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Title: Cease firing
Author: Johnston, Mary
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cease firing" ***

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                          Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_. Bold and other
fonts are delimited with '='.

Illustrations and maps are indicated as [Illustration: caption], and
have been positioned to fall between paragraphs.

Minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected. Please
see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for details regarding
the handling of any textual issues encountered during its preparation.

[Illustration:

  THE MISSISSIPPI FROM
  Memphis TO New Orleans
]

[Illustration:

  FROM
  CHATTANOOGA
  TO
  ATLANTA
]

                          =By Mary Johnston=

                                -------

   =THE LONG ROLL.= The first of two books dealing with the war
  between the States. With Illustrations in color by N.C. WYETH.

   =CEASE FIRING.= The second of two books dealing with the war
  between the States. With Illustrations in color by N.C. WYETH.

   =LEWIS RAND.= With Illustrations in color by F.C. YOHN.

   =AUDREY.= With Illustrations in color by F.C. YOHN.

   =PRISONERS OF HOPE.= With Frontispiece.

   =TO HAVE AND TO HOLD.= With 8 Illustrations by HOWARD PYLE, E.B.
  THOMPSON, A.W. BETTS, and EMLEN MCCONNELL.

                                -------

   =THE GODDESS OF REASON.= _A Drama._

                         HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
                           BOSTON AND NEW YORK

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CEASE FIRING



------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Illustration: THE ROAD TO VIDALIA]

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                              CEASE FIRING

                             BY MARY JOHNSTON

                            WITH ILLUSTRATIONS

                              BY N.C. WYETH

[Illustration]

                         HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
                        BOSTON AND NEW YORK :: THE
                        RIVERSIDE PRESS CAMBRIDGE
                                   1912



                    COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY MARY JOHNSTON
                           ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

                        _Published November 1912_

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                           =To the Memory of=

                          JOHN WILLIAM JOHNSTON
                        MAJOR OF ARTILLERY, C.S.A.

                                  AND OF

                        JOSEPH EGGLESTON JOHNSTON
                             GENERAL, C.S.A.



                                CONTENTS

         I. THE ROAD TO VIDALIA                                     1

        II. CAPE JESSAMINE                                         11

       III. VICKSBURG                                              24

        IV. CHICKASAW BAYOU                                        36

         V. FORT PEMBERTON                                         46

        VI. THE RIVER                                              58

       VII. PORT GIBSON                                            69

      VIII. IN VIRGINIA                                            81

        IX. THE STONEWALL                                          95

         X. THE BULLETIN                                          108

        XI. PRISON X                                              115

       XII. THE SIEGE                                             128

      XIII. ACROSS THE POTOMAC                                    141

       XIV. THE CAVE                                              156

        XV. GETTYSBURG                                            166

       XVI. BACK HOME                                             178

      XVII. BREAD CAST ON WATER                                   191

     XVIII. THREE OAKS                                            204

       XIX. THE COLONEL OF THE SIXTY-FIFTH                        215

        XX. CHICKAMAUGA                                           225

       XXI. MISSIONARY RIDGE                                      240

      XXII. DALTON                                                253

     XXIII. THE ROAD TO RESACA                                    265

      XXIV. THE GUNS                                              279

       XXV. THE WILDERNESS                                        287

      XXVI. THE BLOODY ANGLE                                      298

     XXVII. RICHMOND                                              306

    XXVIII. COLD HARBOUR                                          314

      XXIX. LITTLE PUMPKIN-VINE CREEK                             321

       XXX. KENNESAW                                              329

      XXXI. THUNDER RUN                                           340

     XXXII. HUNTER’S RAID                                         347

    XXXIII. BACK HOME                                             354

     XXXIV. THE ROAD TO WASHINGTON                                364

      XXXV. THE CRATER                                            372

     XXXVI. THE VALLEY                                            382

    XXXVII. CEDAR CREEK                                           392

   XXXVIII. THE ARMY OF TENNESSEE                                 405

     XXXIX. COLUMBIA                                              416

        XL. THE ROAD TO WINNSBORO’                                427

       XLI. THE BEGINNING OF THE END                              440

      XLII. APRIL, 1865                                           450



                             ILLUSTRATIONS


   THE ROAD TO VIDALIA (page 3)                        _Frontispiece_

   SHARPSHOOTERS                                                  128

   THE BLOODY ANGLE                                               302

   THE SCOUT                                                      392

                       From drawings by N.C. Wyeth



                               CEASE FIRING



                               CHAPTER I
                          THE ROAD TO VIDALIA



  The river ran several thousand miles, from a land of snow and fir
  trees and brief summers to a land of long, long summers, cane and
  orange. The river was wide. It dealt in loops and a tortuous course,
  and for the most part it was yellow and turbid and strong of current.
  There were sandbars in the river, there were jewelled islands; there
  were parallel swamps, lakes, and bayous. From the border of these, and
  out of the water, rose tall trees, starred over, in their season, with
  satiny cups or disks, flowers of their own or vast flowering vines,
  networks of languid bloom. The Spanish moss, too, swayed from the
  trees, and about their knees shivered the canebrakes. Of a remarkable
  personality throughout, in its last thousand miles the river grew
  unique. Now it ran between bluffs of coloured clay, and now it flowed
  above the level of the surrounding country. You did not go down to the
  river: you went up to the river, the river caged like a tiger behind
  the levees. Time of flood was the tiger’s time. Down went the
  levee—widened in an instant the ragged crevasse—out came the beast!—

  December, along the stretch of the Mississippi under consideration,
  was of a weather nearly like a Virginian late autumn. In the river
  towns and in the plantation gardens roses yet bloomed. In the fields
  the cotton should have been gathered, carried—all the silver stuff—in
  wagons, or in baskets on the heads of negroes, to the gin-houses. This
  December it was not so. It was the December of 1862. Life, as it used
  to be, had disintegrated. Life, as it was, left the fields untended
  and the harvest ungathered. Why pick cotton when there was nowhere to
  send it? The fields stayed white.

  The stately, leisurely steamers, the swan-like white packets, were
  gone from the river; gone were the barges, the flatboats and freight
  boats; gone were the ferries. No more at night did there come
  looming—from up the stream, from down the stream—the giant shapes,
  friendly, myriad-lighted. No more did swung torches reveal the long
  wharves, while the deep whistle blew, and the smokestack sent out
  sparks, and the negro roustabouts sang as they made her fast. No more
  did the planter come aboard, and the planter’s daughter; no more was
  there music of stringed instruments, nor the aroma of the fine cigar,
  nor sweet drawling voices. The planter was at the front; and the
  planter’s daughter had too much upon her hands to leave the
  plantation, even if there had been a place to go to. As it happened
  there was none.

  Farragut, dressed in blue, ruled the river upward from the Gulf and
  New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Porter, dressed in blue, ruled it downward
  from Cairo to Grand Lake. Their steam frigates, corvettes, and
  sloops-of-war, their ironclads, tinclads, gunboats, and rams flew the
  Stars and Stripes. Between Grand Lake and Baton Rouge the river was
  Confederate, unconquered yet, beneath the Stars and Bars. They flew
  from land and water defences at Vicksburg, from the batteries up the
  Yazoo, from Natchez and the works on the Red River, and the
  entrenchments at Port Hudson. They flew from the few, few remaining
  grey craft of war, from the transports, the cotton-clads, the
  Vicksburg, the De Soto, the gunboat Grand Duke, the ram Webb. Tawny
  and strong ran the Mississippi, by the Stars and Stripes, by the Stars
  and Bars.

  It had rained and rained. All the swamps were up, the bayous
  overflowing. The tiger, too, was out; now here, now there. That other
  tiger, War, was abroad, and he aided in breaking levees. On the
  Mississippi side, on the Louisiana side, bottom lands were brimming.
  Cottonwood, red gum, china trees, cypress and pine stood up, drenched
  and dismal, from amber sheets and eddies, specked with foam. The
  clouds hung dark and low. There was a small, chill, mournful wind. The
  roads, trampled and scored by eighteen months of war, were little, if
  any, better than no roads.

  A detachment of grey infantry and a section of artillery, coming up on
  the Louisiana side from the Red River with intent to cross at Vidalia
  and proceed from Natchez to Vicksburg, found them so. In part the
  detail was from a regiment of A.P. Hill’s, transferred the preceding
  month from Fredericksburg in Virginia to Vicksburg in Mississippi,
  sent immediately from Vicksburg toward Red River, it being rumoured
  that Farragut meant a great attack there, and almost immediately
  summoned back, Secret Service having determined that Grant at Oxford
  meant a descent upon Vicksburg. The detachment was making a forced
  march and making it through a Slough of Despond. The no-roads were
  bottomless; the two guns mired and mired; the straining horses could
  do little, however good their will. Infantry had to help, put a
  shoulder to wheel and caisson. Infantry was too tired to say much, but
  what it said was heartfelt,—“Got the right name for these States when
  they called them _Gulf_ States! If we could only telegraph to China
  they might pull that gun out on that side!”—“O God! for the Valley
  Pike!”—“Don’t say things like that! Homesickness would be the last
  straw. If anybody’s homesick, don’t, for the Lord’s sake, let on!...
  Get up, Patsy! Get up, Pansy! Get up, Sorrel!”... “Look-a-here,
  Artillery! If it’s just the same to you, we wish you’d call that horse
  something else! You see it kind of brings a picture up.... This
  identical minute ‘Old Jack’s’ riding Little Sorrel up and down before
  Burnside at Fredericksburg, and we’re not there to see!... Oh, it
  ain’t your fault! You can’t help being Mississippi and Louisiana and
  bringing us down to help! You are all right and you fight like hell,
  and you’ve got your own quality, and we like you first-rate! If we
  weren’t Army of Northern Virginia, we surely would choose to be Army
  of Tennessee and the Southwest—so there’s no need for you to get
  wrathy!... Only we would be obliged to you if you’d change the name of
  that horse!”

  The clouds broke in a bitter downpour. “Ooooh-h! Country’s turned over
  and river’s on top! _Get up, Patsy! Get up, Pansy! Get up_—This ain’t
  a mud-hole, it’s a bayou! God knows, if I lived in this country I’d
  tear all that long, waving, black moss out of the trees! It gives me
  the horrors.”—“_Get on, men! get on!_”—“Captain, we can’t!”

  Pioneers came back. “It’s a bayou—but there’s a corduroy bridge, not
  more than a foot under water.”

  Infantry crossed, the two guns crossed. Beyond the arm of the bayou
  the earth was mere quaking morass. The men cut canes, armfuls and
  armfuls of canes, threw the bundles down, and made some sort of
  roadbed. Over it came those patient, famished, piteous soldiers, the
  horses, and behind them, heavily, heavily through the thickened mire,
  guns and caissons. Gun and wheel and caisson were all plastered with
  mud, not an inch of bright metal showing. The horses, too, were all
  masked and splashed. The men were in no better case, wet through,
  covered from head to foot with mud and mire, the worn, worn uniforms
  worsened yet by thorn and briar from the tangled forest. The water
  dripped from the rifles, stock and barrel, the water dripped from the
  furled and covered colours. The men’s shoes were very bad; only a few
  had overcoats. The clouds were leaden, the rain streamed, the
  comfortless day was drawing down. The detachment came into a narrow,
  somewhat firmer road set on either hand with tall cypresses and water
  oaks, from every limb of which hung the grey moss, long, crêpe-like,
  swaying in the chill and fretting wind. “For the Lord’s sake,” said
  Virginia in Louisiana, “sing something!”

  A man in the colour guard started “Roll, Jordan, roll”—

                  “I want to get to Heaven when I die,—
                      To hear Jordan roll!”

  The line protested. “Don’t sing about a _river!_ There’s river enough
  in ours now!—That darkey, back there, said the levees were breaking.”

                    “Moses went up to de mountain top—
                      _Land of Canaan, Canaan Land_,
                    Moses went up to de mountain top—”

  “Don’t sing that either! We’re nine hundred miles from the Blue Ridge
  and Canaan Land.... Sech a fool to sing about mountains and home!”

  “Well,” said Colour Guard, “that was what I was thinking about. If
  anybody knows a cheerful hymn, I’ll be glad if he’ll line it out—”

  “Don’t sing a hymn,” said the men. “Sing something gay. Edward Cary,
  you sing something.”

  “All right,” said Edward. “What do you want?”

  “Anything that’ll light a fire in the rain! Sing us something funny.
  Sing us a story.”

                       “There was a ram of Derby,”

  sang Edward—

                        “As I have heard it said,
                      That was the fattest ram, sir,
                        That ever had a head—”

  The cypress wood ended. They came out into vast cotton-fields where
  the drowning bolls, great melancholy snowflakes, clung to the bushes,
  idle as weeds, careless of famine in mill-towns oversea. The water
  stood between the rows, rows that ran endlessly, cut from sight at
  last by a whirling and formless grey vapour.

                 “The fleece that grew on that ram, sir,
                   It grew so mighty high,
                 The eagles built their nest in it,
                   For I heard the young ones cry.
                 And if you don’t believe me,
                   Or think I tell a lie,
                 Why, just look down to Derby
                    And see as well as I!”

  The land was as flat as Holland, but the rank forest, the growth about
  the wandering arms of bayous breathed of another clime. The rain came
  down as in the rainy season, the wind was mounting, the wings of the
  dusk flapping nearer.

  “Get on, men, get on! We’re miles from Vidalia.”

                  “The horns that grew on that ram, sir,
                    They grew up to the moon,
                  A man went up in December
                    And didn’t come down till June!

  “Look out, Artillery! There’s water under those logs!”

  The horses and the first gun got across the rotting logs roofing black
  water, infantry helping, tugging, pushing, beating down the cane.

  “Shades of night, where are we anyhow? Cane rattling and the moss
  waving and water bubbling—is it just another damned bayou or the
  river?... And all the flat ground and the strange trees.... My head is
  turning round.”

  “It’s Bayou Jessamine,” volunteered an artilleryman. He spoke in a
  drawling voice. “We aren’t far from the river, or the river isn’t far
  from us, for I think the river’s out. It appears to me that you
  Virginians grumble a lot. There isn’t anything the matter with this
  country. It’s as good a country as God’s got. Barksdale’s men and the
  Washington Artillery are always writing back that Virginia can’t hold
  a candle to it.... Whoa, there, Whitefoot! Whoa, Dick!”

  The second gun had come upon the raft of logs. A log slipped, a wheel
  went down, gun and caisson tilted—artillery and infantry surged to the
  aid of the endangered piece. A second log slipped, the wheel beneath
  the caisson went down, the loaded metal chest jerked forward, striking
  forehead and shoulder of one of the aiding infantrymen. The blow was
  heavy and stretched the soldier senseless, half in the black water,
  half across the treacherous logs. Amid ejaculations, oaths, shouted
  orders, guns and caisson were righted, the horses urged forward, the
  piece drawn clear of the bayou. Down came the rain as though the
  floodgates of heaven were opened; nearer and nearer flapped the
  dusk....

  Edward Cary, coming to himself, thought, on the crest of a low wave of
  consciousness, of Greenwood in Virginia and of the shepherds and
  shepherdesses in the drawing-room paper. He seemed to see his
  grandfather’s portrait, and he thought that the young man in the
  picture had put out a hand and drawn him from the bayou. Then he sank
  into the trough of the sea and all again was black. The next wave was
  higher. He saw with distinctness that he was in a firelit cabin, and
  that an old negro was battling with a door which the wind would not
  let shut. The hollow caught him again, but proved a momentary prison.
  He opened his eyes fully and presently spoke to the two soldiers who
  hugged the fire before which he was lying.

  “You two fellows in a cloud of steam, did we lose the gun?”

  The two turned, gratified and congratulatory. “No, no, we didn’t lose
  it! Glad you’ve waked up, Edward! Caisson struck you, knocked you into
  the bayou, y’ know! Fished you out and brought you on till we came to
  this cabin. Company had to march away. Couldn’t wait—dark coming and
  the Mississippi gnawing holes out of the land like a rat out of a
  cheese! The boys have been gone twenty minutes. Powerful glad you’ve
  come back to us! We’d have missed you like sixty! Captain says he
  hopes you can march!”

  Edward sat up, then lay down again upon the pallet. “I’ve got a
  singing head,” he said dreamily. “What’s involved in my staying here?”

  His comrades laughed, they were so glad to hear him talking. “Told
  Kirk you couldn’t march yet awhile! You got an awful blow. Only, we
  can’t stay with you—that’s involved! Captain’s bent on making Vidalia.
  Orders are to bring you on if you can march, and if you can’t to
  double-quick it ourselves and catch up! Says Grant’s going to invest
  Vicksburg and he can’t spare even Kirk and me. You’re to come on as
  quick as you can, and rejoin wherever we are. Says nobody ever had a
  better headpiece than you, and that you’ll walk in somewhere that
  isn’t at the end of the procession!”

  The night descended. Edward lay half asleep upon the pallet, in the
  light of the pine knots with which the negro fed the fire. The rushing
  in his head was going, the nausea passing, the warmth was sweet, bed
  was sweet, rest, rest, rest was sweet! The old negro went to and fro,
  or sat upon a bench beside the glowing hearth.

  After his kind he communed with himself half aloud, a slow stream of
  comment and interrogation. Before long he took from some mysterious
  press a little corn meal and a small piece of bacon. The meal he
  stirred with water and made into thin pones, which he baked upon a
  rusty piece of tin laid on a bed of coals. Then he found a broken
  knife and cut a few rashers of bacon and fried them in an ancient
  skillet. The cabin filled with a savoury odor! Edward turned on the
  pallet. “Uncle, are you cooking for two?”

  The meal, his first that day, restored him to himself. By now it took
  much to kill or permanently disable a Confederate soldier. Life
  forever out of doors, the sky for roof, the earth for bed, spare and
  simple diet, body trained and exercised, senses cleared and nerves
  braced by danger grown the element in which he moved and had his
  being, hope rising clear from much reason for despair, ideality intact
  in the midst of grimmest realities, a mind made up, cognizant of great
  issues and the need of men—the Confederate soldier had no intention of
  dying before his time. Nowadays it took a bullet through heart or head
  to give a man his quietus. The toppling caisson and the bayou had
  failed to give Edward Cary his.

  The young white man and the old negro shared scrupulously between them
  the not over-great amount of corn bread and bacon. The negro placed
  Edward’s portion before him on a wooden stool and took his own to the
  bench beside the hearth. The wind blew, the rain dashed against the
  hut, the flames leaped from resinous pine knot to pine knot.

  Supper finished, talk began. “How far from the river are we?”

  “Ef you’ll tell ’Rasmus, sah, ’Rasmus’ll tell you! En rights hit
  oughter be two miles, but I’s got er kind ob notion dat de ribber’s
  done crope nigher.”

  Edward listened to the wind and rain. “What’s to hinder it from coming
  nigher yet?”

  “Nothin’, sah.”

  The young man got up, somewhat unsteadily, from the pallet, and with
  his hand against the wall moved to the door, opened it, and looked
  out. He shivered, then laughed. “Noah must have seen something like it
  when he looked out of the Ark!” He closed the door with difficulty.

  Behind him, the negro continued to speak. “Leastways, dar’s only de
  Cape Jessamine levee.”

  “Cape Jessamine?”

  “De Gaillard place, sah.”

  With a stick he drew lines in the ashes. “Bayou heah. Ribber heah. De
  Cun’l in between—only right now he way from home fightin’ de
  Yankees—he en’ Marse Louis. De Gaillard place—Cape Jessamine. Hope dat
  levee won’t break!”

  Edward came back to the fire. “Do you belong to the place?”

  “No, sah, I’se free. Ol’ marster freed me. But I goes dar mos’ every
  day en’ takes advice en’ draws my rations. No, sah, I don’ ’zactly
  belong, but dey’re my white folks. De Gaillards’s de finest kind dar
  is. Dar ain’t no finer.”

  Old man and young man, dark-skinned and light, African and Aryan, the
  two rested by the fire. The negro sat, half doubled, his hands between
  his knees, his eyes upon the floor by the door. Now he was silent, now
  he muttered and murmured. The glare from the pine knots beat upon his
  grey pate, upon his shirt, open over his chest, and upon his gnarled
  and knotted hands. Over against him half reclined the other, very torn
  and muddy, unshaven, gaunt, and hollow-eyed, yet, indescribably,
  carrying his rags as though they were purple, showing through fatigue,
  deprivation, and injury something tireless, uninjured, and undeprived.
  He kept now a somewhat languid silence, idle in the warmth, his
  thoughts away from the Mississippi and the night of storm. With the
  first light he would quit the cabin and press on after his company. He
  thought of the armies of the Far South, of the Army of Tennessee, the
  Army of the Trans-Mississippi, and he thought of the fighting in
  Virginia, of the Army of Northern Virginia, the army he had quitted
  but a few weeks before. He, too, that afternoon, had felt homesick for
  it, lying there behind the hills to the south of Fredericksburg,
  waiting for Burnside to cross the Rappahannock!... The soldier must go
  where he is sent! He thought of his own people, of his father, of
  Fauquier Cary, of Greenwood, and his sisters there. He should find at
  Vicksburg a letter from Judith. From the thought of Judith he moved to
  that of Richard Cleave.... Presently, with an impatient sigh, he shook
  himself free. Better think, to-night, of something else than tragedies
  and mysteries! He thought of roses and old songs, and deep forests and
  sunny childhood spaces. He put attention to sleep, diffused his mind
  and hovered in mere warmth, odors, and hues of memory and imagination.
  He set faint silver bells to ringing, then, amid slow alternating
  waves of red and purple, a master violin to playing. Lulled, lulled in
  the firelight, his eyelids drooped. He drew sleeper’s breath.

  “_De water’s comin’ under de doah! De water’s comin’ under de doah!_”

  The violin played the strain for a moment, then it appeared that a
  string broke. Edward sat up. “What’s the matter?—Ha, the levee broke,
  did it?”

  “Hit ain’t de river, hit am de bayou! De bayou’s comin’ out, en’ ef
  you don’ min’, sah, we’s obleeged ter move!”

  Edward rose, stretching himself. “Move where?”

  “Ter Cape Jessamine, sah. Bayou can’t git dat far, en’ dey sho’ ain’t
  gwine let de river come out ef dey kin help hit!”

  The floor was ankle deep in yellow water. Suddenly the door blew open.
  There entered streaming rain and a hiss of wind. The negro, gathering
  into a bundle his meagre wardrobe and bedding, shook his head and made
  haste. Edward took his rifle and ragged hat. The water deepened and
  put the fire out. The two men emerged from the cabin into a widening
  lake, seething and eddying between the dark trees. Behind them the hut
  tilted a little upon its rude foundation. The negro looked back.
  “Liked dat house, en’ now hit’s er-gwine, too! Bayou never come out
  lak dat befo’ dishyer war!”

  Out of the knee-deep water at last, they struck into something that to
  the feet felt like a road. On either hand towering cypresses made the
  intense night intenser. It was intense, and yet out of the bosom of
  the clouds, athwart the slant rain, came at times effects of light.
  One saw and one did not see; there was a sense of dim revelations,
  cloudy purposes of earth, air, and water, given and then withdrawn
  before they could be read. But there was one thing heard plainly, and
  that was the voice of the Mississippi River.

  They were going toward it, Edward found. Once, in the transient and
  mysterious lightening of the atmosphere, he thought that he saw it
  gleaming before them. The impression was lost, but it returned. He saw
  that they were at the base of a tongue of land, set with gigantic
  trees, running out into the gleaming that was the river. The two were
  now upon slightly rising ground, and they had the sweep of the night
  before them.

  “Fo’ Gawd!” said the negro; “look at de torches on de levee! River’s
  mekkin’ dem wuhk fer dey livin’ to-night at Cape Jessamine!”



                               CHAPTER II
                             CAPE JESSAMINE


  The two came from beneath the dripping trees out upon the cleared bank
  of the Mississippi, and into a glare of pine torches. The rain had
  lessened, the fitful wind beat the flames sideways, but failed to
  conquer them. There was, too, a tar barrel burning. The light was
  strong and red enough, a pulsing heart of light shading at its edges
  into smoky bronze and copper, then, a little further, lost in the wild
  night. The river curved like a scimitar, and the glare showed the
  turbulent edge of it and the swirling cross-current that was setting a
  tooth into the Cape Jessamine levee.

  ’Rasmus spoke. “Dis was always de danger place. Many er time I’ve seen
  de Cun’l ride down heah, en’ stand er-lookin’!”

  There seemed as many as a hundred negroes. They swarmed about the
  imperilled point; they went to it in two converging lines. Each man
  was bent under a load of something. He swung it from his shoulder,
  straightened himself, and hurried, right or left, back to shadowy
  heaps from which he lifted another load. “Dey sho’ gwine need de sand
  bags dishyer night!” said ’Rasmus.

  In the leaping and hovering light the negroes looked gigantic. Coal
  black, bending, lifting, rushing forward, set about with night and the
  snarl of the tiger, they had the seeming of genii from an Eastern
  tale. Their voices came chantingly, or, after a silence, in a sudden
  shout. Their shadows moved with them on the ground. Edward glanced
  around for the directing white man. “Dar ain’t none,” said ’Rasmus.
  “De haid oberseer when he heah dat New Orleans been taken he up en’
  say dey need mo’ soldiers than dey do oberseers, en’ he went ter Baton
  Rouge! En’ de second oberseer dat come up en’ tek he place, en’ is er
  good man, las’ week he broke he hip. En’ dar wuz two-three others
  er-driftin’ erroun, doin’ what dey wuz tol’ ter do, en’ dey gone too.
  When hit wants ter, de river kin pull ’em in en’ drown ’em en’ tek ’em
  erway, but dishyer war’s de wust yet! Yaas, sah, dishyer war’s er
  master han’ at eatin’ men! No, sah, dar ain’t no white man, but dar’s
  a white woman—”

  Then Edward looked and saw Désirée Gaillard. She was standing high,
  beneath her heaped logs, behind her the night. She had clasped around
  her throat a soldier’s cloak. The wind raised it, blew it outward, the
  crimson lining gleaming in the torchlight. All the red light beat upon
  her, upon the blowing hair, upon the deep eyes and parted lips, the
  outstretched arm and pointing hand, the dress of some bronze and
  clinging stuff, the bent knee, the foot resting upon a log end higher
  than its fellows. The out-flung and lifted cloak had the seeming of
  the floating drapery in some great canvas, billowing mantle of
  heroine, saint, or genius.

  “Saintly,” however, was certainly not the word, and Désirée would not
  have called herself heroine or genius. She was simply fearless and
  intent, and since, to keep the negroes in courage and energy, it was
  needful to keep them in good spirits, she was, also, to-night,
  cheerful, humorous, abounding in praise. Her voice rang out, deep and
  sweet. “Good man, Mingo! Mingo’s carrying two to everybody else’s one!
  Lawrence is doing well, though! So is Hannah’s Tom!—

               ‘Levee! levee! lock your hands hard!
               Levee, levee! keep the river from my home!—’

  _Par ici, François!_ Christopher, Harper, Sambo, Haiti, Mingo Second,
  make a line! Big Corinth, throw them the sacks! Work hard—work hard!
  You shall have rest to-morrow, and at night a feast! Look at Mingo,
  how he works! He isn’t going to let the river cover Cape Jessamine!
  When the Colonel comes home he is going to say, ‘Good boy, Mingo!’
  To-morrow night all the banjos playing, and good things to eat, and
  the house-servants down at the quarters, and a dance like
  Christmas!—Mingo, Mingo, put ten sacks just there—”

  When she saw the soldier beside her her eyes opened wide in a moment’s
  query, after which she accepted him as an item of the storm and the
  night. All the land was in storm, and the stream of events rapid. From
  every quarter and from distant forests the wind blew the leaves.
  Sometimes one knew the tree from which they came, sometimes not. On
  presumption, though, if the leaf were grey, the tree was a proper
  tree, humble, perhaps, in its region and clime, but sound at heart and
  of a right grain. When Private Edward Cary, gaunt, ragged, muddy,
  unshaven, asked what he could do, she considered him gravely, then
  gave him Mingo Second and thirty men, with whom he set to
  strengthening a place of danger not so imminent. From where he worked
  he heard at intervals her clear voice, now _insouciante_, now
  thrilling. There came a moment of leisure. He turned and saw her where
  she stood, her knee bent, her hand and arm outstretched against the
  river, the horseman’s cloak blown backward and upward into a canopy,
  the red light over all, strong and clear upon her face and throat and
  bronze-sheathed body—saw her and loved her.

  The December night, already well advanced, grew old. Always the river
  attacked, always the land opposed. The yellow current sucked and
  dragged, but the dyke held and the dyke grew stronger. The rain
  ceased; far up in the sky, through a small, small rift peered a star.
  The wind died into a whisper. By three o’clock there came a feeling
  that the crisis had passed. ’Rasmus, working well with Edward’s
  detachment, gave it voice. “Cape Jessamine’s done stood heah sence de
  flood, en’ I specs dat’s two hundred yeahs! Yaas, Lawd! En’ when
  Gabriel blow he trump, Cape Jessamine gwine up en’ say, ‘Heah I is,
  sah!’”

  And at that moment there came running through the fields a wild-eyed
  negro, panic in his outstretched hands. “De levee by de backwoods—de
  levee by de backwoods—de levee what nobody eber thinks ob, hit’s so
  safe! De ribber done swing ergin hit—de ribber done gouge er hole big
  ez de debbil! De yerth’s er-tumblin’ in, en’ de ribber’s comin’ out—”

  Through the last half-hour of the night, up a broad avenue between
  water oaks, Edward found himself hurrying with Désirée. Before them
  raced the negroes, some upon the road, others streaming through the
  bordering fields. Désirée ran like a huntress of Diana’s. Her
  soldier’s cloak, blown by the wind, impeded her flight. She unclasped
  it as she ran, and Edward took it from her.

  “Will the house go?” he asked. “How great is the danger?”

  She shook her head. “I don’t think we are in danger of our lives. I
  don’t think the water can get to the house. It is not as though the
  levee had broken where we were working. What would happen then doesn’t
  stand contemplating. This other is but an arm of the river—not deep
  nor strong. I think that the house quarters are safe and the stables.
  But we must get the women and children and the old men from the lower
  quarter. And the cattle in the fields—” She ran faster.

  In the pallor of the dawn the house of Cape Jessamine rose before
  them. Winged, with columns and verandahs, it loomed in the grey light
  above leisurely climbing wide lawns and bosky garden. At the house
  gates,—iron scroll and tracery between brick pillars, antique,
  graceful,—they were met by the younger, less responsible of the house
  servants.

  “O my Lawd! O Lawd Jesus! O my Lawd, Missy! de ribber’s out! O my
  Lawd, my sins! What we gwine ter do?”

  “We’re going to stand a siege,” said Désirée. “Have they brought Mr.
  Marcus in?”

  “No’m. Dey waitin’ fer you ter tell dem—”

  She pushed the cluster aside and ran on up the broad path, Edward
  following. They mounted the steps, passed between the pillars,
  entered, and sped through a wide panelled hall and came out upon
  another verandah commanding a grassy space between house and offices.
  At a little distance, upon the same level, straggling away beneath
  pecan and pine and moss-draped oak, could be seen the house quarter.

  The negroes came crowding, men and women, big and little. “De ribber,
  Missy! De ribber, Missy! I don’ climb er tree en’ see hit! I see hit
  er-comin’ en’ er-eatin’ up de cotton en’ de cane! O my Lawd, hit er
  comin’ lak er thief in de night-time! O my Lawd, hit er comin’ lak er
  ha’nt!”

  Désirée stood on the verandah steps and issued her orders. “Mingo, you
  take four men and go to the overseer’s house. Tell Mr. Marcus that I
  say he’s not to trust to the water not coming high in his house. Tell
  him I _order_ him to come to the big house. Take him up on his
  mattress and bring him. Hurry, now, hurry! Mingo Second, Lawrence,
  Adolph, Creed, Lot,—six more of you! Try what you can do for the
  cattle in the lower fields! Try hard! If you bring them in, you shall
  have everything double to-night!—Haiti, Sambo, Hannah’s Tom, all of
  you men on this side,—yes, you too, soldier, if you will!—we’ll go now
  and bring the women and children and old men from the lower quarter!”

  They were brought in—brought the last part of the distance through the
  knee-deep flood. When they got to the rising ground and the house
  quarter the water was close behind them. Yellow now in the
  strengthening light, beneath a tempestuous morning sky, it washed and
  sucked and drew against the just-out-of-reach demesne.

  When the crippled overseer had been laid in a wing of the house, and
  the lower-quarter people had been disposed of in the house quarter and
  the innumerable out-buildings, when the cattle Mingo Second brought in
  had been stalled and penned, when with great iron keys Désirée had
  opened smokehouse and storehouse and given out rations, when fires had
  been kindled on cabin hearths, and old Daddy Martin had taken his
  banjo, and the house servants had regained equanimity and importance,
  and “Missy” had lavishly praised everybody, even the piccaninnies who
  hadn’t cried—the plantation, so suddenly curtailed, settled under a
  stormy yellow sunrise into a not unpleasurable excitement and holiday
  feeling—much like that of an important funeral.

  Désirée stood at last alone but for Edward, and for two or three house
  servants, hovering in the doorway. She had again about her the
  scarlet-lined cloak; her throat, face, and head were drawn superbly
  against the lighted east.

  She pushed back her wind-blown hair and laughed. “It might have been
  worse!—which is my habitual philosophy! We will have fair weather now,
  and the water will go down.”

  “I am strange to this country,” said Edward. “How can I find the road
  to Vidalia?”

  He stood illumined by the morning glow, his rifle beside him where he
  had leaned it against the pillar. Now and again, through the past
  hours, his voice had been in her ear. In the first hearing it, in the
  moil and anxiety, she had at once the knowledge that this chance
  soldier possessed breeding. In this time and region the “private”
  before the “soldier” had the slightest of qualificatory value.
  University and professional men, wealthy planters, sons of commanding
  generals—all sorts and conditions were private soldiers. This one was,
  it appeared from his voice, of her own condition. But though she had
  noted his voice, by torchlight or by daybreak she had scarce looked at
  him. Now she did so; each looked into the other’s eyes.

  “Vidalia? The road to Vidalia is covered. You must wait until the
  water goes down.”

  “How long will that be?”

  “Three days, perhaps.... You gave me good help. Permit me now to
  regard you as my guest.”

  “You are all goodness. If you will give yourself no concern—I am
  Edward Cary, private in the ——th Virginia Infantry, lately transferred
  South. An accident, yesterday evening, left me behind my company on
  the road to Vidalia. I must follow as soon as it is at all possible.”

  “It is not so yet. My father is with General Beauregard. My brother is
  at Grenada with General Van Dorn. I am Désirée Gaillard. We
  Louisianians know what soldiers are the Virginia troops. Cape
  Jessamine gives you welcome and says, ‘Be at home for these three
  days.’”

  She turned and spoke. The old butler came forward. “Etienne, this
  gentleman is our guest. Show him to the panelled room, and tell Simon
  he is to wait upon him.” She spoke again to Edward. “Breakfast will be
  sent to you there. And then you must sleep.—No, there is nothing we
  can do. The danger to the main levee has passed for this time, I am
  sure.—Yes, there is still food. We can only fold our hands and wait. I
  am used to that if you are not. Refresh yourself and sleep. Supper is
  at seven, and I hope that you will take it with me.”

  The panelled room, with a lightwood fire crackling upon the hearth,
  with jalousied windows just brushed against from without by a superb
  magnolia, with a cricket chirping, with a great soft white bed—ah, the
  panelled room was a place in which to sleep! The weary soldier from
  Virginia slept like the dead. The day passed, the afternoon was
  drawing toward evening, before he began to dream. First he dreamed of
  battle; of A.P. Hill in his red battle-shirt, and of an order from
  “Old Jack” which nobody could read, but which everybody knew must be
  immediately obeyed. In the midst of the whole division trying to
  decipher it, it suddenly became perfectly plain, and the Light
  Division marched to carry it out,—only he himself was suddenly back
  home at Greenwood and Mammy was singing to him

                   “The buzzards and the butterflies.”

  He turned upon his side and drifted to the University, and then turned
  again and dreamed of a poem which it seemed he was writing,—a great
  poem,—a string of sonnets, like Petrarch or Surrey or Philip Sidney.
  The sonnets were all about Love.... He woke fully and his mind filled
  at once with the red torchlight, the wild river beyond the levee, and
  the face and form of Désirée Gaillard.

  The door gently opened and Simon entered the panelled room, behind him
  two boys bearing great pitchers of heated water. The lightwood fire
  was burning brightly; through the jalousies stole the slant rays of
  the sinking sun; the magnolia, pushed by the evening wind, tapped
  against the window frame. Simon had across his extended arm divers
  articles of wearing apparel. These he laid with solemnity upon a couch
  by the fire, and then, having dismissed the boys and observed that
  Edward was awake, he bowed and hoped that the guest had slept well.

  “Heavenly well,” said Edward dreamily. “Hot water, soap, and towels.”

  “I hab tek de liberty, sah,” said Simon, “ob extractin’ yo’ uniform
  from de room while you slep’. De mud whar we could clean off, we hab
  cleaned off, en’ we hab pressed de uniform, but de sempstress she say
  ’scuse her fer not mendin’ de tohn places better. She say dat uniform
  sut’n’y seen hard service.”

  “She’s a woman of discernment,” said Edward. “The tatters are not what
  troubles me. No end of knights and poets have appeared in tatters. But
  I do feel a touch when it comes to the shoes. There’s nothing of the
  grand manner in your toes being out. And had it ever occurred to you,
  Simon, before this war, how valuable is a shoestring?” He sat up in
  bed. “At this moment I would give all the silken waistcoats I used to
  have for two real shoestrings.—What, may I ask, could you do for the
  shoes?”

  “King Hiram de cobbler, sah, he hab de shoes in han’. He shake he
  haid, but he say he gwine do all he kin. De sempstress, too, she say
  she gwine do her natchul bes’. But Miss Désirée, she say dat perhaps
  you will give Marse Louis, what am at Grenada wif Gineral Van Dorn, de
  pleasure ob sarvin’ you? She say de Mississippi River all ’roun’ Cape
  Jessamine fer three days, en’ nobody gwine come heah less’n dey come
  in gunboats, en’ you kin wear yo’ uniform away de third day—” Simon,
  stepping backward, indicated with a gesture the apparel spread upon
  the sofa. “You en’ Marse Louis, sah, am erbout ob er height en’ make.
  Miss Désirée tol’ me so, en’ den I see fer myself. Marse Louis’s
  evening clothes, sah, en’ some ob his linen, en’ a ruffled shu’t, en’
  er pair ob his pumps dat ar mighty ol’, but yet better than yo’
  shoes.—Dat am de bell-cord ober dar, sah, en’ ef yo’ please, ring when
  you ready fer me ter shave you.”

  Downstairs the last roses of the west tossed a glow into the Cape
  Jessamine drawing-room. It suffused the high, bare, distinguished
  place, lay in carmine pools upon the floor, glorified the bowls of
  late flowers and made splendid the silken, heavy, old-gold skirt of
  Désirée Gaillard. There was a low fire burning on the hearth. She sat
  beside it, in an old gilt French chair, her hands resting upon the
  arms. Folding doors between room and hall were opened. Désirée could
  see the spacious, finely built stairs from the gallery landing down;
  thus she had fair benefit of Edward Cary’s entrance. The candles had
  been lighted before he came. Those in the hall sconces gave a
  beautiful, mellow light. Désirée had made no effort to explain to
  herself why all the candles were lighted, and why she was wearing that
  one of her year-before-last Mardigras dresses which she liked the
  best. She rarely troubled to explain her actions, to herself or to
  another. All her movements were characterized by a certain imperial
  sureness, harmony. If she merely wished—the Southern armies being held
  in passionate regard by all Southern women—to do a ragged Virginia
  private honour; if she wished, delicately, fleetingly, half-ironically
  to play-act a little in the mist of flood and war; if she wished, or
  out of caprice or in dead earnest, to make a fairy oasis—why, she
  wished it! Whatever had been her motive, she possibly felt, in the
  moment of Edward Cary’s appearance on the stair, that gown and lights
  were justified.

  He was a man eminently good to look at. Louis Gaillard, it appeared,
  knew how to dress; at any rate, the apparel that Edward wore to-night
  became him so well that it was at once forgotten. He was clean-shaven,
  and Simon had much shortened the sunburnt hair.

  Down the stair and across hall and drawing-room he came to her side.
  “Did you ever get through the thorny wood and the briar hedge in the
  fairy story? That’s what, without any doubt, I have done!”

  Désirée smiled, and the room seemed to fill with soft rose and golden
  lights. “_I_ don’t call it a thorny wood and a briar hedge. I always
  see a moat with a draw-bridge that you have to catch just at the right
  moment, or not at all—”

  At table they talked of this or that—which is to say that they talked
  of War. War had gripped their land so closely and so long; War had
  harried their every field; War had marked their every door—all their
  world, when it talked of this and that, talked only of some expression
  on some one of War’s many faces. It might be wildly gay, the talk, or
  simple and sad, or brief and grave, with tragic brows, or bitterer
  than myrrh, or curiously humorous, or sardonic, or angry, or ironic,
  or infinitely touching, or with flashing eyes, or with a hand that
  wiped the drop away; but always the usual, customary talk into which
  folk fell was merely War. So Désirée and Edward talked War while they
  ate the delicate, frugal supper.

  But when it was eaten, and he followed her back into the drawing-room,
  they sat on either side the hearth, the leaping red and topaz flame
  between them lighting each face, and little by little forgot to talk
  of this and that.

  It appeared that save for the servants she had had few to talk to for
  a long, long while. There was a relief, a childlike outpouring of
  thought and fancy caged for months. It was like the awakened princess,
  eager with her dreams of a hundred years. They were dreams of a
  distinction, now noble, now quaint, and always somewhat strange. He
  learned a little of her outward life—of her ancestry, half French,
  half English; of her mother’s death long ago; of her father, studious,
  courteous, silent, leaving her to go her own way, telling her that he,
  not she, was the rapier in action, the reincarnated, old
  adventurousness of his line. He learned that she idolized her brother;
  that, save for a year once in France and six weeks each winter in New
  Orleans, she rarely left Cape Jessamine. He gathered that here she
  reigned more absolute than her father, that she loved her life, the
  servants, and the great plantation. It was as large almost as a
  principality, yet even principalities had neighbours up and down the
  river! He gathered that there had been visiting enough, comings and
  goings, before the war. Other principalities had probably come
  a-wooing—he hoped with passion to no purpose! He also was of the old,
  Southern life; he knew it all, and how her days had gone; she was only
  further South than his sisters in Virginia. He knew, too, how the last
  eighteen months had gone; he knew how they went with the women at
  home.

  They sat by the jewelled fire and talked and talked—of all things but
  this and that. War, like a spent thunder-cloud, drifted from their
  minds. They did not continuously talk; there were silences when they
  looked into the exquisite flame, or, with quiet, wide eyes, each at
  the other. They were young, but their inner type was ancient of days;
  they sat quiet, subtle, poised, not unlike a Leonardo canvas. Before
  ten o’clock she rose and said good night and they parted. In the
  panelled room Cary opened the window and stood gazing out. There was a
  great round moon whitening a garden, and tall, strange trees. He saw
  an opaline land of the heart, an immemorial, passion-pale Paradise,
  and around it all the watery barrier of the flood.... Désirée, in her
  own room, walked up and down, up and down, then knelt before her fire
  and smiled to find that she was crying.

  The next morning, although he was up early, he did not see her until
  eleven o’clock. Then he came upon her as she quitted the wing in which
  had been laid the crippled overseer. All around was an old, formal
  garden, the day grey pearl, a few coloured leaves falling. The two sat
  upon the step of a summer-house, and at first they talked of the
  recession of the water and the plantation round which had kept her
  through the morning. Then, answering her smiling questions, he told
  her of his home and family, lightly and readily, meaning that she
  should know how to place him. After this the note of last evening came
  back, and with its thrilling sound the two fell silent, sitting in the
  Southern sunshine, gazing past the garden upon the lessening crescent
  of the flood.

  Late in the afternoon, as he sat in a dream before an excellent old
  collection of books, the door opened and she appeared on the
  threshold, about her the cloak of the other night. He rose, laying
  down an unopened book.

  “I am going,” she said, “to walk down the avenue to look at the
  levee.”

  They walked beneath the slant rays, through the deepening shade.
  Before them was the great river; turn the head and they saw, beyond
  the rising ground and the house gleaming from the trees, the
  encroaching backwater, the two horns of that sickle all but touching
  the main levee. When they came upon this, out of the long avenue, the
  cypresses behind them were black against the lit west, unearthly still
  and dark against the gold. The river, too, was gold, a red gold, deep
  and very wide and swift.

  They stood upon the levee, and even his unaccustomed eye saw that the
  danger and strain of the other night was much lessened, but that
  always there was danger.—“The price of safety hereabouts is
  vigilance.”

  “Yes. To keep up the levees. Now and then, before the War, we heard of
  catastrophes—though they were mostly down the river. Then, up and
  down, everything would be strengthened. But now—neglect because we
  cannot help it, and tremor in the night-time! Below Baton Rouge the
  Yankees have broken the levees. Oh, the distress, the loss! If Port
  Hudson falls and they come up the river, or Vicksburg and they come
  down it, Cape Jessamine will be as others.” She drew her cloak close
  for a moment, then loosened it, held her head high and laughed. “But
  we shall win, and it will not happen!... If we walk to the bend
  yonder, we shall see far, far!—and it is lovely.”

  At the bend was a bench beneath a live-oak. The two sat down and
  looked forth upon vast levels and shining loops of the river. From the
  boughs above hung Spanish moss, long and dark, like cobwebs of all
  time, like mouldered banners of some contest long since fought out.
  The air was an amethyst profound.

  For some minutes she kept the talk upon this and that, then with
  resolution he made it die away. They sat in a silence that soon grew
  speech indeed. Before them the golden river grew pale, the vast plain,
  here overflowed, there seamed with huge, shaggy forests, gathered
  shadow; above day at its latest breath shone out a silver planet.

  Désirée shivered. “It is mournful, it is mournful,” she said, “at Cape
  Jessamine.”

  “Is it so? Then let me breathe mournfulness until I die.”

  “The water is going down. Mingo says it is going down fast.”

  “Yes. I could find it in my heart to wish it might never go down.”

  “It will. I am not old, but I see how what—what has been pleasant,
  dwindles, lessens—The road to Vidalia lies over there.”

  “Yes. In the shadow, while the light stays here.”

  Silence fell again, save for a bird’s deep cry in some canebrake.
  Presently she rose and set her face toward the house. They hardly
  spoke, all the way back, beneath the cypresses.

  In a little while came night and candlelight. He found her in the
  dress of the evening before, by the jewelled flame, ruby and amber.
  They went into the next room, where there were tall candles upon the
  table, and ate of the delicate, frugal fare. There was some murmured
  dreamy talk. They soon rose and returned to the drawing-room. There
  was a chess-table, and she proposed a game, but they played languidly,
  moving the pieces slowly. Once their hands touched. She drew back; he
  lifted his eyes, then lowered them. It is probable that they did not
  know which won.

  Again at ten, she said good night. Standing within the door he watched
  her slowly mount the stair—a form all wrapped in gold, a haunting
  face. At the turn of the stair there came a pause. She half turned,
  some parting courtesy upon her lips. It died there, for his upward
  look caught hers. Her face changed to meet the change in his, her body
  bent as his strained toward her; so they stayed while the clock ticked
  a quarter-minute. She was the first to recover herself. She uttered a
  low sound, half cry, half singing note, straightened herself and fled.

  The next morning again solitude and the drift of leaves in the garden
  walks. He did not see her until the middle of the day, and then she
  was somewhat stately in her courtesy, dreamy and brief of speech.

  “Would he excuse her at dinner? There was a woman ill at the quarter—”

  “I asked you to let me give you no trouble. Only the day is flying and
  to-morrow morning I must be gone.”

  “The water is not down yet!”

  “Yes, it is, or all but so. I have been to see. I must go, you know
  that—go at dawn.”

  “I will be in the garden at four.”

  But in the garden, she said it was sad with the cold, dank paths and
  the fading roses. They came up upon the portico and passed through a
  long window into the drawing-room. She moved to the hearth and sat in
  her great, gilt chair, staring into a deep bed of coals above which,
  many-hued, played the flames. There was in the room a closed piano.
  “No; she did not use it. Her mother had.” He opened it, sat down and
  sang to her. He sang old love-songs, old and passionate, and he sang
  as though the piano were a lute and he a minstrel knight, sang like
  Rudel to the Lady of Tripoli.

  When he made an end and rose, she was no longer by the fire. She had
  moved to the end of the room, opened the long window, and was out in
  the sunset light. He found her leaning against a pillar, her eyes upon
  the narrow, ragged, and gleaming ribbon into which had shrunk the
  flood at Cape Jessamine.

  For a moment there was silence, then he spoke. “Nice customs curtsy to
  great kings,” he said, “and great love knows no wrong times and
  mistaken hours. Absence and the chance of war are on their way. I dare
  hold my tongue no longer. Moreover, you, too,—I believe that you, too,
  know what this is that has come upon us! The two halves of the whole
  real world must in some fashion know each other—I love you, Désirée
  Gaillard—loved you when I saw you first, there on the river bank—”

  He put out his hands. Hers came to them, unhesitatingly. She uttered
  the same sound, half cry, half singing note, with which she had turned
  upon the stair the night before. In a moment they had embraced.



                              CHAPTER III
                               VICKSBURG


  Several days later, having crossed at Vidalia and passed through
  Natchez, he came to Vicksburg. “The ——th Virginia?”

  “Camped, I think, in a vacant lot near the Court-House. Fine
  regiment!”

  “Yes, fine regiment. Why is the town so dressed up? I have not heard
  so many bands since General Lee reviewed us on the Opequon.”

  “Similar occasion! The President and General Johnston are here. They
  came from Jackson yesterday. This morning they inspect the defences,
  and this afternoon there will be a review.”

  “Give me all the news. I have been in another world.”

  “Grant and Sherman are preparing to swoop. The first is at Oxford with
  fifty thousand men, the second has left Memphis. He has thirty-five
  thousand, and the Gunboat Squadron. We’re in for it I reckon! But the
  town’s taking it like a birthday party.—When I was a boy my father and
  mother always gave me a birthday party, and always every boy in town
  but me was there! Can’t skip this one, however!—They say Forrest is
  doing mighty good work east of Memphis, and there came a rumour just
  now that Van Dorn had something in hand.—You’re welcome!”

  The fair-sized town, built up from the riverside and over a shady,
  blossomy plateau, lay in pale sunshine. The devious river, yellow,
  turbid, looping through the land, washed the base of bluff and hill.
  Gone was the old clanging, riverside life, the coming and going of the
  packets, laughter and shouting of levee and wharf, big ware-houses
  looking benignantly on, manœuvres of wagons and mules and darkies;
  gone were the cotton bales and cotton bales and cotton bales rolling
  down the steep ways into the boats; gone the singing and singing and
  casual sound of the banjo! There was riverside life now, but it
  partook of the nature of War, not of Peace. It was the life of river
  batteries, and of the few, few craft of war swinging at anchor in the
  yellow flood. Edward Cary, climbing from the waterside, saw to right
  and left the little city’s girdle of field-works, the long rifle-pits,
  the redoubts and redans and lunettes. All the hillsides were trenched,
  and he saw camp-fires. He knew that not more than five thousand men
  were here, the remainder of the Army of the West being entrenched at
  Grenada, behind the Yallabusha. Above him, from the highest ground of
  all, sprang the white cupola of the Court-House. Around were fair,
  comfortable houses, large, old, tree-embowered residences. The place
  was one of refinement of living, of boundless hospitality. Two years
  ago it had been wealthy, a centre of commerce.

  Edward came into a wider street. Here were people, and, in the
  distance, a band played “Hail to the Chief.” Every house that could
  procure or manufacture a flag had hung one out, and there were
  garlands of cedar and the most graceful bamboo vine. In the cool,
  high, December sunlight everything and everybody wore a holiday air,
  an air of high and confident spirits. Especially did enthusiasm dwell
  in woman’s eye and upon her lip. There were women and children enough
  at doors and gateways and on the irregular warm brick pavement. There
  were old men, too, and negro servants, and a good sprinkling of
  convalescent soldiers, on crutches or with arms in slings, or merely
  white and thin from fever. But young men or men in their prime lacked,
  save when some company swung by, tattered and torn, bronzed and
  bright-eyed. Then the children and the old men cheered and the negroes
  laughed and clapped, and the women waved their handkerchiefs, threw
  their kisses, cried, “God bless you!” East and west and north and
  south, distant and near, from the works preparing for inspection,
  called the bugles.

  Edward, moving without haste up the street, came upon a throng of
  children stationed before what was evidently a schoolroom. A boy had a
  small flag—the three broad stripes, the wreath of stars. He held it
  solemnly, with a thin, exalted face and shining eyes. The girl beside
  him had a bouquet of autumn flowers. Upon the doorstep stood the
  teacher, a young woman in black.

  The group pressed together a little so that the soldier looking for
  his regiment might pass. As with a smile he made his way, his hand now
  on this small shoulder, now on that, the teacher spoke.

  “It’s a great day, soldier! They must all remember it, mustn’t they?”

  “Yes, yes!” said Edward. He paused beside her, gazing about him. “I am
  of the Virginia troops. We passed through Vicksburg a fortnight ago,
  but it was at night.—Well! the place wears its garland bravely, but I
  hope the siege will not come.”

  “If it does,” said the young woman, “we shall stand it. We stood the
  bombardment last summer.”

  The boy nearest her put in a voice. “Ho! that wasn’t anything! That
  was just fun! There wasn’t more ’n a dozen killed and one lady.”

  “An’ the house next ours burned up!” piped a little girl. “An’ a shell
  made a hole in the street before my grandma’s door as big as—big
  as—big as—big as the moon!”

  All the children began to talk. “It was awful—”

  “Ho! it wasn’t awful. I liked it.”

  “We got up in the middle of the night an’ it was as light as day! An’
  the ground shook so it made your ears ring, an’ everybody had to shout
  so’s they’d be heard—”

  “An’ it wasn’t just one night! It was a whole lot of nights an’ days.
  Old Porter an’ old Farragut—”

  “An’ Miss Lily used to give us holiday—”

  “Huh! She wouldn’t give it less’n the noise got so loud she had to
  scream to make us hear! When we could honest-Injun say, ‘Miss Lily, we
  can’t hear you!’ then she’d give it—”

  “We had a whole lot of holiday. An’ then old Porter an’ old Farragut
  went away—”

  The boy who held the banner had not spoken. Now he waved it once,
  looking with his brilliant eyes up and out, beyond the river. “The
  damn-Yankees went away, and if the damn-Yankees come any more, they
  can go away over again—”

  “Gordon! don’t use injurious epithets!” said Miss Lily, very gently.

  Edward laughed and said good day. Farther on, keeping step for a
  moment with a venerable old gentleman, he asked, “What, sir, are all
  those small excavations in the hillsides, there, beyond the houses—”

  “They are refuges, sir, for the women and children and sick and
  helpless. We made them when Farragut came up the river and Porter came
  down it and poured shot and shell in upon us every few days for a
  month or two! If signs may be trusted, it is apparent, sir, that we
  shall find use for them again.”

  “I am afraid it is. I am not sure that it is correct to try to hold
  the place.”

  The old gentleman struck his cane against the ground. “I am no
  strategist, sir, and I do not know a great deal about abstract
  correctness! But I am not a giver-up, and I would eat mule and live in
  a rat-hole for the balance of my existence before I would give up
  Vicksburg! Yes, sir! If I were a two-year-old, and expected to live as
  long as Methuselah, those would be my sentiments! Damn the
  outrageousness of their presence on the Mississippi River, sir! Our
  women are heroic, sir. They, too, will eat mule and live in rat-holes
  for as long a time as may be necessary!—No, sir; the President may be
  trusted to see that the town must be held!”

