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Title: Brave Deeds of Union Soldiers
Author: Scoville, Samuel
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: Sergeant Hunter Charging the Confederates]


Brave Deeds of Union Soldiers


By
SAMUEL SCOVILLE, JR.


PHILADELPHIA
GEORGE W. JACOBS & COMPANY
PUBLISHERS


COPYRIGHT, 1915, BY
GEORGE W. JACOBS & COMPANY
_Published November, 1915_

_All rights reserved_
Printed in U.S.A.



_To Theodore Roosevelt_

_Commissioner, Governor, Colonel and President, who believes in peace
with honor, but never in peace at the price of righteousness and whose
own life has been full of deeds of physical and moral courage, this
book of brave deeds is dedicated._



Foreword


In these days when even our skies are shadowed by wars and rumors of
wars, it is fitting to remember what men and women and children of our
blood have done in the past. In this chronicle have been included not
alone the great deeds of great men, but also the brave deeds of
commonplace people. May the tale of their every-day heroism be an
inspiration to each one of us to do our best endeavor when we find
ourselves in the crisis-times of life.



Contents


   I. THE BARE BRIGADE                                        11

  II. THE ESCAPE FROM LIBBY PRISON                            19

 III. TWO AGAINST A CITY                                      39

  IV. BOY HEROES                                              51

   V. THE CHARGE OF ZAGONYI                                   79

  VI. THE LOCOMOTIVE CHASE                                    95

 VII. SHERIDAN'S RIDE                                        121

VIII. THE BLOODY ANGLE                                       141

  IX. HEROES OF GETTYSBURG                                   163

   X. THE LONE SCOUT                                         185

  XI. RUNNING THE GAUNTLET                                   213

 XII. FORGOTTEN HEROES                                       229

XIII. THE THREE HUNDRED WHO SAVED AN ARMY                    253

 XIV. THE RESCUE OF THE SCOUTS                               273

  XV. THE BOY-GENERAL                                        311

 XVI. MEDAL-OF-HONOR MEN                                     325



Illustrations


Sergeant Hunter Charging the Confederates          _Frontispiece_

Libby Prison                                    _Facing page_ 24

Captain Bailey and Midshipman Read
Facing the New Orleans Mob                      "      "      46

Sheridan Hurrying to Rally his Men              "      "     136

The Battle of Gettysburg                        "      "     174

Corporal Pike                                   "      "     190

In the Woods Near Chancellorsville              "      "     264

Attacking the Inner Traverses of Fort Fisher    "      "     320



CHAPTER I

THE BARE BRIGADE


Kipling wrote one of his best stories on how Mulvaney and his captain
with an undressed company swam the Irriwaddy River in India and
captured Lungtungpen. It was a brave deed. The average man can't be
brave without his clothes.

In the Civil War there was one unchronicled fight where a few naked,
shoeless men swam a roaring river, marched through a thorny forest and
captured a superior and entrenched force of the enemy together with
their guns. This American Lungtungpen happened on the great march of
General Sherman to the sea. He had fought the deadly and lost battle of
Kenesaw Mountain, and failing to drive out the crafty Confederate
General Johnson by direct assault outflanked him and forced him to fall
back. Then the Union Army celebrated the Fourth of July, 1864, by the
battle of Ruffs Station and drove Johnson back and across the
Chattahoochee River. The heavy rains had so swollen this river that all
the fords were impassable, while the Confederates had destroyed all
boats for miles up and down the river to prevent them from being used
by the Union Army and had settled down for a rest from their relentless
pursuers. General McCook was commanding the part of the Union line
fronting directly on the river. Orders came from General Sherman to
cross at Cochran's Ford and Colonel Brownlow of the First Tennessee
Regiment was ordered to carry out this command. He was the son of
Fighting Parson Brownlow and had the reputation of not knowing what
fear was. The attempt was made at three o'clock in the morning. It was
raining in torrents and the men at the word of command dashed into the
river. The water kept getting deeper and deeper and the bottom proved
to be covered with great boulders over which the horses stumbled and
round which the cross torrents foamed and rushed. When the men had
finally reached the middle of the river and were swimming for dear
life, suddenly a company of Confederates on the other side opened up on
them at close range. As the bullets zipped and pattered through the
water, the floundering, swimming men turned around and made the best of
their way back, feeling that this was an impossible crossing to make.
Once safely back they deployed on the bank and kept up a scattering
fire all that morning against the enemy.

As the day wore on, Colonel Dorr, who commanded the brigade, made his
appearance and inquired angrily why the First Tennessee was not on the
other side and in possession of the opposite bank. Colonel Brownlow
explained that he had made the attempt, that there was no ford and that
to attempt to make a swimming charge through the rough water and in the
face of an entrenched enemy would be to sacrifice his whole regiment
uselessly. Colonel Dorr would listen to no explanations.

"If you and your men are afraid to do what you're told, say so and I'll
report to General Sherman and see if he can't find some one else," he
shouted and rode off, leaving Colonel Brownlow and his command in a
fighting frame of mind. The former called nine of his best men to the
rear and it was some time before he was calm enough to speak.

"Boys," he said at last, "we've _got_ to cross that river. It's plain
it can't be forded. We've no pontoons and I am not going to have my men
slaughtered while they swim, but you fellows come with me and we'll
drive those Rebs out of there before dark."

He then gave directions for the rest of his men to keep up a tremendous
fire to divert the attention of the enemy. In the meanwhile he and his
little squad marched through the brush to a point about a mile up the
river behind a bend. There they stripped to the skin and made a little
raft of two logs. On this they placed their carbines, cartridge boxes
and belts and swam out into the rough water, pushing the little raft in
front of them. It was hard going. The water was high, and every once in
a while the fierce current would dash and bruise some of the men
against the boulders which were scattered everywhere along the bed of
the river. The best swimmers, however, helped the weaker ones and they
all worked together to keep the precious raft right side up and their
ammunition and rifles dry. After a tremendous struggle they finally
reached the opposite bank without having seen any Confederates. There
they lined up, strapped on their cartridge belts, shouldered their
carbines and started to march through the brush. Every step they took
over the sharp stones and twigs and thorns was agony and the men
relieved themselves by using extremely strong language.

"No swearing, men!" said Colonel Brownlow, sternly.

At that moment he stepped on a long thorn and instantly disobeyed his
own order. He halted the column, extracted the thorn and amended his
order.

"No swearing, men,--unless it's absolutely necessary," he commanded.

They limped along through the brush until they reached a road that led
to the ford some four hundred yards in the rear of the enemy whom they
could see firing away for dear life at the Union soldiers on the other
side. The Confederate forces consisted of about fifty men. Colonel
Brownlow and his nine crept through the brush as silently as possible
until they were within a few yards of the unconscious enemy. Then they
straightened up, cocked their carbines, poured in a volley and with a
tremendous yell charged down upon them. The Confederates upon receiving
this unexpected attack from the rear sprang to their feet, but when
they saw the ten white ghostly figures charge down upon them, yelling
like madmen, it was too much for their nerves and they scattered on
every side. Twelve of them were captured. The last one was a
freckle-faced rebel who tried to hide behind a tree. When seen,
however, he came forward and threw down his gun.

"Well, Yanks, I surrender," he said, "but it ain't fair. You ought to
be ashamed to go charging around the country this way. If you'd been
captured, we'd have hung you for spies because you ain't got any
uniforms on."

Colonel Brownlow hustled his prisoners up the river to the raft and
made them swim across in front of them and then reported to General
McCook that he had driven the enemy out of the rifle-pits, captured
twelve men, one officer and two boats. Shortly afterward the
Confederates withdrew from their position for, as some of the prisoners
explained, they felt that if the Yanks could fight like that undressed,
there was no telling what they'd do if they came over with their
clothes on.



CHAPTER II

THE ESCAPE FROM LIBBY PRISON


It takes a brave man to face danger alone. It takes a braver man to
face danger in the dark. This is the story of a man who was brave
enough to do both. It is the story of one who by his dogged courage
broke out of a foul grave when it seemed as if all hopes for life were
gone and who rescued himself and one hundred and eight other Union
soldiers from the prison where they lay fretting away their lives.

Libby Prison, the Castle Despair of captured Union officers, stood upon
a hilltop in Richmond, the capital and center of the Confederacy. It
was divided into three sections by solid walls, also ringed around by a
circle of guards and there seemed to be no hopes for any of the
hundreds of prisoners to break out and escape.

In September, 1863, Colonel Thomas Rose, of the 77th Pennsylvania
Volunteers, was taken prisoner at the terrible battle of Chickamauga.
From the minute he was captured he thought of nothing else but of
escape, although he had a broken foot which would have been enough to
keep most men quiet. On the way to Richmond, he managed to crawl
through the guards and escape into the pine-forests through which they
were passing. There he wandered for twenty-four hours without food or
water and suffering terribly from his wound. At the end of that time he
was recaptured by a troop of Confederate cavalry and this time was
carefully guarded and brought to Libby Prison. This prison was a
three-story brick building which had formerly been occupied by Libby &
Company as a ship-chandlery establishment. There were several hundred
Union officers imprisoned there when Colonel Rose arrived. First he was
taken into the office of the commandant. Back of his desk was a United
States flag fastened "Union down," an insult for every loyal Union man
that had to pass through this office.

"We'll teach you to take better care of the old flag," remarked Colonel
Rose as he stood before the commandant's desk for examination.

The commandant scowled at this prisoner, but Rose looked him in the eye
without flinching.

"You won't have a chance to do much teaching for some years," said the
commandant at last, grimly, "and you'll learn a lot of things that you
don't know now."

As Colonel Rose went up the ladder which led to the upper rooms and his
head showed above the floor, a great cry went up from the rest of the
prisoners of "Fresh fish! fresh fish! fresh fish!" This was the way
that each newcomer was received and sometimes he was hazed a little
like any other freshman.

Although not as bad as some of the prisons, Libby Prison was no health
resort. At times there were nearly a thousand prisoners crowded in
there with hardly standing room. At night they all lined up in rows and
laid down at the word of command, so closely packed that the floor was
literally covered with them. Each one had to go to bed and get up at
the same time. These crowded conditions made for disease and dirt, and
the place was alive with vermin.

"Skirmish for gray-backs," was the morning call in Libby Prison before
the men got up. Each prisoner then would sit up in his place, strip off
his outer garments and cleanse himself as much as possible from the
crawling gray-backs, as they had nicknamed the vermin which attacked
all alike. The food was as bad as the quarters. Soon after Rose arrived
one man found a whole rat baked in a loaf of corn-cake which had been
furnished as a part of his rations. The rat had probably jumped into
the dough-trough while the corn-cake was being made and had been
knocked in the head by the cook and worked into the cake. Another
officer made himself one night a bowl of soup by boiling a lot of beans
together with a fresh ham-bone. He set it aside to wait until morning
so as to enjoy his treat by daylight. Afterward he was glad he did, for
he found his soup full of boiled maggots. At times the men were
compelled to eat mule-meat and sometimes were not even given that but
had to sell their clothing to keep from starving. In each room was a
single water faucet without basin or tub. This was all that perhaps a
couple of hundred men had to use both for washing and drinking
purposes. The death-rate from disease in these crowded quarters was, of
course, terribly high.

[Illustration: Libby Prison]

From the day Rose entered the prison he made up his mind that he would
not die there like a sick dog if there was any way of escape and there
was not a moment of his waking hours in which he was not planning some
way to get out. Although the prisoners were not supposed to have
communication with each other or from outside, there was a complete
system under which each one had news from all over the prison as well
as from the outside world. This was done by a series of raps
constituting the prison telegraph. As the guards usually visited the
prison only at intervals in the daytime, the prisoners managed to pass
back and forth down through the chimney throughout the whole prison in
spite of locked doors and supposedly solid walls. Messages and money
were frequently sent in from outside. A favorite trick was to wind
greenbacks around a spool and then have the thread wound by machinery
over this money. Gold pieces were sealed up in cans of condensed milk.
Maps, compasses and other helps for escaping prisoners were sent in a
box. In order to prevent suspicion of the fact that the box had a
double bottom, two double bottoms were placed on the box side by side
with a space between them. When the contents were turned out, the
prison inspectors could see the light shining through the bottom of the
box and were thus convinced that there could be no double bottom there.
Letters were sent in containing apparently harmless home-news. Between
the lines, information as to routes and guards was written in lemon
juice. This was invisible until exposed to heat, when the writing would
show.

Colonel Rose was placed in the topmost room of the eastern wing. This
was named Upper Gettysburg. From there he saw workmen entering a sewer
in the middle of a street which led to the canal lying at the foot of
the hill on which the prison stood. He at once decided to tunnel into
this sewer and crawl through that into the canal which was beyond the
line of the guards. With this plan in view, he began to explore the
prison. One dark afternoon he managed to make his way down through the
rooms to one of the dungeons underneath, which was known as Rat Hell.
This had been used as a dead-house and was fairly swarming with rats.
As he was fumbling around there he suddenly heard a noise and in a
minute another man came in. Each thought the other was a guard, but
finally it turned out that the intruder was a fellow-prisoner, a
Kentucky major named Hamilton. This Major and Rose at once became fast
friends and immediately planned a tunnel from a corner of Rat Hell
after securing a broken shovel and two kitchen knives. They had no more
than begun this, however, before alterations were made in the prison
which cut them off from this dungeon. By this time the other prisoners
had noticed the midnight visits of Rose and Hamilton as well as their
constant conferences together and it was buzzed around everywhere that
there was a plot on hand to break out of Libby. For fear of spies or
traitors, Rose decided to organize a company of the most reliable men
and plan a dash out through one of the walls and the overpowering of
the guards. Seventy-two men were sworn in and everything was arranged
for the dash for freedom one cloudy night. The little band had all
gathered in Rat Hell and sentries had been placed at the floor opening
into the kitchen above. Suddenly footsteps were heard and the signal
was given that the guards were making a tour of inspection of the
prison. In perfect silence and with the utmost swiftness, each man went
up the rope-ladder to the floor above and stole into his bed. Rose was
the last man up. He managed to reach the kitchen and hide his
rope-ladder about ten seconds before the officer of the guard thrust
his lantern into the door of the lowest sleeping chamber. Rose had no
time to lie down, but with great presence of mind sat at a table and
stuck an old pipe into his mouth and nodded his head as if he had gone
to sleep while sitting up and smoking. The guard stared at him for a
moment and passed on.

The next day the leaders decided that some news of the attempt must
have reached the authorities outside to account for this sudden and
unusual visit. It was decided to raise the numbers and make an
immediate attempt. The band was increased from seventy-two to four
hundred and twenty. With the increase in numbers, however, there seemed
to be a decrease of courage. Many of the officers feared that it was a
hopeless plan for a crowd of unarmed men to break through a ring of
armed guards and that such an attempt would merely arouse the town and
they would be hemmed in, driven back and shot down in crowds inside the
prison walls. Finally a vote was taken and it was decided to abandon
this plan.

Once more Rose and Hamilton found themselves the only two left who were
absolutely resolved on an escape. After talking the matter over, they
decided to begin another tunnel. This time they had only an old
jack-knife and a chisel to work with and they could only work between
ten at night and four in the morning. They started back of the kitchen
fireplace and there removed twelve bricks and dug a tunnel down to Rat
Hell so that they could reach this base without disturbing any other
prisoners and without being exposed to detection by the guard. One
would work and the other would watch. At dawn each day the bricks were
replaced and the cracks filled in with soot. They had no idea of
direction and this tunnel was nearly the death of Rose. The digging was
done by him while Major Hamilton would fan air to him with his hat, but
so foul was the air below ground that bits of candle which they had
stolen from the hospital would go out at a distance of only four feet
from the cellar wall. In spite of this terrible atmosphere, Rose dug
his tunnel clear down to the canal, but unfortunately went under the
canal and the water rushed in and he had a narrow escape from being
drowned. By this time both men were so nearly exhausted that they
decided to take in helpers again. Thirteen men were chosen to work with
them and were all sworn to secrecy. The flooded passage was plugged and
a fresh one started in the direction of a small sewer which ran from a
corner of the prison down to the main sewer beyond. Night after night
in the mud and stench and reek underground they dug their tunnel. At
last they reached the small sewer only to find that it was lined with
wood. The only cutting tools they had were a few small pen-knives. With
these they slowly whittled a hole through the wooden lining and the
fourteen men were all in high hopes of an escape. The night came when
only a few hours of work would be necessary to make a hole large enough
to enter the small sewer. It was then hoped they could all crawl from
this into the larger one and down into the canal safe past the guards.
Once again they were all grouped shivering at the entrance to the
tunnel, waiting for the man who was working inside to pass the word
back that the opening was made. Suddenly the news came back that the
entrance into the large sewer was barred by planks of solid, seasoned
oak six inches thick. The chisel and the penknives were worn down to
the handles. For thirty-nine nights these men had worked at the highest
possible pitch under indescribable conditions. There was not an inch of
steel left to cut with or an ounce of reserved strength to go on
farther. Despairingly, the party broke up, put away the kits which they
had prepared for the march and once again Rose and Hamilton were left
alone by their discouraged comrades.

After a day's rest, these two decided to start another tunnel in the
north corner of the cellar away from the canal. This tunnel would come
out close to the sentry beat of the guards, but Rose had noticed that
this beat was nearly twenty yards long and it was decided that in the
dark there would be a fair chance of slipping through unseen. Once
again Rose and Hamilton started on this new task alone. They had
finally obtained another chisel and this was the only tool which they
had. Once more Rose did the digging. Hamilton would fan with all his
strength and Rose would work until he felt his senses going, then he
would crawl back into the cellar and rest and get his breath. The earth
was dragged out in an old wooden cuspidor which they had smuggled down
from their room and Hamilton would hide this under a pile of straw in
the cellar. The tunnel became longer and longer, but Rose was nearly at
the end of his strength. It was absolutely impossible to breathe the
fetid air in the farther end of the tunnel, nor could Hamilton alone
fan any fresh air to him. Once again, and with great difficulty, a new
party of ten was organized. These worked in shifts--one man dug and two
or three fanned the air through the tunnel with their hats, another man
dragged the earth into the cellar and a fifth kept watch. The first
five would work until exhausted and then their places would be taken by
the second shift. They finally decided to work also by day and now the
digging went on without interruption every minute of the twenty-four
hours. Finally, the little band of exhausted workers had gone nearly
fifty feet underground. They were on the point of breaking down from
absolute exhaustion. The night-shift would come out into Rat Hell and
be too tired and dazed to find their way out and would have to be
looked after in the dark and led back to the rooms above like little
children.

Rose, in spite of all that he had been through, was the strongest of
the lot and could work after every other man had fallen out. It was
still necessary for the tunnel to be carried five feet further to clear
the wall. Once again a sickening series of accidents and surprises
occurred. The day-shift always ran the risk of being missed at
roll-call, which was held every morning and afternoon. Usually this was
got around by repeating--one man running from the end of the line
behind the backs of his comrades and answering the name of the missing
man. On one occasion, however, there were two missing and a search was
at once begun which might have resulted in finding the entrance to the
tunnel. There was just time to pull these two up out of the dark and
brush off the telltale dirt from their hands and clothes and tell them
to lie down and play sick. Neither one of them needed to do much
pretending and they both showed such signs of breakdown that the prison
inspector came near sending them to the hospital, which would also have
delayed operations. The next day, while one man was inside the tunnel,
a party of guards entered Rat Hell and remained there so long that it
was evident they must have suspected that something was going on.
Colonel Rose called his band together for a conference. He believed
that two days of solid work would finish the tunnel. The rest of the
men, however, pleaded for time. They were half sick, wholly exhausted
and discouraged. Rose decided that he would risk no further delay and
that the last two days' work should be entrusted to no one except
himself. The next day was Sunday and the cellar was usually not
inspected on that day. He posted his fanners and sentries and at early
dawn crawled into the tunnel and worked all day long and far into the
night lying full length in a stifling hole hardly two feet in diameter.
When he dragged himself out that night, he could not stand but had to
be carried across the cellar and up the rope ladder and fanned and
sponged with cold water and fed what soup they could obtain until he
was able to talk. He then told the band that he believed that twelve
hours more of work would carry the tunnel beyond the danger line. He
slept for a few hours and then, in spite of the protests of the others,
crawled down into the reeking hole again, followed by the strongest of
the band who were to act as fanners.

For seventeen days they had been working and the tunnel was now
fifty-three feet long. In order to save time, Rose had made the last
few feet so narrow that it was impossible for him to even turn over or
shift his position. All day long he worked. Night came and he still
toiled on, although his strokes were so feeble that he only advanced by
inches each hour. Finally it was nearly midnight of the last day and
Rose had reached the limit of his strength. The fanners were so
exhausted that they could no longer push the air to the end of the
tunnel. Rose felt himself dying of suffocation. He was too weak to
crawl backward, nor had he strength to take another stroke. The air
became fouler and thicker and he felt his senses leaving him and he
gasped again and again in a struggle for one breath of pure air. In
what he felt was his death agony, he finally forced himself over on his
back and struck the earth above him with his fists as he unconsciously
clutched at his throat in the throes of suffocation. Thrusting out his
arms in one last convulsive struggle, he suddenly felt both fists go
through the earth and a draught of pure, life-giving air came in. For a
moment Rose had the terrible feeling that it was too late and that he
was too sick to rally. Once again, however, his indomitable courage
drove back death. For some minutes he lay slowly breathing the air of
out-of-doors. It was like the elixir of life to him after long months
of breathing the foul atmosphere of the prison and tunnel. Little by
little his strength came back and he slowly enlarged the hole and
finally thrust his head and shoulders cautiously out into the yard. The
first thing that caught his eye was a star and he felt as if he had
broken out of the grave and come back again to hope and life. He found
that he was still on the prison side of the wall, but directly in front
of him was a gate which was fastened only by a swinging bar. Rose spent
some moments practicing raising this bar until he felt sure he could do
it quietly and swiftly. Just outside was the sentry beat. Rose waited
until the sentry's back was turned, opened the gate and peered out,
convincing himself that there was plenty of time to pass out of the
gate and into the darkness beyond before the sentry turned to come
back. He then lowered himself again into the stifling tunnel, drew a
plank which he found in the yard over the opening, after first
carefully concealing the fresh earth, and crept back again into Rat
Hell.

It was three o'clock in the morning when Rose gathered together his
little band and told them that at last Libby Prison was open. Rose and
Hamilton, the leaders, were anxious to start at once. They had seen so
many accidents and so many strokes of misfortune that they urged an
instant escape. The others, however, begged them to wait and to leave
early the next evening so that they could gain a whole night's start
before their absence was found at the morning roll-call. With many
misgivings, Rose at last consented to do this. The next day was the
most nerve-racking day of his life. Every noise or whisper of the guard
seemed to him to be a sign that the tunnel had been discovered. The
time finally dragged along and nothing happened and once again the
party met in Rat Hell at seven o'clock in the evening of February 9th
and Rose and the faithful Hamilton led the way through the tunnel to
freedom. Every move was carefully planned. The plank was raised
noiselessly and Rose had taken the precaution to leave the gate
half-open so that the sentry on duty that night would see nothing
unusual. He found it just as he had left it. All that was necessary now
to do was for each man to wait until the sentry had passed a few yards
beyond the gate and then to start noiselessly through and out to
freedom. All thirteen escaped easily. The last man left a message that
the prison was open to any one who dared try the tunnel. By nine
o'clock that night the message flashed through each ward that the
colonel and a party had escaped. There was a rush for the hole at the
fireplace and one hundred and nine other prisoners slipped through and
got safely past the guard. After days and weeks of hiding, starving and
freezing, the original party and many of the others got safely through
to the Union lines.

Castle Despair had again been broken by Mr. Great Heart.



CHAPTER III

TWO AGAINST A CITY


It takes brave men to fight battles. It takes braver men to face death
without fighting.

In the spring of 1862 New Orleans, the Queen City of the South, was
blockaded by the Union fleet. No one could come in or go out. The grass
grew in her empty streets. The wharves were deserted and cobwebs lay on
the shut and barred warehouses. The river itself, which had been
thronged with the masts and funnels of a thousand crowded craft, flowed
yellow and empty as the Amazon.

As business stopped and wages grew scarce and scarcer, the fierce,
dangerous part of the population which comes to the surface in times of
siege began to gain more and more control of the city. For years there
had been a secret society of criminals in New Orleans which had often
controlled her city government. It was known as the "Thugs." Heretofore
they had always worked in secret and underground. Now criminals who
formerly would only come out at night and secretly, were seen on the
streets in open day. As the Union lines closed around the city by sea
and land, the crowds of men and women without money and without work
became as fierce and bitter and dangerous as rats in a trap. For a
while they told each other that the city could never be taken. Nothing
afloat, they said again and again, can pass by the great chain and the
sunken ships that block the river. If they could they would sink under
the withering fire of Fort Jackson, a great star-shaped fort of stone
and mortar, or Fort St. Phillip with its fifty-two guns which could be
brought to bear on any vessel going up or down the river. Beyond the
forts was a fleet of rams and gunboats and in a shipyard over at
Jefferson, one of the suburbs of New Orleans, was building the great
iron-clad _Mississippi_, which alone they felt would be equal to
the whole blockading fleet. So thought and said the swarming unemployed
thousands of New Orleans. Finally came a dreadful day when the tops of
the naked masts of the hated Yankee fleet showed against the evening
sky across one of the bends of the river. Then came the roar of distant
guns for a day and a night as the Union vessels attacked the forts and
concealed batteries. Still the people believed in their defenses
although the firing came nearer and nearer. Not until they saw the city
troops carry the cotton out of the cotton-presses down to the wharves
to be burned in miles of twisting flame to save it from the Union Army
did they realize how close was the day of the surrender of the city.
Then all the empty ships which had been moored out in the river were
fired and the warehouses of provisions still left were broken open.
Mobs of desperate men and women surged back and forth fighting for the
sugar and rice and molasses with which the wharves were covered.
Suddenly around Slaughter House Point, silent, grim and terrible, came
the black fleet which had safely run the gauntlet of forts, gunboats,
batteries and torpedoes. For the first time since the war had begun,
the Stars and Stripes floated again in sight of New Orleans. As the
fleet came nearer and nearer, the crowds which blackened the wharves
and levees of New Orleans shouted for the _Mississippi_.

"Where is the _Mississippi_? Ram the Yanks! Mississippi! Mississippi!
Mississippi!" thousands of voices roared across the water and through
the forsaken streets of the doomed city. And then, as if called by the
shout of her city, around a bend suddenly floated the great iron-clad
_Mississippi_ which was to save New Orleans,--a helpless, drifting
mass of flames. There was a moment of utter silence and then a scream
of rage and despair went up that drowned the crackling of the flames.

"Betrayed! Betrayed! We have been betrayed!" was the cry which went up
everywhere. No stranger's life was worth a moment's purchase. One man
whose only crime was that he was unknown to the mob was seized at one
of the wharves and in an instant was swinging, twisting and choking,
from the end of a rope at a lamp-post. Through the crowds flitted the
Thugs and began a reign of terror against all whom they hated or
feared. Men were hung and shot and stabbed to death that day at a word.
The mob was as dangerous, desperate and as unreasoning as a mad dog.
Through this roaring, frothing, cursing crowd it was necessary for
Admiral Farragut to send messengers to the mayor at the City Hall to
demand the surrender of the city. It seemed to the men in the ships
like going into a den of trapped wild beasts, yet instantly Captain
Theodorus Bailey, the second in command, demanded from the admiral the
right to undertake this dangerous mission. With a little guard of
twenty men he was landed on the levee in front of a howling mob which
crowded the river-front as far as the eye could reach. They offered an
impenetrable line through which no man could pass. Captain Bailey drew
his marines up in line and tried to reason with the mob, but could not
even be heard. He then ordered his men to level their muskets and take
aim. In an instant the mob had pushed forward to the front crowds of
women and children and dared the Yanks to shoot. Captain Bailey
realized that nothing could be done by force without a useless
slaughter of men and women and children. In order to save this he
decided to try what could be done by two unarmed men. If this plan
failed, it would be time enough to try what could be done by grape and
canister. Taking a flag of truce and choosing as his companion a young
midshipman named Read, whom he knew to be a man of singular coolness,
Captain Bailey started up the street to the City Hall. It was a
desperate chance. The mob had already tasted blood and it was almost
certain that some one would shoot or stab these two representatives of
the hated Yanks as soon as they were out of sight of the ships. The
slightest sign of fear or hesitation would mean the death of both of
them. Captain Bailey and Midshipman Read, however, were men who would
take just such a chance. Slowly, unconcernedly, they walked along the
streets through a roar of shouts, and curses, and cheers for Jeff
Davis. As they reached the middle of the city, the crowd became more
and more threatening. They were pushed and jostled while men, many of
them members of the dreaded Thugs, thrust cocked revolvers into their
faces and waved bowie-knives close to their throats. Others rushed up
with coils of rope which had already done dreadful service. Captain
Bailey never even glanced at the men around him, but looking straight
ahead walked on as unconcernedly as if he were treading his own
quarter-deck. Young Read acted as if he were bored with the whole
proceeding. He examined carefully the brandished revolvers and knives
and smiled pleasantly into the distorted, scowling, gnashing faces
which were thrust up against his. Occasionally he would half pause to
examine some building which seemed to impress him as particularly
interesting and would then saunter unconcernedly along after his
captain.

[Illustration: Captain Bailey and Midshipman Read Facing the New
Orleans Mob]

Right on through the gauntlet of death passed the two men with never a
quiver of the eye or a motion of the face to show that they even knew
the mob was there. Little by little, men who had retained something of
their self-control began to persuade the more lawless part of the
rabble to fall back. It was whispered around that Farragut, that old
man of iron and fire, had said that he would level the city as flat as
the river if a hand were even laid on his envoys. Finally through the
surging streets appeared the City Hall and the end of that desperate
march was in sight. At the very steps of the City Hall the mob took a
last stand. Half-a-dozen howling young ruffians, with cocked revolvers
in either hand, stood on the lower step and dared the Union messengers
to go an inch farther. Midshipman Read stepped smilingly ahead of his
captain and gently pushed with either hand two of the cursing young
desperadoes far enough to one side to allow for a passageway between
them. Both of them actually placed the muzzles of their cocked
revolvers against his neck as a last threat, but even the touch of cold
steel did not drive away Read's amused smile. The mob gave up.
Evidently these men had resources about which they knew nothing.

"They were so sure that we wouldn't kill them that we couldn't," said
one of the Thugs afterward in explaining why the hated messengers had
been allowed to march up the steps.

They sauntered into the mayor's room where they met a group of
white-faced, trembling men who were the mayor and his council. Captain
Bailey delivered the admiral's summons for the surrender of the city to
the mayor. The mob, which at first had stayed back, at this point
surged up to the windows and shouted curses and threats into the very
mayor's room, threatening him and the council if they dared to
surrender the city. Captain Bailey and his companion gave the trembling
city officials a few minutes in which to make up their minds. Suddenly
there was heard a roar outside louder than any which had come before.
The mob had torn down the Union flag which had been hoisted over the
custom house and rushing to the mayor's office, tore it to pieces
outside the open windows and threw the fragments in at the seated
envoys. This insult to their flag aroused Captain Bailey and young Read
as no threats against them personally had been able to do. Turning to
the mayor and the shrinking council, Bailey said, "As there is a God in
heaven, the man who tore down that Union flag shall hang for it." Later
on this promise was carried out by the inflexible General Butler when
he took over the city from Admiral Farragut and hanged Mumford, the man
who tore down the flag in the city square, before the very mob which
had so violently applauded his action. This incident was the last straw
for the mayor and his associates. They neither dared to refuse to
surrender the city lest it should be bombarded by Farragut nor did they
dare to surrender it for fear of the mob which had gathered around them
with significant coils of rope over their arms. In a half-whisper they
hurriedly notified Captain Bailey that they could not surrender the
city, but that they would make no resistance if the Union forces
occupied it. Looking at them contemptuously, Captain Bailey turned
away, picked up the fragments of the torn flag and faced the mob
outside threateningly. The man who had torn the flag slunk back and his
example was contagious. One by one men commenced to sneak away and in a
minute the City Hall was deserted and Captain Bailey and Midshipman
Read were able to leave the building and drive back to the vessels in a
carriage obtained for them by the mayor's secretary.

So ended what one of the mob, who afterward became a valued citizen of
his state, described as the bravest deed he had ever seen--two unarmed
men facing and defeating a mob of murderers and madmen.



CHAPTER IV

BOY HEROES


One doesn't have to be big, or old, or strong to be brave. But one does
have to believe in something so much and so hard that nothing else
counts, even death. An idea that is so big that everything else seems
small is called an ideal. It is easy for a boy with an ideal to be
brave. Cassabianca, the boy who stayed on the burning ship because he
had been ordered to wait there by his dead father, had made obedience
his ideal. The boy of Holland who found a leak in the dyke which could
only be stopped by his hand, and who stayed through the long night and
saved his village but lost his right hand had learned this great ideal
of self-sacrifice. The shepherd boy who saved his sheep from a lion and
a bear and who afterward was the only one who dared enter the fatal
valley and meet the fierce giant-warrior had as his ideal faith. He
believed so strongly that he was doing God's will that he shared God's
strength.

In the great war between slavery and freedom which swept like fire over
the country, boys learned the ideals for which their fathers fought.
They learned to believe so entirely in freedom that there was no room
left for fear. Many of them went to the war as drummer boys, the only
way in which boys could enlist. One of these was Johnny McLaughlin of
the Tenth Indiana. Johnny lived at a place called Lafayette and was not
quite eleven years old. From the minute that the war broke out he
thought of nothing but what he could do for his country and for
freedom. Other boys played at drilling and marching, but this was not
enough for him. He made inquiries and found that if he could learn to
drum, there was a chance that he might be allowed to enlist. He said
nothing at first to his father and mother about his plans, but saved
all his spending-money and worked every holiday in order to get enough
to buy a drum. Times were hard, however. There was little money for
men, much less for boys, and after Johnny had worked for over two
months, he had saved exactly two dollars. In the village was a drummer
who had been sent home to recover from his wounds and to him Johnny
went one day to ask how much more he would have to save before he could
buy a drum. The man told him that a good drum would cost him at least
ten dollars. Johnny sighed and turned away very much discouraged.

"Why don't you play something else?" said the man. "You can get more
fun out of ten dollars than buying a drum with it."

"I don't want it to play with," said Johnny. "I want to learn to drum
so that I can enlist."

At first the man laughed at the boy--he seemed so little, but when he
found that Johnny had made up his mind to do his share for his country
in the great fight, Donaldson, as he was named, became serious.

"I tell you what I'll do," he said at last. "If you are really in
earnest about learning to drum, I'll give you lessons myself, for,"
said he modestly, "I was the best drummer in my regiment. If you can
learn and they will take you, I'll give you the old drum. I'll send it
to the front even if I can't go myself."

This was enough for Johnny. Morning, noon and night he was with his
friend Donaldson and it was a wonder that the drum-head was not worn
out long before he learned. Learn he did, however, and in a few months
there was not a roll or a call which he could not play. One morning as
the school-bell was ringing, Johnny presented himself to his parents
with the big drum around his neck looking nearly as large as he was.

"I'm going to enlist," he said simply.

At first his father and mother, like Donaldson, were inclined to laugh
at him, he was such a little boy, but Johnny was in earnest and a boy
who is in earnest always gets what he wants. A few days later found him
a drummer for the Tenth Indiana and as he led the regiment, beating the
long roll, Johnny was the proudest boy that had ever come out of
Indiana. He had his first taste of fire at Fort Donelson and afterward
at the bloody battle of Shiloh. Johnny drummed until the terrible
drumming of the muskets drowned out even his loud notes. Then he laid
down his sticks, carefully hid his drum, took a musket and cartridge
box from off one of the dead soldiers and ran on with his regiment and
fought in the front with the bravest of them all. He had a quick eye
and it was not long before he could shoot as accurately as any man
there.

It was just after Shiloh that Johnny had a narrow escape from being
captured. Wanting to try everything, he obtained permission to do
picket duty at night although this work was not required of drummer
boys. As he had shown himself such a cool and ready fighter, his
colonel felt that he was entirely able to do this duty and one dark
night put him on picket. His post was some distance away from the camp.
Just at dawn he was suddenly rushed by a party of rebel cavalry. As
they burst out of the bushes Johnny fired his carbine at the first one,
dropping him, and ran across an open field about fifty yards wide. At
the other side was an old, rotten, log fence and beyond that a mass of
briers and underbrush where he was sure the horses could not follow.
Fortunately for him the rains had made the field a mass of mud. There
his lightness gave him the advantage, for the horses slumped through at
every step. The rebels fired constantly at him as they rode with their
pistols. One ball went through his hat, another clear through his
cartridge box and lodged in his coat, fortunately without exploding any
of the cartridges. Beyond the middle of the field the ground was drier
and the horsemen commenced to gain on him, but he reached the fence
well ahead and with one jump landed on the top. The rotten rails gave
way underneath him and he plunged headlong over into the brush, right
on the back of a big sleeping wild pig who had rooted out a lair at
this place. The pig jumped up grunting and crashed through the
underbrush and Johnny heard his pursuers smashing through the broken
fence not a rod away. He curled up into the round hole which the pig
had left, drew down the bushes over his head and lay perfectly quiet.
The horsemen, hearing the rustling of leaves and the smashing of
branches as the pig dashed off down a pathway, followed after at full
gallop and were out of sight in a minute. As soon as the sound of their
galloping had died away, Johnny crawled cautiously out of his hole and
made the best of his way back to camp. The next day some of the rebel
cavalry were taken prisoners and Johnny recognized one of them as the
leader of the squad which had so nearly caught him. The prisoner
recognized the boy at the same time and they both grinned cheerfully at
each other.

"Did you catch that pig yesterday?" finally said Johnny.

"We did that," retorted the prisoner, "but it wasn't the one we were
after."

Johnny had always been able to ride the most spirited horses on the
farm and after Shiloh he asked to be transferred from the infantry to
Colonel Jacob's Kentucky Cavalry. There he attracted the attention of
the colonel so that the latter gave him one of the best horses in the
regiment and a place in the Fighting First, as the best-mounted company
was called, which the colonel always led personally in every charge. In
this company Johnny was taught how to handle a sabre. The regular sabre
was too heavy for him, but Colonel Jacob had one light, short one
specially made which Johnny learned to handle like a flash. A German
sergeant, who had been a great fencer on the Continent, taught him all
that he knew and before long Johnny was an expert in tricks of fence
which stood him in good stead later on. One in special he so perfected
that it was never parried. Instead of striking down with the sabre as
is generally done, Johnny learned a whirling, flashing upper-cut which
came so rapidly that generally an opponent could not even see much less
parry it. He was also armed with the regulation revolver and a light
carbine instead of the heavy revolving rifle used by the rest of the
troop. At Perryville he fought his first battle with his new regiment.
In the charge he stuck close to Colonel Jacob and received a ball
through his left leg above the knee. Fortunately it did not break any
bone and Johnny tore a strip off his shirt, bandaged the hole and went
on with the fight. While he was doing this, the greater part of the
regiment passed on and when Johnny started to join his colonel, he
could not find him. He rode like the wind over the field and soon
behind a little patch of woods saw Colonel Jacobs with only six or
seven men, the rest having been scattered in the fight. Johnny spurred
his horse over to him and the colonel was delighted to be joined by his
little body-guard. As they were riding along to rejoin the rest of the
regiment, from out a clump of bushes a squad of fifty men led by a
Confederate major dashed out calling on them to surrender. Colonel
Jacob hesitated, for some of his men were wounded and the odds seemed
too great for a fight. Before he had time to answer, Johnny slipped in
front of him, drew out his revolver and fired directly into the
Confederate officer's face, killing him instantly and then drawing his
sabre dashed into the ranks of the enemy. The first man he met was a
big fellow whose bare, brawny arm and blood-stained sabre proved him a
master with his weapon. Johnny never gave him a chance to strike. At
the whirl of his light sabre his opponent instinctively raised his
weapon in the ordinary parry of a down-blow and the point of Johnny's
sabre caught him under the chin and toppled him off his horse. The
Union men gave a cheer, followed their little leader, breaking clear
through the demoralized Confederates and joined their command at the
other side of the field.

