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´╗┐Title: Si Klegg, Book 6 - Si And Shorty, With Their Boy Recruits, Enter On The Atlanta Campaign
Author: McElroy, John, 1846-1929
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Si Klegg, Book 6 - Si And Shorty, With Their Boy Recruits, Enter On The Atlanta Campaign" ***

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SI KLEGG

SI AND SHORTY, WITH THEIR BOY RECRUITS, ENTER ON THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN


By John McElroy



BOOK No. 6



PUBLISHED BY

THE NATIONAL TRIBUNE COMPANY,

WASHINGTON, D. C.



SECOND EDITION

COPYRIGHT 1915


Contents:

CHAPTER I.       SHORTY BEGINS BEING A FATHER TO PETE SKIDMORE
CHAPTER II.      SI AND SHORTY COME VERY NEAR LOSING THEIR BOYS
CHAPTER III.     THE PARTNERS GET BACK TO THEIR REGIMENT AT LAST
CHAPTER IV.      THE RECRUITS ARE ASSIGNED TO COMPANIES
CHAPTER V.       THE YOUNG RECRUITS
CHAPTER VI.      SI KLEGG PUTS HIS AWKWARD SQUAD THROUGH ITS FIRST DRILL
CHAPTER VII.     SHORTY'S HEART TURNS TOWARD MARIA
CHAPTER VIII.    SHORTY WRITES A LETTER TO MARIA KLEGG
CHAPTER IX.      SI TAKES HIS BOYS FOR A LITTLE MARCH INTO THE COUNTRY
CHAPTER X.       THE BOYS HAVE A COUPLE OF LITTLE SKIRMISHES
CHAPTER XI.      SHORTY GIVES THE BOYS THEIR FIRST LESSON IN FORAGING
CHAPTER XII.     THE OPENING OF THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN
CHAPTER XIII.    THE FIRST DAY OF THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN
CHAPTER XIV.     THE EVENING AFTER THE BATTLE
CHAPTER XV.      THE FIGHTING AROUND BUZZARD ROOST
CHAPTER XVI.     THE 200TH IND. ASSAULTS THE REBEL WORKS AT DAYBREAK
CHAPTER XVII.    GATHERING UP THE BOYS AFTER THE BATTLE
CHAPTER XVIII.   AN ARTILLERY DUEL
CHAPTER XIX.     SI AND SHORTY ARE PUT UNDER ARREST
CHAPTER XX.      SHORTY IS ARRAIGNED BEFORE THE COURT-MARTIAL



PREFACE.

"Si Klegg, of the 200th Ind., and Shorty, his Partner," were born years
ago in the brain of John McElroy, Editor of The National Tribune.

These sketches are the original ones published in The National Tribune,
revised and enlarged somewhat by the author. How true they are to nature
every veteran can abundantly testify from his own service. Really, only
the name of the regiment was invented. There is no doubt that there were
several men of the name of Josiah Klegg in the Union Army, and who did
valiant service for the Government. They had experiences akin to, if
not identical with, those narrated here, and substantially every man
who faithfully and bravely carried a musket in defense of the best
Government on earth had sometimes, if not often, experiences of which
those of Si Klegg are a strong reminder.

The Publishers.



THIS BOOK IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED

TO THE RANK AND FILE

OF THE GREATEST ARMY EVER MUSTERED FOR WAR.



THIS IS NUMBER SIX

OF THE

SI KLEGG SERIES.



SI KLEGG



CHAPTER I. SHORTY BEGINS BEING A FATHER TO PETE SKIDMORE.

"Come, my boy," Si said kindly. "Don't cry. You're a soldier now, and
soldiers don't cry. Stop it."

"Dod durn it," blubbered Pete, "I ain't cryin' bekase Pm skeered. I'm
cryin' bekase I'm afeared you'll lose me. I know durned well you'll lose
me yit, with all this foolin' around."

"No, we won't," Si assured him. "You just keep with us and you'll be all
right."

"Here, you blim-blammed, moon-eyed suckers, git offen that 'ere
crossin'," yelled at them a fireman whose engine came tearing down
toward the middle of the squad. "Hain't you got no more sense than to
stand on a crossin'?"

He hurled a chunk of coal at the squad, which hastily followed Si to the
other side of the track.

"Hello, there; where are you goin', you chuckle-headed clodhoppers?"
yelled the men on another train rushing down from a different direction.
"This ain't no hayfield. Go back home and drive cows, and git out o' the
way o' men who're at work."

There was more scurrying, and when at last Si reached a clear space,
he had only a portion of his squad with him, while Shorty was vowing he
would not go a step farther until he had licked a railroad man. But
the engines continued to whirl back and forth in apparently purposeless
confusion, and the moment that he fixed upon any particular victim
of his wrath, he was sure to be compelled to jump out of the way of a
locomotive clanging up from an unexpected direction and interposing a
train of freight cars between him and the man he was after.

Si was too deeply exercised about getting his squad together to pay
attention to Shorty or the jeering, taunting railroaders. He became
very fearful that some of them had been caught and badly hurt, probably
killed, by the remorseless locomotives.

"This's wuss'n a battle," he remarked to the boys around him. "I'd
ruther take you out on the skirmish-line than through them trains agin."

However, he had come to get some comprehension of the lay of the ground
and the movements of the trains by this time, and by careful watching
succeeded in gathering in his boys, one after another, until he had them
all but little Pete Skidmore. The opinion grew among them that Pete had
unwisely tried to keep up with the bigger boys, who had jumped across
the track in front of a locomotive, and had been caught and crushed
beneath the wheels. He had been seen up to a certain time, and then
those who were last with him had been so busy getting out of the way
that they had forgotten to look for him. Si calmed Shorty down enough to
get him to forget the trainmen for awhile and take charge of the squad
while he went to look for Pete. He had become so bewildered that he
could not tell the direction whence they had come, or where the tragedy
was likely to have happened. The farther he went in attempting to
penetrate the maze of moving trains, the more hopeless the quest seemed.
Finally he went over to the engineer of a locomotive that was standing
still and inquired if he had heard of any accident to a boy soldier
during the day.

"Seems to me that I did hear some o' the boys talkin' about No. 47 or 63
havin' run over a boy, or something," answered the engineer carelessly,
without removing his pipe from his mouth. "I didn't pay no attention to
it. Them things happen every day. Sometimes it's my engine, sometimes
it's some other man's. But I hain't run over nobody for nigh a month
now."

"Confound it," said Si savagely; "you talk about runnin' over men as if
it was part o' your business."

"No," said the engineer languidly, as he reached up for his bell-rope.
"'Tain't, so to speak, part o' our regler business. But the yard's
awfully crowded, old Sherman's makin' it do five times the work it was
calculated for, trains has got to be run on the dot, and men must
keep off the track if they don't want to git hurt. Stand clear, there,
yourself, for I'm goin' to start."

Si returned dejectedly to the place where he had left his squad. The
expression of his face told the news before he had spoken a word. It was
now getting dark, and he and Shorty decided that it was the best
thing to go into bivouac where they were and wait till morning before
attempting to penetrate the maze beyond in search of their regiment.
They gathered up some wood, built fires, made coffee and ate the
remainder of their rations. They were all horribly depressed by little
Pete Skidmore's fate, and Si and Shorty, accustomed as they were to
violent deaths, could not free themselves from responsibility however
much they tried to reason it out as an unavoidable accident. They could
not talk to one another, but each wrapped himself up in his blanket and
sat moodily, a little distance from the fires, chewing the cud of bitter
fancies. Neither could bear the thought of reporting to their regiment
that they had been unable to take care of the smallest boy in their
squad. Si's mind went back to Peter Skidmore's home, and his mother,
whose heart would break over the news.

The clanging and whistling of the trains kept up unabated, and Si
thought they made the most hateful din that ever assailed his ears.

Presently one of the trains stopped opposite them and a voice called
from the locomotive:

"Do you men know of a squad of Injianny recruits commanded by Serg't
Klegg?"

"Yes, here they are," said Si, springing up. "I'm Serg't Klegg."

[Illustration: LITTLE PETE FOUND 13]

"That's him," piped out Pete Skidmore's voice from the engine, with a
very noticeable blubber of joy. "He's the same durned old-fool that I
kept tellin' all the time he'd lose me if he wasn't careful, and he went
and done it all the same."

"Well, here's your boy," continued the first voice. "Be mighty glad
you've got him back and see that you take care o' him after this. My
fireman run down on the cow-ketcher and snatched him up just in the
nick o' time. A second more and he'd bin mince-meat. Men what can't take
better care o' boys oughtn't to be allowed to have charge of 'em. But
the Government gits all sorts o' damn fools for $13 a month."

Si was so delighted at getting Pete back unhurt that he did not have the
heart to reply to the engineer's gibes.



CHAPTER II. SI AND SHORTY COME VERY NEAR LOSING THEIR BOYS.

ALL healthy boys have a strong tincture of the savage in them. The
savage alternately worships his gods with blind, unreasoning idolatry,
or treats them with measureless contumely.

Boys do the same with their heroes. It is either fervent admiration, or
profound distrust, merging into actual contempt. After the successful
little skirmish with the guerrillas the boys were wild in their
enthusiasm over Si and Shorty. They could not be made to believe that
Gens. Grant, Sherman or Thomas could conduct a battle better. But the
moment that Si and Shorty seemed dazed by the multitude into which they
were launched, a revulsion of feeling developed, which soon threatened
to be ruinous to the partners' ascendancy.

During the uncomfortable, wakeful night the prestige of the partners
still further diminished. In their absence the army had been turned
topsy-turvy and reorganized in a most bewildering way. The old
familiar guide-marks had disappeared. Two of the great corps had been
abolished--consolidated into one, with a new number and a strange
commander. Two corps of strange troops had come in from the Army of
the Potomac, and had been consolidated into one, taking an old corps'
number. Divisions, brigades and regiments had been totally changed in
commanders, formation and position. Then the Army of the Tennessee had
come in, to complicate the seeming muddle, and the more that Si and
Shorty cross-questioned such stragglers as came by the clearer it seemed
to the boys that they were hopelessly bewildered, and the more depressed
the youngsters became.

The morning brought no relief. Si and Shorty talked together, standing
apart from the squad, and casting anxious glances over the swirling
mass of army activity, which the boys did not fail to note and read with
dismal forebodings.

"I do believe they're lost," whimpered little Pete Skidmore. "What
in goodness will ever become of us, if we're lost in this awful
wilderness?"

The rest shuddered and grew pale at this horrible prospect.

"That looks like a brigade headquarters over there," said Si, pointing
to the left. "And I believe that's our old brigade flag. I'm goin' over
there to see."

"I don't believe that's any brigade headquarters at all," said Shorty.
"Up there, to the right, looks ever so much more like a brigade
headquarters. I'm goin' up there to see. You boys stay right there, and
don't move off the ground till I come back. I won't be gone long."

As he left, the boys began to feel more lonely and hopeless than ever,
and little Pete Skidmore had hard work to restrain his tears.

A large, heavy-jowled man, with a mass of black whiskers, and wearing a
showy but nondescript uniform, appeared.

"That must be one o' the big Generals," said Harry Joslyn. "Looks like
the pictures o' Grant. Git into line, boys, and salute."

"No, it ain't Grant, neither," said Gid Mackall. "Too big. Must be Gen.
Thomas."

The awed boys made an effort to form a line and receive him properly.

"Who are you, boys?" said the newcomer, after gravely returning the
salute.

"We're recruits for the 200th Injianny Volunteer Infantry," answered
Harry Joslyn. "Kin you tell us where the rijimint is? We're lost.

"Used to know sich a regiment. In fact, I used to be Lieutenant-Colonel
of it. But I hain't heared of it for a long time. Think it's petered
out."

"Petered out!" gasped the boys.

"Yes. It was mauled and mummixed to death. There's plenty o'
mismanagement all around the army, but the 200th Injianny had the worst
luck of all. It got into awful bad hands. I quit it just as soon's I see
how things was a-going. They begun to plant the men just as soon's
they crossed the Ohio, and their graves are strung all the way from
Louisville to Chickamauga. The others got tired o' being mauled around,
and starved, and tyrannized over, and o' fighting for the nigger, and
they skipped for home like sensible men."

The boys shuddered at the doleful picture.

"Who brung you here?" continued the newcomer.

"Sarjint Klegg and Corpril Elliott," answered Harry.

"Holy smoke," said the newcomer with a look of disgust. "They've made
non-commish out o' them sapsuckers. Why, I wouldn't let them do nothin'
but dig ditches when I was in command o' the regiment. But they probably
had to take them. All the decent material was gone. How much bounty'd
you get?"

"We got $27.50 apiece," answered Harry. "But we didn't care nothin' for
the bounty. We--"

"Only $27.50 apiece. Holy smoke! They're payin' 10 times that in some
places."

"I tell you, we didn't enlist for the bounty," reiterated Harry.

"All the same, you don't want to be robbed o' what's yours. You don't
want to be skinned out o' your money by a gang o' snoozers who're
gittin' rich off of green boys like you. Where's this Sarjint Klegg and
Corpril Elliott that brung you here?"

"They've gone to look for the rijimint."

"Gone to look for the regiment. Much they've gone to look for the
regiment. They've gone to look out for their scalawag selves. When you
see 'em agin, you'll know 'em, that's all."

Little Pete Skidmore began to whimper.

"Say, boys," continued the newcomer, "you'd better drop all idee of that
200th Injianny and come with me. If there is any sich a regiment any
more, and you get to it, you'd be sorry for it as long as you live. I
know a man over here who's got a nice regiment, and wants a few more
boys like you to fill it up. He'll treat you white and give you twice
as much bounty as you'll git anywhere's else, and he's goin' to keep his
regiment back in the fortifications, where there won't be no fightin',
and hard marches, and starvation--"

"But we enlisted to fight and march, and--" interjected Harry.

"Well, you want a good breakfast just now, more'n anything else, judgin'
from appearances. Come along with me and I'll git you something to eat."

"But we waz enlisted for the 200th Injianny Volunteer Infantry, and must
go to that rijimint," protested Monty Scruggs.

"Well, what's that got to do with your havin' a good breakfast?" said
the newcomer plausibly. "You need that right off. Then we kin talk about
your regiment. As a matter of fact, you're only enlisted in the Army of
the United States and have the right to go to any regiment you please.
Tyrannical as the officers may be, they can't take that privilege of an
American freeman away from you. Come along and git breakfast first."

The man's appearance was so impressive, his words and confident manner
so convincing, and the boys so hungry that their scruples vanished, and
all followed the late Lieut.-Col. Billings, as he gave the word, and
started off through the mazes of the camp with an air of confident
knowledge that completed his conquest of them.

Ex-Lieut.-Col. Billings strode blithely along, feeling the gladsome
exuberance of a man who had "struck a good thing," and turning over in
his mind as to where he had best market his batch of lively recruits,
how he could get around the facts of their previous enlistment, and how
much he ought to realize per head. He felt that he could afford to
give the boys a good breakfast, and that that would be fine policy.
Accordingly, he led the way to one of the numerous large eating houses,
established by enterprising sutlers, to their own great profit and the
shrinkage of the pay of the volunteers. He lined the boys up in front of
the long shelf which served for a table and ordered the keeper:

"Now, give each of these boys a good breakfast of ham and eggs and
trimmings and I'll settle for it."

"Good mornin', Kunnel. When 'd you git down here?" said a voice at his
elbow.

"Hello, Groundhog, is that you?" said Billings, turning around. "Just
the man I wanted to see. Finish your breakfast and come out here. I want
to talk to you."

"Well," answered Groundhog, wiping his mouth, "I'm through. The feller
that runs this shebang ain't made nothin' offen me, I kin tell you. It's
the first square meal I've had for a week, and I've et until there ain't
a crack left inside o' me that a skeeter could git his bill in. I laid
out to git the wuth o' my money, and I done it. What're you doin' down
here in this hole? Ain't Injianny good enough for you?"

"Injianny's good enough on general principles, but just now there's too
much Abolition malaria there for me. The Lincoln satraps 've got the
swing on me, and I thought I'd take a change of air. I've come down here
to see if there weren't some chances to make a good turn, and I've
done very well so far. I've done a little in cattle and got some cotton
through the lines--enough at least to pay my board and railroad fare.
But I think the biggest thing is in recruits, and I've got a scheme
which I may let you into. You know there are a lot of agents down here
from the New England States trying to git niggers to fill up their
quotas, and they are paying big money for recruits. Can't you go out and
gether up a lot o' niggers that we kin sell 'em?"

"Sure," said Groundhog confidently. "Kin git all you want, if you'll pay
for 'em. But what's this gang you've got with you?"

"O, they're a batch for that blasted Abolition outfit, the 200th
Injianny. Them two ornery galoots, Si and Shorty, whose necks I ought've
broke when I was with the regiment, have brung 'em down. They're not
goin' to git to the 200th Injianny if I kin help it, though. First
place, it'll give old McBiddle, that Abolition varmint, enough to git
him mustered as Colonel. He helped oust me, and I have it in for him.
He was recommended for promotion for gittin' his arm shot off at
Chickamauga. Wisht it'd bin his cussed head."

"But what're you goin' to do with the gang?" Groundhog inquired.

"O, there are two or three men around here that I kin sell 'em to for
big money. I ought to make a clean thousand off 'em if I make a cent."

"How much'll I git out o' that?" inquired Groundhog anxiously.

"Well, you ain't entitled to nothin' by rights. I've hived this crowd
all by myself, and kin work 'em all right. But if you'll come along and
make any affidavits that we may need, I'll give you a sawbuck. But on
the nigger lay I'll stand in even with you, half and half. You run 'em
in and I'll place 'em and we'll whack up."

"'Tain't enough," answered Groundhog angrily. "Look here, Jeff Billings,
I know you of old. You've played off on me before, and I won't stand no
more of it. Jest bekase you've bin a Lieutenant-Colonel and me only a
teamster you've played the high and mighty with me. I'm jest as good as
you are any day. I wouldn't give a howl in the infernal regions for your
promises. You come down now with $100 in greenbacks and I'll go along
and help you all I kin. If you don't--"

"If I don't what'll you do, you lowlived whelp?" said Billings, in his
usual brow-beating manner. "I only let you into this as a favor, because
I've knowed you before. You hain't brains enough to make a picayune
yourself, and hain't no gratitude when someone else makes it for you.
Git out o' here; I'm ashamed to be seen speakin' to a mangy hound like
you. Git out o' here before I kick you out. Don't you dare speak to one
o' them boys, or ever to me agin. If you do I'll mash you. Git out."

Si and Shorty's dismay when they returned and found their squad entirely
disappeared was overwhelming. They stood and gazed at one another for a
minute in speechless alarm and wonderment.

"Great goodness," gasped Si at length, "they can't have gone far. They
must be somewhere around."

"Don't know about that," said Shorty despairingly. "We've bin gone some
little time and they're quick-footed little rascals."

"What fools we wuz to both go off and leave 'em," murmured Si in deep
contrition. "What fools we wuz."

"No use o' cryin' over spilt milk," answered Shorty. "The thing to
do now is to find 'em, which is very much like huntin' a needle in a
haystack. You stay here, on the chance o' them comin' back, and I'll
take a circle around there to the left and look for 'em. If I don't find
'em I'll come back and we'll go down to the Provo-Marshal's."

"Goodness, I'd rather be shot than go back to the rijimint without 'em,"
groaned Si. "How kin I ever face the Colonel and the rest o' the boys?"

Leaving Si gazing anxiously in every direction for some clew to his
missing youngsters, Shorty rushed off in the direction of the sutler's
shanties, where instinct told him he was most likely to find the
runaways.

He ran up against Groundhog.

"Where are you goin' in sich a devil of a hurry?" the teamster asked.
"Smell a distillery somewhere?"

"Hello, Groundhog, is that you? Ain't you dead yit? Say, have you seen
a squad o' recruits around here--all boys, with new uniforms, and no
letters or numbers on their caps?"

"Lots and gobs of 'em. Camp's full of 'em. More comin' in by every
train."

"But these wuz all Injianny boys, most of 'em little. Not an old man
among 'em."

"Shorty, I know where your boys are. What'll you give me to tell you?"

Shorty knew his man of old, and just the basis on which to open
negotiations.

"Groundhog, I've just had my canteen filled with first-class
whisky--none o' your commissary rotgut, but old rye, hand-made,
fire-distilled. I got it to take out to the boys o' the rijimint to
celebrate my comin' back. Le' me have just one drink out of it, and I'll
give it to you if you'll tell."

Groundhog wavered an instant. "I wuz offered $10 on the other side."

Shorty was desperate. "I'll give you the whisky and $10."

"Le' me see your money and taste your licker."

"Here's the money," said Shorty, showing a bill. "I ain't goin' to trust
you with the canteen, but I'll pour out this big spoon full, which'll
be enough for you to taste." Shorty drew a spoon from his haversack and
filled it level full.

"It's certainly boss licker," said Groundhog, after he had drunk it,
and prudently hefted the canteen to see if it was full. "I'll take your
offer. You're to have just one swig out o' it, and no more, and not a
hog-swaller neither. I know you. You'd drink that hull canteenful at one
gulp, if you had to. You'll let me put my thumb on your throat?"

"Yes, and I'll give you the canteen now and the money after we find the
boys."

"All right. Go ahead. Drink quick, for you must go on the jump, or
you'll lose your boys."

Shorty lifted the canteen to his lips and Groundhog clasped his throat
with his thumb on Adam's apple. When Shorty got his breath he sputtered:

"Great Jehosephat, you didn't let me git more'n a spoonful. But where
are the boys?"

"Old Jeff Billings's got 'em down at Zeke Wiggins's hash-foundry feedin'
'em, so's he kin toll 'em off into another rijimint."

"Old Billings agin," shouted Shorty in a rage. "Where's the place? Show
it to me. But wait a minute till I run back and git my pardner."

"Gi' me that licker fust," shouted Groundhog, but Shorty was already
running back for Si. When he returned with him he threw the canteen to
Groundhog with the order, "Go ahead and show us the place."

By the time they came in sight of the sutler's shanty the boys had
finished their breakfast and were moving off after Billings.

"There's your man and there's your boys," said Groundhog, pointing to
them. "Now gi' me that 'ere sawbuck. You'll have to excuse me havin'
anything to do with old Billings. He's licked me twice already."

Shorty shoved the bill into his hand, and rushed down in front of
Billings.

"Here, you black-whiskered old roustabout, where 're you takin' them
boys?" he demanded.

"Git out o' my way, you red-headed snipe," answered Billings, making a
motion as if to brush him away.

"If you don't go off and leave them boys alone I'll belt you over the
head with my gun," said Si, raising his musket.

"You drunken maverick," answered Billings, trying to brave it out. "I'll
have you shot for insultin' and threatenin' your sooperior officer.
Skip out o' here before the Provo comes up and ketches you. Let me go on
about my business. Forward, boys."

"Officer nothin'. You can't play that on us," said Si. "Halt, there,
boys, and stand fast."

A crowd of teamsters, sutlers' men and other camp followers gathered
around. A tall, sandybearded man with keen, gray eyes and a rugged,
stony face rode up. He wore a shabby slouch hat, his coat was old and
weather-stained, but he rode a spirited horse.

"Here, what's all this row about?" he asked in quick, sharp tones.

"Keep out o' this mix," said Shorty, without looking around. "'Tain't
none o' your business. This is our party." With that he made a snatch at
Billings's collar to jerk him out of the way.

"What, you rascal, would you assault an officer?" said the newcomer,
spurring his horse through the crowd to get at Shorty.

[Illustration: HE AIN'T NO OFFICER 27]

"He ain't no officer, General," said Si, catching sight of two dim stars
on the man's shoulders. "He's tryin' to steal our recruits from us."

"Yes, I am an officer," said Billings, avoiding Shorty's clutch. "These
men are assaultin' me while I'm on duty. I want them arrested and
punished."

"Fall back there, both of you," said the General severely, as Si and
Shorty came to a present arms. "Sergeant, who are you, and where do you
belong?"

"I'm Serg't Klegg, sir, of Co. Q, 200th Injianny Volunteer Infantry."

"Who are you, Corporal?"

"I'm Corp'l Elliott, sir, of Co. Q, 200th Injianny Volunteer Infantry."

"Now, officer, who are you?"

"I'm Lieut.-Col. Billings, sir."

"Where's your shoulder-straps?"

"I had 'em taken off this coat to git fixed. They were torn."

"Where's your sword?"

"I left it in my quarters."

"Fine officer, to go on duty that way. Where do you belong?"

Billings hesitated an instant, but he felt sure that the General did not
belong to the Army of the Cumberland, and he answered:

"I belong to the 200th Ind."

"That ain't true, General," Si protested. "He was fired out of the
regiment a year ago. He's a citizen."

"Silence, Sergeant. Billings? Billings? The name of the
Lieutenant-Colonel of the 200th Ind. happens to be McBiddle--one-armed
man, good soldier. Billings? Billings? T. J. Billings? Is that your
name?"

"Yes, sir," answered Billings, beginning to look very uncomfortable.

"Didn't you have some trouble about a bunch of cattle you sold to the
Quartermaster-General?"

"Well, there was little difference of opinion, but--"

"That'll do, sir. That'll do for the present. I begin to get you placed.
I thought I knew the name Billings as soon as you spoke it, but I
couldn't remember any officer in my army of that name. Now, Sergeant,
tell me your story."

"General, me and my pardner here," began Si, "have bin home on wounded
furlough. Wounded at Chickamauga and promoted. We got orders to bring on
this squad o' recruits from Jeffersonville for our rijimint. We got in
last night and this mornin' me and my pardner started out to see if we
could find someone to direct us to the rijimint, leavin' the squad alone
for a few minutes. While we wuz gone this feller, who's bin fired out of
our rijimint and another one that he was in, come along and tolled our
boys off, intendin' to sneak 'em into another rijimint and git pay for
'em. By great good luck we ketched him in time, just before you come up.
You kin ask the boys themselves if I hain't told you the truth."

"Good idea," said the General, in his quick, peremptory way. "You three
(indicating Si, Shorty and Billings) march off there 25 paces, while I
talk to the boys."

Gen. Sherman, for it was the Commander of the Military Division of
the Mississippi, who, with his usual impetuous, thorough way, would
investigate even the most insignificant affair in his camps, when the
humor seized him, now sprang from his horse, and began a sharp, nervous
cross-questioning of the boys as to their names, residence, ages, how
they came there and whither they were bound.

"You came down with this Sergeant and Corporal, did you? You were
recruited for the 200th Ind., were you? You were put under the charge of
those men to be taken to your regiment?" he asked Pete Skidmore, at the
end of the line.

"Yes, sir," blubbered Pete. "And they are always losin' us, particularly
me, durn 'em. Spite of all I kin say to 'em they'll lose me, durn their
skins."

"No, my boy, you sha'n't be lost," said the General kindly, as he
remounted. "Stick to our command and you'll come through all right.
Billings, you thorough-paced rascal, I want you to get to the other side
of the Ohio River as quickly as the trains will carry you. I haven't
time to deal with you as you deserve, but if I have occasion to speak
to you again you'll rue it as long as you live. There's a train getting
ready to go out. If you are wise, you'll take it. Serg't Klegg and
Corp'l Elliott, you deserve to lose your stripes for both of you leaving
your squad at the same time. See that you don't do it again. You'll find
the 200th Ind. in camp on the east side of Mission Ridge, about a mile
south of Rossville Gap. Go out this road until you pass old John Ross's
house about a half a mile. You'll find several roads leading off to the
right, but don't take any of them till you come to one that turns off
by a sweet gum and a honey-locust standing together on the banks of a
creek. Understand? A sweet gum and a honey-locust standing together on
the banks of a creek. Turn off there, go across the mountain and you'll
find your camp. Move promptly now."

"I declare," said a big Wagonmaster, as the General galloped off, "if
that old Gump Sherman don't beat the world. He not only knows where
every regiment in his whole army is located, but I believe he knows
every man in it. He's a far-reacher, I tell you."

"Great Jehosephat," gasped Shorty, "was that Gen. Tecumseh Sherman?"

"As sure 's you're a foot high," replied the Wagonmaster.

"And I told him to mind his own business," stammered Shorty.

"Yes, and if it hadn't bin for him you'd 'a' lost us, durn it,"
ejaculated little Pete Skidmore.



CHAPTER III. THE PARTNERS GET BACK TO THEIR REGIMENT AT LAST

WITH ALL THEIR RECRUITS.

SI AND SHORTY were too glad to get their boys back, and too eager to
find their regiment, to waste any time in scolding the derelicts.

"Now that you boys have had a good breakfast," Si remarked with
an accent of cutting sarcasm, "at the expense of that kind-hearted
gentleman, Mr. Billings, I'm goin' to give you a pleasant little
exercise in the shape of a forced march. If you don't make the distance
between here and the other side o' Rossville Gap quicker'n ary squad
has ever made it I'm much mistaken. Shorty, put yourself on the left and
bring up the rear."

"You bet," answered Shorty, "and I'll take durned good care I don't lose
little Pete Skidmore."

"Now," commanded Si, getting a good lay of the ground toward the gap,
"Attention. All ready? Forward, march."

He led off with the long march stride of the veteran, and began
threading his way through the maze of teams, batteries, herds, and
marching men and stragglers with the ease and certainty born of long
acquaintance with crowded camps. He dodged around a regiment here,
avoided a train there, and slipped through a marching battery at the
next place with a swift, unresting progress that quickly took away the
boys' wind and made them pant with the exertion of keeping up.

In the rear was the relentless Shorty.

"Close up, there! Close up!" he kept shouting to those in front. "Don't
allow no gaps between you. Keep marchin' distance--19 inches from back
to breast. Come along, Pete. I ain't a-goin' to lose you, no matter what
happens."

"Sarjint," gasped flarry Joslyn, after they had gone a couple of miles,
"don't you call this purty fast marchin'?"

"Naah," said Si contemptuously. "We're just crawlin' along. Wait till we
git where it's a little clear, and then we'll go. Here, cut acrost ahead
o' that battery that's comin' up a-trot."

There was a rush for another mile or two, when there was a momentary
halt to allow a regiment of cavalry to go by at a quick walk.

"Goodness," murmured Gid Mackall, as he set down the carpet-sack which
he would persist in carrying, "are they always in a hurry? I s'posed
that when soldiers wuzzent marchin' or fightin' they lay around camp and
played cards and stole chickens, and wrote letters home, but everybody
'round here seems on the dead rush."

"Don't seem to be nobody pic-nickin' as far's I kin see," responded
Si, "but we hain't no time to talk about it now. We must git to the
rijimint. Forward!"

Another swift push of two or three miles brought them toward the foot of
Mission Ridge, and near the little, unpainted frame house which had once
been the home of John Ross, the chief of the Cherokees.

"Boys, there's the shebang or palace of the big Injun who used to be
king of all these mountains and valleys," said Si, stopping the squad to
give them a much needed rest. "He run this whole country, and had Injuns
to burn, though he generally preferred to burn them that didn't belong
to his church."

"Roasted his neighbors instid o' his friends in a heathen sort of a
way," continued Shorty.

"What was his name?" inquired Monty Scruggs.

"John Ross."

"Humph, not much of a name," said Monty in a disappointed tone, for he
had been an assiduous reader of dime novels. "'Tain't anything like
as fine as Tecumseh, and Osceola, and Powhatan, and Jibbeninosay, and
Man-Afraid-of-Gettin'-His-Neck-Broke. Wasn't much of a big Injun."

"Deed he was," answered Si. "He and his fathers before him run' this
whole neck o' woods accordin' to the big Injun taste, and give the Army
o' the United States all they wanted to do. Used to knock all the other
Injuns around here about like ten-pins. The Rosses were bosses from the
word go."

"Don't sound right, though," said Monty regretfully. "And such a
shack as that don't look like the wigwam of a great chief. 'Tain't any
different from the hired men's houses on the farms in Injianny."

"Well, all the same, it's got to go for the scene of a cord o'
dime novels," said Shorty. "We've brung in civilization and modern
improvements and killed more men around here in a hour o' working time
than the ignorant, screechin' Injuns killed since the flood."

"Do them rijimints look like the 200th Injianny?" anxiously inquired
Harry Joslyn, pointing to some camps on the mountain-side, where the men
were drilling and engaged in other soldierly duties.

"Them," snorted Shorty contemptuously. "Them's only recruits that ain't
got licked into shape yet. When you see the 200th Injianny you'll see a
rijimint, I tell you. Best one in the army. You ought to be mighty proud
you got a chanst to git into sich a rijimint."

"We are; we are," the boys assured him. "But we're awful anxious to see
jest what it's like."

"Well, you'll see in a little while the boss lot o' boys. Every one of
'em fightin' cocks, thoroughbred--not a dunghill feather or strain
in the lot. Weeded 'em all out long ago. All straight-cut gentlemen.
They'll welcome you like brothers and skin you out of every cent o' your
bounty, if you play cards with 'em. They're a dandy crowd when it comes
to fingerin' the pasteboards. They'll be regler fathers to you, but you
don't want to play no cards with 'em."

"I thought you said they wuz all gentlemen and would be regler brothers
to us," said Harry Joslyn.

"So they will--so they will. But your brother's the feller that you've
got to watch clostest when he's settin' in front o' you with one little
pair. He's the feller that's most likely to know all you know about the
cards and what he knows besides. They've bin skinnin' one another so
long that they'll be as anxious to git at your fresh young blood as a
New Orleans skeeter is to sink into a man just from the North."

"Didn't think they'd allow gambling in so good a regiment as the 200th
Ind.," remarked Alf Russell, who was a devoted attendant on Sunday
school.

"Don't allow it. It's strictly prohibited."

"But I thought that in the army you carried out orders, if you had to
kill men."

"Well, there's orders and orders," said Shorty, philosophically. "Most
of 'em you obey to the last curl on the letter R, and do it with a jump.
Some of 'em you obey only when you have to, and take your chances at
improving the State o' Tennessee by buildin' roads and diggin' up stumps
in the parade ground if you're ketched not mindin'. Of them kind is the
orders agin gamblin'."

"Shorty, stop talkin' to the boys about gamblin'. I won't have it,"
commanded Si. "Boys, you mustn't play cards on no account, especially
with older men. It's strictly agin orders, besides which I'll break any
o' your necks that I ketch at it. You must take care o' your money and
send it home. Forward, march."

They went up the road from the John Ross house until they came to that
turning off to the right by a sweet gum and a sycamore, as indicated by
Gen. Sherman, and then began a labored climbing of the rough, stony way
across Mission Ridge. Si's and Shorty's eagerness to get to the regiment
increased so with their nearness to it that they went at a terrific pace
in spite of all obstacles.

"Please, Sarjint," begged Gid Mackall, as they halted for an instant
near a large rock, "need we go quite so fast? We're awfully anxious to
git to the regiment, too, but I feel like as if I'd stove two inches
offen my legs already against them blamed rocks."

"I can't keep up. I can't keep up at all," whimpered little Pete
Skidmore. "You are just dead certain to lose me."

"Pull out just a little more, boys," Si said pleasantly. "We must be
almost there. It can't be but a little ways now."

"Close up there in front!" commanded Shorty. "Keep marchin' distance--19
inches from back to breast. Come on, Pete. Gi' me your hand; I'll help
you along."

"I ain't no kid, to be led along by the hand," answered Pete sturdily,
refusing the offer. "I'll keep up somehow. But you can't expect my short
legs to cover as much ground as them telegraph poles o' your'n."

The summit of the ridge was crossed and a number of camps appeared along
the slope.

"Wonder which one o' them is the 200th Injianny's?" said Si to Shorty.

"I thought the 200th Injianny was so much finer rijimint than any
other that you'd know it at sight," said Harry Joslyn, with a shade of
disappointment in his voice.

"I would know it if I was sure I was lookin' at it," answered Shorty.
"But they seem to have picked out all the best rijimints in the army to
go into camp here this side o' Mission Ridge. Mebbe they want to make
the best show to the enemy."

"That looks like the camp o' the 200th Injianny over there," said Si,
pointing to the right, after scanning the mountain-side. "See all them
red shirts hangin' out to dry? That's Co. A; they run to red flannel
shirts like a nigger barber to striped pants."

"No," answered Shorty; "that's that Ohio rijimint, made up o' rollin'
mill men and molders. They all wear red flannel shirts. There's the
200th Injianny just down there to the left, with all them men on extra
duty on the parade ground. I know just the gang. Same old crowd; I kin
almost tell their faces. They've bin runnin' guard, as usual, and comin'
back full o' apple-jack and bad language and desire to give the camp a
heavy coat o' red paint. Old McBiddle has tried to convince 'em that he
was still runnin' the rijimint, and his idees wuz better 'n theirs, and
there they are. There's Jim Monaghan handlin' that pick as if he was
in the last stages o' consumption. There's Barney' Maguire, pickin' up
three twigs 'bout as big as lead pencils, and solemnly carryin' 'em off
the parade ground as if they wuz fence-rails. I'll just bet a month's
pay that's Denny Murphy marchin' up and down there with his knapsack
filled with Tennessee dornicks. Denny's done that feather-weight
knapsack trick so often that his shoulders have corns and windgalls on
'em, and they always keep a knapsack packed for him at the guard-house
ready for one of his Donnybrook fair songs and dances. Mighty good boy,
Denny, but he kin git up a red-hotter riot on his share of a canteen
of apple-jack than any three men in the rijimint. That feller tied to a
tree is Tony Wilson. He's refused to dig trenches agin. O, I tell you,
they're a daisy lot."

"Shorty," admonished Si. "You mustn't talk that way before the boys.
What'll they think o' the rijimint?"

"Think of it?" said Shorty, recovering himself. "They've got to think
of it as the very best rijimint that ever stood in line-of-battle. I'll
punch the head of any man that says anything to the contrary. Every man
in it is a high-toned, Christian gentleman. Mind that, now, every one of
you brats, and don't you allow nobody to say otherwise."

"No," said Si, after further study of the camps, "neither o' them 's the
200th Injianny. They've both got brass bands. Must be new rijimints."

"Say," said Shorty, "there's a royal lookin' rooster standin' up in
front of that little house there. Looks as if the house was headquarters
for some highroller, and him doin' Orderly duty. If he knows as much as
he's got style, he knows more'n old Sherman himself. Go up and ask him."

It was the first time in all their service that either of them had
seen a soldier in the full dress prescribed by the United States Army
regulations, and this man had clearly won the coveted detail of Orderly
by competition with his comrades as being the neatest, best-dressed
man in the squad. He was a tall, fine-looking young man, wearing white
gloves and a paper collar, with a spotless dress coat buttoned to the
chin, his shoes shining like mirrors, his buttons and belt-plates like
new gold, and his regulation hat caught up on the left side with a
feather and a gilt eagle. The front of his hat was a mass of gilt
letters and figures and a bugle, indicating his company, regiment and
State. On his breast was a large, red star.

"Jehosephat," sighed Shorty. "I wish I had as many dollars as he has
style. Must be one of old Abe's body guards, sent out here with Grant's
commission as Lieutenant-General. Expect that red star passes him on
the railroads and at the hotels. I'd like to play him two games out o'
three, cut-throat, for it. I could use it in my business."

"No," said the Orderly to Si, with a strong Yankee twang, "I don't know
a mite about the 200th Ind. Leastwise, I don't remember it. Everybody
down here's from Indiana, Ohio or Illinois. It's one eternal mix, like
Uncle Jed Stover's fish--couldn't tell shad, herring nor sprat from one
another. It seems to me more like a 'tarnal big town-meeting than an
army. All talk alike, and have got just as much to say; all act alike.
Can't tell where an Indiana regiment leaves off and Ohio one begins;
can't tell officer from private, everybody dresses as he pleases, and
half of them don't wear anything to tell where they belong. There wasn't
a corps badge in the whole army when we come here."