  “Will General Johnston see it so?”

  The old gentleman wiped his forehead with a snowy handkerchief. “Why
  shouldn’t he see it so? He’s a good general. General Pemberton sees it
  so. Why shouldn’t General Johnston see it so?”

  Edward smiled. “Evidently you see it so, sir.—Yes; I know that except
  for Port Hudson, it’s the only defensible place between Memphis and
  New Orleans! We won’t cross swords. Only our forces aren’t exactly as
  large as were Xerxes’!”

  “Xerxes! Xerxes, sir, was an effete Oriental!—I gather from your
  accent, sir, that you are from Virginia. I don’t know how it may be
  with Virginia,—though we have heard good reports,—but our people,
  sir,—our people are determined!”

  “Oh,” said the other, with a happy laugh. “I like your people mighty
  well, sir! Do you happen to know where the ——th Virginia is camped?”

  The old gentleman waved his hand toward another and still broader
  street. Cary, passing into it, found more banners, more garlands, more
  people, and in addition carriages and civic dignitaries. In front of
  him, before a dignified, pillared residence, was an open place with
  soldiers drawn up. He gathered that this was the vacant lot for which
  he was searching, but nearer approach failed to reveal the ——th
  Virginia. A lieutenant stood beneath a tree, pondering his forming
  company. Edward saluted, begged for information.

  “——th Virginia? Ordered off at dawn to Grenada. Something’s up over
  that way. Grant making a flourish from Oxford, I reckon. Or maybe it’s
  Van Dorn. Do you belong to the ——th Virginia?”

  The major came up. “Are you looking for the ——th Virginia? Yes? Then
  may I ask if you are Edward Cary? Yes? Then I promised Captain
  Carrington to look out for you. He was worried—he said that you must
  have been hurt worse than he thought—”

  “I was not badly hurt, but a levee broke and flooded that region, and
  I could not get by.”

  “I am glad to see you. It’s not only Carrington—I’ve heard a deal
  about you from a brother of mine, in your class at the University,
  Oliver Hebert.”

  “Oh, are you Robert?”

  “Yes. Oliver’s in Tennessee with Cleburne. I hope you’ll dine with me
  to-day? Good! Now to your affair. The regiment’s going on to-morrow to
  Grenada with the President and General Johnston. You’d best march with
  us. We’re waiting now for the President—detachment’s to act as escort.
  He’ll be out presently. He slept here last night.”

  The company, whose first line had opened to include Edward, moved
  nearer the pillared house. Orderlies held horses before the door,
  aides came and went. Down the street sounded music and cheering. An
  officer rode before the waiting escort.

  “_Attention!_”

  “That’s Old Joe they’re cheering,” said the private next Edward. “Glad
  Seven Pines couldn’t kill him! They say he’s got a record for
  wounds—Seminole War—Mexican War—little scrimmage we’re engaged in
  now!—always in front, however. I was at Seven Pines. Were you?”

  “Yes.”

  “Awful fight!—only we’ve had so many awful fights since—There he
  is!—_General Johnston! General Johnston! General Johnston!_”

  Johnston appeared, spare, of medium height, with grizzled hair,
  mustache and imperial, riding a beautiful chestnut mare. But recently
  recovered from the desperate wound of Seven Pines, recently appointed
  to the command of the Department of the West, the bronze of the field
  had hardly yet ousted the pallor of illness. He rode very firmly,
  sitting straight and soldierly, a slight, indomitable figure, instinct
  with intellectual strength. He lifted his hat to the cheering lines
  and smiled—a very sweet, affectionate smile. It gave winsomeness to
  his quiet face. He was mingled Scotch and English,—somewhat stubborn,
  very able.

  Beside him rode General Pemberton, commanding the forces at Vicksburg
  and Grenada. The two were speaking; Edward caught Johnston’s quick,
  virile voice. “I believed that, apart from any right of secession, the
  revolution begun was justified by the maxims so often repeated by
  Americans, that free government is founded on the consent of the
  governed, and that every community strong enough to establish and
  maintain its independence has a right to assert it. My father fought
  Great Britain in defence of that principle. Patrick Henry was my
  mother’s uncle. Having been educated in such opinions, I naturally
  returned to the State of which I was a native, joined my kith and kin,
  the people among whom I was born, and fought—and fight—in their
  defence.”

  He reached the broad steps and dismounted. As he did so, the door of
  the house opened and the President, a number of men behind him, came
  out upon the portico. Tall and lean as an Indian, clear-cut,
  distinguished, theorist and idealist, patriot undoubtedly, able
  undoubtedly, Jefferson Davis breathed the morning air. Mississippi was
  his State; Beauvoir, his home, was down the country. He looked like an
  eagle from his eyrie.

  Johnston having mounted the steps, the two met. “Ah, General, I wish
  that I were in the field with this good town to defend!”

  “Your Excellency slept well, I trust—after the people would let you
  sleep?”

  “I slept. General Pemberton, good morning—What are your arrangements?”

  “In a very few moments, if your Excellency pleases, we will start. The
  line of works is extensive.”

  “Haynes Bluff to Warrenton,” said Johnston. “About fifteen miles.”

  “It is not expected,” said Pemberton, “that his Excellency shall visit
  the more distant works.”

  Mr. Davis, about to descend the steps, drew a little back. Between his
  brows were two fine, parallel lines. “You think, General Johnston,
  that the lines are too extensive?”

  “Under the circumstances—yes, your Excellency.”

  “Then what is in your mind? Pray, speak out!”

  “I think, sir, that one strong work should be constructed above the
  town, at the bend in the river. It should be made very strong. I would
  provision it to the best of our ability, and I would put there a
  garrison, say of three thousand. The remainder of General Pemberton’s
  forces I would keep in the field, adding to them—”

  “Yes? Pray, be frank, sir.”

  “It is my custom, your Excellency. I hesitated because I have already
  so strongly made this representation that I cannot conceive.... Adding
  to them the Army of the Trans-Mississippi.”

  “I cannot consent to rob Peter, sir, to pay Paul.”

  “I conceive, sir, that it is neither Peter nor Paul that is in
  question, but the success of our arms. The enemy’s forces are uniting
  to invade. Equally ours should unite to repel. General Holmes and his
  army are doing little in Arkansas. Here they might do much.—If we had
  the strong works and garrison I speak of—”

  “You would abandon all the batteries up and down the river?”

  “A giant properly posted will guard the Mississippi better than will
  your long line of dwarfs.”

  “Pray, sir, do not say _my_ line of batteries. They are not mine.”

  “I will say, then, your Excellency, General Pemberton’s.”

  “You, sir, and not General Pemberton, are in command of the Department
  of the West.”

  “So, when it is convenient, it is said. I have, then, sir, authority
  to concentrate batteries and a certain proportion of troops at the
  bend of the river?”

  “We will take, sir, your ideas under consideration.”

  The President moved to the steps, the others following. The line was
  still between Mr. Davis’s brows. All mounted, wheeled their horses,
  moved into the street. The aides came after, the escort closed in
  behind. With jingle and tramp and music, to salutes and cheering, the
  party bent on inspection of the Vicksburg defences moved toward its
  object.

  The words upon the portico had not of course floated to the ears of
  the soldiers below. But the Confederate soldier was as far removed
  from an automaton as it is conceivable for a soldier to be. Indeed,
  his initiative in gathering knowledge of all things and moods
  governing the Board of War was at times as inconvenient as it was
  marked. His intuition worked by grapevine.

  “What,” asked the soldier nearest Edward, “made the quarrel?”

  “Old occasions, I believe. Now each is as poison to the other.”

  The inspection of water batteries and field-works was over, the review
  of the afternoon over. Amid cheering crowds the President left
  Vicksburg for Grenada, with him General Johnston and General
  Pemberton. The regiment which had given Edward Cary hospitality made a
  night march.

  In the cold December dawn they came to a stream where, on the opposite
  bank, a cavalry detail could be made out watering its horses. There
  was a bridge. Infantry crossed and fraternized.

  “What’s the news? We had a big day in Vicksburg yesterday! The
  President and Old Joe—”

  “Have you heard about the raid?”

  “What raid?”

  “Boys, they haven’t heard!—Oh, I see our captain over there telling it
  to your colonel.”

  “That’s all right! We’ll get it from the colonel. But you fellows
  might as well tell—seeing that you’re dying to do it! What raid?”

  “Van Dorn’s raid—our raid! Raid on Holly Springs! Raid round Grant!
  _Yaaaih! Yaaiih! Yaaaaih!_”

  A tall and strong trooper, with a high forehead, deep eyes, and a
  flowing black beard, began to speak in a voice so deep and sonorous
  that it boomed like a bell across the water. “Van Dorn’s a jewel. Van
  Dorn loves danger as he might love a woman with a temper. When she’s
  smiling she’s so white-angry, then he loves her best. Van Dorn rides a
  black thoroughbred and rides her hard. Van Dorn, with his long yellow
  hair—”

  “Listen to Llewellen chanting like the final bard!—Well, he is
  handsome,—Van Dorn!”

  “He ain’t tall, but he’s pretty. Go on, Llewellen!”

  “Van Dorn riding like an Indian—”

  “He did fine in the Comanche War. Did you ever hear about the arrow?”

  “Van Dorn and two thousand of us—two thousand horse!”

  “Dead night and all of them fast asleep!”

  “Holly Springs—Grant’s depot of supplies—three months’ stores for
  sixty thousand men—”

  “Burnt all his supplies—cut his lines of communication—captured the
  garrison!—Hurrah!”

  “Ulysses S. Grant’s campaign’s deranged—”

  “Reckon Vicksburg’s safe for this time! Reckon he’ll have to trot
  Sherman back to Memphis—”

  “Reckon he’ll have to clear out of Mississippi himself!”

  “Light as hell in the dead night and all of them scampering! Hurrah!
  Van Dorn and two thousand horse—”

  “‘Now, men,’ says Van Dorn, ‘I want Glory with a capital letter, and I
  reckon we’re most of us built the same way! Well, Glory Hallelujah is
  growing round Grant’s army like tiger lilies round a beehive—’”

  “Van Dorn and two thousand horse—took ’em like a thunderclap! Burned
  three months’ supplies for sixty thousand men—cut their lines—”

  “Toled danger away from Vicksburg—”

  “Van Dorn and—”

  _Fall in! Fall in!_

  That evening the infantry regiment bivouacked within sight of Grenada.
  The next morning, early, it swung out toward the Yallabusha. Passing a
  line of ragged sentries it presently came to a region of ragged, huge
  fields with cotton all ungathered, ragged, luxuriant forest growth,
  ragged, gully-seamed, low hills. From behind one of these floated the
  strains of “Dixie” played by ragged Confederate bands. The regiment
  climbed a few yards and from a copse of yellow pine looked down and
  out upon a ragged plain, an almost tentless encampment, and upon a
  grand review of the Army of the West.

  _Halt! In place! Rest!_

  The regiment, leaning on its muskets, watched through a veil of
  saplings. Officers and men were vividly interested and comment was
  free, though carried on in low tones. Not far below waved the colours
  marking the reviewing-stand. The music of the massed bands came from
  the right, while in front a cluster of well-mounted men was moving
  down the great field from division to division. A little in advance
  rode two figures. “The President and General Johnston,” said the
  colonel and the major and the captains. “Old Joe and the President,”
  remarked the men.

  The day was bright and still and just pleasantly cold. A few white
  clouds sailed slowly from west to east, the sky between of the
  clearest azure. A deep line of trees, here bare or partly bare, here
  evergreen, marked the course of the Yallabusha. The horizon sank away
  in purple mist. The sun came down and glinted brightly on sixteen
  thousand bayonets, and all the flags glowed and moved like living
  things. The trumpets brayed, the drums beat; there stood out the
  lieutenant-general, Pemberton, the major-generals, Loring and Dabney
  Maury and Earl Van Dorn, the latter laurel-crowned from as brilliant a
  raid as the War had seen. Back to the colours fluttering beneath a
  live-oak came the reviewing party. Brigade by brigade, infantry,
  cavalry, and artillery, the army passed in review.

  Past the President of the Confederacy went an array of men that, in
  certain respects, could only be matched in the whole earth by the
  other armies of that Confederacy. They were of a piece with the Army
  of Tennessee now operating near Chattanooga, and with the Army of
  Northern Virginia now watching Burnside across the Rappahannock, and
  with other grey forces scattered over the vast terrain of the War.

  It emerged at once how spare they were and young and ragged. There
  were men from well-nigh every Southern State; from Georgia, Alabama,
  Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, Kentucky, the Carolinas;—but
  whether they came from lands of cotton and cane, or lands of apple and
  wheat, they were alike lean and bronzed and ragged and young. Men in
  their prime were there, and men past their prime; there did not lack
  grey-beards. Despite this, the impression was overwhelmingly one of
  youth. Oh, the young, young men, and lean as Indians in winter!
  Brigade by brigade,—infantry, cavalry, artillery,—with smoke-stained,
  shot-riddled colours, with bright, used muskets, with the guns, with
  the war-horses, with the bands playing “Dixie,” they went by Mr. Davis
  and General Johnston beneath the live-oak.

  Toward noon the regiment from Vicksburg found its chance to report,
  and a little later Edward Cary rejoined his command. The command was
  glad to see him; not all his comrades understood him, but they liked
  him exceedingly. That night, the first lieutenant, with whom at the
  University, he had read George Sand and the dramas of M. Victor Hugo,
  found him seated under a yellow pine with a pine stump for table, and
  a pine torch for lamp, slowly covering with strong, restrained
  handwriting, several sheets of bluish Confederate paper.

  The lieutenant threw himself down upon the pine needles. “Writing
  home?”

  “No. Not to-night.”

  Two letters lay addressed in their envelopes. The lieutenant, weary
  and absent-minded, took them up, fingering them without thinking.
  Edward drew the letter he was writing into the shadow, guarded it with
  his arm, and, smiling, held out the other hand.

                   Colonel Henry Gaillard,
                       —— Louisiana Cavalry,
                                          Mobile,
                                              Alabama.

                    Captain Louis Gaillard,
                        —— Louisiana,
                                     Barton’s Brigade—

  read the lieutenant. He dropped the letters. “I am sure I beg your
  pardon, Cary! I didn’t in the least think what I was doing!”

  “There’s no harm done, Morton.” He repossessed himself of the letters,
  struck the torch at another angle, and turned from the forest table.
  “Morton, I’m going in for promotion.”

  The lieutenant laid down his pipe. “Well, if you go in for it, I’ll
  back you to get it, but I thought you said—”

  “I did.”

  “What do you want it for? Vain-glory?”

  Edward locked his hands behind his head. “No; not for
  vain-glory—though it’s remarkable how brothers and fathers and
  kinsfolk generally like the _clang_ of ‘Colonel’ or ‘Brigadier’! After
  the Merrimac and Monitor I wouldn’t take promotion, but I did get a
  furlough.... Morton, I’m going in for furloughs and a
  lieutenant-colonelcy. Back me up, will you?”

  “Oh, we’ll all do that!” quoth Morton. “You might have entered as
  captain and been anything most by now—”

  “I didn’t care to bother. But now I think I will.”

  “All right!” said Morton. “I gather that presently there will be
  chances thick as blackberries.”



                               CHAPTER IV
                            CHICKASAW BAYOU


  For ages and ages, water, ceaselessly streaming, ceaselessly seeping,
  through and over the calcareous silt, had furrowed the region until
  now there was a medley and labyrinth of narrow ravines and knife-blade
  ridges. Where the low grounds opened out it was apparently only that
  they might accommodate bayous, or some extension of a bayou, called by
  courtesy a lake. Along these the cane was thick, and backward from the
  cane rose trees and trees and trees, all draped with Spanish moss. It
  had been a rainy winter, a winter of broken banks and slow, flooding
  waters. Sloughs strayed through the forest; there was black mire
  around cypress and magnolia and oak. The growth in the ravines was
  dense, that upon the ridges only less so. From Vicksburg, northward
  for several miles, great clearings had recently been made. Here, from
  the Upper Batteries above the town to Haynes Bluff on the Yazoo,
  stretched grey field-works, connected by rifle-pits.

  Chickasaw Bayou, sullen and swollen, curved away from the scarped
  hills and the strip of forest. On the other side of Chickasaw, and of
  that width of it known as McNutt’s Lake, there was shaking
  ground—level enough, but sodden, duskily overgrown, and difficult.
  This stretched to the Yazoo.

  Down the Mississippi from Memphis came Sherman with thirty thousand
  blue infantry. They came in transports, in four flotillas, and in
  front went Porter’s Gunboat Squadron. Grant had planned the campaign.
  With the forces which had been occupying southwestern Tennessee, he
  himself was at Oxford. He would operate by land, overwhelming or
  holding in check Pemberton’s eighteen thousand at Grenada. In the mean
  time Sherman, descending the Mississippi to the mouth of the Yazoo,
  some miles above Vicksburg and its river batteries, should ascend that
  stream, flowing as it did not far to the northward of the doomed
  town;—ascend the Yazoo, disembark the thirty thousand, and with a
  sudden push take Vicksburg in the rear. It was known that there were
  but five thousand troops in the place.

  The plan was a good plan, but Van Dorn disarranged it. Grant, his base
  of supplies at Holly Springs captured and all his stores destroyed,
  was compelled to fall back toward Memphis. He sent an order to
  Sherman, countermanding the river expedition, but Sherman had started
  and was well down the vast yellow stream, the gunboats going ahead.

  On the twenty-third of December these entered the Yazoo, to be
  followed, three days later, by four flotillas. There ensued several
  days of Federal reconnoitring. The Yazoo, not so tortuous as the great
  stream into which it flowed, was yet tortuous enough, and in places
  out of banks, while the woods and swamps on either side were
  confusing, wild, and dark. Necessary as it may have been, the
  procedure militated against taking a city by surprise. The grey had
  notice of the gunboats, and of the trail of flotillas.

  Pemberton acted with promptness and judgment. Grant was not so far
  away that the forces at Grenada could be utterly weakened, but the
  brigades of Barton, Vaughn, and Gregg were detached at once for
  Vicksburg. There, on the line from the sandbar north of the town to
  Haynes Bluff, they joined the provisional division of Stephen D. Lee.
  The position was strong. The grey held the ridges crowned by
  field-works and rifle-pits. Before them spread the dark, marsh-ridden
  bottom land, crept through, slow and deep, by Chickasaw Bayou. They
  had greatly the advantage of position, but there were, on the strip
  between the Yazoo and the Walnut Hills, four men in blue to one in
  grey. At the last moment, in answer to a representation from General
  Martin Luther Smith, commanding the defences at Vicksburg, an
  additional regiment was despatched from Grenada. It chanced to be the
  ——th Virginia Infantry.

  The night was cold, very dark, and pouring rain. Vicksburg had been
  reached at dusk. There seemed no soldiers here. “Everybody’s out
  toward McNutt’s Lake. Reckon you’re wanted there, too!” The ——th
  Virginia found at last the man to report to, upon the heels of which
  event, without having tasted supper or experienced warmth, it
  discovered itself on the road to Chickasaw Bayou. “On the road” is
  merely a figure of speech. The regiment concluded that some time in
  the Bronze Age there might have been a road, but that since then it
  had been washed away. This was the Mud Age.

  In the pitchy dark, the chill, arrowy rain, the men stumbled along.
  Except for an occasional order, an occasional exclamation, impatient
  groan, long-drawn sigh, there was silence. They had some miles to go.
  To keep step was out of the question.

  Edward Cary, closing his file, moved with a practised, light
  steadiness. His body was very supple, fine, with long clean lines.
  From head to heel he was in order, like a Greek runner. Spare and worn
  and tired like all the rest, he kept at all times a certain lift and
  poise as though there were wings upon his cap.

  He was not like Richard Cleave. He had little innate feeling for War,
  intuitive understanding of all its phases. Being with all his people
  plunged deep, deep within it, he played his part there bravely enough.
  He served his native land, and her need and woe dwelt with him as it
  dwelt with all his world, both men and women. Much of him, perforce,
  was busy with the vast and mournful stage. But he found himself not
  truly at home with the war-drums and the wailing, with smell of blood
  and smoke, weight of shot-riddled banners, trampled faces. He was born
  for beauty and her worship, for spacious order and large harmony, and
  for months now there had been war and agony and smell of blood and
  sight of pale, twisted faces—for long months only that. And then
  somehow, accidentally it seemed, he had rubbed the lamp. Only ten days
  ago—oh, light and warmth and harmony! Oh, the strange and sweet in
  combination! Oh, serene spaces for the mind! Oh, golden piping and
  beckoning to emotions not stern! Oh, the deepest, oldest wine! Oh, by
  the oddest, simplest chance, sudden as a wind from Heaven, intimacy
  warm and fragrant with the Only-Dreamed-Of, the Never-Found-Before!
  Oh, in a word, the love of Désirée Gaillard!

  He was marching through the dark night, the mire, the cold, the wet.
  Certain centres of consciousness, no doubt, knew them all,—knew
  hunger, cold, weariness. But the overman, the Lover, moved through
  rose-scented dusk, through intricate, sweet thoughts, in some imaged
  Vale of Cashmere. Only not at all, not at all could he banish anxiety
  as to the Beloved’s well-being.

  About him, in the night, was the tramp, tramp of other weary feet, the
  dim sight and sound of other weary bodies, cold, wet, thinly clad.
  Most of these men in the darkness thought, perhaps, of beings far away
  from these labyrinthine ridges and hollows. Many a soldier warmed his
  heart by the fires of home, dreamed as he marched of lover, wife, or
  child. But the thoughts were shot with pain and the dreams were bitter
  sweet. No man in a Southern army could take comfort in the thought
  that whatever of want and strain and boding might obtain where he
  moved, ragged, through the darkness, all was well at home—comfort
  there, warmth and food there, ease of heart there! Many knew that at
  home there was immediate suffering; others, that while the board was
  spread to-night, yet the dark sail of privation grew larger and
  larger. All knew that there was little, little ease of heart. Marching
  through the rainy night they carried with them, heavier than musket
  and haversack, the ache of all at home, as, upon this night, all at
  home felt cold and gaunt with the marching, marching armies. Yet the
  South at home managed to keep a high head and a ready smile, and the
  South in the field managed a jest, a laugh, a song. At home and in the
  field vast need and stress lifted the man, lifted the woman, lifted
  the child. Some one in the ——th Virginia, moving out to Chickasaw
  Bayou, began to sing jerkily—

                    “Old Dan Tucker!
                    You too late to get your supper—”

  The regiment climbed another of the innumerable mole-hills, all stumps
  of recently felled trees, and between, tenacious and horrible mud. The
  far side was worse than the near, and the bottom land, when finally
  they slipped and slid and wavered down upon it, proved mere quagmire.
  Here they found, deeply mired, two sections of artillery, bound as
  they were bound and struggling with the night. Gun wheels were sunken
  above the axle-tree; it seemed a mud burial, a question of never
  getting out. One heard straining gun teams, chattering negro drivers.
  There were torches, saffron blurs of light, hissed against by the
  rain, moving up and down like dejected will-o’-the-wisps.

  Infantry came up. “Halfway to China, aren’t you? Want us to lend a
  hand?”

  “Thank you, boys! William, tell those mules to pull harder.”

  “What are you doing with mules? Has it come to mule artillery?”

  “Well, it’s coming to so many things!—We’re Army of
  Tennessee—Stevenson’s division—come down to help hold the Mississippi
  River. Right big eel, isn’t it? Rushed through—two sections,
  Anderson’s battery—from Jackson. Horses yet on the road. Impressed
  mules.—Lieutenant Norgrove, tell those darkies there’s a watermelon
  field in front of them and ‘paterollers’ behind!—Pull there! pull!”

  The howitzer came slowly up from halfway to China, the Napoleon
  followed, infantry encouraging. “You’ve trained your mules quick! That
  gun came from the Tredegar, didn’t it? Artillery’s a mighty no-account
  arm, but you sort of somehow grow fond of it—”

  “Aren’t you all Virginia?”

  “Yes; ——th Virginia. Aren’t you all—”

  “Of course we are! Botetourt. Anderson’s battery.—What’s the matter,
  Plecker?”

  “Firing ahead, sir, and those negroes are getting ready to stampede—”

  There broke and increased a wild night-time sputter of minies. Panic
  took the chance medley of negroes. They sprang from the horses, paid
  no heed to appeal or threat, twisted themselves from clutching hands,
  and vanished into darkness. Artillery, infantry helping, got the guns
  on somehow. Amid a _zip_—_zip_—_zip_ of minies both arms came to a
  grey breastwork where Stephen D. Lee was walking up and down behind a
  battery already placed.

  The dull light and rattle of skirmishes in the night died away. With
  it died, too, the rain. The dawn came spectrally, with a mist over
  McNutt’s Lake. One of Sherman’s division commanders had received
  orders to bridge this water during the night. Over the mournful,
  water-logged land the pontoons were brought from the Yazoo. Standing
  in the chill water, under the sweep of rain the blue engineers and
  their men worked courageously away, but when dawn came the pale light
  discovered the fact that they had not bridged the lake at all, but
  merely a dim, Briareus arm of the bayou, wandering off into the
  forest. They took up the pontoons, moved down the shore to the
  widening of the water, and tried again. But now the water was too
  wide. There were not boats enough, and while they were making a raft,
  the wood across McNutt’s filled with men, grey as the dawn. Tawny-red
  broke the flames from the sharpshooters’ rifles. A well-placed
  Confederate battery began, too, to talk, and the lake was not bridged.

  Barton’s brigade had come down to occupy the wood. When the bridge
  builders were driven away, it fell back to the high ground crested
  with slight works, seamed with rifle-pits, where were Vaughn and Gregg
  and Stephen D. Lee. Across the bayou the blue began to mass. There was
  a strip of corduroy road, a meagre bridge spanning the main bayou,
  then a narrow encumbered front, muck and mire and cypress stumps, and
  all the felled trees thrown into a grey abatis. The blue had as many
  divisions as the grey had brigades, but the grey position was very
  strong. On came the dull, December day,—raw, cold, with a lowering
  sky.

  The blue, assaulting force, the blue reserves, the division
  commanders, drew shoulders together, brows together, and looked across
  and upward doubtfully enough at the bluffs they were expected to take.
  Wade the bayou, break through the cane, cross that narrow front of
  brush and morass, attack at the apex of a triangle whose base and
  sides were held by an unknown number of desperate Rebels defending
  Vicksburg, a place that had got the name for obstinacy!—the blue
  troops and their generals, however hard they tried, could not at all
  visualize success. All the prospect,—the opposite height and the small
  grey batteries, the turbid, winding waters and the woods so strange to
  Northern eyes,—all was hostile, lowering. Indiana, Ohio, Illinois,
  Iowa drew uneasy breath, it was so sinister a place!

  An officer came from Sherman to the senior division commander.
  “General Sherman says, sir, that you will order the assault.”

  “It’s a bad place—”

  “Yes. He says we will lose five thousand men before we take Vicksburg
  and that we might as well lose them here as anywhere.”

  “All right. We’ll lose them all right. Tell him I’ll give the signal.”

  A grey rifle-pit, dug along the face of the hill, had received since
  dawn the attention of blue sharpshooters stationed in a distant row of
  moss-draped trees. The bottom of the long trench was all slippery mud,
  the sides were mud, the out-thrown, heaped earth atop was mud. Rest a
  rifle barrel upon it and the metal sank as into water. The screen of
  scrub along the forward rim was drenched, broken, insufficient.
  Through it the men in the pit looked out on a sodden world. They saw a
  shoulder of the hill where, in the early light, the caisson of an
  isolated gun had been exploded by a Federal shell. Horses and men lay
  beside it, mangled. Farther away yet, and earlier yet, they had seen a
  reconnoitring party enter a finger of land crooking toward the Federal
  lines, and beyond the cover of the grey guns. The blue, too, had seen,
  and thrusting forward a regiment cut off the grey party. The bulk of
  the latter hewed its way through, back to the shelter of the grey
  Parrotts, but there were officers and men left wounded in the
  wood.—The day was gloomy, gloomy! The smoke from Stephen Lee’s guns
  and from the answering Federal batteries hung clogged and
  indiffusible, dark and hard.

  “Somebody’s going to get hurt this day,” said the men in the
  rifle-pits. “There ain’t any joke about this place.”

  “Do you know I think they’re going to charge us? Just as brave as they
  are foolish!”

  “I don’t think much of Sherman’s capacities as a general. Grant’s the
  better man.”

  “They’re getting ready.—Well, I always did hate waste, whatever colour
  it was dressed in!”

  “My God! Even their bugles don’t sound cheerful!—

                   _Chickasaw—Chickasaw Bayou
                   The death of you—the death of you!_”

  Edward Cary, loading his rifle, had the cartridge knocked from between
  his fingers by the swaying against him of the man on the right. He
  moved, and the corpse slid softly down upon the miry bottom of the
  pit.

  The man on the left began to talk, a slow, quiet discourse not at all
  interfering with eye or hand. “Western troops, I reckon! They’ve
  always the best sharpshooters.—Is he dead? I’m sorry. I liked Abner.
  He had an application in for furlough. Wife ill after the baby was
  born, and the doctor writing that there might be a chance to save her
  mind if she could see Abner. Told me last night he was sure he’d get
  the furlough.—Can you see for those damned bushes? There’s a perfectly
  hellish fuss down there.”

  “The guns echo so. Here they come! And God knows I am sorry for
  them—for Abner here and Abner there! Martin, I hate War.”

  “It ain’t exactly Christian, and it’s so damned avoidable.—The baby
  died, and I reckon his wife—and she was a sweet, pretty girl—’ll go to
  the Asylum at Williamsburg—”

  “Here they come!—Here they come!—Here they come!” ... _Fire!_

  ... At last the dreadful repulse was over. Shattered, disorganized, in
  sullen and horrible confusion, Sherman’s brigades, the four that had
  charged, sank downward and back, a torn and beaten blue wave, into the
  dark forest beyond the bayou, the bayou whence they had come. In the
  water, in the mire and marsh and swamp, beside the sloughs in the
  forest, through the wild tangle of the abatis, over the narrow cleared
  ground, at the foot of the bluffs they had tried to storm, lay thick
  the dead and wounded. They did not number Sherman’s “five thousand,”
  but then neither was Vicksburg taken. The blue had charged without
  order, all formation broken, forced together in a narrow space, and
  they had rolled, a broken flood, back upon the dark bayou. As the rain
  had fallen in the night-time, so now fell the grey shot and shell, and
  they were beaten down like wheat beneath hail. The chill air was
  filled with whistling. The pall of the smoke added itself to the pall
  of the clouds. It was like fighting under a great and dingy tent with
  the stark cypress trees for tent poles. By the closing-down of day the
  desperately defeated had rolled back toward the Yazoo. Their dead and
  dying strewed the tent floor.

  If there was relief and exultation on the heights it found no
  strenuous voice. The dreariness of the day and place, the streaming
  wet and sighing wind somehow forbade. The grey loss was slight
  enough—two hundred men, perhaps, in killed and wounded. Some lay
  within or below the rude works, some upon the hillside and the low
  ground where there had been a countercharge, some down by the abatis,
  fallen before the pursuit was recalled. It had been idle really to
  pursue. Sherman had thirty thousand, and the gunboats. A detachment or
  two streamed down, over the fatal and difficult ground, dislodging
  from a momentary shelter some fragment of the blue wave, cutting off
  and taking prisoner. Occasional thunder came from a battery, or a
  crack of rifles shook the clinging gloom. But the atmosphere deadened
  the sound, and the rain came down again fine and cold, and though the
  grey soldiers had reason for cheer and tried their best, it was but a
  makeshift glee. They had known hot joy in battle and would know it
  again, but it did not haunt the fight of Chickasaw Bayou.

  There were yet the wounded that the reconnoitring party had left
  behind in the twilight wood. Volunteers were called for to bring them
  in. The wood crooked toward the enemy’s lines, might at any moment be
  overflowed by the blue. Edward was among those who stood forward. The
  lieutenant of the other night beside the Yallabusha raised his brows.
  “Don’t volunteer too often,” he said. “There’s no promotion in a
  trench with a hundred others! Furloughs can be too long.”

  In the dusk the platoon went zigzagging down into the wood by the
  bayou. It went through the zone of Federal wounded. “_Oh, you people!
  take us up; take us out of this! O God—O God—O God! Water!_” To the
  last cry neither grey nor blue in this war failed to answer when they
  could. Despite all need for haste and caution there were halts now,
  canteen or cup held to thirsty lips, here or there a man helped nearer
  to muddy pool or stream. “_Take us up—take us out of this!_”

  The grey shook their heads. “Can’t do that, Yanks. We would if we
  could, but we’re sent to get our own. Reckon your side’ll be sending a
  flag of truce directly and gather you up. Oh, yes, they will! We would
  if we could. You charged like hell and fought first-rate!”

  “Silence, men! Get on!”

  It was dusk enough in the wood which they finally reached. The bayou
  went through it crookedly, and from the other side of the water came
  the hum of Sherman’s troubled, recriminatory thousands. They were so
  close that orders might be heard and the tread of the sentries. The
  men in grey broke rank, moved, two and two, cautiously through the
  cane looking for the wounded. The cane grew thick, and for all it was
  so sodden wet might be trusted here or there for a crackling sound.
  The trees grew up straight from black mud. They were immensely tall
  and from their branches hung yards and yards of moss, like tatters of
  old sails or like shrivelled banners in a cathedral roof. Large birds
  sat, too, upon the higher limbs, watching. Beneath lay killed and
  wounded, a score or so of forms half sunk in the universal swamp. The
  searchers left the dead, but where there was life in a figure they
  laid hold of it, head and feet, and bore it, swiftly and silently as
  might be, out of the wood, back to the rising, protected ground.

  Edward and the man with him found an officer lying between huge knees
  of cypress. The cane walled him in, a hand and arm hung languid in the
  dark water. Kneeling, Edward felt the heart. “He’s far and far away,
  but there’s a chance, perhaps. Take the feet.”

  Half an hour later, by a great camp-fire behind a battery, surgeons
  and helpers took these wounded from the hands of the men who had gone
  after them.

  Stephen D. Lee and General Seth Barton were standing by. “Thank God,”
  said the former, “for a small field hospital! After Sharpsburg—ugh!”

  A major of Wither’s brigade walked slowly between the rows. “It was
  the ——th Louisiana cut off in the wood. There’s an officer or two
  missing—”

  “This is an officer, sir,” said Edward. “He was living when we lifted
  him—”

  General Barton came across. “He is not living now. A handsome man!...
  He lies there so stately.... A captain.”

  Edward held out his hand—in it an envelope. “This fell from his coat,
  sir. The bullet went through it—” The movement brought hand and letter
  into the ruddy light. Involuntarily he uttered an exclamation. “It is
  addressed to me!”

  The major rose from his knees. “Quite dead.... And you would have
  called him Fortune’s favorite. It is Louis Gaillard from down the
  river—Cape Jessamine.”



                               CHAPTER V
                             FORT PEMBERTON


  Van Dorn’s raid and the battle of Chickasaw Bayou made of naught the
  December ’62—January ’63 push against Vicksburg. Grant fell back to
  Memphis. McClernand, Sherman’s superior, withdrew the thirty thousand
  column from before the Walnut Hills, to the Yazoo and down it, into
  the Mississippi and up that vast and turbid stream. His forces
  reunited, Grant, a stubborn, good soldier, studied in his quiet
  fashion, a cigar between his teeth, the map of the region. His
  instinct was always to strike out straight before him. The river, for
  all its windings, was the directest road to Vicksburg. Late in January
  he brought a great army down the Mississippi and landed it on the
  Louisiana side, some miles above the town that must be taken. Here,
  too, above the line of danger from the grey river batteries, he
  anchored his ships-of-war.

  During the past summer the Federal General Williams had conceived the
  project of canalling the tongue of land opposite Vicksburg, the almost
  islanded sliver of Louisiana soil. Cut through this thumblike
  projection, fill your great ditch from the river, let your fleet enter
  at Tuscumbia Bend, and hey, presto! emerge again upon the bosom of the
  Mississippi _below_ Vicksburg, the grey river batteries sweetly
  ignored; in a word all the grey defences of the Mississippi above
  Grand Gulf circumvented! The canal seemed worth digging, and so, in
  the summer, the blue had digged. But the summer was dry and the river
  low; it refused to enter the prepared by-path, and after a series of
  disappointments the digging had been discontinued. Now the season was
  wet, and the river brimming. With a large force of engineers and
  sappers, Grant began again upon the canal. But now there was too much
  moisture as before there had been too little. The water was so high
  that it ran into a hundred paths beside the one which the blue were
  digging. It turned the flat Louisiana shore into lake and quagmire.
  Impossible to trench with the semi-liquid stuff flowing in as fast as
  it was thrown out!—impossible to keep an army encamped in a morass!
  Again there was a withdrawal.

  From higher ground and reaches of the river far above Vicksburg,
  Grant, the cigar between his teeth, parallel lines showing across his
  forehead, studied flank movements.... The Yazoo again!—though it
  seemed a stream of ill omen. Not that Grant thought of omens. He was
  not superstitious. A plain, straightforward, not over-imaginative,
  introspective, or sophisticated person, he did not so much plan great
  campaigns as take, unswervingly, the next common-sense step. His merit
  was that, in the all-pervading fog of war, it was usually upon firm
  ground that he set his step. Not always, but usually. The Yazoo.... It
  flowed southward from the Tennessee line. There it was called the
  Coldwater. Farther down, in northern Mississippi it became the
  Tallahatchie, into which flowed the Yallabusha. Lower yet it was named
  the Yazoo, and so flowed into the Mississippi. Throughout its course
  it drained a vast, flat, egg-shaped lowland, overshot by innumerable
  lesser streams, lakes, and bayous, rising into ridge and bluff at the
  southern end of the egg. Named the Valley of the Yazoo, it was
  reported to be enormously fertile and a storehouse from which
  Vicksburg and all the exaggerated grey armies in Tennessee and
  Mississippi were fed. Moreover, at Yazoo City, where the three-named
  stream became finally the Yazoo, there existed, said Secret Service, a
  big Confederate navy yard where gunboats were rapidly hatching. To get
  into that valley from the northern end, come down those rivers,
  surprise Yazoo City and spoil the nest of gunboats, then on like a
  swooping hawk and take Vicksburg in the rear!... Grant put out his
  hand for another cigar. _But_ the Valley of the Yazoo was said to be
  in effect roadless, and though the Yazoo from Yazoo City downwards was
  navigable, the Tallahatchie and the Coldwater were not. Then came in
  Admiral Porter with a well-considered plan, though an audacious one
  and ticklishly dependent upon a thousand circumstances.

  Some distance below Memphis there was a point where the Mississippi
  and the Coldwater came within calling distance of each other. Between
  was only the Yazoo Pass—and Yazoo Pass was a bayou which anciently had
  connected the two. Anciently, not now; for years before a levee had
  been built, shutting off bayou from river, and preventing untoward
  floods in the upper Yazoo Valley. Assemble a fleet over against Yazoo
  Pass, cut the levee, and so lift the water in the Coldwater and the
  Tallahatchie, then proceed down those streams with the vessels-of-war
  and as many transports as needed, take Yazoo City, enter the Yazoo,
  and so on triumphantly! Grant chewed the end of his cigar, then nodded
  acquiescence.

  On the third of February, after much time spent in digging, they laid
  and exploded a mine. The levee broke in rout and ruin. Like a tiger
  from the jungle out leaped the Mississippi, roaring down to the bayou.
  Yazoo Pass became a furious yellow torrent, here spume and eddy, here
  torn arms of trees, an abatis in motion. The Coldwater received the
  flood and bore it on to the Tallahatchie. But so angry were the
  churning waters by the gate in the levee that days passed before the
  ironclads DeKalb and Chillicothe, the rams Fulton and Lioness, the
  tinclads Forest Rose, Marmora, Rattler, Romeo, Petrel, and Signal, and
  all the transports in the rear could attempt that new-made passage. At
  last they did enter the Yazoo Pass and made slow way to the Coldwater,
  only presently to find that the grey troops had felled the tall, tall
  trees on either bank and thrown them into the stream. There, arms
  interlocked, they made for miles an effective barrier, removed only
  after slow days and days of effort. The stream wound like a tortured
  serpent. There presented themselves strange currents, pits, and
  shoals. The bed was unknown, save that it possessed a huge variety of
  snag, bar, and obstacle. The flood was narrow, and the thick
  overhanging forest obscured and fretted. Every turn presented a fresh
  difficulty. The fleet made three miles a day. Behind it crept, crept
  the transports, forty-five hundred men under Generals Ross and Quinby.
  There was much sickness and the fret, fret of utter delay. It was late
  February before the expedition entered the Coldwater, early March
  before it approached the Tallahatchie. Here it encountered afresh
  felled trees like endless bundles of jackstraws, thrown vigorously,
  crossed under water at every imaginable angle. A little later the blue
  scouts brought news of Fort Pemberton.

  The Southern spring was at hand, a mist of young leaf and bloom, a
  sound of birds, a sapphire sky, a vapour, a warmth, a rhythm. Edward
  Cary loved it, and said that he did so, lying after supper, on the
  bank of the Tallahatchie, under the cotton-bale rampart of the
  cotton-bale fort that was to keep the enemy out of the Yazoo. The rest
  of the mess agreed—lovely spring, lovely evening! They lit corn-cob
  pipes and clay pipes and fig-stem pipes, and stretched themselves on a
  meagre bit of dry earth, beside a clump of Spanish bayonet. The sun
  dipped behind the woods across the river, leaving air and water an
  exquisite coral. There were seven men—five privates, a corporal, and a
  sergeant-major. All were tall and all were lean and none was over
  thirty. One bore an old Huguenot name and the forbear of one was a
  Highland chief. The others were mainly of English stock, names of
  Devon, Surrey, and Sussex. Two were university men, sons of great
  planters, born into a sunny and settled world that after their
  majority overclouded. Three had less of that kind of fortune and had
  left for the war a lawyer’s office, a tobacco warehouse, and an
  experiment in mining. The sergeant-major was of the yeoman type, a
  quiet man with little book learning and a name in the regiment for
  courage and resource. The seventh man, very young, a grown-up-anyhow
  bit of mortality, who until he came to handle steel had worked in
  iron, stood next, perhaps, to Edward Cary in the affections of the
  mess. Dreadful as was this war, it had as a by-product the lessening
  of caste. Men came together and worked together as men, not as
  conventions.

  “Yes, it is lovely,” said the warehouse man. “I used to think a deal
  about beauty.”

  “Woman’s beauty?”

  “No. Just plain beauty. Cloud or sea or face or anywhere you found it.
  At the end of every furrow, as Jim might say.”

  Jim, who was the sergeant, shook out rings of smoke. “It ain’t only at
  the end of the furrow. I’ve seen it in the middle.”

  The worker in iron stretched his thin body, hands under his young
  head. “I like fall better’n spring. Late fall when it’s all red and
  still, and at night there are shooting stars. Spring makes me sad.”

  “What are you doing with sadness?” asked Edward. “You had as well talk
  of Jack-o’-Lantern being sad!—I like all seasons, each with its proper
  magnificence! Look at that pine, black as wrath—”

  “Look at the pink water about the old Star of the West—

                      ‘The charmed water burnt alway
                      A still and awful red.’”

  “I hated to see the Star sunken. After all her fighting—Sumter and
  all—”

  “Well, we’ve put her where she’ll fight again! It ’s a kind of
  Valhalla ending to lie there across Grant’s path.”

  “You can see a bit of spar. And the rosy water all around—rosy as
  hope. Do you hear that bird over there in the swamp? Boom—boom—boom!
  Mournful as a whip-poor-will.... Heavens! if I could hear the
  whip-poor-wills in Virginia!—Have you got any tobacco?”

  The soldier from the lawyer’s office sat up. “Grand Rounds? No. It’s
  the General by himself! Heard him say once he had a taste for
  sunsets.”

  Loring, one-armed since Mexico, impatiently brave, with a gift for
  phrases, an air, and a bearing, came down the threadlike path through
  the palmetto scrub. With three guns and fifteen hundred men he held
  this absurd structure called Fort Pemberton, and from hour to hour
  glanced up the Tallahatchie with an experienced and careless eye. If
  he expected anything more than a play flotilla of cock-boats, his
  demeanour did not show it. In practice, however, he kept a very good
  drill and outlook, his pieces trained, his earthworks stout as they
  might be in the water-soaked bottom lands, and he had with discretion
  sunk the Star of the West where she lay, cross channel, above the
  fort. He was very well liked by his soldiers.

  The seven on the river bank rose and saluted. He made the answering
  gesture, then after a moment of gazing up the Tallahatchie walked over
  to a great piece of driftwood and seated himself, drawing his cloak
  about him with his one hand.

  “I want to study that water a bit. Go on with your pipes, men.—I
  thought I smelled coffee.”

  “It was made of sweet potato, sir,” said the sergeant-major
  regretfully, “and I’m afraid we didn’t leave a drop. We’re mighty
  sorry, sir.”

  “Well,” said Loring amicably, “I don’t really like sweet potato
  coffee, though I’d drink brimstone coffee if there were no other kind
  of coffee around. That’s one of the things I never could understand
  about General Jackson—he never drinks coffee. The time we could all
  have sold our souls for coffee was that damned Bath and Romney
  trip.... Ugh!” He gazed a moment longer on the rosy, narrow stream and
  the violet woods across, then turned his eyes. “You’re ——th Virginia?
  There isn’t one of you a Cary by chance?”

  “I am Edward Cary, sir.”

  “Come across,” said Loring; and when he came gave him a knotted arm of
  the driftwood. “I heard from Fauquier Cary not long ago, and he said
  you were down this way and to look out for you. He said he didn’t know
  whether you were a survival or a prophecy, but that anyhow your family
  idolized you. He said that from all he had read and observed War had
  an especial spite against your kind—which, perhaps,” said Loring, “is
  not a thing to tell you.”

  Edward laughed. “As to War, sir, the feeling is reciprocal. He’s of
  those personalities who do not improve on acquaintance.—Dear Fauquier!
  The family idolizes him now, if you like!”

  “Yes, he’s of the finest. I knew him in Mexico. Gallant as they make
  them!—He has lost an arm.”

  “Yes—at Sharpsburg.”

  “It’s no little loss,” said Loring. “By the way—you knew Maury
  Stafford?”

  “Yes.”

  “The word ‘Sharpsburg’ brought him up. He was taken prisoner
  there—unfortunate fellow! There has been no exchange?”

  “I have heard of none. They will not exchange.”

  “Infernal tactics!”

  “It’s all infernal. I have grown to see no sense in this war. North
  and South, we surely might have been wiser.”

  “That may be,” said Loring. “But we are in it now and must act
  according to tradition.—Maury Stafford!—He was with me during that
  wretched, abortive, freezing, and starving Romney expedition. I was
  very fond of him. It aches me to think of him in prison.”

  Edward sighed. “Yes, I am sorry, too.”

  “Was he not,” asked Loring, “was he not engaged to your sister?”

  “No.”

  “Indeed? I thought some one told me so.... He has a fine nature.”

  “In many ways—yes.”

  “Well, we may be talking of the dead. No one seems to have heard. It’s
  like a tomb—prison! North and South, they die like flies.... Damn it
  all, such is war!”

  “Yes, sir.... I beg your pardon, but isn’t there something moving on
  the river—very far up, beyond that line of purple?”

  Loring whipped out his field-glass, looked, and rose from the
  driftwood. “Gunboats!” A bugle blew from the earth-and-cotton-bale
  fort, drums began to roll. “Get to your places, men! If Grant thinks I
  am going to let him get by here, he’s just mistaken, that’s all!”

  With three guns and fifteen hundred men and cotton-bale walls and the
  sunken Star of the West, Loring made good his words—though it was not
  Grant in front of him, but Grant’s lieutenants. Two ironclads, two
  rams, seven tinclads crept up that night, anchoring above the sunken
  Star. Behind them came slowly on the transports with the forty-five
  hundred infantry. Dawn broke, and the gunboats, feeling their way,
  found the Star. Vexation and delay! They undertook to blow her up, and
  while they sank torpedoes the transports nosed along the river bank
  trying to find firm landing in a bottom country flooded alike by the
  spring rains and the far-away broken levee. They could not find it,
  and on board there was restlessness and complaining. The Star of the
  West was hard to raise. She clung fast, fought stanchly still for the
  Stars and Bars.... The third day the Chillicothe and DeKalb got by,
  steamed down to the fort, and began a raking fire. The rams, too, and
  several of the tinclads came wriggling through the clearance in the
  channel. There followed a three days’ bombardment of the crazy fort,
  all hastily heaped earth and cotton bales, rude trenches, rough
  platforms for the guns, all squat in the marshy land, wreathed with
  cannon smoke, musket smoke, topped by the red square with the blue and
  starry cross! Behind the screen of the gunboats the transports sought
  continuously for some _terra firma_ where the troops might land. They
  could not find it. All was swamp, overflowing waters, half-submerged
  trees. Above waved Spanish moss, swung vines spangled with
  sweet-smelling, satiny yellow bloom.

  The smoke from the river, the smoke from Loring’s three guns and
  fifteen hundred muskets met and blended, and, spreading, roofed out
  the cerulean, tender sky. Looking up, his men saw Loring, mature,
  imposing, standing high on the cotton-bale parapet, his empty sleeve
  pinned to his coat, gesturing with the remaining arm, about him the
  grey battle breath, above him the flag.

  “Give them blizzards, boys! Give them blizzards!” roared Loring.

  The most daring of the transports put a party ashore. But what to do?
  They struck out toward the fort and plunged waist deep into a mocking
  slough of the forest. Out of this they crossed a bank like mud
  turtles, and came into the wide overflow of a bayou. Beyond was a
  tangle of cane and vine, and here they began to feel the bullets of
  hidden grey sharpshooters. Beyond the cane was a cypress swamp,
  impossible twisted roots, knees, and hummocks; between, deep threads
  of water and bottomless black mire. Miserable and useless fight with
  an earth like this! The party turned, got back—torn, bemired, panting
  with fatigue—to the transports, ranged behind the gunboats and the
  cloud of smoke and the thunder of the iron men. Night came down, the
  smoke parted, stars shone out.

  Dawn came, and the battle renewed itself. Red flashes tore the mist on
  the Tallahatchie and the roaring sound made the birds flee the
  woodland. The gunboats worked hard, all unsupported by the blue
  infantry. The officers of the last stamped upon the transports’ decks.
  So near and yet so far! After weeks of tortoise crawling! Try again!
  Boats were lowered, filled, sent up bayous, along creeks spiralling
  like unwound thread, or brought alongside some bit of bank with an air
  of firmness. Vain! The bit of bank gave and gave under the cautious
  foot; the bayou spilled out upon plains of black mire in which you
  sank to the middle; the creeks corkscrewed away from Fort
  Pemberton.... In the afternoon the Chillicothe got a shell through her
  sides. The day went down in thunder and sulphurous cloud, the fleet
  belching broadsides, Fort Pemberton loudly replying, Loring on the
  ramparts shouting, “Give them blizzards, boys! Give them blizzards!”

  In the morning the Rattler turned and went back to the Coldwater,
  Yazoo Pass, and the Mississippi, in her cabin Watson Smith commanding
  the expedition, ill for days and now like to die. His second took
  command and the third day’s struggle began. But the Chillicothe again
  was roughly handled, and certain of the tinclads were in trouble. A
  ram, too, had lost her smokestack and carried a ragged hole just above
  her water line. And the infantry could not land,—gave up the attempt.
  All day the boats on the Tallahatchie and the courtesy fort crouched
  on her eastern bank roared and tugged. “_Yaaih! Yaaaii! Yaaihh!_” rose
  the grey shouting through the rolling smoke. Loring, slightly wounded,
  came out of a crazy tent at the back of the enclosure, crossed the
  encumbered space, and mounted again the cotton bales. The men cheered
  him loud and long. “Old Blizzard! Old Blizzard! Yes, sir! Yes, sir!
  We’re going to give them snow, rain, hail, and sleet!”

  The day weltered by, the rays of the sunset struck through
  powder-stained air. Then came silence, and a thinning of smoke, and at
  last the stars. On the DeKalb was held a council of war. The
  Chillicothe badly hurt, the commander of the expedition ill, sent back
  upon the Rattler, Quinby’s men not yet up, Ross’s quite unable to
  land, sickness, tedium, dissatisfaction, Heaven knew what going on in
  the Mississippi while they had been lost for endless weeks in a
  no-thoroughfare of half earth, half water, overhung by miasmas! The
  boats alone could not reduce this fort, and infantry that could not
  land was no better than infantry in the moon! Go back without anything
  gained? Well, the knowledge was gained that Vicksburg couldn’t be
  taken this way—and the guns had probably blown out of existence some
  scores of rebels! That much was gained. Sick and sore, the talk pulled
  this way and that, but in the end it was determined to put back. In
  the stillness before the dawn gunboats and rams and tinclads weighed
  anchor and steamed away, slowly, slowly up the difficult reaches of
  the Tallahatchie and Coldwater, back to Yazoo Pass and so out into the
  Mississippi. Behind them trailed the transports. At the mouth of Yazoo
  Pass they met with a scouting party and learned of a second
  expedition.

  Porter, fertile in expedients, was conducting this in person. With
  five Eads gunboats he was winding southward by way of innumerable
  joined streams,—Steele’s Bayou, Black Bayou, Deer Creek, Rolling Fork,
  finally the Sunflower which empties into the Yazoo,—while accompanying
  him on the land crept and mired from swamp to swamp troops of
  Sherman’s. Infantry and Eads flotilla, they reached at last Rolling
  Fork, but here they met grey troops and a determined check. Infantry
  proved as helpless in the swamps of the Sunflower as infantry had
  proved in the swamps of the Tallahatchie. Moreover detached grey
  parties took to felling trees and crossing them in the stream behind
  the gunboats. Porter saw himself becoming the eel in the bottle,
  penned in grey toils. Nothing for it but to turn, figuratively to back
  out—the region being one of all the witches!

  The Tallahatchie expedition, the Sunflower expedition, returned to the
  Father of Waters. Here, on the western bank, they found Grant, cigar
  in mouth, lines across brow, studying the map between Vicksburg and
  Port Hudson. Upon the grey side Loring waited at Fort Pemberton until
  his scouts brought news of the clearance of the Yazoo Valley, but he
  waited with only half his force, the other moiety being withdrawn to
  Vicksburg.

  Edward Cary, marching with these troops, marched into Vicksburg on an
  April day,—Vicksburg indomitable; Vicksburg with a wretchedly
  inadequate number of picks and spades extending her lines of
  breastworks, forming salients, mounting batteries, digging trenches,
  incidentally excavating refuges—_alias_ “rat-holes”—for her
  non-combatant citizens; Vicksburg extremely busy, with an air of
  gaiety not altogether forced! Life, nowadays, had always and
  everywhere a deep organ bass, but that was no reason the cymbals and
  castanets should not come in if they could.

  That afternoon, in an encampment just below the town, he came into
  possession of an accumulation of mail, home letters, letters from
  comrades in various commands, other letters. It was a time of rest
  after arduous marching. All around him, on the warm spring earth, lay
  the men of his company. They, too, had letters and long-delayed
  newspapers. They read the letters first, mused over them a little,
  with faces wistful or happy or tragically anxious as the case might
  be, then turned with avidity to the papers, old though they were. A
  little man with a big, oratorical voice had got a Richmond _Examiner_
  of a none-too-recent date. Sitting cross-legged on a huge magnolia
  stump he read aloud to a ring of listeners, rolling out the items like
  a big bass drum.

  “News from the Mississippi—”

  “That’s us!”

