Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XXXV: Before the Battle >> Page 297

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Page 297

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN297
report that Richardson is marching down upon us, hardly two miles
off, and we have but four hundred foot soldiers left, and less than
two hundred horse."
"The miserable dastards! But thick grass is easier cut than thin.
We shall fight, nevertheless. He who shows best front, and holds on
the longest, is sure to win!"
He had risen, looking wild and haggard, and, for a moment,
seemed to hesitate; then he plunged his head into a bucket of cold
water, gave it several immersions, and rose from it, shaking it as a
water-dog after swimming. He hurriedly dressed himself in his
grand uniform, strapped on sword and sash, and his horse, by Cun-
ningham's orders, was already in harness at the door. Catching up
his holsters, he was soon in saddle, and proceeding as coolly and
promptly to put the troops in order of battle, as if nothing had hap-
pened to disturb his equanimity or lessen his confidence in his strength
and fortunes.
Cunningham, who acted as his chief Lieutenant, and had command
of his cavalry, had already set the men in order according to previous
arrangements, and the two rode forth together to the front. There
was a savage buoyancy about Browne, glaring in his eyes, and showing
itself in voice and action, as if his spirit rose in due degree with the
diminished chances in his hands.
"Now shall you see, this day," said he, "what may be done by
men, however few, whose hearts have the proper pluck, and whom a
proper pluck conducts to action. Numbers do not constitute an army.
It is in the will of the Captain who commands, and the readiness of
those he leads to surrender themselves blindly to the direction of
that Captain's will. I shall set my teeth firmly, and those who see
will set theirs, unconsciously, and go forward as I show them. These
raw militiamen of Richardson will hardly stand a good charge of
your cavalry. We shall need to rely upon them. We must use our
foot soldiers as skirmishers. All the passes have been occupied?"
"All but the rear. Fletchall has drawn off every man from that
quarter."
"We shall hardly be assailed in that direction."
"I don't know that! There was a report last evening of a company
of rebel rangers coming up from below."
"Well, we must look sharp about us."