deficient in quantity or number compared with the demand
In Jasper County, however, laughter was a scarce luxury that summer, but as the weeks of 1862 marched on toward fall, an incident occurred that appealed to the rough humor of the times and to the satisfaction of many who saw justice finally finding a niche for itself.
Another definition of "embellish" is "make more attractive, as by adding ornament or color"--this could also fit the example sentence because the sarcasm would be the color added to a news article that should normally be black and white, without the opinion of the writer. Also, the sarcasm would make the article more attractive to its readers, who were saddened by all the war reports in other papers.
Men all over the county roared at the story Ross Milton embellished with cutting sarcasm and published in his weekly paper, a story that caused Wortman to be demoted, even by his own lieutenants, from the role of a swaggering desperado to that of an inept and ridiculous figure, whining in his misery.
a small part or portion that remains after the main part no longer exists
Another definition of "remnant" that can give a vivid image of the losses of soldiers in war is "a piece of cloth left over after the rest has been used" (you can change the verb "used" to a more actively destructive word).
The papers suggested that perhaps it was Beauregard who, by managing to save the remnants of his army, had won something approaching a victory.
Notice how "faltered" and "fell" are both in the example sentence. Although the definition of "falter" suggests the armies are still standing, individual soldiers have fallen. And when soldiers fall and die, making armies falter, leaders fall in disgrace.
But work on the farm had to go on although armies faltered and leaders fell in disgrace.
an obscure and unimportant standing; not well known
"Obscurity" also means "the state of being indistinct due to lack of light"--this definition is hinted at in the example sentence in the use of the contrasting word "outshone" for a general once described as "brilliant".
The career of General McClellan was almost over, too; it would rise with another spurt later on, but that fall the papers blazed with the news that the President had relieved the general of his command, and the name that had outshone all others now plummeted into near-obscurity.
Fredericksburg had been undertaken with little probability of success, the papers claimed; nothing could have been expected under the shabby plans—if, indeed, they were plans—other than appalling slaughter.
Rumor was that this general, far back from the line of battle, had insisted that still more divisions be sent up the deadly hills, but that he was finally dissuaded by officers of lower rank and keener perception.
They could have seen those thousands scrambling up the innocent-looking wooded hills and falling like toy soldiers brushed over by a child’s hand; thousands of young men whose dreams and hopes were snuffed out in a second and who will be remembered only as simple soldiers who fell in a cruel, futile battle directed by men who can hardly be called less than murderers.
There was, however, no reason why Hig Phillips should have avoided the draft except that he was a lazy bachelor much favored by his mother, that he was fond of good food and a comfortable bed, and had been known to adhere to the opinion that fools could do the fighting while men of intelligence and property might take pleasure in the prospect of a long and easy life.
proceed somewhere despite the risk of possible dangers
Jenny was no longer allowed to drive alone to Hidalgo for the mail; no one ventured far away from home after nightfall, and as in the days of the Wortman trouble the year before, no one ever went to bed with the full confidence of security.
the mental attitude that something is believable and should be accepted as true
For a few seconds Jethro forgot the Federal Registrars and the fact that not only the word which preceded Eb, but his method of announcing himself gave credence to the suspicion that he was a deserter.
the property of relative size or extent (whether large or small)
Jethro closed his ears to it, but the tensions within him mounted, and the necessity of providing for Eb’s needs in strictest secrecy became a task that seemed to grow in magnitude as the days went by.
avoid and stay away from deliberately; stay clear of
In the few seconds that passed before he opened the envelope, he wished with all his heart that he had not meddled in the affairs of a country at war, that he had let Eb work out his own problems, that he, Jethro, were still a sheltered young boy who did the tasks his father set for him and shunned the idea that he dare think for himself.
a feeling of deep regret (usually for some misdeed)
This information you may relay to the young man in question, and I pray that the remorse and despair which he has known since the time of his desertion will bring his better self to the cause for which so many of his young compatriots have laid down their lives.