"Corps badges--what's them?" asked Si.

"Corps badges? Why this is one," said the man, tapping his red star.
"This shows I belong to the Twelfth Corps--best corps in the Army of the
Potomac, and the First Division--best division in the corps. We have to
wear them so's to show our General which are his men, and where they be.
Haven't you no corps badges?"

"Our General don't have to tag us," said Shorty, who had come up and
listened. "He knows all of us that's worth knowin', and that we'll go
wherever he orders us, and stay there till he pulls us off. Our corps
badge's a full haversack and Springfield rifle sighted up to 1,200
yards."

"Well, you do fight in a most amazing way," said the Orderly, cordially.
"We never believed it of such rag-tag and bobtail until we saw you go
up over Mission Ridge. You were all straggling then, but you were
straggling toward the enemy. Never saw such a mob, but it made the
rebels sick."

"Well, if you'd seen us bustin' your old friend Long-street at Snodgrass
Hill, you'd seen some hefightin'. We learned him that he wasn't
monkeyin' with the Army o' the Potomac, but with fellers that wuz
down there for business, and not to wear paper collars and shine their
buttons. He come at us seven times before we could git that little fact
through his head, and we piled up his dead like cordwood."

"Well, you didn't do any better than we did with Early's men at Gulp's
Hill, if we do wear paper collars," returned the other proudly. "After
we got through with Johnston's Division you couldn't see the ground in
front for the dead and wounded. And none of your men got up on Lookout
Mountain any quicker'n we did. Paper collars and red stars showed you
the way right along."

"My pardner's only envious because he hain't no paper collars nor fine
clothes," said Si, conciliatorily. "I've often told him that if he'd
leave chuck-a-luck alone and save his money he'd be able to dress
better'n Gen. Grant."

"Gen. Grant's no great shakes as a dresser," returned the other. "I was
never so surprised in my life as one day when I was Orderly at Division
Headquarters, and a short man with a red beard, and his clothes
spattered with mud, rode up, followed by one Orderly, and said,
'Orderly, tell the General that Gen. Grant would like to see him.' By
looking hard I managed to make out three stars on his shoulder. Why, if
Gen. McClellan had been coming you'd have seen him for a mile before he
got there."

"If Gen. Grant put on as much style in proportion to what he done as
McClellan, you could see him as far as the moon," ventured Shorty.

"Well, we're not gettin' to the rijimint," said the impatient Si. "Le's
rack on. So long, Orderly. Come and see us in the 200th Injianny and
we'll treat you white. Forward, march!"

"There's a couple of boys comin' up the road. Probably they kin tell us
where the rijimint is," suggested Shorty.

The two boys were evidently recruits of some months' standing, but not
yet considered seasoned soldiers.

"No," they said, "there is no 200th Ind. here now. It was here
yesterday, and was camped right over there, where you see that old camp,
but before noon came an order to march with three days' rations and 40
rounds. It went out the Lafayette Road, and the boys seemed to think
they wuz goin' out to Pigeon Mountain to begin the general advance o'
the army, and wuz mightily tickled over it."

"Gone away," said Si, scanning the abandoned camp sadly; "everybody
couldn't have gone. They must've left somebody behind that wasn't able
to travel, and somebody to take care o' 'em. They must've left some
rijimintal stuff behind and a guard over it."

"No," the boys assured him. "They broke up camp completely. All that
wasn't able to march was sent to the hospital in Chattynoogy. Every
mite of stuff was loaded into wagons and hauled off with 'em. They never
expected to come back."

"That camp ground don't look as it'd bin occupied for two weeks," said
Shorty. "See the ruts made by the rain in the parade ground and the
general look o' things. I don't believe the rijimint only left there
yisterday. It don't look as if the 200th Injianny ever had sich a camp.
It's more like one o' the camps o' them slack-twisted Kaintucky and
Tennessee rijimints."

"If Oi didn't belave that Si Klegg and Sharty was did intoirely, and up
home in Injianny, Oi'd be sure that was their v'ices," said a voice from
the thicket by the side of the road. The next instant a redheaded man,
with a very distinct map of Ireland in his face, leaped out, shouting:

"Si and Sharty, ye thieves of the worruld, whin did ye get back, and how
are yez? Howly saints, but Oi'm glad to see yez."

"Jim Monaghan, you old Erin-go-bragh," said Shorty, putting his arm
around the man's neck, "may I never see the back o' my neck, but I'm
glad to see you. I was just talkin' about you. I thought I recognized
you over there in one of the camps, at your favorite occupation of extry
dooty, cleanin' up the parade ground."

"No; Oi've not bin on extry doty for narely two wakes now, but it's
about due. But here comes Barney Maguire and Con Taylor, Tony Wilson and
the rest iv the gang. Lord love yez, but they'll be surely glad to see
yez."

The others came up with a tumultuous welcome to both.

"Where's the camp?" asked Si.

"Jist bey ant--jist bey ant them cedars there--not a musket-shot away,"
answered Jim, pointing to the place.

"What'd you mean, you infernal liars, by tellin' us that the rijimint
was gone?" said Shorty, wrathfully to the men whom he had met, and who
were still standing near, looking puzzled at the demonstrations.

"Aisy, now, aisy," said Jim. "We're to blame for that, so we are. Ye
say, we wint over by Rossville last night and had a bit av a shindy and
cleaned out a sutler's shop. We brought away some av the most illegant
whisky that iver wet a man's lips, and hid it down there in the gulch,
where we had jist come back for it. We sane you comin' and thought yez
was the provo-guard after us. Ye say ye stopped there and talked to that
peacock at the Provo-Marshal's quarters, and we thought yez was gittin'
instructions. We sint these rookies out, who we thought nobody'd know,
to give you a little fairy story about the rijimint being gone, to throw
you off the scint, until we could finish the liquor."

"Yes, I know," laughed Shorty, "after you'd got the budge down you
didn't care what happened. You're the same old brick-topped Connaught
Ranger."

"You and Si come down into the gulch and jine us."

"Can't think of it for a minute," said Shorty with great self-denial.
"Don't speak so loud before these boys. They're recruits for the
rijimint. We must take 'em into camp. We'll see you later."



CHAPTER IV. THE RECRUITS ARE ASSIGNED TO COMPANIES.

THE strangest feeling possessed Si and Shorty when once in the camp of
their old regiment, and after the first hearty welcome of their comrades
was over.

There was a strangeness about everything that they could not comprehend.

It was their regiment--the 200th Ind.; it was made up of the same
companies, with the great majority of the men the same, but it was very
far from being the 200th Ind. which crossed the Ohio River in September,
1862.

Marvelous changes had been wrought by 18 months' tuition in the iron
school of war, in the 10 separate herds of undisciplined farmer boys
which originally constituted the regiment. Yellow, downy beards appeared
on faces which had been of boyish smoothness when the river was crossed,
but this was only one of the minor changes. There was an alertness,
a sureness, a self-confidence shining from eyes which was even more
marked. Every one carried himself as if he knew precisely what he was
there for, and intended doing it. There was enough merriment around
camp, but it was very different from the noisy rollicking of the earlier
days. The men who had something to do were doing it with systematic
earnestness; the men who had nothing to do were getting as much solid
comfort and fun as the situation afforded. The frothy element among
officers and men had been rigorously weeded out or repressed. All that
remained were soldiers in the truest sense of the word. The change had
been very great even since the regiment had lined up for the fearful
ordeal of Chickamauga.

"Did you ever see a gang o' half-baked kids get to be men as quick as
these boys?" Si asked Shorty. "Think o' the awkward squads that used
to be continually fallin' over their own feet, and stabbing theirselves
with their own bayonets."

"Seems so," answered Shorty, "but I don't know that they've growed any
faster'n we have. Walt Slusser, who's bin Orderly at Headquarters, says
that he heard Capt. McGillicuddy tell Col. McBiddle that he'd never seen
men come out as me and you had, and he thought we'd make very effective
noncommish."

"Probably we've all growed," Si assented thoughtfully. "Just think o'
McBiddle as Lieutenant-Colonel, in place o' old Billings. Remember the
first time we saw McBiddle to know him? That time he was Sergeant o' the
Guard before Perryville, and was so gentle and soft-spoken that lots
o' the boys fooled themselves with the idee that he lacked sand. Same
fellers thought that old bellerin' bull Billings was a great fightin'
man. What chumps we all wuz that we stood Billings a week."

"Wonder if I'm ever goin' to have a chanst for a little private
sociable with Billings? Just as I think I'm goin' to have it, something
interferes. That feller's bin so long ripe for a lickin' that I'm afraid
he'll be completely spiled before my chanst comes."

"But I can't git over missin' so many familiar voices in command, and
hearin' others in their places," said Si. "That battalion drill they
wuz havin' as we come in didn't sound like our rijimint at all. I could
always tell which was our rijimint drillin' half a mile away by the
sound of the voices. What a ringin' voice Capt. Scudder had. It beat
the bugle. You could hear him sing out, 'Co. C, on right, into line!
Forward, guide right--March!' farther'n you could the bugle. The last
time I heard him wuz as we wuz' going up Snodgrass Hill. A rebel bullet
went through his head just as he said, 'March!' Now, Lieut. Scripps is
in command o' Co. C, and he's got a penny-whistle voice that I can't git
used to."

"Lieut. Scripps's a mighty good man. He'll take Co. C as far as Capt.
Scudder would."

"I know that Scripps's all right. No discount on him. But it don't seem
natural, that's all. Every one o' the companies except ours has a
new man in command, and in ours Capt. McGillicuddy's voice has got a
different ring to it than before Chickamaugy."

"Practicin' to command the battalion," suggested Shorty. "You know he'll
be Major if McBiddle's made a full Kurnel."

"That reminds me," said Shorty, "that our squad o' recruits'll probably
fill up the rijimint so's to give McBiddle his eagle. They'll be 'round
presently to divide up the squad and assign 'em to companies. As all the
companies is about equally strong, they'll divide 'em equally--that'll
make six and one-half boys to each company. Capt. McGillicuddy bein' the
senior Captain, is to have first choice. We want to pick out the best
six and one-half for our company and put 'em in one squad at the right
or left, and give the Captain the wink to choose 'em."

"If we do it's got to be done mighty slick," said Si. "They're all
mighty good boys, and spunky. They'll all want to go with us, and if
they find out we've made any choice they'll never forgive us. I'd a'most
as soon have one six boys as another, yit if I had to pick out six I
believe I'd take Harry Joslyn, Gid Mackall, Alf Russell, Monty Scruggs,
Jim Humphreys and Sandy Baker."

"And Pete Skidmore," added Shorty. "We've got to take special care o'
that little rat. Besides, I want to. Somehow I've took quite a fancy to
the brat."

"Yes, we must take little Pete," assented Si. "The proportion's six and
one-half to a company. He 'll pass for the half man. But it won't do to
let him know it. He thinks he's as big as any man in the rijimint. But
how're we goin' to fix it not to let the other boys know that we've
picked 'em out?"

"I'll tell you what we'll do," said Shorty, the man of many wiles. "When
the boys are drawed up in line and Capt. McGillicuddy goes down it to
pick 'em out, you stand at attention, two paces in front, facin' 'em
and lookin' as severe and impartial as a judge on the bench. I'll stand
behind you with my leg against your'n, this way, and apparently fixing
my gun-lock. When Cap comes in front o' one that we want, yo give me a
little hunch with your leg, and I'll make the lock click."

"Splendid idee," said Si. "I'll go and post the Cap while you git the
boys into line."

When Shorty returned to the squad he found them in feverish excitement
about the distribution to the different companies. As he and Si had
apprehended, all were exceedingly anxious to go with them into Co. Q,
which Si and Shorty had unwittingly impressed upon them was the crack
company of the regiment, and contained the very cream of the men. To
be assigned to any other company seemed to them, if not an actual
misfortune, a lack of good luck.

"Nonsense," Shorty replied to their eager entreaties; "all the companies
in the 200th Injianny is good, prime, first-class--better'n the
companies in ary other rijimint. You're playin' in great luck to git
into any one o' 'em, I tell you. You might've got into one o' 'em
rijimints that're back there at Nashville guardin' fortifications, or
one o' 'em that lost their colors at Chickamaugy. I'd ruther be the tail
end o' the 200th Injianny, than the Drum Major o' any other."

"That's all right," they shouted. "We're glad we're in the 200th
Injianny, but we want to be in Co. Q."

"Well, you can't all be in Co. Q. Only six and one-half of you. The
rest's got to go to other companies."

"Say, Corpril," spoke up Harry Joslyn, "you'll see that I git in, won't
you? You know I shot that rebel at the burnt bridge."

"And didn't I shoot one, too?" put in Gid Mackall. "Just as much as you
did. They want tall men in the company, don't they, Corpril? Not little
runts."

"And didn't I watch the crossing down there at the burnt bridge?"
pleaded Jim Humphreys.

"And git scared to death by a nigger huntin' coons," laughed the
others.

"Who kept the rebel from gittin' back to the train and settin' it on
fire, but me and Sandy Baker?" piped up little Pete Skidmore. "Who got
lost, and nearly killed by a locomotive. Don't that count for nothin'?"

[Illustration: YOU'VE LOST LITTLE PETE 51]

"Boys," said Shorty, leaning on his musket, and speaking with the utmost
gravity, "this's a great military dooty and must be performed without
fear, favor nor affection. I'd like to have you all in Co. Q, but this's
a thing 'bout which I hain't got no say. There's a great many things
in the army 'bout which a Corpril hain't as much inflooence as he orter
have, as you'll find out later on. Here comes the Captain o' Co. Q, who,
because o' his rank, has the first pick o' the recruits. He's never seen
you before, and don't know one o' you from Adam's off-ox. He has his own
ideas as to who he wants in the company, and what he says goes. It may
be that the color o' your hair'll decide him, mebbe the look in your
eyes, mebbe the shape o' your noses. 'Tention! Right dress! Front!
Saloot!"

Capt. McGillicuddy came down at the head of the company officers of the
regiment, and took a comprehensive survey of the squad.

"Fine-looking lot of youngsters," he remarked. "They'll make good
soldiers."

"Every one o' them true-blue, all wool and a yard wide. Captain," said
Si.

"You'll play fair, now, Captain, won't you, and choose for yourself?"
said Capt. Scripps. "I've no doubt they're all good boys, but there's
a choice in good boys, and that Sergeant of yours has learned where the
choice is. You let him stay back, while you go down the line yourself."

"Certainly," replied Capt. McGillicuddy. "Serg't Klegg, stay where you
are."

Si saluted and took his position, facing the line, with a look of calm
impartiality upon his face. Shorty turned around and backed up to him so
that the calves of their legs touched, and began intently studying his
gunlock.

Capt. McGillicuddy stepped over to the right of the line stopped in
front of Harry Joslyn and Gid Mackall. Shorty full-cocked his gun with
two sharp clicks.

"You two step forward one pace," said Capt. McGillicuddy to the two
radiant boys, who obeyed with a jump. The Captain walked on down the
line, carefully scrutinizing each one, but did not stop until Shorty's
gun clicked twice, when he was in front of Alf Russell and Monty
Scruggs.

"Step forward one pace," he commanded.

He proceeded on down the line until he came in front of Jim Humphreys
and Sandy Baker, when Shorty's gun clicked again.

"You two step forward one pace," he commanded. "Gentleman, I've got my
six. The rest are yours."

"But you hain't got me. You've lost me," screamed Pete Skidmore,
dismayed at being separated from Sandy Baker. Shorty's gun clicked
again.

"I believe that there is a fraction of a half a man to be distributed
around," the Captain said, turning to the other officers. "We agreed
to draw cuts for that choice. But as that's the smallest boy in the lot
I'll take him for my fraction. I think that's fair. Step forward, there,
you boy on the left."

"All right Captain," laughed Capt. Scripps. "You've got the pick of the
men, and I'm glad of it.

"I know you have, for I've been watching that Corporal of yours. I know
him of old. I've played cards too often with Shorty not to keep my eye
on him whenever he is around. I saw through that gun-lock trick."

"The trouble with you fellows," responded Capt. McGillicuddy, "is that
you are constantly hunting around for some reason rather than the real
one for Co. Q being always ahead of you. It isn't my fault that Co. Q
is the best company in the regiment. It simply comes natural to the men
that make up the company. You gentlemen divide up the rest among you,
and then come down to the sutler's and we'll talk the matter over.
Serg't Klegg, take these men down to the company and have the Orderly
provide for them."

"Hello, awful glad to see you back--and you, too, Shorty," said the busy
Orderly-Sergeant, speaking in his usual short, snappy sentences, without
using any more words than absolutely necessary. "We need you. Short of
non-commish. Two Sergeants off on detached duty and two Corporals in
hospital. Being worked for all we're worth. Both of you look fine. Had
a nice, long rest. In great shape for work. Pitch in, now, and help me.
First, let's get the names of these kids on the roll. Humphreys--we've
got two other Humphreys, so you'll answer to Humphreys, 3d.

"But I don't want to be with the Humphreys, sir," broke in Jim. "Me and
Monty Scruggs--"

"Hold your tongue," said the Orderly sharply. "Don't interrupt me. If
you speak when you're spoken to you'll do all the talking expected of
you.

"Joslyn, you're after Jones, 3d. M--M--Mackall, you come after Lawrence."

"But you've put me after Joslyn," protested Gid. "He's never ahead of
me."

"Shut up," answered the Orderly. "I do the talking for this company.
Russell, Scruggs, Skidmore; there, I've got 'em all down. Si, go down
toward Co. A and find Bill Stiles and walk him up to the guard-tent and
leave him there to cool off. He's got his hide full of coffin varnish
somewhere, and of course wants to settle an old score with that Co. A
man, who'll likely knock his head off if he catches him. Shorty, go back
there to the cook tent and shake up those cooks. Give it to them, for
they're getting lazier every day. I want supper ready as soon's we
come off dress parade. Here, you boys, trot along after me to the
Quartermaster's tent, and draw your blankets, tents, haversacks and
canteens. Shorty, as soon's you're through with the cooks, go to the
left of the company and start to fixing up a place for these boys'
tents. Si, get back as soon's you can, for I want you to take the squad
down after rations. Then you'll have to relieve Jake Warder as Sergeant
of the Guard, for Jake's hardly able to be around."

The Orderly strode off toward the Quartermaster's tent at such a pace
that it gave the boys all they could do to keep up with him. Arriving
there he called out sharply to the Quartermaster-Sergeant:

"Wes, give me seven blankets."

That official responded by tossing the required number, one after
another, counting them as he did so. As the Orderly caught them he
tossed them to the boys, calling their names. Gid Mackall happened to be
looking at a battery of artillery when his name was called, and received
the blanket on the back of his neck, knocking him over.

"'Tend to your business, there; don't be gawking around," said the
Orderly sternly. "Now, Wes, seven halves of pup-tents."

These were tossed and counted the same way. Then followed canteens,
haversacks and tin plates and cups.

"Now, boys, there's your kits. Give you your guns tomorrow. Hurry back
to the company street and set up those tents on railroad time, for it's
going to rain. Jump, now."

When they reached Shorty he hustled them around to pitch their tents,
but he was not fast enough to please the Orderly, who presently
appeared, with the remark:

"Cesar's ghost. Shorty, how slow you are. Are you going to be all night
getting up two or three tents? Get a move on you, now, for there's a
rain coming up, and besides I want you for something else as soon's
you're through with this?"

"Who is that man, Corpril?" asked Monty Scruggs, as the Orderly left.

"That's the Orderly-Sergeant of Co. Q."

"Orderly-Sergeant?" repeated Monty dubiously. "Who's he? I've heard of
Captains, Majors, Colonels and Generals, but never of Orderly-Sergeants,
and yit he seems to be bigger'n all of 'em. He has more to say, and does
more orderin' around than all of 'em put together. He even orders you
and Sarjint Klegg. Is he the biggest man in the army?"

"Well, SO far's you're concerned and to all general purposes he is. You
needn't pay no partickler attention as a rule to nobody else, but when
the Orderly speaks, you jump, and the quicker you jump the better it'll
be for you. He don't draw as much salary, nor put on as many frills as
the bigger fellers, but you hain't nothin' to do with that. You kin find
fault with the Captain, criticize the Kurnel, and lampoon the General,
but you don't want to give the Orderly no slack. He's not to be fooled
with. Russell, run up there and snatch that spade to dig ditches around
these tents."

"When I enlisted," Monty confided to Alf Russell, "I thought I'd do my
best to become a Captain or a General. Now, I'm dead anxious to be an
Orderly-Sarjint."



CHAPTER V. THE YOUNG RECRUITS

ARE GIVEN AN INITIATION INTO ARMY LIFE.

BY the time Shorty had gotten the boys fairly tented, he was ordered to
take a squad and guard some stores at the Division Quartermaster's. Si,
instead of going on camp-guard, had to go out to the grand guard. When
he came back the next morning the Orderly-Sergeant said to him:

"See here, Si, you've got to take that squad of kids you brung into your
particular charge, and lick 'em into shape. They need an awful sight
of it, and I hain't got any time to give 'em. I've something else to do
besides teaching an infant class. I never was good at bringing children
up by hand, anyway. I ain't built that way. I want you to go for them
young roosters at once, and get 'em into shape in short meter. Marching
orders may come any day, and then we want everybody up and dressed.
There'll be no time for foolishness. Those dratted little rats were all
over camp last night, and into more kinds of devilment than so many pet
crows. I've been hearing about nothing else this morning."

"Why," said Si, "I supposed that they was too tired to do anything but
lay down and go to sleep. What'd they do?"

"Better ask what they didn't do," replied the Orderly. "They done
everything that a passel o' impish school boys could think of, and what
they couldn't think of them smart Alecks down in the company put 'em up
to. I'm going to put some o' them smarties through a course o' sprouts.
I like to see boys in good spirits, and I can enjoy a joke with the next
man, but there's such a thing as being too funny. I think a few hours o'
extry fatigue duty will reduce their fever for fun."

"Why, what'd they do?" repeated Si.

"Well, in the first place, they got that Joslyn and Mackall to mark a
big number 79 on their tents, and then put the same, with their names,
on a sheet of paper, and take it up to the Captain's tent.

"The Captain was having a life-and-death rassle with Cap Summerville
over their eternal chess, when he's crosser'n two sticks, and liable
to snap your head off if you interrupt him. 'Hello, what do you want?
What's this?' says he, taking the paper."

[Illustration: Them's our names and addresses 59]

"'Them's our names and addresses,' says the brats, cool as cucumbers.
Thought we ought to give 'em to you, so's you'd know where to find us,
in case you wanted us in a hurry, say, at night.'

"The blazes it is,' says Cap, and Cap Summerville roared. 'You get back
to your quarters quick as you can run. Don't worry about my not finding
you when I want you. It's my business to find you, and I've got men to
help me do it. I'll find you sometime in a way that'll make your hair
stand up. Get out, now, and never come around my tent with any such
blamed nonsense as that.'

"And Cap Somerville took advantage of the break to snap up Cap's queen,
which made him hotter'n ever.

"When the boys got back they found them smart Alecks, Bob Walsh and Andy
Sweeney, waiting for 'em, and they consoled 'em, saying, That's just the
way with that old bull-head. Never'll take no good advice from nobody
about running' the company. Thinks he knows it all. You see how he runs
the company. He haint got the addresses o' half his men this minnit, and
don't know where they are. That's the reason so many o' our letters from
home, and the good things they send us, never reach us. He ought to keep
a regler directory, same as in the other companies.'"

"Then some o' them smarties found out that Scruggs was stuck on his
spouting. Seems that he was the star declaimer in his school. They laid
it in to him that I was soft on hearing poetry spouted, especially after
night, when the moon was up, and everything quiet in camp, and that I
was particularly tender on 'Bingen on the Rhine.' You know that if there
is anything I'm dead sore on it's that sniveling rot. There used to be a
pasty-faced boy in school that'd wail that out, and set all the girls to
bawling. Then they gave us an entertainment just before we left, and all
the girls were there, and Pasty-Face he must be the star attraction.
He wailed out his condemned old There-was-a-soldier-of-the
Legion--laying-i-n-Algiers, and all the girls looked at us as if we
were already dead, and they'd better look out for new beaux. My own
particular geranium did not lose any time, but married another feller
before we got to Stone River. That made me hate the blasted caterwaul
worse'n ever. Then that white-eyed, moon-struck Alfonso used to be
yowling it at every chance, until he went to the hospital, and he got
all the rest so that they were sputtering rags and tags of it. But I've
been sorer than a bile on the condemned sick calfishness ever since I
brung my chum Jim Bridgewater off the field at Chickamauga, and watched
him die as the moon rose, back there at McFarland Gap. Well, what do
these smarties do but fill up Scruggs with the idea that the best way to
make himself forever solid with me was to stroll down close to my tent
and casually let off 'Bingen on the Rhine' in his best style. I'd just
got down to work on them pesky pay-rolls, having kept Monaghan two days
in the guard-house, so's to be sure that he'd be sober enough to help
me--and you know Monaghan's lightning with the pen when he's sober--when
that possessed sap-sucker Scruggs began blatting out 'Bingen on the
Rhine' till you could hear him down to the Colonel's quarters. It made
me so mad that I knocked over the ink as I jumped up, and spoiled the
triplicate rolls that we'd got about half made out. I snatched up a club
to simply mash the bawling brat, but they got him away before I could
reach 'im. They explained to Scruggs afterward that I was subject to
fits whenever the moon was in her last quarter, and they'd forgotten to
look at the almanac that evening. O, but I'll soak 'em for that yet."

"Trouble is," said Si, laughing, "the boys've bin layin' around doin'
nothin' too long. They're fuller o' devilment than a dog is of fleas."

"But I haint told you half," continued the Orderly-Sergeant. "Them
smarties were quick to find out that Alf Russell and Jim Humphreys
leaned strongly toward religion, and they filled 'em with the idea that
Cap McGillicuddy was a very devout man, and held family devotions every
evening in his tent, in which his company joined."

"Great goodness," gasped Si. "They never heard Cap's remarks when we
balked on a right wheel in company column."

"Well," continued the Orderly, "Cap had been waxed by Cap Summerville
two games hand-running, and they were nip-and-tuck on the third,
and just as impatient and cross as they always are when they're
neck-and-neck in the last heat. The tent-flap raised, and in walked
Russell and Humphreys soft and quietlike, as if they were going into the
sitting-room for evening prayers. They had their caps in their hands,
and didn't say anything but brushed their hair back and took their seats
in the first place they could find, which happened to be Cap's cot. Cap
didn't notice 'em till after Cap Summerville had caught his queen and
then checkmated him in two moves. You know how redhot Cap gets when he
loses a game of chess, particularly to Cap Summerville, who rubs it in
on him without mercy.

"Cap looked at the boys in astonishment, and then snapped out: 'Well,
what do you boys want?' 'We've just come in for evening prayers,' says
they, mild as skimmed milk. 'Evening what?' roared the Cap. 'Evening
prayers,' says they. 'Don't you have family devotion every evening?
Cap Summerville couldn't hold in any longer, and just roared, and the
fellers outside, who'd had their ears against the canvas listening to
every word, they roared too. Cap was madder'n a July hornet, and cussed
till the ridgepole shook. Then he took the two boys by the ears and
marched 'em out and says: 'You two brats go back to your tents and stay
there. When I want you to come to my tent I'll send for you, and you'll
wish I hadn't. You'll do praying enough if you're on hand when the
church call's sounded. You'll be mightily different from the rest of my
company if you don't prefer going on guard to church. Get, now!'"

"Now the Captain oughtn't to say that about the company," protested Si.
"I for one go to church every chance I get."

"O, yes, you do," sneered the Orderly-Sergeant. "Who was it, I'd like
to know, that sent word back to the boys in the rear to steal the
Chaplain's horse, and keep him hid for a day or two so's he couldn't
get up and hold services, because you boys wanted to go fishing in the
Tennessee River?"

"Yes, I did," Si confessed; "but it was because the boys begged me to.
We'd just got there, and it looked as if the biting was good, and we
probably wouldn't stay there longer'n over Sunday."

"Well, I ain't done yet," continued the Orderly-Sergeant. "That little
snipe, Pete Skidmore--"

"Good gracious, he wasn't lost again, was he?" gasped Si.

"That's just what he was, the little runt, and we had the devil's own
time finding him. What in Sam Hill did the Captain take him for, I'd
like to know? Co. Q aint no nursery. Well, the bugler up at Brigade
Headquarters blowed some sort of a call, and Skidmore wanted to know
what it meant. They told him that it was an order for the youngest
man in each company to come up there and get some milk for his coffee
tomorrow morning, and butter for his bread. There was only enough issued
for the youngest boys, and if he wanted his share he'd have to get a big
hustle on him, for the feller whose nose he'd put out o' joint 'd try
hard to get there ahead o' him, and get his share. So Skidmore went off
at a dead run toward the sound of the bugle, with the boys looking after
him and snickering. But he didn't come back at roll-call, nor at tattoo,
and the smart Alecks begun to get scared, and abuse each other for
setting up a job on a poor, innocent little boy. Osc Brewster and Ol
Perry, who had been foremost in the trick had a fight as to which had
been to blame. Taps come, and he didn't get back, and then we all became
scared. I'd sent Jim Hunter over to Brigade Headquarters to look for
him, but he came back, and said they hadn't seen anything of him there.
Then I turned out the whole company to look for him. Of course, them
too-awfully smart galoots of Co. A had to get very funny over our
trouble. They asked why we didn't get the right kind of nurses for our
company, that wouldn't let the members stray out of their sight? Why
we didn't call the children in when the chickens went to roost, undress
'em, and tuck 'em in their little beds, and sing to 'em after they'd
said 'Now I lay me down to sleep?' I stood it all until that big,
hulking Pete Nasmith came down with a camp-kettle, which he was making
ring like a bell, as he yelled out, 'Child lost! Child lost!' Behind
him was Tub Rawlings singing, 'Empty's the cradle, baby's gone.' Then I
pulled off my blouse and slung it into my tent, and told 'em there went
my chevrons, and I was simply Scott Ralston, and able to lick any man in
Co. A. One o' their Lieutenants came out and ordered them back to their
quarters, and I deployed the company in a skirmish-line, and started 'em
through the brush toward Brigade Headquarters. About three-quarters o'
the way Osc Brewster and Ol Perry, when going through a thicket, heard
a boy boo-hooing. They made their way to him, and there was little
Skidmore sitting on a stump, completely confused and fagged out. He'd
lost his way, and the more he tried to find it the worse he got turned
around. They called out to him, and he blubbered out: 'Yes, it's me;
little Pete Skidmore. Them doddurned fools in my company 've lost me,
just as I've bin tellin' 'em right along they would, durn 'em.' Osc and
Ol were so tickled at finding him that they gathered him up, and come
whooping back to camp, carrying him every step of the way."

"Well, I declare to gracious," ejaculated Si. "But there's one left yet.
Didn't anything happen to Sandy Baker?"

"O, yes," groaned the Orderly. "He had to be in it, too. He took
advantage of the tumult to fall into the company well. We didn't know
anything about it till we come back from hunting Skidmore. By that time
he was so chilled that he could hardly holler any more, and his teeth
chattered like a nigger minstrel's bones. I'd got a can of brandied
peaches down at the sutler's, and it took all the brandy to bring him
around, and I had nothing left but the peaches. Now, while I like a
little variety in camp-life as well as the next man, I don't want no
more ructions like last night's. I'll put you in charge of those kids,
and hold you responsible for 'em. I don't care what you do with 'em, so
long's you keep 'em quiet, and don't disturb the company. Kill 'em, if
you want to, but keep 'em quiet. I've got to finish up them pay-rolls
tonight."

"You bet me and Shorty'll stop these smart Alecks from imposin' on the
poor little greenies," asserted Si.



CHAPTER VI. SI KLEGG PUTS HIS AWKWARD SQUAD THROUGH ITS FIRST DRILL

"I GUESS," thought Si, as he left the Orderly-Sergeant, and walked down
the company street to the left, "that the best way to begin is to get
them little whelps into an awkward squad, and give 'em an hour or two o'
sharp drillin'. That'll introduce 'em to the realities o' soljerin'."

It was a warm, bright March day, with the North Georgia mountains
rapidly robing themselves in fresh green, to welcome the coming Spring.
The effervescent boys had entirely forgotten the worries of the previous
night, and were frolicking in the bright sunshine as if "out-at-recess"
from school.

Mackall, Joslyn, Humphreys and Baker had gotten hold of a ball, and
were having a game of "two-cornered cat," with noise enough for a whole
school play-ground. Russell and Scruggs were running a foot-race, for
the entertainment of a squad of cooks and teamsters, and little Pete
Skidmore was giving an exhibition before the same audience of his
ability to stand on his head, and turn somersaults.

"Little thought they have of the seriousness of war," thought Si, with a
shrug of his shoulders, as he yelled out:

"Come, boys, fall in here."

When the boys had first come under Si's command they regarded him as one
of the greatest men in the army. In their shadowy notions of military
matters they rather thought that he stood next to the great Generals
whose names filled all mouths. These ideas had been toppled into dust
by their arrival in camp, and seeing so many different men order him
around. They felt ashamed of themselves that they had ever mistaken
him for a great man, and put him up on a pedestal. That is the way with
boys. They resent nothing more sharply than the thought of their having
been deceived into honoring somebody or something unworthy of honor.
They can stand anything better than a reflection upon their shrewdness
and judgment.

"Hear Klegg a-calling?" said Joslyn, pausing for an instant, with the
ball in his hand.

"Let him call," said Mackall, indifferently, finishing his run to
base. "He ain't big boss no more. He's only the lowest Sergeant in the
company. Throw the ball, Harry. You must do better'n you've been doing.
We're getting away with you."

"Fall in here, boys, I tell you," said Si so sternly that Pete Skidmore
stopped in his handspring, but seeing the bigger boys making no move
to obey, decided that it would be improper for him to show any signs of
weakness, and he executed his flip-flap.

"Here, you're out, Gid. Gi' me the bat," shouted Harry Joslyn, as he
caught the ball which Mackall had vainly struck at.

Si strode over to the group, snatched the bat from Harry's hand, spanked
him with it, and started for the others of the group.

"Say, you musn't hit that boy," exclaimed Gid, jumping on Si's back. Gid
was as ready to fight for Harry as to fight with him. The others rushed
up, school boy like, to defend their companion against "the man," and
little Pete Skidmore picked up a stone and adjusted it for throwing.

"Why, you little scamps you," gasped Si in amazement. "What'd you mean?
Ain't you goin' to obey my orders?"

"You haint no right to give us orders no more," asserted Humphreys,
flourishing his bat defiantly. "You're only an enlisted man, same as
the rest o' us. They told us so, last night, and that we mustn't let
you impose on us, as you'd bin doin'. Only the Captain and the Colonel
command us. We've bin posted. And if you dare hit any o' us we'll all
jump on you and maul your head offen you."

The rest looked approval of Jim's brave words.

"We're goin' to strike for our altars and our fires. Strike for the
green graves of our sires. God and our native land," declaimed Monty
Scruggs.

The waspish little mutiny was so amusing that Si had to smile in spite
of himself. With a quick, unexpected movement he snatched the bat from
Jim Humphreys' hand, and said good-humoredly:

"Now, boys, you mustn't make fools of yourselves agin'. Stop this
nonsense at once, I tell you. I'm just as much your commandin' officer
as I ever was."

"How can you be a commanding officer, when everybody else bosses you
about?" persisted the argumentative Monty Scruggs. "Everybody that comes
near you orders you around, just the same as you used to us, and you
mind 'em. That ain't no way for a commanding officer. We don't want
anybody bossing us that everybody else bosses."

"Well, that's the way o' the army," Si explained patiently, "and
you've got to git used to it. 'Most everybody bosses somebody else. The
President tells Gen. Grant what he wants done. Gen. Grant orders Gen,
Thomas to do it. Gen. Thomas orders a Major-General. The Major-General
orders a Brigadier-General. The Brigadier-General orders our Colonel.
Our Colonel orders Cap McGillicuddy. Cap McGillicuddy orders the
Orderly-Sarjint, the Orderly-Sarjint orders me, and I command you."

"Why, it's worse'n 'The-House-That-Jack-Built,'" said Monty Scruggs.

"Well, you needn't learn all of it," said Si. "It's enough for you to
know that I command you. That's the A B C of the business, and all you
need know. A man in the army gits into trouble offen by knowin' too
much. You git it well into your craws that I command you, and that
you've got to do just as I say, and I'll do the rest o' the knowin' that
you need.--"

"But how're we to know that you're right every time," argued Monty
Scruggs.

"Well," explained the patient Si, "if you've any doubts, go to the
Orderly-Sarjint. If he don't satisfy you, go to the Captain. If you have
doubts about him, carry it to the Colonel. If you're still in doubt,
refer it to the Brigadier-General, then to the Major-General, to Gen.
Thomas, Gen. Grant, and lastly to the President of the United States."

"Great goodness!" they gasped.

"But the less you bother your heads with Captains and Curnels and
Generals the better you'll git along. The feller that's right over
you--in arm's length o' you all the time--is the feller that you've got
to look out for sharply. I'm him. Now I want you to form in two ranks
quicker'n scat, and 'tend to business. I'm goin' to drill you. Gid
Mackall, take your place there. Harry Joslyn, stand behind him."

The old squabbles as to precedence immediately broke out between Gid and
Harry, which Si impatiently ended by snatching Harry by the collar
and yanking him behind Gid, with the wrathful Harry protesting that he
intended carrying the matter up through the whole military hierarchy,
even to the President of the United States, if necessary. He did not
come into the army to be run over.

"You came into the army to do just as I tell you, and you'll do it.
Silence in the ranks," commanded Si. "Humphreys, stand next to Mackall.
Scruggs, stand behind Humphreys."

"Why do you put one man behind another?" queried Monty Scruggs. "I don't
think that's right.--Jim's big head'll be forever in my way, so's I
can't see anything. Why don't you put us out in one line, like a class
in school? Then everybody's got the same show."

"I didn't make the tactics. Git into your places," snapped Si.

"Well, I don't think much of a teacher that can't explain what he's
teaching," mumbled Monty, as he reluctantly obeyed.

"Now, Russell, stand next to Humphreys; Baker, stand behind Russell;
Skidmore, stand next to Russell."

"Goody, I'm in the front rank," giggled little Pete, and Harry Joslyn
looked as if here was another case of favoritism that he would have to
call the President's attention to.

"Now," commanded Si, "put your heels together, turn your toes out, stand
erect, draw your stomachs in--"

[Illustration: "DRAW YOUR STOMACHS IN. 73]

"Look here, Jim Humphreys," grumbled Monty Scruggs, "when he told you to
draw your stomach in he didn't mean for you to stick your hips out till
you bumped me over into the next Township. I've got to have room to
stand here, as well as you."

"Silence in the ranks," commanded Si. "Draw your stomachs in, put your
little fingers down to the seams of your pantaloons--"

"You mean the middle finger, don't you?" queried Monty Scruggs. "That's
more natural way of standing."

"No, I mean the little finger," asserted Si.

"But the middle finger is more natural," persisted Monty. "You can't
stand straight with your little finger at the seam. See here."

"Scruggs, do as I say, without no words," said Si, and then Monty's face
took on an expression of determination to carry the matter to a higher
court.

"Now, keep your faces straight to the front, and at the command 'Right
dress!' turn your eyes, without moving your heads, until you kin see the
buttons on the breast of the second man to the right. 'Right dress!'"