A few weeks later they had a skirmish with the troop of John Morgan,
the most dreaded cavalry leader and fighter in all the South. Johnny,
as usual, was in the front of the charge and had just cut at one man
when another aimed a tremendous blow at his head in passing. There was
just time for Johnny to raise the pommel of his sabre to save his head,
but the deflected blow caught him on the leg and he fell from the horse
with blood spurting out of his other leg this time. He lay perfectly
quiet, but another rebel had seen him fall and spurring forward, caught
him by the collar, saying:

"We'll keep this little Yankee in a cage to show the children."

Johnny did not approve of this cage-idea and although there was no room
to use the sabre, managed to work his left hand back into his belt,
draw his revolver and shoot his captor dead. In another minute his
company came riding back and he was whirled up behind his colonel and
rode back of him to safety. This last wound proved to be a serious one
and he was sent back to Indiana on a furlough to give it time to heal.
On the way back he was stopped by a provost guard and asked for his
pass.

"My colonel forgot to give me any passes," said Johnny, "but here are
two that the rebels gave me," showing his bandaged legs, and the guard
agreed with him that this was pass enough for any one. As his wound
refused to heal, against his wishes he was discharged and once more
returned home. He then tried to enlist again, but each time he was
turned down because of the unhealed wound. Finally, Johnny traveled
clear to Washington and had a personal talk with President Lincoln and
explained to him that his wound would never heal except in active
service. His arguments had such force with the President that a special
order was made for his enlistment and he fought through the whole war
and afterward joined the regular army.


The littlest hero of the war was Eddie Lee. Shortly before the battle
of Wilson's Creek, one of the Iowa regiments was ordered to join
General Lyon in his march to the creek. The drummer of one of the
companies was taken sick and had to go to the hospital. The day before
the regiment was to march a negro came to the camp and told the captain
that he knew of a drummer who would like to enlist. The captain told
him to bring the boy in the next morning and if he could drum well he
would give him a chance. The next day during the beating of the
reveille, a woman in deep mourning came in leading by the hand a little
chap about as big as a penny and apparently not more than five or six
years old. She inquired for the captain and when the latter came out,
told him that she had brought him a drummer boy.

"Drummer boy," said the captain; "why, madam, we don't take them as
small as this. That boy hasn't been out of the cradle many months."

"He has been out long enough," spoke up the boy, "to play any tune you
want."

His mother then told the captain that she was from East Tennessee where
her husband had been killed by the rebels and all her property
destroyed and she must find a place for the boy.

"Well, well," said the captain, impatiently, "Sergeant, bring the drum
and order our fifer to come forward."

In a few moments the drum was produced and the fifer, a tall,
good-natured fellow over six feet in height, made his appearance.

"Here's your new side-partner, Bill," said the captain.

Bill stooped down, and down and down until his hands rested on his
ankles and peered into the boy's face carefully.

"Why, captain," said he, "he ain't much taller than the drum."

"Little man, can you really drum?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," said the boy. "I used to drum for Captain Hill in
Tennessee. I am nearly ten years old and I want the place."

The fifer straightened himself up slowly, placed his fife at his mouth
and commenced to play "The Flowers of the Forest," one of the most
difficult pieces to follow on the drum. The little chap accompanied him
without a mistake and when he had finished began a perfect fusillade of
rolls and calls and rallies which came so fast that they sounded like a
volley of musketry. When the noise had finally died out, the captain
turned to his mother and said:

"Madam, I'll take that boy. He isn't much bigger than a minute but he
certainly can drum."

The woman kissed the boy and nearly broke down.

"You'll surely bring him back to me, captain," she said.

"Sure," said the captain; "we'll all be discharged in about six weeks."

An hour later Eddie was marching at the head of the Iowa First playing
"The Girl I Left Behind Me" as it had never been played before. He and
Bill, the fifer, became great chums and Eddie was the favorite of the
whole regiment. Whenever anything especially nice was brought back by
the foraging parties, Eddie always had his share and the captain said
that he was in far more danger from watermelons than he was from
bullets. On heavy marches the fifer would carry him on his back, drum
and all, and this was always Eddie's position in fording the numerous
streams.

At the Battle of Wilson's Creek the Iowa regiment and a part of an
Illinois regiment were ordered to clear out a flanking party concealed
in a ravine upon the left of the Union forces. The ravine was a deep,
long one with high trees and heavy underbrush and dark even at
noontime. The Union regiments marched down and there was a dreadful
hand-to-hand fight in the brush in the semi-twilight. Men became
separated from each other and as in the great battle between David and
Absalom, the wood devoured more people that day than the sword
devoured. The fight was going against the Union men when suddenly a
Union battery wheeled into line on a near-by hill and poured a rain of
grape and canister into the Confederates which drove them out in short
order. Later on the word was passed through the Union Army that General
Lyon had been killed and soon after came the order to fall back upon
Springfield. The Iowa regiment and two companies of a Missouri regiment
were ordered to camp on the battle-field and act as a rear guard to
cover a retreat. When the men came together that night there was no
drummer boy. In the hurry and rush of hand-to-hand fighting, Eddie had
become separated from Bill and although the latter raged back and forth
through the brush like an angry bull, never a trace of his little
comrade could he find. That night the sentries stood guard over the
abandoned field and along the edge of the dark ravine now filled with
the dead of both sides. It was a wild, desolate country and as the men
passed back and forth over the stricken field, they could hear the
long, mournful, wailing howl of the wolves which were brought by the
smell of blood from the wilderness to the battle-field from miles
around. That night poor Bill was unable to sleep and moaned and tossed
on his blanket and said for the thousandth time:

"If only I had kept closer to the little chap."

Suddenly he sprang to his feet and roused the sleeping men all around
him.

"Don't you hear a drum?" said he.

They all listened sadly, but could hear nothing.

"Lie down, Bill," said one of them. "Eddie's gone. We all did the best
we could."

"He's down there in the dark," cried poor Bill, "drumming for help, and
I must go to him."

The others tried to hold him back for it was impossible to see a foot
through the tangled ravine at night and moreover the orders were strict
against any one leaving camp. Bill went to the sentry who guarded the
captain's tent and finally persuaded the man to wake up the captain.
The latter lay exhausted with fatigue and sorrow, but came out and
listened as did all the rest for the drum, but nothing could be heard.

"You imagined it, my poor fellow," he said. "There's nothing you could
do to-night anyway. Wait until morning."

Bill paced restlessly up and down all through that dark night and just
as the dawn-light came in the sky, he heard again faint and far away a
drum beating the morning call from out of the silence of the deep
ravine. Again he went to the captain.

"Of course you can go," said the latter, kindly, "but you must be back
as soon as possible for we march at daybreak. Look out for yourself as
the place is full of bushwhackers and rebel scouts."

Bill started down the hill through the thick underbrush and wandered
around for a time trying to locate the drum-beats which were thrown
back by the trees so that it was difficult to determine from what point
they came. As he crept along through the underbrush, they sounded
louder and louder and finally in the darkest, deepest part of the
ravine, he came out from behind a great pin-oak and saw his little
comrade sitting on the ground leaning against the trunk of a fallen
tree and beating his drum which was hung on a bush in front of him.

"Eddie, Eddie, dear old Eddie," shouted Bill, bursting through the
thicket. At the sound the little chap dropped his drumsticks and
exclaimed:

"Oh, Bill, I am so glad to see you. I knew you would come. Do get me a
drink."

Bill started to take his canteen down to a little near-by brook when
Eddie called him back.

"You'll come back, Bill, won't you," he said, "for I can't walk."

Bill looked down and saw that both of his feet had been shot away by a
cannon-ball and that the little fellow was sitting in a pool of his own
blood. Choking back his sobs, the big fifer crawled down to the brook
and soon came back with his canteen full of cold water which Eddie
emptied again and again.

"You don't think I am going to die, do you, Bill?" said the little boy
at last. "I do so want to finish out my time and go back to mother.
This man said I would not and that the surgeon would be able to cure
me."

For the first time Bill noticed that just at Eddie's feet lay a dead
Confederate. He had been shot through the stomach and had fallen near
where Eddie lay. Realizing that he could not live and seeing the
condition of the boy, he had crawled up to him and taking off his
buckskin suspenders had bandaged with them the little fellow's legs so
that he would not bleed to death and on tying the last knot had fallen
back dead himself. Eddie had just finished telling Bill all about it in
a whisper, for his strength was going fast, when there was a trampling
of horses through the ravine and in a minute a Confederate scouting
party broke through the brush, calling upon Bill to surrender.

"I'll do anything you want," said Bill, "if you will only take my
little pal here safe back to camp and get him into the hands of a
surgeon."

The Confederate captain stooped down and spoke gently to the boy and in
a minute took him up and mounted him in front of him on his own horse
and they rode carefully back to the Confederate camp, but when they
reached the tents of the nearest Confederate company they found that
little Eddie had served out his time and had given his life for his
country.


On June 30, 1862, was fought the stubborn battle of Glendale, one of
the Seven Days' Battles between McClellan, the general of the Union
forces, and Lee, the Confederate commander. This battle was part of
McClellan's campaign against Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy
which he had within his grasp when he was out-generaled by Lee, who
that month for the first time had been placed in supreme command of the
Confederate Army. With him were his two great generals, Stonewall
Jackson and Longstreet. McClellan was within sight of the promised
land. The spires of Richmond showed against the sky. Instead of
fighting he hesitated and procrastinated away every chance of victory.
Lee was even then planning that wonderful strategy which was to halt a
victorious army, turn it away from the beleaguered capital of the
Confederacy and send it stumbling back North in a series of defeats. It
was necessary for him to have a conference with Stonewall Jackson, his
great fighting right-hand in military matters. Jackson rode almost
alone fifty miles and attended a conference with Lee, Longstreet and
Generals D. H. and A. P. Hill. To each of them General Lee assigned the
part that he was to play. In the meantime, knowing that McClellan
always read and pondered the Richmond papers, he arranged that
simultaneously every paper should publish as news the pretended facts
that strong reinforcements had been sent to the Shenandoah Valley.
McClellan fell into the trap and instead of pressing forward to attack
Richmond, which was now only guarded by a small force, he, as usual,
waited for reinforcements and allowed his antagonists to march around
him and start flanking battles which threatened to cut off his line of
communications. The battle of Gaines Mill was fought in which battle
General Fitz John Porter with thirty-one thousand men stubbornly faced
Lee and Jackson's forces of fifty-five thousand and with sullen
obstinacy only retreated when it was absolutely impossible longer to
hold his ground. This defeat, which occurred simply because McClellan
could not bring himself to send Porter the necessary reinforcements,
made General McClellan resolve to withdraw, although even then, with a
superior army, he could have fought his way to Richmond. From June 25th
to July 1, 1862, occurred the Seven Days' Battles fought by the
retreating Union Army. By one of the few mistakes which General Lee
made in that campaign, the Union Army was allowed a respite of
twenty-four hours to organize its retreat and were well on their way
before pursuit was given. On June 29th there was a battle between the
rear guard of the Union force and the Confederate's under General
Magruder in which the Confederates were defeated. The next day came the
battle of Glendale. Generals Longstreet and A. P. Hill commanded the
Confederate Army while the rear guard of the retreating Union forces
was made up of General McCall's division and that of General
Heintzelman and a part of the corps under General Sumner which had done
such gallant fighting the day before. It was a stern and stubborn
battle. If the Confederates could cut through the rear guard, they
would have the retreating army at their mercy. On the other hand, if
they could be held back, the main army would have time to occupy a
favorable position and entrench and could be saved. For a time it
seemed as if the Confederate attack could not be checked. Every
available man was called into action. Back at the rear were posted the
hospital corps where the sick and wounded lay. With them were stationed
the band and the drum-corps made up of drummer boys who were supposed
to keep out of actual fighting as much as possible. Among them was a
little Jewish boy named Benjamin Levy, who was only sixteen years old
and small for his age. Benjamin stayed back with the hospital while the
roar of the battle grew louder and louder. Finally there was a
tremendous chorus of yells and groans and shouts mingled with the
rattle of rifle-shots and the heavy thudding sounds which sabres and
bayonets make as they slash and pierce living flesh. Little groups of
wounded men came straggling back or were carried back to the hospital
and each one told a fresh story of the fierce fight which was going on
at the near-by front. Benjamin could stand it no longer. The last
wounded man that came in hobbled along with a broken leg, using his
rifle for a crutch. The boy helped him to a near-by cot and made him as
comfortable as he could.

"Now you lie quiet," he said, "until the doctor comes and I'll just
borrow this rifle of yours and do a little fighting in your place," and
Benjamin picked up the gun and slipped on the other's cartridge belt.

"Hi there, you come back with my gun," yelled the wounded man after
him. "That front's no place for kids like you."

Benjamin, however, was well on his way before the man had finished
speaking and slipping past an indignant doctor who was trying to stop
him, he ran forward, keeping as much as possible in the shelter of the
trees among which the bullets and grape-shot were whining and humming.
He passed many wounded limping to the rear and rows of prostrate men,
some still, some writhing in the agony of their wounds. These were the
men who had fallen on their way back to the hospital. A minute later
Benjamin found himself in the thick of the fight. There had been a
Confederate charge which the Union soldiers had just barely been able
to drive back. The men were still panting and shouting and firing
volleys at the gray forces who were reluctantly withdrawing to rally
for another attack. The boy lay down with the rest and loaded and fired
his borrowed rifle as rapidly as he could. No one seemed to notice him
except the color-bearer who happened to be the man next to him. He had
stopped firing to wipe his face and saw the little fellow close by his
arm.

"Why don't you get back to the rear where you belong?" he said,
pretending to talk very fiercely. "This is no place for little boys.
When those gray-backs come back, you'll scamper quick enough, so you
had better be on your way now."

"No I won't," said Benjamin positively. "I guess boys have got as much
right to fight in this war as men have. Anyway, you won't see me do
much running."

Benjamin was mistaken in that last statement, for a minute later the
colonel of this particular regiment decided that instead of waiting for
a Confederate attack, he would do a little charging on his own account.
The signal came. The men sprang over the earthworks and Benjamin found
himself running neck and neck with the color-bearer at the head of them
all. It was a glorious charge. The ground ahead was smooth, the fierce
flag of the regiment streamed just in front and all around were men
panting and cheering as they ran. It was almost like a race on the old
school-green at home. They came nearer and nearer to the masses of
gray-clothed men who were hurriedly arranging themselves in regular
ranks out of the hurry and confusion of their retreat. When they were
only a short hundred yards distant, suddenly a wavering line of fire
and smoke ran all up and down the straggling line in front of them. Men
plunged headlong here and there and Benjamin noticed that he and the
color-bearer seemed to have drawn away from the rest and were racing
almost alone. Suddenly his friend with the colors stopped in full
stride, swung the flag over his head once with a shout and dropped
backward with a bullet through his heart. As he fell the colors slowly
dropped down through the air and were about to settle on the
blood-stained grass when the boy, hardly knowing what he did, shifted
his rifle to his left hand, caught the staff of the flag and once more
the colors of the regiment were leading the men on. Right up to the
gray line he carried them, followed by the whole regiment. Firing,
cutting and stabbing with their bayonets they broke straight through
the Confederates and after a hand-to-hand fight, drove them out of
their position. They carried the boy, still clinging to the colors, on
their shoulders to their colonel and to the end of his life Benjamin
remembered the moment when the colonel shook hands with him before the
cheering regiment as the climax of the greatest day of his life.



CHAPTER V

THE CHARGE OF ZAGONYI


In battle the charge is the climax. In other kinds of fighting men have
a certain amount of shelter and respite and at long range it makes
little difference whether the fighter is strong or weak. In a charge,
however, the fighting is hand to hand. As in the days of old, men fight
at close grips with their enemy and each one must depend upon his own
strength and skill and bravery.

There have been three charges in modern battles which have been
celebrated over and over again. The first of these was the last
desperate charge of the Old Guard at Waterloo. A thin red line of
English held a hill which Napoleon, the greatest of modern generals,
saw was the keystone of the battle. If that could be taken, the whole
arch of the English and Belgium forces would crumble away into defeat.
Again and again the French stormed at this hill and each time were
driven back by the coolly-waiting deadly ranks of the English. Toward
nightfall Napoleon made one last desperate effort. The Old Guard was to
him what the great Tenth Legion had been to Julius Cæsar, the best and
bravest veterans of his army who boasted that they had never yet been
defeated. Calling them up with every last one of his reserves, he
ordered a final desperate charge to break the battle center. To the
grim drumming of what guns the little general had left, they rushed
again up that blood-stained slope in desperate dark masses of unbeaten
men. With a storm of cheers, the columns surged up in a vast blue
battle-wave which seemed as if it must dash off by its weight the
little group of silent, grim defenders. The Englishmen waited and
waited and waited until the rushing ranks were almost on them. Then
they poured in a volley at such close range that every bullet did the
work of two and with a deep English cheer sprang on the broken ranks
with their favorite weapon, the bayonet. That great battle-wave broke
in a foam of shattered, dying and defeated men and the sunset of that
day was the sunset of Napoleon's glory.

Fifty years later in the great war which England with her allies was
waging to keep the vast, fierce hordes of Russia from ruling Europe,
happened another glorious, useless charge. Owing to a misunderstanding
of orders, a little squad of six hundred cavalrymen charged down a
mile-long valley flanked on all sides by Russian artillery against a
battery of guns whose fire faced them all the way. Every schoolboy who
has ever spoken a piece on Friday afternoon knows what comes next. How
the gallant Six Hundred, stormed at with shot and shell, made the
charge to the wonder and admiration of three watching armies and how
they forced their way into the jaws of death and into the mouth of hell
and sabred the gunners and then rode back--all that was left of them.

In our own Civil War occurred the most famous charge of modern days,
Pickett's charge at the battle of Gettysburg. For three days raged the
first battle which the Confederates had been able to fight on Northern
soil. If their great General Lee, with his seventy thousand veterans,
won this battle, Washington, Philadelphia and even New York were at his
mercy. On the afternoon of the third day he made one last desperate
effort to break the center of the Union forces. Pickett's division of
the Virginia infantry was the center of the attacking forces and the
column numbered altogether over fifteen thousand men. For two hours Lee
cannonaded the Union center with one hundred and fifteen guns. He was
answered by the Union artillery although they could only muster eighty
guns. Finally the Union fire was stopped in order that the guns might
cool for Hunt, the Union chief of artillery, realized that the
cannonade was started to mask some last great attack. Suddenly three
lines, each over a mile long, of Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama,
Georgia and Tennessee regiments started to cover the mile and a half
which separated them from the Union center. The Union crest was held by
the Pennsylvania regiments who were posted back of the stone wall on
the very summit. As the gray lines rushed over the distance with a
score of fierce battle flags flaming and fluttering over their ranks,
the eighty guns which had cooled so that they could now be used with
good effect opened up on them first with solid shot and then with the
tremendous explosive shells. As they charged, the Virginia regiments
moved away to the left leaving a gap between them and the men from
Alabama on the right. The Union leaders took advantage of this gap and
forced in there the Vermont brigade and a half brigade of New York men.
By suddenly changing front these men were enabled to attack the
charging thousands on their flank. The Union guns did terrible
execution, opening up great gaps through the running, leaping, shouting
men. As the charge came nearer and nearer the batteries changed to the
more terrible grape and canister which cut the men down like grass
before a reaper. Still they came on until they were face to face with
the waiting Union soldiers who poured in a volley at short range. For a
moment the battle flags of the foremost Confederate regiments stood on
the crest. The effort had been too much. Over half of the men had been
killed or wounded and many others had turned to meet the flank attack
of the Vermont and New York regiments so that when the Pennsylvania
troops met them at last with the bayonet, the gray line wavered, broke,
and the North was saved.

All three of these great charges were brave, glorious failures. This is
the story of a charge, an almost forgotten charge, just as brave, just
as glorious, which succeeded, a charge in which one hundred and sixty
men and boys broke and routed a force of over two thousand entrenched
infantry and cavalry.

At the breaking out of the war, one of the most popular of the Union
commanders was John C. Fremont, the Pathfinder. He had opened up the
far West and had made known to the people the true greatness of the
country beyond the Mississippi. At the birth of the Republican or
Free-Soil Party, he was the first candidate. The country rang with a
campaign song sung to the tune of the Marseillaise, the chorus of which
was:

    "March on, march on, ye braves,
      And let your war cry be,
    Free soil, free press, free votes, free men,
        Fremont and victory."

He was one of the first generals appointed. Among those whom the
fascination of his romantic and adventurous life had attracted to his
side was a Hungarian refugee named Zagonyi. In his boyhood he had
fought in the desperate but unsuccessful war which Hungary made to free
herself from the Austrian yoke. He served in the Hungarian cavalry; and
in a desperate charge upon the Austrians, in which half the force were
killed, Zagonyi was wounded and captured and for two years was a
prisoner. He was finally released on condition that he leave his
country forever. As an experienced soldier, he was welcomed by General
Fremont and was authorized to raise a company to be known as Fremont's
Body-Guard. In a few days two full companies, composed mostly of very
young men, had been enrolled. A little later another company composed
entirely of Kentucky boys was included in the guards. They were all
magnificently mounted on picked horses and very handsomely uniformed.
Because of their outfit and name they soon excited the envy of the
other parts of the army who used to call them the "kid-glove brigade."
Although well-trained and enthusiastic, they had no active service
until October, 1861, when Zagonyi, who had been appointed their major,
was ordered to take one hundred and sixty of his men and explore the
country around Springfield, Missouri, through which the main army was
intending to advance. There were rumors that a Confederate force was
approaching to take possession of the city of Springfield and the
body-guard marched seventeen hours without stopping in order to occupy
this town before the enemy should arrive. As they came within two miles
of Springfield, however, they were met by a farmer who informed them
that the Confederates had beaten them in the race to Springfield and
were already in camp on a hill about half a mile west of the town.
Their rear was protected by a grove of trees and there was a deep brook
at the foot of the hill. The only way to approach them was through a
blind lane which ran into fences and ploughed fields. This was covered
by sharpshooters and infantry while four hundred Confederate horsemen
were posted on the flank of the main body of infantry which guarded the
top of the hill. Altogether the force numbered over two thousand men.
It seemed an absolutely hopeless undertaking for a little body of tired
boys to attack twenty times their own number. Zagonyi, however, had
been used to fighting against odds in his battles with the Austrians.
He hurriedly called his men together and announced to them that he did
not intend to go back without a fight after riding so far.

"If any of you men," he said, "are too tired or too weak, or too
afraid, go back now before it is too late. There is one thing about
it," he added grimly, "if there are any of us left when we are through
we won't hear much more about kid gloves."

Not a man stirred to go back. Zagonyi gathered them into open order and
drawing his sabre gave the word to start up the fatal lane. At first
there was no sight or sound of any enemy, but as the horses broke into
a run, there was a volley from the woods and a number of men swayed in
their saddles and sank to the ground. Down the steep, stony lane they
rushed in a solid column in spite of volley after volley which poured
into their ranks. Some leaped, others crashed through fences and across
the ploughed fields and jumped the brook and finally gained the shelter
of the foot of the hill. There was a constant whistle of bullets and
scream of minie balls over their heads. They stopped for a minute to
re-form, for nearly half the squad was down. Zagonyi detached thirty of
his best horsemen and instructed them to charge up the hill at the
Confederate cavalry which, four hundred strong, were posted along the
edge of the wood, and to hold them engaged so that the rest of the
force could make a front attack on the infantry. The rest of the troop
watched the little band gallop up the hillside and they were fully
half-way up before it dawned upon the Confederates that these thirty
men were really intending to attack a force over ten times their
number. As they swept up the last slope, the Confederate cavalry poured
a volley from their revolvers instead of getting the jump on them by a
down-hill charge.

Lieutenant Mathenyi, another Hungarian and an accomplished swordsman,
led the attack and cut his way through the first line of the
Confederate horsemen, closely followed by the score of men who had
managed to get up the hill. With their sabres flashing over their
heads, they disappeared in the gray cloud of Confederates which awaited
them. At that moment Zagonyi gave the word for the main charge and his
column opened out and rushed up the hill from all sides like a
whirlwind. Even as they breasted the slope they saw the solid mass of
Confederate cavalry open out and scatter in every direction while a
blue wedge of men cut clear through and turned back to sabre the
scattering Confederates. With a tremendous cheer, Zagonyi and the rest
of the band rushed on to the massed infantry.

They had time for only one volley when the young horsemen were among
them, cutting, thrusting, hacking and shooting with their revolvers. In
a minute the main body followed the example of the cavalry and broke
and scattered everywhere. Some of them, however, were real fighters;
they retreated into the woods and kept up a murderous fire from behind
trees. One young Union soldier dashed in after them to drive them out,
but was caught under the shoulders by a grape-vine and swept off his
horse and hung struggling in the air until rescued by his comrades.
Down into the village swarmed the fugitives with the guards close at
their heels. At a great barn just outside of the village a number of
them rallied and drove back the Kentucky squad which had been pursuing
them. This time Zagonyi himself dashed up, and shouting, "Come on, old
Kentuck, I'm with you," rushed at the group which stood in the doorway.
As he came on, a man sprang out from behind the door and leveled his
rifle at Zagonyi's head. The latter spurred his horse until he reared,
and swinging him around on his hind legs, cut his opponent clear
through the neck and shoulders with such tremendous force that the
blood spurted clear up to the top of the door.

Another hero of the fight was Sergeant Hunter, the drill-master of the
squad. It had always been an open question with the men as to whether
he or Major Zagonyi was the better swordsman. In this fight Hunter
killed five men with his sabre, one after the other, showing off fatal
tricks of fence against bayonet and sabre as coolly as if giving a
lesson, while several men fell before his revolver. His last encounter
was with a Southern lieutenant who had been flying by, but suddenly
turned and fought desperately. The sergeant had lost three horses and
was now mounted on his fourth, a riderless, unmanageable horse which he
had caught, and was somewhat at a disadvantage. In spite of this he
proceeded to give those of his squad who were near him a lecture on the
fine points of the sabre.

"Always parry in secant," said he, suiting his action to the word,
"because," he went on, slashing his opponent across the thigh, "a
regular fencer like this Confed is liable to leave himself open. It is
easy then to ride on two paces and catch him with a back-hand sweep,"
and at the words he dealt his opponent a last fatal blow across the
side of the head which toppled him out of his saddle.

A young Southern officer magnificently mounted refused to follow the
fugitives, but charged alone at the line of the guards. He passed clear
through without being touched, killing one man as he went. Instantly he
wheeled, charged back and again broke through, leaving another Union
cavalryman dead. A third time he cut his way clear up to Zagonyi's side
and suddenly dropping his sabre, placed a revolver against the major's
breast and fired. Zagonyi, however, was like lightning in his
movements. The instant he felt the pressure of the revolver he swerved
so that the bullet passed through his tunic, and shortening his sabre
he ran his opponent through the throat killing him before he had time
to shoot again.

Holding his dripping sabre in his hand, the major shouted an order to
his men to come together in the middle of the town. One of the first to
come back was his bugler, whom Zagonyi had ordered to sound a signal in
the fiercest part of the fight. The bugler had apparently paid no
attention to him, but darted off with Lieutenant Mathenyi's squad and
was seen pursuing the flying horsemen vigorously. When his men were
gathered together, Major Zagonyi ordered him to step out and said:

"In the middle of the battle you disobeyed my order to sound the
recall. It might have meant the loss of our whole company. You are not
worthy to be a member of this guard and I dismiss you."

The bugler was a little Frenchman and he nearly exploded with
indignation.

"No," he said, "me, you shall not dismiss," and he showed his bugle to
his major with the mouthpiece carried away by a stray bullet. "The
mouth was shoot off," he said. "I could not bugle wiz my bugle and so I
bugle wiz my pistol and sabre."

The major recalled the order of dismissal.

So ended one of the most desperate charges of the Civil War. One
hundred and forty-eight men had defeated twenty-two hundred, with the
loss of fifty-three killed and more than thirty wounded.



CHAPTER VI

THE LOCOMOTIVE CHASE


Courage does not depend upon success. Sometimes it takes a braver man
to lose than to win. A man may meet defeat and even death in doing his
duty, but if he has not flinched or given up, he has not failed. A
brave deed is never wasted whether men live or die.

In the spring of 1862, James J. Andrews and a little band of nineteen
other men staked their lives and liberty for the freedom of Tennessee
and although they lost, the story of their courage helped other men to
be brave.

At the beginning of the Civil War, the eastern part of Tennessee was
held by the Confederates although the mountaineers were for the most
part Union men. The city of Chattanooga was the key to that part of the
state and was held by the Confederates. A railroad line into that city
ran through Georgia and was occupied by the Southern army. If that
could be destroyed, Chattanooga could be cut off from reënforcements
and captured by the small body of Union troops which could be risked
for that purpose. This road was guarded by detachments of Confederate
troops and extended for two hundred miles through Confederate territory
and it seemed as if it could not be destroyed by any force less than an
army. There was no army that could be spared.

One April evening a stranger came to the tent of General O. M. Mitchel,
commander of the Union forces in middle Tennessee, and asked to see the
general. The sentry refused to admit him unless he stated his name and
errand.

"Tell the general," said the man quietly, "that James J. Andrews wants
to speak to him on a matter of great importance."

The sentry stared at him for there were few in the army who had not
heard of Andrews, the scout, but fewer still who had ever seen him. No
man had passed through the enemy's lines so many times, knew the
country better or had been sent more often on dangerous errands. In a
minute he was ushered in to where General Mitchel sat writing in the
inner tent. With his deep-set gray eyes and waving hair brushed back
from his broad, smooth forehead, he looked more like a poet than a
fighter. The general noticed, however, that his eyes never flickered
and that although he spoke in a very low voice, there was something
about him that at once commanded attention. Andrews wasted no time.

"General Mitchel," he said, "if you will let me have twenty-four men, I
will capture a train, burn the bridges on the Georgia railroad and cut
off Chattanooga."

"It can't be done," returned General Mitchel.

"Well, general," answered Andrews slowly, "don't you think it's worth
trying? You know I generally make good on what I set out to do. In this
matter if we lose, we lose only twenty-five men. If we win, we take
Chattanooga and all Tennessee without a battle."

There was a long pause while the general studied the scout.

"You shall have the men," he said finally.

Andrews saluted and left the tent. That night twenty-four men from
three regiments were told that they were to have the first chance to
volunteer for secret and dangerous service. Not a man chosen refused to
serve. The next evening they were told to meet at a great boulder at
sunset about a mile below the camp and wait until joined by their
captain. Each man was furnished with the camp countersign as well as a
special watchword by which they could know each other. One by one the
men gathered at dusk, recognized each other by the watchword and sat
down in the brush back of the boulder to wait. Just at dark there was a
rustling in the underbrush at the other side of the road and the scout
stepped out, joined them and gave the countersign. Without a word, he
moved to the thick bushes at one corner of the boulder and pushing them
aside showed a tiny hidden path which wound through the brush. Into
this he stepped and beckoned them to follow. The path twisted back and
forth among the great stones and trees and through patches of
underbrush and the men in single file followed Andrews. Finally nearly
a mile from the road, he led them down into a dense thicket in a little
ravine. There the brush had been cut out so as to make a kind of room
in the thicket about ten feet square. When they were all inside, the
scout motioned them to sit down and then circled around through the
underbrush and doubled back on his track so as to make sure that they
had not been followed by any spy. Then he returned and lighted a small
lantern which hung to one of the saplings and for the first time his
men had a good look at their captain. As usual, Andrews wasted no time.

"Boys," he said simply, "I have chosen you to come with me and capture
a train from an army and then run it two hundred miles through the
enemy's country. We will have to pass every train we meet and while we
are doing this we must tear up a lot of track and burn down two
bridges. There is every chance of being wrecked or shot and if we are
captured, we will be hung for spies. It is a desperate chance and I
picked you fellows out as the best men in the whole army to take such a
chance. If any of you think it is too dangerous, now is the time to
stand up and draw out."

There was a long pause. Each man tried to see what his companions were
thinking of in the dim light.

"Well, captain," at last drawled a long, lank chap with a comical face,
who had the reputation of being the worst daredevil in his regiment, "I
would like to stand up for you've got me kind of scared, but my foot's
asleep and I guess I'll have to go with you."

"That's the way I feel," said the man next to him, as every one
laughed, and the same answer went all around the circle.

In a whisper the scout then outlined his plan. The men were to change
their uniforms and put on the butternut-colored clothes of the South
and to carry no arms except a revolver and bowie-knife. Then they were
to cross the country on foot until they got to Chattanooga and were
then to go back on their tracks by train and meet at a little town
called Marietta in the middle of Georgia. No one would, of course,
suspect men coming out of a Confederate city to be Union soldiers. If
questioned they were to say that they were Kentuckians on their way to
join the Southern army. At Marietta they were to take rooms at the
Marietta Hotel and meet at the scout's room on the following Saturday
morning at two o'clock.

Disguised as a quinine seller, Andrews reached Marietta ahead of the
others. At the time appointed, he sat fully dressed in the silent hotel
waiting for the arrival of his little company and wondering how many
would appear. Just as the town clock struck the hour from the
old-fashioned court house, there came a light tapping at the door and
one by one nineteen of the twenty-four glided in and reported for duty.
All had gone through various adventures and several had only escaped
capture by quick thinking and cool action. One of the missing ones had
been delayed by a wreck and did not reach Marietta in time, two others
were forced to enlist in the Southern army, and two more reached
Marietta but by some mistake did not join the others. The twenty who
were left, however, were the kind of men whose courage flares highest
when things seem most desperate and they were not at all discouraged by
the loss of a fifth of their force, and they all agreed with Brown, the
man whose foot had been asleep, when he drawled out in his comical way,
"The fewer fellows the more fun for those who are left."

After reporting, they went back to their rooms and got what sleep they
could. At daylight they were all at the ticket office in time for the
north-bound mail train. In order to prevent any suspicion, each man
bought a ticket for a different station along the line in the direction
of Chattanooga. Eight miles out of Marietta was a little station called
Big Shanty where the train was scheduled to stop twenty minutes for
breakfast. It was a lonely place at the foot of Kenesaw Mountain and
there were only the station, a freight-house, a restaurant and one or
two dwelling houses. Andrews had planned to capture the train there,
believing that there would be few, if any, bystanders at so small a
place early in the morning. As the train came around the curve of the
mountain, however, the scout and his men, who were scattered through
the train, were horrified to see scores of tents showing white through
the morning mist. A detachment of Confederate soldiers was in camp
there and it was now necessary for the little squad of Union soldiers
to capture the train not only from its crew and passengers, but under
the very eyes of a regiment. There was no flinching. The minute the
train stopped there was the usual wild scramble by the passengers for
breakfast in which the engineer, fireman and conductor joined. In a
minute the engine was left entirely unguarded. In those days engines
were named like steamboats, and this one had been christened "General."
Andrews and his men loitered behind. In his squad were two engineers
and a fireman. These at once hurried forward and began to uncouple the
engine with its tender and three baggage-cars. The rest of the party
grouped around, playing the part of bystanders, but with their hands on
their revolvers, for within a dozen feet of the engine stood a sentry
with his loaded musket in his hand watching the whole thing, while
other sentries and a large group of soldiers were only a few yards
farther off. The men worked desperately at the coupling and finally
succeeded in freeing the cars. Then the engineers and fireman sprang
into the cab of the engine while Andrews stood with his hand on the
rail and foot on the step, and the rest of the band tumbled into the
baggage-cars. This was the most critical moment of all, for although
the watching soldiers might think it natural to change the crew, yet
their suspicions would certainly be aroused at the sight of fifteen men
climbing into baggage-cars. The nearest sentry cocked his musket and
stepped forward to investigate. At this moment Brown climbed into the
engine along with one of the engineers, coolly smoking a cigar. Poking
his head out of the window he called back as if to one of the crew,
"Tell those fellows not to eat up all the breakfast. We'll be back just
as soon as we can take those other cars on at the siding." All this
time Andrews was standing with his foot on the step watching the men
enter the baggage-cars. The track was on a high bank and it was
necessary for the first man to be raised up on the shoulders of two
others in order to open the door. Once inside, the other men were
tossed up to him and he pulled them in like bags of meal. Finally there
were only two left and these jumped, caught the outstretched hands of
two inside and were hauled up into the car. Not until then did Andrews
step aboard under the very nose of the suspicious sentry. The engineer
was so anxious to start that he pulled the throttle wide open and for a
few seconds the wheels spun round and round without catching on the
rails. He finally slowed up enough to allow the wheels to bite and the
engine started off with a jerk which took all the soldiers in the
baggage-cars off their feet. Just at this moment the fat engineer
waddled out of the eating-house shouting at the top of his voice,
"Stop, thief! Stop, thief!" He was followed by the fireman who bellowed
to the sentry, "Shoot 'em, shoot 'em! They're Yanks!" It was too late.
The General was taking the first curve on two wheels, leaving the quiet
little station swarming and buzzing like a hornet's nest struck by a
stone. The train had been captured without losing a man.

Now came the even more difficult part of the undertaking, to run the
engine for two hundred miles through an enemy's country and to force it
past all the other trains between Big Shanty and Chattanooga. The first
thing to do was to prevent any message of the capture being sent on
ahead. There was no telegraph station at Big Shanty, but there was no
telling how soon word would be sent back to the nearest telegraph
operator. Accordingly, four miles out the engine was stopped and a man
named Scott, who had been a great coon-hunter before entering the army,
shinned up a telegraph pole and sawed through the wires. While he was
doing this, the rest of the party took up one of the rails and loaded
it into a baggage-car. Others piled in a lot of dry railroad ties to be
used in burning the bridges. The General was an old-style engine the
like of which is never seen nowadays. It had one of the round, funny
smoke-stacks which we still see on old postage stamps and it burned
cord-wood instead of coal, but it was a good goer for those times and
was soon whirling through the enemy's country at what seemed to the
raiders a tremendous rate of speed. Before long they were compelled to
stop at one of the stations to take in wood and water. Andrews
explained to the station-agent that they were agents of General
Beauregard running a powder-train down to the Confederate headquarters
at Corinth. At one station named Etowah, they found an old locomotive
belonging to a local iron company standing there with steam up. It
carried the name of Jonah and so far as the raiders were concerned, it
certainly lived up to its name. Brown, who was acting as engineer,
wanted to stop and put Jonah out of business, but Andrews decided to
push on. It was a fatal mistake. At Kingston, thirty miles from their
starting place, they learned that the local freight coming from
Chattanooga was about due, so Andrews put his engine over on the siding
and waited. After a long delay, the freight arrived, but it carried on
its caboose a red flag showing that another train was behind. Andrews
stepped up to the conductor and indignantly inquired how any train
dared delay General Beauregard's special powder-cars.

