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|Most Hallowed Ground (standard:drama, 3915 words)|
|Author: Peyton L. Hughes||Added: Dec 22 2000||Views/Reads: 2377/1361||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Set in the Civil War. A Union regiment is forced to protect a peach orchard from and overwhelming Confederate force, and for someone reason cannot receive ammunition or reinforcements.|
The sun lay heavy over the small ridge that overlooked the narrow, meandering dirt road leading into the small southern village of Beaufort. The ridge nestled amongst the rolling hills and forests of eastern Virginia. The sun had emerged from hiding not a half an hour before, for the morning had been plagued by a soft drizzle and the darkness brought on by slow moving gray clouds. The emergence of the sun now seemd to promise a fair weathered afternoon. As the mist from the dew and rain that had risen from the thick grass laying on the hillsides of the ridge mixed with the soft April breeze, the sound of rifle fire in the distance broke the apparent tranquil atmosphere. Upon the ridge, mounted on horses, were two Union generals; the first Major General George Franklin Winfield, a man of fifty-two, who for the past three months had been in command of the Union Army of Ohio, replacing the former commander who had not met the requirements set forth by the president in Washington; the second General William Arthur Blackshear, age forty-seven, in command of the Second Corps and whose men were at this point in the engagement in reserve south of the current position of the two men. They both sat peacefully atop their horses, surveying the current battlefiled lines and attempting to access and plan their next manuevers. General Winfield, a man known for his brash and often quickly thought, unplanned offensives, map in hand, eyepiece in place, squinted and sighed. His attacks that morning, slowed by the drizzle and early morning weather conditions, had failed for the most part, and his grievances with his under-officials were unmeasurable. The divisions to the north had been unable to break southern defenses along a small bridge crossing the small creek that slowly cut it's way through the declining slope that stretched east from the ridge upon which Winfileld stood. To the south, Union troops were held up by flanking cannon fire and were unable to make any attempt at forcing the Confederates back from their breastworks alongside the creek. In the center lay the Druse plantation, were the two oppsing sides had been bottled up, fighting all morning in the gardens and vistas that surrounded the Druse mansion. All of Winfield's corps were involved in the fighting, except for Blackshear's men, who had arrived not an hour before, and had been held in reserve. Taking a deep breath and raising his brow, Winfield, glanced at Blackshear for a second, garnering his attention. "General, I feel it be most prudent to occupy this small wooded selection here, about a mile's walk from where we stand. It will be overrun by Rebs any secodn now I feel, and if they can gain this parcel, they will be able to flank Bradley's boys, and my entire right line will disintegrate. Quickly send your faster regiments there now, set up your defenses, and protect your position at all costs." With those words Blackshear reared his horse, and descended the ridge and across the road to the makeshift tent where his three division leaders were discussing "strategy". After the formal military salutes, the general quickly began his search for the regiment closest to the area Winfield had described. One divison leader, an old, gray man, tired from war and the absence of his wife at home, quickly brought up the name of Lynch, commander of the lone regiment closest to the creek. Blackshear sent out a privte to inform Lynch to move his men forward and to protect the land they cover at all costs. Mid-way through the afternoon, the small Union regiment under command of Colonel Chandler Mormon Lynch reached the outskirts of a sheltered, dense April blooming peach orchard. The trees were beautifully decorated with vivid red rose petals that swayed and danced in the breeze. The trees lay in neat, planned rows, each tree about three yards from the other, and resting along the ground was a freshly grown underbrush of dark thickets and saplings that had grown in the absence of care for the orchard. The road on which the Union regiment traveled met the small dirt pike that ran parallel with the peach orchard and ran north to the Druse mansion and south to Beaufort. Dust and dirt, caught in the low breezes of the afternoon, was tossed and spun about beneath the boots of the advancing Union soldiers, giving the appearance of a fastly moving dustball. Lynch halted his men outside the orchard, sending three pickets into the knee high grass that surrounded the orchard. They entered the dense orchard, and within minutes returned to the colonel, reporting the apparent absence of Confederate troops. Click here to read the rest of this story (314 more lines)
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