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Title: Campaigns of a Non-Combatant, - and His Romaunt Abroad During the War
Author: Townsend, George Alfred, 1841-1914
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Campaigns of a Non-Combatant, - and His Romaunt Abroad During the War" ***

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CAMPAIGNS

OF

A NON-COMBATANT,

AND HIS

ROMAUNT ABROAD DURING THE WAR.

BY
GEO. ALFRED TOWNSEND.


NEW YORK:
BLELOCK & COMPANY,
19 BEEKMAN STREET,
1866.



Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1866, by

GEORGE ALFRED TOWNSEND,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.

SCRYMGEOUR, WHITCOMB & CO.,

Stereotypers,

15 WATER STREET, BOSTON.


+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+
|Transcriber's note: Inconsistency in hyphenation in this etext is as in|
|the original book.                                                     |
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------+


TO

"Miles O'Reilly,"

Who saw the war as vividly as he sang it; and whose aims for the peace
that has ensued, are even nobler than the noble influence he exerted
during the struggle, these chapters of travel are inscribed by his
friend and colleague.



PREFACE.


In the early part of 1863, while I was resident in London,--the first of
the War Correspondents to go abroad,--I wrote, at the request of Mr.
George Smith, publisher of the Cornhill Magazine, a series of chapters
upon the Rebellion, thus introduced:--

     "Few wars have been so well chronicled, as that now desolating
     America. Its official narratives have been copious; the great
     newspapers of the land have been represented in all its campaigns;
     private enterprise has classified and illustrated its several
     events, and delegates of foreign countries have been allowed to
     mingle freely with its soldiery, and to observe and describe its
     battles. The pen and the camera have accompanied its bayonets, and
     there has not probably been any skirmish, however insignificant,
     but a score of zealous scribes have remarked and recorded it.

     "I have employed some leisure hours afforded me in Europe, to
     detail those parts of the struggle which I witnessed in a civil
     capacity. The Sketches which follow are entirely personal, and
     dwell less upon routine incidents, plans, and statistics, than upon
     those lighter phases of war which fall beneath the dignity of
     severe history and are seldom related. I have endeavored to
     reproduce not only the adventures, but the impressions of a
     novitiate, and I have described not merely the army and its
     operations, but the country invaded, and the people who inhabit it.

     "The most that I have hoped to do, is so to simplify a campaign
     that the reader may realize it as if he had beheld it, travelling
     at will, as I did, and with no greater interest than to see how
     fields were fought and won."

To those chapters, I have added in this collection, some estimates of
American life in Europe, and some European estimates of American life;
with my ultimate experiences in the War after my return to my own
country. I cannot hope that they will be received with the same favor,
either here or abroad, as that which greeted their original publication.
But no man ought to let the first four years of his majority slip away
unrecorded. I would rather publish a tolerable book now than a possibly
good one hereafter.



CAMPAIGNS OF A NON-COMBATANT,

AND HIS

Romaunt abroad during the War.



CHAPTER 1.

MY IMPRESSMENT.


"Here is a piece of James Franklin's printing press, Mr. Townsend," said
Mr. Pratt to me, at Newport the other day,--"Ben. Franklin wrote for the
paper, and set type upon it. The press was imported from England in
1730, or thereabouts."

He produced a piece of wood, a foot in length, and then laid it away in
its drawer very sacredly.

"I should like to write to that press, Mr. Pratt," I said,--"there would
be no necessity in such a case of getting off six columns for to-night's
mail."

"Well!" said Mr. Pratt, philosophically, "I have a theory that a man
grows up to machinery. As your day so shall your strength be. I believe
you have telegraphed up to a House instrument, haven't you?"

"Mr. Pratt," cried I, with some indignation, "your memory is too good.
This is Newport, and I have come down to see the surf. Pray, do not
remind me of hot hours in a newspaper office, the click of a Morse
dispatch, and work far into the midnight!"

So I left Mr. Pratt, of the Newport _Mercury_, with an ostentation of
affront, and bade James Brady, the boatman, hoist sail and carry me over
to Dumpling Rocks.

On the grassy parapet of the crumbling tower which once served the
purposes of a fort, the transparent water hungering at its base, the
rocks covered with fringe spotting the channel, the ocean on my right
hand lost in its own vastness, and Newport out of mind save when the
town bells rang, or the dip of oars beat in the still swell of
Narragansett,--I lay down, chafing and out of temper, to curse the
only pleasurable labor I had ever undertaken.

To me all places were workshops: the seaside, the springs, the summer
mountains, the cataracts, the theatres, the panoramas of islet-fondled
rivers speeding by strange cities. I was condemned to look upon them all
with mercenary eyes, to turn their gladness into torpid prose, and speak
their praises in turgid columns. Never nepenthe, never _abandonne_,
always wide-awake, and watching for saliences, I had gone abroad like a
falcon, and roamed at home like a hungry jackal. Six fingers on my hand,
one long and pointed, and ever dropping gall; the ineradicable stain
upon my thumb; the widest of my circuits, with all my adventure, a
paltry sheet of foolscap; and the world in which I dwelt, no place for
thought, or dreaminess, or love-making,--only the fierce, fast, flippant
existence of news!

And with this inward execration, I lay on Dumpling Rocks, looking to
sea, and recalled the first fond hours of my newspaper life.

To be a subject of old Hoe, the most voracious of men, I gave up the
choice of three sage professions, and the sweet alternative of idling
husbandry.

The day I graduated saw me an _attaché_ of the Philadelphia _Chameleon_.
I was to receive three dollars a week and be the heir to lordly
prospects. In the long course of persevering years I might sit in the
cushions of the night-editor, or speak of the striplings around me as
"_my_ reporters."

"There is nothing which you cannot attain," said Mr. Axiom, my
employer,--"think of the influence you exercise!--more than a clergyman;
Horace Greeley was an editor; so was George D. Prentice; the first has
just been defeated for Congress; the last lectured last night and got
fifty dollars for it."

Hereat I was greatly encouraged, and proposed to write a leader for next
day's paper upon the evils of the Fire Department.

"Dear me," said Mr. Axiom, "you would ruin our circulation at a wink;
what would become of our ball column? in case of a fire in the building
we couldn't get a hose to play on it. Oh! no, Alfred, writing leaders is
hard and dangerous; I want you first to learn the use of a beautiful
pair of scissors."

I looked blank and chopfallen.

"No man can write a good hand or a good style," he said, "without
experience with scissors. They give your palm flexibility and that is
soon imparted to the mind. But perfection is attained by an alternate
use of the scissors and the pen; if a little paste be prescribed at the
same time, cohesion and steadfastness is imparted to the man."

His reasoning was incontrovertible; but I damned his conclusions.

So, I spent one month in slashing several hundred exchanges a day, and
paragraphing all the items. These reappeared in a column called "THE
LATEST INFORMATION," and when I found them copied into another journal,
a flush of satisfaction rose to my face.

The editor of the _Chameleon_ was an old journalist, whose face was a
sealed book of Confucius, and who talked to me, patronizingly, now and
then, like the Delphic Oracle. His name was Watch, and he wore a
prodigious pearl in his shirt-bosom. He crept up to the editorial room
at nine o'clock every night, and dashed off an hour's worth of
glittering generalities, at the end of which time two or three
gentlemen, blooming at the nose, and with cheeks resembling a map drawn
in red ink, sounded the pipe below stairs, and Mr. Watch said--

"Mr. Townsend, I look to you to be on hand to-night; I am called away by
the Water-Gas Company."

Then, with enthusiasm up to blood-heat, aroused by this mark of
confidence, I used to set to, and scissor and write till three o'clock,
while Mr. Watch talked water-gas over brandy and water, and drew his
thirty dollars punctually on Saturdays.

So it happened that my news paragraphs, sometimes pointedly turned into
a reflection, crept into the editorial columns, when water-gas was
lively. Venturing more and more, the clipper finally indited a leader;
and Mr. Watch, whose nose water-gas was reddening, applauded me, and
told me in his sublime way, that, as a special favor, I might write all
the leaders the next night. Mr. Watch was seen no more in the sanctum
for a week, and my three dollars carried on the concern.

When he returned, he generously gave me a dollar, and said that he had
spoken of me to the Water-Gas Company as a capital secretary. Then he
wrote me a pass for the Arch Street Theatre, and told me, benevolently,
to go off and rest that night.

For a month or more the responsibility of the _Chameleon_ devolved
almost entirely upon me. Child that I was, knowing no world but my own
vanity, and pleased with those who fed its sensitive love of approbation
rather than with the just and reticent, I harbored no distrust till one
day when Axiom visited the office, and I was drawing my three dollars
from the treasurer, I heard Mr. Watch exclaim, within the publisher's
room--

"Did you read my article on the Homestead Bill?"

"Yes," answered Axiom; "it was quite clever; your leaders are more alive
and epigrammatic than they were."

I could stand it no more. I bolted into the office, and cried--

"The article on the Homestead Bill is mine, so is every other article in
to-day's paper. Mr. Watch does not tell the truth; he is ungenerous!"

"What's this, Watch?" said Axiom.

"Alfred," exclaimed Mr. Watch, majestically, "adopts my suggestions very
readily, and is quite industrious. I recommend that we raise his salary
to five dollars a week. That is a large sum for a lad."

That night the manuscript was overhauled in the composing room. Watch's
dereliction was manifest; but not a word was said commendatory of my
labor; it was feared I might take "airs," or covet a further increase of
wages. I only missed Watch's hugh pearl, and heard that he had been
discharged, and was myself taken from the drudgery of the scissors, and
made a reporter.

All this was very recent, yet to me so far remote, that as I recall it
all, I wonder if I am not old, and feel nervously of my hairs. For in
the five intervening years I have ridden at Hoe speed down the groove of
my steel-pen.

The pen is my traction engine; it has gone through worlds of fancy and
reflection, dragging me behind it; and long experience has given it so
great facility, that I have only to fire up, whistle, and fix my
couplings, and away goes my locomotive with no end of cars in train.

Few journalists, beginning at the bottom, do not weary of the ladder ere
they climb high. Few of such, or of others more enthusiastic, recall the
early associations of "the office" with pleasure. Yet there is no world
more grotesque, none, at least in America, more capable of fictitious
illustration. Around a newspaper all the dramatis personæ of the world
congregate; within it there are staid idiosyncratic folk who admit of
all kindly caricature.

I summon from that humming and hurly-burly past, the ancient
proof-reader. He wears a green shade over his eyes and the gas burner is
drawn very low to darken the bald and wrinkled contour of his forehead.
He is severe in judgment and spells rigidly by the Johnsonian standard.
He punctuates by an obdurate and conscientious method, and will have no
italics upon any pretext. He will lend you money, will eat with you,
drink with you, and encourage you; but he will not punctuate with you,
spell with you, nor accept any of your suggestions as to typography or
paragraphing whatsoever. He wears slippers and smokes a primitive clay
pipe; he has everything in its place, and you cannot offend him more
than by looking over any proof except when he is holding it. A chip of
himself is the copyholder at his side,--a meagre, freckled, matter of
fact youth, who reads your tenderest sentences in a rapid monotone, and
is never known to venture any opinion or suggestion whatever. This boy,
I am bound to say, will follow the copy if it be all consonants, and
will accompany it if it flies out of the window.

The office clerk was my bane and admiration. He was presumed by the
verdant patrons of the paper to be its owner and principal editor, its
type-setter, pressman, and carrier. His hair was elaborately curled, and
his ears were perfect racks of long and dandyfied pens; a broad,
shovel-shaped gold pen lay forever opposite his high stool; he had an
arrogant and patronizing address, and was the perpetual cabbager of
editorial perquisites. Books, ball-tickets, season-tickets, pictures,
disappeared in his indiscriminate fist, and he promised notices which he
could not write to no end of applicants. He was to be seen at the
theatre every night, and he was the dashing escort of the proprietor's
wife, who preferred his jaunty coat and highly-polished boots to the
less elaborate wardrobe of us writers. That this noble and fashionable
creature could descend to writing wrappers, and to waiting his turn with
a bank-book in the long train of a sordid teller, passed all speculation
and astonishment. He made a sorry fag of the office boy, and advised us
every day to beware of cutting the files, as if that were the one vice
of authors. To him we stole, with humiliated faces, and begged a
trifling advance of salary. He sternly requested us not to encroach
behind the counter--his own indisputable domain--but sometimes asked us
to watch the office while he drank with a theatrical agent at the
nearest bar. He was an inveterate gossip, and endowed with a damnable
love of slipshod argument; the only oral censor upon our compositions,
he hailed us with all the complaints made at his solicitation by
irascible subscribers, and stood in awe of the cashier only, who
frequently, to our delight and surprise, combed him over, and drove him
to us for sympathy.

The foreman was still our power behind the throne; he left out our copy
on mechanical grounds, and put it in for our modesty and sophistry. In
his broad, hot room, all flaring with gas, he stood at a flat stone like
a surgeon, and took forms to pieces and dissected huge columns of
pregnant metal, and paid off the hands with fabulous amounts of
uncurrent bank bills. His wife and he went thrice a year on excursions
to the sea-side, and he was forever borrowing a dollar from somebody to
treat the lender and himself.

The ship-news man could be seen towards the small-hours, writing his
highly imaginative department, which showed how the Sally Ann, Master
Todd, arrived leaky in Bombay harbor; and there were stacks of newsboys
asleep on the boilers, fighting in their dreams for the possession of a
fragment of a many-cornered blanket.

These, like myself, went into the halcyon land of Nod to the music of a
crashing press, and swarmed about it at the dawn like so many gad flies
about an ox, to carry into the awakening city the rhetoric and the
rubbish I had written.

And still they go, and still the great press toils along, and still am I
its slave and keeper, who sit here by the proud, free sea, and feel like
Sinbad, that to a terrible old man I have sold my youth, my convictions,
my love, my life!



CHAPTER II.

THE WAR CORRESPONDENT'S FIRST DAY.


Looking back over the four years of the war, and noting how indurated I
have at last become, both in body and in emotion, I recall with a sigh
that first morning of my correspondentship when I set out so
light-hearted and yet so anxious. It was in 1861. I was accompanied to
the War department by an _attaché_ of the United States Senate. The new
Secretary, Mr. Edwin M. Stanton, referred me to a Mr. Sanford, "Military
Supervisor of Army Intelligence," and after a brief delay I was
requested to sign a parole and duplicate, specifying my loyalty to the
Federal Government, and my promise to publish nothing detrimental to its
interests. I was then given a circular, which stated explicitly the kind
of news termed contraband, and also a printed pass, filled in with my
name, age, residence, and newspaper connection. The latter enjoined upon
all guards to pass me in and out of camps; and authorized persons in
Government employ to furnish me with information.

Our Washington Superintendent sent me a beast, and in compliment to what
the animal might have been, called the same a horse. I wish to protest,
in this record, against any such misnomer. The creature possessed no
single equine element. Experience has satisfied me that horses stand on
four legs; the horse in question stood upon three. Horses may either
pace, trot, run, rack, or gallop; but mine made all the five movements
at once. I think I may call his gait an eccentric stumble. That he had
endurance I admit; for he survived perpetual beating; and his beauty
might have been apparent to an anatomist, but would be scouted by the
world at large. I asked, ruefully, if I was expected to go into battle
so mounted; but was peremptorily forbidden, as a valuable property might
be endangered thereby. I was assigned to the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps
in the anticipated advance, and my friend, the _attaché_, accompanied me
to its rendezvous at Hunter's Mills. We started at two o'clock, and
occupied an hour in passing the city limits. I calculated that,
advancing at the same ratio, we should arrive in camp at noon next day.
We presented ludicrous figures to the grim sabremen that sat erect at
street corners, and ladies at the windows of the dwellings smothered
with suppressed laughter as we floundered along. My friend had the
better horse; but I was the better rider; and if at any time I grew
wrathful at my sorry plight, I had but to look at his and be happy
again. He appeared to be riding on the neck of his beast, and when he
attempted to deceive me with a smile, his face became horribly
contorted. Directly his breeches worked above his boots, and his bare
calves were objects of hopeless solicitude. Caricatures, rather than
men, we toiled bruisedly through Georgetown, and falling in the wake of
supply teams on the Leesburg turnpike, rode between the Potomac on one
side and the dry bed of the canal on the other, till we came at last to
Chain Bridge.

There was a grand view from the point of Little Falls above, where a
line of foamy cataracts ridged the river, and the rocks towered gloomily
on either hand: and of the city below, with its buildings of pure
marble, and the yellow earthworks that crested Arlington Heights. The
clouds over the Potomac were gorgeous in hue, but forests of melancholy
pine clothed the sides of the hills, and the roar of the river made such
beautiful monotone that I almost thought it could be translated to
words. Our passes were now demanded by a fat, bareheaded officer, and
while he panted through their contents, two privates crossed their
bayonets before us.

"News?" he said, in the shortest remark of which he was capable. When
assured that we had nothing to reveal, he seemed immeasurably relieved,
and added--"Great labor, reading!" At this his face grew so dreadfully
purple that I begged him to sit down, and tax himself with no further
exertion. He wiped his forehead, in reply, gasping like a triton, and
muttering the expressive direction, "right!" disappeared into a
guard-box. The two privates winked as they removed their muskets, and we
both laughed immoderately when out of hearing. Our backs were now turned
to the Maryland shore, and jutting grimly from the hill before us, the
black guns of Fort Ethan Allen pointed down the bridge. A double line of
sharp abattis protected it from assault, and sentries walked lazily up
and down the parapet. The colors hung against the mast in the dead calm,
and the smoke curled straight upward from some log-huts within the fort.
The wildness of the surrounding landscape was most remarkable. Within
sight of the Capital of the Republic, the fox yet kept the covert, and
the farms were few and far apart. It seemed to me that little had been
done to clear the country of its primeval timber, and the war had
accomplished more to give evidence of man and industry, than two
centuries of occupation. A military road had been cut through the solid
rocks here; and the original turnpike, which had been little more than a
cart track, was now graded and macadamized. I passed multitudes of
teams, struggling up the slopes, and the carcasses of mules littered
every rod of the way. The profanity of the teamsters was painfully
apparent. I came unobserved upon one who was berating his beasts with a
refinement of cruelty. He cursed each of them separately, swinging his
long-lashed whip the while, and then damned the six in mass. He would
have made a dutiful overseer. The soldiers had shown quite as little
consideration for the residences along the way. I came to one dwelling
where some pertinacious Vandal had even pried out the window-frames, and
imperilled his neck to tear out the roof-beams; a dead vulture was
pinned over the door by pieces of broken bayonets.

"Langley's,"--a few plank-houses, clustering around a tavern and a
church,--is one of those settlements whose sounding names beguile the
reader into an idea of their importance. A lonesome haunt in time of
peace, it had lately been the winter quarters of fifteen thousand
soldiers, and a multitude of log huts had grown up around it. I tied my
horse to the window-shutter of a dwelling, and picked my way over a
slimy sidewalk to the ricketty tavern-porch. Four or five privates lay
here fast asleep, and the bar-room was occupied by a bevy of young
officers, who were emptying the contents of sundry pocket-flasks. Behind
the bar sat a person with strongly-marked Hebrew features, and a
watchmaker was plying his avocation in a corner. Two great dogs crouched
under a bench, and some highly-colored portraits were nailed to the
wall. The floor was bare, and some clothing and miscellaneous articles
hung from beams in the ceiling.

"Is this your house?" I said to the Hebrew.

"I keepsh it now."

"By right or by conquest?"

"By ze right of conquest," he said, laughing; and at once proposed to
sell me a bootjack and an India-rubber overcoat. I compromised upon a
haversack, which he filled with sandwiches and sardines, and which I am
bound to say fell apart in the course of the afternoon. The watchmaker
was an enterprising young fellow, who had resigned his place in a large
Broadway establishment, to speculate in cheap jewelry and do itinerant
repairing. He says that he followed the "Army Paymasters, and sold
numbers of watches, at good premiums, when the troops had money."
Soldiers, he informed me, were reckless spendthrifts; and the prey of
sutlers and sharpers. When there was nothing at hand to purchase, they
gambled away their wages, and most of them left the service penniless
and in debt. He thought it perfectly legitimate to secure some silver
while "going," but complained that the value of his stock rendered him
liable to theft and murder. "There are men in every regiment," said he,
"who would blow out my brains in any lonely place to plunder me of these
watches."

At this point, a young officer, in a fit of bacchanal laughter,
staggered rather roughly against me.

"Begurpardon," he said, with an unsteady bow, "never ran against person
in life before."

I smiled assuringly, but he appeared to think the offence unpardonable.

"Do asshu a, on honor of gentlemand officer, not in custom of behaving
offensively. Azo! leave it to my friends. Entirely due to injuries
received at battle Drainesville."

As the other gentlemen laughed loudly here, I took it for granted that
my apologist had some personal hallucination relative to that
engagement.

"What giggling for, Bob?" he said; "honor concerned in this matter,
Will! Do asshu a, fell under Colonel's horse, and Company A walked over
small of my back." The other officers were only less inebriated and most
of them spoke boastfully of their personal prowess at Drainesville. This
was the only engagement in which the Pennsylvania Reserves had yet
participated, and few officers that I met did not ascribe the victory
entirely to their own individual gallantry. I inquired of these
gentlemen the route to the new encampments of the Reserves. They lay
five miles south of the turnpike, close to the Loudon and Hampshire
railroad, and along both sides of an unfrequented lane. They formed in
this position the right wing of the Army of the Potomac, and had been
ordered to hold themselves in hourly readiness for an advance. By this
time, my friend S. came up, and leaving him to restore his mortified
body, I crossed the road to the churchyard and peered through the open
door into the edifice. The seats of painted pine had been covered with
planks, and a sick man lay above every pew. At the ringing of my spurs
in the threshold, some of the sufferers looked up through the red eyes
of fever, and the faces of others were spectrally white. A few groaned
as they turned with difficulty, and some shrank in pain from the glare
of the light. Medicines were kept in the altar-place, and a doctor's
clerk was writing requisitions in the pulpit. The sickening smell of the
hospital forbade me to enter, and walking across the trampled yard, I
crept through a rent in the paling, and examined the huts in which the
Reserves had passed the winter. They were built of logs, plastered with
mud, and the roofs of some were thatched with straw. Each cabin was
pierced for two or more windows; the beds were simply shelves or berths;
a rough fireplace of stones and clay communicated with the wooden
chimney; and the floors were in most cases damp and bare. Streets,
fancifully designated, divided the settlement irregularly; but the
tenements were now all deserted save one, where I found a whole family
of "contrabands" or fugitive slaves. These wretched beings, seven in
number, had escaped from a plantation in Albemarle county, and
travelling stealthily by night, over two hundred miles of precipitous
country, reached the Federal lines on the thirteenth day. The husband
said that his name was "Jeems," and that his wife was called "Kitty;"
that his youngest boy had passed the mature age of eight months, and
that the "big girl, Rosy," was "twelve years Christmas comin'." While
the troops remained at Langley's, the man was employed at seventy-five
cents a week to attend to an officer's horse. Kitty and Rose cooked and
washed for soldiers, and the boys ran errands to Washington and
return,--twenty-five miles! The eldest boy, Jefferson, had been given
the use of a crippled team-horse, and traded in newspapers, but having
confused ideas of the relative value of coins, his profits were only
moderate. The nag died before the troops removed, and a sutler, under
pretence of securing their passage to the North, disappeared with the
little they had saved. They were quite destitute now, but looked to the
future with no foreboding, and huddled together in the straw, made a
picture of domestic felicity that impressed me greatly with the
docility, contentment, and unfailing good humor of their dusky tribe.
The eyes of the children were large and lustrous, and they revealed the
clear pearls beneath their lips as they clung bashfully to their
mother's lap. The old lady was smoking a clay pipe; the man running over
some castaway jackets and boots. I remarked particularly the broad
shoulders and athletic arms of the woman, whose many childbirths had
left no traces upon her comeliness. She asked me, wistfully: "Masser,
how fur to de nawf?"

"A long way," said I, "perhaps two hundred miles."

"Lawd!" she said, buoyantly--"is dat all? Why, Jeems, couldn't we foot
it, honey?"

"You a most guv out before, ole 'oman," he replied; "got a good ruff
over de head now. Guess de white massar won't let um starve."

I tossed some coppers to the children and gave each a sandwich.

"You get up dar, John Thomas!" called the man vigorously; "you tank de
gentleman, Jefferson, boy! I wonda wha your manners is. Tank you,
massar! know'd you was a gentleman, sar! Massar, is your family from ole
Virginny?"

It was five o'clock when I rejoined S., and the greater part of our
journey had yet to be made. I went at his creeping pace until courtesy
yielded to impatience, when spurring my Pegasus vigorously, he fell into
a bouncing amble and left the _attaché_ far behind. My pass was again
demanded above Langley's by a man who ate apples as he examined it, and
who was disposed to hold a long parley. I entered a region of scrub
timber further on, and met with nothing human for four miles, at the end
of which distance I reached Difficult Creek, flowing through a rocky
ravine, and crossed by a military bridge of logs. Through the thick
woods to the right, I heard the roar of the Potomac, and a finger-board
indicated that I was opposite Great Falls. Three or four dead horses lay
at the roadside beyond the stream, and I recalled the place as the scene
of a recent cavalry encounter. A cartridge-box and a torn felt hat lay
close to the carcasses: I knew that some soul had gone hence to its
account.

The road now kept to the left obliquely, and much of my ride was made
musical by the stream. Darkness closed solemnly about me, with seven
miles of the journey yet to accomplish, and as, at eight o'clock, I
turned from the turnpike into a lonesome by-road, full of ruts, pools,
and quicksands, a feeling of delicious uneasiness for the first time
possessed me. Some owls hooted in the depth of the woods, and wild pigs,
darting across the road, went crashing into the bushes. The
phosphorescent bark of a blasted tree glimmered on a neighboring knoll,
and as I halted at a rivulet to water my beast, I saw a solitary star
floating down the ripples. Directly I came upon a clearing where the
moonlight shone through the rents of a crumbling dwelling, and from the
far distance broke the faint howl of farm dogs. A sense of insecurity
that I would not for worlds have resigned, now tingled, now chilled my
blood. At last, climbing a stony hill, the skies lay beneath me
reddening with the flame of camps and flaring and falling alternately,
like the beautiful Northern lights. I heard the ring of hoofs as I
looked entranced, and in a twinkling, a body of horsemen dashed past me
and disappeared. A little beyond, the road grew so thick that I could
see nothing of my way; but trusting doubtfully to my horse, a deep
challenge came directly from the thicket, and I saw the flash of a
sabre, as I stammered a reply. Led to a cabin close at hand, my pass
was examined by candle-light, and I learned that the nearest camp of the
Reserves was only a mile farther on, and the regiment of which I was in
quest about two miles distant. After another half hour, I reached Ord's
brigade, whose tents were pitched in a fine grove of oaks; the men
talking, singing, and shouting, around open air fires; and a battery of
brass Napoleons unlimbered in front, pointing significantly to the West
and South. For a mile and a half I rode by the light of continuous
camps, reaching at last the quarters of the ----th, commanded by a
former newspaper associate of mine, with whom I had gone itemizing,
scores of times. His regiment had arrived only the same afternoon, and
their tents were not yet pitched. Their muskets were stacked along the
roadside, and the men lay here and there wrapped in their blankets, and
dozing around the fagots. The Colonel was asleep in a wagon, but roused
up at the summons of his Adjutant, and greeting me warmly, directed the
cook to prepare a supper of coffee and fried pork. Too hungry to feel
the chafing of my sores and bruises, I fell to the oleaginous repast
with my teeth and fingers, and eating ravenously, asked at last to be
shown to my apartments. These consisted of a covered wagon, already
occupied by four teamsters, and a blanket which had evidently been in
close proximity to the hide of a horse. A man named "Coggle," being
nudged by the Colonel, and requested to take other quarters, asked
dolorously if it was time to turn out, and roared "woa," as if he had
some consciousness of being kicked. When I asked for a pillow, the
Colonel laughed, and I had an intuition that the man "Coggle" was
looking at me in the darkness with intense disgust. The Colonel said
that he had once put a man on double duty for placing his head on a
snowball, and warned me satirically that such luxuries were preposterous
in the field. He recommended me not to catch cold if I could help it,
but said that people in camp commonly caught several colds at once, and
added grimly that if I wished to be shaved in the morning, there was a
man close by, who had ground a sabre down to the nice edge of a razor,
and who could be made to accommodate me. There were cracks in the bottom
of the wagon, through which the cold came like knives, and I was
allotted a space four feet in length, by three feet in width.

Being six feet in height, my relation to these Procrustean quarters was
most embarassing; but I doubled up, chatteringly, and lay my head on my
arm. In a short time I experienced a sensation akin to that of being
guillotined, and sitting bolt upright, found the teamsters in the
soundest of Lethean conditions. As the man next to me snored very
loudly, I adopted the brilliant idea of making a pillow of his thigh;
which answered my best expectations. I was aroused after a while, by
what I thought to be the violent hands of this person, but which, to my
great chagrin, proved to be S., intent upon dividing my place with me.
Resistance was useless. I submitted to martyrdom with due resignation,
but half resolved to go home in the morning, and shun, for the future,
the horrible romance of camps.



CHAPTER III.

A GENERAL UNDER THE MICROSCOPE.


When I awoke at Colonel Taggert's tent the morning afterward, I had
verified the common experience of camps by "catching several colds at
once," and felt a general sensation of being cut off at the knees. Poor
S., who joined me at the fire, states that he believed himself to be
tied in knots, and that he should return afoot to Washington. Our horses
looked no worse, for that would have been manifestly impossible. We were
made the butts of much jesting at breakfast; and S. said, in a spirit of
atrocity, that camp wit was quite as bad as camp "wittles." I bade him
adieu at five o'clock A. M., when he had secured passage to the city in
a sutler's wagon. Remounting my own fiery courser, I bade the Colonel a
temporary farewell, and proceeded in the direction of Meade's and
Reynold's brigades. The drum and fife were now beating _reveillé_, and
volunteers in various stages of undress were limping to roll-call. Some
wore one shoe, and others appeared shivering in their linen. They stood
ludicrously in rank, and a succession of short, dry coughs ran up and
down the line, as if to indicate those who should escape the bullet for
the lingering agonies of the hospital. The ground was damp, and fog was
rising from the hollows and fens. Some signal corps officers were
practising with flags in a ploughed field, and negro stewards were
stirring about the cook fires. A few supply wagons that I passed the
previous day were just creaking into camp, having travelled most of the
night. I saw that the country was rude, but the farms were close, and
the dwellings in many cases inhabited. The vicinity had previously been
unoccupied by either army, and rapine had as yet appropriated only the
fields for camps and the fences for fuel. I was directed to the
headquarters of Major-General M'Call,--a cluster of wall tents in the
far corner of a grain-field, concealed from public view by a projecting
point of woods. A Sibley tent stood close at hand, where a soldier in
blue overcoat was reading signals through a telescope. I mistook the
tent for the General's, and riding up to the soldier was requested to
stand out of the way. I moved to his rear, but he said curtly that I was
obstructing the light. I then dismounted, and led my horse to a clump of
trees a rod distant.

"Don't hitch there," said the soldier; "you block up the view."

A little ruffled at this manifest discourtesy, I asked the man to denote
some point within a radius of a mile where I would _not_ interfere with
his operations. He said in reply, that it was not his business to denote
hitching-stalls for anybody. I thought, in that case, that I should stay
where I was, and he politely informed me that I might stay and
be--jammed. I found afterward that this individual was troubled with a
kind of insanity peculiar to all headquarters, arising out of an
exaggerated idea of his own importance. I had the pleasure, a few
minutes afterward, of hearing him ordered to feed my horse. A thickset,
gray-haired man sat near by, undergoing the process of shaving by a very
nervous negro. The thickset man was also exercising the privileges of
his rank; but the more he berated his attendant's awkwardness, the more
nervous the other became. I addressed myself mutually to master and man,
in an inquiry as to the precise quarters of the General in command. The
latter pointed to a wall tent contiguous, and was cursed by the thickset
man for not minding his business. The thickset man remarked
substantially, that he didn't know anything about it, and was at that
moment cut by the negro, to my infinite delight. Before the wall tent in
question stood a tall, broad-shouldered gentleman in shirt-sleeves and
slippers, warming his back and hands at a fire. He was watching, through
an aperture in the tent, the movements of a private who was cleaning his
boots. I noticed that he wore a seal ring, and that he opened and shut
his eyes very rapidly. He was, otherwise, a very respectable and
dignified gentleman.

"Is this General M'Call?" said I, a little discomposed. The gentleman
looked abstractedly into my eyes, opening and shutting his own several
times, as if doubtful of his personality, and at last decided that he
_was_ General M'Call.

"What is it?" he said gravely, but without the slightest curiosity.

"I have a letter for you, sir, I believe."

He put the letter behind his back, and went on warming his hands. Having
winked several times again, apparently forgetting all about the matter,
I ventured to add that the letter was merely introductory. He looked at
it, mechanically.

"Who opened it?" he said.

"Letters of introduction are not commonly sealed, General."

"Who are you?" he asked, indifferently.

I told him that the contents of the letter would explain my errand; but
he had, meantime, relapsed into abstractedness, and winked, and warmed
his hands, for at least, five minutes. At the end of that time, he read
the letter very deliberately, and said that he was glad to see me in
camp. He intimated, that if I was not already located, I could be
provided with bed and meals at headquarters. He stated, in relation to
my correspondence, that all letters sent from the Reserve Corps, must,
without any reservations, be submitted to him in person. I was obliged
to promise compliance, but had gloomy forebodings that the General
would occupy a fortnight in the examination of each letter. He invited
me to breakfast, proposed to make me acquainted with his staff, and was,
in all respects, a very grave, prudent, and affable soldier. I may say,
incidentally, that I adopted the device of penning a couple of gossipy
epistles, the length and folly of which, so irritated General M'Call,
that he released me from the penalty of submitting my compositions for
the future.

I took up my permanent abode with quartermaster Kingwalt, a very prince
of old soldiers, who had devoted much of a sturdy life to promoting the
militia interests of the populous county of Chester. When the war-fever
swept down his beautiful valley, and the drum called the young men from
villages and farms, this ancient yeoman and miller--for he was
both--took a musket at the sprightly age of sixty-five, and joined a
Volunteer company. Neither ridicule nor entreaty could bend his purpose;
but the Secretary of War, hearing of the case, conferred a brigade
quartermastership upon him. He threw off the infirmities of age, stepped
as proudly as any youngster, and became, emphatically, the best
quartermaster in the Division. He never delayed an advance with tardy
teams, nor kept the General tentless, nor penned irregular requisitions,
nor wasted the property of Government. The ague seized him,
occasionally, and shook his grey hairs fearfully; but he always
recovered to ride his black stallion on long forages, and his great
strength and bulk were the envy of all the young officers.

He grasped my hand so heartily that I positively howled, and commanded a
tall sergeant, rejoicing in the name of Clover, to take away my horse
and split him up for kindling wood.

"We must give him the blue roan, that Fogg rides," said the
quartermaster, to the great dejection of Fogg, a short stout youth, who
was posting accounts. I was glad to see, however, that Fogg was not
disposed to be angry, and when informed that a certain iron-gray nag was
at his disposal, he was in a perfect glow of good humor. The other
_attachés_ were a German, whose name, as I caught it, seemed to be
Skyhiski; and a pleasant lad called Owen, whose disposition was so mild,
that I wondered how he had adopted the bloody profession of arms. A
black boy belonged to the establishment, remarkable, chiefly, for
getting close to the heels of the black stallion, and being frequently
kicked; he was employed to feed and brush the said stallion, and the
antipathy between them was intense.

The above curious military combination, slept under a great tarpaulin
canopy, originally used for covering commissary stores from the rain.
Our meals were taken in the open air, and prepared by Skyhiski; but
there was a second tent, provided with desk and secretary, where Mr.
Fogg performed his clerk duties, daily. When I had relieved my Pegasus
of his saddle, and penned some paragraphs for a future letter, I
strolled down the road with the old gentleman, who insisted upon showing
me Hunter's mill, a storm-beaten structure, that looked like a great
barn. The mill-race had been drained by some soldiers for the purpose of
securing the fish contained in it, and the mill-wheel was quite dry and
motionless. Difficult Creek ran impetuously across the road below, as if
anxious to be put to some use again; and the miller's house adjoining,
was now used as a hospital, for Lieutenant-Colonel Kane, and some
inferior officers. It was a favorite design of the Quartermaster's to
scrape the mill-stone, repair the race, and put the great breast-wheel
to work. One could see that the soldier had not entirely obliterated the
miller, and as he related, with a glowing face, the plans that he had
proposed to recuperate the tottering structure, and make it serviceable
to the army, I felt a regret that such peaceful ambitions should have
ever been overruled by the call to arms.

While we stood at the mill window, watching the long stretches of white
tents and speculating upon the results of war, we saw several men
running across the road toward a hill-top cottage, where General Meade
made his quarters. A small group was collected at the cottage,
reconnoitring something through their telescopes. As I hastened in that
direction, I heard confused voices, thus: "No, it isn't!" "It is!" "Can
you make out his shoulder-bar?" "What is the color of his coat?" "Gray!"
"No, it's butternut!" "Has he a musket!" "Yes, he is levelling it!" At
this the group scattered in every direction. "Pshaw!" said one, "we are
out of range; besides, it is a telescope that he has. By----, it is a
Rebel, reconnoitring our camp!" There was a manifest sensation here, and
one man wondered how he had passed the picket. Another suggested that he
might be accompanied by a troop, and a third convulsed the circle by
declaring that there were six other Rebels visible in a woods to the
left. Mr. Fogg had meantime come up and proffered me a field-glass,
through which I certainly made out a person in gray, standing in the
middle of the road just at the ridge of a hill. When I dropped my glass
I saw him distinctly with the naked eye. He was probably a mile distant,
and his gray vesture was little relieved by the blue haze of the forest.

"He is going," exclaimed a private, excitedly; "where's the man that was
to try a lead on him?" Several started impulsively for their pieces, and
some officers called for their horses. "There go his knees!" "His body
is behind the hill!" "Now his head----"

"Crack! crack! crack!" spluttered musketry from the edge of the mill,
and like as many rockets darted a score of horsemen through the creek
and up the steep. Directly a faint hurrah pealed from the camp nearest
the mill. It passed to the next camp and the next; for all were now
earnestly watching; and finally a medley of cheers shook the air and the
ear. Thousands of brave men were shouting the requiem of one paltry
life. The rash fool had bought with his temerity a bullet in the brain.
When I saw him--dusty and still bleeding--he was beset by a full
regiment of idlers, to whom death had neither awe nor respect. They
talked of the delicate shot, as connoisseurs in the art of murder,--and
two men dug him a grave on the green before the mill, wherein he was
tossed like a dog or a vulture, to be lulled, let us hope, by the music
of the grinding, when grain shall ripen once more.

I had an opportunity, after dinner, to inspect the camp of the
"Bucktails," a regiment of Pennsylvania backwoodsmen, whose efficiency
as skirmishers has been adverted to by all chroniclers of the civil war.
They wore the common blue blouse and breeches, but were distinguished by
squirrel tails fastened to their caps. They were reputed to be the best
marksmen in the service, and were generally allowed, in action, to take
their own positions and fire at will. Crawling through thick woods, or
trailing serpent-like through the tangled grass, these mountaineers were
for a time the terror of the Confederates; but when their mode of
fighting had been understood, their adversaries improved upon it to such
a degree that at the date of this writing there is scarcely a Corporal's
guard of the original Bucktail regiment remaining. Slaughtered on the
field, perishing in prison, disabled or paroled, they have lost both
their prestige and their strength. I remarked among these worthies a
partiality for fisticuffs, and a dislike for the manual of arms. They
drilled badly, and were reported to be adepts at thieving and unlicensed
foraging.

The second night in camp was pleasantly passed. Some sociable
officers--favorites with Captain Kingwalt--congregated under the
tarpaulin, after supper-hour, and when a long-necked bottle had been
emptied and replenished, there were many quaint stories related and
curious individualities revealed. I dropped asleep while the hilarity
was at its height, and Fogg covered me with a thick blanket as I lay.
The enemy might have come upon us in the darkness; but if death were
half so sound as my slumber afield, I should have bid it welcome.



CHAPTER IV.

A FORAGING ADVENTURE.


There was a newsboy named "Charley," who slept at Captain Kingwalt's
every second night, and who returned my beast to his owner in
Washington. The aphorism that a Yankee can do anything, was exemplified
by this lad; for he worked my snail into a gallop. He was born in
Chelsea, Massachusetts, and appeared to have taken to speculation at the
age when most children are learning A B C. He was now in his fourteenth
year, owned two horses, and employed another boy to sell papers for him
likewise. His profits upon daily sales of four hundred journals were
about thirty-two dollars. He had five hundred dollars in bank, and was
debating with Captain Kingwalt the propriety of founding an army express
and general agency. Such a self-reliant, swaggering, far-sighted, and
impertinent boy I never knew. He was a favorite with the Captain's
black-boy, and upon thorough terms of equality with the Commanding
General. His papers cost him in Washington a cent and a half each, and
he sold them in camp for ten cents each. I have not the slightest doubt
that I shall hear of him again as the proprietor of an overland mail, or
the patron and capitalist of Greenland emigration.

I passed the second and third days quietly in camp, writing a couple of
letters, studying somewhat of fortification, and making flying visits to
various officers. There was but one other Reporter with this division of
the army. He represented a New York journal, and I could not but
contrast his fine steed and equipments with the scanty accommodations
that my provincial establishment had provided for me. His saddle was a
cushioned McClellan, with spangled breast-strap and plump saddle-bags,
and his bridle was adorned with a bright curb bit and twilled reins. He
wore a field-glass belted about his body, and was plentifully provided
with money to purchase items of news, if they were at any time difficult
to obtain. I resolved inwardly to seize the first opportunity of
changing establishments, so that I might be placed upon as good a
footing. My relations with camp, otherwise, were of the happiest
character; for the troops were State-people of mine, and, as reporters
had not yet abused the privileges accorded them, my profession was held
in some repute. I made the round of various "messes," and soon adopted
the current dissipations of the field,--late hours, long stories,
incessant smoking, and raw spirits. There were some restless minds about
me, whose funds of anecdote and jest were apparently inexhaustible. I do
not know that so many eccentric, adventurous, and fluent people are to
be found among any other nationality of soldiers, not excepting the
Irish.

The blue roan of which friend Fogg had been deprived, exhibited
occasional evidences of a desire to break my neck. I was obliged to
dispense with the spur in riding him, but he nevertheless dashed off at
times, and put me into an agony of fear. On those occasions I managed to
retain my seat, and gained thereby the reputation of being a very fine
equestrian. As there were few civilians in camp, and as I wore a gray
suit, and appeared to be in request at head-quarters, a rumor was
developed and gained currency that I was attached to the Division in the
capacity of a scout. When my horse became unmanageable, therefore, his
speed was generally accelerated by the cheers of soldiers, and I became
an object of curiosity in every quarter, to my infinite mortification
and dread.

The Captain was to set off on the fourth day, to purchase or seize some
hay and grain that were stacked at neighboring farms. We prepared to go
at eight o'clock, but were detained somewhat by reason of Skyhiski being
inebriated the night before, and thereby delaying the breakfast, and
afterward the fact that the black stallion had laid open the black-boy's
leg. However, at a quarter past nine, the Captain, Sergeant Clover,
Fogg, Owen, and myself, with six four-horse wagons, filed down the
railroad track until we came to a bridge that some laborers were
repairing, where we turned to the left through some soggy fields, and
forded Difficult Creek. As there was no road to follow, we kept straight
through a wood of young maples and chestnut-trees. Occasionally a trunk
or projecting branch stopped the wagons, when the teamsters opened the
way with their axes. After two hours of slow advance, we came to the end
of the wood, and climbed a succession of hilly fields. From the summit
of the last of these, a splendid sweep of farm country was revealed,
dotted with quaint Virginia dwellings, stackyards, and negro-cabins, and
divided by miles of tortuous worm-fence. The eyes of the Quartermaster
brightened at the prospect, though I am afraid that he thought only of
the abundant forage; but my own grew hazy as I spoke of the peaceful
people and the neglected fields. The plough had furrowed none of these
acres, and some crows, that screamed gutturally from a neighboring
ash-tree, seemed lean and pinched for lack of their plunder of corn.

Many of the dwellings were guarded by soldiers; but of the resident
citizens only the women and the old men remained. I did not need to ask
where the young men were exiled. The residue that prayed with their
faces toward Richmond, told me the story with their eyes. There was,
nevertheless, no melodramatic exhibition of feeling among the bereaved.
I did not see any defiant postures, nor hear any melting apostrophies.
Marius was not mouthing by the ruins of Carthage, nor even Rachel
weeping for her Hebrew children. But there were on every hand
manifestations of adherence to the Southern cause, except among a few
males who feared unutterable things, and were disposed to cringe and
prevaricate. The women were not generally handsome; their face was
indolent, their dress slovenly, and their manner embarrassed. They
lopped off the beginnings and the ends of their sentences, generally
commencing with a verb, as thus: "Told soldiers not to carr' off the
rye; declared they would; said they bound do jest what they pleased. Let
'em go!"

The Captain stopped at a spruce residence, approached by a long lane,
and on knocking at the porch with his ponderous fist, a woman came
timidly to the kitchen window.

"Who's thar?" she said, after a moment.

"Come out young woman," said the Captain, soothingly; "we don't intend
to murder or rob you, ma'am!"

There dropped from the doorsill into the yard, not one, but three young
women, followed by a very deaf old man, who appeared to think that the
Captain's visit bore some reference to the hencoop.

"I wish to buy for the use of the United States Government," said the
Captain, "some stacks of hay and corn fodder, that lie in one of your
fields."

"The last hen was toted off this morning before breakfast," said the old
man; "they took the turkeys yesterday, and I was obliged to kill the
ducks or I shouldn't have had anything to eat."

Here Fogg so misdemeaned himself, as to laugh through his nose, and the
man Clover appeared to be suddenly interested in something that lay in a
mulberry-tree opposite.

"I am provided with money to pay liberally for your produce, and you
cannot do better than to let me take the stacks: leaving you, of course,
enough for your own horses and cattle."

Here the old man pricked up his ears, and said that he hadn't heard of
any recent battle; for his part, he had never been a politician; but
thought that both parties were a little wrong; and wished that peace
would return: for he was a very old man, and was sorry that folks
couldn't let quiet folks' property alone. How far his garrulity might
have betrayed him, could be conjectured only by one of the girls taking
his hand and leading him submissively into the house.

The eldest daughter said that the Captain might take the stacks at his
own valuation, but trusted to his honor as a soldier, and as he seemed,
a gentleman, to deal justly by them. There could be no crop harvested
for a twelvemonth, and beggary looked them in the face. I have never
beheld anything more chivalrously gallant, than the sturdy old
quartermaster's attitude. He blended in tone and face the politeness of
a diplomat and the gentleness of a father. They asked him to return to
the house, with his _officers_, when he had loaded the wagons; for
dinner was being prepared, and they hoped that Virginians could be
hospitable, even to their enemies. As to the hay and fodder, none need
be left; for the Confederates had seized their horses some months
before, and driven off their cows when they retired from the
neighborhood.

I so admired the queer gables and great brick ovens of the house, that I
resolved to tie my horse, and rest under the crooked porch. The eldest
young lady had taken me to be a prisoner, and was greatly astonished
that the Quartermaster permitted me to go at large. She asked me to have
a chair in the parlor, but when I made my appearance there, the two
younger sisters fled precipitately. The old man was shaking his head
sadly by the fireplace. Some logs burned on the andirons with a red
flame. The furniture consisted of a mahogany sideboard, table, and
chairs,--ponderous in pattern; and a series of family portraits, in a
sprawling style of art, smirked and postured on the wall. The floor was
bare, but shone by reason of repeated scrubbing, and the black
mantel-piece was a fine specimen of colonial carving in the staunchest
of walnut-wood.

Directly the two younger girls--though the youngest must have been
twenty years of age--came back with averted eyes and the silliest of
giggles. They sat a little distance apart, and occasionally nodded or
signalled like school children.

"Wish you _would_ stop, Bell!" said one of these misses,--whose flaxen
hair was plastered across her eyebrows, and who was very tall and
slender.

"See if I don't tell on you," said the other,--a dark miss with roguish
eyes and fat, plump figure, and curls that shook ever so merrily about
her shoulders.

"Declar' I never said so, if he asks me; declar' I will."

"Tell on you,--you see! Won't he be jealous? How he will car' on!"

I made out that these young ladies were intent upon publishing their
obligations to certain sweethearts of theirs, who, as it afterward
seemed, were in the army at Manassas Junction. I said to the
curly-haired miss, that she was endangering the life of her enamored;
for it would become an object with all the anxious troops in the
vicinity to shorten his days. The old man roused up here, and remarked
that his health certainly was declining; but he hoped to survive a while
longer for the sake of his children; that he was no politician, and
always said that the negroes were very ungrateful people. He caught his
daughter's eye finally, and cowered stupidly, nodding at the fire.

I remarked to the eldest young woman,--called Prissy (Priscilla) by her
sister,--that the country hereabout was pleasantly wooded. She said, in
substance, that every part of Virginia was beautiful, and that she did
not wish to survive the disgrace of the old commonwealth.

"Become right down hateful since Yankees invaded it!" exclaimed Miss
Bell. "_Some_ Yankee's handsome sister," said Miss Bessie, the
proprietor of the curls, "think some Yankees puffick gentlemen!"

"Oh, you traitor!" said the other,--"wish _Henry_ heard you say that!"

Miss Bell intimated that she should take the first opportunity of
telling him the same, and I eulogized her good judgment. Priscilla now
begged to be excused for a moment, as, since the flight of the negro
property, the care of the table had devolved mainly upon her. A single
aged servant, too feeble or too faithful to decamp, still attended to
the menial functions, and two mulatto children remained to relieve them
of light labor. She was a dignified, matronly young lady, and, as one of
the sisters informed me, plighted to a Major in the Confederate service.
The others chattered flippantly for an hour, and said that the old place
was dreadfully lonesome of late. Miss Bell was _sure_ she should die if
another winter, similar to the last, occurred. She loved company, and
had always found it _so_ lively in Loudon before; whereas she had
positively been but twice to a neighbor's for a twelvemonth, and had
quite forgotten the road to the mill. She said, finally, that, rather
than undergo another such isolation, she would become a _Vivandiere_ in
the Yankee army. The slender sister was altogether wedded to the idea of
her lover's. "_Wouldn't_ she tell Henry? and _shouldn't_ she write to
Jeems? and oh, Bessie, you would not _dare_ to repeat that before
_him_." In short, I was at first amused, and afterwards annoyed, by this
young lady, whereas the roguish-eyed miss improved greatly upon
acquaintance.

After a while, Captain Kingwalt came in, trailing his spurs over the
floor, and leaving sunshine in his wake. There was something galvanic in
his gentleness, and infectious in his merriment. He told them at dinner
of his own daughters on the Brandywine, and invented stories of Fogg's
courtships, till that young gentleman first blushed, and afterward
dropped his plate. Our meal was a frugal one, consisting mainly of the
ducks referred to, some vegetables, corn-bread, and coffee made of
wasted rye. There were neither sugar, spices, nor tea, on the premises,
and the salt before us was the last in the dwelling. The Captain
promised to send them both coffee and salt, and Fogg volunteered to
bring the same to the house, whereat the Captain teased him till he left
the table.

At this time, a little boy, who was ostensibly a waiter, cried: "Miss
Prissy, soldiers is climbin' in de hog-pen."

"I knew we should lose the last living thing on the property," said this
young lady, much distressed.

The Captain went to the door, and found three strolling Bucktails
looking covetously at the swine. They were a little discomposed at his
appearance, and edged off suspiciously.

"Halt!" said the old man in his great voice, "where are you men going?"

"Just makin' reconnoissance," said one of the freebooters; "s'pose a
feller has a right to walk around, hain't he?"

"Not unless he has a pass," said the Quartermaster; "have you written
permission to leave camp?"

"Left'nant s'posed we might. Don't know as it's your business. Never see
_you_ in the regiment."

"It is my business, as an officer of the United States, to see that no
soldier strays from camp unauthorizedly, or depredates upon private
property. I will take your names, and report you, first for straggling,
secondly for insolence!"

"Put to it, Bill!" said the speaker of the foragers; "run, Bob! go it
hearties!" And they took to their heels, cleared a pair of fences, and
were lost behind some outbuildings. The Captain could be harsh as well
as generous, and was about mounting his horse impulsively, to overtake
and punish the fugitives, when Priscilla begged him to refrain, as an
enforcement of discipline on his part might bring insult upon her
helpless household. I availed myself of a pause in the Captain's wrath,
to ask Miss Priscilla if she would allow me to lodge in the dwelling.
Five nights' experience in camp had somewhat reduced my enthusiasm, and
I already wearied of the damp beds, the hard fare, and the coarse
conversation of the bivouac. The young lady assented willingly, as she
stated that the presence of a young man would both amuse and protect the
family. For several nights she had not slept, and had imagined footsteps
on the porch and the drawing of window-bolts. There was a bed, formerly
occupied by her brother, that I might take, but must depend upon rather
laggard attendance. I had the satisfaction, therefore, of seeing the
Captain and retinue mount their horses, and wave me a temporary good by.
Poor Fogg looked back so often and so seriously that I expected to see
him fall from the saddle. The young ladies were much impressed with the
Captain's manliness, and Miss Bell wondered _how_ such a _puffick_
gentleman could _reconcile_ himself to the Yankee cause. She had felt a
desire to speak to him upon that point as she was _sure_ he was of fine
stock, and entirely averse to the invasion of such territory as that of
_dear_ old Virginia. There was something in his manner that _so_
reminded her of some one who should be _nameless_ for the present; but
the "nameless" was, _of course_, young, _handsome_, and _so_ brave. I
ruthlessly dissipated her theory of the Captain's origin, by stating
that he was of humble German descent, so far as I knew, and had probably
never beheld Virginia till preceded by the bayonets of his neighbors.

After tea Miss Bessie produced a pitcher of rare cider, that came from a
certain mysterious quarter of the cellar. A chessboard was forthcoming
at a later hour, when we amused ourselves with a couple of games,
facetiously dubbing our chessman Federals and Confederates. Miss Bell,
meanwhile, betook herself to a diary, wherein she minutely related the
incidents and sentiments of successive days. The quantity of words
underscored in the same autobiography would have speedily exhausted the
case of italics, if the printer had obtained it. I was so beguiled by
these patriarchal people, that I several times asked myself if the
circumstances were real. Was I in a hostile country, surrounded by
thousands of armed men? Were the incidents of this evening portions of
an historic era, and the ground about me to be commemorated by
bloodshed? Was this, in fact, revolution, and were these simple country
girls and their lovers revolutionists? The logs burned cheerily upon the
hearth, and the ancestral portraits glowered contemplatively from the
walls. Miss Prissy looked dreamily into the fire, and the old man snored
wheezily in a corner. A gray cat purred in Miss Bell's lap, and Miss
Bessie was writing some nonsense in my note-book.

A sharp knock fell upon the door, and something that sounded like the
butt of a musket shook the porch without. The girls turned pale, and I
think that Miss Bessie seized my arm and clung to it. I think also, that
Miss Bell attempted to take the other arm, to which I demurred.

"Those brutal soldiers again!" said Priscilla, faintly.

"I think one of the andirons has fallen down, darter!" said the old man,
rousing up.

"Tremble for my life," said Miss Bell; "_sure_ shall die if it's _a
man_."

I opened the door after a little pause, when a couple of rough privates
in uniform confronted me.

"We're two guards that General Meade sent to protect the house and
property," said the tallest of these men; "might a feller come in and
warm his feet!"

I understood at once that the Quartermaster had obtained these persons;
and the other man coming forward, said--

"I fetched some coffee over, and a bag o' salt, with Corporal Fogg's
compliments."

They deposited their muskets in a corner, and balanced their boots on
the fender. Nothing was said for a time.

"Did you lose yer poultry?" said the tall man, at length.

"All," said Miss Priscilla.

"Fellers loves poultry!" said the man, smacking his lips.

"Did you lose yer sheep?" said the same man, after a little silence.

"The Bucktails cut their throats the first day that they encamped at the
mill," said Miss Priscilla.

"Them Bucktails great fellers," said the tall man; "them Bucktails awful
on sheep: they loves 'em so!"

He relapsed again for a few minutes, when he continued: "You don't like
fellers to bag yer poultry and sheep, do you?"

Miss Priscilla replied that it was both dishonest and cruel. Miss Bell
intimated that none but Yankees would do it.

"P'raps not," said the tall soldier, drily; "did you ever grub on fat
pork, Miss? No? Did you ever gnaw yer hard tack after a spell o'
sickness, and a ten-hour march? No? P'raps you might like a streak o'
mutton arterwards! P'raps you might take a notion for a couple o'
chickens or so! No? How's that, Ike? What do you think, pardner? (to me)
I ain't over and above cruel, mum. I don't think the Bucktails is over
and above dishonest to home, mum. But, gosh hang it, I think I _would_
bag a chicken any day! I say that above board. Hey, Ike?"

When the tall man and his inferior satellite had warmed their boots till
they smoked, they rose, recovered their muskets, and bowed themselves
into the yard. Soon afterward I bade the young ladies good night, and
repaired to my room. The tall man and his associate were pacing up and
down the grass-plot, and they looked very cold and comfortless, I
thought. I should have liked to obtain for them a draught of cider, but
prudently abstained; for every man in the army would thereby become
cognizant of its existence. So I placed my head once more upon a soft
pillow, and pitied the chilled soldiers who slept upon the turf. I
thought of Miss Bessie with her roguish eyes, and wondered what themes
were now engrossing her. I asked myself if this was the romance of war,
and if it would bear relating to one's children when he grew as old and
as deaf as the wheezy gentleman down-stairs. In fine, I was a little
sentimental, somewhat reflective, and very drowsy. So, after a while,
processions of freebooting soldiers, foraging Quartermasters, deaf
gentlemen, Fogg's regiment, and multitudes of ghosts from Manassas,
drifted by in my dreams. And, in the end, Miss Bessie's long curls
brushed into my eyes, and I found the morning, ruddy as her cheeks,
blushing at the window.



CHAPTER V.

WHAT A MARCH IS IN FACT.


I found at breakfast, that Miss Bessie had been placed beside me, and I
so far forgot myself as to forget all other persons at the table. Miss
Priscilla asked to be helped to the corn-bread, and I deposited a
quantity of the same upon Miss Bessie's plate. Miss Bell asked if I did
not love _dear_ old Virginia, and I replied to Miss Bessie that it had
lately become very attractive, and that, in fact, I was decidedly
rebellious in my sympathy with the distressed Virginians. I _did_
except, however, the man darkly mooted as "Henry," and hoped that he
would be disfigured--not killed--at the earliest engagement. The deaf
old gentleman bristled up here and asked _who_ had been killed at the
recent engagement. There was a man named Jeems Lee,--a distant
connection of the Lightfoots,--not the Hampshire Lightfoots, but the
Fauquier Lightfoots,--who had distinctly appeared to the old gentleman
for several nights, robed in black, and carrying a coffin under his arm.
Since I had mentioned his name, he recalled the circumstance, and hoped
that Jeems Lightfoot had not disgraced his ancestry. Nevertheless, the
deaf gentleman was not to be understood as expressing any opinion upon
the merits of the war. For _his_ part he thought both sides a little
wrong, and the crops were really in a dreadful state. The negroes were
very ungrateful people and property should be held sacred by all
belligerents.

At this point he caught Miss Priscilla's eye, and was transfixed with
conscious guilt.

I had, meantime, been infringing upon Miss Bessie's feet,--very pretty
feet they were!--which expressive but not very refined method of
correspondence caused her to blush to the eyes. Miss Bell, noticing the
same, was determined to tell '_Henry_' at once, and I hoped in my heart
that she would set out for Manassas to further that purpose.

The door opened here, and the rubicund visage of Mr. Fogg appeared like
the head of the Medusa. He said that 'Captain' had ordered the blue roan
to be saddled and brought over to me, but I knew that this was a cunning
device on his part, to revisit the dwelling. Miss Bell, somehow caught
the idea that Fogg was enamored of her, and the poor fellow was
subjected to a volley of tender innuendos and languishing glances, that
by turn mortified and enraged him.

I bade the good people adieu at eight o'clock, promising to return for
dinner at five; and Miss Bessie accompanied me to the lane, where I took
leave of her with a secret whisper and a warm grasp of the hand. One of
her rings had somehow adhered to my finger, which Fogg remarked with a
bilious expression of countenance. I had no sooner got astride of the
blue roan than he darted off like the wind, and subjected me to great
terror, alternating to chagrin, when I turned back and beheld all the
young ladies waving their handkerchiefs. They evidently thought me an
unrivalled equestrian.

I rode to a picket post two miles from the mill, passing over the spot
where the Confederate soldier had fallen. The picket consisted of two
companies or one hundred and sixty men. Half of them were sitting around
a fire concealed in the woods, and the rest were scattered along the
edges of a piece of close timber. I climbed a lookout-tree by means of
cross-strips nailed to the trunk, and beheld from the summit a long
succession of hazy hills, valleys, and forests, with the Blue Ridge
Mountains bounding the distance, like some mighty monster, enclosing the
world in its coils. This was the country of the enemy, and a Lieutenant
obligingly pointed out to me the curling smoke of their pickets, a few
miles away. The cleft of Manassas was plainly visible, and I traced the
line of the Gap Railway to its junction with the Orange and Alexandria
road, below Bull Run. For aught that I knew, some concealed observer
might now be watching me from the pine-tops on the nearest knoll. Some
rifleman might be running his practised eye down the deadly groove, to
topple me from my perch, and send me crashing through the boughs. The
uncertainty, the hazard, the novelty of my position had at this time an
indescribable charm: but subsequent exposures dissipated the romance and
taught me the folly of such adventures.

The afternoon went dryly by: for a drizzling rain fell at noon; but at
four o'clock I saddled the blue roan and went to ride with Fogg. We
retraced the road to Colonel T----s, and crossing a boggy brook, turned
up the hills and passed toward the Potomac. Fogg had been a
schoolmaster, and many of his narrations indicated keen perception and
clever comprehension. He so amused me on this particular occasion that I
quite forgot my engagement for dinner, and unwittingly strolled beyond
the farthest brigade.

Suddenly, we heard a bugle-call from the picket-post before us, and, at
the same moment, the drums beat from the camp behind. Our horses pricked
up their ears and Fogg stared inquiringly. As we turned back we heard
approaching hoofs and the blue roan exhibited intentions of running
away. I pulled his rein in vain. He would neither be soothed nor
commanded. A whole company of cavalry closed up with him at length, and
the sabres clattered in their scabbards as they galloped toward camp at
the top of their speed. With a spring that almost shook me from the
saddle and drove the stirrups flying from my feet, the blue roan dashed
the dust into the eyes of Fogg, and led the race.

Not the wild yager on his gait to perdition, rode so fearfully. Trees,
bogs, huts, bushes, went by like lightning. The hot breath of the nag
rose to my nostrils and at every leap I seemed vaulting among the
spheres.

I speak thus flippantly now, of what was then the agony of death. I
grasped the pommel of my saddle, mechanically winding the lines about my
wrist, and clung with the tenacity of sin clutching the world. Some
soldiers looked wonderingly from the wayside, but did not heed my shriek
of "stop him, for God's sake!" A ditch crossed the lane,--deep and
wide,--and I felt that my moment had come: with a spring that seemed to
break thew and sinew, the blue roan cleared it, pitching upon his knees,
but recovered directly and darted onward again. I knew that I should
fall headlong now, to be trampled by the fierce horsemen behind, but
retained my grasp though my heart was choking me. The camps were in
confusion as I swept past them. A sharp clearness of sense and thought
enabled me to note distinctly the minutest occurrences. I marked long
lines of men cloaked, and carrying knapsacks, drummer-boys beating music
that I had whistled in many a ramble,--field-officers shouting orders
from their saddles, and cannon limbered up as if ready to move,--tents
taken down and teams waiting to be loaded; all the evidences of an
advance, that I alas should never witness, lying bruised and mangled by
the roadside. A cheer saluted me as I passed some of Meade's regiments.
"It is the scout that fetched the orders for an advance!" said several,
and one man remarked that "that feller was the most reckless rider he
had ever beheld." The crisis came at length: a wagon had stopped the
way; my horse in turning it, stepped upon a stake, and slipping rolled
heavily upon his side, tossing me like an acrobat, over his head, but
without further injury than a terrible nervous shock and a rent in my
pantaloons.

I employed a small boy to lead the blue roan to Captain Kingwalt's
quarters, and as I limped wearily after, some regiments came toward me
through the fields. General McCall responded to my salute; he rode in
the advance. The Quartermaster's party was loading the tents and
utensils. The rain fell smartly as dusk deepened into night, and the
brush tents now deserted by the soldiers, were set on fire. Being
composed of dry combustible material, they burned rapidly and with an
intense flame. The fields in every direction were revealed, swarming
with men, horses, batteries, and wagons. Some of the regiments began the
march in silence; others sang familiar ballads as they moved in column.
A few, riotously disposed, shrieked, whistled, and cheered. The
standards were folded; the drums did not mark time; the orders were few
and short. The cannoneers sat moodily upon the caissons, and the
cavalry-men walked their horses sedately. Although fifteen thousand men
comprised the whole corps, each of its three brigades would have seemed
as numerous to a novice. The teams of each brigade closed up the rear,
and a quartermaster's guard was detailed from each regiment to march
beside its own wagons. When the troops were fairly under way, and the
brush burning along from continuous miles of road, the effect was grand
beyond all that I had witnessed. The country people gathered in fright
at the cottage doors, and the farm-dogs bayed dismally at the unwonted
scene. I refused to ride the blue roan again, but transferred my saddle
to a team horse that appeared to be given to a sort of equine
somnambulism, and once or twice attempted to lie down by the roadside.
At nine o'clock I set out with Fogg, who slipped a flask of spirits into
my haversack. Following the tardy movement of the teams, we turned our
faces toward Washington. I was soon wet to the skin, and my saddle
cushion was soaking with water. The streams crossing the road were
swollen with rain, and the great team wheels clogged on the slimy banks.
We were sometimes delayed a half hour by a single wagon, the storm
beating pitilessly in our faces the while. During the stoppages, the
Quartermaster's guards burned all the fence rails in the vicinity, and
some of the more indurated sat round the fagots and gamed with cards.

Cold, taciturn, miserable, I thought of the quiet farm, house, the ruddy
hearth-place, and the smoking supper. I wondered if the roguish eyes
were not a little sad, and the trim feet a little restless, the chessmen
somewhat stupid, and the good old house a trifle lonesome. Alas! the
intimacy so pleasantly commenced, was never to be renewed. With the
thousand and one airy palaces that youth builds and time annihilates, my
first romance of war towered to the stars in a day, and crumbled to
earth in a night.

At two o'clock in the morning we halted at Metropolitan Mills, on the
Alexandria and Leesburg turnpike. A bridge had been destroyed below, and
the creek was so swollen that neither artillery nor cavalry could ford
it. The meadows were submerged and the rain still descended in torrents.
The chilled troops made bonfires of some new panel fence, and stormed
all the henroosts in the vicinity. Some pigs, that betrayed their
whereabouts by inoportune whines and grunts, were speedily confiscated,
slaughtered, and spitted. We erected our tarpaulin in a ploughed field,
and Fogg laid some sharp rails upon the ground to make us a dry bed.
Skyhiski fried a quantity of fresh beef, and boiled some coffee; but
while we ate heartily, theorizing as to the destination of the corps,
the poor Captain was terribly shaken by his ague.

I woke in the morning with inflamed throat, rheumatic limbs, and every
indication of chills and fever. Fogg whispered to me at breakfast that
two men of Reynold's brigade had died during the night, from fatigue and
exposure. He advised me to push forward to Washington and await the
arrival of the division, as, unused to the hardships of a march, I
might, after another day's experience, become dangerously ill. I set
out at five o'clock, resolving to ford the creek, resume the turnpike,
and reach Long Bridge at noon. Passing over some dozen fields in which
my horse at every step sank to the fetlocks, I travelled along the brink
of the stream till I finally reached a place that seemed to be shallow.
Bracing myself firmly in the saddle, I urged my unwilling horse into the
waters, and emerged half drowned on the other side. It happened,
however, that I had crossed only a branch of the creek and gained an
island. The main channel was yet to be attempted, and I saw that it was
deep, broad, and violent. I followed the margin despairingly for a
half-mile, when I came to a log footbridge, where I dismounted and swam
my horse through the turbulent waters. I had now so far diverged from
the turnpike that I was at a loss to recover it, but straying forlornly
through the woods, struck a wagon track at last, and pursued it
hopefully, until, to my confusion, it resolved itself to two tracks,
that went in contrary directions. My horse preferred taking to the left,
but after riding a full hour, I came to some felled trees, beyond which
the traces did not go. Returning, weak and bewildered, I adopted the
discarded route, which led me to a worm-fence at the edge of the woods.
A house lay some distance off, but a wheat-field intervened, and I might
bring the vengeance of the proprietor upon me by invading his domain.
There was no choice, however; so I removed the rails, and rode directly
across the wheat to some negro quarters, a little removed from the
mansion. They were deserted, all save one, where a black boy was singing
some negro hymns in an uproarious manner. The words, as I made them out,
were these:--

    "Stephen came a runnin',
      His Marster fur to see;
    But Gabriel says he is not yar';
      He gone to Calvary!
          O,--O,--Stephen, Stephen,
                Fur to see;
          Stephen, Stephen, get along up Calvary!"