"There's no man on my right for me to look toward. What 'm I to do?"
complained Gid Mackall.

"There, you see what come o' putting him in front," exulted Harry
Joslyn. "Now, if I'd bin--"

"Say, I can't see up to Jim Humphreys' big breast without twistin' my
neck nearly off," murmured little Pete Skidmore. "Can't you make him
scrooch a little? Jest see him swell up."

"What's the use o' linin' on a feller that can't stand still a second?"
complained the others.

"Great Scott, what a line," groaned Si, walking along, shoving the boys
back, and twisting them around, to get them straight. "Crooked as a
pumpkin vine in a cornfield. Here, I told you not to turn your heads,
but only your eyes. If you snipes wouldn't gab so much, but listen to
what I say, you'd git along better. Silence in ranks. Now, try it over
again. Faces straight to the front. Eyes cast to the right, until they
catch the buttons on the breast of the second man. Right dress!"

"Great grief," sighed he, looking at the result. "You wriggle about like
so many eels. Might as well try to line up so many kittens. Won't you
straighten Up and keep straight?" Then came a renewal of the noisy
discussion, with mutual blaming of one another.

Si picked up a stick and drew a line in the ground. "Now bring your toes
to that line, and keep 'em there."

"Shall we take that scratch along with us as we march, or will you draw
another one for us as we need it?" Monty Scruggs asked, at which the
other boys laughed, which did not improve Si's temper. It was long, hard
work before he got the restless, talkative young fellows so that they
would form a fairly straight line, and maintain it for a minute or two.

He looked at them, wiped his perspiring brow, and remarked internally:

"Well, I thought them was bright boys, that it'd be no trouble to drill.
I'd ruther break in the stoonidest lot o' hayseeds that ever breathed,
rather than boys that think they know more'n I do. Now I'm goin' to have
the time o' my life learnin' 'em the right face."

He began the explanation of that complicated manuver:

"Now, I want every one o' you to stop talkin', gether up them
scatter-fire brains o' your'n, and pay strict 'tention to every word I
say--"

"Harry Joslyn," broke in Gid, "if you tramp on my heels just one more
time, I'll knock your head off. I've told you often enough."

"Well, you just keep off en my toes with them rockgrinders o' your'n,"
Harry retorted.

"Silence in ranks," commanded Si. "Each rank will count twos."

"What are twos? Where are they, and how many of 'em do you want us to
count?" asked Monty Scruggs, at which the other boys snickered. They
were getting very tired of the drill, and in the humor to nag and balk
the drillmaster. Si lost a trifle of his temper, and said:

"You're too all-fired smart with your tongue, Scruggs. If you were only
half as smart learnin' your business--"

"Sergeant," said one of the Lieutenants who happened to be passing,
"keep your temper. You'll get along better. Don't squabble with your
men."

This made the boys much worse.

"What I mean by countin' twos," explained Si, "is that the man on the
right in each rank shall count one, the next one, two; the next one, one
and so on. Count twos!"

They made such an exasperating muddle of it, that Si almost had a fit.
The cooks, teamsters and other hangers-on saw the trouble and came
flocking around with all manner of jesting remarks and laughter, which
strained Si's temper to the utmost, and encouraged the boys in their
perversity. Si curbed himself down, and laboriously exemplified the
manner of counting until the boys had no excuse for not understanding
it.

"Now, said he, at the command 'Right face,' the No. 1 man in the front
rank faces to the right and stand fast--"

"What do the rest of us do?" they chorused.

"The rest o' you chase yourselves around him," said a humorist among the
cooks, while the others laughed uproariously.

"Shut up, you pot-wrastlers," said Si wrathfully. "If I hear another
word from you, I'll light into you with a club. Now you brats--"

"Sergeant," admonished the Lieutenant, "you mustn't use such language to
your men."

This made Si angrier, and the boys more cantankerous. Si controlled
himself to go on with his explanations in a calm tone:

"No 1 in the front rank will face to the right, and stand fast, and take
a side step to the right. Each No. 2 will face to the right, and take on
oblique side step to the right to place himself on the right hand of his
No. 1 man."

"Say that all again, Sergeant," asked Monty Scruggs.

Si patiently repeated the explanation.

"Now sing it to the tune of 'When this Cruel War is Over,' called out
the cook-humorist.

"Right face," commanded Si.

A roar went up from the camp-follower audience at the hopeless tangle
which ensued. No two of the boys seemed to have done the same thing.
Several had turned to the left, and all were sprinting around in
various ways in a more or less genuine pretense of executing the order.
Meanwhile the news that Si's squad of recruits were having fun with him
spread through the camp, and a crowd gathered to watch the performance
and give their jeering advice in that characteristic soldierly way when
they see a comrade wrestling with a perplexing job.

"Git a bushel basket, and gather 'em up in it."

"Tie straw around their left feet, and hay around their right ones, so's
they'll know 'em."

"Back 'em up agin' a rail fence and git 'em into line;" were among the
freely offered suggestions. Si was sweating all over, and so angry
that he had to stolidly bite his words off, one at a time, to keep from
showing his temper. To add to his troubles, he saw the Colonel, of whom
he stood in proper awe, become interested in the crowd and the shouting,
and stroll down from his tent to see what the excitement was.

"As you were," Si commanded, steadying his voice with a great effort.
"Every one of you git back as I placed you. Right dress!"

To his wonderment they formed as good a line as veterans could have
done. They heard a whisper that the Colonel was coming, and it sobered
them.

"Right face!" commanded Si.

They all faced to the right and stepped into their places without an
error.

"Front!" commanded Si, and they returned to two ranks.

"Ah, Sergeant," said the Colonel, kindly, as he made his way through the
respectfully opened, saluting crowd. "Giving your men their first drill,
are you? Well, you are getting along remarkably well for recruits. I saw
that last movement, and it was very well done, indeed. You've got some
very nice-looking boys there, and I think they'll be a credit to the
regiment."

"Saved by the skin o' my teeth," gasped Si to himself, as the Colonel
strolled on. "Now, you young roosters, I see that you kin do it whenever
you want to, and you've got to want to after this. A boy that don't want
to I'll take down to the branch there, and hold his head under water
till he does want to. I'm goin' to stay with you until you learn the
drill dead letter perfect. You can't git rid of me. You'll save
trouble by rememberin' that. Now we'll go back for supper. Right
face--forward--file left--March!"



CHAPTER VII. SHORTY'S HEART TURNS TOWARD MARIA

AND HE FINALLY GETS A LETTER FROM HER.

AFTER the flush of excitement of returning to his old regiment and
meeting his comrades--after the process of readjusting himself to the
changed relations made by death, wounds, discharges, resignations and
promotions--after the days had brought a settling back into the
old routine of camp-life, there developed in Shorty's heart growing
homesickness for Maria Klegg.

At least that was what it seemed to him. He did not exactly know what
homesickness was from personal experience, as he had never really had
a home. But he had seen thousands of boys more or less affected by that
obscure but stubborn and dangerous malady, and had noted their symptoms,
which strongly resembled his own.

Somehow, the sun only shone with real brightness and warmth over the
pleasant homes and fertile fields of Posey County, Ind. Somehow, women
had a fairness and sweetness there denied to their sex elsewhere, and
somehow the flower of them all was a buxom maiden of 20 dwelling under
the roof of Deacon Klegg.

Shorty appreciated very properly the dignity and responsibilities of his
two stripes. He was going to be the model Corporal of the regiment, and
give all the rest a copy which they could follow to advantage. Of all
the Corporals he had ever known, Si Klegg had come nearest his ideas as
to what a Corporal should be, but even Si had his limitations. He would
show him some improvements. So shorty bent his mind upon the performance
of everything pertaining to the Corporalcy with promptness and zeal.
He even set to studying the Regulations and Tactics--at least those
paragraphs relating to Corporals and their duties--where heretofore
he had despised "book-soldiering," and relied on quick observation and
"horse sense" to teach him all that was worth knowing. But his stay in
the Deacon's home showed him that they esteemed "book-knowledge" even in
common things as of much value, and he began to have a new respect for
that source of instruction.

Even through the pressure of official duties and responsibilities there
would steal, like the wafting of a sweet song to the ears of the reapers
in a hot field, thoughts of the coolness, the beauty and the peace of
that quiet home on the Wabash, with one flower-faced girl, with white,
soft arms, going about her daily tasks, singing with such blithe
cheeriness that even the birds stopped to listen to a sweeter note than
theirs. Some subtle fragrance from her seemed to be with him wherever
he was, and whatever he might be doing. When, as the tallest Corporal in
Co. Q, he stood on the right of the company, on drill and dress parade,
and made the others "dress" on him, he wished that Maria Klegg could
only see how straight the line was, and how soldierly the boys looked.
When the Colonel personally selected him to command the squad which
was to escort the Paymaster through a dangerous part of the country, he
would have given much had Maria known of the trust reposed in him. And
when, as Corporal of the Guard, he suppressed in his usual summary way a
noisy row among the teamsters and cooks, he was very glad that Maria did
not hear the remarks that a Corporal always thinks necessary to make on
such occasions. Shorty did not swear with the fluent ease of before
his visit to the Klegg homestead, but a little excitement gave the old
looseness to his tongue. And when he sat around the guard-fire, he would
refuse to be drawn into any "little games," but turn his back upon the
chattering crowd, and furtively draw from his breast-pocket the remnant
of Maria's dress, and feel it, and muse over it, until aroused by the
call:

"Corporal of the Guard, Post No. 14. I want a drink o' water."

Shorty began to watch for Si's mail a good deal more anxiously than that
worthy did. He managed to go by the Chaplain's tent whenever duty took
him in that part of the camp, and sometimes when it did not, and inquire
if there was any mail there for Si. One day he was rewarded by the
Chaplain handing him two letters. His heart beat a little quicker by
seeing that they were both postmarked Bean Blossom Creek. The smaller--a
white envelope, superscribed in Annabel's cramped little hand--he thrust
indifferently into his pocket, and the larger--a fat, yellow envelope,
covered with the good Deacon's massive crow-tracks, and securely
fastened by a dab of sealing wax, pressed down with a cent--he studied
with tender interest. It had come directly from her home--from her
father. It probably told something about her.

It seemed as if there was something of the perfume of her presence about
it. Possibly she had carried it to the station and mailed it. He turned
it over gently, studied every detail, and fixed his eyes upon it, as
if he would make them pierce the thick, strong paper and devour the
contents. Then it occurred to him that the better and quicker way to get
at the inside would be to deliver the letters to Si. So he hunted up his
partner, whom he found about to take his squad out for a turn at wagon
guarding.

Si looked pleased as he recognized his father's letter, but his face
flushed to the roots of his sandy hair at the sight of Annabel's. He put
the latter carefully in his pocket. It was too sweet and sacred a thing
to be opened and read under the gaze of any one else's eyes. He broke
open his father's and as his eyes traveled slowly down the large
foolscap pages, covered with the Deacon's full-grown characters, for the
Deacon made his letters as he liked his stock--big and full--he said:

"They're all well at home, but mother's had a tech of her old rheumatiz.
Pap's sold his wheat at a dollar and four bits. Peaches about half
killed. Had good luck with his lambs. Wheat's lookin' unusually well.
Beck Spangler's married Josh Wilson, whose wife died last Fall, leavin'
him two little children. Brindle cow's come in fresh, with a nice calf,
quarter Jersey. Copperhead's gittin' sassy agin. Holdin' night meetin's
and wearin' butternut badges, and talkin' about resistin' draft. Hogs
wintered well, and looks as if Pap'd have a nice drove to sell in the
Fall. Pap'll put in 'bout 90 acres o' corn, and'll have to hustle his
plowin' ez soon's the ground's fit. Little Sammy Woggles had a fight
with Beecham's boy, who's six months older, and licked him. Sammy likes
school better now than he did. Pap's bought Abraham Lincoln a new suit
o' store clothes and the girls have made him some white shirts. He goes
to church every Sunday now, and carries a cane. Pap sends his regards
to you, Shorty, and mother and the girls want to be kindly remembered.
There, take the letter, Shorty, and read it for yourself. I've got to
skip out with my squad."

Shorty took the letter with eagerness, and retired to a nook to read
it all over carefully, and see if he could not mayhap glean out of it
something more relating to Her. But the main satisfaction was in reading
again and again "Mother and the girls want to be kindly remembered to
Shorty."

"Not uncomfortably warm, and purty general, like the gal who promised
to be a sister to the hull rijimint," mused Shorty, as he refolded the
letter and replaced it in the envelope. "But, then, it is better to be
kindly remembered by sich people as them than to be slobbered over by
anybody else in the world. Wisht I knowed jest how much o' the kind
remembrance was Maria's, and if it differed in any way from her mother's
and sister's?"

The next evening the Orderly-Sergeant handed Shorty a badly-thumb-marked
and blotted yellow envelope, on which was scrawled in a very schoolish
hand:

     "To Mister Corpril Elliott,
     "Co. Q, Two Hundred Injianny
     Volintears,

     "Chattynoogy, 10-S-E."

     Opening it he read:

     Mister Shortee

     U ar a Frawd!!! That's what U ar!!!

     Whairz mi Gunn??????

     U ar a long-shanked, brick-topt Frawd & a promisbraker!!!

     Whairz mi Gunn???

     U hav now bin away a hole month, & I haint seen no Gunn!

     Awl the boiz is makin fun ov Me, bekaws I blowed around bout
     the Gunn I waz going 2 git, & I didn't git none.

     Whairz mi Gunn???

     I likked Ans. Beechum till he hollered nuff, for teezin Me
     bout mi Gunn. That's quiled the other boiz.

     But I want mi Gunn!

     I have just lots & Gobs 2 tell U, bout what Maria's bin
     sayin bout yore saffron head, but I shant write a word till
     I git mi Gunn!

     I wont tell U how the girls is pleggin her bout her Big
     Sunflower till I git mi Gunn!

     If U doant send mi Gunn rite off He tel Maria everything I
     no.

     I tel U now. He spile yore fun

     Onless at once U send mi Gunn.

     Yores til deth,

     SAMUEL WOGGLES.


The reception of this perturbed Shorty to his depths. He had not
forgotten his promise to Sammy--merely postponed its execution under
the pressure of other engrossments. He reproached himself for not
remembering how eagerly the boy had been looking forward to a possession
which would make him the envy of the other boys--really hated by them
for his towering and undeserved fortune.

"And Maria and the girls is talkin' about me," he communed with himself.
"I knowed that my left ear hadn't bin burnin' ever since we crossed
the Ohio River for nothin'. I thought it was because it'd got so tender
layin' on pillers that the blankets chafed it. Now I understand it. And
I can't hear nothin' of what they've bin sayin' till I git that gun to
Sammy. I'll start it to him this day, if it takes a leg. I'd intended to
go over to the camp o' the Maumee Muskrats today, on a missionary, tower
with them new tricks I brung back with me, but I'll put in the time
gittin' Sammy's gun and shippin' it to him. Wonder where I kin pick up a
rebel musket and trimmins'?" Shorty did not find this so easy as he had
anticipated. Generally, rebel guns had been a drug in the market. They
could be found lying around camp almost anywhere, and were used for any
purpose to which they could be applied--poles to hang kettles on over
the fire, tent-sticks, revetments to hold the dirt back, or any other
use. But under the rigid system now prevailing in Sherman's camps
everything had to be accounted for, and every gun sufficiently
serviceable to be worth sending to Sammy had been gathered up and stored
away in a large shed. Shorty went down there and scrutinized the armory.
There were plenty of guns in there, any one of which would make Sammy's
heart leap for joy, and render him the object of the burning envy of all
the boys for miles around. But there were guards pacing around, and
they looked watchful. Still, if the night were dark he might slip in and
steal one. But somehow since he had known Maria there had risen in
his mind a repugnance to that way of procuring things. It was not in
accordance with Klegg ideas. He sat down and pondered on other methods.
He went over and talked to the Sergeant in charge, an old acquaintance,
but the Sergeant was obdurate.

"No, sir. Can't let one of 'em go on no account," said the Sergeant
firmly. "My Captain's in charge of 'em, and he's put me in charge. He
knows he can trust me, and I know that he can. He don't know how many
guns and bayonets and cartridge-boxes there are, but I do, for I counted
them first thing when I come on. I don't propose that he shall have
to have any shortage charged against him when he comes to settle his
accounts. I don't know whether they've got an account of the things at
Headquarters, but they're likely to have, and I'm not taking any risks.
I'm looking out for my Captain."

"But suppose I pay you the value of the blamed old blunderbuss," said
Shorty, as a desperate resort, for it was the first time that he had
ever thought of a rebel gun having a money value.

"I wouldn't take it," replied the Sergeant. "First place, I haint no
idea what they're worth. Next place, if I had, I wouldn't take it, for I
don't want any shortage in Cap's accounts. Thirdly, if I took the money
I'd like as not set into a game o' poker tonight and lose it, and then
where'd I be, and where'd Cap be? I've been having monstrous hard luck
at poker lately."

"That's because you ain't up to the latest kinks," said
Shorty, hopefully. "I've been back to the rear--just come from
Jeffersonville--and I've got on to a lot of new dodges. I'll show 'em
all to you for one o' them guns."

The waver in the Sergeant's face showed the temptation was a trying one,
but he answered firmly:

"No; I won't do it."

"I'll put up a $10 bill agin one o' the guns, play you two out o' three
for it, learn you the tricks, and give you back the money if I win,"
said Shorty desperately.

Again the Sergeant's face showed great irresolution, but again his
fidelity triumphed, and he answered firmly, "No I won't." Then he
softened his refusal by saying:

"Come, Shorty, walk over a little way with me. I know where we can get
something good."

After they had shared a tincupful of applejack that a teamster supplied
them the Sergeant's heart thawed out a little.

"I tell you. Shorty, there's a gun in there that'd just tickle your boy
to death. It's an Enfield, new one, and has a Yankee bullet sticking in
the butt. Must've knocked the Johnny a double somersault when it struck.
I've been thinkin' sending it home myself. But I'll let you have it, and
I'll tell you how you can get it. See that camp over there? Well, that's
a regiment being organized out o' Tennessee refugees. They and their
officers are the carelessest lot of galoots that ever lived. Their
Quartermaster stores and their Commissary stores, and everything they
have is allowed to lie around loose, just wherever they get the notion
to drop them. I've had my eye on 'em for several days, and've helped
several of my friends to straighten up their company accounts, and
replace things that they'd lost. You just waltz over there, careless
like, as if you belonged to the regiment, pick up a gun and traps, put
'em on, and sail back here, and I'll turn your things in, and give you
that gun with the bullet in the stock in exchange."

Shorty lost no time in acting on the advice. That afternoon the express
from Chattanooga carried a gun to Sammy Woggles, the contemplation of
which deprived that youth of sleep the night after he received it, and
won him the cordial hatred of every boy in his neighborhood for his
overweening pride.

But after the gun was gone, and after Shorty had written a laborious
letter, informing Sammy of the shipment of the gun and its history,
which letter inclosed a crisp greenback, and was almost as urgent in
injunctions to Sammy to write as Sammy had been about his piece of
ordnance, Shorty sat down in sadness of heart. He was famishing for
information from Maria, and at the lowest calculation he could not hope
for a letter from Sammy for two weeks.

"It'll take at least a week for that little rat to git over his fever
about that gun," he mused, "until he'll be able to set up and think
about anything else. Then it'll take him at least another week to
build a letter. Great Jehosephat, how'm I goin' to stand it till then?
Where'll I be two weeks from now? What kin I do? I a'most wish that
something'd happen to Si that'd give me an excuse for writin'."

He racked his fertile brain with expedients and devices for getting up
communication, but for once he had to reject them all. There was a halo
of unapproachableness about Maria Klegg that paralyzed him.

He awoke the next morning with the same anxiety gnawing at his heart,
and it haunted him so that he went through the morning's routine
mechanically. When he came back from taking a squad up to Headquarters
to report for fatigue duty, the Orderly-Sergeant called out:

"Here's a letter for you, Corporal Elliott." Shorty took the small white
envelope from the Orderly's hand, and looked at it curiously. Who could
it be from? It resembled somewhat the letters that once came from
Bad Ax, Wis., but then again it was very different. He studied the
handwriting, which was entirely strange to him. Then he was electrified
by seeing that the postmark seemed to be something the same as on Si's
letters, but was blurred. He gave a little gasp, and said:

"Orderly, I'd like to git off a little while today." "Why, Shorty,"
remonstrated the busy Sergeant, "you were off yesterday. But go. I'll
try to get along without you. Don't stay long."

[Illustration: A LETTER FROM MARIA. 81]

Shorty would not trust himself to more than look at the outside, until
he had gained a safe screen behind a clump of bushes. Then he took out
his knife, carefully slit the envelope, and read:

     Dear Mr. Elliot--

     I take my pen in hand to inform you that we are all in good
     health and hope you are enjoyin' the same blessing fur which
     we should all be thankful to God. I am over on a visit to
     Prairie Hen and Mrs. Skidmore a widow woman called to see me
     today In the course of conversation she said her little boy
     Peter had run off and shed hurd hed joined the 200th Indiana
     Volunteer Infantry. She heard that we had folks in that
     regiment and so had come over to see me to see if I knowed
     anybody that would give her any news about her boy so as she
     could ask them to look out for him. I told her I knowed a
     gentleman in the 200th Indiana who would look out for Peter
     and be a second father to him and as soon as she had went I
     started this epistle. I thot id answer my letters because
     its all he can do to write answer my letter because its all
     he can do to write to mother and Annabel and dont write to
     mother haf often enuf besides id like to hear from you
     myself. Sincerely Yore Friend

     Maria Klegg.

"M-a-r-i-a-r K-l-e-g-g," gasped Shorty, spelling over the letters, one
at a time, to make sure that his eyes were not making a fool of him.
"And she'd like to hear from me."

And he took off his hat, and fanned his burning face.



CHAPTER VIII. SHORTY WRITES A LETTER TO MARIA KLEGG

AND ENTERS UPON HIS PARENTAL RELATIONS TO LITTLE PETE SKIDMORE.

THE self-sufficient, self-reliant Shorty had never before had anything
to so completely daze him. "Ackchelly a letter from Maria Klegg. Writ
of her own free will and accord. And she wants to hear from me," he
murmured, reading the letter over and over again, and scanning the
envelope as if by intensity of gaze he would wring more from the mute
white paper. The thought was overpowering that it had come directly from
her soft hand; that she had written his name upon it; that her lips had
touched the stamp upon it. He tenderly folded up the letter and replaced
it in the envelope. His thoughts were too tumultuous for him to sit
still. He would walk and calm himself. He wrapped the piece of Maria's
dress around the letter, rose and started off. He had gone but a few
steps when it seemed to him that he had not caught the full meaning of
some of the words in the letter. He sought a secluded place where he
could sit down, unseen by any eyes, and read the letter all over again
several times. Then came the disturbing thought of how he was to care
for and protect the precious missive? He could not bear to part with it
for a single minute, and yet he did not want to carry the sacred thing
around exposed to the dirt and moil of daily camp-life and the danger
of loss. He thought long and earnestly, and at last went down to a large
sutler's store, and purchased the finest morocco wallet from his stock.
Even this did not seem a sufficiently rich casket for such a gem, and he
bought a large red silk bandana, in which he carefully wrapped letter,
dress fragment and wallet, and put them in the pocket of his flannel
shirt, next his breast. Next came the momentous duty of writing an
answer to the letter. Yesterday he was burning with a desire to make an
opportunity to write. Now the opportunity was at hand, the object of his
desires had actually asked him to write her, and the completeness of the
opportunity unnerved him.

"The first thing I have got to do," said he, "is to git some paper and
envelopes and ink. I don't s'pose they've got anything here fit for a
gentleman to write to a lady with." He turned over the sutler's stock
of stationery disdainfully, and finally secured a full quire of heavy,
gilt-edged paper, and a package of envelopes, on which was depicted a
red-and-blue soldier, with a flag in one hand and a gun in the other,
charging bayonets through a storm of bursting shells.

"It's true I ain't one o' the color-guard yit," mused Shorty, studying
the picture, "but the Colonel sorter hinted that I might be, if Cap
McGillicuddy could spare me from Co. Q, which ain't at all likely. Now,
Mister, le'me see some pens."

"Here's some--Gillott's--best quality," said the sutler's clerk.

"Naw," said Shorty contemptuously. "Don't want no common steel pens.
Goin' to write to a lady. Git me your best gold ones."

Shorty made quite a pretense of trying, as he had seen penmen do,
the temper of the pens upon his thumb-nail, but chose the largest and
highest priced one, in an elaborate silver holder.

"I'm very partickler 'bout my pens," said he to the clerk. "I must have
'em to just suit my hand. Some folks's very keerless about what they
write with, but I wasn't brung up that way."

"If you'd ask my advice," said the clerk, "I'd recommend this thing as
the best for you to use. It'd suit fine Italian hand better'n any pen
ever made."

And he held up a marking-pot and brush.

"Young man," said Shorty, solemnly, as he paid for his purchases, "the
condition o' your health requires you not to try to be funny. It's one
o' the dangerousest things in the army. You're exposed to a great
many complaints down here, but nothin' 'll send you to the hospital as
suddenly as bein' funny."

The next thing was a studio where he could conduct his literary task
without interruption, and Shorty finally found a rock surrounded by
bushes, where he could sit and commune with his thoughts. He got the
cover of a cracker-box, to place on his knees and serve for a desk, laid
his stationery down beside him, re-read Maria's letter several times,
spoiled several sheets of paper in trying to get his fingers limber
enough for chirography, and then, begun the hardest, most anxious
afternoon's work he had ever done, in writing the following letter:

     "Camp ov the 2 Hunderdth Injianny

     "Voluntear Infantry,

     "Mishun Rij, nere Chattynoogy, April the 10, 1864.

     "Miss Maria Klegg,

     "Respected Frend.

(This part of the letter had cost Shorty nearly an hour of anxious
thought. He had at first written "Dere Miss Maria," and then recoiled,
shuddered and blushed at the thought of the affectionate familiarity
implied. Then he had scrawled, one after another, the whole gamut of
beginnings, before he decided upon addressing her, as was her right, as
formally as he would the wife of the President.)

     "Yore letter was welcomer to me than the visit ov the
     Pamaster, after six months exclipse ov hiz cheerful mug."

("I think 'mug' is the word they use for face in good society," mused
Shorty, with the end of the penholder in his mouth. "At least I heard
the Kurnel use it one day. She can't expect no man to be much gladder of
anything than the comin' o' the Paymaster, and that orter please her.")

     "Thankee for yore kind inkwiries az to mi helth? Ime glad to
     say that Ime all rite, and sound in lung, body and runnin'
     gear, and--"

(Shorty was on the point of adding "Hope that you are enjoying the same
blessing," when a shiver passed through him that it might be improper to
allude to a young lady's locomotory apparatus. After deep meditation, he
took safety's side and added):

     "So's Si. I sinserely hoap that you are injoyin' the
     blessin's ov helth, and the konsolashuns ov religion."

("I'm not certain about that last," thought Shorty, "but I heard a
preacher say it once, and it ought to be all right to write to a young
lady.")

     "We are still layin' in camp, but expectin' every day orders
     to move out for a little soshable with Mister Joe Johnston,
     whose roostin over on Pigeon Mountain. When we git at him,
     there won't be no pigeon about it, but a game ov fox-and-
     geese with us for the foxes.

("There," mused Shorty, complacently; "that'll amuse her. Girls like a
little fun throwed into letters, when it's entirely respectful.)

     "Little Pete Skidmore is in the company, all rite. He is wun
     ov the nicest boys that ever lived, but he needs half-
     killin' nerely every day. All real nice boys do. Woodent
     give much for them if they diddent. Tel his mother He look
     out for him, and fetch him up in the way he shood go, if I
     haf to break every bone in his body. She needent worry. I no
     awl about boys. Thair like colts--need to be well-broke
     before thair enny akount."

("Now," commented Shorty, as he read what he had written, "that'll make
Maria and his mother feel easy in their minds. They'll think they're in
great luck to git a man who'll be a second father to Pete, and not risk
spilin the child by sparin the rod.")

("Great Jehosephat, what work writing to a young lady is. I'd much
ruther build breastworks or make roads. Now, if it was some ordinary
woman, I wouldn't have to be careful about my spelin' and gramer, but
with sich a lady as Maria Klegg--great Cesar's ghost! a man must do the
very best that's in him, and then that ain't half enough. But I must
hurry and finish this letter this afternoon. I can't git another day off
to work at it.")

     "Respected Miss Maria, what a fine writer you are. Yore
     handwritin' is the most beautiful I ever seen. Jeb Smith,
     our company clerk, thinks that he can slink ink to beat old
     Spencerian System hisself, but he ain't once with you. Ide
     ruther see one line ov your beautiful ritin' than all that
     he ever writ."

("That's so," said Shorty, after judicially scanning the sentence. "Jeb
kin do some awful fancy kurlys, and draw a bird without takin' his pen
from the paper, but he never writ my name a thousandth part as purty as
Maria kin.")

     "And how purty you spel. Ime something ov a speler myself,
     and can nock out most ov the boys in the company on
     Webster's Primary, but I aint to be menshuned in the saim
     day with you.

     "With best respecks to your family, and hoapin soon to here
     from you, I am very respeckfully, your friend,

     W. L. Elliot.

     Corpril, Company Q, 2 Hundsrdth Injiamiy Volintear
     Infantry."

By the time he had his letter finished, and was wiping the sweat of
intense labor from his brow, he heard the bugle sounding the first call
for dress parade. "I must go and begin my fatherly dooties to little
Pete Skidmore," he said, carefully sealing his letter and sticking a
stamp on it, to mail at the Chaplain's tent as he went by. "It's
goin' to be extry fatigue to be daddy to a little cuss as lively as a
schoolhouse flea, and Corpril of Co. Q, at the same time, but I'm going
to do it, if it breaks a leg."

He was passing a clump of barberry bushes when he overheard Pete
Skidmore's voice inside:

"I'll bet $10 I kin pick it out every time. I'll bet $25 I kin pick it
out this time. Don't tech the cards."

"I don't want to lose no more money on baby bets," replied a tantalizing
voice. "I'll make it $40 or nothin'. Now, youngster, if y're a man--"

Shorty softly parted the bushes and looked in. Two of the well-known
sharpers who hung around the camps had enticed little Pete in there, and
to a game of three-card monte. They had inflamed his boyish conceit by
allowing him to pick out two cards in succession, and with small bets.

"I hain't got but $40 left o' my bounty and first month's pay," said
little Pete irresolutely, "and I wanted to send $35 of it home to
mother, but I'll--"

"You'll do nothin' o' the kind," shouted Shorty, bursting through the
bushes. "You measly whelps, hain't you a grain o' manhood left? Ain't
you ashamed to swindle a green little kid out o' the money that he wants
to send to his widowed mother?"

"Go off and 'tend to your own business, if you know what's good for
you," said the larger of the men threateningly. "Keep your spoon out
o' other folks' soup. This young man knows what he's about. He kin take
care o' himself. He ain't no chicken. You ain't his guardeen."

"No he ain't," said Pete Skidmore, whose vanity was touched as well as
his cupidity aroused. "Mind your own business, Mister Elliott. You're
only a Corpril anyway. You hain't nothin' to do with me outside the
company. I kin take care o' myself. I've beat these men twice, and kin
do it again."

"Clear out, now, if you don't want to git hurt," said the larger man,'
moving his hand toward his hip.

Shorty's response was to kick over the board on which the cards were
lying, and knock the man sprawling with a back-handed blow. He made a
long pass at the other man, who avoided it, and ran away. Shorty took
Pete by the collar and drew him out of the bushes, in spite of that
youngster's kicks and protestations.

He halted there, pulled out his pocket-knife, and judicially selected a
hickory limb, which he cut and carefully pruned.

"What're you goin' to do?" asked Pete apprehensively.

"I'm goin' to give you a lesson on the evils of gamblin', Pete,
especially when you don't know how."

"But I did know how," persisted Pete. "I beat them fellers twice, and
could beat them every time. I could see quicker'n they could move their
hands."

"You little fool, you knowed about as much about them cards as they know
of ice-water in the place where Jeff Davis is goin'. Pete, I'm goin' to
be a second father to you."

"Dod dum you, who asked you to be a daddy to me? I've had one already.
When I want another, I'll pick one out to suit myself," and Pete looked
around for a stone or a club with which to defend himself.

"Pete," said Shorty solemnly as he finished trimming the switch, and
replaced the knife in his pocket, "nobody's allowed to pick out his own
daddy in this world. He just gits him. It's one o' the mysterious ways
o' Providence. You've got me through one o' them mysterious ways o'
Providence, and you can't git shet o' me. I'm goin' to lick you still
harder for swearin' before your father, and sayin' disrespeckful words
to him. And I'm goin' to lick you till you promise never to tech another
card until I learn you you how to play, which'll be never. Come here, my
son."

The yells that soon rose from that thicket would have indicated that
either a boy was being skinned alive or was having his face washed by
his mother.



CHAPTER IX. SI TAKES HIS BOYS FOR A LITTLE MARCH INTO THE COUNTRY.

"SI," said the Orderly-Sergeant, "here's a chance to give them pin-feather
roosters o' yours a little taste of active service, that'll be good
seasoning for 'em, and help develop their hackles and spurs."

"Good idee. What is it?" responded Si with alacrity.

"An order's come down from Headquarters to detail a Sergeant and eight
men from the company to go out about eight or 10 miles in the country,
and take a turn guarding a little mill they're running out there,
grinding meal. There's a gang of bushwhackers around there, that
occasionally pester the men at work and they've tried once to burn the
mill. I don't think you'll have much trouble, but you've got to keep
your eye peeled, and not let any of your boys go to sleep on post."

"I'll look out for that."

"I know you will. You'll take Shorty along, and your seven kids,
which'll make up the number. You'll draw three days' rations, at the end
of which time you'll be relieved."

"Now, boys," said Si, returning to his squad, "we won't drill today, but
are going out on some real soldierin'. The Kurnel has given us a very
important detail."

The boys swelled up visibly at the news.

"I want you to all act like soldiers, now," continued Si, "and be
a credit to the company and the rijiment. We're goin' to be all by
ourselves, and everybody's eyes 'll be on us."

"Yes," echoed Shorty, "we'll be the only part o' the rijiment at the
front, and we want to git a good stiff brace on ourselves, because if we
don't some o' these other rijiments may git the grand laugh on us."

Shorty's tone was that this was a calamity to which death was
preferable, and the boys were correspondingly impressed. They were
rapidly learning the lesson that the regiment and its reputation were
the most important things in the whole world.

"Come along, and le's draw our rations," said Si. "And you boys want
to keep in mind that this's all you'll git for three days, and govern
yourselves accordingly. The 'Leventh Commandment is to take all that you
kin git, and take mighty good care of it after you git it--"

"For sich is the Kingdom of Heaven," interjected Shorty, imitating the
Chaplain's tone.

"No," said Si, who was irritated by his partner's irreverence: "but it's
the way a good soldier does. His first dooty's to take care o' his grub,
because that's takin' care o' himself, and keepin' himself in good
shape to do the dooty the Government expects o' him. 'Tain't servin'
the Government right for him to be careless about himself. Now here's 27
rations o' bread, meat, coffee, sugar, salt and beans--three apiece
for each of us. Harry Joslyn, you and Gid Mack divide them up into nine
equal piles."

Si and Shorty turned to give directions about packing up the
shelter-tents and blankets for carrying.

"Now, Gid Mackall," said Harry, "play fair, if you ever did in your
life. I won't have none o' your shenanniging."

"Don't talk to me about shenanniging, you little imp," responded Gid
cordially. "You can't do a straight thing if you try, and you never try.
You never fisted-up with me on a ball-bat that you didn't slip your hand
so's to come out ahead."

"Now, there's three loaves o' bread for the Sargint," said Harry, laying
them down on a newspaper. "There's three for the Corpril; there's three
for me; there's three for you."

"Here, what're you givin' me that broken loaf for?" demanded Gid,
stopping in his distribution of meat. "Give that to Pete Skidmore. He's
the littlest."

"Ain't goin' to do nothin' o' the kind," responded Harry. "You've got to
take things as they come. That loaf fell to you, and you've got to keep
it."

"If you don't take that nubbin loaf away and put a full one in its
place, not a speck o' lean meat 'll you get--nothin' but fat six inches
thick."

"You'll cut that meat straight across, and give me my right share o'
lean, you puddin'-headed, sandhill crane," shouted Harry.

"Who're you a-calling names, you bow-legged little shrimp?" shouted Gid,
slapping Harry across the face with a piece of fat pork.

An angry mix-up, school boy rules, followed, to the great detriment
of the rations. Si and Shorty rushed up, separated the combatants, and
administered shakes, cuffs, and sharp reprimands.

"Now, you quarrelsome little whelps," said Si, after quiet had been
restored, "you've got to take them rations that you've spiled for
yourselves. You shan't have no other. Put that bread and that meat
you've kicked around into your own haversacks. Then go back there and
roll up your blankets--same as the other boys. Alf Russell, you and
Jim Humphreys come here and divide the rest o' these rations into seven
parts, if you kin do it without fightin'."

The division of the rations proceeded, with some jars between Russell
and Humphreys over the apportionment of fat and lean meat, and angry
protests from little Pete Skidmore because they made his share smaller
than anybody else's.

"Yit," said he, "I've got to march just as far as any of you, carry just
as big a gun, and do just as much shootin'."

"You're wrong," said the medical-minded Alf Russell. "You ought to have
less than the others, because you're smaller. The littler and younger
the person the smaller the dose, always."

"No," acceded the farmer Jim Humphreys. "Tain't natural, nor right. You
don't give a colt as much feed as you do a grown horse. Anybody knows
that."

"Pete's plea is sound," contraverted the legal-minded Monty Scruggs. "All
men are equal before the law, though they mayn't be a foot high. Rations
are a matter of law, and the law's no respecter of persons."

"Rations is intended," persisted Alf, "to give a man what he needs to
eat--nothing more, nothing less. Pete don't need as much as a man; why
give it to him? There'd be just as much sense in giving him the clothes
for a six-footer."

"All o' you are always imposin' on me 'cause I'm little," whimpered
Pete. "And that stuck-up Alf Russell's the worst of all. Just because
he's goin' to be a doctor, and leads in singin' at church, he thinks
he knows more'n the man what writ the arithmetic, and he's down on me
because I won't take all he says for law and gospel, in spite of his
airs. Jim Humphreys is down on me, because I writ home that I'd shot
a man back there at the burnt bridge, and Jim got skeered at a
coon-huntin' nigger."

"Never mind, Pete," said Monty consolingly, "none o' them shall impose
on you while I'm around. Now, Alf, you and Jim give Pete just as much as
the rest, or I'll make you."

"Who'll you make, you brindle steer?" said Alf, laying down his bread
and bristling up.

"Stand back, Alf; he meant me," said Jim, disposing his meat, and
approaching Monty with doubled fists. "Now, Mister Scruggs, le's see you
do some makin', since you're so brash."

"Here, stop that, you little scamps," shouted Si, whose attention had
been so far devoted to quieting Harry and Gid, and showing them how
to prepare their traps for marching. "Great Scott, can't you git along
without fightin'? I'm goin' to take you where you'll git real fightin'
enough to satisfy you.

"Go ahead, there, and divide them rations, as I ordered you, and be quick
about it, for we must hurry off."

The mention of real fighting immediately sobered up the boys, and
made them forget their squabbles. They hurried about their work with
quickened zeal.

