Read the passage and write a one-paragraph response of at least three to five sentences. A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man's hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees. Some loose boards laid upon the sleepers supporting the metals of the railway supplied a footing for him and his executioners-two private soldiers of the Federal army, directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a deputy sheriff. At a short remove upon the same temporary platform was an officer in the uniform of his rank, armed. He was a captain. A sentinel at each end of the bridge stood with his rifle in the position known as "support," that is to say, vertical in front of the left shoulder, the hammer resting on the forearm thrown straight across the chest-a formal and unnatural position, enforcing an erect carriage of the body. It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the center of the bridge; they merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it. Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was lost to view. Doubtless there was an outpost farther along. The other bank of the stream was open ground-a gentle acclivity topped with a stockade of vertical tree trunks, loopholed for rifles, with a single embrasure through which protruded the muzzle of a brass cannon commanding the bridge. Midway of the slope between the bridge and fort were the spectators-a single company of infantry in line, at "parade rest," the butts of the rifles on the ground, the barrels inclining slightly backward against the right shoulder, the hands crossed upon the stock. A lieutenant stood at the right of the line, the point of his sword upon the ground, his left hand resting upon his right. Excepting the group of four at the center of the bridge, not a man moved. The company faced the bridge, staring stonily, motionless. The sentinels, facing the banks of the stream, might have been statues to adorn the bridge. The captain stood with folded arms, silent, observing the work of his subordinates, but making no sign. Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference. What has probably happened before this passage begins? Be sure to support your response with at least two examples from the text.
The man was certainly a member of the confederate army who unfortunately happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. You see, he and post were sleeping in their camp when Union soldiers -led by Colonel Abel D. Streight- ambushed their encampment in the middle of night. Every rebel soldier either fled or was killed on sight -everyone besides this unfortunate soul. He had been slow to wake up and had been surrounded by Union soldiers before it was too late. Though this southerner thought he was brave and would hold out from giving the Yankees information, he ultimately cracked under pressure and told them everything he knew. Upon learning this, Colonel Streight immediately ordered his execution. As the man recollects on his last moments in life he is filled with shame, despair, and self-loathing. Nobody, not even the enemy, likes a snitch. Supported reasons for this response: 1.) The excerpt mentions the Federal Army. The Federal Army is the northern army of the Civil War, hence the Civil War setting. 2.) The excerpt also places the story in Alabama. Colonel Streight was placed in charge of Union troops in Alabama in ca. 1862.
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