"Well, you see," said the freight's conductor, "the Yanks have captured
Huntsville thirty miles from Chattanooga and special trains are being
run to get everything out."

Andrews realized that General Mitchel had started against Chattanooga
and that if he could burn even one bridge, the capture of the city was
certain. Another long wait and the special freight came in, but it
carried another fatal red flag. It turned out that it was so large that
it was being run in two sections. There was nothing to do but wait. By
this time crowds of passengers and train-hands had gathered around the
so-called powder-train, all curious to look it over. The four men in
the engine sat there smoking, seemingly unconcerned. As a matter of
fact, however, they were ready any moment to fight for their lives. If
any of the crowd opened the baggage-cars and saw the other men hidden
there, no amount of explanation could persuade them that there was not
something wrong. If the waiting was hard on the men in the engine, it
was still worse for the men crouched back in the cars, not knowing what
was wrong and expecting to hear the alarm given any moment. For an hour
and five minutes the Union train was kept at Kingston. At last a
whistle was heard and the long-expected freight passed by and the
General was again on its way. A mile out from Kingston the coon-hunter
was sent up another telegraph pole and the wires again cut. The rest of
the party were leisurely trying to loosen another rail with the poor
tools which they had, when from far in the rear a sound was heard which
brought the man at the wires down with a run. It was the whistle of an
engine coming their direction and meant that in some mysterious way the
enemy was on their track.

"Pull, you men!" shouted Andrews. "They've got word somehow and they're
after us."

Again the whistle sounded, this time much nearer, and with a last
frantic pull the rail broke and eight men tumbled head over heels down
an embankment. They were up in a minute and scrambled into the
baggage-car and the old General was off once more at top speed. At
Adairsville, the next station, a freight and passenger train were
waiting and there Andrews heard that another express was due from
Chattanooga which had not yet arrived. There was no time to wait now
that the pursuit had begun and the old General was pushed at full speed
in order to reach the next siding before meeting the express. The nine
miles between stations were covered in as many minutes, Brown and the
fireman heaping on the cord-wood and soaking it with kerosene-oil until
the fire-plate was red hot. They reached the station just in time, for
the express was about to pull out when the whistle of Andrews' train
was heard, and it backed down so as to allow the "powder-train" to take
the side track. It stopped, however, in such a manner as to completely
close up the other end of the switch. The engineer and conductor of the
express were plainly suspicious and refused to move their train until
Andrews had answered their questions. With the pursuing engine on his
track, any more delay would be fatal. Cocking his revolver, Andrews
poked it into the stomach of the engineer.

"My instructions from General Beauregard," he said, "are to rush this
train through and to shoot any one that tries to delay it and I am
going to begin on you."

The engineer lost all further desire to ask questions, climbed into his
cab and pulled out. The way was now clear to Chattanooga. Beyond the
next station Andrews stopped once more to cut the wires and to try to
take up a section of the track, when right behind suddenly sounded the
whistle of an engine like the scream of some relentless bird of prey
that could not be turned from its pursuit. Far down the track rushed a
locomotive crowded with soldiers armed with rifles. Two minutes more
would have saved the day for Andrews. The rail bent, but did not break,
although the men tugged at it frantically until the bullets began
pattering around them. There was only just time to jump aboard and the
General was off again with the Confederate engine thundering close
behind.

The story of this pursuer is the story of two men who refused to give
up and who won out by accepting the one chance in a thousand which
ordinary men would let go by. When the stolen train whirled off at Big
Shanty there were two men who didn't waste any time in shouting or
swearing. They were Fuller, the conductor of the stolen train, and
Murphy, the foreman of the Atlanta railway machine shops. There was no
telegraph station nor any locomotive at hand in which to follow the
runaways. Apparently it was hopeless, yet out of all the crowd of
civilians and soldiers who rushed around and asked questions and
shouted answers, Fuller and Murphy were the only two who took the long
chance and ran after the flying train. The rest of the crew could not
help laughing to see two men chase a locomotive on foot. But Murphy and
the other let them laugh and ran on. Before they had gone a half mile
they found a hand-car on a siding. This they lifted over to the main
track, manned the pump-bars and were soon flying along at the rate of
some fifteen miles an hour. As they came near Etowah the hand-car
suddenly flew off the track and went rolling down the embankment. It
had met the first of the broken rails. The two men were much bruised
and shaken up, but no bones were broken and they managed to hoist the
hand-car back on to the rails again and were soon on their way, this
time keeping a lookout for any traps ahead. At Etowah they found old
"Jonah" puffing on the siding, the engine that Brown had advised
blowing up. It was at once pressed into service, loaded with soldiers
and in a minute was flying toward Kingston, where Andrews had his
life-shortening wait of over an hour. Fuller knew of the tangle of
trains at that point and told his escort to get their muskets ready and
be prepared for a fight, but Andrews had been away just four minutes
when the pursuers reached the station, and Fuller there found himself
stopped by three heavy trains. It was hopeless to wait for them to
move, and besides old Jonah was not much on speed. Fuller and his men
jumped out, ran through to the farthest train, uncoupled the engine and
one car, in spite of the protests of its crew, filled it with forty
armed men and once more started after the flying General.

It was their whistle which so startled Andrews and his men when they
were breaking the second rail. Fuller and Murphy saw what they had done
and managed to reverse the engine in time to prevent a wreck. Again at
this point ordinary men would have given up the chase for it was
impossible to go farther in that engine or to get it over the broken
rail, but these Confederates were not ordinary men. Leaving their
escort they started down the track again on foot alone, doggedly and
relentlessly after their stolen General. Before they had gone far they
met the mixed train that had told Andrews of the express. They signaled
so frantically that it stopped and when the crew learned that the
so-called "powder-train" was on its way to destroy the great bridges
which formed the backbone of their railway, they consented to turn
back. So uncoupling the locomotive and the tender and filling them with
armed soldiers and civilians from among the passengers, Fuller and
Murphy made their sixth start. On foot, by hand-car, in two
locomotives, on foot again and now once more in a locomotive, they
began what was to be the last lap of this race on which a city and a
state depended.

Beyond Adairsville the Confederates could see far ahead in the distance
Andrews and his men making desperate efforts to raise the rail. With
long screams from her whistle, the Confederate engine fairly leaped
over the tracks. The rail bent slowly, but the spikes still held. Two
minutes, or even a minute more would break the track and the road and
bridges would be defenseless before the Union raiders. But it was not
to be. Andrews and his men tugged at the stubborn rail until the
pursuing engine was so close that the bullets were dropping all around
them and then sprang into the engine and thundered off again. If only a
little time could be gained the Union men could burn the Oostinaula
Bridge. So while the engine was running at a speed of nearly a mile a
minute, the men in the last car crowded into the next and the last car
was dropped off in the hope that it would block the road for the
pursuer. But the engine behind pushed it ahead until the next station
was reached where it could be switched off the main track. This slowed
the chaser's speed, however, so that the General was able to take on
wood and water and also to cut the wires beyond the station so that the
news of their coming would not be telegraphed ahead and give the
station-master a chance to either side-track them or block the track.
The pursuing engine began to gain again and the little band of Union
soldiers moved into the first car and the end of the second car was
smashed and it was cut loose. Railroad ties were also dropped across
the track and time enough was gained once more for the General to take
on wood and water at two more stations and to cut the wires beyond
each. Twice they stopped and tried in vain to raise a rail, but the
pursuers came within rifle range each time before they could finish.
The rain prevented the burning of the bridges and now slowly and surely
the pursuing engine began to gain. The raiders tried every way to block
the track. At one point they spied a spare rail near a sharp curve.
Stopping the engine they fitted it into the track in such a way that it
seemed certain to derail the Confederate engine. The latter came
thundering on at full speed, struck the hidden rail, and leaped at
least six inches from the rail, but came down safely and went whirling
along as if nothing had happened. Not once in a hundred times could an
engine have kept the track after such a collision. This was the time.
Now they were too close to the General to allow of any more stoppages
even for wood and water. Andrews decided to risk everything on one last
stroke. A mile or so ahead was a wooden-covered bridge. At his orders
out of the last car his men swarmed into the engine filling every inch
of space, even the tender and the cow-catcher being covered with men.
All of the fuel left was piled into the one remaining car, smeared with
oil and set afire. Both the doors were opened and the draught as it was
whirled along soon fanned the fire into furious flames. They dashed
into the dark of the covered bridge with the car spurting flame from
both sides. Right in the middle of the bridge it was uncoupled and left
burning fast and furiously. It did not seem possible that any engine
could pass through such a barrier. There was just enough pressure left
in the boiler to reach the next wood-yard and the Union scouts looked
back anxiously at the bridge. In a minute they heard around a far-away
curve the whistle which sounded to them like the screech of a demon.
The Confederates had dashed into the bridge and pushed the flaming car
ahead of them to the next switch. The Union scouts had played their
last card. There would be no chance of taking in wood before they were
overtaken. One thing only was left. They stopped the engine, sprang
out, reversed the locomotive and sent it dashing back to collide with
their pursuer and then separated to try to make their way back some
three hundred miles through the enemy's country to the Union lines. The
Confederates, when they saw the engine coming, reversed their own and
kept just ahead of this last attack of the old General until its fires
died down and it came to a stop.

Mitchel, the Union general, but thirty miles west of Chattanooga,
waited in vain for the engine which never came. Chattanooga was saved
and the most daring railroad raid in history had failed.

The story of the fate of the brave men who volunteered for the forlorn
hope is a sad one. Several were captured that same day and all but two
within a week. These two were overtaken and brought back when they were
just on the point of reaching the Union outposts and had supposed
themselves safe. Even the two who reached Marietta but did not take the
train with the others were identified and added to the band of
prisoners. Being in civilian clothes within an enemy's lines, they were
all held as spies and the heroic Andrews and seven others were tried
and executed. Of the others, eight, headed by Brown, overpowered the
guards in broad daylight and made their escape from Atlanta, Georgia,
and finally reached the North. The other six started with them, but
were recaptured and held as prisoners until exchanged in the early part
of 1863.

So ends the story of an expedition that failed in its immediate object,
but that succeeded in the example which these brave men set their
fellows.



CHAPTER VII

SHERIDAN'S RIDE


There are as many different kinds of courage as there are different
kinds of men. Some men are brave because they were born so. They are no
more to be praised for their bravery than a bulldog deserves credit
because it is a natural born fighter or a hare deserves blame because
it specializes in running away. Some men belong to the bulldog class.
They are brave because it is natural for them to be brave. Others
belong to the hare-family and they show far more real courage in
overcoming their natural instincts than does the other for whom it is
natural to do brave deeds. Much also depends on the circumstances. We
all know from our own experience of athletes who can play a good
winning game, and who perform well against inferior competitors. The
rarer type, however, is the boy or man who can play a good up-hill game
and who with all the odds against him, is able to fight it out and
never to let up or give up until the last point is scored or the last
yard is run and who often is able to win against better, but less
dogged, less courageous competitors. It is so in battles. It is easy
for any commander to be courageous and to take unusual chances when he
is winning. The thrill of approaching victory is a stimulant which
makes even a coward act like a brave man. Even General Gates, the weak,
vacillating, clerkly, self-seeking, cowardly general of the
Revolutionary War, whose selfishness and timidity were in such contrast
to Washington's self-sacrifice and courage, was energetic and decisive
at the battle of Saratoga after Benedict Arnold, who was there only as
a volunteer, had made his brave, successful charge on the British
column in spite of Gates' orders. After attacking and dispersing the
reserved line of the British army, Arnold called his men together again
and attacked the Canadians who covered the British left wing. Just as
he had cut through their ranks, a wounded German soldier lying on the
ground took deliberate aim at Arnold and killed his horse and shattered
his leg with the same bullet. As he went down, one of his men tried to
bayonet the wounded soldier who had fired, but even while disentangling
himself from his dead horse and suffering under the pain of his broken
leg, Arnold called out, "For God's sake, don't hurt him, he's a fine
fellow," and saved the life of the man who had done his best to take
his. That was the hour when Benedict Arnold should have died, at the
moment of a magnificent victory while saving the life of a man who had
injured him. Gates went on with the battle, closed in on the British
and in spite of their stubborn defense, attacked them fiercely for
almost the only time in his career as a general and completely routed
them. There is no doubt that on that occasion after Arnold's charge
Gates displayed a considerable amount of bravery, yet such bravery
cannot really be termed courage of the high order which was so often
displayed by Washington, by William of Orange and later by his
grandson, William of England, by Fabius the conqueror of Hannibal and
by many other generals who were greatest in defeat.

Napoleon once said that the highest kind of courage was the
two-o'clock-in-the-morning courage. He meant that at that gray hour,
when the tide of life is at its ebb before the dawn, a man who is brave
is brave indeed. The best test of this kind of courage is in defeat.
Fabius showed that in the long, wasting campaign which he fought
against Hannibal, one of the greatest generals of his or any other age.
Following, retreating, harassing, Fabius always refused a pitched
battle until his enemies at Rome forced the appointment of Minucius as
joint dictator with him. In spite of the protests of Fabius, the army
was divided and the younger and rasher Minucius offered battle with his
army. He was like a child before the crafty Hannibal who concealed a
great force of men in ravines around an apparently bare hill and then
inveigled Minucius into attacking a small force which he sent up to the
top of this hill as a bait to draw him on. Once there the ambuscade of
Hannibal attacked the Roman army on all sides and almost in a moment it
was in disorder and a retreat was commenced which was about to become a
rout when Fabius hurried up and by his exhortations and steadfast
courage rallied the men, re-formed them, drove through Hannibal's
lighter-armed troops and finally occupied the hill in safety. The
grateful Minucius refused to act as commander any further, but at once
insisted upon thereafter serving under Fabius.

At the Battle of Boyne, that great battle between William of England
and his uncle, James II, which was to decide whether England should be
a free or a slave nation, William showed the same kind of courage. In
spite of chronic asthma, approaching age and a frail body, King William
was a great general. He never appeared to such advantage as at the head
of his troops. Usually of reserved and saturnine disposition, danger
changed him into another man. On this day, while breakfasting before
the battle, two field-pieces were trained on him and a six-pound ball
tore his coat and grazed his shoulder drawing blood, and dashing him
from his horse. He was up in an instant, however, and on that day in
spite of his feeble health and wounded shoulder, was nineteen hours in
the saddle. The crisis came when the English soldiers charged across
the ford of the Boyne River. General Schomberg, William's right-hand
and personal friend, was killed while rallying his troops. Bishop
Walker, the hero of the siege of Londonderry, had been struck by a
chance shot and the English, who had hardly obtained a firm foothold on
the opposite bank, commenced to waver. At this moment King William
forced his horse to swim across, carrying his sword in his left hand,
for his right arm was stiff with his wound, and dashed up to rally the
troops. As he rode up, the disorganized regiment recognized their king.

"What will you do for me?" he cried, and almost in an instant he had
rallied the men and persuaded them to stand firm against the attacks of
the ferocious Irish horsemen.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I have heard much of you. Let me see something
of you," and charging at their head, this middle-aged, wounded invalid
by sheer courage shattered the Irish and French troops and saved his
kingdom.

Our own Washington was never greater than in defeat and not once but
many times rallied a defeated and disheartened army and saved the day.
At the Battle of Monmouth, the traitorous Charles Lee had turned what
should have been a great victory into a disorderly retreat. After
outflanking Cornwallis, instead of pressing his advantage, he ordered
his men to retreat into a near-by ravine. Lafayette's suspicions were
aroused and he sent in hot haste to Washington who arrived on the field
of battle just as the whole army in tremendous disorder was pouring out
of the marsh and back over the neighboring ravine before the British
advance. At that moment Washington rode up pale with anger and for once
lost control of a temper which cowed all men when once aroused.

"What is the meaning of all this?" he shouted to Lee and when he
received no answer, repeated the question with a tremendous oath. Then
immediately realizing the situation, he sent Lee back to the rear and
wheeled about to stop the retreat and form a new front. Riding down the
whole line of retreating soldiers, the very sight of him steadied and
rallied them and in less than half an hour the line was reformed and
Washington drove back the British across the marsh and the ravine until
night put an end to the battle. Before morning the whole British force
had retreated, leaving their wounded behind and the Battle of Monmouth
had been changed by the courage and fortitude of one man from defeat
into a victory for the American forces.

The most striking instance in the Civil War of what the courage of one
brave, enduring, unfaltering man can do was at the Battle of Cedar
Creek. In the year 1864, General Sheridan, the great cavalry leader,
took command of the Army of the Shenandoah. Sheridan was an ideal
cavalry leader. Brave, dashing, brilliant, he had commanded more
horsemen than had any general since the days of the Tartar hordes of
Tamerlane and Genghis Khan. There was no watchful waiting with
Sheridan. This he had shown at the great mountain battle of
Chattanooga. At that battle, Missionary Ridge was the keystone of the
Confederate position. It was occupied by Confederate batteries and
swarming with Confederate troops. A storming party was sent from the
main body of the Union forces to drive out the Confederates who held
the woods on the flanks of the Ridge. The orders were to attack the
Confederates and hold the captured positions until the main body could
come up. Grant was watching the battle through his field-glasses and
saw the attacking party gain possession of the slopes of the Ridge.
Suddenly, to his surprise and horror, the whole regiment charged
directly up the Ridge. It was a mad thing to do for the top was held by
a tremendous force of Confederates and guarded by massed batteries.
General Grant called General Granger up to him and said angrily:

"Did you order those men up, Granger?"

"No," said the general, "they started up without orders. When those
fellows get started, all hell can't stop 'em."

General Grant then sent word to General Sheridan to either stop the men
or take the Ridge.

"I guess it will be easier to take the Ridge than it will be to stop
them," said Sheridan.

Before starting, he borrowed a flask and waved it toward the group of
Confederate officers who were standing on top of the Ridge in front of
the headquarters of Bragg, the Confederate general.

"Here's at you," he shouted, drinking to them. They could plainly see
his action through their field-glasses and immediately two field-guns,
which were known as Lady Breckenridge and Lady Buckner, were trained at
Sheridan and his group of officers and fired. One shell struck so near
Sheridan as to splash dirt all over him.

"I'll take those guns just for that," was all he said and, followed by
his officers, he dashed up the Ridge after the climbing,
attacking-party. The way was so steep that the men had to climb up on
their hands and knees while the solid shot and shell tore great furrows
in their ranks. Sheridan was off his horse as soon as the slope became
steep, and, although he had started after the charge, was soon at the
front of the men. They recognized him with a tremendous cheer.

"I'm not much used to this charging on foot, boys," he said, "but I'll
do the best I can," and he set a pace which soon brought his men so far
up that the guns above could not be depressed enough to hit them.
Behind him came the whole storming party clambering up on their hands
and knees with their regimental flags flying everywhere, sometimes
dropping as the bearers were shot, but never reaching the ground
because they would be caught up again and again by others. At last they
were so near that the Confederate artillerymen, in order to save time,
lighted the fuses of their shells and bowled them down by hand against
the storming party. Just before they reached the summit, Sheridan
formed them into a battle-line and then with a tremendous cheer, they
dashed forward and attacked the Ridge at six different points. The
Confederates had watched their approach with amazement and amusement.
When they found, however, that nothing seemed to stop them, they were
seized with a panic and as the six desperate storming parties dashed
upon them from different angles, after a few minutes' fast fighting,
they broke and retreated in a hopeless rout down the other side of the
Ridge. Sheridan stopped long enough to claim Lady Breckenridge and Lady
Buckner as his personal spoils of war and forming his men again, led
them on to a splendid victory.

As soon as he took command of the Army of the Shenandoah, aggressive
fighting at once began. Twice he defeated Jubal Early, once at
Winchester and again at Fisher's Hill, while one of his generals routed
the Rebels so completely in a brilliant engagement at Woodstock that
the battle was always known as the Woodstock Races, the Confederate
soldiers being well in front in this competition. Finally, General
Sheridan had massed his whole army at Cedar Creek. From there he rode
back to Washington to have a conference with General Halleck and the
Secretary of War. When that was finished with his escort he rode back
to Winchester, some twelve miles from Cedar Creek, two days later.
There he received word that all was well at his headquarters and he
turned in and went to bed intending to join the army the next day. Six
o'clock the next morning an aide aroused him with the news that
artillery firing could be heard in the direction of Cedar Creek.
Sheridan was out of bed in a moment and though it was reported that it
sounded more like a skirmish than a battle, he at once ordered
breakfast and started for Cedar Creek. As he came to the edge of
Winchester he could hear the unceasing roar of the artillery and was
convinced at once that a battle was in progress and from the increase
of the sound judged that the Union Army must be falling back. The
delighted faces of the Confederate citizens of Winchester, who showed
themselves at the windows, also convinced him that they had secret
information from the battlefield and were in raptures over some good
news. With twenty men he started to cover the twelve miles to Cedar
Creek as fast as their horses could gallop. Sheridan was riding that
day a magnificent black, thoroughbred horse, Rienzi, which had been
presented to him by some of his admirers. Like Lee's gray horse
"Traveler" and the horse Wellington rode at Waterloo, "Copenhagen,"
Rienzi was to become famous. Before Sheridan had gone far and just
after crossing Mill Creek outside of Winchester, he commenced to meet
hundreds of men, some wounded, all demoralized, who with their baggage
were all rushing to the rear in hopeless confusion. Just north of
Newtown he met an army chaplain digging his heels into the sides of his
jaded horse and making for the rear with all possible speed. Sheridan
stopped him and inquired how things were going at the front.

"Everything is lost," replied the chaplain, "but it will be all right
when you get there."

The parson, however, in spite of this expression of confidence, kept on
going. Sheridan sent back word to Colonel Edwards, who commanded a
brigade at Winchester, to stretch his troops across the valley and stop
all fugitives. To most men this would have been the only plan of action
possible, to stop the fugitives and rally at Winchester. Sheridan,
however, was not accustomed to defensive fighting and instantly made up
his mind that he would rally his men at the front and if possible, turn
this defeat into a victory. The roads were too crowded to be used and
so he jumped the fence into the fields and rode straight across country
toward the drumming guns at Cedar Creek, which showed where the main
battle was raging. From the fugitives, as he rode, Sheridan obtained a
clear idea of what had happened. His great rival, Early, had taken
advantage of his absence to obtain revenge for his previous defeats.
Just after dawn he had made an attack in two different directions on
the Union forces and had started a panic which had seized all the
soldiers except one division under Getty and the cavalry under Lowell.
The army which Sheridan met was a defeated army in full rout. As he
dashed along, the men everywhere recognized him, stopped running, threw
up their hats with a cheer and shouldering their muskets, turned around
and followed him as fast as they could. He directed his escort to ride
in all directions and announce that General Sheridan was coming. From
all through the fields and roads could be heard the sound of faint
cheering and everywhere men were seen turning, rallying and marching
forward instead of back. Even the wounded who had fallen by the
roadside waved their hands and hats to him as he passed. As he rode,
Sheridan took off his hat so as to be more easily recognized and
thundered along sometimes in the road and sometimes across country. As
he met the retreating troops, he said:

"Boys, if I had been with you this morning this wouldn't have happened.
The thing to do now is to face about and win this battle after all.
Come on after me as fast as you can."

[Illustration: Sheridan Hurrying to Rally His Men]

So he galloped the whole twelve miles with the men everywhere rallying
behind him and following him at full speed. At last he came to the
forefront of the battle where Getty's division and the cavalry were
holding their own and resisting the rapid approach of the whole
Confederate Army. Sheridan called upon his horse for a last effort and
jumped the rail fence at the crest of the hill. By this time the black
horse was white with foam, but he carried his master bravely up and
down in front of the line and the whole brigade of men rose to their
feet with a tremendous cheer and poured in a fierce fire upon the
approaching Confederate troops. Sheridan rode along the whole front of
the line and aroused a wild enthusiasm which showed itself in the way
that the first Rebel charge was driven back. Telling Getty's and
Lowell's men to hold on, he rode back to meet the approaching troops.
By half-past three in the afternoon, Sheridan had brought back all the
routed troops, reformed his whole battle line and waving his hat, led a
charge riding his same gallant black horse. As they attacked the
Confederate front, Generals Merritt and Custer made a fresh attack and
the whole Confederate Army fell back routed and broken and was driven
up the valley in the same way that earlier in the day they had driven
the Union soldiers. Once again the presence of one brave man had turned
a defeat into a victory.

Sheridan took no credit to himself in his report to Lincoln, simply
telegraphing, "By the gallantry of our brave officers and men, disaster
has been converted into a splendid victory."

"My personal admiration and gratitude for your splendid work of October
19th," Lincoln telegraphed back and the whole country rang with praises
of Phil Sheridan and his wonderful ride. The day after the news of the
battle reached the North, Thomas Buchanan Read wrote a poem entitled
"Sheridan's Ride," with a stirring chorus.

The last verse sang the praise both of the rider and the horse:

    "What was done? what to do? A glance told him both,
    Then striking his spurs with a terrible oath,
    He dashed down the line, mid a storm of huzzas,
    And the wave of retreat checked its course there because,
    The sight of the master compelled it to pause.
    With foam and with dust the black charger was gray;
    By the flash of his eye, and the red nostrils' play,
    He seemed to the whole great army to say,
    'I have brought you Sheridan all the way
    From Winchester, down to save the day.'"



CHAPTER VIII

THE BLOODY ANGLE


It takes courage to charge, to rush over a space swept by shot and
shell and attack a body of men grimly waiting to beat back the onset
with murderous volleys and cold steel. Sometimes, though, it takes more
courage to stand than to charge, to endure than to attack. The six
hundred gallant horsemen of that Light Brigade who charged an army at
Balaclava were brave men. The six hundred Knights of St. John who at
the siege of Malta by Solyman the Magnificent defended the tiny
fortress of St. Elmo against thirty thousand Turks until every man lay
dead back of the broken ramparts and the power and might of the Turkish
Empire had been wasted and shattered against their indomitable defense
were braver. The burghers of Leyden who lived through the siege of
their city on shoe-leather, rats and bark, who baked their last loaves
and threw them down to the besiegers in magnificent defiance, who
shouted down to the Spaniards that they would eat their left arms and
fight with their right, and who slept on the ramparts night and day
until they drove back the greatest army in all Europe were braver.

"It's dogged that does it," said the grim Duke of Wellington when his
thin red line of English fighters endured through that long summer day
against attack after attack until at twilight the Old Guard were
repulsed for the last time and the great battle of Waterloo won.

Many men are brave in flashes. They are good for a dash. Few are those
who can go the distance.

This is the story of a Union general who could endure and whose courage
flared highest when defeat and death seemed certain. It is the story of
a little band of men who were brave enough to stand against an army and
whose endurance won a seven-day battle and opened the way for the
capture of the Confederate capital.

It was the fourth year of the War of the Rebellion, and the end was not
yet in sight. The Confederate cause had fewer men, but better officers.
Robert E. Lee was undoubtedly the most able general in the world at
that time. Stonewall Jackson had been his right arm, while Longstreet,
Johnston, Early and a host of other fighting leaders helped him to
defeat one Union army after another. The trouble with the Union leaders
was that they didn't know how to attack. There had been McClellan, a
wonderful organizer, but who preferred to dig entrenchments rather than
fight and who never believed that he had enough men to risk a battle.

Then came Meade who won the great battle of Gettysburg and beat back
the only invasion of the North, but who failed to follow up his
advantage and had settled down to the old policy that the North knew so
well of watchful waiting. At last came the Man. He had been fighting in
the West and he had won,--not important battles, but more important,
the confidence of the people and of Abraham Lincoln, the people's
president. For this new man had a new system of generalship. His
tactics were simple enough. He believed that armies were made to use,
not to save. He believed in finding the enemy and hammering and
hammering and hammering away until something broke--and that something
was usually the enemy. His name was Ulysses S. Grant.

"He fights," was all that President Lincoln said about him when a party
of politicians came to ask that he be removed. That was enough. What
the North wanted was a fighter. Other generals would fight when they
had to and were satisfied to stop if they defeated the enemy or broke
even, but Grant was like old Charles Martel, Charles the Hammerer, who
won his name when he saved all Europe from the Saracens on the plains
of Tours by a seven-day battle. The great host of horsemen which had
swept victorious through Asia, Africa and half the circle of the
Mediterranean whirled down on the solid mass of grim Northmen. For six
long days Charles Martel hammered away at that flashing horde of wild
warriors. On the seventh his hammer strokes shattered the might of the
Moslems and they broke and fled, never to cross the Pyrenees again. Now
like Charles, the Hammerer of the Union Army was facing his great test,
the terrible Seven Days in the Wilderness. Between him and the
Confederate capital lay Lee's veteran army entrenched in that wild
stretch of Virginia territory which was well named the Wilderness.
Every foot of the puzzling woods, ravines, thickets and trails were
known to the Confederates and well they ought to know it since they had
already won a great battle on nearly the same field. In this tangled
waste an army that knew the ground had a tremendous advantage. Lee
chose his battle-field, but did not believe that Grant would join
battle. He was to learn to know his great opponent better. Grant would
always fight.

On May 4, 1864, the head of Grant's army met Lee's forces on one of the
few roads of the Wilderness, known as the Orange Plank Road. The battle
was joined. At first the Union forces drove the Confederates back into
the thick woods. There they were reinforced and the knowledge of the
field began to tell. Everywhere Confederate soldiers were sent by short
cuts to attack the entangled Union forces and before long the Union
line was shattered and driven back only to form again and fight once
more for six long days. And what a battle that was! As in the fierce
forest-fight between David and Absalom the wood devoured more people
that day than the sword devoured. The men fought at close quarters and
in the tangled thickets of stunted Virginia pine and scrub-oak they
could scarcely see ten yards ahead. Every thicket was alive with men
and flashed with musketry while the roar and rattle of guns on all
sides frightened the deer and rabbits and wildcats that before that day
had been the only dwellers in those masses of underbrush. The men
fought blindly and desperately in both armies. Artillery could not be
used to much advantage in the brush. It was largely a battle of musket
and bayonet and wild hand-to-hand fights in the tangle of trees. The
second day the Confederate lines were rolled back to the spot where Lee
himself stood. Just as they were breaking, down the plank road at a
steady trot came a double column of splendid troops paying no attention
to the rabble and rout around them. Straight to the front they moved.
It was the brigade of Longstreet, Lee's great "left hand." At once the
Union advance was stopped and the Confederates began to reform their
lines. At this moment from the pines streamed another Federal brigade
with apparently resistless force down upon the still confused line.
Then it was that a little force of Texans did a brave deed. They saw
that if the Union advance was not checked, their men would not have
time to form. Although only eight hundred strong, they never hesitated,
but with a wild Rebel yell and without any supports or reinforcements,
charged directly into the flank of the marching Union column of many
times their number. There was a crash, and a tumult of shouts and yells
which settled down into a steady roar of musketry. In less than ten
minutes half of the devoted band lay dead or wounded. But they had
broken the force of the Federal advance and had given the Confederate
line time to rally.

Back and forth, day after day the human tide ebbed and flowed until the
lonely Wilderness was crowded with men, echoing with the roar and
rattle of guns and stained red with brave blood. At times in the
confusion scattered troops fired upon their own men, and Longstreet was
wounded by such an accident.

At one place the Federal forces had erected log breastworks. These
caught fire during the battle and both forces fought each other over a
line of fire through which neither could pass. From every thicket
different flags waved. The forces were so mixed that men going back for
water would find themselves in the hands of the enemy. In places the
woods caught fire and men fought through the rolling smoke until driven
back by the flames that spared neither the Blue nor the Gray. Both
sides would then crawl out to rescue the wounded lying in the path of
the fire. In some places where the men had fought through the brush,
bushes, saplings and even large trees were cut off by bullets four or
five feet from the ground as clean and regularly as if by machinery.
For the first few days the Confederates had the advantage. They knew
the paths and the Union men were driven back and forth among the woods
in a way that would have made any ordinary general retreat. But Grant
was not an ordinary general. The more he was beaten the harder he
fought. The more men he lost the more he called into action from the
reserves.

"It's no use fighting that fellow," said one old Confederate veteran;
"the fool never knows when he's beaten. And it's no use shooting at
those Yanks," he went on; "half-a-dozen more come to take the place of
every one we hit."

At last the Union soldiers got the lay of the land. They couldn't be
surprised or ambushed any more. Then they began to throw up breastworks
and to cut down trees to hold every foot that they had taken. The
Confederates did the same and the two long, irregular lines of
earthworks and log fortifications faced each other all the way through
the Wilderness. Yet still the lines of gray lay between Richmond and
the men in blue. For six days the men had fought locked together in
hand-to-hand fights over miles and miles of wilderness, marsh and
thicket. The Union losses had been terrific. All along the line the
Confederates had won and again and again had dashed back the attempts
of the Union forces to pass through or around their lines. The Union
Army had lost eleven officers and twenty thousand men and had fought
for six days without accomplishing anything. Yet on that day Grant sent
to Washington a dispatch in which he wrote: "I propose to fight it out
on this line if it takes all summer."

Through all this tumult of defeats and losses he sat under a tree
whittling and directing every movement as coolly as if safe at home.
Finally the great Hammerer chose a spot at which to batter and smash
with those tremendous strokes of his. The Confederates had built a long
irregular line of earthworks and timber breastworks running for miles
through the tangled woods. At one point near the center of the lines a
half-moon of defenses jutted out high above the rest of the works. At
the chord of this half-circle was an angle of breastworks back of which
the Confederates could retreat if driven out of the semicircle. Grant
saw that this half-moon was the key of the Confederate position. If it
could be captured and held, their whole battle line could be broken and
crumpled back and the Union Army pass on to Richmond. If taken at all,
it must be by some sudden irresistible attack. He chose General
Hancock, a daring, dashing fighter, to make the attempt for the morning
of May 12th. It rained hard on the night of May 11th and came off
bitter cold. The men gathered for the attack about ten o'clock and
huddled together in little groups wet and half-frozen. All that long
night they waited. Just at dawn the word was passed around. Crouching
in the darkness, a division pressed forward and rushed like tigers at
the half-circle and began to climb the breastworks from two sides. The
sleepy sentries saw the rush too late. The first man over was a young
sergeant named Brown. With a tremendous jump he caught a projecting
bough, swung himself over like a cat and landed right in the midst of a
crowd of startled soldiers. Finding himself entirely alone with a score
of guns pointed at him, he lost his nerve for a minute.

"I surrender, don't shoot," he bellowed like a bull. At that moment
from all sides other soldiers dropped over the rampart.

"I take it all back," shouted Brown, now brave again, and to make up
for the break in his courage he rushed into the very midst of the
defenders and, single-handed, captured the colors. The Confederates
were taken entirely by surprise. In the dim light they fought
desperately, but they were attacked from two sides with bullets,
bayonets and smashing blows from the butt-ends of muskets used like
clubs. Almost in a moment the entrenchments were in the hands of the
Union soldiers and over three thousand prisoners, two generals and
twenty cannon were captured. Those who were left took refuge back of
the angle-breastworks which guarded the approach to the half-moon.
There they fought back the charging troops until Lee, who had heard of
the disaster, could pour in reinforcements. He knew full well that this
center must be retaken at any cost. Every man and gun that could be
spared was hurried to the spot. Lee started then to take command in
person. Only when the soldiers refused to fight unless he took a safe
place did he consent to stay back.

With all his available forces Grant lapped the half-circle on every
side and began to hammer away at this break in the Confederate line.
The Confederate reinforcements came up first and Hancock's men were
driven back from the angle until they met the reinforcements pouring in
from the troops outside. For a moment they could not face the
concentrated fire that came from the rear breastworks. Flat on their
faces officers and men lay in a little marsh while the canister swished
against the tall marsh-grass and the minie balls moaned horribly as
they picked out exposed men here and there. Soon another regiment came
up and with a yell the men sprang to their feet and dashed at the
breastworks which loomed up through the little patch of woods through
which they had retreated. In a minute they had rushed through the trees
with men dropping on every side under the murderous fire. Before them
was the grim angle of works to be known forever as the Bloody Angle.

As they came nearer they found themselves in front of a deep ditch.
Scrambling through this they became entangled in an abattis, a kind of
latticework of limbs and branches. As they plunged into this many a man
was caught in the footlocks formed by the interwoven branches and held
until he was shot down by the fire back of the breastworks. These were
made of heavy timber banked with earth to a height of about four feet.
Above this was what was called a "head-log" raised just high enough to
allow a musket to be inserted between it and the lower work. Inside
were shelves covered with piles of buck and ball and minie cartridges.
Through the ditch and the snares, up and over the breastworks charged a
Pennsylvania regiment, losing nearly one hundred men as they went.

Once again there was the same confused hand-to-hand fighting as had
taken place at the outer fortifications. This time the result was
different. The crafty Lee had hurried a dense mass of troops through
the mist. These men crawled forward in the smoke, reserving their fire
until they got to the very inside edge of the Angle. Then with the
terrible long-drawn Rebel yell, they sprang to their feet and dashed
into the breastworks with a volley that killed every Union soldier who
had crossed over. Down too went the men in front, still tangled in the
abattis. Every artillery horse was shot and Colonel Upton of the 95th
Pennsylvania Volunteers was the only mounted officer in sight.

"Stick to it, boys," he shouted, riding back and forth and waving his
hat. "We've got to hold this point!"

In a dense mass the Confederates poured into the breastworks and for a
moment it seemed as if they would sweep the Union forces back and
retake the half-moon salient. At this moment the Pennsylvanians were
reinforced by the 5th Maine and the 121st New York, but the
Confederates had the advantage of the breastworks and the Union men
began to waver. Then a little two-gun battery of the Second Corps did a
very brave thing. They were located at the foot of a hill back of a
pine-grove. As the news came that the Union men were giving way, they
limbered the guns, the drivers and cannoneers mounted the horses and up
the hill at full gallop they charged through the Union infantry and
right up to the breastworks, the only case of a charge by a battery in
history. Then in a second they unlimbered their guns and poured in a
fire of the tin cans filled with bullets called canister which was
deadly on the close-packed ranks of the Confederates hurrying up to the
Angle. The Union gunners were exposed to the full fire of the men back
of the breastworks, but they never flinched. The left gun fired nine
rounds and the right fourteen double charges. These cannonades simply
mowed the men down in groups. Captain Fish of General Upton's staff
left his men and rushed to help this little battery. Back and forth he
rode before the guns and the caissons carrying stands of canister under
his rubber coat.

"Give it to 'em, boys," he shouted. "I'll bring you canister if you'll
only use it."

Again and again he rode until, just as he turned to cheer the gunners
once more, he fell mortally wounded. The guns were fired until all of
the horses were killed, the guns, carriages and buckets cut to pieces
by the bullets and only two of the twenty-three men of the battery were
left on their feet. Leaving their two brass pieces which had done such
terrible execution still on the breastworks cut and hacked by the
bullets from both sides, the lone two marched back through the cheering
infantry.

