The Stone Wall
Private Johnson saw the stone wall 700 yards away, and didn't like what he saw. A long row of artillery backed up its impenetrable thickness; numerous skirmishers aligned along it. Nothing but an open field was between him and that wall.
It was sure death he was facing, despite General Pickett's urging that all would be well once it was taken. Victory at Gettysburg meant entry into the North's heartland, the general had vowed, a sure way to end the fighting.
All that's fine and dandy for someone who isn't charging that impregnable rock, Johnson thought, but what about us poor farmers who'll lose their lives in the process?
"All right, fellas," Sergeant Adams said. "Line up so's I know how many to count after we take the stone wall."
Counting to twenty, he nodded. "We're all accounted for," he said, proud knowing that no North Carolinians had deserted overnight, despite the mission they were to undertake.
"General Pickett said we're gonna take that position by noon, boys, so we can get us some rest over yonder." He pointed toward oaks near the Union position. "We can't let them Yankees have all that shade, now can we?"
"No, sir!" roared the Tar Heels, eager to prove their mettle. The sergeant's confidence reassured Johnson, and he thought of how proud his pappy would be when news of their victory arrived back home.
Suddenly, a volley of Union solid-shot ripped holes through their ranks.
Headless, Private Johnson wouldn't have to make that charge after all.