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116 A NOVEL MODE OF COMMUNICATION.
prisoners are coming in every day. A Sergeant and five men just came through the lines, and reported to Colonel Taylor, Field Ofiicer of the day. The Sergeant is from Ulster County, N. Y. Doubtless a great number would desert, if it were possible to do so without incurring danger. Yesterday much amusement was created by the operation of a new and original line of telegraph between our forces and the enemy. It seems a number of dogs have been wandering around in front for some days. 'One of them yesterday came in with a letter tied around his neck. It was read by our men, the Thirty-third being on picket duty at the time, and an answer sent back the same way; another note was likewise "written, and answered. The import of the first letter was, that they were much ' obliged for the tender of cannon they took from us the other day, and anything more of the same sort sent them, they would cheerfully receive.' ISTo doubt of it. The second was rough in its language, and full of empty boastings. The battle-field of last Saturday week is close by us, and bears evidence of the murderous conflict, when tens of thousands bore down upon barely a Division, and unsuccessfully tried to cut them off, or thrust or crush them into the river.
The difficulties attendant upon transporting troops and various munitions of war, has retarded us some, but now we are ready. This morning (the Sabbath) there was some sharp firing in front, but it was quickly subdued by a battery of our 20-poimders. A new Regiment has been added to our Brigade—
GENERAL PRIM. 117
Col. Max Weber's Eegiment—the 20th N. Y. Vols. We have a fine Brigade now, and our General thinks an effective one. Our picket line has been advanced twice, the enemy retiring each time. The regular receipt of the mails has been interrupted again, and of course is a source of regret to us. Sitting on the ramparts of our rifle-pits this morning, writing this letter, the view looking up the river, reminds one of Big Flats, at Geneseo, flooded by heavy rains. The stream here is unusually high. An old negro, 102 years old, who has always lived in this section, says that he never knew such an immense quantity of rain to fall before in the same space of time, at this season of the year. Gen. Prim and Staff, with our Division Staff, just passed through our camp on a reconnoissance to the front."
118 SHELLING BY THE ENEMY.
Proximity to the Rebels.—Colonel Taylor fired at by a Sharpshooter.—Picket Skirmishing.—Building a Bridge.—Position of Affairs. — General McClellan Reconnoitring.—He writes to the President.—Lee's Plans.—Second Battle of Mechanicsville.— Shelling the Thirty-third's Camp.—Battle of Gaines' Farm.— A Retreat to the James decided upon.
Soon after reaching " Camp Lincoln," the Thirtythird was set to work on a formidable redoubt, since known as "Fort Davidson," and likewise constructed numerous rifle-pits. The enemy daily threw shot and shell at our encampments, apparently for mere pastime, many of them striking among the tents. On one occasion a round shot, passing entirely over the officers' quarters, killed Dr. Spencer's Orderly in the rear. Not long after another came whizzing through the air, and carried away the shoulder blade of a reckless cavalryman, who was laughing as he rode along at the manoeuvres of the men, declaring that he would not "dodge for their guns." A member of the Seventy-seventh was killed in hospital close by.
The rebels also had a very disagreeable habit of climbing up in the forest trees and firing at us, some times even when sitting in the camp doors. One afternoon, as Colonel Taylor was reclining upon a