Category Archives: 1864 – Spring

Cold Harbor

Another dawn assault. It was the last thing the veterans of the Fourteenth Connecticut wanted, but they rose and filed into line before first light. At his time in the war each member of the Fourteenth carried a Sharps Model 1858 breech loading rifle and those of Company D had the special Berdans Sharpshooter modifications. The men were told to secure all equipment, anything that would clink or clank, so that they could advance as quietly as possible.

The grand assault of the Second Corps on the morning of June 3rd was the most disastrous contest of arms for the Army of the Potomac since Fredericksburg. The toll was heaviest among those regiments that had been rushed forward from Washington and other points to replace the men lost at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania. Their crisp uniforms and smart marching branded them as “fresh fish” and no doubt they had heard the taunts of the grizzled veterans. They went forward as ordered. It was their duty, They would earn with their blood the respect of the regiments to their right and left. Casualties were horrendous. Thousands fell in less than an hour. (Click here for a Wikipedia map of the June 3rd assault. Note Gibbon’s division.)

By contrast, casualties to the Fourteenth Connecticut were few, one killed and about ten wounded. When they advanced, the rapid fire of their Sharps rifles took a heavy toll on the Rebel pickets. The men pressed toward the stout breastworks of the Confederate main line, and when they came under heavy musket and artillery fire, they dropped to the ground and made the best of a bad situation. The men lay behind the bodies of the Rebel pickets they had shot just moments before and used their bayonets, tin cups and plates to dig up the earth and mound it over the corpses to form their own low breast works.

The Fourteenth maintained its position throughout the remainder of June 3rd. Company D kept up a lively fire on a Rebel battery, and prevented the guns from being used against them. Directly opposite the Fourteenth was the Forty-Second North Carolina. Late in the afternoon of June 4th, Confederate troops were seen massing behind their works, and the men of the Fourteenth prepared for another fight. The charging line of Rebels closed to within fifty feet and were met with a hail of lead. The men of the Fourteenth poured shot after shot from their Sharps into their foes, three shots per man to every one of theirs. Some of the North Carolina men surrendered, including an officer who asked, “Where are your men? I thought the line at this point was at least four men deep, the fire came so fast and thick.”

A tenuous and almost friendly stalemate developed. A truce was called. The dead were buried, except those interred within the Fourteenth’s breastworks, and the wounded were taken to the rear for treatment. The combatants shook hands and traded goods and had a fine time, in spite of the circumstances. And then the truce was over and the men headed back to their lines.

“Hey Yanks,” a voice called over from the Forty-Second North Carolina, “if you’uns won’t fire, we’uns won’t.”

For several days this informal truce held until one morning the voice called again. “The Sixth Alabama is going to succeed us and they fire at sight. Now, Yanks, lie low.”

 

 

 

Totopotomoy Creek

150 YEAR AGO TODAY the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia were once again glaring at each other from behind breastworks on opposite sides of a sluggish meandering stream called Totopotomoy Creek. After withdrawing all his troops to the north side of the North Anna River, Lt. Gen. U. S. Grant again tried to turn Gen. Lee’s right (eastern) flank. The Union army crossed the Pamunkey River a mile or two upstream of where the Mechanicsville Turnpike (US 360) crosses the river today.  (Click here to view a Wikipedia map.)

While the Federals marched by longer routes, Lee’s army constructed a formidable line of breastworks along the south side of the Totopotomoy. The four corps of Meade’s Army of the Potomac approached the creek and dug in along the north side—from west to east Wright (6th), Hancock (2nd), Burnside (9th), Warren (5th).

From left to right Generals Barlow, Hancock (seated), Birney, and GibbonThe photo at left shows the commanding officers of the Second Corps. At the left is Brig. Gen. Francis C. Barlow, First Division. His wife Arabella was serving as an army nurse and would die that summer of typhus. Seated is the commander of the Second Corps, Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, who was severely wounded eleven months earlier at Gettysburg. Standing behind Hancock is Maj. Gen. David Birney, Third Division. He was the son of an ardent abolitionist from Kentucky. Birney would contract malaria during the siege of Petersburg and die October 18, 1864. At the right is Brig. Gen. John Gibbon, Second Division, who would eventually rise to command a corps. The photo was probably taken during early June 1864 near Cold Harbor.

