By Michael Blake
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Extra resources for Dances With Wolves: In Honor of the 20th Anniversary of the Academy Award-Winning Film
They couldn’t hit him. He looked down the line he had just passed and saw that the Confederates were milling about behind the wall in a state of disbelief. Then he was aware once more of his foot, throbbing like some hideous pump deep in his boot. His brothers in arms were rising en masse behind the wall. The men he had already passed were caught with their pants down and he could see them frantically reloading as he sped by. But ahead of him, down along the unprobed flank, he could see riflemen coming to their feet, the guns settling in the crooks of their shoulders.
For the time being he would invent his duties. Then he set to work, starting first with the garbage choking the banks of the little stream. There was a whole antelope and part of another. And then, without knowing, he hit close to the truth. Maybe they were starving. He worked straight through noon, stripped down to his long undershirt, a seedy pair of pants, and a set of old boots, sifting methodically through the garbage about the river. There were more carcasses sunk in the stream itself, and his stomach churned queasily as he dragged the oozing animal bodies from the fetid mud of the shallow water.
In twenty-seven years of soldiering he had witnessed many acts of bravery, but nothing came close to the display he had witnessed that afternoon. When Dunbar came to, the general was kneeling at his side with the fervency of a father at the side of a fallen son. Tears tumbled into his graying beard. He said it several times.