Gettysburg: July 1st 1863 8:00 AM
Jonathan Niles looked out over the field, down the road and onto the ridge beyond. The Yankee militia was strung out along the fence. Waiting. They had a few cannons, and only a 'couple o' hundred men. We can take em' thought Jonathan, fingering his rifle's stock.
General Heth had orders not to engage, but it was only a few militia. He called over one of his aides. The aide was a short man from South Carolina.
"Major, tell General Archer to attack, this won't take but a minute." Ordered General Heth.
The Major turned and galloped away. General Heth rode back along the column that was his division, all the way back to his artillery.
Jonathan was getting impatient, what was taking so long for General Heth to attack? We could take em' he thought again. Just then the Artillery opened up and a courier rode up to General Archer, Jonathan was to far away to hear what was being said, but he knew that General Heth was going to send the Brigade in!
"Battalion!" shouted theColonel.
The men echoed.
The Regiment snapped to attention.
Once again the men echoed.
In a ripple of motion every man in the regiment set his rifle against his shoulder.
The men echoed, they were ready to attack.
As one the Brigade stepped off. Down the road the Yankees were prepping their guns. Jonathan realized that they would have to form up in the open field, in range of the enemy guns. There was no room to do it here.
Jonathan's regiment was in the lead of the brigade, marching toward the enemy, A savage pleasure rose in his chest. They were finally attacking, and this could very well be the last battle in the war, in fact Jonathan was sure it was.
Soon the union artillery opened up, spewing shells and round shot at General Archer's brigade. The projectiles whistled over Jonathan's head, he still believed that this would be an easy fight.
A second volley from the union batteries mostly missed, whining away into the trees behind Jonathan, exploding far away, but one shell hit right in front of the first rank in the column.
The first rank had only just enough time to stare, horrified at the shell lying there, freezing in mid step, before it exploded. The men were ripped apart, throwing a shower of blood and horrifying chunks of man through the air.
Jonathan shied away from the blast, the smell of the burnt powder rolled over him, the scent of blood chocking him, but he still marched.
"At the double quick!" Shouted the mounted colonel, raising his sword.
"MARCH!" He yelled bring the sword down and spurring his horse. The Brigade began to double quick, almost but not quite running toward the enemy. The cannon fired again. Jonathan briefly saw a cruel black sphere before it roared down the line, the displaced air nearly spinning him around, a very near miss.
The colonel was not so lucky, a shell burst in front of his horse knocking it to the ground and sending him tumbling out of his saddle. He did not get up.
The men ran on, quickly climbing over the fence that lined the side of the road and forming a line in the field. The union militia, were not militia, that much Jonathan could instantly see from the uniforms, it was dismounted Calvary!
Jonathan was in the first rank, the line had not fully assembled yet when the union troops and the fence vanished in a wall of smoke and fire.
Jonathan felt a bullet fly not six inches from his face, saw the man next to him lose his face to a Minnie ball, as well as the back of his head, but Jonathan was untouched.
"Fire at will!" yelled an officer. Jonathan raised his rifle, aimed at the smoke ahead of him and fired. His view instantly dissolved into smoke and the rifle kicked his shoulder.
Jonathan heard the whiz of a bullet, then a wet thwack, then a blood-curdling scream, saw a dark shape fall, then some of the smoke lifted. Jonathan set his rifle's butt on the ground, and took a cartridge from his pouch, tore it and poured the powder into the muzzle, then placed the bullet in as well.
As he drew his rammer an artillery shell burst in the air near by, showing Jonathan with tiny hot fragments that tore at his face, leaving small scratches.
Jonathan kept loading, ramming the bullet home, most of the smoke was gone by the time he retuned the rammer to it's place, and Jonathan could aim clearly for his next shot.
Surveying the men in front of him, Jonathan selected his target, a young private, almost standing, hardly behind cover at all. By this time he had his new cap on the nipple of his musket.
Sighting as best he could Jonathan fired. The round blew up a cloud of sprinters as it struck near the youthful cavalryman's hand. The boy for the shooter, saw Jonathan standing fifty yards away. Then he raised his carbine and fired.
Jonathan heard the bullet strike, felt a wetness spread down his leg, he swore as he twisted his head to look. The bullet had torn his trouser's leg and the leg underneath was bleeding. But most of the wetness was from the hole in the bottom of his canteen, not the gash in his leg.
Jonathan was in pain, but he could handle it, he reached for another cartridge. As he reloaded the union Calvary fired another volley, and Jonathan saw several more men topple forward, blood staining the grass.
As Jonathan finished reloading he heard his Captain yell:
Jonathan ran forward with his company. The Yankees fired another volley, striking the man on Jonathan's right. He collapsed in a bloody heap screaming.
The fence was only fifty feet away.
A cannon roared and canister shot clipped the flank of the company, killing the 1st Lieutenant and two other men.
The fence was only twenty feet away.
Jonathan stopped aimed at the youth that shot him, and fired. The ball struck the boy in the chest, he fell backward out of sight, blood spraying in a glistening fountain, staining the fence a deeper brown color.
Without brothering to re-load Jonathan leapt over the fence and swung his rifle at a Yankee corporal. The corporal ducked and struck Jonathan in the chest with his carbine, knocking Jonathan back.
Jonathan landed on the fence and collapsed it, feeling the blood of the young private seep into his uniform. The corporal was still coming. Jonathan staggered to his feet. This time he stabbed at the union soldier. The bayonet pierced the corporal's stomach. The stood stuck on the bayonet for a second then, with blood dribbling out of his mouth fell backwards arms limp, he struck his head on the dead privates carbine and did not move again.
Jonathan staggered backward horrified at the carnage he dealt, the men he killed. Looking around he saw only a few of his company still standing. A bugle blew, signaling a retreat.
Jonathan turned and ran from the fence. Bullets flew past him, but he barely noticed them. He mind was stuck seeing the corporal's last moments, again and again stabbing he, felling the blood on his face, again and again seeing the wound in his flesh, again and again hearing the god-awfully sound of his flesh tearing as he fell off the bayonet. Again and Again.