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Title: The Army Mule and Other War Sketches
Author: Castle, Henry A.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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        [Illustration: _If he gets loose, he darts through an ambulance





    Private, Sergeant-Major and Captain Illinois Volunteers
    Past Commander Loyal Legion Commandery of Minnesota
    Past Commander Department of Minnesota G. A. R.


    J. W. VAWTER




    Copyright, 1897



      I. THE ARMY MULE                      1

     II. THE SUTLER                        91

    III. THE SHELTER TENT                 140

     IV. DRESS PARADE                     179



    If he gets loose, he darts through an ambulance or climbs a
    tree, without compunction. But he seldom gets loose

    The quenchless, marvelous mule emerges from the mire and clay,
    with a whooping-cough wheeze

    But likeliest from safe shelter of some commodious, commanding
    stump, observing the struggle with a rural Sunday morning

    Blessed is the voluptuousness of reverie, blessed and cheap as
    an expectant clothier's greeting, while he pauses ecstatically
    for an appropriate smile

    No two companies have been drilled alike; no three consecutive
    soldiers perform the same antic at the same time

    The veterans quietly gathered in the voluntary and involuntary
    honors.... One state points with pride to her nine soldier
    governors, and of seven presidents elected since the close of
    the war, six were ex-soldiers

       *       *       *       *       *

    I hail thee Brother--spite of the fool's scorn!
    And fain would take thee with me, in the dell
    Of peace and mild Equality to dwell,
    Where Toil shall call the charmer Health his bride,
    And Laughter tickle Plenty's ribless side!
    How thou wouldst toss thy heels in gamesome play,
    And frisk about, as lamb or kitten gay!
    Yea! and more musically sweet to me
    Thy dissonant harsh bray of joy would be,
    Than warbled melodies that soothe to rest
    The aching of pale Fashion's vacant breast!



The longevity of the Mule is proverbial. He lives on and on, until his
origin becomes a musty myth, and age erects a tumor on his brow which
betokens superb development of spirituality. The endurance of a
hallucination is perhaps greater still. Our civil war closed more than
thirty years ago. The Mules employed in the army are mostly dead--not
so the hallucinations. These still linger, picturesque but fatiguing.
There still survives in every northern town and village at least one
man who habitually asserts, who is willing to verify by affidavit,
worst of all, who steadfastly believes, that he put down the

The Mules are not supposed to have understood the war, and
consequently can not be expected to hold themselves responsible for
its results. But the man of distorted perspective, who measures the
circumference of the universe by the diameter of his own egotism,
shrinks from no exaltation and shirks no responsibility. He is
festooned with self-complacency, wearing always a fourteenth century
smile of content.

Controversy is welcome to him, as the advent of a bloomer woman to a
social purity club. He relishes argument and he loves to boast. He can
readily maintain that his side was eternally right and the other side
infernally wrong in the war, for that fact is beginning to be somewhat
widely accepted. To establish his own feats is somewhat more
difficult, whether he sing like Miriam or howl like Jeremiah in
narrating them. But he will cheerfully spend a week in marching one of
his deeds past a given point, and skeptics soon discover that it is
cheaper to feed him than to fight him. He may be an ex-major-general,
or possibly an ex-teamster. Sometimes he is an ex-corporal, mellow as
those autumnal days when the golden glory of the sassafras vies with
the persimmon's gaudy crimson. Oftenest perhaps he is an ex-captain,
for does not every war evolve the greatest captain of the age as its
ultimate hero? He may now pass for a respectable citizen, with houses
to let and money to burn, who rashly trusts to his imagination when
his memory is out of focus, and lets the bloody chasm go on yawning
for more gore.

More likely, however, he carries his real estate as well as his
religion in his wife's name, fully persuaded that a rolling stone
gathers no moss but grinds exceeding fine, razors and tomahawks
included. In any event he is a mighty talker before the crowd,
bristling with home thrusts that give out a sizzling sound and an odor
of roast owl. He is a Chimborazo of noise with an ant-hill of
achievement to back it; a miracle of linked hallucinations ludicrously
elongated; an extinct incandescent carbon belching black smoke. His
sole claim to mention in connection with the useful, unpretentious
Mule, is the purely accidental circumstance of their simultaneous
military service. He has no other title to consideration in this
important historical episode.

He is not a typical old soldier, and must not be so classified. He is
an exception. When tests are to be applied he can always prove an
alibi. His mouth was put on soft and spread; the flush on his nose was
acquired at a great expenditure of time and money. He comes to the
front in his community, sage of the flannel lip and velvet eye, in
accordance with a known law that not always the ablest men are heard,
but always the ablest to be heard. He comes to the front with the
persistence of a pardoned anarchist, and the flawless joy of a
yearling who has maxed in math.

Meantime it is one of the everlasting verities that in hands of men
"entirely" great, the calligraph is mightier than the bludgeon. Shall
calligraphs stand dumb and the story of days when God shook the nation
until her lakes foamed over their pebbly shores and her rivers
gurgled with bloody ebullition remain unwrit, in fear of probing
blow-holes in the record of some grand snark in the concatenated order
of hoo hoos? Shall posterity be given over to moral mushiness, lest
some village Goliath of Gath, prone to such nightly exhilaration of
spirits as ends in losing the combination of adjacent streets, get
shrunken into shreds of paper-rag, brain-web and vapor?

Historians of the war have minutely narrated its grand events--events
which rising generations are already reproaching themselves for coming
too late to engage in, being relegated to their own nerveless annals
penciled on the segment of a film. Most classes of participants in
these events have been heard from. Either in plain narrative or
wrathful controversy they have ventured an enormous consumption of
time and eternity. Whether their anger be a dynamite shell or a
soap-bubble, its vocalization is uniformly terrific. The generals and
the majors; the teamsters and the staff; even the drafted men and
substitutes, unstable as the heroine who vowed at first that she would
never consent, and then relented--all these have spoken or can speak
for themselves. Majestically muscled around the mouth, staunchly
nerved in the cheek, they need no rhetorical proxy. Since history has
accepted most of their averments, they modestly consider themselves

There are other classes of participants who must be spoken for--their
merits have not yet become the theme of tropical, topical songs. The
speechless toilers of the conflict, half horse, half devil, half
donkey, stand high on the list of those who should not be forgotten.
We may fling flash-lights of inspection all around the black horizon
of war and find no greater faithfulness, not even in Israel.

Under the cadence of march, murmur of camp, clangor of battle and
reverberating pæans of victory, rumbles the ground tone of all war's
harmonies, the deep contra basso of a melodious bray, reminding us
that justice remains yet to be done to the instrument which made
campaigns successful and battles possible. It is an instrument to
which due credit has never been given, yet which is infinitely more
credit-worthy than many of the boasters, "ablest to be heard," who
make the cackle of their villages noxious to mankind.

That instrument is the Army Mule! Let him who hath ears to hear lend
them now to a belated attempt at vindication. Let the man of prejudice
disinfect his mind and listen. It is naught, saith the buyer, then
goeth his way and boasteth; but an _ad valorem_ tax on dudes has never
been made to yield any revenue.

The name of the original inventor of the Mule is lost in the
immemorial mists. Although, as hereinbefore intimated, his longevity
is a chestnut as old as the Morse alphabet, or older, his nativity is
still a conundrum. No Mule's teeth, with or without gold filling,
glisten among shells of the pliocene period. No Mule elevates his
afterdeck in the granitic formations. None of his petrified footprints
are discernible in those anteglacial basins where Afric's sunny
fountains now sprinkle her shirtless swarms. Hence, although he
possibly antedates all living apostles of lady suffrage, he is
presumably not a pre-Adamite. Perhaps his first discoverer was "that
Anah" who, to his astonishment, "found Mules in the wilderness," where
donkeys had been browsing, etc. See Genesis xxxvi, 24. It is not
permissible to go behind the returns. What we know is that he was
introduced to the American people by anticipation, that is to say,
through his paternal ancestor, by G. Washington, Esq., of Mount Vernon
in Virginia.

Much sarcasm, variegated as Paris green jealousy and red precipitate
wrath could dye it, has been expended on this delicate matter of the
Mule's paternal ancestry. Among other spiteful things it has been
averred that like certain party organizations he has no more ground
for pride of descent than he has for hope of posterity. Let us
promptly concede the validity of the averment. Argue not with one
steeped in kerosene and other fire-waters; matters look ominous when a
disputant opens the discussion with foam on his teeth and noises in
his nostril. Fill blanks as to name of party by majority vote of those
present, and let the proceedings proceed.

It is doubtless true that the speechless, unspeakable Mule, seldom
troubles himself about his heirs, executors or administrators. Why
should he? He is a monstrosity, physical and metaphysical; the _ne
plus ultra_, the "nothing beyond" of his species. Besides, he has
little of value to bequeath; he is a disinherited prodigal, with
champagne tastes and a root beer revenue, digesting his diet of wild
oats; his assets would scarcely overbalance those of a disbanded Uncle
Tom troupe--one blood hound, one death-bed, and two cakes of imitation
ice. Moreover, truth to tell, he is probably in no special haste to
die. This amiable weakness is shared by certain of our own race.

A hypercritical Boston lady, mistress of the mysteries of nine idioms
and five kinds of angel cake, was heard to declare that she would
rather not die at all than be buried anywhere outside Mount Auburn.

The speechless, discredited Mule, born old, wise and fuzzy, has
little to thank his paternal ancestors for, save phenomenal ears that
not even a lion's skin can hide, as witness Æsop, and a phenomenal
voice that no lion's roar can drown. Both these heritages were
preordained for grand service in an epoch when war should gnash loud
her iron fangs, and shake her crest of bristling bayonets. Vouchsafe
unto the male line gratitude for little else. But as for the female
line, who knows? Possibly it runs back to "Araby the blest," where
horse pedigrees are cherished like a Connecticut coffee pot, until
they fade into genealogical perspectives. Such perspectives, for
example, as make the fine art of heraldic blazonry, frescoing and
retouching precious to the British nobility--some of whom, by the way,
have much less cause than the nameless, unblamable Mule, to canonize
the low-neck and short-sleeve branch of their lineage.

Although we do not know precisely who invented the Mule, it must be
obvious that he is not a historical tenderfoot. He is not a mere
ephemeral product of the county fair season, when alleged acrobats
with leaky balloons monopolize the casualty columns. Neither is he one
of those picturesque gubernatorial giraffes of the populist era, who
come unwanted and go unwept.

Notwithstanding the fact that he is necessarily renewed with each
generation, he belongs to an old family--one, in fact, fairly rancid
with antiquity. He was the unconsidered drudge of the hoariest
ancients, in those days when the average human heart could be readily
split up for floor tiles. He had been promoted thence to the rank of
mail carrier as long ago as when Mordecai the Jew "sent letters by
riders on Mules" from Babylon, after the king had turned the rascals
out with a promptness that compelled the admiration of every taxpayer.

He was bestridden by sprigs of royalty as long ago as when Absolom the
lengthy-locked rode under the boughs of a great oak, wherein his hair
became entangled, "and the Mule that was under him went away,"--thus
sayeth the Scriptures! Unspeakable Mule, fraught with immeasurable
destinies! Had he stood until great David's shear-bearers could come
up and cut loose the best-beloved, the whole current of Israel's
history might have changed, saving vast research to the modern
sensational divine working a heresy advertisement for all there is in
it. Solomon, next-beloved, might never have reigned; his superfluous
seven hundred wives and his indispensable three hundred concubines,
with their lissome, lightsome round of free hand riots, internal and
interminable, might never have been accumulated; neither seen the
sparkle of his three thousand proverbs, nor heard the ripple of his
songs a thousand and five.

It is thus manifest that although this interesting hybrid is virtually
an afterthought, he is not one of those later-day improvements in a
chronic state of apology. This is authentic. It is also reassuring to
such typical, representative citizens weighing three hundred pounds
each as still have misgivings. Had the speechless unspeakable Mule
been simply an unperfected modern invention in the rough, his hair not
yet dry, his effectiveness and hope of glory would have been greatly
lessened. The surviving boasters "ablest to be heard" now on grassy
village streets, with two million major-generals, colonels, first
sergeants and other soldiers, might never have been able to suppress
the most causeless and wicked rebellion ever waged by an army of
barefooted chevaliers, fed on corn meal, sporadic acid and gunpowder,
always in light marching order. N. B. They were always in hard
fighting order likewise, since by an eternal law increment of bile is
superinduced by shrinkage of commissariat.

Almost any mediocre can compile a mass of information from the
cyclopedia. Even the vague enthusiast who goes through the world
wearing an air of crushed strawberry resignation on his face and
shaking hands with one finger can do that. But it is not the
desideratum in a matter of this sort.

People prefer to see things step out with stereoscopic rotundity. Like
the juvenile Lochinvar, they stay not for stone and stop not for air
brakes. They demand the decentralization of apothegms. They desire
sculpture from a chisel that, ignoring down and dimple, cuts thought
and carves breath from the marble, without risk of challenge for
implied bias. In the absence of stone-cutters, let a cyclopedia
furnish from its cold-storage vaults some preliminary fundamentals. If
they be plain, ascertainable, intelligible statements of fact, clothed
in tights as it were, devoid of frills and amplifications, so much the
better--and briefer! I quote:

"The Mule seems to excel both its ancestral species in natural
intelligence. It is remarkable for its powers of muscular endurance.
Its sure-footedness particularly adapts it to mountainous countries.
It has been common from very ancient times in many parts of the East,
and is much used, also, in most of the countries around the
Mediterranean Sea, and in the mountainous parts of South America.
Great care is bestowed on the breeding of Mules in Spain and Italy,
and those of particular districts are highly esteemed. In ancient
times the sons of kings rode on Mules, and they were yoked in
chariots. They are still used to draw the carriages of Italian
cardinals and other ecclesiastical dignitaries."

And more to the same effect.

We respectfully submit that here is a well-buttressed certificate of
character which fully justified the government in assigning to this
useful equine mulatto the important function he performed in putting
down the rebellion.

The average American Mule has not the soft fur, fine as dressed
seal-skin and smooth as coffin varnish, nor the rich shades of
coloring, worn by his pampered kinfolk of Spain or Cyprus or Smyrna.
As to skin, he was, habitually, neither soft nor shining, he was
simply tough. As to color, his muzzle was always whitish, as if fresh
from a meal-tub, but otherwise he was more various than delectable,
sometimes yellow, sometimes dun, sometimes sorrel, but oftenest
darkly, deeply, beautifully bay. Second cousin to the New Mexican
burro, but happily guiltless of any traceable relationship to the
disreputable Texas mustang, his aspect was liable to be as one-sided
as a Louisiana riot--seventeen negroes killed and one white man
slightly wounded.

But texture and color apart, the harmless, unspeakable servitor of our
march and camp was doubtless peer of any the effete monarchies of
Europe or the East can boast. He had no overplus of style about him,
but he was reliable, he was sincere, his muscularity was conceded by
all. His facial angle was a convex curve, which somewhat impaired his
beauty, but not his utility. Some knew him who did not love him; few
named him except to praise after a reasonable acquaintance. His air of
innocent gravity was sometimes mistaken for stupidity--most
inexcusable and fatal error! He could look as imbecile as a rustic fop
playing "Glory Hallelujah" on an accordeon. He could look as guileless
as the youth who murdered his own father and mother and then begged
the judge to have mercy on a poor orphan. He could look as soulful as
a law clerk summing up to a jury of one with his arm around it. He
could look as sober as though his whole intellect were grinding on the
plus and minus of some unsolved problem, like that for example which
the Book of Mormon and Mohammed's Koran and Clark's Commentaries, with
all their attention to detail, have neglected, whether Aaron's golden
calf was a Holstein or a Jersey.

Sleepy or asleep he may have seemed, but let some small darkey imp of
mischief tweak his patient ear, then note how swiftly that magnetic
hoof will lift the tweaker to a pearly seat amidst the celestial
cherubim--direct and speedy circuit of nerve-telephone here manifest,
without the intervention of any dilatory central office. His drooping
lids were thus but the token of a measureless content, which craved
not the mere bric-a-brac and gumdrops of existence. But it was liable
to shift its specific gravity, if any misfit perfume came between the
wind and his nobility, and explode in a sudden touch-and-go style,
rocket-like, trigger-like, flashing.

He could smile like a heavenly blessing. His expressive yawn was
widely eminent; without it no Mule was genuine. His bray, opening
clear and sonorous, like the report of a judiciary committee, rapidly
shaded off into a succession of disembodied shrieks and disemboweled
groans, that sent thrills of suicidal delirium through all the
encircling camps. No further seek his general merits to disclose. They
developed constantly on the sensitive plate of our regard, and we have
waited long for somebody to take off a blue-print of his ground plan
and front elevation. The possessor of many virtues, poor but honest,
with a large circulation but small political influence, sagacious and
serene he stood, thick of head, tough of hide, hard of heel, the
proffered hero of the expressive army shibboleth, "Here's your Mule."

The plutonic, speechless quadruped, Mule, like the platonic
featherless biped, man, after being inspected on the hoof, was obliged
to graduate through the three military degrees of Recruit, Soldier and

We all remember those recruiting days; those first companies of picked
men, mostly picked before they were ripe; when the fray was curtained
behind song and hurrah, the cataract obscured by the rainbow. Who can
forget the wrathful buzz and ferment, the wild tossing and writhing
and moaning of an aroused people; the fierce uprising; the keen
razor-edge of fervor. Then the enrolling and drilling and marching and
evoluting in the moonlit squares and streets; the nocturnal
visitations, with fife and drum, to the verandas of oratorical
patriots for a "night-cap" of glowing speech, alternated with raids on
suspected disloyalists to demand the prompt uphoisting of the star
spangled banner. Saxon and Norman and Dane were we, or Celt or Teuton
in birth or descent, but all of us then crystallized in the alembic of
patriotism into the first generation of unadulterated Americans.

To the blasphemous challenge of secession, our young men, fully
advised of the exceeding preciousness of life and yet thoroughly
instructed how to dare and die, hurled back deathless daring and
defiance. Their eyes, fixed on their idealized leaders, shining like
white statues amid the black wreckage of rebellion, they marched into
the flaming vortex with new, strange implements in their hands and
"hot unutterabilities in their hearts."

These were the boys of '61, the raw recruits of the dawning conflict.
With them went the memory of the girls they left behind them, many of
whom were afterwards lost in the shuffle. But the memory, then
infinitely sweet, was hourly refreshed by a contemplation of the
tangible Testament and pin-cushion. With them went the toe-ache of
tight boots, earthly, sensual, devilish, and a flushed consciousness,
even when drilling in the awkward squad, that the eyes of the universe
were upon them. With them also, or following them, or mayhap meeting
them in the dreamy borderland of Kentucky or Missouri to which he is
fortuitously indigenous, went the harmless, necessary Mule.

He was a child of wrath, with a throat for melody spacious as the
funnel of a cyclone; with dexter and sinister ears of renown; with
eyes foxy but sad, and saddest when he sang. He carried with him the
appetite of a Chippewa maiden clad in cavalry trowsers and a tentfly;
also an inherited capacity to stand indefinitely on one foot and kick
vehemently with all the others. He was reliable as grandfather's clock
and prompt as the railway mail service. He was under a recognizance to
support the constitution of the United States, and stamp out the
Confederacy to the best of his ability.

He was a raw recruit likewise. When men were beating the wrong way
their plowshares into swords, he was out of a job on a dull labor
market and could the better be spared. How much of the issues and
principles at stake his comprehensive intelligence intelligently
comprehended will perhaps never be known. He did not attend crowded
war meetings in country school-houses and waste his rhetoric on the
fetid air. It may fairly be surmised, however, that he knew better
than any northern croaker the futility of trying to repossess our
surrendered fortresses with writs of replevin; knew better than any
southern fire-eater the folly of attempting to build up a republic
with a live negro wriggling under the corner-stone; knew and would
gladly have proclaimed, that no lapse of slip-shod years, no
hoariness of unchallenged usage, no deftest hammerings of forensic
sophistry can ever fashion a vested right out of a ragged wrong.

At all events, whether wittingly or willingly or neither, he became as
potent a factor in the situation militant as when Samson slew a
thousand Philistines with the jawbone of one of his remote ancestors.
He wheeled into line useful, ubiquitous, proud as a deceased
Connemarran with a solid silver door-plate on his pearl-plush casket,
blazoning his immortal virtues--also quite numerous. A total of
450,000 mules and 650,000 horses served in the various armies. In
1864, the forces actually in the field required for artillery, cavalry
and trains one-half as many animals as there were soldiers.

As a recruit, the Mule soon became an object of usurious rates of
interest and concentrated curiosity. He was a drawing card, a
veritable bargain counter or church scandal in his tractile powers.
His fame had preceded him, and his name was a potent talisman for
conjuring ecstatic assemblages. His name pronounced, the sensation
seekers gathered, as in the manipulation of complicated governmental
machinery congress touches the button, and the department clerks do
the rest, subject to approval of the salary and allowance division.
Haled in, unhaltered, from amid the frisking bluegrass felicities of
his pasture primeval, with his tail full of burs and his gaze full of
vinegar, the details of his primary instruction were, as a rule, full
of activity and enthusiasm.

In mischievous impulse he is fertile as those human scalps which raise
hair enough for home consumption, and send a surplus to market twice a
year. His venturesome instructors are wise if they make their
testamentary dispositions in advance, and provide abundant bandages
and plasters, with blank coupons or certified checks attached to
provide for extra dividends. One out-thrust of his right front foot
has been known to reduce a newly uniformed soldier to a state of
nudity from his napless crown to his callous sole, with incidental
contusions of flesh and abrasions of cuticle too hideous for

Enmeshed in surreptitious cordage, the speechless, untamed quadruped
is thrown to the cold, cold ground, where, for a time, he writhes and
struggles, a _cheveaux-de-frise_ of black, gyrating hoofs. If he gets
loose, he darts through an ambulance or climbs a tree without
compunction. But he seldom gets loose. When his first wild anger has
been measurably spent and the mercury in him has gone down to the
bulb, five or six bow-legged hirelings of the quartermaster's bureau,
with waffle-iron cast of countenance born of small-pox, simultaneously
proceed to administer disjointed sections of harness to the exterior
of that noble form.

Puck might girdle the earth for forty cents, but he could earn forty
dollars in girthing a cadet Mule. With each contact of strap or buckle
the white of his eye gleams poisonously and his outraged epidermis
gives a sudden convulsive shudder, like a fine lady's bare shoulder
vitalized by a mosquito-bite. But he is helpless and supine as a fat
alderman after a banquet, lying stomach upwards and feebly
gesticulating with his heels. With the final linking together of the
detached tackle into one engirdling gearage, the first step in his
humiliation is completed, and the pantings of his suppressed fury
mingle with the chokings of his self-contempt. From that hour he is a
changed Mule. Man delights him not, nor small boys either. Straps
leave invisible, indelible marks of servitude, as a blow from a parent
leaves a scar on the soul of the child. Harnessed and humiliated,
abased and abashed, the higher regions of pride and independence
wherein he has pranced with all the lofty grace of a thoroughbred,
know him no more forever. Mirabeau had swallowed all formulas. The
Mule recruit has swallowed all traditions, foretaste of much else,
good and bad, he will be obliged to swallow,--but the bridle-bit, of
all fabricated things, alas! he can not swallow.

In this clinging, clanking harness-toggery cribbed and confined, he is
led out to where five shamefaced fellow-martyrs wait to endure with
him the culminating indignity. The Mule units are now to be transmuted
into a Mule team, for the glory of Yankee Doodle, and an entirely
novel programme of acrobatic marvels is to be enacted.

No sooner have the predestined six been, with infinite patience and
circumspection, aligned and coupled and to the monstrous vehicle
deftly attached, than down they all go in a heap, a rolling, plunging
mass of offensive partisanship, in one dusty burial blent. Entangled,
prostrate, writhing like a coil of rattlesnakes; each eager nose, and
active heel, and tufted tail, points all ways at once, like a
mariner's needle in a thunder-storm. In this tumbling, tearing glomer
a philosopher might presciently discern the symbol and essence of
anarchy, the spirit of centrifugality, the revolt against _status
quo_, the protest of energetic natures against human government, or
self-government, or any other government.

It may confidently be averred that from all vital chaos a new lathed
and plastered order is ever shaping itself and emerging; this is as
certain as that everybody is greater than anybody, and that discipline
is always brought forth by a Cæsarian operation from anarchy. So from
this sour animal effervescence of insurrection miraculously unravels
at last, scathless and satisfied, a melancholy sextette of curbed and
baffled penitents. They are awkward, divergent, unassimilated, to
begin with, and must be pounded and kicked and cursed into homogeneity
later on, but they are uproariously recalcitrant thenceforth never

The Mule recruit has thus rapidly developed into the Mule soldier. He
has been summarily mustered in, with a rope around his lower lip
rasping it to rawness, but without any very searching inquiries as to
his uncertain age, his wholly immaterial sex, his superfluous name, or
his complicated social status.

He has been blacksmithed as to hoof (much against his will), and
veterinaried as to shoulder. He must now march forth in the name of
the Union and emancipation, but must first be introduced to his
commander--and so must you, my beloved. Ye who have blushes to blush
for your species, prepare to blush them now, and then proceed to bury
Cæsar, not to praise him.

The army teamster may be safely diagnosed as a chronic malady of war
times. With such rare and radiant exceptions as the immortal nominee
of the Seattle caucus, who carried a hare-lip and a pure heart, he was
a pestilent metaplasm. He was a product of heterogeneous aggregation
and the survival of misfits. His status was fixed in earliest infancy;
when he was vaccinated, the doctor is suspected of having thrown away
the child and saved the virus capsule. He professed no patriotism; he
pretended to no bravery; he cherished no martial ambitions. He had no
desire to fight. There was no need of an order to show cause why a
temporary injunction should not issue restraining him from carnage.

When his slim sweetheart, the dove-eyed, flat-chested maiden at Onion
creek, a stuttering siren to be courted only on the installment plan,
sent him to the field, it was with full assurance that he was not lost
to her forever--not he! The corn-fed, lank Delilah shrewdly guessed
that her prudent wooer would listen to battle's dissonant thunders
from posts of distant security, and come back unshot, unsabred, but
covered with vicarious glory, which he did. Heaven is merciful to the
idiotic and kind to the cautious. His previous occupations had varied
from cord-wood carpentry to slaughter-house surgery, and he had always
been disposed to shed perspiration with extreme diffidence. He was
mostly red-headed. He had been addicted to excess of raw spirits,
tobacco and other abominations--loving these, his enemies, with a
fine, magnanimous, scriptural, discrimination. He may be relied on to
fill a drunkard's grave some day, probably without even asking the
drunkard's permission; such are his knavish proclivities. His eye was
aglare with hate, every glance a stab. His occasional smile ran
through all the gamut of grins, from the smirk of conceit to the
simper of toadyism. He had a torpid liver and was no trustee of
beauty. His physical development was surprising; even an Englishman
never saw anything equal to it--outside of England. He was strong as
the Kansas zephyr that carried an anvil ten miles and came back next
morning after the hammer. Freckles were his trade-mark and profanity
was the staunch, infallible test of his identity. Huge quadrilateral
oaths, shingled with brimstone and fringed with fire, were the soft
relaxations of his happier hours. Blue, blistering maledictions,
flecked with white foam, marked the approach of his paroxysmal
frenzies, and no postponement on account of the weather.

Cruelty uncloaked and unleavened, lumpy and rocky, was the energizing
motor of his existence. Before he gets three strides into his gait,
his antiphlogistic treatment always insures a dispersion of the Mule's
vitality into the extremeties--hence those kicks. His vocabulary was a
slimy ooze of the gutter, with its wailing stench. His breath was the
whiff of loose-corked, all-night gin shops, stale and stifling. His
typical caress to the Mule was a blow on the bone of the nose with a
neck yoke that settled the animal on his haunches. With a heart false
as a weather bulletin, more selfish than a petroleum trust, and colder
than a funeral with plenty of money and no God in it, his advent
might readily portend that direful apocalyptic sequence: Death on the
pale horse and hell not far behind. He was generally hare-lipped.

To the tender mercies of this losel vile were committed by the decrees
of inscrutable fate the career and destiny of the speechless,
undecipherable Mule, who was often simultaneously off his feed and on
to his driver. He may have been an unattractive, non-magnetic
quadruped, a ragged hammerhead, with a wall eye and an amputated ear;
with yellow, irregular teeth and a surplus of lip. But his redeeming
features were sure to be disclosed in the end. The current acceptation
of the normal order of things in civil life was no criterion here;
there would be scant toleration for the methodical youth who indorsed
his sweetheart's first love-letter "Exhibit A."

Ordinarily, when man, a little lower than the angels, bestrides a Mule
unquestionably possessed of the devil, he starts on a basalt road to
perdition, safe to arrive. Swift as a commuter's kiss at the ferry
gang-plank might be expected the direful finale. But in this zigzag of
military contradictions things are reversed. The man and the beast
have changed places. The semi-seraph and brevet horse have been
subjected to a mysterious transformation of functions, and gravitation
working t'other way lifts things skyward, as it were. The man sinks;
the animal soars--thrusting his jaw out sidewise in a satisfied yawn,
secure in the serenity of his asininity.

By sin pneumonia came into the world, and the docile aboriginal, with
dilapidated undergarments, or none, became a shining mark. The honest,
intelligent Mule restores an equilibrium of virtue lost through his
depraved and dissolute driver. The virtues of the Mule atone for the
vices of the man. He raises the average of merit and sum total of
achievement, so that credit for their joint share in the grand
climacteric will be as enduring as the solemn temples, the great globe

Man approximated to the Mule ideal of gentility when he began to
suspect that the entire system of army team discipline rested on a
false basis. But that suspicion had not dawned at the close of the war
for the suppression of the rebellion--if, indeed, it has yet dawned.
The platform of the Mule millennial: Six quarts of oats at a feed; a
blanket; two curry-combs of assorted fineness; no spurs; no whip; no
cursing--this was a dim vision of futurity; alluring but delusive as
the seductive rustle of grain in a tin pan, with the ensnaring halter
deftly hidden.

