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  • Stop 10 - Federal Line

    Sigel Takes Aim, a painting by Andy Thomas
    Sigel Takes Aim, a painting by Andy Thomas

    "That beautiful charge I shall never forget; with banners streaming, with drums beating, and our long line of blue coats advancing upon the double quick with their deadly bayonets gleaming in the sunlight, and every man and officer yelling at the top of his lungs"

    -Eugene B. Payne, 37th Illinois Infantry Regiment

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    A Perfect Storm of Shot and Shell

    Here two armies lined up for a second day of fighting after a long, bitterly cold night. Confederate artillerists set up their guns along the edge of these woods. The Union battle line was only 500 yards away - a five minute walk -across wide open fields.

    At 8:00 a.m. the Union cannon bellowed out their first volley, concentrating first on the Confederate artillery positions here. Confederate gunners fired back. The roar of big guns was heard more than 50 miles away. The Yankee barrage went on nonstop for two hours.

    It was the largest artillery shelling of the Civil War up the that point. The unrelenting bombardment forced the surviving Confederate cannoneers - by then low on ammunition - back to safety at Elkhorn Tavern.

    When the bugles sounded the charge at 10:00 a.m., standing here were 10,000 union men - an entire army visible from one place. During the Civil War such a sight was so rare that its terrifying grandeur seared itself into the memory of every man present.