  “‘As we go to press it is reported that Grant has met at Fort
  Pemberton a worse repulse than did Sherman at Chickasaw Bayou, the
  gallant Loring and his devoted band inflicting upon the invaders a
  signal defeat. Thousands were slain—’”

  “Hm! Old Blizzard’s gallant all right, and we’re devoted all right,
  and they’re invaders all right, and we certainly made them clear out
  of the Yazoo Valley, but somehow I didn’t see those thousands slain!
  Newspapers always do exaggerate.”

  “That’s true. Nature and education both. North and South—especially
  North. That New York paper, for instance, that we got from the picket
  at Chickasaw—”

  “The one that said we tortured prisoners?”

  “No. The one that said we mutilated the dead. They’re all Ananiases.
  Go on, Borrow.”

  “‘Farragut has succeeded in running the batteries at Fort Hudson. The
  mouth of the Red River—’”

  “We know all that. What ’re they doing in Virginia?”

  “Marse Robert and Stonewall seem to be holding south bank of
  Rappahannock. Fighting Joe Hooker on the other side’s got something up
  his sleeve. He and ‘the finest army on the planet’ look like moving.
  The paper says Sedgwick’s tried a crossing below Fredericksburg, but
  that General Lee’s watching Ely and Germanna fords. Here’s an account
  of Kelly’s Ford and the death of Pelham—”

  “Read that,” said the men.

  Edward left them reading, listening, and making murmured comment. At a
  little distance rose a copse overrun with yellow jessamine. Entering
  this, he sat down at the foot of a cedar and, laying by the home
  letters and the letters from comrades, opened one written on thin,
  greyish paper, in a hand slender yet bold:—


  _My Heart_,—

  I am glad that it was you who found him. _O Louis, Louis, Louis!_... I
  am not going to write about him.... I loved him, and he loved me....
  Oh, we give, we give in this war!

  I hear from my father, broken-hearted for his son, tender and loving
  as ever to his daughter. I hear, too, from your father—a letter to
  keep forever, praising you to me so nobly! And Judith Cary has
  written. I shall love her well,—oh, well!

  Where are you this stormy night? I sit before the fire, in the gilt
  chair, and the magnolia strikes against the window pane, and I hear,
  far off, the thunder and shouting, and if I could I would stay the
  bullets with my hands.

  The enemy is cutting the levees on this side, up and down the river.
  If they cut a certain one, it will be to our disaster at Cape
  Jessamine. The negroes grow frightened, and now every day they leave.
  I did not mean to tell you all this. It is nothing.

  Where are you this night of rainy wind? I look into the fire which is
  low at this hour, and I see ranged cannon, and banners that rise and
  fall. And may the morning—and may the morning bring me a letter!

                                           Thine, all thine,

                                                     DÉSIRÉE GAILLARD.


  A week later, having been granted the furlough for which he asked, he
  found himself below Natchez, bargaining with two black ferrymen to
  take him across the river.



                               CHAPTER VI
                               THE RIVER


  The two men were strong, magnificently formed negroes, one
  middle-aged, one young. “It ain’t easy, marster,” said the first.
  “River’s on er rampage. Jes’ er-look how she’s swirlin’ an’ spittin’
  an’ sayin’ things! An’ erbout every day now dar’s er crevasse! Yankees
  make them befo’ breakfast. When dishyer river tuhns sideways an’
  shakes down de land a boat ain’ so safe as ef ’t was er mountain-top.”

  “Dat’s so!” said the other. “Hit’s wuth twenty-five dollars,
  Confederate money.”

  Edward produced and held between thumb and forefinger one gold dollar.

  “Git the oars, Daniel!” said the elder negro. “Yes, sah, we certainly
  will git you ercross an’ down the river the best we kin!”

  Out pushed the boat into the yellow, sullen river. It was running
  swift and rough. Edward sat with his chin in his hand, his eyes upon
  the farther shore, bathed in a golden, shimmering, spring-time light.
  It was slow rowing across this stream, and the shore far off.

  The negroes began to sing.

             “I’se gwine tell you ob de comin’ ob de Saviour!
               Far’ you well! Far’ you well!
             Dar’s er better day er comin’,
               Far’ you well! Far’ you well!
             When my Lord speaks ter his Father,
               Far’ you well! Far’ you well!
             Says, ‘Father, I’m tired of bearin’,’
               Far’ you well! Far’ you well!
             ‘Tired of bearin’ fer pore sinners,’
               Far’ you well! Far’ you well!—”

  The Louisiana shore came softly nearer. It was a jewelled and spangled
  April shore, that sent out sweet breath from flowers without number.
  Viewed at a little distance it seemed a magic green curtain, rarely
  embroidered; but when it came nearer its beauty was seen to be shot
  with the sinister, the ghostly, even, vaguely, with the terrible.
  Hereabouts rose a great forest through which deep bayous crept to join
  the river, into which, too, the river ran an inlet or so like a
  Titan’s finger. The boat with the two negroes and the soldier turned
  its head downstream, following the loops of the river and the
  scalloped shore. To-day, indeed, there seemed no proper shore. The
  shore had turned amphibian. White cypress, red cypress, magnolia,
  live-oak, in and out between them sucked the dark water. Vines and the
  wild festoons of the grey moss mirrored themselves within it; herons
  kept watch by rotting logs over dusk pools swept by the yellow
  jessamine; the water moccasin slipped beneath perfumed thickets, under
  a slow, tinted rain of petals. At intervals there opened vast vistas,
  an endless and mournful world of tall cypress trunks propping a roof
  that was jealous of the sun. In the river itself were islets,
  magically fair, Titania bowers, a loveliness of unfolding leaf,
  delicate and dreamlike enough to make the tears spring. It was past
  the middle of the day; heat and golden haze in the sun, coolness and
  cathedral gloom where the enormous woodland threw its shadow.

  Now the negroes were silent and now they were talkative, passing
  abruptly from one mood to the other. Everything in their range of
  speech was dwelt upon with an equal volubility, interest, and
  emphasis. A ruined eagle’s nest, a plunging fish-hawk, the
  slow-sailing buzzards, difficulties with the current, the last duel
  between gun-boats, the latest dash of a Confederate ram, the breaking
  levees, a protuberance on a bar of black slime and mud which, on the
  whole, they held to be a log, until with a sudden dull gleaming it
  slid into the water and proved to be a turtle—all things received an
  equal dole of laughter with flashing teeth, of amiable, vivid,
  childlike discussion. Sometimes they appealed to the white man, and
  he, friendly minded, at home with them, gave in a word the information
  or settled with two the dispute. “That’s so! that’s so!” each agreed.
  “I done see hit that-er-way, too! That’s right, sir! Quarrelling is
  powerful foolish—jes’ as foolish as gittin’ drunk!”

  Any swiftness of work was, in these parts, for the river alone. The
  boat moved slowly enough, here caught by an eddy, here travelling
  among snags and bars, doubling with the river, following the wave line
  of the water-logged shore. The sun’s rays began to fall slantingly.
  Through the illimitable forest, down between the cypress trunks, came
  flights of golden arrows.

  “We are not far from Cape Jessamine?”

  “No, marster. Not very far.”

  Silence fell again. They turned a horn of land, all delicate,
  flowering shrubs, and ran beneath a towering, verdurous bank that
  rained down odours. It laid, too, upon the river, a dark, far-reaching
  shadow.

  The younger negro spoke with suddenness. “I belongs to Cape
  Jessamine.”

  Edward turned. “Do you?—Why were you up the river and on the other
  side?”

  “Hit ain’t safe any mo’ at Cape Jessamine. But I ain’t no runaway,
  sah. Miss Désirée done tol’ us to go.” He felt in his shirt, took out
  a piece of bandanna, and unwrapped from it a piece of paper which he
  held out to Edward. “Dar’s my pass, all right, sah! She done tol’ us
  to go, an’ she say she don’ know that she’ll ever call us back. She
  say she mighty fond of us, too, but all things er-comin’ down an’
  er-changin’ an’ er-changin’! Hit ain’t never any more gwine be lak hit
  was.”

  “How many have gone?”

  “Mos’ everybody, sah. Yankees come an’ tek de cattle an’ de meal, an’
  dar wa’n’t much to eat. An’ ef er man or er yaller gal step in er rain
  puddle dey wuz took with er shakin’-fit, cryin’ out dat de river was
  er-comin’! She say we better go. De Fusilier place—way back an’ crosst
  the bayou where de river couldn’t never git—she done sont de women an’
  chillen dar, an’ Madam Fusilier she say she tek care ob dem des ez
  long ez dar’s anything in de smokehouse an’ de meal ain’ stolen—”

  “The overseer—did he get well?”

  “No, sah. He hurt he hip, an’ ole Brer Fever come er-long an’ he
  died.”

  “Then who _is_ at Cape Jessamine with—?”

  “Dar’s her mammy, sah, who wouldn’t go. An’ ’Rasmus an’ Mingo an’
  Simon.... Plantation beg Miss Désirée to come away, too, but she say
  ‘No,’ we go, but she’s got er responsibility—an’ she doubt ef de river
  come anyway. Yes, sah. She say she got her post, but dat hit’s all
  right for us to go, de meal givin’ out an’ all. An’ she say she
  certain’y is fond of us, every one, an’ she come down de great house
  porch steps an’ shake hands all round—” He took the slip of paper and
  wrapped it carefully in the bandanna, “When de war’s over I’se gwine
  right back.”

  Edward spoke to the older man. “How real is the danger?”

  “Of the river coverin’ Cape Jessamine, sah? Well, they’ve cut a
  powerful heap of levees. It’s lak this.” He rested on his oars and
  demonstrated with his hands. “Cape Jessamine’s got water mos’ all
  around it anyhow. It comes suckin’ in back here, suckin’ and
  underminin’. The Mississippi’s er powerful, big sapper an’ miner—the
  biggest kind of er one! It might be workin’ in the cellar like under
  Cape Jessamine this very minute. And then ergain it might not. Ain’
  nobody kin really tell. Though nowadays it’s surely lucky to expect
  the worst. Yes, sah, the Mississippi’s er bigger sapper an’ miner than
  any they’ve got in the army!”

  They went on, by the dense woodland, beneath the low sun. A cypress
  swamp ran back for miles. In this hour the vast, knotted knees, dimly
  seen, innumerable, covering all the earth, appeared like sleeping
  herds of an ancient monster. The wash of the water was like the
  breathing of such a host. All the country here was very low, and over
  it there began to be drawn a purple veil. It was as still as a dream.
  The boat passed between two islets covered with a white flower, and
  came into sight of a point of land.

  “Cape Jessamine!” said the young negro.

  It lay painfully fair, an emerald breadth with groups of trees, seen
  through the veil like a fading dream which the mind tries to hold, and
  tries in vain, it is so fair! There was magic in the atmosphere; to
  look down the river was to look upon a vision. Edward looked, bent
  forward, his eyes steady and wide.

  “Row fast!” he said in his friendly voice. “I want to go back now.”

  They rowed fast, by monstrous white cypresses, under boughs hung with
  motionless banners of moss, by fallen trees, decaying logs,
  grotesquely twisted roots. The boat kept in the shadow, but the light
  was on Cape Jessamine. Presently they could see the lofty pillars of
  the house, half veiled in foliage, half bare to the sinking sun. They
  were now not half a mile away. The distance lessened....

  They were skirting a muddy shore, rowing amid a wild disorder of
  stumps that rose clear from the water, of dead and fallen trees, dead
  and far-flung vines. There came to the boat a slight rising and
  falling motion.

  “What’s dat?” said the young negro.

  His fellow turned and stared. “Lak er swell from er steamer, only
  there ain’t any steamer on the Mississippi these days—”

  “O my Lawd, what dat sound?”

  The boat rocked violently. “Oh, Destruction, not there!” cried Edward
  Cary.

  Cape Jessamine went down, down. They saw and heard; it was before
  their eyes; the bending pillars, the crashing walls, the trees that
  fell, the earth that vanished, the churned and horrible water.... They
  saw the work of the river, the sapper who worked with a million
  hands.... Shrieking, the negroes drove the boat head into the muddy
  shore, leaped up and caught at the overhanging boughs. Their frail
  craft was stayed, resting behind a breakwater of dead limbs. “O
  God-er-moughty! O God-er-moughty!” wailed the young negro.

  Edward stood like marble. It had been there celestially fair—his port
  and haven and the wealth it held. It was gone—gone like a mirage. The
  red sun sank and left the wild world a wide waste.... The darkness,
  which, in this latitude, followed at once, was unwelcome only because
  it closed the door on search, hopeless and impossible as would search
  have been in that cauldron of earth and water. The inner darkness was
  heavier than that which came up from the east. Through it all the long
  night throbbed like a dark star, now despair, now hope against hope.

  They fastened the boat with a rope to a great projecting piece of
  Spanish bayonet. For a while, despite the sheltered spot into which
  they had driven, it rose and fell as though it were at sea, but this
  passed with the passing hours. At last the excited negroes fell quiet,
  at last they lay asleep, head pillowed on arms. As best he might Cary
  wore out the darkness.

  It was not yet dawn when he roused the negroes. The boat lay quiet
  now; the river was over its disturbance of the evening before. Since
  its origin deep in past ages the river had pulled down too many
  shores, swallowed too many strips of land to be long concerned over
  its latest work. Yellow and deep and terrible, on it ran, remorseless
  and unremembering. The boat on the edge of the swamp, in the circle of
  projecting root and snag, lay quiet. Above and around it hung lifeless
  from the boughs the grey moss. Bough and moss, there was made a vast
  tracery through which showed the primrose sky, cold, quiet, infinitely
  withdrawn. Looking down the stream, all that was missed was Cape
  Jessamine. The yellow water rolled over that.

  “There was a bayou a mile or two back,” said Edward. “The one on which
  stood ’Rasmus’s house. It ran north and south and the road went across
  it. Can we get to that bayou?”

  “Yes, sah. Hit’s haid ain’ far from here. But we’d have to leave de
  boat.”

  “It is fastened and hidden. You will find it again.”

  The elder negro looked doubtful. “We’s poor men, marster. Ain’t
  anybody to look after us now—”

  “I ain’ er-carin’ how poor I is,” broke in the younger. “I’se gwine.
  Ef dey got warnin’ dey might hab took to de bayou, crosst hit, an’
  went on to de Fusilier place. But hit don’ look ter me lak de river
  give any warnin’.”

  “That’s what we’ve got to see,” said Edward. He touched the shoulder
  of the elder black. “You’re a good man, like Daniel here! Leave the
  boat and come on.”

  In the deep wood, among the cypresses, the light was faint enough. The
  three crept over the purple brown hummocks, the roots like stiffened
  serpents. Now and again they plunged into water or black mire. Edward
  moved in silence, and though the negroes talked, their voices were
  subdued to the place. It was slow, slow going, walking among traps. An
  hour passed. The cypresses fell away and cane and flowering vines
  topped by giant magnolias took their place.

  “Haid of bayou,” said Daniel.

  They found an old dugout half full of water, bailed it out, and began
  to pole down the narrow, winding water, that ran two miles in the wood
  behind the lost Cape Jessamine.

  “If she had even an hour—” said Edward.

  “Miss Désirée des’ er-sa’nter er-long,” said Daniel, “but what she
  wan’ ter do, hit gets done lak er bolt ob lightnin’ runnin’ down de
  sky! Dar’ ain’ any tellin’. Ef she saw hit er-comin’ she sholy mek ’em
  move—”

  On either hand the perfumed walls came close. Far overhead the trees
  mingled their leaves and through the lace roof the early light came
  stilly down. The water was clear brown. Each turn brought a vista,
  faintly lit, tapering into mist, through which showed like smoked
  pearl mere shapes of trees. They went on and on, to a low and liquid
  sound. A white crane stood to watch them, ghostly in its place.
  Isolation brooded; all was as still as the border of the world.

  Turning with the turning water they found another reach with pearl
  grey trees. A boat came toward them out of the mist, a dugout like
  their own, with a figure, standing, poling. In the greyness and the
  distance it was not immediately to be made out; then, as the boat came
  nearer, they saw that it was a woman, and another minute told her
  name.

  The young negro broke into a happy babbling. “Miss Désirée ain’ gwine
  let de river drown her!—no, nurr her mammy, nurr Mingo, nurr Simon,
  nurr ’Rasmus! She got mo’ sence dan de river. ‘Ho!’ she say, ‘you ol’
  river! You can tek my house, but you can’t tek me! I des walk out lak
  de terrapin an’ leave you de shell!’”

  She came out of the mist into the morning light, into the emerald and
  gold. She rowed bareheaded, standing straight, slender, and fine as
  Artemis. The elder negro dipped the oar strongly, the distance
  lessened with swiftness. When she saw Edward, she gave the singing cry
  he knew as though he had known it always....

  ’Rasmus’s cabin, it seemed, had been rebuilt. Here were mammy and
  ’Rasmus himself and Mingo and Simon, and a little bag of meal and a
  little, little coffee. Everybody had breakfast while the birds sang
  and the trees waved, and the honey bees were busy with all the flowers
  of the Southern spring. Later, there was held a council between
  General Cary and General Gaillard, sitting gravely opposite each
  other, he on a cypress stump and she on a fallen pine. The Fusilier
  place? Yes, the servants had best go there. Mammy, at any rate, must
  go. She was old and feeble, a little childish—and Madam Fusilier was a
  true saint who gave herself to the servants. Five miles down the road
  lived an old man who had a mule and a cart. Désirée had an idea that
  they had not been taken. The Fusilier place was fourteen miles away.
  They might get mammy there before night.

  “And you?”

  “I will take her there, of course.”

  “Madam Fusilier will insist upon caring for you, too.”

  “Undoubtedly. But I do not wish to stay at the Fusilier place. It is
  in the back country. News never comes there. You could not hear even
  the firing on the river. It is a cloister, and she is old and always
  on her knees. I would beat against the cage until I died or beat it
  down.”

  “Désirée, would you come with me? We could marry at Natchez, and the
  women are not leaving Vicksburg.... Oh, I cannot tell if I am giving
  you good counsel!”

  “It is a counsel of happiness.”

  “And of danger—”

  “I will take the danger.... Oh, that is so much better than the
  Fusilier place!”

  Two days later they left the friendly boatmen on the Mississippi side.
  An old family carriage which they overtook, creeping along the
  spring-time road, in it a lady, her little girl, and a maid, gave them
  a long lift upon the way. At the last they came into Natchez in an
  ambulance sent up from Port Hudson, in friendly company with a soldier
  with a bandaged leg and a soldier with a bandaged head and arm. In
  Natchez they were married.

  Three days passed and they entered Vicksburg. His furlough would
  expire the next morning. She knew people in this town, old friends of
  her mother’s, she said. She and Edward found the house and all was
  well. Her mother’s friends kissed her, laughed and cried and kissed
  her again, and then they shook hands warmly with her husband, and then
  they gave the two a cool high room behind a cascade of roses, and sent
  them cake and sangaree.

  As the evening fell, they sat together by the window, in the fair
  stillness, and relief of a place all their own.

  “The town is full of rumours,” he said. “There is news of a
  bombardment of Charleston, and we have had a success in Tennessee, a
  great raid of Forrest’s. Longstreet is being attacked south of the
  James. The armies on the Rappahannock appear to be making ready—”

  “And here?”

  “There is a feeling that we are on the eve of events. Grant is
  starting some movement, but what it is has not yet developed. There
  will be fighting presently—” He put out his hand and drew within the
  room a bough of the Seven Sisters rose. “Look, how they are shaded!
  Pale pink, rose, crimson.”

  He had letters from home which he presently took up from the table,
  opened, and read aloud. They were sprinkled with gracious references
  to his happiness and messages of love for Désirée at Cape Jessamine.

  “Oh, Cape Jessamine—oh, Cape Jessamine!”

  “This is from Molly. ‘Will you be able to see her before the war is
  over? They say it will be over this summer.’”

  “Molly is the little one? And I am here! We see each other, though the
  war is not over. Oh, there is no cup that has not the pearl dropped
  in—”

  “If you think this rose light comes only from the roses—”

  The dusk deepened to night, the night of the sixteenth of April, 1863.
  A perfumed wind blew through the town, the stars shone, the place lay
  deep in sleep, only the sentries walking their beat. From river
  battery to river battery, patrolling the Mississippi, went pickets in
  rowboats. They dipped their oars softly, looking up and down and
  across the stream. Toward the middle of the night they drew together
  in a cluster, and now they looked upstream. Then they separated and
  went in different directions, rowing no longer with slow strokes, but
  with all their strength of arm. The most made for the nearest shore
  battery, but others shot across to the small settlement of De Soto on
  the Louisiana bank. That which they did here was to fire a number of
  frame buildings near the water’s edge. Up soared the red pillars,
  illuminating the river. Across the water a signal shot boomed from the
  upper batteries. Up and down the bugles were heard. Lights sprung out,
  the wind filled with sound. Down the Mississippi, into the glare
  thrown by the burning houses came at full speed Porter’s ironclads,
  meaning this time to get by. The Benton, Lafayette, and Tuscumbia, the
  gunboats Carondelet, Pittsburg, Louisville, Mound City, the ram
  General Price, the transports Forest Queen and Silver Wave and Henry
  Clay—one by one they showed in the night that was now red. The
  transports were protected by bulwarks of cotton bales, by coal barges
  lashed to their sides. From the smokestacks of all rushed black clouds
  with sparks of fire. _Go ahead! Go ahead!_

  Vicksburg, that was to dispute the ownership of the Mississippi, had
  with which to do it twenty-eight guns. She was hardly a
  Gibraltar—Vicksburg; hardly ironclad and invulnerable, hardly fitted
  with ordnance sufficient for her purpose. The twenty-eight guns upon
  the bluffs above the river might be greatly served, they might work
  tirelessly and overtime, but it remained that they were but
  twenty-eight. Now in the midnight of the sixteenth of April, they
  opened mouth. At once the blue ironclads answered.

  The excited town came out of doors. On the whole it was better to see
  the shells than to hear them where you sat in dark rooms. The women
  had a horror of being caught within falling walls, beneath a roof that
  was on fire; they, too, preferred to meet death and terror in the
  open. Not that they believed that death was coming to many to-night,
  or that they could have been called terrified. Vicksburg was growing
  used to bombardments. The women gathered the children and came out
  into the streets and gardens. There had been that evening a party and
  a dance. The signal gun boomed hard upon its close; young girls and
  matrons had reached home, but had not yet undressed. They came out of
  doors again in their filmy ball gowns, with flowers in their hair. As
  the guns opened mouth, as the blue shells rose into the night, each a
  swift, brilliant horror, the caves were suggested, but the women of
  Vicksburg did not like the caves and only meant to use them when the
  rain was furious. Not all came out of doors. The young wife of a
  major-general was afraid of the night air for her baby, and stayed
  quietly by its cradle, and others kept by the bedridden. Vicksburg, no
  more than any other Southern town, lacked its sick and wounded.

  The signal shot had awakened Désirée and Edward. Before he was dressed
  there came the sound of the beaten drum in the streets below.

  “The long roll!” he said. “I must hurry. The regiment is camped by the
  river.”

  He bent over her, took her in his arms. “Good-bye, love! goodbye,
  love!”

  “Good-bye, love; good-bye, good-bye!”

  He was gone. With a sob in her throat she fell back, lay for a moment
  outstretched on the bed, face down, her hands locked above her head.
  The house shook, a light came in the window, there were hurried voices
  through the house and in the garden below. She rose and dressed,
  braiding her long hair with flying fingers, her eyes upon the red
  light in the sky. When she had done she looked around her once, then
  went out, closing the door behind her, and ran down into the garden.



                              CHAPTER VII
                              PORT GIBSON


  The twenty-eight guns sent out continuously shot and shell against the
  blue ironclads, the gunboats, the transports. The blue returned the
  fire with fervency. Not before had the shores rocked to such sound,
  the heavens been filled with such a display. The firing was furious,
  the long shriek and explosion of crossing shells, bluff and river
  screaming like demons. All the sky was lit. The massed smoke hung huge
  and copper red, while high and low sprang the intense brightness of
  the exploding bomb. The grey guns set on fire several transports.
  These burned fiercely, the coal barges, the cotton bales that made
  their shields betraying them now, burning high and burning hard. The
  village of De Soto was aflame. The Mississippi River showed as light
  as day, a strange red daylight, stuffed with infernal sound. Through
  it steadily, steadily, the blue fleet pushed down the river, running
  the gauntlet of the batteries. All the boats were struck, most were
  injured. A transport was burning to the water’s edge, coal barges were
  scattered and sunk. Firing as it went, each ironclad a moving
  broadside, the fleet kept its way. The twenty-eight did mightily, the
  gunners, powder-grimed automata, the servers of ammunition, the
  officers, the sharpshooters along the shore—all strove with
  desperation. Up and down and across, the night roared and flamed like
  a Vulcan furnace. The town shook, and the bluffs of the river; the
  Mississippi might have borne to the sea a memory of thunders. Less a
  sunken transport, less one burning low, less scattered and lost small
  craft, the fleet—scarred and injured though it was—the fleet passed!
  It ran the gauntlet, and at dawn there was a reason the less for
  holding Vicksburg.

  Two nights later other ironclads got by. Grant had now a fleet at New
  Carthage, on the Louisiana shore, halfway between Vicksburg and Grand
  Gulf. He proceeded to use it and the transports that had passed. The
  sky over the grey darkened rapidly; there came a feeling of
  oppression, of sultry waiting, of a storm gathering afar, but moving.
  Sherman again threatened to approach by the Yazoo, but that was not
  felt to be the head of the storm. From La Grange, in Tennessee,
  southward, Grierson was ruining railroads and burning depots of
  supplies, but that was but a raid to be avenged by a raid. In the
  cloud down the river was forging the true lightning, the breath of
  destruction and the iron hail. Vicksburg held its breath and looked
  sideways at small noises, then recovered itself, smiled, and talked of
  sieges in history successfully stood by small towns. On the
  twenty-ninth, Porter’s squadron opened fire on the Confederate
  batteries at Grand Gulf, and that night, under a fierce bombardment,
  ironclads, gunboats, and transports ran this defence also of the
  Mississippi. At dawn there was another reason the less for confining
  few troops in small places.

  On the thirtieth of April, Grant began to ferry his army across from
  the Louisiana shore. Brigade by brigade, he landed it at Bruinsburg,
  nine miles below Grand Gulf, sixty below Vicksburg. At Grand Gulf was
  Bowen with five thousand grey soldiers with which to delay Grant’s
  northward march. Between Bruinsburg and Grand Gulf ran Bayou Pierre,
  wide and at this season much swollen, but with an available bridge at
  Port Gibson. Bowen’s three brigades took the road to the last-named
  place, and Bowen telegraphed to Pemberton at Vicksburg for
  reinforcements. Pemberton sent Tracy’s Alabama brigade of Stevenson’s
  division, and with it Anderson’s Battery, Botetourt Artillery. The
  ——th Virginia, figuring in this story, marched also.

  They broke camp at dusk. “Night march!” quoth ——th Virginia. “Double
  time! Old Jack must have come down from Virginia!”

  The colonel heard. “Old Jack and Marse Robert are looking after
  Fighting Joe Hooker to-day. I saw the telegram. They’re moving toward
  the Wilderness.”

  “Well, we wish we were, too,” said the men. “Though the Mississippi is
  mighty important, we know!”

  There existed a road, of course, only it had not been in condition for
  a year. No roads were kept up nowadays, though occasionally some
  engineer corps momentarily bettered matters in some selected place in
  order that troops might pass. Troops had gone up and down this road,
  and the feet of men and horses, the wheels of wagons and gun-carriages
  had added force to neglect, making the road very bad, indeed. It was
  narrow and bad, even for Southern roads in wartime. To the aid of
  neglect and the usage of hoof and wheel had come the obliterating
  rains. Bayous, too, had no hesitation in flinging an arm across. It
  was a season when firm ground changed into marsh and marsh into lake
  and ordinary fords grew too deep for fording. Miles of the miserable
  road ran through forest—no open, park-like wood whereon one might
  travel on turf at the sides of the way, but a far Southern forest,
  impenetrable, violent, resenting the road, giving it not an inch on
  either hand, making raids and forays of its own. Where it could it
  flung poisoned creepers, shot out arms in thorn-mail, laid its own
  dead across that narrow track. It could also blot out the light, keep
  off the air.

  At midnight the Big Black River was reached. Oh, the reinforcements
  for Bowen were tired and worn! The night was inky, damp, and hot. The
  ——th Virginia, closing Tracy’s column, must wait and wait for its turn
  at the crossing. There was a long, old-type ferryboat, and many men
  and horses swam the stream, but it took time, time to get the whole
  brigade across! Broken and decaying wood was gathered and a tall fire
  made. Burning at the water’s edge, it murkily crimsoned landing and
  stream, the crowded boat slow passing from shore to shore, and the
  swimming, mounted men. Above it, on the north side, the waiting
  regiments threw themselves down on the steaming earth, in the rank and
  wild growth. The ——th Virginia, far back on the road, had a fire of
  its own. Behind it yet were the guns accompanying Tracy.

  As the fire flamed up Artillery drew near, drawn by the genial glow.
  “May we? Thank you! If you fellows are as wet as we are, you are wet,
  indeed. That last bayou was a holy terror!”

  “In our opinion this entire night’s a holy terror. Haven’t we met you
  before? Aren’t you the Botetourt Artillery?”

  “Yes. We’ve met a lot of people in this war, some that we liked and
  some that we didn’t! You look right likable. Where—”

  “Going out to Chickasaw Bayou. Pitch black night like this, only it
  was raining and cold. Your mules couldn’t pull—”

  “Oh, now we remember!” said Artillery. “You’re the ——th Virginia that
  helped us all it could! Glad to meet you again. Glad to meet anything
  Virginian.”

  “You’ve been out of Virginia a long time?”

  “Out of it a weary year. Tennessee, Cumberland Gap, Kentucky, and so
  forth. We sing ’most everything in this army, but the Botetourt
  Artillery can’t sing ‘Carry me back to Old Virginny’! It chokes
  up.—What’s your county?”

  Company by company, regiment by regiment, Tracy’s brigade got over the
  Big Black. Foot by foot the troops in the rear came nearer the stream;
  minute by minute the dragging night went by. Half seated, half lying
  on the fallen trunk of a gum, Edward Cary watched the snail-like
  crossing. When one dead tree burned down, they fired another. There
  was light enough, a red pulsing in the darkness through which the
  troops moved down the sloping bank to the ferryboat. The bank was all
  scored and trampled, and crested by palmetto scrub and tall trees
  draped with vines. The men stumbled as they went, they were so stiff
  with fatigue. Their feet were sore and torn. There was delay enough.
  Each man as he passed out of the shadow down to the boat had his
  moment of red light, a transitory centre of the stage.

  Cary watched them broodingly, his elbow on the log, his hand covering
  his mouth. “A bronze frieze of the Destined. Leaves of the life tree
  and a high wind and frost at hand.” An old man stood his moment in the
  light, the hollows in his cheeks plain, plain the thin and whitened
  hair beneath a torn boy’s cap. He passed. The barrel of his musket
  gleamed for an instant, then sank like a star below the verge. A young
  man took his place, gaunt, with deep circles about his eyes. The hand
  on the musket stock was long and thin and white. “Fever,” thought
  Edward. “Disease, that walks with War.” The fever-stricken passed, and
  another took his place. This was a boy, certainly not more than
  fifteen, and his eyes were dancing. He had had something to eat,
  Edward thought, perhaps even a mouthful of whiskey, he carried himself
  with such an impish glee. “Is it such fun? I wonder—I wonder! You
  represent, I think, the past of the human species. Step aside,
  honourable young savage, and let the mind of the world grow beyond
  fifteen!”

  On and down went the column, young, old, and in between. Two years
  earlier a good observer, watching it, would have been able fairly to
  ascribe to each unit his place in life before the drum beat. “A
  farmer—another—a great landowner, a planter—surely a blacksmith—a
  clerk—a town-bred man, perhaps a banker—another farmer—a professional
  man—a student—Dick from the plough—” and so on. Now it was different.
  You could have divided the columns, perhaps, into educated men and
  uneducated men, rough men and refined men, as you could have divided
  it into young men and old men, tall men and men not so tall. But the
  old stamp had greatly worn away, and the new had had two years in
  which to bite deep. It was a column of Confederate soldiers, poorly
  clad and shod, and, to-night, hungry and very tired. Soldier by
  soldier, squad, company, regiment, on they stumbled through prickly
  and matted growth down to the water of the Big Black and the one boat.
  The night wore on. One and two and three o’clock went by before the
  last of the ——th Virginia was over. Edward, standing in the end of the
  boat, marked the Botetourt Artillery move forward and down to the
  stream. There was a moment when the guns were drawn sharply against
  the pallor of the morning sky. There came into his mind an awakening
  at dawn on the battle-field of Frayser’s Farm, and the pale pink
  heaven behind the guns. But, indeed, he had seen them often, drawn
  against the sky at daybreak. There was growing in this war, as in all
  wars, a sense of endless repetition. The gamut was not extensive, the
  spectrum held but few colours. Over and over and over again sounded
  the notes, old as the ages, monotonous as the desert wind. War was
  still war, and all music was military. Edward and his comrades touched
  the southern shore of the Big Black, and the boat went back for the
  Botetourt Artillery.

  The reinforcements for Bowen made no stop for breakfast for men or for
  horses, but pushed on toward Grand Gulf. The day was warm, the forest
  heavily scented, the air languid. All the bourgeoning and blossoming,
  the running sap, the upward and outward flow, was only for the world
  of root and stem, leaf and bud. The very riot and life therein seemed
  to draw and drain the strength from the veins of men. It was as though
  there were not life enough for both worlds, and the vegetable world
  was forcing itself uppermost. All day Tracy’s column moved forward in
  a forced march. The men went hungry and without sleep; all day they
  broke with a dull impatience thorn and briar and impeding cane, or
  forded waist-deep and muddy bayous, or sought in swamps for the lost
  road. They were now in a region of ridge and ravine, waves of land and
  the trough between, and all covered with a difficult scrub and a maze
  of vines.

  A courier from Grand Gulf met the head of the column. “General Bowen
  says, sir, you’ll have to cross Bayou Pierre at Port Gibson. The
  bridge is there. Yes, sir, make a détour—yonder’s the road.”

  “That turkey track?”

  “Yes, sir. General Bowen says he surely will be obliged if you’ll come
  right on.”

  Sundown and Bayou Pierre were reached together. At the mouth of the
  bridge at Port Gibson waited an aide on horseback.

  “General Tracy?”

  “Yes, sir.”

  “General, we’re in line of battle across the Bruinsburg road, several
  miles from here! McClernand’s corps is in front of us and he’s got at
  least four divisions. General Bowen says he knows your men are tired
  and he’s sorry, but you must move right out. They’ll attack at dawn at
  latest. We aren’t but five thousand.”

  The reinforcements from Vicksburg moved out. At ten o’clock they got
  into line of battle—a hot, still, dark night, and the soft blurred
  stars swimming before the men’s eyes. When the order was given, the
  troops dropped down where they stood, lay on their arms, and slept
  like the dead.

  At two in the morning of the first of May the pickets began firing. Up
  rose the reinforcements. They looked for breakfast, but breakfast was
  scant indeed, a stopgap of the slightest description. Presently came
  the order, “Move to the left and support General Green.”

  Missouri formed Bowen’s left, and Missouri fought bravely at Port
  Gibson. It had to face treble its numbers, artillery and infantry. It
  faced them so stubbornly that for a time it bade fair to outface them.
  On that hot May day, on that steaming Southern battle-field, occurred
  strong fighting, grey and blue at grips, Victory shouting now here,
  now there, Defeat uncertain yet into which colour finally to let fly
  the deadly arrow. The battle smoke settled heavily. The bright
  colours, the singing-birds fled the trees and bushes, the perfume of
  flowers was smothered and vanished.

  Artillery on both sides became heavily engaged. The ——th Virginia,
  during one of those sudden and mysterious lulls coming suddenly in
  battle as in other commotions of the elements, found itself, after
  hard fighting, with nothing to do but to watch that corner of the
  fight immediately before it. The corner was but a small,
  smoke-shrouded one. Only general officers, aides, and couriers ever
  really saw a battle-field. The ——th Virginia gazed with feverish
  interest on what it could see and guessed that which it could not. It
  could guess well enough that for the grey the struggle was growing
  desperate.

  All this field was up and down, low ridge and shallow ravine. The ——th
  Virginia held a ridge. Over against it was a blue battery, and beyond
  the battery there might be divined a gathering mass of infantry. The
  ——th Virginia looked to its cartridge boxes. “Wish we had some guns!
  There won’t be much of this left—What’s that? Praise the Lord!” At a
  gallop, out of the smoke to the right, came a section of a grey
  battery, the guns leaping and thundering. Red-nostrilled, with
  blood-shot eyes up strained the horses. At the ridge-top, with an iron
  clang, all stopped. At once the gunners, grey wraiths in grey smoke,
  were busy; busy also at once the shapes upon the opposite ridge, blue
  wraiths in grey smoke. There was shouting, gesturing, then the flare
  and shriek of crossing shells. The ——th Virginia, still in possession
  of its spare moment, watched with an interest intense and critical.
  “Hello!” it said. “That’s the homesick battery! That’s the Botetourt
  Artillery!”

  Out of the haze in front, above the opposing crest, came a glint of
  bayonets, the blue infantry, coveting the grey ridge, moving forward
  under artillery support. The ——th Virginia handled its rifles.
  _Ready—take aim—fire!_ The blue failed to acquire the coveted ridge.
  The ——th Virginia, at rest once again in its corner of the field,
  looked sideways to see what the homesick battery was doing. There was
  a silence; then, “Give them a cheer, men!” said the colonel. “They’re
  dying fast, and it always was a brave county!”

  The shells from the many blue cannon came many and fast. It was
  necessary to clear the ridge of that grey section which stood in the
  way of a general advance. The gunners fell, the gunners fell, the
  officers, the horses. Dim in the universal cloud, from the left, a
  force was seen approaching. “Grey, I think,” said the lieutenant
  commanding this section of the Botetourt Artillery. “J.J. Smith, climb
  up on the roof of that cabin, and see what you can see!”

  J.J. Smith climbed. “Lieutenant Norgrove! Lieutenant Norgrove! they’re
  damn-Yankees—”

  Out of the smoke came a yellow light and a volley of lead. Gunner
  Number 8, J.J. Smith, fell from the roof of the cabin, desperately
  wounded. “Double canister!” shouted Norgrove.

  An orderly came up the back side of the ridge. The ——th Virginia was
  needed to cover a break in the line to the right. Off perforce went
  the regiment, with one backward look at the homesick battery, left
  without infantry support. An aide dashed up, rose in his stirrups, and
  shouted, “Move your guns to the ridge in your rear!” He was gone;
  Botetourt looked and shook its head. The horses were all killed. “Put
  your hands to them, men!” ordered Norgrove—and they tried. But the
  scrub was thick, the ground rough; there burst a frightful fire, shell
  and musketry, and on came the blue wave hurrahing. “All right! We
  can’t!” shouted Norgrove. “_Load!_ This hill’s Botetourt County—_Take
  aim!_—and we don’t propose to emigrate! _Fire!_”

  The blue guns threw death. Deep, many-atomed, resistless, up roared
  the blue wave. It struck and went over Botetourt County, and, taking
  the two guns, turned them on the Botetourt men. There were few
  Botetourt men now, Botetourt was become again the wilderness. Norgrove
  jerked the trail from a gun, a man in blue calling on him all the time
  to surrender. He made at the man, who lifted his rifle and fired.
  Norgrove fell, mortally wounded, fell by the side of J.J. Smith. He
  put his arms about the gunner, “Come on! Come on!” he cried.... The
  wave swept over Botetourt County, the dead and the dying.

  The ——th Virginia, fighting strongly in another quarter of the field,
  came in mid-afternoon to a stand between charges. All knew now that
  the day was going against them. The smoke hung thick, a dark velvet in
  the air, torn in places by the lightning from the guns. Grey and
  blue—all was dimly seen. The flags looked small and distant, mere
  riddled and blood-stained rags. The voice of War was deep and loud.
  The ——th Virginia, looking up from a hollow between the hills, saw two
  grey guns, stolid in the midst of wreck and ruin. The plateau around
  had a nightmare look, it was so weighted and cumbered with
  destruction. There was an exploded caisson, a wreck of gun-carriages.
  Not a horse had been spared. The agony of them was ghastly, sunk in
  the scrub, up and down and on the crest of the ridge.... A few grey
  gunners yet served the grey guns.

  A captain, young, with a strong face and good brown eyes, stood out,
  higher than the rest, careless of the keening minies, the stream of
  shells. “A habit is a habit, men! This battery’s got a habit of being
  steadfast! Keep it up—keep it up!”

  “Captain Johnston—Captain Johnston! They’ve killed Lieutenant
  Douthatt—”

  “Lay him in the scrub and fight on. How many rounds, Peters?—Two?—All
  right! You can do a good deal with two rounds—”

  “It’s the rest of the homesick battery,” said the ——th Virginia,
  “_Botetourt Artillery! Botetourt Artillery!_”

  There rushed a blue, an overpowering, a tidal wave—out of the smoke
  and din, bearing with it its own smoke and din, overmasteringly
  strong, McClernand’s general advance. At the same moment, on the left,
  struck McPherson. When the roar that followed the impact died, the
  blue had won the field of Port Gibson; the grey had lost.

  At sunset, Bowen’s retreating regiments re-crossed Bayou Pierre. The
  exhaustion of the troops was extreme. There was no food; the men sank
  down and slept, in the whispering Southern night, in the remote light
  of other worlds. At dawn began the slow falling-back upon Vicksburg.

  Lieutenant-General Pemberton telegraphed the situation to General
  Johnston in Tennessee, adding, “I should have large reinforcements.”

  In Tennessee, Rosecrans lay menacingly before Bragg. Johnston
  telegraphed to Pemberton, “Reinforcements cannot be sent from here
  without giving up Tennessee. Unite all your forces to meet Grant.
  Success will give you back what you abandoned to win it.”

  Pemberton, personally a brave and good man, looked out south and east
  from Vicksburg over the sparsely settled, tangled country. He looked
  west, indeed; but it was too late now to gather to him the Army of the
  Trans-Mississippi. His mind agreed that perhaps it should have been
  done in December.... The troops in Vicksburg and north of Vicksburg,
  the troops at Jackson, the troops falling back from Grand Gulf—leaving
  out the garrison at Port Hudson, one might count, perhaps, thirty
  thousand effectives. Unite all these, but not at Vicksburg ... move
  out from Vicksburg, manœuvre here and manœuvre there, and at last take
  Grant somewhere at disadvantage.... General Johnston’s plan as against
  the President’s.... Leave Vicksburg defenceless, to be taken by some
  detached force, by Sherman, by the Federal men-of-war that could now
  march up and down the Mississippi.... Pemberton looked out at the
  batteries that had been built, all the field-works, all the trenches.
  Most useless of all considerations moved him, the consideration of the
  pity, of the waste of all these. He looked at the very gallant town;
  he thought of the spirit of an old gentleman and prominent citizen to
  whom he had talked yesterday. “Before God,” said Pemberton, “I am not
  going to give up Vicksburg!”

  The third day after Port Gibson the ——th Virginia came again to its
  old camp above the river, just without the town. Here, the next
  morning, Edward Cary received an order to report to his colonel. He
  found the latter at Headquarters and saluted—the colonel being an old
  schoolmate and hopelessly in love with his sister Unity. “Cary,” said
  the colonel, “we’re poorer than the Ragged Mountains, but apparently
  we are considered highly presentable, a real crack command, dandies
  and so forth! The War Department wants a word-of-mouth description of
  Mississippi conditions. In short, there’s an embassy going to
  Richmond. The general came down and asked if my uniform was whole and
  if I could muster two or three men in decent apparel. Said I thought I
  could, and that there was a patch, but I didn’t think it would show. I
  am going to take you as my orderly. The train for Jackson leaves at
  midday.”

  “Yes, sir. It is ten now. May I have the two hours?”

  “Yes. I’ll take you on now. Tell your captain.”

  Outside he heard the news of the battle of Chancellorsville.

  “It was a victory!” said the men, sore from Port Gibson. “A big
  victory! We’re having them straight along in Virginia.”

  “It ain’t a victory to have Stonewall Jackson wounded.”

  “Telegram said he’d get well. Old Jack isn’t going to leave us. God!
  We’d miss him awful!”

  Edward and Désirée had one hour together. They spent it in the garden,
  sitting beneath a flowering tree.

  “How soon are you coming back? Oh, how soon are you coming back?”

  “As soon as we may. It must be soon, for the fighting will begin now.
  Port Gibson was but the opening gun.”

  “We have been making the cave for this house larger. A siege....”

  “I do not believe that we should pen ourselves up here. Grant can
  bring, if needed, a hundred thousand men. He is a dogged, earnest man.
  I think that we should concentrate as rapidly as possible and move
  from behind these walls. The odds are not much greater than they were
  in the Valley, or during the Seven Days.”

  “We have not General Jackson and General Lee.”

  “No, but the Government should give General Johnston free hand. He is
  the third.”

  “Oh, War!—When will it end and how?”

  “When we have fought to a stand-still. There is a Trojan feel to it
  all.... How beautiful you are!—fighter of floods, keeper of home!
  warrior and sufferer more than I am warrior and sufferer! I do not
  know how to say good-bye.”

  He had in Virginia three days. There was no time nor leave for
  Greenwood. His father was upon the Rappahannock, but in Richmond he
  saw Fauquier Cary. He had in Richmond two days.

  The town lay in May sunshine, in bloom of the earliest roses. They
  mantled the old porches, the iron balconies, while above the magnolias
  opened their white chalices. The town breathed gladness for the
  victory in the Wilderness, and bitter grief for the many dead, and
  bitter grief for Stonewall Jackson. Edward heard in Richmond the Dead
  March for Jackson and watched him borne through the sighing streets.
  He heard the minute guns, and the tolling bells, and the slow, heroic
  music, and the sobbing of the people. He saw the coffin, borne by
  generals, carried into the Capitol, upward and between the great white
  Doric columns, into the Hall of the Lower House, where it rested
  before the Speaker’s chair. He was among the thousands who passed
  before the dead chieftain, lying in state among lilies and roses,
  shrouded in the flag of Virginia, in the starry banner of the
  Confederate States. All day he heard the tolling of the bells, the
  firing of the minute guns.

  On the morrow began the return journey to the Mississippi, long and
  slow on the creeping, outworn train, over the road that was so seldom
  mended. On the train crept, for many hundred miles, until just within
  the boundaries of Mississippi, at a crowded station, the passengers
  heard grave news. Jackson, the capital of the State, was in Federal
  hands!—there had been a desperate and disastrous battle at Baker’s
  Creek, as desperate and more disastrous than Port Gibson!—there had
  been a Confederate rout at Big Black Bridge.... The colonel of the
  ——th Virginia, and the three or four officers and men with him, left
  the train, impressed horses, struck north, and then west and south.
  After three days they came upon a grey picket line, passed, and
  entered Vicksburg, where they found Pemberton with something over
  twenty thousand effectives,—the troops that had met defeat at Baker’s
  Creek, with others not engaged,—all under orders from Richmond to hold
  Vicksburg at all hazards.

  On the eighteenth, the Federal forces appeared on the Jackson and
  Grapevine road, east of the town. The two following days were spent by
  the blue in making their lines of circumvallation. The grey and the
  blue lines were about eight hundred yards apart. On the twenty-second,
  the ironclads came up the river from Grand Gulf. When they opened fire
  on the town and its defences, which they did almost immediately, the
  siege of Vicksburg was formally begun.



                              CHAPTER VIII
                              IN VIRGINIA


  Thirty guns of the horse artillery moved into position—not for battle,
  but for a splendid review. Right and left, emerging from the Virginia
  forest and the leafy defiles between the hills, came with
  earth-shaking tread the cavalry, a great force of cavalry, Jeb
  Stuart’s splendid brigades! In the misty, early morning they moved
  into line, having come up from Brandy Station to a plain north of
  Culpeper Court-House. It was the eighth of June, something more than a
  month after Chancellorsville.

  Beckham’s Horse Artillery, that had been John Pelham’s, having got
  into position, proceeded to take interest in the forming cavalry.
  There was so magnificently much of cavalry; it was so rested, so
  recuperated, so victorious, so proud of its past and determined as to
  its future, so easy, so fine, so glorious, so stamped, in short, with
  the stamp of Jeb Stuart, that to watch it was like watching a high and
  gay pageant! The sound of its movement, its jingle and clank, was
  delightful; delightful the brave lilt of voices, the neighing of
  impatient horses, delightful the keen bugles! The mist being yet
  heavy, there was much of mere looming shapes, sounds out of a fogbank.
  The plain was far spread, the review meant to be a noble one. There
  was a sense of distant gaiety as of near. The mist hid panoplied war,
  and far away bugles rang with an elfin triumph.

  A certain company of the horse artillery was beautifully placed on a
  small, clear knoll, above it the fine leaves, the drooping, sweet
  bloom of a solitary locust. The guns were ranged in order, the horses
  in harness, cropping the wet grass where they stood. But it was early
  yet and the battery men had not received the order, _To your pieces!_
  They were clustered in groups, watching the gathering cavalry. Lean
  and easy and powerful, bronzed and young, they cheerfully commented
  upon life in general and the scene below.

  “Jeb isn’t here yet! He bivouacked last night at Beverly Ford.
  Orderly, riding by, heard the banjo.”

  “Is this review his notion or Marse Robert’s?”

  “I reckon I can answer that. I was at headquarters. Jeb came out of
  that lovely little cabin he’s got with a letter in his hand which he
  read to Heros von Borcke—”

  “Yes?”

  “And he said in it that he didn’t believe there ever had been in this
  sinful world a finer cavalry force, and wouldn’t the greatest general
  on earth come over with some of his friends and review the greatest
  body of horse—”

  “Sounds like him.”

  “And he gave the letter to Heros von Borcke, who went off with it. And
  then I was at headquarters again—”

  “You sound like the Old Testament! Well, you were at headquarters
  again—?”

  “And Heros von Borcke brought an order from Marse Robert—Jeb and all
  of us to come over and be reviewed on the plain north of Culpeper.
  Marse Robert said he’d be there with ‘some of his friends’—”

  “Longstreet, I reckon. A.P. Hill’s still at Fredericksburg.”

  “And they say Ewell’s going toward the Valley—”

  To right and left there sprang a rustling. The sun strengthened, the
  mist began to lift, a number of bugles blared together. Into the very
  atmosphere sifted something like golden laughter. A shout arose—_Jeb
  Stuart! Jeb Stuart! Jeb Stuart!_

  Out of the misty forest, borne high, a vivid square in the sea of
  pearl, came a large battle-flag. Crimson and blue and
  thirteen-starred, forth it paced, held high by the mounted standard
  bearer. The horse artillery saluted as it went by, going on to a
  sentinelled strip of greensward where stood three ancient and
  weather-beaten tents. Here it was planted, and here in the June wind
  it streamed outward so that every star might be seen. The mist yet
  held on the farther side of the plain, but all the nearer edge was
  growing light and sunny. The bugles rang. _Jeb Stuart! Jeb Stuart!_
  shouted the plain above Culpeper.

  Stuart, followed by his staff, trotted from the forest. He wore his
  fighting jacket and his hat with the plume, he was magnificently
  mounted, he stroked his wonderful, sunny beard, and he laughed with
  his wonderful, sunny, blue eyes. He had more _verve_ than any leader
  in that army; he was brave as Ney; the army adored him! The victory of
  Chancellorsville was his victory no less than it was that of Stonewall
  Jackson and of Robert Lee. All knew it, and the victory was but five
  short weeks ago. The glory of the great fight hung about him like a
  golden haze, a haze that magnified, and yet that, perhaps, did not
  magnify overmuch, for he was a noble cavalry leader. Suddenly,—

        “_Old Joe Hooker, won’t you come out of the Wilderness?_”

  chanted the hosts about him.

  He lifted his hat. The horse, that had about his arching neck a great
  wreath of syringa and roses, pranced on to the colours and stopped.
  Staff drew up, bugles blew, there came a sound of drum and fife, mist
  began rapidly to lift. “Oh,” breathed Horse Artillery, getting into
  place, “most things have a compensatory side!”

  From the misty middle of the plain came with tramp and jingle another
  mounted party. One rode ahead on a grey horse. Noble of form and noble
  of face, simple and courteous, he came up to the great flag and
  grandeur came with him. _General Lee! General Lee!_ shouted Cavalry,
  shouted Horse Artillery.

  Stuart, who had dismounted, came forward, saluting.

  “Ah, General,” said Lee. “I am going to review you with much pleasure,
  and I have taken you at your word and brought with me some of my
  friends.”

  Stuart beamed upon Longstreet, commander of the First Corps, and upon
  several division generals.

  “Oh, I have brought more than these!” said Lee. “Look how the sun is
  drinking up the mist!”

  As he spoke the sun finished the draught. The rolling plain north of
  Culpeper lay bare. All the dewy, green middle waited for the cavalry
  evolutions, for the march past, but the farther side, up and down and
  over against Jeb Stuart’s flag, was already occupied and not by
  cavalry. Troops and troops and troops, like a grey wall pointed with
  banners!—Horse Artillery, from its place of vantage, stared, then
  softly crowed. “Great day in the morning! Marse Robert has brought the
  whole First Corps!”

  Now here, now there, on the plain, went in brilliant manœuvres the
  cavalry. The horse artillery came into line, manœuvred and thundered
  as brilliantly. The massed infantry cheered, the reviewing general
  stood with a grave light in his eyes. Jeb Stuart shifted his place
  like a sunbeam. Oh, the blowing bugles; oh, the red and blue flag
  outstreaming; oh, the sunlight and the clear martial sounds and the
  high, high hopes on the plain north of Culpeper! June was in the heart
  of most; doubly, doubly was it the Confederacy’s June, this month!
  Great victories in Virginia lay behind it: in the Far South there had
  been disasters, but Vicksburg—Vicksburg was heroically standing the
  siege. And in front lay, perhaps, the crossing of the Potomac and the
  carrying the war into Africa! June, June, June! it sang in the blood
  of the grey. Long and horrible had been the war, and many were the
  lost, and tears had drenched the land, but now it was summer and
  victory would come before the autumn. The North was tired of spilling
  blood and treasure; there sounded a clamour for peace. One or two
  other great victories, and peace would descend and the great
  Confederacy would stand! The march past raised its eyes to the crimson
  banner with the thirteen stars, and June was in every soldier’s heart.

  The march past was a thing to have seen and to remember. By the starry
  banner, by Robert Edward Lee, went the cavalry brigades of his son,
  “Roony” Lee, of his nephew, Fitzhugh Lee, of Beverly Robertson, of
  W.E. Jones, of Wade Hampton. They lifted their sabres, the sun made a
  dazzle of steel. June, June, June! sang the bugles, sang the birds in
  the woods back of the warm-hearted, the admiring infantry. Past went
  the horse artillery, the thirty guns, the proud battery horses, the
  easy and bronzed cannoneers, the grave young officers.... _General
  Lee! General Lee!_ shouted Cavalry, shouted Artillery! The dust rose
  from the plain, all grew a shimmering blur....

  It was over, the great cavalry review. The day descended; the troops
  drew off toward hidden bivouacs. Lee and Longstreet and Stuart rode
  together awhile, under the sunset sky. Staff, behind them, understood
  that great things were being spoken of—marches toward Maryland,
  perhaps, or a watch on Joe Hooker, or the, of late, vastly increased
  efficiency of the enemy’s cavalry. Staff had its own opinion as to
  this. “They always could fight, and now they’ve learned to ride!
  Pity!”

  “I don’t call it a pity. I’d rather meet them equal. Pleasanton’s all
  right.”

  “We’ve had a beautiful review and we’ve also made a lot of noise, to
  say nothing of a dust cloud like the Seven Days come back. Double
  pickets to-night, I should say. We aren’t a million miles from
  Hooker.”