Fortunately for the Mule his epidermis was thick and tough, a
non-conductor of pain, as it were; fortunately for his flagitious
tormentor, likewise for other glowing lights of genus human, he was
speechless. If the Mule could talk! What new aspects would be given to
war-memoirs; what side-gleams would be thrown on historic events; what
showers and floods of reinforcement would be added to the gurgling,
vasty streams of patriotic reminiscence. He had his opinions on the
conduct of the war, and on the character of the warriors, also the
teamsters; but those opinions remain unrecorded and to all intents and
purposes unexpressed. He reserved them, which would be deliciously
sweet of him, don't you know, if it had not been involuntary and

Out in Oregon, apples grow to the diameter of Daniel Webster's skull,
though with diluted flavor and contradictory aromas, it is claimed;
but the inefficiently tutored Shoshone nevertheless affects his
_dejeuner_ of decayed salmon whose aroma is indisputable and widely
permeative. Arizona, latitude some hundreds of feet below the sea
level, offers a splendid climate in exceptionally large quantities,
where the insidious and terrible tubercle is unknown; but some of her
citizens are accused of entertaining loose opinions as to the strict
enforcement of law, and low, coarse views of the editorial function.

At Spuyten-Duyvel-on-Hudson, the local four hundred, exploiting the
astrakhan hair and chinchilla whiskers inherited from a fused Iroquois
and Rotterdam ancestry, can only be coaxed into activity by an
elaborate expenditure of stimulants; then, however, they will very
cheerfully pump you full of sententious legendary lore while you wait.
In Rhode Island, walk under the mistletoe with a young lady and
tradition will do the rest. In Chicago, hand an attractive widow out
of a cable car, and gossips will supply all necessary additional
ingredients for a five-column sensation. Thus every locality has its
advantages and its drawbacks, its vexations and its compensations. By
parallel lines of illustration it may be demonstrated that what the
Mule lacks in volubility he fully makes up in sagaciousness.

The capacity of this observant, discriminating animal to sit in
judgment on the character of his stridulous driver can scarcely be
subject to reasonable question. The judicial cast of intellect is so
universally associated with solemnity of visage that the terms become
substantially interconvertible, like the principles of a polished
politician. When the Army Mule lowers his head and lifts his eyebrows
and searches profoundly through his stable litter with his
deliberative hoof, the rich trolley-line tenor of his tuneful
meditations were worth a royal largess to read, assimilate and store
away for reference.

The animated dialogue between a truckman and a cab driver in a New
York street blockade is said to embody linguistic traits and miracles
of lexicography peculiar to the atmosphere of that latitude. The
murmurings of a town that is stricken with paralysis at the first
intimations of a whisky famine, are marvelously intense and realistic.
But the Army Mule's honest and unbiased opinion as to the true
character of the army teamster, translated from his equi-asinine
vernacular, and rendered into the anglo-effervescent jargon of the
bivouac, would rattle like a regimental long-roll and yield aroma
rivaling the effluvium of a lime-kiln. His reprobate tormentor, with
no perceptible circulation of blood above the ears, presents
multiplied testimonials of having long been habitually fed on
aqua-fortis, hell-broth and ratsbane. Yet he reveals a cruel coldness
that would freeze the milk in a mother's wasted breast or the marrow
in her infant's fleshless bones. Hideous as is his chimpanzee
conformation of countenance inherited from root-eating ancestors, it
only indexes his whole physical structure--a sour aggregation of
compost, vitalized by a fetid protoplasm. Within his Nova Zembla skull
the pulpy and mysterious growth called brain lies fusty and fumid,
steeped in the vapidity of its own purulence.

Offspring of the exiled offal and offscourings of civilization, he
grew up in the back settlements untaught, untrained, unkempt,
unchristened--not even vaccinated or manicured; and the
unwholesomeness of his exhalations vie with the complexities of his
vocabulary. The bath-room knows him never, nor tooth-brush ever. To
night-shirt, napkin, finger-bowl and fine stationery he is as utterly
alien as the remotest autocrat of Congo's jungles. The Indian has now
become about as bad as the white man can make him. But it is the firm
opinion of the Army Mule that there are lower depths. Somewhere
between the Indian's level and that bottomless perdition, where the
arches of Tophet redden in the glow of its quenchless flame, there is
a midway plaisance tableland, reserved transcendent in its horrors for
the ruminating promenades of the teamster terrific. Somewhat lower
than the Indian; a little higher than satan and his imps--not
much--there is the plane of character assigned with ghoulish gladness
to the hare-lipped caliph of the wagon train, by one best fitted,
through intimate, hourly association, to measure his moral girth and
estimate his mental altitude. There let him roam and range. In years
triumphant of the war era, now fast vanishing into the vague and misty
past, he had his jubilant day. This bog-spawn of humanity, with his
ashes-of-marigold face and his unthatched upper teeth, with his
three-cornered hot temper that scorned life's amenities; this slouchy
man with moist nostrils and an affliction in his left hip, who at one
time hoped to sometime shine as chambermaid to a livery stable but
failed, has run his course.

What a child is taught in the abstract he is liable to practice in the
concrete, as his subjectivity develops into objectivity, his sentiment
into devilment. The Mule driver's unamiable childhood was punctuated
with copious threats that the goblins of desperation would get him if
he didn't watch out. The events of his pseudo war experience fully
verified this dreadful prophecy's prophetic inspiration. The goblins
got him and energized him, until his fury often bade fair to shred the
Mule into his by-products of kip-leather, trousers buttons and

Under such inauspicious guidance and control, the army Mule, luckily
pachydermatous, proceeds to the theater of his sanguinary exploits.
The rich girl is often in danger of falsifying her accounts by
crediting to her personality the charms of her cash. But the cashless,
unsusceptible Mule stands in no peril of such baleful self-deception.
Lowest in rank of created beings assigned a part in the drama, fame
held to him no prismatic rewards for excess of zeal.

He was not built for a general range of cynosure business; homeliness
was his heritage from the day he was foaled. He was unpoetic as a miss
receiving her beau in the parlor with her two younger brothers sitting
in the seat of the scornful hard by. He was unartistic as a Montana
hurricane kite--an iron shutter with a tail made of log-chains. He
was unsymmetric as a court dwarf with scythe-snath spine and a dome on
his shoulder. Hence for the splendid immortality of sculpture he was
ludicrously inapt. And if painting deigned to give him grudged space
it was ever in the burlesque of cartoonage or the dim littleness of

His lucky half-brother, the showy, exaggerated horse, in all classes,
from the pampered ex-trotter with his slim neck and his record, to the
bloated muldoon of the belt-line, jaded but defiant, was an easy
victor in the suit Neigh _versus_ Bray. To him might come sweet
visions of promotion in the life that is and artistic apotheosis in a
glad hereafter. But to the speechless, unapproachable Mule, with
periodical reactions in the hind leg, and hight merely "nigh" or "off"
in the vernacular, promotion never came. Cogitating to himself with
soulful grunts, he could only talk through his head-stall.

Even the sutler's horse, intoed, sway-backed and wheezy, who had
habitually worn a ragged calfskin over his rump as he stood on frosty
nights before the war, tied to a rail fence while his owner talked
politics in the village grocery, claimed superiority. The picturesque
talisman U. S. upon his shoulder was the only badge of honor permitted
to the Army Mule, save when the whip-lash had cut out a slice of his
skin as a souvenir. But even this significant lettering was often so
inexpertly executed as to serve no decorative purpose whatever. It was
infinitely less effective than a bran mash to poultice his internal
pains, or a roached mane to command external admiration. With one foot
over the trace and both eyes blinking, the last state of that Mule was
worse than the first. To him all alleged or attempted adornments were
superfluous and unsatisfying.

Here then was the sine of an arc which did not recognize equality in
the cosine of its supplement. The sorriest horse, though just released
from the duty of transporting miscellaneous triturations of real
estate in a dumpcart, with his alimentary system painfully void of
toothsome internal decoration, outranked the smoothest, softest Mule,
whether young or aged, black or sorrel, dun or gray. Nevertheless the
explanation of the fact that a rat-tailed cat-hammed Mule weighing
five hundred and thirty pounds, saw-backed, sharktoothed, and knobby
with protruding bones from throat-latch to crupper, could draw heavier
loads than a round robust Norman-Percheron horse weighing a ton,
remains to this day unknown, unguessable. Invidious comparison is
gross violation of consanguinity equal to marrying one's widow's
sister. The checked, banged and bitted high steppers of Fairmount
park, dear to the heart of placid quakers because their nerves can
endure the strain of "Curfew Shall Not Toll Tonight," or equivalent
atrocities, will not be involved therein; their pinked tennis-tan
harness, silver trimmed, with monograms at the joints and red stitches
in the tug, constitute a perpetual, effectual bar. There was one glory
of horse and another glory of mule, but no mule differed from another
mule in glory, by any palpable percentage. They had little regard for
the affinity of a somewhat common maternity. But whether rearing,
plunging, kicking, rolling in the mire or pawing at the clouds, they
were all equal. They met upon the level and parted on the square.

The war-horse of the late unpleasantness has been chiseled and painted
in many attitudes--especially that of unsupported suspension in the
atmosphere, with extended nose and carefully adjusted legs. Sheridan's
horse, propelled down the wild, disheveled turnpike by "a terrible
oath" at the rate of five (5) miles per stanza, hangs to the canvas in
a posture unnatural as that of some artillery steed swung by the
breeching from a tree after a caisson explosion. The war-horse has
been sufficiently pictured and carved. But he still lacks his literary
limner. Almost the sole description of him now accessible is that left
by the versatile Orpheus C. Kerr. There is embodied an analysis of
that celebrated Gothic steed presented to this Orpheus by his maiden
aunt and endeared to the saline affections of the mackerel brigade by
several amiable idiosyncrasies. Of whom it is written:

"The beast is fourteen hands high, fourteen hands long, and his
sagacious head is shaped like an old-fashioned pickax. Viewed from
the rear his style of architecture is Gothic, and has a gable end to
which his tail is attached. His eyes are two pearls set in mahogany,
and before he lost his sight were said to be brilliant." And more to
the same effect, intimating a diet of shoe pegs for oats and saw-dust
for millstuffs, save in the rare occasions when he could set his
inflexible teeth into a hay bale with unadulterated joy.

Now, shall such of our children's children as through poverty or other
crime may be debarred admission to war cycloramas be condemned to
surfeit their hunger for knowledge as to the conflict's equestrian
features with job lots of descriptive pinxit like this? Is the war
charger to be cut off thus with no extra allowance for training or
pedigree? Are nice distinctions of gait, between the singlefoot trot
and the rack, which are manifestly matters of original brain power and
painful culture, modified of course by heredity, to be studiously
ignored? In short, is the horse to be thus dismissed into obliquity,
so to speak? If so, what conclusions will posterity deduce as to the
anatomical development of the speechless inferior Mule? If an animal
of fair social position and tenacious of his rank is to be thus
lightly disposed of, what can we claim for one of no rank whatever,
with only the snap of his teeth and the whisk of his tail to attract
attention? The case is critical.

When the kicker in politics dies he stays dead a long time; when an
opportunity passes it may never recur. Opportunities for writing
correct history are slipping by month after month, year after year.
The aged, surviving Mule gets nervous as in the teething period of his
suffering colthood, while our expert historians move off toward the
horizon, clothed in linen ulsters and vain regrets. We have essays
galore on the immorality of trotting and the iniquity of pools. We
have treatises enough on overhead check reins and the cruelty of the
cable slot. But this is a condition, not a theory, which now
reproaches us. Soon it will be too late. If the agitation started here
shall finally result in loosening some corset strings of prejudice and
fixing the neglected, necessary Mule in his true orbit, all will be
well. The opportunities of a grateful country for upholstering his
stomach with the finest and greenest her pastures proffer, will soon
be gone forever. If we can now succeed in calculating his right
ascension and declination, and stamping him on the chart indelibly, we
may pass from recreation to refreshment in full assurance of a duty
well performed.

Then let us agitate! The winner of the sinful and expensive Derby must
not forever flaunt his exclusive title to consideration. The piebald
circus favorite shall no longer monopolize the fondness of our rising
youth. The praiseworthy Mule, hot and foamy perhaps, stung with
gad-flies, thirsty, dusty and cross, but patriotic and persevering
amid all, shall have his long delayed due.

The soldier Mule is in harness, fated to accomplish marvels in the
sweet ultimate, if his longevity holds out; his neo-pagan steersman,
with hare-lip, a hepatized conscience, a peroxide complexion and a
solitaire front tooth cut bias, is in the saddle; all being thus in
readiness the war can now begin. If the speechless miserable Mule
shall unfortunately escape sorosis of the heart, hermitage of the
lungs, and percolation by germicide decoctions, so as to live long
enough, he will become a veteran. But that is anticipation. The near,
dear day will arrive soon enough--alas!

Harnessed and mounted, cursed, cudgeled and spurred he starts on his
weary pilgrimage. His emotions are more complex and profound than
those with which a young woman receives her first information that
there are spring styles in trousers as well as in gowns. For him no
primrose paths of dalliance open beckoning; they fade incoherently
into the dim bedraggled, with no stretch of white satin ribbons to
restrain feminine curiosity.

He travels from Ohio to the gulf, but not in a palace car nor on a
deadhead ticket. Far otherwise. He goes out for an extended starring
tour in the provinces and assists in presenting a magnificent drama,
but only evokes volleys of powerful and prolonged hisses from the guys
of the gallery. He brings up the rear of the most gigantic and
jubilant salvation army since salvation was revealed, but he is not
conceited. He is full of suppressed merit as an egg is of omelet, yet
bashful as the kerchiefless caller who toys with the doily in nervous
embarrassment while the seconds swell into centuries. He officiates in
the conveyance of breadstuffs, otherwise hard-tack, mouldy and
fungous, left over from the Mexican war, and fit only for slumgullion;
of meats with the odor of a sewer-gas eruption; of black molasses, a
sulphuret of glucose, sour as the tartrate of acrimony.

Also desiccated sundries obsolete as a rutabaga turnip, class of '56,
or a weather guess from an anti-bilious almanac for '49, or the
lottery wheel of a fair fakir in the early thirties. Likewise
commissary whisky, vintage of lye, lime and fusel; decanted of all
disgusts; confected for the scum of slums. But none of these have
terror or temptation for him; he knoweth his master's feed box. A
brave, bright, meritorious Mule is he, with a spring in his heel and
healing in his springs.

He blots himself out of the green landscape of his youth, the
asphodel meadows of peace that lie athwart the rustic tavern with its
soft soap, communistic towel and brown sugar. He marches on, marshaled
in double column closed in mass, to slaughters that will all the
multitudinous creeks incarnadine, and fears not. He steps forth with
countenance severe as that of the sterilized milk speculator whose
investment has soured, but heart warm as the modest, efficacious
fritter, dear to the breakfast relish of Hoosier schoolboys when the
frost is on the melon and the fodder's in the stalk. He starts out in
the morning eager as if something of great value were hanging just in
front of him, with a town supervisor reaching for it and a creditor's
meeting in the annex; he trudges along all day with the testy and
sub-acid humor of a Pullman conductor, softened by a thousand
patriotic reflections; he comes in at night on right by file into
line, crisp and beautiful as a sarsaparilla lithograph.

Toil has no fears; he does not care a cigarette for it. After the long
day's exertion, with no nutriment but raw fog for breakfast and
roasted south wind for dinner, with no encouragement but polyglot
epithets from a hare-lipped miracle of mendacity, and frequent
usufruct of hissing whip-lash to his quaking flanks and skinned sides,
he does not despair. One is foolish to waste time trying to throw five
aces with four dice, and the usual rustic system of studying games of
hazard has similar elements of weakness; but there is no weakness
about the character of the seasoned, unchangeable Mule. If a glossary
of battles could be transcribed from the quartermasters' reports of
"actions" where Mules were lost, it would make a fearful and wonderful
record. But no premonitions of battle trouble him now. With a good
hearty roll in the dust and its diatonic accompaniment of snorts,
groans and grunts, he rises refreshed. Then he kicks a few times for
practice with the agility of an antiquated drum-stick from the black
crook ballet, and lies down to rest, supperless but happy. All the
visible universe is action and motion, from the slow dissolving
mountain of granite, to the fleeting, flitting cloud of vapor that
scuds across the sky.

But the Mule sleeps, noiseless and motionless. Into that steep, deep
sleep what dreams might creep! But no! No visions of to-morrow's big
load and high check now vex his royal ribs. No colic phantoms disturb
his illusion of combing his fetlocks in golden stubble--fit function
for his underrated merits. No nightmares come hurling cold hailstones
at his sinless head or murdering "Sweet Marie" in Z minor around his
protesting ears. So he awakens invigorated and steps out into the
purple dawn of next day, fresh as the cold oaken bucket that dangles
no longer in the moss-covered well, and chipper as Sancho Panza's
Dapple--oh! speechless, incredible Mule!

Were not comparisons odious we might unreservedly affirm that he was
fully capable of the zeal displayed by one of our major-generals who,
on or about August 29, 1862, rushed toward the sound of John Pope's
cannon at a hold-the-fort-for-I-am-coming velocity of six miles a day.
We may furthermore safely claim for him devotion at least equal to
that displayed by another major-general, coincidently negatively
pregnant, who drank from the same canteen and simultaneously
telegraphed to Pope from Alexandria, proposing to reinforce him with
every wagon in camp if he would send back cavalry for an escort!

There is a period in every battle when the bravest soldier would
donate liberally to the missionary cause for trustworthy assurance of
scathless emergence. The most valorous among us are at times
conciliatory and pacific as an intimidated husband just emerging from
a domestic cyclone cellar. Human nature is not perpetually keyed up to
the Marco Bozarris pitch. Marvel not then that the astute Lincoln,
when informed that a general and forty Mules had been captured by the
enemy, put on that far-away, lodge-of-sorrow look and plaintively
remarked: "I am sorry to lose the Mules." Generals, brave to the point
of recklessness and beyond it, could be made as easily as bonanza
Christians, who join the church by typewriter and are baptized by
telegraph--but Mules had a specific, ascertainable value.

The Army Mule's market value or cost to the government ranged from
one hundred and fifteen to one hundred and fifty dollars. This price
was established when he was first brought in and exhibited to all
intents and purposes as an article of merchandise. He was then largely
occupied in attempting to conceal exclusive knowledge of certain
secluded green pastures; winking slyly to himself in the excess of his
cunning, all unaware of the multiplex miseries stored away for him in
the immediate future. The price was generally satisfactory, for the
service sighed for him. But the Mule did not receive the money. Far
from it! A part of it went to his loyal owner, so called. We all knew
him. He was suave as a Scotchman who has adopted the manners and
customs of civilization. He was cheerful as the radiant old circuit
rider who preaches to a mixed congregation in a boom suburb, from a
text found in lot 3, block 12, of Timothy's second subdivision. In
every crisis he was first to stay at home and readiest to volunteer
his moral support in putting down insurrection.

After selling a string of Mules he would walk the streets for a week
filled with rum and gladness, bragging in his balmy periods over the
keenness of his sharpness. The remainder of the purchase price, as was
currently suspected, went into the pockets of the purchasing
quartermaster, clothed in white samite, mystic, plunderful--popular
only within restricted areas. None of it went to the Mule. A woman
never looks well in a fault-finding habit; a man never looks well when
detected in prevarication; therefore let us tell the truth: None of it
went to the Mule!

Parenthetically we may remark that this type of financial injustice
has been perpetuated, until the hind quarters of the speechless,
unspeakable survivors would be excusable for rising in their might to
protest emphatically. If the shoe fits spike it, says the farrier; if
the conscience twinges one or more of us here present, it is perhaps
not yet too late to reform. Nearly a thousand men, mostly teamsters,
buglers and hospital stewarts, toothless but terrible, have been
pensioned since the war for lameness caused by the kick of a Mule's
hoof iron, while no Mule has been pensioned for lameness, spavin,
ring-bone, wind-gall or glanders--no, not one. The speechless,
rheumatic Mule, in all his army moods and tenses, acquired no
stiffness of the joints materially differing from the old
civil-service, barnyard variety.

Why then differentiate? Punched by the wagon-tongue or tripped by the
trace chains, when the breeching was fractured on a down grade, the
exposures to rupture or fracture were incessant, with no experts in
attendance to splice the splints. These are facts which no profuseness
of classic allusion to pearly brooks and flowery meads can obscure,
when the sour cream of his experience curdles in his soul. In gushing
eras of reconciliation large populations seemed extremely bent on
pushing things to the whimpering point; the people who were wrong were
with surprising unanimity almost ready to forgive the people who were
right and kiss again with cheers.

In those days the widow of Stonewall Jackson was gallantly escorted
through Boston Common by General Benjamin F. Butler, Governor of
Massachusetts. And she proclaimed with tears in her voice and
patriotism in her heart, that she found in this star-eyed hero an
elegant gentleman as well as an orthodox believer--then immediately
applied for a patent on her discovery. (Some men, like happy dreams,
are too good to be true). Surely the day of jubilee had come. But even
at that time undying animosities and misconceptions prevented an award
of due credit to the crippled, superannuated Army Mules. Little wonder
that so ungrateful an epoch was mostly given over to hybridizing
chrysanthemums and breeding chappies.

And the end is not yet. "Loyal" owners, seedy and snuffy, are still
collecting exaggerated pay from a long enduring government for
unnumbered myriads of mythical Mules alleged to have been confiscated.
The bronzed Kickapoo matron with soiled fingers, straining maple syrup
through the family heirloom blanket for the St. Louis market in the
forests of southern Iowa, has almost ceased to be a picturesque,
typical feature of our civilization. But the war claimant still
lingers, multiplying his lost Mules periodically, as the years glide
by,--while the just claims of the unquestionably loyal Mule himself
are neglected with studious shamelessness. Many persons are said to
think that this is not just, but we may perhaps be pardoned for the
remark that it is a long time between thinks.

Take notice, however, that not all Mules can establish unquestioned
loyalty. Some of them yielded to the strain on their principles and
went over to the enemy, like a rural dupe who is so charmed with the
accomplishments of the shell-game adept that he resolves to embark in
that line of business himself. Loyalty and treason were largely
matters of education and environment. Even the rival little liver
pills are quite the same in their essential, fundamental ingredients;
one is aloes, rhubarb and antimony, while the other is antimony, aloes
and rhubarb; either is equally offensive to a refined and cultured
mucous membrane, and both are warranted to go through by moonlight,
errors and omissions excepted.

A veracious war writer has recorded that in May, 1865, the Confederate
army consisted of Kirby Smith, four Mules and a base drum, moving
rapidly toward Texas. The general's proudest hope then was that he
might be allowed to eke out his future anonymous existence in the
solitudes of Mexico; the chattels were joint and several assets, like
a plug of tobacco in the hands of a threshing crew. In war the
defeated faction must accept the quartermaster's brand, "Inspected and
Condemned," without a murmur, even as in politics he is four times
disarmed who lets his barrel burst. These bonnie blue Mules could be
readily classed as disfranchised and denationalized. They would
clearly come within the fourteenth amendment unless they have been
amnestied by the statute of limitations.

At any rate, the vivid historic pageant ranks next in interest to Saul
of Tarsus riding the Mule's father into Damascus, where he proceeded
to mulch the nursery stock of a new faith and dig a few grubs out of
the roots. The boy with a big apple in his mouth, that he can neither
spit out nor chew nor swallow, is a distressing spectacle; the
twentieth century southerner apologizing for his deluded secessionist
ancestor will command a broad clientage of respectful sympathy.

The Army Mule's strategic value was recognized throughout the whole
corrugated surface of the Kenesaw region, and everywhere else within
the lines of active operation. It was tersely expressed by General
George H. Thomas when he said: "The fate of an army sometimes depends
on a linch-pin." Poetry without a motif is held by experts to be
deficient in verve; an army without a train long as the exordium of a
professional spell-binder was supposed to be impossible. The science
of electrocution is in its infancy, but the death-dealing corset has
been industriously slaughterous for three or four generations.

Erroneous solutions of the transportation problem are responsible for
much needless sacrifice of life and treasure. The army train was a
baffling understudy. Six patient, faithful Mules were attached to each
creaking big blue wagon, with a high, white canvas cover. Thirteen
wagons were, during the first two years of the war, allotted to a
regiment of infantry; six to a battery of artillery. Such campaigning
emulated the luxuriousness of a hundred-acre corn-field where every
ear-muff is made of silk. (P. S. It was subsequently abandoned.) One
hundred teams occupy a mile of road. Thus an army of seventy-five
thousand men are followed when marching by a wagon-train eighteen
miles long, hauled by Mules.

A broken linch-pin or king-bolt or hame-strap near the front of this
lumbering procession would bring the whole succedent line promptly to
a halt. Strategy at once impinges against a nonplus. The campaign
comes to a dead stand with a dull thud. The florid, inductive
teamster, with a hare-lip, is pondering profoundly the subjectiveness
of dinnerlessness. He is a hectic, hungry, hairy man, with whiskers on
his wrists; in addition he is deliberate. He repairs the damage very
deliberately. He refreshes himself, meanwhile, with snatches of
ancient melody, rescued from the deluge with Shem and Ham. Also with
frequent volleys of Enfield curses and Gatling blows, discharged at
his speechless, unoffending Mules. Luridity of impiety is a _sine qua

The mild, ethereal wickedness of that fossilized beechnut relating to
the dam by a mill site, pales its ineffective glow. It is usually the
dictate of wisdom to leave a wild-eyed cannibal in undisturbed
possession of his warpath; equally so to be very sparing of sneers at
another man's joss. Consequently the driver's amiable diversion is
seldom interfered with. When all damages are repaired the procession
moves on.

Then begins again the long lumbering creak, to continue in melancholy
monotony until another linch-pin breaks or buckle parts asunder.
Eighteen miles of tortured wagons roll on and on; white-arched,
weighty; relics of a thorny, stormy past, yet pregnant with an
illimitable future. They bristle with tent-poles, trail tangled tent
ropes far behind, and exude knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, drums and
drum majors at every pore. They are festooned around and beneath with
clinging mess pans, pendulous camp kettles, and the like
differentiation of iron-mongery. If the weather is fine this creak and
grind and rumble goes on and on, with monotonous, mechanical
steadiness, subject to accidents as aforesaid, until the tuneful,
sagacious Mule sings the long roll, as he instinctively scents
approach to the preordained place of encampment, when welcome night
draws nigh.

This is the poetry of transportation, jolly as a cake-walk,
comfortable as a smoking jacket, easy as reducing the labor question
to an exact science by the acceptance of a generous salary as walking
delegate. But when rains descend and floods come, the scenery shifts;
wagons, muleteers and quadrupeds are indiscriminately plunged into
diluvial quagmires, fathomless as air and shoreless as the
gulf-stream. Then the liquified turnpike spreads over the valleys and
yellow cascades roar down the defenseless ruts.

Then the climax of helpless wretchedness arrives, always fatefully
tumbling on the articulated anatomy of a hapless, cadaverous Mule.
Beneath him even chilled-steel agony can not go. He gathers in all its
multiplex horrors, computed on the Utah plural family plan. He
would win a Columbian Exposition medal for the most picturesque
collection of miseries--picturesque, variegated and altogether
astonishing. They overwhelm him like a bather submerged in sea waves
twenty feet high, each weighing a thousand tons, half brine and half

[Illustration: _The quenchless, marvelous mule emerges from the mire
and clay, with a whooping-cough wheeze_]

No man can adequately realize what magnificent folly he is capable of
until he sees his own old love-letters set forth in the cold, cruel
print of some hideous newspaper. No man can fully appreciate the
faithfulness of our devoted animal co-workers until he sees a crucial
test applied. The quenchless, marvelous Mule emerges from the mire and
clay, with a whooping-cough wheeze, driven to preternatural exertions
by redoubled curses and quadrupled scourgings.

His step is quick, short and grasping. The spirit inherited from some
remote Hambletonian antetype flames in his nostrils. He rings a fire
alarm, hoists the grand hailing sign of distress, and defiantly dashes
his toe-calks through to hard pan. He rushes down the high bluff,
over the muddy flat, across the cold stream, up the steep
bank--lashed, lathered and spurred. With a whisk of his tail that
scatters bullets of mud he springs to the tremendous task. His body is
squat to the earth at times, but his ears always point starward. Every
muscle hisses with the heat of the strain and every nerve is burning;
his whole frame quivers and smokes as he bursts into supremest effort
and brings his freightage to the goal, or dies in his tracks, a
speechless, unsung martyr to the cause. No burial, no monument, no

To the Army Mule in camp, if anywhere, rest, rations and felicity
should come. A surplus of excitement is injurious to the nerves, but
life wholly without an atmosphere is in peril from suffocation. Rest
is alleged to be the only unfailing antidote to Dr. Bright's widely
advertised kidney complaint. Camp is recreation in army service as
courting is the play spell of the soul. The farmers in politics,
dedicated to a maximum of talk and a minimum of toil, need no
proclamation from the governor bidding them hold a fast from work in
order to enjoy a feast of discussion.

The free-lunch rounder, with pretzel crumbs on his mustache, loves
above all things to sit easy at his inn. Even the emancipated lady
prays earnestly for deliverance from the fatigues of the conservative,
innocent, purely platonic schottische. Consequently no blame can
justly attach to the worn and worried Mule for standing ever in
readiness to fall in with propositions for honorable repose. Beautiful
are his anticipations of a good time in camp; beautiful as a statue of
hammered brass, and as hollow. The hollowness results from the fact
that no reckoning was made of the hare-lipped despot at the other end
of the picket rope.

Ten pounds of grain and thirty pounds of hay is the daily allowance.
Some pie-plant professor of an agricultural institute, with a
marked-down set of artificial eyebrows hung at oblique angles to his
nose, long ago figured it out on strict mathematical principles of
animal economy. The court records it and the law doth give it. Thrice
happy is the beast that gets it; happy, but rarer than Indians with
side whiskers and ideality. Straw, stalks, tent pins and cracker boxes
are his more reliable provender. These are reinforced with stray bites
now and then, when he can chew himself loose, from a private's
laundered and lively underwear drying on a limb, or from the cold
shoulder of a corporal of the guard.