"That's the way to do it," shouted Colonel Upton. "Hold 'em, men! Hold
'em!" And his men held.

The soft mud came up half-way to their knees. Under the continued
tramping back and forth, the dead and wounded were almost buried at
their feet. The shattered ranks backed off a few yards, then closed up
and started to hold their place out in the open against the constantly
increasing masses of the enemy back of the breastworks of the Angle.
The space was so narrow that only a certain number of men on each side
could get into action at once. A New Jersey and Vermont brigade hurried
in to help while on the other side General Lee sent all the men that
could find a place to fight back of the breastworks. Into the mêlée
came an orderly who shouted in Colonel Upton's ear so as to be heard
over the rattle of musketry and the roar of yells and cheers:

"General Grant says, 'Hold on!'"

"Tell General Grant we are holding on," shouted back Colonel Upton.

The men in the mud now directed all their fire at the top of the
breastworks and picked off every head and hand that showed above. The
Confederates then fired through the loopholes, or placed their rifles
on the top log and holding by the trigger and the small of the stock
lifted the breach high enough to fire at the attacking forces. The
losses on both sides were frightful. A gun and a mortar battery took
position half a mile back of the Union forces and began to gracefully
curve shells and bombs just over the heads of their comrades so as to
drop within the ramparts. Sometimes the enemy's fire would slacken.
Then some reckless Union soldier would seize a fence-rail or a piece of
the abattis and creep close to the breastworks and thrust it over as if
he was stirring up a hornet's nest, dropping on the ground to avoid the
volley that was sure to follow. One daring lieutenant leaped upon the
breastworks and took a rifle that was handed up to him and fired it
into the masses of the Confederate soldiers behind. Another one was
handed up and he fired that and was about aiming with a third when he
was riddled with a volley and pitched headlong among the enemy.

A little later a party of discouraged Confederates raised a piece of a
white shelter tent above the works as a flag of truce and offered to
surrender. The Union soldiers called on them to jump over. They sprang
on the breastworks and hesitated a moment at the sight of so many
leveled guns. That moment was fatal to them for their comrades in the
rear poured a volley into them, killing nearly every one.

All day long the battle raged. Different breastworks in the same
fortifications flaunted different flags. Gradually, however, all along
the line the firing and the fighting concentrated at the Angle. The
head logs there were so cut and torn that they looked like brooms. So
heavy was the fire that several large oak trees twenty-two inches in
diameter back of the works were gnawed down by the bullets and fell,
injuring some of the South Carolina troops. Toward dusk the Union
troops were nearly exhausted. Each man had fired between three and four
hundred rounds. Their lips were black and bleeding from biting
cartridge. Their shoulders and hands were coated and black with grime
and powder-dust. As soon as it became dark they dropped in the
knee-deep mud from utter exhaustion. But they held. Grimly, sternly
they held. All the long night through they fired away at the
breastworks. The trenches on the right of the Angle ran red with Union
blood and had to be cleared many a time of the piles of dead bodies
which choked them. At last, a little after midnight, sullenly and
slowly the Confederate forces drew back and the half-moon and the
Bloody Angle were left in possession of the Union forces. The seven
days' hammering and the twenty hours of holding had won the fierce and
bloody Battle of the Wilderness.



CHAPTER IX

HEROES OF GETTYSBURG


Heroes are not made of different stuff from ordinary men. God made us
all heroes at heart. Satan lied when he said "all that a man hath will
he give for his life." The call comes and commonplace men and workaday
women give their lives as a very little thing for a cause, for an
ideal, or for others. When the great moment comes, the love and courage
and unselfishness that lie deep in the souls of all of us can flash
forth into beacon-lights of brave deeds which will stand throughout the
years pointing the path of high endeavor for those who come after.

Women the world over will never forget how Mrs. Strauss came back from
the life-boat and went down on the _Titanic_ with her husband rather
than have him die alone.

Boys have been braver and tenderer their lives long because of the
unknown hero at Niagara. With his mother he was trapped on a floe when
the ice-jam broke. Slowly and sternly it moved toward the roaring edge
of the cataract. From the Suspension Bridge a rope was let down to
them. Twice he tried to fix it around his mother, but she was too old
and weak to hold on. The floe was passing beyond the bridge and there
was just time for him to knot the rope around himself. Young, active
and strong, he would be safe in a moment, but his mother would go to
death deserted and alone. He tossed the rope away, put his arm around
his old mother and they went over the Falls together.

Every American sailor has been braver and gentler from the memory of
Captain Craven who commanded the monitor _Tecumseh_ when Fighting
Farragut destroyed the forts and captured the Rebel fleet at Mobile
Bay. The _Tennessee_ was about to grapple with the _Tennessee_, the
great Rebel ram, when she struck a torpedo, turned over and went down
bow foremost. Captain Craven was in the pilot-house with the pilot. As
the vessel sank they both rushed for the narrow door. Craven reached it
first, but stood aside saying, "After you, pilot." The latter leaped
through as the water rushed in and was saved. Craven went down with his
ship.

The great moments which are given to men in which to decide whether
they are to be heroes or cowards may come at any time, but they always
flash through every battle. Danger, suffering and death are the stern
tests by which men's real selves are discovered. A man can't do much
pretending when he is under fire, and he can't make believe he is brave
or unselfish, or chivalric when he is sick, or wounded, or dying. We
can be proud that the man who went before us made good and that we can
remember all the great battles of the greatest of our wars by the brave
deeds of brave men.

The battle of Gettysburg was the most important of the Civil War. Lee
with seventy thousand men was pouring into the North. If he defeated
Meade and the Union Army, Washington, the capital, would fall. Even
Philadelphia and New York would be threatened. In three days of
terrible fighting, thirty thousand men were killed. In one of the
charges one regiment, the 1st Minnesota, lost eighty-two per cent. of
its men--more than twice as many as the famous Light Brigade lost at
Balaclava. Pickett's charge of fifteen thousand men over nearly a mile
and a half against the hill which marked the center of the Union lines
was one of the greatest charges in history. When the Confederates were
driven back, two-thirds of the charging party had been killed or
wounded. It was the crisis of the war. If that charge went home
Gettysburg was lost, the Union Army would become a rabble and the whole
strength of the Confederate forces would pass on into the North. On the
Union batteries depended the whole fate of the army. If they could keep
up a fire to the last moment, the charge must fail. Otherwise the
picked thousands of the Confederate Army would break the center of the
Union forces and the battle would be lost. Lee gathered together one
hundred and fifteen guns and directed a storm of shot and shell against
the Union batteries as his regiments charged up the hill. On the very
crest was a battery commanded by young Cushing, a brother of Lieutenant
W. B. Cushing, who drove a tiny torpedo launch over a boom of logs
under the fire of forts, troops and iron-clads and destroyed the great
Confederate iron-clad _Albemarle_. This Cushing was of the same
fighting breed. During the battle he was shot through both thighs but
would not leave his post though suffering agonies from the wounds. When
the charge began he fought his battery as fast as the guns could be
loaded and fired and his grape-shot and canister mowed down the
charging Confederates by the hundred. In spite of tremendous losses the
Rebels rushed up the hill firing as they came and so fierce was their
fire and that of the Confederate batteries that of the Union officers
in command of the batteries just in front of the charge, all but two
were struck. But the men kept up the fire to the very last. As what was
left of the Confederates topped the hill, a shell struck the wounded
Cushing tearing him almost in two. He held together his mangled body
with one hand and with the other fired his last gun and fell dead just
as the Confederates reached the stone wall on the crest. They were so
shattered by his fire that they were unable to hold the hill and were
driven back and the battle won for the Union.

Old John Burns was another one of the many heroes of Gettysburg. John
was over seventy years old when the battle was fought and lived in a
little house in the town of Gettysburg with his wife who was nearly as
old as he. Burns had fought in the war of 1812 and began to get more
and more uneasy every day as the battle was joined at different points
near where he was living. The night before the last day of the battle
the old man went out to get his cow and found that a foraging band of
Confederates had driven her off. This was the last straw. The next day
regiment after regiment of the Confederate forces marched past his
house and the old man took down his flintlock musket which had done
good service against the British in 1812 and began to melt lead and run
bullets through his little old bullet mould. Mrs. Burns had been
watching him uneasily for some time.

"John, what in the world are you doing there?" she finally asked.

"Oh," he said, "I thought I would fix up the old gun and get some
bullets ready in case any of the boys might want to use it. There's
goin' to be some fightin' and it's just as well to get ready. There
ain't a piece in the army that will shoot straighter than Betsy here,"
and the old man patted the long stock of the musket affectionately.

"Well," said his wife, "you see that you keep out of it. You know if
the Rebs catch you fightin' in citizens' clothes, they'll hang you
sure."

"Don't you worry about me," said John. "I helped to lick the British
and I ain't afraid of a lot of Rebels."

Finally the long procession of Confederate forces passed and for an
hour or so the road was empty and silent. At last in the distance
sounded the roll and rattle of drums and through a great cloud of dust
flamed the stars and stripes and in a moment the road was filled with
solid masses of blue-clad troops hurrying to their positions on what
was to be one of the great battle-fields of the world. As regiment
after regiment filed past, old John could stand it no longer. He
grabbed his musket and started out the door.

"John! John! Where are you going?" screamed his wife, running after
him. "Ain't you old enough to know better?"

"I'm just goin' out to get a little fresh air," said John, pulling away
from her and hurrying down the street. "I'll be back before night
sure."

It was the afternoon of the last day when the men of a Wisconsin
regiment near the front saw a little old man approaching, dressed in a
blue swallow-tail coat with brass buttons and carrying a long flintlock
rifle with a big powder-horn strapped about him.

"Hi, there!" he piped, when he saw the men. "I want to jine in.
Where'll I go?"

The men laughed at the sight.

"Anywhere," shouted back one of them; "there's good fightin' all along
the line."

"Well," said John, "I guess I'll stop here," and in spite of their
attempts to keep him back, he crept up until he was at the very front
of the skirmish line. There was a lull in the fighting just then and
there was a good deal of joking up and down the line between the men
and John.

"Say, grandpa," called out one, "did you fight in the Revolution?"

"Have you ever hit anything with that old gun of yours?" said another.

But John was able to hold his own.

"Sure I fought in the Revolution," he piped loudly, "and as for hittin'
anything, say, boys, do you know that at the Battle of Bunker Hill I
had sixty-two bullets in my pocket. I had been loadin' and firin' fifty
times and I had shot forty-nine British officers when suddenly I heard
some one yellin' to me from behind our lines and he says to me, 'Hi,
there, old dead-shot, don't you know that this is a battle and not a
massacre?' I turns around and right behind me was General George
Washington, so I saluted and I says, 'What is it, General?' and he
says, 'You stop firin' right away.' 'Well,' I said, 'General, I have
only got twelve more bullets; can't I shoot those?' 'No,' he says to
me, 'you go home. You've done enough,' and he says, 'don't call me
General, call me George.'"

This truthful anecdote was repeated along the whole line and instantly
made John's reputation as a raconteur. He was allowed to establish
himself at the front of the line and in a minute, as the firing
commenced, he was fighting with the best of them. They tried to
persuade him to take a musket from one of the many dead men who were
lying around, but like David, John would not use any weapon which he
had not proved. He stuck to old Betsy and although he did not make
quite so good a record as at the Battle of Bunker Hill, according to
his comrades he accounted for no less than three Confederates, one of
whom was an officer. Before the day was over he received three wounds.
Toward evening there was an overwhelming rush of the Confederates which
drove back the Union soldiers and the Wisconsin regiment fell back
leaving poor old John lying there among the other wounded. He was in a
dilemma. Although his cuts were only flesh-wounds, yet he would bleed
to death unless they were properly dressed. On the other hand if he was
found by the Rebels in civilian clothes with his rifle, he would
undoubtedly be shot according to military law. The old man could not,
however, bear the thought of parting with old Betsy, so he crawled
groaningly toward a hollow tree where he managed to hide the old
flint-lock and the powder-horn and soon afterward attracted the
attention of the Confederate patrol which was going about the field
attending to the wounded. At first they were suspicious of him.

"What are you doing, old man, wounded on a battle-field in citizens'
clothes?" one of the officers asked.

"Well," said John, "I was out lookin' for a cow which some of you
fellows carried off and first thing I knew I was hit in three places.
So long as you got my cow, the least you can do is to carry me home."

[Illustration: The Battle of Gettysburg]

This seemed fair to the officer and a stretcher was brought and the old
man was carried back to the house. His next fear was that his wife
would unconsciously betray him to the patrol that were bringing him
into the house. Sure enough as they reached the door, old Mrs. Burns
came rushing out.

"John," she screamed, "I told you not to go out."

"Shut up, Molly," bellowed John at the top of his voice. "I didn't find
the old cow, but I did the best I could and I want you to tell these
gentlemen that I am as peaceable an old chap that ever lived, for they
found me out there wounded with a lot of soldiers and think I may have
been doin' some fightin'."

Mrs. Burns was no fool.

"Gentlemen," she cried out, "I can't thank you enough for bringing back
this poor silly husband of mine. I told him that if he went hunting
to-day for cows or anything else, he would most likely find nothing but
trouble, and I guess he has. He's old enough to know better, but you
leave him here and I'll nurse him and try to get some sense into his
head."

So the patrol left Burns at his own house, not without some suspicions,
for the next day an officer came around and put him through a severe
cross-examination which John for the most part escaped by pretending to
be too weak to answer any particularly searching question. Mrs. Burns
nursed the old man back to health again and never let a day go by
without a number of impressive remarks about his foolhardiness. The old
man hadn't much to say, but the first day after he got well he
disappeared and came back an hour or so later with old Betsy and the
powder-horn which he found safe and sound in the tree where he left
them. These he hung again over the mantelpiece in readiness for the
next war, "for," said John, "a man's never too old to fight for his
country."

Another hero in that battle was Lieutenant Bayard Wilkeson. Only
nineteen years old he commanded a battery in an exposed position on the
Union right. His two guns did so much damage that Gordon, the
Confederate general, could not advance his troops in the face of their
deadly fire. Wilkeson could be seen on the far-away hilltop riding back
and forth encouraging and directing his gunners.

General Gordon sent for the captains of two of his largest batteries.

"Train every gun you've got," he said, "on that man and horse. He's
doing more damage than a whole Yankee regiment."

Quietly the guns of the two far-apart positions were swung around until
they all pointed directly at that horseman against the sky. A white
handkerchief was waved from the farthest battery and with a crash every
gun went off. When the smoke cleared away, man and horse were down, the
guns dismounted and the gunners killed. The Confederate forces swept on
their way unchecked across the field that had been swept and winnowed
by Wilkeson's deadly guns. As they went over the crest, they found him
under his dead horse and surrounded by his dead gunners still alive but
desperately wounded. He was carried in to the Allen House along with
their own wounded and given what attention was possible, which was
little enough. It was plain to be seen that he was dying. Suffering
from that choking, desperate thirst which attacks every wounded man who
has lost much blood he faintly asked for water. There was no water to
be had, but finally one of the Confederate officers in charge managed
to get a full canteen off a passing soldier. Wilkeson stretched out his
hands for what meant more to him than anything else in the world. Just
then a wounded Confederate soldier next to him cried out, "For God's
sake give me some."

Wilkeson stopped with the canteen half to his mouth and then by sheer
force of will passed it over to the other. In his agonizing thirst the
wounded Confederate drank every drop before he could stop himself.
Horror-stricken he turned to apologize. The young lieutenant smiled at
him, turned slightly--and was gone. It took more courage to give up
that flask of cold water than to fight his battery against the whole
Confederate Army.

The hero-folk on that great day were not all men and boys. Among the
many, many monuments that crowd the field of Gettysburg there is one of
a young girl carved from pure translucent Italian marble. It is the
statue of Jennie Wade, the water-carrier for many a wounded and dying
soldier during two of those days of doom. Although she knew it not,
Jennie was following in the footsteps of another woman, that unknown
wife of a British soldier at the Battle of Saratoga in the far-away
Revolutionary days. When Burgoyne's army was surrounded at Saratoga,
some of the women and wounded men were sent for safety to a large house
in the neighborhood where they took refuge in the cellar. There they
crouched for six long days and nights while the cannon-balls crashed
through the house overhead. The cellar became crowded with wounded and
dying men who were suffering agonies from thirst. It was only a few
steps to the river, but the house was surrounded by Morgan's
sharp-shooters and every man who ventured out with a bucket was shot
dead. At last the wife of one of the soldiers offered to go and in
spite of the protests of the men ventured out. The American riflemen
would not fire upon a woman and again and again she went down to the
river and brought back water to the wounded in safety.

Jennie Wade was a girl of twenty who lived in a red-brick house right
in the path of the battle. They could not move to a safer place, for
her married sister was there with a day-old baby, so the imprisoned
family was in the thick of the battle. Recently when the old roof was
taken off to be repaired, over two quarts of bullets were taken from
it. During the first day, Jennie's mother moved her daughter and her
baby so that her head rested against the foot of the bed. She had no
more been moved than a bullet crashed through the window and struck the
pillow where her head had lain an instant before. While her mother
watched her daughter and the baby, Jennie carried water to the soldiers
on the firing-line. At the end of the first day fifteen soldiers lay
dead in the little front yard and all through that weary day and late
into the night Jennie was going back and forth filling the canteens of
the wounded and dying soldiers as they lay scattered on that stricken
field. Throughout the second day she kept on with this work and many
and many a wounded soldier choking with thirst lived to bless her
memory. On this day a long procession of blue-clad men knocked at the
door of the house asking for bread until the whole supply was gone.
After dark on the second day, Jennie mixed up a pan of dough and set it
out to rise. She got up at daybreak and as she was lighting a fire, a
hungry soldier-boy knocked at the door and asked for something to eat.
Jennie started to mix up some biscuit and as she stood with her sleeves
rolled up and her hands in the dough, a minie ball cut through the door
and she fell over dead without a word. Her statue stands as she must
have appeared during those first two days of battle. In one hand she
carries a pitcher and over her left arm are two army-canteens hung by
their straps. Not the least of the heroic ones of that battle was
Jennie Wade who died while thus engaged in homely, helpful services for
her country.

These are the stories of but a few who fought at Gettysburg that men
might be free and that their country might stand for righteousness. The
spirit of that battle has been best expressed in a great poem by Will
H. Thompson with which we end these stories of some of the brave deeds
of the greatest battle of the Civil War.

    HIGH TIDE AT GETTYSBURG

    A cloud possessed the hollow field,
    The gathering battle's smoky shield;
      Athwart the gloom the lightning flashed,
      And through the cloud some horsemen dashed,
    And from the heights the thunder pealed.

    Then, at the brief command of Lee,
    Moved out that matchless infantry,
      With Pickett leading grandly down
      To rush against the roaring crown
    Of those dread heights of destiny.

    Far heard above the angry guns,
    A cry across the tumult runs,
      The voice that rang through Shiloh's woods
      And Chickamauga's solitudes,
    The fierce South cheering on her sons.

    Ah, how the withering tempest blew
    Against the front of Pettigrew!
      A khamsin wind that scorched and singed,
      Like that infernal flame that fringed
    The British squares at Waterloo!

    "Once more in Glory's van with me!"
    Virginia cries to Tennessee,
      "We two together, come what may,
      Shall stand upon those works to-day."
    (The reddest day in history.)

    But who shall break the guards that wait
    Before the awful face of Fate?
      The tattered standards of the South
      Were shriveled at the cannon's mouth,
    And all her hopes were desolate.

    In vain the Tennesseean set
    His breast against the bayonet;
      In vain Virginia charged and raged,
      A tigress in her wrath uncaged,
    Till all the hill was red and wet!

    Above the bayonets mixed and crossed,
    Men saw a gray, gigantic ghost
      Receding through the battle-cloud,
      And heard across the tempest loud
    The death-cry of a nation lost!

    The brave went down! Without disgrace
    They leaped to Ruin's red embrace;
      They only heard Fame's thunder wake,
      And saw the dazzling sun-burst break
    In smiles on Glory's bloody face!

    They fell, who lifted up a hand
    And bade the sun in heaven to 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!

    God lives! He forged the iron will
    That clutched and held that trembling hill.
      God lives and reigns! He built and lent
      Those heights for Freedom's battlement,
    Where floats her flag in triumph still!

    Fold up the banners! Smelt the guns!
    Love rules; her gentler purpose runs.
      A mighty mother turns in tears
      The pages of her battle years,
    Lamenting all her fallen sons!



CHAPTER X

THE LONE SCOUT


Single-handed exploits, where a man must depend upon his own strength
and daring and coolness, rank high among brave deeds. Occasionally a
man has confidence enough in himself to penetrate alone into the
enemy's country and to protect his life and do his endeavor by his own
craft and courage. Of such was Hereward, the Last of the English, who,
like Robin Hood, many centuries later, led his little band of free men
through fen and forest and refused to yield even to the vast resources
of William the Conqueror. Once disguised as a swineherd he entered the
very court of the king and sat with the other strangers and wanderers
at the foot of the table in the great banquet-hall and saw in the
distance the man who was first to conquer and then to make
unconquerable all England. To this day we love to read of his
adventures on that scouting trip. How the servants who sat at meat with
him played rough jokes on him until, forgetful of his enormous
strength, he dealt one of them a buffet which laid him lifeless across
the table with a broken neck. How he was taken up to the head of the
table and stood before William on an instant trial for his life. His
loose jerkin had been torn during the struggle and showed his vast
chest and arms covered with scars of old wounds which no swineherd
would ever have received. The old chronicle goes on to tell how they
imprisoned him for the night and when his jailer came to fetter his
legs with heavy irons, he stunned him with a kick, unlocked the doors
and gates, broke open the stable door, selected the best horse in the
king's stable and, armed with an old scythe blade which he had picked
up in the barn, cut his way through the guard and rode all night by the
stars back to his band.

In 1862 Corporal Pike of the Fourth Ohio Regiment led an expedition for
a hundred miles through the enemy's country, which was worthy of
Hereward himself. The expedition consisted of Corporal James Pike, who
held all positions from general to private and who also had charge of
the commissary department and was head of the board of strategy. The
corporal was a descendant of Captain Zebulon Pike the great Indian
fighter and inherited his ancestor's coolness and daring. Old Zebulon
used to say that he never really knew what happiness was until he was
in danger of his life and that when he started into a fight, it was as
if all the music in the world was playing in his ears and that a battle
to him was like a good dinner, a game of ball and a picnic all rolled
into one. The corporal was very much this way. He had taken such
particular pleasure in foolhardy exploits that his officers decided to
try him on scout duty. There he did so well that General Mitchel's
attention was attracted to him.

In April, 1862, it was of great importance for the general's plans to
obtain information in regard to the strength of the Confederates in
Alabama, and to have a certain railroad bridge destroyed so as to cut
off the line of communications with the forces farther south. Out of
the whole regiment the general picked Corporal Pike. The corporal's
plan of procedure was characteristic of the man. He wore his regular
full blue uniform and throughout the first part of his trip made no
attempt at disguise or concealment. This was not as reckless as it
sounds. The country was filled with Confederate spies and messengers
who almost invariably adopted the Union uniform and it had this
advantage--if captured, he could claim that he was in his regular
uniform and was entitled to be treated as a soldier captured on the
field of battle and not hung as a spy. The corporal, however, did not
attach any very great weight to the protection of this uniform, as he
figured out that if he were caught burning bridges and obtaining
reports of Confederate forces, they would hang him whatever the color
of his uniform. He had no adventures until he drew near Fayetteville in
Tennessee. He spent the night in the woods and bright and early the
next morning rode into the village and up to the hotel and ordered
breakfast for himself and a similar attention for his horse. The sight
of a Union soldier assembled all the unoccupied part of the population
and in a few minutes there were three hundred men on the sidewalk in
front of the hotel. As the corporal came back from looking after his
horse, for he would never eat until he had seen that old Bill was
properly cared for, a man stepped up and inquired his name.

[Illustration: Corporal Pike]

"My name, sir," said the corporal, "is James Pike of the Fourth Ohio
Cavalry, which is located at Shelbyville. What can I do for you?"

There was a few moments' silence and then a great laugh went up as the
crowd decided that this was some Confederate scout, probably one of
Morgan's rangers in disguise.

"What are you doing down here?" asked another.

"I am down here," said Pike coolly, "to demand the surrender of this
town just as soon as I can get my breakfast and find the mayor."

The crowd laughed loudly again and the corporal went in to breakfast,
where he sat at a table with a number of Confederate officers with whom
he talked so mysteriously that they were fully convinced that he must
be one of Morgan's right-hand men. After breakfast he ordered his horse
and started out, first saying good-bye to the crowd who were still
waiting for him.

"If you're from the North," said one, "why don't you show us a Yankee
trick before you go?" for the Southerners were thoroughly convinced
that all Yankees were sly foxes full of sudden schemes and stratagems.

"Well, I will before long," said Pike, as he waved good-bye and
galloped off.

Five miles out of the village he came to a fork in the road where one
road led to Decatur, which was where the main Confederate forces were
located, and the other to Huntsville. Just as he was turning into the
Decatur road, he saw a wagon-train coming in from Huntsville and
decided that here was a chance for his promised Yankee trick. He rode
up to the first wagon.

"Drive that wagon up close to the fence and halt," he said.

"How long since you've been wagon-master?" said the driver, cracking
his whip.

"Ever since you left your musket lying in the bottom of the wagon,"
said Pike, leveling his revolver at the man's head. He drove his wagon
up and halted it without a word and stood with his arms over his head
as ordered by Pike.

One by one the other wagons came up and the drivers assumed the same
attitude. Last of all there was a rattle of hoofs and the wagon-master,
who had been lingering in the rear, galloped up.

"What the devil are you fellows stopping for?" he shouted, but as he
came around the last wagon, he almost ran his head into Pike's revolver
and immediately assumed the same graceful attitude as the others. Pike
rode up to each wagon, collected all the muskets, not forgetting to
remove a couple of revolvers from the belt of the wagon-master and then
inquired from the latter what the wagons had in them.

"Provender," said the wagon-master, surlily.

"What else?" said the corporal, squinting along the barrel of his
revolver.

"Bacon," yelled the wagon-master much alarmed; "four thousand pounds in
each wagon."

"Well," said the corporal, "I've always been told that raw bacon is an
unhealthy thing to eat and so you just unhitch your mules and set fire
to these wagons and be mighty blamed quick about it too, because I have
a number of engagements down the road." The men grumbled, but there was
no help for them and in a few minutes every wagon was burning and
crackling and giving out dense black smoke. Waiting until it was
impossible to put them out, the corporal lined the men up across the
road.

"Now you fellows get on your marks and when I count three you start
back to Fayetteville and if you are in reach by the time I have counted
one hundred, there's going to be some nice round holes in the backs of
your uniforms. When you get back to the village tell them that this is
the Yankee trick that I promised them."

Before Pike had counted twenty-five there was not a man in sight. He at
once turned back and raced down the road toward Decatur. He had gone
about ten miles when he came to a small country church and as it was
Sunday, it was open and nearly filled. Fearing that there might be a
number of armed Confederate soldiers in the church who would start out
in pursuit as soon as the word came back from Fayetteville, the
corporal decided to investigate. Not wishing to dismount he rode Bill
up the steps and through the open door and down the main aisle, just as
the minister was announcing a hymn.

"Excuse this interruption," said Pike, as the minister's voice quavered
off into silence, "but I notice a number of soldierly-looking men here
and I will take it as a great favor if they will hold their hands as
high above their heads as possible and come down here and have a talk
with me."

As this simple request was accompanied by a revolver aimed at the
audience, one by one six soldiers who had been attending the service
came sheepishly down the aisle. They looked so funny straining their
arms over their heads that some of the girls in the audience unkindly
burst out laughing. Pike removed a revolver from each one and dumped
his captured arms into one of his saddle-bags.

"Now, parson," he said, "I want to hear a good, fervent prayer from you
for the President of the United States." The minister hesitated. "Quick
and loud," said Pike, "because I'm going in a minute."

There was no help for it and the minister prayed for President Lincoln
by name, while Pike reverently removed his cap. Then backing his horse
out of the door, he started on toward Decatur. Not a half mile from the
church he met two Confederate soldiers who were leisurely riding to the
church. There was no reason at all why the corporal should meddle with
these men. They were two to one and he had no way of disposing of them
even if he made them captives. However, the sight of the Confederate
parson praying for Abe Lincoln had tickled Pike and he made up his mind
to have some fun with these soldiers. As he came abreast of them he
whipped out his revolver, ordered them to halt and to give their names,
regiments and companies. They did so with great alacrity.

"Well, gentlemen," he said, "you are my prisoners and I am very sorry
for I am so far outside of my lines that I am afraid there is only one
way to safely dispose of you."

"Great heavens, man," said one, "you don't mean to shoot us down."

"I'm sorry," said Pike, "but you can see for yourself that that's the
only thing to do. You are Rebel soldiers and to leave you alive would
mean that you will keep on doing harm to the Union forces."

"Don't shoot, captain," both of them chorused; "we'll take the oath of
allegiance."

Pike seemed to hesitate.

"Well," he said finally, "I hate to kill men on Sunday. I suppose I
ought not to do this, but if you'll solemnly swear allegiance to the
United States of America and that you'll never hereafter serve against
the Union or be late to church again, I'll let you go."

With much solemnity, the Confederates took the oath in the form
dictated, delivered up their revolvers and rode away.

The next man that Pike encountered was an old gentleman on his way to
Fayetteville, who admitted that he was a judge and the next day was
intending to serve in a number of political cases involving the
property of certain Union sympathizers. Pike made him also take the
oath of allegiance, and promise not to enter judgment contrary to the
interests of the Union. He then left the road and rode along a shallow
creek through the woods. About sunset he suddenly came upon an old man
under the trees. He questioned him and found that he was a Union
sympathizer and was told by him that there were twelve Tennessee
cavalrymen and fifteen mounted citizens on the lookout for him.

"That is," said the old man, "if you're the chap that has been going
around capturing wagon-trains and churches and soldiers and judges."

"That's me," said Pike.

The old man took him home and fed him and with him he left his horse
and started out on foot, feeling that the hue and cry would now be out
all over the country against a mounted man in Union uniform. Leaving
his friend, he followed the path through the woods toward Decatur until
it was dark and then wrapped himself up in a blanket and slept all
night in the pouring rain. In the morning he made his way toward the
railway and followed it until about ten o'clock when he stopped at a
house and bought a breakfast. He had not been there long before he was
joined by several Confederate cavalrymen.

"What's your business," said one, "and what are you doing in that
uniform?"

"Well," said Pike, "I was told to wear it and not to tell any one my
business until it was done and if you fellows don't like it, you had
better take it up with the general."

Once again the Confederates concluded that he was on some secret
mission. They insisted, however, on taking him to camp with them and
there he stayed two days and nights, incidentally obtaining all the
information possible as to the forces and the guard about the bridge.
Just before dawn on the second morning, he managed to give them the
slip and started across country, wading and swimming and toiling
through one swamp after another until he finally reached the river
bank, traveling only by night and sleeping by day. Along this bank he
went for miles until finally he found concealed in a little creek a
small rowboat which was tied to a tree and in which were two oars. He
spent the better part of the day in loading this up with pine knots and
bits of dry driftwood which he planned to use in firing the bridge.
Just at evening he pushed off into the middle of the river and started
again down for the bridge. He had found by his inquiries that the
Confederate camp was located on a bank some distance from the bridge,
as no one expected any attack there so far within the Confederate
lines. All night long he tugged at the oars and aided by the current
reached the bridge about three o'clock in the morning. The bridge was
an old-fashioned one erected on three piers. Pike made a careful survey
of the whole length of the bridge from the river and found it
absolutely unguarded although he could hear the sentry call on the hill
a quarter of a mile away where the troops were encamped by the town.
Concealing his skiff under an overhanging tree, he toiled up to the
bridge with armful after armful of fire-wood. At each end and in the
middle he made a little heap of fat-wood and pine knots with a strip of
birch-bark, which burns like oiled paper, underneath each. Starting
from the far end, he lit the first two piles and by the time he had
crossed and was working on the last, he could hear the flames roaring
behind him as they caught the dry weather-beaten planking of the
bridge. And now he made a mistake which was to prove well-nigh fatal to
him. As soon as the fire had obtained a headway, he should have
instantly stolen back up the river in his skiff. In his anxiety to make
a thorough job of it he stayed too long, forgetting that in the bright
light of the fire every motion he made would be plainly visible from
the hilltop. Suddenly he heard the alarm given from the camp and almost
instantly it was followed by the wail of a minie ball as the sentry
above fired down upon him. By this time the river was as bright as day
for a quarter of a mile on both sides of the bridge. Near the
Confederate camp were a number of boats and Pike was already nearly
exhausted by his long row and his work in firing the bridge. He heard
the shouts of men as they dashed down for their boats. If he attempted
to escape by water he was certain to be overtaken. Another bullet close
to his head decided him and he dashed down from the bridge into the
road, and plunged into the thick woods on the farther side. All the
rest of that night and through the first part of the next day he
traveled, following one path after another and keeping his general
direction by a pocket compass. By noon he was so tired that if it had
been to save his life he could not have gone any farther. The little
stock of provisions which he had carried with him had been exhausted
the night before and he threw himself on a bed of dry pine-needles
under a long-leafed pine which stood on the top of a little knoll and
lay there for nearly an hour until part of his strength came back. The
first thing to do was to find something to eat. Pike did not dare shoot
anything with his revolver, even if there had been anything to shoot,
for fear of attracting the attention of Confederate pursuers or
bushwhackers. It was now that the corporal's wood-craft proved to be as
valuable as his scout-craft. If he were to go further, he must have
food and he commenced to wander back and forth through the woods, his
quick eye taking in everything on the ground or among the trees. On the
other side of the knoll where he had been lying, he noticed a rotten
log where the dry, punky wood had been scattered as if a hen had been
scratching there. Pike commenced to look carefully all along the ground
and finally just on the edge of the slope where the thick underbrush
began, he nearly stepped on a large brown speckled bird so much the
color of the leaves that if he had not been looking for it, he never
would have discovered the nest. The bird slipped into the underbrush
like a shadow, leaving behind fifteen brown, mottled partridge eggs.
The corporal sat down over the nest and gulped down, one after the
other, those eggs, warm from the breast of the brooding bird. As he
said afterward, never had he tasted anything half so good. This was a
step in the right direction, but even fifteen partridge eggs are not
enough for a man who hadn't eaten for nearly thirty hours. Once again
he began to prowl restlessly through the woods and this time his
attention was attracted by something growing on the side of a dead
maple stub. It was dark red and looked like a great tongue sticking out
from the bark. To his great joy, Pike recognized it at once as the
beefsteak mushroom. It was a magnificent specimen which must have
weighed nearly two pounds and as he pulled it off from the tree, red
drops oozed out and it looked and smelled like a big, fresh beefsteak.
The corporal went down the hollow into the thickest part of the swamp
and there picked an armful of perfectly dry cedar and scrub-oak twigs
which burn with a clear, smokeless flame. Out of these he built a
little Indian cooking fire by arranging the twigs into the form of a
little tepee so that a jet of clear flame came up with hardly a sign of
any smoke. It was the work of only a moment to whittle and set up a
forked stick and to fasten a slab of that meaty-looking fungus on a
spit fixed in the fork. Fortunately he had left in his haversack a
little salt and pepper with which he seasoned the broiling, hissing
steak. In about ten minutes it was done to a turn. Cutting a long strip
of bark from off one of the red river-birches which grew near, Pike
squatted down on the ground and in fifteen minutes more there was
nothing left of that savory, two-pound, broiled vegetable steak. With
fifteen eggs and two pounds of beefsteak mushroom under his belt, the
corporal felt like another man. He coiled himself up on the dry
pine-needles in a little hollow which he found under the low-hanging
boughs of a long-leaf pine and resolved to take a sleep to make up for
what he had lost during the last two nights. It was early afternoon and
everything was still and hot and the drowsy scent of the pine mingled
with puffs of spicy fragrance from the great white blossoms of the
magnolia with which the woods were starred. As he fell asleep the last
thing the corporal heard was the drowsy call of flocks of golden-winged
warblers on their way north. How long he slept he could not tell. He
only knew that he awoke with a sudden consciousness of danger, that
strange sixth sense which most Indians and a few white hunters
sometimes develop. Perhaps he inherited it from old Zebulon Pike who,
like Daniel Boone and Kit Carson, had the power of hearing and sensing
the approach of an enemy even in their soundest sleep. The corporal was
alert the second he opened his eyes, but made not a movement or a
rustle. The sun was well down in the sky and there was nothing in
sight, but the birds had stopped singing. Finally way down through the
little tunnel which a near-by flowing stream had made through the
hillocks came a sound which brought him to his feet in an instant. It
was a ringing note that chimed like a distant bell. Three times it
sounded and there was silence, then again three times, but a little
nearer and louder, then again silence. A third time it came and this
time it seemed around the bend of the bayou not half a mile away. Pike
knew in a minute what it was. It was the bay of the dreaded
bloodhounds, those man-hunters who had learned to trail their prey
through forest and fen, no matter how much he doubled nor how fast he
ran. There was but one thing to do if there was time. Springing up, the
corporal ran down to the little stream and leaped in. It was hardly up
to his knees, but he splashed along for a hundred yards, now and then
plunging in up to his waist. It ran a hundred yards or so through the
swamp and then emptied into a larger bayou. Along this Pike swam for
his life as silently as a muskrat, for now he could hear the baying of
the dogs close at hand and suddenly there was a chorus of deep raging
barks followed by shouts and he knew that his pursuers had found his
lair under the pine trees. Soon the stream ran into another one and
then another until Pike had swam and waded and plunged through half a
score of brooks which made a regular network through the middle of the
swamp. By this time the sound of the dogs had died far away in the
distance and he had every reason to believe that he had thrown them off
the track. Down the last stream there was a deep, sluggish creek nearly
fifty feet wide. He swam until he could go no farther. It opened out
into a series of swampy meadows and to his joy he saw in the very midst
of the swamp through which it ran a pile of newly-split rails. Swimming
over to this he found that they had been piled on a little island about
five feet above the level of the swamp and surrounded on all sides by
masses of underbrush and deep sluggish water. By this time it was
nearly sunset and he resolved to crawl up here and find a dry place and
spend the night on this island, which could not be approached except by
boat. As he climbed up to the top of the mass of rails, he heard a low,
thick hiss close to his face and outstretched hand. He had never heard
the sound before, but no man born needs to be taught the voice of the
serpent. He started back just in time. Coiled on one of the rails was a
great cotton-mouth moccasin whose bloated swollen body must have been
nearly five feet in length and as big around as his arm. The great
creature slowly opened its mouth, showing the pure white lining which
has given it the name and hissed again menacingly. The corporal was in
a predicament. Behind him was the cold, dark river in which he no
longer had the strength to swim. In the approaching darkness, he might
not be able to find any other island of refuge on which to pass the
night. There was nothing for him but to fight the grim snake for the
possession of the rails. He dropped back and twisted off the thick
branch of a near-by willow-tree and began again to climb up toward the
snake cautiously, but as rapidly as possible, for the light was
beginning to die out in the sky and Pike preferred not to do his
fighting in the dark in this case if possible. As he reached the top of
the pile, the king of the island was ready for him and struck viciously
at him as he approached. The movable poison fangs protruded like
poisoned spear-heads from the wide-open mouth and from them could be
seen oozing the yellow drops of the fatal venom which makes the
cotton-mouth more dreaded even than the rattler or the copperhead. The
fatal head flashed out not six inches from Corporal Pike's face, but it
had miscalculated the distance and before it could again coil, he had
struck with all his might at the monstrous body just where it joined
the heart-shaped head. Fortunately for him, his aim was good and the
crippled snake writhed and hissed and struck in vain in a horrible mass
at Pike's feet. Two more blows made it harmless and inserting the stick
under the heavy body, the corporal heaved it far over into the water
and it floated away. Pike then made a careful examination of the rails
and the island on which he stood so as to make sure that the moccasin
had not left any of his family behind. He found no others, however, and
before it was dark the corporal moved the rails and piled them around
him in a kind of barricade which shut him off from view from the water
and shore and which he sincerely hoped would discourage the visits of
any more moccasins. Inside of this he laid three rails lengthwise and
wrung out his sodden coat and coiled up for the night on his hard bed.
He woke up surrounded by the gleaming mist of the early morning and
shaking with the cold after sleeping all night in his soaked clothing.
As he was too cold to sleep and it was light enough now to see, he
decided to start off for dry land again. For over two hours he swam and
waded along big and little bayous until, just as the sun was getting
up, he came out through the morass and found himself at the rear of a
lonely plantation. Just in front of him an old negro was at work hoeing
in a field. The corporal crept up near him through the bushes and
looked all around cautiously to see whether there were any white men in
sight. Seeing none, he decided to take a chance on the negro being
friendly.