  “That’s true enough.—_Halt!_ General Lee’s going back.”

  Under a great flush of sunset coral and gold above the trees, Lee and
  his cavalry leader parted. The one smiled, the other laughed, they
  touched gauntleted hands, and Lee turned grey Traveller. Longstreet
  joined him and they rode away, staff falling in behind, out of the
  June-time forest, back to the encampment at Culpeper. A moment and
  their figures were drowned in the violet evening. Jeb Stuart, singing,
  plunged with his staff into the woods. His headquarters were at Brandy
  Station.

  The starry night found this village filled with troops. They
  bivouacked, moreover, all about it, on Fleetwood Hill and toward St.
  James Church. There were outposts, too, toward the Rappahannock; a
  considerable troop tethered its horses on the bank above Beverly Ford.
  Others went toward Providence Church and Norman’s Ford, others toward
  Kelly’s. Eight thousand horse bivouacked beneath the stars. Camp-fire
  saw camp-fire, and the rustling night wind and the murmuring streams
  heard other voices than their own, heard voices full of cheer.

  The horse artillery prepared to spend the night in a grassy field
  beside the Beverly Ford road. In front was a piece of thick woods. The
  battery horses, tethered in a long line, began to crop the grass. The
  guns, each known and loved like an old familiar, were parked. The men
  gathered dry wood for their supper fires, fried their bacon, baked
  their corn-meal pones, brewed their “coffee”—chiccory, rye, or sweet
  potato, as the case might be. There was much low laughter and
  crooning, and presently clouds of tobacco smoke. Beautiful
  review—beautiful day—rest to-night—march to-morrow—Jeb lovely as
  ever—going to end this blessed war—pile on the pine knots so we can
  read the letters from home!...

  Toward midnight, on the farther edge of the wood, a post of the horse
  artillery relieved its pickets. The sound of the retiring steps died
  away and the fresh sentinels took cognizance of their positions. The
  positions were some distance apart, between them wood and uneven
  ground and the murmurous night. Each picket was a lonely man, with the
  knowledge only that if he raised his voice to a shout he would be
  heard.

  The moon shone brightly. It silvered the Beverly Ford road and made a
  frosted wall of the forest left and right, and bathed with the mildest
  light the open and undulating country. Somewhere a whip-poor-will was
  calling. _Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will!_

  Beside the road sprang a giant sycamore. From beneath it Philip
  Deaderick, once Richard Cleave, standing picket, watched the night. He
  stood straight and still, powerfully knit, his short rifle in the
  hollow of his arm. He stood grave and quiet, a wronged but not unhappy
  man. The inner life, the only life, had marched on. A gulf had opened
  and certain hopes and happinesses had fallen therein, but his life was
  larger than those hopes and happinesses. The inner man had marched on.
  He had marched even with a quickened step in this last month. “What
  did it matter?” reasoned Cleave. “Those whom I love know, and I am not
  cut off from service, no, nor from growth!” Around, above, below the
  sharpened point of the moment he was aware enough of the larger man.
  The point might ache at times, but he knew also impersonal freedom....
  Things might be righted some day or they might not be righted. He
  could wait. He looked from the shadow of the sycamore out upon the
  lovely, moonlit land. Tragedy, death, and sorrow through all the
  world, interpretations at grips, broken purposes, misunderstandings,
  humanity groping, groping! He ached for it all—for the woman sleepless
  on her pillow, for the prisoner in prison. The spirit widened; he
  stood calm under all, quiet, with suspended judgment. _Whip-poor-will!
  Whip-poor-will!_ He looked up and studied the stars between the silver
  branches of the sycamore, then dropped his gaze and leaned slightly
  forward, for he heard the tread of horses on the road.

  Two horsemen, one in front, the other a little way behind, came
  quietly up the silver streak.

  “Halt!” said Deaderick.

  The two drew rein. “All right!” said the one in advance. “A friend.
  Colonel of Cary’s Legion, with an orderly.”

  “Advance, friend, and give the countersign.”

  “_Ivry._”

  “Correct, _Ivry_. Pass!”

  The officer, with a motion of his hand to the orderly to stay where he
  was, came closer to the picket. “Before I do so,” he said, and his
  tone was a strange one, “tell me your name.”

  “Philip Deaderick.”

  “You are trying to disguise your voice.... _Richard!_”

  “Don’t, Fauquier! I am Philip Deaderick, gunner in ——’s battery, horse
  artillery.”

  “How long?”

  “Since Groveton. Don’t betray me.”

  “Who knows? Does Judith know?”

  “Yes. She and my mother.”

  The other covered his eyes with his hand, then spoke, much moved.
  “Richard, if ever this war gives us time we might reopen matters. We
  surely have influence enough—”

  “I know, Fauquier. But there is no time now to be given nor stress to
  be laid on private matters. Somehow they have sunk away.... Perhaps a
  day will come, and perhaps it will not come.... In the mean time
  dismissal from the army has not worked. I am back in the army.”

  “And are not unhappy? You do not sound unhappy.”

  “No. I am not unhappy. Only now and then.... Be careful, will you? If
  I were known I should be unhappy soon enough!”

  “You may trust me.” He leaned from the saddle and put his hand on the
  other’s shoulder. “Richard, you’re a true man. I’ve always honoured
  you, and I honour you more than ever! Truth will out! You be sure of
  that.”

  “I am at times reasonably sure of it, Fauquier. And if it does not
  appear, I am reasonably sure that I can endure the darkness. I told
  you that I was not unhappy.” He laid an affectionate touch on the
  other’s hand. “I was sorry enough to hear about the arm, Fauquier.”

  “Oh,” said Cary, “I have learned to use the left. I had rather it was
  the arm than the leg, like dear old Ewell!... Richard, meeting you
  like this moves me more than I can well let show. I’ve got so much of
  my mother in me that I’d like to kiss you, my dear—” He bent as he
  spoke and touched with his lips the other’s broad, uplifted brow,
  which done, with a great handclasp they parted. Cary, turning, called
  to the orderly who came up. The two rode on toward Brandy Station, and
  Deaderick resumed his watch.

  Another time passed. The moon rode high, the forest rustled, the road
  lay a silver streak. Deaderick, still and straight beneath the
  sycamore, presently turned his head and regarded the line of woods
  upon his left. He had caught a sound—but it was some distance away. It
  had been faint, but it was like a horse being pushed cautiously
  through undergrowth. Now there was no more of it. He stood listening,
  with narrowed eyes. The bushes a hundred feet away parted and a man
  and horse emerged. They stopped a moment and the man rose in his
  stirrups and looked about him. Then, with a satisfied nod, he settled
  to the saddle again and the two came through the thin growth down to
  the road.

  “Halt!” said Deaderick, cocking his rifle.

  The horseman came on. “Halt! or I fire.”

  The horse was stopped. “Don’t waste your bullets on me!” said the
  rider coolly. “Save them for the Yankees.”

  “Dismount before you advance.”

  “I have the countersign. I am Lieutenant Francis, bearing an enquiry
  from General Lee.”

  “Dismount before you advance.”

  The officer dismounted. He was a tall man, wrapped, though the night
  was warm, in a grey horseman’s cloak. “You are tremendously careful
  to-night! I suppose my horse may follow me? He doesn’t stand well.”

  “Fasten him to the sapling beside you.—Advance and give the
  countersign.”

  The tall man came up, revealing, beneath a grey hat pulled low, a
  tanned countenance with long mustaches. “_Ivry._ I’ll tell General
  Stuart that you are about the most cautious picket he’s got. I
  remember having to convince just such another when I was in Texas in
  ’43—”

  “Did you convince him?”

  “I did. The word is _Ivry_. Allow me to pass.”

  “Be so good first as to open your cloak. It is too warm to wear it
  so.”

  “My man, you are on your way to the guardhouse. Messengers from
  General Lee are not accustomed—_What is that?_”

  “Nothing. I was humming a line of an old carol. Do you remember the
  road to Frederick?”

  Dead silence, then a movement of Marchmont’s hand beneath the cloak.
  Cleave divined, and was upon him. Not so tall, but more powerfully
  built and a master wrestler, the tug of war was a short one. The
  pistol, wrenched from the Englishman’s grasp, fell to the ground and
  was kicked away. The two struggling figures swung round until
  Marchmont was nearer the sycamore, Cleave between him and the horse.
  Another fierce instant and the Englishman was thrown—the picket’s
  rifle covered him.

  “I regret it,” said Cleave, “but it can’t be helped. I wish that some
  other had been sent in your place.” He raised his voice to a shout.
  “Picket two! A prisoner. Send guard!” There came back a faint “All
  right! Hold on!”

  Marchmont sat up and picked the leaves from his clothing. “Well, I
  have thought of you more than once, and wished that we might meet
  again! Not precisely under such auspices as these, but under others. I
  was obliged to you, I remember, that day at Front Royal.”

  “It was a personal matter then, in which I might indulge my own
  inclination. To-night I regret that it is not a personal matter.”

  “Exactly. Well, I bear you no grudge. ‘Fortune of war!’ At Front Royal
  you were a colonel leading a charge—may I ask why I find you playing
  sentry?”

  “That is a long story,” said Cleave. “I am sorry that I should be your
  captor, and it is entirely within your right to deny the request I am
  going to make. I am Philip Deaderick, a private soldier. I ask you to
  forget that I ever had another name.”

  “All right, Philip Deaderick, private soldier!” said Marchmont.
  “Whatever may be your reasons, I won’t blab. I liked you very well on
  the road to Frederick, and very well that day at Front Royal.—To-night
  was just a cursed fanfaronade. Knew you must all be hereabouts.
  Crossed over to see what I could see, got the word and this damned
  cloak and hat from a spy, and ambled at once into the arms of a man
  who could recognize me! Absurd! And here comes the guard.”

  Guard came up. “What is it, Deaderick? Deserter? Spy?”

  “It’s not a deserter,” said Deaderick. “It’s somebody in a blue
  uniform beneath a grey cloak. I don’t think he’s an accredited
  spy—probably just an officer straying around and by chance hearing the
  word and acting on the spur of the moment. You’d better take him to
  the captain back on the road.”

  Another hour passed and he was relieved. Back with the outpost he lay
  down upon the summer earth and tried to sleep. But the two encounters
  of the night had set the past to ringing. He could not still the
  reverberations. Greenwood! Greenwood!—the place and one within it—and
  one within it—and one within it!... And then Marchmont, and the hopes
  and ambitions that once Richard Cleave had known. “A colonel leading a
  charge”—and the highest service in sight—and a man’s knowledge of his
  own ability.... Philip Deaderick turned and lay with his face to the
  earth, his arm across his eyes. He fought it out, the thousandth inner
  battle, then turned again and lay, looking sideways along the misty
  night.

  In the distance a cock crew. The chill air, the unearthly quiet told
  the hour before dawn. The east grew pale, then into it crept faint
  streaks of purple. The birds in the woodland began incessantly to
  _cheep! cheep!_ The mist was very heavy. It hid the road, swathed all
  the horizon. Reveille sounded: the bugler, mounted on a hill behind
  the guns, looked, in the moody light, like some Brocken spectre. Far
  and wide, full at hand, thin and elfin in the distance, rang other
  reveilles. They rang through the streets of Brandy Station and through
  the surrounding forests, fields, and dales, waking Jeb Stuart’s
  thousands from their sleep.

  Horse Artillery stood up, rubbed its eyes, and made a speedy toilet.
  In the shortest possible time the men were cooking breakfast. Cooking
  breakfast being at no time in the Army of Northern Virginia a
  prolonged operation, they were to be found in an equally short space
  of time seated about mess-fires eating it. It was yet dank and chilly
  dawn, the east reddening but not so very red, the mist hanging heavy,
  closing all perspectives. Horse Artillery lifted its tin cup, filled
  with steaming mock-coffee, to its lips—_Crack! crack!_ came the rifle
  shots from the Beverly Ford woods. Horse Artillery set down its cup.
  “What’s that? What are all those pickets firing that way for? Good
  Lord, if there’s going to be a surprise, why couldn’t they wait until
  after breakfast? _Get the horses and limber up!_—All right, Captain—”

  Vedettes, driven in, came galloping up the road. “Blue cavalry! No end
  of blue cavalry! Column crossing, and a whole lot of them up in the
  woods! Nobody could see them, the mist was so heavy! You slow old
  Artillery, you’d better look out!”

  Beckham came up. “Captain Hart, draw a piece by hand down into the
  road! Get hitched up there, double-quick! Into position on the knoll
  yonder!—Oh, here comes support!”

  The Sixth Virginia Cavalry had been on picket; the Seventh Virginia
  Cavalry doing grand guard. Alert and in the saddle, they had seen and
  heard. Now from toward Brandy Station up they raced, like a friendly
  whirlwind, to the point of danger. A cheer from the artillery welcomed
  them, and they shouted in return. Flournoy and the Sixth dashed down
  the Beverly Ford road and deployed in the woods to the right. Marshall
  and the Seventh followed and deployed to the left. Artillery limbered
  up and took to the high ground near St. James Church. Up galloped
  Eleventh and Twelfth Virginia and fell into line behind the guns.

  Jeb Stuart, in the saddle on Fleetwood Hill, his blue eyes upon the
  Beverly Ford situation, found a breathless aide beside him.

  “General! General! They’re crossing below at Kelly’s Ford! Two
  divisions—artillery and infantry behind! They’ve got us front and
  rear!”

  Stuart’s eyes danced. He stroked his beard. “All right! All right!
  I’ll send Robertson and Hampton—Here’s W.F.H. Lee—Cary, too! This is
  going to be the dandiest fight!”

  A brigadier galloped up. “General, shall we detach regiments to guard
  all approaches?”

  “Too many approaches, General! We’ll keep concentrated and deliver the
  blow where the blow is due! Will you listen to that delightful
  fuss?—Dabney, you go tell General Hampton to place a dismounted
  battalion by Carrico Mills.”

  The clang and firing in the Beverly Ford woods grew furious—the Sixth
  and Seventh fighting with the Eighth New York and the Eighth Illinois.
  On pushed the Federal horse, many and bold, Buford’s Regulars,
  trained, efficient. The forward surge, the backward giving, brought
  all upon the edge of the wood. There was charge and countercharge,
  carbine firing, sabring, shouts, scream of horses, shock and fire,
  hand-to-hand fighting. Back and upward roared the surge, up and over
  the hill where were the guns, the guns that were trained, but could
  not be fired, so inextricably was friend intertwined with foe. The
  shouting blue laid hold of the guns; the cannoneers fought
  hand-to-hand, with pistol muzzle and pistol butt, dragging at the
  horses’ reins, striking men from the saddle, covering the guns,
  wrenching off the blue clutch. Then came like a jubilant whirlwind the
  supporting grey, Hampton and Lee.

  “Isn’t it beautiful?” asked Jeb Stuart on Fleetwood Hill. “Oh, ho!
  They’re coming thick from Kelly’s Ford!”

  “General Robertson reports, sir, that there’s artillery and infantry
  on his front. The cavalry, in great strength, is sweeping to the
  right—”

  “Fine! They’re all coming to Fleetwood Hill. Go, tell Major Beckham to
  send any guns that he can spare.”

  Beckham sent two of McGregor’s. Artillery was in straits of its own.
  Charges from the Beverly Ford woods might be repelled, but now arose
  the dust and thunder of the advance from Kelly’s. Impossible to stay
  before St. James Church and become grain between the upper and nether
  millstones! Artillery fell back, first to Pettis’s Hill, then to
  Fleetwood, and fell back with three pieces disabled. Before they could
  get into position, Buford’s regiments charged again. There followed a
  mêlée. The cannoneers, too, must deal with that charge. They had
  pistols which they used, they had sponge staff and odd bits of iron.
  As soon as it was humanly possible, they got a gun into service—then
  two. The shells broke and scattered the shouting blue lines.

  Through Brandy Station charged regiment after regiment,—blue,
  magnificent, shouting,—Gregg and Duffie’s divisions up from Kelly’s
  Ford. A dismounted squadron of Robertson’s broke before them; they
  fell upon a supporting battery and took the guns. On they roared,
  through Brandy Station, out to Fleetwood Hill. Jeb Stuart swung his
  hat. “Now, Cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia! Now, Cavalry of
  the Army of Northern Virginia!”

  There followed a great cavalry fight. Squadron dashed against
  squadron. All was gleaming and dust and shouting, carbine smoke and
  wheeled lightning of sabres. June stood a-tiptoe; the earth seemed to
  rock; a hundred brilliant colours went in sparkles before the eyes,
  the ears rang. There was a mad excitement in which, whether time
  plunged forward like a cataract, or stood still like an arrested
  hearkener to the last trump, none in that abandonment could have told.
  It was a gay fight, shrieking with excitement, the horses mad as the
  riders, the air shaking like castanets. The squadrons crashed
  together, the sabres swung, the pistols cracked! Down went men and
  horses, biting the dust, gaiety going out like a blown candle.
  Without, air and sunshine and wild animal exultation; within, pain,
  smothering, and darkness, darkness.... The guns were taken, the guns
  were retaken; the grey gave back, the blue gave back. The battle lines
  wheeled and charged, wheeled and charged. There was shock and fire and
  a mad mêlée—a staccato fight, with cymbal and quick drum. And ever in
  front tossed the feather of Stuart.

  To and fro, through the hot June weather, the battle swung. Though no
  one could tell the time, time passed. The blue gave back—slowly.
  Slowly the grey pressed them eastward. A train shrieked into Brandy
  Station, and grey infantry came tumbling out. Loud blew Pleasanton’s
  bugles. “Leave the fight a drawn fight, and come away!”

  With deliberation the blue, yet in battle front, moved eastward to the
  fords of the Rappahannock. After them pressed the grey. An aide, dust
  from head to foot, rode neck by neck with Stuart. “General! we are
  being hard put to it on the left—Buford’s Regulars! General Lee has a
  wound. We’ve got a battery, but the ammunition’s out—” The feather of
  Stuart turned again to the Beverly Ford road.

  W.H.F. Lee’s troops, re-forming, charged again, desperately,
  brilliantly. Munford, commanding Fitzhugh Lee’s brigade, had been up
  the river at Wellford’s Ford. Now, bringing with him Breathed’s
  battery, he fell upon the blue flank. Buford gave way; the grey came
  on with a yell. Down through the Beverly woods, past the spot where,
  at dawn, there had been outpost fighting, down to the ford again,
  rolled the blue. The feather of Stuart went by in pursuit.

  Philip Deaderick, resting after a hard fight, leaning against a yet
  smoking gun, watched with his fellows the retreat of the tide that had
  threatened to overwhelm. The tide was finding outlet by all the fords
  of the Rappahannock. It was streaming back from all the region about
  Brandy Station. It went in spirits, retiring, but hardly what one
  might call defeated. It had been, in sooth, all but a drawn battle—a
  brilliant cavalry battle, to be likened, on an enormous scale, to some
  flashing joust of the Middle Ages.

  Deaderick, watching, leaned forward with a sound almost of
  satisfaction. Below him passed two men, riding double, blue gallopers
  toward Beverly Ford. The one behind, without cloak or hat, saw him,
  waved his arm and shouted, “_Au revoir_, Lieutenant McNeil!”



                               CHAPTER IX
                             THE STONEWALL


  Five days before the fight at Brandy Station, Ewell and the Second
  Corps, quitting the encampment near Fredericksburg and marching
  rapidly, had disappeared in the distance toward the Valley. Two days
  after the fight, Hooker, well enough aware by now that grey plans were
  hatching, began the withdrawal of the great army that had rested so
  long on the northern bank of the Rappahannock. A.P. Hill and the Third
  Corps, watching operations from the south bank, waited only for the
  withdrawal from Falmouth of the mass of the enemy. When it was gone,
  Hill and the Third, moving with expedition, joined Lee and Longstreet
  at Culpeper Court-House.

  Stuart and his thousands rested from Brandy Station and observed
  movements. All day the grey infantry moved by, streaming toward the
  Blue Ridge. Cavalry speculated. “Jeb knows, of course, and the
  brigadiers I reckon, and I suppose Company Q knows, but I wish I did!
  Are we going to Ohio, or Maryland, or Pennsylvania, or just back to
  the blessed old Valley? I don’t hold with not telling soldiers things,
  just because they don’t have bars on their collars or stars or sashes!
  We’ve got a _right_ to know—”

  “What’s in those wagons—the long white ones with six horses?”

  “Danged if I know!”

  “Boys, _I_ know! Them’s pontoons!”

  “_Pontoons!_ We’re going to cross the Potomac!”

  On went the infantry, over country roads, through the forest, over
  open fields. There were no fences now in this region, and few, few
  standing crops. All day the infantry streamed by, going toward the
  Blue Ridge. Before sunset blew the trumpets of Stuart. “Boot and
  saddle!” quoth the men. “Now we are going, too!”

  Ewell and the Second Corps, far in advance of the First, the Third and
  the cavalry, pierced the Blue Ridge at Chester Gap. “Old Dick” had
  left a leg at Groveton, but he himself was here, going ahead of his
  troops, a graver man than of old, but irascible yet, quaintly lovable
  yet and well loved. Behind him he heard the tramp of his thousands,
  Jubal Early’s division, Edward Johnson’s division, the division of
  Rodes. They were going back to the Valley, and they were going to take
  Winchester, held by Milroy and eight thousand.

  The Stonewall Brigade, led now by Walker, was numbered in Edward
  Johnson’s division. It marched near the head of the column, and it
  gazed with an experienced eye upon the wall of the Blue Ridge. How
  many times, O Mars, how many times! Up, up the June heights wound the
  column, between leafy towers, by running water, beneath a cloudless
  sky. The Sixty-fifth Virginia, Colonel Erskine, broke into song.

                   “Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
                     An’ never brought to mind ...
                       For auld lang syne, my dear,
                       For auld lang syne—”

  Allan Gold was not marching with the Sixty-fifth. He was half a day
  ahead, scouting. Around stretched the rich woods of the western slope
  of the Blue Ridge, below lay the wooded valley of the Shenandoah. He
  saw the road to Front Royal, and before him the Massanuttens closed
  the view. He had been travelling since sun-up, and now, at noon, he
  was willing enough to camp awhile. He chose the bottom of a
  knife-blade ravine where was a trickle of water beneath laurels in
  bloom. The sun came down between leaves of ash and hickory; the
  topmost branches just stirred, bees buzzed, birds sang far and wide.
  He was quite alone with the earth. First he set his rifle against a
  hickory, and then he gathered a very small heap of twigs and dead
  leaves, and then he set fire to these. From his haversack he took a
  metal plate, one side of a burst canteen. It made a small but splendid
  griddle and he set it on the coals. Then out came a fragment of bacon
  and two pieces of hard-tack. He fried the bacon, then crumbled the
  hard-tack in the gravy and made “coosh.” Then, with slow enjoyment, he
  ate the bacon and the coosh. When the last atom was gone, he lifted
  the griddle, handling it with a thick glove of leaves, plunged it in
  the streamlet, washed it clean, and restored it, sun-dried, to his
  haversack. This done, he took out a small bag of tobacco and his pipe,
  filled the latter, and with his back against the hickory began to
  smoke. He was happy, alone with the earth whom he understood. Long and
  blond and strong, the grey of his clothing weatherbeaten until it was
  like in hue to the russet last year’s leaves on which he lay, he
  looked a man of an old-time tale, Siegfried, perhaps, quiet and happy
  in the deep, deep forest.

  When the pipe was empty, he cleaned it and restored it to his pocket.
  This done, he routed out the side of the haversack devoted to apparel,
  comb, toothbrush, and—when he could get it—soap, together with other
  small articles. He had a little New Testament in which he
  conscientiously read at least once a week. Now he took this up.
  Between its pages lay an unopened letter. He uttered an exclamation.
  It had come to him at Fredericksburg, an hour before marching. He had
  had no time to read it then, and he had put it here. Then had come the
  breaking camp, the going ahead—he could hardly tell whether he had
  forgotten it or had simply taken up the notion that it had been read.
  He laughed. “Well, Aunt Sairy, it never happened before!” He opened it
  now, settled his shoulders squarely against the hickory, and read—


  “DEAR ALLAN:—It’s Tom’s turn to write, but he says I do it because his
  hand’s took to shaking so. The doctor says it’s just eagerness—he
  wants to know all the time and at the right identical minute what’s
  happening. And even the newspapers don’t know that, though Lord knows
  they think they do! But it’s just as bad to be sick with eagerness as
  to be sick with anything else. It’s sickness just the same as if it
  was typhoid or pleurisy. Yes, Allan, I’m anxious enough about
  Tom,—though, of course, I didn’t read that out to him. He’s sitting in
  the sunshine holding the toll-box, and there ain’t anything in it—and
  there never will be until you all stop this fool war. The doctor
  says—Yes, Tom!... Allan, you just straighten this letter out in your
  own head.”


  Oh, it straightened out well enough in Allan’s head! He let the hand
  that held it drop upon the leaves, and he looked up the knife-blade
  ravine to where the green rim of the mountain touched the blue. He saw
  Thunder Run Mountain, and he heard, over the murmur of surrounding
  trees, the voice of Thunder Run. He saw with the inner eye the
  toll-house, the roses and the pansies and the bees. It was not going
  well with the toll-house—he knew that. Tom failing, and no toll taken,
  the county probably paying nothing.... Where was the money with which
  it could pay? Sairy fighting hard—he saw her slight, bent old
  figure—fighting hard now with this end, now with that, to make them
  meet. He knew they would never meet now, not while this war lasted. It
  was one of the bitter byproducts—that never meeting. There was nothing
  to send—he himself had had no pay this long while. Pay, in the
  Southern armies, was a vanishing quantity.

  The wood blurred before Allan’s eyes. He sighed and took up the letter
  again.


  “The school-house is most fallen down. They told me so, and I went up
  the Run one evening and looked at it. It’s so. It looked like a
  yearning ghost. Christianna tried to teach the children awhile this
  spring, but Christianna never was no bookworm. An’ then she had to do
  the spring ploughing, for Mrs. Maydew went down into the Valley to
  nurse the smallpox soldiers. Mrs. Cleave went, too, from Three Oaks. I
  haven’t got much of a garden this year, but the potatoes and
  sparrowgrass look fine. The wrens have built again in the porch.
  They’re company for Tom, now that there’s so little other company.
  He’s named the one Adam and the other Eve—Lord knows they’re wiser
  than some Adams and Eves I know!—Tom’s calling!—

  “It wasn’t anything. He thought it was a wagon coming up the road. If
  this war don’t stop soon, some of us won’t be here to see it stop. And
  now he says if he just had a little something sweet to eat—and there
  ain’t no sugar nor nothing in the house!

  “Lord sake, Allan, I didn’t mean to write like this! I know you’ve got
  your end to bear. Tom isn’t really so sick, and I’m jest as right as
  ever I was! The sun’s shining and the birds are singing, and the
  yellow cat’s stretching himself, and the gourd vine’s got a lot of
  flowers, and I bet you’d like to hear Thunder Run this minute! Steve
  Dagg’s still here and limping—when he thinks anybody’s looking. Rest
  of the time he uses both feet. He’s making up to Christianna Maydew—”


  Allan’s hand closed on the paper. “Steve Dagg making up to Christianna
  Maydew! Why—damn him—” He was not a swearing man, but he swore now,
  rising from the ground to do so. He did not pause to analyze his
  feeling. A cool-blooded, quiet-natured man, he found himself suddenly
  wild with wrath. He with the balance of the Sixty-fifth had fully
  recognized Steve Dagg as the blot on their ’scutcheon—but personally,
  the blot had until now only amused and disgusted him. Quite suddenly
  he found the earth too small for both Allan Gold and Stephen Dagg.

  Standing in the deep and narrow ravine and looking upward he had a
  vision. He saw Thunder Run Mountain, and high on the comb of it, the
  log house of the Maydews. He saw the ragged mountain garden sloping
  down, and the ragged mountain field. All about was a kind of violet
  mist. It parted and he saw Christianna standing in the doorway.

  Allan Gold sat down upon a stone beside the brook. He leaned forward,
  his clasped hands hanging below his knees. The clear, dark water gave
  him back his face and form. He sat so, very still, for some minutes,
  then he drew a long, long breath. “I have been,” he said, “all kinds
  of a fool.”

  Sairy’s letter offered but a few more words. He read them through,
  folded the paper thoughtfully and carefully, and laid it between the
  leaves of the Testament. Then he stood up, carefully extinguished with
  his foot the fire of leaves and twigs, took his rifle, and turned his
  face toward the Shenandoah.

  Thirty-six hours later found him waiting, a little east of Front
  Royal, for the column. It appeared, winding through the woods, Ewell
  riding at the head, with him Jubal Early and J.B. Gordon. Allan stood
  out from the ferny margin of the wood and saluted.

  “Hello!” said Old Dick. “It’s the best scout in the service!”

  Allan gave his information. “General, I’ve been talking to an old
  farmer and his wife, refugeeing from the Millwood section. They
  believed there was a considerable Yankee force at Berryville. So I
  went on for a few miles, and got three small boys and sent them into
  Berryville on a report that there was a circus in town. They got the
  news all right and came back with it. McRennolds is there with
  something like fifteen hundred men and a considerable amount of
  stores.”

  “Is he?” quoth Old Dick. “Then, when we get to Cedarville I’ll send
  somebody to get that honey out of the gum tree! Now you go on, Gold,
  and get some more information.”

  The column marched through Front Royal. All of Front Royal that was
  there came out and wept and laughed and cheered, and dashed out to the
  ranks to shake hands, to clasp, to kiss. “Oh, don’t you remember,
  little more’n a year ago—and all the things that have happened since!
  The North Fork—and the burnt bridge—and Ashby at Buckton ... _Oh,
  Ashby!_ ... and the fight with Kenly—and the big charge—and Stonewall
  Jackson.... ‘_My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the
  horsemen thereof!_’”

  The column crossed the Shenandoah and came to Cedarville, where it
  rested for the night. Here there reported to Ewell Jenkins’s cavalry
  brigade. In the morning Old Dick sent this body of horse, together
  with Rodes’s division, across country to Berryville with instructions
  to capture or disperse McRennolds’s command, and then to press on to
  Martinsburg. Ewell himself, with Early and Edward Johnson’s divisions,
  took the road that led by Middletown and Nineveh to the Valley Pike.

  At Nineveh Allan Gold again appeared. “General, I’ve been almost into
  Winchester. Milroy has breastworks all around, and he’s well off in
  artillery. The hills west and northwest of the town command his
  works.”

  “All right, all right!” said Ewell. “Winchester’s going to see another
  battle.”

  On the morning of the thirteenth the column divided. Edward Johnson,
  with Nounnan’s cavalry force, keeping on upon the Front Royal and
  Winchester road, while Early’s division struck the Valley Pike at
  Newtown.

  The Valley Pike! The Valley soldiers—of whom there were a number in
  this division, though more in Edward Johnson’s—the Valley soldiers had
  last seen the Valley Pike in October—and now it was June. They had
  seen it in a glory of crimson and gold, and a violet haze of Indian
  summer, and then they had left it, Stonewall Jackson riding ahead ...
  and then had come Fredericksburg ... and then had come the Wilderness.

  “Howdy, Valley Pike!” said the soldiers. “It’s been long that we’ve
  been away! Did you miss us, old girl? We’ve missed you. A lot of us
  didn’t come back, but here’s some of us!”

  Through the hot afternoon Jubal Early and his troops moved down the
  pike toward Winchester. Near Bartonsville, in position upon a low
  hill, they found the First Maryland Infantry and the Baltimore
  Artillery.

  Colonel Herbert of the First reported. “They’ve got a force, sir, at
  Kernstown, and a battery on Pritchard’s Hill. We’ve been skirmishing
  off and on all day.”

  “All right!” swore Old Jube. “I’ll send the Louisiana Brigade and
  dislodge that battery.”

  Hays and the Louisianians went, crossing the meadow and skirting the
  ridge, marching where had marched the Army of the Valley on the old
  field of Kernstown. The blue battery removed from Pritchard’s Hill;
  they took that eminence without difficulty. Hays sent back tidings of
  Federal infantry massing to the left. Early ordered Gordon forward.
  That dashing officer and brave and handsome man swung by with his
  brigade. Joining Hays, the two, Georgia and Louisiana, drove the blue
  detachment over field and ridge and Abraham’s Creek to Bowers’s Hill.
  This, infantry and artillery, the blue seized and held through the
  night. The brigades of Hoke and Smith arrived, but it was twilight and
  a drenching summer rain. The grey bivouacked on the field of
  Kernstown.

  Dawn came up, hot and still, and with it Old Dick to confer with Old
  Jube. Council over, Gordon was moved forward, the Maryland troops with
  him, and left to skirmish with, amuse, and distract the enemy. Hays
  and Hoke and Smith with some artillery plunged into the woods. “Flank
  movement!” said the men. “It’s fun to flank and it’s hell to be
  flanked. That’s the road to Romney over there.”

  They came to the lower slopes of Little North Mountain, to the
  Pughtown road. On high ground to the south was a ruined orchard and a
  ruined house called Folk’s Old House; while on high ground to the
  north lay a ruined cornfield, part of Mrs. Brieley’s land. Both points
  overlooked the fortifications. Old Jube divided Jones’s Artillery.
  Twelve pieces were posted in the ruined orchard, eight in the ruined
  cornfield. The Fifty-seventh North Carolina kept guard in the
  direction of the Pughtown road, and Hoke and Smith were drawn up in
  the rear of Hays. It was late in the day; intensely hot, and the men
  suffering greatly from thirst. The twenty pieces opened on the blue
  earthworks crowning the hills in front. Harry Hays and the
  Louisianians moved forward, climbing the hill, through felled
  brushwood, to the assault. They took the height and six guns upon it.
  It overlooked and commanded the main works of the blue, and the grey
  brought up and trained the guns. But the hot night fell, and the
  soldiers lay on their arms till daybreak. When the dawn came, pink
  over the distant Blue Ridge, it was found that the Federals had
  evacuated all fortifications on this side of Winchester. Before the
  earth was well lit, scouts brought news that they were in retreat upon
  the Martinsburg Pike.

  While on the thirteenth, Early advanced upon Winchester by the Valley
  Pike, Edward Johnson’s division, Nounnan’s cavalry going ahead, kept
  to the Front Royal and Winchester road. Two miles from the town they
  made a line of battle and began to skirmish. There was a blue battery
  upon the Millwood road, and to meet it Carpenter’s guns were brought
  up. A dozen blue pieces upon this side of Winchester opened fire and
  for hours there went on a slow cannonade. On the morning of the
  fourteenth the division moved forward, the Stonewall leading, and
  renewed the skirmishing. In the afternoon they heard the roar of
  Early’s guns.

  The Fifth Virginia was thrown forward, across the Millwood road to the
  low hills fronting the town. The blue held in some strength the
  scrubby crest of this ridge. The Fifth had sharp skirmishing. Behind
  it came two companies of the Sixty-fifth, turned a little to the left,
  and began sharpshooting from a screen of pine and oak.

  “Sergeant Maydew,” said a captain, “take six men and go occupy that
  scrub-oak clump down there. Watch that ravine and pick them off if
  they come up it.”

  Billy Maydew and the six fairly filled the tuft of bushes halfway down
  the hill. “Jest as snug as a bug in a rug!”

  “They’ll get it hot if they come up that gully! It’s a beautiful—what
  did Steve use to call it?—‘avalanche’!”

  “I kind of miss Steve. He had his uses. He’d keep up even a yaller
  dog’s self-esteem. Even a turkey-buzzard could say, ‘I am better than
  thou.’ Every time I got down in the mouth and began to think of my
  sins I just looked at Steve and felt all right.”

  “Reckon the army’ll ever get him again? Reckon his sore foot’ll ever
  get well?”

  “He’d better not come back to the Sixty-fifth,” said Sergeant Billy
  Maydew. He spoke with slow emphasis. “The day Steve Dagg comes back to
  the Sixty-fifth Billy Maydew air goin’ to be marched to the guardhouse
  for killing a polecat.”

  The six smiled, smiled with grimness. “Ef you do it, Sergeant, reckon
  the Sixty-fifth, from the colonel down, ’ll appear for you and swear
  you did a public service!”

  Dave Maydew moved his head aside, then softly raised his rifle. The
  others did likewise. There was a pause so utter that they heard each
  other’s breathing and the dry _Zrrrr!_ of a distant grasshopper.

  Dave lowered the rifle. “I see now! ’T wa’n’t nothing but a squirrel.”

  “Reckon ’t won’t do to shoot him? Squirrel stew—”

  “Don’t you dar!” said Billy. “There air to be no firing out of this
  oak clump ex-cept upon the enemy.”

  The skirmish line of the Fifth swept past them, driving the blue. The
  fighting was now nearer town; they knew by the slight change in sound
  that there were houses and stone walls. The afternoon wore on,—hot,
  hot in the clump of bushes! Litter bearers came by, carrying a wounded
  officer. “Colonel of the Fifth—Colonel Williams. They came against our
  right! They’ve got ten of our men. But then didn’t we drive them!”

  Litter and bearers and escort went on. “Ain’t anybody, less’n it’s a
  crittur with fur, comin’ up that ravine!”

  “An old mooley cow might come up.”

  “Where’d she come from? They’re all slaughtered and eaten. Nothing’s
  left of anything.”

  “That’s right! Egypt and the locusts—”

  “Lieutenant Coffin’s signalling to rejoin. Reckon Sixty-fifth’s going
  on, too!”

  _Forward! March!_

  Just before night the general commanding sent an order to Edward
  Johnson. “Move with three brigades by right flank to the Martinsburg
  Turnpike at a point above Winchester. If enemy evacuates, intercept
  his retreat. If he does not, attack him in his fortifications from
  that direction.” Johnson started at once with Steuart’s and Nicholls’s
  brigades, and Dement’s, Raines’s, and Carpenter’s batteries, Snowden
  Andrews commanding. Their way lay across country on a dark night, by
  the Jordan Springs road. The objective was Stephenson’s, several miles
  above Winchester, where a railroad cut hidden by heavy woods almost
  touched the Martinsburg Pike. Off marched Steuart and Nicholls and the
  artillery. The Stonewall Brigade, nearest to the enemy, was ordered to
  advance skirmishers to conceal the movement, and then to follow to
  Stephenson’s. There was some delay in the receipt of the order. The
  Stonewall advanced its skirmishers, ascertained on this side the
  position of the enemy, but did not till midnight take the road by
  which the two brigades had gone.

  It was a pitch black night after a hot and harassing day. The “foot
  cavalry” marched as Stonewall Jackson had taught it to march, but all
  country and all roads were now difficult, scarred, trenched, broken,
  and torn by war. This was like a dream road, barred, every rood, by
  dream obstacles. The Sixty-fifth sighed. It was too tired to make any
  other demonstration. In the hot, close night it was damp with
  perspiration. The road was deeply rutted and the drying mud had a
  knife-like edge. The shoes of the Sixty-fifth were so full of holes!
  The bruise from the chance stone, the cut of the dried mud helped at
  least in keeping the regiment awake. The Sixty-fifth’s eyes were full
  of sleep: it would have loved—it would have loved to drop down in the
  darkness and float away—float away to Botetourt and Rockbridge and
  Bedford ... float away—float away, just into nothingness!

  Behind the Stonewall the sky began, very faintly, to pale. The native
  of the country who was guiding spoke briefly. “We’re near the pike.
  Stephenson’s not far on the other side.” Down the dark line, shadows
  in the half light, rang an order like a ghostly echo. “Press forward,
  men! Press forward!” The “foot cavalry” made a sound in its throat,
  then did its best.

  The east grew primrose, the rolling country took form. It was now a
  haggard country, seamed, burned over, and ruined, differing enough
  from what it once had been. There came a gleam of the Valley Pike,
  then with suddenness a heavy sound of firing. “They’re attacking!
  They’re attacking!” said the Stonewall. “Hurry up there!—hurry
  up—_Double-quick_!”

  So thick was the fog that it was difficult to distinguish at any
  distance shape or feature. A mounted man appeared before the head of
  the column, all grey in grey mist. “It’s Captain Douglas, General,
  from General Johnson! The enemy’s evacuating Winchester. We’re holding
  the railroad cut over there, but they’re in strength and threaten to
  flank us! Ammunition’s almost out. Please come on as fast as you can!”

  The Stonewall felt the Valley Pike beneath its feet. Through the fog,
  a little to the west of the road, they saw a body of troops moving
  rapidly. In the enveloping mist the colour could not be told. “Grey,
  aren’t they?—Can you see the flag—?” “No, but I think they’re
  ours—Steuart or Nicholls ...” “They’re not Steuart and they are not
  Nicholls,” said Thunder Run. “They’re blue.”

  “It’s the Yankee flanking body! ... _Fire!_”

  The dew-drenched hills and misty woods echoed the volley. It was
  answered by the blue, but somewhat scatteringly. The blue were in
  retreat, evacuating Winchester, moving toward the Potomac. They were
  willing to attack the grey regiments known to be holding the railroad
  cut, but a counter-attack upon their own rear and flank had not
  entered into their calculations. In the fog and in the smoke it could
  not be told whether it was one grey brigade or two or four. Soldiers,
  grey or blue, might be stanch enough, but in this, as in all wars, the
  cry, “We’re flanked!” stirred up panic. The constitutionally timid, in
  either uniform, were always expecting to be flanked. They often cried
  wolf where there was no wolf. This morning certain of the blue cried
  it lustily. And here, indeed, was the wolf, grey, gaunt, and yelling!
  The blue, bent on flanking the two brigades and the artillery in and
  around the railroad cut, found themselves, in turn, flanked by the
  Stonewall Brigade. They were between Scylla and Charybdis, and they
  broke. There was a wood. They streamed toward it, and the Stonewall
  came, yelling, on their tracks. At the same moment at the railroad
  cut, Nicholls’s Louisiana regiments, Dement’s and Raines’s and
  Carpenter’s guns, came into touch with and routed the blue cavalry and
  infantry moving to the left. The cavalry—most of it—escaped, Milroy on
  a white horse with them. The infantry were taken prisoner. From the
  centre, where it, too, was victor, rose the jubilant yell of Steuart’s
  brigade.

  The Stonewall reached the rim of the wood. It was filled with purple,
  early light and with the forms of hurrying men. The charging line
  raised its muskets; the Stonewall’s finger was on the trigger. Down an
  aisle of trees showed a white square, raised and shaken to and fro.
  Out of the violet light came a voice. “Don’t fire! We surrender!”

  Steuart and Nicholls and the Stonewall and the artillery took, above
  Winchester, twenty-three hundred prisoners with arms and equipments,
  one hundred and seventy-five horses, and eleven stands of colours.
  Back in Winchester and the surrounding fortifications there fell into
  Early’s hands another thousand men in blue, other horses, twenty-five
  pieces of artillery, ammunition, and three hundred loaded wagons and
  stores. The remainder of Milroy’s command, evacuating the town early
  in the night, had passed the danger-point on the Martinsburg Pike in
  safety. Now it was hurrying toward the Potomac, after it Jenkins’s
  cavalry.

  “Dear Dick Ewell” with his crutches, Jubal Early with his
  eccentricity, his profanity, his rough tongue, his large ability, and
  heroic devotion to the cause he served, behind them Hays and Gordon
  and Hoke and Smith, and all the exultant grey officers, and all the
  exultant grey men passed in the strengthening sunlight through happy
  Winchester. It was a scarred Winchester, a Winchester worn of raiment
  and thin of cheek, a Winchester that had wept of nights and in the
  daytime had watched, watched! _Sister Anne, Sister Anne, what do you
  see?_ This June morning Winchester was happy beyond words.

  Out on the Martinsburg Pike, Ewell and Early met Edward Johnson and
  his brigadiers. “Rodes is at Martinsburg. His courier got to us across
  country. He’s taken the stores at Berryville and now at
  Martinsburg,—five pieces of artillery, two hundred prisoners, six
  thousand bushels of grain. The enemy’s making for the river, Jenkins
  behind them. They’ll cross at Williamsport. I’ve sent an order to
  General Rodes to press on to the Potomac. We’ll rest the men for two
  hours and then we’ll follow.”

  The next day, the fifteenth of June, Rodes crossed to Williamsport in
  Maryland, Jenkins going forward to Chambersburg. Jubal Early with his
  division took the Shepherdstown road, threatening, from that vicinity,
  Harper’s Ferry. Edward Johnson and his division crossed at
  Shepherdstown and encamped near the field of Sharpsburg.

  On the fifteenth, Longstreet and the First Corps left Culpeper, and
  marched along the eastern base of the Blue Ridge toward Ashby’s Gap.
  At the same time A. P. Hill and the Third Corps took the road for the
  Valley already traversed by Ewell and the Second. Stuart and the
  cavalry moved to cover Longstreet’s front. Fighting Joe Hooker had
  left the Rappahannock, but he yet hovered in Virginia, on the south
  side of the Potomac.

  June seventeenth, June nineteenth, June twenty-first saw the second
  tilt of this month between Pleasanton and Stuart, the running cavalry
  fight through the Loudoun Valley, between the spurs of the Bull Run
  Mountains, by Middleburg and the little town of Aldie. The tournament
  was a brilliant one, with charge and counter-charge, ambuscade,
  surprise, wheelings here and wheelings there, pourings from dark
  mountain passes, thundering dashes through villages quivering with
  excitement, fighting from the saddle, fighting dismounted, incursions
  of blue infantry and artillery, hairbreadth escapes, clank and din and
  roll of drum, dust cloud and smoke cloud, mad passage of
  red-nostrilled, riderless horses, appeal of trumpet, rally and charge.
  It was a three-days’ fight to stir for many a year to come the blood
  of listening youth, but it was not a fortunate fight—not for the grey
  South! The honours of the joust itself were evenly enough divided.
  Stuart lost five hundred men, Pleasanton eight hundred. But before the
  trumpets rang _Halt!_ the blue horsemen pushed the grey horsemen
  across the Loudoun Valley from Bull Run Mountains to Blue Ridge. In
  itself the position was well enough. Stuart, jocund as a summer
  morning, extricated with skill brigade after brigade, plunged with
  them into the dark passes, and, the fight drawn, presently marched on
  to the Potomac. But Pleasanton’s patrols, winding upward, came out
  upon the crest of Blue Ridge. Here they reined in their horses and
  gazed, open-mouthed. Far below, travelling westward, travelling
  northward were troops on the roads of the great Valley—troops and
  troops and troops; infantry, artillery, cavalry, wagon trains and
  wagon trains. The vedettes stared. “The Confederacy’s moving north!
  The Confederacy’s moving north!” They turned their horses and went at
  speed back to Pleasanton. Pleasanton sent at speed to Fighting Joe
  Hooker. Hooker at once pushed north to the Potomac, which he crossed,
  on the twenty-fifth, at Edwards’s Ferry.



                               CHAPTER X
                              THE BULLETIN


  Miss Lucy opened the paper with trembling fingers. “‘A great cavalry
  fight at Brandy Station! General Lee’s telegram. Killed and wounded.’”
  Her three nieces came close to her. “It’s not a long bulletin....
  Thank God, there’s no Cary!”

  She brushed her hand across her eyes, and read on. “We have few
  particulars as yet. The fighting was severe and lasted all day. The
  loss on both sides is heavy. Our loss in officers was, as usual, very
  considerable. Among those killed we have heard the names of Colonel
  Hampton, brother of General Wade Hampton. Colonel John S. Green, of
  Rappahannock County, and Colonel Williams, of the Eighteenth North
  Carolina. The latter was married only one week ago. General W.H.F.
  Lee, son of General Lee, was shot through the thigh. Colonel Butler,
  of South Carolina, is reported to have lost a leg. From the meagre
  accounts we already have we are led to conclude that the fight of
  Tuesday was one of the heaviest cavalry battles that has occurred
  during the war, and perhaps the severest ever fought in this country.”

  Molly drew a long breath. “Let’s turn the sheet, Aunt Lucy, and look
  for Vicksburg.”

  “A moment!” said Judith. “I saw the word ‘artillery.’ What does it say
  about the horse artillery?”

  “Just that it made a brilliant fight. A few casualties—there are the
  names.”

  Judith bent over and read. “You always want to know about the horse
  artillery,” said Molly. “I want to know about everybody, too, but
  until you’ve heard about the artillery your eyes are wide and startled
  as a fawn’s. Is there somebody whom _you_ like—”

  “Don’t, Molly!” spoke Miss Lucy. “Don’t we all want to know about
  every arm? God knows, it isn’t just our kith and kin for whom we
  ache!”

  “Of course not!” said Molly. “I just wanted to know—”

  Judith looked up, steady-eyed again. “So did I, Molly! I just wanted
  to know. The paper says it was a brilliant fight, and everybody did
  well—those who’ve ridden on, and those who are lying on the leaves in
  the woods. And it gives the names of those who are lying there, and we
  don’t know them—only that they are names of our brothers. Vicksburg,
  read about Vicksburg, Aunt Lucy!”

  Miss Lucy read. “We have received the Jackson _Mississippian_ as late
  as the twenty-seventh, since when there has been no reliable
  information from the besieged city. We have, however, from prisoners,
  Northern papers as late as June the first. We quote from them.

  “‘_Washington, June first. Midnight. Up to one o’clock to-night no
  additional intelligence had been received from General Grant’s army
  later than the previous dispatches of the twenty-eighth, when it was
  stated that Grant’s forces were progressing as favourably as could be
  expected, and Grant had no fears of the result._’”

  “Well, I hope that he may yet acquire them,” said Unity.

  “‘_Chicago, June first. A special dispatch to the Times dated,
  “Headquarters in the Field. Near Vicksburg. May twenty-third,” says,
  “But little has been effected during the last thirty-six hours. Over a
  hundred pieces of field artillery and several siege guns rained shot
  and shell on the rebels’ works yesterday. The mortar fleet took
  position behind De Soto Point and bombarded the city during the entire
  day._’”

  “Oh,” cried Molly. “Oh!”

  “‘_On the right General Sherman has pushed Steele’s division squarely
  to the foot of the parapets. Our men lay in a ditch and on the slope
  of a parapet, inside one of the principal forts, unable to take it by
  storm, but determined not to retire. The Federal and Rebel soldiers
  are not twenty-five feet apart, but both are powerless to inflict much
  harm. Each watches the other and dozens of muskets are fired as soon
  as a soldier exposes himself above the works on either side—_’”

  “Oh, I hope that Edward thinks of Désirée and all of us!”

  “If there’s need to expose himself he will do it—and Désirée and none
  of us would say, ‘Think of us!’—Go on, Aunt Lucy.”

  “‘_Nearly the same condition of things exists in McPherson’s front,
  and his sharpshooters prevent the working of the enemy’s pieces in one
  or two forts. A charge was made yesterday (Friday) morning on one of
  them by Stephenson’s brigade, but was repulsed. Two companies of one
  brigade got inside, but most of them were captured. The forts are all
  filled with infantry. Our artillery has dismounted a few guns and
  damaged the works in some places, but they are still strong—_’”

  “O may they stay so!”

  “‘_General Joe Johnston is reported to be near the Big Black River in
  our rear, with reinforcements for the besieged army. General Grant can
  detail men enough for the operations here to keep Johnston in
  check._’”

  “Oh, always their many, many troops!”

  “‘_General McClernand was hard pressed on the left yesterday, and sent
  for reinforcements. General Quinby’s division went to his assistance
  at four o’clock. The contest continued until one of our flags was
  planted at the foot of the earthworks on the outside of a rebel fort,
  and kept there for several hours, but the fort was not taken._’”

  “Thank God!”

  “‘_McClernand’s loss yesterday is estimated at one thousand killed and
  wounded. The fighting grows more desperate each day. The transports
  are now bringing supplies to within three miles of our right._’”

  The group on the Greenwood porch kept silence, then “What from
  Tennessee?”

  “‘_A cavalry fight at Franklin. Infantry not engaged. A general battle
  is, however, considered imminent._’”

  Molly put her head down in Judith’s lap and began to cry. “Oh, I want
  to see father! Oh, I want to see father! Oh, I miss him so!”

  Unity knit very fast. Miss Lucy sat, the paper fallen beside her, her
  fine, dark eyes on the distant mountains. She saw the old, peaceful,
  early-century years again, and her brothers and herself, children
  again, playing in the garden at Fontenoy, playing in the garden here
  at Greenwood, going into town in the great old coach, watching Mr.
  Jefferson pass and Mr. Madison. She saw her brilliant girlhood set
  still in so shining, so peaceful a world!... The old White and her
  ball-gowns, and the roses and serenading.... The leisurely progresses,
  too, from great house to great house, and all in a golden, tranquil
  world. She saw her beautiful father and mother and a certain lover
  whom she had had, and her brothers wonderful and gallant. And now the
  first three were dead, and long dead, and Warwick was with Lee at
  Culpeper, and Fauquier, yesterday in “the severest cavalry battle yet
  fought on this continent,” and Warwick’s son, Edward, fighting in a
  city besieged! Everywhere kinsmen and friends, fighting! And the gaunt
  and ruined country, the burning houses and the turned-out fields, the
  growing hunger, want no longer skulking, but walking all the
  highroads, care and wounds and sickness, a chill at all hearts and a
  lessening of the sunlight! “I have lived out of a gold world into an
  iron one,” thought Miss Lucy.

  The old Greenwood carriage came round to the door. Judith kissed Molly
  and rose, Unity with her. It was their day at the hospital. Isham took
  them into town, Isham thin and sorrowful, driving the old farm-horses,
  muttering and mumbling of old times and new. The day was hard at the
  hospital, though not so hard as there had been days. Soldiers from the
  Wilderness still choked the rooms, and there was sickness, sickness,
  sickness!—and so little with which to cope with sickness. But it was
  not so crowded as it had been, nor so desperate. Many had died, and
  many had grown well enough to go away, and many were convalescent.
  There were only fifty or so very bad. The two young women, straight
  and steady, bright and tender, came into a long ward like twin shafts
  of sunlight.

  The ward wanted all the news about Brandy Station it could get, and
  all the news about Port Hudson and Vicksburg. Cavalry in the ward got
  into an argument with Artillery, and Infantry had to call the nurses
  to smooth things down. A man whose arm had been torn from the socket
  fell to crying softly because there was a piece of shell, he said,
  between the fingers and he could not get it out.

  “‘Nerve ends?’—Yes, Doctor, maybe so.... Then, don’t you reckon the
  nerve ends in my arm out there in the Wilderness are feeling for my
  shoulder? Oh, I feel them feeling for it!”

  Down the line was a jolly fellow and he sang very loudly—

                    “Yankee Doodle had a mind
                      To whip the Southern traitors,
                    Because they didn’t choose to live
                      On codfish and potatoes!
                    Yankee Doodle, doodle-doo,
                      Yankee Doodle dandy—”

  Some of the soldiers from the Wilderness, falling wounded in the brush
  which was set on fire, had been badly burned before their comrades
  could draw them forth. One of these now, lying wrapped like a mummy in
  oil-soaked cotton, was begging pitifully for morphia—and there was no
  morphia to give.

           “I come from old Manassas with a pocket full of fun;
           I killed forty Yankees with a single-barrelled gun—”

  Forenoon, afternoon passed. The nurses dressed and bandaged wounds,
  bathed and lifted, gave the scanty dole of medicines, brought and held
  the bowls of broth, aired the wards, straightened the beds, told the
  news, filled the pipes, read and wrote the home letters, took from
  dying lips the home messages, closed the eyes of the dead, composed
  the limbs, saw the body carried out to where the pine coffin waited,
  turned back with cheer to the ward, dealt the cards for the
  convalescent, picked up the fallen checker-piece, laughed at all
  jokes, helped sick and weary Life over many a hard place in the road,
  saved it many a jolt.

  At six o’clock, the two from Greenwood left the hospital. Outside they
  saw, on the other side of the street, a small crowd gathering about a
  bulletin board. They went across as folk always went across when there
  was seen to be a bulletin. The crowd was largely composed of country
  people, old men, women, and boys. It parted before the ladies from
  Greenwood and the two came close to the board. A boy, standing on a
  great stone beneath, alternately mastered, somewhat slowly, the
  writing, then, facing around, delivered it in a high young voice to
  the crowd.