In the sweet, serene night watches, when slumber's chain had manacled
us, roving Mules may have rubbed noses while hatching a bleak and dark
conspiracy to massacre the brigade and plunder the forage train. But
it came to naught; possibly for lack of leadership. There was no
relief for the oppressed, defrauded Mule. No satiating food for him,
savory as Lyonaise potato softly tinctured with onion. No lollipop
confectionery for him, melting in the mouth like painted butter. Empty
is the nosebag, even as to plebeian oats; empty as the wit of
irreverent soldiers who josh the chaplain and gibe at the Mule.

An agricultural inquirer once wrote to Horace Greeley asking if guano
was good to put on potatoes. The busy editor replied that it might do
for men whose taste had been vitiated by tobacco and rum, but for his
own eating he preferred gravy. This was the cranberry tart retort of
the illustrious journalist, with a tough undercrust of misconception,
it is true. The condiments for the Army Mule's camp banquet were not
of the spice spicy. He has clear memories of a voracity which created
wide vacuum in sundry greenswards, and played havoc with corn cribs
manifold. The voracity remains, but the swards and cribs are far, far

At spasmodic intervals a sympathetic warrior, having burned all the
top rails of an informally confiscated fence, will toss the juicy and
edible bottom rail to the pleading, omniverous Mule, residuary legatee
of camp-fires. This is good average food in times of internecine
strife, when so simple an article as pie is a precious prerogative.
But such well-flavored morsels are too uncertain for standard
sustenance. For shockingly protracted periods, he stands unfed,
neglected, receiving all suggestions with a squeal and a kick, while
the zephyrs disinfect his fur. Pending which, stark, grim skeletons of
all the barked and branchless trees within stretch of his tether
attest the final result of an attempt to adjust his Minnesota appetite
to his Andersonville rations. If watered twice a week he may vote
himself lucky; he has not even the surfeit of a teetotaler's wassail,
where water flows like wine. "A Mule feels chilly in July," says the
Talmud; if his temperature depends on the supply of internal fuel,
there is limited space for astonishment.

Meanwhile an unsanctified teamster, with red hair and hare-lip,
blushing with innocence until his whiskers singe in the heat, enjoys
the encampment episode to the uttermost. In Constantinople public
opinion is gauged by the prevalence of nocturnal conflagrations, and
the number of hanged bakers decorating the street corners next
morning. But in camp there is no concentrated public opinion
sufficiently intense to mete out due retribution to the profligate
castigator of the fodderless, thirsty Mule. He sleeps on ample
bedding of good sweet hay, and has large store of gerrymandered corn
to exchange for toothsome luxuries. His tobacco is of the costliest
brand and he defiantly blows the froth of numerous beers from his
blasphemous lips. He carries a full purse and a steady nerve; also a
bomb-proof conscience void of offense. Bad medicine, he!

The jocundities of life in camp we may gather _ad nauseam_ from the
romances of some of the professors of freehand drawing who enlisted as
army correspondents; but for purposes of authentic history these
narratives are worthless as second-hand champagne corks. The
jocularities referred to have no interest to the solemn, imperturbable
Mule save when he is an object of their malevolence. Then they are
more interesting than enjoyable. The swell imbecile carries an
umbrella under his arm through crowded streets until its tip is
garnished with the eye of some unfortunate fellow wayfarer; the man
who loses the eye fails to see the point of--the joke.

The Mule is not much of a joker himself; but as a victim of practical
jokes, fine, funny or chestnutty, he has become widely celebrated.
His resentment of these preposterous hilarities, all of which are on
the _passé_ social code of roller rinks, has caused much of the
reputation for waspy temper which now attaches to him with the
tenacity of a bachelor girl to the state of single blissfulness.
Temper changes with status, as was ascertained by the enthusiast who
originally named his _fiancée_ Revenge because she was sweet, but now
that she is his wife calls her Delay because she is dangerous.

The city man who would own a farm should have a good income well
assured elsewhere, for it will certainly be needed. The foolhardy
individual who proposes to play tricks on a mule should be well
buttressed with sound accident policies. Beware the irritated
quadruped! Look not into the red mouth of a wild Numidian lion; touch
not the royal Bengal tiger's remotest whisker-tip; avoid the little
black bull with an eye like a razor's edge; make no experiments with
the terminal facilities of the speechless, inscrutible Mule!

His ways are past finding out; his kicks are incalculable,
inexplicable, incomprehensible. He sometimes allows patience to pile
up in ridges on his neck, while the battalions of wrath are debouching
from all quarters into his hoof. Then the eruption breaks out with
torpedo suddenness and with an energy of fury that rivals the
deafening roar which smites the aggregated ear of the magnificent
metropolis, when fire invades the wholesale district.

Blessed is the nation whose annals are uneventful--America is safe
with fifteen million children in the public schools and three thousand
citizens to one soldier. Happy is the bride whom the sun shines on
whether matriculated at Ognotz or merely captivated at Topeka. Joyous
to the weary mechanic the picnic of his labor holiday, with its
lemonade, its orations, and its other things that lull to peaceful
slumber. Halcyon to the Army Mule are monotonous days in camp, when
they bring surcease of torment as well as toil; red-lettered if
therewithal be brought, by rare concatenation, such plethora of long
forage as drowns vicissitude in bright beatitude. In that case he
rounds out radiantly and within the cycle of a very few days develops
beyond recognition. His protrusions disappear like the vanishing lines
of a mineral lode. His rumps accumulate fat and his girth expands with
a facility that is amazing. His eye takes on a new gleam and his bray
acquires a fresh intonation.

Moreover, he is speedily transformed into a bold aristocrat. He
cultivates style and assumes airs of conscious superiority equal to
the contemptuous sniff of a Fifth avenue dog who has smelled some
chance passer-by two or three grades below par. His future may be
uncertain as a Spaniard's veracity or a Frenchman's paternity; but he
lives in the glad and glowing present, with the nonchalance of a
Russian official hunting for fragments of the czar by torchlight,
after a popular demonstration.

Of the Mule in battle, lean is the record's exploitation. There is
little danger that his renown in that line will ever be subversive of
our liberties and other luxuries. Right is forever on the scaffold,
wrong forever on the make, as of old. But the placid, benevolent Mule
never takes up arms against either party--our quartermaster's returns
of uncounted thousands "lost in action" to the contrary
notwithstanding. It even seems difficult to secure credit for such
service as he actually rendered. His occasional sporadic work in
artillery teams is wholly forgotten. His frequent spurts to the
flaming front with ammunition wagons is entirely ignored.

A common, peaceful explosion of powder magazines at home not only
shatters all the windows in the neighborhood, but also shatters the
faith of people for miles around in the doctrine of resurrection of
the body. So the peaceful nature of the Mule is fatal to any
accumulation of reputation bubbles, where bayonets bristle and
saltpeter burns. Were he ten times the tin-clad child of havoc that he
is, the florid, hare-lipped arbiter of his destinies would see to it
carefully that, barring accidents, his opportunities for responding to
long rolls should be few.

The Chicago socialists tendered an olive branch to the police made of
gas-pipe and charged with nitroglycerine in a highly persuasive state
of concentration. But when the red and riotous fume of the
bomb-throwers' breath permeated the haymarket like a pestilence, no
army Mule mingled with the medley of frowzy trousers. No more do we
hear of him at Shiloh or Champion Hill or Cedar Creek.

For offensive purposes the Mule was, in general, harmless as a United
States frigate or a divinity student at a bean-bag festival, or the
ghost of a goose, white, downy and clamorous. The valedictorian of the
last class at the Keeley cure, permeated with a variety of virtuous
joint and several resolutions, could scarcely be more docile. Even the
reproachful Confederate smokehouse could not shake its gory padlock at
the stainless, unimpeachable Mule--although he carried a jimmy equal
to most emergencies, he could, as a rule, readily establish an alibi.
When fodder is really in the shock, and frost is ready to be cleft
from pumpkins with a snow-plow, then such free tubers as have been
produced in sweet charity's name on the Pingree plan should be
harvested without procrastination; delays are perilous at that season
of the year. The evil effects of the shock, however, can be minimized,
by feeding the fodder, in advance, to the harmless, appreciative Mule.
Forewarned is four times armed, or more.

Non-combatants and impedimenta compose the rear of an army when it is
in action. Here assemble great drinkers of alcohol, and vast eaters,
who measurably justify Germany's subsequent discrimination against the
American hog--all of whom let concealment like a chinch-bug prey on
their damaged cheeks, their necks, meanwhile, being given over to the
ravages of the army flea. Here in secure serenity mobilize numerous
excellent subjects for the romantic young woman who yearns for a
lovely debauchee to reform. Here congregate cooks, commissaries and
sutlers--this last with a sage-brush tinge of disappointment in his
aspect, and a Jenness-Miller cut of trousers on his limbs. Here
recreate skulkers who simulate heroes, and sneaks in the garbage of
soldiers, all cumberers of the ground, like a prophet gone to seed in
his own country. Here gather men of Trilby feet and mighty thirst,
who are riotous with repartee, but intensely hostile to all manner of
soft beverage; also cowards, inveterate as the upward tendency of
tartar emetic; moreover, quartermasters' clerks, spouting
bloodthirstiness like a congressional candidate, or some other gas
well; likewise, here in the rear, are mule wagons, mule pack trains,
mule teams, mule drivers and Mules.

When retreating or outflanked the order is varied and rear becomes
front instanter. Then unthinkable confusion reigns. A financial
catastrophe brought on by forty-cent wheat and ten-cent statesmanship
looking at facts through a long-distance binocle, is bad enough. An
explosion of the swear tank for a thought distillery in the higher
realms of journalism is even worse, if possible. But when a Mule dam
breaks, the thundering reverberation of its tumultuous hoofs is a
resonant forecast of pandemonium rampant. Vain and futile then all
ardent aspiration for such quiet as ensues when the wicked cease from
borrowing and the female elocutionist soars and bores no more! Our
cavalry out-posts were broken doses of soothing syrup for the nervous
flanks of the infantry, and often stampeded the front line by their
too precipitate retrogression.

A stampede of Mule teams to the rear had all the _spirituel_ features
and picturesque complications of an arrangement of tariff schedules on
the principle of local option. Attempts at control were hopeless as
piloting a national campaign when the American voter is on the
rampage. It was a chaotic conglomeration of convulsive uproar,
sufficient to whirl down any hope of glory with a sickening slump. The
gentleman from out of town, who, in spite of conspicuous warning,
blows out the gas, makes his exit from sublunary strife in enviable
quietude. No such privileges are extended to the end man of a Mule
rush. In exclusive social circles, the dress may be a dream, and the
bill a nightmare, but in the mixed companionship we are contemplating,
this impromptu display is a veritable delirium tremens of undelineated

Frederick the Great shouted to a fleeing battle-straggler, "Wretch,
wouldst thou live forever?" and paralyzed him. The unabashed army
teamster, with a sliced upper lip and hair æsthetically matching his
sorrel Mule, sprinting along the broad highway of wrath, pitched
downward at an angle of forty-five degrees toward perdition, would
have admitted the soft impeachment, and pursued his flight, lashing,
blaspheming. He may have been, at home, as consistent a Baptist as
ever yoked a steer, but for this occasion all rules are suspended by
unanimous consent, and precedent tumbles headlong. The coincidence of
a florid girl and a pale horse is always exasperating, at least to the
girl; a hurried retreat in the presence of a menacing enemy, naturally
exasperates to full pitch of desperation the belligerent boss of the
nimble, obedient Mule.

In numberless miscellaneous episodes of a military sphere, the Army
Mule was marked high as to deportment. Though of somewhat irregular
character, even verging at times on the diabolical, he emulated the
standards of the officer and the gentleman. We can afford to mix a
little sentiment with our matter of fact. We can afford to drop a
tear when the object is worth it. We can afford a note of eulogy under
like circumstances, even to an Arizona cayuse fattened on bunch-grass
to the rotundity of a prickly pear.

Yes, certainly, business thrift is commendable, but when it comes to
crossing the lightning-bug with the honey-bee so that the latter can
work at night, we draw the line. Sentiment aside, there is a measure
of truth in the averment that the Army Mule and the army bean put down
the rebellion. The dancing diplomat, with his twisted comprehensions
and his addled complacencies may not appreciate it. Such an one,
having never associated with the speechless, unspeakable Mule, nor,
indeed, had any legitimate business transactions with him, may
possibly still assert that the lion is king of beasts. Far from it!
The lion will serve as a freak, children half price; but for steady
days' works, for genuine _aplomb_ and musical dexterity of wide
longitudinal range, the courteous, dignified Mule was preeminently

To hospital and guard-house, Siamese bugbears of honorable service,
he was a stranger. It was never necessary to detail a fatigue squad to
police his ears. The worthy chaplain, fresh from green pastures of
civil life, where he fed the juicy lambs and clubbed the tough old
rams of the flock, found no occasion for reproof to the silent,
orthodox Mule.

No venial dereliction ever subjected him to stoppage of pay or
reduction to the ranks, even when the fodder that he longed for never
came. No court-martial, reeking with pungent odors of staple and fancy
sutlers' goods, ever met to arbitrate his predestinated destiny. You
might tie his tail like a pretzel, or pound his bray in a mortar, yet
would not his serenity depart from him. The proneness of his voice
apparatus to go off at half cock unfitted him for crooked works of
strategy--he could never be relied on either to "lie" in wait or
"steal" on an enemy. How gratefully he turns with a maple-sap thaw in
his aspect, when his neck has been stripped of the blistering harness;
how joyously his eager nostrils sniff the forage from afar. Oh!
grateful, melodious Mule!

A zoological riddle, offspring of amalgam and miscegen as
unclassifiable as a severe case of Debs aggravated by symptoms of
Coxey and Altgeld, he had, nevertheless too much animal self-respect
to ever incur censure for getting humanly drunk. While the giddy whirl
of current events whirls even more giddily, let us remember that
virtue in his favor.

Man's frailty darkens many a sad, sad story--sad as a volume of the
Congressional Record; the Army Mule's frailties were few, his
conquests many. He was amiable after all; even General Butler, the
most illustrious heavenly twin of war times, conceded that much. His
temper was by no means of the cactus order, generally speaking. He
chooses grudges with rare discrimination; it is always safe to suspect
the man that a Mule hates. Patient in toil; silent in suffering;
cogent and cautious as the rule in Shelly's case; serene amid direst
confusion and alarm; heedless of ancient sarcasms decaying or
petrified, he was in no sense a grumbler, and in no unpardonable sense
a kicker. His hours of feed were unstable as the advertising rates of
a poor but honest journalist, yet he was lighter of heart than a
newly married gent rushing the oil can to a corner grocery.

If to his straight enduring back a mountain howitzer was sometimes
strapped and fired without unslinging, he accepted the indignity, went
to grass with the recoil, and rose for the next inning, unruffled as
an expert witness emerging from the labyrinth of a hypothetical
question--oh! dimless, unknowable Mule!

A retired tobacconist adopted for the motto of a fresh coat of arms to
be emblazoned on his carriage panels: "_Quid Rides?_" Why do you
laugh? After a Saint Petersburg assassination episode it is
comparatively immaterial whether you call the widow czarina or
imperatritza. In these peaceful days, Lincoln's speech at Gettysburg,
translated into the jingling speech of Chinamen, and even into the
jabbering Japanese, which rivals the contortions of the kinetoscope,
opens a new evangel to their narcotic, Oriental souls. Sherman's
marvelous retreat from Atlanta to Savannah is studied by the
strategists of deepest Afgahnistan; alleged busts of John A. Logan
are worshiped as idols in innermost Kamchatka, and spicy narratives we
told to credulous marines are the basis of classic fiction on the

Hence nothing is frivolous that lends an added array to the most
luminous chapter of contemporary history--of any history. While in the
matter of beer, the foreigner unquestionably pays the tax, or most of
it, yet as between natives, white-colored may lose and black may win;
'tis hard to tell. Make no mistake as to the intrinsic, historic
importance of the forgotten, unforgetting Mule!

The empty skeptic may come forth with fire in his eye and boiled egg
on his whiskers seeking to overwhelm us with the gorgeousness of his
gush or the sumptuousness of his gall. To empty skeptics, or shallow
scoffers, these simple annals of a lowly career may seem fruitless as
that famous sour apple tree that failed to yield its promised harvest;
hopeless as the perpetual revolutions of a bob-tailed dog chasing the
vacant space where the tail should be; tasteless as fried smelts;
thankless as opening a mint sauce to the free coinage of lamb. The
chappie fellows who flutter at functions and titter at teas may scoff
or scorn. But the eye of calm philosophy ought to beam kindly on a
faithful effort to weave unconsidered trifles of truth into a wreath
of earned, though meager and belated justice, so that even the
wayfaring man, though full, need score no errors.

The speechless, unquenchable Mule was a real factor in those events we
love to commemorate. It is asserted that only one man now survives who
helped whip Lee at Gettysburg, and then marched triumphantly with
Grant into conquered Vicksburg next day. But the Army Mule did both,
and more! He went out with the mob of pinfeather volunteers, who spent
their first callow days principally in vociferous "swearing in," and
their sappy nights at discordant drills in patriotic minstrelsy.

With less recognition than even the barnstormers' encore of addled
carrot and frumescent cabbage, he helped wet-nurse our infant
regiments when they were just getting able to sit up and gaze vacantly
around. With a prodigious faculty in his heels for putting strange
faces in heaven, he held himself in commendable subjection while
incipient legions evolved themselves out of chaos. He passed on,
beaten with many stripes, to that multitudinous aggregation called an
army, where human atoms, swarming and wriggling to the music of brass
bands, like agile mites in a nugget of archaic cheese, united to give
him the frigid shake with a glad hand. The girl, photographed for her
lover with her vail down, that his sister might not recognize the
likeness, was a miracle of modest artifice; thrice proficient in
meritorious cunning, the unassuming, artful Mule.

Unequally yoked in servitude to a cowboy taskmaster, unlovable as the
venerable Smallweed's brimstone, blackbeetle helpmeet, also redheaded,
hare-lipped and stuffed with nitric nine-cornered blasphemy, he plodded
painfully on. Stark and indurate like an Adirondack meadow enameled
with trap rock, he plodded rigidly on. Anhungered and athirst, with no
credit at the sutler's, on he plodded, through hot, white clouds of
drastic turnpike dust, or red and hideous depths of gummy mud,
dragging incredible burdens of those indispensable supplies that
smooth war's wrinkled front and quell its clamoring emptiness. When he
diffidently claimed his share of such supplies, he was given the
marble heart or the dry and dreadful laugh--yea, the juiceless,
mechanical laugh, with daggers in it.

Oh! liberty, what humbugs are nurtured in thy name! Prodded and flayed
until his staggering knees, his welt-fretted haunches and his bloody
nostrils placarded his agony, the Army Mule accepted the wideopen
policy of his castigator and crunched his barmecide feasts, lacerated
and scarified, hoping the brighter day.

Like the intoxicating bewilderment of a reception ball, decorated with
roses, lilies, smilax, palms and electric illumination, come back to
us those grateful reminiscences, crowded with apparitions of the
maligned, mellifluous Mule. Leashed and shackled, foodless in the
drizzly, sleety camp, when our quarrel with destiny was an octave
higher than usual, his cheerful night cries, welcome as suicides to a
coroner, exorcised the blue devils of our dolorous solitude.

While fumes of our priceless coffee floated pleasantly pungent like
the cedar aroma of a moth closet, the tuneful echoes of those night
cries floated also--Mule answering unto Mule in fond, fraternal
recognition. Baptized with fire, adjacent or remote, even if only with
its rumors and reflections, the pattering skirmish shots of distant
action, he at length became a veritable veteran. Like a
thrice-rejected suitor finally made happy, he had been well shaken
before taken. And now, a warrior bold, seasoned to war's alarms, he
could, upon occasion, thirst or seem to thirst for gore, with all the
mad ferocity of a sheep smitten with hydrophobia, or a camel charged
with nitroglycerine. Duplicating the awkwardness of man's debut into
polite society delayed until past the meridian of life, this ardor of
the mettled, military Mule, if late, was touchingly conspicuous.

Marching triumphant home, kneesprung but irrepressible, his large,
luxuriant ears were tremulous with the hysterical emotions of the
hour, and his double-turreted voice was loudest in the wild acclaim of
victory. Long years he lived, it may be, wearing on knightly shoulder
a proud insignia of his service, the indellible brand of honor, which
no humility of avocation could degrade nor purse-proud aristocracy of
money bags, the basest known on earth, contemn with impunity. And when
the end comes, as come it must, even to the longevous Mule, then
speechless and unspeakable at last and eternally, the flag under which
he toiled might be put to worse uses than that of covering his
emaciated frame as it is trundled off to the glue-factory.

I mean no disrespect to the flag.

       *       *       *       *       *

That flag is our flag! Man has always and everywhere sought in
bannered blazonries the symbol of a sovereign power. Everywhere and in
all times some emblem of a might which confessed no mightier has led
embattled hosts to triumph, and taught heroic spirits how sweet it is
to die. The banner becomes the crystallization of the nation's life,
and the embodiment of her glory, until fighting beneath it is
patriotism, dying for it is immortality, and treachery to it is the
blackest of crimes. Our flag of beauty and renown, descending to us
from stainless sires by a shining pathway, pure as that down which the
holy grail slipped from the opening heavens, won a new lustre in the
hands of our generation. Overlapping each other in the crowding
profusion of their golden legends, every stripe of our banner is
weighty with its battle roll, even as each silver star burns the prime
jewel in a crown of valorous achievement.

Donelson and Shiloh and Vicksburg; Nashville, and Murfreesboro, and
Kenesaw; Winchester and South Mountain and Antietam; Gettysburg and
the Wilderness and Appomatox--these and five hundred more. How the
deathless names gild the resplendent folds of the proud ensign of
liberty! Flag of the continent, rivers and seas; flag of a reunited
country; flag of the glorious past and of the dimless future; flag of
freedom; flag of the world!

    Washed in the blood of the brave and the blooming,
      Snatched from the altars of insolent foes;
    Burning with star-fires, but never consuming,
      Flash its broad ribbons of lily and rose.

Let us never cease to cherish the remembrance of the days when we
followed it and fought for it. Among the soft, delicious echoes of
those days which float booming across the ocean of memory will
sometimes come, whether we greet it kindly or coldly, a sunny
recollection of the seductive wink, the tuneful bray and the electric
kick of the Army Mule.



Now the time has arrived when this matter of the Sutler should be
brought into its true alignment. His status should be differentiated
and embalmed in due longitudinal sections of small pica. It should be
finally settled whether he was the reincarnation of a seventeen-year
locust, or only a pansy blossom, with lips all mute like a thinking
star in the back row of a ballet. An excess of incertitude also
prevails as to his rank and historic area. This latter at least should
be staked out and cross-sectioned for the annals that portray scenes
when heroes' heels were on the shore of Maryland, my Maryland; which
annals are expected to go shimmering down festive centuries clothed in
the perennial freshness of St. Shamrock's day in the morning.

The Sutler was born, not made. That is to say, his tendencies were
ingrained, perhaps hereditary, even in cases where his selection was
nepotic or accidental. Once he was purer than beautiful snow, it may
be, but even then he was a Sutler in embryo. And when the beautiful
snow was gone; when gentle spring had sprung and the croak of the
crocus was heard in the land; when the premature robin, wearing a sore
throat and lung-pads, came with hoarse notes whistling of peace when
there was no peace, because Sumter had surrendered--then Sutlers
blossomed out with the peach trees, to bear miscellaneous fruitage
later on.

Army service gave technical nomenclature to many familiar avocations
and characteristics. Smoked halibut by any other designation would be
a thirst-provoker just the same. But some of these military titles
were very effective disguises. The ecclesiastical monitor, from spur
to plume a star of sanctimony, was called the chaplain. The
pharmaceutical tenderloin, with a razor edge to his voice at sick-call
ceremonies, was called a surgeon. The district messenger boy was
called an adjutant, and could upon occasion play a notable poker game
with the able assistance of his sleeve. The hearse thronged with
blood-curdling Lady Macbeth suggestions was called an ambulance, and
its driver, sure of dry lodgings, ranged high up in the Four Hundred.
The speechless indispensable instrument of transportation, which
performed most of the work and received none of the pay or glory, was
called a mule, with various picturesque prefixes. The sergeant-major,
noted for vast acrobatic ability and imposing length of leg, was
called--everywhere. The colonel was often called a ---- fool; the
quartermaster was usually called a ---- rascal; and the real rascal
was sometimes known as the Sutler. The blanks represent profanity,
which I abhor.

Before those subsequent halcyon days when it had been demonstrated by
experience that the beneficent and plenteous sweet potato supplied
the precise nutritive elements best calculated to evolve serene
contentment and epicurean bliss; while yet each soldier was a voluble
and self-satisfied critic of tactics, strategy, logistics, finance and
diplomacy--then a Sutler's supplies were deemed absolutely essential
to the successful prosecution of war. But even then a measurable
discernment prevailed. Positive subtle, comparative and superlative
Sutler, was an acceptable etymologic formula in many varieties of
North American broken English. That was a period famous for the wild
coinage of phraseological vacuums into available linguistic currency,
and for the mad massacre of innocent idioms. If this formula is
incorrect it should be promptly amended by some of the back-easty
opinion architects who now lead public sentiment with a stub-pointed
pen, in long-distance controversies with hired prevaricators of a
capitalistic press out in Idaho, such as write their articles on birch
bark and wear a coat only on legal holidays. We can not always trust
the future, especially at our age. Corrections should be made
now--the able editors need not all speak simultaneously.

The Sutler kept, or at least tried to keep, alleged articles of virtu
for sale to the "boys," so-called, meaning the soldiers. With warm
hearts, cold feet, flexible stomachs, bashful consciences, and a
perpetual feeling of weariness in the mouth, these "boys" constantly
environed him from zenith to nadir and return. Selling was hard as
teaching silver-tongued statesmen that cleanliness and godliness are
contiguous. Keeping was harder than selling, and getting pay was
hardest of all. Thus beset with hardships his lot rivaled in
cheerlessness that of the scratcher in politics, with a wasp-waisted
brain, a protuberant rectitude, a self-lubricating egotism, and
exactly the minimum of soul that serves in lieu of salt to save his
carcass from decay. What with shortage and leakage and stealage by
pretended friends, often self-convicted like a young man with an
indentation of corset steel in his cuffs, on the one hand, and
imminent risk of capture by an alert enemy on the other hand, the
Sutler's stock in trade was rather more uncertain than the salivary
aim of a sociable Virginian.

The causes, incidents and results of the war in which he was a
stockholder with personal liability, though not a managing director,
were momentous to him as to all mankind, including such as still gnash
their teeth over him and revile his memory. It was a turning point in
the progress of a race; the culmination of a long series of political
events; the breaking down of an extended line of political compromises
futile as an attempt to combine finance with faro; the upheaval of a
mountainous aggregation of suppressed political forces; the explosion
of a mighty reservoir of hidden political combustibles; and in its
attendant events, as well as its remote consequences, it was as
tremendous a revolution as any which freights the records of human
destiny. This must be remembered to the Sutler's credit as he drifts
off into the subsequently.

It was a vast army. Why, its brass buttons alone weighed over a
thousand tons! No Sutler was ever drafted into that army. Hence no
Sutler ever hired a substitute and afterward suffered reproach for
failure to weave immortelles around his sarcophagus. He could not wait
for the draft; the last thing he desired was a substitute. He wanted
to go himself. He volunteered early and often, with visible alacrity
and enthusiasm. He frequently tumbled over himself in his eagerness to
move the previous question, and blasphemed his own folly with
plunging-shot fierceness a little later. As the aborigine exchangeth
wampum for small-pox, silk hat and delirium tremens, so the sanguine
Sutler often parted with peace of mind for very inadequate
consideration. Rosy were his dreams of rolling, gloating wealth; cruel
his awakening to the paralyzing verity. Frailty, thy name is fortune!
Only an expert can distinguish between an asset and a liability.

Acquit him in advance of hypocrisy and thus clarify the record. Money
was his avowed objective, the richly upholstered goal of his
solicitude,--money, even if merely accumulated for division among the
lawyers retained to break a will, as too frequently eventuates. For
him one crowded shower of glorious gold was worth a whole aurora
borealis of golden glory, earned at thirteen dollars a month and half
rations. Others might fight battles or write ballads for his country;
he was content to peddle its "Thomas and Jeremiah" fluid in flat tin
cans, surreptitious, villainous, and expensive. Others might stand
like Sheridan at Stone's river, holding his division amidst a cyclone
of shotted flame; he only asked a front seat at the paytable. Others
might manage the finances of a nation and temper wind to shorn shams;
he only petitioned that Sutler's checks be made full legal tender in
his military division. Others might yearn or pretend to yearn for
bleeding wounds and storied busts; sufficient unto him was two hundred
per cent. profit on cove oysters of antiquity. Like a fashionable
belle, his heart was always in the right place--the market place.
Honor and fame from no such conditions rise.

Pardonable then was his wrath when edibles and potables disappeared
unpaid for into parts unknown save to the Latin tongue, whence they
could be recovered only by the gentle persuasion of a stomach pump.
Thus the yellow coinage of his rapt preliminary visions faded
incomprehensibly into nothingness. Thus he emulated the survivors of a
cholera epidemic who only hear in happy dreams the footsteps of
return. Give him air! He had cause for chagrin equal to that of the
Senegambian colony with a new coon in town and no heat hot enough to
roast a 'possum. He had a right to grow apoplectic with fury and
devastate the camp like a commercial maelstrom or a political
avalanche. He righteously resented; he piously protested. He were a
craven else, and the heir and ancestor of cravens. Do you laugh at
him? So did Sarah laugh at the angels, but they laughed last.

