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By William A. Canfield

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My very blood run cold with horror, and it was some minutes before I could pass them. Since then, I have become accustomed to such scenes, but I can never recall that sight without a feeling of dread. On the 15th, the battle at South Mountain was still raging. All was excitement. I had no thought of self now, but bent all my energies to the task of caring for the wounded. There were two others with me, and we tried in every possible way to alleviate their sufferings. We brought them water, washed their wounds, and spoke words of comfort.

The morning of the 7th, being the third day of the battle, was opened with a terrible roar of musketry all along the line of seven miles. It was impossible for our Commanding Chief to see but a small portion of the army, so a great deal depended on the Corps Commanders. I cannot describe the dreadful carnage of the Wilderness. The killed and wounded were scattered through that vast forest of underbrush, which, dry as tinder, and set on fire by the shells of the enemy, was burning fiercely. The two lines charged back and forward; we would gain a little ground in one place and lose in another.

On the 14th, at the battle of South Mountain, the enemy occupied the side and top of the mountain on both sides of the road. I will not attempt to describe the battle, for I did not participate in it; I was left by order of the surgeon in the hospital just established in the village. It was a large two story building, situated on the east side of the town. That night I was put in the second story. The room was filled with the wounded and dying. At about three o’clock in the morning, I was obliged to go down.

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A History of the Army Experience of William A. Canfield by William A. Canfield


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