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Most Hallowed Ground (standard:drama, 3915 words)
Author: Peyton L. HughesAdded: Dec 22 2000Views/Reads: 3388/2126Story 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. 

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