That the Sutler's gallantry in action was specially exemplified in a
"charge," is a chestnut bald and hoary with unchallenged longevity. It
is one of those remarks that vegetate through a sequence of drowsy
centuries, to reappear during each spring season of chronology with a
masterful reach that brushes cobwebs from the skies and topples
chimneys down. Representative war-humorists who ride astride the
whistling winds, spurting effluent sluices of word-wash, and typical
war orators sorely afflicted with engorgement of vocabulary, combine
to exploit this moldy scintillation, joint product of brain sweat and
elbow unguent. They talk through their chapeaux. Every man is a
quotation from his forefathers. Every pun is a quotation from
paleocrystic cerebration. As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the
eyes, so is misprint witticism to the properly instructed
intelligence. It is wicked to laugh at a bishop; it is criminal to
laugh at jokeless jocularity. He who can separate eloquence from the
gastric gases and distinguish between the sharps and flats of
_facetiæ_, suppressing his intellectual impatience at the unbridled
linguistic solecism, may pertinently ask: Wherefore not? To charge was
human, but to collect was sublime; always difficult, often impossible.
The credit a Sutler was obliged to give was often as long as a plea in
chancery. He was the old man not afraid of eternity; and the
prospective extended term of payment, if happily payment should ever
come at all, was a prime element in adjusting margins of profit. His
sole competitor in this line of making a charge is said to be the
modern plumber--he of the slow step and quick respiration redolent of
raw onions--he of the small tenderness and large bill. But that is a
chestnut musty as the other. Boycott both of them! Only a man of most
stomachful and gunpowder instincts, a warrior and a blood-quaffer from
aforetime, could long survive the rueful infliction of either.

Although war without a Sutler would have been a barren ideality, worse
than politics without the negro, or the free coiner, or the
prohibitionist not taxed, yet even with him there was a not infrequent
flaw in its felicities. The fact may even at this late day be duly
verified by numerous surviving old soldiers, that when he was wanted
he was seldom there, and when he was there he seldom had what was
wanted. Milk for babes; skim milk for pigs and calves; buttermilk for
dyspeptic opulence. Beverages more pungent, searching and responsive
were in demand at the Sutler's tent. He trafficked within complex
circumscriptions; always threatened with craft and rapacity; always
perspiring with fear like the marble statues in Rome at the approach
of Hannibal; always liable to be welcomed with bloody hands to an
inhospitable calamity. No country cross-roads grocer's assortment was
his, reeking with pestiferous perfume of salt fish and sauerkraut;
filling the air with a duchess of limburger reminiscence, which was
liable to cause the effigy of freedom on her mountain height to
experience a very tired feeling. The etiquette of war and the eternal
laws of military necessity governed his movements and halts, his
stations and stock, his buying and selling. None of the syrupy
sweetness and languid trickle of spring poetry voiced his experiences,
tempting to practices incompatible with the professions of one who
desires to lead an earnest life. The list of his permissibles embraced
a varied miscellany of _non-desiderata_, vast as the outfit of the
greatest show on this or any other earth. The catalogue of contraband
exhibited numberless objects of universal allurement. Peradventure his
lockers held six gross of pale pills for pink people (no buyer);
meantime his patrons clamored for cheese, cheese, when there was no
cheese; not a microbe. Marvel not that wrath accumulated and men
bewailed--some men never do get through teething.

Thus the irony of his fortune was more bitter than the jollity of a
wake, with the corpse lying in state next door. While popular articles
were quickly sold or stolen, the residuary stuff, howling abominations
which none would buy or steal, lingered flyblown or fermenting. They
were satirized and flouted by the dullest varlets in the regiment, who
were notably afflicted with Ananias-and-Sapphira paresis, and to whom
life's solemnest solemnities were a grimace and a grin. 'Tis ever
thus, for human nature has been the same since the earliest ages began
developing a monogram mania, when the sons of the stars first
fascinated the daughters of men. Every true and honorable mob always
holds in scornful contempt each simplest symbol of constituted
authority, especially when constituted by itself. Even so, all genuine
soldiers felt obliged to fleer and jeer at everything hidden or
concealed in that cavern of despair wherein our hero reigned. They
gave him the marble heart in the loud three-em dash newspaper style of
emphasis. They swore by the dorsal fins of a planked white fish that
he was a paroxysmal, flamboyant fraud, and showered on him weird
variations of the standard oriental malediction; may his countenance
be inverted diagonal-wise, and donkeys browse on his grandmother's
grave! They floated him to perdition hourly on the brimstone vapors of
their anathema, and soon beckoned him back again in the renaissance of
their whetted appetite. Then he assumed a fictitious importance,
sufficient indeed in more recent times to have almost entitled him to
arrive at a New York hotel.

Probably no Sutler's stock was ever submitted to the critical and
crucial operation of an inventory, presided over by an expert
accountant's freshly laundered mustache, and cold, cruel, thin-lipped
smile. The variety of such an inventory would be as attractive as that
of the village landlord's menu--ram, lamb, sheep and mutton. Its
metaphysics would be unique as a bi-metallic understudy; its
mathematics only less recondite than a census of the baccilli encysted
in the buzzard's beak on a standard dollar, mintage of 'eighty-one. An
exhaustive attempt, at the present day, to remedy this omission would
certainly involve serious risk of undue spiritual exhilaration and
intellectual intoxication. But a partial list, achieved at any
specified stage of a vigorous campaign, would have read something like

Wooden combs and Mexican spurs.

Gutta-percha bivalves (cove).

Pretzels--prophetic of the hard, hard times which marked an era of
Hoke Smith and Dink Botts statesmanship.

Effete cigars, bunch-grass filling, wrapped in genuine Havana onion
leaves at Wethersfield, in the state of Connecticut.

Plug tobacco advanced in ossification.

Smoking ditto, premonitory of asbestos; infinite in capacity for
provocation; imitating in incombustibility the sullen defiance of a
dead, cold epigram.

Epsom salts.

Smoked herring, also salt.

Gingerbread, composted chiefly of sawdust, coal slack, tar, syrup and
chopped feed.

Joke books, solemn as the summersault of the trick elephant in his

Cookies, tough enough to be handed down as heirlooms to the Weary
Waggleses of futurity.

Rancid sardines, to be swallowed fin and scale, head and tail.

Pistol cartridges, watch keys, jack-knives, pills, and lead pencils
conspicuous chiefly for brittleness.

Bologna sausages of the conglomerate era, petrified; like our glorious
Union, invincible and indivisible.

Engine-turned pickles, submerged in carbolic acid and frosted with
vitriol crystals; positively antiscorbutic.

Incohesive tooth-brushes cut loose from their base of supplies.

Long clay pipes after the form æsthetically affected by the honest
Hollander, bibulous, amphibious and narcotic.

Dry figs and wormy raisins, savory as the juice of hard tack or
tent-pin syrup.

Anonymous liquid perdition in sneaking disguises, which, judged by its
taste, was a cheap grade of _spiritus strychniti_, but judged by its
price was molten pearl diluted with dissolved diamond.

Sundries, etc., etc.

Supposed necessaries of luxurious military existence some of these,
more or less urgent even when subsisting on the enemy. In that case
the conversion by assimilation of Confederate provender into Yankee
bone and sinew was a delicious, romantic, patriotic, praiseworthy
function. The patriots rather enjoyed this process, but they welcomed
assistance from the foregoing catalogue.

Many articles were purchasable only in those _post_-pay-day periods
when the center of financial gravity had been shifted by the
exigencies of chuck-a-luck and old sledge from many pockets to one. It
is an eminently usable list, resources permitting. Few of the
impracticable inutilities of dollar stores or charity bazaars lift
here their suspected forms, requiring us to exhaust all statutory and
common-law remedies against conspiracy to do great bodily harm. Few of
the frabbles are seen which adorn and dignify the dress-suit breakfast
given by smirking domestic snobs to a titled foreign fraud,
unintelligible as a Blavatsky theosophist. Yet even these, to the
insatiate askers of the bivouc, would never quite suffice. Do what he
could, the Sutler was ever fated to get himself disliked. A boy is a
series of accidents at best. Some of the recruits in their haste to
enlist forgot to provide themselves with a girl to leave behind. Those
persons, unnerved by the bewildering entanglements of Hardee's
tactics, and with no restorative compensations, were never satisfied.
They were iron-jawed steam-talkers of calamity, perpetually assailing
the walls of rebellion with huge explosions of wrath, and the flaps of
the Sutler's tent with the roar of their grumbling. Deafening was
their clamor for some absent staple to which distance lent the
deceptive enchantment of a dining-car menu; deep their dismay that it
was not held perennially on tap. Providence, assisted by timely hints
from the wagon master, sometimes brought the supply trains within
speaking distance by flag signal. But no discoverable influence ever
succeeded in keeping a Sutler's stock up to high-water mark of
gustatory demand. And all was in the ultimate cooked down to dire
alternative of buy (or steal) and have, or do without and gnaw a file
and swear.

As a rule the radiant and responsive Sutler embarked on his voyage
militant with more or less capital and credit to back up the spirit of
acquisitiveness which possessed him with all its quenchless
inflammation. They were either his own, or that of the silent partner
who procured his appointment, mayhap a modest and mouse-colored
statesman from the remote suburbs, but whose identity was a secret
between himself and high heaven. Both capital and credit were prone to
evanescence equal to that of the pungent delicacy called quinine, sole
sworn antidote to innumerable gastric plagues. They oozed as oozed
insurgent hopes when Vicksburg fell, and the Confederacy, like the
vail of Solomon's temple, was rent in twain. A balance sheet after one
year's multiplication of tribulation, if the victim managed to survive
that long, would usually disclose, on the one side, liabilities to the
full extent of capital plus credit as aforesaid, the latter perhaps
pitted with very large small-pox scars. On the other side was an array
of dubious assets, embracing chiefly a tattered tent, a shattered
wagon and a battered team, five hundred pounds of scorned sundries,
sour and fusty, together with a fat ledger-full of "charges" against
the killed, wounded and missing, who by a mysterious fatality had been
his largest if not his only patrons. Hence this vexation that made him
say things innocent youth should not be permitted to hear. Hence those
tears, scalding even the nickel-steel armor of his cheeks. Therefore
those sobs, soulful as if wrung from the viscera of a sixteen-dollar
melodeon. Who hath hoarseness of voice? The tearful penitent afflicted
with mouth-gout and knee-failure on the morning after a debauch; he
speaks in muffled tones suggestive of a chastening headache. Who hath
redness of eyes? Surely he that tarryeth long over a Sutler's trial
balance, consecrated to the apotheosis of infinitesimals.

The Sutler was subject to a military discipline varying from the
fierce precision of a Springfield rifle to the grotesque, picturesque
and variegated eccentricities of an Austrian musket. He ranked a
trifle lower than a mule, but a fraction higher than a corporal. In
that principally, if mislaid or lost in action, he did not need to be
officially accounted for in the returns like a mule, and would have
slightly better prospects than a corporal of posthumous mutilation as
to cognomen in the telegrams. The law recognized him and orders
shielded him. That was theory. The veterans jeered at him as at the
inexpressibly uncouth antics of the drafted raw disciple; everybody
kicked and cursed and plundered him. That was practice. The difference
was palpable as a headlight scarfpin; startling as the butcher's bill
after a charge on repeating rifle pits; significant as the evolution
of a human female form divine from cowskin frock and burlap leggins of
semi-savagery to high-shouldered polka-dot robings of advanced
civilization--further exalted with a laudable ambition to improve the
breed of pug puppies.

The Sutler had no status on parade, review or inspection. In the small
tinkle and smear of preparatory smatter which preluded these symbolic
mummeries, grewsome as tableaux of Chicago option matrimony (three
years with the privilege of five), he was totally ignored. He was out
of date like the hot biscuit of our ancestors with its yellow
saleratus pungency--an auriferous bichloride of alkali. He was
forgotten; full satisfaction guaranteed. When the long wavy or
waveless tangent of bayonets, rustless or rusty as the case might be,
stood forth aligned by a tempestuous adjutant with gestures mysterious
and masonic, the unobtrusive Sutler, clothed in clouds of
invisibility, affronted no tenderness of occult proprieties by any
tangible revelation. He was out of sight, like the costumes of
Tyrolean peasantry, variegated with macaroni braidings. He was
absent, conferring perhaps with some ragged Haggard from Coxeyville;
terms private and no questions asked. When ambidextrous battalions
broke by right of companies to the rear into column, and, emulating
the conscious mastery of a Sampson hiving his mellifluous swarm in the
lion's lordly breast, swept past the statuesque chief of review with
resistless swing and strides invincible, he marched not! He sat in
seclusion like the stage manager of a bicycle tournament; he rested in
abeyance, scorched with scorn and broiling on hot epithets, in the
stratified attitude of a listener trying to hear himself cogitate; he
waited patiently, vibrating from gay to grave, from saucy to sincere;
he lingered; no presents, no flowers. When the reckless inspector
snapped hammers and jingled rammers and squinted inquisitively into
muskets' murderous mouths, our friend the Sutler, profoundly versed in
the preciousness of cautiousness, was nowhere seen. There was no
hayseed in his brain; there were no flies on his intellect. With just
enough body, perhaps, to serve as pretext for a soul to stay on
earth, his great head was crowded from pit to dome with prudence. He
had read of premature explosions and was satisfied; he had no wish to
be wounded by an accidental discharge of his duty; to him eyesight was
a poem and each finger a benediction; he was brave to recklessness,
but even his minor members were precious; he blew into no muzzles, for
safety is sweeter than fame; children half price.

The most startling of all war reminiscences perhaps was that revealed
in far northern Michigan more than twenty years after Lee's surrender.
A party of skaters built huge bonfires on thick ice and finally thawed
out an imprisoned echo of bellum days, which cried impressively with
the broad, plaintive, querulous, rebel accent of long ago: "All we
want is to be let alone!" This current Confederate shibboleth
expressed the luminous Sutler's abiding desire. Even when brass music
stormed the camp as with whiffs of canister and grape, deluging all
ears in torrents of harmonious discord, he failed to materialize.
Suspicious of invidious comparison with the bluff drum major's
majestic gorgeousness, he relieved the strain by withdrawing the
infectious pestilence of his overshadowing personality. He vanished
like a beautiful dream; relatives might call and learn something to
their advantage. There were different opinions as to his
whereabouts--but then it is difference of opinion that supports pool
rooms as well as church choirs. Concord and discord were alike
unheeded. The drum's glum rumble; the mighty trombone's round,
reechoed roar; the feeble fierceness of cracked clarionet; the hissing
tortures of the tormented horn tuned to the shrieks of lacerated
souls; the witchbroth symphony from eye of newt and nose of frog and
bar of gospel hymn that drips in blistering spirals out of
tone-shattering fifes; the ghastly ground-swell's undertone that
floats this fumid wreckage of assassinated sound upon its bleeding
bosom--all these and other aggravated vibratory horrors searched for
him vainly in the nooks and corners of a disgusted atmosphere. He was
gone; front seats reserved for friends of the family.

Hence when, if ever, the Sutler shall be monumentalized in
imperishable staff, it will be in none of those attitudes spectacular.
An attitude of watchfulness, of expectancy, of expostulation, or of
despair like one in last stages of the Baconian theory, were nearest
truth to nature. The flashing outbreaks of his fiery mind, the sorrows
of his overloaded heart, no carven stone or molded bronze can portray
to skeptical contemporaries, or transmit to an undeserving,
unbelieving posterity.

If the post of danger is the post of real honor, the Sutler has been
scandalously overlooked in all awards. His assigned position at the
rear during an advance, and in front during a retreat, fatally exposed
him to depredations of the mixed society indigenous thereto.
Encompassed with perils, a floating Atlantis mislaid in a cannibal
archipelago, his only resource was rat-eyed vigilance and
brass-breasted audacity. A recital of his exploits in defending the
citadel wherein his precious perishables lay would shine with the
story of Farragut lashed to a mast, or Hooker bombarding rainbows, a
veritable torch-light procession down the dark avenues of history.
Painting him in gaudy hues would be as unæsthetic as offering green
goggles to a Delsarte club. But a mild touch of eulogy, a harmless
ginger-pop effervescence of panegyric, may supposedly be ventured
before we throw him on the tender mercies of posterity. Would Sir
Patrick's famed toast to the "bloody 69th"--"The last in the field and
the first to leave it; equal to none!" pass muster? If so, who will
begrudge? None, we defiantly aver, unless it be some surviving
marauder, overloaded with bias and twisted with prejudice until his
withers are wrung, who once wore a half-shaved head for
Sutler-burglary, then trod the brambly path of humiliation out of camp
to the tune of "Rogue's March," while sad breezes sighed through rents
in his respectability.

What a magnificent army that was, in which we served--one of the
grandest in numerical strength, by far the grandest in its
intelligence, its achievements and its inspiration, whereof the world
holds record.

Ninus of Assyria, 2200 B. C., led against the Bactrians a force of
1,700,000 foot, 200,000 horse, and 16,000 chariots armed with scythes.

Cyrus besieged Babylon with 600,000 foot and 120,000 horse.

Italy, a little before Hannibal's time, was able to send into the
field nearly 1,000,000 men. Yet Hannibal, during his campaign in Italy
and Spain, plundered 400 towns and destroyed 300,000 people.

When Xerxes arrived at Thermopylæ his force by land and sea aggregated
2,641,610, according to Herodotus, a weighty worthy man, and worth his
weight in sesterces.

January 1, 1861, the army of the United States consisted of nineteen
regiments of all arms, numbering, present and absent, 16,402 officers
and men. From April 1, 1861, to April 28, 1865, a monthly average of
56,000 men, a large army in itself, was recruited, equipped and
supplied for the volunteer forces. At the last-named date 1,034,064
volunteers, after four years' casualties of war, were actually in the
service. From first to last 2,678,967 men were mustered in,
constituting 1,668 regiments of infantry, 232 of cavalry and 52 of
artillery--total 1,952 regiments. In three months, from May 7th to
August 7th, 1865, a total of 640,806 troops were mustered out of
service and restored to the ranks of productive citizenship. The cost
of the war to the United States government has been measured in money
at $3,963,159,751.15. The states in rebellion aggregated an area of
733,144 square miles, with 12,572 miles of navigable rivers, 2,523
miles of sea coast and 7,031 miles of inland boundary.

With these facts for a basis we may, if courageous, institute
comparisons with the great events of history. Courage is essential. A
page of fulminating statistics is as dangerous to the unwary as a
loaded gun-boat floating with the current, cocked, capped and aimed
below the water line. In a village ignorant of the science of the
division of labor, one may get his child christened by the same artist
who repaired his boots. In certain localities one may revel, so to
speak, in the enjoyments of a broad phase of humor, based on fried
onions, carbolized tar and commodities of that sort, or of a broad
plane of sociability, based on plug tobacco, pint flasks and
discussion of dog pedigrees. But in the higher realms of statistics,
and other like researches, success depends upon the cultivation of
devoted courage, courageous fortitude, and a subtle intellectuality
intricate as the distorted diagram on the face of a moss agate.

Fenimore Cooper depicts the army Sutler of the Revolutionary contest
as a woman; habitually Irish; rubicund, snuffy, blasphemous and
addicted to gin--in brief an object of charity, socially and
pecuniarily. She can be fitted out, without violence to probability,
with an eye like a cross-section of hard boiled egg, and the shallow
retreating brow of an ibex; also with cotton in her ears. Her clothing
might easily have been fished out at random from a box of
contributions to hailstorm sufferers. Her coquettish, curly locks were
doubtless of oakum texture and solferino tinge. This much is
conjectural, for when we read on and learn that she was the camp
washerwoman we abandon the pursuit forthwith. Like flowers that bloom
in the Japanese spring, she has nothing to do with the case. She
vanishes like a congressman (before the czar era) constructively
absent when a quorum is to be burst. The Sutler of our more refined
war period was of the man masculine. No woman could have filled this
requisition, even in those days of Brigham Young's multi-wife
propaganda. No woman could have fought the good fight and kept the
stock in such a crisis, even with her trousseau reduced to a calico
basis. Where languorous lilies fill the eye with beauty, let the
gentler sex abide. A woman in our Sutler's sphere would have been more
useless than the horse that sustains superannuated relations to a fire
department. She would have been more expensive than the funeral of a
deceased statesman charged to the contingent fund; more dangerous than
a damp basement. During twenty centuries, while among men the glorious
Roman has degenerated into the monkey-tamer, woman, on the contrary,
has greatly advanced. And the advanced woman has apparently come to
stay. The ethereal creature who succumbed to tight lacing has
vanished. A stronger, sterner class succeed. The manly miss comes
forward, and her demands are something sumptuous. Nothing less than
the mandarin's full yellow jacket and peacock feather will suffice.
But the most fluent champion of uplifted femininity never dared to
rise with a whir to claim this dizzy pre-eminence of a Sutlership. The
cut of her garments may be virile and chic, still she aspired not so
high. The bravest of meat-stall heroines, with slaughter-house eyes
and leaf-lard complexion, may declaim suffrage syllogisms with the
witchery of a South Missouri angel, and her young man may tear his
hair in angry anguish at the thought, but Sutlerships transcend the
ambition of both.

Of the man masculine was our Sutler. Not a woman. Neither a dude. No
gallon of gall in a plaid suit, owed for, could have endured, for one
short seething, scorching month, these multiplex ordeals of
catastrophe. At the current quadrennial round-up of aspirants, when
the internal revenue bung-smeller parades his political scars, the
dude is sometimes seen--in the Sutler's tent never. He would have
suffered all the agonies of a bullock threatened with corn-cob
strangulation, and no compensatory convictions. It were better to be
staked out in the legislative vestibule as custodian of cuspidors. We
have been generous in extending the elective franchise to naturalized
citizens and all who declare their intention to become such--probably
too generous. We have encouraged foreign nations to work off their
damaged and unsalable goods on us, in the immigrant line, as in other
lines. But we have never been cruel. We have pitied the sorrows of our
rich young man. We have certainly never been cruel enough to expose
our helpless, inferior fellow-creatures, those curled darlings of
dandydom, to vicissitudes like that of the Sutlership. That were an
infamy fit to make the green goods gouge and the gold brick trick
eminently respectable by comparison. Dudes have their function. So
have train-boys and other calamities. So have rose sherbet and chewing
gum; so have lambrequins and doilies. But not in war time. Neither
they nor any other gin-fizz effervescence of intangible ephemera.
Their fate in such surroundings would be sad as that of the tough but
meritorious army mule, who survived all war's perils, and thirty years
later shattered his hind leg, from hoof to hip, on the chin of a
traveling highwines apostle from Louisville. There was absolutely no
place for the dude in our army life. The velvet of his voice would
speedily roughen. One week of hard bread would ruin his teeth; one
day's rasp of the wind would utterly devastate his complexion. The
rural visitor who begins his city experiences by being piloted to a
bunco bank, and ends them by being piloted to a pawn-shop, would
encounter no more swift, inglorious career. The horrors of the zero
season are intensified when the man with a cold in his head insists on
discussing financial issues with us at every turn. The inconveniences
of army life were pronounced enough, as it was, without the further
infliction of the dreadful dude, in Sutler's trains or elsewhere. Nay,
verily! This small erratum of nature, this insectiverous
insignificance, had no place or function there. Heredity endowed him
with an intellect requiring a three months' vacation four times a
year, and fate left him to the full enjoyment thereof. Fortunately for
the credit of this nation the rebellion was efficiently and
sufficiently suppressed without his infinitesimal assistance.

It is a sad and significant fact that the navy had no Sutlers. The
sailors and marines missed the picturesque inspiration of his
ministering service; the exuberant and perennial freshness of his
presence; the sounding brass of his tickling symbols. Our surviving
web-footed compatriots modestly demand that due recognition be
accorded their important branch of the belligerent forces. In making
and enforcing claims to our attention, their honest clamor fills the
sea-coast air, from Greenland's icy icebergs to Charleston's shifting
sands. And they have right. Did not each base of our supplies rest on
a waterway patrolled by gunboats? Were not all our armies named from
streams along which their fraternal tin-clads trolleyed and thundered?
Was not brave Jack always ready, manning the yards, when we fell back
for reinforcements, and the like, to receive us with three cheers and
a Dartmouth yell? Did not the Monitor, that grand old frigate, without
a sail, a mast, a rope, a stem, a stern, a yardarm or a bowsprit,
steam straight into the core of our hearts, and ram her chilled steel
nostrils far and away into the realms of historic muse?

The naval veteran of to-day, working his chin industriously to keep
his teeth tight and vigorously dodging as best he may the wiles of the
world, the flesh and the politicians, complains at times that scant
allusion crops out in war reunions to episodes wherein he figures
lustrously. Here let full justice be freely done. For Farragut and
Foote and Porter, for Dupont, Dahlgren, and a hundred more, and all
their thousands of devoted, daring shipmates, let honors thicken with
the passing years, and glories brighten as the centuries roll on! The
same glad impulse burned within their breasts; the same great triumphs
gilded their endeavor. Their manners and methods differed widely from
ours, but in aim and motive we are one. It is their good fortune never
to have known how much they lost in having not the solace of the
Sutler. It was not their fault.

The young recruit, christened Zephaniah, was not responsible therefor,
because he experienced his origin at a period when he was powerless to
direct results. If good people would only learn to vote as they pray,
it might possibly be different. But let even a marine run up against a
brace game in Dead Man's Gulch, and permanent enlightenment is liable
to eventuate. And when the atmosphere of our homes grows mephitic with
the odor of satanic journalism, we may perhaps awaken to the danger of
cultivating depravities that are calculated to stimulate a boom in the
brimstone market.

Connecticut produced a learned pig which could read; New York, not to
be outdone, exhibits some educated donkeys that can write, that can
even edit newspapers, have done it, have been caught in the very act,
and, alas, seem inclined to boast of it. When such things can be, and
overcome us like a summer sunshade, why marvel that the navy had no
Sutler? If a shattered and battered son of the sea comes forward now
and then to bask in the glow of that comradeship we so fondly cherish,
let us bid him jolly welcome. In that long period which elapsed
between the dates when President Jefferson Davis was captured in
confidential costume and President Grover Cleveland escaped from the
congressional trocha, our people were steadily but very slowly growing
to an appreciation of their numerous blessings. During this period
many a stranded ex-sailor found himself filled with the vague unrest
of a rural legislator who for the first time carries a railroad pass
in his pocket. The yearning for travel was irresistable. He has thus
projected himself into the sphere of our observation as far inland as
Indianapolis or Omaha. If we have not seized the opportunity to thank
him for Hampton Roads, and Mobile Bay, and Fort Saint Phillip and
Pittsburg Landing and Fort Fisher, for New Orleans and Pensacola and
Galveston, we have ignored a binding obligation and neglected a
golden opportunity. Let us ignore, neglect no longer.

We yield him full measure of credit. We regret more than words can
express that he never enjoyed the felicity of having a Sutler. If one
were accessible he should be introduced to him, even now!

The impression which seems to be somewhat currently prevalent, in
circles usually well informed on financial topics, that many of the
largest fortunes of our present era were founded on the war-profits of
army Sutlers, is manifestly erroneous. It is at all times easier to
get poor in a minute than rich in a month, according to one of the
wise saws of the transcendental orientals. The wealthy widow who has
wasted her substance in riotous trolley parties can verify it.
Fortunes have originated in the profits of army contracts, judiciously
invested in well-slanted real estate at Pittsburg or Cincinnati. Their
inheritors have perhaps reached congress where they speak speeches
prescribed for them by a scrivener. Upon the condemned horses of the
thrifty quartermaster, or sunken cargoes of costly oats duly
accounted for by economical commissaries, mysteriously materializing
later in tangible cash, large estates have been based. They were
mostly dissipated thereafter by extensive land-purchases in remote
regions notable chiefly for a particularly brazen sky and a specially
mean annual temperature, where the prairie dog yelps to his or her
mate as the case may be, sole disturbers of all the dismal silence in
nature's vast immensity.

Even the sumptuous pay of the pampered and envied private soldiers,
the magnificent stipend of thirteen dollars a month equal to an
average of at least six dollars in the precious gold of that period,
was sometimes duly hoarded at compound interest. This, with occasional
mining stock speculations on the side, may have rolled up in the
course of a generation to that standard of affluence which glitters
with hope of dowry to dudes or alimony to divorce lawyers. Believe it
ye who can; assert it ye who dare. It would not be incredible. The
first kiss, alas! often leads to more.

Balder fictions have found credence at the chrysanthemum club, where
the lack luster eye of the effete plunger gazes into the gurgling
optic of the breadstuff debauchee, and where harvesting a royal flush
is the leading industry. Wilder improbabilities were widely swallowed
before the Russian Israelites landed on our coast and introduced their
rich nut-brown flavor to the ward caucus, together with the corrugated
spirituality of a bethel-vocalist and the vulcanized nerve of a
Tammany leader. Statements like those might pass current in village
drug stores, where streams of limpid, scented crystal burst forth from
marbleized iron fountains at five cents per burst. Rumors equally
incredible have floated around unchallenged at _recherché_ receptions
given by Mrs. Olof Swenson, of the James River Valley, S. D., to the
local colonial dames. Notwithstanding all this, such allegations as
these, with due, determined effort, might be made to harmonize with
possibility like a red cart with a sorrel mule.

But no properly fertilized intellect can ever germinate a supposition
that the rudiments of even one contemporaneous million were laid in
the career of a Sutler. A hundred shillings invested in trade will
give a man meat and wine; in acres it will give him cabbage and salt,
wrote another astute Arabian--or mayhap the same. But the Sutler trade
is a valid and visible exception, verified by experience, costly as an
Indian outbreak and conclusive as the rebound of a London free-trade
banquet in the wilds of West Virginia.