I learned from this person two mortifying facts,--that I was farther
from Washington than at the beginning of my journey, and that the morrow
was Sunday. War, alas! knows no Sabbaths, and the negro said,
apologetically--

"I was a seyin' some ole hymns, young Mars'r. Sence dis yer war we don't
have no more meetin's, and a body mos' forgits his pra'rs. Dere hain't
been no church in all Fairfax, sah, fur nigh six months."

Washington was nineteen miles distant, and another creek was to be
forded before gaining the turnpike. The negro sauntered down the lane,
and opened the gate for me. "You jes keep from de creek, take de mill
road, and enqua' as ye get furder up," said he; "it's mighty easy, sah,
an' you can't miss de way."

I missed the way at once, however, by confounding the mill road with the
mill lane, and a shaggy dog that lay in a wagon shed pursued me about a
mile. The road was full of mire; no dwellings adjoined it, and nothing
human was to be seen in any direction. I came to a crumbling negro cabin
after two plodding hours, and, seeing a figure flit by the window,
called aloud for information. Nobody replied, and when, dismounting, I
looked into the den, it was, to my confusion, vacant.

The soil, hereabout, was of a sterile red clay, spotted with scrub
cedars. Country more bleak and desolate I have never known, and when, at
noon, the rain ceased, a keen wind blew dismally across the barriers. I
reached a turnpike at length, and, turning, as I thought, toward
Alexandria, goaded my horse into a canter. An hour's ride brought me to
a wretched hamlet, whose designation I inquired of a cadaverous old
woman--

"Drainesville," said she.

"Then I am not upon the Alexandria turnpike?"

"No. You're sot for Leesburg. This is the Georgetown and Chain Bridge
road."

With a heavy heart, I retraced my steps, crossed Chain Bridge at five
o'clock, and halted at Kirkwood's at seven. After dinner, falling in
with the manager of the Washington Sunday morning _Chronicle_, I penned,
at his request, a few lines relative to the movements of the Reserves;
and, learning in the morning that they had arrived at Alexandria, set
out on horseback for that city.

Many hamlets and towns have been destroyed during the war. But, of all
that in some form survive, Alexandria has most suffered. It has been in
the uninterrupted possession of the Federals for twenty-two months, and
has become essentially a military city. Its streets, its docks, its
warehouses, its dwellings, and its suburbs, have been absorbed to the
thousand uses of war.

I was challenged thrice on the Long Bridge, and five times on the road,
before reaching the city. I rode under the shadows of five earthworks,
and saw lines of white tents sweeping to the horizon. Gayly caparisoned
officers passed me, to spend their Sabbath in Washington, and trains
laden with troops, ambulances, and batteries, sped along the line of
railway, toward the rendezvous at Alexandria. A wagoner, looking
forlornly at his splintered wheels; a slovenly guard, watching some
bales of hay; a sombre negro, dozing upon his mule; a slatternly Irish
woman gossiping with a sergeant at her cottage door; a sutler in his
"dear-born," running his keen eye down the limbs of my beast; a spruce
civilian riding for curiosity; a gray-haired gentleman, in a threadbare
suit, going to camp on foot, to say good by to his boy,--these were some
of the personages that I remarked, and each was a study, a sermon, and a
story. The Potomac, below me, was dotted with steamers and shipping. The
bluffs above were trodden bare, and a line of dismal marsh bordered some
stagnant pools that blistered at their bases. At points along the
river-shore, troops were embarking on board steamers; transports were
taking in tons of baggage and subsistence. There was a schooner, laden
to the water-line with locomotive engines and burden carriages; there,
a brig, shipping artillery horses by a steam derrick, that lifted them
bodily from the shore and deposited them in the hold of the vessel.
Steamers, from whose spacious saloons the tourist and the bride have
watched the picturesque margin of the Hudson, were now black with
clusters of rollicking volunteers, who climbed into the yards, and
pitched headlong from the wheel-houses. The "grand movement," for which
the people had waited so long, and which McClellan had promised so
often, was at length to be made. The Army of the Potomac was to be
transferred to Fortress Monroe, at the foot of the Chesapeake, and to
advance by the peninsula of the James and the York, upon the city of
Richmond.

I rode through Washington Street, the seat of some ancient residences,
and found it lined with freshly arrived troops. The grave-slabs in a
fine old churchyard were strewn with weary cavalry-men, and they lay in
some side yards, soundly sleeping. Some artillery-men chatted at
doorsteps, with idle house-girls; some courtesans flaunted in furs and
ostrich feathers, through a group of coarse engineers; some sergeants of
artillery, in red trimmings, and caps gilded with cannon, were reining
their horses to leer at some ladies, who were taking the air in their
gardens; and at a wide place in the street, a Provost-Major was
manoeuvring some companies, to the sound of the drum and fife. There
was much drunkenness, among both soldiers and civilians; and the people
of Alexandria were, in many cases, crushed and demoralized by reason of
their troubles. One man of this sort led me to a sawmill, now run by
Government, and pointed to the implements.

"I bought 'em and earned 'em," he said. "My labor and enterprise set 'em
there; and while my mill and machinery are ruined to fill the pockets o'
Federal sharpers, I go drunk, ragged, and poor about the streets o' my
native town. My daughter starves in Richmond; God knows I can't get to
her. I wish to h----l I was dead."

Further inquiry developed the facts that my acquaintance had been a
thriving builder, who had dotted all Northeastern Virginia with
evidences of his handicraft. At the commencement of the war, he took
certain contracts from the Confederate government, for the construction
of barracks at Richmond and Manassas Junction; returning inopportunely
to Alexandria, he was arrested, and kept some time in Capitol-Hill
prison; he had not taken the oath of allegiance, consequently, he could
obtain no recompense for the loss of his mill property. Domestic
misfortunes, happening at the same time, so embittered his days that he
resorted to dissipation. Alexandria is filled with like ruined people;
they walk as strangers through their ancient streets, and their property
is no longer theirs to possess, but has passed into the hands of the
dominant nationalists. My informant pointed out the residences of many
leading citizens: some were now hospitals, others armories and arsenals;
others offices for inspectors, superintendents, and civil officials. The
few people that remained upon their properties, obtained partial
immunity, by courting the acquaintance of Federal officers, and, in many
cases, extending the hospitalities of their homes to the invaders. I do
not know that any Federal functionary was accused of tyranny, or
wantonness, but these things ensued, as the natural results of civil
war; and one's sympathies were everywhere enlisted for the poor, the
exiled, and the bereaved.

My dinner at the City Hotel was scant and badly prepared. I gave a negro
lad who waited upon me a few cents, but a burly negro carver, who seemed
to be his father, boxed the boy's ears and put the coppers into his
pocket. The proprietor of the place had voluntarily taken the oath of
allegiance, and had made more money since the date of Federal occupation
than during his whole life previously. He said to me, curtly, that if by
any chance the Confederates should reoccupy Alexandria, he could very
well afford to relinquish his property. He employed a smart barkeeper,
who led guests by a retired way to the drinking-rooms. Here, with the
gas burning at a taper point, cobblers, cocktails, and juleps were mixed
stealthily and swallowed in the darkness. The bar was like a mint to the
proprietor; he only feared discovery and prohibition. It would not
accord with the chaste pages of this narrative to tell how some of the
noblest residences in Alexandria had been desecrated to licentious
purposes; nor how, by night, the parlors of cosey homes flamed with riot
and orgie. I stayed but a little time, having written an indiscreet
paragraph in the Washington Chronicle, for which I was pursued by the
War Department, and the management of my paper, lacking heart, I went
home in a pet.



CHAPTER VI.

DOWN THE CHESAPEAKE.


Disappointed in the unlucky termination of my adventures afield, I now
looked ambitiously toward New York. As London stands to the provinces,
so stands the empire city to America. Its journals circulate by hundreds
of thousands; its means are only rivalled by its enterprise; it is the
end of every young American's aspiration, and the New Bohemia for the
restless, the brilliant, and the industrious. It seemed a great way off
when I first beheld it, but I did not therefore despair. Small matters
of news that I gathered in my modest city, obtained space in the columns
of the great metropolitan journal, the----. After a time I was delegated
to travel in search of special incidents, and finally, when the noted
Tennessee Unionist, "Parson" Brownlow, journeyed eastward, I joined his
_suite_, and accompanied him to New York. The dream of many months now
came to be realized. A correspondent on the ----'s staff had been
derelict, and I was appointed to his division. His horse, saddle,
field-glasses, blankets, and pistols were to be transferred, and I was
to proceed without delay to Fortress Monroe, to keep with the advancing
columns of McClellan.

At six in the morning I embarked; at eleven I was whirled through my own
city, without a glimpse of my friends; at three o'clock I dismounted at
Baltimore, and at five was gliding down the Patapsco, under the shadows
of Fort Federal Hill, and the white walls of Fort McHenry. The latter
defence is renowned for its gallant resistance to a British fleet in
1813, and the American national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," was
written to commemorate that bombardment. Fort Carroll, a massive
structure of hewn stone, with arched bomb-proof and three tiers of
mounted ordnance, its smooth walls washed by the waves, and its
unfinished floors still ringing with the trowel and the adze,--lies some
miles below, at a narrow passage in the stream. Below, the shores
diverge, and at dusk we were fairly in the Chesapeake, under steam and
sail, speeding due southward.

The _Adelaide_ was one of a series of boats making daily trips between
Baltimore and Old Point. Fourteen hours were required to accomplish the
passage, and we were not to arrive till seven o'clock next morning. I
was so fortunate as to obtain a state-room, but many passengers were
obliged to sleep upon sofas or the cabin floor. These boats monopolized
the civil traffic between the North and the army, although they were
reputed to be owned and managed by Secessionists. None were allowed to
embark unless provided with Federal passes; but there were,
nevertheless, three or four hundred people on board. About one fourth of
these were officers and soldiers; one half sutlers, traders,
contractors, newsmen, and idle civilians, anxious to witness a battle,
or stroll over the fields of Big Bethel, Lee's Mills, Yorktown,
Gloucester, Williamsburg, or West Point; the rest were females on
missions of mercy, on visits to sons, brothers, and husbands, and on the
way to their homes at Norfolk, Suffolk, or Hampton. Some of these were
citizens of Richmond, who believed that the Federals would occupy the
city in a few days, and enable them to resume their professions and
homes. The lower decks were occupied by negroes. The boat was heavily
freighted, and among the parcels that littered the hold and steerage, I
noticed scores of box coffins for the removal of corpses from the field
to the North. There were quantities of spirits, consigned mainly to
Quartermasters, but evidently the property of certain Shylocks, who
watched the barrels greedily. An embalmer was also on board, with his
ghostly implements. He was a sallow man, shabbily attired, and appeared
to look at all the passengers as so many subjects for the development of
his art. He was called "Doctor" by his admirers, and conversed in the
blandest manner of the triumphs of his system.

"There are certain pretenders," he said, "who are at this moment
imposing upon the Government. I regret that it is necessary to repeat
it, but the fact exists that the Government is the prey of harpies. And
in the art of which I am an humble disciple,--that of injecting,
commonly called embalming,--the frauds are most deplorable. There was
Major Montague,--a splendid subject, I assure you,--a subject that any
_Professor_ would have beautifully preserved,--a subject that one
esteems it a favor to obtain,--a subject that I in particular would have
been proud to receive! But what were the circumstances? I do assure you
that a person named Wigwart,--who I have since ascertained to be a
veterinary butcher; in plain language, a doctor of horses and
asses,--imposed upon the relatives of the deceased, obtained the body,
and absolutely ruined it!--absolutely _mangled_ it! I may say,
shamefully disfigured it! He was a man, sir, six feet two,--about your
height, I think! (to a bystander.) About your weight, also! Indeed quite
like you! And allow me to say that, if you should fall into my hands, I
would leave your friends no cause for offence! (Here the bystander
trembled perceptibly, and I thought that the doctor was about to take
his life.) Well! _I_ should have operated thus:--"

Then followed a description of the process, narrated with horrible
circumstantiality. A fluid holding in solution pounded glass and certain
chemicals, was, by the doctor's "system," injected into the
bloodvessels, and the subject at the same time bled at the neck. The
body thus became hard and stony, and would retain its form for years. He
had, by his account, experimented for a lifetime, and said that little
"Willie," the son of President Lincoln, had been so preserved that his
fond parents must have enjoyed his decease.

It seemed to me that the late lamented practitioners, Messrs. Burke and
Hare, were likely to fade into insignificance, beside this new light of
science.

I went upon deck for some moments, and marked the beating of the waves;
the glitter of sea-lights pulsing on the ripples; the sweep of belated
gulls through the creaking rigging; the dark hull of a passing vessel
with a grinning topmast lantern; the vigilant pilot, whose eyes glared
like a fiend's upon the waste of blackness; the foam that the panting
screw threw against the cabin windows; the flap of fishes caught in the
threads of moonlight; the depths over which one bent, peering half
wistfully, half abstractedly, almost crazily, till he longed to drop
into their coolness, and let the volumes of billow roll musically above
him.

A woman approached me, as I stood against the great anchor, thus
absorbed. She had a pale, thin face, and was scantily clothed, and spoke
with a distrustful, timorous voice:--

"You don't know the name of the surgeon-general, do you sir!"

"At Washington, ma'am?"

"No, sir; at Old Point."

I offered to inquire of the Captain: but she stopped me, agitatedly.
"It's of no consequence," she said,--"that is, it is of great
consequence to me; but perhaps it would be best to wait." I answered, as
obligingly as I could, that any service on my part would be cheerfully
rendered.

"The fact is, sir," she said, after a pause, "I am going to
Williamsburg, to--find--the--the body--of my--boy."

Here her speech was broken, and she put a thin, white hand tremulously
to her eyes. I thought that any person in the Federal service would
willingly assist her, and said so.

"He was not a Federal soldier, sir. He was a Confederate!"

This considerably altered the chances of success, and I was obliged to
undeceive her somewhat. "I am sure it was not my fault," she continued,
"that he joined the Rebellion. You don't think they'll refuse to let me
take his bones to Baltimore, do you, sir? He was my oldest boy, and his
brother, my second son, was killed at Ball's Bluff: _He_ was in the
Federal service. I hardly think they will refuse me the poor favor of
laying them in the same grave."

I spoke of the difficulty of recognition, of the remoteness of the
field, and of the expense attending the recovery of any remains,
particularly those of the enemy, that, left hastily behind in retreat,
were commonly buried in trenches without headboard or record. She said,
sadly, that she had very little money, and that she could barely afford
the journey to the Fortress and return. But she esteemed her means well
invested if her object could be attained.

"They were both brave boys, sir; but I could never get them to agree
politically. William was a Northerner by education, and took up with the
New England views, and James was in business at Richmond when the war
commenced. So he joined the Southern army. It's a sad thing to know that
one's children died enemies, isn't it? And what troubles me more than
all, sir, is that James was at Ball's Bluff where his brother fell. It
makes me shudder to think, sometimes, that his might have been the ball
that killed him."

The tremor of the poor creature here was painful to behold. I spoke
soothingly and encouragingly, but with a presentiment that she must be
disappointed. While I was speaking the supper-bell rang, and I proposed
to get her a seat at the table.

"No, thank you," she replied, "I shall take no meals on the vessel; I
must travel economically, and have prepared some lunch that will serve
me. Good by, sir!"

Poor mothers looking for dead sons! God help them! I have met them often
since; but the figure of that pale, frail creature flitting about the
open deck,--alone, hungry, very poor,--troubles me still, as I write. I
found, afterward, that she had denied herself a state-room, and intended
to sleep in a saloon chair. I persuaded her to accept my berth, but a
German, who occupied the same apartment, was unwilling to relinquish his
bed, and I had the power only to give her my pillow.

Supper was spread in the forecabin, and at the signal to assemble the
men rushed to the tables like as many beasts of prey. A captain opposite
me bolted a whole mackerel in a twinkling, and spread the half-pound of
butter that was to serve the entire vicinity upon a single slice of
bread. A sutler beside me reached his fork across my neck, and plucked a
young chicken bodily, which he ate, to the great disgust of some others
who were eyeing it. The waiter advanced with some steak, but before he
reached the table, a couple of Zouaves dragged it from the tray, and
laughed brutally at their success. The motion of the vessel caused a
general unsteadiness, and it was absolutely dangerous to move one's
coffee to his lips. The inveterate hate with which corporations are
regarded in America was here evidenced by a general desire to empty the
ship's larder.

"Eat all you can," said a soldier, ferociously,--"fare's amazin' high.
Must make it out in grub."

"I always gorges," said another, "on a railroad or a steamboat. Cause
why? You must eat out your passage, you know!"

Among the passengers were a young officer and his bride. They had been
married only a few days, and she had obtained permission to accompany
him to Old Point. Very pretty, she seemed, in her travelling hat and
flowing robes; and he wore a handsome new uniform with prodigious
shoulder-bars. There was a piano in the saloon, where another young lady
of the party performed during the evening, and the bride and groom
accompanied her with a song. It was the popular Federal parody of "Gay
and Happy:"

    "Then let the South fling aloft what it will,--
    We are for the Union still!
        For the Union! For the Union!
    We are for the Union still!"

The bride and groom sang alternate stanzas, and the concourse of
soldiers, civilians, and females swelled the chorus. The reserve being
thus broken, the young officer sang the "Star-Spangled Banner," and the
refrain must have called up the mermaids. Dancing ensued, and a soldier
volunteered a hornpipe. A young man with an astonishing compass of lungs
repeated something from Shakespeare, and the night passed by gleefully
and reputably. One could hardly realize, in the cheerful eyes and active
figures of the dance, the sad uncertainties of the time. Youth trips
lightest, somehow, on the brink of the grave.

The hilarities of the evening so influenced the German quartered with
me, that he sang snatches of foreign ballads during most of the night,
and obliged me, at last, to call the steward and insist upon his good
behavior.

In the gray of the morning I ventured on deck, and, following the
silvery line of beach, made out the shipping at anchor in Hampton Roads.
The _Minnesota_ flag-ship lay across the horizon, and after a time I
remarked the low walls and black derricks of the Rip Raps. The white
tents at Hampton were then revealed, and finally I distinguished
Fortress Monroe, the key of the Chesapeake, bristling with guns, and
floating the Federal flag. As we rounded to off the quay, I studied with
intense interest the scene of so many historic events. Sewall's Point
lay to the south, a stretch of woody beach, around whose western tip
the dreaded _Merrimac_ had so often moved slowly to the encounter. The
spars of the _Congress_ and the _Cumberland_ still floated along the
strand, but, like them, the invulnerable monster had become the prey of
the waves. The guns of the Rip Raps and the terrible broadsides of the
Federal gunboats, had swept the Confederates from Sewall's Point,--their
flag and battery were gone,--and farther seaward, at Willoughby Spit,
some figures upon the beach marked the route of the victorious Federals
to the city of Norfolk.

The mouth of the James and the York were visible from the deck, and long
lines of shipping stretched from each to the Fortress. The quay itself
was like the pool in the Thames, a mass of spars, smoke-stacks, ensigns
and swelling hills. The low deck and quaint cupola of the famous
_Monitor_ appeared close into shore, and near at hand rose the thick
body of the _Galena_. Long boats and flat boats went hither and thither
across the blue waves: the grim ports of the men of war were open and
the guns frowned darkly from their coverts; the seamen were gathering
for muster on the flagship, and drums beat from the barracks on shore;
the Lincoln gun, a fearful piece of ordnance, rose like the Sphynx from
the Fortress sands, and the sodded parapet, the winding stone walls, the
tops of the brick quarters within the Fort, were some of the features of
a strangely animated scene, that has yet to be perpetuated upon canvas,
and made historic.

At eight o'clock the passengers were allowed to land, and a provost
guard marched them to the Hygeia House,--of old a watering-place
hotel,--where, by groups, they were ushered into a small room, and the
oath of allegiance administered to them. The young officer who
officiated, repeated the words of the oath, with a broad grin upon his
face, and the passengers were required to assent by word and by gesture.
Among those who took the oath in this way, was a very old sailor, who
had been in the Federal service for the better part of his life, and
whose five sons were now in the army. He called "Amen" very loudly and
fervently, and there was some perceptible disposition on the part of
other ardent patriots, to celebrate the occasion with three cheers. The
quartermaster, stationed at the Fortress gave me a pass to go by steamer
up the York to White House, and as there were three hours to elapse
before departure, I strolled about the place with our agent. In times of
peace, Old Point was simply a stone fortification, and one of the
strongest of its kind in the world. Many years and many millions of
dollars were required to build it, but it was, in general, feebly
garrisoned, and was, altogether, a stupid, tedious locality, except in
the bathing months, when the beauty and fashion of Virginia resorted to
its hotel. A few cottages had grown up around it, tenanted only in "the
season;" and a little way off, on the mainland, stood the pretty village
of Hampton.

By a strange oversight, the South failed to seize Fortress Monroe at the
beginning of the Rebellion; the Federals soon made it the basis for
their armies and a leading naval station. The battle of Big Bethel was
one of the first occurrences in the vicinity. Then the dwellings of
Hampton were burned and its people exiled. In rapid succession followed
the naval battles in the Roads, the siege and surrender of Yorktown, the
flight of the Confederates up the Peninsula to Richmond, and finally the
battles of Williamsburg, and West Point, and the capture of Norfolk.
These things had already transpired; it was now the month of May; and
the victorious army, following up its vantages, had pursued the
fugitives by land and water to "White House," at the head of navigation
on the Pamunkey river. Thither it was my lot to go, and witness the
turning-point of their fortunes, and their subsequent calamity and
repulse.

I found Old Point a weary place of resort, even in the busy era of civil
war. The bar at the Hygeia House was beset with thirsty and idle
people, who swore instinctively, and drank raw spirits passionately. The
quantity of shell, ball, ordnance, camp equipage, and war munitions of
every description piled around the fort, was marvellously great. It
seemed to me that Xerxes, the first Napoleon, or the greediest of
conquerors, ancient or modern, would have beheld with amazement the
gigantic preparations at command of the Federal Government. Energy and
enterprise displayed their implements of death on every hand. One was
startled at the prodigal outlay of means, and the reckless summoning of
men. I looked at the starred and striped ensign that flaunted above the
Fort, and thought of Madame Roland's appeal to the statue by the
guillotine.

The settlers were numbered by regiments here. Their places of business
were mainly structures or "shanties" of rough plank, and most of them
were the owners of sloops, or schooners, for the transportation of
freight from New York, Philadelphia, or Baltimore, to their depots at
Old Point. Some possessed a dozen wagons, that plied regularly between
these stores and camps. The traffic was not confined to men; for women
and children kept pace with the army, trading in every possible article
of necessity or luxury. For these--disciples of the dime and the
dollar--war had no terrors. They took their muck-rakes, like the man in
Bunyan, and gathered the almighty coppers, from the pestilential camp
and the reeking battle-field.



CHAPTER VII.

ON TO RICHMOND.


Yorktown lies twenty-one miles northwestward from Old Point, and thither
I turned my face at noon, resolving to delay my journey to "White
House," till next day morning. Crossing an estuary of the bay upon a
narrow causeway, I passed Hampton,--half burned, half desolate,--and at
three o'clock came to "Big Bethel," the scene of the battle of June 11,
1861. A small earthwork marks the site of Magruder's field-pieces, and
hard by the slain were buried. The spot was noteworthy to me, since
Lieutenant Greble, a fellow alumnus, had perished here, and likewise,
Theodore Winthrop, the gifted author of "Cecil Dreeme" and "John Brent."
The latter did not live to know his exaltation. That morning never came
whereon he "woke, and found himself famous."

The road ran parallel with the deserted defences of the Confederates for
some distance. The country was flat and full of swamps, but marked at
intervals by relics of camps. The farm-houses were untenanted, the
fences laid flat or destroyed, the fields strewn with discarded
clothing, arms, and utensils. By and by, we entered the outer line of
Federal parallels, and wound among lunettes, crémaillères, redoubts, and
rifle-pits. Marks of shell and ball were frequent, in furrows and holes,
where the clay had been upheaved. Every foot of ground, for fifteen
miles henceforward, had been touched by the shovel and the pick. My
companion suggested that as much digging, concentred upon one point,
would have taken the Federals to China. The sappers and miners had made
their stealthy trenches, rod by rod, each morning appearing closer to
their adversaries, and finally, completed their work, at less than a
hundred yards from the Confederate defences. Three minutes would have
sufficed from the final position, to hurl columns upon the opposing
outworks, and sweep them with the bayonet. Ten days only had elapsed
since the evacuation (May 4), and the siege guns still remained in some
of the batteries. McClellan worshipped great ordnance, and some of his
columbiads, that were mounted in the water battery, yawned cavernously
through their embrasures, and might have furnished sleeping
accommodations to the gunners. A few mortars stood in position by the
river side, and there were Parrott, Griffin, and Dahlgren pieces in the
shore batteries.

However numerous and powerful were the Federal fortifications, they bore
no comparison, in either respect, to those relinquished by the
revolutionists. Miniature mountain ranges they seemed, deeply ditched,
and revetted with sods, fascines, hurdles, gabions or sand bags. Along
the York riverside there were water batteries of surpassing beauty, that
seemed, at a little distance, successions of gentle terraces. Their
pieces were likewise of enormous calibre, and their number almost
incredible. The advanced line of fortifications, sketched from the mouth
of Warwick creek, on the South, to a point fifteen miles distant on the
York: one hundred and forty guns were planted along this chain of
defences; but there were two other concentric lines, mounting, each, one
hundred and twenty, and two hundred and forty guns. The remote series
consisted of six forts of massive size and height, fronted by swamps and
flooded meadows, with frequent creeks and ravines interposing; sharp
_fraise_ and _abattis_ planted against scarp and slope, pointed cruelly
eastward. There were two water batteries, of six and four thirty-two
columbiads respectively, and the town itself, which stands upon a red
clay bluff, was encircled by a series of immense rifled and smooth-bore
pieces, including a powerful pivot-gun, that one of McClellan's shells
struck during the first day's bombardment, and split it into fragments.
At Gloucester Point, across the York river, the great guns of the
_Merrimac_ were planted, it is said, and a fleet of fire-rafts and
torpedo-ships were moored in the stream. By all accounts, there could
have been no less than five hundred guns behind the Confederate
entrenchments, the greater portion, of course, field-pieces, and, as the
defending army was composed of one hundred thousand men, we must add
that number of small arms to the list of ordnance. If we compute the
Federals at so high a figure,--and they could scarcely have had less
than a hundred thousand men afield,--we must increase the enormous
amount of their field, siege, and small ordnance, by the naval guns of
the fleet, that stood anchored in the bay. It is probable that a
thousand cannon and two hundred thousand muskets were assembled in and
around Yorktown during this memorable siege. The mind shudders to see
the terrible deductions of these statistics. The monster, who wished
that the world had but one neck, that he might sever it, would have
gloated at such realization! How many days or hours would have here
sufficed to annihilate all the races of men? Happily, the world was
spared the spectacle of these deadly mouths at once aflame. Beautiful
but awful must have been the scene, and the earth must have staggered
with the shock. One might almost have imagined that man, in his
ambition, had shut his God in heaven, and besieged him there.

While the fortifications defending it amazed me, the village of Yorktown
disappointed me. I marvelled that so paltry a settlement should have
been twice made historic. Here, in the year 1783, Lord Cornwallis
surrendered his starving command to the American colonists and their
French allies. But the entrenchments of that earlier day had been
almost obliterated by these recent labors. The field, where the Earl
delivered up his sword, was trodden bare, and dotted with ditches and
ramparts; while a small monument, that marked the event, had been hacked
to fragments by the Southerners, and carried away piecemeal. Yet,
strange to say, relics of the first bombardment had just been
discovered, and, among them, a gold-hilted sword.

I visited, in the evening, the late quarters of General Hill, a small
white house with green shutters, and also the famous "Nelson House," a
roomy mansion where, of old, Cornwallis slept, and where, a few days
past, Jefferson Davis and General Lee had held with Magruder, and his
associates, a council of war. It had been also used for hospital
purposes, but some negroes were now the only occupants.

The Confederates left behind them seventy spiked and shattered cannon,
some powder, and a few splintered wagons; but in all material respects,
their evacuation was thorough and creditable. Some deserters took the
first tidings of the retreat to the astonished Federals, and they raised
the national flag within the fortifications, in the gray of the morning
of the 4th of May. Many negroes also escaped the vigilance of their
taskmasters, and remained to welcome the victors. The fine works of
Yorktown are monuments to negro labor, for _they_ were the hewers and
the diggers. Every slave-owner in Eastern Virginia was obliged to send
one half of his male servants between the ages of sixteen and fifty to
the Confederate camps, and they were organized into gangs and set to
work. In some cases they were put to military service and made excellent
sharpshooters. The last gun discharged from the town was said to have
been fired by a negro.

I slept on board a barge at the wharf that evening, and my dreams ran
upon a thousand themes. To every American this was hallowed ground. It
had been celebrated by the pencil of Trumbull, the pen of Franklin, and
the eloquence of Jefferson. Scarce eighty years had elapsed since those
great minds established a fraternal government; but the site of their
crowning glory was now the scene of their children's shame. Discord had
stolen upon their councils and blood had profaned their shrine.

I visited next day a bomb-proof postern, or subterranean passage,
connecting the citadel with the outworks, and loitered about the
fortifications till noon, when I took passage on the mail steamer, which
left the Fortress at eleven o'clock, and reached White House at dusk the
same evening. The whole river as I ascended was filled with merchant and
naval craft. They made a continuous line from Old Point to the mouth of
York River, and the masts and spars environing Yorktown and Gloucester,
reminded one of a scene on the Mersey or the Clyde. At West Point, there
was an array of shipping scarcely less formidable, and the windings of
the interminably crooked Pamunkey were marked for leagues by sails,
smoke-stacks, and masts. The landings and wharves were besieged by
flat-boats and sloops, and Zouaves were hoisting forage and commissary
stores up the red bluffs at every turn of our vessel.

The Pamunkey was a beautiful stream, densely wooded, and occasional
vistas opened up along its borders of wheat-fields and meadows, with
Virginia farm-houses and negro quarters on the hilltops. Some of the
houses on the river banks appeared to be tenanted by white people, but
the majority had a haunted, desolate appearance, the only signs of life
being strolling soldiers, who thrust their legs through the second story
windows, or contemplated the river from the chimney-tops, and groups of
negroes who sunned themselves on the piazza, or rushed to the margin to
gaze and grin at the passing steamers. There were occasional residences
not unworthy of old manorial and baronial times, and these were attended
at a little distance by negro quarters of logs, arranged in rows, and
provided with mud chimneys built against their gables. Few of the
Northern navigable rivers were so picturesque and varied.

We passed two Confederate gunboats, that had been half completed, and
burned on the stocks. Their charred elbows and ribs, stared out, like
the remains of some extinct monsters; a little delay might have found
each of them armed and manned, and carrying havoc upon the rivers and
the seas. West Point was simply a tongue, or spit of land, dividing the
Mattapony from the Pamunkey river at their junction; a few houses were
built upon the shallow, and some wharves, half demolished, marked the
terminus of the York and Richmond railroad. A paltry water-battery was
the sole defence. Below Cumberland (a collection of huts and a wharf), a
number of schooners had been sunk across the river, and, with the aid of
an island in the middle, these constituted a rather rigid blockade. The
steamboat passed through, steering carefully, but some sailing vessels
that followed required to be towed between the narrow apertures. The
tops only of the sunken masts could be discerned above the surface, and
much time and labor must have been required to place the boats in line
and sink them. Vessels were counted by scores above and below this
blockade, and at Cumberland the masts were like a forest; clusters of
pontoons were here anchored in the river, and a short distance below we
found three of the light-draught Federal gunboats moored in the stream.
It was growing dark as we rounded to at "White House;" the camp fires of
the grand army lit up the sky, and edged the tree-boughs on the margin
with ribands of silver. Some drums beat in the distance; sentries paced
the strand; the hum of men, and the lowing of commissary cattle, were
borne towards us confusedly; soldiers were bathing in the river;
team-horses were drinking at the brink; a throng of motley people were
crowding about the landing to receive the papers and mails. I had at
last arrived at the seat of war, and my ambition to chronicle battles
and bloodshed was about to be gratified.

At first, I was troubled to make my way; the tents had just been
pitched; none knew the location of divisions other than their own, and
it was now so dark that I did not care to venture far. After a vain
attempt to find some flat-boats where there were lodgings and meals to
be had, I struck out for general head-quarters, and, undergoing repeated
snubbings from pert members of staff, fell in at length, with a very
tall, spare, and angular young officer, who spoke broken English, and
who heard my inquiries, courteously; he stepped into General Marcy's
tent, but the Chief of Staff did not know the direction of Smith's
division; he then repaired to Gen. Van Vleet, the chief Quartermaster,
but with ill success. A party of officers were smoking under a "fly,"
and some of these called to him, thus--

"Captain! Duke! De Chartres! What do you wish?"

It was, then, the Orleans Prince who had befriended me, and I had the
good fortune to hear that the division, of which I was in search, lay a
half mile up the river. I never spoke to the Bourbon afterward, but saw
him often; and that he was as chivalrous as he was kind, all testimony
proved.

A private escorted me to a Captain Mott's tent, and this officer
introduced me to General Hancock. I was at once invited to mess with the
General's staff, and in the course of an hour felt perfectly at home.
Hancock was one of the handsomest officers in the army; he had served in
the Mexican war, and was subsequently a Captain in the Quartermaster's
department. But the Rebellion placed stars in many shoulder-bars, and
few were more worthily designated than this young Pennsylvanian. His
first laurels were gained at Williamsburg; but the story of a celebrated
charge that won him the day's applause, and McClellan's encomium of the
"Superb Hancock," was altogether fictitious. The musket, not the
bayonet, gave him the victory. I may doubt, in this place, that any
extensive bayonet charge has been known during the war. Some have gone
so far as to deny that the bayonet has ever been used at all.

Hancock's regiments were the 5th Wisconsin, 49th Pennsylvanian, 43d New
York, and 6th Maine. They represented widely different characteristics,
and I esteemed myself fortunate to obtain a position where I could so
eligibly study men, habits, and warfare. During the evening I fell in
with the Colonel of each of these regiments, and from the conversation
that ensued, I gleaned a fair idea of them all.

The Wisconsin regiment was from a new and ambitious State of the
Northwest. The men were rough-mannered, great-hearted farmers,
wood-choppers, and tradesmen. They had all the impulsiveness of the
Yankee, with less selfishness, and quite as much bravery. The Colonel
was named Cobb, and he had held some leading offices in Wisconsin. A
part of his life had been adventurously spent, and he had participated
in the Mexican war. He was an ardent Republican in politics, and had
been Speaker of a branch of the State Legislature. He was an attorney in
a small county town when the war commenced, and his name had been
broached for the Governorship. In person he was small, lithe, and
capable of enduring great fatigue. His hair was a little gray, and he
had no beard. He did not respect appearances, and his sword, as I saw,
was antique and quite different in shape from the regulation weapon. He
had penetrating gray eyes, and his manners were generally reserved. One
had not to regard him twice to see that he was both cautious and
resolute. He was too ambitious to be frank, and too passionate not to be
brave. In the formula of learning he was not always correct; but few
were of quicker perception or more practical and philosophic. He might
not, in an emergency, be nicely scrupulous as to means, but he never
wavered in respect to objects. His will was the written law to his
regiment, and I believed his executive abilities superior to those of
any officer in the brigade, not excepting the General's.

The New York regiment was commanded by a young officer named Vinton. He
was not more than thirty-five years of age, and was a graduate of the
United States Military Academy. Passionately devoted to engineering, he
withdrew from the army, and passed five years in Paris, at the study of
his art. Returning homeward by way of the West Indies, he visited
Honduras, and projected a filibustering expedition to its shores from
the States. While perfecting the design, the Rebellion commenced, and
his old patron, General Scott, secured him the colonelcy of a volunteer
regiment. He still cherished his scheme of "Colonization," and half of
his men were promised to accompany him. Personally, Colonel Vinton was
straight, dark, and handsome. He was courteous, affable, and brave,--but
wedded to his peculiar views, and, as I thought, a thorough "Young
American."

The Maine regiment was fathered by Colonel Burnham, a staunch old yeoman
and soldier, who has since been made a General. His probity and
good-nature were adjuncts of his valor, and his men were of the better
class of New Englanders. The fourth regiment fell into the hands of a
lawyer from Lewistown, Pennsylvania. He had been also in the Mexican
war, and was remarkable mainly for strictness with regard to the
sanitary regulations of his camps. He had wells dug at every stoppage,
and his tents were generally fenced and canopied with cedar arbors.
General Hancock's staff was composed of a number of young men, most of
whom had been called from civil life. His brigade constituted one of
three commanded by General Smith. Four batteries were annexed to the
division so formed; the entire number of muskets was perhaps eight
thousand. The Chief of Artillery was a Captain Ayres, whose battery
saved the three months' army at Bull Run. It so happened that he came
into the General's during the evening, and recited the particulars of a
gunboat excursion, thirty miles up the Pamunkey, wherein he had landed
his men, and burned a quantity of grain, some warehouses, and shipping.
I pencilled the facts at once, made up my letter, and mailed it early in
the morning.



CHAPTER VIII.

RUSTICS IN REBELLION.


At White House, I met some of the mixed Indians and negroes from
Indiantown Island, which lies among the osiers in the stream. One of
these ferried me over, and the people received me obsequiously, touching
their straw hats, and saying, "Sar, at your service!" They were all
anxious to hear something of the war, and asked, solicitously, if they
were to be protected. Some of them had been to Richmond the previous
day, and gave me some unimportant items happening in the city. I found
that they had Richmond papers of that date, and purchased them for a few
cents. They knew little or nothing of their own history, and had
preserved no traditions of their tribe. There was, however, I
understood, a very old woman extant, named "Mag," of great repute at
medicines, pow-wows, and divination. I expressed a desire to speak with
her, and was conducted to a log-house, more ricketty and ruined than any
of the others. About fifty half-breeds followed me in respectful
curiosity, and they formed a semicircle around the cabin. The old woman
sat in the threshold, barefooted, and smoking a stump of clay pipe.

"Yaw's one o' dem Nawden soldiers, Aunt Mag!" said my conductor. "He
wants to talk wid ye."

"Sot down, honey," said the old woman, producing a wooden stool; "is you
a Yankee, honey? Does you want you fauchun told by de ole 'oman?"

I perceived that the daughter of the Delawares smelt strongly of
fire-water, and the fumes of her calumet were most unwholesome. She was
greatly disappointed that I did not require her prophetic services, and
said, appealingly--

"Why, sar, all de gen'elmen an' ladies from Richmond has dere fauchuns
told. I tells 'em true. All my fauchuns comes out true. Ain't dat so,
chillen?"

A low murmur of assent ran round the group, and I was obviously losing
caste in the settlement.

"Here is a dime," said I, "that I will give you, to tell me the result
of the war. Shall the North be victorious in the next battle? Will
Richmond surrender within a week? Shall I take my cigar at the Spotswood
on Sunday fortnight?"

"I'se been a lookin' into dat," she said, cunningly; "I'se had dreams on
dat ar'. Le'um see how de armies stand!"

She brought from the house a cup of painted earthenware containing
sediments of coffee. I saw her crafty white eyes look up to mine as she
muttered some jargon, and pretended to read the arrangement of the
grains.

"Honey," she said, "gi' me de money, and let de ole 'oman dream on it
once mo'! It ain't quite clar' yit, young massar. Tank you, honey! Tank
you! Let de old 'oman dream! Let de ole 'oman dream!"

She disappeared into the house, chuckling and chattering, and the sons
of the forest, loitering awhile, dispersed in various directions. As I
followed my conductor to the riverside, and he parted the close bushes
and boughs to give us exit, the glare of the camp-fires broke all at
once upon us. The ship-lights quivered on the water; the figures of men
moved to and fro before the fagots; the stars peeped timorously from the
vault; the woods and steep banks were blackly shadowed in the river.
Here was I, among the aborigines; and as my dusky acquaintance sent his
canoe skimming across the ripples, I thought how inexplicable were the
decrees of Time and the justice of God. Two races united in these
people, and both of them we had wronged. From the one we had taken
lands; from the other liberties. Two centuries had now elapsed. But the
little remnant of the African and the American were to look from their
Island Home upon the clash of our armies and the murder of our braves.

By the 19th of May the skirts of the grand army had been gathered up,
and on the 20th the march to Richmond was resumed. The troops moved
along two main roads, of which the right led to New Mechanicsville and
Meadow Bridges, and the left to the railroad and Bottom Bridges. My
division formed the right centre, and although the Chickahominy fords
were but eighteen miles distant, we did not reach them for three days.
On the first night we encamped at Tunstalls, a railroad-station on Black
Creek; on the second at New Cold Harbor, a little country tavern, kept
by a cripple; and on the night of the third day at Hogan's farm, on the
north hills of the Chickahominy. The railroad was opened to Despatch
Station at the same time, but the right and centre were still compelled
to "team" their supplies from White House. In the new position, the army
extended ten miles along the Chickahominy hills; and while the engineers
were driving pile, tressel, pontoon, and corduroy bridges, the cavalry
was scouring the country, on both flanks, far and wide.

The advance was full of incident, and I learned to keep as far in front
as possible, that I might communicate with scouts, contrabands, and
citizens. Many odd personages were revealed to me at the farm-houses on
the way, and I studied, with curious interest, the native Virginian
character. They appeared to be compounds of the cavalier and the boor.
There was no old gentleman who owned a thousand barren acres, spotted
with scrub timber; who lived in a weather-beaten barn, with a
multiplicity of porch and a quantity of chimney; whose means bore no
proportion to his pride, and neither to his indolence,--that did not
talk of his ancestry, proffer his hospitality, and defy me to an
argument. I was a civilian,--they had no hostility to me,--but the
blue-coats of the soldiers seared their eyeballs. In some cases their
daughters remained upon the property; but the sons and the negroes
always fled,--though in contrary directions. The old men used to peep
through the windows at the passing columns; and as their gates were
wrenched from the hinges, their rails used to pry wagons out of the mud,
their pump-handles shaken till the buckets splintered in the shaft, and
their barns invaded by greasy agrarians, they walked to and fro,
half-weakly, half-wrathfully, but with a pluck, fortitude, and devotion
that wrung my respect. Some aged negro women commonly remained, but
these were rather incumbrances than aids, and they used the family meal
to cook bread for the troops. An old, toothless, grinning African stood
at every lane and gate, selling buttermilk and corn-cakes. Poor mortal,
sinful old women! They had worked for nothing through their three-score
and ten, but avarice glared from their shrivelled pupils, and their last
but greatest delight lay in the coppers and the dimes. One would have
thought that they had outlived the greed of gold; but wages deferred
make the dying miserly.

The lords of the manors were troubled to know the number of our troops.
For several days the columns passed with their interminable teams,
batteries, and adjuncts, and the old gentlemen were loth to compute us
at less than several millions.

"Why, look yonder," said one, pointing to a brigade; "I declar' to
gracious, there ain't no less than ten thousand in _them_!"

"Tousands an' tousands!" said a wondering negro at his elbow. "I wonda
if dey'll take Richmond dis yer day?"

Many of them hung white flags at their gate-posts, implying neutrality;
but nobody displayed the Federal colors. If there were any covert
sympathizers with the purposes of the army, they remembered the
vengeance of the neighbors and made no demonstrations. There was a
prodigious number of stragglers from the Federal lines, as these were
the bane of the country people. They sauntered along by twos and threes,
rambling into all the fields and green-apple orchards, intruding their
noses into old cabins, prying into smoke-houses, and cellars, looking at
the stock in the stables, and peeping on tiptoe into the windows of
dwellings. These stragglers were true exponents of Yankee
character,--always wanting to know,--averse to discipline, eccentric in
their orbits, entertaining profound contempt for everything that was not
up to the measure of "to hum."

"Look here, Bill, I say!" said one, with a great grin on his face; "did
you ever, neow! I swan! they call that a plough down in these parts."

"Devilishest people I ever see!" said Bill, "stick their meetin'-houses
square in the woods! Build their chimneys first and move the houses up
to 'em! All the houses breakin' out in perspiration of porch! All their
machinery with Noah in the ark! Pump the soil dry! Go to sleep a milkin'
a keow! Depend entirely on Providence and the nigger!"

There was a mill on the New Bridge road, ten miles from White House,
with a tidy farm-house, stacks, and cabins adjoining. The road crossed
the mill-race by a log bridge, and a spreading pond or dam lay to the
left,--the water black as ink, the shore sandy, and the stream
disappearing in a grove of straight pines. A youngish woman, with
several small children, occupied the dwelling, and there remained,
besides, her fat sister-in-law and four or five faithful negroes. I
begged the favor of a meal and bed in the place one night, and shall not
forget the hospitable table with its steaming biscuit; the chubby baby,
perched upon his high stool; the talkative elderly woman, who took
snuff at the fireplace; the contented black-girl, who played the Hebe;
and above all, the trim, plump, pretty hostess, with her brown eyes and
hair, her dignity and her fondness, sitting at the head of the board.
When she poured the bright coffee into the capacious bowl, she revealed
the neatest of hands and arms, and her dialect was softer and more
musical than that of most Southerners. In short, I fell almost in love
with her; though she might have been a younger playmate of my mother's,
and though she was the wife of a Quartermaster in a Virginia regiment.
For, somehow, a woman seems very handsome when one is afield; and the
contact of rough soldiers, gives him a partiality for females. It must
have required some courage to remain upon the farm; but she hoped
thereby to save the property from spoliation. I played a game of whist
with the sister-in-law, arguing all the while; and at nine o'clock the
servant produced some hard cider, shellbarks, and apples. We drank a
cheery toast: "an early peace and old fellowship!"--to which the wife
added a sentiment of "always welcome," and the baby laughed at her knee.
How brightly glowed the fire! I wanted to linger for a week, a month, a
year,--as I do now, thinking it all over,--and when I strolled to the
porch,--hearing the pigeons cooing at the barn; the water streaming down
the dam; the melancholy monotony of the pine boughs;--there only lacked
the humming mill-wheel, and the strong grip of the miller's hand, to
fill the void corner of one's happy heart.

But this was a time of war, when dreams are rudely broken, and mine
could not last. The next day some great wheels beat down the bridge, and
the teams clogged the road for miles; the waiting teamsters saw the
miller's sheep, and the geese, chickens, and pigs, rashly exposed
themselves in the barnyard; these were killed and eaten, the mill
stripped of flour and meal, and the garden despoiled of its vegetables.
A quartermaster's horse foundered, and he demanded the miller's, giving
therefor a receipt, but specifying upon the same the owner's relation to
the Rebellion; and, to crown all, a group of stragglers, butchered the
cows, and heaped the beef in their wagons to feed their regimental
friends. When I presented myself, late in the afternoon, the yard and
porches were filled with soldiers; the wife sat within, her head thrown
upon the window, her bright hair unbound, and her eyes red with weeping.
The baby had cried itself to sleep, the sister-in-law took snuff
fiercely, at the fire; the black girl cowered in a corner.

"There is not bread in the house for my children," she said; "but I did
not think they could make me shed a tear."

If there were Spartan women, as the story-books say, I wonder if their
blood died with them! I hardly think so.

If I learned anything from my quiet study of this and subsequent
campaigns, it was the heartlessness of war. War brutalizes! The most
pitiful become pitiless afield, and those who are not callous, must do
cruel duties. If the quartermaster had not seized the horses, he would
have been accountable for his conduct; had he failed to state the
miller's disloyalty in the receipt, he would have been punished. The men
were thieves and brutes, to take the meal and meat; but they were
perhaps hungry and weary, and sick of camp food; on the whole, I became
a devotee of the George Fox faith, and hated warfare, though I knew
nothing to substitute for it, in _crises_.

Besides, the optimist might have seen much to admire. Individual merits
were developed around me; I saw shop-keepers and mechanics in the ranks,
and they looked to be better men. Here were triumphs of engineering;
there perfections of applied ingenuity. I saw how the weakest natures
girt themselves for great resolves, and how fortitude outstripped
itself. It is a noble thing to put by the fear of death. It was a grand
spectacle, this civil soldiery of both sections, supporting their
principles, ambitions, or whatever instigated them, with their bodies;
and their bones, lie where they will, must be severed, when the
plough-share some day heaves them to the ploughman.

One morning a friend asked me to go upon a scout.

"Where are your companies?" said I.

"There are four behind, and we shall be joined by six at Old Cold
Harbor."

I saw, in the rear, filing through a belt of woods, the tall figures of
the horsemen, approaching at a canter.

"Do you command?" said I again.

"No! the Major has charge of the scout, and his orders are secret."

I wheeled beside him, as the cavalry closed up, waved my hand to
Plumley, and the girls, and went forward to the rendezvous, about six
miles distant. The remaining companies of the regiment were here drawn
up, watering their nags. The Major was a thick, sunburnt man, with
grizzled beard, and as he saw us rounding a corner of hilly road, his
voice rang out--

"Attention! Prepare to mount!"

Every rider sprang to his nag; every nag walked instinctively to his
place; every horseman made fast his girths, strapped his blankets
tightly, and lay his hands upon bridle-rein and pommel.

"Attention! Mount!"

The riders sprang to their seats; the bugles blew a lively strain; the
horses pricked up their ears; and the long array moved briskly forward,
with the Captain, the Major, and myself at the head. We were joined in a
moment by two pieces of flying artillery, and five fresh companies of
cavalry. In a moment more we were underway again, galloping due
northward, and, as I surmised, toward Hanover Court House. If any branch
of the military service is feverish, adventurous, and exciting, it is
that of the cavalry. One's heart beats as fast as the hoof-falls; there
is no music like the winding of the bugle, and no monotone so full of
meaning as the clink of sabres rising and falling with the dashing pace.
Horse and rider become one,--a new race of Centaurs,--and the charge,
the stroke, the crack of carbines, are so quick, vehement, and dramatic,
that we seem to be watching the joust of tournaments or following fierce
Saladins and Crusaders again. We had ridden two hours at a fair canter,
when we came to a small stream that crossed the road obliquely, and
gurgled away through a sandy valley into the deepnesses of the woods. A
cart-track, half obliterated, here diverged, running parallel with the
creek, and the Major held up his sword as a signal to halt; at the same
moment the bugle blew a quick, shrill note.

"There are hoof-marks here!" grunted the Major,--"five of 'em.
The Dutchman has gone into the thicket. Hulloo!" he added,
precipitately--"there go the carbines!"

I heard, clearly, two explosions in rapid succession; then a general
discharge, as of several persons firing at once, and at last, five
continuous reports, fainter, but more regular, and like the several
emptyings of a revolver. I had scarcely time to note these things, and
the effect produced upon the troop, when strange noises came from the
woods to the right: the floundering of steeds, the cries and curses of
men, and the ringing of steel striking steel. Directly the boughs
crackled, the leaves quivered, and a horse and rider plunged into the
road, not five rods from my feet. The man was bareheaded, and his face
and clothing were torn with briars and branches. He was at first riding
fairly upon our troops, when he beheld the uniform and standards, and
with a sharp oath flung up his sword and hands.

"I surrender!" he said; "I give in! Don't shoot!"

The scores of carbines that were levelled upon him at once dropped to
their rests at the saddles; but some unseen avenger had not heeded the
shriek; a ball whistled from the woods, and the man fell from his
cushion like a stone. In another instant, the German sergeant bounded
through the gap, holding his sabre aloft in his right hand; but the left
hung stiff and shattered at his side, and his face was deathly white. He
glared an instant at the dead man by the roadside, leered grimly, and
called aloud--

"Come on, Major! Dis vay! Dere are a squad of dem ahead!"

The bugle at once sounded a charge, the Major rose in the stirrups, and
thundered "Forward!" I reined aside, intuitively, and the column dashed
hotly past me. With a glance at the heap of mortality littering the way,
I spurred my nag sharply, and followed hard behind. The riderless horse
seemed to catch the fever of the moment, and closed up with me, leaving
his master the solitary tenant of the dell. For perhaps three miles we
galloped like the wind, and my brave little traveller overtook the
hindmost of the troop, and retained the position. Thrice there were
discharges ahead; I caught glimpses of the Major, the Captain, and the
wolfish sergeant, far in the advance; and once saw, through the cloud of
dust that beset them, the pursued and their individual pursuers, turning
the top of a hill. But for the most part, I saw nothing; I _felt_ all
the intense, consuming, burning ardor of the time and the event. I
thought that my hand clutched a sabre, and despised myself that it was
not there. I stood in the stirrups, and held some invisible enemy by the
throat. In a word, the bloodiness of the chase was upon me. I realized
the fierce infatuation of matching life with life, and standing arbiter
upon my fellow's body and soul. It seemed but a moment, when we halted,
red and panting, in the paltry Court House village of Hanover; the
field-pieces hurled a few shells at the escaping Confederates, and the
men were ordered to dismount.

It seemed that a Confederate picket had been occupying the village, and
the creek memorized by the skirmish was an outpost merely. Two of the
man Otto's party had been slain in the woods, where also lay as many
Southerners.

Hanover Court House is renowned as the birthplace of Patrick Henry, the
colonial orator, called by Byron the "forest Demosthenes." In a little
tavern, opposite the old Court House building, he began his humble
career as a measurer of gills to convivials, and in the Court House,--a
small stone edifice, plainly but quaintly constructed,--he gave the
first exhibitions of his matchless eloquence. Not far away, on a
by-road, the more modern but not less famous orator, Henry Clay, was
born. The region adjacent to his father's was called the "Slashes of
Hanover," and thence came his appellation of the "Mill Boy of the
Slashes." I had often longed to visit these shrines; but never dreamed
that the booming of cannon would announce me. The soldiers broke into
both the tavern and court-house, and splintered some chairs in the
former to obtain relics of Henry. I secured Richmond newspapers of the
same morning, and also some items of intelligence. With these I decided
to repair at once to White House, and formed the rash determination of
taking the direct or Pamunkey road, which I had never travelled, and
which might be beset by Confederates. The distance to White House, by
this course, was only twenty miles; whereas it was nearly as far to
head-quarters; and I believed that my horse had still the persistence to
carry me. It was past four o'clock; but I thought to ride six miles an
hour while daylight lasted, and, by good luck, get to the depot at nine.
The Major said that it was foolhardiness; the Captain bantered me to go.
I turned my back upon both, and bade them good by.



CHAPTER IX.

PUT UNDER ARREST.


While daylight remained, I had little reason to repent my wayward
resolve. The Pamunkey lay to my left, and the residences between it and
the road were of a better order than others that I had seen. This part
of the country had not been overrun, and the wheat and young corn were
waving in the river-breeze. I saw few negroes, but the porches were
frequently occupied by women and white men, who looked wonderingly
toward me. There were some hoof-marks in the clay, and traces of a broad
tire that I thought belonged to a gun-carriage. The hills of King
William County were but a little way off, and through the wood that
darkened them, sunny glimpses of vari-colored fields and dwellings now
and then appeared. I came to a shabby settlement called New Castle, at
six o'clock, where an evil-looking man walked out from a frame-house,
and inquired the meaning of the firing at Hanover.

I explained hurriedly, as some of his neighbors meantime gathered around
me. They asked if I was not a soldier in the Yankee army, and as I rode
away, followed me suspiciously with their eyes and wagged their heads.
To end the matter I spurred my pony and soon galloped out of sight.
Henceforward I met only stern, surprised glances, and seemed to read
"murder" in the faces of the inhabitants. A wide creek crossed the road
about five miles further on, where I stopped to water my horse. The
shades of night were gathering now; there was no moon; and for the
first time I realized the loneliness of my position. Hitherto, adventure
had laughed down fear; hereafter my mind was to be darkened like the
gloaming, and peopled with ghastly shadows.

I was yet young in the experience of death, and the toppled corpse of
the slain cavalry-man on the scout, somehow haunted me. I heard his
hoof-falls chiming with my own, and imagined, with a cold thrill, that
his steed was still following me; then, his white rigid face and
uplifted arms menaced my way; and, at last, the ruffianly form of his
slayer pursued him along the wood. They glided like shadows over the
foliage, and flashed across the surfaces of pools and rivulets. I heard
their steel ringing in the underbrush, and they flitted around me,
pursuing and retreating, till my brain began to whirl with the motion.
Suddenly my horse stumbled, and I reined him to a halt.

The cold drops were standing on my forehead. I found my knees a-quiver
and my breathing convulsive. With an expletive upon my unmanliness, I
touched the nag with my heel, and whistled encouragingly. Poor pony!
Fifty miles of almost uninterrupted travel had broken his spirit. He
leaped into his accustomed pace: but his legs were unsteady and he
floundered at every bound. There were pools, ruts, and boughs across the
way, with here and there stretches of slippery corduroy; but the thick
blackness concealed these, and I expected momentarily to be thrown from
the saddle. By and by he dropped from a canter into a rock; from a rock
to an amble; then into a walk, and finally to a slow painful limp. I
dismounted and took him perplexedly by the bit. A light shone from the
window of a dwelling across some open fields to the left, and I thought
of repairing thither; but some deep-mouthed dogs began to bay directly,
and then the lamp went out. A tiny stream sang at the roadside, flowing
toward some deeper tributary; lighting a cigar, I made out, by its
fitful illuminings, to wash the limbs of the jaded nag. Then I led him
for an hour, till my own limbs were weary, troubled all the time by
weird imaginings, doubts, and regrets. When I resumed the saddle the
horse had a firmer step and walked pleasantly. I ventured after a time
to incite him to a trot, and was going nicely forward, when a deep
voice, that almost took my breath, called from the gloom--

"Who comes there? Halt, or I fire! Guard, turn out!"

Directly the road was full of men, and a bull's-eye lantern flashed upon
my face. A group of foot-soldiery, with drawn pistols and sabres,
gathered around me, and I heard the neigh of steeds from some
imperceptible vicinity. "Who is it, Sergeant?" said one. "Is there but
one of 'em?" said another. "Cuss him!" said a third; "I was takin' a
bully snooze." "Who are yeou?" said the Sergeant, sternly; "what are
yeou deouin' aout at this hour o' the night? Are yeou a rebbil?"

"No!" I answered, greatly relieved; "I am a newspaper correspondent of
Smith's division, and there's my pass!"

I was taken over to a place in the woods, where some fagots were
smouldering, and, stirring them to a blaze, the Sergeant read the
document and pronounced it right.

"Yeou hain't got no business, nevertheless, to be roamin' araound
outside o' picket; but seein' as it's yeou, I reckon yeou may trot
along!"

I offered to exchange my information for a biscuit and a drop of coffee,
for I was wellnigh worn out; while one of the privates produced a
canteen more wholesome than cleanly, another gave me a lump of fat pork
and a piece of corn bread. They gathered sleepily about me, while I told
of the scout, and the Sergeant said that my individual ride was "game
enough, but nothin' but darn nonsense." Then they fed my horse with a
trifle of oats, and after awhile I climbed, stiff and bruised, to the
saddle again, and bade them good night.

I knew now that I was at "Putney's," a ford on the Pamunkey, and an hour
later I came in sight of the ship-lights at White House, and heard the
steaming of tugs and draught-boats, going and coming by night. I hitched
my horse to a tree, pilfered some hay and fodder from two or three nags
tied adjacent, and picked my way across a gangway, several barge-decks,
and a floating landing, to the mail steamer that lay outside. Her deck
and cabin were filled with people, stretched lengthwise and crosswise,
tangled, grouped, and snoring, but all apparently fast asleep. I coolly
took a blanket from a man that looked as though he did not need it, and
wrapped myself cosily under a bench in a corner. The cabin light flared
dimly, half irradiating the forms below, and the boat heaved a little on
the river-swells. The night was cold, the floor hard, and I almost dead
with fatigue. But what of that! I felt the newspapers in my breast
pocket, and knew that the mail could not leave me in the morning.
Blessed be the news-gatherer's sleep! I think he earned it.

It was very pleasant, at dawn, to receive the congratulations of our
agent, with whom I breakfasted, and to whom I consigned a hastily
written letter and all the Richmond papers of the preceding day. He was
a shrewd, sanguine, middle-aged man, of large experience and good
standing in our establishment. He was sent through the South at the
beginning of the Rebellion, and introduced into all public bodies and
social circles, that he might fathom the designs of Secession, and
comprehend its spirit. Afterward he accompanied the Hatteras and Port
Royal expeditions, and witnessed those celebrated bombardments. Such a
thorough individual abnegation I never knew. He was a part of the
establishment, body and soul. He agreed with its politics, adhered to
all its policies, defended it, upheld it, revered it. The Federal
Government was, to his eye, merely an adjunct of the paper. Battles and
sieges were simply occurrences for its columns. Good men, brave men, bad
men, died to give it obituaries. The whole world was to him a Reporter's
district, and all human mutations plain matters of news. I hardly think
that any city, other than New York, contains such characters. The
journals there are full of fever, and the profession of journalism is a
disease.

He cashed me a draft for a hundred dollars, and I filled my saddle-bags
with smoking-tobacco, spirits, a meerschaum pipe, packages of sardines,
a box of cigars, and some cheap publications. Then we adjourned to the
quay, where the steamer was taking in mails, freight and passengers. The
papers were in his side-pocket, and he was about to commit them to a
steward for transmission to Fortress Monroe, when my name was called
from the strand by a young mounted officer, connected with one of the
staffs of my division. I thought that he wished to exchange salutations
or make some inquiries, and tripped to his side.

"General McClellan wants those newspapers that you obtained at Hanover
yesterday!"

A thunderbolt would not have more transfixed me. I could not speak for a
moment. Finally, I stammered that they were out of my possession.

"Then, sir, I arrest you, by order of General McClellan. Get your
horse!"

"Stop!" said I, agitatedly, "--it may not be too late. I can recover
them yet. Here is our agent,--I gave them to him."

I turned, at the word, to the landing where he stood a moment before. To
my dismay, he had disappeared.

"This is some frivolous pretext to escape," said the Lieutenant; "you
correspondents are slippery fellows, but I shall take care that you do
not play any pranks with me. The General is irritated already, and if
you prevaricate relative to those papers he may make a signal example of
you."

I begged to be allowed to look for----; but he answered cunningly, that
I had better mount and ride on. An acquaintance of mine here interfered,
and testified to the existency of the agent and his probable connection
with the journals. Pale, flurried, excited, I started to discover him,
the Lieutenant following me closely meantime. We entered every booth and
tent, went from craft to craft, sought among the thick clusters of
people, and even at the Commissary's and Quartermaster's pounds, that
lay some distance up the railroad.

"I am sorry for you, old fellow," said the Lieutenant, "but your
accomplice has probably escaped. It's very sneaking of him, as it makes
it harder for you; but I have no authority to deal with him, though I
shall take care to report his conduct at head-quarters."

I found that the Lieutenant was greatly gratified with the duty
entrusted to him. He had been at the cavalry quarters on the return of
the scouting party, and had overheard the Major muttering something as
to McClellan's displeasure at receiving no Richmond journals. The Major
had added that one of the correspondents took them to White House, and,
mentioning me by name, this young and aspiring satellite had blurted out
that he knew me, and could doubtless overtake me at the mail-boat in the
morning. The Commanding General authorised him to arrest me _with the
papers_, and report at head-quarters. This was then a journey to
recommend him to authority, and it involved no personal danger. I was
not so intimidated that I failed to see how the Lieutenant would lose
his gayest feather by failing to recover the journals, and I dexterously
insinuated that it would be well to recommence the search. This time we
were successful. The shrewd, sanguine, middle-aged man was coolly
contemplating the river from an outside barge, concealed from the shore
by piled boxes of ammunition. He was reading a phonetic pamphlet, and
appeared to take his apprehension as a pleasant morning call. I caught
one meaning glance, however, that satisfied me how clearly he understood
the case.

"Ha! Townsend," said he, smilingly, "back already? I thought we had lost
you. One of your military friends? Good-day, Lieutenant."

"I am under arrest, my boy," said I, "and you will much aggravate
General McClellan, if you do not consign those Richmond journals to his
deputy here."

"Under arrest? You surprise me! I am sorry, Lieutenant that you have had
so fatiguing a ride, but the fact is, those papers have gone down the
river. If the General is not in a great hurry, he will see their columns
reproduced by us in a few days."

"How did they go?" said the Lieutenant, with an oath, "if by the
mail-boat I will have General Van Vliet despatch a tug to overhaul her."

"I am very sorry again," said the bland civilian, smoothing his hands:
"but they went by the _South America_ at a much earlier hour."

I looked appealingly to him; the satellite stared down the river
perplexedly, but suddenly his eye fell upon something that absorbed it;
and he turned like a madman to----

"By! ---- sir, you are lying to me. There is the _South America_ moored
to a barge, and her steam is not up!"

"Those words are utterly uncalled for," said the agent,--"but you cannot
irritate me, my dear sir! I know that youth is hot,--particularly
military youth yet inexperienced; and therefore I pardon you. I made a
mistake. It was not the _South America_, it was--it was--upon my word I
cannot recall the name!"

"You do not mean to!" thundered the young Ajax, to whose vanity, ----'s
speech had been gall; "my powers are discretionary: I arrest you in the
name of General McClellan."

"Indeed! Be sure you understand your orders! It isn't probable that such
a fiery blade is allowed much discretionary margin. The General himself
would not assume such airs. Why don't you shoot me? It might contribute
to your promotion, and that is, no doubt, your object. I know General
McClellan very well. He is a personal friend of mine."

His manner was so self-possessed, his tone so cutting, that the young
man of fustian--whose name was Kenty--fingered his sword hilt, and
foamed at the lips.

"March on," said he,--"I will report this insolence word for word."

He motioned us to the quay; we preceded him. The sanguine gentleman
keeping up a running fire of malevolent sarcasm.

"Stop!" said he quietly, as we reached his tent,--"I have not sent them
at all. They are here. And you have made all this exhibition of yourself
for nothing. I am the better soldier, you see. You are a drummer-boy,
not an officer. Take off your shoulder-bars, and go to school again."

He disappeared a minute, returned with two journals, and looking at me,
meaningly, turned to their titles.

"Let me see!" he said, smoothly,--"_Richmond Examiner_, May 28,
_Richmond Enquirer_, May 22. There! You have them! Go in peace! Give my
respects to General McClellan! Townsend, old fellow, you have done your
full duty. Don't let this young person frighten you. Good by."

He gave me his hand, with a sinister glance, and left something in my
palm when his own was withdrawn. I examined it hastily when I girt up my
saddle. It said: "_Your budget got off safe, old fellow._" He had given
Kenty some old journals that were of no value to anybody. When we were
mounted and about to start, the Lieutenant looked witheringly upon his
persecutor--

"Allow me to say, sir," he exclaimed, "that you are the most unblushing
liar I ever knew."

"Thank you, kindly," said----, taking off his hat, "you do me honor!"

Our route was silent and weary enough. The young man at my side,
unconscious of his wily antagonist's deception, boasted for some time
that he had attained his purposes. As I could not undeceive him, I held
my tongue; but feared that when this trick should be made manifest, the
vengeance would fall on me alone. I heartily wished the unlucky papers
at the bottom of the sea. To gratify an adventurous whim, and obtain a
day's popularity at New York, I had exposed my life, crippled my nag,
and was now to be disgraced and punished. What might or might not befall
me, I gloomily debated. The least penalty would be expulsion from the
army; but imprisonment till the close of the war, was a favorite
amusement with the War Office. How my newspaper connection would be
embarrassed was a more grievous inquiry. It stung me to think that I had
blundered twice on the very threshold of my career. Was I not acquiring
a reputation for rashness that would hinder all future promotion and
cast me from the courts of the press. Here the iron entered into my
soul; for be it known, I loved Bohemia! This roving commission, these
vagabond habits, this life in the open air among the armies, the white
tents, the cannon, and the drums, they were my elysium, my heart! But to
be driven away, as one who had broken his trust, forfeited favor and
confidence, and that too on the eve of grand events, was something that
would embitter my existence.

We passed the familiar objects that I had so often buoyantly
beheld,--deserted encampments, cross-roads, rills, farm-houses, fields,
and at last came to Daker's. I called out to them, and explained my
woful circumstances with rueful conciseness.

It was growing dark when we came to general headquarters, two miles
beyond Gaines's Mill. The tents were scattered over the surface of a
hill, and most of them were illumined by candles.

The Lieutenant gave our horses to an orderly, and led the way through
two outer circles of wall-tents, between which and the inner circle,
guards were pacing, to deny all vulgar ingress.

A staff officer took in our names, and directly returned with the reply
of "Pass in!" We were now in the sacred enclosure, secured by flaming
swords. Four tents stood in a row, allotted respectively to the Chief of
Staff, the Adjutant-General, the telegraph operators, and the select
staff officers. Just behind them, embowered by a covering of cedar
boughs, stood the tent of General McClellan. Close by, from an open plot
or area of ground, towered a pine trunk, floating the national flag.
Lights burned in three of the tents: low voices, as of subdued
conversation, were heard from the first.

A little flutter of my heart, a drawing aside of canvas, two steps, an
uncovering, and a bow,--I stood at my tribunal! A couple of candles were
placed upon a table, whereat sat a fine specimen of man, with kindly
features, dark, grayish, flowing hair, and slight marks of years upon
his full, purplish face. He looked to be a well-to-do citizen, whose
success had taught him sedentary convivialities. A fuming cigar lay
before him; some empty champagne bottles sat upon a pine desk; tumblers
and a decanter rested upon a camp-stool; a bucket, filled with water and
a great block of ice, was visible under the table. Five other gentlemen,
each with a star in his shoulder-bar, were dispersed upon chairs and
along a camp bedside. The tall, angular, dignified gentleman with
compressed lips and a "character" nose, was General Barry, Chief of
Artillery. The lithe, severe, gristly, sanguine person, whose eyes
flashed even in repose, was General Stoneman, Chief of Cavalry. The
large, sleepy-eyed, lymphatic, elderly man, clad in dark, civil gray,
whose ears turned up habitually as from deafness, was Prince de
Joinville, brother to Louis Philippe, King of France. The little man
with red hair and beard, who moved quickly and who spoke sharply, was
Seth Williams, Adjutant-General. The stout person with florid face,
large, blue eyes, and white, straight hair, was General Van Vliet,
Quartermaster-General. And the man at the table, was General Marcy,
father-in-law to McClellan, and Executive officer of the army.

