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Account by a Landsteader war correspondent of his climb up Spy Hill during the battle:

"Streams of wounded obstructed the path. Men were staggering along alone, or supported by comrades, or crawling on hands and knees, or carried on stretchers. Corpses lay here and there. The splinters and fragments of the shell had torn and mutilated. I passed about two hundred while I was climbing up.

"There was, moreover, a small but steady leakage of unwounded men. Some of these cursed and swore. Others were utterly exhausted and fell on the hillside in stupor. Others again seemed drunk, though they had had no liquor. Scores were sleeping heavily. Fighting was still proceeding, and stray bullets struck all over the ground, while the shell guns scourged the flanks of the hill and the sheltering infantry at regular intervals of a minute.

"One thing was clear – unless good and efficient cover could be made, and unless guns could be dragged to the summit of the hill to match the Mippite artillery, the infantry could not, perhaps would not, endure. The human machine will not stand certain strains for long."


o—o—o

"We can't reach the Mippite sharpshooters on the ledge! Our trenches are too far from the eastern crest – most of the sharpshooters are hidden from our view!"

"I know. Send some of your men forward to dig a new trench."

Machine-rifle fire sweeping the entire hill, enfilading the trenches, clearing the crest of living men. Sharpshooters killing whatever Landsteaders remained on the crest who weren't killed by the machine-rifle fire.

"I lost every man I sent."

"I'm sorry. I'll send the main trench to attack the sharpshooters."

"You'll send—? Blast it, no, Fairview! Don't lead the attack yourself!"

Attack. Clash. Struggle. Shouts. Blood. Retreat.

"Well, that didn't work."

"Blast it, Fairview, we've already lost one general! We can't afford to lose you too!"

"I'm short of officers."

Silence.

"Yes, half of mine are dead too."

"Keep yourself safe, Rook."

"Do I have a choice?"

Shrapnel, sending a shower of bullets onto the entire hill. Pom-pom shells screaming onto the survivors.

"We need water – the wounded are parched!"

"The water-bearers can't reach us; nor the stretcher-bearers."

"The trenches are beginning to overflow with the dead. And in this heat—"

"Putrefaction. I know. We'll just have to wait for a let-up in the crossfire."

"Wait for a miracle, you mean?"

Screams from the shells. Screams from the men. Hard sobbing. Moans. Prayers. Yipping. Yipping?

"Doyle, how the bloody blades did that spaniel get here?"

"She followed me up the hill, Colonel, honest. No need to get testy. . . ."

Rotting bodies. Sweat. The stink from a young soldier who could not control his bladder. Fresh blood.

"Where the fuck are the reinforcements?"

"Watch your language around the men, Rook."

"Sorry, sorry. But where are they? You asked the Commander-in-Chief for more men two hours ago. And why doesn't he do anything else to help us? He could attack their guns—"

"His artillery has been trying to reach their artillery all morning; their shells have passed over us. Evidently the Commander-in-Chief's artillerymen can't see the Mippite guns. Remember, our hill is in the way."

"Well, then, the Commander-in-Chief could create a diversion. Bloody blades, man, he has twenty thousand soldiers under his command. Why doesn't he do something?"

"He may not have received my message yet. You know what army communications are like."

"Have you received any messages back from him?"

"I'm not sure. I haven't had time to check with the signalmen— Oh, sweet blood, not again."

Attack from the sharpshooters. Try to push the Mippites back. They creep forward, taking five yards, ten yards, forty yards, sixty . . . They're within twenty yards now of our trenches.

"I don't care if you want to be with your men! You're a general, Fairview! We need you behind the General's rock . . . sir."

Silence.

"Will you keep your head down, Rook?"

"Believe me, Fairview, the only way I could keep my head any lower would be to burrow into the rock. Where are those bloody reinforcements?"