Poets of every class have license to festoon life's oasis, _et
cetera_, with platitudes and illogical assertions. But historians,
like the undersigned, must deal in fragments of the eternal verity.
Even the strawberry roan versifier of Zanesville, shouting through a
hole in his headgear, would burst his organ of ideality in the effort
to imagine heirs for the Sutler. He never gave them kingdoms or
dollars. They can not shake their crimped bangs at him and say he eats
pie with a knife, and absorbs soup with emphasis from the end of a
spoon. They can not give him the cold and gurgling laugh--he never
cultivated them beyond the radius of their capacity, and endowed them
with wealth beyond their powers of assimilation. In all the wide,
wild stretch of liars from Ananias to Zola, none will be found bold
enough to assert it.

If the descendants of the Sutler are snobs and sneaks and shams,
social swells and moral lepers, with breath sweetly perfumed and
hearts bitter as Peruvian bark tempered with aloes, they owe no part
of their equivocal character or position to the influence of wealth
derived from him, for he had none. Thus by his lack of lucre to
bequeath, he has avoided many horrible and torturing responsibilities.
For a man who has been ruined by a woman there is no law and no judge.
The inheritor of lightly won riches enters the race for success in
life with a handicap weighty as the breech of a disabled columbiad.

Gaze not upon the red rectification of the illicit still; quaff
sparingly the purple vintage of the Iowa drug store; yield not to
temptation at the stage of a game where the jack-pot boils over; drop
not your precious cash into the open palm of financial enthusiasts
whose soaring souls see cloudbursts of wealth in every fleece of
floating vapor; yield no credence to the millionaire who boasts of his
large inheritance from a Sutler's profits.

As a rallying point in battle, rivaling redans, redoubts and parapets,
rifle-pits, abattis and _chevaux-de-frise_, the Sutler's wagon has
been apostrophized in many bursts of eloquence at reunion banquets
where wit and wine flow sparkling like the dew. When thrust out
between contending armies by design or accident, that modest vehicle
became a glittering prize worth fighting for and risking amputations
for, beside which even the old flag paled for a space its ineffectual

Friends, comrades who had lived together in the little shelter tent,
slept under the same blanket, divided the scanty ration and drank from
the same canteen, rallied around its doubtful treasures with all the
swift energy of a benzine explosion. Foes, hungry as sawtooth sharks,
assailed and reassailed it, the rich fruition of their whetted
desires. Where was the hilarious Sutler then with his bluegrass
fertility of resource? Neither in that beleaguered thesaurus nor even
entrenched beneath it, you may confidingly affirm, but likeliest
from safe shelter of some commodious, commanding stump, observing the
struggle with a rural Sunday morning cheerfulness. Like George Eliot's
hero, he is lord of the moment's change and can charge it with his

[Illustration: ... _But likeliest from safe shelter of some
commodious, commanding stump, observing the struggle with a rural
Sunday morning cheerfulness_]

The rich man unlearned in logic hires logic in form of a lawyer to
prove anything it is profitable to have proven. So a Sutler, destitute
of arms, knows that his armed compatriots will rescue his appetizing
goods from the enemy's most ferocious onslaughts, howbeit but to be
skinned and skimmed by themselves next moment before his
horror-smitten face, with comments recordable only in violation of
several salubrious enactments for the suppression of blasphemy.

Perhaps tradition has been too caustic or too facetious in its
treatment of the unarmed soldiers who honored us with their
comradeship--the chaplain, the surgeon and the Sutler. Of the army
preacher, who filled his sacred office worthily as many did, let due
and reverent acknowledgment be made, in grateful memory of benignant
functions purely administered; "the gowned goslings, who were goslings
before they were gowned," let us in mercy and in pity commit to the
tenderness of eternal silence. The typical army doctor was skillful,
devoted, brave and self-sacrificing; at the front amid the blaze and
storm of battle; in the rear wrestling with festering wounds or
wasting fevers and contagions; everywhere his welcome, hopeful
features beamed in gracious blessing on us at our sorest need, and
each of us who lives to-day can name the surgeon to whom that life is
due. Even the Sutler, of whom we have been treating subjectively and
perhaps too unceremoniously herein, when reduced to his objective
individual status, has often supplied material for illustrating the
highest grade of patriotic heroism. The Sutlership was an agency not
devoid of utility, not without the noblest possibilities, by no means
unworthy of honor. Let no poet of the war, sitting in the refreshment
of the foliage of his phrases and sipping the coolness of the gases of
his gall, dare ignore these patent, blatant truths of history. Or if
he do, let him be doubly and trebly ware! It is certain that enough
scattered, incontrovertible, granite bowlders of fact lie snugly
imbedded in the conglomerate of fancy, to roll forward at the final
round-up and everlastingly necropolize him.

Where is the Sutler now? Vanished from our ken and beyond all cavil

History has few parallels to this absolute obliteration of a species.
The bronzed old admiral emeritus is still extant, with tar on his heel
and salt in his eyebrows. Generals in active service thread the
German's mazes, agile as when in slim-waisted cadet days they paced
flirtation walk, in all the pomp and circumstance of glorious gray.
The retired list, infallible patent of longevity, lifts high its proud
engrossment of venerable colonels and brigadiers, spattered at times
with ill-flavored congressional epithets and blown about by every
breeze of statesmanship, but yielding still its liberal monthly
stipend; there too the Sutler's brief, broad, brambly service is
unrecognized. The village boaster boasteth still his grand exploits
as the sunset of life crowns a mystical bore. But no Sutler is here or
there discerned.

Our pension rolls bear names scarce short a million, but his holds
there no objurated blazonry. Myriads of veterans luxuriate in
soldiers' homes, but in none of them does he, lingering and voluble,
saturated with _vis inertia_, shoulder a crutch and tell how money
never is but always to be won. When hale campaigners meet at
non-intoxicating suppers where the cheers are not inebriated, and
point to themselves with pride (who dare gainsay their right?), his
place is but a yawning vacancy. River pilots of the war era, St. Vitus
stricken from dodging guerrilla buckshot, have coveted the Grand Army
badge; sons of sanitary heroes and of honorable women not a few have
pleaded for the Loyal Legion's perquisites vicarious; but no residual
Sutler, nor the lineal progeny thereof, draws drafts like these on
honor's ample funds. Hence there is no Sutler left, q. e. d. He never
got left--the good die young.

Seek ye his obituary in the thin cold records of the alms-house. Find
his flat or sunken resting place in crowded silences of Potter's
fields and be therewith content. He has passed in his "checks." He
lives now only as a fond and fragrant memory.



Lustrous among war's unfading reminiscences shines the contour of the
Shelter Tent. It lingers in memory, unique and delectable, dissimilar
but equivalent to our ideal of those fringed silken pavilions wherein
apoplectic despots of the orient air their scandalous magnificence
amid the frockless squalor of their cringing hordes.

The Shelter Tent was a supplement to the original scheme for putting
down the rebellion--a fact, as it were, _dehors_ the record. Only
after Bull Run and Shiloh and Antietam and Iuka was the government
nerved to the point of requiring its soldiery to shoulder their
houses like mollusks, and thus relieve the tuneful, uncomplaining mule
of a sore responsibility.

This was an innovation whose dam was Necessity, and whose sire was
held to be some emissary of Satan, with an unearned increment of
prestige in the counsels of Halleck, general-in-chief, so-called. It
was evolved as the molecule evolves protoplasm and from a plastic cell
developeth primordial germs. Versatile scorners, voluble as advocates
of artesian irrigation, promptly scheduled its pedigree for
generations up and down. Minutest of constructed residences for living
humanity, save perhaps the half-credible tub of tough Diogenes, it won
a way into our reluctant liking that vindicates its title to
consideration among the factors of ultimate victory. You may pay the
doctor to diagnose and also to prescribe, but you must subsidize the
pharmacist before relief is possible.

Most portable of mundane mansions, its very littleness relieved the
situation of numberless infelicities,--specifically, of servitude to
servants, whether apple-cheeked daughters of Denmark, or
saddle-colored Cantonese with eyes cut bias and a Pacific Mail subsidy
lingo not on speaking terms with veracity. Likewise other infelicities
which relegate housekeeping to the level of a cantharides blister, and
which make court corridors ring with the battle-cry for freedom
shouted by luckless suitors who married in haste to repent at Sioux

The Shelter Tent of the war for the Union, so waged, as
aforementioned, is said to have been a French device. We shall
introduce no evidence in rebuttal. It was unquestionably steeped to
the hem in martial economics. It was calculated to rob a miser of all
that life holds dear. The force of dire frugality could no step
farther go. In the multitude of counselors there is distraction, for
existence, like a court-house, is full of trials. But all agree on
this question of economy. We lead the world, but the French lead us in
these little every-day parsimonies. It was cheap but grand. Beecher
once asserted that flowers are the grandest things God ever made
without putting an immortal soul into them. Beecher had evidently at
that time never treated his optic nerve to a vision of the useful,
unobtrusive Shelter Tent.

Woven of white cotton spun to fascine rigidity, sometimes
gutta-perchaed to counterscarp imperviousness, its flat measurement
but squared an average soldier's stature. When the whirl of recoil
developed into a torrent of flight, it was scarcely classed with

A weed is said to be only a plant whose uses have not yet been
discerned. This square of cotton was to the unsophisticated military
discernment first a weed, then a spear, then a full-grown corn in the
ear--yea, verily! shelled and in the sack, distilled and in the
cut-glass decanter, with accessories duly accessible.

Styled "tent" in the sardonic nomenclature of our nomadic days, it was
in sober verity a wrap, a cape, a kirtle or a poncho, which only by
connected duplication and reduplication came within the pale of that
sonorous title. Only ten men are permitted to exist on earth at once
competent to read and understand Plato. Thus precious is equilibrium
in a world where the fragment of a donkey jaw has slain thousands.
Fewer doubtless would divine at first blush how a square of cotton
fabric, set down one side with buttons and holes to match cut
opposite, could suffice for each warrior's allotment of habitation in
embryo. Still fewer would devise, until Necessity, doting maternal
ancestor of rarest constructive genius, came to compel, the forms and
structures of abode that lay susceptible within that so innocent
appearing segment of a textile web, white, friendly and tractable.
Thus history goes on, dancing through the airy nothingness of
experiment, dainty as a harebell, graceful as a fawn.

Of what the Shelter Tent had and had not, commended curiosity makes
now minute interrogation. It had neither veranda nor portico; if
offenses must come, woe to them whereby. No latticed porchway tempted
humming birds to linger in its honeysuckle haunts. The bay-window that
biteth like a serpent and stingeth like a cactus when the bill comes
in, was conspicuously non-existent. Its architectural flippancies were
few indeed. No fluted town hall pillars nor St. Gauden's
blush-promoting statuary decorated its blameless exterior, either for
botch or betterment. No black closets fanged with sharp hooks and
breathing pestilent mustiness lurked in its dreadful depths,
threatening to precipitate a ministerial crisis around the conjugal

The man of far western enterprise, who goes forth with nothing but a
few ounces of salt in one hand and a halter in the other to a career
of sudden and certain prosperity, would sneer at a plan for his rustic
villa of content so void of all embellishment. The rampant eastern
egotist, saturated with profound, uncanny mysticism, would echo the
supercilious sentiment.

Guiltless of tapestry, even of paper tattooed into isosceles triangles
or fretted with peafowl tintages, were its walls. Nay, vetoed were
walls indeed, save when some mad riot of sumptuousness inspired an
imitation of "society"--that medley of metaphysics and flirtations, of
fashion, vanity, jealousy, altruism, rheumatism and gastronomy which
is principally intent on beating tom-toms and dodging jim-jams. Then,
hoisted above its normal altitude, like sliding roof of clover rick, a
rough joinery of boards or logs or turf, breasted it up four-square to
all the gusts of Boreas and the moral agencies of southern Arkansaw.

No door-plate shimmered, purporting, in gothic undecipherables gnarly
as Pharaoh's lean kine, to name the occupant. Good cause, forsooth;
none better! No door, on which a faintest shimmer could be hung,
graced the wide frontal vacancy. Who entered here, though his brow
were tall and his spirit strong, left his _bon-ton_ behind. Style,
root of much heart-break and hen-peck, was smitten as by the stony paw
of a sphinx. Fit symbols of existence in this pretenseless home were
the broken column and the gates ajar.

Destitute also was the Shelter Tent of the pompous excrescence of
chimneys, and their accessories,--of the parlor mantel, laden with
sea-shells and aconite pellets,--of the stove in the guest chamber,
voluble in prophecies of smokeless combustion, unhopeful as the
courting of a grass-widow with an inchoate right of dower to forty
acres of swamp land in a school section,--of the hanging book-shelf,
heavy with dull fiction and smeared with poetical syrup. No chimney
was there to witness the woes of perplexed Santa Claus. No chimney was
there to gaze with wide-eyed wonder on the tragedy which ensues when
Uncle Reuben blows out the gas. No chimney was there, with open gusty
grate, more dreary than the lignite desolation of the bad lands.

Minus likewise were chandeliers, with their brazen sheen,--mementos of
dismal experience with colicky infants at paregoric time,--mementos of
sweltering social hilarity, when perspiration is unconfined and heels
smite corns on toes that groan again,--mementos of genteel functions,
where pink and purple ice cream circulates at par, and French-plate
diamonds flash on palpitating bosoms perilously exposed to the

Chandeliers were extinct and non-existent. Candles stuck in bayonets
sufficed. There was light enough for a nightly prosecution of the
poker industry and for overproduction of the chestnut crop. And even
after taps, when utter darkness reigned, there was no danger of
bumping one's head against the upper berth.

No walls of partition parceled off the Shelter Tent into spaces
conventionalized to pecular functions. Aristocracy of exclusion and
seclusion there were none, but broad and limpid democracy of exposure
to all curiousness, though searching as croton oil. Hence
drawing-room, boudoir and kitchen, oratory, refectory, and lavatory
were all in one. But only in alternation, since the contracted area
precluded simultaneousness as well as latitudinarianism. There was no
disgraceful scramble for the apartment with southern exposure and all
modern conveniences. There was little risk of bringing a blush of
modesty to the veteran's bronzed and massive cheek. Partitions would
have been useless as a pop factory in the bluegrass region. Each
tenant was the peer in imperturbability of a male divorcee in
Connecticut, digging clams to earn alimony.

Area was not its boast. A well equipped farm on the Little Missouri is
said to consist of a due allowance of sunny sky, a pair of bob-sleds
and a gopher hole. There naturally prevail the financial views which
demand a currency based on pig-iron, short-ribs, hoop-poles and wheat

No lightning-rod adorned its frowning pediment, lank and fatiguing
reminder of Ben Franklin,--thrifty printer,--and his kite, such as
never was before in air or tree; also of the glib and evanescent
vendor whose monopoly of all fascinations was only equaled by his
absolute prostration of all moral attributes. That convoluted metallic
insufficiency thrust not its aluminum barb above the crest of this
domicile, like a reed shaken by the wind, mute witness to each passer
of the owner's sweet credulity.

Trifling in weight, as was each segment of the Shelter Tent,
unappreciable addition to individual burden, and willingly borne for
the increased facility and certainty of bivouac, the aggregate relief
to the department of transportation was like shriving a bad man's
conscience of crime or lifting a fear from a coward's soul. The
reduction of regimental trains from thirteen wagons to three was as
efficient in ultimate results as the withdrawal of guards from
confederate poultry-coops and the obliteration of zouave jackets;
possibly more so.

The Shelter Tent was the after-glow of an understudy, so to speak, but
it was a potent helper in the grand tragedy. It came into war annals
greeted with a welcome warm as that vouchsafed on election night to
the missing precinct that brings the necessary majority. This welcome
was tendered when use brought due appreciation of its value, not
earlier. Its original introduction was as sensational as when John
Barleycorn comes to town, and brings his blizzard with him. Its first
arrival met with jeers; with hot reviling; with barkings imitative of
indignant dog, or brayings as of disgusted donkey; with cursings such
as tear the curser's lungs to ragged tatters; with mellowing miracles
of profanest speech, horizonless trans-continental sentences of words
hurled endlong, overthwart, each word a stab or blister; with mutiny
and riot ludicrous to recall. But all in vain. Reeking language, that
put immortal souls in peril, availed nothing.

The Shelter Tent came for use, and it came to stay. Orders were
imperative and discipline was supreme. Jeering, barking, braying,
cursing, rioting were as futile as the purr of a Vassar kitten at the
advent of a long-haired æsthete, wearing an air of discontent and a
coat with efflorescent elbows.

It was prescribed and issued. The average visitor to Washington is
welcomed to his nation's proud capital with loud acclaim by the hack
fiend and the hotel runner, both Afro-American. The Shelter Tent was
welcomed with corresponding warmth, as aforesaid, when its utility
began to materialize. Out into the pink and pearl of morning sunshine,
or into a sour, dreary, morning drizzle, step from it the tentmates of
a night's camp. They were proud as the Jerseyman who boasts his
descent "from the family of Smith-Smiths, connected by a syphon." They
were free from the proverbial weary, next-morning-condition of civil
life, for sleep profound had knitted up the raveled stocking heel of
care. Each carried a moiety of homestead folded in the knapsack
strapped to his stalwart form, and stepped out with a sublime song of
triumph on his lips and in his heart. Each carried his own house. He
also laughed at his own jokes with a loud tenor tone. Marvel of more
than this marvelous facility of home-shifting was our inimitable
volunteer. He bore constantly also his year's wardrobe and his week's
provender, toothsome (though less tender) as planked whitefish from
the cold and classic Assiniboin. Likewise, his drink, his tools
tonsorial, manicurial and dentifric, such as fate vouchsafed and
regulations permitted. In addition he bore his bed, his financial
capital and surplus, his arsenal of projectiles, his weapons of
offense, his instruments of torture, and his implements of toil.
Strength considered, no pack-horse carried a weightier lading, and yet
the soldier was denied the dull, dumb creature's exemption from
rational accountability.

Thus freighted with belligerent melange the mobilized veteran marches
all day, with his thinking bayonet at his side, his logical musket on
his shoulder, and his profane vocabulary held in measurable
subjection, the nominative agreeing with the verb occasionally by

On through hot and bitter limestone dust that blanches all his
cuticle, then reddens eyes and nose and mouth with unsanctified
inflammation. On through floundering quagmires of yellow mud that
settles into slush, then slumps into slime; vivid parallel to the
moral collapse of a white-souled commissary warmed by beams of
opportunity and trodden by hoofs of temptation.

On through heat excruciating or cold unendurable; through rain, sleet,
hail,--storm's dread alternations of discomfort,--all the lengthening
day, his trousers shrinking to knee-pants as he trudges along. On,
footsore and halting, each nerve a roadway for pain's burning steps,
each bone racked with rheumatic twinges, until night brings the
limping turnpike tourist to a welcome resting-place.

The bivouac then, and full-orbed glory of the Shelter Tent! Matchless
for adaptation, it is pitched as soon as ranks are broken. The
landscape whitens with swift magic like a Monday's clothes-line
billowy with confidential raiment. The tentmates join the sundered
segments, and with sticks or stalks or poles, or, lacking these, with
bayonet and gun and ramrod, lift the flexile sheet to the required
angle, and lo! their dwelling stands confessed; no spectacular
monstrosity, but compact, cleanly and stylish as a salad dressed in

Hasty, most hasty, also of formalities and frills devoid, the varied
events which thereupon eventuate. The search for wood and water,
energetic as the pace of reckless engineer, who goes by the meeting
point at a mile and a half a minute calling for more steam. The
ablutions, rich in doleful reminiscence of rare and radiant days at
home when the brow was wiped with cabbage leaves or cotton waste;
vivid with memories of the printing-house towel that hangs by the

The cooking simple and savory; the cook with a look of far-away
Georgia in his face, across whose peaceful breast salt waves of
trouble roll, but from whose humble lips no back-talk comes. The
mastication, almost as irritating as classical music, save as spiced
with time-honored facetiæ wrested from some wrecked parthenon;
long-distance jokes that would bore easily through an inch plank and
kill at random.

Drinking straight and plain from the flat but priceless old canteen,
out of whose limpid depths, with a gurgling capacity of one miner's
inch per second, are drawn exhaustless liquid refreshments that shame
the isles of Greece, the hills of Spain, the purple heaven of
Rome,--in dreams thou livest on! Above all, post-prandial exercise of
dry dishwashery with a chip, exuding bicarbonate of turnpike dust; one
touch of water makes the whole camp grin.

Then comes, with briefest interlude for rest, or recreation, or
knocking out spot after spot of the decalogue on the sly, swift
preparation for the few, short hours of nocturnal repose; profound as
a policeman with clews to a stabbing mystery; dreamless as some
cold-sliced fragment of the long ago, sitting passionless through
chasing, racing ages. Tentmates are nervous with the fatigues of march
and nettlesome as bibulous companions in civil life, who quarrel about
trifles slight as hair; then settle their quarrels over a round of the
rosy; and finally quarrel afresh as to who shall liquidate for the

The night may be moonlit, starry, glum as a ghoul, dark as black
bullocks of Galloway, or terrible with thunder-bursts and drenching
rains and blowing of great guns. Valor is an indeterminate essence; at
times the essence will ooze; much depends on the status; few men are
supremely valorous in the dark.

Plato considered that woman was intended to do the same things as man,
only not so well. It is currently suspected, however, that women can
fight better than their brothers in that grewsome darkest hour which
just precedes the dawn, when so many attacks are planned which mostly
fail. Exceptions should possibly be noted in favor of the emancipated
female trotting out of her class; specially against the timid man who
has been dragged all night over loose stones, at the tail of a wild

Sleep comes at last, and the camp sounds lull, not startle; peaceful,
innocent, harmless as the fresh-laid humorist pleading for a little
more civilization among the higher classes. Soporific is the sentry's
slow, reluctant Amsterdam tramp, as he strides, bemoiled by the long
day's detritus, wrapped mostly in the wailing winds; also the electric
interurban symphony of snorings manifold, which care not one coreless
clam what nationality stands guard to-night; the weird signals of the
fond melodious mule struggling with anchylosis of thoracic
articulation, and betimes bursting into an effort that saturates seven
cubic miles of atmosphere with familiar mule music in seventeen
seconds; the melancholy squeak of a belated sutler's wagon, grinding
out its assent to the maxim that a linch-pin in time saves an axle;
the hoot of a discontented owl in branches not remote; the howl of
expostulatory cur in distant farm-yard; the intercepted shriek of far
off poultry, prey of some army prowler who strews the ground with
severed heads and hot red spurts of gore.

Soporific is all this medley of celluloid resonance; softer than the
first symptoms of velvety resistance on a youth's lip; smoother than
the etiquette of a square meal at a round-table; provocative all of
serenest, soundest sleep, until joyless reveille shall come, summoning
from iridescent dreams to another day of inglorious unromantic
toiling--double column at half distance and then double distance on
half rations.

Through long, drowsy summer afternoons comes luscious _deshabille_ of
relaxation, born of an assured half-week's unthreatened encampment
serenity. Then the _recherché_ loungers in the Shelter Tent, clinking
their useless double-eagles together with capitalistic nonchalance,
revel in tutti-frutti visions of banished splendors and foresworn
delights. Those bright single-gold-standard days haunt us still, with
the persistence of a sixty winter damsel in her frosty bloom. The
cribbed and coffined quarters expand into peopled vistas of epicurean
magnificence, elusive and deceptive as a tax on dinner pails. Therein
the mirage of gorgeous furnishings alternates or mingles with the
phantasm of delicate potables, with a bewildering miscellaneousness
that recalls Agassiz's dictum on the impossibility of reconciling
American stratifications.

Throw physic to the dogs--they need thinning out anyhow, but preserve
your hallucinations; four generations of gentility are required to
produce a boy without freckles. P. S. Give the negro a chance! Eighty
generations barely sufficed to evolve a white man capable of inventing
the postage stamp. Just four hundred years were occupied by the whites
in conquering the Indians, with the powerful aid of rum, gunpowder and
Indian agents.

As we remarked, the furnishings of these visions were extremely
gorgeous. Cashmere, Bokarra and Khivan rugs bespread the marqueterie
floors. Also, delicate the potables. Ragouts, chow-chow, dinde glacé,
truffles, soquille, sorbot, terrapin, sauterne, cognac and extra dry
cover the beckoning tables; nectar, nectar everywhere and every drop
imbibable. Imported, perhaps, through Signor Sp. Frumenti, of Genoa.

Behold priceless bijoux of Louis Quinze,--buhl, Sèvres, Limoges,
Dalton, and Royal Vienna; treasures of ormolu and ivory, and Carrara;
wonders of faience and Satsuma; quaint carvings from Padua, Tokio,
Delhi and Antwerp, in ebony or sandal or teak or immemorial oak! All
for ornament rather than utility, like the ears of a mule which have
been stationed too far in front for wings, and too high up for
fly-scares. Here are poems in brass, anthems in eternal bronze,
pastorals in Dresden, mythologies in the grinning idols of Cathay,
miracles in Gobelin and Daubisson; relics of the by-flown, fly-blown
past, before the great, red dragon of Wall street had been hatched and

There are scimiter and falchion from the days of Lionheart, inwrought
with golden arabesque by fezzed wizards in Teheran. There are
poniards, it may be, reviving proud, glad, gladiatorial days, when
men were muscled like the brawny, aged hen. They fought with bloody
bludgeons long and well; or with sharp rapier carved the lion's liver
from his agile frame, while smiling beauty munched the Roman caramel
and saw with tearless lid the brave ones sink beneath hard blows more
deadly than the modern pie.

Here swing hangings more valued than jewels; silk woven in the
caliphs' harems; yellowing marvels of Chantilly; glowing glories of
Corot and Daubigny, Gérôme, Vibert, Meissonier, Millais or
Rembrandt--unequaled as to flesh tints; superior even to most chromos.

Ah, yes! Roast venison, fried chicken, stuffed oysters, broiled
lobster, sausage with sauerkraut, beefsteak and onions on the half
shell. The mills of the cooks grind slowly, but they grind, even
though their recipes be less intelligible than the personal
recollections of a giraffe.

All these things float and allure and dazzle and tempt in the soaring
fancy of the dilettante militant, who is lifted from a deep dark
Hamlet melancholy to semi-celestial altitudes. But a drum-tap or a
horse-neigh brings him down with a dull thud to the cramped coarse
environment where he is tethered like an uneasy Indian restricted to a
mental reservation. Blessed is the voluptuousness of reverie; blessed
and cheap as an expectant clothier's greeting, while he pauses
ecstatically for an appropriate smile; blessed and safe as flirting by
telephone with a centripetal divinity at the exchange, sweet-voiced,
invisible and anonymous; blessed but unsatisfying as a tariff reform
bill stuffed with local concessions.

From roseate fantasy to grim realism is a tumble sharp and sudden to
the dreamer in the Shelter Tent.

His ormolu and bijoutry consist of a deformed pocket mirror and a
foreshortened pipe black as bombazine grief. His floor is honest old
earth, rugless, plankless, naked as a marble Venus and cold as New
England culture.

His decorated couch of down and carved mahogany, ebony inlaid, is
superseded by a blanket and six fence-rails--rails quilled with
keen splinters like the frightful porcupine; blanket harboring fecund
colonies of that fraternal insect whose tentacles are inextricably
entangled with every shuddering recollection of army vicissitudes;
inescapable, inexpungable, yet nameless here forever more.

[Illustration: ... _Blessed is the voluptuousness of reverie, blessed
and cheap as an expectant clothier's greeting, while he pauses
ecstatically for an appropriate smile_]

His dresser of polished green malachite, silver-trimmed, shrinks to a
surreptitious cracker-box hiding certain confiscated edibles for which
some adjacent smoke-house holds a yawning vacancy, while Rachel weeps
for her turkeys and refuses to be comforted because they were shot.

In the said cracker-box, like a jewel in a toad's tooth, we may also
find all that can legitimately represent in fact the figments of our
hero's appetizing hallucinations, the customary ration of his daily
gulp and growl. Here is hard, hard bread, stamped B. C., so dry that
age can not wither it nor bicuspid masticate; acrid and bellicose
pork, premonitory of thirst and tapeworm, rich in albuminates, but
utterly poverty-stricken as to savor, odor and social status. Here is
raw beef from the east rump of a most attenuated anatomy, doubtful as
the welcome of an uninvited visitor; sufficient unto the soup is the
toughness thereof, no less.

The uses of venerable and ubiquitous hard-tack were as numerous as
they were suggestive. Its presence in all emergencies was one of the
mysteries of the eternal law of supply and demand, one of the grand
consummations and compensations of the art of war. In its natural
state it was dry, flinty, tasteless and juiceless, but stored as full
of nutriment as a serenade of musty eggs and flagrant onions is
stuffed with archaic perfumes. Smashed into chiplets with a hammer,
moistened to pulpiness in cold water, fried in pork fat and served
hot, it was dubbed "slumgullion." Pounded to gritty dust, reduced to
thick dough with warm water, seasoned with salt and pepper and baked
in thick cakes, it became fit ambrosia for the sages of the ages and
was known as "Son-of-a-gun." Burned to a crisp, boiled in water, and
eaten with a spoon it was as thoroughly disguised as odorless whisky
or smokeless tobacco, in the soubriquet "gum chowder."

In combination with green apple fricasse, chicken stews, fresh pig
roasts, and other sequestered interludes of commissariat anomalistic,
it grew toothsome, ingenious, diversified. It was withal as acceptable
to the muscular appetites of voracious young warriors as was a drafted
man's certificate of exemption based on intermittent cramps in the
stomach and a devout devoted mother-in-law dependent on him for

Here are the small white beans, anhydrous, true angel food, beloved of
cherubim, immortalized in song, theme of interminable romance, most
potent, grave and carbo-hydrate provender, seductive as a jack-pot,
and satisfying as a high-church wedding service to a middlings
purifier heiress; here, also, the indispensable coffee, and sugar
wherewith it shall be confected, twin relics of homeland, sole
reminder of hearthstones _ante bellum_. Here is rice, nourishing to
Buddha and Confucius, redolent of joss-house and bungalow, chief of
staff of the life of languid anthropophagi.