"Hi, there, uncle!" he called cautiously from behind a little bush.

The old man jumped a foot in the air.

"That settles it," he observed emphatically to himself, "I'se gwine
home. This old nigger ain't gwine to work in any swamp whar he hears
hants callin' him 'uncle.'"

At this point the corporal came out of his hiding place and finally
managed to convince the old man that he was nothing worse than very
hungry flesh and blood. The old darkey turned out to be a friend indeed
and going to his cabin in less than fifteen minutes he was back with a
big pan full of bacon and corn bread which the corporal emptied in
record-breaking time. Moreover, he brought his son with him who
promised to guide Pike by safe paths to the road which led to
Huntsville where General Mitchel had located his headquarters. Hour
after hour the two wound in and out of swamps which would have been
impassable to any one who did not know the hidden trails which crossed
them. Twice they heard Confederate soldiers, evidently still hunting
for the Union soldier who had been making them so much trouble. Toward
noon they came to a broad bayou which went in and out through the
swamp. At one point where it approached the bend it became very narrow
and Pike's guide showed him a fallen tree half hidden in the brush.

"Cross that, boss," he said, "and at the other end you'll find a little
hard path. Follow that and you'll come out clear down on the Huntsville
road, only a few miles from the Union soldiers."

Pike said good-bye to his faithful guide and gave him one of the
numerous Confederate revolvers which he had captured on his trip as the
only payment he could make for his kindness.

The corporal found the path all right and was soon wearily trudging
along the Huntsville road. He had not gone far before he was overtaken
by another negro dressed in a style which would have made the lilies of
the field take to the woods. With his panama hat, red tie and checked
suit, he made a brave show. What impressed the corporal, however, more
than his clothes was the fact that he was driving a magnificent horse
attached to a brand-new buggy.

"Stop a minute," said Pike, stepping out into the road.

"No," said the negro, pompously, "I'se in a great hurry."

The corporal whipped out a revolver and cocked it.

"Come to think of it, Massa," said the darkey in quite a different
tone, "I'se got plenty of time after all."

"Whose horse is this?" said the corporal, climbing into the buggy.

"This is Mistah Pomeroy's property," said the negro with much dignity.

"Well," said the corporal, "you turn right around and drive me to
General Mitchel's camp just as fast as the law will let you."

"But, boss," objected the other, "Massa will whip me if I do."

"And I'll shoot you if you don't," returned the corporal.

This last argument was a convincing one and half an hour later General
Mitchel and his forces were enormously impressed by seeing Corporal
Pike, who had been reported shot, drive up back of a magnificent horse
in a new buggy and beside a wonderfully-dressed coachman. The general
was even more impressed when the corporal reported that the bridge was
gone and gave him an accurate statement as to the Confederate forces.

Corporal Pike found Mr. Pomeroy's horse a very good substitute for his
faithful Bill and, to his surprise, the coachman went with the horse,
since he was afraid to go back, and became a cook in General Mitchel's
mess.



CHAPTER XI

RUNNING THE GAUNTLET


In the old days of the Indian wars a favorite amusement of a raiding
party was to make their captives run the gauntlet. On their return home
two long lines of not only the warriors, but even of the women and
children would be formed armed with clubs, arrows, tomahawks and whips.
The unfortunate captive was stationed at one end of this aisle of
enemies and given the choice of being burned at the stake or of running
for his life between the lines from one end to the other. Sometimes a
swift runner and dodger escaped enough of the blows to stagger blinded
with blood from a score of wounds, but still alive, across the line
which marked the end of this grim race against death. It was always a
desperate chance. Only the certainty of death if it were not taken ever
caused any man to enter such a terrible competition. There is no record
of even the most hardened Indian fighter ever running the gauntlet for
any life save his own.

In the summer of 1863, three men ran the gauntlet of shot and shell and
rifle-fire for forty miles to save an army, with death dogging them all
the way. Brigadier-General Thomas, who afterward earned the title of
the Rock of Chickamauga by his brave stand in that disastrous battle,
was entrenched on one of the spurs of the hills around Chattanooga.
General Bragg with a much superior army of Confederates had hunted the
Union soldiers mile after mile. At times they had stopped and fought,
at times they had escaped by desperate marches. Now exhausted and
ringed about by the whole Confederate Army, they must soon have help or
be starved into surrender. Yet only forty miles to the eastward was a
body of thirty thousand men commanded by General Stockton. This general
was one of those valuable men who obey orders without any reasoning
about the why and the wherefore of the same. He had been commanded to
hold a certain pass in the mountains until further orders and that pass
he would hold, as General Thomas well knew, until relieved or directed
to do otherwise. If only the duty had been assigned to some other
officer, it might be that not hearing anything from the main body, he
would send out a reconnoitering party. Not so with General Stockton.
That general would stay put and only a direct order or an overpowering
force of the enemy would move him.

It was in vain that General Thomas tried to get a messenger through
with secret despatches in cipher. General Bragg knew that he had the
Union Army cornered and he had stationed a triple row of pickets who
caught or shot every man that General Thomas sent.

Supplies and ammunition were both running low and General Thomas was
considering massing a force of men on some point in the line in an
attempt to break through far enough for a messenger to escape. This
meant a great loss of life and probably would not be successful as the
messenger would almost certainly be captured by an outer ring of scouts
which Bragg would throw out as soon as he realized what was going on.
There was only one other chance. The Confederates were so sure of their
own strength, and that they would eventually capture the whole army,
that they had not destroyed the railroad line which ran between the two
Federal camps, hoping to use the same for shipping soldiers, prisoners
and captured supplies later on. Both sides of the track, however, were
lined with guards and covered by a number of Confederate batteries.
General Thomas decided to make the attempt and called for volunteers
who were willing to run this forty-mile gauntlet between the
Confederate lines and batteries. Two old railroad men offered their
services as engineer and fireman and they were accompanied by an
adjutant who was to be the bearer of the despatches. There seemed to be
only one chance in a thousand for this engine to get safely through and
the men themselves, if they were not shot in their flight or wrecked
with the engine, stood a good chance of being captured and hung as
spies. In fact it seemed such a hopeless chance that at the last moment
General Thomas was on the point of countermanding the order when one of
the men themselves gave the best argument in favor of the plan.

"It's worth trying, General," said he, "for even if we fail, you only
lose three men. The other way you would have to throw away at least a
thousand before you could find out whether it was possible to cut
through the lines or not."

It was decided to make the trial and a dark, moonless night when the
sky was covered with heavy clouds was selected as the best time for
starting. The men shook hands with their comrades and each left with
his best friend a letter to be sent to his family if he were not heard
from within a given time. There were but few engines in the Union ranks
and none of them were very good as the Confederates had captured the
most powerful. However, the ex-engineer and fireman picked out the one
which seemed to be in best repair, put in an extra supply of oil to
allow for the racking strain on the machinery and filled up the tender
with all the fuel that it could carry. At half-past ten they started
after firing up with the utmost care and in half a mile they were
running at full speed when suddenly there was the sharp crack of a
rifle and a minie bullet whined past the panting, jumping, rushing
engine. Another one crashed through the window of the caboose, but
fortunately struck no one. By this time the little engine was going at
her utmost speed. At times all four of the wheels seemed to leave the
track at once, she jumped so under the tremendous head of steam which
the fireman, working as he had never done before, had raised. The
engine swayed so from side to side as it ran that it was all that the
adjutant could do to keep his feet. Finally they reached the first
battery. Fortunately it had miscalculated the tremendous speed of the
engine. A series of guns stationed close to the track hurled a shower
of grape and solid shot at the escaping engine. It cut the framework of
the caboose almost to pieces, but fortunately not a shot struck any
vital part of the machinery or injured any of the three men. As they
whirled on, the last gun of all sent a solid shot after them which
struck the bell full and fair and with a last tremendous clang it was
dashed into the bushes by the side of the road. All along the track
there was a fusillade of musket-fire and bullets whizzed around them
constantly, but none struck any of the crew. The next danger-point was
at a junction with this road and another which ran off at right angles.
This junction was protected by no less than two batteries and
furthermore on the junction-track was an engine standing with smoke
coming out of her smoke-stack showing that she was fired up ready for
pursuit. It seemed absolutely impossible to escape these two batteries.
Already they could see lanterns hurrying to and fro on both sides of
the track where the guns were trained so close that they simply could
not fail to dash the engine into a hissing, bloody, glowing scrap-heap
of crumpled steel and iron. The men set their teeth and prepared for
the crash which every one of them felt meant death. It never came. By
some oversight, no alarm had been given and before the guns could be
manned and sighted, the engine was whirling along right between both
batteries, a cloud of sparks and a column of fire rushing two feet
above her smokestack. The Confederates succeeded in only turning one
gun and training it on the little engine fast disappearing in the
darkness. The gunner, however, who fired that gun came nearer putting
an end to the expedition than all the others. He dropped a shell in the
air directly over them. It shattered the roof of the caboose, wounded
the fireman and blew out both windows, but almost by a miracle left the
machinery still uninjured. The adjutant laid the fireman on the
jumping, bounding floor of the cab and under his faint instructions
fired the engine in his place. As he was heaping coal into the open
fire-box with all his might, there came a deep groan from the wounded
fireman.

"Try and bear the pain, old man," shouted the engineer over the roar of
the engine. "We'll be safe in a few minutes if nothing happens."

"Something's goin' to happen," gasped the fireman. "Listen!"

Far back over the track came a pounding and a pushing. The engineer
shook his head.

"They're after us," he said to the adjutant, "and what's more they're
bound to get us unless we can throw them off the track."

"Can't we win through with this start?" said the captain.

"No, sir," said the engineer, "they've got an engine that can do ten
miles an hour better than this one and beside that, they've got a car
to steady her. I don't dare give this old girl one ounce more of steam
or she'd jump the tracks."

Before long far back around the curve came the head-light of the
pursuing engine like the fierce eye of some insatiable monster on the
track of its prey. Steadily she gained. Once when they approached the
long trestlework which ran for nearly a mile, the sound of the pursuit
slackened off as the lighter engine took the trestle at a speed which
the heavier one did not dare to use. Bullet after bullet whizzed past
the escaping engine as the soldiers in the cab of her pursuer fired
again and again. Both engines, however, were swaying too much to allow
for any certain aim. Finally one lucky shot smashed the clock in the
front engine close by the engineer's head, spraying glass and splinters
all over him. Now the front engine had only ten miles to go before she
would be near enough to General Stockton's lines to be in safety. The
rear engine, however, was less than a quarter of a mile away and
gaining at every yard.

"How about dropping some of the fire-bars on the tracks?" suggested the
captain. "We've got enough coal on to carry her the next ten miles. We
shan't need the fire-bars after we get through and we certainly won't
need them if they capture us."

It seemed a good idea and the wounded fireman dragged himself to the
throttle and took the engineer's place for a moment while he and the
captain climbed out upon the truck and carefully dropped one after the
other of the long, heavy steel rods across the track. Then they
listened, hoping to hear the crash of a derailed engine. It never came.
Instead there was a loud clanging noise followed by a crackling of the
underbrush and repeated again as the pursuing engine struck each bar
with its cow-catcher and dashed it off the rails. The captain suddenly
commenced to unbutton and tear off his long, heavy army overcoat.

"How about putting this in the middle of the track on the chance that
it may entangle the wheels?" he suggested.

In a minute the engineer clambered out on the truck.

"If only it gets wedged in the piston-bar, it may take half an hour to
get it out," he panted as he climbed back into the cab.

Suddenly from behind they heard a heavy jolting noise and then the
sound of escaping steam.

"We got her," shouted the engineer and the captain to the wounded
fireman whose face looked ghastly white against the red light of the
open fire-box. The engineer and the captain shook hands and decided to
do a little war-dance without much success on the swaying floor of the
cab, but they were suddenly stopped by a whisper from the fireman.

"They've got it out," he said. Sure enough once more there came the
thunder of approaching wheels and the start which they had gained was
soon cut down again. The heavy engine came more and more rapidly on
them as the fire died down, although the captain tried to stir up the
flagging flames with his sword in place of the lost fire-iron. Only a
mile ahead they could see the lights which showed where the Union lines
lay. Before them was a heavy up-grade and it was certain that the
Confederate engine would catch them there just on the edge of safety.
In a minute or so the men crowded into the cab of the engine behind to
be close enough to pick off the fugitives at their leisure. The three
men stared blankly ahead. Suddenly the dull, despairing look on the
engineer's face was replaced by a broad grin. Entirely forgetting
military etiquette, he slapped his superior officer on the back and
said:

"Captain, come out to the tender with me and I'll show you a stunt that
will save our lives if you will do just what I tell you."

The captain obeyed meekly while the wounded fireman stared at his
friend under the impression that he was losing his mind under the
strain. The engineer took one of the large oil-cans with a long nozzle
and then wrapping his two brawny arms tightly around the captain's
waist, lowered him as far as he could from the tender and directed him
to pour the oil directly on each rail without wasting a drop or
allowing a foot to go unoiled. It was hard in the dark to see the rail
or to keep one's balance on the bounding engine, but the captain was a
light weight and the engineer let him down as far back from the tender
as he dared and held him there until one rail was thoroughly oiled. He
repeated the operation on the other side and the two once more came
back to the fireman who was clinging limply to the throttle.

"Now," said the engineer, "keep your eye open and you'll see some fun."

The front engine puffed more and more slowly up the grade and the
pursuing engine seemed to gain on them at every yard. Already the men
in the cab were commencing to aim their rifles for the last fatal
volley. At this moment the front wheels of the pursuing engine reached
the oiled track and in a minute her speed slackened, the wheels whirled
round and round at a tremendous speed and there was a sudden rush and
hiss of escaping steam. The engine in front suddenly drew away from her
anchored pursuer. The engineer took a last long look at them through
his field-glasses.

"It seems to me, captain," said he, "as if they are cussin'
considerable. Her old wheels are spinnin' like a squirrel-cage."

The engine dashed on more and more slowly, but there was no need for
haste. In a few minutes a shot was fired in front of them and a sentry
shouted for them to halt. They were within the picket lines of the
Union Army. The engine was stopped and the three men staggered out
holding tightly the precious dispatches which they carried in
triplicate and in a few minutes more they were in the presence of
General Stockton. A force was at once sent out and the Confederates and
their locomotive were captured and within an hour thirty thousand men
were on their way to relieve the beset Union forces.

The gauntlet had been run and General Thomas' army was saved.



CHAPTER XII

FORGOTTEN HEROES


"There was a little city and few men within it and there came a great
king against it and besieged it and built great bulwarks against it.
Now there was found in it a poor wise man and he by his wisdom
delivered the city, yet no man remembered that same poor man." Thus
wrote the great Solomon, hearing of a deed, the tale of which had come
down through the centuries. The doer of the deed had been long
forgotten.

History is full of memories of brave deeds. The names of the men who
did them have passed away. The deeds live on forever. Like a fleck of
radium each deed is indestructible. It may be covered with the dust and
débris of uncounted years, but from it pulsates and streams forever a
current of example and impulse which never can be hidden, never be
forgotten, but which may flash out ages later, fighting with a
mysterious, hidden inner strength against the powers of fear and of
wrong.

The annals of the Civil War are full of records of forgotten doers of
great deeds, humble, commonplace men and women who suddenly flashed out
in some great effort of duty and perhaps were never heard of again.
Pray God that all of us when the time comes may burst if only for a
moment into the fruition of accomplishment for which we were born and
not wither away like the unprofitable fig-tree which only grew, but
never bore fruit.

In 1862, the battle-hospitals were crowded with wounded and dying men.
The best surgeons of that day had not learned what every doctor knows
now about the aseptic treatment of wounds and conducting of operations.
Accordingly too often even slight wounds gangrened and a terrible
percentage of injured men died helplessly and hopelessly. In the fall
of that year the hospitals at Jefferson were in a fearful condition.
Thousands and thousands of wounded and dying men were brought there for
whom there were no beds. One poor fellow lay on the bare, wet boards,
sick of a wasting fever. He was worn almost to a skeleton and on his
poor, thin body were festering bed-sores which had come because there
was no one who could give him proper attention. From his side he had
seen five men one after the other brought in sick or wounded and
carried away dead. One day an old black washerwoman named Hannah
stopped in the ward to hunt up a doctor for whom she was to do some
work. She saw this patient lying on his side on a dirty blanket spread
out on the boards unwashed and filthy beyond all description with
gaping sores showing on his wasted back. There he lay staring
hopelessly at the body of a man who had recently died next to him and
which the few overworked attendants had not had time to carry out to
the dead-house. Old Hannah could not stand the sight. When she finally
found the doctor she begged him to give her leave to take the man up
and put him in her own bed.

"It's no use, Hannah," said the doctor kindly, "the poor chap is dying.
He will be gone to-morrow. I wish we could do something for him, but we
can't and you can't."

Hannah could not sleep that night thinking of the sick man. Bright and
early the next morning she came down and found him still alive. That
settled it in her mind. Without asking any one's permission, she went
out, looked up her two strapping sons and made them leave their work
and bring her bed down to the hospital. It was covered with coarse but
clean linen sheets and she directed them while they lifted the sufferer
on to the bed and carried him down to her shanty. There she cut away
the filthy shirt which he wore and washed him like a baby with hot
water. Then she settled down to nurse him back to life. Every half
hour, night and day, she fed him spoonfuls of hot, nourishing soup.
That and warm water and clean linen were the only medicines she used.
For a week she did nothing else but nurse her soldier. Several times he
sank and once she thought him dead, but he always rallied and
single-handed old Hannah fought back death and slowly nursed him back
to health. Finally when he was well, he was given a furlough to go back
to his home in Indiana. He tried to persuade Hannah to go back with
him.

"No, honey," she said, "I'se got my washing to do and besides I'm goin'
to try to adopt some more soldiers."

She went with him to the steamboat, fixed him in a deck chair, as he
was still too feeble to walk, and kissed him good-bye and when she left
the man broke down and cried. Old Hannah went back to her shanty and
did the same thing again and again until she had nursed back to life no
less than six Union soldiers. As she was not in active service, the
government never recognized her work and even her last name was never
known, but six men and their families and their friends have handed
down the story of what a poor, old, black washerwoman could and did do
for her country and for the sick and helpless.

The exploit of Lieutenant Blodgett and his orderly, Peter Basnett, was
a brave deed of another kind. He had been sent by General Schofield
during the engagement at Newtonia with orders to the colonel of the
Fourth Missouri Cavalry. As the two rode around a point of woods, they
suddenly found themselves facing forty Confederate soldiers drawn up in
an irregular line not fifty yards away. There was no chance of escape,
as they would be riddled with bullets at such a short range. Moreover
neither the lieutenant nor his orderly thought well of surrendering.
Without an instant's hesitation they at once drew their revolvers and
charging down upon the Confederates, shouted in loud, though rather
shaky voices, "Surrender! Drop your arms! Surrender at once!" The line
wavered, feeling that two men would not have the audacity to charge
them unless they were followed by an overwhelming force. As they came
right up to the lines, eight of the men in front threw down their
muskets. The rest hesitated a minute and then turned and broke for the
woods and the lieutenant and his orderly rode on and delivered eight
prisoners along with their orders.

In the battle of Rappahannock Station, Colonel Edwards of the Fifth
Maine showed the same nerve under similar circumstances. While his
regiment were busy taking a whole brigade of captured Confederates to
the rear, the colonel with a dozen of his men rode out into the
darkness after more prisoners. Following the line of fortifications
down toward the river, he suddenly came out in front of a long line of
Confederate troops lying entrenched in rifle-pits. Like Lieutenant
Blodgett, he decided to make a brave bluff rather than be shot down or
spend weary years in a Confederate prison. Riding directly up to the
nearest rifle-pit where a score of guns were leveled at him, he
inquired for the officer who was in command of the Confederate forces.

"I command here," said the Confederate colonel, rising from the middle
pit, "and who are you, sir?"

"My name is Colonel Edwards of the Fifth Maine, U.S.A.," replied the
other, "and I call upon you to surrender your command at once."

The Confederate colonel hesitated.

"Let me confer with my officers first," he said.

"No, sir," said Colonel Edwards, "I can't give you a minute. Your
forces on the right have been captured, your retreat is cut off and
unless you surrender at once, I shall be compelled to order my
regiment," pointing impressively to the whole horizon, "to attack you
without further delay. I don't wish to cause any more loss of life than
possible."

The Confederate colonel was convinced by his impressive actions and
that there would be no use to resist.

"I hope you will let me keep my sword, however," he said.

"Certainly," said Colonel Edwards, generously, "you can keep your
sword, but your men must lay down their arms and pass to the rear
immediately."

The whole brigade including a squad of the famous Louisiana Tigers were
disarmed and marched to the rear as prisoners of war by Colonel Edwards
and his twelve men. One of these men said afterward, "Colonel, I nearly
lost that battle for you by laughing when you spoke about their
'surrendering to avoid loss of life.'"

The most terrible missile in modern warfare is the explosive shell.
Records show that the greatest loss of life occurs from artillery fire
and not from rifle bullets. In the Civil War these shells were
especially feared. The solid shot and the grape and the canister were
bad enough, but when a great, smoking shell dropped into the midst of a
regiment, the bravest men fled for shelter. The fuses were cut so that
the shell would explode immediately on striking or a very few seconds
afterward. The explosion would drive jagged fragments of iron and
sometimes heated bullets through scores of men within a radius of fully
one hundred yards. No wounds were more feared or more fatal than the
ghastly rips and tears made by the jagged, red-hot fragments of shells.
The men became used to the hiss and the whistle of the solid shot and
the whirling bullets, but when the scream of the hollow shell was heard
through the air overhead, like the yell of some great, fatal, flying
monster, every man within hearing tried to get under shelter.

In 1864, the 101st Ohio Infantry were fighting at Buzzards Roost,
Georgia. Company H was drawn up along the banks of the stream there and
one of the Confederate batteries had just got its range. Suddenly there
came across the woods the long, fierce, wailing scream of one of the
great shells and before the echo had died out it appeared over the tree
tops and fell right in the midst of a hundred men, hissing and spitting
fire. All the men but one scattered in every direction. Private Jacob
F. Yaeger was on the edge of the group and could have secured his own
safety by dodging behind a large tree which stood conveniently near.
Just as he was about to do this he saw that some of the men had not had
time enough to get away and were just scrambling up only a few feet
from the spluttering shell. He acted on one of those quick, brave
impulses which make heroes of men. Like a flash, he sprinted across the
field, tearing off his coat as he ran, wrapped it round the hissing,
hot shell and started for the creek, clasping it tight against his
breast. By this time the fuse had burned so far in that there was no
opportunity to cut it below the spark. His only chance was to get it
into the water before the spark reached the powder below. He reached
the bank of the creek in about two jumps, but, as he said afterward, he
seemed to hang in the air a half hour between each jump. Even as he
reached the bank, he hurled the shell, coat and all, into the deep,
sluggish water and involuntarily ducked for the explosion which he was
sure was going to come. It didn't. The water stopped the spark just in
time and Private Yaeger had saved the lives of many of his comrades.

Of all the prizes which are most valued in war the captured
battle-flags of an enemy rank first. The flag is the symbol of an
army's life. While it waves the army is living and undefeated. When the
flag falls, or when it is captured, all is over. In battle the men
rally around their colors and the flag stands for life or death. It
must never be given up and the one who carries the flag has not only
the most honorable but the most dangerous post in his company. Against
the flag every charge is directed. The man who carries the flag knows
that he is marked above all others for attack. The man who saves a flag
from capture saves his company or his regiment not only from defeat,
but from disgrace.

In the battle of Gettysburg, Corporal Nathaniel M. Allen of the First
Massachusetts Infantry was the color-bearer of his company. On the 2d
of July his regiment had been beaten back under the tremendous attacks
of the Confederate forces. Their retreat became almost a rout as the
men ran to escape the murderous fire which was being poured in upon
them by concealed batteries of the enemy as well as from the muskets of
the advancing infantry. Corporal Allen stayed back in the rear and
retreated slowly and reluctantly so as to give his company a chance to
return and rally. Beyond and still farther back than he, marching
grimly and doggedly from the enemy, was the color-bearer of his
regiment carrying the regimental flag. Suddenly Allen saw him falter,
stop, fling up his arms and fall headlong on the field tangled up in
the flag which he was carrying. There came a tremendous yell from the
advancing Confederate forces as they saw the flag go down. Allen
stopped and for a moment hesitated. It was only his duty to carry and
wave his own colors, but at that moment he saw a squad of gray-backs
start out from the advancing Confederate forces and make a rush to
capture the flag which lay flat and motionless in a widening pool of
the color-bearer's blood. This was too much for Allen. With a yell of
defiance he rushed back, heedless of the bullets which hissed all
around him, and rolling over the dead body of the man who had given his
life for his colors he pulled the regimental flag from under his body,
and started back for the distant Union forces. By this time the
Confederates were close upon him, but his brave deed had not gone
unnoticed. Seeing him coming across the stricken field with a flag in
either hand, the rear-guard of his regiment turned back with a cheer
and poured in a volley into the approaching Confederates which stopped
them just long enough to let Allen escape and to carry back both the
colors.

"What's the matter with you fellows anyway," said Allen, as he reached
the safety of the rear rank; "do you think I'm going to do all the
fighting?"

A storm of cheers and laughter greeted this remark and the rear-guard
stopped. Slowly the others, hearing the cheers, and stranger still, the
laughing, came back to the colors and in a few minutes the line was
again formed and this time the regiment held and drove back the attack
of the Confederates. One man by doing more than his duty had changed a
defeat into a victory.

Sometimes in a battle a man becomes an involuntary hero. In some of
Sienkiwictz's war-novels, he has a character named Zagloba who was
constantly doing brave deeds in spite of himself. In one battle he
became caught in a charge and while struggling desperately to get out,
he tripped and fell on top of the standard-bearer of the other army who
had just been killed. Zagloba found himself caught and entangled in the
banner and finally, as the battle swept on, he emerged from the place
in safety carrying the standard of the enemy and from that day forward
was held as one of the heroes of the army.

At the battle of Chancellorsville Major Clifford Thompson at Hazel
Grove became an involuntary hero and did a much braver deed than he had
intended, although, unlike Zagloba, he had shown no lack of courage
throughout the battle. General Pleasonton was forming a line of battle
along the edge of the woods and was riding from gun to gun inspecting
the line when suddenly not two hundred yards distant a body of men
appeared marching toward them. He was about to give the order to fire
when a sergeant called out to him:

"Wait, General, I can see our colors in the line."

The General hesitated a moment and then turning said, "Major Thompson,
ride out and see who those people are and come back and tell me."

As the major said afterward, he had absolutely no curiosity personally
to find out anything about them and was perfectly willing to let them
introduce themselves, but an order is an order, and he accordingly rode
directly toward the approaching men. He could plainly see that they had
Union colors, but could see no trace of any Union uniforms. When he was
only about forty yards distant, the whole line called out to him:

"Come on in, we're friends; don't be afraid."

The major, however, had heard of too many men being made prisoners by
pretended friends and accordingly rode along the front of the whole
line in order to determine definitely the character of the approaching
forces, fearing that the colors which he saw and which they kept waving
toward him might have been Union colors captured from the Union forces
the day before. Seeing that he did not come closer, one of the front
rank suddenly fired directly at him and then with a tremendous Rebel
yell the whole body charged down upon the Union forces. Thompson turned
his horse to dash back to his own lines, but realized that, caught
between two fires, he would evidently be shot either by his own troops
or by the Rebels behind him. Dashing his spurs into his horse, he rode
like the wind between the two lines, hoping to get past them both
before the final volley came. Fortunately for him both sides reserved
their fire until they came to close quarters although he received a
fusillade of scattered shots all along the line. Just as he rounded the
ends, the lines came together with a crash and simultaneous volleys of
musketry. There were a few moments of hand-to-hand fighting, but the
Union forces were too strong and the Confederate ranks broke and
retreated in scattering groups to the shelter of the woods beyond. The
major reached the rear of his own lines just in time to help drive back
the last rush of the Confederates. A few moments later he saw General
Pleasonton sitting on his horse nearly in the same place where he had
been when he had first sent him on his errand. Riding up to him, Major
Thompson saluted.

"General," he said, "those men were Confederates."

"I strongly suspected it," said the General, "but, Major, I never
expected to see you again, for when that charge came I figured out that
if the Rebs didn't shoot you, we would. You did a very brave thing
reconnoitering the enemies' front like that."

"Well," said the major, "I am glad, General, that it impressed you that
way. It was such a rapid reconnoiter that I was afraid that you might
think it was a retreat."


When Henry C. Foster, who afterward became famous as one of the heroes
of Vicksburg, joined the Union Army, he was the rawest recruit in his
regiment. His messmates still tell the story of how, before the
regiment marched, he was visited by his mother who brought him an
umbrella and a bottle of pennyroyal for use in wet weather and was
horrified to find that soldiers are not allowed to carry umbrellas.
Henry was impatient of the constant and never-ending drilling to which
he was subjected. One day after a trying hour of setting-up exercises,
he suddenly grounded his gun and said engagingly to the captain:

"Say, Captain, let's stop this foolishness and go over to the grocery
store and have a little game of cards."

The captain stared at Foster for nearly a minute before he could get
his breath, then he turned to a grinning sergeant and said:

"Sergeant, you take charge of this young cabbage-head after the regular
drilling is over and drill him like blazes for about three extra
hours," which the sergeant accordingly did.

In spite of his greenness and his peculiarities, however, Henry had
good stuff in him and the making of a brave soldier. He was known as a
dead-shot and a good soldier, although still retaining some of his
peculiarities. Among others he insisted upon wearing a coonskin cap and
was known throughout his company as "Old Coonskin." He soon showed such
qualities of courage and self-reliance that in spite of his early
record he was gradually promoted until by the time his regiment reached
Vicksburg, which the Union Army was then besieging, he was a second
lieutenant. The siege of Vicksburg was a long and tedious affair. The
investing forces did not have sufficient artillery to make such a
breach in the defenses of the Confederates that a successful attack
could be made. The besiegers out in the wet and mud wearied of the slow
process under which the encircling lines were brought closer and closer
and longed for more active operations. Lieutenant Foster especially,
just as formerly he had protested against the interminable drilling,
now chafed against the enforced inaction of the troops. Finally he made
up his mind that he at least would get some interest out of the siege.
As one of the best shots in his regiment, he had no difficulty in being
detailed for sharp-shooting duty. One dark night, loaded with
ammunition and with a haversack of provisions and several canteens of
water, he crawled out into the space between the Union lines and the
defender's ramparts. The next morning, to his comrades' intense
surprise, they found that Old Coonskin had dug for himself a deep
burrow like a woodchuck close to the enemy's defenses and had thrown up
a little mound with a peep-hole. There he lay for three days picking
off the Confederates and scoring each successful shot with a notch on
the butt of the long rifle which he had obtained especial permission to
use. At first the Confederates could not locate the direction from
which the fatal shots kept coming. When they did discover Foster in his
burrow, volley after volley was directed at his refuge, but he kept too
close to be hit and at regular intervals men who showed themselves on
the ramparts were kept dropping before his unerring fire. At the end of
the third day, the Confederates had learned their lesson and there were
no more shots to be had and once more Old Coonskin began to be bored.
It finally occurred to him that if he could in any way gain possession
of a height which would allow him to shoot over the ramparts, he could
make the Confederate position very uncomfortable. There was no tree or
hill, however, near by which would lend itself to any such idea.
Accordingly the third night Foster crawled back again to his regiment
and spent a day in resting and reconnoitering and receiving the
congratulations of the whole regiment for his marksmanship and daring.
The next night was dark and stormy. At daylight the sentries inside the
city were amazed to see a rude structure standing close beside the
fatal burrow. It was in the form of a log-cabin hastily built out of
railroad ties and reinforced with heavy railroad iron and containing
peep-holes so that its occupant could shoot with entire safety. At
first it did not seem to be any more dangerous than the burrow had been
so long as the besieged kept off the breastwork. By the second day,
however, it had grown visibly higher and the third night found it built
up by slow degrees so that it began to look really like a low tower.
Finally it reached such a height that from an upper inside shelf,
protected by heavy logs and planks, Old Coonskin could lie at his ease
and overlook all of the operations inside the city. Then began a reign
of terror for the besieged. They had no artillery and it was necessary
to concentrate an incessant fire on the tower, otherwise the
sharp-shooter within could pick off his men without difficulty. It was
absolutely impossible for the besieged to keep under cover and still
properly man the defenses against an attack. One by one the officers
went down before Old Coonskin's deadly fire and it seemed to be only a
question of time and ammunition before the whole garrison succumbed to
his marksmanship. In the meantime, the besieging lines drew closer and
closer and the never-ceasing artillery fire and incessant attacks
gradually wore down the courage and the resources of the besieged. One
day within an hour eleven men went down before the deadly aim of Old
Coonskin, most of them officers. Suddenly the firing ceased from the
ramparts and slowly and reluctantly a white flag was hoisted, followed
shortly by an envoy to the Union lines with a flag of truce. A
tremendous cheer went up through the weary Union lines. Vicksburg had
fallen, and to this day you never will be able to convince Old
Coonskin's company that he was not the man who, along with Grant,
brought about its surrender.



CHAPTER XIII

THE THREE HUNDRED WHO SAVED AN ARMY


Twenty-three hundred and fifty years ago, three hundred men beat back
an army of three millions of the Great King, as the King of Persia was
rightly called. The kingdom of Xerxes, who then ruled over Persia,
stretched from India to the Ægean Sea and from the Caspian to the Red
Sea. He reigned over Chaldean, Jew, Phoenician, Egyptian, Arab,
Ethiopian and half a hundred other nations. From these he assembled an
army, the greatest that has ever gone to war. This mass of men from all
over the Eastern world he hurled at the tiny free states in Greece. It
was as if the Czar of all the Russias with his vast armies from Europe
and Asia should suddenly attack the state of Connecticut.

Greece's best defense was the ring of rugged mountains which surrounded
its seacoast. The Persian army had gathered at Sardis. From there to
gain entrance into Greece they must follow a narrow path close to the
seashore with a precipice on one side and impassable morasses and
quicksands on the other. Beyond this the way widened out into a little
plain and narrowed again at the other end. It was an ideal place to be
held by a small army of brave men. A Council of all the states of
Greece was held at the Isthmus of Corinth. There all the states except
one resolved to fight to the death for their freedom. Thessaly alone,
which lay first in the path of the Great King, sent earth and water to
his envoys who had come to all the states in Greece to demand
submission. The Council sent to guard this pass, which was named
Thermopylæ, a little army of four thousand men. It was commanded by
Leonidas, one of the two kings of Sparta, who led a little band of
three hundred Spartans who had sworn never to retreat. Before they left
Sparta, each man celebrated his own funeral rites. This little army
built a wall across the pass and camped there waiting for the enemy.
Before long they were seen coming, covering the whole country with army
after army until the plain below the pass was filled as far as the eye
could see with hordes of marching, shouting warriors. High on the
mountainside a throne had been built for Xerxes where he could see and
watch his armies sweep through the little force which stood in their
way. His great nobles waited for the chance to display before him their
leadership and the splendid equipment and discipline of the armies
which they led. The first attack was made by an army of the Persians
and Medes themselves, supported by archers and slingers and flanked
with cohorts of magnificently appareled horsemen mounted on Arab
steeds. With a wild crash of barbaric music they rushed to the charge
expecting by mere weight of numbers to break through the thin line of
men who manned the little wall across the path, but the slave regiments
of the Persians were made up of men who were trained under the lash.
They were officered by great nobles who had led self-indulgent lives of
luxury and pleasure. Against them was a band of free men, every one an
athlete and able to use weapons which the lighter and weaker Persians
could not withstand. The onslaught broke on the spears and long swords
of the Spartan warriors and in a minute there was a huddle of beaten,
screaming men and plunging horses and demoralized officers. Into the
broken and defeated ranks plunged the Greeks and drove them far down
the plain, returning in safety to their ramparts with the loss of
hardly a man. Again and again this happened and regiment after regiment
from the inexhaustible forces of the Persians were hurled against the
wall only to be dashed backward and driven defeated down the plain by
the impenetrable line of heavy-armed Greeks. Three times did Xerxes the
Great King leap from his throne in rage and despair as he saw his best
troops slaughtered and defeated by this tiny band of fighters. For two
days this went on until the plain in front of the wall was covered with
dead and dying Persians and mercenaries while the Greeks had hardly any
losses.

Baffled and dispirited Xerxes was actually on the point of leading back
his great army when a traitor, for a great sum of gold, betrayed a
secret path up the mountainside. It was none other than the bottom of a
mountain torrent through the shallow water of which men could wade and
find a way which would lead them safely around to the rear of the
Grecian army. On the early morning of the third day word was brought to
Leonidas that the enemy had gained the heights above and that by noon
they would leave the plain and entirely encircle the little Grecian
army. A hasty council of war was called. All of the allied forces
except the Spartans agreed that the position could not be held further
and advised an honorable retreat. The Spartan band alone refused to go,
although Leonidas tried to save two of his kinsmen by giving them
letters and messages to Sparta. One of them answered that he had come
to fight and not to carry letters and the other that his deeds would
tell all that Sparta needed to know. Another one named Dienices, when
told that the enemy's archers were so numerous that their arrows
darkened the sun, replied, "So much the better, for we shall fight in
the shade."