"Now," said Si, "pack your rations carefully in your haversacks, just as
you see me and Corpril Elliott doin'. First, keep your sugar, coffee and
salt separate. Put 'em in little tin boxes, like these, and see that
the lids are on tight. Hurry up, now. Shorty, you'd better look over the
boxes, and go up and draw as many cartridges as you think we'll need."

The mention of need for cartridges was an electric impulse which set the
boys keenly alive. They bundled their rations into their haversacks, and
flung their blanket rolls over their shoulders, and were standing in a
state of palpitating expectancy, when Shorty came back with his hands
full of cartridges, which he proceeded to distribute.

"Take arms," commanded Si. "Forward!--March!"

Si and Shorty started off with their long, easy campaign stride, which,
in some incomprehensible way that the veteran only learns by practice,
brought their feet down every time in exactly the right place, avoiding
all stumbling-blocks, and covering without apparent effort a long
distance in the course of an hour. The boys pattered industriously
after, doing their best to keep up, but stumbling over roots and stones,
and slipping on steep places, and dropping to the rear in spite of
themselves.

When Si made the customary halt at the end of the first hour, his
little command was strung back for a quarter of a mile, and little Pete
Skidmore was out of sight.

"Better go back and look for little Pete, Shorty," said Si. "We seem to
be losin' him."

Pete was soon brought up, panting and tired.

"Dod durn it, what're you all runnin' away from me for?" he gasped.
"Want to lose me? Want to git into the fight all by yourselves, and
leave me out? Think because I'm little I can't help? I kin shoot as well
as anybody in the crowd, dod durn you."

"There, you see the nonsense o' giving you as much rations as the
others," suggested Alf Russell. "You can't pack 'em, and you wouldn't
need 'em if you did pack 'em."

"What business is it of yours. Mister Russell, I'd like to know," asked
Monty Scruggs, "what he does with his rations. His rations are his
rights, and he's entitled to 'em. It's nobody's business what use a man
makes of his rights."

"Where are these rebels that we're goin' to fight?" asked Harry Joslyn,
eagerly scanning the horizon. "I've been looking for 'em all along, but
couldn't see none. Was you in such a hurry for fear they'd get away, and
have they got away?"

"I wasn't in no hurry," answered Si. "That was only regler marchin'
gait."

"Holy smoke," murmured the rest, wiping their foreheads; "we thought you
was trying to run the rebels down."

"Don't be discouraged, boys," said Si. "You'll soon git used to marchin'
that way right along, and never thinking of it. It may seem a little
hard now, but it won't last long. I guess you're rested enough.
Attention! Forward!--March!"

Si and Shorty had mercifully intended to slow down a little, and not
push the boys. But as they pulled out they forgot themselves, and fell
again into their long, swinging stride, that soon strung the boys
out worse than ever, especially as they were not now buoyed up by an
expectation of meeting the enemy.

"We must march slower. Si," said Shorty, glancing ruefully back, "or
we'll lose every blamed one o' them boys. They're too green yit."

"That's so," accorded Si. "It's like tryin' to make a grass-bellied
horse run a quarter-stretch."

"Might I inquire," asked Monty Scruggs, as he came up, wiped his face
and sat down on a rock, "whether this is what you'd call a forced march,
or merely a free-will trial trot for a record."

"Neither," answered Si. "It's only a common, straight, every-day march
out into the country. You kin count upon one a day like this for the
rest o' your natural lives--I mean your service. It's part o' what you
enlisted for. And this's only a beginnin'. Some days you'll have to keep
this up 15 or 18 hours at a stretch."

There was a general groan of dismay.

"Gracious, I wish I'd wings, or that I'd enlisted in the cavalry,"
sighed Harry.

"Brace up! Brace up!" said Shorty. "You'll soon git used to it, and make
your 40 miles a day like the rest of us, carrying your bed-clothes and
family groceries with you. It's all in gittin' used to it, as the man
said who'd bin skinnin' eels for 40 years, and that now they didn't mind
it a bit."

"Well, le's jog along," said Si. "We ought to git there in another hour.
There's a big rain comin' up, and we want to git under cover before it
strikes us. Forward!--March!"

But the rain was nearer that Si thought. It came, as the Spring rains
come in the North Georgia mountains--as if Niagara had been shifted into
the clouds overhead. The boys were literally washed off the road, and
clung to saplings to avoid being carried away into the brush.

"I'll fall back and keep the boys together," said Shorty, as soon as an
intermission allowed them to speak.

"Alright," said Si. "Look out for little Pete." And Si began to forge
stolidly ahead.

"Goodness, Sarjint, you're not going to travel in such a storm as this,"
gasped Gid Mackall.

"Certainly," Si called back. "Come on. We've got to reach that mill
tonight, no matter what happens. You'd might as well be drowned marchin'
as standin' still. 'Tain't rainin' no worse further ahead than here.
Forward!"

[Illustration: CLOSE UP, BOYS. 111]

"Close up, boys," said Shorty, taking little Pete's gun and the
youngster's hand. "This's only a Spring shower. 'Tain't nothin' to what
we had on the Tullyhomy Campaign. There the drops was as big as punkins,
and come as thick as the grains on a ear o' corn. Close up, there; dodge
the big drops, and go ahead."

"Hold on to me tight! Hold on to me!" clamored little Pete. "If you
don't I'll be washed away and lost for sure."

"Come along, Peter, my son," Shorty assured him.

"I hain't never lost no children yit, and I hain't goin' to begin with
you."

The storm grew more violent every minute, limbs were torn from the
trees, and fell with a crash, and torrents rushed down from the mountain
side, across the road. Si strode on resolutely, as if the disturbance
were nothing more than a Summer zephyr. He waded squarely through the
raging streams, turning at times to help the next boy to him, strode
over the fallen limbs, and took the dashing downpour with stolid
indifference.

"Close up, boys! Close up!" shouted Shorty from time to time, "Don't
mind a little sprinkle like this. It'll lay the dust, and make marchin'
easier. Come along, Peter, my son. I'm not goin' to lose you."

Night suddenly came, with pitchy darkness, but Si steadily forged
onward. Then the rain ceased as suddenly as it began, but the road was
encumbered with fallen timber and swirling races of muddy water. They
seemed more uncomfortable even than when the rain was falling. They were
now nearing the mill, and the sound of a fitful musketry fire came to
their ears.

"They've sneaked up in the storm to attack the mill," Si called out to
Shorty. "Close up and prepare for action."

"Goodness," gasped Gid Mackall, much of whose vim had been soaked out of
him by the fearful downpour, and who was oppressed by fatigue, hunger,
and the dense blackness of the night in the strange woods. "You don't
have to fight when you're wetter'n a drowned rat, and so tired you're
ready to drop, do you?"

"That's what you do," said Shorty, wiping off his musket. "That's the
way you'll have to do most o' your fightin'. The miserabler you feel the
miserabler you want to make the other fellers feel. Boys, turn your guns
upside down and let the water run out. Then half-cock 'em, and blow into
'em to clean the water out o' the tubes. Then find a dry rag somewhere
about you, and wipe off the nipples. We want every gun to go off when
the order is given. Don't anybody load till Si gives the order."

The drenched but excited boys followed his directions with nervous
haste. Shorty took one gun after another and examined it, while Si
went forward a little ways to reconnoiter. The calm deliberation of the
partners steadied the nervous boys.

"Load," called back Si, from the vantage ground of a little knoll, upon
which he was standing, trying to see into the darkness beyond. A volley
from out in front responded to the sound of his voice, and bullets
knocked bark off the big chestnut behind which he had shrewdly taken
refuge.

"Jest as I expected, Si," Shorty called back to him. "The rebels have
throwed back a squad to watch for us."

"Yes," said Si, coolly, as he stepped back to meet the boys. "There
ain't but 10 o' them, though. I counted every flash and located 'em.
They're all in a bunch right over there by a dead tree to the left. Move
up there quick, aim a little to the left. Aim low, and fire just as we
reach the rise. I'll fire first, and the rest of you foller. Try to hit
something, every one of you."



CHAPTER X. THE BOYS HAVE A COUPLE OF LITTLE SKIRMISHES

BUT FINALLY GET TO THE MILL.

THE time and the surroundings were such as to bring the spirits of the
boys to their lowest ebb.

The gloomy, mysterious woods seemed a world's distance away from their
homes, friends and assistance.

The long, tiresome tramp, the violent rainstorm, which had soaked them
to their skins, and apparently found its way to their hearts; the muddy,
slippery road, with torrents rushing across it, the splashing, searching
rivulets from the boughs overhead, were all deeply depressing.

The boys huddled together, as if to gain courage by closer contact.

"Gracious, I never supposed they'd pull off a fight at night, when
everybody was tired to death and soaked to a gruel," said Alf Russell in
a shivery whisper.

"They fought at Hohenlinden at night, and on the snow," answered Monty
Scruggs. "But snow's not so bad as rain, and, then, they didn't have
these awful woods. I'd feel much better if we was out in a clearing
somewhere."

"Come into line to the left, there," commanded Si, in a low tone.
"Deploy, one pace apart. Shorty, take the left out there in the bushes.
Don't make no noise, step carefully, and don't shoot till I do."

"Keep near me, Pete, and you won't git lost," said Shorty, as he stepped
off into the brush.

--"Must I shoot the same time you do, or wait till you shoot?" asked
Pete, who seemed less depressed by his surroundings than the others, and
mainly eager to get a chance to shoot.

"Don't watch me," cautioned Shorty. "Watch the fellers you are shootin'
at, and try to hit 'em. Fire just as soon as you want to after you hear
the others."

"I'll bet I'll hit a rebel if anybody does," said Pete with hopeful
animation.

They tramped forward a few steps over the spongy ground, and through the
dripping bushes.

The musketry fire continued fitfully around the mill in the distance.

They came to the summit of the little rise.

"Hist--halt; lay down, quick," called the watchful Si, in a penetrating
voice. "They've loaded agin', and are about to shoot."

He and Shorty were down on their faces as he spoke. The others obeyed
more slowly and clumsily. The rebel volley cut the limbs and bushes
over their heads, and whistled viciously through the damp air and the
darkness.

As little Pete dropped to the ground, his nervous finger touched the
trigger and his gun went off up in the air. The others took this as a
cue, and banged away as rapidly as they could get their muskets off.

Only Si and Shorty, in dropping, had kept the lay of the ground in view,
and without rising they deliberately aimed their pieces whither the
volley had come and fired. A suppressed yell of pain came from the other
side.

"We salted one of 'em, anyway," chuckled Shorty, as he raised on his
knee to reload his gun.

"Gosh all Chrismus," said Si, using his most formidable swear-word, for
he was very angry. "What was you brats shootin' at? Squirrels or angels?
A rebel'd had to be 80 cubits high, like old Haman, for one o' you to've
hit him. Lots o' good o' your packin' around guns and cartridges, if
you're goin' to waste your ammynition on the malaria in the clouds.
Load agin, now, carefully, and when you shoot agin be sure to fetch
something. I'll take my ramrod to the next boy that I ketch shootin'
higher'n a man's head. This ain't no Fourth-o'-July business. Our job's
te kill them whangdoodles over there, and I want you to 'tend strictly
to that."

The threat of a real boyish thrashing and the cool, matter-of-fact way
that Si and Shorty conducted themselves--precisely as if chopping trees
or mowing a field--steadied the boys wonderfully.

"They're about ready to shoot agin," Si spoke down the line, in a
penetrating whisper. "Everybody hug the ground, and watch the flashes.
Each feller git a good line on the flash straight in front of him, and
let the hound have a chunk o' lead just below his belt. If you're all
real good, and shoot just right, I'll take you on a rush right at them
fellers, and we'll scatter what's left like a flock o' quail. Lay low.
There it comes agin. Lay low."

An irregular volley burnt out in the blackness beyond. The bullets sang
around much closer than before, and several of them struck near Si, one
landing in the leaves and moss directly in front of him, and throwing a
wet sprinkle in his face.

"Like the parrot, I was talkin' too much and too loud," thought Si.
"They wuz all reachin' for me, and one feller made a mighty good line
shot. Le's see if I can't better him."

He drew down in his sights as carefully as he could in the darkness, and
pulled the trigger. As the smoke thinned out a little he thought he saw
something beyond which indicated a man staggering and falling.

This time the boys seemed to be firing effectively. There was a
commotion in the woods beyond, and the sound of groans on the damp air.

"Raise up!" shouted Si. "Forward! Forward! Jump 'em. Jump 'em before
they kin load agin!"

Loading his gun with the practiced ease of a veteran as he rushed
forward, Si led his squad directly against the position of the rebels.
Part of the rebels had promptly run away, as they heard Si order
the charge, but part boldly stood their ground, and were nervously
reloading, or fixing bayonets, as the squad came crashing through the
brush. One of the rebels fired a hasty, ineffectual shot, and by its
light Shorty saw the nervous little Pete, who had torn off his cumbering
haversack, letting his hat go with it, slip between him and Si, and gain
a pace in advance.

"Git back, you little rat," said Shorty, reaching out a long arm,
catching the boy by the collar, and yanking him back. "Git behind me and
stay there."

The flash revealed another rebel fumbling for a cap. Shorty's gun came
down, and the rebel fell, shot through the shoulder. The rebel leader,
a long haired, lathy man, with the quickness of a wildcat, sprang at Si
with his bayonet fixed. Heavy-footed and deliberate as Si usually
was, when the electricity of a fight was in him there was no lack of
celerity. He caught the rebel's bayonet on his musket-barrel and warded
it off so completely that the rebel shot by him in the impetus of his
own rush. As he passed Si delivered a stunning blow on the back of his
head with his gun-barrel.

"That zouave drill was a mighty good thing, after all," thought Si, as
he turned from his prostrate foe to the others.

While this was going on, the boys were imitating Shorty's example,
getting their guns loaded, and banging away as fast as they did so into
the rebels, who went down under the shots, or ran off, leaving one of
their number, a tall, lank mountaineer, who seemed beside himself with
rage. He had grasped his empty gun by the stock, and was swinging it
around his head, yelling fierce insults and defiance to the whole race
o' Yankees.

"Come on, you infernal pack o' white-livered, nigger-stealin',
house-robbin', hell-desarvin' hypocrites," he shouted. "I kin lick the
hull bilin' o' yo'uns. This is my wounded pardner here, and yo'uns can't
have neither me nor him till yo'uns down me, which y' can't do. Come on,
y' pigeon-livered cowards."

The boys who had pressed lip near him, shrank back a little, out of
possible range of that violently brandished musket, and began loading
their guns.

Shorty had stopped for an instant to turn over into an easier position
the rebel he had shot.

Si paced up. His gun was loaded, and he could have easily brought the
rebel down. But the rebel's devotion to his partner touched him.

[Illustration: DON'T ANYBODY SHOOT. 119]

"Don't shoot, boys," he commanded; "leave me to 'tend to him. Say,
Johnny," he addressed the rebel, in a placatory way, "don't make a fool
o' yourself. Come down, we've got you, dead. Drop that gun."

"Go to brimstone blazes," shouted the rebel. "If yo'uns have got me, why
don't y' take me. I kin lick the hull caboodle o' y' sneakin' mulatters.
Come on, why don't y'?"

"Give him a wad, Si," said Shorty, reloading his own gun. "We haint no
time to lose. They need us over there."

"No, don't anybody shoot," commanded Si; "he's just crazy about his
partner. He's too brave a man to kill. Say, Johnny, have a little sense.
We haint goin' to hurt your partner, nor you, if you'll behave. Drop
that gun at once, and surrender."

"Go to blazes," retorted the rebel, swinging his gun more wildly than
ever. "Yo'uns is all liars. No dependence kin be placed on y'. If y'
want me, come and git me."'

Shorty had begun to think the thing somewhat humorous. "Look
here, Johnny," said he, "wouldn't you like a big chaw o' navy
terbacker--bright plug. Genuine Yankee plug? Swingin' that ere gun that
way is awful tiresome."

"Eh--What's that?" said the rebel, startled by the new proposition and
its coolness.

"I say, don't you want a big chaw o' terbacker? You must need it. I
always do after I've bin workin' hard. Drop your gun, and have one with
me. We're Injiannians, and we don't mean no harm to your partner, nor to
you. We'll take care o' him, if he's hurt. Here, cut your own chaw."

"Air yo'uns from Injianny?" said the rebel, bringing his gun down to a
less menacing attitude. "I've done got two brothers in Injianny, and I
hear they'uns 've done inlisted in Yankee rijiments. Mebbe yo'uns know
'em."

"Mebbe we do," said Shorty, handing him a long plug and his knife. "But
we hain't time to talk it over now. We'll do that in the mornin', when
business ain't so pressin'. Le' me hold your gun while you cut your
terbacker."

"Now, look here," said Si, "time's jumpin', and we must talk quick. If
we parole you, will you stay here, and take care o' your partner and the
others, and be here in the mornin', when we send for you?"

"You won't send for me, if yo'uns is a-gwine on ter fout we'uns up at
the mill. We'uns chaw yo'uns up, or run y' outen the country."

"We'll take care o' that," said Si sharply. "Will you promise on your
honor to stay with these men, and take care o' them till daylight, if we
don't come sooner?"

"Sartin,--'pon honor," answered the rebel, with his mouth full of
tobacco.

"All right, then. Load at will. Load! Forward!--March!" commanded Si.

Si moved on cautiously, for he feared that the runaways had told those
attacking the mill about his advance, and would bring them all down upon
him. The dying down of the firing about the mill confirmed this opinion.
He warned his boys to make as little noise as possible, and went ahead
of them some distance, to reconnoiter, slipping along the side of the
road, under the shadow of the trees. He arranged a system of signals
with Shorty, by which one click of his gunlock meant halt, and two to
come ahead. Presently he came in sight of the broad race which ran to
the mill. The starlight was sufficient to show its width and its banks,
with the logs lying along, which had been cut when it was dug. A bridge
crossed the race for the road to the mill. Beyond the ground rose
sharply, and looking at the crest against the sky, he could see the
rebels, one by one, file over, and come down to where they could crouch
behind the logs and ambuscade the bridge.

Si clicked his gunlock, and waited till he had counted 25 rebels
gathered there, which seemed to be all, as no more appeared. Then he
slipped back to Shorty, and hurriedly explained the situation.

The boys listened with sinking hearts. More than three times as many
rebels as they themselves numbered, and perhaps fiercer and stronger
than those they had already encountered.

The elation of their recent victory subsided. Again the woods became
ominously dark and gloomy, the soaking dampness very depressing. They
huddled together to brace each other up.

"Si," said Shorty, "didn't you say that it was a squad o' the Maumee
Muskrats in the mill, and that we wuz goin' to relieve 'em."

"Yes, and the Orderly said that railroad 'Mick'--Hennessey--was the
Sarjint in command."

"O, that bog-trottin' old section boss, that hairy-handed artist with the
long shovel, is there, is he with his crucifix and his prayers to the
Saints. That's all right. He's bin stormin' and swearin' ever since
the fight begun; because he's bin obliged to stay inside and shoot,
and instid of making a grand rush and settling things, according
to Donnybrook Fair rules. I tell you what you do. You work the boys
carefully down through the brush toward the race, and git 'em into
position in easy range of the rebels, covering 'em behind logs. I'll
take a circuit around to the left, and git over to the hill, behind the
rebels, and near enough the mill for Hennessey to hear me. Then I'll
fire a shot and yell for Hennessey. He knows my voice, and he'll bring
his men out like a pack o' hornets. Then you let into the rebels from
your side. They can't git across the race at you, and we'll have 'em
where we kin whipsaw 'em."

"Shorty," said Si admiringly, "Gen. Grant 'll hear o' you some day, and
then Co. Q will lose its brightest star, but the army'll gain a great
General."

"I know it; I know it," said Shorty, modestly; "but don't stop to talk
about it now. I think I've got the lay o' the mill in mind. I'll just
cut around that way. Don't shoot till you hear me."

Si quietly deployed his boys to the left of the road, and worked
them through the brush until they came to the crest overlooking the
mill-race. They took readily to this sort of work. They had all hunted
rabbits over the hills of southern Indiana, and they came into position
so softly that the rebels beyond did not suspect their presence.

Then came a long wait for the signal from Shorty. The rebels seemed to
get tired first. Presently they could be seen moving around, and Si had
hard work restraining his squad from shooting at the tempting marks.
Then the rebels began talking, at first in murmurs, and then louder.
There seemed to be a division of opinion among them. Those who had been
run back were sure that the Yankee were coming on to the relief of their
comrades in the mill. The others thought that their comrades had run the
other away just as fast.

"I tell you, hit's no use to wait for they'uns no longer," said one
strong voice. "Them Yankees is runnin' back to their camps as fast as
they'uns's legs 'll carry they'uns. If yo'uns 'd had any sand, and stood
yer ground, you'd 'a seed 'em. But yo' yaller hammers allers git the
ager when ever a cap's busted, and run yer rabbit-gizzards out."

"Y're a liar," hotly responded another voice. "Thar was more'n 50 o'
them Yankees, if thar was a man. We fit 'em awful, before we give away,
and they'd killed Burt Dolson and Bob Whittyker, and I don't know how
many more. They come bulgin' right on toward the mill, arter they'd
reformed. I know hit, bekase Eph and me staid and watched 'em, and shot
at 'em, till we thought hit best to run back and warn ye."

"Ye wuz in a powerful hurry to warn us," sneered the other. "Well,
thar's no Yankees over thar, and none haint a-comin' till daylight. I've
ketched all the ager and rhematiz here that I'm a-gwine ter. Le's go
back and salivate them fellers in the mill, and set fire to it."

This seemed to be the prevailing sentiment, and Si began to fear that
they would all go, and might intercept Shorty. He was on the point of
ordering the boys to fire, and attract their attention, when Shorty's
rifle rang out, and the next instant came a roar from Shorty's powerful
lungs, with each word clear and distinct:

"Hennessy--you--red--mouthed--Mick--come out. The 200th Injianny
is--here. Come out--with a rush--you--imported spalpeen--and
jump--'em--in--the--rear!"

"Now, boys," commanded Si, "keep cool, pick your man, and fire low. I'm
goin' to take the feller that's bin doin' the big talkin'."

Each of the boys had already picked his man, and was eagerly waiting the
word. Their fire threw their enemies into confusion, and as their
guns rattled, the barricaded doors of the mill were thrown open,
and Hennessey rushed out with a wild Irish "hurroo." The rebels
incontinently fled, without an attempt at resistance.

After it was ascertained that every unhurt rebel was running for dear
life to get away, after Hennessey and his squad had gathered up the
wounded and carried them into the mill, and after the boys had yelled
themselves hoarse over their victory gained with such unexpected
ease, they suddenly remembered that they were so tired that they could
scarcely drag one foot after another, and hungrier than young wolves at
the end of a hard Winter.

"Gewhillikins," murmured Jim Humphreys, "I wonder when we're going to
have supper. I'm as holler as a stovepipe."

"You've got your suppers in your haversacks," said Si. "We'll go into
the mill and build a fire and make some coffee and fry some meat."

"In my haversack," said Jim ruefully, after they had entered the mill,
and he had run his hand into his forgotten haversack, and withdrawn it
covered with a viscid greasy mush. "My haversack's full o' water, that's
soaked everything else in it to a gruel."

"So's mine; so's mine," echoed the rest, as they examined.

"Confound it," said Si' wrathfully, as he looked into one after
another. "Didn't none o' you have sense enough to fasten down the covers
carefully, so's to keep the water out? Here it is--salt and sugar and
coffee, bread and greasy pork all in one nasty mess. I declare, you
don't seem to have the sense you wuz born with. You've bin breakin'
yourselves down luggin' around 10 or 15 pounds o' water, besides spilin'
your rations."

"Probably Sarjint Hennessey has some rations that he kin give us,"
suggested Shorty, who was genuinely sorry for the poor boys.

"Dade I haint--not a smidgeon," answered Hennessey. "We ixpicted ye's
to git here this forenoon and relieve us, and we et up ivery spoonful
of our grub for breakfast, so's to lighten us for a quick march back
to camp. They've not bin runnin' in the mill for several days, and've
carted off ivery bit of the male they ground. We're nigh starved
oursilves, but we've had a lovely little foight, and we forgive ye's
for not coming airlier. Oi wouldn't 've missed that last rush on thim
divil's for a month's double rations."

"Well," said Si, encouragingly, "we'll have to make mine and Shorty's
rations go around as well as they kin, among all of you. Fish the meat
out o' your haversacks, boys, and wash the dope off it. It ain't spiled,
anyway. We kin each of us have a little to eat tonight, and we'll trust
to Providence for termorrer."



CHAPTER XI. SHORTY GIVES THE BOYS THEIR FIRST LESSON IN FORAGING.

WITH the elasticity of youth the boys slept away their fatigue during
the night, but woke up the next morning ravenously hungry.

"What in the world are we goin' to do for grub, Si?" asked Shorty, as
soon as he got his eyes fairly open.

"Oi know what Oi'm goin' to do," said Hennessey. "Oi'm goin to show
the foinest pace av shprinting back to camp that has been sane in these
parts since our roight bruk that day at Chickamaugy. No grass'll grow
under me fate, Oi tell yez. And as I pass through your camp Oi'll foind
yer Captain, and tell the fix you're in, and to sind out some rations."

"But even if he does send them at once, they can't git here till
evenin', and I hate powerfully to let him and the rest know that we
didn't have sense enough to take care o' our victuals after we'd drawed
'em," said Si.

"If it was only one, or even two days, I'd let the boys starve it out,
as a good lesson to 'em," said Shorty. "But three seems like cruelty to
dumb beasts."

"But what'll they say about us in camp?" groaned Si. "They'll have the
grand laugh on me and you, and every one o' the boys. I'd ruther go on
quarter rations for a month than stand the riggin' they'll give us, and
have Capt. McGillicuddy give me one look when he asks the question about
how we come to lose all our rations so soon? He'll think me a purty
Sarjint to send out into the country in charge o' men, and you a fine
Corpril."

"Say," said Shorty, his face illuminated with a bright idea. "We might
report the rations 'lost in action.' That'd fix it fine. We had two good
fights, and come out ahead. That'll tickle the Captain so that he won't
be partickler what we report."

"Hurroo!" echoed Hennessey; "that's the ticket."

"But we didn't lose 'em in action, and to say so'd be a lie," answered
Si, whose conscience had none of the easy elasticity of his partner's.
"We could report 'em burnt up by lightnin','but we won't. They was
lost by sheer, dumbed carelessness, that me and you and the boys should
knowed better than to've allowed. That's all there is of it, and that's
what I'm goin' to report, if I have to."

"Great Jehosephat," exploded Shorty; "you kin certainly be the
stubbornest mule over nothin', Si Klegg, that I ever seen. We've done
fightin' enough to excuse sich a report, or any that we've a mind to
make."

"Nothin' kin justify a lie," persisted the obdurate Si.

"Holy smoke! bigger men than you--lots bigger--have squared up their
accounts that way. Didn't all the Captains in the rijiment, and the
Quartermaster and Commissary, and, for what I know, the Chaplain and the
Colonel, git clean bills o' health after the battle o' Stone River, by
reportin' everything that they couldn't find 'lost in action?'"

"Yis," added Hennessey, "and didn't my Captain, after Chickamaugy, git
us all new uniforms and complete kits, by reportin' iverything 'lost in
action?' Smart man, my Captain, Oi tell yez."

"Well, I don't think any the more o' them for it. We spiled our rations
before the fightin' begun, they'd bin spiled if there'd bin no fightin',
and I haint going to send no other words, if I've got to send any word."

"Who the divil's goin' to carry this word, Oi'd like to know, Misther
Klegg?" broke in Hennessey. "Are you goin' to put words into my mouth,
Misther Klegg? Oi'll tell your Captain just fwhat Oi plaze, about
you and your foight and your rations. Oi want no more worrids wid
ye. Attintion, min! Shoulder, a-r-m-s! Roight face! Forward, foile
left!--M-a-r-c-h!"

"I s'pose I ain't responsible for any o' the fairy tales with which
that wild Mick'll fill up the Captain," said Si, self-consolingly, as
Hennessey and his squad marched away in quick time. "He'll put a rich,
red, County Connaught color on everything that's happened out here, and
the Captain'll believe as much as suits him. Anyhow, Hennessey'll not
say anything to our disadvantage, and probably the Captain'll send out
some rations by fast mule express."

"Yes," accorded Shorty; "we'll git some rations from camp by this
evenin'. Cap will look out for that. Meanwhile, I'll take out two or
three o' the boys on a scout into the country, to see if we can't pick
up something to eat."

"Humph," said Si, skeptically, "you'll find mighty poor pickin', after
them Ohio boys 's bin out here three days. What they haint taken has
been rooted in the ground."

"Yes; they're awful foragers and thieves," assented Shorty. "All Ohio
boys is. I'm glad I'm from Injianny. Still, I've generally bin able to
find something, even after the Ohio boys had bin there."

"Well, I think we'd better first go back and see about them rebels that
we wounded last night. They may be sufferin' awfully, and we oughtn't to
think about something to eat, before doin' what we kin for them."

"That's so," assented Shorty. "I'd a-gone back last night, but we was
all so dead tired."

"Well, I'll take two o' the boys and go back. You stay here with the
rest, and hold the mill. I'll git back as soon's I kin, and then you kin
take a couple o' the boys and go out foragin'."

Calling Alf Russell and Monty Scruggs to follow him, Si started back to
the scene of the skirmish of the night before. The woods looked totally
different, under the bright Spring sunshine, from what they had seemed
in the chill, wet blackness of the previous night. Buds were bursting
and birds singing, and all nature seemed very blithe and inspiring.

"Gracious, what a difference daylight makes in the woods," murmured
Monty Scruggs. "Tain't a bit like Hohenlinden.

     "'Tis morn, but scarce yon lurid sun
     Can pierce the war-clouds rolling dun,
     Where furious Frank and fiery Hun
     Shout 'mid their sulphurous canopy."

"You'd think, from the way the bird 's singing, and the flowers
blooming, that there'd never been a gun fired within a hundred miles o'
here."

"Seems like we only dreamed all that happened last night," accorded Alf
Russell. "There's nothing in the woods or the ground that looks as it
did then, and I can't hardly make myself believe that this is the way we
come."

"Well, here's something that'll convince you it wasn't a dream," said
Si, as they made their way through the broken and trampled brush, and
came to a little knoll, on which the final fight had been made, and
where were gathered the wounded rebels. There were three of these; the
man whom Shorty had shot in the shoulder, the one whom Si knocked down
by a stunning blow on the head, and the one who had been hit in
the thigh by a shot from the boys, and who was the "pardner" of the
recalcitrant man of the previous evening. He was still there, caring for
his comrades. The men who had been shot were so faint from loss of blood
that they could scarcely move, and the man whom Si had struck was only
slowly recovering consciousness.

The unhurt rebel was standing there with his gun in hand, and had
apparently been watching their approach for some time.

"My parole was out at daylight," he said, as they came up. "The sun's
now nearly an hour high. I ain't obleeged to be good no more, and I
could' 've drapped one o' yo'uns when y' fust turned offen the road, and
got away. I s'pose I'd orter've done hit, and I'd a great mind ter, but
suthin' sorter held me back. Onderstand that?"

"You'd a' bin a nice man to've shot at us when we wuz comin' to help
your comrades," said Si, walking up coolly toward him, and getting near
enough to prevent his leveling his gun, while he held his own ready
for a quick blow with the barrel. "We needn't've come back here at all,
except that we felt it right to take care o' the men that got hurt."

"Come back to take keer o' the men that yo'uns swatted last night?" said
the rebel incredulously. "That haint natural. 'Taint Yankee-like. What'd
yo'uns keer for 'em, 'cept to see if they'uns's dead yit, and mebbe gin
'em a prod with the bayonit to help 'em along? But they'uns's mouty nigh
dead, now. They'uns can't last much longer. But I'll kill the fust
one o' yo'uns that tries to prod one o' they'uns with a bayonit. Let
they'uns alone. They'll soon be gone."

"What're you talkin' about, you dumbed fool?" said Si, irritably. "We
haint no Injuns nor heathens, to kill wounded men. We're Injiannians and
Christians, what read the Bible, and foller what it says about lovin'
your enemies, and carin' for them what despitefully use you--that is,
after you've downed 'em good and hard."

"Does your Bible say that ere?" asked the rebel.

"Yes, indeed."

"Well, hit must be a new-fangled kind of a Yankee Bible. The only Bible
I ever seed was a piece o' one that used t' be in dad's house, and I've
done heared strangers read hit aloud hundreds o' times, and hit said
nothin' like that. Hit had lots in it 'bout killin' every man and
man-child, and hewin' 'em to pieces afore the Lord, but nothin' 'bout
lovin' and takin' keer o' them that wuz fernest ye."

"Well, it's in there, all the same," said Si impatiently, "and you must
mind it, same's we do. Come, drop that gun, and help us take care o'
these men. They ain't goin' to die. We won't let 'em. They're all right.
Just faint from loss o' blood. We kin fix 'em up. Set your gun agin'
that beech there, and go to the branch and git some water to wash their
wounds, and we'll bring 'em around all right."

There was something so masterful in Si's way, that the rebel obeyed. Si
set his own gun down against a hickory, in easy reach, and had the boys
do the same. He had naturally gained a good deal of knowledge of rough
surgery in the army, and he proceeded to put it to use. He washed the
wounds, stayed the flow of blood, and to take the rising fever out of
the hurts, he bound on them fresh, green dockleaves, wet with water.
After the man he had struck had had his face washed, and his head
thoroughly doused with cold water, he recovered rapidly and was soon
able to sit up, and then rise weakly to his feet.

The rebel looked on wonderingly.

"Well, yo'uns is as good doctrin' hurts as ole Sary Whittleton, and
she's a natural bone-setter," he said.

"Well, don't stand around and gawk,", said Si snappishly. "Help. What's
your name?"

"Gabe Brimster."

"Well, Gabe, go down to the branch and git some more water, quick as you
kin move them stumps o' your'n. Give the men all they want to drink,
and then pour some on their wounds. Then go there and cut some o' them
pawpaws, and peel their bark, to make a litter to carry your pardner
back to the mill. Boys, look around for guns. Smash all you kin find on
that rock there, so they won't be of no more use. Bust the locks good,
and bend the barrels. Save two to make the handles of the litter."

Si proceeded to deftly construct a litter out of the two guns, with some
sticks that he cut with a knife, and bound with pawpaw strips.

A few days before, Si, while passing near the hospital, saw a weak
convalescent faint and fall. He rushed to the Surgeon's tent, and that
officer being busy, handed him a small bottle with a metal top, and
filled with strong ammonia, telling him to unscrew the top and hold the
bottle under the man's nose. He did so, with the effect of reviving
him. Si thrust the bottle into his pocket, to help the man back to
the hospital, and forgot all about it, until one after another of his
present patients overdid himself, had a relapse, and fainted away. Si
happened to feel his bottle, drew it out, unscrewed the top, thrust it
under their noses, and revived them.

Gabs's eyes opened wider at each performance. He had never seen a bottle
with a metal top, or one that unscrewed, or anything that seemed to
effect such wonderful changes by merely pointing it at a man. His
mountaineer intellect, prone to "spells" and "charms," saw in it at once
an instrument of morta: witchcraft. With a paling face, he began edging
toward his gun. Busy as Si had been, he had kept constantly in mind the
possibility of Gabe's attempting some mischief, and did not let himself
lose sight of the rebel's gun. He quickly rose, and with a few strides,
placed himself between Gabe and his gun.

[Illustration: MR. YANK, DON'T CONJURE ME. 135]

"Where are you goin'?" he said sternly.

"I'm a-gwine away," replied the man, in terror-stricken accents. "I'm
a-gwine away mouty quick. I don't want to stay here no longer."

"Indeed you're not goin' away. You'll stay right with us, and help us
take care o' your comrades."

"I'm a-gwine away, I tell y'," shrieked Gabe. "I'm gwine right away.
I'm skeered o' yo'uns. Yo'uns is no doctor, nor no sojer. Yo'uns is a
conjure-man, and a Yankee conjure-man, too--wust kind. Yo'uns 've bin
puttin' spells on them men, and yo'uns'll put a spell on me. I've felt
hit from the fust. I'm a-gwine away. Le'me go, quick."

Si caught the man roughly by the shoulder with his left hand, and raised
his right threateningly. It still had the bottle in it. "You're not
goin' a step, except with us," he said. "Go back there, and 'tend to
your business as I told you, or I'll break you in two."

The sight of the dreadful bottle pointed at him completely unnerved the
rebel. He fell on his knees.

"O, Mister Yank--Mister Conjure-man! don't put no spell on me. Pray to
God, don't! I had one on me wunst, when I was little, and liked to've
died from hit. I haint no real rebel. I wuz conscripted into the army,
or I wouldn't be foutin' yo'uns. I won't fout no more, if yo'uns'll not
put a spell on me. 'Deed I won't! I swar to God I wont!"

And he raised his right hand in testimony.

"Put a spell on you? Conjure you? What dumbed nonsense!" ejaculated Si,
and then his eyes caught the rebel's fastened on the bottle in his hand,
and a gleam of the meaning entered his mind. He had no conception of
the dread the mountaineers have of being "conjured," but he saw that
something about the bottle was operating terrifically on the rebel's
mind and took advantage of it. He was in too much of a hurry to inquire
critically what it was, but said: "Well, I won't do nothin' to you, so
long's you're good, but mind that you're mighty good, and do just as I
say, or I'll fix you. Git up, now, and take hold o' your pardner's feet,
and help me lift him on the litter. Then you take hold o' the front
handles. Monty, throw your gun-sling over your shoulder, and take hold
o' the rear handles. The two o' you carry this man back. Alf, throw your
gun-sling over your shoulder, put your arm under this man's, and help
him along. I'll help this man."

They slowly made their way back toward the mill. As they came on the
crest of the last rise, they saw Shorty and the rest eagerly watching
for them. Shorty and the others ran forward and helped them bring the
men in. Shorty was particularly helpful to the man he had shot. He
almost carried him in to the mill, handling him as tenderly as if a
child, fixed a comfortable place for him on the floor with his own
blankets, and took the last grains of his coffee to make him a cup. This
done, he said:

"I'm goin' out into the country to try and find some chickens to make
some broth for you men. Come along, Harry Joslyn, Gid Mackall and little
Pete."

The country roundabout was discouragingly poor, and had been thoroughly
foraged over. But Shorty had a scent for cabins that were hidden away
from the common roads, and so escaped the visitations of ordinary
foragers. These were always miserably poor, but generally had a
half-dozen chickens running about, and a small store of cornmeal and
sidemeat. Ordinarily he would have passed one of these in scorn, because
to take any of their little store would starve the brood of unkempt
children that always abounded. But now, they were his hope. He had been
playing poker recently with his usual success, and as the bets were in
Confederate money, he had accumulated quite a wad of promises to "Pay in
gold, six months after the ratification of a Treaty of Peace between
the Confederate States and the United States." He would make some
mountaineer family supremely happy by giving them more money than they
had ever seen in their lives, in exchange for their stock of meal,
chickens and sidemeat. They would know where to get more, and so the
transaction would be a pleasant one all around.

In the meanwhile, little Pete had visions of killing big game in the
mountain woods. The interminable forest suggested to him dreams of bear,
deer, buffalo, elk, and all the animals he had read about. It would be
a great thing to bring down an elk or a deer with his Springfield rifle,
and then be escorted back' to camp in triumph, with the other boys
carrying his game. He kept circling through the woods, in sight or
hearing of the others, expecting every minute to come upon some animal
that would fill his youthful sanguine hopes.