In the grand scheme of things the fighting at Totopotomoy Creek, and a few miles east at Bethesda Church, was minor. Only Barlow’s Division would fight their way across the creek, but they found the position under the Confederate works too perilous and returned to the north side of the creek. Our friends in the Fourteenth Connecticut were involved only in occasional skirmishing and sharpshooting. (Click to view a map from The Civil War Trust.)

The Library of Congress is a great resource for Civil War photos (like the one above) and maps. The link below will open a map of the Totopotomoy line of earthworks. You can pan and zoom the map to examine it in detail. Note the misspelling in the title, a common occurrence with older maps. More importantly, note the extent of the lines from east to west, and then south (in the lower right corner), where the entrenchments would be continued o what would become the bloody battlefield of Cold Harbor, or as the cartographer spelled it “Cool Arbor.” (Click to view the map from The Library of Congress.)

Moon-Blind on the North Anna

By Friday, the 20th of May, 1864, skirmishing and fighting around Spotsylvania Courthouse had ended, but the killing wasn’t quite finished. A soldier in the 20th Massachusetts, who had deserted three times since the start of the campaign, was executed by firing squad. All of Gibbon’s Division of the Second Corps, including the Fourteenth Connecticut stood silently in ranks to witness the execution.

That night at about eleven o’clock, the men of the Fourteenth and the rest of the Seconds Corps began to march away from Spotsylvania to the east. As dawn broke, the men reached the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad and turned south and passed by a simple white house beside the railroad at Guinea Station. Whispers passed from the men in front to those behind. “That’s where Stonewall Jackson died.”

By noon they were marching through Bowling Green. Just beyond the town they turned west onto a road that led to Milford where a halt was finally called. The men built strong breastworks until after midnight.

On Sunday morning, after some skirmishing, the cavalry brought in a large group of Union soldiers they had recaptured from the Rebels. Then the Second Corps marched west to the vicinity of what is now Ruther Glen and turned south toward the North Anna River. Confederates north of the river offered token resistance, then torched the railroad bridge as they withdrew to breastworks on the south side of the river. The Harper’s Weekly drawing below depicts the burning of that bridge.

railroad-bridge

The Fifth and Sixth Corps were heavily engaged at Jericho Mills to the west, but the Second Corps was involved only skirmishing, some of it sharp and deadly, but no major battle.  (Click here for a map of the North Anna Battlefield.) Col. Samuel S. Carroll had been wounded during the fighting at the Mule Shoe on May 12th, and his replacement was the brigade’s former commander, Col. Thomas Smyth. Note the advanced position of Smyth’s Brigade on the map for a better understanding of the following amusing incident from Charles Page’s History of the Fourteenth Regiment, Conn. Vol. Inf.

Private Joseph Schlichter of Company B relates an interesting incident in connection with this engagement at North Anna River as follows: May 22rd, I864, we reached North Anna and the regiment immediately set to work building fortifications which were completed early in the evening. Being very tired, we didn’t stop to pitch our tents, so we lay in the open field to sleep. My tent mate said to me, “Joe. l wouldn’t lay on your back and have the moon shine in your face for it may injure your eyes’ eyes. I only laughed at him and fell fast asleep.

On the 23rd, we bivouacked on the banks of the North Anna River and that evening I discovered I was moon blind. I began to think Comrade Chaplie’s words had meaning in them, but I didn’t give it away just then. On the morning of the 24th, we crossed the river and immediately deployed as skirmishers. We advanced toward the rebel lines and kept the earthworks under a heavy fire until dark. The rebels formed a flank movement which compelled us to retreat. We retreated for about a quarter of a mile in good order when we again formed in a line or battle. Presently Adjutant Hincks, who was commanding our regiment at that time. asked “Is Joseph Schlichter here ?” I answered “Yes sir.” “Will you go out and see if we have an outpost or not, or whether there are any men between the enemy and us?” he said. I didn’t like to tell him I was unable to go on account of moon blindness, fearing I might be thought a coward, so I started.

After picking my way the best I could toward the enemy’s lines for some time I received the challenge, “Halt. who comes there?” “Friend without a countersign,” replied. “What regiment do you belong to?” he asked. Thinking these were rebels I answered. “The Sixteenth North Carolina.” I was immediately ordered to lay down my arms and surrender which I did. “What regiment do I surrender to?” I asked. “The Fifteenth Massachusetts,” was the reply. “All right. I am glad to hear it for l belong to the Fourteenth Connecticut,” I said.

