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A BATTLE SCENE

Did you ever ccc a battery take po»i tion?

It hasn't the thrill of a cavalry charge, nor the grimness of a line of bayonets moving slowly and determinedly on, but there is a peonliar excitement about it that makes old veterans rite m their saddles and cheer,

We have been fighting at the edge of the woods. Every cartridge-box hai been emptied onoe or more, and one fourth of the brigade has melted away m dead and wounded and missing. Sot a cheer is heard In the whole brigade. We know that we are being driven foot by foot, and that when we break once more the line will go to pieces, and the enemy will poor down the gap. Here comes help 1 Down the crowded highway gallops a battery withdrawn from eonae other position to save ours, The field fence is scattered while you oould oount thirty, and the guns rash for the hills behind us. Over dry ditches where a farmer would not drive a waggon, through clumps of bushes, over logs a foot thick, every horse on the gallop, every rider lashing his team and yelling, the sight behind us making us forget the foe m front. The guns jump two feet high as the heavy wheels strike rock or fog, but not a horse slackens his pace, not a cannoneer lobos bis seat. Six guns, sir eaiesops, sixty horseß, eighty men, race for the brow pf the hill as if he who should reach it first would be knighted.

A moment ago the battery was a confused mob. We look again, and six guns are m position, the detached horses hurrying away, the ammunition chests open, and along our line runs the command : —

' Give them one more volley and fall baok to tupport the guns.' We have scarcely obeyed when boom 1 boom I opens the battery, and jeta of fire jump down and scorch the green trees under which we fought and disappeared. The shattered old brigade has a chance to breathe for the first time m three hours, 9B we form a line and lie down. What grim, cool fellows those cannoneers are. Every man is a perfeot machine. Bullets splash dust m their faces, but they do not winoe. Bullets eiog over and around ; they do not dodge. There goes one to the esrtb, shot through the head aa he sponged his gun. That machinery loses jost'one beat, misses just one cog m the wheels, and then works away again as before.

Every gun is ueing short-fuse gbell. The ground shakes and trembles, the roar abuts out all sounds from a line three miles long, and the shells go shrieking into the swamp to out trees off, to mow great gap* m the bushes, to hunt out and shatter and mangle men until their oorpsea pannot be recognised as human, Tou would think a tornado was howling through the forest followed by billows of fire, and yet men live through it, aye, press forward to capture the battery. We can hear shouts as they form the rush. Now the shells are charged for grape and o&nliter, and guns are filed so fast that all reports blend Into one mighty roar. The shriek of • shell Is the wickedest thing m war, bat nothing makes the flash crawl like the demoniacal singing, whistling grape shot and the serpentlike hiulog of canister.

lien's legi and heads ate torn from bodies, and bodies oat m two; A roand •hut or shell takes tiro men oat of the ranks as it oraahes through. Grape and canister mow a swathe and pile the dead od top of eaoh other,

Through the smoke we see a swarm of men. It Is not a battle line, but a mob of men desperate enough to bathe their bayonets In the flame of the guns The guns leap from the ground almost as they are depresied on the foe, and shrleka and screams and shoots blend into ono awful and steady ory. Twenty men out of the battery are down, and the firlog is Interrupted. The foe aeoept it as a sign of wavering, and come rushing on. They are not t«n feet away when the guns give .them the last shot. That dlsoharge pioks living men off their feet and throws them into the swamp, a bUokened, bloody mais.

Up now, at the enemy are among the gam There li a atlenoe of ten aeoonda, and then the #*»h and roar of more than three thousand musketa, and a rush for* ward with bayonets. For what ? Neither on the right nor the left nor ia front of u« ia a living foe ? There are corpses around di which have been etrack by three, fonr, and blx bullet*, and nowhere on this aore of ground 1b a wounded mm. The wheels of the guns cannot move nntil the blockade of thread Ib removed. Men oannottfiaßi from oifison to gan without ollmbin£vrer rows of dead. Ever gun and wheel Is smeared with blood j every foot of grass haa its horrible stain. Historians write of the glory of war. Burial parties aaw murder where historians saw glory. —" Ohtoago Tribune."

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18890415.2.27

Bibliographic details

A BATTLE SCENE, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2106, 15 April 1889

Word Count
870

A BATTLE SCENE Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2106, 15 April 1889

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