Maps, papers, books, and luggage lay around the room; all the gentlemen
were smoking and wine sparkled in most of the glasses. Some swords were
lying upon the floor, a pair of spurs glistened by the bed, and three of
the officers had their feet in the air.

"What is it you wish, Lieutenant?" said General Marcy, gravely.

The boor in uniform at my side, related his errand and order, gave the
particulars of my arrest, declaimed against our agent, and submitted the
journals. He told his story stammeringly, and I heard one of the
officers in the background mutter contemptuously when he had finished.

"Were you aware of the order prohibiting correspondents from keeping
with the advance?" said the General, looking up.

"I had not been notified from head-quarters. I have been with the army
only a week."

"You knew that you had no business upon scouts, forages, or
reconnoissances; why did you go?"

"I went by invitation."

"Who invited you?"

"I would prefer not to state, since it would do him an injury."

Here the voices in the background muttered, as I thought, applaudingly.
Gaining confidence as I proceeded, I spoke more boldly--

"I am sure I regret that I have disobeyed any order of General
McClellan's; but there can nothing occur in the rear of an army.
Obedience, in this case, would be indolence and incompetence; for only
the reliable would stay behind and the reckless go ahead. If I am
accredited here as a correspondent, I must keep up with the events. And
the rivalries of our tribe, General, are so many, that the best of us
sometimes forget what is right for what is expedient. I hope that
General McClellan will pass by this offence."

He heard my rambling defence quietly, excused the Lieutenant, and
whistled for an orderly.

"I don't think that you meant to offend General McClellan," he said,
"but he wishes you to be detained. Give me your pass. Orderly, take this
gentleman to General Porter, and tell him to treat him kindly. Good
night."

When we got outside of the tent, I slipped a silver half-dollar into the
orderly's hand, and asked him if he understood the General's final
remark. He said, in reply, that I was directed to be treated with
courtesy, kindness, and care, and asked me, in conclusion, if there were
any adjectives that might intensify the recommendation. When we came to
General Porter, the Provost-Marshal, however, he pooh-poohed the
qualifications, and said that _his_ business was merely to put me under
surveillance. This unamiable man ordered me to be taken to Major
Willard, the deputy Provost, whose tent we found after a long search.
The Major was absent, but some young officers of his mess were taking
supper at his table, and with these I at once engaged in conversation.

I knew that if I was to be spared an immersion in the common guardhouse,
with drunkards, deserters, and prisoners of war, I must win the favor of
these men. I gave them the story of my arrest, spoke lightly of the
offence and jestingly of the punishment, and, in fact, so improved my
cause that, when the Major appeared, and the Sergeant consigned me to
his custody, one of the young officers took him aside, and, I am sure,
said some good words in my favor.

The Major was a bronzed, indurated gentleman, scrupulously attired, and
courteously stern. He looked at me twice or thrice, to my confusion; for
I was dusty, wan, and running over with perspiration. His first remark
had, naturally, reference to the lavatory, and, so far as my face and
hair were concerned, I was soon rejuvenated. I found on my return to the
tent, a clean plate and a cup of steaming coffee placed for me, and I
ate with a full heart though pleading covertly the while. When I had
done, and the tent became deserted by all save him and me, he said,
simply--

"What am I to do with you, Mr. Townsend?"

"Treat me as a gentleman, I hope, Major."

"We have but one place of confinement," said he, "the guardhouse; but I
am loth to send you there. Light your pipe, and I will think the matter
over."

He took a turn in front, consulted with some of his associates, and
directly returning, said that I was to be quartered in his office-tent,
adjoining. A horror being thus lifted from my mind, I heard with sincere
interest many revelations of his military career. He had been a common
soldier in the Mexican war, and had fought his way, step by step, to
repeated commissions. He had garrisoned Fort Yuma, and other posts on
the far plains, and at the beginning of the war was tendered a volunteer
brigade, which he modestly declined. His tastes were refined, and a warm
fancy, approaching poetry, enhanced his personal reminiscences. His face
softened, his eyes grew milder, his large, commanding mouth relaxed,--he
was young again, living his adventures over. We talked thus till almost
midnight, when two regulars appeared in front,--stiff, ramrodish
figures, that came to a jerking "present," tapped their caps with two
fingers, and said, explosively; "Sergeant of Guard, Number Five!"

The Major rose, gave me his hand, and said that I would find a candle in
my tent, with waterproof and blankets on the ground. I was to give
myself no concern about the nag, and might, if I chose, sit for an hour
to write, but must, on no account, attempt to leave the canvas, for the
guard would instantly shoot me down. The guard in question had a
_doppel-ganger_,--counterpart of himself in inflexibility,--and both
were appendages of their muskets. He was not probably a sentient being,
certainly not a conversational one. He knew the length of a stride, and
the manual of bayonet exercise, but was, during his natural life, a
blind idolater of a deity, called "Orders." The said "Orders," for the
present evening, were walking, not talking, and he was dumb to all
conciliatory words. He took a position at one end of my tent, and his
double at the other end. They carried their muskets at "support arms,"
and paced up and down, measuredly, like two cloaked and solemn ghosts. I
wrapped myself in the damp blankets, and slept through the bangs of four
or five court-martials and several executions. At three o'clock, they
changed ramrods,--the old doppel-gangers going away, and two new ones
fulfilling their functions.



CHAPTER X.

AFTER THE VICTORY.


The two ramrods were still pacing to and fro, when I aroused in the gray
of the morning; but they looked very misty and moist, as if they were
impalpables that were shortly to evaporate. The Major poked his head
between the flaps at eight o'clock, and said that breakfast was ready;
but the ramrod nearest me kept vigilantly alongside, and I thought he
had been invited also. The other ramrod guarded the empty tent, and I
think that he believed me a doppel-ganger likewise.

I wondered what was to be done with me, as the hours slipped rapidly by.
The guards were relieved again at ten o'clock, and Quartermaster's men
commenced to take down the tents. Camps were to be moved, and I inquired
solicitously if I was to be moved also. The Major replied that prisoners
were commonly made to walk along the road, escorted by horsemen, and I
imagined, with dread, the companionship of negroes, estrays, ragged
Confederates, and such folk, while the whole army should witness my
degradation. Finally, all the tents were lifted and packed in wagons, as
well as the furniture. I adhered to a stool, at which the teamster
looked wistfully, and the implacable sentinels walked to and fro. A
rumor became current among the private soldiers, that I was the nephew
of the southern General Lee, whose wife had been meantime captured at
Hanover Court House. Curious groups sauntered around me, and talked
behind their hands. One man was overheard to say that I had fought
desperately, and covered myself with glory, and another thought that I
favored my uncle somewhat, and might succeed to his military virtues.

"I guess I'll take that cheer, if you ain't got no objection," said the
teamster, and he slung it into the wagon. What to do now troubled me
materially; but one of the soldiers brought a piece of rail, and I
"squatted" lugubriously on the turf.

"If you ever get to Richmond," said I, "you shall be considerately
treated." (Profound sensation.)

"Thankee!" replied the man, touching his cap; "but I'm werry well
pleased _out_ o' Richmond, Captain."

Here the Major was seen approaching, a humorous smile playing about his
eyes.

"You are discharged," said he; "General Marcy will return your pass, and
perhaps your papers."

I wrung his hand with indescribable relief, and he sent the "ramrod" on
guard, to saddle my horse. In a few minutes, I was mounted again, much
to the surprise of the observers of young Lee, and directly I stood
before the kindly Chief of Staff. At my request, he wrote a note to the
division commander, specifying my good behavior, and restoring to me all
privileges and immunities. He said nothing whatever as to the mistake in
the papers, and told me that, on special occasions, I might keep with
advances, by procuring an extraordinary pass at head-quarters. In short,
my arrest conduced greatly to my efficiency. I invariably carried my
Richmond despatches to General Marcy, thereafter, and, if there was
information of a legitimate description, he gave me the benefit of it.

My own brigade lay at Dr. Gaines's house, during this time, and we did
not lack for excitement. Just behind the house lay several batteries of
rifled guns, and these threw shells at hourly intervals, at certain
Confederate batteries across the river. The distance was two miles or
less; but the firing was generally wretched. Crowds of soldiers gathered
around, to watch the practice, and they threw up their hats applaudingly
at successful hits. Occasionally a great round shot would bound up the
hill, and a boy, one day, seeing one of these spent balls rolling along
the ground, put out his foot to stop it, but shattered his leg so
dreadfully that it had to be amputated. Dr. Gaines was a rich,
aristocratic, and indolent old Virginian, whose stables, summerhouses,
orchards, and negro-quarters were the finest in their district. The
shooting so annoyed him that he used to resort to the cellar; several
shots passed through his roof, and one of the chimneys was knocked off.
His family carriages were five in number, and as his stables were turned
into hospitals, these were all hauled into his lawn, where their
obsolete trimmings and queer shape constantly amused the soldiers. About
this time I became acquainted with some officers of the 5th Maine
regiment, and by permission, accompanied them to Mechanicsville. I was
here, on the afternoon of Thursday, May 27, when the battle of Hanover
Court House was fought. We heard the rapid growl of guns, and continuous
volleys of musketry, though the place was fourteen miles distant. At
evening, a report was current that the Federals had gained a great
victory, and captured seven hundred prisoners. The truth of this was
established next morning; for detachments of prisoners were from time to
time brought in, and the ambulances came to camp, laden with the
wounded. I took this opportunity of observing the Confederate soldiers,
as they lay at the Provost quarters, in a roped pen, perhaps one hundred
rods square.

It was evening, as I hitched my horse to a stake near-by, and pressed up
to the receptacle for the unfortunates. Sentries enclosed the pen,
walking to-and-fro with loaded muskets; a throng of officers and
soldiers had assembled to gratify their curiosity; and new detachments
of captives came in hourly, encircled by sabremen, the Southerners
being disarmed and on foot. The scene within the area was ludicrously
moving. It reminded me of the witch-scene in Macbeth, or pictures of
brigands or Bohemian gypsies at rendezvous, not less than five hundred
men, in motley, ragged costumes, with long hair, and lean, wild, haggard
faces, were gathered in groups or in pairs, around some fagot fires. In
the growing darkness their expressions were imperfectly visible; but I
could see that most of them were weary, and hungry, and all were
depressed and ashamed. Some were wrapped in blankets of rag-carpet, and
others wore shoes of rough, untanned hide. Others were without either
shoes or jackets, and their heads were bound with red handkerchiefs.
Some appeared in red shirts; some in stiff beaver hats; some were
attired in shreds and patches of cloth; and a few wore the soiled
garments of citizen gentlemen; but the mass adhered to homespun suits of
gray, or "butternut," and the coarse blue kersey common to slaves. In
places I caught glimpses of red Zouave breeches and leggings; blue
Federal caps, Federal buttons, or Federal blouses; these were the spoils
of anterior battles, and had been stripped from the slain. Most of the
captives were of the appearances denominated "scraggy" or "knotty." They
were brown, brawny, and wiry, and their countenances were intense,
fierce, and animal. They came from North Carolina, the poorest and least
enterprising Southern State, and ignorance, with its attendant virtues,
were the common facial manifestations. Some lay on the bare ground, fast
asleep; others chatted nervously as if doubtful of their future
treatment; a few were boisterous, and anxious to beg tobacco or coffee
from idle Federals; the rest--and they comprehended the greater
number--were silent, sullen, and vindictive. They met curiosity with
scorn, and spite with imprecations. A child--not more than four years of
age, I think--sat sleeping in a corner upon an older comrade's lap. A
gray-bearded pard was staunching a gash in his cheek with the tail of
his coat. A fine-looking young fellow sat with his face in his hands,
as if his heart were far off, and he wished to shut out this bitter
scene. In a corner, lying morosely apart, were a Major, three Captains,
and three Lieutenants,--young athletic fellows, dressed in rich gray
cassimere, trimmed with black, and wearing soft black hats adorned with
black ostrich-feathers. Their spurs were strapped upon elegantly fitting
boots, and they looked as far above the needy, seedy privates, as lords
above their vassals.

After a time, couples and squads of the prisoners were marched off to
cut and carry some firewood, and water, for the use of their pen, and
then each Confederate received coffee, pork, and crackers; they were
obliged to prepare their own meals, but some were so hungry that they
gnawed the raw pork, like beasts of prey. Those who were not provided
with blankets, shivered through the night, though the rain was falling,
and the succession of choking coughs that ran through the ranks, told
how ill they could afford the exposure. Major Willard had charge of
these men, and he sent a young officer to get me admittance to the pen,
that I might speak with them.

"Good evening, Major," I said, to the ranking Confederate officer, and
extended my hand. He shook it, embarrassedly, and ran me over with his
eye, as if to learn my avocation. "Can I obtain any facts from you," I
continued, "as to the battle of Hanover?"

"Fuh what puhpose?" he said, in his strong southern dialect.

"For publication, sir."

He sat up at once, and said that he should be happy to tell me anything
that would not be a violation of military honor. I asked him, therefore,
the Confederate Commandant at Hanover, the number of brigades,
regiments, and batteries engaged, the disposition of forces, the
character of the battle, and the losses, so far as he knew, upon his own
side. Much of this he revealed, but unguardedly let out other matters,
that direct inquiry could not have discovered. I took notes of the
legitimate passages, trusting to memory for the rest; and think that I
possessed his whole stock of information, in the course of an hour's
manoeuvring. It seemed that General Branch, formerly a member of the
Federal congress, had been sent with some thousands of Carolina troops
across the upper Chickahominy, to see if it would not be possible to
turn the Federal right, and cut off one of its brigades; but a stronger
Federal reconnoissance had gone northward the day before, and
discovering Branch's camp-fires, sent, during the night, for
reinforcements. In the end, the "North State" volunteers were routed,
their cannon silenced or broken, and seven hundred of their number
captured. The Federals lost a large number of men killed, and the
wounded upon both sides, were numerous.

The Confederate Major was of the class referred to in polite American
parlance, as a "blatherskite." He boasted after the manner of his
fellow-citizens from the county of "Bunkum," but nevertheless feared and
trembled, to the manifest disgust of one of the young Captains.

"Majuh!" said this young man, "what you doin' thah! That fellow's makin'
notes of all your slack; keep your tongue! aftah awhile you'll tell the
nombah of the foces! Don't you s'pose he'll prent it all?"

The Major had, in fact, been telling me how many regiments the "old
Nawth State, suh," had furnished to the "suhvice," and I had the names
of some thirty colonels, in order. The young Captain gave me a sketch of
General Branch, and was anxious that I should publish something in
extenuation of North Carolina valor.

"We have lost mo' men," said he, "than any otha' Commonwealth; but these
Vuhginians, whose soil, by----! suh, we defend suh! Yes, suh! whose soil
we defend; these Vuhginians, stigmatize us as cowads! _We_, suh! yes
suh, _we_, that nevah wanted to leave the Union,--_we cowads_! Look at
ou' blood, suh, ou' blood! That's it, by----! look at that! shed on
every field of the ole Dominion,--killed, muhdud, captued, crippled! We
_cowads_! I want you prent that!"

I was able to give each of the officers a drop of whiskey from my flask,
and I never saw men drink so thirstily. Their hands and lips trembled as
they took it, and their eyes shone like lunacy, as the hot drops sank to
the cold vitals, and pricked the frozen blood. Mingling with the
privates, I stirred up some native specimens of patriotism, that
appeared to be in great doubt as to the causes and ends of the war. They
were very much in the political condition of a short, thick, sententious
man, in blue drilling breeches, who said--

"Damn the country! What's to be done with _us_?"

One person said that he enlisted for the honor of his family, that "fit
in the American Revolution;" and another came out to "hev a squint et
the fightin'." Several were northern and foreign lads, that were working
on Carolina railroads, and could not leave the section, and some labored
under the impression that they were to have a "slice" of land and a
"nigger," in the event of Southern independence. A few comprehended the
spirit of the contest, and took up arms from principle; a few, also,
declared their enmity to "Yankee institutions," and had seized the
occasion to "polish them off," and "give them a ropein' in;" but many
said it was "dull in our deestreeks, an' the niggers was runnin' away,
so I thought I'ud jine the foces." The great mass said, that they never
contemplated "this box," or "this fix," or "these suckemstances," and
all wanted the war to close, that they might return to their families.
Indeed, my romantic ideas of rebellion were ruthlessly profaned and
dissipated. I knew that there was much selfishness, peculation, and
"Hessianism" in the Federal lines, but I had imagined a lofty
patriotism, a dignified purpose, and an inflexible love of personal
liberty among the Confederates. Yet here were men who knew little of
the principles for which they staked their lives;--who enlisted from the
commonest motives of convenience, whim, pelf, adventure, and foray; and
who repented, after their first misfortune, with the salt rheum in their
eyes. I think that all "great uprisings" resolve to this complexion.
With due reverence for my own ancestry, I think that they sometimes
stooped from greatness to littleness. I must confess that certain
admissions in my revolutionary textbook are much clearer, now that I
have followed a campaign. And if, as I had proposed, I could have
witnessed the further fortunes of the illustrious Garibaldi, I think
that some of his compatriots would have been found equally inconsistent.
Let no man believe that the noblest cause is fought out alone by the
unerring motives of duty and devotion. The masses are never so constant.
They cannot appreciate an abstraction, however divine. Any of the
gentlemen in question would have preferred their biscuit and fat pork
before the political enfranchisement of the whole world!

I rode across the fields to the Hogan, Curtis, and Gaines mansions; for
some of the wounded had meantime been deposited in each of them. All the
cow-houses, wagon-sheds, hay-barracks, hen-coops, negro cabins, and
barns were turned into hospitals. The floors were littered with
"corn-shucks" and fodder; and the maimed, gashed, and dying lay
confusedly together. A few, slightly wounded, stood at windows, relating
incidents of the battle; but at the doors sentries stood with crossed
muskets, to keep out idlers and gossips. The mention of my vocation was
an "open sesame," and I went unrestrained, into all the largest
hospitals. In the first of these an amputation was being performed, and
at the door lay a little heap of human fingers, feet, legs, and arms. I
shall not soon forget the bare-armed surgeons, with bloody instruments,
that leaned over the rigid and insensible figure, while the comrades of
the subject looked horrifiedly at the scene. The grating of the
murderous saw drove me into the open air, but in the second hospital
which I visited, a wounded man had just expired, and I encountered his
body at the threshold. Within, the sickening smell of mortality was
almost insupportable, but by degrees I became accustomed to it. The
lanterns hanging around the room streamed fitfully upon the red eyes,
and half-naked figures. All were looking up, and saying, in pleading
monotone: "Is that you, doctor?" Men with their arms in slings went
restlessly up and down, smarting with fever. Those who were wounded in
the lower extremities, body, or head, lay upon their backs, tossing even
in sleep. They listened peevishly to the wind whistling through the
chinks of the barn. They followed one with their rolling eyes. They
turned away from the lantern, for it seemed to sear them. Soldiers sat
by the severely wounded, laving their sores with water. In many wounds
the balls still remained, and the discolored flesh was swollen
unnaturally. There were some who had been shot in the bowels, and now
and then they were frightfully convulsed, breaking into shrieks and
shouts. Some of them iterated a single word, as, "doctor," or "help," or
"God," or "oh!" commencing with a loud spasmodic cry, and continuing the
same word till it died away in cadence. The act of calling seemed to
lull the pain. Many were unconscious and lethargic, moving their fingers
and lips mechanically, but never more to open their eyes upon the light;
they were already going through the valley and the shadow. I think,
still, with a shudder, of the faces of those who were told mercifully
that they could not live. The unutterable agony; the plea for somebody
on whom to call; the longing eyes that poured out prayers; the looking
on mortal as if its resources were infinite; the fearful looking to the
immortal as if it were so far off, so implacable, that the dying appeal
would be in vain; the open lips, through which one could almost look at
the quaking heart below; the ghastliness of brow and tangled hair; the
closing pangs; the awful _quietus_. I thought of Parrhasius, in the
poem, as I looked at these things:--

                         "Gods!
    Could I but paint a dying groan----."

And how the keen eye of West would have turned from the reeking cockpit
of the _Victory_, or the tomb of the Dead Man Restored, to this old
barn, peopled with horrors. I rambled in and out, learning to look at
death, studying the manifestations of pain,--quivering and sickening at
times, but plying my avocation, and jotting the names for my column of
mortalities.

At eleven o'clock there was music along the high-road, and a general
rushing from camps. The victorious regiments were returning from
Hanover, under escort, and all the bands were pealing national airs. As
they turned down the fields towards their old encampments, the several
brigades stood under arms to welcome them, and the cheers were many and
vigorous. But the solemn ambulances still followed after, and the red
flag of the hospitals flaunted bloodily in the blue midnight.

Both the prisoners and the wounded were removed between midnight and
morning to White House, and as I had despatches to forward by the
mail-boat, I rode down in an ambulance, that contained six wounded men
besides. The wounded were to be consigned to hospital boats, and
forwarded to hospitals in northern cities, and the prisoners were to be
placed in a transport, under guard, and conveyed to Fort Delaware, near
Philadelphia.

Ambulances, it may be said, incidentally, are either two-wheeled or
four-wheeled. Two-wheeled ambulances are commonly called "hop, step, and
jumps." They are so constructed that the forepart is either very high or
very low, and may be both at intervals. The wounded occupants may be
compelled to ride for hours in these carriages, with their heels
elevated above their heads, and may finally be shaken out, or have their
bones broken by the terrible jolting. The four-wheeled ambulances are
built in shelves, or compartments, but the wounded are in danger of
being smothered in them. It was in one of these latter that I rode,
sitting with the driver. We had four horses, but were thrice "swamped"
on the road, and had to take out the wounded men once, till we could
start the wheels. Two of these men were wounded in the face, one of them
having his nose completely severed, and the other having a fragment of
his jaw knocked out. A third had received a ball among the thews and
muscles behind his knee, and his whole body appeared to be paralyzed.
Two were wounded in the shoulders, and the sixth was shot in the breast,
and was believed to be injured inwardly, as he spat blood, and suffered
almost the pain of death. The ride with these men, over twenty miles of
hilly, woody country, was like one of Dante's excursions into the
Shades. In the awful stillness of the dark pines, their screams
frightened the hooting owls, and the whirring insects in the leaves and
tree-tops quieted their songs. They heard the gurgle of the rills, and
called aloud for water to quench their insatiate thirst. One of them
sang a shrill, fierce, fiendish ballad, in an interval of relief, but
plunged, at a sudden relapse, in prayers and curses. We heard them
groaning to themselves, as we sat in front, and one man, it seemed, was
quite out of his mind. These were the outward manifestations; but what
chords trembled and smarted within, we could only guess. What regrets
for good resolves unfulfilled, and remorse for years misspent, made
hideous these sore and panting hearts? The moonlight pierced through the
thick foliage of the wood, and streamed into our faces, like invitations
to a better life. But the crippled and bleeding could not see or feel
it,--buried in the shelves of the ambulance.



CHAPTER XI.

BALLOON BATTLES.


Some days ago, as I was sitting in Central Park, under a tree no bigger
than Jonah's gourd, broiling nicely brown, and seasoning the process by
reading what the lesser weeklies said about me, I saw at the Park gate a
great phantasm, like a distended sausage, swaying to and fro as if
striving to burst, and directly the horrible thing blew upwards,
spilling all the stuffing from the case.

I saw in a moment that the apparition was a balloon, and that the
aeronaut was only emptying ballast.

Straight toward me the floating vessel came, so close to the ground that
I could hear the silk crackle and the ropes creak, till, directly, a man
leaned over the side and shouted--

"Is that you, Townsend?"

"Hallo, Lowe!"

"I want you to get on your feet and be spry about it: we have a literary
party here, and wish you to write it up. I'll let one bag of ballast go,
as we touch the grass, and you must leap in simultaneously. Thump!"

Here the car collided with the ground, and in another instant, I found
quantities of dirt spilled down my back, and two or three people lying
beneath me. The world slid away, and the clouds opened to receive me.
Lowe was opening a bottle of Heidsick, and three or four gentlemen with
_heads sick_ were unclosing the petals of their lips to get the
afternoon dew.

These were the various critics and fugitive writers of the weekly and
daily press. They looked as if they wanted to put each other over the
side of the car, but smothered their invective at my advent, as if I
were so much pearl-ash.

It was just seven o'clock, and the Park lay like a veined and mottled
blood-stone in the red sunset. The city wilted to the littleness of a
rare mosaic pin, its glittering point parting the blue scarf of the bay,
and the white bosom of the ocean swelling afar, all draped with purple
clouds like golden hair, in which the entangled gems were the sails of
the white ships.

I said this aloud, and all the party drew their lead pencils. They
forgot the occasion in my eloquence, and wanted to report me.

Just here, I drew a field-glass from the aeronaut, and reconnoitred the
streets of the city. To my dismay there was nobody visible on Broadway
but gentlemen. I called everybody's attention to the fact, and it was
accounted for on the supposition that the late bank forgeries and
defalcations, growing out of the extravagance of womankind, had prompted
all the husbands to make of their homes nunneries.

We observed, however, close by every gentleman, something that resembled
a black dog with his tail curled over his back.

"Stuff!" said one, "they're hay wagons."

"No!" cried Lowe, "they're nothing of the sort; they are waterfalls, and
the ladies are, of course, invisible under them."

We accepted the explanation, and thought the trip very melancholy. No
landscape is complete without a woman. Very soon we struck the great
polar current, and passed Harlem river; the foliage of the trees, by
some strange anomaly, began to ascend towards us, but Lowe caught two
or three of the supposed leaves, and they proved to be greenbacks.

There was at once a tremendous sensation in the car; we knew that we
were on the track of Ketchum and his carpet-bag of bank-notes.

"Is there any reward out?" cried Lowe.

"Not yet!"

"Then we won't pursue him."

As we slowly drifted to the left, the Hudson shone through the trees,
and before dusk we swept across Lake Mahopec. I heard a voice singing to
the dip of oars, and had to be held down by five men to restrain an
involuntary impulse to quit my company.

"Townsend," said Lowe, "have you the copy of that matter you printed
about me in England? This is the time to call you to account for it. We
are two or three miles above _terra firma_, and I might like to drop you
for a parachute."

I felt Lowe's muscle, and knew myself secure. Then I unrolled the pages,
which I fortunately carried with me, and told him the following news
about himself:--

The aeronaut of the Army of the Potomac was Mr. S. T. C. Lowe; he had
made seven thousand ascensions, and his army companion was invariably
either an artist, a correspondent, or a telegrapher.

A minute insulated wire reached from the car to headquarters, and
McClellan was thus informed of all that could be seen within the
Confederate works. Sometimes they remained aloft for hours, making
observations with powerful glasses, and once or twice the enemy tested
their distance with shell.

On the 13th of April, the Confederates sent up a balloon, the first they
had employed, at which Lowe was infinitely amused. He said that it had
neither shape nor buoyancy, and predicted that it would burst or fall
apart after a week. It certainly occurred that, after a few fitful
appearances, the stranger was seen no more, till, on the 28th of June,
it floated, like a thing of omen, over the spires of Richmond. At that
time the Federals were in full retreat, and all the acres were covered
with their dead.

On the 11th of April, at five o'clock, an event at once amusing and
thrilling occurred at our quarters. The commander-in-chief had appointed
his personal and confidential friend, General Fitz John Porter, to
conduct the siege of Yorktown. Porter was a polite, soldierly gentleman,
and a native of New Hampshire, who had been in the regular army since
early manhood. He fought gallantly in the Mexican war, being thrice
promoted and once seriously wounded, and he was now forty years of
age,--handsome, enthusiastic, ambitious, and popular. He made frequent
ascensions with Lowe, and learned to go aloft alone. One day he ascended
thrice, and finally seemed as cosily at home in the firmament as upon
the solid earth. It is needless to say that he grew careless, and on
this particular morning leaped into the car and demanded the cables to
be let out with all speed. I saw with some surprise that the flurried
assistants were sending up the great straining canvas with a single rope
attached. The enormous bag was only partially inflated, and the loose
folds opened and shut with a crack like that of a musket. Noisily,
fitfully, the yellow mass rose into the sky, the basket rocking like a
leather in the zephyr; and just as I turned aside to speak to a comrade,
a sound came from overhead, like the explosion of a shell, and something
striking me across the face laid me flat upon the ground.

Half blind and stunned, I staggered to my feet, but the air seemed full
of cries and curses. Opening my eyes ruefully, I saw all faces turned
upwards, and when I looked above,--the balloon was adrift.

The treacherous cable, rotted with vitriol, had snapped in twain; one
fragment had been the cause of my downfall, and the other trailed, like
a great entrail, from the receding car, where Fitz John Porter was
bounding upward upon a Pegasus that he could neither check nor direct.

The whole army was agitated by the unwonted occurrence. From battery No.
1, on the brink of the York, to the mouth of Warwick river, every
soldier and officer was absorbed. Far within the Confederate lines the
confusion extended. We heard the enemy's alarm-guns, and directly the
signal flags were waving up and down our front.

The General appeared directly over the edge of the car. He was tossing
his hands frightenedly, and shouting something that we could not
comprehend.

"O--pen--the--valve!" called Lowe, in his shrill tones;
"climb--to--the--netting--and--reach--the--valve--rope."

"The valve!--the valve!" repeated a multitude of tongues, and all gazed
with thrilling interest at the retreating hulk that still kept straight
upward, swerving neither to the east nor the west.

It was a weird spectacle,--that frail, fading oval, gliding against the
sky, floating in the serene azure, the little vessel swinging silently
beneath, and a hundred thousand martial men watching the loss of their
brother in arms, but powerless to relieve or recover him. Had Fitz John
Porter been drifting down the rapids of Niagara, he could not have been
so far from human assistance. But we saw him directly, no bigger than a
child's toy, clambering up the netting and reaching for the cord.

"He can't do it," muttered a man beside me; "the wind blows the
valve-rope to and fro, and only a spry, cool-headed fellow can catch
it."

We saw the General descend, and appearing again over the edge of the
basket, he seemed to be motioning to the breathless hordes below, the
story of his failure. Then he dropped out of sight, and when we next saw
him, he was reconnoitring the Confederate works through a long black
spy-glass. A great laugh went up and down the lines as this cool
procedure was observed, and then a cheer of applause ran from group to
group. For a moment it was doubtful that the balloon would float in
either direction; it seemed to falter, like an irresolute being, and
moved reluctantly southeastward, towards Fortress Monroe. A huzza, half
uttered, quivered on every lip. All eyes glistened, and some were dim
with tears of joy. But the wayward canvas now turned due westward, and
was blown rapidly toward the Confederate works. Its course was fitfully
direct, and the wind seemed to veer often, as if contrary currents,
conscious of the opportunity, were struggling for the possession of the
daring navigator. The south wind held mastery for awhile, and the
balloon passed the Federal front amid a howl of despair from the
soldiery. It kept right on, over sharpshooters, rifle-pits, and
outworks, and finally passed, as if to deliver up its freight, directly
over the heights of Yorktown. The cool courage, either of heroism or
despair, had seized upon Fitz John Porter. He turned his black glass
upon the ramparts and masked cannon below, upon the remote camps, upon
the beleaguered town, upon the guns of Gloucester Point, and upon
distant Norfolk. Had he been reconnoitring from a secure perch at the
tip of the moon, he could not have been more vigilant, and the
Confederates probably thought this some Yankee device to peer into their
sanctuary in despite of ball or shell. None of their great guns could be
brought to bear upon the balloon; but there were some discharges of
musketry that appeared to have no effect, and finally even these
demonstrations ceased. Both armies in solemn silence were gazing aloft,
while the imperturbable mariner continued to spy out the land.

The sun was now rising behind us, and roseate rays struggled up to the
zenith, like the arcs made by showery bombs. They threw a hazy
atmosphere upon the balloon, and the light shone through the network
like the sun through the ribs of the skeleton ship in the _Ancient
Mariner_. Then, as all looked agape, the air-craft "plunged, and tacked,
and veered," and drifted rapidly toward the Federal lines again.

The allelujah that now went up shook the spheres, and when he had
regained our camp limits, the General was seen clambering up again to
clutch the valve-rope. This time he was successful, and the balloon fell
like a stone, so that all hearts once more leaped up, and the cheers
were hushed. Cavalry rode pell-mell from several directions, to reach
the place of descent, and the General's personal staff galloped past me
like the wind, to be the first at his debarkation. I followed the throng
of soldiery with due haste, and came up to the horsemen in a few
minutes. The balloon had struck a canvas tent with great violence,
felling it as by a bolt, and the General, unharmed, had disentangled
himself from innumerable folds of oiled canvas, and was now the cynosure
of an immense group of people. While the officers shook his hands, the
rabble bawled their satisfaction in hurrahs, and a band of music
marching up directly, the throng on foot and horse gave him a vociferous
escort to his quarters.

Five miles east of Richmond, in the middle of May, we found the balloon
already partially inflated, resting behind a ploughed hill that formed
one of a ridge or chain of hills, bordering the Chickahominy. The stream
was only a half-mile distant, but the balloon was sheltered from
observation by reason of its position in the hollow.

Heretofore the ascensions had been made from remote places, for there
was good reason to believe that batteries lined the opposite hills; but
now, for the first time, Lowe intended to make an ascent whereby he
could look into Richmond, count the forts encircling it, and note the
number and position of the camps that intervened. The balloon was named
the "Constitution," and looked like a semi-distended boa-constrictor, as
it flapped with a jerking sound, and shook its oiled and painted folds.
It was anchored to the ground by stout ropes affixed to stakes, and also
by sand-bags which hooked to its netting. The basket lay alongside; the
generators were contained in blue wooden wagons, marked "U. S.;" and
the gas was fed to the balloon through rubber and metallic pipes. A tent
or two, a quantity of vitriol in green and wicker carboys, some horses
and transportation teams, and several men that assisted the inflation,
were the only objects to be remarked. As some time was to transpire
before the arrangements were completed, I resorted to one of the tents
and took a comfortable nap. The "Professor" aroused me at three o'clock,
when I found the canvas straining its bonds, and emitting a hollow
sound, as of escaping gas. The basket was made fast directly, the
telescopes tossed into place; the Professor climbed to the side, holding
by the network; and I coiled up in a rope at the bottom.

"Stand by your cables," he said, and the bags of ballast were at once
cut away. Twelve men took each a rope in hand, and played out slowly,
letting us glide gently upward. The earth seemed to be falling away, and
we poised motionless in the blue ether. The tree-tops sank downward, the
hills dropped noiselessly through space, and directly the Chickahominy
was visible beyond us, winding like a ribbon of silver through the ridgy
landscape.

Far and wide stretched the Federal camps. We saw faces turned upwards
gazing at our ascent, and heard clearly, as in a vacuum, the voices of
soldiers. At every second the prospect widened, the belt of horizon
enlarged, remote farmhouses came in view; the earth was like a perfectly
flat surface, painted with blue woods, and streaked with pictures of
roads, fields, fences, and streams. As we climbed higher, the river
seemed directly beneath us, the farms on the opposite bank were plainly
discernible, and Richmond lay only a little way off, enthroned on its
many hills, with the James stretching white and sinuous from its feet to
the horizon. We could see the streets, the suburbs, the bridges, the
outlaying roads, nay, the moving masses of people. The Capitol sat white
and colossal on Shockoe Hill, the dingy buildings of the Tredegar works
blackened the river-side above, the hovels of rockets clustered at the
hither limits, and one by one we made out familiar hotels, public
edifices, and vicinities. The fortifications were revealed in part only,
for they took the hue of the soil, and blended with it; but many camps
were plainly discernible, and by means of the glasses we separated tent
from tent, and hut from hut. The Confederates were seen running to the
cover of the woods, that we might not discover their numbers, but we
knew the location of their camp-fires by the smoke that curled toward
us.

A panorama so beautiful would have been rare at any time, but this was
thrice interesting from its past and coming associations. Across those
plains the hordes at our feet were either to advance victoriously, or be
driven eastward with dusty banners and dripping hands. Those white
farm-houses were to be receptacles for the groaning and the mangled;
thousands were to be received beneath the turf of those pasture fields;
and no rod of ground on any side, should not, sooner or later, smoke
with the blood of the slain.

"Guess I got 'em now, jest where I want 'em," said Lowe, with a
gratified laugh; "jest keep still as you mind to, and squint your eye
through my glass, while I make a sketch of the roads and the country.
Hold hard there, and anchor fast!" he screamed to the people below. Then
he fell imperturbably to work, sweeping the country with his hawk-eye,
and escaping nothing that could contribute to the completeness of his
jotting.

We had been but a few minutes thus poised, when close below, from the
edge of a timber stretch, puffed a volume of white smoke. A second
afterward, the air quivered with the peal of a cannon. A third, and we
heard the splitting shriek of a shell, that passed a little to our left,
but in exact range, and burst beyond us in the ploughed field, heaving
up the clay as it exploded.

"Ha!" said Lowe, "they have got us foul! Haul in the cables--quick!" he
shouted, in a fierce tone.

At the same instant, the puff, the report, and the shriek were repeated;
but this time the shell burst to our right in mid-air, and scattered
fragments around and below us.

"Another shot will do our business," said Lowe, between his teeth; "it
isn't a mile, and they have got the range."

Again the puff and the whizzing shock. I closed my eyes, and held my
breath hard. The explosion was so close, that the pieces of shell seemed
driven across my face, and my ears quivered with the sound. I looked at
Lowe, to see if he was struck. He had sprung to his feet, and clutched
the cordage frantically.

"Are you pulling in there, you men?" he bellowed, with a loud
imprecation.

"Puff! bang! whiz-z-z-z! splutter!" broke a third shell, and my heart
was wedged in my throat.

I saw at a glimpse the whole bright landscape again. I hoard the voices
of soldiers below, and saw them running across fields, fences, and
ditches, to reach our anchorage. I saw some drummer-boys digging in the
field beneath for one of the buried shells. I saw the waving of signal
flags, the commotion through the camps,--officers galloping their
horses, teamsters whipping their mules, regiments turning out, drums
beaten, and batteries limbered up. I remarked, last of all, the site of
the battery that alarmed us, and, by a strange sharpness of sight and
sense, believed that I saw the gunners swabbing, ramming, and aiming the
pieces.

"Puff! bang! whiz-z-z-z! splutter! crash!"

"Puff! bang! whiz-z-z-z! splutter! crash!"

"My God!" said Lowe, hissing the words slowly and terribly, "_they have
opened upon us from another battery_!"

The scene seemed to dissolve. A cold dew broke from my forehead. I grew
blind and deaf. I had fainted.

"Pitch some water in his face," said somebody. "He ain't used to it.
Hallo! there he comes to."

I staggered to my feet. There must have been a thousand men about us.
They were looking curiously at the aeronaut and me. The balloon lay
fuming and struggling on the clods.

"Three cheers for the Union bal-loon!" called a little fellow at my
side.

"Hip, hip--hoorooar! hoorooar! hoorooar!"

"Tiger-r-r--yah! whoop!"



CHAPTER XII.

SEVEN PINES AND FAIROAKS.


Returning from White House on Saturday, May 29, I heard the cannon of
"Seven Pines." The roar of artillery came faintly upon the ear in the
dells and woods, but in the open stretches of country, or from cleared
hill-tops, I could hear also the volleys of musketry. It was the battle
sound that assured me of bloody work; for the musket, as I had learned
by experience, was the only certain signification of battle. It is
seldom brought into requisition but at close quarters, when results are
intended; whereas, cannon may peal for a fortnight, and involve no other
destruction than that of shell and powder. I do not think that any throb
of my heart was unattended by some volley or discharge. Dull, hoarse,
uninterrupted, the whole afternoon was shaken by the sound. It was with
a shudder that I thought how every peal announced flesh and bone riven
asunder. The country people, on the way, stood in their side yards,
anxiously listening. Riders or teamsters coming from the field, were
beset with inquiries; but in the main they knew nothing. As I stopped at
Daker's for dinner, the concussion of the battle rattled our plates, and
the girls entirely lost their appetites, so that Glumley, who listened
and speculated, observed that the baby face was losing all the lines of
art, and was quite flat and faded in color. Resuming our way, we
encountered a sallow, shabby person, driving a covered wagon, who
recognized me at once. It was the "Doctor" who had lightened the
journey down the Chesapeake, by a discourse upon embalming. He pointed
toward the field with a long bony finger, and called aloud, with a smirk
upon his face--

"I have the apparatus here, you see. They will need me out yonder, you
know. There's opportunity there for the development of the 'system.'"

I did not reach my own camp at Gaines's Farm, till late in the day. The
firing had almost entirely ceased, but occasional discharges still broke
the repose of evening, and at night signal rockets hissed and showered
in every direction. Next day the contest recommenced; but although not
farther in a direct line, than seven miles, from our encampment, I could
not cross the Chickahominy, and was compelled to lie in my tent all day.

These two battles were offered by the Confederates, in the hope of
capturing that portion of the Federal army that lay upon the Richmond
side of the river. Some days previously, McClellan had ordered Keyes's
corps, consisting of perhaps twelve thousand men, to cross Bottom
Bridge, eight miles down the Chickahominy, and occupy an advanced
position on the York River railroad, six miles east of Richmond. Keyes's
two divisions, commanded by Generals Couch and Casey, were thus encamped
in a belt of woods remote from the body of the army, and little more
than a mile from the enemy's line. Heintzelman's corps was lying at the
Bridge, several miles in their rear, and the three finest corps in the
army were separated from them by a broad, rapid river, which could be
crossed at two places only. The troops of Keyes were mainly
inexperienced, undisciplined volunteers from the Middle States. When
their adversaries advanced, therefore, in force, on the twenty-ninth
instant, they made a fitful, irregular resistance, and at evening
retired in panic and disorder. The victorious enemy followed them so
closely, that many of the Federals were slain in their tents. During
that night, the Chickahominy, swollen by rains, overflowed its banks,
and swept away the bridges. The beaten and disorganized relic of the
fight of "Seven Pines," was thus completely isolated, and apparently to
be annihilated at daybreak. But during the night, twenty thousand fresh
men of Sumner's corps, forded the river, carrying their artillery, piece
by piece across, and at dawn they assumed the offensive, seconded by the
encouraged columns of Keyes. The fight was one of desperation; at night
the Federals reoccupied their old ground at Fairoaks, and the
Confederates retired, leaving their dead and wounded on the field. They
lost, among their prisoners, General Pettigrew, of South Carolina, who
was severely wounded, and with whom I talked as he lay in bed at
Gaines's Mansion. He appeared to be a chivalrous, gossipy old gentleman,
and said that he was the last South Carolinian to stand by the Union.

On the succeeding day, Monday, June 2, I rode to "Grape-Vine Bridge,"
and attempted to force my horse through the swamp and stream; but the
drowned mules that momentarily floated down the current, admonished me
of the folly of the hazard. The bridge itself was a swimming mass of
poles and logs, that yielded with every pressure; yet I saw many wounded
men, who waded through the water, or stepped lightly from log to log,
and so gained the shore, wet from head to foot. Long lines of supply
teams and ambulances were wedged in the depth of the thick wood,
bordering the river; but so narrow were the corduroy approaches to the
bridge, and so fathomless the swamp on either hand, that they could
neither go forward, nor return. The straggling troops brought the
unwelcome intelligence, that their comrades on the other side were
starving, as they had crossed with a single ration of food, and had long
ago eaten their last morsels. While I was standing close by the bridge,
General McClellan, and staff, rode through the swamp, and attempted to
make the passage. The "young Napoleon," urged his horse upon the
floating timber, and at once sank over neck and saddle. His staff
dashed after him, floundering in the same way; and when they had
splashed and shouted, till I believed them all drowned, they turned and
came to shore, dripping and discomfited. There was another Napoleon,
who, I am informed, slid down the Alps into Italy; the present
descendant did not slide so far, and he shook himself, after the manner
of a dog. I remarked with some surprise, that he was growing obese;
whereas, the active labors of the campaign had reduced the dimensions of
most of the Generals.

I secured my horse, and placed a drummer-boy beside him, to prevent
abduction or mistake; then stripping from top to toe, and holding my
garments above my head, I essayed the difficult passage; as a
commencement, I dropped my watch, but the guard-hook caught in a log and
held it fast. Afterward, I slipped from the smooth butt of a tree, and
thoroughly soused myself and clothing; a lumber-man from Maine, beheld
my ill luck, and kindly took my burden to the other side. An estuary of
the Chickahominy again intervened, but a rough scow floated upon it,
which the Captain of Engineers sent for me, with a soldier to man the
oars. I neglected to "trim boat," I am sorry to add, although admonished
to that effect repeatedly by the mariner; and we swamped in four feet of
water. I resembled a being of one of the antediluvian eras, when I came
to land, finally, and might have been taken for a slimy Iguanodon. I
sacrificed some of my under clothing to the process of cleansing and
drying, and so started with soaking boots, and a deficiency of dress, in
the direction of Savage's. Passing the "bottom," or swamp-land, I
ascended a hill, and following a lane, stopped after a half hour at a
frame-mansion, unpainted, with some barns and negro-quarters contiguous,
and a fine grove of young oaks, shading the porch. An elderly gentleman
sat in the porch, sipping a julep, with his feet upon the railing, and
conversing with a stout, ruddy officer, of decidedly Milesian
physiognomy. When I approached, the latter hurriedly placed a chair
between himself and me, and said, with a stare--

"Bloodanowns! And where have ye been? Among the hogs, I think?" I
assured him that I did not intend to come to close quarters, and that it
would be no object on my part to contaminate him. The old gentleman
called for "William," a tall, consumptive servant, whose walk reminded
me of a stubborn convict's, in the treadmill, and ordered him to scrape
me, which was done, accordingly, with a case-knife. The young officer
proposed to dip me in the well and wring me well out, but I demurred,
mainly on the ground that some time would be so consumed, and that my
horse was waiting on the other side. He at once said that he would send
for it, and called "Pat," a civilian servant, in military blue, who was
nursing a negro baby with an eye, it seemed, to obtain favor with the
mother. The willingness of the man surprised me, but he said that it was
a short cut of four miles to the railroad bridge, which had been
repaired and floored, and that he could readily recover the animal and
return at three o'clock. My benefactor, the officer, then mixed a julep,
which brought a comfortable glow to my face, and said, without parley--

"You're a reporter, on the----"

He said further, that he had been Coroner's Surgeon in New York for many
years, and had learned to know the representatives of newspapers, one
from the other, by generic manner and appearance. Three correspondents
rode by at the time, neither of whom he knew personally, but designated
them promptly, with their precise connections. In short, we became
familiar directly, and he told me that his name was O'Gamlon,
Quartermaster of Meagher's Irish brigade, Sumner's corps. He was
established with the elderly gentleman,--whose name was Michie,--and had
two horses in the stable, at hand. He proposed to send me to the field,
with a note of introduction to the General, and another to Colonel
Baker, of the New York 88th (Irish), who could show me the lines and
relics of battle, and give me the lists of killed, wounded, and missing.
I repaired to his room, and arrayed myself in a fatigue officer's suit,
with clean underclothing, after which, descending, I climbed into his
saddle, and dashed off, with a mettlesome, dapper pony. The railroad
track was about a mile from the house, and the whole country, hereabout,
was sappy, dank, and almost barren. Scrub pines covered much of the
soil, and the cleared fields were dotted with charred stumps. The houses
were small and rude; the wild pigs ran like deer through the bushes and
across my path; vultures sailed by hundreds between me and the sky; the
lane was slippery and wound about slimy pools; the tree-tops, in many
places, were splintered by ball and shell. I crossed the railroad, cut
by a high bridge, and saw below the depot, at Savage's, now the
head-quarters of General Heintzelman. Above, in full view, were the
commands at Peach Orchard and Fairoaks, and to the south, a few furlongs
distant, the Williamsburg and Richmond turnpike ran, parallel with the
railway, toward the field of Seven Pines. The latter site, was simply
the junction of the turnpike with a roundabout way to Richmond, called
the "Nine Mile Road," and Fairoaks was the junction of the diverging
road with the railroad. Toward the latter I proceeded, and soon came to
the Irish brigade, located on both sides of the way, at Peach Orchard.

They occupied the site of the most desperate fighting.

A small farm hollowed in the swampy thicket and wood, was here divided
by the track, and a little farm-house, with a barn, granary, and a
couple of cabins, lay on the left side. In a hut to the right General
Thomas Francis Meagher made his head-quarters, and a little beyond, in
the edges of the swamp timber, lay his four regiments, under arms.

A guard admonished me, in curt, lithe speech, that my horse must come no
further; for the brigade held the advance post, and I was even now
within easy musket range of the imperceptible enemy. An Irish boy
volunteered to hold the rein, while I paid my respects to the Commander.
I encountered him on the threshold of the hut, and he welcomed me in the
richest and most musical of brogues. Large, corpulent, and powerful of
body; plump and ruddy--or as some would say, bloated--of face; with
resolute mouth and heavy animal jaws; expressive nose, and piercing
blue-eyes; brown hair, mustache, and eyebrows; a fair forehead, and
short sinewy neck, a man of apparently thirty years of age, stood in the
doorway, smoking a cigar, and trotting his sword fretfully in the
scabbard. He wore the regulation blue cap, but trimmed plentifully with
gold lace, and his sleeves were slashed in the same manner. A star
glistened in his oblong shoulder-bar; a delicate gold cord seamed his
breeches from his Hessian boots to his red tasselled sword-sash; a
seal-ring shone from the hand with which he grasped his gauntlets, and
his spurs were set upon small aristocratic feet.

A tolerable physiognomist would have resolved his temperament to an
intense sanguine. He was fitfully impulsive, as all his movements
attested, and liable to fluctuations of peevishness, melancholy, and
enthusiasm. This was "Meagher of the Sword," the stripling who made
issue with the renowned O'Connell, and divided his applauses; the
"revolutionist," who had outlived exile to become the darling of the
"Young Ireland" populace in his adopted country; the partisan, whose
fierce, impassioned oratory had wheeled his factious element of the
Democracy into the war cause; and the soldier, whose gallant bearing at
Bull Run had won him a brigadiership. He was, to my mind, a realization
of the Knight of Gwynne, or any of the rash, impolitic, poetic
personages in Lever and Griffin. Ambitious without a name; an adventurer
without a definite cause; an orator without policy; a General without
caution or experience, he had led the Irish brigade through the hottest
battles, and associated them with the most brilliant episodes of the
war.

Every adjunct of the place was strictly Hibernian. The emerald green
standard entwined with the red, white, and blue; the gilt eagles on the
flag-poles held the Shamrock sprig in their beaks; the soldiers lounging
on guard, had "69" or "88" the numbers of their regiments, stamped on a
green hat-band; the brogue of every county from Down to Wexford fell
upon the ear; one might have supposed that the "year '98" had been
revived, and that these brawny Celts were again afield against their
Saxon countrymen. The class of lads upon the staff of Meagher, was an
odd contrast to the mass of staff officers in the "Grand Army."
Fox-hunters they all seemed to me, and there was one, who wore a long,
twisted, pomatumed moustache, who talked of steeple chases, all the
while, and wanted to have "a healthy dash" of some kind. A class of
Irish exquisites, they appeared to be,--good for a fight, a card-party,
or a hurdle jumping,--but entirely too Quixotic for the sober
requirements of Yankee warfare. When anything absurd, forlorn, or
desperate was to be attempted, the Irish brigade was called upon. But,
ordinarily, they were regarded, as a party of mad fellows, more
ornamental than useful, and entirely too clannish and factious to be
entrusted with power. Meagher himself seemed to be less erratic than his
subordinates; for he had married a New York lady, and had learned, by
observation, the superiority of the pelfish, plodding native before his
own fitful, impracticable race. His address was infatuating: but there
was a certain airiness, indicative of vanity, that revealed his great
characteristic. He loved applause, and to obtain it had frittered away
his fine abilities, upon petty, splendid, momentary triumphs. He was
generous to folly, and, I have no doubt, maintained his whole staff.

When I requested to be shown the field, and its relics, Meagher said, in
his musical brogue, that I need only look around.

"From the edge of that wood," he said, "the Irish brigade charged across
this field, and fell upon their faces in the railway cutting below. A
regiment of Alabamians lay in the timber beyond, with other Southerners
in their rear, and on both flanks. They thought that we were charging
bayonets, and reserved their fire till we should approach within
butchering distance. On the contrary, I ordered the boys to lie down,
and load and fire at will. In the end, sir, we cut them to pieces, and
five hundred of them were left along the swamp fence, that you see.
There isn't fifty killed and wounded in the whole Irish brigade."

A young staff officer took me over the field. We visited first the
cottage and barns across the road, and found the house occupied by some
thirty wounded Federals. They lay in their blankets upon the
floors,--pale, helpless, hollow-eyed, making low moans at every breath.
Two or three were feverishly sleeping, and, as the flies revelled upon
their gashes, they stirred uneasily and moved their hands to and fro. By
the flatness of the covering at the extremities, I could see that
several had only stumps of legs. They had lost the sweet enjoyment of
walking afield, and were but fragments of men, to limp forever through a
painful life. Such wrecks of power I never beheld. Broad, brawny,
buoyant, a few hours ago, the loss of blood, and the nervous shock,
attendant upon amputation, has wellnigh drained them to the last drop.
Their faces were as white as the tidy ceiling; they were whining like
babies; and only their rolling eyes distinguished them from mutilated
corpses. Some seemed quite broken in spirit, and one, who could speak,
observing my pitiful glances toward his severed thigh, drew up his mouth
and chin, and wept as if with the loss of comeliness all his ambitions
were frustrated. A few attendants were brushing off the insects with
boughs of cedar, laving the sores, or administering cooling draughts.
The second story of the dwelling was likewise occupied by wounded, but
in a corner clustered the terrified farmer and his family, vainly
attempting to turn their eyes from the horrible spectacle. The farmer's
wife had a baby at her breast, and its little blue eyes were straying
over the room, half wonderingly, half delightedly. I thought, with a
shudder, of babyhood thus surrounded, and how, in the long future, its
first recollections of existence should be of booming guns and dying
soldiers! The cow-shed contained seven corpses, scarcely yet cold, lying
upon their backs, in a row, and fast losing all resemblance to man. The
farthest removed, seemed to be a diminutive boy, and I thought if he had
a mother, that she might sometime like to speak with me. When I took
their names, I thought what terrible agencies I was fulfilling. Beyond
my record, falsely spelled, perhaps, they would have no history. And
people call such deaths glorious!

Upon a pile of lumber and some heaps of fence-rails, close by, sat some
dozens of wounded men, mainly Federals, with bandaged arms and faces,
and torn clothing. There was one, shot in the foot, who howled at every
effort to remove his boot; the blood leaked from a rent in the side, and
at last, the leather was cut, piecemeal from the flesh. These ate
voraciously, though in pain and fear; for a little soup and meat was
being doled out to them.

The most horrible of all these scenes--which I have described perhaps
too circumstantially--was presented in the stable or barn, on the
premises, where a bare dingy floor--the planks of which tilted and
shook, as one made his way over them--was strewn with suffering people.
Just at the entrance sat a boy, totally blind, both eyes having been
torn out by a minnie-ball, and the entire bridge of the nose shot away.
He crouched against the gable, in darkness and agony, tremulously
fingering his knees. Near at hand, sat another, who had been shot
through the middle of the forehead, but singular to relate, he still
lived, though lunatic, and evidently beyond hope. Death had drawn blue
and yellow circles beneath his eyes, and he muttered incomprehensibly,
wagging his head. Two men, perfectly naked, lay in the middle of the
place, wounded in bowels and loins; and at a niche in the
weather-boarding, where some pale light peeped in, four mutilated
wretches were gaming with cards. I was now led a little way down the
railroad, to see the Confederates. The rain began to fall at this time,
and the poor fellows shut their eyes to avoid the pelting of the drops.
There was no shelter for them within a mile, and the mud absolutely
reached half way up their bodies. Nearly one third had suffered
amputation above the knee. There were about thirty at this spot, and I
was told that they were being taken to Meadow Station on hand cars. As
soon as the locomotive could pass the Chickahominy, they would be
removed to White House, and comfortably quartered in the Sanitary and
hospital boats. Some of them were fine, athletic, and youthful, and I
was directed to one who had been married only three days before.

"Doctor," said one, feebly, "I feel very cold: do you think that this is
death? It seems to be creeping to my heart. I have no feeling, in my
feet, and my thighs are numb."

A Federal soldier came along with a bucket of soup, and proceeded to
fill the canteens and plates. He appeared to be a relative of Mark
Tapley, and possessed much of that estimable person's jollity--

"Come, pardner," he said, "drink yer sup! now, old boy, this'ill warm
ye; sock it down and ye'll see yer sweetheart soon. You dead,
Ally-bammy? Go way, now. You'll live a hundred years, you will. That's
wot you'll do. Won't he, lad? What? Not any? Get out! You'll be slap on
your legs next week and hev another shot at me the week a'ter that. You
know you will! Oh! you Rebil! You, with the butternut trousers! Say!
Wake up and take some o' this. Hello! lad, pardner. Wake up!"

He stirred him gently with his foot; he bent down to touch his face. A
grimness came over his merriment. The man was stiff and dumb.

Colonel Baker, commanding the 88th New York, was a tall, martial
Irishman, who opened his heart and bottle at the same welcome, and took
me into the woods, where some of the slain still remained. He had slept
not longer than an hour, continuously, for seventy hours, and during the
past night had been called up by eight alarums. His men lay in the dark
thickets, without fires or blankets, as they had crossed the
Chickahominy in light marching order.

"Many a lad," said he, "will escape the bullet for a lingering
consumption."

We had proceeded but a very little way, when we came to a trodden place
beneath the pines, where a scalp lay in the leaves, and the imprint of a
body was plainly visible. The bayonet scabbard lay at one side, the
canteen at the other. We saw no corpses, however, as fatigue parties had
been burying the slain, and the whole wood was dotted with heaps of
clay, where the dead slept below in the oozy trenches. Quantities of
cartridges were scattered here and there, dropped by the retreating
Confederates. Some of the cartridge-pouches that I examined were
completely filled, showing that their possessors had not fired a single
round; others had but one cartridge missing. There were fragments of
clothing, hair, blankets, murderous bowie and dirk knives, spurs,
flasks, caps, and plumes, dropped all the way through the thicket, and
the trees on every hand were riddled with balls. I came upon a squirrel,
unwittingly shot during the fight. Not those alone who make the war must
feel the war! At one of the mounds the burying party had just completed
their work, and the men were throwing the last clods upon the remains.
They had dug pits of not more than two feet depth, and dragged the
bodies heedlessly to the edges, whence they were toppled down and
scantily covered. Much of the interring had been done by night, and the
flare of lanterns upon the discolored faces and dead eyes must have
been hideously effective. The grave-diggers, however, were practical
personages, and had probably little care for dramatic effects. They
leaned upon their spades, when the rites were finished, and a large, dry
person, who appeared to be privileged upon all occasions, said,
grinningly--

"Colonel, your honor, them boys 'ill niver stand forninst the Irish
brigade again. If they'd ha' known it was us, sur, begorra! they 'ud ha'
brought coffins wid 'em."

"No, niver!" "They got their ticket for soup!" "We kivered them, fait',
will inough!" shouted the other grave-diggers.

"Do ye belave, Colonel," said the dry person, again, "that thim
ribals'll lave us a chance to catch them. Be me sowl! I'm jist wishin to
war-rum me hands wid rifle practice."

The others echoed loudly, that they were anxious to be ordered up, and
some said that "Little Mac'll give 'em his big whack now." The presence
of death seemed to have added no fear of death to these people. Having
tasted blood, they now thirsted for it, and I asked myself,
forebodingly, if a return to civil life would find them less ferocious.

I dined with Colonel Owen of the 69th Pennsylvania (Irish) volunteers.
He had been a Philadelphia lawyer, and was, by all odds, the most
consistent and intelligent soldier in the brigade. He had been also a
schoolmaster for many years, but appeared to be in his element at the
head of a regiment, and was generally admitted to be an efficient
officer. He shared the prevailing antipathy to West Point graduates; for
at this time the arrogance of the regular officers, and the pride of the
volunteers, had embittered each against the other. His theory of
military education was, the establishment of State institutions, and the
reorganization of citizenship upon a strict militia basis. After dinner,
I rode to "Seven Pines," and examined some of the rifle pits used during
the engagement. A portion of this ground only had been retaken, and I
was warned to keep under cover; for sharpshooters lay close by, in the
underbrush. A visit to the graves of some Federal soldiers completed the
inspection. Some of the regiments had interred their dead in trenches;
but the New Englanders were all buried separately, and smooth slabs were
driven at the heads of the mounds, whereon were inscribed the names and
ages of the deceased. Some of the graves were freshly sodded, and
enclosed by rails and logs. They evidenced the orderly, religious habits
of the sons of the Puritans; for, with all his hardness of manner and
selfishness of purpose, I am inclined to think that the Yankee is the
best manifestation of Northern character. He loves his home, at least,
and he reveres his deceased comrades.

When I returned to Michie's, at six o'clock, the man "Pat," with a
glowing face, came out to the gate.

"That's a splendid baste of yours, sur," he said,--"and sich a boi to
gallop."

"My horse doesn't generally gallop," I returned, doubtfully.

When I passed to the barn in the rear, I found to my astonishment, a
sorrel stallion, magnificently accoutred. He thrust his foot at me
savagely, as I stood behind him, and neighed till he frightened the
spiders.

"Pat," said I, wrathfully, "you have stolen some Colonel's nag, and I
shall be hanged for the theft."

"Fait, sur," said Pat, "my ligs was gone intirely, wid long walkin', and
I sazed the furst iligant baste I come to."



CHAPTER XIII.

STUART'S RAID.


The old Chickahominy bridges were soon repaired, and the whole of
Franklin's corps crossed to the south side. McClellan moved his
head-quarters to Dr. Trent's farm, a half-mile from Michie's, and the
latter gentleman's fields and lawn were made white with tents. Among
others, the Chief of Cavalry, Stoneman, pitched his canopy under the
young oaks, and the whole reserve artillery was parked in the woods,
close to the house. The engineer brigade encamped in the adjacent
peach-orchard and corn-field, and the wheat was trampled by battery and
team-horses. Smith's division now occupied the hills on the south side
of the Chickahominy, and the Federal line stretched southeastward,
through Fairoaks, to White Oak Swamp, seven miles away. Porter's corps
still lay between Mechanicsville and New Bridge, on the north bank of
the river, and my old acquaintances, the Pennsylvania Reserves, had
joined the army, and now formed its extreme right wing. This odd
arrangement of forces was a subject of frequent comment: for the right
was thus four miles, and the left fourteen miles, from Richmond. The
four corps at once commenced to entrench, and from Smith's redoubt on
the river bluffs, to Casey's entrenched hill at White Oak, a continuous
line of moderately strong earthworks extended. But Porter and the
Reserves were not entrenched at all, and only a few horsemen were
picketed across the long reach of country from Meadow Bridge to Hanover
Court House. Both flanks, in fact, were open, and the left was a day's
march from the right. We were, meantime, drawing our supplies from White
House, twenty miles in the rear; there were no railroad guards along the
entire line, and about five companies protected the grand depot. Two
gunboats lay in the river, however, and as the teams still went to and
fro, a second depot was established at a place called Putney's or
"Garlic," five miles above White House. I went often, and at all hours
of the day and night, over this exposed and lonely route. My horse had
been, meantime, returned to the Provost Quarters, and the rightful owner
had obtained his stallion in exchange. I rode the said stallion but
once, when he proceeded to walk sideways, and several times rivalled the
renowned Pegasus in his aerial flights. The man named "Pat" essayed to
show his paces one day, but the stallion took him straight into
Stoneman's wall-tent, and that officer shook the Irishman blind. My
little bob-tailed brownie was thrice endeared to me by our separation;
but I warned the man "Pat" to keep clear of him thereafter. The man
"Pat" was a very eccentric person, who slept on the porch at Michie's,
and used to wake up the house in the small hours, with the story that
somebody was taking the chickens and the horses. He was the most
impulsive person that I ever knew, and when I entrusted despatches to
him once, he put them on the hospital boat by mistake, and they got to
New York at the close of the campaign.

Michie's soon became a correspondents' rendezvous, and we have had at
one time, at dinner, twelve representatives of five journals. The Hon.
Henry J. Raymond, Ex-Lieutenant Governor of New York, and proprietor of
the _Times_ newspaper, was one of our family for several weeks. He had
been a New Hampshire lad, and, strolling to New York, took to journalism
at the age of nineteen years. His industry and probity obtained him both
means and credit, and, also, what few young journalists obtain, social
position. He was the founder of Harper's Magazine, one of the most
successful serials in America, and many English authors are indebted to
him for a trans-Atlantic recognition of their works. He edited an
American edition of _Jane Eyre_ before it had attracted attention in
England, and conducted the _Courier and Enquirer_ with great success for
many years. The _Times_ is now the most reputable of the great New York
dailies, and Mr. Raymond has made it influential both at home and
abroad. He has retained, amidst his social and political successes, a
predilection for "Bohemia," and became an indefatigable correspondent. I
rode out with him sometimes, and heard, with interest, his accounts of
the Italian war, whither he also went in furtherance of journalism.
Among our quill cavalry-men was a fat gentleman from Philadelphia, who
had great fear of death, and who used to "tear" to White House, if the
man "Pat" shot a duck in the garden. He was a hearty, humorous person,
however, and an adept at searching for news.

O'Ganlon rode with me several times to White House, and we have crossed
the railroad bridge together, a hundred feet in the air, when the planks
were slippery, the sides sloping, and the way so narrow that two horses
could not pass abreast. He was a true Irishman, and leaped barricades
and ditches without regard to his neck. He had, also, a partiality for
by-roads that led through swamps and close timber. He discovered one day
a cow-path between Daker's and an old Mill at Grapevine Bridge. The long
arms of oaks and beech trees reached across it, and young Absalom might
have been ensnared by the locks at every rod therein. Through this
devious and dangerous way, O'Ganlon used to dash, whooping, guiding his
horse with marvellous dexterity, and bantering me to follow. I so far
forgot myself generally, as to behave quite as irrationally, and once
returned to Michie's with a bump above my right eye, that rivalled my
head in size. At other times I rode alone, and my favorite route was an
unfrequented lane called the "Quaker Road," that extended from Despatch
Station, on the line of rail, to Daker's, on the New Bridge Road. Much
of this way was shut in by thick woods and dreary pine barrens; but the
road was hard and light, and a few quiet farms lay by the roadside.
There was a mill, also, three miles from Daker's, where a turbulent
creek crossed the route, and at an oak-wood, near by, I used to frighten
the squirrels, so that they started up by pairs and families; I have
chased them in this way a full mile, and they seemed to know me after a
time. We used to be on the best of terms, and they would, at length,
stand their ground saucily, and chatter, the one with the other,
flourishing their bushy appendages, like so many straggling "Bucktails."
When I turned from the beaten road, where the ruts were like a ditch and
parapet, and dead horses blackened the fields; where teams went creaking
day and night, and squads of sabremen drove pale, barefooted prisoners
to and fro like swine or cattle, the silence and solitude of this
by-lane were beautiful as sleep. Many of the old people living in this
direction had not seen even a soldier or a sutler, save some mounted
scouts that vanished in clouds of dust; but they had listened with awe
to the music of cannon, though they did not know either the place or the
result of the fighting. If fate has ordained me to survive the
Rebellion, I shall some day revisit these localities; they are stamped
legibly upon my mind, and I know almost every old couple in New Kent or
Hanover counties. I have lunched at all the little springs on the road,
and eaten corn-bread and bacon at most of the cabins. I have swam the
Pamunkey at dozens of places, and when my finances were low, and my nag
hungry, have organized myself into a company of foragers, and broken
into the good people's granaries. I do not know any position that
admitted of as much adventure and variety. There was always enough
danger to make my journeys precariously pleasant, and, when wearied of
the saddle, my friends at Daker's and Michie's had a savory julep and a
comfortable bed always prepared. I had more liberty than General
McClellan, and a great deal more comfort.

Mrs. Michie was a warm-hearted, impulsive Virginia lady, with almost New
England industry, and from very scanty materials she contrived to spread
a bountiful table. Her coffee was bubbling with rich cream, and her
"yellow pone" was overrunning with butter. A cleanly black girl shook a
fly-brush over our shoulders as we ate, and the curious custom was
maintained of sending a julep to our bedrooms before we rose in the
mornings. Our hostess was too hospitable to be a bitter partisan, and
during five weeks of tenure at her residence, we never held an hour's
controversy. She had troubles, but she endured them patiently. She saw,
one by one, articles of property sacrificed or stolen; she heard the
servants speaking impudently; and her daughters and son were in a remote
part of the State. The young man was a Confederate Surgeon at Lynchburg,
and the young ladies had taken refuge in Rockbridge County. The latter
were, from all accounts, pretty and intelligent, and one day, as I
examined some parcels of books in the parlors, I found a volume of
amateur poems that some laboring bard had dedicated to the youngest of
them. Mr. Michie was a fine old Virginia gentleman, who remembered
Thomas Jefferson well, as he had been reared in that great statesman's
village, Charlottesville. He told me many anecdotes of Patrick Henry,
John Randolph, and other distinguished patriots.

I wrote in one of the absent daughter's albums the following lines:--

    Alas! for the pleasant peace we knew,
      In the happy summers of long ago,
    When the rivers were bright, and the skies were blue,
      By the homes of Henrico:
    We dreamed of wars that were far away,
      And read, as in fable, of blood that ran,
    Where the James and Chickahominy stray,
      Through the groves of Powhattan.