The little band took a farewell of their comrades and watched them
march away and then without waiting to be attacked, this tiny body of
three hundred men marched out from behind their ramparts and attacked a
force nearly ten thousand times their own number. Right through the
slave-ranks they broke and fought their way to a little hillock where
back to back they defended themselves against the whole vast army of
the Persians. Again and again waves of men dashed up from all sides
against this little hill, but only to fall back leaving their dead
behind. At last the spears of the Spartans broke and they fought until
their swords were dulled and dashed out of their hands. Then they
fought on with their daggers, with their hands and their teeth until
not one living man was left, but only a mound of slain, bristled over
with arrows and surrounded by ring after ring of dead Persians, Medes,
Arabs, Ethiopians and the other mercenaries which had been dashed
against them. So died Leonidas and his band of heroes. Nearly ten
thousand of the Persian army lay dead around them during the three days
of hand-to-hand fighting. By their death they had gained time for the
armies of the Grecian states to organize and, best of all, they had
taught Persian and Greek alike that brave men cannot be beaten down by
mere numbers.

Leonidas and his band are drifting dust. The stone lion and the pillar
with the names of those that died that marked the battle-mound have
crumbled and passed away long centuries ago. Even the blood-stained
Pass itself has gone and the sea has drawn back many miles and there is
no longer the morass, the path or the precipice.

After the passage of more than twoscore centuries in a new world of
which Leonidas never dreamed, in another great war between freedom and
slavery, this same great deed was wrought again by another three
hundred men who laid down their lives to hold back an enemy and dying
saved an army and perhaps a nation. Their story might almost be the
old, old hero story of the lost Spartan band.

The great Civil War was in its third year. Disaster after disaster had
overtaken the Union armies. English writers were already chronicling
The Decline and Fall of the American Republic. It was a time of
darkness and peril. The great leaders who were afterward to win great
victories had not yet arrived. Under McClellan nothing had been
accomplished. At the first trial Burnside failed at the terrible battle
of Fredericksburg where nearly thirteen thousand Union soldiers--the
flower of the army--died for naught. There was another shift and
"Fighting Joe Hooker" took command of the Army of the Potomac. Through
continuous defeats, the great army had become disheartened and the men
were sullen and discouraged. It was a time of shameful desertions. The
express trains to the army were filled with packages of citizens'
clothes which parents and wives and brothers and sisters were sending
to their kindred to help them desert from the army. Hooker changed all
this. He was brave, energetic and full of life and before long the
soldiers were again ready and anxious to fight. Unfortunately, their
general, in spite of his many good qualities, did not have those which
would make him the leader of a successful army. He was vain, boastful
and easily overcome and confused by any unexpected check or defeat.
Encamped on the Rappahannock River he had one hundred and thirty
thousand men against the sixty thousand of the Confederate forces on
the other side. These sixty thousand, however, included Robert E. Lee,
the great son of a great father, as their general. "Light-Horse Harry
Lee," his father, had been one of the great cavalry commanders of the
Revolution and one of Washington's most trusted generals. With Robert
E. Lee was Stonewall Jackson, the great flanker who has never been
equaled in daring, rapid, decisive, brilliant flanking, turning
movements which so often are what decide great battles. Hooker decided
to fight. By the night of April 30, 1863, no less than four army corps
crossed the river in safety and were assembled at the little village of
Chancellorsville under his command. His confidence was shown in the
boastful order which he issued just before the battle.

"The operations of the last three days," he declared, "have determined
that our enemy must either ingloriously fly or come out from behind his
defenses and give us battle on our own ground where certain destruction
awaits him."

Well might it have been said to him as to another boaster in the days
of old, "Let not him that girdeth on his armor boast as him that taketh
it off."

The morning of the battle came and Hooker said to his generals that he
had the Confederates where God Almighty Himself could not save them. At
first Lee retreated before his advance, but when he had reached a
favorable position, suddenly turned and drove back the Union forces
with such energy that Hooker lost heart and ordered his men to fall
back to a better position. This was done against the protests of all of
his division commanders who felt as did Meade, afterward the hero of
Gettysburg, who exclaimed to General Hooker, "If we can't hold the top
of a hill, we certainly can't hold the bottom of it."

[Illustration: In the Woods Near Chancellorsville]

Hooker took a position in the Wilderness, a tangled forest mixed with
impenetrable thickets of dwarf oak and underbrush. Here he hoped that
Lee would make a direct attack, but this pause gave the great
Confederate general the one chance which he wanted. All that night
Jackson with thirty thousand men marched half-way round the Union Army.
Again and again word was sent to Hooker that the Confederate forces
were marching toward his flank, but he could see in the movement
nothing but a retreat and sent word that they were withdrawing so as to
save their baggage trains. At three o'clock the next afternoon Jackson
was at last in position. In front of Hooker's army lay the main forces
of Lee. Half-way to the rear of his forces were Jackson's magnificent
veterans. The first warning of the fatal attack which nearly caused the
loss of the great Union Army of the Potomac came from the wild rush of
deer and rabbits which had been driven from their lairs by the quick
march of the Confederate soldiers through the forest. Following the
charge of the frightened animals came the tremendous attack of
Jackson's infantry, the toughest, hardiest, bravest, best-trained
troops in the Confederate Army. The Union soldiers fought well, but
they were new troops taken by surprise and as soon as the roar of the
volleys of the attacking Confederates sounded from the rear, Lee
advanced, with every man in his army and smashed into Hooker's front.
The surprise and the shock of possible defeat instead of expected
victory was too much for a man of Hooker's temperament. At the time
when he most needed a clear mind and unflinching nerve, he fell into a
state of almost complete nervous collapse. The battle was practically
fought without a leader, every corps commander did the best he could,
but in a short time the converging attacks of the two great Confederate
leaders cut the army in two and defeat was certain. At this time came
the greatest loss which the Confederate Army had received up to that
day. Stonewall Jackson's men had charged through the forest and cut
deeply into the flank of the Union Army. After their charge the
Confederate front was in confusion owing to the thick and tangled woods
in which they fought. Jackson had ridden forward beyond his troops in
order to reform them. The fleeing Union soldiers rallied for a minute
and fired a volley at the little party which Jackson was leading. He
turned back to rejoin his own troops and in the darkness and confusion
he and his men were mistaken for Union cavalry and received a volley
from their own forces which dashed Jackson out of his saddle with a
wound in his left arm which afterward turned out to be mortal. At that
time General Lee sent his celebrated message to Jackson, "You are
luckier than I for your left arm only is wounded, but when you were
disabled, I lost my right arm."

In a short time the whole Union Army was nothing but a disorganized
mass of men, horses, ambulance-wagons, artillery and commissary trains,
all striving desperately to cross the Rappahannock before the pursuing
Confederates could turn the retreat into a massacre. Unless the
Confederate pursuit could be held back long enough to let the men cross
the river and reform on the opposite bank, the whole army was lost.
History is full of the terrible disasters which overtake an army which
is caught by the enemy while in the confusion of crossing a river.
General Pleasonton of Pennsylvania was in command of the rear of the
Federal retreat. He was striving desperately to mount his guns so as to
sweep the only road which led to the river and hold back the
Confederate forces long enough to let his men cross. Already the van of
the Union Army had reached the ford when far down the road appeared the
whole corps of Stonewall Jackson, maddened by the loss of their great
leader. Every man that Pleasonton had was working desperately to get
the guns into position, but it was evident that they would be captured
and their pursuers would sweep into the huddle which was crossing the
river unless something could be done to hold them back. As the general
looked silently down the road, he saw near to him Major Keenan of the
Pennsylvania cavalry. Keenan had been a porter in a Philadelphia store,
but his rare faculty for handling men and horses had made him one of
the most efficient cavalry officers of any Pennsylvania regiment. The
three companies which were with him were all the cavalry that
Pleasonton had. They were bringing up the rear of the retreat like a
pack of wolves who, though driven back from their prey, move off
sullenly only waiting for the signal from their leader to turn again
and fight. General Pleasonton had rallied his gunners and they would
stand if only they had a chance. There was no hope of bringing any
order into the mass of broken, terrified infantry rushing on toward the
river.

"Major Keenan," shouted General Pleasonton, "how many men have you
got?"

"Three hundred, General," replied Keenan, quietly.

"Major," said the general, low and earnestly, riding up to him, "we
must have ten minutes to save the Army of the Potomac. Charge the
Confederate advance and hold them!"

Keenan never hesitated. When the Six Hundred charged at Balaclava, some
of them came back from the bite of the Russian sabres and the roar of
the Muscovite guns. When Pickett made that desperate, fatal charge at
Gettysburg, there was still a chance to retreat, but Major Keenan knew
that when three hundred cavalry met the fixed bayonets of thirty
thousand infantry on a narrow road, not one would ever return. It was
not a splendid charge which might mean laurels of victory, but a
hopeless going to death, the buying of ten minutes of time with the
lives of three hundred men, yet neither Keenan nor his men questioned
the price nor flinched at the order.

The sunlight of the last day he was to see on earth caught the gleam of
his uplifted sabre as he gave the quick, sharp command to charge. He
flung his cap into the bushes, bent his head and rode bareheaded in
front of his flying column and then like an avalanche, like a hurricane
of horse, he and his three hundred men thundered down the narrow road.
Just around the curve, with a crash that broke the necks of a score of
the leading horses, this charging column hurled themselves against the
astonished, packed ranks of infantry rushing on with fixed bayonets.
For five, for ten, for fifteen minutes horses rose and fell to the
clashing of dripping sabres and the bark of revolvers thrust into the
faces of the oncoming foemen. For fifteen long minutes there was a
swirl and a flurry which held back the head of the charging forces and
then shattered by volley after volley of musketry and pierced by
thousands of charging bayonets, horse and men alike went down. Not one
ever came back. Keenan and his Three Hundred had bought the ten minutes
and had thrown in five more for good measure and the price was paid.
The head of the Confederate column reformed, passed over and by the
struggling horses and the silent, mangled men and then again swept on
around the bend and down the road toward the fords crowded with a
hundred thousand helpless, escaping soldiers. General Pleasonton,
however, had made good use of those precious moments. As the
Confederate column came around the curve, they were met by a hell of
grape and canister from the batteries which at last had been mounted in
position. Right into their front roared the guns and the road was a
shamble of writhing, struggling, dying men. No army ever marched that
could stand up against the grim storm of death that swept down that
road and in a moment the Confederate forces broke and rushed back for
shelter. The Army of the Potomac was saved. Bought at a great price, it
was yet to be hammered and forged and welded under a great leader into
the sword which was to save the Union.

    "Year after year, the pine cones fall,
      And the whippoorwill lisps her spectral call.
    They have ceased, but their glory will never cease,
      Nor their light be quenched in the light of peace.
    The rush of the charge is sounding still,
      That saved the Army at Chancellorsville."



CHAPTER XIV

THE RESCUE OF THE SCOUTS


The man who will risk his life for his friends, the leader who never
deserts his band, the soldier who will not escape alone, these are the
men whom history has always hailed as heroes. Some of the greatest
stories of devotion and courage have been those which chronicle the
rescue of men from almost certain death. Courage and devotion have
often opened the dark doors of dungeons, stricken the fetters from
despairing prisoners and saved men doomed to death from the stake, the
block and the gallows.

When the Civil War broke out, the lot of the few Union men left in the
South was a hard one. The fierce passions of those days ran so high
that not only was a Unionist himself liable to death and the
confiscation of his property, but even his family were not safe. In
1863 there was a Georgian who assumed the name of William Morford in
order to protect those of his family who lived in Georgia from the
bitter hatred which his services for the Union had aroused. He was one
of many devoted scouts who worked secretly and single-handed for their
country, claiming no reward if they won and losing their lives on the
gallows if they lost. Morford throughout 1863 was attached to the
command of General Rosecrans and performed many a feat during that
stormy year. It was Morford who burned an important bridge under the
very eyes of a Confederate regiment sent to guard it and who, when the
light from the flames made escape impossible, coolly mingled with the
guards and actually received their congratulations for his bravery in
attempting to put out the fire which he himself had lighted. It was
Morford who single-handed captured a Confederate colonel while he was
sleeping in a house surrounded by his regiment and with his staff in
the next room. Morford obtained access to him under pretense of bearing
an important oral dispatch from General Beauregard himself. They were
left alone with an armed sentry just outside the half-opened door.
Stepping to one side so that he could not be seen by the guard, Morford
suddenly placed a cocked revolver close against the substantial stomach
of the colonel.

"I have been sent, Colonel," he muttered sternly, "to either capture or
kill you. I would rather capture you, for if I kill you I shall have to
fight my way out, but it is for you to say which it shall be."

The colonel was a brave officer, but a cocked revolver against one's
stomach is discouraging even for a hero. He decided instantly that he
much preferred being a prisoner to being a corpse and said as much to
Morford.

"Well," said the latter, still in a tone so low that the sentry could
not make out the words, "I'm glad you feel that way. Get your hat and
tell the guard that you're going to take me out for a talk with some of
the other officers. I'll be right behind you with this revolver in my
sleeve and if anything goes wrong, two bullets will go through the
small of your back."

With this stimulant, the colonel arranged matters entirely to the
scout's satisfaction. He led the way out of the house and through the
lines, giving the countersign himself, in a somewhat shaky voice, and
in a short time the two found themselves within the Union lines.

"I hope I didn't startle you too much, Colonel," said Morford, as he
turned his prisoner over to the guard. "You weren't in any danger, for
my revolver wasn't loaded. I didn't find it out until just as I got to
your lines and I figured out that I probably wouldn't have to shoot
anyway."

As this is a book for good boys and girls, it would not be proper to
set down the colonel's language as he looked at the empty chambers of
Morford's revolver.

Another time the scout was sent by General Rosecrans to find out
whether certain steamboats were on the Hiawassee and if so, where they
were located. On this trip he climbed Cumberland Mountain and on
looking down over the famous Cumberland Gap, he discovered a force of
Confederates who were busily engaged in fortifying the Gap so as to
prevent any federal troops from passing through it. The force consisted
of twenty soldiers and forty or fifty negroes who were doing the work.
Morford made up his mind that it was his business as a Union scout to
stop all such work. Standing out in full sight of the troop, he fired
his revolver at the officer in command. The shot killed the leader's
horse, and horse and man pitched over into the little troop throwing it
into confusion. Morford at once fired a second time and then turning,
waved his hand to an imaginary aide and shouted so that the
Confederates could hear:

"Run back and tell the regiment to hurry up."

He then turned to the opposite ridge and shouted across the Gap to
another imaginary force:

"Lead your men down that path and close in on 'em. Hurry up. My men
will come from this side and we'll beat you down."

By this time the Confederate officer was on his feet again and started
to rally his men. Morford made a rush toward them, firing his revolver
as he came, waving his arms in both directions, shouting to his
imaginary forces and bellowing at the top of his tremendous
voice--"Come on, boys, we've got them now. Surround 'em. Don't let a
man escape!"

The negro workmen felt that this was no place for neutrals and they
dropped their shovels and made a rush for the mouth of the Gap. The
Confederate soldiers stood for a minute, but as they saw Morford
rushing toward them, they broke and followed the workmen. The scout
chased them until he saw that they were well on their way and then
started back along the ridge chuckling to himself over the way in which
they had scattered. He laughed too soon. The Confederates had not gone
far before they found out the trick which had been played upon them.
They turned back and in a short time fifty men were riding along the
ridge at full speed to capture the Yankee who had fooled them so.
Unfortunately for Morford, he had kept to the path along the ridge
which was better going, but which offered very little chance of escape,
since on one side was a sheer precipice while on the other was a long,
bare slope which offered no place for concealment. From the top of a
little knoll he caught sight of the Confederates before they saw him.
At that time they were only a half mile behind. The scout tried to
escape by running far out on a rocky spur which jutted out over the Gap
and which was filled with trees, hoping that he might dodge in among
these, double on his pursuers and so get away. The same officer,
however, whom he had unhorsed caught sight of him as he ran from one
tree to another and with a tremendous shout, the whole band galloped
after him at full speed. Morford had hoped that as the way led up a
steep hill covered with rocks, his pursuers would have to dismount, but
they were riding horses which had been bred in the mountains and which
were trained to go up and down hill-paths like goats. They gained on
him fast. Spreading out they cut off every chance of his escaping back
to the slope or skirting their ranks. There was nothing left for him to
do except to go on and on to the very edge of the precipice. The scout
knew that if he were caught he would be hung on the nearest tree and
that knowledge was a considerable incentive to keep ahead of his
pursuers as long as possible. He ran as he had never run before and as
he could follow paths too narrow for the horses, for a while he managed
to hold his lead. He could see, however, that some of the band had
ridden around the slope and held the whole base of the spur so that it
would be only a question of time before he would be hunted out and
caught. He was running now along the very edge of the precipice which
dropped six hundred feet to the rocks below. The gorge narrowed until
finally at one point it was not more than twenty feet wide. This was
too wide, however, for the scout to clear, even if he were not wearing
heavy boots and carrying a rifle. Several feet below where he stood, on
the opposite shelf a hickory tree had grown out so that some of the
branches extended within ten feet of his side of the gorge. Below that
tree was a fissure through the rock down which a desperate man might
possibly clamber. It was a slight chance, but the only one which he
had. At this point he was hidden from the Confederates by a wall of
rock. Without allowing himself to stop, for fear that he would lose his
nerve, Morford took a run and launched himself through the air ten feet
out and ten feet down against the spreading boughs of the hickory tree.
He broke through them with a rush but wound his arms desperately around
the bending limbs and though they bent and cracked, the tough wood held
and he found himself firmly hugging the shaggy bark of the trunk with
all his might. He slid down, ripping his clothes and skin, until
finally his feet touched the beginning of a possible path down to the
gorge. He could hear the shouts of his pursuers only a few rods away.
If they had gone to the edge, nothing could have saved him, as they
would have shot him down before he could have escaped, but they beat
carefully through the trees and rocks for fear lest he should crawl
back through their line. Without stopping to weigh his chances, Morford
let himself drop from one shelf of rock to another, clinging to every
little crevice and every twig and plant which he could find. Several
times he thought he was gone as his feet swung off into the space
below, but always he managed to get a hand-grip on some rock which
held, and almost before he realized the terrible chance he had taken,
he had passed down the side of the cliff and was safe around a bend in
the rock which hid him from view. From there the path was easier and in
a short time he found himself in the gorge far below. There he crawled
carefully along behind rocks and took advantage of every bit of cover
and in a few minutes was far on his way, leaving the Confederates to
hunt for hours every square yard of ground on the rocky promontory
whence he had come.

This was but one of many similar adventures which made the name of
Morford feared and hated through the Confederate states. The most
desperate as well as the most generous of his many exploits was his
rescue of three fellow-scouts who were held in jail at Harrison,
Tennessee, and were to be shot on May 1st. Morford was then in
Chattanooga and there heard of the capture of these scouts. Chattanooga
at that time was a Confederate town, although it had a number of Union
residents. There did not seem to be any chance of rescuing the
condemned men, yet from the minute that Morford heard that these scouts
were facing death, as he had so often faced it, he made up his mind
that he would rescue them if he had to do it alone.

Morford's mother's name was Kinmont and her earliest ancestor had been
Kinmont Willie, celebrated in the border-wars between England and
Scotland in the latter part of the sixteenth century. Many and many a
time had she sung to him as a child an old Scotch ballad handed down
for centuries through the family, which told of the rescue of this
far-away ancestor by his leader on the night before the day fixed for
his execution. In 1596 Salkeld was the deputy of Lord Scroope, the
English warden of the West Marches, while the Laird of Buccleuch, the
keeper of Liddesdale, guarded the Scotch border. In that year these two
held meetings on the border-line of the kingdoms according to the
custom of the time for the purpose of arranging differences and
settling disputes. On these occasions a truce was always proclaimed
from the day of the meeting until the next day at sunrise. Kinmont
Willie was a follower of the Laird of Buccleuch and was hated by the
Englishmen for many a deed of arms in the numerous border-raids of
those times. After the conference he was returning home attended by
only three or four friends when he was taken prisoner by a couple of
hundred Englishmen and in spite of the truce lodged in the grim Castle
of Carlisle. The Laird of Buccleuch tried first to free him by applying
to the English warden and even to the Scotch embassador, but got no
satisfaction from either and when at last he heard that his retainer
was to be hung three days later, he took the matter into his own hands,
gathered together two hundred of his men, surprised the Castle of
Carlisle and rescued Kinmont Willie by force of arms. The story of this
rescue is told in one of the best as well as one of the least-known of
the Scotch ballads, "Kinmont Willie," the verses of which run as
follows:

    O have ye na heard o' the fause Sakelde?
      O have ye na heard o' the keen Lord Scroope?
    How they hae ta'en bauld Kinmont Willie,
      On Haribee to hang him up?

    They band his legs beneath the steed,
      They tied his hands behind his back;
    They guarded him, fivesome on each side,
      And they brought him over the Liddel-rack.

    Now word is gane to the bauld Keeper,
      In Branksome Ha' where that he lay,
    That Lord Scroope has ta'en the Kinmont Willie,
      Between the hours of night and day.

    He has ta'en the table wi' his hand,
      He garr'd the red wine spring on hie--
    "Now Christ's curse on my head," he said,
      "But avenged of Lord Scroope I'll be!

    "O were there war between the lands,
      As well I wot that there is none,
    I would slight Carlisle castell high,
      Though it were builded of marble stone.

    "I would set that castell in a low,
      And sloken it with English blood!
    There's never a man in Cumberland,
      Should ken where Carlisle castell stood.

    "But since nae war's between the lands,
      And there is peace, and peace should be;
    I'll neither harm English lad or lass,
      And yet the Kinmont freed shall be!"

    He has call'd him forty Marchmen bauld,
      Were kinsmen to the bauld Buccleuch;
    With spur on heel, and splent on spauld,
      And gleuves of green, and feathers blue.

    And as we cross'd the Bateable Land,
      When to the English side we held,
    The first o'men that we met wi',
      Whae sould it be but fause Sakelde?

    "Where be ye gaun, ye hunters keen?"
      Quo' fause Sakelde; "come tell to me!"
    "We go to hunt an English stag,
      Has trespass'd on the Scots countrie."

    "Where be ye gaun, ye marshal men?"
      Quo' fause Sakelde; "come tell me true!"
    "We go to catch a rank reiver,
      Has broken faith wi' the bauld Buccleuch."

    "Where are ye gaun, ye mason lads,
      Wi' a' your ladders lang and hie?"
    "We gang to berry a corbie's nest,
      That wons not far frae Woodhouselee."

    "Where be ye gaun, ye broken men?"
      Quo' fause Sakelde; "come tell to me!"
    Now Dickie of Dryhope led that band,
      And the nevir a word of lear had he.

    "Why trespass ye on the English side?
      Row-footed outlaws, stand!" quo' he;
    The nevir a word had Dickie to say,
      Sae he thrust the lance through his fause bodie.

    And when we left the Staneshaw-bank,
      The wind began full loud to blaw;
    But 'twas wind and weet, and fire and sleet,
      When we came beneath the castle wa'.

    We crept on knees, and held our breath,
      Till we placed the ladders against the wa';
    And sae ready was Buccleuch himsell
      To mount the first before us a'.

    He has ta'en the watchman by the throat,
      He flung him down upon the lead--
    Had there not been peace between our lands,
      Upon the other side thou hadst gaed!

    "Now sound out, trumpets!" quo' Buccleuch;
      "Let's waken Lord Scroope right merrilie!"
    Then loud the warden's trumpet blew--
      "O wha dare meddle wi' me?"

    Then speedilie to work we gaed,
      And raised the slogan ane and a',
    And cut a hole through a sheet of lead,
      And so we wan to the castle ha'.

    They thought King James and a' his men
      Had won the house wi' bow and spear;
    It was but twenty Scots and ten,
      That put a thousand in sic' a stear!

    Wi' coulters, and wi' forehammers,
      We garr'd the bars bang merrilie,
    Until we came to the inner prison,
      Where Willie o' Kinmont he did lie.

    And when we cam to the lower prison,
      Where Willie o' Kinmont he did lie--
    "O sleep ye, wake ye, Kinmont Willie,
      Upon the morn that thou's to die?"

    "O I sleep saft, and I wake aft,
      It's lang since sleeping was fley'd frae me;
    Gie my service back to my wife and bairns,
      And a' gude fellows that spier for me."

    Then Red Rowan has hente him up,
      The starkest man in Teviotdale--
    "Abide, abide now, Red Rowan,
      Till of my Lord Scroope I take farewell."

    "Farewell, farewell, my gude Lord Scroope!
      My gude Lord Scroope, farewell!" he cried--
    "I'll pay you for my lodging maill,
      When first we meet on the Border side."

    Then shoulder high, with shout and cry,
      We bore him down the ladder lang;
    At every stride Red Rowan made,
      I wot the Kinmont's airns play'd clang.

    "O mony a time," quo' Kinmont Willie,
      "I have ridden horse baith wild and wood;
    But a rougher beast than Red Rowan
      I ween my legs have ne'er bestrode."

    "And mony a time," quo' Kinmont Willie,
      "I've prick'd a horse out oure the furs;
    But since the day I back'd a steed,
      I never wore sic cumbrous spurs."

    We scarce had won the Staneshaw-bank,
      When a' the Carlisle bells were rung,
    And a thousand men on horse and foot
      Cam wi' the keen Lord Scroope along.

    Buccleuch has turn'd to Eden Water,
      Even where it flow'd frae bank to brim,
    And he has plunged in wi' a' his band,
      And safely swam them through the strem.

    He turn'd him on the other side,
      And at Lord Scroope his glove flung he--
    "If ye like na my visit in merry England,
      In fair Scotland come visit me!"

    "All sore astonish'd stood Lord Scroope,
      He stood as still as rock of stane;
    He scarcely dared to trew his eyes,
      When through the water they had gone.

    "He is either himsell a devil fra hell,
      Or else his mother a witch maun be;
    I wadna have ridden that wan water,
      For a' the gowd in Christentie."

The memory of that brave rescue nearly three hundred years before, as
the scout afterward told his friends, was what inspired him to save his
fellow-scouts as Buccleuch had saved the first William Kinmont. By
saving the lives of these three men he would pay with interest for the
life of his ancestor. Shakespeare writes somewhere that the good which
men do is oft buried with their bones, but that their evil deeds live
on forever. No more mistaken lines have ever been written. Evil brings
about its own death. No good deed is ever forgotten or ever buried.
Hundreds of years later it may flash out through the dust of centuries
and light the path of high endeavor.

Morford scoured Chattanooga and finally found nine men who were ready
to go with him and try to rescue the condemned scouts. Leaving
Chattanooga they traveled by night and hid by day in caves and thickets
among the mountains. Occasionally they would meet or get word from men
whom they knew to be Union sympathizers. Finally they hid on the top of
Bear Mountain which towered above the river and which separated them
from Harrison where was located the jail. Although they had traveled
fast and far they were only just in time. The second noon after the
night when they reached the mountain had been fixed for the execution.
On Bear Mountain they hid in a cave which Morford himself had
discovered when hunting there many years before. It could only be
reached by a narrow path which ran along a shelf of rock which jutted
out over a precipice three hundred feet deep. The path turned sharply
and led under an enormous overhanging ledge and ended in a deep cave
with a little mountain spring bubbling up on a mossy slope only ten
feet wide which led up to the cave's entrance. Inside was a dry, high
cavern large enough to hold fifty men. It could not be reached from
above by reason of the over-hanging ledge. At that point the path
stopped and where the slope ended was a sheer drop to the rocks below
which extended around the farther side of the slope so that the only
entrance was around the path's bend along which only one man could pass
at a time. Morford reached the foot of Bear Mountain just at sunset and
led his little band up the steep side by a winding deer-path, the
entrance to which was concealed in a tangled thicket of green briar and
could only be reached by crawling underneath the sharp thorns like
snakes. The path to the cave was no place for a man with weak nerves.
It was bad enough as it skirted the precipice, but where it took a
sharp bend around the jutting point of rock, it narrowed to nothing
more than a foothold not three inches wide. He who would pass into the
cave must turn with his back to the precipice and edge his way with
arms outstretched along the smooth face of the rock for nearly ten
feet. The point at the turn was the worst. There it was necessary to
take one foot off the ledge and grope for a tiny foothold below the
path while one shuffled around the curve. It was not absolutely
necessary for Morford and his men to spend the night in this cave.
There were other places where they could have stayed in safety, as no
one suspected their presence. Morford, however, had made up his mind to
choose his men with the utmost care. It was necessary in order to save
the lives of the three condemned scouts to pass through the camp of the
soldiers and the ring of guards encircling the jail, break open the
jail, rescue the prisoners and break out again. It was a desperate
chance and Morford's only hope of success was to have men who would
show absolute coolness and daring throughout the whole adventure. The
nine men whom he had selected all bore a high reputation for courage,
but Morford decided like Gideon of old to cut out every factor of
weakness and leave only the picked men. When Gideon was chosen of God
to rescue the children of Israel from the unnumbered host of Midianites
and Amalekites and the other Bedouin hordes of the desert which were
encamped in the great valley that lay at the hill of Moreh, he started
with a force of thirty-two thousand. When this army looked down upon
the innumerable hosts of the fierce desert warriors, it began to weaken
and Gideon sent back twenty-two thousand soldiers who had showed signs
of fear. The night before the day fixed for battle, Gideon decided to
select from this ten thousand a picked band of men who would be not
only brave, but watchful and ready for any emergency. As his army
swarmed down to the water-hole Gideon watched the men as they drank.
They had kept watch and ward on that bare sun-smitten mountain top all
through the long, hot day. As they came to the water some of the
thirsty men dashed forward out of the ranks and fell on their faces and
lapped the water like dogs without a thought that there might be an
ambush at the ford and without a care that they were lying absolutely
defenseless before any enemy who might attack them. Others kneeled on
their hands and knees and drank. Of the ten thousand only three hundred
had bravery and self-control enough to maintain the discipline of a
vigilant army. Without laying down their weapons they drank as a deer
drinks, watching on every side for fear of a surprise. With one hand
they scooped up the water, in the other they held fast their weapon. It
was slower, but it was safer. These three hundred men Gideon chose for
that band which for three thousand years has been the symbol of bravery
and watchfulness. With this little force just before dawn he burst down
upon the sleeping Midianites which were as the sand by the sea for
multitude. The three hundred were divided into three companies. Each
man carried a sword, a trumpet, and an earthenware pitcher with a
lighted lamp inside. From three separate directions they rushed down
upon the sleeping foe and sounded the trumpets and brake the pitchers
and held the flashing lamps on high and then shouting as their
watchword, "The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon," they burst into the
great camp of the invaders. Roused from sleep, hearing the trumpet
notes and the crash of the breaking pitchers and seeing the flash of
lights from all sides and mighty voices shouting the fierce slogan, the
Midianites scattered like sheep and all that great host ran and cried
and fled and every man's sword was against his fellow in the darkness,
and when day dawned the ground was covered with dead men, the camp was
abandoned and nothing was left of that mighty army but a fringe of
fugitives scattered in every direction.

It may be that some such test was in Morford's mind as the little band
of nine scaled the heights of Bear Mountain. At any rate as they
approached the precipice-path he halted them.

"Boys," he said, "I got word this afternoon that these scouts have only
thirty-six hours to live unless we save them. The guards have been
doubled. It's going to be a desperate chance to get to them and none of
us may ever come back. Now if any of you fellows want to quit, the time
to do it is now rather than later. I'm going to lead the way along the
path which we used to say was the best nerve-tonic in this county. If
any of you fellows get discouraged and don't want to make the last turn
past old Double-Trouble, why back out, go over the top of the mountain
and down the other side. You know your way home and you've got
provisions enough to last for the trip. Only travel fast, for those of
us who are left are going to come right over the top of this mountain
on the run with those scouts--if we save 'em."

With this characteristic oration, Morford started along the path, first
tightening his heavy revolver belt so that it might not swing out and
over-balance him at the critical moment. He was instantly followed by
six others, quiet, self-contained men who like him had taken up
scouting as the best way of showing their devotion to the Union. The
other three hesitated a moment, looked at each other shamefacedly and
then slowly followed along the dangerous route. As Morford reached
Double-Trouble, he stopped and in a low voice told the next man how to
put one foot out into space and search for the little foothold which
jutted out below the main path and then how to swing around that
desperate curve. Slowly and with infinite caution each one of the six
followed their leader and found himself safe on the slope of the cave.
The seventh man listened carefully to the instructions of the man
before him as to how he should round the curve and gave a gasp of
horror when he found that he must balance himself on one foot on a
three-inch ledge while the other was in mid-air.

"Tell General Morford," he finally said, "that I ain't no tight-rope
walker. I draw the line at holdin' on like a fly, head downward over
this old precipice. Anyway I don't think there's any chance to do
anything and I'm goin' home."

He seemed to have voiced the exact sentiments of the other two who had
sidled up and with out-stretched necks were examining in the faint
light the curve around Double-Trouble. The last man spent no time in
any argument.

"Good-bye, General," he called in a low voice. "Go as far as you
like--but go without me."

That was the last Morford and the other six ever saw of those men. They
reached home in safety after some days of wandering, but decided to
choose another territory where the scouting would not be quite so
strenuous. Morford and his men made themselves comfortable that night.
They drank deep from the spring and then had a much-needed scrub. After
a hearty meal they turned in and slept like dead men through the next
day on the crisp springy moss, first rolling a big boulder against the
side of Double-Trouble so that no one could pass.

Late the next afternoon they awoke and found that the path was not so
bad the second time as it had been the first. Down the mountainside by
the same concealed route they marched in single file and just at dark
crossed the river and entered the little village of Harrison. There
they were met by an old man with whom Morford had previously
communicated. He had obtained by strategy the countersign which would
take them through the soldiers, the guards and to the very entrance of
the jail itself. Curiously enough, some Confederate officer had fixed
as the countersign that very one with which Gideon had conquered so
many years ago. "The Sword of Gideon" was the open sesame which would
take them past the guards and unlock the gates which ringed about the
doomed men. Morford accepted it as a good omen. The night before he had
told his companions the old story of Gideon's test and it came to them
all as a direct message that God was fighting on their side as he had
fought of old against even greater odds. Morford planned to use
Gideon's tactics. He decided to surprise and confuse his enemy and
escape in the confusion. He tied the hands of two of his band behind
their backs and with the other four marched directly to the Confederate
camp, gave the countersign, and stated that he had prisoners to deliver
to the jail. The sleepy sentry passed him through without any comment
and they marched until they came to the high board fence with a double
row of spikes on top which surrounded the prison-yard. This fence at
one point touched the edge of a marsh filled with rank grass, briars
and tussocks. To this point Morford had gone earlier in the evening and
had bored two auger-holes in one of the boards and then with a small
saw dipped in oil had carefully sawed out one of the old timbers,
leaving a space just large enough to admit of a man passing through.
There was only one entrance to the prison grounds which was through the
main gate besides which night and day sat two guards. Morford rang at
this gate and when it was opened, presented himself with his pretended
prisoners. One of the guards accompanied them to the main jail toward
which Morford marched with his prisoners and two men, leaving the other
two behind with the remaining guard. Morford had no more than passed
around the corner when these two suddenly seized the unsuspecting guard
at the gate, pressed a revolver against his temple and in an instant
gagged him, tied him up hand and foot with rope which they had brought
and started to the jail to assist the others. Usually the jail was only
guarded by the jailer and one deputy or assistant who lived there with
him. To-night, however, there was a death-watch of three extra men
heavily armed stationed around in the corridor in front of the cells of
the condemned men. The jailer opened the door and the sentry who had
accompanied Morford from the gate explained that these were two
prisoners coming under guard from Chattanooga, and Morford and his men
were admitted. Every detail had been planned out ahead and the
prisoners tottered into the corridor in an apparently exhausted
condition and approached the guards who were waiting in front of the
cells, or rather cages, in which were the condemned men. Suddenly just
as the supposed prisoners came close, the ropes dropped off their hands
and each of said hands grasped a particularly dangerous looking
revolver which was aimed directly at the heads of the astonished
guards.

"Sit still," said one of the prisoners, "and keep on sitting still
because I have very nervous fingers and if they twitch, these revolvers
are likely to go off."

The guards followed this advice and in an instant were disarmed and
roped up like the guard at the gate. So far everything had gone like
clockwork according to program. The jailer, however, had yet to be
reckoned with. As he did not seem to be armed, Morford had stepped
forward to assist in disarming the guards when with a tremendous spring
the jailer reached the door, pulled it open and with the same motion
kicked a chair at Morford who had sprung after him. Morford tripped
over the chair and before he could get the door open, the jailer had
cleared the staircase with one jump and was out of the jail, running
toward the entrance. Morford and two others ran after him, but he had
too much of a start and reached the gate fifty yards ahead. This jailer
was cool enough to stop at the gate long enough to pull a knife from
his belt. With this he slashed the ropes of the bound guard, pulled him
to his feet and they both disappeared together through the open gate in
spite of a couple of revolver shots which Morford sent after them. The
latter, however, was prepared for any emergencies. He told off two of
his men to shut and bar the gates and to guard against any attack. Two
others were to run around and around the fence on the inside shouting
and firing as rapidly and as often as their breath and ammunition would
allow. With one companion he returned to the jail and demanded the keys
from the tethered guard.

"The jailer's got them, Captain," said one of the guards; "he always
carries them with him and there isn't a duplicate key in the place."

There was no time to be lost. Already could be heard outside the
Confederate camp the shouts of the officers to the men to fall in. Only
the tremendous turmoil which apparently was going on inside saved the
day for Morford. It would have been an easy thing to force the rickety
old fence at any point or to dash in at the gate if the Confederates
had known how small a force of rescuers there were. They, however,
believed that the jail must have been surprised by some large Union
force and they spent precious time in throwing out skirmishers,
mustering the men and preparing to defend against a flank attack. In
the meantime Morford had rushed into the jailer's room and found lying
there a heavy axe. With this he tried to break into the cells of the
condemned men who were shaking the bars and cheering on their plucky
rescuers. The door of the cell was locked and also barred with heavy
chains. Morford was a man of tremendous strength and swinging the axe,
in a short time he managed to snap the chains apart and smash in the
outer lock and with the aid of an iron bar pried open the door only to
find that there was an inside door with a tremendous lock of wrought
steel against which his axe had absolutely no effect. Time was going.
Already they could hear the shouted commands of the Confederate
officers just outside the fence and Morford expected any moment to see
the door fly in and receive a charge from a couple of hundred armed
men. As he wiped the sweat off his forehead, out of the corner of his
eye he saw one of the guards grinning derisively at him. This was
enough for Morford. Dropping the axe, he cocked his revolver and with
one jump was beside the guard. Placing the cold muzzle of his weapon
against the guard's temple, he ordered him to tell him instantly where
the keys were. There's no case on record where any man stopped laughing
quicker than did that guard.

"I ain't got 'em, Captain," he gasped, "really I ain't."

"I'm going to count ten," said Morford, inflexibly, "and if I don't
hear where those keys are by the time I say ten, I'm going to pull the
trigger of this forty-four. Then I'm going to count ten more and do the
same with the next man and the next. If I can't save these prisoners,
I'm going to leave three guards to go along with them."

Morford got as far as three when the guard, whose voice trembled so
that he could scarcely make himself heard, shouted at the top of his
voice:

"There's a key in the pants-pocket of each one of us."

