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William P. Robertson: Readings

Second Bull Run Battle Scene

(William P. Robertson)
November 12, 2010
William P. Robertson & David Rimer

This passage comes from Chapter 16 of The Bucktails: Perils on the Peninsula, the third novel in the Bucktail series. In it, the listener is transported into the thick of the action the First Pennsylvania Rifles experienced during the Second Battle of Bull Run.  Sensory details greatly heighten this realistic account of Civil War combat.

The Bucktails continued up the road until a small village could be seen in the distance. Here, Colonel McNeil ordered his men into battle formation, and the six companies moved in force toward a house just visible through the brush to the left of the pike.

"The Rebs can't be far off now," grunted Jude, peering warily into the undergrowth.

"They're so close I kin smell 'em," whispered Zack.

The riflemen took only a few more steps when the thunderous report of a hidden Reb battery shook the woods to the right. At the same instant, concealed gray sharpshooters let loose a volley from the thicket south of the road. As Keener dove for cover behind a splintered fence, he watched an exploding cannon shell catch Enos Conklin in its fury and blow his uniform into bloody rags. Conklin tumbled lifeless to the ground with surprise still caught on his face. A second volley of Reb bullets tore through the ranks before Joe remembered the Sharps clutched tightly in his huge paws.

Joe heard the Swift brothers' rifles spit a defiant reply before he, too, took aim at the Reb musket flashes winking from the thicket. Now, he saw that the enemy occupied the distant house, as well. . .