  A farmer, bent and old, touched Judith’s sleeve. “Miss Judith Cary,
  you read it to us. I could do it spryer than Tom there, but my eyes
  are mighty bad.”

  “I don’t mind,” said Tom. “They’ve got so many words that weren’t in
  the reading-books! You do it, Miss Judith.”

  Judith stepped upon the stone. The board held an account of the battle
  of Brandy Station, later and fuller than that in the morning paper.
  She read first—it was always read first—the names of the killed and
  wounded. It appeared that this crowd had in them only a general
  interest. There were murmurs respectful and pitying, but no sudden
  sharp cry from a woman, no groan from a man.

  “Further particulars of the fight,” read Judith. “The enemy attacked
  at daybreak. They had with them artillery with which they proceeded
  furiously to shell General Stuart’s headquarters. The cavalry fighting
  was desperate and the loss on both sides heavy. We had only cavalry
  and the artillery in action, the enemy having retreated before our
  infantry arrived. The fight lasted all day and was conducted with
  extreme gallantry. Many individual acts of heroism occurred both among
  officers and men. The horse artillery gathered fresh laurels. The
  spirit of Pelham stays with it. A gunner named Deaderick—

  ”—A gunner named Deaderick, a strongly built man, held at bay a dozen
  of the enemy who would have laid hands upon his gun which had been
  dismounted by a shell striking the wheel. Almost singly he kept the
  rush back until his comrades could replace the gun, train, and serve
  it, when the attack was completely repulsed and the gun saved—”

  Judith finished reading. The crowd thanked her. She stepped from the
  great stone and passed with Unity to where the carriage waited. Isham
  touched the old farm-horses; they passed out of the town into the June
  country bathed in sunset light.

  For a while there was silence, then, “Judith,” said Unity, “I am a
  talkative wretch, I know, but I can be silent as the grave when I want
  to be! Where is Richard? Is he in the horse artillery?”

  “Yes.”

  “I have never seen you when I did not think you beautiful. But back
  there, standing on that stone, of a sudden you were most beautiful. It
  was like a star blazing out, a star with a voice, and something
  splendid in that, too. Judith, is he that gunner you were reading
  about?”

  “Yes—oh, yes!”

  “Well, you don’t often cry,” said Unity, crying herself. “Cry it out,
  my dear, cry it out. We have such splendid things nowadays to cry
  for!”

  Judith dried her tears. “No, I don’t often cry.... Let it rest, Unity,
  between us, silent, silent—”

  That night, at Greenwood, she opened wide the windows of her room,
  till the moonlight flooded all the floor. She sat in the window seat,
  in the heart of the silver radiance, her hands clasped upon her knees,
  her head thrown back against the wood. Before her lay the silver
  hills; up to her came the breath of the garden lilies. She sat with
  wide, unseeing eyes; the mind exercising its own vision. It gazed upon
  the bivouac of the horse artillery; it saw the two days ago battle;
  and it saw to-morrow’s march. It saw the moving guns, and heard the
  rumbling of them; saw the column of horse and heard the tread, marched
  side by side with that gunner of the horse artillery. Mists arose and
  blurred. There was a transition. Judith’s mind left the South. It
  travelled under Northern skies; it sought out and entered Northern
  prisons. It saw Maury Stafford; saw him walking, walking, a stockaded
  yard, or standing, standing, before a barred window, looking out,
  looking up to the stars that shone over Virginia.... The prisons, the
  prisons, North and South, the prisons! Judith fell to shuddering. “O
  God—O God! Even our enemy—show him mercy!”

  Off in the distance a whip-poor-will was calling. The sound was
  ineffably mournful; the whole night saddened and saddened. The odour
  of the lilies laid waxen fingers upon the heart. The high, bare sky
  was worse than a vault hung with clouds. The light wind came like the
  sigh of an overladen heart. Judith moved, sank forward on the window
  seat, and wept.



                               CHAPTER XI
                                PRISON X


  The stockade enclosed a half-acre of bare earth, trodden hard. The
  prison was a huge old brick building with a few narrow, grated
  windows. It had been built to store the inanimate, and now it was
  crowded with the animate. The inanimate made few demands save those of
  space and security. The animate might demand, but they did not
  receive. They had space—after all, each prisoner could move a very
  little way without jostling another prisoner—and they were kept
  securely. The gratings were thick, the guards were many, the stockade
  was high, and there was a Dead Line. As for other requests, for light
  and air and an approach to sanitation, for a little privacy, for less
  musty food and more of it, for better water, for utensils and
  bedding—the inanimate had made no such requests, and the animate
  requested in vain. What had been good enough for good Northern
  manufactured goods was good enough for Southern rebels. Everybody knew
  that Northern prisoners were starving, dying in Southern prisons.
  “‘Exchange, then!’ Well, I kind of wish myself that we’d exchange.”

  There were three floors in the prison, and a number of partitions had
  been driven across the large, echoing shell. Officers’ quarters were
  the first floor, and officers’ quarters were rudely divided into a
  hot, dark, evil-smelling central hall, and a number of hot, narrow,
  close, and poorly-lighted rooms in which to sleep and wake. Hall and
  rooms were hot because it was warm summer-time, and they were so
  crowded, and there was admitted so little air. In the winter-time they
  were cold, cold! The prisoners who had been here longest had tried
  both elements; in the winter-time they pined for summer and in the
  summer-time they longed for winter. This building was but one of
  several warehouses converted into places of storage for the animate.
  There were, in all, in this place, twelve hundred Confederate officers
  and six thousand Confederate privates.

  Twilight was the worst time. Earlier there was all the sunshine that
  could enter the small windows, and once a day there was exercise in
  the small sunbaked yard. As soon as it was totally dark a few smoky
  lamps were lighted and for an hour there was “recreation” in the
  various central halls. But twilight—twilight was bad! It was the
  hopeless hour, the hour of home visions, the hour of longing, the hour
  of nostalgia. It was the hour when men could and did weep in shadowy
  places. The star that twinkled through the window mocked, and the
  breeze from the south mocked. The bats that wheeled above the prison
  yard were Despondency’s imps. Melancholy had free entrance; she could
  and did pass the sentries. Hope deferred was always there. At twilight
  all hearts sickened.

  With the smoky lamps came, on the part of most,—not of all, but of
  most,—a deliberate taking-up again of life, even of prison life.
  Heroism reëntered the weary prison. Courage and cheerfulness took the
  stage, the first a grim and steadfast warrior, the last falsetto
  enough at times, and then again suddenly, divinely genuine. At times
  there were brisk gaiety, unfeigned laughter, a quite rollicking
  joviality. Twilight was over—twilight was over for this time!

  Supper was over, too,—soon over! A small cake of meal, more or less
  musty, a bit of “salt horse,”—the meal was not prolonged. It was
  brought into the hall in a great kettle and sundry pans. The prisoners
  had each a tin plate, with an ancient knife and fork. There was no
  table; they sat on benches or old boxes, or tailor fashion on the
  floor. They had a way of pleasing their fancies with elaborate
  menus—like the Barmecide in the “Arabian Nights.” Only the menus
  never, never materialized! To-night, in a mess of thirty, a colonel of
  A.P. Hill’s, captured at Fredericksburg, laid out the table. “Mountain
  mutton, gentlemen, raised in Hampshire! Delicately broiled, served
  with watercress. No man must take less than two helpings! Brook trout,
  likewise, speckled beauties, taken this afternoon! There was a pool
  and a waterfall and some birch trees, and I went in swimming. Light
  rolls, gentlemen, and wheat muffins, and, I _think_, waffles! Coffee,
  gentlemen,—don’t cheer!—Mocha, with sugar. The urn full and plenty
  more in the kitchen. Something green, gentlemen,—lettuce, I think,
  with cucumber and onion sliced thin and a little oil and
  vinegar.—Don’t cheer! This mess has all the early vegetables and all
  the garden fruit it needs, and is _not_ scorbutic!—Gentlemen, a
  dessert will follow—a little trifling jelly or cream, and I think a
  dish of raspberries.”

  The “salt horse” was eaten, the thin cake of old, old meal, the small
  and watery potato apiece. The mess arose. “For what we have received
  may one day the enemy be thankful! Amen!”

  It was a festal night. They had a prison paper—_The Pen_—issued once a
  week. Foolscap paper was at a premium as was pen and ink. Therefore
  there was but one copy. It was read on Monday night by the gathering
  in division such and such a number. Tuesday night it passed to another
  division and another social hour. Wednesday night to another, and so
  on. The privates had their paper, too, and late in the week there were
  exchanges. This was Monday night and the hall of the editorial staff.

  The smoky lamps burned dim in the close and heated air. At times these
  officers were able to secure tobacco for those who smoked, but more
  often not. This present week it was not, and the hall missed this
  disinfectant. There were a few long benches, a dozen stools, some
  boxes and barrels. Those who could not find seats sat on the floor, or
  lounged against the darkened walls. They had a table beneath one of
  the lamps, and a space was kept clear for the performers of the
  evening. There was to be a debate and other features.

  The chairman of the evening arose. “Gentlemen, we will open as usual
  with Dixie—”

              “I wish I was in de land of cotton,
              Old times dar am not forgotten!
                Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land!
              In Dixie Land, whar I was born in,
              Early on one frosty morning,
                Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land!
              Den I wish I was in Dixie,
                Hooray, hooray!
              In Dixie Land I’ll take my stand,
              To live an’ die in Dixie!
                Away, away, away down South in Dixie;
                Away, away, away down South in Dixie—”

  Two hundred men sang it loudly. Bearded, gaunt, unkempt, large-eyed,
  in unsoldierly rags, they stood and sang Dixie—sang it fiercely, with
  all their pent power, with all their wild longing. It rolled and
  echoed through the building; it seemed to beat with violence at the
  walls, so that it might get out beneath the stars. It died at last.
  The prisoners in Division 3 turned again to the chairman. “Gentlemen,
  the editors of _The Pen_ crave your indulgence. The latest news by
  grapevine and underground is just in! The presses are working overtime
  in order that presently it may be served to you hot—”

  “The War is over!”

  “We are to be exchanged!”

  “England has declared—”

  “We have met the enemy and he is ours!”

  “We have received a consignment of tobacco.”

  “The rats have cried Hold, enough! A signal victory has been
  achieved—”

  “No; the bedbugs—”

  “The commandant has been called up higher.”

  “Is—is it an exchange?”

  The chairman put that hope out with prompt kindness. “No, no, Captain!
  I wish it were. That would be the next best thing to news of a big
  victory, wouldn’t it! But, see, they approach! Way for the noble
  editors! Way for _The Pen_ that has—ahem!—swallowed the sword!”

  The Junior Editor, having the biggest voice and being used to
  commanding Partisan Rangers, was the chosen reader. He stood forward.
  “Gentlemen, let me have your attention!—Can’t that lamp be turned
  up?—Thank you, Colonel!

                                 THE PEN

             _Light (mental) and Liberty (To the Dead Line)_

                     VOL. I.                 NO. 20.

                          PRISON X. JUNE —, 1863


                              IMPORTANT NEWS

           _Received by Grapevine, and confirmed by Fresh Fish_

  “General Lee is thought to be moving northward—”

  “_Yaaaih! Yaaaaaihhh! Yaaaaih!_”

  “He has certainly left the Rappahannock. Ewell has been observed
  moving toward the Valley, probably with the intention of falling on
  Milroy at Winchester—”

  “_Yaaaihhhh! Yaaaaaihhh!_—”

  “—and crossing the Potomac at Williamsport. Longstreet and A.P. Hill
  are in motion—”

  “_Yaaaih!_ Old Pete! _Yaaaih!_ A.P. Hill!”

  “If General Lee crosses the Potomac, surely all will be well. We trust
  in God that it’s true.”

  “Amen,” said the prisoners. “Amen, amen!”

  The reader turned the page.

  “Underground and Fresh Fish alike confirm our assurance that Vicksburg
  is NOT fallen! There is a rumour that provisions are becoming
  exhausted and that in Vicksburg, too, rats are speared. The Editors of
  THE PEN heartily wish that we might send a grapevine to the
  beleaguered city, ‘Nothing is, but only thinking makes it so.’ Think
  of your rat in terms of grace and you will find him good as squirrel.”

  “The above items exhaust the news of the outer world. THE PEN turns to
  the world around which runs the Dead Line. Incense first to the Muses!
  Lieutenant Lamar, ——th Georgia, favours us as follows:—

                “Oh, were I a boy in Georgia,
                  As now I am a man in Hell,
                I would haste to the old school-house
                  With the ringing of the bell!

                “Oh, were I a boy in Georgia
                  As now I am a man in jail,
                To go to church on Sunday,
                  Be sure I would not fail!

                “Oh, were I a boy in Georgia,
                  As now I am a man in chains,
                I’d not take the eggs from the bird-nests,
                  Nor apples from old man Haines!

                “Oh, were I a boy in Georgia,
                  As now I am a man in quod,
                I’d be a better son to my mother,
                  Ere she lay beneath the sod!”

  “In another vein Colonel Brown, ——th Kentucky, contributes:—

                 Air. _Within a mile of Edinboro’ Town._

            “’Twas a mile within the Wilderness green,
              In the rosy time of the year;
            Artillery boomed and the fight was keen,
              And many men found their bier.
                          There Marse Robert, grey and great,
                          Struck Joe Hooker, sure as fate!
  The Yankee blenched and answering cried, ‘No, no, it will not do!
  I cannot, cannot, winnot, winnot, munnot lose this battle too!‘

            “Stonewall had a way of falling from the blue,
              From the blue and on the blue as well!
            Their right he crumpled up and many he slew,
              And came on their centre like—!
                          Stonewall Jackson, great and grey,
                          Fought Joe Hooker on this day!
  Yet Hooker, fighting, frowned and cried, ‘No, no, it will not do!
  I cannot, cannot, winnot, winnot, munnot lose this battle too!‘

            “Stuart shook his feather and hummed a merry tune,
              Then swung the A.N.V. with might!
            He struck Joe Hooker the crown aboon,
              And put the blue army to flight!
                          Oh, Jeb Stuart, blithe and gay,
                          Beat Joe Hooker night and day!
  And Hooker, fleeing, no more frowned and cried, ‘No, no, it will not
     do!
  I cannot, cannot, winnot, winnot, munnot lose this battle too!’”

  “We pass from the service of the Muses to our editorial of the day.
  PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS AND THE CONDITION OF TRADE WITH A GLANCE AT THE
  PREDICAMENT OF THE UNEMPLOYED.”

  The really able editorial was read at length. As it had the quality of
  being applicable as well as dogmatic, as indeed it accurately
  portrayed the conditions and beliefs of all present, it received full
  attention and unanimous applause.

  The reader bowed his thanks. “Gentlemen, in all our career, we have
  been actuated by one sole ambition, and that ambition, gentlemen, was
  to become without any reservation, the Voice of the People! To-night
  that ambition is realized. We see that we are IT—and we thank you,
  gentlemen,—we thank you! We will now pass to the Standing Committees
  and their reports. On Finance; on Sick and Destitute; on State of the
  Church; on Public Education; on Cleanliness; on the Fine Arts; on
  Amusements—”

  After reports of committees came a page of advertisements.

  “A STITCH IN TIME SAVES NINE.—Bring your rips and rents to Captains
  Carter and Davenport, Division 10. Entire satisfaction given. Charges
  moderate.

  “INSTRUCTION IN ORATORY, and PARLOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS. Reginald De
  Launay, Division 13. I was once on the stage.

  “INSTRUCTION ON THE BANJO. (First get your banjo.) John Paul, Lt. ——th
  Alabama, Division 24.

  “A FIRST-CLASS LAUNDRY. No pains spared, only soap. Patronize us. You
  will never regret it. Taylor and Nelson, Northwest corner, Division 3,
  where you see the tub. No gentleman nowadays wears starched linen. One
  dislikes, too, a glaring white. And nobody likes a world too smooth.
  Our charges are moderate. We are Old Reliable.

  “GUTTA-PERCHA RINGS, Ladies’ Bracelets, Watch Chains, Walking-Sticks
  elaborately carved. Fancy Buttons. Just the things for mementoes of
  this summer-and-winter resort! Your lady-loves will prize them. Your
  grandchildren-to-be will treasure them. Call and look them over.
  Genuine bargains. Washington and Pinckney, Division 30, south side.
  Upper tier of bunks.

  “HAVE YOUR HAIR CUT. It needs it. Barbering of all kinds done with
  expedition and neatness. We will shave you. We will shampoo you. Our
  terms are the most reasonable north of Mason and Dixon. Call and see
  our stock of Arabian perfumes. We are experimenting upon a substitute
  for soap. Smith and Smith, Division 33.

  “COBBLE! COBBLE! COBBLE! Have your sole and uppers parted? Do you need
  a patch? Come and talk it over. We are amateurs, but we used to watch
  old Daddy Jim do it. We think we can help you. Our charges are not
  exorbitant. Porcher and Ravenel, Division 38.

  “CIRCULATING LIBRARY. We are happy to inform the public that through
  the generosity of recent arrivals we have become possessed of another
  copy of ‘Les Miserables,’ by Victor Hugo. We have also ‘Macaria,’ by
  Miss Evans, Thackeray’s ‘Vanity Fair,’ and Virgil’s ‘Æneid.’ At the
  closing of the meeting the chairman of the Library Committee will be
  happy to take names of applicants in order.

  “We pass to NOTICE OF DEATHS. We mourn the loss of Brigadier-General
  —— ——. This gallant gentleman and soldier passed away yesterday in the
  prison hospital. A kinsman, detained in this division, was allowed to
  be with him at the last. General —— asked that the twenty-third psalm
  be read, and when it was done he lay quiet for a while, then raised
  himself slightly in his bunk. ‘God save the South!’ he said, and died.
  Major ——, ——th South Carolina, is dead. Adjutant ——, ——th Tennessee,
  is dead. Captain ——, ——th Virginia, is dead. Captain ——, ——th North
  Carolina, is dead. Lieutenant ——, ——th Virginia Cavalry, is dead.
  Lieutenant ——, ——th Mississippi, is dead. We hear from the men’s side
  that very many of our comrades in the ranks are dead. So be it! _Dulce
  et decorum est pro patria mori._”

  There was a moment’s pause in the reading. Resumed, _The Pen_ took up
  the Continued Story, Instalment 5.

  The Continued Story did not deal with war and war’s alarms. The
  Continued Story was a story of domestic bliss. It was in the quietest
  vein; true love not too much crossed, marriage bells, home, a child,
  little details, a table set, flowers, robins singing, talk of a
  journey. Division 3, leaning forward, listened breathlessly. The
  instalment closed. “To be continued in our next.” A sigh went through
  the hall.

  The hour was almost up. The debate that was scheduled to follow _The
  Pen_ had to be shortened. Even so, it took place, and so interesting
  was it that various blue guards and officials, drawn by echoes as of
  Demosthenes, came into the hall and made part of the audience. “WOMAN:
  HER PLACE IN CREATION. DOES IT EQUAL THAT OF MAN?”

  The negative, in this time and place and audience, received scant
  sympathy. In vain the collegian who had somewhat doubtfully undertaken
  it, piled Ossa on Pelion, Aristotle on St. Paul, Rousseau on Martin
  Luther. That woman-famished audience received quotation and argument
  in stony disapproval. The affirmative soared over Ossa without
  brushing a pinion. Amid applause from grey and blue alike, the
  affirmative, somewhere now among the stars, was declared to have won.

  The chairman of the evening rose. “Gentlemen, the hour is passed. May
  you rest well, and have pleasant dreams! To-morrow night the Musical
  Club will delight us. We extend to the gentlemen of the North whom I
  see among us a cordial invitation to honour us again. Good night—good
  night!”

  Division 3 streamed beneath the smoky lamps out of the close and dark
  hall into the dark and close rooms. In each of these were tiers of
  bunks, none too wide. Each boasted one grated window which let in a
  very little of the summer night. The doors clanged behind the entering
  men; outside in the hall and at all exits the sentries were posted.
  Within a few minutes the doors were opened again. “Rounds!” Officer in
  blue, men in blue, swinging lantern, vague breath of the outer
  world—the guardian group went through each room, examining keenly the
  tiers of bunks each with its shadowy reclining or sitting inmate,
  lifting the lantern to peer into corners, shaking the window bars to
  see that there had been no filing. Ten minutes, and with or without a
  gruff “good night!” rounds were over.

  A half hour passed, an hour passed. It was a dark night and
  breathless. The stars that might be seen through the window, above the
  stockade, showed like white-hot metal points stuck through a heavy
  pall. Without the door of a room in which were packed twenty officers
  sounded, passing, the tread of the sentry. The sound died down the
  hall.

  A man stepped lightly and quietly from his bunk. Another left his as
  quietly,—another,—another. Those in the upper tier swung themselves
  down, noiseless as cats. All twenty were out on the floor. Whatever of
  clothing had been laid aside was resumed. Two men took their places by
  the door, ear to the heavy panel. Two watched at the window. All
  movement was made with the precision of the drill-yard and in the
  quietude of the tomb. In the corner, near the window, was a bunk in
  which had slept and waked a lieutenant of nineteen, a light, thin,
  small-boned youngster. Now four men, bending over, lifted noiselessly
  the boards upon which the lieutenant had lain. Below, stretched
  smooth, stained and coloured like the floor, was a bit of tarpaulin,
  obtained after God knows what skilful manœuvring! The men turned this
  back. Beneath gaped a ragged hole, a yard across, black and deep. Up
  came a colder air and an earthy smell.

  In this room Maury Stafford was the leader. With a whispered word he
  put his hands on the edge of the excavation and swung himself down,
  dropping at last several feet to the floor of the tunnel. One by one
  the twenty followed, the four from door and window coming last. As
  best they could, these pulled the boards of the lieutenant’s bunk in
  place over the entrance to that underground, which, with
  heart-stifling delays and dangers, they had digged. For months they
  had been digging—a hundred and odd men conspiring together, digging in
  the night-time, with infinite caution, with strange, inadequate tools,
  in darkness and silence and danger, a road to Freedom.

  From either side of them came a tapping sound, three taps, one tap,
  four taps, one tap. They made the return signal. “_Trenck_,” said a
  low voice down the tunnel. “_Latude_,” answered one of the twenty.
  “All right!” came back the voice; “_Latude_, lead the way.”

  The men who replaced the boards had given a last backward look to the
  room and the window through which came the starlight. The slight and
  thin lieutenant was one of them. “I reckon even at home, in the
  four-poster in the best room, I’ll dream for a while that there’s a
  black, empty coal-mine below me!—_Shh!_—All right, sir.”

  There was a column moving through the tunnel, the tunnel into which
  from the several conspiring rooms there were openings, all masked, all
  concealed and guarded, one by this means, one by that, but alike with
  the infinite sharpened ingenuity of trapped creatures. The disposal of
  the earth that was burrowed out—genius had gone to that, genius and a
  patience incredible. Inch by inch the way had opened. There has been
  the measuring, too, the calculation of distance.... They must dig
  upward and out at some point beyond the stockade—not too far beyond;
  they could not afford to dig forever.

  The tunnel was finished. To-night they were coming out, coming out
  somewhere beyond the stockade. There was a rugged gully, they knew,
  and then at a little distance, the river—the river that, on the other
  side, laved the Virginian shore. Let them but surprise, overpower
  whatever picket force might be stationed beyond the stockade, get to
  the river.... Trust them to swim the river!

  They crept—a hundred and odd men—through the stifling passage. They
  could not stand upright. The sweat drenched their bodies, their hands
  were wet against the walls. The tunnel that they had been digging for
  ages had never appeared a short one; to-night it seemed to stretch
  across infinity. At last they reached the end, the upward slope and
  then the round chamber that they had made beyond—beyond the stockade!
  The head of the line had a bit of candle, hoarded against this moment.
  The spurt of the match caused a start throughout the stretched line,
  the pale flicker of the candle showed drawn faces.

  They had two makeshift picks. How the iron had been obtained and the
  handles fashioned would make a long story. There had been a sifting of
  the stronger men to the front; now two of these, standing in the round
  chamber, raised and swung the picks and attacked the tunnel’s roof.
  Earth fell with a hollow sound. The hearts of that company beat in
  response. They were all bowed in the tunnel; their faces gleamed with
  sweat; their gleaming hands trembled where they pressed them against
  the walls. The blows of the picks made music, music that agonized
  while it charmed. They saw the sky and the open country and the river
  mirroring the stars. They had not a firearm nor a sword among them,
  but a few had pocket-knives, and others jagged bits of sheet-iron,
  billets of wood, even sharpened stones. Now and then the line
  whispered, but it never spoke aloud. The two at the end of the tunnel
  gave the picks to another two; the iron swung, the earth fell. To the
  strained hearing of all it fell ever with a more hollow and thunderous
  sound. Moreover, the sense of space changed, and time likewise. They
  knew this very long and dark passage so well; every inch of it was
  familiar; had they not been digging it since the dawn of time?
  To-night it was luridly strange. Legions of drums beat in the brain,
  and there were flashes of colour before the eyes. The line was caught
  in a strange vein of Becoming, and what would Become no man knew. The
  hundred and odd hoped for the best, but surely all things were
  becoming portentous.

  The two in the round chamber changed again—Maury Stafford now stood
  there with another. Rhythmically the picks struck the roof,
  rhythmically the earth fell. Since Sharpsburg of what had not Maury
  Stafford thought? The mind had tried to become and remain stoical, the
  mind had sickened, the mind had recovered; it had known the depths and
  the middle spaces and the blank wind-swept heights; the depths again,
  the middle spaces, the heights, and every point between. There had
  been changes in its structure. In its legions of warring elements
  some, long dominant, had taken a lower place; others were making good
  their claims to the thrones. He had been well-nigh a year in prison,
  and a year in prison counted five of earth. He had seen the minds of
  others dulled; all things sent to sleep except suffering and useless
  anger, or suffering and useless despondency. He, too, had known
  dulness for a time, but it had passed. There came in its place a
  certain lucidity, a certain hardness, and at the same time a widening.
  The prison bars held the physical man, but the wings of the inner man
  had broadened and they beat at vaster walls.

  The picks struck, the earth fell. Behind him he heard the breathing of
  the men. He, too, was dizzy from exertion, from the air of the tunnel.
  As he worked he was saying over to himself, over and over, old lines
  that came into his head—

                     “This ae night, this ae night,
                       Every night and all.
                     Fire and sleet and candlelight
                       And Christ receive thy soul—”

  The officer working with him uttered a low exclamation. “Look!”

  Stafford looked, then turned his head. “Be ready, all of you! We’re
  nearly through.”

  The earth fell, the rift widened. Down into the breathless tunnel,
  like wine to the exhausted, came a gust of night air. The long queue
  of waiting men quivered. The hole in the roof widened.... The workers
  were now working very cautiously, very quietly. Even in the dead of
  the night, even well beyond the stockade, even, as they hoped, in the
  bottom of the gully running down to the river, there might be wakeful
  ears. The workers made the least possible noise, the hundred and odd
  waiting prisoners made none at all. Crouched in silence they breathed
  the night air and the sweat dried upon them.... The hole in the roof
  became large enough to let a man through. Footholds had already been
  made along the side of the tunnel. The workers laid down their picks,
  mounted, and tried their weight upon the edges of the opening. The
  earth held. “Ready!” breathed Stafford. “McCarthy, you go first.”

  McCarthy drew himself up and out of the tunnel. “Now, Lamar!” Lamar
  followed. The queue moved a step forward. The third man had his hands
  on the edge of the hole. McCarthy’s form appeared above, blocking the
  starlight, McCarthy’s face down bent, waxen as the almost burned-out
  taper which threw against it a little quivering light. McCarthy’s
  whisper came down. “O my God, my God! We turned and dug obliquely....
  We’re still inside the stockade!”

  There sounded the discharge of a sentry’s piece, followed by a
  hallooing and the noise of running feet.



                              CHAPTER XII
                               THE SIEGE


  Eight gunboats held the river in front of, above, and below the doomed
  town. Under the leafy Louisiana shore the blue placed seven mortars.
  These kept up a steady fire upon the city and the river defences. At
  intervals the gunboats engaged the lower batteries. There was an
  abandoned line of works which was seized upon by a cloud of blue
  sharpshooters. These began to pick off men at the grey guns, and
  traverses had to be built against them. The grey had in the river
  batteries thirty-one siege guns, and a few pieces of light artillery.
  Even of these they had eventually to spare guns for the land defences.

  At dawn of the twenty-seventh of May began the engagement in which the
  Cincinnati was sunk. She had fourteen guns, and she opened furiously
  upon the upper batteries while four gunboats handled the lower. But
  the upper batteries sunk her; she went down not far from the shore in
  water that did not quite cover her decks. Her loss was heavy, from the
  grey shells and from the grey sharpshooters who picked off her men at
  the portholes. Night after night blue craft gathered around her,
  trying to take away the fourteen guns, but night after night the upper
  batteries drove them away. She stayed there, the Cincinnati, heavy and
  mournful in the smoke-shrouded river. And day after day, and week
  after week, the seven mortars and all the gunboats launched their
  thunders against the water batteries and the town beyond.

  Three fourths of a rough circle ran the landward defences. There were
  exterior ditches, eight and ten feet deep, with provision for the
  infantry, with embrasures and platforms for artillery. Before them
  were thrown abatis, palisades, entanglements of picket and telegraph
  wire. The ground was all ridge and hollow; redan and redoubt and
  lunette occupied the commanding points, and between them ran the
  rifle-pits. There was much digging yet to be done, and few men and no
  great supply of entrenching tools with which to do it. Night after
  night fatigue parties were busy. Behind all the salients they made
  inner lines for time of need; they built traverses against enfilading
  fires. So fast did the blue sharpshooters pick off officers and men,
  as they passed from the works to the camps in the rear, that very soon
  the grey were forced to contrive covered ways. Through the hot nights
  laboured already wearied men. The five hundred picks and shovels were
  shared among the troops. Where they gave out, wooden shovels were
  contrived and bayonets were used as picks. In the night-time the
  damage of the day must be somehow repaired. The damage of each day was
  very great.

[Illustration: SHARPSHOOTERS]

  The centre of the Confederate line, from the Jackson railroad to the
  Graveyard road, was held by Forney’s division. General Martin Luther
  Smith held from the Graveyard road to the river on the north, and made
  the left. Carter L. Stevenson’s division held from the railroad to the
  Warrenton road and the river south, and formed the right. Behind
  Forney lay in reserve Bowen with his Missourians and Waul’s Texas
  Legion. Counting the three thousand and more in hospital, there were
  twenty-eight thousand men defending Vicksburg. They were all needed.
  Thrice the number would have found work to do.

  Outside the Confederate line ran the Federal line of investment. At
  the beginning of the siege the two lines were some hundreds of yards
  apart; as the siege went on the blue drew nearer, nearer. They drew so
  near at last that, at night, the grey and blue pickets conversed, so
  near that at places the several ramparts all but touched. Forty-three
  thousand had Grant at the formal opening of the siege; steadily as it
  progressed he brought across the river other thousands. By the middle
  of June he had seventy-five thousand, besides the fleet upon the
  river. Ninth Army Corps, Thirteenth Army Corps, Fifteenth, Sixteenth,
  Seventeenth Army Corps,—Grant drew his forces and to spare around the
  town and its all too meagre defences, its one hundred and two guns and
  small store of ammunition and its twenty-eight thousand combatants,
  three thousand of whom were in hospital. Besides the guns of the
  fleet, there were now two hundred and twenty blue guns in position.
  They never lacked for ammunition. Seven miles, from the river north of
  the town to the river south, ran the Confederate lines. Fifteen miles,
  from Haines’s Bluff to Warrenton, enclosing the Confederate, ran the
  Federal lines. Grant was strongly posted. He had wide, sheltered
  hollows in which to mass his men, and commanding ridge-tops on which
  to place his guns. His far-flung position was strong for offence, and
  equally strong, in case of an attack from without, for defence. All
  day and every day thundered the Federal artillery. All day and every
  day the grey lines and the grey town knew the rain of shells. Very
  early in the siege the blue prepared to mine.

  At Jackson, fifty miles to the east, was Joseph E. Johnston, slowly
  gathering troops. At the last and best he had only twenty-four
  thousand troops. Between him and the beleaguered place lay an army of
  seventy-five thousand men, strongly posted, and strong—where the grey
  were weakest—in artillery; with, also, a blue fleet in the background.
  At long intervals Pemberton got out a messenger to him; at long
  intervals one of his own got into Vicksburg.

  Within all these lines Vicksburg herself crouched and waited. All her
  people who might dwelled now in caves. They came out in the night or
  during the infrequent silences of the day and returned to the houses
  that were not injured. They grew careless about exposure, or rather
  they grew fatalistic after the manner of courageous, besieged places.
  They passed through the streets even when the shells were raining, or
  they wandered out toward the lines, or they sat under some already
  splintered tree and counted the gunboats on the dusky river. Courage
  stayed with them, and even at times gaiety, though she had a hectic
  cheek.

  On the twenty-second of May the town rocked under the first assault.
  Four ironclads and a wooden gunboat—thirty-two guns—opened upon the
  river batteries. From the land the artillery began as well, a great
  force of artillery sending shot and shell against the Confederate
  centre and right and into the town beyond. At one o’clock came the
  first of three Federal charges, directed against the line of Stephen
  D. Lee. The assault was desperate, the repulse as determined. The grey
  guns did not spare to-day grape and canister. The grey musketry poured
  from the trenches volley after volley in the face of the foe. A blue
  storming party, Illinois and Ohio and Missouri, charged a redoubt in
  which the cannon had made a breach. They crossed the ditch, they
  mounted the earthen wall, they fixed two flags upon the parapet. They
  hurrahed in triumph. This angle was uncommanded by any grey work. The
  flags could be dislodged only by a countercharge and hand-to-hand
  fighting. Volunteers were called for, and there went a band of Waul’s
  Texans, led by Colonel Pettus of the Twentieth Alabama. The blue
  artillery opened upon them; there fell a fearful hail. The bullets of
  the sharpshooters, too, came against them like bees armed each with a
  mortal sting. The grey rushed on. They dislodged the blue from the
  fort, then fought them in the ditch below. They used shells like hand
  grenades, flinging them from the rampart. They took the flags, waved
  them on high, then sent them back to their colonel, who sent them to
  Stephen Lee. They beat back the blue storming party.... The grey beat
  back the whole wide, three blue charges, hurled them back upon their
  lines like torn waves from an iron coast. When dusk came and sullenly
  the firing ceased, the Federal dead and wounded lay thick, thick, up
  and down before the Confederate line, by ditch and wall,—perhaps two
  thousand dead and wounded. In the night-time some were taken away, but
  very, very many were left. The weather was deadly hot.

  Dead and wounded lay there so long that it became frightful. The grey
  did not love the crying on their front, the gasping voices, the faint,
  dry, _Water! Water! Water!_—dry and shrill like insects in the grass.
  The dead became offensive, horrible. The grey sent a flag of truce:
  General Pemberton’s request to General Grant that hostilities be
  suspended for several hours while the Federal dead were buried and the
  wounded relieved. It was then the twenty-fifth. Grant, his cigar
  between his teeth, sitting before his tent out near the Graveyard
  road, nodded assent. All that afternoon they buried the dead, and
  removed the yet living. A thunder-shower came down and did something
  to wash away the stains. In the silence and respite from the shells,
  Vicksburg left its caves and hurried through trampled gardens back to
  the homes it loved. Here and there was ruin. The shell might have
  exploded in the porch, bearing down the white pillars, or in the
  parlour, shivering the mirrors and the crystal chandeliers, or upon
  the stair, or in a bedroom. Here and there was wholly ruin. A gaunt
  framework lifted itself among the roses, or the white magnolias stared
  at a heap of charred timbers.... The truce lasted less than three
  hours.

  There was one cave quite out of town, quite near the lines. It
  belonged to an old country-house with a fair garden, and it was digged
  at the time of the bombardment the past summer. Now the house had been
  burned and the people occupying it had gone into the crowded town. The
  cave stood empty. It had been made in the side of a tall, vine-draped
  bank. Dark cedars with heavy and twisted roots overhung it, and on
  either side there was ivy and honeysuckle. It was a large cave, clean
  and dry. The family that had moved away had left within it a low bed
  and a small old dressing-table and other furniture and a little china
  and tinware. At no great distance trickled and gurgled the spring
  belonging to the house. One heard it in the night-time, but all day
  long it was lost in the thunder. Désirée went to it for water only
  after dark.

  The house which had given her refuge had been one of the first
  demolished. She looked at all the warrens that had been dug in the
  earth, and then, one rosy evening, she walked out toward the lines.
  She took the direction of the redan where Edward was stationed, and
  just on the townward side of the line of sentries she found this
  ruined house in its ruined garden and the empty cave. The next day in
  she moved.

  Lieutenant Edward Cary got her message, brought him by his commanding
  officer. “Cary, I was riding by the ruined house, and a very beautiful
  woman came out of a cave in the hill and said she was your wife, and
  that she was making her home there, and would you come to Cape
  Jessamine when you could.”

  It was two days before he could go to Cape Jessamine. The evening of
  the truce he went, through the great fresh coolness after the storm.
  There was yet in the sky a dark blur of cloud with a sweep below it of
  ragged, crêpe-like filaments, but the lightning and thunder had ceased
  and the rain was over. Moist fragrance rose from the desolated garden.
  After all the heat and turmoil there was a silence that seemed divine.
  Just by the mouth of the cave, half buried in the trailing ivy,
  Désirée had placed a bench. Here, the first rapture of meeting over,
  they sat in the evening light, the storm rolling away, an odour coming
  to them of mignonette.

  He gathered her hands in his. “Désirée Gaillard, this is no place for
  you! They are driving an approach to the redan and are massing guns
  against it. The shells will fall in this garden. Go back to the town!”

  “No; I will not. I like this better.”

  “The point is that you may be killed.”

  “No, I will not be. The shells fall, too, in the town. I will be
  careful.”

  “Dear heart, I mean it.”

  “Dear heart, I mean it, too. The danger is not greater than it is in
  town. Yesterday there a child’s arm was torn away.”

  “Oh—”

  “Yes.... It is so frightful. And they are burying the dead out there.
  A soldier told me.”

  “Yes.... How still it seems! And the mignonette ...”

  “It is as still as was the garden at Cape Jessamine. Look how the
  clouds are drifting by....”

  “Desiree, I brought you into the country of Danger. If you had gone to
  the Fusilier place—”

  “I should be dead by now. The country of Danger is a happy country
  to-night. I fear it no more than you. Indeed, I love it—since you are
  here. We are not children travelling, you and I. Look at the light
  trembling up from the west!”

  “That night upon the levee.... You were the heart of the red light.
  Now you sit here, heart of the gold light.... I love you.”

  “I love you.”

  The clouds drifted away, the sun went down clear. The evening star was
  shining like a silver lamp when the two unlocked their arms, kissed,
  and rose. All the ruined garden was filled with fireflies, and there
  stole upward the odour of the mignonette. She went with him to the
  fallen old brick gateposts. There they embraced and parted. Going down
  toward the trenches he looked back and saw her standing, the fireflies
  about her like stars, behind her tall shadowy trees, and, like a
  hieroglyphic against the sky, the charred rafters of the ruined house.

  At dawn the cannonading began anew and lasted all day. Musketry, too,
  volleyed and rolled. The Federal ammunition never lacked, but the grey
  were in no position to spend with freedom. Every ridge of the
  besieging line belched saffron flame, thick smoke, and thunder; every
  point of vantage sent its stream of minies, horribly singing. On this
  day the blue began sap after sap. In the night-time the grey sent a
  detachment from Stevenson’s right out upon the river flats, their
  errand the constructing of an abatis against a possible blue approach
  that way. A Federal party came against them and there was a bitter
  skirmish. The gunboats, excitedly waking, thrust a duel upon the river
  batteries. The night flamed and roared. The grey won out upon the
  flats and returned with a hundred prisoners. The morning saw the river
  fight and the sinking of the Cincinnati.

  May shook and thundered toward its sulphurous close. The twenty-ninth,
  thirtieth, and thirty-first were marked by a continuous, frightful
  bombardment. By now the blue parallels were close, close to every main
  grey work. They were very close, indeed, to the Third Louisiana Redan.
  All night the grey engineers and their haggard men dug, dug to repair
  the daytime breaches, to make inner lines. On the first day of June
  fire broke out in the town. There threatened a general conflagration,
  but soldiers and civilians conquered the flames before there was
  disaster irretrievable. The weather was deadly hot. Fever became
  epidemic.

  There arrived a question of musket caps. Imperatively needed, they
  must be had. If it were possible for a few daring men to get down the
  river and across, behind the enemy, to Jackson, General Johnston would
  send the caps. There were volunteers. Captain Saunders, Lamar
  Fontaine, a courier named Walker, were the first chosen; later, a
  noted scout and Lieutenant Edward Cary. At midnight they drifted down
  the river on logs. The battery under whose shadow they had set out
  listened for a shout, looked for a leaping flame from some one of the
  gunboats they must pass. But the gunboats lay silent. There was always
  driftwood upon the rushing river.

  At dawn the mortars on the Louisiana side began to shell the batteries
  and the town beyond. Later the gunboats took a hand. Six days in
  succession this bombardment opened with the first light in the east
  and closed with the latest in the west. Vicksburg lost the last
  semblance of old times. The bombs ripped houses open as they ripped
  bodies. The blue began to drive double saps against the principal
  redans. The grey began to countermine. All the torn, sunbaked line
  knew that from now on it would stand over volcanoes.

  Désirée went into the town and to the hospitals, but when she found
  there were nurses enough she was glad—though, had there been need, she
  like all the rest would have worked there until she dropped.

  At the door of one of the hospitals she spoke to a surgeon. “There is
  no yellow fever?”

  “No, thank God! Not yet.—I’ll strike on wood.”

  They watched a shell burst in the air above an empty garden. “Well, if
  they’d only keep that spot for a target! But they won’t.... When we
  stopped counting a week ago the hospitals had been struck twenty-one
  times. It’s hard on wounded men to be rewounded.—There’s another!”

  The shell ploughed a trench across the street, burst against the
  corner of a brick wall, and brought it down in ruin.

  “You can’t blame them for getting unnerved, lying there and
  listening,” pursued the surgeon. “Then they don’t get well quickly and
  conditions are unfavourable for amputations and operations. And I’ve
  never seen worse wounds than we’re getting in this siege.—There’s
  another!”

  Désirée went on to a row of caves in a parched hillside. Here were
  certain of her old friends, and here was a kind of central storeroom
  from which she with others drew her slender rations. The basket which
  she had brought she partly filled, then sat upon a stone and asked and
  answered questions. It was not for long; she was not happy away from
  Cape Jessamine. They begged her to stay; they represented that a
  moderate risk was all right,—they ran it here,—but that so near the
  lines she was in actual danger. She laughed with her beautiful eyes
  and went her way.

  A little farther down the line she paused for a moment beside a young
  woman in black sitting in the cave mouth, a slate and pencil on her
  knee and beside her a boy and girl. “You are keeping school, Miss
  Lily?”

  “It isn’t exactly school,” said Miss Lily, “but one must entertain the
  children. It is hard on them being penned up like this.”

  “We’re drawing funny pictures,” explained the boy. “This is General
  Grant.”

  “And this,” chimed in the girl, “is General Sherman! Doesn’t he look
  fierce?”

  “And this is Yankee Doodle! Look at his feather—all over the slate!”

  Miss Lily leaned a little forward, her thin hands clasped about her
  knees, her luminous dark eyes upon the murky sky. She had a voice of
  liquid sweetness, all shot with little lights and shadows. “I had such
  a vivid dream last night. I thought that suddenly all the shells,
  instead of coming this way, were going that way, and somebody said it
  would be because General Johnston was coming with a great army and
  that the enemy’s cannon were turned against them. All the sky grew
  clear red instead of blue, and in it I saw the army coming. It was
  like the pictures of the Judgment Day. And the flag was in front, and
  there were clouds and thunders. _And the enemy was swept of the face
  of the earth._” She sighed. “And then I woke up, and the shells were
  coming this way.”

  “I dreamed, too,” said the little girl; “I dreamed about Christmas.”

  Désirée went back to Cape Jessamine. On the way she walked for a while
  beside an old negro woman. “Yass, ’m, yass, ’m! De debbil am rainin’
  fire an’ brimstone! En now ef de Lawd’d only send de manna an’ de
  quails!”

  “Are you hungry?” asked Désirée. “You look hungry.”

  “Well, ’m, dar wuz de chillern. I done hab my ration en dey done hab
  theirs, but de Lawd Jesus knows growin’ chillern need _six_ rations! I
  couldn’t give ’em six, but I giv ’em mine.—I ben lookin’ at de berries
  in de patch ober dar, but Lawd! de bloom ain’t much moh’n fallen!”

  Désirée uncovered the basket and shared with her her loaf of bread.
  The other took it with glistening eyes and profuse thanks. They
  parted, and Désirée went on to the cave below the cedars in the ruined
  garden. The day was hot, hot! and the air was thick, and there was
  always smell of burned powder, and dull, continual noise. But the cave
  itself was dark and cool. She had drawn the ivy so that it fell like a
  curtain across the entrance. She drank a cup of water, ate a piece of
  bread, then lay down upon her pallet. She lay very straight, her hands
  clasped upon her breast, her dark eyes fixed upon the veil of ivy. The
  light came in, cool and green like emerald water. The booming of the
  cannon grew rhythmic like great waves against a cliff. _Edward!
  Edward!_ They beat in her brain—_Edward! Edward!_

  She knew that he was gone with the others for the musket caps. Day by
  day soldiers in numbers passed her garden. She had come to know the
  faces of many and had made friends with them. Sometimes they asked for
  water. Sometimes the wounded rested here. An officer, mortally
  wounded, had been laid upon this pallet and had died here, upheld for
  the last labouring breath in her arms. The colonel commanding the
  troops in the redan and trenches at this point stopped occasionally in
  coming or going. He was a chivalrous, grey-mustached hero who paid her
  compliments three-piled. It was he who told her of the volunteers for
  dangerous service, but it was a smoke-grimed, tattered private who
  brought her a line from Edward, pencilled just at starting.... Five
  days ago.

  She lay perfectly still, breathing lightly but deeply. Her mind, like
  a bird, flew now into this landscape, now into that. Cape
  Jessamine—Cape Jessamine—and the river rolling over what had been home
  and life. Her room—the river rolling over her room—the balcony with
  the yellow rose and the silken dresses in the carved wardrobe.... She
  was in New Orleans—Mardigras—Rex passing—Louis as Rex—flowers down
  raining. All the masks—the ball.... France—an old house in Southern
  France with poplars and a still stream.... Her eyelids closed. Green
  water falling, and the cypresses of Cape Jessamine.... She turned on
  her side—_Edward! Edward!_

  The great waves continued to break against the cliffs, then arose a
  deafening crash as of down-ruining land. Désirée sprang to her feet
  and went and pushed aside the ivy. Thick smoke hung over a salient
  some distance to the right; she saw men running. Though she had never
  seen a mine exploded, she knew it for what it was. She watched the
  thickest of the smoke lift and drift aside, she saw that the flag
  still waved from the salient and she gathered from the steadiness of
  the world in general and the rhythmic pursuance of the cannonading
  that the mine had not been large, or had failed of its full intent.
  She knew, however, that in the salient there had been moments of
  destruction and anguish.

  Sleep was driven from her eyes. She sat down upon the bench without
  the door. It was the blazing afternoon. She saw the air upquivering
  from the baked earth, the ruined wall. The neglected garden looked
  dead with sultriness. Beyond, in the heat, she saw the camps, tents,
  huts of dried boughs, small wooden structures. From them to the front
  ran strange geometric lines that were the covered ways. She saw the
  sentries, small, metallic-looking figures. Then came trenches,
  breastworks, redan. Smoke was over them, but here and there it gave
  and let through the red points of flags, or a vision of soldiers. The
  horizon all around stood a wall of murk torn by red flashes. That the
  air rocked with sound was now a matter of course. The ear was
  accustomed to it, as to the roar of a familiar cataract, or as
  mechanics and mill-hands might be to the roar of machinery.
  Distracting sound ceased to be distracting. The attention went where
  it was needed, as in the silence of the desert. Désirée sat with her
  hands in her lap, staring into the heat and light. She sat with a
  certain look of the Sphinx, accepting the spectator’s place, since the
  ages had fixed her there, and yet with a dim and inner query that
  raised the corners of her lips.

  A squad of soldiers came by, paused and asked if they might get water.
  When they came back from the spring she stopped them with her eyes.

  “Did the mine do much harm?”

  “No, ’m, mighty little, considering. It hurt a dozen men and gave us
  some digging and mending to do to-night. Good for us, I reckon! We all
  are so awful lazy—serving only twenty out of twenty-four hours!”

  “Yes,” said Désirée. “I’ve observed how lazy you are. There never were
  soldiers who did better than you are doing.—Is there any news?”

  “They’ve got their sap rollers within a hundred feet of us. I’ve got
  an idea that I’m going to give the captain. If you’d soak wads of
  cotton in turpentine, and wrap them in pieces of match and fire them
  from an old large-bore gun into them rollers, you might burn the
  darned things up!”

  “Two of the men who went after caps got in at dawn this morning.”

  “Two—?”

  “Yes, ’m. Captain Saunders and Walker. They brought two hundred
  thousand caps between them. They had a lively time getting out, and a
  livelier getting in.”

  “The others—?”

  “They haven’t been heard from. It wasn’t an easy job! I reckon if we
  get two back—and that many caps—it’s as good as we could expect.”

  The day declined. The sun went down like a red cannon ball. The
  cannonading ceased; the minies ceased. Slowly the smoke drifted away
  and let the stars be seen. The silence after sound oppressed,
  oppressed! Désirée sat still upon the bench. The moon rose, round and
  white, mounted and made the world spectral. At last she stood up. She
  raised and opened her arms, then closed them on each other and wrung
  her hands. Then she went out of the night without to that within the
  cave. The moon came strongly in. When, presently, she lay down upon
  the pallet, she drew her eyes and forehead out of the pool of silver.
  _Edward! Edward!_

  Between the dead night and the first dawn, an hour before the
  sharpshooters would begin, she suddenly sat up, then rose to her feet.
  The moonlight was gone from the floor; there was only the unearthly
  hush and ebb of the hour. She moved to the entrance, pushed aside the
  ivy, and stood with held breath. Though she could not see him, she
  knew when he turned in at the ruined gate. A moment and his voice was
  in her ears. “Désirée!”—another, and they were clasped in each other’s
  arms. “I got in an hour ago—with the caps. I have till dawn.”

  Throughout the seventh and eighth of June the firing from the mortars
  was very heavy and the Federal digging, digging continued. The grey
  private’s device was adopted and a number of sap rollers were set
  afire and destroyed, exposing the sappers behind and compelling fresh
  beginnings. On the Jackson road, before Hebert’s lines, the blue were
  using for screen cotton bales piled high upon a flatcar. This shield
  also was fired by musket balls wrapped in turpentine and tow. Bales
  and car went up in flames. The grey began new rifle-pits, and in the
  redans they collected thundering barrels and loaded shells. There was
  a feeling of impending assault. Now, too, began night sallies—Federal
  attacks upon the picket lines, Confederate repulses. Sentinel duty,
  heavy from the first, grew ever more heavy. Men fought during the day,
  and the same men watched at night. Day and night the trenches must be
  manned. The lines were long, and by now there were barely eighteen
  thousand grey effectives. They lived perforce in the trenches; they
  had no relief from the narrow ditches. The sun of a Southern June
  blistered and baked; then came torrential rains and soaked all things;
  then the sun shone again and the heavens became an inverted bowl of
  brass. On the twelfth of June the troops were put on half-rations; a
  little later, these, too, were reduced. The water grew low and very
  impure. There were so many dead bodies—men and animals. Fever appeared
  in every main work, and in every trench. Men lifted their muskets with
  shaking hands.



                              CHAPTER XIII
                           ACROSS THE POTOMAC


  On the thirteenth of June, Ewell and the Second Corps forded the
  Potomac.

                   “Come! ’Tis the red dawn of the day,
                         Maryland!”

  sang the men.

                “Come with thy panoplied array,
                      Maryland!...
                Come, for thy shield is bright and strong,
                      Maryland!
                Come, for thy dalliance does thee wrong,
                      Maryland!...”

  From the thirteenth to the twenty-first they bivouacked on and near
  the battle-field of Sharpsburg. By now they were used to revisiting
  battle-fields. Kernstown—Manassas—many another stricken field; they
  knew them once, they knew them twice, they knew them times again! On
  the twenty-first, Ewell had orders from Lee to march northward into
  Pennsylvania, then eastwardly upon Harrisburg on the Susquehanna. “Old
  Dick” broke camp at dawn of the twenty-second.

  South of the Potomac waited Lee with the First and Third Corps. He
  waited watching “Fighting Joe Hooker,” willing to give him battle in
  Virginia if he so elected. On the twentieth he sent a dispatch from
  Berryville to Richmond, to Mr. Davis.


  MR. PRESIDENT:—I have the honour to report, for the information of
  your Excellency, that General Imboden has destroyed the bridges on the
  Baltimore and Ohio Railroad over Evarts’s Creek, near Cumberland; the
  long bridge across the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal below Cumberland; the
  iron bridge across the North Branch of the Potomac, with the wooden
  trestle adjoining it; the double-span bridge across the mouth of
  Patterson’s Creek; the Fink’s patent iron bridge across the mouth of
  the South Branch of the Potomac, three spans of 133⅓ feet each, and
  the wooden bridge over Little Cacapon.

  All the depots, water tanks, and engines between the Little Cacapon
  and the Cumberland are also destroyed, with the block-houses at the
  mouth of the South Branch and Patterson’s Creek.

  The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, about two miles above Old Town, where
  the embankment is about forty feet high, has been cut, and General
  Imboden reports that when he left it the entire embankment for about
  fifty yards had been swept away.

  A similar crevasse with like results was also made in the canal about
  four miles from Old Town.

  Lieutenant-Colonel White, of the cavalry, has also cut the Baltimore
  and Ohio Railroad, east of the Point of Rocks.

  General Milroy has abandoned the south side of the Potomac, occupying
  Harper’s Ferry with a picket, and holds the Maryland Heights with
  about eight thousand men.

  General Ewell’s corps is north of the Potomac, occupying Sharpsburg,
  Boonsborough, and Hagerstown. His advance cavalry is at Chambersburg,
  Pennsylvania.

  The First Division of General A.P. Hill’s corps will reach this
  vicinity to-day; the rest follow.

  General Longstreet’s corps with Stuart’s cavalry still occupy the Blue
  Ridge between the roads leading through Ashby’s and Snicker’s Gaps,
  holding in check a large force of the enemy, consisting of cavalry,
  infantry, and artillery.

  The movement of the main body of the enemy is still toward the
  Potomac, but its real destination is not yet discovered....

  If any of the brigades that I have left behind for the protection of
  Richmond can, in your opinion, be spared, I should like them to be
  sent to me.

    I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

                                                    R.E. LEE, General.


  Several days later, Ewell being now so advanced that support for him
  was absolutely necessary, Longstreet was withdrawn from the edge of
  the Blue Ridge. With the First Corps he crossed the Potomac at
  Williamsport. A.P. Hill and the Third followed, crossing at
  Shepherdstown. At Hagerstown the two corps united and the resulting
  column moved northward into Pennsylvania.

