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Title: The Boy Spy - A substantially true record of secret service during the - war of the rebellion, a correct account of events witnessed - by a soldier
Author: Kerby, Joseph
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 "The Boy Spy - A substantially true record of secret service during the - war of the rebellion, a correct account of events witnessed - by a soldier" ***

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    M. A. DONOHUE & CO.
    407-429 DEARBORN ST.


    J. O. KERBEY.



The following unpretending narrative of some of the actual experiences
of a boy in the War of the Rebellion is fraternally dedicated to my
comrades of the G. A. R.

Part of these adventures were recorded in the press of the country at
the time of their occurrence, and more recently, in detached and crude
form, in different papers.

Through the kindly interest of many friends, and especially that of my
relative and comrade, Col. J. H. Madden, of Danville, Illinois, the
revised and collated Story is now offered to the public and corrected
from the original notes and MSS.

    Yours in F. C. & L.,



[Transcriber's Note: Chapter XVIII was duplicated in the text. The Table
of Contents has been changed to reflect the chapter numbers given in the

  CHAPTER.                                                          PAGE

  I. Introductory                                                      9

  II. On Duty as a Spy at the Rebel Capital, Montgomery, Alabama--Living
  in same Hotel with Jeff Davis and His Cabinet--Conspirators from
  Washington Interviewed--Bounty Offered by Confederates before a Gun
  Was Fired--Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens                             19

  III. Pensacola, Florida--In Rebel Lines--Fort Pickens--Admiral
  Porter and the Navy                                                 28

  IV. Crossing the Bay to Fort Pickens, etc.                          38

  V. Rebel Newspapers--On Admiral Porter's Ship                       52

  VI. Admiral Porter Saves the Boy's Life--Interview with the Rebel
  Flag-of-Truce Officers, Who Claim Him for a Victim--Scenes on Board
  a Man-of-War--Return Home by Sea--Reception in New York--Telegraph
  Acquaintances--New York Papers Record the Adventure in Full Page    65

  VII. Reporting to the Secretary of War, at Washington--Ordered on
  Another Scout to Virginia--In Patterson's Army, in Virginia, before
  the Battle of Bull Run                                              80

  VIII. A Night's Scout in Johnston's Army--Rebel Signals--Visitors
  from the Union Army Headquarters Report to Rebel Headquarters--General
  J. E. Johnston's Escape to Beauregard Reported to General
  Patterson--Fitz-John Porter Responsible for the First Battle of Bull
  Run, as He Was Cashiered for That of the Second Bull Run--An
  Important Contribution to the War History of the Time--The Story
  since Confirmed by the _Century_ Historians of Lincoln, Secretaries
  Nicolay and Hay                                                     94

  IX. Reporting to General Bank's Headquarters for Duty--The Life of
  Jeff Davis Threatened--Captured at Harper's Ferry--Interesting
  Personal Letters Corroborating the Supposed Death of the "Boy Spy" 114

  X. At Beauregard's Headquarters--On Duty at Manassas               125

  XI. Important Documents Intercepted at Manassas, which Established
  the Fact that the Rebel Army had no Intention, and Were not Able to
  Advance after Manassas--The Rebel Army Demoralized by Success, and
  Twenty-five Per Cent. Absent from Epidemic--On the Field after the
  Battle--Observation Inside Rebel Camps--Talking with Richmond by
  Wire--Captured by Rebel Picket in Sight of the Signal Lights at
  Georgetown College                                                 134

  XII. Another Escape, etc.                                          154

  XIII. One More Escape--"Yanking" the Telegraph Wires--"On to
  Richmond!"--A Close Shave                                          166

  XIV. On to Richmond--A Night of Terror--A Ghastly Find in the
  Woods--Attacked by Bloodhounds--Other Miraculous Escapes--First
  Visit to Fredericksburg--A Collection Taken up in a Church in
  Virginia for the "Boy Spy"--Arrives in Richmond                    178

  XV. Sick In Richmond--Concealed by a Colored Boy and Unable to
  Move--An Original Cipher Letter Sent Through the Blockade to
  Washington that Tells the Whole Story in a Few Words--Meeting
  with Maryland Refugees--The "Boy Spy" Serenaded--"Maryland, My
  Maryland"--Jeff Davis' Office and Home--A Visit to Union Prisoners
  at Libby Prison, etc.                                              195

  XVI. Richmond--Hollywood--Jeff Davis--Breckinridge--Extra Billy
  Smith--Mayor, Governor, etc.                                       214

  XVII. Richmond--A Close Shave                                      227

  XVIII. Richmond on an Autumn Morning--A Group of Good Looking
  Soldiers--Jeff Davis Passes By--The Battle of Ball's
  Bluff--Richmond Newspapers                                         238

  XVIII. A Narrow Escape--Recognized by Texas Friends at a Richmond
  Theatre--Personnel of the Maryland Battery--Refugees from
  Ireland--Camp Lee, near Richmond--Our Captain--Lieutenant
  Claiborne, of Mississippi--Our Section Drills--Horses for Our Use
  in Town and Adjoining County--Visits of Ladies--Capitola--Popularity
  of Refugees--The Entertainment for Marylanders--Tableau--Jeff
  Davis Strikes the Chains from the Enslaved Maryland Beauty         245

  XIX. Richmond, Fall 1861--Daily Visits to the War Office, Mechanics
  Hall--Evenings Devoted to Visits in Town--Mixed up with Maryland
  Ladies--Fort Pickens Opens Fire on Pensacola Batteries--General
  Winder, of Maryland--Jeff Davis Inaugurated President--Shake Hands
  with Jeff Davis                                                    261

  XX. One Sunday in Richmond--Jeff Davis' and General Lee's Homes and
  Church--Recognized at Libby Prison--Visit to Texas Camp--A
  "Difficulty" Renewed--Thrilling Experience--A Night in Richmond with
  Texas Boys                                                         272

  XXI. Maryland "Refugees"--Coercing into the Union in East Tennessee
  "Refugees"--Parson Brownlow Interviewed--A Happy Experience with
  Maggie Craig--The Battle of Mill Spring--First Union Victory as
  Seen from Inside the Rebel Army                                    293

  XXII. Cruelty of General Ledbetter--Another Narrow Escape--Ordered
  to Cumberland Gap--A Wearisome Journey--Arrived at the Gap--The
  Stolen Letter--Alone in the Darkness--The North Star--Day Dawn     314

  XXIII. Return Home from Cumberland Gap--Meeting with Parson
  Brownlow on His Trip to Washington                                 339

  XXIV. Arrival at Washington--Meets Hon. John Covode--J. W. Forney
  and Senators--Testimony Before Committee on the Conduct of the
  War--Remarkable Interviews with Secretary Stanton--A Visit to Mr.
  Lincoln, at Washington--The Telegraph Corps--Again Ordered to the
  Front, at Fredericksburg, Virginia                                 356

  XXV. Geno--Fredericksburg--A Chapter of War History not in
  _The Century_ Papers                                               377

  XXVI. A Scout to Richmond Develops Important Information--No
  Force in Front of McDowell to Prevent his Co-operating with
  McClellan--The Secretary of War Responsible for the Failure of
  the Peninsula Campaign--Our Spy as a War Correspondent Antagonizes
  the War Department by Criticism in the Papers--Is Arrested on a
  Technicality and Sent a Special Prisoner to Old Capitol by the
  Secretary of War's Orders                                          396

  XXVII. Old Capitol Prison--Belle Boyd, the Rebel Spy, a Companion
  and Friend--A Disguised English Duke--Interesting Scenes and
  Experiences in this Famous State Prison--Planning to Escape
  Disguised as a Contraband--Released on Parole by Order of the
  Secretary of War                                                   412

  XXVIII. Fired Out of Old Capitol Prison--"Don't Come Here
  Again!"--My Friend the Jew Sutler--Out in a New Rig--At the
  Canterbury Theatre                                                 431

  XXIX. Life at Headquarters Army of Potomac--Some Startling
  Revelations as to the "True Inwardness," not to say Cussedness,
  of Our High Union Officials--Interesting Descriptions of Family
  Life at Headquarters--"Signals"--Ciphers--Again Volunteering for
  Secret Service Inside the Rebel Army--A Remarkable Statement about
  Burnside and Hooker--Introduction to General Meade--A Night on the
  Rappahannock Interviewing Rebel Pickets                            451

  XXX. Conspiracies among Union Generals and Northern Politicians--The
  Defense of that Unappreciated Army, the Cavalry--Hooker and Dead
  Cavalrymen--Stoneman's Celebrated Raid to Richmond Truthfully
  Described, and Its Failure to Capture Richmond Accounted for--A
  Chapter on the "Secret Service" not Referred to in Official Reports
  or Current War History                                             480

  XXXI. Farewell to Fredericksburg--General Pleasonton--Cavalry
  Fighting at Brandy and Aldie--Looking after Stuart's Rebel
  Cavalry--A Couple of Close Calls--Chased by Mosby's Guerrillas--With
  Custer in Frederick, Md., the Day before the Battle, Flirting with
  the Girls                                                          510

  XXXII. Sent to Find General Buford--A Hasty Ride--The Battle of
  Gettysburg--Cemetery Ridge--General Doubleday--General Hancock--The
  Second Day of the Battle                                           519

  XXXIII. Closing Chapter                                            548



  "If You are around Here when We Begin the Job, You Will Find out
  all about That."                                       _Frontispiece._

  A Close Call at Gettysburg                                         537

  "Ah! Sketching, Are You?"                                           66

  An Interview with Parson Brownlow                                  304

  "Are You Union, or Confederate?"                                   338

  "Bill, Ain't He the Fellow?"                                       282

  Cavalry Picket on the Rappahannock                                 473

  "Colonel Mosby's Soldiers, I Reckon, Sir?"                         516

  Cumberland Gap--This Was Enough for Me                             329

  Geno Was Not only the Prettiest, but the Sweetest Girl I ever Saw  381

  "Get Up Here, You Damned Old Traitor."                             316

  "Halt!"                                                            150

  He seemed to have Forgotten all about Dressing Himself             359

  I'd Cut Him and Feed the Pieces to the Sharks                       44

  I had Stepped onto the Decaying Body of--_a Man_!                  181

  In an Instant He Put the Point of His Sword against My Breast      347

  In Old Capitol Prison--Disguised as a Contraband                   427

  In Old Capitol Prison--I Admit that I Broke Down Completely        413

  I Was Being "Toted" Back to the Rebel Army                         158

  I Whispered to Him as I Went Past: "Norfolk is Taken."             223

  I "Yanked," or by a Dexterous "Twist of the Wrist," I Was Able to
  Break the Wire                                                     170

  Landing Kerslop over the Side onto the Ground                      177

  Miss Mamie Wells Ministering to the Wounded  [Transcriber's
    Note: This illustration is not found in the text.]               400

  On a Scout to Richmond                                             396

  Recognized by Texans at Richmond Theatre                           248

  Refusing in Her very Decided Manner to Walk under "That Flag"      383

  Tail Piece--To the Boy Spy                                         556

  Tapping the Telegraph Wire--"Are the Yanks in Fredericksburg?"     493

  "Thank God, I'm Safe among my Friends."                            121

  The Sergeant kindly Gave Him the Steel                             441

  "To Father: I am Safe; Are All Well at Home?"                      352

  We hastily Dressed and Ran Back from the Bank                       95

  You always Say _Down_ Here, and That You're Going to go up Home    197




A successful scout, or spy, is like a great poet in one respect: he is
born, not made--subject to the requisition of the military genius of the

That I was not born to be hanged is a self-evident proposition. Whether
I was a successful scout or not, the reader of these pages must

It was my good fortune to have first seen the light under the shadow of
one of the spurs of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the beautiful
Cumberland Valley, in the State of Pennsylvania, near Mason and Dixon's

This same locality is distinguished as the birthplace of President James
Buchanan, and also that of Thomas A. Scott, President of the
Pennsylvania Railroad and its system, under whom I served. Mr. Scott
used to say he had leased this position for ninety-nine years with twice
the salary of the president of the United States.

My grandfather, who had been an officer in the Royal Navy, of Great
Britain, served in the same ships with Lord Nelson, had after the manner
of his class kept a record of his remarkable and thrilling services in
the British Navy during the wars of that period.

The discovery of this, grandfather's diary--amongst other war
papers--after his death, I may say, here, accounts in a manner for the
spirit of adventure in my disposition. I come by it naturally, and
following the precedent, submit this unpretending narrative, as another
grandfather's diary.

It appears that during the embargo declared during the war between the
United States and England in 1812, my grandfather was caught ashore, as
it were, in America.

His brother, George, was in the service of the East India Company, as a
judge advocate, and lived on the Island of Ceylon at that time.
Desiring to reach this brother, by getting a vessel at New Orleans, he
started to walk overland, through a hostile country, to the headwaters
of the Ohio and Mississippi Valley at Pittsburgh, where he could get a
canoe or boat.

It is a singular coincidence that this young English officer, in his
scouting through an enemy's country, traversed substantially the very
same ground--Winchester, Va., Harper's Ferry, Fredericksburg, etc.--that
I, his youthful grandson, tramped over as a scout in another war half a
century later.

It was while on this journey that he was taken sick, and during a long
illness he was nursed back to life by my grandmother, whom he
subsequently married, and there located as an American citizen.

He became the school-master of the community, and in course of time,
Thomas A. Scott was one of his brightest but most troublesome scholars.

In the process of this evolution, I became a messenger boy and student
of telegraphy in the office of Colonel Thos. A. Scott, who was then
superintendent of railways at Pittsburgh.

In the same office, as a private clerk and telegrapher, was Mr. Andrew
Carnegie, now widely known as a capitalist.

"Andy," as this distinguished philanthropist was then familiarly known,
and myself were "boys together," and the reader is permitted to refer to
him for--as he recently assured me, in his laughing and hearty
manner--that he would give me a good endorsement, as one of his wild

Under Mr. Andrew Carnegie's instruction I soon became a proficient
operator, and when but a boy very easily read a telegraph instrument by
sound, which in those days was considered an extraordinary acquirement.
Through Mr. Scott's kindly interest in myself, I had been promoted
rapidly in railway work, and before leaving Pittsburgh was chief or
division operator. This gave me very large responsibilities, for a boy
of my age, as the road then had but one track, and close watch had to be
kept of the various trains moving in the same or opposite directions. It
became a habit of Colonel Scott, on receiving news of any accident to a
train or bridge along the road, to have an engine fired up and be off at
once, with me along provided with a pocket instrument and a little coil
of copper wire. It seems now to me that such trips usually began at

Arrived at the place of wreck, I would at once shin up a telegraph pole,
get the wire down, cut it, and establish a "field station" at once, the
nearest rail fence and a convenient bowlder furnishing desk and office
seat, where I worked while Colonel Scott remained in charge of the work.
He was thus at once put in direct communication with every train and
station on the road, and in as full personal control as if in his
comfortable Pittsburgh office. Such work perfected me in
field-telegraphing. At times, when a burned or broken bridge or a
wrecked train delayed traffic, trains would accumulate at the point, and
the noises of escaping steam from the engines, the progressing work, and
the babel of voices about me, made it utterly impossible to hear any
sound from my little magnet, or pocket instrument. I then discovered, by
sheer necessity, that I could read the messages coming, by watching the
movement of the armature of the magnet. The vibrations of a telegraph
armature are so slight as to be scarcely perceptible to the naked eye,
yet a break, or the separating of the points of contact, are necessary
to make the proper signals. Further experiences developed the phenomena
that when sound and sight failed I could read still by the sense of
feeling, by holding my finger-tips gently against the armature and
noting its pulsations. I thus became by practice not only proficient,
but expert in telegraphy. Telegraphers know, though the general public
may not, that messages can be sent by touching together the ends of a
cut telegraph wire, and can be received by holding the ends to the
tongue. My tongue, however, has always been too sensitive to take that
kind of "subtle fluid."

Telegraphers have many methods of secret communication with each other:
rattling teaspoons or tapping knives and forks at the table, or the
apparently aimless "Devil's tattoo" of the fingers on the table or
armchair are common methods, and I have heard of one in a tight corner
who _winked_ out a message appealing for help. It might be well to avoid
playing poker at a table where two telegraphers are chums, for it is
possible that one might learn when to stay in a little longer for the
raise and make a pot a little bigger.

When Colonel Thos. A. Scott became Assistant Secretary of War he called
into his service the railroaders and telegraphers whom he knew would be
serviceable and faithful to the government. I record here the statement
that the first to reach Washington upon Secretary Cameron's call, was
Mr. Scott and his Pennsylvania railroaders and telegraphers, who rebuilt
and operated the destroyed Baltimore & Ohio railways and telegraphs,
that enabled the first troops to reach the Capitol.

It was on account of my supposed qualification as a telegrapher that I
was subsequently detailed to enter the rebel lines and intercept their
telegraphic communication at their headquarters.

On one occasion, mentioned further on in this narrative, I was lounging
near the old wooden shanty near General Beauregard's headquarters at
Manassas Junction. I easily read important dispatches to and from
Richmond and elsewhere, and repeated the operation hour after hour,
several days and nights. It was unfortunately the case, however, that I
then had no means of rapid communication with Washington to transmit the
information gained, although in later years of the war it would have
been easy, as I was then a signal officer in the Army of the Potomac,
and might have utilized some retired tree-top and signaled over the
heads of the enemy to our own lines. This is rather anticipating my
story, and, as Uncle Rufus Hatch once said, when I was acting as his
private secretary, and he would become a little mixed in dictating
letters to me, "We must preserve the sequence."

It is more than likely that I was too young in those days to properly
appreciate the advantages of the rapid advancement I had gained in
position and salary, especially as the latter enabled me to make a fool
of myself; and here comes in my "first love story," which I tell,
because it had much to do with the adventures of which this narrative

    "I loved a maid,
    And she was wondrous fair to see,"

and I will designate her as No. 1, to distinguish this from numerous
other such affairs--on both sides of the lines. This affair, which
served to further train me for the duties that lay before me, resulted
in a visit, during the winter before the war broke out, to Western
Texas, where a wealthy bachelor uncle had a well-stocked plantation,
between San Antonio and Austin. There I became associated with the young
sons of the best Texas families, and acquired the ability--I had nearly
written agility--to ride a bucking broncho and become an expert shot
with a Colt's revolver.

My experience as a rather fresh young Pennsylvania boy among the young
Southern hot-bloods would make too long a chapter here, but suffice it
to say that a youthful tendency to give my opinion on political
questions, without regard to probable consequences, kept me in constant
hot water after President Lincoln's election.

Among the young men with whom I associated, through my uncle's standing
and influence, was a grandson of the famous Colonel Davy Crockett, with
whom I became involved in a difficulty, and, greatly to the astonishment
of the "boys," I promptly accepted his challenge to a pistol fight. Some
of our older and more sensible friends quickly put an end to the affair.
When my uncle (who was absent at Austin at the time) returned, he
furnished me with a pocketful of gold double-eagles and shipped me off
by stage to Galveston, whence I crossed the Gulf to New Orleans and came
up the Mississippi to my home.

Immediately preceding the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, following closely
upon my return from Texas, I came on to Washington City. The purpose of
this visit being solely a desire to gratify an aroused curiosity, by
witnessing the sights and incidents consequent upon the impending change
of the administration, about which there was much interest and
excitement. As I had plenty of time, but not much money, to spend, I
looked about for a cheap hotel, and was directed to the St. Charles,
which was then, as now, located on the corner of Third and Pennsylvania
avenues. Here I became domiciled, for the time being, and it so happened
that I was seated at the same table in the hotel with Senator Andy
Johnson, of Tennessee, who was living there, and perhaps through this
accidental circumstance it came about that I was so soon to be engaged
in the government's service.

Mr. Johnson, it will be remembered, had obtained some distinction by his
vigorous defense of the Union, in the Senate, at a time when nearly all
the rest of the Southern Senators were either openly or secretly
plotting treason. In my youthful enthusiasm for the cause of the Union,
which had become strengthened by the Southern associations of the
preceding months, I naturally gave to Mr. Johnson my earliest admiration
and sympathy. One day, while walking up Pennsylvania avenue, I was
surprised to see standing in front of Brown's, now the Metropolitan
Hotel, a certain gentleman, earnestly engaged in conversation with
Senator Wigfall, whom I had known in Texas as one of the prominent State
officials under the then existing administration of Governor Sam.
Houston. This gentleman, whose name I withhold, because he is living
to-day and is well-known throughout Texas, was also at that time a
business associate and a personal friend of the Texas uncle before
referred to.

I was pleasantly recognized, and at once introduced to Senator Wigfall
as the "nephew of my uncle." Mr. Wigfall's dogmatic manner impressed me
unfavorably, being so unlike that of Mr. Johnson.

I spent a great many evenings at Brown's Hotel, in the rooms of my Texas
friend, where were congregated every night, and late into the mornings,
too, nearly all of the Texas people who were at that time in the city.
In this way, without seeking their confidence, I became a silent and
attentive listener to the many schemes and plans that were brewing for
the overthrow of the government.

Among the frequent visitors were Wigfall and Hon. John C. Breckinridge,
of Kentucky, both of whom are now dead; but there are yet among the
living certain distinguished Congressmen, at present in Washington, who
were of that treasonable gang, who will not, I apprehend, deny the truth
of the facts I here state.

This gentleman's mission in Washington, as I learned incidentally during
his interviews with Senator Wigfall and others, was to secure the
passage through Congress of some appropriation bill of a special
character, for the benefit of Texas, which, if I rightly remember,
referred to lands or school funds, the object being to secure the
benefit of the act before that State should pass the secession
ordinance. It was understood and admitted during these talks of the
plotting traitors that Texas should, as a matter of course, secede, but
they must first take with them all they could obtain from the general
government, the delay in passing the ordinance being caused only by the
desire to first secure this money, which this agent had been sent here
to press through Wigfall and others in Congress, and upon the advices of
their success being reported to Texas, the act of secession would
promptly follow this twin robbery and conspiracy.

I happened to be present, in the crowded gallery of the Senate, when
Senator Wigfall, of Texas, during a speech in reply to Johnson, in an
indirect and insinuating way, while glancing significantly toward
Senator Johnson, quoted the celebrated words of Marmion: "Lord Angus,
thou has lied." This incident being discussed at our table one day, at
which Senator Johnson occupied the post of honor, I took a favorable
opportunity to intimate to him that I was in possession of facts that
would show Mr. Wigfall to be not only a traitor, but that he was then
scheming to first rob the government he had sworn to protect, and
afterward intended to destroy, and in my boyish way suggested that the
Senator should hurl the epithets back at him.

I did not for a moment consider that I was betraying any confidence in
thus telling of the traitorous schemes to which I had been an unwilling

Mr. Johnson seemed to be impressed with my statements, and for a while
lost interest in his dinner. In his free and kindly way he was easily
able to "draw me out" to his entire satisfaction, and secured from me
the story with the necessary "authorities and references." As he rose
from the table he walked around to my seat, shaking my hand cordially,
while he invited me to his room for a further conference.

After that day, while I remained in Washington City, during the time
preceding the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, and for some weeks following,
I became a welcome visitor at the Senator's room, oscillating between
the headquarters of the rebel conspirators at Brown's and the private
rooms of the leader of the Union cause, and thus was begun my first
secret-service work.

I had brought with me to Washington some letters from Mr. Scott and
other railroad friends, and also enjoyed through this connection a
personal acquaintance with "Old Glory to God," as the Hon. John Covode
was called during the war. This name originated from a telegram which
Mr. Covode wrote to a friend, in which he intended to convey the
intelligence of a great Union victory; but in the excitement of his big,
honest, loyal heart over a Union success, which in the early days was a
rarity, he neglected to mention the important fact of the victory, and
the telegram as received in Philadelphia simply read:

          * * * * "Glory to God.      "JOHN COVODE."

He spelled God with a little g, Philadelphia with an F, but he got there
just the same.

My days in the Capitol at that time were usually spent in the gallery of
the Senate, where were to be seen and heard the great leaders on both
sides. Some of the Southern Senators were making their farewell
speeches, the words of which I, in my youthful innocence, tried vainly
to reconcile with their action, as well as with the proceedings of a
peace Congress, which was being held at Willard's old hall on F street.

The evenings of these days I devoted to the observation of the
operations of the Southern conspirators at the hotel, and watched with
concern the preparations for the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, who had
secretly arrived in the city.

In the course of my amateur work among the Southern leaders, it so
happened that Mr. Covode and Senator Johnson had been brought together,
and they became mutually interested in my services.

One day Mr. Covode said to me: "See here, young feller, you might do
some good for the government in this way. I've talked with Johnson about
you, and he says he'll help to get you fixed up by the War Department."

When I expressed a willingness to do anything, the old man said, in his
blunt, outspoken way:

"Hold on now till I tell you about this thing first." Then proceeding to
explain in his homely, honest words:

"There is a lot of money appropriated for secret service, and if you get
onto that your pay will be mighty good; but," he added, "it's damned
dangerous; for as sure as them fellers ketch you once they will hang
you, that's sure as your born."

When I observed that I wasn't born to be hanged, he said further, as he
fumbled over some papers in his hand:

"I don't know about that either, because Scott writes me a letter here
that says, 'you are smart enough, but you have,'" reading from the letter
to refresh his memory, "'unbounded but not well directed energy'." Which
I didn't know whether to consider complimentary or otherwise.

It was arranged that we should visit the Secretary of War together, to
consult in regard to this future service. We called on General Cameron,
the Secretary, one morning, to whom I was introduced by Mr. Covode, who
explained to the Secretary in a few words, in an undertone, what he
deemed to be my qualifications and advantages for employment in the
secret service.

There were no civil-service rules in force at that time. The Secretary's
office was crowded with persons waiting an opportunity to present to him
their claims. After looking around the room, the Secretary suggested
that, as this was a matter he would like to talk over when he was not so
busy, we had better call again.

In a few days afterward I went alone to the old War Department Building,
where I stood about for an hour or two, watching the crowd of
office-seekers, anxious to serve their country under the new
administration, but without getting an opportunity to get anywhere near
the Secretary's door.

This same operation became with me a daily duty for quite a while. One
morning I went earlier than usual, and met the Secretary as he passed
along the corridor to his office, and bluntly accosted him, handing him
some letters. I followed him into the room, and stood by the altar, or
desk, with a couple of other penitents who were on the anxious bench,
while he put on his spectacles and began to read the papers I had handed
him. Turning to me, he said: "Now I'm too busy to attend to this matter.
I intend to do something in this direction, but I've not had a chance to
look it up; suppose you come--" Here I interrupted him and said: "I'd
like to go down to Montgomery and see what's going on there." This
seemed to open a way out of a difficulty for the Secretary, and he at
once said:

"That's all right; you just do that, and let's see what you can do, and
I'll fix your matter up with Covode." Then turning to his desk he wrote
something on the back of one of my papers in a handwriting which, to say
the least, was mighty peculiar; something which I have never been able
to decipher; it was, however, an endorsement from the Secretary of War.

When I showed the Secretary's penmanship to Mr. Scott, suggesting to him
that I thought it was a request for him to furnish me with passes to
Montgomery, Alabama, and return, Scott appreciated the joke, and
promptly furnished me the necessary documents, saying, laughingly: "You
needn't be afraid to carry that paper along with you anywhere; there
isn't anybody that will be able to call it an incendiary document."

I transferred myself at once to the field of my observations from the
United States Capital at Washington to that of the Confederate States of
America, then forming at Montgomery, Alabama, traveling via Louisville,
stopping a day to see the wonders of the Mammoth Cave; thence, via
Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Augusta, Georgia, arriving late one night in



I was quartered at the Exchange Hotel, which was the headquarters and
home of the leading men of the new government then gathering from all
parts of the South. Here I spent some days in pretty close companionship
with these gentlemen, taking notes in a general way, and endeavoring to
learn all I could in regard to their plans.

I had learned, while skirmishing about Washington, to know at sight
nearly all of the prominent people who were active in this movement, and
perhaps the fact that I had been somewhat accustomed to being in their
society, and being quite youthful gave me an assurance that enabled me
to go about among them in a free and open way, without exciting any

There were among the guests, a recent arrival from Washington City, a
gentleman of some apparent prominence, as I judged from the amount of
attention he was receiving.

I made it a point to look closely after him, and soon gathered the
information that he had been a trusted employé of the Government, and at
the same time had been secretly furnishing the rebel leaders, for some
months, with information of the government's plans. He was at this time
the bearer of important papers to the rebel government. This gentleman's
name, which has escaped my memory in these twenty-five years, was placed
upon record in the War Department at the time.

Jeff Davis, who had been chosen President, and had but recently come
from his Mississippi home to Montgomery, attended by a committee of
distinguished Southerners, who had been deputed to notify him of his
election, lived at the same hotel, where I saw him frequently every day.

There were also to be seen in the hotel office, in the corridors, in
the barbers' shops, and even in the bar-room, groups of animated,
earnest, intensely earnest men, discussing the great "impending

I walked about the streets of the Confederate Capital with perfect
freedom, visiting any place of interest that I could find. Throughout
the city there was not much in the way of enthusiasm; indeed, the fact
that was particularly noticeable then was the apparent difference in
this respect between the people at the hotel and the citizens.

Of course there were meetings and speeches, with the usual brass-band
accompaniment every evening, while, during the day, an occasional parade
up and down the principal streets of the town, headed by the martial
fife and drum, which were always played with delight and a great deal of
energy by the colored boys.

There was an absence of enthusiasm and excitement among the common
people, which was a disappointment to those who had expected so much.

The existence of an historical fact, which I have never seen printed,
is, that before a gun had been fired by either party, there were posted
on the walls of the Confederate Capital large handbills offering a
"bounty" to recruits to their army.

In my walks about town my attention was attracted by a bill, posted on a
fence, bearing in large letters the heading,


The word was at that time something entirely new to me, and as I was out
in search of information, I walked up closer to learn its meaning, and
was surprised at the information, as well as the advice the
advertisement contained, which was to the effect that certain moneys
would be paid all those who would enlist in a certain Alabama regiment.

Lest there should be a disposition to challenge the correctness of this
somewhat remarkable statement, I will mention now that this fact was
reported to the War Department, and a copy of this bounty advertisement
was also embodied in a letter that was intended to be a description of
the scenes at Montgomery, in April, 1861, during the firing on Sumter,
which I wrote at the time and mailed secretly in the Montgomery
Postoffice, addressed to Robert McKnight, then the editor of the
Pittsburgh _Chronicle_, to which I, with an apprehension of a possible
Rebel censorship, neglected to attach my name. Mr. McKnight, the next
time I saw him, laughingly asked me if I hadn't sent him such a letter,
saying he had printed it, with comments, at the time, which, as nearly
as I can remember, was between April 18th and 20th, 1861.

This was probably among the first letters published from a "war
correspondent," written from the actual seat of war.

Mr. Davis occupied a suite of rooms at the Exchange, on the left of the
first corridor, and there were always congregated about his door groups
of men, while others were constantly going and coming from his rooms.

I was a constant attendant about this door, and witnessed the many warm
greetings of welcome that were so cordially extended to each new arrival
as they reported to headquarters.

It seemed odd to hear those people talk about the "President," but of
course I had to meekly listen to their immense conceit about their
"government," as well as their expressions of contempt and hatred for
that to which but a short time before, when they had the control, they
were so devotedly attached.

In the same room with myself was a young fellow who had been at the
school at West Point, from which he had resigned to enter the rebel
service. He kept constantly talking to me about "My State," and the
"plebians" of the North, but, as he was able to furnish me with some
points, we became quite congenial friends and talked together, after
going to bed, sometimes until long after midnight. I was, of course,
when necessity or policy demanded it, one of the original secessionists.

The attention of everybody both North and South was being directed to
Fort Sumter, and a good deal of the war-talk we heard about the Rebel
headquarters was in regard to that.

This young fellow and I planned to go together to Charleston to see the
ball open there, and, with this object in view, he set about to learn
something of the plans of the "President," which kindness I duly

One day, while lounging about the hotel corridors, I learned from a
conversation between a group of highly exuberant Southern gentlemen,
which was being hilariously carried on, that President Davis and his
advisers had that day issued the necessary orders, or authority to
General Beauregard, to commence firing on the Union flag at Fort Sumter
the following day.

These gentlemen, none of whose names I remember, excepting Wm. L.
Yancey, were so intent upon their success in thus "precipitating" the
rebellion, that they took no notice of the innocent boy who was
apparently so intent at that moment upon some interesting item in the
paper, but I quietly gathered in all they had to say to each other, and
at the first opportunity set about planning to make use of this
information; but here I experienced, at the beginning of my career as a
spy, the same unfortunate conditions that had so often baffled me and
interfered with my success in the months and years following.

Though reckless and almost foolish in my boyish adventures, I was
sufficiently cautious and discreet to know that a telegram conveying
this news would not be permitted to go over the wires from Montgomery to
Washington, and to have filed such a message would have subjected me to
serious embarrassments.

There being no cipher facilities arranged so early in the war, I was
left entirely without resource, though I did entertain a project of
going to a neighboring town and from there arrange to manipulate the key
myself, and in this manner try to give the information, but I was forced
to abandon this scheme on learning, which I did by hanging about the
dingy little Montgomery telegraph office, that all their communications
were relayed or repeated once or twice either at Augusta or Chattanooga
and Charleston before reaching the North.

I did the next best thing, however, hastily writing a letter to
Washington, which I stealthily dropped into the postoffice, hurrying
away lest the clerk should discover who had dropped a letter addressed
to a foreign government without payment of additional postage.

Of those yet living who were witnesses of the "Great uprising of the
North," after the fall of Fort Sumter, none are likely ever to forget
the scenes which followed so quickly upon this first attempt of the
Southern fire-eaters to "precipitate the Cotton States into the

Solitary and alone I held my little indignation meeting in Montgomery,
the capital of the rebel government, where I was at the time, if not a
stranger in a strange land, at least an enemy in a foreign country. When
the news of Fort Sumter's fall reached Montgomery it was bulletined
"that every vestige of the hateful enemy has been gloriously driven from
the soil of the pioneer Palmetto State," and I recall, with
distinctness, that the universal comment then was: "We will next clean
them out in the same way from Florida," etc.

I felt that, in having failed to get this information to Washington in
advance, I had neglected a great opportunity to do the government an
important service, but in this I was mistaken, as events subsequently
proved that the authorities at Washington were powerless to prevent the
bombardment that was anticipated.

There was no person among that people to whom I dare talk, for fear of
betraying myself by giving vent to my feelings, so I walked wildly up
and down the one main street of Montgomery in a manner that at any other
time would have been considered eccentric, but, as everybody was wild
that day, my actions were not noticed. Feeling that I must blow off
steam some way or I should bust, I continued my walk out on the railroad
track beyond the outskirts of the town, in the direction of Charleston.
During my walk I met an old "Uncle," whom, from the color of his skin, I
knew to be a true friend of the government, and into the wide-awake ears
of this old man I poured a wild, incendiary harangue about what would
surely happen to this people. This was not a very sensible thing to do,
either, at that time, but I just had to say something to somebody, and
this was my only chance. After having thus exhausted my high pressure on
the poor old man, who must have thought me crazy, I discovered that my
legs were "exhausted," too, and turned my face wearily back toward the

That night there were serenades and speeches, with the regular
brass-band accompaniment impromptu processions up and down the main
street, headed by the fife-and-drum music of the colored "boys," as all
the "likely" colored men were called down South at that time, even if
they were forty years old.

I had seen Jeff Davis once during the day, while in his room surrounded
by a crowd of enthusiastic friends, and, though I did not have occasion
to speak to "the President," I was close enough to him on the day he
gave the command to fire Sumter, to have killed him on the spot, and I
was about wild and crazy enough at the time to have made the attempt
without once considering the consequences to myself, if there had
occurred at the instant any immediate provocation.

Mr. Davis' manner and appearance always impressed me with a feeling of
kindness and even admiration. In the years following it became my fate
to have been near his person in disguise, frequently while in Richmond,
and I could at any time then have ended his career by sacrificing my own
life, if the exigencies of the government had in my imagination required

I took note of the fact that a great deal was being said about what they
would do next, at Fort Pickens, in Pensacola Harbor. To this point I
directed my attention, determined that another such an affair as this at
Charleston should not escape me.

One night, shortly after I had reached Montgomery, when my West Point
companion and I had retired for the night, but were yet talking over the
great future of the South, as we did every night, he almost paralyzed me
by saying, "Well, stranger, you talk all right, of course, but do you
know that you remind me mightily of the fellows at the Point, who are
all the time meddling about the affairs of our Southern States."
Fortunately for me, perhaps, the room was dark at the time, which
enabled me the better to hide the embarrassment that daylight must have
shown in my face and manner. After recovering my breath a little, I put
on an indignant air and demanded a repetition of the remark. This served
to allay any suspicions that he may have been entertaining, for the
young fellow, in his gentlemanly and courteous manner, was at once
profuse in his explanations, which gave me the time to collect my
thoughts. I told him that I was the nephew of an English gentleman, who
lived away off in Western Texas, who owned any quantity of cattle and
niggers; I was then on my way, from school at the North, to my Texas
home, tarrying at Montgomery, _en route_, to meet some friends. This was
more than satisfactory to the young man, who seemed to take especial
pleasure after this in introducing me to any friends that we would come
across while together so constantly in Montgomery.

This mother tongue "provincialism" was one of the greatest difficulties
that I encountered in these Southern excursions, though at the time of
which I am now writing strangers were not scrutinized so closely as
became the rule soon after, when martial law was everywhere in
operation, and provost-marshals were exceedingly numerous. I had
endeavored to bridle my tongue as far as possible. My plan to quiet this
apprehension was to play the "refugee" from Maryland, "my Maryland," or
else, if the circumstances and surroundings were better adapted to it, I
was an English sympathizer who had but recently arrived in the country.
The Maryland racket was, however, the most popular, and it was also the
easiest worked, because I had another uncle living in Baltimore, whom I
had frequently visited, and, as has been stated, I was born almost on
the Maryland line of English stock.

While in Montgomery it did not seem necessary to hang about the
telegraph offices to obtain information. I availed myself however of
this "facility" to learn something more definite about the programme
they had laid out for Fort Pickens, in Pensacola Harbor, to which, after
the fall of Fort Sumter, the attention of both the North and the South
was being directed.

The "Government at Washington" which was at this time cut off from any
communication with its officers at Pickens except by sea, had, after the
manner of Major Anderson at Sumter, secretly withdrawn their little
handful of troops, who were under the command of Lieutenant Slemmer, a
native of Pennsylvania, step by step, as they were pressed by the
arrival each day of detachments of quite fresh militia from the
sovereign State of Florida, to Fort Barrancas first, then to Fort McRae,
on the mainland, and from thence to Pickens, which is located on the
extreme point of Santa Rosa Island, on the opposite side of the bay or
harbor from Forts McRae and Barrancas.

I was able to learn from the general character of its extensive
telegraph correspondence, which was being carried on over the wires,
that President Lincoln had in some way expressed, in the hearing of the
secret agents of the rebel government (who were in Washington and in
constant communication with the conspirators at Montgomery) an earnest
desire to reinforce Fort Pickens, with a view to holding possession of
that one point in the "Cotton State" that had seceded from the Union;
and the Navy Department at Washington, especially desiring to control
the harbor and navy yards located there, had, if I remember aright,
already dispatched by water a small fleet to their aid, but which would
require a week or ten days to reach Pensacola, they having to go around
by the ocean to Key West and up the Gulf of Mexico, doubling the entire
Peninsula of Florida.

As I had left Washington some time before, and had not had any
communication with the North while in Montgomery, all this information
was derived entirely through Rebel sources, and more particularly by the
noisy tongue of a telegraph sounder, which talked loud enough for me to
hear whenever I chose to get within sound of its brazen voice.

I was exceedingly anxious to get back North, that I might take some
active part in the coming struggle, but fate decreed otherwise; and,
instead of getting out of this tight place, it was my destiny to have
been led still deeper into the mire. I was within a day's travel of the
beleaguered little garrison at Fort Pickens, with a positive knowledge
that the government was coming to their assistance, and also the
information that at the same time the Rebel government had some designs
upon them, the exact nature of which I could not ascertain.

In this emergency, while I do not believe that I felt it a duty, I am
sure that I did think it would be a good thing for the fellows at
Pickens to be informed of the intentions of _both_ the governments
toward them, and as I could not then communicate with Secretary Cameron,
at Washington, I concluded to take the matter in my own hands, and find
out, if possible, just what was proposed, and endeavor to communicate
with Secretary Cameron.

By giving close attention to the guests at the hotel, who were mostly
officials of the newly made government, I ascertained by mere accident
that a certain gentleman was at that moment getting ready to leave the
hotel for the boat, on his way to Pensacola as a bearer of dispatches or
as a commissioner--there were lots of commissioners in those early
days--to settle the status of affairs at that point. This circumstance
decided my actions at once, and as I had seen enough of Montgomery, and
was besides becoming a little uneasy about my status there, I concluded
to accompany this commissioner and, if possible, anticipate him in
bearing my own dispatch to Lieutenant Slemmer, so I shadowed the
ambassador closely and walked up the gang plank at the same time he did;
as I remember very well the plank was very springy and the ambassador
of Jeff Davis and the secret agent of the Secretary of War kept step,
and marked time on the gang plank, both bound for the same destination
but on widely different errands.



The sail down the Alabama river from Montgomery to Mobile was most

I do not now recollect any incident of the trip worthy of mention. I did
not, of course, obtrude myself upon our ambassador's dignity, knowing
that as long as the boat kept going he was not liable to escape from me.

There were some ladies aboard, and to these the gallant captain of the
boat introduced his distinguished passenger, and among them they made up
a card party, which occupied their attention long after I had gone to my
room to sleep and dream of my home and "the girls I left behind me."

I became quite homesick that night, and would very much rather have been
aboard a steamboat on the Mississippi river headed up stream than penned
up in this queer-looking craft, loaded with rebels, which was carrying
me, I imagined as I half slept, down to perdition.

There was a steam music machine on the boat somewhere, called a
calliope, which made the night and day both hideous.

They played "Home, Sweet Home," among other selections, but even to my
feelings, at that time, the musical expression was not exactly such as
would bring tears to one's eyes.

The machine, however, served to rouse the lazy colored people all along
the high banks of the river, who flocked to the shores like a lot of

We reached Mobile in due time, and my dignitary and his "confidential
companion," as I might be permitted to term myself, may be found
properly registered in the books of the Battle House at Mobile, some
time in the latter part of April, 1861.

I will mention how, also, that an account of this trip and its object
was written on the blank letter-heads of this hotel, addressed in a
careless handwriting to Mr. J. Covode, Washington, D. C., unsigned by
myself, and secretly dropped into the postoffice at Mobile. I imagined
that Mobile being a large city and having several routes of
communication with the North, my letter might, by some possibility, get
through, and, strange to relate, _it did_, and was subsequently quoted
by Mr. Covode in the Committee on the Conduct of War.

I lost sight of my "traveling companion" while in Mobile. You know it
would not have been either polite or discreet to have pressed my company
too closely on an official character like this, so it happened that he
left the hotel without consulting me, and I supposing, of course, that
he had left for Pensacola, made my arrangements to follow. To reach
Pensacola there was a big river or bay to cross from Mobile. When I got
aboard the little boat, the first thing I did, of course, was to look
quietly about for "my man." He was not aboard, as I found after the boat
had gotten out into the stream, when it was too late to turn back.

An old stage coach or hack was at that time the only conveyance to
Pensacola, except by water. The thing was piled full of humanity inside
and out--young and old men, who were fair representations of the
different types of the Southern character, all of whom were bent on
visiting the next battle-scene--then a point of great interest in the
South since the curtain had been rung down at Sumter.

They were all "feeling mighty good," too, as they say down there; every
blessed fellow seemed to be provided with an individual flask, and
during the dreadfully tiresome drag of the old coach across the sandy
and sometimes swampy roads of that part of Florida and Alabama our party
became quite hilarious.

Among them was a prominent official of one of the rebel military
companies, then located about Pensacola, who was quite disgusted at the
tardiness of their "Government" in not moving at once on Fort Pickens.
He and a fat old gentleman, who was more conservative, and defended the
authorities, discussed the military situation at length during the trip;
and as both had been over the ground at Pensacola, and were somewhat
familiar with the situation, they unintentionally gave me in advance
some interesting points to look up when we should reach there. Among
other things, they talked about a "masked battery" of ten-inch
Columbiads. Now, I didn't know at that time what a "masked battery"
could be, and had no idea that ten-inch Columbiads meant big cannon that
would throw a ball that measured ten inches in diameter.

I had formed a plan of procedure in advance, which was to pretend, as at
Montgomery, to be the nephew of an Englishman, on my way from school in
the North to my Texas home, and was just stopping over at Pensacola to
gratify my desire to see the "Yankees cleaned out" there. I had been
carefully advised early in this undertaking not to attempt to gather
information by asking questions, but, as a rule, to let others do the
talking, and to listen and confirm by observation, if possible. This was
good advice, volunteered by a discreet old man, who had bid me good-by
at Washington some weeks back; and that beautiful spring evening, as I
was being driven right into the camps of the rebel army, accompanied by
men who were the first real soldiers I had seen, I recalled with a
distinctness almost painful the words of caution and advice which at
that time I had scarcely heeded.

When the old hack reached Pensacola all were somewhat toned down, and
after a hearty supper and a hasty look around the outside of the dirty
little tavern at which we stopped, I went to bed, to sleep, perhaps to
dream of home and friends two thousand miles away. The distance seemed
to be increased ten-fold by the knowledge that the entire territory
between me and home was encompassed by a howling mob that would be only
too glad to tear me to pieces, as a stray dog among a pack of
bloodhounds, while the other path was the boundless ocean.

The soldiers who in the early days were not so well disciplined as in
after years, took possession of the hotel, at least all the down stairs
part of it, where there was liquor and eatables, and kept up such a
terrific row that sleep was almost impossible. Early next morning I was
out of my cot, and before breakfast I took a walk around the place.

The town of Pensacola is situated on the low, sandy mainland, on the
bay, and lies some distance from the navy yard, or that portion of
Pensacola which is occupied by the government for the Forts Barrancas
and McRae. This government reservation is quite extensive, including the
beautiful bay, navy yard and grounds, with officers' quarters, and shell
roads on the beach for some distance beyond the yard; on the further
extremity were built Forts Barrancas and McRae, which were at this time
in possession of the rebel soldiers.

Lieutenant Slemmer a short time previously moved his little force of
regulars across the bay to Fort Pickens, which was on a spit or spur of
Santa Rosa Island, almost immediately opposite, but I think about four
miles distant.

This sombre old Fort Pickens is built upon about as desolate and
isolated a spot as will be found anywhere on the coast from Maine to
Texas, but viewed as it was by me that morning, from the camps of the
rebels, standing behind their great masked batteries, in which were the
immense ten-inch Columbiads, I felt from the bottom of my soul that I
never saw anything so beautiful as the old walls of the fort, on which
the Stars and Stripes were defiantly floating in the breeze, right in
the face of their big guns, and in spite of all the big blustering talk
I had listened to for so many days.

How glad I was to see that flag there. I felt as if I could just jump
and yell with delight and then fly right over the bay, to get under its
folds once more. I had not seen the flag since leaving Washington, and
had heard of its surrender at Sumter in the hateful words of the Rebels.
I am not able to describe the feelings which came over me at this time,
and after a lapse of twenty-five years, while I am writing about it, the
same feelings come over me. Only those who have witnessed the picture of
the Stars and Stripes floating over a fortress, viewed from the
standpoint of an enemy's camp, can properly appreciate its beauty. All
my homesickness and forebodings of evil vanished at the sight, and with
redoubled energy I determined to discover and thwart any schemes that
might be brewing in the Rebel camp to bring down that beautiful emblem.
I became apprehensive lest I might be too late, and fearful that these
immense Columbiads, if once they belched forth their ten-inch shells,
would soon batter down the walls, and I determined that the presence of
this masked battery must be made known to the Commandant at the Fort. It
was upon this battery that the Rebels depended for success, as they had
said it was erected secretly, and the big guns were mounted at night.
Fort Pickens had not been built to resist an attack from the rear, as
none such had ever been contemplated; and the Rebel officers knowing the
weakness of this inside of the Fort, had erected their masked battery of
great guns to play upon that particular point. They were all positive,
too, that Lieutenant Slemmer and his men were in total ignorance of the
existence of this battery, which was correct, as subsequently

I became so much interested in the exciting and strange surroundings, in
the very midst of which I found myself one morning at Pensacola, that I
had almost forgotten about our commissioner, who must have left Mobile
by way of the gulf in one of the old boats that plied between the two
cities. Anyway, I had no further use for him now, as everything was
right before my eyes, and I saw at once that they meant war.

It was understood, in a general way of course, that all these great
preparations opposite Fort Pickens was for the purpose of driving off
the "invaders" and capturing the old fort. That afternoon, after having
tramped about over the sandy beach until I was thoroughly fatigued, I
sat down in the rear of some earthworks that were being constructed
under the directions of some of their officers. After waiting for a
favorable opportunity, I ventured to ask one of them if there wasn't
enough big cannon already mounted to bombard that fort over there,
pointing toward Pickens. To which he replied curtly, "If you are around
here when we begin the job you will find out all about that." I did not
press the inquiry further just then, but I kept my eyes and ears open,
and made good use of my legs as well, and tramped about through that
miserable, sandy, dirty camp till I became too tired to go further.

The navy yard proper, which included the well-kept grounds around the
officers' quarters, about which were growing in beautiful luxuriance the
same tropical plants of that section, was between, or in rear of, the
rebel batteries and the town of Pensacola.

In my walks about the camps I strutted boldly through the open gates,
before which stood an armed sentry, and walked leisurely about the
beautiful grounds. I took occasion to try to talk to an old invalid
sailor who had been left at the hospital at that point by some
man-of-war. The conversation was not exactly of such a character as
would invite one to prolong a visit in the place, as all I could get out
from him was "Just mind what I tell ye, now, youngster, will you? The
Yaller Jack is bound to clean out this whole damn place before very
long; you better go home, and stay there, too." After this pleasant
conversation he hobbled off, without waiting for any further remarks
from me.

There was a telegraph office at Pensacola, which I visited. I learned of
a dispatch making some inquiry of the officials about the probability of
"reducing" the fort. I didn't exactly understand then what was meant by
"reducing" a fort, and imagined for a while that it referred in some way
to cutting down its proportions. On inquiry, however, I gathered its
true import, and learned also, by way of illustrations from the lips of
a Rebel officer, that "now that Columbiad battery, which is masked, and
has been built at night without the knowledge of the enemy, is the
machine that is going to do the 'reducing,' or, if you like it better,
demolishing of the fort, because," said he, as he became enthusiastic,
"that battery is so planted that it is out of range of any guns there
are at the fort, and it will work on the rear or weak side of the old
fort, too."

This conversation was held at the "tavern" during the evening, after
this blatant officer had refreshed himself after the day's work. I
ascertained that he had been an officer in the United States Army, and
was of course familiar with the exact condition of the affairs at the

Each day, as soon as I had had breakfast, I would start out on my long
walks down past the navy yard, through and beyond the rebel earthworks.
There was not a single cannon pointed toward the fort or the ships,
which were lying out beyond, that I did not personally inspect.

I made a careful mental inventory of everything, and had the names of
the regiments, and each officer commanding them, carefully stowed away
in my memory, with the expectation, in some way not yet quite clear, of
sending the full details across that bay to the United States commander
at Pickens. That I was not suspected at all, is probably due to the fact
that at this same time visitors were of daily occurrence--ladies and
gentlemen came like excursion parties from Mobile and other convenient
points, as everybody expected there would be just such scenes as had
been witnessed at Charleston a few days previous.

The earthworks, as will be understood, extended for quite a long
distance on the beach and were intended also to oppose the entrance of
hostile ships to the harbor, it being well understood that the fort
could only receive their heavy supplies at the regular landing, or pier,
which, as before stated, was on the inside of the bay or the weak wall
of the fort. Any light supplies, as well as men and ammunition, must
necessarily be landed through the surf, on the outside of Santa Rosa

Fort McRae was an entirely round, turret-shaped old work, situated at
the extreme outer point. Next to it, and some distance inside, was Fort
Barrancas, while all along the beach--in suitable locations--were "sand
batteries" and the great masked battery.

Here I saw for the first time piles of sand-bags laying one above the
other, in tiers, like they now handle car-loads of wheat in
California--wicker baskets filled with sand, which we used to see in the
school-book pictures of the war with Mexico.

No persons were allowed to approach the masked battery, the existence of
which was ingeniously concealed from view by a dense growth, or thicket,
something like sage-bush, that had not been disturbed by the

Sentries were placed some distance from this, who warned all visitors to
pass some distance to the rear, from which a good view could be had of
the entire work. To better conceal this terrible battery, squads of
soldiers were employed, diligently engaged in mounting guns on another
little battery in full view of the officers at Pickens.

Lieutenant Slemmer told me, when I saw him a few days after this, that
he had kept an officer on the lookout continually, and saw all this
work, and though they suspected that larger guns would be put into use,
they had failed to discover any signs of them.

I had formed an acquaintance with a young officer, I think of an Alabama
company, in whose company I had visited some points that were not easily
accessible to strangers. In this way, I got inside of "bomb proofs" and
magazines, and went through Fort McRae, which was then being used as a
guard-house or prison.

With my newly-found friend, I went in bathing in the evenings, and was
introduced by him to others, who had the privilege of using the boats,
and we frequently took short sails about the bay, but always back of the
navy yard, or between that and the town. Looking toward Pickens we could
see at any and all times the solitary sentinel on the ramparts, and
occasionally some signs of life about the "barn door" that faced toward
us. The number of vessels outside was being increased by new arrivals
occasionally, when some excitement would be created by the firing of

One of the queer things, and that which seemed to interest the officers
as well as every soldier in sight, was the display of signal flags at
the fort, which would be answered by the appearance of a string of
bright little flags from the men-of-war, which were constantly dancing
up and down on the swell, while at anchor a couple of miles outside.
Even the colored boys and cooks would, at the appearance of this
phenomena, neglect their fires and spoil a dinner perhaps, to watch,
with an interest that became contagious, the operation of this
signaling. Many of them thought, no doubt, that this was an indication
of the commencement of hostilities, and anxiously hoped to hear a gun

There was some apprehension among the officers that one of the
men-of-war might run past the batteries at night and destroy the navy
yard and town.

If there had been a signal officer on the ramparts of Fort Pickens with
a good glass, advised of my presence on the sandbank (with my subsequent
familiarity with army signaling), it would have been not only possible,
but entirely practicable, for me to have signaled by the mere movement
of my arms, or perhaps fingers, the information that was so important
that they should have. These additional war facilities did not come into
use for a year after, when the necessity arose for it.

There was loading with lumber at the pier at Pensacola a large
three-masted English sailing vessel to put to sea, some arrangement
having been made with the authorities on both sides to permit her to go
out. I had been figuring on a plan to get a letter over to the Fort
secretly. It did not at first occur to me that it would be possible to
cross myself with safety, and knowing that in passing out, this ship
would have to run in close by Fort Pickens, I set about to mature a plan
to make use of this opportunity, and with this object in view I spent
some time aboard the ship trying to make the acquaintance of someone.

But I found this to be too uncertain, and too slow besides. The infernal
Englishmen were openly hostile to the government. It was my daily custom
to sit on a sandbank right in the rear of my Rebel officers' camp, and,
while not otherwise occupied, I would gaze by the hour toward that
little band in the grim-looking old prison of a fort, and wish and plan
and pray that I could in some way have but one minute's talk with
Lieutenant Slemmer.

I felt that I must get word to him at any cost. I could not risk
swimming, on account of the numerous sharks in the water, which were
more to be feared than the harbor boats that patrolled up and down
between the two forces.

There were at Pensacola, as at all such places, small boats for hire to
fishing and pleasure parties. I concluded that by hiring one of these
boats for a few days' fishing, with a colored boatman to accompany me,
while ostensibly spending the day in sight of the guard-boats
fishing--innocently fishing for suckers--to disarm any suspicion, I
might have an opportunity, when it became dark, to crowd toward the
opposite shore of Santa Rosa Island, some distance from Fort Pickens;
and once on the island I could, under cover of night, steal down the
shore to the Fort, and communicate with the officers, and, still under
cover of the darkness, return to the mainland and make tracks through
the swamps towards Mobile or New Orleans.

In carrying out this plan, it was essential that I should find a colored
boatman to pilot and row me out on the bay, on whom I might safely trust
my return and escape from the place. By way of reconnoitering, or
practice, I hired such a boat for a couple of hours' pleasure, taking a
companion with me, and in this way I looked over the ground--or, rather,
water--and concluded that the scheme was feasible, and determined to put
it into execution as soon as possible.

In anticipation of this sudden departure, I made a final visit to the
camp of some of the friends, with whom I had become acquainted, that
night, to say good-by. In this way my Montgomery commissioner's errand
was accidentally brought to view. While talking about leaving, one of
the officers said, "You should wait a day or two and see the fun;" and
when I expressed a doubt as to the early commencement of the ball, he
continued, "Oh, but there is a bearer of dispatches here from
Montgomery, who says those Texas troops have been ordered here, and as
soon as they get here from New Orleans the plan is for us all to go over
on the island, away back, and, after the Columbiads have battered down
the walls, we're going to walk right into the Fort."

Here it was, then: the masked battery was to open the door and the
troops were to approach from the island, and this must succeed, as the
officers in the Fort certainly had no expectation of this sort of an
attack from the rear, and could not resist it.

The men must be prevented from landing on the island; I must go over
that night to post them, and I got there.



Strategy was another of the new military terms which I had heard used a
great deal by these Rebel officers during their conversations among
themselves and with their daily visitors and admirers. The general
subject of conversation was in reference to the plans to "reduce" Fort
Pickens, which persisted so defiantly in hoisting in their faces at
every sunrise the Stars and Stripes, and which was only lowered at
sunset with a salute from the guns of the Fort and the ships, to be
again floated as surely as the sun rose the next morning and the guns
boomed out on the morning air their good morning salute.

This daily flaunting of the flag had became quite as irritating to these
fellows as the red flag to a bull, every one of whom seemed to me to be
impatient to take some sort of steps individually to at once end the war
then and there and get home. In all their talks, to which I was an
attentive listener during the several days that I spent in their camps,
I do not now recall a single expression of doubt from any of them as to
their final success in capturing the fort. With them it was only a
question of time. The criticism or demonstration which seemed to be most
general among citizens as well as the military was, that the tardiness
or delay in ordering the assault, upon the part of the Montgomery
officials, was "outrageous." But now that they had a knowledge of the
recent arrival of the "Commissioner"--whose title was changed on his
arrival at the seat of war to that of "General" and "Bearer of
Dispatches"--all hands seemed more happy and contented.

It was well understood among the higher officers there that the plan of
the authorities was, secretly, or under cover of night, to make a
lodgement on the Island by the use of the shipping they had in the
harbor, and, once securely established there, the masked battery would
open upon the weak or unprotected side of the Fort, and open a breach
through which the Rebel troops would be able to rush in and capture the
little garrison, and "haul down the flag." I had obtained full
information of the enemy's plans.

As I had so closely followed the course of events from Montgomery; had
personally visited every fort and battery; had become familiar with the
number and location of the troops, as well as with the character and
calibre of every gun that was pointed at the flag on Pickens; and had,
beside this--which was more important--secured valuable information as
to the proposed surprise of that little garrison.

My only desire was to get this information to our commander at Fort
Pickens, for their own and the country's good, coupled with a strong
inclination to defeat these bombastic rebels. I had no thought of myself
whatever, and did not, in my reckless enthusiasm, stop for a moment to
consider that, in attempting to run the gauntlet of the harbor boats and
the shore sentinels on both sides, I was risking my life as a spy. While
I do not remember to have been inspired with any feelings of the "lofty
patriotism," I am surely conscious of the fact that my motives were
certainly unselfish and disinterested. That there was no mercenary
motive, may be inferred from the simple fact that I have not in these
twenty-five years ever claimed or received anything from the government
in the way of pecuniary reward for this trip.

I began at once to make practical application of the strategy, about
which I had heard so much in the enemy's camp, and which Mr. Lossing,
the historian, says: "As an artifice or scheme for deceiving the enemy
in war, is regarded as honorable, and which is seldom if ever applied
without the aid of the scout or spy's service."

A reference to a map of the northwestern part of Florida will, at a
glance, indicate the relative positions of the Rebel and Union forces
with far greater distinctness than I am able to describe, though, after
an absence of twenty-five years, every point is as firmly impressed on
my mind as if it were but a week since I saw it all, and I venture the
assertion that, if permitted to revisit the scenes in Florida, I could
locate with exactness the ground occupied by every battery at that time.

Of course it was out of the question to have attempted to cross the bay
to Fort Pickens anyway near the batteries, or in proximity to the navy
yard, because that portion of the water lying within range of the guns
was being very closely "outlooked" all the time, both by the sentinels
and officers with their glasses at each of the Forts. They had nothing
else to do, so put in the long hours scrutinizing everything that made
an appearance on the water. This part of the bay was also constantly
patrolled by a number of guard or harbor boats, which were quite swift,
well manned, and armed with what I think they called swivel guns, placed
in the bow of the boat--a piece of artillery that may be best described
as a cross between a Chesapeake bay duck gun and a howitzer.

I think, too, there were torpedoes placed in the channel, which they did
not want disturbed by anything smaller than a United States man-of-war,
if any such should venture to run past their batteries. I was not
apprehensive of becoming mixed up with any of these myself, because my
route would necessarily be some distance away.

The ships-of-war, which were anchored outside the harbor, had been
detected by the Rebel guard boats in their attempts to run their small
muffled gigs, as they called them, close to the shore batteries on dark
nights. On several occasions these nighthawks came so close to each
other in their patrols that the whispered voices of each could be heard
over the water. This naval outpost, or picket duty on the water, was
conducted pretty much the same as is the usage on a dark night in the
woods--both sides being too much scared to move or speak lest the other
should get the first shot, and mutually rejoiced when the sound died
away in the distance.

The ships outside were being manoeuvered or changed every day. Sometimes
quite a fleet would be in sight, and the next morning half of them had
disappeared. It was understood, of course, that, in attacking the fort,
the men-of-war would at once come to the assistance of its garrison with
their guns, but, if a battery could be placed on the island, the ships
could be driven out of range of supporting distance, and, beside this, a
storm would necessitate their all getting out to sea, so their
assistance would be quite conditional.

This is why the government and naval officers especially desired not
only to retain Fort Pickens, but as well to silence the Rebel batteries
opposite, and to secure and retain that most excellent harbor and navy
yard on the gulf, so convenient for future operations against Mobile and
New Orleans.

My only hope was to cross to the Island, some six or eight miles above
the Fort (Pickens) and nearly opposite the town of Pensacola, whence,
under cover of the night, I might crawl down the shore on the opposite
side to the Fort. This scheme necessitated a good bit of boating, as it
would be necessary to double the route so as to get back before
daylight. In looking about for a boat, and a colored oarsman whom I
could control or depend upon to get me over and back, and then keep
quiet until I could get away toward New Orleans or Mobile, I selected a
black young fellow of about my own age, and in whose good-natured
countenance I thought I could discover a willingness to do anything he
was told. From this chap I engaged a boat for a day's fishing, it being
well understood at the time that no boats of any kind were permitted to
be out after dark. I had, however, taken particular pains to let it be
known at the boat-house, where the boats were usually kept, that myself
and a friend, who was well known there as a rebel above suspicion, were
going together to take a boat for a lark, and they should not be at all
uneasy if we tied up for the night some place above town. I had, of
course, no intention of taking my friend along, and this was just a
little bit of "strategy" to deceive the enemy.

I had, in the hearing of a number of his comrades, directed the boatman
to prepare enough bait and other little requirements for this trip to
last us until late into the night. He was a jolly, good-natured,
bare-footed, ragged fellow, the blackest I could find, and was tickled
all to pieces with the taffy and little bit of money he got in advance,
as well as with a prospect for something extra, if he should be detained
very late that night.

In an apparently indifferent way I also took occasion to mention at the
house where I had been boarding, that I was obliged to leave for Texas,
and made all my preparations accordingly, but proposed to have first a
day's fishing in company with some friend, and might possibly spend the
night with them. I didn't have any baggage to bother about, having
merely stopped off while _en route_ to Texas.

When I got into that little boat that day, I doubt not that I looked as
if I were desperately intent on having a day's fun and was fully
equipped for handling any quantity of fish. I had taken off my coat--the
weather in Florida at that season being quite warm and pleasant--and as
I sat in the stern sheets of the little boat, with a steering oar in my
hand, dressed only in a collarless shirt, pants and shoes, with a
greyish slouch hat tipped back on my head, I have no doubt that my
appearance was at least sufficiently careless or indifferent to disarm
any apprehensions that might rise as to the real object of the trip.

It was necessary, in starting, to explain that my "companion" was
detained, but would join us at a friend's house some distance above the
town later in the afternoon, in the direction of which I as steersman
pointed the bow of the boat, as we pulled out from the shore, bearing
purposely in a direction leading farthest from the Island and the Fort.

My recollection is, that it is about four miles across the bay to the
Island and six or eight miles down the bay to the outside point on which
Fort Pickens is located. With the exception of this garrison, Santa Rosa
may, in the language of the school-books, be called an uninhabited
island. At the present time, however, Geronimo and his band of murdering
Apache Indians are, with their military guard, the only inhabitants of
the desolate place, and they are prisoners.

When we had gotten out from shore a good distance, we stopped for a
while, just to try our luck, but as it was not a satisfactory location,
after a little delay, we moved further off, when we would again drop our
little anchor, to go through the same motions and move out, just a
little bit, almost imperceptibly to those on shore each time.

Of course, my colored boy had no idea but that I really meant this
fishing excursion for sport. He was full of fun and really enjoyed
himself very much. I was uneasy, and imagined that everybody on shore
had conspired to watch our little boat, which was drifting about
aimlessly on the tide, a mile or so out from the rebel shore. On account
of this apprehension, I was more careful to so direct our movements that
suspicion would be disarmed, and, as far as practicable, I kept the bow
of the boat pointed in the direction of Pensacola, actually backing out
into the stream, when the tide would naturally keep us out.

My object was to keep up this sort of an appearance all afternoon, and
then toward dusk (as I had told the oarsman) we would land further up,
where my friend was visiting, and where I had agreed to meet him.

A race over the bay to Fort Pickens with a Rebel harbor boat was out of
the question, even with a mile of a start, because they were not only
quite fast and well manned, but their little cannon were entirely "too
sudden" and could soon overtake us.

Did we catch any fish? will be asked. No, this is not a fish story, and
I was myself too intent upon watching the movements of all the little
boats along shore to pay much attention to the fish; in this case I was
the sucker myself, that was hunting a hole in the meshes of the net that
I might escape.

I had put the latest New York _Herald_ in my coat pocket during the
morning; this I got out and, as I sat in the stern sheets, I pretended
in a careless way to become interested while the colored boy did the
fishing. Along in the evening, about sundown, I saw with some alarm one
of the little tug-boats come puffing around from the navy yard, and it
seemed in my imagination that they were bearing directly toward us, as
we were then far enough from the shore to have excited suspicion. To be
prepared, I directed the boy to take the oars and we made a movement as
if intending to return.

The tug came within hailing distance and, without shutting off their
noisy steam-exhaust, hallooed something which I inferred was the patrol
officer's notice that it was time to tie up. They passed on in to the
pier at Pensacola, while we in the deepening twilight, while seemingly
headed toward shore, were silently drifting with the tide further and
further away.

Being in the stern, with a steering oar in my hand, the colored boy at
the oars, with his face toward me and his back to the bow, he did not
discover for quite a while through the now almost darkness that we were
moving out to sea instead of going in to shore, as I had pretended. When
he did get the bearings through his sluggish brain, he seemed all at
once to have become awakened to a sense of the greatest fear. He stopped
rowing abruptly and, looking about him in every direction, his eyes
seemed to become almost wild with fright, showing a good deal of white
through the darkness that seemed now to have come down upon us all at
once; he said, huskily, as he attempted to turn the boat around with one
oar: "Good Lawd, it's dark, and all niggers got to be in doors 'fore
this. Ise gwine home, boss." When I tried to laugh him out of his
terror, and explained that I had told his master at the pier that I was
going to keep him out late, it did not satisfy him. He insisted on going
straight back over the course I had been leading all day. The poor slave
said: "Boss, it's de law, any nigger caught out at night gets thirty-nine
lashes; and if dese soger-masters knowed I was over on this side, dey
kill me, suah."

We were then probably a mile off the Island shore--the darkness and
distance had concealed us from the rebel shore, and I must not, _would_
not return then. I tried every way to prevail upon this poor ignorant
slave to keep on rowing; that I would steer him to "my friend's house,"
which, in my mind's eye, had been Fort Pickens, but he wouldn't have it
so; he knew, he said, "there wasn't nobody's house up on dat shore."

Under the circumstances, what could I do? He had the oars in his hands
but wouldn't use them, while I, with my steering-oar, was helpless. I
was within but a little distance of the shore that I had looked upon so
often and so wistfully from the rebel side, yet this fellow could
prevent my reaching it; and in attempting to force him to do my bidding
I risked making a disturbance which would speedily bring the guard-boats
to the spot. I do not claim that it was a brave act at all, but,
realizing at the time that I must take command of the boat, I quietly
reached for a stilletto, or dirk knife, which I had bought in
anticipation of having to use or show as a quiet sort of weapon where
any noises were to be avoided. With this bright steel blade pointing at
the now terrified darkey, I ordered him to row, and if he dared take a
hand off the oar I'd cut him and feed the pieces to the sharks in the

I don't know what I should have done if he had resisted, but I think
that at the moment I would have become a murderer, and, if necessary,
have used not only the knife, but also the pistol, which I had by me.

Seeing my determination, and especially the knife, the "contraband" laid
back on his oars and pulled for the shore lustily, looking neither to
the right nor the left, but keeping both his white eyes riveted on my
dagger and pistol.

I comforted him a little, because, you see, I'd got to get back, and it
was necessary that he should keep still until I got away. I knew he
would do this, because it would certainly have been punishment for
himself to have admitted that he had been over to the Yankees.

Now that I had committed an overt act in this attempt to reach the
enemy, the die was cast for me, and I must carry it through. Imagine for
a moment my feelings when the boy stopped rowing suddenly and, craning
his neck over to the water in a listening attitude, said, huskily,
"Boss, dats dem; dats de boat."

Great heavens, we were yet a long distance out from the Island, having
been gradually working down instead of going directly over. My first
impulse was to row madly for the shore, but the darkey knew better than
I, when he said, "Best keep still, and don't talk, boss." Listening
again, I could hear the voices distinctly, and it seemed to me through
the darkness that they were right upon us; we floated quietly as a log
in the water for a few terrible moments of suspense, I took off my shoes
and stockings and prepared to jump overboard and swim for the shore, if
we came to close quarters. If they captured me I'd be hung, while the
slave's life was safe, because he was valued at about $1,800.

Resuming his oar, the boy said, "That's at the navy yard." "Why," I
said, "are we near the navy yard?" "No, boss; but you can hear people
talkin' a mighty long ways at night; we niggers is used to hearin' 'em;
we git chased in every night." After this scare I "hugged" the shore
pretty close; it seemed to me then to have been a long ways down that
sandy beach, because of the suspense and uncertainty, perhaps. We stole
along quietly, not knowing but that some trap might have been set along
the Island to catch any contrabands who might want to run off from their
masters, and again I did not know but what the rebels themselves might
have a guard out there; and if I did see any persons, how was I to be
sure that they were friends from Fort Pickens.

There are some sensations that can better be imagined than described. To
add to my discomfort on that most eventful night in my life, I witnessed
for the first time the strange, weird phenomenon of the phosphorescent
water, which is, I believe, quite common in the South. To me, at this
time, it had almost a supernatural appearance.

While gliding along smoothly between life and death, my nerves strung to
the utmost tension, suddenly I noticed that the oars, as they were
lifted from the water, were covered with a strange gleam and that the
water into which I was drifting had turned to molten lead, without
flame; and as we went along now quite rapidly, there was left in our
wake a long, winding, wiggling, fiery serpent which, to my heated
imagination, seemed to be a machination of the devil and his imps to
illuminate our path for the benefit of his friends--the rebels.

If a picture could be made of this scene, which, I may say, was
dramatic, it should represent our dingy little boat moving along a
desolate shore in the darkness and solitude of a midnight in Florida;
the black oarsman, with open mouth, the whites of his eyes showing most
conspicuously, as he twisted his head around to look over the water in
the direction of the Rebels. I sat in the stern of the boat, dressed in
a slouch hat and open shirt, steering-oar in hand, looking back and
around in a puzzled way at the glimmering will-o'the-wisp trail in our
wake. The distant background would show the grim walls of Fort Pickens,
with a few vessels riding at anchor beyond.

On the other side would be the outlines of the Rebel batteries, with
their sentries, while on the water, the guard or harbor boats.

My colored boatman, however, did not pay any attention to this play of
light about our boat; grimly he dipped and lifted the oars, the blades
covered with a peculiar yellowish light, while the water, as it dropped
back into the sea, splashed and sparkled as I had seen molten metal in
the molds of the foundries at home. In reply to my hushed expression of
surprise, the boatman said: "O, dat ain't nothin'; it's the fire out of
some of dem big guns, I'se lookin' aftah."

We silently crept along in this halo of light, during which time I took
the opportunity to explain to my boatman that I was a Yankee soldier,
going to the Fort to see my friends. The moment that fellow was assured
of my true character his whole nature seemed changed, and, instead of
the cowering, terrified slave, unwillingly doing the bidding of a
master, he became a wide-awake, energetic friend, most anxious to do me
all the service possible. I have forgotten the faithful boy's name, but
I hope some day to revisit these scenes and shall look up his history.

Great Scott! While we were talking in this way, we were startled by the
sound of oars regularly beating in a muffled way, and which we knew to
our horror were coming in our direction. Could it be possible that we
were to be baffled at last? The boy shifted his oars one by one into
the boat, laid his head over the water for a moment, when he whispered,
"Dats a barge." I did not know what a "barge" was, while he explained
that the sounds of rowing we were hearing came from a large, regular
crew of disciplined boatmen in a big boat called a barge.

I judged that we could not be far from Pickens, but how could I tell
whether the approaching boat contained our friends or our enemies. We
all knew that the boats of both parties were engaged in prowling about
every dark night. I had heard, while in the Rebel camps, that it was the
only diversion they had, and volunteers for each night's adventure were

We kept "hugging the Island" pretty tight, and, as the sounds grew
closer and more distinct as they came nearer and nearer, I again
prepared to jump overboard and swim for the island.

As they came closer, I heard the suppressed voices, and was able to
catch something like an order addressed to "Coxswain," which was the
only word I could make out--that was enough, however. I knew that a
coxswain was only to be found in an armed boat, and, of course, I
believed they must be from the navy yard.

I slipped off my shoes and quietly dropped over the side of the boat
into the water, being mighty careful, too, that the boat should be
between me and the sounds, which were now quite distinct.

The boatman laid down in the bottom of the boat while I held on by both
hands and paddled or towed it toward shore. Suddenly, as if a curtain
had been raised, the barge, like a picture on the screen of a magic
lantern, appeared and faded away, thank the Lord, some distance out from
us, and the crew were rowing silently but swiftly in the direction from
which we had just come.

I crawled back into the boat, my extremities dripping, and with reckless
determination ordered the fellow to row right straight ahead. I was sick
of this miserable agony of suspense and would end it, even if we ran
into a man-of-war.

The boatman expressed the opinion that the boat from which we had been
concealing ourselves was from the Fort, or belonged to the shipping
outside, and I afterward learned that he was correct.

When we got a little further down the island shore, voices were again
heard, this time from the land. Now I was sure we were all right, but I
kept along quietly and smoothly until we were in sight of the old fort.
I could now see objects moving about on the ground near the fort. We
crept up still closer, and seeing a group of three persons standing
together, a little ways back from the water, I rose to my feet and was
about to hail them when we heard oars again from the outside.

I sat down again and begged the poor fellow to row for his life, which
he did with a hearty good will; we then passed, without a challenge, a
sentinel on the beach, and actually rode right up to the guard on the
pier of the fort, and myself called their attention to our little boat.

A sergeant, who was within hearing, quickly ran up to the water's edge
and roughly called a "halt," demanding to know our business; to which I
replied: "I want to see Lieutenant Slemmer." We drew in shore; the
sergeant took hold of the bow-string of our boat, and directed a soldier
near by to call the officer of the guard, which was done in the most
approved West Point style. All the same, however, I had gotten through
their lines without a challenge, and if I had been bent on torpedo or
dynamite business, it would have been possible that night to have
surprised the garrison.

While waiting there, the old sergeant, who seemed to be very much
incensed at my cheekiness, in running by his sentries, plied us with

Pretty soon we were landed on the pier, and then I stood right under the
gloomy shadow of the walls of Fort Pickens, talking with a young officer
in the uniform of the United States service, and wearing the red sash of
the officer of the day.

This young officer, whose name I have forgotten, received me cordially,
and ordered the sergeant to take good care of my boatman. My idea had
been, all along, to communicate with Lieutenant Slemmer, whom we had
heard of in connection with the occupation of the Fort, and probably,
also, because I had heard he was a Pennsylvanian, I imagined I should
feel more freedom with him.

The officer of the day, to whom I expressed a desire to see Lieutenant
Slemmer, said: "Certainly, sir, certainly. Will you please give me your
name?" I merely said: "I am from Pennsylvania, and am going back soon,
and wanted to tell him some news." The officer swung himself around and
called to another sergeant "to make this gentleman as comfortable as
possible till I return," which was a polite way of saying "don't let
that fellow get away till I get back." He disappeared inside the
cave-like entrance to the Fort.

Very soon two officers came out, to whom I was politely introduced as a
young man from the other side to see Lieutenant Slemmer--the officer of
the day explaining to me that Lieutenant Slemmer would be out just as
soon as he could dress.

It was late at night, and they had all been sleeping in peace and
security inside the Fort, while I was getting down the bay. During this
interim it will be noted that not one of these officers had asked me a
question. Though their curiosity was no doubt excited, they were all
gentlemanly enough to believe that my business was of a private
character with Lieutenant Slemmer alone.

It appears that the Fort had been reinforced, probably about the time
that the attempt was made to reinforce Sumter, and at this time
Lieutenant Slemmer was not in command at Pickens.

During the wait and while we were talking about the war prospects, I
incidentally mentioned something about Sumter's fall; this was news, sad
news to the little group of officers, and for a moment seemed to stagger
them. When one of them expressed a mild doubt, thinking my information
was from rebel sources, the other said:

"Oh, yes, it's true; it couldn't be otherwise." When I gave them about
the date, they all recalled an unusual commotion and firing of salutes
by the rebels over the bay, which they did not understand at the time,
and this news explained.

It soon became known in the fort that they had a visitor with great
news, and every blessed officer must have gotten out of bed to come
outside and see me. I wondered at the time why I wasn't invited inside,
though I could not have been more courteously treated than I was. It was
quite a long time before Lieutenant Slemmer made an appearance, and when
he approached me and was introduced by the officer of the day with "This
is Lieutenant Slemmer," I looked up in surprise to see a tall, slim man,
wearing glasses and looking for all the world like a Presbyterian
preacher. He was the most distant, dignified fellow in the lot, and my
first impressions were not at all favorable.

However, I briefly explained my business, and told him of the masked
batteries and the proposed attack from the island. Without a word of
thanks, or even a reply, he turned and told one of the officers, who had
stood aside to permit us to talk privately, to call Captain Clitz; and
while he was doing this Mr. Slemmer stood by me with his arms
folded--the only words he spoke were: "Oh, that's it."

Soon Captain Clitz, who was a large, rather portly officer, approached,
in company with my officer, and, without waiting for an introduction, he
walked up to me with his hand out, smilingly saying, "Ah, how do you
do?" and, turning to Slemmer, he said, "Mr. Slemmer, I'm very glad your
friend called to see us."

There was a long, earnest talk on the wharf that night, which was
listened to and participated in by all the group of officers. Lieutenant
Slemmer--after Captain Clitz's greeting--said: "This is Captain Clitz,
the commander here now." And to him all my communications were directed.

I was, of course, questioned and cross-questioned in regard to every
point of detail which could be of interest to them, and I believe I was
able to satisfy them on every point.

I had understood, and believed it true, that General Winfield Scott had
joined the rebels, and when I mentioned this among the other items of
news, my young officer of the day spoke up quickly, saying: "Oh, no, I
can't believe that. General Scott may be dead, but he is not a traitor."

In comparison with Lieutenant Slemmer's dignified bearing, Captain
Clitz's kindness and cordiality to me that night will ever be remembered
with feelings of profound gratitude. While I was thus talking to the
officers, the sergeant and his detail of men were busily engaged in
questioning my colored boy, and from him they learned the story of our

The sergeant was brought to task roundly, by the officer of the day, for
the failure of his sentinel up on the beach to halt our boat before
getting so close to the pier. His explanation was that they saw us but
supposed it was the boat belonging to the garrison.

How long I should have been detained on that old pier, under the shadow
of the walls of the fort, entertaining those officers, is uncertain, had
I not had before me, like a spectre, the remembrance of the rebel
sentries and guard-boats, that I must again run through to get back in
safety. One of the officers very kindly proposed that they would man one
of their boats and convey us as far up the beach as they could go, and
thereby relieve us of the tiresome pull on the oars. While this was
being arranged, I gave to Lieutenant Slemmer a more detailed account of
the honors that were being paid to him in the North, in connection with
Major Anderson, for his bravery in saving Pickens. And I also told him
about the attentions which were being showered upon his wife, who, it
seems, had been permitted to pass through the Rebel lines to her home in
the North soon after his moving into Fort Pickens.

To Mrs. Slemmer, it seems, was due some of the credit and glory of this

After receiving from Captain Clitz his hearty acknowledgment, and a
farewell shake-hands from all the officers, I got aboard the well-manned
barge for a return voyage, our little boat being towed in the rear.

Getting into the boat seemed to bring to mind the shipping outside, and
I incidentally asked if any of their boats might be going to Mobile
soon, thinking that would save me the dangerous jaunt over the swamps. I
had no fears but that I should land all right at Pensacola, but I did
feel some apprehension about my boy being able to avert the questions
that I knew he would be asked on his return.

Captain Clitz spoke up from the end of the pier, "There are no boats
likely to go to Mobile, but one of the transports will return to New
York soon; would you prefer to go that way?"

After a little explanation, it was settled that I should take the ship
home, and my colored boy went back alone--at that time they were not
taking care of contrabands--and I was rowed out to the shipping, and
that night slept sweetly in a hammock on board Captain Porter's ship,
the Powhattan.



While numerous newspaper attacks were being printed in the chivalrous
press of the South concerning a defenseless boy who had succeeded,
unaided and alone, in thwarting their plans to compel the surrender of
Fort Pickens, I, in blissful ignorance of it all, was quietly
experiencing the daily routine life aboard the blockading war ship,
which was anchored in full view of the Rebel batteries through which I
had been scouting but a few days previously.

I was, of course, something new and fresh on board the ship, and the way
those chaps went for me was peculiar.

Did you ever try to get into a hammock? I mean a _real_ hammock--one of
those made out of canvas cloth, which, rolled up--or slung, I think they
call it--looks like a big pudding.

I was put in charge of one of the petty officers, as they call them
aboard a ship, who correspond to the non-commissioned officers of the
army. My particular guardian was, I believe, the ship-chandler, an old
salt who had charge of a little den of a room, somewhere between decks,
which was crammed full of lamps or candles.

They were crowded with men and officers aboard the Powhattan at that
time, so I had to turn in with this mess. I was given a hammock--a nice,
clean lot of bedding was bundled up inside; it had a number painted on
it, to which my attention was carefully called; then I was shown the
corresponding number on deck where that particular hammock fitted in
like a chink in a log-house, and where, I was told, it had to be placed
at a certain "bell," or when the boatswain would sing out a certain

When the time came to go for the hammocks the first night, I followed my
leader, shouldered the bag, and marched down in line with the rest. I
found afterward the most difficult thing to learn about the navy is to
get _into_ a hammock, stretched above your head, and the next difficult
thing is to stay in it, while the third trouble is to get out of it
without lighting on your head.

My old guardian was busy somewhere with his lights, and when the signal
came to turn in, every man of that immense crowd seemed to disappear,
like so many prairie dogs into their holes, leaving me standing alone on
the deck under my hammock. Then the petty officer, in his deep, bass
voice, said something to me about clearing that deck. I made a jump for
the thing, and hung half way across it, as if I were in a swing, able to
get neither one way or the other--the hammock would move every time I'd
move. Lots of bare heads were sticking out over the hammocks, offering
advice of all sorts; one chap proposed to give me a leg, which I
gratefully accepted, when he lifted me so quickly that I toppled over
the other side of the hammock on to the floor, where I lay saying my
evening prayers, while the whole lot of crows in the roosts above
laughed at my predicament. The show was beginning to create so much
noise down below that the fellow with the big voice was compelled to
interfere and put a stop to it, which he did by ordering one of the men
to hold my horse while I got aboard.

He kindly explained to me the _modus operandi_ of getting into a slung
hammock, which was, as we used to say in tactics, in one time and three
motions; first, grab the thing in a certain way with two hands, put one
foot in first, and then deftly lift the body up and drop in; once there,
the difficulty was not over, as it required some practice to keep
balanced while asleep, especially to a landsman like myself. I was
cautioned to part my hair in the middle, and lie there as stiff as a

It was great fun for the sailors of that mess. In the morning, after a
fair night's rest, I was awakened by the man-of-war's reveille, and
literally tumbled out of the hammock, landing on all fours on deck, for
the thing was as hard to get out of as it was to get into. But now the
sailors, who had so much fun at my expense the night before, showed the
greatest kindness and did what they could to teach me to strap or lash
it up, and I was ready to take up my bed and walk with the rest of them,
and stored it away while it did not yet seem to be daylight.

I was invited to the best mess for breakfast, which I was able to enjoy
very much, and I spent the greater portion of the day on the big
wheel-house of the ship, pointing out to the officers the location of
the different batteries in the rebel line. The officers were quite
courteous and kind, and, as may be imagined, listened with the greatest
eagerness to the news which I was able to give them. The New York
_Herald_, which was the only thing in the shape of "papers" that I had
brought with me, was eagerly read, the officers almost quarreling for
its possession. It was finally settled by their cutting it up and
dividing the pieces around.

The Powhattan was one of the largest vessels of the old-fashioned
side-wheel class, and at that time was literally bristling with her
armour, having been hurriedly fitted out at Brooklyn Navy Yard at about
the same time the other vessels sailed to the intended relief of Sumter.

An old salt gave me his account of their trip out, which, as nearly as I
can recollect, was something like this:

"We had just returned from a cruise, ye know, to China, and wanted to
stay home a bit, because the Engineer Board condemned one of our boilers
as dangerous, so, of course, no one aboard thought of going to sea again
in her. Well, by thunder, one night they sent a draft of men aboard, and
the next morning we were steaming out somewhere--we all thought to some
other yard.

"The officers had what they called sealed orders, not to be opened till
we were outside, don't you know. That black-whiskered chap"--pointing
with his thumb toward Captain Porter's cabin--"was aboard, and we all
thought he was our sky pilot, as he was dressed just like a parson or
chaplain; but when we got out, and the orders were opened, he had
changed his black duds, and, by gad, he took us in tow, just like a
pirate king, and fetched us all down to this blasted hole to die of
Yaller Jack.

"On the voyage down, every man of us was worked to death; day and night,
all hands were going, unpacking boxes of arms that had been smuggled
aboard, and them brass things you see back of the purser's
'cow-house'"--as he called the wheel-house--"we boxed up like dead men
in coffins. Well, some of the men swore we were turned pirates; and a
lot more of us was dead sure we were going out as a privateer for Jeff
Davis. You see the sealed orders was to Captain Porter, and he had just
come aboard at night, and they say he came right over from Washington
City that same day, and, of course, he knew what was up, but no one else

"We found out, though, after that. The plan for us was to run down and
go right straight ahead into the harbor, past the Fort and them Rebel
Batteries. If we was inside once, we could drive them off and get the
navy yard, you know, and they couldn't get onto the Island, don't you
know. Well, when we got near Pensacola, what did they do but begin to
burn some soft English coal, what was stored aboard, so's to make a
black smoke, don't you see, and make them Rebels believe we were an
Englishman going to Pensacola. Well, Porter was on hand, you bet, and
every other fellow was on hand, too, and we were going to run right
straight by the derned Batteries, without stopping or showing our
colors; but the 'Old Man,' as we termed the admiral, or Senior Officer
Alden, who had preceded us, as soon as we came up signaled to drop
anchor; and the Lord only knows how long we will stay, if that condemned
boiler don't bust.

"The old black-whiskered parson was mad, because he didn't get to go
ahead, and he mopes in his den all the time, just like a bear with a
sore head, cross at us all, as if we was to blame."

Rear-Admiral David D. Porter was, at that time, ranking as a lieutenant
in the navy, though he had been selected specially by Mr. Lincoln to
command the Powhattan on this relief expedition. As I saw him daily
aboard his ship, he appeared, to my eyes, to be a hearty, blustering,
handsome naval officer, in the prime of life, wearing a full, black
beard, which, with his sharp eyes and commanding presence, impressed me
with the idea that the old tar had suggested, as being a model pirate

Those who have not been aboard a man-of-war while in commission and
engaged in actual sea service, and have formed their impressions from
casual visits to a ship in port, would scarcely realize the changed
condition of affairs. The captain is a little king, with absolute power,
and lives in great style, all by himself, in his beautiful den of a
cabin, at the extreme aft-end of the ship. He _never_ comes forward, I
believe, and walks only on one side of the deck. I think he doesn't
permit anyone to approach his highness, except through the regular

He may be a good fellow ashore and will eat and drink with you at the
hotel bars, like any ordinary bit of humanity; but dear me, aboard his
ship he is a holy terror.

Not being an enlisted man myself, and only a sort of a refugee aboard
ship, wholly unacquainted with the new order of things, I was constantly
doing something or other that interfered with the rules, and, as a
consequence, was an object of disgust to the minor officers and, I
suspect, a source of amusement to a great many others.

Naval officers, I understand, never like to have a civilian aboard their
ships, probably because they are not amenable to the strict discipline,
and another reason is, that a common landsman does not pay that homage
and respect to their rank that is exacted of the seaman.

As I was promenading up and down the deck the first morning, an officer,
whom I was told was Lieutenant Perry, the executive officer, sent one of
the smartly-dressed marines to me, who approached pleasantly and said:

"The executive officer directs that you will please walk on the port
side of the deck." Well, I looked at my feet, then at the grinning
marine, and asked him what was the matter. I didn't know there was such
a thing as a port side of a deck; but he explained that the one little
place where I had been taking my morning air was reserved exclusively
for the captain of the ship.

The captain sent his orderly to escort me to his presence in his cabin;
the marine was, of course, all fixed up with his natty uniform,
white-crossed belts, and little sword, and as we approached the lion's
den, he knocked as if he were afraid somebody might hear him, and when a
gruff voice within sang out "Come!" he stiffened up as if he had heard
an order to "present"; then swinging open the door, swung around briskly
and saluted; and before he could say his little speech, the captain
spoke up:

"That will do, Orderly," when he went through the same motions as when
we entered, and left me alone with the bear.

The captain astonished me by reaching for my hand, and, gently pushing
me over to a huge sofa, sat down beside me, and began to talk in a most
cordial manner about my adventure at Montgomery and Pensacola, which
lasted quite a little while, and ended with an invitation to take
something, which I was forced to decline.

My interview with the captain seemed to have a wonderful influence not
only on the minds, but over the actions as well, of the petty officers
and sailors, who had been guying me so mercilessly every hour of my stay
among them. I was at once treated with the utmost consideration by
everybody on board, and it appeared to me that every old salt, who wore
a piping whistle at the end of a white cord about his neck, was anxious
to talk with me in confidence.

To excite the curiosity of a lot of old sailors aboard ship is like
bringing a swarm of mosquitoes about one's head; and the way I was
pestered with questions and cross-questions, as well as all sorts of
surmises and hints, would distract any one, excepting, perhaps, the
well-seasoned and tanned hides of their own kind.

Captain Porter is the only man on board the ship to whom I told my
story, though questioned in a gentlemanly manner by the other officers.
I was able to hold and keep my own counsel from them all. I was to them
a refugee, and that was all the satisfaction any of them got from me,
except that in a general way I was free to tell anybody all I knew about
the Rebel batteries and forces; but why I had gone to Pickens was
explained only to Captain Porter, who believed my story, from the
interview with Secretary of War Cameron down to getting aboard his ship.
Though I had nothing whatever to show as proof, having brought with me
to the ship only the rather scanty clothing I wore, having almost
stripped myself in anticipation of a swim for life while crossing the

Right here I may mention that my family preserves with the greatest care
a sailor shirt, on which is an elaborately embroidered star in colors,
in each corner of the broad silk collar, also a pair of white duck
sailor trousers. These useful as well as beautiful articles were
presented to me by some of the men aboard ship, for which present, I
have often thought since, I must have been indebted to Captain Porter's
influence, as the articles are of such value that the old fellow who
stowed them in my hammock would scarcely have parted with them without
some remuneration.

The needlework on these articles was all done aboard ship by the
stiffened and well-hardened fingers of an old sailor, and I do not
exaggerate in saying, for rare and delicate workmanship, they are not
excelled by anything I have seen in the same line since.

The monotony of life aboard ship was relieved somewhat by the every-day
drill of the marines, under command of Lieutenant Broome, whose name I
remember distinctly, as being associated in my mind with "a new broom,"
he always looked so sleek and nice in his fresh uniform. The sailors
were also drilled at the big guns, fore and aft, which they would pull
and haul about for hours at a time under the commands of some officer.

One day Captain Porter astonished the Rebels, as well as our own
officers, by a mock naval battle. At a certain hour and upon a given
signal, all hands were called to quarters unexpectedly, Captain Porter
appearing on the bridge with an immense big brass trumpet in his hands,
through which he bellowed out something which everybody but me seemed to
understand. Men went up the rigging like a lot of monkeys in trees;
others yanked out the big cutlasses. At the command, "Repel boarders!"
they would climb up the sides of the ship and cut and slash their
invisible enemies at a dreadful rate. Then suddenly an order came to
load the guns; and in an instant almost, men whom I had not seen popped
up out of the holds and handed to others, who had evidently been
expecting them, cartridges, which were rammed into the big mouths of the
cannons; then all stood still as death--but for an instant only--when
the brass trumpet belched out something about a "Broadside," and--Great
Scott! it makes me tremble while I write about it--every gun on that big
ship, great and small, went off at the same time, and almost lifted the
ship out of the water.

They kept firing and loading in this way for quite a little while,
Captain Porter, during this time, standing quietly and unconcernedly on
the bridge, with his watch in one hand and the trumpet in the other.
When he was ready, another order was fired through his telephone, and
the firing ceased as suddenly as it had begun.

During all this hubbub, when every fellow had a place to go and stay, I
was jumping around from one place to another, like a hen on a hot
griddle, trying to find some spot where I might not be in anybody's way.
When the firing ceased, the ship was rolling about and, as we were
encompassed by the smoke, it seemed as if we were sailing in a cloud in
mid air.

Captain Porter, from his position on the bridge, began at once to
catechize the different officers, precisely as a school-master would a
class, asking each in turn, as he pointed to him:

"How many rounds, Mr. Broome?" And if the answer was not satisfactory,
an explanation was demanded. I remember that the assistant engineer's
position was at the little brass pieces, elevated abaft the wheel-house,
and their work was not at all satisfactory to Captain Porter, who did
not hesitate to so express himself, much to the disgust of the engineers
and the amusement of the other officers.

When the cloud of smoke lifted and we could see over the water, we found
all the other ships of the squadron watching us, while the ramparts of
Fort Pickens was to be seen crowded with men, no doubt wondering what
was up. They, no doubt, supposed the ship's magazine was afire. The
Rebel Batteries were black with men, who imagined, of course, that the
ship was fighting some of their own craft.

It appeared afterward that this trick of Captain Porter's came very near
bringing on a conflict with the Rebs, as they prepared to open their
batteries on the fort. If the drill had continued a little longer it
would have resulted in bringing about a genuine fight. Perhaps this is
what Captain Porter desired.

There was some influence that fretted him very much at the time, which I
have never heard explained. It was well known that he was most eager for
the fight to begin.

Early one bright morning our lookout spluttered out something, to which
the officer on deck at the time--who was Lieutenant Queen, at present
commandant at the Washington Navy Yard, and to whom I was talking at
that instant--startled me by singing in my ear:

"Where away?"

The fellow above said something about two points on our port bow.

Mr. Queen left me abruptly to report to the captain, who soon appeared
on deck. I climbed up to a good place from which to look out, and gazed
in the direction in which Mr. Queen and the captain were pointing, but
failed to see anything myself.

Orders were issued to prepare a little boat that was attached to the
Powhattan, as a sort of dispatch boat, and an officer, whose name was
Brown--a fat, jolly young man whom Captain Porter seemed to think highly
of--was put in charge.

This little craft hoisted sail and went dancing about on the water like
a sea-bird. By this time two steamers were in sight, approaching us.

Who they were and what they were after was just what everybody wanted
to know; the old sailors, who are always croakers, had any quantity of
ridiculous stories about their errand and our rapidly approaching fate.

Signals went up on Fort Pickens, and I discovered, _first_, that signals
were being made from the Rebel Batteries, in rear of their Forts, and
reported the fact, the circumstance awaking in Captain Porter a lively

Tho little sea-bird, with Mr. Brown, went out toward the approaching
ships, as if to meet them; orders were given by somebody, I suppose, but
I failed to hear them, to weigh anchor, which was quietly done; then,
instead of the ships halting to communicate with Mr. Brown's signals,
they went nearer to the Rebel Batteries, while the black smoke poured
out of the chimneys, and the paddle-wheels whirled around.

All at once I jumped two feet high, because a gun behind me went off.
Still the wheels went round and round, and the water was foaming in
their wake. All hands and eyes were on the ship in the lead, when boom
went another gun; and there is where I saw the first hostile gun fired.
There was a splash in the water some distance this side of the ship, but
in her front, then another splash on the same line further on; this was
the first shot across her bow, and it had the immediate effect of
stopping those paddle-wheels as suddenly as if she had been hit in the

She "hove too"--there was a long confab with the captain of the boat,
which turned out to be ships from Mobile bound to Pensacola with
supplies--appealed from Porter to the old admiral, and the end of it all
was, the two boats loaded with supplies and probably ammunition, were
not permitted to go on past the Fort inside the bay to Pensacola, as
Captain Porter decidedly protested against it, and they were escorted
back to Mobile.

They were not war ships, and at that time some of our officers had
peculiar ideas of the rights of Rebels: as, for instance, the refusal to
allow my colored boy, Friday, to remain at the Fort because he was
property, etc.