    'Tis a dream come true; for the afternoons
      Blow bugles of war, by our fields of grain,
    And the sabres clink, as the dark dragoons
      Come galloping up the lane;
    The pigeons have flown from the eves and tiles,
      The oat-blades have grown to blades of steel,
    And the Huns swarm down the leafy aisles
      Of the grand old Commonweal.

    They have torn the Indian fisher's nets,
      Where flows Pamunkey toward the sea,
    And blood runs red in the rivulets,
      That babbled and brawled in glee;
    The corpses are strewn in Fairoak glades,
      The hoarse guns thunder from Drury's Ridge,
    The fishes that played in the cove, deep shades,
      Are frightened from Bottom Bridge.

    I would that the year were blotted away,
      And the strawberry grew in the hedge again;
    That the scythe might swing in the tangled hay,
      And the squirrel romp in the glen;
    The walnut sprinkle the clover slopes,
      Where graze the sheep and the spotted steer;
    And the winter restore the golden hopes,
      That were trampled in a year.

On Friday, June 13, I made one of my customary trips to White House, in
the company of O'Ganlon. The latter individual, in the course of a
"healthy dash" that he made down the railroad ties,--whereby two shoes
shied from his mare's hoofs,--reined into a quicksand that threatened to
swallow his steed. He afterward left his sword at Summit Station, and I,
obligingly, rode back three miles to recover it. We dined at Daker's,
where Glumley sat beside the baby-face, pursuant to his art-duties, and
the plump, red-cheeked miss sat beside me. O'Ganlon was entertained by
the talkative daughter, who drove him quite mad; so that, when we
resumed our horses, he insisted upon a second "healthy dash," and
disappeared through a strip of woods. I followed, rationally, and had
come to a blacksmith's shop, at the corner of a diverging road, when I
was made aware of some startling occurrence in my rear. A mounted
officer dashed past me, shouting some unintelligible tidings, and he was
followed in quick succession by a dozen cavalry-men, who rode as if the
foul fiend was at their heels. Then came a teamster, bare-backed, whose
rent harness trailed in the road, and directly some wagons that were
halted before the blacksmith's, wheeled smartly, and rattled off towards
White House.

"What is the matter, my man?" I said to one of these lunatics,
hurriedly.

"The Rebels are behind!" he screamed, with white lips, and vanished.

I thought that it might be as well to take some other road, and so
struck off, at a dapper pace, in the direction of the new landing at
Putney's or "Garlic." At the same instant I heard the crack of carbines
behind, and they had a magical influence upon my speed. I rode along a
stretch of chestnut and oak wood, attached to the famous Webb estate,
and when I came to a rill that passed by a little bridge, under the way,
turned up its sandy bed and buried myself in the under-brush. A few
breathless moments only had intervened, when the roadway seemed shaken
by a hundred hoofs. The imperceptible horsemen yelled like a war-party
of Camanches, and when they had passed, the carbines rang ahead, as if
some bloody work was being done at every rod.

I remained a full hour under cover; but as no fresh approaches added to
my mystery and fear, I sallied forth, and kept the route to Putney's,
with ears erect and expectant pulses. I had gone but a quarter of a
mile, when I discerned, through the gathering gloom, a black, misshapen
object, standing in the middle of the road. As it seemed motionless, I
ventured closer, when the thing resolved to a sutler's wagon, charred
and broken, and still smoking from the incendiaries' torch. Further on,
more of these burned wagons littered the way, and in one place two slain
horses marked the roadside. When I emerged upon the Hanover road, sounds
of shrieks and shot issued from the landing at "Garlic," and, in a
moment, flames rose from the woody shores and reddened the evening. I
knew by the gliding blaze that vessels had been fired and set adrift,
and from my place could see the devouring element climbing rope and
shroud. In a twinkling, a second light appeared behind the woods to my
right, and the intelligence dawned upon me that the cars and houses at
Tunstall's Station had been burned. By the fitful illumination, I rode
tremulously to the old head-quarters at Black Creek, and as I
conjectured, the depot and train were luridly consuming. The vicinity
was marked by wrecked sutler's stores, the embers of wagons, and toppled
steeds. Below Black Creek the ruin did not extend: but when I came to
White House the greatest confusion existed. Sutlers were taking down
their booths, transports were slipping their cables, steamers moving
down the stream. Stuart had made the circuit of the Grand Army to show
Lee where the infantry could follow.



CHAPTER XIV.

FEVER DREAMS IN WAR.


A subtle enemy had of late joined the Confederate cause against the
invaders. He was known as Pestilence, and his footsteps were so soft
that neither scout nor picket could bar his entrance. His paths were
subterranean,--through the tepid swamp water, the shallow graves of the
dead; and aerial,--through the stench of rotting animals, the nightly
miasms of bog and fen. His victims were not pierced, or crushed, or
mangled, but their deaths were not less terrible, because more
lingering. They seemed to wither and shrivel away; their eyes became at
first very bright, and afterward lustreless; their skins grew hard and
sallow; their lips faded to a dry whiteness; all the fluids of the body
were consumed; and they crumbled to corruption before life had fairly
gone from them.

This visitation has been, by common consent, dubbed "the Chickahominy
fever," and some have called it the typhus fever. The troops called it
the "camp fever," and it was frequently aggravated by affections of the
bowels and throat. The number of persons that died with it was fabulous.
Some have gone so far as to say that the army could have better afforded
the slaughter of twenty thousand men, than the delay on the
Chickahominy. The embalmers were now enjoying their millennium, and a
steam coffin manufactory was erected at White House, where twenty men
worked day and night, turning out hundreds of pine boxes. I had,
occasion, in one of my visits to the depot, to repair to the tent of one
of the embalmers. He was a sedate, grave person, and when I saw him,
standing over the nude, hard corpse, he reminded me of the implacable
vulture, looking into the eyes of Prometheus. His battery and tube were
pulsing, like one's heart and lungs, and the subject was being drained
at the neck. I compared the discolored body with the figure of _Ianthe_,
as revealed in Queen Mab, but failed to see the beautifulness of death.

"If you could only make him breathe, Professor," said an officer
standing by.

The dry skin of the embalmer broke into chalky dimples, and he grinned
very much as a corpse might do:--

"Ah!" he said, "_then_ there would be money made."

To hear these embalmers converse with each other was like listening to
the witch sayings in Macbeth. It appeared that the arch-fiend of
embalming was a Frenchman named Sonça, or something of that kind, and
all these worthies professed to have purchased his "system." They told
grisly anecdotes of "operations," and experimented with chemicals, and
congratulated each other upon the fever. They would, I think, have piled
the whole earth with catacombs of stony corpses, and we should have no
more green graves, but keep our dead with us as household ornaments.

The negroes did not suffer with the fever, although their quarters were
close and filthy. Their Elysium had come; there was no more work. They
slept and danced and grinned, and these three actions made up the sum of
their existence. Such people to increase and multiply I never beheld.
There were scores of new babies every day; they appeared to be born by
twins and triplets; they learned to walk in twenty-four hours; and their
mothers were strong and hearty in less time. Such soulless, lost,
degraded men and women did nowhere else exist. The divinity they never
had; the human they had forgotten; they did no great wrongs,--thieving,
quarrelling, deceiving,--but they failed to do any rights, and their
worship was animal, and almost profane. They sang incongruous mixtures
of hymns and field songs:--

    "Oh! bruddern, watch an' pray, _watch_ an' pray!
    De harvest am a ripenin' our Lord an' Marser say!
      Oh! ho! yo! dat ole coon, de serpent, ho! oh!
                        Watch an' pray!"

I have heard them sing such medleys with tears in their eyes, apparently
fervid and rapt. A very gray old man would lead off, keeping time to the
words with his head and hands; the mass joining in at intervals, and
raising a screaming alleluja. Directly they would all rise, link hands,
and proceed to dance the accompaniment. The motion would be slow at
first, and the method of singing maintained; after a time they would
move more rapidly, shouting the lines together; and suddenly becoming
convulsed with strange excitement, they would toss up their arms, leap,
fall, groan, and, seemingly, lose consciousness. Their prayers were
earnest and vehement, but often degenerated to mere howls and noises.
Some of both sexes had grand voices, that rang like bugles, and the very
impropriety of their music made it fascinating. It used to seem to me
that any of the great composers might have borrowed advantageously some
of those original negro airs. In many cases, their owners came within
the lines, registered their allegiance, and recovered the negroes. These
were often veritable Shylocks, that claimed their pounds of flesh, with
unblushing reference to the law. The poor Africs went back cowed and
tearful, and it is probable that they were afterward sent to the far
South, that terrible _terra incognita_ to a border slave.

Among the houses to which I resorted was that of a Mr. Hill, one mile
from White House. He had a thousand acres of land and a valuable fishery
on the Pamunkey. The latter was worth, in good seasons, two thousand
dollars a year. He had fished and farmed with negroes; but these had
leagued to run away, and he sent them across the river to a second farm
that he owned in King William County. It was at Hill's house that the
widow Custis was visiting when young Washington reined at the gate, on
his road to Williamsburg. With reverent feelings I used to regard the
old place, and Hill frequently stole away from his formidable military
household, to talk with me on the front porch. Perhaps in the same
moonlights, with the river shimmering at their feet, and the grapevine
shadowing the creaky corners,--their voices softened, their chairs drawn
very close, their hands touching with a thrill,--the young soldier and
his affianced had made their courtship. I sometimes sat breathless,
thinking that their figures had come back, and that I heard them
whispering.

Hill was a Virginian,--large, hospitable, severe, proud,--and once I
ventured to speak upon the policy of slavery, with a view to develop his
own relation to the "institution." He said, with the swaggering manner
of his class, that slavery was a "domestic" institution, and that
therefore no political law could reach it. I insinuated, quietly, that
no political law should therefore sustain it, and took exception to the
idea that what was domestic was therefore without the province of
legislation. When I exampled polygamy, Hill became passionate, and asked
if I was an abolitionist. I opined that I was not, and he so far
relented as to say that slavery was sanctioned by divine and human laws;
that it was ultimately to be embraced by all white nationalities, and
that the Caucasian was certain, in the end, to subjugate and possess
every other race. He pointed, with some shrewdness, to the condition of
the Chinese in California and Australia, and epitomized the gradual
enslaving of the Mongol and Malay in various quarters of the world.

"As to our treatment of niggers," he said, curtly, "I never prevaricate,
as some masters do, in that respect. I whip my niggers when they want
it! If they are saucy, or careless, or lazy, I have 'em flogged. About
twice a year every nigger has to be punished. If they ain't roped over
twice a year, they take on airs and want to be gentlemen. A nigger is
bound by no sentiment of duty or affection. You must keep him in trim by
fear."

Among the victims of the swamp fever, were Major Larrabee, and
Lieutenant-Colonel Emory, of the Fifth Wisconsin regiment; I had been
indebted to them for many a meal and draught of spirits. I had talked
with each of them, when the camps were darkened and the soldiery asleep.
Larrabee was a soldier by nature,--adventurous, energetic, intrepid,
aggressive. He had been a country Judge in Wisconsin, and afterwards a
member of Congress. When the war commenced, he enlisted as a common
soldier, but public sentiment forced the State Government to make him a
Major. Emory was a mild, reflective, unimpassioned gentleman,--too
modest to be eminent, too scrupulous to be ambitious. The men were
opposites, but both capital companions, and they were seized with the
fever about the same time. The Major was removed to White House, and I
visited him one day in the hospital quarters. Surgeon General Watson,
hospital commandant, took me through the quarters; there was quite a
town of sick men; they lay in wall-tents--about twenty in a tent,--and
there were daily deaths; those that caught the fever, were afterwards
unfit for duty, as they took relapses on resuming the field. The tents
were pitched in a damp cornfield; for the Federals so reverenced their
national shrines, that they forbade White House and lawn to be used for
hospital purposes. Under the best circumstances, a field hospital is a
comfortless place; but here the sun shone like a furnace upon the tents,
and the rains drowned out the inmates. If a man can possibly avoid it,
let him never go to the hospital: for he will be called a "skulker," or
a "shyster," that desires to escape the impending battle. Twenty hot,
feverish, tossing men, confined in a small tent, like an oven, and
exposed to contumely and bad food, should get a wholesome horror of war
and glory.

So far as I could observe and learn, the authorities at White House
carried high heads, and covetous hands. In brief, they lived like
princes, and behaved like knaves. There was one--whose conduct has never
been investigated--who furnished one of the deserted mansions near by,
and brought a lady from the North to keep it in order. He drove a span
that rivalled anything in Broadway, and his wines were luscious. His
establishment reminded me of that of Napoleon III. in the late Italian
war, and yet, this man was receiving merely a Colonel's pay. My
impression is that everybody at White House robbed the Government, and
in the end, to cover their delinquencies, these scoundrels set fire to
an immense quantity of stores, and squared their accounts thus: "Burned
on the Pamunkey, June 28, commissary, quartermaster's, and hospital
stores, one million dollars."

The time was now drawing to a close that I should pass amid the familiar
scenes of this region. The good people at Daker's were still kindly; but
having climbed into the great bed one night, I found my legs aching, my
brain violently throbbing, my chest full of pain and my eyes weak. When
I woke in the morning my lips were fevered, I could eat nothing, and
when I reached my saddle, it seemed that I should faint. In a word, the
Chickahominy fever had seized upon me. My ride to New Bridge was marked
by great agony, and during much of the time I was quite blind. I turned
off, at Gaines's Mill, to rest at Captain Kingwalt's; but the old
gentleman was in the grip of the ague, and I forebore to trouble him
with a statement of my grievances. Skyhiski made me a cup of tea, which
I could not drink, and Fogg made me lie on his "poncho." It was like old
times come back, to hear them all speak cheerfully, and the man Clover
said that if there "warn't" a battle soon, he knew what he'd do, he
did! he'd go home, straight as a buck!

"Becoz," said the man Clover, flourishing his hands, "I volunteered to
fight. To _fight_, sir! not to dig and drive team. Here we air, sir,
stuck in the mud, burnin' with fever, livin' on hardtack. And thair's
Richmond! Just thair! You can chuck a stone at it, if you mind to. A'ter
awhile them rebbils'll pop out, and fix us. Why ain't we led up,
sa-a-y?"

The man Clover represented common sentiment among the troops at this
time; but I told him that in all probability he would soon be gratified
with a battle. My prediction was so far correct, that when I met the man
Clover on the James River, a week afterward, he said, with a rueful
countenance--

"Sa-a-a-y! It never rains but it pours, does it?"

As I rode from the camp of the Pennsylvania Reserves, at noon, on the
21st of June, I seemed to feel a gloomy premonition of the calamities
that were shortly to fall upon the "Army of the Potomac." I passed in
front of Hogan house; through the wood above the mill; along Gaines's
Lane, between his mansion and his barn; across a creek, tributary to the
Chickahominy; and up the ploughed hills by a military road, toward
Grapevine Bridge. Lieutenant-Colonel Heath, of the Fifth Maine Regiment,
was riding with me, and we stopped at the tip of an elevated field to
look back upon the scene. I was very sick and weary, and I lay my head
upon the mane of my nag, while Heath threw a leg across his saddle
pommel, and straightened his slight figure; we both gazed earnestly.

The river lay in the hollow or ravine to the left, and a few farm-houses
sat among the trees on the hill-tops beyond. A battery was planted at
each house, and we could see the lines of red-clay parapets marking the
sites. From the roof of one of the houses floated a speck of
canvas,--the revolutionary flag. A horseman or two moved shadow-like
across a slope of yellow grain. Before and back the woods belted the
landscape, and some pickets of both sides paced the river brink: they
did not fire upon each other.

Our side of the Chickahominy was not less peaceful. A couple of
batteries lay below us, in the meadows; but the horses were dozing in
the harness, and the gunners, standing bolt upright at the breech,
seemed parts of their pieces; the teamsters lay grouped in the long
grass. Immediately in front, Gaines's Mansion and outhouses spotted a
hillside, and we could note beyond a few white tents shining through the
trees. The roof of the old mill crouched between a medley of wavy fields
and woods, to our right, and just at our feet a tiny rill divided
Gaines's Mill from our own. Behind us, over the wilderness of swamp and
bog-timber, rose Smith's redoubt, with the Federal flag flaunting from
the rampart.

"Townsend," said Heath, as he swept the whole country with his keen eye,
"do you know that we are standing upon historic ground?"

He had been a poet and an orator, and he seemed to feel the solemnity of
the place.

"It may become historic to-morrow," I replied.

"It is so to-day," he said, earnestly; "not from battle as yet; _that_
may or may not happen; but in the pause before the storm there is
something grand; and this is the pause."

He took his soft beaver in his hand, and his short red hair stood
pugnaciously back from his fine forehead.

"The men that have been here already," he added, "consecrated the place;
young McClellan, and bluff, bull-headed Franklin; the one-armed devil,
Kearney, and handsome Joe Hooker; gray, gristly Heintzelman;
white-bearded, insane Sumner; Stuart, Lee, Johnston, the Hills----"

"Why not," said I, laughingly, "Eric the red,--the redoubtable Heath!"

"Why not?" he said, with a flourish; "Fate may have something in store
for me, as well as for these."

I have thought, since, how terribly our light conversation found
verification in fact. If I had said to Heath, that, at the very moment,
Jefferson Davis and his Commander-in-chief were sitting in the dwelling
opposite, reconnoitring and consulting; that, even now, their telescopes
were directed upon us; that the effect of their counsel was to be
manifest in less than a week; that one of the bloodiest battles of
modern times was to be fought beside and around us; that six days of the
most terrible fighting known in history were to ensue; that my friend
and comrade was standing upon the same clods which would be reddened, at
his next coming, with his heart's blood; and that the trenches were to
yawn beneath his hoofs, to swallow himself and his steed,--if I had
foretold these things as they were to occur, I wonder if the "pause
before the storm" would have been less awful, and our ride campward less
sedate. Poor Heath! Gallant New Englander! he called at my bedside, the
sixth day following, as I lay full of pain, fear, and fever, and after
he bade me good by, I heard his horse's hoofs ringing down the lane. Ten
minutes afterward he was shot through the head.

When I reached Michie's, at three o'clock, I had to be helped from the
saddle, and the fever was raging in my whole body before nightfall. My
hands were flushed, my face hot, but my feet were quite cold, and I was
seized with chills that seemed to shake my teeth from my head. Mrs.
Michie made me a bowl of scorching tea, and one of the black-girls
bathed my limbs in boiling water. The fever dreams came to me that
night, in snatches of burning sleep, and toward morning I lay restlessly
awake, moving from side to side, famishing for drink, but rejecting it,
when they brought it to my lips. The next day, my kind hostess gave me
some nourishing soup, but after a vain effort to partake of it, I was
compelled to put it aside. O'Ganlon procured some pickled fruit and
vegetables from a sutler, which I ate voraciously, quaffing the vinegar
like wine. Some of my regimental friends heard of my illness, and they
sent me quiet luxuries, which gladdened me, though I did not eat. During
the day I had some moments of ease, when I tried to read. There was a
copy of Wordsworth's poems in the house, and I used to repeat stanzas
from "Peter Bell," till they rang, in eddies of rhyme, through my weak
brain, and continued to scan and jangle far into the nights. Some of
these fever-dreams were like delusions in delirium: peopled with
monsters, that grinned and growled. Little black globules used to leer
from corners, and after a time they began to revolve toward me,
increasing as they came, and at length rolling like mountains of surge.
I frequently woke with a scream, and found my body in profuse
perspiration. There were fiery snakes, also, that, at first, moved
slowly around me, and I followed them with red and terrified eyes. After
awhile they flashed in circles of lightning, and hissed showers of
sparks, until I became quite crazed with fear. The most horrible
apparitions used to come to my bedside, and if I dropped to sleep with
any thought half formed or half developed, the odd half of that thought
became impregnated, somehow, and straightway loomed up a goblin, or a
giant, or a grotesque something, that proceeded to torture me, like a
sort of Frankenstein, for having made it. Amid all these ghastly things,
there came beautiful glimpses of form, scene, and sensation, that
straightway changed to horrors. I remember, for example, that I was
gliding down a stream, where the boughs overhead were as shady as the
waters, and there were holy eyes that seemed to cool my fever; but
suddenly the stream became choked with corpses, that entangled their
dead limbs with mine, until I strangled and called aloud,--waking up
O'Ganlon and some reporters who proposed to give me morphine, that I
might not alarm the house.

How the poor soldiers fared, in the hot hospitals, I shudder to think;
but a more merciful decree spared my life, and kind treatment met me at
every hand. Otherwise, I believe, I should not be alive to-day to write
this story; for the fever had seized me in its severest form, and I had
almost tutored myself to look upon my end, far from my home and on the
very eve of my manhood.

O'Ganlon, at last, resolved to send me to White House, and started
thither one day, to obtain a berth for me upon a Sanitary steamer. The
next day an ambulance came to the door. I tried to sit up in bed, and
succeeded; I feebly robed myself and staggered to the stairs. I crawled,
rather than walked, to the hall below; but when I took a chair, and felt
the cool breeze from the oaks fanning my hair, I seemed to know that I
should get well.

"Boom! Boom! Boom!" pealed some cannon at the moment, and all the
windows shook with the concussion.

Directly we heard volleys of musketry, and then the camps were astir.
Horses went hither and thither; signal flags flashed to-and-fro; a
battery of the Reserve Artillery dashed down the lane.

I felt my strength coming back with the excitement; I even smiled feebly
as the guns thundered past.

"Take away your ambulance, old fellow," I said, "I shan't go home till I
see a battle."



CHAPTER XV.

TWO DAYS OF BATTLE.


The Confederates had been waiting two months for McClellan's advance.
Emboldened by his delay they had gathered the whole of their available
strength from remote Tennessee, from the Mississippi, and from the
coast, until, confident and powerful, they crossed Meadow Bridge on the
26th of June, 1862, and drove in our right wing at Mechanicsville. The
reserves of Gen. McCall were stationed here; they made a wavering
resistance,--wherein four companies of Bucktails were captured
bodily,--and fell back at nightfall upon Porter's Corps, at Gaines's
Mill. Fitz John Porter commanded the brigades of Gens. Sykes and
Morrell,--the former made up solely of regulars. He appeared to have
been ignorant of the strength of the attacking party, and he telegraphed
to McClellan, early on Thursday evening, that he required no
reinforcements, and that he could hold his ground. The next morning he
was attacked in front and flank; Stewart's cavalry fell on his right,
and turned it at Old Church. He formed at noon in new line of battle,
from Gaines's House, along the Mill Road to New Coal Harbor; but
stubbornly persisted in the belief that he could not be beaten. By three
o'clock he had been driven back two miles, and all his energies were
unavailing to recover a foot of ground. He hurled lancers and cavalry
upon the masses of Jackson and the Hills, but the butternut infantry
formed impenetrable squares, hemmed in with rods of steel, and as the
horsemen galloped around them, searching for previous points, they were
swept from their saddles with volleys of musketry. He directed the
terrible fire of his artillery upon them, but though the gray footmen
fell in heaps, they steadily advanced, closing up the gaps, and their
lines were like long stretches of blaze and ball. Their fire never
slackened nor abated. They loaded and moved forward, column on column,
like so many immortals that could not be vanquished. The scene from the
balloon, as Lowe informed me, was awful beyond all comparison,--of
puffing shells and shrieking shrapnel, with volleys that shattered the
hills and filled the air with deathly whispers. Infantry, artillery, and
horse turned the Federal right from time to time, and to preserve their
order of battle the whole line fell back toward Grapevine Bridge. At
five o'clock Slocum's Division of volunteers crossed the creek from the
south side, and made a desperate dash upon the solid columns of the
Confederates. At the same time Toombs's Georgia Brigade charged Smith's
redoubt from the south side, and there was a probability of the whole of
both armies engaging before dark.

My fever of body had so much relinquished to my fever of mind, that at
three o'clock I called for my horse, and determined to cross the bridge,
that I might witness the battle.

It was with difficulty that I could make my way along the narrow
corduroy, for hundreds of wounded were limping from the field to the
safe side, and ammunition wagons were passing the other way, driven by
reckless drivers who should have been blown up momentarily. Before I had
reached the north side of the creek, an immense throng of panic-stricken
people came surging down the slippery bridge. A few carried muskets, but
I saw several wantonly throw their pieces into the flood, and as the
mass were unarmed, I inferred that they had made similar dispositions.
Fear, anguish, cowardice, despair, disgust, were the predominant
expressions of the upturned faces. The gaunt trees, towering from the
current, cast a solemn shadow upon the moving throng, and as the evening
dimness was falling around them, it almost seemed that they were
engulfed in some cataract. I reined my horse close to the side of a
team, that I might not be borne backward by the crowd; but some of the
lawless fugitives seized him by the bridle, and others attempted to pull
me from the saddle.

"Gi' up that hoss!" said one, "what business you got wi' a hoss?"

"That's my critter, and I am in for a ride; so you get off!" said
another.

I spurred my pony vigorously with the left foot, and with the right
struck the man at the bridle under the chin. The thick column parted
left and right, and though a howl of hate pursued me, I kept straight to
the bank, cleared the swamp, and took the military route parallel with
the creek, toward the nearest eminence. At every step of the way I met
wounded persons. A horseman rode past me, leaning over his pommel, with
blood streaming from his mouth and hanging in gouts from his saturated
beard. The day had been intensely hot and black boys were besetting the
wounded with buckets of cool lemonade. It was a common occurrence for
the couples that carried the wounded on stretchers to stop on the way,
purchase a glass of the beverage, and drink it. Sometimes the blankets
on the stretchers were closely folded, and then I knew that the man
within was dead. A little fellow, who used his sword for a cane, stopped
me on the road, and said--

"See yer! This is the ball that jes' fell out o' my boot."

He handed me a lump of lead as big as my thumb, and pointed to a rent in
his pantaloons, whence the drops rolled down his boots.

"I wouldn't part with that for suthin' handsome," he said; "it'll be
nice to hev to hum."

As I cantered away he shouted after me--

"Be sure you spell my name right! it's Smith, with an 'E'--S-M-I-T-H-E."

In one place I met five drunken men escorting a wounded sergeant; the
latter had been shot in the jaw, and when he attempted to speak, the
blood choked his articulation.

"You let go him, pardner," said one of the staggering brutes, "he's not
your sergeant. Go 'way!"

"Now, sergeant," said the other, idiotically, "I'll see you all right,
sergeant. Come, Bill, fetch him over to the corn-crib and we'll give him
a drink."

Here the first speaker struck the second, and the sergeant, in wrath,
knocked them both down. All this time the enemy's cannon were booming
close at hand.

I came to an officer of rank, whose shoulder-emblem I could not
distinguish, riding upon a limping field-horse. Four men held him to his
seat, and a fifth led the animal. The officer was evidently wounded,
though he did not seem to be bleeding, and the dust of battle had
settled upon his blanched, stiffening face, like grave-mould upon a
corpse. He was swaying in the saddle, and his hair--for he was
bare-headed--shook across his white eyeballs. He reminded me of the
famous Cid, whose body was sent forth to scare the Saracens.

A mile or more from Grapevine Bridge, on a hill-top, lay a frame
farm-house, with cherry trees encircling it, and along the declivity of
the hill were some cabins, corn-sheds, and corn-bins. The house was now
a Surgeon's headquarters, and the wounded lay in the yard and lane,
under the shade, waiting their turns to be hacked and maimed. I caught a
glimpse through the door, of the butchers and their victims; some
curious people were peeping through the windows at the operation. As the
processions of freshly wounded went by, the poor fellows, lying on their
backs, looked mutely at me, and their great eyes smote my heart.

Something has been written in the course of the war upon straggling
from the ranks, during battle. But I have seen nothing that conveys an
adequate idea of the number of cowards and idlers that so stroll off. In
this instance, I met squads, companies, almost regiments of them. Some
came boldly along the road; others skulked in woods, and made long
detours to escape detection; a few were composedly playing cards, or
heating their coffee, or discussing the order and consequences of the
fight. The rolling drums, the constant clatter of file and
volley-firing,--nothing could remind them of the requirements of the
time and their own infamy. Their appreciation of duty and honor seemed
to have been forgotten; neither hate, ambition, nor patriotism could
force them back; but when the columns of mounted provosts charged upon
them, they sullenly resumed their muskets and returned to the field. At
the foot of the hill to which I have referred the ammunition wagons lay
in long lines, with the horses' heads turned from the fight. A little
beyond stood the ambulances; and between both sets of vehicles,
fatigue-parties were going and returning to and from the field. At the
top of the next hill sat many of the Federal batteries, and I was
admonished by the shriek of shells that passed over my head and burst
far behind me, that I was again to look upon carnage and share the
perils of the soldier.

The question at once occurred to me: Can I stand fire? Having for some
months penned daily paragraphs relative to death, courage, and victory,
I was surprised to find that those words were now unusually significant.
"Death" was a syllable to me before; it was a whole dictionary now.
"Courage" was natural to every man a week ago; it was rarer than genius
to-day. "Victory" was the first word in the lexicon of youth yesterday
noon; "discretion" and "safety" were at present of infinitely more
consequence. I resolved, notwithstanding these qualms, to venture to the
hill-top: but at every step flitting projectiles took my breath. The
music of the battle-field, I have often thought, should be introduced
in opera. Not the drum, the bugle, or the fife, though these are
thrilling, after their fashion; but the music of modern ordnance and
projectile, the beautiful whistle of the minie-ball, the howl of shell
that makes unearthly havoc with the air, the whiz-z-z of solid shot, the
chirp of bullets, the scream of grape and canister, the yell of immense
conical cylinders, that fall like redhot stoves and spout burning coals.

All these passed over, beside, beneath, before, behind me. I seemed to
be an invulnerable something at whom some cunning juggler was tossing
steel, with an intent to impinge upon, not to strike him. I rode like
one with his life in his hand, and, so far as I remember, seemed to
think of nothing. No fear, _per se_; no regret; no adventure; only
expectancy. It was the expectancy of a shot, a choking, a loud cry, a
stiffening, a dead, dull tumble, a quiver, and--blindness. But with this
was mingled a sort of enjoyment, like that of the daring gamester, who
has played his soul and is waiting for the decision of the cards. I felt
all his suspense, _more_ than his hope; and withal, there was excitement
in the play. Now a whistling ball seemed to pass just under my ear, and
before I commenced to congratulate myself upon the escape, a shell, with
a showery and revolving fuse, appeared to take the top off my head. Then
my heart expanded and contracted, and somehow I found myself conning
rhymes. At each clipping ball,--for I could hear them coming,--a sort of
coldness and paleness rose to the very roots of my hair, and was then
replaced by a hot flush. I caught myself laughing, syllabically, and
shrugging my shoulders, fitfully. Once, the rhyme that came to my
lips--for I am sure there was no mind in the iteration--was the simple
nursery prayer--

    "Now I lay me down to sleep,"

I continued to say "down to sleep," "down to sleep," "down to sleep,"
till I discovered myself, when I ceased. Then a shell, apparently just
in range, dashed toward me, and the words spasmodically leaped up:
"Now's your time. This is your billet." With the same insane pertinacity
I continued to repeat "Now's your time, now's your time," and "billet,
billet, billet," till at last I came up to the nearest battery, where I
could look over the crest of the hill; and as if I had looked into the
crater of a volcano, or down the fabled abyss into hell, the whole grand
horror of a battle burst upon my sight. For a moment I could neither
feel nor think. I scarcely beheld, or beholding did not understand or
perceive. Only the roar of guns, the blaze that flashed along a zigzag
line and was straightway smothered in smoke, the creek lying glassily
beneath me, the gathering twilight, and the brownish blue of woods! I
only knew that some thousands of fiends, were playing with fire and
tossing brands at heaven,--that some pleasant slopes, dells, and
highlands were lit as if the conflagration of universes had commenced.
There is a passage of Holy Writ that comes to my mind as I write, which
explains the sensation of the time better than I can do:--

"_He opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit,
as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened
by reason of the smoke of the pit._

"_And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth._"--Revelation,
ix. 2, 3.

In a few moments, when I was able to compose myself, the veil of cloud
blew away or dissolved, and I could see fragments of the long columns of
infantry. Then from the far end of the lines puffed smoke, and from man
to man the puff ran down each line, enveloping the columns again, so
that they were alternately visible and invisible. At points between the
masses of infantry lay field-pieces, throbbing with rapid deliveries,
and emitting volumes of white steam. Now and then the firing slackened
for a short time, when I could remark the Federal line, fringed with
bayonets, stretching from the low meadow on the left, up the slope, over
the ridge, up and down the crest, until its right disappeared in the
gloaming of wood and distance. Standards flapped here and there above
the column, and I knew, from the fact that the line became momentarily
more distinct, that the Federals were falling stubbornly back. At times
a battery would dash a hundred yards forward, unlimber, and fire a score
of times, and directly would return two hundred yards and blaze again. I
saw a regiment of lancers gather at the foot of a protecting swell of
field; the bugle rang thrice, the red pennons went upward like so many
song birds, the mass turned the crest and disappeared, then the whole
artillery belched and bellowed. In twenty minutes a broken, straggling,
feeble group of horsemen returned; the red pennons still fluttered, but
I knew that they were redder for the blood that dyed them. Finally, the
Federal infantry fell back to the foot of the hill on which I stood; all
the batteries were clustering around me, and suddenly a column of men
shot up from the long sweep of the abandoned hill, with batteries on the
left and right. Their muskets were turned towards us, a crash and a
whiff of smoke swept from flank to flank, and the air around me rained
buck, slug, bullet, and ball!

The incidents that now occurred in rapid succession were so thrilling
and absorbing that my solicitude was lost in their grandeur. I sat like
one dumb, with my soul in my eyes and my ears stunned, watching the
terrible column of Confederates. Each party was now straining every
energy,--the one for victory, the other against annihilation. The
darkness was closing in, and neither cared to prolong the contest after
night. The Confederates, therefore, aimed to finish their success with
the rout or capture of the Federals, and the Federals aimed to maintain
their ground till nightfall. The musketry was close, accurate, and
uninterrupted. Every second was marked by a discharge,--the one firing,
the other replying promptly. No attempt was now made to remove the
wounded; the coolness of the fight had gone by, and we witnessed only
its fury. The stragglers seemed to appreciate the desperate emergency,
and came voluntarily back to relieve their comrades. The cavalry was
massed, and collected for another grand charge. Like a black shadow
gliding up the darkening hillside, they precipitated themselves upon the
columns: the musketry ceased for the time, and shrieks, steel strokes,
the crack of carbines and revolvers succeeded. Shattered, humiliated,
sullen, the horse wheeled and returned. Then the guns thundered again,
and by the blaze of the pieces, the clods and turf were revealed,
fitfully strewn with men and horses.

The vicinity of my position now exhibited traces of the battle. A
caisson burst close by, and I heard the howl of dying wretches, as the
fires flashed like meteors. A solid shot struck a field-carriage not
thirty yards from my feet, and one of the flying splinters spitted a
gunner as if he had been pierced by an arrow. An artillery-man was
standing with folded arms so near that I could have reached to touch
him; a whistle and a thumping shock and he fell beneath my nag's head. I
wonder, as I calmly recall these episodes now, how I escaped the death
that played about me, chilled me, thrilled me,--but spared me! "They are
fixing bayonets for a charge. My God! See them come down the hill."

In the gathering darkness, through the thick smoke, I saw or seemed to
see the interminable column roll steadily downward. I fancied that I
beheld great gaps cut in their ranks though closing solidly up, like the
imperishable Gorgon. I may have heard some of this next day, and so
confounded the testimonies of eye and ear. But I knew that there was a
charge, and that the drivers were ordered to stand by their saddles, to
run off the guns at any moment. The descent and bottom below me, were
now all ablaze, and directly above the din of cannon, rifle, and
pistol, I heard a great cheer, as of some salvation achieved.

"The Rebels are repulsed! We have saved the guns!"

A cheer greeted this announcement from the battery-men around me. They
reloaded, rammed, swabbed, and fired, with naked arms, and drops of
sweat furrowed the powder-stains upon their faces. The horses stood
motionless, quivering not half so much as the pieces. The gristly
officers held to their match-strings, smothering the excitement of the
time. All at once there was a running hither and thither, a pause in the
thunder, a quick consultation--

"'Sdeath! They have flanked us again."

In an instant I seemed overwhelmed with men. For a moment I thought the
enemy had surrounded us.

"It's all up," said one; "I shall cross the river."

I wheeled my horse, fell in with the stream of fugitives, and was borne
swiftly through field and lane and trampled fence to the swampy margin
of the Chickahominy. At every step the shell fell in and among the
fugitives, adding to their panic. I saw officers who had forgotten their
regiments or had been deserted by them, wending with the mass. The
wounded fell and were trodden upon. Personal exhibitions of valor and
determination there were; but the main body had lost heart, and were
weary and hungry.

As we approached the bridge, there was confusion and altercation ahead.
The people were borne back upon me. Curses and threats ensued.

"It is the Provost-guard," said a fugitive, "driving back the boys."

"Go back!" called a voice ahead. "I'll blow you to h--ll, if you don't
go back! Not a man shall cross the bridge without orders!"

The stragglers were variously affected by this intelligence. Some cursed
and threatened; some of the wounded blubbered as they leaned languidly
upon the shoulders of their comrades. Others stoically threw themselves
on the ground and tried to sleep. One man called aloud that the "boys"
were stronger than the Provosts, and that, therefore, the "boys" ought
to "go in and win."

"Where's the man that wants to mutiny?" said the voice ahead; "let me
see him!"

The man slipped away; for the Provost officer spoke as though he meant
all he said.

"Nobody wants to mutiny!" called others.

"Three cheers for the Union."

The wounded and well threw up their hats together, and made a sickly
hurrah. The grim officer relented, and he shouted stentoriously that he
would take the responsibility of passing the wounded. These gathered
themselves up and pushed through the throng; but many skulkers plead
injuries, and so escaped. When I attempted to follow, on horseback,
hands were laid upon me and I was refused exit. In that hour of terror
and sadness, there were yet jests and loud laughter. However keenly I
felt these things, I had learned that modesty amounted to little in the
army; so I pushed my nag steadily forward and scattered the camp
vernacular, in the shape of imprecations, left and right.

"Colonel," I called to the officer in command, as the line of bayonets
edged me in, "may I pass out? I am a civilian!"

"No!" said the Colonel, wrathfully. "This is no place for a civilian."

"That's why I want to get away."

"Pass out!"

I followed the winding of the woods to Woodbury's Bridge,--the next
above Grapevine Bridge. The approaches were clogged with wagons and
field-pieces, and I understood that some panic-stricken people had
pulled up some of the timbers to prevent a fancied pursuit. Along the
sides of the bridge many of the wounded were washing their wounds in the
water, and the cries of the teamsters echoed weirdly through the trees
that grew in the river. At nine o'clock, we got under way,--horsemen,
batteries, ambulances, ammunition teams, infantry, and finally some
great siege 32s. that had been hauled from Gaines's House. One of these
pieces broke down the timbers again, and my impression is that it was
cast into the current. When we emerged from the swamp timber, the hills
before us were found brilliantly illuminated with burning camps. I made
toward head-quarters, in one of Trent's fields; but all the tents save
one had been taken down, and lines of white-covered wagons stretched
southward until they were lost in the shadows. The tent of General
McClellan alone remained, and beneath an arbor of pine boughs, close at
hand, he sat, with his Corps Commanders and Aides, holding a council of
war. A ruddy fire lit up the historical group, and I thought at the
time, as I have said a hundred times since, that the consultation might
be selected for a grand national painting. The crisis, the hour, the
adjuncts, the renowned participants, peculiarly fit it for pictorial
commemoration.

The young commander sat in a chair, in full uniform, uncovered.
Heintzelman was kneeling upon a fagot, earnestly speaking. De Joinville
sat apart, by the fire, examining a map. Fitz John Porter was standing
back of McClellan, leaning upon his chair. Keyes, Franklin, and Sumner,
were listening attentively. Some sentries paced to and fro, to keep out
vulgar curiosity. Suddenly, there was a nodding of heads, as of some
policy decided; they threw themselves upon their steeds, and galloped
off toward Michie's.

As I reined at Michie's porch, at ten o'clock, the bridges behind me
were blown up, with a flare that seemed a blazing of the Northern
Lights. The family were sitting upon the porch, and Mrs. Michie was
greatly alarmed with the idea that a battle would be fought round her
house next day.

O'Ganlon, of Meagher's staff, had taken the fever, and sent anxiously
for me, to compare our symptoms.

I bade the good people adieu before I went to bed, and gave the man
"Pat" a dollar to stand by my horse while I slept, and to awake me at
any disturbance, that I might be ready to scamper. The man "Pat," I am
bound to say, woke me up thrice by the exclamation of--

"Sure, yer honor, there's--well--to pay in the yard! I think ye and the
Doctor had better ride off."

On each of those occasions, I found that the man Pat had been lonesome,
and wanted somebody to speak to.

What a sleep was mine that night! I forgot my fever. But another and a
hotter fever burned my temples,--the fearful excitement of the time!
Whither were we to go, cut off from the York, beaten before
Richmond,--perhaps even now surrounded,--and to be butchered to-morrow,
till the clouds should rain blood? Were we to retreat one hundred miles
down the hostile Peninsula,--a battle at every rod, a grave at every
footstep? Then I remembered the wounded heaped at Gaines's Mill, and how
they were groaning without remedy, ebbing at every pulse, counting the
flashing drops, calling for water, for mercy, for death. So I found
heart; for I was not buried yet. And somehow I felt that fate was to
take me, as the great poet took Dante, through other and greater
horrors.



CHAPTER XVI.

M'CLELLAN'S RETREAT.


The scene presented in Michie's lawn and oak grove, on Saturday morning,
was terribly picturesque, and characteristic of the calamity of war. The
well was beset by crowds of wounded men, perishing of thirst, who made
frantic efforts to reach the bucket, but were borne back by the stronger
desperadoes. The kitchen was swarming with hungry soldiers who begged
corn-bread and half-cooked dough from the negroes. The shady side-yard
was dotted with pale, bruised, and bleeding people, who slept out their
weariness upon the damp grass, forgetful, for the moment, of their
sores. Ambulances poured through the lane, in solemn procession, and now
and then, couples of privates bore by some wounded officer, upon a
canvas "stretcher." The lane proving too narrow, at length, for the
passing vehicles, the gate-posts and fence were torn up, and finally,
the soldiers made a footway of the hall of the dwelling.

The retreat had been in progress all night, as I had heard the wagons
through my open windows. By daylight the whole army was acquainted with
the facts, that we were to resign our depot at White House, relinquish
the North bank of the river, and retire precipitately to the shores of
the James. A rumor--indignantly denied, but as often repeated--prevailed
among the teamsters, surgeons, and drivers, that the wounded were to be
left in the enemy's hands. It shortly transpired that we were already
cut off from the Pamunkey. A train had departed for White House at dawn,
and had delivered its cargo of mortality safely; but a second train,
attempting the passage, at seven o'clock had been fired into, and
compelled to return. A tremendous explosion, and a shaft of white smoke
that flashed to the zenith, informed us, soon afterward, that the
railroad bridge had been blown up.

About the same time, the roar of artillery recommenced in front, and
regiments that had not slept for twenty hours, were hurried past us, to
take position at the entrenchments. A universal fear now found
expression, and helpless people asked of each other, with pale lips--

"How far have we to walk to reach the James?"

It was doubtful, at this time, that any one knew the route to that
river. A few members of the signal corps had adventured thither to open
communication with the gunboats, and a small cavalry party of Casey's
division had made a foray to New Market and Charles City Court House.
But it was rumored that Wise's brigade of Confederates was now posted at
Malvern Hills, closing up the avenue of escape, and that the whole right
wing of the Confederate army was pushing toward Charles City. Malvern
Hills, the nearest point that could be gained, was about twenty miles
distant, and Harrison's Landing--presumed to be our final
destination--was thirty miles away. To retreat over this distance,
encumbered with baggage, the wounded and the sick, was discarded as
involving pursuit, and certain calamity. Cavalry might fall upon us at
every turning, since the greater portion of our own horse had been
scouting between White House and Hanover, when the bridges were
destroyed, and was therefore separated from the main army. At eight
o'clock--weak with fever and scarcely able to keep in the saddle--I
joined Mr. Anderson of the _Herald_, and rode toward the front, that I
might discover the whereabouts of the new engagement. Winding through a
cart-track in Michie's Woods, we came upon fully one third of the whole
army, or the remnant of all that portion engaged at Gaines's Mill;--the
Reserves, Porter's Corps, Slocum's division, and Meagher's
brigade,--perhaps thirty-thousand men. They covered the whole of Tent's
farm, and were drawn up in line, heavily equipped, with their colors in
position, field officers dismounted, and detachments from each regiment
preparing hot coffee at certain fires. A very few wagons--and these
containing only ammunition--stood harnessed beside each regiment. In
many cases the men lay or knelt upon the ground. Such hot, hungry, weary
wretches, I never beheld. During the whole night long they had been
crossing the Chickahominy, and the little sleep vouchsafed them had been
taken in snatches upon the bare clay. Travelling from place to place, I
saw the surviving heroes of the defeat: Meagher looking very yellow and
prosaic; Slocum,--small, indomitable, active; Newton,--a little gray, a
trifle proud, very mercurial, and curiously enough, a Virginian;
Meade,--lithe, spectacled, sanguine; and finally General McCall, as
grave, kindly odd and absent, as I had found him four months before. The
latter worthy was one of the first of the Federal Generals to visit
Richmond. He was taken prisoner the second day afterward, and the half
of his command was slain or disabled.

I went to and fro, obtaining the names of killed, wounded and missing,
with incidents of the battle as well as its general plan. These I
scrawled upon bits of newspaper, upon envelopes, upon the lining of my
hat, and finally upon my shirt wristbands. I was literally filled with
notes before noon, and if I had been shot at that time, endeavors to
obtain my name would have been extremely difficult. I should have had
more titles than some of the Chinese princes; some parts of me would
have been found fatally wounded, and others italicized for gallant
behavior. Indeed, I should have been shot in every part, taken prisoner
at every place, killed outright in every skirmish, and marvellously
saved through every peril. My tombstone would have been some hundreds of
muster-rolls and my obituary a fortune to a newspaper. I recollect, with
some amusement, the credit that each regiment took upon itself for
distinguished behavior. There were few Colonels that did not claim all
the honors. I fell in with a New Jersey brigade, that had been decimated
of nearly half its _quota_, and a spruce young Major attempted to convey
an idea of the battle to me. He said, in brief, that the New Jersey
brigade, composed mainly of himself and his regiment, and some few
organizations of little consequence,--although numbering ten thousand
odd soldiers,--had received the whole shock of a quantity of "Rebels."
The said "Rebels" appeared to make up one fourth part of the population
of the globe. There was no end to them. They seemed to be several miles
deep, longer and more crooked than the Pamunkey, and stood with their
rear against Richmond, so that they couldn't fall back, even if they
wanted to. In vain did the New Jersey brigade and his regiment attack
them with ball and bayonet. How the "Rebels" ever withstood the
celebrated charge of his regiment was altogether inexplicable.

In the language of the Major,--"the New Jersey brigade,--and my
regiment,--fit, and fit, and fit, and give 'em 'get out!' But sir, may I
be----, well there (expression inadequate), we couldn't budge 'em. No,
sir! (very violently,) not budge 'em, sir! _I_ told the boys to walk at
'em with cold steel. Says I: 'Boys, steel'ill fetch 'em, or nothin'
under heaven!' Well, sir, at 'em we went,--me and the boys. There ain't
been no sich charge in the whole war! Not in the whole war, sir!
(intensely fervid;) leave it to any impartial observer if there has
been! We went up the hill, square in the face of all their artillery,
musketry, cavalry, sharpshooters, riflemen,--everything, sir!
Everything! (energetically.) One o' my men overheard the Rebel General
say, as we came up: says he,--'that's the gamest thing I ever see.'
Well! we butchered 'em frightful. We must a killed a thousand or two of
'em, don't you think so, Adjutant? But, sir,--it was all in vain. No go,
sir! no, sir, no go! (impressively.) And the New Jersey brigade and my
regiment fell back, inch by inch, with our feet to the foe
(rhetorically.) Is that so, boys?"

The "boys," who had meantime gathered around, exclaimed loudly, that it
was "true as preachin," and the Major added, in an undertone that his
name was spelled * * *.

"But where were Porter's columns?" said I, "and the Pennsylvania
Reserves?"

"I didn't see 'em," said the Major: "I don't think they was there. If
they had a been, why wa'n't they on hand to save my regiment, and the
New Jersey brigade?"

It would be wrong to infer from these vauntings, that the Federals did
not fight bravely and endure defeat unshrinkingly. On the contrary, I
have never read of higher exemplifications of personal and moral
courage, than I witnessed during this memorable retreat. And the young
Major's boasting did not a whit reduce my estimate of his efficiency.
For in America, swaggering does not necessarily indicate cowardice. I
knew a Captain of artillery in Smith's division, who was wordier than
Gratiano, and who exaggerated like Falstaff. But he was a lion in
action, and at Lee's Mills and Williamsburg his battery was handled with
consummate skill.

From Trent's farm the roadway led by a strip of corduroy, through
sloppy, swampy woods, to an open place, beyond a brook, where Smith's
division lay. The firing had almost entirely ceased, and we heard loud
cheers running up and down the lines, as we again ventured within cannon
range. On this spot, for the second time, the Federals had won a decided
success. And in so far as a cosmopolitan could feel elated, I was proud,
for a moment, of the valor of my division. The victors had given me
meals and a bed, and they had fed my pony when both of us were hungry.
But the sight of the prisoners and the collected dead, saddened me
somewhat.

These two engagements have received the name of the First and Second
battles of Golding's Farm. They resulted from an effort of Toombs's
Georgia brigade to carry the redoubt and breastworks of General Smith.
Toombs was a civilian, and formerly a senator from Georgia. He had no
military ability, and his troops were driven back with great slaughter,
both on Friday and Saturday. Among the prisoners taken was Colonel Lamar
of (I think) the 7th Georgia regiment. He passed me, in a litter,
wounded, as I rode toward the redoubt.

Lamar was a beautiful man, shaped like a woman, and his hair was long,
glossy, and wavy with ringlets. He was a tiger, in his love of blood,
and in character self-willed and vehement. He was of that remarkable
class of Southern men, of which the noted "Filibuster" Walker was the
great exponent. I think I may call him an apostle of slavery. He
believed it to be the destiny of our pale race to subdue all the dusky
tribes of the earth, and to evangelize, with the sword, the whole
Western continent, to the uses of master and man. Such people were
called disciples of "manifest destiny." He threw his whole heart into
the war; but when I saw him, bloodless, panting, quivering, I thought
how little the wrath of man availed against the justice of God. From
Smith's on the right, I kept along a military road, in the woods, to
Sedgwick's and Richardson's divisions, at Fairoaks. Richardson was
subsequently slain, at the second battle of Bull Run. He was called
"Fighting Dick," and on this particular morning was talking composedly
to his wife, as she was about to climb to the saddle. His tent had been
taken down, and soldiers were placing his furniture in a wagon. A
greater contrast I never remarked, than the ungainly, awkward, and
rough General, with his slight, trim, pretty companion. She had come to
visit him and had remained until commanded to retire. I fancied, though
I was separated some distance, that the little woman wept, as she kissed
him good by, and he followed her, with frequent gestures of good-hap,
till she disappeared behind the woods. I do not know that such prosaic
old soldiers are influenced by the blandishments of love; but "Fighting
Dick" never wooed death so recklessly as in the succeeding engagements
of New Market and Malvern Hills.

From Seven Pines to the right of Richardson's head-quarters, ran a line
of alternate breastwork, redoubt, and stockade. The best of these
redoubts was held by Captain Petit, with a New York Volunteer battery. I
had often talked with Petit, for he embodied, as well as any man in the
army, the martial qualifications of a volunteer. He despised order.
Nobody cared less for dress and dirt. I have seen him, sitting in a hole
that he hollowed with his hands, tossing pebbles and dust over his head,
like another Job. He had profound contempt for any man and any system
that was not "American." I remember asking him, one day, the meaning of
the gold lace upon the staff hats of the Irish brigade.

"Means run like shell!" said Petit, covering me with dirt.

"Don't the Irish make the best soldiers?" I ventured.

"No!" said Petit, raining pebbles, "I had rather have one American than
ten Irishmen."

The fighting of Petit was contrary to all rule; but I think that he was
a splendid artillery-man. He generally mounted the rampart, shook his
fist at the enemy, flung up his hat, jumped down, sighted the guns
himself, threw shells with wonderful accuracy, screamed at the gunners,
mounted the rampart again, halloed, and, in short, managed to do more
execution, make more noise, attract more attention and throw more dirt
than anybody in the army. His redoubt was small, but beautifully
constructed, and the parapet was heaped with double rows of sandbags. It
mounted rifled field-pieces, and, at most times, the gunners were lying
under the pieces, asleep. Not any of the entrenched posts among the
frontier Indians were more enveloped in wilderness than this. The trees
had been felled in front to give the cannon play, but behind and on each
side belts of dense, dwarf timber covered the boggy soil. To the left of
Petit, on the old field of Seven Pines, lay the divisions of Hooker and
Kearney, and thither I journeyed, after leaving the redoubtable
volunteer. Hooker was a New Englander, reputed to be the handsomest man
in the army. He fought bravely in the Mexican war, and afterwards
retired to San Francisco, where he passed a Bohemian existence at the
Union Club House. He disliked McClellan, was beloved by his men, and was
generally known as "Old Joe." He has been one of the most successful
Federal leaders, and seems to hold a charmed life. In all probability he
will become Commander-in-chief of one of the grand armies.

Kearney has passed away since the date of which I speak. He was known as
the "one-armed Devil," and was, by odds, the best educated of all the
Federal military chiefs. But, singularly enough, he departed from all
tactics, when hotly afield. His personal energy and courage have given
him renown, and he loved to lead forlorn hopes, or head
storming-parties, or ride upon desperate adventures. He was rich from
childhood, and spent much of his life in Europe. For a part of this time
he served as a cavalry-man with the French, in Algiers. In private life
he was equally reckless, but his tastes were scholarly, and he was
generous to a fault. Both Kearney and Hooker were kind to the reporters,
and I owe the dead man many a favor. General Daniel Sickles commanded a
brigade in this corps. To the left, and in the rear of Heintzelman's
corps, lay the divisions of Casey and Couch, that had relapsed into
silence since their disgrace at Seven Pines. General Casey was a
thin-haired old gentleman, too gracious to be a soldier, although I
believe that he is still in the service. His division comprised the
extreme left of the Grand Army, and bordered upon a deep, impenetrable
bog called "White Oak Swamp." It was the purpose of McClellan to place
this swamp between him and the enemy, and defend its passage till his
baggage and siege artillery had obtained the shelter of the gunboats, on
the shores of the James. I rode along this whole line, to renew my
impressions of the position, and found that sharp skirmishing was going
on at every point. When I returned to Savage's, where McClellan's
headquarters had temporarily been pitched, I found the last of the
wagons creaking across the track, and filing slowly southward. The
wounded lay in the out-houses, in the trains of cars, beside the hedge,
and in shade of the trees about the dwelling. A little back, beside a
wood, lay Lowe's balloon traps, and the infantry "guard," and cavalry
"escort" of the Commander-in-chief were encamped close to the new
provost quarters, in a field beyond the orchard. An ambulance passed me,
as I rode into the lane; it was filled with sufferers, and two men with
bloody feet, crouched in the trail. From the roof of Savage's house
floated the red hospital flag. Savage himself was a quiet Virginia
farmer, and a magistrate. His name is now coupled with a grand battle.

I felt very hungry, at four o'clock, but my weak stomach revolted at
coarse soldier fare, and I determined to ride back to Michie's. I was
counselled to beware; but having learned little discretion afield, I
cantered off, through a trampled tillage of wheat, and an interminable
woods. In a half hour I rode into the familiar yard; but the place was
so ruined that I hardly recognized it. Not a panel of fence remained:
the lawn was a great pool of slime; the windlass had been wrenched from
the well; a few gashed and expiring soldiers lay motionless beneath the
oaks, the fields were littered with the remains of camps, and the old
dwelling stood like a haunted thing upon a blighted plain. The idlers,
the teamsters, and the tents were gone,--all was silence,--and in the
little front porch sat Mrs. Michie, weeping; the old gentleman stared at
the desolation with a working face, and two small yellow lads lay
dolorously upon the steps. They all seemed to brighten up as I appeared
at the gate, and when I staggered from my horse, both of them took my
hands. I think that tears came into all our eyes at once, and the little
Ethiops fairly bellowed.

"My friends," I said, falteringly, "I see how you have suffered, and
sympathize with you, from my heart."

"Our beautiful property is ruined," said Mrs. Michie, welling up.

"Yer's five years of labor,--my children's heritage,--the home of our
old age,--look at it!"

The old gentleman stood up gravely, and cast his eyes mournfully around.

"I have nobody to accuse," he said; "my grief is too deep for any hate.
This is war!"

"What will the girls say when they come back?" was the mother's next
sob; "they loved the place: do you think they will know it?"

I did not know how to reply. They retained my hands, and for a moment
none of us spoke.

"Don't think, Mr. Townsend," said the chivalrous old gentleman again,
"that we like you less because some of your country people have stripped
us. Mother, where is the gruel you made for him?"

The good lady, expecting my return, had prepared some nourishing chicken
soup, and directly she produced it. I think she took heart when I ate so
plentifully, and we all spoke hopefully again. Their kindness so touched
me, that as the evening came quietly about us, lengthening the shadows,
and I knew that I must depart, I took both their hands again, doubtful
what to say.

"My friends,--may I say, almost my parents? for you have been as
kind,--good by! In a day, perhaps, you will be with your children again.
Richmond will be open to you. You may freely go and come. Be comforted
by these assurances. And when the war is over,--God speed the time!--we
may see each other under happier auspices."

"Good by!" said Mr. Michie; "if I have a house at that time, you shall
be welcome."

"Good by," said Mrs. Michie; "tell your mother that a strange lady in
Virginia took good care of you when you were sick."

I waved a final adieu, vaulted down the lane, and the wood gathered its
solemn darkness about me. When I emerged upon Savage's fields, a
succession of terrible explosions shook the night, and then the flames
flared up, at points along the railroad. They were blowing up the
locomotives and burning the cars. At the same hour, though I could not
see it, White House was wrapped in fire, and the last sutler, teamster,
and cavalry-man had disappeared from the shores of the Pamunkey.

I tossed through another night of fever, in the captain's tent of the
Sturgis Rifles,--McClellan's body guard. And somehow, again, I dreamed
fitfully of the unburied corpses on the field of Gaines's Mill.



CHAPTER XVII.

A BATTLE SUNDAY.


In the dim of the morning of our Lord's Sabbath, the twenty-ninth of
June, 1862, I sat in my saddle at Savage's. The gloom was very
cheerless. A feeling of hopeless vagabondism oppressed me. I remembered
the Disinherited Knight, the Wandering Jew, Robinson Crusoe, and other
poor errants in the wide world, and wondered if any of them ever looked
so ruefully as I, when the last wagon of the Grand Army disappeared
through the shadow.

The tent had been taken down at midnight. I had been dozing in the
saddle, with parched lips and throbbing temples, waiting for my comrade.
Head-quarters had been intending to move, without doing it, for four
hours, and he informed me that it was well to stay with the Commanding
General, as the Commanding General kept out of danger, and also kept in
provisions. I was sick and petulant, and finally quarrelled with my
friend. He told me, quietly, that I would regret my harshness when I
should be well again. I set off for White Oak, but repented at "Burnt
Chimneys," and turned back. In the misty dawn I saw the maimed still
lying on the ground, wrapped in relics of blankets, and in one of the
outhouses a grim embalmer stood amid a family of nude corpses. He dealt
with the bodies of high officers only; for, said he--

"I used to be glad to prepare private soldiers. They were wuth a five
dollar bill apiece. But, Lord bless you, a Colonel pays a hundred, and
a Brigadier-General two hundred. There's lots of them now, and I have
cut the acquaintance of everything below a Major. I might," he added,
"as a great favor, do a Captain, but he must pay a Major's price. I
insist upon that! Such windfalls don't come every day. There won't be
another such killing for a century."

A few horsemen of the escort loitered around head-quarters. All the
tents but one had been removed, and the staff crouched sleepily upon the
refuse straw. The rain began to drizzle at this time, and I unbuckled a
blanket to wrap about my shoulders. Several people were lying upon dry
places, here and there, and espying some planks a little remote, I tied
my horse to a peach-tree, and stretched myself languidly upon my back.
The bridal couch or the throne were never so soft as those knotty
planks, and the drops that fell upon my forehead seemed to cool my
fever.

I had passed into a sort of cognizant sleep when a harsh, loud, cruel
voice awakened me, and I seemed to see a great Polyphemus, stretching
his hands into the clouds, and gaping like an earthquake.

"Boy," I heard him say, to a slight figure, near at hand, "boy, what are
you standing there for? What in ---- do you want?"

"Nothing!"

"Take it, and go, ---- ---- you! Take it, and go!"

I peeped timorously from my place, and recognized the Provost-General of
the Grand Army. He had been sleeping upon a camp chest, and did not
appear to be refreshed thereby.

"I feel sulky as ----!" he said to an officer adjoining; "I feel ----
bad-humored! Orderly!"

"General!"

"Whose horses are these?"

"I don't know, General!"

"Cut every ---- ---- one of 'em loose. Wake up these ---- ---- loafers
with the point of your sabre! Every ---- ---- one of 'em! That's what I
call ---- ----boldness!"

He strutted off like the great Bomba or the Czar, and I thought I never
beheld a more exceptional person in any high position.

With a last look at Savage's white house, the abandoned wretches in the
lawn, the blood-red hospital flag, the torn track and smouldering cars,
I turned my face southward, crossed some bare plains, that had once been
fields, and at eight o'clock passed down the Williamsburg road, toward
Bottom Bridge. The original roadway was now a bottomless stretch of
sand, full of stranded wheels, dead horses, shreds of blankets,
discarded haversacks, and mounds of spilled crackers. Other routes for
wagons had been opened across fields, over bluffs, around pits and bogs,
and through thickets and woods. The whole country was crossed with
deeply-rutted roads, as if some immense city had been lifted away, and
only its interminably sinuous streets remained. Near Burnt Chimneys, a
creek crossing the road made a ravine, and here I overtook the hindmost
of the wagons. They had been stalled in the gorge, and a provost guard
was hurrying the laggard teamsters. The creek was muddy beyond
comparison, and at the next hill-top I passed "Burnt Chimneys," a few
dumb witnesses that pointed to heaven. A mile or two further, I came to
some of the retreating regiments, and also to five of the siege
thirty-twos with which Richmond was to have been bombarded. The main
army still lay back at their entrenchments to cover the retreat, and at
ten o'clock I heard the roar of field guns; the pursuit had commenced,
and the Confederates were pouring over the ramparts at Fairoaks. I did
not go back; battles were of no consequence to me. I wanted some
breakfast. If I could only obtain a cup of warm coffee and a fragment of
meat, I thought that I might recover strength. But nothing could be
obtained anywhere, for money or charity. The soldiers that I passed
looked worn and hungry, for their predecessors had swept the country
like herds of locusts; but one cheerful fellow, whom I addressed,
produced a lump of fat pork that I tried to eat, but made a signal
failure. All my baggage had been left at Michie's, where it remains to
this moment. None cared to be hospitable to correspondents at this
despondent hour, and a horrible idea of starvation took possession of my
mind. A mile from White Oak Swamp, some distance back of the road, lay
the Engineer Brigade. They were now on the eve of breaking camp, and
when I reached Colonel McCloud Murphy's, his chests were packed, and all
his provisions had gone ahead. He gave me, however, a couple of hard
crackers and a draught of whiskey and quinine, whereby I rallied for a
moment. At General Woodbury's I observed a middle-aged lady, making her
toilet by a looking-glass hung against the tent-pole. She seemed as
careful of her personal appearance, in this trying time, as if she had
been at some luxurious court. There were several women on the retreat,
and though the guns thundered steadily behind, they were never flurried,
but could have received company, or accepted offers of marriage, with
the utmost complacency. If there was any one that rouged, I am sure that
no personal danger would have disturbed her while she heightened her
roses; and she would have tied up her back hair in defiance of shell or
grape.

At Casey's ancient head-quarters, on the bluff facing White Oak Swamp, I
found five correspondents. We fraternized immediately, and they all
pooh-poohed the battle, as such an old story that it would be absurd to
ride back to the field. We knew, however, that it was occurring at Peach
Orchard, on a part of the old ground at Fairoaks. These gentlemen were
in rather despondent moods, and there was one who opined that we were
all to be made prisoners of war. In his own expressive way of putting
it, we were to be "gobbled up." This person was stout and inclined to
panting and perspiration. He wore glasses upon a most pugnacious nose,
and his large, round head was covered with short, bristly, jetty hair.

"I promised my wife," said this person, who may be called Cindrey, "to
stay at home after the Burnside business. The Burnside job was very
nearly enough for me. In fact I should have quite starved on the
Burnside job, if I hadn't took the fever. And the fever kept me so busy
that I forgot how hungry I was. So I lived over that."

At this point he took off his glasses and wiped his face; the water was
running down his cheeks like a miniature cataract, and his great neck
seemed to emit jets of perspiration.

"Well," he continued, "the Burnside job wasn't enough for me; I must
come out again. I must follow the young Napoleon. And the young Napoleon
has made a pretty mess of it. I never expect to get home any more; I
know I shall be gobbled up!"

A youngish, oldish, oddish fellow, whom they called "Pop," here told Mr.
Cindrey to keep his pulse up and take a drink. A tall, large person, in
semi-quaker garb, who did not look unlike George Fox, run to seed, said,
with a flourish, that these battles were nothing to Shiloh. He was
attached to the provincial press, and had been with the army of the West
until recently. Without any exception, he was the "fussiest," most
impertinent, most disagreeable man that I ever knew. He always made a
hero of himself in his reports, and if I remember rightly, their
headings ran after this fashion:--

"_Tremendous Battle at_ ROANOKE! _The Correspondent of_ THE BLUNDERBUSS
_hoists the_ NATIONAL FLAG above the REBEL RAMPARTS!!!" or
again--"_Grand Victory at_ SHILOH! _Mr. Twaddle, our Special
Correspondent_, TAKEN PRISONER!!! _He_ ESCAPES!!! _He is_ FIRED UPON!!!
_He wriggles through_ FOUR SWAMPS and SEVEN HOSTILE CAMPS! _He is_ AGAIN
CAPTURED! _He_ STRANGLES _the sentry_! _He drinks the Rebel Commander,
Philpot_, BLIND! _Philpot gives him_ THE PASSWORD!! --> _Philpot
compliments the Blunderbuss._ <-- OUR _Correspondent gains the
Gunboats_! _He is_ TAKEN ABOARD! _His welcome!_ _Description of_ HIS
BOOTS! _Remarks, etc._, ETC., ETC!!!"

This man was anxious to regulate not only his own newspaper, but he
aspired to control the entire press. And his self adulation was
incessant. He rung all the changes upon Shiloh. Every remark suggested
some incident of Shiloh. He was a thorough Shilohite, and I regretted in
my heart that the "Rebels" had not shut him away at Shiloh, that he
might have enjoyed it to the end of his days.

The man "Pop" produced some apple whiskey, and we repaired to a spring,
at the foot of the hill, where the man "Pop" mixed a cold punch, and we
drank in rotation. I don't think that Cindrey enjoyed his draught, for
it filtered through his neck as if he had sprung a leak there; but the
man Twaddle might have taken a tun, and, as the man "Pop" said, the
effect would have been that of "pouring whiskey through a knot-hole." It
was arranged among our own reporters, that I, being sick, should be the
first of the staff to go to New York. The man "Pop" said jocosely, that
I might be allowed to die in the bosom of my family. The others gave me
their notes and lists, but none could give me what I most needed,--a
morsel of food. At eleven o'clock our little party crossed White Oak
Creek. There was a corduroy bridge upon which the teams travelled, and a
log bridge of perilous unsteadiness for foot passengers. But the
soldiers were fording the stream in great numbers, and I plunged my
horse into the current so that he spattered a group of fellows, and one
of them lunged at me with a bayonet. Beyond the creek and swamp, on the
hillsides, baggage wagons and batteries were parked in immense numbers.
The troops were taking positions along the edge of the bottom, to oppose
incursions of the enemy, when they attempted pursuit, and I was told
that the line extended several miles westward, to New Market Cross
Roads, where, it was thought, the Confederates would march out from
Richmond to offer battle. The roadway, beyond the swamp, was densely
massed with horse, foot, cannon, and teams. The latter still kept toward
the James, but the nags suffered greatly from lack of corn. Only
indispensable material had been hauled from the Chickahominy, and the
soldiers who fought the ensuing protracted battles were exhausted from
hunger. Everything had an uncomfortable, transient, expectant
appearance, and the feeble people that limped toward the _ultima thule_
looked fagged and wretched.

There were some with balls in the groin, thigh, leg, or ankle, that made
the whole journey, dropping blood at every step. They were afraid to lie
down, as the wounded limbs might then grow rigid and stop their
progress. While I pitied these maimed persons, I held the sick in
greater sympathy. The troubles of the one were local; the others were
pained in every bone. Bullets are fearful tenants, but fevers are worse.
And some of the flushed, staggering folk, that reeled along the
roadside, were literally out of their minds. They muttered and talked
incoherently, and shouted ribald songs till my blood curdled to see
them. At the first house on the right of the road, a half-mile past the
Creek, I noticed many idle soldiers climbing the white palings, to watch
something that lay in the yard. A gray-haired man was expiring, under
the coolness of a spreading tree, and he was even now in the closing
pangs. A comrade at his side bathed his brow with cool water, but I saw
that he would shortly be with Lazarus or Dives. His hands were stretched
stiffly by his sides, his feet were rigidly extended, and death was
hardening into his bleached face. The white eyeballs glared sightlessly
upward: he was looking into the other world.