  Now Jeb Stuart’s only fault was that he too dearly loved a raid. He
  applied to Lee for permission to take three brigades, thread the Bull
  Run Mountains, attain the enemy’s rear, pass between his main body and
  Washington and so cross into Maryland, joining the army somewhere
  north of the Potomac. Now Lee’s only fault was an occasional too
  gracious complaisance, a too moderate estimate of his own judgment, a
  willingness to try for what they were worth the suggestions of
  subordinates. With entire justice he loved and trusted Stuart and
  admired his great abilities. He permitted the deflection of the
  cavalry—only the cavalry must keep him cognizant of every move of the
  enemy. If Hooker finally crossed the Potomac, he must know it at once,
  and at once Stuart must fall in upon the right of the grey army of
  invasion.

  Ewell at Sharpsburg broke camp at dawn of the twenty-second. Followed
  a week of, on the whole, tranquil progress. “Old Dick’s” marches were
  masterly done. Reveille sounded at dawn. An hour later the troops were
  on the road. Unhurrying and undelayed, they made each day a good march
  and bivouacked with the setting sun.

  How fair seemed the rich Pennsylvania countryside! The Valley of
  Virginia had worn that aspect before the war. It, too, had had yellow
  wheat-fields and orchards and turning mill wheels. It, too, had had
  good brick country-houses and great barns and peaceful towns and roads
  that were mended when they were worn. It, too, had had fences and
  walls and care. It had had cattle in lush meadows. “Land of Goshen!”
  said Ewell’s soldiers. “To think we were like this once!”

  “Well, we will be again.”

  “Listen to old Cheerfulness! And yet I reckon he’s right, I reckon
  he’s right, I reckon he’s right!”

  “Of course he’s right! I couldn’t be low-spirited if I tried.
  _Hallelujah!_”

  The Second Corps did not try. No more did the First nor the Third. The
  Army of Northern Virginia _was_ in good spirits. Behind it lay some
  weeks of rest and recuperation; behind that the victory of the
  Wilderness. Worn and inadequate enough as it was, yet this army’s
  equipment was better to-day than it had been. It had the spoils of
  great battle-fields. Artillery was notably bettered; cavalry was fit
  and fine; infantry a seasoned veteran who thought of a time without
  war as of some remote golden age. The Army of Northern Virginia was
  now organized as it had not been organized before for efficiency. It
  numbered between sixty and seventy thousand men. It had able major-
  and lieutenant-generals and a very great commanding general. It was
  veteran, eager for action, confident, with victories behind it. There
  was something lifted in the spirit of the men. Behind them, across the
  Potomac, lay a devastated land,—their land, their home, their mother
  country! Before them lay a battle, a great battle, the greatest battle
  yet, perhaps! Win it—win it! and see a great rainbow of promise,
  glorious and bright, arch itself over the land beyond the river, the
  land darkened, devastated, and beloved!... Before them, as they
  marched, marched a vision of dead leaders: Shiloh and Albert Sidney
  Johnston—Port Republic and Ashby—Chancellorsville and Stonewall
  Jackson—of many dead leaders, and of a many and a many dead comrades.
  The vision did not hurt; it helped. It did not weaken their hearts; it
  strengthened them.

  The Stonewall Brigade found itself in good heart and upon the road to
  Greencastle. It was a sunny June day and a sunny June road with
  oxheart cherry trees at intervals. Corps, divisions, brigades,
  regiments, companies—one and all had orders, calm and complete, not to
  plunder. “_The Commanding General_,” ran Lee’s general order,
  “_earnestly exhorts the troops to abstain with most scrupulous care
  from unnecessary or wanton injury to private property, and he enjoins
  upon all officers to arrest and bring to summary punishment all who
  shall in any way offend against the orders on this subject._” To the
  credit of a poorly clad army, out of a land famished and fordone, be
  it said that the orders were obeyed. The army was in an enemy’s land,
  a land of plenty, but the noncombatant farming-people of that land
  suffered but little in purse or property and not at all in person. “I
  was told,” writes a good grey artilleryman, “by the inhabitants that
  they suffered less from our troops than from their own, and that if
  compelled to have either they preferred having the ‘rebels’ camped
  upon their land. I saw no plundering whatever, except that once or
  twice I did see branches laden with fruit broken from cherry trees. Of
  course it goes without saying that the quartermasters, especially of
  artillery battalions, were confessedly, and of malice aforethought,
  horse-thieves!”

  The Sixty-fifth Virginia admired the Cumberland Valley. “It looks for
  all the world like the picture of Beulah land in a ‘Pilgrim’s
  Progress’ I got as a prize for learning the most Bible verses!”—“This
  landscape makes me want to cry. It looks so—so—so damn
  peaceful.”—“That’s so! They don’t have to glean no battle-fields.
  They’re busy reaping wheat.”—“Cherries! Those cherries are as big as
  winesaps. I’m going to have cherry pie to-night,—

                       “Can she make a cherry pie,
                         Billy boy, Billy boy?
                       Can she make a cherry pie,
                         Charming Billy?”

  “Did you hear Early’s boys tell about ‘Extra Billy’ at
  Winchester?”—“No.”—“Well, ’twas the artillery going by at a gallop to
  occupy a work they had just taken, going by the lying-down infantry,
  and Milroy’s other batteries blazing against them from the other
  hills, and the Yankee sharpshooters just as busy as bees. And the
  lying-down infantry just cocked its eye up from the earth and said,
  ‘Go it, boys!’ But ex-Governor William Smith ain’t made like that. He
  stood up before his regiment just as graceful and easy as if he was
  going to make a speech, with the blue cotton umbrella over his
  shoulder, and when that artillery came thundering by, by jingo! he
  began bowing to every man and some of the horses! He just stood there
  and beamed and bowed—good old Governor! Everybody knew that he’d just
  forgotten and thought that he was at a political meeting.”—“Probably
  he did. War’s an awful intensifier and a kind of wizard that puts a
  year in a day, but if a man’s been habituated one way for fifty years
  he’ll slip back into it, cannon balls notwithstanding.”—“There’s a
  spring-house and a woman churning! _Buttermilk!_”—“Reckon she’s got
  any cherry pies? Reckon she’d sell them to us? Colonel says we’ve got
  to pay—pay good Confederate money!”

  The Sixty-fifth marched on upon a sunshiny road, beneath blue sky,
  between crimson-fruited cherry trees. Beyond swelled the green and
  gold countryside, so peaceful.... Butterflies fluttered, honeybees
  hummed, birds warbled. Dinner was good meat and wheaten bread, taken
  in cheerful meadows, beneath elms and poplars. Village and farmer
  people showed themselves not tremendously hostile. Small boys
  gathered, happy and excited; Dutch farmers, anxiety for their red
  barns appeased, glowered not overmuch. Women were stiffer and took
  occasion to hum or sing aloud patriotic Northern songs. Southerners
  are a polite people, and the women of the Cumberland Valley met with
  no rudeness. At a cross-roads, the Sixty-fifth passing with jingle and
  tramp, a Pennsylvania carriage horse, that had never snuffed the
  battle from afar, took fright at the grey men or the gleam of rifle
  barrels or the sanguine fluttering colours. Ensued a rearing and
  plunging, and, from the phaeton behind, a scream. Lieutenant Coffin
  sprang to the rescue.—The horse stood soothed, though trembling a
  little still. “Thar now! thar now!” said Billy Maydew at the reins.
  The twelve-year-old urchin in the driver’s seat glued his eyes to the
  marching Sixty-fifth and gasped with delight. The sprigged muslin and
  straw bonnet in the embrace of the phaeton made a gallant bid for the
  austerity of a marble monument.

  “You wish to cross the road, madam? Or can you wait until the column
  has passed?”

  “Oh, wait, please, sister! Golly! Look at that blue flag!”

  “No, I cannot wait. I wish to cross now. I am going to a funeral.”

  The last of the Sixty-fifth passed with jingle and tramp. The Fourth
  was seen looming through the mist. Sergeant Maydew at the horse’s
  head, Lieutenant Coffin beside the phaeton—across the highroad was
  conducted straw bonnet and sprigged muslin. The two soldiers stood
  back, Lieutenant Coffin making a courtly bow. It was answered by a
  stately inclination of the bonnet. The boy reluctantly said, “Get up!”
  to the horse, and the phaeton slowly climbed a flowery hill.

  The lieutenant and the sergeant strode after their regiment. “She was
  mighty sweet and fine!” volunteered Billy. “I like that dark, soft
  kind, like pansies. I’ll tell you who I think she air like. She air
  like Miss Miriam Cleave at Three Oaks.”

  Coffin considered. “I see what you mean. They are a little alike....
  Three Oaks!”

  “I used to think,” said Billy, “that I’d be right happy if I could
  kill you. That was before Port Republic. Then I used to think I’d be
  right happy when Allan Gold had beat spelling into me and I’d be made
  sergeant. And after Chancellorsville I thought I’d be right happy if
  General Jackson got well. But I’ve thought right along, ever since
  White Oak Swamp, that I’d be right happy if the Sixty-fifth had back
  the only colonel I’ve ever cared much for, and that air Richard
  Cleave!”

  In the afternoon the Sixty-fifth came to the town of Greencastle. It
  looked a thriving place, and it had shops and stores filled with the
  most beautiful and tempting goods. Back home, the goods were all gone
  from the stores, the old stock assimilated and the new never
  appearing. The shop windows of Greencastle looked like fairyland, a
  hundred Christmases all in one. “Look-a-there! Look at that
  ironware!”—“Look at them shirts and suspenders! Coloured
  handkerchiefs.”—“Fancy soap and cologne and toothbrushes!”—“I wish I
  might send Sally that pink calico and some ribbons, and a hoop.”—“Look
  at that plough—that’s something new!”—“Figured velvet
  waistcoats.”—“Lord have mercy! this is the sinfullest town of
  plutocrats!”—“Try them with Confederate money.“—“Sure Old Dick said we
  mightn’t take just a little?”—“Oh, me! oh, me! there’s a shoe-store
  and a hat-store and a drug-store.”—“Say, Mr. Storekeeper, would you
  take for that pair of shoes a brand-new fifty-dollar Richmond Virginia
  bank note with George Washington and a train of cars on it?”—“He won’t
  sell. This gilded town’s got so much money it doesn’t want any
  more—tired of money.”—“Disgusting Vanity Fair kind of a place! Glad
  the colonel isn’t going to halt us!”—_Don’t straggle, men!_—“No, sir;
  we aren’t!”

  Camp was clean beyond Greencastle—a lovely camp quite removed from
  Vanity Fair. Apparently the quartermasters had been able to buy. There
  was coffee for supper, real coffee, real sugar; there were light
  biscuits and butter and roast lamb. A crystal stream purled through
  the meadows; upon the hilltops wheat, partly shocked, stood against
  the rosy sky. The evening was cool and sweet and the camp-fires for a
  long way, up and down and on either side the road, burned with a
  steady flame. The men lay upon the earth like dusty acorns shaken from
  invisible branches. At the foot of the hills the battery and wagon
  horses cropped the sweet grass. The good horses!—their ribs did not
  show as they did on the Virginia side of the Potomac. They were faring
  well in Pennsylvania. Rank and file, men and horses, guns and wagon
  train, the Second Corps, Rodes and Jubal Early and “Alleghany”
  Johnson, and “Dear Dick Ewell” at the head,—the Second Corps was in
  spirits. To-night it was as buoyant as a cork or a rubber ball. Where
  there were bands the bands played, played the sprightliest airs in
  their repertory. Harry Hays’s Creoles danced, leaping like fauns in
  the dying sunset and the firelight, in a trodden space beneath beech
  trees.

  The next morning Rodes and Johnson pursued the road to Chambersburg,
  but Early’s division took the Gettysburg and York road, having orders
  to cut the Northern Central Railroad running from Baltimore to
  Harrisburg, and to destroy the bridge across the Susquehanna at
  Wrightsville and rejoin at Carlisle. Ahead went Gordon’s Georgia
  brigade and White’s battalion of cavalry.

  The town of Gettysburg, where they made boots and shoes, lay among
  orchards and gardens at the foot of the South Mountain. It numbered
  four thousand inhabitants, a large place for those days. It lay
  between the waters that drain into the Susquehanna and the waters that
  drain into the Potomac and commanded all the country roads. On the
  outskirts of this place, a place not marked out on that day from other
  places on the map, White’s cavalry encountered a regiment of militia.
  The militia did not stand, but fled to either side the macadamized
  road, through the midsummer fields. A hundred and seventy-five were
  taken prisoner. On through Gettysburg marched Gordon and the cavalry,
  the people watching from the windows, and took the pike to York.
  Behind them came “Old Jube,” marching in light order, having sent his
  trains to Chambersburg, “excepting the ambulances, one medical wagon
  for a brigade, the regimental ordnance wagons, one wagon with
  cooking-utensils for each regiment, and fifteen empty wagons to gather
  supplies with.”

  It came on to rain. The troops bivouacked somewhat comfortlessly a
  mile or two out on the York road. Two thousand rations were found in a
  train of cars. When they had been removed the cars were set afire, and
  in addition a railroad bridge hard by. These burned with no cheer in
  the flames seen through a thick veil of chilly rain. “I don’t care if
  I never see Gettysburg again!” said the division.

  At dawn rang the bugles. The rain was over, the sun came up, breakfast
  was good, the country smiled, the division had a light heart. All this
  day they made a good march, through a pleasant country, leading to
  York. The cavalry was on ahead toward Hanover Junction, destroying
  railroad bridges. Gordon and his Georgians acted vanguard for the
  infantry. Of the main body, Brigadier-General William Smith with the
  Thirty-first, Forty-ninth, and Fifty-second Virginia headed the
  column. By reaped wheat and waving corn, by rich woods and murmuring
  streams, under blue sky and to the song of birds, through a land of
  plenty and prosperity, the grey column moved pleasantly on to York,
  and at sunset bivouacked within a mile or two of that place.

  Out to Gordon’s camp-fire came a deputation—the mayor of York and
  prominent citizens. Gordon, handsome and gallant, received them with
  his accustomed courtesy. “Their object,” he reports, “being to make a
  peaceable surrender, and ask for protection to life and property. They
  returned, I think, with a feeling of assured safety.”

  The next day was Sunday—a clear midsummer Sunday, the serene air
  filled with church bells. Gordon’s men, occupying York, found
  well-dressed throngs upon the sidewalks, in the doorways, leaning from
  the windows. Confederate soldiers had always to hope that the inner
  man could not be hidden, but shone excellently forth from the
  bizarrest ragged apparel. Sunburnt, with longish hair, gaunt yet,
  despite a fortnight with the flesh pots of this Egypt, creature of
  shred and patches and all covered with the whitish dust of a
  macadamized road—it needed some insight to read how sweet and sound,
  on the whole, was the kernel within so weather-beaten a shell. Now
  Gordon was the Southern gentleman at his best. “Confederate pride, to
  say nothing of Southern gallantry,” reports Gordon, “was subjected to
  the sorest trial by the consternation produced among the ladies of
  York.... I assured these ladies that the troops behind me, though
  ill-clad and travel-stained, were good men and brave; that beneath
  their rough exteriors were hearts as loyal to women as ever beat in
  the breasts of honourable men; that their own experience and the
  experience of their mothers, wives, and sisters at home had taught
  them how painful must be the sight of a hostile army in their town;
  that under the orders of the Confederate Commander-in-Chief both
  private property and noncombatants were safe; that the spirit of
  vengeance and rapine had no place in the bosoms of these dust-covered
  but knightly men; and I closed by pledging to York the head of any
  soldier under my command who destroyed private property, disturbed the
  repose of a single home, or insulted a woman.”

  Gordon made no tarrying in York, but moved on toward Wrightsville,
  with orders to burn the long railroad bridge crossing the Susquehanna.
  A few hours later marched in Early’s advance brigade—General
  ex-Governor William Smith on a fine horse at its head. Now this
  brigade had a very good band, as bands went in the Confederate
  service, and this band proposed to enter York playing “Dixie”! Indeed,
  they had begun the familiar strains when an aide appeared, “General
  says you ‘tooting fellows’ are temporarily to lay that air in
  lavender. When you are in Rome, play what Rome likes, or, in other
  words, Virginians, take your manners along! He says come up front and
  play ‘Yankee Doodle.’”

  York was out of doors for this brigade as it had been for Gordon’s. In
  the sunny mid-afternoon, the column swung into its main street, “Extra
  Billy” riding at the head, beaming like the sun. Hero of a hundred
  hustings, he always took his manners with him; and indeed, as they
  came from his heart, he could not do otherwise. At the head of town he
  took off his hat, kept it in his hand, and began bowing right and
  left, always with his hearty, beamy smile. Behind him rode his smiling
  staff, and behind staff came the band, horns and drums giving “Yankee
  Doodle.”

  The citizens of York upon the sidewalks—and they were
  crowded—developed a tendency to keep pace with the head of the column.
  It presently arrived that General William Smith, like a magnet, was
  carrying with him a considerable portion of the population. Before the
  procession opened the public square, bathed in a happy light. The
  band, having come to an end of “Yankee Doodle,” played “Dixie,” then
  slipped again into the first, then happily blended the two. Staff was
  laughing, regimental officers broadly smiling, the troops behind in
  the best of spirits. All poured into the sunny square, where were more
  of the inhabitants of York. “Tell ’em to halt,” ordered the
  ex-Governor, “and tell those tooting fellows to stop both tunes. These
  are nice people and I am going to give them a speech.”

  He gave it, sitting very firm on his fine horse, to an
  open-mouthed-and-eyed crowd, behind him the troops at rest, the whole
  throng, invaded and invaders, filling the square and the street. He
  spoke in his geniallest fashion, with his mellowest voice and happiest
  allusions. The warm, yellow, late June sunshine flooded the square,
  lighting the curious throng, and that worn, grey, citizen soldiery,
  making a splendour of the brass instruments of the band and wrapping
  General William Smith in a toga of airy gold. “Ladies and gentlemen
  (and York has such beautiful ladies),” spoke “Extra Billy,” “as you
  see, we are back in the Union! May we not hope that you are glad to
  see us? I assure you that we are glad to see you! I wish that we were
  dressed for visiting, but you’ll excuse us, we know! What we all need
  on both sides is to mingle more with each other, so that we shall
  learn to know and appreciate each other’s good qualities. Now—”

  From behind arose a murmur. The aides looked over their shoulders and
  beheld a pushing to the front on the part of some person or persons.
  Whatever it was, cavalry squad trying to pass, aides, or couriers,
  general officer, and staff—there was difficulty in attracting the
  attention of the grinning, absorbed troops sufficiently to let the
  party by.

  “Now,” continued General William Smith, “we aren’t at all the villains
  and cut-throats that you’ve been seeing in your dreams! Clothes don’t
  make the man, and we’re better than our outfit. When this little
  rumpus is all over and you come visiting us in the Confederacy of the
  South (and I hope that the beautiful ladies of York will come often
  and come in summer-time, for we want to have a tournament and crown
  them all Queens of Love and Beauty)—when this little border war is
  over, I say—”

  The party from the rear had now got to the front. A thin,
  stoop-shouldered man, with a long, thin beard and glittering, small
  black eyes, rose in his stirrups, leaned forward, and brought a
  vehement hand down upon “Extra Billy’s” shoulder. His voice
  followed—Jubal A. Early’s voice—a fierce sing-song treble. “General
  Smith, what the Devil are you about?—stopping the head of this column
  in this cursed town!”

  “Extra Billy’s” smile, manly and beaming and fearless, stayed with
  him. “Why, General, just having a little fun! Good for us all, sir;
  good for us all!”

  Smith’s brigade moved on, to be followed by Hoke’s and Harry Hays’s.
  Camp was pitched a mile or two out of town, “Old Jube,” however,
  resting with Avery’s command in York. “I made,” he reports,
  “requisition upon the authorities for 2000 pairs of shoes, 1000 hats,
  1000 pairs of socks, $100,000 in money, and three days’ rations of all
  kinds. Subsequently between 1200 and 1500 pairs of shoes, the hats,
  socks, and rations were furnished, but only $28,600 in money, which
  was paid to my quartermaster, the mayor and other authorities
  protesting their inability to get any more money, as it had all been
  run off previously, and I was satisfied they made an honest effort to
  raise the amount called for.”

  He continues: “A short time before night, I rode out in the direction
  of Columbia Bridge, to ascertain the result of Gordon’s expedition,
  and had not proceeded far before I saw an immense smoke rising in the
  direction of the Susquehanna, which I subsequently discovered to
  proceed from the bridge in question. This bridge was one mile and a
  quarter in length, the superstructure being of wood on stone pillars,
  and it included in one structure a railroad bridge, a pass-way for
  wagons, and also a tow-path for the canal which here crosses the
  Susquehanna. The bridge was entirely consumed, and from it the town of
  Wrightsville caught fire, and several buildings were consumed, but the
  farther progress of the flames was arrested by the exertions of
  Gordon’s men.... On the evening of the twenty-ninth, I received
  through Captain Elliott Johnston, aide to General Ewell, a copy of a
  note from General Lee which required me to move back so as to rejoin
  the rest of the corps on the western side of the South Mountain, and
  accordingly, at daylight on the morning of the thirtieth, I put my
  whole command in motion.... I encamped about three miles from
  Heidlersburg, and rode to see General Ewell at that point, and was
  informed by him that the object was to concentrate the corps at or
  near Cashtown, and I received directions to move next day at that
  point.... After passing Heidlersburg a short distance, I received a
  note from General Ewell informing me that General Hill was moving from
  Cashtown towards Gettysburg, and that General Rodes had turned off at
  Middletown and was moving toward the same place, and directing me also
  to move to that point. I therefore continued to move on the road I was
  then on toward Gettysburg....”

  From Greencastle, Rodes and Johnson, Ewell riding at the head of the
  column, had marched to Chambersburg and thence to Carlisle. They
  reached the latter place on the twenty-seventh. On this day Robert E.
  Lee, with Longstreet and A.P. Hill, the First and Third Corps,
  bivouacked near Chambersburg.

  With the grand patience which he habitually exercised, Lee waited for
  tidings from Stuart. There was room for intense impatience. His
  cavalry leader, who was to keep him informed of the least move upon
  the board of the other colour, had failed to do so. Four days in the
  enemy’s country, and no news of Stuart and no news of the blue host
  south of the Potomac! Was it still south of the Potomac? Surely so, or
  Stuart’s couriers, one after the other, would have come riding in!
  Surely so, or Stuart himself would be here, falling in on the right as
  ordered! With entire justice the grey commander loved and trusted the
  grey cavalry leader. He waited now, in the green Pennsylvania country,
  with a front of patience, but perhaps with an inner agony. Was Hooker
  yet in Virginia? Lee sat still in his small tent, his eyes level, his
  hand resting lightly on the table; then he rose, and said to the
  adjutant-general that the army would advance, next day, upon
  Harrisburg.

  But that same night, the twenty-eighth, there was a movement at the
  door of the tent. “Captain ——, from General Longstreet, sir, with the
  scout, Harrison.”

  A short, lean, swarthy man in citizen’s dress, came forward and
  saluted.

  “You are,” said Lee, “the scout General Longstreet sent into
  Washington?”

  “Yes, General. Three weeks ago from Fredericksburg.”

  “Very well. Give me your report.”

  “General Longstreet gave me money, sir, and orders to make my way into
  Washington and to stay there until I had something important to report
  and could get out. I only managed the last, sir, five days ago. Since
  then I’ve been travelling at night and what parts of the day I could
  without observation. I knew, of course, that the army had crossed or
  was crossing, and from Washington I struck out toward Frederick. There
  was talk in Washington that General Hooker would certainly be
  superseded, and last night I heard that he had resigned and General
  Meade was in command.”

  “I have been looking for that. General Hooker was a good fighter, and
  so is General Meade. But it is of the whereabouts of that army that I
  want to know.”

  “I had to hide at Frederick, sir. Three corps were already there. As I
  left I saw the dust of a fourth.”

  “_At Frederick!_”

  “Yes, sir. I understood from a farmer that they crossed at Edwards’s
  Ferry the twenty-fifth and sixth.”

  “Have you seen or heard of General Stuart?”

  “An ambulance driver told me there was a report that what he called
  the rebel cavalry had crossed the Potomac and were cutting the
  Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.”

  “And the enemy’s line of march from Frederick?”

  “Toward South Mountain, sir.”

  “That is all of consequence you have to report?”

  “Yes, sir.”

  “Very well. You have done well, Harrison. Good night!”

  The scout and the aide departed. In the tent there was a somewhat
  heavy silence. Lee drew the map upon the table closer and sat, his
  forehead upon his hand, studying it. Two candles stood beside him, and
  the white light showed the beauty of the down-bent head and face. His
  expression was very quiet, but the adjutant, watching him, ached for
  the ache that he read there, the ache of a great general who was yet
  mortal, with a mortal’s equipment; of the leader of brave men who were
  yet mortal with a quiverful of the arrows of mistake and random aim.
  The hopes of the South hung upon this campaign. All knew it; the
  adjutant-general knew it; the man bending over the map knew it....
  Hooker—no, Meade!—was across the Potomac, and advancing. By now he
  would be somewhere south of Gettysburg.... The candles burned clear;
  Lee sat, very still, his gaze level, his hand upon the map.

  Colonel Taylor ventured to speak. “The orders for Harrisburg—”

  “Yes, Colonel. We must countermand them. These people are closer than
  I thought. I wish we had our cavalry. But I make mistakes myself.” He
  rose, moving out of the clear light into the dusk of the tent. “The
  orders are that all three corps concentrate at Cashtown a little to
  the west of Gettysburg.”



                              CHAPTER XIV
                                THE CAVE


  On the thirteenth of June grey countermines were begun from all the
  main grey works. The men worked continuously upon these, and in the
  night-time they strengthened the breaches made by the daily fierce
  cannonade. With the few hundred entrenching tools, with the improvised
  spades, the bayonet picks, with earth carried in camp-buckets, with
  all ingenious makeshifts, they burrowed and heaped continuously. But
  they laboured, now, somewhat weakly. They were so tired. The heat of
  that Southern land was frightful, and the confinement in the trenches
  was frightful. The thought began to sicken at those deep troughs in
  the earth. In the scanty sleep of officers and men they pressed upon
  the brain; they grew to seem trenches in the brains, troughs filled
  with dead thoughts, thoughts that still suffered. There was no relief
  from the trenches, no relief at all, except when a wound came—a bad
  wound—or fever came—serious fever with delirium—when the wounded or
  the fevered was borne with some risk from shells and minies to the
  hospital. Even in the hospital the trenches stayed in the brain. It
  came that, in the trenches, the tired, tired soldiers looked with
  something like envy upon the wounded or the fevered as he was borne
  away. “That fellow’s going to get some sleep.”—“Stop your nodding,
  Jimmy!—nodding same as if you were in church!”—“Captain’s
  calling!”—“Go ’way! If you jerk your head back like that you’ll break
  your neck.”—“I wouldn’t care,” said Jimmy, “if it just meant sleeping
  on and on.”—“It wouldn’t. You’d be fighting again somewhere else in a
  jiffy!—O God! these trenches.”

  Officers and men were dead for sleep. Officers and men had never
  dreamed of such fatigue. Officers and men handled sword and musket
  with hands that were hard to keep ennerved and watched the foe with
  eyes over which the lids would droop. It was growing ghastly at
  Vicksburg, and the June sun beat down, beat down. In the infrequent
  times when the river was clear of smoke it lay glittering like
  diamonds and topazes, paining the weary eye. North and east and south
  the cloud rarely lifted. A thinner battle cloud overhung the
  seven-mile Confederate line. The grey could not spend powder as might
  the blue, nor did they have the blue’s great horde of guns. But what
  with the blue and what with the grey all Vicksburg and its environs
  dwelled day after day, week after week, in a battle murk. The smoke
  was always there; the smell, the taste, were always there. The
  pitiless sun was no less hot for the ashen gauze through which it
  struck. Shorn of its beams, it rose and moved through the muddy blue,
  and set like a thick red-gold buckler, from behind which came lances
  of heat and madness. With the night there came drenching dews and the
  mist from the river. Heat and cold beat on the same men, cramped
  forever in the same trenches.

  On the tenth day of the siege the eighteen thousand fighting men had
  been put on half-rations. Later these were greatly reduced. At first
  five ounces of poor corn or pea flour were issued daily; later the
  amount fell to three ounces. The mules in the place were slaughtered,
  but the meat gained in this way fed but a few. After mid-June the cats
  disappeared from the town. In the spring Vicksburg had had its fair
  vegetable gardens. Now every eatable root below or stalk or seed above
  the ground was gone. The small, unripe fruit, peach or quince or fig,
  the hard green berries, were gathered, stewed, and eaten. All things
  were eaten that could be eaten, but the men grew large-eyed, and their
  physical strength flagged. From almost the beginning the water had
  been bad. The men in the river batteries and the troops upon the right
  suffered most where all suffered much. The Federal shot and shell had
  slain, in the first days of the siege, a number of horses and mules.
  It being the first of the siege and starvation not yet above the
  horizon, these animals were dragged in the night to the river and
  thrown in. Now the cisterns were exhausted, the wells were
  insufficient. They were forced to draw by night the water from the
  edge of the river, filled with maggots as it was. They dug shallow
  wells in the hollows and dips of the land and placed sentinels over
  them to see that the water was not wasted. The water was there for
  drinking or for the slight cooking that went on; there was never any
  for washing. Some men forgot the feel of cleanliness; others set their
  lips and did without. Powder-grime and sweat; drenching rains that
  lined and floored every trench with miserable mire; fierce, beating
  suns that made the mire into a dust that stiffened the hair and choked
  the pores; effluvia, blood, refuse that could not be carted away, that
  there was not time to bury,—the trenches at Vicksburg and the slight
  camps behind grew like a bad dream, vague and sickening. Hunger that
  could not be fed dwelled in Vicksburg, weariness that could not find
  rest, insufficient sleep, dirt, thirst, wounds, disease. Fever was
  there hugely, fever and flux, exhaustion, debility, and also
  hyperexcitement; strange outbreaks of nature and strange sinkings
  together. Once there was a hint of cholera. Two surgeons stood over
  the man who had been lifted from the trench and now lay writhing on
  the earth under a roof of dried pine boughs.

  “It looks mighty suspicious,” said one in a weary voice, barely rising
  above a whisper. “That’s why I called you. It would be the last
  stroke.”

  The other nodded. “You’re right there. I’ve seen it once before, off a
  ship at Tampa, but I’m not sure that this is it. There’s a mock here
  of everything in the world that’s awful, so it may be a mock of that,
  too.”

  “I’ve heard that chloroform is good. One part chloroform, three parts
  water, two—”

  “Yes. There isn’t any chloroform.”

  The man died, but, whatever it had been, that particular disease did
  not spread. Others did. They spread apace.

  A grey mine was started from within the Third Louisiana Redan by
  sinking a vertical shaft and then digging outward a gallery under the
  Federal sap. Night and day the grey worked, and night and day worked
  the blue. The grey worked hungry, the blue worked fed. The grey worked
  heavy-lidded, with long, long shifts. The blue worked, rested and
  refreshed, with short shifts. The blue had every modern appliance for
  their work, the grey had not. The grey worked with desperation upon
  their inclined gallery; the blue drove steadily and apace toward the
  salient of the redan.

  Now and then there were assaults where the enemy thought his cannon or
  his mines had made a practicable breach. These were driven back, and
  then the great guns belched flame and thundered. The grey guns
  answered where answers were most strongly indicated; never had they
  had ammunition to spend on mere pleasure of defiance. Now here, now
  there, along the lines, leaping from place to place like lightning,
  musketry flamed and crackled. Always the blue minies kept up their
  singing, and always the many and deadly sharpshooters watched to pick
  off men and officers. The gunboats and the mortars from the Louisiana
  shore helped with a lavish hand the land guns. Day chiefly saw the
  bombardments, but there were nights when the region shook; when the
  bombs, exploding, reddened the sky; when, copper-hued, saffron-tinged,
  the clouds rolled over the place; when there was shriek and thunder,
  light and murk, glare and horror of the great city of Dis.

  Désirée could not rest within the cave or on the bench among the ivy
  sprays. Hard-by was now a field hospital, and now each morning she
  left the ruined garden, mounted a little rise of ground, descended it,
  and found herself under a shed-like structure amid ghastly sights and
  sounds of suffering. Here she ministered as best she might. Like other
  Southern women she was familiar with plantation accidents. She knelt
  and helped with capable hands, preferring to be there and occupied
  than to sit in the torn garden and hear upon the wind the sobbing and
  crying of this place. At night, lying upon her pallet, she sometimes
  stopped her ears against it. Sight horrified the brain, but hearing
  twisted the heartstrings. She never fancied that she distinguished
  Edward’s voice; if he were hurt he would not cry aloud. But she
  trembled to hear the others crying, and though she loved life she
  would have died for them if she could have thereby stopped the crying.

  Now and again she went into the town. It was a place now of thin-faced
  heroism, large-eyed endurance, seldom-speaking women, patient
  children. Hunger was in the town as well as at the lines, hunger and
  fever, hunger and fever! Mourning was there, too; not loud but deep.
  There were so many widows, so many orphans. There were sisters with a
  brother’s death upon their hearts; there were betrothed girls who now
  would never marry. All were brave, with a dumb heroism. The past told.
  Aryan emigrants, women of the dark Teutonic forest, Pictish women,
  women of a Roman strain, Angle and Dane and Celt and Saxon, Gaul and
  Iberian and Hebrew,—yes, and women of Africa,—the wide past of
  famished sieges, of back to the wall, of utter sacrifice, came again
  to the town of Vicksburg upon the Mississippi River.

  Désirée returned to Cape Jessamine. The ruined garden was ruined now,
  indeed, torn by shot and shell, sunbaked, withered, dead. Post, beam,
  and rafter of the burned house no longer stood like a hieroglyphic
  against the sky. An exploding shell had wrecked the last support and
  all had fallen. Désirée, passing close, one day, saw a snake among the
  warped timbers. The trees had lost all greenness. They, too, suffered
  deadly injury from the shells. The flowers were all withered. They
  could not bloom in that heavy and sulphurous air. The bed of
  mignonette grew yellow and thin and wan. It lost its odour. The birds
  were gone long ago. One neither heard the buzz of bees nor saw a
  butterfly. It was as though a wizard’s wand were waving away life and
  loveliness.

  Désirée kept her beauty, but it grew beauty of the inner outward,
  beauty of a myriad complexities, subtleties, intensities. Memory was
  there and forecasting, and everything heightened. She had her Leonardo
  look; she went from hour to hour, not unsmiling, but the smile was
  remote from mirth and near to thought. Her physical being was clean,
  poised, and strong. She fared as scantily as all the others, but she
  did not perceptibly weaken. Or if the body weakened, she drew deep
  upon the innermost reserve and braced nerve and muscle with her will.
  The field hospital thought her tireless.

  As she left the garden one day, a mine was sprung under the nearest
  salient and a breach made through which a blue wave at once undertook
  to pour. The grey meeting it, there followed three minutes of shock
  and roar, when the blue went back. It was an ugly breach, and while
  the grey cannon thundered it must be quickly mended. All the men
  possible fell to digging, while sand bags were brought and great
  bolsters of earth wrapped in old tenting. “Hurry!” said the captains.
  “Dig fast!”

  Désirée went nearer and nearer. A man with a spade, making some
  headway with a hillock of earth, which, as he loosened, another
  scraped into a sack, fell dead, the brain pierced by a sharpshooter’s
  bullet. The man with the sack made a “_Tchk!_” with his tongue, then
  turned to shout for another digger. His eyes fell on Désirée.

  “What are you doing here, ma’am? This ain’t no place for a woman.”

  Désirée bent and took the spade from the dead man’s grasp. “I am
  strong,” she said, “and I like to dig. Hold the sack open.”

  She worked for an hour, until the breach was fully mended. At the last
  her fellow worker and she struck the dirt from their hands, and,
  straightening themselves, looked at each other.

  “You do fine,” he said. “I reckon you must have had some digging to do
  once.”

  “Yes, I had,” she answered. “For a long time and much of it. I am
  coming again.”

  The next day there was a bombardment that shook earth and sky. When,
  in the late afternoon, it was over, the air rested thick as on the
  slopes of a volcano in action, dusk and thick and heavy with the
  sullen odour of strife. Through the false twilight, Désirée, now at
  the cave, saw looming figures, litter-bearers. She knew they would
  come in at the ruined gate, and they came. She met them by the fallen
  house. “I am not badly hurt,” said Edward’s voice. “Don’t think it!
  And how blessed to have Cape Jessamine to come to—”

  The time wore on toward late June. The month of roses, here, was a
  month of red flowers of death. Outward from the Third Louisiana Redan
  dug feverishly the grey miners driving a gallery beneath the Federal
  sap. Outward from the blue lines dug fast and far the blue sappers,
  making for the Third Louisiana Redan that crowned a narrow ridge.
  Within the redan, seeing the explosion approach, the grey built a
  second parapet some yards behind the first. On the twenty-fifth the
  explosion came. The salient was wrecked, six men who were digging a
  shaft were buried alive. Through the thick smoke and infernal din was
  pushed a blue charge, hurrahing. The grey were ready at the second
  parapet. The Sixth Missouri, held by Forney in reserve, poured into
  the injured works. “_Yaaaaih!_” they yelled; “_Yaaaaih! Yaaaaihhhh!_”
  and checked the blue with a deadly volley. Their colonel—Colonel
  Erwin—mounted the shattered parapet. He waved his sword. “Charge, men,
  charge!” A minie killed him, but his men poured over the parapet.
  There was fierce hand-to-hand fighting. Dark came, the blue holding
  ditch and slope of the outer, now ruined parapet, the grey masters of
  the inner works.

  In the middle of the night the two Confederate mines beyond the
  stockade redan were exploded, filling up the Federal sap and parallels
  and destroying their sap rollers. There was also this night a transfer
  of guns, a Dahlgren gun being added to the battery facing the enemy’s
  works on the Jackson road, and a ten-inch mortar mounted on the
  Warrenton road. Off and on, throughout this night, arose a fierce
  rattle of musketry, came an abortive blue attempt to storm the grey
  line. Half the grey men watched; the other half slept upon its arms.

  Life in the town grew tense and vibrant. Also something high and clear
  came into it and a certain _insouciance_. The caves gave parties.
  There was no room to dance and there was nothing to eat; but parties
  the slight gatherings were called. In the hospitals the wounded ceased
  to blench at the crashing shells. The surgeons and nursing women went
  lightly between the pallets, nor turned their heads because a roof was
  struck. The large-eyed children played quietly in the cave mouths, or
  gathered about some woman who told them of Cinderella and Beauty and
  the Beast. The negro mammies crooned the babies to sleep. Officers and
  men passed through the streets, exhibiting a certain wan jauntiness.
  Commissariat and quartermasters said pleasant things about the
  squirrel’s store with which they must feed an army, and the
  powder-horn and pouch of shot from which they must keep it in
  ammunition. The noncombatant citizens did their share toward keeping
  up the general spirits. Songs appeared, and there was a general and
  curious readiness to laugh. A Vicksburg newspaper faced with a
  thoughtful brow the giving-out of paper and a consequent suspension of
  issue. It did not want to suspend. It viewed a forlorn little
  wall-paper shop, and it went across and purchased the dusty stock. The
  next morning it came out with a backing of noble arabesque, of morning
  glories on trellises, of green and gold leaves and cabbage roses.

  Down at Cape Jessamine undeniably there was happiness. Edward Cary’s
  wound was not grave. It disabled, kept him lying, thin and pale, on
  the pallet which for light and air Désirée had dragged near to the
  cave entrance. But there was no fever. His superb, clean manhood told.
  The two of them kept bodily poise, and with it the mental. They were
  happy; a strange, personal happiness in the midst of menace and the
  gathering public woe. It was not selfishness; they would have laid
  aside bliss itself like a gold mantle and gone down to lazar rags and
  the cold and dark forever if they could thereby have rescued their
  world. That could not be; they were here on a raft together in the
  midst of the ocean; they could only serve themselves and each other.
  They had had few days and hours together. The lover’s passion was yet
  upon them; each to the other was plainly aureoled. He lay with the
  veil of ivy drawn back so that he might see the battle cloud. She
  tended him, she prepared their scanty food, she brought water at
  nightfall from the little spring. Sometimes she left him to go help
  awhile in the field hospital. But he was as badly hurt as many there;
  with a clear conscience she might choose to tend this wounded soldier.
  She did so choose.

  The hot days went by beneath the bowl of brass that was the sky. The
  murk came up to the cave, the steady thunder shook the ivy sprays.
  Désirée sat upon the earth beside the pallet. Sometimes they talked
  together, low-voiced; sometimes, in long silent spaces, they looked
  each on the aureoled other. He was most beautiful to her, and she to
  him. A faint splendour dwelled in the cave and over this part of the
  withered garden, a strange, transforming, golden light. They smelled
  the honeysuckle, they smelled the mignonette. They thought they heard
  the singing of the birds.

  On the twenty-sixth the mortars upon the Louisiana side began again to
  throw huge shells into the town, while the gunboats opened a rapid and
  heavy firing upon the lower batteries. This continued. On the
  twenty-eighth the grey exploded a mine before the lunette on the
  Baldwin’s Ferry road, where the Federal sap was within six yards of
  the ditch. At point after point now, the blue line held that near the
  grey. At places the respective parapets were fearfully close. There
  was fighting with hand grenades, there was tossing of fire-balls
  against the sap rollers behind which worked the blue miners.

  Night attacks grew frequent; all the weakened grey soldiers lay on
  their arms; no one, day or night, could leave the trenches. The
  wounded, the fevered, the hunger-weakened, the sleepless—Vicksburg’s
  defenders grew half wraith, half scarecrow.

  In the dead night of the twenty-ninth, after five hours of a sultry
  and sullen stillness, every blue cannon appeared to open. From the
  Louisiana shore, from the river, from the land, north, east, and
  south, came the blast.

  Désirée parted the mat of ivy and watched with Edward from the mouth
  of the cave.

  “The twenty-ninth!” he said. “It is, I think, the beginning of the
  end. I doubt if we can hold out another week.”

  She sat on the earth beside him, her head against the pillow. Lip and
  ear must be near together; at any distance the blast carried the voice
  away. “The beginning of the end.... You think General Johnston will
  not come?”

  “How can he? I saw the force that he had. It is not possible. He is
  right in refusing to play the dare-devil or to sacrifice for naught.
  He should have been listened to in the beginning.”

  “And we cannot cut our way out?”

  “Evacuate? How many could march ten miles? No. Troy’s down—Troy’s
  down!”

  “Richmond is Troy.”

  “... That is true. Then this is one of the small Asian towns.”

  Without the ivy sprays there was a red and awful light. They saw the
  world as by calcium. The stars were put out, but the flashes burnished
  the piled battle clouds. Bronze and copper and red gleamed the
  turreted fierce clouds. Below were now sharply shown, now hidden, the
  Vicksburg lines, the heaped, earthen front. Redan and redoubt and
  lunette and the long ragged rifle-pits between,—now they showed and
  now the smoke drove between.

  “It repeats and repeats,” said Edward. “Life’s a labyrinth, and the
  clue broke at the beginning.”

  “Love is the clue.”

  “Love like ours? There must be many kinds of love.”

  “Yes. But love in all its degrees. From love of thought to love of the
  snake that I saw again to-day. Love in all its degrees casting out
  hate in all its degrees. Love that lives and lets live. Love that is
  wise.”

  “Is it always wise?”

  “It can be made so. All other clues will break like packthread.”

  The light grew intenser. Houses in the town had been set afire. Air
  and earth shook, all the heavy, buried strings vibrated. Sound rolled
  against the ear like combers of a sea, deep, terrific, with a ground
  swell, with sudden, wild accesses as when world navies are wrecked.
  The smell of powder smoke gathered, familiar, familiar, familiar!
  Marching feet were heard, going down to the lines—the City Guard
  probably, called to come and help.

  “Packthread,” said Edward. “All this to break like packthread and go
  out like flaming tow.... Love and Thought the sole weavers of
  relations. Love and Thought the related and the relation....”

  The rapid and heavy cannonading stopped with the amber dawn. The
  Federal sappers were again under the Third Louisiana Redan. They
  worked behind a timber-and-wire screen against which in vain the grey
  threw hand grenades and fire balls. Lockett, the chief engineer, had a
  barrel, filled with a hundred and twenty-five pounds of powder and
  carrying a time fuse of fifteen seconds, rolled over the parapet
  toward the blue shelter. The explosion sent the timber screen in a
  thousand fragments into the air; behind it there came a shouting and
  running. All this day there was heavy firing from the river.

  The morning of July first all division commanders received from
  General Pemberton a confidential note. It stated succinctly that
  apparently the siege of Vicksburg could not be raised and that
  supplies were exhausted. There remained an attempt at evacuation. The
  note asked for reports as to the condition of the troops and their
  ability to make the marches and endure the fatigues necessary to a
  successful issue. The major-generals put the note before the
  brigadiers, and the brigadiers before the colonels. There was but one
  answer. The _morale_ of the men was good—yes! and again yes! But for
  the rest, for their physical condition, so hungry, so tired, so
  staggering from weakness....

  This was in the morning. At one in the afternoon of this first of July
  the enemy exploded their great mine under the Third Louisiana Redan.
  The fuse was lit, the fuse burned, the spark reached fifteen hundred
  pounds of powder. There was an awful, a rending explosion. Earth,
  defences, guns, men and men and men were blown high into the air. The
  Sixth Missouri suffered here. There was made a crater twenty feet deep
  and fifty across. The Third Louisiana Redan was no more.

  All day the second, a part of the day the third, the blue land
  batteries, the blue gunboats, the blue mortars bombarded Vicksburg. On
  the Fourth of July the place surrendered.



                               CHAPTER XV
                               GETTYSBURG


  The sun of the first day of July rose serene into an azure sky where a
  few white clouds were floating. The light summer mist was dissipated;
  a morning wind, freshly sweet, rippled the corn and murmured in the
  green and lusty trees. The sunshine gilded Little Round Top and Big
  Round Top, gilded Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill, gilded Oak Hill and
  Seminary Ridge. It flashed from the cupola of the Pennsylvania
  College. McPherson’s Woods caught it on its topmost branches, and the
  trees of Peach Orchard. It trembled between the leaves, and flecked
  with golden petals Menchey’s Spring and Spangler’s Spring. It lay in
  sleepy lengths on the Emmitsburg road. It struck the boulders of the
  Devil’s Den; it made indescribably light and fine the shocked wheat in
  a wheat-field that drove into the green like a triangular golden
  wedge. Full in the centre of the rich landscape it made a shining
  mark, a golden bull’s-eye, of the small town of Gettysburg.

  It should have been all peace, that rich Pennsylvania landscape—a
  Dutch peace—a Quaker peace. Market wains and country folk should have
  moved upon the roads, and a boy, squirrel-hunting, should have been
  the most murderous thing in the Devil’s Den. Corn-blades should have
  glistened, not bayonets; for the fluttering flags the farmers’ wives
  should have been bleaching linen on the grass; for marching feet there
  should have risen the sound of the scythe in the wheat; for the groan
  of gun wheels upon the roads the robin’s song and the bobwhite’s call.

  The sun mounted. He was well above the tree-tops when the first shot
  was fired—Heth’s brigade of A.P. Hill’s corps encountering Buford’s
  cavalry.

  The sun went down the first day red behind the hills. He visited the
  islands of the Pacific, Nippon, and the Kingdom of Flowers, and India
  and Iran. He crowned Caucasus with gold, and showered largess over
  Europe. He reddened the waves of the Atlantic. He touched with his
  spear lighthouses and coast towns and the inland green land. He came
  up over torn orchard and trampled wheatfield; he came up over the
  Round Tops and Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill. But no one, this second
  day, stopped to watch his rising. The battle smoke hid him from the
  living upon the slopes and in all the fields.

  The sun travelled from east to west, but no man on the shield of which
  Gettysburg was the centre saw him go down that second day. A thick
  smoke, like the wings of countless ravens, kept out the parting
  gleams. He went his way over the plains of the West and the Pacific
  and the Asian lands. He came over Europe and the Atlantic and made, on
  the third morning, bright pearl of the lighthouses, the surf, and the
  shore. The ripe July country welcomed him. But around Gettysburg his
  rising was not seen. The smoke had not dispersed. He rode on high, but
  all that third day he was seen far away and dim as through crêpe. All
  day he shone serene on other lands, but above this region he hung
  small and dim and remote like a tarnished, antique shield. Sometimes
  the drift of ravens’ wings hid him quite. But an incense mounted to
  him, a dark smell and a dark vapour.

  The birds were gone from the trees, the cattle from the fields, the
  children from the lanes and the brookside. All left on the first day.
  There was a hollow between Round Top and Devil’s Den, and into this
  the anxious farmers had driven and penned a herd of cattle. On the
  sunny, calm afternoon when they had done this, they could not conceive
  that any battle would affect this hollow. Here the oxen, the cows,
  would be safe from chance bullet and from forager. But the farmers did
  not guess the might of that battle.

  The stream of shells was directed against Round Top, but a number,
  black and heavy, rained into the hollow. A great, milk-white ox was
  the first wounded. He lay with his side ripped open, a ghastly sight.
  Then a cow with calf was mangled, then a young steer had both fore
  legs broken. Bellowing, the maddened herd rushed here and there,
  attacking the rough sides of the hollow. Death and panic were upon the
  slopes as well as at the bottom of the basin. A bursting shell killed
  and wounded a dozen at once. The air grew thick and black, and filled
  with the cry of the cattle.

  A courier, returning to his general after delivering an order, had his
  horse shot beneath him. Disentangling himself, he went on, on foot,
  through a wood. He was intolerably thirsty—and lo, a spring! It was
  small and round and clear like a mirror, and as he knelt he saw his
  own face and thought, “She wouldn’t know me.” The minies were so
  continuously singing that he had ceased to heed them. He drank, then
  saw that he was reddening the water. He did not know when he had been
  wounded, but now, as he tried to rise, he grew so faint and cold that
  he knew that Death had met him.... There was moss and fern and a
  nodding white flower. It wasn’t a bad place in which to die. In a
  pocket within his grey jacket he had a daguerreotype—a young and
  smiling face and form. His fingers were so nerveless now that it was
  hard to get the little velvet case out, and when it was out it proved
  to be shattered, it and the picture within. The smiling face and form
  were all marred, unrecognizable. So small a thing, perhaps!—but it
  made the bitterness of this soldier’s death. The splintered case in
  his hands, he died as goes to sleep a child who has been unjustly
  punished. His body sank deep among the fern, his chest heaved, he
  shook his head faintly, and then it dropped upon the moss, between the
  stems of the nodding white flower.

  A long Confederate line left a hillside and crossed an open space of
  corn-field and orchard. Double-quick it moved, under its banners,
  under the shells shrieking above. The guns changed range, and an iron
  flail struck the line. It wavered, wavered. A Federal line leaped a
  stone wall, and swept forward, under its banners, hurrahing. Midway of
  the wide open there was stretched beneath the murky sky a narrow
  web—woof of grey, warp of blue. The strip held while the heart beat a
  minute or more, then it parted. The blue edge went backward over the
  plain; the grey edge, after a moment, rushed after. “_Yaaaiihhh!
  Yaaaiiihhhh!_” it shouted,—and its red war-flag glowed like fire. The
  grey commander-in-chief watched from a hillside, a steady light in his
  eyes. Over against him on another hill, Meade, the blue general,
  likewise watched. To the south, across the distant Potomac, lay the
  vast, beleaguered, Southern fortress. Its gate had opened; out had
  poured a vast sally party, a third of its bravest and best, and at the
  head the leader most trusted, most idolized. Out had rushed the Army
  of Northern Virginia. It had crossed the moat of the Potomac; it was
  here, on the beleaguer’s ground.

  Earth and heaven were shaking with the clangour of two shields. The
  sky was whirring and dim, but there might be imagined, suspended
  there, a huge balance—here the besiegers, here the fortress’s best and
  bravest. Which would this day, or these days, tip the beam? Much hung
  upon that—all might be said to hang upon that. The waves on the plain
  rolled forward, rolled back, rolled forward. When the sun went down
  the first day the fortress’s battle-flag was in the ascendant.

  A great red barn was the headquarters of “Dear Dick Ewell.” He rode
  with Gordon and others at a gallop down a smoky road between stone
  fences. “Wish Old Jackson was here!” he said. “Wish Marse Robert had
  Old Jackson! This is the watershed, General Gordon—yes, sir! this is
  the watershed of the war! If it doesn’t still go right to-day—It seems
  to me that wall there’s got a suspicious look—”

  The wall in question promptly justified the suspicion. There came from
  behind it a volley that emptied grey saddles.

  Gordon heard the thud of the minie as it struck “Old Dick.” “Are you
  hurt, sir? Are you hurt?”

  “No, no, General! I’m not hurt. But if that ball had struck you, sir,
  we’d have had the trouble of carrying you off the field. I’m a whole
  lot better fixed than you for a fight! It don’t hurt a mite to be shot
  in a wooden leg.”

  Three grey soldiers lay behind a shock of wheat. They were young men,
  old schoolmates. This wheat-shock marked the farthest point attained
  in a desperate charge made by their regiment against a larger force.
  It was one of those charges in which everybody sees that if a miracle
  happens it will be all right, and that if it doesn’t happen—It was one
  of those charges in which first an officer stands out, waving his
  sword, then a man or two follow him, then three or four more, then all
  waver back, only to start forth again, then others join, then the
  officer cries aloud, then, with a roar, the line springs forward and
  rushes over the field, in the cannon’s mouth. Such had been the
  procedure in this charge. The miracle had not happened. After a period
  of mere din as of ocean waves the three found themselves behind this
  heap of tarnished gold. When, gasping, they looked round, all their
  fellows had gone back; they saw them a distant torn line, still
  holding the flag. Then a rack of smoke came between, hiding flag and
  all. The three seemed alone in the world. The wheat-ears made a low
  inner sound like reeds in quiet marshes. The smoke lifted just enough
  to let a muddy sunlight touch an acre of the dead.

  “We’ve got,” said one of the young men, “to get out of here. They’ll
  be countercharging in a minute.”

  “O God! let them charge.”

  “Harry, are you afraid—”

  “Yes; I’m afraid—sick and afraid. O God, O God!”

  The oldest of the three, moving his head very cautiously, looked round
  the wheat-shock. “The Army of the Potomac’s coming.” He rose to his
  knees, facing the other way. “It’s two hundred yards to the regiment.
  Well, we always won the races at the old Academy. I’ll start, Tom, and
  then you follow, and then you, Harry, you come straight along!”

  He rose to his feet, took the posture of a runner, drew a deep breath
  and started. Two yards from the shock a cannon ball sheared the head
  from the body. The body fell, jutting blood. The head bounded back
  within the shadow of the wheat-shock. Tom was already standing, bent
  like a bow. A curious sound came from his lips, he glanced aside, then
  ran. He ran as swiftly as an Indian, swiftly and well. The minie did
  not find him until he was halfway across the field. Then it did, and
  he threw up his arms and fell. Harry, on his hands and knees, turned
  from side to side an old, old face, bloodless and twisted. He heard
  the Army of the Potomac coming, and in front lay the corpses. He tried
  to get to his feet, but his joints were water, and there was a crowd
  of black atoms before his eyes. A sickness, a clamminess, a
  despair—and all in eternities.... Then the sound swelled, and it drove
  him as the cry of the hounds drives the hare. He ran, panting, but the
  charge now swallowed up the wheat-shock and came thundering on. In
  front was only the dead, piled at the foot of the wall of smoke. He
  still clutched his gun, and now with a shrill cry, he stopped, turned,
  and stood at bay. He had hurt a hunter in the leg, before the blue
  muskets clubbed him down.

  A regiment, after advancing a skirmish line, moved over broken and
  boulder-strewn ground to occupy a yet defended position. In front
  moved the colonel, half turned toward his men, encouraging them in a
  rich and hearty voice. “Come on, men! Come on! Come on! You are all
  good harvesters, and the grain is ripe, the grain is ripe! Come on,
  every mother’s son of you! Run, now! just as though there were home
  and children up there! Come on! Come on!”