Here are desiccated vegetables; culmination of humiliation to nostril
and stomach; a cross between counter-irritant and disinfectant;
plausible as an argument for free raw material. Likewise concentrated
milk, Queen Anne style; acidulated in the thunder-storms of centuries;
more mysterious than the doctrine of dynamics to a colored youth
gorged with clandestine watermelon. Also "rations" of soap of a
retiring early disposition; facing a condition, not a theory; compost
of refuse alkaline and oleagenous, but with soaring spirit of the army
mule stowed in a steamer's hold until he soaks the air with sounds of
remonstrance, kicks the rivets from the boiler and goes aloft with the

Moreover, all the frugal condiments and seasonings which, like timely
words in a hot dispute, act chemically and precipitate the
sediment--all these made lawful by the Articles of War and acts
thereto amendatory. All these this shaky, unassuming cracker-box,
chief of the snuggery's appointments, foremost in furnishing the
Shelter Tent, doth garner and conceal with more than sealing-wax
fidelity. Upon it rest the empty haversack, the dry canteen, the waist
belt, bayonet scabbard, gunsling, and like _et cetera_ of unused
accoutrement, terrible to the turbulent classes, sharing their owner's
earned and relished respite.

These aforesaid articles, together with a valuable collection of
narrow escapes, constituted his tabulated assets, including capital,
surplus and undivided profits. By reason of wealth he would not have
been like the camel debarred from threading the needle's eye. But he
was happy, nevertheless; happy as the free laborers who proudly wear
untaxed overalls woven in foreign parts, and socks from the isles of
the sea.

The Shelter Tent was not immortal, at least in the concrete. Neither
was its occupant, howsoever swollen in the pride of his heart and
other viscera over the sacredness of his cause and the splendor of his
triumph. If immortality is to be achieved for the tent, the pen of
history or the still small penetrating voice of tradition must be
detailed for that duty. The Bengal tiger must not mew like inferior
families of the felidæ, but here were a theme worthy the stanchest
bard that glooms beneath the shining stars.

The texture of the Shelter Tent, though rivaling a corrugated copper
casket as moisture proof, was far from indestructible. Worn to
windowed raggedness was its final aspect, slashed, punched,
shot-holed, and abraded, but faithful and useful to the end. Scorched
also it may be, begrimed and soiled, march-stained and battle-singed,
linked to its primal whiteness only as the vestal virgin of the
Cuthead Sioux tepee is to her star-eyed Athenian prototype.

No matter. The cause in which its beauty and strength were expended
was richly worth this, and all the infinitely more precious cost. We
rejoice to believe that the events we commemorate were the ushering in
of a millennial epoch in human history. We stand, as it were, wrapped
still in obscurities, when a moonless night studded with glints of
silver wears toward its end and the horizon of the favored east
flushes with first promise of approaching day. Vague outlines of
distant summits marshal themselves against the brightening azure, and
soon flashes of crimson and purple playfully chase each other up to
the silent zenith. Shafts of unutterable splendor begin to shoot
through all the pulsing atmosphere, thrilling awakened nature with
reviving life, a harbinger of coming glory.

And when earth has been clothed with magnificence for his royal
appearing, the sun himself wheels up from the nether deep, thus
heralded and attended with all due pomp of an unchallenged majesty.
His affluent beams pour in molten cascades down the revealed gorges;
they gild and glorify clustered pinnacles; they awake into sparkling
greenness the pine-clad slopes, and flame into burning scarlet on
banks of hidden bloom. Then rising higher with the mists of morning
still enrobing him, while hymning echoes of aroused animation fill the
air, he proudly, grandly marches up the sky--more grandly than any
monarch who ever trod the world's stately palaces and commanded the
homage of a prostrate throng. Even thus we fondly believe our dawning
will brighten into perfect day.

Even thus the sun of our consummated civilization will rise and shine.
The hues that beautify and not the heat that withers will be in his
glow. And on dissolving storm clouds of a bitter bloody past, he will
paint the rainbow of an abiding pledge, that government of the people,
for the people, by the people shall not perish from the earth.

The war for the Union, with all its majestic pageantry, is a thing of
the distant past. But its events have plucked the shining years they
gilded, even from this wondrous century, and molded them into a beacon
for ages yet to come. Let veterans rejoice in their honorable relation
to those events, and cherish with pride their sacred recollections.
Among these recollections is that of the contracted habitation,
grander in its humility than a palace imperial, which domiciled a
patriotism that was stainless and a heroism that was sublime, the
useful, modest, unappreciated Shelter Tent. It went with the heroes of
the war for the Union, through all their vivid experiences, as they
marched and camped and fought and conquered. They were the heroes of
the war, the heroes of the age.

They marched through deep wildernesses and across rough mountain
ranges; through stony paths that grilled their ankle bones, and
freezing creeks that chilled their shoulder blades with a glacial
emulsion; through fruiting farmsteads with broad avenues of maple,
beech and oak; through beckoning orchards reddened for the clutch of
hungry hands.

They marched through burning sands or stifling limedust white as
shredded alkali; through shoreless mud, black, yellow, red or gray,
tough, tender, slushy or plastic, but always tenacious as Arabic gums.

They marched through settlements of frowning, hostile, alienated
countrymen, with a dagger in each frown and a stab in every stare,
toward the embattled hosts of a rebellious confederacy fiercely armed
for the conflict against right and light. They marched through
ignorance and barbarism and instruments of cruel bondage; through the
snap of the lash and the sizz of the branding iron; through writhing
iniquities and paths piled high with iron chains; through city streets
and country roads; through horrid prison pens, o'er bloody
battle-fields, past pyramids of skulls,--up to the shining heights of

They camped in cottonfield and canebrake; in groves of magnolia and
myrtle; in still forests where jack-pots were juicy; in flowering
suburbs where sweet hams blossomed in the smoke-house and fat turkeys
ripened in the open air; on the levees of murmuring rivers and the
shores of the tossing sea.

They camped on plantations and left them desolate, where their
devouring camp-fires and their patriotic appetites wrought piteous
ruin through wide landscapes of fertile plenteousness.

They camped in shelter tents of microcosmic cut and altruistic design;
in huts composite, whereof logs, brush, mud, boards and straw in
varying proportions furnish the picturesque materials; or, tentless,
hutless, houseless, lay exposed to visits from alleged pearly dew and
so-called crystal raindrops, winked at all through the long
night-watches by the shimmering stars.

They camped in barracks grimed with the smoke and smear of previous
occupants, who departing left behind them sociable swarms of their
closest friends, ready to extend from every crack and crevice an
incisive welcome; in bastioned forts, constantly exposed to imminent
explosions from burrowing enemies, hilarious in undiscoverable tunnels
far below. They camped with controversial comrades loaded on all
topics from justification by faith to the cremation of garbage; with
comrades wearing periodically the outward and visible signs of an
inward and spirituous exhilaration, to whom all paths of glory lead
but to the grass, and whose nocturnal slumbers yield a resonance with
terror-smiting combination of college yell and Indian war-whoop.

They camped unwelcome amid prejudices and hatreds inveterate; amid
revilings incessant and intense; exposed to sneers in which the curled
lip of beauty impinged against a nose sniffing with scorn; but they
camped to stay, and they dispensed with welcome, as with other
comforts and luxuries multifold. The swelling chorus of their war
songs rent the sky, like the long, loud shout of jubilee which rises
when sundry millions of citizens, who have not dined regularly under a
revenue tariff regime, have tardily come to their senses, and voted
for three square meals a day.

Their morning drum-beat belted the continent from the Atlantic to the
Rocky mountains with one continuous strain of joyous reveille. Their
evening dress parades were a spectacular divertisement, impressing on
daily thronging thousands enlarged views of the power and dignity of
invincible America.

Their bugle calls ring through the air to-day awakening in our hearts
echoes tuneful as the song of triumph on the lips of cherubim.

They fought the aged, ancient mildews of a hideous past, and fused one
whole new, glad, golden century of effort and aspiration into a short
four years of matchless achievement. They fought against grievous
error for the eternal truth, with a snow-bird-on-ice coolness, a
Scotch-Irish firmness and the zeal of a cuckoo congressionalist.

On land and sea they fought the battles of humanity and posterity and
an immeasurable destiny. They fought giants who out-bunioned Bunyan,
and antedated Dante--veritable giants of the pit, with thorny tongues
and blazing eyes, welded Apollyon and megatherium. They fought against
bayonets and bullets; against grape and shell; against howitzers and
columbiads; against turrets and torpedoes; against sabres and carbines
perversely aimed at their most vunerable points; against breast-works
and rifle-pits bristling with sharpened steel. They fought across
enfiladed valleys hissing with hot death-bolts and red with volcanic
wrath; up rugged hillsides crested with flames of hell.

They overcame armed rebellion and won a glorious peace. They conquered
those who tore down the flag, and they lifted it to a peerless
exaltation, where earth's admiring peoples may draw inspiration from
its radiant splendor.

They gained a victory so consummate, so complete, so irrevocable, so
incontestable, that they condoned rebellion, and cordially welcomed
back the culprits to a share in governing the nation they had fought
to destroy. They conquered slavery with its multiples of horror. They
conquered ignorance and hatred and oppression, and opened all the land
to the sunbeams of modern enlightenment.

They conquered navies and armies, generals and admirals, seaports and
citadels and capitals, senates and cabinets and presidents.

They conquered deathless fame for their grand pantheon of heroes, and
garlands dewy with the freshness of a fadeless love for unnamed
millions who wore the loyal blue.

They conquered the hearts of generations yet to come, to whom their
suffering and sacrifice have given the priceless heritage of noble
deeds and an undivided country.

They conquered states, and built around the regenerated nation a
rampart of freedom, so high, so strong, so steadfast, that it may
proudly bid defiance to a hostile world.

Grand as was their heroism, noble as were their deeds, the Union
soldiers have little patience with the rhetoric of war-boasters which
have caused nearly as much suffering throughout the country in recent
years as the melodies of "After the Ball is Over," or "Over the Garden
Wall." Some of this rhetoric is over-ripe, like the new school of
fiction, in other cases it pumps beautiful incidents from a deep
capacious imagination, painfully void of veracity. But at any rate no
untoward vauntings proceed from this unconsidered trifle of that
epoch, neglected proletariat of tabernacles belligerent, the fleered
and flouted Shelter Tent.

To historians with the lenses of judgment in correct focus, its
functions in the splendid totality of achievement were by no means
unimportant, although hitherto almost wholly unacknowledged. A
war-scarred relic of it now, even if covering Carlyle's "most
shriveled, wind-dried, dyspeptic, chill-shivering individual, a
professor of life-weariness" (a tramp), would be more thrilling to the
eye and heart of patriotism than a dozen shining granite monuments
raised to commemorate forgiven but unforgetable rebellion. This is
the reason for these tears.

Tattered and blackened but serviceable still, type of much else
whereon we might perhaps with gain philosophize, the humble but
priceless Shelter Tent was borne to the rendezvous by glad warriors
returning in triumph, and legally mustered out. The war was ended; its
work was done. No further seek its usufruct to discern. Its career was
as tame as a typewritten love-letter. The receipt of a depot
quartermaster was its sole and all-sufficient obituary.

Vanished from the receding perspective of our experience is the
Shelter Tent--vanished from sight, but precious in memory forever.
With it went the golden age of the republic; with it went our
comradeship of trial and danger. After it came the new heaven and new
earth to our redeemed, regenerated country. It has gone. And already,
for more than half the soldiery of the grand army of the Union, it has
been replaced by that low, green canopy whose curtain never outward



Any scheme of war which omits the stately ceremonial of Dress Parade
from among its essential elements is scandalously unsymmetric. The
military science is of pre-classical antiquity, its roots shattering
the sarcophagi of Cadmus, and Darius, and Ptolemy, and Tubal
Cain--penetrating even the caves of the troglodyte and the gravel-beds
of the trilobite and the saurians. Ripening ages have at last
disclosed the imperative demand of a frequent assembly and orderly
arrangement of troops for show and inspection just as the evolution of
a parson requires the cultivation of orthography, etymology, surplice
and orthodoxy.

The problem as to who put down the rebellion, hitherto more recondite
than that of the precession of the equinoxes or of the invention of
the kindergarten, and infinitely provocative of type-written rhetoric,
has at last been solved! It was the boy in blue, his mother, and the
girl he left behind him. Only the first had or could have the right to
vote; the others had the higher right to be excused from voting. But
all were in the conflict, and each furnished a demonstrable quota of
heroic endeavor which crystallized into grand achievement. The first
did the fighting; the second did the praying; the third supplied the

The first effort of a regiment at observance of the tactical symposium
termed Dress Parade marked an era in its annals which was always
thereafter recurred to with prickling sensations at the roots of the
hair and a revolving propensity in the pit of the stomach. How it was
ever accomplished, endured, and survived was a mystery fathomless as
the craft of a Christianized and deodorized savage.

The component parts of this approaching cosmorama may, with profit,
be inspected separately.

The enlisted recruit, only a fortnight removed from the fresh milk and
feather beds of home, is already jaundice-smitten, until the white of
his eye shows quite golden-roddish and sun-flowery. In his aspect we
discern the wisdom of one who is seventeen years old for the first
time, and duly appreciates the fact. In his liver, quinine is already
wrestling with calomel for the supremacy, even as in his soul
remembered moral precepts are already summoned to mount guard against
the wiles of sin. He is sugared o'er with the pale cast of
virtue--stern in his rectitude as the senator who has never betrayed a
trust. His black eyes duly sparkle in æsthetic harmony with his curly,
coaly hair, as he warbles new-fledged patriotic melodies with fervid
sincerity. And he views the imminence of experience in human carnage
with the blind insouciance of a political party that is being led
through a slaughter-house to an open grave.

If by inscrutable preordination the chevrons of a corporal or
sergeant decorate his flapping sleeves, the agonies of his
self-consciousness are unutterably intensified. His picturesque,
variegated and altogether incomprehensible strut, is positively
unique. His awkwardness spreads and sprouts and amplifies and
ramifies. To witness his embarrassment is enough to break the heart of
an orphan. His tendency to do the right thing at the wrong time and
wrong thing at all times may be predicted with the precision of an
exact science.

His responsibilities are enormous; his perplexities are terrible; his
woes are innumerable; he is dejected, afflicted, tormented. He is
helpless as a lawyer hurling maxims of abstract justice ruthlessly in
the face of evidence. He is a non-commissioned officer. That is to
say: an unquoted quota; an unenumerated numeral; a non-existent
existence; not an officer at all!

The lieutenants, with authority varying inversely as the square of
their bumptiousness, are loud in their pretensions as the howl of a
defeated candidate who has fallen outside his breastworks. Mrs.
Solomon in all her several hundred glories was not elaborated like one
of these. Invincible Chicago, with the biggest and tallest Masonic
temple in the world, by thunder, is not so proud. The triumphant
statesman who has evolved a barley schedule that will put the robber
barons of western Iowa to open shame, is no more inflated. The
congressman who has exposed a rival's political armor-plate,
honeycombed with blowholes, is less exultant. State linked to state,
in goodly fate, in mart and mint and mine; in rolling plain of golden
grain or toss of plumy pine--none of these could fabricate a more
colossal national glorification than these imposing subalterns, with
ravenous tools of butchery girt on their semi-erect forms, and
fiercely fretful lest the rebellion should be suppressed before they
could debouch upon the ensanguined scenery.

The captain is big with the fate of empire. He has dwelt upon the
agonizing spectacle of his beloved country bleeding at every vein, not
to mention the carotid and celluloid arteries, _et cetera_, until he
has accumulated an amount of frenzy which only blood of a highly
oxygenized quality and in most generous libations can ever expect to
satisfy. The candidate with a separate and distinct set of views on
all crucial questions for each county in his district may pass muster
on the civil arena, but this centurion is vehemently in earnest. He
has supped on a thousand horrors--remember the number.

His eye is one gleaming chrysolite. His lips are pink and luminous,
dripping phosphorescent formulas in characterizing the assailants of
the flag. His mustache bristles with fury like the rays of an arc lamp
shooting pulsations of glow into unresisting darkness. His nose sniffs
battles from afar and threatens direful death in each resounding
sneeze. His brow is knit into knots of perplexity by chasing tactic
combinations which canter at will through the vasty thought-clefts of
his gray matter, foreboding a fatty degeneration thereof. His fervid
soul thirsts for the hour when he shall lead his eager men to regions
where bounteous crops of glory are harvested semi-monthly from
valor's fertile fields. No pent up Schenectady contracts his grand
ambition. But his torch is illuminative, not strictly conflagrational,
after all.

The major and lieutenant-colonel blush bright crimson with the burden
of unwonted dignities. These bucolic ex-potentates from outlying
precincts, cross-road lawyers, perhaps, of the pig-replevin,
breachy-steer class, are limp supernumeraries in all this busy
ebullition. Marvel not that they mutter unprintable ideas as they pass
along. Each has now a clawing consciousness of his approximation to
the infinitely little--the cube root of nothing. Each has squandered
sixty dollars, the savings of a lifetime, in the purchase of the
prescribed habiliments.

Now both find themselves eclipsed by a colored sport among the
on-lookers, who displays a loud check suit and screaming scarlet
necktie, enameled white shoes with black tips, and tall white hat
swathed in a broad black band. Suppressed and quenched they stand,
half-daft, with a glimmering recognition of their own marvelous
inutility; nerveless as the ecclesiastical victim of Christmas
generosity who has seventeen turkeys, in various stages of
decomposition, lying on his back porch.

But the colonel! Great son of Mars, swathed in fire and thunder! Every
sublime and momentous prerogative of this illustrious occasion finds
its prescriptive focus in his person. Lucifer, son of the morning--he
will rise to the occasion or break a nerve in the effort! Lifted by
approved, unchallenged primacy above all mediocre surroundings, he
stands wrapped in the rampant amplitude of his own perpendicularity.
His dignity is frigid as the icicles on the fateful blizzard's beard
in those frosty northwest winters when the coyote ceases yelping and
the gopher is at rest. His serenity can calmly smile at Satan's wrath
and force a frowning fraud. He speaks an imitation West Point idiom
with the Tippecanoe accent, and his voice rivals in resonance the
venturous wild-fowl honking high in air. His mental endowments have
never been enervated by book gluttony and lesson bibbing. He is no
patent process product of enlightened educational methods. He is a
symmetrical outgrowth, so accepted and recognized by all, including

Physically and intellectually he looms and glooms and towers. On him
all glances are centered; toward him all thoughts are stretched; for
him all hearts palpitate. Hector arming for the siege of Troy was
boy's play in comparison. The embryo soldiery regard him with pride;
admiring citizens look on him with poorly concealed reverence. He has
already trimmed his corns to fit a major-general's shoes. Consequently
his shoulders stiffen with pardonable arrogance; his gaze flashes
soul-satisfaction in radiant smileful beams, and the ginger is hot in
his mouth.

These are the ingredients out of which, in the alembic of his genius,
the adjutant, perspiring like a wedding guest come to celebrate the
climax of a happy disaster, must fuse a Dress Parade. His task is
difficult as that of teaching a war ship how to swim. These are the
bristling units, which, when he swings his commands around and over
them, will submit their centripetence to his awecompelling
centrifugence. They are flexible as a rubber currency, that can be
expanded and inflated at will, if handled with care. But in the end
they will stand approximately aligned, ready to skip on light
bombastic toe, to wheel and whirl, to march or halt, to strike or

Let not the drum major, gaudy as a calico cat, and his melodious
cohort, be forgotten. This cohort may be composed of small boys
executing Yankee Doodle with variations on snare drums and whistling
sticks, or of fluffy adults, agitating the atmosphere with resonant
trombone and shrieking piccolo. That is largely a matter of natural
selection,--that is to say, of accident. But it is always obtrusive as
a mourning costume expressly designed to advertise a quenchless woe
and save expenses generally. And it is always marshaled by a fierce
brobdingnag mounting a tall bearskin shako, and twirling a
nickel-plated besom staff with the dapper legerdemain of a

This so-called "band" is as imperative in the saturnalia of Dress
Parade as a demijohn in an Iowa closet. In that province water that
contains only 32,000 microbes to the cubic inch has been
scientifically approved as a beverage--provided just enough brandy is
added to take the cruelty out of the water. Without the band, parade
would be a piebald abstraction, unthinkablest of impossibles. With it
obstacles vanish and everything bursts into buoyant feasibleness and
stem-winding accuracy, wrapped in the indwelling beatitude of
conscious grandeur.

Music hath charms to smooth the savage breast. The reason why I can
not tell. In truth, strange to say, there are many other mysteries
connected with our mental operations and inspirational impulses which
are equally insoluble. The processes and boundaries of emotion in the
soul of a Wyoming senator, when her back hair comes down in the midst
of an eloquent peroration, are inscrutable and unfathomable. The bill
for an act entitled an act to amend an act is likely then to lose its
place on the calendar. But as a rule, the processes and boundaries of
thought are immutably conditional. Its formulas were petrified in
Aristotle, for man, with all his amazing progress in science and
inventions, still abides a little lower than the angels, his goods
never quite up to sample. The intellect pauses at a distance from
ultimate truth, dimly gleaming through the hush of a large gloom, and
painfully cries for external help.

Explosions often result from suddenly injecting thought into a vacant
mind. Some syllogisms are fallacious as a decoy watermelon stuffed
with paris green. The imagination may roam uncurbed through infinite
realms, but reason is horizoned by an adjacent pale over which it can
neither leap nor soar. Beyond this boundary philosophy can not direct
man's tottering steps; further his unblazed path will lead into the
vagaries and discords and peopled torments of lunacy, unless he
permits faith to begin where reason ends. When a venerable pundit,
formulating huge installments of lexicography, assures you that he
knows it all, be careful where you repeat the statement. Tell it not
in Gath; tell it to the marines--but break it gently, cautiously, or
by the beard of the prophet you will find small credence.

Necessary as it has been, dominant as it has been, military talent is,
after all, one of the lower forms of genius. It is not conversant with
the highest or the richest intellectual pursuits. It may exist to
perfection deficient in profound and liberal thinking, in imagination
and taste, in the noblest energies and inspirations of life.

Hugo says that at Waterloo each square was a volcano attacked by a
thunder-cloud; the lava fought with the lightning. Their employment
demands none of the finer fibers of intellect or loftier aspirations
of the soul. Even the "business" statesman of well recognized
shrewdness and well advertised piety, entrusted with cabinet
portfolios on the theory that public office is a private usufruct, is
likely to tread the higher realms of intelligence with more certain
footsteps than the Wellingtons or Jubal Earlys of bellicose
notability. And Susan B. Anthony insists to this day that the little
affair between her younger brother Mark Antony and Cleopatra has been
grossly exaggerated for base political purposes.

Parade differs from review as camp differs from campaign. The one is
solemnity, the other is vivacity. Positive parade, comparative review,
superlative battle, are the three degrees of comparison in war's
activities. They are respectively tableau, melodrama and tragedy of
systematic warfare. As ivory must germinate in the elephant's trunk
before poker chips can materialize, so parade and review must antedate
the battle agony.

Parade discloses the proficiency of a command in decorum, alignment
and manual of arms. Review and inspection test its skill in evolution,
as well as in equipment, accoutrement, care of weapons and general
efficiency. Battle brings out all the qualities which drills, parades,
reviews and inspections have developed or exhibited. During parades
and reviews the officers come to the front; in battle they go to the
rear. This accounts for the seeming mystery that so many still survive
to tell the tale, and to tell it in such bewildering variety.

Daily Dress Parade being enjoined explicitly by regulations, becomes
per force a vested right of citizen observers, and the periodic
irritant of lethargic soldiery. But its first dainty freshness, before
a state of lethargy has supervened and suppurated, threatens the
maddening frenzy that drowns all sorrow in ginger ale. Its occurrence
then brings whimsical complications equal to that of sweetening a
whisky ring with a sugar trust; mad alternations of hope, elation,
trepidation and horror; a synthesis like few!

That two and two make five is a mathematical preposterosity; that
early experiments in Dress Parade should be a success is a military
ditto, with extra emphasis on the antepenultimate. Let the heathen
rage and the plutocrats imagine a vain thing! Here is a seriousness of
facetiousness that would discourage a comedy star in full apogee.

As the fateful hour draws near, dim premonitions of coming
divertisements rapidly multiply. Dress Parade is about to materialize,
and the air is electric with expectancy, as when Corbett recognizes
the belligerence of Persimmons, hires a typewriter, and opens
hostilities in due form. Indications of the advent of an event worthy
the delicate touch of Bjornstene Bjeminison's poetic fancy, are
discerned. Matrons and maidens cluster and flutter and twitter athwart
the designated color line. The matrons are superb, and the maidens are
about to become historic--they are the girls who are to get left

Accompanying them are their attendant male civilians, disgruntled as
an oldest son who has ceased to be the only child by a large majority.
They feel like a bunch of shop-worn lower-case ciphers just ready to
be edited into the hell-box. They are keenly self-conscious of total
eclipse in this martial splendor's plethoric incandescence. The
rippling tee-hee of maidenly merriment rasps roughly on their ears,
provoking wrath in the collar. Their cheerfulness matches that of a
quarter of beef on its journey from dissecting table to chill-room.

Along company streets, redolent with intoxicating fumes of bean soup
and loyalty up to date, manifest signs of preparation obtrude.
According to the accepted congressional code, nothing succeeds like
success, when one is successful in succeeding himself. Even the
demagogues, who love the people in stump speeches at ten dollars per
speech, sometimes achieve success of that kind.

A genuine military success requires painstaking method, as these
premonitions indicate. There are glimpses of toilet, glimmers of gun
barrel, suggestions of ablution, flashes of bayonet. There are dashes
of shoe-polishing and hair-brushery--mad wrestle with a Paderewski
growth of foliage, here and there. A tent fly lifts and the process of
creating a contemptuous curl of mustache greets the penetrating
vision. Bright steel rammers gleam in the glare of the giddy avenue.
Advance individuals, nervously premature in completed canonicals,
appear; then squads, groups, platoons--entire companies. Other things
may be late and worms may chew them, but the scythe and hour-glass are
always on time. So is Dress Parade.

Companies are aligned and files are counted off. Sergeants, surcharged
with a rude, luminous unshaken faith in the republic, tumble
stumblingly into their positions. Corporals, sensitive as the bulb of
nerve fiber at the end of a cat's whisker, are given the merry hand
with a marble heart.

The captain, already disliked by the enemies he has made, flings
himself to the perilous front. Ranks are right faced and levant
longitudinally, at a modified gallopade, toward the aforementioned
color line. Here, after miscellaneous entanglements, unequaled since
cable and trolley emancipated the mule from tram car servitude, a
measurable coherence is secured. The companies form by some sort of
incomprehensible intuition of incidence, on four or five alleged
"guides." These stand with inverted muskets and quaking knees, a soft
spot in the head and a hot spot in the cheek, robust delineations of
despairing imbecility. Their terrors are tremendous, reminding one of
that sweetly solemn village hour, when curfew rings and small boys
hunt their haunts.

The colonel is now suddenly disclosed. He has dropped, unseen,
presumably from the propitious heavens, into his allotted station,
some forty paces in front of the center. At any rate, he is there. And
if I had a hundred dollars--as I had once, though I may never look
upon its like again--I would wager it all that he wishes he were
somewhere (anywhere) else.

He is one of those lingering men whose minds go off with a wet fuse.
Like one dazed, he gazes amazed; and a gaze at him is worth the whole
cost of admission. He wears a little bunch of whiskers on his chin,
and his nose has the rising inflection. His warlike air and attitude
are prophecies of the day when Greece shall give Turkey a basting. He
poses statuesque, with folded arms, head aslant, one hip elevated and
both legs trembling. His make-up rivals that of a special Chinese
envoy with the yellowest of jackets and peacockiest of tails. He
carries a frown over the bridge of his nose that portends deep
concealment of valuable information as to his own consequence, unknown
to the world at large. That frown, however, is only borrowed for the
occasion; at heart he is humble as the Chicago aristocrat who has
squandered the price of a car of pork in the purchase of a bogus
Venus. He poses, with arms folded _a la_ Bonaparte over his Napoleonic
stomach. He poses like the last erect relic of a forest, colossal,
leafless, lifeless and sublime. He looks proud as the weary mechanic
greeted on his front porch at eve by a shining galaxy of posterity. He
has a right to be proud; he is the colonel. Bring forth the royal
diadem and make him a present of it.

Meanwhile the adjutant is not idle. Far otherwise. His duties are
complicated as the new quadruplex telegraphic system for the
transmission of string-fiend fakes. He imitates the gyrations of a
cyclone funnel in his delirious attempts to frame one geometric
tangent out of ten miscellaneous arcs, with unassimilable _radii_. His
processes resemble a lurid, revolving nightmare of St. Valentine's day
in the morning. He foams and fumes; he shouts and signals; he
gesticulates; he genuflects; he perambulates. He pleads for correct
formation as pallid Maryland corn fields plead for rain and
fertilizers. His voice is softened by the sweet, feathery fluff on
his upper lip, but it reaches far. His perplexities equal those of the
man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among hotel
runners. But as in the cruel abattoir the fated bullock glances at the
sticker's cold, callous, calculating eye and bows to the inevitable,
so the willing, though awkward, soldiery yield at last to the
adjutant's persistent insistence. He finally establishes a distant
resemblance to the shortest space between two given markers. The
markers introvert their marks and fall into desuetude--and the mummery
is duly inaugurated.

First the music must sound off. It is of the class that has functional
relations with insomnia. Sad was the unlucky Kansas farmer who lost
his wife and his best yoke of steers, all in the same week. Sad is the
beatified spirit of the deceased alderman when he finds that the
streets of heaven are already paved and there can be no rake-off. Sad
is the fond wife, rummaging her husband's pockets, when she discovers
through her tears that the coins are copper. But sadder than any,
saddest of all, are they who by direful fortune are condemned to the
slow torture of listening to a moulting military band. Yet it is an
inescapable adjunct of Dress Parade.