In our mess I think there were four of as jolly, good-hearted tars as
may be found in any navy, who vied with each other in their efforts to
make my stay with them as comfortable as possible. I presume my
popularity was increased a little bit, from the fact that I really
couldn't swallow the gill of grog, nor use tobacco, that was issued to
every one who wanted it, and my portion was scrupulously drawn and
assigned to our mess.

I was here first introduced to sea biscuit, which you know is the naval
term of S. O. B. Every old soldier will know the meaning of those
cabalistic letters.

One fellow, who was so droll that he kept the mess in a roar all the
time, insisted that some of the sea biscuit then being issued by the
commissary had been left over from the Revolutionary War. They were
really as hard as a board; it was often as good as a show to watch the
antics of Jack trying to weld them, like iron, at the galley range, or
to put them under the rollers of the big cannon for a chuck stone.

The pickled pork he declared was alive with worms, and insisted upon
taking me up the main mast, to prove to me that great chunks of it were
able to crawl up the polished mast to the fore-top. While eating our
grub (as they call it), when the cook had prepared a particularly nice
dish of scouce (I think that's the way it's spelled), Jack would pretend
to be so hungry that he and another chum would get on all fours and
squeal for all the world like a lot of hogs in a pen.

Every day there would be signals exchanged between our ship and the
others, or with Fort Pickens, and occasionally boats from the other
vessels would come to our side bringing officers to visit our officers.

For some days my daily life was spent in this way. I began to imagine,
from some of the yarns that I was compelled to overhear from the sailors
at night, that something was going wrong with me; nothing had been
intimated to me directly by any of the officers, who were uniformly
courteous, excepting, perhaps, Lieutenant Perry, the executive officer
who had general charge of everything. On another occasion he had picked
me up sharply for daring to handle a marine glass that I saw on the
bridge one day and elevated toward the Rebels.

The sailors, who, of course went with the boats to the fort as oarsmen,
must have brought back some exaggerated stories about me, judging from
their actions and talk. If any of those who may read my story have ever
been compelled to listen to old sailors' or old soldiers' stories and
croakings, they will be able to sympathize with me in my misery. I can
think of no comparison that will approach so near my conception of the
situation as that of being caged in an insane asylum with a crowd of
cranky old lunatics, and being compelled to hear all they have to say
without being able to escape from the horror.

This Lieutenant Perry was, I believe, a nephew of Commodore Perry, of
Lake Erie fame, and perhaps a very capable officer, though I do not
recall having heard his name during the war, which followed so closely.
He was evidently prejudiced against me from the first day, probably
because I declined to be interviewed by him.

One day I was surprised by having him call me aside and commencing a
conversation about the war, during which I expressed some decided
opinions about the earnestness and sincerity of the Rebels. And I
probably gave vent to my disgust at the permitting my colored boy to be
sent back to slavery and possibly punishment.

A short time after this I was invited to the captain's cabin. On
entering, I found Mr. Perry and the captain in consultation. After a
pleasant greeting, Captain Porter said:

"We have just learned that the Rebels have a lot of big guns at
Montgomery which they are to send to Pensacola." When he got this far, I
interrupted him to say, "That is hardly correct, as I had been in
Montgomery, and they had no guns of any kind there." Perry spoke up and
said they meant Mobile. Porter continued, smilingly: "Yes, it's Mobile,
of course. Well, we want to spike those guns right there." Not for a
moment thinking they were putting up a job on me, I looked anxiously in
Porter's face for a clue to his meaning, in thus talking to me. Looking
me squarely in the eye, he said:

"Now the government pays handsomely for this service," patting his pants
pockets to make some keys rattle. Still I did not like the appearance of
things, and perhaps too abruptly interrupted to say:

"Yes, I know; but the Rebels aren't going to let any one do that."

Then ensued a long confab, in which Lieutenant Perry did most of the

Captain Porter finally said to me, with a peculiar look:

"Now I have some little file-shaped things, just made for that purpose;
all a man has to do is to quietly drop one of these into the vent, and
they don't even know it's there, till they want to fire the gun."

This looked plausible, and I began to feel as if I'd like to try that
simple little trick, but I told him candidly that I couldn't undertake
it; that they would surely hang me, if caught; and that it wouldn't be
well for me to run the risk just then.

"Oh," says Perry, "we will man a boat and land you on the beach ten miles
from Pensacola."

"Yes," spoke up Captain Porter, "we will put you ashore any place you
want to go."

Without a moment's thought, except a desire to do any service for my
country, I said to them, "All right, I'll go."

I knew nothing whatever at this time of the demands that were being made
by the rebel authorities upon the Fort to have me surrendered on a civil
process, and on the same general principles that had induced the Fort
officers to return the colored boy, was being brought to bear in my
case. It seems the officers of the Fort got rid of the knotty point by
informing the Rebel flag-of-truce boat that I was out of their control,
and in the hands of the naval authorities.

Application had been made to the flag-ship of the squadron, that being
the proper headquarters, but it seems that in some way Captain Porter's
instructions were direct and more recent than had been received by the
admiral, whose name, if I remember aright, was Adams or Alden; but of
this I am not positive. However, there was some sort of a conflict of
authority between Porter and the Admiral, and not altogether a cordial
feeling between them, as there were no visits or courtesies being
exchanged between them, as was customary in such situations.

I had myself seen from the deck of the Powhattan a little tug-boat
bobbing out to the Admiral's ship, but had no idea, of course, that I
was being the subject of negotiations, which were being carried on by
the opposing forces through their flags-of-truce.

The Admiral, who had desired the ships from Mobile to pass in
unmolested, was quite indifferent to my fate, and did not deign to
communicate with Mr. Porter or myself. No doubt if I had been aboard his
ship instead of Admiral Porter's, the true story of this episode would
never have been written; as I should have been surrendered, as a matter
of _courtesy_ to the Rebels, who would have further extended the
courtesy--at the end of a rope.



It will be seen that the Admiral was willing that I should be
surrendered, and my life hung for several days in a balance, which,
thank God, was held by Captain Porter.

Perry, knowing of these negotiations, was himself convinced that I was a
Rebel Spy, whom they wanted to get back, and had kept a close watch on
my actions; and, I presume, had set half the ship's crew to pick me up
on any little circumstance which would serve to confirm his suspicions
that I was in the service of the rebellion.

One day I was sitting on the "back stairs," or on the platform of the
gangway aft the wheel-house, and, as the vessel had swung round, I
could, from my location, see right over the water to the rebel lines. My
position happened to be somewhat secluded, and I had in my hands a scrap
of an old New York _Ledger_, that one of the tars had loaned me. I saw
that I was being watched by Perry, who was in quiet consultation with
the officer of the deck. A marine with a loaded musket had been ordered
to look sharp that I did not fly over to the Rebs, I suppose.

While in this situation the thought burst upon me that I was a prisoner,
suspected by my own friends of being a spy in their camp.

The interview that I had had in the cabin, with Captain Porter and
Lieutenant Perry, the proposed trip to Mobile, with a dozen other little
incidents, rushed through my brain at once, but I was comforted by the
thought that the War Department would acknowledge my services. After
this feeling had passed away from my mind to some extent, I recalled
with bitterness some of Lieutenant Perry's actions and talks with me.
Carelessly glancing around to see that he was still on deck, I wrote on
the margin of that old paper some words that expressed, in language
more emphatic than politic, the opinion I entertained of a certain
officer, and whose conduct I should take care would be reported to the
ears of the Navy Department. Before I had finished, a hand was laid on
my shoulder; another reached down and snatched the paper from my hand;
the young officer, whom I had seen talking to Perry but a few moments
previously, said:

"Ah, sketching, are you?" as he took the paper and handed it to Mr.
Perry, who was at his back, and he read with a flushed face the ugly
comments on his brutality to a boy prisoner, who had done more for his
country in one night than he would accomplish in his life-time.

[Illustration: "AH! SKETCHING, ARE YOU?"]

For a boy, this was a pretty sharp trick, if it were not very discreet.
Mr. Perry roughly said, as I put my hands in my pockets and looked at
him defiantly:

"Take your hands out of your pockets when you talk to an officer, damn
you!" "Go forward, sir!" "Don't you come aft again!"

Mr. Perry, as the executive officer, had the control and management of
almost every detail aboard ship; and, of course, after his ridiculous
failure to catch me mapping, or sketching, which had become known all
over the ship, he entertained for me more positive and open dislike than
ever, so that I was henceforth, practically, his prisoner. I had enjoyed
full liberty to go about everywhere as I pleased, heretofore, and
lounged or lay about in the warm sun most of the time up by the
wheel-house; but now I understood that, by his arbitrary orders, I was
not to be allowed to go aft; which I interpreted to mean confinement to
the forecastle.

This was not so pleasant for me, as I could have no communication with
the officers, and lost the opportunity of seeing the marine drill, which
was a daily performance, that seemed to relieve the monotony of our
every-day life, which was indeed becoming quite tiresome to me.

However, I consoled myself with the reflection that I should soon be
able to get away to my home in the North. There had been a transport in
the squadron unloading supplies, which I had been given to understand
would take me off on her return to New York. I watched with eager
interest the unloading of this transport, which had to be tediously
and drudgingly performed by the use of lighters and pulleys over the
ship's side;--the rebs objected, you know, to our forces using the
Fort's piers, which was within range of their guns, though it will be
recalled that our Admiral did not prevent their ships going into the
harbor to unload their supplies.

I think it must have been some of Billy Wilson's Zouaves, or their
supplies, that were being unloaded. You will remember that about this
time that regiment of the roughs and toughs of New York City had been
sent down there, where they were permitted to encamp on the Island,
between the fires of the two forces; being natural enemies of both,
communication with them was necessarily limited.

Early one morning, one of the petty officers shook me out of the
hammock, saying:

"Bundle up quickly, to go aboard the transport."

If I didn't get out of the hammock that morning very gracefully, it was
because it was done suddenly. The man who called me stood by, as he
said, to help me get ready, as the ship was to sail at daylight. I had
no bag for my luggage, which consisted only of the gifts of the fine
sailor suit, mentioned heretofore, and what I wore on my person, so we
were not long in getting ready.

Hurrying up on deck, I went to the gangway aft, where the little gig, as
they call the little boat, was bobbing up and down on the swell, as the
waves beat against the ship's side. The sailor standing in the bow,
holding on to the steps, or rope balustrade, helped me to make the
little jump into the boat, which I felt was dancing with delight because
it was to take me off that old ship.

As I passed to the rear seat, each old tar had a kind word of good-by
for me, and I believe that I promised every one of them to go and see
their friends and sweethearts when I should get home. We waited awhile
for an officer who was getting the captain's mail ready. Soon Lieutenant
Queen came down the steps and scrambled to a seat beside me, saying,

"Well, my boy, I wish I were going with you this morning."

He gave the order to let go and soon we were bouncing over the water
toward the transport, which was smoking and hissing away at a great rate
some distance from our ship but nearer the shore. When we pulled
alongside I braced myself for the climb up her side, when Lieutenant
Queen should give the signal. He had gone aboard ahead and delayed
sometime; presently he appeared at the ship's side and began to descend
to our boat again; I thought his manner a little queer, as I watched him
with astonishment; once in the boat, he was about to give the order to
pull off, when the captain of the transport hailed him and said:

"I'm sorry, but don't you forget to tell Porter it's not my fault."

After a little further talk in an undertone, Mr. Queen told the coxswain
to go ahead, and then turning to me said:

"There's some mistake, they say they can't take you, they have no room."

My feelings may be imagined--they can not be described. I was so
disappointed that I was literally struck dumb, and could not speak a
word on our return to the ship, and was led aboard by the good-hearted
old sailors as if I had just been rescued from a watery grave.

Going to our ship's side, I looked over the water in the early grey of
the morning and saw the transport, on which I had built my every hope of
home, slowly but surely steaming away toward home, and I still on the
ship _and a prisoner_. How long I stood there I do not know; probably
until the fast-sailing transport had almost gotten out of my dimmed
sight. I cried, of course I did, like a big baby, and on board a
man-of-war, too; and being too proud to show it, I kept my face
resolutely set toward the receding ship that was going home without me.

I didn't even have such a thing as a handkerchief to dry those tears,
bitter tears, which _would_ run down my cheeks and drop into the sea
below me.

Mr. Queen, who had reported his trip to Captain Porter, hunted me up to
say that "the captain would see that I was taken care of and sent home
all right."

Speaking in his kindly, sympathetic manner, seemed to renew my emotion,
and turning my wet cheeks to him I said, I fear somewhat harshly, "I'll
never again undertake anything that would get me aboard a naval
officer's ship."

He laughed good-naturedly, while he told me of his many disappointments
in not getting home from foreign countries, as he had planned, while in
the naval service. He said also that Captain Porter was mad about it,
because some one seemed determined to interfere with everything or
anything he wanted to accomplish, but he would fix me all right next
time, and, pointing to another transport, he said:

"You will go on that ship in a few days."

Some of the talks and hints which the old sailors had been firing at me
for days about a Rebel Spy, sent aboard to fire their magazine, or to
signal to the Rebels any attempt to run inside, and which I had taken at
the time as sailors' yarns, were now vividly recalled to my mind. These
things, coupled with the recent interview between Porter, Perry and
myself, in which I had been entrapped into an agreement to return
through their lines to spike some guns, all came upon me with a
sickening sensation.

I had been led by the talk of Perry, against my own judgment, and
doubting the feasibility of his plans, to agree that I should put ashore
alone, in a dismal swamp in Florida, ten miles from everything living
but alligators and snakes, in the dark of midnight, to find my way
across to Mobile to spike some guns.

Because I was willing to _do anything_ for the benefit of the Union
cause, not having a single thought of fear or danger to myself, this
disposition had been twisted and tortured by Mr. Perry, a United States
officer, into a virtual acknowledgment on my part that I was a Rebel and
was anxious to return to their camps.

I do not believe that Captain Porter agreed with Perry in this

If the object of these Rebels in their negotiation was to throw
discredit on my reports of their operations and plans--which they knew I
could correctly give--they succeeded only in the sense that I was
personally discredited. The officers at the Fort were grateful and glad
to receive my information. I know they were benefited by and acted upon
it; but the poor spy who enabled them to save their Fort, or at least
prevent disaster, was ignored. The officers, no doubt, took great credit
to themselves in their official reports.

I may be allowed to say right here that the spy's work, though often
most dangerous and important, is always thankless. That was my
experience at the outset of my career, but (unfortunately for me
perhaps) did not deter me from continuing in the same service.

I made up my mind to one thing, however; I stuck to it, and I was never
caught on board a man-of-war again, but confined my operations to solid
ground, where I could have more room and freedom, and be my own
executive officer.

The next day on board the ship was Sunday, and an eventful one to me. As
is customary aboard a man-of-war, it was inspection day. All soldiers
and sailors know what a Sunday inspection is, so I need not describe it.

At a certain hour I was invited aft, with the drove of a crew--to
"Meetin'," as the sailor said. All hands were congregated about the deck
according to a drill, which all understood, at a certain moment the
officer of the deck stepped to the captain's door and, after saluting in
the proper manner, invited the parson to the pulpit.

Captain Porter in full regimentals marched out in grand style, taking up
his position, and gravely opened a book from which he read some prayers
as effectively as a clergyman, after which there were orders read, and a
dismissal for a general holiday--relief from drill and routine work for
the balance of the day.

This was the first time I had been permitted to look at the captain
since my disappointment, and I most eagerly scanned his face for some
indication of his feeling toward me; once or twice I caught his eye, but
I found little comfort there. He was a fierce-looking fellow, and
particularly so when fixed up in his Sunday toggery.

The other ships of the squadron, as well as the fort and the Rebels,
seemed to be putting on their best attire and were feeling comfortable
in their Sunday dress.

Inside the harbor, the Rebels seemed to be enjoying Sunday excursions
with their little boats; the officers on the ships and the fort were
exchanging friendly visits.

I had, as a special Sunday privilege, I suppose, been told to resume the
freedom of the ship as at first, and was lounging in my haunt above,
where I could see all about us.

Along some time in the afternoon I noticed a little steam-tug steam out
past Fort Pickens, puffing and dancing along in the direction of the
admiral's flag-ship. The striking peculiarity about the little boat was,
that at her bow she floated a white flag, not larger than a bathing
towel, while on the rear staff were flaunted the Rebel colors.

My curiosity having been greatly excited by the sailors' talks of
flags-of-truce to the fort, in which I was in some unknown way connected
by them, I watched with intense interest every movement this little
craft made; she came on, dancing along between the shore and the
squadron until the flag-ship was almost abreast of her, then suddenly
turning, the fluttering white flag pointed directly to the admiral's
ship, and was lost to my sight behind her great sides.

Others on board were watching this also, and I could see that the
glances of the men would turn significantly from the little truce boat
to me.

Mr. Queen had gone off visiting, but Mr. Perry was on hand, sullen and

They stopped so long aboard the Admiral's ship that one of the younger
officers ventured to say to me in a side whisper, feeling perhaps that I
needed some comfort: "Oh, they are just over for a Sunday visit to the
Admiral," and then walked briskly away from me as if afraid of being
seen by Perry talking to the Rebel Spy.

He had scarcely turned away from me when, on looking in the direction of
the flag-ship, I saw the white flag come bobbing out from under the
stern of the big ship. Were they going back to their Rebel camps? _No!_
they were bearing straight down on us, while they were waving adieus to
the officers, who were looking over the bulwarks of the ship they had
just quitted.

_Great God!_ my heart sank within me at the thought that they were after
me again, and the old Admiral had sent them to Captain Porter, with
orders to give me up.

I reckon I turned pale. I know that I felt that I would die in the water
beneath me before I would return with them to the Rebel lines. I was a
boy of strong impulse, and, if I must say it myself, I was not afraid of
death; but I determined in the instant I stood there watching that boat
come toward us so saucily that I would die rather than return with them.

The slightest provocation at that time would have made me leap
overboard. Luckily for me, the young officer who had spoken to me but a
few moments previously, ran rapidly up the few steps and called me
quickly to him, saying:

"Captain wants you in his cabin, right away."

I nervously followed him, and as he opened the cabin door I stepped
inside and saw Captain Porter in the act of buckling on his sword belt;
his face was strangely flushed, and, as he adjusted his sword into its
proper position at his side, and buttoned up his coat, turned sharply on
me, saying, as he shook his head significantly:

"Young fellow, that boat is coming after you; do you know that?"

I don't know just what I did reply, I was so stunned for a moment, but
the gallant, glorious old loyal son of the navy put the answer into my

"You claim our protection, don't you."

"Yes, I do. I'll go overboard Captain, but I'll not return to the Rebel

"You don't need to. You have claimed my protection; you are a boy away
from home and among enemies; you are in my charge."

I tried to thank him, but he stopped me abruptly, saying:

"Never mind; you claim our protection, and, by God, you shall have it."

With this he glared out of his little window like a wild beast in a
cage, and I backed out of his presence with a heart overflowing with
thankfulness and gratitude, rejoiced that I had found one officer who
would use his authority to protect American citizens; who sought the
good of the country and the protection of our flag.

I went back to my perch just in time to see the white flag run under our
bow, and, looking down over the ship's side, I could see the tug was
filled with Rebel officers.

The officer of the deck received them courteously, and, after reporting
to Mr. Perry, they were invited aboard. Mr. Perry was most affable and
pleasant with them, as were, in fact, all the officers, and the Rebels
themselves seemed to be as jolly as if they were out for a frolic. There
was nothing in their manner or bearing toward each other that would lead
anyone to infer there was any prospect of a war.

After the preliminary courtesies had been exchanged, a couple of them
went into the captain's Cabin; what occurred there I never learned; the
interview, however, was a mighty short one; the Rebel emissaries came
out and without any further parley got aboard their flag-of-truce boat
and steered for their sand-banks.

I have a recollection of reading in our school histories an account of
one of our naval officers, while in an Austrian port, giving some such
protection to a naturalized citizen of the United States, and great
credit attached to this act; perhaps, I am prejudiced, but I doubt very
much if that officer did as grand and heroic an act as that of Captain
Porter in protecting a boy from the shabby, cowardly attempt of traitors
in arms against his flag, aided by the more contemptible conduct of our
own officers who were his superiors.

It required the nerve which subsequent events showed Captain Porter to
possess, and his name and deeds are everywhere recognized while that of
his superior, the Admiral, has been lost.

During the ten days I was anchored off Fort Pickens on board the
man-of-war Powhattan my enforced sojourn may be likened to that of a
"fish out of water."

In compelling an ignorant slave boatman to row me over the bay in the
cover of the night to Fort Pickens with this valuable information, I
was, according to law, as it was interpreted technically, guilty of a
threat or attempt to kill. This, with the fact that the slave, like the
boat and oar, was "property," added robbery to the indictment prepared
against me.

But as the slave had been so heartlessly and almost cruelly sent back to
his little boat, there was in fact no robbery, and all that could have
been claimed was the intention or intent to kill, etc. I did not
understand then, and have not since been able to learn, sufficient law
to properly satisfy myself on this question, but the facts are as has
been stated here.

On his return to the Rebels, the colored boy, no doubt, gave these
officials an exaggerated story of his experience with the bold
highwayman, or freebooter, in his boat on the bay, thinking in this way
to obtain for himself some immunity from the terrible punishment that
awaited all slaves who were caught out at night, which would be more
especially severe at such a time and under such circumstances as had
just happened to him.

The Rebel officers, of course, when they heard the dreadful story from
the lips of my boatman, at once began looking up the details of the
recent visit of the Texan among them, and readily gathered sufficient
data from my week's companionship and intercourse in their midst to
justify the conviction that I was a dangerous fellow, and had gone over
to the Yankees, knowing their hand and game too well.

It is probable that the object of the flags-of-truce was, primarily, to
create in the minds of our officers an impression that I was unworthy
and undeserving of belief. Before leaving Washington I had, while in
consultation with an official of the War Department, been given to
understand that, as a matter of policy, it would be more to my credit to
obtain information and report directly to the War Department; and I was
cautioned _not to acknowledge to any person_--friend or foe--that I was
on a secret errand. I had not, during my brief stay at the fort,
mentioned to any of the officers the fact that I was visiting in the
service of the War Department, and had only informed Captain Porter of
my hasty interview with the Secretary, admitting to him that the present
service was purely voluntary, but that I expected to be regularly
engaged on my return home. I had no papers of any kind in my possession,
and even if I had brought along with me the Secretary of War's
endorsement on my application, no person would have been able to have
read the Secretary's peculiar chirography.

Some of our officers, in April, 1861, were inclined to accept the
Rebels' interpretation of the laws, and those at Pickens were, I fear,
disposed, as a matter of mere courtesy to surrender on their demand my
person a victim of their unholy vengeance. At that time Ben Butler,
Fremont, or General Banks, had not had the opportunity to lay down the
law of the nation to the Rebels in arms against its authority; but,
luckily for me, I was aboard the ship commanded by Captain D. D. Porter,
and though I had in my uncertainty of mind for several days "been like
Mahomet's coffin, suspended between the earth and sky," I did not at the
time these negotiations were pending know that my life was hanging by so
slender a thread, or, more properly speaking, that I was liable to be
suspended by numerous threads woven together in the more substantial
form of a rope.

Captain Porter's interview, however, satisfied me at the time, but when
I witnessed with what cordiality and heartiness the Rebel officers were
being received aboard our ship, my mind was puzzled, and I recall now a
feeling of uncertainty or misgiving.

In a day or so after Captain Porter's reception and emphatic rejection
of whatever propositions the Rebel officers accompanying the truce boat
had made to him, in regard to giving into their hands for trial the
Yankee Spy, I bid Captain Porter and his ship a hearty and thankful
farewell, and the curtain was rung down on my Pinafore experiences.

The side-wheel transport steamer Philadelphia being ready to return to
the North, a day preceding her sailing I was placed aboard of her as a
dead-head passenger for New York.

There were quite a number of passengers aboard, among them Lieutenant
Slemmer and one other artillery officer, whose name I have forgotten,
who were going home for the benefit of their health; also a number of
mechanics who had been employed about some repairs on the Fort.

As seen from the deck of the transport, as we weighed anchor and pointed
her prow homeward-bound, I thought the sloop-of-war Powhattan, with her
companion ship, the Brooklyn, with their port-holes and big guns and men
aloft, to give us a parting salute, was one of the most beautiful sights
imaginable. How much better pleased I was with the view from this
standpoint than I had been with the sailing and saluting of the
transport which had sailed a few days previous, under just such
circumstances (except that I wasn't aboard of her on my way home).

Our captain had taken aboard some field-pieces of heavy artillery which
had not yet been stowed below. While we were yet in that portion of the
gulf where the water was comparatively so smooth, and the weather so
fine, our civilian captain amused himself by calling on all hands to
assist in mounting one of these guns on its field carriage, in the bow
of his old transport, while he entertained himself and the ship's
company with great stories of the danger from the newly-fledged
privateers that Jeff Davis so promptly issued his letters of reprisal

We steamed along smoothly and slowly enough for a day or two without any
adventure. I have often wondered since what would have been the effect
on the old ship if that captain had taken a crazy notion to have fired
one of those big field-pieces.

When we reached Tortugas, or Fort Jefferson--which I believe is the name
of the immense affair which seems to rise straight out of the
water--there was considerable saluting and signaling with the flags on
the Fort as we approached the anchorage.

We stayed at Tortugas part of two days, storing away the guns, and I do
think they were two of the most intolerably hot days that I have ever
felt. As we lay at anchor, and when the sun was highest, it was
necessary to spread over the ship's deck the large canvas awning, which
the sailors said was to prevent the pitch calking from melting out and
to avoid "warping the ship."

Here I went ashore, if going inside an immense Fort can be called
shore--there certainly was no freedom about it--but it was a great
relief to one's legs to be able to stand and walk about on the ground
once more, even though it was inside of great walls, and the only
persons to be seen were the men of the garrison, their officers and a
few families.

During our voyage--after leaving Key West--our Fort Pickens officers,
Lieutenant Slemmer and his companion, had kept close to their
rooms--probably they were too sick to make an appearance--but when the
ship got into the bay, and as we ran up the river to the anchorage, Mr.
Slemmer's sick companion made his appearance dressed up in full
regimentals. As he sat on top of the pilot-house with our captain, with
his mantle thrown back over his shoulder, and showing the brilliant red
lining of the artillery uniform, he looked to me then as if he were
expecting to be received as a hero.

Lieutenant Slemmer, on the other hand, modest and retiring, did not show
himself at all; and, as soon as he got ashore, he scurried off to
Pennsylvania to meet his wife, who had previously been highly honored
and entertained after her return North through the rebel lines.

Your humble servant was not long in getting on solid ground, and, in
company with a Spanish exile from Cuba, we drove at once to the Astor
House. Here was lying in state, in their heavily draped parlor, the body
of Colonel Ellsworth, the funeral cortege being on the way from
Washington City to the burial place, somewhere east of New York.

It is not for me, in this narrative, to attempt anything like a
description of the exciting times I was permitted to witness in New York
City that Sunday. Those who have followed me in this effort to picture
my solitary and lonely adventures, away off in Florida, when my
attempts, voluntarily, to do something for my country, and for the
people who were then so terribly in earnest at home, will appreciate my
feelings of joy and happiness, over being once more among friends--and
such great, hearty, fighting friends, too, as everybody seemed to be at
that time.

The first thing I did was to go to a telegraph office; and, climbing up
four or five flights of stairs, I found Mr. Porter in charge of the
operating room, as chief operator and manager; and although I had never
met him personally, I was well acquainted by wire, having often worked
with him at the other end of a 300 mile wire.

Introducing myself, and briefly explaining my arrival from Florida, and
a desire to announce myself to friends at the other end of his wire, he
astonished me by at once saying:

"Why, bless me, is this _you_? There's been lots of talking over this
wire about you lately."

Then he related at length all he had seen and heard of my career through
the newspapers during all the time I was a helpless prisoner aboard the

He had, as you may imagine, a great deal of news for me about myself, as
reported by the Southern press and extensively copied in the North.

I was soon put in communication over the wire with a brother operator
near my own home; and, strange as it may appear to those who are not
familiar with the humors of the telegraph, an operator's "touch," even
though a thousand miles distant, like the sound of a familiar voice, is
recognized by some peculiarity that attaches to the operator's style.

My old friend at the other end of the wire, on hearing my "sending" at
the New York end, told me afterward, that on that quiet Sunday morning,
when all alone in his office, he had been reading at that very moment a
newspaper account of my adventures, in which it was made to appear that
our officers had, in reply to the demand of the rebels, informed them,
that they--the Union officers--were going to hang this spy themselves;
and while he was yet thinking that as between the two, there was no hope
of my escape, his attention was called to the signal for his office to
receive a message. Hastily answering to "G. A.," or the telegrapher's go
ahead, he pulled out a pencil to note down the message. The first words
the brass tongue of the instrument sounded to his startled ears were:

"I am O. K."--this was my telegraphic signal--"Who are you?"

He said he knew as quickly as the words "I am," were sounded, that it
was me at the key; but, in his present state of mind, could not resist
the feeling that he was about to communicate with a spirit, or the
ghost of his friend, but, as the sounder became silent, or paused for a
reply, he recovered himself, and answered nervously that he was my old
friend Gilson.

Then we had a long, confidential talk in whispers, as it were, over the
long wire, in which much that I have tried to relate in these pages was
briefly gone over, while I was, in turn, informed of all that had been
done and said during my absence.

Word was sent to my father and to my sweethearts and all my friends. As
I rose to leave the office, and turned to thank my old fraternal
companion for his kindness and courtesy, in giving me this opportunity
to at once converse with my home, he suggested to me that, as I had been
so grossly misrepresented, I ought to see the New York papers and have
my story properly given to the world.

At his request, I agreed to meet him at the office in the evening, when
he would take me to the different offices of newspapers with which he,
as manager of the Associated Press, had friendly relations, and
introduce me to the editors.

Leaving Mr. Porter, I found my way next to Rev. Henry Ward Beecher's
Church, in Brooklyn, as being one of the necessary things to do in New
York on a Sunday morning. Here I got a back seat, in a crowded gallery,
and, as I had not yet gotten over the tumbling and rolling sensations
experienced aboard our old tub of a ship, as I sat there and tried to
ogle the pretty girls in the choir over Mr. Beecher's pulpit, the whole
church persisted in rocking and rolling, precisely as the ship had been
doing for a week.

The rest of the day I put in sending notes and messages to Washington,
and to friends whom I had left at home, but many of whom, I now learned,
were out in the army, at different points.

In the evening, I met my friend according to appointment, and together
we called at the New York _Herald_ office, where I was pleasantly
welcomed as a "fruitful subject," and the shrewd city editor pumped me
thoroughly dry before he let me out of that chair by his desk.

From there we went to the New York _Tribune_, where the same procedure
was gone through but at somewhat greater length. The next morning,
which, if I remember rightly, was May 28th, 1861, these two New York
papers printed with bold head-lines a full account of my recent

The _Tribune_, I think, published one of their war maps, in which was
located the different Rebel batteries, but in such a mixed-up way that I
was unable to understand it myself.

However, it satisfied the people, and for a single day I was a greater
hero in New York than Lieutenant Slemmer.

Luckily for me, perhaps, I was anxious to get back home to see my number
one girl, and got out of the city before I could be wholly spoiled.

When I got over to Philadelphia, where I had some old railroad friends,
upon whom I called for passes home, I was also quite a big fellow among
my former railroad associates, and the passes were furnished without a
question as to my claims or rights. Fortunately, I survived it all.

I reckon I should have first reported to the War Department, at
Washington, but at that particular time I was much more concerned about
what No. 1 would think of it all, than I was for the opinion of the War
Department, so I first reported to her, and the first words I heard

"Why, I thought you were hung!"

What a deadener that was! The word _hung_ fell from her lips into my
heart like the dull, sickening thud of the dropping victim from the
scaffold. But this isn't to be a love story, so I must pass over some of
the most interesting little events in the career I am trying to
describe, although they supply the motive for many of the acts and
incidents which to all my friends seemed queer.



I was having such a pleasant time at my home and among my young friends,
that I took no thought of reporting to the officials of the War
Department, at Washington. One day we were advised by the papers that
Senator Andy Johnson, the famous Unionist of Tennessee, would pass
through our town on his way to the Capital. This was about the time of
the outbreak of the reign of terror in East Tennessee, and the sturdy
Senator, with many others of the same fearless build, had been forced to
flee for his life. But while he was a hunted fugitive when south of the
Ohio River, his progress through the loyal States to Washington was a
right royal one.

As will be recalled, Mr. Johnson had been my first friend in Washington,
and it was through my association with himself and Mr. Covode that I had
entered the service.

When the train rolled up to the station, I was the first to board the
car, and, in my rather boyish way, pushed unceremoniously through the
crowd to where the Senator was holding an impromptu reception. He
greeted me very kindly by a hearty shake, as he bade me sit down by him,
and as soon as he found an opportunity, in his half-laughing, fatherly
way, began to catechize the boy.

As I have previously said, up to the meeting with the Senator, I had
been entirely neglectful of my proper duty of reporting to the War
Department a formal account of my movements since leaving Washington. I
assumed that, in a general way, the newspaper comments, which were quite
flattering in the North, would be sufficient.

This fact, with the frank confession that I really felt myself under
greater obligations to a little girl, and was more willing to do her
bidding than that of the Secretary of War, explains another of my many
mistakes during the war.

When I told Senator Johnson that I had not heard from the War Department
since leaving Washington in March--it was early in June now--he said at

"Why, you had better come right along with me to Washington. You ought
to be there now."

Just then the train began to move off; a friend standing near me who had
heard the Senator's suggestion, emphatically seconded it, by saying:

"Go on; now is your chance; you might be too late if you wait here

I had no opportunity to say good-by to my folks, my friends, or my
sweetheart; but went off as impulsively as before on a scouting campaign
that, in effect, lasted until the close of the war.

During that night's railroad ride over the Alleghany Mountains, as I sat
alongside Mr. Johnson, as we sped along the Juniata, I told him my
story. The Senator was an attentive listener, and, before going to
sleep, directed that I should at once put myself in communication with
the War Department, and refer the secretary to himself and Mr. Covode.

In those days I did not consider a berth in a sleeping-car a necessary
condition for a night's ride, but found an empty seat, curled my five
feet six and-a-half inches of body into three and-a-half feet of space,
and slept the sound sleep of youth, while the train rapidly rolled
through the darkness toward the sunrise and daylight.

On my arrival in Washington, I went directly to the Seventh Avenue
Hotel, located at the northeast corner of Seventh and Pennsylvania
avenues and Market space. This was Mr. Covode's quarters when in the

The clerk directed me to the parlor, where Mr. Covode was at that moment
receiving a delegation.

Recognizing me at once, he collared me as a school-master would a truant
boy whom he had caught unexpectedly. I was pleasantly hauled across the
room and introduced to Mr. John W. Forney, as a "young man from our own
State who had been down amongst the Rebels, and they couldn't catch him;
and if they had, he wouldn't be here now.--Ha! ha!"

I found myself quite well known in Washington wherever introduced by Mr.
Covode and his friends. It will be remembered that Mr. Forney was then
a prominent newspaper man, and no doubt he found in the boy, who had
just returned from a trip through Rebel armies, quite an interesting
news source for his papers.

I had been compelled to go over my story so much that I really became
quite surfeited with the whole business, and was glad enough when
evening came, that I could go off alone and have a nice little time
around the corner at the "Canterberry." Every old soldier who spent a
day or night in Washington will laugh when he reads anything about the
"Canterberry." I confess that for a time I became so greatly interested
in the famous bouffe singer, Julia Mortimer, that I had nearly forgotten
No. 1, and was becoming quite indifferent in regard to my appointment or
business with the War Department.

I found that it was about as difficult as before I left the city for
Montgomery to obtain a private hearing with the Secretary.

Upon the suggestion of these friends, who had interested themselves in
me, I was advised to make my application personally to the Secretary of
War for a commission in the regular army; all agreed that this would be
about the proper thing to do, it being understood that, in case I should
secure this, which would be a permanency, that I could, of course, be
detailed in the customary way, on special staff duty, in the field,
where there would be opportunity for me to make some use of the
information I had obtained of the Southern country and their armies.

With this object in view, I called at the War Department one day in
company with Mr. Covode.

Mr. Cameron was, as usual, very busy. There were a great many persons
waiting their turn for an audience. Mr. Covode was admitted out of the
regular order, because he, being a Congressman, had stated to the
attendants, in his positive way, that his business was most urgent, and
that he _must_ see the Secretary. Mr. Cameron received us at first
rather gruffly, when he learned that the object of this visit was to
secure an office; but, upon being reminded of a former appeal and
promise, and my recent services being brought to his attention in Mr.
Covode's glowing style, the Secretary turned to me laughing, in his
quiet way, and said:

"Well, there's no doubt but that you have the pluck necessary for the

Then turning to Mr. Covode, abruptly interrupting him, as if to ask a

"We would like to find out just now what the Rebel Johnston is doing
down in front of Pennsylvania."

Covode was ready to change the subject, and follow the Secretary's lead,
and at once spoke for me:

"Well, here's the boy to find out all about it."

He didn't seem to think it necessary to consult me about the matter at
all. Mr. Cameron, looking at me quizzically, said:

"I will have you in mind, and get you _something_ as soon as I can find
a suitable place."

Then turning about, as the attendant brought in a message from another
urgent Congressman, he said, in an authoritative manner:

"Covode, you go to Army Headquarters and tell them I sent you there with
this young man. They can use him to advantage, perhaps. I will see you

I wasn't exactly satisfied with this outlook. I had thought that I was
through with the spy business, and had no desire to undertake any more
lonely and isolated trips through the enemy's country.

Since my return I had found that nearly all the young fellows of my
acquaintance were either in the army, or about to enter it, and I had
naturally imbibed the military fever which prevailed at this time. I
reckon every one of us expected, as a matter of course, to become
colonels or generals in short order, for gallant service in front of the
enemy, so it was not at all to my liking that I was being steered in the
direction of the rear of the Rebel lines again.

In my case, it was a doubly-dangerous undertaking, as I had so recently
been well advertised all over the South in their papers, and was, of
course, liable to be recognized and hung as a spy if I should be
captured any place in their lines. As I walked with Mr. Covode from the
old War Department Building I said something to him about my misgivings,
but in his hearty way he assured me by saying: "Oh, this isn't going to
last long." And then in a confidential manner he said: "Old Simon wants
to find out something; you just go ahead and do as he wants you to, and
it will be all right."

When we reached Army Headquarters we encountered a sentry on duty at
the door--a soldier of the regular army, who did not show Mr. Covode any
particular attention, not recognizing a Congressman in his rough
exterior. After some dilly-dallying we were admitted to the presence of
a military-looking fellow whose name I can not recall. Mr. Covode
introduced himself, and presented me as being sent by the Secretary of
War. This announcement at once seemed to put the officer in a better
humor with himself and his callers. Mr. Covode brusquely stated his
business; the officer attentively listened and sharply eyed me while Mr.
Covode went through with his story about my services at Pensacola.

"Does the Secretary want to procure any information as to General
Patterson's movements?"

(It will be remembered that at this time General Patterson was being
urged by the War Department to make a demonstration on Johnston, to
prevent him reinforcing Beauregard at Manassas.)

Mr. Covode answered: "We want all the information we can get from all
quarters, and he can get it too."

The officer said, smilingly: "Oh yes, of course; the young man is in the
secret service of the War Department."

Returning to the Secretary's office for some written authority to
present to General Patterson, we were directed by Mr. Cameron to one of
the clerks, who, after a short private conversation between Mr. Covode
and Mr. Cameron, was authorized to prepare a note of introduction. As he
handed the official envelope to me, he took occasion to observe, in a
very pleasant way:

"I would suggest that this young man should not permit any persons to
become acquainted with his business; the department prefers to hear from
their special agents in confidence, and _not through the newspapers_."
This hint given in this pleasant manner, I did not forget in following
months or years.

To my friend and tutelar saint, Mr. Covode, I again expressed my doubts
about any secret service, after returning from our brief interview with
Mr. Secretary-of-War Cameron and the official at Army Headquarters. Mr.
Covode apparently agreed with my conclusions, saying, as he reached for
the official-looking letter which the War Department clerk had given me,
and that I hesitatingly held in my hand: "Lets see that letter."

Putting on his old-fashioned round-eyed spectacles, he read half aloud,
in his deliberate way, as if studying out some hidden meaning:

     "This will introduce to you Mr. O. K., a young man who has
     gained some personal knowledge of the plans of the Rebels, and
     who, I hope, may be of service to you in the same direction,

    (Signed),      "SIMON CAMERON, _Secretary of War_."

He read it over a second time, and then looking at me, as if he had
suddenly solved a problem said: "Didn't he tell you to report _direct_
to the War Department?"

"Yes," I remembered that I was advised to report to the War Department
first and not to the newspapers.

"Well," says Mr. Covode, "that's all right; you go up there and find
Patterson and present that letter, and he will give you authority to go
wherever you please, and you let us know here what's going on."

When I left the old man, I ventured a word as to my prospects for a
commission in the regular army, to which he gave the usual answer: "Oh,
that's all right," and added--

"Come and see me to-morrow and I'll give you some more letters to some
friends in Patterson's army."

After a restless night, I was early at Mr. Covode's room receiving a
pleasant good-morning. He said in a confidential whisper, but which was
loud enough for any person to have heard had we not been alone in the

"I saw some of those people last night, and it is all right." That
wasn't very great encouragement to be sure, but, he added with a
significant wink, "You go up there at once and find out all you can, and
report _to me_ what's going on, particularly if there are any Rebels
going to attack Patterson's army," and he added, again with emphasis,
"Report to me here, quick as you can."

"Yes, but this letter is to report to General Patterson."

"That's all right; you are to report direct to the War Department, too."

I began to feel considerably mixed up by these contradictory
instructions, but all the satisfaction I could get from Mr. C.
was--"That's all right," to which he added, as I was leaving, "You tell
me all you can find out, and I'll make it all right at the War

As this letter had been prepared and signed by a clerk in the War
Department, the penmanship was, of course, in the regulation
copper-plate style, wholly unlike the former endorsement that I had
received in Mr. Cameron's own handwriting.

Though Patterson's army was in the neighborhood of Harper's Ferry and
Williamsport, Maryland, about fifty miles distant in a direct route from
Washington, I concluded that, with such a recommendation in my
possession, the furthest way round might be the nearest way home; I
would not risk the capture of that note by taking a short cut, so I made
a safe detour, going due north to Baltimore and Harrisburg, Pa., distant
over a hundred miles; thence I came back southwest through the
beautiful Cumberland Valley to Chambersburg and Hagerstown, about
seventy-five or eighty miles more ground.

Here I was almost literally dumped from the car into the midst of
General Patterson's army--a lively host of the gallant and patriotic
boys who had rushed to arms at the first call of President Lincoln for
the three-months men.

There have been books upon books published giving the history of this
campaign, any one of which probably contains a more satisfactory
description of the camp-life of those days than I would be able to give
here. This effort is necessarily a personal, and, to some extent a
private history only, of the campaigns of an individual scout, but I may
be indulged in the hope that some of the old boys, who will take the
trouble to follow me in these wanderings, may have been among those who
were in camp near Hagerstown along in June and July, 1861. With what
tenacity the mind clings to the remembrance of those early days of the
great war.

I recall, as if it were but yesterday, this first hunt through the
different camps for "Headquarters."

Jolly soldiers were to be found everywhere, either walking about the
roads in hilarious squads, or assembled in groups under the shade of
trees by the roadside, or perhaps crowding the porches and occupying all
the chairs in the neighboring houses. In after years, when
provost-marshals and camp-guards were established, the sky-larking was
not so common, and the crowds, then, were usually to be seen only around
some spring or well of water.

I recall now with amusement how ignorant some of the three-month boys of
'61 were about their own army-headquarters. Many to whom I applied for
information about the location of headquarters, referred me severally,
to their own colonels, while one young officer, I remember, pointed to a
mounted officer just riding past as the "General's Assistant."

I tramped through miles of dust that hot afternoon before I could get
onto General Patterson's track, and, when I finally discovered
headquarters, I learned that the General with some of his aides were
attending a dinner-party in the town and could not be seen before the
next day.

I did not deliver my letter of introduction to the officer, who I
thought at the time rather impudently demanded to know my business with
the General, but merely told him that I should call again to see the

Having tried to perform a duty, and attended to business first, I set
about enjoying the holiday which it seemed to me the boys were having
all around. How like a circus it all seemed; some of the scenes then
enacted might be compared to that of a country fair, at which there was
being held, as an additional attraction to the country people, a militia
muster or a prize drill, such as we see now when the State troops
assemble one week in summer for their annual camp and drill. There was
so much free and easy mixture of civilians and ladies with the
soldiers--especially the officers--all were being constantly stirred up
by the bands, that seemed to break forth in melody from every grove.
There was, of course, the dust on the roads; the processions of thirsty
crowds to and from the springs or wells; it all seems now like an
immense picnic. Dear me, what bass drums there were in General
Patterson's army; wasn't there one to each company? The old-fashioned
bass drum, too, as big as a barn door, and noisy in proportion, and to
which was usually assigned the biggest fellow in the company the duty of
beating on both sides.

A Rebel officer once told me that they were able to estimate the
strength of McDowell's army before Manassas by the beating of bass drums
at parades each evening.

Along about sundown the usual preparations were made in all the camps
for the dress parade--the great feature of the day--which was being
witnessed by hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of ladies, old men, and
children, who would drive out from the town and surrounding country for
miles to witness it, to the delight of the soldiers. What a beautiful
sight, in June, 1861, was a full regiment of 1,000 freshly-uniformed,
healthy, fresh men in line on dress parade, with their gayly-attired
officers (staff and line), going through the "retreat" with fine musical
accompaniment. How smart the adjutant was, and what a tremendous fellow
the drum-major! On Sunday evenings, at this parade, the chaplain took a
hand in the drill, making a prayer, while the long line of the full
regiment stood at "parade rest," uncovered, with heads bowed, their
little fatigue caps being placed on the muzzle of the gun; the band
played "Old Hundred," and perhaps a chorus of a thousand male voices
sung the soul-thrilling melody of the grand old tune, which is sung in
Heaven. So it was in front of Hagerstown in June or July, 1861.

It was the fortune of war for me to be with the Army of the Potomac
again before Hagerstown in July, 1863--a week after the battle of
Gettysburg. But--ah, yes--the conditions were sadly changed; scarcely a
brigade of that army could muster then as many men as were in each
regiment in 1861. There were no visitors in camp; not a lady was to be
seen, except, perhaps, the hospital attendants, and the music was
confined to the tiresome routine of the "Reveille," "Tattoo" and "Taps."

My first day in General Patterson's army was so full of new and
soul-stirring sensations, as compared with the same experiences in the
rebel lines, that I was all in a ferment, and forgot about being tired,
hungry and worn out, until the evening parades were all over, and the
soldiers began to prepare their camp suppers.

While trudging wearily back to the town, some miles distant, to find
some supper and a bed, I had the opportunity to reflect seriously in my
own mind over the work that I had undertaken.

I wondered to myself if there were not Rebel spies in our army there. It
occurred to me at once that there were no obstacles for them to
overcome--the entire camp was free; everybody was welcomed
indiscriminately to the camp by the good-hearted soldiers; and officers
were only too eager to talk with every caller about all they knew of the
plans and strength of their own army. This, notwithstanding we were then
encamped in Maryland, among a people who, if not openly hostile to our
cause, were generally in sympathy with the secessionists, whose army was
within fighting distance and communication with their headquarters was
only a question of an hour or so.

Our officers and soldiers had certainly taken Hagerstown, Md., as I
found to my disgust when I reached the hotel after dark, finding every
bed and every corner of the old tavern was literally in possessions of
our forces, though, through the kindly interest of a citizen, I was
luckily provided with half a bed in a private house. Of course I slept
well, except that I was disturbed by a horrid nightmare. I had somehow
been transformed into a big brass drum, which a brawny fellow insisted
upon pounding upon my stomach, which probably hadn't succeeded in
digesting the cold supper.

The first thing next morning was to try and find General Patterson. My
experience of the previous day enabled me to steer in a straight course
this time, so I was not long in getting to headquarters; but seeing
General Patterson was not such an easy matter. His staff officers
volunteered to attend to business for their General, but I wouldn't, of
course, allow _any_ person to learn the character of my business. It was
only after I had written a note, stating that I had a letter from the
Secretary of War which I desired to present personally, that I was
permitted to approach the Commander.

I need not describe the old Philadelphia militia General. He had, as is
well-known, achieved some distinction during the Mexican War, and since
that had enjoyed a life of leisure in his native city, where he had, by
means of his wealth and accomplishments, become connected with the
aristocratic families of the Quaker City. He was, besides, a patron of
the military and the clubs; and being so favorably endorsed by prominent
people of the state, he was selected to command the troops of
Pennsylvania, then operating against General Joe Johnston of the rebel

After some further delay, I was admitted to the presence of the old
general, who, I imagined, was surprised at my youthful appearance and
wondered that I had the temerity to beard such a grim old soldier as
himself in his den.

There were several other officers present, and also two gentlemen in
civilian's dress, one of whom was quite an elderly-looking gentleman
while his companion was a young fellow, whose appearance struck me at
once as being that of a Southerner. While General Patterson read my note
of introduction from the Secretary of War, I embraced the opportunity to
more closely observe the visitors, who were being entertained so
pleasantly by the officers.

I quickly gathered from the conversation that the elderly gentleman was
applying to our officers for some protection from our own soldiers, for
his property. He probably owned some cherry trees in the neighborhood of
the camp, or, perhaps, it may have been that the soldiers insisted on
using some of the water from an overflowing spring somewhere on his
ground. Whatever it was, he was receiving from the staff officers quite
emphatic assurances that he should receive all the protection he wanted,
and, moreover, the men guilty of trespassing on his ground should be
severely punished. The young fellow whom I assumed to be the son had
nothing to say.

After General Patterson had finished reading the note, he turned, and,
after looking me all over, through his glasses, as if I was some kind of
a curiosity who stood meekly and innocently before him, said: "Why, take
a seat." Then, turning to one of his aides, he said something in an
undertone as he handed him the letter. The aide, after reading it
carefully, stepped up to me and pleasantly but coolly invited me
outside, when he said: "The General requests that you will come to his
quarters this evening."

This wasn't exactly satisfactory to me, but I was glad enough to get
from the presence of the General's visitors, because I was apprehensive
that something might be said in their hearing that would identify me as
a scout.

My visit to General Patterson occurred about the time that General Joe
Johnston was manoeuvering in his front, with the object of getting away
from him to reinforce Beauregard at Manassas, in anticipation of the
impending battle there. Our Washington officials were uneasy as to the
outcome of this movement, and had been almost daily urging General
Patterson to make some demonstration in front of Johnston that would
prevent his leaving for Manassas.

Though I did not know it at the time, I have since learned that the War
Department, at Washington, while they would not employ scouts themselves
over the head of the Commander of the department, yet were willing
enough to avail themselves of the information of the scout who could
make his reports in an unofficial manner, through Mr. Covode, without
compromising the courtesy or etiquette of the War Office.

The whole country seemed to be alive with soldiers, all in a jolly good
humor, nicely dressed, well fed. Their camps were models of tent life.

There did not seem to me to be any preparation whatever for marching to
meet the enemy.

There was an immense amount of talk about what they intended to do.
General Patterson's army did move, of course; but--Well, to go on with
my story: I was most anxious to do something great myself, being so
filled with military ardor by the bass drums; perhaps the probability of
the war being closed before I should have the pleasure of participating
in a real fight with guns, was more constantly before my mind than any
other danger.

It seemed a long wait until evening, when I could again see General
Patterson, and unfold to him a plan I had formulated, to go inside the
Rebel lines that very night, and before morning find out, from a visit
to General Johnston's army, what he was likely to do. In my youthful
ardor I hoped I could return to General Patterson before breakfast time,
that he might have the fight that same day before dinner.

These were the wild feelings that were swelling in my breast when I
approached headquarters to meet General Patterson's appointment. I
walked boldly up to a group of officers who were loafing around
headquarters; a sentry challenged me; nothing daunted, I pointed to one
of the group--the same officer who had directed me to call--and asked to
see him.

My running into the sentry had made some little commotion, which served
to call the attention of the officer, who recognized me and ordered the
guard to allow me to pass. Meeting me half way, we walked to one side. I
believe this officer was Fitz-John Porter, who was then
chief-of-staff--I am not positive; anyway, I was courteously received,
and, after being seated, was put through a course of cross-examination
as to my recent experience in the south, pretty much--as I now recall
it--after the manner of a witness in his own defense.

Being satisfied that General Patterson had referred the whole subject to
this officer for his action, I told him briefly and pointedly that I was
willing and ready to undertake the service I proposed, and believed that
it was possible to ascertain the movements, and perhaps the plans of
General Johnston; that I could at least gather from their telegraph
communications to Richmond and Manassas the purport of any instructions
which were, of course, being sent to Johnston in that way over the
wires. I was perfectly willing, for the good of the cause, to undertake
the dangerous service of getting back through the lines with the

Whatever may have been thought of the feasibility or propriety of this
project, Mr. Porter could scarcely have doubted my motive, but he
apparently looked upon me as a youthful enthusiast, or, as we term it
nowadays, a crank. He said:

"The General is not disposed to make much use of the service of scouts;
he thinks it altogether unnecessary in this instance."

If Fitz-John Porter had dashed a bucket of cold water in my face, it
would not at the time have had a more chilling effect than his few hard
words he uttered in this contemptible manner.

My proposition was not visionary, but entirely practical, and I venture
now the opinion that had the service been accepted in the proper spirit
it is possible that the despised spy might have brought to his shiftless
headquarters some reliable information of Johnston's proposed movement
to Manassas, which might have prevented his escape, and thus have turned
the tide of battle at Bull Run, which followed soon after the interview.

It is likely that the headquarters of the army were a little
over-sensitive on account of the well-known or the imagined interference
or meddling of the Washington authorities with their military
prerogatives. It has been fully explained in the "Century" history,
(since this story was first told) that General Scott, through the proper
channels, had been for days urging General Patterson to look carefully
after Johnston, and to prevent at all hazards his junction with

The urgency of the Washington officials, taken in connection with the
letter I brought from the Secretary and Mr. Covode, may perhaps have
caused them to infer that they were considered neglectful and needed
some prompting and investigation; perhaps it may have been thought that
I had been sent out as a spy in their own camps. Any way, I was not a
willing party to any such schemes; my only object and desire was to
accomplish something for the benefit of the cause, and in this I had not
a thought of myself.

Returning sorrowfully and with my heart laden with disappointment to my
bed, I pondered long before sleeping as to my proper course. The longer
I considered all the circumstances connected with my being sent up
there, I realized more clearly the real meaning of Covode's words:

"Old Simon wants to find out something; you go ahead," and the repeated
hints to report "direct," came back to me with a greater significance
than when uttered by Mr. Covode in Washington.

My humiliating reception at headquarters had deeply affected my rather
sensitive feelings on the spy question. I had decided in my own mind to
return to Washington at once; but after reflection, while on my bed,
there was a revulsion of feeling from humiliation to anger; and, after
taking all things into consideration, I decided for myself, without
consulting any one, that I should, on my own responsibility and without
aid from our own officers, pass through our lines, enter the rebel
lines, ascertain their plans, and go direct via Manassas to Washington,
and report _personally_ to the Secretary of War.



In the morning I mailed a hastily-written note to Mr. Covode relating
briefly the result of the interview with General Patterson's principal
aide, and stating further that I would return to Washington via the
Rebel lines at Manassas, and report "direct" on my arrival.

I hunted up in one of the regiments a former acquaintance, who had some
knowledge of my Fort Pickens adventures through the papers. As our talk
naturally turned in this channel, he expressed a lively desire to engage
with me in any further undertakings of this character, and, before we
parted, it was mutually agreed that, if the arrangements could be made,
we should travel together as scouts.

I told my chum of my intention of going to Washington via Winchester and
Manassas, and suggested that he secure permission from his colonel to go
part of the way along; that he might return with any important
information that we should gather, while I should go on through to
Washington. It was agreed that he should be granted a leave of absence
for a certain time, but he was cautioned by all his friends not to
follow my lead, as it would surely result in his getting hanged. The
warnings served only to increase his anxiety to get started on a real

As we could not get authority from our officers to go outside of our
lines, it was necessary that we should run the gauntlet of both the
picket-lines; our own were in sight and could probably be easily
managed, but we did not know anything whatever about the other.


I proposed that we should make the crossing of the river early in the
evening under pretence of bathing, swim to the other side of the river
with our clothes concealed in bushes held above the water. We were to
assume the character of Baltimore refugees desirous of entering the
rebel army. With this plan matured, and all the little minor points
agreed upon between us in case of capture or separation, we were both
eager for the night to come, that we might start upon the journey.

We both studied the Virginia landscape carefully during all of daylight,
and when evening began to draw its shadows around the hills and trees
our hearts beat quicker, in anticipation of the forthcoming adventure.

After sundown we joined a crowd who had permission to bathe. There were,
probably, a dozen or more in the crowd. We quickly undressed; scarcely
speaking a word to each other, we joined in a general way in the sport
and antics that soldiers love so much to indulge in when off duty.

My wardrobe was done up in as small a bundle as was possible, and while
the others were fully immersed in their sport, I slipped both bundles
further down the shore; my friend watching the movement from among the
crowd. At a hint from me he swam down the stream and, quickly picking up
the two bundles in the darkness that had now come upon us, safely towed
them to the other shore, where he waited for me. I joined him as soon as
possible, without being missed; we hastily dressed and ran back from the
bank into the bushes to finish our toilets, and take an observation and
both laughing at our success in escaping from our friends.

We thought it best to avoid the public roads after passing our pickets,
so kept to the fields and woods, we cautiously moving along, stopping
every now and then to listen and peer through the darkness for some
signs of life. We crossed field after field and passed through strips of
woods that seemed to be miles in extent, carefully avoiding all houses
in our path.

The tramp became lonesome and tiresome--our nerves were at the highest
tension, as we expected at every step to meet with something, we didn't
know exactly what. Without a sign of anything alive except the crickets
and frogs, we finally became indifferent and careless, having about
concluded in our own minds that the rebels had left that part of
Virginia. One fact was certainly established early in the scout, there
were no signs of an enemy in General Patterson's immediate front that
night, and probably there had not been any regular force near him for
several days; yet every soldier in our army was positive that the woods
right in front of them where we had been tramping were full of rebels.
General Patterson's official reports will show that he entertained this
erroneous opinion; yet he had no desire to avail himself of the service
of scouts.

Becoming convinced that we should not meet with any opposition, we
became bolder the further we went, and at last took the public road,
trotted along leisurely without much attempt at concealment for some
distance; we had almost became disgusted, not meeting with any fun, when
we stumbled right into a barricade, which had been placed across the
public highway by the rebels. Luckily for the two foolish scouts, the
enemy was not there to secure the game that had blundered into their

It is doubtful if it had ever been occupied at all, being probably
placed in that position as a blind. This blockade, however, would have
answered the purpose of obstructing, for awhile at least, a cavalry
raid, or charge. Most likely it had been placed there to protect a
retreating army.

It did not have the effect of stopping us, however, and we moved on
further south. As we emerged from a deep wood, we were at last rewarded
by seeing a light on the top of the hill beyond, but yet some distance
to the side of the road; we made this out to be a light in the window of
some farmhouse, but my comrade, who was a farmer boy, suggested that it
wasn't the right thing for a farmhouse to be lighted up that way at

Looking at it from our uncertain standpoint, we concluded to approach it
cautiously and see if there were anybody stirring around about the

Climbing over the fence into the field, we approached that light by the
cautious, engineering tactics, using a zigzag stake-and-rider fence for
our sap. For the first time that night we felt for our pistols, which
were the only weapons we had. The oppressive silence was broken by my
farmer comrade's voice startling me by a husky:

"I'll bet we'll find the dogs at home, anyway."

We crawled up that fence in single line, heads and bodies bent,
something after the style of pictures of Indians about to attack a
pioneer's log house. Stealthily we moved along, pausing every moment or
two to listen and look about. We had some dispute as to which of us
should take the advance. I reasoned with my friend that he was the
better countryman, and more familiar with stake-and-rider fences and
dogs than I; that it was his place to go ahead; but he wouldn't have it
that way, insisting that I was the captain and must lead; so I
reluctantly went ahead, insisting that he should follow his leader close
enough to be touched. While talking in hushed voices, I stepped abruptly
right onto something soft and round, which jumped up as suddenly as if I
had loosed a spring, and with an unearthly snort and grunt began to
scamper off. I was so startled, and became so nervous from the
suddenness of the encounter, that I must have jumped around as quickly
as an automaton pulled by a string--my comrade being close to me, as
directed. I had by my quick turn knocked my head square against his with
such force that we were both stunned. It was only an old hog that we had
roused from the innocent sleep of the country, which, at any other time,
would have been awfully funny, but we were both too badly hurt to laugh,
and too much scared to swear out loud.

This one hog started up some others, the whole herd scampering over the
fields snorting, which in turn routed out the dogs from the house, that
came tearing out toward the sounds. Luckily enough, there was a picket
or garden fence between us and the house, which the dogs didn't get
over, and, before they got around it, their attention was drawn away
from our location toward the hogs that were still running away from us.
While my companion and I were comparing notes we were further startled
by hearing a sound of voices, which were apparently coming from the same
direction we had just passed over. Now we were in for it. There were
dogs in front of us, hogs to the side of us, and voices to the rear of

The lights at the house had disappeared suddenly when the dogs began
their uproar--there was nothing to be seen except the outlines of the
grove surrounding the house. While breathlessly considering what would
be the next best move, the sound of voices was again heard, seemingly
closer this time. Straining every faculty, I imagined that I could also
distinguish footsteps; that there were more than one person was evident
from the conversation; but whether they were colored boys, returning
from a night out, or white men and enemies who, like ourselves, were on
a scout, armed and liable to go off at half-cock on the slightest
provocation, was the one thing we would have given anything to have
found out.

We couldn't run, as our retreat was cut off, and, if we moved at all, we
were likely to start up the pack of infernal dogs, so we did the only
thing possible under the circumstances--kept still.

The footsteps came on up the road, the voices getting closer. We made
out that there were three persons, all talking earnestly together. If
they had discovered us we would probably have carried out the Maryland
refugee plan, and have joined them and have escaped detection. _But what
if they should be our own men?_

I imagine that I can hear better with my hat off, so putting my head
close to the ground, and in such a position that I could see over the
lower fence rail, I waited with beating heart the coming footsteps. It
was soon evident that they were talking about the light in the house
that had disappeared, and I soon learned from the voices and the
language used that they were not colored men. As the trio came nearer,
one voice said:

"Well, we'd better wait right here."

"Oh, it's all safe enough; let's go on!"

"But," said the first speaker, "they said not to come to the house at
night, unless there was a candle light in that far-corner window."

The third, who had not yet spoken, was nearest me, and was looking into
the field right over where I lay. I thought that through the darkness,
to which our eyes had become accustomed, that I recognized a face and
form that I had met some place, but was not able to clearly distinguish.

While there had been nothing said to indicate their errand, it became
pretty clear from these words that they were enemies, as there was
apparently an understanding about the light in the window.

Was it possible that there were other men from the house skirmishing
around in the darkness to our rear, and aided with guns and those dogs,
would they run us down?

The third person, stepping a little in advance of the others, said: "Get
back to the fence; there's somebody up on the road."

They scattered, and in a moment more suppressed voices were heard coming
from an opposite direction, or _down_ the road.

We were between two enemies, but, fortunately, for us, on the opposite
side and behind a big fence crouching in some elderberry bushes. My
companion, as still as a log, was probably, like myself, so badly scared
that he couldn't trust his voice to whisper a thought.

Two men--one in his shirt-sleeves, and the other in rebel uniform, which
I so well recognized, as the same old grey I had been familiar with at
Pensacola and Montgomery, came cautiously down the road. As they were
almost directly opposite me, one of the three who had come _up_ the
hill, accosted them familiarly:

"Helloa, Billy; you like to scairt us to death. I thought the Yankees
had put you and your light out sure."

At once there was mutual hand-shaking, laughter and general hilarity,
that served to draw attention away from ourselves and the dogs. The man
in his shirt-sleeves explained that he had kept his light in the window
all right, until a little while previously, when the dogs scared up
something, and he took it down, until he was sure everything was all

So here was a signal station, and a rendezvous. I took courage when the
party began to move off toward the house, and, as they passed my
loophole, _I discovered, to my astonishment, that one of the three who
had come up the road was none other than the young man I had seen in
General Patterson's headquarters_, accompanying the old gentleman, and
both of whom were so cordially entertained by our General's staff. Here
he was, a _direct_ messenger from headquarters of our army, meeting, by
a concerted signal, a Rebel officer in the enemy's country.

That was news, sure enough; and they had hardly gotten out of sight
before I shocked my torpid friend as I, with an emphasis he did not
understand, told him that we must both skin back to our army
headquarters _at once_.

I wouldn't leave him to return alone with such important information,
but together we would go direct to General Patterson's presence, and
tell him that there were no Rebels confronting him; that the enemy had
positive and direct information of his position and probable plans.

    "The best laid plans of mice and men, gang aft agley."

As previously indicated, I had intended to go straight through the rebel
armies to Manassas, and so on to Washington via General McDowell's army
and the Long Bridge. In pursuance of this plan, we had cleverly escaped
from our own pickets during the early hours of the night, successfully
tramped miles into the Rebels' country without meeting a
challenge--eluding any pickets or outlooks the rebels may have had out,
by a careful avoidance of all the roads or other usual routes of travel.
But I had no intention of putting myself any closer to the fellow whom I
had met the day previously at General Patterson's headquarters, and whom
I had just discovered to be a rebel spy, in communication with the man
in the rebel uniform, and the farmer in his shirt-sleeves. Had I tried
the Maryland refugee dodge on this gathering of scouts, who were
familiar with all the border, he would have recalled having seen me at
General Patterson's headquarters, and an explanation would have been

Luckily for the two scouts, who were lying in the bushes within sound of
their voices, there was such an exuberance of good feeling among
themselves over their meeting, after the little scare, that it had the
effect of putting the entire party off their guard for the moment. No
attention was paid to the antics of the dogs, which were whining and
nosing around, uncomfortably close to our hiding-place in the
fence-corner. The farmer, growing impatient at their noises, which
interfered with the conversation, greatly to our relief, drove them back
toward the house.

The only enemy we had expected to find were the rebel soldiers in gray
uniform, with muskets in their hands, standing on guard. We had not
calculated on their,

    "Letting slip the dogs of war,"

or else we might have provided ourselves with a few poisoned dog
buttons; of course, we couldn't use our pistols on the dogs, as that
would jeopardize our lives; the report would arouse the country and
locate us; so, like Lear,

    "Mine enemy's dog,
    Though he had hit me, should have stood that night
    Against my fire."

The five men and the--I don't know how many dogs--had scarcely gotten
out of sight when my comrade and I energetically started on the back
track. I am ready to admit that we ran, that we ran fast, even though we
didn't see where we were going, in the dark; and I confess that I was in
the lead, but my comrade kept up with me pretty well. We ran over the
soft, grassy fields in the direction from whence we had come, for a long
time without either of us speaking a word. When nearly out of breath and
exhausted we let up a little, to get our second wind for the final run,
if any more miserable dogs should get onto our scent.

"Say," gasped my comrade, breathing hard, "I think you cut my head open
when you jumped onto me, when that hog scared you; it's all bloody,
ain't it?"

I didn't stop long enough then to examine his head; I was in too much of
a hurry, and, besides, it was too dark to distinguish blood. I replied
to him rather testily, perhaps, as I didn't quite relish the reminder of
being scared by a sleeping hog.

"I wasn't scared at all--just merely _startled_--and if you hadn't been
holding onto my coat tails so closely, you wouldn't have been hurt."

"Oh, hell! didn't you tell me to keep close to you?" he retorted,
savagely, as he rubbed his head, and looked at the moist hand to see if
he could distinguish the color of blood.

"And you wouldn't go ahead, either, unless I was right on top of you,
and, if I did get behind a little, you stopped for me to catch up."

I forged on ahead sullenly, too mad to continue the conversation
further, except to say, petulantly:

"I believe I am bleeding at the temple myself, from having bumped your
thick head so hard when I turned round to caution you not to tramp on
that hog."

But my companion was in too bad a humor--we both were--to laugh over the
ridiculous mishap, which I am sure was as painful to myself as to him.
We trudged along in the dark in sulky silence for some distance further,
each nursing his sore head in wrath.

I ventured the suggestion, by way of a compromise to my cross companion,
that if he had taken the lead in our approach to the house, as I had
earnestly urged upon him, I might have been in as bad a fix as himself.
To this offer of a compromise he curtly replied:

"No; I wouldn't have tried to jump out of my skin, just because I had
kicked a sleeping sow in a fence-corner." He had scarcely finished
speaking when he stumbled square across the back of an old cow, that was
quietly lying in the grass chewing her cud; but cows, you know, are not
so sudden in their movements as hogs, when they are startled out of
their sleep. This one, anyway, didn't make any unearthly noise or
snorts, nor attempt to jump up and run off, but lay still, quietly
chewing away, apparently perfectly unconcerned.

I believe she would have allowed a whole army to have crawled over her
without disturbing her repose, but the incident served to put us both in
a laughing humor. I concluded, however, that I'd had enough experience
with the hogs and cows of Virginia, while we were trying to navigate the
fields, and I would take to the highway and risk the short cut back.

The night was dark, very dark, having become more so than when we were
on the way out. Clouds had obscured almost every star, and, to make it
still worse, we heard at times distant thunder. "The lowering elements
scowled o'er the already darkened landscape," compelling us to almost
grope our way along the old country road; but, luckily for us, we were
now on the broad, well-traveled country road between two lines of fence,
which served to keep us in the right course, as we cautiously felt our
way with outstretched hands, and eyes peering into the darkness ahead,
fearing every moment to come in contact with _something_ that would give
us another "start."

To the sounds of the thunder, which were not now so remote, were added
occasional flashes of lightning; these, had I been at home in a
comfortable bed, would probably have only produced the agreeable
influence of lulling me into the enjoyment of a more snug sleep, but out
there, on that road that night, the effect was quite different on both
of us.

We were yet a long way from our camp--how far we had no means of
knowing, as our route into Virginia had been somewhat circuitous, on
account of the necessary avoidance of all the roads.

Pretty soon the big drops began to fall over us; the lightning flashes
were more vivid and frequent; the thunder seemed to be all around us;
then it rained in earnest, an old-fashioned, Virginia, summer-night's
rain, wetting the two miserable scouts to the skin in a little while. It
was no use to look for shelter, and we both resolutely made up our minds
to grin and bear it; pulling our hats down and shrugging up our
shoulders, we sullenly tramped along that Virginia highway, two as
forlorn-looking objects as may be imagined.

In this frame of mind we stumbled right into another road obstruction.
We had come upon it in this raging storm from the rear, and found the
place vacant. We captured the fort, which we could see from the now
frequent flashes of lightning was simply a slight mound of earth thrown
across and extending some distance to each side of the road, in the form
of a rifle pit; embrasures were made for cannon, and through one of
these peered a log, or stick of wood, shaped like an iron cannon, the
rear end or breech of which was supported on a saw-horse platform of
crossed sticks. On the crest of their "works" were placed some fence
rails, while in front, and some little distance down, some trees had
been felled over the road, their branches being stripped of the leaves
to answer the purpose of an abatis. In the darkness, we were unable to
discover any signs of the place having ever been occupied by the rebel

My companion recklessly began striking matches, which he had been able
to keep in a dry place on his person, but, luckily for us, perhaps, had
there been any one set to watch the place, and who might be only seeking
a temporary shelter from the storm, his attempts to illuminate were
frustrated by the gusts of wind and rain, which blew the light out as
quickly as it was born.

Tired, wet, hungry and disgusted with ourselves, we sat down there in
the enemy's camp to rest--if sitting on a log in a blinding rain-storm
for an hour may be called resting--but we could do nothing else; the
night was too dreadfully dark, and the wind and rain too blustering to
allow us to safely travel on the winding roads, which lead through long
strips of woods that seemed to paint everything, if possible, with a
deeper gloom; beside this, we had discovered, by the lightning flashes,
that the road in our front was blockaded by fallen trees, and the
thought occurred to us that on this road there might be some Rebel
guards seeking protection from the storm in some sheltered places.

My companion was so utterly discomfited and dejected that he refused
positively to move a step further, saying:

"I'm going to stay right here till somebody comes and takes me away. I
don't care whether it's Rebels or not."

So we held the fort, he finally succeeding in lighting up a little fire
against and under an old log that had covered some little twigs from the

"There's no danger of anybody coming out here to-night to see our fire,
or bother us," said my comrade. "Nobody would be as foolish as we are,
to be caught out to-night."

If we had been surprised in that condition, it's probable enough we
could easily have palmed off the Maryland refugee story, and have
obtained credit for our self-sacrificing devotion, in trying to overcome
such dreary difficulties in getting into the Confederate lines.

I reasoned that this would be all right for him, if I were only sure of
not running across the chap who had seen me at General Patterson's
headquarters while I was presenting a letter from the Secretary of War
proposing the spy service. My companion, who had not so much to risk,
continued growling:

"Why, if we should get to the river, or run across some of our pickets
in this darkness, they'd be sure to go off at half-cock, and shoot us
before we had a chance to say beans."

This was a convincing argument with me. We were still between two fires.
I agreed to wait for more light. I was anxious, however, that our
officers should have the information we had obtained--that General
Joseph E. Johnston's army _was not_ in General Patterson's front, and
the dreadful masked batteries, which were so much feared by our
generals, were merely bush fortresses, thrown across the roads, or laid
out shrewdly to deceive our officers. There were no soldiers and no
cannon near them; and, moreover, the enemy was in communication _direct
with General Patterson's headquarters_, as we could prove, and probably
knew all his plans, while he was wholly ignorant of the probable escape
of Johnston's whole force.

As I sat there, like a disconsolate toad, on that log, in the pelting
rain, I pondered these things in my mind, until I became so nervous that
I could scarcely keep still. Every moment was valuable. I determined to
start again as soon as the rain would let up a little. But the elements
seemed to be against us; it not only rained, but it poured, for the
balance of the night, making the daylight later than usual.

My companion became sleepy and dreadfully stupid, and was apparently
lost to all fear for his own safety. My time was pretty much occupied in
trying to keep our little bit of fire from going out. Before I was fully
aware of it, the grey daylight was mixing with the black, which was
beginning to thin out as the rain slackened off somewhat. I soon began
to distinguish objects in the landscape short distances away. A large
farmhouse situated only a short distance to our rear was revealed, but
being off the road, as is the custom in that country, we had passed it
in our tramp along the road during the night.

If there were any guard at all for that place, they were probably
comfortably housed there while the storm raged without, but they would
probably be aroused bright and early in the morning, to look after their
wooden guns. I kept my eyes strained toward this house for some sign of
life, but not seeing anything, not even smoke from the chimneys, nor a
dog in the yard, I turned wearily for a lookout in the direction of our
own country, to try and discover, if possible, how far we were yet from
our friends.

The rain had now ceased. My comrade, leaning against a log, was sleeping
out loud; he didn't present a particularly attractive appearance,
either; though a handsome young fellow, with black hair and eyes, and a
fine form, he certainly was not a sleeping beauty; but, lying against a
smoky old log, his eyes closed, but a capacious mouth hung wide enough
open to have answered for the mouth of a cannon, the whole side of his
face smeared with blood, that had oozed from the head, after the
concussion over the hog, while the other half of his handsome face,
being next to the smoky fire, over which he had been nodding in his
sleep, was begrimed with the smoke and ashes that had adhered to his wet
skin; the wet, dripping clothes were, of course, clinging to his manly
form in anything but an attractive style. I felt that if I were nearly
as ugly as he, the appearance of two such objects would be sufficient to
frighten off anybody that might approach us, and I took renewed courage
from this fact.

I turned from the contemplation of this ludicrous scene to again take an
observation. In the direction of our lines this time I thought I
discovered something moving along the edge of the wood. I was about to
conclude that I had been mistaken, when I was startled by the appearance
of two men, standing together some distance below, apparently talking
earnestly, as one of them pointed up the road toward our fort.

I was in a condition of mind and body to be chilled by anything at that
time, and imagined that we had been discovered and were being surrounded
to prevent our escape. Running back to my partner, I roughly shook him
up, saying we had to move quickly. The stupid fellow, opening one eye,
refused to stir. Giving him another good shake, I again repeated the
warning. He slowly realized his position, and stared wildly about.

I dragged him over to where he might see the two men who were standing
down the road, and endeavored to point out the danger; apparently not
yet fully awake, he coolly crawled up on the felled tree, which was
lying across the road, as if to get a better look at them, before I
could pull him down. We were in for a run or a fight sure. I suppose my
freely-expressed indignation at his absurd conduct had the effect of
rousing him from his lethargy, as he seemed suddenly to come to his
senses and was now ready to move off quickly enough.

To be caught by the Rebels attempting to go toward our line would put us
in a bad plight. The men whom we had seen had disappeared at this ugly
apparition on the log as suddenly as if the ground had opened and
swallowed them up; whether they would come on up, or go for
reinforcements, we didn't know.

We evacuated that fort, our line of retreat being in a course bearing
toward our own lines, and leading us further from the two men.

We scampered through the wet underbrush and grass of the woods, every
step being a slosh to the shoe-tops, while every bush dashed against our
already well-soaked clothes all the water it had gathered in its leaves
and branches from the rain of the night.

Early morning is the safest time for a scout to do his traveling, and we
went straight along unimpeded, save by the wet undergrowth, and the
disagreeable necessity of clambering over slimy old logs and fences,
reaching the place where our pickets should have been while it was yet
quite early. Here we made a mistake. Instead of attempting to pass back
through our lines, as we had escaped out in the early evening previous,
we thought that, being so tired, and wet, hungry, and so generally
used-up, we might just as well approach boldly and surrender to our own
pickets, knowing that we should be all right when once within our lines
and our story of Johnston's retreat was told.

My companion being a member of a regiment that had performed picket
duty, had some practical experience with the boys, and was, in
consequence, quite uncertain as to the manner in which our flag-of-truce
would be received by the men on guard; he said that, while on that duty
himself, his instructions were to "fire at anything he saw moving, no
matter what it was," and he was apprehensive the members of his own
regiment would immediately bang away at us if we made an appearance out

"But, we will show them a flag-of-truce."

"Oh, that's nothing; there's some fellows in my company crazy to shoot
at something, and they don't know a white from a black flag."

As it was daylight, there was no other way to get in, except by laying
over in the woods till night, and this we couldn't think of doing in our
miserable condition; beside this, we were hungry.

Feeling it to be a duty to risk even a fire from our own green pickets,
to get in quickly with our information for General Patterson, I
concluded to try the flag-of-truce project. Looking carefully about to
see that we were not liable to an attack in the rear while making this
advance, I picked up a stick in the woods, and tied to it, in the form
of a flag, an exceedingly dirty, white handkerchief, and, after all was
ready, with my hat in one hand, the flag well advanced in the other, I
started out to make the communication, my comrade keeping close to me,
there being no danger of tramping on a hog in broad daylight.

We had scarcely gotten out of the woods when I began waving the old
handkerchief so wildly that the stick broke in two, dropping the flag on
the ground. I grabbed up the remnant, nervously, for fear they might
fire, and again waved it as we moved forward. We saw a commotion among
our men--one or two blue coats were running around, as if to report the
phenomenon that appeared before them. Walking ahead more rapidly, as we
gained confidence from their not shooting at us, we were soon within
hailing distance, and walked into their line nervously, and watched a
half-dozen fellows clutching muskets which we knew were loaded, and
might go off. Suddenly we were surrounded by all the guard who were not
on post, who were anxious to see some real live, repentant rebels come
into the Union again. That army had not yet seen a Rebel.

What a sorry looking couple we were to be sure. Dirty faces, and bloody
heads, smoked about the eyes in a manner to make us ludicrous indeed,
our clothes wet, dripping wet; and clinging to our bodies in rags, our
tramp through the bushes having almost torn them off us.

The boys were cooking their early camp breakfast; through their kindness
we each had some coffee and bread. I am a coffee-drinker now, and am,
perhaps, a little cranky on the subject. I buy the best coffee, and have
tried every patent coffee-pot that has ever been brought out, but I have
not yet been able to find as delicious a cup of the beverage as was
given me in a quart tin cup, with brown sugar and no cream, on the banks
of the Potomac, in July, 1861.

While we were enjoying the hospitality of the boys, all of whom were
greatly amused at our absurd appearance, and interested in our night's
adventure, which my companion could not resist the temptation of
exaggerating to his friends, the officer of the guard had reported his
catch to his colonel, who peremptorily ordered us into his presence.
Without allowing us an opportunity to wash or clean up, we were marched,
like two prisoners, between two files of soldiers with fixed bayonets,
through several camps, amid the laughter and jeers of the crowds which
were attracted by the odd show.

Approaching the Pennsylvania-Dutch Colonel's tent, we were ordered, in a
rough, dogmatic way, to make an explanation of our being in the enemy's
lines. I was offended at the rude manner of the officer, and my feelings
had been sorely wounded by being marched in this humiliating way through
his camp; being resentful, I spunkily informed the colonel that I should
not report or explain anything to him; that my report would be to _his
superior only_--General Patterson.

A crowd had gathered about us, whom the arrogant Colonel had proposed to
entertain by an exhibition of his authority and our discomfiture, and my
speech so angered him that he was ready to run me through with his
sword. He swore in Pennsylvania-Dutch, and again demanded my
explanation, which I firmly declined to give.

He was too angry to appeal to my comrade, but, in high military dudgeon,
ordered us both to the guard-house, saying to the officer who had
brought us there:

"Those two men had been on a drunk, and had been fighting each other, as
any fool could see from their black eyes and bloody noses--put them both
in the guard-house;" and he did.

There we remained nearly all that day, denied, by the stupidity and
offended dignity of the colonel, the permission I begged of being
allowed to communicate with General Patterson.

I presume he sincerely believed we had been off on a regular jamboree
_en tare_ during the night, but it was a terribly rough joke on me, and
the second time during the first four months of the war that I had been
held a prisoner by our own officers while engaged in the performance of
an exceedingly dangerous duty for the benefit of the Union cause. I
again resolved, in my own mind, more firmly than before, that I should
never again undertake any secret service.

My interview with General Patterson's Chief-of-staff--Fitz-John
Porter--on presentation of my note of introduction from the Secretary of
War, had been so unsatisfactory, that I naturally felt some misgivings
as to the outcome of a second attempt in the same direction,
particularly as this trip had not been authorized, but was, in fact,
carried out independently and almost in opposition to the expressed
disapproval of headquarters.

I felt, too, that being escorted to the General's presence, between two
soldiers from a guard-house, without the opportunity to repair my dress
and appearance, would not help the doubting and disdainful
Chief-of-staff to a more favorable opinion of myself; and the
recommendation the Dutch Colonel would be sure to send along with me
would not be likely to create in the minds of the General's advisers a
flattering opinion as to the reliability of our story.

I could get no satisfaction from the officers in charge at the
guard-house as to our ultimate disposition. In reply to my appeals to be
permitted to report to headquarters in person, I was directed to state
my case in writing, and it would be forwarded through the regular
channels. I knew very well that this circumlocution meant delay--that in
this case delays would be dangerous, as any papers filed would have to
be inspected by the officer of the guard, the captain, colonel,
brigadier and major general, probably requiring a day at each of these
headquarters before it would reach the Assistant-adjutant-general at

Beside, I had no intention of submitting my special business to an
inspection by every officer in camp before it should reach the proper
authority, and so informed the officer who had been sent by the Colonel
to obtain from me information as to my business with the General.

My comrade had been separated from me early in the day, and sent to his
own company in arrest and disgrace; he had probably told his story to
his own officers, who, knowing something of the young man, believed him,
and in this way my case, which promised to be a lonely imprisonment for
some days, was more speedily brought to the General's notice.

The young officer who had been sent to gather from me the account of our
trip seemed to be favorably impressed by my urgent prayer to be
permitted to report to General Patterson, and kindly offered to do all
he could to gratify my desire. It was a long time, however, before I was
able to hear from anybody outside of the sentry, who stood guard over me
with a loaded musket.

During all those anxiously waiting hours, when I lay in the guard-house,
Rebel General J. E. Johnston was rapidly getting further away, or at
least making himself more secure with fewer troops in his present
position, and I was brutally denied the privilege of informing our
headquarters of the facts we had obtained, after a night of hard work,
danger and misery combined. At last, about 4 P. M., I was notified to
accompany my young officer to headquarters, to report. The young
gentleman courteously granted me the privilege of washing and dressing
myself up in the best way I could--he generously aiding me by the tender
of a collar, brushes, etc. After a long walk, which was quite tiresome
after the exercise of the night previous in the rain, we reached
headquarters, where I was met at once by General Porter, who politely
enough heard my story through, questioning me closely as to several
points in a manner which, I augured, showed some interest in the work we
had undertaken.

With a simple word of thanks he was ready to dismiss me, and the
subject, as a matter of no consequence, when I ventured to ask his
opinion as to the value of our researches.

"Well," he replied, "as I told you previously, the General does not
place any reliance upon information of this character; we have had
conflicting reports, and do not rely upon it."

"But," I said, "it is undoubtedly true that there are no rebels near

"But we have _reliable_ information to the contrary, and more recent
than yours."

This was indeed a stunner. How could it be. I was positive there had
been no enemy near during the night, and mildly suggested that, if there
were any Rebels there, they had come while I was confined in the Dutch
Colonel's guard-house.

Porter merely laughed in a patronizing way, as he dismissed me, saying:

"You can make that report to Washington; it won't do here. We know all
about Johnston."

"Well, one thing is sure, Johnston knows all about you, too."

I left headquarters in a frame of mind closely allied to frenzy. I was
beginning to think that I must be crazy, because the general
headquarter's atmosphere and style seemed to have about it an air of
authority that could not be disputed; and when Porter said he had
information, _reliable and more recent_ than I had tried to give I began
to feel that he _must_ be right, and we all wrong.

Walking off, dejectedly, but again free to go as I pleased, I hunted up
my companion of the night before, to offer any assistance in my power
to secure his release from confinement. I found his company, and had a
general consultation with him, in the presence of some line officers, in
which it was agreed that our report of the situation was generally
believed throughout the army; but, said my comrade:

"There were two other fellows out last night, and they came back right
after we did, and reported that they had found a big Fort on top of a
hill; that there were camp fires blazing all around it, and six men
jumped up on the works and chased them two miles."

It flashed upon me in a moment, and I said, laughingly:

"Why they must be the two fellows we saw while in the Fort, and that you
scared off when you got up on that log."

After a further comparison of notes, it was agreed by all that this was
the more _reliable_ and recent information General Porter had obtained.
Our little smoky fire had been magnified into a hundred rebel camp
fires, and the blunder of my comrade in mounting the parapet had turned
to our benefit, in frightening off two of our own scouts. We were not
aware, however, that we had chased them through the wet woods--it being
our purpose and intent to run away from them; and we believed we were
going in an opposite direction all the time.

I was abundantly satisfied with the night and day's experience; and
leaving my friend to make any further explanations to General Porter, or
headquarters, I availed myself of the opportunity to take an evening
train, which carried me to Chambersburg, where among relatives and
friends I was able to replenish my scanty wardrobe.

The following Sunday, First Bull Run was _fought_ and _lost_.

There have been many reasons given the public, officially and otherwise,
in explanation of this disaster, one of which has not been officially
mentioned, and is in brief--that General Patterson, through his
Chief-of-staff, persistently declined to avail himself of information
concerning Johnston's movements, that had been voluntarily obtained,
after some hardships, by a scout, who had been endorsed to him by the
Secretary of War as being reliable and trustworthy.

I have not seen General Fitz-John Porter since July, 1861, that I know
of. We all know he was a gallant soldier, whom I should honor as a
native of my own state; but, without questioning his loyalty, I venture
the opinion that General Patterson (who was 69 years old at that time)
was by his (Porter's) influence or over-caution prevented from pressing
General Johnston, as he had been ordered; and is, therefore, indirectly,
responsible for Johnston's timely reinforcement of Beauregard, which
made the rebel victory possible.

And I believe the same over-caution or influence was brought to bear on
General McClellan at the critical hour at Antietam, and prevented his
following up the victory at that time.



The Sunday of July, 1861 (21st), on which the first battle of Bull Run
was being fought, found me quietly recruiting from the tiresome
adventure in Virginia in the quiet little hamlet of Pennsylvania, in
which I was born, situated at the foot of the Cove Mountain, almost
within hearing of the cannon.

I had gathered from General Porter's manner as well as from his words,
while talking to me only a day previous, that a battle was not imminent,
and this opinion was seemingly confirmed by my own observations both in
the Rebel country and while coming through General Patterson's army.
There were, to my mind, no signs of a movement among our forces; the two
armies were too far apart to be quarrelsome; our headquarters presented
an appearance of satisfied security.

In our obscure village there were no telegraphs in those days, the mail
facilities being limited to a daily trip of the relic or remnant of the
old Bedford stage-coach, which rambled into town on the Monday evening
following, and brought us the first intelligence of a battle--and a
defeat which was being magnified every mile the old stage traveled into
a terrible disaster.

This startling news spread about the village like wild-fire, reached me
at the tea-table, and, to my untrained, impulsive disposition, had
pretty much such an effect as the lighting the fuse of a sky-rocket. I
went off like a sky-rocket--disappeared in the darkness that night, lost
to the sight of my friends for months. The rocket hovered over the rebel
hosts so long that I was almost forgotten in the excitement of the time.
I came back as suddenly as I had left, like the stick from the rocket
that drops down from above.

It is the purpose to tell in this chapter, for the first time, the
secret story of those months in Rebeldom, which has remained a mystery
even to my family for twenty-five years. I had never intended to print
these experiences, but hoped that I might find time, when I should grow
older, to prepare for my children only, a memorandum of the trip.

An hour after the receipt of the news, I was _en route_ for the nearest
railroad station, at Chambersburg, my first impression being that, as
the rebels were victorious, they would, as a matter of course, move
right on to Washington City and drive the Union officials off.

Entertaining this feeling, my first impulse was to get somewhere in
their rear. I felt in my heart that _something_ must be done to prevent
Beauregard and Jeff Davis from driving us all out of the country, and I
was frenzied enough at that time, by the excitement that was everywhere
prevailing--overcoming the reason and judgment of the most conservative
as well as the mercurial temperament--that, if an opportunity had
presented itself, I might have been foolish enough to have attempted an
assassination of Jeff Davis, sincerely believing, in my youthful
enthusiasm and indiscretion, that such an act would serve to defeat
their plans. That I entertained seriously and determinedly such a
chimerical scheme will probably be surprising to those of my
acquaintances now, but the confession will serve in a manner to explain
some of my movements, which, at the time, puzzled even my best friends,
who generously accounted for my queer actions by the indulgent--if not
complimentary--reflection that I was a "reckless and adventuresome boy."

The same night I reached Chambersburg, and the next morning took the
first train for Hagerstown, Maryland, where I learned there that
Harper's Ferry was headquarters; and, as there were no public
conveyances leading in that direction, in my eagerness to reach there I
decided to walk ahead the same day.

I tramped out through the same neighborhoods in which our camps had been
located only a few days before, finding them nearly all deserted, and in
the evening reached a farmhouse on South Mountain, where, tired and
sleepy after the fatigue and excitement of the day, I begged for shelter
for the night, and was put to sleep in the garret with a son of the
farmer, whom I found was in sympathy with the rebels.

Early the following morning I was again on foot, climbing the dusty
mountain road. It was a long, tiresome walk, and, as I met with no signs
of troops, I began to fear that I had gotten off the right road; toward
evening my path led me through a valley or ravine, emerging from which I
was suddenly brought into view of the river and hills about Point of
Rocks, or perhaps it may have been near Sandy Hook. Here I found plenty
of soldiers, who were dotted around the hills so thickly.

I had expected to report in person to General Fitz-John Porter, to
gather further from him some advice as to the _reliability_ of his more
_recent_ information about Johnston's escape. I learned that General
Patterson had been relieved. General N. P. Banks was in command, and had
his headquarters in a tent on a little plateau above, but convenient to
the railroad track and the river, from which he could look into the
Virginia hills, which were within rifle-shot of his tent.

I had no letter of introduction to General Banks, but, presuming upon my
previous services, boldly ventured into his presence unannounced, except
by the unarmed soldier who stood as an orderly outside of his tent.

I was invited into the tent, where I found the General had been lounging
or dozing on his camp bed. Rising, as I entered, he apologized for the
unkempt appearance of his quarters, shaking hands cordially as he
invited me to a seat on a camp-stool.

Then sitting in front of me, looking straight into my eyes, I told him
briefly my past experience with Patterson and Porter. He listened
attentively and commented, in his affable way, on the disaster, and
expressed, in a way that was most comforting to me, his belief that it
would all end right anyway.

I explained to General Banks my supposed qualifications as a scout,
being able to read the enemy's telegraphs, which immediately impressed
him as quite an important feature, as it would enable me to procure
reliable news from the highest sources of all information.

I again volunteered to enter the enemy's lines in the guise of a
Maryland refugee and, if possible, attach myself to headquarters of
Rebels at Manassas, or where there were telegraph instruments, without,
of course, disclosing my knowledge of the mysterious art.

The General thankfully accepted my proposal, and seemed eager that the
service should be undertaken at once. His words to me, uttered in that
deep but pleasant voice so familiar to American people: "Well, now, I am
right glad you have come to see me, sir."

After a moment's reflection, he continued: "I have no definite
instructions now. I beg that you will be kind enough to come and see me
in the morning again; in the meantime I will try and arrange a plan."

I presume the General desired--very properly--to make some inquiries as
to my loyalty and past service. As I prepared to leave, he again took my
hand, and in a kindly manner, which impressed me so pleasantly that I
shall never forget it, as he bowed me out of his tent. "I am very glad
too have met you, sir."

How different from the reception I received from General Patterson and
his Chief-of-Staff. The balance of the evening I put in pleasantly
enough after this agreeable reception in visiting the different camps in
the neighborhood and in peering through the twilight over the Potomac
toward the Virginia side, endeavoring to find a hole somewhere in the
hills that I might get through safely.

After the tiresome tramp on the dusty Maryland Pike, on that terrible
hot July day, I was glad enough when night came to accept the supper and
lodging that were offered--for a consideration--in an old half-stone and
half-frame house, situated close by the river bank.

The crowd of men who were gathered about the old house were dressing for
dinner, or supper, out in the yard; using an old stump for a toilet
stand and the lye soap (which had been manufactured by some sort of
process through the barrel of ashes that stood on a sloping bench close
by), and, throwing my hat and coat on the limb of a gooseberry bush, I
plunged into the water, like the rest; but I reckon they all thought I
was putting on airs when I declined to use the one towel that had served
for all, using instead a dirty pocket handkerchief on my face.

The next morning I was out bright and early. Unfortunately for me, but
perhaps better for the story, I was just too late to see the General,
who had ridden off but a few minutes before I reached his headquarters
on a general tour of inspection through the army. The orderly did not
know when he would return, or, if he did, was not disposed to tell a
stranger of his intentions; but, it was intimated that I should hardly
be able to see him at headquarters again during the day.

As I turned to walk away, undecided as to the next step I should have to
take, an officer observed in a jocular way: "You might see the General
up there," as he pointed to the highest peak of the hill. He imagined
that the unforbidding appearance of this height would deter me from an
attempt at climbing it, but the hint was sufficient. I at once made up
my mind, excelsior like, to crawl over the rocks and blackberry bushes
to the very top of the mountain to find the General, and, if he were not
there, I should at least have the satisfaction of being able to see all
over the country without walking any further.

From the top of Maryland heights, while sitting alone a short distance
in the rear of one of our masked batteries, the guns of which were
pointed over the river so as to cover the broad plateau above the old
town, I looked in vain for some appearance of rebels on the other side
of the river. There was not to my eye, which I flattered myself was
pretty good and educated to the sight of rebels, any appearance of life,
either on the valley side or on the opposite mountain, which were quite
heavily wooded.

I formed from that point of observation a plan to cross the river and
climb up on the other hill or mountain, thinking, perhaps, I might have
a more satisfactory outlook from that point.

Not finding the General, I retraced my steps down the mountain in the
direction of the town of Harper's Ferry.

There was at that time a temporary railroad bridge over the Potomac,
over which I was able to pass the guard on pretence of being a
railroader. Once in the village, I looked about for an opportunity to
get over the Shenandoah river, which was yet between me and the big hill
I desired to climb.

I had fully determined in my own mind, after the experience with the
running mate or companion of the former adventure, that I should not
attach myself to anyone or permit any association in future movements,
but the pleasure of meeting with a pleasant friend overcame my
resolution, and about the first thing I did after becoming well
acquainted was to propose that we should together go over the
Shenandoah and climb that big hill, to try if we couldn't "see
something" by daylight. My newly found chum eagerly assented to the
proposal, and, as I have previously said, for me to decide was to act,
in those days.

It was expected that we should be able to return before dark, and I
hoped in an indefinite way that I might be able to bring back to General
Banks, when I should see him in the evening, some information that would
impress him with the idea that I was competent to undertake and to carry
out the plan of going through our own and the enemy's lines to

In my first talk with General Banks, to whom I was an entire stranger,
he had made a remark about a decision to issue no authority to go
outside of his lines, to which I had replied that I did not ask any
passes; that, if he wanted to avail himself of the service, I should be
able to get outside ours and inside the Rebels' lines, and did not want
to carry any paper passes.

My chum and I followed the same tactics in crossing the Shenandoah that
we had practiced in crossing the Potomac on the former occasion. With an
apparent intention of bathing we found a good place to "go in," as we
boys used to say about swimming time; undressing in a careless way, we
were soon splashing about in the shallow water in sight of our pickets.
It was a hot, sunny July day, and at our bathing place the sun poured
down upon that portion of our bare skin that was exposed above the water
his fiercest rays. This fact served as a pretext to ask the guard's
permission to cross over to the shade on the other side. The permission
was reluctantly obtained.

Bundling up our clothes we waded over the slippery rocks, in sight of
our picket on the shore. Once well over the river, which is neither deep
nor wide, we puttered about the other shore long enough to allow any one
who had felt disposed to watch our movements to become satisfied that we
were only out for a little fun. During all this time, however, we had
slowly, almost imperceptibly, moved further and further away; and, upon
reaching a portion of the bank almost covered with willows and
undergrowth, we silently stole away from the water, and, like a pair of
guilty boys escaping from an orchard, we ran as fast as possible through
the undergrowth along the side of a road which led up a little stream
that emptied into the river.

We were again in Virginia, but this time in daylight; and, hastily
putting on our clothes, I, for the first time, took note of the
unfortunate circumstance that my comrade's clothes were all of the
regulation blue of the Union army, which would be difficult to reconcile
with our stereotyped story of being Maryland refugees, in case we should
be captured.

We satisfied our fears on this point by the hasty conceit that we were
not going to be caught on this trip, as we only proposed to climb to the
top of the big hill.