The lieutenant of the Fifteenth Massachusetts advanced and took a good look at me. “What makes you lie and tell us you belong to the North Carolina regiment?” he said. I told him the circumstances, and then I said, “if your answer had been different I should have made an about face and double-quick marched toward the Union lines. When I was ordered to surrender I knew I was still in the Union lines.” “How came you to give me the Sixteenth North Carolina?” he then asked. “Because I knew that regiment was in front,” I replied. “How did you know?” “Because,” I answered, “there were some prisoners captured this afternoon belonging to that regiment.”

“Who commands your regiment?” was his next question. “Adjutant Hincks.” “Did he know you couldn’t see?” he asked. “No sir,” I answered. “I did not tell him.” He said, “You did nobly. I want to see your commanding officer.”

I returned with the lieutenant to my regiment when they saw I was moon blind. This lasted six weeks and in that time was not excused from duty. I was led by two comrades from the time we left North Anna until we reached Petersburg.”

Even though I write fiction, this story is not an invention. It may be thought that Private Schlichter was just trying to shirk his duty, but the fact that Adjutant Hincks sought him out for this special assignment tells us Schlichter was a trusted soldier. Even more telling is the following testimony from Schlichter’s sergeant:

“Of the ten old members left June 1st, 1864, it is believed that only one went through the whole three years without ever leaving the regiment on account of sickness, wounds, or special detail to other duty and that one was Private Joseph Schlichter. Never missing a battle or skirmish or any action in which the Fourteenth was ever engaged. always remaining as he enlisted, a private, yet he enjoys the distinction that some of his comrades have accorded him of having probably poured more lead into the rebel ranks than any other man in the Fourteenth, at least if ever a question of this nature should arise, our Joe would be the champion that Company B would put forth.”

And so, dear readers, I need your help to make sense of this incident. What malady could cause someone severe vision loss for a period of six weeks? All serious comments and suggestions are welcome.

Tribute to a Fallen Hero

Captain Samuel W. FiskeWhile the armies were locked in a deadly stalemate around Spotsylvania Courthouse, a private and poignant scene was being played out a several miles to the north at a Federal military hospital in Fredericksburg. Captain Samuel W. Fiske, Company G of the Fourteenth Connecticut, was dying with his young wife and his two little children at his bedside.

If you have not already done so, please read my post a.k.a Dunn Browne to learn more about how and why this minister of the gospel became an officer in the infantry. Also of special interest is my post Captain Fiske: Dead or Alive about his capture during the Battle of Chancellorsville.

In his last letter to the Springfield Republican, Captain Fiske revealed his pastor’s heart as he wrote of his belief that if the general officers would simply talk to the men, and explain what was needed and why, the men might be inspired to even greater service to the army and the country. He closed that final letter as follows:

I believe a good deal more might be made by a different course of proceeding, that our boys are something more than shooting machines, or if machines, that there are strings and pulleys and wheels in them that mere military orders don’t reach, and yet which might have much effect in deciding battles—these great and terrible battles that are to decide this opening campaign, and probably bring the war to an end—these coming successes (as we devoutly hope) that are to atone for the disgraceful reverses our arms have this spring sustained in every quarter where they have been engaged. Oh for power to speak a word that might thrill the breast of every Union soldier and rouse in him that holy enthusiasm for our right cause, which should make every blow struck irresistible, and carry our arms victorious right into the citadel of rebellion, and conquer a right peace. One or two of Meade’s modest, earnest orders, published to the army near the Gettysburg times, had a wonderfully happy effect. I trust more may be issued, and that every opportunity may be taken to inspire the patriotism and enthusiasm of our troops, and keep before their minds the great principles which first sent them forth from their peaceful homes to fight for endangered liberty and republican government, for God and freedom throughout the world.

Yours truly, DUNN BROWNE

Early on the morning of May 6th, during the Battle of the Wilderness, Captain Fiske was leading his company in an attempt to stem the frenzied assaults of Longstreet’s corps when he was struck in the chest by a single bullet. When his men were forced to fall back, they carried their stricken captain to the rear. After receiving cursory treatment at a field hospital, he was sent to Fredericksburg by ambulance.

