By William A. Canfield

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Any soldier who was there could tell some pretty hard stories of that place. Our troubles there are too well known to every one at all conversant with the history of the war, to need any comment. A few days after Burnside got stuck in the mud, we received orders to pack up; this was good news for us; we felt sure we could get into no worse place than this mud-hole. We got aboard the cars at Falmouth; arrived at Aquia Creek about dark, then took the transportation boat and landed at Newport News.

On the 14th, at the battle of South Mountain, the enemy occupied the side and top of the mountain on both sides of the road. I will not attempt to describe the battle, for I did not participate in it; I was left by order of the surgeon in the hospital just established in the village. It was a large two story building, situated on the east side of the town. That night I was put in the second story. The room was filled with the wounded and dying. At about three o’clock in the morning, I was obliged to go down.

The moon was still shining in all its beauty and loveliness over the western hill-tops. As I turned the corner of the building a sight met my gaze which baffles description. There were about thirty dead bodies, mangled in every conceivable shape, covered with blood, with eyes wide open glaring at me. My very blood run cold with horror, and it was some minutes before I could pass them. Since then, I have become accustomed to such scenes, but I can never recall that sight without a feeling of dread.

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A History of the Army Experience of William A. Canfield by William A. Canfield


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