  The regiment reached a line of flat boulders. There was a large, flat
  one like an altar slab, that the colonel must spring upon and cross.
  Upon it, outstretched, face upward, in a pool of blood, lay a young
  figure, a lieutenant of skirmishers, killed a quarter of an hour ago.
  “Come on! Come on!” shouted the colonel, his face turned to his men.
  “Victory! To-night we’ll write home about the victory!”

  His foot felt for the top edge of the boulder. He sprang upon it, and
  faced with suddenness the young dead. The oncoming line saw him stand
  as if frozen, then with a stiff jerk up went the sword again. “Come
  on! Come on!” he cried, and plunging from the boulder continued to
  mount the desired slope. His men, close behind him, also encountered
  the dead on the altar slab. “Good God! It’s Lieutenant —— It’s his
  son!” But in front the colonel’s changed voice continued its crying,
  “Come on! Come on! Come on!”

  A stone wall, held by the grey, leaped fire, rattled and smoked. It
  did this at short intervals for a long while, a brigade of the enemy
  choosing to charge at like intervals. The grey’s question was a
  question of ammunition. So long as the ammunition held out, so would
  they and the wall. They sent out foragers for cartridges. Four men,
  having secured a quantity from an impatiently sympathetic reserve,
  heaped them in a blanket, made a large bundle, and slung it midway of
  a musket. One man took the butt, another the muzzle, and as they had
  to reckon with sharpshooters going back, the remaining two marched in
  front. All double-quicked where the exposure was not extreme, and ran
  where it was. The echoing goal grew larger—as did also a clump of elms
  at right angles with the wall. Vanguard cocked its eye. “Buzzards in
  those trees, boys—blue buzzards!”

  Vanguard pitched forward as he spoke. The three ran on. Ten yards, and
  the man who had been second and was now first, was picked off. The two
  ran on, the cartridges between them. “We’re goners!” said the one, and
  the other nodded as he ran.

  There was a grey battery somewhere in the smoke, and now by chance or
  intention it flung into the air a shell that shrieked its way straight
  to the clump of elms, and exploded in the round of leaf and branch.
  The sharpshooters were stilled. “Moses and the prophets!” said the
  runners. “That’s a last year’s bird’s nest!”

  Altogether the foragers brought in ammunition enough to serve the grey
  wall’s immediate purpose. It cracked and flamed for another while, and
  then the blue brigade ceased its charges and went elsewhere. It went
  thinned—oh, thinned!—in numbers. The grey waited a little for the
  smoke to lift, and then it mounted the wall. “And the ground before
  us,” says a survivor, “was the most heavenly blue!”

  A battalion of artillery, thundering across a corner of the field,
  went into position upon a little hilltop. Facing it was Cemetery Hill
  and a tall and wide-arched gateway. This gateway, now clearly seen,
  now withdrawn behind a world of grey smoke, now showing a half arch,
  an angle, a span of the crest, exercised a fascination. The gunners,
  waiting for the word, watched it. “Gate of Death, don’t it look?—Gate
  of Death.”—“Wonder what’s beyond?”—“Yankees.”—“But they ain’t
  dead—they’re alive and kicking!”—“Now it’s hidden—Gate of
  Death.”—“This battle’s going to lay over Sharpsburg. Over Gaines’s
  Mill—over Malvern Hill—over Fredericksburg—over Second Manassas—over—”
  “The Gate’s hidden—there’s a battery over there going to open—” “One?
  there’s two, there’s three—” “_Cannoneers, to your pieces!_”

  A shell dug into the earth and exploded. There was a heavy rain of
  dark earth. It pattered against all the pieces. It showered men and
  horses, and for a minute made a thick twilight of the air. “Whew! the
  Earth’s taking a hand! Anybody hurt?”—“_Howitzer, load!_”

  “Gate of Death’s clear.”

  An artillery lieutenant,—Robert Stiles,—acting as volunteer aide to
  Gordon, was to make his way across the battle-field with information
  for Edward Johnson. The ground was strewn with the dead, the air was a
  shrieking torrent of shot and shell. The aide and his horse thought
  only of the thing in hand—getting across that field, getting across
  with the order. The aide bent to the horse’s neck; the horse laid
  himself to the ground and raced like a wild horse before a prairie
  fire. The aide thought of nothing; he was going to get the order
  there; for the rest his mind seemed as useless as a mirror with a
  curtain before it. Afterwards, however, when he had time to look he
  found in the mirror pictures enough. Among them was a picture of a
  battalion—Latimer’s battalion. “Never, before or after, did I see
  fifteen or twenty guns in such a condition of wreck and destruction as
  this battalion was! It had been hurled backward, as it were by the
  very weight and impact of metal, from the position it had occupied on
  the crest of a little ridge, into a saucer-shaped depression behind
  it; and such a scene as it presented!—guns dismounted and disabled,
  carriages splintered and crushed, ammunition chests exploded, limbers
  upset, wounded horses plunging and kicking, dashing out the brains of
  men tangled in the harness; while cannoneers with pistols were
  crawling round through the wreck shooting the struggling horses to
  save the lives of the wounded men.”

  Hood and his Texans and Law’s Alabamians were trying to take Little
  Round Top. They drove out the line of sharpshooters behind the stone
  wall girdling the height. Back went the blue, up the steeps, up to
  their second line, behind a long ledge of rock. Up and after went the
  grey. The tall boulders split the advance like the teeth of a comb; no
  alignment could be kept. The rocks formed defiles where only two or
  three could go abreast. The way was steep and horrible, and from above
  rained the bullets. Up went the grey, reinforced now by troops from
  McLaws’s division; up they went and took the second line. Back and up
  went the blue to the bald and rocky crest, to their third line, a
  stronghold, indeed, and strongly held. Up and on came the grey, but it
  was as though the sky were raining lead. The grey fell like leaves in
  November when the winds howl around Round Top. Oh, the boulders! The
  blood on the boulders, making them slippery! Oh, the torn limbs of
  trees, falling so fast! The eyes smarted in the smoke; the voice
  choked in the throat. All men were hoarse with shouting.

  Darkness and light went in flashes, but the battle odour stayed,
  and the unutterable volume of sound. All the dogs of war were
  baying. The muscles strained, the foot mounted. Forward and up
  went the battle-flag, red ground and blue cross. Now the boulders
  were foes, and now they were shields. Men knelt behind them and
  fired upward. Officers laid aside their swords, took the muskets
  from the dead, knelt and fired. But the crest of Round Top darted
  lightnings—lightnings and bolts of leaden death. Death rained from
  Round Top, and the drops beat down the grey. Hood was badly hurt
  in the arm. Pender fell mortally wounded. Anderson was wounded.
  Semmes fell mortally wounded. Barksdale received here his
  death-wound. Amid the howl of the storm, in the leaden air, in
  scorching, in blood and pain and tumult and shouting, the small,
  unheeded disk of the sun touched the western rim of the earth.

  A wounded man lay all night in Devil’s Den. There were other wounded
  there, but the great boulders hid them from one another. This man lay
  in a rocky angle, upon the overhanging lip of the place. Below him,
  smoke clung like a cerement to the far-flung earth. For a time smoke
  was about him, thick in his nostrils. For a time it hid the sky. But
  now all firing was stayed, the night was wheeling on, and the smoke
  lifted. Below, vague in the night-time, were seen flickering
  lights—torches, he knew, ambulances, litter-bearers, lifting, serving
  one in a hundred. They were far away, scattered over the stricken
  field. They would not come up here to Devil’s Den. He knew they would
  not come, and he watched them as the shipwrecked watch the sail upon
  the horizon that has not seen their signal, and that will not see it.
  He, shipwrecked here, had waved no cloth, but, idle as it was, he had
  tried to shout. His voice had fallen like a broken-winged bird. Now he
  lay, in a pool of his own blood, not greatly in pain, but dying.
  Presently he grew light-headed, though not so much so but that he knew
  that he was light-headed, and could from time to time reason with his
  condition. He was a reading man, and something of a thinker, and now
  his mind in its wanderings struck into all manner of by-paths.

  For a time he thought that the field below was the field of Waterloo.
  He remembered seeing, while it was yet light, a farmhouse, a distant
  cluster of buildings with a frightened air. “La Belle Alliance,” he
  thought, “or Hougomont—which?—These Belgians planted a lot of wheat,
  and now there are red poppies all through it.—Where is Ney and his
  cavalry?—No, Stuart and his cavalry—” His mind righted for a moment.
  “This is a long battle, and a long night. Come, Death! Come, Death!”
  The shadowy line of boulders became a line of Deaths, tall, draped
  figures bearing scythes. Three Deaths, then a giant hour-glass, then
  three Deaths, then the hour-glass. He stared, fascinated. “Which
  scythe? The one that starts out of line—now if I can keep them still
  in line—just so long will I live!” He stared for a while, till the
  Deaths became boulders again and his fingers fell to playing with the
  thickening blood on the ground beside him. A meteor pierced the
  night—a white fire-ball thrown from the ramparts of the sky. He seemed
  to be rushing with it, rushing, rushing, rushing,—a rushing river.
  There was a heavy sound. As his head sank back he saw again the line
  of Deaths, and the one that left the line.

  Below, through the night, the wind that blew over the wheat-fields and
  the meadows, the orchards and the woods, was a moaning wind. It was a
  wind with a human voice.

  Dawn came, but the guns smeared her translucence with black. The sun
  rose, but the ravens’ wings hid him. Dull red and sickly copper was
  this day, hidden and smothered by dark wreaths. Many things happened
  in it, variation and change that cast a tendril toward the future.

  Day drove on; sultry and loud and smoky. A squad of soldiers in a
  fence corner, waiting for the order forward, exchanged opinions.
  “Three days. We’re going to fight forever—and ever—and ever.”—“You may
  be. I ain’t. I’m going to fight through to where there’s peace—”
  “‘Peace!’ How do you spell it?”—“‘They cry Peace! Peace! and there is
  no Peace!’”—“D’ye reckon if one of us took a bucket and went over to
  that spring there, he’d be shot?”—“Of course he would! Besides,
  where’s the bucket?”—“I’ve got a canteen.”—“I’ve got a cup—” “Say,
  Sergeant, can we go?”—“No. You’ll be killed.”—“I’d just as soon be
  killed as to perish of thirst! Besides, a shell’ll come plumping down
  directly and kill us anyhow.”—“Talk of something pleasant.”—“Jim’s
  caught a grasshopper! Poor little hoppergrass, you oughtn’t to be out
  here in this wide and wicked world! Let him go, Jim.”—“How many killed
  and wounded do you reckon there are?”—“Thirty thousand of us, and
  sixty thousand of them.”—“I wish that smoke would lift so’s we could
  see something!“—”_Look out! Look out! Get out of this!_”

  Two men crawled away from the crater made by the shell. A heavy
  tussock of grass in their path stopped them. One rose to his knees,
  the other, who was wounded, took the posture of the dying Gaul in the
  Capitoline. “Who are you?” said the one.—“I am Jim Dudley. Who are
  you?”—“I—I didn’t know you, Jim. I’m Randolph.—Well, we’re all that’s
  left.”

  The dead horses lay upon this field one and two and three days in the
  furnace heat. They were fearful to see and there came from them a
  fetid odour. But the scream of the wounded horses was worse than the
  sight of the dead. There were many wounded horses. They lay in wood
  and field, in country lane and orchard. No man tended them, and they
  knew not what it was all about. To and fro and from side to side of
  the vast, cloud-wreathed Mars’s Shield galloped the riderless horses.

  At one of the clock all the guns, blue and grey, opened in a cannonade
  that shook the leaves of distant trees. A smoke as of Vesuvius or
  Ætna, sulphurous, pungent, clothed the region of battle. The air
  reverberated and the hills trembled. The roar was like the roar of the
  greatest cataract of a larger world, like the voice of a storm sent by
  the King of all the Genii. Amid its deep utterance the shout even of
  many men could not be heard.

  Out from the ranks of the fortress’s defenders rushed a grey,
  world-famous charge. It was a division charging—three brigades _en
  échelon_,—five thousand men, led by a man with long auburn locks. Down
  a hill, across a rolling open, up an opposite slope,—half a mile in
  all, perhaps,—lay their road. Mars and Bellona may be figured in the
  air above it. It was a spectacle, that charge, fit to draw the fierce
  eyes and warm the gloomy souls of all the warrior deities. Woden may
  have watched and the Aztec god. The blue artillery crowned that
  opposite slope, and other slopes. The blue artillery swung every
  muzzle; it spat death upon the five thousand. The five thousand went
  steadily, grey and cool and clear, the vivid flag above them. A light
  was on their bayonets—the three lines of bayonets—the three brigades,
  Garnett and Kemper and Armistead. A light was in the eyes of the men;
  they saw the fortress above the battle clouds; they saw their homes,
  and the watchers upon the ramparts. They went steadily, to the eyes of
  history in a curious, unearthly light, the light of a turn in human
  affairs, the light of catastrophe, the light of an ending and a
  beginning.

  When they came into the open between the two heights, the massed blue
  infantry turned every rifle against them. There poured a leaden rain
  of death. Here, too, the three lines met an enfilading fire from the
  batteries on Round Top. Death howled and threw himself against the
  five thousand; in the air above might be heard the Valkyries calling.
  There were not now five thousand, there were not now four thousand.
  There was a clump of trees seen like spectres through the smoke. It
  rose from the slope which was the grey goal, from the slope peopled by
  Federal batteries, with a great Federal infantry support at hand.
  Toward this slope, up this slope, went Pickett’s charge.

  Garnett fell dead. Kemper and Trimble were desperately wounded. Save
  Pickett himself, all mounted officers were down. The men fell—the men
  fell; Death swung a fearful scythe. There were not now four thousand,
  there were not now three thousand. And still the vivid flag went on;
  and still, high, thrilling, clear and dauntless, rose from Pickett’s
  charge the “rebel yell.”

  There was a stone wall to cross. Armistead, his hat upon the point of
  his waved sword, leaped upon the coping. A bullet pierced his breast;
  he fell, was captured, and the next day died. By now, by now the
  charge was whittled thin! Oh, thick as the leaves of Vallombrosa, the
  fortress’s dearest and best lay upon that slope beneath the ravens’
  wings! On went the thin, fierce ranks, on and over the wall, on and
  up, into the midst of the enemy’s guns. The two flags strained toward
  each other; the hands of the grey were upon the guns of the blue;
  there came a wild mêlée.... There were not two thousand now, and the
  guns were yet roaring, and the blue infantry gathered from all
  sides....

  “The smoke,” says one Luther Hopkins, a grey soldier who was at
  Gettysburg, “the smoke rose higher and higher and spread wider and
  wider, hiding the sun, and then, gently dropping back, hid from human
  eyes the dreadful tragedy. But the battle went on and on, and the roar
  of the guns continued. After a while, when the sun was sinking to
  rest, there was a hush. The noise died away. The winds came creeping
  back from the west, and gently lifting the coverlet of smoke, revealed
  a strange sight. The fields were all carpeted, a beautiful carpet, a
  costly carpet, more costly than Axminster or velvet. The figures were
  horses and men all matted and woven together with skeins of scarlet
  thread.”



                              CHAPTER XVI
                               BACK HOME


  If he who ruleth his spirit is greater than he that taketh a city,
  Robert E. Lee was a general doubly great. The gallantry of the three
  days’ fighting at Gettysburg he left like a golden light, like a
  laurel wreath, with his men. The responsibility for Gettysburg, its
  strategy and its tactics, he laid with quietness upon his own
  shoulders and kept it there. In the last hour of the third day, after
  the last great charge, after Pickett’s charge, when the remnant that
  was left was streaming back, he rode into the midst of that thin grey
  current. He sat Traveller, in the red light, in the murk and sorrow of
  the lost battle, and called upon the men to re-form. Pickett came by,
  his sword out, his long auburn hair dank with sweat. “Get your men
  together, General,” said Lee. “They did nobly. It is all my fault.”

  If the boyishness in Jeb Stuart, his dear love of dancing meteors, had
  swept him in the past weeks too far from his proper base, he was now
  fully and to the end by his general’s side. He kept his gaiety, his
  _panache_, but he put on the full man. He was the Stuart of
  Chancellorsville, throwing a steady dart, swinging a great shield.
  Longstreet, the “old war horse”; A.P. Hill, red-shirted, a noble
  fighter; “Dear Dick Ewell”—each rose, elastic, from the disastrous
  field and played the man. That slow retreat from Gettysburg to the
  Potomac, through a hostile country, with a victorious, larger army
  hovering, willing to strike if only it could find the unguarded place,
  was masterly planned, masterly done. The Army of Northern Virginia
  retired grudgingly, with backward turnings, foot planted and spear
  brandished. It had with it pain and agony, for it carried its wounded;
  it had with it appalling knowledge that Vicksburg was fallen, that the
  battle behind them, hard-fought for three days, was lost, that the
  campaign was lost, that across the river the South was mourning,
  mourning, that at last all were at the death-grapple. It knew it all,
  but it went steadily, with lips that could yet manage a smile. For all
  its freight of wounded, for all the mourning of its banners, it went
  ably; a long, masterly retreat, with effective stands and
  threatenings. But how the wounded suffered, only the wounded knew.

  The rain came down as it usually did after the prolonged cannonadings
  of these great battles. It came down in sullen torrents, unfriendly,
  cold, deepening the deep reaction after the fever of the fight. It
  fell in showers from a sky leaden all the day, inky all the night. At
  twilight on the fourth, A.P. Hill and the Third Corps swung in silence
  out upon the Fountain Dale and Monterey road. They marched away in the
  rain and darkness. All night Longstreet and the First stayed in
  position at the Peach Orchard. But the foe did not attack, and at dawn
  Longstreet and the First followed A.P. Hill. When the dawn broke, grey
  and wet, Ewell and the Second Corps alone were there by Seminary
  Ridge. Again the blue—they also gathering their wounded, they also
  mourning their dead—made no movement to attack. Ewell and the Second
  followed the First.

  The rain came down, the rain came down—rain and wind and low-hanging
  clouds. Forty thousand men marched in a silence which, now and then,
  it was felt, must be broken. Men broke it, with song that had somehow
  a sob in it, with laughter more strained than jovial. Then came down
  the silence again, leaden with the leaden rain. But march in silence,
  or march in mirth, the Army of Northern Virginia marched with its
  _morale_ unbroken. _Tramp, tramp!_ through the shifting sheets of
  rain, through the wind that bent the tree-tops.... With Hood’s
  division marched four thousand and more of Federal prisoners. With
  these, too, the silence was heavy.

  But there was not silence when it came to the fearful train of the
  wounded. Fifteen miles, along the Chambersburg Pike, stretched the
  train of the wounded and of ordnance and supply wagons, with its
  escort of cavalry and a score of guns. The convoy was in the charge of
  Imboden, and he was doing the best he could with those long leagues of
  hideous woe. The road was rough; the night dark, with wind and rain.
  “Woe!” cried the wind. “Woe, woe! Pain and woe!”

  Ambulances, carts, wagons, crowded with the wounded, went joltingly,
  under orders to use all speed. Cavalry rode before, cavalry guarded
  the rear, but few were the actual guards in among or alongside the
  wagons. Vanguard and rear guard needed every unhurt man. For miles
  there were, in sum, only the wounded, the jaded wagon horses, the
  wagon drivers with drawn faces. Orders were for no pausing, no halts.
  If a wagon became disabled, draw it out of the road and leave it!
  There must be rapid travelling through the night. Even so, if the blue
  were alert, the blue might strike the train before day. Rapid motion
  and no halting—“On!” beneath the blackness, in the teeth of wind and
  rain. “Woe!” cried the wind. “Woe, woe! Pain and woe!”

  The wagons were springless. In many there was no straw. Numbers of the
  wounded lay upon bare boards, placed there, in some cases, hours even
  before the convoy could start. Many had had no food for long hours, no
  water. Their rough clothing, stiff with dried blood, abraded and
  inflamed their wounds. The surgeons had done what bandaging was
  possible, but many a ghastly hurt went unbound, unlooked to. With
  others the bandages slipped, or were torn aside by pain-maddened
  hands. There was blood upon the bed of all the wagons, blood and human
  refuse. Upon the boards lay men with their eyes gone, with their jaws
  shot through and crushed, with their arms, their legs mangled, with
  their thighs pierced, their bowels pierced, with tormenting stomach
  wounds, with a foot gone, a hand gone. There were men with fever and a
  horrible thirst, and men who shook in a death chill. There were men
  who were dead. And on them all poured the rain, for the canvas wagon
  covers, flapping in the wind, could not keep it out. And the road, cut
  by countless wheels and now washed into ridge and hollow, would have
  been rough for well folk, in cushioned vehicles. “On! On! No halting
  for any one!—Good God, man! Don’t I know they are suffering? Don’t I
  _hear_ them? Do you reckon I _like_ to hear them? But if I’m going to
  save General Lee’s trains I’ve _got_ to get on! _Get on, there!_”
  “Woe!” cried the wind. “Woe, woe! pain and woe.”

  “Oh, Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me!”

  “Just let me die, O God! just let me die!”

  “If there’s anybody at all outside, won’t they stop this wagon? If
  there’s anybody driving, won’t you stop this wagon? Please! You don’t
  know how it hurts—Please!... Ah!—_Aaahh!—Aaahhh!_”

  “Curse you!—Curse war!—Curse living and dying! Curse God!
  Ah!—_Ahhh!—Aaahhh!_”

  “For God’s sake! just lift us out and let us die lying still, on the
  roadside.... O God! O God!”

  “O God! O God!”

  “I am dying! I am dying!... Mary, Mary, Mary! Lift me up!”

  “We are dying! We are dying!”

  “O Jesus of Nazareth—”

  “During this one night,” says Imboden, “I realized more of the horrors
  of war than I had in all the two preceding years.”

  The Second Corps, marching by the Fairfield road, marched in rain and
  wind and weariness. Ewell, wooden-legged now, irascible, heroic,
  sighing for “Old Jackson,” handling his corps as “Old Jackson” would
  have approved, rode in front. Jubal Early, strange compound but
  admirable fighter,—Jubal Early guarded the rear with the brigades of
  Hoke and Smith and Gordon and Harry Hays. Between were Rodes’s
  division—Iverson and Daniels, Dole, Ramseur and O’Neal—and “Alleghany”
  Johnson’s division—Steuart and Jones and Nicholls and the Stonewall
  Brigade. With each division heavily moved upon the road its
  artillery—Charlottesville Artillery, Staunton Artillery, Louisiana
  Guard Artillery, Courtney Artillery, King William Artillery, Orange
  Artillery, Morris Artillery, Jeff Davis Artillery, Chesapeake
  Artillery, Alleghany Artillery, First Maryland Battery, Lee Battery,
  Powhatan Artillery, Salem Artillery, Rockbridge Artillery, Third
  Richmond Howitzers, Second Richmond Howitzers, Amherst Artillery,
  Fluvanna Artillery, Milledge’s Georgia Battery.

  The Stonewall Brigade bent its head and took the blast. The rain
  streamed from the slanted forest of rifle barrels; the wind blew out
  the officer’s capes; the colours had to be furled against it. All the
  colours were smoke-darkened, shot-riddled. The Stonewall was a veteran
  brigade. It had an idea that it had been engaged in war since the
  rains first came upon the earth. Walker, its general, a good and
  gallant man, plodded at its head, his hat brim streaming wet, his
  horse’s breath making a little cloud. _Tramp! tramp!_ behind him
  marched the Stonewall—a long, swinging gait, a “foot cavalry” gait.

  The Sixty-fifth Virginia, Colonel Erskine, covered the way with a
  mountain stride. It was nearing now the pass of the South Mountain,
  and its road lay uphill. It had done good service at Gettysburg, and
  it had its wounded in that anguished column over on the Chambersburg
  Pike. It had left its dead upon the field. Now, climbing the long
  hills, colours slanted forward, keen, bronzed faces slanted forward,
  man and beast streaming rain and all battling with the gusty wind, the
  Sixty-fifth missed its dead, missed its wounded, knew that the army
  had suffered defeat, knew that the high hopes of this campaign lay in
  ashes, knew that these days formed a crisis in the war, knew that all
  the sky had darkened over the South, knew that before it lay grim
  struggle and a doubtful end. The units of the Sixty-fifth knew many
  things that in the old piping time of peace they had never thought to
  know.

  The grain in the fields was all broken down, the woods clashed their
  branches, through flawed sheets of dull silver the distant mountain
  crests were just divined. The wind howled like a banshee, and for all
  that it was July the air was cold. The Sixty-fifth thought of other
  marches. Before McDowell—Elk Run Valley—that was bad. Elk Run Valley
  was bad. Before Mechanicsville—coming down from Beaver Dam
  Station—that was bad. Bath to Romney—that was worst.... We’ve had
  plenty of bad marches—plenty of marches—plenty of heroic marches. We
  are used to marching—used to marching.... Marching and
  fighting—marching and fighting....

  Tall and lean and tanned, the Thunder Run men opposed the wind from
  the mountains. Allan Gold and Sergeant Billy Maydew exchanged
  observations.

  “I wouldn’t be tired,” said Billy, “going up Thunder Run Mountain. I
  air not tired anyhow.”

  “No, there’s no help in being tired.... I hope that Tom and Sairy are
  dry and warm—”

  “I don’t mind wet,” said Billy, “and I don’t mind cold, and I can
  tighten my belt when I’m hungry, but the thing that air hard for me to
  stand air going without sleep. I tell my will to hold hard and I put
  tobacco in my eyes, but sleep sure air a hard thing for me to go
  without. I could sleep now—I could sleep—I could sleep.... Yes; I hope
  all Thunder Run air dry and warm—Mr. Cole and Mrs. Cole and Mother and
  Christianna and Violetta and Rosalinda and the children and Grandpap
  and the dawgs and Steve Dagg—No; I kinder hope Steve air wet and
  whimpering.... Thunder Run’s a long way off. I could go to sleep—and
  sleep—and sleep ...”

  “I’m not sleepy,” said Allan. “But I wish I had a pitcher of milk—”

  The Sixty-fifth determined to try singing.

                     “O my Lawd, whar you gwine?
                       Keep in de middle ob de road!
                     Gwine de way dat Moses trod,
                       Keep in de middle ob de road—”

                     “The butcher had a little dog,
                       And Bingo was his name.
                     BB-i-n-g-o-go! B-i-n-g-o-go!
                       And Bingo was his name—”

  Toward four o’clock, as the head of the column neared Fairfield, came
  from the rear a burst of firing—musketry, then artillery. There was a
  halt, then the main body resumed the march. Early, in the rear,
  deployed Gordon’s brigade and fought back the long skirmish line of
  the pursuing blue. Throughout the remainder of the afternoon there was
  fitful firing—sound, water-logged like all else, rising dully from the
  rear. Down came the night, dark as a bat’s wing. The Second Corps
  bivouacked a mile from Fairfield, and, waking now and then in the wet
  and windy night, heard the rear guard repelling half-hearted attacks.

  Reveille echoed among the hills. The Second rose beneath a still
  streaming sky. The Stonewall, camped on a hillside, sought for wood
  for its fires and found but little, and that too wet to burn. It was
  fortunate, perhaps, that there was so little to cook. The Sixty-fifth
  squatted around a dozen pin-points of light and did its best with the
  scrapings of its commissary. “Well, boys, the flesh pots of Egypt have
  given us the go-by! D’ye remember that breakfast at Greencastle? Oohh!
  Wasn’t it good?”... “Hold your hat over the fire or it’ll go out!”...
  “I wish we had some coffee ...” “Listen at Gordon, way back there,
  popping away at Yanks!—Did you hear about his men burning fence rails?
  No?—well, ’twas out beyond York. ‘Men!’ says Marse Robert’s General
  Order, ‘don’t tech a thing!’ ‘All right, Marse Robert!‘ says we, as
  you can testify. Gordon’s as chivalrous as Young Lochinvar, or ‘A
  Chieftain to the Highlands Bound,‘ or Bayard, or any of them fellows.
  So he piles on an order, too. ‘Don’t touch a thing! especially not the
  fences. Gather your wood where Nature has flung it!’ Well, those
  Georgia boys had to camp that night where Nature hadn’t flung any
  wood—neither Cedar of Lebanon nor darned pawpaw bush! Just a nice bare
  field with rail fences—our kind of fences. Nice, old, dry, seasoned
  rails. Come along Gordon, riding magnificently. ‘General, the most
  wood around here is musket stocks, and of course we ain’t going to
  burn them! Can’t we take just a _few_ rails?’ ‘Boys,‘ says Gordon,
  being like a young and handsome father to his men. ‘Boys, you can take
  the top rail. That will leave the fences high enough for the farmer’s
  purposes. Now, mind me! don’t lay your hand on anything but the top
  rail!’ And off he goes, looking like a picture—leaf of Round Table, or
  what not. Whereupon company by company marched up and each took in
  turn the top rail.”

  “Must have been an all-fired lasting top rail—”

  “—And they had supper and went to bed cheered and comforted. And by
  and by, in the morning, just after reveille, comes Gordon, fresh as a
  daisy. And he looks at the boundaries of that field, and he colours
  up. ‘Men,’ he says in a kind of grieved anger, ‘you have disobeyed
  orders!’ Whereupon those innocents rose up and assured him that not a
  man had touched anything but a top rail!”

  _Fall in! Fall in! Column Forward!_

  It rained, and rained. You saw the column as through smoke, winding
  toward the pass of the South Mountain. From the rear came fitfully the
  sound of musketry. But there was no determined pursuit. Early kept the
  rear; Stuart, off in the rain and mist, lion-bold, and, throughout the
  long retreat to the fortress, greatly sagacious, guarded the flanks.
  A.P. Hill and Longstreet were now beyond the mountains, swinging
  southward by the Ringgold road. With the First and the Third rode Lee,
  grey on grey Traveller, in the grey rain, his face turned homeward,
  turned toward the fortress of the South, vast, mournful, thenceforth
  trebly endangered. It was the sixth of July. A year ago had been the
  Seven Days.

  Back on the road of the wounded there was trouble. Imboden, having
  crossed the mountain, determined upon a short cut by a country road to
  Greencastle. On through the small town rode the vanguard, the
  Eighteenth Virginia Cavalry. Behind, as rapidly as might be, came the
  immense and painful train. On the outskirts of the place a band of
  civilians attacked a weakly guarded portion of the column. They had
  axes, and with these they hewed in two the wagon yokes or cut the
  spokes from the wheels. The wagon beds dropped heavily upon the earth.
  “_Ahh!_” groaned the wounded. “_Ahhh! Aaaahh!_”

  Back in wrath came a detachment of the Eighteenth, scattering or
  capturing the wielders of axes. The long train passed Greencastle.
  Before it lay the road to Williamsport, the road to the Potomac. The
  rain was streaming, the wind howling, and now the Federal cavalry made
  its appearance. All the rest of the day the train was subjected to
  small sudden attacks, descents now on this section, now on that. The
  grey escort, cavalry and artillery, beat them off like stinging bees;
  the grey wagoners plied their long whips, the exhausted horses
  strained forward yet again, under the wagon wheel was felt again the
  ridge and hollow of the storm-washed road. “Woe!” cried the wind.
  “Woe, woe! Pain and woe!”

  There came a report that blue troops held Williamsport, but when late
  in a stormy afternoon the head of Imboden’s column came to this place,
  so known by now, frontier, with only the moat of the river between the
  foe’s territory and the fortress’s territory,—when the advance rode
  into town, there were found only peaceful Marylanders. The grey convoy
  occupied Williamsport. At last the torturing wagons stopped, at last
  the moaning hurt were lifted out, at last the surgeons could help, at
  last the dead were parted from the living. Imboden requisitioned all
  the kitchens of the place. There arose a semblance of warmth, a pale
  ghost of cheer. Here and there sounded even a weak laugh.

  “Say, Doctor! after hell, purgatory seems kind of good to us! That was
  hell back there on the road—hell if ever there was hell.... _Ouch!_...
  _Ooooghh! Doctor!_”

  “Doctor, do you reckon I’ll live to get across? I want to see my
  wife—I want to see her so badly.—There’s a boy, too, and I’ve never
  seen him—”

  “How air we going to get across? Air there boats?”

  “Who’s keeping the Yankees away? Jeb Stuart? That’s good.... Oh,
  Doctor, you ain’t going to cut it off? Please, Doctor, please, sir,
  don’t! No, it won’t mortify—I’m just as sure of that! Please just put
  it in splints. It ain’t so badly hurt—it ain’t hurting me hardly
  any.... Doctor, Doctor! for God’s sake!—Why, I couldn’t walk any
  more!—why, I’d have to leave the army!... Doctor, please don’t—please
  don’t cut it off, sir....”

  The rain came down, the rain came down, a drenching, sullen storm.
  Wide, yellow, and swollen rolled the Potomac before Williamsport.
  Imboden procured several flatboats, and proceeded to the ferrying
  across of those of the more slightly wounded who thought that once in
  Virginia they might somehow get to Winchester. In the midst of this
  work came news of the approach of a large force of Federal cavalry and
  artillery—Buford and Kilpatrick’s divisions hurrying down from
  Frederick.

  Imboden posted every gun with him on the heights between the town and
  the river. Hart, Eshleman, McClanahan—all faced the eighteen rifled
  guns with which presently the blue opened. A sharp artillery battle
  followed, each side firing with rapidity and some effect. Imboden had
  his cavalry and in addition seven hundred wagoners organized into
  companies and headed by commissaries, quartermasters, and several
  wounded officers. These wagoners did mightily. This fight was called
  afterwards “The Wagoners’ Battle.” Five blue cavalry regiments were
  thrown forward. The Eighteenth Virginia Cavalry and the Sixty-second
  Virginia Mounted Infantry met them with clangour in the rain-filled
  air. McNeill’s Partisan Rangers came to the aid of the wagoners down
  by the river. Eshleman’s eight Napoleons of the Washington Artillery,
  Hart’s and McClanahan’s and Moore’s batteries poured shot and shell
  from the heights. Through the dusk came at a gallop a courier from
  Fitzhugh Lee. “Hold out, General Imboden! We’re close at hand!” From
  the direction of the Hagerstown road broke a clap of war thunder,
  rolling among the hills. “Horse Artillery! Horse Artillery!” yelled
  Imboden’s lines, the Eighteenth, the Sixty-second, the Partisan
  Rangers, and the Wagoners. _Yaaaihh! Yaaaaihh! Yaaaaaaihhh! Forward!
  Charge!_

  July the seventh broke wet and stormy. The First and Third Corps were
  now at Hagerstown. Ewell and the Second nearer South Mountain, yet
  watchfully regarding the defiles through which might pour the pursuit.
  But Meade had hesitated, hesitated. It was only on the afternoon of
  the fifth that a move southward was begun in earnest. The Sixth Corps,
  on the same road with Ewell, struck now and again at the grey rear
  guard, but the rest of the great blue army hung uncertain. Only on the
  seventh did it pour southward, through the country between the
  Monocacy and the Antietam. In the dusk of this day Lee met Stuart and
  ordered an attack at dawn. Time must be gained while a bridge was
  built across the swollen river.

  All day the eighth the heavy air carried draggingly the sound of
  cannon. So drowned with rain were the fields and meadows that
  manœuvring there was manœuvring in quagmires. The horsemen of both
  sides must keep to the roads, deep in mire as were these. Dismounted,
  they fought with carbines in all the sopping ways, while from every
  slight rise the metal duellists barked at one another. At last the
  Fifth Confederate Brigade drove the Federal left, and the running
  fight and the long wet day closed with one gleam of light in the west.

  On July the ninth the Army of Northern Virginia occupied a ten-mile
  line from the Potomac at Mercersville to the Hagerstown and
  Williamsport road. A.P. Hill held the centre, Longstreet the right,
  Ewell the left, stretching toward Hagerstown. Forty thousand infantry
  and artillery stood ready. Stuart with eight thousand horsemen drew
  off to the north, watching like a falcon, ready for the pounce. The
  rain ceased to fall. A pale sunshine bathed the country, and in it
  gleamed the steel of the Army of Northern Virginia. The banners grew
  vivid.

  All day Lee waited in line of battle, but Meade was yet hesitant. The
  tenth dawned, and Stuart sent word that the Army of the Potomac was
  advancing through the defiles of South Mountain. All this day the grey
  dug trenches and heaped breastworks. The sun shone, ill was forgotten;
  hope sprang, nourished by steadfastness. There were slight cavalry
  encounters. The night of the tenth was a warm and starry one. The grey
  slept and rose refreshed. Ewell and the Second now left Hagerstown.
  Each corps commanded one of the three roads glimmering eastward, and
  Stuart patrolled all the valley of the Antietam. Lee had laid his
  pontoon bridge across to Falling Waters. All night long there passed
  into Virginia the wounded and a great portion of the trains.

  July twelfth was a day of cloud and mist. Still the grey waited; still
  Meade, with his sixty-five thousand infantry and artillery, his ten
  thousand cavalry, hung irresolute. Kelly at Hancock had eight thousand
  men. He could be trusted to flank the grey. And in the rear of the
  grey was the river, turbid, wide, deep, so swollen as hardly to be
  fordable. Halleck telegraphed Meade from Washington peremptory orders
  to attack. But the twelfth passed with only slight encounters between
  reconnoitring parties.

  On the thirteenth down came the rain again, a thick, cold, shifting
  veil of wet. Again Meade stayed in his tents. The Army of the Potomac
  understood that on the morrow it would attack. In the mean time
  reinforcements were at hand.

  That night, in the rainy dusk, Stuart drew a cordon between the
  opposed forces. Behind the screen of horsemen, behind the
  impenetrable, rainy night, the Army of Northern Virginia prepared to
  recross the Potomac. Beneath the renewed rains the river was steadily
  rising; it was go now, or abide the onset of the sixty-five thousand
  along the Antietam and on the Sharpsburg Pike, with Kelly’s eight
  thousand marching from Hancock, and other troops on the road from
  Chambersburg. Down came the rain and the night was Egyptian black.

  The artillery and the balance of the trains must cross by the pontoon
  bridge. Bonfires were built on the northern and the southern bank, but
  all the wood was wet, and the flickering light proved deceitful as any
  darkness. The rolling smoke mounted and overhung the landings like
  genii from Arabian bottles. With sullen noise the guns crossed, hour
  after hour of sullen noise. The wagons with the wounded crossed. A
  heavy wagon, in which the badly hurt were laid thick, missed its way,
  and, with its horses, went blindly over the side into the rushing
  water, where all were drowned. After the guns and the wagons came the
  men of Longstreet’s corps. Dawn found the First not yet over-passed,
  while the Third waited on the pebbly stretch between the water and the
  hills. In the mean time Ewell and the Second had undertaken the ford.

  That which, a month before, had been a pleasant summer river,—clear,
  wide, and tranquil, not deep, and well known by now to the Second
  Corps,—was to-night a monster of the dark, a mill-race of the Titans.
  The heaped wood set afire on either bank lit the water but a few yards
  outward. Between the several glares was darkness shot with rain,
  shaken by wind. And always the bonfires showed thronging men, a broad
  moving ribbon running upwards and back from the water’s edge, and
  between these two throngs a void and blackness. It was like a vision
  of the final river—a great illustration out of “Pilgrim’s Progress.”
  Company by company went down into the river; company by company slowly
  mounted on the farther side, coming up from the water into strange
  light, beneath tall shadowy trees. The water was up to the armpits. It
  was cold and rushing water. The men tied their cartridge boxes around
  their necks; they held their muskets above their heads; now and again
  a short man was carried across upon the shoulders of a tall and strong
  man. Sergeant Billy Maydew carried Lieutenant Coffin across thus.

  The Sixty-fifth kept its cartridges dry, held its muskets high. It had
  crossed into Maryland with song and joke and laughter, stepping easily
  through water to the mid-thigh, clear water, sparkling in the sun. It
  returned into Virginia through a high and stormy water, beneath a
  midnight sky. The sky of its fortunes, too, was dark. There was no
  singing to-night; each man, breasting the flood, needed all his wits
  merely to cross. The red light beat upon the Sixty-fifth going down
  from the Maryland shore, rank after rank, entering the water in a
  column of three. Rank by rank, the darkness swallowed it up, officers
  and men, colonel, lieutenant-colonel, captains, lieutenants, the
  chaplain, the surgeons, the noncommissioned officers, all the men,
  Thunder Run men, men from the mountainous Upper Valley counties,—all
  the Sixty-fifth, rank by rank dipped out of the light into the
  darkness. The darkness swallowed the regiment, then the darkness gave
  it again to the light on the Virginia shore. Up to the gate of the
  fortress, through the red flare of torches, came the Sixty-fifth. A
  man with a great rich, deep voice, broke into song in the night-time,
  in the wind and rain, as he came up beneath the sycamores. He sang
  “Dixie,” and the Sixty-fifth sang it with him.

  All night, endlessly across the river, out of light into darkness,
  then into light again, came the slowly unwinding ribbon of the
  regiments. All night the Second Corps was crossing by the ford as all
  night the First was crossing by the unstable bridge of boats. In the
  grey morning there crossed A.P. Hill and the Third. The last brigade
  was Lane’s North Carolinians. It made the passage, and then Stuart
  drew his thousands steadily to the waterside. Meade’s advance,
  Kilpatrick and Buford, saw from the hill-tops the river dark with
  swimming horsemen.



                              CHAPTER XVII
                          BREAD CAST ON WATER


  Prison X had a catechism which it taught all the newly arrived.

  _Question._ Where are we?

  _Answer._ In the North.

  _Q._ Do we find the North interesting?

  _Ans._ We do not.

  _Q._ Where is the country of our preference?

  _Ans._ South of the Potomac.

  _Q._ Do we find this prison pleasing?

  _Ans._ We do not.

  _Q._ Have we an object in life?

  _Ans._ We have.

  _Q._ What is it?

  _Ans._ To get out.

  _Q._ Again?

  _Ans._ To get out.

  _Q._ Again?

  _Ans._ To get out—and stay out.

  _Q._ Both are difficult?

  _Ans._ Both are difficult.

  Q. Have all apparent ways been tried?

  _Ans._ All apparent ways have been tried.

  _Q._ Uprisings, tunnels, sawing window bars, bribing guards, taking a
  corpse’s place, etc., have all been tried?

  _Ans._ They have all been tried.

  _Q._ And they have failed?

  _Ans._ They have failed.

  _Q._ What is to be done?

  _Ans._ I do not know.

  _Q._ Have you an object in life?

  _Ans._ I have an object in life.

  _Q._ What is it?

  _Ans._ To get out—and stay out.

  _Q._ To get South?

  _Ans._ To get South.

  Maury Stafford was not a newcomer, but the substance of this catechism
  was graved in his mind and daily life and actions. He had passed the
  stage of violently beating against the bars, and had passed the stage
  of melancholia, and the stage of listlessly sitting in what fleck of
  sunshine might be found in winter, or hand’s breadth of shade in
  summer. He had settled into the steady stage, the second wind. He knew
  well enough that, though it might last the longest, this stage, too,
  would expire. When it did, it might not come again. He had seen it
  expire in others and it had not come again. He had seen the dead moon
  of hope that followed, the mere continuance of breathing in a life of
  shards and weeds. He had seen the brain grow sick in the hands of the
  will; he had seen the wrists of the will broken across.... He meant to
  make the steady stage last, last, last!—outlast his last day in Prison
  X.

  The August day was hot—almost the hottest, said the papers, on record.
  Prison X was careful now not to have too many prisoners at once in the
  prison yard. But to-day the heat seemed to breed humanity; at any
  rate, there came an order that a fair number of rebels at once might
  go out into the air. In the officers’ yard as many as fifty were
  permitted to gather at a time. The small, sunbaked, sordid place
  looked west. At this hour of the morning it was in the prison’s
  shadow, and cooler than it would be later in the day.

  Some of the grey prisoners walked up and down, up and down; others sat
  alone, or in twos and threes, in the shadow of the wall. There was
  talk, but not loud talking. There was no briskness in the yard, no
  crisp bubbling of word and action. Languor reigned, and all the
  desirable lay without the walls. One tree-top showed above them, just
  the bushy head of an airy, mocking giant.

  At ten, the yard being filled, there came in through the gate, where
  were double guards, three or four officers in blue and a Catholic
  priest. The yard knew the inspecting officers, and bestirred itself to
  only a perfunctory recognition—perfunctory, not listless; it being a
  point of honour not to look listless or broken in presence of the
  opposing colour. One of these blue officers the yard liked very well,
  a bluff and manly fellow, with a frown for the very many things he
  could not alter and a helping hand with the few that he could. The
  grey made a subtle difference to show here in their greeting.

  For the priest—they had never seen him before; and as novelty in
  prison is thrice novelty, the various groups welcomed with an
  interested gaze the stout-built, rusty-black figure with a strong
  face, rosy and likable. “Holy Virgin!” said the priest. “If the South
  is any warmer than this, sure ye’ll be afther thanking the Saints and
  us for bringing you North! Are there any sons of the Church in sound
  of my voice?”

  There was one—a lieutenant in the last stages of consumption. He sat
  in the sun with a red spot in each cheek and eyes bright as a bird’s.
  The well-liked blue officer brought the priest to this boy. He was but
  nineteen, and evidently had not a month to live. “Good morning,
  Lieutenant!” said the officer. “Father Tierney’s a cordial in himself!
  And if, being a Catholic, you’d like—”

  “Were he twenty times a Ribil,” said Father Tierney, _sotto voce_,
  “he’s a sick human crathure and a dying man.”

  “Then I’ll leave you with him for a little,” said the officer, and
  walked away.

  “Peace go with you!” said Father Tierney. “My poor son, if you’ve done
  any harm in the flesh, the Lord having taken away the flesh will take
  away that, too.—You are not one of those who—” Father Tierney spoke
  for thirty seconds in a lowered voice.

  “No,” said the lieutenant, “I used to try, but I gave it up when I saw
  that I was going to get out anyhow. But a lot of us are still
  trying—There’s one over there that’s trying, I’m certain. He’s been
  awful good to me. If he could—if you could now—”

  “The man standing in the shadow of the wall?”

  The man standing in the shadow of the wall was only a stride or two
  away. The blue officers had their backs turned; the grey prisoners
  were listlessly minding their own business; guards and sentries had
  their eyes on their superiors. The sun blazed down, the green tree-top
  just nodded.

  “Good morning, my son,” said Father Tierney.

  “Good morning, Father.”

  Father Tierney took off his hat and with it fanned his rosy, open
  face. “Holy Virgin! ’Tis warmer here in the District than it is in
  Maryland—Maryland being my home, my son.”

  “Which half of Maryland, Father?”

  “The ‘Maryland, my Maryland’ half, my son.”

  “That,” said Stafford, “is the half that I like best. It is the
  nearest to Virginia.”

  “What,” said Father Tierney, “if ye had a wishing-cap, would ye wish
  for?”

  “Gold and a blue suit, Father.”

  “A uniform, ye mane?”

  “No. A hospital steward’s suit. Blue linen. I’ve got it worked out.”

  “My son,” said Father Tierney, in a brisk, full voice, “ye’ve a look
  of mortal fever! The Saints know it doesn’t become us to boast! But I
  was born with a bit of a medical faculty sticking sthraight out and
  looking grave.—Let me lay my finger on your pulse.”

  Stafford’s palm closed upon something hard and round and yellow. His
  eyes met the priest’s eyes.

  “It’s a weary number of soul miles ye’ll have been travelling, my
  friend,” thought the priest. “There’s something in you that’s been
  lightning branded, but it’s putting out green shoots again.”

  The blue officer was seen approaching. Father Tierney turned with
  heartiness to meet him. “That poor lad yonder, Captain, he’s not long
  for this sinful world! If you’ve no objection I’d like to come
  again—That’s thrue! That’s thrue enough! ‘Who’d mercy have must mercy
  show.’—Captain, darlint, it’s hot enough to melt rock! Between the
  time I left Ireland and came to America, and that’s twinty years ago,
  I went a pilgrimage to Italy. Having seen Rome I wint to Venice.
  There’s a big palace there where the Doges lived, and up under the
  palace roof with just a bit of lead like a coffin lid between you and
  the core of the blessed sun in heaven—there’s the prisons they call
  _piombi_.—Now you usually think of cold when you think of prisons, but
  I gather that heat’s more maddening—”

  Prison X was as capricious as any other despot. The next day was as
  hot a day, but only so many might go into the air at once. Many,
  waiting their turn in the black, stifling hall, got no other gleam
  than that afforded by the grudged opening and the swift closing of the
  outer door. The next day again the heat held and the despot’s ill
  humour held. At long intervals the door opened, but before a score had
  passed, it closed with a grating sound.

  The fourth morning Stafford found himself again in the sun and shadow
  of this yard. The earth was harder-baked, the blue sky more fiercely
  metallic, the bushy head of the one tree seen over the wall more
  decisively mocking. With it all there was a dizziness in the air. He
  knew that he had been buoyed by the second wind. As he came out from
  the gloom into the glare a doubt wound like a snake into his brain. He
  feared the wind—that it would not last—it was so very sickening out
  here.

  He took the shade of the wall, pressed his shoulder against the bricks
  and closed his eyes. For a minute or more the spirit sank, then the
  will put its lips to some deep reservoir and drank. Stafford opened
  his eyes and stood from the wall. Second wind or third wind, it held
  steady.

  The consumptive lieutenant was not in the yard. He had had a
  hemorrhage and was now in the hospital watching Death come a stride a
  day. The yard held a fair number of men, listless in the heat, walking
  slowly, standing, or seated, with hands about the knees and bowed
  heads, on the parched, untidy ground. The guards at the small gate, a
  gate which opened on another yard, not free to prisoners, with beyond
  it the true, heavy gate—the guards suffered with the heat, held their
  rifles languidly. The moments went on, a line of winged creatures now
  with broken wings, creeping, not flying, an ant-line of slow moments,
  each with its burden of lassitude, ennui, enfeebled hope. The one
  tree-top was all green and gold and shining fair and heavenly cool,
  but it was set in Paradise, and from Paradise, like Abraham, it only
  looked across the gulf, a gulf in which it acquiesced. And so it was a
  mocking tree, more fiend than angel....

  The figures of the sentries at the gate grew energized; they tautened,
  stood at salute. Into the yard came on inspection a group of officers,
  among them the one whom the prisoners held to be human. With them came
  Father Tierney.

  “The top of the morning to ye, children!” said Father Tierney. “Sure
  it’s a red cock feather the morning’s wearing!” He came nearer.
  “Where’s the lieutenant that was coughing himself away, poor deluded
  lad!”

  He looked about him, then came over to the wall, a big, rusty-black
  figure, standing so close that he made another wall for shadow. His
  eyes and Stafford’s met.

  “The lieutenant, poor lad!” demanded Father Tierney, his strong, rich
  voice rolling through the yard, “it’s the hospital he’s in?”

  “Yes,” said Stafford. “He had a bad hemorrhage and they took him
  yesterday.”

  “Tell me,” said Father Tierney, “a bit about him, and I’ll write it to
  his parents. Parents—especially mothers—have the same kind of
  heartbreak on both sides of the line.”

  The officers passed on. The thirty-odd grey prisoners walked or sat or
  stood as before. Stafford was a little in shadow, and the priest’s
  bulky form, squared before him, cut off the more crowded part of the
  enclosure.

  Father Tierney, discoursing of parents, dropped his voice with
  suddenness. “It’s the smallest possible bundle. You’re sure you can
  hide it under your coat?”

  “Yes—”

  “And his father’s a ribil fighting with Johnston—and his mother in
  Kentucky—Holy Powers!” said Father Tierney, “the heat in this place’s
  fearful and I once had sunsthroke—_Quick!_—It’s giddy enough—_Have you
  got it?_—I’m feeling this minute!” He straightened himself, wandered
  to a neighbouring stone, and, sitting down, called to the nearest
  guard who came up. “Is there a cup of water handy, my son? I had a
  sunsthroke once and this yard’s Gehenna to-day, no less!”

  Two days later, just at sunset, a hospital steward passed through the
  hall of the officers’ side of Prison X, nodded to the sentries at the
  door, crossed the yard, was let pass the small gate, crossed the court
  beyond, pretty well occupied as it was with blue soldiers, and
  approached the heavy, final gate. An official of some description was
  ahead of him, and he had for a moment to wait. The gate opened, the
  man in front passed through; there came a moment’s vision of a green
  tree against a rosy sky—the tree whose head showed above the prison
  wall. The hospital steward stepped forward. He had the word—it had
  been bought with a gold-piece of considerable denomination. He gave
  it; the gate creaked open, he passed out. The sunset looked a fabulous
  glory; the one tree had the sublimity of the pathless forest.

  At dark he found the priest’s lodging and, waiting for him, a suit of
  civilian clothes. He proposed to get to the river that night, swim it,
  and find dawn and the Virginian shore. “Whist!” said Father Tierney.
  “You’ll be afther attacking a fretful porcupine! Put out your hand,
  and you’ll touch a pathrol. They’re thicker on the river bank than
  blue flies. No, no! you thravel by road till you’re twinty-five miles
  from here. You’ll come to a hamlet called called —— and there you’ll
  find a carpenter shop and a negro named Taylor. He’s a faithful
  freedman and well thought of by the powers that be. You stop and ask
  for a drink of water, and thin you say in a whisper across the gourd,
  ‘Benedict Tierney and a boat across.’ You’ll get it.—It’s risky by the
  road, thrue enough, but divil a bit of risk would there be if you wint
  shtraight down to the river! The hedgehog would shoot as many quills
  at you as was necessary.”

  “Whether I get clear away or not, you have put me under an obligation,
  Father, which—”

  “Whist, my son, I’m Southern, I tell ye! Drink your wine, and God be
  good to the whole of us!”

  The night was still and starry, dry and warm. Stafford walked in
  company yet of the second wind. Bliss, bliss, bliss, to be out of
  Prison X! He went like a child, wary as a man, but like a child in
  mere whiteness of thought and sensuousness of being. The stars—he
  looked up at them as a boy might look his first night out of doors.
  Bright they were and far away, and the flesh crept toward them with a
  pleasure in the movement and a sadness for the distance. The
  slumberous masses of the trees, the dim distinction of the horizon,
  the sound of hidden water, the flicker of fireflies, the odour of the
  fields, the dust of the glimmering road—all had keenness, sonority,
  freshness of first encounters. For a long time he was not conscious of
  fatigue. Even when he knew at last that he was piteously tired, night
  and the world kept their vividness.

  Between two and three o’clock some slight traffic began upon the road.
  A farm-gate opened to let out a great empty wagon and a half-grown boy
  with a whip over his shoulder. The horses turned their heads westward.
  Stafford, rising from a rock-pile, asked a lift, and the boy gave it.
  All rattled westward over the macadam road. The boy talked of the
  battle of last month—the great battle in Pennsylvania.

  “Didn’t we give them hell—oh, didn’t we give them hell? They saw we
  killed twenty thousand!”

  “Twenty thousand.... It is not, after all, strange that we deduced a
  hell.... How fresh the morning smells!”

  Horses, wagon, and boy were but going from one farm to another. Two
  miles farther on Stafford thanked the youngster and left this convoy.
  Light was gathering in the east. He was now met or overtaken and
  passed by a fair number of conveyances. In some there were soldiers;
  others held clusters of loudly talking or laughing men. A company of
  troopers passed, giants in the half-light. He concluded that he must
  be near an encampment, and as he walked he debated the propriety of
  turning from the road and making his way through woods or behind the
  screen of hills. Men on horseback, in passing, spoke to him. At last,
  as the cocks were crowing, he did turn from the road. The lane in
  which he found himself wound narrowly between dew-heavy berry-bushes
  and an arch of locust trees. Branch and twig and leaf of these made a
  wonderful fretted arch through which to view the carnation morning
  sky. Ripe berries hung upon the bushes. Stafford was hungry and he
  gathered these and ate. A bird began to sing, sweet, sweet! Holding by
  the stem of a young persimmon he planted his foot in the moist earth
  of the bank, and climbed upward to where the berries grew thickest.
  Briar and elder and young locust closed around him. Above the bird
  sang piercingly, and behind it showed the purple sky. The dewy
  coolness was divine. His head was swimming a little with fatigue and
  hunger, but he was light-hearted, with a curious, untroubled sense of
  identity with the purple sky, the locust tree, the singing bird, even
  with the spray of berries his hand was closing on.

