. Two or three farmhouses were visible through the 
haze, but in none of them, naturally, was a light.
THE AUTHOR: Ambrose Bierce (born 1842) was an American editorialist, 
journalist, short-story writer and satirist. Today, he is best known for his 
short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and his satirical dictionary 
“The Devil's Dictionary.” In October 1913, the septuagenarian Bierce departed 
Washington, D.C., for a tour of his old Civil War battlefields. By December 
he had proceeded on through Louisiana and Texas, crossing by way of El Paso 
into Mexico, which was in the throes of revolution. After a last letter to a close friend, 
sent from there December 26, 1913, he vanished without a trace, 
becoming one of the most notable disappearances in American history. 
Investigations into his fate have proved fruitless and, despite an abundance 
of theories, his end remains shrouded in mystery.
Nowhere, indeed, was any sign or suggestion of life except the barking 
of a distant dog, which, repeated with mechanical iteration, served 
rather to accentuate than dispel the loneliness of the scene.
The man looked curiously about him on all sides, as one who among 
familiar surroundings is unable to determine his exact place and part 
in the scheme of things. It is so, perhaps, that we shall act when, risen 
from the dead, we await the call to judgment.
A hundred yards away was a straight road, showing white in the
moonlight. Trying to orient himself, the man moved his eyes slowly 
along its visible length and at a distance of a quarter-mile to the south 
he saw, dim and grey in the haze, a group of horsemen riding to the 
north. Behind them were men afoot, marching in column, with dimly 
gleaming rifles on their shoulders. They moved slowly and in silence. 
Another group of horsemen, another regiment of infantry, another and 
another --all in unceasing motion toward the man's point of view, 
past it, and beyond. A battery of artillery followed, the cannoneers 
riding with folded arms on limber and caisson. And still the 
interminable procession came out of the obscurity to south and 
passed into the obscurity to north, with never a sound of voice, nor 
hoof, nor wheel.
The man could not rightly understand: he thought himself deaf; said 
so, and heard his own voice, although it had an unfamiliar quality that 
almost alarmed him; it disappointed his ear's expectancy in the matter 
of timbre and resonance. But he was not deaf, and that for the moment 
Then he remembered that there are natural phenomena to which 
someone has given the name 'acoustic shadows.' If you stand in an 
acoustic shadow there is one direction from which you will hear nothing. 
For example, at the battle of Gaines's Mill [Hanover, VA, June 27, 1862], 
one of the fiercest conflicts of the Civil War, with a hundred guns in 
play, spectators a mile and a half away on the opposite side of the 
Chickahominy Valley heard nothing of what they clearly saw. 
The bombardment of Port Royal, South Carolina [November 7, 1861] 
heard and felt at St. Augustine, a 150 to the south, was inaudible two 
miles to the north in a still atmosphere. 
A few days before the surrender at Appomattox, Virginia (April, 9 1865) 
a thunderous engagement between the commands of Union General 
Phillip Sheridan and Rebel General George Pickett was unknown to 
the latter commander, a mile in the rear of his own line.
These instances were not known to the man of whom we write, but 
less striking ones of the same character had not escaped his observation. 
He was profoundly disquieted, but for another reason than the 
uncanny silence of that moonlight march.
'Good Lord! ' he said to himself--and again it was as if another had 
spoken his thought--'if those people are what I take them to be we 
have lost the battle and they are moving on Nashville!'
Then came a thought of self--an apprehension --a strong sense of
personal peril, such as in an- other we call fear. He stepped quickly 
into the shadow of a tree. And still the silent battalions moved slowly 
forward in the haze.
The chill of a sudden breeze upon the back of his neck drew his
attention to the quarter whence it came, and turning to the east he 
saw a faint grey light along the horizon--the first sign of returning day.  
This increased his apprehension.
'I must get away from here,' he thought, 'or I shall be discovered
and taken.'
He moved out of the shadow, walking rapidly toward the greying east. 
From the safer seclusion of a clump of cedars he looked back. The 
entire column had passed out of sight: the straight white road lay 
bare and desolate in the moonlight!
Puzzled before, he was now inexpressibly astonished. So swift a
passing of so slow an army!--he could not comprehend it. Minute 
after minute passed unnoted; he had lost his sense of time. He 
sought with a terrible earnestness a solution of the mystery, but 
sought in vain. 
When at last he roused himself from his abstraction the sun's rim 
was visible above the hills, but in the new conditions he found no 
other light than that of day; his understanding was involved as darkly 
in doubt as before.
On every side lay cultivated fields showing no sign of war and war's 
ravages. From the chimneys of the farmhouses thin ascensions of 
blue smoke signalled preparations for a day's peaceful toil. Having 
stilled its immemorial allocution to the moon, the watch-dog was 
assisting a negro who, prefixing a team of mules to the plough, was 
flatting and sharping contentedly at his task. 
The hero of this tale stared stupidly at the pastoral picture as if he 
had never seen such a thing in all his life; then he put his hand to his 
head, passed it through his hair and, withdrawing it, attentively 
considered the palm--a singular thing to do. Apparently reassured 
by the act, he walked confidently toward the road.
2: When You have Lost Your Life Consult a Physician 
Dr. Stilling Malson, of Murfreesboro, TN having visited a patient six or seven 
miles away, on the Nashville road, had remained with him all night. 