Ascending Bolivar or London Heights is like climbing up the others, and
has been well described. When we reached the summit, we found a clearing
of a couple of acres which had the appearance of having been very
recently occupied, and the discovery of the ashes and blackened places
on the rocks where camp-fires had been--we knew not how
recently--burning served to make us the least bit nervous. We were
disappointed in the expected view of the rebel armies, as the heavy
growth of trees in that direction wholly obstructed the view; but we
were rewarded with a most satisfactory observation of our own troops and
camps on the Maryland side of the river.

Satisfied with having scaled the mountain, and a little bit uneasy, we
soon began our descent, taking a different course from that we had
followed in coming up.

When we had about reached the road that leads along the water at the
base of the heights, my chum startled me by grabbing frantically at my
leg as I was about to climb over the fence into the road, shrieking,
like a scared girl: "There's a man." And before I had time to look in
the direction indicated, he continued, excitedly: "Great Scott! there's
a whole lot of them."

He started to run back as fast as his legs would carry him, leaving me
almost pinned to the fence with astonishment.

His movement had the immediate effect of causing a half-dozen armed men
to rush suddenly from their ambush, straight down the road toward us.

My companion, in grabbing me by the leg as a fierce dog would a tramp
getting over the fence, for the moment so startled me that I lost my
head, and, thinking something was coming at us from behind, I jumped
over the fence toward the danger while he ran off on the other side.


On finding myself confronted by three Rebels in uniform, two of whom had
guns, the third, being an officer, gesticulated in a threatening,
inelegant sort of style with the hand in which he carelessly held a
cocked revolver; I at once walked toward them and, with a suddenly
assumed air of relief, said:

"Thank God, I am safe among my friends."

This vehement observation rather nonplussed the officer, who, seeing
that I was unarmed, walked up to me and accepted my outstretched hand in
a dazed sort of way. He hurriedly directed the men to follow my
entreating comrade, saying, as they ran down the road:

"Remember, now, you are not to fire unless you meet a lot."

I was rejoiced to hear this, and at once told the officer that my
comrade, like myself, had intended to come into their army, but he was
scared and ran because he thought they were our own scouts.

"Are you both Yankee soldiers?"

I repulsed the base insinuation with scorn, and told him we were both
dying to join the Rebel Army.

"But that fellow has on the blue uniform."

Sure enough, I had forgotten all about that, but told him that was no
difference--that half the men in Banks' Army were only waiting a
favorable chance to come over and join them. The officer, who was a
conceited fellow, who had been placed in charge of the pickets or
cavalry scouts on this outpost for the day, eagerly swallowed this
stuff. It will be remembered that at this time--only a week after their
victory at Bull Run--the Rebels were prepared to believe almost anything
reported to them from our side and were, of course, somewhat lax in
their scrutiny of refugees, who were actually going over the line daily
to unite their fortunes with those of the South, whom they were sure
after the first battle must be victorious.

We had quite a pleasant talk as we stood together by the roadside
awaiting the result of the chase of my comrade. It was explained by the
officer that their instructions were not to fire except in certain
emergencies; the object of their being there was to quietly observe the
operations of the Yankees from their points of lookout on the heights,
from which a full view of everything transpiring on our side was to be

This was an item of news from the Rebel officer which I should like
General Banks to have been advised of. He further astonished me by

"We have been watching you two fellows all the afternoon; we saw you
cross the river, and when you came up the hill our men up there came in
and reported that you were two scouts, and could be captured, so I was
sent down here to gather you in."

I was able to force what I am afraid was rather a sickly laugh at this
exhibition of our "prowess," and, as a further earnest of our good
intentions, I volunteered to accompany the officer down the road, with a
view of meeting my running comrade and signaling him it would be all
right to come in.

Accepting this service, we walked rapidly together in the direction
taken by the two men with guns, but as all three had stopped to hear my
story, my chum had probably been making good time along _his_ side of
the fence, which, with the undergrowth, had served to keep him out of
sight, and had stretched the distance between him and the Rebels, but,
as the river was still to ford, I feared, for my own safety, that he
might yet be captured.

We had not gone far when we met the two men returning alone. To the
eager questioning of the officer the foremost one replied:

"We been down to the river and he ain't thar." The second Rebel joining
in, said: "That fellow's in the woods, sure--he never went to the

After a little consultation, in which I took part, it was decided to
wait and watch till he should come out of his hole. With a view to
making myself more solid with the officer, I volunteered to assist in
the hunt by proposing to call loudly on my friend to come out of his
hiding place and join us. The proposition was, in a courteous manner,
conditionally accepted, the officer being fearful that any loud calls
might be heard by the Yankee's outposts and endanger their secluded
outlooks, advised that I should be moderate in my outcry. Climbing up on
the fence and putting both hands to my mouth to form the trumpet boys
use when hallooing to their playmates, I sang out as loudly as I could,
"H-e-l-l-o-o-a, B-o-b!"

All eagerly listened for the echo in reply, but I, fearful that he might
answer, continued in the next breath:

"All right," and as I forced a little choking cough, to disguise and
smother the words, like the robber in Fra Diavalo, "Come on!"

All waited quietly for an answer, but only the echo "on" came back. Bob
was too far off to have heard my voice, and I realized I had been left
alone in the hands of the Rebels. I was a prisoner.

There is among some old letters that my sister has religiously
preserved--one from a stranger, signed with Bob's correct name and
address, describing in feeling terms our adventure, and my capture,
bewailing my sad fate, and tendering his heartfelt sympathy, pretty much
in the same form of letters from comrades in the field, which became
frequent in the families of the North and South announcing the death or
capture of sons and brothers, in which it is stated that, as my
companion heard shots after he left me, and he supposed, of course, I
had been killed. I may as well state that this letter was written by Mr.
C. W. Hoffman, who is now a resident of Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Comrade Hoffman served subsequently with distinction as a scout, being
detailed as one of a party to approach Fort Sumter previous to the
attack made there.

A pleasant renewal of the old war acquaintance has recently been brought
about. I give herewith a recent letter from Mr. Hoffman:

                                  LATROBE, PENN., March 29, 1887.

     J. O. KERBEY.

     _Dear Old Friend:_ I often thought of you. I learned your
     present address from your brother at Wilmore. What are you
     doing? Let us hear from you. I am the fellow that run away from
     you on the mountains, in Virginia, in August, 1861. I went on
     quite a distance that day. I slept on that mountain all night.
     The next day I returned to the hotel at Sandy Hook. I had quite
     a time of it: I saw several Rebel cavalrymen, but I always
     made it a point to keep out of their way, as I had the blue
     pants and blouse on. Those fellows made their headquarters next
     to where you made the inquiries at the old woman's log house.
     It was a wonder they did not take me a prisoner, as at times I
     wandered out in the country very barely. Wasn't there a Rebel
     camp near Leesburg, or was that the name of the town near that
     mountain? I suppose it is about eight miles from Harper's
     Ferry. I could hear drums beating plainly--I was not far from
     the town. I had quite a time of it when I returned to Sandy
     Hook--I was arrested as a spy, was thrown into the guard house,
     but finally got out all right. I was a scout and had papers to
     show to that effect, but never did much at it. Hoping to hear
     from you.

                              Yours truly,      C. W. HOFFMAN.

As a further evidence of the correctness of my narrative, and with a
view of adding interest to the story, I publish herewith a private
letter from my brother, Spencer, who was at that time in the Military
Telegraph Service. My aunt Ruth, to whom it was addressed, and who was a
mother to us both, passed many sleepless nights on account of my
wanderings, has recently resurrected some interesting testimonials.

                              CAMP UNION, NEAR BLADENSBURGH, MD.,}
                                   September 9th, 1861.          }

     _Dear Aunt:_ By some unaccountable reason your letter was
     delayed. It was handed me by an "orderly" this evening. I
     presume it's beyond the possibility of a doubt that poor Joe
     was killed at Sandy Hook. My grief can better be imagined than
     described. None but those who have suffered the severing of
     ties of a loving brother's affection can form an idea of my
     heart's affliction. My dear sisters, how deeply and sincerely I
     sympathize with them in the deplorable loss of an ambitious
     brother. That letter must have almost broken Hatty's heart. It
     must have been a violent shock to father, but why should I so
     write and rouse within all of you the bitter renewal of your
     grief? We have for our support, that brother Joe fell nobly in
     the cause of his country, lamented by an affectionate and
     loving family, relatives and friends. It is to be hoped that
     when the keen sensibilities of our passions begin to subside
     that these considerations will give us comfort. I pray that the
     Almighty may give us (particularly father) fortitude to bear
     this severest of strokes, is the earnest wish of a

                              Brother in affliction,  SPENCER.



I didn't report to General Banks _that_ night--circumstances entirely
beyond my control prevented me from doing so. I was, by the "fortunes of
war," or my own carelessness, denied the privilege of proving to the
General that I was "smart" enough to get through his own lines and back
again from the enemy's country without the use of passes from his
headquarters. If this should reach the eye of General Banks, he will,
for the first time, read my official report of the scout, which I had
proposed to him in July, 1861, and will, I am sure, in his courteous
manner, accept, even at this late date, this apology or explanation for
my failure to keep my engagement with him.

Luckily for me, at that particular time I did not have in my possession
any passes from General Banks, or letter of introduction from the
Secretary of War, endorsing me as a competent spy. These I had left with
General Patterson a few days previously.

Leaving the two soldiers to further look after the road, in hope of
enticing my friend in--not that they were so anxious for the person of a
prisoner--but, as they said, it was important no one should escape to
report the fact that a station for observation was being maintained on
the heights.

Alongside of my officer I walked for quite a long distance, talking in a
general way upon the subject which was then uppermost in everybody's
mind--_i. e._, the recent battle of Bull Run. For good reasons, I
heartily agreed with his absurd conclusions. I knew full well the
importance of creating upon his mind the impression that I was a _bona
fide_ refugee, and with the instinctive shrewdness partly born of my
former experience I was successful in fully satisfying the officer that
the Southern army had secured another hearty supporter, or zealous
recruit. It was scarcely possible to undo the thing at that time, as the
whole South were wild in their enthusiasm after Bull Run, and to this
fact I may partially ascribe my escape from detection and execution.

The only fear that I entertained was, that I might meet either with some
Maryland refugees who might cross-question me too closely, or perhaps I
might again encounter the Rebel Spy I had met at General Patterson's
headquarters; or, worst of all, that some of those Pensacola troops, or
Texas acquaintances, might have been transferred to Beauregard's army,
and would recognize me.

A captive is always an object of curiosity. I must expect to be gazed
upon, stared at, and scrutinized wherever I should be taken.

I might explain away any objections that would offer to the refugee
story, as there was no evidence existing that I had recently acted the
part of a scout; but the Fort Pickens episode could not be so explained.
The mere discovery of my identity meant a speedy hanging, without the
form of a court-martial.

I believe I have not yet tried to describe my personal appearance at
that time.

I had, from a mere lad, been wearing my hair long, combed back of my
ears; despite the jeering remarks of my companions, my "back hair"
reached my shoulders, where, truth compels me to admit, it lay in better
curls than Buffalo Bill's, Texas Jack's, or, more recently, that of
"Jack Crawford," the cow-boy scout.

Probably my long hair was in part accepted by the rebels as an evidence
that I naturally belonged to the South, where the style was more common
than in the North. It will be remembered, too, in extenuation of my
fancy, that I had spent the previous winter in Texas, the climate of
which is favorable to the growth of hair on the cow-boys.

My dress, at the time of our surprise, consisted simply and only of a
fine, colored, traveling shirt with open rolling collar, red loose
necktie, dark trousers, and a coat of the same, topped off by a small,
soft, slouch hat; of course, I had shoes which were pretty well worn,
and my feet had become quite sore from so much walking. This was not a
very complete wardrobe out of which to fashion a costume for a disguise.

My face had become very much sun-burned, and, in bathing, while exposed
to the hot sun, my shoulders had become blistered, so that the flannel
or cloth overshirt peeled the skin off in a most uncomfortable way.

Reaching the advance of the Rebel outposts, which were located at an
old house--half farm and half tavern--situated on the bank of the little
stream at the ford or point where the highway or pike crossed which led
to Manassas, we found assembled quite a number of Rebel cavalry
soldiers, who were entertaining in their exuberant, self-satisfied way,
quite a crowd of civilians who had been attracted to the place.

Into this group of eager, inquisitive Rebels I was, to their surprise,
introduced as a "prisoner who wanted to join our army."

It may be surmised that I had, with as great eagerness as themselves,
anxiously glanced among the faces, that were all turned towards us as we
approached, to discover if among them were any whom I had ever seen

Providence, on this occasion at least, was not "on the side of the
heaviest battalion," but with the solitary "refugee," who breathed a
sigh of relief upon failing to discover one familiar face.

Unfortunately for my peace of mind, there were among the civilian
visitors to these soldiers one of those pompous Virginian 'Squires of
middle age who, though attired in a fancy grey uniform coat and
civilian's pants and hat, was not, I was informed, really in their
service. The patronizing manner peculiar to this class of gentlemen was,
by reason of his age, indulged by the young officer in command, who
permitted him to dictate, like a country 'squire, the manner in which
the "culprit" should be disposed of.

It was arranged by my captors, through this meddlesome old 'Squire's
influence, that I should be escorted to General Beauregard as a
prisoner, leaving for him or his officers to decide upon the
advisability of accepting my story and services.

The pompous old Virginia militia Colonel was merely gratifying his own
selfish vanity by securing me as his prey, proposed to take me in his
buggy direct to the General, whom he wished to communicate with

"How is it that your companion in the uniform ran away on the approach
of our troops?" said the old wind-bag, addressing me in a manner so
haughty that I immediately resented it, and replied in a tone that some
of the bystanders rather enjoyed:

"Oh, he was one of the Bull Run fellows; I am not responsible for him."

I did not relish the idea of going into General Beauregard's presence
in this old Colonel's charge, lest he might, in trying to magnify his
own importance, so represent my capture as to create in the minds of the
officers at headquarters a suspicion or doubt as to my motive.

The young officer was convinced that I was O. K., and to him I privately
expressed the wish that he would not report me an unwilling prisoner, or
that I had tried to escape, assuring him that if such had been my
intention I could easily have accomplished it. He agreed with me, and,
at my further request, actually gave me, privately, a little note to
present in my own defense, if I should need it.

So it came about that I shared the hospitality of the Virginia
gentleman's buggy, as we drove along the road that evening _en route_ to
General Beauregard's headquarters with a pleasant note of introduction
from a Rebel officer in my pocket, in which was recited his belief that
I had voluntarily entered the lines as a refugee.

We spent the night in that vicinity, at some neighbor's farmhouse.

When the old gentleman and I were again alone on the road, I began to
work on his patriotism a little, but it was not exactly a success. His
manner was not congenial at all. He had with him a fine English
repeating rifle, which he placed between us, with the butt resting on
the floor of the buggy, and, as we drove along that day, I had it in my
mind for the first time in my life to commit a murder.

As we were slowly ascending one of the mountains, I remarked to the
Colonel that I believed I'd walk up the mountain, stretch my legs, and
relieve the horse for awhile, when he glanced at me and, with a hateful,
overbearing sneer on his face, said:

"You wont get out of this buggy until I put you into General
Beauregard's hands."

I felt a wicked sensation dart through me that I had never before
experienced, and instinctively my own eyes rested on the gun; the
Colonel saw my face, and reached for his gun not a moment too soon; my
self-possession came to me, and I merely said:

"You're not driving a nigger now."

I still had my loaded pistol concealed in a belt under my clothes. I had
acquired while in Texas the Southern accomplishment of learning its
use, and was expert and quick enough to have put its contents in the
blatant old fool's ear, and would probably have done so had I not been
restrained by the fear that the report would bring about us a crowd of

For an hour after this incident we drove along in sullen silence. I felt
in my soul that I was being driven like a condemned criminal to the
gallows, and this old Colonel was merely my hangman, whom I ought to
shoot like a rat.

After cool reflection I concluded that, with the officer's note in my
possession, I would be able to counteract any unfavorable impressions he
might try to make. I had not attempted to commit any act in Virginia
that he could prove which would operate against me. The only matter I
had to fear was the discovery of my identity as the person who had
played the spy in Florida; but as that was many hundred miles away, I
felt that I was comparatively safe.

Beside this, I wanted most earnestly to see General Beauregard myself,
and to visit his army at Manassas, and pretended that I was glad to have
the use of the old man's buggy, instead of having to trudge along on

The approach to the outskirts of the Rebel army was evident from the
frequent appearance of men in gray clothes, who were apparently
straggling along the road bound to their homes. A great many of them
seemed to have formed the conclusion that, having whipped the Yankees at
Bull Run, the war was over, or, if it wasn't, it ought to be, and they
could return to their homes in peace, at least until wanted again.

At certain points along the highway, such as bridges, toll-gates and
cross-roads, we were halted by guards, who, like the stragglers, were
quite communicative to our Colonel, and were of the general opinion that
there was no longer any necessity for any particular stringency in
enforcing orders, as the war would soon be over; we were, in
consequence, permitted to drive ahead without delay.

My old Colonel had taken occasion at several points to call attention to
his "prisoner" in a patronizing way. I was pleased and encouraged to
note that the air of importance with which the old man attempted to
surround himself did not evoke the laudation that he expected.

As we drove up to a house by the roadside to water the horse, I mildly
suggested that I should like an opportunity to wash some of the dust and
perspiration from my face and brush up a little before being presented
to the General. My guardian angel, probably thinking it would serve his
purpose better to show me up in as unfavorable an appearance as
possible, bluntly refused to accord me this privilege, saying, as he
drove off:

"I'm in a hurry to get there, as I don't want to have you on my hands
all night."

We were now close to the railroad tracks, along side of which were
numerous camps, or those that had been abandoned for more comfortable
location out toward the front. I need not tell old soldiers how
uncomfortable and desolate the rear or outskirts of an army are,
especially in the miserable country about Manassas.

The roads were crowded with all sorts of vehicles, from artillery and
ammunition wagons, driven by colored boys and guarded by frisky
black-horse cavalrymen, to the two-wheeled carts run by decrepit old
colored people who were peddling "truck" for the benefit of their
Virginia-Yankee owners, whom, by the way, the real Southern people from
the South said at that time were worse than any other sort of Yankee.

Of course the road was dusty--Virginia roads are either dusty or muddy,
and, being so much crowded, our progress became a little slow. As we
drove along through that Rebel army that evening, I am sure there was
not a face in all the crowd that I did not eagerly scan, in nervous
anticipation of meeting some one who might recognize me. When the old
man was told we were off the road to headquarters, I felt as much
annoyed as himself at the delay in reaching General Beauregard's

I observed particularly an entire absence of anything that looked like
preparations for an advance. Of this I became more satisfied the further
on we got, both from the appearance of men traveling to the rear and
from the careless appearance of the troops toward the front.

Artillery was parked in shady places; the horses were not corralled
close to the guns; in fact, everything was very much in the same
disordered condition that I had observed in our army.

About an hour before sundown we reached Beauregard's headquarters. As we
drove up to the fence the old man hailed a colored boy, and bade him
tie his horse; then, turning to me with a smile of relief, he said:

"Here we are; get out!"

I obeyed with an alacrity that caused him to stare at me in wonder, as
he stretched his sleepy legs and got out after me, walking beside me
with his gun in hand until suddenly halted by a sentry on guard, to whom
my Virginian said:

"I want to see General Beauregard," and proceeded to walk ahead, as if
he was a privileged character, but the sentry called down the old fool's
dignity by peremptorily ordering him to "halt," as he brought his gun to
a carry. There were some sharp words spoken, but the guard understood
his business, and gave the old man his first lesson in military
etiquette, that no doubt lasted for all the war. An officer near by, who
had been attracted by the slight rumpus, approached the sentry, who
properly saluted him, and, in answer to the officer's questions, began
to give an account of the trouble, but had barely begun to speak when
the old farmer, swelling like a turkey-gobbler, ignoring the soldier,
and endeavoring to talk over the head of the officer, in a loud voice
said: "I want to see General Beauregard _at once_, and I'll have this
fellow punished for insulting a gentleman."

The officer, who was a gentleman, mildly suggested that the man had been
only doing his duty and obeying orders, but my friend's choler was up
and, refusing all explanations, demanded an immediate interview with the

The officer now began to get mad and, in a commanding tone, inquired:
"What is your business, sir, with the General?" to which the old
gentleman replied: "I will explain my business when I see the General."

"Well, sir, you will have to give me your name and the nature of your
business, and I will advise you as to the General's pleasure."

"My name, sir, is Colonel ----, of Virginia, by gad; and my business is
to turn over a prisoner whom we caught prowling in our county, sir;
there he stands, right there, sir."

Turning to look at me, the officer said to the Colonel: "Well, you
should escort your prisoner to the provost-marshal. General Beauregard
is not entertaining prisoners."

After a few more passages at arms it was settled that I should be left
in charge of the guard while the _Colonel_ and the _General_ had an

While he was telling _his_ story to General Beauregard, which, I
suspect, referred more to the "insult" to himself than to my dangerous
character, the officer, who had returned to me, politely said something
about "old fools." I agreed with him, and took occasion to add my mite
of experience with the old fool, and saying that I had merely come from
a patriotic impulse from my own home to do something for _the country_,
but had been treated with so much indignity by this old man I was sorry
I had left home.

In his state of mind my interpretation of the story had a most agreeable
effect, which was further strengthened by the note from the officer who
had captured me. As soon as he read this, turning to me, he politely
asked to be excused, as he returned to the General who was being bored
to death by my Colonel.

In a moment more General Beauregard and my Colonel made an appearance,
the latter still talking earnestly. The General was bare-headed, his
coat unbuttoned, and presented to my vision the appearance of a pleasant
Jewish gentleman. He looked at me while the old gas-bag was exhausting
itself, but did not speak a word either to me or the Colonel until my
young officer spoke up and said:

"I think, General, I had better relieve this gentleman of the
responsibility of the care of the young Marylander," at the same time
handing to the General the note I had given him.

General Beauregard again looked at me as he finished reading it, and,
turning to the officer, said:

"Yes, yes, that will do."

And bidding the Colonel a good evening, as he excused himself, walked

It must not be thought that the Virginia Colonel believed, or for an
instant suspected my true character; _his_ only object was to secure
some attention for himself by pressing me upon the General personally;
and his own egotism defeated his purpose, to my very great relief.

The Colonel being thus summarily disposed of, the officer, who
introduced himself to me as an aide to General Beauregard, began to
apologize for my ungracious reception in the Southern Army.

I told him my desire was to connect myself with some of the Baltimore
refugees, and I was informed that I should have the opportunity soon;
but at that time I think there were no distinct Maryland organizations in
their Army. When I suggested that, as I was without money, I must work
to earn a living, I meekly observed that being a railroader at home I
should like an opportunity to be employed somewhere in that capacity, as
I should be able to do justice to myself and my employers better there
than elsewhere until I could be able to unite with the army.

"Just the thing; we need experienced men on the roads here now as much
as we require soldiers," and, turning to an orderly, he directed him to
accompany me to a certain official who had charge of the railroad
transportation with the _request from General Beauregard that his
services be availed_ of, as he is an experienced railroad man.

It was after dark when I became finally located, and, singular as it may
seem, I was that night an occupant of a couch in the railroad depot,
_within sound of the telegraph instruments operating between Manassas
and Richmond_, and this by _express_ authority of _General Beauregard_,
instead of being a prisoner in a guard-house waiting for execution.

I have been careful to give all the details of this day at perhaps
tedious length, not that it was interesting, but because of the bearing
on the subsequent events, which I believe are as remarkable as anything
yet recorded in the secret service of the war.



I was always particularly careful to conceal from every one with whom I
was in contact when scouting that I was an expert telegrapher. As such I
was able, without any apparent effort at listening on my part, or in any
way indicating by my manner that I was paying any attention to the
monotonous clicking of the instruments, to interpret every word or
signal that they gave out.

I had studied this part carefully, realizing fully that upon my
successful concealment of this accomplishment everything depended.

I now found myself--through a train of events that seemed almost
providential--in exactly the position inside the Rebel armies from which
I could best accomplish the objects that I had set out to undertake when
I first presented the Secretary's letter to General Patterson and
General Porter.

I might have been there before the battle, if Fitz-John Porter had not
delayed me. A few days after, I was at the old shanty of a railroad
depot from which the trains and telegraph communication were had with
Richmond, Gordonsville, and the Valley; the armies of Generals
Beauregard and Johnston were encamped some distance in advance of this
point, but my situation was exactly suited to my purpose, which was to
intercept communication over the wire to and from Richmond between the
Rebel Government and their Generals in the field. I might learn more by
sitting still or loafing around listlessly in one day at that point than
could be accomplished by a week's tramp through every camp of the Rebel

When I reached the railway station, in charge of one of General
Beauregard's orderlies, it was quite dark. The gentlemanly Rebel
soldier, at the direction of the staff officer, escorted me thither from
headquarters, politely presented me to the agent or officer in charge,
as a "Maryland refugee, whom General Beauregard had sent to him to make
use of until such time as he could join with some other Marylanders, who
were to come in soon." I was also further recommended as having been
connected with railroads in the North, and, continuing, he said:

"Mr. Wilmore" (I had assumed my mother's maiden name) "is willing to
undertake any work you may have for him."

"Yes," I spoke up; "I shall be obliged for any employment that will
enable me to even earn my rations until I can meet with some friends,
whom I expect."

I was cordially received and hospitably entertained as one of the exiled
refugees from "Maryland, my Maryland;" in fact, I became somewhat
embarrassed by the generous attentions that the attachés about the place
were disposed to give me, on account of my being a youthful exile from

The station-house was an old frame structure, such as one sees on
second-class railways in a new country. One portion was assigned to the
offices, in which were crowded together the ticket-sellers, the agent,
clerks, and the three telegraph operators. There had not, of course,
entered into the plans of the builder of the road and station-houses any
calculations for the increased facilities demanded by the presence of a
large army at that point, and, necessarily, everything was exceedingly
cramped and crowded, which uncomfortable fact served all the better for
my purposes.

There was a squad of Rebel soldiers detailed at the depot for the
protection of property and to guard the employés. The measly old shanty
was more correctly termed a "depot" than are some of those elegant
railroad structures which have recently been erected over the country,
which, properly speaking, are "stations," even if located at a city
terminus--a depot being correctly defined as a storehouse, or base of
supplies for an army.

This depot, like all the country stations, had a broad platform around
two sides of it. At the rear of the office portion was a window looking
out on this platform. Inside of the office, against the wall,
immediately under this window, was an old deal table or shelf, on which
was placed two complete sets of Morse instruments, while scattered about
over this desk in a telegraphic style was a lot of paper neatly done up
in clips, an old inkstand, half a dozen pens, short pieces of lead
pencils, while behind the instruments a meerschaum pipe nestled in a
cigar box half filled with tobacco. There were a couple of glass
insulators for paper weights, and an immense six-inch glass jar, or
battery cup, which the operators used for a drinking cup.

The fact that this cup had recently composed part of his battery and
contained a strong solution of nitric acid, did not, that I ever
noticed, deter the thirsty telegrapher from taking a long swig out of it
after "Jimmy," the little messenger, should bring it in full of water
fresh from the spring.

The wires, covered with woven thread, were leading down the sides of the
window, under the table, where they were taken up in an inexplicable
net, and drawn through gimlet holes in the desk, and curled into their
proper place in the instruments.

One of these instruments communicated with all the railroad stations on
toward Gordonsville and the valley; the other was the direct line of
communication with Richmond, and as this machine did most of the
business, its voice, or tone, was permitted to sound the loudest, and
partially drowned the other; but if an operator's educated ear detected
the signal for attention from the railroad instrument, he could, by a
mere twitch of the finger, accord it the prominent place, until its
wants were attended to.

All the telegraph operators engaged there were clever gentlemen, who
were, of course, as full of the Southern enthusiasm as were their
soldiers, and to the end gave to their cause that zeal and devotion,
protecting, as far as lay in their power, the important secrets and
confidences which necessarily passed through their hands, without a
single instance of betrayal of the trust.

Like the telegraph corps of the Union army, they served without rank,
and for small pay, and no hope of achieving for themselves any of the
glory of war. To-day the army telegraphers are not even accorded the
privilege granted enlisted men and teamsters. Their names are,
unfortunately, not enrolled among those of the "Grand Army."

Of course, I cultivated the friendship of the boys; I flattered myself
that I knew some of their vulnerable points and was able to approach
them in the proper way.

What operator has not been "made sick" by the stereotyped observation of
visitors, who so often observe, with a superior air, perhaps, while he
is showing his girl the telegraph office for the first time, while
questioning the courteous and long-suffering operator as to the never
ending "curiosities of the telegraph?"

"I once began to learn to telegraph, and knew the alphabet, and could
write ever so many words, but I gave it up."

Too bad they all give it up. I've heard the remark in my time on an
average of about once a week for twenty-five years, from educated men,
too, and have been just that often made sick at the stomach. Any school
boy can learn the alphabet from his book on philosophy; so he can learn
the alphabet of the Greek, but it requires close application for months
to make a mere "operator," and it usually takes years to make a
telegrapher, while those who have studied the art and science of
electricity longest say they know the least of its wonderful

The very first act on my part was to question in this way the operator
who was on duty the next morning. I had proposed to the station-master
to sweep out for him, and endeavored, in a general way, to make myself a
man of all work about the place, so that I might be allowed to remain
there instead of being put on the road as a brakeman.

With a broom in my hand, I observed to the operator, who was at that
moment leaning over and peering under his desk cleaning his local
battery, or rather bossing an old negro who was down on his knees trying
to do this work for him: "I came near being an operator once."

I had not time to say that I had learned the alphabet when the young man
straightened himself up and pleasantly observed: "The _hell_ you did."

I turned my back and began sweeping vigorously, and, if the young man
had seen my face, it would have shown a suppressed laugh instead of

That remark fixed him. I know that he for one would never suspect me of
being an operator. As the old colored uncle was not doing his work
properly at the local, I volunteered to help; and, taking hold of the
wires, I handled them in a clumsy way that was amusing to myself, and,
under his direction, for my willingness to aid, I was told that I should
have the nasty job of cleaning battery every day after that.

The first day passed without anything of especial interest occurring
until about sundown, when a message which I had not heard was received
for "headquarters."

It was the duty of one of the mounted orderlies to deliver all messages,
but at that time there did not happen to be any orderly about, and,
noting their hunt for one, I volunteered to perform the duty and on
foot. My services were accepted without question, and I became the
bearer of a dispatch to the Rebel headquarters.

The operator placed in my hands an enveloped message for an officer
whose name I have forgotten, but it was addressed to the "Headquarters
of the Army," remarking, as he carelessly handed it to me: "It's an
important message from Richmond and must be answered right away, or I
should let it lie over until one of those orderlies got back, because
it's an awful long walk from here."

Anxious to get the important paper in my hands, I did not think or care
for that at all, and told him with an earnestness that I could hardly
suppress that I'd rather walk a little than lay around there idle so
much, especially as I hoped by getting out to be able to meet some of my
Maryland friends in the camps. They all looked upon my proposal as being
prompted by my zeal or my "willingness" to be of any service possible to
the cause generally and the telegraph people personally.

The Rebel armies had been advanced somewhat during the few days. We all
know how difficult it is to find a certain regiment or brigade which we
had left perhaps in a snug camp in a well-known location only the day
previous, rigged up and beautifully laid out and decorated as if they
intended to make it a winter quarters, but had been suddenly ordered
during the night, perhaps, to some distant point on a picket detail or
wagon guard. These sudden changes in the camps and of the headquarters
to a straggling cavalryman or infantryman seem to alter the entire
topography of the country in one day, and is very confusing to anyone.

I concluded, however, to take the general course which had been
indicated, and to depend on further inquiries as I went along.

With this important dispatch in my pocket, my curiosity burning with an
intense desire to learn its contents, I started off briskly, determining
in my usual reckless manner that, if it should turn out to be important,
that I'd deliver it to _our_ headquarters, instead of to the Rebel's,
that night. It did not in those days occur to me very often that there
might be obstacles in my path. I presume that I felt if there were that,
as a matter of course, I should be able to overcome or crush any
attempted interference with my plans.

I had not gone far when I was startled out of my reverie by a "helloa,"
from the rear. Looking around in a frightened way, as if I had been
detected in the very act of opening the envelope, as the subject was in
my mind, I saw trotting up after me a neatly-dressed soldier on
horseback, whom I recognized on a closer approach as one of the
orderlies detailed for duty at the railroad station.

His laughing question assured me that I was not to be arrested, and,
recovering myself, I was able to receive him calmly and pleasantly, as
he said:

"I got back shortly after you had left, and they sent me out to relieve
you. I'll take that dispatch out; why, it's five miles almost; we're much
obliged to you, though."

I rather reluctantly handed over the envelope, which, perhaps luckily
for me, had not been tampered with; the natty orderly slipped it under
his belt and, after a few more pleasant words, rode off.

In a disappointed mood I retraced my steps to the telegraph station,
walking along at a much more leisurely gait than when starting out. I
had the leisure to think over my future operation, and before I had
returned to the office, had about resolved in my own mind that there was
not any use in longer staying about there. But, remembering my
experience at Fort Pickens and in Patterson's army in getting into our
own lines from that of the enemy, my mission in both cases being
misunderstood and my object mistrusted by our own officers, because I
had only my own word to support my reports, I fully determined that,
without regard to the risk of carrying papers, I should not again return
to our lines without taking with me some documentary or other proof to
sustain my observations. I had thought, while in possession of the
official dispatch, what a pleasant gratification it would be to my old
friend Covode to be able to show him an intercepted dispatch from
Richmond to the commander of the Rebel armies in the field; and as the
thought of this performance dwelt in my brain as I walked along, I
formed a hasty plan, which I believed I could mature and carry into
effect--of securing from the files or papers in the telegraph office a
number of copies of the most important dispatches, either in the
handwriting of Generals Joseph E. Johnston or Beauregard, addressed to
Richmond, or at least signed by them officially.

At the particular time during which I was at this point, it seemed to me
that the burden of the wires was the messages of inquiry for the sick
and wounded, mixed up with florid dispatches of congratulation, coupled
almost always with expressions of the great possibilities of the South.

There were but few official messages of any importance that I was able
to hear; those carried to and fro by the orderlies, and to which I gave
my personal attention in a quiet way, would turn out to be generally
some Quartermaster's or Commissaries' orders or requisitions, and I
became nervous and tired over the strain or tension I had been obliged
to maintain in order to overhear the instruments in the midst of the
confusion always existing about the place.

As the telegraph table was jammed up tightly against the board wall of
the house, under the window, it became my favorite place for loafing
when outside of the office. I could sit on the board platform and, with
my back against the boards under the window distinctly hear every word
that went over the wires, the thin partition between my head and the
inside answered as a sounding-board, really helping to convey the
signals by vibration.

If the reader is anxious to try an experiment, let him place an ear
against even a thick wall and allow some person with a penknife handle
to tap or knock ever so softly, but quickly and sharply, in imitation of
a telegraph instrument's click, and you will be astonished at the
distinctness with which the wall will carry the sound like a telegraph

There was always about the place a lot of idle loafers--Rebel soldiers
off duty, who naturally gravitated toward the railroad stations, where
the little stores or sutlers were usually to be found, dealing out
commissary whisky and tobacco.

Every day, and for every train, there would be crowds of sickly-looking
soldiers at the station in care of friends, who were taking them to the
trains for their homes. Dear me! I recall it as if it were but
yesterday, how the hundreds of poor fellows looked as they were helped
aboard the crowded cars by their poor old fathers, or perhaps younger
brothers. I always associate in my mind a sick Rebel, with his big eyes
and sallow face, with a resemblance to a crazy tramp one sees sometimes
nowadays, injured while stealing a ride on a freight train, gazing at
everything in a stupid sort of way, clothed in a pair of butternut pants
and coat, and big gray blanket over his shoulders even in that August
sun. I saw lots of them go away from Manassas that I felt sure would
never return to trouble us. They were not all sick, not by any means;
some of the chaps that gathered about our place were about as lively and
fractious as one meets at an Irish picnic.

One evening while sitting in my favorite place under the window,
apparently dozing, but wide enough wake to take in every sound of the
instrument which I knew emanated from the fingers of the operator at
Richmond, my quick ear caught a message addressed to a prominent
official. As it was being spelled out rapidly, promising something rich
in the way of news development, I was eagerly straining every nerve and
sense to catch every word of it. The instrument had ticked out the name
and address, which had first attracted my attention, and I had read--"We
have information from Washington that Banks--" when some big fellow
among the crowd on the platform, of course not knowing of my intense
earnestness at that moment, began a jig-dance on the board platform; and
as his boots were at least number nine, and he weighed 200 pounds, of
course the vibrations from that source smothered the other sounds. So
intent and eagerly had I fixed myself on catching that message, and was
so absorbed in my purpose, that, when the fellow made his first jump, I
impulsively cried out: "Keep still a minute."

This was a dead "give away," or would have been to any person who had
known anything of the telegraph business and my recent connection with
the place; but, quickly recovering myself, I said, "All right; I thought
the operator was calling me."

He went on with his dancing but I lost the message.

I afterward carelessly walked inside and tried, without exciting any
suspicion, to ascertain what the information about Banks amounted to. I
was not successful at the time, but kept the matter in my mind
constantly during the evening, and the more I thought about it the more
eager I became to know its purport.

I was satisfied fully, from personal observation, that there was no
thought of an advance on Washington. I could see from the number of
leaves of absence, and the great crowds of soldiers leaving by every
train, that no forward movement was then contemplated. Besides this, I
had heard on the wire message after message of an official character
from quartermasters, commissaries and others interested in the movement
of an army, of sufficient character to satisfy me of any projected
advance. I decided to go to Washington and report thus much.

It had been arranged that, as Beauregard (or Johnston) had advanced his
line to near Fairfax Court House, the telegraph office would be moved
the next day, so as to be more convenient.

Late in the night, when the only one on duty in the office was the
operator with a guard or sentry outside, I lay on the floor of the
office affecting sound sleep, but wide-awake. Knowing that it was the
last opportunity to get hold of any papers, I became anxious and almost
desperate. A long message had been sent to "S. Cooper, Adjutant-General,
Richmond," giving a full and detailed account of an epidemic that had
apparently broken out in the army. The dispatch was important I knew,
from the fact of its being addressed to S. Cooper, who I knew was
Adjutant-General for Jeff Davis, and was, I think, signed by Dr.
Cartright. It was quite long; the only part of it which I distinctly
remember was the astonishing statement that twenty-five per cent., or
one-fourth, of the Rebel Army were sick or unable to do any active duty
on account of this epidemic of dysentery or diarrhoea. This was an
important admission in an official form, and I decided that it was the
message in writing that I must carry with me to Washington. I observed
carefully where the operator placed the original copy after it had been

It was his duty to have remained there all night, prepared to receive or
send communications that might chance to come, but we all know how
soundly the night-owls can sleep while on duty, and I knew, or hoped,
that this young fellow would soon take his chance and drop asleep, when
I could abstract that Cooper message from his files.

I did not have to wait for him to sleep; he did better than that for me;
he went out of the office and left me inside alone, and I, moving
vigorously, with one eye watched his every movement; he further favored
me by turning all his lights down before leaving. I inferred that his
purpose (as all was quiet on the wire) was to go to his bunk and take a
regular sleep like a Christian and a white man, and not like a common
soldier. I heard his footsteps on the long platform grow fainter and
further off, and then the sound disappeared as he jumped onto solid
ground. Now was my chance to get that message.

Realizing that it might be my only opportunity, I quickly determined to
take the risk of his returning soon and, perchance, missing the message
from his file--it being conspicuous because of its bulky appearance. I
silently stole up to the desk and slipped the big piece of paper from
his hook and put it--not in my pocket, not by a good deal--but I
carelessly laid it "aside," where I would be able to reach it, and where
the operator could find it if he should return and take a notion to hunt
it up.

Pleased with my success, and emboldened by the continued absence of the
operator, I thought of looking further for a copy of the message about
"Banks" that I had heard come over the wires that afternoon, but
abandoned it, remembering that, as it was a received message from
Richmond, that probably there was no copy of it retained in the office
and the original had been delivered.

Everything seemed to become oppressively as still and quiet as death
outside--the office was dark; the instrument only ticked an occasional
"call" from "Rd;" but as the operator was not there to answer the "call"
the "Rd" operator no doubt thought him asleep, and with that feeling of
fraternity and consideration for which the craft are noted, the man at
"Rd" undoubtedly turned in himself. It's probable the feeble call was
merely a desire to assure himself that the man at the other end was
drowsy and ready to go to sleep. I understood all their little tricks.
I had been there myself often, and, as I lay on that floor, I fully
sympathized with the boys.

Feeling that it was to be almost my last hour in the telegraph service
of the Rebels at Manassas, I became bold and reckless enough at my
success, and the hope of getting away soon, to undertake a very foolish
piece of business.

In the darkness, which comes just before daylight (when I should leave),
I learned the Cooper message. At the same moment, almost involuntarily,
I placed my hand on the "key" of the telegraph instrument and softly
called, "Rd-Rd-Rd," several times; there was no answer to my first
feeble call. The operator was probably asleep. I was turning away,
abandoning the attempt, when I was thrilled through and through by the
click of the instrument answering in a slow, sleepy way, "I-I-I," which
is the affirmative signal in answer to a call for attention to receive a
message. Glaring about wildly in the darkness in search of the voice of
the Rebel spectre I had aroused, and who was speaking to me from
Richmond, I took hold of the key and said, in nervous haste and

"What was that message you sent about Banks?"

There was a moment's silence. "Rd" did not seem to comprehend, and made
the telegraphic signal for interrogation (?) or repeat. I said more

"That message about Banks--is there anything important?"

"Oh, yes; why, you sent the answer to that."

"I forgot it."

"Yes," he answered; that "a Confederate Company could take care of

"O. K., O. K."

I had just laid down when footsteps were heard advancing toward the
office door, and, in another moment, to my great relief, not the
operator, but the colored servant or porter, tumbled in for an hour's
sleep before it was time to sweep and clean up the office preparatory to
the coming day's work. There was no more sleep for me. I was wide-awake
to the importance of getting away from there as soon as possible. With
the intent of throwing everybody off their guard, or to avoid any
suspicion that might possibly attach to my sudden departure, I had made
up, and had been careful to tell all the listeners I could get the day
previous, that I was going out to Fairfax C. H. to find some friends
whom I had understood were in camp there, and I might be away all day
and night. Also, that I was tired of civil life about the railroad and
anxious to enter the army, and would do so if I found my friends.

I knew that the operator who had been on duty, or supposed to have been
on duty that night, would be relieved by the regular day man in the
morning, so, of course, the man coming on duty would not be likely to
know anything about the night messages, or to miss any messages that he
himself had not sent. I therefore took the last opportunity to collect
from the files of the office several interesting "documents," which I
knew would be valuable souvenirs to show my friends when I should get
back to Washington.

Early in the morning I secured a note from the Superintendent requesting
a pass through the army for myself, to enable me to look up a friend.
With a few further words of good-by to one or two companions, with whom
I had been so singularly associated for a few days, I left the place,
with the expectation of being able to reach Washington the same night.

The distance was but twenty miles, I think, to Alexandria. My plan was,
during the daytime to travel openly under protection of my pass, in a
course leading to the front. From the best outlook that I could reach, I
hoped to place myself convenient to some unguarded point, through which
I could escape from the Rebels, and in safety reach our own lines under
cover of the darkness. It was not a particularly dangerous undertaking
at that time, because the Rebels--officers and soldiers--whatever may be
said to the contrary, were demoralized, and had become quite careless
and almost indifferent to their surroundings.

I was now going into the very heart of the Rebel army. I think that I
saw all that was to be seen in a day's scout. They had, what I thought
at the time, an awful lot of cannon; and cavalrymen in bright gray
uniforms were flying about everywhere, mounted on their own fine horses,
and stirring up a dust in such a way as to impress me with the idea that
the woods were full of horsemen. The infantry camps were, for the most
part, pleasantly located; in fact, everything looked brighter from the
midst of the army than it had from its rear; but there was everywhere
present--along the roads, or in the yards of convenient houses--the
same groups of sick-looking soldiers and officers, who were probably
awaiting their turn to get home to die.

There were numerous fortifications, earthworks and masked batteries to
be seen, and when I got on to the battlefield of Bull Run what a
disgusting smell filled the air; the very atmosphere seemed to be thick
and heavy with the odor of half-buried and half-burned horses and mules,
the bones of which were to be seen in many places covered with carrion
crows, which would fly off making their ugly noises as they hovered
about in a way to make the heart sick. You all know how we used to
"bury" the dead artillery and cavalry horses, by simply piling a few
fence-rails over the bodies and then setting fire to the pile, and then
ride off and leave the coals of the fire baking the carcass. Whew! the
smell of those half-burned old horses sticks in my nostrils even after
twenty-five years.

I have not much to say of the many poor fellows whose toes were to be
seen above ground; and now and then a piece of blue cloth showed through
the thin covering of earth, and one hand laid above the grave, from
which the fingers had been actually rotted or eaten off. It's an ugly
subject to write or think about now, and I dismiss it from my mind with
the same feeling of disgust and sickness that I experienced that day I
walked along the fields and fences in August, 1861. Under the pretence
of looking for a sick comrade, whom I pretended might have died at one
of the hospitals or private houses in that direction, I moved about
unmolested. There were plenty of civilian visitors beside myself, who
were readily granted the privilege of going over the battlefield; their
army friends were glad of an opportunity to escort them, so it was not
thought at all out of the way for me to be prowling about there alone in
search of a sick or perhaps a dead friend. In this way I got beyond the
battlefield without any trouble, and along the railroad toward the
station from which a road leads up to Fairfax Court House. Here I began
to encounter some difficulties in the way of guards and sentries which
were placed about the railroad bridges and at the cross-roads. Their
purpose was, as a general thing, I imagined, to prevent their own
soldiers from roaming or straggling about too much.

I knew that the railroad track would lead me in the most direct route to
Alexandria, and soon to our army on that line; but I understood, also,
that it would be more carefully patrolled and guarded than were the
country roads; and for this reason I preferred the woods in which to
make my final dash for liberty, and the Union, and home.

The critical moments in a scout's experience come just at this
point--after successfully passing beyond one line and _before_ reaching
the other; then occurs the time when capture means his sure detection,
either as a deserter or a spy, with its terrible punishment; and it is
extremely difficult to tell from appearances whether those you meet or
see are the friends you hope to find or the enemies you desire to leave

I had traveled openly and boldly all day through the Rebel Army,
carrying inside the lining of my cap the official papers I wished to get
through. I had placed them in my hat because I calculated that, in case
of a pursuit and probable capture, I might be able accidentally to
"lose" the hat in a way that would not attract any particular attention,
and a search of the regulation place for a spy to carry papers--in the
shoes--would reveal nothing to implicate me. Night and darkness was
rapidly coming on, yet I continued boldly to advance right along to the
front, and, in the gloaming, I reached a little house setting back from
the road, where I applied for supper and lodging. There were several
soldiers about the yard, and officers were inside the house, as I judged
from seeing their horses tied in the barnyard. An old bushwhacking
proprietor, to whom I addressed myself, said that he couldn't keep me,
as these officers had engaged the only accommodations he had. Turning to
the officers I explained in a plausible manner that I had been hunting
all day for a sick comrade, who had been left at a private house; that I
was unable to find him--his name and regiment I was then able to
furnish, knowing very well from their distance back, where I had located
them, these men would not detect me--and as I was too tired and sick to
go back that night, I must rest till morning, and so I would take a bed
in the barn. I showed my request for a pass, across the face of which I
had carefully endorsed in bold handwriting, in red ink, before leaving
the office, the official words, "Approved, R. Chisholm, A. D. C."

That was a clear case of forgery, but "All's fair in love or war," and
"desperate cases require desperate remedies."

The officers were of that kind who are easily impressed by an
endorsement, especially if it is written across the face of the papers
in red ink; and without any further question I was invited to sit down
while a warm supper was being prepared for them.

I gathered from their conversation that the Rebel outposts were still
some distance beyond. Though their own regiment was on this picket duty,
their presence in the house was explained by the sickness of the younger
of the two officers, the older having brought him in off the
picket-line. There were also in addition to this line of pickets, a
cavalry detachment that were supposed to be constantly moving up and
down the roads in front of or between the two armies. So I was still a
long way from our lines, and had yet some serious obstacles to overcome.

It wasn't exactly a pleasant evening for me, although I was so near home
again. I lay there in that hay-loft or horse-shed, planning for the last
dash for liberty; I knew that I must not attempt to move out of the barn
until everybody was sound asleep; I had also some fear of a couple of
dogs, that I'd seen running about the house rousing the folks when I
should stir; I realized that I had a serious night's tramp ahead of me;
my path must necessarily lead me over the fields and through the woods
in tiresome detours that would be necessary in avoiding the road. For
this reason I was anxious to make an early start from the barn; and just
as soon as everything became quiet I silently groped my way out of the
loft and slid myself down on the manure pile; crouched a moment to
nervously listen and learn if the way was clear, and not hearing a sound
of life, I started off cautiously on the last quarter-stretch of my
night run for "liberty or death."

Keeping to the fields and woods, but in sight of the fence along the
road as a guide, for some distance without meeting anyone or the hearing
of a sound except the crickets and frogs, I became more emboldened and
climbed over the fence into the road, striking out at a lively gait down
a long hill. At the bottom of this hill, or rather in the valley between
two hills, flowed a little stream which was spanned by one of those
old-fashioned stone bridges. When I came close I discovered that a
sentry was standing on it. I thought it was a picket; I could discern a
moving object that looked to me through the darkness sufficiently like a
soldier and his gun, to cause me to get back over the fence and make
rapid tracks through the field to his flank. Almost exhausted, I found
myself on the bank of the same little stream at a point where there was
neither bridge or pickets.

I had learned enough about the military way of doing things to
understand that, topographically, this little stream of water probably
represented the Rebel picket-line, and I surmised that if I were able
successfully to pass this point, that I should meet with no further
danger from the infantry, and that cavalry could easily be avoided by
keeping away from the roads, as I could travel over the routes where the
horses could not be used.

I waded right in fearlessly; there was but little water running, but, oh
dear! there was lots of mud concealed under the little bit of water, and
when I pulled out, on the other side, I had gained several pounds in
weight which had to be carried along up the next hill by a pair of legs
already nearly exhausted. I got over that hill and passed down into
another valley, and had, as before, become so emboldened by not meeting
with anything in my path to relieve myself of the extra labor of
climbing fences and crawling over logs, as well as scratching through
briar bushes and tramping ploughed fields, I again took to the road.

All that day and most of the night I had now been going steadily in one
direction, as I believed toward our lines, which I had figured could not
be more than twenty miles distant from my starting point in the morning.
Feeling that I could not be far from rest and glorious relief from the
dreadful strain or suspense in which I had placed myself since leaving
the barn, I recklessly pushed along the open road. Up to that point I
could have retreated and saved myself, but now that I had gotten outside
of the lines, no explanation would answer, if I were captured.

I was so fully satisfied that I was outside the Rebel lines and became
so exhilarated with the feeling that came over me upon the thought that
the next soldier I should meet would be our own boys in blue, that I
started up the hill at a brisk dog-trot, feeling almost as fresh as when
starting out in the morning.

This road was through a strip of dense pine woods. You all know how
dismally dark the path seems which leads through a deep and dark, lonely
wood on a cloudy night. I felt, as I forged along, like the ostrich
with her head in the sand, that, as "I could see nobody, nobody could
see me," and was feeling comfortable enough, notwithstanding the dreary
loneliness of the time and place, to have whistled Yankee Doodle, even
although I was not out of the woods.

I wasn't afraid of the Black-Horse Cavalry in that darkness and gloom,
because I knew very well that afoot I could easily hear the approach of
horses along the road in time to get out of the way by running to the
adjacent dark woods. In my mind I planned my forthcoming interview with
the surprised officers of our army, whom I would soon meet face to face.

It's a rule or law that scouts or spies must report direct to the
General commanding, and not talk to anyone else. I was going to do
better than this, and report to the President and Secretary of War, and
show the evidence that I carried--that there were twenty-five per cent.
of the Rebel Army sick with this epidemic, while probably another
twenty-five per cent. were absent on sick leave or straggling, and no
advance was possible, while an attack by Banks on their rear would
demoralize them all badly.


That's the word I heard come from the darkness and interrupted my plans,
which shot through me as if it were uttered by a ghost or spirit from
another world, and put me in a tremor of dismay. The voice came from the
side of the road, and _from behind_. I was so taken by surprise that I
could not at the instant see the object that spoke like a deathknell
this dreadful word.

In another instant a _soldier in a blue uniform_ appeared, pointing his
gun at me, as he said "Stand there!" Then calling to a comrade, who had
evidently been asleep, as he did not immediately answer, I recovered my
voice sufficiently to say to the soldier in the blue blouse:

"You scared me half to death, until I saw your uniform."

He replied to my observation:

"Yes; where did you come from?"

I had not yet seen his face distinctly, but his voice and dialect at
once aroused my doubts, and again put me on my guard, and I said:

"I'll tell you all about it when your officer comes," and I braced for a

In another moment the rattling of a saber was heard, coming from the
direction of the woods, and, peering through the darkness into the
grove, I was able to distinguish the outlines of a house.

When the officer with his rattling scabbard got up to us I was almost
paralyzed to see him dressed in the grey uniform of a Confederate
cavalry officer. Addressing me courteously, he said:

"What in the name of all that's good brings you out on this road on such
a dark night, disturbing our sleep?"

He laughed, as if he thought it a good joke on himself; it was only a
trifling little laugh, but it gave me some encouragement.

"Why, I have been hunting the house where a sick friend of mine was left
after the battle, and, being unable to find him, I went to sleep in a
barn, but I couldn't stand that sort of a rest, so I got out and started
back home, and I _guess_ I'm lost."

"I _guess_ you are."

The use of this word nearly gave me away.

"What regiment was your friend in?"

"I don't know for sure, but think it's a Maryland company. I knew him in
Texas, but we were both from Maryland, and maybe he went with some Texas

"Well, my friend, this is rather a singular place and time to be found
hunting a sick friend."

"Yes, I know; but, as I tell you, I am lost in the darkness, and must
have taken the wrong road when I left the barn. I will show you my

"Oh, you have passes, have you? Come into the house and we will make a
light; we can't make a light out here because we are right on the line."

As we turned to leave, the sentry or guard who had halted me whispered
or spoke in a low tone to the officer. I suspected that he was telling
him that I had expressed my relief at seeing his blue uniform. The
officer merely nodded assent, as he invited me to walk alongside of him
into the house.

I took occasion to say to him that when I saw the blue coat I was sure
that I had been caught by a Yankee soldier, and expressed my great
pleasure at having met such courteous Southern gentlemen.

"Well, you came very near going into the Yankees' hands; why their
cavalry come out here every day, and were away inside of this point
to-day, but they generally go back at night, and we come out to spend
the night on the road."

Then stopping in his walk he turned and, after peering through the
trees, he pointed to a couple of dimly flickering lights and said:
"Those lights are in Georgetown College."

Great God! I was so near and yet so far; and as I looked at the lights I
was almost overcome with emotion to think that I had so nearly succeeded
and was now a prisoner in the sight of home and friends; that I had, in
fact, passed the last picket and had been halted from the rear, but
realizing that I must, under the trying circumstances, keep a stiff
upper lip, I might yet get free.

My surprise at hearing the lights pointed out as Georgetown College was
so great that I must have expressed in some way my feelings, as the
officer looked at me quizzically. I ventured to express myself in some
way about being so near the Yankees, as I thought I was nearer Fairfax,
in a manner which probably implied a doubt as to the lights being so
close at Georgetown, when he spoke up:

"I know they are, because, you see, I was a demonstrator of anatomy and
a tutor at that college, and we all know about it." And as a further
proof of his assertion he incidentally observed: "If you are around this
country in daylight you can see the Capitol from some elevated points."

In the silence and gloom that had settled down over me, like a cold,
heavy, wet blanket, we walked together to the house.

Along the fence and hitched to the posts were several horses, already
saddled and bridled for sudden use, while in the porch of the house were
stretched in sleep the forms of two or three men in gray uniform, with
their belts and spurs buckled on.

Inside the house a tallow candle was found, and by its dim light, the
Confederate officer scanned my pass, and then, turning, gave me a most
searching look by the light of the candle, as he said: "This pass is all
right for the inside of our lines."

"Oh," said I quickly, "I don't want any pass anywhere else. I'm glad
that I found you here, or I'd have gone into the Yankees' hands, sure."

While talking to the sentry, when waiting for the officer to come up to
us, I had not thought it necessary to attempt to destroy or "lose" the
papers in my old hat, as I supposed him to be the Union picket; and,
since the officer had joined us, there had been no opportunity to do
anything with him, without exciting suspicion, which was the one thing
to be avoided at that time.

When we went into the house I had, of course, taken off my hat, and as I
sat there under the scrutiny of that fellow's black eyes and sharp
cross-examination, I held my hat in my hand, and everytime my fingers
would touch or feel the presence of the paper in the hat I was conscious
of a little flush of guilt and apprehension, which happily the tallow
candle did not expose.

The officer, at my request, hospitably accepted the suggestion that I be
permitted to stay there under their protection until daylight, when I
could return to "our army," supplementing the arrangement by the kind

"We will see you back safely."

Then rousing one of the sleeping soldiers, whom he called aside and gave
some private directions as to my care and keeping, he courteously told
me to make myself comfortable, and apologized for the accommodations.

I was a prisoner, and I knew full well that to be escorted back through
the Rebel armies with this officer's report that I had been "found at
their outposts going in the direction of the enemy," would excite a
suspicion that would be sure to set on foot a closer examination, and
this would result in my certain detection; because the first thing they
would do would be to show my forged endorsement from General
Beauregard's Chief-of-Staff for his further endorsement; and I could
not, of course, stand an examination into my immediate antecedents, nor
explain my statements, and this would also discover my operations in the
telegraph office.

As I lay down alongside of the armed Rebel trooper for a rest, I
resolved that, come what might, I should not go back a prisoner--that it
would be preferable to be shot trying to escape rather than to be hanged
as a spy.



As I lay me down to sleep on the front porch of the little old house,
close beside an armed Rebel soldier, and not very distant from two other
aroused troopers, I realized in a manner that I can not describe that I
was not only a prisoner, but that I was most likely suspected of being a
spy who had been captured in the very act of escaping from their own
into their enemy's lines. I felt all the worse from the reflection that
my unfortunate predicament resulted solely from a want of caution or
discretion; that had I been content to suffer more patiently the delays
and annoyances which were necessarily to be encountered while tramping
in the darkness through the fields and briar bushes in avoiding the
highways, I might have passed the danger line a moment later, to have
reached our own lines safely enough a little later in the night. I had
actually passed all the Rebel pickets, both of infantry and cavalry. I
learned from the talk of the men into whose hands I had run myself, that
they were merely a detached scouting party, who were at that particular
point at night, as I surmised, to receive communications from their
friends who were inside our lines during the daytime.

This arrangement was for the accommodation and convenience of _their_
spies in our army--enabling them to come out to this rendezvous under
cover of the night to deliver their mail or supply information.

I gathered these facts from the big fellow who had me in charge, who, it
was courteously observed by the officer, "would make me as comfortable
as possible," after the manner of a jailor the night before a hanging.

The outpost was not only a branch postoffice for the Rebel couriers, but
there was a previously-arranged system of signals with some one at the
college, by which any important advances or other movement of our forces
could have been quickly announced, and that would have been well
understood by the party stationed there to observe this.

As I have said, I fully determined in my own mind not to go back to the
Rebel headquarters as a suspected spy. The forged endorsement, or
request for a pass, which I had voluntarily relinquished to the Rebel
officer, while it seemed to allay any suspicions that might have been
aroused in his mind, had the opposite effect with me.

It was the one little piece of paper out of my hands that was sure to be
closely scrutinized by the officers. It would supply documentary
evidence not only of my guilt as a spy, but of forging a Rebel General's

I had not yet seen any chance to make away with the other dreadful death
warrant, in the form of the stolen telegram that was concealed under the
lining of my hat.

While passing into the house from the road I might have thrown my hat
down, but I knew they would hunt it up for me, and, in handling it, be
sure to discover the concealed papers. I could not get them out of the
hat, even in the dark, without attracting attention that might result in
an exposure; and, besides all this, I knew full well that any pieces of
white paper, if torn into ever so small fragments and scattered on the
ground, would be sure to attract notice and be gathered up at daylight.
I was suspected, and, as such, every action and movement was being
closely scrutinized and noted. My only hope was to delay the exposure
that must eventually come; that I must keep still and trust to luck for
escape; or, if an opportunity offered me, while pretending to sleep, I
could eat and swallow the papers.

The horses of the troopers were already bridled and saddled and hitched
to the fence-post. It occurred to me, in my despair upon seeing this,
that, if I could only succeed in throwing these people off their guard
for a moment, I might find an opportunity to seize one of their own
horses, upon which I could ride defiantly and wildly down the road into
the darkness, trusting to night and the horse to carry me beyond reach
of their pursuit.

These were only a few of the many thoughts that rushed through my brain
that night, as I lay there on the porch, so near home and friends on one
side, and so close to death and the gallows on the other. It is said
that a drowning person will think of the events of a life-time in one
short moment. I had _hours_ of agony that night that can never, never be

As I lay there looking up into the sky, perhaps for the last time, I
thought I'd soon have an opportunity of finding out whether there were
other worlds than ours. I was, indeed, going to that bourne from which
no traveler ever returns.

The clouds, which had darkened the sky a little in the early part of the
evening, were now slowly rolling by. I lay as still as death for an hour
perhaps, watching the movements of the clouds; and thinking of my
friends at home.

I wondered what each and every one was doing at that particular time,
and imagined that most of my youthful associates were having a happy
evening somewhere, while I, poor fool, was lying out on a Virginia porch
in this dreadful fix, without a friend to counsel or advise with, while
I might just as well have been at home and happy with the rest of them.
If they thought of me at all, it probably was as a prisoner still about
Harper's Ferry; but I would never, perhaps, have the satisfaction of
knowing that my work in the Rebel camps had been understood. While
cogitating in this frame of mind the moon began to show through the
breaking clouds, and, as suddenly as if a face had appeared to my
vision, the Southern moon looked straight down on my face, flooding the
porch for a moment with a stream of mellow light.

I was lying partly on my side at the time, my head resting on my arm for
a pillow, as was my habit; my hat, which yet contained the tell-tale
papers, was under my face. I was almost startled from my reverie, as if
by an apparition, and, looking around hastily, I saw standing, like an
equestrian statue, on the road the mounted sentry, while along side of
me, but to my back, was _seated_ another fellow apparently wide-awake,
who looked wonderingly at me as I raised my head so suddenly. I was
closely guarded, and my heart sank within me as I again dropped my head
to my favorite position on my pillowing arm.

The moon still shone clear, and as I looked with heavy, moist, downcast
eye, I became suddenly thrilled through my whole being on discovering by
the light of that indulgent old moon that right alongside of my hat was
an open knot-hole in the floor of the porch.

I'm not a spiritualist or even a believer in the supernatural, but I
must assert, upon my conviction, that some unseen influence must have
directed and placed that ray of moonlight at that particular time, for
the express purpose of enabling me to safely deposit the tell-tale
papers. If it had not been for the timely rift in the clouds, I would
never have discovered the little opening in the floor. Another fact
which confirms me in my theory of the supernatural influence is, that,
immediately after I had been so strangely shown the place of
concealment, the light faded as suddenly as it had appeared, and for
some time afterward the surroundings became obscure in the darkness.

There may have been, but I don't think there was another hole in that
porch floor, and this one was quite insignificant.

In the darkness I could barely insert my two fingers into the opening,
as Mercutio says in the play:--"No, 'tis not as deep as a well, nor so
wide as a church door: but 'tis enough, 'twill serve."

I don't think a hunted rat or fox was ever more grateful for a hole than
I was for this; it was my only chance to get rid of the papers
unobserved, and I at once took the hint from the sky and began silently
to finger them out of my hat.

Unfortunately, they were quite bulky; the official paper which had given
a tabulated statement of the epidemic and absence of twenty-five per
cent. of the Confederate Army, was on foolscap paper, which _would_
rattle everytime it was moved; but by turning or scraping my shoes on
the boards every time I touched the papers deadened the sound, I was
enabled, after a good deal of nervous twitching, to get them into a roll
sufficiently small to poke down the hole. That's what I thought; but
when I attempted to drop them the wad wouldn't fit; and, to add to my
consternation, the guard at this point was being relieved. I lay still
for awhile in a tremor of excitement lest I should be detected; it
occurred to me, also, that though the moon had kindly shown me the way
to get rid of my burden of proof, the sun might, also, in the hours
following, expose, from the front part of the house, the presence of a
roll of white paper under the porch. I had not satisfied myself that the
opening at the front was closed. To prevent the roll of white paper
being too conspicuous, I tore from my hat the black silk lining, and, at
a favorable opportunity, I re-rolled the little paper into the black
silk stuff in a smaller package, which allowed of its being deposited in
the Rebel signal station, and "let her drop." It reached the ground
about two feet below, and, being dark in color, was assimilated so
closely with the black earth as not to attract any notice, even if there
had been an opening to daylight. This package out of my mind and off my
hands safely, I breathed a heartfelt sigh of relief and thankfulness,
and uttered a solemn prayer: "That I'd be hanged if I ever touched
another paper."

When I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and looked around and saw
daylight breaking, my heart again sank within me as I realized my

Through a misty, drizzling daylight in August, I saw preparations of the
rebel outposts to "pack off," and was hurriedly ordered to get up behind
one of the troopers whose horse would "tote double," and instead of a
gallant dash down the road to our lines, followed by howling and
shooting pursuers, I was being "toted," back to the Rebel Army, "on

It seems very funny now to have to describe my inglorious position, as
compared with the novelist's idea of a dash for liberty. I was riding
lady fashion on the rear end of a rebel cavalryman's horse, holding on
around his waist for dear life, like a girl at a picnic, as we trotted
ingloriously back toward the headquarters of the Rebel Army. It was
quite unbecoming I know, and if I had been in a camp meeting crowd I
should have enjoyed the ride; just at this particular time I was obliged
to be satisfied with the facilities, and pretended that it was fun. I
was smart enough not to allow those people to discover, by any words or
actions of mine, that I objected to going back in this way; though I
would have given worlds to have had a chance to delay them, in hopes of
relief coming up from the Union Army that would compel them to give me
up in order to save themselves.


I had two chances for my life: I could not be expected to fight the
whole Rebel Army single-handed and escape unhurt; the only thing to do,
was, so to conduct myself that I might throw them off their guard and
quietly get away, and thus have an opportunity to try again to reach our
lines. The other alternative was, that if this chance of escape did not
appear, that I might so conduct myself toward my captors as to win their
confidence, and have the forged pass disposed of and not be carried to
Beauregard. If conducted to headquarters, I might, by cunning stories,
try to impress on the minds of those who would have my examination in
charge the truth of the story that "I had become lost in the night,
while searching for the house in which my sick friend was reported to
have been left."

This was plausible enough, and I hoped from the general demoralization
prevailing after the battle, that they might be careless, or at least
indifferent, enough to let me off easy on this statement.

The forged endorsement on the pass, which had gone out of my hands, was
the serious _evidence_ against me, coupled with the fact of having been
captured while trying to go to the enemy.

There was, also, of course, always before me the great danger of a
discovery of my identity as the Fort Pickens Spy.

I had ample opportunity to consider all these things as we trotted along
back over that portion of the road that I had tramped out in so
lighthearted a manner the night previously. The soldier who "escorted"
me was a jolly, good fellow, and felt disposed to make my ride as
comfortable as possible, but as there were eight in the squad beside the
officer in command, we had to keep up with the rest and, as our old nag
was a rough trotter, it was a little bit uncomfortable at times. They
seemed to be in a hurry to get away. Perhaps something may have happened
while I was asleep that made it necessary for them to whoop things up a
little that ugly morning.

The unpleasant jolting of the horses, and the rattling of the sabers and
horses' tramping feet, prevented an easy flow of language--in fact, I
could not talk at all; it required all my time and attention to keep my
place on the rear of the saddle. I did not dare to drop off the horse,
because the officer in charge had been careful enough to place us in

We reached a bridge on which was stationed a picket, who halted us; the
officer rode up, dismounted, and gave the necessary countersign and
ordered us forward.

I had only seen the bridge at night, and from the other side, where I
had discovered a soldier with a gun walking about, when I broke for the
field and flanked him. We were halted for a moment while the rebel
officer of the guard, with our officer, walked a little distance to one
side to consult with some others, who were in a drowsy way, lounging
about a camp-fire.

I looked about to gain some idea of the topography of the country over
which I had traveled in the night.

Several officers approached us, accompanied by our commander. I was
requested to dismount, when our officer politely introduced me to the
other, saying:

"The Colonel is anxious to know how in the world you could have gotten
by his picket on this bridge last night."

"Yes," says the Colonel, "I've had men on post here who declare that no
one passed them during the night."

I was taken all aback, because I had told the party who had captured me
that I had followed the road right along.

"Well," said I, "I walked right over this bridge last night, and saw no
one here at all."

What a whopper that was; but I knew that I'd got to go through with it.
Turning abruptly away from us, both the officers walked off a short
distance and brought a sergeant forward to hear my statement; luckily
for me, he admitted that at a certain hour he had been obliged to leave
the bridge in charge of one man alone; but he insisted that it was for a
short time only. After this admission the sergeant and his officer had
some interesting talk, in rather an emphatic tone of voice, in which my
officer and our squad seemed to take a lively interest. They evidently
felt that they had found a weak spot in the infantry line of pickets,
and rather enjoyed the honor of having caught the fish that had gotten
through the net.

After this little affair had been so happily passed, to my great relief,
they all seemed to be in good humor with themselves and with me, and
were rather inclined to give me credit for having passed through their
infantry successfully. As my escort's horse was having to carry double,
and could not be expected to travel as fast as the others, the officer
in command directed a second man to stay with us, while himself and the
rest of the body-guard rode ahead.

They assumed that, being again inside of their picket-line there was no
danger of my getting out to the Yankees--if I had wanted to try to
escape from them.

We were directed to hurry to a certain house, where they would order
breakfast, and very considerately urging us to hurry along, so we could
have it hot. I was apprehensive, from this talk of a breakfast in a
house, that I should be landed back into the old bushwhacker's shanty,
where I had taken a greasy supper the night before, and had been put to
bed in his barn.

I was not sure of the road, nor would I recognize the house, as I had
seen it only at night when approaching it from the other side. I felt
relieved when we turned out of the broad road into one not so well
traveled, which led to the left or south, in the direction of Fairfax or
the railroad. To a question as to our destination, my man said: "We are
to go to Headquarters, I reckon, but we are to stop up here for a rest
and feed."

Sure enough, after passing only a short distance up the side road, we
came in sight of an old tumble-down looking house on one side of the
road, while across from it was the identical barn that I had crawled out
of a few hours earlier. The house and necessary outbuildings of the farm
were located between these two roads. I discovered by the daylight,
also, that there were quite a number of rebel soldiers encamped in a
wood close to this fork of the roads; there was, probably, a brigade of
them, or at least a couple of regiments, bivouacking there, as I judged
from the smoke of their numerous camp-fires. They were preparing their
early breakfasts. These troops, I learned from my companion on our
horse, were detailed for the Rebel advance picket duty, and were
scattered in detachments all along the front in the best shape to
protect their line.

Riding up to the gate, I jumped off the horse with alacrity, and seeing
the old bushwhacker in the door, I rushed up to him as if I had found a
long-lost father, and began to tell him how glad I was to be safely back
there again.

"But," said the old scoundrel, "why didn't you stay here last night?"

"Why, I couldn't sleep in that old barn for the rats, and so I got out;
and as I didn't want to waken you all up, I walked off quietly alone,
but I got started on the wrong road in the night and came near getting
into the Yankee's hands."

"Too bad," said the old rascal, with a sneer and a knowing wink to a
group of officers who had gathered around there for a breakfast and had
heard my story from our officer. I saw at once that I was a goner, and
that my story wouldn't go down here; but, keeping a stiff upper lip, I
assumed an air of cheerfulness that I did not at all feel in my heart. I
was disturbed, too, to observe that my commander was being questioned
earnestly by several officers, who would every now and then glance
significantly at me; from their gestures and manner I knew instinctively
that my case was being discussed, and every sign indicated that the
verdict would go against me.

This sort of a reception was not calculated to whet my appetite for the
breakfast awaiting us. The Georgetown tutor, whom I have termed "my
Rebel," was a perfect gentleman, and whatever may have been his own
convictions as to my being a spy, he most considerately concealed from
me any indications, and refrained from the expression of a suspicion as
to the truthfulness of my story. He assumed in my presence that I was a
straight refugee; and I inferred, from his intercourse with the officers
whom he had met at this old house, that he had defended me as against
their suspicions.

A young enlisted man from one of the regiments camped about there had
been brought to the house to confront me on my "Maryland story," he
being a Marylander. It was supposed he would be able to detect any
inaccuracies in my account of Maryland; but I soon satisfied him, and
showed the officers who had gathered about that I knew as much about
Maryland and Baltimore as he did, and more about the Rebel country. I
had fully crammed myself on that subject, in anticipation of being
questioned on it.

I have often thought since that, had I fallen into the hands of those
infantry officers, after having successfully passed through their lines,
they would have been tempted to hang me without trial, and the old
bushwhacker would have been glad to have acted hangman. He looked like a
veritable Jack Ketch. They well knew that the report of the cavalry
officer to headquarters would expose the weakness of their line.

I took occasion at the first opportunity to have a little talk with my
officer, to ascertain what he intended to do with me. With a sigh of
relief, he said:

"Why, sir, I shall have to leave the matter entirely with the officer
who gave you this pass."

That wasn't very comforting, but I didn't say that I felt it was the
very worst thing that could befall me; but, instead, I spoke up: "That
will be all right. I shall be glad to get away from this place as soon
as possible."

"Oh, yes; we will see you safely to our headquarters."

Then giving some directions to the sergeant of his squad to get ready to
move, he turned again to me and said, kindly:

"I am sorry that I have no horse for you, sir; and, as we are now
detained considerably, I will ride on ahead. These two men will come on
more leisurely with you."

That was one good point--the chances for escape were increased
three-fourths, or in direct ratio to the reduction of my body-guard, or
escort from eight to two.

I was inside the Rebel pickets again, and _they_ had been made more
alert, and would be more watchful after their carelessness of the night
previous. This, with the fact that I had been scrutinized by so many
soldiers on that morning ride through their lines and camps, would make
any attempt to escape in that direction doubly dangerous; therefore I
concluded I should try to quietly get away from these two soldiers at
the first favorable opportunity; if I succeeded, I should not dare to
attempt passing _that_ picket-line a second time, especially in

It was quite a relief to me to say good-by to the old bushwhacker and
his crowd of Rebs from my seat on the rear end of the horse. He had
something to say about "not coming back that way again," as we rode off.
They detained our companion a moment or two, while I imagined they
poured into his head some cautions or directions about taking care of
me. When he caught up to us, he said, laughingly: "Them fellows think
you are a bad man."

This was thought to be too funny for anything; and to keep up the joke,
I grabbed my man around the stomach and called on him to surrender to me
at once, or I'd pull his hair.

We trotted along the road in this laughing humor for a mile or so; my
heart was not in the laughing mood, but I, like the broken-hearted and
distressed comedian on the stage, was playing a part, and, in a greater
sense than theirs, my "living" depended upon my success in acting the
character well.

At one point in the road my comrade had dismounted for awhile, and
kindly gave me the bridle-rein to hold. I was then in possession of the
horse, he was afoot, his gun standing by a fence-corner, and himself on
the other side of the fence. This was a pretty good chance for a
horse-race with the other fellow, who was still mounted, but he had the
advantage of holding a carbine and a belt full of pistols, while I was
unarmed. I wasn't afraid of _his_ guns. I took in the situation at once,
and would like very much to be able give the reader a thrilling account
of a race inside the Rebel lines, but the hard facts are--I was afraid
to undertake it. I had discovered at the foot of the hill, near a stream
of water, in the direction in which we were going, the smoke of a camp,
and probably a road guard was over the little bridge.

These soldiers, I knew, would halt me with a volley from their muskets,
especially if I should come tearing down with an armed Rebel shouting
after me. On the other side, toward the out lines, the course would lead
me back into the Rebel camps and past the old bushwhacker's house we had
recently left, and I preferred going to headquarters to getting back
into their clutches again.

When my man remounted and I surrendered the reins to him, I observed
that, if I had wanted to have gone back, or to run off with his horse, I
could have done it, and at least had a race with our companion; they had
not thought of the danger at all, and were both tickled at this evidence
of my good intention; neither of them had seen the infantry guard ahead
of us, which was the _only_ obstacle to my attempting to carry out this
"good intention."

We trotted and walked further down the hill and passed inside the guard;
in going up the next hill, I proposed relieving the horse by walking a
little; this was readily granted, and I slipped off on to the road and
stretched my legs in training for a run, if a chance offered. I remarked
jokingly to the soldiers, who rode along leisurely, that they had better
watch me close; that, as we were now inside of about three lines of
pickets, or road guards, being such a dangerous fellow, I might fly back
over their heads into the Yankee's lines.

This sort of pleasantry seemed to keep them in an easy frame of mind,
and they began to act as if they were ashamed of the fact, that two
heavily-armed men on horseback should be necessary to guard one unarmed
boy on foot. One of the men discovered a house standing back from the
road, at which they proposed getting water for their horses and
ourselves, so we all turned into the little road leading right up to the

Our first inquiry was met at the kitchen door, in answer to his request
for a cup to drink from, by a real neat, young, colored gal, whose
laughing, happy face showed a mouthful of beautiful teeth while the red
struggling through the black showed a beautiful cherry color in her

Both the boys were attracted, and began immediately, in the true
Southern chivalrous style, to make themselves agreeable to the "likely
gal." I didn't have anything to say. The other two fellows kept up the
fun for quite a little while, becoming every moment more and more
interested, and actually became jealous of each other. I saw that this
was likely to be my opportunity and encouraged the performance. While
they were both dismounted and "resting" on the old back porch buzzing
the gal, I carelessly observed that I'd go around to a little out
building. They had gained so much confidence in me that my proposition
was assented to without a word, or even a nod; and the boys both sat
still, while I unconcernedly walked around the corner of the house.

How long they sat there and talked I do not know, and what became of the
two good boys in gray will never be told by me.

As far as their history is concerned in this story, it closes with this
scene on the back porch of the old house.



Apparently there were "no men folks" about the house at the time of our
morning visit. However, through a window, I saw the white cap of an old
lady, whose bright eyes shone through her large-rimmed specs intently on
the group that sat on her back porch.

I had taken observations every foot of our march during the morning,
with an eye single to the main chance, when the opportunity should
offer, to escape from the guard--either to run or to hide from pursuit.
Under such conditions, one's wits take on a keen edge. Directly back of
the house, but on the other side of two open fields, was the edge of a
wood that extended a long way in both directions. This wood was the
timber or inclosed land down in the "hollow" or bottom, as they term the
low lands, while the road on which we were traveling stretched in almost
a straight line over the higher ground.

Once around the corner of the house, I stopped a moment to take in the
situation. I saw at a glance that the wood was my only chance, because
cavalry could not follow me on horseback through the undergrowth, where
I could go on foot. I felt equal to both of them--except the guns.

A dividing fence ran along the fields toward the house, and quickly
scaling this, I turned for a look back, then thinking of the doubly
dangerous risk of a second capture while attempting to escape, being
actually in the enemy's army, I was nerved to desperation and made a
break for liberty, feeling that I could almost fly. I ran like a pursued

I took off my hat--I don't know why, but I always take off my hat when
anything desperate is to be attempted. I didn't stop to pray in a
fence-corner, but, in a half-stooping position, so as to keep under
cover of the fence, I ran like a deer along that old stake-and-rider
fence, and I made, I know, as good time as ever boy did in a race after
hounds. In the middle of the field an old negro man was working alone. I
stopped for a moment when I saw him, but as I was, luckily, on the
opposite side of the fence from him, he did not see me. This old moke
had a dog along with him--they all have dogs. I was more afraid of the
dog than of guns. This black apparition in my path to the woods
necessitated a slight change of direction, to avoid him, as well as the
scent of the mangy-looking old dog, that I imagined was "pointing" me.

I was soon under the hill, from where I stopped a minute to look back. I
could see only the top of the house that I had just left, and I knew
they could not see me; so, leaving the protecting shadow of the fence, I
struck boldly across the field in a direction leading furthest away from
the old coon and his dog, in a course toward headquarters, the same in
which we had been traveling. I knew, or at least imagined, that,
immediately on discovering my escape, they would naturally think that I
would return, or that I should at least try to make toward their front,
and again try to escape into the Yankee lines.

This was their mistake. My plan had been deliberately formed before hand
to do precisely the opposite thing--which was to run ahead, or toward
the Rebel headquarters, trusting to the chances of putting pursuers off
my scent, and hoping to lose my identity in the crowd among the Rebel

Like the hunted fox, my tracks zigzagged me back to the road we intended
to follow, but brought me out ahead of the house. Before risking myself
on the road a second time, I peered through the fence cautiously, from
whence I could see up and down the road for a long way. The coast was
entirely clear; and, cautiously crawling through the lower bar of the
fence, I did not run across the road; no, indeed, I _crawled_ across on
my hands and knees, like a hog, so that I might the better avoid any
chance of observation, and, in the same ignominious style, I hogged it
through the lower panel of the fence on the other side. Once safely over
the road, I quickly changed my character from the swinish quadruped to
the biped; and, without turning to look either to the right or to the
left, I crawled along that fence right alongside of the road, in as
speedy a manner as was possible.

It was more luck than good management on my part that I had been forced
back on to and over the road by the presence of the black man and his
dog. In pursuit they would naturally follow, but the old man would be
sure to swear that I had not gone in the direction that I had been
obliged to take, because he had been there all the time and had not seen

While the two clever cavalrymen were probably skirmishing around on
their horses along the road, or through the fields to their front,
looking after me, I was rapidly traveling in a course directly opposite,
and they would not be likely to suspect that I had crossed the road.

There were no woods on the side of the fence or road on which I had
placed myself, and I was obliged to keep close to the fence, and
followed right alongside of the road for quite a long way.

At the bottom of the hill was a dry run; that is, there was a gravelly
bed over which a small stream should have coursed, but the water was not
there in August, 1861. The banks were, however, pretty well shaded or
covered with a light undergrowth of willows, or some such trees as
usually are seen in these situations. It was a good chance for me to get
away from the road fence, so I ran along the run-bed toward the south,
under the protection of the shady undergrowth. There were no signs of
life along this stream; it was deserted both by the water and the things
that live in and above the water.

Its course led me a long way from the road. After successfully passing a
house, which was near the top of the hill, at a safe distance,
unobserved, I got into a second wood and lay down on the ground for a
much-needed rest.

I did not dare to stop long in any one place, knowing only too well
that, when my guard should report that he had lost his prisoner, the
Rebel cavalry about headquarters would be sent out to search for me,
with probable orders to all guarded points to keep an especial lookout
for a person of my description. I could not stay in the wood, though I
could best conceal myself there, because I knew that I would famish. I
was already in real distress for want of a drink of water, and, as I lay
there in the wood, my brain began to conjure up all sorts of torments. I
imagined that the dry bed of the stream over which I had been stumbling
was mocking me with an appearance of moisture.

If any who chance to read this have ever had a couple of hours violent
exercise in a dusty country, on a hot August day, and longed for a drink
of water, they may appreciate my misery. I don't imagine that I can
convey in words any conception of the suffering, the intense suffering
one may experience for a drop of water, when they can't get it. The
experience will almost drive one wild. I believe this, because, on more
than one occasion, I have seen the demon of this anguish look into my
eyes with the wild glare of the frenzied maniac.

The drizzling rain of the morning had given way to a sultry, close noon,
and as I lay panting in the shade of the wood, the sun hung out like a
huge, blazing copper ball, and poured down his fiercest heat. I thought
of the beautiful, clear, cold spring on the hill-side back of my
father's house, in Pennsylvania, where I had so often, when a boy, been
sent for a bucket of water, and had so reluctantly obeyed, thinking it a
great hardship to be compelled to throw out a whole bucket of _good_
water just because it wasn't fresh and cold. I would have given anything
in the world for just one chance to be a better boy at home, and
solemnly pledged myself never to kick again on my turn at going for

I called up involuntarily all the soda fountains I had ever seen in the
cities, and became frenzied over the idea that I began to hear in my
mind the buzzing noise of the little sprays of water that were always to
be heard dashing against the glass case. Unable to stand it any longer,
I got up and made a break for water, determined that I must find it at
any risk.

In this condition of mind I trotted along slowly, like a hunted wolf,
with his tongue hanging out. Let's see. I've compared myself to a monkey
riding on the rear end of a horse; a deer stalking behind the fence; a
fox with zigzag tracks being chased by a dog; a hog under a fence; and
now it's a chased wolf. I hope to exhaust Noah's Ark before I complete
the story, and am trying to keep the score in view.

I found a pool of water on the outer edge of the wood. There had been a
spring about there some place at some time. If there had been any hogs
about they would have found it first and utilized it as a bath; as it
was, it was partly covered with a greenish slime. I had spent some time
in Texas, where it only rains once in seven years, and had learned,
while traveling about that country, that the green scum is considered an
indication of _good water_. That's a fact. A Texan will always prefer to
take a drink from a pool on which there is this scum. So, in my
distress, for the want of a drink--of anything, so it was water or
something wet--I eagerly skimmed a place large enough to poke my nose
and mouth into, and sucked into my parched throat a long drink of the
warm stuff.

I had also learned another drinking trick in Texas, which is--always to
hold your breath as long as possible after taking a drink of what they
call water, in order to conceal as far as possible the taste in the
mouth which necessarily follows the nauseous dose.

But we must hurry along and get out of the woods with the story. I
reached, after considerable dodging, a railroad. I judged it was the
Manassas road, leading from Alexandria past Fairfax Station back toward
Manassas. I was not sure of my location, but I was glad enough to strike
a railroad-track, because I knew that cavalry could not travel on ties
as fast as I could, and I hoped, too, that it would afford me some
chance to get away from the cussed country more rapidly.

I didn't dare walk the track, but I followed along it for quite a long
way. At one point, where there was a long, straight line, I discovered
some distance ahead a soldier on guard. I imagined it was a bridge or
culvert guard, and I knew that I could not pass that point. While
getting ready to go around them, I observed that the telegraph wire,
which had become destroyed and was repaired at one point, was quite low;
the men who had done the work had evidently not been able to climb a
pole, and had left it hanging over the bushes. The sight of the wire in
this shape, put into my head the idea that it would be well enough to
destroy their communication right there, and prevent the use of _that_
means of spreading information about a spy being loose in their camps.

Getting to one side of the bushes, I easily got hold of the wire from my
position on the ground, and, hauling it as far as possible to one side,
after hastily glancing up and down the road to see that no one was near
to observe me, I "yanked," or by a dexterous "twist of the wrist," which
a wire-man understands, I was able to break the wire, which, the minute
the tension was removed, suddenly flew apart, making the adjoining poles
resound with the vibration. I was frightened at the consequence of my
act and dodged hastily into the shelter of the wood.


It was possible for me, as an expert telegrapher, to have drawn the ends
of the wire together, and, by simply tapping them together, to have sent
by this simple method a message of defiance to General Beauregard. I
suspect that this story would be enlivened somewhat by such a trick, but
it don't come in here. It was successfully played _afterward_ while I
was on Stoneman's raid to Richmond's outskirts; but the truth is, that I
was too badly scared to think of such a thing at this time. The
accident, if I may so term it, served me a good turn in one or two ways;
first, it destroyed communication for the time, and it brought about a
valuable means to the end of assisting my escape, but it was not a safe
place to loiter.

It occurred to me that I might be able to pass the bridge, and thus get
over the stream safely, by assuming the role of a telegraph line
repairman, carrying some loose wire. The wires were being frequently
broken by the rough pounding of the poles by mule drivers, and repairmen
were no doubt often being sent out to fix up the breaks. In this
capacity I knew I would be looked upon as belonging to a sort of
privileged class, as they now are, riding free on the rear end of the
railway trains, while we all know a telephone man will walk right
through the best and biggest house to get on to the roof to fix a break,
as if he had an inborn right to go anywhere he chose.

Breaking from one of the hanging ends of the wire a long piece, I coiled
it in shape that linemen carry, and putting it over my neck, I started
boldly down the track. I had no climbers, but I was able to personate an
amateur repairman who had been suddenly pressed into the service, on
account of a great emergency, who must travel rapidly as possible in
search of a broken wire.

My story passed me safely over the bridge and past the guards stationed
at several points on the track. I traveled rapidly in the direction
farthest from the break. By the same bold trick I was able to get
through several camps that were close by the tracks.

There were no trains running on that part of the road at that time, or I
should have, probably, been tempted to boldly stop an engine and get on;
as I had often seen linemen on the Pennsylvania Railroad thus picked up
from the road by accommodating engineers. I knew, of course, that the
trick would not last long; that the moment the wires had separated the
operators would know of some sort of a break out on their line, and
would at once take the necessary steps to test for the location of the
accident; and, of course, men would be sent out as speedily as possible
to repair the damage. I ran the additional risk, too, of meeting with
some of those _bona fide_ linemen, who would question my authority.

In the manner in which I have tried to describe, the greater part of
this eventful day was spent, until along about an hour before sundown,
when I came to a road crossing the railway. I now seemed to have gotten
through, or beyond, Manassas, in the rear of the Rebel Army, toward
Richmond, as there were no further guards at the crossings. I
discovered, by encouraging a trackman in a short talk, that the road
crossing the tracks led off in a direct course to Falmouth and
Fredericksburg and Richmond. After a little further inquiry as to a
suitable house at which to apply for something to eat, I left the track,
taking the dusty summer road "on to Richmond."

I felt, as I walked along this narrow road, which was seemingly cut
through a thicket of small saplings, so common in that country, that I
had escaped, and was safe once more. My belief was, that I had not only
eluded pursuit but that I had put those whom I knew would be sent to
find me on the wrong scent.

I was tired, _very_ tired, and as I had eaten nothing at all since the
hasty breakfast at the bushwhacker's house, when I didn't have appetite
enough to swallow a mouthful, I was, of course, hungry. I hadn't a cent
of money, either, and what could I do but beg, and this I _would not
do_. Again my good angel came to my relief by suggesting a ruse, to
further aid my escape and, at the same time, perhaps, create a sympathy
for myself.

I had, in assuming the character of a lineman, thrown away my coat, in
order to relieve myself of the burden of carrying it along in the hot
sun, and to further carry out the impression that I was a workingman
without a coat.

I had walked so much and so rapidly that my left foot had become
swollen, so that I was obliged to go along at a limping gait. I took
advantage of this accident to further add to the change in my
appearance, by assuming a lameness that apparently obliged me to depend
upon the use of two sticks to hobble along.

I had been obliged to take off my tight left shoe, and around the
swollen foot I tenderly tied the greater portion of my shirt, which I
had, of course, first torn off the narrative end. In this shape, walking
between two sticks, with my foot tied up as if it had recently gone
through a surgical operation, I jogged along down the sandy, dusty road
which was leading toward Fredericksburg and Richmond.

Along in the evening I ran into a clearing, at the far end of which was
nestled a little old-fashioned house. It was one of those country
farmhouses where the roof extends down beyond the house and forms a
lower shed or porch roof, which runs along, both at the back and the
front, the whole length of the house.

Opening on to the roof were two dormer windows of the old-fashioned
kind, that we don't often see nowadays.

I marched boldly--if limpingly--through the picket gate, up the straight
path in front of the house door, and, assuming to be suffering
dreadfully from my "wound," I asked the old man--another old
bushwhacker--for a drink of water. He didn't fly around with any great
alacrity to wait on the "poor soldier,"--that isn't the style of
hospitality for poor whites in Virginia--but the old cuss did order a
colored boy to bring some water.

"Right away; do you hyar?"

I was just dying for a chance to operate on the old fellow's sympathy,
with a view to "accepting his hospitality" for the night, or to the
extent of a supper, at least, but I had come up to his door a poor
wounded soldier on foot, and the second-class Virginia gentleman has no
use for a poor man, even if he should be a wounded Rebel soldier, who
had come all the way from Texas to defend his home, etc., etc.

If I had ridden up to his house as a blatant Rebel officer, on
horseback, everything his house contained would have been officiously
placed at my disposal without a word of question.

As it was, the old rascal began to ask questions, and was so
disagreeable, too, in his manner, that a young man, who had come up from
the barn, and who I judged to be his son, found it necessary to answer
for me, and in a way that put the old man down.

Being thus encouraged by the son, the old lady took a hand in behalf of
the "poor soldier," and endeavored in a kind, motherly way to make me
more comfortable. I had told them that I had been slightly wounded in
the foot, but the wound did not properly heal, and I had been tired and
sick lying about the hospital camp, and had determined on my own account
to get out to the country some place, for a day or two. I was particular
to impress on the mind of the sour old man, that I was not a
beggar--that I'd pay for all I got, etc. Now, I didn't have a cent of
money, and if that old man had demanded a settlement after supper, I
should have been sadly left; but I was going to stay all night, and
return to camp _for a pass_ the next day. The old man had said that they
all had their orders from the army officers not to entertain _any_
soldiers who couldn't produce passes. To this I replied that, "I had
thoughtlessly overlooked the matter, but could easily fix _that_ the
next morning, when I'd return."

We had a _good_ supper; the old lady's sympathies were aroused, and she
set out her little delicacies for the

    "Poor Texas boy, who was so far from home."

I was just hungry enough to have eaten everything they had prepared for
the whole family; but, as I was on my good behavior, you know, by a
mighty effort and struggle with the inner man I was able to postpone my
appetite. There was only the old man, his wife, and the big lubberly
son, and a colored mammy in the house. They were evidently "poor white
trash," but they owned one slave, so old that she was like a broken-down
horse or cow--very cheap.

I heard the old man talking earnestly to the son, and I imagined, of
course, that the conversation was about myself--at such a time one's
fears are aroused by every little incident.

"Trifles light as air, become proofs as strong as Holy Writ."

"Oh, no; you're mistaken, Father! Why, the poor fellow can't walk."

"But," replied the gruff voice of the old man, "he don't know where his
regiment is."

Without further words the young fellow walked off. When the old man came
back to the porch, where I had been sitting telling the old lady a
sorrowful tale about my home, etc., he began:

"Where did you say you got your wound?"

"Why, it was a trifling hurt on the instep; it only became troublesome
because I couldn't keep from using my foot."

Then the old lady chipped in with:

"Shall I send Mammy to help you bathe it with warm water, before you go
to bed?"

I declined this with profuse thanks, and begged that they would not
trouble themselves about it; it was a mere trifle.

After some more questions from the old man, which I was able to parry, I
was ready for bed, glad enough to get away from him, and determined to
clear out as soon as possible. They put me into a room which was in the
attic, which extended across the width of the house; from this room
there were windows opening on to the roof before described (two dormer
windows), one in front and the other directly opposite, opening onto the
roof of the porch. Before getting ready to lie down, I took a good look
at the surroundings from both of these windows. I had become so
accustomed to this, going to bed in the enemy's country, not knowing the
condition in which I should find myself when I'd waken, that it became a
sort of a habit with me to take my bearings, that I might be able to
escape in case of fire.

I didn't "dress" my wound exactly, or undress myself for bed; in fact,
there was nothing that I could strip off but the trousers, one shoe and
a hat. With these all on, I lay down on top of the old-fashioned, cord
bedstead, and, as described by some of the smart sayings that we used
for texts in our copy-books at school--"Consider each night how you have
spent the past day, and resolve to do better the next." Its awfully easy
to get up these texts, but it's sometimes a little bit troublesome to
apply the same thing to every-day life. I "resolved" easily enough to do
better the following day--if I could. I wanted to get out of that
country very badly, because I knew, as before stated, that the whole
Rebel Army at Manassas would be on guard for spies at once.

My one hope was to get to Richmond and escape by some other route. While
"resolving" further in my mind how to get along down that road in the
morning, without this old man getting after me for my supper and lodging
bill, I almost fell asleep. I was so tired that I could scarcely keep
awake, yet I was afraid to trust myself in sleep.

The folks in the house had all been in bed some time; the lights were
out, and everything became ominously quiet. My quick ear detected horses
neighing and tramping, and an occasional voice in the night air reached
my ear; but, as the sound seemed to die away so soon, I began to think
myself mistaken, and was about to surrender myself to sleep, when
aroused again by what was unmistakably horses galloping along the road.
I quickly, but painfully, jumped up from the bed, and stole quietly over
to the front window just in time to see a troop of horsemen come up.
They were about to ride rapidly past when one of the fellows in the rear
file called out: "Here's a house."

There was the jangling that always follows a sudden halt of cavalry,
especially when following each other closely on a dark night. Some
voices, in the nature of interrogations from an officer to his command,
and a halt was made some little distance down the road past the house.

Two of the men wheeled and rode toward the front of the house, and,
after looking about the grounds, talking in a tone of voice that did not
admit of my getting distinctly the purport of the remarks, they both
galloped back together to the command, which they had left standing in
the road. I breathed freer, hoping they had decided to let us alone.

It would never do for that old man to have a chance to explain, in his
way, my presence in the house. I felt devoutly thankful for the lucky
escape I had again made, and had about concluded in my own mind to clear
out silently, without the Virginia formality of saying good-by to my
host, when I saw, with horror, that the whole troop had turned about and
were walking their horses slowly back toward the house. I stood by the
front dormer window of the old house, and you may imagine how eagerly I
watched their every movement.

The officer in command halted his troop and, calling a trooper by name,

"Sergeant, you go up to the house and ask if they have seen any
strangers along this road."

That was enough for me. I left that window as suddenly as if a gun had
been pointed at me, and ran across the little room to the back window;
it was open, the night being so warm, the sash held up by the customary
window-stick. I got myself through the window with celerity and was
about to let myself slide down the roof slowly to the eaves, so that I
might catch on there and allow myself to further gently drop down on to
one of the supporting posts, where I could slide down to the ground.
Stretching myself out in a feeling way on the roof, still holding on to
the window sill, almost afraid to let go, when down came the window-sash
striking me across the wrist so suddenly and severely that I involuntary
let go my hold and, of course, slid down the roof feet foremost like a
sled on an iced track, landing kerslop over the side on to the ground.
In my sudden descent I had caught hold of a lot of Virginia creepers
that were trained up to the side of the back porch and had pulled them
down with me, and lay for an instant all tangled up in them.


If there is anything that will startle a man or a woman it is the sudden
fall of a window-sash, because, in most cases, it makes such an infernal
noise and does so little damage; but, in this case, luckily for me,
perhaps, my poor hand was made to answer the purpose of a buffer and
deadened the sound of the falling sash, otherwise it might have fallen,
as sashes always do, and the noise have attracted the notice of the
cavalrymen, who were on the road at the other side of the house. My
quick shute from the up-stairs of the little old house to the ground was
softened a little by the mass of vines that I had carried down with me.