Shorty at last found a poor little cabin such as he had been looking
for. It was hidden away in a little cove, and had never been visited
by the men of either army. It had the usual occupants--a weak-eyed,
ague-smitten man, who was so physically worthless that even the
rebel conscripters rejected him; a tall, gaunt woman, with a vicious
shrillness in her voice and a pipe in her mouth; a half score of mangy
yellow dogs, and an equal number of wild, long-haired, staring children.
They had a little "jag" of meal in a bag, a piece of sidemeat, and a
half-dozen chickens. The man had that morning shot an opossum, lean from
its Winter fasting. Shorty rejected this contemptuously.

"I've bin mighty hungry in my time," said he, "but I never got quite
so low down as to eat anything with a tail like a rat. That'd turn my
stummick if I was famishin'."

The man looked on Shorty's display of wealth with lack-luster eyes, but
his wife was fascinated, and quickly closed up a deal which conveyed to
Shorty all the food that they had. Just as Shorty had completed payment,
there came a shot from little Pete's rifle, and the next instant that
youth appeared at the edge of the cornpatch extending up hill from the
cabin, hatless, and yelling at the top of his voice. Shorty and the
others picked up their guns and took position behind the trees.

"What's the matter, Pete?" asked Shorty, as the boy came up, breathless
from his long run. "Rebels out there?"

"No," gasped Pete. "I was hunting out there for a deer, or a elk, or
a bear, when suddenly I come acrost the queerest kind of an animal. It
looked more like a hog than anything else, yet it wasn't a hog, for it
was thinner'n a cat. It had long white tusks, longer'n your hand, that
curled up from its mouth, little eyes that flashed fire, and great long
bristles on his back, that stood straight up. I shot at it and missed
it, and then it run straight at me. I made for the fence as hard as I
could, but it outrun me and was gaining on me every jump. Just as I clim
the fence it a-most ketched me, and made a nip not six inches from my
leg. I could hear him gnash them awful tusks o' his'n."

"Humph," said the woman. "He's run acrost Stevenson's old boar, that
runs in them woods up thar, and is mouty savage this time o' year. He'd
take a laig offen a youngster quicker'n scat, if he ketched him. He done
well to run."

Shorty and the others walked up to the fence and looked over. There was
the old razor-back King of the woods still raging around sniffing the
air of combat.

"Why, it's only a hog, Pete!" said Shorty.

"Only a hog!" murmured Pete with shamed heart.

"That a hog?" echoed the others. "Well, that's the queerest looking hog
I ever saw."

"It's a hog all the same," Shorty assured them. "A genuine razor-back
hog. But he's got the secession devil in him like the people, and you
want to be careful of him. He ain't fit to eat or I'd kill him. Let's
git back to the mill."



CHAPTER XII. THE OPENING OF THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN.

WHAT an ineffably imposing spectacle of military power was presented
to the May sun, shining on the picturesque mountains and lovely valleys
around Chattanooga in the busy days of the Spring of 1864.

Never before, in all his countless millions of journeys around the
globe, had he seen a human force of such tremendous aggressive
power concentrated on such a narrow space. He may have seen larger
armies--though not many--but he had never seen 100,000 such veterans
as those--originally of as fine raw material as ever gathered under a
banner, and trained to war by nearly three years of as arduous schooling
as men ever knew, which sifted out the weaklings, the incompetents, the
feeblewilled by the boisterous winnowing of bitter war.

Thither had been gathered 35,000 of the Army of the Tennessee, who had
"Fort Donelson," "Shiloh," "Corinth," "Chickasaw Bayou," "Big Black,"
"Jackson," and "Vicksburg" in letters of gold on their tattered
regimental banners, and whom Sherman proudly boasted were "the best
soldiers on earth." The courtly, idolized McPherson was their leader,
with such men as John A. Logan, T. E. G. Ransom, Frank P. Blair and P.
J. Osterhaus as lieutenants and subordinates.

There was the Army of the Cumberland, 60,000 strong, from which all
dross had been burned by the fierce fires of Shiloh, Perryville, Stone
River and Chickamauga; and the campaigns across two States. "The noblest
Roman of them all," grand old "Pap" Thomas, was in command, with Howard,
Stanley, Newton, Wood, Palmer, Davis, Joe Hooker, Williams and Geary as
his principal lieutenants.

And thither came--15,000 strong--all of the Army of the Ohio who could
be spared from garrisoning dearly-won Kentucky and East Tennessee. They
were men who had become inured to hunting their enemies down in mountain
fastnesses, and fighting them wherever they could be found. At their
head was Gen. J. M. Schofield, whom the Nation had come to know from his
administration of the troublous State of Missouri. Gens. Hovey, Hascall
and Cox were division commanders.

With what an air of conscious power; of evident mastery of all that
might confront them; of calm, unflinching determination for the
conflict, those men moved and acted. They felt themselves part of
a mighty machine, that had its work before it, and would move with
resistless force to perform the appointed task.

The men fell instinctively into their ranks in the companies. Without an
apparent effort the companies became regiments, the regiments quietly,
but with swift certainty, swung into their places in the brigade, and
the brigades massed up noiselessly into divisions and corps.

And while the 100,000 veterans were drilling, organizing and manuvering
the railroad was straining every one of its iron and steel tendons to
bring in food and ammunition to supply the mighty host, and provide a
store from which it could draw when it went forth upon its great errand.
There were 35,000 horses to be fed, in addition to the 100,000 veterans,
and so the baled hay made heaps that rivalled in size the foothills of
the mountains. The limitless cornfields of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois
heaped up their golden harvests in other hillocks. Every mountain pass
was filled with interminable droves of slow-footed cattle, bringing
forward "army beef on the hoof." Boxes of ammunition and crackers, and
barrels of pork covered acres, and the railroad brought them in faster
than the hundreds of regimental teams could haul them out.

There is no place in the world where the assembling of such a mighty
host could be seen to such an advantage as at Chattanooga. The mountains
that tower straight up into the clouds around the undulating plain on
which the town stands form a glorious natural amphitheater about an
arena for gigantic dramas.

Naturally, the boys were big-eyed all the time with the sights that
filled the landscape near and far. Wherever they looked they were
astonished, and when in a march they came out on a crest that commanded
a wide view, they could not help halting, to drink all its wonders in.
Even the experienced Si and Shorty were as full of amazement as they,
and watched with fascination the spectacle of mighty preparation and
concentrated power.

One day they got a pass and took the boys over to Lookout Mountain, for
a comprehensive survey of the whole scene. They trudged over the steep,
rough, winding road up the mountainside, and mads their way to Pulpit
Rock, on the "nose" of the mountain, which commands a view that is
hardly equalled in any country. From it they overlooked, as upon a map,
the wide plain around Chattanooga, teeming with soldiers and horses,
and piled-up war material, the towering line of Mission Ridge, the
fort-crowned hills, the endless square miles of white camps.

     "'The King sat on the rocky brow
     That looks o'er sea-born Salamis,

     And ships by thousands lay below,
     And men and Nations, all were his,'

murmured Monty Scruggs. "I didn't suppose there was as many soldiers in
all the world before."

"Si," said Shorty, "we thought old Rosecrans had heaped up the measure
when we started out from Nashville for Stone River. But that was only
the beginning for the gang he got together for the Tullyhomy campaign,
and 'taint more than onct to what old Sherman's goin' to begin business
with. I like it. I like to see any man start into a game with a full
hand and a big stack o' chips."

"Well, from the talk that comes down from headquarters," said Si, "he
may need every man. We've never had enough men so far. The rebels have
always had more men than we did, and had the advantage of position.
We only won by main strength and bull-headedness, and Rosecrans's good
management. The rebels are straining every nerve to put up the fight o'
their lives, and they say old Jo Johnston's got nearly as many men over
there at Buzzard Roost as we have, and works that beat them we hustled
Bragg out of around Tullyhomy."

"Well, let's have it as soon as possible," said Shorty. "I'm anxious to
see if we can't make another Mission Ridge over there at Buzzard Roost,
and run them fellers clean back to the Gulf of Mexico. But, great
Jehosephat, won't there be a Spring freshet when all them men and horses
and cattle break camp and start out over the country."

"Goodness, what kin I do to keep from gitting lost in all that crowd?"
wailed Pete Skidmore, and the others looked as if his fears also struck
their hearts.

"Just stick closs to the 200th Injianny and to me, and you won't git
lost, Pete," said Shorty. "The 200th Injianny's your home, and all real
nice boys stay around home."

They made a little fire on the broad, flat surface of Pulpit Rock,
boiled some coffee, and ate their dinner there, that they might watch
the wonderful panorama without interruption. As the afternoon,
advanced, they saw an unusual commotion in the camps, and the sound of
enthusiastic cheering floated faintly up to their lofty perch.

"I'll bet a big red apple orders to move has come," said Si. "Le's git
back to camp as quick as possible."

They hurried down the mountain-side, and turned sharply to the right
into the road to Rossville Gap.

"Yes, the orders to move has come," said Shorty. "See them big fires,
and the boys burnin' up things."

In every camp the cheering men were making bonfires of the furnishings
of their Winter camps. Chairs, benches, tables, checker-boards,
cupboards, what-nots, etc., which had cost them considerable pains to
procure, and upon which they had lavished no little mechanical skill,
and sometimes artistic ornamentation, were ruthlessly thrown to feed the
joyful fires which blazed in each camp which had been lucky enough to
receive orders. The bands were playing, to emphasize and give utterance
to the rejoicings of the men.

Shorty took little Pete by the hand to assist him in keeping up with
the rapid pace Si and he set up to get back to their own camp, and
participate in its demonstrations.

"Of course, our rijimint's goin' too--goin' to have the advance," Si
said to Shorty, more than anything else to quiet a little disturbing
fear that would creep in. "They wouldn't leave it behind to guard one o'
these mud-piles they call forts, would they?"

"They never have yit," answered Shorty, hopefully. "They say old Sherman
is as smart as they make 'em. He knows a good rijimint when he sees it,
and he's certain to want the 200th Injianny in the very foremost place.
Hustle along, boys."

As they neared their camp they were delighted to find it in a similar
uproar to the others, with the men cheering, the brigade band playing,
and the men throwing everything they could find on the brightly blazing
bonfires. Ordinarily, such a long march as they had made to the top of
the Lookout Mountain and back again would have been very tiresome, but
in the enthusiasm of the occasion they forgot their fatigue--almost
forgot their hunger.

"The orders are," the Orderly-Sergeant explained to Si, as they were
cooking supper, "that we're to move out tomorrow morning in light
marching order, three days' rations, 80 rounds of cartridges, only
blankets, no tents, but one wagon to a regiment, and one mule to a
company to carry ammunition and rations. O, we're stripped down to the
skin for a fight, I tell you. It's to be business from the first jump,
and we'll be right in it. We're to have the advance, and clear away
the rebel cavalry and pickets, to open up the road for the rest of the
division. You'll find your rations and ammunition in front of my tent.
Draw 'em and get everything ready, and go to sleep as soon as possible,
for we'll skin out of here at the first peep of day. There's a whole
passel of sassy rebel cavalry out in front, that's been entirely too
familiar and free, and we want to get a good whack at them before they
know what's up."

And the busy Orderly passed on to superintend other preparations in the
company.

After drawing and dividing the rations and cartridges. Si gave the boys
the necessary instruction about having their things ready so that
they could get them in the dark the next morning, and ordered them to
disregard the bonfires and mirth-making, and lie down to get all the
sleep they could, in preparation for the hard work of the next day.
Then, like the rest of the experienced men, who saw that the campaign
was at length really on, and this would be the last opportunity for an
indefinite while to write, he sat down to write short letters to his
mother and to Annabel.

Influenced by the example, Shorty thought he ought to write to Maria.
He had received a second letter from her the day that he had gone out to
the mill, and its words had filled his soul with a gladness that passed
speech. The dispassionate reader would not have seen anything in it
to justify this. He would have found it very commonplace, and full
of errors of spelling and of grammar. But Shorty saw none of these.
Shakspere could have written nothing so divinely perfect to him. He had
not replied to it sooner, because he had been industriously thinking of
fitting things to say in reply. Now he must answer at once, or postpone
it indefinitely, and that meant so much longer in hearing again from
her. He got out his stationery, his gold pen, his wooden inkstand,
secured a piece of a cracker box for a desk, and seated himself far
from Si as possible among the men who were writing by the light of the
pitch-pine in the bonfires. Then he pulled from his breast the silk
bandana, and carefully developed from its folds the pocket-book and
Maria's last letter, which he spread out and re-read several times.

Commonplace and formal as the letter was, there was an intangible
something in it that made him feel a little nearer the writer than ever
before. Therefor, he began his reply:

Dere Miss Maria Klegg:

"I talk mi pen in hand to inform you that our walkin'-papers has at last
come, and we start termorrer mornin' for Buzzard Roost to settle jest
whose to rool that roost. Our ideas and Mister Jo Johnston's differ
on that subjeck. When we git through with him hele no more, though he
probably won't be so purty as he is now."

[Illustration: LITTLE PETE'S AWFUL REBELS. 149]

He stopped to rest after this prodigious literary effort, and wipe the
beaded sweat from his brow. He saw little Pete Skidmore looking at him
with troubled face.

"What're you doin' up, Pete? Lay down and go to sleep."

"Say, Corpril, the Orderly said we wuz goin' to fight a whole passel of
rebel cavalry, didn't he?"

"Um-hum!" assented Shorty, cudgeling his brain as to what he should next
write.

"Them's them awful kind o' rebels, ain't they--the John Morgan
kind--that ride big horses that snort fire, and they have long swords,
with which they chop men's heads off?"

"A lot o' yellin', gallopin' riff-raff," said Shorty, with the usual
contempt of an infantryman for cavalry. "Ain't worth the fodder their
bosses eat."

"Ain't they terribler than any other kind o' rebels?" asked Pete,
anxiously.

"Naah," said Shorty, sharply. "Go to sleep, Pete, and don't bother me
with no more questions. I'm writin' a letter." He proceeded with his
literary effort:

     "I was gladder than I kin tell you to git yore letter. You
     do write the best letters of any woman in the whole world."

He looked up, and there was little Pete's face before him.

"What do you do when one o' them wild rebels comes cavorting and
tearing toward you, on a big hoss, with a long sword, and yelling like a
catamount?" he asked.

"Paste him with a bullet and settle him," said Shorty testily, for he
wanted to go on with his letter.

"But s'pose he comes on you when your gun ain't loaded, and his sword
is, or you've missed him, as I did that hog?"

"Put on your bayonet and prod his hoss in the breast, and then give him
18 inches o' cold steel. That'll settle him. Go and lay down, Pete, I
tell you. Don't disturb me. Don't you see I'm writing?"

Shorty went on with his letter.

"How I wish you wood rite offener. Ide like to get a letter from you
every--"

"Say, Corpril," broke in little Pete, "they say that them rebel cavalry
kin reach much further with their swords when they're up on a hoss
than you kin with your gun and bayonit, especially when you're a
little feller like me, and they're quicker'n wildcats, and there's just
millions of 'em, and--"

"Who says?" said Shorty savagely. "You little open-mouthed squab, are
you lettin' them lyin', gassin, galoots back there fill you up with
roorbacks about them triflin', howlin', gallopin', rebel cavalry? Go
back there, and tell 'em that if I ketch another man breathin' a word
to you about the rebel cavalry I'll come and mash his head as flat as
a pancake. Don't you be scared about rebel cavalry. You're in much more
danger o' bein' struck by lightnin' than of bein' hit by a rebel
on hossback. Go off and go to sleep, now, and don't ask me no more
questions."

"Can't I ask you just one?" pleaded Pete.

"Yes, just one."

"If we form a holler square agin cavalry will I be in the holler, or up
on the banks?"

For the first time in his life, Shorty restrained the merciless jeer
that would come to his lips at any exhibition of weakness by those
around him. The thought of Maria softened him and made him more
sympathetic. He had promised her to be a second father to little Pete.
He saw that the poor boy was being frightened as he had never been
before by the malicious fun of the veterans in pouring into his ears
stories of the awful character of the rebel cavalry. Shorty sucked
the ink off his pen, put his hand soothingly on Pete, and said in a
paternally comforting way:

"My boy, don't let them blowhards back there stuff you with sich
nonsense about the rebel cavalry. They won't git near enough you to
hit you with a sword half a mile long. They're like yaller dogs--their
bark's the wust thing about 'em. I'll look out for you. You'll stay
right by me, all the time, and you won't git hurt. You go back there to
my blankits and crawl into 'em and go to sleep. I'll be there as soon's
I finish this letter, Forgit all about the rebel cavalry, and go to
sleep. Ter-morrer you'll see every mother's son o' them rebels breakin'
their hoss' necks to git out o' range o' our Springfields."

Then Shorty finished his letter:

     "Ime doin' my best to be a second father to little Pete.
     Heze as good a little soul as ever lived, but when I talk
     another boy to raise it'll be sumwhair else than in the
     army.

     "Yores, till deth."

Just then the silver-voiced bugles in hundreds of camps on
mountain-sides, in glens, in the valleys, and on the plains began
ringing out sweetly mournful "Taps," and the echoes reverberated from
the towering palisades of Lookout to the rocky cliffs of the Pigeon
Mountains.

It was the last general "Taps" that mighty army would hear for 100 days
of stormy battling.

The cheering ceased, the bonfires burned out. Shorty put his letter in
an envelope, directed it, and added it to the heap at the Chaplain's
tent.

Then he went back and arranged his things so that he could lay his hands
unfailingly on them in the darkness of the morning, straightened little
Pete out so that he would lie easier, and crawled in beside him.



CHAPTER XIII. THE FIRST DAY OF THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN.

AS usual, it seemed to the boys of the 200th Ind. that they had only
lain down when the bugle blew the reveille on the morning of May 3,
1864.

The vigilant Orderly-Sergeant was at once on his feet, rousing the other
"non-coms" to get the men up.

Si and Shorty rose promptly, and, experienced campaigners as they were,
were in a moment ready to march anywhere or do anything as long as their
rations and their cartridges held out.

The supply of rations and cartridges were the only limitations Sherman's
veterans knew. Their courage, their willingness, their ability to go any
distance, fight and whip anything that breathed had no limitations. They
had the supremest confidence in themselves and their leaders, and no
more doubt of their final success than they had that the sun would rise
in the morning.

Vigorous, self-reliant manhood never reached a higher plane than in the
rank and file of Sherman's army in the Spring of 1864.

Si and Shorty had only partially undressed when they lay down. Their
shoes, hats and blouses were with their haversacks under their heads.
Instinctively, as their eyes opened, they reached for them and put them
on.

That was a little trick only learned by hard service.

The partners started in to rouse their boys. As soon as these were
fairly awake they became greatly excited. They had gone to sleep
bubbling over with the momentousness of the coming day, and now that day
had opened.

There was a frantic scrambling for clothing, which it was impossible for
them to find in the pitchy darkness. There were exclamations of boyish
ill-temper at their failure. They thought the enemy were right upon
them, and every instant was vital. Monty Scruggs and Alf Russell could
not wait to dress, but rushed for their guns the first thing, and
buckled on their cartridge-boxes.

"Gid Mackall, you've got on my shoes," screamed Harry Josyln. "I can't
find 'em nowhere, and I laid 'em right beside me. Take 'em off this
minute."

"Hain't got your shoes on; can't find but one o' my own," snorted Gid in
reply. "You helter-skelter little fly-up-the-crick, you never know where
your own things are, and you lose everybody else's."

"There's my shoe," exclaimed Harry, as he stumbled over one.

"No; that's mine. Let it alone--give it to me," yelled Gid, and in an
instant the two were locked together in one of their usual fights.

Si snatched them apart, cuffed them, and lighted a bit of candle, which
he kept for emergencies, to help them and the rest find their things.
He improved the occasion to lecture them as to the way they should do in
the future.

After awakening him, Shorty had calmed down the excited little Pete,
found his shoes and other clothes for him, and seen that he put them on
properly.

"Have everything all right at startin', Pete," said he, "and you'll be
all right for the day. You'll have plenty o' time. The rebels'll wait
for us."

"Aint them them, right out there?" asked Pete nervously, pointing to the
banks of blackness out in front.

"No; them's the same old cedar thickets they wuz when you went to bed.
They hain't changed a mite durin' the night, except that they've got
some dew on 'em. You must git over seein' bouggers wherever it's dark.
We'll build a fire and cook some breakfast, and git a good ready for
startin'. You must eat all you kin, for you'll need all you kin hold
before the day's over."

Si was employed the same way in quieting down the rest, seeing that
every one was properly clothed and had all his equipments, and then
he gathered them around a little fire to boil their coffee and broil a
piece of fresh beef for their breakfast. He had the hardest work getting
them to pay attention to this, and eat all they could. They were so
wrought up over the idea that the battle would begin at any minute
that the sound of a distant bugle or any noise near would bring them up
standing, to the utter disregard of their meal.

"Take it cool, boys, and eat all you kin," he admonished them. "It's
generally a long time between meals sich times as these, and the more
you eat now the longer you kin go without."

But the boys could not calm themselves.

"There, ain't that rebel cavalry galloping and yelling?" one exclaimed;
and they all sprang to their feet and stared into the darkness.

"No," said Shorty, with as much scorn as he could express with his
mouthful of the last issue of soft bread that he was to get. "Set down.
That's only the Double Canister Battery goin' to water. Their Dutch
bugler can't speak good English, his bugle only come to this country at
the beginning o' the war, and he's got a bad cold in his head besides.
Nobody kin understand his calls but the battery boys, and they won't
have no other. They swear they've the best bugler in the army."'

"Set down! Set down, I tell you," Si repeated sternly, "and swaller all
the grub you kin hold. That's your first business, and it's just as much
your business as it is to shoot when you're ordered to. You've got to
lay in enough now to run you all day. And all that you've got to listen
for is our own bugle soundin' 'Fall in!' Don't mind no other noise."

They tried to obey, but an instant later all leaped to their feet, as a
volley of mule screechers mixed with human oaths and imprecations came
up from a neighboring ravine.

"There! There's the rebels, sure enough," they ejaculated, dropping
their coffee and meat and rushing for their guns.

"Come back and set down, and finish your breakfast," shouted Si. "That
ain't no rebels. That's only the usual family row over the breakfast
table between the mules and the teamsters."

"Mules is kickin' because the teamsters don't wash their hands and put
on white aprons when they come to wait on 'em," suggested Shorty.

The boys looked at him in amazement, that he should jest at such a
momentous time.

"There's the 'assembly' now," said Si, as the first streak of dawn
on the mountain-top was greeted by the bugler at the 200th Ind.'s
Headquarters, filling the chill air with stirring notes.

"Put on your things. Don't be in a hurry. Put on everything just right,
so's it won't fret or chafe you during the march. You'll save time by
takin' time now."

He inspected the boys carefully as it grew lighter, showed them how to
adjust their blanket-rolls and canteens and heavy haversacks so as to
carry to the best advantage, examined their guns, and saw that each had
his full allowance of cartridges.

"Here comes meat for the rebel cavalry," shouted one of the older
members of the company, as Si brought his squad up to take its place on
the left of Co. Q.

"I wouldn't say much about rebel cavalry, if I was you, Wolf Greenleaf,"
Si admonished the joker. "Who was it down in Kentucky that was afraid
to shoot at a rebel cavalryman, for fear it would make him mad, and he
might do something?"

The laugh, that followed this old-time "grind" on one of the teasers of
new recruits silenced him, and encouraged the boys.

As the light broadened, and revealed the familiar hills
and woods, unpeopled by masses of enemies, the shivery
"2 o'clock-in-the-morning-feeling" vanished from the boys' hearts, and was
succeeded by eagerness to see the redoubtable rebels, of whom so much
had been said.

The companies formed up into the regiment on the parade ground, the
Colonel mounted his horse, took his position on the right flank, and
gave the momentous order:

"Attention, battalion--Right face--Forward--file left--March!"

The first wave rolled forward in the mighty avalanche of men, which was
not to be stayed until, four months later, Sherman telegraphed North the
glad message:

"Atlanta is ours, and fairly won."

As they wound around and over the hills in front, they saw the
"reserves," the "grand guard," and finally the pickets with their
reserves drawn in, packed up ready for marching, and waiting for their
regiments to come up, when they would fall-in.

"There's a h--l's mint of deviling, tormenting rebel cavalry out there
beyond the hills," they called out to the regiment. "Drop onto 'em, and
mash 'em. We'll be out there to help, if you need it."

"The 200th Injianny don't need no help to mash all the rebel cavalry
this side o' the brimstone lakes," Si answered proudly. "Much obliged to
you, all the same."

"Capt. McGillicuddy," commanded the Colonel, as they advanced beyond
where the picket-line had been, "deploy your company on both sides of
the road, and take the advance. Keep a couple hundred yards ahead of the
regiment."

"Hooray," said Si, "we're in the lead again, and we'll keep it till the
end o' the chapter. Co. Q, to the front and center."

They advanced noiselessly over the crest of a ridge, and the squad,
which gained a little on the rest, saw a rebel videt sitting on his
horse in the road some 200 or 300 yards away. The guns of the nervous
boys were up instantly, but Si restrained them with a motion of his
hand.

"What's the matter with him?" he asked Shorty, indicating the rebel.

"Him and his hors's wore out and asleep," answered Shorty, after a
minute's study. "Look at his head and his hoss's."

"Kin we sneak up on him and git him?" asked Si.

"Scarcely," answered Shorty. "Look over there."

A squad of rebels were riding swiftly up the road toward the videt.

"Shan't I shoot him?" asked the nervous little Pete, lifting his gun to
his face.

"No, no; give him a show for his life," answered Shorty, laying his hand
on Pete's gun.

"It'd be murder to shoot him now. Gi' me your gun, Pete. Run down the
road there apiece, and hit him or his horse with a stone and wake him
up."

The boys, to whom a rebel was a savage wolf, to be killed any way that
he could be caught, looked wonderingly at Si, who responded by a nod of
approval.

"Won't he chop me with his sword?" asked Pete, still full of the terrors
of that weapon.

"We'll look out for that. Go ahead, quick, Pete," said Si.

Poor little Pete, looking as if he was being sent to lead a forlorn
hope, rushed frantically forward, picking up a stone as he ran, and
hurled it with a true aim squarely against the rebel's breast, who woke
with a start, clutched his carbine, and stared around, while little Pete
dashed into the brush to avoid his dreaded saber.

"Look out for yourself, reb. We're a-coming," shouted Si.

The rebel whirled his horse about, fired his carbine into the air,
and sped back to his friends, while the squad rushed forward and took
position behind trees. The rebels came plunging on.

"Fire!" shouted Si.

The guns of the squad crashed almost together. The bullets seemed to
strike near, but without taking effect on any one of the rebels, who
seemed to catch sight of the rest of Co. Q coming over the crest. They
whirled their horses around, and started back on a sharp trot, while the
boys were reloading.

"Go ahead. Sergeant," shouted Capt. McGillicuddy, from the rear. "Follow
them up. We're right behind you. Push them back on their reserves."

"All right, Cap. Back they go," shouted Si, leading forward his squad
in a heavy-footed run down the road. They soon came to an opening of
somewhat level ground, made by the clearing around a cabin.

The rebel squad halted beyond the cornfields, turned about, and opened
fire.

"Holy smoke, look there," gasped Monty Scruggs, as a company of rebel
cavalry came tearing over the hill in front, to the assistance of their
comrades.

"Them ain't many for cavalry," said Shorty, as he and Si deployed the
boys behind fence-corners, and instructed them to shoot carefully and
low.

"Sargint, see there, and there," shouted Alf Russell, as other companies
of rebels came galloping through over the crest, while the first
arrivals began throwing down the fences, preparatory to a charge.

"Yes, there's about a rijimint," Si answered coolly. "We'll need the
most o' Co. Q to 'tend to them. Here they come."

"Sergeant, what's all this disturbance you're kicking up in camp?" said
Capt. McGillicuddy playfully, as he deployed Co. Q. "Can't you take
a quiet walk out into the country, without stirring up the whole
neighborhood?"

"They seem to've bin at home and expectin' us, Capt," grinned Si, as he
pointed to the augmenting swarm of horsemen.

"There does seem to be a tolerably full house," answered the Captain
with a shrug. "Well, the more the merrier. Boys, shoot down those
fellows who're tearing down the fences. That'll stop any rush on us, and
we'll develop their force."

"It's developing itself purty fast, seems to me. There comes another
rijimint," remarked Si.

The firing grew pretty noisy.

Si was delighted to see how naturally his boys took to their work. After
the first flurry of excitement at confronting the yelling, galloping
horde, they crouched down behind their fence-corners, and loaded and
fired as deliberately as the older men.

"What sort of a breach of the peace is this you are committing, Capt.
McGillicuddy?" asked Col. McBiddle, coming up at the head of the 200th
Ind. "And do you want some accomplices?"

"I believe if you'll give me another company I can make a rush across
there and scatter those fellows," answered the Captain.

"All right. Take Co. A. Push them as far as you can, for the orders are
to develop their strength at once. I'll follow close behind and help you
develop, if you need me."

An instant later the two companies rushed across the field, making a
bewildering transformation in the rebels' minds from charging to
being charged. The rebels were caught before they could complete their
formation. There was a brief tumult of rushes and shots and yells, and
they were pushed back through the woods, with some losses In killed and
wounded and stampeded horses.

Si had led his squad straight across the field, against a group engaged
in pulling down the fence. They were caught without their arms, and two
were run down and captured. Palpitating with success, the boys rushed
over to where the regiment was gathering itself together at the edge of
the woods on the brow of the ridge.

"Why don't they go ahead? What're they stoppin' for? The whole
rijimint's up," Si asked, with a premonition of something wrong.

"Well, I should say there was something to stop for," answered Shorty,
as they arrived where they could see, and found the whole country in
front swarming with rebel cavalry as far as their eyes could reach.

"Great Scott," muttered Si, with troubled face, for the sight was
appalling. "Is the whole Confederacy out there on hossback?"

"O, my, do we have to fight all them?" whimpered little Pete, scared as
much by the look on Shorty's face as at the array.

"Shut up, Pete," said Shorty petulantly, as a shell from a rebel battery
shrieked through the woods with a frightful noise. "Git behind this
stump here, and lay your gun across it. I'll stand beside you. Don't
shoot till you've a bead on a man. Keep quiet and listen to orders."

A rebel brigade was rapidly preparing to charge. It stretched out far
beyond the flanks of the regiment.

"Steady, men! Keep cool!" rang out the clear, calm voice of the Colonel.
"Don't fire till they come to that little run in the field, and then
blow out the center of that gang."

The brigade swept forward with a terrific yell. Si walked behind his
squad, and saw that every muzzle was depressed to the proper level.

The brigade came on grandly, until they reached the rivulet, and then a
scorching blast broke out from the muzzles of the 200th Ind., which made
them reel and halt.

Yells of "Close up, Alabamians!" "This way, Tennesseeans!" "Form on your
colors, Georgians!" came from the rebels as the boys reloaded. Then all
sounds were drowned in the rattling musketry, as the rebels began a hot
fire from their saddles, in answer to the Union musketry.

"Captain, they are moving out a brigade on either flank to take us in
the rear," said Col. McBiddle calmly to Capt. McGillicuddy. "We'll
have to fall back to the brigade. Pass the word along to retire slowly,
firing as we go. The brigade must be near. You had better move your
company over toward the right, to meet any attack that may come from
that direction. I'll send Co. A toward the other flank."

It was a perilous movement to make in front of such overwhelming force.
But the smoke curtained the manuver and the rebels only discovered it
by the diminution of the fire in their front. Then they and the flanking
brigades came on with ringing yells, and it seemed that the regiment
was to be swept off the face of the earth. The 200th Ind. was not to be
scared by yells, however, and sent such a galling fire from front and
flanks, that the rebel advance lost its rushing impetus. The regiment
was reaching the edge of the woods. The clear fields would give the
rebel cavalry its chance.

The whole command advanced, the moment the rebels began to break under
the fire, across the fields and through the woods to the crest where
the 200th Ind. had first tried to stop the swarming rebel horsemen. From
there they could see the broad plain rapidly vacated by their enemies,
hurrying away from the pursuing shells.

The Colonel's clear, penetrating tones rang above the tumult:

"Attention, 200th Ind.! Every man for himself across the fields. Rally
on the fence beyond."

Shorty, whose face had been scratched by a bullet, took little Pete
by the hand. "Now, run for it, my boy, as you never run before in your
life. Hold on to your gun."

There was a wild rush, through a torrent of bullets, across the cleared
space, and as he jumped the fence, Si was rejoiced to see his squad all
following him, with Shorty dragging little Pete in the rear.

They had scarcely struck the ground beyond, when it shook with the crash
of artillery on the knoll above, and six charges of double canister tore
wickedly into the surging mass of rebel cavalry.

"The Double Canister Battery got up jest in the nick o' time," gasped
Shorty, as he shoved little Pete down behind a big log. "It generally
does, though."

"I'm glad the brigade wasn't a mile off," puffed Si, listening with
satisfaction to the long line of rifles singing tenor to the heavy bass
of the cannon.

"Capt. McGillicuddy," said the Colonel, "I ordered you to develop the
enemy's strength. Has it occurred to you that you somewhat overdid the
thing?"



CHAPTER XIV. THE EVENING AFTER THE BATTLE.

"GREAT Jehosephat, how hungry I am," suddenly ejaculated Shorty, stopping
his cheering, as the thunder of the guns died away into an occasional
shot after the rebels galloping back to the distant woods on the ridge
from which they had emerged.

"I must make some coffee. Wonder where I put my matches?"

"Here, Pete," continued Shorty, as he broke off some splinters from the
rails and started a little fire, "take my canteen and Si's and yours,
and run down there and find a spring, and fill 'em, before the others
make a rush. Be spry about it, for there'll be a rush there in a minute,
and you won't have no chance."

The excited boy had to be spoken to a second time before he would come
back to earth, much less comprehend the want of water and food. Like the
rest of his companions, the terrific drama which had just been enacted
had wrought him to a delirium, in which he could think of nothing but a
world full of bellowing cannon, and a nightmare of careering, plunging
horses, with savagely-yelling riders.

They could not realize that the battlecloud had rolled away just
as suddenly as it had burst upon them, and they stood there tightly
grasping their reloaded guns, and staring fixedly into the distance for
the next horrid development.

"I think you'll find a spring right over there where you see that bunch
o' young willers, Pete," said Si, handing him his canteen. "Break for
it, before anybody else gets there and muddies the water."

But Pete still stood rigid and unhearing, clutching his gun with a
desperate grip, and glaring with bulging, unmoving eyes across the
plain.

"Come, wake up, Pete," said Shorty, giving him a sharp shake. "Do as I
tell you, and on the jump. The fight's over."

"The fight's over?" stammered the boy. "Ain't they coming back again?"

"Not on their butternut-dyed lives they ain't," said Shorty scornfully.
"They've got their dirty hides as full o' lickin' as they kin hold for
one day. They'll set around for a while, and rub their hurts, and try to
think out jest how it all happened."

"Skip out, Pete," Si reminded the boy. "The rest o' you boys stack your
guns and foller Pete."

"Hadn't we batter take our guns along?" suggested Monty, holding on to
his with grim fearfulness.

"No. Stack 'em; stack 'em, I tell you," said Si impatiently. "And be
quick about it. They'll all git ahead o' you. Don't you see the rest
stackin' arms?"

The boys obeyed as if dazed, and started to follow little Pete's lead
toward the clump of willows.

The boy, full of the old nick, found an Orderly's horse nipping the
grass close by the path to the spring and, boy like, jumped on its back.
The clatter of the canteens frightened the horse, and he broke into a
dead run.

[Illustration: LITTLE PETE'S HORSE BOLTS. 168]

"Do ye s'pose the fight's really over?" whispered Pete to Alf Russell,
who was just behind him. "Don't you think the rebels just let go to get
a fresh hold?"

"Seems so to me," answered Alf. "Seems to me there was just millions
of 'em, and we only got away with a little passel, in spite of all
that shootin'. Why, when we come out on the ridge the valley down there
seemed fuller of 'em than it was at first."

"We oughtn't to get too far away from our guns," said Monty Scruggs.
"Them woods right over there may be full o' rebels watching to jump us
when we get far enough away."

"I don't like the looks of that hill to the left," said Gid Mackall,
nervously. "An awful lot o' them went behind it, and I didn't see any
come out."

"There, them bushes over there are shaking--they're coming out again,"
said Harry Joslyn, turning to run back for his gun.

"No, not there," nervously interjected Humphrey's, turning with him;
"ain't there something stirring down there by the crick?"

"No, no," said Sandy Baker, desperately. "It's just that blame fool
Pete. Come on! Come on! We've got to. We were ordered to. Le's make a
rush for it, like the men in the Indian stories done when they was sent
for water."

They acted on the suggestion with such vim that when Pete's horse
tripped at the edge of the little run, and sent Pete over its head with
a splash into the mud and water, the rest tumbled and piled on top of
him.

The men on the hill, who had noticed it, set up a yell of laughter,
which scared the boys worse than ever, for they thought it meant the
rebels were on them again.

"Now, what new conniption's struck them dumbed little colts?" said Si,
irritably, as he strode down to them, pulled them out, and set them on
their feet, with a shaking and some strong words.

"Is the rebels coming again?" gasped Pete, rubbing the mud and water out
of his eyes.

"No, you little fool," said Si. "The rebels ain't comin'. They're goin'
as fast as their horses kin carry 'em. They've got through comin' for
today.

"There ain't one of 'em within cannon-shot, and won't be till we go out
and hunt 'em up again. You've come near spilin' the spring with your
tormented foolishness. What on earth possessed you to climb that boss?
You need half killin', you do. Go up higher there and fill your canteens
from where the water's clear. Be slow and careful, and don't rile
the water. Say, I see some nice sassafras over there. I always drink
sassafras tea this time o' year. It cleans the blood. I'm goin' over and
see if I can't git a good root while you're fillin' your canteens."

Si walked out some distance in front of them, pulling as he walked
some of the tender, fragrant, spicy young leaves of the sassafras, and
chewing them with gusto. Arriving at the top of a rise he selected a
young shrub, pulled it up, carefully loosed its root from the mulchy
soil, and cut it off with his knife. His careless deliberation calmed
the overwrought nerves of the boys, and when he returned they had their
canteens filled, and walked back composedly to the fires, when they
suddenly remembered that they were as hungry as Si and Shorty, and fell
to work cooking their suppers.

"Is that the way with the rebel cavalry?" asked Monty Scruggs, with
his mouthful of crackers and meat. "Do they come like a hurricane, and
disappear again like an April shower?"

"That's about it," answered Shorty disdainfully. "That's the way with
all cavalry, dad-burn 'em. They're like a passel o' fice pups. They're
all yelp and bark, and howl and showin' o' teeth. They're jest goin' to
tear you to pieces. But when you pick up a stone or a club, or git ready
to give 'em a good kick they're gone, the devil knows where. They're
only an aggravation. You never kin do nothin' with 'em, and they kin
do nothin' with you. I never kin understand why God Almighty wasted his
time in makin' cavalry of any kind, Yank or rebel. All our own cavalry's
good for is to steal whisky and chickens from honest soldiers of the
infantry. The infantry's the only thing. It's like the big dog that
comes up without any special remarks, and sets his teeth in the other
dog. The thing only ends when one dog or the other is badly whipped and
somethin's bin accomplished."

"Will we have to fight them cavalry again tomorrow jest the same way?"
asked little Pete, still somewhat nervously.