Now the rear rank must "open order," a strategic maneuver performed
with a ludicroterrific multiplication of blunders, appalling to the
articles of war and fatal to the flintiest risibles. Each witness
wears the face of one who drinketh vinegar unawares. More calisthenics
by the adjutant. More heaving of anchors and straining at cables and
hoisting on beam ends along the phalanx line. For the jolly mariners
of the prairie, fresh from the delights of home, with its pealing
bells and magic spells and appetizing smells, are trying to box the
compass of spectacular punctilio, with odds dead against them in
generous installments. Their timidity gives one a pain; their temerity
makes one tender to the touch of sarcasm. Marvel not that our infant
industries require protection while they are teething.

Then follow, in startling, swift succession, certain decisive events,
decisive as the mystic, matrimonial rite which makes two mortals

The adjutant faces toward the left flank, shoulders his tinseled
pinking iron, and sets his teeth firmly, almost defiantly.

He starts forward in an energetic amble, a melancholy glitter
weltering in his optic, and his features bathed in gloom whose
darkness might be bottled up and sold for Tyrian dye.

He trots trippingly down to the axis of oscillation; wheels suddenly
to the right; charges madly on the perplexed, expectant colonel
standing promiscuous as aforesaid; thinks better of it halfway, and
halts suddenly.

He whirls entirely around at imminent risk of summersaulting.

He explodes vociferously: "Shltr-r-r Hr-r-rms! Pr-r-rsnt Hr-r-rms!"

That is all, but that is enough. The result is astonishing as the
Rhode Island tenderfoot's first experiment with Montana wrath; but on
the whole it is satisfactory. This is a free country, even when
poverty stands with one ear at the telephone waiting for the stately
steppings of an advance agent of prosperity. This is a free country,
where the Italian may drink wine if he likes, even though the
Norwegian may prefer alcohol. This is a free country, where, in the
bright lexicon of sage brush statesmanship, there is no such word as
surrender. This is a free country, where once in four years the voters
may, if they see fit, commit all their political Jonahs to a school of
whales with broad throats and stout stomachs. This is a free country,
all the way from sterile Vermont to California, land of rose-bloom and
gold dust, where striped candy ripens every month on the woodbine and
new oranges can be dug before Easter. This is a free country, and each
soldier on his own terms, in his own good time, obeys the adjutant's
command. In the aggregate, every movement in the manual of arms, and
many more, are attempted; in the ultimate, the entire battalion gets

But the methods and fashions in which nine hundred fire-arms are
supposititiously tendered to all whom it may concern, are of
bewildering midway plaisance variety. They are void of monotony, like
a symposium on the cause and cure of panics. The absolute negation of
simultaneousness is an abiding charm. Variety is spice; better thirty
days of Texas than a palace in Cathay. When St. Louis contributes
melted snow of a very dark color to swell old Mississippi's limpid
tide, a waiting delta down in the gulf reaps the predestinated

The adjutant, reckless of addled brain tissue, wrenched spinal marrow
and sprained leg-ligaments, whirls once more. His heels come down with
a recoil that would jar the rivets from an iron-clad. Patience! noble
adjutant (and gentle reader), the prancings and rotatings approach a
terminal. We near a period such as that when the last cork has been
popped at a wine supper and the bill must be settled. Grudge not the
details that gild the gliding moments as they go. He whirls, and, with
smart salute of naked saber pointed toward the deathless stars,
confronts his commander. It is a moment big with fate. We are reminded
of the memorable occasion when Cleopatra clasped the asp and perished

The adjutant confronts the colonel and salutes him to the best of his
feeble ability. Poor human utterance is inadequate at such an hour,
but he manages to stammer in propitiatory tone: "Sir! the parade is
formed!" Then, circling softly to right and rear of the rising
splendor, he subsides, succumbs, and is henceforth lack-lustrous in
this spangled pageantry. His part has been performed, and, whisper it
gently to the sighing zephyrs, his future function is merely to stand
at attention, like patience on a pedestal, grinning at grief.

For a moment or more the silence is painfully intense. You can hear
hearts beat like the ticking of French clocks made in Rotterdam by a
Swede. In the recesses of each chest, "boots and saddles" is sounded
at frequent intervals. But outward silence reigns, as when a young
woman, purple with throbbing timidity and expectant bashfulness,
stands before her lover, uncertain whether he will lisp his love, or
switch off to a side track and discuss the January thaw. Silence is
golden and toothsome and restful. But it can not last forever. It

It breaks like a monetary stringency tapped with clearing-house
certificates. The colonel now looms, the crowning pride of all this
display. Behold, ye gathered multitude of non-combatives. Behold and
tremble! His sword of sharpness, gift from admiring neighbors over at
Goslin's lane, unsheathed after valorous struggles, swings clumsily to
a perpendicular. Excalibur's fit prototype, as emblem of authority and
fruitful of coming slaughters, is revealed. Hear, oh! post-office, and
give ear, all ye blacksmith shops. Great Mars, his son, has sway. Mock
him not! Madness that way lies, or worse. Cheer and the crowd cheers
with you; laugh and you laugh in the guard-house. Such being the case,
nobody cares to laugh. Napoleon called attention to the fact that
forty centuries were perched on the pyramids to umpire one of his
fights. More centuries than that are here to see and note.

And the colonel proceeds to make a few remarks. He is in a remarkful
mood, but his style is dry and sententious. He is not one of those
authors who swell the bowels of their books with empty wind. His
remarks are meaningful. At home he was chief in the rosebud garden of
oratory, but it is not his cue, on the present occasion, to get into a
wrestling match with reckless word-trippers. He does all the talking
himself. Spherical, sonorous vocables, the well-conned phrases of
command, roll out upon the quivering air, and smite the multitudinous
ear of this battalion with a startling sense of impotency. The
multitudinous arm reaches out in nervous effort at obedience. But on
divergent lines the effort doth its energy expend, and the results are
simply marvelous. Melodramatic entanglements and perplexities tread on
each other's heels, like candidates for patrimony at the obsequies of
a plutocrat. Errors grotesque as hippogriffs impinge on errors
plaintive as threnodies in minor E.

A woman of the impressionist school, who cooks in a chafing dish, and
prescribes reform ball costumes of high-neck gown, long sleeves and
mittens, is very appropriately registered from Boston. A school girl
in the same city wrote in her composition: "The boy thinks himself
smart because he can wade where it is deep, but God made the dry land
for every living thing, and rested on the seventh day." No calligraph
below the regulation Boston standard will suffice fully to portray the
errors and horrors of this Dress Parade.

The evolutions of Darwinism are therefore presumably to be
intelligently apprehended only by the Boston transcendentalist,
nourished on mackerel salted to the _n_th power, and wearing a baked
bean in his vermiform appendix. The evolutions and involutions of a
maiden effort at Dress Parade are incomprehensible as the ravings of a
salaried jaw-smith in a labor strike, who has burst into a profuse
state of prevarication as the rosy beer-froth mantles his sublime
cheek. True wisdom is best exemplified by a turtle withdrawn into his
casemate; even the overestimated he-goat is less occult and dignified.

The popular platform at Vassar is a free coinage of ice cream, 16 to
1, and a currency based on unsecured bonds of wedlock that have
defaulted their dividends would be unanimously spurned. On the western
frontier a presentable university can be set up with one bottle of
sulphuric acid, a four-foot telescope and two ball bats. In some
portions of the south a professor who boasts a bicycle kyphosis,
writes polysyllabic profundities in long-waisted chirography, and
combs his hair like John C. Calhoun, is impregnably intrenched.

Thus do educational standards pulsate and palpitate in different
sections of our beloved country. In China, where the grasshopper is a
burden and mice are legal tender, it is not so. The tests for a civil
service examination of candidates for concubine to the emperor are
alike in all the provinces. The Chicago board of trade operator, who
rises with the lark at 8:45 A. M., and five drinks later is ready for
business, scorns the effeminate chappie who had his dog's tongue split
in order to crease his pants. But in Chicago, where even the Goddess
of Liberty frequently requires a chaperone after dark, such things
will happen in spite of the most stringent police regulations. Besides
which they are mostly incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial. These
evolutions and involutions of Dress Parade are to be wrought out by an
incipient soldiery, which three months hence will be seeking the hen
and ham of glory at the red mouth of smoke house and chicken coop,
lucky also not to be subject to rigid inspection by a state
entomologist. Now they are intangible as the man in the moon,
ineffable as the man in the honeymoon.

Evolutions sometimes go backward. On the present occasion there is no
restriction--everything goes, as the young woman said when he drifted
slowly out of her life on a lumber raft. The evolutions are
meritorious in design and multifarious in execution; likewise in the
manual of arms. The flabergasted novices stand inextricable, like some
brittle Rosamond tangled in silken skeins to the queen's taste. You
may bray a crank in the mortar, but his wheels will still whirl. When
the irreclaimable faddist bestrides his foible, give him due latitude.
When the ambient air is full of ozone and things of that sort, look
out for thunder-storms.

When the 'prentice musketeer shoulders his arquebus and intimates a
design to charge bayonet, stand from under promptly. Delays are
dangerous. Iscariot with his twelve pieces of discredited coin folded
in his turban figured as a tight-rope dancer on the occasion of his
very last appearance on any stage.

Tasteless and intangible was the kiss that was prematurely discharged
in midair and never, never came. Even the joys of courtship suffer a
temporary eclipse when Johnnie is found behind the sofa. Exasperating
to a like degree is the humorous episode at which we dare not laugh,
yet can not die. It is alleged that rural homes decorated with
chromographic mottoes are largely responsible for the overcrowded
state of the paresis wards in our asylums. How much of the phenomenal
hereditary predisposition to recklessness which characterized the next
generation after the war was attributable to the enforced repression
of risibles at Dress Parade may never be definitely ascertained. This
much we know: When the safety valve is strapped down, boilers are in
danger. She who kindles fire with gasoline, and penetrates the
undiscovered country by that illuminated route, leaves few to pity and
none to praise. But the victim of an over-fermentation of merriment
has sympathizers numerous as the fashions of grandfather's hat.

When the young recruit, twenty per cent. pork, thirty per cent. beans,
forty per cent. patriotism and ten per cent. soldier, stands up to be
exhibited, and a score of his best girls, each compounded in five
equal parts of beauty and brightness, grace, gush and giggle, gaze in
ravenous, enraptured solicitude on the dreadful performance, with
their steel walls of restraint riveted tightly around them,--well, the
consequences are to be unquestionably counted in as a part of the
general havoc of war.

Meantime Dress Parade goes on. The evolutions and involutions continue
to revolve, until the tired recruits are threatened with serious
affection in the yellow pine district of the lumber region. The manual
of arms goes through all its ascensions and declensions, its
conjugations and calamities. He who would follow all its ramifications
must have a head on him like the learned pig. Arms are presented,
shouldered, ordered, right-shifted, trailed and held aport. Bayonets
are charged and fixed and clattered until their gleam threatens to
scream. No such confusion has prevailed since Lot's wife was
transformed into chloride of sodium. One third of the commands are
unintelligible; another third are incapable of execution according to
tactics; no two companies have been drilled alike; no three
consecutive soldiers perform the same antic at the same time. No
movement is attempted that does not yield mixtures of grief, drollery
and exasperation, sufficing for the most miscellaneous requirement.
Meritorious attributes sometimes crop out in unexpected places--many a
man conceals a bruised and bleeding heart beneath a porous plaster.
Humor and drollery develop. Still the routine goes on, nominally
monotonous, but in reality miraculously diversified.

[Illustration: ... _No two companies have been drilled alike; no three
consecutive soldiers perform the same antic at the same time_]

Arms are trailed, right-shouldered, presented, ordered; bayonets are
fixed, unfixed, or transfixed; rammers are sprung and imaginary
cartridges are subjected to supposititious mastication. Over and over
again, in bewildering diversity of succession, are the orders
inaccurately given and confusedly executed, until the colonel's
martial rage is seemingly appeased. Man wants but little here below,
while woman wants many things and wants them all marked down. Both man
and woman ought to find in this notable performance a maximum of
_quantum suf_.

The perfunctory reading of orders; the reports of first sergeants; the
grand spectacular advance of the officers, might each inspire a modern
society poem, printed on linen paper with ink worth a dollar a pound.
The final dismissal of parade; the departure of companies to their
respective quarters--these are mere routine. They are essential,
perhaps, but dull, tasteless, flameless as unleavened sanctimony. It
is vanity and vexation to be born with a silver spoon in one's mouth,
if there is nothing in the spoon.

Throughout its bellicose career, when occasion permits, the regiment
renews its daily practice of this imposing observance. Leaf by leaf
the roses fall; day by day the snare-drums call. But practice makes
perfect. Within a twelvemonth after muster-in the alert, alive and
agile volunteers will have become so facile in their exercise that
every motion is pivotal and simultaneous--a thousand with a single
joint who hear and move as one. The veteran reverts to his plebe camp
experiences even as the aged grandsire recalls the sorrowful coffee
and sad biscuit of early matrimonial days. The halo of romance
encircles them still!

Every man to his trade, cries the bigamous cobbler, with shell-bark
resonance, and tenaciously sticks to his last. Every crank to his
whim, every fool to his folly, says common-sense, with some slight
conscientious twinges. When uncle Silas comes from South Squam, and,
for the first time, confronts the dizzy delights of a gay metropolis,
there is danger in the air. Look not upon Monte Carlo when it is red;
shun humbugs as you would shun a land title based on love and
affection. The events we commemorate happened, to all intents and
purposes, on a different planet from that now occupying our orbit.

If ever a Dress Parade of hobbies, a review of sham or an inspection
of human nature could be displayed, there are grounds for a suspicion
that serious complications would ensue. They would equal the ferment
from an accidental mixture of gin, gingerbread and sauerkraut, prime
standard products of the early Knickerbockers and first exports from
New Amsterdam. Bulwer says: "Beware of the poor devil who is always
railing at coaches and four; book him as a man to be bribed."

More than thirty years ago, for the last time in the volunteer army of
the Union, the welcome call, "Parade is dismissed," rang along the
attenuated line of some lingering battalion, and it dissolved into
history. Parades, marches and battles were finished. But victory was
assured; its results are embedded and embalmed in the nation's
splendid destiny.

It is an inspiring thought that this destiny opens broad and bright
before us, and we need only be faithful to our trust to ensure a
realization of the fondest dreams of the heroes, saints and martyrs of
the olden time. Unrolled around us lies a continent, clothed with
verdure as with a garment, heavy with its stores of hoarded wealth,
all reserved for us in virgin purity and freshness since earth's
creation morn. Our race is inheritor of the best blood, the best
energies, the best principles, the best talent, that have illumined
and vivified the human family through all its glorious past.

Here, then, if we and our descendants are true, in this enlarged and
beautified Eden, are to be evolved all the grand possibilities of
humanity. Here increasing prosperity is to bring increased virtue;
increasing intelligence, increased power; increasing culture,
increased happiness; increasing freedom, increased nobility. Here the
swarming millions yet to be, molded by free institutions and
universal education into a refined and homogeneous race, multiplying
their material comforts by now undreamed-of physical appliances,
adorning their homes until each family shall dwell, self-centered, in
a world of beauty as in a shining sphere of crystal, and warming in
the sunshine of God's presence as they grow in moral stature nearer to
His throne,--here the coming millions will advance to the millennial
fruition promised as the goal of earthly hope and effort.



There were no giants in those days that tried men's souls and stored
their bodies with unpensionable ailments. Giants, mostly apocryphal,
fought battles single-handed in periods of antiquity now remote and
malodorous. The last samples perished some centuries ago, painfully
regretted. Their spears were rust, their clubs were dust, their souls
were with the saints (we trust) long prior to 1861.

The men who put down the slaveholders' rebellion were mostly boys. It
is estimated that the soldiers of the Union averaged only nineteen
years old when the roar of that first cannon broke on Sumter's walls
and echoed down the aisles of time, besides shattering a large
invoice of miscellaneous crockery. No such burden ever before fell on
the youth of any era; no such imperial manhood was ever before
developed in a single generation. Greece molded countless heroes of
her own, and has thrust her hand into every mass of mortal clay that
has been fashioned into beauty or power or glory since the days of the
demigods. But Greece can boast no more perfect heroism than that which
made our golden age illustrious, conspicuous, lurid as a trolley car
in a thunder-storm, for all ensuing ages.

The recruit of 1861 was of the human various species so dear to the
articulating frenzy of Mr. Venus. He was intensely human yet various
as life's multiform phases in this resplendent hemisphere. He was a
farm boy, perhaps, fresh from the white sheets, and fried chicken, and
sweet cream, and angel cake of his ancestral roof, with no experience
more thrilling than that of the local press and pulpit arising as the
voice of one man to celebrate the production of some abnormal
cucumber; he went to town to see the parade, and, vowing he would
ne'er enlist, enlisted. He was a store clerk, skilled in pounds, pints
and prints, with a thin top dressing of Latin, and a silvery Minnehaha
gush of gaiety in every motion. He was a student with columns of
logarithms in his head and a theodolite in his stomach; conscientious
as a juryman sworn to bring in a verdict according to the law and the
lawyers' speeches. He was a mechanic, swart and grim, with steps so
energized with mobility that when he walked the pavements rolled and
rocked beneath him like waves of the sea.

There were howling swells in that period, but he was not of them.
Reared in the bland atmosphere of plowshares and pruning-hooks, he had
no taste for the big orgies in which they reveled. He was not a fast
young man, nor did the fast young men, as a rule, make good soldiers,
or soldiers at all. Their furore was not the inspiring sentiment of a
war for liberty. Their recklessness was not bravery; their wild
natures accepted no yoke of discipline. These fast young men traveled
rapidly, because their road was all down grade. They were the same
then as now, the same yesterday, to-day and next century--worthless
and fruitless, first, last and forever. Each successive five years
brings a new generation of them, as the novices of five years
previous, worn out and burned out by dissipation, disappear over the
divide and enter that sulphurous enclosure, that stockade of horrors,
where the fires of torment are fed with their festering tissues, and
the towers of Tophet re-echo the shrieks of their tortured souls.
These howling swells, these fast young men, these debauched, debased
and dissolute youths, these devotees of the world, the flesh and the
flowing bowl, had no part or lot in the sacrifices of that heroic era.

The average boy of '61 was of pure metal and exalted worth. The glint
of his eye reflected the stars of the flag, and a prophecy of
Appomattox was written on his brow. Into the white chambers of his
soul only such things could enter as affiliated with the guests
already cherished there--his mother, his sister, his sweetheart and
his God.

In the alembic of stern discipline and relentless strife he and his
comrades were fused into that homogeneous, glorious host who, on five
hundred crimson fields from Wilson's Creek to Bentonville, at a salary
of thirteen munificent dollars a month in depreciated greenbacks, put
the love of life's joys behind them and, throwing their souls into
their bayonets, rushed to the flaming front, careless of wounds or
death if only they might help to final victory.

What we call 1861 was not a year. It was history changing front; a
cycle dying, an era born. Ignorance was still shaking himself by the
hand pompously, after the manner of his species, and saying to
himself: "Go to! I am lord of the bailiwick as aforetime; I will bind
and stack and thresh as of hoariest yore." But knowledge was looming;
information was coming to the front with a seafaring hitch to his
trousers as one who had traveled far; even the professional reformer,
who talks dialectics while his wife toils sixteen hours a day to
nourish his soaring soul, found auditors. But knowledge did not loom
to an adequate altitude or permeate to a sufficient degree of
prevalence. Else had no Southron dared promise himself to whip the
people who had invented and built up and managed the great material
enterprises of the nation--or desired to whip them. Ignorance
fluttered around recklessly until he singed his ostentatious whiskers
in the flames of the pit; yea, more,--until he was blistered to the
eyebrows with scorchings of the everlasting bonfire. Where ignorance
is bliss, politics degenerates into irredeemable idiocy and ineffable
slush; the campaign of mutual delusion goes on and on, the whole day
long, the whole summer through, the whole year round; the oracle is an
imitation statesman, whose head was cast in a heroic mold, but the
jelly didn't "jellify;" his clientage is the adult male population of
an infested village, whose howling need is a dog-killery. Under such
leadership popular illumination is a slothful, discouraging process.
The modest, uncultivated mule is liable at times to reverse the
accepted formula, and put his best foot backward. The half-savage
conductors of an orthodox Afro-American cremation in Texas typify an
equally marked social retrogression.

It is, as a rule, futile to preach predestination to people who are
not in the four hundred, but a general movement for the dissemination
of knowledge is effective in tearing away ignorance, as the rich soil
of Iowa is ripped up the back with a gang plow. With a due allowance
of school-houses in the south forty years ago, the slaveholders'
rebellion would have been impossible, just as in the prosperous,
progressive American republic of to-day with ten million depositors in
her banks and twenty million children in her schools, a successful
assault on intelligence and prosperity would be impossible. Ignorance,
as we have stated, fluttered recklessly near the scorchings of the
bonfire. Whereupon knowledge achieved a popularity unprecedented since
our first ancestress risked for its acquisition the fairest prospects
of her distant and inconceivably multitudinous posterity.

During ten years next succeeding the war, its loyal survivors were
habitually called, half in affection, half in honor: "Our Boys in
Blue." Even those who had hated their cause and mourned their success
conceded the fitness of a sobriquet which exalted their uniform to the
dignity of a moral attribute, and tinged their classification with the
hue of their trousers. It was Plato who said: "The brave shall be
crowned. He shall wed the fair. He shall be honored at the sacrifice
and the banquet." This was the era of the wedding, the barbecue, the
"present arms" to a phalanx of angels--as was eminently fitting.

The women of '61 were not the wailing watchers and tearful
lint-scrapers of a too current tradition. They were soulful,
heart-strong heroines, the swordless soldiers of the Union.
Lint-scraping and bandage winding were minor episodes. Their work was
many sided as a prism, with every angle reflecting a radiant
intensity. And all the ladders of grace that led from bloodiest
battle-fields straight to the bending heavens, were built up, round by
round, from the piety and devotion of intrepid womanhood.

The Boys in Blue were rapidly and happily and most appropriately
mated to the noble girls they left behind them. One of Napoleon's
marshals exclaimed when dying: "I have dreamed a beautiful dream." To
the Boy in Blue, suffused with blushes as the compliments rained on
him, both war and peace were chrysanthemum visions, soft, rosy and
spicy. The compliments were well earned and welcome; welcome and
wholesome as a thoughtful surgeon's timely prescription in the cold
drizzle of a night march, when he proffered his flask with:
"Gentlemen, you need a tonic; leave a drop for me!" Even the chastened
copperhead hissed no expostulation; he simply folded his Nessus shirt
around him and lay down in baffled schemes, his only punishment being
an enforced allegiance to the proudest flag and grandest country the
world has ever seen.

When ten years more had lent distinction and distance to receding
perspectives, the title changed to "Our Gallant Veterans." The
asperity of opposition had softened; the respect of friends had
deepened. There was tenderness in the accent which pronounced the
words and in the sentiment which inspired them. All recognized that
wherever a surviving soldier stood, there was a sentinel of liberty.
The Veterans came to the front in every sphere of activity, with the
nerve that stakes a royal flush against a marble synagogue. They
performed their full share of every-day work, and they rose to high
positions in the state. They generously divided the honors, even
turning out early in the morning to give the devil his dews. This was
comparatively easy, as the exposure of the crime of 1873 had not then
upset nearly everything, nor had the new woman come, constantly
provoking controversies with the antagonistic sex.

The Veterans moved on the savage borderland and conquered it. They
transferred sandy deserts into radiant farmsteads, festooned with
clematis and enameled with gladiolus. Hated by men with stinging
consciences or none, they retaliated never--or hardly ever. Though
poor they were not discouraged; sockless, they were not ashamed. When
bedizzened with frontier fringes, even Doctor Mary Walker with all her
trousers was not arrayed like one of them. Many of them went south,
where they were greeted with black looks from white men and white
smiles from black men; a few remained there and outgrew both.
Gleefully as the beefsteak sings on the gridiron, the ring of their
axes sounded through northern forests; their hearts and heads were
solid to the innermost core, like the stumps they left behind them.
Broad prairies in the west blossomed with their chinchilla moustaches
and their alfalfa whiskers. They opened mines, subdued vast
wildernesses, tunneled mountains for railways and syphoned them for
irrigation. They equipoised some of that surplus gravity which has at
times caused the country to tip up on its eastern edge. They did not
wear toothpick shoes, lemon-colored or otherwise; these they left to
the weak and vicious elements of an effete civilization.

With the army shoe, the army bean, the army mule, and the unfailing
army nerve, they marched on to new and noble conquests. They organized
commonwealths; founded cities; edited newspapers; captured
judgeships, governorships, senatorships, the presidency,
administering the multiform functions to their own eternal honor and
with benefit to all. Officeholding had charms for them recondite as
the link between beans and blue-stockings, inscrutible as the dynamics
of a cucumber which has concealed its aggressiveness until 3 a. m.
Should the demon of filibuster raise his crest from opposition benches
in any one of a score of legislative assemblies, you might readily
count a full quorum of them, each busily tying knots with his tongue
which no agility of his teeth could undo, each kindly instructing
novices how to work a tennis racket or advising experts how to extract
honey from Celtic ground-apples. Their arguments might be loose in the
joints like a plaisance camel, but they unerringly arrived at an
available conclusion. The feeble but sage members of a swell chappie
clique might pronounce them insufferable as to style, but they went on
capturing and conquering things by instinctive predilection and force
of habit. They experienced little exhilaration from the effervescence
of hired rapture and purchased adulation; their financial views
habitually had the ring of two metals; their accomplishments might
stop short of the mandolin and their scholarship shy at an ablative
absolute. But they reached the goal, on the average, and "Get there
Eli!" was their practical rendition of the motto "Excelsior."

Of seven presidents elected since the close of the war, six were
ex-soldiers. Minnesota points with pride to her nine soldier
governors. The Veterans quietly gathered in the voluntary and
involuntary honors of their admiring countrymen, while the chief
function of their traducers seems to have been to crop thistles, grow
ears and bray.

The surviving Veterans of the Union army were neither drones in the
busy hive of national development, nor a burden on the benevolence of
their fellow-citizens. Ninety-five per cent. of them made a success in
the civil battles of life--doing men's part honorably, industriously,
heroically in the work of the world. Only five per cent. were
failures, less than three per cent. ever became wholly dependent on
public charity for support.

[Illustration: _The veterans quietly gathered in the voluntary and
involuntary honors.... One state points with pride to her nine soldier
governors, and of seven presidents elected since the close of the war,
six were ex-soldiers_]

An appalling phalanx of apparitions at times menaced the peace of
nervous taxpayers over prospective drafts on their plethoric
resources. A cat may kick at a king. Men gifted with wind and lungs,
men with well-shaved voice and neatly-modulated nose, have proclaimed
a shuddering dread of future difficulty in preparing for wholesale
care of the thriftless ex-soldier. But those unsophisticated suspects
went on ruthlessly, recklessly, paying their own full share of the
taxes and manifestly bent on relentlessly taking care of themselves.
The identical persons who in the honey-dew days of the "Boys in Blue"
had gaily floated in geysers of taffy, constantly sprayed with
cascades of gush, were, ten years later, the objects of fathomless
solicitude on the part of contemporaries who feared that universal
pauperism would engulf them. Vain was the dread; bootless the
solicitude. In the aggregate, the discharged Veterans contributed in
taxes more than the sum total of their army pay, and by their own
productive labor added more to the wealth of the nation than the
entire cost of the war. And at any time within the last thirty years
there might have been found in all our prisons a larger per capita
proportion of former church dignitaries and bank officers than of
honorably discharged soldiers of the Union. The typical Veteran was
neither a tramp nor a bummer. He was a thrifty, self-respecting,
patriotic citizen. At the plow, the anvil, the lathe; on the engine,
the mail car, the ship; in the lumbering camp, the harvest field, the
counting-room, the factory; at the bar, on the bench, in the
pulpit--everywhere in spheres of useful, successful effort, he wrought
faithfully, ardently, triumphantly.

Even where the Veterans never went, their influence penetrated and
vivified and fructified. Their aromatic, anæsthetic codfish, their
mackerel stuffed with savor and salinity, have carried freedom's
tidings to Borneo's wilds. A Grand Army post annually observes
memorial day in distant Honolulu. Ireland and Poland, lanced spots of
a huge European suppuration, have felt the pulsations of our victory.
And on the dim frontiers of far-off Argentina, sweet girl graduates of
Minnesota's normal schools, daughters of Veterans, turbaned with
haloes and aproned with the flag, are unfolding the mysteries of
orthography, chirography, cube roots, and syllogisms, to rejoicing
grandchildren of authentic Patagonian cannibals. Whether as a Daniel
come to judgment or a Jonah come to grief, the "Gallant Veteran"
adorned his era--an era that is past.

The third decade brought peculiar revelations and some characteristic
iconoclasms, wrought by the most gothic of vandals known to human
kind. The deeds of the Boy in Blue and the Gallant Veteran have been
told and retold in verses so musical that they might almost be punched
with holes and performed on self-playing pianos, automatically, as it
were. But the terms are obsolete, and the current period has brought
its special designation, tremulous as a phrase from De Senectute, and
redolent of lean and slippered Pantaloon--"The Old Soldier." It came
in the days when colored cartoons were growing on the country like a
bad habit, and it came to stay. Whether applied in honor and
tenderness, or in derision and mockery, who can tell?

This epithet tells a truth, though perhaps emanating from indecent
exposure of intellect in a brain whose convolutions are more crooked
than the ram's horn that triturated the defenses of Jericho. It tells
a truth, though more cruel than that sweeping massacre when the
patriarch Cain came within one of slaying all the youth in Asia, or
than the edict which collared and cuffed a dilapidated Coxey in the
shadow of the capitol's proud dome.

Whether we like it or not, it has elements of permanence,--that
euphony which is the kernel of fact; that levity which is the soul of
wit; that pointedness which is the test of endurance. It has
manifestly come to abide. When the lady lacteal artist lactealizes the
sober, circumspect cow, the product is harmless as the process and
participants; no spirituous or vinous venom from that nourishing
fountain e'er exudes. When the lion eats a lamb the lamb becomes
lion; when the lamb eats a lion the results can be better imagined
than depicted. When the commonweal tourist falls aweary, he wins
consolation from a rehearsal of "Bunion's Pilgrim's Progress, or the
Trials of a Trail," and rises refreshed.