The heat at this time was so intolerable that our party, in _lieu_ of
any other place of resort, resolved to go to the woods. The sun set in
heaven like a fiery furnace, and we sweat at every pore. I was afraid,
momentarily, of sunstroke, and my horse was bathed in foam. Some
companies of cavalry were sheltered in the edges of the woods, and,
having secured our nags, we penetrated the depths, and spread out our
blankets that we might lie down. But no breath of air stirred the
foliage. The "hot and copper sky" found counterpart in the burning
earth, and innumerable flies and insects fastened their fangs in our
flesh. Cindrey was upon the rack, and it seemed to me that he possessed
a sort of capillary perspiration, for the drops stood at tips of each
separate bristle. He appeared to be passing from the solid to the fluid
state, and I said, ungenerously, that the existing temperature was his
liquifying point.

"Then," said the man "Pop," with a youngish, oldish smile, "we may as
well liquor up."

"I don't drink!" said Twaddle, with a flourish. "During all the perilous
hours of Shiloh, I abstained. But I am willing to admit, in respect to
heat, that Shiloh is nowhere at present. And, therefore, I drink with a
protest."

"No man can drink from my bottle, with a protest," said "Pop." "It isn't
regular, and implies coercion. Now I don't coerce anybody, particularly
you."

"Oh!" said Twaddle, drinking like a fish, or, as "Pop" remarked, enough
to float a gunboat; "oh! we often chaffed each other at Shiloh."

"If you persist in reminding me of Shiloh," blurted Cindrey, "you'll be
the ruin of me,--you and the heat and the flies. You'll have me
dissolving into a dew."

Here he wiped his forehead, and killed a large blue fly, that was
probing his ear. We all resolved to go to sleep, and Twaddle said that
_he_ slept like a top, in the heat of action, at Shiloh. "Pop" asked
him, youngishly, to be kind enough to capture no redoubts while we
slumbered, and not to raise the national flag over any ramparts for
fifteen minutes. Then he grinned oldishly, and commenced to snore, with
his flask in his bosom. I am certain that nobody ever felt a tithe of
the pain, hunger, heat, and weariness, which agonized me, when I awoke
from a half-hour's sweltering nap. My clothing was soaking with water; I
was almost blind; somebody seemed to be sawing a section out of my head;
my throat was hot and crackling; my stomach knew all the pangs of
emptiness; I had scarcely strength to motion away the pertinacious
insects. A soldier gave me a trifle of boiling water from his canteen;
but I gasped for air; we were living in a vacuum. Sahara could not have
been so fierce and burning. Two of us started off to find a spring. We
made our way from shade to shade, expiring at every step, and finally,
at the base of the hill, on the brink of the swamp, discovered a rill of
tepid water, that evaporated before it had trickled a hundred yards. If
a sleek and venomous water-snake--for there were thousands of them
hereabout--had coiled in the channel, I would still have sucked the
draught, bending down as I did. Then I bethought me of my pony. He had
neither been fed nor watered for twenty hours, and I hastened to obtain
him from his place along the woodside. To my terror, he was gone.
Forgetful of my weakness, I passed rapidly, hither and thither,
inquiring of cavalry-men, and entertaining suspicions of every person in
the vicinity. Finally, I espied him in charge of a rough, thievish
sabreman, who affected not to see me. I went up to the animal, and
pulled the reins from his shoulder, to discover the brand mark,--"U. S."
As I surmised, he had not been branded, and I turned indignantly upon
the fellow:--

"My friend, how came you by this horse?"

"Quartermaster!" said the man, guiltily.

"No sir! He belongs to me. Take off that cavalry-saddle, and find mine,
immediately."

"Not if the court knows itself," said the man--"and it thinks it do!"

"Then," said I, white with rage, "I shall report you at once, for
theft."

"You may, if you want to," replied the man, carelessly.

I struck off at once for the new Provost Quarters, at a farm-house,
close by. The possible failure to regain my animal, filled me with
rueful thoughts. How was I, so dismounted, to reach the distant river? I
should die, or starve, on the way. I thought I should faint, when I came
to the end of the first field, and leaned, tremblingly, against a tree.
I caught myself sobbing, directly, like a girl, and my mind ran upon the
coolness of my home with my own breezy bedroom, soft paintings, and
pleasant books. These themes tortured me with a consciousness of my
folly. I had forsaken them for the wickednesses of this unhappy
campaign. And my body was to blacken by the road-side,--the sable birds
of prey were to be my mourners.

But, looking through my tears, a moving something passed between me and
the sky. A brownish bay pony, trailing a fence-rail by his halter, and
browsing upon patches of oats. I whistled thrice and the faithful animal
trotted to my feet, and extended his great nose to be rubbed. I believe
that this horse was the only living thing in the army that sympathized
with me. He knew that I was sick, and I thought once, that, like the
great dogs of Saint Bernard, he was about to get upon his knees, that I
might the more readily climb upon his back. He did, however, stand
quietly, while I mounted, and I gave him a drink at the foot of the
hill. Returning, I saw the soldier, wrongfully accused, eyeing me from
his haunt beneath the trees. I at once rode over to him, and apologized
for my mistake.

"Never mind," said the man, complacently. "You was all right. I might a
done the same thing. Fact is," he added, "I did hook this hoss, but I
knew you wan't the party."

During the rest of the day I travelled disconsolately, up and down the
road, winding in and out of the lines of teams.

I was assured that it would be impossible to get to the James till next
day, as no portion of that army had yet advanced so far. The moody
minutes of that afternoon made the longest part of my life, while the
cannon at Peach Orchard and Savage's, roared and growled incessantly.
Toward the close of the day I fell in with Captain Hill, of the New York
Saratoga regiment, who gave me the outline of the fight.

The Confederates had discovered that we were falling back, by means of a
balloon, of home manufacture,--the first they had been able to employ
during the entire war. They appeared at our entrenchments on Sunday
morning, and finding them deserted, commenced an irregular pursuit,
whereby, they received terrible volleys of musketry from ambuscaded
regiments, and retired, in disorder, to the ramparts. This was the
battle of "Peach Orchard," and was disastrous to the Southerners. In the
afternoon, they again essayed to advance, but more cautiously. The
Federals, meantime, lay in order of battle upon Savage's, Dudley's, and
Crouch's farms, their right resting on the Chickahominy, their centre on
the railroad, and their left beyond the Williamsburg turnpike. For a
time, an artillery contest ensued, and the hospitals at Savage's, where
the wounded lay, were thrice fired upon. The Confederates finally
penetrated the dense woods that belted this country, and the battle, at
nightfall, became fervid and sanguinary. The Federals held their ground
obstinately, and fell back, covered by artillery, at midnight. The woods
were set on fire, in the darkness, and conflagration painted fiery
terrors on the sky. The dead, littered all the fields and woods. The
retreating army had marked its route with corpses. This was the battle
of "Savage's," and neither party has called it a victory.

During the rest of the night the weary fugitives were crossing White Oak
Creek and Swamp. Toward daybreak, the last battery had accomplished the
passage; the bridge was destroyed; and preparations were made to
dispute the pursuit in the morning.

I noted these particulars and added to my lists of dead and captured. At
dusk I was about to sleep, supperless, upon the bare ground, when my
patron, Colonel Murphy, again came in sight, and invited me to occupy a
shelter-tent, on the brow of the hill at White Oak. To my great joy, he
was able to offer me some stewed beef, bread and butter, and hot coffee.
I ate voraciously, seizing the food in my naked fingers, and rending it
like a beast.

The regiment of Colonel Murphy was composed of laborers, and artificers
of every possible description. There were blacksmiths, moulders, masons,
carpenters, boat-builders, joiners, miners, machinists, riggers, and
rope-makers. They could have bridged the Mississippi, rebuilt the
Tredegar works, finished the Tower of Babel, drained the Chesapeake,
constructed the Great Eastern, paved Broadway, replaced the Grand Trunk
railroad, or tunnelled the Straits of Dover. I have often thought that
the real greatness of the Northern army lay in its ingenuity and
industry, not in its military qualifications.

Our conversation turned upon these matters, as we sat before the
Colonel's tent in the evening, and a Chaplain represented the feelings
of the North in this manner: "We must whip them. We have got more money,
more men, more ships, more ingenuity. They are bound to knuckle at last.
If we have to lose man for man with them, their host will die out before
ours. And we wont give up the Union,--not a piece of it big enough for a
bird or a bee to cover,--though we reduce these thirty millions one
half, and leave only the women and children to inherit the land." The
heart of the army was now cast down, though a large portion of the
soldiers did not know why we were falling back. I heard moody,
despondent, accusing mutterings, around the camp-fires, and my own mind
was full of grief and bitterness. It seemed that our old flag had
descended to a degenerate people. It was not now, as formerly, a proud
recollection that I was an American. If I survived the retreat, it would
become my mission to herald the evil tidings through the length and
breadth of the land. If I fainted in their pursuit, a loathsome prison,
or a grave in the trenches, were to be my awards. When I lay down in a
shelter-tent, rolling from side to side, I remembered that this was the
Sabbath day. A battle Sabbath! How this din and slaughter contrasted
with my dear old Lord's days in the prayerful parsonage! The chimes in
the white spire, where the pigeons cooed in the hush of the singing,
were changed to cannon peals; and the boys that dozed in the "Amen
corner," were asleep forever in the trampled grain-fields. The good
parson, whose clauses were not less truthful, because spoken through his
nose, now blew the loud trumpet for the babes he had baptized, to join
the Captains of fifties and thousands; and while the feeble old women in
the side pews made tremulous responses to the prayer for "thy soldiers
fighting in thy cause," the banners of the Republic were craped, dusty,
and bloody, and the scattered regiments were resting upon their arms for
the shock of the coming dawn.

Thus I thought, tossing and talking through the long watches, and toward
morning, when sleep brought fever-dreams, a monstrous something leered
at me from the blackness, saying, in a sort of music--

"Gobbled up! Gobbled up!"



CHAPTER XVIII.

BY THE RIVERSIDE.


A crash and a stunning shock, as of a falling sphere, aroused me at nine
o'clock. A shell had burst in front of our tent, and the enemy's
artillery was thundering from Casey's old hill, beyond the swamp. As I
hastily drew on my boots,--for I had not otherwise undressed,--I had
opportunity to remark one of those unaccountable panics which develop
among civilian soldiers. The camps were plunged into disorder. As the
shells dropped here and there, among the tents and teams, the wildest
and most fearful deeds were enacted. Here a caisson blew up, tearing the
horses to pieces, and whirling a cannoneer among the clouds. There an
ammunition wagon exploded, and the air seemed to be filled with
fragments of wood, iron, and flesh. A boy stood at one of the fires,
combing out his matted hair; suddenly his head flew off, spattering the
brains, and the shell--which we could not see--exploded in a piece of
woods, mutilating the trees. The effect upon the people around me was
instantaneous and appalling. Some, that were partially dressed, took to
their heels, hugging a medley of clothing. The teamsters climbed into
the saddles, and shouted to their nags, whipping them the while. If the
heavy wheels hesitated to revolve, they left horses and vehicles to
their fate, taking themselves to the woods; or, as in some cases, cut
traces and harness, and galloped away like madmen. In a twinkling our
camps were almost deserted, and the fields, woods, and roads were alive
with fugitives, rushing, swearing, falling, and trampling, while the
fierce bolts fell momentarily among them, making havoc at every rod.

To join this flying, dying mass was my first impulse; but after-thought
reminded me that it would be better to remain. I must not leave my
horse, for I could not walk the whole long way to the James, and the
fever had so reduced me that I hardly cared to keep the little life
remaining. I almost marvelled at my coolness; since, in the fulness of
strength and health, I should have been one of the first of the
fugitives; whereas, I now looked interestedly upon the exciting
spectacle, and wished that it could be daguerreotyped.

Before our artillery could be brought to play, the enemy, emboldened at
his success, pushed a column of infantry down the hill, to cross the
creek, and engage us on our camping-ground. For a time I believed that
he would be successful, and in that event, confusion and ruin would have
overtaken the Unionists. The gray and butternut lines appeared over the
brow of the hill,--they wound at double quick through the narrow
defile,--they poured a volley into our camps when half-way down, and
under cover of the smoke they dashed forward impetuously, with a loud
huzza. The artillery beyond them kept up a steady fire, raining shell,
grape, and canister over their heads, and ploughing the ground on our
side, into zigzag furrows,--rending the trees, shattering the
ambulances, tearing the tents to tatters, slaying the horses, butchering
the men. Directly Captain Mott's battery was brought to bear; but before
he could open fire, a solid shot struck one of his twelve-pounders,
breaking the trunnion and splintering the wheels. In like manner one of
his caissons blew up, and I do not think that he was able to make any
practise whatever. A division of infantry was now marched forward, to
engage the Confederates at the creek side; but two of the
regiments--and I think that one was the 20th New York--turned bodily,
and could not be rallied. The moment was full of significance, and I
beheld these failures with breathless suspense. In five minutes the
pursuers would gain the creek, and in ten, drive our dismayed
battalions, like chaff before the wind. I hurried to my horse, that I
might be ready to escape. The shell and ball still made music around me.
I buckled up my saddle with tremulous fingers, and put my foot upon the
stirrup. But a cheer recalled me and a great clapping of hands, as at
some clever performance in the amphitheatre. I looked again. A battery
from our position across the road, had opened upon the Confederate
infantry, as they reached the very brink of the swamp. For a moment the
bayonets tossed wildly, the dense column staggered like a drunken man,
the flags rose and fell, and then the line fell back disorderly. At that
instant a body of Federal infantry, that I had not seen, appeared, as by
invocation; their steel fell flashingly, a column of smoke enveloped
them, the hills and skies seemed to split asunder with the shock,--and
when I looked again, the road was strewn with the dying and dead; the
pass had been defended.

As the batteries still continued to play, and as the prospect of
uninterrupted battle during the day was not a whit abated, I decided to
resume my saddle, and, if possible, make my way to the James. The
geography of the country, as I had deciphered it, satisfied me that I
must pass "New Market," before I could rely upon my personal safety. New
Market was a paltry cross-road's hamlet, some miles ahead, but as near
to Richmond as White Oak Creek. The probabilities were, that the
Confederates would endeavor to intercept us at this point, and so attack
us in flank and rear. As I did not witness either of these battles,
though I heard the discharge of every musket, it may be as well to
state, in brief, that June 30 was marked by the bloodiest of all the
Richmond struggles, excepting, possibly, Gaines's Mill. While the
Southern artillery engaged Franklin's corps, at White Oak Crossing, and
their left made several unavailing attempts to ford the creek with
infantry,--their entire right and centre, marched out the Charles City
Road, and gave impetuous battle at New Market. The accounts and the
results indicate that the Federals won the day at New Market, sheerly by
good fighting. They were parching with thirst, weak with hunger, and it
might have been supposed that reverses had broken their spirit. On the
contrary they did not fall back a rod, during the whole day, and at
evening Heintzelman's corps crowned their success by a grand charge,
whereat the Confederates broke and were pursued three miles toward
Richmond. The gunboats Galena and Aroostook, lying in the James at
Turkey Bend, opened fire at three o'clock, and killed promiscuously,
Federals and Confederates. But the Southern soldiers were superstitious
as to gunboats, and they could not be made to approach within range of
the Galena's monstrous projectiles.

I shall always recall my journey from White Oak to Harrison's Bar, as
marked by constantly increasing beauties of scenery, and terrors of
event. At every hoof-fall I was leaving the low, boggy, sparsely settled
Chickahominy region, for the high farm-lands of the James. The
dwellings, as I progressed, became handsome; the negro quarters were
less like huts and cattle-sheds; the ripe wheatfields stretched almost
to the horizon; the lawns and lanes were lined with ancient shade-trees;
there were picturesque gates and lodges; the fences were straight and
whitewashed, there were orchards, heavy with crimson apples, where the
pumpkins lay beneath, like globes of gold, in the rows of amber corn.
Into this patriarchal and luxuriant country, the retreating army wound
like a great devouring serpent. It was to me, the coming back of the
beaten _jetters_ through _Midgards_, or the repulse of the fallen angels
from heaven, trampling down the river-sides of Eden. They rode their
team-horses into the wavy wheat, and in some places, where the reapers
had been at work, they dragged the sheaves from the stacks, and rested
upon them. Hearing of the coming of the army, the proprietors had vainly
endeavored to gather their crops, but the negroes would not work, and
they had not modern implements, whereby to mow the grain rapidly. The
profanation of those glorious stretches of corn and rye were to me some
of the most melancholy episodes of the war. No mind can realize how the
grain-fields used to ripple, when the fresh breezes blew up and down the
furrows, and the hot suns of that almost tropical climate, had yielded
each separate head till the whole landscape was like a bright cloud, or
a golden sea. The tall, shapely stalks seemed to reach out imploringly,
like sunny-haired virgins, waiting to be gathered into the arms of the
farmer. They were the Sabine women, on the eve of the bridal, when the
insatiate Romans tore them away and trampled them. The Indian corn was
yet green, but so tall that the tasselled tops showed how cunningly the
young ears were ripening. There were melons in the corn-rows, that a
week would have developed, but the soldiers dashed them open and sucked
the sweet water. They threw clubs at the hanging apples till the ground
was littered with them, and the hogs came afield to gorge; they slew the
hogs and divided the fresh pork among themselves. As I saw, in one
place, dozens of huge German cavalry-men, asleep upon bundles of wheat,
I recalled their Frankish forefathers, swarming down the Apennines, upon
Italy.

The air was so sultry during a part of the day, that one was constantly
athirst. But there was a belt of country, four miles or more in width,
where there seemed to be neither rills nor wells. Happily, the roads
were, in great part, enveloped in stately timber, and the shade was very
grateful to men and horses. The wounded still kept with us, and many
that were fevered. They did not complain with words; but their red eyes
and painful pace told all the story. If we came to rivulets, they used
to lie upon their bellies, along the margins, with their heads in the
flowing water. The nags were so stiff and hot, that, when they were
reined into creeks, they refused to go forward, and my brown animal once
dropped upon his knees, and quietly surveyed me, as I pitched upon my
hands, floundering in the pool. I remember a stone dairy, such as are
found upon Pennsylvania grazing farms, where I stopped to drink. It lay
up a lane, some distance from the road, and two enormous tulip poplar
trees sheltered and half-concealed it. A tiny creek ran through the
dairy, over cool granite slabs, and dozens of earthen milk-bowls lay in
the water, with the mould of the cream brimming at the surface. A pewter
drinking-mug hung to a peg at the side, and there were wooden spoons for
skimming, straining pails, and great ladles of gourd and cocoanut. A
cooler, tidier, trimmer dairy, I had not seen, and I stretched out my
body upon the dry slabs, to drink from one of the milk-bowls. The cream
was sweet, rich, and nourishing, and I was so absorbed directly, that I
did not heed the footfalls of a tall, broad, vigorous man, who said in a
quiet way, but with a deep, sonorous voice, and a decided Northern
twang--

"Friend, you might take the mug. Some of your comrades will want to
drink from that bowl."

I begged his pardon hastily, and said that I supposed he was the
proprietor.

"I reckon that I must give over my ownership, while the army hangs
around here," said the man; "but I must endure what I can't cure."

Here he smiled grimly, and reached down the pewter cup. Then he bent
over a fresh bowl, and dexterously dipped the cup full of milk, without
seeming to break the cream.

"Drink that," he said; "and if there's any better milk in these parts, I
want to know the man."

He looked at me critically, while I emptied the vessel, and seemed to
enjoy my heartiness.

"If you had been smart enough to come this way, victorious," added the
man, straightforwardly, "instead of being out-generalled, whipped, and
driven, I should enjoy the loss of my property a great deal more!"

There was an irresistible heartiness in his tone and manner. He had,
evidently, resolved to bear the misfortunes of war bravely.

"You are a Northern man?" I said, inquiringly.

"How do you know?"

"There are no such dairies in Virginia; a Virginian never dipped a mug
of milk after your fashion; you haven't the Virginia inflection, and
very weak Virginia principles."

The man laughed dryly, and filled himself a cup, which he drank
sedately.

"I reckon you are correct," he said; "pretty much correct, any way. I'm
a New Yorker, from the Mohawk Valley, and I have been showing these
folks how they can't farm. If there's anybody that farms better than I
do, I want to know the man!"

He looked at the flowing water, the clean slabs and walls, the shining
tins, and smacked his lips satisfactorily. I asked him if he farmed with
negroes, and if the prejudices of the country affected either his social
or industrial interests. He answered that he was obliged to employ
negroes, as he had thrice tried the experiment of working with whites,
but with ill success.

"_I_ would have kept 'em," he added, in his great voice, closing a
prodigious fist, "but the men would not stay. I couldn't make the
neighbors respect them. There was nobody for 'em to associate with. They
were looked upon as niggers, and they got to feel it after a while. So I
have had only niggers latterly; but I get more work from them than any
other man in these parts. If there's anybody that gets more work out of
niggers than I do, I want to know the man!"

There was a sort of hard, hearty defiance about him, typical of his
severe, angular race, and I studied his large limbs and grim, full face
with curious admiration. He told me that he hired his negro hands from
the surrounding slave-owners, and that he gave them premiums upon excess
of work, approximating to wages. In this way they were encouraged to
habits of economy, perseverance, and sprightliness.

"I don't own a nigger," he said, "not one! But I don't think a nigger's
much too good to be a slave. I won't be bothered with owning 'em. And I
won't be conquered into 'the institution.' I said, when I commenced,
that I should not buy niggers, and I won't buy niggers, because I said
so! As to social disadvantages, every Northern man has 'em here. They
called me an abolitionist; and a fellow at the hotel in Richmond did so
to my face. I knocked him into a heap, and nobody has meddled with me
since." "Of course," he said, after a moment, "it won't do to inflame
these people. These people are like my bulls, and you mustn't shake a
red stick at 'em. Besides, I'm not a fanatic. I never was. My wife's one
of these people, and I let her think as she likes. But, if there's
anybody in these parts that wants to interfere with me, I should like to
know the man!"

The contemptuous tone in which he mentioned "these people" amused me
infinitely, and I believed that his resolute, indomitable manner would
have made him popular in any society. He was shrewd, withal, and walked
beside me to his gate. When the regiments halted to rest, by the
wayside, he invited the field officers to the dairy, and so obtained
guards to rid him of depredators. He would have escaped very handsomely,
but the hand of war was not always so merciful, and a part of the battle
of Malvern Hills was fought upon his property. I have no doubt that he
submitted unflinchingly, and sat more stolidly amid the wreck than old
Marius in battered Carthage.

Until two o'clock in the afternoon I rode leisurely southward, under a
scorching sky, but still bearing up, though aflame with fever. The guns
thundered continuously behind, and the narrow roads were filled, all the
way, with hurrying teams, cavalry, cannon, and foot soldiers. I stopped,
a while, by a white frame church,--primly, squarely built,--and read the
inscriptions upon the tombs uninterestedly. Some of the soldiers had
pried open the doors, and a wounded Zouave was delivering a mock sermon
from the pulpit. Some of his comrades broke up the meeting by singing--

    "John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave,"

and then a Major ordered them out, and put a guard upon the building.
The guard played cards upon the door sills.

I was frequently obliged, by the crowded state of the roads, to turn
aside into woods, fens, and fields, and so make precarious progress.
Sometimes I strayed, unwittingly, a good way from the army, and
recovered the route with difficulty. On one of these occasions, I was
surprised by a person in civil dress, who seemed to shoot up out of the
ground. He was the queerest, grimmest, fearfulest man that I have ever
known, and, at first, I thought that the arch fiend had appeared before
me. The wood was very deep here, and there were no wayfarers but we two.
It was quite still; but now and then we heard the rumble of wagons, and
the crack of teamster's whips. The man in question wore dead black
beard, and his eyebrows were of the same intense, lustreless hue. So
were his eyes and his hair; but the latter formed a circle or cowl
around his head. He had a pale skin, his fingers, were long and bony,
and he rode dexterously in and out, among the tree boles, with his hat
in his hand. His horse was as black as himself, and, together, they made
a half-brigandish, half-satanic appearance.

I reined in sharply, when I saw this person, and he looked at me like
the evil-eye, through his great owlish orbs.

"Good day," he said, in profound basso, as low I think as "double G,"
and when he opened his mouth, I saw that his teeth were very white.

I saluted him gravely, and, not without a shudder, rode beside him. He
proved to be a sort of Missionary, from the Evangelical religious
denominations of the North, to inquire into the spiritual condition of
the soldiers. Camps were full of such people, but I had not found any
man who appeared to be less qualified for his vocation; to have such a
figure at one's deathbed, would be like a foretaste of the great fiend.
He had a fashion of working his scalp half way down to his eyes, as he
spoke, and when he smiled,--though he never laughed aloud,--his
eyelashes did not contract, as with most people, but rather expanded,
till his eyeballs projected from his head. On such occasions, his white
teeth were revealed like a row of fangs, and his leprous skin grew yet
paler.

"The army has not even the form of godliness," said this man. In the
course of his remarks, he had discovered that I was a correspondent, and
at once turned the conversation into a politico-religious channel.

"The form of godliness is gone," said the man again in "double G." "This
is a calamitous fact! I would it were not so! I grieve to state it! But
inquiry into the fact, has satisfied me that the form of godliness does
not exist. Ah!"

When the man said "Ah!" I thought that my horse would run away, and
really, the tone was like the deep conjuration in Hamlet:
"_swear-r-r-r_!"

"For example," said the man, who told me that his name was Dimpdin,--"I
made some remarks to the 1st New Jersey, on Sabbath week. The field
officers directed the men to attend; I opened divine service with a
feeling hymn; a very feeling hymn! A long measure hymn. By Montgomery!
I commenced earnestly in prayer. In appropriate prayer! I spoke
advisedly for a short hour. What were the results? The deplorable
results? There were men, sir, in that assembly, who went to sleep. To
sleep!"

He must have gone a great way below "double G," this time, and I did not
see how he could get back. He drew his scalp quite down to the bridge of
his nose, and, seeing that my horse pricked up his ears, timorously
smiled like the idol of Baal.

"There were men, sir, who did worse. Not simply failing to be hearers of
the word! But doers of evil! Men who played cards during the service.
Played cards! Gambled! Gambled! And some,--abandoned wretches!--who
mocked me! Lifted up their voices and mocked! Mockers, gamblers,
slumberers!"

I never heard anything so awful as the man Dimpdin's voice, at the
iteration of these three words. They seemed to come from the bowels of
the earth, and rang through the wood like the growl of a lion. He told
me that he was engaged upon a Memorial to the Evangelical Union, which
should state the number of unconverted men in the ranks, and the number
of castaways. He accredited the loss of the campaign to the prevailing
wickedness, but was unwilling to admit that the Southern troops were
more religious. His theory of reform, if I remember it, embraced the
raising of Chaplains to the rank of Major, with proportionate pay and
perquisites, the establishment of a military religious bureau, and a
Chaplain-General with Aides. Each soldier, officer, teamster, and
drummer-boy was to have a Testament in his knapsack, and services should
be held on the eve of every battle, and at roll-call in the mornings.
There was to be an inspection of Testaments as of muskets. For swearing,
a certain sum should be subtracted from the soldier's pay, and conferred
upon the Chaplains.

"In fact," said Dimpdin, tragically,--scalping himself meanwhile,--"the
church must be recognized in every department, and if my Memorial be
acted upon favorably, we shall have such victories, in three months, as
will sweep Rebellion into the grave. Yes! Into the grave! The grave!"

I was obliged to say, here, that my horse could not stand these
sepulchral noises, and that my nerves, being shattered by the fever,
were inadequate to bear the shock. So the man Dimpdin smiled, like a
window-mummy, and contented himself with looking like Apollyon. We
reached a rill directly, and he produced a wicker flask, with a
Britannia drinking-case.

"Young men love stimulating drinks," said Dimpdin,--"strong drinks!
alcoholic drinks! Here is a portion of Monongahela! old Monongahela! We
will refresh ourselves!"

He found a lemon, accidentally, in his saddle-bag, and contrived an
informal punch, with wonderful dexterity. I took a draught modestly, and
he emptied the rest, with an "Ah!" that shook the woods.

I wondered if the man Dimpdin would suggest the apportionment of flasks
to soldiers, in his Evangelical report!

He left me, when we regained the road, to ride with a lithe, bronchial
person, in white neckcloth and coat cut close at the collar. They looked
like the fox and the fiend, in the fable, and I seemed to hear the man
Dimpdin's voice for three succeeding weeks.

At three o'clock, I climbed a gentle hill,--and I was now very weary and
weak,--and from the summit, looked upon the river James, flowing far off
to the right, through woods, and bluffs, and grainfields, and reedy
islands. At last, I had gained the haven. The bright waters below me
seemed to cool my red, fiery eyes, and a sort of blessed blindness fell
for a time upon me, so that, when I looked again my lashes were wet. The
prospect was truly beautiful. Far to the west, standing out from the
chalky bluffs, were scattered the white camps of Wise's Confederate
brigade. Beyond, on the remote bank of the river, lay farm-lands, and
stately mansions, and some one showed me, rising faintly in the
distance, "Drury's Bluff," the site of Fort Darling, where the gunboats
were repulsed in the middle of May. Below, in the river, lay the
_Galena_, and a little way astern, the _Aroostook_. Signal-men, with
flags, were elevated upon the masts of each, and the gunners stood upon
the decks, as waiting some emergency. The vessels had steam up, and
seemed to be ready for action at any moment. This was Grand Turkey Bend,
and the rising ground on which I stood, was known as "Malvern Hills." A
farm-house lay to my left, and repairing thither, I cast myself from the
nag, and lay down in the shady yard, thankful that I had reached the
haven, and only solicitous now to escape the further privations of
McClellan's Peninsular Campaign.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE HOSPITAL TRANSPORT.


An earnest desire now took possession of me, to be the first of the
correspondents to reach New York. The scenes just transpired had been
unparalleled in the war, and if, through me, the ---- should be the
first to make them public, it would greatly redound to my credit.
Perhaps no profession imparts an enthusiasm in any measure kindred to
that of the American Newsgatherer. I was careless of the lost lives and
imperilled interests, the suffering, the defeat: no emotions either of
the patriot or the man influenced me. I only thought of the _eclat_ of
giving the story to the world, and nurtured an insane desire to make to
Fortress Monroe, by some other than the common expedient. That this was
a paltry ambition I know; but I write what happened, and to the
completion of my sketch of a correspondent, this is necessary to be
said. I found Glumley at the old mansion referred to, and stealthily
suggested to him the seizing of an open boat, whereby we might row down
to the Fortress. He rejected it as impracticable, but was willing to
hazard a horseback ride down the Peninsula. I knew that this would not
do, and after a short time I continued my journey down the riverside,
hopeful of finding some transport or Despatch boat. I was now in Charles
City County, and the river below me was dotted with woodland islands. I
soon got upon the main road to Harrison's Point or Bar, and followed the
stream of ambulances and supply teams for more than an hour. At last we
reached a diverging lane, through which we passed to a landing, close to
a fine dwelling, whose style of architecture I may denominate, the
"Gothic run mad." An old cider-press was falling into rottenness on the
lawn; four soldiers were guarding the well, that the mob might not
exhaust its precious contents, and between some negro-huts and the brink
of the bluff, stood a cluster of broad-armed trees, beneath whose shade
the ambulance-drivers were depositing the wounded.

I have made these chapters sufficiently hideous, without venturing to
transcribe these new horrors. Suffice it to say that the men whom I now
beheld had been freshly brought from the fight of New Market, and were
suffering the first agonies of their wounds. One hour before, they had
felt all the lustiness of life and adventure. Now, they were whining
like babes, and some had expired in the ambulances. The act of lifting
them to the ground so irritated their wounds that they howled dismally,
and yet were so exhausted that after lying upon the ground awhile, they
quietly passed into sleep. Such are the hardening results of war, that
some soldiers, who were unhurt, actually refused to give a trifle of
river water from their canteens to their expiring comrades. At one time
a brutal wrangle occurred at the well, and the guard was compelled to
seek reinforcement, or the thirsty people would have massacred them.

I was now momentarily adding to my notes of the battles, and the wounded
men very readily gave me their names; for they were anxious that the
account of their misfortunes should reach their families, and I think
also, that some martial vanity lingered, even among those who were
shortly to crumble away. A longboat came in from the Galena, after a
time, and General McClellan, who had ridden down to the pier, was taken
aboard. He looked to be very hot and anxious, and while he remained
aboard the vessel, his staff dispersed themselves around the banks and
talked over the issues of the contest. As the General receded from the
strand, every sweep of the long oars was responded to from the hoarse
cannon of the battle-field, and when he climbed upon deck, the steamer
moved slowly up the narrow channel, and the signal-man in the foretop
flourished his crossed flag sturdily. Directly, the _Galena_ opened fire
from her immense pieces of ordnance, and the roar was so great that the
explosions of field-guns were fairly drowned. She fired altogether by
the direction of the signals, as nothing could be seen of the
battle-field from her decks. I ascertained afterward that she played
havoc with our own columns as well as the enemy's, but she brought hope
to the one, and terror to the other. The very name of gunboat affrighted
the Confederates, and they were assured, in this case, that the
retreating invaders, had at length reached a haven. The _Galena_ kept up
a steady fire till nightfall, and the Federals, taking courage, drove
their adversaries toward Richmond, at eve. Meanwhile the Commanding
General's escort and body-guard had encamped around us, and during the
night the teams and much of the field cannon fell back. I obtained
shelter and meals from Quartermaster Le Duke of Iowa, whose canvas was
pitched a mile or more below, and as I tossed through the watches I
heard the splashing of water in the river beneath, where the tired
soldiers were washing away the powder of the battle.

In the morning I retraced to head-quarters, and vainly endeavored to
learn something as to the means of going down the river. Commanders are
always anxious to grant correspondents passes after a victory; but they
wish to defer the unwelcome publication of a defeat. I was advised by
Quartermaster-General Van Vliet, however, to proceed to Harrison's Bar,
and, as I passed thither, the last day's encounters--those of "Malvern
Hills"--occurred. The scenes along the way were reiterations of terrors
already described,--creaking ambulances, staggering foot soldiers,
profane wagoners, skulking officers and privates, officious Provost
guards, defiles, pools and steeps packed with teams and cannon, wayside
houses beset with begging, gossiping, or malicious soldiers, and wavy
fields of wheat and rye thrown open to man and beast. I was amused at
one point, to see some soldiers attack a beehive that they might seize
the honey. But the insects fastened themselves upon some of the
marauders, and after indescribable cursing and struggling, the bright
nectar and comb were relinquished by the toilers, and the ravishers
gorged upon sweetness.

Harrison's Bar is simply a long wharf, extending into the river, close
by the famous mansion, where William Henry Harrison, a President of the
United States, was born, and where, for two centuries, the scions of a
fine old Virginia family have made their homestead. The house had now
become a hospital, and the wounded were being conveyed to the pier,
whence they were delivered over to some Sanitary steamers, for passage
to Northern cities. I tied my horse to the spokes of a wagon-wheel, and
asked a soldier to watch him, while I repaired to the quay. A half
drunken officer was guarding the wharf with a squad of men, and he
denied me admittance, at first, but when I had said something in
adulation of his regiment--a trick common to correspondents--he passed
me readily. The ocean steamer _Daniel Webster_ was about being cast
adrift when I stepped on board, and Colonel Ingalls, Quartermaster in
charge, who freely gave me permission to take passage in her, advised me
not to risk returning to shore. So, reluctantly, I resigned my pony,
endeared to me by a hundred adventures, and directly I was floating down
the James, with the white teams and the tattered groups of men, receding
from me, and each moment the guns of Malvern Hills growing fainter.
Away! praised be a merciful God! away from the accursed din, and terror,
and agony, of my second campaign,--away forever from the Chickahominy.

For awhile I sat meditatively in the bow of the boat, full of strange
perplexities and thankfulness. I had escaped the bullet, and fever, and
captivity, and a great success in my profession was about to be accorded
to me, but there was much work yet to be done. The rough material I had
for a grand account of the closing of the campaign; but these
fragmentary figures and notes must be wrought into narrative, and to
avail myself of their full significance, I must lose no moment of
application. I found that I was one of four correspondents on board, and
we resolved to district the boat, each correspondent taking one fourth
of the names of the sick and wounded. The spacious saloons, the clean
deck, the stairways, the gangways, the hold, the halls,--all were filled
with victims. They lay in rows upon straw beds, they limped feverishly
here and there; some were crazed from sunstroke, or gashes; and one man
that I remember counted the rivets in the boilers over the whole hundred
miles of the journey, while another,--a teamster,--whipped and cursed
his horses as if he had mistaken the motion of the boat for that of his
vehicle.

The _Daniel Webster_ was one of a series of transports supplied for the
uses of the wounded by a national committee of private citizens. Her
wood work was shining and glossy, her steel shone like mirrors, and she
was cool as Paradise. Out of the smoke, and turmoil, and suffocation of
battle these wretched men had emerged, to enjoy the blessedness,
unappreciated before, of shelter, and free air and cleanliness. There
was ice in abundance on board, and savory lemonade lay glassily around
in great buckets. Women flitted from group to group with jellies,
_bonbons_, cigars, and oranges, and the grateful eyes of the prostrate
people might have melted one to tears. These women were enthusiasts of
all ages and degrees, who proffered themselves, at the beginning of the
war, as stewardesses and nurses. From the fact that some of them were of
masculine natures, or, in the vocabulary of the times, "strong-minded,"
they were the recipients of many coarse jests, and imputations were
made upon both their modesty and their virtue. But I would that any
satirist had watched with me the good offices of these Florence
Nightingales of the West, as they tripped upon merciful errands, like
good angels, and left paths of sunshine behind them. The soldiers had
seen none of their countrywomen for months, and they followed these
ambassadors with looks half-idolatrous, half-downcast, as if consciously
unworthy of so tender regard.

"If I could jest die, now," said one of the poor fellows to me, "with
one prayer for my country, and one for that dear young lady!"

There was one of these daughters of the good Samaritan whose face was so
full of coolness, and her robes so airy, flowing, and graceful, that it
would have been no miracle had she transmuted herself to something
divine. She was very handsome, and her features bore the imprint of that
high enthusiasm which may have animated the maid of Arc. One of the more
forward of the correspondents said to her, as she bore soothing
delicacies to the invalids, that he missed the satisfaction of being
wounded, at which she presented an orange and a cigar to each of us in
turn. Among the females on board, I remarked one, very large, angular,
and sanguine, who sat at a small table, dispensing luxuries with the
manners of a despot and the charity of a child. She had a large vessel
of boiling coffee, from which she drew spicy quantities at intervals;
and when the troops thronged around eagerly, she rebuked the more
forward, and called up some emaciated, bashful fellows, giving them
the preference. Every soldier who accepted coffee was obliged to
take a religious tract, and she gave them away with a grim satisfaction
that was infinitely amusing and interesting. I ventured to ask
this imperative person for a bottle of ink, and after some
difficulty,--arising out of a mistaken notion on her part that I was
dangerously wounded,--she vaulted over a chair, and disappeared into a
state-room. When she returned, her arms were filled with a perfect
wilderness of stationery, and having supplied each of us in turn, she
addressed herself to me in the following sententious manner:--

"See here! You reporter! (There's ink!) I want to be put in the
newspapers! Look at me! Now! Right straight! (Pens?) Here I am; thirteen
months at work; been everywhere; done good; country; church; never
noticed. Never!--Now! I want to be put in newspapers."

At this point the Imperatress was called off by some soldiers, who
presumed to draw coffee without her consent. She slapped one of them
soundly, and at once overpowered him with kindnesses, and tracts; then
she returned and gave me a photograph, representing herself with a
basket of fruit, and a quantity of good books. I took note of her name,
but unfortunately lost the memorandum, and unless she has been honored
by some more careful scribe, I fear that her labors are still
unrecognized.

During much of the trip, I wrote material parts of my report, copied
portions of my lists, and managed before dusk, to get fairly underway
with my narrative. From the deck of the steamer I beheld at five
o'clock, what I had long wished to see,--the famous island of Jamestown,
celebrated in the early annals of the New World, as the home of John
Smith, and of Nathaniel Bacon, and as the resort of the Indian Princess,
Pocahontas. A single fragment of a tower, the remnant of the Colonial
church, was the only ruin that I could see.

At seven o'clock we dropped anchor in Hampton Roads, and a boat let down
from the davits. Some of my wily compeers endeavored to fill all the
stern seats, that I might not be pulled to shore; but I swung down by a
rope, and made havoc with their shins, so that they gained nothing; the
surf beat so vehemently against the pier at Old Point, that we were
compelled to beach the boat, and I ran rapidly through the ordnance
yard to the "Hygeia House," where our agent boarded; he had gone into
the Fortress to pass the night, and when I attempted to follow him
thither, a knot of anxious idlers, who knew that I had just returned
from the battle-fields, attempted to detain me by sheer force. I dashed
rapidly up the plank walk, reached the portal, and had just vaulted into
the area, when the great gates swung to, and the tattoo beat; at the
same instant the sergeant of guard challenged me:--

"Who comes there? Stand fast! Guard prime!"

A dozen bright musket-barrels were levelled upon me, and I heard the
click of the cocks as the fingers were laid upon the triggers. When I
had explained, I was shown the Commandant's room, and hastening in that
direction, encountered Major Larrabee, my old patron of the fifth
Wisconsin regiment. He took me to the barracks, where a German officer,
commanding a battery, lodged, and the latter accommodated me with a camp
bedstead. Here I related the incidents of the engagements, and before I
concluded, the room was crowded with people. I think that I gave a
sombre narration, and the hearts of those who heard me were cast down.
Still, they lingered; for the bloody story possessed a hideous
fascination, and I was cross-examined so pertinaciously that my host
finally arose, protesting that I needed rest, and turned the party out
of the place. The old fever-dreams returned to me that night, and my
brain spun round for hours before I could close my eyes.



CHAPTER XX.

ON FURLOUGH AWHILE.


Counter winds and tides had so delayed the _Adelaide_, on which I
departed for New York with my despatches, that it became a doubtful
question as to whether we could make connection with the early train for
New York. The captain shook his head distrustfully when he had looked at
his watch, and told me that he frequently failed to land his passengers
in time. The bitterness of the doubt so troubled me, that I paced the
decks, looking at the approaching city, and thinking that all my labor
was to be disappointed in the end. I could not telegraph my narrative
and lists, for Government controlled the wires; and moreover, the
Associated Press regulations forbade any newspaper to telegraph
exclusive news from any point but Washington. I half resolved to hire a
special locomotive, but it was doubtful that the railway authorities
could procure one, at 60 short notice. Unless I overtook the eight
o'clock A. M. train, I could not get to New York before two o'clock next
morning,--too late for the press. Besides, how did I know that some
correspondent had not reached Washington, by way of one of the Potomac
vessels, and so forestalled me? Here was an opportunity to be the first
of all our correspondents to publish the incidents and results of six
days' stupendous warfare,--but escaping at the very moment of
realization. The seconds were hours as we swept past Fort Carroll,
rounded Fort McHenry, and swung toward our moorings, under Fort Federal
Hill.

"If we make a prompt landing," said the Captain, "you may barely get the
train."

I stood with my bundles of notes upon the high deck, and signalled a
cab-driver. He caught the precious manuscript, and bolted for his cab.
In another second he was 'dashing like a runaway up the pier, over the
bridge, through Pratt Street, and--out of sight. Slowly the great hulk
turned awkwardly about; one turn of her paddles brought us close enough
to fling a rope, a second drew her very near the shore; the distance was
fearful, but I braced myself for the leap.

"Stand clear!" I called to the score of hackmen.

A little run, a spring,--and I fell upon my feet, rolled over upon my
face, gathered myself to the arms of all the Jehus, and was carried off
bodily by a man with a great knob on his forehead as big as the end of
his whip-handle.

"G'lang! Who-o-o-oh! Swis-s-s!"

I think that I promised that man everything under the sun to catch the
train. I recollect that the knob on his forehead grew black and bulging
as he lashed his horse. I found myself standing up in the cab, screaming
like the driver. We were both insane, and the horse must have been of
the breed of _Pegasus_, for I could feel the vehicle gyrating in the
air. Now we turned a lamp-post, and the glass splintered somewhere; a
dog howled as we drove over his appendage; a woman with a baby gave a
short scream and disappeared into the earth; a policeman gave chase, but
we laughed him to scorn.

Huzza! Here we are! The train stands puffing at the long platform. "Your
bundle, yer honor! Wasn't I the boy to make the keers?" "Didn't I
projuce yer honor in good time, sur?" I only know that I flung a
greenback to the two,--that I vainly besought the ticket agent to give
me no change, but consign it to the first engineer who failed to make
time,--that I wrote on the back of my hat for four hours,--that I
devoured a chicken and as many eggs as she had laid in a lifetime, at
Havre de Grace,--that I leaped upon the platform at Broad and Prime
streets, Philadelphia, at noon,--that I plunged into a cab, and said,
significantly--

"New York Ferry!"

It chafed me to pass through the promenade street of my home-city,
without a moment to spare for my family or friends. The cab-horse
slipped in Chestnut Street, and I went over the rest of the route on
foot, at a dog-trot pace, passing in various quarters for a sportsman, a
professional runner, and a lunatic. I was greatly aggravated between
Amboy and Camden, by persons making inquiries for brothers, sons, and
acquaintances. At last, when I attained the steamer, the Captain kindly
shut me up in his office, and I went on with my narrative till my eyes
were burning and my hands failed in their function. Kill von Kull and
its picturesque shores went by; we emerged into the beautiful bay, and
winding among its buoys, harbor lights, and shipping, came to, at
length, at the foot of Christopher Street. I repaired to the office at
once, and wrote far into the night, refraining, finally, from sheer
blindness and exhaustion, and dropped asleep in the carriage as I was
taken toward the Metropolitan Hotel.

The next day was Friday, July 4, the anniversary of American
Independence, and my version of the six-days' battles caused universal
gloom and grief. I had furnished five pages or forty columns of closely
printed matter, and thousands of tremulous fingers were tracing out the
names of their dead dear ones, while I sipped my wine and rehearsed for
the hundredth time, the incidents of the retreat to a multitude of men.
Cards and letters came to me by the gross, from bereaved countrymen, and
I was obliged, finally, to add a postscript to my account, and a protest
that I knew no more, and could answer no interrogatories. A bath, fresh
clothing, and rich food so far improved my appearance in a few days,
that I presented no other traces of sickness and travel than a sunburnt
face, and a rheumatic walk.

With restoration came a revival of old desires, appetites, and
attachments. It required one additional campaign to sober me in these
respects, and I was not a little relieved, to receive an order on the
fourth day, to proceed to Washington, and attach myself to the "Army of
Virginia" at the head of which Major-General John Pope had just been
placed. After two quieter days' enjoyment, in the Quaker City, I
reported myself at the Capital, but was debarred from taking the field
at once, owing to the tardiness of the new Commander. For two weeks or
more, I loitered around Washington, and although the time passed
monotonously, I saw many persons and events which have much to do with
the history of the Rebellion. The story of "Washington During the War"
has yet to be written in all its vividness of enterprise, devotion, and
infamy. It has been, in periods of peace, a dull, dolorous town, of
mammoth hotels, paltry dwellings, empty lots, prodigiously wide avenues,
a fossil population, and a series of gigantic public buildings, which
seemed dropped by accident into a fifth-rate backwoods settlement.
During the sessions Washington was overrun with "Smartness": Smart
pages, smart messengers, smart cabmen, smart publicans, smart
politicians, smart women, smart scoundrels! Greatness became commonplace
here, and Mr. Douglas might drink at Willard's Bar, with none so poor to
do him reverence, or General Winfield Scott strut like a colossus along
"the Avenue," and the sleepy negroes upon their backs would give him the
attention of only one eye. It was interesting, to notice how rapidly
provincial eminence lost caste here. Slipkins, who was "Honorable" at
home, and of whom his county newspaper said that "this distinguished
fellow citizen of ours will be heard from, among the greatest of the
free,"--Slipkins moved to and fro unnoticed, and voted with his party,
and drank much brandy and water, and left no other record at the Capital
than some unpaid bills, and perhaps an unacknowledged heir. A gaping
rustic and his new bride, or a strolling foreigner, marvelling and
making notes at every turn, might be observed in the Patent Office
examining General Washington's breeches, but these were at once called
"greenies," and people put out their tongues and winked at them. The
Secretaries' ladies gave parties now and then, attended by the folks who
sold them horses, or carpets, or wines; the President gave a "levee,"
whereat a wonderfully Democratic horde gathered to pinch his hands and
ogle his lady; the Marine band (in _red_ coats), played twice a week in
the Capital grounds, and Senators, Cyprians, Ethiops, and children
rallied to enjoy; a theatre or two played time-honored dramas with
Thespian companies; a couple of scholars lectured in the sombre
Smithsonian Institution; an intrigue and a duel filled some most doleful
hiatus; and a clerk absconded with half a million, or an Indian agent
robbed the red men and fell back to the protection of his "party." A
very dismal, a very dirty, and a very Democratic settlement was the
American Capital, till the war came.

Even the war lost half its interest in Washington. A regiment marching
down Broadway was something to see, but the same regiment in
Pennsylvania Avenue looked mean and matter-of-fact. A General in the
field, or riding uncovered through Boston or Baltimore, or even lounging
at the bar of the Continental or the Astor House or the Tremont, was
invested with an atmosphere half heroic, half poetic; but Generals
in Washington may be counted by pairs, and I used to sit at dinner
with eight or a dozen of them in my eye. There was the new
Commander-in-Chief, Halleck, a short, countryfied person, whose blue
coat was either threadbare or dusty, or lacked some buttons, and who
picked his teeth walking up and down the halls at Willard's, and argued
through a white, bilious eye and a huge mouth. There was General
Mitchel, also, who has since passed away,--a little, knotty gentleman,
with stiff, gray, Jacksonian hair. And General Sturgis passed in and out
perpetually, with impressive, individual Banks, or some less prominent
person, all of them wearing the gold star upon their shoulders, and
absolute masters of some thousands of souls. The town, in fact, was
overrun with troops. Slovenly guards were planted on horseback at
crossings, and now and then they dashed, as out of a profound sleep, to
chase some galloping cavalier. Gin and Jews swarmed along the Avenue,
and I have seen gangs of soldiers of rival regiments, but oftener of
rival nationalities, pummelling each other in the highways, until they
were marched off by the Provosts. The number of houses of ill-fame was
very great, and I have been told that Generals and Lieutenants of the
same organization often encountered and recognized each other in them.
Contractors and "jobbers" used to besiege the offices of the Secretaries
of War and Navy, and the venerable Welles (who reminded me of Abraham in
the lithographs), and the barnacled Stanton, seldom appeared in public.
Simple-minded, straightforward A. Lincoln, and his ambitious, clever
lady, were often seen of afternoons in their barouche; the little
old-fashioned Vice-President walked unconcernedly up and down; and when
some of the Richmond captives came home to the Capital, immense meetings
were held, where patriotism bawled itself hoarse. A dining hour at
Willard's was often wondrously adapted for a historic picture, when
accoutred officers, and their beautiful wives,--or otherwise,--sat at
the _table d'-hôte_, and sumptuous dishes flitted here and there, while
corks popped like so many Chinese crackers, and champagne bubbled up
like blood. At night, the Provost Guard enacted the farce of coming by
deputations to each public bar, which was at once closed, but reopened
five minutes afterward. Congress water was in great demand for weak
heads of mornings, and many a young lad, girt up for war, wasted his
strength in dissipation here, so that he was worthless afield, and
perhaps died in the hospital. The curse of civil war was apparent
everywhere. One had but to turn his eye from the bare Heights of
Arlington, where the soldiers of the Republic lay demoralized, to the
fattening vultures who smoked and swore at the National, to see the true
cause of the North's shortcomings,--its inherent and almost universal
corruption. Human nature was here so depraved, that man lost faith in
his kind. Death lurked behind ambuscades and fortifications over the
river, but Sin, its mother, coquetted _here_, and as an American, I
often went to bed, loathing the Capital, as but little better than
Sodom, though its danger had called forth thousands of great hearts to
throb out, in its defence. For every stone in the Capitol building, a
man has laid down his life. For every ripple on the Potomac, some
equivalent of blood has been shed.

I lodged for some time in Tenth Street, and took my meals at Willard's.
The legitimate expenses of living in this manner were fourteen dollars a
week; but one could board at Kirkwood's or Brown's for seven or eight
dollars, very handsomely. A favorite place of excursion, near the city,
was "Crystal Spring," where some afternoon orgies were enacted, which
should have made the sun go into eclipse. I repaired once to Mount
Vernon, and looked dolorously at the tomb of the _Pater Patris_, and
once to Annapolis, on the Chesapeake, which the war has elevated into a
fine naval station.

At length Pope's forces were being massed along the line of the
Rappahannock, below the Occoquan river, and upon the "Piedmont"
highlands. "Piedmont" is the name applied to the fine table-lands of
Northern Virginia, and the ensuing campaign has received the designation
of the "Piedmont Campaign." Pope's army proper was composed of three
corps, commanded respectively by Generals Irvin McDowell, Franz Siegel,
and Nathaniel P. Banks. But a portion of General McClellan's peninsular
army had meantime returned to the Potomac, and the corps of General
Burnside was stationed at Fredericksburg, thirty miles or more below
Pope's head-quarters at Warrenton.

I presented myself to General Pope on the 12th of July, at noon. His
Washington quarters consisted of a quiet brick house, convenient to the
War office, and the only tokens of its importance were some guards at
the threshold, and a number of officers' horses, saddled in the shade of
some trees at the curb. The lower floor of the dwelling was appropriated
to quartermasters' and inspectors' clerks, before whom a number of
people were constantly presenting themselves, with applications for
passes;--sutlers, in great quantities, idlers, relic-hunters, and
adventurers in still greater ratio, and, last of all, citizens of
Virginia, solicitous to return to their farms and families. The mass of
these were rebuffed, as Pope had inaugurated his campaign with a show of
severity, even threatening to drive all the non-combatants out of his
lines, unless they took the Federal oath of allegiance. He gave me a
pass willingly, and chatted pleasantly for a time. In person he was
dark, martial, and handsome,--inclined to obesity, richly garbed in
civil cloth, and possessing a fiery black eye, with luxuriant beard and
hair. He smoked incessantly, and talked imprudently. Had he commenced
his career more modestly, his final discomfiture would not have been so
galling; but his vanity was apparent to the most shallow observer, and
although he was brave, clever, and educated, he inspired distrust by his
much promising and general love of gossip and story-telling. He had all
of Mr. Lincoln's garrulity (which I suspect to be the cause of their
affinity), and none of that good old man's unassuming common sense.

The next morning, at seven o'clock, I embarked for Alexandria, and
passed the better half of the forenoon in negotiating for a pony. At
eleven o'clock, I took my seat in a bare, filthy car, and was soon
whirled due southward, over the line of the Orange and Alexandria
railroad. The country between Alexandria and Warrenton Junction, or,
indeed, between Washington and Richmond, was not unlike those masterly
descriptions of Gibbon, detailing the regions overrun by Hyder Ali. The
towns stood like ruins in a vast desert, and one might write musing
epitaphs at every wind-beaten dwelling, whence the wretched denizens had
fled in cold and poverty to a doubtful hospitality in the far South.
Fences there were none, nor any living animals save the braying hybrids
which limped across the naked plains to eke out existence upon some
secluded patches of grass. These had been discharged from the army, and
they added rather than detracted from the lonesomeness of the wild.
Their great mournful eyes and shaggy heads glared from copses, and in
places where they had lain down beside the track to expire. If we
sometimes pity these dumb beasts as they drag loaded wains, or heavy
omnibuses, or sub-soil ploughs, we may also bestow a tender sentiment
upon the army mules. Flogged by teamsters, cursed by quartermasters,
ridiculed by roaring regiments of soldiers, strained and spavined by
fearful draughts, stalled in bogs and fainting upon hillsides,--their
bones will evidence the sites of armies, when the skeletons of men have
crumbled and become reabsorbed. I have seen them die like martyrs, when
the inquisitor, with his bloody lash, stood over them in the closing
pangs, and their last tremulous howl has almost moved to tears. Some of
the dwellings seemed to be occupied, but the tidiness of old times was
gone. The women seemed sunburnt and hardened by toil. They looked from
their thresholds upon the flying train, with their hair unbraided and
their garters ungyved,--not a negro left to till the fields, nor a son
or brother who had not travelled to the wars. They must be now hewers of
wood, and drawers of water, and the fingers whereon diamonds used to
sparkle, must clench the axe and the hoe.

At last we came to Bull Run, the dark and bloody ground where the first
grand armies fought and fled, and again to be consecrated by a baptism
of fire. The railway crossed the gorge upon a tall trestle bridge, and
for some distance the track followed the windings of the stream. A
black, deep, turgid current, flowing between gaunt hills, lined with
cedar and beech, crossed here and there by a ford, and vanishing, above
and below, in the windings of wood and rock; while directly beyond, lie
the wide plains of Manassas Junction, stretching in the far horizon, to
the undulating boundary of the Blue Ridge. As the Junction remains
to-day, the reader must imagine this splendid prospect, unbroken by
fences, dwellings, or fields, as if intended primevally to be a place
for the shock of columns, with redoubts to the left and right, and
fragments of stockades, dry rifle pits, unfinished or fallen
breastworks, and, close in the foreground, a medley of log huts for the
winter quartering of troops. The woods to the north mark the course of
Bull Run; a line of telegraph poles going westward points to Manassas
Gap; while the Junction proper is simply a point where two single track
railways unite, and a few frame "shanties" or sheds stand contiguous.
These are, for example, the "New York Head-quarters," kept by a person
with a hooked nose, who trades in cakes, lemonade, and (probably)
whiskey, of the brand called "rotgut;" or the "Union Stores," where a
person in semi-military dress deals in India-rubber overcoats,
underclothing, and boots. As the train halts, lads and negroes propose
to sell sandwiches to passengers, and soldiers ride up to take mail-bags
and bundles for imperceptible camps. In the distance some teams are
seen, and a solitary horseman, visiting vestiges of the battle; sidings
beside the track are packed with freight cars, and a small mountain of
pork barrels towers near by; there are blackened remains of locomotives
a little way off, but these have perhaps hauled regiments of
Confederates to the Junction; and over all--men, idlers, ruins, railway,
huts, entrenchments--floats the star-spangled banner from the roof of a
plank depot.

The people in the train were rollicking and well-disposed, and black
bottles circulated freely. I was invited to drink by many persons, but
the beverage proffered was intolerably bad, and several convivials
became stupidly drunk. A woman in search of her husband was one of the
passengers, and those contiguous to her were as gentlemanly as they knew
how to be. "A pretty woman, in war-time," said a Captain, aside, to me,
"is not to be sneezed at." At "Catlett's," a station near Warrenton
Junction, we narrowly escaped a collision with a train behind, and the
occupants of our train, women included, leaped down an embankment with
marvellous agility. Here we switched off to the right, and at four
o'clock dismounted at the pleasant village of Warrenton.



CHAPTER XXI.

CAMPAIGNING WITH GENERAL POPE.


The court-house village of Fauquier County contained a population of
twelve or fifteen hundred at the commencement of the war. Its people
embraced the revolutionary cause at the outstart, and furnished some
companies of foot to the Confederate service, as well as a mounted
company known as the "Black Horse Cavalry." The guns of Bull Run were
heard here on the day of battle, and hundreds of the wounded came into
town at nightfall. Thenceforward Warrenton became prominently identified
with the struggle, and the churches and public buildings were transmuted
to hospitals. After the Confederates retired from Manassas Junction, the
vicinity of Warrenton was a sort of neutral ground. At one time the
Southern cavalry would ride through the main street, and next day a body
of mounted Federals would pounce upon the town, the inhabitants,
meanwhile, being apprehensive of a sabre combat in the heart of the
place. Some people were ruined by the war; some made fortunes. The Mayor
of the village was named Bragg, and he was a trader in horses, as well
as a wagon-builder. There were two taverns, denominated respectively,
the "Warrenton Inn," and the "Warren Green Hotel." I obtained a room at
the former. A young man named Dashiell kept it. He was a
fair-complexioned, clever, high-strung Virginian, and managed to obtain
a great deal of paper money from both republics. It is an encomium in
America, to say that a man "Can keep a hotel," but what shall be said of
the man who can keep a hotel in war-time? I observed young Dashiell's
movements from day to day, and I am satisfied that his popularity arose
from his fairness and frankness. He charged nine dollars a week for
room, and "board," of three meals, but could, with difficulty, obtain
meat and vegetables for the table. His mother and his brother-in-law
lived in the house. The latter was a son of Mayor Bragg, and had been
twice in the Confederate service. He was engaged both at Bull Run and at
Fairfax Court House, and made no secret of his activity at either place.
But he was treated considerately, though he vaunted intolerably. The
"Inn" was a frame dwelling, with a first floor of stone, surrounded by a
double portico. The first room (entering from the street) was the
office, consisting of a bare floor, some creaking benches, some chairs
with whittled and broken arms, a high desk, where accounts were kept, a
row of bells, numbered, communicating with the rooms. Hand-bills were
pinned to the walls, announcing that William Higgins was paying good
prices for "likely" field hands, that Timothy Ingersoll's stock of dry
goods was the finest in Piedmont, that James Mason's mulatto woman,
named Rachel, had decamped on the night of Whitsuntide, and that one
hundred dollars would be paid by the subscriber for her return. Most of
these bills were out of date, but some recent ones were exhibited to me
calling for volunteers, labelled, "Ho! for winter-quarters in
Washington;" "Sons of the South arise!"--"Liberty, glory, and no
Yankeedom!" A bellcord hung against the "office" door, communicating
with the stables, where a deaf hostler might _not_ be rung up. In the
back yard, suspended from a beam, and upright, hung a large bell, which
called the boarders to meals. It commonly rung thrice, and I was told on
inquiry, by the cook--

"De fust bell, sah, is to prepah to prepah for de table; dat bell, when
de fust cook don't miss it, is rung one hour befo' mealtime. De second
bell, sah, is to _prepah_ for de table; de last bell, to _come_ to de
table."

I should have been better pleased with the ceremony, if the food had
been more cleanly, more wholesome, and more abundant. We used to clear
the plates in a twinkling, and if a person asked twice for beef, or
butter, he was stared at by the negroes, as if he had eaten an entire
cow. I soon brought the head-waiter to terms by promising him a dollar a
week for extra attendance, and could even get ice after a time, which
was a luxury. There was a bar upon the premises, which opened
stealthily, when there were liquors to be sold. Cider (called
champaigne) could be purchased for three dollars a bottle, and whiskey
came to hand occasionally. There were cigars in abundance, and I used to
sit on the upper porch of evenings, puffing long after midnight, and
watching the sentinels below.

There was some female society in Warrenton, but the blue-coats engrossed
it all. The young women were ardent partisans, but also very pretty; and
treason, somehow, heightened their beauty. Disloyalty is always
pardonable in a woman, and these ladies appreciated the fact. They
refused to walk under Federal flags, and stopped their ears when the
bands played national music; but every evening they walked through the
main street, arm in arm with dashing Lieutenants and Captains. Many
flirtations ensued, and a great deal of gossip was elicited. In the end,
some of the misses fell out among themselves, and hated each other more
than the common enemy. I overheard a young lady talking in a low tone
one evening, to a Captain in the Ninth New York regiment.

"If you knew my brother," she said, "I am sure you would not fire upon
_him_."

As there were plain, square, prim porches to all the dwellings, the
ladies commonly took positions therein of evenings, and a grand
promenade commenced of all the young Federals in the town. The streets
were pleasantly shaded, and a leafy coolness pervaded the days, though
sometimes, of afternoons, the still heat was almost stifling. A jaunt
after supper often took me far into the country, and the starlights were
softer than one's peaceful thoughts. To be a civilian was a
distinguished honor now, and I enjoyed the staring of the citizens, who
pondered as to my purposes and pursuits, as only villagers can do. There
is a quiet pleasure in being a strange person in a country town, and so
far from objecting to the inquisitiveness of the folk, I rather like it.
One may be passing for a young duke, or tourist, or clergyman, or what
not?

The Ninth New York (militia) regiment guarded Warrenton, and it was
composed of clever, polite young fellows, who had taken to volunteering
before there was any promise of war, and who turned out, pluckily, when
the strife began. Perhaps public sentiment or pride of organization
influenced them. They were all good-looking and tidy, and their
dress-parades, held in the main street, were handsome affairs. I have
never seen better disciplined columns, and the youthful faces of the
soldiers, with the staid locality of the exhibition,--young women,
negroes, dogs and babies, and old men looking on,--seemed to contradict
the bloody mission of the troops. The old men, referred to, were
villagers of such long standing that had the Court of Saint James, or
the Vatican, or the battle of Waterloo been moved into their country,
they would have still been villagers to the last. They met beside the
Warrenton Inn, under the shade of the trees, at eleven o'clock every
morning, and borrowed the New York papers of the latest date. One
individual, slightly bald, would read aloud, and the rest crouched or
stood about him, making grunts and remarks at intervals. They did not
wish to believe the Federal reports, but they must needs read, and as
most of them had sons in the other army, their pulses were constantly
tremulous with anxiety. I think that Pope's resolve to transport these
harmless old people beyond his lines was very barbarous, and the
soldiers denounced it in similar terms. They spoke of Pope, as of some
terrible despot, and wished to know when he was coming to town, as they
had appointed a committee, and drafted a petition, asking his
forbearance and charity. When these villagers found me out to be a
Newspaper Correspondent, they regarded me with amusing interest, and
marvelled what I would say of their town. A villager is very sensitive
as to his place of residence, and these good people read the----daily,
confounding me with all the paper,--editorial, correspondence, and, I
verily believe, advertisements. One of them wished me to board at his
residence, and I was, after a time, invited out to dinner and tea
frequently.

The negroes remained in Warrenton, in great numbers, and held carnival
of evenings when the bands played. "Contrabands" were coming daily into
town, and idleness and vice soon characterized the mass of them. They
were ignorant, degraded, animal beings, and many of them loved rum; it
was the last link that bound them to human kind. Servants could be hired
for four dollars a month and "keep;" but they were "shiftless" and
unprofitable. The Provost-Marshal of the place was a Captain
Hendrickson. His quarters were in the Court House building, and he kept
a zealous eye upon sutlers and citizens. The former trespassed in the
sales of liquors to soldiers, and the latter were accused of maintaining
a contraband mail, and of conspiring to commit divers offences. There
were a number of churches in the village, all of which served as
hospitals, and in the quiet cemetery west of the town, two hundred slain
soldiers were interred. A stake of white pine was driven at the head of
each grave. Here lay some of the men who had helped to change the
destinies of a continent. No public worship was held in the place. The
Sundays were busy as other days: trains came and went, teams made dust
in the streets, cavalry passed through the village, music arose from all
the outlying camps; parades and inspections were made, and all the
preparations for killing men were relentlessly forwarded. A pleasant
entertainment occurred one evening, when a plot of ground adjoining the
Warrenton Inn, was appropriated for a camp theatre. Candle footlights
were arranged, and the stage was canopied with national flags. The
citizens congregated, and the performers deferred to their prejudices by
singing no Federal songs. Tho negroes climbed the trees to listen, and
their gratified guffaws made the night quiver. The war lost half its
bitterness at such times; but I thought with a shudder of Stuart's
thundering horsemen, charging into the village, and closing the night's
mimicry with a horrible tragedy.

Some of the dwellings about the place were elegant and spacious, but
many of these were closed and the owners removed. Two newspapers had
been published here of old, and while ransacking the office of one of
them, I discovered that the type had been buried under the floor. The
planks were speedily torn away, and the cases dragged to light. I
obtained some curious relics, in the shape of "cuts" of recruiting
officers, runaway negroes, etc., as well as a column of a leader, in
type, describing the first battle of Bull Run. For two weeks I had
little to do, as the campaign had not yet fairly commenced, and I passed
many hours every day reading. A young lawyer, in the Confederate
service, had left an ample library behind him, and the books passed into
the hands of every invader in the town.

Pope finally arrived at Warrenton, and as the troops seemed to be
rapidly concentrating, I judged it expedient to procure a horse at once,
and canvassed the country with that object. By paying a quartermaster
the Government price ($130), I could select a steed from the pound, but
inspection satisfied me that a good saddle nag could not be obtained in
this way. After much parleying with Hebrews and chaffing with country
people, I heard that Mayor Bragg kept some fair animals, and when I
stated my purpose at his house, he commenced the business after a
fashion immemorial at the South, by producing some whiskey.

When Mayor Bragg had asked me pertinently, if I knew much about the
"pints of a hoss," and what "figger in the way of price" would suit me,
he told an erudite negro named "Jeems" to trot out the black colt. The
black colt made his appearance by vaulting over a gate, and playfully
shivering a panel of fence with his "off" hoof. Then he executed a
flourish with his tail, leaped thrice in the air, and bit savagely at
the man "Jeems."

When I asked Mayor Bragg if the black colt was sufficiently gentle to
stand fire, he replied that he was gentle as a lamb and offered to put
me astride him. I had no sooner taken my seat, however, than the black
colt backed, neighed, flourished, and stood erect, and finally ran away.

