The day had started spectacularly. The regiment marched in nice straight lines. Shoulder to shoulder strode young men eager for a fight. Shakos, uniforms, cross-belts and muskets gleamed in the sun. Sounds of battle grew closer; lips suddenly became very dry, throats closed.
The order came to deploy into line. Drums and bugles marked the cadence. A slow advance with arms at the ready. An officer screamed "Volley Fire!" Then the repeat of "FIRE!" Reach into the pouch, bite off the oiled paper and prime the pan. Pour the rest of the powder and ball down the musket barrel and ram it home. Take aim and fire again. Can't see because of all this blasted gun-smoke.
Men screaming, crashing cannon, smell of cordite, urine and blood assaults all senses. What lunacy is this, standing here like a cow for slaughter? "Keep firing!" Mates to the right and left both scream at the same time falling dead. He is sprayed with ichor, blood and gore. Napoleon is a pompous imbecile that doesn't care if his men live or die! "Keep firing! Close ranks! Make those shots count!"
Never again, if I get out of here, never again! After an interminable age it is over. The silence is overwhelming, his ears ring loudly in the cacophonies' pause. With trembling fingers he sweeps the Shako from his head and lets it fall. He absently notes the Shako has a bullet hole and is missing a piece of chin scale. There is a burning, stinging sensation along his left rib, but it is lost in the flood of dissipating adrenaline.
"Form Up! Form UP!" He grabs his Shako, musket and takes his place in line. Merde!