The Confederates advanced into the trees, skirmishing with their enemies as they drove them out. Captain Scruggs, who fell wounded, was quickly replaced by Captain Robbins. Realizing they were at an advantage, the Rebels shot down scores of Yankees while concealing themselves in the cover of trees, fighting savagely despite their extreme hunger and fatigue. Other regiments of their brigade, the Texans, South Carolinians, and Georgians, were out in the open on their left, and suffered because of it. As dawn began to lighten the sky, Hiram noticed a Union general riding around the field on a large white horse.
“Who do you reckon that is?” he asked, to no one in particular.
Smoke billowed across the field, but the white horse still remained visible.
“That there’s Fightin’ Joe Hooker,” Lieutenant King informed him.
“He’s makin’ himself an easy target, ain’t he?” The lieutenant laughed at the Union general’s absurdity.
Yankee artillery fired into General Hood’s right flank and rear, causing the Rebels to fall back. The ground was scattered with bodies, most of which were clad in blue. Many Confederate soldiers had exhausted their ammunition when Lieutenant Stewart informed them they had been fighting for nearly three hours straight. Fearing the enemy would chase after them, they quickly re-formed, but discovered their haste was unnecessary, as the Yankees failed to respond. The Alabamians took much-needed time to replenish their ammunition and catch their breath.
General Hood directed his men back to the church to retire.
Suddenly, a shell flew by, blowing off the top of Lieutenant King’s head. The body dropped limply into a pool of blood and brain matter. Bud and Hiram looked at each other, dazed, their faces blackened by gunpowder. They turned and walked away, putting the horrific sight behind them, both knowing there was nothing they could do for the man.
Finally, Hiram said, “I won’t ever git used to seein’ that.”
“I already am,” Bud remarked indifferently. “I know it’s a terrible thing to say, but after a while, those boys jist look like dead animal carcasses to me.”
Hiram glared at him for a moment, shocked by his callousness.