A second animal was produced, less mettlesome, but also black, finely
strung, daintily hoofed, and as Mayor Bragg said, "just turned four
year." The price of this charger was one hundred and ninety dollars; but
in consideration of my youth and pursuit, Mayor Bragg proposed to take
one hundred and seventy-five; we compromised upon a hundred and fifty
dollars, Major Bragg throwing in a halter, and by good luck I procured a
saddle the same evening, so that I rode triumphantly through the streets
of Warrenton, and fancied that all the citizens were admiring my new
purchase.

I was struck with the fact, that Mayor Bragg, though an ardent patriot,
would accept of neither Confederate nor Virginia money; he required
payment for his animal, in Father Chase's "greenbacks."

Mounted anew, I fell into my former active habits, and made two
journeys, to Sperryville and Little Washington, in one direction, to
Madison in another; each place was probably twenty miles distant; the
latter was merely a cavalry outpost, where Generals Hatch and Bayard
were stationed, and the former villages were the head-quarters,
respectively, of General Banks and General Siegel.

Madison was, at this time, a precarious place for a long tarrying. I
went to sleep in the inn on the night of my arrival, and at that time
the place was thronged with cavalry and artillery-men. Next morning,
when I aroused, not a blue-coat could be seen. They had fallen back in
the darkness, and prudently abstaining from breakfast, I galloped
northward, as if the whole Confederate army was at my heels. These old
turnpike roads were now marked by daily chases and rencontres. A few
Virginians, fleetly mounted, would provoke pursuit from a squad of
Federals, and the latter would be led into ambuscades. A quaint incident
happened in this manner, near Madison.

Captain T. was chasing a party of Confederates one afternoon, when his
company was suddenly fired upon from a wheatfield, parties rising up on
both sides of the road, and discharging carbines through the fence
rails. Three or four men, and as many horses were slain; but the
ambushing body was outnumbered, and several of its members killed. Among
others, a young lieutenant took deliberate aim at Captain T. at the
distance of twelve yards; and, seeing that he had missed, threw up his
carbine to surrender. The Captain had already drawn his revolver, and,
amazed at the murderous purpose, he shot the assassin in the head,
killing him instantly. Nobody blamed Captain T., but he was said to be a
humane person, and the affair preyed so continually upon his mind, that
he committed suicide one night in camp.

At Sperryville I saw and talked with Franz Siegel, the idol of the
German Americans. He had been a lieutenant in his native country, but
subsided, in St. Louis, to the rank of publican, keeping a beer saloon.
When the war commenced, he was appointed to a colonelcy, in deference to
the large German republican population of Missouri. His abilities were
speedily manifested in a series of engagements which redeemed the
Southern border, and he finally fought the terrible battle of Pea Ridge,
Arkansas, which broke the spirit of the Confederates west of the
Mississippi. The man who fought "mit Siegel" in those days, was always
told in St. Louis: "Py tam! you pays not'ing for your lager." Siegel
now commanded one of Pope's corps. He was a diminutive person, but
well-knit, emaciated by his active career, feverish and sanguine of
face, and, as it appeared to me, consuming with energy and ambition. As
a General he was prompt to decide and do, and his manner of dealing with
Confederate property was severer than that of any American. He battered
the splendid mansion hotel of White Sulphur Springs to the ground, for
example, when somebody discharged a rifle from its window. He preferred
to fight by retreating, and if pursued, generally unmasked his guns and
made massacre with the scattered opponents. Another German commander was
Blenker, whose corps of Germans might have belonged to the free bands of
the Black forest. They were the most lawless men in the Federal service,
and what they did not steal they destroyed. Such volunteers were
mercenaries, in every sense of the word. I have been told that they
slaughtered sheep and cattle in pure wantonness, and the rats of
Ehrenfels did not make a cleaner sweep of provisions. The Germans, as a
rule, lacked the dash of the Irish troops and the tact of the Americans.
They thought and fought in masses, had little individuality, and were
thick-skulled; but they were persevering and had their hearts in the
cause.

General Banks was a fine representative of the higher order of Yankee.
Originally a machinist in a small manufacturing town near Boston, he
educated himself, and was elected successively Legislator, Governor,
Congressman, and General of volunteers. His personal graces were
equalled by his energy, and his ability was considerable. He has been
very successful in the field, and has conducted a retreat unparalleled
in the war; these things being always reckoned among American successes.
The country hereabout was mountainous, healthy, and well adapted for
campaigning. Streams and springs were numerous, and there were fine
sites for camps. The deserted toll-houses along the way glowered
mournfully through the rent windows, and I fancied them, sometimes, as I
rode at night, haunted by the shambling tollman.

    Ancient road that wind'st deserted,
      Through the level of the vale,--
    Sweeping toward the crowded market,
      Like a stream without a sail,

    Standing by thee, I look backward,
      And, as in the light of dreams,
    See the years descend and vanish,
      Like thy tented wains and teams.--T. B. READ.

To provide myself with thorough equipment for Pope's campaign, I
returned to Washington, and purchased a patent camp-bed, which strapped
to my saddle, saddle bags of large capacity, India-rubber blankets, and
a full suit of waterproof cloth,--hat, coat, _genoullieres_, and
gauntlets. I had my horse newly shod, I drew upon my establishment for
an ample sum of money, and, to properly inaugurate the campaign, I gave
an entertainment in the parlor of the inn.

Pipes, cold ham, a keg of beer, and a demijohn of whiskey comprised the
attractions of the night. The guests were three Captains, two Adjutants,
two Majors, a Colonel, four Correspondents, several Lieutenants, and a
signal officer. There was some jesting, and much laughing, considerable
story-telling, and (toward the small hours) a great deal of singing.
Much heroism was evolved; all the guests were devoted to death and their
country; and there was one person who took off his coat to fight an
imaginary something, but changed his mind, and dropped asleep directly.
At length, a gallant Captain, to demonstrate his warlike propensities,
fired a pistol through the front window; and somebody blowing out the
candles, the whole party retired to rest upon the floor. In this
delightful way my third campaign commenced, and next evening I set off
for the advance.



CHAPTER XXII.

ARMY MORALS.


Some of General McDowell's aides had invited me to pass a night with
them at Warrenton Springs. Fully equipped, I joined Captain Ball, of
Cincinnati, and we rode southward, over a hard, picturesque turnpike,
under a clear moonlight. The distance was seven miles, and a part of
this route was enlivened by the fires, halloos, and the music of camps.
Volunteers are fond of serenading their officers; and this particular
evening was the occasion of much merry-making, since a majority of the
brass bands were to be mustered out of the service to-morrow. We could
hear the roll of drums from imperceptible localities, and the sharp
winding of bugles broke upon the silence like the trumpet of the
Archangel. Stalwart shapes of horsemen galloped past us, and their hoofs
made monotone behind, till the cadence died so gradually away that we
did not know when the sound ceased and when the silence began. The
streams had a talk to themselves, as they strolled away into the meadow,
and an owl or two challenged us, calling up a corporal hawk. This latter
fellow bantered and blustered, and finally we fell into an ambush of
wild pigs, which charged across the road and plunged into the woods.
There were despatch stations at intervals, where horses stood saddled,
and the couriers waited for hoof-beats, to be ready to ride fleetly
toward head-quarters. Anon, we saw wizard lights, as of Arctic skies,
where remote camps built conflagration; and trudging wearily down the
stony road, poor ragged, flying negroes, with their families and their
worldly all, came and went--God help them!--and touched their hats so
obsequiously that my heart was wrung, and I felt a nervous impulse to
put them upon my steed and take their burdens upon my back. Little sable
folk, asleep and ahungered, drawn to that barefoot woman's breast; and
the tired boy, weeping as he held to his father's hand; and the father
with the sweat of fatigue and doubt upon his forehead,--children of
Ishmael all; war raging in the land, but God overhead! These are the
"wandering Jews" of our day, hated North and South, because they are
poor and blind, and do no harm; but out of their wrongs has arisen the
abasement of their wrongers. Is there nothing over all?

We entered the beautiful lawn of the Springs' hotel, at ten o'clock, and
a negro came up to take our horses. By the lamplight and moonlight I saw
McDowell's tent, a sentry pacing up and down before it, and the thick,
powerful figure of the General seated at a writing-table within. Irvin
McDowell was one of the oldest officers in the service, and when the war
commenced he became a leading commander in the Eastern army. At Bull Run
he had a responsible place, and the ill success of that battle brought
him into unpleasant notoriety. Though he retained a leading position he
was still mistrusted and disliked. None bore ingratitude so stolidly. He
may have flinched, but he never replied; and though ambitious he tried
to content himself with subordinate commands. Some called him a traitor,
others an incompetent, others a plotter. If McClellan failed, McDowell
was cursed. If Pope blundered, McDowell received half the contumely. But
he loosened no cord of discipline to make good will. Implacable,
dutiful, soldierly, rigorous in discipline, sententious, brave,--the
most unpopular man in America went on his way, and I think that he is
recovering public favor again. The General of a republic has a thorny
path to tread, and almost every public man has been at one time
disgraced during the civil war. McDowell, I think, has been treated
worse than any other.

Our nags being removed, we repaired to one of the rustic cottages which
bounded the lawn, and I was introduced to several members of the staff;
among others, to a Count Saint Alb, an Austrian. He had been an officer
in his native country; but came to America, anxious for active service,
and was appointed to Gen. McDowell's Staff with the rank of Captain. I
understood that he was writing a book upon America. There are many such
adventurers in the Federal service, but the present one was clever and
amusing, and he spoke English fluently.

Our tea was plain but abundant, consisting of broiled beef, fresh bread,
butter, and cheese; and the inveterate whiskey was produced afterward,
when we assembled on the piazza, so that the hours passed by pleasantly,
if not profitably, and we retired at two o'clock.

In the morning I bathed in the clear, cold sulphur spring, where
thousands of invalid people had come for healing waters. A canopy
covered the spring, and a soldier stood on guard at the top of the
descending steps, to preserve the property in its original cleanliness.
This was one of the most famous medical springs on the American
continent; the water was so densely impregnated that its peculiarly
offensive smell could be detected at the distance of a mile. The place
was going to ruin now. All the bathing-rooms were falling apart, the
pipes had been carried off to be moulded into bullets, and the great
hotel was desolate. I walked into the ball-room; but the large gilded
mirrors had been splintered, and lewd writings defaced the wall. Some
idlers were asleep upon the piazzas, and the furniture was removed or
broken. Some rustic cottages dotted the lawn, but these were now
inhabited by officers and their servants. A few days were to finish the
work of rapine, and a heap of ashes was to mark the scene of
tournament, coquetry, and betrothal. I witnessed a review of troops in a
field contiguous, at nine o'clock. The heat was so intense that many men
fell out of line and were carried off to their camps. McDowell passed
exactingly from man to man, examined muskets, clothing, and knapsacks,
and the inspection was proceeding, when I bade my friends good by and
set out for Culpepper.

I crossed the North Rappahannock, or Hedgemain river, upon a precarious
bridge of planks. A new bridge for artillery was being constructed close
by; for the river beneath had a swift, deep current, and could with
difficulty be forded. Patches of wagons, squads of horse, and now and
then a regiment of infantry, varied the monotony of the journey. The
country was high, woody, and sparsely settled. At noon I overtook
Tower's brigade, and observing the 94th N. Y. Regiment resting in the
woods, I dismounted and made the acquaintance of its Colonel. He was at
this juncture greatly enraged with some of his soldiers who had been
plucking green apples.

"Boy," he said to one, "put down that fruit! Drop it, or I'll blow your
head off! Directly you'll double up, pucker, and say that you have the
"di-o-ree," and require an ambulance. Orderly!"

A sergeant came up and touched his cap.

"Take your musket," said the Colonel; "go out to that orchard, and order
those men away. If they hesitate or object, shoot them!"

A few such colonels would marvellously improve the volunteer
organization.

The Hazel or North Anne river, a branch of the Hedgemain, interposed a
few miles further on, and passing through a covered bridge, I turned
down the north bank, crossed some spongy fields, and at length came to a
dry place in the edge of a woods, where I tied my nag, spread out my
bed, and prepared to dine. A box of sardines, a lemon, and some fresh
sandwiches constituted the repast, and being dusty and parched I
stripped afterward and swam across the river. Seeing that my horse
plunged and neighed, with swollen eyeballs, and every evidence of
terror, I hastened toward him and discovered a black snake, six feet or
more in length, which seemed about to coil itself around the nag's leg.
The size and contiguity of the reptile at first appalled me, and my mind
was not more composed when the serpent, at my approach, manifested an
inclination to assume the offensive. Its folds were thicker than my arm,
and it commenced to revolve rapidly, at length running up a sapling,
suspending itself by the tail, and hissing vehemently. It belonged to
the family of "racers," and was hideous and powerful beyond any specimen
that I had seen. I blew it into halves at the second discharge of my
pistol, and at once resumed my saddle, indisposed to remain longer
amidst such acquaintances.

At four o'clock I saw Culpepper, a trim little village, lying in the
hollow of several hills. A couple of steeples added to its
picturesqueness, and a swift creek, crossed by a small bridge,
interposed between myself and the main part of the place. It looked like
Sunday when I rode through the principal street. The shutters were
closed in the shop windows, the dwellings seemed tenantless, no citizens
were abroad, no sutlers had invaded the country; only a few cavalry-men
clustered about an ancient pump to water their nags, and some military
idlers were sitting upon the long porch of a public house, called the
Virginia Hotel. I tied my horse to a tree, the bole of which had been
gnawed bare, and found the landlord to be an old gentleman named Paine,
who appeared to be somewhat out of his head. Two days before the
Confederate cavalry had vacated the village, and the army had been
encamped about the town for many months. A sabre conflict had taken
place in the streets; and these events, happening in rapid succession,
combined with the insolence of some Federal outriders, had so agitated
the host that his memory was quite gone, and he could not perform even
the slightest function. There is a panacea for all these things, which
the faculty and philanthropy alike forbid, but which my experience in
war-matters has invariably found unfailing. I produced my flask, and
gently insinuated it to the old gentleman's lips. He possessed instinct
sufficient to uncork and apply it, and the results were directly
apparent, in a partial recovery of memory. He said that meals were one
dollar each, board four dollars a day, or by the week twenty-five
dollars. These terms are unknown in America; but when Mr. Paine added
that horse provender was one dollar per "feed," I looked aghast, and
required some stimulant myself to appreciate the enormity of the
reckoning. I discovered, however, that the people of the village were
almost starving; that beef had been fifty cents a pound during the whole
winter, flour twenty-five dollars per barrel, coffee one dollar and a
quarter a pound, and corn one dollar per bushel. The army had swept the
country like famine, and the citizens had pinched, pining faces, with
little to eat to-day and nothing for to-morrow.

I acquiesced in the charge, as no choice remained, and asked to be shown
to my room. A burly negro, apparently suffering _delirium tremens_,
seized my baggage with quaking hands, and lifting a pair of red eyes
upon me, shuffled through a bare hall, up a stairway, and into a
bedroom. I never saw a more hideous being in my life, and when he had
flung my luggage upon the floor, he sank into a chair, and glared
wofully into my face, breathing like one about to expire.

"Young Moss," said he, "cant you give a po' soul a drop o' sperits? Do
for de good Lord's sake! Do, Moss, fo' de po' nigga's life. Do! do!
Moss."

I poured him out a little in a tumbler, less from charity than from
fear; for he knew that I was provided with a bottle, and I seemed to
read murder in his eyes.

He drank like one athirst and scant of breath, making a dry, chuckling
noise with his throat. When he had finished, he leaned his powerful neck
and head upon the bed and groaned terribly.

"Moss," he said again, "ain't you got no tobacco, Moss? I haint had none
since Christmas. I's mos dead I'm po' sinful nigga'. Do give some
tobacco to po' creature, do!"

I told him that I did not chew the weed, but gave him a crushed cigar,
and he thrust it into his mouth, as if it was food and he was perishing.
This wretched animal performed the duties of a chambermaid upon the
premises; he made the beds, attended to the toilets, answered the bells,
etc. He finally became so offensive that I forbade him my room, and he
revenged himself by paltry thefts. There were two other servants, a
woman with a baby, and a shrewd, dishonest mulatto man, who was the
steward and carver. This fellow secreted provender in the kitchen and
sold it stealthily to hungry soldiers. A public house so mismanaged I
had nowhere met. Sometimes we could get no breakfast till noon, and
finally the price of dinner went up to one dollar and a half, with
nothing to eat. The table was protected from flies by a series of paper
fans, pendant from the ceiling and connected by a cord, which an ebony
boy pulled, at the foot of the room to keep them in motion. This boy
being worked day and night, often fell asleep upon his stool, when the
yellow man boxed his ears, or knocked him down; and then he would fan
with such vigor that a perfect gale swept down the table. The landlord
was a kindly old man, but he could not "keep a hotel," and the
strong-minded part of the house consisted of his wife and four
daughters. Gen. Ben Butler would have sent these young women to Ship
Island, five times of a day. They were very bad-mannered and always sat
apart at one end of the cloth, talking against the "Yankees." As there
was no direct provocation to do so, this boldness was gratuitous, and
detracted rather than added to my estimate of the heroism of Southern
women. I have known them to burst into the office, crowded with
blue-coats, and scream--

"Pop, Yankees thieving in garden!" or, "Pop, drive these Yankees out of
parlor!"

Every afternoon when the pavement was unusually patronized by young
officers, these women would sally out, promenade in crinoline, silk
stockings, and saucy hoods, and the crowd would fall respectfully back
to let them pass. A flag hung from a hospital over the sidewalk, and
with a pert flourish, the landlord's daughters filed off the pavement,
around the ensign, and back again. This was amusing, I thought, but not
very clever, and rather immodest. Had they been handsome, some romance
might have attached to the act; but being homely and not marriageable, I
smiled at the occurrence and entered it in my diary as "patriotism run
mad." The stable arrangements were, if possible, worse. One had to be
certain, from actual presence, that his horse was fed at all, and during
the first three days of my tenure, the black hostler lost me a breast
strap, a halter, a crupper strap, and finally emptied my saddle-bags.

Now and then a woman made her appearance at a front window, stealthily
peeping into the street, or a neighboring farmer ventured into town upon
a lean consumptive mule. The very dogs were skinny and savage for want
of sustenance, and when a long, cadaverous hog emerged from nowhere one
day, and tottered up the main street, he was chased, killed, and
quartered so rapidly, that the famous steam process seemed to have been
applied to him, of being dropped into a hopper, and tumbling out, a
medley of hams, ribs, lard, and penknives. The stock of provisions at
the hotel finally gave out, and I was compelled to purchase morsels of
meat from the steward. Dreadful visions of famishing ensued, but
ultimately the railway was opened to town, and a sutler started a shop
in the village. I lived upon sardines and crackers for two days, and a
Major Fifield, Superintendent of Military Railroads, gave me savory
breakfasts of ham afterward. Troops were now concentrating in the
neighborhood of Culpepper, and a bevy of camps encircled the little
village. Crawford's Brigade, of Banks's Corps, garrisoned the place, and
a Provost Marshal occupied the quaint Court House. Reconnoissances were
made southward daily, and I joined one of these, which left the village
on the second of August, at three o'clock, for Orange Court House,
seventeen miles on the way to Richmond. Detachments of a Vermont and a
New York cavalry regiment composed the reconnoitring party, and the
whole was commanded by Gen. Crawford, a clever and unostentatious
soldier. We bivouacked that night near Raccoon Ford, on the river
Rapidan. No fires were built; for we knew that the enemy was all around
us, and we slept coldly and imperfectly till the gray of Sunday morning.
At daylight we galloped into the main street of Orange Court House,
having first sent a squadron around the village, to ride in at the other
end. At the very moment of our entry, a company or more of Confederate
horse was also trotting into town. Both parties sounded the charge
simultaneously, and the carbines exploded in the very heart of the
village. For a minute or more a sabre fight ensued, alternated by the
firing of revolvers; but the defenders were overmatched, and several of
them having been slain, they turned to escape. At that moment, however,
our other squadron charged upon them, effectually blocking up the
street, and the whole party surrendered. A major, who exhibited some
obstinacy, was felled from the saddle by a terrible cut, which clove his
skull, and a very dexterous young fellow, who attempted to escape by a
side street, dodged a bevy of pursuers and saved his head by the loss of
both his ears. The disfigured corpses of those freshly slain were laid
along the sidewalk in a row; and after some invasion of henroosts and
private pantries, we remounted, and with fifty or more prisoners
crossed the Rapidan, and were welcomed into Culpepper with cheers. The
prisoners were lodged in the loft of the Court House, and their officers
were paroled, and boarded among the neighbors. They complied with the
terms of their parole very honorably, and bore testimony to the courtesy
of their captors. I talked with them often upon the tavern porch, but an
undue intimacy with any of them might have brought me into disrepute.
Although the larders of the village were supposed to be empty, savory
meals were nevertheless sent daily to these cavalry-men, and it was
evident that the people on all hands sympathized with their soldiery.

The stringent orders of Pope, relative to removing the disaffected
beyond his lines, were never enforced. I doubt if the veritable
commander himself meant to do more than intimidate evil doers; but I saw
frequent evidences of scrupulous humanity on the part of his general
officers.

One day, when I was negotiating with the Provost for the purchase of
some port wine, stored upon the premises of a village druggist, a
sergeant elbowed his way into the presence of the Marshal, and pushed
forward two very dirty lads, who gave their ages respectively, as ten
and thirteen years. They were of Hibernian parentage, and belonged to
the class of newsboys trading with the different brigades. The younger
lad was wiping his nose and eyes with a relic of a coat sleeve, and the
elder was studying the points of the case, with a view to an elaborate
defence. The sergeant produced a thick roll of bills and laid them upon
the desk.

"Gineral Crawford," said he, "orders these boys to be locked up in the
jail. They have been passing this stuff upon the country folks, and
belong to a gang of young varmints who follers the 'lay.' The Gineral is
going to have 'em brought up at the proper time and punished."

The bills were fair imitations of Confederate currency, and were openly
sold in the streets of Northern cities at the rate of thousands of
dollars for a penny. These lads probably purchased horses, swine, or
fowls with them, or perhaps paid some impoverished widow for board in
the worthless counterfeit.

The younger lad sobbed and howled when the order for his incarceration
had been announced, but the elder made a stout remonstrance.

He didn't know the Gineral would arrest him. Everybody else passed the
bills. He thought they wos good bills; some man gave 'em to him. They
wan't passed, nohow, upon nobody but _Rebels_! He could prove that! He
"know'd" a quartermaster that passed 'em. Wouldn't they let him and Sam
off this wunst?

They were both sent to Coventry, despite their tears, and down to the
last day of our tenure in Culpepper, I saw these wicked urchins peeping
through the grates of the old brick jail, where they lay in the steam
and vapor, among negroes, drunkards, and thieves,--an evidence of
justice, which it is a pleasure to record, in this free narrative.

I joined a mess in the Ninth New York regiment finally, and contrived to
exist till the fifth of the month, when Pope moved his head-quarters to
a hill back of Culpepper, and thereafter I lived daintily for a little
while. On the 8th of August, however, an event occurred, which disturbed
the wisest calculations of the correspondent and the Generals, THE
BATTLE OF CEDAR MOUNTAIN.



CHAPTER XXIII.

GOING INTO ACTION.


While General Pope's army was concentrating between the Rappahannock and
Rapidan rivers, the army of General Stonewall Jackson was lying upon the
south bank of the Rapidan, and that renowned commander's head-quarters
were at Gordonsville, about thirty miles from Culpepper. It was
generally presumed that Jackson had fortified Gordonsville, intending to
lie in wait there, or possibly to oppose the crossing of Pope upon the
banks of the river. It was not believed that Jackson's force was very
great, because the main body of the Confederates were held below
Richmond, where McClellan's army still remained. The Southern capital
seemed to be menaced both from the North and the South; but in reality,
the Grand Army was re-embarking at Harrison's Bar, and sailing up the
Chesapeake in detachments, to effect a junction with Pope on the plains
of Piedmont. So important a movement could not be concealed from the
Confederates, and they had resolved to annihilate Pope before
McClellan's reinforcements could arrive. It was the work of two weeks to
transport eighty or a hundred thousand men three hundred miles, and
finding that Burnside's corps had already landed upon the Potomac,
Stonewall Jackson determined to cross the Rapidan and cripple the
fragment of Pope's forces stationed at Culpepper.

Stonewall Jackson is one of the many men whose extraordinary military
genius has been developed by the civil war. But unlike the mass who have
become famous in a day, and lost their laurels in a week, Jackson's
glory has steadily increased. He was first brought into notice at
Winchester, where he fought a fierce battle with Banks, and derived the
_sobriquet_ which he has retained to the present time. Soon afterward,
he chased Banks's army down the Shenandoah Valley, and across the
Potomac. Afterward, he bore a conspicuous part in the engagement below
Richmond, and was now to become prominent in the most daring episodes of
the whole war. His excellence was _activity_. He scrupled at no fatigue,
marched his troops over steep and circuitous roads, was everywhere when
unexpected, and nowhere when sought, and his boldness was equal to his
energy. He did not fear to attack overpowering numbers, if the situation
demanded it. All that General Lee might plan, General Jackson would dare
to execute; and he has been, above all others, the Soult of the Southern
war, while Stuart was its Murat, and Lee its Napoleon.

We first had intimation of the advance of Jackson on the afternoon of
the 7th of August. Two regiments of cavalry, picketed upon the Rapidan,
rode pell-mell into Culpepper, reporting a large Southern force at the
fords, and rapidly advancing. Pope at once ordered the whole of one of
these regiments under arrest, and it was the opinion of the army that
the approach was a feint, or, at most, a reconnoissance in force.
Subsequent information satisfied the incredulous, however, that a
considerable body of troops were marching northward, and their outriding
scouts had been seen at Cedar Mountain, only six miles from Culpepper.
The latter is one of the many woody knobs or heights that environ the
village, but it is nearer than any other, and should have been occupied
by Pope, simultaneously with his arrival. It is scarcely a mountain in
elevation, but so high that the clouds often envelope its crest, and it
commands a view of all the surrounding country. There are cleared
patches up its sides, and the highest of these constitutes the farm of a
clergyman, after whom the eminence is sometimes called "Slaughter's
Mountain." At its base lie a few pleasant farms; and a shallow rivulet
or creek, called Cedar Run, crosses the road between the mountain and
Culpepper. Upon the mountain side Jackson had placed his batteries, and
his infantry lay in dense thickets and belts of woods before the hill
and on each side of it. The position was a powerful, though not an
impregnable one; for batteries might readily be pushed up the slope, and
our infantry had often ascended steeper eminences. But an opposing army
scattered about the meadow lands below, would find its several
components exposed to shot and shell, thrown from points three or four
hundred feet above them.

When it had been discovered that the enemy had anticipated us in seizing
this strong position, word was at once despatched to Banks and Siegel to
bring up their columns without delay. The brigade of General Crawford
was marched through Culpepper at noon on Friday; and that afternoon,
foot-sore, but enthusiastic, regiments began to arrive in rapid
succession.

I had been passing the morning of Friday with Colonel Bowman, a modest
and capable gentleman, when the serenity of our converse was disturbed
by a sergeant, who rode into camp with orders for a prompt advance in
light marching order. In a twinkling all the camps in the vicinity were
deserted, and the roads were so blocked with soldiers on my return, that
I was obliged to ride through fields.

I trotted rapidly into the village, and witnessed a scene exciting and
martial beyond anything which I had remarked with the Army of Virginia.
Regiments were pouring by all the roads and lanes into the main street,
and the spectacle of thousands of bayonets, extending as far as the eye
could reach, was enhanced by the music of a score of bands, throbbing
all at the same moment with wild music. The orders of officers rang out
fitfully in the din, and when the steel shifted from shoulder to
shoulder, it was like looking down a long sparkling wave. Above the
confusion of the time, the various nativities of volunteers roared their
national ballads. "St. Patrick's Day," intermingled with the weird
refrain of "Bonnie Dundee," and snatches of German sword-songs were
drowned by the thrilling chorus of the "Star-Spangled Banner." Then some
stentor would strike a stave of--

    "John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave,"

and the wild, mournful music would be caught up by all,--Germans, Celts,
Saxons, till the little town rang with the thunder of voices, all
uttering the name of the grim old Moloch, whom--more than any one save
Hunter--Virginia hates. Suddenly, as if by rehearsal, all hats would go
up, all bayonets toss and glisten, and huzzas would deafen the winds,
while the horses reared upon their haunches and the sabres rose and
fell. Then, column by column, the masses passed eastward, while the
prisoners in the Court-House cupola looked down, and the citizens peeped
in fear through crevices of windows.

Being unattached to the staff of any General at the time, and therefore
at liberty as a mere spectator, I rode rapidly after the troops, passed
the foremost regiments, and unwittingly kept to the left, which I did
not discover in the excitement of the ride, till my horse was foaming
and my face furrowed with heat drops. I saw that the way had been little
travelled, and inquiry at a log farm-house, some distance further,
satisfied me that I had mistaken the way. Two men in coarse brown suits,
were chopping wood here, and they informed me, with an oath, that the
last soldiers seen in the neighborhood, had been Confederate pickets. A
by-road enabled me to recover the proper route, and from the top of a
hill overlooking Culpepper, I had a view of the hamlet, nestling in its
hollow; the roads entering it, black with troops, and all the slopes
covered with wagon-trains, whose white canopies seemed infinite. The
skies were gorgeously dyed over the snug cottages and modest spires;
some far woods were folded in a pleasant haze; and the blue mountains
lifted their huge backs, voluming in the distance, like some boundary
for humanity, with a happier land beyond. Here I might have stood, a few
months before, and heard the church bells; and the trees around me might
have been musical with birds. But now the parsons and the choristers
were gone; the scaffold was erected, the axe bare, and with a good by
glance at the world and man, some hundreds of wretches were to drop into
eternity. We have all read of the guillotine in other lands; it was now
before me in my own.

As I passed into the highway again, and riding through narrow passages,
grazing officers' knees, turning vicious battery horses, winding in and
out of woods, making detours through pasture fields, leaping ditches,
and so making perilous progress, I passed many friends who hailed me
cheerfully,--here a brigadier-general who waved his hand, or a colonel
who saluted, or a staff officer who rode out and exchanged inquiries or
greetings, or a sergeant who winked and laughed. These were some of the
men whose bodies I was to stir to-morrow with my foot, when the eyes
that shone upon me now would be swollen and ghastly.

Some of the privates seeing me in plain clothes, as I had joined the
army merely as a visitor and with no idea of seeing immediate service
there, mistook me for a newspaper correspondent, which in one sense I
was; and I was greeted with such cries as--

"Our Special Artist!"

"Our Own Correspondent!"

"Give our Captain a setting up, you sir!"

"Puff our Colonel!"

"Give me a good obituary!"

"Where's your pass, bub?"

"Halloo! Jenkins. Three cheers for Jenkins!"

I shall not soon forget one fellow, who planted himself in my path (his
regiment had halted), and leaning upon his musket looked steadily into
my eyes.

"Ef I had a warrant for the devil," he said, "I'd arrest that feller."

Many of the soldiers were pensive and thoughtful; but the mass were
marching to their funerals with boyish outcries, apparently anxious to
forget the responsibilities of the time.

"Let's sing, boys." "Oh! Get out, or I'll belt you over the snout."
"Halloo! Pardner, is there water over there?" "Three groans for old
Jeff!" "Hip-hip--hoo-roar! Hi! Hi!"

A continual explosion of small arms, in the shape of epithets, jests,
imitations of the cries of sheep, cows, mules, and roosters, and
snatches of songs, enlivened the march. If something interposed, or a
halt was ordered, the men would throw themselves in the dust, wipe their
foreheads, drink from their canteens, gossip, grin, and shout
confusedly, and some sought opportunities to straggle off, so that the
regiments were materially decimated before they reached the field. The
leading officers maintained a dignity and a reserve, and reined their
horses together in places, to confer. At one time, a private soldier
came out to me, presenting a scrap of paper, and asked me to scrawl him
a line, which he would dictate. It was as follows:--

"_My dear Mary, we are going into action soon, and I send you my love.
Kiss baby, and if I am not killed I will write to you after the fight._"
The man asked me to mail the scrap at the first opportunity; but the
same post which carried his simple billet, carried also his name among
the rolls of the dead.

At five o'clock I overtook Crawford's brigade, drawn up in front of a
fine girdle of timber, in a grass field, and on the edge of Cedar Creek.
Their ambulances had been unhitched, and ranged in a row against the
woods and the soldiers were soon formed in line of battle, extending
across the road, with their faces toward the mountain. In this order
they moved through the creek, and disappeared behind the ridge of a
cornfield. The hill towered in front, but with the naked eye I could
distinguish only a speck of floating something above the roof of
Slaughter's white house. This was said to be a flag, though I did not
believe it; and as there were no evidences of any enemy, which I could
determine, I turned my attention to the immediate necessities of myself
and my horse. A granary lay at a little distance, and as I was hastening
thither, a trooper came along with a blanket full of corn. Fortuitously,
he dropped about a dozen ears, which I secured, and hitched my animal to
a tree, where he munched until I had fallen asleep. The latter event
happened in this wise.

I had observed a slight person in the uniform of a surgeon. He was
dividing a large lump of pork at the time, and three great crackers lay
before him. I approached and introduced myself, and in a few minutes I
was a partial proprieter of the meat, and he a recipient of some drink.
The same person directed me to occupy a shelf of the ambulance, and when
we lay down together he narrated some of his experiences in Martinsburg,
when the Confederates occupied the place after Banks's retreat. He had
charge of a hospital at that time, and witnessed the entrance of the
Confederate army. The wildness of the people was unbounded, he said, and
all who had given so much as a drop of cold water to the invaders were
pointed out and execrated. The properties of a few, said to be
Unionists, were endangered; and ruffianly soldiers climbed to the
windows of the hospital, hooting and taunting the sick. Not to be
outdone in bitterness, the tenants flung up their crutches and cheered
for the "Union,"--that darling idea, which has marshalled a million of
men and filled hecatombs with its champions. In a few days the Federals
took possession of the town anew, and the Southern element was in turn
oppressed. This is Civil War,--more cruel than the excesses of
hereditary enemies. A year before these people of the Shenandoah were
fellow-countrymen of the soldiery they contemned.



CHAPTER XXIV

CEDAR MOUNTAIN.


There being nothing to eat in the vicinity of the ambulances, I mounted
anew at five o'clock and rode back toward Culpepper. No portion of the
troops of Crawford were visible now, and only some gray smoke moved up
the side of the mountain. A few stragglers were bathing their faces in
Cedar Creek, and some miles in the rear lay several of McDowell's
brigades under arms. Their muskets were stacked along the sides of the
road, the men lay sleepily upon the ground,--company by company, each in
its proper place,--the field-officers gossiping together, and the colors
upright and unfurled. I was stopped, all the way along the lines, and
interrogated as to what was happening in front.

"Any Reb-bils out yonder?" asked a grim, snappish Colonel.

"Guess they don't mean to fight before breakfast!" blurted a Captain.

"Wish they'd cut away, anyway, if they goin' to!" muttered a chorus of
privates.

At the village there was nothing to be purchased, although some sutlers'
stores lay at the depot, guarded by Provost officers. I persuaded a
negro to give me a mess of almost raw pork, and a woman, with a child at
the breast, cooked me some biscuit. There were many civilians and idle
officers in the town, and the streets were lined with cavalry. Mr.
Paine, the landlord, was losing the remnant of his wits, and the young
ladies were playing the "Bonnie Blue Flag," and laughing satirically at
some young officers who listened. The correspondents began to show
themselves in force, and a young fellow whom I may call Chitty,
representing a provincial journal, greatly amused me, with the
expression of fears that there might be no engagement after all. Chitty
was an attorney, who had forsaken a very moderate practice, for a press
connection, and he informed me, in confidence, that he was gathering
materials for a history of the war. By reason of his attention to this
weighty project, he failed to do any reporting, and as his mind was not
very well balanced, he was commonly taken to be a simpleton. As there
was nobody else to talk to, I amused myself with Chitty during the
forenoon, and he narrated to me some doubtful intrigues which had varied
his career in Piedmont. But Chitty had mingled in no battles, and now
that a contest was about to take place, his heart warmed in
anticipation. He asked me if the hottest fighting would not probably
occur on the right, and intimated, in that event, his desire to carry
despatches through the thickest of the fray. Death was welcome to Chitty
if he could so distinguish himself. Between Chitty and a nap in a wagon,
I managed to loiter out the morning, and at three o'clock, a cannon
peal, so close that it shook the houses, brought my horse upon his
haunches. For awhile I did not leave the village. Cannon upon cannon
exploded; the young ladies ceased their mirth; the landlord staggered
with white lips into the air, and after a couple of hours, I heard the
signal that I knew so well--a volley of musketry. Full of all the old
impulses, I climbed into the saddle, and spurred my horse towards the
battle-field.

The ride over six miles of clay road was a capital school for my pony.
Every hoof-fall brought him closer to the cannon, and the sound had
become familiar when he reached the scene. At four o'clock, the musketry
was close and effective beyond anything I had known, and now and then I
could see, from secure places, the spurts of white cannon-smoke far up
the side of the mountain. The action was commenced by emulous
skirmishers, who crawled from the woodsides, and annoyed each other from
coverts of ridge, stump, and stone heap. A large number of Southern
riflemen then threw themselves into a corner of wood, considerably
advanced from their main position. Their fire was so destructive that
General Banks felt it necessary to order a charge. Two brigades, when
the signal was given, marched in line of battle, out of a wood, and
charged across a field of broken ground toward the projecting corner. As
soon as they appeared, sharpshooters darted up from a stretch of scrub
cedars on their right, and a battery mowed them down by an oblique fire
from the left. The guns up the mountain side threw shells with beautiful
exactness, and the concealed rifle-men in front poured in deadly showers
of bullet and ball. As the men fell by dozens out of line, the survivors
closed up the gaps, and pressed forward gallantly. The ground was
uneven, however, and solid order could not be observed throughout. At
length, when they had gained a brookside at the very edge of the wood,
the column staggered, quailed, fell into disorder, and then fell back.
Some of the more desperate dashed singly into the thicket, bayoneting
their enemies, and falling in turn in the fierce grapple. Others of the
Confederates ran from the wood, and engaged hand to hand with
antagonists, and, in places, a score of combatants met sturdily upon the
plain, lunging with knife and sabre bayonet, striking with clubbed
musket, or discharging revolvers. But at last the broken lines regained
the shelter of the timber, and there was a momentary lull in the
thunder.

For a time, each party kept in the edges of the timber, firing at will,
but the Confederates were moving forward in masses by detours, until
some thousands of them stood in the places of the few who were at first
isolated. Distinct charges were now made, and a large body of Federals
attempted to capture the battery before Slaughter's house, while
separate brigades charged by front and flank upon the impenetrable
timber. The horrible results of the previous effort were repeated; the
Confederates preserved their position, and, at nightfall, the Federals
fell back a mile or more. From fifteen hundred to two thousand of the
latter were slain or wounded, and, though the heat of the battle had
lasted not more than two hours, nearly four thousand men upon both sides
were maimed or dead. The valor of the combatants in either cause was
unquestionable. But no troops in the world could have driven the
Confederates out of the impregnable mazes of the wood. It was an error
to expose columns of troops upon an open plain, in the face of
imperceptible sharpshooters. The batteries should have shelled the
thickets, and the infantry should have retained their concealment. The
most disciplined troops of Europe would not have availed in a country of
bog, barren, ditch, creek, forest, and mountain. Compared to the bare
plain of Waterloo, Cedar Mountain was like the antediluvian world, when
the surface was broken by volcanic fire into chasms and abysses. In this
battle, the Confederate batteries, along the mountain side, were
arranged in the form of a crescent, and, when the solid masses charged
up the hill, they were butchered by enfilading fires. On the Confederate
part, a thorough knowledge of the country was manifest, and the best
possible disposition of forces and means; on the side of the Federals,
there was zeal without discretion, and gallantry without generalship.

During the action, "Stonewall" Jackson occupied a commanding position on
the side of the mountain, where, glass in hand, he observed every change
of position, and directed all the operations. General Banks was
indefatigable and courageous; but he was left to fight the whole battle,
and not a regiment of the large reserve in his rear, came forward to
succor or relieve him. As usual, McDowell was cursed by all sides, and
some of Banks's soldiers threatened to shoot him. But the unpopular
Commander had no defence to make, and said nothing to clear up the
doubts relative to him. He exposed himself repeatedly, and so did Pope.
The latter rode to the front at nightfall,--for what purpose no one
could say, as he had been in Culpepper during the whole afternoon,--and
he barely escaped being captured. The loss of Federal officers was very
heavy. Fourteen commissioned officers were killed and captured out of
one regiment. Sixteen commissioned officers only remained in four
regiments. One General was taken prisoner and several were wounded. A
large number of field-officers were slain.

During the progress of the fight I galloped from point to point along
the rear, but could nowhere obtain a panoramic view. The common
sentiment of civilians, that it is always possible to see a battle, is
true of isolated contests only. Even the troops engaged, know little of
the occurrences around them, and I have been assured by many soldiers
that they have fought a whole day without so much as a glimpse of an
enemy. The smoke and dust conceal objects, and where the greatest
execution is done, the antagonists have frequently fired at a line of
smoke, behind which columns may, or may not have been posted.

It was not till nightfall, when the Federals gave up the contested
ground, and fell back to some cleared fields, that I heard anything of
the manner of action and the resulting losses. As soon as the firing
ceased, the ambulance corps went ahead and began to gather up the
wounded. As many of these as could walk passed to the rear on foot, and
the spectacle at eight o'clock was of a terrible character. The roads
were packed with ambulances, creaking under fearful weights, and rod by
rod, the teams were stopped, to accommodate other sufferers who had
fallen or fainted on the walk. A crippled man would cling to the tail of
a wagon, while the tongue would be burdened with two, sustaining
themselves by the backs of the horses. Water was sought for everywhere,
and all were hungry. I met at sundry times, friends who had passed me,
hopeful and humorous the day before, now crawling wearily with a
shattered leg or dumb with a stiff and dripping jaw. To realize the
horror of the night, imagine a common clay road, in a quiet, rolling
country, packed with bleeding people,--the fences down, horsemen riding
through the fields, wagons blocking the way, reinforcements in dark
columns hurrying up, the shouting of the well to the ill, and the feeble
replies,--in a word, recall that elder time when the "earth was filled
with violence," and add to the idea that the time was in the night.

I assumed my old rôle of writing the names of the wounded, but when, at
nine o'clock, the 10th Maine regiment--a fragment of the proud column
which passed me in the morning--returned, I hailed Colonel Beale, and
reined with him into a clover-field, the files following wearily.
Tramping through the tall garbage, with few words, and those spoken in
low tones, we stopped at length in a sort of basin, with the ground
rising on every side of us. The men were placed in line, and the Company
Sergeants called the rolls. Some of the replies were thrilling, but all
were prosaic:--

"Smith!"

"Smith fell at the first fire, Sergeant. Bill, here, saw him go down."

"Sturgis!"

"Sam's in the ambulance, wi' his thigh broke. I don't believe he'll
live, Sergeant!"

"Thompson!"

"Dead."

"Vinton!"

"Yar! (feebly said) four fingers shot off!"

In this way, the long lists were read over, while the survivors chatted,
laughed, and disputed, talking of the incidents of the day. Most of the
men lay down in the clover, and some started off in couples to procure
water. The field-officers gave me some items relative to the conflict,
and as they were ordered to remain here, I resolved to pass the night
with them. Obtaining a great fence-rail, I lashed my horse to it by his
halter, and, removing his saddle and bridle, left him free to graze in
the vicinity. Then I unfolded my camp-bed, covered myself with a rubber
blanket, and continued to listen to the conversation. Of course,
accusations, bitter mutterings, moodiness, and melancholy, prevailed. I
heard these for some time, interspersed with sententious eulogies upon
particular persons, and references to isolated events. The evening was
one of the pleasantest of the year, in all that nature could contribute;
a fine starlight, a transparent atmosphere, a coolness, and a fragrance
of sweet-clover blossoms. I had laid my head upon my arm, and shut my
eyes, and felt drowsiness come upon me, when something hurtled through
the air, and another gun boomed on the stillness. A shell, describing an
arc of fire, fell some distance to our left, and, in a moment, a second
shell passed directly over our heads.

"----!" said an officer; "have they moved a battery so close? See! it is
just at the end of this field!"

I looked back! At the top of the basin in which we lay, something
flashed up, throwing a glare upon the woody background, and a shell,
followed by a shock, crashed ricochetting, directly in a line with us,
but leaped, fortunately, above us, and continued its course far beyond.

"They mean 'em for us," said the same voice; "they see these lights
where the fools have been warming their coffee. Halloo!"

Another glare of fire revealed the grouped men and horses around the
battery, and for a moment I thought the missile had struck among us.
There was a splutter, as of shivering metal flying about, and, with a
sort of intuition, the whole regiment rose and ran. I started to my feet
and looked for my horse. His ears were erect, his eyeballs distended,
and his nostrils were tremulous with fright. A fifth shell, so perfectly
in range that I held my breath, and felt my heart grow cold, came toward
and passed me, and, with a toss of his head, the nag flung up the rail
as if it had been a feather. He seemed literally to juggle it, and it
flitted here and there, so that I dared not approach him. A favorable
opportunity at length ensued, and I seized the animal by his halter. He
was now wild with panic, and sprang toward me as if to trample me. In
vain I endeavored to pull him toward the saddle. Fresh projectiles
darted beside and above us, and the last of these seemed to pass so
close that I could have reached and touched it. The panic took
possession of me. I grasped my camp-bed, rather by instinct than by
choice, and, holding it desperately under my arm, took to my heels.

It was a long distance to the bottom of the clover-field, and the swift
iron followed me remorselessly. At one moment, when a shell burst full
in my face, half blinding me, I felt weak to faintness, but still I ran.
I had wit enough to avoid the high road, which I knew to be packed with
fugitives, and down which, I properly surmised, the enemy would send his
steady messengers. Once I fell into a ditch, and the breath was knocked
out of my body, but I rolled over upon my feet with marvellous
sprightliness, till, at last, when I gained a corn-field, my attention
was diverted to a strange, rattling noise behind me. I turned and
looked. It was my horse, the rail dangling between his legs, his eyes on
fire in the night. As we regarded each other, a shell burst between us.
He dashed away across the inhospitable fields, and I fell into the high
road among the routed. Expletives like these ensued:--

"Sa-a-ay! Hoss! Pardner! Are you going to ride over this wounded
feller?"

"Friend, have you a drop of water for a man that's fainted here?"

"Halloo! Buster! Keep that bayonit out o' my eye, if you please!"

"Where's Gen. Banks? I hearn say he's a prisoner."

"I do' know!"

"Was we licked, do you think?"

"No! We warn't nothin' o' the kind. Siegel's outflanked 'em and okkepies
the field. A man jus' told me so."

"Huzza! Hearties, cheer up! Siegel's took the field, and Stonewall
Jackson's dead."

"Three cheers for Siegel."

"Hoorooar, hoor--"

"Oh! Get out! That's all blow. Don't try stuff me! We're lathered;
that's the long and shawt of it."

"Is that so? Boys, I guess we're beat!"

Such was the character of exclamations that ran here and there, and
after a little volley of them had been let off, a long pause succeeded,
when only the sighs of the injured and the tramp of men and nags broke
the silence. Overhead the starlight and the blue sky; on either side the
rolling, shadowy fields; and wrapping the horizon in a gray, grisly
girdle, the reposing woods plentiful with dew. Nature was putting forth
all her still, sweet charms, as if to make men witness the damned
contrast of their own wrath, violence, and murder. Even thus,
perhaps,--I reasoned,--in the days of old, did the broken multitudes of
Xerxes return by the shores of the golden Archipelago; and the
Hellespont shone as peacefully as these silvernesses of earth and
firmament. The dulness of history became invested with new intelligence.
I filled in the details of a thousand routs conned in school-days, when
only the dry outlines lay before me. They were mysteries before, and
lacked the warmness of life and truth; but now I _saw_ them! The armor
and the helmets fell away, with all other trappings of custom, language,
and ceremony. This pale giant, who walked behind the ambulance, leaning
upon the footboard, was the limping Achilles, with the arrow of Paris
festering in his heel. This ancient veteran, with his back to the field,
was the fugitive Æneas, leaving Troy behind. And these, around me,
belonged to the columns of Barbazona, scattered at Legnano by the
revengeful Milanese. Cobweb, and thick dust, and faded parchment had
somewhat softened those elder events; but in their day they were
tangible, practical, and prosaic, like this scene. Years will roll over
this, as over those, and folks will read at firesides, half doubtfully,
half wonderingly, the story of this bafflement, when no fragment of its
ruin remains. It was a profound feeling that I should thus be walking
down the great retreat of time, and that the occurrences around me
should be remembered forever!

There were a few prisoners in the mass, walking before cavalry-men.
Nobody interfered with them, and they were not in a position to feel
elated. Now and then, when we reached an ambulance, the fugitives would
press around it to inquire if any of their friends were within. Rough
recognitions would ensue, as thus:--

"Bobby, is that you, back there?--Bobby Baker?"

"Who is it?" (feebly uttered.)

"Me, Bobby--Josh Wiggins. Are you shot bad, Bobby?"

"Shot in the thigh; think the bone's broke. You haven't got a drop of
water, have you?"

"No, Bobby; wish I had. Have anymore of our boys been hurt that you know
of?"

"Switzer is dead; Bill Cringle and Jonesy are prisoners; 'Pud' White is
in the ambulance ahead; 'Fol' Thompson's lost an arm; that's all I
know."

When we had gone two miles or more, we found a provost column drawn
across the road, and a mounted officer interrogating all who attempted
to pass:--

"Stop there! You're not wounded."

"Yes, I am."

"Pass on! Halt boy! Go back. Men, close up there. Stop that boy."

"I am sun-struck, Major."

"You lie! Drive him back. Go back, now!"

Beyond this the way was comparatively clear; but as I knew that other
guards held the road further on, I passed to the right, and with the
hope of finding a rill of water, went across some grass fields, keeping
toward the low places. The fields were very still, and I heard only the
subdued noises wafted from the road; but suddenly I found myself
surrounded by men. They were lying in groups in the tall grass, and
started up suddenly, like the clansmen of Roderick Dhu. At first I
thought myself a prisoner, and these some cunning Confederates, who had
lain in wait. But, to my surprise, they were Federal uniforms, and were
simply skulkers from various regiments, who had been hiding here during
the hours of battle. Some of these miserable wretches asked me the
particulars of the fight, and when told of the defeat, muttered that
they were not to be hood-winked and slaughtered.

"I was sick, anyway," said one fellow, "and felt like droppin' on the
road."

"I didn't trust my colonel," said another; "he ain't no soldier."

"I'm tired of the war, anyhow," said a third, "and my time's up soon; so
I shan't have my head blown off."

As I progressed, dozens of these men appeared; the fields were strewn
with them; a true man would rather have been lying with the dead on the
field of carnage, than here, among the craven and base. I came to a
spring at last, and the stragglers surrounded it in levies. One of them
gave me a cup to dip some of the crystal, and a prayerful feeling came
over me as the cooling draught fell over my dry palate and parched
throat. Regaining the road, I encountered reinforcements coming rapidly
out of Culpepper, and among them was the 9th New York. My friend
Lieutenant Draper, recognized me, and called out that he should see me
on the morrow, if he was not killed meantime. Culpepper was filling with
fugitives when I passed up the main street, and they were sprinkled
along the sidewalks, gossiping with each other. The wounded were being
carried into some of the dwellings, and when I reached the Virginia
Hotel, many of them lay upon the porch. I placed my blanket on a clean
place, threw myself down exhaustedly, and dropped to sleep directly.



CHAPTER XXV.

OUT WITH A BURYING PARTY.


When I rose, at ten o'clock on the morning of Sunday, August 10, the
porch was covered with wounded people. Some fierce sunbeams were gliding
under the roof, shining in the poor fellows' eyes, and they were
stirring wearily, though asleep. Picking my way among the prostrate
figures, I resorted to the pump in the rear of the tavern for the
purpose of bathing my face. A soldier stood there on guard, and he
refused to give me so much as a draught of water. The wounded needed
every drop, and there were but a few wells in the town. I strolled
through the main street, now crowded with unfortunates, and pausing at
the Court House, found the seat of justice transmuted to a headquarters
for surgeons, where amputations were being performed. Continuing by a
street to the left, I came to the depot, and here the ambulances were
gathered with their scores of inmates. A tavern contiguous to the
railway was also a hospital, but in the basement I found the
transportation agents at breakfast, and they gave me a bountiful meal.

It was here arranged between myself and an old friend--a newspaper
correspondent who had recently married, and whose wife awaited him at
Willard's in Washington--that he should proceed at once to New York with
the outline of the fight, and that I should follow him next day (having,
indeed, to report for duty and fresh orders at Head-quarters of the
army in Washington,) with particulars and the lists of killed. I
commenced my part of the labors at once, employing three persons to
assist me, and we districted Culpepper, so that no one should interfere
with the grounds of the other. My own part of the work embraced both
hotel-hospitals, the names and statements of the prisoners of the Court
House loft, and interviews with some of the generals and colonels who
lay at various private residences. The business was not a desirable one;
for hot hospital rooms were now absolutely reeking, and many of the
victims were asleep. It would be inhuman to awaken these; but in many
cases those adjacent knew nothing, and with all assiduity the rolls must
be imperfect. I found one man who had undergone a sort of mental
paralysis and could not tell me his own name. However, I groped through
the several chambers where the bleeding littered the bare floors. Some
of them were eating voraciously, and buckets of ice-water were being
carried to and fro that all might drink. Some male nurses were fanning
the sleeping people with boughs of cedar; but the flies filled the
ceiling, and, attracted by the wounds, they kept up a constant buzzing.
I imagined that mortification would rapidly ensue in this broiling
atmosphere. A couple of trains were being prepared below, to transport
the sufferers to Washington, and from time to time individuals were
carried into the air and deposited in common freight-cars upon the hard
floors. Here they were compelled to wait till late in the evening, for
no trains were allowed to leave the village during the day. At the
Virginia Hotel, I visited, among others, the room in which I had lodged
when I first came to Culpepper. Eight persons now occupied it, and three
of them lay across the bed. I took the first man's name, and as the man
next to him seemed to be asleep, I asked the first man to nudge him
gently.

"I don't think he is alive," said the man; "he hasn't moved since
midnight. I've spoken to him already."

I pulled a blanket from the head of the figure, and the tangled hair,
yellow skin, and stiffened jaw told all the story. The other man looked
uneasily into the face of the corpse and then lay down with his back
toward it.

"I hope they'll take it out," said he, "I don't want to sleep beside it
another night."

The guard at the Court House allowed me to ascend to the loft, and the
prisoners--forty or fifty in number--clustered around me. They had
received, a short time before, their day's allotment of crackers and
bread, and some of them were sitting in the cupola, with their bare legs
hanging over the rails. They were anxious to have their names printed,
and I learned from the less cautious the names of the brigades to which
they belonged. Before I left the room I had obtained the number of
regiments in Jackson's command and the names of his brigadier-generals.
Some prisoners arrived while I was noting these matters. They had been
sent to pick up arms, canteens, cartridge-boxes, etc., from the
battle-field, and some of our cavalry had ridden them down and captured
them. They were a little discomposed, but said, for the most part, that
they were weary of the war and glad to be in custody. As a rule,
Northern and Southern troops have the same general manners and
appearances. These were more ragged than any Federals I had ever known,
and their appetites were voracious.

I found General Geary, a Pennsylvania brigade Commander, in the dwelling
of a lady near the end of the town. He had received a bullet in the arm,
and, I believe, submitted to amputation afterward. He was a tall,
athletic man, upwards of six feet in height, and a citizen of one of the
mountainous interior counties of the Quaker State. His life had been
marked by much adventure, and he had been elevated to many important
civil positions in various quarters of the Republic. He occupied a
leading place, in the Mexican war, and was afterward Mayor of San
Francisco and Governor of Kansas. He acted with the Southern wing of
the Democratic party, and was discreetly ambitious, promoting the
agricultural interests of his commonwealth, and otherwise fulfilling
useful civil functions. He was a fine exemplar of the American
gentleman, preserving the better individualities of his countrymen, but
discarding those grosser traits, which have given us an unenviable name
abroad. Geary could not do a mean thing, and his courage came so
naturally to him that he did not consider it any cause of pride. The
bias of party, which in America diseases the best natures, had in some
degree affected the General. He was prone to go with his party in any
event, when often, I think, his fine intelligence would have prompted
him to an independent course. But I wish that all our leading men
possessed his manliness, for then more dignity and self-respect, and
less "smartness," might be apparent in our social and political
organizations.

He was lying on his back, with his shattered arm bandaged, and resting
on his breast. Twitches of keen pain shot across his face now and then,
but he received me with a simple courtesy that made his patience thrice
heroic. He did not speak of himself or his services, though I knew both
to be eminent; but McDowell had insulted him, as he rode disabled from
the field, and Geary felt the sting of the word more than the bullet. He
had ventured to say to McDowell that the Reserves were badly needed in
front, and the proud "Regular" had answered the officious "Volunteer,"
to the effect that he knew his own business. Not the least among the
causes of the North's inefficiency will be found this ill feeling
between the professional and the civil soldiery. A Regular contemns a
Volunteer; a Volunteer hates a Regular. I visited General Augur--badly
wounded--in the drawing-room of the hotel, and paused a moment to watch
Colonel Donnelly, mortally wounded, lying on a spread in the hall. The
latter lingered a day in fearful agony; but he was a powerful man in
physique, and he fought with death through a bloody sweat, never
moaning nor complaining, till he fell into a blessed torpidity, and so
yielded up his soul. The shady little town was a sort of Golgotha now.
Feverish eyes began to burn into one's heart, as he passed along the
sidewalks. Red hospital flags, hung like regalia from half the houses. A
table for amputations was set up in the open air, and nakedness glared
hideously upon the sun. How often have they brought out corpses in plain
boxes of pine, and shut them away without sign, or ceremony, or tears,
driving a long stake above the headboard. The ambulances came and went,
till the line seemed stretching to the crack of doom; while, as in
contemplation of further murder, the white-covered ammunition-teams
creaked southward, and mounted Provosts charged upon the skulkers,
driving them to a pen, whence they were forwarded to their regiments.
Old Mr. Paine, the landlord, tottered up to me, with a tear in his eye,
and said--

"My good Lord, sir! Who is responsible for this?"

He did not mean to suggest argument. It was the language of a human
heart pitying its brotherhood.

At twelve o'clock I started anew for the field, and fell in with Captain
Chitty on the way. He stated that his courage during the fight surpassed
his most heroic expectations, and added, in an undertone, that he was
deliberating as to whether he should allow his name to be mentioned
officially, since several military men were urging that honor upon him.
I dissuaded Chitty from this intent, upon the ground that his reputation
for modesty might be sacrificed. Chitty at once said that he would take
my advice. We encountered Surgeon Ball, of Ohio, after a time, and he
informed us that a day's armistice had been agreed upon, to allow for
the burial of the dead. The work of interment was already commenced in
front, and the surgeon had been ordered to see to the wounded, some of
whom still lay on the places where they fell. He allowed us to accompany
him in the capacity of cadets, but we first diverged a little from the
road, that he might obtain his portmanteau of instruments. I fell into a
little difficulty here, by unwittingly asking aloud of the 28th
Pennsylvania regiment, if that was not the organization which hid itself
during the fight? The 28th had been ordered, on the morning of Saturday,
to occupy Telegraph Mountain,--an elevation in the rear of Cedar
Mountain,--which was used for a Federal signal-post. Nobody having
notified the 28th to return to camp, they remained on the mountain,
passively witnessing the carnage, and came away in the night. But
although my remark was jestingly said, the knot of soldiers who heard it
were intensely excited. They spoke of taking me "off that hoss," and
called me a New York "Snob," who "wanted his head punched." This irate
feeling may be attributed to the rivalry which exists between the
"Empire" and the "Keystone" States, the latter being very jealous of the
former, and claiming to have sent more troops to the war than any other
commonwealth. The 28th volunteers doubtless expected a terrific
onslaught from the next issue of the Philadelphia papers.

The reserve, which had lain some miles in the rear the previous evening,
were now massed close to the field, but in the woods, that the enemy
might not count their numbers from his high position. Stopping at times
to chat with brother officers, at last I reached the meadow whence I had
been driven the previous evening. I looked for my nag in vain. One
soldier told me that he had seen him at daylight limping along the high
road; but after sundry wild-goose chases, I gave up the idea of
recovering him.

At last I passed the outlying batteries, with their black muzzles
scanning the battle-ground, and ascending the clover field, came upon
the site of the battery which had so discomfited us the previous night.
A signal vengeance had overtaken it. Some splinters of wheel and an
overturned caisson, with eight horses lying in a group,--their hoofs
extended like index boards, their necks elongated along the ground, and
their bodies swollen--were the results of a single shell trained upon
the battery by a cool artillerist. Beyond, the road and fields were
strown with knapsacks, haversacks, jackets, canteens, cartridge-boxes,
shoes, bayonets, knives, buttons, belts, blankets, girths, and sabres.
Now and then a mule or a horse lay at the roadside, with the clay
saturated beneath him; and some of the tree-tops, in the depth of the
woods, were scarred, split, and barked, as if the lightning had blasted
them. Now passing a disabled wagon, now marking a dropped horseshoe, now
turning a capsized ambulance, now regarding a perfect wilderness of old
clothes, we emerged from the timber at last, and came to the place where
I had slept on the eve of the battle. A hurricane had apparently swept
the country here, and the fences had been transported bodily. Sometimes
the ground looked, for limited areas, as if there had been a rain of
kindling-wood; and there were furrows in the clay, like those made by
some great mole which had ploughed into the bowels of the earth. All the
tree boles were pierced and perforated, and boughs had been severed so
that they littered the way. Cedar Creek ran merrily across what had been
the road,--the waters limpid and cool as before,--and when I passed
beyond, I entered the region of dead men. Some poisonous Upas had
seemingly grown here, so that adventurers were prostrated by its
exhalations. A tributary rivulet formed with the creek a triangular
enclosure of ground, where most of the Federals had fallen. To the left
of the road stood a cornfield; to the right a stubble-field, dotted with
stone heaps: deep woods formed the background to these, and
scrub-timber, irregularly disposed, the foreground. On the right of the
stubble lay a great stretch of "barren," spotted with dwarf cedars, and
on the left of the cornfield stood a white farm-house, with orchards and
outbuildings; beyond, the creek had hollowed a ravine among the hills,
and the far distance was bounded by the mountains on the Rapidan. In the
immediate front, towered Cedar Mountain, with woods at its base; and
the roadway in which I stood, lost itself a little way on in the mazes
of the thicket. Looking down one of the rows of corn, I saw the first
corpse--the hands flung stiffly back, the feet set stubbornly, the chin
pointing upward, the features losing their sharpness, the skin
blackening, the eyes great and white--

    "A heap of death--a chaos of cold clay."

Turning into the cornfield, we came upon one man with a spade, and
another man lying at his feet. He was digging a grave, and when we
paused to note the operation, he touched his cap:--

"Pardner o' mine," he said, indicating the body; "him and I fit side by
side, and we agreed, if it could be done, to bury each other. There
ain't no sich man as that lost out o' the army, private or
officer,--with all respect to you."

It was a eulogy that sounded as if more deserved, because it was homely.
There are some that I have read, much finer, but not as honest. At
little distances we saw parties of ten or twenty, opening trenches, the
tributary brook, only, dividing the Confederate and Federal fatigue
parties. Close to this brook, in the cornfield, lay a fallen trunk of a
tree, and four men sat upon it. Two of them wore gray uniforms, two wore
blue. The latter were Gens. Roberts and Hartsuff of the Federal army.
They were waiting for Gens. Stuart and Early, of the Confederate army:
and the four were to define the period of the armistice. The men in gray
were Major Hintham of Mississippi, and Lieut. Elliott Johnston of
Maryland. Hintham was a lean, fiery, familiar man, who wore the uniform
of several field-marshals. An ostrich feather was stuck in his soft hat
and clasped by a silver star upon a black velvet ground. A golden cord
formed his hat-band, and two tassels, as huge as those of drawing-room
curtains, fell upon his back. His collar was plentifully embroidered as
well as his coat-sleeves, and a black seam ran down his trousers. He
wore spurs of prodigious size, and looked, in the main, like a tragedian
about to appear upon the stage. The other man was young, stout, and good
humored; and he talked sententiously, with a little vanity, but much
courtesy. The Federals had nothing to say to these, they dealt only with
equals in rank. It became a matter of professional ambition, now, to
obtain the greatest amount of information from these Confederates,
without appearing to depart from any conventionality of the armistice. I
got along very well till Chitty came up, and his interrogatives were so
pert and pointed that he very nearly spoiled the entire labor. Young
Johnston was a Baltimorean, and wished his people to know something of
him; he gave me a card, stated that he was one of Gen. Garnett's aids,
and had opened the armistice, early in the day, by riding into the
Federal lines with a flag of truce. By detachments, new bodies of
Confederate officers joined us, most of them being young fellows in gray
suits: and at length Gen. Early rode down the hillside and nodded his
head to our party.

It was the custom of our newspapers to publish, with its narrative of
each battle, a plan of the field; and in furtherance of this object,
having agreed to act for my absent friend, I moved a little way from the
place of parley, and laying my paper on the pommel of my saddle
proceeded to sketch the relative positions of road, brook, mountain, and
woodland. While thus busily engaged, and congratulating myself upon the
fine opportunities afforded me, a lithe, indurated, severe-looking
horseman rode down the hill, and reining beside me, said--

"Are you making a sketch of our position?"

"Not for any military purpose."

"For what?"

"For a newspaper engraving."

"Umph!"

The man rode past me to the log, and when I had finished my transcript,
I resumed my place at the group. The new comer was Major General J. E.
B. Stuart, one of the most famous cavalry leaders in the Confederate
army. He was inquiring for General Hartsuff, with whom he had been a
fellow-cadet at West Point; but the Federal General had strolled off,
and in the interval Stuart entered into familiar converse with the
party. He described the Confederate uniform to me, and laughed over some
reminiscences of his raid around McClellan's army.

"That performance gave me a Major-Generalcy, and my saddle cloth there,
was sent from Baltimore as a reward, by a lady whom I never knew."

Stuart exhibited what is known in America as "airiness," and evidently
loved to talk of his prowess. Directly Gen. Hartsuff returned, and the
forager rose, with a grim smile about his mouth--

"Hartsuff, God bless you, how-de-do?"

"Stuart, how are you?"

They took a quiet turn together, speaking of old school-days, perhaps;
and when they came back to the log, Surgeon Ball produced a bottle of
whiskey, out of which all the Generals drank, wishing each other an
early peace.

"Here's hoping you may fall into our hands," said Stuart; "we'll treat
you well at Richmond!"

"The same to you!" said Hartsuff, and they all laughed.

It was a strange scene,--this lull in the hurricane. Early was a North
Carolinian, who lost nearly his whole brigade at Williamsburg. He wore a
single star upon each shoulder, and in other respects resembled a homely
farmer. He kept upon his horse, and had little to say. Crawford was gray
and mistrustful, calmly measuring Stuart with his eye, as if he intended
to challenge him in a few minutes. Hartsuff was fair and burly, with a
boyish face, and seemed a little ill at ease. Stuart sat upon a log, in
careless posture, working his jaw till the sandy gray beard brushed his
chin and became twisted in his teeth. Around, on foot and on horse,
lounged idle officers of both armies; and the little rill that trickled
behind us was choked in places with corpses. A pleasanter meeting could
not have been held, if this were a county training. The Surgeon told
Gen. Stuart that some of his relatives lived near the Confederate
Capital, and as the General knew them, he related trifling occurrences
happening in their neighborhoods, so that the meeting took the form of a
roadside gossip, and Stuart might have been a plain farmer jaunting home
from market. The General, who was called "JEB" by his associates, so far
relented finally as to give me leave to ride within the Confederate
outer lines, and Lieut. Johnson accompanied me. The corpses lay at
frequent points, and some of the wounded who had not been gathered up,
remained at the spots where they had fallen. One of these, whose leg had
been broken, was incapable of speaking, and could hardly be
distinguished from the lifeless shapes around him. The number of those
who had received their death wound on the edge of the brook, while in
the act of leaping across was very great. I fancied that their faces
retained the mingled ardor and agony of the endeavor and the pang. There
seemed to be no system in the manner of interment, and many of the
Federals had thrown down their shovels, and strolled across the
boundary, to chaff and loiter with the "Butternuts." No one, whom I saw,
exhibited any emotion at the strewn spectacles on every side, and the
stories I had read of the stony-heartedness during the plague, were more
than rivalled by these charnel realities. Already corruption was
violating the "temples of the living God." The heat of the day and the
general demoralizing influences of the climate, were making havoc with
the shapely men of yesterday, and nature seemed hastening to reabsorb,
and renew by her marvellous processes, what was now blistering and
burdening her surface. Enough, however, of this. Satiated with the
scenes of war, my ambition now was to extend my observations to the
kingdoms of the Old World.



CHAPTER XXVI.

OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT IN ENGLAND.


The boy's vague dream of foreign adventure had passed away; my purpose
was of a tamer and more practical cast; it was resolved to this problem:
"How could I travel abroad and pay my expenses?"

Evidently no money could be made by home correspondence. The new order
of journals had no charity for fine moral descriptions of church
steeples, ruined castles, and picture galleries; I knew too little of
foreign politics to give the Republic its semi-weekly "sensation;" and
exchange was too high at the depreciated value of currency to yield me
even a tolerable reward. But might I not reverse the policy of the
peripatetics, and, instead of turning my European experiences into
American gold, make my knowledge of America a bill of credit for
England?