"Lord only knows," answered Shorty indifferently, feeling around for
his pipe. "A feller never knows when he's goin' to have to fight rebel
cavalry any more'n he knows when he's goin' to have the toothache. The
thing just happens, and that's all there is of it."

Si and Shorty, having finished their suppers, lighted their pipes, and
strolled up through the regiment to talk over with the others the events
of the day and the probabilities of the morrow.

Left alone, the tongues of the excited boys became loosened, and ran
like the vibrations of a cicada's rattle.

"Wasn't it just wonderful?" said Monty Scruggs. "It looked as if a
million circuses had suddenly let out over there.

     "'The Assyrians came down like a wolf on the fold,
     And their cohorts were gleaming with purple and gold.'

"Only there didn't seem much purple and gold about them. Seemed mostly
brown rags and slouch hats and long swords. Gracious, did you ever see
anything as long and wicked as them swords! Seemed that every one was
pointing directly at me, and they'd reach me the very next jump."

"Of course, you thought they were all looking at you," said Alf Russell.
"That's your idea, always, wherever you are. You think you're spouting
on the platform, and the center of attraction. But I knew that they were
all looking at me, as folks generally do."

"More self-conceit," sneered Harry Joslyn. "Just because you're so good
looking, Alf. I knew that they weren't bothering about any boy
orator, who does most of his shooting with his mouth, nor any young
pill-peddler, who sings in the choir, and goes home with the prettiest
girl. They were making a dead set on the best shot in the crowd, the
young feller who'd come into the war for business, and told his folks
at home before he started that he was going to shoot Jeff Davis with his
own hand before he got back. That was me, I saw the Colonel of one o'
the regiments point his sword straight at me as they came across the
run, and tell his men to be sure and get me of all others."

"Why didn't you shoot him, if you're such a deadshot?" asked Gid
Mackall.

"Why, I was just loading my gun, when I saw him, and as I went to put on
the cap you were shaking so that it jarred the cap out of my hand, and
before I could get another, the smoke became so thick I couldn't see
anything."

"I shaking?" said Gib, with deep anger. "Now, Harry Josyn--"

"Come, boys; don't have a scrap, now," pleaded the serious-minded Alf.
"Just think how many dead men are lying around. It looks like raising a
disturbance at a funeral."

"That's so," said Jake Humphreys. "I don't think any of us is in shape
to throw up anything to another about shaking. I own up that I was never
so scared in all my life, and I feel now as if I ought to get down on my
knees before everybody, and thank God Almighty that my life was spared.
I ain't ashamed to say so."

"Bully for you, Jake," said Monty Scruggs, heartily. "We all feel that
way, but hain't the nerve to say so. I wish the Chaplain would come
around and open a meeting of thanksgiving and prayer."

"I tell you what's the next best thing," suggested Jake Humphreys. "Let
Alf Russell sing one of those good old hymns they used to sing in the
meetings back at home."

"Home!" How many thousands of miles away--how many years of time
away--seemed to those flushed, overwrought boys, bivouacking on the
deadstrewn battlefield, the pleasant cornfields, the blooming orchards,
the drowsy hum of bees, the dear homes, sheltering fathers, mothers,
and sisters; the plain white churches, with their faithful, grayhaired
pastors, of the fertile plains of Indiana.

Alf Russell lifted up his clear, far-reaching boyish tenor, that they
had heard a thousand times at devout gatherings, at joyful weddings, at
sorrowing funerals, in that grandest and sweetest of hymns:

     "All hail the power of Jesus' name;
     Let angels prostrate fall.
     Bring forth the royal-diadem.
     And crown Him Lord of All."

As far as his voice could reach, the rough soldiers, officers and men,
stopped to listen to him--listened to him with emotions far too deep
for the cheers that usually fly to the lips of soldiers at anything that
stirs them. The higher officers quit talking of the plans of the
morrow; the minor ones stopped, pen in hand, over their reports and
requisitions; the busy Surgeons stayed their keen knives; the fussy
Orderly-Sergeants quit bothering about rations and details; the men
paused, looked up from their cards and cooking until the hymn was sung
through.

The voice was so pure, so fresh, so redolent of all that had graced and
sweetened their far-off past, that it brought to each swarming emotions
for which there was no tongue.

"Bully for you, Alf; you're a sweet singer in Israel," said Si, brushing
away a suspicion of a tear. "Spread out your blankets, boys, and
lay down. Git all the sleep you kin, for there's lots o' work for us
tomorrow. There goes tattoo!"



CHAPTER XV THE FIGHTING AROUND BUZZARD ROOST

AND CAPTURE OF THE REBEL STRONGHOLD.

FOR the next few days there was a puzzling maze of movements, which must
have completely mystified the rebel Generals--as was intended--for
it certainly passed the comprehension of our own keen-eyed and
shrewdly-guessing rank-and-file and lower oflficers.

Regiments, brigades and divisions marched hither-and-yon, wound around
and over the hills and mountains, started out at a great rate in the
morning, marched some distance, halted apparently halfway, and then
perhaps went back. Skirmishing, that sometimes rose to the proportions
of a real battle, broke out at unexpected times and places, and as
unexpectedly ended. Batteries galloped into position, without much
apparent warning or reason, viciously shelled some distant point, and
then, as the infantry were girding up themselves for something real to
follow all the noise, stopped as abruptly as they had begun, and nothing
followed.

This went on so long, and apparently so purposelessly, that even the
constant Si and Shorty were shaken a little by it.

"It can't be," said Shorty to Si, one evening after they had gone into
bivouac, and the two had drawn away from the boys a little, to talk
over things by themselves, "that old Sherman's got one o' his crazy fits
again, can it? They say that sometimes he gits crazier 'n a March hare,
and nobody kin tell just when the fit'll come on him. I never did see so
much criss cross work as we've bin doin' for the last few days. I can't
make head nor tail of it, and can't find anybody else that kin."

"I can't make it out no more than you kin," assented Si. "And I've
thought o' that crazy idee, too. You know them boys over there in
Rousseau's old division was under Sherman once before, when he was
in command at Louisville, and they say that he got crazier'n a locoed
steer--actually looney, so's they had to relieve him and send him back
home to git cured. They'd be really scared about things, but their
officers heard old Pap Thomas say that things wuz goin' along all right,
and that satisfied 'em. I ain't goin' to worry so long's old Thomas is
in command o' the Army o' the Cumberland, and we're in it. He'll take
care that things come out straight."

"You bet," heartily agreed Shorty. "The Army o' the Cumberland'll be all
right as long as he's on deck, and he kin take care o' the other
armies, too, if they git into trouble. I struck some o' the Army o' the
Tennessee when I went back with them prisoners today, and got talkin'
with 'em. I asked 'em if Sherman wasn't subject to crazy fits, and they
said yes, he had 'em, but when he did he made the rebels a mighty sight
crazier'n he was. They went on to say that we'd git used to Sherman
after awhile, and he'd show us some kinks in soljerin' that we never
dreamed of."

"Sich plaguey conceit," muttered Si.

"I should say so. But I never seen anybody so stuck on theirselves as
them Army o' the Tennessee fellers. Just because they took Vicksburg--"

"With all the navy to help 'em," interjected Si.

"Yes, with more gunboats than we have army wagons. They think they know
more about soljerin than anybody else in the world, and ackchelly want
to give us p'ints as to how to git away with the rebels."

"The idee," said Si scornfully. "Talkin' that way to the best soljers
in the world--the Army o' the Cumberland. I hate conceit, above all
things. I'm glad I hain't none of it in me. 'Tain't that we say it, but
everybody knows it that the Army o' the Cumberland's the best army in
the world, and the 200th Injianny--"

"I told 'em that the Army o' the Cumberland was the best army, because
it had the 200th Injianny in it, and, would you believe me, they said
they'd never even heard o' the 200th Injianny?"

"Sich ignorance," groaned Si. "Can't they read? Don't they git the
papers?"

"There'd bin a fight right, there, if it hadn't bin for the officers. I
wanted awfully to take a fall out of a big Sergeant who said that Thomas
might be a good enough man for Chairman of a convention o' farmers,
but when he went to war he wanted to have sich leaders as Sherman,
McPherson, and Logan, and Osterhaus. But he'll keep. We agreed to see
each other later, when we'll have a private discussion, and if he has
any head left on him he'll freely acknowledge that nobody in the Army o'
the Tennessee is fit to be named in the same day with Pap Thomas."

"Better turn him over to me, Shorty," said Si, meditatively. "I think
I'm in better shape for an argument just now than you are. You've bin
doing a good deal in the last few days, and I'm afraid you're a little
run down."

"No; he's my meat. I found him, and I'll take care o' him. But there's
just one thing that reconciles me to this business. In spite o' all this
sashayin' and monkeying we seem to be continually edgin' up closter to
them big cliffs where the rebels are, and something's got to bust
purty soon. It's jist like it was at Tullyhomy, but old Rosecrans ain't
runnin' things now."

"But Thomas is in the center, as he was then, and we're with him," said
Si hopefully. "There's tattoo, Le's crawl in."

The other boys had been affected according to their various temperaments
by the intricate and bewildering events of the past few days. The first
day or two they were all on the tenter-hooks of expectation and anxiety.
Every bugle-call seemed to be a notice for them to rush into the great
battle. Every time they saw a regiment moving, they expected to follow
and fall into line with it. They wondered why they were not sent in
after every skirmish-line they saw advancing. When a rebel battery
opened out in the distance they girded themselves in expectation of
an order to charge it. But Si and Shorty kept admonishing them that it
would be time enough for them to get excited when the 200th Ind. was
called on by name for something; that they were not expected to fight
the whole campaign, but only to do a limited part of it, and they had
better take things easy, and save themselves for their share when it
should come to them.

It was astonishing how soon they recognized this, and settled down to
more or less indifference to things that did not directly concern their
own regiment. They were just at the age to be imitative, and the example
of the veterans around them had a strongly-repressive effect.

So, after the second or third day of the turmoil of the opening
campaign, they ceased to bother themselves openly, at least, as to why
their regiment did not move when others did, as to why they did not go
to the help of others that were fighting, and as to when they were to be
summoned to make a desperate assault upon the frowning palisades of rock
which were literally alive with rebels and belching cannon.

When the regiment was lying still they occupied and amused themselves,
as did the others, according to their several bents. The medical-minded
Alf Russell watched the movements and deportment of the Surgeons at
every opportunity, and was especially interested in everything that he
could catch a glimpse of, from feeling a man's pulse to extracting
a bullet. The lathy Gid Mackall, whose appetite did not need the
sharpening it got from the free mountain air, put in much of his time
cooking, all possible variations of his rations with anything else that
he could get hold of, and devouring the product with eagerness. In spite
of Si's strict prohibition against card-playing, the sleepy headed
Jim Humphreys was rapidly, but secretly, mastering all the tricks and
mysteries of camp gambling, and becoming an object of anxiety to the
older gamesters whenever he pitted himself against them. Sandy Baker,
whose tastes ran to mechanics, "tinkered" constantly with his rifle and
equipments, studying the nature and inner workings of every part, and
considering possible improvements. Sprightly Harry Joslyn was fascinated
with the details of soldiering, and devoted himself to becoming perfect
in the manual of arms and the facings. Little Pete Skidmore was keenly
alive to all that was going on, and wanted to know everything. When he
could trust himself not to get lost from his regiment, he would scurry
over to the nearest one, to find out who they were, where they had come
from, what they had been doing, and whither they were likely to go. But
Monty Scruggs was constantly in the public eye, as he loved to be. His
passion for declamation pleased officers and men. He really declaimed
very well, and it was a reminder to them of home and the long-ago school
days to hear him "spout" the oldtime Friday afternoon favorites.

Therefore he was always called upon whenever there was nothing else
to engage the men's attention, and his self-confidence and vanity grew
rapidly upon the liberal applause bestowed on him. He was a capital
mimic, too, and daring as well, and it was not long before he began to
"take off" those around him, which his comrades enjoyed even more than
his declamations.

The llth of May, 1864, saw all the clouds of battle which had been
whirling for days in such apparently diverse directions, gathering about
the deep gorge in Rocky Face Ridge through which the railroad passed.
"Buzzard Roost," as this was named, was the impregnable citadel behind
which the rebel army had taken refuge after its rout at Mission Ridge
the previous November, and the rebel engineers had since exhausted
every effort to make it still more unassailable. The lofty mountain rose
precipitously for hundreds of feet on either side the narrow gorge, and
the last hundred feet was a sheer wall of perpendicular rock. The creek
which ran through the gorge had been dammed, so that its waters formed
a broad, deep moat before the mouth of the gorge. The top of the ridge
swarmed with men, and to the rear of the gorge guns were massed in
emplacements to sweep every foot of the passage.

It seemed madness to even think of forcing such a pass. A thousand men
in the shelters of that fastness could beat back myriads, and it was
known that Joe Johnston had at least 50,000 behind the Ridge. Yet
Sherman was converging great rivers of men from the north, the northwest
and west down upon that narrow gap, as if he meant to move the eternal
rocks by a freshet of human force.

The rebels thrown out in advance of the gorge, on outlying hills, rocks
and cliffs, were swept backward and into the gap by the resistless
wave of blue rolling forward, fiery and thundering, gathering force and
vehemence as it converged into a shortening semi-circle about the rugged
stronghold.

The 200th Ind. moved forward and took its place in the line on a hill
commanding a view of the entrance to the gorge, and there waited its
orders for the general advance, which seemed imminent any instant.

For miles to the right and left the woods were crackling with musketry,
interspersed with the booming of fieldpieces.

The regiment had stacked arms and broken ranks.

For an hour or two the men had studied with intense eagerness the
bristling fortifications of the gap and the swarming foemen at the
foot of and on the summit of the high walls of rock. They had listened
anxiously to the firing to the right and left, and tried to make out
what success their comrades on other parts of the long crescent were
having. They had watched the faces of the officers to read there how the
battle was going.

But one after another found this tiresome after awhile and set himself
to his usual camp employments and diversions. Some got out needles and
thread, and began repairing their clothes. Some gathered in groups and
smoked and talked. Many produced the eternal cards, folded up a blanket
for a table, and resumed their endless sevenup and euchre or poker for
buttons and grains of corn. Jim Humphreys found his way into one of
these games, which was played behind a clump of bushes, and the buttons
represented dimes. He was accumulating fractional currency. Gid Mackall
embraced the opportunity to cook for himself a savory stew with some
onions distributed by the Sanitary Commission. Sandy Baker went over his
gun, saw that every screw was properly tight, and dropped the tiniest
amount of oil on the trigger and the hammer, to ease their working. Pete
Skidmore wandered down to the flank of the next regiment to find out
if anything new had occurred. Harry Joslyn got himself into the exact
"position of a soldier," with his heels together, his toes pointed at an
angle of 45 degrees, and went through the manual of the piece endlessly.
Si and the Orderly-Sergeant communed together about the rations for the
company, and the various troubles there was always on the Orderly's mind
about the company's management. Shorty got off by himself, produced from
his breast his mementoes of Maria, and read over her last letter for the
thousandth time, though he knew every word in it. But he seemed to get a
new and deeper meaning every time he read it.

Groups of officers would come up to a little rise in front, study the
distant ridge with their glasses for awhile, and then ride away.

A couple of natty young Aids followed their superiors' example, rode
up, dismounted, and studied the enemy's position with great dignity
and earnestness, that it might have full effect upon the brigade behind
them.

Monty Scruggs saw his opportunity. He bound some tin cans together to
represent field glasses, mounted a stump, and began intently studying
Buzzard Roost.

This attracted the attention of the others.

"What do you see, Monty?" they shouted.

"See?" answered he. "Just lots and gobs. I see old Joe Johnston over
there, with Pat Cleburne, and Hood and Bragg, and Joe Wheeler. They're
all together, and pulling off their coats, and rolling up their sleeves,
and shaking their fists at the 200th Ind., and daring it to come on."

[Illustration: CAPTURE OF REBEL STRONGHOLD. 185]

"Tell 'em not to sweat. Just hold their horses. We'll be over
presently," shouted the others, with yells of laughter. "What else do
you see?"

The young Aids turned around and glanced angrily at Monty and the
laughing crowd.

"I see old Jeff Davis there, with his Cabinet of traitors. He's writing
a fresh proclamation to his people, with his blind eye, and has got his
good one fixed on the 200th Ind., which he's telling Joe Johnston is
bound to give him more trouble than all the rest o' the army."

"Good! Good!" yelled the rest. "So we will. Old Jeff's right for once.
What else do you see?"

"Stop that, my man," said one of the Aids savagely. "You're disturbing
us."

"Go ahead, and don't mind 'em," shouted the others. "They're only Second
Lieutenants any way. Tell us what you see."

"I see way by Richmond, old Unconditional Surrender Grant's got Bob
Lee by the throat, and's just wipin' up the State of Virginny with him.
Lee's eyes is bulging out like gooseberries on a limb, and his tongue's
hanging down like a dog's on a hot day--"

"Get down off that stump at once, and go back to your place," said the
Aid authoritatively.

"Don't mind him. He's only a staff officer. He can't order you. Go
ahead," shouted the rest.

"I see a couple o' young Second Lieutenants," started Monty, but the Aid
sprang at him, and in an instant there was a rush of the other boys to
defend him. Capt. McGillicuddy, who was usually conveniently deaf and
blind to the boys' skylarking, looked up from the paper he was reading,
hurried to the scene, quieted the disturbance, ordered Monty to get down
and go back, and spoke sharply to the Aid about paying any attention to
the men's harmless capers.

The bugle blew "Attention," and everybody sprang to his place, and
waited eagerly for the next command.

"Men," said the Colonel, in his gentle, sweet voice, which, however,
was distinctly audible to the farthest flank of the regiment, "we are
ordered to help our comrades by attacking the mountain over there. You
see what is before you, and that it will be terrible work, but I know
that you will do all that you can do for the honor of dear old Indiana."

An enthusiastic cheer answered him.

"Battalion--Take--Arms!" commanded the Colonel. "Right
face--Forward--File left--March!"

The regiment filed down through the woods on the hillside, and as it
came into the opening at the bottom was greeted by a volley from a
battery on Rocky Face Ridge. The shells screamed viciously over the
heads of the men, and cut through the tops of the trees with a deafening
crash.

"Wastin' good cast-iron on the landscape, as usual," laughed Shorty, to
encourage the boys. "I always wonder how the rebels pick out the fellers
they make cannoneers of. When they git hold of a feller who can't shoot
so's to hit anything less'n a Township set up edgewise, they put him in
the artillery."

"Mebbe they'll come closter next time," said little Pete with a shiver,
as he trotted a little nearer Shorty.

"Naah, they'll never come no closter," said Shorty, contemptuously.
"They couldn't hit even the side o' the mountain if it wasn't in their
way and no place else for the ball to go."

Just then a shell screamed so close above Shorty that he involuntarily
ducked his head.

"What makes you juke, if they can't hit nothing?" inquired little Pete,
and the rest of them had regained composure enough to laugh.

"O," said Shorty composedly, "that feller wasn't shootin' at me. He was
shootin' at the 1st Oshkosh, which is a quarter of a mile behind. If
he'd hit me it'd 'a bin an accident, and I don't want no accidents to
happen just now."

Approaching the cleared space in the center of the valley, the regiment
went into line in the brush and pushed through to the edge of the woods.
The moment that it appeared in the fringe of brushwood a sharp volley
came from the line of rebels in the brush along the opposite side of the
clearing. Evidently they were not expecting an advance at that moment,
for their firing was wild, and wounded but a few men.

"Hold your fire till we are across," shouted the Colonel.
"Forward--Guide center--Double-quick--March!"

With a yell the regiment swept across the clearing into the brush
beyond. A furious, noisy scrambling ensued in the thickets. Neither side
could see 10 yards ahead, and the firing, though fierce and rapid, was
not very effective. Men shot at sounds, or motions of the bushes, and
the bullets, glancing on the limbs, whistled in all directions. But the
200th Ind. pressed furiously forward, and though the rebels resisted
stubbornly they were gradually pressed back up the hill. Occasionally
one was killed, many were wounded, and squads were caught in clumps of
brush and compelled to surrender. Si and Shorty kept their boys in
hand, on the left of Co. Q, restrained them from firing until they saw
something to shoot at, and saw that they did not advance until their
guns were loaded. They heard a crashing volley delivered on their right
front, and springing swiftly in that direction, came to a little break,
across which they saw a squad of 15 or 16 rebels under the command of
a Captain, with their guns still smoking, and peering into the woods
to see the result of their fire. Si rushed at the Captain, with leveled
gun, and ordered him to surrender.

"Are you an officer?" said the startled Captain as soon as he could gain
words. "I'm a Captain. I'll not surrender to any one under my rank."

"I'm Captain enough for you," answered Si, thrusting the muzzle of his
gun close to his face. "Surrender this minute, or off goes your head."

The Captain dropped his sword, and his men yielded.

The prisoners were conducted to the rear, and when Si returned with his
squad to the regiment he found it had forced its way to the foot of the
high wall of rock that rose straight up from the slope.

The rebels on the crest, 100 feet above, had been trying to assist their
comrades below, by firing with their muskets, and occasionally sending a
shell, where they could get their howitzers sufficiently depressed. Now
they had bethought themselves to roll rocks and heavy stones off the
crest, which fell with a crash on the treetops below.

The 200th Ind. was raging along the foot of the wall, trying to find a
cleft in it by which they could climb to the top and get at their foes.
Standing a few yards in the rear, under a gigantic white-oak, whose
thick branches promised protection from the crashing bowlders, the
Colonel was sending parties to explore every place that seemed hopeful,
and report to him. When Si came up with his squad he was directed to go
to the extreme left, and see what he could find.

He did so, and came to a little open space made by the washings which
poured over the crest of the rock when the rain descended in torrents.
There was a cleft there, but it was 40 feet above them, and surrounded
by rebels, who yelled at the sight of his squad, and sent down a volley
of bowlders. Si and his squad promptly dodged these by getting behind
trunks of trees. They fired at the rebels on the crest, who as promptly
lay down and sheltered themselves.

The firing and stone-throwing lasted an hour or more, and then seemed to
die down from sheer exhaustion.

As the stones begun to come down more fitfully, and at longer intervals.
Shorty shouted to those on top:

"Say, you fellers up there, ain't you gittin' tired o' that work? You
ain't hurtin' nobody with them dornicks. We kin dodge 'em easy, and
you're just strainin' yourselves for nothin'. Let up for awhile, till we
both rest and git a fresh hold. We'll amuse you if you will."

"What'll you do?" asked one of the rebels, peering over the crest.

"Lots o' things. I'll turn one o' my famous doubleback-action
flip-flaps, which people have come miles to see, when I was traveling
with Dan Rice. Or we'll sing you a song. We've here the World Renowned
Ballad-Singer of Bean Blossom Crick. Or we'll make you a speech. We have
here the Justly-Famous Boy Orator of Pogue's Run."

Everything had become quite still all around during this dialog.

"Give us a song," said the rebel, and his comrades' heads began showing
over the edge of the rock.

"Now, no rock-throwing and no shootin' while he's singing'," said
Shorty. "Give the boy a chance to git back to his tree after he's done."

"All right. We'll play fair. But no politics," came back from the rock.

"Go out there, Alf, on the gravel, and sing to 'em," said Shorty.

Alf Russell hesitated a moment, and then climbed up on the pile of
washings and after clearing his throat, sang "When This Cruel War is
Over" in his best style, and was applauded from the top of the rock and
below.

"Now, give us your speech. But no politics," the rebels shouted.

Monty Scruggs stepped up on the mound and recited "Bingen on the Rhine"
in his best school-exhibition style. The delight of the rebels was
boundless.

"Hip-hip--Hooray! Good! Good!" they shouted. "Give us another."

Monty scratched his head to think of something appropriate, and then
occurred to him Webster's great speech in defense of the Union, which
was then a favorite in the schools.

"When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in
heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments
of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent;
on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, with fraternal
blood. Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable."

The rebels listened with growing impatience to the words, and as Monty
concluded with his best flourish they yelled angrily:

"Heah, we told you no politics. Git back thar, now, quick, or we'll bust
your haid with this heah rock."

Shorty and Si raised their guns to shoot the man with the bowlder, and
Monty skipped back to the shelter of his tree, saying with a grin:

"I was bound to give 'em a little straight goods before I quit, and they
got it. Old Dan Webster's very words."

"The orders is to stay right here for the night," said the
Orderly-Sergeant, coming up through the brush to Si, "and be ready for
anything that comes. I don't know what old Sherman means--whether he is
going to send over some balloons to lift us to the top of the rocks,
or set us to tunneling through. I suppose it ain't my business to know.
I've got enough to do running this company. But something's got to bust
inside the next 24 hours, and when it does there'll be the dumbedest
smash this country ever saw. Stay where you are till further orders, and
make yourselves as comfortable as possible."

The rebels on the rocks having quieted down, the boys stowed themselves
around the roots of the trees, made little fires under the shelter of
the rocks, cooked their suppers, smoked their pipes, and finally rolled
themselves in their blankets and went to sleep.

Little Pete "snugged" in with Shorty, but when that gentleman was
awakened by Si a little after daylight, Pete was gone.

Shorty fumed around at this while he was cooking his breakfast, for he
wanted Pete to be there and eat heartily, in preparation for the arduous
struggles of the momentous day which was breaking for them.

But little Pete continued to be absent. No one had seen him, no one had
heard his voice, no one know anything about him. Shorty became greatly
worried, and the others shared his feelings, and began beating up the
woods around in search of some place that he might have fallen into.

With the daybreak the firing away to the left, where a lodgment had been
made on Rocky Face Ridge, beyond the gap, broke out afresh, and rolled
down toward the gap. The squad listened intently to it as it came
nearer, for they felt that it meant the beginning of the day's bloody
business. The crests above them remained silent.

Suddenly they heard little Pete's voice calling:

"Sergeant Klegg! Corporal Elliott!"

They looked in every direction, but could see no Pete.

"Sergeant Klegg! Corporal Elliott! Look up here. I'm up here on the
rocks."

They turned their eyes to the crest, and there saw Pete waving his hat
to them.

"Come up here," he called. "There ain't no rebels up here. They've all
gone off down into the valley."

From their tense hearts the boys sent up a cheer, which drew all
attention to them. The news quickly spread along the line, and was
received with cheers.

"Go down that way about 100 yards," Pete called down, "and you'll find a
tall pine blowed down agin the cliff. You kin climb that, and git up to
where its top lays right agin a bunch of bushes. Shorty rolled on my leg
this morning, and waked me up before daylight. I then thought I'd git
up and take a look, and see how things appeared before they got to
shooting. I found the pine tree, and dumb it mighty quiet, intending
to sneak up close to the rebels. But I couldn't find none. They was all
gone."



CHAPTER XVI. THE 200TH IND. ASSAULTS THE REBEL WORKS AT DAYBREAK

THERE were the same perplexing sounds of battle in many places and
directions when the 200th Ind. went into line as there had been around
Buzzard Roost.

Joe Johnston was fiercely contesting every hilltop and narrow gorge to
gain time to adjust his army to the unexpected movement through Snake
Creek Gap, and save the stores he had accumulated behind the heavy
fortifications around Dalton.

Though they had felt themselves completely worn out by the work with
the train, the prospect of a fight put new life into the 200th Ind., and
they leaned on their guns and listened to the crackling of musketry
and booming of artillery far away to their left, to their right, and
apparently in their rear. Sometimes the sounds would come so near that
the wave of battle would seem to be surely rolling down on them. Then
they would clutch their guns more firmly, and their hands instinctively
seek their cartridge-boxes. Then the firing would as inexplicably die
down and stop, when they would again sink on the ground with fatigue.

So the late afternoon wore on. It grew very quiet all around. Even the
dull booming of the cannon far up the valley where Howard and Schofield
were advancing on the heavy works immediately in front of Dalton, died
down into sullen fitfulness.

The silence of the woods and the mountains as night drew on became more
oppressive than the crashing sounds, the feverish movements, and the
strained expectancy of the day had been.

The whip-poor-wills began to fill the evening air with their mournful
calls, which accentuated and intensified the weird loneliness of the
scene, where but a little while before there had been no thought but of
deadly hatred and bitter strife.

"I never heard the whip-poor-wills whip so gloomily," remarked the
sentimental Alf Russell, after the regiment had stacked arms, and the
men were resting, exhausted and out of temper, on the ground. "Seems
to me it sounds altogether different from the way they do at home; got
something savage in it."

"Probably they're yelling their satisfaction over the number of men
they've seen killed and wounded today," ventured Monty Scruggs. "Does
'em good to see men shooting at one another instead of birds."

"Dumbed little brutes," grumbled Shorty, nursing his hurt foot, "if
they'd bin wrastlin' all day with a mule train they'd be too tired to
go yellin' around like that. I always did hate a whip-poor-will, anyway.
They hain't got sense enough to do anything but yell, jest like a pasel
o' rebel cavalry."

"Great Scott! I wisht I knowed whether we're goin' to stay here
tonight," said Si, handling his blanket roll with a look of
anticipation.

"No," said the Orderly, coming down from the right of the regiment.
"We're to move forward about a mile, and establish a line for the
rest of the brigade to form on. We're to go quietly, without noise or
commands, and then bivouac without fires. Get your guns and fall in
quietly."

As ill-tempered as tired, the boys roused up from the ground, and began
taking their guns from the stacks. Harry Joslin snatched his out first,
and the stack, falling over, the bayonet points struck Gid Mackall's
face. The angry Gid responded with a blow landed on the side of Harry's
head. In an instant the two clinched, and the others, who were in no
better humor, began striking at one another in blind temper. Si and
Shorty snatched the two principals apart with a good deal of violence
and much show of their own tempers.

"You long legged sand hill crane," said Si, shaking Gid. "Will you
always be kickin' up a rumpus? I'll break your neck if you don't act
better."

"You senseless little bantam," said Shorty, with his grip on Harry's
throat; "will you always be raising a ruction? Will I have to wring your
neck to learn you to behave?"

"Let him alone, Shorty," said Si irritably. "He ain't to blame. This
gangling fly-up the crick started it." And he gave Gid another shake.

"You let him alone. Si," said Shorty crossly. "I know better. This whelp
started it, as he always does. I'll throw him down and tramp on him."

"You won't do nothin' o' the kind. Shorty. Don't you contradict me. Let
him go, I tell you."

"You take your hands off that boy, or I'll make you, Si Klegg," said
Shorty hotly. "I won't see you imposin' on somebody's that's smaller'n
you."

The spectacle of the two partners quarreling startled them all. They
stopped and looked aghast.

"Here, what's all this disorder here," said the Orderly, coming up,
impetuously, and as cross as any one. "Why don't you get into line as
ordered? Sergeant Klegg, you're always making trouble for me."

"I ain't doin' nothing o' the kind. What's the sense o' your sayin' sich
a thing?" Si retorted. "You know it ain't true."

"Si Klegg, be careful how you call me a liar," answered the Orderly.
"I'll--"

"What in the world does all this mean?" said Capt. McGillicuddy angrily,
as he stepped back to them. "What are you wasting time squabbling
before the men for? Fall into your places at once, and don't let me hear
another word from any of you. Don't you see the regiment is moving?"

"We'll finish this later," the Orderly whispered to Si, as he went to
his place on the right.

"I'll settle with you, Shorty, when I have more time," Si remarked as
he took his place.

"The sooner the better," grunted Shorty. "You can't run over me, if you
are a Sergeant."

The wearied men went stumbling along the rough road for what seemed
the longest mile ever known. It had grown very dark. At last a form
separated itself from the bank of blackness on the left, and a voice
said in a penetrating whisper:

"Is this the 200th Ind?"

"Yes," answered the Colonel.

"I'm Lieut. Snowden, of the General's staff," said the whisper.

"Yes; I recognize your voice," answered the Colonel.

"I was sent here," continued the Whisper, "to post you when you came
up. You will make this your right, and form out there to the left. Do it
without the slightest noise. There is a strong force of rebels out there
in front. They have a line of works with abatis in front, and a fort on
the hill there to the right, as you can see by looking up against the
sky. You will not allow any fires to be made or lights to be shown. The
other regiments will come up and form on your right and left, and you
will be ready to attack and carry the line immediately in front of you
the moment that it is light enough to see to move. The signal will be
given by the headquarters bugle."

"Very good," replied the Colonel. "Tell the General that we'll be ready,
and he'll find us inside the rebel line five minutes after the bugle
sounds."

"In the meanwhile," continue the Aid, "you will keep a sharp lookout.
You may be attacked, and if you see signs of evacuation you are to
attack, and the other regiments will support you. The General will come
up later and give you further instructions. Good night."

The men nearest the Colonel heard plainly all that was said, and it
was soon known throughout the regiment. The men seemed to forget their
fatigue as they moved alertly but warily into line to the left, and
studied intently the sky-line of the rising ground in front.

The whip-poor-wills were still calling, but at the flanks and rear of
the regiment. None of them called in front.

"It's full o' rebels over there; that's the reason," said Si to himself,
as he noted this. "Yes, they're all at home, and goin' to shoot," he
added in a loud whisper. "Lay down, everybody."

He was none too soon. The tramping through the bushes, and the various
noises that bodies of men will make when in motion, had reached the
ears of the alert rebels. A dazzling series of flashes ran along the
sky-line, and a flight of bullets sang wickedly over the heads of the
200th Ind., striking in the bushes and trees far behind them.

"Don't anybody yell! Don't anybody shoot!" called the Colonel in a loud
whisper, and it was repeated by the line oflficers. "It will reveal our
position. Lie down and keep perfectly quiet. They're overshooting us."

The rebel battery in the fort waked up, and, more to show its good will
than anything else, began shelling the surrounding landscape.

One of our batteries, a mile or so to the rear, which had not had an
opportunity to fire during the day, could not resist this challenge,
and began throwing shells at the fort with so fair an aim as to draw the
attention of the rebel battery to it.

The lurid flashes of the muskets, cannon, and shells revealed a belt of
jagged abatis several rods wide covering the entire front of the fort
and breastworks.

"Great Scott!" muttered Si to himself, for he was not on speaking terms
with Shorty, and would not alarm the boys; "there's a porcupine nest to
git through. How in the Nation are we ever goin' to do it?"

"Unroll your blankets and lie down on them," came down the line from the
Colonel. "Lay your guns beside you. Don't attempt to stack them. You may
attract the attention of the rebels. Everybody keep his place, and be
ready to form and move at once."

"Stop firing. What are you shooting at?" said a voice of authority in
the rebel works. "Who gave the order to fire?"

"The men began it themselves," said a second voice. "They heard Yankees
moving over there, and commenced shooting at them."

"How do you know there are any Yankees out there? I don't believe they
have advanced beyond the crest of the hill. I think they are all going
down toward Resaca. Haven't you any pickets out there?"

"No. We only moved in here this afternoon, and did not know how long we
were going to stay. I was ordered to stay here till further orders, to
protect the road beyond."

"Well, we haven't any ammunition to waste firing at uncertainties.
There's enough Yankees in sight all the time for all the bullets we
have, without wasting any on imaginary ones. It'll be time enough for
you to begin shooting when you see them coming to the edge of the abatis
there. Before they get through that you'll have time enough to shoot
away all the ammunition you have."

"I'm going to see whether there are any Yankees there," said the second
voice in the rebel works.

"Jim, you and Joe go down to the edge of the abatis and see what you can
see."

The wearied boys had nearly all fallen asleep on their blankets. Even
the noisy artillery duel had not kept Jim Humphreys awake, and Monty
Scruggs and Alf Russell followed his example soon after the firing
ceased. Then Harry Joslyn and Gid Mackall, spreading their blankets
apart for the first time since they had been in the service, sought
rest from their fatigue and forgetfulness of their mutual anger. Si
and Shorty kept sternly apart. Shorty occupied himself in fixing the
blankets comfortably for a nest for little Pete Skidmore, while Si,
brooding over the way that Shorty "had flared up about nothin' at all,"
and the Orderly-Sergeant's and Capt. McGillicuddy's unjust heat to him,
had kept his eyes fixed on the skyline beyond, and had listened to the
conversation of the rebel officers. It occurred to him that by watching
the two rebels come down he might get an idea of a passage through the
abatis, which would be useful in the morning. He strained his eyes to
catch sight of their movements.

He saw two projections against the sky-line, which he knew were the
men crossing the works. They separated, and he could make out two black
blotches above the level of darkness and moving down the slope. One came
almost directly toward him, the other going to the left. It occurred to
him to capture one of the men. He would have suggested to Shorty to
get the other, but he could not bring himself to speak to his partner.
Keeping his eyes fixed on the man directly in front, he slowly wriggled
forward without rising. The man was evidently coming cautiously, halting
every few steps, and looking and listening.

Perfect quiet reigned in the regiment. The men were mostly asleep. Those
who were awake were intently watching the hill for some sign of the
enemy, or as silently foreboding the happenings of the morrow.

Without making the least noise, Si reached the edge of the abatis. There
a young tulip tree had been left standing, and its plentiful branches
and large leaves made a thick mass of darkness. He rose upright behind,
but his foot came down on a dead stick, which broke with a sharp crack.
All the blood rushed to his heart. But at the same instant his head had
disturbed a whip-poor-will who had taken refuge there from the noise.
She flew away with a tumult of plaintive "whips." The rebel in front
halted for a long time. Then he apparently concluded that an owl was
after the whip-poor-will, and, reassured, came forward.

As he had crawled along. Si had felt with his hands that he was on a
tolerably beaten path, which ran by the sapling he was now standing
behind. He was sure that this led through the abatis, and the rebel
was coming down it. The rebel came on so near that Si could hear his
breathing, and Si feared he could hear his. The rebel was carrying his
gun at a trail in his right hand, and putting all his powers into his
eyes and ears to detect signs of the presence of Yankees. He hesitated
for a little while before the sapling, and then stepped past it.

As he did so Si shot out his right arm and caught him around the neck
with so quick and tight a hug that the rebel could not open his mouth
to yell. Si raised his arm so as to press the rebel's jaws together, and
with his left hand reached for his gun. The rebel swayed and struggled,
but the slender Southerner was no match for the broad-shouldered Indiana
boy, whose muscles had been knit by hard work.

The struggle was only momentary until Si secured the gun, and the
rebel's muscles relaxed from the stoppage of his breath.

"If you say a word, or try to, you're a dead man," Si whispered, as he
dropped the gun, and substituted his left hand at the man's throat for
his right arm. Taking silence for acquiescence, Si picked up his own gun
and started with his prisoner for the Colonel. He walked upright boldly
now, for the watchers on the rebel works could not see that there was
more than one man in the path.

The Colonel ordered Si to bring his prisoner back into a gully some
distance behind the line, where he could be interrogated without the
sound reaching the men in the works.

"Where do you belong?" asked the Colonel.

"To Kunnel Wheatstone's Jawjy rijimint."

"How many men have you got over there in the works."

"Well, a right smart passul."

"What do you mean by a right smart parcel?"

"Well, a good big heap."

"What, a thousand?"

"Yes, I reckon so."

"Ten thousand?"

"I 'spects so."

"Twenty thousand."

"Mouty likely."

"You don't seem to have a clear idea of numbers. How many regiments have
you got over there?"

"Well, thar's Kunnel Wheatstone's Jawjy rijimint--that's mine; then
thar's Kunnel Tarrant's South Carliny rijimint, and then thar's Kunnel
Bird's Tennessee rijimint, and I don't mind how many others. They've bin
comin' and goin' all day, and I hain't paid no attention to 'em. I only
know that thar's enough to give yo'uns a wallopin' if yo'uns only come
on."

