“Do you think, Colonel, that your brave Coulter would like to put one of his guns in here?” the general asked.
He was apparently not altogether serious; it certainly did not seem a place where any artillerist, however brave, would like to put a gun. The colonel thought that possibly h...
<p>“Do you think, Colonel, that your brave Coulter would like to put one of his guns in here?” the general asked.</p>
<p>He was apparently not altogether serious; it certainly did not seem a place where any artillerist, however brave, would like to put a gun. The colonel thought that possibly his division commander meant good-humoredly to intimate that in a recent conversation between them Captain Coulter’s courage had been too highly extolled.</p>
<p>“General,” he replied warmly, “Coulter would like to put a gun anywhere within reach of those people,” with a motion of his hand in the direction of the enemy.</p>
<p>“It is the only place,” said the general. He was serious, then.</p>
<p>The place was a depression, a “notch,” in the sharp crest of a hill. It was a pass, and through it ran a turnpike, which reaching this highest point in its course by a sinuous ascent through a thin forest made a similar, though less steep, descent toward the enemy. For a mile to the left and a mile to the right, the ridge, though occupied by Federal infantry lying close behind the sharp crest and appearing as if held in place by atmospheric pressure, was inaccessible to artillery. There was no place but the bottom of the notch, and that was barely wide enough for the roadbed. From the Confederate side this point was commanded by two batteries posted on a slightly lower elevation beyond a creek, and a half-mile away. All the guns but one were masked by the trees of an orchard; that one – it seemed a bit of impudence – was on an open lawn directly in front of a rather grandiose building, the planter’s dwelling. The gun was safe enough in its exposure – but only because the Federal infantry had been forbidden to fire. Coulter’s Notch – it came to be called so – was not, that pleasant summer afternoon, a place where one would “like to put a gun.”</p>
<p>Three or four dead horses lay there sprawling in the road, three or four dead men in a trim row at one side of it, and a little back, down the hill. All but one were cavalrymen belonging to the Federal advance. One was a quartermaster. The general commanding the division and the colonel commanding the brigade, with their staffs and escorts, had ridden into the notch to have a look at the enemy’s guns – which had straightway obscured themselves in towering clouds of smoke. It was hardly...