The house only stood between me and a troop of pursuing cavalrymen.
Quickly realizing my precarious predicament, I gathered myself up, and,
for a poor wounded crippled Texan with two canes, I made most elegant
time, considering the darkness, straight back to the barnyard into the
wood beyond. What happened at the house I never learned, as I did not
stop to hear another word spoken.



When I heard the officer in command of the cavalry party give
instructions to his Sergeant to inquire "if any strangers had been seen
about there," I jumped to the conclusion that it was a detachment of
Rebel cavalry that had been sent after me. It may have been that this
party had received general instructions only--to look out for all
strangers traveling over the roads; but I knew full well that the old
man would make such a reply to any inquiries as would excite their
suspicion and put me to the dangerous test of an examination.

In sliding off the back-porch roof so suddenly, I had further injured my
already tired and swollen foot; but I seemed to forget all about it for
the time, and ran off as lively as if I were just out of bed after a
refreshing sleep.

I believe that they did not discover the "presence" of an enemy for some
time after I had gotten off, or until the old man had been roused from
his sleep; and I imagined, after a parley with him, the officer would
accompany him to my room in the garret for the purpose of interviewing
their guest.

What they thought when they found the bed empty, and nothing left of the
poor Texas cripple but his two improvised crutches, I must leave to

I ran through the darkness wildly, recklessly, as fast as I could,
scarcely knowing whither I was going, only feeling that each jump or
step led me further from the cavalrymen. The night was quite dark. My
course led me across a plowed field to a fence over which I climbed
quickly, and plunged into a thicket or wood of small pine trees.

Once into this cover, I plodded along slowly, being obliged to pick my
steps. It was blind traveling, and I avoided running into the briar
bushes that are so plentiful in that part of Virginia. Through this
thicket, every step, to my frightened wits, seemed sure to betray my
presence by the breaking or snapping of the twigs and bushes.

I didn't know where it would lead me, but I could not for the life of me
keep still a single moment. I felt impelled by some unseen power to keep
going on, on--how long I dodged and scratched through the bushes and
briars can not be told. I only remember that every few steps I would be
obliged to halt, having run my face against some low, thorny limb of the
heavy growth of saplings, that would almost bring the tears to my eyes
from the smart pains inflicted. I carried my hat in my hand, as I always
do when I'm hard-pressed, and my long hair, like that of Absalom, gave
me a great deal of additional trouble.

I was soon beyond sight or sound of the cavalrymen, whom I had left in
the road. I desired to keep near the roads leading toward
Fredericksburg. I assumed that, in pursuing, these men would naturally
imagine I had taken the back track to reach the railroad.

I sometimes almost despaired of getting far enough away from the house
to prevent capture before daylight would come. When I'd stop for a few
moments to untangle myself from the bushes, or to feel my way over a
fallen tree, I'd imagine that the curious noises that every one hears in
the stillness of the night in the woods were the echoes of the pursuing

I feared above all things else that they would procure from some of the
neighboring houses some dogs--bloodhounds, perhaps--that would be used
to track me through the thicket. In this way a most miserable night

Though I say it, who should not, I had less fear of the Rebels in arms
than of the dogs. In all my adventures in their camps, I had preserved
secretly, next to my body, the little Colt's five-shooter revolver. I
knew how to use it. There were the five loads yet in it, that I had put
in before leaving Pennsylvania, and I had resolved that four of them
would be used against either Rebels or bloodhounds and the fifth would
relieve me from further pursuit.

I admit freely that I was frightened; indeed, I was scared half to
death, and would have given the world and all that was in it, if it were
mine, to have gotten out of the miserable scrape in which I had
voluntarily placed myself. Under such conditions even a frightened boy
will become desperate.

I had deliberately determined to sell my life as dearly as possible,
and, if they had not killed me, I should most certainly have done the
business for myself rather than take any further chances in their hands.
This is the way I was feeling while resting for a few moments on an old

A picture of myself would show a smooth-faced youngster sitting "like a
knot on a log," dressed in three-fourths of a shirt, a pair of torn
trousers, one shoe and a half, bare-headed, long tangled hair, and I
imagine an expression of countenance that would closely resemble the
"Wild Boy of the Woods." I had torn off the greater part of my shirt to
bandage a sore foot the evening previously.

When a person is hunted down he can accomplish some wonderful feats in
quick traveling, even if the difficulties to be overcome are
distressingly innumerable.

I had forgotten all about the sore foot, on which I had limped to the
house the night before. My wrist, on which the window sash had fallen,
was most painful and threatened to give me trouble. Though I had been on
a terrible jaunt for twenty-four hours previously, I did not at that
time feel tired, sleepy, or even hungry.

There was the one idea in my head--to make all the speed possible, and
increase the distance between myself and Manassas. I had come upon a
peculiarly sickening smell, that made me a little sick at the stomach,
when all of a sudden I was startled, and my blood chilled, by a rustling
noise in front of me; glancing ahead, in a terror of fright, I saw
gleaming through the darkness something that I thought and believed
might be the glaring eyes of a bloodhound. That dread was in my mind,
but in the next instant the eyes had disappeared; with a rushing,
rustling noise, the object, whatever it was that owned the terrible
eyes, ran off through the woods.

For the moment I was so stunned that I could scarcely move forward or
backward; but, on second thought, realizing it was probably some wolfish
dog that I had surprised while feeding upon the carcass of a dead sheep,
I gathered courage to move ahead. As it was in my path, I was obliged
to approach it, despite the sickening odor which was everywhere around.
In a hot, sultry August night it was like--well, old soldiers can
imagine what it was like. Desirous of avoiding the stench as much as
possible, I was climbing over a log rather than walk too close to where
I supposed the eyes had been; hurrying along, holding my breath, with
one hand to my nose, what was my horror to find that I had stepped from
the top of the log right down on to the decaying body of--_a man_! O,
horror of horrors! I can not write of it. I've never even told the story
to my best friends. It has been too dreadful to contemplate; but the
naked, disgusting facts are, that I stepped down on to the soft
object--my foot slipped, as it would from a rotten, slimy substance,
throwing me partly down, as I had one hand on my nose, and, in my
efforts to recover myself, plunged both my hands into the soft, decaying
flesh of the head, causing the hair to peel off the scalp.


What did I do? What would you have done? I was, for that moment in my
life, as wild as ever lunatic could be; and can not remember further
than that I ran straight ahead toward the road, which I had been so
careful to avoid, and, after reaching it, I scaled the fence, like a
scared dog, at two bounds, and ran--oh dear me--I didn't care what I
should meet after that. My steps were long and quick, and it was not
until I was completely exhausted that I stopped for a rest. I rubbed my
hands in the dusty road; I polished the shoe in the dust of the road
that had slipped off the slimy bones, but the smell would _not_ out; it
seemed to penetrate everything; and I became deathly sick from the
exhaustion. The experience of that hour had so turned my head and
stomach that I was as weak and helpless as a child. In this condition I
lay down in a fence-corner, not able to hold my head up another moment.
Perhaps I fainted, but I claim never to have fainted.

I know that the dreadful object was a half-buried man. I know this,
because some of his hair was in the sleeve of my shirt the next day. I
don't feel like writing anything more about it, and will dismiss it with
the theory which I subsequently entertained: that it was most likely the
unburied body of a wounded Rebel, or, perhaps, an escaped Union prisoner
who, like myself, after the recent battle of Manassas, had concealed
himself in the thicket, and while in that condition he had probably
taken sick, and being unable to procure any assistance, or to make his
presence known, had died this lonely and unhappy death; and the wolves
and dogs only had found his resting place--the log his only tombstone.

I lay curled up in the fence-corner for an hour or so. I imagined
_everything_. Dear me! I might fill a book with the thoughts that
whirled through my excited, feverish brain that dreadful night. I felt
that this would be my fate. Every stick of wood became a snake, and they
soon became so numerous that I was surrounded by them on all sides. The
trees were a mass of living, laughing, bowing giants, who were there to
laugh at my misery; and the noises--well, all know how a little frog can
scare a big man when it darts into the puddle of water with a thug,
especially if it's at night and he alone. I've often been scared by the
suddenness of their jump, but that one night in particular it seemed as
if all the wild animals in creation had gathered about that country,
attracted by the smell from the distant battlefield of Manassas.

There were plenty of unburied and half-buried bodies all over the
country about Manassas--the very air was laden with the odor from
decaying horses, mules, etc. One can imagine far better than I can
describe the sensations of an over-sensitive youth as he lay in a
fence-corner of Virginia, forced to inhale the odor and obliged to hear
all the dreadful noises that came out of the dark woods, and add to this
the certain knowledge that, if I should become prostrated, then all hope
of any relief for me from this veritable hell in Virginia would

As I lay there to add further to my cup of misery, I heard coming along
the road, the tramp and gallop of horses. Lying on the ground one can
hear the horses' feet a long way off, and I suffered in anticipation
just so much the more. I imagined these were the same cavalrymen I had
left at the house. This new danger served to rouse me partially, and
raising my head a little, I got my trusty little Colt out of its
concealment, and was ready for the end.

In truth I did not then care, and had become so perfectly desperate that
I was ready and indeed almost anxious to be out of my misery.

They approached rapidly. I raised myself to a sitting posture, placed my
back against the fence, cocked the pistol, and waited for their
appearance. They trotted up, talking gaily among themselves and without
seeing me, as their horses shied past. That was not very wonderful,
because I was so close to the fence as to become covered by the shadow;
the night was still too dark for objects to be seen at a short distance,
especially from a rapidly-trotting horse.

The passing of this cavalry detachment before me, as I sat in the
fence-corner, served to arouse my drooping spirits somewhat. The dust
which they had raised had scarcely settled, and the sound of their
horses' hoofs were yet to be heard, when I became imbued with a new
strength and hope, realizing that there was yet some hope for my

I knew that it would be safe enough to follow along the road in the wake
of that troop of cavalrymen; and the fact that there were no infantry
pickets further along this road, was evident from the fact of the
cavalry being out on this scout.

I stepped out into the road with renewed energy, glad enough to be
moving to any place that would take me from the sight and smell of such

I don't know how long I walked. I remember very well that I found it
necessary to stop every little while to rest. I was becoming so weak
that I could scarcely hold my head up, and every time I'd sit down I'd
involuntarily drop helplessly, and soon find myself going off to sleep
on the roadside, being lulled to obliviousness by the queer, unearthly
sounds from the wood--the effect being pretty much the same that I once
experienced when taking laughing gas in a dentist's shop.

I roused myself often, each step with a greater effort, and had the
daylight been delayed but a little longer I should have been obliged to
succumb. The appearance of the gray dawn in the East seemed to me as a
sign or token of encouragement, and from its appearance I took fresh
courage and kept moving, as if impelled by an unseen power "on to

It is said the darkest part of the night is just before the dawn; so I
have always found it; and it has been my observation, too, that the
safest time to scout is just before or at dawn; then all animal nature
seem to sleep or, at least, be off their guard, thinking, perhaps,
everybody else like themselves are sleepy.

This was one reason why I was able to travel some distance after the
Rebel cavalrymen in such apparent safety. I knew that, if they returned
along this road, I should be able to discover their approach a long time
before they could get up to me, and could get out of the way. I judged
rightly, too, that they would be the only trouble I should have to
overcome, as it was evidently their assignment to look after that
particular section.

Why didn't I get ahead of them? I didn't have a horse, and it was safer
to follow them than have them follow me. They would ask at every house
if a stranger had passed. In this way they had caught up to me once. Now
they will be told at each house ahead of me that no one had been along
that way.

That's the way I was arguing the question in my own mind that morning. I
moved along rather hopefully, not intending under any circumstances to
approach a house or to allow myself to be seen by any one.

But I was tired, weak and so hungry; and the best resolutions can be
broken down by the pleasant odor of good cookery from a farmhouse,
especially when it's wafted out to a poor hungry devil on the road.

I had discovered about sunrise some blue wood-smoke curling up over the
tops of a little growth of trees to the side of the road yet some
distance ahead. Knowing that I dare not approach from the road, I
crawled wearily over the fence, and rather reluctantly began my old
tactics of flanking the place and advancing in the rear of it. When I
got through the woods and came to the opening nearest the house, I found
myself almost behind it.

The house was larger than any that I had seen the previous evening, and
I gathered from the appearance of several little outbuildings, which I
judged were "quarters" for the negroes, that the place belonged to a
well-to-do Virginia slave-owner. There was no smoke coming from the
large house; it was from one of the little buildings that I supposed was
an out-kitchen. The proprietors, or white folks, were evidently still
asleep. An old aunty was prowling about the wood-yard gathering up

The pangs of hunger and thirst were driving me pretty nearly wild, and,
being so dreadfully weak and exhausted, I felt that I _must_ have
something to eat; that only a cup of coffee would do me for the rest of
the day. But I _must_ have something to eat to keep me alive. Desperate,
and believing it to be the safest time to take the risk, I walked boldly
out from my hiding place straight up to the quarters, determined to
appeal to the old aunty, for a bite of something. She had gathered her
apron full of chips and had gone back into the kitchen with them, so
that I was able to follow her to the house unobserved, and was
flattering myself that I had succeeded so well when all at once two dogs
that I had not seen rushed savagely down the back yard toward me. I
raised my two arms in a frightened way as they rushed on me; the
foremost one sprang up, placing his feet on my breast and tried to reach
my face or throat, but only succeeded in inserting his teeth in the
fleshy part of the muscle of my left arm. As I had only the thin
covering of the shirt, he tore this in a distressingly painful manner. I
have the marks yet on that arm. The wound has been a painful one at many
times during these twenty-five years; but the Pension Office regulations
do not "compensate" for the bite of a _bloodhound_, so I have not
mentioned it outside my own family.

The old colored woman rushed out, followed by her old man, who grabbed
the dog by his hind legs and threw him over; the two other dogs,
attracted by the scent of the dead man on my shoes and trousers, could
scarcely be driven away from me.

The old woman kindly took me into the kitchen and washed the bloody arm,
and bound it up with a piece of turban which she tore off for the
purpose. Without asking any questions, I was given a cup of good black
coffee and some hoe-cakes, which I gulped down with a relish.

These poor, ignorant, black people knew instinctively that they were
succoring a friend, and at a very great risk to themselves; and to
relieve them of any fear for their own safety, should their conduct be
discovered, I told them the old, old story about being lost on the road,

The old man, who had been watching out of the doorway as I ate my
breakfast at the hearth, observed, knowingly:

"The master's folks isn't out of bed yet, but I specs dem sogers will
want dey hosses, so I'se gwine along to de barn to feed, Liza."

The hint was sufficient, and to my hurried inquiry:

"Are there any cavalrymen at the house?"

"Yes, 'deed; dahs a whole company sleepin' on de front poach over dar."

"How long have they been here?" said I, putting down my cup.

"Dey comes hyar most every night, and sleeps on dat poach tel they get
over breakfast."

That was sufficient. I had lost all pain in my arm; my hunger had been
satisfied with less than half a breakfast, and, hastily thanking the old
aunty, I made an excuse about not wanting them to know I was out of
camp, and left--the shortest cut for the woods.

I was up to my pursuers, and had left them asleep on the porch, awaiting
their breakfast. This would give me an hour's start ahead of them, and I
gathered renewed courage from the belief that they would _return_ from
that point.

As I have heretofore said, I am not a believer in Spiritualism, but I
have always felt convinced in my own mind that the dog was sent by a
higher power to prevent me going up to the house where were sleeping a
half a dozen or more Rebel cavalrymen.

I struggled along through the dreary, desolate, pine woods, skirting the
roads and avoiding houses, suffering with my wounded foot, wrist and
arm; fortunately the houses were not many, which allowed of my using the
road more freely. It was along about noon, I think, when I reached the
top of the hill at the old town of Falmouth, which overlooks
Fredericksburg and vicinity. Here was an obstruction in the shape of the
Rappahannock river, which had to be crossed by a ferry into
Fredericksburg. Of course, everybody who crossed there would be
scrutinized closely, so that their identity could be traced.

It may be asked, why did I not attempt to reach the Potomac from this
place at this time. I don't know exactly why, except, perhaps, that I
felt I was being impelled by some mysterious power to go to Richmond.

The Potomac was only about ten or twelve miles distant, but it was also
four or five miles in width, and the Rebels controlled all the means of
communication across to Maryland. Richmond was forty miles distant, and
a railroad ran there from Fredericksburg.

Luckily for my purpose, a drove of horses, being steered by an old
farmer and two colored men, made an appearance at the top of the hill
leading into Falmouth. Seeing my chance, I asked one of the drivers to
be allowed to ride an "empty" horse over the river. He consented, and in
this way I rode down the hill, and we crossed the Rappahannock and
entered Fredericksburg in August, 1861.

I had intended to stop at Fredericksburg and run the gauntlet of the
railway trains into Richmond, but I found myself so comfortable, seated
on the bare back of a horse, that I concluded to stay with the drove the
balance of the day, so we passed right through the town and on down the
main road to Richmond.

I felt reasonably safe from pursuit. Bloodhounds would not be able to
track me that night, as they most certainly would when my presence at
the colored shanty should become known.

The old uncle told me that the dog that bit me was a young bloodhound,
and that the proprietor of the house _kept a pack_, and I suspected that
the object of the officers in visiting him was to secure their use. But,
in getting on a horse and crossing the river, I had eluded their scent,
and felt safe enough from further danger in that direction. It was also
fortunate for me that I was further able to disguise myself, by
traveling the road in charge of a couple of colored men with a drove of
horses that were being sent to Richmond for the army.

That evening, without further adventure or trouble, except that I began
to suffer from my foot and arm, we reached an old-fashioned,
out-of-the-way stopping place, called Hanover Court House, where the
colored boys had been ordered to keep the horses over night.

They found entertainment in the quarters. I was received into the house
as a wounded refugee soldier _en route_ to Richmond, and treated in
first-class shape by the old landlord and his kind wife.

I had a new story for them that took real well.

I slept soundly in a nice bed between the clean, white sheets. I am sure
that I felt devoutly thankful for the home-like, pleasant change in my
surroundings from the two preceding nights.

The agreeable change in my surroundings that remains most grateful in my
memory is, that the kind-hearted and motherly old landlady, seeing my
wounded, bleeding arm, which had soiled the whole side of my already
pretty dirty shirt, at once waddled off to fathom from the depths of
some bureau drawer a nice, clean, white shirt, and with it across her
arm she marched back to my room almost out of breath, because she was so
stout, saying:

"My dear, you must take off that shirt, which seems to be soiled by your
wound; here is some fresh linen that you will please use."

The old gentleman, who though not so rotund as his wife was fully as
kind, approvingly observed: "Why, of course, mother, that's right;"
addressing me courteously, "Is there anything else we can do to make you
comfortable, sir?"

Thanking them profusely and perhaps tearfully, I asked only for a little
warm water, before retiring, that I might bathe and dress my wounded
arm--to which request the old lady called out:

"Chloe, have some warm water brought here at once--you hyar?" She
"hyard." While I was yet telling these dear old people some of the most
bare-faced lies about myself being a wounded refugee from Maryland,
etc., Chloe waddled into the room with a bowl of water in one hand and a
couple of towels across her black arm.

Her appearance interrupted for the time the flow of yarns, as both the
old gentleman and lady excused themselves, first directing "Aunty" to
help the "young gentleman to dress his wound."

Aunty stood up in front of me with both sleeves rolled up, as if ready
for a fight, when I should strip off the old shirt, which was sticking
closer than a brother to the sore spots. But Aunty very kindly helped me
as tenderly as she could, and when my torn, inflamed arm was exposed she
could not refrain from uttering a cry of sympathy, and wanted at once to
go down to bring up the "Missus" to see it. I would not allow her to do
that, and, with her aid, I washed as well as I could, and was about to
pull the shirt on over it, when, without asking my consent, old Aunty
marched out of the room, saying: "Ise gwine get Missus put sothin on dat
arm," and disappeared. Very soon the old lady embarrassed me by walking
boldly into the room; and, after a few motherly words of sympathy, she
took hold of me, as if I were a half-naked baby, and turned me around
for her inspection. Then giving a few words of direction to "Aunty" to
bring certain articles, she took motherly control of me, and for the
time I became as a child in her hands, and was put to bed after my
wound had been carefully dressed and wrapped by her own kind hands.

The old gentleman made an appearance, too, with some medicine for the
inner man, which I swallowed like an obedient child.

We had, previously, had some supper. I was, of course, profoundly
thankful for their kind attention, but was at last ordered, in the same
kindly way: "Don't talk another bit, but go to sleep!" and I did not
require much inducement to court the drowsy goddess. That night no
unpleasant dreams disturbed my heavy slumber. The ghost of the horrible,
unburied soldier, on which I had stumbled the previous night, did not
haunt me. I was dead to everything for the time, and slept as soundly as
a child.

The sun was shining brightly through the windows of my bedroom, on a
beautiful Sunday morning, in August, 1861, when I was roused from this
refreshing slumber by the voice of the old "aunty"--

"Missus says you'd better have some toast and egg, and a cup of coffee,
den you can sleep some moah."

There is nothing that will rouse a sleeper so quick as the invitation to
breakfast, especially if the sleeper has not been over-fed and
surfeited. Toast and egg is a weakness with me even now, and when I
heard the delectable words, "toast, egg, and coffee," I was wide-awake
in an instant. But when I attempted to turn myself, so that I could see
who had spoken these magic words that suggested such an agreeable aroma,
I found that I was so sore and so much bruised that the attempt to move
started through my whole frame twitches of sharp pain. "Aunty," seeing
that I was awake, came closer to my bed, and, in a kindly way, asked:

"How is you dis mornin'?"

In attempting again to move, I was forced to cry out with the pain which
the exertion caused. Aunty bade me, "Jis you lie dar; I'll fetch your
coffee!" And walked out leaving me alone; and for the few moments all my
distress and trouble came upon me like a sudden cloud, as I realized
upon waking that I was yet in the enemy's country, far enough from home,
while between us was almost the insurmountable obstacle of the Rebel
Army. I saw, too, that the heretofore unexpected danger of a spell of
serious sickness was now liable to be added to my other troubles and
difficulties. These gloomy forebodings were dispelled for the moment by
a gentle knock at my door and the kindly appearance of the mother of the
house, upon my invitation to come in, who, with a pleasant
"Good-morning," walked up to my bed and placed her hand upon my
forehead. Without asking a question, she said:

"Why, you are ever so much better than I expected to find you this

This was pleasant news for me to be sure, as I had not speculated at all
on being sick. When with a few more kind words she left me, I heard the
landlord say:

"Mother, don't be in a hurry; wait till I give the young gentleman his
medicine, before he takes breakfast." When he came into my room a moment
later--I was trying to bathe my face--with a cheery "Good-morning, sir;
I hope you rested well, sir; just take this if you please, sir;" and I
had to obey; "We will send over after the doctor to come and attend you,

I became alarmed at this, fearing that their kindly feeling toward the
distressed refugee would cause them to introduce to me some Confederate
surgeon from the neighborhood, who might make a correct "diagnosis" of
my case and expose me. I begged that he would not put himself to that
trouble; that I should go right into Richmond and would soon be among
plenty of friends who would take care of me, etc. He rather insisted
that it was their privilege to care for me, and that they could not
consent to my undertaking to travel to Richmond until I had sufficiently
recuperated. I thanked him; but am afraid that I did not convince the
old gentleman that it was not necessary. He left me with the
understanding that it should be "As mother says about it."

But the circumstances rather dissipated my appetite for the breakfast,
as I saw at once that it would be necessary for me to get away from them
as soon as possible. A new trouble seemed to rise from the kind
attention of this old couple. While I feared capture and detection on my
account, I actually think that I dreaded most of all lest an exposure
should happen while I was enjoying their hospitality. I could not think
of having to confront these kind people, if I should be brought to bay,
so it was that I made up my mind that I must leave their house the very
first opportunity. I had not been questioned in the least particular
except as to my comfort and health. These people were too cultured and
refined to pry into my history before granting any aid; it was enough
for them that I had stated that I was a Maryland refugee, who had been
wounded and was _en route_ to Richmond to find friends. They saw my
crippled condition, and they gave me all the aid and comfort that was in
their power.

Seeing an old-fashioned inkstand and quill on a small table in my room,
I had the aunty draw it up close to my bed, from which I was to eat my
breakfast. The drawer contained a supply of paper, and, taking advantage
of the first favorable opportunity, I wrote, when alone, the form of a
pass, such as I had seen in general use, and signed it in an official
way with the name of a well-known Chief-of-Staff.

There was unfortunately no red ink with which I could further add to its
apparent official character. Looking about the room in the hope of
finding some, my eyes rested on the bandage on my still bleeding arm. In
another moment the pen was cleaned of all the black ink stains. I gently
dipped it into my own bandaged wound and drew enough blood on the pen to
write across the face of the pass, in back-hand writing (to distinguish
it from the other) the almost cabalistic words in those days:
_Approved_, and signed it in red with my blood.

The red ink "took beautifully."

At the next visit of my host I took great pleasure in exhibiting to him
my "papers." He glanced at it approvingly, and no doubt the red ink
indorsement was sufficient. Not deigning to examine farther, he said: "I
don't want to question the character of a gentleman in my own house,
sir, especially the word of a soldier, by Gad, sir"--he laid it aside,
as of no consequence. I had told the same old story of the refugee so
often, had the character down so fine, that I almost believed it myself.
Of course, there were variations to suit the different circumstances,
but it was nearly always a Maryland boy far away from home. I could not
possibly disguise my voice and dialect sufficiently to pass in the South
for a Southerner. I had been living in the South long enough to have
learned the peculiarity of its people, and knew very well that I could
not overcome the difficulty. So it was necessary, even at great risk to
myself sometimes, to continue to play the dual character of a Maryland
refugee and an English boy from Texas. There were a great many young
people constantly coming over the line from Maryland into the South, and
most of these, after a few days "outing," corresponded very well with my
appearance or condition in this, that they were "busted," having
sacrificed all but their lives for the cause, and were now hankering for
a chance to offer that on the Southern altar. This immigration helped to
further my projects.

I had told my kind host and hostess a tearful story of my sufferings;
how my coat, and all the money that was in the pockets had been stolen
while I was sick, and that I was now going to Richmond to replenish my
wardrobe, just as soon as I could meet some friends, or hear from my
home. This had the desired effect. Of course, I did not beg, neither did
my kind friends see it in that light; but, all the same, when the good
people attended their country church that Sunday they somehow interested
the whole congregation, _and a collection was lifted in a Virginia
church for the benefit of a Yankee Spy_. When they returned from church
they brought with them several neighbors to dinner, and soon after I was
waited upon by the old gentleman and his pastor, who, in the most
considerate manner possible, presented me with an envelope, which he
said: "Would be of service in making me comfortable until I met with

Now the Good Spirit of my Sainted Mother in heaven, who had so often
taken care of her wondering boy, certainly sent that earthly angel to me
again, while I was alone in the midst of enemies on the Sunday. There
was nothing that I so much needed as money, as, with it, I could hope to
find means of escaping by some other route back to my home, and I would
_stay_ there, too. I was hardly allowed to thank the kind friends. After
some further pleasant talk, which they indulged in to make me feel easy,
I accepted their offer to the Rebel cause with the understanding that I
should be able some day to repay it.

"Oh, no; some of our lady friends were anxious for an opportunity to
show their devotion to the cause, and were pleased to be able to aid,
above all things, a worthy refugee who is so far from home and sick."

Under the circumstances, what else could I do but take this advantage
of the good people? With me it was a question of life and death; but I
resolved in my heart, that if the time should ever come when our army
entered that country, I should be on hand to plead for the protection of
those who had unknowingly befriended a foe.

I began preparations to get away as soon as possible, by telling my kind
people that it was necessary that I should "report" at once to certain
officers in Richmond. I secured their consent to leave their care before
I was able to travel.

It was agreed that I should be allowed to depart at once for Richmond,
and, with as much feeling as if I were an only son being torn away from
home to go to the war, I bade them all a hearty, thankful good-by, and
walked slowly to the railroad station, which was some distance off, to
get an evening train from Fredericksburg to Richmond.

The train came along in due time, and I got aboard with difficulty,
because I was quite stiff and weak. Taking the first seat, in the rear
of the car, I noticed at once, while being waited upon by the conductor,
that there were in the forward part of the same car several officers in
the Confederate gray uniform. This wasn't very reassuring, and rather
unsettled my nerves, because, you see, I had, from my past few days'
experience, imbibed a holy terror of anything in gray clothes. It was a
Sunday, and, as they were probably off on a leave, they were engaged in
their own pleasures and were not likely to disturb me. The conductor
informed me, when I offered to pay my fare to Richmond, that he was
required to report all soldiers traveling to a certain guard, and asked
my name and regiment.

I assured him that I had a pass, and with that he walked off, and, in
looking it up, I discovered that my blood approval had almost faded out.

I watched him, expecting that he would go straight to the Confederate
officers; but he didn't, and I was greatly relieved to see him go out of
the car, slam the door behind him, and disappear in the next car ahead.
I began to wish that I had remained at the Hanover a little longer, and
saw at once that the possession of the money had probably gotten me into
a bad scrape, because without it I should have walked, even though every
step was a pain. I reasoned correctly enough, however, that I should be
safer in Richmond, in the midst of the crowded city, than alone among
country people, who would soon become curious about my history, and I
prayed that I might be allowed to pass in safety this new and unexpected
danger of being reported by the conductor on arrival at Richmond.

While I was thinking over these uncomfortable prospects, the train was
dashing along toward Richmond--only a short distance now--there was a
whistle, and while the train perceptibly slackened I had time to decide
that I better get off, and before the cars had stopped altogether I had
slipped quietly out of the door and dropped myself down on the ties. I
stood on the side of the track long enough to see a solitary passenger
get aboard; the conductor jumped on, and the engine puffed off, leaving
me standing alone on the track. I was again free--for how long I could
not tell.

Still determined to take Richmond, I started on, wearily, to follow the
train along the track, but being so weak and sore my progress was
necessarily quite slow, but I persevered, and along about the time the
evening lamps were being lit I walked into the outskirts of Richmond.



Feeling my way along, to avoid guards that might be stationed in the
principal roads entering the city, I was soon on Main street, Richmond,
and I walked with an assumed familiarity in search of a boarding-house.
Finding a place that I thought would suit me, located on the south side
of Main street, not far from the market, kept by a widow lady, I applied
for lodging, proffering her the cash in advance. She accepted the cash
and me without question, and being tired, weak and anxious to get to
rest, I was at once shown to a room, and in a very few moments later I
was in bed, and, with a feeling of security, was soon sound enough
asleep in the Rebel Capital.

There were two beds in our room, as in most other cheap boarding-houses,
and waking early in the morning, I was surprised to see on the chair
alongside of one of them, the too familiar gray uniform of a Confederate
officer. I didn't take breakfast with the Madame, but hurried out into
the street, and, after a hasty meal in a restaurant, I hunted up a Jew
clothing shop on the Main street, where I invested a good deal of the
church contribution in a snug suit of clothes, a pair of soft gaiters
for my sore feet, a new hat, etc.

The next step was to a barber's, where I had most of my hair taken off,
and in their bath-room I donned my new clothes, and I flatter myself I
walked out of that barber shop so completely disguised that my recent
friends and enemies would not have known me. I was feeling just good
enough to have called on Jeff Davis that morning, and believing that, as
my visit would be short, it was well enough to have a good time, I
walked rather proudly up to a certain hotel office and astonished the
young clerk by registering myself O. K. Wilmore, Baltimore, Maryland. I
notified an attaché of the hotel that I had but recently arrived via the
blockade, and desired a small room for a few days, until I could meet
with a lot more fellows who were coming over, you know, and was
courteously welcomed by the affable clerk. The room to which I was shown
overlooked the park, the Confederate Capitol building, the Governor's
mansion, etc., and there I remained an unwilling guest (after that day)
for three long, lonesome weeks, _sick in bed_.

Maybe it was a fortunate circumstance for me that I was thus taken off
my feet, as it served to effectually hide or exclude me from sight, and
frustrated any efforts that might have been put forward for my capture.
In the meantime the sensation that was, perhaps, caused by my escape had
died out and I had been forgotten.

As it was, that night I was taken sick and the next morning I was unable
to get out of my bed. The trouble was principally dysentery, such as was
epidemic in the Rebel Army at Manassas, and had probably been caused by
the bad water, or change of water, greatly aggravated in my case by the
nights of terror I had undergone. While in my weak condition, perhaps, I
had overloaded my suffering stomach too much the first day of my arrival
in Richmond. I can testify here to the fact that there was plenty to eat
in Richmond in 1861, and it was not so very much more expensive at that
time than in Washington.

The hotel people of Richmond were a little dubious about refugee
boarders from Baltimore, as I soon learned, and were inclined to be
rather disposed to refer their sick guest to a hospital. Fortunately, I
was able to prevent this by a prompt advance of a week's boarding from
my church-collection fund, which fully satisfied the Virginia Yankee
hotel-keeper. It happened, too, that there was some change due me from
the amount I had passed to him, which, in the princely style I had
assumed, I graciously told him to keep for a credit on the next week's
account. I still had some money left, but not enough to pay another
week's expenses at that hotel, but it was best to keep up a good

The colored boy's name who served me with meals and who attended to all
my sick wants, I regret, I have forgotten. He was indeed a good
friend, and when my week was out and I was still so weak that it was
impossible for me to move, he continued to serve me with three light
meals a day in a room where I had been moved by him, which was located
in a block of buildings which served as an annex to the crowded hotel.


The hotel clerks, or the people at the office, supposed when I left the
room that I had gone from the hotel; at least, they did not give me any
trouble, and I have always thought my presence in that room was
overlooked or forgotten by them in the great rush of their business of
those days. This colored boy was one of the regular waiters employed at
the hotel, who had for the week or ten days previous to my change served
me regularly, and had told me several times, in explanation or in
self-justification, that he was told to serve me every day, and he was
going to do it until he was told to stop. Though I had not dared to
breath to the poor colored boy even a whisper of my true character, yet
it was instinctively understood between us that I was a Yankee. I knew
this from his manner, and I could see in every move he made that he was
so carrying on his little game to aid me that he might not be detected
in it, yet it was so shrewdly managed that, if he had been picked up, he
would have readily cleared himself of all collusion by merely referring
to his orders.

In talking with him one day, he remarked, with a significant grin: "You
always say _down_ here, and that your going to go up home; I thought you
was going to stay in Dixie?" I took the ignorant boy's teachings
thankfully, and was more careful in the use of the words after that

I might fill a chapter with interesting stories of Richmond life which
the boy gave me that were a pleasant relief for me, and served to while
away, in my solitary sick bed, my first weeks in Richmond.

I took the opportunity the leisure afforded me of putting in operation a
plan for secretly attempting to communicate with my friends in the
North. I realized that I should not be able soon to undertake any
adventuresome travels, and I could not reach home by any easy stages.

While yet a school boy I had practiced with my playmates a simple system
of a cipher; with this, which was the easiest form that I then knew for
a basis, I worked out in the form of a letter, that I could pass
through to Baltimore on the blockade runners, a secret communication
reciting my discoveries at Manassas, etc.

It is an easy matter to arrange a system of cipher communication between
any two persons, which will be readily and perfectly understood by them
alone, or only by those who have been furnished with a key. In my
particular circumstances, however, it was necessary that my letter
should be a blind cipher, and so worded as not to excite suspicion, or
distrust, and it must, besides, carry the key along with it, concealed
of course, as I had not had an opportunity of making a preconcerted
arrangement. I had intended to propose this to General Banks at the
interview at Harper's Ferry, which, unluckily, did not take place, as I
have explained.

The letter that was sent through the blockade is given herewith, as
_copied from the original_, and I shall be glad to have the reader look
for the secret information it contains before referring to the key,
which follows:

                               "CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA,
                                          POWHATTAN HOTEL,
                        RICHMOND, VA., August, - - - - - 1861.

    "_My Dear Father:_
    - - - . - -

     "For three weeks I've been quite sick, but am all-right now,
     and hope, through the kind attention of Southern friends of
     ours in army, to soon be out again. - - - I will be greatly
     obliged if you will arrange to have money sent without delay,
     to pay my bills here, which were incurred on account of this
     most unfortunate sickness. . - - I am satisfied it's impossible
     to secure from our Confederate Maryland friends any cash
     advance, because I know they are all rather short, (having
     exhausted in getting here about half their money before joining
     Army. Since I have been absent from my regiment here sick, I
     have consumed what balance I had along. We are not at-all
     discouraged, or demoralized; on the contrary, we look forward
     to great things under Beauregard, who is in front of
     Washington. - -

     "A greater portion of Marylanders stop at Blank's, where I am
     - - - the house is large and pleasantly situated on a street up on
     top of quite a hill, that overlooks the Railroad that runs out
     to Manassas Junction. We hope soon to march right on to
     Washington, and drive out the black abolition rascals, and will
     roll them back through Baltimore. Of course, all the Yankee
     papers give lying accounts, but official statements will give
     the proofs of our success. I wish some of the Northern
     Congressmen could see Ely or Covode, who are locked up secure
     in Libby prison; with them are a great lot, officers and
     prominent men who are looking quite disconsolate through their

     "I met, Sunday night, a couple of young students lately arrived
     from the Georgetown College, who expect to signalize their
     devotion to the South in some heroic way. From their talk would
     think the boys fresh from their dormitory dreams of war. I will
     write again soon; will be glad to hear from home often, please
     send money soon as possible same way as before, so that I can
     pay up."

The preparation of this letter had given me interesting employment while
I was confined to my sick room. Though it is quite crude, and would
hardly pass the scrutiny of the sharp censorship that was inaugurated
later on, but considering the times, and the fact that letters of
similar purport were being daily passed through the lines from Richmond
by Baltimore refugees, it was worded so as to perfectly blind those who
might see it, and it answered its purpose very well. I had calculated to
submit it openly to certain Richmond authorities, at a risk of being
picked up on their casual inspection. I had been careful to select a
blank, headed Richmond. No real names were given except Covode and Ely.
I knew very well Covode was not at Libby, but Ely was, and I could see
no other way of getting Covode's name in, except to mix it with Ely's
and assume ignorance, if corrected. This letter was not sent to my
father's name and address, of course, but was directed to a certain
telegraph operator who had been an office associate, and who was at the
time in the employ of the military telegraph at Annapolis, Md.

There was a little risk in using his address, but I knew that the fact
of the party named on the envelope being in the Government service would
not be detected in Richmond, and the understanding with regard to these
letters was, that for a consideration they had been taken into the
United States and mailed at Baltimore. An additional reason for sending
it to this telegraph friend was, that he would be sure to discover the
key to the cipher, and would then translate and properly deliver it. If
the reader will look at an apparent flourish under the words, "My dear
Father," as if underscored, he will observe three little dashes like
this, - - - and a little further on a careless looking scratch of the
pen, resembling . - - This forms the key to the simple cipher, and the
same characters are indifferently scattered about the sheet so as to
attract only the eye of an operator. The three little dashes represent
the Morse character for the figure five - - - (5), while the other
signal, a dot and two dashes, is a W, which, when placed alone, is
always understood to stand for word. Now the operator will be sure to
see that 5, W, while the chances are that no one else but an operator
would. The young friend to whom I had addressed this I knew would
understand, from the tone of the letter, that it was a blind, and he
would search for a different interpretation, and would soon discover the
5, W, which he would see referred to the fifth word. If the reader will
read _only_ every fifth word of this letter he will have the true

     _Translation._--Been all through Southern Army, again obliged to
     delay here account sickness Impossible Confederate advance are
     exhausted half army absent sick balance are demoralized look under
     front portion Blank's house situated on hill road Manassas to
     Washington black roll of papers official proofs wish Friend Covode
     secure them officers are there night students Georgetown signal
     South from the dormitory will be home soon as can.

The carefully studied phraseology of this crude letter, so that every
fifth word which I would insert should properly read both ways had given
me considerable trouble, because I was especially desirous that, as a
whole, it should at the first glance impress any person to whom I might
find necessary to submit it that it undoubtedly emanated from a Rebel
and a Maryland refugee. This thought once established in the minds of
those who I anticipated had the censorship of mail matter from
strangers, I was satisfied would result in forejudgement, or at least
serve the purpose of allaying any suspicion as to it being anything in
the nature of a secret communication to the enemy.

What to do with my letter was the next important consideration. While
yet so weak and thinned, as I was by the three weeks' illness and close
confinement, I realized that I must yet continue to live in some such a
quiet way as I had during my sickness. It would be folly for me to
attempt to travel through the armies in the rough manner that would be
necessary if I should try to reach our lines by the underground or by
running the blockade.

The colored boy who had served me so kindly and so faithfully in the
hotel annex, during these three weeks of sickness was partly taken into
my confidence. When I began to feel like getting out, and my appetite
had improved so as to make increased demands for his service to my room,
I suggested to him one day that I hadn't enough money left to pay the
bill at the office, and was especially sorry that I could not give him
something handsome for his kindness to me.

"Don't you never mind me, as I don't want no money." It was then that I
explained to him that I should like to be furnished a pencil and some
paper so that I might write home for some money, etc. The stationery was
at once supplied, and, as I had while lying on the cot bed during the
long August days blanked out my proposed letter, I proceeded to work my
cipher out on paper.

My faithful colored boy felt encouraged by my talk with him to offer me
some good advice:

"You don need to give no money to me, an if I was you I'd not give no
money to dem clerks, either. I'd jis tell de ole man, if I was you, and
he wont let dem take all you money, and you sick hyar."

This advice, offered in his most friendly way, was none the less
accepted thankfully, because it came from a slave boy and a waiter, in
his own words, as near as I can give it. I learned that the "ole man"
was the proprietor of the hotel, and from his further description I
gathered that I had not seen him since I had been in the house. The man
who had talked about sending me to a hospital, the first days of my
illness, was only a clerk, though I had assumed him to be the owner,
because he was quite old and had so much to say to me. He was easily
"placated," anyway, by the cash I had tendered him, in payment for a
week's board in advance. I have wondered often if I were indebted to his
pocketing that money, for the fact that my presence was so completely
overlooked. I would prefer, however, to give the colored boy the credit
for having quietly "done as he was tole, and axed no questions."

The "ole man" was an invalid at the time of which I am writing, being
confined to his room most of the day. I made some anxious inquiries
also about the "ole woman," and was glad to hear that she was "So big an
fat she doan go roun much."

I was solicitous about the proprietor and his wife, because, you know, a
great deal depended upon how he was going to jump after he had found out
that I had been in the house two weeks, apparently without the knowledge
of the office, and certainly without having paid any board for the time.

One nice morning, while feeling pretty fair and bright, I decided to
make the break, knowing that I had to do something soon. I gave my
letter to the boy to deliver to the "ole man," first, for his
information as to the prospects of his getting paid, and, secondly,
asking his advice as to the best means to have it sent North. You will
observe the apparent burden of my letter is for a remittance of money,
and, in the second place, I wanted to get it suitably endorsed or vised
by some one well known in Richmond, so that I would not have to show up
personally in it.

With a good deal of anxiety and heartache I waited in my back room for
the boy's return, which would bring me this verdict. I dreaded being
suspected as an enemy in concealment more than to be sent out on the
streets of Richmond, though I was so poor that I should soon starve,
because too weak to attempt any kind of work. In anticipation of at
least the latter treatment, I had dressed myself up carefully in my new
suit of clothes, which I had bought the day before I took sick. They had
become ever so much too large for me. A severe dysentery can waste a
frail human frame considerably in three weeks. When I heard the
footsteps of two persons down the long corridors--they had no carpet on
that annex--my heart sank within me as they stopped before my door. In
another moment my trusted colored boy had thrown open the door; and, as
he stood aside to let the other person in, he said: "Dar he."

I felt sure for the moment that all was lost--that the boy had given me
away. When the "ole man" got up close enough I am sure he was struck by
my very pale face. I was trembling from the effect of the suspense and
tension to my nerves, and could scarcely hold my head up. The "ole man"
was not old at all, but a rather thin, benevolent-looking, middle-aged
gentleman; he was lame and had apparently been very sick himself; his
kindly manner reassured me in part, and when he bade me, "Lie right
down and keep perfectly composed; we will take care of you, my boy," I
did as he directed. I had to drop, and I turned my face into the pillow
and sobbed like a big baby for a moment or two, so overcome was I in my
weak condition by the breaking strain after and the reversal of feeling,
it was so entirely different from anything I had expected.

The "ole man" had a few words more of comfort, and, turning to the
colored boy, said, rather savagely:

"Sam, you damn black rascal, why didn't you tell me before that this
young man was sick?"

Sam began to explain by saying: "I done thought you know'd dat."

But the "ole man" stopped him abruptly, with: "Get out; go and bring
some brandy and water up here, quick!"

Sam was glad enough to get out; and when he came back, in a few minutes,
with a couple of glasses on a tray, he was grinning all over as his eye
caught mine, as much as to say, "I done tole you so."

The "ole man" administered the dose and, after a few more encouraging
words, got up to leave, first giving orders to Sam:

"See that you attend to this young man right after this, you ugly

Sam seemed to be immensely enjoying the "ole man's" abuse.

I was assured that I should be made easy until such time as I should
hear from my friends.

"Do you know Colonel Blank, of Baltimore?"

"No, I didn't, not by that name"--and I had to admit ignorance of quite
a number of others that he mentioned to me, saying that his house was a
sort of refugee headquarters; he would have some of the Maryland boys
look in and see me. I didn't like that part of the visit, but there was
no way now but to put a bold face on to anything that turned up. I felt
that I was so thinned out and pale, my hair closely cut, and otherwise
altered, especially by my new clothes, that I should not be recognized
by anybody who had recently seen me so ragged in the Rebel Army at

"In regard to your letter," he said, handing it back to me, "I will have
some one see you who understands about getting mail to Baltimore. I only
know that they do send them, and that answers come here to my house
almost every day."

In another moment I was again alone, and so overjoyed by the agreeable
turn affairs had taken--or by the dose of brandy and water--that I felt
almost able to dance a jig. I was free again; that is, I was not
burdened every moment by a fear that some one might drop in and discover
my presence and begin to ask questions about my past history.

Feeling so much relieved in mind, I could not resist the temptation to
go out of the room to have just one look at the sunshine outdoors. My
boy provided me with a stick for a cane, and, with his aid, I walked out
the long corridor and stepped boldly into the office. The first person I
met was the old clerk who had collected my first week's boarding.

"You have treated me very badly, sir."

I began to ask an explanation, really not knowing what he meant by
making it such a personal matter, when he interrupted me and hurriedly
walked off as he saw the "ole man," who was pointing me out to his wife
at the moment. I walked along without further interruption, except to
attract the attention of people whom we met by my weak, sickly
appearance, and, reaching the park, I sat down under the shadow of the
Virginia State House, which was then the Capitol of the Confederacy. In
one corner of the same grounds the Governor's mansion was pointed out,
then occupied by Governor Letcher, while below, or on the lower side of
the square, I was shown the building occupied by President Davis for an
executive office.

I was within sight of it all at last, and for two hours I sat there
taking everything in, only regretting that my legs wouldn't carry me
around more lively, so that I might investigate more closely.

When I stumbled back to my hotel I was met at the office by a young
clerk, who said he had been directed to introduce me to Colonel ----,
and would I be seated a moment.

I had a right to believe, of course, that I was to meet the Maryland
people of whom the proprietor had spoken, but I dreaded the interview
nevertheless. However, when I saw the Colonel was quite an ordinary
looking man, with a jolly, round face and pleasant manner, my fears
subsided, and I was able to feel easy in his presence. I was introduced
to several others as a Maryland boy who was unfortunately sick among
strangers, and I didn't have to "make up" for the character of a sick
youth. My appearance, probably, did have the effect of creating some
sympathy, which was kindly expressed to me. The Colonel said: "You have
a letter to send home I am told?"

"Yes, sir. I want to get some money very much. I don't want to go home,
but would like to send for some money."

"Ah! yes, of course; that can easily be fixed. All you have to do is to
put a United States stamp on your letter."

"But don't I have to pay something for the delivery?"

"Well, no; you don't have to; but, as it goes to a foreign country, you
know, we generally pay the messengers a little for the risk."

Thanking the Colonel, I took my letter out of the envelope and begged
that he would read it, so that the envelope would have the benefit of
his endorsement. He did not think that necessary at all, but I insisted
that he should learn of my affairs and my address, so that if anything
should happen to me some Maryland people would know who I was. That was
a good shot, and it took effect, too. He felt that I had given him my
entire confidence as a brother exile from home and in distress, and he
read my letter hastily--that is, he glanced at the address and the last
paragraph, wherein I had especially asked for money. No doubt he was
impressed with the truth of the statement I had made--that all Maryland
refugees were hard up. Sealing the letter in his presence, I handed it
to him with a tender of a fraction of the money which I had left, to pay
the "foreign postage."

"Oh no," he said. "I will not take your money for this; it's not
necessary. Where shall your answer be delivered?" This was something I
had not thought about, and for the moment I was embarrassed. I
remembered that I had referred to my regiment in my letter, and was
about to say that the letter could be sent there; then the thought
suddenly came over me, "What if I should be questioned on this
regiment?" I did not want any talk of this sort, because it would be
getting me into rather too close quarters. The Colonel, noticing my
hesitancy as these thoughts passed through my brain and no doubt
mistaking its true import, relieved me by saying:

"You had better go along over to Colonel Jones and be registered, if you
have not already done so."

I had not attended to this matter of registering my name and address
among the refugees from Baltimore, and, without knowing exactly what
would come of it, I consented to have it done at once, as he had
suggested. Pointing to a building on the opposite side of the square a
little below where St. Paul's Church is located, he said:

"That's Colonel J. B. Jones' office, and if you can go with me I will
introduce you to him, and you can have all your Maryland mail come to
his care."

I walked across the square on his arm, and was formally introduced to
Colonel Jones as a worthy Maryland refugee, sick and in distress. I am
giving the correct name here, because he became a well-known character
in Richmond during the war. He impressed me as an agreeable, rather
jolly, gray-haired gentleman of the old school, at the time. On the
rather tedious and slow walk for me over the square, my companion had
explained to me that Colonel Jones was himself a refugee, having been
fired out of Philadelphia, where, if I remember aright, he had been
printing a weekly paper which had been rather too outspoken in its
sympathy for the South, and, as a consequence, it was, perhaps,
violently suppressed. The Colonel informed me, as we walked along, that
President Davis had organized the temporary bureau for the registration
and general information of refugees and others who might, by the
necessities of war, be driven from their homes. It was also understood
that any persons desiring information in regard to Maryland refugees
should apply at this bureau. This was not exactly the sort of a place
that I had been hankering to register myself in, but I was in for it now
and had to go through with it. Colonel Jones gave me his courteous
attention for awhile, and apparently became interested in the little bit
of my "history" that I dealt out to him. It is likely that my sickly,
innocent-looking appearance had operated somewhat upon the generous
sympathies of Colonel Jones. He assured me in his most agreeable manner
that any time at all that I had a letter for my home to just drop it
into his postoffice, and he would see that it went out on the "First
Mail." This was quite satisfactory to myself and my companion, who had
placed the letter in the Colonel's hands. I happened to recall that I
had read a book over and over again, written by a J. B. Jones, that had
made a great impression upon my youthful mind, and I had worshiped the
name in consequence--the title of the book was "Wild Western Scenes."
The Colonel laughed heartily, and taking my hand gave me a second jolly
shake as he said: "He had met another of his boys--they were turning up
every place--wherever he had been some one who had read his book had
asked him that question."

I had accomplished one very important step--in this, that I had opened
communication with Washington from my location in Richmond.

There was danger that my letters _might_ fall into the wrong hands up
North; but, as the person who carried them must, for his own protection,
keep quiet, it was probable that no effort would be made to look after
their destruction, once they were safely placed in Uncle Sam's
postoffice somewhere. I was also liable to be picked up in Richmond
almost any day by those who had known me at Montgomery, Pensacola, or,
more recently, at Manassas, and in Beauregard's camp. Knowing that I
could not travel in the rough manner as indicated, I felt wonderfully
relieved to know that the letter just mailed would most surely go
through more speedily than I could expect to travel at my best, and it
contained in substance all that I could report by a personal trip, which
was in effect that:

_First_--The Confederate Army _could not advance_, because thirty per
cent. were sick, a great many absent on leave, and the rest as much
demoralized after their victory as by our defeat.

_Second_--That the official documents of the Rebel Surgeon-General,
addressed to Richmond, would be found under a certain house as
described, where it will be remembered that I had placed them.

_Third_--That signals were being made from the dormitory of Georgetown
College to Rebel outposts, or pickets who had been students at the

When this letter would reach my telegraph friend, he would, most
assuredly, find the key to the cipher and properly communicate with Mr.
Covode, and through him the information, and I hoped the papers I had
deposited would be recovered. I could not have done more than this
myself, and, feeling that it was enough for one day's work, I retraced
my steps to the top of the hill, on which the hotel was situated, and
finding my cot bed again I was glad enough to drop myself into it for a
rest without the formality of undressing.

Soon after Sam found me half asleep, when he came up to my room with
some supper; his face was covered all over with the happy grin, peculiar
to a colored boy, who has only this means of expressing his pleasure. If
he knew that I had made a successful explanation of myself, which had
relieved us both of the fear of detection, he was too cunning to express
himself in words. My Maryland Colonel, who had so kindly endorsed me to
the refugee bureau and franked my contraband mail matter to Washington,
came to see me in the room late in the evening, bringing with him
another refugee whom he introduced as Mr. Blank, a lawyer from Elkton,
Maryland. I have really forgotten his name, but remember distinctly that
he was from Elkton, from this circumstance. When I had subsequently
returned North, while traveling from Philadelphia to Baltimore one day,
I heard the name Elkton called out by the trainman, as we stopped at a
country station. I rushed out on the platform on hearing the words and,
while the train stopped, inquired of the agent and expressman about this
gentleman. They both at once assured me: "Oh, yes; he's a great Rebel,
and had to leave town."

The train began to move off, as I was hurriedly telling them about my
meeting him in Richmond, and the agent became quite interested,
following the train along side as long as he could, to get some
information of him for his friends, who were living in the town. I heard
from them afterward, and, as this Elkton lawyer and I became associated
somewhat intimately for a month or two in Rebeldom, I have mentioned
this circumstance by way of an introduction, and so that we will know
him hereafter as "Elkton."

The Colonel, I learned, had been a store-keeper in one of the "lower
counties," and the twain had crossed the broad Potomac together from
Maryland to Virginia one night, and had only been in Richmond a month or
so. They were, of course, anxious to meet all the other refugees they
could hear of, and so it came about that I made their acquaintance.
Luckily for me, they were both from a section of Maryland distant from
that which I represented, and neither of them for a moment doubted my
"Loyalty," but, on the other hand, both of these gentlemen seemed to
think it a part of their duty to take care of me; and I take this
opportunity to say to Elkton, or any of his family who may read this,
that his kindness to me has always been appreciated--_but_, I must not
anticipate the story--I was invited to share a bed or cot in the same
room these two gentlemen occupied. Their room was located like the one
to which I had first been assigned--the windows overlooking the park. I
could from my room see all who entered the Capitol building, also had an
unobstructed view of President Davis' office, as well as that of other
prominent officials. This "prospect" was indeed gratifying to me, and,
as it may be assumed, much more satisfactory than anything I had yet
encountered in the way of "facilities." From my window outlook I ran no
risk of detection, as would be the case if I were on the streets all the
time. I was naturally most anxious to see President Davis, and to my
rather eager questions in regard to him--as I look at it now--I was told
by the Colonel that "The President lives right around on the next corner
on the next street. He walks through the grounds to his office every
day; I'll show him to you, the first chance."

That night I lay down early, and had scarcely gotten into sound slumber,
and was, perhaps, dreaming of home, when I was roused gently by the
Colonel to listen to "the serenade." On the street or pavement in front
of the hotel a large crowd had gathered, composed partly of a company of
men without uniforms, who had marched in the rear of a band. I was
informed that they were the nucleus of a company or regiment which was
to be composed entirely of Marylanders, who were expected to arrive in
Richmond by details of three and four at a time. The purpose of the
visit that night was a serenade to Marylanders, the band having been
furnished by kind sympathizers among the Richmond people, who took the
opportunity to compliment the refugees. Now, if I were to say that a
band had been known to serenade a Yankee Spy, the statement would have
been laughed at as ridiculous, yet the facts are that the serenade was
tendered in Richmond, in part at least, to a Yankee Spy, as the
collection was raised for the same in a Virginia church. There were but
three of us in the hotel that night--the Colonel, Elkton, and
myself--and it was the presence of this trio that had brought the band
under our window. They played in a highly effective style, considering
the peculiar surroundings, all their own Southern airs, among which was
"Maryland, my Maryland." This is a really beautiful air, which is
familiar to all who ever associated with any crowd of rebels who could
sing. The beautiful air--the significant words so full of pathos and
sympathy, especially under the existing circumstances and
surroundings--was rendered in a style so sweetly pathetic that the
effect produced on my memory that night will never be effaced. After the
band had played, all the crowd present, recognizing its appropriateness,
gave them with a hearty good will round after round of applause. Cries
were made for an encore, and, while the excitement it had created was
still high, the entire company of Maryland recruits burst forth into a
full chorus of their own good voices and sang, with even greater effect
through, this sweet old war song, "Maryland, my Maryland."

After they had left our hotel, it was understood the band, with the
crowd of followers and all the Marylanders in the city that had been
gathered up, were to call on Jeff Davis and give him a serenade of
"Maryland, my Maryland." I was not able to attend it, but I suppose the
records of the rebellion will show somewhere that Jeff Davis made a fine
speech of welcome to the persecuted exiles from Maryland--my Maryland.
My room-mates had both gotten out of the room at the beginning of the
uproar. I lay awake a long time waiting for their return that I might
hear the talk of the further serenade at the President's and Governor
Letcher's. They were both full of it, of course. Their conversation that
night, if reported in shorthand by the Spy, who lay awake an interested
listener, would make an amusing chapter--read by the light of the
present day. I gathered one point from them that I had not thought of
before, which gave me some food for reflection. They both intended to
unite themselves to the Rebel Army, but each of them wanted to be
officers. If I remember aright, there was some "constitutional"
difficulty in the way of President Davis forming a Maryland
battalion--at least, my impression now is, that he could not issue
commissions, which was the duty of the Governor of Maryland, and it was
necessary that some sort of a "Governor" should help him out of the new
State-rights difficulty. They got over it in some way, however, as they
did other State sovereignty questions. Elkton subsequently became a
Lieutenant of the 3rd Battery of Maryland Artillery. I learned from
their talk that night that they both expected, as a matter of course,
that _I would_ join their Maryland battalion. With them, it seemed to
be only a question of time, or until I should be sufficiently recovered
from my illness. I imagined that I saw in this scheme of theirs a way
out of my difficulty to further serve the Union. Of course, when I
should be able to move about it would be necessary to do _something_;
that I could not stay at the hotel indefinitely without money was
certain, and it was also equally certain that I should not get any
money, even in answer to my letter.

I had expected to get back by using their underground system, as soon as
I would be able to travel by that line. But, as I had opened
communication, I realized the correctness of my theory--that I could
best serve the North by not _at once_ attempting to return, but by
remaining in Richmond, to watch and report the progress of events there.

One of the first walks I took after getting out of my room was to the
house of President Davis, which was, and is yet, beautifully located on
the top of the hill; indeed, it is almost on the edge of a precipice
that commands a view of the low country to the north.

The Colonel had not observed in my letter the reference to "my
regiment." Now that it had been sent off without his, or anybody but the
sick proprietor seeing it, I was glad to drop any reference to a
previous connection with the army at Manassas. My story was, in brief,
the same old thing, done over to suit the altered condition of things. I
had told the Colonel about coming through Manassas; that I had been
delayed there expecting to meet some of my Maryland friends, but was
taken sick and had come on to Richmond for them. That, and the letter,
and more especially my appearance, coupled with the greater inducement
that he saw a recruit for their Maryland battalion, was to them all
sufficient. No questions were asked by either him or Elkton; they were
satisfied themselves, and their cordial introduction of myself to their
other friends were enough to fix my status in Richmond for the time
being. I was kindly treated by all with whom I was brought in contact,
through the influence of my two newly-made friends. As I have stated,
the first visit was, by courtesy, made to the President's _House_. I did
not find it advisable to thrust myself on to Mr. Davis just then. The
next point of greater interest to me was Libby Prison, where were
confined a great number of the officers captured at Bull Run. I
learned, upon cautious inquiries, that Libby was situated at the other
end of the town, or about a mile distant from the hotel. This was quite
a long walk for me to undertake, but I was almost sickened with the
everlasting and eternal Rebel talk, which I had been forced to hear
every day and hour for so long, that I felt in my soul that the sight of
one true-blooded Union man would do my heart good, even though I saw him
through iron bars. At the first favorable opportunity, on finding myself
alone, I started out for a morning walk, leading in the direction of
Libby Prison. Once on Main street, I began to feel a little apprehensive
lest I should run against some one in the crowded throng who might
recognize me. There were a great many soldiers in gray moving about the
streets. It seemed, too, as if everybody I met was staring at me, and
probably they were--as an object of pity. I became more accustomed to
it, however, as I began to see that the interest being centered on me
was probably due to the fact that I had been sick, and showed it in my
appearance and walk. I felt more assured, too, when I saw, after awhile,
that no person seemed to care much after all who I was, after they had
once gratified their curiosity by a stare.

I wanted very much to gaze once more on a Union soldier, and one, too,
who had fought in a real battle against these howling, blowing Rebels,
even though he were defeated and was then a prisoner. I saw them, lots
of them, through eyes that were pretty watery, and with a heart
throbbing so hard with a fellow-feeling for them that I was almost
afraid that I should lose control of myself, and I turned away. Through
the barred windows of the prison I could see a room full of the boys in
their ragged but still beautiful blue, as compared with the gray of the
guard. They talked together in groups; some were laughing heartily, as
though they were having a fine time among themselves; others walked up
and down the floor with heads bowed and their arms behind them, as if in
deep study. Occasionally I would catch the eye of some one looking
through their bars at me; and, oh, dear, what wouldn't I have given at
that moment for the privilege of being one of them--of making myself
known with a shout. I felt that moment that it were far better to be a
real prisoner of war, even though confined to the dreary walls of Libby,
than to be as I was at the time, in truth or in anticipation, a
prisoner already condemned to execution. Though apparently at liberty, I
felt as Wordsworth writes, that I was not only

    "Homeless near a thousand homes."

But, also, that,

    "Near a thousand friends I pined and wanted friends."



It should be remembered that I am writing of Richmond, as I found it
during the beautiful autumn months of September, October and November,
1861. The same conditions did not prevail in the years that immediately
followed. It would no doubt have been impossible in 1864 to have
overcome so easily the obstacles I encountered in 1861-2.

One other important factor in my favor is, that, after the success of
Bull Run, the Southern people generally, and especially those about
Richmond and Manassas, were so enthused as it were by the recent success
that they became, for the time being, quite careless and were not
disposed to closely scrutinize strangers who happened to be among them.

I realized these facts at the time, and profited by it. I began to feel
so secure myself that I became quite careless about my own safety, and,
as I became stronger each day, I spent pretty much all of my time either
on one of the benches in the Capitol Square or leisurely walking over
the streets of the city.

It became a daily custom with me to secure early a certain seat in the
Capitol grounds, from which I could look directly into the front windows
of the room which Jeff Davis occupied for his executive office. I had
selected this bench because, from its location, which, by the way, to be
exact, I will state was near the statue of Henry Clay, I could observe
every person that either went into or out of the large hall door down
stairs, which led to Mr. Davis' apartments. I was most anxious to get a
glimpse of Mr. Davis, whom I had last seen at the Exchange Hotel at
Montgomery during the bombardment of Fort Sumter. From my position in
the grounds I could not, of course, see into the room in which I knew
Mr. Davis was located, but I could imagine, from the number of people
who were constantly going and coming, that he must have been kept pretty
busy entertaining them. I did not find it advisable at that time to
thrust myself upon his attention. It was only after several long waits
and disappointments that I was one evening gratified to see my old
Montgomery friend come out of the hallway in company with the present
distinguished Senator from Texas, Hon. John H. Regan. They stood
together on the steps a few minutes engaged in conversation, when Mr.
Davis, with a courteous bow, turned to his carriage, which was waiting
at the curb, the door was shut with a bang, the driver turned his
horses, and in a moment more they had disappeared around the corner of
the square, as they drove up the hill in the direction of the
President's mansion.

It was generally understood by my refugee associates that, as soon as I
was sufficiently recuperated, I would unite with the other Maryland
refugees in the formation of a Confederate company of volunteers. They
had taken me in charge, as it were, and, as they had voluntarily
guaranteed my hotel expenses, I could do no less than to tacitly accept
the situation. Even at that early day there was considerable rivalry in
the matter of securing recruits for the newly-forming organizations of
the Rebel Army. One reason of this was that, in their army as it was in
ours, at the first of the war the commissions were generally given to
those persons who were most active in securing the necessary recruits to
fill out a company's quota. While these two Maryland gentlemen were
quite kind to me and had personally helped me through my sickness, I saw
that their object was not altogether disinterested. In vouching for my
expenses they were perfectly safe themselves, as it was understood that
I should secure the very best bounty that was being paid, and out of
this fund it was known I should be able to pay all my sick bills. So you
will see how it came about that, while my two guardians were busy most
of the day in skirmishing about for their recruits, as well as looking
out for their own prospects for commissions, I was indulged in every
thing that they could at all assist me in, and was in general terms
given the "Freedom of the City."

It became a favorite walk with me on pleasant afternoons to wander out
to the beautiful Hollywood Cemetery, one of the most lovely spots in all
Virginia. Hollywood has been so fully described, even before and after
the war, that I need not attempt it here. With me Hollywood had a
peculiar fascination during my first visit to Richmond, during that
fall of 1861--the "melancholy months of that year." I found myself out
there frequently, nearly always seeking out the one resting place, which
was beautifully situated on the top of the hill, under a grove of large
forest trees, close by the tomb of ex-President Monroe. The view from
this point was superb. Directly underneath the hill, which overhung the
river like a precipice, were the great falls of the James river, the
water of which, coming from the Blue Mountains of Virginia, was
splashing over the thousands of immense rocks standing up from the bed
of the river, making a wildly-beautiful picture, extending for a mile or
two up and down the river. Right beneath the cemetery, but out of sight
of a rambler in the grounds, the railroad bed had been chiseled out of
the hill-side rocks. Trains could continually be heard rolling and
whistling along, which I knew went near my friends in a few hours at
Manassas and Fredericksburg. Near this, on the water's edge, were
located the immense Tredegar Iron Works, upon which the Confederate
Government depended almost entirely for their supply of manufactured
iron, and I believe they were also turning out at the time some large
cannon for their fortifications and ships. I remember that I was
impressed at the time, from overhearing a debate in the Confederate
Congress, that the loss or destruction of the Tredegar Works early in
the war would have been one of the most terrible blows that could have
been inflicted upon their cause, and I had embodied this statement in
one of my "dispatches."

One evening a brass band paraded the streets, gathering up quite a crowd
of followers. Always anxious to see everything that was going on, and a
lover of brass music, I "joined in" with the crowd and marched along
with the band. We halted in front of the largest hotel in Richmond at
that time--the Spottsword--since burned down--but then located on Main
street. On inquiring, I learned that the excitement was occasioned by
the recent arrival in Richmond of the Hon. John C. Breckinridge,
recently the Vice-President of the United States and Pro-Slavery
candidate for President. It will be remembered that there had been for
quite a long time considerable doubt or uncertainty as to which side of
the fence Mr. Breckinridge would eventually jump. He had remained in
Washington City up to a very short time previous to his arrival in
Richmond. One of the facts brought out during his speech that night, in
answer to the serenade, was, that he was still a member of the United
States Senate, he having so arranged it that his resignation would not
take effect until he was safe inside of the Confederacy. I remember this
portion of his talk very well, because at the time it impressed me as
being very mean for a man of his standing, who had been so highly
honored and trusted by his Government, to pretend so long to be neutral,
yet knowing all the time in his heart of the purpose to gather
information and then desert and betray his Government. I felt in my
heart then that the numerous Southern gentlemen who held official
positions and violated their oaths that they might betray their
Governments, were cowardly spies whose methods were to be execrated, and
anything I could do to frustrate them would be honorable in comparison
with their service.

Another point of interest is the "old stone house," which is situated on
Main street within a square of the Libby Warehouses. This old stone
building, with the curled oak shingles on the roof, was General
Washington's headquarters.

We will pass the Colonial and Indian periods, the wars of 1776, 1812,
1846-9 with this one sentence, and hasten up the Main street about a
mile to headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the war of 1861-65.

From the windows of my room I had a close view of the City Hall building
directly opposite, which fronted on Broad street.

One morning I observed an unusual excitement on the street in front of
the City Hall. They were apparently preparing for what we would have
thought up North was to be a bonfire. Of course I became an interested
looker-on, but was almost afraid to ask any questions lest I should hear
some bad news. I feared that the Rebels were about to celebrate some
victory over our armies, when I saw them pile in the middle of the
street a great heap of kindling wood.

The gray-headed man who was then the Mayor of the City was apparently
overseeing these preparations.

I had been in the habit of sleeping late, and while all this was going
on outside I was alternately dressing myself and running to the window
to watch the proceedings.

Without waiting for breakfast, I went out on to the street to
investigate. The first person I questioned happened to be the hotel
proprietor, who said, laughingly:

"Oh, they are just burning the gamblers' stuff that the police captured
on the last raid."

It seemed that Richmond had, and has yet, a law that compels, or at
least authorizes, their Judge of Police Court to destroy by public fire
in the open street any material or paraphernalia which has been used, or
intended to be used, for gambling purposes.

The Mayor of Richmond in 1861 was a Mr. Mayo. He was certainly an
efficient official, as some of the Maryland refugees will bear

Extra Billy Smith, who I think had been a Governor of Virginia, was one
evening put into our room to sleep, the hotel being quite crowded, it
being the occasion of some Virginia State gathering. He was full of talk
and kept our crowd aroused and interested until late in the night.

He was living, I believe, somewhere in the neighborhood of where the
armies were confronting each other.

One of his stories, which interested me more than anything else,
referred to the death of the brother of the Secretary of War, Colonel
Cameron, of the 79th New York Regiment, at Bull Run.

The body of Colonel Cameron, it seems, had been found after the battle
inside of the Rebel lines.

The news of his death having reached the Secretary of War--the Hon.
Simon Cameron--he was, of course, very anxious to have the remains sent
back into the Union line for proper burial in his own State.

At that time there was a serious question about the recognition in any
official form of the Confederate States of America. It was necessary
that the Secretary of War should address a request in some form to an
officer in the Confederate Army, requesting the "courtesy" of burying
the remains of his brother at home. With Extra Billy Smith it was a
question of "curtesy" to the Confederates, and he related with great
gusto the amusement the Secretary of War's request for his dead
brother's body caused in the Confederate officers' quarters, because it
was addressed--"To whom it may concern." Mr. Cameron probably had
nothing to do with the formation of the note or request, and it is
likely that whoever did it for him was obliged to adopt this, simply
because they were ignorant of the names of the proper persons in the
Confederate Army to whom it should have been addressed. At any rate, it
was a very contemptible piece of work to reply to the Secretary of War
that: "The officers of the Confederate States of America did not know
that his note, addressed 'To whom it may concern,' concerned anybody but

I made a mental note of Extra Billy's share in this business, determined
that old Simon should have him marked.

I presume that about the same general condition of things existed in
Washington as in Richmond at the time I was there. There were
undoubtedly Rebel spies, and plenty of them, running around loose in
Washington, not only at that particular time, but constantly during the
years of war which immediately followed.

The Confederates had a very great advantage over us in this regard.
Washington City and the Departments were literally full of their
sympathizers, who were able to carry on their work of assisting to
destroy the Government, which was at the same time feeding them, as they
were able to keep up an easy and safe communication through the country

Some of these Department Rebel spies remained in the Union Government
service not only throughout the war, but even now, after twenty-five
years of Republican Administration, are yet in the government service.

In Richmond and the country adjacent it was entirely different. If there
were any sympathizers with the Union cause they were known and closely
watched, and this was not a troublesome task for the Confederates, as
there was not enough of it to occupy much of their attention. As a rule,
the colored people were friendly to us, but they were at that time all
poor, frightened, ignorant slaves, who dare not, under penalty of the
most severe whipping, indicate by the slightest sign that they had any
interest in a Union man.

The colored people in Richmond were forbidden to assemble in any number
together. If a half-dozen slaves would accidentally get together to talk
over the matters of life and liberty, that were so dear to them, it was
the duty of any white citizen to order them to disperse. It is not
generally known, and may be even doubted by the present generation of
Virginians, that there was such a law, but it is a fact. Colored men
were not permitted into the Capitol Square at certain times, being
excluded by the same municipal law that applied to stray dogs.

It is but just to say that this rule did not apply to Richmond alone,
but to Washington as well. In 1861, and previous to the war, the colored
boys and girls, as they were all called, even though they were
grandfather and mother, were not allowed to enter the Capitol or
President's grounds at Washington. They were only permitted to peer
through the bars of the great iron fence that then surrounded the

Every day, as regular as my meal-time occurred, I walked over into the
Capitol Square and took my accustomed seat on the bench which gave me
such good opportunities to see every person who entered President Jeff
Davis' office, as well as a chance to observe the crowd that attended
the proceedings in the Capitol building.

I did not give their Congress very much attention, because their
business seemed to be to talk only. I was interested only in the War
Office, and especially in President Davis.

The Virginia Legislature was also in session at the Capitol. We had a
room-mate with us for several days who was a member of the State
Legislature from somewhere in the mountain district. Our Maryland
refugee, friend Elkton, and this Virginia delegate, who was inclined to
doubt the power of the President as compared with that of the Governor
of Virginia, were continually discussing the question among themselves
at night after we had all gotten to bed, very much to the disgust of the
Colonel and myself.

Governor Letcher seemed at the time to be a "bigger man" in Richmond
than Jeff Davis. The Governor occupied an elegant mansion, which is
beautifully situated in one corner of the Capitol grounds, while
President Davis' "White House" was a large red brick building, situated
right on the street, a few squares back of the Capitol, with only a
small yard for grounds. It is a double house or a square building, with
a hall through the middle and a number of rooms on each side. It was
beautifully located in what may be called an independent position. I
mean by this that there were no other houses immediately adjoining, but
a yard or lot on each side as well as the rear. This lot or garden was
enclosed by a brick wall.

I frequently strolled up there to get a glimpse of the President, whom I
considered to be in my care and keeping, to a certain extent, so that I
learned to know his habits or hours of arriving and leaving the house.

I am not competent to make a pen portrait of Mr. Davis. He appeared to
me at Montgomery and at Richmond in 1861 as quite a pleasant, but
ordinary looking gentleman of middle age. He was usually dressed in dark
gray clothes of the frock coat or Prince Albert pattern. I think
ordinarily in a dark steel gray. His face was rather thin; the jaws
being firmly set gave him rather a dyspeptic appearance.

Jeff Davis has only one eye, which fact I learned quite early, and I
always endeavored in my intercourse with the President to keep on the
blind side of him. The one good eye was bright enough at that time, and
I almost felt from his sharp glances toward me that he suspected me.

One day it was reported that the President would review a regiment of
North Carolina cavalry which was then organizing and had been in camp at
the Fair Grounds. This was a long walk for me, but I had become
sufficiently strong to undertake almost anything--at least I so
felt--and as it would never do to miss this opportunity to see Jeff
Davis in a military capacity, I started out to the Fair Grounds early in
the day reaching there a couple of hours before the review was announced
to take place, and sat down under the shade of the fence to watch and
wait. The cavalrymen and their officers were busy cleaning up their
horses and dressing up for the occasion. One troop was drilling on a
distant part of the field.

At the proper time the entire regiment were mounted, and, after a good
deal of coaxing, and some cussing, they were formed into long lines,
which a full regiment of horse makes.

The Colonel of this regiment was the present Senator from North
Carolina, Hon. M. W. Ransom. I heard some of the lookers-on among the
crowd, in which I had placed myself, say: "The officer did not dare
attempt manoeuvering the cavalrymen, because they were all green
tar-heels from North Carolina, mounted on fresh horses, and if they
would get out of the line, in which they were placed with so much
difficulty, there would be such a circus, or hippodrome, in the Fair
Grounds that we would all have to climb the fence for safety."

We waited patiently and in crowds all the afternoon for the President to
come. It was until after his office hours, or about five o'clock P. M.,
that a half-dozen horsemen rode through the gate, and, amidst a blast
from a dozen buglers, the President and staff trotted up to the front.
To return the salute due the President we have pretty nearly all been
through an inspection, and know how it ought to be done, so I need not
attempt to describe it here.

President Davis and his staff, dressed in plain, citizens' clothes, rode
along the front of the line, his one sharp eye seeming to take in every
man from horses' hoofs to their caps. He turned slowly around to the
rear of the line, and rode close to where I happened to be standing at
the time, and to this day I remember the sudden, sharp glance as his eye
caught mine. Perhaps it was imagination or a guilty conscience that gave
me the feeling at the time, but, whatever it was, I felt a shock.

After the ordinary forms of a review had been gone through with, to the
accompaniment of a half a dozen or so bugles, the President and his
party dismounted and held an informal reception to the officers and the
crowd at the Colonel's headquarters.

I did not stay for this reception, because I was not, after that glance,
particularly anxious to see Jeff at close quarters. I started back to
the city on foot. I had gotten almost into town when I heard the
Presidential party coming along the road behind me. As they came up, I
stopped and was standing alone by the side of the road as President Jeff
Davis passed. He was then talking pleasantly with some one who was
riding along side of him. Seeing me, Mr. Davis turned away around,
probably so his good eye could get me in range, and gave me another
look, that pretty nearly convinced me that he had recognized in me the
Montgomery Spy.

I do not suppose he gave the subject another thought, if he had at all
entertained it, but I was made quite uncomfortable by the incident,
which served to put me on my guard. I was becoming too careless.

Indeed, I went to Libby so often that I began to get acquainted with a
couple of the Rebel guards, who had a little camp on some vacant lots on
the opposite side of the street.

I had noticed that a few enlisted men from among our prisoners had been
detailed by the Rebel officers to carry water and otherwise wait upon
or assist in preparing the rations for the Union prisoners. Of course
these men were always accompanied by a home guard, in gray clothes, who
carried a loaded gun.


I had formed a rather foolish notion that it would be a great
satisfaction to our prisoners if I could open communication with them,
or, at least, that it would gratify them to let them know they had a
friend who was at liberty in this city and anxious to serve them.

I gave this up after one trial. One day while loitering in that
neighborhood, as usual, I passed on the pavement the customary Rebel
guard accompanying a couple of fellows who carried a bucket of water in
each hand.

It was about the time that Norfolk was taken by the Union troops, and,
as it had been the only piece of good news that I had heard for so long,
I was feeling quite elated over even that much, so, when I saw this
procession of water-carriers coming up the street, I impulsively
concluded at once to convey that information to our poor fellows inside
the warehouse.

They had stopped and set down their buckets to rest. Picking out a big,
good-natured looking fellow in the blue clothes, who was one of the
water-carriers, to experiment on, I walked up to him; without stopping
at all or even looking at him, I whispered to him as I went past:
"Norfolk is taken."

Never turning my head, I was walking on hurriedly when the blamed fool
sang out after me so everybody could hear:


He didn't hear anything further from me. I had nothing more to say.
Luckily the guard was as stupid as the prisoner, and no notice was taken
of it.

Close by Libby Prison is Rockett's, or the landing point in the river
below the falls for all the shipping that comes up the James river from
the ocean. At these wharves ocean vessels drawing eighteen and twenty
feet landed their cargoes in the piping time of peace. It is one of the
busiest points about the city, but during the blockade, while the Union
troops occupied Fortress Monroe, and subsequently Norfolk and the lower
part of the James river, it was quite dull. There were, I believe, some
gun-boats being fitted out here, and a few smaller-sized vessels were
running irregularly up and down the James as far as they could go,
without encountering their own torpedoes, Union batteries, and
war-ships. My interest in this place was accidentally aroused (as was
Newton's discovery of gravitation by the fall of an apple from a tree)
by the reflection, while listlessly throwing sticks of wood out into the
stream, that they would naturally float into the Union lines in a few
hours--the river that goes on forever certainly reached the Union
gunboats, and I reasoned that if the water went to the Union gun-boats,
that, of course, I could do the same by simply going with the stream.

This was good logic if it was not good sense. I felt that the details
for such a voyage would be easily enough arranged. I gave the matter my
careful study, looking up all the maps that I could find bearing upon
this river, and cautiously questioning every old colored cook, or
seaman, that I could safely run against who had sailed up and down the
river and could give me any information. In this way I was able to learn
by detail pretty closely the location of the Rebel batteries along the
river, and also to ascertain as nearly as was possible just where I
would find a Union gun-boat or battery.

My experience on ships of war at Pensacola had not been exactly
pleasant, but I knew very well that, once at Fortress Monroe, I could be
quickly identified from Washington, and all would be safe enough.

I determined that, when I should return, it would be via the James river
and the bay. I preferred the risk of drowning or being blown up by
torpedoes in the river to another chase over the hills through the Rebel
lines of Manassas, and, as I was in no condition for that long walk that
night, I thought it would be more comfortable to have the water to float
me out of rebellion into the Union and under the old flag.

Governor Letcher, of Virginia, frequently entertained great crowds of
citizens at the elegant mansion provided by the State for her Governor.
It seemed to me that the people of Richmond gave more attention to their
Governor than to President Davis.

I could hear occasionally of some friction between the Confederate
Government and the State Government. Of course, they did not allow this
to become generally known, but there was certainly a good deal of this
feeling at Richmond, even as early as 1861, which increased in
bitterness as the years rolled on.

The State of Virginia had, before the war, a regularly organized
standing army of its own. Of course, there were but a few of these
"regular" troops, who were not at all like the militia of other States,
but a permanent establishment, with a separate uniform of their own, and
under the pay and control of the Governor of the State of Virginia.
These few Virginia troops were distinct from the Confederates. Their
principal duty seemed to be to act as a sort of "Pope's Guard" to
Governor Letcher.

There were always several of them on duty about the Capitol grounds in
the capacity of guards or police; and, as a consequence, there were
numerous conflicts between the Confederate officers and soldiers, who
were quite numerous in the city at that time, with this Governor's
Guard. I saw one altercation which resulted in a shooting and running
match--the Confederate winning over what he termed the "liveried
hireling" Virginia Yankee.

I had been giving the telegraph office a pretty wide berth during the
early part of my stay in Richmond, fearing that I should meet some one
who had known me at Manassas. I began, however, to stop at the large
glass windows of their Main street office, to stare in, like the rest of
the curious loungers who were attracted by the mysterious tickings of
the instruments, which were in sight from the street, the causes of
mysterious movements and sounds of which were at distant points.

In those days operators who could read by sound were not so numerous as
they are now, and it was never thought necessary to attempt to prevent
any person from hearing the sounds of the instruments. I was always very
careful to first scrutinize the faces of all the operators before any of
them should have an opportunity to first see me. As I have previously
stated, an expert operator can read by the sight of the moving armature,
or lever, which makes the sound. This was the way in which I had to
attempt to read those instruments from the pavement on the main street
of Richmond.

To make this plainer to those who are not familiar with the mysteries of
the telegraph, I will explain that the right and left motions, or
swingings, of the signal flags, which were used in the army, represent
exactly the same principle of reading characters by movement. This can
be done through even so small a space as that usually taken by a ticking
lever of a telegraph instrument, and its operation may be as light and
quick in its action as the hand of a watch.



My telegraph operations were interrupted for a while by a personal
incident, that occurred while I was still supposed to be on "sick
leave." One night I was in the barber shop of our hotel, getting myself
primped for an evening out with my Maryland boys. While lying back in
the barber's chair, all covered up with lather and towels, I was
startled to see through the glass, in my front, an apparition that had
as great an effect on my nerves for the time as the traditional story of
the devil looking over the shoulder of those who worship the
looking-glass too much.

I beheld, like a ghost, walking right up to my barber the superintendent
of the railway station at Manassas--the identical gentleman to whom I
had been sent by General Beauregard, and who would, of course, at once
recognize me.

My barber held his razor in his hand while he stopped to tell this
gentleman that "_his turn would be after me_."

It will not be possible for me to describe the sensations that I
experienced the day when startled by the apparition, which appeared as
though looking through a glass window in front of my chair. Standing
apparently in front of me was the one person, of all others, that I most
particularly desired to avoid meeting in such a place as the Capital of
Rebeldom at this time. Of course he must have learned, from the officers
at headquarters, of my attempted escape to Washington, via Fairfax and
Munson's Hill, and the subsequent chase through the woods the following
night, in common with all the rest of the officials with whom I had been
in contact about the telegraph offices at Manassas. He would, upon
learning of this attempt to get away, recall all that I had been doing
about the telegraph office during those few days; and, if careful
examination were made into my past history, I knew that they must
discover my true character.

While talking to my barber about his turn, this gentleman stood right
behind my chair, so close to me that his arm almost touched my bare
head, that was lying back on the cushions. He looked in the glass while
talking, stroking his face which certainly needed the attention of a
barber, as he had just come from the front. My face was entirely covered
with the soapy lather.

The barber stood with his razor suspended over my head as he talked to
the "customer." I am sure my face must have first turned as white as the
lather. When I spied this gentleman, if I had not been already lying
down, I am afraid that I should have suddenly collapsed, or have
attempted to run off. As it was, being so muffled up in towels, and so
completely disguised or masked by lather, and fastened, as it were in
the stocks, by mere fright, I was prevented from making an exhibition of
myself, and lay there for the time being as distressed as a wounded
soldier on an amputating bench under the hands of surgeons, and as
helpless as if under the influence of ether.

He was so much interested at the appearance of his own face, as he saw
it in the glass over my head, that he did not closely scrutinize me; in
fact, he could have only recognized me at that time, perhaps, by my eyes
and upper portion of the face. And while he stood there I half closed my
eyes, and purposely corrugated my brow. It was, of course, something of
a relief to my suppressed emotions when, after an admiring stare at
himself, he was sufficiently satisfied to go off and sit down among the
other persons who were waiting their turn. I breathed a little freer,
and gave such a great sigh of relief that the barber who was shaving me
looked down at me with something of an expression of wonder in his black
face. I quietly recovered myself, however, and began instinctively to
plan to get out of that shop as quietly and as quickly as possible.

It would not do to get out of the chair, which had concealed me so well,
until this dangerous apparition itself should be shrouded in a napkin
and laid out on the chair, so that he could not have a free view when I
should be ready to get out. He must not follow me in the chair I was
occupying, as that would probably put us face to face, as when I should
rise to give place to him. To prevent this, in an undertone I told the
barber that I had been suffering with a toothache, and if he would give
me a careful and slow shave and wash, that I would allow him double pay
for the greater time he would have to put on me. This was a successful
and cheap way of getting out of so great a pickle. I had the
satisfaction of seeing Mr. Superintendent invited into a chair a little
way over from where I was located, and he had no sooner got safely
tucked in than, I fear, I rather abruptly told my man: "That will do; I
will go now." The suddenness and celerity with which I crawled out of
the chair and hauled on my coat and sneaked out of the door must have
surprised that barber, and, if he had seen me get along the street and
around the corner into the hotel office, he would have been puzzled
still more. A glance at the hotel register showed not only the name of
the superintendent at Manassas, but also that of another well-known
railroad man, who had been about the station at Manassas nearly all the
time I was up there. Without asking any questions, I stalked straight to
my room, with a determination to gather up any valuables that had
accumulated during this sick time, and to at once put as much distance
as possible between myself and the ghosts that I had just encountered. I
did not have the remotest idea, at that time, as to _where_ I should go.
My only desire was to get away from Richmond and out of Virginia as
quickly as I possibly could.

I was homesick. There is nothing that will make a man or a boy so
awfully homesick, when away from home and realizing that you cannot get
there, as to meet with some such "unpleasantness" as this. It is a much
more satisfactory thing, as I know from subsequent experience, to meet
your enemy on a skirmish line, knowing the gun in his hand is cocked and
loaded, than it is to run across him while unarmed on his own dunghill.
I did not like the idea of being "caught" as a spy. I always had more
dread of the attendant humiliation connected with the probable
surroundings of a prisoner, who was a recognized Spy, than of the final

When I reached my room, I found my two clever Maryland refugees there.
Probably my manner and appearance still showed some signs of my
agitation, as they both immediately became interested in me. The
Colonel, who was the jolly fellow of this trio, said, laughingly:

"Hello, boy, what have you been up to?"

Fortunately for me, they both attributed my apparent embarrassment to a
trifling matter, and did not pursue it further. Elkton, the older and
more staid member of the refugee band, told me, with great glee and
pleasure, that he had received an assurance from the Rebel War
Department that his quota, or the detachment of refugees that he had
been gathering up, would be specially provided for as a part of a
Maryland company of light artillery which was then organizing. He would
be the First Lieutenant of this company, and, as such, would, of course,
see that _his_ boys were well taken care of. It was further explained
that his quota would be permitted to form a detachment of itself, or, at
least, it would be so arranged that one section of this proposed battery
would be in charge of his own men. This plan was not exactly what Elkton
and the Colonel had calculated upon when they left their comfortable
Maryland homes to join the forces of the Rebels. Elkton probably
expected to be at least a Colonel, and the Colonel himself evidently
considered himself entitled to at least a Lieutenant-Colonelcy in the
Confederate armies. They might have attained to this position if they
could have furnished sufficient recruits themselves to have filled out a
regiment. As it was, they were sadly and sorely disappointed in not
finding the rush of refugees from Maryland which they had expected, and
they were obliged to be satisfied with the best they could get, which
was a lieutenancy for Elkton, and a sergeantcy for the Colonel. In all
these talks and plans, it had been calculated by both of these gentlemen
that I should, as a matter of course, join the army--as one of their

I never intended to do this. Under the peculiar circumstances under
which I was placed, resulting in my sickness in the enemy's camp, and in
order to further my own purposes and objects, which were solely to
better collect information for the use of the Government, I had allowed
them to think that I would at the proper time go with them.

Everything is fair in love and war.

This sort of artifice or scheme for deceiving a traitorous enemy in time
of war, adopted on a large scale by the best generals, is termed by them
"strategy"--but however disinterested the motives or inspiration of
patriotism of a spy, who encounters for his country even an infamous
death, his work has been recognized as something necessary, but
"treacherous." While I am not attempting the writing of an essay, yet I
may be permitted to insert here that "The work or the purpose of a spy
is not more 'treacherous' than that of a general's 'strategy.' Both
necessarily imply deceit. There is only a difference in rank or degree."

Very often the spy's "treachery" enables the general to apply his
"strategy," and, perhaps, the poor spy has made the success of some of
the greatest generals possible.

My desire was to stave off as long as possible this plan. I hoped,
_before_ the necessity for it should occur, to get away from them and
return home.

So it came about that the time was approaching when I must either enlist
or leave, and as I had that day so narrowly escaped an encounter, or
detection in the barber shop, I decided very quickly in my own mind that
I should leave.

As previously indicated, I had studied as far as possible from all the
maps that I could get access to, and learned pretty well the topography
of the James River country. My Maryland friends who had come over had
fully explained their trip by the Potomac River crossing, and I gathered
at once that their route was very like what fisherman call a set-net--it
was a very easy matter to get into the net, but it was difficult to find
the way out again. In fact, it was only the favored few who were in the
service of the Confederate Government that were permitted to escape
backward. I knew very well that I could offer no satisfactory reasons
for going in that direction, and that, if discovered in attempting to do
so, it could not help but lead disastrously to me.

I kept pretty close to my room, being taken conveniently "sick" for a
day or two.

The leaves on the large trees in the park were beginning to take on
their beautiful autumnal colors. The air itself seemed to be clearer and
more bracing, and I again began to feel well enough--was ready to
undertake almost anything in the way of adventure.

One evening, when the Colonel and I were alone, he told me that Elkton,
who had been almost a daily visitor at the War Office--looking after his
commission--had learned on direct authority that:

"The army under Generals Johnston and Beauregard will very soon advance,
and we must get in at once, because," he added in great glee and with
significant emphasis, as he tapped me familiarly on the shoulder as he
uttered each word: "The plan is to march into Maryland, and capture
Washington and _relieve_ Baltimore."

This was the most interesting bit of news that I had heard for some
weeks, and its dramatic recital set my nerves all up to a high tension.
Eager to learn more, I questioned the voluble and confiding Colonel, who
was eager enough to talk.

"Oh, I know it's true; and, my boy, I tell you truly that, before very
long, we will march right into that portion of Maryland from which you

I was further encouraged to enlist with them, when the Colonel said:
"Why, my dear boy, we will all soon march home to 'Maryland, my
Maryland,' and be received by our friends in our gray uniforms."

This last part of the programme rather stumped me. I was not
particularly desirous that any of my friends should "receive _me_ in
gray uniform."

I shared his enthusiasm in one respect, however--that it would be
glorious to be doing something once more--and I even hoped they would
move into Maryland, as that would serve to stir up McClellan and the
North. I saw in this proposed advance into Maryland a good chance to
again safely go through Beauregard's army, which I was willing to risk
in this shape if, by so doing, I could learn of any proposed movement of
the Rebels on to Washington, knowing very well that once in that
country, in a Rebel uniform, I could safely "advance" into Maryland some
hours, and perhaps days, before the Rebel Army, so that our friends
could be prepared to suitably give their distinguished military visitors
a warm reception, and entertain them in the proper form after they
should arrive.

The Colonel went out to the bar to take a drink.

I sat down and built up another cipher letter, in the same key as I used
in the former. It was about the same form as the preceding, being
carefully worded, so as not to excite any suspicion. The real
information which it conveyed to my Northern correspondent was to this
effect, briefly, as each fifth word read:

"Proposed advance north via upper Potomac."

It was short and to the point, because I had not time--at least I
thought I should not have--to "cipher out" a longer dispatch, as I
wanted to get this through quickly. With this in my hands, I joined the
Colonel down stairs, and together we walked along to Colonel J. B.
Jones' office, and on the other side of the square.

The evening previous, while venturing out, I had first been careful to
ascertain, by a cautious inspection of the people about the hotel,
before I should approach any of the groups of men always loafing about
the hotel, that my superintendent from Manassas was not among them.

I cautiously inspected the register, and, at a favorable opportunity,
remarked to the gentlemanly clerk, as if I were surprised and delighted
at the discovery:

"Why! is Mr. Superintendent here?"

The Richmond hotel clerks are like the same fellows every place else,
and he did not deign a response to my inquiry as he was talking to
another party. I looked, perhaps, rather inquisitively at him, finally
attracting his attention, as he turned to a colored boy and said,

"Show this gentleman up to 62."

"Oh, no! never mind; I'll not disturb him to-night; I'll see him again."

I didn't ask any further questions.

The next morning I was greatly relieved to learn from a colored porter
that the Superintendent "Had gone off on de early cahs."

It was late in the evening when the Colonel and I called on Colonel
Jones with my letter. I remember this, from the fact that the genial
Colonel was preparing to close his office for the night, but he kindly
took charge of my open letter, and, without a word of question, placed
it in a pigeon-hole, in which were quite a number of other sealed
letters. I asked, with an assumed expression of deep interest and
anxiety in my manner, if the Colonel had any letters for me.

"Nothing at all undelivered," he said, as he politely expressed his
regret at having to disappoint me. I felt so sorry, too, and with a sigh
of relief and an uttered hope for better luck next time, bade the
Colonel a good-night.

This information of the threatened invasion of Maryland, and the capture
of Washington and Baltimore, had apparently put new and fresh blood into
my veins. I felt that I _must_ find out all about it, because I was in
Richmond for that purpose, and if I failed or permitted so important an
event to be planned and put into operation right under my own eyes, it
would prove pretty conclusively that as a Spy, or scout, I was not
reliable, and, after enduring so much hardship, I could not afford to
fail in this important matter.

So I told the Colonel that I was most anxious to go with him and Elkton
to Maryland as a Rebel soldier.

While they were arranging the details with the War Office, and some of
the other Maryland refugees with whom we were to be consolidated, I put
in my time scouring every avenue of information that I could think of,
for some confirmation of the reported plan to advance. I was more deeply
interested in this than I can explain; because, aside from my personal
feelings and sympathies, I had, as will be remembered, a month or two
previously advised our Government that an advance was impossible, on
account of so much sickness and general laxity of discipline, etc.

But that information was based upon a condition of things which existed
shortly after the battle of Bull Run.

It was now about the first part of October, I think, and during the time
that had elapsed the condition of affairs at Manassas had changed very
much, of course. The Rebel Army had been sick--like myself--but had now
sufficiently recovered to carry the campaign further, and be in good
shape for an offensive movement.

The Confederate authorities at Richmond were fully posted on all that
was being done at Washington.

I am not sure but that there was a daily mail from the North. I wanted
very much indeed to learn something about the manner of this system of
communication, but I was always afraid to meddle too much about it while
I was in Richmond, lest I should get picked up by some of the knowing
ones among the Rebel spies and sympathizers, who were even in the employ
of our own Government.

It was intimated in my hearing, while in Richmond, that the wife of
President Lincoln was at heart in sympathy with the South; and that her
brother, a Mr. Todd, who was in the Confederate service, was in
communication with her. No person of good judgment ever believed in this
story. I only mention it because some of the Rebel officers talked of
the matter in a self-satisfied way.

One of my regular morning walks in Richmond was to go to the newspaper
office, in Main street, to read their daily, which was posted on a file
outside of their office. There was usually quite a crowd about the
office early in the day, because paper was becoming quite scarce in
Rebeldom and a daily paper was too expensive a luxury for every one to
enjoy, especially in my circumstances. I found, too, while standing
about in the crowds, that I could overhear a great deal of comment on
the news--that was more satisfactory to me as a spy than the news the
paper contained.

The Richmond press regularly quoted the principal New York papers of
only a day or so preceding. Of course, all the unfavorable criticism of
the Union military officers, and especially the opposition to the
administration of Lincoln on the part of Northern Copperheads.

If some of these old Coppers could have been in Richmond while under the
Confederate free government, and have experienced something of the
"gratitude" extended to them in their words of comment, it would have
been a benefit to the country, in this way--that it would have dried up
a great deal of Northern sympathy.

It seemed to me to be the general sentiment among Southern people of the
more intelligent class, in response to this exhibition of Copperhead
sympathy, was oftenest expressed in words similar to this:

"Why don't they come over and help us now?" "What are they talking about
so much; why don't they come on?"

If I heard that sentiment expressed once, I've heard it perhaps hundreds
of times, in different forms; but it seemed to me, even then, that there
existed a general contempt on the part of the better people South for
those in the North who sent their sympathy and encouragement through the
newspaper exchanges.

On Main street, nearly opposite the newspaper office, was the general
telegraph office, through which all communications by telegraph was had
to all parts of the Southern Confederacy.