"Sergeant," said the Colonel, "you did a splendid thing in capturing
this man and bringing him to me, but I fear I shall not get as much
information out of him as I'd like to. I don't presume anybody really
knows just how many men are over there. We've got to jump the works and
take the chances on what we find."

"We're ready the minute you give the word. Colonel," said Si, saluting.

"Colonel," said Shorty's voice out of the darkness, "I've brung you one
o' the rebel scouts that was piroutin' out there. I don't know as you
kin make much out o' him, though, for the welt I fetched him with my gun
bar'l seems to've throwed his thinkery out o' gear, and he can't talk
straight."

"And so you got the other one," Si started to say to his partner, but
then he remembered Shorty's "flarin' up," and held his tongue.

"I don't imagine that his 'thinkery,' as you call it, was of much
account when it was in order, if it was no better than this other
man's," said the Colonel, with a smile. "Perhaps, if he could
think better he wouldn't be in the rebel army. Sergeant (to the
Provost-Sergeant), take charge of these two men. Give them something to
eat, and send them to Division Headquarters."

Si and Shorty carefully avoided one another on their way back to
the company, and declined to discuss their exploits with either the
Orderly-Sergeant or Capt. McGillicuddy.

"Go out and git you a rebel for yourself, if you want to know about
'em," Shorty had snapped at the Orderly. "There's plenty more up there
on the hill. It's full of 'em."

As everything now seemed quiet in front, the two partners sat down with
their back against trees to catch a little sleep before the momentous
movement in the morning.

It seemed to Si that he had hardly closed his eyes when the Orderly
shook him and whispered an order to help arouse the men and get them
into line.

"Don't make the least noise," whispered the Orderly. "I hear the rebels
moving around, but we want to jump 'em before they know we're up. The
further we can get through that abatis before they discover us, the
fewer we'll have killed. It's going to be mighty tough work at best, and
I wish that we were going over the works now."

It was the chill gray of the morning, when every man's spirits and
courage are at ebb-tide. For an instant, Si felt his heart sink at the
thought of the awful ordeal that confronted them. There came across
his mind a swift vision of the peaceful home back in Indiana, with the
pleasant fields lying about, over which he used to go on sweet Spring
mornings like this and note the flowers that had bloomed over night, and
the growth the wheat had made. How sickening to be now starting to open
up a hell of pain, wounds, and death. Then his natural courage and
will reasserted themselves, and he began rousing the boys, but with a
tenderness born of the thought that their hearts would be as low as his
in that bleak hour.

Jim Humphreys waked up stolidly, and without a word began preparing to
fall in. Alf Russell's and Monty Scruggs's faces turned ashy after
they had fairly awakened, and they picked up their guns with nerveless
fingers.

Harry Joslyn took the position of a soldier, with his gun at an order,
his lips tightly closed, and his eyes fixed on the rebel position, as
the spreading light developed it. Sandy Baker fidgeted about at one time
tinkering with his gun and equipments, and then stopping half-way in
the task he had started and falling into a fit of musing. Little Pete
Skidmore wandered about, looking into Si's and Shorty's grave faces, and
then into others equally solemn, and finding no comfort in any. It was
the first time that he heard no joke or quip flash along the forming
line to bring cheers or laughter.

"Come, boys," said Si, kindly, "eat your breakfasts. You can't make no
coffee nor fry no meat, but you'd better fill up on cold grub. You'll
need all you can eat."

The mention of something to eat seemed to remind Gid Mackall of his
usual appetite. He pulled a cracker out of his haversack and bit it, but
it seemed distasteful, and he spat the piece out.

"The orders are," said the Orderly-Sergeant in a low tone, as he passed
down in front of the company, "to strip off your bankets, canteens, and
haversacks, and pile them. They'll be in the road in the rush, and catch
in going through the abatis."

"Orderly," said Shorty in his most conciliatory way, "if you want to do
me a favor make Pete Skidmore one of the detail."

"I ain't asking suggestions from you," said the Orderly, still surly.
"But I shall detail Baker and Skidmore for the duty."

The boys flung their things off with something like desperation in their
looks.

It was now daylight, but a dense fog prevented seeing more than a few
feet.

"We can't wait any longer," said the Colonel. "Pass the word down the
line to move forward. Make no noise till the enemy opens fire. Then
everybody push forward as rapidly as possible for the works."

"The first fire will probably go over our heads and do little damage,"
said Capt. McGillicuddy, stepping down to the center, so that his
whisper could be heard by all. "It's always so when men fire downhill.
Then, you all want to be careful and fire low, so as to hit as many as
possible, and rattle them in their future firing. The more of them we
can hit the less of us will be hit afterward. Forward--Guide right!"

It seemed as if the crashing of their marching feet was so loud that
the rebels on the hill could not fail to hear it, and they held their
breaths in painful expectancy of the volley. But they had gotten a rod
or more into the entangling brush of the abatis, and were stumbling and
crashing amid the baffling branches, before they heard the voice of the
previous night command:

"Ready--Aim--aim low--Fire!"

The rebel muskets crashed together in a terrific volley, which generally
passed over the heads of the 200th Ind., though a few men fell into the
brush with wounds.

Si had gone up the path that he had found the night before, and
therefore had no struggle with the fallen trees to shake his nerves and
disturb his aim. He had calculated upon this. He brought his musket down
deliberately and took good aim at the point whence the voice of command
had come. As his gun cracked he heard voices cry:

"The Kunnel's shot. Look out for the Kunnel thar."

Another voice immediately spoke up in command: "Steady, men! Keep cool!
Fire low, and give it to the blue-bellied scoundrels!"

Then broke out a mad rage of death and destruction, in which both sides
seemed in the fiercest insanity of murder. The 200th Ind., encouraged
by the shouts of their officers, pressed forward through the baffling
tree-tops, stumbling, falling, rising again, firing as fast as they
could load their guns, and yelling like demons. They were frantic to
get through the obstructions and come to hand-to-hand struggle with the
fiends who were yelling and firing from the top of the breastworks.

The rebel battery in the fort began hurling a tornado of shells as near
as they could bring their guns to bear on the yelling. This aroused
its enemy battery of the night before, and it opened up viciously. The
regiments to the right and left of the 200th Ind. moved forward at the
sound of the firing, and added to the dinning turbulence.

Si had kept to the path, firing coolly and with deadly aim as he kept
pace with the line, which was fiercely forging through the brush. There
had gathered behind him Jim Humphreys, Harry Joslyn, and Gid Mackall.
The rest had gathered over toward Shorty, who was raging through the
abatis, tearing aside the branches which impeded the others, yelling,
swearing most horribly, and firing as a loaded gun would be handed him.
He happened to look around to see who was handing him guns, and saw that
it was Pete Skidmore and Sandy Baker.

"I thought you little brats was ordered to stay behind with the things,"
he gasped.

"I know we was," whimpered little Pete as he capped a gun and handed it
to Shorty; "but we couldn't stay when we heard the yelling and shooting.
We was so scared that we was afraid to stay there, so we hunted you up,
and--"

"Come on, boys," yelled Shorty to the others. "Go ahead. We're almost
through, and then we'll salivate them whelps of damnation."

A bullet came so nigh Si's face that it seemed to burn him, and then he
heard it strike. Jim Humphreys fell without a groan--a bullet through
his brain.

"Don't mind that. Forward, boys," shouted Si. "Here's the end of the
abatis."

Gid Mackall fell, and Harry Joslyn turned to help him.

"Don't mind him. Come on," Si called over his shoulder, as he rushed in
the clear place, just at the edge of the shallow ditch in front of the
works. "Everybody this way."

[Illustration: THE CHARGE THRU THE ABATIS. 211]

All that was left of the regiment was now through the abatis. The fog
suddenly lifted, and showed the combatants face to face, with only the
ditch and the bank of earth between them. The sight was so startling
that both sides paused for an instant.

"Forward, 200th Ind.! Rally on your colors!" rang out the clear, sweet,
penetrating voice of the Colonel, as he snatched the colors from the
hand of the third man who had borne them since the regiment moved
forward, and sprang up the side of the works.

Of the pandemonium that reigned inside the rebel works for the next few
minutes Si only recollected seeing the Orderly-Sergeant, bareheaded, and
with bayonet fixed, leap down from the bank and transfix a man who tried
to snatch the flag from the Colonel's hand. Si arrived just in time to
shoot the rebel officer who was striking at the Orderly with his sword,
while Shorty came up, knocking down a winrow of men with his gun swung
by the butt as a club, to rescue Si from three rebels who were trying to
bayonet him.

All at once the entire rebel line broke and ran down the hill in a wave
of dingy brown, while another wave of blue rolled over the works to the
right and left of the 200th Ind.

"I hope you ain't hurt, Orderly," said Si, dropping the butt of his
musket on the ground, and wiping his flushed face. "I thought that
officer was goin' to git you, sure."

"He would, if it hadn't been for you, Si. He got in one slash on me, but
it ain't much, I think. But Shorty helped you out of a tight box."

"Yes; Shorty generally does that," said Si, with a beaming look on
his partner. "He's the best soldier in the regiment, and kin always be
trusted to git in on time anywhere."

"Well, I'm afraid it 'll be a short roll I'll have to call this
evening," said the Orderly, with a sorrowful expression. "I suppose
we'd better go back through that brush and look up the boys that were
dropped."



CHAPTER XVII. GATHERING UP THE BOYS AFTER THE BATTLE.

"HOORAY for Injianny. Injianny gits there every time," roared Si,
joining the yelling, exultant throng crowding around the Colonel. "The
old 200th wuz the first to cross the works, and miles ahead o' any other
rejimint."

"Bully for the Wild Wanderers of the Wabash," Shorty joined in. "They're
the boss regiment in the army o' the Cumberland, and the Army o' the
Cumberland's the boss army on earth. Hooray for US Co. Le's have a
speech. Where's Monty Scruggs?"

"Yes, Where's Monty?" echoed Si, with a little chill at his heart, for
he had not remembered seeing the boy since they emerged from the abatis,
just before the final rush.

"Well, le's have a song, then," said Shorty, as Si was looking around.
"Where's Alf Russell?"

"Yes, Where's Alf Russell?" echoed Si, with a new pang clutching at his
heart, for he then recalled that he had not seen Alf since he had helped
him up the embankment, immediately after which Si's thoughts, had been
engrossed by the struggle for the flag. "Did any of you boys see either
Alf or Monty?" he asked nervously.

"And has anybody seen Pete Skidmore?" chimed in Shorty, his voice
suddenly changing from a tone of exultation to one of deepest concern.
"Why don't some o' you speak? Are you all dumb?"

Somehow everybody instinctively stopped cheering, and an awed hush
followed.

"All of Co. Q step this way," called out the Orderly-Sergeant. All of
the usual "rasp" had left the strong, rough voice. There was a mournful
tremor in it. "Fall in, Co. Q, over there by this pile of picks and
shovels."

Scarcely 20 of the 80 stalwart youths who had lined up at the foot
of the rugged palisades of Rocky Face two evenings before grouped
themselves together in response to the Orderly's call.

Capt. McGillicuddy, the Orderly, Si, and Shorty strained their eyes to
see more of the company disengaging themselves from the throng around
the Colonel.

The Orderlies of the other companies called to their men to fall in at
different places.

The Colonel looked at the muster with sad eyes.

"Didn't nobody see nothin' o' little Skidmore?" savagely repeated
Shorty, walking back to the works and scanning the country round. "Was
you all so blamed anxious lookin' out for yourselves that you didn't pay
no attention to that little boy? Nice gang, you are."

"Orderly, take the company back into the abatis, and look for the boys,"
ordered Capt. McGillicuddy.

"'Tention, company!" commanded the Orderly. "Stack arms! Right
face--Break ranks--March!"

"Hello, boys," said Monty Scruggs's voice, weak but unmistakably his,
as the company recrossed the works.

"Great heavens! he's bin shot through the bowels?" thought Si, turning
toward him with sickening apprehension of this most dreaded of wounds.
Then, aloud, with forced cheerfulness--"I hope you ain't hurt bad,
Monty."

"I was hurt bad enough, the Lord knows," answered the boy with a wan
smile. "I hain't been hurt so bad since I stubbed by sore toe last
Summer. But I'm getting over it pretty fast. Just as I started up the
bank a rebel threw a stone as big as my fist at me, and it took me
square where I live. I thought at first that whole battery over there in
the fort had shot at me all at once. Goodness, but it hurt! My, but that
fellow could throw a stone! Seemed to me that it went clear into me, and
bent my back-bone. I've been feeling to see if it wasn't bent. But we
got the works all right, didn't we?"

"You bet we did," Si answered exultantly. "Licked the stuffin' out of
'em. Awful glad you're no worse hurt, Monty. Make your way inside there,
and you'll find the Surgeon. He'll bring you around all right. We're
goin' to look for the other boys."

"Alf Russell caught a bullet," said Monty Scruggs. "I heard him yell,
and turned to look at him, when that rebel's bowlder gave me something
else to think about, so I don't know where he is."

"Gid Mackall's lying over there, somewhere," said Larry Joslyn, who was
all anxiety in regard to his old partner and antagonist. "Let me go and
find him."

"Go ahead," said Si, helping Monty to his feet. "I'll be right with
you."

While Si was going back the way he had come Shorty was tearing through
the tangled brush, turning over the tree-tops by main strength,
searching for Pete Skidmore. The rest of the company were seeking out
the fallen ones hither and thither, and calling to one another, as they
made discoveries, but Shorty only looked for Pete Skidmore. Si and Harry
presently came to Gid Mackall's body, lying motionless in a pool of
blood that dyed crimson the brown leaves thickly covering the ground.
His cap had fallen off, and his head had crushed down into a bunch of
slender oak twigs; his eyes were closed, and his callow face white as
paper.

"O, he's dead! He's stone dead," wailed Harry Joslyn. "And just think
how I quarreled and fought with him this morning."

"Mebbe not," said Si, to whom such sights were more familiar, "That
bullet hole in his blouse is too low down and too fur out to've hit
either his heart or his lungs, seems to me. Mebbe he's only fainted from
loss o' blood. Ketch hold o' his feet. I'll take his head, and we'll
carry him back to the Surgeon. Likely he kin bring him to."

The rough motion roused Gid, and as they clambered back over the works,
Harry was thrilled to see him open his eyes a little ways.

"Apparently," said the busy Surgeon, stopping for a minute, with knife
and bullet-forceps in his bloodstained hands, to give a brief glance
and two or three swift touches to Gid, "the ball has struck his side and
broke a rib or two. He's swooned from loss of blood. The blood's stopped
flowing now, and he'll come around all right. Lay him over there in
the shade of those trees. Put something under his head, and make him
as comfortable as possible. I'll attend to him as soon as I can get
through with these men who are much worse off than he is."

And the over-worked Surgeon hurried away to where loud groans were
imperatively calling for his helpful ministrations.

Si and Harry broke down a thick layer of cedar branches to make a
comfortable bed for Gid, placed a chunk under his head, and hurried away
again to search for Alf Russell. They went over carefully that part of
the works they had crossed, and the abatis in front, but could find no
trace of him. They feared that after he had been shot he had crawled
back under the shelter of some tree-tops, to protect him from the flying
bullets, and died there. They turned over and pulled apart the branches
for a wide space, but did not succeed in finding him, or any trace. But
they found Bob Willis, stark in death, lying prone in the top of a young
hickory, into which he had crashed, when the fatal bullet found him
pressing courageously forward. Him they carried pitifully forward, and
added to the lengthening row of the regiment's dead, which was being
gathered up.

Then they went reluctantly back--shuddering with the certainty of what
they should find, to bring in Jim Humphreys's body.

Harry Joslyn was so agitated by the sight of Humphreys's mangled head
and staring eyes that Si made him turn his back, place himself between
the feet, one of which he took in each hand, and go before in carrying
the body back. Si stripped the blouse up so as to cover the head, and
took the shoulders between his hands, and so another body was added to
the row of the regimental dead.

Si himself was so sick at heart that he had little inclination to
continue the search farther than to look over the wounded, as they were
brought in, in hopes of finding some of his squad there.

"There are three of us yet missing," he said. "Mebbe they've got mixed
up with the Kankakee boys on our left, and'll come in all right after
awhile. Mebbe they're out with Shorty somewhere. I'll wait till he comes
in. Harry, I expect me and you'd better dig poor Jim's grave. There's
no tellin' how long we'll stay here. Jim 'd rather we put him under than
strangers what don't know and care for him. It's all we kin do for the
poor feller; I'll git a pick and you take a shovel. We'll make the grave
right here, where the Colonel lit when he jumped over the works with the
flag. That'll tickle Jim, if he's lookin' down from the clouds. Too bad,
he couldn't have lived long enough to see us go over the embankment,
with the Colonel in the lead, wavin' the flag."

"The best thing," said Harry, forgetting his sorrow in the exciting
memories of the fight, "was to see the Orderly sock his bayonet up to
the shank in the rebel, and you blow off that officer's head--"

"Hush, Harry. Never speak o' that," Si admonished him.

"And see you," continued Harry, "stand off all three of them rebels,
who was tryin' to bayonet you, until Corp'l Elliott came raring down,
swinging his gun like a flail. Great Scott! didn't he lay 'em out,
though! I saw it all, as I was loading my gun in nine times to shoot
one of the rebels attacking you, I'd just got the cap on, when Corp'l
Elliott loped in."

"Orderly," said Si a little later, "we've got Jim Humphreys's grave dug.
Will you take the things out of his pockets to send to his folks? and
then we'll bury him."

"Better wait till the Captain comes back and gives the orders," said
the Orderly. "I don't want to touch his pockets without the Captain's
orders. Then, we ought to have his blanket to bury him in. You go ahead
and dig Bob Willis's grave, and I'll take a detail back and bring up the
blankets and things."

Shorty had pushed his unavailing search for little Pete far past the
point where he remembered to have seen the boy, in the midst of the
fighting. He had torn his hands and worn out his strength in tearing
aside the brush to expose every possible place that the dying boy or
his dead body might be concealed. He had reached the further side of the
obstruction, and sat down on a stump, in despair of heart and exhaustion
of body.

Those with him, more intent on getting something to eat, had pushed on
back to where their haversacks and canteens and blankets had been left.

Presently Shorty heard a call across the little valley:

"Cor--po--ral Ell--iott. Cor--po--ral Ell--iott!"

"Well, what is it?" Shorty called back, crustily.

"Lit--tle--Pete--and--Sandy--Ba--ker--is--o--ver--here," came back upon
the bright Spring air.

Shorty sprang up electrified, and tore across the intervening space
at the double-quick. He found Pete and Sandy Baker standing soberly on
guard over the line of the company's blankets and belongings.

"Great Jehosephat, you little brats, how did you git here?" he
exclaimed, snatching little Pete up and hugging him.

"Why shouldn't we be here?" asked Pete, as soon as he could get breath.
"Didn't the Captain order us to stay here? Me and Sandy follered you
fellers until you jumped inside the works, and the rebels was a runnin'.
We stood on top o' the bank and shot at the rebels as fast as we could
load our guns. We kept shootin' at 'em till they got clean down to the
road. Then we saw the Captain lookin' over our way, and we thought he
was comin' over there to skin us alive for leaving the things, and we
ducked down behind the bank and run back here as fast as we could fetch
it. You ain't goin' to tell the Captain on us, and have us tied up by
the thumbs, are you, Corporal? Everything's safe. Nothing's gone. You
won't tell, will you?"

"O, you worthless little scamp," said Shorty, with tears of joy in his
eyes. "You ain't worth the powder that'd blow you up. I could pound you
for the worry you've given me in the last hour. But you ain't hurt a
bit, are you?"

"Nope," answered Pete. "But we both got awfully scratched runnin'
through that brush. Say, wasn't the way the boys jumped the works and
waded into them sardines just grand?"

The Orderly-Sergeant and his detail came back for the things, and Shorty
and the boys, picking up those belonging to the squad, made their way to
the company.

By the time they got back everybody's emotions had subsided sufficiently
to allow him to remember that he was terribly hungry, and that the next
business in order should be the cooking of the first warm meal they had
had for more than a day. Fires were soon blazing in every direction, and
the air was fragrant with the smell of hot coffee and cooking meat. Even
Monty Scruggs felt that the kink had gone out of his backbone, and the
disturbance in his dietetic department had sufficiently subsided to
allow him to enjoy a cup of coffee and piece of toasted meat on a
hardtack. The Surgeon had reached Gid Mackall, and had put him in
comfortable shape.

The bodies of Bob Willis and Jim Humphreys were wrapped in their
blankets, and mournfully consigned to the earth. A cedar bush was stuck
in the head of each grave, and Si, finding a piece of smooth board and
a chunk of soft charcoal from a fire, sat down on the bank, and begun
laboriously composing the following inscription:

               JAMES HUMFRI
               CO. Q.

               200th injianny VolunTer Infantry
               KiLD may, 15th 1864
               He dide For His country
               The lord luvs a

               Braiv man

"That's all right. Si," said Shorty coming up with his mouthful of
hardtack and meat, and inspecting Si's work with critical approval.
"You kin lay away over me and all the rest when it comes to writin' and
composin'. And you know how to spell, too. I wish I had your education.
But I never had a chance to go to school."

"Then you think it'll do, Shorty," said Si, much flattered by his
partner's approval.

"Yes, it's just bully. But I think you ought to say something about
Jim's good character. That's usual on tombstones. You might say of him
that he had in him the makin' of the finest poker player in the Army of
the Cumberland. I never see a sleepyheaded boy pick up the fine pints o'
the game like he did, and he had nerve, too, along with his science."

"No, it wouldn't do at all to put anything o' that kind on," answered
Si, going to the grave, and driving the board down with a pick. "Mustn't
let Jim's folks know for the world that he gambled. It'd be the last
straw on his poor old mother, who's a strict Baptist. She may stand
hearing that he's killed, but never could that he played cards. What in
the world's become of Alf Russell, do you s'pose?"

"Who in Jeff Davis's dominions is that comin' up?" said Shorty, scanning
an approaching figure. "Looks as if he'd had his head busted and then
tied up agin with strings."

The figure certainly looked like Alf Russell and wore Alf Russell's
clothes, but the head was unrecognizable. A broad white bandage
encircled the face, going from the top of the forehead around under the
chin, and there were several folds of it. Then it ran around the head
transversely, covering the nose and the cheeks, and only allowing the
mouth and the eyes to show.

"Hello, boys," said a weak voice, which was unmistakably Alf Russell's.

"Hello, Alf," said Si delightedly. "I'm so glad to see you. I've bin
huntin' everywhere for you. What's happened to you? Badly hurt?"

"Nothing, only the left side o' my head tore out," said Alf feebly.
"Something struck me, probably a bomb-shell, just as I was going up
the bank after you. I went down to our Surgeon, but he was too busy to
attend to me. I then found the brigade hospital, but the Surgeons there
were too busy, too. They gave me a roll of bandages, and told me to fix
it up myself. I did it with the help of one of the men who was waiting
to have his leg dressed. I fancy I did quite a neat piece of bandaging,
as well as the Surgeons themselves could've done it. Don't you think
so?"

"Great Scott!" gasped Si, "you couldn't be walkin' around with the side
of your head knocked out. I'm astonished at you."

"So'm I," returned Alf placidly. "I'm surprised that I'm doing as well
as I am. But I gave myself good attendance, and that's a great thing.
I'm awful hungry. Got anything to eat? Where's my haversack?"

"Here it is," said Si, readily. "And here's a cup o' hot coffee. I'll
brile you a piece o' meat. But really, I don't think you ought to eat
anything before the Surgeon sees you. Mebbe it won't be good for you."

"I'll chance it," said Alf desperately, reaching for the cup of coffee.
"I'm sure it'll be better for me to eat something."

"Le's go down and see the Surgeon," insisted Si.

"No," protested Alf, "it ain't hurting me much now, and he's awful busy
with other men, so we hadn't better interrupt him."

"The Surgeon ought to see you at once, Alf," interjected Shorty. "Here
comes one of 'em now. Doctor, will you please look at this boy."

"Certainly," said the Surgeon, stopping on his way. "I guess I can spare
a minute. Take off that bandage, my boy."

"Don't mind me. Doctor," said Alf. "'Taint hurting me now, at all,
scarcely. I did it up very carefully."

"Take off the bandage at once, I tell you," said the Surgeon
imperatively. "I haven't any time to waste. Let me see your wound."

Alf set down his cup of coffee, and began laboriously unwinding the long
bandage, while the rest stood around in anxious expectation. Yards of
folds came off from around his forehead and chin, and then he reached
that around his nose and the back of his head. Still the ghastly edges
of the terrible wound did not develop. Finally the blood-soaked last
layer came off, and revealed where a bullet had made a shallow but
ugly-looking furrow across the cheek and made a nick in the ear.

"Alf, that rebel come dumbed nigh missin' you," said the greatly
relieved Si.

"If you should happen to ketch cold in that it wouldn't git well for a
week," added Shorty.

"Give me that bandage," said the Surgeon just before he hurried away.
"Take this sticking-plaster and draw the lips of the wound together, and
if you keep the dirt out it may heal without a scar."



CHAPTER XVIII. AN ARTILLERY DUEL

AND A "DEMONSTRATION" ON THE ENEMY'S POSITION.

"RUSSELL, that ain't going to heal without a A scar," Alf Russell
consoled himself, as he studied his hurt with a little round pocket
looking-glass, a screen of bushes concealing him from his unappreciative
comrades. "It's more than Monty Scruggs nor Harry Joslyn nor Sandy
Baker'll have to show for the fight. It's even more than Gid Mackall
has, even though he is knocked out. I ought to be sent to the hospital,
too. It'll be something to write home to father and mother, and they'll
put it in the paper and the folks'll talk about it. Gracious, there's a
bugle blowing again. Wonder what that means?"

"That's the Headquarters bugle," said Si, pricking up his ears. "That's
'Attention.' Git your traps together, boys. 'Assembly' 'll come next."

"Good gracious!" gasped Alf Russell, coming out from behind the bushes,
"they don't expect us to do any more fighting today, do they?"

"Very likely," said Shorty, helping Pete Skidmore on with his
blanket-roll. "The job ain't done till it is done, and there's lots o'
rebels over there yit who need lickin'. Now's the best time to finish
it. This ain't nothin' to Stone River and Chickamaugy. Got your canteen
full, Pete? Better fill it before we start. Take mine, too. Don't go any
further'n that first spring there, for I don't want to take no chances
on losin' you again."

The cannonading in the distance grew fiercer, and regiments could be
seen rushing up at the doublequick. Long, shrill rebel yells came from
the hilltops, and were answered by volleys and deep-toned cheers.

Another bugle-call rang out from Brigade Headquarters.

"Fall in, Co. Q," sharply commanded the Orderly-Sergeant.

With a shiver of apprehension, with a nervous memory of the bitter hours
just past, with the sight before their eyes of the scarcely-cold dead,
the remainder of the company fell in with sadly-shrunken ranks.

"Orderly, we need some more cartridges," suggested Shorty.

"I've been thinking of that," replied the Orderly, "and wondering where
to go for them."

"I saw some boxes of Enfields up there toward the battery," said Si.
"The rebels left 'em. They'll fit our guns, and them English cartridges
is just as good as ours."

"Pike over and get them, quick, before the other fellows drop on to
'em," said the Orderly.

"Gracious! going to shoot the rebels with their own bullets," remarked
Monty, who had nearly recovered, and came up pluckily to take his place
in the ranks. "Isn't that great medicine! How I should like to pop one
into that fellow that belted me with that bowlder."

"Hello, Monty," called Shorty jovially to drive out the sad thoughts.
"Got that kink out o' your backbone? Bully boy. You've got the right
kind of nerve. You'll be a man before your mother yet."

"Yes, and I'm here, too, and don't you forget it," said Alf Russell, not
to be outdone by Monty nor unnoticed. "By rights, I ought to be in the
hospital."

"By rights, I ought to be a Jigadier-Brindle," retorted Shorty, "but I
never could git Abe Lincoln to take that view of it. Here, fill up your
cartridgebox. You'll need lots of 'em, if you're only goin' to shoot to
crease your rebels, as that feller did you."

It was not brilliant pleasantry, but it served. It set them to thinking
of something else. They hastily filled their cartridge-boxes, adjusted
their blankets, and when the bugle sounded forward they started with
something of their original nerve.

The regiment moved off at the head of the brigade, and after a march of
a mile or so came out upon a hill from which they could see one of our
batteries having an unequal fight with several of the rebel batteries
in a fort far to its front. Our cannoneers were standing up bravely
to their work, but the rebel shells were bursting about them in a wild
storm of crashing, deafening explosions, and hurtling, shrieking masses
of iron. The sharp crack of their own rifles was at times drowned by the
ear-splitting din of the bursting shells.

"Goodness!" murmured Monty Scruggs, with colorless lips, as the regiment
came into line and moved forward to the battery's line of caissons at
the bottom of the hill. "I'm so glad I didn't enlist in the artillery. I
don't see how anybody up there can live a minute."

"Yes, it looks like as if those artillery boys are earnin' their $13 a
month about every second of their lives," remarked Shorty. "There ought
to be some other batteries loafin' around somewhere that could join in."

The boys leaned on their muskets and watched the awful spectacle with
dazed eyes. It seemed far more terrible even than the ordeal through
which they had just been.

The battery was one of the oldest and best in the army, and its "fire
discipline" was superb.

The Captain stood on a little elevation to the rear and somewhat apart,
intently studying the rebel line through his field-glasses. After a
few words of direction as to the pointing of the guns, and the command,
"Begin firing," he had given no orders, scarcely spoken. He could not
have been heard in that terrible turmoil. He had simply brought his
terrible engine of destruction--the engine upon which he and his men had
lavished years of laborious drilling and training--into position, and
set it going.

What the result would be fate alone would determine. That was a matter
that neither he nor his men regarded. If it destroyed or crippled its
opponents it was simply doing the work for which it had been created.
If its opponents destroyed it, that was a contingency to be accepted. It
was there to endure that fate if so ordered.

Behind the wings of the battery stood the Lieutenants, leaning on their
sabers, and gazing with fixed, unmoving eyes on the thunderous wrack and
ruin.

They said nothing. There was no reason for saying anything. Everything
was working systematically and correctly. Every man was doing his best,
and in the best way. Nobody needed reminder, reprimand, direction or
encouragement.

Similarly, the Sergeants stood behind their sections, except that one
after another they stepped forward to the guns to take the places of
men who had fallen and could not be replaced. At the guns the men were
working with the swiftness of light flashes, and the unerring certainty
of machines. To the watchers at the base of the slope they seemed to
weave back and forth like some gigantic, demoniac loom, as they sprang
at their guns, loaded them, "broke away" as they fired, leaped back
again, caught the gun in its recoil, hurled it forward, again reloaded,
"broke away" and fired, all quicker than thought. A shell took off a
sponger's head, but the sponge-staff was caught by another before it
fell, and the gun fired again without a pause. A shrapnel swept away
every man about one gun. The Lieutenant looked inquiringly at the
Sergeant, and in an instant another squad seemed to spring up from the
ground to continue the firing without missing a note in the battery's
rhythm.

The groups about each gun thinned out, as the shrieking fragments of
shell mowed down man after man, but the rapidity of the fire did not
slacken in the least. One of the Lieutenants turned and motioned with
his saber to the riders seated on their horses in the line of limbers
under the cover of the slope. One rider sprang from each team and ran up
to take the place of men who had fallen.

The next minute the Lieutenant turned and motioned again, and another
rider sprang from each team and ran up the hill. But one man was now
left to manage the six horses attached to each limber. He soon left,
too, in obedience to the Lieutenant's signal, and a faint, bleeding man
came back and climbed into his place.

A shrapnel shell burst almost under the left gun and lifted it up in the
air. When the smoke opened a little not a man could be seen about the
cannon. A yell of exultation floated over from the rebel line.

The Lieutenant unbuckled his saber, dropped it to the ground, and ran
forward to the cannon. Two or three men rose slowly from the ground,
upon which they had been prostrated, and joined the Lieutenant in
running the gun back to its place, and reloading it.

[Illustration: HOORAY FOR THE OLD BATTERY. 231]

"Hooray for the old battery! Bully boys! Made o' right stuff," shouted
Shorty enthusiastically. "Never ketch me saying nothin' agin' the
artillery agin. Men who act like that when they're standin' right in the
middle o' hell with the lid off are 18karat fine."

"Captain," suggested Si, who was fidgeting under the excitement of a
scene in which he was taking no part, "wouldn't it be well for some
of us to go up there and help the battery boys out? I could sponge and
ram."

"No," answered the Captain; "help has been sent for for them, and there
it comes."

He pointed back over the hill to where two batteries were coming from
different directions on a dead run. It was a magnificent sight. One
battery was following the road, and the other cutting across the open
space in a hot race to get ahead and be in action first.

The Captains were galloping ahead to point out the way. The Sergeants
were alongside, seconding the whips of the drivers with strokes of the
flats of their sabers on the animals' hanches. The six horses to each
gun were galloping like mad, snatching the heavy piece over gullies,
bumps, logs, and rocks as if it were a straw. The gunners had abandoned
their usual calm pose with folded arms on the limber chests, and were
maintaining their seats only by a desperate clutch on the side-irons.

The boys turned even from the storm in front to watch the thrilling
spectacle.

The two Captains were fairly abreast as they led their batteries up the
long slope, crushing the brush, sending sticks and stones flying from
the heavy, flying wheels. Both reached the crest at the same time, and
the teams, wheeling around at a gallop, flung the muzzles of the cannon
toward the enemy. Without waiting for them to stop the nimble cannoneers
sprang to ground, unlimbered the guns, rolled them into position, sent
loads down their black throats, and before it was fairly realized that
they had reached the crest hurled a storm of shells across the valley at
the rebel batteries.

"Hooray! Hooray! They're gittin' some o' their own medicine now,"
yelled the excited regiment. "Sock it to 'em. How do you like that, you
ill-begotten imps of rebels?"

The rebel cannoneers seemed to lose heart at once under the storm of
fire that beat upon them. The volume of their fire diminished at once,
and then became fitful and irregular. Two of their limbers were blown up
in succession, with thunderous noise, and this further discouraged them.

Obeying a common impulse, the 200th Ind., regardless of the dropping
shells, had left its position, and pressed forward toward the crest,
where it could see what was going on.

The Colonel permitted this, for he anticipated that a charge on the
rebel works would follow the beating down of the artillery fire, and he
wanted his regiment to be where it would get a good start in the race to
capture a rebel battery. He simply cautioned the Captains to keep
their men in hand and ready. As Capt. McGillicuddy called Co. Q closer
together, it occurred to Shorty that in the interest he had taken in the
artillery duel he had not looked after Pete Skidmore for some time, and
he began casting his eyes around for that youth. He was nowhere to be
seen, and, of course, no one knew anything about him.

"Why don't you get a rope. Shorty, and tie the blamed kid to you, and
not be pestering yourself and everybody else about him all the time?"
asked the Orderly-Sergeant irritably, for he was deeply intent upon the
prospective charge, and did not want to be bothered. "He's more worry
than he's worth."

"Shut up!" roared Shorty. "If you wasn't Orderly-Sergeant I'd punch your
head. I won't have nobody sayin' that about little Pete. He's the best
boy that ever lived. If I could only git hold of him I'd shake the
plaguey life out o' him. Drat him!"

Shorty anxiously scanned the field in every direction, but without his
eyes being gladdened by the sight of the boy.

The wounded being carried back from the batteries impressed him sadly
with the thought that Pete might have been struck by a piece of shell.

"Him and Sandy Baker are both gone," said the Orderly, looking over the
company. "I'll buck-and-gag both of 'em when I catch 'em, to learn 'em
to stay in ranks."

"Indeed you won't," said Shorty, under his breath.

The rebel fire had completely died down, and our own ceased, to allow
the guns to cool for a few minutes, in preparation for an energetic
reopening when the anticipated charge should be ordered.

To be in readiness for this, the Colonel drew the regiment forward
through the batteries, to lie down on the slope in front, that he might
have a start on the other Colonels. As they passed through the batteries
a little imp, about the size of Pete Skidmore, but with face as black
as charcoal, pulled off the leather bag in which cartridges are carried
from the limber to the gun, and handed it to one of the cannoneers, who
said:

"Well, good-by, if you must be going. You done well. You ought to belong
to the artillery. You're too good for a dough-boy. I'm going to ask the
Captain to have you detailed to us."

A similar scene was taking place at the next gun, with a little
blackamoor about the size of Sandy Baker.

The boys picked up their guns and belts from the ground, and fell in
with Co. Q.

"Hello, Corporal," said Pete, with a capacious grin rifting the powder
grime on his face. "We've just bin having lots o' fun."

"Pete, you aggravatin' little brat," said Shorty, giving him a cuff
that started the boy's tears to making little white streaks through the
black, "where in the world have you bin, and what've you bin doin'?"

"Why," whimpered Pete, "me and Sandy crept forward to a rock where we
thought we could see better, and then we thought we could see better
from another, and we kept a-goin' until we got clear up to where
the limbers was, afore we knowed it. Just then a couple o' them
powder-monkeys, as you call 'em, come runnin' back for cartridges, but
they was both hit, and was all bloody, and both of 'em fell down and
couldn't go no further, when they got the cartridges, though they wanted
to. Me and Sandy thought it was too bad that the men up there at the
guns shouldn't have no cartridges, when they was fighting so hard, so
we picked up the boys' bags and run up to the cannon with 'em. The men
there was so glad to git 'em, and told us to lay down our guns and run
back for some more. They kept us goin' till the rebels was knocked out,
and we thought we was doin' right and helpin', and they told us we was,
and now you slap me. Boo-hoo-hoo!"

"Don't cry, Pete. I done wrong," said Shorty, melting instantly, and
putting his arm around the boy. "You done right, and you're a brave,
good little boy. Only you must not go away from the company without
lettin' me know."

"Good God," groaned the Colonel, as he halted the regiment down the
slope, and studied the opposite side with his glass. "There's another
abatis, and it looks worse than the one in which we have just left half
the regiment. But we'll go through if there's only one man left to carry
the flag over the works. I don't suppose that we are any better than
those who have already died, or got any better right to live."

"This is the dumbedest country for cuttin' down trees the wrong way,"
Si sadly remarked, as he surveyed the abatis. "It's meaner'n midnight
murder. I'd like to git hold o' the pizen whelp what invented it."

"The devil invented abatis, just after he invented hell, and as an
improvement on it, and just before he invented secession," Shorty
judged hotly. "When we git through them abatis there I'm goin' to kill
everything I find, just to learn 'em to stop sich heathenish work. It's
sneakin' murder, not war."

"When we get through," murmured Alf Russell dolefully. "How many of us
will ever get through?"

"Who'll be the Jim Humphreys and Gid Mackals this time?" said Monty
Scruggs, looking at the tangled mass of tree-tops.

"Can you see any path through this abatis, Sergeant?" nervously asked
Harry Joslyn.

"No, Harry," said Si, kindly and encouragingly. "But we'll find some way
to git through. There's probably a path that we kin strike. Stay close
by me, and we'll try our best."

"Well, I for one am goin' through, and I'm goin' to take Pete and
Sandy with me," said Shorty, in a loud, confident tone, to brace up the
others. "I've always gone through every one o' them things I've struck
yit, and this ain't no worse'n the others. But we ought to jump 'em at
once, while they're shiverin' over the shelling' we give 'em. They must
be shakin' up there yit like a dog on a January mornin'. Why don't we
start, I wonder?"

The batteries behind them began throwing shells slowly and deliberately,
as if testing their range, before beginning a general cannonade.
All along the crest, to their right and to their left, could be seen
regiments moving up and going into line of battle.