At daybreak he set out for home on horseback, as was the custom of 
doctors of the time and region. He had passed into the neighbourhood 
of Stone's River battlefield when a man approached him from the roadside 
and saluted in the military fashion, with a movement of the righthand to 
the hat-brim. 
But the hat was not a military hat, the man was not in a soldier’s uniform 
and had not a martial bearing. The doctor nodded civilly, half thinking 
that the stranger's uncommon greeting was perhaps in deference to the 
historic surroundings of the bitter battle that took place on December 31, 
1862.  As the stranger evidently desired speech with him the doctor 
courteously reined in his horse and waited.
'Sir,' said the stranger, 'although a civilian, you are perhaps an
'I am a physician,' was the non-committal reply.
'Thank you,' said the other. 'I am a lieutenant, of the staff of
General Hazen.' He paused a moment and looked sharply at the 
person whom he was addressing, then added, 'Of the Federal army.' 
The physician merely nodded.
'Kindly tell me,' continued the other, 'what has happened here.
Where are the armies? Which has won the battle?'
The physician regarded his questioner curiously with half-shut eyes. 
After a professional scrutiny, prolonged to the limit of politeness, 
'Pardon me,' he said; 'one asking information should be willing to 
impart it.  Are you wounded?' he added, smiling.
'Not seriously--it seems.'
The man removed the unmilitary hat, put his hand to his head, 
passed it through his hair and, withdrawing it, attentively 
considered the palm.
'I was struck by a bullet and have been unconscious. It must have
been a light, glancing blow: I find no blood and feel no pain. I will 
not trouble you for treatment, but will you kindly direct me to my 
command--to any part of the Federal army--if you know?'
Again the doctor did not immediately reply: he was recalling much 
that is recorded in the books of his profession--something about 
lost identity and the effect of familiar scenes in restoring it. 
At length he looked the man in the face, smiled, and said:
'Lieutenant, you are not wearing the uniform of your rank and
At this the man glanced down at his civilian attire, lifted his
eyes, and said with hesitation:'That is true. I--I don't quite 
understand.' Still regarding him sharply but not unsympathetically, 
the man of science bluntly inquired: 'How old are you?'
'Twenty-three--if that has anything to do with it.'
'You don't look it; I should hardly have guessed you to be just
The man was growing impatient. 'We need not discuss that,' he 
said: 'I want to know about the army. Not two hours ago I saw a 
column of troops moving northward on this road. You must have 
met them. Be good enough to tell me the color of their clothing, 
which I was unable to make out, and I'll trouble you no more.'
'You are quite sure that you saw them?'
'Sure? My God, sir, I could have counted them!'
'Why, really,' said the physician, with an amusing consciousness 
of his own resemblance to the loquacious barber of the Arabian 
Nights, 'this is very in- teresting. I met no troops.'
The man looked at him coldly, as if he had himself observed the
likeness to the barber. 'It is plain,' he said, 'that you do not care to 
assist me. Sir, you may go to the devil!'
He turned and strode away, very much at random, across the dewy 
fields, his half-penitent tormentor quietly watching him from 
his point of vantage in the saddle till he disappeared beyond a copse 
of trees.
3: The Danger of Looking into a Pool of Water 
After leaving the road the man slackened his pace, and now went
forward, rather deviously, with a distinct feeling of fatigue. He
could not account for this, though truly the interminable loquacity of 
that country doctor offered itself in explanation. 
Seating himself upon a rock, he laid one hand upon his knee, back 
upward, and casually looked at it. It was lean and withered. He lifted 
both hands to his face. It was seamed and furrowed; he could trace 
the lines with the tips of his fingers. How strange!--a mere 
bullet-stroke and a brief unconsciousness should not make one 
a physical wreck.
'I must have been a long time in hospital,' he said aloud. 'Why,
what a fool I am! The battle was in December, and it is now 
summer!' He laughed. 'No wonder the doctor thought me an 
escaped lunatic. He was wrong: I am only an escaped patient.'
At a little distance a small plot of ground enclosed by a stone wall
caught his attention. With no very definite intent he rose and went 
to it. In the centre was a square, solid monument of hewn stone. 
It was brown with age, weather-worn at the angles, spotted with 
moss and lichen. Between the massive blocks were strips of grass 
the leverage of whose roots had pushed them apart. In answer to 
the challenge of this ambitious structure Time had laid his destroying 
hand upon it, and it would soon be 'one with Nineveh and Tyre.' 
In an inscription on one side his eye caught a familiar name. 
Shaking with excitement, he craned his body across the wall and read: 
toThe Memory of Its Soldiers
who fell at Stone River, Dec. 31, 1862.
The man fell back from the wall, faint and sick. Almost within an
arm's length was a little depression in the earth; it had been filled 
by a recent rain--a pool of clear water. He crept to it to revive himself, 
lifted the upper part of his body on his trembling arms, thrust forward 
his head and saw the reflection of his face, as in a mirror. 
He uttered a terrible cry. His ancient arms gave way; he fell, face 
downward, into the pool and yielded up the life that had spanned 
another life.

FYI: The actual report of the Battle of Stones River, written by
Union General William S. Rosecrans can be found at the
following link: