“The Daily and Nightly Exhibitions of Our Theatre of War”

From a January 8, 1863 letter by William Landon of the 14th Indiana, posted near Falmouth, Virginia:

“Sunrise—guard mountings, drills, reviews, inspections, parades, the ‘gas bag’ at headquarters swinging in mid air with basket suspended beneath, a human head or two visible above its rim, to catch a glimpse of ye rebel pickets and see that they still continue to wear grey [sic] uniforms and carry guns. Sunset—watch-fires innumerable blaze on every hill, their red glare reflecting on the dark pine forest and exposing the erect forms of the sentinels as silent and watchful they pace their beats., the ever-changing but always welcome face of fair Luna, a brigade of bright starts in attendance, her cold rays resting alike on the mound of earth, beneath which sleeps one who has fallen in the bloody strife and fills a hero’s grave, on the bivouac of the sleepless picket guard and on the numerous rude huts composing the camps of the ‘Right Grand Division,’ the flaming torch of our signal corps constantly dipping and waving to and fro. These compose, in part, the daily and nightly exhibitions of the ‘boards’ of this, our theatre of war. The loud, shrill blasts of bugles, the incessant roll of drums and scrams of fifes, the swelling music of full bands (a few are left) mingled with the piteous cries of thousands of half-starved, half-frozen mules, and the hars ‘caw, caw!” of the carrion crow as he circles over all, composes our orchestra. Admittance—free.”

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