When the ex-soldier feels rheumatic twinges clutching at his nerves
like an eagle's beak, resistance were vain as kicking at a thunderbolt
in crocheted slippers. He is still vigorous, considering all that he
has gone through--and all that has gone through him! But he is not
invulnerable; some of his elasticity is as deceptive as the
hospitality of an alleged park dotted all over with warnings to keep
off the grass. He may profitably display that charity which covers a
multitude of sarcasms, and serenely accept the inevitable as a
companion piece to tariff reduction, civil-service reform, lectures on
advanced domesticity by the emancipated female whose family lives on
canned goods, and other copyrighted jokes. Yes; the Boys in Blue have
donned the Gray. They are no longer young; they will never be
younger; they are "Old Soldiers" now, and will be to the end.

Meanwhile they exist as an active element in society, none the less
interested and observant because of their phenomenal experience. A
subtle, half-forgotten aroma of school-boy Latin permeates the back
parlors of their minds, but the grand beacon-lights of world history
flush all the front windows with a ruddy glow. They lag, superfluous
it may be, like lingering aborigines who are chewing salt pork,
sandwiched with bread of idleness, out in the bad lands; but they will
not linger long. The ribald glee of the society sharp, boasting an
æsthetic eclat acquired at Christmas free lunches and other luxurious
functions, probes to no sore spots. Honesty is probably the best
policy when the amount involved is small, but it is the best
principle, always and everywhere. Those who practice it look upon
themselves with the pleased astonishment of a man who has made a
verified prediction. Those who ignore it look upon themselves with a
cold diagonal Japanese stare of non-recognition--while still the
wonder grows that average-sized consciences can stand so many blows.

The Old Soldier can afford to be honest and admit the hideous
imputation of adolescence. Yes! Eleven hundred times, yes. It were
safer as well as honester to admit, than to join issue and challenge
proof. Should he deny it, any unprejudiced tribunal would summarily
rule out all evidence for the defense and refuse to note an exception.
Only two generations lie between the shirt-sleeves of the money-making
ancestor and the patched pants of his impoverished great-grand-son;
only two generations ago, Astor was chasing the festive mink and
Vanderbilt was sculling the shapeless scow. Hence life is too short to
be frittered away in vain regrets and useless denials. The Boys in
Blue have all grown Gray.

The sensations of a dizzy man when the floor rises up around him,
while east and west come together with a crash, are an antidote to his
precedent fairest visions of the heavenly. There are said to be tenors
before whose singing the larks are struck dumb and take to the woods,
while the whole landscape melts into one golden chalice of liquid

But time, the enchantress, with all her benefactions, all her favor,
all her consideration, has wrought no miracle of perpetual youth for
the Boys in Blue or the gallant Veterans. The free coinage of silver
has gone on among their plenteous locks, whether auburn, black or
brown, unmindful of the edict of 1873. Dyes are futile; pigments are
in vain; bleaches are superfluous. The process goes on; sure, steady,
inevitable, inexorable.

The Old Soldier pleads guilty to those who take toll of yellow meal
and neglect the weightier matters of the law. But he does not yet
apologize for persistent existence. They who resent his longevity as
an economic affront, contradicting all mortuary tables, whist formulas
and crap combinations, must abide the result, even though it create an
ice gorge in Ohio politics. He braves the feeble wrath of the
political dilettante, with a daily surplus of brains (fried in
crumbs), principally solicitous to provide mermaids with divided
skirts and get dried insects on the free list. He fully indorses
Horace Greeley's theory that snobs are the poorest breed of horned
cattle on earth. He does not even excuse himself to the frosty orators
of the alumni platform, educated beyond the limits of their intellect,
who assume to stand high in the councils of their creator, but
neglected to bring their souls with them when they condescended to be

The Rhode Island colonists defiantly proclaimed, in the midst of a
witch burning era, "There are no witches on this earth, nor
devils--excepting Massachusetts ministers, and such as they." Men with
paunches and other signs of wealth, men with white neckgear and other
signs of piety, men with binocles and other signs of culture, men with
unclassifiable crania and faces unfit for publication, have snubbed
and jeered the Old Soldier, but he still survives. An unsullied
Americanism vindicates itself always against the world. When the royal
United States Berkshire came in competition with the pauper hog of
foreign climes, his victory was decisive; he now reigns triumphant,
even in Westphalia, the home of ham!

Stock exchange piousness, on affectionate terms with itself, and
clear, calm, introspective natures, stuffed with binomial theorems,
may sneer at compassion and gratitude; are not small potatoes the raw
material of a dignity that is born of starch? The county seat molder
of public opinion who can manage to keep three jumps ahead of the
sheriff, and pay for his boiler plate editorial C. O. D., vies with
the New York newspaper syndicate backed by indefinite millions of
Chicago beef money, in delicate sarcasm. Go to the mule, thou dizzard,
and learn of him! From that speechless, untranslatable functionary
valuable information may be extracted wholly novel to thy groveling
consciousness; amongst much else surely this, that gratefulness is
mate to saintliness. Even in the late James brothers' section of
darkest America, this is accepted orthodoxism. The statesman with
pickerel brow and muscalonge integument may join the ecclesiastical
mignonette and journalistic geranium in proclaiming threatened peril
to the republic from the fulfillment of a moiety of her despairing
pledge to provide for the disabled. The oblique expostulations of
professed friends are less endurable than the open malice of enemies.
The one-story man with a gravel roof has no conception of sky-parlors.
Let the untranslatable functionary rise up and bray responding echoes
in fit, sufficient answer.

They jest at scars who never sniffed saltpetre. They mock at wounds
who never confronted a foe more tangible than a Baconian cryptogam.
But the Old Soldier has learned to contemplate with philosophic
tolerance the weak and wicked sides of human nature--the Christian
science side, the Tammany tiger side, for example. Bluffs were unknown
in his heartsome, wholesome youth; nor were jockeys subsidized to give
their backers tips. Undreamed-of was the soft, seductive game of
flim-flam. No one then suggested a law for the protection of innocent,
elderly congressmen from the wiles of the seminary miss. The Veteran
can pity those who hate him, and defy the gurgling giggle of his
scorners--in the words of Sam Johnson, "he remembers who kicked him
last." He who smote with the sword of the Lord and of Abraham safely
ignores an effervescence of mouth-vapor. Let those who surrendered to
the idols of the uncircumcised and now seek to expunge their records,
find merciful oblivion if they can. He tenders no apologies for his
motives and invokes no forgetfulness of his deeds. Like the backwoods
preacher entangled in an unmanageable sentence, he may have lost his
nominative case, but he is bound for the kingdom of heaven.

The Old Soldier, entrenched in his philosophy as in a bastioned
citadel, rejoices in a redeemed country strong enough to regard with
forbearance the foibles of quondam foes. The men who looked bravely
into his eyes across the frowning ramparts of Vicksburg, or who, fed
on raw corn and persimmons, fluttered their heroic rags for a year
between him and beckoning Richmond, only ten miles distant, have been
welcomed, as with "sweet, reluctant, amorous delay" they returned to
enjoy the privileges and even to accept the honors of the rich
citizenship he fought to restore to them. He sees them squeezing pure
olive oil and genuine creamery butter out of honest old cottonseed. He
puts his own traditional pride of supremacy in the matter of basswood
hams and white oak nutmegs resolutely behind him, and hails them
proudly as right worthy fellow-yankees and brethren beloved. Whatever,
if anything, the present may withhold of universal consent to the
sacredness of his cause or the completeness of his triumph, he
exultantly leaves to time, to God and to history.

The Old Soldier claims no undue meed of praise. Standing in the limpid
incandescence of a momentous epoch, his pardonable pride has only
degenerated into boastfulness on rare and radiant village greens,
where self-delusion finds a fertile soil fenced with applauding
auditors. It was his fortune to have contributed to the preservation
of the Union, the emancipation of the slave and the regeneration of
the country. But save and except as aforesaid, he makes no pretense
of having done it all. He had mighty and Almighty help.

Sometimes the credit for emancipation is ascribed to the heroic
agitators, who, before the appeal to projectiles, had long demanded
unconditional abolition. It is error to award the palm of this
splendid consummation to any class of men. Slavery perished because
its death-doom had been sounded on the celestial chimes; because the
nineteenth century had come; because the flying engine and the
speaking wire had come; because the steel pen and the postage-stamp
had come; because the free school, the newspaper and the open Bible
had come; because Wilberforce, and Garrison, and Harriet Stowe had
come; because Lincoln, and Seward, and Stanton had come; because
Grant, and Sherman, and Sheridan had come; because two million gallant
boys in blue had come; because the great and terrible day of the Lord
had come, and not all the powers of evil could longer buttress and
bulwark the crowning iniquity of the universe. Give to all the potent
factors a full measure of the award. But let the rapture of
self-eulogy never eclipse vital historic truth. Slavery succumbed, not
more to military force than to the eternal verities. And rebellion
surrendered not alone to Grant and his legions, but also to the loyal
men and women who stood behind them, and to the churches and colleges,
the mills and mines and storehouses, the homes and herds and harvests
of the mighty North.

    They fell, who lifted up a hand
    And bade the sun in heaven stand!
    They smote and fell, who set the bars
    Against the progress of the stars,
    And stayed the march of motherland!

    They stood, who saw the future come
    On through the fight's delirium!
    They smote and stood, who held the hope
    Of nations on that slippery slope
    Amid the cheers of Christendom.

In adversity's hard school the Old Soldier learned transcendent
lessons of human brotherhood such as no other school could have taught
him, dilute the tincture, water the stock, or inflate the currency of
educational methods how we may. Escaping from cruel prison pens,
where there was no one to love nor to caress, and with no light to
direct but that sun of the sleepless, melancholy star, his hand
reached out into the darkness searching for a guide; it was grasped by
another hand, warm, loyal and true; the hand of a man and a brother; a
black hand indeed, but it was all the same in the dark.

He learned respect for authority and order, scorning the malcontents,
who, hornet-like, always stand sting-end uppermost, stinging their
friends to show their independence, their enemies to show their
impartiality, and each other to keep in practice; unwholesome whether
in conjunction or apogee; a bundle of tinder and rockets, on a raft of
smoke-storm, with sparks wildly flying; each a flask for brittleness,
whether decipherable into a nursing bottle or a sulphuric carboy. He
learned to value his country as more precious for his personal
sacrifice, stimulating his just demand that America shall henceforth
be reserved for such as are or wish to be Americans; for those to whom
her institutions are a birthright or those who bring due appreciation
of her blessings; shaking from her skirts the imported vermin of the
slums; spurning back from her shores the redhanded apostles of
anarchy, who dream of freedom in the death of law, and search for
thrift in robbery and violence.

The Old Soldier is something of a politician. He loves to help save
the country again and again, on every convenient occasion. Soon after
each and every quadrennial interchange of governmental figure-heads,
the whole population is prepared to admit that we have narrowly
escaped a vast hemispherical catastrophe. Even when the election has
only been carried by a constitutional majority of three--two
Winchesters and a shot-gun--the escape is just as grateful. For the
campaign torch may then be extinguished; the paroxysm of hysterics
illuminated by an aurora borealis vex and vaunt no more. The shout of
the torch-bearer, screaming himself into grippe and pneumonia, is
quenched. The heeler and the howler are alike silent--they have folded
their tepees like Arabs and fled in wild dismay. The candidate no
longer inhales the whiff of whisky sours or clasps hands chiefly
notable as rich feeding ground for microbes. The precinct chairman,
reveling in his labor of lucre, bow-legged but full of enthusiasm, has
subsided. The able editor, a man of ice and iron, carrying around a
head heavily weighted with unpublished matter, can gaze down the
flamboyant vista of his victorious career and take a needed rest.

The orator, whose seductive notes were rainbows melting into song, can
now sadly meditate on blind-stagger luck in politics; the senatorial
aspirant can proceed to gather in votes on a rising market; the
triumphant boss can accept from his Chicago admirers the finest
banquet their slaughterhouses yield; the average honest partisan can
rejoice in the temporary submergence of that specifically,
super-righteous element, the "saving five per cent." of voters, who
usually keep the country from going to destruction, by serenely,
sweetly, holding the balance of power.

When the alleged campaign of lungs, larceny and lunacy is thus ended,
the wind-weavers and phrase-coiners are dumb, and the country has
escaped from the desperate situation of one whose incurable disease is
attacked by an infallible remedy. Herr Most, with a string of
transatlantic gutterals foaming from his lips, and Herr Altgeld
brandishing his gold-clause lease before our blinking eyes, enter into
the very sinew and substance of our recurring nightmares. We scorn
them, and our scorn bites--usually. But this time it falls harmless as
one of Chauncey Depew's periodical four-track, block-signal
presidential booms. The nightmare raves and ravages until the ballots
come down like an avalanche and smother it--ballots called
"snowflakes" in the old chestnut, but now each six inches wide,
thirty-two inches long and many-hued that wayfarers need not err.

We accept the result with a smile that is childlike and grand. The
country is safe--again. In fact we begin to suspect that the nightmare
was, after all, the fond, familiar flea-bite of antiquity. At any
rate, the country is safe again--safe as a fire risk on crude
asbestos stored in a vacant lot. And then the resonance of Wyoming's
new, bewitching and lady-like female electoral vote splits fame's
brazen trumpet into hair-pins carrying the assurance that henceforth
presidents are liable to be nominated by intuition and elected by
instinct. Then, also, the men who helped to save it once if not
oftener--before, and are still willing diffidently to confess the
fact, rejoice with others at the latest victory. We have recently been
told in a magazine article, written by the meditative son of a
confederate sire, that the rebellion was put down chiefly by its own
pestiferous, irredeemable paper currency. This startling political
warning may well be subjected to searching cross-examination. The Old
Soldier of the Union neither affirms nor denies. He is content with
his limited measure of pardonable pride in some of the features of
that old, old story of daring and devotion and sacrifice in the days
when the country was saved once before--in the days of the deeds that
shaped up a country worth saving again, worthy of being saved again
and again, as many times as need be, by the generations yet to come.

The Old Soldier is satisfied to have borne an honorable, though
inconspicuous, part on the winning side and the right side of a
contest fraught with such tremendous consequences. In the vast sum
total of effort, achievement and sacrifice, no man other than the
favored and gifted two or three ultimate leaders did more than an
infinitesimal share. The shares of glory are proportionally
minute--even our U. S. colonial dame cuts but a sorry figure in
contrast with the daughter of seventeen revolutions from Venezuela.
Thus the up-to-date woman is coldly antedated! The Old Soldier claims
no undue meed of praise.

From corps commander to the man who bore a musket, individuals earned
but a fragmentary fraction of the full plentitude of honor. Comrades
of the flag were they, and all are equal now. He invites suspicion and
ridicule who struts to the front, while his hatband plays a sweet
symphonic tribute to his valor. No genuine Old Soldier attempts to
Weylerize his record. An occasional harmless effervescence of
exaggeration is charitably overlooked, but all are comrades and
equals. They only rank in priority of encomium who went up in chariots
of fire, through sulphurous battle-clouds, to advanced lines in the
battalions of the blessed.

Together they marched and camped and fought and conquered. Dying, they
sealed their sacrifice with martyrdom. Surviving, they proved their
willingness to die, and lived to clasp with joy the sweetness of
restored affection, pride and hope.

They died amid the battle clangors of five hundred crimson fields;
they died in hospitals where nerves were highways for the steps of
fever's scorching feet; they died in dismal prison pens, unshorn,
unsheltered, hungering, thirsting, desolate, despairing; they died,
four hundred thousand of them died, in the bloom of their beautiful
youth, that the slave might be unshackled, freedom apotheosized, the
nation saved.

They lived--a million of them live to-day. They lived to do men's work
in building up the land their valor sanctified. They lived to witness
development and prosperity beyond the stretches of their fondest
dream. They lived to see a prospective disintegration of the too solid
south, her trusted leaders standing with reluctant feet where politics
and finance meet. They lived to see South Carolina, cradle of
secession, thoroughly reformed by an application of bi-chloride of
Tillmanism for the drink habit, and the entire Southern social system
thoroughly rejuvenated by an invasion of graceful young Sophomores
from Vassar, each with a cogent thesis on the remedy for punctured
tires. They have lived to see the sun of Appomattox flood the planet
with its warming, brightening beams. They have lived to know that the
war's immortal hero, touring around the earth, penetrated no regions
so remote that his fame had not preceded him, and visited no
populations too ignorant to comprehend the significance of his
victories. They have lived to read that in mud-hovels in the deepest
heart of Africa, in thatched huts on the banks of the Ganges, in
cabins buried among Siberian snows, portraits of Lincoln are found,
venerated by benighted peoples as the saint of a new dispensation.
They have lived to see the horizon strewn with wrecks of stricken
dynasties--crowns crumbling, thrones trembling, the whole filmy
remainder of hoary despotisms shriveling like a gossamer scroll. They
have lived to see the flag of our republic floating resplendent in the
zenith, as a token that the Union lives, and that liberty reigneth

                             THE END.

       *       *       *       *       *

     The cover design of this volume is reproduced from a drawing in
     _Edwin Forbes' Army Sketch Book_, with the kind permission of
     the publishers, Messrs. Fords, Howard & Hulbert.

       *       *       *       *       *

    (BILL NYE)



       *       *       *       *       *


(_Russel M. Seeds' Interview with James Whitcomb Riley in the
Indianapolis News._)

One morning James Whitcomb Riley dug up from the pile of recent books
Bill Nye's post-humorous work, "A Guest at the Ludlow and Other
Stories." It was not the first time he had seen it. Indeed; he has
given more care and attention to the bringing out of this last work of
his dead friend than he usually does to the mechanical and business
details of his own books, and he had read and reread everything in it
before it was given to the public. Yet he spent nearly an hour in
loving examination of the volume, reading again with thorough
enjoyment a number of the sketches.

The friendship that existed between the poet and the gentle humorist
was one of those remarkable bonds of sympathy that few men are
fortunate enough to find in life, and those who do seldom find it more
than once. The same keen sense of the ridiculous, the same shyness of
humor in conversation, the same gentleness of spirit and the same
tender anxiety to lighten each other's cares, welded this bond of
sympathy that lasted to the death of the one and will remain through
life a happy memory to the other.

"These stories are more like him than any he ever published while
alive," said Mr. Riley, sauntering over to the desk of the literary
editor and exhibiting the volume. "They breathe the spirit of Nye in
almost every line. Just listen to this." And in his inimitable way he
read an extract from the volume.

"The quaintness and whimsicality of Mr. Nye's humor," said Mr. Riley,
as he closed the little volume gently and held it in his lap, "was the
notable thing about him. It was unaccountable upon any particular
theory. It just seemed natural for his mind to work at that gait. He
recognized the matter-of-fact view others took of the general
propositions of life, and sympathized with it, but he did so with a
native tendency to surprise and astound that ordinary state of mind
and vision. He could say a ridiculous thing or perpetuate a ridiculous
act with a face like a Sphinx, knowing full well that those who saw or
heard would look to his face for some confirmation of their suspicion
that it was time to laugh. They had to make up their minds about it
unaided by him, however, for they never found any trace of levity in
his countenance. As he would say, he did his laughing 'elsewhere.'

"One day in midwinter the train stopped at a way station in the West,
and he had five minutes to wait. Mr. Nye's roving eye had discovered
that the plush-leather pillows of the sofa in the smoking compartment
of the car we were riding in were unattached. Without a word he picked
up the leather cylinders and placed one under each arm, with the
tassels to the front. He was an invalid in looks as well as in
strength, and when he appeared upon the platform thus equipped the
astounded natives watched him with silent, sympathetic curiosity as he
strode up and down, apparently seizing the opportunity for a little
much-needed exercise. The rest of us had to hide to keep from
exploding, but he was utterly oblivious to the stares and comments
until he returned to the car. No explanation was vouchsafed, and the
primitive inhabitants of that town are probably still wondering what
horrible malady compelled that invalid to wear those outlandish


"A favorite amusement with him was the reading of imaginary signs at
the stations when we were traveling. When the train would stop and
that hush would come over the car, with half the people wondering who
their fellow-passengers were and the other half viewing the little
grocery on the one side, or the station, restaurant or bill-board on
the other, Mr. Nye would break forth and begin to read the bill-board
aloud: 'Soda water, crackers--highest prices paid for hides and
tallow--also ice cream, golden syrup and feathers.' The passengers
across the aisle would perk their ears, then rise and come, craning
their necks, to find the words he was reading from the bill-board, or
finally some old fellow would come up to the seat and declare that he
could not find where it said that. In a quiet way this would tickle
Nye beyond measure--away down in the deeps of his sad-pathetic spirit.

"His conferences with the train boys have often nearly given me
convulsions. When the boy handed him a book Nye would ask with great
interest what it was about, and listen patiently to all the boy knew
of its contents. 'Let's see it,' and he would open the book and read
aloud, in a monotonous sing-song, a lot of purest nonsense drawn from
his imagination. It was done so seriously that the boy's eyes would
begin to hang out as the reading went on. Finally Nye would shut the
book up with a snap, losing the place, and hand it back to the boy
with a puzzled air, as if he did not understand why the young man had
lied so about its contents. We could find that boy for an hour
afterwards searching diligently the pages of that book to find where
that stuff was printed.

"Nye's method of 'stringing' people," said Mr. Riley, "was
entertaining always, but never cruel and never earned him the
resentment of the people who were the victims of it. One of the most
artistic cases of this sort I recall was the way he got revenge on a
Chicago tailor. The tailor did not know him when he went to order his
suit, but he did know from his style that he was from the country. He
told Mr. Nye just what kind of a suit he wanted, selected the cloth
and measured him with the assurance that this was a beautiful fast
color and would wear like iron. It should be put up handsomely. When
Nye paid him for the suit and asked that it be shipped to a way
station in Iowa the tailor was sure that he was right in the mental
measurement he had taken of his customer. The suit arrived, neatly
lined with farmer's satin and Nye put it on. Day by day its bright
blue grew lighter and lighter, until, when we arrived in Chicago, six
weeks later, it was a kind of a dingy dun color. Nye remarked as the
train pulled in that his first duty in that city would be to go around
and interview that merchant-liar; and we went. He shambled back to the
rear end of the shop, where he found the man who sold him the
garments. He shook hands with him cordially, said he was glad to renew
the pleasant acquaintance and asked if he knew what had caused the
suit to change its beautiful color, at the same time turning up the
lapel of the coat and showing the striking contrast between the
original and the present color of the cloth.

"'Why, man!' cried the tailor, bristling with defensive indignation,
'what in the world have you been doing to that suit?'

"'Well,' replied Nye, in a tone of the meekest apology, 'you did not
warn me and I suppose it was my fault and I ought to have known
better. But since you insist, I'll tell you frankly what I did: I put
it on and wore it right out in the sun!'

"The tailor saw the point and insisted upon making another suit out of
cloth that was really good and would not accept pay for it.


"Mr. Nye's sudden comments made in the midst of a lecture were often
the means of bringing the house to its feet. He knew better than
anybody his lack of physical ability to fill a large hall with his
voice and he strained every nerve to meet it. Any extraordinary
commotion in the hall discomposed him and he would wait until it
subsided. It was not a pleasant thing for him to hear a voice from the
back of the hall calling 'louder.' Upon such occasions he had a habit
of turning the laugh upon his tormentor by elevating his voice,
looking puzzled and asking what that remark was he had just heard.

"I remember one occasion in particular when we had a remarkably large
hall, crowded to the walls. The entrance was at the further end of the
hall, opposite the platform. Mr. Nye, as usual, opened the evening,
very fearful of his ability to reach the whole throng. He had barely
got started when the doors opened and a great fellow about six feet
and two inches tall entered with two ladies and immediately fell into
an altercation with an usher about his seats. Nye paused and the
altercation could be heard all over the house, with this fellow
arraigning the usher in a very loud voice. Finally it died down a bit
and Nye resumed, but he was interrupted by the man, who held up his
hand and cried, 'Hold on, there, I have paid for seats for this
lecture and propose to hear all of it.'

"Nye replied with great composure: 'In view of the great size of the
hall,' said he, 'I was about to congratulate the audience upon the
foresight of the managers in securing a speaker for each end.'

"The house howled with delight and the applause beat back upon the
obstreperous interrupter with such force that it drove him from the
hall. After this episode Nye was always a great favorite in that city
and was recalled there many times.

"Mr. Nye was a fatalist--not a complaining one, but a fatalist no
less, and with considerable occasion. He was pursued by a spirit of
the perverse. Unexpected, trying things were always happening that
seemed especially in line to test his patience. Indeed, I was
sometimes jealous of him, for these things seemed to occur with
greater force and persistence to him than to me.

[Illustration: A CLOSE SHAVE.]

"I had frequently remarked upon the persistent recurrence of the
number thirteen with me during one of our trips in the South, but this
was one superstition at which Nye scoffed. He told me that at the next
hotel we struck if I objected to being 'incarcerated' in No. 13 he
would risk it once. And not long after I found myself registered for
that fatal number; whereupon I promptly informed Mr. Nye that I should
hold him to his promise. I remember I had a handful of mail I was very
anxious to see, but I would not open it until I had got another room.
Nye declared he wanted to first size up the room he had been assigned
to, and went on down the hall with the landlord. He soon returned with
the remark that he could not lose much and walked into the thirteen
room and set his grip down, returning to where I waited in the hall
outside. He had not more than got out of the door when the heavy
transom fell with a crash. He was convinced that that transom had been
waiting for him for years.

"Mr. Nye was an invalid, but again, as it would seem, it was the
perversity of fate that made the public unwilling to believe that a
humorist could ever be ill or have any reasonable excuse for breaking
an engagement. He never got the benefit of the excuses made for others
when they failed to appear or to write according to expectation.

"One awful winter he was compelled to quit work in the middle of the
season here and go South for his health and to escape the rigors of
this climate. That was the winter that quit right in the middle of its
business here and struck for the South, where they had the coldest
weather they had ever known prior to Mr. Nye's advent. And there,
though he was nearly dead, his syndicate letters had to go on just the
same; and in fancy I can see that heroic, almost dying man on the flat
of his back, writing laboriously upon a scratch-pad, with the wind
blowing the rag carpet on the floor up in billows. He suffered all the
hardship of rigorous winter in summer quarters.

"And while thus ill word reached him of the sudden death of his father
in Wisconsin, so far away that even if he had been able to make the
journey it would have been a physical impossibility for him to have
reached his father's house before the burial. It was a peculiarly hard
blow to him, for they had been friends and chums, as well as father
and son. Yet by the time the news reached him his father had been

"To the last this perverse fate denied to him and his wife that one
pleasure that married couples usually enjoy if they have nothing
else--a wedding journey. He was very poor to begin with, but of a
sanguine temperament, and at the time of his marriage goodnaturedly
informed his bride fully of his circumstances. She, a brave woman and
worthy partner, probably foresaw the force of the man and his coming
recognition in time; at any rate she had great faith in him, and very
cheerfully accepted the situation. Their wedding journey, denied them
in the beginning by their poverty, was deferred from one cause and
another for years, so long that they came to refer to it as to be
taken upon the marriage of their eldest child, when the two couples
could take the journey together.

"But Nye was yet an invalid, and one year when California had been
prescribed for him, we had made a line of engagements toward the
Pacific slope after the regular season. It had been arranged that Mrs.
Nye was to meet us in Kansas City and the trip from there to the coast
was to be the long-deferred wedding journey. He had built great hopes
upon this prospect, and in the pleasure of anticipation had devised a
dozen little schemes for the surprise and entertainment of his wife,
who had already left their home, on Staten Island, to join us. She had
left their four children in care of her niece, a very worthy young
woman, and was somewhere on her way to Kansas City when we arrived

"Nye had expected to find her there, but instead he was confronted
with a telegram from his Staten Island physician stating that all four
of the children had been stricken with scarlet fever. Through the
influence of the physician, who was a great friend of Nye, they had
not been removed to the hospital, as the regulations required, but had
been permitted to remain at home, with the house quarantined. During
the next few hours prior to Mrs. Nye's arrival, and in all agony of
suspense and apprehension, Mr. Nye busied himself with canceling all
further lecture dates, and when Mrs. Nye finally arrived he broke to
her the painful news of their children's illness, and took the next
train back East, not knowing if their little ones would be alive to
greet them when they came.

"Arriving home after that terrible journey, they found the children so
ill that they could not be told of the arrival of the father and
mother; and Nye, with his heart breaking, sat downstairs and wrote to
the children he was not permitted to see in their rooms above, long
and happy letters from California, telling them what jolly lovely
times their mother and father were having in the land of flowers.

"And, therefore," said Mr. Riley, in conclusion, again fondly
referring to the volume, "I am especially rejoiced to see my old
comrade at his best in this last published utterance, and the book
itself so befittingly presented--so handsome and so dignified a
volume, that I am certain a sight of it could but have been highly
gratifying to the gentle humorist himself."


       *       *       *       *       *

A Guest at the Ludlow



    Go, little booklet, go!--
      Bearing an honored name,
    'Till everywhere that you
      have went,
    They're glad that you
      have came.

A volume of humorous stories and sketches, with twenty-one full page
and twelve smaller designs, the latter by the author.

By arrangement with Mrs. Edgar W. Nye, The Bowen-Merrill Co. announce
a volume of humorous stories by Bill Nye (Edgar Wilson Nye), prepared
for publication by him during the last months of his life, entitled



It is printed, bound and illustrated in a style surpassing anything
heretofore issued of Mr. Nye's in book form, and containing the famous
humorist's best and most finished work. Twenty-eight stories and
numerous illustrations, including the author's introduction in
fac-simile. It is the handsomest copyrighted book published this
season for the price, $1.25, sent postpaid to any address on receipt
of the price.

THE BOWEN-MERRILL CO., Publishers, Indianapolis and Kansas City

Transcriber's Note:

Archaic and inconsistent spelling and punctuation retained.

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