Monday, August 25, 2014

the last book I ever read (Shelby Foote's The Civil War, Volume One, excerpt fourteen)

from The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume One: Fort Sumter to Perryville by Shelby Foote:

It was not going to be easy; it might even be impossible; but as a last chance Lee thought it worth a try. In any case, if the bombardment failed in its purpose, the infantry need not advance. Already they were taking punishment from the siege guns on the brow of the hill as they filed through the wooded and swampy lowlands to get in position for the jump-off. The heavy-caliber fire was deliberate and deadly: as Harvey Hill could testify. While his troops were forming under a rain of metal and splintered branches, the North Carolinian sat at a camp table on the exposed side of a large tree, drafting orders for the attack. When one of his officers urged him at least to put the trunk between him and the roaring guns: “Don’t worry about me,” Hill said. “Look after the men. I am not going to be killed until my time comes.” With that, a shell crashed into the earth alongside him, the concussion lifting the predestinarian from his chair and rolling him over and over on the ground. Hill got up, shook the dirt from his coat, the breast of which had been torn by a splinter of iron, and resumed his seat—on the far side of the tree. This and what followed were perhaps the basis for his later statement that, with Confederate infantry and Yankee artillery, he believed he could whip any army in the world.

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