The bullet had penetrated his right lung. At the time, internal surgery was in its infancy, and efforts to extract the bullet were not successful. The sad news was telegraphed to his wife, Lizzie, who traveled by train to Fredericksburg. She was able to spend several days with her husband, who was in good spirits until the end. But on Sunday, May 22nd, he knew his time had come. “Today I shall receive my marching orders,” he said. “Well, I am ready.”

Amen, Brother Fiske. You fought the good fight to the end.

The Mule Shoe – May 12, 1864

SPECIAL EDITION: 150 YEARS AGO TODAY fighting raged at Spotsylvania from the first light of dawn until well after midnight. It was in my opinion the most brutal and ghastly day of the entire Civil War.

In the overnight hours Hancock massed the Second Corps by divisions three lines deep. Gibbon’s Second Division, which included the Fourteenth Connecticut in the Col. Carroll’s Third Brigade, formed the third line. Wright’s Sixth Corps was to support the advance. The assault stepped off in silence, in heavy fog and drizzle at about 5:00 a.m., its objective a salient in the Confederate line known as the Mule Shoe, because of its distinctive shape. The front line of the assaulting column closed on the salient in silence, until alert Confederate pickets rose the alarm.

Confederate artillery boomed and the battle was on. The men of the Second Corps rushed forward into a depression in the land where the shells of the enemy had little effect. Then they went up to the works and leaped over them without stopping. The surprised Confederates were quickly driven back, and more and more Union troops poured into the breech in the Confederate line. (Click here to view a Wikipedia map of the Mule Shoe assault.)

When the men of the Fourteenth vaulted into the works, they captured more prisoners than they had in their own ranks for the second time in their history, the first being at Gettysburg. Brig. Gen. George Steuart was among their prisoners. They also turned two of the Confederate guns around and, under the direction of Lt. Col. Moore, some of the men served a brief stint in the artillery.

The assault of the Second Corps drove the Confederates about half a mile back to a second line of works that Lee had had built for this eventuality. The assault ground to a halt and a determined counterattack reversed the tide. The men of the Fourteenth lifted the two captured artillery pieces over the works and sent them to the rear along with their many prisoners. Then they started to dig a trench along the outside of the Mule Shoe works, making the breastworks as formidable on the outside as they were on the inside.

Charge after charge by the Confederates drove the Federals back into the Mule Shoe. Much of the fighting was hand to hand. The bayonet was used freely and often. The fighting, much of it during heavy rain, was most severe at a slight angle in the west side of the salient that became known as the Bloody Angle. The firing was so intense here that a twenty-two inch diameter oak tree was cut down, mostly by Federal rifle fire. The stump of this tree resides in the Smithsonian.

The battle continued until the early hours of May 13th, with neither side able to gain the advantage. This single example recorded by Charles Page in his History of the Fourteenth Regiment, Conn. Vol. Inf. illustrates how desperate and personal the fighting was. “One Fourteenth man had thrust his bayonet through the breast of a Confederate, the Confederate also having thrust his bayonet through the neck of the Fourteenth man, the two men stood dead against the breastworks, the guns of each serving to brace them and hold them in this standing position.”

The fighting finally wound down after midnight. Lee started to withdraw his men from the Mule Shoe to a second line of breastworks his engineers had been working hard to build while the fight raged. Members of the Fourteenth Connecticut were among the first Federals to go inside the Mule Shoe works the next morning. Charles Page described what they saw.

“As soon as it was light on the morning of the 13th a picket line (of Carrol’s Brigade) was advanced to find the enemy and as the detail went out they passed over the breastworks and ditch. This ditch was literally filled with dead Confederates, many being killed in battle while others were crushed by comrades falling upon them. The heavy rain through the night had filled the ditch which mingled with the blood from the wounded men gave the appearance of the ditch being filled with blood. There was no enemy in sight and but little firing on the picket line, the troops remaining here most of the day without active work. There was slight engagement to the left. The regiment passed this point and lay down for the night on a side hill.”

FICTION CONNECTION: In my novel An Eye for Glory, Sgt. Michael Palmer is a member of the first detail to enter the works on the morning of the 13th. The grisly carnage all around crushes him.