Inside, the office was arranged pretty much in the same general way as a
bank: There was a high counter dividing the room lengthwise; that is,
from the front about two-thirds of the way back, where it turned in an
L-shape across the room. The front door opened into this office. Around
the walls were placed the usual conveniences for writing messages, which
were to be handed in at the little windows through the glass counter. I
called frequently at the office for a message, which I pretended to be

It never came.

But I was not discouraged, and kept up the visit until the delivery
clerk got to know me so well that he would answer my question before I
put it. I thought it would be well enough to try something through this
channel, and every time I went inside the office, I lounged listlessly
about long enough to hear the sound of the instruments, and I never
failed to hear _something_ from the sound of the brass-tongue tickers,
but that something always happened to be of no consequence. It would
usually be some private message, or perhaps a long order from the army
headquarters office about some commissary stores.

I remember that I was impressed at the time, from the amount of
telegraphing going on on that subject, that there was certainly a war
between the Commissary Departments at Richmond and the officers in the

I did not dare tarry too long at a time, for fear that my constant
attendance at the office might excite some suspicion.

It was only while I was on the alert to get something tangible about the
proposed movement of the army that I was willing to take some extra
risks to obtain official information.

It was evident, from the increased activity about the offices of the War
Department, that something was up. Since I had heard of this proposed
advance, I was giving the Departments considerable attention, and rarely
missed an opportunity to see as far as I could from the outside what was
going on inside.

From my bench, under the trees in the park, I could see that the office
was being besieged almost constantly by crowds of people, mostly members
of their Congress, who had to pass my seat on their way from the Capitol
building to the War Department.

They went in groups of two to four at a time; sometimes a Congressman
would be accompanied by an officer in the gray uniform.

As they passed me, their conversation seemed to be animated--in short,
there was a general feeling among the crowd, as far as I could gather
anything, that something important was pending.

Yet I had no facts--simply surmises, and gossip.

I could not learn much at the telegraph office, and had about abandoned
the attempt in that direction, until I struck a plan that was a little
risky, but, under the circumstances, I felt justifiable in undertaking
almost anything.

Noticing a messenger leaving the War Department, I followed him at a
respectful distance. He went straight to the telegraph office; so did I.
I entered the door just a moment after him, and was carelessly edging
toward the delivery clerk, to put my stereotyped interrogation to him,
when he said in my hearing to the messenger:

"Shall we send dispatches _from the President_ to Mrs. Davis at her home

"There wont be any; he is expected back to-night."

Jeff Davis was at Manassas then. I felt really as if I had been derelict
in my duty, in thus permitting the President to go out of town without
my knowledge and consent. But he was coming back; that was comforting to
me. I felt sure now that the rumors of an advance had been confirmed. I
knew something was in contemplation, and I should not leave Richmond at
that time--certainly not until I had ascertained what it was that they
proposed doing, and when it was to be done.

I went straight to my room, wrote a short dispatch--a rather crude
one--the translation of which was that:

"Jeff Davis had been to Manassas; something up." And before I slept it
was in Colonel J. B. Jones' postoffice.



While I felt that my "dispatch" would ultimately go through to its
destination at Washington all right, I was yet quite uneasy about this
talked-of advance of the Rebels into Maryland, fearful that it might
take place at once, or before my information could reach the North,
through the blockade mail service, which was necessarily a little bit
slow and uncertain. This fear kept me awake long after I had gotten into
bed; and as I lay there alone in my room, in a Richmond hotel, brooding
over the dangers of a Rebel invasion into Maryland and the humiliation
that would attach to the capture or flight of President Lincoln and his
officers from Washington, I became, I expect, somewhat wild and
frenzied, and again resolved to myself, while in this disordered and
disturbed frame of mind, that I would "stand by Jeff Davis"--for
awhile--that for one, _he_ should not go to Washington.

I had been away from home now since July, during which time I had heard
only of the Union Army through the Rebel sources, and, of course,
everything favorable had been suppressed, while all the weaknesses or
shortcomings of our Northern forces had been greatly exaggerated.

I had heard so much of this sort of talk during these three months that
I had, perhaps, come to believe in a great deal of it. I was young but
not inexperienced.

We soon learned how to interpret the numerous war rumors and gossip of
the soldiers of both sides--a little later on. Every recruit, perhaps,
has suffered--in anticipation--more from the "chin" of old veterans
about a camp-fire, who always knew more of the proposed movements of the
generals than they did themselves.

So it was that I was compelled to listen to the wild talk of the
enthusiastic refugees, my Colonel and Elkton, after they came into the
room that night. It was late--they had been having some fun, and were
feeling greatly exhilarated over the street rumors of the coming fight.
I do not mean to insinuate that they were tipsy, just because the
Colonel got in bed without taking his clothes off, for he was able to
talk plainly and volubly until he fell asleep from exhaustion.

The talk of those two fellows that night, about the dreadful things that
were going to happen soon, had about set me wild, and I felt as if I
should get out of bed and walk right straight up to Washington before
daylight and tell Uncle Abe all about it. But I fell asleep, too, and
dreamed, perhaps, as wildly as I had been planning.

There was one point settled in my mind, and that was that it was my best
plan to remain in Richmond, at least, until something sure was
discovered about the Rebel plans. Another was, that if I kept up my
friendship with these two lively old boys, who thought they were taking
care of me, that I should more easily get fuller and more satisfactory
information. I was obliged, in order to prolong my stay, to go with them
into their Maryland artillery. I could also more safely reach our army
through the cover or disguise of a gray uniform. As they were to go to
the front at once, I was willing to do anything that was necessary for
the good of the Government, but I wanted very much to avoid as long as
was possible the approaching necessity for joining the Rebel Army as a
means to further my ends and objects.

I had already staved it off a long time. I could have returned to the
North via the James river without trouble, and I had all my arrangements
completed to do so, when the reported advance of Beauregard reached my
ears, and I had delayed purposely to learn something about this.

While there had been no active operations, I had worked hard and
faithfully in secret.

I had opened and kept up communication with our Government--through the
rebel channels--that was one great success.

I was also on hand in their territory, and on the alert to discover and
report any further information.

I had probably at last discovered something important was pending, and I
decided to stay and see it out.

The next morning I was out of my bed early, and in the park before my
two comrades were out of their beds. I wanted to see if Jeff Davis had
returned to Richmond, and, after breakfast, I took my accustomed walk,
from which I could obtain a view of his office door.

I can recall that beautiful Autumn day on the Capitol Grounds as
distinctly as if was but a day or two ago. The trees were putting on
their most beautiful shades of color, the air was fresh and bracing, and
I, having fully recovered from my recent weakness, was again so well and
bright that I almost felt in my youthful, impulsive way, that it would
be an easy task to go right up to Manassas that day to see what Mr.
Davis was doing, and, if his movements were not satisfactory, I could
continue my walk on to Washington.

There were at all hours of the day a great many people in the park. They
were of all kinds, from the provisional Congressman and Virginia State
Assemblyman, Confederate Government, down to refugees, citizens,
soldiers and spies.

As I have previously said, there was always to be seen in this beautiful
square any number of people, and on this October morning it seemed as if
every person who wanted to go any place in the city were making it
convenient to walk through the square to their destination.

There was eternally some Confederate soldiers and officers loafing about
on the benches. I had become so accustomed to the boys in gray, in the
streets, that I had forgotten to be at all afraid to meet with and to
talk to them. This morning in particular I was perhaps unduly reckless,
because I was so eager to obtain some further information about this

Seeing a group of three nice looking soldiers talking together, a little
distance from where I stood, I determined on the spur of the moment to
join them, and, if an opportunity was afforded me, I would try to learn
from them what they knew of the Rebel plans.

A group of three soldiers on a lark is not exactly the source that I
would have applied to for information of an army's proposed movements
six months later, but, as I have said, I was young then and fresh in the
war service.

I approached, and addressed the boys a mild and meek inquiry as to a
good place to enlist in "our army." This was a question that interested
them all, and every fellow was at once eager to give me the desired
information, which was to the effect that they had the very best Captain
in the army.

They belonged to Louisiana, they said, and were recruits from New
Orleans, and were on their way then to join the army at Manassas, having
arrived in Richmond the day previously, and were laying over until the
officer in charge secured some necessary transportation or other
authority at the War Office.

I was urged to go with them. They declared that there was to be some
great fun soon--that their officer knew all about it and had told them
of the plan for the campaign.

The story they had did not differ materially from that I had heard from
our own boys, and I judged safely enough that, as they were but recently
from New Orleans, they could not know much more about the army at
Manassas than I did. While we talked together these few moments, we all
stood in a close group on one of the broad walks, the conversation being
carried on with such a degree of earnestness on their part that we
scarcely noticed the persons who were constantly passing us, until one
of the Virginia police-soldiers came up to us with his gun and politely
ordered the crowd not to block up the way. We moved off a little and sat
down to finish the contract they had undertaken--of inducing me to join

The police-soldier walked off a little piece, and then, taking a
position where two paths joined, he stood like one of the statues for a
moment; then, as if suddenly imbued with life, his arms flew about as he
brought his gun to a "present." Passing him were two gentlemen--one
quite portly and red-faced, the other a slender thin-faced gentleman in
a dark suit of steel gray. As they came closer, we all watched to see
who they might be, as the guard had saluted. The big-faced gentleman was
doing all the talking--the thin-faced one was close to me before I
recognized him. He was so intent on hearing the old man's talk that he
did not look toward us at all; and, after they had passed, I said to the
soldiers: "That's President Davis!" They were, of course, all anxious to
get another glimpse of their great man, and one of them hastily followed
after while one of the others said in his slow, deliberate way:

"I thought so; because he looked just like a Confederate postage

At that time Mr. Davis' picture was on the stamps recently issued.

I took this opportunity to get away from them, by saying that I must
join one of our own Maryland regiments, and started off as if I must
find one right away.

Jeff Davis was back in Richmond, as I had discovered with my own eyes.

In my daily rounds, the next source of information I sought was the
newspapers offices, because the crowd that was always to be found about
them seemed to do more satisfactory blowing than any that I could strike
elsewhere. They commented pro and con upon the bulletins that were
sometimes put out; or, in fact, it seemed as if this daily gathering at
the _Examiner_ office, a few doors around the corner from Main, was a
sort of a news clearing-house, where a great many of the citizens of the
better class came to tell all they knew and to hear all that any others
had to tell.

It was through this channel that I obtained some important clues.

While I was in Richmond, the Ball's Bluff, or Leesburg, disaster
occurred, and most eagerly did I read all that appeared in Richmond
about that distressing affair.

The _Examiner_ and _Whig_ articles on this "great victory," if
reproduced to-day, would make some interesting reading, of a character
that would stir up the blood of the old soldiers, even now, about as
quickly as anything I know of.

The prevailing sentiment or feeling in Richmond at the time seemed to
be, that this "great achievement of the Confederates" merely confirmed
the opinions that had been previously uttered, based on the battle of
Bull Run, "that one Southern was equal to five Yankees."

The patronizing and superior manner with which those Richmond people
talked of the battle of Ball's Bluff, which, in fact, was almost a
massacre, made such an impression on my mind that time has not and never
can efface.

The Richmond papers, too, in those days, I recall very distinctly, found
it necessary to apologize for, or defend, General Stone, for his part in
the affair.

It was through this press channel that we heard of General Butler's
operations in North Carolina. The old man had evidently done something
down there that hurt very much, which they did not print, as the city
press was filled almost every day with abuse of him and the Yankees.

I gathered that it was about Henry A. Wise, who had a son or a brother
killed by Butler's operations. One would think, from the manner in which
the Virginians went on about this "outrage," that the Yankees had no
right to kill a Virginia gentleman under any circumstances.

While I am on the subject of the Richmond press, I must not forget to
explain that, as printing paper was becoming quite scarce in the South,
they were obliged to economize, and frequently the Richmond _Examiner_
and _Whig_ appeared in half-sheets and letters; the quality of the paper
became so inferior as to resemble in appearance the reverse side of the
cheapest wall-paper.

I sent to the North, through the blockade, several times, marked copies
of the Richmond papers.

The Pittsburgh _Chronicle_ actually published, while I was yet in
Virginia, an extract from one of those papers, in which were some
caustic comments on a case of a certain well-known Presbyterian
clergyman of Allegheny, who had been dismissed by his church there for
some harsh expressions of sympathy for the South.

I was thanked by name for the "courtesy" in sending the paper, which was
exhibited at the office as a great curiosity, and am thankful even now,
on reflection, that the Pittsburgh papers were not on the Richmond
exchange list.

There were no earthworks of any description around Richmond in 1861.
This is a fact that is not generally known.

When I was before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, some months
after the date of which I am writing, there was an effort being made by
some of the Congressmen to prove to the country that McClellan's
inactivity during the fall and winter was wholly inexcusable. This truth
was fully brought out at the time and the facts proven.

There was probably not a day from August to November, 1861, that General
McClellan could not have easily entered Richmond, with a very small
force, from the Peninsula or via the South.

It was also fully established by the official papers of the Rebel
authorities themselves that twenty-five per cent. of their army was
incapacitated on account of the prevailing epidemic in August and
September, and that twenty-five per cent. more were absent, while the
rest of the Rebel army was as badly demoralized by their victory as we
were by our rout.

I do not attempt to criticise General McClellan in mentioning these
facts. I refer simply to my own personal observations on this point, as
testified to before the Committee of Congress, after I had gotten home
again. I beg to refer the reader to volume 3, page 380 of the printed
Government Record for a part of my sworn testimony referring to these

After a long day's hunt for news, visiting about every place in the
city, like a reporter, where I thought I could learn anything--among the
rest, Libby Prison guard--I returned to the hotel in the evening.



Richmond hotels during the war were very like those in Washington City
during the same period. Every evening the offices, billiard rooms, and
even the bar-rooms, would be filled with that class of a city's
population that usually congregate in these places. As the crowded hotel
lobbies in Washington City nowadays are just the places the newspaper
men seek to obtain news for their papers, so it was in Richmond as well
as Washington during the war.

Everybody agreed on one point--that something was up, but just what it
was nobody seemed able to tell, and I was unable to find out. But I had
a night's adventure, which served to dispel any scruples I had
entertained about the propriety of entering the Rebel Army.

I met at the hotel office my companion, the Colonel, who, upon seeing
me, rushed over the office floor to say:

"Why, where the devil have you been? We have been hunting you every

I explained that I had been poking about the city all day, and was so
tired that I was going straight to bed.

"No you ain't; we are going to initiate you to-night. We got our orders
to-day. Elkton has his commission, and has authority to enlist his
men--you know we have nearly all we need for our section. I am to be
Sergeant in charge of the piece and you are to be Corporal."

Then, with a slap on the shoulder, he hauled me to one side, and
whispered: "We have got it all fixed for our big bounty, and we want
your papers right away."

I was cornered. I must go along or get out of town. There could be no
possible excuse for further putting off this step.

I asked only the one question--"Where do we go?"

"Why, into Maryland, of course!"

Being further assured that this battery was to be at once sent to the
front, I agreed to go along with him--_to get the money_. We found
Elkton in our room, attending to the papers of some of the other
recruits, and, at a favorable opportunity, I, with a trembling hand and
a doubting heart, signed my assumed name to the papers, and by that act
became a _Rebel soldier_. There was one great relief to my mind while
performing this necessary act. It was distinctly understood that I was
to be made the Corporal, and, as such, it would be my duty to sight and
fire the gun of our section. I determined that if the occasion should
arise before I could get away from them, when it would become my duty as
a Rebel soldier to sight that gun, that it should _never be pointed in a
way to do any damage_.

My object was to use this scheme as a disguise to again get to the front
at Manassas, and find out what had been done _there_. I could not learn
anything at Richmond, and once more in the Rebel Army at Manassas,
disguised in a gray uniform, I would find some way to anticipate any
forward movements. I would also be "handy" to our army, and be able to
reach our pickets quickly.

If I were caught going over to the enemy, with a Rebel jacket on, I'd be
shot as a deserter; but I had the consolation of knowing that, if I were
caught in any other clothes, I should be hung anyhow. While this was not
a very comforting thought, I knew it was true.

I did not care much for the money that was to be paid to me; and
authorized Elkton to settle my bills at the hotel and to retain the
balance for me. He furnished the Colonel and me some spending money, and
together we went out to "make a night of it" in Richmond.

The Colonel and I went first to a theatre, located on the street on
which stood the Exchange and Ballard Hotel.

One of the players sang with dramatic effect some words suitable to the
time and people, which was adapted to the French air of "La
Marseillaise." He waved in one hand a French flag and in the other the
Confederate _bars_. At a certain point in the song, the fellow threw to
the floor and stamped upon--old glory--the Stars and Stripes. The wild
cheers of approval and howls of applause from the large audience that
went up at this dastardly exhibition of American treachery sent the cold
chills down my marrow bone. I wondered then, and have never ceased to
wonder, at the frequent exhibitions of contempt and dishonor for their
old flag that were so freely and heartily indulged in by the Southern
people during the war.

It did not occur to me at the time that I might accidentally meet or, at
least, be seen--in a crowded theatre--by some person who would know
something of my past experiences.

As we were slowly edging through the crowd, after the curtain had
fallen, I noticed a tall fellow in front of us, who turned around to
look back. I thought I had seen his face before, but I had been seeing
so many faces lately, that I paid but little attention to him. I
observed that he said something to his companion, as both turned around
facing me, but, as the crowd kept pressing down the narrow aisle, they
did not have a good chance to scan me too closely.

Becoming aware of their scrutiny, my suspicions became aroused. I began
to hasten along, and nervously nudged the Colonel to push ahead more
rapidly. We passed the two men--one of whom was in uniform--and as we
did so, I heard one of them, say:

"That's him, ain't it?"

I didn't linger to hear what reply the other made, but shoved on toward
the door, and had reached the vestibule when the voice behind called
out--_my right name_! I was startled, but did not turn, being intent
only on getting to the street as quickly as possible.

The Colonel, who was with me, had not noticed the affair at all; and the
calling out of my real name had not attracted his attention, as I was
known to him only by the fictitious name that I had assumed.

As I reached the door, and was about to hurry down the front steps, a
hand was laid on my shoulder. I have no doubt that it was a pale face
which turned around, expecting to meet some one that I certainly did not
desire to see at that time.

I did not know him, though his pleasant face, which was covered with a
broad grin, seemed familiar.

"Ain't you Mr. O. K., that was out in Texas with Major J----?"

I suppose that my surprised appearance was misunderstood for an
expression of offended dignity I had assumed. This had the effect of
putting him in doubt as to my identity, as he eyed me more closely, and
gave me his name, and remarked he was one of a regiment that had been
organized in that part of Texas in which I had spent the winter
preceding the war, and had probably known me there, as a stranger
naturally becomes an object of curiosity in that country.

As I did not want to run the risk of meeting any of my Texas uncle's
friends, who might know of my interest in the affair at Fort Pickens--as
the Texas boy--I mildly resented the proposed acquaintance. His
companion relieved the embarrassment by suggesting, politely, that it
was simply a mistake. When I had recovered sufficiently, I gave my
fictitious name and introduced the Colonel, as a sort of endorser for my

It was accepted with hesitancy, and we parted without stopping to
further explain the matter.

I was now, seemingly, to all intents and purposes, a _bona fide_
"rebel." The position in which I had almost involuntarily placed myself
was such, that it put me in a dangerous attitude toward both sides, and
would necessitate considerable explaining in certain events. It was, in
fact, a "straddle," that caused me a good deal of annoyance and trouble
that I had not counted on before I entered into the arrangement.

After the little incident at the theatre, the Colonel and I went
straight to our room at the hotel. He wanted to run around town a little
longer, but I was not in the humor for taking any further risks of
meeting any more of my Southern acquaintances, and I prevailed upon him
to go with me to bed. After the lights were out, I had an opportunity to
think over the day's doings before I slept. It was arranged between us
that we should travel together as a pair, or as a team of fresh Maryland
colts, wherever we should go. We were both to be attached to the one gun
of the Third Maryland Battery of Artillery. That is the name of the
organization, as will be found upon a reference to the records, and I
have no doubt my name is also set down there among the members of the
company. Elkton was made the Lieutenant, while the "Colonel" was
promoted to be Sergeant in charge of the piece, while I was Corporal and


A majority of the other "refugees" belonging to this patriotic band of
exiles were composed principally of recruits who had been recently drawn
to Richmond from their shovel and pick employment on a railroad
contract, on what is now the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. This sense of
duty to the suffering and abused South of their adoption, was due to the
fact, as we all understood it then, that the bounty and pay of the
Maryland refugee was very much greater than that of a laborer in a ditch
while the work was not nearly so fatiguing. In fact, and in brief, the
refugee business was very much of a fraud on the Confederacy in our
company. To be more explicit, I will enumerate, from memory, the several
nationalities which were attached to our "piece," which may be
considered a representative of the Maryland refugees in the Confederacy.

Our No. 1 and No. 2--which all old soldiers will remember, are the
figures that represent the two men who stand at the muzzle of an
old-fashioned gun, one of whom swabs her out, while the other rams the
charge home--were two stalwart Irish brothers, Mike and Terry by name.
The former had been a boss of a wheelbarrow gang somewhere out on the
railway in Virginia--one of those blustering Irish fellows who are so
full of extravagant and positive talk. He was eternally and forever
complaining about something or somebody, and I remember that he gave the
officers and men more trouble on this account than all the rest. He had,
as the leader of his gang, brought a dozen of his Irish recruits into
our organization at one draft, and felt as if he must continue to be
their boss. His men were also disposed to recognize "Mike's" authority,
as being superior to that of the military officers. A good deal of
discipline was necessary to explain to them the changed condition in
their affairs. His brother Terry was a strapping big fellow, whose
position at the gun was alongside of his brother. In disposition and
temperament, Terry was the very opposite of Mike, being a quiet, sullen
fellow, whom I do not remember to have heard speak a dozen words beyond
mere monosyllables. He was, however, a tricky, treacherous fellow, and
the pair of big gray mules gave the team of Maryland colts any amount of
trouble and fun.

The man whose duty it was to prick the cartridge and attend the vent was
a native of Richmond--a fat, boyish fellow of eighteen full of fun and
laugh all the time. My recollection is, that he had been a butcher's
clerk somewhere. He represented what may be called the "poor white
trash," as it was termed by the Southern people.

He was probably attracted by the bounty and the chance to ride on a
gun-carriage, as we found out very soon he was too blamed lazy to walk.
Another peculiarity of this recruit, that we subsequently discovered,
and which made it interesting to the rest of us, was, that he was
subject to epileptic fits, and probably for this cause he had been
rejected by the more respectable Virginia regiments.

When he first took one of those spells, during the excitement occasioned
by the drill-master hustling him around a little, we all felt that
something dreadful had occurred in our midst, and every man in the camp
was crawling over the other in their efforts to wait upon and assist the
poor fellow. He lay on the ground, gnawing and twisting himself in the
most horrible way, frothing at the mouth in the meanwhile in a frightful

It was on such occasions as this that big Mike showed his usefulness in
the company. He would grab the big Virginian lubber by each hand and
hold him "steady," as if he was a mere baby in his hands, giving orders
meanwhile, as if he was a captain on a man-of-war in a great storm.

The other fellow, who pulled the lanyard, was a slender, good-looking
man, who had been a sailor who had traveled around the world, and did
not seem to have any nationality. The war had found him blockaded at
Norfolk, and, being unable to get out to sea, he had gravitated into
Richmond, where he was induced to join the refugee band by the hard
logic of an empty pocket, a hungry belly, and a show of money as bounty.
He and I became fast friends, and, as a singular coincidence, I mention
here that we both joined that battery with the same intent--_i. e._, to
use it as a means of escape North; and though we were together and slept
together every night for months, neither knew the other's thoughts on
the subject until the morning we met, accidentally, while both were
escaping through the Rebel pickets.

Our No. 5, whose duty it was to carry the cartridge from the caisson to
the gun, was a queer character. He was a man of about forty-five years
of age, tall and angular, with that odd cast of countenance that one
often sees among the lower order of Germans. He was not exactly a
German, but had an accent similar to the German; his face was broad and
square, the lower part of it being apparently broader than the upper. I
think he must have been a Russian or a Polander. He was not a successful
No. 5, because his motions were too stiff and lumbering for that
position; and, in consequence of his stupidity, he was being prodded all
the time when on drill. He became, however, a very useful member to the

By some mysterious expressions from the officers, we were led to believe
at first that he might have been a disguised "juke" or count, exiled
from his native land, and who desired to serve his adopted home with
this band of devoted refugees. We learned, however, that he had simply
been a professor in his own country in--a barbershop. We were all glad
enough to ascertain this fact; also, that he served his time as a
tailor--to be sure his "time" as a tailor had been "put in" at a certain
penitentiary--but he was a good and useful refugee all the same, because
he was detailed to shave the company and, also, to do over the baggy
gray uniforms which were furnished us.

The "Colonel" and I were the first to take advantage of this
information, as to the "juke's" accomplishments, to have him refit the
gray blouses and trousers which we were to wear. We procured some black
stuff for trimming the cuffs of our coats, because one of the Lanyards'
lady friends had told him that the black and gray matched nicely
together. We also had our Sergeant's and Corporal's stripes of bright
red stitched on to our sleeves, and a narrow binding of red was sewed
down in front of the coat. It was in this rather neatly-trimmed Rebel
uniform that I boldly walked the streets of Richmond, and secured
entrance to houses and places of interest, from which I had heretofore
been excluded, during the rest of my eventful stay in that city.

It will be seen that, in this account of the personnel of one section
of the so-called Maryland Battery, there was but the _one_ genuine
Maryland refugee in its outfit, outside of Elkton, and that was the
Sergeant, who is the "Colonel" of our story. I was, of course, supposed
to be another Marylander, but it will be seen that the much-vaunted
"flower of the South," which composed the Confederate armies, was very
much like the "flower of the North" in its actual composition.

The other sections of our battery were composed principally of the
aforesaid "recruits" from the railway laborers, who were mostly refugees
from Ireland and Germany.

Our other lieutenant was a Mr. Claiborne, one of the genuine sons of the
South, a native of Mississippi, and as clever and courteous a young
gentleman as it has ever been my pleasure to meet. I recall my
acquaintance with Lieutenant Claiborne, though formed in this
surreptitious way, as one of the most agreeable in which I have ever
shared. If it shall so happen that this writing may meet his own eye, or
that of his family or friends--and I have given the correct name--he
will understand some of my actions toward him, which were at the time,
to say it briefly, inexplicable. Lieutenant Claiborne, I think, followed
the Confederate fortunes to the end--I am sure he did so if he lived to
see the end--for, without a doubt, he was earnestly, though quietly,
sincere in his devotion to the cause of the South.

The Captain of the company had been, as I understood it, a lawyer from
Baltimore. He was a small man in stature, small in mind, and about as
_little_ and trifling in every way as any soldier that I have ever met.

Perhaps some allowance should be made for the Captain on account of the
fact that he was a cripple. He was born, I believe, with one leg shorter
than the other--wore what is known as a club foot; that is, one shoe was
filled with a cork sole, which raised his foot three or four inches from
the ground. He walked with a cane, and sometimes used two, and
apparently walked with difficulty. His face wore an expression of pain
or sourness that is peculiar to many persons whom I have met that are
similarly afflicted.

In justice to the Captain, it may be inferred that, on account of his
bodily infirmity, he had been reared in such a way that every whim was
gratified, and he was petted and spoiled until he became in nature and
disposition a veritable tyrant, as all pets are. We understood that he
came of a first-class Maryland family, and that he had been highly
educated at his home, where he had become a successful attorney. Our
impressions in this regard were amply confirmed by our association; and
the fact that our Captain had great influence at the Rebel War
Department was undisputed. The Captain himself recognized his
importance, and was of the temperament that inclined to make the most of
his advantages.

There was a disposition on the part of our first Lieutenant, Elkton, to
resist the Captain's severe exercise of his authority and overbearing
manner; and in this rebellion within a rebellion, we of this section
unanimously sustained our Lieutenant. Mr. Claiborne, the second
Lieutenant, was also in constant friction with the Captain, and, as his
squad sustained him, also, we were in hot water right along.

The Captain became a cross, surly, revengeful man. He knew nothing
whatever of military drill and the requirements, and was narrow-minded
enough to meddle and interfere with the trifling details, which should
have been left to the subordinate officers.

Big Mike, of our section, was one of the fellows who had a grievance,
because he had not been made sergeant in charge of the gun, with his own
squad of Irish to work it, instead of my Colonel. He took every
complaint to this sour-faced, crippled Captain, who, in an unmilitary
manner, entertained his private growling complaint against the officers
and the rest of the company. He would invite Mike into his quarters,
where he would discuss with him the minor affairs of the company. Any
old soldier will see how this sort of thing would work; and if any
imagine for a moment that all the Southern soldiers were a "band of
brothers," harmoniously bound together, fighting only against the Yankee
invaders, they are very much mistaken.

I have seen more of the ugly, bitter jealousy between Rebel officers,
and severe criticism of Jeff Davis and his generals, in an association
of nine months among them, than I did subsequently in three years
between Stanton and Halleck and all the commanders of the armies of the

Our company was quartered in the Fair Grounds, on the outskirts of
Richmond, which in after years became widely known as "Camp Lee." A high
board fence enclosed several acres of ground; inside this enclosure were
a number of temporary wooden sheds, which had been turned into barracks
for the Confederate soldiers.

Troops were arriving at this camp from the South every day; and as fast
as they were organized or suitably provided with arms and clothing, they
were shipped on the cars, which ran right by the grounds, to the Rebel
Army at Manassas or thereabouts. I was always glad to see the trains
stop to load up some of the troops for the North, because I felt, every
time I saw it, that our turn to go would soon come, and I should soon be
at the front again, from whence I could easily skip over the line into
Washington City.

The time, during these days, was usually occupied in a daily routine of
military life. Officers and men occupied comfortable quarters at Camp
Lee, in the barracks. There was a roll-call every morning, a very good
breakfast, then a couple of hours' drill at the one old iron cannon,
which was all that the entire camp possessed. Each of the sections took
turns at this one piece. So it was, that, between us all, we managed to
keep it hot pretty near all day. This drill was a regular circus. As the
gunner, I did not have very much exercise. Lanyard, who stood by me, and
I, had so much fun together over the two big Irishmen, who would so
violently ram home the imaginary charges of powder and ball and swing
the big swab around as wildly as if it was a little shilleleh. Fatty,
the Virginia refugee, whose place was across from us, was full of fun
himself, and kept us all amused by his antics during the drill--holding
his fingers to his ears and winking and jumping as if a charge had
actually been fired and the rebound was dangerous. The two big Irish
brothers were always in a sweat and swearing at the disguised "juke,"
because he was so dignified in his bearing that he could not be made to
see the necessity of rushing frantically from the limber, holding an
imaginary cartridge in his hand. It, perhaps, seemed too absurd for a
man of his dignity, age and clumsy bearing to be compelled to run around
the gun holding out his empty hands, as if carrying a ten-pound shot in
them, which he was supposed to deliver in like imaginary manner.

My duty was to sight the piece, and I learned to get that part of the
drill down so fine that I was able, on short notice, to hit the same
knot-hole in the fence, twenty feet distant, every time.

The number of Yankees that we killed with that gun--in imagination--far
outnumbered all that were afterward slaughtered by all of General
Alexander's Rebel Artillery. The Captain somehow got a notion that I was
the only person in the company who could use pen and ink. This was not
very complimentary to the rest of the company, because I've not, in all
these years, learned how to write properly; but I was, in consequence,
detailed as a company clerk, or as a private secretary to the Captain,
and from this assignment, until we took the field, I had what is
vulgarly called--a snap.

I was quartered thenceforth in the Captain's room, except when off duty,
when I would quickly join the Colonel and Lanyard in their barracks. My
duties were not at all onerous; on the other hand, I became relieved
from all details for drill guard, police duty, and a hundred and one
other little "turns" that catch everybody in the ranks, both in the
Rebel and Union armies. It was my business to do all the company's
clerical work: I filled out requisitions for commissary supplies, kept
the roster, made a daily report for the Captain to somebody who was the
General in command at the camp at that time.

One day the Captain notified the men, as we were at evening roll-call,
that he had engaged a doctor for the exclusive benefit of the company,
who would accompany us as our surgeon. Everybody was glad to hear this,
as we had experienced a good bit of sickness already while in camp. The
Captain wound up his speech with the incidental observation that a
dollar or two would be retained from each man's pay to compensate this
private surgeon. There was surprise, and the parade was dismissed and
the men reassembled to growl. Big Mike then took a turn at making a
speech, inciting rebellion against the Captain's arbitrary orders. It
resulted in a regular Irish row upon the Captain ordering Mike's arrest
and imprisonment in the guard-house. Before we got through with it, the
whole of the bold refugees were under the guns of some of the other
troops, that had been called upon to quell the disturbance.

It was lots of fun to Fatty and Lanyard, but for my part I'd rather get
into a real battle than to become mixed up in an Irish fist fight.

There were some horses in camp belonging to the several officers who
were quartered out there. Our Captain had his own, a finely-bred animal,
which he rode to town and back every day. On account of the deformity of
his limbs or hips, it was necessary that he should be almost lifted into
the saddle, which was made of a particular shape suited to him. Because
of this necessity for having someone always with him, I was selected by
the Captain, with whom I had become a favorite, to accompany him nearly
every day on a second horse. He almost always rode straight to the War
Department, and I went along with him as far as I could. In this way I
was able to keep up safely my silent watch on the Rebel War Office,
rarely missing a day during our stay in Camp Lee on which I did not get
to town with the Captain.

My gray uniform had been neatly fitted by the "juke," and my way of
wearing my blouse coat-tails tucked inside my trousers had so pleased
the Captain that he had ordered every man to wear his clothes as I did.
This style of dress gave me a sort of Garibaldi appearance, and I fancy
that, as I rode my horse fairly well, from an early training in Western
Texas, I made a pretty creditable appearance on the streets of Richmond
as a Rebel soldier boy.

It was in this disguise that, I may safely assert, I openly visited
_every single point of interest in and around Richmond_.

I felt so perfectly secure and safe, that I had again become reckless
and careless.

By reason of my close association with the Captain, as his private
secretary or company clerk, I was able to secure from him his written
permit to visit town in the evening. The Colonel (or Sergeant), Mr.
Lanyard and myself had naturally gravitated toward each other, and
visits to town after dark were usually made by this congenial trio in
one group, but we didn't always return together.

The old Colonel and Lanyard were the real Philistines, and I may safely
put all their night raids upon them. Whenever the Colonel or Lanyard
wished to go to town, one of them would come to me, as the "Adjutant of
their Corps," as the Colonel used to say, and in their seductive manner
ask me to write out a pass for three and get the "old man" to sign it.
The Captain had gotten into the way of signing so many of the blank
forms, that it was my daily duty to submit to him, his signature was
easily obtained to further our little schemes.

Of the great number and variety of troops, probably the most popular, as
a general thing, were the refugees from Maryland.

For some months after the first battle, the ladies of the very best old
families of Richmond were in the habit of making daily visits to the
camps of the troops about the city.

There was a crack battalion of "gentlemen" soldiers from South Carolina
that came to town during my stay, whose regiment I've forgotten, but my
impression is that it was Hampton's South Carolina Battalion. Their
presence created quite a furore among the ladies of Richmond, and the
dress-parade in the evening seemed to bring half the town out in
carriages and in droves of pedestrians. These fellows wore a fancy
uniform, and, without a word of exaggeration, I may say every private in
the battalion was provided with a body servant--in most cases a likely
boy, perhaps one of the slaves with whom the soldier had played as a
child, was now sent along with him to the war to take care of the young

Our Colonel didn't like the attention that was being given to the South
Carolina boys; perhaps he felt a little bit envious or jealous, as he
observed to a lady:

"These fellows have brought along their niggers to carry umbrellas over
them while they fight."

While Lanyard thought: "It's most likely the nigger is there to fix up
their cocktails."

I have, myself, seen refined ladies in our camp, with sleeves rolled up
and huge aprons covering their fine dresses, assisting the troopers to
bake their biscuit and bread. The younger and better-looking ladies were
often to be seen at camp, with baskets in hand, laying out bountiful
spreads in the barrack "dining-room."

The appearance of these ladies at camp always put the Colonel on his
mettle--he would go about our part of the quarters, his actions totally
altered from his usual slow and quiet manner.

Our sailor-boy chum, whom we called Lanyard, had not enjoyed the society
of ladies so much as the Colonel, probably on account of his sea-faring
life, and was rather inclined to resent the intrusion of the ladies.
Through the Colonel's gallantry and cheek, our little mess was pretty
well remembered by the visiting sisters.

It was through visits of this character that we became acquainted with a
nice young lady, whom we will call Capitola, because that wasn't her
name. She was a typical Southern girl. I can not describe her, except to
say that she was a beautiful brunette, who had attended boarding school
somewhere near Baltimore, and probably through this fact she became
interested in the Maryland refugees. As I have said, the Colonel was a
gallant fellow, and also a good manager, who was not slow to take
advantage of the opportunity this pretty girl's visits to our camp
afforded. She, of course, made her visits in company with a bevy of
other pretty girls, some of whom were equally as handsome as herself,
but Capitola is _the_ girl of this part of our story.

One day our fair visitors made a special call on our officers to notify
us, in their charming way, of an entertainment which was to be given at
one of the halls in the city, to which Marylanders especially were
invited. The Colonel in his courteous way accepted the invitation for

When the ladies were ready to return, the Colonel persistently escorted
them to the gate--as he always did--while we bashful boys stood back and
envied his easy manners, as he escorted them away from us. He always
came back to us with a broad grin on his face, but, kept a taunting
silence as to the conversation that seemed to be so interesting and

We put in the balance of that day preparing for the evening's
entertainment. As a general thing, we were demoralized after the visit
and could do nothing else. It so happened that it rained one of those
cold, misty, half-rain and half-sleet storms, that are so disagreeable
always, and especially so when they interfere with one's efforts to get
himself up in his best shape. The storm did not, however, prevent a full
attendance at the ball, for it was a sort of ball or reception, after
some introductory addresses, accompanied by the music of "Dixie" and
"Maryland, my Maryland."

Mrs. President Davis was present. Though I had frequently seen her, she
never looked to my eyes other than a very ordinary matronly lady.

It was a tableau, in which our girl was representing "Maryland
enslaved." She was attired, not exactly in the costume of the Greek
slave, but in a sombre mourning garb, with her head bowed as if in
great sorrow and distress. She walked on to the stage, and, with a
pathetic appeal, lifted toward heaven as beautiful a face as I have ever
seen, stretching out her bared arms, which were shackled by chains. It
was a beautiful and a striking picture, presented with great effect, and
I don't suppose there was a person in the vast crowd who did not feel
ready to make a desperate effort to release the pretty Maryland girl
from those dreadful chains. I'm quite sure I should have done so if I'd
had the opportunity, and would have been glad to have picked "Maryland"
up and carried her away from such dreadful people, but we were not to be
given this privilege.

At the proper moment, Mr. President Davis stepped forward, and, like an
accomplished actor, played his part excellently well, wrenching the
chains from "Maryland" and setting her free. "Maryland" horrified all
the battery boys by immediately throwing her arms around her rescuer.

"We three roughish chaps together," came away from that show with our
empty heads in a whirl. It was still sleeting and quite cold. Lanyard,
with an assumed shudder, proposed that we go to some saloon to get
something hot to prevent our taking cold.

I have never been drunk in my life. I say this here, because a good many
persons who will read this will naturally think that any person who has
"been around" as much as I, must at some time have been full. Especially
as I am an old soldier, I know that some persons will laugh at this
statement as a joke; but it's a sober fact. I never was drunk, but I
came mighty near it that night in Richmond.

Lanyard was familiar with all the best places to "get something," and
took us into a cozy, warm room, where there was a good, cheerful fire
blazing. On one side of the room was the bar--one of those old-fashioned
high counters--but you all know what a bar is like, so I won't attempt a
description of such a place to old soldiers. On this counter was a large
china bowl beautifully decorated on the outside, while within was
floating a mixture that I had never seen before. On inquiry, I was
informed by the bartender, with a significant grin at the Colonel, which
I afterward recalled, that the mixture was Virgina apple-jack.

You don't know what that is? No, I think it has gone out of date, or
perhaps its concoction is one of the lost arts. There were
apples--roasted apples--floating in a sea of foam, that gave forth a
most delightful fragrance. I was curious about the stuff, and being
assured by Lanyard that it was a sort of cooked cider, that was made in
Virginia as a temperance drink for those who were opposed to hard cider,
I, in my unsuspecting innocence, partook of a mug full of the hot stuff.
It was not hard to take, being quite pleasant to the taste, and, the
evening being so cold and wet, I was prevailed upon to poke my nose into
another mug of the apple tea, "just to keep from taking cold."

We all sat down at an adjoining table to await our order of fried
oysters, the two companions becoming quite hilarious over their gin, in
a way, which I recalled afterwards, as quite significant.

The room was quite warm, and, as I began to dry out in its atmosphere, I
became, I thought, too warm, and said as much, which my companions
passed off in their careless way with a laugh.

When I attempted to get on to my feet, for the first time in my life my
head felt a little bit dizzy, and I had to support myself as I stood to
get a proper balance. The table began to move, as if impelled by some
unseen power; in looking up, the fire had grown into three or four
different fires in as many different places; there were several hundred
bottles behind the bar, and realizing in an instant what was coming, I
made a sudden rush for the door, staggering through the room, amid the
laughter of the Colonel and Lanyard, who urged me to sit down; but I had
not yet lost my head, and refused to stop until I got outside, when I
leaned against the door until I cooled off.

It was a close call, but the Federal Spy didn't lose his head in
Richmond that night.



While it may very often become expedient for a spy, while perambulating
in an enemy's country, to drink socially with those with whom he desires
to communicate, it is always a dangerous expedient, because, of all
persons, a spy requires a cool and clear head.

Although these Confederate soldiers, with whom I was that night
associated, had not the slightest suspicion of my true character and
purposes, yet, if I had been made foolishly drunk by them, there is no
telling what my loosened tongue might have done for me. We were--all
three of us--very much "gone" on the enslaved beauty, and under such
softening influences, at this particular time, a very light dose of
Virginia "apple-jack," added to the "Maryland" influence, would have
completely upset us all.

In fact, I was in greater danger of losing my heart than my head. The
beautiful tableau which we had just witnessed, coupled with the presence
of refined and lovely ladies, accompanied by the sweet music of
Maryland, had more effectually intoxicated my senses than the seductive

It will be remembered that in our set was the Lieutenant, who was
supposed to have been a staid married man at home in Maryland, and it
would hardly be fair now to print his desperate efforts to cut out the
boys of his company, simply because he was an officer. We were only able
to defeat his intrigue by bringing to our aid the gallant and handsome
Second Lieutenant, a dark-eyed Mississippi gentleman, but he, with base
ingratitude, took unfair advantage of the opportunities we had afforded
him and used his big black eyes and seductive smiles to capture _our
girl_--and she, the beautiful but uncertain Capitola, the friend of the
Maryland refugees, surrendered to our Mississippi Lieutenant, and there
was great trouble and heart-burning in that Rebel battery ever after.

My undertakings and surroundings in Richmond were not exactly adapted to
the production of humorous or funny effects, but I had lots of fun, all
the same, though I was not sent there for that purpose.

I went about the city during daylight in the garb of a Confederate
soldier, carrying in my pocket the pass of the commanding officer at
Camp Lee, which was furnished me freely through my Maryland Captain's

General Winder, who became afterward notorious as the
Provost-Marshal-General of Richmond and keeper of Libby Prison, was a
Maryland man, and it so happened that he had known our Captain
intimately while the two lived together in Baltimore. This was a most
fortunate circumstance for my schemes, as the first endorsement I had
taken General Winder was of a personal character from his friend, our
Captain, and thereafter I became solid with General Winder as long as I
remained in Richmond.

I was frequently tempted to go home; indeed, I had several times come to
the conclusion, from my own observation, that there was to be no advance
into Maryland, and that I might as well quit and go home; but, again, I
really felt as if I must accomplish _something_ first. I had stayed away
so long, and had done nothing of importance, that I began to feel that
it would be a degradation to crawl back home and have to explain to
every person I knew where I had been and why I had been there.

I wanted to go back when I should be made welcome. I confess right here
that, since our pleasant acquaintance with the ladies of Richmond had
been formed, I was becoming more content to remain longer in exile. The
presence, and particularly the bright smiles and winning ways of our
"Capitola" was a very great attraction.

I did not go about Richmond as a tramp or a peddler, as is the usual
method of spies we read about in novels, but, instead, I personated a
high-toned Maryland youth--dressed myself in the grayest of gray
uniform, adding all the red trimmings that my rank as Corporal
permitted. I rode a good horse, and, in my capacity of Private Secretary
or Orderly to our lame Captain, enjoyed unusual facilities. During the
daytime I took advantage of all these circumstances, and had my eyes
and wits about me, while the night, in the company of our trio, was
usually spent "about town," where I met some of the best people, who
welcomed us to their houses as Marylanders exiled from our homes. I also
encountered among others some of the very worst class of citizens.

As I have before stated, our Captain frequently visited the War Office,
and I was nearly always taken along him, as he, on account of the
stiffness of one of his legs, was unable to mount or dismount his horse
without assistance. I learned, through this association with him, that
the influence which he controlled at headquarters, and which enabled
him--a cripple--to obtain such a good and much-sought-after position in
the army over the heads of others, was derived, in part at least, from
some relationship with Mr. Judah P. Benjamin, the Secretary of War for
the Confederates.

Mr. Benjamin, it will be remembered, was a close friend of Mr. Davis.

As the fall was now well advanced into winter, the weather was daily
becoming colder, the rains were more frequent, and once or twice we had
some signs of snow, and occasionally that most disagreeable of all
weathers--sleet, rain and cold, all at the same time. We understood,
generally, that it was now getting too late in the season for a fall or
winter invasion of Maryland.

I had not learned enough of the art or science of war at that time to
know that there were any seasons for Army operations.

One day, while standing in the hall door of the War Department Office,
waiting, as was my custom, for the Captain to come around, I was aroused
from the indifference, which had grown upon me, by overhearing two
persons, who were passing me, talking together excitedly about Fort
Pickens and Pensacola. As we had been hearing nothing at all about Fort
Pickens during these summer and fall months, I had almost made up mind
that the place had been overlooked.

As may be imagined, I was not anxious on my own account to have the
subject revived during my stay in Richmond. When I heard the word
"Pickens," which to my ears was like a shot in the rear, I was instantly
on the alert, and watched most eagerly the movements of the two
gentlemen, whose discussion had attracted my attention. They passed
along out of the building and together walked up the street and were
gone out of my sight. It was evident from their not paying any attention
to my presence, that their conversation about Pickens did not have any
reference to me or my connection with the affairs.

I felt the least bit uneasy, however, and, while I stood about the War
Office in Richmond that day, the terrible thought passed through my
brain, "Had I in any manner given myself away, and was I being taken to
the Department by our Captain for the purpose of entrapping or
identifying me?"

It does not take very long for these dreadful thoughts to get possession
of one's brain, and they do grow most wonderfully into the wildest fears
and fancies in less time than it takes to write the words that will
explain the incident. I waited and watched most anxiously about the
square in front of the office, where our horses were tied, for the
appearance of our Captain. He was not in the building at that time, I
learned upon inquiring of some of the clerks. He was most likely further
down town, or with General Winder. It was our custom to hitch our horses
at this same place every day, when, after dismounting, the Captain went
his way, while I did as I pleased also, it being understood always that
at or near a certain time we were to remount at this place and together
return to Camp Lee.

That evening he was unusually late getting around, and when I saw him
limping along, his cane pounding the pavement with more than ordinary
vigor, I knew I should have to lift the old man bodily on to his horse.
He was always more communicative at such times, and ready to tell all
that he had learned during the day. To my own surprise I blurted out,
without thinking of my words, so engrossed was my mind on this subject,
as if determined to hear the worst at once:

"How about Fort Pickens?"

"Oh," he growled out in his thick, guttural tones, "the Yankees have
opened fire on our fellows from that damned Fort Pickens."

"Is that all," said I, with great a sigh of relief, which he must have
noticed had he been sober enough.

"That's enough, ain't it? The President and the Secretary are both
disgusted with General Bragg for not capturing the damn place last

"Too bad!" my thoughts were, though I did not dare express them. I had
prevented the capture of Fort Pickens in April.

As we rode along in silence for the remainder of the way out to camp, I
had the opportunity to recall the Fort Pickens service, and I wondered
and planned in my own mind just how that duel would be carried on there.
I should have liked so much to have witnessed the booming of guns from
Pickens, and the exploding of the great shells over the exact spots in
which I had located the masked Rebel batteries down there.

My fears having been relieved by this explanation of the conversation I
had overheard, I felt very much as if I'd like to go off by myself and
yell for the old flag, just once, but I dare not; I must continue to
suffer and enjoy, in the silence, that was becoming almost a second
nature to me.

It will be remembered that I had been at Montgomery, Alabama, at about
the time the provisional Government of Jeff Davis was being initiated at
that place. I was at the same hotel for about a week at which Mr. Davis
then occupied rooms. I had several times been close to his
person--indeed, so near that I was able to overhear the conversation in
which he always seemed to be engaged.

Through the fortunes of war, and an adventurous, reckless disposition, I
was again, in the winter of the same year, at the Capitol of the Rebel
Government in Richmond, Virginia, in a position to witness the formal
inauguration of Mr. Jeff Davis as President of the "permanent"
Government of the Confederate States of America, for the term of six

I saw Mr. Davis inaugurated, attended his public reception on the same
evening, and, with all the rest of the callers, I was introduced to him,
shook his hand, looked into his one eye, and passed out into the darkest
night that I ever remember to have seen. The inauguration ceremonies
were intended to be imposing.

We all know now that, even at the early stage of the war, there was much
serious trouble among the Confederate leaders. During my experience
among them there was scarcely a day that I did not hear expressions of
discontent, and witness other evidences of a bitter feeling between the
extreme Southern men and what they termed "Virginia Yankees."

My observations were, of course, principally among the rank and file,
but I had also an eye and an ear for what was occurring among the higher
classes. Though they were able to conceal their bickerings at the time,
to a certain extent, we all know now, from the testimony of such men as
Generals Joe Johnston, Beauregard and Longstreet, that there were always
the smoldering embers of a volcano in the very heart of the Rebellion,
and this cause alone would have prevented their success in the end, even
if General Grant and the Army of the Potomac had been defeated in the

Though Mr. Davis had been elected President without any contest, the
fact remains that there had been hostile opposition to him from various
sources, probably the most noted being that of Howell Cobb. We, of the
Maryland Battery, were given to understand by our Captain that we would
be expected to do our share, individually and collectively, in making
the inauguration a success.

The Secretary of War was a personal friend of our Captain, as will be
remembered, and we all know now, if we did not suspect it then, that Mr.
Benjamin was the Mephistopheles of Mr. Davis' Cabinet, such was the
peculiar character of his services to his chief.

Of course, we were all glad enough of an opportunity to display
ourselves in Richmond as Marylanders who were exiled from home; we had
been accustomed to receive the "ovations" of our Richmond lady friends,
and we were all glad enough of another opportunity to secure all the
attention we could command from them.

There were some fears, too, that the inauguration might be of such a
quiet character as to reflect somewhat, in this way, upon the
administration of Mr. Davis. In brief, Mr. Benjamin and our side were to
take an active part in making it a "popular" ovation. I was in for this,
as I had been for anything at all that would add a little spice to the
daily routine of camp life, that was becoming tiresome to me.

A couple of days previous to the inauguration day, we were all kept
pretty busy drilling our awkward squad in marching and in burnishing up
our uniforms. We had received no arms as yet. The one old condemned iron
cannon we were using to practice on was all that we refugees could boast
of in the way of arms, for the proposed invasion of Maryland.

The trio before mentioned had been dubbed the "Three roguish chaps
together," comprised the Colonel (our Sergeant), Lanyard, the sailor,
and myself had promised the Captain our hearty coöperation. We
determined to assist him and his friends in every way we could in
"creating a demonstration," leaving for ourselves the evening following
the reception of the President.

The eventful morning came at last, ushered in by a slowly-drizzling,
cold rain. Indeed it promised about as inauspicious for a street display
as could have been imagined. Later in the day the rain increased, and
about the hour set for the ceremonies it had settled down to a steady

It was, indeed, a dreary day in Richmond overhead as well as under foot.
We marched to the city through slop and mud, that added to our personal
misery and discomfiture, as well as it detracted from our intended gay

The ceremony took place in the Capitol Grounds--a stand had been erected
in the neighborhood of the Henry Clay statue. On account of the pouring
rain, it was necessary at almost the last hour for a gang of workingmen
to erect a temporary roof or shelter over the place from which Mr. Davis
was to deliver his inaugural address.

I did not get to hear a word of it, but I was not caring a scrap about
it just then. I saw Mr. Davis, though, through all the proceedings--we
were stationed at some distance down the hill and looked up over a sea
of umbrellas.

After the ceremony was over, we three were permitted by our Captain to
remain in town, and the trio at once found shelter in the same
comfortable restaurant in which I had first tasted the apple-jack. Here
we were permitted to dry out our wet clothing and enjoy a good
old-fashioned Virginia dinner, which mine host had prepared in honor of
the day. The great china punch-bowl was still on the high bar, filled
almost to the brim with the sweet-smelling, seductive apple-jack, in
which floated some roast apples, which were garnished with cloves, so
they looked like great pine balls, but I felt that they were as
dangerous as porcupines.

I was urged to drink several times indeed, but one taste was enough for
me. The landlord was rather hurt, or pretended to be, that I should
refuse to accept from his own hands the courteously proffered mug of
the delicious compound, to be drunk in honor of the day, etc.

The Colonel, who had been such a good friend since we had met while I
was sick in the hotel, had formed apparently the utmost confidence in
me. In fact, our relations became of the most intimate character, as far
as was possible between any two persons who were so unlike in
disposition and purposes. The Colonel was my senior by several years;
perhaps, because of this, or maybe from the fact that he had nursed me
out from my illness and led me into the company, I felt that he had an
oversight or care over me, and acted toward me in the kindly way of an
elder brother.

In the love affairs, in which we all became so absurdly mixed up with
our Maryland slave, Capitola, the Colonel had taken it upon himself to
act in my behalf and for my good. I had taken him into my confidence
about Capitola, and told him all about my trouble in that direction; how
our officers had taken undue advantage of their uniform to cut me out,
etc. He agreed with me that it was an "outrage," and admitted, with a
smile, that I now recall as significant, that it was due entirely to the

I had accepted his offer to make things all right for me. I had
consented most reluctantly to the Colonel's disinterested and brotherly
advice--not to have anything more to do with Capitola.

On inauguration day, being in town and feeling in pretty good trim, I
yielded to the impulse, and concluded to meet Capitola just once more,
to say "Good-by," provided I could do so without letting the Colonel
find it out.

While trying to fix up a scheme to get away from him and Lanyard that
afternoon, so that I might make the proposed call undetained, I was
delighted to hear the Colonel ask Lanyard and I, to excuse him for a
couple of hours, as he had an important engagement with the Lieutenant
that afternoon--business must be attended to.

I was not long in getting away from Lanyard, and quickly skipped around
to the well known residence of our Capitola. She surprised me by meeting
me cordially and, all in one breath, demanded to know why I had stayed
away so long.

"Why," she said, in her smiling, innocent way, "all the rest of your
boys have been to call on us."

"Indeed," thought I; and when I had sufficiently recovered to ask who
had been there since I had been gone, she smilingly said:

"Why, your friend, the Colonel, calls frequently; also that Mississippi
Lieutenant of yours. Isn't he just too nice?"

This was not exactly what I expected or desired to hear from Capitola,
but it was enough. The Colonel, my brotherly friend, was deceiving me,
too. One purpose of my visit had been to request her company to the
reception at the President's that evening. I had formed the impression
that it would be a great scheme for the Spy to escort the Maryland slave
to Jeff Davis' reception. When I had intimated the object of my visit,
she burst into a hearty laugh as she said, cheerily:

"Oh, that is too funny. I believe every soldier from Maryland in your
company has made that request already, and I had to decline them all,
because I had engaged to go with the Lieutenant, you know."

I was preparing to take my leave when the door bell rang. After a few
more words and a sad "Good-by" to Capitola, I was about to leave the
room when I ran against my disinterested, brotherly Colonel, who had
been trying to replace himself in the affections of my girl--while
advising me to stay away. He was not at all embarrassed, but at once
broke out into a hearty laugh, and, pulling me over to a sofa, we had a
talk about the affair, which amused Capitola so much that her merry
laughter rang through the house as she gathered the situation from our

The Colonel proposed going out with me, but I noticed that he had
cunningly slipped Capitola to one side and whispered in her ear
something which had the effect of causing her cheery laughter to break
out in a fresh place. She rushed over to me and, placing both hands on
my shoulder, said:

"There is another--he wants me to go with _him_ to the reception."

So I had my turn to laugh on the Colonel. We were about to leave.
Capitola, smiling, suggested that we march the whole company down to her
house and she should go along with all of us--as the _Fille de

Despite the weather and some gloomy forebodings of friends, the
reception of President Jeff Davis was a success--in the way of a crowd,
at least. It seemed to me at the time that everybody was there. There
were all kinds of people present during the evening--the very best class
of the citizens of Richmond and, perhaps, some of the very worst
element, along with the numerous army officers and soldiers.

Richmond, in the winter of 1861, may justly be termed, at that time, the
wickedest city in America. Adventurous gamblers and bad citizens of
every conceivable description had flocked to the Rebel Capital from New
Orleans and all parts of the South and North. One portion of Main street
was abandoned almost wholly to gambling houses, which, at night, were
inhabited by the worst kind of characters, in Rebel uniforms. These
people and their associates, who were in the city for sport and to ply
their vocations, flocked in great numbers to all places where crowds
were gathered, such as theatres, receptions, etc.

The Mayor of the city, a Mr. Mayo--whose name I remember so well because
it lacked but the final letter "r" to spell the name and position in the
same word--was a dignified, gray-haired, old Virginia gentleman, who did
the best he could to preserve the peace and order of the city. I saw him
frequently on the street and at the City Hall, on Broad street. I never
had any dealings with him in his official capacity that prevents my
bearing this testimony to his good intentions. He was on hand at the
reception, as the city official, as was also Governor Letcher, who was
another Virginia gentleman and official who I can remember with feeling
of respect. General Winder, who had been a police inspector, or
something of the kind, in Baltimore, was, in reality, the Governor, the
Mayor, and the Provost-Marshal combined in one, as well as Military
Governor, with absolute authority from the Confederate Government. He
had, as a Baltimorean, imported into Richmond a number of the Baltimore
ex-police, or plug-uglies, whom he had employed as special detectives in
his service.

We went to the President's house together, early; and we stayed around
the neighborhood as long as we could stand the storm, in hope of getting
a sight of Claiborne and Capitola.

The Colonel and I took our places in the line, to be presented in our
turn. I had some slight misgivings on the outcome of this adventure,
because I knew that Mr. Davis had frequently seen me while in Montgomery
with him, and I feared that the subsequent notoriety I had obtained
from the Fort Pickens episode would have served to have placed me in his
mind. It will be remembered, too, that the press all over the South, as
well as the North, had fully described my visit from Montgomery to
Pensacola. So, it was with something of a nervous quivering at the heart
that I saw myself being slowly advanced to the President. I watched his
face closely from my place in the line before I reached him, and saw him
courteously and smilingly take each one by the hand as he was presented.

As I have said before, Mr. Davis' face was thin--his cheeks somewhat
sunken. His pictures do not properly represent his face, as it was only
when he smiled and spoke in his low, soft, gentle manner, that he was so
fascinating to those who knew him best.

He was, of course, severe and unbending to his enemies, but he was
always the same to friends.

The Colonel was ahead of me, and, as his name was mentioned, he said to
Mr. Davis, as he turned to me:

"A couple of Maryland boys have come to pay their respects to you, Mr.

Mr. Davis held his hand for a moment, saying, pleasantly, to the

"Why, I'm right glad to see you."

At the same time he reached his other hand to me, and, for a moment, he
grasped us each with a hand saying, as he looked at me with that one
mighty bright eye:

"I'm glad to see you both."

We passed on, my heart fluttering terribly; but, once, in the crowd
again, I felt that I had passed another danger. We lingered in the crowd
for a short time; saw all who came and left in that time, and not being
able longer to stand the storm, while waiting for a glimpse of Capitola,
I turned away from the crowd into the darkness of a stormy night and
wandered out to camp, so much absorbed in my own thoughts that I lost
all care for my appearance--trudging blindly along through the darkness
into the mud and slush until I reached camp, tired, where I quickly
tumbled into the bunk and was quickly lost to all consciousness of the
day's doing.



From the subsequent questionings of our people North about how things
looked in Richmond during the war, I gathered that they all entertained
erroneous impressions about the conditions of affairs in that city at
that time. I have been trying to describe them from a Unionist's
standpoint. Though it had been in a state of siege at the time of which
I write, and was apparently cut off from the balance of the world for a
year, yet there was absolutely nothing in the general appearance of
things in the streets to indicate that the city suffered in the least
from the blockade.

It may be said that Richmond was very much like Washington at the same
period, the principal difference being that the soldiers who thronged
the streets and filled the saloons and houses of one city were in a gray
uniform, while those in the other wore a blue. There was probably more
of the blue boys loose in Washington than of the gray in Richmond,
because the Confederate officials and, particularly,
Provost-Marshal-General Winder, of Maryland, was able, with the despotic
power granted him by the War Office, to prevent a great deal of

The weather was now settled into the regular Virginia winter,
alternating into rain, snow, slush and sleet. Under these conditions it
was impossible for either army to move, and, as a consequence, the city
was soon filled full of officers from Manassas, who were on leave from
their command, or of soldiers on furlough, or straggling deserters. No
one will attempt to claim that the city at this time was orderly; in
fact, the oldest citizens are ready to assert, even now, that, during
the early winter months, the respectable portion of the community were
in truth besieged in their own houses. It was scarcely safe for a lady
to venture alone in certain portions of the town during the daytime,
while at night the straggling furloughed officers and soldiers, under
such conditions, on the same equality, had entire possession in the
streets and certain parts of the city.

There was apparently no scarcity of money--such as it was--and there was
not, that I can recall, any limit of the supply of whisky and all the
other little attachments that the soldiers either in gray or in blue
will have.

Main street, 1886, looked to me very much as it did in 1861 and 1862,
except, perhaps, that on the occasion of my last visit the city
presented to my eye somewhat the appearance of Sunday, in its general
orderly and quiet bearing, as compared with the noisy, boisterous crowds
that we saw on the streets daily in 1861 and 1862.

Camp Lee was on that side of the city furthest from the Libby Prison and
Rockett's Wharf, and those places in the neighborhood of which I had
spent most of my time in the first days of my visit, after recovering
from my illness.

I had neglected to visit my early friends, the guard at Libby during
these later days, because of the long distance of our camps from them,
and not that I had forgotten or lost interest in our prisoners at Libby.

One Sunday morning, the weather being rather more agreeable than any we
had enjoyed for some days previously, I obtained permission and a pass
from our Captain to go to the city early in the day to attend church.
The Captain pleasantly granted the request. Some of the officers, who
were near by when I asked the privilege of attending church, facetiously
recommended the Captain not to refuse anything that would tend to
improve the morals of his corporal or clerk. I went off alone on foot,
intending to make a visit to the prisoners before I should return.

Perhaps I may have been feeling a little bit homesick and disgusted with
Richmond on this Sunday morning, because on the evening previous our
beautiful Capitola had--to put it vulgarly--gone back on me for our

I walked into the city via Franklin street, which is the aristocratic
residence street of Richmond. There are on this thoroughfare some old
Virginia homes and families that the city and State may well be proud
of. General Lee's family lived on this street in a large, plain, double
brick house, on the south side, one or two blocks from the Capitol
Grounds. The house is quite ordinary-looking as compared with that of
some of the large private residences in the neighborhood, but it will
always remain to Southern people one of the historic houses of their
city, because it was here on the street, on a Sunday morning after the
surrender, that General Lee, accompanied by a few members of his staff,
rode up to his door, dismounted from his war horse--Traveler--and, with
a silent wave of the hand, parted with his personal staff, entered his
house and closed the doors forever on his hopes of a Confederacy.

It is not written what occurred behind the closed doors, but there is
gossip, which has, perhaps, been confirmed, that the staid, reserved,
dignified old General, once inside his own hall at his home, completely
broke down and fell to the floor, from which he was carried to his bed
by the servants and that part of his family who were present.

The home of General Lee is more sought out by tourists in Richmond
nowadays than is that of President Jeff Davis.

A block below, or nearest the Capitol, and directly opposite the
grounds, stands St. Paul's Episcopal Church, in which both President
Davis and General Lee worshiped. On the Sunday morning of which I am
writing, in 1861, I took a position at the Fountain Hotel, directly
opposite the church, to await the arrival of President Davis. There had
been a good bit of talk about Mr. Davis' intentions of joining this
church. Though he was a regular attendant during his early days in
Richmond, it was not until some months after--and, I think, during the
day of which I write--that he was formally baptized and confirmed into
that church.

I did not have to wait long for the appearance of Mr. Davis. He came on
to the steps so suddenly that I nearly missed seeing him. He was alone,
and dressed in his usual plain way--had walked up from the direction of
his office, when I had looked for him coming down through the grounds
from his house. He spoke pleasantly to the few people whom he passed on
his way, and disappeared inside the church.

Mr. Davis, whatever may be said of his public character, and a great
deal has been written against him by his own Southern people, always
impressed me at sight as being an agreeable, honest gentleman. I was
frequently close to him, and always felt his presence, impressed with
the feeling that he was having a great deal of serious trouble. I have
often wondered if Mr. Davis ever entertained, for a moment even, the
thought or fear that his life was in danger. I hope he may live long,
and perhaps read the poor story of the Yankee Spy, who dogged his very
footsteps in Richmond from after the battle of Bull Run until the winter
following, and prevented any attempt at invasion of the North.

After the President had entered the Church, I lounged outside while the
great organ gave the beautiful Sunday morning an impressive salute. When
the tones had died away, feeling more homesick and blue than ever, I
started off on my walk down Main street toward the Libby and the
Warehouse prisons. As Libby is in the lower end of the city pretty close
to Rockett's Wharf, it was a long walk, though it was Sunday, and the
shops along the way were open and dispensing refreshments to the crowds.

My early Rebel friend was not on guard that morning, but some of his
friends said he would be around after dinner, so, under pretense of
waiting for him, I sat around in such shape that I could get a good view
of the "animals" as they called the prisoners.

The tobacco warehouses in which the prisoners were confined have been so
often described that any attempt of mine would be superfluous. It will
be remembered, however, that, even before the war, all these large
barn-like buildings were constructed pretty much after the form of our
modern bonded warehouses. All the windows were made with iron bars,
presenting the appearance of cages.

Groups of our poor fellows were easily to be seen through the bars, some
of them having become pretty ragged; others were standing by the windows
peering through the bars; a few walked or promenaded in pairs up and
down the large barn-like floors. There were always two sentries and an
officer at the main door, while on the pavement in front other sentries
paced their silent beats, so that it was impossible for me to have any
communication with them.

I desired for a particular reason to ascertain the names of some of the
prisoners, and, if possible, to get the address of their friends in the
North, that I might test my mail communication, by sending some word
direct to them. Perhaps, for my own good, I was not successful.

I may be permitted to say here that, in case we had another war, the
benefit of the Signal Service Code will be made apparent in this, that a
silent communication may be carried on between friends of the same side
under just precisely such conditions as I have described here.

If there had been a prisoner inside the bars who had been familiar with
the Telegraph Code, as adapted to the motions of the hand, I could have
spelled out over the head of the guard, without his knowledge, quite as
rapidly as I can write it, messages that would have been a relief and
pleasure to the prisoners inside, if not otherwise beneficial.

It was while standing in front of the Warehouse Prison, on Main street,
thinking and planning over the possibilities in this direction, looking
intently, from where I stood on the inside of the pavement, through the
windows at the prisoners, that I felt a slap on my back that caused me
to jump like an india-rubber ball. The voice, which was not a familiar
one, said, loudly enough for even the prisoners to hear, using my own,
my right name:

"Hello, Blank!"

When I turned to see who had "struck" me, I am sure that I presented a
very flushed and, perhaps, angry face. I did not at once recognize the
person, probably because he was in a gray uniform, but the smiling face
of his companion, in the full black beard, I at once recognized as
Doctor ----, of San Marcos, Texas, whom I had known familiarly as the
young son of my uncle's neighbor.

I saw that I was caught at last, as I fully believed, and determined to
make the most of my short time.

The tall young fellow, who had first approached me, I was able to
recall, as the doctor mentioned his name and a visit we had made
together to his house.

I was assured somewhat, and recovered from my surprise by the doctor
extending his hand, and in the most agreeable and hearty manner, said:

"Well, Blank, I'm damn glad to see you are on the right side."

I hardly knew what to say to them, the surprise was so great, but this
remark served to bring me to my senses, and I replied in a somewhat
embarrassed manner, by asking what they were doing in Richmond?

"Oh! we are all here. Our regiment is encamped just out here. We have
been in town to church, but are going out to camp now." Then taking my
arm, familiarly, said: "Come along, the boys will all be glad to see

Their invitation was so cordial, and I was being urged with such
earnestness to join them, that I could see at once that they did not
suspect my true character. It was evident that neither of them had heard
of my Fort Pickens affair.

The one difficulty I saw before me in renewing this Texas acquaintance
was, that I should have to represent in Richmond two different
characters, under the two different names. I might be able to keep up
this dual character if the two crowds were distinct or separated, but
there was, of course, a great risk in this.

I did not, under any circumstances, want to become known by the name in
Richmond by which I had been so widely published as the Pensacola Spy.
All the Rebel detective force, which was made up principally of
Baltimore police and detectives imported by General Winder, had
undoubtedly been furnished with instructions to look after spies, and
perhaps I had been specially honored by their notice as being the first
on record during the war.

But I could not well resist the demand to accompany these two Texas boys
out to their camp; and when they suggested that I _must_ see my old
friends from Texas, and seemed to take it as an affront that I should
hesitate, there seemed to be no way out of it--especially as they had
proposed furnishing me a horse to return to my own camp in the evening.

I reluctantly started to walk out to their camp, talking familiarly and
cordially on the way, as they did about their delight at finding me on
the "right" side. I could not entertain the thought that these
honest-hearted Texan youths, who had never before been so far from home,
were capable of any trick--they were sincerely glad to see me. I felt
instinctively that they were old friends and neighbors of my Texas
uncle, who did not suspect me of being a Yankee Spy.

The road to the camp of the Texans led in the direction of Seven Pines
(or Fair Oaks), where Johnston attacked McClellan's left in the
following May, and the camp itself was not far from that point.

As we tramped along a pleasant chat was kept up, and though I was on the
alert to hear if any suspicion attached to me for the Fort Pickens
matter, nothing was said to indicate that either one had ever heard of
the affair. They were, undoubtedly, sincere in their cordiality, and
only desired to gratify their companions in camp with their success in
having found one whom they all knew, so far away from their Texas homes.

In the talk, I gathered that one company in their regiment came from the
neighborhood in which my uncle lived, and was composed principally of
the very set of young fellows with whom I had been associated there only
the previous winter. They gave me the names of a good many of the boys,
and amused me with the accounts of the journey they had made from Texas
to Virginia in search of the war. The fact of my having an uncle in the
South would of itself have been sufficient indorsement for my "loyalty"
with most of these fellows, but I recalled to myself that, while amongst
them in Texas, I had got into trouble several times by my outspoken
Northern sentiments during the Presidential campaign, which was then
going on. The doctor probably referred to this when he congratulated me
so heartily on having found me on the right side.

We finally reached the camp. I was marched up to the company quarters,
and was generally recognized by the boys, who were as sincerely glad to
see me as if I was just from their home. I was at home among
them--everything was all right there, and I enjoyed renewing the
friendship of a year previous. Among the boys was one fellow, to whom I
referred in the introduction of this story, as having a difficulty
with--the grandson of David Crockett, the hero of the Alamo. Young
Crockett, like most of his class, had been taught to presume a little on
the glory of his ancestors. This had made him somewhat personally
disagreeable to his associates; but he kept away from me that day.

I remained in camp until after dress parade. It was a regiment of as
fine a looking set of truly American men and boys as I have ever seen in
either army. Their war record, as the Texas Rangers, will bear me out in
this opinion. Their Colonel was afterward the famous General John B.

I was urged to stay for camp dinner. The boys, with whom I had so often
before been in camps in Texas, while "rounding up" their stock, were all
well up to the use of the camp-kettles and pots, and, with the
advantages of the city close by them, they were able to get up in good
style, first-class shape, one of the good old-style Western Texas
dinners. We were having a good time all around. I was being urged to get
a release from my Maryland Battery and join the Texas Brigade.

I saw that I could not very well keep up this dual character, the very
cordiality of these fellows would lead to their visiting me up in the
Maryland Battery, and, once there, things would become badly mixed up. I
would never be able to explain to these Maryland fellows that I was in
reality another fellow altogether, and it would cause some confusion in
the Texas camp to have to explain the other way to my Texas friends.

These thoughts, however, detracted but little from the pleasure of my
visit, for, as I felt that somehow or other I would get out of the
difficulty, I did not concern myself for a moment.

It was a mistake to have accompanied the Texans to their camp. It was,
to say the least, when there, very indiscreet to place myself on
exhibition among the hundreds of other spectators who were grouped in
front of the Texas regiment while they were having their Sunday dress

In the society of the earnest and cordial Texas acquaintances whom I had
found--or who had found me--I had wholly overlooked the little
circumstance that had occurred during the night at the theater, when, it
will be remembered, I had been pleasantly approached after the dismissal
by a couple of Confederates who said they had met me in Texas the
preceding winter. I was then that evening in the company of the Colonel,
who knew me only as a Marylander, and by an entirely different name than
that by which the Texans addressed me, and it will be remembered that I
then declined to be recognized as ----, and had, perhaps, rather curtly
repelled their courteous advances.

As I sat at camp dinner on an improvised bench in front of the tent with
my friends, with consternation I saw approaching me the very chap whom I
had snubbed in the vestibule of the theater. The appearance of this tall
fellow at the time, in his gray clothes, had about such an effect on me
at the dinner table in that company in broad daylight as a ghost might
produce when alone somewhere near midnight. He had his staring eyes
fixed right on me. There was no mistaking it.

My dangerous predicament rushed to my mind at once. Luckily for me,
perhaps, we were all seated at the table, so the fellow had politeness
enough not to intrude himself upon the crowd, but walked on past us
keeping his eye searchingly, and I felt sternly, fixed on me. I lost my
appetite, which a moment previously was ravenous, and, as soon as I
could decently do so, meekly suggested that, as I had a long way to go,
I'd better leave them at once.

"O, no; we are going to escort you back to your camp on a horse, as we
agreed to do."

That was very kind, of course, but if there was any one thing that I did
not want to happen just then, was any farther attention to be paid to
their guest. I declined the proffered kindness with so much earnestness
that it might have had the effect of quieting the matter had not one of
the fellows observed:

"Well, I'm going to town to-night anyway, and you can wait awhile and
ride that far."

I have no doubt that the conversation between myself and the Texas
Confederates that evening (in the light of subsequent events), would be
interesting to any of them yet living who may see this narrative, and if
I were able to put it down here in detail it might also be interesting
to the ordinary reader.

I remember all that occurred during the half hour that followed the
dinner hour. Could I forget that banquet?

While my newly-found old friends were arranging among themselves a
programme to spend the evening in Richmond with me as their guide, my
searching glances detected that my tall theatre acquaintance had
gathered a group of half a dozen of his comrades around himself, and, as
I imagined, he was earnestly explaining to them his experience with me
at the theatre door.

Of course, I must have imagined the worst; who would not have done so
under the same conditions? He probably did not suspect my true character
at all, and was, perhaps, only entertaining his associates with an
account of what he, no doubt, termed the shabby treatment that I had
accorded him, as compared with what he was witnessing in my intercourse
with the other boys. It had, however, another dangerous effect of
calling the attention of a great many of the regiment to their visiting
comrade in gray--the Maryland refugee--who was, by a stretch of the
imagination, almost as far from home as were the Texans, because, as
they said, in their sympathetic way, when speaking of their absence and
distance from home:

"We can get home if we have occasion to go, but you cannot, because, you
live in a foreign country that's at war with us, you know."

While talking together, the doctor came up to the group of which I was
the center, and remarked in a half-quizzical way, his face wearing a
smiling expression:

"Say, Blank, Jim Haws says he met you one night at the theatre, and you
wouldn't speak to him."

Right here I made another mistake that day, by denying that I had
refused to speak to any one.

"That's what I told him, but he swears that he and Bill Williams both
saw you there."

I realized that I had again put my foot into it; but, I suppose, on the
principle that a lie well stuck to will answer for the truth, I
deliberately thrust myself deeper into the mire by insisting that I had
not met any one at the theatre. This was satisfactory to the friends
near me, who had become somewhat interested in the talk, and it all
might have passed off without any further questioning or investigation
if my former enemy, Davy Crockett, Jr., had not meddled with the affair.
He had, as it subsequently appeared, been volunteering his sympathies
and comments unfavorable to me to the two comrades whose story of the
"insult" at the theatre had reached him. Of course, the motive that
prompted young Crockett was simply a desire to get even with me, for
presuming to promptly accept a challenge from him while in Texas to
fight a duel.

As I have said, the one thing that I most desired just at that time was
to get away from that crowd. If this intention had not been so fixed in
my mind, or if I had at all thought of being delayed, perhaps I should
have conducted myself with more discretion, and not have committed the
blunder of denying a matter that would so soon and so surely react on me
and endanger my life.

When we were about ready to leave the camp, and as I was flattering
myself that once out of sight I should be out of mind, and have another
opportunity to get away, I was confronted by the identical Jim Haws, who
had brought to our part of the camp "a few friends," among whom was
Billy Williams. In a voice trembling with suppressed rage, he said,
looking savagely at me:

"Didn't you see me at the theater the other night?"

I have before stated, not with egotism, but as an explanation for some
of my statements, that it is or has been one of my good points to always
have been able to meet a sudden danger coolly, while at the same time I
confess that I would tremble with apprehension and fear if I were
anticipating or expecting the same danger.

Looking him straight in the eye--for I was _riled_ by his savage
manner--I answered, resentfully and boldly:

"I don't know whether I did or not. I've seen so many fellows like you
around town that I've not minded them much."

For the moment my defiant manner served to give me the advantage, and
the fellow was so badly stumped that he couldn't answer at once, but
turning to his friend and companion, Williams, whom he had brought along
as a witness to prove to the boys that he was right in his assertion of
my having insulted him, he said:

"Bill, ain't he the fellow?"

Whether it was a disposition on the part of Bill to prevent any outbreak
(a crowd was collecting), he mildly answered:

"Well, it looks mighty much like him, but you know we might be
mistaken," and, turning to me, said, politely:

"My friend felt sure you were the man we met that night, but, as I had
never seen you at home, and it was so dark and crowded there, I can't be
certain myself."

At this stage, while I had become too much excited to talk coolly, my
friends stepped in and interfered in my behalf, and Bill and Jim walked
off with their friends, the latter muttering threats of vengeance.

The little ruffle on the surface, which looked like a "difficulty" on
this quiet Sunday evening, created quite a commotion about the quarters.
All know how quickly a fight will gather a crowd in camp, and how soon
the officers become aware of it.

The serious part of this threatened fight was in the fact, that it
served to call general attention to me individually--would bring to the
scene not only the officer of the day, but other officers of the
regiment, who had been attracted by the gathering crowd.

[Illustration: "BILL, AIN'T HE THE FELLOW?"]

Explanations followed freely in our own crowd, to the effect that it was
a case of mistaken identity, which was generally accepted
good-naturedly. The fact that I was a visitor, and a friend of some of
the best men in the regiment, who were ready to vouch for me (as the
"Nephew of my Uncle")--had been inhospitably or ungenerously treated by
any of their men while a guest--had the effect on these good,
generous-hearted boys of completely turning the tide of feeling to
sympathy for me. In the general exchange of courtesies, which resulted
from the officers coming down to see us, it so happened that I was
introduced to a Captain Somebody, who, not hearing distinctly, had asked
for my name a second time, and on my repeating it with some little pride
on my uncle's account, he said, turning to his companion, who was also
an officer:

"Why, isn't that the name of the Yankee Spy that was at Pensacola?"

I have often, often thought, in the years that have since passed, of
that one terrible moment of my life. Here I was just emerging from one
difficulty, resulting from my dual character as a spy, while I was in
Richmond, and on the precipice of another greater danger directly in my
path. A single word improperly spoken at that time would have condemned
me to the scaffold in _less than_ twenty-four hours.

I felt for the moment that the fates were against me and determined to
crush me at last. Realizing that the mere reöpening of my difficulty
with the Texas boys must now result in an investigation, and that would
lead in the one direction, only to the gallows, I said nothing. Perhaps
I was too much stunned for an instant to speak; but I have often thought
that my flushed face was misinterpreted by those who must have seen it
to indicate resentment at the coupling of my name in such a way.

My friend, the doctor, relieved my temporary embarrassment by speaking
up for me, saying, in a laughable way that seemed to change the subject:

"Come on, let us get away from here, or somebody will swear they saw you
some place else."

Thus relieved, I quietly suggested to the Captain that I had been
wearing a gray uniform up in Virginia since I left Texas.

I was again temporarily out of danger and breathed a little freer, but
became nervously anxious to get away, and hurried up the boys who were
to accompany me into town.

While still talking to these officers, the younger one, to whom the
Captain had addressed the inquiry as to the name of the Pensacola Spy,
incidentally volunteered the information that their company, which was a
part of the regiment, had been organized about Galveston in the early
days of April and May, and, while waiting for the enlistment of the
regiment's full quota, they had been ordered to New Orleans, and from
thence were assigned to duty at Pensacola, Florida, and _were actually
there about the time_ of my adventure to Fort Pickens.

I did not feel like pursuing the conversation much further in that
direction. I quickly changed the subject, so as to make an impression on
their minds that I had been in active service in Virginia right along.
This was not difficult, and I had the satisfaction of seeing that my
gray uniform had been of service again. It saved my bacon that day,

It seemed, in my nervousness, that the boys would never get ready to
leave camp for town. When I learned the delay was caused by some
disappointment about securing enough horses for all who wanted to go
along, I urged with much earnestness that horses would only be an
encumbrance--that we could easily walk and have more fun if not
encumbered with their care. They abandoned them reluctantly, as a Texan
thinks he can not go a square without a horse. We all started off at
last, light-footed. There was not one of that crowd of hearty boys who
walked out of that camp in the gloaming of that Sunday evening who
suspected my true character. My heart was heavy enough as I walked along
with them, brooding inwardly over the troubles which I saw must result
from this Sunday visit; but my feet were light, and I verily believe
that I could have double-quicked it all night in almost any direction
that would lead me away from there.

I dared not take any of these boys to our Maryland Battery and introduce
them to my friends there, who knew me as a different person. They were,
for this time, only expecting to put in a night sky-larking in
Richmond, but I knew very well the time would come--very soon, too--when
I must expect a return visit from them. I realized, too, that in the
meantime my old enemy, Davy Crockett, would keep stirring up the two
boys who had been only temporarily put down; and if the Captain could
hear of their story, and be made to believe that I was playing double
with them, it would surely awaken his Pensacola recollections and direct
his attention to me. So I did not want to see anybody from Texas any

In attempting two different characters on the one day, in Richmond, I
ran a foolish risk, and had probably stirred up an investigation that
would be fatal to me. This was about the situation of affairs on this
Sunday evening, when I was actually reckless enough to risk again mixing
myself up, by acting as a guide or cicerone to a party of Rebel soldiers
about their own Capital at night for fun. Notwithstanding the previous
encounters, I enjoyed the night off fully as much as any of the boys of
the crowd.

I was somewhat heavy-hearted when we first left the Texas camp, but the
hearty, joyous, unsuspecting behavior of the crowd had the effect of
reassuring me, as it were; and seeing that they, at least, would stand
by me in their own camp, I entered with them into the spirit of the fun
in such a way that I am surprised at myself when I think of it now.

We walked into town over what is known as Church Hill, above Rockett's,
on the road leading out to Seven Pines and Fair Oaks.

It was about dark when we reached the colored settlement in the
outskirts, and, as we began the descent of the long hill (the same on
which the colored troops first entered Richmond in 1865), we heard the
church bells of the city. There is, in many souls like my own, a
sympathy with sounds of this character. In our crowd was the doctor, an
educated as well as a polished gentleman and scholar. When the tones
reached his ear he stopped, lifted his hat reverently as he stood on the
sidewalk, and recited in a manner that so impressed me that I shall
never forget these words:

    "Hist! When the church bell chime,
    'Tis Angels music."

Some of the boys, inclined to poke fun at the doctor's seriousness, to
which, in his absent-minded, thoughtful way, he responded: "Have you
never been where bells have tolled to church?"

He continued in this serious strain, while the jangle of the bells
lasted; and as he and I were walking side by side, he kept pouring into
my ear the beautiful thoughts about church bells, home, and all its
attendant happiness, that I began to feel quite homesick.

    "Those evening bells, those evening bells,
    How many a tale their music tells
    Of youth, and home, and that sweet time,
    When last I heard their soothing chime."

The doctor suggested that we all go to church, but seeing that his
recommendation did not meet with a very eager second, he amended it by
adding the word "first," observing by way of explanation, that it would
be a good way to put in the time for awhile. There were objections: one
said he was an Episcopalian--their church did not have services at
night; he was supported in this evasion by another who declared he was a
Catholic. The doctor, appealing to me, asked if I were not an
Episcopalian, too; I assented to it, when he mildly observed:

"I thought so; you and the other Episcopalian swear and lie alike so

Of course the boys wanted to get into some of the "society" of Richmond,
and, as I had been there during the winter season, they expected me to
introduce them.

I had entertained them about my experiences, which naturally aroused
their curiosity, and excited their interest to learn more, and, perhaps,
they desired to participate a little in the social enjoyments.

There was a great deal of society in Richmond in the winter of 1861, as
I have said heretofore--people of all classes and all kinds were there
in throngs, from every portion of the South, principally New Orleans,
Baltimore, and other large cities. To my mind, unsophisticated as I was,
there was but one--the beautiful little brunette, our Capitola--the
Maryland slave.

I had talked to these fellows about Capitola so much that I was urged in
the most seductive way to permit them to make her acquaintance, on my
account. That sort of talk was all very nice, but it didn't have
exactly the desired effect. I'd been fooled that way once before, twice
before by being inveigled into introducing the Mississippi Lieutenant,
who was anxious to see her on my account, and also who had cut me out
entirely, on his own account. I didn't tell the Texas fellows this part
of the story, though.

A spy who allows himself to get mixed up with a lady in his work, and
loses his heart and parts with his judgment, is worse, decidedly worse,
than one who loses his head with drink.

Personally, I wanted very much to call on Capitola, and would have been
delighted with the excuse that was offered to present my friends, but
for the fact that she knew me only as Mr. B----, while my friends called
me Mr. A----.

In my eagerness to meet with her again, as I felt that now I must leave
town, I was willing to take some risk. It was explained to the boys
that I had assumed a fictitious name in my intercourse with Capitola,
and, after giving them the blind, it was arranged that I should first
see our enslaved beauty alone, and obtain her consent to present the
Texans at her court that evening.

A soldier will risk a good deal for the sake of meeting his girl, as we
all know. It was with the earnest desire to accomplish the purpose of
seeing my girl--just once more--to say "Good-by" forever, that I was
willing to meet another danger.

I saw Capitola alone, and nervously explained that a few of my Texan
acquaintances, who had heard so much of her beauty and accomplishments,
were clamorous for an opportunity to kneel at the feet of "Maryland." I
did not attempt to say a word for myself, because it was understood
that, since the Mississippi Lieutenant had been paying his addresses to
her, we were, all of us, entirely out of the question. This disagreeable
fact did not, however, prevent the handsome girl from entertaining me in
a heartily cordial manner during my preliminary visit that evening in
the interest of the other boys.

I could not say "Good-by," because, don't you see, I dare not tell
anybody--not even my best girl--that I must go away; so I was denied
even the poor satisfaction of a farewell with Capitola.

I do not remember whether I have said so before in this narrative, but,
at the risk of a repetition, I will write down here what I believe to
have been the truth--that Capitola was attracted more by the
Mississippi Lieutenant's uniform and position than by his superior
personal appearance. That she became convinced that the blue-eyed and
light-haired Maryland Corporal of Artillery was the most devoted of her
lovers, if not as handsome as many others, I have every reason to know.

It was pleasantly agreed that I should introduce to her my Texas
friends. She, in her fascinating manner, considerately proposed to have
with her one or two lady friends as her companions, who would help to
pleasantly entertain my friends, the Texans, who were as she expressed
it, "Thousands of miles from their homes."

While all these fascinating interviews were being held, I, like a
love-sick boy, became wholly indifferent to the dangers and
complications which I was rapidly bringing about myself.

I subsequently escorted my three friends around to Capitola's residence
on ---- street--I can not give the name of the street. I know the
location very well, however, from frequent visits. It was popularly
known among us as "Poplar Grove," as it is the custom in Virginia to
give names to residences. This was given to Capitola's house, because
one solitary and sickly Poplar shade tree stood before it.

That we were pleasantly and cordially received by Capitola, goes without
saying. She had, with bewitching taste and consideration, dressed
herself for the occasion in her "Maryland, my Maryland," robes, as
nearly as she consistently could, and, of course, she looked to my eye
more beautiful than ever. Not to my eye alone, either, as I saw at once
that our boys were most favorably impressed, not only with her
appearance, but by the ease and cordiality of her manner, which served,
in some mysterious way, to make everybody feel so much at home in her

The doctor was particularly pleased--of all our crowd the most affable
and gentlemanly and winning in conversation, being able to sustain
himself creditably in any company, he was, of course, very soon at home,
as we all found out to our sorrow. With him it was apparently a case of
love at first sight--at least he tried to make Capitola think so. As I
was out of the field myself, it was something of a gratification to me
to see a prospect of some one of my friends being able to shove
Lieutenant Claiborne off the stool. Some such thought as this was in my
mind when, to my utter consternation, a black servant announced to
Capitola that "Lieutenant Claiborne was at the door."

Jumping to my feet and rushing across the room to where Capitola was
seated with the doctor, I begged her so earnestly not to admit
Lieutenant Claiborne that I suppose I made myself ridiculous. She
misunderstood my motive; but, with her quiet tact, she said to me,

"Why, of course. I will arrange that your company shall not be

She passed out to the hallway closing the door after her, while she held
a consultation with some one, whom I knew to be my Lieutenant. If he had
come into the room just then introductions would have ensued, and, of
course, explanations must have followed; and, as I have so often said in
these sketches, if there was any one thing that I desired to avoid more
than another, it was any necessity for "explanations."

Capitola returned to the room, laughing heartily as the outside door
closed with a bang, and saying to the doctor and the rest of us, as we
rose to go: "Oh, no! seat yourselves and be at home here this evening."

There was not a word of reference to the visitor on her part until, in
my eagerness, I found an opportunity to ask quietly if she had told
Claiborne who we were.

"Why, yes; I merely told him some of your friends had called by a
previously arranged agreement to spend the evening."

"What did he say?"

"Nothing at all, except that he would call later, and when I said that
you would probably remain all the evening, he left me in a towering

Then she added, laughing heartily as she spoke:

"Didn't you hear him slam the door?"

I was safe for a little while longer, and, without caring what the next
hour would develop, we proceeded to enjoy ourselves as freely as if we
had nothing else to do, and not a fear to trouble us.

How long we remained with Capitola and her one friend is not material.
When we were ready to leave this pleasant society, it was discovered by
some one that it was then too late to get home to camp, unless by
running the gauntlet of the city guard and patrol, who lifted
everybody's pass after a certain hour.

This annoyance was fully compensated for by the sympathy which the
ladies expressed for us. When we were, after a good many failures, at
last ready to say a final "Good-night," all were made happy by pressing
invitations to call again.

I noticed then, and have not forgotten in these twenty-five years, that
the doctor was the last to say "Good-night" to Capitola; that he held
her hand in his while he whispered, as he spoke in a low tone, some
words that we did not hear, which seemed to amuse her immensely, as she
only laughed in reply.

My acquaintance with the city streets and the haunts of the patrol at
night enabled me to steer the party safely up to my old hotel on the
Square, where we engaged one room and two beds. The quartette went to
bed, but not to sleep. The doctor raved like a mad man about his
agreeable evening in my company, and as his talk was altogether on the
subject uppermost in my mind and heart, I enjoyed it as much as he did.
We occupied the same bed, and before sleeping I detailed to him the
whole story of Capitola, Claiborne and myself, without giving myself

I saw there was going to be trouble between the Doctor from Texas and
the Lieutenant from Mississippi, on account of my Maryland girl; just
where _I_ was to appear, or where I was to come out of this affair, did
not concern me so much as the hope that, somehow or other, when these
two would get to quarreling over Capitola, that it would result in
neither of them obtaining her, and the end would come about--like it
should in all good stories--that I would yet march into Richmond some
day in a Federal officer's uniform and claim her by reason of my
devotion, and convince her that I was as plucky as any of the Southern
men, worthy of a Federal officer's uniform, and of her love, etc., etc.

In the morning, after a hasty breakfast at the hotel, I escorted the
boys down to Jeff Davis' office, in hopes that we might get a chance to
see him come down through the square.

We were disappointed in this, as he had gotten in before we arrived. My
companions were interested in having me point out to them some objects
and persons of interest about the Capital, but the day was cold and
dreary, compelling us to separate early.

The Texans were accustomed to the snow and slush of a Virginia winter,
which interfered so much with their enjoyment that day.

I was the least bit uncertain about my status with our old Captain, as I
had overstayed my leave all night, especially as I knew that Claiborne
would be sure to let him know that I was in the city that night.

With the return of blue Monday morning, while out of sight of Capitola
and away from the Texas boys, my small supply of common sense began to
assert itself, and I saw that I was not only standing on a scaffold but
the rope was about my neck. That something must be done at once was
evident to the dullest sense. While pondering over what must be done,
what might be the best course to pursue, having made up my mind not to
return to the company at all, but to add desertion of the Rebel cause to
the probable charges and specifications against me, by making a
desperate effort to get North that night, I was hailed on the street by
the Captain himself, who inquired rather savagely:

"Where in hell have you been?"

He interrupted my explanations abruptly by saying:

"We have orders to march, and all hands are getting ready; you go right
out and pack up the papers."

This was news--good news, I thought--and, saying as much to the Captain,
I ventured to ask if we were to go to Manassas.

"No, no; there is enough up there doing nothing; we are to go down to
hunt for those damned Tennessee Unionists that are burning bridges."

This wasn't so satisfactory, but I was glad to hear that we were to
leave Richmond _at once_, and I hastened to Camp Lee. Here I found
everybody packing up, everything was in commotion, and I entered with
zest into the preparation to leave Camp Lee.

Lieutenant Claiborne and one section of the battery were to remain in

It appears that a sudden demand had been made on the Rebel War
Department for troops to protect the railroad bridges in East Tennessee,
and as our old Captain happened to be on good terms with the Secretary,
he volunteered his company for this service, temporarily, as the
Government seemed unable to supply them with guns to take to the field
at Manassas.

So it happened that, on the evening of the same day, in company with the
Colonel and Lanyard, we carried our bundle down street, stopped a moment
at the familiar old restaurant to taste apple-jack once more, and,
without an opportunity to say "Good-by" to Capitola, we spent the night
on the railroad train, reaching some town for an early breakfast.

I had taken the precaution to drop in to see Colonel Jones, who had
oversight of the mail service to the North as well as the general
exchange of prisoners, and left with him a brief cipher dispatch for my
friends North, explaining my change of base from Richmond; also, a note
to some Texas friends, telling them our command had been ordered to
_Manassas_, and expressing a hope to meet them there soon. I had been
careful enough not to designate the battery explicitly or to name the



I reluctantly take the reader away from the Rebel Capital and its
attractions. I was leaving Richmond at least, somewhat against my own

While lying curled up in a seat in the old emigrant car, that was being
used to transport the troops, sleeping, and, perhaps, dreaming of "the
girl I left behind me," I was roughly awakened by a sharp bump on the
end of our train that sent me bouncing off the seat against the back of
the one in front. When I hurriedly picked myself up and looked around me
wildly, I realized that something had happened; and, as everybody else
seemed to be rushing to the doors and windows, I made a reckless break
in the same direction, but before I could get into the aisle of the car
the floor of our car in the vicinity of where I was standing seemed to
rise up suddenly. In the same instant I found that something had caught
me by the left leg near my knee, which held me as in a vise. In my
desperate struggles to extricate myself, I threw myself violently
backward, my head striking the iron corner of an adjoining seat. I
succeeded in breaking loose, but only after the car had come to a stop,
and the danger was all past.

It was only a run-off, that caused the truck under our car to turn and
twist itself upside down in such a way as to force part of the woodwork
through the floor, resulting in squeezing my leg against the seat, so
that it cut deeply into the flesh and left a mark big enough to entitle
me to a pension--when the Rebel soldiers get their turn.

This happened near a little town located close upon the Virginia and
East Tennessee line, named I think, Abington. We laid off there to
repair damages--to the railroad. None of us were hurt seriously enough
to require more than a patching up, which our private surgeon was
competent to do. The accident, however, gave me an opportunity to meet,
for the first time in many months, something that was pretty scarce in
the Eastern part of Virginia at that time, namely--an outspoken Union
man, who was also a native of Virginia.

When we learned that we should be delayed there until a couple of cars
could be brought out to replace the broken ones, the Colonel and I
concluded to strike out for ourselves, in search of some warm meals and
perhaps a bed. With his assistance I limped along to a house standing
some distance from the railroad track, where we applied for
entertainment, offering pay for the same.

A tall, lank man met us pleasantly at his gate, and to our proposition
he replied in a cordial, though dignified, manner so foreign to his
appearance and surroundings that I was surprised.

"If you young gentlemen will step inside my house, my wife, no doubt,
will be pleased to entertain you."

Inside the large, old-fashioned country house, such as I had seen more
frequently in Pennsylvania than in Virginia, we were introduced to
"Mother," as a couple of young gentlemen who had been belated by the
railroad mishap, and desired some warm food.

I had been a soldier long enough then to understand, in a vague sort of
a way, that the term "gentleman" was not properly applied to common
soldiers, though we endeavored, by our conduct, to merit the title at
this time. It was my zealous Rebel friend, the Colonel, who got into an
argument with our host over the war question.

It was brought about by something that was said during the natural
inquiries that follow such meetings as to where we came from, etc., when
the Colonel rather boastfully, perhaps, informed him that we were a band
of exiles from Maryland. We had enjoyed so much homage on this score
while in Richmond that it had become a second nature to us to expect it
as a matter of course from all quarters, and when this West Virginia
gentleman rather quizzingly observed:

"Well, now, Mother, isn't this remarkable. Here are some Maryland
secessionists being sent away down here to Tennessee to punish and
coerce Unionists?"

