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Pocket IslandA Story of Country Life in New England by Munn, Charles Clark, 1848-1917

Pocket IslandA Story of Country Life in New England by Munn, Charles Clark, 1848-1917

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Published by: Gutenberg.org on Mar 29, 2008
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When the fierce heat of E Company's second summer in an almost tropical climate was fast depleting their
ranks, Manson wrote to Liddy:

"Disease among us is more dangerous than rebel bullets. When I was a boy I used to feel that the long, hot
hours in hay fields, or the bitter cold ones in the snow-buried woods, were severe hardships, but now I thank
God for them! If I survive the exposure here it will be because of the splendid health and strength that came to

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Pocket Island, by Charles Clark Munn.



me from those days on the farm. Sometimes when the miserable food I have to eat, or the vile water I must
drink, is at its worst, I think of what mother used to cook, and how sweet the water in dear old Ragged Brook
used to taste on a hot summer day, and you cannot imagine what I would give for a chance to thrust my face
into that cool stream, where it was leaping over a mossy ledge, and drink my fill.133

"I have passed through some ghastly and sickening experiences, too horrible to relate to you, and at times I am
so depressed that I lose all hope, and then again I feel that I shall pull through all right. One thing I want you
to do, and that is, forget the foolish promise I exacted from you that day on Blue Hill. Some things have
occurred that have convinced me it was doing you a cruel injustice to ask such a promise."

It was the last letter Liddy ever received from her soldier boy, and when she read it it filled her with a new and
uncanny dread.

During those first two years of service, E Company made heroic history. They took part in eleven hard-fought
battles, besides many skirmishes, and not a man flinched or shirked a duty! They were all hardy sons of old
New England, who, like their forefathers of '76, fought for home and liberty; for freedom and love of country.
Such, and such only, are true heroes!

Of the battles in which they took part, now famous in history, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Tracy City,
Resaca, Peach Creek and Atlanta were the most severe, though many others were as sanguinary. Their losses
in all these engagements were sixteen officers, killed or wounded in battle, and twenty-three privates, or total
of thirty-nine.134 In addition, eight were taken prisoners, most of whom died in rebel prison pens; and
thirty-six others died of disease or were disabled by it. Out of the one hundred hardy men who left Southton,
only nineteen returned unharmed at the close of the war!—a record for brave service that was not
surpassed, and one that should weave a laurel wreath around every name!

Manson had passed through eight battles unharmed and dread disease had failed to touch his splendid
strength; but at the battle of Peach Creek, and under a blazing July sun he fell. His regiment had been ordered
to charge a hill, from the top of which a perfect storm of rebel bullets were pouring upon them, and with
hands gripping his gun and teeth fiercely set, he with the rest faced the almost certain death as they charged up
the hill! When half way up, and just as he had leaped a low stone wall, two red-hot irons seemed to pierce
him, and with a bullet through one leg, and a shattered arm he went down, and leaving him there, the storm of
battle swept on!

Conscious still, and believing his end had come, he yet remembered that wall, and faint and bleeding he
crawled back to it. He could hear the roar of guns, and the groans of dying men about him, and in that awful
moment, with death135 near, one thought alone came, and that was to shelter himself between the rocks, so
that mad horses and frenzied men might not trample upon his face. He could see near by a rock close to the
wall, and like some wild animal that had received its death wound, yet crawls into a thicket to die, so he crept
into this shelter and lay there moaning.

Hour after hour passed in agony, while his life blood ebbed away. He could not stop it; he did not try. Since
death was near and he felt that it must come, the sooner it was over the better. Men and horses swept by and
heeded him not! The fierce sun beat upon him, but no one came to succor! His tongue grew parched and a
terrible thirst tortured him; but there was no water. Only the hard stones upon which his head was pillowed,
the dry earth that drank his blood, and the merciless sun blazing above. He could hear the dying men about
him groaning and cursing God in their agony, and the roar of cannon that made the earth tremble beneath him.

Then the sounds of conflict and carnage passed away, and left only the moans of the wounded near him to
echo his own. At last night came and threw her dark mantle over that scene of death and despair, and later the
moon rose and136 shed her pale light upon it. Those soft beams of silvery white were angels of mercy, for

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Pocket Island, by Charles Clark Munn.



they carried that dying boy's heart away to the hills of old New England, and to where a rippling brook danced
like silver coin beneath them, and a fair girl's face and tender blue eyes smiled upon him. Then the picture
faded and he knew no more.


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