What capital had I for this essay? I was twenty-one years of age; the
last three years of my minority had been passed among the newspapers; I
knew indifferently well the distribution of parties, the theory of the
Government, the personalities of public men, the causes of the great
civil strife. And I had mounted to my saddle in the beginning of the
war, and followed the armies of McClellan and Pope over their sanguinary
battle-fields. The possibility thrilled me like a novel discovery, that
the Old World might be willing to hear of the New, as I could depict it,
fresh from the theatre of action. At great expense foreign
correspondents had been sent to our shores, whose ignorance and
confidence had led them into egregious blunders; for their travelling
outlay merely, I would have guaranteed thrice the information, and my
sanguine conceit half persuaded me that I could present it as
acceptably. I did not wait to ponder upon this suggestion. The guns of
the second action of Bull Run growled a farewell to me as I resigned my
horse and equipments to a successor. With a trifle of money, I took
passage on a steamer, and landed at Liverpool on the first of October,
1862.

Among my acquaintances upon the ship was a semi-literary adventurer from
New England. I surmised that his funds were not more considerable than
my own; and indeed, when he comprehended my plans, he confessed as much,
and proposed to join enterprises with me.

"Did you ever make a public lecture?" he asked.

Now I had certain blushing recollections of having entertained a
suburban congregation, long before, with didactic critiques upon Byron,
Keats, and the popular poets. I replied, therefore, misgivingly, in the
affirmative, and Hipp, the interrogator, exclaimed at once--

"Let us make a lecturing tour in England, and divide the expenses and
the work; you will describe the war, and I will act as your agent."

With true Yankee persistence Hipp developed his idea, and I consented to
try the experiment, though with grave scruples. It would require much
nerve to talk to strange people upon an excitable topic; and a camp
fever, which among other things I had gained on the Chickahominy, had
enfeebled me to the last degree.

However, I went to work at once, inditing the pages in a snug parlor of
a modest Liverpool inn, while Hipp sounded the patrons and landlord as
to the probable success of our adventure. Opinions differed; public
lectures in the Old World had been generally gratuitous, except in rare
cases, but the genial Irish proprietor of the _Post_ advised me to go on
without hesitation.

We selected for the initial night a Lancashire sea-side town, a summer
resort for the people of Liverpool, and filled at that time with
invalids and pleasure-seekers. Hipp, who was a sort of American
Crichton, managed the business details with consummate tact. I was
announced as the eye-witness and participator of a hundred actions,
fresh from the bloodiest fields and still smelling of saltpetre. My
horse had been shot as I carried a General's orders under the fire of a
score of batteries, and I was connected with journals whose reputations
were world-wide. Disease had compelled me to forsake the scenes of my
heroism, and I had consented to enlighten the Lancashire public, through
the solicitation of the nobility and gentry. Some of the latter had
indeed honored the affair with their patronage.

We secured the three village newspapers by writing them descriptive
letters. The parish rector and the dissenting preachers were waited upon
and presented with family tickets; while we placarded the town till it
was scarcely recognizable to the oldest inhabitant.

On the morning of the eventful day I arrived in the place. The best room
of the best inn had been engaged for me, and waiters in white aprons,
standing in rows, bowed me over the portal. The servant girls and
gossips had fugitive peeps at me through the cracks of my door, and I
felt for the first time all the oppressiveness of greatness. As I walked
on the quay where the crowds were strolling, looking out upon the misty
sea, at the donkeys on the beach, and at the fishing-smacks huddled
under the far-reaching pier, I saw my name in huge letters borne on the
banner of a bill-poster, and all the people stopping to read as they
wound in and out among them.

How few thought the thin, sallow young man, in wide breeches and
square-toed boots, who shambled by them so shamefacedly, to be the
veritable Mentor who had crossed the ocean for their benefit. Indeed,
the embarrassing responsibility I had assumed now appeared to me in all
its vividness.

My confidence sensibly declined; my sensitiveness amounted to
nervousness; I had half a mind to run away and leave the show entirely
to Hipp. But when I saw that child of the Mayflower stolidly, shrewdly
going about his business, working the wires like an old operator, making
the largest amount of thunder from so small a cloud, I was rebuked of my
faintheartedness. In truth, not the least of my misgivings was Hipp's
extraordinary zeal. He gave the townsmen to understand that I was a
prodigy of oratory, whose battle-sketches would harrow up their souls
and thrill them like a martial summons. It brought the blush to my face
to see him talking to knots of old men after the fashion of a town crier
at a puppet-booth, and I wondered whether I occupied a more reputable
rank, after all, than a strolling gymnast, giant, or dwarf.

As the twilight came on my position became ludicrously unenviable. The
lights in the town-hall were lit. I passed pallidly twice or thrice, and
would have given half my fortune if the whole thing had been over. But
the minutes went on; the interval diminished; I faced the crisis at last
and entered the arena.

There sat Hipp, taking money at the head of the stairs, with piles of
tickets before him; and as he rose, gravely respectful, the janitor and
some loiterers took off their hats while I passed. I entered the little
bare dressing-room; my throat was parched as fever, my hands were hot
and tremulous; I felt my heart sag. How the rumble of expectant feet in
the audience-room shook me! I called myself a poltroon, and fingered my
neck-tie, and smoothed my hair before the mirror. Another burst of
impatient expectation made me start; I opened the door, and stood before
my destiny.

The place was about one third filled with a representative English
audience, the males preponderating in number. They watched me intently
as I mounted the steps of the rostrum and arranged my port-folio upon a
musical tripod; then I seated myself for a moment, and tried to still
the beating of my foolish heart.

How strangely acute were my perceptions of everything before me! I
looked from face to face and analyzed the expressions, counted the lines
down the corduroy pantaloons, measured the heavily-shod English feet,
numbered the rows of benches and the tubes of the chandeliers, and
figured up the losing receipts from this unremunerative audience.

Then I rose, coughed, held the house for the last time in severe review,
and repeated--

"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN--A grand contest agitates America and the world.
The people of the two sections of the great North American Republic,
having progressed in harmony for almost a century, and become a
formidable power among the nations, are now divided and at enmity; they
have consecrated with blood their fairest fields, and built monuments of
bones in their most beautiful valleys," etc.

For perhaps five minutes everything went on smoothly. I was pleased with
the clearness of my voice; then, as I referred to the origin of the war,
and denounced the traitorous conspiracy to disrupt the republic, faint
mutterings arose, amounting to interruptions at last. The sympathies of
my audience were, in the main, with the secession. There were cheers and
counter cheers; storms of "Hear, hear," and "No, no," until a certain
youth, in a sort of legal monkey-jacket and with ponderously
professional gold seals, so distinguished himself by exclamations that I
singled him out as a mark for my bitterest periods.

But while I was thus the main actor in this curious scene, a strange,
startling consciousness grew apace upon me; the room was growing dark;
my voice replied to me like a far, hollow echo; I knew--I knew that I
was losing my consciousness--that I was about to faint! Words cannot
describe my humiliation at this discovery. I set my lips hard and
straightened my limbs; raised my voice to a shrill, defiant pitch, and
struggled in the dimming horror to select my adversary in the
monkey-jacket and overwhelm him with bitter apostrophes. In vain! The
novelty, the excitement, the enervation of that long, consuming fever,
mastered my overtaxed physique. I knew that, if I did not cease, I
should fall senseless to the floor. Only in the last bitter instant did
I confess my disability with the best grace I could assume.

"My friends," I said, gaspingly, "this is my first appearance in your
country, and I am but just convalescent; my head is a little weak. Will
you kindly bear with me a moment while the janitor gets me a glass of
water?"

A hearty burst of applause took the sting from my mortification. A bald
old gentleman in the front row gravely rose and said, "Let me send for a
drop of brandy for our young guest." They waited patiently and kindly
till my faintness passed away, and when I rose, a genuine English cheer
shook the place.

I often hear it again when, here in my own country, I would speak
bitterly of Englishmen, and it softens the harshness of my condemnation.

But I now addressed myself feverishly to my task, and my disgrace made
me vehement and combative. I glared upon the individual in the
monkey-jacket as if he had been Mr. Jefferson Davis himself, and read
him a scathing indictment. The man in the monkey-jacket was not to be
scathed. He retorted more frequently than before; he was guilty of the
most hardy contempt of court. He was determined not to agree with me,
and said so.

"Sir," I exclaimed at last, "pray reserve your remarks till the end of
the lecture, and you shall have the platform."

"I shall be quite willing, I am sure," said the man in the monkey-jacket
with imperturbable effrontery.

Then, as I continued, the contest grew interesting; explosions of "No,
no," were interrupted with volleys of "Ay, ay," from my adherents.
Hipp, who had squared accounts, made all the applause in his power,
standing in the main threshold, and the little auditory became a ringing
arena, where we fought without flinching, standing foot to foot and
drawing fire for fire. The man in the monkey-jacket broke his word:
silence was not his forte; he hurled denials and counter-charges
vociferously; he was full of gall and bitterness, and when I closed the
last page and resumed my chair, he sprang from his place to claim the
platform.

"Stop," cried Hipp, in his hard nasal tone, striding forward; "you have
interrupted the lecturer after giving your parole; we recall our
promise, as you have not stood by yours. Janitor, put out the lights!"

The bald old gentleman quietly rose. "In England," he said, "we give
everybody fair play; tokens of assent and dissent are commonly made in
all our public meetings; let us have a hearing for our townsman."

"Certainly," I replied, giving him my hand at the top of the stairs,
"nothing would afford me more pleasure."

The man in the monkey-jacket then made a sweeping speech, full of loose
charges against the Americans, and expressive of sympathy with the
Rebellion; but, at the finishing, he proposed, as the sentiment of the
meeting, a vote of thanks to me, which was amended by another to include
himself. Many of the people shook hands with me at the door, and the
bald old gentleman led me to his wife and daughter, whose benignities
were almost parental.

"Poor young man!" said the old lady; "a must take care of 'is 'ealth;
will a come hoom wi' Tummas and me and drink a bit o' tea?"

I strolled about the place for twenty-four hours on good terms with many
townsmen, while Hipp, full of pluck and business, was posting me against
all the dead walls of a farther village. Again and again I sketched the
war-episodes I had followed, gaining fluency and confidence as by
degrees my itinerant profession lost its novelty, but we as steadily
lost money. The houses were invariably bad; we had the same fiery
discussions every evening, but the same meagre receipts, and in every
market town of northwestern Lancashire we buried a portion of our little
capital, till once, after talking myself hoarse to a respectable
audience of empty benches, Hipp and I looked blankly into each other's
faces and silently put our last gold pieces upon the table. We were
three thousand miles from home, and the possessors of ten sovereigns
apiece. I reached out my hand with a pale smile:--

"Old fellow," I said, "let us comfort ourselves by the assurance that we
have deserved success. The time has come to say good by."

"As you will," said Hipp: "it is all the fault of this pig-headed
nation. Now I dare say if we had brought a panorama of the war along, it
would have been a stunning success; but standing upon high literary and
forensic ground, of course they can't appreciate us. Confound 'em!"

I think that Hipp has since had but two notions,--the exhibition of that
panorama, or, in the event of its failure, a declaration of war against
the British people. He followed me to Liverpool, and bade me adieu at
Birkenhead, I going Londonward with scarcely enough money to pay my
passage, and he to start next day for Belfast, to lecture upon his own
hook, or, failing (as he afterward did), to recross the Atlantic in the
steerage of a ship.

My feelings, as the train bore me steadily through the Welsh border, by
the clustering smoke-stacks of Birmingham, by the castled tower of
Warwick, and along the head waters of the Thames and Avon, were not of
the most enthusiastic description. I had no money and no friends; I had
sent to America for a remittance, but in the interval of six weeks
required for a reply, must eat and drink and lodge, and London was wide
and pitiless, even if I dared stoop to beg assistance.

Let no young man be tempted to put the sea between his home and himself,
how seductive soever be the experiences of book-makers and poetic
pedestrians. One hour's contemplation of poverty in foreign lands will
line the boy's face with the wrinkles of years, and burn into his soul
that withering dependency which will rankle long after his privations
are forgotten.

In truth, my circumstances were so awkward that my very desperation kept
me calm. I had a formal letter to one English publisher, but not any
friendly line whatever to anybody; and as the possibilities of sickness,
debt, enemies, came to mind, I felt that I was no longer the hero of a
romance, but face to face with a hard, practical, terrible reality. It
was night when I landed at the Paddington Station, and taking an omnibus
for Charing Cross, watched the long lines of lamps on Oxford Street, and
the glitter of the Haymarket theatres, and at last the hard plash of the
fountains in Trafalgar Square, with the stony statues grouped so rigidly
about the column to Nelson.

I walked down Strand with my carpet-bag in my hands, through Fleet
Street and under Temple Bar, till, weary at last from sheer exercise, I
dropped into a little ale-house under a great, grinning lantern, which
said, in the crisp tone of patronage, the one word, "beds." They put me
under the tiles, with the chimney-stacks for my neighbors, and I lay
awake all night meditating expedients for the morrow: so far from regret
or foreboding, I longed for the daylight to come that I might commence
my task, confident that I could not fail where so many had succeeded.
They were, indeed, inspirations which looked in upon me at the dawn. The
dome of St. Paul's guarding Paternoster Row, with Milton's school in the
background, and hard by the Player's Court, where, in lieu of
Shakespeare's company, the American presses of the _Times_ shook the
kingdom and the continent. I thought of Johnson, as I passed Bolt Alley,
of Chatterton at Shoe Lane, of Goldsmith as I put my foot upon his grave
under the eaves of the Temple.

The public has nothing to do with the sacrifices by which my private
embarrassment received temporary relief. Though half the race of authors
had been in similar straits, I would not, for all their success, undergo
again such self-humiliation. It is enough to say that I obtained
lodgings in Islington, close to the home of Charles Lamb, and near
Irving's Canterbury tower; and that between writing articles on the
American war, and strategic efforts to pay my board, two weeks of
feverish loneliness drifted away.

I made but one friend; a young Englishman of radical proclivities, who
had passed some years in America among books and newspapers, and was now
editing the foreign column of the _Illustrated London News_. He was a
brave, needy fellow, full of heart, but burdened with a wife and
children, and too honestly impolitic to gain money with his fine
abilities by writing down his own unpopular sentiments. He helped me
with advice and otherwise.

"If you mean to work for the journals," he said, "I fear you will be
disappointed. I have tried six years to get upon some daily London
paper. The editorial positions are always filled; you know too little of
the geography and society of the town to be a reporter, and such
miscellaneous recollections of the war as you possess will not be
available for a mere newspaper. But the magazines are always ready to
purchase, if you can get access to them. In that quarter you might do
well."

I found that the serials to which my friend recommended me shared his
own advanced sentiments, but were unfortunately without money. So I made
my way to the counter of the Messrs. Chambers, and left for its junior
partner an introductory note. The reply was to this effect. I violate no
confidence, I think, in reproducing it:--

     "SIR,--I shall be glad to see any friend of----, and may be
     found," etc., etc. "I fear that articles upon the American war,
     written by an American, will not, however, be acceptable in this
     journal, as the public here take a widely different view of the
     contest from that entertained in your own country, and the feeling
     of horror is deepening fast."

Undeterred by this frank avowal, I waited upon the publisher at the
appointed time,--a fine, athletic, white-haired Scotchman, whose name is
known where that of greater authors cannot reach, and who has written
with his own hand as much as Dumas _père_. He met me with warm
cordiality, rare to Englishmen, and when I said--

"Sir, I do not wish the use of your paper to circulate my
opinions,--only my experiences," he took me at once to his editor, and
gave me a personal introduction. Fortunately I had brought with me a
paper which I submitted on the spot; it was entitled, "Literature of the
American War," collated from such campaign ballads as I could remember,
eked out with my own, and strung together with explanatory and critical
paragraphs. The third day following, I received this announcement in
shockingly bad handwriting:--

"D'r S'r,
        "Y'r article will suit us.
                                 "The ed. C. J."

For every word in this communication, I afterward obtained a guinea. The
money not being due till after the appearance of the article, I
anticipated it with various sketches, stories, etc., all of which were
largely fanciful or descriptive, and contained no paragraph which I wish
to recall. In other directions, I was less successful. Of two daily
journals to which I offered my services, one declined to answer my
letter, and the other demanded a quarto of credentials.

So I lived a fugitive existence, a practical illustration of Irving's
"Poor Devil Author," looking as often into pastry-shop windows, testing
all manner of cheap Pickwickian veal-pies, breakfasting upon a chop, and
supping upon a herring in my suburban residence, but keeping up pluck
and _chique_ so deceptively, that nobody in the place suspected me of
poverty.

I went for some American inventors, to a rifle ground, and explained to
the Lords of the Admiralty the merits of a new projectile; wrote letters
to all the Continental sovereigns for an itinerant and independent
embassador, and was at last so poor that my only writing papers were a
druggist's waste bill-heads. An article with no other "backing" than
this was fortunate enough to stray into the _Cornhill Magazine_. I found
that its proprietor kept a banking-house in Pall Mall, and doubtful of
my welcome on Cornhill, ventured one day in my unique American
costume,--slouched hat, wide garments, and squared-toed boots,--to send
to him directly my card. He probably thought from its face that a
relative of Mr. Mason's was about to open an extensive account with him.
As it was, once admitted to his presence, he could not escape me. The
manuscript lay in his hands before he fully comprehended my purpose. He
was a fine specimen of the English publisher,--robust, ruddy,
good-naturedly acute,--and as he said with a smile that he would waive
routine and take charge of my copy, I knew that the same hands had
fastened upon the crude pages of Jane Eyre, and the best labors of
Hazlitt, Ruskin, Leigh Hunt, and Thackeray.

Two more weary weeks elapsed; I found it pleasant to work, but very
trying to wait. At the end my courage very nearly failed. I reached the
era of self-accusation; to make myself forget myself I took long, ardent
marches into the open country; followed the authors I had worshipped
through the localities they had made reverend; lost myself in
dreaminesses,--those precursors of death in the snow,--and wished myself
back in the ranks of the North, to go down in the frenzy, rather than
thus drag out a life of civil indigence, robbing at once my brains and
my stomach.

One morning, as I sat in my little Islington parlor, wishing that the
chop I had just eaten had gone farther, and taking a melancholy
inventory of the threadbare carpet and rheumatic chairs, the
door-knocker fell; there were steps in the hall; my name was mentioned.

A tall young gentleman approached me with a letter: I received him with
a strange nervousness; was there any crime in my record, I asked
fitfully, for which I had been traced to this obscure suburb for condign
arrest and decapitation? Ha! ha! it was my heart, not my lips, that
laughed. I could have cried out like Enoch Arden in his dying
apostrophe:--

               "A sail! a sail!
    I am saved!"

for the note, in the publisher's own handwriting, said this, and more:--

     "DEAR SIR,--I shall be glad to send you fifteen guineas
     immediately, in return for your article on General Pope's Campaign,
     if the price will suit you."

But I suppressed my enthusiasm. I spoke patronizingly to the young
gentleman. Dr. Johnson, at the brewer's vendue, could not have been more
learnedly sonorous.

"You may say in return, sir, that the sum named will remunerate me."

At the same time the instinct was intense to seize the youth by the
throat, and tell him that if the remittance was delayed beyond the
morning, I would have his heart's-blood! I should have liked to thrust
him into the coal-hole as a hostage for its prompt arrival, or send one
of his ears to the publishing house with a warning, after the manner of
the Neapolitan brigands.

That afternoon I walked all the way to Edmonton, over John Gilpin's
route, and boldly invested two-pence in beer at the time-honored Bell
Inn. I disdained to ride back upon the omnibus for the sum of
threepence, but returned on foot the entire eight miles, and thought it
only a league. Next day my check came duly to hand,--a very formidable
check, with two pen-marks drawn across its face. I carried it to
Threadneedle Street by the unfrequented routes, to avoid having my
pockets picked, and presented it to the cashier, wondering if he knew me
to be a foreign gentleman who had written for the _Cornhill Magazine_.
The cashier looked rather contemptuous, I thought, being evidently a
soulless character with no literary affinities.

"Sir," he said, curtly, "this check is crossed."

"Sir!"

"We can't cash the check; it is crossed."

"What do you mean by crossed?"

"Just present it where you got it, and you will find out."

The cashier regarded me as if I had offered a ticket of leave rather
than an order for the considerable amount of seventy-five dollars. I
left that banking-house a broken man, and stopped with a long, long face
at a broker's to ask for an explanation.

"Yesh, yesh," said the little man, whose German silver spectacles sat
upon a bulbously Oriental nose; "ze monish ish never paid on a crossed
shequc. If one hash a bank-account, you know, zat ish different. Ze
gentleman who gif you dis shequc had no bishness to crosh it if you have
no banker."

I was too vain to go back to Cornhill and confess that I had neither
purse nor purser; so I satisfied the broker that the affair was correct,
and he cashed the bill for five shillings.

That was the end of my necessities; money came from home, from this and
that serial; my published articles were favorably noticed, and opened
the market to me. Whatever I penned found sale; and some correspondence
that I had leisure to fulfil for America brought me steady receipts.

Had I been prudent with my means, and prompt to advantage myself of
opportunities, I might have obtained access to the best literary
society, and sold my compositions for correspondingly higher prices.
Social standing in English literature is of equal consequence with
genius. The poor Irish governess cannot find a publisher, but Lady
Morgan takes both critics and readers by storm. A duchess's name on the
title-page protects the fool in the letter-press; irreverent
republicanism is not yet so great a respecter of persons. I was often
invited out to dinner, and went to the expense of a dress-coat and kids,
without which one passes the genteel British portal at his peril; but
found that both the expense and the stateliness of "society" were
onerous. In this department I had no perseverance; but when, one
evening, I sat with the author of "Vanity Fair," in the concert rooms at
Covent Garden, as Colonel Newcome and Clive had done before me, and took
my beer and mutton with those kindly eyes measuring me through their
spectacles, I felt that such grand companionship lifted me from the
errantry of my career into the dignity of a renowned art.

I moved my lodgings, after three months, to a pleasant square of the
West End, where I had for associates, among others, several American
artists. Strange men were they to be so far from home; but I have since
found, that the poorer one is the farther he travels, and the majority
of these were quite destitute. Two of them only had permanent
employment; a few, now and then, sold a design to a magazine; the mass
went out sketching to kill time, and trusted to Providence for dinner.
But they were good fellows for the most part, kindly to one another, and
meeting in their lodgings, where their tenure was uncertain, to score
Millais, or praise Rosetti, or overwhelm Frith.

My own life meantime passed smoothly. I had no rivals of my own
nationality; though one expatriated person, whose name I have not heard,
was writing a series of prejudiced articles for _Fraser_, which he
signed "A White Republican." I thought him a very dirty white. One or
two English travellers at the same time were making amusingly stupid
notices of America in some of the second-rate monthlies; and Maxwell, a
bustling Irishman, who owns _Temple Bar_, the _Saint James_, and
_Sixpenny Magazine_, and some half dozen other serials, was employing a
man to invent all varieties of rubbish upon a country which he had never
beheld nor comprehended.

After a few months the passages of the war with which I was cognizant
lost their interest by reason of later occurrences. I found myself, so
to speak, wedged out of the market by new literary importations. The
enforcement of the draft brought to Europe many naturalized countrymen
of mine, whose dislike of America was not lessened by their
unceremonious mode of departure from it; and it is to these, the mass of
whom are familiarly known in the journals of this country, that we owe
the most insidious, because the best informed, detraction of us.
_Macmillan's Magazine_ did us sterling service through the papers of
Edward Dicey, the best literary _feuilletonist_ in England; and
Professor Newman, J. Stuart Mill, and others, gave us the limited
influence of the _Westminster Review_. The _Cornhill_ was neutral;
_Chambers's_ respectfully inimical; _Bentley_ and _Colburn_
antagonistically flat; Maxwell's tri-visaged publications grinningly
abusive; _Good Words_ had neither good nor bad words for us; _Once a
Week_ and _All the Year Round_ gave us a shot now and then. _Blackwood_
and _Fraser_ disliked our form of Government, and all its
manifestations. The rest of the reviews, as far as I could see, pitied
and berated us pompously. It was more than once suggested to me to write
an experimental paper upon the failure of republicanism; but I knew only
one American--a New York correspondent--who lent himself to a systematic
abuse of the Government which permitted him to reside in it. He obtained
a newsboy's fame, and, I suspect, earned considerable. He is dead: let
any who love him shorten his biography by three years.

However, I at last concluded a book,--if I may so call what never
resulted in a volume,--at which, from the first, I had been pegging
away. I called it "The War Correspondent," and made it the literal
record of my adventures in the saddle. When some six hundred MS. pages
were done I sent it to a publisher; he politely sent it back. I
forwarded it to a rival house; in this respect only both houses were
agreed. Having some dim recollection of the early trials of authors I
perseveringly gave that copy the freedom of the city; the verdict upon
it was marvellously identical, but the manner of declension was always
soothing. They separately advised me not to be content with one refusal,
but to try some other house, though I came at last to think, by the
regularity of its transit to and fro, that one house only had been its
recipient from the first.

At last, assured of its positive failure, I took what seemed to be the
most philosophic course,--neither tossing it into the Thames, after the
fashion of a famous novelist, nor littering my floor with its fragments,
and dying amidst them like a _chiffonnier_ in his den: I cut the best
paragraphs out of it, strung them together, and published it by separate
articles in the serials. My name failed to be added to the British
Museum Catalogue; but that circumstance is, at the present time, a
matter of no regret whatever.

When done with the war I took to story-writing, using many
half-forgotten incidents of American police-reporting, of border
warfare, of the development of civilization among the pioneers, of
thraldom in the South, and the gold search on the Pacific. The majority
of these travelled across the water, and were republished. And when
America, in the garb of either fact or fiction, lost novelty, I entered
the wide field of miscellaneous literature among a thousand competitors.

An author's ticket to the British Museum Reading-room put the whole
world so close around me that I could touch it everywhere. I never
entered the noble rotunda of that vast collection without an emotion of
littleness and awe. Lit only from the roof, it reminded me of the Roman
Pantheon; and truly all the gods whom I had worshipped sat, not in
statue, but in substance, along its radiating tables, or trod its
noiseless floors. Half the literature of our language flows from thence.
One may see at a glance grave naturalists knee-deep in ichthyological
tomes, or buzzing over entomology; pale zealots copying Arabic
characters, with the end to rebuild Bethlehem or the ruins of Mecca;
biographers gloating over some rare original letter; periodical writers
filching from two centuries ago for their next "new" article. The
Marquis of Lansdowne is dead; you may see the _Times_ reporter yonder
running down the events of his career. Poland is in arms again, and the
clever compiler farther on means to make twenty pounds out of it by
summing up her past risings and ruins. The bruisers King and Mace fought
yesterday, and the plodding person close by from _Bell's Life_ is
gleaning their antecedents. Half the _literati_ of our age do but like
these bind the present to the past. A great library diminishes the
number of thinkers; the grand fountains of philosophy and science ran
before types were so facile or letters became a trade.

The novelty of this life soon wore away, and I found myself the creature
of no romance, but plodding along a prosy road with very practical
people.

I carried my MSS. into Paternoster Row like anybody's book-keeper, and
accused the world of no particular ingratitude that it could not read my
name with my articles, and that it gave itself no concern to discover
me. Yet there was a private pleasure in the congeniality of my labor,
and in the consciousness that I could float upon my quill even in this
vast London sea. Once or twice my articles went across the Channel and
returned in foreign dress. I wonder if I shall ever again feel the
thrill of that first recognition of my offspring coming to my knee with
their strange French prattle.

I was not uniformly successful, but, if rejected, my MSS. were
courteously returned, with a note from the editor. As a sample I give
the following. The original is a lithographed fac-simile of the
handwriting of Mr. Dickens, printed in blue ink, the date and the title
of the manuscript being in another handwriting.

     OFFICE OF "ALL THE YEAR ROUND."

     A WEEKLY JOURNAL CONDUCTED BY CHARLES DICKENS.


                     NO. 26 WELLINGTON STREET, STRAND, LONDON, W. C.
                                                 _January 27, 1863._


 Mr. Charles Dickens begs to thank the writer of the paper entitled
 "A Battle Sunday" for having done him the favor to offer it as a
 contribution to these pages. He much regrets, however, that it is
 not suited to the requirements of "All the Year Round."

 The manuscript will be returned, under cover, if applied for as
 above.

The prices of miscellaneous articles in London are remunerative.
Twenty-four shillings a magazine page is the common valuation: but
specially interesting papers rate higher. Literature as a profession, in
England, is more certain and more progressive than with us. It is not
debased with the heavy leaven of journalism. Among the many serial
publications of London, ability, tact, and industry should always find a
liberal market. There is less of the vagrancy of letters,--Bohemianism,
Mohicanism, or what not,--in London than in either New York or Paris.

I think we have the cleverer fugitive writers in America, but those of
England seemed to me to have more self-respect and conscientiousness.
The soul of the scribe need never be in pledge if there are many
masters.

While a good writer in any department can find work across the water, I
would advise no one to go abroad with this assurance solely. My
success--if so that can be called which yielded me life, not
profit--was circumstantial, and cannot be repeated. I should be loth to
try it again upon purely literary merits.

After nine months of experiment I bade the insular metropolis adieu, and
returned no more. The Continent was close and beckoning; I heard the
confusion of her tongues, and saw the shafts of her Gothic Babels
probing the clouds, and for another year I roamed among her cities, as
ardent and errant as when I went afield on my pony to win the spurs of a
War Correspondent.



CHAPTER XXVII.

SPURS IN THE PICTURE GALLERIES.


Florence, city of my delight! how do I thrill at the recollection of the
asylum afforded me by thee in the Via Parione. The room was tiled, and
cool, and high, and its single window looked out upon a real palace,
where the family of Corsini, presided over by a porter in cocked hat and
an exuberance of gold lace, gave me frequent glimpses of gauze dresses
and glorious eyes, whose owners sometimes came to the casement to watch
the poor little foreigner, writing so industriously.

Every young traveller has two or three subjects of unrest. Mine were
girls and art. The copyists in the galleries were more beautiful studies
to me than the paintings. The next time I go to Europe, I shall take
enough money along to give all the pretty ones an order; this will be an
introduction, and I shall know how they live, and how much money they
make, and what passions have heaved their beautiful bosoms, to make
their slow, quiet lives forever haunted and longing.

Love, love! There are only two grand, unsatiated passions, which keep us
forever in freshness and fever,--love and art.

In Italy I breathed the purest atmosphere; all the world was a
landscape picture; all the skies were spilling blueness and crimson
upon the mountains; all the faces were Madonnas; all the perspectives
were storied architecture. Westward the star of Empire takes its way,
but that of art shines steadily in the East. Thither look our American
young men, no matter at which of its altars they make their
devotions,--painting, sculpture, or architecture. And I, who had known
some fondness for the pencil till lured into the wider, wilder field of
letters, felt almost an artist's joy when I stood in the presence of
those solemn masters whose works are inspired and imperishable, like
religion.

Having passed the first thrill and disappointment,--for pure art speaks
only to the pure by intuition or initiation, and I was yet a novice,--my
old newspaper curiosity revived to learn of the successful living rather
than of the grand dead.

Correspondents, like poets, are born, not made: the venerable
associations around me--monuments, cloisters, palaces, the homes and
graves of great men whom I revered, the aisles where every canvas bore a
spell name--could not wean me from that old, reportorial habit of asking
questions, peeping into private nooks, and making notes upon
contemporary things, just as I had done for three years, in cities, on
routes, on battle-fields. And as the old world seemed to me only a great
art museum, I longed to look behind the tapestry at the Ghobelin
weavers, pulling the beautiful threads.

"Where dwell these gay and happy students, who quit our hard, bright
skies, and land of angularities, to inhale the dews of these sedative
mosses, and, by attrition with masterpieces, glean something of the
spirit of the masters?"

Straightway the faery realm opened to me, and two months of Italian
rambling were spent in association with the folk I esteemed only less
than my own exemplars.

Art, in all ages, is the flowery way. No pursuit gives so great joy in
the achieving, none achieved yields higher meed of competence,
contentment, and repute. Its ambition is more genial and subdued than
that of literature, its rivalry more courteous and exalting; its daily
life should be pastoral and domestic, free from those feverish mutations
and adventures which cross the incipient author, and it is forever
surrounded by bright and beautiful objects which linger too long upon
the eye to stir the mind to more than emulation.

Is it harsh to say that artists have been too well rewarded, and
thinkers and writers too ill? Vasari dines at the ducal table, while
Galileo's pension is the rack; the mob which carries Cimabue's canvas in
triumph, drives Dante into exile; Rubens is a king's ambassador, and
Grotius is sent to jail; to Reynolds's levees, poor, bankrupt Goldsmith
steals like an unwelcome guest, and Apelles's gold is paid to him in
measures, while Homer, singing immortal lines, goes blind and begging.

Art students take rank in Italy among the best of travellers, but
Bohemianism in art is at one's peril. There are many wasted lives among
the clever fellows who go abroad ostensibly for study. I recall Jimman,
who was an expert with the pencil, and who colored with excellent
discrimination. He went to Dusseldorf at first, and became known to
Leutze, who praised his sketches. He began to associate at once with
students and tipplers, and dissipated less by drinking than by talking.
I have a theory that more men are lost to themselves and the age by a
love of "gabbing" than by drinking. It is not hard to eschew cognac and
claret, but there is no cure for "buzzing." There is a drunkenness of
talk which takes possession of one, and Jimman would have had the
_delirium tremens_ in a week, with nobody to listen to him. To my mind
the Trappiste takes the severest of monastic vows.

Jimman used to rise in the morning betimes, full of inflexible
resolution. Having stretched his canvas, and carefully prepared his
pigments, he went to breakfast, pondering great achievements. Here he
fell in with a lot of Germans,--the most incurable race of gossipers in
the world,--and while they discussed, in a learned way, every subject
under the sun, the meal extended into the afternoon, and Jimman
concluded that it was then too late to undertake anything. In this way
his ambition burnt away, his money was squandered, he lost facility of
manipulation, and came back to Paris at the age of twenty-eight, to
pursue the same listless, garrulous existence; debts and grisettes,
buzzing and brandy, the utterance of resolves which expired in the
utterance, and Jimman finally became, perforce, a common apprentice to a
moulder, that he might not entirely starve.

I saw him, for the last time, in the Louvre, looking at Zurbaran's
"Kneeling Monk."

"Ah, Townsend," he said, "I might have done something like that. All my
zeal is gone."

And he began to chat in the same loose, familiar way. Dumbness and
deafness would have been endowments rather than deprivations for him.

I had rooms in Florence with Gypsum and Stagg. The former was a young,
industrious fellow, of German descent, who worked hard, but not wisely.
He spent half a year in copying a face by Paul Veronese, and the other
half in sketching an old convent yard. But he did not visit, and an
artist, to get orders and take rank, must be seen as well as be earnest.
He need not be hail-fellow, but should keep well in the circle of
respectable travellers; for these are to be his patrons, if he pleases
them. Gypsum was over-modest and too conscientious; he had only a trifle
of money, and was careless of his attire. So he disregarded society, and
society forgot him. Therefore, at dawn, he betook himself to the old
convent-yard, and stood at his easel bravely, never so unhappy as when
one of the church's innumerable holy days arrived, for then he was
forbidden to work upon the convent premises. With all his
conscientiousness he received no orders; while Stagg, who was not more
clever, proportioned to his longer experience, was befriended on every
hand, because he went to the American chapel regularly and wore a
dress-coat at the sociables.

Stagg used the old studio of Buchanan Read, just off the Via Seragli.

I stumbled upon him one morning, and saw more than I anticipated.

A young, plump girl, without so much as a fig-leaf upon her, was posing
before his easel, so motionless that she scarcely winked, one hand
extended and clasping her loosened tresses, and bending upon one white
and dimpled knee.

She had the large dark eyes of the professional _modello_, and a bosom
as ripe as Titian's Venus. Her feet were small, and her hands very white
and beautiful. But of me she took no more notice than if I had been a
bird alighting upon the window, or a mouse peeping at her from the edge
of his knot-hole.

Old Stagg, who was commonly grave as a clergyman, now and then left his
easel to alter her position, and when he was done, she gathered up her
clothes, which had lain in a heap on the floor, and took her few silver
pieces with a "_Mille grazie, Signore!_" and went home to take dinner
with her little brothers.

A studio in Florence costs only fifteen or twenty francs a
month,--seldom so much. There are a series of excellent ones in the same
Via Seragli, in a very large dismantled convent. There is a well in the
centre of its great courtyard, and innumerable ropes lead from it to the
various high windows of the building, on which buckets of water are
forever ascending. All this of which I speak refers to a year ago, when
Florence was not a capital; doubtless, studios command more at present.

The models at Florence were to me strange personages. There was a
drawing-school which I sometimes attended, where one old woman kept
three daughters, aged respectively twenty, seventeen, and thirteen
years. They lived pretty much as they were born, and while they posed
upon a high platform, the old woman took her seat near the door and
looked on with grim satisfaction. She was very careful of their moral
habits, but the second one she lost by an excess of greed. She resolved
to make them useful by day, as well as by night, and put them to work at
the studios of individual artists. But as no one artist wanted three
models, the girls had to separate, and, out of the mother's vigilance,
the second one, Orsolo, went to the atelier of a wicked and handsome
fellow, and met with the usual romance of her class.

The oldest girl, Luigia, married a man-model, and their nuptials must
have been of a most prosaic character.

Among the many men who thus stood for the artists, was one old fellow,
tall, and bearded, and massively characterized, who used to remain
motionless for hours; until he seemed to be dead. He had been a model in
every stage of life, from childhood to the grave, and represented every
subject from Garibaldi to Moses.

The walks in and around Florence occupied all my Sabbaths. Stagg and I
used to stroll up to Fiesole, by the villa where Boccaccio's party of
story-tellers met, and look up old pictures in the village church; we
measured the proportions of the chapel on the hill of Saint Miniato, and
he endeavored in vain to imitate the hue of the light as it fell through
the veined marble of Serravezza; we spent contemplative afternoons in
the house of Michael Angelo, and went up to Vallambrosa, at the risk of
our necks, to look at a Giotto no bigger than a tea-plate. In Florence
there is enough out-of-door statuary to make one of the finest galleries
in the world. The majesty of Donatello's "Saint George" arises before me
when I would conceive of any noble humanity, and the sweep of Orgagna's
great arches give me an idea of vastness like the sea; in the Pitti
palace only giants should abide; the Campanile goes up to heaven as
beautiful as Jacob's ladder, and in the perpetual twilight of the Duomo
I was not of half the stature I believed when roaming under the loftier
sky.

I saw a jail in Florence, and it troubled me; who in that beautiful city
could do a crime? How should old age, or bad passions, or sickness, or
shame, exist in that limpid atmosphere, in the shadow of such
architecture, in the presence of those pictures?



CHAPTER XXVIII.

A CORRESPONDENT ONCE MORE.


Again on the way to Washington! I have made the trip more than sixty
times. I saw the Gunpowder Bridge in flames when Baltimore was in arms
and the Capital cut off from the North. I saw from Perryville the State
flag of Maryland waving at Havre de Grace across the Susquehanna. I saw
at the Washington Navy Yard the blackened body of Ellsworth, manipulated
by the surgeons. I moved through the city with McClellan's onward army
toward the transports which were to carry it to the Peninsula. The awful
tidings of the seven days' retreat came first through the Capital in my
haversack, and before Stonewall Jackson fell upon the flank of Pope, I
crossed the Long Bridge with the story of the disaster of Cedar
Mountain. In like manner the crowning glory of Five Forks made me its
earliest emissary, and the murder of the President brought me hot from
Richmond to participate in the pursuit of Booth and chronicle his
midnight expiation.

Again am I on the way to the city of centralization, to paint by
electricity the closing scenes of the conspirators, and, as I pass the
Pennsylvania line, the recollection of those frequent pilgrimages--pray
God this be the last!--comes upon me like the sequences of delirium.

As I look abroad upon the thrifty fields and the rich glebe of the
ploughman, I wonder if the revolutions of peace are not as sweeping and
sudden as those of war. He who wrote the certain downfall of this
Nation, did not keep his eye upon the steadily ascending dome of the
capitol, nor remark, during the thunders of Gettysburg, the as energetic
stroke of the pile-drivers upon the piers of the great Susquehanna
bridge. We built while we desolated. No fatalist convert to Mohammed had
so sure faith in the eternity of his institutions. More masonry has been
laid along the border during the war than in any five previous years. We
have finished the Treasury, raised the bronze gates on the Capitol,
double-railed all the roads between New York and the Potomac, and gone
on as if architecture were imperishable, while thrice the Rebels swept
down toward the Relay.

And we have done one strategic thing, which, I think, will compare with
the passing of Vicksburg or the raid of Sherman; we have turned
Philadelphia.

This modern Pompeii used to be the stumbling-block on the great highway.
It was to the direct Washington route what Hell-gate was to the Sound
Channel. We were forbidden the right of way through it, on the ground
that by retarding travel Philadelphia would gain trade, and had to cross
the Delaware on a scow, or lay up in some inn over night. New Jerseymen,
I hear, pray every morning for their daily stranger; Philadelphia has
much sinned to entrap its daily customer. But Maillefert--by which name
I designate the inevitable sledge which spares the grand and pulverizes
the little--has built a road around the Quaker City. It is a very
curious road, going by two hypothenuses of about fifteen miles to make a
base of three or four, so that we lose an hour on the way to the
Capital, all because of Philadelphia's overnight toil.

The bridge at Perryville will be one of the staunchest upon our
continent: the forts around Baltimore make the outlying landscapes
scarcely recognizable to the returning Maryland Rebels. At last,--woe be
the necessity! we have garrisoned our cities. The Relay House is the
most picturesque spot between the two foci of the country. Wandering
through the woods, I see the dirty blouses of the remnant of "the boys"
and the old abatis on the height looks sunburnt and rusty; away through
the gorge thunders the Baltimore and Ohio train, over what ruins and
resurrections, torn up a hundred times, and as obstinately relaid, until
all its engineers are veteran officers, and can stand fire both of the
furnace and the musket. Everybody in the country is a veteran; the
contractor, who ran his schooner of fodder past the Rebel batteries; the
correspondent, whose lean horse slipped through the crevices of dropping
shells; the teamster, who whipped his mule out of the mud-hole, while
his ammunition wagon behind grew hot with the heaviness of battle; the
old farmer, who took to his cellar while the fight raged in his
chimneys, but ventured out between the bayonet charges to secure his
fatted calf.

Annapolis Junction has still the sterile guise of the campaign, where
the hills are bare around the hospitals, and the railway taverns are
whittled to skeletons. I have really seen whole houses, little more than
shells, reduced to meagreness by the pocket-knife. The name of almost
everybody on the continent is cut somewhere in the South; Virginia has
more than enough names carved over her fireside altars to inscribe upon
all her multitudinous graves.

There are close to the city fine bits of landscape, where the fields dip
gracefully into fertile basins, and rise in swells of tilled fields and
orchard to some knoll, enthroning a porticoed home. Two years ago all
these fields were quagmires, where stranded wheels and the carcasses of
hybrids, looked as if a mud-geyser had opened near by. The grass has
spread its covering, as the birds spread their leaves over the poor
babes in the wood, and we walk we know not where, nor over what
struggles, and shadows, and sorrows.

I pity the army mule, though he never asked me for sympathy. Who ever
loved a mule? You can love a lion, and make him lick your hand: some
people love parrots, and owls; and I once knew a person who could catch
black snakes and carry them lovingly in his bosom; but I never knew a
beloved mule. Yet this war has been fought and won by hybrids. They have
pulled us out of ruts and fed us, and starved for us. The mule is the
great quartermaster. See him and his brethren yonder in
corral,--miserable veterans of no particular race, slab-sided, and
capable of holding ink between their ribs. They mounch, and mounch, and
wear the same stolid eye which you have seen under the driver's lash,
and in the vaulting moment of victory. No stunning receptions greet
them, no cheers and banquets when Muley comes marching home; over at
_Giesboro_ they come in crippled, die by the musket without a murmur,
and are immediately boiled down and forgotten.

I was once beaten by a rival correspondent upon a prominent battle, by
riding a mule with my despatches. He walked into a mud-puddle just half
way between the field and the post-office, and stopped there till
morning.

Here we are, at Washington. I have been in most of the cities of Europe:
some of them have dirty suburbs, but the first impression of the Capitol
City is dreary in the extreme; a number of the lost tribes have
established booths contiguous to the terminus, wherein the filthiest
people in the world eat the filthiest dishes; a man's sense of
cleanliness vanishes when he enters the District of Columbia. I have
been astonished to remark how greatness loses its stature here. Mr.
Charles Sumner is a handsome man on Broadway or Beacon Street, but
eating dinner at Thompson's, his shoulders seem to narrow and his fine
face to grow commonplace.

Above the squalid wideness of ungraded streets and the waste of shanties
propped upon poles above abysses of vacant lots, where two drunken
soldiers are pummelling each other, towers the marvellous dome with its
airy genius firmly planted above, like the ruins of Palmyra above
contemporary meanness. Moving up the streets, in dust and mud-puddle,
you see shabbily ambitious churches, with wooden towers; hotels, the
curbs whereof are speckled with human blemishes, sustaining like
hip-shotten caryatides the sandstone-wooden columns. Within there is a
pandemonium of legs in the air, and an agglomeration of saliva, ending
with an impertinent clerk and two crescents of lazy waiters, who shy
whisks, and are ambitious to run superfluous errands, for the warrant to
rob you. Of people, you see squads; of residents, none. The public
edifices have not picked their company, neither have the public
functionaries. There is a quantity of vulgar statuary lying around,
horses standing on their tails, and impossible Washingtons imbedded in
arm-chairs; but the noble facade of the treasury always suggests to me
Couture's great picture of the Decadence, where, under a pure colonnade,
some tipplers are carousing. If we are to have statues at the Capital,
let us make them with uplifted hands, and shame upon their grave,
contemplative faces.

Shall we ever make Washington the representative Capital of the country?

Certainly all efforts to improve the site worthy of the seat of gigantic
legislation have hitherto failed. The sword and the malaria have
attacked it. Every year sees the President driven from his Mansion by
pestilential vapors, and the sanitary condition of the city is
extraordinarily bad. The carcasses of slain horses at Giesboro send
their effluvia straight into Washington on the wind, and the "Island,"
or that part of the city between the river and the canal, is dangerous
almost all the year.

Moreover, the entire river front of the city seems to be untenable,
except for negroes; the Washington monument stands on the yielding plain
in the rear of the Chief Magistrate's, a stunted ruin, finding no
foundation; and much of the great Capital reserve near by, would be a
dead weight, if any effort were made to dispose it of, as building lots.
The small portion of Washington lying upon Capitol Hill, is the most
salubrious and covetable; but it is a lonesome journey by night around
the Capitol grounds to the city. The finest residences lie north of the
President's house, but the number of these grows apace, and the quantity
of capital invested in private real estate, remains almost stationary.

We recall but two or three citizens of Washington who have spent their
money on the spot where they have made it. Corcoran was the most
generous; he erected a museum of art, and Government has made it a
Commissary depot! But how few of the illustrious Senators, Chief
Justices, Generals, etc., who draw their sustenance from the Capital,
care a penny to decorate it? Compare the home of Governor Sprague on 6th
Street, to his splendid mansion at Providence, or the Club House of the
Secretary of State, to his place at Auburn. Washington has power, but it
cannot attract. It is the solitary monarch, at whose feet all kneel, but
by none beloved. Strangers repair to it, grow rich, and quit it with
their earnings. Government works nobly to imitate the Palaces of the
Cæsars, and the public edifices leave our municipal structures far
beneath, but these marble and granite piles seem to mock the littleness
of individual ambition. Two hotels have been built during the war, both
of the caravansary class, but the city, for four years, has been
miserably incompetent to entertain its guests, or to command their
respect.

Washington, to be a city, lacks three elements--commerce,
representation, health; the environs are picturesque, and the new forts
on the hill-tops little injure the landscape.

But the question is not premature, whether Washington city will ever
answer the purposes of a stable seat of government, and reflect the
enterprise, patriotism, and taste of the American people.

I have sometimes thought that these huge public buildings,--now
inadequate to accommodate the machinery of the Government,--would, at
some future day, be the nucleus of a great _lycee_, and that Washington
would become the Padua of the Republic, its University and Louvre, while
legislation and administration, despairing of giving dignity to the
place, would depart for a more congenial locality.

At any rate, the old Federal theory of a sylvan seat of government has
failed.

For a sequestered and virtuous retreat of legislation, we have
corruption augmented by dirt, and business stagnation aggravated by
disease. There are virtues in the town; but these must be searched for,
and the vices are obvious.



CHAPTER XXIX.

FIVE FORKS.


I commence my account on the battle-field, but must soon make the long
and lonely ride to Humphrey's Station, where I shall continue it.

I am sitting by Sheridan's camp-fire, on the spot he has just signalized
by the most individual and complete victory of the war. All his veterans
are around him, stooping by knots over the bright fagots, to talk
together, or stretched upon the leaves of the forest, asleep, with the
stains of powder yet upon their faces. There are dark masses of horses
blackened into the gray background, and ambulances are creaking to and
fro. I hear the sobs and howls of the weary, and note, afar off, among
the pines, moving lights of burying parties, which are tumbling the
slain into the trenches. A cowed and shivering silence has succeeded the
late burst of drums, trumpets, and cannon; the dead are at rest; the
captives are quiet; the good cause has won again, and I shall try to
tell you how.

Many months ago the Army of the Potomac stopped before Petersburg,
driven out of its direct course to Richmond. It tried the Dutch Gap and
the powder-ship, and shelled and shovelled till Sherman had cut five
States in half, and only timid financiers, sutlers, and congressional
excursionists paid the least attention to the armies on the James. We
had fights without much purpose at our breastworks, and at Hatcher's
Run, but the dashing achievements of Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley
overtopped all our dull infantry endeavors, and he shared with Sherman
the entire applause of the country. No one knows but that behind these
actors stood the invisible prompter, Grant; yet prompters, however
assiduous, never divide applauses with the _dramatis personæ_; and
therefore, when Sheridan, the other day, by one of those slashing
adventures which hold us breathless, appeared on the Pamunkey and
crossed the peninsula to City Point, even the armies of the Potomac and
James were agitated. The _personnel_ of the man, not less than his
renown, affected people. A very Punch of soldiers, a sort of Rip Van
Winkle in regimentals, it astonished folks, that with so jolly and
grotesque a guise, he held within him energies like lightning, the bolts
of which had splintered the fairest parts of the border. But nobody
credited General Sheridan with higher genius than activity; we expected
to hear of him scouring the Carolina boundary, with the usual
destruction of railways and mills, and therefore said at once that
Sheridan would cut the great Southside road. But in this last chapter
Sheridan must take rank as one of the finest military men of our
century. The battle of "Five Forks" was, perhaps, the most ingeniously
conceived and skilfully executed that we have ever had on this
continent. It matches in secretiveness and shrewdness the cleverest
efforts of Napoleon, and shows also much of that soldier's broadness of
intellect and capacity for great occasions.

Sheridan had scarcely time to change his horses' shoes before he was
off, and after him much of our infantry also moved to the left. We
passed our ancient breastworks at Hatcher's Run, and extended our lines
southwestward till they touched Dinwiddie Court House, thirty miles from
City Point. The Rebels fell back with but little skirmishing, until we
faced northward and reached out toward their idolized Southside Railway;
then they grew uneasy, and, as a hint of their opposition, fought us the
sharp battle of Quaker Road on Thursday. Still, we reached farther and
farther, marvelling to find that, with his depleted army, Lee always
overmatched us at every point of attack; but on Friday we quitted our
intrenchments on the Boydtown plank-road, and made a bold push for the
White Oak road. This is one of the series of parallel public ways
running east and west, south of the Southside, the Vaughan road being
the first, the Boydtown plank-road the second, and the old Court-House
road the third. It became evident to the Rebels that we had two direct
objects in view: the severing of their railway, and the occupation of
the "Five Forks." The latter is a magnificent strategic point. Five good
roads meet in the edge of a dry, high, well-watered forest, three of
them radiating to the railway, and their tributaries unlocking all the
country. Farther south, their defences had been paltry, but they
fortified this empty solitude as if it had been their capital. Upon its
principal road, the "White Oak," aforenamed, they had a ditched
breastwork with embrasures of logs and earth, reaching east and west
three miles, and this was covered eastward and southeastward by
rifle-pits, masked works, and felled timber; the bridges approaching it
were broken; all the roads picketed, and a desperate resolve to hold to
it averred. This point of "Five Forks" may be as much as eight miles
from Dinwiddie Court House, four from the Southside road, and eighteen
from Humphrey's, the nearest of our military railway stations. A crooked
stream called Gravelly Run, which, with Hatcher's, forms Rowanty Creek,
and goes off to feed the Chowan in North Carolina, rises near "Five
Forks," and gives the name of Gravelly Run Church to a little Methodist
meeting-house, built in the forest a mile distant. That meeting-house is
a hospital to-night, running blood, and at "Five Forks" a victor's
battle-flags are flying.

The Fifth Army Corps of General Warren, has had all of the flank
fighting of the week to do. It lost five or six hundred men in its
victory of Thursday, and on Friday rested along the Boydtown plank-road,
at the house of one Butler, chiefly, which is about seven miles from
Five Forks. On Friday morning, General Ayres took the advance with one
of its three divisions, and marched three-quarters of a mile beyond the
plank-road, through a woody country, following the road, but crossing
the ubiquitous Gravelly Run, till he struck the enemy in strong force a
mile and a half below White Oak road. They lay in the edge of a wood,
with a thick curtain of timber in their front, a battery of field-pieces
to the right, mounted in a bastioned earthwork, and on the left the
woods drew near, encircling a little farm-land and negro-buildings.
General Ayres's skirmish-line being fired upon, did not stand, but fell
back upon his main column, which advanced at the order. Straightway the
enemy charged headlong, while their battery opened a cross fire, and
their skirmishers on our left, creeping down through the woods, picked
us off in flank. They charged with a whole division, making their
memorable yell, and soon doubled up Ayres's line of battle, so that it
was forced in tolerable disorder back upon General Crawford, who
commanded the next division. Crawford's men do not seem to have
retrieved the character of their predecessors, but made a feint to go
in, and, falling by dozens beneath the murderous fire, gave up the
ground. Griffin's division, past which the fugitives ran, halted awhile
before taking the doubtful way; the whole corps was now back to the
Boydtown plank-road, and nothing had been done to anybody's credit
particularly.

General Griffin rode up to General Chamberlain in this extremity.
Chamberlain is a young and anxious officer, who resigned the
professorship of modern languages in Bowdoin College to embrace a
soldier's career. He had been wounded the day before, but was zealous to
try death again.

"Chamberlain," said Griffin, "can't you save the honor of the Fifth
corps?"

The young General formed his men at once,--they had tasted powder
before,--the One Hundred and eighty-fifth New York and the One Hundred
and ninety-eighth Pennsylvania. Down they went into the creek waist
deep, up the slope and into the clearing, muskets to the left of them,
muskets in front of them, cannon to the right of them; but their pace
was swift, like their resolve; many of them were cut down, yet they kept
ahead, and the Rebels, who seemed astonished at their own previous
success, drew off and gave up the field. Almost two hours had elapsed
between the loss and the recovery of the ground. The battle might be
called Dabney's Farm, or more generally the fight of Gravelly Run. The
brigades of Generals Bartlett and Gregory rendered material assistance
in the pleasanter finale of the day. An order was soon after issued to
hasten the burial of the dead and quit the spot, but Chamberlain
petitioned for leave to charge the Rebel earthwork in the rear, and the
enthusiasm of his brigade bore down General Warren's more prudent doubt.
In brief, Griffin's division charged the fort, drove the Rebels out of
it, and took position on the White Oak road, far east of Five Forks.
While Griffin's division must be credited with this result, it may be
said that their luck was due as much to the time as the manner of their
appearance; the Rebel divisions of Pickett and Bushrod Johnston were, in
the main, by the time Griffin came up, on their way westward to attack
Sheridan's cavalry. Ayres and Crawford had charged as one to four, but
the forces were quite equalized when Chamberlain pushed on. The corps
probably lost twelve hundred men. In this action, the Rebels, for the
first time for many weeks, exhibited all their traditional
irresistibility and confidence. The merit of the affair, I am inclined
to think, should be awarded to them; but a terrible retribution remained
for them in the succeeding day's decrees.

The ill success of the earlier efforts of Sheridan, show conclusively
the insufficiency of ever so good cavalry to resist well organized and
resolute infantry. Concentrating at Dinwiddie Court House, he proceeded
to scour so much of the country that he almost baffled conjecture as to
where his quarters really were. As many thousand cavalry as constitute
his powerful force seem magnified, thus mounted and ever moving here and
there, to an incredible number. The Court House, where he remained
fittingly for a couple of days, is a cross-road's patch, numbering about
twelve scattered buildings, with a delightful prospect on every side of
sterile and monotonous pines. This is, I believe, the largest village in
the district, though Dinwiddie stands fourth in population among
Virginia counties. At present there is almost as great a population
underground as the ancient county carried on its census. Indeed, one is
perplexed at every point to know whence the South draws its prodigious
armies. Some English officers have been visiting Dinwiddie during the
week, and one of them said, curtly: "Blast the country! it isn't worth
such a row, you know. A very good place to be exiled, to be sure, but
what can you ever make of it!"

This soulless Briton had never read any of the poems about the
"boundless continent," and had no distinct conception of "size."

From Dinwiddie fields, Sheridan's men went galloping, by the aid of maps
and cross-examination, into every by-road; but it was soon apparent that
the Rebel infantry meant to give them a push. This came about on Friday,
with a foretaste on Thursday.

Little Five Forks, is a cross-road not far from Dinwiddie Court House,
in the direction of Petersburg. Big Five Forks, which, it must be borne
in mind, gives name to the great battle of Saturday, is farther out by
many miles, and does not lie within our lines. But, if the left of the
army be at Dinwiddie, and the right at Petersburg, Little Five Forks
will be first on the front line, though when Sheridan fought there, it
was neutral ground, picketed but not possessed. Very early in the week,
when the Rebels became aware of the extension of our lines, they added
to the regular force which encamped upon our flank line at least a
division of troops. These were directed to avoid an infantry fight, but
to seek out the cavalry, and, by getting it at disadvantage, rid the
region both of the harmfulness of Sheridan, and that prestige of his
name, so terrifying to the Virginia house-wife. So long as Sheridan
remained upon the far left, the Southside road was unsafe, and the
rapidity with which his command could be transferred from point to point
rendered it a formidable balance of power. The Rebels knew the country
well, and the peculiar course of the highways gave them every advantage.
The cavalry of Sheridan's army proper, is divided into two corps,
commanded by Generals Devin and Custer; the cavalry of the Potomac is
commanded by General Crook; Mackenzie has control of the cavalry of the
James. On Friday, these were under separate orders, and the result was
confusion. The infantry was beaten at Gravelly Run, and the cavalry met
in flank and front by overwhelming numbers, executed some movements not
laid down in the manual. The centre of the battle was Little Five Forks,
though the Rebels struck us closer to Dinwiddie Court House, and drove
us pell mell up the road into the woods, and out the old Court House
road to Gravelly Run. We rallied several times, and charged them into
the woods, but they lay concealed in copses, and could go where sabres
were useless. The plan of this battle-field will show a series of
irregular advances to puzzle anybody but a cavalry-man. The full
division of Bushrod Johnston and General Pickett, were developed against
us, with spare brigades from other corps. Our cavalry loss during the
day was eight hundred in killed and wounded; but we pushed the Rebels so
hard that they gave us the field, falling back toward Big Five Forks,
and we intrenched immediately. Two thousand men comprise our losses of
Friday in Warren's corps and Sheridan's command, including many valuable
officers. We shall see how, under a single guidance, splendid results
were next day obtained with half the sacrifice.

On Friday night General Grant, dissatisfied, like most observers, with
the day's business, placed General Sheridan in the supreme command of
the whole of Warren's corps and all the cavalry. General Warren reported
to him at nightfall, and the little army was thus composed:--

_General Sheridan's Forces, Saturday April 1, 1865._

Three divisions of infantry, under Generals Griffin, Ayres, and
Crawford.

Two divisions of cavalry, formerly constituting the Army of the
Shenandoah, now commanded by General Merritt, under Generals Devin and
Custer.

One division cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, under General Crook.

Brigade or more cavalry Army of the James, under General Mackenzie.

In this composition the infantry was to the cavalry in the proportion of
about two to one, and the entire force a considerable army, far up in
the teens. Sheridan was absolute, and his oddly-shaped body began to bob
up and down straightway; he visited every part of his line, though it
stretched from Dinwiddie Court House to the Quaker road, along the
Boydtown Plank and its adjuncts. At daybreak on Saturday he fired four
signal-guns, to admonish Warren he was off; and his cavalry, by
diverging roads, struck their camps. Just south of Culpepper is a
certain Stony creek, the tributaries to which wind northward and control
the roads. Over Stony creek went Crook, making the longest detour.
Custer took a bottom called Chamberlain's bed; and Devin advanced from
Little Five Forks, the whole driving the Rebels toward the left of their
works on White Oak road.

We must start with the supposition that our own men far outnumbered the
Rebels. The latter were widely separated from their comrades before
Petersburg, and the adjustment of our infantry as well as the great
movable force at Sheridan's disposal, renders it doubtful that they
could have returned. At any rate they did not do so, whether from choice
or necessity, and it was a part of our scheme to push them back into
their entrenchments. This work was delegated to the cavalry entirely,
but, as I have said before, mounted carbineers, are no match for
stubborn, bayoneted infantry. So when the horsemen were close up to the
Rebels, they were dismounted, and acted as infantry to all intents. A
portion of them, under Gregg and Mackenzie, still adhered to the saddle,
that they might be put in rapid motion for flanking and charging
purposes; but fully five thousand indurated men, who had seen service in
the Shenandoah and elsewhere, were formed in line of battle on foot, and
by charge and deploy essayed the difficult work of pressing back the
entire Rebel column. This they were to do so evenly and ingeniously,
that the Rebels should go no farther than their works, either to escape
eastward or to discover the whereabouts of Warren's forces, which were
already forming. Had they espied the latter they might have become so
discouraged as to break and take to the woods; and Sheridan's object was
to capture them as well as to rout them. So, all the afternoon, the
cavalry pushed them hard, and the strife went on uninterruptedly and
terrifically. I have no space in this hurried despatch to advert either
to individual losses or to the many thrilling episodes of the fight. It
was fought at so close quarters that our carbines were never out of
range; for had this been otherwise, the long rifles of the enemy would
have given them every advantage. With their horses within call, the
cavalry-men, in line of battle, stood together like walls of stone,
swelling onward like those gradually elevating ridges of which Lyell
speaks. Now and then a detachment of Rebels would charge down upon us,
swaying the lines and threatening to annihilate us; for at no part of
the action, till its crisis, did the Southern men exhibit either doubt
or dismay, but fought up to the standard of the most valiant treason the
world has ever had, and here and there showing some of those wonderful
feats of individual courage which are the miracles of the time.

A colonel with a shattered regiment came down upon us in a charge. The
bayonets were fixed; the men came on with a yell; their gray uniforms
seemed black amidst the smoke; their preserved colors, torn by grape and
ball, waved yet defiantly; twice they halted, and poured in volleys, but
came on again like the surge from the fog, depleted, but determined;
yet, in the hot faces of the carbineers, they read a purpose as
resolute, but more calm, and, while they pressed along, swept all the
while by scathing volleys, a group of horsemen took them in flank. It
was an awful instant; the horses recoiled; the charging column trembled
like a single thing, but at once the Rebels, with rare organization,
fell into a hollow square, and with solid sheets of steel defied our
centaurs. The horsemen rode around them in vain; no charge could break
the shining squares, until our dismounted carbineers poured in their
volleys afresh, making gaps in the spent ranks, and then in their
wavering time the cavalry thundered down. The Rebels could stand no
more; they reeled and swayed, and fell back broken and beaten. And on
the ground their colonel lay, sealing his devotion with his life.

Through wood and brake and swamp, across field and trench, we pushed the
fighting defenders steadily. For a part of the time, Sheridan himself
was there, short and broad, and active, waving his hat, giving orders,
seldom out of fire, but never stationary, and close by fell the long
yellow locks of Custer, sabre extended, fighting like a Viking, though
he was worn and haggard with much work. At four o'clock the Rebels were
behind their wooden walls at Five Forks, and still the cavalry pressed
them hard, in feint rather than solemn effort, while a battalion
dismounted, charged squarely upon the face of their breastworks which
lay in the main on the north side of the White Oak road. Then, while the
cavalry worked round toward the rear, the infantry of Warren, though
commanded by Sheridan, prepared to take part in the battle.

The genius of Sheridan's movement lay in his disposition of the
infantry. The skill with which he arranged it, and the difficult
manoeuvres he projected and so well executed, should place him as high
in infantry tactics as he has heretofore shown himself superior in
cavalry. The infantry which had marched at 2½ P. M. from the house of
Boisseau, on the Boydtown plank-road, was drawn up in four battle lines,
a mile or more in length, and in the beginning facing the White Oak road
obliquely; the left or pivot was the division of General Ayres, Crawford
had the center and Griffin the right. These advanced from the Boydtown
plank-road, at ten o'clock, while Sheridan was thundering away with the
cavalry, mounted and dismounted, and deluding the Rebels with the idea
that he was the sole attacking party; they lay concealed in the woods
behind the Gravelly Run meeting-house, but their left was not a
half-mile distant from the Rebel works, though their right reached so
far off that a novice would have criticized the position sharply. Little
by little, Sheridan, extending his lines, drove the whole Rebel force
into their breastworks; then he dismounted the mass of his cavalry and
charged the works straight in the front, still thundering on their
flank. At last, every Rebel was safe behind his intrenchments. Then the
signal was given, and the concealed infantry, many thousand strong,
sprang up and advanced by eçhelon to the right. Imagine a great barndoor
shutting to, and you have the movement, if you can also imagine the door
itself, hinge and all, moving forward also. This was the door:--

     AYRES--CRAWFORD--GRIFFIN.

Stick a pin through Ayres and turn Griffin and Crawford forward as you
would a spoke in a wheel, but move your pin up also a very little. In
this way Ayres will advance, say half a mile, and Griffin, to describe a
quarter revolution, will move through a radius of four miles. But to
complicate this movement by eçhelon, we must imagine the right when half
way advanced cutting across the centre and reforming, while Crawford
became the right and Griffin the middle of the line of battle. Warren
was with Crawford on this march. Gregory commanded the skirmishers.
Ayres was so close to the Rebel left that he might be said to hinge upon
it; and at 6 o'clock the whole corps column came crash upon the full
flank of the astonished Rebels. Now came the pitch of the battle.

We were already on the Rebel right in force, and thinly in their rear.
Our carbineers were making feint to charge in direct front, and our
infantry, four deep, hemmed in their entire left. All this they did not
for an instant note, so thorough was their confusion; but seeing it
directly, they, so far from giving up, concentrated all their energy and
fought like fiends. They had a battery in position, which belched
incessantly, and over the breastworks their musketry made one unbroken
roll, while against Sheridan's prowlers on their left, by skirmish and
sortie, they stuck to their sinking fortunes, so as to win unwilling
applause from mouths of wisest censure.

It was just at the coming up of the infantry that Sheridan's little band
was pushed the hardest. At one time, indeed, they seemed about to
undergo extermination; not that they wavered, but that they were so
vastly overpowered. It will remain to the latest time a matter of marvel
that so paltry a cavalry force could press back sixteen thousand
infantry; but when the infantry blew like a great barndoor--the simile
best applicable--upon the enemy's left, the victory that was to come had
passed the region of strategy and resolved to an affair of personal
courage. We had met the enemy; were they to be ours? To expedite this
consummation every officer fought as if he were the forlorn hope.
Mounted on his black pony, the same which he rode at Winchester,
Sheridan galloped everywhere, his flushed face all the redder, and his
plethoric, but nervous figure all the more ubiquitous. He galloped once
straight down the Rebel front, with but a handful of his staff. A dozen
bullets whistled for him together; one grazed his arm, at which a
faithful orderly rode; the black pony leaped high, in fright, and
Sheridan was untouched, but the orderly lay dead in the field, and the
saddle dashed afar empty. General Warren rode with Crawford most of the
afternoon, mounted likewise, and making two or three narrow escapes. He
was dark, dashing, and individual as ever, but for some reason or other
was relieved of his command after the battle, and Griffin was instated
in his place. General Sheridan ordered Warren to report to General
Grant's head-quarters, sending the order by an aid. Warren, on his own
hook, did not meet on Friday with his general success, and on Saturday
Sheridan was the master-spirit; but Warren is a General as well as a
gentleman, and is only overshadowed by a greater genius,--not
obliterated. Ayres, accounted the best soldier in the Fifth corps, but
too quietly modest for his own favor, fought like a lion in this pitch
of battle, making all the faint-hearted around him ashamed to do ill
with such an example contiguous. General Bartlett, keen-faced and active
like a fiery scimitar, was leading his division as if he were an
immortal! He was closest at hand in the most gallant episodes, and held
at nightfall a bundle of captured battle-flags. But Griffin, tall and
slight, was the master-genius of the Fifth corps, to which by right he
has temporarily succeeded. He led the charge on the flank, and was the
first to mount the parapet with his horse, riding over the gunners as
May did at Cerro Gordo, and cutting them down. Bartlett's brigade,
behind him, finished the business, and the last cannon was fired for the
day against the conquering Federals. General Crawford fulfilled his
full share of duties throughout the day, amply sustained by such
splendid brigade commanders as Baxter, Coulter, and Kellogg, while Gwin
and Boweryman were at hand in the division of General Ayres; not to omit
the fallen Winthrop, who died to save a friend and win a new laurel.
What shall I say for Chamberlain, who, beyond all question, is the first
of our brigade commanders, having been the hero of both Quaker Road and
Gravelly Run, and in this action of Five Forks making the air ring with
the applauding huzzas of his soldiers, who love him? His is one of the
names that will survive the common wreck of shoulder-straps after the
war.