It seems that this Unionist, who lived in what is now West Virginia,
was a member of the State Legislature, and who was also a citizen of
some prominence, highly esteemed, and looked upon as one of the leaders
of this band of Unionists that devotedly remained steadfastly loyal
throughout the war.

The general tenor of the conversation had the effect of reviving my
interest, and served to stir anew my zeal for the cause. It also gave me
a wonderful appetite for the old-fashioned, home-like meal that the good
mother had been preparing for us, while the other fellows were talking.
That I enjoyed the good, warm supper more than the Colonel, was evident
to all the household, because he had permitted the talk to raise his
choler so that he was scarcely in a suitable frame of mind to appreciate
the kind attention of the lady.

They declined our proffered pay for the entertainment, which had so
generously been furnished. As we were about to leave, and while the
Colonel and the host were yet predicting, each in his own way, all sorts
of terrible dangers, I could not resist the temptation, while saying
"Good-by" to the old lady, to quietly whisper to her that I was heartily
glad to have met with a Union family; that I was reminded of home very
much by the visit, and I would soon be home, too. She was so surprised
at my manner that she wasn't able to answer.

What the Colonel got from the old man as a parting salute I don't know,
only that it made him very cross and had the disagreeable effect of
causing him to want to walk back to the train faster than I was able to
keep up in my crippled condition.

We passed through Greenville, in East Tennessee, which was pointed out
to us as the home of Senator Andy Johnson, of Tennessee. I should have
liked to stop over here to have visited the residence and met some of
the friends of Senator Johnson, who had been so much interested in my
Southern experiences, but our train only remained a little while. We
moved along slowly enough, stopping at what I thought must be every
side-track on the road, to meet some trains that were due from the
opposite direction, but which seemed never to come.

The burning of several of the bridges by Unionists, or those who were
charged with being Unionists, had put the railroad people all out of
their regular reckoning, causing this general delay of the trains.

By reason of my rather close official and personal relations with the
Captain of our company, I was enabled by some quiet questioning to learn
from him in advance of the rest of the boys that our destination was
Knoxville, Tennessee, or, as he termed it in the military phrases that we
learned to use so aptly, "Knoxville was to be our base of operations,
but our objective point was probably Cumberland Gap, that being the
nearest point of probable contact with the enemy."

I was very glad to learn that there was to be something that looked like
a contact, because, now that I had left Richmond and Virginia, my entire
purpose and aim was to get back home as quickly as possible, and they
couldn't "advance on the enemy" any too quickly for me. In thus coming
down to Tennessee to get to Washington, the old saying was realized in
my case, that "The nearest way home often leads the farthest way round."

We reached Knoxville on a cold, cheerless day. A crowd of Yankee troops
could not have met with a more chilling reception in any town in the
South than was accorded to the Maryland Refugee's Rebel Battery--both by
the people and the weather.

I had become rather accustomed, like the rest of the Maryland fellows,
to expect complimentary observations on our self-sacrificing spirit, in
exiling ourselves from our homes for the good of the Southern cause. We
didn't get any of this sort of taffy in East Tennessee. I thought I was
the only man in the crowd who felt like resenting this "outrageous
treatment," as they all felt it to be; but, as will be seen hereafter,
there were others besides myself in this battery of Maryland refugees
who secretly enjoyed the discomfiture of our officers and men at the
hands of the Tennessee Unionists.

To me it was most refreshing to meet with an outspoken Union man. Of
course, they were--at this time--somewhat careful in their expressions
of dissent to the Southern cause, but we all understood, in a general
way, that those who were not outspoken in their sentiments for the South
were opposed to secession and the war, and as the outspoken element was
just then mighty scarce, the inference was that the majority was against

Quarters had been provided for our crowd in what must have been a
deserted old mansion house, which was situated--as nearly as I can
remember--on a road near the outskirts of the town. I think it was the
Swan House. If the house is still there, I am sure I will find it when I
go down there to revisit and renew some old but not forgotten
friendships, and, perhaps, may be able to practice some amateur
photography on it and some of the "scenes" which are related in this
chapter, that I may supply some friendly reader hereafter.

On account of the accident up the road, which had bruised me up so that
I was becoming quite lame and helpless, it was arranged that I should
find a private house in which to live until I could sufficiently
recuperate to stand the travel on horseback.

It is likely that I was indebted to my constant friend's (the Colonel)
consideration for securing me comfortable quarters in the home of a
refined family, who lived in that section of the town known, I think, as
East Knoxville. The name was Craig. I am giving the correct names here,
because I am desirous, even at this late date, of acknowledging an
indebtedness to this family for their many kindnesses to me, as well,
also, that I may explain to them and the other residents of that city
some of my actions that, at the time, must have been bewildering in the
light they then had. If they have thought of me at all since I was their
guest in 1861, the lapse of twenty-five years has not served to further
enlighten them, and will be, at least, a gratification to them as well
as to myself.

Mr. Craig was an official at the County Court House, located in the
other end of the town--I think either the Prothonotory or County Clerk.
He was rather an old gentleman at that time and is scarcely living now,
but his family of accomplished daughters, who were then at home, if
living, will no doubt recall their soldier guest of 1861.

Mine host was one of those old-fashioned gentlemen, who was able to
entertain a visitor handsomely without asking questions; it was
understood that he was or, at least, had been a Union man. On this
important question, at that time, he was the most agreeably
non-committal man in his own house of any person I have ever met. The
wife and mother, like the father, was all attention and kindness to the
needs of the poor soldiers, never stopping a moment to inquire whether
they were of the North or the South.

There was a daughter, Mary, who was decidedly and emphatically a
warm-hearted "Female Rebel." An elder sister, Miss Maggie, whom I will
only attempt to describe as a most amiable, sweet girl, with dark, wavy,
auburn hair, was the Union girl of the family; though not as outspoken
or decided in her way of expressing herself, she was, nevertheless,
settled in her conviction that the Government was right and that slavery
was wrong; and she put it, at the time, in a way that was comforting to

"It's not right; slavery is a sin and an evil, and it will not be
permitted to exist."

Of course, Miss Maggie became a favorite with me during the week or two
that I remained confined to the house by the bruises which had been so
aggravated by the cold and neglect into something that threatened
serious results. She was the good angel of the family, and attended to
my every need as if I were an only brother returned from the war to
receive her nursing and tender care.

There was also a younger sister, Laura, perhaps about twelve or fourteen
years old, the little beauty of the family, with dark eyes and long,
curling hair, whose political sentiments, sweetly and disdainfully
expressed, agreed with those of the Rebel sister. All of the family
were, however, kind and good, and, in the almost constant discussion of
the merits of the two sides, not an unkind or harsh word was spoken of

At every meal-time the old gentleman reverently asked a blessing over
the table, and usually lengthened it into prayers for both sides.

Around the corner from Mr. Craig's house, on a lot that almost joined
the Craig property, in the rear, was the house of Parson Brownlow. At
the time of which I am writing Mr. Brownlow was achieving national
reputation by his bold and defiant stand against the Southern leaders,
and his outspoken, belligerent Union sentiments had gotten him into all
sorts of trouble with Jeff Davis' Government.

I had heard of Parson Brownlow all my life, having been raised in a
Methodist family. Before the war I had been much interested in his
denominational discussions with the Baptists of Tennessee, the accounts
of which were printed at the time.

The Craig family were, I think, Baptists, and probably on this account
they were, as Miss Craig politely put it, "Neighborly, but not
intimate," with the Brownlow family.

It seemed as if the family had always been in hot water. There was a
son, who had either killed somebody or been killed himself. Another boy
was around stirring things up in a way that made the old town lively.
The old gentleman owned and edited a paper--the Knoxville _Whig_--that
circulated pretty much everywhere, and served to stir people and things
up, not only in East Tennessee, but all over the country.

At the time of which I am writing, the parson had been arrested, by
order of the Rebel Government, for his outspoken Union sentiments, and
was a prisoner in his own house.

I thought at the time of my visit that, personally, Mr. Brownlow and his
family did not seem to receive much sympathy from his immediate
neighbors, though politically the town was in full accord with his

The members of the family were, however, quite able to take care of
themselves. They seemed to be entirely indifferent as to the opinions on
the propriety of their course that other people might entertain.

Mr. Brownlow himself was a rather tall, gaunt, smooth-faced old
gentleman; just such an appearance as one would expect to find in the
pioneer backwoods Methodist preacher of the Peter Cartwright stamp.

His smooth face, which was strongly marked, was rather expressionless,
reminding one somewhat of an Indian. The cheek-bones were prominent, and
his under lips protruded, which, with his touseled hair, gave him
something of a belligerent air.

I saw him frequently, and it always seemed to me as if his broad lower
jaw snapped open and shut when he spoke, something like an automatic
machine that one sees the ventriloquists working on the stage. On my
youthful and inquisitive mind, at the time, was created the impression
that he never spoke at all except to "jaw" somebody or something. I'm
not attempting a criticism of Parson Brownlow. Everybody knows that
every time he opened his mouth he said something, and that his words
to-day are quoted all over the land. It was his abrupt manner that
seemed so odd and harsh to me, when compared with the mild,
courteously-spoken words of the official and Unionist, Mr. Craig, my
host--the two persons being so closely associated in my mind and
observation daily.

The home of Parson Brownlow was one of the plain, old-time structures
that are to be met with by the hundred in every town of like size and
character as Knoxville. It was situated in what would be called a back
street; it was not so pretentious, but probably fully as comfortable as
some of the houses on the front streets.

Of course, there was a porch in front of the house extending over each
side of the front door. The only difference in the style of architecture
in this particular porch from all the others was, that on account of its
abutting too closely on the pavement, or slab-stone walk, the steps led
down from each side of the porch into the little front yard instead of
straight in front on to the pavement.

At the time of my visit there was another ornament or decoration to the
Parson's front door-steps that was not to be seen on the other houses,
in the form of living statuary, representing Confederate soldiers in
gray uniforms, and with loaded muskets in their hands, who were on guard
as sentries over the person of the Parson, who was then a State

He was subsequently removed to jail and compelled to live in a damp
disagreeable pen, that had been used for years as the slave-cage for
runaway niggers. This was rough, but it's true, as I can testify.

One reason, perhaps, for his removal to the jail has not been given by
himself or his friends. As I have said, the Brownlows were a peculiar
people--"devilish peculiar," in fact.

While we can all admire the pluck and spirit of the family, which
resented the presence of armed Rebel soldiers on their own door
step--their castle--one can not help but feel that a little discretion,
mixed up with their abundant spirit, would have brought out more
satisfactory results.

The Parson's combativeness must have been in the blood of the family, as
it was not confined to himself and his sons, but was exhibited while I
was there, in a striking manner, by one of his daughters. For some
fancied or real offense on the part of one of the guards, who was
stationed at her father's door with a loaded gun in his hands, Miss
Brownlow, after deliberately giving the soldier and his officer "a piece
of her mind," coolly walked up to the guard and vigorously and
repeatedly slapped him in the face, and kept up her attack until the man
actually backed down off the side of the porch, while the officer of
the guard, who was with him, hastily scrambled down on the other side,
leaving her in possession of the entrance to the castle.

The incident had a widespread notoriety at the time, when the facts
reached the North; the affair was widely published throughout the
country with many exaggerations. I did not witness this affair, but
gathered from the Misses Craig and others what is probably the true

My confinement to the house of my good friends, the Craigs, though sick
and sometimes suffering, was made to me the most agreeable two weeks of
my trip South, all through the kind care and attention of the family.
Miss Maggie and myself seemed to be nearest in accord in our sentiments,
not only of the war, but maybe of love and peace and, through her
pleasant friendship, I was enabled to lose, in a manner, some of my
interest in the far-away Capitola.

By the exercise of some diplomacy, necessitating a good deal of talking
and some shameful lying to a young and innocent girl, I induced Miss
Maggie and her sister to take me down to the Brownlow house, as a
visitor who was desirous of meeting the now celebrated family.

I did not dare to intimate to Miss Maggie that I sympathized deeply with
the cause of the Brownlows; in fact, I never admitted to a living soul,
not one--not even after my return from my trips--the true character and
purpose of the undertaking. An elder sister, having some doubts about
the Brownlows' probable reception of a visitor in a gray blouse uniform,
thought it advisable to arrange the matter beforehand, and sent the
little girl around to the house one day with a polite note, stating that
a Maryland soldier desired the pleasure of their acquaintance.

The mother looked with some disfavor on the proceeding, but, of course,
Maggie and I accomplished our purpose, and the note was returned with a
verbal answer to "Come ahead." This was not exactly as encouraging a
response as we had hoped for, but, after a little fun from the mother
and older sister over our probable reception, they arranged among
themselves for a short call during the afternoon.

I was gathering information; and, feeling secure through my supposed
sympathy with Mr. Brownlow, I had not the least hesitancy about meeting
him personally; I did not consider the family failings at all. I knew,
too, that I should soon leave there for home--my mind was already
settled on that--and I could travel now without the fear of meeting any
persons who had known me at Manassas, Richmond, or Pensacola. My plans
were to reach the Union lines at the nearest point, which was then
Cumberland Gap.

As I have tried to explain, the Brownlows' residence was just around the
corner, so that it was like a neighborly "run in for a little while" for
the Misses Craig to escort their guest around to their house that

The Parson being a prisoner in his own house, his guard was under strict
orders not to permit any communication between the imprisoned, fighting
preacher and his Union friends.

To make this military order thoroughly effective, the officer of the
guard had found that it was necessary to make it general, so as to
exclude everybody, as it was well seen that the population were almost
unanimously loyal, the visitors to the Brownlow family were most likely
to be enemies to the Rebel Government, or, at least, Unionist suspects.

When we reached the door, where we encountered the guard, Miss Craig
left to me the task of overcoming the obstruction of a loaded musket in
the hands of a soldier in gray. I am not sure whether it was the
shameful lies I told the guard, the gray uniform I was wearing, or the
pleasant, smiling face of my companion that had the effect of inducing
the man in charge so suddenly to change, yield and admit us into the
house without question. But I have always inclined to the belief that
the influence was the large, imploring, brown eyes of my lady companion,
which were brought to bear on the guard. I remember that we had some
talk after the visit closed about this guard, who kept his eyes more
closely on Miss Maggie, during our visit, than either on the prisoner or
the other surroundings.

Once over the threshold, we had yet to encounter the old lion in his
den, or, more properly speaking, the wounded bear in his hole.

The weather was so cold that a fire was necessary, which fact was
impressed on my mind by our introduction into the Parson's presence, his
first salutation being a request to "shut the door," and then at once
apologizing in a mild, apologetic manner; he complained of the rough
usage he had been obliged to submit to in his own house, by the guard
insisting upon opening doors through his hall whenever they saw fit. He,
and more especially his wife, imagined they did more of this than was
necessary, for the sole purpose of annoying him. Mrs. Brownlow insisted
that the purpose of the soldiers was to kill her husband by exposing him
to these draughts during his illness.

The Parson had been quite seriously ill for some time. The sickness was
incurred by his terrible exposures, first while an outcast or exile in
the mountains, and subsequently by the miserably mean and hoggish
treatment while confined in the Knoxville slave-pen cage among the
crowded Unionists.

The complete story of the imprisonment, sufferings and brutal treatment
of the hundreds of Unionists, among whom were some old men of
seventy-five years; embracing in the list of martyrs, preachers,
lawyers, judges, as well as others of the most prominent and respectable
people of that section, simply because they were Unionists--or had dared
to be loyal to the Government, or even entertained at a remote period an
opinion on the subject different from that of the Rebel--would excel in
many respects the horrors of Andersonville. I regret that I can not in
this narrative tell half of my own observation, but perhaps some one
will yet write the true story of East Tennessee in 1861-62.

While I was there as a Rebel soldier, I witnessed one sight alone, not
one horrible feature of which has been effaced from my memory, and which
has not--that I can recall--been made generally public. I refer to the
double execution of an old man of seventy, a respected class-leader in
the Methodist Church, and his son. The old man was obliged to hear first
the dreadful shrieks of innocent protest from his son's lips, and though
the boy's cries pierced even the hearts of the New Orleans wharf-rats,
who had the execution in charge, the old man was brutally compelled by
Colonel Ledbetter to gaze upon the dreadful, horrible agony of his son
on the scaffold, where he himself was to be hung in a few moments.

At the time of our visit, Brother Brownlow was snugly wrapped up in one
of those old-fashioned, striped shawls, that probably belonged to his
wife's wardrobe. He sat that afternoon in a great, old, hickory
rocking-chair, with his stocking feet perched on another chair, looking
at me, at first sight, more like a sick old woman than such a dangerous
character as to require the constant attendance of a large armed guard
at his door, day and night. His face was thin, and his general
appearance of emaciation showed the effects of his recent sickness and
sufferings. I can well recall the queer expression of wondering scrutiny
in the big eyes of the old Parson, as he slowly turned to me when I was
introduced by his neighbor's daughter as a "refugee" soldier from
Maryland. That he was a little bit suspicious as to the object of this
visit under such circumstances is not to be wondered at, when his
surroundings at the time are remembered.

As a consequence, perhaps, Mr. Brownlow was not inclined to talk to me,
more than the ordinary politeness to a stranger in his own house
demanded. The Parson's wife and daughter, however, who were present, did
not seem to entertain any doubts or fears as to any danger to be
apprehended, as they kept up a constant clatter with Miss Maggie about
the outrageous treatment they were being subjected to.

To my own surprise afterward, as well as theirs at the time, I blurted,
involuntarily, out some genuine expressions of sympathy for them, when
Miss Brownlow detailed how the brute, Colonel Ledbetter, had, without
ceremony of a request, rudely entered the sick man's chamber, demanding
that "this 'assumed' sick man set an hour when he would be ready to
leave town." This, at a time when Mr. Brownlow was not able to lift his
head from the pillow of the bed, to which he was then confined. On this
rather premature outbreak on my part, Miss Maggie took occasion to say
to the family:

"I'm sure our friend is not a very bad Rebel; he is pretty homesick,

This latter observation seemed to rouse the Parson's interest in the
visit, and turning to me, in a voice almost inaudible from weakness, he

"I should be glad to know what induced a Maryland boy to leave his home
for this Secession cause."

Just what I replied must be left to the imagination. I don't remember
myself, only that I went as far as I dared, and said in manner--if
not in words--that I was going back home. Something was said, either by
Miss Maggie or myself, as to the opinions we both quietly entertained
that slavery was wrong and was at the bottom of it all, which seemed to
stir the old man up in a way that astonished me. I don't remember his
exact words, but if there is any one thing that Parson Brownlow could do
better than another it was to pile up epithets.


"No," he said, raising his voice to a half-shriek; "it's not slavery. I
am a slave-owner myself, and I am a Union man," and then continuing in a
strain of abusive words, directed to the leaders, which would read
something like this: "Any man who says I am a Black Republican or an
Abolitionist is a liar and a scoundrel," getting more excited as he
continued: "It's these God-forsaken, white-livered leaders, who are
hell-deserving assassins."

His family seemed so accustomed to this sort of talk that they took but
little note of what the Parson was saying; it scarcely had the effect of
stopping their own flow of complaint about the guards.

Mrs. Brownlow said to her husband in a quiet way not to allow himself to
become excited, on account of his weakness, and with a mild hint added
that he might be overheard.

"I take back nothing I have ever said: they are corrupt, unprincipled
villains; if they want satisfaction out of me for what I have said--and
it has been no little--they can find me here any day of life, right
where I have lived and preached for thirty years."

There was one remark which the old man made that afternoon which I have
never forgotten. Mrs. Brownlow had been telling about the dirt the Rebel
guards made in her hall, with their tobacco, as well as the noise
incident to the changing of the guard every two hours, and their rude
intrusion into the bedroom at all hours--to get warm, they said. The
Parson in an undertone, as if exhausted by his previous outburst, said:

"They are worse than weeds in the garden, and exactly like fleas out in
my hog-pen there;" stopping for breath, he kept on: "Why, they play
cards on my front porch on Sunday, and I, a preacher, have to hear their
oaths in my house, that would blister the lips of a sailor."

When I laughed at this a little, he growled out:

"Oh those cowardly assassins, who disarm women and children, and set
bloodhounds after their fathers and grandfathers, who are hiding from
their persecution in the Smoky mountains in this winter weather, have
the meanness, without the courage, to do anything."

I was entertained that afternoon in a way that made such an impression
on my mind that I shall never forget even a single striking point that
occurred, and the reader is referred to the files of the Cincinnati
papers of the winter of 1862 for an account of this interview, which, as
a war correspondent, I reported at that time. Once the Parson got fairly
started, the rest of the party became interested as well as amused
listeners. When he would run down a little, something would be said that
would seem to wind him up again, and he would go off like a clock
without a pendulum or balance wheel. Something was said about the
geographical or commercial effect of the proposed separation of the
South from the North. I think I must have said something to lead up to
this, as the Parson turning to me, said, while pointing his long, bony
finger toward me:

"Young man, it can never be done."

And, by way of illustration, he continued in an impressive and intensely
dramatic way:

"This Union will be dissolved only when the sun shines at midnight, or
when water flows up stream."

Some one interrupted to say, laughingly:

"Why, the sun is shining at midnight at this moment in the other part of
the world."

And his own daughter chimed in:

"Yes, and our teacher says the Mississippi _does_ run up North in its
tortuous course."

This created a little laugh at his expense. But, without noticing it or
smiling himself--by the way, he was so dreadfully solemn looking--I
doubt if he ever smiled--he got back on them by saying:

"Well, it will happen only when Democrats lose their inclination to

After the laugh over this had subsided, he became eloquent as well as

"And that will be when the damned spirits in hell swap for heaven with
the angels, and play cards for mean whisky."

That's exactly the sort of a man Parson Brownlow was to talk; and we all
know that he acted out his words to the bitter end. Then, by way of
personal application, the parson said:

"I am not only a Tennessee Union man of the Jackson and Andy Johnson
stripe, but I'm a native of Virginia. My ancestors fought for the Union
in the Revolutionary War, and their descendents have fought to preserve
it in every war since. This country is as loyal as any State in the

Mr. Brownlow's astonishing way of putting things was impressed on my
mind, by his apt way of illustrating the dependence of the South upon
the North, in his argument to show that disunion was not practicable.

"Why," he said, "we are indebted to the North for everything." While he
was speaking he held a pocket-knife in his hand; holding it up he said:

"This knife comes from the North; the hats and clothes we wear, the
shoes on our feet, every piece of furniture in this room," and, pointing
to an adjoining room, where one of the ladies was quietly engaged in
preparing the tea-table for our entertainment, "the ware on that table,
out there; and the farmer gets all the tools North to work the farm that
supplies the food we eat." Then with an expression of disgust: "Even the
spades that dig our graves, and the coffins we are buried in, come from
the North."

Here Miss Maggie felt impelled to speak a word in defense of her native
South, observing:

"But, Mr. Brownlow, they haven't any better minds or people in the
North; it's only their educational facilities that give them this

This gave me an opportunity to say that "the North didn't have any
clearer heads than Mr. Brownlow's, nor any sweeter ladies than I had
seen in Tennessee."

The Parson didn't even smile at this attempt at flattery, but kept on in
the same strain, reciting some of his experiences while in the prison at
Knoxville, only one or two of which I can recite.

That which made the greatest impression on my mind was the interview of
a young girl with her aged father the morning of the day set for his
execution, as one of the bridge-burning conspirators. The Parson's
manner was at all times serious, but his story of the heart-breaking
farewell of the daughter to an aged father, and its effect upon the one
hundred other suspects who were confined with him, and who were obliged
to witness the scene, is beyond the powers of my pen to describe.

The one redeeming feature of it was--the rough-talking Parson, acting in
the character of a minister, endeavored to soothe the heart-broken
daughter as he could in the most comforting words for an hour,
alternately praying and talking, amid the sobs of the hardy mountaineers
who were witnesses to it all.

The Parson said it occurred to him, as a matter of policy, in order to
separate them, and not with any hope of success, he suggested sending a
message to Jeff Davis in the name of the daughter, begging a pardon for
her aged father--her only dependence in the world. The execution was to
occur at 4 P. M., and he had purposely delayed mentioning this last hope
that she might have all the time that was possible of the last hours
with her father. It was 2 P. M. when he wrote with his pencil, on a leaf
torn from his note book, a brief dispatch addressed to Jeff Davis,
craving his mercy and a pardon for her old father. The girl herself took
it to the telegraph office, which was in the same square with the jail;
the kind-hearted telegraphers interested themselves in her behalf, and
rushed her message through to Richmond, not expecting a reply, as there
was but an hour or so left; when, to the surprise and delight of every
person, probably without an exception, a message was promptly returned
by Mr. Davis commuting the sentence to imprisonment at Tuscaloosa during
the war.

I am glad to be able to record this fact in favor of Mr. Davis. I
believe it may also be set down to his credit that much of the
persecution of Unionists, and the brutal punishment of the same, was
without his knowledge. It has been said that if Mr. Davis has been
consistent in anything more than another, it has been in his life-long
devotion to his principle of State rights or local self-government. Yet
one has to wonder how his relentless attitude toward the coerced
Unionists of East Tennessee is to be explained.

In this way I was entertained by Mr. Brownlow, while his good wife and
daughter were engaged in preparing an evening tea for us. When we were
invited out to the table--I asked to be allowed to wash my hands, and
was shown the toilet stand in the same room the Parson occupied. I
picked up a brush to dress my hair a little--you know those pretty brown
eyes of Miss Maggie were yet in the house, and I wanted to primp up
while at the glass--the Parson looked over toward me, after indicating
where I would find a comb, and said, without a smile:

"The combs come from the North, too, and now, since the war, there won't
be a fine-tooth comb to be had in the South;" then in an undertone to
me: "The Rebels are full of squatter sovereigns hunting for their rights
in the territories."

We sat down to the tea-table without the Parson's company, he being
obliged to remain in his room, partly on account of his parole, but
principally because he was just recovering from a serious illness, it
being necessary to guard against a relapse, which would come from taking

He had done pretty much all the talking while we were in his company,
and as we all knew he was in the habit of speaking right out in meeting
without any regard to consequences, even before the war, and the fact of
there being an armed guard at his own door, as well as the presence of
my gray uniform alongside of his, did not at all prevent his ready "flow
of language." I do not imagine that he would have talked so freely, and
in such a harsh criticizing way, in my presence had I not encouraged him
to believe that I was a disappointed Marylander, while Miss Maggie added
to this impression by endorsing me as a homesick refugee.

At the tea-table the ladies of the family did most of the talking. I
kept my mouth occupied devouring some hot biscuit and honey, and
drinking coffee with real cream in it, out of dainty old-fashioned
tea-cups, while my eyes feasted on the sweet face and brown eyes of Miss

I had enough of the visit, and as soon as it could politely be done, we
gave our host and hostess a pleasant "Good-by."

After this visit to the Brownlow's, where I had been permitted to
witness, in one case, the effects of the dastardly treatment by a
government of Rebels, who were advertising to the world that "they were
contending only for their rights against the tyranny of the Lincoln
Government," and heard from the lips of one who seemed to be a dying
Unionist martyr, it may be imagined that I was in no frame of mind to
dally any longer in the Rebel camps.

I wanted to go home--I wanted to go badly--and I determined before I
left the Parson's house that evening that I should--unknown to him at
the time--advise the authorities at Washington, and give to the Northern
press a careful account of my interview with him. I did it, too, through
the Cincinnati papers a few days subsequent to the interview as stated.

I had gathered so much information since leaving Richmond about the
Union hopes and sufferings, and I felt so great a sympathy for them,
that I was, to use a vulgar term, "slopping over." There was now no
chance to communicate with the North by mail from Tennessee--that I had
yet got on to--as there had been in Richmond, and beside I was so full
of news that it couldn't be put on paper in the brief style which the
simple cipher permitted me to use.

We spent the evening after the tea at the Parson's in the Craig family's
parlor, in a way highly enjoyable to me. I felt like a boy who had been
absent from home for months, and who was being entertained at a farewell
party in his honor.

As I have said before, there were several ladies in the Craig family,
all of whom were present that evening; in addition there was a Miss Rose
Maynard, who was the daughter of the loyal Congressman from that
district. Their residence was on one of the main streets of the town,
and at the time of which I write the Hon. Mr. Maynard was exiled to
Congress at Washington. I will state here that I met him on my return to
Washington, a few days later, when I gave him the latest news of his

Among the gentlemen present was a Mr. Buchanan, who was a Confederate
soldier then stationed at Knoxville. He was, I think, the son of a
Buchanan who had been a Minister to the Netherlands, under the former
Democratic Administration. I mention him here, on account of his having
been more recently from Washington than myself. I was able to gather
from his talk to the ladies, in a general way, that he had in some way
been acting as a sort of a spy for the Rebels; at least he had been in
communication with those who were so engaged, and it was through his
boastful talk of his family connections that I secured one of the most
important secrets of my mission.

I will do Mr. Buchanan the justice and credit to say that he was an
accomplished young gentleman. He had been abroad with his parents, or
perhaps it was an uncle, and being raised, as it were, in the diplomatic
world, he was, of course, able to conduct himself in a becoming way in
the society of ladies. Indeed, he seemed to completely eclipse me for
that evening with these ladies, but I was so filled with homesickness
just then that I did not care so very much about it. One of Mr.
Buchanan's happy accomplishments was his ability to recite, in what we
all felt to be a perfectly delightful way, Poe's and Byron's poetry.
Somebody had learned of his talent in this direction, so we kept the
young fellow "going" right along.

Only one of his recitations remain in my memory, that of "Annabel Lee";
indeed, and in truth, I may say now with him, that "The stars never
rise, but I see the bright eyes" of Miss Maggie, who seemed to be so
much infatuated with him.

The younger Miss Craig and Buchanan were of the same mind on the war
question. My gray uniform talked for me, while Miss Maggie, to my great
delight, amused the parlor full of company with a ludicrous account of
the battle of Mill Spring, or Fishing Creek, given her and her friend,
by the Rebel troops from that section, who had participated in it.

It will be remembered that this little fight was one of the first, if
not the very first, Union victory in the West. Zollicoffer was killed,
and the Rebels retreated in the very worst disorder as far to the rear
as Knoxville, Tennessee, over a hundred miles from the battlefield.

Miss Maggie told the story in her delightful way, appealing, as she went
along, to her Rebel sister and others who were opposed to her side for
confirmation as eye-witnesses to the ludicrous appearance of the Rebel
soldiers as they rode back to town on mules--in their dirty, ragged
clothes, many of them hatless, and sometimes two or three on one old

To make it more interesting, she related, as a preliminary, how the
gallant Secessionists had marched out of town but a few days before with
a whoop and a hurrah, she declaring: "She felt sure those men would go
straight through to Boston, and bring Lincoln back as they returned via
Washington." The father, who had been quietly sitting back in the
corner, enjoying Maggie's fun at her sister's and Mr. Buchanan's
expense, broke his silence to add drily:

"Mr. Brownlow says, when they saw the Stars and Stripes and looked into
the muzzles of the Union guns, they started to run, and didn't stop
'till they got to the other side of sundown."

If there are any readers of the Western armies who participated in Mill
Spring or Fishing Creek, I can assure them that their little victory
that day was a great God-send to thousands of the noblest-hearted
Unionists of East Tennessee, who, from their hiding-places in the rocks
and crevices of the mountains, saw the boastful Rebels run like wild
sheep a hundred miles without stopping.

There was a piano in the parlor, as well as three or four persons who
were able to spank it right well, so, between the recitations of our
poet and the droll stories by Miss Maggie about the Rebels run back to
town, we enjoyed a pleasant evening together, which will long be
remembered by me as one of the many agreeable nights of my varied war

One little story related by Mr. Craig, later in the evening, served to
throw a mantle of caution about me, else I might have been tempted,
under the jolly feeling existing among the company, and the influence in
my own mind, as it was to be my last night, to make some "Union
confessions" to Miss Maggie in confidence. Mr. Craig said in his slow,
quiet way:

"There was a funny affair happened up-town to-day. You know there has
been a daily prayer-meeting for some time which has been conducted here
by the several ministers of the different churches, alternately. They
have all along a little sign printed on card-board tacked against the
wall, reading 'Union prayer-meeting; all are welcome.' Well," he
continued, with a sly laugh: "There was a Georgia regiment came in here
to-day from _Pensacola_, and a lot of them got too much whisky aboard,
and seeing this sign, _Union_ prayer-meeting house, and probably having
heard of the Unionists of East Tennessee, served to raise their bad
blood at once, and for a while came near causing a small riot, until the
matter was explained.

"Some who were too drunk or ignorant to be made to see that the word
'Union' was not always to be considered offensive to a Southern man,
would not be satisfied until the card was removed."

This little play of the Georgia regiment on the word "Union," which
serves to show the sentiment and feeling then, afforded this company
some amusement, but to me, the one word "Pensacola" was far more
significant than any other that Mr. Craig had spoken.

There was then a regiment in town from Pensacola. That town, nor any
other, was big enough to hold me, at the same time, with anybody that
had been to Pensacola. So that here was another inducement for me to get
away toward home.

After leaving Richmond and the Texans in the lurch as to my whereabouts
and destination, I had felt that in the mountains of East Tennessee I
would be at least secure from any possible re-union with any former
Pensacola or Fort Pickens associates, but it seemed as if this Florida
experience, like Hamlet's ghost, would not down.

When we came away from Richmond so hurriedly, it will be remembered that
Lieutenant Claiborne with a portion of our Battery had been left in Camp
Lee. If I remember aright, they were either to recruit or perhaps they
were to await the arrival of some English cannon which were expected via
the blockade, and in that case it was probably the intention to order us
_back_ there, to be sent as a solid Battery to Johnston's army in

I was the least bit apprehensive, too, after I had been away some days,
and had leisure to think over the matter more carefully, that Claiborne
might in some way run across the Doctor through their mutual admiration
of Capitola.

As I was "only a boy," as Capitola had so heartlessly said, I had been
obliged to sorrowfully leave the Doctor and the Lieutenant to fight over
Capitola among themselves, never thinking or caring much at the time
whether I should become mixed up any further or not.



Most of the time in Knoxville I was sick and confined to the house,
under the kind care of Mrs. Craig's family. Our company of Maryland
Artillery, after a time, had been ordered away to Cumberland Gap, where
they were to manage, if necessary, one or two old iron cannon that had
been secured somewhere for them. Part of the refugees were left at
Knoxville as part of the guard at Parson Brownlow's house. For this duty
those were selected who had been sick, or who were thought to be
"inefficient" for active field duty. I was among the number so detailed,
because I certainly was the most "inefficient" Rebel soldier you ever
saw or read about.

It will be remembered that in the opening chapter, while I was in
Washington before the war began, I was accidentally, or, perhaps,
providentially, introduced to Senator Andy Johnson through one of
Senator Wigfall's Comanche Indian breaks in the Senate.

I flatter myself that the evidence I gave _then_--before Mr. Lincoln was
inaugurated--shows that the great conspiracy was going on while the
conspirators themselves were yet in the service of the Government, and
under oath to support the same--therefore it was a "conspiracy."

This acquaintance with Mr. Johnson was recalled one day while in East

Mr. Craig said something one day about some letters that Mr. Johnson was
charged with having written to some Abolitionist in Boston, proposing,
or, in some way that I do not exactly recall, admitting that, for a
certain large sum of money, he (Johnson) would use his influence in
favor of the Union.

If Mr. Craig had any opinion as to the truth or falsity of the matter,
he was careful not to let me learn it.

At the first opportunity, in order to get an opinion from a man who was
not at all slow in furnishing that cheap article, in season and out of
season, I interviewed Mr. Brownlow about the Johnson bribery to bring
him out.

It brought the Parson out, and for a moment or two the air was thick
with such elegant epithets as, "Hell-deserving scoundrels, white-livered
villains," etc.

"I've not been on speaking terms with Johnson for thirty years, but I
know it's a lie."

He was cautioned by his wife not to give expression to his views so
freely. When I reminded them that the matter was public talk, and even
printed throughout the South, the old fellow broke out in a new place:

"Oh yes, I know the Postmaster at Knoxville delivered the letters
addressed to Johnson to a certain party here who is known to be in the
employ of Wigfall of Texas."

That was enough for me. I was prepared to believe that Wigfall and his
crowd would stoop to forgery, or anything else, to do a Southern Union
man an injury. Wigfall was especially vindictive towards Johnson, as
will be remembered.

If Brownlow had not been talking in the same strain to everybody about
his Union sentiments, even while he was a prisoner, I should have felt
from his free, outspoken manner toward me, every time I met him, that,
by some instinct, he knew of my true character as a Union Spy who was
about to return North, and would carry his messages home. I have often
thought that Mr. Brownlow did divine my true character.

In this forged letter matter, if I am not greatly mistaken, Mr. Brownlow
connected one of the present Senators from Tennessee, who was then
Governor of the State. The Parson, in his odd way, had a name for
everybody: Governor Isham Harris, was Eye-Sham Harris. Everytime I have
looked at Senator Harris since he has been in Washington, and I have
seen him almost daily, I have had this queer expression brought to my

Rebel troops were being concentrated at Knoxville by railroad, to be
marched thence to Cumberland and other gaps in the mountains. Something
was up. Those who were on the Kentucky side about this time will know
more about what caused the commotion than I who was on the inside and
could only "guess," as the Yankees say.

The General in command of the forces in East Tennessee at the time was
E. Kirby Smith. He was, I believe, a distant relative of mine.

Our Brigadier, and immediate commander, was General Ledbetter, a native
of Maine, one of the meanest, most tyrannical and brutal men I have ever
heard of, in either the Rebel or the Union Armies, or any place else. He
had been an officer in the Regular Army before the War; and, as Parson
Brownlow put it, "he had married a lot of niggers in the South." The
Parson made this observation in the presence of his wife and the lady
visitors who had accompanied me to the house one afternoon; though I did
not exactly understand the drift of the expression at the time, I
refrained from pressing the conversation just then. I learned afterward
that he simply meant that Captain Ledbetter had married an Alabama lady,
who owned sixteen slaves.

This General Ledbetter, from the State of Maine, was the willing tool
selected by the Rebel officials to punish and abuse the Unionists--very
much as Wirz was permitted to do at Andersonville. If I write harshly of
this officer it will be accepted as an excuse from me to explain that I
saw him do a great many mean acts, but that which turned my stomach
worst were his roughly-spoken words to an old Unionist bridge-burner, a
man with bushy, grey hair, who was at the time shrinking and cowering in
a corner, looking at me with his frightened eyes like a crazy man at
bay. His distress was being caused by the dreadful shrieks of his son,
at that moment on the scaffold, to which the old father was led in a few

"Get up here, you damned old traitor," while he deliberately tied the
rope around the trembling old man's neck.


It was a horrible, horrible sight--one that I shall never cease to
remember. I wish it were possible for me to efface it from my memory.

After the delightful evening at the Craig's, part of which I have tried
to describe here, because there was a short, sweet interview at the
garden gate after most of the guests had retired, in which the readers
are not at all interested, I went to bed, determined in my own mind
that in the morning I should make the final break for home. I do not
remember now whether I dreamed of the girl I was to leave behind me
there, or that my visions were of "Home, sweet home." Of course, it was
cruel to be obliged to tear myself away from them so ruthlessly, just
when it was becoming interesting, but I consoled myself with the
reflection that I had survived these heart-troubles before--several

In the first place I had deliberately separated from my really and truly
girl at my own home, when I joined Patterson's army in Pennsylvania, but
I had succeeded in finding another, in dark-eyed Capitola, at Richmond,
who in turn had been almost forgotten, in the new-found treasure at
Knoxville, from whom I was now to be estranged by the fortunes of
war--perhaps forever. It was now time to return to the first love again;
and that's the way it was "evolved" with me right along. I always
managed to have a girl, to keep me from attending to business, and to
get me into trouble, whether I was in the Rebel or Union armies, or

I was being "recuperated" so pleasantly, that I enjoyed playing off sick
after I felt strong and active enough to have undertaken to walk right
through Tennessee and Kentucky to my home.

The greater part of our company being at Cumberland Gap, Captain Latrobe
was somewhere near Knoxville with General Ledbetter. I can not
definitely recall exactly how it was--only that in order to reach him,
to report for duty, it was necessary for me to go out of town some
distance, where I found him in a camp at Ledbetter's headquarters.

I was a little out of favor with the Captain about this time. His
greeting was not calculated to make me feel exactly comfortable.

"You are never on hand when wanted, but eternally scouting around some
private houses, sick."

When I told him that I was now ready and anxious to join the company at
the Gap, he took my breath away by saying:

"You will be no use there."

Then, as if remembering something that he had forgotten, he put his hand
in his pocket, drawing out a package of letters, and as he fumbled them
over, said:

"Lieutenant Claiborne writes me something hereabout wanting you to go
back to Richmond."

Luckily for me, he wasn't able to put his hand on the right letter at
that moment, which gave me a little time to gather myself up, which I
did with an ease that astonished myself afterward when I had a chance to
laugh in my sleeve, as I thought to myself how perfectly natural it was
becoming for me to tell a lie on so short notice. I said at once in
reply, as if by inspiration:

"Oh, Captain, that's probably those fellows I owe some money to, who
want to get me into trouble."

He seemed to be satisfied with this explanation, and to my great relief,
he put away the letters.

Just what the letters from Richmond had to say about me I am unable to
say, because I did not press the inquiry at that time. I left the
Captain soon after the conversation (some twenty-five years ago) and
have not had the pleasure of meeting him since. I had very decided
impressions on the subject at that time, however, which were to the
startling effect that some of those Texas fellows, whom I had run
against in their camp near Richmond, not satisfied with my bluff
reception of their overtures, had been hunting me up at our old camp.
Either that, or Lieutenant Claiborne had met with the Texas Doctor at
Capitola's, where my double character would most likely have been
discussed among them. In this one particular I should have preferred
that Capitola had so far forgotten me as not to have mentioned my name

You may imagine how eager I was for the opportunity to change the
subject with the Captain, which seemed to present itself with my remark
to him. He replied in what was intended to be rather a severe lecture
on what he termed my "fast and loose" way of carrying things on. I took
his medicine quite meekly, and talked back only in a tone of sorrow and
humiliation, taking good care to get in all sorts of rash promises to do
better service for Maryland and the Confederacy, if he would only give
me a chance by allowing me to go to the front.

He was disposed to be skeptical, and I write down here Captain Latrobe's
exact words, spoken to me that morning in answer to my earnest appeal to
be permitted to join the company at the Gap:

"Well, Wilmore, you are no use here, and I don't believe you will be up
there, but I'll see what I can do with you."

He turned to leave, directing that I should "hold on here a while," as
he limped off toward General Ledbetter's headquarters. I felt sure that
he had gone there to consult with his superior officer about some
disposition of myself; and I strongly suspected that the hinted-at
requisition for me from Richmond had come through the military channels.

Perhaps the reader may be able to imagine my thoughts and fears, or
share my feelings for the few moments that I sat on the edge of the
porch of the old log house that morning, waiting for the verdict, as it
were. I rather incline to the belief though, that it is only those who
have been under a sentence of death, or who are awaiting the result of a
last appeal for a pardon, who will be competent to sympathize with me,
or one who has been in such a plight.

I was a long way from home, all alone--in a strange, I might say, a
foreign land--among enemies; at liberty, but really with a rope around
my neck; a single misstep, or word, a chance recognition, was all that
was needed to spring the trap, and my career was ended ingloriously
right there.

I was filled, too, on this bright and beautiful morning with the bright
hope and prospect of soon getting home; in fact, I was starting out
homeward bound at this time; my reaching there depended in one sense
upon the will of this Captain, who could have put me in arrest and
confinement and, at least, have delayed my chances, or he could give me
the orders, that would admit of my easy escape.

The moments seemed like hours until the Captain made his appearance at
the log-cabin door, where he stood for a few moments talking to an
officer on General Ledbetter's staff. I felt sure that I was the subject
of their conversation, but like most persons who feel this way when
their consciences trouble them, I was mistaken.

Coming up to me, the Captain said, in a cheerful tone, as compared with
the first remark to me:

"Corporal, could you find the Gap, if we--" so eager and thankful was I,
I abruptly interrupted him to say: "Oh yes, I can easily do that."

"Well, it's forty miles from here, over a most God-forsaken mountain

I replied that I was used to the mountains and would easily find the

"We want to send some papers up there for signatures. I am here at
headquarters to-day to get our Muster Roll fixed up, and find that I
have to send them back again. We were going to get a couple of the
natives to do the traveling, but, if you think you can get there, we
will get you a horse and start you off right away."

The Captain's companion, the staff officer, seemed to be satisfied with
my ability to undertake the journey, while the Captain himself was
rather pleased to see me show some enthusiasm, or a disposition to "do
something," as he put it.

He didn't understand the motive at the time, but I reckon he appreciated
the feeling a little later on.

So it was arranged, to my great delight, that I should start at once, as
the roll of papers had been waiting for a chance messenger. The staff
officer went to see some one in the rear about a horse. I was invited to
follow them into the stable. A reliable old mountain climber was pointed
out as the best thing for the trip. The details of the mount was left to
the stable boss and myself.

He told me she was used as a pack horse, for the staff officers:
admitted that she might be old, but insisted that the climber was

I wasn't very particular--anything for a horse, a kingdom, or two
kingdoms, so it would "tote" me up the mountain. I would have saddled up
right away, but the old farmer insisted on feeding, while we hunted
around for a saddle and other tools. A bag was filled with oats, a
haversack stuffed with one day's rations for me, and I was ready to
charge on the Yankees. Indeed, the old nag was choked off on her feed,
so eager was I to get away. I got aboard at the stable door, found the
old saddle-stirrups a mile too long for my short legs, and while the old
fellow adjusted them, he laughingly said:

"Why, you go on jist like a boy."

I was a boy, and I was going home; but I was old enough to prevent older
heads from finding out just how old I was.

I rode around to the front, dismounted gayly, and reported to the
Captain that I was ready. Then began another trouble. I received more
"orders" and "directions" in the next half hour than my wild head could
contain, which resulted in my going off at last without explicit
directions as to the route I was to take.

The Captain gave me some letters for Lieutenant Elkton, who was in
command of our detachment at the Gap, which he said I was to deliver
personally. I assented cheerfully to all the instructions, but when I
had gotten off some time, and had cooled down a little, and had time to
reflect, I concluded that I had better not be in a hurry to deliver that
letter to our commanding officer. I "preserved" it carefully, however,
so that it will be made public here for the first time. In addition to
the numerous specifications that may be charged against me, I added that
of robbing the Confederate mail.

As I look back over this mountain path, as it appeared to me then and
remains in my memory, I wonder how it is that I ever got through with
the journey alone so easily and safely.

I am not going to attempt a description of the wonderful mountain
scenery of East Tennessee. That has been done so well and so often that
any who may read this will have seen the well-written accounts which
appear in the magazines every now and then, or, perhaps, more
elaborately done in numerous war stories, as well as in the later
writings of Charles Egbert Craddock and Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Besides, every man of the Western armies has hoofed it over the same old
road I traveled that day, carrying with him a goodly assortment of
family groceries and "forty rounds," so that the impression on their
minds will last as long as life remains, being as indelibly fixed as the
everlasting hills themselves.

I can see nothing but the great mountains, on each side of an awfully
rocky road, that seemed to me then to have been simply the dried-out
beds of some streams that had refused to run to supply the Rebels with
water. On every side of me, as I traveled along over these mountain
roads, was the dense growth of interminable laurel thickets.

The country is, of course, somewhat diversified in mountain and plain,
but the general impression left with me is, that it was so much more
mountain than plain that there was hardly enough plain for a wagon-road.

After I had gotten some distance away, and was driving ahead as fast as
the old horse would navigate over the rocky road, houses and farms began
to grow smaller and beautifully less each mile. Every now and then we
would plunge into a clearing, and find somewhere in a field of stumps a
house--one of the small farmhouses where the roofs extend down and out
over the front far enough to make a covering for a porch. On this porch
one could almost always see some pumpkins rolled up in a corner, a
saddle would be astride of the rough porch railing, a few dried
provisions hung in the roof rafters overhead; one could always expect to
find the lady of the house standing in the front door as he passed, and
she was generally broad enough to fill the narrow space, so that only
one or two heads would have room to peep out beside her, like young
chickens under the old hen's wings. I generally hunted the well at
almost every house we came to, when I took great cooling drinks of water
from a gourd dipper.

These were the houses of the East Tennessee mountaineers. To describe
one will answer for all. At the time of my travel among them, most of
the men folks were away from home, either hiding among the rocks and
gorges of the mountains from their persecutors, or, perhaps, having
crossed the mountain, where they joined the Union Army, hoping soon to
return to their homes as soldiers of the Government. There were six of
these refugee Tennessee regiments as early as 1861-'62 in this part of
the State, composed entirely of genuine, _bona fide_, Unionist refugees.
I would like to record a comparison here with the refugees from Maryland
in the Confederate Army at this time, both as to number and character.

I had left headquarters so late in the day that it was too much for me
to make the Gap the same night with that horse, over these roads. When I
started out, though, I intended to do this or burst; but on toward
evening, after several hours of rough riding, I began to find the road
getting so blind, and the houses were becoming so scarce, that I feared
getting lost in the mountain if night should overtake me beyond the

So, early in the evening, when I reached the ford or crossing of a
stream, the name of which I cannot now recall, I pulled up in front of a
large house--for that country--and asked for a night's shelter. My
impression is that this was a sort of stopping place or the last relay
house on the southern side of the Gap. I found accommodation for both
man and beast, and enjoyed a pleasant evening with the two old people on
their front porch. I took it for granted that they were Unionists,
though they had little to say on that subject, but they both were so
well pleased with my way of talking, and of the encouraging news for a
Rebel soldier to bring, that I think the old woman exerted herself to
make the biscuit extra light, as she put enough salaratus in them to
color the whole batch of them with yellow spots.

I was put to sleep in an attic room, and very early the next morning I
was awake and dressed for the last ride. The old man had taken good care
of the old horse during the night, feeding her on fodder, I reckon. When
I got out from breakfast I found her tied to a tree down by the water. I
mounted gayly. The old fellow gave me explicit directions as to the road
to the Gap, which, he said, was in sight from the top of the hills. I
bade him "Good-by," promising to pay the bill on my return. I hadn't a
cent of money--besides, it was customary for the soldiers to live off
the Unionists--so the old man was not much disappointed at not getting a
fee, but I shall feel as if I owe them a dollar with interest for
twenty-five years.

I believe I rather rushed the old hoss for awhile that morning, because
I was feeling so good over the prospect of getting away at last.

Sure enough, I could see the Gap through a break in the trees and brush
from the next hill-top, as the old man had said. I was surprised because
it was so close to me, and disappointed in its appearance, as I had
expected, from all that I had heard and read of Cumberland Gap, to find
a great gorge breaking abruptly through the mountains.

On the southern, or more strictly speaking, the eastern side of the
approach to Cumberland Gap, the ascent up the mountain is so gradual
that one is disappointed until the summit or highest point is reached,
from which a view is to be had down into Kentucky. It is then, only,
that the grand beauty of the historic old place is realized. As I rode
closer I met signs of military occupation--there were a lot of horses
down the road at a black-smith shop waiting to be shod--a couple of
soldiers in gray had them in charge; further on was a farmhouse, on the
porch of which two officers in loose uniforms were sitting smoking
pipes. I forged ahead, without being stopped by anybody, or stopping of
my own accord until I was almost up to the very entrance to the Gap
itself, when I met with a careless sort of challenge, given by a
soldier, or officer without arms. It was only necessary to offer my
papers and explain my business, to be told to go ahead, with directions
as to where I should find our Battery.

I found our fellows were in a camp--or cabins--some little distance
inside of the real Gap; on that side there seems to be two gaps, or,
more plainly speaking, it seemed to me from a distance as a double gap,
neither of which seemed very deep; indeed, the top of the mountain peaks
on each side of the road that curved around between the two highest
points did not strike me then as deserving the great name and celebrity
they had obtained.

When I found the Lieutenant and delivered my papers to him, I received
from the boys something of that greeting which is always accorded to a
visitor who brings a pay roll or any papers or mail. Lanyard was there,
the sailor recruit from Norfolk, as was also my old Richmond friend, the
Colonel; we three had some hearty hand-shaking and cordial greetings.
The Colonel, who was really the Sergeant, could not spare the time from
some duty to accompany me, but Lanyard escorted me over to the real Gap,
and it was there, as I stood on the crest of that great mountain top and
looked down, down into the tree-tops of a great forest, far below and
stretching away in the distance as far as I could see, that I realized
what Cumberland Gap was. I could see threading along through the mass of
trees that looked like mere bushes, so far down were they, a winding
cord that resembled to my mind then a kite-string that had dropped down
from above. This was the long, narrow and crooked road which led to the
Union forces, which I knew were somewhere pretty close.

We were looking over into Kentucky and into the Union. I don't think I
spoke much. I know that when such a scene is presented to me for the
first time, I am struck dumb, as it were, and not able to rave over it,
as I have so often heard others do, and have envied them.

To my first question, as to the location of the Yankees, Lanyard
pointing to a clump of trees forming a little grove, seemingly isolated
from the rest and a little to one side of the road, said:

"That's where they were in force when they made that attack on the Gap

Then we walked over to a stockade made of the trunks of saplings put on
end in ditches, reaching up ten feet, behind which our Maryland boys
were located. They had two guns then, and I was shown the marks of
bullets of the Yankees, which were in the new wood of the stockade.
Those who were on guard had a good deal to say of these wonderful guns
of the Yankees that could imbed such a large long ball so deeply in the
hard wood of the stockade. Our Battery had actually enjoyed the glory of
putting a couple dozen of shots over into Kentucky somewhere. The bold
refugees from Ireland imagined that they had done some wonderful
execution by these few shots, but, upon investigation a few days later,
I found that our troops were so close to the guns at the time, that the
shots passed not only over them, but landed a long distance beyond,
where they probably fell among the tree-tops and only scared the owls.

If this attack of our troops had been made after my report of the weak
condition of the defenses of the Rebels, it might have resulted in an
early capture of Cumberland Gap.

I lingered a long time in the Gap, at such points as admitted of my
seeing out into Kentucky. I kept my eager longing eyes strained over
that vista, hoping I might see the Stars and Stripes floating defiantly
above the tree-tops. So eager was I to learn about the land of hope and
of home, that lay stretched out before me, that I quickly gathered from
these soldiers who were about me all the information they had about the
land that lay beyond. My curiosity was pardonable at the time, because
they supposed I was green and had never seen the Yankee country before.
They were also quite anxious to tell all they knew, and more too. I
gathered enough information in a very short time to satisfy me, first,
that there were no Rebel pickets stationed beyond the Gap, though some
predatory horsemen belonging to the artillery, and mounted on anything
they could get, were in the habit of scouting out the roads occasionally
for forage; secondly, the Yankees were in force within a few miles of
me. I was told that their Cavalry frequently came almost to the foot of
the mountain below.

This was enough. I should not allow another sun to set or rise on me
before I had put myself under the protection of the old flag. I sat
alone on a log, on the side of the hill, for a long time. I recalled
that awfully hot July day that my companion and myself had sat out
together on a log in like manner on a hill-side, very like this one, at
Harper's Ferry, that other great hole in the mountains near my home, and
how we both escaped inside the lines in the evening. My experiences in
the Rebel lines during the months that followed passed before me
rapidly. I was willing to risk a good deal to get away without the
formality of a "Good-by" to the boys whom I had just met and left at the
camp a little to the rear. I remarked to the sentry who was on guard
nearest me:

"Is there any danger of being caught if I go down the hill to that house
(pointing to one right below); I want to get something good to eat."

"Oh, no," he said, "our fellows go down there all the time."

He was a very obliging sentry. If he had orders at all, they were
probably to allow no one to pass in; so, with a heart throbbing with
suppressed excitement, I looked around. It was close on to evening,
about supper time in the Rebel camps. Lanyard had returned to the
performance of some duty. No one was near except the good-natured
sentry. I leisurely stepped beyond "bounds," and, with a parting
injunction to the soldier not to shoot when he saw me coming up, I
stepped off down grade at a lively gait, and was soon winding down the
horse-shoe curved road, which led me either to home or heaven, liberty
or death.

Before reaching the foot of the winding road, that led on past the
little house standing some distance below, I stopped a moment--only a
moment--to plan. In those days my mind was soon made up, and, once I had
decided a matter, I was always prepared to act upon it the same moment.

I concluded not to go to the house--that I must avoid leaving any trail
by which I might be traced. To accomplish this, it was necessary that I
leave the road and clamber up the steep side-hill embankment, which was
full of brush and thickets; by so doing it would lead me into a wood to
the side of the house.

It was probably another of my mistakes to have left the road and climbed
that hill to get into the wood. I saw at the foot of the mountain below
me the little old house by the roadside, which reminded me, both by its
similarity in appearance and location of the old shanty near Manassas,
where I had experienced so much annoying trouble from the quizzical and
curious old bushwhacker proprietor, after my failure to get through the
lines to Washington that night in August, 1861. It must have been about
supper time when I had gotten pretty close to the house that day,
because the curling, blueish smoke from a freshly-made wood fire was
just then beginning to pour from the top of the big rough-stone and mud
chimney, which was, as usual, hung on to the end of the cabin as a sort
of annex.

The sentry I had so recently left at the top of the mountain had said
that "our men" were in the habit of going down to the house, but, with
the vision before me of former experience in such a mixed crowd in a
shanty in Virginia, I quickly enough decided to apply some strategy and
to flank the obstacle.

It's a simple matter to plan things and to apply strategy to the
proposed movements. By the time I had climbed up that perpendicular
cliff to the side of the road, through a thicket of last year's
blackberry bushes, that were apparently growing out of a stone quarry, I
was so done out that I had to sit down on the ground awhile to get my
second wind. I had expended sufficient strength and nerve in making that
climb to have carried me miles past the house, if I had only made the
dash on the straight road.

From my seat on the rocks among the bushes, which was elevated
considerably above the winding road down the mountain, I could see by
the refracted sunset, in that clear atmosphere, a long way ahead of me.
There seemed to be a thick, almost dense growth of timber, which was
still below me, so that I looked only over the tops of the trees, as one
views the chimney-tops of a city from a hill. I knew that somewhere in
that general direction were the Union forces, which had recently
attacked the Rebels at the Gap. I could only imagine that their outposts
of cavalry were within--say a few miles at furthest.

The house that I was working so hard to avoid was yet, seemingly, as
close as it had been before I had quit the road. But from my isolated
position I could see only the top of it. The road had become lost under
the tree-tops. Looking back, I could see nothing but the stockades at
the top of the Gap, and these I could only locate in the fast gathering
twilight, because I knew their exact position. There were no signs of
life behind me--nor before me--except that the smoke kept curling
straight upward from the chimney-top, until it formed in appearance a
water-spout in the evening sky.

Up to that time, I might have safely returned to the Rebel camps, or, if
I had been halted and arrested, it would not have been a difficult
matter to have accounted for my being out of bounds at the time. But I
had no intention of returning. I had started for home, and I was willing
to risk everything to get there. I knew very well at that moment I had
deliberately added to my peril, in a blind fearless sort of a way, that
causes me a shudder as I write it down here to-day. If I had been
caught, I would have been liable to summary execution, on the simple
charge of deserting to the enemy, and, of course, any delay in the
execution of this sentence must have resulted only in my character as a
spy being discovered by the investigation which must follow. While
thinking over these things, for the moments I sat on that mountain-side
that evening, I recalled my similar experience while trying to get out
of Beauregard's army in Virginia. I planned a plausible excuse to offer,
in case I should accidentally run into anything hostile, when it
suddenly occurred to me that the "official papers" about the strength of
Beauregard's army in August, 1861, which I had gotten out of the
telegraph office and had endeavored to smuggle through, were the cause
of my greatest danger that time, and I had resolved then that I should
never again be caught with any papers in my possession.

Following my thoughts with the movements of my hands into my pockets, to
strip myself of papers, and be prepared for a dash for liberty, I hauled
out the letter which the Captain had handed to me with specific
instructions to deliver to the Lieutenant.

I destroyed it with a good deal of energy, after having first nervously
opened and read it. By that one simple act, I had cut down the last
bridge behind me. But you will not be surprised at my rash conduct, in
thus robbing the Confederate mail, when I give you the substance of the
letter, as nearly as I can recollect, and, by the way, a lifetime--a
long and checkered lifetime--will not serve to efface from the memory
the recollections of such days and nights as this in one's experience.

                                    "HEADQUARTERS, NEAR KNOXVILLE.
                                    _Cumberland Gap:_

     "I send you by ---- the Muster Rolls, etc.

       *       *       *       *       *

     "It was the intention to go myself, but we have some prospect
     of a move in another direction, and I will wait here for
     further orders. We have borrowed this horse from the Staff, so
     that these papers can be fixed up and returned by ----, so they
     can be returned to Richmond.

       *       *       *       *       *

     "I have a letter from Richmond asking about the antecedents of
     ----, and the purpose of sending him up is, that you and the
     "Colonel" (the Sergeant), who brought him in, can answer.

     "My information is, that he is wanted at Richmond for
     something. I'm waiting to hear through the Secretary of War."


This was enough for me. I was not going back now; in fact, I'd rather be
shot in trying to escape in Kentucky than to be deliberately hung in
Tennessee. Those who have read my story will not censure me for opening
that letter and neglecting to deliver it personally. Probably the
rattle-snakes that crawled out of their holes among the rocks in that
hill-side, when the weather became warmer, were astonished at the
fragments of that official correspondence lying around there so loosely;
may be the crumpled and torn papers became the basis of some nests. I
only know that it was not delivered--not much.


This accounted for the Captain's curious questions the day I left him. I
saw it all. I got up on my feet suddenly and buckled on my armor, as it
were, and prepared to fly. It was getting a little late in the evening
for a walk out alone in that country, but I had considerable of a motive
behind me, and something of an inducement in front. Indeed, I felt, for
the time being, that I could almost fly as a bird, so eager was I to get
there. In starting off so suddenly, I neglected to properly take my
bearings, so plunged down, recklessly, over the rocks and through the
bushes, only knowing that I was going in the general direction which
led me the furthest away from the Rebel camps that I had left up on top
of the hill. I kept going, going blindly, I thought straight ahead, but
making little progress. I wasn't the least bit tired then. While sitting
down to read that letter I had rested wonderfully in a short time. It
was only when I climbed down off the big hill or mountain, and had
plunged, like a scared deer, into the dense growth of woods, that was at
the foot of the mountain, that I was stopped, almost abruptly by the
sudden appearance of darkness, which seemed to have dropped around me
like a curtain. The curtain wasn't pinned with a star, because I
couldn't see the evening star on the horizon on account of the trees,
that were as thick here as the blackberry bushes had been up on top of
the mountain.

I could only see the sky by looking straight up. I don't know that I
looked up either; in fact, I don't believe I did. My recollection is
that I was only concerned about where to put my feet, and, as a
consequence, I was obliged to look down pretty much all the time pretty
sharply. I should have appreciated just then, more than anything else,
"A lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

It took me a little while to "get used to it," as they say when one
plunges suddenly into darkness.

I have read very nice poetry about the "pathless groves," and the
"pleasure in the pathless woods where none intrude," and all that sort
or thing about the grandeur, and majesty, and silence of the woods at
night, but I did not relish this dreadful silence and majesty that
night, and, to tell the truth, I've never learned to appreciate the same
grandeur since.

I like well enough to be in the woods at night, if I am one of a camp at
any army corps headquarters, and 25,000 soldiers are looking out for the
Rebels that may be prowling through the majestic woods, but, alone, I
don't like it a bit.

I was alone in a deep, dark wood, somewhere between the outposts of the
two armies, in the neighborhood of Cumberland Gap.

Everything around me had become obscured by the thick darkness, that one
can almost feel on a dark night. I kept going, as I supposed, straight
ahead, clambering over fallen logs, stretching out my hands before me as
I stepped cautiously ahead to guard against a too sudden contact with
the trunks of trees, stumbling over exposed roots, or becoming entangled
in undergrowth.

This was the tiresome, dreadfully tiresome and discouraging path that I
trod that night, for hour after hour, in my efforts to get home.

Almost exhausted, I began to grow impatient at not meeting with any
encouraging outlook. I felt that I had had enough of this and was
entitled to a change. I was sure that I had traveled over sufficient
ground to have brought me, at least, a couple of miles nearer the Union
lines. But I did not then take into consideration the fact that I had
been going blindly, and had been merely stumbling and crawling around in
a circle, as I have heard all persons do who become lost in the woods.

I realized with a shudder of horror that I was lost--lost, and lost
forever--in that dark wood nearest the enemy; because I knew very well,
from the observations of the country that I had made from the mountain
top, that I should have come out on to the road that led on toward the
Union line of pickets long before, if I had kept the course that I had
so carefully laid out before dark. What did I do? I sat down on a big
log and cried like a big baby; and that's what you would have done.

I wasn't so badly scared as I was demoralized, tired out, and

After I had sat long enough to have somewhat recovered myself, I
remembered all that I had ever read or heard of persons who were lost in
the woods. I recalled that when only a boy, in my mountain home, I had
connected myself voluntarily with a party of kind-hearted mountaineers
who had joined in a body to search those mountain fastnesses for two
little children of six and eight years old, who had strayed from their
home a day or so previously, and were lost in the woods. My two days and
nights' experience in that searching party became of great service to me

I first attempted to ascertain in the darkness, by feeling with my
hands, which side of the trunks of the standing trees the moss was
growing on. I knew that if I could establish for a certainty this fact,
from several of the trees, I would, from this circumstance, have been
able to locate the points of the compass, but it failed me, because of
the utter darkness of the night and the absence of such a trifling
thing as a match, with which to make a glimmer of light in that
overpowering gloom. Matches are cheap enough, but, if I had had the
money then, I would have been willing to have given as much cash for the
little stick of wood, with a light on the end of it, as would have
bought all the logs contained in that forest of lumber.

There was another sign that has never failed the lost and the
distressed, from wherever looked up to, when the sky was not
clouded--the North Star.

While a lad at school I had been taught how to find this, the only true
and fixed star, and that night, while lost and in such dire distress in
that dark woods, along side of the enemy, who had, by this time, surely
learned of my escape, I looked up through scalding tears for the dipper
and the pointer, and through the leafy branches of a high, old oak tree,
the bright, twinkling, constant and true little North star was looking
down brightly upon me as I sat there on the old log. What a bright,
beautiful, hopeful little emblem it was to me then, and how often have I
recalled this night, when I look up still and find it always the same

I felt as much relief at the discovery of the North star as if I had
found a lost trail in the sky. I felt that somehow I should be able,
from this fact, to come out all right, though I was sorely puzzled to
discover that, in appearance, the star seemed to be almost over the top
of the mountain that I was so anxious to get away from. I did not then
understand, as I since learned, that the range of mountains is nearly
North and South.

    "I passed a miserable night,
    So full of ugly sights, of ghastly thoughts,
    That, as I am a Christian, faithful man,
    I would not spend another such a night,
    Though 'twere to buy a world of happy days."

This quotation expresses in the familiar lines my experience more
satisfactorily than I could attempt in a column a description of this
one night of holy terror. It's bad enough to be lost under any
circumstances, but at night, between two lines in a deep, dark forest,
with the certainty of an ignominious death pursuing me as a phantom,
almost mocking me through the screeching, hooting owls, whose diabolical
laughter at my distress, in having failed to reach the goal that was in
sight before dark were audible above the tree-tops.

As I have so often said before, there is only one way to properly
understand the feelings under such conditions, and that is, "put
yourself in his place." This can only be done, and that but feebly, in
the imagination now, because there probably never will be just such
another "dark path to glory" in that part of the country.

If I could only have kept moving in any direction, it would have been
something of a relief, but I couldn't stir without stumbling over old
roots of fallen trees. I didn't mind that so much, but everything was so
awfully quiet and solemn that it seemed as if, every step I made, my
feet would crash into the little twigs that made so much noise that I
became startled every time, lest my every movement would be heard for
miles distant.

So the only thing for me to do was to sit down on an old rotten log,
that I had at last stumbled on, and wait for more light. The wild,
scared thoughts and weird, horrible sounds that went through my head
while I sat on that log in that dark woods that long, long night, can
never be described. There were owls, bats, and other solemn birds of the
night, sitting on the adjacent trees, hooting in chorus, and flying past
a crazy-looking, wild boy of the woods, sitting like a knot on a log,
wild-eyed, and with frantic gestures that would become a person with an
attack of mania, who attempts blindly to protect and defend himself from
imaginary enemies that would fly uncomfortably close.

I didn't see any big game. I didn't want to see any. I was not hunting;
but I imagined there was a whole menagerie of such things around me. We
hear a great deal about the silence and the majestic grandeur of the
forest, but that's all poetry. There are more noises--and the most
horrible noises--when alone, to be heard in a deep wood on a still,
quiet night than ever I heard in the streets of any city at midnight.

It was these sounds that stirred the blood in my veins and kept the cold
chills running down my back, so that I sat there and shook like one with
an attack of ague.

When I could stand it no longer, and found it impossible to move in
either direction, I climbed a tree. In getting up a pretty good-sized
tree, I felt that I was out of the world and away from the danger of
crawling and creeping things, though the owls became more curious and
inquisitive than ever. That wood was full of owls. I was more afraid of
them that night than of panthers--or Rebels either.

Once up in the tree, I was kept busily employed with the necessity for
constantly changing my position. I couldn't get "fixed" comfortably on
any limb or crotch in that old tree, and I verily believe that I
"adapted myself" to every position that it afforded.

From my elevated position in the top branch of the tree I could look out
through the tops of adjoining trees. It was before the season for the
leaves to be thick in that section.

In one direction, I discovered what I had at first taken for a heavy
cloud on the horizon were the outlines of the mountain. There were no
signs, from my outlook, of the house and road I had seen last before
coming into the woods. There was nothing whatever to serve as a guide,
except the little North star. I could only wait for daylight, which must
soon come. It seemed as if I had been ages in the woods. I looked
eagerly for the breaking of the gray dawn, but I had been straining my
eyes in the wrong direction, expecting in my dazed condition to see the
first glimmer come from the western horizon. It was when I looked back
of me, with a sigh of discouragement, that I first beheld the light of a
coming dawn.

    "Night's candles were burnt out,
    And jocund day stood tiptoe
    On the misty mountain top."

In a moment I became renewed with the old life and fire of those boyish
days. Only stopping long enough to get a good view of the surrounding
hills or mountains, I was able to discover that the Gap, from whence I
came, was, apparently, closer than when I had first taken to the woods
in the early twilight.

If I didn't know exactly where to go to find the Union pickets, I saw
quite plainly where _not_ to go, and knowing that I'd not make any
mistake in getting further away from the Gap, I crawled hastily out of
the tree, and in another moment was hopping along through the woods,
which were yet quite dark down on the ground.

The uneasy night birds had flown. I heard a chicken crow, though it may
have been a mile distant. I steered as clear of that signal of the
proximity of a house as a sailor does of a fog-horn. As the light began
to break through the tops of the trees, I was able to make better
headway. The big mountain, that had cast a shadow over the world of
woods all that night, loomed up grandly in the gray dawn; the Gap stood
out as clearly defined in its profile as if it had been cut out by a
chisel. There was nothing stirring anywhere but me; all the noises had
apparently gone to sleep, and I, recognizing by former experience that
the early morning is the safest time to travel in an enemy's lines, was
making the best use I could of the "limited time at my disposal" before
the Rebel officers would wake up and start their scouts out after me.

Without meeting with any obstructions, except the fallen logs and
bushes, I must have traveled a mile, when I suddenly emerged from the
woods on to a path, or mountain road, which led in the same direction I
wished to go. I cautiously followed this until it led into another, a
larger and apparently a more generally used wagon road, which I knew
must be the main road leading up to the Gap from Kentucky. This, I knew,
if followed up, would bring me into the Union lines. But it would also
be likely to be used by any Rebel cavalrymen or scouts who might be sent
out from the Gap.

Not having any means of defense with me, in case I should be confronted
by an armed scout, I would simply have been at his mercy and been led
back to the Gap, like a sheep with a rope about its neck. On this
account, I was obliged to keep myself under cover of the woods, but,
fearing to trust myself again in the deep woods too far, I scouted along
the edge as near the road as I dared, keeping the open road in view all
the time.

In this way I moved along slowly enough, watching eagerly up and down
the road for some signs of a picket in blue in one direction and a scout
in gray in the other.

Soldiers seemed to be awfully scarce out there that morning. I thought
I'd never get out of the woods, or find relief from the long strain on
my nerves, my legs, and my stomach. Not seeing anything in either
direction for so long, I at last, to help myself along faster and with
less difficulty, boldly came out to the road, and, with one good, long
look behind me, started to walk ahead at a double-quick gait.

I had not gone far when, stopping to listen, as was my habit on such
occasions, I was startled to hear what I supposed were horses' feet
behind me. In a moment I was in the woods at the side of the road, where
my long jumps made such a noise in the dry undergrowth that I had to
stop and lie down.

I saw two gray coats coming up the road together, both of them on foot.
Dropping myself to the ground as suddenly as if shot, just where I
stood, I lay for a few seconds in a tremor of fright, the only sound
audible being my heart wildly beating.

As the two men passed by me on the road, they were talking in a hurried
way between themselves, and my presence was not discovered. I lifted my
head far enough to look after them when they passed. I saw that they
were none other than two men from our own Rebel company of Maryland
Artillery; but, worst of all, one of the two was Lanyard, my old
Richmond mate and chum; the other was a fat, young German, who had been
a baker in Richmond.

The first thought in my mind was that these two fellows had been sent
out on the road after me. Any person would have so surmised under like
circumstances, and, like myself, would have been terror-stricken at the
thought of being so close to them. It was not comforting, either, to
know that they were now not only on my path, but they were ahead of me.

What to do under the suddenly-changed condition of things was only a
momentary puzzle. I argued to myself that they could not go very far
ahead on that road without running into the Union pickets, and that, if
they were not captured by them, they would soon be coming back over that
path. In either case, I should avoid the road, and endeavor once again
to get through to the Union lines through the woods only, while the
daylight lasted.

The thought that perhaps our forces had fallen back some distance, or
that they might have wholly abandoned that part of the country, was not
comforting. While I did not at first understand why Lanyard, of all
others, should be the person detailed to intercept me, I began to
imagine that his notion was that I had innocently strayed off and been
lost, and that his purpose was only to aid me in a friendly way, in my
return to the Rebel camp.

While walking through the wood, some such thoughts as I have tried to
describe were crowding each other through my now frenzied brain, when
the current was suddenly changed by hearing the wild barking of dogs
ahead, in the direction my pursuers had taken on the road.

If there is one thing more than any other that a scout detests, while he
is quietly pursuing his business, it's a barking dog.

Crawling carefully toward the sound, I could see some smoke above the
trees, and a little beyond, on the opposite side of the road, a house.
That was enough for me. I wanted some breakfast terribly just then, but
I had no use for any more houses. What I wanted to see was a camp of
soldiers with their tents and the Stars and Stripes floating over them.

It took a long time to flank that insignificant little old house, and
made my legs very tired, but I succeeded in accomplishing the task at
last, and had the satisfaction of looking _back_ at it from a hill-top
on the road, some distance inside, or beyond it.

I saw then what surprised me no little. In the road and all about the
front of the house that I had passed, were quite a crowd of men and some
horses tied to the fences alongside. The men seemed to be armed, and
they wore blue clothes. I wasn't exactly sure of this from the distance.
I remembered my mistake in Virginia in trusting too much to the blue
clothes, and determined that this time I should be sure the wearer of
the blue was a Union soldier and not a disguised Rebel.

I hoped sincerely and prayed that I had passed a Union outpost, and was
at last within the United States. That they had not seen me was evident,
from the indifferent and careless manner of the men. I judged, too, that
the dogs had announced the approach of Lanyard and the baker to the
house, and that they were both detained there.

I trudged ahead, hugging the road closely, meeting with no one in that
lonely country, until so tired out and exhausted, after my night and now
half of the day, that I was forced to sit down by the roadside to rest.
I don't think I went to sleep, but must have dozed off, so completely
exhausted had I become. I dreamed of my capture, the tramp of horses'
feet, and heard the angry voices, which I had imagined belonged to a
gang of Rebels, who were dragging my helpless body to a good place for a

In this nightmare in the broad daylight I was as helpless as if tied
hand and foot, and could not utter a word, but blindly submitted to
their brutal treatment, because too weak to resist. Aroused by the
approaching sound of persons' voices, before I could get to my feet two
horsemen in blue, armed with carbines, their sabers rattling, were
almost up to me. In front of the two cavalrymen walking along, not like
captured prisoners, but gayly laughing and talking with the mounted men,
were my two comrades in arms--Lanyard and the baker.

I lay perfectly stunned. I dare not, I could not, move for an instant,
when they quickly came almost abreast of me, and I jumped up so suddenly
as to scare the nearest horse, so that it shied against its companion.

I spoke first, with the desperation of an outlaw challenging a helpless
traveler: "Are you Union or Confederate?"

Before he could answer my question, which had been put as pointedly as
if demanding money or life, Lanyard, with a shout of pleased surprise,
came over to me, saying:

"Bully for us! We are all right, my old chum," and, turning to the
cavalryman, who seemed to be getting ready for a combat or a conspiracy,
he said:

"This is my old chum that I was telling about," then turning to me, for
I was not yet fully satisfied in my own mind--"Why, in h--, didn't you
tell me, so that we could come together?"

Then, after seeing that I was indeed O. K. at last, and, sure enough,
under the guard of the troopers of the United States Army, I was ready
for an Indian dance, even though I was so tired that my legs would
scarcely carry me along.

The youngest of the troopers was a handsome boy of about nineteen or
twenty, who informed me that he was a Kentuckian, and one of the company
of Kentucky Cavalryman in the Union Army.

I hope this young chap and his companion are living yet somewhere in the
beautiful blue-grass region of Kentucky, and that they may see this
book, and will be kind enough to give me their present address.




I knew by that particular instinct, born of a soldier's daily experience
of months among his own kind, that the two Cavalrymen I had seen coming
up the road toward me were not from the army I had just left, or I
should have kept quiet. Probably it was because I remembered, at the
first glance of them, that I had not seen any such looking troopers in
the Rebel Army, either about the Gap or in the interior country beyond,
through which I had so recently traveled miles on horseback.

After some "mutual explanations and introductions," with a general
hand-shaking all around, wherein it was laughingly agreed among them
that my Jack Shepard manner of jumping out of a bush to demand
satisfaction was a good joke--on my part--as they supposed it, I "fell
in" with Lanyard and Baker, and we marched on ahead of the two
cavalrymen toward the Union camp. Though I was tired and well-nigh
exhausted, I walked ahead so briskly and stepped out so joyously that I
was almost keeping the horses on a trot to keep up with us. This fact
elicited from the older of the Kentucky cavalrymen an observation to his
comrade that comprised about all the words that I remember to have heard
him speak while in his company:

"My h--, don't that fellow travel!"

I am not prepared to say whether the renewed motive power was supplied
through a fear of the Rebels coming after us in force, or a wild desire
to get to a place where the blue soldiers were to be seen in greater

As we walked along together, Lanyard gave me a minute and funny account
of the manner in which my disappearance was accounted for by my late
companions in arms at the Gap.

"Well, by G--! I never thought you were a real Yankee. Why didn't you
say something to me before? I was your best friend always, you sucker."
Then, with a loud laugh and a slap on my tired back that nearly knocked
me off my feet, he made a break for the little, fat Dutch baker.

"Say, Baker, ain't you just playing off as a Dutchman? Come now; let's
hear you talk plain United States. You are in a free country."

The baker had suddenly dodged to the other side of the road when the
hilarious Lanyard readied his ponderous claws toward him, and only
grinned back, in broad Dutch, his reply to the suggestion. After a
little more of this sort of sky-larking, as he called it, he cooled down
sufficiently to talk in a more rational way, but kept on using, by way
of emphasis, as Parson Brownlow would say, "Good mouth-filling oaths,
that would blister a sailor's lips."

"Why, blank it--I only shipped with this gang of pirates until we could
reach some civilized port where I could get ashore amongst white

Lanyard was opposed to "d----d niggers," and had somehow become full of
the contrary notion, that the South was fighting to retain the colored
population, and the North wished to free them, merely that they could be
sent, as he said, "back to Africa, where they belong."

"You were not missed from camp last night until it was time to turn in;
the duffer that was on watch up on the volcano back there reported to
his partner, who took his place, that you had said you were sick, and
had gone down to the house below to get a hot supper, so he told him not
to shoot at you when you came in to roost.

"Our old chum, the Colonel, you know, he got excited because you didn't
show up, so he had to turn us out to go down to the old house to fetch
you in. I told him it was no use; that you would be too drunk to walk up
the hill; but he made me take a mate out of our mess, and started us out
after you. We couldn't get by the watchman. We told the blasted fool
that we had to go down the hill to find you, but he kept fooling with
his gun, and swore he'd sink us if we tried to run out of port.

"Pretty soon the racket and loud talk brought an officer and a whole
gang of fellows on to us, and we were taken into the guard-house. We had
to stay there half the night before any of our fellows came to help us
out; then the Colonel and Elkton figured around and, by a lot of
talking, they were allowed to take us back to our shanty to finish the
rest of the night.

"Now I wanted to get out of that country and go to New York, terrible
bad, but, by G--, I never would have thought of going down into that
wood to find a path to New York. I was just going to wait until the
Yankees came up to fight us, and then I was going right out to join them
in spite of h--; but I wanted to see them first. Well, while we were in
the guard-house that night, and our Lieutenant was talking with the
other officer about getting us out, I heard them say something about
your 'being in the Yankee camp before we started after you.' This set me
thinking about your being there and me left in the Rebel guard-house.

"On the way back to our shanty, I asked the Lieutenant if he thought you
were captured by the Yanks, and he said:

"Oh, no! he's got lost, and will turn up all right when it gets

"But the Lieutenant was in a damn bad humor about your going off, and
kept talking to the Sergeant about it being "queer" that you should come
up from Knoxville and go straight out into that country alone. The
Colonel was satisfied that you were lost, but the Lieutenant said the
officers up at the guard-house were sure you had gone straight to the
Yankee Camp, as they were out on the road only a mile and you must have
been among them before night.

"The Lieutenant talked to them as if it might be so, because you had
been having a row with the Captain again, and it was hard to tell what
you had been doing last. That is about the way they kept talking about

"I began to think, if the Yankees were only a mile off, that I would
like to go and see them, and not wait for them to come up and see us. So
that night, after we got back to our quarters, I told the Lieutenant I
would start out at daybreak and hunt you up, my notion being that you
had left for good and I wanted to join you. The duffer that was with me
swore he would not go along with me down the hill, if the Yankees were
only a mile off. At this the Dutchy wakened up from his sleep and
bravely volunteered to go along with me." Then Lanyard with a
contemptuous look, turned to Baker and said: "Say, Dutchy, you blasted
rascal, you played me for a marine, didn't you?" But getting only
another broad smile from Baker for a reply, he continued talking, much
to the amusement of our Guard of Cavalrymen, his tongue and jaw keeping
pace with our quick steps.

"Well, to make a long story short, I laid awake all the balance of the
night in thinking it over. I got our old chum to fix up a plan with the
officers to allow me to go out to hunt you up; and just as soon as I
could bundle up a little, we made the break, and came straight down the
road to that house. They told us you had not been there that night.
After taking my bearings, we grabbed the anchor, set full sail, and ran
out the road until these chaps hailed us back at the house there.

"Dutchy kept right along side of me; he wasn't a bit afraid of the
Yankees, he said, and wanted to go ahead." Then with a look of assumed
disgust at the baker for having so shrewdly deceived him by pretending
bravery in meeting Yankees, while his intention all the time was simply
to conceal his real motive, which had been to escape, his tongue ran on
with an amusing soliloquy, and, partly addressing himself to the
cavalryman about 'the deceitful, lying, treacherous marines he--the
guileless, innocent sailor boy--had been compelled to associate with for
so long a time against his inclination.'

This cavalry was part of an outpost who were stationed at this point on
the road nearest the rebels, as is the usual custom; they were some
miles in advance of the infantry or the headquarters, of the camp. We
learned from our Guard that their principal duty consisted in receiving
and escorting to headquarters the scores of Unionist refugees, who were
constantly coming into their lines day and night, in an exhausted
condition, through the passes of these mountains. Most of these
Unionists were promptly enlisted into the Tennessee regiments, then in
camp with the Union army. By this means was solved a difficult problem
for the officers, as to their maintenance, when driven away from their
homes. (The Government was supposed to guarantee protection to them in
their homes.) Under this head, or in this classification, we were placed
by the Union officer with whom we first came in contact.

Some time ago, in looking over a volume of the published War Records, by
a mere accident I turned to a page referring to some operations about
Cumberland Gap, and, because of its familiarity to me, I took the time
to hunt up, as nearly as I could, some of the official records bearing
on the time of my escape. On a certain page, which I could give herein,
is an official report of the general officer in command of the Union
forces, announcing the arrival of "three men" who had escaped from the
Rebel army that date, and who had given him valuable information of the
plans and the forces of the Rebels in his front.

As I have previously stated, I have no memory for dates, but my
impression is that our information, at that time, was of service to
General Grant, who was then operating in the West, in this, that I had
satisfied the general officer, from my account of the location of the
Rebel troops, their guns and earthworks in the Gap, that it could not be
captured by assault, by any reasonable force in front. In the words of
Longfellow, adapted to the occasion:

    "Try not the Pass, the young man said."

And they didn't. The force that had been idly lying out there, where
provisions and ammunition had to be hauled for miles upon miles over the
miserable Kentucky roads, soon after changed their base, and were placed
where they could do the most good.

It was late in the afternoon when we reached the camp of the Union
forces. I was tired--very tired, and most awfully hungry, too, when we
got in sight of a real camp of soldiers, which was, in those days, laid
out in regular form according to the books, in rows upon rows of tents
in the woods; a neat clean parade ground, from the center of which rose
a tall staff, on the very pinnacle of which was flying--old glory--the
Stars and Stripes.

There are moments in every soldier's life time that will never be
effaced from the memory, and this was one that, in my heart to-day, is
as bright and happy as it was twenty-five years ago. I can not describe
my feelings; I will not attempt it. Those who have tried to read my
experiences for the months preceding will understand, but only feebly,
how heartfelt was my gratitude in that supreme moment of my life. It was
as if I had escaped an ignoble death, but, generally, my heart was
filled with unselfish pride and pleasure at seeing floating up there,
above the army, the flag that for months upon months I had heard decried
until sometimes I begun to think that there was no one to defend it but
me, and I was all alone among enemies, and must grin and bear the daily
abuse in silence. I don't believe I spoke a word to anybody for an hour.

Near the flag were a few large tents standing by themselves, which were
pointed out to us as the headquarters, where we were to be conducted as
soon as we had washed off some of the dirt and dust. In front of these
headquarter tents were seated three officers comfortably smoking pipes
and chatting together pleasantly.

We were transferred to an infantry guard, being still held as prisoners.
After giving us plenty of time to put ourselves in as good shape as we
could, and being kindly tendered all the aid they could give us, we were
put between files of neatly uniformed soldiers. When I made some remark
to one of them about going to unnecessary trouble about us, as we were
only too glad to get there, and weren't going to leave them, he
explained with a laugh, as he fixed his bayonet to the gun: "That's all
right; we know that; but the 'old man' would kill us if we should march
you fellows up there in anything but the regular military style."

So, after putting us in about the shape that the recruit occupies at his
muster into the G. A. R., a sprightly young officer of the guard, with
sash and sword, gave the order to forward, and we were marched across
the parade ground toward headquarters.

As we passed almost under the flag, I looked up, and, without a thought
that anyone would see me, I involuntarily took off my old rebel hat. Our
appearance was, of course, attracting very general attention in the
camp, and, I presume, some of them witnessed the humble salute to the
old flag, which was the more marked as I wore the gray clothes of a
rebel and a traitor to the flag.

To my surprise, the "old man," as the General was called, was quite an
ordinary-looking little gentleman. It was General Carter, of East
Tennessee. As I have since been advised, he had been a naval officer in
the United States Naval Service for some years before the war.

The Guard, after properly presenting us, were dismissed; we were
pleasantly invited to take seats on a log, and for an hour I did most of
the talking, but that Union officer only gathered from me my East
Tennessee experience, which was of immediate use to him; he was told
nothing whatever of my former relations with Washington and the
Secretary of War.

There was a young fellow on the staff of the General who exerted himself
in a very pleasant, easy way to make us comfortable. To him I was
particularly indebted for some personal favors, that I have never had an
opportunity of repaying, except at this late date to publicly
acknowledge my obligation.

There was not a dollar of any kind of money between the three of us, so
we had need of friends then. In this camp I first saw a greenback, which
was presented to me by this young officer.

After the General was satisfied that he had pumped us all dry of
information, he gave the necessary orders for our entertainment.

We were taken in charge by a couple of jolly fellows of an Indiana
regiment, one of whom had been a river man, and had some acquaintance
with that section of the Ohio river, the headwaters of which I had
started out from with Andy Johnson's train some months before. The
"boys" gave us a hearty supper of _coffee_--real coffee.

It is sufficient to say here that the boys of that Indiana regiment were
clever fellows; they treated us bang-up, as our fellows always did when
a poor, hungry devil in gray strayed in to take supper with them.

There were one or two exceptions, as there always is in every company,
who run around to do the scavenger work. I was tired--I believe I have
said so once before--and, as soon as possible, after the grub had been
swallowed, I hunted a place to stretch myself out for a rest. I felt
safe enough, and knew then that, for the first night in months, I could
lie down to sleep in perfect security, not dreading or fearing what the
next day would bring forth.

One of those curs, that was always hanging around to make themselves
noticed, seemed to have taken offense at what he supposed was an
intentional slight or failure to recognize his importance; he was, I
think, a First Sergeant of a company--one of those fellows who have a
grievance against everybody because he wasn't the Colonel. I don't
really remember what I could have said or done to have brought upon my
defenseless head his vengeance; but it's my impression now that, in his
positive, disagreeable way, he had been boastfully referring to the
Rebel soldiers in their front as being of no consequence--you all know
how some fools talk about the enemy. It's barely possible that I had
resented his estimate of the ability of the Rebels I had just left. I
had been among them a good while, and knew something of their character,
and it was a weakness with me to attempt to defend them at such a time;
but I reckon I was as big a fool as this fellow himself, and talked too
much in an honest, candid way about the earnestness and patriotic zeal
and enthusiasm, as well as the undoubted courage of the Rebel soldiers.

I reckon that I was so tired that I was cross-grained at the persistence
of the fellow urging himself upon me. I was wakened from a sound sleep
by a Corporal with an armed guard, who said he had orders to put me in
the guard-house. Hardly realizing my position, in my dazed condition, I
mechanically followed the Corporal out into the cool, night air, which
had the effect of awakening me fully to the changed conditions in my

It seemed so like a dream that I could scarcely realize that I was being
escorted to a guard-house. The Corporal kindly intimated to me that
there were fears that I would get away. I could get no further
satisfaction from him or the guard, except that the matter would be
explained in the morning.

The fact that a Sentinel stood near me with a loaded musket did not at
all interfere with my slumber; it rather had the effect of inducing more
sound sleep, as I felt a certain personal security from the Rebels as
long as I was honored with a private protector of my own--while I slept.
In the morning a good breakfast was sent me. Lanyard called, but was not
permitted to speak to me, and walked off swearing to himself. After
guard-mounting, I was conducted to the General's tent, where I met the
young staff officer, who, in the most brotherly manner, said:

"Mr. ----, the General was disposed to give you special consideration,
because it seems that he had been impressed by your manner and your
voluntary salute to our colors yesterday, that you were a born loyalist;
but he is informed by Captain ---- and some member of Company --,
Indiana, that you were detected in giving expression to the most
traitorous sentiments, and you declared your belief of the ultimate
success of the Rebels, which, you know, is not the way you talked to us

My manner and the expression of my face must have satisfied the young
officer at once. Really, I was too much taken aback to speak for a
moment, but, when my tongue did get loosened, it gave expression to such
violent language that the young officer laughed heartily at my
earnestness. I denied most positively the use of any such words, and
demanded the authority. The officer simply said:

"Well! The General said you were nobody's fool, and I didn't think you
would have talked that way in our camp;" then, turning to an orderly, he
directed him to bring to headquarters a certain person, whose name I am
sorry I am unable to give. It was the blatant First Sergeant who had
forced himself upon me. When face to face with him, in the presence of
the General and several other persons, I was able to so completely
demolish his statements that his discomfiture was enjoyed by everybody
around the camp. I was indignant, and I talked badly. I was apt to be
that way then, and my tongue and gestures toward my _vis-a-vis_ created
so much amusement I was allowed to indulge myself to the fullest extent.
It was a mistake of mine. The Sergeant went away humiliated and full of
revengeful intent. I was released from arrest and joined Lanyard in the
camp. The affair had created something of a breeze, as every soldier in
camp had heard of the arrest. While in a tent, surrounded by a crowd of
boys who were congratulating me, an officer with a drawn sword rushed
into the crowd and in an instant put the point of his sword against my
breast, with a wild oath, as he grabbed for my throat, declaring he
would kill me if I did not retract every word I said to the General
about his First Sergeant.


I have said that, in cases of sudden and dangerous emergency, I was
always able to be cool, while I get terribly rattled in anticipation of
imaginary danger. So it was that, in this case, I was the only cool one
in the crowd. Looking straight in the Captain's eye, and wholly
disregarding his sword, I said to him, calmly: "I am unarmed and a

At this, one of the men present, though only an enlisted man, attempted
to interfere in my behalf, which only seemed to further enrage the
officer, who turned from me to glare at the common soldier.

In the mean time some one had run over to headquarters and told the
General and staff that I had been killed by this officer. In a moment
the young staff officer made his appearance on the scene, and my life
was again saved. The explanation was, that the Indiana Captain was a
brother-in-law of the First Sergeant whom I had discomfited. I was
politely requested to accompany the young staff officer to the General's
tent where the matter was explained.

I have seen military men awfully mad, but it was the first time I ever
beheld a General get so angry that he turned as white as a dead man;
why, he couldn't speak at all, but simply walked off; and those who had
not seen his face would have been led to imagine that he was simply
indifferent. I was invited to sit down near the headquarters' tent. In a
very few moments--less than it takes to tell it here--that Indiana
Captain's sword was taken from him, he was in arrest, in disgrace for
having been guilty of one of the most cowardly unofficer-like acts that
can be charged to a soldier--that of assaulting a defenseless prisoner.

That afternoon, the Colonel of the Indiana regiment spent a couple of
hours with the General, in attempting to palliate the Captain's offense,
but it was no use. I could not hear what they said, but could see that
the little General kept shaking his head constantly in a savage
negative, that indicated his feelings.

This affair created such a stir in the camp that it was thought best to
send us away at once. So, that evening, all three of us were marched
under the same style of guard with fixed bayonets to the camp of an Ohio
regiment, located about a mile distant.

In due time we reached Lexington. Here the officer transferred us to the
charge of the sick soldiers. It so happened that, just before reaching
the town of Lexington, we had all stopped for a noon rest at a point
near which was a fine, old-fashioned mansion house, belonging to a large
farm. The house, as is the style of that country, was well supplied with
verandas and porches. In the rear was quite a little village of
whitewashed log-cabins, which I recognized as the negro quarters. The
stone spring-house was in a little ravine convenient to the barn, where
we all went to get a drink of cool water. While seated around on the
big, flat stones, enjoying the cool, refreshing water, an old gentleman,
tall and patriarchal-looking, walked toward us, and, in his courteous
manner, introduced himself to the rough-looking crowd that had taken
possession of his spring-house, as "the farmer who lived here," pointing
back to his house, and politely asked if we required anything more to
make us comfortable. For one, I felt abashed and uncomfortable, but
Lanyard spoke up and suggested that: "We would like to try a little of
the Kentucky whisky that we heard so much about."

"Certainly, certainly, sir;" and turning to a grinning colored "boy,"
who was quite a gray old rat, he directed him to "fetch the brown jug

This kindly reception of the sailor's suggestion served to make the old
gentleman exceedingly popular with the whole crowd. The colored man was
anxious to be agreeable also, and, with quite a frisky manner for one of
his age, he soon trotted back with a big jug and two tin cups.

"Wait on the gentlemen," was the brief order. The old darky smiled all
over when he saw the alacrity with which the boys crowded toward the
jug. I had never allowed myself to drink, and when my turn came the old
gentleman seemed to be offended at my declining it, as if it were the
quality of the whisky that I was objecting to; he explained:

"You need not be afraid of that, my boy, it's pure; the rye was grown
right over in that field, sir; I had it made myself, sir; it's for my
own family use, sir."

To satisfy him I took hold of a tin cup and allowed the boy to pour out
a spoonful or two, intending to fill it up with water.

"No use in that, sir; it don't need any water, sir."

I gulped it down like a dose of medicine, and put a tin cup full of
water on top of it. It was the first time I had ever seen whisky drank
from a tin, but I saw lots of it come from the tin canteens soon after.

The effect on Lanyard was to make him talkative and somewhat
confidential with the genial old host. I didn't hear what was said, but
when we had separated, or the jug had been emptied, Lanyard took me to
one side and muttered in my ear, in a half-drunken way, in great
confidence that: "I've told the old man that you and I were Confederate
prisoners, and gave him a hint that we would be glad to get a lunch."
Then grabbing me by the arm, I was dragged up to the house and made to
sit down on the veranda with him. I wasn't drunk--that's a fact--I
could see peeping through the window shades several pairs of bright

I realized at a glance that it was our gray clothes that was the
attraction, and that the appearance of two _real_ Confederates on that
porch was creating something of a sensation among the lady occupants of
that "Old Kentucky Home."

In order to gratify my vanity, and to see the ladies, as well as a
desire to have some fun, I helped to keep up this delusion. Lanyard's
object was something good to eat.

Lest there should be some misunderstanding on the part of our officer
and his companions as to our motives, I quietly gave them the cue, and I
admit now, with a sense of mortification, that we shamefully imposed
ourselves on the kind people of that home as Confederates, and, through
this means, we were so hospitably entertained that the officer in
command was induced to prolong his camp in that grove all night.

Several of us were furnished with an elegant supper of chicken and corn
cakes, while the officer and myself were agreeably entertained by the
ladies in the parlor during the long evening.

There were, also, a couple of mules going back home on sick furlough.
These were tied on behind the wagon that was in front of ours, being
towed along in this way like a pair of solemn prisoners of war.

One of these mules was bigger than the other, but the little one had the
larger head and longer ears of the two, which gave to it a peculiar,
wise-looking expression of grave dignity. It was what would be called a
roan. I remember that, in our joking way, we had lots of fun about its
hide being about the color of the Rebel uniforms. I reckon our loud and
coarse remarks about this mule must have hurt its feelings; at least,
this is the only way in which I can account for its subsequent
vindictive conduct toward me.