Spotsylvania – Laurel Hill

Hancock’s Second was the last corps of the Army of the Potomac to march out of the Wilderness. They served as the rear guard of the army until it was clear that Lee was concentrating his Confederates around Spotsylvania Courthouse. The distance was short, only five or six miles, but Lee’s cavalry delayed the Federal advance, and Warren’s Fifth Corps, which left their lines in the Wilderness during the night of May 6-7, didn’t reach Spotsylvania until the morning of May 8th.

Confederate infantry occupied a low ridge known as Laurel Hill and they had built a stout line of breastworks along its crest. Warren made several unsuccessful and costly assaults against these works. Later in the day Sedgwick’s Sixth Corps arrived and an evening assault by both corps also ended in defeat.

The morning of May 9th, Gen. John Sedgwick was shot in the head by a Rebel sharpshooter shortly after saying, “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” Command of the Sixth Corps passed to Gen. H. G. Wright. Hancock’s Second Corps finally arrived and was directed south across the Po River to threaten the western flank of Lee’s army near the Block House bridge. (Click here to view a Wikipedia map of the positions late in the day of May 9th.) Lee countered this move by sending a couple of division to secure the flank.

On May 10th, Warren wanted one more chance to assault the Laurel Hill works. Gibbon’s Division of the Second Corps was withdrawn from across the Po and added to the assaulting force. Before the men of the Fourteenth Connecticut went into battle, an officer from the Fifth Corps who happened to be passing near their line, was seriously wounded in the leg. The regimental surgeons set up a makeshift operating table and performed an emergency amputation right in full view of the men.

At this time the Fourteenth had eleven officers and about 200 enlisted men fit for duty. John Hirst, brother of Sgt. Ben Hirst (who should be familiar to regular readers of this blog), gave a detailed account of this fight in Charles Page’s History of the Fourteenth Regiment, Conn. Vol. Inf.: (Click here for a Wikipedia map of the assault.)

We were in line pretty early in the morning (May 10th) and expected some hot work before breakfast when we recrossed the Po. After marching around considerable our division (Gibbon’s) was ordered to go to the support of another corps (Warren’s Fifth) which was having a hard fight, and being driven back. At this time the woods were on fire in different places and the enemy were throwing shot and shell at a rapid rate right into our teeth as we advanced to the front, How we got through it all I don’t know, but we were kept right along until we came near their breastworks and had a hot and heavy time of it until our seventy rounds of ammunition were exhausted, when we were relieved and ordered to fall back about one hundred and fifty yards where we received more ammunition and then threw up a line of breastworks for our protection during the night. This breastwork business is getting to be a great thing in the army and it is the first thing we have to do as soon as we come to a halt. It don’t matter how far we advance, we find the rebels have thrown up breastworks to impede our progress, and if we gain an inch of ground from them, we put one up at once for its protection. Grant is sticking to them like a leech and I think we are getting the best of it.

 

The Wilderness – May 6, 1864

150 YEARS AGO TODAY: Generals Grant, Meade, and Hancock used the overnight hours of May 5-6 to devise and implement a strategy for the complete destruction of A. P. Hill’s Corps of Confederates that opposed the Federal Second Corps along the Orange Plank Road. In the hours before dawn, three of the Second Corps’ four infantry divisions, along with Gen. Getty’s Division from the Sixth Corps, were massed for a dawn assault. Gen. Wadsworth Division of the Fifth Corps was supposed to help out, and Gen. Burnside’s entire Ninth Corps was ordered to advance and join the assault on the right of the Second Corps. (Click here to view a Wikipedia map of this dawn assault in a new tab.)

Col. Carroll deployed his brigade (3rd Brig, 2nd Div, 2nd Corps) in two lines. The first was under the command of Col. Coons (14th Indiana) and the second line was under the command of Col. Ellis (14th Connecticut). At exactly 5:00 a.m.,Birney’s and Getty’s men leaped over their low breastworks and went forward into the dark grayness of the foggy morning. Fire from Hill’s lines became intense, but the Federals pressed on despite heavy losses. Several Confederate brigades broke for the rear, and it seemed the day might yield a great victory for the Army of the Potomac.