But I am individualizing; the fight, as we closed upon the Rebels, was
singularly free from great losses on our side, though desperate as any
contest ever fought on the continent. One prolonged roar of rifle shook
the afternoon; we carried no artillery, and the Rebel battery, until its
capture, raked us like an irrepressible demon, and at every foot of the
intrenchments a true man fought both in front and behind. The birds of
the forest fled afar; the smoke ascended to heaven; locked in so mad
frenzy, none saw the sequel of the closing day. Now Richmond rocked in
her high towers to watch the impending issue, but soon the day began to
look gray, and a pale moon came tremulously out to watch the meeting
squadrons. Imagine along a line of a full mile, thirty thousand men
struggling for life and prestige; the woods gathering about them--but
yesterday the home of hermit hawks and chipmonks--now ablaze with
bursting shells, and showing in the dusk the curl of flames in the
tangled grass, and, rising up the boles of the pine trees, the scaling,
scorching tongues. Seven hours this terrible spectacle had been enacted,
but the finale of it had almost come.

It was by all accounts in this hour of victory when the modest and brave
General Winthrop of the first brigade, Ayres division, was mortally
wounded. He was riding along the breastworks, and in the act as I am
assured, of saving a friend's life, was shot through to the left lung.
He fell at once, and his men, who loved him, gathered around and took
him tenderly to the rear, where he died before the stretcher on which he
lay could be deposited beside the meeting-house door. On the way from
the field to the hospital he wandered in mind at times, crying out,
"Captain Weaver how is that line? Has the attack succeeded?" etc. When
he had been resuscitated for a pause he said: "Doctor, I am done for."
His last words were: "Straighten the line!" And he died peacefully. He
was a cousin of Major Winthrop, the author of "Cecil Dreeme." He was
twenty-seven years of age. I had talked with him before going into
action, as he sat at the side of General Ayres, and was permitted by the
guard of honor to uncover his face and look upon it. He was pale and
beautiful, marble rather than corpse, and the uniform cut away from his
bosom showed how white and fresh was the body, so pulseless now.

General Griffin said to me: "This victory is not worth Winthrop's life."

Winthrop went into the service as a simple color-bearer. He died a
brevet brigadier.

At seven o'clock the Rebels came to the conclusion that they were
outflanked and whipped. They had been so busily engaged that they were a
long time finding out how desperate were their circumstances; but now,
wearied with persistent assaults in front, they fell back to the left,
only to see four close lines of battle waiting to drive them across the
field, decimated. At the right the horsemen charged them in their vain
attempt to fight "out," and in the rear straggling foot and cavalry
began also to assemble; slant fire, cross fire, and direct fire, by file
and volley rolled in perpetually, cutting down their bravest officers
and strewing the fields with bleeding men; groans resounded in the
intervals of exploding powder, and to add to their terror and despair,
their own artillery, captured from them, threw into their own ranks,
from its old position, ungrateful grape and canister, enfilading their
breastworks, whizzing and plunging by air line and ricochet, and at last
bodies of cavalry fairly mounted their intrenchments, and charged down
the parapet, slashing and trampling them, and producing inexplicable
confusion. They had no commanders, at least no orders, and looked in
vain for some guiding hand to lead them out of a toil into which they
had fallen so bravely and so blindly. A few more volleys, a new and
irresistible charge, a shrill and warning command to die or surrender,
and, with a sullen and tearful impulse, five thousand muskets are flung
upon the ground, and five thousand hot, exhausted, and impotent men are
Sheridan's prisoners of war.

Acting with his usual decision, Sheridan placed his captives in care of
a provost-guard, and sent them at once to the rear. Those which escaped,
he ordered the fiery Custer to pursue with brand and vengeance; and they
were pressed far into the desolate forest, spent and hungry, many
falling by the way of wounds or exhaustion, many pressed down by hoof or
sabre-stroke, and many picked up in mercy and sent back to rejoin their
brethren in bonds. We captured in all fully six thousand prisoners.
General Sheridan estimated them modestly at five thousand, but the
provost-marshal assured me that he had a line four abreast a full mile
long. I entirely bear him out, having ridden for forty minutes in a
direction opposite to that they were taking, and growing weary at last
of counting or of seeing them. They were fine, hearty fellows, almost
all Virginians, and seemed to take their capture not unkindly. They wore
the gray and not very attractive uniform of the Confederacy, but looked
to be warm and fat, and passing along in the night, under the fir-trees,
conveyed at most a romantic idea of grief and tribulation. They were put
in a huge pen, midway between Big and Little Five Forks, for the night,
the officers sharing the same fare with the soldiers, from whom,
indeed, they were undistinguishable.

Thus ended the splendid victory of Five Forks, the least bloody to us,
but the most successful, proportionate to numbers engaged, that has been
fought during the war. One man out of every three engaged took a
prisoner. We captured four cannon, an ambulance train and baggage-teams,
eight thousand muskets, and twenty-eight battle-flags. General
Longstreet, it is thought, commanded. Neither he nor Pickett nor Bushrod
Johnston, division commanders, were taken; they were wise enough to see
that the day was lost, and imitated Bonaparte after Waterloo.

I attribute this victory almost entirely to Sheridan; it was won by
strategy and persistence, and in great part by men who would not stand
fire the day before. The happy distribution of duties between cavalry
and infantry excited a fine rivalry, and the consciousness of Sheridan's
guidance inspired confidence. Has any battle so successful ever been
fought in Virginia? or, indeed, in the East? I think not. It has opened
to us the enemy's flank, so that we can sweep down upon the Appomattox
and inside of his breastworks, enabling us to shorten our lines of
intrenchments one half, if no more, and putting out of Lee's service
fifteen thousand of his choicest troops. And all this, General Sheridan
tells me, has cost him personally no more than eight hundred men, and
the service no more than fifteen hundred. Compare this with
Chancellorsville, Williamsburg, the Wilderness, Bull Run, and what shall
we say? The enemy must have lost in this fight three thousand in killed
and wounded.

The scene at Gravelly Run meeting-house at 8 and at 10 o'clock on
Saturday night, is one of the solemn contrasts of the war, and, I hope,
the last of them. A little frame church, planted among the pines, and
painted white, with cool, green window-shutters, holds at its foot a
gallery for the negroes, and at the head a varnished pulpit. I found
its pews moved to the green plain over the threshold, and on its bare
floors the screaming wounded. Blood ran in little rills across the
planks, and, human feet treading in them, had made indelible prints in
every direction; the pulpit-lamps were doing duty, not to shed holy
light upon holy pages, but to show the pale and dusty faces of the
beseeching; and as they moved in and out, the groans and curses of the
suffering replace the gush of peaceful hymns and the deep responses to
the preacher's prayers. Federal and Confederate lay together, the
bitterness of noon assuaged in the common tribulation of the night, and
all the while came in the dripping stretchers, to place in this golgotha
new recruits for death and sorrow. I asked the name of the church, but
no one knew any more than if it had been the site of some obsolete
heathen worship. At last, a grinning sergeant smacked his thumbs as if
the first idea of his life had occurred to him, and led me to the
pulpit. Beneath some torn blankets and rent officers' garments, rested
the hymn book and Bible, which he produced. Last Sunday these doled out
the praises of God, and the frightened congregation worshipped at their
dictation. Now they only served by their fly leaves to give me my
whereabouts, and said:--

_Presented to Gravelly Run Meeting House by the Ladies._

Over the portal, the scenes within were reiterated, except that the
greatness of a starry night replaced the close and terrible arena of the
church. Beneath the trees, where the Methodist circuit-rider had tied
his horse, and the urchins, daring class-meeting, had wandered away to
cast stones at the squirrels, and measure strength at vaulting and
running, the gashed and fevered lay irregularly, some soul going out at
each whiff of the breeze in the fir-tops; and the teams and surgeons,
and straggling soldiers, and galloping orderlies passed all the night
beneath the old and gibbous moon and the hushed stars, and by the
trickle of Gravelly Run stealing off, afeared. But the wounded had no
thought that night; the victory absorbed all hearts; we had no losses to
notice where so much was won.

A mile past the church, going away from head-quarters all the time, lies
Five Forks, the object and name of the battle. A large open field of
perhaps thirty acres, interposes between the church and the commencement
of the Rebel works. Their left is only some rails and logs to mask
marksmen, but the work proper is a very long stretch of all obstructions
of a man's height in relief.

The White Oak road runs directly in front of these intrenchments, and
was, at the time I passed, the general highway for infantry returning
from the field and cavalry-men concentrating at General Sheridan's
bivouac. Riding a mile I came upon the Five Forks proper, and just to
the left, at the foot of some pines, the victor and his assistants were
congregated. Sheridan sat by some fagots, examining a topographical map
of the country he had so well traversed; possibly with a view to design
further aggressive movements in the morning. He is opposite me now as I
pen these paragraphs by the imperfect blaze of his bivouac fire. He is
good humored and talkative, like all men conscious of having achieved a
great work, and has been good enough to sketch for me the plan of the
day's operations, from which I have compiled much of the statement
above. Close by lies Custer, trying to sleep, his long yellow hair
covering his face; and General Griffin, now commanding the Fifth corps,
goes here and there issuing orders, while aides and orderlies rode in
and out, bearing further fresh messages of deeds consummated or
proposed. We shall have a hot night no doubt, for away off to the right,
continue volleys of musketry and discharges of artillery, intermixed
with what seem to be thunderbolts of our men-of-war at anchor in the
Appomatox and James,--if such can be heard at this great
distance,--which tell us that the lines are in motion.



CHAPTER XXX.

RICHMOND DESOLATE.


The scenes of entering the doomed stronghold, when Grant had burst its
gates, ought to be made vivid as the spectacle of death. With my good
and talented associate, Mr. Jerome B. Stillson, I hold the Spotswood
Hotel, and from this caravansary of the late capital as thoroughly
identified with Rebellion as the inn at Bethlehem with the gospel, we
date our joint paragraphs upon the condition of the city. A week cannot
have exhausted the curiosity of the North to learn the exact appearance
of a city which has stood longer, more frequent, and more persistent
sieges, than any in Christendom. This town is the Rebellion; it is all
that we have directly striven for; quitting it, the Confederate leaders
have quitted their sheet-anchor, their roof-tree, their abiding hope.
Its history is the epitome of the whole contest, and to us, shivering
our thunderbolts against it for more than four years, Richmond is still
a mystery.

Know then, that, whether coming from Washington or Baltimore, the two
points of embarkation, all bound hitherward must rendezvous at Fortress
Monroe; thence, in such excellent steamers as the _Dictator_, start up
the broad James River. To own a country-house upon the "Jeems" river is
the Virginia gentleman's ultimate aspiration. There, with a
tobacco-farm, and wide wheatlands, his feet on his front-porch rails, a
Havana cigar between his teeth, and a colored person to bring him
frequent juleps, the Virginia gentleman, confident in the divinity of
slavery, hopes in his natural, refined idleness, to watch the little
family graveyard close up to his threshold, till it shall kindly open
and give him sepulture.

Elsewhere men aim to be successful, or enterprising, or eloquent, or
scholarly, but that nobleness of hospitality, high spirit, dignity, and
affability which constitute our idea of chivalry is everywhere save here
an exotic. We say that chivalry is "played out," and that the prestige
of "first families" is gone with the hurried retreat before Grant's
salamanders. Not so. Secession as a cause is past the range of
possibilities. But no people in their subjugation wear a better front
than these brave old spirits, whose lives are not their own. Fire has
ravaged their beautiful city, soldiers of the color of their servants,
guard the crossings and pace the pavement with bayoneted muskets. But
gentlemen they are still, in every pace, and inch, and syllable,--such
men as we were wont to call brothers and countrymen. However, the James
River, at which we commenced, has not a town upon it between the sea and
the head of navigation. It is a strong commentary upon this patriarchal
civilization, judged by our gregarious tastes, that one of the noblest
streams in the world should show to the traveller only here and there a
pleasant mansion, flanked by negro cabins, but nowhere a church-spire
nor a steam-mill. All that we see from Fortress Monroe to City Point are
ridges of breastworks, rifle-pits, and forts, lying bare, yellow, and
deserted, to defend its passage, excepting at James Island, where the
solitary and broken tower of the ancient colony holds guard over some
bramble and ruin. Here Smith founded the celebrated settlement, which
wooed to its threshold the gentle Pocahontas, and fell to fragments at
the behest of the fiery Bacon. The ramparts on the James will remain
forever; great as they are, they would hardly hold the bones of the
slain in the capture and defence. Four hours from Fortress Monroe we
pass Harrison's Landing, where two grand armies, _beaten_ aside from
Richmond, sought the shelter of the river, and at City Point quit our
large craft, to be transferred to a light draught vessel, which is to
carry the first mail going to Richmond under the national flag since the
beginning of the war.

City Point is still a populous place, and the millions of mules upon it
bray hoarsely; but we leave all these behind, as well as the national
standard, which flaunts over General Grant's late head-quarters, and
steam past the mouth of the Appomattox to go through the enemy's lines.

Henceforward every foot of the way is freshly interesting. The Rebel ram
_Atlanta_ in tow of a couple of tugs, goes past us with a torpedo boat
at the rear. She is raking, slant, and formidable; but "old glory" is
waving on her. Directly our own leviathan, the _Roanoke_ drifts up, and
all her storm-throated tars cheer like the belch of her guns. We see to
the right, the tip of Malvern Hill, ever sorrowful and sacred, and soon
a great unfinished ram careens by, which never grew to battle-size; the
true colors shine above her bulwarks like a flower growing in a carcass.
Then at little intervals there are frequent prizes from the docks of
Richmond, tugs, transports, barges, some of which show under our
beautiful banner the Rebel cross, pale and contemptible. These
malcontents committed as great crime against good taste in substituting
for our starry emblem this artistic abomination, as against law and
policy in changing the configuration of the Union. There is another
flag, however, which we see, half exultantly, half vindictively,--the
cross of St. George,--flying from a British cutter.

By and by we come to our intrenchments upon the upper James and at
Bermuda Hundred. Now they are very listless and half empty. The boys
have gone off to tread on Lee's shanks. Only a few vessels stand at the
landings, and the few remnants have laid down the rifle, and taken up
the fishing-pole. One should come up this river to get a conception of
our splendid navy. Sharp-pointed gunboats, with bullet-proof crows'
nests and swivels that are the gentlest murderers ever polished;
monitors through whose eyeholes a ball a big as a cook-stove squints
from a columbiad socket; ferry-boats which are speckled with brass
cannon, and all sorts of craft that can float and manoeuvre, provided
they look at us through deadly muzzles are there to the number of fifty
or sixty, as many as make the entire navies of all other American
nations. After the war we must have a great naval review, and invite all
the crowned heads to attend it. Soon we reach Dutch Gap, where lies
Butler's canal, or "Butler's gut," as the sailors call it. The river at
this point is so crooked that Butler must have laid it out by the aid of
his wrong eye. The canal is meant to cut on a long elbow; but being
almost at right angles to the course of the river, only the most
obliging tide would run through it. As a consequence, it is a sort of a
sluice merely, of insufficient width, and as a "sight" very
disappointing to great expectations. Between the points of debouch of
this canal crosses a drawbridge of pontoons, for the use of our troops,
and just beyond it Aiken's Landing, where the flag of truce boat
stopped. A fine brick mansion stands in shore, with a wharf abreast it.
The banks around it are trodden here with many feet. These are the
traces of the poor prisoners who reached here, fevered, and starving and
naked, to catch for the first time the sight of cool waters and friends,
and the bright flag which they had followed to the edge of the grave.
How they threw up their hats, and cheered to the feeblest, and wept, and
danced, and laughed. Long be the place remembered, as holy, neutral
ground, where death never trod, and multitudes passed from suffering, to
freedom and home. Beyond this point, the most formidable Rebel works we
have seen, line the high bluffs and ridges. They are monuments of
patient labor, and make of themselves hills as great as nature's. But
the siege pieces, which often bellowed upon them like thunderbolts
along the mountain-tops, are gone now, and only straggling, meddling
fellows pass them at all. The highest of these works commands both ends
of the Dutch Gap canal, and while our lads were digging they often hid
themselves in caves which they dug in the cliff-sides.

We reach the first torpedo at length; a little red flag marks it, by
which the boat slips tremulously, though another and another are before,
at the sight of which our nervous folks are agitated. Here is a monitor
with a drag behind it, which has just fished up one; and the sequel is
told by a bloody and motionless figure upon the deck. These torpedoes
are the true dragon teeth of Cadmus, which spring up armed men.

Happily for us, the Rebels have sown but few of them, and the position
of these was pointed out by one of their captains who deserted to our
side. In the midst of these lie the obstructions. Great hulks of vessels
and chained spars, and tree-tops which reach quite across the river,
except where our pioneers have hewn a little gap to let the steamer
through. Upon these obstructions a hundred cannon bear from the cliffs
before us, and as we go further we see the whole river-bed sprinkled
with strange contrivances to keep back our thunder-bearers. We think it
absolutely impossible, under any circumstances, that our fleet could
have got to Richmond so long as the Rebels contested the passage; each
step forward finds new and greater obstacles. The channel is as narrow
as Harlem River and as crooked as a walk in the ramble of Central Park.
Each elbow of the stream is muscular with snag and snare wherever the
swift stream swoops around abruptly. Jagged abatis, driven piles, and
artificial lumber, bar the way before us. To the right of us, to the
left of us, behind us, stand up the bare parapets, crowned with airy
lookout towers, where, at the coming of a nautilus, the whole horizon
and foreground would rain crossfires of shell and iron bolts, to sweep
into annihilation the tiniest or the staunchest opposition from the
earth's surface, and under the earth and above the earth death waited to
leap up and draw the daring to its bosom. Not one, nor two, nor three
lines of defences frowned down as we cautiously steamed along, but every
precipice was bristling with defiance, as if the deep subterranean fires
underlying our race had burst here fitfully and frequently, heaving up
the swells of the hills till they lay hard and barren for human
ingenuity to garnish them with anxious artillery. All along were the
deep funnel-shaped cases of the torpedoes just disentombed. But at
nightfall Drury's Bluff flitted by like the battlemented wall of a city,
and then we saw no more.

The band that greeted us from a distance stops playing as the boat nears
the wharf.

There is a stillness, in the midst of which Richmond, with her ruins,
her spectral roof, afar, and her unchanging spires, rests beneath a
ghastly, fitful glare,--the night stain which a great conflagration
leaves behind it for weeks,--struggling silently with colossal shadows
along the foreground, two hideous walls alone arise in front, shutting
these gleams. They are the Libby Prison and Castle Thunder. Right and
left, and far in the moonlighted perspective beyond, there is a soft
glitter upon cornices and domes. A haggard glow of candles, faintly
defines the thoroughfares that have not suffered ruin; while massive,
and upon a height overlooking all, stands the Capitol, flying its black
shadow from the sinking moon across a hundred crumbling walls, until its
edges touch the windows of the Libby.

But over its massive roof, dimly seen through the mists of the river,
and, as before, "through the mists of the deep," the banner of the
Union, banished for four years, is shaken out again, broad and
beautiful, by the breath of an April night. Upon the face of every
leaning figure on the steamer's deck, in sight of that radiant signal,
is the same half-melancholy, half-triumphant smile.

The thought of the battle which has passed, of the army, which, after
struggling through years for this majestic procession, has swept by and
beyond without the view for which its straining eyes have yearned, is
sad and strange. There comes back dimly suggestive, a story of Iran and
his host, thundering at the gates of Tupelo, for the possession of a
wondrous jewel, and awakening once upon a dawn to learn that Tupelo was
an empty casket,--to turn back longing, "wondering eyes upon the city,
and to hunt the fleeing prize afar." Yet unto those legions of the
republic which have emptied Richmond of a prize which yet they may have
easily clutched, there go out reverence and blessing even larger than
might be bestowed upon them resting in camp, upon these overlooking
hills. That true allegiance, that calm and stern self-sacrifice which
impels an army forward past the sweet applauses and rewarding calms to
which great victories might entitle it, are the purest sources of its
glory and its fame. God bless the army that has permitted us to
consummate this journey and to gaze upon this spectacle, while it does
not impress us too proudly, too triumphantly. Both pride and triumph
have, of course, a place in the tumultuous feeling that surges through
the hearts of all; yet as in every true man is born an instinct of
compassion for a fallen foe, we prefer that the shout should go up in
honor of our victory alone, and not because these have suffered.

The boat touches the shore at Rockett's, the foot of Richmond. A few
minutes' walk and we tread the pavements of the capital. There are no
noisy and no beseeching runners; there is no sound of life, but the
stillness of a catacomb, only as our footsteps fall dull on the deserted
sidewalk, and a funeral troop of echoes bump their elfin heads against
the dead walls and closed shutters in reply, and this is Richmond. Says
a melancholy voice: "And this is Richmond."

We are under the shadow of ruins. From the pavements where we walk far
off into the gradual curtain of the night, stretches a vista of
desolation. The hundreds of fabrics, the millions of wealth, that
crumbled less than a week ago beneath one fiery kiss, here topple and
moulder into rest. A white smoke-wreath rising occasionally, enwraps a
shattered wall as in a shroud. A gleam of flame shoots a grotesque
picture of broken arches and ragged chimneys into the brain. Huge piles
of debris begin to encumber the sidewalks, and even the pavements, as we
go on. The streets in some places are quite choked up from walking. We
are among the ruins of half a city. The wreck, the loneliness, seem
interminable. The memory of lights in houses above, beheld while upon
the steamer, alone keeps despondency from a victory over hope; and
although the continued existence of the Spottswood Hotel is vouched for
by authority, my lodge in such a wilderness seems next to impossible.
Away to the right, above the waste of blackened walls, around the
phantom-looking flag upon the capitol,--the only sign betwixt heaven and
earth, or upon the earth, that Richmond is not wholly deserted,--beyond
and out of the ruins, we walk past one of two open doorways where the
moon serves as candle to a group of talking negroes. The gas works,
injured by fire, are not working, and "ile" has not been struck in the
Confederacy. Not a white man appears until we reach the
Spottswood,--there before the entrance is a conclave of officers,--then,
at last, entering, we stand in that most famous of Southern hotels, the
interior of which is filled with the very aroma of the Rebellion. A
thankful yielding up of carpet-bags and valises to the indignant negro
waiters, and then a brief moonlight stroll toward the capitol.

Within the gates of the Square, that swing on their hinges silent as the
hour we pass alone, before us stands the magnificent monument crowned
with Crawford's equestrian statue of Washington. The right hand of the
rider, lifted against the sky, points a prophetic finger toward the
southwest. Dark, and motionless, and grand, it is the one symbol
belonging solely to the Union, which they have not dared to desecrate;
which they have strangely chosen to consider neither as an insult nor a
rebuke.

Gazing beyond at the capitol itself, and back again at the figure which
overlooks the building, it is not hard to imagine that, while the noisy
debates of a congress of traitors to the Union that he founded were in
progress, those bronze lips sometimes smiled in scorn.

Leaving Richmond proper, and descending into the low, squalid portion of
the town known as Rocketts, one sees among the many large warehouses,
used without exception for the storage of tobacco, a certain one more
irregular than the rest. An archway leads into it, and upon the outside
of the second story windows runs a long ledge or footway, whereupon
sentries used to stride, guarding the miserable people within. This is
the jail of Castle Thunder, and it was the civil or State prison of the
capital. Ill as were the accommodations of prisoners of war, the
treatment of their own unoffending citizens by the Rebel government was
ten times more infamous. We could not repress indignation, nor by any
philosophic or charitable effort excuse the atrocious tyranny which here
lashed, chained, handcuffed, tortured, shot, and hung, hundreds of
people whom it could not stultify or impress. We may grant that the
Confederacy had become a government; that, in its perilous incipiency,
it had apology for severity and rigor with all malcontents; that, in its
own struggle for death or life, it might, in self-defence, absorb all
private liberty; but even thus the terrible testimony of this Castle
Thunder is an everlasting stigma upon the Southern cause. We entered its
strong portal, and there in the new commandant's room lay the record
left behind by the Confederates. Its pages made one shudder.

These are some of the entries:--

     "George Barton,--giving food to Federal prisoners of war; forty
     lashes upon the bare back. Approved. Sentence carried into effect
     July 2.

     "Peter B. Innis,--passing forged government notes; chain and ball
     for twelve months; forty lashes a day. Approved.

     "Arthur Wright,--attempting to desert to the enemy; sentenced to be
     shot. Approved. Carried into effect, March 26.

     "John Morton,--communicating with the enemy; to be hung. Approved.
     Carried into effect, March 26."

In an inner room are some fifty pairs of balls and chains, with anklets
and handcuffs upon them, which have bent the spirit and body of many a
resisting heart. Within are two condemned cells, perfectly dark,--a
faded flap over the window peep-hole,--the smell from which would knock
a strong man down.

For in their centre lies the sink, ever open, and the floors are sappy
with uncleanliness. To the right of these, a door leads to a walled yard
not forty feet long, nor fifteen wide, overlooked by the barred windows
of the main prison rooms, and by sentry boxes upon the wall-top. Here
the wretched were shot and hung in sight of their trembling comrades.
The brick wall at the foot of the yard is scarred and crushed by balls
and bullets which first passed through some human heart and wrote here
their damning testimony. The gallows had been suspended from a wing in
the ledge, and in mid-air the impotent captive swung, none daring or
willing to say a good word for him; and not for any offence against
God's law, not for wronging his neighbor, or shedding blood, or making
his kind miserable, but for standing in the way of an upstart
organization, which his impulse and his judgment alike impelled him to
oppose. This little yard, bullet-marked, close, and shut from all
sympathy, is to us the ghastliest spot in the world. Can Mr. Davis visit
it, and pray as he does so devoutly afterward? When men plead the
justice of the South, and arguments are prompt to favor them, let this
prison yard rise up and say that no such crimes in liberty's name have
ever been committed, on this continent, at least. Up stairs, in Castle
Thunder, there are two or three large rooms, barred and dimly lit, and
two or three series of condemned cells, pent-up and pitchy, where, by a
refinement of cruelty, the ceiling has been built low so that no man can
stand upright. Here fifteen or twenty were crowded together, and, in the
burning atmosphere, they stripped themselves stark naked, so that when
in the morning the cell-doors were opened, they came forth as from the
grave, begging for death. There are women's cells too; for this great
and valiant government recognized women as belligerents, and locked them
up close to a sentry's cartridge, so that, in the bitterness of
solitude, they were unsexed, and railed, and blasphemed, like wanton
things. On the pavements before the jail, were hidden numberless guards,
who shot at every rag fluttering from the cages, and all this little
circle of death and terror was enacted close to the bright river, and
airy pediment of that high capitol, where bold men hoped by war to wring
from a reluctant Union, acknowledgment of arrogant independence to rein
civilization as it pleased, and warp the destinies of our race.



CHAPTER XXXI.

THE RUINS OF THE REBELLION.


When Richmond was a plain city, a county seat, and the residence of a
governor and commonwealth legislature, its enterprise was as gradual as
its hospitality and private probity were steadfast. It was always a
fierce political arena, and its two great journals, the _Whig_ and
_Enquirer_, were not more violently partisan than its hustings. In the
latter its debaters were wide-famed. No such "stump" has ever existed in
America, commencing with Patrick Henry, whose eloquence was as intense
and telling as his statesmanship was errant and inconsistent, and
passing through the shrill and bitter apostrophies of John Randolph down
to the latest era of Henry A. Wise, the most sufferable and interminable
campaign orator extant, and John Minor Botts, scarcely his inferior.
With us, out of door rhetoric is dry, studied, and argumentative; here
an inspiration, based upon feeling rather than reason, and so earnest
that it knew no personal friendship where its political affinities
stopped. Whig and Democrat were not men of the same race or family in
Richmond; they passed each other on the sidewalk with a sneer or a
scowl, and knew no coalition even in the house of God. Even when the
Whig party as an organization deceased, the Whigs, as individuals,
retained their traditional antipathy, and the advent of secession was
decried by these, not because they loved the Union more, but the
triumphant Democracy the less. Separation was a feature of the hated
faith, and no good could come out of Nazareth. The Union men of Richmond
who have hungered in Castle Thunder, and been driven, needy and naked,
from the South, were all old line Whigs, distrusting the North, but
disliking Democracy. However, the war burst at last, heralded by that
mysterious lunatic who appeared like a warning giant in the twilight day
of the Union,--old John Brown; and as the Gulf States wheeled into line
and pulled down the old colors, the Old Dominion, Southern and
slaveholding, was too impulsive not to follow the whirlwind. She did not
go for policy's sake, nor for principle's sake, but for emotion's sake.
How wild and jubilant, and confident, were those Richmond mass meetings,
at which separation was counselled! How awful seems their levity at this
distance, with the city conquered and in ruins! On the Capitol Hill the
mad orators inveighed; within the Capitol met the disunion assembly in
secret and prolonged session; before the American, the Exchange, and the
Spottswood hotels, visiting commissioners harangued the crowd; the
people went to ballot on the day of State suicide, with laughing and
wagging, and at the decree that Virginia and her people had resolved to
quit the fabric of their fathers, bonfires and illuminations lit up the
river and the sky.

Done, these were the men to stand fast. Done in dream, the first acts
were mirages rather than comprehensible events. They marched upon
Harper's Ferry; they suppressed the Unionists in their midst; they
erased the sacred mottoes of amity and unity from their monuments, and
won to the new cause they so blindly embraced every inch of their soil
except Old Point, where Fortress Monroe still stood defiant, to be in
the end the source of their downfall. Gayly went the populace of
Richmond, and splendid parties made the nights lustrous. When they heard
that their town was mentioned, among many others, as the probable
Confederate capital, they threw their hearts into the suggestion and
offered lands and edifices as free gifts for the honor of being the
centre of the South. A few, more interested, beheld in the coming of the
seat of government higher rents and increased patronage, crowded hotels,
and railway stock at a premium; but the mass, with the enthusiasm of
women or children, thought only of their beloved city growing in rank
and power; the home of legislators, orators, and savans; the seat of all
rank and the depository of archives. At last the good news came;
Richmond was the capital of a great nation; that courtesy bound all
grateful Virginian hearts to the common cause forever; the heyday and
gratulation were renewed; the new President, and the reverend senators
appeared on Richmond streets; the citizens were proud and happy.

There was no spectre of the mighty North, slowly rising from lethargy
like those Medicean figures of Michael Angelo, which leap from stone to
avengers. There was no mutter of coming storm, no clank of coming sabres
and bayonets, no creak of great wheels rolling southward, and war in its
extremest and most deadly phase. Richmond and Virginia laughed at these,
flushed in the present, and invincible in the past. They only held high
heads,--and trade, with vanity, grew strong, till every citizen wondered
why all this glory had been so long delayed, and despised the ten years
preceding the rupture, if not, indeed, the whole past of the Union.

The President of the United States proclaimed war; an army marched upon
the city. Not until the battle of Bull Run, when the dead and mangled
came by hundreds into the town, did any one discover the consequences of
Richmond's new distinction; but by this time the Rebel government had
absorbed Virginia, and was master of the city. Thenceforward Richmond
was the scene of all terrors, the prey of all fears and passions.
Campaign after campaign was directed against her; she lived in the
perpetual thunder of cannon; raiders pressed to her gates; she was a
great garrison and hospital only, besieged and cut off from her own
provinces; armies passed through her to the sound of drums, and returned
to the creak of ambulances. She lost her social prestige, and became a
barrack-city, filled with sutlers, adventurers, and refugees, till,
bearing bravely up amid domestic riot and horrible demoralization,--a
jail, a navy-yard, a base of operations,--she grew pinched, and base,
and haggard, and, at last, deserted. Given over to sack and fire, the
wretches who used her retreated in the night, and the enemies she had
provoked marched over her defences, and laid her--spent, degenerate, and
disgraced--under martial law.

The outline of the scenes immediately associated with the evacuation of
Richmond has been told by telegraph. Now that the stupefied citizens
have recovered reason and memory so well as to tell us the story, it
seems the most dramatic and fearful of the war. On Saturday the city was
calm and trusting; Lee, its idol, held Grant, at Petersburg, fast; the
daily journals came out as usual, filled with soothing accounts; that
night came vague rumors of reverses; in the morning vaguer rumors of
evacuation; by Sunday night the public records were burned in the
streets, and the only remaining railway carried off the specie of the
banks; before daylight on Monday, the explosions of bridges and
half-built ships of war shook the houses; in the imperfect day, women,
and old men, and children began to sway and surge before the guarded
depot, which refused to admit them; then the town fell afire; no
remonstrance could pacify the incendiaries; the spring wind carried the
flame from the burning boats on the canal to the great Galligo Mills, to
files of massive warehouses groaning with tobacco, into the heart of the
town, where stores, and vaults, and banks, and factories lined the wide,
undulating streets; it filled the gray concave with flame till the stars
of the dawn shrank to pale invisibility in the advancing glare, and the
crackle of hot roofs and beams, and the crash of walls and timbers,
drowned the cries of the frightened and bankrupt, who beheld their
fortunes wither in an hour, and the inheritance of their children fall
to ashes. By the red, consuming light, poured past the straggling
Confederate soldiers, dead to the acknowledgment of private rights, and
sacking shop and home with curses and ribaldry; the suburban citizens
and the menial negroes adopted their examples; carrying off whatever
came next their hands, and with arms full of "swag," dropping it in the
highway, lured by some dearer plunder. Negroes, with baskets of stolen
champagne and rare jars of tamarinds, sought their dusky quarters to
swill and carouse; and whites of the middle, and even of the higher
class, lent themselves to theft, who, before this debased era, would
have died before so surrendering their honor. All was peril, terror, and
license; all who had nothing to lose were thieves; all who had anything
left to lose were cowards. The conflagration swept through the densest,
proudest blocks, driving off, not only the resident worthy, but the
resident corrupt. Where were the lewd contractors, who had hoarded
Confederate scrip by the basest exactions? With the fall of the capital
their dollars dwindled to dust; four years of crime had resulted in
beggary; still, with grasping palms, they adhered to their valueless
paper, bearing it away. But of all the wretched, the Cyprians were the
foremost. These inhabited the dense and business part of the town, where
their houses were serried and compact; and, driven forth by the fire,
they sought the street in their plumes and calicoes, to spend a cold and
shivering bivouac in the square of the Capitol. From afar, the rich men
of Sunday watched the flames of Monday sweeping on in terrible
impetuosity, knowing that every tongue of light which leaped on high
carried with it the competence they had sinned to acquire. And behind
all, plunderer, incendiary, and straggler, came the one vague,
overlapping, dreadful fear of--the enemy. Would they finish what friends
had commenced,--the sack, the desolation, the slaughter of the place?
Richmond had cost them half a million of lives, a mountain of blood and
wealth, four years of deadly struggle; would they not complete its ruin?

The morning came; the Confederates were gone; cavalry in blue galloped
up the streets; a brigade of white infantry filed after them; then came
the detested negroes. Behold! the victors, the subjugators, assist to
quench the flames,--and Richmond is captured, but secure!

Many of the churches were open on the Sunday of April 9, 1865, and were
thinly attended by the more adventurous of the citizens, with a
sprinkling of soldiers and Northern civilians. Mr. Woodbridge, at the
Monument Church, built on the site of a famous burnt theatre, prayed for
"all in authority," and held his tongue upon dangerous topics. The First
Baptist Negro Church has been occupied all the week by Massachusetts
chaplains, and Northern negro preachers, who have talked the gospel of
John Brown to gaping audiences of wool, white-eyeball, and ivory,
telling them that the day of deliverance has come, and that they have
only to possess the land which the Lord by the bayonet has given them.
To-day, Mr. Allen, the regular white preacher, occupied the pulpit, and
told the negroes that slavery was a divine institution, which would
continue forever, and that the duty of every good servant was to stay at
home and mind his master. Half of the enlightened Africans got up midway
of the discourse and left; the rest were in doubt, and two or three
black class-leaders, whom the parson had wheeled over, prayed lustily
that the Lord would keep Old Virginny from new ideas and all Yankee
salvations; so that in the end the population were quite tangled up, as
much so as if they had read the book of Revelation. I attended Saint
Paul's, the fashionable Episcopalian church, where Lee, Davis,
Memminger, and the rest had been communicants, and heard Doctor
Minnegerode discourse. He was one of the Prussian refugees of 1848,
and, though a hot Jacobin there, became a more bitter secessionist here.
He is learned, fluent, and thoughtful, but speaks with a slight Teutonic
accent. Jeff Davis's pew was occupied by nobody, the door thereof being
shut. Jeff was a very devout man, but not so much so as Lee, who made
all the responses fervently, and knelt at every requirement. This church
is capable of "seating" fifteen hundred persons, has galleries running
entirely around it, and is sustained at the roof within by composite
pilasters of plaster, and at the pulpit by columns of mongrel
Corinthian; the _tout ensemble_ is very excellent; a darkey sexton gave
us a pew, and there were some handsome ladies present, dark Richmond
beauties, haughty and thinly clothed, with only here and there a
jockey-feathered hat, or a velvet mantilla, to tell of long siege and
privation. We saw that those who dressed the shabbiest had yet preserved
some little article of jewelry--a finger-ring, a brooch, a bracelet,
showing how the last thing in woman to die is her vanity. Poor, proud
souls! Last Sunday many of them were heiresses; now many of them could
not pay the expenses of their own funerals. There were some Confederate
officers in the house. They reminded me of the captive Jews holding
worship in their gutted Temple. Some ruffians broke into this church
after the occupation, and wrote ribaldry in the Bible and hymn-book. Dr.
Minnegerode dared not pray for the Confederate States, and his sermon
was trite, based upon the text of the eleventh chapter of the Acts--"The
disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." In the opening
lesson, however, he aimed poison at the North, selecting the
forty-fourth and following Psalms, commencing, "We have heard with our
ears, O God! our fathers have told us, what work Thou didst in their
days, in the times of old." Then it spoke of the heathen being driven
out and the chosen people planted; afflicted by God's disfavor, the
forefathers held the territory, and the generation extant would yet rout
its enemies. But now the old stock were put to shame, a reproach to
their neighbors and those that dwelt round about them. "Thou hast broken
us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death,"
going not forth with our armies, bowing our souls to the dust till our
bellies cleave unto the earth; we are killed all the day long, and
counted as sheep for the slaughter.

Let all who would drink the essence of sorrow and anguish, read this
wonderful Psalm, to learn how after this recapitulation, the parson said
aloud the thrilling invocation.

"Arise! for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake."

Then came the next Psalm, light and tripping, full of praise for the
king and his bride, coming to the nuptials with her virgin train:
"instead of thy fathers, shall be thy children, whom thou mayst make
princes in all the earth." A poetic parallel might be drawn between all
this and the early hopes of Richmond; but the third Psalm came in like a
beautiful peroration.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,--the
Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah! He
maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow and
cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire."

Clear, direct, and in meaning monotone, the captive high-priest read all
this, so fearfully applicable to the subjugated and ruined town, and
then the organ threw its tender music into the half-empty concave,
sobbing like a far voice of multitudes, until the sweet singing of
Madame Ruhl, the chorister, swept into the moan of pipes, and rose to a
grand peal, quivering and trilling, like a nightingale wounded, making
more tears than the sublimest operatic effort and the house reeled and
trembled, as if Miriam and her chanting virgins were lifting praises to
God in the midst of the desert.

That part of the New Testament read, by some strange fatuity, touches
also the despair of the city. It told of Christ betrayed by Iscariot,
deserted by his disciples, saying to his few trusty ones: "I will smite
the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad."
"Can ye not watch with me one hour?" he says to the timid and sleeping;
and turning to his conquerors, avers that the Son of Man shall return to
Jerusalem, "sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds
of heaven." All this, of course, was the prescribed lesson for the
Sunday before Easter, which to-day happened to be; but had the pastor
searched it out to meet the exigencies of the place and time, it could
not have been more _apropos_. He read also from Daniel, where the king's
dream was interpreted; his realm, like a tree worn down to the root, and
the king himself making his dwelling with the wild asses, but in the end
"thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known
that the heavens do rule."

Again the organ rang, and the wonderful voice of the choristers
alternated with deep religious prayers, whose refrain was, "Have mercy
upon us."

Only one Sunday gone by, the church was densely packed with Rebel
officers and people; Mrs. Lee was there, and the president, in his high
and whitened hairs. Midway of the discourse a telegram came up the
aisle, borne by a rapid orderly. The president read it, and strode away;
the preacher read it, and faltered, and turned pale; it said:

     My lines are broken; Richmond must be evacuated by midnight.
                                                   ROBERT E. LEE.

Ill news travels without words; the whole house felt that the great
calamity had come; they broke for the doors, and left the rector, alone
and frightened, to finish the solemn services.

Now the enemy is here; the music and the prayer are not interrupted. God
is over all, whether Davis or Lincoln be uppermost.

This campaign, so gloriously and promptly finished, has consumed just
eleven days. It took three to flank the Rebel army, one to capture
Petersburg, one to occupy Richmond, and six to pursue, overtake, and
capture the Army of Northern Virginia. No such memorable fighting has
ever been known on our continent, and it parallels the Italian, the
Austerlitz, and the Jena campaigns; in breadth of conception, it
outrivals them all; it took less men to do it than the last two; it
shows equal sagacity with any of them, but none of their brilliant
episodes; and, unlike them, we cannot trace its full credit to any
single personality. It has made the army immortal, but the lustre of it
is diffused, not concentrating upon any single head. Grant must be
credited with most of the combinations; yet without the genius and
activity of Sheridan, the bewildering rapidity of Sherman, and the
steadfastness of such reliable men as Wright, Parke, and Griffin, these
combinations would have fallen apart. It is said that Stoneman and
Sheridan were to have joined their separate cavalry commands at
Lynchburg, and effect a simultaneous junction with the Army of the
Potomac. This failed, through a miscalculation of distance or time; but
had they succeeded, we should have been less than three days in turning
Lee's right, and so made the campaign even more concise. But Grant's
talent has been marked and signal. He is the long-expected "coming man."
None can be lukewarm in surveying the nice adjustment of so many
separate and converging routes to a grand series of victories. Sherman
leaves the Rebellion no Gulf city to inhabit, and cuts off Lee's retreat
while he absorbs Johnston; the navy closes the last seaport; Sheridan
severs all communication with Richmond, and swells the central forces;
then the Rebels are lured from their lines and scattered on their right;
the same night the intrenchments of Petersburg are stormed, Richmond
falls as this prop is removed, being already hungry-hearted, and the
flushed army falls upon Lee and finishes the war. Is not this work for
gratulation? Glory to the army, perfect at last, and to Grant, to
Sheridan, to each of its commanders!

Let us not do injustice to Lee. His tactics at the close of his career
were as brilliant as necessity would permit. He could not feed Richmond,
even though its impregnable works were behind him to retire to. So he
gave his government time to evacuate, and, with his thinned and
famishing ranks, made a bold push to join Johnston, some of whose
battalions had already reinforced him; overtaken on the way, and
punished anew, he did as any great and humane commander would
do,--stopped the effusion of blood uselessly, and gave up his sword.

Unless Davis has been captured, we would think it improbable that he had
given up the Rebel cause. He was born to revolutionize, containing
within himself all the elements of a Rebel leader, and too proud to
yield, even when, like Macbeth, pursued to his castle-keep. I am assured
by those who know him best that he has been, throughout, the absolute
master of the Confederacy, overawing Lee, who, from the first, was a
reluctant Rebel; and his design was, until abandoned by his army, to
hold Richmond, even through starvation, making, behind its tremendous
fortifications, a defence like that of Leyden or Genoa.

There is no more faith in the Rebellion; it will be a long time before
the United States is greatly beloved, but it will be always obeyed. Our
soldiers look well, most of them being newly uniformed, and behave like
gentlemen. Courtesy will conquer all that bayonets have not won. The
burnt district is still hideously yawning in the heart of the town, a
monument to the sternness of those bold revolutionists who are being
hunted to their last quarry. Despotism, under the plea of necessity, has
met with its end here as it must everywhere. We shall have no more
experiments for liberty out of the Union, if the new Union will grant
all that it gave before. Yesterday, when our splendid levies were
paraded in the street, with foot, cavalry, and cannon, in admirable
order, and kindly-eyed men in command, I looked across their cleanly
lines, tipped with bayonets, to the Capitol they had won, bearing at
last the tri-color we all love and honor, as the symbol of our homes and
the hope of the world, and thought how more grandly, even in her ruin,
Richmond stood in the light of its crowding stars, rather than the den
of a desperate cabal, whose banner was known in no city nor sea, but as
the ensign of corsairs, and hailed only by fustian peers, now rent in
the grip of our eagle, and without a fane or an abiding-place. Let us go
on, not conquerors, but Republicans, battering down only to rebuild more
gloriously,--not narrowing the path of any man, but opening to high and
low a broader destiny and a purer patriotism.



CHAPTER XXXII.

WAR EXECUTIONS.


To have looked upon seventeen beings of human organism, ambition, sense
of pain and of disgrace, brought forward with all the solemnities of a
living funeral, and launched from absolute cognition to direct death,
should put one in the category of Calcraft, Ketch, and Isaacs.

Yet, I do not think it would be right to so classify me. I know an
excellent clergyman, who has seen and assisted in fifty odd executions.
He says, as I say, that each new one is an augmented terror. But he is
upon the spot to smooth the felon's troubled spirit, and I am with him
to teach the felon's boon companions the direness of the penalty.
Without either the Chaplain or myself, capital punishment would lose
half its effectiveness.

And this is why I write the present article,--to relieve myself from the
pertinacious inquiries with which I have been assailed since my return
from the melancholy episodes of the executions at Washington. I am
button-holed at every corner, and put through a cross-examination, to
which Holt's or Bingham's had no searchingness: "How did Mrs. Suratt
die?" "Was the rope attached to her left ear?" "What sort of rope was
it, for example?" "Do her pictures look like her?" "Pray describe how
Payne twisted, and whether you think Atzeroth's neck was dislocated?"

And, after answering these questions, replete as they are with horrible
curiosity, the questioner turns away, saying, "Dear me! I wouldn't see a
man hung for a thousand dollars."

I am weary of such hypocrisy, and I shall, in this paper, speak of some
executions I have witnessed.

I was quite a small boy, at school, when my chum and model, Bill
Everett, dragged me off to Wayland's Mill, to see old Mrs. Kitty White
suspended. She was a very infamous old woman, who had been in the habit
of kidnapping black children, and running them by night from the Eastern
shore across the bay to Virginia, where they were sold. If they became
noisy and obstreperous before they left her house, and suspicion fell
upon her, she clove their skulls with a hatchet, and buried them in her
garden. When finally discovered, the remains of nearly a score marked
how wholesale had been her wickedness.

This old woman was very drunk when she came to be hanged, and so was the
sheriff who assisted her. She called him impolite names, and carried a
pipe in her mouth, and went off smoking and cursing. I remember that I
cried very loudly, so that Bill Everett had to choke me, and saw ghosts
for so many nights succeeding, that Crouch, our maid of all work, had to
sit at my bedside till I fell asleep.

The atrocity of a crime makes great difference in one's desire to see
its after tragedy; and the next hanging I attended was almost
world-famed. Four men were suspended for shooting down an entire family
in cold blood. They had embarked on a raid of robbery, and emerging from
the barren scrub of Delaware Forest, fell upon a snug and secluded
Maryland farm-house, where the farmer's family were taking their supper.
They fired through the ruddy windows, and brought the man down at his
wife's feet; she, in turn, fell upon her threshold, rushing forth into
the darkness, and the remnant of the family perished except two boys,
who slipped away and gave the alarm.

The jailer's boys of Chestertown went to school with me, and I was
invited by the least of them to visit the jail,--a tumble-down old
structure with goggly windows, and so unsafe that the felons had to be
ironed to almost their own weight. And into the cell where the four
fiends were lying, the jailer's big boy, for a big joke, pushed me, and
locked the door upon me.

I was alone with the same bloody-handed men who had so recently, and for
a trifle of gold, made the fireside a shamble, and the night a howling
terror.

They appreciated the joke, and drew me to them, while their chains
clanked, and pressed to my face their wild and prickly beards. There was
one of them, named Drummond, who swore he would cut my heart out, and
they executed a sort of death-tune on the floor with their balls and
links. I lost all knowledge and perception in my fright, and cannot, at
this interval, remember anything succeeding, but the execution. They
were put to death upon a single long scaffold, the counterpart of that
erected for the Booth conspirators, and the rope attached to the neck of
the least guilty, broke when the drop fell, and cast him upon the
ground, lacerated, but conscious, to be picked up and again suspended,
while he begged for life, like a child.

The sixth miscreant murdered from revenge, which is just a trifle better
than avarice: his girl preferred another, and the disappointed man,
Bowen, went to sea. Returning, he found the united lovers in the
exultation of happiness; a child had just been born to them, and,
touched by their content, Bowen gave the old rival his hand, and asked
him out to accept a bumper. They drank again and again,--the spirits
burning their blood to fire, and reviving again the bitter story of
Bowen's love and shame. Within the hour, the husband lay at the jilted
man's feet! He was condemned to death, and I undertook to describe his
exit for a weekly newspaper.

Still I see him, broad and muscular, climbing the gallows stair with
his peaked cap, deathly white, and looking up at the sun as if he
dreaded its eye. There was the muttering of prayers, the spasm of one
spectator taken sick at the crisis, and the dull thump of the scaffold
falling in.

The preacher Harden, who fondled his wife on his knee, and fed her the
while with poison, passed away so recently, that I need not revive the
scene into which all his bad life should have been prolonged.

The death of Armstrong, expiating a hypocrite's life at Philadelphia, is
not so well remembered: he killed an old man in the heart of the city,
riding in a wagon, and dumped him out when he reached the suburbs. His
life, to the end, was marked by all insolence and infamy, and on the day
of the execution, he made a pretended confession, inculpating two
innocent persons. One hour after this, he made the following speech:--

     MY FRIENDS: I have a few words to say to you; I am going to die;
     and let me say, in passing, I die in peace with my Maker; and if,
     at this moment, a pardon was offered me on condition of giving up
     my Maker, I would not take it; and I die in peace with all the
     world, and forgive all my enemies. I desire you to take warning by
     my fate. Sabbath-breaking was the first cause. I bid you farewell,
     gentlemen, (here he mentioned various officers), and I bid you all
     farewell. I die in peace with everybody.

The Sheriff, very nervous, gave a signal to the drop-man too soon, and a
serious accident very nearly occurred. The props were readjusted, all
but the main support removed, and that unhinged; the Sheriff waved his
handkerchief, and with the dead thump of the trap-lids against their
cushions, and the heavy jerking of the noose knot against the victim's
throat, the young murderer hung dangling in the air, not a limb
quivering, and only a convulsive movement of the shoulders, to indicate
the struggle which life maintained when giving up its place in the
body.

There was a rush forward. The doctors grasped his wrist. Some spectators
passed their hands across his knees to feel the tremulous sinews; one or
two felt a faintness, and a dozen made coarse jokes; and one or more
speculated as to the issue of his immortal part, or the degree of his
pain, or the probability of his cognizance. In seven minutes he was
beyond the reach of execution or executioner, and a hurdle being wheeled
from the stable, they cut down his body, while a few scrambled for the
rope, and it was wheeled on a run into the convict's corridor for his
old father to claim. The neck was not broken, nor the flesh discolored.
Some said that he died "game;" and all went away, leaving the old man
and a brother to sit by the remains and weep, that so great calamity had
darkened their home and blighted their lives. Few lamented him, for he
had youth, but none of its elements of sympathy; and those who would
make, even of his dying speech, a text and a lesson, are instancing a
lie more grievous than the murder which he did.

In England, I saw two men and a woman suffer death on the common
sidewalk; just as if we were to hang people in New York on the pavement
before the Tombs.

No man, anxious to see an execution in London, need be disappointed.
Once or twice a month the wolves are brought to the slaughter, and all
the people are invited to enjoy the spectacle. A woman, one Catharine
Wilson, was to be hanged for poisoning. She was middle aged, and had
been reputable. Her manner of making way with folks was to act as
sick-nurse, and mingling poison with their medicine, possess herself of
the trifles upon their persons. She had sent six souls to their account
in this way; but, discovered in the seventh attempt, all the other cases
leaked out. She was condemned, of course, and on the Sunday evening
previous to the execution, as I was returning from Spurgeon's
Tabernacle, the omnibus upon which I sat passed through the Old Bailey.
There were the carpenters joining the timbers of the scaffold, and
building black barricades across the street. A murmuring crowd stood
around in the solemn night, and the funereal walls of old Newgate
glowered like a horrible vault upon the dimly-lit street. The public
houses across the way were filled up with guests. All the front parlors
and front bedrooms had been let at fat prices, and suppers were spread
in them for the edification of their tenants. Do you remember the
thrilling chapter of "The Jew's last night alive," in "Oliver Twist?"
Well, this was the scene! These were the same beams and uprights. There,
huge, massive, and blackened with smoky years, rose the cold, impervious
stones; and yonder, casting its sharp pinnacles into the sky, is the
tower of St. Sepulchre's Church, where the bell hangs muffled for the
morrow's tolling away of a sinner's life. Old Fagin heard it, though it
was no new sound to him; for Field Lane, where he kept his "fence," lies
a very little way off,--little more than a stone's throw, and when, in
the morning, I dressed at an early hour and hurried to the place of
execution, I saw Charley Bates, and the Dodger, and Nancy, and Toby
Crackit, and the rest, shying men's hats in the air, and looking out for
the "wipes" and the "tickers." All the streets leading to Newgate were
like great conduits, where human currents babbled along, emptying
themselves into the Old Bailey. Mothers by the dozen were out with their
infants, holding them aloft tenderly, to show them the noose and the
cross-beam. Fathers came with their sons, and explained very carefully
to them the method of strangulation. Little girls, on their way to
workshops, had turned aside to see the playful affair, and traders in
fancy soap and shoe-blacking, pea-nuts and shrimps, Banbury cakes, and
Chelsea buns, and Yarmouth bloaters, were making the morning hilarious
with their odd cries and speeches. Along the chimney-pots of Green
Arbour Court, where Goldsmith penned the "Vicar of Wakefield," lads and
maidens were climbing, that they might have commanding places. There
was one young woman who had some difficulty in climbing over a
battlement, and the mob hailed her failure with roars of mirth. But she
persevered, though there was a high wind blowing, and then called loudly
for her male attendant to follow her. He obeyed dutifully, and they both
seated themselves upon a chimney-top,--a picture of love rewarded,--and
waited for the show. The moments, as marked upon St. Sepulchre's clock,
went grudgingly, as if the index-hands were unwilling to shoulder the
responsibility of what was to come. Meantime, the police had their hands
full; for some merry urchins were darting between their legs, and it was
dangerous to keep one's hat on his head, for it hazarded plucking off
and shying here and there. At the chamber-windows aforesaid, crowded the
tipsy occupants, men and women, red-eyed with drinking, and leering
stupidly upon the surging heads below. Some asked if Calcraft did the
"job," and others volunteered sketches of Calcraft's life. One man
boasted that he had taken a pot of beer with him, and another added that
the hangman's children and his own went to school together. "He
pockets," said the man, "two-pun ten for every one he drops, besides his
travelling expenses, and he has put away three hundred and twenty folks.
He is a clever fellow, is Calcraft, and he is going to retire soon."

So the hours passed; the great clock-hands journeyed onward; all eyes
watched them attentively; suddenly the deep bells struck a terrible
one--two--three--four--five--six--seven--eight, and the bells of the
neighborhood answered, some hoarsely, others musically, others faintly,
as if ashamed.

Before the tones had died away, three persons appeared upon the
scaffold,--a woman, pinioned and wearing a long, sharp, snowy, shrowdy,
death-cap; a man in loose black robes with a white neckhandkerchief, and
a burly, surly fellow, in black cloth, bareheaded, and having a curling
jetty beard around his heavy jaws. It is but a moment, that, standing
on tiptoe, you catch this scene. The priest stretches his hand toward
the people, and says some unintelligible words; those of the mob curse
each other, and some scream out that they are dying in the press. Then
the scaffold is clear; the woman stands alone,--God forgive her!--and
when you look again, a bundle of old clothes, tipped with a sugar-loaf,
is all that is visible, and the gallows-cord is very straight and tight.
For the last chapter, consult the graveyard within the jail walls!

The guillotining which I witnessed in Paris, in the month of June, 1864,
may be deemed worthy of an extended description:--

Couty de la Pommerais was a young physician of Paris, descended from a
fine family, and educated beyond the requirements of a French Faculty.
He was handsome and manly, and gave evidences of ambition at an early
age. He was popularly called the Comte de la Pommerais, and at the time
of his apprehension, was expecting a decoration from the Papal
Government, with the rank he desired. Like all French students, he was
incontinent, and had several mistresses. The last of these was a widow
named Pauw, who appears to have loved him sincerely. She had some little
fortune, which they consumed together; and then la Pommerais married a
rich young lady, with whom he lived one year. Her mother died suddenly
at the end of that time, and as la Pommerais was interested in getting
certain moneys which the elder lady controlled, the manner of her death
led to suspicions of poisoning. However, the woman was interred, but the
son-in-law was not so fortunate as he supposed, and he ceased to live
with his wife, but returned to Madame Pauw, who still adored him. Upon
this fond, foolish woman he seems to have premeditated a deep and
intricate crime; and it was for this that he suffered death. She must
have been dishonest like himself, for she consented to a scheme of
swindling the insurance companies; but, unlike himself, she lacked the
wit to be silent, and was heard to hint mysteriously that she should
soon be grand and happy. La Pommerais persuaded her to have her life
insured, which was done for 515,000 francs, or upward of $100,000. When
the matter had transpired some time, he persuaded her to feign sickness.
The simple woman asked why she should do so.

"The insurance people," he replied, "will, when they consider that you
are dangerously ill, prefer to give you 100,000f., rather than pay the
515,000f. in the certainty of your death. You can give them up your
policy, accept the compromise, get well again, and be rich."

Yet this counterfeited sickness was meant by the villain to prepare the
neighbors of Mme. Pauw for the death which he intended to ensue. He was
to make it known to all, that she was dangerously ill; she was to uphold
his testimony; and he was to kill her in due time, and take the whole of
the insurance. At length, the farce was finished. La Pommerais gave to
Mme. Pauw, a poison difficult to detect, called _digitalline_, the
essential principle of our common foxglove; she died unconscious of his
deception, loving him to the last, and he claimed the 515,000 francs at
the insurance office. He was suspected, accused, and tried. The old
suspicions relative to his mother-in-law were revived; the bodies were
exhumed and examined; upon evidence entirely circumstantial and
technical, he was convicted, and sentenced to be guillotined. His
learning and standing made the trial a famous one; his bearing during
the long proceedings was calm and collected; he was handsome, and had
much sympathy: but the jury found him guilty, and the Emperor refused to
extend his clemency to the case. He was put in a strait jacket and
locked up in La Roquette, the prison for the condemned.

The prison of _La Roquette_ (or the Rocket Prison) is situated in the
eastern suburbs of Paris, a mile beyond the Bastile. It does not look
unlike our American jails; a high exterior wall of rough stone, over the
top of which one gets a glimpse of the prison gables, with a huge gate
in the arched portal, guarded forever by sentinels. Before this gate is
a small open plot of ground, planted with trees. _Rue de la Roquette_
passes between it and a second prison, immediately facing the first,
called the _Prison des Jeunes Detenus_, or, as we would say in America,
the "House of Refuge." Standing between the two jails, and looking away
from Paris, one will see the great metropolitan cemetery of _Père la
Chaise_, scarcely a stone's throw distant, and behind him will be the
great _abbatoir_ or public slaughter-house of Menilmontant, with the
vast area of roofs and spires of Paris stretching beyond it to the
horizon. It was to this region of vacant lots and lonesome, glowering
houses, that thousands of Parisians bent their steps the night before
the execution. The news had gone abroad that la Pommerais would not be
pardoned. It was also generally credited that this would be the last
execution ever held in Paris, since there is a general desire for the
abolition of capital punishment in France, and a conviction that the
Legislature, at its next session, will substitute life-imprisonment.
This, with the rarity of the event, and that terrible allurement of
blood which distinguishes all populaces, brought out all the excitable
folk of the town; and at dusk, on the night before the expiation, the
whole neighborhood of La Roquette was crowded with men and women. All
classes of Parisians were there,--the _blouses_, or workingmen, standing
first in number; the students from the Latin Quartier being well
represented, and idlers, and well-dressed nondescripts without
enumeration,--distributing themselves among women, dogs, and babies.

Venders of _gateaux_, muscles, and fruit were out in force. The "Savage
of Paris," clothed in his war plumes, paint, greaves, armlets, and
moccasins, was selling razors by gaslight; here and there ballad-mongers
were singing the latest songs, and boys, with chairs to let, elbowed
into the intricacies of the crowd, which amused itself all the night
long by smoking, drinking, and hallooing. At last, the mass became
formidable in numbers, covering every inch of ground within sight of the
prison, and many soldiers and _sergeants de ville_, mounted and on foot,
pushed through the dense mass to restore order.

At midnight, a body of cavalry forced back the people from the square of
La Roquette. A number of workmen, issuing from the prison-gates,
proceeded to set up the instrument of death by the light of blazing
torches. The flame lit up the dark jail walls, and shone on the helmets
and cuirasses of the sabre-men, and flared upon spots of the upturned
faces, now bringing them into strong, ruddy relief, now plunging them
into shadow. When the several pieces had been framed together, we had a
real guillotine in view,--the same spectre at which thousands of good
and bad men had shuddered; and the folks around it, peering up so
eagerly, were descendants of those who stood on the _Place de la
Concorde_ to witness the head of a king roll into the common basket.
Imagine two tall, straight timbers, a foot apart, rising fifteen feet
from the ground. They are grooved, and spring from a wide platform,
approached by a flight of steps. At the base, rests a spring-plank or
_bascule_, to which leather thongs are attached to buckle down the
victim, and a basket or _pannier_ filled with sawdust to receive the
severed head. Between these, at their summit, hangs the shining knife in
its appointed grooves, and a cord, which may be disconnected by a jerk,
holds it to its position. Two men will be required to work the
instrument promptly,--the one to bind the condemned, the other to drop
the axe. The _bascule_ is so arranged that the whole weight and length
of the trunk will rest upon it, leaving the head and neck free, and when
prone it will reach to the grooves, leaving space for the knife to pass
below it. The knife itself is short and wide, with a bright concave
edge, and a rim of heavy steel ridges it at the top; it moves easily in
the greased grooves, and may weigh forty pounds. It has a terrible
fascination, hanging so high and so lightly in the blaze of the torches,
which play and glitter upon it, and cast stains of red light along its
keen blade, as if by their brilliance all its past blood-marks had
become visible again. A child may send it shimmering and crashing to the
scaffold, but only God can fasten together the warm and throbbing parts
which it shall soon dissever. And now that the terrible creature has
been recreated, the workmen slink away, as if afraid of it, and a body
of soldiers stand guard upon it, as if they fear that it might grow
thirsty and insatiate as in the days of its youth. The multitude press
up again, reinforced every hour, and at last the pale day climbs over
the jail-walls, and waiting people see each other by its glimmer. The
bells of Notre Dame peal out; a hundred towers fall into the march of
the music; the early journals are shrieked by French newsboys, and folks
begin to count the minutes on their watches. There are men on the ground
who saw the first guillotine at work. They describe the click of the
cleaver, the steady march of victims upon the scaffold-stairs, the
rattle of the death-cart turning out of the _Rue Saint Honore_, the
painted executioners, with their dripping hands, wiping away the jets of
blood from the hard, rough faces; nay! the step of the young queen,
white-haired with care, but very beautiful, who bent her body as she had
never bent her knee, and paid the penalty of her pride with the neck
which a king had fondled.

At four minutes to six o'clock on Thursday morning, the wicket in the
prison-gate swung open; the condemned appeared, with his hands tied
behind his back, and his knees bound together. He walked with
difficulty, so fettered; but other than the artificial restraints, there
was no hesitation nor terror in his movements. His hair, which had been
long, dark, and wavy, was severed close to his scalp; his beard had
likewise been clipped, and the fine moustache and goatee, which had set
off his most interesting face, no longer appeared to enhance his
romantic, expressive physiognomy. Yet his black eyes and cleanly cut
mouth, nostrils, and eyebrows, demonstrated that Couty de la Pommerais
was not a beauty dependent upon small accessories. There was a dignity
even in his painful gait; the coarse prison-shirt, scissored low in the
neck, exhibited the straight columnar throat and swelling chest; for the
rest, he wore only a pair of black pantaloons and his own shapely boots.
As he emerged from the wicket, the chill morning air, laden with the dew
of the truck gardens near at hand, blew across the open spaces of the
suburbs, and smote him with a cold chill. He was plainly seen to
tremble; but in an instant, as if by the mere force of his will, he
stood motionless, and cast a first and only glance at the guillotine
straight before him. It was the glance of a man who meets an enemy's
eye, not shrinkingly, but half-defiant, as if even the bitter
retribution could not abash his strong courage. The dramatic manner
which is characteristic of the most real and earnest incidents of French
life had its fascination for la Pommerais, even at his death-hour. Not
Mr. Booth nor Mr. Forrest could have expressed the rallying, startling,
almost thrilling recognition of an instrument of death, better than this
actual criminal, whose last winkful of daylight was blackened by the
guillotine. It reminded one of Damon, in the pitch of the tragedy:--

    "I stand upon the scaffold--I am standing on my throne."

His dark eye was scintillant; his nostril grew full; his shoulders fell
back as if to exhibit his broad, compact figure in manlier outline; he
seemed to feel that forty thousand men and women, and young children
were looking upon him to see how he dared to die, and that for a
generation his bearing should go into fireside descriptions. Then he
moved on between the files of soldiers at his shuffling pace, and before
him went the _aumonier_ or chaplain, swaying the crucifix, behind him
the executioner of Versailles--a rough and bearded man--to assist in the
final horror.

It was at this intense moment a most wonderful spectacle. As the
prisoner had first appeared, a single great shout had shaken the
multitude. It was the French word "_Voila!_" which means "Behold!"
"See!" Then every spectator stood on tiptoe; the silence of death
succeeded; all the close street was undulant with human motion; a few
house roofs near by were dizzy with folks who gazed down from the tiles;
all the way up the heights of Père la Chaise, among the pale chapels and
monuments of the dead, the thousands of stirred beings swung and shook
like so many drowned corpses floating on the sea. Every eye and mind
turned to the little structure raised among the trees, on the space
before _La Roquette_, and there they saw a dark, shaven, disrobed young
man, going quietly toward his grave.

He mounted the steps deliberately, looking toward his feet; the priest
held up the crucifix, and he felt it was there, but did not see it; his
lips one moment touched the image of Christ, but he did not look up nor
speak; then, as he gained the last step, the _bascule_ or swingboard
sprang up before him; the executioner gave him a single push, and he
fell prone upon the plank, with his face downward; it gave way before
him, bearing him into the space between the upright beams, and he lay
horizontally beneath the knife, presenting the back of his neck to it.
Thus resting, he could look into the _pannier_ or basket, into whose
sawdust lining his head was to drop in a moment. And in that awful
space, while all the people gazed with their fingers tingling, the
legitimate Parisian executioner gave a jerk at the cord which held the
fatal knife. With a quick, keen sound, the steel became detached; it
fell hurtling through the grooves; it struck something with a dead, dumb
thump; a jet of bright blood spurted into the light, and dyed the face
of an attendant horribly red; and Couty de la Pommerais's head lay in
the sawdust of the pannier, while every vein in the lopped trunk
trickled upon the scaffold-floor! They threw a cloth upon the carcass
and carried away the pannier; the guillotine disappeared beneath the
surrounding heads; loud exclamations and acclaims burst from the
multitude; the venders of trash and edibles resumed their cheerful
cries, and a hearse dashed through the mass, carrying the warm body of
the guillotined to the cemetery of Mt. Parnasse. In thirty minutes,
newsboys were hawking the scene of the execution upon all the quays and
bridges. In every café of Paris some witness was telling the incidents
of the show to breathless listeners, and the crowds which stopped to see
the funeral procession of the great Marshal Pelissier divided their
attention between the warrior and the poisoner,--the latter obtaining
the preponderance of fame.

I wonder sometimes, if the ultimate penalty, however enforced, greatly
assists example, or dignifies justice. But this would involve a very
long controversy, over which many sage heads have sadly ached.

In the open daylight, when my face is shining, and my life secure, I
take the humanitarian side, and denounce the barbarities of the gibbet.

But when I come down the dark stairs of the daily paper office, after
midnight, and see three or four stealthy fellows hiding in the shadows,
and go up the black city unarmed with my pocket full of greenbacks, I
think the gallows quite essential as a warning, and indorse it, even
after seventeen executions.

So end my desultory chapters of desultory life. It has been, in the
arranging of them, difficult to reject material,--not to select it. I am
amazed to find what a world of dead leaves lies around my feet, as if I
were a tree that blossomed and shed its covering every day. There are
baskets-full of copy still remaining, from which the temptation is great
to gather. It is sad to have written so much at twenty-five, and yet to
have only drifting convictions. I may have succeeded in depicting the
lives of certain young gentlemen who reported the war. All of us, who
were young, loved the business, and were glad to quit it. For myself, I
am weary of travel; rather than publish again from these fragments of my
fugitive life, let me weave their material into a more poetic story,
softened by some years of stay at home.





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