Those who have been in Kentucky--especially that part of Kentucky--will
know something about the roads. At this season of the year they were
simply awful--not so muddy, but just about as rough as big rocks, and
the exposed roots of large trees could make them. The rains for ages
back seemed to have washed out all the bottom of earth, and had left
exposed on the surface a network or corduroy of roots, with the chinks
filled in with stones. It wasn't pleasant riding in an army wagon over
these roads, and we earned our passage by walking. There was not
sufficient room on that road beside the wagon for a foot path, so we had
to follow in the rear of the wagons. In a long procession of wagons,
mules, and soldiers, sandwitched one behind the other, I was walking
slowly, one afternoon, with my head down, thinking over the happy
escapes from the many dangers through which I had been almost
miraculously preserved, and no doubt dreaming of the anticipated joys of
a welcome home, which was soon to be realized, when all of a sudden I
felt a quick rush of wind and dust thrown like a gust into my face; at
the same time the rim of my hat was barely touched by the heels of that
roan mule. The fellow who was beside me cried out something about
"looking out," and dragged me back into the heads of the team following.

This is not an attempt to be funny, but is set down here as a most
remarkable intervention of Providence--or my good angel--for my safety.
That mule kicked back over a clear space as long as himself, and had
correctly directed his heels right into my face; had I been two inches
closer, the blow would have been received full on my forehead and must
have fractured my skull with its force.

When we got into the town, or City of Lexington, about noon, one day, we
found the town full of people. It was, I think, court week; anyway, the
prisoner game was played on some of the citizens here also, by Lanyard.
In this way we were well cared for.

It was night when we reached Cincinnati, where we were ferried over the
Ohio river and placed on Ohio soil. Here I was, at last, free of all
restraint, and permitted to do as I pleased. Lanyard was still full of
the genuine Kentucky bourbon, and that night was lost to me forever.

I usually hunted up in those days, on reaching a city, a telegraph
office, that I might announce to my folks at home, in this spirited way,
that I had again returned to the earth for a brief visit to them. It was
always a surprise to them to hear from me, after one of these
secret-service trips; they never knew exactly where I was, of course,
and could not make any calculations as to what point on the earth my
balloon would land me next. It will be remembered that I had come upon
them suddenly, after being widely advertised as having been hung by
both the Rebels and our own officers at Fort Pickens, some time
previously, from New York. This time it was from Cincinnati.

Being one of the boys--that is, a telegrapher--I usually had free access
to the operating-rooms of the offices, where I frequently met with some
of the fraternity with whom I was well acquainted--by wire. You know it
is a fact that there are old acquaintances and even intimate friends
amongst telegraphers, who have never met personally; their only method
of knowing each other is through the mysterious and magnetic pulse of
the electric wave over the wire.

In the operating room of the Cincinnati office, up on a dingy fourth
floor, I found the night manager, a gentleman whom I had known
familiarly by wire, though I had never seen him before. Introducing
myself, I was at once made at home, and felt as if I had met the first
friend since my return. After giving him a brief account of myself, I
was courteously put in instant communication with some of my old
associates in the neighboring city, with whom I was personally
acquainted, and who had, by the way, heard of my mysterious
disappearance and subsequent adventures. For the time being, all other
business was laid to one side on that telegraph circuit and the entire
system was turned over to me.

Remember, if you please, that I had not heard a single word from home
for over eight months. I did not, of course, know that all were well. I
almost dreaded to hear first that some one dear to me had died during my
long absence. I had sent some communications through the blockade from
Richmond, but this had been some time before I left East Tennessee.

Of course, no replies to these could be received by me. Now, if the
reader will put himself in my own, or my father's place, each at the end
of a wire five hundred miles long, and try to imagine, if he can, the
agony of suspense and fear that hung over me at that hour, he will
realize, in part, my feelings. My nerves were at such a tension that,
figuratively speaking, they were strung out as long as that wire, that
reached over miles of mountain and plain to my Pennsylvania home. With
my own hand trembling on the telegraph key I sent my own message, as

"To father: I am here safe; are all well at home?"


While waiting for the answer, which I knew must come soon, the moments
seemed hours of suspense, while I tried to entertain my friends who were
about me with a brief sketch of my adventurers, one of the operators
took from the wires and handed me the reply, which I had failed to catch
with my own ear while engaged in the talk. He read aloud the exact words
of a _bona fide_ message:

"I had little hopes of ever seeing you again. Come straight home. Your
uncle A---- is dead. All the rest well.--Father."

That was all. It was enough. All were well at home. The uncle who had
died in my absence was the one relative I had last visited on the day I
heard of the battle of Bull Run. I would like here to tender a tribute
to my father, but I feel that I am not competent to do the subject

He still lives, an old patriarch, and will read these notes and for the
first time fully understand the entire story of his wayward boy's
adventures. My father was the one true constant friend of my checkered
career, and to him and his untiring interest in my behalf I owe not only
the preservation of my life, but what little I have attained in this
world. I can sincerely thank God, as Beecher says, "That I was born of
parents who gave me a sound constitution and a noble example, and can
never pay back what I got from my parents. If I were able to raise a
monument of gold higher than heaven, it would be no expression of the
debt of gratitude which I owe them, for that which they unceasingly gave
by the heritage of their body and the heritage of their souls to me."

That night we reached Pittsburgh, which had been my business home for
some years immediately preceding my war travels.

My father's home was not at that time in Pittsburgh but a little
distance beyond.

Early next morning I was around town, and soon enough found plenty of my
old chums. I was only in danger then of meeting too many people who were
anxious to hear my story from my own lips. Luckily for me, perhaps, I
was captured by Mr. William Moreland, an old associate, who was then the
district attorney, and through his advice and management I was preserved
from my friends, and urged not to talk too much until I had first
reported to Washington.

It will be remembered that I had suffered previously by giving the New
York papers an account of my Florida campaign in advance of my report to
Washington; and, with a desire to profit by this experience, I refrained
from giving away my story.

At my father's house, on the sunset side of the Allegheny Mountains
close by Cresson Springs, I remained in comparative retirement but for a
few days.

While I was at home, it so happened that Parson Brownlow was coming up
through Ohio on his way to Washington, after his release or banishment
from home. He was having quite extensive ovations at all the principal
cities, delivering at each place one of his characteristic speeches. One
day, rather unexpectedly to me, we were told that the Parson would pass
our place on a certain train in a few hours. I determined to see him,
and, if possible, get a speech for our townspeople while the train
stopped. Quite a crowd had gathered about the platform by the time the
train reached us. We discovered the Parson on the engine. The railroad
officials, who were quite attentive to this class of travelers, usually
tender their distinguished guests a seat on the engine, for a better
view of the scenery as the train is whirled over the big mountain.

I climbed up on the engine as soon as the train stopped, followed by my
father and several others. The Parson looked surprised, and I imagined
for a moment that when he saw the familiar gray clothes making a break
on him, followed by a crowd of eager persons so closely, that he
recalled some of his former Knoxville experiences among the Rebels.

Mr. Brownlow had changed considerably since I had seen him, when he was
wrapped up in his old shawl in his Knoxville parlor. He was dressed in a
new suit of black broadcloth, and wore a high silk hat, gloves, etc.,
that gave him quite a clerical appearance.

Without speaking a word for a moment, so surprised was he, he simply
reached his hand toward me with a blank stare of astonishment on his
countenance. To my hearty, laughing greeting, he soon cordially replied,
recognizing me as his interviewer with Miss Craig, and, but for the fact
that the train stopped only a moment, we would have had a good speech
from him.

When the train reached Altoona, twenty-five miles beyond, where the
party were met by G. W. Childs and Mr. Stewart, as a committee of
reception from the City of Philadelphia, and, in reply to their address
of welcome, Mr. Brownlow pleasantly referred to "meeting one of his
rebel guard up on the mountain," declaring that the Rebel ghost followed
him, phantom-like, every place he went, night and day, always awake.



It was my good fortune at the time of my return home to meet with the
Hon. A. A. Barker, of Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, who had been a friend of
the family all my life, who subsequently represented that district of
Pennsylvania in Congress. Mr. Barker may be described as being in every
sense a large man. He was one of those great six-feet, bone-and-sinew
fellows, who, as he used to say, "come from way down in Maine, where I
was bred and born." He was not only large in stature, but broad and
liberal otherwise, with a head and heart in correct proportion. He lives
yet, an honored citizen and a veritable Daniel in the politics of his
adopted State, and will, I have no doubt, be glad to read in print the
history of his _protege_ of the early days of the war.

Mr. Barker took me in charge for the time being, accompanying me to
Washington at his own expense, where I was to meet with my former
friend, the Hon. John Covode. We went by way of Philadelphia, in order
to again meet Parson Brownlow, who was then a guest of Mr. George W.

The purpose of the visit was to obtain from Mr. Brownlow some additional
endorsement from him, of my being in Knoxville, that my friends desired
to use in Washington.

In those days I cared but little for such matters, as proofs or evidence
of work I had endeavored to perform, which, as a rule, we left to others
to look after in my interest. It would have been better for me in those
days, perhaps, if I had been blessed with a little bit of ordinary
business management, but I confess here that I had but a small allowance
of "business sense," as that term is applied to selfish interests. I am
thankful, however, for a good memory, and really believe that, after a
little quiet reflection, I can bring to my mind nearly everything that
happened to me during the war--that is worth remembering.

I was induced to say that I had but little common sense, by the
reflection, after a lapse of twenty-five years, that I must have shown a
lamentable lack of policy, by traveling about so defiantly at this time
in Pennsylvania and Washington, clothed in a dirty Rebel uniform. This
in itself was bad enough, but I was frequently so indiscreet as to show
some boyish resentment toward every person whom I imagined was showing
an idle curiosity as to my history.

I became contrary, or, if you please, cranky, and indignantly refused to
act upon the suggestion of friends, that I should make a change in my
dress, declaring stubbornly that I should face the President in that
uniform--and I did--at the War Department office in Washington; but it
was a foolish thing to do, and gave me a heap of trouble subsequently,
as we shall see.

One of the most unlucky or unfortunate changes that had occurred during
my long absence in Richmond was, that Simon Cameron had been relieved,
as the Secretary of War, by the Hon. E. M. Stanton.

The kind and clever old Pennsylvania statesman, who had been induced to
take such an interest in my work, and to whom I was directly
responsible, was, at the time of my return, away off in St. Petersburg,
Russia, as Minister for the United States.

Colonel Thomas A. Scott, who had been an Assistant Secretary of War to
Mr. Cameron, and whose personal endorsement to Mr. Cameron had first set
me going, had also been relieved by a Mr. P. H. Watson, who was at the
time Acting Assistant Secretary to Mr. Stanton.

My brother, Spencer, who, for some months previously, had been in the
employ of the War Department as a telegraph operator, and whose
relations with the Government officials were necessarily somewhat of a
confidential character, took me to his room in a boarding-house on F
street, where were living a number of War Department clerks. Spencer
thought the fact of my wearing the Rebel uniform one of the best kind of
jokes, and he, consequently, took great delight in calling the attention
of all his War Department associates to the fact.

My old and constant friend "Glory to God," as the Hon. John Covode was
called, was the only man of prominence in Washington that I knew, or who
had any knowledge of my previous undertakings. He was a Member of
Congress from a Pennsylvania District adjoining my own home, near
Pittsburgh. Congress was in session at this time, and it so happened
that, for some months previously Mr. Covode had been stirring things up
in the House at a lively rate, by his persistent investigation of our
military men and movements in Virginia. There had been an investigation
of Bull Run, of Ball's Bluff massacre, of old Patterson, in
Pennsylvania, and, more recently, a great hubbub had been raised all
over the country about General McClellan's failure, or slowness, in
moving "on to Richmond" via Manassas.

There was, indeed, a great deal of this sort of thing going on, the
details of which had been ground up and sifted through the one joint
"Committee on the Conduct of the War," of which Mr. Covode was chairman.
To make a long story short, all will see--to use a vulgar term--that my
arrival was "just nuts to Old Glory," as some one told me. If an angel
had dropped down from the sky to corroborate the honest old man's
assertion, it would not have been more opportune.

I had been inside the Rebel lines for months. I had obtained the Rebel
opinions, officially, of Manassas, after the battle, and knew the exact
strength of the Rebel Army was not _one-half_ as large as McClellan's
scare had represented it to be. I had heard the comments of the Rebel
Secretary of War on Ball's Bluff massacre. Mr. Covode could, and did,
endorse me as a "reliable devil," as he put it, in the committee room,
and, of course, I was willing enough to be of service to my old friend,
and was glad that I was able to substantiate nearly all of his

The morning of my arrival in Washington, I hunted up Mr. Covode, and
found him in his rooms at the old Avenue Hotel, the large, plain, old
affair, that once stood at the corner of Seventh and Market Space. I was
an early caller, and, without a card, knocked at his door before he was
out of bed. To his sleepy growl of "Who's there?" I simply gave my name.
There was only one word of reply, "Helloa," in a loud emphatic tone;
then in a more moderate voice, he continued, as if talking to himself:
"Wait a minute. I got word you were coming, and have been expecting
you every day."


The door opened, and the great Pennsylvania statesman stood before
me--in his robe _de nuit_--grinning all over, with his hair all mussed
up and his bare legs sticking out under his shirt.

He was about as funny a looking object as anything I had met with in my
travels. He wasn't embarrassed, but, as he shook hands, I was drawn
inside, and the door closed with a bang. All that was said that morning
would make quite a chapter.

The circumstance which remains strongest in my mind to-day is, that he
sat on the edge of the bed, and asked question after question in such an
interested way that he seemed to me to have forgotten all about dressing
himself. I was for the time being more interested in seeing him get some
clothes on than in the fate of McClellan's army.

After breakfast, Mr. Covode took me to the Capitol, and the first person
I met there was Colonel J. W. Forney, then editor of the Philadelphia
_Press_, and also Secretary of the Senate. Mr. Forney impressed me most
favorably; in truth, I felt more at home with him than with my old
friend Covode--probably because Mr. Forney had the tact of drawing out
his subjects and was more able to practice the suave gentleman than was
the sturdy, honest old John. I was for a time taken in charge by Mr.
Forney, who, in turn, introduced me to several Senators, among them the
Hon. Edgar Cowan, of Pennsylvania. I remember Mr. Forney saying, in an
aside to Senator Cowan, and the others to whom I was introduced, "He is
a capital subject." Mr. Forney did me another valuable service at this
time. Of course I had no money; I had been depending upon the generous
pocketbook of my good friend Barker. I made Mr. Forney and Mr. Covode
acquainted with my circumstances, by a request for some immediate and
active employment to enable me to earn my expenses.

Mr. Forney had a clerk make out some sort of a "voucher," which I think
must have been for mileage and witness fees all over the Rebel country
that I had traversed, another clerk cashed the paper for me, and, in
this way, I was furnished at once with quite a nice little pile of
crisp, new greenbacks from the Secretary of the Senate.

This was the first and only cash that I have ever received for all those
months of service--of trial, distress and danger--excepting that which
the good comrades who will contribute by subscribing for these
"recollections of the unforgotten days to all of us."

Amongst the other members of the Pennsylvania delegation, to whom I was
introduced that morning, was the Hon. S. S. Blair, then and now a
resident of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. As Mr. Blair is the sole
survivor of those who were with me at that time, I desire particularly
that his testimony should be added to establish the correctness of my
narrative, or to serve as a review notice, if it ever attains to the
distinction of a criticism or becomes the subject of a controversy.

The Hon. J. K. Moorehead, who represented Pittsburgh, was another of the
delegation in my interest. Thus it will be seen that, through the
management of Mr. Forney, the entire Western Pennsylvania delegation,
including Senator Cowan, of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, had been
interested in my "report."

As I have before stated, I paid but little attention to these details at
the time. I had but the one request, and, as before, which was, that I
should be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Regular Cavalry
Service and detailed on the General Staff, in active field service. I
wanted to go _at once_ to the field, and cared but little for the
"effect of my testimony" before the committee, or the pecuniary reward
for the service.

Mr. Forney said, in his pleasant way, that was so grateful to me that I
have not forgotten a word of it: "Why, certainly, you must have that at
least, if not more;" but, turning to Covode, he continued: "Curtin can
do better than that for us."

Covode thought anything whatever that I wanted could be done, but
suggested, kindly, that it would be better for me not to take a
commission in the Volunteers of Pennsylvania, because I should have to
be put in over the heads of some others, and that would make it ugly for
me personally.

I agreed with Mr. Covode heartily in that. I had been in the Rebel
service long enough to see that this sort of thing didn't work there,
because Claiborne, the Mississippi Lieutenant, was really treated as a
foreigner, or outsider, by the rest of us "refugees from Maryland." So
it was arranged between them that I should have a commission in the
Regular Army. In support of this, Mr. Forney kindly talked to Senator
Cowan in my behalf, who expressed some doubts about getting a
Lieutenancy, saying in his plain way:

"Why, we may just as well ask the Secretary to make him a
Brigadier-General; he can do that, because they are making Generals
every day, but they are not making any Lieutenants in the Regular Army."

But Mr. Forney insisted in his agreeable way: "But, my dear sir, here is
a young man who has done our State--who has done the Government more
service than some of our Generals; he has been all over Virginia, and
knows all about the Rebel Army, and all about Richmond--from personal
visits; why," with an expression of disgust, "his services are simply
indispensable at this time; he should be sent down to the army, where
the information he has gained will be of immediate use to us."

The only answer that Senator Cowan made to this appeal, as he looked me
all over critically, as he would if buying a horse: "You have the right
sort of grit in you, but I don't believe we can get it."

It was arranged between them all that I should first give my testimony
before the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. Mr. Covode and Mr.
Forney quietly conferred among themselves (they were Republicans and
Senator Cowan a Democrat), and concluded that only a small part of my
history should be made public at present.

I don't know why this was thought necessary, but while Mr. Covode and I
walked together over to the committee room on the House side of the
Capitol, he cautioned me, in his fatherly way, not to talk too much, and
to answer only such questions as he would suggest.

On page 480, volume 3, of the printed document containing the report of
the Committee on the Conduct of the War, will be found only that portion
of my testimony that Mr. Covode and Mr. Forney, as my political
managers, thought advisable to put on record at the time. The full story
was detailed at different times to Mr. Forney and Mr. Covode, and
others, but has never been made fully public until the present time.

After I had finished my testimony to suit Mr. Covode, and had been
severely cross-examined by some of the opposition members of the
committee, I was told through my friend Covode, that I should make
myself perfectly comfortable; that he and the rest of the delegation
would see that I was properly cared for.

I felt that a great load had been taken off my shoulders in this one
day--that the secrets of my trip, which I had been carrying around with
me, among Rebels and friends for months, had been safely deposited with
the Government, and that I was at last free, and could do as I pleased
once more.

I had worn the Rebel uniform to the Capitol and into the committee room,
and gave my testimony standing at "attention" in it.

In giving my full testimony to the Committee on the Conduct of the War,
I had no thought of antagonizing the War Department. My secret service
was, in a manner, "irregular," and, instead of reporting direct to the
War Office or to a General in the field, I was induced to give the story
to a committee that was investigating both. In this way it was not
"suppressed" in anybody's interest, but afterward had the effect of
antagonizing certain War Department detectives against my subsequent
services, as will be shown further on.

The first thing that I did with some of the money which had been given
me was to trim myself out from head to foot in the best suit of clothes
that I could find in Washington, but I preserved the uniform for future
use. The next number on the programme was to take my brother and some of
his friends to "Gautier's"--which was then the celebrated French
restaurant--or, Chamberlains, of to-day, in Washington, where we
indulged in a generous lay-out. The third number on the programme, I
will simply describe as "making a night of it." We all went to the
Canterbury and had a pleasant evening together, while I told the party
of similar experiences at night in the Rebel Capitol at Richmond.

While I remained in Washington waiting for an office, like the
office-seekers that now hang about the Departments, I remember that I
was continually worried with the dreadful thought that McClellan's great
army of good-looking officers would get there while I was being
tethered, like a young steer, in the Capitol.

My case was "left entirely in the hands of my friends"--that is, I had
nothing whatever to do with it but to wait, which was about the most
difficult part of the job. As I recollect it, Mr. Covode was not on
such particularly good terms with Mr. Stanton as he had been with the
Pennsylvania Secretary, General Simon Cameron.

It is likely, too, that Mr. Covode's disposition to be continually
"investigating things," caused the new administration of the War
Department some annoyance. Covode was naturally Cameron's champion,
because they were both Pennsylvania politicians--if for no other reason.
On account of some such feeling as this, perhaps, it was thought
advisable among my "managers" that Mr. Covode should not personally
bother Mr. Stanton--in my interest; that part of the contract was to be
left to Senator Cowan and John W. Forney, while Covode was to see Mr.

I loafed about the Capitol a great deal during the session each day, and
I reckon, in my persistence and restlessness, that I bothered these
statesmen a good bit. I had assurances from Mr. Covode every day that
"it was all right," but I remembered that this was the exact way in
which he talked to me on the former visit, and I was blunt enough to
remind him of this truth, when he promptly got it back on me by saying:

"It would have been all right, too, if you had come back here, but we
all thought you were dead for so long."

He explained over and over again that the War Office was so crowded, on
account of the spring campaign, that it was impossible to do anything
there in a rush.

One day Senator Cowan, of Pennsylvania, handed me a very brief note,
which read as follows, bluntly directing me to go to the War Department
and watch my chance to present it personally to Mr. Stanton.

    "HON. E. M. STANTON, _Secretary of War_.

     "_Dear Sir:_ The bearer is the young man who has given
     important testimony to the committee, about whom papers have
     been filed for an appointment where he can do the most good. It
     is suggested that you may be able to learn something additional
     of value from him.

                                        Yours truly,
                                                "EDGAR COWAN."

The Senator didn't give me a chance to ask him any questions, but left
me abruptly to talk to a group of persons who were waiting for him. I
saw Mr. Forney and showed him the letter, which somehow or other was not
satisfactory to me.

Mr. Forney folded it up and handed it back to me, saying, in his elegant
way: "You just take that paper up to Stanton, and hang to him till he
_sees you_. That's all he wants." Then, in a fatherly way, he gave me
the advice to "let him do all the talking; you just answer his

In an hour I was at the old War Department again. I first put on my gray
jacket, but had covered it with a light spring duster or overcoat, at
Mr. Forney's suggestion.

The War Department of 1862 was a desolate looking old affair, something
after the architectural style of the "four story barracks," in a
well-kept arsenal reservation. On the second floor a long corridor
extended from one end of the building to the other, running east and
west, on each side of which were the rooms of the principal chiefs. In
the southeast corner, nearest to the White House, was the Secretary's
apartments, with whose location I was somewhat familiar, because of some
previous long "waits" and mighty short interviews with Mr. Cameron when
he was Secretary.

On this visit, as before, I found in this corridor rows of people seated
along the wall--ladies and gentlemen, officers, and a few sick-looking
soldiers; big fat contractors elbowed the thin-faced, big-nosed, Jewish
sutler, Congressmen, and, in fact, all sorts of people; and it is safe
to say that every one of them had been there for hours, perhaps days and
weeks previously, waiting their turn, or an opportunity to get to talk
to the Secretary on their own business, which, of course, was more
important to them than anybody else's.

There was a handsome soldier of the Regular Army in citizen's dress on
duty at the outside door, as an orderly or messenger. When I saw all
that were ahead of me, I was discouraged, but, profiting by past
experience, I made a break for the Secretary's office, when I was
stopped by the orderly, who demanded my business. I was in a Rebel
uniform, but the soldier orderly didn't notice that; he said his orders
were not to admit anybody at that time. I showed him my letter, saying,
with an assumption of importance, that I was sent to the Secretary by
Senator Cowan to present it personally. A Senator, especially a
_Democratic_ Senator's request, was really of greater weight than half a
dozen common Congressmen, because it was important just then that the
Government should conciliate the loyal Democrats in Congress.

The soldier took a card, wrote the Senator's name and my own on it, and
invited me to a vacant chair in the Secretary's office. There were rows
of people sitting alongside the wall, inside the room, just as there was
out in the corridor; but I had gained one point; I was on the inner

I had never seen Mr. Stanton before, and was not nearly so anxious to
see him again, after the first time. I need not describe the great War
Secretary's personal appearance. His face resembles the photographs, and
has always struck me as being the best likeness extant of all those
great men. He was not so tall as one would think from looking at a
picture of his face; and when I saw him, he stood at a small, high desk,
a little to one side of the room, very much to my mind in the position
of a school-teacher before an old-fashioned desk. The desk itself was a
plain, square, long-legged affair, precisely such as we used to see our
teachers stand behind, or that are used more recently by auctioneers on
street sales. The sitters on the anxious benches all around the front
portion of his room, with their serious watchful faces, helped the
illusion, that I was in the presence of a lecturer or judge, awaiting my
turn for sentence, like the rest of the culprits.

The attendant found me a chair alongside of a natty-looking young
officer in uniform on one side, and a big, fat Congressman on the other;
he laid my card, with the Senator's name, on Mr. Stanton's desk.

The Secretary was then standing beside his pulpit, talking in his
positive way to some old gentleman; he was so intent on this business
that he never deigned to look at my card when it was left on his table.
We did not overhear the conversation between the Secretary and his
visitor, and being at a loss for something to do, I turned to the young
officer beside me and said something as to the prospect for a talk with
the Secretary. He replied in a very polite way, that he had been waiting
for hours, for a single word; that, with him, it was a question of life
and death; but he couldn't get any audience until the Secretary "called
his name" from the cards on his desk.

The young man had so impressed me by his courteous manner that I became
curious to know his errand, which he explained in a whispered
conversation. He was just from the bedside of a dying father, on his way
to rejoin his command, his leave having expired; he had stopped at
Washington, and, upon the endorsement of influential Congressmen, he had
called to ask the Secretary to extend his leave so that he might be at
his father's bedside and bury him before leaving for the army. The
officer told me all of this in a trembling voice, while his eyes were
filled with tears. I felt so much sympathy for him that I offered to
give him my time if my name should be called before his. At my urgent
suggestion, when the old gentleman was about to leave the Secretary, the
young officer approached Mr. Stanton, who bluntly demanded his name.
Then looking over his file of papers to what his business was, while the
young fellow in the most genteel and effective way stated his wishes to
the Secretary. I shall never, never forget the words that Mr. Stanton
spoke on that occasion; they "sank deeply into my heart," perhaps, as
also into that of the young officer.

"I cannot extend your leave, but I will accept your resignation!" As he
said this, he handed to the officer the papers he had filed. Looking him
over in a contemptuous way, the Secretary turned to look after the next
victim on his list. The officer mildly protested, saying: "Why, Mr.
Secretary I do not want to leave the service; I merely want to spend the
last days--"

Here he was roughly interrupted by Mr. Stanton who repeated in an angry
tone, so that all could hear: "I'll accept your resignation, sir."

The poor fellow would not consent to be driven from the service in this
way, even to attend his father's last wishes. When he returned to pick
up his hat, which had been left on the chair beside me, his face was
white, and his hands trembled so that he could scarcely take hold of his
hat. I assisted him, and together we left the Secretary's office in deep
disgust. I had enough for one day. After reporting the incident to Mr.
Covode and others, they mildly laughed at my indignation, while they
expressed the cold-blooded opinion that it was only one of Stanton's
ordinary jokes.

After this, I was more than ever anxious to get out of Washington, and
began to feel that I should be willing to take anything at all, that
savored of active service in the field, being perfectly content to leave
my personal business with Mr. Stanton in the hands of my friends. It was
decided among them all that I should be taken to the White House to see
Mr. Lincoln, personally. All the arrangements for this visit were made,
as nearly as I can recollect, without consulting me about it in any way
at all. It was generally understood, I reckon, that I needed somebody to
properly present my business affairs, and that it was hardly worth while
to bother with me about such things. I only know that I was told by Mr.
Covode to get ready to accompany him to the White House.

"We are all going up in General Moorehead's carriage and want you to be
on hand sure, as it's hard to get them all together." I didn't know who
"they" were, until I came down to his room rigged out in a grey jacket.
While we were waiting for the carriage to come around for us, Mr. Covode
explained further: "We're going to make a demand on the President for
your pay out of the secret-service fund."

I had only heard in a general way that anything of this sort was
contemplated. I can say here again, sincerely, that my only desire and
aim was for a commission in the Regular Army, and a detail on the Staff,
where I should have a chance for active service in the field. While we
waited Mr. Covode explained more fully:

"You are entitled to this; the fund is being squandered shamefully by
certain influences, who are making the President believe that they are
giving him valuable information. We all know your service and experience
has been of some practical use, and you are going to be paid for it,
too, in cash as well as in promotion."

He had a way of saying things in a very emphatic style when he became
interested, when I expressed my thanks for his interest and proffered a
remuneration, he began to talk bad grammar at me in such a way that I
had to beg off.

The carriage called; in it were Senator Cowan, General J. K. Moorehead,
M. C., from Pittsburgh; Hon. S. S. Blair, of Hollidaysburg, and Hon.
John Covode. I jumped up with the coachman, and we made a charge on the
White House. Before we started off there was a short but pointed
business consultation among them. Senator Cowan had suggested: "Now we
had better have an understanding before we go up there."

General Moorehead agreed that this was necessary; and when I undertook
to make a suggestion about getting Mr. Lincoln to give me a commission,
Covode told me in polite terms but decided language, but in a fatherly
way: "Now you've got to keep quiet."

The rest all thought this quite a funny remark. When Covode crawled into
the carriage, Mr. Moorehead said, "Well, what's the programme?" Covode
explained that it was to be a demand for pay from the President's
secret-service fund. No one had even suggested the amount, and I reckon
Mr. Covode's idea was to leave this discretionary with the President,
but Mr. Blair and Moorehead, who were business men as well as statesmen,
insisted that it would be better to settle a sum in advance.

"Make it enough," said Mr. Blair.

"Yes, we may just as well make it $10,000," observed the Senator.

Mr. Moorehead shrewdly suggested: "We have to appropriate this
secret-service money anyhow, and our votes will go for this amount."

Covode admitted that, "We have given him hundreds of thousands of
dollars for this use already."

This, in a general way was the plan and purpose of the visit to Mr.
Lincoln on that date.

It failed--not that the claim was rejected by the President--it was
never presented to him or anybody else. When we reached the White House
we were informed on the threshold that "the President had that day gone
to Fortress Monroe." That ended it for that day, and for all time. Soon
after, I left Washington for another trip. The same crowd were never
again brought together in this interest. As I have said, I was not a
good manager, and perhaps neglected my own interests in this respect.

I have to show my children, however, that which is dearer to me than
gold--a commission as a Second Lieutenant signed by Abraham Lincoln and
E. M. Stanton. That will remain for all time on the war records of my
country. If I had secured this money, I might have failed in obtaining
this commission, and no doubt the $10,000 would have soon disappeared
from sight forever and no record of it left.

A few days after this visit--the date of which may be fixed by a
reference to the books, which will indicate the time of Mr. Lincoln's
visit to Fortress Monroe--I saw Mr. Stanton personally, but only for a
moment; he was not such a dreadful person after all, as I expected to
find him.

Since I had been a disgusted witness to the abrupt interview between Mr.
Secretary Stanton and the young officer who desired his leave extended
that he might visit his dying father, I was not particularly anxious to
encounter the Secretary at close range. I had said as much so
emphatically to Mr. Covode and the other friends, all of whom laughed at
my earnestness, and consoled me with the remark that they had all
suffered in the same way at the War Office, and that I must not expect
to be welcomed with open arms by Mr. Stanton. It was no good to explain
to them that I didn't want to be welcomed, or kicked out either. I was
told that I _must_ see Mr. Stanton; that they could do nothing for me
without first securing his approval. I recall in this connection an old
chestnut, which explains in reality pretty nearly the true status of
affairs between the President and his Secretary of War. In conversation
with a group of friends about my "case," Mr. Covode had expressed the
conviction that for him to interfere with Stanton would only operate
against my chances, as he was thought to be a meddlesome investigator;
and another Congressman related the story about Mr. Lincoln telling an
importunate office-seeker that he, the President, "didn't have very much
influence with this administration."

I called at the War Office several times, and always found the same old
crowd in the corridors, and, though I was somewhat "fresh" and
impulsive, I could not raise the courage to face the grim old Secretary,
because he was _always_ engaged with somebody, and I feared to intrude
or interrupt him with my personal affairs.

As I have said previously, I had a brother, who was employed in the War
Department Telegraph Office, but as his hours for duty were at night, I
could not avail myself of this opportunity to loaf with him. One day,
however, after so much annoying delay, I put on my Rebel jacket, screwed
up my courage, and determined to settle the matter by a bold dash on the
War Office. My brother accompanied me, and, while waiting in the
ante-room of the telegraph office, I had a long and quite an agreeable
chat with General Anson Stager, who had charge of all the military
telegraph. The General, in those days, was quite a jolly, good-natured
gentleman; and, in this respect, almost the opposite to his subordinate,
Major Eckert, who was very dignified in his bearing toward his
subordinates. I was young and not unobserving, and I noticed that Major
Eckert always lost his dignity and high-and-mighty bearing, when he had
any dealings with _his_ superiors. General Stager was alike to all.

General Stager became much interested in my secret service more
especially in that part wherein I had attached myself to the Rebel
telegraph office at General Beauregard's headquarters, from whence I
could overhear all the messages between headquarters and Richmond.
General Stager laughed heartily at my recital of these events. He looked
at my rebel jacket with interest, took hold of my arm to critically
examine the texture of the cloth, and wound up by saying:

"Well, you certainly are an acquisition to us, and I want you in our

When I explained my desire to obtain a commission, that I might get into
active service, the General endeavored in a kindly way to persuade me

"It wasn't worth while to do that; they could pay me more salary than a
commission as Second Lieutenant would bring beside I should be allowed
all the liberty I chose at the front, being at headquarters as a
civilian, furnished with a horse or ambulance, and all the rations I
could consume, and independent of the military."

He made it very attractive indeed; but I resisted the temptation,
determined to stick to my plans. I had expressed a willingness to do or
undertake any special service, but I wanted to be an officer. After
consultation with some one in another room, who was either the Secretary
himself or some of the high officials in the Adjutant-General's
Department, General Stager came back to me and clinched that which came
very near being a nail in my coffin. He proposed something like this:

"The army is on the peninsula, and Washington is cut off in a manner
from telegraph communication with them, except by means of a dispatch
boat to the nearest point on the Maryland side of the Chesapeake, from
which the telegraph is open to Washington. If you could open
communication for us, _overland_--say from Fredericksburg, or the
outposts of our forces there, to connect with McClellan on the Peninsula
by courier service--it would be a good thing for us, as we could hear
from our army so much quicker."

Everybody will appreciate the anxiety of the officials to hear from the
Army promptly and frequently. In other words, I was to operate secretly
between our lines below Fredericksburg and McClellan's advance, only a
gap of a few miles, but not occupied by either army but infested with

I accepted the proposition without a moment's thought about the probable
difficulties that were to be met with in carrying out the undertaking,
and I had been over that country in Virginia and was familiar with it. I
was anxious to do _anything_ that would give me an opportunity for
active service.

My brother interposed some objections, which General Stager thoughtfully
considered, and, after admonishing me of the danger in my case, he again
proffered service in the telegraph department. It was arranged between
us that I should call again on the following day; meantime he would
consult with some of the officers and ascertain their wishes in regard
to the matter.

General Eckert, who was in the room, had overheard part of my story--he
had not been consulted at all by General Stager--to my mind, showed in
his manner some little resentment toward me, probably because of the
interest that General Stager had seemingly taken in my affairs.

He felt impelled to make some remark, intended to be jocular, about a
Rebel uniform being in the War Department. I didn't pay much attention
to it at the time, and probably would not have observed the circumstance
had not several others, who were present, made it a subject of
conversation among themselves at our dinner-table that day.

In leaving the War Department Building that day, I walked out by the
basement or east door, nearest the White House, intending to take the
short cut, through the White House grounds, to our boarding-house on F

Just as I passed out of the door my quick eye detected President Lincoln
coming up the few stone steps into the doorway; as he slowly walked or
shuffled along, he was apparently reading the contents of a paper, which
he held before his eyes with both hands. I had seen Mr. Lincoln
inaugurated, and frequently since. I recognized him at a glance, and to
get a closer look, I respectfully stood to one side of the steps to let
him pass. A gentleman was walking alongside of the President, and as
the two passed the President became crowded quite close to me, and
actually touched or rubbed against my Rebel uniform. Mr. Lincoln
apparently did not see me; he was too deeply immersed in reading, or
trying to read, the letter he held in his hand as he walked, while the
gentlemen with him was gabbling in his ear in a very earnest manner.

So it happened, as I had predicted, when my home friends had shown their
opposition to my wearing the gray, that I saw Mr. Lincoln while dressed
in my Rebel uniform. I had shaken hands with "the other President"--Jeff
Davis--in Richmond, only a short time previously, while attired in the
same court dress.

This "interview" wasn't exactly as satisfactory to me as it might have
been, if I had been presented by the delegation that had called with me
a few days sooner. But I had "seen the President," and, as there had
been such a great opportunity presented for some further secret service
in my line, I didn't care very much just then whether I should again get
the crowd together for another call or not.

That evening I saw Mr. Covode, to whom I related my interview with
General Stager, telling him of the plan upon which I had agreed to make
the trip to Richmond again. The old man put on his specks, looked over
the top of them at me in a curious sort of way, and said, rather
savagely: "You beat hell, you do." Then in a more moderate tone he
protested earnestly against it, saying: "You mustn't let everybody make
use of you that way."

When I explained that I was only desirous of getting out of Washington,
and anxious to be on hand in the field when Richmond was taken, and
intimated further that Mr. Stanton and the President would give me the
commission on sight if I should come in first with some good news, he
remonstrated earnestly: "Oh, yes; you go down there again in that shape,
and you wont need any commission; they will hang you, sure, to the first

I had to leave the old man without getting any encouragement from him,
but had given him a promise, before saying "Good-night," that I would
not do anything further in the matter until I saw him again; in the
meantime he urged me to see Mr. Stanton.

I went to bed that night very much disturbed in mind. While I was not so
very anxious to continue the secret-service work, I felt so worn-out
and disappointed at the dilatoriness in getting anything settled in
Washington toward a commission, that I was about ready to both give it
up and to try again. We were continually hearing so much that was
exciting from the front, that I was really half wild and in a fever of
impatience to be on hand among the boys.

The next day I called at the War Office early, determined to see Mr.
Stanton, or at least make a sure thing of his seeing me before I should
again leave.

I had preserved Senator Cowan's letter and with it in my hand I made an
onslaught on the regular orderly at the door. He had gotten to know me,
and pleasantly suggested:

"If you hang to it with your teeth, you will get all you want."

With his assistance I got my card in to the Secretary, and was again
shown a seat inside the Secretary's room, to wait until my name was

In addition to the regular crowd, there seemed to be a delegation of
some kind in an adjoining room, as I judged from the loud talking. The
Secretary came out of the room, but, before he could reach his pulpit,
he was called back; then, in a few minutes, he again made his appearance
in the doorway, talking back to those inside in his usual vigorous
style. Feeling desperate, and always impulsive, I made a bold break and
handed the Secretary my letter before he reached his desk, being careful
to prelude my intrusion by saying: "Senator Cowan directed me to hand
you this personally."

With a sharp glance of impatience at me, he took the letter, walked to
his desk, and, without opening it, began to deliberately look over his
pile of cards. I stood my ground, right in front of him, feeling very
much like a guilty school-boy who had been called up by his teacher for

When Mr. Stanton raised his eyes from the cards and spied me, still
standing in front of him, he looked towards me then as if remembering
the letter, and said to me: "Where is the note from Senator Cowan?"

"I gave it to you, Mr. Secretary," said I tremblingly.

He looked around, found the envelope, and, while he read it, I felt in
my soul that I would rather face Jeff Davis and the whole Rebel Army
again than the Secretary of War. I resolved, if I ever got out of that
alive, I'd risk anything in the front rather than go back into that room
and face the Secretary of War.

When he finished reading the letter, he looked me over earnestly as he
folded it up slowly. It will be remembered that this paper referred to
me as having been _every place_ in the South; that I had a most valuable
experience, etc.

The Secretary astonished me by saying, in the most agreeable and gentle
tones, as he looked benevolently through his glasses: "I would like to
talk with you, but I'm engaged, and I will have to refer you to the
Assistant-Secretary to-day."

I was too scared to make an immediate reply. The Secretary, calling the
orderly to him, said to him, as he endorsed something on the bottom of
my letter: "Take this gentleman to the Assistant-Secretary."

That was all, but that was enough for me for one day. If there was any
one person in all Washington City for whom, or against whom, I
entertained an unjust prejudice--I might say, a deep-seated hatred--it
was Mr. P. H. Watson, the Assistant-Secretary of War.

I had never met him; in fact, I had never seen him; but the simple fact
that he had taken the place of my old friend Colonel Thomas A. Scott in
the War Office, since Cameron's removal, was of itself sufficient to
turn me against him; but, in addition to this fact, I had gathered from
Mr. Covode and the rest of the Pennsylvania delegation, as well as the
telegraph boys in the War Department, that Mr. Watson, and his clique of
friends, had scandalously maligned Mr. Scott personally and abused Mr.
Cameron politically.

I was ushered into the presence of a large, red-headed,
sandy-complexioned man, to whom I was introduced, as the young man Mr.
Secretary had "directed to present to you."

Mr. Watson, at the moment we entered, was busy with some papers. He was
surrounded by clerks, occupying other desks in his room, but at once
dropped everything to receive us. Upon reading the Senator's letter and
the Secretary's endorsement, he at once became very gracious toward me.
And, as he shook hands and drew me to a chair near him, and began some
complimentary remarks about my "valuable services," I was not only
disappointed at the Secretary in having said not a word about the matter
which was uppermost in my mind, but I was also really angry at being
handed over to Mr. Watson in a second-handed manner to be pumped by him.
Therefore, I didn't pump worth a cent. I was dry. Mr. Watson made it
worse for me by the first question he put. "I presume you are in Mr.
Pinkerton's service." That was adding insult. I resented this
insinuation by asserting emphatically: "I am not a detective at all."

The interview did not last long, so there is not much to say about it
here; in fact, it ended rather abruptly, when Mr. Watson further
suggested that I should put myself in communication with Mr. Pinkerton,
who had charge of all these things. I want to make it as plain right
here to all who may read this story as I did to Mr. Watson twenty-five
years ago, that I reject with scorn and contempt the intimation that I
was a detective, working for money. I declined positively to have any
communication with the Chief of the Secret Service, and told Mr. Watson,
as my friends had all frequently suggested, that I had done important
secret-service work for the Secretary of the War Department, _direct_,
and I wanted something now wherein I could make available my past

As I had promised Mr. Covode not to make any engagements with any one,
and had fulfilled my agreement to see the Secretary, I retired from the
War Office in disappointment and disgust.

I saw Mr. Covode and the other friends, to whom I related my experience
with Mr. Stanton and Mr. Watson, and, at the same time, declared my
intention to leave the city for the front, and enter the army as a
private soldier, and work my way up to position by meritorious service
in _front_ of the enemy, instead of in the rear.

The day following, before I could get an opportunity to again see
General Stager in regard to his proposal, or take any action myself, Mr.
Covode sent for me. When I reached his room he said, in his blunt way:

"If you are bound to be in the field, I'll give you a letter to General
Haupt, who has charge of the railroad between Fredericksburg and Aquia
Creek, and he will give you something to do to keep you busy down there
till we can get something fixed up here."

I eagerly accepted this proposal; it was not what I wanted exactly, but
it admitted of my going to the front, and that, too, in an official
position, wherein I could be on hand and, unmolested, see everything
that was being done. I had known General Haupt well, as the accomplished
Chief Engineer of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Mr. Covode had been
assured by him, it seems, that he would be delighted to have me in his
Military Railroad Service, as I had experience in that direction in Mr.
Scott's service.

We were going to rebuild that road right into Richmond the next week,
and I consoled myself with the thought that, if I did not reënter
Richmond on a horse as an officer, that I might get there all the same
on a locomotive.

I was to be paid a good salary and expenses. All my friends thought it
just splendid, and I imagine now, though I didn't think so at the time,
that the position was created for me just to prevent my getting into
trouble again. In a few days I took a morning steamer, armed with an
official pass and a bundle of good clothing, and sailed with the
greatest anticipations of quickly seeing Richmond. We reached Aquia
Creek in a few hours--this, as all the boys will know, was then the
leading place or connecting point between the steamers and the railroads
to Richmond. After strolling about there for an hour, I got aboard the
first train, which was made up of open truck cars, and we rolled over
the ten or twelve miles past the straggling camps of our forces then
thereabouts, crossing the high and hastily-improvised trestle of bridges
that had been built by "sojers," in the place of those destroyed.



It will be remembered that, on a previous occasion, I had made an entrée
into the town of Fredericksburg, on the bare back of an old horse, on
the morning in August after the night of horror in which I was pursued
by Rebels, suffering from the attack of bloodhounds.

On the occasion of this, my second visit, I rolled over the temporary
railroad bridge into the old depot at Fredericksburg on a freight train,
dressed--well, in the best store clothes that money would buy at that
time in Washington.

I am not sure of the exact date on which I got into Fredericksburg, _en
route_ to Richmond; it does not matter much, as I do not pretend to have
kept an accurate record of the dates, however, it was along in April or
May, judging by my recollection of the weather at that time. McClellan's
great Army of the Potomac was on the Peninsula only a few miles from
Richmond, while Fitz-John Porter had been up to Hanover Court House,
about half way between Fredericksburg and Richmond. General McDowell was
in command of quite a large, but, as I recollect it, a widely scattered
and very much mixed up force at Fredericksburg.

The problem was to unite McClellan's and McDowell's forces against
Richmond. There was just this little gap of some ten or fifteen miles
between these two armies, and it was this bit of neutral ground that
General Anson Stager, of the United States Military Telegraph Corps, was
so desirous of opening communication through, because the "Washington
Government" could only hear from McClellan by way of the slow medium of
dispatch boats across the bay to the nearest point of telegraph.

I was directed by Mr. Covode to report in person, with a letter to the
Chief Engineer, or Superintendent, of the Richmond & Fredericksburg
Military Railroad, General Haupt, who was recently the Chief Engineer
and builder of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Exactly what was to be
the nature of my duties I do not now recall, if, indeed, I ever knew.

I was shown to the Exchange, or may be it was the Planter's; anyway, it
was the best hotel, located on the hill, on one of the principal streets
leading out toward Marye's Heights. It was not a particularly hospitable
place for me, because I saw at once that the young boy, who ran the
office for his mother, was only there to collect all the money he could
from the "Yankee Invaders," while the father and elder brother were
probably in the Rebel camps outside of town, only waiting a favorable
opportunity to return and scalp the boarders.

The town was full, literally and spiritually, not only of McDowell's
soldiers, who were in camp all around, but of all sorts of strange
people in civilians' dress--adventurers, sutlers, traders, whisky
smugglers, strange women--in fact, the main street of the quiet, sleepy
old aristocratic town was a perfect bedlam in 1862, as compared with my
first visit in August, 1861.

That evening, before dark, I saw on the street a greater variety of life
than I had met in Washington on any one evening during my stay there.
These numerous hangers-on of the armies had been, to a great degree,
excluded from the Peninsula, so they had swarmed up to Fredericksburg as
the next best place for them, to be nearest their favorite regiments,
and "on the road to Richmond," where they all expected to rejoin
McClellan's army in a very few days.

In addition to the great number of officers and men of the army, there
were several batches of naval officers from one or two gunboats of the
Potomac Flotilla, which had sailed up the Rappahannock and were anchored
below town.

Altogether, it was what might be termed a lively town. The ordinary,
quiet population had been suddenly increased to 40,000 or 50,000 of
McDowell's army and followers, which had settled down around the hills
and the streets in one night, like a flock of bluebirds or crows at a
roosting place.

During my walk about the town that evening, I ran against a crowd of
contrabands on the sidewalk, who were watching with the greatest
interest the antics of a pair of New York street arabs, or newsboys, who
were dressed up in their rags doing some song-and-dance acts, to the
great delight of the country soldiers and assembled contrabands. There
was even an attempt at a theatrical performance after early
candle-lighting. Indeed it was only after taps that the
Provost-Marshal's Guard made any attempt to suppress the fun.

It did not occur to me, until after I had undressed myself and had
"doused the glim," while looking out of the window toward the Virginia
hill, since so well known as Marye's Heights, that there was any
possibility of the Rebels making a sudden dash on the town and capturing
us all. I seemed to realize, only when I was alone, that there might be
some chance for those Rebel fellows getting in there in sufficient force
to gobble us all up.

As I peered through the darkness in the direction of Richmond, I
appreciated pretty strongly the fact that I was getting close to the
front of that Rebel gang again, and I had not the least desire to get
inside their lines as a prisoner. I didn't sleep well, so early next
morning I started out to find a place to stay, which did not impress me
so strongly as being the house of my enemy.

It was my good luck, or my fate, to have met with a clever gentleman in
Mr. Jimmy Wilson, of Middletown, Pennsylvania. He was one of those
happy, companionable persons, to whom one naturally attaches one's self
to on first acquaintance. His business in Fredericksburg was that of a
trader to the army, and he had secured some special privileges in this
direction through his townsman, General Simon Cameron, while he was yet
Secretary of War.

It may be that Mr. Wilson was attracted to me by something of a selfish
motive, through a knowledge of my connection with the railroad in an
official capacity, by which he might be able to better facilitate his
business interests in the transportation of his "supplies" over the road
and evading too close inspections.

In the shrewd manner peculiar to the business of traveling salesmen, he
had discovered the very best place in the town to live, to which he
kindly consented to introduce me. It was through him that I first met my
"fate," in the family of Captain Wells. There were in this happy and
accomplished household quite a bevy of young ladies. "All were young,
but one was beautiful."

It is quite a long, and I think may be an interesting, story, which is
indeed quite too romantic for this narrative of facts. I will only say
that Geno, the youngest, was, to my eyes, all that may be described as a
beautiful, budding young girl.

The eldest, Miss Sue, had been a belle in Georgetown before the war;
another, Miss Mamie, was noted for her sweet disposition. The father, I
grieve to add, was suspected by our officers of being a blockade-runner
for the Rebels. He had been engaged on the regular underground line
between Richmond and Washington, via the Potomac River, since the
commencement of the war. Previous to this he had been the owner and
captain of a steamer plying on the Rappahannock River. Through this
means he had gained valuable information of the river and little bays of
that part of Virgina, and knew all about the inlets and outlets of the
adjacent water, and was, in consequence of this fact, probably suspected
of being a most valuable ally to the Rebel Government. His sympathies
were openly with the South, but, as this was the general feeling among
the citizens, no one attached importance to the Captain's personal

Between my infatuation for Geno and the sense of duty, I had a
troublesome old time of it in the weeks and months and years that
followed this first evening in the Wells home.

It's pretty much the same old story of love at first sight and trouble
forever after. I was politely invited to join the family circle in the
parlor after tea. The mother was as youthful in her happy manner as her
daughters. The genial Captain permitted himself to be prevailed upon by
the younger children to sing one or two comic songs, which were received
with hilarious applause. The three daughters vied with the others in
their polite efforts to entertain such a dull boy, as I must certainly
have become after encountering the apparition of Geno that evening.
Jimmy Wilson's presence seemed to help me out a little. A group played
cards, while some one banged the piano and sang "Bonnie Blue Flag,"
"Dixie," and, by way of a tease, "Yankee Doodle." The elder daughter,
Miss Sue, was a decidedly beautiful girl, of perhaps twenty, quite
lively, and perhaps a little bit of a flirt. I state this opinion
generally. I did not entertain it so fully at that time as I did
subsequently. Miss Mamie was the good girl of the family, while Geno was
the beauty.

If I were not writing this story myself, I should be tempted to
honestly declare that Geno was not only the prettiest, but the sweetest,
girl I ever saw, and I have seen a great many in my life. She was not
tall, but a slender, graceful, womanly figure, dressed in dark blue, she
required no artificial aids to her fresh young beauty. Her face was
sweetly intelligent, and, while not lacking in resolution, it was marked
by that shyness which belongs to young girls who are well-born and bred
in comparative seclusion.


It was decreed that Geno should sit near me that evening on a low sofa,
located in a corner of the parlor. All the chairs were occupied by the
rest of the company, either by accident or through Miss Sue's propensity
to tease her younger sister and myself.

Geno, though but between fifteen and sixteen at that time, was, in her
manner, quite as easy and winning as her elder sisters. She sat beside
me on the sofa, her luxuriant, dark hair bewitchingly plaited in a roll
over her head, wearing a low-neck dress, short skirts, while her bare
arms gracefully held a guitar, on which she skillfully played the
accompaniment and sweetly sang the old, old Spanish serenade, _Juanita_.
(I advise the young ladies to get a guitar and practice on this song; it
will catch a boy every time.) It was that _song_, and the beautiful,
large, dark, expressive eyes of this dear little girl that put me in Old
Capitol Prison.

I was a "goner" from that moment, and have never gotten entirely over it
in all these years.

I do not say it boastingly at all, but for a truth. I believe I should
at that time have felt more at my ease if I had been "scouting" or
sitting around a camp-fire with Rebels instead of beside the little girl
whose dress touched me. It was a clear case of love at first sight.

The Wells family were natives of my own State, having been embargoed
during the war because of the father's steamboat interests on the river;
and thereby hangs another tale not pertinent to this narrative, which I
hope, subsequently, to give to the world.

I had been introduced to the family as a civilian employé of the
military railway, and had been able to present some flattering letters
of introduction from Mr. John W. Forney, Mr. Covode, and other prominent
Pennsylvania gentlemen. I was, of course, made to feel quite at home.

I may as well admit frankly I was about Geno's house more than duty
warranted; so much so, indeed, that the amiable mother must have become
tired of me. I seldom went to the railroad headquarters, and I had lost
all interest in the capture of Richmond and in Capitola.

Of course, I felt obliged to make an appearance of reporting for duty to
the railroad office occasionally.

With a desire to learn something of the probable advance to Richmond, I
had spent considerable time about the Provost-Marshal's Office, where I
had become quite well acquainted with a young officer on detached duty.

His interest probably sprung from having seen me in the company of the
pretty girl, with whom he desired to become acquainted through me.

On the occasion of one of these visits, I was questioned quite closely
by another of the Staff officers about the politics of the Wells family,
and especially of the sympathies of the ladies for Confederate officers.

Perhaps I was not in proper frame of mind to dispassionately discuss
this question of Geno's family affairs with a strange officer, and it is
probable that I somewhat rashly resented the supposed impertinence.

I was informed that it was through the usual gossipy information
volunteered, by some unfriendly Unionists of the town, that this officer
at headquarters had learned that Captain Wells had been engaged in
blockade-running for the Rebels. I exclaimed that I knew better; that my
relations with the family were of an intimate character; that Captain
Wells was a native of my own State; that all his daughters had been born
and educated in the Wyoming Valley, and that he was in Virginia solely
and only because his business of steamboating had embargoed him there,
and he had chosen to remain himself and sacrifice his boats, rather than
abandon his family. All this was said in a positive manner, and with
probably a little more animation than the subject justified. It had,
however, the undesirable effect of bringing out prominently a trifling
affair that occurred in connection with the family, which I must relate,
as part of my experience which soon followed, just to show that "trifles
light as air, are to the jealous, confirmations strong as proofs of Holy

It will be remembered by the old soldiers that, early in the war, it
was the custom to display flags promiscuously wherever they could find a
place to string one in a Virginia town.


Soldiers who were in Fredericksburg with McDowell, in 1862, will know
that over the main streets of the town hung innumerable flags, so that
the natives must either walk under the flag or stay indoors altogether.

Miss Sue Wells, like most bright girls of her age who lived in the
South, was fond of tormenting our officers, "just for fun, you know."
She insisted, in the company of Union officers, that she was a Rebel,
but I was quietly informed by the family that, when the Confederates
first had possession of the town, she was a Union girl to them.

On this and several other questions Miss Sue and I differed quite
decidedly. The sequence and truthfulness of this story compels me to say
here that Miss Sue and I quarreled all the time (after I had become
fairly established in the family). One day, while walking with her along
the main street of the town, we encountered one of the numerous flags
that were suspended over the sidewalk. Miss Sue put her little foot down
(and I know positively that she had a little foot), refusing in her very
decided manner to walk under "that flag!"

What could I do? The street was full of soldiers and officers, whose
attention was being attracted toward us by my taking her arm and
attempting to force her to accompany me under the flag. I explained that
there were flags on the other side of the street,

    Flags to the right of us,
    Flags to the left of us,

and flags every place; that we would not dare to go around it; but the
more I talked and urged, the more contrary she grew, and to prevent a
further scene on the street, we retraced our steps.

That little act on the streets of Fredericksburg, in the summer of 1862,
is on record to-day in the war archives as part of the specifications in
a charge of disloyalty against myself, on which I was subsequently
arrested and confined in Old Capitol Prison.

It is a shameful fact, that my early record for the Union at Fort
Pickens, and the subsequent year of service with a rope about my neck,
was, for a short time, completely shadowed by this silly performance
with a young lady in Fredericksburg. Not only this, but it was, perhaps,
the indirect cause of this young lady's father's banishment from his
home and the confiscation of his property.

The officer who had reminded me of this incident undertook to give me
some advice as to my association or intimacy in a Rebel family.

He further astonished me by saying they had information of a piratical
scheme being hatched, which had for its object the seizure of some of
the regular line of steamers plying on the Chesapeake Bay, and Captain
Wells was to act as pilot. The officer explained to me further that the
plan, as they had learned of it, was for a party of Rebels, disguised as
passengers and laborers, to board one of these steamers in Baltimore,
and, after she was out in the bay, at midnight, they were to throw off
their masks, seize the boat, confine the officers and, under the
pilotage of Geno's father, run her into Rebel waters as a prize.

This was indeed startling intelligence, that for a moment staggered me.
I realized that a more suitable person to do the work could not have
been selected than Captain Wells.

The officer said, as they had no proof of this at all, he had mentioned
it to me with a view of having me look the matter up; that my relations
with the family were of such a character as to enable me to get on to
the real facts. I left the headquarters feeling very much depressed.

After another enjoyable evening spent at the Wells house following this
conversation at Provost Headquarters, I went to my quarters quite
disturbed in heart and mind as to my duty.

With the sweet voice of "Juanita" still ringing in my ears, and the
memory of her beautiful eyes seemingly appealing to my tenderest
sympathies, I went to bed with my head in a whirl, and dropped into a
restless sleep without having settled the question in my own mind
satisfactorily as to her father's guilt. There was no question as to the
Captain's being entirely competent to pilot or even command such an
expedition, and I may as well cut this story short by the frank
admission that, had he not been the father of a very pretty girl, I
would have jumped at the same conclusion as the officer.

I was, however, unwilling to believe that the father of such an
interesting family, all of whom had been born and reared in
Pennsylvania, would become the leader of a piratical gang. I concluded
at last that I would postpone any action, for a while at least. I could
do this with the better grace, as I was not specially engaged in secret
service at that time. I rather relished the truth, too, that the failure
of the Secretary of War to recognize my former services relieved me from
any obligation to act as "spotter" for the Pinkerton detectives.

But after having slept over the matter, and while enjoying a walk the
next morning among the neighboring camps, over which floated the
"emblem," I suddenly regained my senses, for a little while at least,
and made up my mind that it would be worse than traitorous for me, by my
silence and apparent association, to permit those Maryland sympathizers
to go on and mature a plan to hire a gang of Baltimore plug-uglies to
play the pirate on unarmed vessels on the bay, within sight of our
armies. I could, at least, put the officials on their guard. I walked
back toward my "office," where I briefly wrote the rumor as it had,
without my volition, been detailed to me, and at once put the letter in
form to reach Mr. Covode through the improvised mail service then
existing between Washington and the army of McDowell. I felt better for
having done this much. I had also advised Mr. Covode that I was in a
position to follow up the matter from this clew, and, if it could be
confirmed, I would give the information directly to himself, and no one
else. I expect, too, that I was indiscreet enough to have taken this
opportunity to ventilate my own rather fresh opinions of Secretary
Stanton; because just then I was smarting under his seeming indifference
to and neglect of my services and claims. I am sure that my letter
contained some unnecessary criticisms on Mr. P. H. Watson, Assistant
Secretary, as well as the Secret Service Corps, which was under his
direction, and Maj. Eckert, of the Telegraph Corps.

This letter was intended as a private communication to my friend Covode,
and I had particularly cautioned him not to permit certain War
Department influences to get hold of the rumors, as I wanted to work it
out myself. I learned subsequently, to my sorrow, that this personal
letter, containing both the information and the criticism, was sent to
the War Office at once as an important paper. Anybody will see that it
was not only a mistake of my own to have written in this way, but also
of Mr. Covode's to have shown it; but it was one of that statesman's
"privileges" to mix things up. It probably never occurred to him--as I
afterward heard--that the principal effect of the criticisms, coupled
with the "information," would be to impress upon the War Department
officials the suspicion that Covode had employed me as one of his agents
to play the "spy" on our own officials, for the benefit of the
Congressional Committee of the War.

I was not very much bothered about the consequences of such things at
that time. I was in love, which will account for a good many of my

When I went to my newly-found home, at Capt. Wells's house, the evening
of the same day on which I had written and mailed this letter, I was
received so kindly and courteously into the house by the genial Captain
himself, that I began to feel that I had been guilty of an awfully
shabby trick in having reported, even privately to Mr. Covode, a private
conversation with this Staff officer in regard to mine host.

Indeed, I was feeling so uncomfortable over what seemed to have been an
ungracious return for favors received, that I took the first opportunity
to get out of the Captain's presence, and, in the seclusion of my room
that night, I inwardly resolved that I would, if possible, attempt to
modify my report by another letter to follow the first.

The evening was spent in the little parlor, as on the many previous
occasions. I was treated as one of the family, and entertained in the
most agreeable manner by the accomplished ladies of this happy
household. Each night we had music. Of course, Juanita, with the guitar,
accompanied by Geno, became one feature of all others that was always so
charmingly attractive to me. The Captain himself sang a number of comic
songs with good effect, while the elder daughter, Miss Sue, exerted
herself in a pleasant way to create a little fun for the company at my
own and Geno's expense. Col. Hoffman, Mr. Wilson and myself furnished
the only audience, while a happy-faced, brisk little mother supplied the
refreshments, and made us all feel at home.

This general attempt at a description of one evening must suffice for
the many, many happy days and evenings that I spent in Fredericksburg
during the months of McDowell's occupation of that country. As I have
previously stated, I could furnish the material for a romance based on
wonderful facts connected with my different visits here that would make
a large-sized book in itself. This is simply a blunt narrative of fact.

This is an absolutely "true love" story, and I am giving correct names
and actual incidents, realizing that I may be talking to some of the
survivors of McDowell's army, who may have been "thar or tharabouts".

The Colonel Hoffman referred to above was in command of the regiment
that had control of the town at this time. The Colonel having known the
Wells family in the North, was glad of the opportunity to meet them, and
during his stay in town lived with them in the house with Mr. Wilson and
myself. His regiment had been recruited somewhere in the neighborhood of
Elmira, New York.

As soon as I could see the Colonel alone, I took the opportunity to tell
him the story of the Captain's alleged complicity in the Chesapeake Bay
piracy. To my surprise and gratification, he blurted out rather
savagely: "I don't believe a word of it. Why, I've known Frank Wells all
my life. No one at home ever accused him of any such traits of character
as this. Why," continued the Colonel, with a show of disgust, "it's
impossible. He couldn't be a disloyal man; he comes of Puritan stock,
from away back. I've seen myself a family tombstone up in Long Island
which shows that his ancestors were buried there as early as 1671. Why,
boy, they came over in the Mayflower."

This seemed to settle it with Colonel Hoffman, but he added, in an
explanatory way: "I suppose it's one of those 'Unionists' stories. Every
dog who has a grievance against his neighbor, in war times, runs to the
nearest Provost-Marshal to get the army on to his enemy. Wells came down
here to run his boats on the Rappahannock; that was his business. He
tells me that he, with a majority of the citizens here, did not believe
there would be a war, or that Virginia would go out of the Union, and,
therefore, he did not attempt to get away until it was too late. The
Confederates wouldn't let him take his boats North. When our fellows got
there, he ran his boats below town to prevent the Rebels burning them,
as they did all the rest; and when the gunboats came up the river they
allowed a lot of rough sailors to seize and confiscate his boats. Their
object was prize money, and it is probably to their interest to create
an impression that he was disloyal, that they may secure this money.
I've told Frank he ought to resist this, but he is mad about it; swears
they are robbers and thieves; and it is likely he and the girls have
given offense in this way to some of our officers."

The Colonel's decided talk fully confirmed me in the belief that the
story of the Captain's complicity was the outcome of some personal

Feeling that I had been guilty of a mean action, in reporting the names
to Mr. Covode, I sat down and wrote him the second letter, retracting
all that the first contained, and added that the mistake arose from the
desire of some enemies of mine, or the Captain, to get me mixed up with
the War Department.

I do not remember just what I did write, but if the reader will put
himself in my place at that time, or try to realize what an
enthusiastic, love-sick boy would be liable to write under such
circumstances, in defense of his intended father-in-law, you will be apt
to reach the conclusion that I do now, that I put my foot in it badly.

Unfortunately, I did not mail the letter in time to overtake the first
one. I was delayed by engaging myself to accompany the ladies the next
day on a visit to the grave and monument of the mother of General
Washington. As all know, the mother of President Washington lived, died,
and is buried in this historic old town. The old house, or all that is
left of it, still stands on one of the streets. The tomb and monument is
situated on rising ground some distance in the outskirts.

Most of the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac have visited this spot,
at least all who were interested in such matters did, who were about
Fredericksburg, and it will not be necessary to describe it.

It was arranged that we should make a select picnic party of our visit
to the tomb of the Mother of our Country, and, as we expected to make a
day of it, one day's rations for a dozen, composed of the usual girls'
rations of sweet cake and sour pickle, were packed in a big lunch

The picnic was a pleasant affair, of course, because Geno was there.
For the time being I had entirely forgotten or, at least, lost interest
in the letter of explanation which I had intended to send to Mr. Covode
on that day, as well as everything else but Geno. On our return through
town that same evening, I saw for the first time a New York regiment in
full Zouave uniform marching in their cat-like or tip-toe step, carrying
their guns in a graceful, easy manner as they marched along in their
picturesque style. The band played and, seemingly, the whole regiment of
a thousand bass voices sang "John Brown's body," as I have never heard
it since. The effect upon our own party and the few loyal citizens was
magical, and I leave the reader to imagine the sensations of the Rebel
occupants of the houses along the line of march. The shades were
closed--they always were--but that did not entirely conceal a number of
bright-flashing eyes, that one could always find on close inspection
peeping through the cracks.

After relieving my mind by sending the letter in the evening I turned in
to enjoy myself freely in the society of the ladies, and became so much
immersed in the pursuit of this new-found delight that I lost sight of
all other business. Every day became a picnic and every evening a party.

One day, while loafing about my office down at the depot, I observed a
strange-looking fellow hanging about. Every time I would look toward him
I discovered his eyes had been upon me. He was not a good spy, or
detective, because he at once gave himself away by his too naked manner
of observing things. I got on to him at once, because he did not seem to
do anything but shadow me.

There was also a telegraph office at the depot, the wire extending, I
believe, only as far as the railroad was operated, to Aquia Creek. I had
not met the operator personally, and, as had been my invariable
practice, I had carefully concealed from all strangers, even friends,
the fact that I was also a sound operator. I knew that neither the
detective nor the operator suspected me of being an operator. As soon as
I discovered that a suspicious watch had been put upon me, it stirred me
all up, and served most effectively to recall me to some sense of the
duties or obligations that were expected of me. For the day or two
following I passed more of my time within the hearing of the telegraph
instrument and less in the parlor of Captain Wells.

One morning I saw the Pinkerton detective hand a piece of paper to the
operator, who quietly put it on his telegraph desk. I had to wait a
long, long time, and was forced to manufacture a good many excuses for
lying around the office so closely.

There is something which I cannot explain that instinctively seems to
satisfy one of certain conditions or impressions of another's mind. In
modern mind-reading a telegraph operator has a very great advantage over
any of the professional mind-readers, from the fact that, by a simple
contact of the hand to any part of the body, the telegraph operator can
telegraph by silent taps or touches or by simple pressure of the hands
the characters of the telegraph alphabet, and thus spell out rapidly any
word. Perhaps this fact will account for some of the recent phenomena in
this direction.

As I have said, I was satisfied in my own mind, instinctively, as it
were, that this fellow was a War Department spy on Captain Wells and,
perhaps myself, and I was just sharp and cunning enough when my blood
was up to determine to beat him at his own game. He walked off some
distance while I hung to the office, apparently very much interested in
reading a copy of the Christian Commission Army Bible, which had found
its way into the office there. I heard the operator call up his office,
and, after doing some routine railroad business, he sent the message to
some one of the chief detectives in Washington, which was, in effect, as
nearly as I can remember, a sort of report or excuse for the failure to
arrest a certain party, because he was absent that day, but was expected
to return at night, when the arrest would be made.

Of course I saw that I was not the party referred to, because I was not
absent. It did not take long, however, to find out, after some
investigation and private talk with the operator, that Mr. Pinkerton had
sent a man down there to look after the matter referred to in my letter
to Covode. Of course Covode had indiscreetly rushed to the office and
presented my letter, without once thinking of the severe reflections on
the officials, or in anyway considering my interests. He only thought of
the proposed scheme to get possession of the steamers. I suppose that he
felt in his honest, patriotic heart that it must be thwarted at once.
That's the way Mr. Covode did things. He told me subsequently that he
felt that my letter would show Stanton and Watson that I was a valuable

But I was not willing that the detectives of Pinkerton should have the
credit of working up this plan, and, aside from little personal feeling
against the Pinkerton spy and my sympathies and sentiment for the father
of Geno, I at once determined to defeat their aspirations; and I
succeeded--to my own subsequent discomfiture.

Determined to prevent the arrest of Geno's father, because I believed
him innocent, and realizing that I was responsible for the espionage
that had been placed upon the family, and without a single thought as to
the consequence to myself, I went quietly from the telegraph office to
the Wells house, only a few blocks distant.

Geno smilingly welcomed me as she opened the door (she had learned to
look for my coming, I have since thought,) and to her pleasant greeting
I abruptly demanded, in a tone and with an agitation that must have
seemed strange, "I want to see your father right away." To the polite
response, "Why, there is nobody at home but me; come in;" I could only
say, rather nervously, perhaps, "I must see your father or your mother
on private business. I can not talk to you until this matter is settled

Geno turned her big, black eyes on me quickly, quizzically, looked into
my heart, seemingly satisfied herself that I was very much in earnest,
she observed, with a smile: "You can see father to-night, if you wish."

"I must see him before to-night. Where is he?"

My animated manner, or perhaps urgent demands in the hallway, had
attracted Mrs. Wells's attention in an upper room. Making an appearance
at the head of the stairway, she asked, pleasantly: "What in the world
is the matter with you?"

"Oh, nothing much. Come down, please. I have something to say to you and
the Captain, privately."

The happy mother descended only to the landing, where she halted long
enough to see whether it would be safe enough for her to come any
closer. Geno having heard me express a desire to talk privately to her
parents, had suddenly disappeared through a side door; while Mrs. Wells,
laughingly, stepped down, and, without waiting to hear from me, said, in
her gentle, motherly way:

"Now, my dear boy, don't you talk to me about that. Why Geno is only a

"Oh, no; not that--not now. I came to tell you that the Captain will be
arrested to-night. He must leave town at once."

With a few words more of explanation, the loyal wife and mother was
alive to the gravity of the situation. I left the house as suddenly as I
had entered it, after cautioning them under no circumstances to admit
that I gave this information, as I would be hung too. I was back at the
station before they had discovered that I had been away.

My plan, as detailed to Covode, was to have quietly waited and watched
for some tangible proofs of this rumored piracy. If they had left me
alone I should have worked it up for all it was worth, and reported the
result to the War Department. But they jumped in and agitated the
oyster, which of course closed up the oyster securely. I admit that on
seeing this attempt at poaching on my premises, that I flushed the game,
believing that the end would justify the means. I was only apprehensive
that some member of the family might accidentally say something that
would indicate that I was responsible for the escape of Captain Wells.

I became for a day or two subsequently a most regular attendant at the
Department Telegraph Office.

I learned by my telegraph facilities that this Pinkerton spy had
reported to his chief that "Wells has not yet returned," that "the party
was still absent," and later that he had "escaped South." Luckily for me
he did not learn of the short and interesting return visit the Captain
made, and, in consequence, he had no occasion to immediately investigate
the Captain's taking off, so that several days elapsed before he found
it out. The Captain did not go South to join the Rebels, but, instead,
went North, visiting during his exile a married daughter living in
Baltimore, and subsequently published a little family history, in which
he gives "a friend" the credit for the warning and also for supplying a
pass over the railroad to Aquia Creek.

I found that I had made my way clear in thus "breaking the ice" when I
should want to ask for Geno's hand. I had killed two or three birds at
one shot that day. I had thwarted Assistant Secretary of War Watson and
his Pinkerton crowd in their attempt at arresting Captain Wells on mere
rumors. I had established myself in the good graces of Geno's entire
family. I had prevented her father from being imprisoned. In addition
to all this, I succeeded in getting myself into Old Capitol Prison, by
order of Secretary of War E. M. Stanton, and became a companion of Belle
Boyd and numerous other Rebel spies. But I'll have to tell some other
things that occurred at Fredericksburg before this unfortunate episode
came to pass.

I need not say that, after this episode, I felt that the fate of the
entire Wells family was in my hands. From that day on I was what may be
slangily termed "solid" with that happy family. I believe I have
mentioned the fact previously that Geno was a strikingly beautiful young
girl of sixteen, and that I was twenty. I may be permitted to even say,
parenthetically, that there has been nothing in my adventurous life
nearly so fascinating as were the summer days in which I was "isolated"
in company with the little girl who lived, as it were, between the two
armies, at Fredericksburg.

To be sure the soldiers were there, or thereabout, in force.

The crack of the picket's rifle--almost the distant boom of McClellan's
battles around Richmond--indeed, the smoke of war was in the air at the
time, and no one knew what a day would bring forth. This was not exactly
a period well adapted to sincere love-making. But no one who has known
of Geno could be made to believe that she could be insincere, or that
anyone could insincerely make love to her.

We were together nearly all the time, but I do not think we were
sentimental in our talk.

There was this difference to me between Geno and all my other girls. In
her presence it did not seem to be at all necessary to do any
sentimental talking. I was always impressed by her soul-piercing eyes
with the feeling that she knew it all anyhow, and it was no use in
talking--I had almost written lying. I believe I told Geno more of my
life than I ever intended anybody to know. I simply couldn't help it.
But I shall never do this subject justice until I write out the "Romance
of this Secret Love and Secret Service." This is only a narrative of

I believe I have said somewhere in this story that Geno was a pretty
little girl, but, at the risk of repetition, I will say that her beauty
was of a kind that may not be easily described or portrayed. It was her
eyes--her beautiful dark-brown eyes--that were in themselves a soul.

In every man's life there is one moment, or one single memory, that is
more cherished than all others. I shall have to tell of this one moment
of my life, which occurred the day before I left.

One pleasant afternoon I happened around to the Wells house, as usual,
knowing very well that Geno, dressed in her most becoming of summer
toilets, would soon join me on the veranda. Perhaps I was a little
earlier than usual at my accustomed seat; anyway, I became a little
impatient at Geno not putting in an appearance promptly, and thinking
perhaps she might not have become aware of my presence, stepped into the
hall to try to make it known to her. The windows had all been closely
shaded, to exclude the bright August sunlight, giving the hallway a cool
and inviting half-darkened appearance. Stepping into the parlor,
affecting a little cough as a signal that I was around the house, I had
scarcely seated myself when my quick ear caught the sound of her
footsteps as she quickly tripped down the stairway.

Lest I have neglected to mention it, I will say here that Geno was a
sweet girl, with beautiful eyes, and, moreover, she was womanly in
figure and graceful in action, in that hers was of the ethereal style of
beauty so aptly described by Longfellow's "Evangeline." And she was
sixteen, while I was twenty. Rising to greet her, I advanced to the door
just as her lithe figure darkened it. She looked _so_ nice, and you know
the parlor and hallway were shrouded by that dim, religious light one
reads about. I was tempted, and, yielding to the youthful impulse,
grasped both her hands in mine, and attempted to steal a kiss--the first
kiss of love.

I had by her quiet dignity of manner during my visit been repelled from
attempting anything of a too familiar kind on such a short
war-acquaintance. She quickly dropped her head, turning her face from
me, while I held both hands tightly in my own, and uttered only that one
little word of four letters "Geno." Whether it was the tone of voice,
the imploring or entreating manner and earnest emphasis, or a mild
reproach, I knew not. She answered not a word, but turned her pretty
blushing face up to mine, while her beautiful eyes pierced to my soul,
and I--I--oh!

Here I drop my pen, put my feet on the desk on which I have been
writing this, lay my head back in my lazy chair, and with both hands
pressed on my face I bring back this one blissful moment of my life
twenty-five years agone, as if it were but yesterday. I can not write of
it. It's a "true love" story, as the sequel will show, and none but
those who have been there in war-times will appreciate it.

Before I could do it again she had deftly slipped away from me, and,
like a frightened deer, glided into a dark corner of the parlor; from
behind a chair she blushingly cast reproachful glances toward me, while
she rearranged the hair that she had taken so much pains to bewitchingly
do up, and that had so long delayed her appearance.

There is a song, and of course plenty of melody and poetry in it, which
I have frequently asked friends to sing--"Il Bacio"--which more aptly
describes this one blissful moment than my pen can write.

After this there was a sort of an understanding between us that all
lovers, who have been there, will understand, and it is not necessary
for me to explain.

I had Geno's first love; and it is a true saying that, in a woman's
first love, she loves her lover; in all the rest, she loves love.

I have been in love--oh, often--so many times that I cannot enumerate
all, but Geno was my "war girl"; and all old soldiers will agree with me
that there is a something in the very memories of love and war that
touch the heart in a way that is not reached by any other feeling.

Do not for a moment imagine that there was any attempt on the part of
this truly happy family to take any advantage of the tender
susceptibilities of the "Boy Spy." They knew absolutely nothing of my
past record.

"Through the rifted smoke-clouds of the great rebellion" of twenty-five
years ago I am relating a little love story from real life, that seems
almost like a dream now, but which is the best-remembered incident of
all the war to me.

"The ways of fate are very diverse," and it has truly happened to me
that this sweet face looked into so long since has never been forgotten
in all the years that have passed or are yet to come.



I made a scout on my own account to the very outskirts of Richmond,
which resulted in establishing the fact that there was no enemy in front
of McDowell. On my return to our lines, I was, as had been my usual
fate, coolly received by our own officers and suspected of disloyalty.
In my impulsive way, perhaps, I had too freely criticised, in my letters
to Mr. Forney's paper, our officers for their listlessness in permitting
McDowell's army to lie idle, while McClellan was being forced to change
his base on the Peninsula.

At the headquarters of the regiment, or picket guard, I had encountered,
I was cross-examined by every officer who could get a chance to stick a
question at me. To all I had the same story, with renewed emphasis each
time, that there was no Rebel army between Fredericksburg and Richmond.

The detention at so many of these subordinate headquarters, or the
halting at so many stages of our return, to answer these same
stereotyped questions, began to annoy me. I had been scouting for hours
without a moment's rest; my nerves were all unstrung, now that I had
gotten safely back. I wanted to go to the real headquarters, and tell
all I knew to the General, and then go to Mrs. Wells' house to see Geno
and rest for the balance of my life. I was tired, hungry, nervous and
irritable, which accounts for the unfortunate fact that I became at last
resentful and, perhaps, insulting, to some of the higher officers about
the headquarters and staff, who questioned my statements.

[Illustration: ON A SCOUT TO RICHMOND.]

General McDowell was not present; he had been sent to Washington, or to
the Shenandoah Valley I think, so that those in command had no
authority, as I knew, and I felt in my nervous condition that they had
insulted me by daring to doubt my story.

While yet smarting under this disagreeable reception of my report, I sat
down and sent Mr. Covode a dispatch, over the military wire, giving him
in brief the results of my recent observations, and asserting positively
that the army could go to McClellan if they wanted to. Those are not the
words of the dispatch, but it was in substance the same story that I had
told, with the addition of some bitter comments. I did not stop to think
at the time that such a dispatch could pass through the War Department
Telegraph Office, and be subject to that censorship. My only object was
to hasten the information to headquarters through Covode, because I
realized that the officers of our own army would not act upon it.

I did not know then, neither did General McClellan, or anybody else in
the armies, that Secretary Stanton had sometime previously positively
ordered General McDowell _not_ to reinforce McClellan.

My dispatch was unintentionally a criticism on the Secretary of War;
and, coming as it did, in this outside and unofficial way, to Covode,
whose committee were investigating these things, it no doubt put me in
bad shape before the Secretary of War.

Undoubtedly, Major Eckert, who was then the official in charge of the
telegraph office, but who in reality acted as a messenger to carry
private news to the ear of the Secretary, gladly availed himself of the
opportunity to place me in a bad light before the Secretary.

As I had previously made several visits to Washington and Baltimore
while sojourning with the family, my short absence of one day and two
nights was not noticed.

I may be permitted to say, parenthetically, that Miss Mamie Wells, the
second daughter, had gone to her sister's home in Baltimore under my
charge a few days previous to this. Her war history, I venture to say
here, would present one of the most attractive yet written.

She was, during the bombardment and battles, a Florence Nightingale to
both sides; and to her parents and family, in the subsequent terrible
sufferings consequent upon their exposed position between the two
armies, became a heroine in deed and in truth.

My personal acquaintance with this remarkable young lady was confined to
the few days of 1862. The incident which is best remembered occurred
while riding up the Potomac from Aquia Creek as her escort, _en route_
to Baltimore. In reply to something that I had said on the subject that
was uppermost in my heart, she took occasion to say to me in a kind,
sisterly way about Geno, that produced a lasting effect upon me: "You
must not trifle with that child."

That I was sincere and very much in earnest she soon discovered,
because, from her charming manner, I was impelled to tell her right
there much more of my love for her sister than I had told Geno herself.
Her smiling approval, when I mentioned my ambition to make Geno an
officer's wife, was: "You love like a boy, but I believe you would fight
like a man."

Miss Sue was of an entirely different disposition. She was a born
coquette, and flirting was natural to her. Her eyes were hazel, and, if
I may be permitted to offer my advice to the sons of veterans, it is,
don't attempt to flirt with a pair of hazel eyes, because it is a waste
of time and dangerous. Perhaps they are less susceptible than black or
blue, but once trifled with, or neglected, they do not pine away in
grief, but rally for revenge and take it out in scorn.

I never made love to Miss Sue that I remember, after having met Geno;
but she evidently felt that I was her legitimate game, simply because
she was the oldest daughter. In fact, she told me plainly that Geno was
entirely too young to be spending so much time with strange young

Naturally enough, I resented her advice, and talked to Geno about it,
but my little girl only laughed sweetly at my earnestness, and not once,
that I can recall, said a single word in reply that reflected on her
elder sister's judgment. Geno's voice was mild, her method of speaking
slow, with a charmingly hesitating manner, that made everything she
said, or left unsaid, impressive.

The father being absent in exile, Miss Sue prevailed upon the mother to
allow her to "manage this affair," as she haughtily termed it. We were
being restricted somewhat arbitrarily by Miss Sue's management, and, to
get around it, I had recourse to smuggling little notes to Geno through
her little brother George and sister Jennie.

I recall now, with a laugh, with what slyness and caution Geno managed
this little secret service of ours. There were not any ciphers used, but
Geno had away of inserting quotations in French in her notes that
embarrassed me, because I couldn't interpret them myself, and, of
course, dare not appeal to any one else.

One day we all came to grief by Miss Sue getting hold of one of my notes
to Geno, in which I impulsively intimated that the animus or motive of
Sue's opposition was based on the fact that she desired all the
attention bestowed on herself. That was a very indiscreet thing to put
on a piece of paper; but, as I have said before, I think, I was twenty
and Geno was sixteen.

Entering the parlor one afternoon, I found both the sisters sobbing and
crying as if their hearts were breaking over some sudden intelligence of
a dreadful character. I hurriedly asked if their father had been caught.
But, to my eager interest, Sue replied through her tears by taking me to
task about this note. I tried to explain, but she did all the talking
for an hour, and I got no chance to say a word, until she said something
about Geno being too young to take care of herself, when I blurted out:
"Geno is better able to take care of herself than you are, and I know

That was putting my foot into it deeper than ever.

It took me a week to get this affair straightened out, and I verily
believe the words uttered so thoughtlessly at this moment were treasured
up against me in wrath by Miss Sue for twenty years, though she
pretended to "make up," and I kissed both of the sisters that time
before we broke up the conference or love-feast.

There remains in existence to-day a neatly-written, faded letter
addressed to "The friend of an hour," which my sister Ruthie has
preserved. The smart, sharp, stinging words of this letter have served
as a model for more than one communication under similar circumstances.

There was this peculiarity about the Wells family: they were all loyal
and true to each other, and to their parents. More than one outsider has
learned to their sorrow--touch one, and all of them were touched.

As serving to indicate this, and to show the innocence and purity of
Geno, I will relate at my own expense an incident.

Shortly after the Captain and father had "escaped" through my
connivance, Geno, in her sweet, hesitating voice, said to me, in reply
to something I had been saying or doing: "Father said to me, as he bid
me good-by: 'Geno, look out for Mr. O. K.'"

I was stunned. Perhaps I was presuming too far on my being solid with
the family, and, in my usual impulsive way, I earnestly resented the
Captain's caution, probably because I realized that he was right, and
said something harsh in reply. Geno looked up into my face in a
surprised way, while she defended her father. I shall never forget the
words and the manner in which they were uttered: "Why, father knows
best. I would not have him angry with me for anything."

It was a lesson to me. I was angry at the moment, but I loved her all
the more for this evidence of loyalty to her parents.

It may be worth while to add a word of advice to the boys and girls who
may read this. The good and faithful daughter always makes a good wife.
Don't forget it, boys and girls.

To pick up the tangled love-knot in the thread of this narrative, I will
say during the pleasant evening spent with the Wells family, I was so
happy and contented that I became wholly oblivious to everything that
was going on in the army outside. It was late the next day when I walked
down to the railroad office as usual, to see if there was any news for
me. It was then that I received the note of warning from my brother
Spencer, which had come during my absence, a reference to which has been
made further back in this narrative.

While in or around this office or station, about which were always
congregated a great crowd of officers and soldiers off duty, as well as
sutlers, newsboys, etc., I was pleasantly approached by General
McCallum, who had charge of all the military railroads, as the successor
of Colonel Thos. A. Scott, and who, after talking agreeably about some
of the work I had previously undertaken, told me in his gruff way:
"Railroad and telegraph employés have been required by the Secretary of
War to take the oath of allegiance. All have signed but you, and I have
left a blank in the office for your signature."

I was an employé, and as such was perfectly willing to sign all the
oaths they required, and expressed my willingness to comply at once. I
found a written blank form had been prepared for me in the office. I
signed it without thinking it necessary to read. When handing the paper
back to the clerk, he remarked jocularly: "They have made you sign a
mighty tight paper, haven't they?"

It was only when my curiosity was aroused by this remark that I thought
of reading over the form of the oath. I think it was what was known in
the year after as the cow-catcher bond or iron-clad oath. It was
purposely made strong enough to catch any supposed case of disloyalty.
It contained one simple clause that at the time seemed to perplex me a
little. It read in substance: "I have never belonged to any
organization, or borne arms against the Government of the United States,
voluntarily or involuntarily."

I could not conscientiously or truthfully swear to that. I was willing
enough to do almost anything to get around the ugly point, that seemed
like a rock in my path, without being forced to explain that I had
voluntarily united with the rebel army, and involuntarily borne arms
against the Government. I dreaded very much putting my name to a paper
which could in any event be brought up against me as a proof that I was
"a perjurer."

I was loyal to the core, as everybody who has read this must know; but I
had--I may say voluntarily--united myself with the Third Battalion of
Rebel Maryland Artillery. To be sure, I was forced by the necessities of
my peculiar work and the situation during my sickness in Richmond, as
well as prompted by a desire to further and better aid the United States
Government, to do this; but the stubborn fact was--I had taken their
oath and I had in reality borne Rebel arms. I had not told anyone in
Fredericksburg about this, and none of the railroad employés knew
anything of my former experiences. Perhaps Geno had my confidence, but
none of the family ever received any intimation from her of my true
character. To them all I was, as Sue put it, "A nice little fellow from
Pennsylvania, and that's all we know."

I saw at the first glance of this new oath that I was in a tight place;
and, in a moment of hasty impulse, prompted solely by a desire to be
truthful and honorable to myself, I scratched my name from the paper.
Without a word of explanation to the astonished clerk, I took it to Gen.
McCallum, and, in a few words, explained my action, and desired him to
try and find some way out of the trouble for me. He had understood in a
general way something of my experiences, and when I told him my action,
he agreed with me, and said that it was right and honorable in me to
protect my name. Further, on his return to Washington the day following,
he said he would report the matter to the Secretary of War, and asked
that I be permitted to remain in the service without being compelled to
sign that iron-clad paper.

I thought then that the matter was settled, and in the evening went home
from my office, to pass another--only one more--of the enjoyable, happy
nights, in the company of the ladies.

In the meantime the leaven I had sent to Washington previously, in the
shape of a telegram to Covode, had begun to work; so that when General
McCallum got back to Washington City the next day, and reported my case
to the Assistant Secretaries, P. H. Watson and General Eckert, these two
officials put their wise heads together, and with only the evidence in
their possession, which was additionally overbalanced by General
Eckert's former prejudice, they came to the hasty conclusion, without
giving me a chance to be heard, that "I was a very dangerous man," and
so reported their conclusion to Mr. Stanton, whose attention was at the
same time called to my reports to Covode.

The telegrapher at Fredericksburg at that time, was a Mr. Gentry, of
Kentucky, a clever gentleman, as all Kentuckians are that I have ever

That afternoon, while lounging in the cool parlor with Geno and Miss
Sue, I was called to the door by a visit from Mr. Gentry, who politely
informed me that he had an intimation from my brother and friends in
Washington that I would get into trouble unless I signed that oath. Mr.
Gentry very kindly advised me, to use his own words, which made such a
lasting impression on me that I have not forgotten them: "Now, don't you
be carried away by infatuation for this pretty little girl; act sensibly
for the present; why, I'd sign anything, and I'm from Kentucky."

He was very courteous, and I felt that he had been sent after me, and if
there is any one thing that I abhor it is being "led" or coddled. He
knew nothing of my reasons for declining the oath, and when he desired a
reply from me to telegraph back to Washington, I merely said: "Just
tell them I won't do it. They will understand that."

"But," Mr. Gentry interposed, "the Secretary of War sends this
word--that you must do it."

"Well, I won't do it for the Secretary of War or anybody else."

"What shall I tell him?"

"Tell him to go to ----."

"No," laughed Gentry, "I wouldn't like to do that."

"Well, tell the Secretary I said so."

I felt at that time that it was not Mr. Stanton personally who was
insisting upon cornering me in this way. He certainly knew of my former
services, and that I could not be disloyal if I wanted to. If he had
given the subject a moment's consideration, he would have surmised the
reason for my "recalcitrancy"--to call it by a big name.

I believed then, and I have always entertained the opinion, that Mr.
Eckert, through Assistant Secretary Watson, was instrumental in creating
this misunderstanding. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I shall die without
changing my mind on this subject.

Mr. Gentry probably went direct to his office after his short interview
with me and reported the failure of his effort to "reconstruct me."

I imagine that, in his jocular manner, common to all operators, he
detailed the exact conversation with me over the wire to the War
Department operators. I cannot think he sent my words as an official
message to the Secretary of War, but undoubtedly the substance had been
telegraphed, and, of course, the War Department telegraph spies made the
most use of their opportunity to down one who was inclined to be so
"independent and obstreperous."

In an hour or two Mr. Gentry returned to the house--they all knew where
to find me--called me to the door again, and, in the most feeling
manner, told me privately that he had received, and at the same time
held in his possession, a telegraph order from the Secretary of War, E.
M. Stanton, to Provost-Marshal-General Patrick for my arrest.

Mr. Gentry very kindly kept the fact that he had received such a message
entirely to himself, considerately bringing to me first the ugly
intelligence. He did not say so, but I have always believed his object
was to give me an opportunity of escaping. I could easily have done so
without leaving any suspicion attached to him of having advised me of this

I had no thought of attempting anything of this kind. We sat down on the
porch together while I read the order, which is to-day on file in the
War Office, in these words: "Arrest and keep in the closest confinement,
O. K., and send to Washington in charge of sufficient guard to prevent
any communication."

Mr. Gentry endeavored to ease the "disagreeable duty," as he termed it,
by saying that the receipt of such an order was a great surprise to him,
and he felt sure there was some mistake, and that all would be righted
when I should reach Washington.

When I realized the full purport of such an order from the Secretary of
War, I was almost stunned at the direful prospect.

My first thoughts were of the distressing effect of such news on my
father and relatives at home, who were expecting that I should receive
soon a promotion from the Secretary of War to the Regular Army. How,
then, could I explain this arrest to them? I don't know now whether or
not I even thanked Mr. Gentry for his kind thoughtfulness at the time. I
hope he may be living and see from this that, after the lapse of
twenty-five years, I have not forgotten his generous and thoughtful
consideration for me on that hot Summer day in 1862.

Asking to be excused for a moment, I briefly told Mrs. Wells of the
sudden intelligence, which she received in her motherly, sympathetic
manner, with both hands raised in astonishment. Without trusting myself
to talk further to her or anyone else in my agitated condition, I
rejoined Mr. Gentry, and we walked together up the hill to General
Patrick's office, where Mr. Gentry handed the order to General Patrick
while I stood by. After he had read the telegram, Mr. Gentry astonished
the old man by introducing his prisoner. The General was kind, indeed he
was very sympathetic, and explained that, as the order was direct from
the Secretary of War, he should have to give it especial attention, and
see that it was executed to the letter; but he would make it as pleasant
for me as possible.

I was given one of the vacant rooms in the private mansion then
occupied as Provost-Marshal's Headquarters; a sentry with a loaded
musket stood guard in the large hallway at my open door, with positive
orders, as I was courteously informed by the officer who placed him
there, not to allow anyone to see me, and, under no circumstances, was I
to communicate with any person, except through himself, as officer of
the guard.

As there were no boats leaving for Washington City from Aquia Creek so
late in the day, I was obliged to remain a solitary prisoner, under
strict order of the War Department, until the following day.

I shall make the story of my imprisonment as brief as may be. During all
my life, it has been a close secret with me, and for the first time, I
am attempting to tell the entire story, which to many of my best friends
has been as a hidden mystery.

The sentry in a blue uniform, with a loaded musket in his arms, stood
within a few feet of me during the evening; and, while I slept on a cot,
he faced about like a guardian angel, in a grum sort of way, however,
that was not at all calculated to promote a feeling of sociability.

In fact, his bearing rather impressed me with an overwhelming sensation
that the gun he carried was loaded, and the fellow who had command of it
looked as if he were asking for a chance to try it on something.

He wasn't a companionable fellow, so I acted toward him as he did to
me--with silent contempt; and that's the way I spent the evening. I knew
very well that there were plenty of friends in town who would have
called to see me in this, my time of need, if they had been permitted to
do so. As it was, I was all alone in my glory, until late in the
evening, when an officer, accompanied by a soldier, came to my prison
door, the soldier carrying a little basket, which I was told contained
my supper, which kind and motherly Mrs. Wells had sent to me, but not a
word of sympathy or regret accompanied it. I don't know for sure, but I
think that the contents had been, not only "inspected" by the officer of
the guard on the lookout for contraband communications, but that the
different little dainties had been sampled as well, probably to see if
they did not conceal a poison.

This generous and thoughtful remembrance from Mrs. Wells, was the only
indication I received in my solitary confinement, during all that
beautiful but lonely long summer evening in Fredericksburg, that there
were any persons outside of my four walls, except the grim old sentry.
Of course, I well knew that at our house there would be assembled the
usual crowd of happy young folks, and their conversation and thoughts
would naturally be with me in my confinement. This comforting reflection
was, however, somewhat disturbed by the fear that the entire family
might either have been arrested or dispersed; so that, the discomforts
of my close confinement were greatly increased by this fear, until I was
in a manner assured of their safety by the arrival of the
daintily-served lunch.

I slept that night--if I slept at all--on a bed of misery. At every turn
I was made to realize that I was a prisoner--to our own side. Though the
officers of General Patrick's Staff, who had charge of me, were
accomplished gentlemen, and seemed apparently to sympathize with me, I
could not conceal and they must have seen my distress, they were
obliged, by the strict orders they had received--as was frequently
explained to me--direct from the Secretary of War--to _prevent_ any
communication with me.

The morning following my arrest, after a hasty and solitary breakfast, I
was personally visited by General Patrick, who was then Provost-Marshal
for that Army, who, in the most kindly manner possible, expressed his
regrets for the necessity of putting me to so much inconvenience,
further explaining that, once in Washington, I could no doubt get
everything fixed up. He then showed me two letters and a small pocket
Bible that had been sent to me, but which he could not deliver to me,
under the strict orders to permit no communication. When I recognized
the address of one letter to be the well-known handwriting of my father,
the very sight of it seemed to be like a thrust of a knife into my
heart, as I at once realized how distressing to him would be the news of
my arrest--my friends had been expecting in its stead a promotion, by
way of recompense for my past services. The other note I knew was from
Geno, while the Bible was the last, best gift of Mrs. Wells.

I was assured by General Patrick that they should be sent along with me
to Washington, in the care of the officer in charge, and he hoped and
expressed the belief that I should soon be free and get possession of

With a kind "Good-by," he introduced me to Captain ----, whose name I
have forgotten, and a Lieutenant, who would kindly accompany me to
Washington. The Captain very considerately observed that it had been
arranged that we should get out of town quietly, without attracting any
attention from the crowds about the streets, who had, no doubt, heard of
my arrest.

To better accomplish this and avoid the depot, we crossed the river
together at a ferry, in order to take the train for Aquia Creek from the
other side, and, in so doing, we passed within a half block of Geno's
house, but not within sight of it.

The Captain who accompanied me, though always by my side or, at least,
close by me, considerately made it a point to act toward me--his
prisoner--as if I were merely a companion. Not any of the crowd that
took the train that day with us suspected that I was a prisoner. And, by
the way, there was a great crowd leaving for Washington about that time,
caused, if I remember aright, by some bad news from General Banks in the
Valley, or McClellan.

It was the Lieutenant who was acting as the silent partner of the
Captain, who kept the closer eye upon me, while, at the same time, he
discreetly kept himself aloof from us and did not appear at all as one
of the party. I mention all this minutely, merely to show that,
notwithstanding the strict orders of the Secretary of War, and the close
watch of the two officers, I succeeded in communicating with my friends
at Washington.

