A Camp Of Skulkers At Cedar Mountain
There were various kinds and degrees of desertion: failure to report for the draft, bounty jumping, outright, desertion, and skulking and straggling to avoid battle.
George Alfred Townsend here describes a camp of skulkers hiding in the woods during the Battle of Cedar Mountain-or, as it is sometimes called, Slaughter Mountain-of August 9, 1862. This was one of the minor engagements preceding the Second Manassas campaign; partly because Banks and McDowell were unable to bring up their full forces, it was a victory for Jackson.
Commager - The Blue and The Gray
Beyond this the way was comparatively clear; but as I knew that other guards held the road further on, I passed to the right, and with the hope of finding a rill of water, went across some grass fields, keeping toward the low places. The fields were very still, and I heard only the subdued noises wafted from the road; but suddenly I found myself surrounded by men. They were lying in groups in the tall grass, and started up suddenly, like the clansmen of Roderick Dhu. At first I thought myself a prisoner, and these some cunning Confederates, who had lain in wait. But, to my surprise, they were Federal uniforms, and were simply skulkers from various regiments, who had been hiding here during the hours of battle. Some of these miserable wretches asked me the particulars of the fight, and when told of the defeat, muttered that they were not to be hood-winked and slaughtered.
"I was sick, anyway," said one fellow, "and felt like droppin' on the road."
"I didn't trust my colonel," said another; "he ain't no soldier."
"I'm tired of the war, anyhow," said a third, "and my time's up soon; so I shan't have my head blown off."
As I progressed, dozens of these men appeared; the fields were strewn with them; a true man would rather have been lying with the dead on the field of carnage, than here, among the craven and base. I came to a spring at last, and the stragglers surrounded it in levies. One of them gave me a cup to dip some of the crystal, and a prayerful feeling came over me as the cooling draught fell over my dry palate and parched throat Regaining the road, I encountered reinforcements coming rapidly out of Culpepper, and among them was the 9th New York. My friend, Lieutenant Draper, recognized me, and called out that he should see me on the morrow, if he was not killed meantime. Culpepper was filling with fugitives when I passed up the main street, and they were sprinkled along the sidewalks, gossiping with each other. The wounded were being carried into some of the dwellings, and when I reached the Virginia Hotel, many of them lay upon the porch. I placed my blanket on a clean place, threw myself down exhaustedly, and dropped to sleep directly.
Townsend, Campaigns of a Non-Combatant
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