But as the map linked above shows, Gen. Longstreet was coming up the Orange Plank Road and arrived just in time to turn the tide for the Confederates. The Federal advance stalled near the Widow Tapp farm. Leading lines of Union Infantry, tired and bloodied, their ammunition exhausted, gave way to fresh brigades coming up behind and soon the men of the Fourteenth Connecticut found themselves in the front of the battle in a desperate fight for survival. Sgt. E. B. Tyler described the scene in Charles Page’s History of the Fourteenth Regiment, Conn. Vol. Inf.:

There is a feeling of uneasiness in the stoutest heart in facing danger that one cannot see and know. The mystery is doubly intensified by the sudden, silent dropping dead, or fatally wounded, of men on either hand that somehow does not seem to connect itself with the constant roar of musketry that is going on. The zip, zip of the bullets as they pass so closely to your head that you cannot help but think that had the rebel aim been varied never so little your career had been ended. (Click here for a Wikipedia map of Longstreet’s assault on the Second Corps.)

Longstreet threw his men into the fight and very quickly the lines of infantry in front of Carroll’s Brigade began to fall back. Major William Hincks of the Fourteenth Connecticut reported:

There was intense fighting for about half and hour and in this brief space officers and men were falling. Among those seriously wounded during these moments was Captain (Samuel) Fiske of Company G, who died a few days later (May 22nd). The men stood like heroes to the work until a regiment at the right gave way, producing something of a panic among several regiments of the brigade, about half of whom fell back to the (Brock) crossroads and were seen no more that morning.

Sgt. Charles Blatchley (Company I) added this detailed description of the regiment’s narrow escape: Our regiment was partly armed (Cos. A and B) with Sharp’s breech-loading rifles, and this fact came very near resulting in our capture. The deadly fire which we had kept up in front of us had held back the enemy at that point until they had driven our troops back on both sides of us leaving our little regiment sticking out like the toe of a horseshoe in the line. The dense woods prevented us from discovering this until the break reached our own flanks. I was awakened from my absorption in the business of saving my country by looking up, as I did occasionally, to see if the flag was still there, to find it gone. In another second I realized the fact that I was almost alone, and that the flag was rapidly making its way to the rear. I followed it.

It doesn’t take long to expend all your ammunition when you carry only forty, or at most sixty rounds and you’re firing two or three rounds per minute. Col. Carroll was ordered by Gen. Hancock to withdraw to the defensive line established along the Brock Road, and the men Fourteenth withdrew, sometimes stopping to fire from behind fallen timber, and sometimes hiding behind trees and fighting “Indian style” to delay the enemy until they had reached safety of the Federal breastworks.

But their day was not done. During the afternoon brush fires swept through the woods and thickets west of the Brock Road. Thick smoke shrouded the Federal breastworks and soon a portion of the works was in flames. At 4:15 p.m., lines of Confederates burst from the woods and rushed toward the Federal line, using the smoke and flames to cover the assault. Hancock’s men were ready and put up a stubborn fight, but the burning portion of the works had to be abandoned. The Rebels jumped over the barricade, through the flames in may cases, and a wild fight developed for possession of the breastworks.

(Click here for a Wikipedia map and note the position of Carroll’s Brigade on the Plank Road just east of the Brock Road.) The Confederates broke through the Union line just south of the Plank Road (in Mott’s Division), but the breakthrough was doomed as soon as the Federals organized a defense. The Rebels were fired on from right and left and a battery of artillery directly in front opened fire on them at point blank range. Their fate was sealed when the artillery fell silent and Col. Carroll’s Brigade rushed toward the breech. Maj. Hincks described the brigade’s second battle that day:

The shattered ranks were reformed and ammunition dealt out. Col. Carroll coming up spoke in warm terms of commendation of the behavior of the regiment. The men were then moved a short distance in the rear of the line of battle and told they would have twenty minutes for rest and to make coffee. Hardly five minutes had passed before the Confederates advanced and the Fourteenth was at once called into action and the fiercest fighting of the day occurred. The men of the Fourteenth charged with fixed bayonets and met the enemy and repelled the charge.

Most of the Confederates who had vaulted over the Federal breastworks were either killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. The Battle of the Wilderness was at an end. The survivors of the Fourteenth Connecticut moved to a position along the Brock Road north of the Orange Plank Road and settled in for the night. But all night long they would hear the tramp-tramp-tramp of their comrades in arms marching south toward another rendezvous with destiny—Spotsylvania Courthouse.