When the overcrowded train of open freight cars and one or two passenger
coaches cautiously crawled over the big trestle-work bridges,
constructed by details of soldiers, between Falmouth, on the opposite
side of the river from Fredericksburg, and reached "You-be-dam" Station,
near Aquia Creek, though only twelve or fourteen miles, it was late in
the day. There was a long temporary pier at Aquia Creek, and a number of
rough board-sheds had been erected for the accommodation of the
Quartermaster, commissary and other officers at this base of supplies.
Among these offices was located the railroad telegraph offices, which
were then in charge of Mr. Wm. Emerick, at the present time the
efficient manager of the Gold and Stock Telegraph Company in New York
City. In the management of the business in hand, it so happened that my
Captain was obliged to call in a business way upon the Quartermaster,
stationed here, to secure the required transportation for his party, on
the boat up to Washington City; and while he was showing his papers and
explaining his errand, I occupied a seat that I discovered to be
convenient to the telegraph office, or desk, which was located in the
same room. Mr. Emerick did not at that time suspect that I was an
operator, neither did he know that I was under arrest; so, when the
attention of the Captain was drawn, Mr. Emerick was eating his lunch
outside, I sat on the edge of the rough table that was used for the
telegraph instruments. Without speaking a word and apparently intent on
watching the Captain's business, as my face was toward him, quietly,
with one hand I touched the telegraph key, and deftly making use of my
education as an operator, I signaled for attention. Quickly, and as all
operators will readily understand, in shorter time than it takes me to
tell it on paper, I was recognized by the answer, I, I, g-a., which
means, Yes, go ahead. I sent a few words nervously to my brother
operator, in effect for Mr. "John Covode--Call at Old Capitol Prison to
see me," and signed my name.

This was all done so quickly, and so quietly and effectively, that not
one person present suspected that I was occupied in anything of the

Lest I should be suspected, I left the telegraph desk abruptly, but I
had the satisfaction of hearing the acknowledgment of my dispatch, in
the familiar telegraph sound: "O. K."

In the year following, I rode in an ambulance one day with Mr. Emerick
from Aldie to Washington during the Gettysburg campaign, and was amused
beyond my power of description to hear Mr. Emerick detail the trick that
a Rebel Spy had played on him at Aquia Creek. He did not detect, in my
hearty laugh at his recital of the story, that I was in any way an
interested party because, at that time, I was on the Headquarters
Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac Staff, and wore the blue uniform.

At the regular hour for the daily boats to leave Aquia Creek for
Washington, we--the Captain, Lieutenant and myself--were aboard and
comfortably seated in arm-chairs on the hurricane deck.

About 6 P. M. we ran up past the Arsenal and finally fastened to the
wharf. Here I realized fully, for the first time, that the Captain and
Lieutenant were both strictly attentive to me, insisting on giving me a
helping hand to almost every step through the crowds that were then
rushing off the boats as soon as they touched the landings. I realized,
with a sickening sensation at my heart, that I was not now free to go as
I pleased, as had been my habit on many former trips up the river to

The officer in charge, not knowing the location of the Old Capitol
Prison, in Washington, it became my duty to pilot my guard to my own
prison. I believe we went along Maryland avenue, or, at least, to the
south side of Washington, on what was known as "the Island"--below the
canal--and got up through one of the stone-yards that then surrounded
the unfinished Capitol.

In 1862 there were no beautiful Capitol Grounds to the north and south
of the building, but, instead, the whole country thereabout was occupied
by the gang of stone-cutters and their piles of marble or stone debris,
similar to that which surrounded the Washington Monument within the last
few years.

I steered the way in a direct course to the Old Capitol. When we got
there, we were stopped by an armed sentry on the pavement, who called an
officer that escorted us inside the hallway.

Here we were again detained, to wait until the Commandant had been heard
from. After a most unhappy wait of half an hour we were ordered to the
"office." Here, for the first time, I saw Colonel W. P. Woods, who is, I
understand, a resident of Washington. Colonel Woods was rather a young,
sharp-looking man, if I remember correctly, with side-whiskers, or, as
we term them, short Presbyterians.

He was evidently accustomed to receiving guests at his hotel, and at
first seemingly paid but little attention to the new arrivals, being at
the time engaged in conversation with some lady visitors. The Captain
produced a letter, which a young fellow, with all the airs of a hotel
clerk, graciously deigned to open and read. He left his seat and
whispered a word to Captain Woods, who left his talkative lady friends
and turned his attentions to us, with as sudden an interest as if he
had discovered a millionaire guest among the recent arrivals. I never
knew what were the contents of the letter delivered to the Captain. I
presume it is on record in the War Department among the Rebellion
Records. Only this much I am sure. I am not mistaken in saying that I
was a special guest, and at once became the center of attraction for
Captain Wood and his force of attendants.

He gave us his personal attention, and himself took the records, and
entered my arrival on his register, where they will be found to-day.

The walls of the Old Capitol Prison of the War of the Rebellion are
still standing on the corner of First and A streets, North-East
Washington, but in so altered a shape as to be scarcely recognized by
the oldest inhabitants. In 1862 this famous building was a plain, oblong
structure, more closely resembling a warehouse after the style of the
Richmond Tobacco Libby, than anything else that I can think of just now
by way of comparison.

The old building was what was known as a double house, with a large,
very broad hallway running through the center of the house, extending to
the back porch or yard, on the L-shaped wing--a back building on A

In one of the four rooms that opened out of the hall, located nearest
the door I think, was Captain Wood's office. Here I was "detained" for,
well, probably an hour, after the Captain had bidden me a cordial
"Good-by," promising that when he reported my safe arrival to the
Secretary, on the following morning, he would endeavor to say a word of
commendation of my good conduct.

My heart sank within me when I realized to the fullest extent that I was
a prisoner. I sat in a chair near Mr. Wood's desk, while he, with some
others, arranged suitable quarters for me. In due time I was shown to my
room, which was located in the L, immediately at the head of the back
stairs that led up out of the porch. I am living in Washington on the
same square with the celebrated old building, now occupied as a princely
residence by Chief Justice Field, General Drum, Senator Spooner, and,
during my daily walks to and fro, I frequently pass the old window, and
never once fail to look at it, almost expecting to see a ghost of my
former self looking out at me.

I was shown to my little eight by ten hall-room, furnished only by a
soldier's cot and a chair, and being so tired, sick, and broken-hearted
I lay down, and, after bitter, scalding tears, soon dropped into the
sleep of innocence.



My Old Capitol Prison experience covered about three weeks of the
hottest and, to me, the most disagreeable close and sultry days of a
Washington summer.

I was a "prisoner of State" within the walls of the ugly old building
during part of the months of August and September, 1862.

To one of my active temperament, the confinement at this particular time
was made doubly annoying by the knowledge we, as prisoners, were
permitted to obtain, in an unsatisfactory way, of course, of the
important military movements that were then going on outside. We heard,
in a half apologetic way, of the abandonment of the Peninsula by
McClellan, or a change of base; and this news was received inside the
prison by the inmates with cheers, that sent cold chills down my spine.
The locks and bars, which were always in sight, as well as the bayonets
of the armed sentry, that were everywhere in view from the windows,
seemed to sink deeper into my heart, when I realized that Fredericksburg
was also necessarily abandoned, and Geno in the hands of the Rebels.
When the crowded inmates of the prison would form groups in the yard in
the evening, and, in the wildest glee, openly congratulate each other on
the prospect of their speedy release by Stonewall Jackson's men, when he
should reach Washington, I felt, for obvious reasons, that I'd rather
not be "released" by that sort of a crowd. This feeling was especially
exhibited after the news of General Pope's disaster at the second battle
of Bull Run, that occurred while I was locked up there. But I am getting
over these three weeks in O. C. P., as we call it for short, a little

Very few of the tourists who visit Washington are aware that within
rifle-shot of the Capitol stands (in greatly altered shape, of
course,) one of the most historic buildings about the city. A good-sized
book might be printed about the Old Capitol, and yet not one-half the
secrets the old walls could tell would have been told. It was within
these walls that John C. Calhoun, in dreadful agony of mind and body,
breathed his last on earth, and it is said that his last words were not
those of peace and happiness. It seems a little odd that the same brick
and mortar hid from the outside world the last dreadful agony of the
arch-fiend Wirz. The Kit Carson G. A. R. Post, of Washington, of which I
am a comrade, was organized over the same bier and in the same dungeon
that contained the body of Wirz after execution, in the year of the
assassination of Lincoln, and during the Presidency of Mr. Andrew


I spent my first night alone in a prison on the only cot the little
hall-room contained. I had thrown myself upon it when I realized that
Colonel Woods had closed and locked the door on me, after a polite
"Good-night," without undressing myself. I admit that I broke down
completely, and cried myself to sleep. I was simply broken-hearted when
I recalled my previous dangerous services for the Government; could not
understand why I should be so ruthlessly and heartlessly treated by the
Secretary-of-War. It was my sensitive feelings that were so cruelly

In the morning I wakened, a hardened, stubborn, and, if I had been given
the least chance, I should have shown myself an ugly, vindictive _man_.
It seemed as if the _boy_ in my nature had parted from me with those
bitter tears, and when I roused myself it was with a determination to
"do something"--I didn't know exactly what, but it was anything but a
surrender, or to beg for my liberty.

The unlocking of the doors and the tramping of feet along the hallways,
with the voices of the attendants in boisterous conversation with the
inmates of the other part of the Hotel de O. C. P., were the sounds that
first awakened me to this new life, as it were. As I had not undressed,
I was out before the crowd got around, and enjoyed the opportunity of
surveying my surroundings in quietness. As I have tried to explain, my
room was right at the head of the hall stairs, on the L-part of the
building, facing on A street north. The only window the room contained
looked north, and, as there were in those days no buildings at all, of
any size, in that part of the city, my view extended away across the
country to the Deaf and Dumb Asylum on the northern hills. In the low
foreground were the numerous trains of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad,
that were constantly going and coming out, the tracks being in full
view. This sight of loaded cars speeding away to the North--to home and
liberty--was not, you may be assured, exactly the thing calculated to
make the close prisoner, who saw them from his window, feel any better
contented with his prison. My first thoughts at this sight were, that I
should quietly leap down the short distance from that window on to the
pavement below, as it was but one story above the walk, where I might
quietly glide over the open commons and "catch a train."

There were no bars to the windows, and the sash was not even fastened
down, because of the necessity for ventilation, so that I was able to
stick my head clearly outside, but I was paralyzed to discover on the
first inspection that, down on the pavement below my window, every inch
was being closely patrolled by a double guard of armed sentries, while
the commons, a little distance off, were occupied as the camp for the
outside-guard. That's exactly the way they had it arranged in 1862, and,
I also observed very soon after my arrival, that there was an
inside-guard pacing up and down the hallway in front of our open doors.
The outside sentinels did not allow _any_ one except their own officers
on the pavement or street, in their front, so that communication in any
shape or form was out of the question.

The back stairway led out on to the porch of the L, that opened into the
yard. Communicating with this wooden porch at one end was the front
hall, which led through the center of the main building out on to First
street, to the west. It was modeled precisely on the same old-fashioned
plan of a large farmhouse or country hotel. A main building, divided in
the center by a hall which opened on to the big back porch. As if to
further complete the comparison with a country tavern, I found, on going
down stairs that first morning, that the porch was provided with a
number of wash-bowls and long towels on rollers, at which the guests
were expected to make their morning toilets, assisted by that usual
scraggy old comb attached to a yard of string, tied to each post of the
porch, that contained, of course, a looking-glass which distorted one's
face so that I imagined, at the first sight of myself, that a single
night in jail had made me look like a horrible old murderer.

Meals were served by the proprietors, of course, but I was politely
informed by an officer, in answer to some question about the rules and
regulations of the house, that those who preferred it could select a
caterer and have special meals served from the outside. I concluded to
be a prisoner on the European plan, and joined a mess of two or three
other hail-fellows-well-met, to whom I was introduced by the officer.
There were no restrictions placed on my intercourse with this mess,
though we were informed that the trio would not be allowed to have any
communication with prisoners in the other part of the house.

I did not want to see anybody that I had ever known before--not even my
brother, who was then at the War Department, and to whom I had secretly
telegraphed to meet me with Mr. Covode. There is no other explanation of
this feeling except an admission that it was a cranky freak I indulged
in to the fullest extent. After my first breakfast, while in my little
room engaged in looking out of the window at the shifting trains, I was
surprised by a first call from a lady.

One of our mess, whom I will call English, because he was an English
"Spy"--or had been arrested as being in communication with the
Rebels--politely knocked at my half-open door, saying, in the most
polite way, for he was a genuine English gentleman:

"Miss Belle Boyd desires to meet you, sir," and, before I could recover
from my surprise, the door was darkened by the lithe and graceful figure
of a neatly-dressed young lady, who had presented herself to my vision
so suddenly as to suggest a spirit from the other world. It was Belle
Boyd, the celebrated female Rebel Spy. I had heard of her in connection
with her daring horseback raids about Winchester and in the Valley with
Stonewall Jackson and Jeb Stuart, but did not have any idea that she was
to be a "fellow" prisoner with me. Without any embarrassment at all, and
as if sincerely anxious to welcome me to the prison, she stepped forward
smilingly and, with hands outstretched, took mine in hers, as she said:
"I was anxious to see who it was that was here by Stanton's express

I don't just remember now how I did act, but it's most likely that it
was in an awkward, embarrassed manner, that caused Miss Belle to say,
reassuringly: "Oh, you are among your friends now, and I'm glad to know

To my immediate relief the conversation was further carried on by
English and Miss Boyd in a strain which, while it gave me an opportunity
to recover myself, at the same time put the thought into my brain that
I'd "catch on," as we say nowadays, and find out what this racket in the
Spy line was. Here were two Rebel spies, with whom I had been put in
confidential communication, and it flashed across my mind in an instant
that I would make some good come of the unpleasant surroundings and put
myself in such a position that the War Department would be glad enough
to acknowledge my services. There was not a shadow of a doubt of Belle
Boyd's sincere interest in me. She said:

"I was in C. I. Woods' office last night when I heard him tell the
officers on duty: 'You must not overlook the fact that the young man in
the hall room, by himself, is here under the _express_ orders of Mr.

As Miss Boyd made this observation in her own positive style, her lip
curled with scorn at the mention of Mr. Stanton's name. She said
further, in words that I have never forgotten:

"There was something else said in an undertone that I could not gather,
but I determined that I would see the prisoner who was under Mr.
Stanton's express orders."

This was my introduction to Belle Boyd, and to this indorsement of
Colonel Woods and Mr. Stanton I am probably indebted for the very warm
and kindly interest this famous female Spy afterward showed toward me.

As I remember her appearance at that time, she was of light, rather fair
complexion, and I think her hair was inclined to be a strawberry blonde.
While she was not strictly a handsome woman, there was something in her
manner that was very attractive. She reminded me of Maggie Mitchell in
her younger days. She was graceful, and, if I remember her right, has
been accorded much praise for her winning ways and easy bearings. Though
she was older than myself at that time, and the center of attraction
among the distinguished prisoners, all of whom seemed anxious to win her
favor, I flatter myself that the famous female Spy took quite a fancy to

The gentleman whom I have called Mr. English was rather older than
either of the little coterie that I had been invited to join. He was one
of those fellows who have been everywhere and know everything; in short,
a regular adventurer, after the style of the English novel. He was
educated--at least, we all thought so--because he talked so glibly and
knowingly about every conceivable thing, and incidentally mentioned some
of the palaces he had visited, how he had been entertained by royalty.
This, with an occasional hint as to the character of his family friends,
and the accidental exhibition of a genuine coat-of-arms, convinced Miss
Boyd and myself, in our inexperience with this sort of thing, that our
friend was, of course, a disguised "juke," and from that time forth he
was treated with the greatest deference by us, and ate the best part of
our rations. Fortunately for me, he and Miss Belle Boyd did all the
talking for the first few days. I became a quiet and admiring listener,
had plenty of time in which to gather myself up, so as to be able to
formulate my own story, when it should be called for.

But this everlasting Englishman talked so incessantly, and so agreeably,
too, about his wonderful adventures, "in the bush, you know," while in
the East India service, and in the Crimea, that, as I said, even Belle
Boyd, who was a great talker, had but little show.

Our friend could sing, too, as well as talk; each evening the prisoners
assembled in the "court-yard," while our glee club, on the balcony
above, which was something like a stage, led by the Englishman, who
bossed everything, you know, furnished entertaining music. We had every
song in the whole list well rendered. It is easier to mention what was
_not_ sung than to begin to tell all that were given by this improvised
club. Among those we never heard was the Star Spangled Banner, and
kindred airs. We had Dixie for reveille, dinner and tea, and it was
Dixie for a doxology at taps.

We had regular taps and hours in O. C. P. just as they have in camp
outside. At bed-time everyone was made to "douse his glim" with as much
strictness as if we were all aboard a man-of-war at Fort Pickens.

While I played the Rebel inside the prison for a purpose, because, as I
have said, I determined the first day not to beg off, and it came sort
of natural for me to ventilate a little against Stanton, I became
awfully bored by the everlasting Rebel talk, and especially so at the
Englishman's predictions, that we would all become willing "subjects of
Her Majesty before long."

I must do the most violent Rebel prisoner the credit for resenting this
sort of talk, every time it was broached in O. C. P.

One evening the Englishman was, as usual, entertaining the assembled
crowd with his melodious bellowing of "Brittania Rules the Waves;" he
could do that song up in the most approved operatic style; indeed, my
later judgment is that the fellow must have been an opera singer among
his other accomplishments. He sang this beautiful song standing before
the prisoners in the most effective stage style, expecting, as a matter
of course, to be applauded and encored at the end of the act. Instead of
that, however, in a quiet, slow-speaking voice, I suggested
involuntarily: "How about the Monitor and Merrimac?"

The question seemed so apt, and put in such a sly way, that it seemed to
act as a match that exploded a slumbering mine. The Englishman never
before had such applause, accompanied with loud laughter. It was a
continuous "howl" for a few minutes. We retired that night, laughingly
discussing the Englishman and the Monitor.

The incident served to break up the singing services, and after that we
heard less of England. It also shows that, even among the United States
Rebel prisoners in the Old Capitol Prison, in 1862, there was a
smoldering or banked-up fire of genuine patriotism yet burning, that
only needed a little stirring or poking up, to cause it to break out
into a great flame.

I will not burden this narrative with this Englishman's story. His
history, and especially his secret services for the Rebellion, as he
related it every day in the three weeks that I was obliged to listen to
his everlasting talk, would, to use a common term, fill a book.

He was evidently enamored of Miss Boyd, and the plans of these two Rebel
Spies, after they should be released, were from day to day discussed in
my hearing.

Belle Boyd's operations as a Spy, had been carried on principally in the
Valley, where I was not at all known. During our many hours of
confidential chat together, I learned from her, under pretense of
expecting to use the information in getting South, when I should
"escape," the names and location of those people along the Upper Potomac
and in Washington, who could be depended upon as "our friends," or as we
called them in those days, "Rebel sympathizers."

The list was extensive, and embraced some Washington "officials."

If my services had not resulted in anything else, this information
alone, which I gained as an involuntary Spy, was of sufficient
importance to compensate for all my troubles. Of course, it will be
understood here that Belle Boyd never once suspected my true character.
She had heard me denounced by the officials of the prison as a
"dangerous man." Indeed, without egotism, I may be allowed to say that,
at that particular time, I was looked upon by the prisoners and
attendants as a "remarkable character," to put it modestly.

I did not suspect at this time that I was the object of so much quiet
Rebel homage and attention, else I might have conducted myself
differently, and exhibited some vanity over the reputation I then
enjoyed. As it was, I was set down as one of the quietest, least
troublesome of all Colonel Woods' guests. That was my Old Capitol Prison
record in brief; and I don't know now whether I should boast of it or
not. Probably I do not deserve any credit at all for the simple facts
were, that I was so sick at heart, and yet so stubborn in disposition,
that I had neither inclination or desire to speak a word to _anybody_,
and wanted to be let alone.

My brother called to see me the second day after my arrival, accompanied
by some officious fellow from General Eckert's War Department Office,
whose name I have forgotten.

When Colonel Woods personally called me down to his office, he said, in
a kindly way, that my brother and a friend had called, and that, out of
respect for us all, he would permit us to have a quiet interview,
without any show of guards or the usual censorship of official
attendants. I thought at the time that this was very kind in Colonel
Woods, but I changed my mind after the interview had ended.

As I walked into the room, my brother stepped up to shake my hand, but
the poor fellow broke down completely and could not utter a word. His
exhibition of feeling surprised and, of course, affected me, and for the
moment I more fully realized the effect that imprisonment was even then
having on my father and friends in the world outside. With this came a
reaction in an intense bitterness, engendered by the knowledge that I
was being at least outrageously treated, so that I became in a moment,
even in the presence of my heart-broken brother, as cold and apparently
as indifferent as the worst Rebel inside. It will be seen that this
unjustifiable imprisonment had changed my whole nature for the time
being. It had soured me, as it were, with the War Department
Administration (but not with the country), as completely as a
thunderstorm would have turned a glass of sweet cream into a cold thick
mass of clabber.

The young fellow who accompanied my brother commenced to do the talking,
expressing in his kindliest way, but in a drawling nasal tone, peculiar
to a Down-east man who affects the moral-reform style, that has had the
effect of setting me on edge ever since against this class of men, his
"sincere regret at my unfortunate condition." His tone and manner not
only put me on nettles, but his first proposition was, "Now, my dear
boy, the best thing you can do, for your brother and yourself, is to
freely confess to----."

That's all he said; he didn't get any further, because I snapped him up
abruptly, saying, "Confess _nothing_; I'll do nothing of the kind,
because there isn't anything to confess."

"But, my dear boy, why did you refuse to take the oath of allegiance?
Surely if you----."

"Oh you go to ----. I'm not going to make any further explanations to

Then, turning to my brother, I quietly told him that Mr. Covode would
explain matters; that I would not, if I stayed there forever, ask any
favors from the War Office. My brother said that this man had been sent
down as a witness to my denial, and it was only necessary for me to say
in his presence that I would take the oath.

But, I could not honorably do that. I could not swear falsely to get out
of prison, that "I had never borne arms nor belonged to an armed
organization against the United States." And I would not perjure myself,
even with the orders of Secretary Stanton, with a long imprisonment
threatening me for disobedience.

And I did not. To make the long story short, I went back to prison.
Colonel Woods, who had been called into the room and heard with surprise
of my refusal to be released on such a "technicality," merely laughed as
he escorted me back to quarters, fully satisfied in his own mind, no
doubt, that I was a "case."

The Englishman and Belle Boyd had, of course, heard one side of his
story of my "bribery," and, in consequence, became, if possible, more
interested than ever in the development of my interesting case.

Realizing from this interview that I was simply at Mr. Stanton's mercy,
and that he was most probably influenced by the War Department suckers
whom I have mentioned, and who were envious or jealous of my independent
and important telegraph or secret communications, I made up my mind that
it was going to be a long siege in O. C. P. for me. The more I thought
about it, and as each day's scanty news brought us fresh and exciting
intelligence of the military doings in front of our army, I concluded
impulsively that I _wouldn't_ stay very long; that I _must_ be on hand
and once more outside. I would vindicate myself independently of Mr.
Stanton's advisers.

Our mess was served by a caterer from the outside, as I have already
explained. The meals were brought in three times a day, on a tray, by a
colored boy, or a contraband. I had noticed from my room window that
this colored boy came from that direction, and had, in consequence,
learned to look out for his appearance as regularly as we got hungry, at
each meal time, so that it became a daily question in our mess: "Is
dinner in sight yet?"

The same boy brought it every day. He had to pass the quartette of
guards in front of the house, and his basket was "subject to inspection"
inside the hall before it could be admitted through the house.

But, as a matter of fact, the inspection became somewhat of a fraud,
because the hungry guards selected the best bits of everything by way of
sampling the contents, so that we held so many indignation meetings and
bothered Colonel Woods so much with protests and complaints, that he was
glad enough to arrange with a "trooly loil" cook, whom he could trust to
not pack any papers in our grub. In this way our boy was permitted to
pass unquestioned, as he became so well known to the regular

It occurred to me that it would be a good scheme to personate the
colored boy, and walk out with the empty dishes, past the guard
unquestioned, and so escape from the prison.

Looking up into the colored boy's face, I noticed that his ragged, old,
white, straw-hat, always worn well pulled down over his curly head, half
concealed a black face that, while it was not exactly similar to my own
features, may be set down as being (with the exception of the black)
about my "style," in age and general appearance, if I should black my

Playfully at first, I suggested to Belle Boyd a scheme of exchanging
places with the boy, coloring my face, dressing in his coat and hat, and
attempting to walk out with his tray.

She looked at the boy, then at me, and, with a hearty laugh, declared:
"It's the very thing; let's do it."

Mr. English was, of course, consulted, and graciously gave his assent to
the undertaking, provided he was allowed to "make me up," and to boss
the job generally.

This suggestion was fully discussed between us during that and the days
that followed; indeed, we talked of little else for a while. How to
conceal the boy, inside, until I should get safely out of reach of the
guards, was the most difficult part of the problem. The trouble that
would ensue from my friend's complicity, if he should be detected, was
also fully discussed, and a plausible way out of all these difficulties
was arranged.

I was to borrow or buy from the boy, his old hat and coat, and the
patched pants and torn shoes I would manufacture.

I was to be already blackened when he should come in, at a certain
evening meal, that was usually served nearly at dark. While he was
waiting on our table I was quickly to don his hat and coat, and, with
the empty basket of rattling dishes, to boldly march out, as he had been
in the habit of doing, into the street, and then trust to my legs for
the balance. We were a long time in arranging all the details. Indeed,
the occupation it gave to us all helped to pleasantly pass hours that
might otherwise have been distressing.

Belle Boyd was as much interested in my outfit as any school-girl is
over the dressing up of her new doll, while the Englishman gave me
enough instructions and orders to carry me around the world. He was
certainly an adept in the business.

During my three weeks at the Old Capitol Prison, I made a number of
peculiar acquaintances that were quite interesting in the year which
followed. As I am only to furnish that which pertains to myself
personally, I will omit the mention of any other except to record my
first acquaintance with a most universally-known war character.

The party to whom I refer will be recognized by every soldier, I may say
without a single exception, in all the armies. I regret very much that I
can not give his name in Latin, but in war talk it was the "Greyback,"
or, in plain United States--lice.

These detestable things were in Old Capitol as thick as they only can
be, and, after my first contact, I may say frankly, they stuck to me
closer than a brother "for three years or during the war." This was one
of the "things" that "animated" me to get out of that dirty old
building, that I might rush down to the Potomac and drown myself.

Old Capitol is now a beautiful block of fine residences, containing,
to-day, probably as fine and as luxurious furniture and occupied by as
refined people as are in the country, but, personally, I wouldn't live
in it for anything, because I feel sure the bugs are in the walls yet.

The plan I proposed was entirely feasible; we all agreed on that; not
one of us doubted but that I would be able to successfully accomplish
the dangerous undertaking. It was dangerous only if I should be detected
in the attempt, as it would certainly end in my being sent off to Fort
Lafayette in New York Harbor, where I would probably be ironed and
placed in a dungeon as a dangerous character, and be kept there, too,
during the war. It never once occurred to me that to have been caught in
attempting to escape, or to have succeeded in doing so, would have
reacted against me disastrously, to the satisfaction of those who were
so anxious that I should afford them some proof by which they might be
able to more fully substantiate the charges of supposed disloyalty, that
they had whispered into the ear of the Secretary of War. It was quite an
easy matter in those days for the suckers, like Woods, Eckert, and the
gang of Pinkerton suckers, and others, who were around the War
Department, to poison the mind of the powers that were against any
persons they may have selected as a target for their contemptible and
cowardly persecution. It's a true story, well known among historians,
that this was being done--in many cases where the victims were often men
of great prominence and rank, that subsequent events proved to have been
as loyal as the Secretary himself.

The Englishman's story, that I gathered from his continual gabble, would
make a chapter in itself. I will only mention now that he was apparently
in the service of at least some official of great prominence in the
English Government. He told us of letters of introduction he brought to
President Jefferson Davis and a number of the leading officers of the
Rebel Government at Richmond; from ever so many "my lords" of high
degree in England.

It was while endeavoring to reach Richmond through the Potomac blockade
that he was captured, and, to his great disgust, all of his papers were
"seized," as he said, "by some brutal soldiers, you know," and the
vulgar officers absolutely declined to return his papers, and had
actually been so preposterous as to send him under guard to "a vile

That's about the style of his everlasting chin--from morning until
night--and the fact that his accent, as well as his foreign airs of
superiority and of contempt for the Yankees, necessarily accompanied the
words, made him all the more disagreeable to me.

The most interesting part of his story is, as he in an unguarded moment,
apparently, while talking with Miss Boyd, who had expressed a curiosity
to know why he did not attempt to escape, too, confessed that the real
object and purpose of his mission in this country, as he had been
instructed before leaving England by his friend, was to purposely place
himself in the way of arrest and imprisonment by the United States

His papers were not of an incendiary character exactly, I suppose, and
my recollection of it now is, that they were principally letters of
introduction, which were prepared by English lords with the avowed
purpose of being used by the bearer in making a "case," or difficulty,
on account of his English citizenship, which would give them some
grounds to make a claim for his release, that would create a breach, and
bring about a war, all in the interests of the Southern people. This, in
effect, was the story, and I took it all in very carefully.

One day, to my disgust as well as personal discomfort, Colonel Woods
brought a gentleman to my door, whom he introduced as a fellow Rebel who
would be compelled to share my room with me for awhile; because, as he
explained, they were getting a little crowded. The party introduced to
me, I recognized at once--that is I remembered seeing his face some
place, but couldn't exactly place him; when Colonel Woods in a little
further chat, intimated that my associate would no doubt be a boon
companion, as he was an original Rebel, he left us alone.

My new room-mate was a man of thirty-five or forty years, with a face
that I should now denominate as hard. He was pleasant; indeed, his
manner was made especially agreeable to me. The story he told me of the
cause of his imprisonment served to satisfy me--for the time being--that
I had been in error in having supposed that I had ever seen him before.

He said he was arrested for having been implicated in an attempt to
recapture and return to Virginia some fugitive slave whom he had caught
in the District of Columbia. He gave me a long account of the law, as it
then existed--which, by the way, is the fact--that in 1862 there was a
fugitive slave law in the District.

As soon as my two comrades in distress heard of this associate having
been thrust upon us, and dropped into our exclusive mess to become our
company, their suspicions were aroused.

The Englishman declared that the object of putting "this person" in
among us was to ascertain what we had been so thick about lately. I
confess this had not once occurred to me. I was simply annoyed at being
obliged to have the constant company of another person in my cramped
little hall room; not that he was at all disagreeable personally, but
probably because we three had become rather exclusive and wanted to
select our company from among the convicts. It is likely enough that we
would have resented any person's society from outside just then.

When the others expressed their conviction that it was a scheme to
entrap us, my eyes became opened, as I recalled again my first
impression, that I had certainly seen the man before. When I mentioned
this fact to Miss Boyd, she at once jumped to the conclusion that he was
a spy on us, which opinion was shared by the Englishman most decidedly,
who gave us our orders as our commander to be on the _qui vive_ for him.

It was thought best that we should treat him with the greatest possible
coolness, but of course with decency. Indeed, our Englishman was so
exceedingly polite and gracious to the new-comer that his assumed airs
and comic actions were so amusing to Miss Boyd and myself that we could
scarcely keep up our show of dignity. Miss Boyd performed the chilling
process, and she acted the part so well that the poor man was frozen on
to me, as the only one to whom he could talk sensibly. I talked lots to
him when we were alone. The opinions, the very decided opinions, he got
from me, on Mr. Stanton and his clerks, if repeated to his employers,
would have made things more interesting for him and me too.

When I became satisfied, or thought I was, and imagined that I had for
my room-mate or companion a Pinkerton man, who had been purposely sent
in there by some of the War Department officials to manufacture
testimony against us, we all took the greatest delight in filling him

The first night, when alone, I talked him to sleep. I told him all my
grievances; at least, that part that I wanted the War Office to hear

I was careful to only tell one story correctly, and that was the exact
character and object of the Englishman's business in this country. I saw
that my listener was interested in it from his actions and questionings,
so that I gave him the full details, for a purpose. I knew, or suspected
very strongly, that he would make a report of it to the Secretary, and
I, as a victim of the Pinkerton clique, was willing that they, as
detectives, should have the credit from the Secretary of unearthing that

My desire was to defeat the Englishman's purpose, and to benefit this
Government, whose officials were persecuting me when I knew that I was
entitled to a reward.

We made him sick; at least, the following day he complained of feeling
unwell, and, under this pretense, he was allowed to go, ostensibly to
the hospital, which was located in another part of the building.

His name was Horton or Norton, I have forgotten which. I learned, in a
couple weeks following, that he was the detective we had suspected him
of being. When I mentioned to my brother, that I had seen him before,
he told me that I had probably met him in Eckert's telegraph room, at
the War Office, where he had been specially employed.


When relieved of our unwelcome guest, we set about with renewed energy
to put into operation the plan we had now about matured for my escape.

Miss Belle Boyd entered into the preparations for this scheme as
school-girls plan their tableaux.

Her quick manner, or apt way of being able to change the subject of
conversation, in case of occasional interruption was, to me, a source of
great astonishment coupled with admiration.

One evening, by way of experiment, I was, with the assistance of Belle
Boyd and the Englishman, completely rigged out in the colored boy's
clothes. Corks had been gathered up and scientifically toasted, or
burnt, over the lamp flame by our Englishman, who handled the business
so familiarly that I am constrained now to think he was a disguised
showman instead of a scion of a noble family.

I was dressed in the rags we had collected for the purpose, Belle
managing this part of the job with as much glee and interest as if
dressing a bride for a wedding. She would stick a pin in here, or tuck
up a rag at another place, look at me critically, order me to turn
around or walk off, as if I were trying on a new dress. The Englishman
rubbed my face, and, after the manner of an artist, cocked his eye to
get a better view of the effect of the last touch of shade, and then
both would nearly explode with suppressed laughter at my ridiculous

I was instructed in the best way to show all my teeth at once, duly
cautioned not to speak unless I was obliged to, and drilled in the
broadest negro dialect, to which I was somewhat accustomed through my
long residence in the South.

When all was satisfactory, after dark, the curtain was rang up and I was
ushered out into the hundreds of assembled prisoners to try my disguise,
by mixing promiscuously among them for a while. I entered boldly into
the fun, and, with the feeling that, if detected, it would only be
considered a good joke, as long as I was not attempting to use it as a
means to pass the guard, I, in a happy, careless way, went through my
part in such a satisfactory manner that even Miss Boyd and the
Englishman, who were intently watching the play, involuntarily applauded
me every time I happened to do a piece of silly business that tickled

As an amateur actor, my debut on that sort of a dangerous stage was
satisfactory to the two patrons who were managing the "bringing me out."

I stepped up to Miss Boyd, who had been standing on the balcony watching
the play, bowed low, and, in as broad a dialect as I could muster,
requested her order for breakfast. She, in her quick way, had a smart

"Sam, you ugly, good-for-nothing nigger, tell your master to use a
scrubbing brush on you before you come to me again."

This, with some other unkind observation, which Miss Boyd addressed to
the Englishman, as to the "villainous expression of that nigger's face,"
served to wind up the fun for me, when, at the first opportunity, I got
behind my door and very quickly changed my color and clothes.

As an experiment, it was a complete success; so satisfactory that we
agreed that there would be no trouble in my being able to pass the
guards in this disguise, provided I could keep a stiff upper lip, and
not become so nervous as to excite any suspicion. I was willing to risk
that part of it. A day was set, which was to be Saturday evening of that
week, only two days distant, for me to make the attempt.

I had minute directions from Belle Boyd as to the location of her Rebel
friends--in Maryland and in Washington--who would furnish me assistance
in getting back to the Rebel lines. Of these I made a careful mental
note, and also procured from the lady some short notes of introduction.

If I had gone into that miserable prison as a Union Spy, with the object
of gathering information from an intimate association with the inmates,
I could not have hoped to be as successful in this direction as I had
been while I was acting as an involuntary Spy.

It so happened, and I take pleasure in recording it, as something almost
supernatural, or in the line of that providence that seemed always to be
with me, and to control my actions at the right time, that at the very
time I was arranging all these details in my room, preparatory to an
escape in the evening, a visitor was in the prison waiting to see me.

As I have so often said, while in the prison I had positively and even
stubbornly declined to ask any consideration at the hands of the
Secretary of War or his whelping advisers. This singular feeling I shall
not attempt to excuse now, simply stating the facts. It was a mistake;
but my whole life seems to have been made up of mistakes. The effect of
it was to estrange from me even my best friends, and my brother who, on
account of the confidential relations he held in the War Telegraph
Office, was afraid to become too openly interested in my case.

Rather to my surprise, I was notified on this Saturday afternoon by one
of the regular prison attendants that I was wanted in Colonel Woods'
office. Of course I suspected at once that our little game had been
found out, and that I was to be called upon for an explanation. This
subject of escaping had been in my mind so much lately that I could not
for the time think that anything else was probable. As if further to
confirm my suspicions, the attendant who brought the summons to me said,
in his polite but positive way, "I am ordered to stay with you, and you
are to take anything you have along, as there is to be some change made
in your case."

I had not brought anything with me to the prison in the way of baggage,
and had really less to take away, excepting the greybacks, which we had
always with us. My only baggage was my light wearing apparel, with the
Bible which Mrs. Wells had given to me.

The purpose in thus suddenly summoning prisoners to headquarters was to
prevent their relieving themselves of anything incendiary which a search
of the person might have disclosed.

My request to be permitted to see Miss Boyd was politely refused by the
attendant, who explained his refusal by saying, his orders were to take
me at once to the office and to prevent any communication. I saw that it
was no use to reason or argue with that New Hampshire Yankee--he had his
orders and was going to obey them to the letter--so, gathering up my
coat, slipping it on nervously, and, donning my hat, I was at his side,
and in a few minutes more was inside Colonel Woods' office.

To my astonishment, I saw my brother and some stranger seated in the
office chatting cheerfully with Colonel Woods. The greeting of Spencer
on this occasion was so entirely different from the first visit, when he
had involuntarily broken down on seeing me, that I was further surprised
by his clapping me on the back, in his old-time brotherly way, and
saying, "Well, boy, we are going to take you away from here."

I don't know what I said or did; probably the first feeling was one of
disappointment that I was to be deprived of the fun of escaping; but,
quickly realizing the fact that I had almost overlooked that there was a
world outside, I joined pleasantly in the greetings until it was
explained that there were some little preliminaries to be arranged, in
the way of signing some papers.

When my brother's friend spoke up in explaining this, and observed that
the Secretary was "disposed to be lenient in my case," a feeling of
resentment came over me, which might have broken out in some expression,
if my brother had not whispered: "Father wants you to go home, and says
Covode will arrange everything right there."

The mention of my father, and a request from him has, under all
conditions and circumstances of my checkered life, been respected, and,
if possible, complied with. It has been my observation, too, that I have
never made a mistake while acting under his advice, and, also, that I
have always found it disastrous to disregard his injunctions. In this
case my father's simple request had more effect than the Secretary's

An examination of the little papers that the messenger from Mr. Stanton
presented to be in duplicate, showed at a glance that it was simply a
parole of honor, without any conditions or penalties, by which I agreed
_not to go south of a certain point_, until _authorized or released from
the parole_.

Knowing that I could secure the necessary release through my friends,
and, after a word of kind advice by Colonel Woods, I attached my name to
the paper in duplicate, took one with me, and walked out of the door a
free man, with my gratified brother, while the other copy was taken to
the War Department, and is _on record there to-day_, as a proof that I
was in the Old Capitol Prison during this time, as stated.



I was fired out of Old Capitol Prison as suddenly and unexpectedly to
myself as I had been run into the old trap.

When I said something to the officials about my own expenses, the
Colonel handed me a copy of the parole, saying in a jocular manner:
"There is your receipt in full; that paper clears you. Get out, now, and
don't come back here again."

I went out with my brother and his companion, first to a "haberdashery,"
kept by a sutler Jew on the avenue. He was one of the fellows whom I, as
a railroad official at Fredericksburg, had granted some special favors
in the way of getting his goods into the army, through the Provost

At the time, the fellow was all smiles, or rather grins, because in the
position I then occupied, I had been able to secure him special
facilities to carry on his profitable army trading business. I thought,
of course, from the gushing way he had talked to me then, that he would
be my everlasting friend, as he had so freely expressed his gratitude to
me and desired to make me presents. Naturally I looked him up the first
thing when I discovered that my neat wardrobe had become sadly in need
of replenishing during the month. I wanted some clean, fresh clothing,
"cheap for cash." We found the fellow easily enough; but, dear me!
circumstances had altered cases with him. When I made known my errand,
and asked an outfit on small payment, the broad open-mouthed grin of the
ugly fellow closed up tight as an oyster, and his face became solemn as
a patriarch as he began the lamentation of Jacob over his losses by the
evacuation of Fredericksburg.

Through my brother Spencer's assistance, I was soon supplied with an
entirely new and fresh outfit from the skin out. At first my demands for
a complete rig rather struck my brother as being a little extravagant,
but when I had explained that one of the tortures Mr. Stanton inflicted
upon his victims at the Old Capitol was the persistent bugs that the
building was infested with, he let go my arm as suddenly as if he had
experienced an electric shock, sidled off from me, and, without another
word of argument, fully agreed with me that the only and first thing to
do was to get rid of everything--clothes and all, from hat to socks.
Carrying my bundle to a barber shop, I had my hair cut, took a bath,
donned my new suit, and generously donated my old clothes to the colored

Disguised in a new suit of clothes, I walked the streets of Washington
an hour after having left the prison. The first place I desired to visit
was the War Department. I felt that I had some urgent business with some
of the officials up there, that I was anxious to relieve my mind of at

My brother and his companion objected. This mutual friend called my
attention to the parole, which I had carelessly left in my old clothes
in the barber shop. I was gently reminded that I had agreed to go north
of a certain point at once, and was not to return south of that line
until properly authorized to do so by the War Office.

Instead of going to the train that evening, I went to the "Canterbury
Theatre," an institution on Louisiana avenue as well known by old
soldiers who spent a day in Washington as any of the War relics.

While seated in the theater, which was crowded by officers, soldiers,
citizens, adventurers, sutlers, clerks, politicians, army contractors,
etc., I was immensely amused when a pair of country officers, dressed up
in full uniform, each wearing belt, sash and saber, strutted down the
crowded aisle, their accoutrements of war rattling at every step, making
so great a noise that it disturbed Johnny Hart, a negro comedian then on
the stage, who abruptly stopped his performance, stepped up to the
footlights, and addressed the noisy incomers: "Say, why in hell didn't
you bring your horses too?"

This brought the house down, and had the effect of silencing that part
of the audience that brought their camp and garrison equipage to the

It was not so much of a joke, however, when a little later on an army
officer led a Corporal's Guard, armed with loaded muskets and bayonets
stuck into their guns, down the aisle, and at a lull in the performance,
came to an "order arms," while this shrewd officer of the Washington
Provost Guard demanded the passes of every one in the audience who wore
a uniform. I felt quite uneasy when they actually arrested and took out
of the same bench on which I sat two commissioned officers who could not
show passes.

Fortunately I was not disturbed, but I lost all interest in the show,
and soon retired to quarters where the Provost Guard couldn't find me.

The only thing I could hear from Covode in relation to our own
embarrassing affairs was: "Oh, that's all right; just tell him that it
will be all right."

It was true, though not much of a consolation for me, to be reminded by
some kind friends that I was not alone a sufferer by Mr. Stanton's
arbitrary orders. Even General McClellan had been not only relieved from
command of the army, but had been ordered to proceed to Burlington,
N. J., and there await orders. This I was told meant, in reality, exile
for him in precisely the same manner as for my own humble self, though
the phraseology of the order was a little different from that in my

I went home, where I was affectionately received into my father's house
by my sisters and my aunts--I had no mother then. Probably, if I had not
so early in life been deprived of a mother, I would have been saved, by
her teachings, from many of the hard knocks which I was receiving by way
of bitter experience. My father, always kind and indulgent, seemed to
think that it was our privilege and right to pitch in for ourselves,
that we might learn from experience. He seldom gave his boys any of that
"I told you so" advice, in the threatening manner which renders it so

I had made up my mind, while in the Old Capitol Prison, that when I
should get free again the very first thing I should do would be to
enlist as a private soldier in the Union Army.

I reasoned to myself that my services as a Scout or Spy, while working
as a civilian in the interest of the politicians at Washington, would
not advance my military ambition. In fact, I had learned from some hard
hits already that it was an uphill business to operate in the field as a
civilian. Somehow or other, all the military people were not exactly
distrustful, but there seemed to be at least a prejudice against any
person about the camp who did not wear a uniform. I was willing and
anxious enough to wear a uniform, but my ambition was to be an officer
in the Regular Service, attached to Headquarters Staff.

This, as I have said, was about as difficult to reach as the position of
Brigadier-General in the Volunteers, because they were making
Brigadier-Generals every day, and they were not making Second
Lieutenants in the Regular Army.

I explained my plans to my father and a few friends. My father
interposed some objections to my selection of the Regular Army,
preferring that I should identify myself with some regiment from our own
State, and especially from our own neighborhood.

I preferred the Regular Cavalry first, because I intended fitting
myself, by the experience I should gain in the ranks under the severe
discipline and drill, for a Second Lieutenancy in that branch. My father
thought that I would not be able to stand the restraints the discipline
would impose upon me; but, as usual, I had my own way, overcoming their
preference for the State troops, by the reminder that the treatment I
had received from the Secretary of War would serve as a club in the
hands of malcontents and growlers, who are to be found in every
regiment, kicking against new-comers' advancement.

Another difficulty was raised by the receipt of a letter from my
brother, at Washington, which reminded my father that I was not allowed
to remain at my home, because it was located south of the line of my
stipulated parole.

The War Department detectives had tracked me even into my own home,
through the connivance of some contemptible neighbors, who are
descendants of the Revolutionary Hessians, and like the craven dogs they
were, they helped to hound me away from my father's home. To relieve my
father and friends of any embarrassment, I left the house, after bidding
them another "Good-by," one evening, arriving in Pittsburgh before
midnight of the same day. The first thing the next morning I hunted up
the recruiting office, astonished the officers by offering myself, and
without any preliminaries enlisted into Company B, Second United States
Cavalry, Captain T. F. Rodenbaugh.

When I applied for enlistment I never once thought of the bounty money I
would become entitled to, therefore my entry into the army in the fall
of 1862 was in no sense mercenary. I had served a year previously as a
civilian and knew what was in store for me in the ranks.

I was not even "in the draft," as my parole would have relieved me from
every obligation, if I had chosen so to use it. I volunteered from
motives of duty and patriotism in 1862, at a time when recruiting was
not so brisk as it had been; in fact, at a time when everything looked
dark enough for our side.

Instead of availing myself of the parole that cleared me from
obligation, I, in the darkest days of the war voluntarily enlisted as a
private soldier. I felt in my heart that, in thus putting my life in
pawn for the cause I had from the first consistently championed, that I
would forever put beyond discussion the question of the sincerity of my
motives, and I became credited to Alleghany County, Pennsylvania, so
that, after all, I was a "regular volunteer" from my own State and

Through the thoughtfulness of Captain Rodenbaugh, I was paid some bounty
money, which I expended in the purchase of mementoes for my friends,
believing that I should never again come home to them.

In the matter of my get-up as a soldier, Captain Rodenbaugh was quite
useful to me, and became quite pleasantly interested, taking the trouble
to accompany me to the tailor shop, where he gave the necessary
directions as to the regulation pattern.

I was to act as his private secretary or company clerk, and I suspect
that he also intended to use my good clothes as a sort of a dressed-up
dummy, to stand around the office with white gloves on, as a decoy to
entice recruits to his roll, pretty much as we see the "walking sign"
now a days at recruiting offices.

In the Second Cavalry, the facings, instead of being the ordinary
"yaller" of the cavalry, were of an orange color, to distinguish them as
the "Dragoons," as they were listed previous to the reorganization of
that service just before the war.

I was made a Corporal by the Captain, and had the stripes in a
beautiful orange on my arms. The cap was the regulation little fatigue
or McClellan style, with the crossed sabers, and the insignia of company
and regiment in brass letter--B 2.

At my earnest solicitation, Captain Rodenbaugh sent me away with the
first detachment of recruits to Cavalry Headquarters, then Carlisle
Barracks, Pennsylvania. Here I had a regular circus every hour of the
day, from reveille till retreat or tattoo. It's only those who have seen
cavalry recruits drilled with regular cavalry horses and old drilled
Sergeants, that can be made to believe the stories that are told of
their accomplishments in this direction.

Carlisle Barracks was in crude form, just what the West Point Riding
School of to-day is. I was anxious to learn to be a good soldier, and I
did learn a good deal--in a mighty short time, too--while I was at
Carlisle. I was taught some things there that I thought I had learned
thoroughly before I went there. For instance, I had been a long time in
Western Texas, and had ridden wild and bucking horses without a saddle,
chased buck-rabbits in a zigzag course over hog-wallow prairies in a
reckless way that made my head dizzy, but it was reserved for my Drill
Sergeant at Carlisle Barracks to show me how simple a matter it was for
a trained cavalry horse to throw off a Texas cow-boy. Those old
Sergeants--and there were a number of them--had the drill horses trained
so thoroughly, and withal so full of tricks, that they beat Buffalo Bill
and any circus horses I've ever seen all to pieces.

It was lots of fun for the Sergeants and a few officers and their wives,
who were always watching our evolutions from their barrack windows, but
it was a little bit rough on some of the boys.

We were given lessons in mounting and dismounting by the hour, till I
became so expert that I was relieved of that part of the drill and
advanced into a squad who had been there some time, and were soon to be
sent off to the front as graduates. We were all obliged to hold the
bridle-rein in one and the same way; that is, in the left hand, turned
up so that we could see the finger-nails. All the steering had to be
done by merely turning or twisting the clenched hand around, keeping it
in the same position. There was no hauling back of the reins permitted,
except by drawing the hand straight up to the chin to check or tighten
the lines; and the forearm must be always directly in front of the
pommel of the saddle.

This part of the riding lesson was all new to me. I had always used my
hands as I pleased, but here we must all hold the infernal wild horses
with one hand turned upside down, and dare not even yank the elbow
around without getting a cuss from the Sergeant. There were always two
or three Sergeants to each drill; one gave the commands from his
position in front, while another old rascal rode behind somewhere to
watch our arms and legs and to do the extra cussing.

Some of the fellows in our squad had been farmer boys, and felt that
they knew all about horses, and were disposed at first to talk horse
with the Sergeants; but one lesson in deportment answered for the whole
term at Carlisle Barracks.

Those old fellows all said they would far rather take a city man who had
never been on a horse than a farmer who had been riding all his life.
The city fellows made good Regular Cavalrymen. We learned to ride with
our knees and to steer with the legs.

At first our little caps would not stay on top of our heads, but we soon
became able to balance them, with the strap dangling under the nose or
chin, instead of being fastened under the chin.

These old war-horses had been at the barracks a long time, and had been
carefully trained to go by the bugle. At the sound "trot," they would
all start off as neatly, with the left foot foremost, as any infantry
squad. When the "gallop" was sounded every old horse would switch his
tail, take the bit in his teeth and go off like a shot over the field,
helter-skelter, as if it were a hurdle race, or the whole Rebel Army
were after them. This part of the show is where the most of the fun came
in. Of course, some of the riders couldn't keep time with the horses,
and their caps and sabers would become troublesome appendages, and were
often cast off; then the old Sergeant, bringing up the rear, would yell
like a Comanche Indian, which none of us could understand, and, as
everybody thought it was necessary we should hear, it had the effect of
rattling the whole squad. One of our first lessons was that never, under
any circumstances, must we speak to our horses; everything must be done
quietly and effectively by bit and spur; but when they got to running us
off by the bugle, some of the farmer boys, when they would be tossed up
too much, involuntarily sang out, "Whoa!" or else, too audible, cursed
the man alongside for jamming their legs. This would bring down such a
torrent of abuse on the head of the offender that we were kept in a
state of terror from the time we were on the horses till we dismounted.

The Sergeant, or perhaps an officer, after getting the squad well under
way, would sound "to the right," and, of course, the horses knew what
the bugle said and obeyed the signal instantly; but most of the riders
didn't, and were, in consequence, involuntarily going straight ahead or
fell off at the unexpected turn of the horse. Then, on the home-stretch,
they would so abruptly sound a "halt," that the horses would stop in two
jumps, while the rider very likely went straight ahead.

I'm telling you the truth about Carlisle Barracks and the Regular
Cavalry. I've been there--several times--and know it all pretty well.
Why, it's a fact, that those old horses would, at the command "right
dress," as soberly turn their one eye down the line and back up a step
or forward as any infantry regiment; and on the wheel the inside horse
always marked time beautifully, while the fellow on the outside had to

I had lots of fun during the couple of weeks that I was at Carlisle
Barracks. Probably because I entered with so much zest and earnestness
into the drill, which was really sport for me. I attracted the attention
(favorably) of the Sergeants and officers, and was so rapidly advanced
that my request to be sent to the front with the first detachment was
approved. In this ambition Captain Rodenbaugh seconded me, as he had
been relieved of recruiting duty, and was ordered to conduct the first
party to the front.

We left one cold day in November, via Harrisburg, traveling all night in
a box-car attached to a freight train. We were delayed all the next day
in Baltimore, putting in the time standing around in the cold, miserable
streets, under guard, awaiting our transportation over the slow
Baltimore & Ohio to Washington. The second night we reached Washington,
and slept on the floor of the barn-like affair they called the Soldiers'
Retreat, then located down by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Depot. A
great many soldiers will remember that shanty.

Early next morning, before any of my comrades were awake, I was up about
daybreak, anxious to get a look at Washington, and especially Old
Capitol Prison, through the glasses of a Union soldier. It was a bitter
cold morning; so early as 5 A. M., when I went to the door of our
barracks, I was astonished to see, wrapped up in his big blue overcoat,
the snow blowing all over him, and standing almost up to his knees in
it, our Captain, C. F. Rodenbaugh.

I did not know then that it was an officer's duty, and one of his
privileges, to stand around all night in the cold, while his men slept
comfortably under shelter. I said something like this to the Captain,
when he courteously answered that he was the officer in charge, and it
was his duty to see that the sentries were on hand. It was an early
lesson; and I will say right here that the Regular officers, though
severe and strict in discipline, I found always ready to expose
themselves before they asked their men to do so. Apparently the Regular
officers held themselves aloof from their men, and though I was almost
intimate with Captain Rodenbaugh, I would not have ventured to address
him, except in the way of duty, and then only after a proper salute,
after we had gotten out in the field. Yet, if I could have met him alone
or unobserved, I should have been as free with him as with my best
friend. This matter of Regular Army etiquette was fully understood as
part of our drill, and the subject never gave us any uneasiness, but in
all probability saved us much trouble. There were no favorites in our
service; every man was treated alike, and as long as every man did his
duty, right up to the scratch, in Regular Army style, he was as
independent as any officer, in his way. I had some queer experiences in
this way, which I will relate further on.

I was in Washington again, and, strange to say, we were camped for the
first night right in sight of the Old Capitol Prison.

Mr. Stanton, the autocrat Secretary of War, failed entirely to suppress
me. With all his arbitrary exercise of authority he could not keep me
away from the front. Locking me up in Old Capitol Prison only detained
me temporarily. If I had not been released I certainly should have
escaped the same day.

The first visit I made in Washington after my return there as a soldier
was to the Capitol.

Armed with a pass, duly approved by the Provost-Guard officers, and
dressed up in my Sunday uniform, I called the member of Congress from my
home District from his seat out into the corridor (Mr. Covode being
absent), where I bluntly and briefly explained that I had been given a
parole not to come South until released, but being satisfied in my own
heart that it was a wrong to me, and injustice had been done through the
envy and malice of some War Department officials, I had, upon the advice
of such men as Covode, decided to enlist in the army, and they had
formally notified the Secretary of my intention of so doing.

I had not officially been advised that "I was forgiven," and desired Mr.
Blair to see the Secretary and arrange the matter for me. He looked at
me with astonishment at first, and then, realizing the absurdity of the
thing, laughed heartily, saying "Why, of course, that's all right; they
would not dare to annoy you any further."

I was, further, most kindly assured that my friends in Congress would
all see me through, in case I had any difficulties on that score.

I left the Capitol, going straight to the War Department, where I
endeavored to get an interview with the Secretary, but, dear me, a
soldier--a common soldier--only a little Corporal in the Dragoon's
uniform--presuming to address the Secretary of War, was something so
unheard of among the old regular attendants about the door that they
were disposed to fire me out of the up-stairs window for my effrontery.
I had found it difficult as a civilian to reach the Secretary of War on
several former occasions, but I learned, to my disgust, that as a
soldier it was entirely impossible.

The lesson in the Regular Army etiquette which I took that day, burned
itself so bitterly and deeply into my heart that I never attempted
afterward to address anything higher than a First Sergeant in the
Regular Army, except through the regular channels.

On account of an accident that happened me at Carlisle, I was permitted
by Captain Rodenbaugh to sleep in a boarding-house during the first days
after our arrival at Washington City, or until horses were issued to us.
At Carlisle there was an old horse widely known among all the Regular
cavalrymen who have been there as "Squeezer." At stable-call, I had
noticed the men in the squad to which I had been advanced, all showed a
singular alacrity in rushing to the task of cleaning their horses as
soon as we broke ranks for this purpose. I learned by an experience that
came near being serious, that this was caused not so much by anxiety of
the troopers to clean horses, as to avoid a certain stall which Squeezer


Squeezer was a good-enough horse outside of his stall, or away from a
fence-post or the side of a house. The trouble with him was, that he
would invariably catch the man detailed to curry him against the side of
the stall, and the vicious beast would deliberately put the weight of
his whole body against the man so caught, to try and crush his bones.
The only satisfaction the old horse seemed to get out of the dirty trick
was, in listening to the cries of pain the poor fellow so caught was
obliged to give vent to.

The Sergeants in charge of the stables were up to Squeezer's tricks so
well that they always carried a sharp-pointed saber-blade to the stable,
which was the only thing, well struck in, that would make the old rascal
let go his hold of a victim.

It was the custom to let the recruit get caught by this horse trick, and
I, as the latest in our squad, suffered the penalty. Squeezer put his
haunches up against my breast and forced me up against the board stall
until the bones began to crack, when the Sergeant kindly gave him the
steel, and he let go of me, but began to kick viciously at the Sergeant.
I was hurt badly, and suffered severely from it for some days. I learned
afterward that every man in our squad carried a saddler's awl as part of
the outfit, and when Squeezer became too affectionate with the man to
whose lot it fell to tackle him, he kept the awl in one hand and the
brush in the other, and used them alternately.

It was one of the games of the men to lay for a chance to catch the old
Sergeant near his heels, when they would give Squeezer an inch of the
awl, and the heels would reach for the Sergeant in a style that took all
the military dignity out of him.

For a few days our detachment was encamped in the roughest kind of
barracks, located on Capitol Hill, near Old Capitol. We drew our rations
of soft bread, but our meat was the regulation pickled pork, fished out
of the original barrels on the spot. I recall now, with a good deal of
surprise to myself, the truth that there ever was a time in Washington
when I had to take my slice of raw pork on a slice of bread, standing in
two inches of snow, warming up with a quart of black coffee drank from a
tin cup.

I am at the present writing a resident of this same Capitol Hill, within
gunshot of the Old Capitol Prison and this former camp-ground. We would
consider it a great hardship to be deprived of any of the comforts and
pleasures to be extracted from a residence in this beautiful city.

How few of those who now enjoy the blessings of this great Government
ever think that all of these pleasures were made possible for the
children by the willing sacrifices and hardships of their parents in

After many unsatisfactory days spent about the old barracks on the Hill,
we were at length ordered into camp near Fort Albany, Virginia. This
fort was located on the high ground just beyond the Long Bridge, close
by Fort Corcoran, or between the Long Bridge and Arlington.

I was at heart greatly rejoiced to find myself once more in old
Virginia, even if it were only over the Long Bridge and the Potomac
River. Though yet in sight, I was out of Washington, and safely beyond
the reach of the meddlesome War Department detectives, who had become so
numerous and about as thoroughly despised as were the army insect pests.
It does not speak so well for the shrewdness or effectiveness of Mr.
Pinkerton's corps, that I am able to record the truthful fact that they
had not, with all their vaunted facilities of telegraph and military and
civil police connections, been able to locate me, or discover that I,
who had been represented to the Secretary of War as a dangerous man, was
freely circulating all over Washington City.

Had I been so disposed, it would have been a simple matter to have
concocted much mischief, with the aid of information I had obtained in
the Old Capitol of Rebel sympathizers who were living in the city. Miss
Boyd had given me the names and addresses of pretty nearly everybody she
had known as a friend of the South; but I made no use of this myself,
except to give the information in writing to Covode's committee.

At our camp, near Fort Albany, we were quartered in the regulation
Sibley tent, which all old soldiers will recognize without further
description. As the company clerk, or private secretary of our Captain,
I was pleasantly provided for in the First Sergeant's tent. There were
but the two of us in the big concern, because we had to make room for
the desks or writing-table and other storage for the company papers.

It is a little curious that I was selected to do precisely this same
duty by the Rebels in their capital.

Through the good management of the Captain and the First Sergeant, who
were, of course, my friends, and looked after my interests in the
company while I was busy on the papers, I was supplied with a real
beauty of a horse. He was one of the black Morgan type, a little small,
but oh, my! I suspect that the Captain became personally solicitous
about my being handsomely mounted, as I found myself detailed to act as
an Orderly to himself and the other officers almost every time they rode
into the city.

My little nag was what may be termed frisky and spirited. I am talking
all this horse now, because in the days and weeks and months that
immediately followed "Frisky" took an important part in all the
adventures that I had. From this time forth most of my experiences were
somewhat of a dashing character, dressed, as I was, in a neat uniform,
and well mounted on a horse. One little trick of Frisky's will serve to
illustrate better than I could describe in many words the nature of the

The stable, in the field, you know, was simply a parallelogram composed
of ropes tied to posts driven in the ground. Inside of this the horses
were tied to the ropes. At every stable-call I usually went out to
attend to my own horse, so as to get a chance to ride bareback to water.
At a certain signal, all hands mounted their horses, and at the command
all filed out of the ropes, under the leader, toward the water. Frisky,
being well to the rear of the column the first time I got on him,
astonished me and surprised the officer in command by suddenly jumping
at a clear leap over the top of the rope and running off toward the head
of the line. So that, at every water-call, it got to be a regular show
for the officers to come around to Frisky's side of the corral to see
him jump over the rope instead of marching around in the rear of the

I was at least as good a horseman as any of the rest of our batch of
recruits, and probably my experience in Texas, supplemented by the
lessons at Carlisle, had made me quite proficient in the regulation
style of marching my horse.

We frequently rode over to Washington to spend an evening. I had lots of
fun, but no adventures that I care to put in print. Nearly every Sunday
a couple of us would get permission and passes and ride up to what was
then called the Arlington House, and thence through the lines of heavy
artillery sentries about the fortifications, over the Aqueduct Bridge,
to Georgetown and Washington.

At last we were ordered to the front. I do not now remember the exact
date, but it was sometime in December.

This is engrafted on my memory by the fact that the "front"--as the
history of the war shows--was then at or near Fredericksburg, the same
grand old historic town, so dear to my memory, from which I have been
escorted a prisoner to the Old Capitol only a couple of months before.

But I was going back--so the fates had decreed, in spite of Stanton--to
this very same place; not exactly the same place, as the Rebel Army
occupied the town most of the time; but we were going to get as close as
we could to it, and be neighborly, without getting into a fight.

Another circumstance which impresses this date upon my mind is, that I
spent my Christmas of 1862 on the Rappahannock with the boys of the old
Army of the Potomac.

I was as happy as a boy with a new pair of boots when the orders came
for us to draw five days' rations and get ready to move. As company
clerk, being in the ring, as it were, with the First Sergeant, I was
privately advised that we were to go to the front, so that I got all the
papers in my possession in shape, and had everything so packed away
before the Sergeant was ready that I had to open up the box for him

I supposed, as a matter of course, we would ride our horses right
through Fairfax to Fredericksburg, going the route leading somewhere
near the old trail I had footed so faithfully while I was in the Rebel

I had not told anybody in our company--not even my good friend Captain
Rodenbaugh--of my previous experiences in Virginia.

It will be readily understood that I was not anxious to disclose these
things, which had given me so much trouble; in fact, I desired above all
things to conceal them.

When I heard of the proposed movement, I went to the Captain personally,
and took occasion to tell him that I knew something of the road to
Fredericksburg, and felt competent to act as guide for the regiment, and
offered my services in that direction.

The Captain looked at me for a moment, then, with a significant smile,
he took my breath away by observing, pleasantly:

"Well, yes, Corporal, I understand you have had some experience down
here that would seem to make you familiar with the roads; but it has
been ordered that we march down through Maryland on the other side of
the Potomac."

Though the Captain's manner was so agreeable and assuring, I was so
astonished by the revelation that he, of all others, had learned of my
private history, that I was for the moment so taken down I could hardly
look him in the face. I felt as though I had been deceiving my best
friend, and he had caught me in the act, as it were. When I ventured to
offer some explanation, the Captain, in his courteous way, said: "Why,
my dear boy, that's all right; we all--that is, the officers--have heard
of your services, and, as a consequence, you have in advance plenty of
friends in the regiment."

I was gratified to hear this from him, and asked no further questions as
to his source of information, but ever after that I was further
convinced not only of the Captain's kindly feeling toward me, but of the
other officers as well, by the fact that, on almost every important
occasion, I was honored by being selected for special Orderly duty with
the officers.

We marched or rode our squadron out of Fort Albany camp one cold, damp
December morning, crossed the Long Bridge, passed through the lower part
of the city, up over Capitol Hill, where I got a farewell glimpse of Old
Capitol Prison from under my fatigue cap, seated on a horse, going to
the front.

We crossed the old bridge, beyond the Navy Yard, over the Eastern
Branch, went up over the hill, and were soon out of sight of
Washington, traveling all day over the same route that Wilkes Booth took
in his flight to Virginia the night of the assassination.

The next morning we reached the river at some point, and put in all that
day in getting our horses and baggage ferried across about four miles of

The next night we slept on the sacred soil at or near Aquia Creek, in
Virginia--precisely the same point from which I had embarked as a
first-class passenger in charge of an officer _en route_ to Old Capitol

The following day we marched over a long, wind-about road to cover the
fourteen miles from the Potomac to the Rappahannock. How shall I write
it, but that evening at sundown, as soon as I could beg the privilege, I
rode my horse down to the Lacey House, which, as all old soldiers know,
is located on the banks of the Rappahannock directly opposite
Fredericksburg. The Rappahannock river only was between me and Geno;
but, oh! my heart ached when I realized what a great gulf it was; and
that was as near as I could get to Fredericksburg. Though at this point
it is but a narrow stream--so narrow indeed that a conversation in an
ordinary tone of voice could be carried on over it--I could not, except
under the penalty of being at once shot to death by our own or the rebel
forces, make even the slightest attempt at signaling to the other shore.
The Rebel Army occupied that side.

I could see walking about the streets some few persons in citizen's
clothes, but all along the river, and at the foot of the street leading
to the river, were armed men in gray uniforms. They had possession of
the town that held all that was dear to me just then--little Geno Wells.

I lingered until the early twilight of that December evening began to
drop down like a curtain; then with a heavy heart I rode slowly back to
our own camp, determined in my own mind and heart that I should get into
that town somehow, in spite of our own and the Rebel Army.

In my hurry to go down to the river, I had not taken sufficient care to
get the bearings of our newly-located camp, and on my return at dark I
experienced considerable difficulty in finding my way home. In my
bewilderment, I ran afoul of so many camps and extra sentries that I was
detained until quite late.

Our regiment was acting as Provost-Guard at Gen. Burnside's
headquarters, and, as almost everybody knew where headquarters were to
be found, I finally got on the right track.

It was fortunate for me, personally, that we were at headquarters, as I
was enabled to at once make acquaintances that became useful to me.

With what exalted feelings I should have rushed over one of those
pontoon bridges and charged up the streets to Geno's house, if I had
been there at the right time, may be imagined. The anxiety and eagerness
with which she must have looked for me among the first of the invaders I
must leave to the imagination or fancy of the romantically-disposed
young lady readers who may be following this narrative.

Captain Wells' house being located close by the river bank, near the
point at which one of the pontoons was laid down, I have no doubt that
its roof sheltered some of Barksdale's Sharpshooters, who so forcibly
resisted this work of the Engineer battalion.

When we joined Burnside, we found that our regiment, the Second Regular
Cavalry, was acting as Provost-Guard, one company doing duty as a
headquarters or body-guard.

This took me personally right into the big family at the Army of the
Potomac headquarters. I was delighted at this prospect. I realized that
I should henceforth be privileged to enjoy riding a good horse in the
cavalcade that always dashed along in the wake of headquarters. In
addition to this, I should personally have the opportunity to rub
against the headquarters men, which would also give me the facilities
for knowing pretty nearly what was going on in advance of the other
boys. There were other agreeable advantages in being at headquarters, as
any old soldier who is not cranky with envy will readily admit.

One of these, which I appreciated very much indeed, was that, after I
became a fancy Orderly, and stood around with clean clothes on, and wore
white gloves, I enjoyed also the very best of rations.

I became familiar with the Surgeon's Hospital Steward, who happened to
be from my native city, so we messed together. It therefore became one
of the privileges at headquarters, especially with the Hospital Steward,
to draw rations from the hospital stores, which was an immense thing
while at the front. I don't mean the sick rations of rice, soup, etc.,
but the good, nourishing things that are always reserved for the poor
sick fellows. We got plenty of tea and rice, to be sure--so much,
indeed, that I have soured on it ever since, and never take tea except
when I am so sick that I can't bear the smell of coffee. As for rice, I
am fond of it. As the Colonel said, "I like rice very much indeed, if it
is properly cooked--that is, about a quart of cream and milk, a pound of
butter, and some eggs and sugar and nutmeg and all the other things,
nicely stirred up and baked--and, oh, yes, I forgot--about a half
teaspoonful of rice may be added."

The Steward's name was Fulton--Johnny Fulton--formerly of Fahnestock's
great drug house in Pittsburgh.

It became the duty of the Surgeons to inspect the boxes before they
would admit their contents into the hospitals, because, you know, they
often contained articles of food prepared and sent by kind friends at
home that might have been as fatal to the sick soldiers, if they had
been allowed to eat them, as would have been the Rebel bullets. For
instance, all sweet cakes, raisins, nuts, apples and other fruits were
sure death for those troubled with the great army epidemic--dysentery.
Pickles, as well as the innumerable sorts of canned stuffs, became
confiscated, as too dangerous to let pass, so that we had to eat them up
in self-defense.

There was scarcely ever a box opened that did not contain a bottle of
something contraband--some old whisky. These the Surgeons usually took
care of.

I know that some of the boys even now will be ready to swear at the
headquarters' "dog-robber." I've been called that so often, and become
so accustomed to it, and "loblolly boy," that it had no effect. We went
straight along, having as good a time as we could, wore the best clothes
and rode fast horses, and when we were not doing anything else on
Sundays, we would be out somewhere horse-racing.

There were, of course, some disagreeable things about headquarters too,
and we of the Regulars had a standing fight with a lot of fancy boys who
came down from Philadelphia that year. They were Rush's Lancers. As some
of the Western soldiers have never seen this sort of a soldier, I shall
describe him as a Zoo-zoo on a horse--that is, he wore a fancy Zouave
uniform of many colors, and carried a pole about fifteen or twenty feet
long in a socket in his stirrup. On the end of the pole was a sharp
spear or lance, and a few inches from the end of the lance a little red
silk flag fluttered. They were an awfully nice-looking set of fellows on
parade. A thousand of them made about as dashing a show as can be
imagined when galloping along in line or column.

It was expected that these long poles, with the sharp spears on the
ends, would be just the thing to charge on an enemy.

I have often heard the owners explain just how they were going to do it
when they should get a chance at the enemy. The custom or style had been
imported from Europe, but somehow it didn't take well in the Army of the
Potomac. The boys called them "turkey-drivers," probably because of the
red patch on the end of the pole.

For a time they were at headquarters as a brilliant, fancy-looking
attachment to the Staff; but every time we would go out with the
"turkey-drivers" the "doboys," or infantry, would yell and gobble at
them in such a ridiculous way that they had to be suppressed. I have
heard as many as 10,000 men in the camps in the woods gobble at the
"turkey-drivers," as if it were droves of wild turkeys, every time the
lancers would ride along.

We of the Regular Cavalry at headquarters were, of course, pleased to
witness the frequent discomfiture of the "turkey-drivers," probably
because we were a little bit jealous of them, and feared, that their
bright, dashing appearance might give them a preference over us as the
headquarters' favorites.

Pretty soon they, like the Zouaves, changed their uniform to the old
blue blouse, and threw away their long sticks for the noisy saber.

Although we had some fun among ourselves at headquarters, yet about that
time--Christmas and January, 1862-63--were the dark days of the war.
Seemingly, everything had gone wrong with the Army of the Potomac.
Burnside had left some of the best blood of the long-suffering old army
on the frozen ground over the river; the hospitals were filled with the
sick and wounded, who could not safely be transported North; and, to my
intense disgust, it seemed to me that I never rode out to any place, or
made a visit to my friends in other regiments, that I did not run into
some of those professional embalmers or packers, who would be engaged at
one of their ugly jobs. The weather was cold, and these men went about
their work as indifferently as we often see the dead beef and hogs
handled in market!

One of the saddest duties to which we at headquarters were subjected, at
times, was the piloting of visitors, who came down from Washington with
passes and reported first at headquarters, to the regimental or brigade
hospitals, in which their wounded or sick were to be found. Generally
the visitor would be an old father, perhaps a farmer, sent by the mother
to take home a sick or may be a dead son.



We were encamped on the side of the hill on the top of which was the
large mansion house then occupied by Burnside and Staff. My memory is
not reliable as to names, but I think it was called the Phillips House;
anyway, it was a fine, large house, with all the usual surroundings of a
Virginia mansion of the days. There were negro quarters, smoke-house,
ice-house, stables, etc. These were filled up with the innumerable crowd
that are always about headquarters. Our command was in camp in Sibley
tents on the hill-side or in the orchard, almost within call of the
house. It was my daily habit, when not otherwise engaged (and I had the
liberty of the camp), to loaf around the porch of this house. Some way
there seemed to be a strange fascination in the general officer's
appearance, and I took great delight in watching his every movement and
in listening to the talk of the big officers on the Staff.

There was always something going on at headquarters. Either General
Franklin, or the old, almost feeble-looking, but grand E. V. Sumner, or
Couch, would be there as visitors, and before they would leave probably
other corps commanders in the uniform of Major-Generals, with swords,
and followed by their Staffs, would dash up to the fence, dismount, and
strut in, with swords rattling on the frozen ground and reverberating in
the big hallway.

I saw Burnside every day, and several times a day. Whatever may be the
judgment as to his generalship, there can be but one opinion as to his
handsome appearance and his courteous manner. I became a personal
Orderly to the General, and bear my cheerful testimony that he was
always courteous and kind, and most tenderhearted and thoughtful of the
welfare of the boys in the ranks.

It was my privilege to have seen him frequently when alone during the
dark, dreary days that followed his terrible disaster. I have often
since thought that his mind became affected by his great trouble. He
would do some of the queerest things; as, for instance, one evening he
came out into the back part of the house, where I happened to be at the
time, in company with a chum, there being no one else near. He, in his
bare head, coolly walked up to us. We, of course, jumped to our feet,
saluted and properly stood at attention, expecting that he would pass
on, but, instead, he stopped, and, with a peculiar little laugh, said,
in words that I do not now recollect, but, in effect, it was: "Tell them
it's all right." Then, as if suddenly recovering consciousness, probably
at our stupidity in staring at him, he turned abruptly away, saying,
hurriedly: "Never mind, never mind."

My companion, being older and more experienced than I, probably felt it
his duty to whisper to me, as he touched my arm: "Come; don't stare so.
Don't you see the 'old man' is full?"

I believed at the time, and for a long time after, that my companion was
right, but, in the light of subsequent events, and coupled with some
other singular things that it was my privilege to witness in the few
days that followed, I am reluctantly inclined to believe that General
Burnside was crazed by his defeat, and that he had not recovered the
possession of his faculties when he planned the "Mud Campaign."

But, to better explain my reasons for entertaining this view, I will
explain that, a day or two after this singular occurrence, when I found
an opportunity to see the General alone, I took occasion to boldly make
a proposition to him. As I put the matter in writing at the time, at his
request (for my own good, as he in such a kindly way suggested), it is
probable that the paper may be among the records.

I wanted to go over the river very, very much--that goes without saying.
As I knew Geno was in the house, the roof and one corner of which I
could see, I made almost a daily pilgrimage to the Lacey House, and sat
there on my horse by the hour, hoping and praying that it might be that
she or some of the family would recognize me.

When I made bold to personally address General Burnside, I am afraid
that I began in a rather nervous voice and manner to unfold my plan of
going into General Lee's lines again. At first he looked at me a little
incredulously, then, as he recognized me as being one of the telegraph
and signal men about his headquarters, he said: "Why, my dear boy, I
couldn't send you on such an errand as that."

But I persisted, and, to assure him further, I told him I had been there
before, and wasn't afraid to go again.

"You surprise me," said the General, genially. "Come into my room and
I'll talk it over a little."

I followed him into his room, where we found at least half a dozen
officers already gathered; indeed, there was always a crowd of them
around headquarters. While General Burnside greeted them cordially, I
stood at attention, at a respectful distance, in one corner of the room,
where I was wholly unobserved.

While waiting for the General to clear up the business with his
callers--which, by the way, seemed to me a long, long while--I heard,
among others, one little story that I do not think has ever been

Some officers were quietly discussing the recent battle; indeed, this
was a subject that would not down. It seemed as if the ghosts of the
thousands of dead soldiers who were slaughtered before Marye's Heights
and at the pontoons were haunting the memories of our Generals.

And, by the way, the boys who died doing their thankless duty at the
pontoons are almost forgotten, though they are almost as numerous as
those who charged up the heights. Well, one of the officers whom I heard
talking on the subject that day was, to my mind then, quite an
ordinary-looking man. He was a little bit stoop-shouldered; at least,
his careless, loose dress gave him that appearance, while with his muddy
boots and spectacles and generally unsoldierly bearing, he gave me the
impression that he was a Brigade Surgeon. Another of the officers,
speaking of the failure of the army, made some remark about the left not
doing its share. At this the Surgeon jerked up his head and his eyes
showed fire through his spectacles, as he said: "I want you to
understand that my division on the left broke Jackson's line in our
charge, and, if we had been sustained, the result would have been

There was a good deal more of this sort of talk, pro and con, to which I
paid no attention at the time, because it seemed as if everybody that I
heard speak was explaining something or finding fault with another, and
it, of course, became tiresome. There was lots of this sort of thing
around headquarters which we on the outside overheard.

One little circumstance indelibly impressed this one man's talk on my
mind at the time. Holding up his battered, old, slouched hat, and
sticking his bony finger through a bullet-hole, in the crown, he said,
in a reply to a suggestion that "there was no enemy in front of him, as
there was at Marye's Heights"--"I found it hot enough in my front."

After he left I asked who the doctor was. The man on duty at the door
looked at me with disgust as he said: "That's no damned doctor, man;
don't you know General Meade?"

That was my introduction to the future commander of the army. And I put
it on paper here now, that Meade's Division, of the old Sixth Corps,
made a charge, at Fredericksburg, on Jackson's 30,000 men (the best
position of the Rebels, because higher and more precipitous than Marye's
Heights) that equaled that of Pickett at Gettysburg, yet we never hear
the survivors blow of it.

I had a much longer wait for my opportunity to talk with General
Burnside alone on this business than the reader has in reading this

I might tell some secrets that I overheard that day, while lying about
headquarters. My ears were always as wide open as the proverbial little
pitcher's, and, besides, I had been in training so much under similar
circumstances in the Rebel country that I could scarcely help picking up
everything that dropped in my hearing or sight.

However, at last they were all gone, excepting the Adjutant-General and
his clerk; these two were busily engaged with some papers, seated at a
long dining-room table that had been drawn out for a desk. After General
Burnside gave some directions about his correspondence to the War
Department, he turned to me and, taking a chair in each hand, asked me
to sit down, and in as courteous a manner as if I were a Major-General
he began apologizing for the delay. He drew his chair right up in front
of mine, looking me straight in the eye, as he said: "Now, my young
friend, what is it that you propose?"

As briefly as I could put it I explained, what my plan was--to open
telegraph communication from the town of Fredericksburg, inside the
Rebel lines, direct with his headquarters telegraph operators. This at
the first glance may seem to be a wild, visionary scheme, but that it
was entirely feasible I soon satisfied General Burnside.

Those who were in the Army of the Potomac will remember the Signal
Telegraph Corps. I do not mean the Military or Morse Corps, but the
_Signal_ Telegraph Corps. There were two distinct organizations doing
practically the same character of work in the Army of the Potomac. As a
natural consequence, these two army telegraph corps were in a state of
active, bitter warfare against each other all the time. The Morse
Telegraph Corps was a civilian or non-military affair under Mr. Eckert,
who was located at the War Office. Through this fact, and the sinister
influence of these jealous Washington telegraphers, they were successful
in securing Mr. Stanton's hostility to the Army Signal Telegraph Corps.

Every old army man will remember the signal telegraph lines that were
constructed, as if by magic, on the little ten-foot poles, which were
stretched along the roads like miniature telegraphs, always taking the
shortest cuts through the camps.

I presume that every Corps Headquarters was in immediate telegraphic
connection with the General Headquarters, and that the little poles and
gum-insulated wire extended to all the important outposts. This
telegraph line was used in connection with the flag-and-torch system.
For instance, from some elevated position on the outskirts of our lines,
probably a tree-top or a distant hill, always overlooking the enemy's
country (which was just over the river), would be located a signal
station. Here would be found a signal officer and his squad of trained
flag swingers. Those stations were equipped with the very best
field-glasses and telescopes that were obtainable in this country and in

The telescope, being the larger glass, would always be found supported
on a platform or tripod, and usually leveled so as to sweep the enemy's
country. Each of these stations covered a designated field, equal in
extent to five or ten miles. A number of these stations were arranged
so that the entire front, as well as the rear, if possible, and both
flanks of the enemy, were being minutely inspected every hour of the
day, and any unusual movement of men or teams were at once noted and
immediately reported to headquarters.

The telegraph lines were generally used while in permanent camps to
convey these reports back from the front. But in case of their being
disarranged or on the march, when telegraphs could not be operated, the
flag-and-torch system was used.

Those who have seen these temporary wires will remember that they were
apparently about the thickness of a lead-pencil, but an examination
would show that a gum or rubber casing inclosed a very thin copper wire.
For purpose of insulation the best quality of rubber was used, while the
wire was of the purest copper. It was made in Europe to order, and, as
it was expected that the wires would receive some pretty hard usage,
great care was taken in its manipulation.

The wire, though as thick as a pencil, was as flexible as a piece of
rope of the same thickness. It could be looped, tied and twisted into
any sort of shape in the roughest, shortest manner, and be undone
without damaging it. It will be understood without further explanation
from me, that the purpose in having this army signal wire made in this
way was to secure perfect insulation for the electric current. It was
expected that, in certain emergencies, the wire could be rapidly reeled
off the hose-carriage-looking vehicle that carried it on to the ground,
even during a battle, and signal communication kept up through it even
while it lay on the ground or in the water. A corps of men with wagons
arranged to carry cords of their little circus-tent telegraph poles
would run along after the reel, like a hook-and-ladder company, and were
drilled to rapidly pick up the wire and suspend it overhead, where it
was not liable to be injured by men or horses coming against it.

I didn't have to tell him all of this, because he already knew all about
it. The telegraph and the wire were both in his sight continually. I
merely said to him: "General, I will take some of that insulated wire,
submerge it as a cable under the Rappahannock, and go over there myself
and telegraph your headquarters every hour, if necessary, from inside
the Rebel lines."

"Why, my boy, if you were to attempt to take that wire over there, the
first use that would be made of it would be to make a rope to hang you."

"But I'm not going over there with a rope in my hands," I said. Then I
fully explained to the General, first, that I could get into
Fredericksburg in apparent safety, under pretense of being a Rebel,
because I had actually been taken away from there in arrest and confined
in Old Capitol Prison, by Mr. Stanton's orders, which fact was
well-known by some friends in the town. At this the General's mouth
opened in astonishment, and he probably began to think he was talking
with a crazy man. But, after a long talk about my former experiences and
my recent personal troubles with Mr. Stanton, which interested the
General, especially the latter, seemed to renew his interest, and he
apparently gave me his sympathy and encouragement. The poor old General
was in great trouble with the War Office just then, and probably from
this fact he was able to better appreciate my queer position. How very
insignificant and trifling my affairs became, as compared with his own
distressing, heart-breaking burden!

The General, with a deep sigh, as an expression of pain passed over his
face that I shall never forget, said:

"My dear boy, I should like to avail myself of your offer, and will
think it over; but," with hesitancy, as his brow wrinkled with something
like a frown of distrust, "I want to say to you in the way of
secret-service confidence, that the position and location of the Rebel
forces has been incorrectly reported to me by the War Department Secret
Service officials."

In this connection I can only explain this voluntary observation by the
well-known fact that, undoubtedly, Burnside was indirectly obliged by
public sentiment, expressed through Halleck and Stanton, and perhaps the
President, to make his unfortunate movement over the river, in the face
of an enemy intrenched on the almost-impregnable heights, against his
better military judgment.

Perhaps the War Department had information of the Rebel Army that would
seem to have justified the attempt. I don't pretend to know anything
more about it than I have gathered from General Burnside in the way I
have indicated.

In after years, when General Burnside became a Senator from Rhode
Island, I was employed in the Senate as telegraph operator for the
Associated Press. Major Ben. Perley Poore, the correspondent, learning
from me that I had served with the General, incidentally mentioned the
fact to him one day, and, in less time than I take to write it, the dear
old General was in my office shaking me heartily by the hand. I met him
in a business way frequently during his term, but he never talked on the
subject of the war to me, except in a general, pleasant way.

I further explained, to the apparent satisfaction of the General, that I
should submerge the wire in the river, at night, at a certain point, and
not attempt to haul it out on the Rebel shore, except under certain
contingencies, that were likely to occur, and which I could make use of
from the other shore. I had studied the subject carefully; indeed, from
my frequent visits to the river bank, I had evolved from my fertile
brain the plan to kill two birds with one stone; _i. e._, to get to see
Geno, at the risk of my neck, and while there, under the protection of
her father and friends, who would undoubtedly vouch for me as a good
Rebel, I should be able to go about unmolested, and learn the position
and, perhaps, the plans of the Rebel Army, and then trust to a fortunate
combination of circumstances to go and fish up my submerged wire and tap
my important news to headquarters. Any telegrapher will see that this
could easily have been done by the use of the little instrument, that
could be concealed between the empty lids of a big watch-case. The
current, or battery, was to be supplied from the other end, and all that
I had to do to secure attention, or notify the operators at Burnside's
headquarters that somebody was at the other end of their wire, was to
merely lift the exposed end off the ground or out of the water. I can't
explain all this, but that is the fact easily substantiated. The only
difficulty about the plan was in getting hold of this end of the wire
without detection. This was a very serious trouble; but, as I have said,
I had carefully studied the thing out, and thought it over night and

I will admit, for the sake of argument, that my thoughts and plans were
stimulated by the hope of getting over to see Geno. In my frequent rides
along the river banks in search of a good landing for my cable, I had
selected a point on the other side right below the piers of the burnt
railroad bridge. Those who have been there will remember an old mill
that was located right on the bank, the water-wheel of which seemed to
be almost on the edge of the water. From this wheel was a deep ditch, or
waste-way, for the escape of the surplus water into the river. Back of
the wheel there was, of course, the mill-race, which was quite deep and,
like a canal, sluggish. This race, as it is called, extended in a
winding way up into an unfrequented part of the town.

Now, my scheme was to watch a favorable opportunity from the Union side,
and, with the connivance of our own officers, the first dark night I
proposed taking a coil of that wire, and, under the pretense of escaping
over the river in a boat, I should, when near the Rebel shore, drop the
coil with its anchor, and make a certain signal, at which our pickets
were to fire their guns as if they had discovered me and were in hot

Of course the Rebel pickets would be expected to be on the alert all the
time, and, to prevent detection, I proposed suspending the coil of wire
in the water from the start, attached to a rope, which I could quickly
let go, and the coil and anchor would quietly drop out of sight to the

Once on the other side, I would have to run the risk of being recognized
by the Rebel officers, to whom I should undoubtedly be taken at once. I
hoped that by this time I had been forgotten by my old Rebel friends.
Once safely through this gauntlet I should appeal to Captain Wells for
recognition and release as a Rebel. There would be no trouble about
that, you know.

Then, after looking the ground over, I could, at my leisure, go fishing
for my coil of wire, and extend it up the mill-race either into the
deserted old mill or beyond, out of the range of the pickets, and
astonish the boys at Burnside's headquarters by signaling to them from
the other shore. There was nothing about this plan impracticable, and
General Burnside was so favorably impressed with my scheme that he heard
me through with an apparently deep interest, and even suggested some
changes in my project.

It did not occur to me at the time, though I learned subsequently, that
one of the reasons which induced General Burnside to delay the
consideration of my proposition was (very properly) to enable him to
make some inquiries of my immediate officers about my past experience
and supposed fitness for secret service among the Rebels. I was quietly
informed of this by a friend at court.

The result of this investigation must have been satisfactory to the
General. He sent after me one evening, so late that the messenger had
considerable difficulty in finding me, because I was wrapped up over
head and ears in my army blanket for a nightgown, so sound asleep that I
did not hear my name called.

As all of us were lying around loose in that shape, looking like mummies
of the same age, he took the very great risk of resuscitating the wrong
one, when the Orderly gave notice that "The General is waiting for that
Telegraft Signal fellow to report."

Everybody within hearing at once took a part in the search, and I was
rooted out of my snug corner by the order to "Git out of here damned
sudden; you're wanted at headquarters." This sort of a summons aroused
the curiosity of every old soldier that happened to be around, and
that's saying a good deal.

It's only those who have lived among the old soldiers (I mean those
regular chaps who have been in the service twenty or thirty years) that
can understand fully what is meant by exciting their curiosity with an
order for a comrade to report to headquarters.

They looked upon me with various expressions of pity, contempt, envy and
wonder. The general impression was that I was getting into some kind of
trouble, and one comrade sympathetically whispered words of cheer and
comfort; another bade me "Good-by," etc.

Being only an enlisted man, I was quartered with the "non-coms" around
headquarters, my immediate chum being the Hospital Steward.

As soon as I was wide enough awake to realize the situation and
understand the summons, I knew well enough what it meant, but feigned
wonder and surprise, and, hastily dressing myself, rushed through the
dark yard to the house before any one could question me.

There were the usual sentries around headquarters, but my man got
through them quickly, and we entered the house through the big hallway.
There was but one light burning there, as every one of the numerous
Staff had gone off to sleep. The Orderly gently knocked at the door as
if he were afraid some one might hear. A quiet voice said, "Come"; the
Orderly opened the door, put on his "Regular" face, jerked himself in
sideways, stiffened up, saluted, and reported that he had "fetched the
man he was ordered to."

"All right; 'fetch' him a little more, Sergeant, till I see him," were
the exact words the General uttered in reply, in his pleasant way.
Without waiting for any further introduction from my escort, I brushed
my bangs down, wiped off my chin, and stepped inside of the door,
saluting the General according to the regulations. The General dismissed
the Orderly with a pleasant "Ah, here he is; that will do Orderly."
Turning to me, with the pen he pointed to a chair, saying: "I wanted to
see you, and it seems as if the only opportunity I have is after
everybody else has left me. Take a seat till I finish this note."

After expressing my readiness to wait upon him at any hour, I sat down
as directed, and for the time being I was alone with the
Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Potomac.

If I were permitted to live a thousand years, that lapse of time would
not efface from my memory the impressions that this singular midnight
interview with General Burnside has left upon my mind.

Previous to my reporting, the General had probably been engaged with his
private correspondence, and was at that moment very intent in an awkward
effort at steering his pen over a sheet of paper. The General, like all
other great soldiers, was a poor penman. It made me nervous watching him
scratch over the paper, so that I felt like volunteering my services as
an amanuensis to help him out of his labor, though I am a poor penman
myself--which, by the way, is the only claim that I have for comparison
with great men.

Almost everybody is familiar with the broad, honest, generous face of
Burnside, with his English side-whiskers--"Burnsides"; but, like most
pictures, it fails entirely to show him with his face lighted up by his
happy, encouraging smile.

Though there were upward of a hundred thousand soldiers sleeping on that
cold, inhospitable ground in this darkness, all was as quiet in the Army
of the Potomac along the Rappahannock at that hour as if it were a great
national cemetery containing a hundred thousand quiet graves. As I sat
there and watched the General's features as he continued to write, the
thought occurred to my mind that this one man could, by a word, call
into active life every one of those around, not only on this, but on the
other side of the river.

Right over the little Rappahannock River, on every one of the hills that
were in the background, we knew well enough was another sleeping army;
but their dreary winter camps were enlivened somewhat by their hundreds
of cheerful camp-fires, the light from which seemed to flicker in our
faces a happy sort of defiance at our wretched darkness. All along the
river front, almost within gunshot of our headquarters, was stretched a
line of camp-fires at such regular intervals that the scene resembled
the lights of lamps on a long, winding street. They were allowed
camp-fires on their picket-lines. We were prohibited from lighting a
match at the front.

After the General had finished his task of writing and sealing the note,
he rose from his chair, threw up both arms, as if to stretch himself out
of a cramp, as he walked toward me, saying, abruptly: "It seems to me,
young man, that you are in a position that will enable you to do us
great service."

When I made a move to get on my feet to assume the soldier's first
position of attention, the General motioned me back into my chair, with
a command to: "Sit still; I want to stretch my legs a little while I
talk this matter over," and he halted in front of me as he put the
question: "Do you think you can get to the other side in safety to

I assured him that I had no doubt of that whatever, and went on to
explain that my recent relations with the people there would serve to
protect me, but that I must not go in the uniform of a Federal soldier.

"Are you sure that your friends over there have not heard of your being
in the army?"

I thought not--indeed, I was sure they had not--as some of my best
friends in the North were not aware of the step, because I had not
joined with any of the State troops, but had united with the Regulars,
where I had become lost, as it were, among strangers.

During this examination I had assumed that, as a matter of course, my
proposition to submerge the cable was in the General's mind. I had spent
some time and considerable labor in the interval in carefully preparing
a section of the soft rubber or insulated wire for this use. Sufficient
length had been carefully selected and tested with the electrical
batteries, and then I had put the whole Quartermaster's Department in a
stew by a requisition, approved by headquarters, for some linseed oil,
which was something that was not in the regulation list. I wanted to use
the oil as additional coating to the rubber, as a better protection in
the water. After much red-tape business, I got some oil, and put my coil
of selected wire into the barrel for a good soaking.

When I began to tell the General about this additional security, he
interrupted me: "Oh, never mind about that now. I fully appreciate your
ingenuity, and believe that some such plan might become practicable
hereafter, but (with an impressiveness that I shall never forget) we
know pretty well the extent and disposition of the enemy's forces over

With a deep sigh he hesitated a moment, as if recalling his recent
battle, that had so terribly demonstrated this fact.

"The Government was deceived to a great extent by Scouts; what I now
desire is to deceive the Rebels."

I didn't "catch on," which the General probably discovered by his intent
look into my eye.

"We must deceive them the next time; and if you are willing to take the
risk on yourself of going into their lines, you can no doubt aid us very
much better than by taking the wire along with you."

I expressed so decided a willingness to do anything, that the General
smilingly said: "I see that you will do; and, as you have explained, it
will be no great risk to you personally, I am satisfied to have you make
the attempt." After a few more words of friendly caution, the General
said, finally: "It will be better that you should make the crossing
either above or below, and come up into the city. A few signals may be
arranged beforehand with some of the Signal officers, which you can, no
doubt, perfect yourself better than I."

I assured him that this could be easily done, and with a word or two
more of caution and a suggestion to arrange my signals, and when I was
ready to go to report to him, the General bade me "Good-night."

I left General Burnside's office that night without any very clear
understanding of what he wanted me to do. I was only sure that I was
expected to go over into the town for a purpose which he had not yet
explained. This was sufficient for me. I went off in the dark to find
my blanket, my head swimming with delight at the prospect of personally
serving the General of the Army and the Government in a way that would
at once secure advancement for me; but, best of all, I should at the
same time be able to see Geno; and perhaps the fortune of war would be
so altered by another move as to enable me to escort her and the Wells
family away from the ill-fated old town.

But I shall leave the romantic portion--the love story--out of this
narrative of fact. Perhaps some person better able than myself may in
the future weave a romance from these plain statements of facts that I
have somewhat reluctantly been putting down from time to time, in the
midst of the bustle and confusion of my later-day work of a newspaper
correspondent at Washington, yet scouting around among Rebels for news.

I found my blanket undisturbed during my absence. It had served as a
sort of claim to that part of the floor in the large room over which
were scattered a half-dozen sleeping men. One of the boys was wide
enough awake to begin questioning me in regard to the nature of my
business with the "old man"--the General was always the "old man," you
know. In anticipation of this, and remembering a word of caution from
the General, I had fixed up in my own mind a plan to put them on the
wrong track. I explained--very confidentially, of course, knowing very
well that it would get out the better and be believed if in that
form--that I was to be questioned about the material necessary to build
a telegraph line up to Washington on our side of the river.

It will be remembered that there was no direct communication with
Washington by land from the army at Fredericksburg. Ostensibly, the
Union forces occupied that portion of the territory, but, practically,
the Rebel residenters, bushwhackers and guerrillas, assisted by Stuart's
cavalry, infested the entire region between Alexandria or Manassas and
Fredericksburg. Occasionally our cavalry were up in that region about
some of the upper fords of the Rappahannock, but it was to all intents
and purposes the enemy's country.

It was expected that I would convey some false or misleading information
as coming from our forces to the Rebel officers. In a word, I was to
become a decoy-duck.

While lying there all alone thinking this over carefully, and the
exuberance of my feelings over a personal and pleasant interview with
the General had subsided, I began to realize the dangerous position in
which I might be placed.

The character of the decoy messages, and the manner of conveying them,
the General had discreetly kept from me until the time for action. I was
satisfied that I could easily get through to the Rebel headquarters and
perhaps see General Lee personally. My "sympathizer"--