"It's goin' to be a big smash this time, sure," said Si. "And the 200th
Injianny's got a front seat at the performance. We'll show them how to
do it, and we're just the ones that kin. Brace up, boys. The eyes of the
whole army's on us. They expect big things from us."

"Here she goes, I guess," he continued, as a bugle sounded at
headquarters. "Everybody git ready to jump at the word, and not stop
goin' till we're inside the works."

The lines stiffened, every one drew a long breath, gripped his gun, and
braced himself for the fiery ordeal. There was an anxious wait, and then
the Adjutant came walking quietly down the line, with his horse's bridle
over his arm.

"It seems," he explained to Capt. McGillicuddy, loud enough for the
company to hear, "that we are not to make an assault, after all. There's
enough rebels over there in the works to eat us up without salt. We are
ordered to only make a demonstration, and hold them, while the rest work
down on their flanks toward Calhoun, which is six miles below, and get
in their rear. You can let your men rest in place till further orders."

"Take the company Orderly," said the Captain, walking off with the
Adjutant.

"'Tention! Stack arms; Place rest!" commanded the Orderly.

The revulsion of feeling among the keenly-wrought-up men was almost
painful.

"Demonstration be blamed," said Si, sinking upon a convenient rock. "I
always did hate foolin'. Gracious, how tired I am."

"Only a demonstration--only powow, noise, show and bluff," sneered
Shorty, flinging his gun against the stack. "Why didn't they tell us
this an hour ago, and save me all this wear and tear that's makin' me
old before my time? When I git ready for a fight I want it to come off,
without any postponement on account of weather. Come, Pete, go wash your
face and hands, and then we'll spread our blankets and lay down. I'm
tireder'n a mule after crossin' Rocky Face Ridge. I don't want to take
another step, nor even think, till I git a good sleep."

"We don't have to go over that brush, then?" said Alf Russell, with an
expression of deep relief. "I'm so glad. Great Jerusalem, how my wound
begins to ache again. You fellows oughtn't to laugh at my wound. You
don't know how it hurts to have all those delicate nerves torn up."

So it was with every one. The moment the excitement of the impending
fight passed away, every one was sinking with fatigue, and all his other
troubles came back. Monty Scruggs suddenly remembered how badly he had
been hurt, and started to drag himself off in search of the Surgeon,
while Harry Joslyn and Sandy Baker, chumming together for the first
time, snuggled together in their blankets, and sought that relief from
the excitement and fatigues of the day which kindly Nature never refuses
to healthy young bodies.



CHAPTER XIX. SI AND SHORTY ARE PUT UNDER ARREST.

THE next morning the rebels were found to be gone from the position
in front of the 200th Ind;, and after breakfast the regiment marched
leisurely by a road around the dreaded abatis, to the ground which had
been scarred and mangled by our terrible artillery fire.

It was an appalling scene that the eyes of the boys rested upon. Every
horrid form of mutilation and death which could be inflicted by
the jagged shards and fiendish shells, or the even more demon-like
shrapnel-balls, was visible.

Everything was torn, rent, and ragged, as if soma mighty giant, insane
to destroy, had spent his fury there. Nothing had escaped the iron flail
of devastation. Trees shattered or cut entirely down; limberchests and
cannon-wheels merely bunches of blackened splinters; frightfully mangled
horses, dead, or yet living in agony that filled their great plaintive
eyes; lying in ghastly pools of blood, which filmed and clotted under
the bright rays of the May morning sun.

"Looks like Judgment morn or the fall of Babylon," muttered the
religious-minded Alf Russell, the first to break their awed silence.

[Illustration: AWFUL DESTRUCTION. 241]

"Or the destruction of Sennacherib," suggested Monty Scruggs--

     "For the angel of death spread his wings on the blast,
     And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed."

"I should say he had a mighty strong breath, Monty," Shorty interrupted.
He liked to break in on Monty's heroics. "Excuse me from havin' a
12pounder breathin' around me."

"And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts
but once heaved, and forever grew still," continued Monty.

"I'll bet there wasn't much sleepin' around here while that shell'n' was
goin' on," broke in Shorty again. "Except the sleep that has the sod for
a coverlet and Gabriel's trumpet for a breakfast bell."

Monty continued impressively:

     "And there lay the steed, with his nostrils all wide,
     But through them there rolled not the breath of his pride;
     And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
     And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf."

"Poor horses," murmured Shorty. "I always feel mighty sorry for them.
They hadn't nothin' to do with gittin' up this rebellion. We must go
around and kill such as is alive, and put them out o' their misery."

Monty resumed:

     "And there lay the rider, distorted and pale.
     With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail;
     And the tents were all silent, the banners alone.
     The lances uplifted, the trumpets unblown."

"Serves 'em right, the yaller-bellied, clay-eatin' yowlers," said Shorty
savagely, looking over the mangled corpses. "Pays 'em up for their
murderin' abatis. We got it in this time worse on them than they did on
us, though it'd take as much of this as'd make up several Counties to
pay up for any one o' the good boys we lost yesterday. I hope they
are all where they kin look down and see how we got it on the secesh
hell-hounds. We'll do 'em up worse yit before we're through with 'em."

"Our batteries are improvin' wonderfully," commented the more practical
Si, studying the field. "They seem to've socked every shell in just
where it'd do the most good. No shootin' at the State o' Georgy
generally and trustin' to luck to hit a rebel. Every shell seems to've
landed just where it was needed, and then 'tended to its business and
busted. You don't see no signs of any strikin' a quarter of a mile away,
nor a whole one layin' around anywhere. That's good gunnin', and I'm
glad our old six-hoss thrashin'-machine done the biggest share of it.
Our brigade has the best battery in the whole army."

"The regiment will go on," reported Orderly-Sergeant, "but Co. Q will
stay behind to bury the dead, gather up the arms and things, and then
bring up the brigade ammunition train."

"Stay behind to bury the dead," grumbled Shorty. "Nice business that!
Sextons to the Southern Confederacy. Hain't they got any niggers around
here that they kin set at the work?"

Nor did Si like the job. "The artillery made the muss, and now the
infantry's got to stay and clean up after it. That don't seem right."

"Well, orders is orders, and got to be obeyed," said the
Orderly-Sergeant, cutting short the discussion with the usual formulary
of his class. An Orderly-Sergeant is robbed of one of the cherished
privileges of the other enlisted men. He can not criticise or grumble,
but must stop the others from doing so beyond a certain point, and his
refuge must be the prompt assumption that the orders are all right,
and must be executed cheerfully. And he has not the satisfaction of the
officers above him in knowing the why and wherefore of the orders, and
perhaps advising as to them. He is "betwixt and between," as they say
out West.

"The quicker we get at it," continued the Orderly, "the sooner it'll be
over. Serg't Klegg, take eight or 10 men and hunt around for some picks
and shovels. I think that deep trench over there behind the works 'll
do for a grave. You can shovel the bank right down on them and save hard
work. Serg't Wilson, you take eight or 10 men and gather up these pieces
o' men and lay them in there. Corp'l Jones, you take another man or two
and go around and kill those horses. Be careful how you shoot now. Don't
hurt anybody with glancing bullets. Corp'l Elliott, you take the rest
and go round and gather the guns and other things, and pile them up
there by that tree to turn over to the ordnance officer. Hustle, now,
all of you."

"They didn't think they were digging their own graves," philosophized
Monty Scruggs, as he stood shovel in hand watching the remains being
gathered into the trench.

     "He digged a ditch, he digged it deep;
     He digged it for his brother,
     But for his great sin he fell in
     The ditch he'd digged for t'other."

"Good, good, Monty," said Si. "That's the best thing I've heard you
spout yit. Give us some more of it."

"There isn't any more of it. The only thing I can think of is:

     "The rebel Solomon Grundy;
     Born in Georgia on Monday;
     Become a rebel on Tuesday;
     Run off from Buzzard's Roost on Wednesday;
     Got licked at Dalton on Thursday;
     Worse whipped at Resaca on Friday;
     Blown up by a shell on Saturday;
     Died and buried on Sunday;
     And this was the end of Solomon Grundy."

Alf Russell's interest in anatomy had led him to join Serg't Wilson's
party in gathering up the ghastly fragments of bodies, but the sights
were too much for his nerves, and as he perceived that he was growing
sick at the stomach he went over to Shorty's squad.

It was astonishing what things they found, besides guns and equipments.
Evidently, the rebels had left quite hurriedly, and many personal
belongings were either forgotten or could not be found in the darkness.
Samples of about everything that soldiers carry, and a good many that
they are not supposed to, were found lying around. There were cooking
utensils, some on the fire, with corn-pone and meat in them; some where
the imperative orders to march found their owners with their breakfasts
half-devoured; there were hats clumsily fashioned of wisps of long-leaved
pine sewed together; there were caps which had been jaunty red-and-blue
"Zouaves" when their owners had mustered around Nashville in 1861, but
had been faded and tarnished and frayed by the mud and rain at Donelson,
Shiloh and Stone River, and by the dust and grime of Perryville
and Chickamauga, until they had as little semblance to their former
perkiness as the grim-visaged war had to the picnic of capturing
ungarrisoned forts and lolling in pleasant Summer camps on the banks
of the Cumberland. There were coats of many patterns and stages of
dilapidation, telling the same story of former finery, draggled through
the injurious grime of a thousand camps and marches. There were patched
and threadbare blankets, tramped-out boots and shoes, an occasional
book, many decks of cards, and so on.

Shorty came across a new cedar canteen with bright brass hoops. He slung
it over his shoulder, with the thought that it would be a nice thing to
send back to Maria, as a souvenir of the battle. She might hang it up in
her room, or make a pin-cushion or a work-basket out of it.

Presently he came to a box of shells, which he picked up and carried
back to the tree. It was quite heavy, and when he set it down again he
felt thirsty. The canteen occurred to him. It was full. He raised it to
his lips and took a long swig.

"Great Jehosephat," he gasped, his eyes starting out with astonishment.
"That ain't water. It's prime old applejack, smoother'n butter, and
smellin' sweeter'n a rose. Best I ever tasted."

Shorty had been strictly abstinent since his return from Indiana, The
rigid views of the Klegg family as to liquor-drinking had sunk into
his heart, and somehow whenever temptation came his way the clear,
far-seeing eyes of Maria would intervene with such a reproachful glance
that the thought of yielding became repugnant.

But the smooth, creamy applejack had slipped past his lips so
unexpectedly that it possessed him, before principle could raise an
objection. Shorty was the kind of a man to whom the first drink is the
greatest danger. After he had one almost anything was likely to happen.

Still, though his blood was already warming with the exhilarating
thrill, there were some twinges of conscience.

"Now, I mustn't take no more o' that," he said to himself. "That one
drink was good and all right enough, because I really thought I was
goin' to take a drink of water when I put the canteen to my lips. I
could swear that to Maria on a stack o' Bibles high as her dear head.
God bless her!"

He began bustling about with more activity, and giving his orders in a
louder voice. He saw Pete Skidmore pick up what had been once a militia
officer's gaudy coat, and examine it curiously. He shouted at him:

"Here, drop that, drop that, you little brat. What 'd I tell you? That
you mustn't fetch a rag of anything you see in here, except with the
point o' your bayonet and with your bayonet on your gun. Drop it, I tell
you."

"Why, what's the matter with that old coat?" asked Pete in an injured
tone, astonished at Shorty's vehemence.

"Everything's the matter with it, and every stitch o' cloth you find.
They're swarmin' with rebel bugs. I've trouble enough to keep the Yankee
graybacks off you. If you git the rebel kind on you angwintum won't save
you."

Pete dropped the coat in affright.

"And you, Sandy Baker," continued Shorty in a yell, "don't you walk
through them piles o' brush and leaves, where the rebels has bin
sleepin'. You'll git covered with rebel bugs, too, and we'll never git
'em out o' the company. How often 've I got to tell you that?"

Yelling so much made him dry, and the canteen hung so invitingly near
his hand.

"I don't think another pull at that old applejack 'll hurt me a mite.
I really didn't git a square drink the first time, because I was choked
off by astonishment at findin' it wasn't water. I'll just take enough of
a swig to finish up that drink."

"Jerusalem crickets," he exclaimed, wiping his mouth, "but that's good
stuff. Wonder if bein' in cedar makes it taste so bang-up? If I though
so I'd never drink out o' anything but cedar as long's I lived. Guess
I'll keep this canteen to carry water in. I kin send Maria--"

He stopped. He was not so far gone as to forget that any thought of
Maria was very inappropriate to his present condition. He started to
blustering at the boys who were carrying in guns:

"Here, how often have I got to caution you galoots about bein' careful
with them guns? Don't let the muzzles pint at yourselves, nor anybody
else. They're all likely to be loaded, and go off any minute, and blow
some o' your cussed heads offen you. Don't slam 'em down that way. Be
careful with 'em, I tell you. I'll come over there and larrup some o'
you, if you don't mind me."

"What's excitin' Shorty so, to make him yell that way? wondered Si,
stopping in his shoveling down the embankment upon the rebel dead, and
wiping his hot face.

"O, he's trying to keep them fresh young kids from blowin' themselves
into Kingdom Come with the rebel guns," answered one of the veterans
indifferently, and they resumed their shoveling.

Shorty started over to where some of the boys were trying to extricate
a rebel limber abandoned in a ravine. He spied a pair of fine field
glasses lying on the ground, and picked them up with an exclamation of
delight.

"Great Jehosephat," he said, turning them over for careful inspection.
"Ain't this a puddin'? Just the thing to give the Cap. He got his
smashed with a bullet comin' through the abatis, and's bin mournin'
about 'em ever since. These is better'n his was, and he'll be ticked to
death to git 'em."

He put them to his eyes and scanned the landscape.

"Ain't they just daisies, though. Bring that teamster over there so
close that I kin hear him cussin' his mules. Cap'll have a better pair
o' glasses than the Colonel or the General has. He deserves 'em, too.
Capt. McGillicuddy's good all the way through, from skin to bone, and as
brave as they make 'em. He'll be tickleder than a boy with a new pair o'
red-topped boots. He'll invite me to take a drink with him, but he won't
have nothin' so good as this old apple-jack. I guess I'll give the rest
to him, too, for his friends at headquarters. They don't often smack
their lips over stuff like that. But I'll treat myself once more, just
as Capt. McGillicuddy'd do."

The last drink was a settler. He was then in a frame of mind for
anything--to tear down a mountain, or lift a hill, or to fight anybody,
with or without cause. He looked over at the boys struggling with the
limber, and yelled, as he laid his coat, hat, canteen, and cartridge-box
down on the stump upon which he had been sitting, and placed the
field-glass upon them:

"Hoopee! Yank her out o' there, boys. Yank h'er out, and don't be all
day about it, either. Let me git at her and I'll fetch her out. Stand
by, you kids, and see your uncle Eph snatch her."

He bolted in to the ravine, swung the limber-tongue about, and with aid
of the rest, stirred to united effort by much profane vociferation on
his part, disengaged the limber and trundled it up the bank.

The tall, very stiff young Aid, with whom Si and Shorty had had the
previous affair, came stalking on to the ground, viewing everything with
his usual cold, superior, critical gaze.

"You are doing well, my man," he remarked to Shorty, "but too much
noise. A non-commissioned officer must not swear at his men. It's
strictly against regulations."

"Go to blazes," said Shorty, scarcely under his breath. The Aid picked
up the field-glasses, looked at them a minute, scanned the field with
them, and then looked around for the case, as if to appropriate them
himself.

"Here, drop them," said Shorty roughly. "Them's mine."

"How did they come to be yours, sir?" said the Aid sternly. "Picked them
up, didn't you?"

"None o' your business how I got 'em. They're mine, I tell you. Give 'em
to me."

"You picked them up on the battlefield, sir. They are military
equipments which you must turn over to the proper officer. I'll take
charge of them myself."

"You'll do nothin' o' the kind," roared Shorty, striding up to him.
"Give me them glasses."

"I shall do nothing of the kind," said the Aid sternly. "Don't you dare
approach me in that w-ay. Go back to your duties at once. I shall punish
you for disrespect to me and threatening an officer. Fall back, sir, I
tell you."

Shorty made a grab for the glasses, which the Aid tried to evade, but
Shorty fixed his firm clutch upon them. The Aid held on tightly, but
Shorty wrenched them from his grasp.

"You bob-tailed brevet West Pointer," said Shorty savagely, raising his
fist, "I've a notion to break you in two for tryin' to beat me out o'
what's mine. Git out o' here, or I'll--"

"Shorty! Shorty! Stop that!" shouted Si, rushing over to his partner,
and catching his back-drawn fist. He had been suspicious as to the cause
of his partner's noisiness, and ran up as soon as the disturbance began.
"Stop it, I say. Are you crazy?"

Poor little Pete, badly excited as to what was happening to his best
friend, was nervously fumbling his gun and eyeing the Aid.

"Si Klegg, go off and mind your own business, and let me attend to
mine," yelled Shorty, struggling to free himself from his partner's iron
grasp. "Am I goin' to be run over by every pin-feather snipe from West
Point? I'll break him in two."

"Sergeant," commanded the Aid, reaching to take the field-glasses from
Shorty's hand; "buck and gag that man at once. Knock him down if he
resists. Knock him down, I say."

"You tend to your own business and I'll tend to mine. Go away from here,
and don't say anything to make him madder, you wasp-waisted errand boy,"
said Si savagely, as he thrust himself in between the Aid and Shorty.
"I've got enough to do to take care of him. Go off, if you don't want
him to mash you."

Little Pete had an idea. He wriggled in between, snatched the glasses,
and made off with them.

The Brigade Provost-Marshal rode up and sternly demanded what the
disturbance was about. Shorty began a hot harrangue against young staff
officers generally, and this particular offender, but Si got his arm
across his mouth and muffled his speech. The Provost listened to the
Aid's bitter indictment against both Si and Shorty.

"Put both those men under arrest," he said to the Orderly-Sergeant,
"and make a list of the witnesses. I'll court-martial them at the first
halting place."



CHAPTER XX. SHORTY IS ARRAIGNED BEFORE THE COURT-MARTIAL.

TO REST, refit after the sharp fighting and marching, and to wait for
the slightly wounded and other convalescents to come up, the brigade
went into camp on the banks of the Oostenaula River, near Calhoun, Ga.,
and about 20 miles south of Dalton, which had been the objective at the
opening of the campaign.

And while the men were washing and mending their clothes, it was decided
to put the discipline of the brigade, which had suffered similarly by
the rough campaign, through a somewhat like process of furnishing and
renovation.

A court-martial was ordered, "to try such cases as may be brought before
it."

The court convened with all the form and ceremony prescribed by the Army
Regulations for tribunals which pass judgment upon the pay, honor and
lives of officers and men.

The officers detailed for the court sent back to the baggage wagons, and
got their wrinkled dress-suits out of the valises, they buttoned these
to their throats, donned their swords, sashes and white gloves, and
gathered stiffly and solemnly about a long, rough table, which had
been put up under the spreading limbs of giant oaks. Guards pacing at a
little distance kept all the curious and inquisitive out of earshot. The
camp gossips, full of interest as to the fate of those who were to be
tried, could see an aggravating pantomime acted out, but hear no word.

A squad of offenders of various degrees of turpitude ranging from
absence without leave to sleeping on post, were huddled together under
the Provost Guard, while Si and Shorty, being non-commissioned officers,
were allowed to remain with their company, to be produced by Capt.
McGillicuddy when wanted. They kept themselves rigidly apart from the
rest of the company, repelling the freely-offered sympathy of their
comrades. Si was most deeply concerned about Shorty, who was so
desperate over his fall from grace, that he regretted that he had not
killed the young Aid, while he was at him, so as to have relieved his
comrades of him, and made his own condemnation and execution sure.

"Old Maj. Truax, of the 1st Oshkosh, is President of the court," said
the Orderly-Sergeant, as the company was anxiously canvassing the boys'
chances.

"Gosh, that settles it," groaned Jerry Wilkinson; "that old bull o' the
woods 'd rather shoot a man than not. He's always lookin' around for
some excuse for sculping a man, and the less he has the savager he is."

"I don't believe it," said the Orderly, "I've watched old Truax, when
he's been roaring around, and I always found that he was after somebody
that deserved it. Men of that kind are pretty certain to be very soft on
good soldiers, like Si and Shorty, and I think he's all right. The
boys of the 1st Oshkosh all swear by him, and you can trust a man's own
regiment to know him surer than anybody else. And then there's Capts.
Suter and Harris, of the Maumee Muskrats."

"Terrible strict," muttered Jerry despairingly.

"Lieuts. Newton and Bonesteel, of the Kankakees," continued the Orderly.

"Good men--promoted from the ranks, and remember that they once carried
a gun themselves."

"Lieut. McJimsey, of the staff."

"A wasp-waisted West Pointer, raw from school; thinks he's learned all
there's to know about war out of a book on triggernometry. Has no more
feelin' for a private soljer than I have for a mule. Calls 'em 'my men,'
roared Jerry.

"And as he's only a Second Lieutenant he'll have the first vote," sighed
the Orderly. "And Lieut. Bowersox is to be the Judge-Advocate. He'll
have to do the prosecuting. I know he hates the job. He thinks the world
and all of Si and Shorty, but he's the kind of a man to do his duty
without fear, favor or affection. And all of us 'll have to testify.
Dumb Shorty's fool soul! Why didn't he get up his ruction somewhere
where the boys couldn't see him, and know nothing about it! I've no
patience with him or Si."

Lieut. Steigermeyer, the complainant, stalked by in solemn dignity.

"Can't I shoot that dod-blasted Aid, and save Shorty, and take it all on
myself?" blubbered little Pete, who had been in tears ever since he had
seen the grave assemblage of officers in full dress.

[Illustration: SHORTY BEFORE THE COURT-MARTIAL. 256]

"Shut up, you little fool," said the Orderly savagely. In the
selfishness of his sorrow it made him angry to see anybody else show
more grief than his.

The Orderly, in stating Lieut. Bowersox's position, forgot, or was
not aware of the fact, that while the Judge-Advocate represents the
Government at a trial as the Prosecuting Attorney, he is also the
counsel for the defense; a dual role which has important and frequently
unexpected results.

After the members were duly seated according to rank, with Maj. Truax
at the head of the table, Lieut. Bowersox read the order for holding the
court, and called the names of the members. He then said:

"Gentlemen, the first case I shall present to your notice is one of
exceeding gravity, affecting a member of my own regiment. As it is the
most important case that you shall have to consider, I thought it best
that it should be disposed of first. Sergeant, bring in Corp'l William
L. Elliott, Co. Q, 200th Ind. Volunteer Infantry."

Shorty entered the court with an air of extreme depression in face and
manner, instead of the usual confident self-assertion which seemed
to flow from every look and motion. He stood with eyes fixed upon the
ground.

"Prisoner," said Lieut. Bowersox, "this court has met to try you. Look
around upon the members, and see if there is any one to whom you have
objection. If so, state it."

Shorty glanced listlessly from the head of the table toward the foot.
There his eye rested on the Second Lieutenant for a minute, and then
he muttered to himself, "No, he's no worse than the rest ought to be
on me," and shook his head in answer to the Judge-Advocate's formal
question.

"You will each of you rise, hold up your right hand and be sworn," said
the Judge-Advocate, and they each pronounced after him the prolix and
ponderous oath prescribed by the regulations:

"You, Maj. Benjamin Truax, do swear that you will well and truly try and
determine, according to evidence, the matter now before you, between the
United States of America and the prisoner to be tried, and that you
will duly administer justice, according to the provisions of an act
establishing rules and articles for the government of the armies of the
United States, without partiality, favor or affection; and if any
doubt shall arise, not explained by said articles, according to your
understanding and the custom of war in such cases. And you do further
swear, that you will not divulge the sentence of the court, until it
shall be published by proper authority; neither will you disclose
or discover the vote or opinion of any particular member of the
court-martial, unless required to give evidence thereof, as a witness,
by a court of justice in due course of law. So help you God."

The President then took the book and administered the same oath to the
Judge-Advocate.

"I shall now read the charges and specifications," said the
Judge-Advocate, "which are as follows, and he read with sonorous
impressiveness:

CHARGE:--Insulting, Threatening, and Striking Superior Officer.

Specification I.--That Corp'l William L. Elliott, Co. Q, 200th Ind. Vol.
Inf., did strike and perform other physical violence upon Second Lieut.
Adolph Steigermeyer, of the Second Corps, U. S. Engr's, who was his
superior officer, and in the performance of his duty, in violation of
the 9th Article of War, and contrary to the discipline of the Armies of
the United States. This on the march of the army from Dalton, Ga., to
Calhoun, Ga., and on the 16th day of May, 1864.

Specification II.--That said Corp'l William I.. Elliott, Co. Q, 200th
Ind. Vol. Inf., did threaten physical violence to the said Second Lieut,
Adolph Steigermeyer, Second Corps, U. S. Engr's, his superior officer,
and who was in the performance of his duty, contrary to the 9th Article
of War, and the discipline of the Armies of the United States. This on
the march of the army from Dalton, Ga., to Calhoun, Ga., and on the 16th
day of May, 1864.

Specification III.--That said Corp'l William L. Elliott, Co. Q, 200th
Ind. Vol. Inf., did insult with many opprobrious words, the said Adolph
Steigermeyer, Second Corps, U. S. Engr's, his superior officer, in the
presence of many enlisted men, in violation of the 6th Article of War
and of the discipline of the Armies of the United States. This on the
march of the army from Dalton, Ga., to Calhoun, Ga., and on the 16th day
of May, 1864.

CHARGE:--Drunkenness on duty.

Specification I.--That said Corp'l William L. Elliott, Co. Q, 200th Ind.
Vol. Inf., being then on duty, and in command of a squad of men, was
openly and noisily intoxicated and drunk, and incapable of performing
said duty, in violation of the 45th Article of war, and the discipline
of the Armies of the United States. This on the march of the army from
Dalton, Ga., to Calhoun, Ga., and on the 16th day of May, 1864.

CHARGE 3.--Misappropriating Public Property.

Specification I.--That said Corp'l William L. Elliott, being charged
with the duty of gathering up and accounting for the property captured
from and abandoned by the enemy, did appropriate to himself, attempt
to conceal, and refuse to deliver to his superior officer a portion
thereof, to wit, one pair of field glasses, in violation of the 58th
Article of War, and contrary to the discipline of the Armies of the
United States. This on the march of the enemy from Dalton, Ga., to
Calhoun, Ga., and on the 16th day of May, 1864.

"O, goodness gracious!" murmured little Pete Skidmore, almost fainting
with terror, in the covert of oak leaves, just above the court's head,
whither he had noiselessly climbed, to overhear everything. "He's
a-goner, sure! They'll shoot him, sure as guns. Saltpeter won't save
him. He's broke every Article o' War in the whole book. My, what will I
do?"

He slipped down and communicated his information to the
anxiously-expectant comrades of Co. Q.

"It mayn't be as bad as we expect," the Orderly-Sergeant tried to
console them. "The bite of most of them regulations and charges and
specifications ain't never near as bad as their bark. If they were,
a good many of us would have been shot long ago. My experience in the
army's been that the regulations are like the switches the teachers used
to have in school--a willow for the good scholars, and a stout hickory
for the bad ones. Still, I'm afraid that Shorty won't get off with less
than hard labor for life on the fortifications."

"Prisoner, you have heard the charges and specifications," said Lieut.
Bowersox, in a stern voice. "How do you plead to them?"

"O, I'm guilty--guilty o' the whole lot," said Shorty dejectedly.

"Inasmuch," said Lieut. Bowersox, with an entire change of tone, "as
it is my duty to represent the prisoner's interests as counsel, I shall
disregard his plea, and enter one of not guilty."

Shorty started to gasp. "But I done all that--"

"Silence," thundered Lieut. Bowersox, "you are only to speak, sir, when
I or some other member of the court ask you a question."

"But has the Judge-Advocate the right to disregard the plain plea?"
Lieut. McJimsey started to inquire, when the President interrupted with,

"Lieutenant, we can have no discussion of the court's practices in the
presence of the prisoner. If you want to enter upon that we shall have
to clear the court. Do you desire that?"

There was something in the bluff old Major's tone that made the
Lieutenant think this inadvisable, and he signified the negative.

"Call your first witness, then, Judge-Advocate," said Maj. Truax, with a
wave of his hand.

Lieut. Steigermeyer, in full-dress, even to epaulets, rigidly erect and
sternly important as to look, testified that he was a Second
Lieutenant in the Regular Army, but had the staff rank of Captain and
Inspector-General, and after going out of his way to allude to the
laxness of discipline he found prevailing in the Western armies,
testified that on the day mentioned, while in pursuance of his duty, he
was going over the battlefield, he came upon the prisoner, whose
drunken yelling attracted his attention; that he had admonished him, and
received insults in reply.

"My way is to knock a man down, when he gives me any back talk,"
remarked the Major, sotto voce, taking a fresh chew of tobacco. "That's
better than court-martialing to promote discipline."

"Further admonitions," continued the Lieutenant, "had the same result,
and I was about to call a guard to put him under arrest, when I happened
to notice a pair of field-glasses that the prisoner had picked up, and
was evidently intending to appropriate to his own use, and not account
for them. This was confirmed by his approaching me in a menacing manner,
insolently demanding their return, and threatening me in a loud voice
if I did not give them up, which I properly refused to do, and ordered
a Sergeant who had come up to seize and buck-and-gag him. The Sergeant,
against whom I shall appear later, did not obey my orders, but seemed
to abet his companion's gross insubordination. The scene finally
culminated, in the presence of a number of enlisted men, in the
prisoner's wrenching the field-glasses away from me by main force, and
would have struck me had not the Sergeant prevented this. It was such an
act as in any other army in the world would have subjected the offender
to instant execution. It was only possible in--"

"Pardon me, Lieutenant--I should perhaps say Captain"--interrupted
Lieut. Bowersox, with much sweetness of manner, "but the most of us are
familiar with your views as to the inferiority of the discipline of the
Western Armies to that of the Army of the Potomac and European armies,
so that we need not take up the' time of the court with its reiteration.
What farther happened?"

"Nothing. The Provost Guard came up at that moment, and I directed a
Sergeant to place the two principal offenders in custody, and secure the
names of the witnesses."

"Is that all, Captain?"

"Yes, except that in closing my testimony I feel that it is my duty to
impress upon the court that so flagrant a case as this should be made
the opportunity for an example in the interests of discipline in the
whole army. I have known this prisoner for some time, and watched him.
This is not the first time that he and the Sergeant have insulted me.
They are leaders in that class of uneducated fellows who have entirely
too little respect for officers and gentlemen. They should be taught a
lesson. This is necessary for the dignity and effectiveness of gentlemen
who bear commissions, and--"

"I will ask the witness if this lecture on military ethics is a part of
his testimony?" asked the Major:

"I think it is needed," answered the Lieutenant tartly.

"Let me see, Steigermeyer," said the Major, adjusting another chew of
tobacco to his mouth, and balancing the knife with which he had cut it
off, judicially in his fingers, a favorite position of his when, as a
lawyer, he was putting a witness through a cross-examination. "How long
have you been with this army? Came West with the Eleventh Corps, didn't
you?"

"No; I was left behind on duty. I didn't come for several weeks after."

"So I thought. You weren't with us at Stone River, or Chickamauga, or
Mission Ridge. You'd know more if you had been. Your mental horizon
would have been enlarged, so to speak. Aren't you from Milwaukee?"

"I was born and brought up there, until I went to West Point," answered
the Lieutenant, rather uneasily.

"So I thought. The only man of your name that I ever heard of kept a
saloon in Milwaukee--a great place for politicians to hang around. I
used to go there myself when I was in politics. He was a sort of a ward
boss. Was he your father?"

"Yes, sir," said the Lieutenant, with reddening face; "but I don't
know what this has to do with the case that I have presented to your
attention."

"It has a great deal to do with this lecture with which you have favored
us," answered the Major dryly. "But we'll not discuss that in open
court. Are you through with the witness, Judge-Advocate? If so, call the
next."

"I'll just ask the Captain a few questions for the defense," said Lieut.
Bowersox. "How did you know that the prisoner was drunk?"

"How did I know it? How does any man know that another is drunk? He was
boisterous, excited and yelling--that kind of a drunk."

"But that does not prove that he was drunk. That may be his way of doing
his work. Did you see him drink?"

"No."

"Did you ever see him before?"

"Yes."

"How was he acting then?"

"I shall have to say that he was boisterous and yelling then, but not so
wildly excited."

"Then it was only a difference in degree, not kind. Was he not
accomplishing what he was ordered to do?"

"Yes, he certainly did bring that limber out of the gulch."

"Then it is only a matter of opinion that he was drunk. You have nothing
to guide you except your judgment that the man was drunk, who was still
doing his duty pretty effectively."

"But there could be no mistake. I know that the man was raging drunk."

"As I said before, that is a matter of opinion and judgment which I will
discuss with the court later. Did the prisoner actually strike you?"

"I cannot say that he actually did, farther than snatch out of my hand
the field-glasses."

"He didn't do it! You're lyin'! I yanked the glasses out of your hand.
'Twas me," shouted little Pete, from the oak leaves.

The members all looked up in astonishment.

"Sergeant," said the Major to the Sergeant of the Provost Guard, "fetch
that little rascal down and buck-an-gag him, until I can decide what
further punishment he deserves for eavesdropping, and interrupting the
court."

"I don't care if you kill me," whimpered little Pete, as they tied his
hands together, "if you'll only let Corp'l Elliott off. He wasn't to
blame. It was me.

"You can go," said Lieut. Bowersox to the Lieutenant. "Sergeant, bring
in Orderly-Sergeant Jacob Whitelaw."

In response to the Judge-Advocate's direct questionings the
Orderly-Sergeant had to sorrowfully admit that he thought that Shorty
was drunk, very drunk, and exceedingly noisy. But when Lieut. Bowersox
changed to the defense, the Orderly-Sergeant testified with great
alacrity that he had not seen Shorty take a drink, that he did not know
where he could have got whisky; did not know where in all that part of
Georgia there was a drop of liquor outside of the Surgeon's stores and
the officers' canteens; that he wished he did know, for he'd like to
have a drink himself; and that Shorty, when he was putting forth his
greatest strength, was generally very vociferous and not at all careful
of what he said. This was one of the peculiarities of the man, that he
was overlooked on account of his great effectiveness on the men when in
that state.

The other members of the company testified in the same way, giving their
belief even more emphatically against any liquor being found anywhere in
that neighborhood, and the unlikelihood of Shorty's being able to obtain
any. The other members of the court had "caught on" very quickly to the
tactics of the President and Judge-Advocate. All except Lieut. McJimsey,
whose prepossessions were decidedly and manifestly in favor of the
attitude of his brother staff officer. He grew stiffer and more dogged
as the case proceeded, and frequently asked embarrassing questions. The
Judge-Advocate announced that "the case was closed, and the court would
be cleared for deliberation.

"Before you open, Judge-Advocate," said Maj. Truax significantly, "I
want to say something, not as a member of this court, but something
between gentlemen, and I want to say it before we begin our
deliberations, in order that it shall not be considered as part of them,
or influencing them. The lecture by that self-sufficient fellow on our
duties makes me tired. I remember his father--he sold the meanest whisky
to be found in Milwaukee. I want to say right here that no man who sells
lager beer can sell whisky fit for gentlemen to drink. Beer corrupts his
taste, mind and judgment. Old Steigermeyer had a good deal of political
influence of a certain kind, and he bulldozed the Representative from
his District into giving his son an appointment to West Point. Now this
young upstart comes around and absolutely lectures us who have always
been gentlemen, and our fathers before us, on gentlemanliness. It was
hard for me to keep from saying something right before him about the
quality of whisky his father used to sell. I can stand a good deal,
but the idea of a ginmill keeper's son lording it over others and over
enlisted men who came of much better stock than he does sticks in my
craw. Now, whenever I find one of these whose father got his appointment
as Steigermeyer's father did (and the old Major's eye wandered down
to where Lieut. McJimsey's air of sternness had given way to visible
unrest) I'm tempted to say unpleasant things. Now, Judge-Advocate,
proceed."

"The evidence in this case," said Lieut. Bowersox, with the severity
proper to a vindicator of justice, "shows that it was a very flagrant
breach of the essentials of discipline, and deserves stern treatment. A
man wearing the chevrons of a Corporal, has, in the presence of a number
of enlisted men, behaved in the most unseemly manner, showed gross
disobedience to his superior officer, reviled him with opprobrious
epithets, threatened to strike him, and actually did strike him. On the
other hand (and the Lieutenant's tone changed to that of counsel for the
defense), we all of us know that the prisoner is an excellent soldier of
long service, that his influence has always been for the best, and that
he was promoted to Corporal as an exceptional compliment for his part in
capturing a rebel flag at Chickamauga, where he was wounded and left
for dead on the field. It is for you, gentlemen, to take all these facts
into consideration, and determine how men of this stamp should be dealt
with for the best interests of the service. The evidence against him is
in many respects conflicting, and rests upon mere judgment, in which the
best of us are liable to err. I will not detain you farther, gentlemen."

"You say this prisoner was promoted for capturing a rebel flag at
Chickamauga?" asked Maj. Truax, who was perfectly aware of the fact, but
wanted to emphasize it upon the others.

"Yes," said Lieut. Bowersox, only too glad of the opportunity. "I saw it
all. Gallant a thing as was ever done. Simply magnificent. Thrills me to
think about it. I tell you that fellow's a soldier all the way through.

"That was before this Stiegermeyer fellow and a lot of other fellows
(and again his eyes wandered carelessly down toward Lieut. McJimsey)
had even joined us. I remember him also bringing up ammunition to his
regiment at Stone River. He is one of those fellows that you can send
to the rear, and always be sure that he'll come back as fast as his feet
can carry him. I don't want to influence any member of this court, but
the evidence that we have heard don't go an inch toward convincing me
that he was drunk, or struck at his superior officer. There was some
mistake, always liable to excited men. Lieut. McJimsey, you are the
junior officer present. It is your right to speak and vote first. Let us
hear from you."

The Lieutenant seemed to have recovered his sternness, and his
expression showed a determination to wreak exemplary punishment on the
man who had so grievously offended one of his class.

"It is clear to me," he began in a hard, set tone, "that an example
should be made. These low, brutal fellows--"

"When I lived in Chicago," broke in the Major, in a conversational tone,
apparently forgetful that he had called upon the Lieutenant to speak,
but fixing a very piercing blue eye upon him, "I used to mix up a good
deal with the boys who hung around a saloon kept by a ward politician,
an unscrupulous, noisy, driving fellow named--But excuse me. Lieutenant,
I forgot for the moment that I had called upon you to speak."

The Lieutenant's face had undergone a remarkable change, and as he sank
back in his seat, he said in a forced voice:

"In consideration solely of the previous excellent character of the
prisoner, I vote not guilty on all the charges and specifications, but
with a distinct warning to the man as to the future."

"So do I!" "So do I!" said the rest, one after another, so quickly that
it was almost a chorus.

"Judge-Advocate," said Maj. Truax, "when the General approves this
finding, and you communicate it to prisoner, whisper in his ear that if
he ever strains us this way again I'll take it upon myself to break his
fool neck. Let him look a little out."

"The next case I have is that of Serg't Josiah Klegg, implicated in the
same affair," said Lieut. Bowersox.

"Since we have acquitted the principal, it would be foolish to try the
accessory," said Maj. Truax. "Say the same thing to him. Now, let's
get down to business. Bring in that man that skulked when the boys were
going for that abatis. I want to make an example of him, for the good of
the service."





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