Reminiscences of the Civil War

By John B. Gordon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVII
CAPTURE OF FORT STEDMAN

In the trenches at Petersburg -- General Lee's instructions -- A daring plan formed -- Preparations for a night assault -- An ingenious war ruse -- The fort captured with small loss -- Failure of reinforcements to arrive -- Loss of guides -- Necessary withdrawal from the fort -- The last effort to break Grant's hold.

LIKE fires that consume the dross and make pure the metal, Confederate distress and extremity seemed to strengthen and ennoble rather than weaken Confederate manhood. My hungry and debilitated men welcomed with a readiness intensely pathetic the order to break camp and move into the trenches at Petersburg. Their buoyancy of spirit was in no degree due to a lack of appreciation of the meaning of that night march. They were not mere machine soldiers, moved by a superior intelligence to which they blindly yielded obedience. They were thoughtful men, with naturally keen perceptions sharpened by long experience in actual war. They well knew that the order meant more suffering, more fighting, more slaughter; yet, if their conduct and assurances are trustworthy witnesses, these men were prepared for any additional sacrifices. There was no shouting or yelling; but silently, quickly, and cheerfully they folded their little sheet tents, packed their frying-pans and tin cups, and were promptly in line, with their knapsacks on their backs, their lean and empty haversacks on one side and

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