In spite of the emergency they were facing Morford's men could not help
laughing at the expression on their leader's face as he stood and
stared at the speaker.

"I have a great mind," he said at last, "to shoot you fellows anyway as
a punishment for being such liars and for making me chop up about two
cords of iron bars."

"You wouldn't shoot down prisoners, General," faltered one of the
Confederates.

"No, I wouldn't," said Morford, commencing to grin himself, "but I
ought to."

As he talked he had been fitting the key into the locks and with the
last words the door opened and the condemned scouts were once more free
men. There was not an instant to lose. Already the Confederates were
battering away at the front gate with a great log and a fusillade of
revolver-shots showed that the outer guards were doing all they could
to stand off the attack. It took only a moment to arm the scouts with
the weapons taken from the guards and in a minute the seven men were
out in the prison-yard. Morford himself ran to the gate, stooping in
the darkness to avoid any chance shots that might fly through and
ordered the two guards, who were lying flat on either side of the gate
shooting through the bars at the soldiers outside, to join the others
at the place where the plank had been removed. It took only a minute
for the men to rush across the dark yard and reach the farther corner
of the fence. Morford sent them through the opening one by one. Like
snakes they crept into the tall grass, wormed their way through the
tussocks into the thick marsh beyond and disappeared in the darkness.
They were only just in time. As Morford himself crept through the
opening last the gate crashed in and with a whoop and a yell a file of
infantry poured into the yard. At the same moment another detachment
dashed around on the outside in order to make an entrance at the rear
of the supposed Union forces. Morford had hardly time to dive under the
briars like a rabbit when a company of soldiers reached the opening
through which he had just passed.

"Here's the place, Captain," he heard one of them say in a whisper.
"Here's the place where they broke in."

The Confederate officer hurried his men through the gap, not realizing
that it was really the place where the rescuers had broken out. As the
last man disappeared through the fence, Morford crept on into the
marsh, took the lead of his men and following a little fox-path soon
had them safe on the other side and once again they started for Bear
Mountain. They reached the boat in safety and in a few minutes they
were on the other side of the river. Instead of getting out at the
landing, however, Morford rowed down and made the men get out and make
a distinct trail for a hundred yards or so to a highway which led off
in an opposite direction from the mountain. Then they came back and got
into the boat again while Morford rowed to where an old tree hung clear
out over the water. A few feet from this tree was a stone wall. Morford
instructed his men to swing themselves up through the tree and jump as
far out as possible on the wall and to follow that for a hundred yards
and then spring out from the wall some ten or fifteen feet before
starting for the mountain. When they had all safely reached the wall,
Morford himself climbed into the tree and set the boat adrift and again
took charge of his party. Some of the younger scouts, who had never
been hunted by dogs, were inclined to think that their leader was
unnecessarily cautious. The next morning, however, as they lay safe and
sound on the slope of the cave at the top of Bear Mountain and saw
party after party of soldiers and civilians leading leashed bloodhounds
back and forth along the river-bank, they decided that their captain
knew his business. Their pursuers picked up the trail which was lost
again in the highway and finally decided that the men must have escaped
along the road, although the dogs were, of course, unable to follow it
more than a hundred yards. For three days the scouts lay safe on the
mountainside and rested up for their long trip north. Several times
parties went up and down Bear Mountain, but fortunately did not find
the hidden deer-path nor was Morford called upon to stand siege behind
old Double-Trouble. When the pursuit was finally given up and the
soldiers all seemed to be safe back in camp, Morford led his little
troop out and following the same secret paths by which they had come,
landed them all with the Union forces at Murfreesboro.

So ended one of the many brave deeds of a forgotten hero.



CHAPTER XV

THE BOY-GENERAL


Boys are apt to think that they must wait until they are men before
they can claim the great rewards which life holds in store for all of
us. History shows that courage, high endeavor, concentration and the
sacrifice of self will give the prizes of a high calling to boys as
well as to men. One is never too young or too old to seek and find and
seize opportunity. Alexander Hamilton was only a boy when in New York
at the outbreak of the Revolution, white-hot with indignation and
patriotic zeal, he climbed up on a railing and in an impassioned speech
to a great crowd which had collected, put himself at once in the
forefront along with Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, John Otis and other
patriots who were to be the leaders of a new nation. David was only a
boy of seventeen when he was sent to take provisions to his brethren in
the army of the Israelites then encamped on the heights around the
great battle-valley of Elah. There he heard the fierce giant-warrior of
a lost race challenge the discouraged army. By being brave and ready
enough to seize the opportunity which thousands of other men had passed
by, he that day began the career which won for him a kingdom.

George Washington was only a boy when he saved what was left of
Braddock's ill-fated army in that dark and fatal massacre and was
hardly of age when the governor of Virginia sent him on that dangerous
mission to the Indian chiefs and the French commander at Venango. On
that mission he showed courage that no threats could weaken and an
intelligence that no treachery could deceive and he came back a man
marked for great deeds. As a boy he showed the same forgetfulness of
self which he afterward showed as a man when he refused to take any pay
for his long services as general of the Continental Army and even
advanced heavy disbursements from his own encumbered estate.

Napoleon was only a boy when, as a young lieutenant, he first showed
that military genius, that power of grasping opportunities, of breaking
away from outworn rules which made him one of the greatest generals of
all time and which laid Europe at his feet. If only to his bravery and
genius had been added the high principle and the unselfishness of
Washington, of Hamilton, of David, he would not have died in exile
hated and feared by millions of men and women and children whose
countries he had harried and whose lives he had burdened.

In the Civil War the youngest general in both the Union and the
Confederate forces was Major-General Galusha Pennypacker, who still
lives in Philadelphia. He became a captain and major at seventeen, a
colonel at twenty and a full brigadier-general a few months before he
became twenty-one. His last and greatest fight was at Fort Fisher and
the story of that day, of which he was the hero, is typical of the
bravery and readiness which made him the only boy-general in the world.
By the end of 1864 the Union forces had captured one by one the great
naval ports of the Confederacy, the gates through which their armies
were fed by the blockade-runners of Europe. New Orleans, Mobile and
Savannah had at last fallen. By December, 1864, Wilmington, South
Carolina, was the only port left through which the Confederacy could
receive provisions from outside. In that month an expedition was sent
against the city by sea and land. The river-forces were commanded by
Admiral Porter while Generals Ben Butler and Witzel had charge of the
land-forces. General Butler conceived the fantastic idea of exploding
an old vessel filled with powder close to the ramparts. In the
confusion which he thought would result, he hoped to carry the place by
assault. Fort Fisher was the strongest fortress of the Confederacy.
Admiral Porter afterward said that it was stronger than the famous
Russian fortress Malakoff, which next to Gibraltar was supposed to be
the most impregnable fortification in the world. Fort Fisher consisted
of a system of bomb-proof traverses surrounded by great ramparts of
heavy timbers covered with sand and banked with turf, the largest
earthworks in the whole South and which were proof against the heaviest
artillery of that day. The powder-boat was an abandoned vessel which
was loaded to the gunnels with kegs of powder and floated up to within
four hundred yards of the fort. When it was finally exploded, its
effect upon the fortress was so slight that the Confederate soldiers
inside thought it was merely a boiler explosion from one of the
besieging vessels. General Butler and his assistant, General Witzel,
however, landed their forces, hoping to find the garrison in a state of
confusion and discouragement. General Butler found that the explosion
had simply aroused rather than dismayed the besieged. From all along
the ramparts as well as from the tops of the inner bastions a
tremendous converging fire was poured upon the attacking force. Back of
these fortifications were grouped some of the best sharp-shooters of
the whole Confederate Army and after a few minutes of disastrous
fighting, General Butler was glad enough to withdraw his forces back to
the safety of the ships. He refused to renew the battle and reported to
General Grant that Fort Fisher could not be taken by assault. General
Grant was so disgusted by this report that he at once relieved General
Butler of the command and this battle was the end of the latter's
military career and he went back to civil life in Massachusetts.
President Lincoln too was deeply disappointed at the unfortunate ending
of this first assault on the last stronghold of the Confederacy.
General Grant sent word to Admiral Porter to hold his position and sent
General Alfred H. Terry to attack the fort again by land with an
increased force. General Robert E. Lee learned of the proposed attack
and sent word to Colonel Lamont, who commanded the fort, that it must
be held, otherwise his army would be starved into surrender.

On January 13, 1865, Admiral Porter ran his ironclad within close range
of the fort and concentrating a fire of four hundred heavy guns rained
great shells on every spot on the parapets and on the interior
fortifications from which came any gun-fire. The shells burst as
regularly as the ticking of a watch. The Confederates tried in vain to
stand to their guns. One by one they were broken and dismounted and the
garrison driven to take refuge in the interior bomb-proof traverses.
The attacking forces were divided into three brigades. The attack was
commenced by one hundred picked sharp-shooters all armed with repeating
rifles and shovels. They charged to within one hundred and seventy-five
yards of the fort, quickly dug themselves out of sight in a shallow
trench in the sand and tried to pick off each man who appeared in the
ramparts. Next came General Curtis' brigade to within four hundred
yards of the fort and laid down and with their tin-cups and plates and
knives and sword-blades and bayonets, dug out of sight like moles.
Close behind them was Pennypacker's second brigade and after him Bell's
third brigade. In a few moments, Curtis and his brigade advanced at a
run to a line close behind the sharp-shooters while Pennypacker's
brigade moved into the trench just vacated and Bell and his men came
within two hundred yards of Pennypacker. All this time men were
dropping everywhere under the deadly fire from the traverses. It was
not the blind fire with the bullets whistling and humming overhead
which the men had learned to disregard, but it was a scattering
irregular series of well-aimed shots of which far too many took effect.
The loss in officers especially was tremendous and equal to that of any
battle in the war. More than half of the officers engaged were shot
that day while one man in every four of the privates went down.

When the men had at last taken their final positions, the fire of the
vessels was directed to the sea-face of the fort and a strong naval
detachment charged, with some of Ames' infantry of the land-forces, at
the sea angle of the fort. The besieged ran forward a couple of light
guns loaded with double charges of canister and grape and rushed to the
angle all of their available forces. The canister and the heavy
musketry fire were too much for the bluejackets and they were compelled
to slowly draw back out of range while the Confederates shouted taunts
after them.

"Come aboard, you sailors," they yelled; "the captain's ladder is right
this way. What you hangin' back for?"

[Illustration: Attacking the Inner Traverses of Fort Fisher]

The last words were drowned in a tremendous Rebel yell as they saw the
bluejackets break and retreat out of range. The Confederates, however,
had cheered too soon. In manning the sea-wall they had weakened too
much the defenses on the landward side and the word was given for all
three brigades to attack at once. The color-bearers of all the
regiments ran forward like madmen, headed by the officers and all
sprinting as if running a two hundred and twenty-yard dash. The
officers and the color-bearers of all three brigades reached the outer
lines almost at the same time. With a rush and a yell they were up over
the outer wall and forming inside for the attack on the inner traverses
which yet remained. It was desperate work and the hardest fighting of
the day was done around these inner bomb-proofs, each one of which was
like a little fort in miniature. The crisis came when the first brigade
was barely keeping its foothold on the west end of the parapet while
the enemy which had repulsed the bluejackets were moving over in a
heavy column to drive out Curtis' panting men. It was at this moment
that the boy-general Pennypacker showed himself the hero of the day. He
had already carried the palisades and the sally-port and had taken four
hundred prisoners and then wheeled and charged to the rescue of Curtis'
exhausted men. Ahead of them was the fifth traverse which must be
stormed and crossed before Curtis' men could be relieved. Already the
men were wavering and it was a moment which called for the finest
qualities of leadership. Pennypacker himself seized the colors of the
97th Pennsylvania, his old regiment, and calling on his men to follow,
charged up the broken side of the fifth traverse. His troops swarmed up
after him side by side with the men of the 203d Pennsylvania and the
soldiers of the 117th New York, but Pennypacker was the first man to
fix the regimental flag on the parapet and shouted to Colonel Moore of
the other Pennsylvania regiment:

"Colonel, I want you to take notice that the first flag up is the flag
of my old regiment."

Before Colonel Moore had time to answer, he pitched over with a bullet
through his heart and Colonel Bell was killed at the head of his
brigade as he came in. The gigantic Curtis was fighting furiously with
the blood streaming down from his face. Just at that moment, at the
head of his men, General Pennypacker fell over, so badly wounded that
never from that time to this was a day to pass free from pain. His work
was done, however. His men fought fiercely to avenge his fall, broke up
the enemies' intended attack, freed the first brigade and all three
forces joined and swept through the traverses, capturing them one by
one until the last and strongest fort of the Confederacy had fallen.
The only remaining gateway to the outer world was closed. After the
fall of Fort Fisher, it was only a few months to Appomattox. One of the
bloodiest and most successful assaults of the war had succeeded.
General Grant ordered a hundred-gun salute in honor of the victory from
each of his armies. The Secretary of War, Stanton, himself, ran his
steamer into Wilmington and landed to thank personally in the name of
President Lincoln the brave fighters who had won a battle which meant
the close of the war.

General Pennypacker was to survive his wounds. This was the seventh
time that he had been wounded in eight months. At the close of the war
he was made colonel in the regular army, being the youngest man who
ever held that rank, and was placed in command of various departments
in the South and was the first representative of the North to introduce
the policy of conciliation. Later on he went abroad and met Emperor
William of Germany, the Emperor of Austria and Prince Bismarck and von
Moltke, that war-worn old general, who shook hands with him and said
that as the oldest general in the world, he was glad to welcome the
youngest.

So ends the story of a great battle where a boy showed that he could
fight as bravely and think as quickly and hold on as enduringly as any
man. What the boys of '64 could do, the boys of 1915 can and will do if
ever a time comes when they too must fight for their country.



CHAPTER XVI

MEDAL-OF-HONOR MEN


To-day in the world-war that is being waged in two hemispheres among
twelve nations, we hear much of the Victoria Cross and the Iron Cross,
and the decoration of the Legion of Honor, those tiny immortal symbols
of achievement for which men are so willing to lay down their lives and
which are cherished and passed on from father to son as a heritage of
honor undying. Not since gunpowder sent armor, swords, spears, arrows,
bows, catapults and a host of other outworn equipment to the scrap-heap
has the method of warfare been changed as it was in the year 1914.
Battles are now fought in the air and under the water and armies move
forward underground. Automobiles and power-driven cars, trucks and
platforms have succeeded the horse. Aeroplanes have taken the place of
cavalry. Vast howitzers carried piecemeal on trucks, which can run
across a rougher country than a horse, have made the strongest fortress
obsolete. Bombs which kill every living thing within a circle one
hundred and fifty yards in diameter, vast cylinders of gas which turn
the air for miles into a death-trap, airships which can drop high-power
explosives while invisible beyond the clouds, aerial and submarine
torpedoes which can be automatically guided by electric currents from
vessels miles away, guns that send vast shells a mile above the earth
to carry death and destruction to a point twenty miles away, concealed
artillery equipped with parabolic mirrors and automatic range-finders
which can shoot over distant hills and mountains to a hair's breadth,
and destroy concealed and protected bodies of men, rifles which shoot
without noise and without smoke, machine-guns that spray bullets across
a wide front of charging men as a hose sprays water across the width of
a lawn, wireless apparatus which send messages thousands of miles
across land and sea, all these and hundreds of other devices would be
more of a mystery to Grant and Lee and the other great commanders of
the Civil War than the breech-loading magazine rifles and artillery and
iron-clads of their day would have been to Napoleon. The warfare of
to-day is farther removed from the period of the Civil War of half a
century ago than the Napoleonic wars were from those of Hannibal over a
thousand years before.

Methods have changed, but men are the same to-day as they were when
they first built that great tower on the plain of Shinar. The
eternities of life are still with us. Brave deeds, acts of
self-sacrifice, truth, honor, courage, unselfishness still stand as in
the days of old. Every man or woman or child, small or great, can
achieve such deeds. At the end of this chronicle of the brave deeds
wrought by our fathers and grandfathers in a war which was fought for
an ideal, it is most fitting that the boys and girls of to-day should
read what was done by commonplace men as a matter of course. From the
great list prepared by the War Department of the United States of those
whom their country have honored have been selected a few stories of the
way different men won their Medal of Honor.

In 1864 General Sherman was in the midst of his great march to Atlanta.
Grant had begun the campaign against Lee's army which was to end at
Richmond, while to Sherman was given the task of crushing his rival,
Joseph E. Johnston. Inch by inch the whole of that march was fought out
in a series of tremendous battles. One of these was the hard battle of
New Hope Church in sight of Kenesaw Mountain. The battle was fought as
a successful attempt on the part of Sherman to turn the flank of
Johnston's position at Alatoona Pass. During the battle, Follett
Johnson, a corporal in the 60th Infantry, did not only a brave, but an
unusual deed. While his company was awaiting the signal to take part in
the battle which was raging on their left, they were much annoyed by
the deadly aim of a Confederate sharp-shooter concealed in an oak tree
a quarter of a mile away. Every few minutes there would be a puff of
smoke and the whine of a minie bullet, too often followed by the thud
which told that the bullet had found its billet. When at last the sixth
man, one of Johnson's best friends, was fatally wounded through the
head, Johnson made up his mind to do his share in stopping this
sharp-shooting permanently. Unfortunately he was only an ordinary shot
himself, but he crawled down the line and had a hasty conference with
one of the best shots in the regiment.

"You get a good steady rest," said Johnson, "and draw a bead on that
oak tree. I'll kind of move around and get the chap interested and when
he gives you a chance, you take it."

The Union sharp-shooter agreed to carry out his part of the bargain.
Johnson suddenly sprang to his feet and ran in a zigzag course to a
position farther down the line. A bullet from the watcher in the tree
shrieked close past his head.

"Lie down, you fool," shouted his captain. "Are you trying to commit
suicide?"

"Captain, we're fishing for that fellow over in the tree," returned
Johnson. "I'm the bait."

"Well, you won't be live-bait if you keep it up much longer," said his
captain as Johnson again took another run while a bullet cut through
his coat hardly an inch from his side. Johnson did keep it up, however.
Now he would raise his cap on a stick and try to draw the enemy's fire
in safety. Again he would suddenly spring up and make divers
disrespectful gestures toward the sharp-shooter in his tree. Sometimes
he would lie on his back and kick his legs insultingly up over a little
breastwork that had been hurriedly thrown up. One bullet from the
Confederate marksman nearly ruined a pair of good boots for Johnson
while he was doing this, taking the heel off his left boot as neatly as
any cobbler could have done. The hidden marksman, however, commenced to
show the effect of this challenge by this unknown joker. Little by
little he ventured out from behind the trunk of the tree in order to
get a better aim. By the captain's orders no one fired at him in the
hopes that he would give the watching Union sharp-shooter a deadly
chance. At last his time came. Johnson started his most ambitious
demonstration. He suddenly stood up in front of the breastworks in an
attitude of the most irritating unconcern. Yawning, he gave a great
stretch as if tired of lying down any longer, then he kissed his hand
toward the sharp-shooter and started to stroll down the front of the
line, first stopping to light his pipe. The whole company gave a gasp.

"That will be about all for poor old Folly," said one man to his
neighbor and every minute they expected to see him pitch forward. His
indifference was too much for the Confederate. Emboldened by the
absence of any recent shots, he leaned out from behind the sheltering
trunk in order to draw a deadly bead on the man who had been mocking
him before two armies. This was the chance for which the Union
sharp-shooter had been waiting. Before the Confederate marksman had a
chance to pull his trigger there was the bang of a Springfield rifle a
few rods from where Johnson was walking and the watching soldiers saw
the Confederate sharp-shooter topple backward. The rifle which had done
so much harm slipped slowly from his hand to the ground and in a minute
there was first a rustle, then a crash through the dense branches of
the oak as the unconscious body lost its grip on the limb and pitched
forward to the ground forty feet below. Johnson's captain was the first
man to shake his hand.

"It takes courage to fish for these fellows sometimes," he said, "but
it takes braver men than I am to be the bait."

Nearly thirty years later this occurrence was remembered and Corporal
Johnson awarded the medal of honor which he had earned.

Another man who drew the enemy's fire in order to save his comrades was
John Kiggins, a sergeant in one of the New York regiments. It was at
the battle of Lookout Mountain on November 24, 1863. The terrible
battle of Chickamauga had been fought. The Union Army had been reduced
to a rabble and swept off the field, except over on the left wing where
General George H. Thomas with twenty-five thousand men dashed back for
a whole afternoon the assaults of double that number of Confederates
and earned the title which he was henceforth to bear of the "Rock of
Chickamauga." The defeated army, followed afterward by General Thomas'
forces, withdrew to Chattanooga, that Tennessee battle-ground
surrounded by the heights of Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain.
Here the Union forces were invested on all sides by the Confederate
Army under General Bragg. The supplies of the Union Army gave out. The
Confederates commanded the Tennessee River and held all of the good
wagon-roads on the south side of it. The Union Army was nearly starved.
General Rosecrans had never recovered from the battle of Chickamauga.
Not only was his nerve shattered, but he seemed to have lost all
strength of will and concentration of purpose. General Grant, who had
just been placed in supreme command of all the military operations in
the West, decided to place Thomas in command of the Army of the
Cumberland in place of the dispirited Rosecrans. He telegraphed Thomas
to hold Chattanooga at all hazards.

"We'll hold the town until we starve," Thomas telegraphed back.

When Grant reached Chattanooga on October 23d, wet and dirty, but well,
he realized as he saw the dead horses and the hollow-cheeked men how
far the starving process had gone. Although he was on crutches from
injuries received from a runaway horse, yet his influence was
immediately felt throughout the whole army. He was a compeller of men
like Napoleon and, like him, had only to ride down the line and let his
men see that he was there in order to accomplish the impossible. He at
once sent a message to Sherman, who was coming slowly along from
Vicksburg. His messenger paddled down the Tennessee River in a canoe
under a guerrilla-fire during his whole journey and handed Sherman a
dispatch from Grant which said, "Drop everything and move your entire
force toward Stevenson." Sherman marched as only he could. When his
army reached the Tennessee River he laid a pontoon bridge thirteen
hundred and fifty feet in length in a half day, rushed his army across,
captured all the Confederate pickets and was ready to join Grant in the
great battle of Chattanooga. General Hooker marched in from one side on
November 24th and fought the great battle of Lookout Mountain above the
clouds, through driving mists and rains and on the morning of November
25th the stars and stripes waved from the lofty peak of Lookout
Mountain. The next day eighteen thousand men without any orders charged
up the almost perpendicular side of Missionary Ridge and carried it,
and the three-day battle of Chattanooga was ended in the complete
defeat of Bragg's army and the rescue of the men whom he thought he had
cornered beyond all hopes of escape.

It was during this first day's battle in the mist on Lookout Mountain
that Kiggins distinguished himself. The New York regiment, in which he
was a sergeant, had crawled and crept up a narrow winding path,
dragging their cannon after them up places where it did not seem as if
a goat could keep its footing. They had already come into position on
one side of the higher slopes when suddenly a battery above them opened
fire and the men began to fall. Through the mists they could see the
stars and stripes waving over this upper battery, which had mistaken
them for Confederate soldiers. They were shielded from the Confederate
batteries by a wall of rock, but it was necessary to stop this mistaken
fire or every man of the regiment would be swept off the mountain by
the well-aimed Union guns. Sergeant Kiggins volunteered to do the
necessary signaling. He climbed up on the natural wall of rock which
protected them from the Confederate batteries and sharp-shooters and
waved the Union flag toward the battery above him with all his might.
They stopped firing, but evidently considered it simply a stratagem and
wigwagged to Kiggins an inquiry in the Union code. It was necessary for
Kiggins to answer this or the fire would undoubtedly be at once
resumed. Unfortunately he was a poor wigwagger and as he stood on the
wall, he was exposed to the fire of every Confederate battery or
rifleman within range. The perspiration ran down his face as he
clumsily began to spell a message back to the battery above. Over his
head hummed and whirled solid round shot and around him screamed the
minie balls from half-a-dozen different directions. Once a shot pierced
his signaling flag right in the middle of a word. He not only had to
replace the flag, but he had to spell the word over again which was
even worse. The whole message did not take many minutes, but it seemed
hours to poor Kiggins. His life was saved as if by a miracle. Several
bullets pierced his uniform, his cap was shot off his head and when the
last word was finished, he dropped off the wall with such
lightning-like rapidity that his comrades, who had been watching him
with open mouths, thought that at last some bullet must have reached
its mark. Kiggins, however, was unharmed, but made a firm resolve to
perfect himself in wigwagging. We have no record whether he carried out
this good resolution, but his unwilling courage saved his regiment in
spite of his bad spelling and won for himself a medal of honor.

It was at the end of that terrible Wilderness campaign of Grant's which
in a little more than a month had cost him fifty-four thousand nine
hundred and twenty-nine men, a number nearly equal to the whole army of
Lee, his antagonist, when the campaign was commenced. Grant's first
object in this campaign was to destroy or capture Lee's army. His
second object was to capture Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy.
A special rank of Lieutenant-General had been created for him by
President Lincoln with the approval of the whole country. His victory
at the dreadful battle of Shiloh, his successful siege of Vicksburg and
his winning above the clouds the battle of Chattanooga, had made the
silent, scrubby, commonplace-looking man, with the gray-blue eyes, who
never talked but acted instead, the hope of the whole nation. In this
campaign, Grant's one idea was to clinch with Lee's army and fight it
as hard and as often as possible. He fought in the wilderness, tangled
in thickets and swamps. He fought against strong positions on hilltops,
he fought against entrenchments defended by masked batteries and
tremendous artillery. He fought against impregnable positions and
although he lost and lost and lost, he never stopped fighting. Lee had
beaten McClellan and Pope and Burnside and Hooker, all able generals,
who had tried against him every plan except that which Grant now tried,
of wearing him out by victories and defeats alike. Grant's army could
be replenished. There were not men enough left in the Confederacy to
replace Lee's army. It was a terrible campaign and only a president of
Lincoln's breadth of view and only the supreme confidence which the
American people have in a man who fights, no matter how often he is
beaten, kept Grant in command. If, after the bloody defeats in the
Wilderness and at Spottsylvania or at Cold Harbor, he had turned back
like any of his successors would have done, undoubtedly his past record
would not have saved him the command. It was like the celebrated battle
between Tom Cribb, the champion of England, and Molineaux, the giant
black, in the eighteenth century for the championship of the world.
Again and again and again Cribb was knocked down by blows so tremendous
that even his ring generalship could not avoid them. Battered and
bloody he always staggered to his feet and bored in again for more.
Molineaux at last said to his seconds, "I can't lick a fellow like
that; the fool doesn't know when he is beaten." It was so with Grant
and Lee. Grant never knew when he was beaten. Lee's generalship could
knock him down, but could not keep him back, and the Confederate leader
realized himself that sooner or later some chance of war would give
Grant the opportunity for a victory from which the Confederate Army
could not recuperate.

Cold Harbor was the last of this series of defeats which helped wear
out Lee's army and ended in its capture and the occupation of Richmond.
At the time, however, it was bitter to be borne by the millions of men
and women and children who were hungering and thirsting for a victory
of the Union arms. Marching and fighting and fighting and marching
every day for a month, Grant was almost in sight of the spires of the
Confederate capital. About six miles outside the city Lee had taken his
last stand at Cold Harbor. He held a position of tremendous natural
strength and had fortified and entrenched it so that it was practically
impregnable. Grant tried in vain to flank it. On June 30th he ordered
an assault in front. Against him was the flower of the Confederate Army
commanded by the best general of the world and securely entrenched in a
position than which no stronger was ever attacked throughout the whole
war. Grant first gave his command to attack on the afternoon of June
2d, but then postponed it until the early morning of June 3d. Officers
and men alike knew that they were to be sacrificed. All through the
regiments men were pinning slips of paper, on which were written their
names and addresses, to the backs of their coats, so that their dead
bodies might be recognized after the battle and news sent to their
families at the North. The battle was a short one. The second corps of
General Hancock, one of the bravest and most dashing of all of Grant's
generals, was shot to pieces in twenty-two minutes and fell back with
three thousand of its best men gone, including most of its officers.
All along the line the story was the same. At some places the Union men
were beaten back without any difficulty and at other spots they
penetrated the salients, but were driven back. Attack after attack was
in vain against the generalship of Lee, the bravery of his men and the
almost impregnable strength of his position.

Eugene M. Tinkham, of the 148th New York Infantry, was in that corps
directly under the eye of Grant himself which attacked and attacked the
Confederate position throughout that bloody morning, only to be driven
back each time with tremendous losses. The 148th Infantry, in which
Tinkham was a corporal, charged right up to the very mouth of the guns.
Flesh and blood could not stand, however, against the volleys of grape
and canister which ripped bloody, struggling lanes right through the
masses of the charging men. As the corps of which Tinkham's regiment
was a part was stopped by the wall of dead and wounded men piled up in
front of them, the Confederates with a fierce Rebel yell charged over
the breastworks on the confused attackers. For a minute the New York
regiment held its own, but were finally slowly forced back fighting
every foot to the shelter of their own rifle-pits. There they made a
stand and the Confederate sally stopped and the men in gray dashed back
to their own fortifications. In this charge, Tinkham received a bayonet
wound through his left shoulder while a jagged piece of canister had
ripped through his left arm. Not until he found himself back in the
rifle-pit, however, did he even know that he was wounded. His bayonet
and the barrel of his rifle were red clear up to the stock and he did
not at first realize that the blood dripping from his left sleeve was
his own. It was only as he lay on the dry sand and saw the red stain
beside him grow larger and larger that he realized that he was hurt.
One of the few men who had returned with him stripped off his coat, cut
away the sleeve of his shirt and made a couple of rough bandages and
extemporized a rude tourniquet from the splinters of one of the wheels
of a battered field-piece which had flown into the pit. When that was
over, Tinkham lay back and shut his eyes and felt the weakness which
comes over a man who has lost much blood. To-day there was not the
tonic of victory which sometimes keeps even wounded men up. He had seen
his comrades, men with whom he had eaten and slept and fought for over
two years, thrown away, as it seemed to him, uselessly. He was yet to
learn, what the army learned first and the country last, that Grant was
big enough and far-sighted enough to know that some victories must be
wrought from failure as well as success. This was one of the
hammer-strokes which seemed to bound back from the enemy's armor
without leaving a mark, yet the impact weakened Lee even when it seemed
that he was most impervious to it. It was absolutely necessary to
Grant's far-reaching plans that Lee be fought on every possible
occasion. Whether he won or lost, Grant's only hope lay on keeping Lee
on the defensive. None of this, of course, could a wounded corporal in
a battered, beaten and defeated regiment realize. All he knew was that
his friends were gone, that he was wounded and, worst of all, had been
forced to again and again retreat. He shut his eyes and there was a
sound in his ears like the tolling of a great bell. It seemed to swell
and rise until it drowned even the rattle and roar of the battle which
was still going on. When Tinkham opened his eyes everything seemed to
waver and quiver before him. Suddenly there came a short, thin, wailing
sound which cut like a knife through the midst of the unconsciousness
which was stealing over him. It was the cries of two wounded men lying
far out in the field over which he had come. Tinkham raised his hand
and strained his eyes. He could recognize two of his own file, men who
a moment before had been by his side and who now lay moaning their
lives away out on that shell-swept field. Tinkham listened to it as
long as he could. Then he set his teeth, scrambled to his feet and in
spite of his comrades who thought that he was delirious, climbed
stiffly over the edge of the rifle-pit and began to creep out between
the lines toward the wounded men. At first every motion was an agony.
He was weakened by the loss of blood and he could bear no weight on his
left arm, yet there was such a fatal storm of bullets and grape-shot
whizzing over him that he knew that, if he rose to his feet, there
would be little chance of his ever reaching his friends alive. Slowly
and doggedly he sidled along like a disabled crab. Sometimes he would
have to stop and rest. Many times bullets whizzed close to him and cut
the turf all around where he lay. As soon as he had rested a few
seconds, he would fix his eye on some little tuft of grass or stone or
weed and make up his mind that he would crawl until he reached that
before he rested again. It was a long journey before he reached his
goal. On the way he had taken three full canteens of water from silent
figures which would never need them more. When at last he reached the
men, they recognized him and the tears ran down their faces as they
called his name.

"God bless you, Corporal," said one; "it's just like you to come for
us."

Tinkham had no breath left to talk, but he gave each wounded man a
refreshing drink from the canteens. Both of them were badly, although
not fatally, wounded. One had a shattered leg and the other was slowly
bleeding to death from a jagged wound in his thigh which he had tried
in vain to staunch. Tinkham bandaged them up to the best of his ability
and started to drag them both back to safety. With his help and
encouragement, each of them crawled for himself as best he was able. It
was a weary journey. During the last part of it, however, he was helped
by other volunteers who were shamed into action by seeing this wounded
man do what they had not dared. All three recovered and lived to take
part in the latter-day victories which were yet to come.

Tinkham was but one of the thousands of brave men who risked their
lives to save their comrades. There was Michael Madden who at Mason's
Island, Maryland, was on a reconnaissance with a comrade within the
enemy's lines. His companion was wounded. A number of the enemy's
cavalry started out to cut off the two men who were at the same time
exposed to concentrated fire from the enemy's sharp-shooters. Madden
picked his comrade up as if he had been a child, hoisted him to his
back and ran with him to the bank of the Potomac, and plunged off into
the water. Swimming on his back, he kept his comrade's head up and
crossed the river in safety with the bullets hissing and spattering all
around him.

Then there was Julius Langbein, a drummer-boy fifteen years old. In
1862 at Camden, N.C., the captain of his company was shot down.
Langbein went to his help, but found that unless he received surgical
treatment, he could not live an hour. Unstrapping his drum, he ran back
to the rear and found a surgeon who was brave enough to go out to the
front with him and under a heavy fire give first-aid to the wounded
officer. Then the two carried the unconscious captain back to safety.

It is a brave man that can rally himself in a retreat. Usually men go
with the crowd. Once let the tide of battle begin to ebb and a company
or a regiment or a brigade commence a retreat, it takes not only
unusual courage, but also unusual will-power for any single man to
stand out against his fellows and resist not only his own fears, but
theirs. Such a man was John S. Kenyon. At Trenton, S.C., on May 15,
1862, the whole column of his regiment, the 3d New York Cavalry, was
retreating under a murderous fire from the enemy. Kenyon was in the
rear rank. The retreat had started at a trot, had increased to a gallop
and finally the whole column was riding at breakneck speed away from
the shot and shell which crashed through their ranks. At the very
height of their speed a man riding next to Kenyon was struck in the
right shoulder by a grape-shot. The force of the blow pitched him
headlong from the saddle. He still held to his reins with his left hand
with a death-grip and was dragged for yards by his plunging, snorting
horse. Kenyon was just ahead and knew nothing of the occurrence until
he heard a faint voice behind him calling breathlessly, "Help, John,
help!" He looked back and saw his comrade nearly fifty yards behind
lying on the ground. Already his fingers were loosening their grip on
the rein and the blood was flowing fast from the gash on his shoulder.
Behind him the Confederate cavalry came thundering along not a quarter
of a mile away while the massed batteries behind them swept the whole
field with a hail of lead and steel. John hesitated for a minute and
for the last time he heard once more the call of help, this time so
faint that he could hardly hear it above the din of the battle. With a
quick movement, he swung his horse to one side of the column.

"Don't be a fool, John," shouted one of the men ahead; "it's every man
for himself now. You can't save him and you'll only lose your own
life."

It was the old plausible lie that started when Satan said of Job, "Skin
for skin, all that a man hath will he give for his life." It was a lie
then and it is just as much a lie to-day.

"Greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for his
friend," said our Master. Every day when the crisis comes we see men
who will do that. Kenyon was one of these men. As he said afterward, "I
should never have been able to get Jim's voice out of my mind if I
hadn't stopped."

It only took an instant to cover the distance from the column to the
wounded man. Kenyon reached him just in time to catch the riderless
horse which had at last freed his bridle from the weak grip of his
wounded master. Kenyon swung himself to the ground and holding the two
plunging horses with his right hand, pulled his friend to his feet and
with a tremendous effort finally hoisted him into his saddle again. By
this time the pursuing cavalry was within pistol-shot and the revolver
bullets began to sing around the heads of the two men.

"You hang on to your saddle, Jim," said Kenyon, "and I'll take care of
your horse."

Bending low in his saddle, he dug his spurs deep into his horse's
sides, at the same time keeping his grip on the reins of the other
horse and in a few minutes the two were back again in the rear of the
retreating column. All through the retreat Kenyon stuck to his comrade
and finally landed him safely in the field-hospital in front of which
the Union Army had thrown up entrenchments which stopped all further
pursuit.

War, like everything else, is always a one-man job. It was the one man
Hannibal that took a tropical army of sunburned Arabs, Carthaginians,
Abyssinians, Berbers and soldiers from half a score of other southern
nations and cut and built and tunneled his way through the ice and snow
and cold of the Alps. Not only did his indomitable will carry his men
through an impossible and unknown region, but it was this one man who
for the first time in the history of the world marched elephants up
over the Alps. Over two thousand years later it was one man again who
took a ragged, battered, beaten army and marched over the same route
and through the avalanches and snow-covered peaks and blinding
snow-storms of the Great Bernard Pass. When the men turned trembling
back from the brink of immeasurable precipices and before cliffs which
seemed as if they could be climbed only by the chamois, Napoleon would
order the drums and bugles to strike up the signal for a charge and up
and over his soldiers went. It was this one short, frail, little man
that fused this army into a great fighting machine, marched it over
impossible mountains and swept down into Italy to win as great
victories as did his fierce predecessor twenty centuries before.

The records of the War Department are full of instances where men
singly did seemingly impossible things. There was Patrick Ginley, a
private in a New York regiment. At Reams Station, Virginia, the command
in which he fought deserted important works which they occupied and
retreated under the tremendous fire of the advancing enemy. Patrick
remained. It seemed impossible that only one man could do anything
except throw away his life, but Patrick made up his mind that he would
accomplish everything that one man could. Accordingly as the enemy
surged up to occupy the works with cheers and laughter at the sight of
the retreating bluecoats, they were suddenly staggered by receiving a
tremendous cannonade of grape-shot which cut down the entire first two
ranks of the approaching company. It was Private Ginley who,
single-handed, had loaded and sighted the gun and coolly waited until
the enemy were within pointblank range. The Confederates were thrown
into confusion. They suspected a Yankee trick and thought that the
retreat had been made simply to lure them into close range. In the
confusion they fell back, although they could have marched in without
any further opposition, for as soon as Ginley had fired the gun, he
escaped out of the rear of the earthworks and hastened to another Union
regiment which was holding its ground near by. Waving his arms over his
head and shouting like a mad-man, he rushed up to the astonished men
and grabbed the colors out of the hands of the bewildered
color-sergeant.

"Come on, boys!" he shouted. "I've got some good guns and a nice bit of
fortification just waitin' for you. Look at the way I drove them back
all by myself."

And he waved the colors toward the shattered Confederates who were
slowly forming into line again preparatory to an assault, and started
back for the works as fast as his legs could carry him.

"Come on, you fellows," he yelled over his shoulder; "do you want me to
drive them back twice?"

