|A Wilderness of Fire
BRUSH FIRES added to the horror of the Wilderness fighting. Ignited by muzzle blasts and fueled by dead leaves and twigs, fires swept through the dry woods, obscuring soldiers' vision and filling their lungs with suffocating smoke. "'Two hundred thousand men, inspired with the - desperation of demons," wrote one soldier, "were fighting in a wilderness of fire."
Hundreds of wounded men, unable to escape the devouring flames, suffered an agonizing death. Others, unwilling to endure such a fate, chose instead to take" their own lives. Union artilleryman Frank Wilkeson saw a man with two broken legs lying between the lines. Next to him lay a loaded rifle. "I know he meant to kill himself in case of fire," wrote Wilkeson, "knew it as surely as though I could read his thoughts."
Union soldiers carry a wounded comrade from the battlefield on a makeshift stretcher, while less fortunate men crawl to escape the
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