There was nothing quite like the silence that seems to close around us in the minutes before a battle.

I loosened the top button on my gray wool uniform and wiped the sweat that was beading on my forehead as the sun beat down, bringing more to the surface of my skin almost before I had wiped it away.

I gripped the barrel of my Springfield until the knuckles on my hand turned white. I always thought I knew what to expect from the battle I knew was coming but each time I fight, each time I watch my friends fall from Yankee lead, it tore open a fresh wound, and I was shocked. It just goes to show you, no matter how bad things are they can always get worse.

I look at the man standing beside me. "Good luck, Calvin," I said. "Stay safe."

"And you."

I dropped to my knees and fired my gun at the looming figures in blue uniforms moving towards us.

I stood up, biting the top off my cartridge and loading it into my rifle. I rushed to pull the ramrod out and in my hurry let it fall to the ground. I swore and bent down to retrieve it.

I got back up, all too aware of how big of a target I was to the advancing Union troops while on my feet and hurried to finish the last steps to loading my gun.