His example was all that was needed. There was a cheer from officers
and men alike and close behind him thundered the charge of the
regiment. With a rush they swept up over the earthworks, drove the
Confederates, who had just entered from the other side, out headlong,
manned the whole works and in a minute were pouring charges of grape
and canister from the retaken guns which completed their victory. A
defeat had been changed into a victory, eleven guns and important works
had been retaken from the enemy and a regiment of Confederates
disorganized and driven from the field. One man did it.

The deeds that most appeal to our imagination are single combats--one
man against a multitude when daring and dash and coolness and skill
take the place of numbers. History is full of such stories. We love to
read of that great death-fight of Hereward the Wake, the Last of the
English, when with sturdy little Winter at his back, he fought his last
fight ringed around with hateful, treacherous foes. At his feet the
pile of dead and wounded men grew high and higher until no one dared
step within the sweep of that fatal sword. At last when Winter had
fallen, some treacherous coward thrust a spear into Hereward's
defenseless back. As he lay fallen on his face, apparently dead, one of
his foemen stepped over to rob him of his sword when Hereward struggled
to his knees and struck forward with his shield so fiercely, the last
blow of the last Englishman, that he laid his man dead on the field.

Then there was the death-fight of Grettir the Outlaw which Andrew Lang
calls one of the four great fights in literature of one man against a
multitude. No boy should ever grow up without reading the Grettir Saga
which tells how after being unjustly driven into outlawry Grettir
finally took refuge on a rocky island which could only be climbed by a
rope-ladder. There with his brother and a cowardly, lazy servant he
lived in safety until his enemies hired a witch-wife to do him harm. At
midnight she cut grim runes into a great log of driftwood and burned
strange signs thereon and stained it with her blood and then after
laying upon it many a wicked spell, had it cast into the sea by four
strong men. Against wind and tide it sailed to Drangy, Grettir's island
of refuge. There he found it on the beach, but recognized it as
ill-fated and warned the servant not to use it for fire-wood. In spite
of this the lazy thrall brought it up the next day and when Grettir,
not recognizing it, started to split the accursed log, his axe glanced
and cut a deep gash in his leg. The wound festered and the leg swelled
and turned blue so that Grettir could not even stand on it. When he was
at last disabled, the witch-wife raised a storm and under her direction
a band of his bitterest enemies went out to the island and found that
his servant had left the rope-ladder down. One by one they climbed the
sheer cliff and made a ring around the little hut where Grettir and his
young brother slept. They dashed in the door. Grettir seized his sword
and shield and fought on one knee so fiercely that they dared not
approach him. Some of the attackers tried to slip behind his watchful
sword.

"Bare is the back of the brotherless," panted Grettir and his
boy-brother stood behind him and fought over him until they were both
overborne by the sheer weight of heavy shields, and Grettir killed,
although not until six men lay dead in front of the great chieftain.
Illugi, the brother, was offered his life if he would promise to take
no vengeance on the murderers of his brother. He refused to do this
because they had killed Grettir by witchcraft and treachery and not in
fair fight. So they slew him, trying in vain to avoid the vengeance
which came to them all many years later at the hands of another of
Grettir's kin.

We read also of battles won against what seem to us impossible odds.
The Samurai stories of old Japan have several instances where
chieftains defeated whole armies single-handed by their wonderful
swordsmanship. The Bible contains several such stories. There is the
story of Jonathan and his armor-bearer who together captured a
fortress. Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armor, "Come and
let us go over unto the garrison. It may be that the Lord will work for
us." And his armor-bearer said unto him, "Do all that is in thine
heart, behold I am with thee." Then they agreed to wait for a sign. If
when they came before the garrison the men should invite them to come
up, then they would go. If not, they would not make the attempt. The
account goes on to say that when they both discovered themselves unto
the garrison of the Philistines, the men of the garrison cried out to
Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, "Come up to us and we will show
you a thing." And Jonathan said unto his armor-bearer, "Come up after
me for the Lord hath delivered them to us." And Jonathan climbed up
upon his hands and upon his feet and his armor-bearer after him and
they fell before Jonathan and his armor-bearer slew after him. In a
half-acre of ground which a yoke of oxen might plough, these two fought
and slew and cut their way back and forth until the band that held the
fort broke and fled and the stronghold was captured by the two.

Then there was Jashobeam the Hachmonite, one of the first three men of
David's body-guard of heroes who slew with his spear three hundred men
at one time. There was Eleazar, who with David fought in that bloody
barley field when these two warriors single-handed dispersed a company
of Philistines. There was Abishai who slew three hundred men. These
were the three mighty men who were besieged with David in the cave of
Adullam in the midst of a parched and burning desert and David longed
and said, "Oh, that one would give me to drink of the water of the well
of Bethlehem that is at the gate." The three heard what their captain
said and alone they broke through the ranks of the Philistines, drew
water out of the well of Bethlehem and brought it back to David. And
David did not drink of it, but poured it out to the Lord and said,
"Lord forbid that I should drink the blood of these men that have put
their lives in jeopardy for me."

When we read these and other hero-stories, we are apt to think that the
time for such deeds is past and that the men of to-day can never equal
the accomplishments of the fighters of olden time. Yet the Civil War
shows stories just as stirring and accomplishments seemingly as
impossible. There was George Wilhelm, a captain in the Ohio Infantry.
At Bakers Creek he was badly wounded in the breast and after he had
fallen was captured by a Confederate, forced to his feet and though
faint from loss of blood marched to the Confederate camp. As he saw
himself farther and farther away from his own army a Berserkir rage
came over him which made him forget his wound and his weakness. With
one tremendous spring he caught his captor around the neck, wrested his
drawn sabre from out of his hand, slashed him over the left shoulder
and then picking up the loaded revolver which had dropped from the
disabled hand faced him around and marched him back to the Union lines
a prisoner although, toward the end of that journey, Wilhelm was so
weak that he had to lean on the shoulder of his unwilling attendant.

There was William G. Whitney a sergeant in the 11th Michigan Infantry,
at the battle of Chickamauga who, just as his men were about to face a
fierce charge from the Confederates, found that their ammunition had
given out. Outside the Union works was a shell-swept field covered with
dead and wounded men. Whitney never hesitated. He leaped over the works
and ran back and forth over that field, cutting off and loading himself
down with cartridge-boxes, although it did not seem as if a man could
live a minute in that hissing storm of bullets and shell. Just in time
he brought back the ammunition which enabled his men to beat back the
charge and hold their position.

At Rappahannock Station, Virginia, J. Henry White, a private in the
90th Pennsylvania Infantry, like David's men brought back water to his
thirsty comrades at the risk of his own life. The enemy had
concentrated their fire on the only spring from which Union men could
get water, but White crawled through the grass like a snake, covered
from head to foot with canteens, filled them every one and crawled back
under a fire which seemed as if it must be fatal. The Union forces were
able to hold out and win the fight through his brave deed.

On May 12, 1864, Christopher W. Wilson, a private in the 73d New York
Infantry at the battle of Spottsylvania in a charge on the Confederate
works, seized the flag which the wounded color-bearer had dropped, led
the charge and then for good measure cut down the color-bearer of the
56th Virginia Regiment, captured the Confederate colors and brought
back both flags in safety to the Union lines.

Another color-bearer who won his share of battle-glory was Andrew J.
Tozier, a sergeant in the 20th Maine Infantry at the battle of
Gettysburg. Tozier believed that it was the duty of a color-bearer
having done all to stand fast. At the very flood-tide of the fight when
it was a toss-up which side would be the victor of that crisis-battle
of the war, Tozier's regiment, which was in the forefront, was borne
back leaving him standing with the colors in an advanced position.
Tozier stood there like a rock and coolly picked off with his musket
every Confederate that attacked him until his ammunition gave out. He
then pushed forward a few yards until he reached the body of one of the
soldiers of his regiment who had fallen and stooping down, still
keeping his colors flying, he managed to loosen some cartridges from
the dead man's belt. With these he recharged his rifle and fought a
great fight alone. Again and again he would stoop for a minute to get
more cartridges, but the flag never went down. From all over the field
the officers from the scattered regiment rallied their men and hurried
toward the colors and just as a Confederate troop thundered down on
Tozier, intending to ride over him and carry away the precious flag,
from every part of the field little squads of fighting men reached him
in time to pour in a volley that saved the colors which Tozier for many
minutes had been protecting single-handed. That was the turning-point
of this part of the battle. The Maine regiment pressed on and never
retreated a foot again through all those days of terrible fighting.
Tozier was one of the many men who saved that day for the Union by
being brave in the face of tremendous odds.

Freeman C. Thompson of the 116th Ohio Infantry won his medal of honor
at Petersburg, Virginia. On April 2, 1865, the Union forces were
storming Fort Gregg. Both sides had poured in murderous volleys at
short range and then had rushed to close quarters, fighting desperately
with bayonet and butt. Thompson scrambled up on his hands and knees,
but had no more reached the parapet when he was knocked off it headlong
by a tremendous blow on the head from a clubbed musket. When he
returned to consciousness he found himself lying in the ditch with two
dead men on top of him. Thompson made up his mind that this was not the
kind of company which he ought to keep and springing to his feet, he
started again for the parapet. This time he was more fortunate for he
gained a footing and managed to bayonet the first man who attacked him,
but before he could withdraw the bayonet, once again he received a
tremendous smash full in the face from a clubbed musket and went clear
over backward with a broken nose. He struck on the heap of bodies from
which he had just emerged and though not unconscious, lay for a few
minutes unable to move. Finally he managed to wipe the blood out from
his eyes and spit out the blood and broken teeth from his battered
mouth. Some men would have felt that they had had enough, but not so
with this one. For the third and last time he scrambled up and as he
reached the edge of the parapet caught sight of the man who was
responsible for his battered face. Thompson rushed at him and there was
a battle royal between the two, bayonet to bayonet, but Thompson at
last by a trick of fence which he had learned, suddenly reversed his
musket and smashed the heavy butt down on his opponent's right forearm,
breaking the latter's grip on his own weapon. Before he could recover,
Thompson's bayonet had passed through his throat and Thompson himself
had gained a foothold within the works. Shoulder to shoulder he fought
with the rest of his comrades in spite of the streaming blood and only
stopped when the garrison surrendered.

It is a brave man in civil life that will give up his vacation and it
takes a hero to relinquish a furlough, that precious breathing spell
away from battles and hardships back at home with his dear ones. Martin
Schubert, a private in the 26th New York Infantry, had gained this
respite and had paid for it by his wounds. Hearing that his regiment
was about to go into battle again at Fredericksburg, he gave up his
furlough, hurried back to the front and fought fiercely through all
that brave day. Six men of his regiment, one after the other, had been
shot down that fatal afternoon while carrying the colors. Schubert,
although he already had one half-healed and one open wound, seized the
flag when it went down for the last time and carried it to the front
until the very end of the battle, although he received an extra wound
for doing it. Thirty-one years later he received a medal of honor for
that day's work.

It is easier to save a wounded friend or wounded comrade than a wounded
enemy. He who dares death to save one whom he is fighting against shows
courage of the highest type. Such a deed occurred during the battle of
Chancellorsville. Those four fatal May-days were filled as full of
brave deeds as any days of the Civil War. Though General Hooker, the
Union general, flinched and lost not only the battle, but forever his
name of Fighting Joe Hooker, his men gave up only when they were
outflanked and out-fought and unsupported.

Elisha B. Seaman was a private in one of the regiments which was
surprised and attacked by the twenty-six thousand infantry of Stonewall
Jackson, the best fighters in the Confederate Army. The Union men were
not suspecting any danger. Word had been sent a number of times both to
Hooker and to General Howard who commanded the eleventh corps under him
that Jackson was crossing through the woods to make a flank-attack.
Neither general would believe the message. Both were sure that Jackson
was in retreat. When the attack came the Union troops were attacked in
front and from the flank and rear at once. They held their ground for a
time, but they were new troops and even veterans could not have long
sustained such an assault. At first they attempted to make an orderly
retreat, but the Confederates pressed on them so close and fought so
fiercely that the retreat became a run and the corps of which Seaman's
regiment was a part was not rallied until they met reinforcements far
over in the wilderness and gradually came to a halt and threw up
defenses. There they were too strong to be driven back further by the
Confederates and managed to hold their ground although attacked again
and again. After the last attack the Confederate forces withdrew and
took up a strong position on the Union front, brought up artillery and
opened up a tremendous rifle-fire mingled with the cannonade from all
their available batteries, hoping to throw the Union forces into
disorder so that they would not stand another charge. During the
fiercest of the fire while every man was keeping close under cover,
Seaman's attention was caught by the sight of a Confederate officer who
lay writhing in terrible agony not a hundred yards outside of the Union
lines. He had been shot through the body in the last charge and had
been left on the field by the retreating Confederates. The pain was
unbearable. Seaman could see his face all distorted and although not a
sound came through the clenched teeth, the poor fellow could not
control the agonized twitching and jerking of his tortured muscles.
Seaman tried to turn his face away from the sight, but each time his
eyes came back to that brave man in torment out in front of him. At
last he could stand it no longer. He slipped back to the rear and got
hold of a surgeon.

"Doctor," he said, "there's a fellow out in front pretty badly wounded.
If I get him to you, do you think you can ease his pain?"

"I certainly can," said the surgeon, "but judging from the noise out
there in front, you'll lie out there with him if you go beyond the
breastworks."

"You get your chloroform ready," said Seaman, "and I'll get the man."

A few minutes later Elisha was seen by his astonished comrades crawling
along the bullet-torn turf on his way to the wounded man.

"Hi there, come back, you lump-head!" yelled his bunkie. "Don't you see
the fellow is a Reb? You'll get killed."

"I wouldn't let a dog suffer the way that fellow's suffering," yelled
back Elisha, waddling along on his hands and knees like a woodchuck. He
finally reached the officer, forced a little whiskey into his mouth and
prepared to lift him up on his back.

"Cheer up, old man," he said. "I've got a good surgeon back there who
says he can fix you up. If I can only get you on my back, we'll be safe
in a minute."

"You'll be safe enough," gasped the other somewhat ungratefully, Seaman
thought, "but there will be a dozen bullets through me."

There seemed to be something in that statement. Elisha decided that it
would be a cruel kindness to turn this man into a target for the
bullets which were coming across the field and make him act as his
involuntary shield.

"I'll tell you what I'll do, General," Seaman said finally; "I'll get
you up and then I'll back down to our lines. If any one gets hit, it'll
be me.

He was as good as his word. Although the wounded officer was a large
man, Seaman got a fireman's-lift on him, swung him over his shoulders
and then facing the Confederate lines, slowly backed his way toward
safety. At first the Confederate fire redoubled as the men in gray
thought that he was simply effecting the capture of one of their men.
When, however, they realized that he was protecting one of their own
officers from their fire with his own body, all along the line the
fusillade of musketry died down and there came down the wind in its
place the sound of a storm of cheers which swept from one end of the
Confederate position to the other. Seaman covered the last fifty yards
of his dangerous journey without a shot being fired at him except the
shot and shell from the batteries which were being worked too far back
for the gunners to know what was going on. The surgeon with whom he had
spoken had been attracted to the front by the shouts and cheers both
from the Confederate lines and from Seaman's own comrades and was the
first to help him over the breastworks.

"You're a great fool," he said. "I thought you were talking about one
of our men, but so long as you brought this poor Reb in at the risk of
your life, I'll certainly cure him."

And he did.

Another man whose courage flared up superior to wounds and mutilation
and who was brave enough to do his duty in spite of the agony he was
suffering, was Corporal Miles James, who on September 30, 1864, at
Chapins Farm, Virginia, with the rest of his company was attacking the
enemy's works. They had charged up to within thirty yards of the
fortifications when they were met by a murderous storm of grape and
canister, the enemy having held their fire until the very last moment.
A grape-shot cut through Corporal James' left arm just above the elbow,
smashing right through the middle of the bone and cutting the arm half
off so that it dangled by the severed muscles. The force of the blow
whirled James around like a top and he fell over to the ground, but was
on his feet again in an instant and started for the Confederate line
like the bulldog that he was.

"Go back, Corporal," shouted one of his men. "Your arm's half off and
you'll bleed to death."

"No I won't," yelled James; "my right arm is my fighting-arm anyway."

"Let me tie you up then," said the man, pulling him to the ground where
the rest of the regiment lay flat on their faces waiting for the storm
to pass so that they might charge again. "There's plenty of time."

An examination of the arm showed that it was past saving.

"Corporal," said the other, "you had better let me take this arm right
off. I can make a quick job with my bowie-knife and bandage it. If I
don't you'll bleed to death."

"All right," said Miles; "go ahead."

A minute later the amateur surgeon tied the last knot in the bandage
which he had made out of a couple of bandanna handkerchiefs which had
been contributed by others of the file.

"Now, Corporal," he said, coaxingly, "let me get you back where you can
lie down and rest."

"No," said Corporal James, "the only resting I'm going to do will be
inside those works."

He reached back for the Springfield rifle which he had dropped when
first struck and fitting it carefully to his right shoulder, fired a
well-aimed shot at a Confederate gunner who was serving one of the
cannons on the breastworks. As the man toppled over the corporal smiled
grimly and in spite of offers of help from all sides, loaded and fired
his gun twice again. By this time the fire had died down and the
corporal suddenly sprang to his feet and started for the breastworks.

"Hurry up, fellows," he shouted to his men; "don't let a one-armed man
do all the work."

With a tremendous cheer the whole force sprang again to their feet and
swarmed over the ramparts in a rush which there was no stopping. James
was right with them, two of his men hoisting and pushing him up, for he
found that although he could shoot, it was more difficult to climb with
one arm. As the last Confederates who were left surrendered, James sat
down against one of the captured cannon and smiled wanly at the man who
had helped him and said:

"Now I'll take a rest and later on I'll go to the rear with you if you
like."

This he did and a regular surgeon completed an operation which he said
had, under the circumstances, been most efficiently performed. Corporal
James always said that the medal of honor which the government gave him
was worth far more than the arm which he gave the government.

In the days of David there came a great famine. Year after year the
crops failed and the people starved. At last the priests and
soothsayers told David that this doom had fallen upon the nation
because of a broken oath. Many centuries before Joshua, one of the
great generals of the world, was fighting his way into the Promised
Land. He was contending with huge black giant tribes like the Anakim,
and against blue-eyed Amorite mountaineers with their war-chariots of
iron, whose five kings he was to utterly destroy on that great day when
he said in the sight of the host of Israel, "Sun, stand thou still upon
Gibeon and thou Moon in the valley of Ajalon," and the sun stood still
and the moon stayed until the people had revenged themselves upon their
enemies. He had captured the fortified city of Jericho and had razed it
to the ground and laid that terrible curse which was afterward
fulfilled on the man who should again lay the foundation and rebuild
the city. He had destroyed the city of Ai, little but inhabited by
fierce fighters who had hurled back even the numberless hordes of
Israel. The terror and the dread of the invaders had spread through the
length and breadth of the land. On the slopes of Mount Hermon lived the
Hivites. They were not great in war, but like the men of Tyre they
asked to be let alone to carry on the trade and commerce in which they
were so expert. Not far away from Ai was their chief city of Gibeon and
the elders of that city planned to obtain from Joshua safety by
stratagem. They sent embassadors whose skin bottles were old and rent
and bound up and whose shoes were worn through and clouted and whose
garments were old and worn and their provision dry and mouldy. These
came to Joshua pretending to be embassadors from a far country who
desired to make a league with them. Not knowing that their city was in
the very path of his march, Joshua and the princes of the congregation
made peace with them. Later on they found that they had been deceived,
but the word of the nation had been passed and the sworn peace could
not be broken. So it happened from that day that the Gibeonites became
hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and lived in
peace with the Israelites under their sworn protection. The centuries
passed and at last Saul, the first king of Israel, began his reign. In
spite of the oath of his forefathers, he slew the Gibeonites and sought
to root them out of the land. It was this broken oath that had brought
upon the nation the years of famine and suffering. Under the advice of
their priests David sent for the remnants of the Gibeonites and asked
them what atonement could be made for the cruel and treacherous deed of
King Saul who had long been dead, but whose sin lived on after him. The
Gibeonites said that they would have no silver or gold of Saul or of
his house, but demanded that seven men of the race of Saul be delivered
unto them. It was done and they hung these seven prisoners as a
vengeance on the bloody house of Saul. Two of them were the sons of
Rizpah whom she bore unto Saul, the king. When they were hanged, she
took sackcloth and spread it on the rocks and guarded those bodies
night and day and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest upon
them by day or the beasts of the field by night. Sleeplessly she
guarded all that was left of her sons until the news of her
faithfulness was brought to David, who gave back to her the bodies for
burial and for the last rites of sepulchre and sanctuary which mean so
much to all believers.

In the Civil War at Cold Harbor, Virginia, Sergeant LeRoy Williams of
the 8th New York Artillery, like Rizpah, saved the body of his dead
colonel and brought it back at the risk of his own life for honored
burial. During that terrible battle in one of the charges of his
regiment, his colonel was shot down close to the enemy's lines. When
the shattered remnants of the regiment rallied again after they had
been driven back by the entrenched Confederates, it was found that the
colonel was missing. Williams had a profound admiration and affection
for his colonel. When he found he was missing, he took an oath before
the men that were left that he would find him and bring him in dead or
alive. All the rest of that weary afternoon he crept back and forth
over the battle-field exposed to the fire of the enemy's
sharp-shooters. Again and again his life was saved almost by a miracle,
so close did the well-directed bullets strike. Finally just at twilight
close to the enemy's lines he found his colonel. He lay as he had
fallen, facing the entrenchments which he had fought so hard to win,
with a bullet through his heart. Within a few feet of where he lay the
Confederate pickets were stationed who watched the field and fired at
the least suspicious movement. Just as Williams identified the body, he
saw one of the sentries approaching in the dusk and had just time to
throw himself down with outstretched arms beside the dead officer when
the guard was upon him. Something in his attitude aroused the man's
suspicions and he prodded Williams in the back with his bayonet.
Fortunately the sharp steel struck him glancingly and only inflicted a
shallow wound and Williams had the presence of mind and the fortitude
to lie perfectly quiet without a motion or a sound to indicate that he
lived. The sentry passed on convinced that only dead men lay before
him. Williams waited until it became perfectly dark and started to drag
in the dead body of his officer. Inch by inch he crept away from the
enemy's lines in the darkness until he was far enough away so that his
movements could not be seen. All that weary night he dragged and
carried the rescued body of the dead officer until just at dawn he
brought it within the Union lines to receive the honors of a military
funeral.

Space fails to tell of the many brave deeds which gleam through the
blood of many a hard-fought field and shine against the blackness of
many a dark defeat. There was David L. Smith, a sergeant in Battery E
of the 1st New York Light Artillery, who, when a shell struck an
ammunition chest in his battery, exploding a number of cartridges and
setting fire to the packing tow, instead of running away from the
exploding cartridges which threatened every minute to set fire to the
fuses of some of the great shells, had the coolness and the courage to
bring a bucket of water and put out the flames as quietly as if he were
banking a camp-fire for the night.

There was Isaac Redlon, a private in the 27th Maine Infantry, who
shortly before the battle of Chickamauga was put under arrest for a
gross breach of discipline. Isaac saw a chance to wipe out the disgrace
which he had incurred. Instead of staying at the rear with the wounded
and other men under arrest, he managed to get hold of a rifle and
fought through the two terrible days of that disastrous battle. So
bravely did he fight, so cool was he under fire and so quick to carry
out and to anticipate every order that was given, that when the battle
was at last over, his captain decided that not only had Redlon wiped
out the memory of his former misdoing, but that he had earned the medal
which was afterward awarded to him.

Another man whose bravery wiped out his mistakes was Colonel Louis P.
DiCesnola of the 4th New York Cavalry. On June 17, 1863, he was under
arrest when the battle was joined at Aldie, Virginia. It was the
bitterest day that the colonel had ever known when in the guard-house
he watched his regiment go into action without him. He felt that he had
ruined his whole career and that his life through his folly and
hot-headedness was a complete failure. There was granted to him,
however, as there is to all of us, the opportunity to make amends.
While he was still moodily watching the progress of the battle,
suddenly he saw the men, whom he had so often led, waver. Then
stragglers began to slip back through the lines and suddenly the whole
regiment was in full retreat. Colonel DiCesnola did not hesitate a
moment.

"Open that door," he said to the guard. "I'll show those fellows how to
fight and I'll come back when it's all over."

Without a word the sentry unlocked the door and the colonel rushed out
just in time to meet the first rank of the flying men. Almost the first
man that he met was the officer who had taken his place, riding the
colonel's own horse. DiCesnola gripped the animal by the bridle.

"Get off that horse," he shouted, "and let some one ride him who knows
which way to go. He's not used to retreating," and before his
bewildered successor could answer, he was hurled out of the saddle and
Colonel DiCesnola was on the back of his own horse.

"About face, charge!" he thundered to his men. Most of them recognized
his voice and the familiar figure that so often led them and without
hesitating a moment, wheeled about and followed him toward the front.
Every few yards his troop was increased by men who were ashamed to ride
to the rear when they saw him charging to the front unarmed but waving
his hat and cheering them on. Before the Confederates could realize
what had happened they were fairly hurled off their feet by the
tremendous rush of hurtling men and horses. Of all the attacks which
are hard to withstand, the charge of a body of men who have rallied and
are trying to wipe out the shame of their retreat is most to be feared.
It was so here. Although the Confederates fought hard nothing could
hold back the rush of this cavalry regiment. They were led by their own
colonel who though unarmed stayed in the forefront of the battle. As
they finally broke through the Confederate line, a burly cavalryman
slashed at him with his sabre. Colonel DiCesnola stooped low to avoid
the cut, but the point of the sabre caught him on the right shoulder
and ripped deep into his chest while almost at the same moment he
received a pistol shot in his left arm which broke it. Unable to hold
the reins, he slipped forward and would have fallen to the ground, but
was held in his saddle by his first assailant who forced his horse up
close beside the colonel's and dashed back through the Confederate
lines carrying DiCesnola and his magnificent horse. There the colonel
was made prisoner, but was carefully nursed and by the time that he had
recovered his strength, was exchanged and rejoined his old regiment. He
reported to his general as still under arrest.

"You are mistaken," said the latter. "I saw the way you rallied your
men that day and when you were reported missing, we thought you had
been killed. The charges against you are dismissed and your record is
just as clean as it ever was and your old regiment is waiting for you."

The story of William W. Noyes, a private in the 2d Vermont Infantry,
and his charmed life is still told by the veterans who fought at
Spottsylvania. On that day the madness of battle came over him. When
that happens, life has no value except to spend it for the cause for
which one is fighting. Noyes' regiment had charged up to the
breastworks of the enemy from which was poured into the attacking
forces tremendous volleys. Noyes had charged with the others, but when
they stopped to rally at the breastworks preparatory to forcing them,
Noyes never paused. Right up the parapet he scrambled and stood on top
of the breastworks with his musket in full range of a thousand men.
Taking deliberate aim he shot the man just below him who was aiming his
gun at him not more than two yards away. In full sight of both armies
he stood there and loaded and fired no less than fifteen shots. Not one
of them missed its mark. It was in vain that the men all around him who
were exposed to his fire shot at him. The bullets cut through his
clothing, carried off his cap and one stripped the sights off his rifle
and ricochetted off the hammer itself, but not a wound did he receive.
His example spurred his comrades on and in a few minutes the whole
regiment struggled over the earthworks and drove out the garrison.

Joseph von Matre, a private in the 116th Ohio Infantry, did the same
thing at Petersburg on April 2, 1865, during the assault on Fort Gregg.
He climbed up the parapet and fired down into the fort as fast as his
comrades could pass up to him loaded guns. No bullet could harm him and
single-handed he drove the men out of that embrasure after killing
several and forced a gap which was filled by the men who climbed up
when he shouted down to them what he had done.

This chronicle of brave deeds would not be complete without the stories
of the men who were brave enough to disregard all odds either in
numbers or in circumstances. There was Delano Morey, a private in the
82d Ohio Infantry, who at McDowell, Virginia, found himself, after the
charge of the Confederates had been repulsed, with an empty gun and no
ammunition. Just in front of him were two of the enemy's sharp-shooters
who had been picking off the Union officers all through the charge.
Each of them was a dead shot and each of them had a loaded gun.
Menacing them both with his empty piece, Morey rushed forward and
called on them to surrender. The superb confidence of the man was too
much for them and without a word each of them handed him his loaded
rifle and walked meekly back with him as prisoners to the Union lines.

There was Frank W. Mills, a sergeant in a New York regiment, who while
scouting at Sandy Cross Roads in North Carolina, with only three or
four men under him, suddenly came upon a whole troop of the enemy.
Without orders and seemingly without the possibility of succeeding,
Mills charged down upon the Confederates at the head of his regiment,
consisting of four men. Courage took the place of numbers. The
Confederates scattered like sheep and Mills and his men rounded up no
less than one hundred and twenty prisoners who stacked their arms and
marched obediently into the Union lines.

Augustus Merrill, a captain in the 1st Maine Infantry, performed a
similar feat at Petersburg when with six men he captured sixty-nine
Confederate prisoners and recaptured and released a number of Union
soldiers whom they had made prisoners.

The 4th of May, 1863, was a great day for John P. McVean, a corporal in
the 49th Infantry. On that day at Fredericksburg Heights, Virginia, he
fought at the forefront of his company and when the order to charge was
given, outstripped them all, reached the Confederate lines entirely
alone, shot down the Confederate color-bearer, seized the colors and
fought back all attempts to retake them until his comrades could come
to his assistance. Later in the day he showed that he could be just as
brave away from the inspiration and excitement of battle. Between the
lines stood a barn which was occupied by a number of Confederate
sharp-shooters who were greatly annoying the Union forces by picking
off men at every opportunity. McVean's captain finally ordered his men
to charge on the barn and drive them out.

"Wait a minute, Captain," said the corporal; "I believe I can make
those fellows surrender without losing any men. Let me try anyway."

Without waiting for the captain to reply, the corporal laid down his
gun and alone and unarmed and beckoning as he walked with his hand
toward the barn, started for the sharp-shooters. Seeing that he was not
armed they allowed him to come within speaking distance.

"I have come to take you men prisoners," he said positively; "we don't
want to kill you, but if you don't come now, we are going to charge and
this is your last chance."

The men inside hesitated a minute, but there was such an air of supreme
confidence about McVean that first one and then another and then the
whole band of twelve men marched out and followed him back to the Union
lines. Once more a brave man had accomplished the impossible.

There were no braver men in all the Union Army than were found in the
ranks of the different batteries whose guns did so much to bring about
the final victory of the Union arms. The courage of our cannoneers, men
who saved the guns in spite of every attack and who often saved them in
many a defeat, has never been surpassed. The affection of a gunner for
the piece which he has manned and served in many a hard-fought battle
is like that which a cavalryman has for his horse. Like the rider, the
crew of a battery will risk all to save their gun. At Wilson's Creek,
Missouri, on August 10, 1861, Nicholas Broquet, a private in one of the
Iowa batteries, showed the spirit that was in him when the gun that he
was serving was disabled. The battery-horses had been shot down, all
the crew except himself had been killed by the tremendous fire of the
enemy and across the field appeared a detachment of the enemy's forces
sent to capture the gun. Broquet cut the traces of the dead horses,
rushed out between the lines in the face of a fierce fire and succeeded
in catching a riderless horse. He rode the animal back to the gun, made
him fast to it and just as the enemy's detachment was close upon him,
rode off in safety, trundling the rescued gun behind him.

John F. Chase was a cannoneer of the same stamp. At Chancellorsville he
was serving as a private in a Maine battery. A shell from one of the
enemy's guns struck down the officers and killed or disabled every man
of the battery except Chase and one other. They manned the gun, sighted
it as best they could and fired three rounds at the approaching enemy.
Then as the horses had been killed and it was certain that the gun
would be captured in a few minutes, they fastened themselves to the
traces and tugged away until they got the gun in motion. Although it
was a heavy one which ordinarily took two horses to drag it, yet these
two actually pulled the gun across the rough field safe to the main
line of the Union forces and saved it from capture.

Three of the most spectacular deeds of the whole war were those of
Lieutenant Thomas W. Custer, Private Samuel E. Eddy and Adjutant Eugene
W. Ferris. Custer was a lieutenant in the 6th Michigan Cavalry and was
present at the spirited engagement at Sailors Creek, Virginia, when the
Union forces attacked the entrenched Confederates. Custer's company
charged in the face of a heavy fire on the enemy's works. When they
reached the entrenchments the order was received to dismount and to
continue the charge on foot. Custer was riding a thorough-bred and
preferred to continue the charge on horseback. Spurring his horse up to
the lowest part of the ramparts, he actually leaped him over and landed
in the very midst of the astonished defenders. Making a dash for the
color-bearer, Custer cut him down, seized the colors and wheeled and
galloped right through the demoralized men to the other end of the
works, intending to capture the colors displayed there. As he broke
through the ranks of the defenders for the second time, a volley of
straggling shots was fired at him. One bullet pierced his thigh and two
more struck his horse, killing the latter instantly. Custer rolled over
and over with the struggling animal, managed to pull himself loose and
still clinging to the captured colors, with the blood streaming down
his leg, rushed at the last color-bearer, shot him down with his
revolver and seized his colors and with his back to the rampart, fought
off all attempts to rescue them. A moment later his companions climbed
over the earthworks and rescued him just as he was on the point of
fainting from loss of blood.

Eddy was a private in the 37th Massachusetts Infantry and on April 6,
1865, was present at the battle of Sailors Creek, Virginia. While his
regiment was fighting desperately to hold their position, Eddy saw that
his adjutant lay wounded far out beyond their lines. A little
detachment of Confederate soldiers approached and to Eddy's horror, he
saw them deliberately shoot down several of the wounded Union men. One
of them approached the adjutant to whom Eddy was much attached. He
could not bear to see him killed without at least attempting to rescue
him and he at once rushed out beyond the protection of his own line. As
he approached the adjutant, he saw the leader of the Confederate
attachment in the act of taking aim at the wounded officer. Eddy was an
excellent shot and at once knelt down and took rapid but accurate aim
and killed the Confederate just as he was on the point of firing. He
ran forward to his adjutant, but there he encountered three
Confederates and had a hand-to-hand bayonet fight with them. Eddy was a
man of tremendous strength and reach and managed to kill one of his
assailants and severely wound another. While he was so engaged,
however, the third ran him through the body with his bayonet and pinned
him to the ground. While the enemy was struggling to disengage his
bayonet for another fatal thrust, Eddy, by a last desperate effort,
managed to slip a cartridge into his gun and just as his opponent was
aiming a deadly stab at his throat, shot him through the body. Then
wounded as he was, he staggered to his feet and half-carried,
half-dragged the wounded adjutant back to the safety of the Union lines
where they were both nursed back to health and strength.

Ferris was an adjutant in the 30th Massachusetts Infantry. On April 1,
1865, at Berryville, Virginia, accompanied only by an orderly, he was
riding outside the Union lines when he was attacked by five of Mosby's
guerrillas. It was not the custom of Mosby's men either to ask or give
quarter or to take prisoners. Ferris who was well mounted could
probably have escaped, but would have had to leave his orderly behind,
as the latter's horse was a slow one. Accordingly, although both the
men were armed only with sabres, Ferris made up his mind to fight to
the death. Without waiting to be attacked, he spurred his horse at the
guerrilla-leader and suddenly executing a demi-volte which is only
effective when performed by a good sabre and a trained horse, he
whirled like lightning and caught his opponent such a tremendous
back-handed slash that he cut him almost to the saddle. As the man
toppled over, Ferris slipped one arm around his waist and managed to
unbuckle his pistol-belt and seize both of his pistols. He then at once
engaged with another one of the band and while parrying and thrusting,
saw out of the tail of his eye a third man aiming a revolver at him
only a few yards away. Parrying a thrust from his opponent in front,
Ferris simultaneously fired with the other hand. Although Ferris was
shooting with his left hand, his bullet killed his opponent while the
Confederate's fire struck Ferris just above the left knee, inflicting a
painful but not dangerous flesh-wound. Ferris pressed his opponent in
front still more vigorously and finally succeeded in wounding him so
severely that he turned and bolted, leaving Ferris free to go to the
rescue of his orderly, who had been putting up a good fight against the
other two of the band. Ferris reached him just in time. He had been
wounded twice and though fighting bravely, one of his antagonists had
managed to reach a position in his rear. There was not much time for
Ferris to do anything with his sabre. Everything must depend upon a
pistol shot. Stopping his horse, he drew his remaining pistol, took
careful aim and shot the man behind his orderly through the body just
as the latter had his sabre uplifted for a last blow at the
hardly-pressed Union officer. The remaining guerrilla, who had already
been slightly wounded by the orderly, wheeled his horse and rode off
leaving the two Union men in possession of the field and the spoils of
war, consisting of two capital pistols and a magnificent riderless
horse which they brought back with them.

One of the most devoted deeds of courage in the war is chronicled last.
On July 21, 1861, the first great battle of the war was fought at Bull
Run, Virginia, not far from the federal capital. It was a disastrous
day. Unorganized, commanded by inexperienced officers, that battle soon
became the shameful rout which for a long time was the basis of the
belief throughout the South that one Southerner could whip four
Northerners.

Charles J. Murphy was quartermaster on that day in the 38th New York
Infantry. It was not his business to fight. He was there to feed and
look after his men and it was no more his duty to join the battle than
that of the surgeons, the band, or any of the other non-combatants
which accompany a regiment. When, however, he saw the masses of beaten,
discouraged, panic-stricken men straggling back, Murphy made up his
mind that the rear was no place for him. Seizing a rifle which one of
the retreating men had thrown away, he rushed forward and did all that
one man could to stop the retreat, fighting as long and as hard as he
could. It was beyond his power. His regiment were bewildered, confused
and broke and fled like sheep, leaving hundreds of wounded men on the
field. Murphy made up his mind that he would have no part or lot in
this rout and also that he would not desert his wounded comrades, for
in those days there were terrible tales rife of how the Confederates
treated wounded soldiers. The Union fighters had not yet learned that
their antagonists were the same brave, fair fighters that they were.
Murphy stayed behind. When the victorious Confederate forces marched
down the field, they found it held by one man who was giving water to
the wounded and doing his clumsy best to staunch the flowing blood from
many a ghastly wound.

"Do you surrender?" shouted the first officer who approached him.

"Not if you are going to hurt these wounded men," said Murphy, bringing
his bayonet into position.

"We will take just as good care of them as we will of our own," the
officer assured him, and only on this assurance did Murphy surrender.
He spent years in Rebel prisons, but no prison could ever take away
from him the recollection that he alone had refused to retreat on that
disastrous day and that he had risked his life and given up his liberty
to save his wounded comrades.

So ends, with these little stories of sudden hero-acts wrought by
commonplace men in a matter-of-fact manner, this chronicle of a few of
the many, many brave deeds done by our forefathers in a war that was
fought for an ideal. Read them, boys and girls, in these war-days that
we may remember anew the lessons which the lives and deaths of our kin
hold for us. If the day ever comes when we too must fight for ideals
which other nations have forgotten or have trampled upon, may we show
ourselves worthy of the great heritage of honor which our forefathers
have handed down to us.





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