  The bird stopped singing and flew away. A horse neighed, the lane
  filled with the sound of feet. Stafford saw between the bushes the
  blue moving forms. He crouched amid the dimness of elder and
  blackberry, not knowing if he were well hidden, but hoping for the
  best. The company, pickets relieved and moving toward an encampment,
  had well-nigh passed when one keen-eyed man observed some slight
  movement, some overbending of the wayside growth. With his rifle
  barrel he parted the green curtain.

  This encampment was an outstretched finger of the encampment of a
  great force preparing to cross the Potomac. It appeared, too, that
  there had been recently an outcry as to grey spies. Stafford proffered
  his story—a Marylander who had been to the city and was quietly
  proceeding home. He had turned into the lane thinking it a short
  cut—the berries had tempted him, being hungry—he had simply stood
  where he had climbed, waiting until he could plunge into the lane
  again;—behold the whole affair!

  He might have won through, but in the guardhouse where he was searched
  they found a small, worn wallet whose contents damned him. Standing
  among the berry-bushes, his hand had gone to this with the thought
  that he had best throw it away before danger swooped—and then he had
  refrained, and immediately it was too late. The sergeant looked it
  through, shook his head, and called a lieutenant. The lieutenant took
  the papers in a bronzed hand, ran them over, and read a letter dated
  two years back, written from Greenwood in Virginia and signed Judith
  Cary. He folded it and returned it to the wallet which he kept.

  “Of course you know,” he said in an agreeable voice, “that this is
  your death-warrant. I wonder at you for such monumental carelessness!
  Or, perhaps, it wasn’t carelessness.”

  “No,” said Stafford, “it wasn’t carelessness. But I am not a spy.
  Yesterday I escaped from Prison X.”

  “Tell that,” said the lieutenant, “to the marines. Sergeant, we move
  before noon, and jobs of this sort must be put behind us! There’s a
  drumhead court sitting now. Bring him across.”

  The tree was an oak with one great bough stretching like a warped beam
  across a cart track. Stafford divined it when he and the blue squad
  were yet three hundred yards away. It topped a slight rise and it
  thrust that arm out so starkly against the sky. He knew it for what it
  was. The world and the freshness of the world were as vividly with him
  as during any hour of the preceding vivid twelve. Every sense was
  vigorously functioning; the whole range of perception was lit; length
  and breadth and depth, he felt an intimacy of knowledge, a sure
  interpenetration. He saw wholly every little dogwood tree, every stalk
  of the long grass by the roadside; the cadence of the earth was his,
  and the taste of existence was in his mouth. He had a steady sense of
  the deep that was flowing into the mould of life and then out of the
  mould of life. He felt eternal. The tree and that stark limb bred in
  him no fear.

  A party of cavalry came up behind the foot soldiers.

  “Where are you going?” asked the officer at the head.

  “To hang a spy,” answered the lieutenant. “On the tree yonder.”

  “Yes?” said the officer. “Not the pleasantest of work, but at times
  necessary.—It’s a lovely morning.”

  “Isn’t it? The heat’s broken at last.”

  The troopers continued to ride alongside, and so all mounted the
  little rise and came together upon the round of dry sward beneath the
  tree. A curt order or two left the blue soldiers drawn up at one side
  of this ring, and the prisoner with the provost guard in the centre,
  beneath the tree. Stafford glanced down at the rope that was now about
  his neck. It lay curled there like a tawny serpent, visible, real,
  real as the bough up to which, too, he glanced—real, and yet
  profoundly of no tremendous importance. He had a curious fleeting
  impression as of a fourth dimension, as of the bough above arching a
  portal, on the other side of which lay utter security. Upon the way
  thither he had been perfectly silent, and he felt no inclination now
  toward speech or any demonstration. He stood and waited, and he was
  not conscious of either quickening or retarding in Time’s quiet
  footfall.

  The cavalry officer, in the course of a checkered existence, had
  witnessed a plenty of military executions—so many, in fact, that Pity
  and Horror had long since shrugged their shoulders and gone off to
  sleep. They had left a certain professional curiosity; a degree of
  connoisseurship in how men met death. He now pushed his horse through
  the scrub to the edge of the ring. The action brought him within
  twenty feet of the small group in the centre, and, upon the blue
  soldiers standing back a little, face to face with the bareheaded
  prisoner. The officer looked, then swung himself from the saddle, and,
  with spurs and sabre jingling, strode into the trodden ground. “A
  moment, Lieutenant, if you please! I have somewhere seen your
  prisoner—though where—”

  He came closer. Stafford, worn to emaciation, dressed in rough
  civilian clothes, with the rope about his bared neck, returned his
  gaze. Memory stepped between them with a hand to each. The air
  darkened, grew filled with thunder, jagged lightning, and whistling
  rain, the parched earth was quagmire, the dusty trees Virginia cedars
  with twisted roots, wet, murmuring in a harsh wind. There was heard
  the rattle of Stonewall Jackson’s musketry, and, above the thunder,
  Pelham’s guns.

  “Ox Hill!” exclaimed Marchmont with an oath.

  Stafford’s eyelids just quivered. “Ox Hill,” he repeated.

  Suddenly, with the thunder of Pelham’s guns, the bough above was no
  longer the arch of a portal. It was an oak bough with the end of a
  rope thrown across it. Life streamed back upon him. The clarity, the
  silver calm, the crystal quality went from things. He staggered
  slightly, and the blood drummed in his ears.

  Marchmont was speaking rapidly to the lieutenant and the provost
  officer. “How do you know that he is a spy? Said he was an escaped
  prisoner—escaped from Prison X? Couldn’t you wait to find out? Believe
  it? Yes, I believe it. He’s a Southern officer—he did me the best of
  turns once—day when I thought I was a prisoner myself—day of
  Chantilly.—Yes. Colonel Francis Marchmont. Marchmont Invincibles.
  Remand him, eh?—until we telegraph to the Commandant at X. No use
  treating him as a spy if he isn’t a spy, eh? Remember once in Italy
  when that game was nearly played on myself.—You will wait, Lieutenant,
  until I send an orderly back with a note to your general? Know him
  well—think I can arrange matters.—Thanks! Here, Roberts!”

  Roberts galloped off. The group beneath the tree, the soldiers drawn
  up at one side, the troopers and their colonel stayed as they were,
  waiting. The bright sands ran on, the breeze in the oak whispered like
  a dryad, the bees buzzed, there came an odour of the pine. Stafford’s
  hand and lip were yet stained with the berries. He stood, the tawny
  cirque about his neck, waiting with the rest.

  Roberts returned. He bore a folded piece of writing which he delivered
  to Marchmont. The latter read, then showed it to the lieutenant, who
  spoke to the sergeant of the provost guard. Two not unkindly hands
  loosened the circle of rope and lifted it clear from the prisoner.
  Marchmont came across with outstretched hand.

  “Major Stafford, I thought I could manage it! As soon as the matter is
  verified from X—I shall see if I cannot personally arrange an
  exchange. I am pretty sure that I can do that, too.” His teeth gleamed
  beneath his yellow mustache. “I haven’t at the moment a flask such as
  you raised me from the dead with!—Jove! the fine steel rain and the
  guns with the thunder, and Caliph pressed hard, and it was _peine
  forte et dure_—”

  “It was a travelled road,” said Stafford; “presently some one else
  would have come by and released you. But this is not a travelled road
  and I was very near to death.” He looked at his berry-stained hands.
  “I don’t think I cared in the least about death itself. It seemed,
  standing here, a perfectly unreal pasteboard arch, a piece of stage
  furniture. But I have a piece of work to do on this side of it ... and
  so, on the whole, I am glad you came by.” He laughed a little. “That
  has a mighty ungracious sound, has it not? I should thank you more
  heartily—and I do!”

  A month from this day he stood upon Virginia earth, duly exchanged. He
  had been put across at Williamsport. Marchmont had pressed upon him a
  loan of money and a horse. For a week he had been, in effect,
  Marchmont’s guest. A strange liking had developed between the two....
  But now he was alone, and in Virginia,—Virginia that he had left more
  than a year ago when the army crossed into Maryland and there followed
  the battle of Sharpsburg. He was alone, riding through a wood slowly,
  his hands relaxed upon the saddlebow, lost in thought.

  About him was the silence of the warm September wood. It was a wood of
  small pines, scarred and torn, as were now all the woods of this land
  by the heavy hand and heel of a giant war. That was a general war, but
  to each man, too, his own war. Stafford’s had been a long war, long
  and sultry, stabbed with fierce lightnings. He had scars enough
  within, stains of a rough and passionate weather, marks of a lava
  flow. But to-day, riding through the September wood, he felt that the
  war was over. He was drawing still from that deeper stratum of being,
  from the colder, purer well. His mind had changed, and without any
  inner heroics he was prepared to act upon that change. He had never
  been weak of will.

  In Winchester, when he entered it at sunset, he found a small grey
  command, and on the pillared porch of the hotel and in the bare
  general room various officers who came and went or sat at the table
  writing. Stafford, taking his place also at this long and heavy board
  and asking for pen and ink, fell into talk, while he waited, with an
  infantry captain sitting opposite. Where was General Lee and the main
  army?

  “Along the Rapidan, watching Meade on the other side. Where have you
  been,” said the captain, “that you didn’t know that?”

  “I have been in prison.—On the Rapidan.”

  “Yes. But Longstreet, with Hood and McLaws, has been ordered to
  Tennessee to support Bragg. There’ll be a great battle down there.”

  “Then there’s inactivity at the moment with us?”

  “Yes. Marse Robert’s just resting his men and watching Meade. Nobody
  exactly knows what the next move will be.”

  A negro boy brought the writing-materials for which Stafford had
  asked. He left the captain’s conversation and fell to writing. He
  wrote three letters. One was to General Lee, whom he knew personally,
  one to the general commanding his own brigade, and one to Warwick
  Cary. When he came to the envelope for the last-named letter he
  glanced across to the captain, also writing. “The Golden Brigade,
  General Cary—Warwick Cary? Do you know if it is with Longstreet or by
  the Rapidan?”

  “By the Rapidan, I think. But Warwick Cary was killed at Gettysburg.”

  Stafford drew in his breath. “I had not heard that! I am sorry,
  sorry.... I begin to think how little I have heard. I have been in
  Prison X since Sharpsburg.... General Cary killed!”

  “Yes. At the head of his men in a great charge. But the brigade is by
  the Rapidan.”

  “It was not the brigade I was thinking of,” said the other.

  He sat for a moment with his hand shading his eyes, then he slowly
  tore into pieces the letter to Warwick Cary. The remaining two letters
  he saw placed in the mail-bag for army headquarters. The next morning
  early he rode out of Winchester, out upon the Valley Pike. Before him
  lay Kernstown; beyond Kernstown stretched beneath the September mist
  the long, great war-road with its thronging memories. He touched his
  horse and for several days travelled southward through the blackened
  Valley of Virginia.



                             CHAPTER XVIII
                               THREE OAKS


  The countryside lay warm and mellow in the early autumn air. The
  mountains hung like clouds; the vales cherished the amber light. The
  maple leaves were turning; out on the edge of climbing fields the
  sumach was growing scarlet, the gum trees red as blood. The sunlight
  was as fine as old Canary. _Caw! Caw!_ went the crows, wheeling above
  the unplanted fields.

  The Three Oaks’ carriage, Tullius driving, climbed the heavy fields,
  where, nowadays, the roads were never mended. This region, the head of
  the great main Valley, was a high, withdrawn one. From it men enough
  had gone to war, but as yet it had not itself become a field for
  contending armies. No cannon here had roused the echoes of the Blue
  Ridge, no smoke of musketry drifted through the forest glades. News of
  the war came by boat up the James, or from the lower towns,—Lexington,
  Staunton, Charlottesville,—in the old, red, high-swung stages, or
  brought by occasional horsemen, in saddle-bags filled with newspapers.
  The outward change in the countryside was to be laid to the door, not
  of violent commission but of omission—omission less spectacular, but
  no less assured of results. The roads, as has been said, were
  untended, fallen into holes, difficult to travel. A scrub of
  sassafras, of trailing berry-vines, of mullein, was drawing with
  slender fingers many a field back into the wild. The fences were
  broken, gaps here and gaps there, trailed over by reddening vines.
  When the road passed a farmhouse the fences there were a ghastly,
  speckled, greyish white; innocent of whitewash for now going on three
  years. The horseblocks showed the same neglect; the spring-houses,
  too, and the outbuildings and negro cabins. The frame farmhouses
  looked as dolefully. The brick houses kept more an air of old times,
  but about these and their gardens there dwelled, too, a melancholy
  shabbiness. Everywhere was a strange feeling of a desert, of people
  gone away or sunken in dreams, of stopped clock-hands, of lowered
  life, of life holding itself very still, yet of a life that knew heavy
  and painful heartbeats. There were not many cattle in the fields; you
  rarely saw a strong, mettled horse; those left were old and work-worn
  and thin. There seemed not so many of anything; the barnyards lacked
  feathered people, the duck-ponds did not flower in white and gold as
  of yore, the broods of turkeys were farther between, even the flower
  gardens seemed lessened in colour, the blooms farther apart. At long
  intervals the Three Oaks’ carriage met or overtook slow travelers on
  the road. Chiefly they were women. In the same way the fields and
  gardens, the dooryards and doorsteps of the houses presented to view
  women and children.

  Miriam remarked upon this. “Just women and babies and old Father Time.
  I haven’t seen a young man to-day. I haven’t seen a boy—not one over
  fifteen. All gone.... And maybe the cannon balls to-day are playing
  among them as they played with Will.”

  “Miriam,” said her mother, “be as strong as Will! How shall you be
  merry with him when you do meet if you go on through life like this?”

  “I don’t see that you have any right to say that to me,” said Miriam.
  “I do everything just the same. And it seems to me that I can hear
  myself laughing all the day. Certainly I don’t cry. I never was a
  cry-baby.”

  “I had rather you cried,” answered Margaret Cleave.

  “Well, I’m not going to cry.... Look at that calf in the meadow
  yonder—little brown thing with a mark on the forehead! Doesn’t it look
  lonely—usually there are two of them playing together. Here comes an
  old man with a bucket.”

  It was an old negro with a great wooden bucket filled with quinces. He
  put up a beseeching hand and Tullius stopped the horses. “Dey’s
  moughty fine quinces, mistis. Don’ yo’ want ter buy ’em? Dey dries
  fust-rate.”

  “They’re dry already,” said Miriam. “They’re withered and small.”

  “Yass ’m. Dar ain’ anything dishyer war ain’t shrivelled. But I sho
  does need ter sell ’em, mistis.”

  “I can’t pay much for them,” said Margaret. “Money’s very scarce,
  uncle. It’s withered, too.”

  “Yass ’m, dats so! I ain’t er-gwiner ax much, mistis. I jes’ erbleeged
  ter sell ’em, kase de cabin’s bare. Ef ten dollars ’ll suit you—”

  Mrs. Cleave drew from her purse two Confederate notes. The seller of
  quinces emptied his freight into the bottom of the roomy equipage. He
  went on down the road, slow swinging his empty bucket, and the Three
  Oaks’ carriage mounted the last long hill. It was going to the
  county-seat to do some shopping. The sunshine lay in dead gold, upon
  the road and the fields on either hand. There was hardly wind enough
  to lift the down from the open milkweed pods. The mountains were
  wrapped in haze.

  “War-shrunk quinces!” said Miriam. “Do you remember the Thunder Run
  woman with blackberries to sell a month ago? She said the same thing.
  I said the berries were small and she said, ‘Yass, ma’am. The war’s
  done stunt them.’”

  “I wonder where the army is to-day!”

  “You’re thinking of Richard. You’re always thinking of Richard.”

  “Miriam, do you not think of Richard? Do you not love Richard?”

  “Of course I love Richard. But you’re thinking of him all the time!
  Will’s only got me to think of him.”

  “Miriam!”

  Miriam began to shudder. Dry-eyed, a carnation spot in each cheek, she
  sat staring at the dusty roadside, her slight figure shaking. Her
  mother leaned across and gathered her into her arms. “O child, child!
  O third of my children! The one dead, and another perhaps dying or
  dead, at this moment, and in trouble, with a hidden name—and you, my
  littlest one, tearing with your hands at your own heart and at mine!
  And the country.... All our men and women, the warring and the warred
  upon.... And the world that wheels so blindly—all, all upon one’s
  heart! It is a deal to think on, in the dead of night—”

  “I don’t mean to be hard and wicked,” said Miriam. “I don’t know what
  is the matter with me. I am mad, I think. I remember that night after
  the Botetourt Resolutions you said that war was a Cup of Trembling. I
  didn’t believe you then.—I don’t believe we’re going to find a sheet
  of letter-paper in town, or shoes or flannel either.”

  There were three stores in town and the Three Oaks’ carriage stopped
  before each. A blast had passed over the country stores as over the
  country fields, a sweeping away of what was needed for the armies and
  a steady depletion of what was left. For three years no new stock had
  come to the stores, no important-looking boxes and barrels over which
  the storekeeper beamed, hatchet in hand, around which gathered the
  expectant small fry. All the gay calicoes were gone, all the bright
  harness and cutlery. China had departed from the shelves, and all
  linen and straw bonnets and bright wool. The glass showcases, once the
  marvel and delight of childish eyes, were barren of ribbons and “fancy
  soap,” of cologne, pictured handkerchief boxes, wonderful buttons,
  tortoise-shell combs, and what-not. The candies were all gone from the
  glass jars, the “kisses” and peppermint stick. There were no loaves of
  sugar in their blue paper. There was little of anything, very little,
  indeed,—and the merchant could not say as of old, “Just out,
  madam!—but my new stock is on the way.”

  They found at last a quire or two of dusty foolscap, paid thirty
  dollars for it, and thought the price reasonable. Shoes were not to be
  discovered—“any more than the North Pole!” said the small old man who
  waited upon them. “Yes, Mrs. Cleave; it’s going to be an awful thing,
  this winter!” They bought a few yards of flannel, and paid twenty
  dollars the yard; a few coarse handkerchiefs, and paid three dollars
  apiece for them; a pound of tea, and paid for it twenty-five dollars.
  When at last Tullius tucked their purchases into corners of the
  carriage, they had expended five hundred dollars in bright, clean,
  handsome Confederate notes.

  There were other shoppers in a small way in the stores, and, it being
  a fine morning, people were on the streets. It was the day of the
  month that was, by rights, court-day. The court-house was opened, and
  an ancient clerk attended, but there was no court. Out of habit, the
  few men left in town gathered in the court-house yard or upon the
  portico between the pillars. Out of habit, too, the few men left in
  the countryside were in town to-day, their horses fastened at the old
  racks. Moreover, in this, as in other counties, there was always a
  sprinkling of wounded sons, men home from the hospital, waiting for
  strength to go back to the front; now and then, too, though more
  rarely, an officer or private home on furlough. The little town, in
  the clutch of adversity as were all little towns through the great
  range of the South, was not in the main a dolorous or dejected place.
  The fine, clear, September air this morning carried laughter. And
  everywhere nowadays there bloomed like a purple flower a sense of the
  heroic. The stage was not due for hours yet, and so there was no crowd
  about the post-office where the last bulletin, read and re-read and
  read again, was yet posted upon a board beside the door.

  The ladies from Three Oaks exchanged greetings with many an old friend
  and country neighbour. Margaret Cleave was honoured by all, loved by
  many, and her wistful, dark, flower-like daughter had her friends
  also. Everybody remembered Will, everybody knew Richard. It used to be
  “Have you heard from Captain Cleave?”—“Have you heard from Major
  Cleave?”—“Have you heard from Colonel Cleave?”—Now it was different.
  Most people hereabouts believed in Richard Cleave, but they, somewhat
  mistakenly, did not speak of him to his mother. There was always a
  silence through which throbbed a query. Margaret Cleave, quiet,
  natural, unafraid, and unconstrained, never told where was Richard,
  never spoke of him in the present, but equally never avoided reference
  to him in the past. It was understood that, wherever he was, he was in
  health and “not unhappy.” His old friends and neighbours asked no
  more. In the general anxiety, the largeness of all reference, too
  great curiosity, or morbid interest in whatever strangeness of ill
  fortune came to individual folk, had little place.

  The two moved with naturalness among their fellows, going to and fro
  on various errands. When all were accomplished they went for dinner to
  a fair pillared house of old friends on the outskirts of town. Dinner
  was the simplest of meals and all were women who sat at table. They
  talked of the last-received letters, the latest papers, the news of
  recent movements, battles, defeats, victories, hardships,
  triumphs,—Averell’s raid in western Virginia, the cavalry fighting
  near the White Sulphur, the night attack on Fort Sumter, the fighting
  in Arkansas, the expected great battle in Tennessee. The one-course
  dinner over, they sat for an hour in the cool, deep parlour, where
  they took up baskets and fell to carding lint while they talked—now of
  prices and makeshift, how to contrive shoes, clothing, warmth, food,
  medicines, what-not, and how to continue to send supplies to the men
  in the army. Then, while they carded lint, Miriam was asked to read
  aloud. She did so, taking the first book that offered from the table.
  It was “Lalla Rookh,” and she read from it with a curious, ungirlish
  brilliancy and finish. When she put the book down she was asked if she
  would not sing.

  “Not if you do not wish to,” said her mother.

  Miriam got up at once. “I do wish to.”

  Her mother, following her to the piano sat down and laid her fingers
  on the keys.

  “Sing,” said some one, “‘Love launched a Fairy Boat.’”

               “Love launched a fairy boat
               On a bright and shining river,
               And said, ‘My bark shall float
               O’er these sunny waves forever.
               The gentlest gales shall fill the sails
               That bear me onward cheerily,
               And through Time’s glass the sand shall pass
               From morn till evening merrily,
               From morn till evening merrily ...’
               Love launched a fairy boat—”

  Margaret rose quickly. The others with exclamations gathered around as
  the mother laid the slight figure on the sofa.

  “She is frightfully unwell,” said Margaret. “Will—Richard—the strain
  of this war that should never have been!” She loosened the girl’s
  dress at the throat, bathed her temples. “There, my dear, there, my
  dear—”

  Miriam sat up. “What is the matter? The world got all black.... Let us
  go home, mother.”

  They only waited for the stage to come in. From the carriage,
  drawn up near the post-office, they watched it rumble up, within
  its depths a hurt soldier or two and the usual party of refugeeing
  women and children. The jaded horses stopped before the
  post-office; the driver climbed down with the mail-bag, all the
  town came hurrying. A man standing on a box, beneath the bulletin
  board, began to read in a loud voice from an unfolded paper:
  “Cavalry encounters along the Rapidan—General Lee in Richmond
  conferring with the President—Longstreet’s corps taking train at
  Louisa Court-House. Destination presumably Tennessee.—_Cumberland
  Gap. Tennessee. September ninth. To-day General Frazer, surrounded
  and cut off by superior force of enemy, surrendered with two
  thousand men_—”

  The Three Oaks’ carriage went heavily homeward, up and over the long
  hills. A light from the west was on the Blue Ridge, the sky clear, the
  winds laid. At last they saw the home hill, and the three giant oaks.

  For a long time Miriam kept awake, lying in her narrow bed, her head
  on her mother’s breast, but at last her eyes closed. Presently she was
  asleep, breathing quietly. Margaret, for the child’s more easy lying,
  slipped her arm from beneath her, then waited until, with a little
  sigh, she settled more deeply among the pillows, then rose, waited
  another moment, and stepped lightly from the room. The hall window
  showed a sky yet red from the sunset. Across was the room that since
  boyhood had been Richard’s. The mother entered it, closed the door,
  and moving to an old, leather-covered couch, lay upon it face
  downward.

  Outside the dusk closed in; the stars peered through the branches of
  the poplar without the window. Margaret rose, stood for a moment
  looking at the sword slung above the mantel, then quit the room, and
  going downstairs, ate her slender supper while Mahalah discoursed of a
  ghost the negroes had seen the night before.

  It had been a frightful ghost—“Er ha’nt ez tall ez dat ar cedar ob
  Lebanon, an er part grey an’ er part white an’ er part black! An’ it
  hadn’t no mo’ _touch_ to hit den de air has, an’ whar de eyes was was
  lak two candles what de wind’s blowin’, and it kept er-cryin’ lak
  somebody in de mountains—_wooh!—wooh!—wooh!_—No, ’m, Miss Margaret!
  hit wa’n’t ’magination. What we gwine ’magine for, when ever’body
  could see hit wif their own two eyes?”

  Mahalah cleared the table, closed the shutters, and carried the lamp
  into the wide hall, where she set it on a leaf-table beside her
  mistress’s workbasket. Then, still muttering of the “ha’nt,” she threw
  her apron over her head, and departed for the quarter. Margaret
  mounted the stair and stood listening at Miriam’s half-open door. The
  girl was sleeping quietly, and the mother, turning, came down again to
  the hall, and took her low chair beside the table and the basket of
  lint she was carding. The night was mild and soft, the front door
  standing open, the scent of the autumn flowers perceptible.

  Margaret Cleave, sitting carding lint, the lamplight upon her brown
  hair, her slender hands, the grave beauty of her face,—Margaret Cleave
  thought of many things. In the midst of her thinking she heard a step
  upon the gravel before the house. A man mounted the porch steps and
  came into the light from the open door. He had raised his hand to the
  knocker when he saw the mistress of the house sitting in the lamplight
  by the table.

  Margaret rose and came forward. She saw that it was a soldier, an
  officer.

  “Good evening,” she said; then as she came closer,—“One moment!...
  Major Stafford!”

  With a gesture for silence she took up the lamp and led the way into
  the parlour. “My daughter is not well and has fallen asleep. But we
  can talk here without disturbing her.”

  “I came,” said Stafford, “hoping to find Colonel Cleave. I have ridden
  from Lexington to-day. He is not here?”

  “No.”

  The two faced each other, her eyes large, enquiring, quietly hostile.
  Stafford, moving with steadiness upon that changed level, met her gaze
  with a gaze she could not read. She turned slightly, sank into a great
  chair, and motioned him to one opposite. He continued to stand, his
  hand touching the table. There was a bowl of roses on the table, and
  soft lights and shadows filled the room.

  “Mrs. Cleave, will you tell me where I may find him?”

  “No. You must understand that I cannot do that.... We heard that you
  were in prison.”

  “I have been in prison since Sharpsburg. Latterly I found a friend and
  four days ago I was exchanged. I have come straight to Three Oaks.”

  “Yes? Why?”

  Stafford walked the length of the room and stood a moment at a window,
  looking out into the night. He had fought his fight; it was all over
  and done with. Those last weeks in prison he had known where the
  victory would fall, and that first night out his mind had parted as
  finally as was possible with one vast country of his past, a dark
  country of strain and longing, fierce attraction, fierce repulsion. On
  the starlit road from Prison X, in the quietude of the earth, victory
  profound and ultimate had come, soft as down. Before he gathered the
  berries in the by-road, before the soldiers took him, before Marchmont
  came, he had touched the larger country.

  He came back to the table where Margaret sat, a rose in her hand, her
  eyes upon its petals.

  “I came to Three Oaks,” he said, “to make retribution.”

  “Retribution!”

  Stafford faced her. “Mrs. Cleave, what do you know—what has he told
  you—of White Oak Swamp?”

  Margaret laid the rose from her hand. “I know that somewhere there was
  treachery. I know that my son was guiltless of that charge. I know
  little more except that—except that, either you, also, were strangely
  misled, involved in that dreadful web of error—or that—or that you
  swore falsely.”

  “I swore falsely.”

  There was a silence. She sat looking at him with parted lips. He kept
  the quietness with which from his entrance he had moved and spoken,
  but as he stood there there grew a strange feeling in his face, and
  suddenly he raised his hand and covered his eyes. The clock in the
  hall ticked, ticked. Far out in the night a whip-poor-will was
  calling. The walls of the room seemed to expand. There came a sense of
  armies, of camp-fires stretching endlessly, of movements here and
  there beneath the canopy of night, of a bugle’s distant shrilling, of
  the wheels of cannon, of a dim, high-borne flag.

  At last it grew intolerable. Margaret broke it with a thrilling voice.
  “And you come here to tell this to _me_?”

  “I came,” said Stafford, “to tell it to Richard Cleave. I have written
  it to General Lee and my brigade commanders—and to others. By now it
  is in their hands.”

  The silence fell again, while the mother’s heart and brain dealt with
  the action and its consequences. At last she put her hands before her
  face.

  “I am joyful,” she said, and her voice was thrillingly so, “but I am
  sorrowful too—” and her voice veiled and darkened. “Unhappy man that
  you are—!”

  “If you will believe me,” said Stafford, “I am not unhappy. It was
  not, I think, until I ceased to be unhappy that I could see clearly
  either the way that I had travelled or the way that I am to travel. I
  will not speak of what is past, nor of remorse for what is past. I am
  not sure that what I feel is remorse. I have seen the ocean when,
  lashed by something in itself or out of itself, it wrecked and ruined,
  and I have seen the ocean when it carried every bark in safety. It was
  the same ocean, and what is the use of words? But I will take now the
  blame and double blame of White Oak Swamp. I wished to say this to
  him, face to face—”

  “He took another name, and rejoined before Second Manassas. He joined
  Pelham’s Battery, of the horse artillery. He called himself Philip
  Deaderick.”

  “_Deaderick!_ The rain and Pelham’s guns ... I remember.”

  “He is to-night wherever his battery is. Somewhere on the Rapidan. He
  would not let—what happened—ruin his life. He went back to the army
  that he loved. He has done his duty there. Moreover, no friend that
  knew him believed him guilty. Moreover, the woman that he loves has
  kept the steadiest faith—not less steady than mine, who am his
  mother.... I will tell you this because it should be told you.”

  “Yes,” he said, “it should be told me. I have loved Judith Cary. But I
  want her happiness now. I wrote to her last night. I couldn’t do it
  before.”

  The clock ticked, ticked. The whip-poor-will cried. _Whip-poor-will!
  whip-poor-will!_ Margaret sat very still, her elbow on the table, her
  hand shading her eyes.

  The quiet held a moment longer in the Three Oaks’ parlour, then he
  broke it. “I have said all, I think, that needed to be said. It does
  not seem to me to be a case for words. You understand that the
  machinery has been set in motion, and that the weight will be lifted
  and laid where it belongs. I shall try when I reach the army to see
  Colonel Cleave. You will understand that I wish to do that, and why I
  wish it. Had he been here to-night I should have said to him little
  more, I think, than I have said to you. I should have said that the
  old, unneeded hatred had died from within me, and that I asked his
  forgiveness.”

  He took his hat from the chair beside him. “I’ll ride to town and
  sleep there to-night. In the morning I’ll turn toward the Rapidan—”

  Margaret rose. “It is late. You have been riding all day. You are
  tired and thin and pale—you have been in prison.” Suddenly as she
  looked at him the tears came. “Oh, the world, the world that it is!
  Oh, the divided heart of it, the twisted soul, the bitter and the
  sweet and the dark and the light—” She dashed the tears away and came
  over to him with her hand held out. “See! it is all over now. It is
  far to town, and late. Stay at Three Oaks to-night.—Tullius shall put
  your horse up, and I will call Mahalah to see to your room—”



                              CHAPTER XIX
                     THE COLONEL OF THE SIXTY-FIFTH


  Through the cool October sunlight three grey regiments and a battery
  of horse artillery were marching upon a road that led from the Rapidan
  to the Rappahannock. They were coming up from Orange Court-House and
  their destination was the main army now encamped below Kelly’s Ford.

  The air was like wine and the troops were in spirits. There were huge
  jokes, laughter, singing, and when at noon the column halted in a
  coloured wood for dinner, the men frisked among the trees like young
  lambs or very fauns of Pan. They were ragged, and they didn’t have
  much for dinner, but gaiety was in their gift and a quite superb “make
  the best of it.” They were filled with quips and cranks; they guffawed
  with laughter. They lay upon the earth, hands beneath their heads, one
  knee crossed above the other, and sang to the red oak leaves on the
  topmost branch.

                 “I dreamed a dream the other night,
                   When everything was still;—
                 I dreamed I saw Susannah
                   Come running down the hill....

                 “O Susannah, don’t you weep,
                   Nor mourn too long for me—
                 I’se gwine to Alabama,
                   With my banjo on my knee!”

                 “Old Grimes is dead, that good old man,
                   Whom we shall see no more—”

  The Sixty-fifth Virginia’s spirits flew in feathers. The Sixty-fifth
  was, for this period of the war and on the Southern side, a full
  regiment. It carried nearly five hundred muskets. It was practically
  half as large as it had been on the day of First Manassas. It had
  passed through three years of deadly war, but as a regiment it
  possessed skill as well as courage, and—with one exception—it had had
  fair luck. And then it had gathered recruits. It was a good regiment
  to belong to—a steady, fine regiment.

  Officers’ mess spread its table on the golden, fallen leaves of a
  hickory beside a sliding, ice-cool rivulet. The four hundred and odd
  men were scattered, in perhaps fifty messes, through the grove. The
  smoke of their fires rose straight and blue. The metal of the stacked
  muskets reflected a thousand little saffron flames. The leaves drifted
  down. The day was ineffably sweet, cool, and fragrant. _Caw! caw!_
  went the crows in a neighbouring field.

  The Sixty-fifth believed in friendship. It believed in cousins. It
  believed in the tie of the County. The river, winding between willow
  and sycamore from croft to croft,—the chain of little valleys, the end
  of one touching the beginning of another,—the linked hills, each with
  its homestead,—the mountains with their mountain cabins,—all was so
  much framework in and over and about which flowed the mutual life. In
  its consciousness hill called to hill and stream to stream—Thunder Run
  to other runs and creeks—other mountains to Thunder Run Mountain. The
  Sixty-fifth experienced a profound unity—a unity bred of many things.
  Physical contiguity played its part, a common range of ideas, a
  general standard of conduct, a shared way of seeing, hearing, tasting.
  Upon all was the stamp of community in effort, community in danger,
  community in event. It was not to the erection of separateness that
  brothers, cousins, friends, acquaintances, even in a minor degree
  enemies, shared heat and cold, the burning sun or the midnight,
  stumbling darkness of the road, storm and fatigue and waking through
  the night, hunger, thirst, marchings and battles and the sight of
  battle-fields, that their hearts together failed, shrivelled,
  darkened, or expanded, rose and shouted. So deeply alike now was their
  environment and the face of their days that their own faces were grown
  strangely alike. Sometimes the members of the Sixty-fifth differed in
  opinion, sometimes they squabbled, sometimes they waxed sarcastic,
  sometimes they remarked that the world was too small for such or such
  a comrade and themselves. Then came the battle—and when in the morning
  light they saw such or such an one, it was “Hello, Jim—or Jack—or Tom!
  I’m right down glad you weren’t killed! Fuss at you sometimes, but I’d
  have missed you, all the same!”

  The Sixty-fifth sat cross-legged in the coloured wood near
  Rappahannock, and ate its diminutive corn-pone and diminutive rasher
  of bacon. No Confederate soldier ever felt drowsily heavy after
  dinner. Where there was so little to digest, the process accomplished
  itself in the turn of a hand. There was little, too, to smoke,
  now—worse luck! But there was always—except in the very worst
  straits—there was always something out of which might be gotten a
  certain whimsical amusement.

  The Sixty-fifth had had an easy march, and was going to have another
  one. The Sixty-fifth knew this country like a book, having fought over
  most steps of it. It had a pleasant feeling of familiarity with this
  very wood and the shining stretch of road narrowing toward a dark wood
  and the Rappahannock. The Sixty-fifth had every confidence in Marse
  Robert, commanding all; in Old Dick, commanding the Second Corps, in
  Alleghany Johnson, commanding the division; in Walker, commanding the
  Stonewall; in Colonel Erskine, commanding the Sixty-fifth. Its
  confidence in the Sixty-fifth itself was considerable. Dinner done, it
  fell, lying beneath the trees, now to jokes and now to easy
  speculation.

  “What is Marse Robert moving us for?”

  “Meade’s walking again. Stalking up and down north side of
  Rappahannock. Same as Burnside last year. Marse Robert’s bringing us
  and the ——th and ——th, over from Orange, to lay the ghost.—Oh, and I
  forgot the horse artillery!”

  “Horse artillery’s all right, down there by that sumach patch, eating
  parched corn.... This is what you might call golden weather. Listen to
  the crows. _Caw! caw! caw!_ Just like old Botetourt.”

  “If I were Allan Gold, I’d let that shoe alone. He can’t mend it.”

  “Whose shoe is it? Allan’s?”

  “No. It’s Lieutenant Coffin’s. He’s had a pale blue letter, and it
  said that the young lady was visiting in Fredericksburg—and ain’t we
  on the road to Fredericksburg?”

  “I see—I see!”

  “And of course lieutenant would like to have a whole shoe. You’d like
  it yourself under the circumstances. Allan’s mighty handy, and he told
  him he thought he could do it—”

  “If I had a knife—Allan! Here’s a scrap of good leather. Catch!—Ain’t
  no pale blue letter in mine. Wish there was.”

  Sergeant Billy Maydew, at the head of a small reconnoitring party,
  appeared and reported to the colonel. “We went to the river, sir, and
  two miles up and two miles down. As far as could be seen, things air
  all quiet. We thought we saw a smoke across the river—back agin’ the
  sky. We met a foraging party—cavalry. It said General Lee was at
  Kelly’s Ford, and that it was understood the enemy meant to cross.
  That air all I have to report, sir.”

  The column took again the road. Of the three regiments, the
  Sixty-fifth came last. Behind it rumbled a small wagon train, and in
  rear of these the battery from the horse artillery. The battery was an
  acquisition of the morning. It had come out of the yellow and red
  woods in the direction of Culpeper, and had proceeded to “keep
  company.” The Sixty-fifth liked the artillery very well, and now it
  fraternized as jovially as discipline would allow. “An old battery of
  Pelham’s? Pelham was a fighter! Saw him at Second Manassas with his
  arm up, commanding! Looked like one of those people in the old
  mythology book.—Glad to see you, old battery of Pelham’s!”

  The afternoon was a wonderful clear one of high lights and blue
  shadows, of crisply moving air. All vision was distinct, all sound
  sonorous. Even touch and taste and smell had a strange vigour. And, by
  way of consequence, all faculties were energized. Past and present and
  future came all together in the hands, in one wonderful spice apple.
  And then, just as life was most worth living, the column, the road
  bending, clashed against a considerable Federal force, that, crossing
  the Rappahannock at Beverly’s Ford, had come down the river through
  the wonderful afternoon.

  The Sixty-fifth fought from behind a brown swale of earth with a rail
  fence atop. The rails were all draped with travellers’ joy; together
  they made a flimsy screen through which sang the bullets. _Zipp!
  zziipp! zzzip!_ went the minies, thick as locusts in Egypt. The two
  other regiments ahead were fighting, too; the wagons were scattered,
  the horses stampeded, the negro teamsters ashen with panic. The
  battery of horse artillery drove in thunder to the front, the guns
  leaping, the drivers shouting, the horses red-nostrilled, wide-eyed.
  Down sprang the gunners, into action roared the pieces; there was a
  bass now to answer the minies’ snarling treble. But the blue had guns,
  too, more guns than the grey. They came pounding into the fight.

  The Sixty-fifth fought with desperation. It saw Annihilation, and it
  strove against it through every fibre. The men fired kneeling. The
  flame had scarcely leapt ere the hand felt for the cartridge, the
  teeth tore at the paper, the musket flamed again. The metal scorched
  all fingers; powder grime and sweat marred every face. The men’s lips
  moved rapidly, uttering a low monotone, or, after biting the
  cartridge, they closed and made a straight line in each
  powder-darkened countenance. A shell tore away a length of the fence,
  killing or maiming a dozen. Through the smoke was seen the foe,
  gathering for a charge. The charge came and was repelled, but with
  loss. Two captains were down, a lieutenant, many men. A gun, back on a
  hillside, was splitting the fence into kindling wood. The grey
  battery—the old battery of Pelham’s—silenced this gun, but others
  came. They bellowed from three different points. The grey battery
  began itself to suffer. Doggedly it poured its fire, but a gun was
  disabled, a caisson exploded, horses and men dead or frightfully hurt.
  The two forward regiments had a better position or met a less massed
  and determined attack. They had come upon a hornet’s nest, truly, but
  their fire at least kept the hornets at bay. But the Sixty-fifth was
  in the thick of it, and like to be overpowered. It had to get away
  from where it was in the cross-fire of the batteries—that was clear.
  Erskine dragged it back to a field covered with golden sedge. Out of
  the sheet of gold sprang small dark pines, and above the roar and the
  smoke was the transparent evening sky. Panting, devastated,
  powder-blackened, bleeding, the Sixty-fifth felt for its cartridges,
  bit them, loaded, fired on a dark blue wedge coming out of a wood. The
  wedge expanded, formed a line, came on with hurrahs. At the same
  instant a monster cylindrical shell, whooping like a demon, hurled
  itself against the grey battery. A second gun was put out of the
  fight. The sky went in flashes of red, the air in toppling crashes as
  of buildings in earthquake. When the smoke cleared, the blue had gone
  back again, but dead or dying in the sedge were many grey men. Colonel
  Erskine, slight, fiery, stood out, his hand pressing his arm from
  which blood was streaming. “Sixty-fifth Virginia! You’ve got as
  splendid a record as is in this army! You can’t run. There isn’t
  anywhere to run to.—White flag? No—o! You don’t raise a white flag
  while I command!—Put your back to the wall and continue your record!”

  “All right, sir,” said the Sixty-fifth. “All right—Oh, the
  colonel!—oh, the colonel—”

  The colonel fell, pierced through the brain. A captain took his place,
  but the captains, too, were falling....

  Billy Maydew and Allan Gold saw each other through a rift in the
  smoke. They were close together.

  “Billy,” said Allan, “I wish you were out of this.”

  “I reckon it’s the end,” said Billy, loading. “You look all kind of
  shining and bright, Allan.—Don’t you reckon Heaven’ll be something
  like Thunder Run?”

  “Yes, I do. Sairy and Tom, and the flowers and Christianna—”

  “And all the boys,” said Billy, “and the colonel—Here air the darn
  Yanks again—”

  A short-range engagement changed into hand-to-hand fighting. Already
  the aiding battery had suffered horribly. Now with a shout the blue
  pushed against it, seizing and silencing one of the two remaining
  guns. The grey infantry thrust back by the same onset, the grey
  artillerymen beaten from the guns, were now as one—four hundred grey
  men, perhaps, in a death clutch with twice their number. Down the road
  broke out a wilder noise of fighting—it would seem, somehow, that
  there was an access of forces.... The blue, immediate swarm was
  somehow pushed back. Another was seen detaching itself. The ranking
  officer was now a captain. He hurried along the front of the torn and
  panting line. “Don’t let’s fail, men!—Don’t let’s fail! Everybody at
  home—everybody at home knows we couldn’t—Give them as good as we take!
  Here they come!—Now—now!—”

  There was, however, a wavering. The thing was hopeless and the
  Sixty-fifth was deadly tired. With the fall of Erskine the trumpets
  had ceased to call. The Sixty-fifth looked at the loud and wide
  approach of the enemy, and then it looked sideways. Its lips worked,
  its eyelids twitched. The field of sedge expanded to a limitless
  plain, heaped all with the dead and dying. The air no longer went in
  waves of red; the air was sinking to a greenish pallor, with a
  sickness trembling through it. Here was the swarm of the enemy.... The
  Sixty-fifth knew in its heart that there was some uncertainty as to
  whether it would continue to stand. The day was dead somehow, the
  heart beating slow and hard....

  The blue overpassed the ruined, almost obliterated line of the rail
  fence, came on over the sedge. “Don’t let’s fail, men!” cried the
  captain. “Don’t let’s fail! We’ve never done it—Stand your ground!”—A
  minie ball entered his side. A man caught him, eased him down upon the
  earth. “Stand it out, men! stand it out!” he gasped.

  “_Sixty-fifth Virginia! Front! Fix bayonets! Forward! Charge!_”

  The Sixty-fifth Virginia obeyed. It wheeled, it fixed bayonets, it
  charged. It charged with a shout. As by magic, even to itself, its
  aspect changed. It was as though a full regiment, determined, clothed
  in the habit of victory, vowed to and protected by War himself, sprang
  across the sedge, struck against, broke and drove the blue. All the
  pallor went out of the atmosphere, all the faintness out of life.
  Every hue came strong, every line came clear, life was buoyant as a
  rubber ball.

  And now at last, as the blue fell back, as there came a shouting from
  down the road, as a mounted aide appeared,—“Hold your own! Hold your
  own! Stuart’s coming—horse and guns! Hold your own!”—as the smoke
  cleared, in the shaft of light that the westering sun sent across the
  field, the Sixty-fifth recognized why it had charged. In its ranks
  were men who had come in during the past year as recruits, or who had
  been transferred from other regiments. To these the Sixty-fifth
  apparently had charged, changing rout into victory, because a gunner
  from the disabled battery—the old battery of Pelham’s—had sprung
  forward, faced for an instant the Sixty-fifth, then with a waved arm
  and a great magnetic voice had ordered the charge and led it. But most
  of the men of the Sixty-fifth were men of the old Sixty-fifth. Now, in
  the face of another and violent rush of the foe, the Sixty-fifth burst
  into a shout. “_Richard Cleave!_” it shouted; “_Richard Cleave!_”


  Twenty-four hours later, a great red sun going down behind the pines,
  Cleave found himself summoned to the tent of the Commander of the
  Army. He went, still in the guise of Philip Deaderick. Lee sat at a
  table. Standing behind him were several officers, among them Fauquier
  Cary, now General Cary. Beyond these was another shadowy group.

  Lee acknowledged the gunner’s salute. “You have been known as Philip
  Deaderick, gunner in ——’s battery?”

  “Yes, sir.”

  “But you are Richard Cleave, colonel of the Sixty-fifth?”

  “I am Richard Cleave, sir. I was colonel of the Sixty-fifth.”

  Lee moved his head. The tent was filled with shadows. A negro servant,
  bringing a lamp, set it on the table. In at the tent flap came the
  multitudinous hushed sound of the gathering night. “Major Stafford!”
  said Lee.

  Stafford came out of the dusk and stood before the table. There were
  five feet of earth between him and Cleave. The latter drew a quickened
  breath and held high his head.

  “When,” asked Lee, watching him, “when did you last see the officer
  whom I have just called?”

  “Sir, I saw him at Chantilly, in the dusk and the rain—”

  “You knew that he was taken at Sharpsburg?”

  “Yes.”

  “He has been in prison ever since—until the other day when he broke
  prison. He has been, I think, in another and worse prison—the prison
  of untruth. Now he breaks that prison, too.—Major Stafford, you will
  repeat to Colonel Cleave what you have written in these letters”—he
  touched them where they lay upon the table—“and what you have to-day
  told to me.”

  Stafford’s controlled, slow speech ceased its vibration in the tent.
  It had lasted several minutes, and it had been addressed to a man who,
  after the first few words, stood with lowered eyes. It was a detailed
  explanation of what had occurred at White Oak Swamp in ’62, and it was
  given with a certain determined calm, with literalness, and with an
  absence of any beating of the breast. When it was ended there was a
  defined pause, then through the tent, from the great general at the
  table to the aide standing by the door, there ran a sound like a sigh.
  The man most deeply concerned stood straight and quiet. He stood as
  though lost in a brown study, like one who has attention only for the
  inward procession of events.

  Lee spoke. “As quickly as possible there shall be a public reversal of
  the first decision.” He paused, then rested his grave eyes upon
  Stafford. “As for you,” he said, “you will consider yourself under
  arrest, pending the judgment of the court which I shall appoint. You
  have done a great wrong. It is well that at last, with your own eyes,
  you see it for what it is.” He withdrew his gaze, rose, and going over
  to Cleave, took his hand. “You have gone through bitter waters,” he
  said. “Well, it is over! and we welcome back among us a brave man and
  a gallant gentleman! Forget the past in thought for the future! The
  Sixty-fifth Virginia is yours again, Colonel Cleave. Indeed, I think
  that after yesterday we could not get it to belong to any one else!”

  “Colonel Erskine, sir,—”

  From the shadow hard-by came Fauquier Cary’s moved voice. “Erskine
  would have rejoiced with the rest of us, Richard. He never believed—”

  “Come, General Cary,” said Lee, “and you, too, gentlemen,—come and
  give your hands to Colonel Cleave. Then we will say good night.”

  The little ceremony was over, the kindly words were spoken. One by one
  the officers saluted and left the tent, Fauquier Cary tarrying in
  obedience to a sign from Lee. When all were gone, the General spoke to
  Cleave whom he had been watching. “You would like a word alone with—”
  His eyes indicated Stafford.

  “Yes, General, if I may—”

  “I am going across for a moment to General Stuart’s. I will leave you
  here until I return.”

  He moved toward the tent opening. “Richard,” said Cary,—“Richard, I
  have no words—” He dropped his kinsman’s hands; then, in following
  Lee, passed within a few feet of Stafford. He made a gesture of
  indignation and grief, then went by with closed lips and eyelids that
  drooped. Stafford felt the scorn like a breath from hot iron.

  The tent was empty now save for the two. “We cannot stop here,” said
  Cleave. “I must go farther. Why have you changed? Or are we still
  wearing masks?”

  “If there is any mask I do not know it,” said the other. “What is
  change, and why do we change? We have not found that out. But there is
  a fact somewhere, and I have—changed. I will answer what you will not
  ask. I love her, yes!—love her so well now that I would have her
  happy. I have written to her, and in my letter I said farewell. She
  will show it to you if you wish.”

  “I do not wish—”

  “No,” said Stafford. “I believe that you do not. Richard Cleave, I
  have not somehow much feeling left in me, but.... You remember the
  evening of Chantilly, when I came to Pelham’s guns? In the darkness I
  felt you threatening me.”

  “Yes.”

  “Well, I did all that you knew of me, and I was all, I suppose, that
  you thought me.... There is never any real replacement, any real
  atonement. To my mind there is something childish in all our glib
  asking for forgiveness. I do not know that I ask you for your
  forgiveness. I wish you to know, however, that the old inexcusable
  hatred is dead in my soul. If ever the time arrives when you shall say
  to yourself ‘I forgive him’—”

  “I could say it for myself. I could not say it—not yet—_for the
  regiment_.”

  Stafford flung out his hand. “I, no more than you, foresaw that ambush
  beyond the swamp! I meant to procure what should seem your
  disobedience to General Jackson’s orders. I saw nothing else, thought
  of nothing else—”

  “If you had seen it—”

  The silence held a moment; then said the other painfully, “Yes. You
  are perhaps right. In what a gulf and hollow man’s being is rooted!...
  I will not ask again for what I see would be difficult for any man to
  give—Here is General Lee.”


  Cleave slept that night in the tent of Fauquier Cary. When, in the
  dusk of the morning, reveille sounding clearly through the woods by
  Rappahannock, he rose, and presently came out into the autumn world,
  an orderly met him. “There’s a negro and a horse here, sir, asking for
  you. He says he comes from your county.”

  From under the misty trees, out upon the misty road before the tent,
  came Tullius and Dundee. “Yaas, Marse Dick,” said Tullius. “Miss
  Margaret, she done sont us. She say she know all erbout hit, en’ that
  Three Oaks is er happy place!”



                               CHAPTER XX
                              CHICKAMAUGA


  “It is said to be easy to defend a mountainous country,” said General
  Braxton Bragg, commanding the Army of Tennessee, “but mountains hide
  your foe from you, while they are full of gaps through which he can
  pounce upon you at any time. A mountain is like the wall of a house
  full of rat-holes. Who can tell what lies hidden behind that wall?”

  The wall was the Cumberland Range. The several general officers,
  riding with General Bragg, uttered a murmur, whether of agreement or
  disagreement was not apparent.

  General D.H. Hill, lately sent from Virginia to the support of the
  forces in Tennessee, made a sound too gruff for agreement. He fell
  back a pace or two and drew up beside General Cleburne. “You _can_
  know mountainous country, you know,” he said. “It’s a matter of
  learning, like everything else.”

  “True enough,” agreed the other. “But there’s precious few of mankind
  with any talent for learning!”

  The group sitting their horses in the scrub oak, in the September
  sunshine, gazed in a momentary silence upon Pigeon Mountain and
  Missionary Ridge and the towering Lookout Mountain. Bragg, brave, able
  in his own way, but melancholy, depressed, ill in body and mind, at
  war with himself and all his subordinates, sat staring. Below him lay
  the slender valley of the Chickamauga. Clear, sinuous, the little
  stream ran between overbending shrubs and trees. A vague purple mist
  hung over the valley and the tree-clad slopes beyond. The knot of
  horsemen fell silent, there in the oak scrub, looking at the folds of
  the Cumberland Range. Past them on the Lafayette road marched
  endlessly the Army of Tennessee. Tanned and gaunt, ragged and
  cheerful, moving out from Chattanooga, but moving out, there was
  assurance, to give fight, by went the grey, patient, hardy legions,
  corps of Hill, Polk, Buckner, and Walker, divisions of Cheatham,
  Cleburne, Breckinridge, Liddell, Hindman, Bushrod Johnson, Preston,
  and Stewart. Colours, mounted officers, grey foot soldiers and grey
  foot soldiers and grey foot soldiers, the rumbling guns, old,
  courageous battalions, on they went, endlessly. The dust rose and
  clothed them; the purple mountains made a dreamy background. The
  party, sitting their horses on the scrub-covered low hill, looked
  again westward.

  Bragg spoke to one of his corps commanders, Leonidas Polk, bishop and
  general. “Chickamauga! This was Cherokee country, wasn’t it?”

  “Yes, General. Cherokee Georgia. Chief Ross had his house near here.
  ‘Chickamauga’ means _River of Death_. For ages they must have gone up
  and down, over these ridges and through these vales, hunting and
  warring, camping and breaking camp—”

  “Killing and being killed. We’ve only changed the colour, not the
  actuality. McLemore’s Cove! The scouts think that Rosecrans is going
  to push a column across Missionary Ridge and occupy McLemore’s Cove. I
  think they are mistaken. They are often mistaken.”

  “General Forrest—”

  “He is near Ringgold, I suppose. General Forrest does not keep me
  properly informed as to where he is—”

  Cleburne came in with his rich Irish voice. “Well, that would make
  quite a shower of notes, wouldn’t it, sir?”

  “I have never had the pleasure of meeting General Forrest,” said D.H.
  Hill. “He must be a remarkable man.”

  “He is a military genius of the first order,” said Cleburne.

  Bragg continued to gaze upon the Chickamauga. “The three gaps in
  Pigeon Mountain are Bluebird and Dug and Catlett’s. We will of course
  hold these, and if Crittenden or Thomas is really in McLemore’s Cove,
  I will dispatch a force against them. General Longstreet’s arrival
  cannot now be long delayed.”

  Longstreet, travelling from Louisa Court-House in Virginia by
  Petersburg, Wilmington, Augusta, and Atlanta, because Burnside held
  the shorter Knoxville route, had in all nine hundred miles to
  traverse, and to serve him and his corps but one single-track,
  war-worn grey railroad of dejected behaviour. Lone and lorn as was the
  railroad, it rose to the emergency and deserved the cheers with which,
  after long days of companionship, Longstreet’s troops finally quitted
  the rails. On the sixteenth the regiments of Hood began to arrive at
  Dalton. On this day also Rosecrans, a tenacious, able general,
  completed the drawing of his lines—eleven miles, northeast to
  southwest—from Lee and Gordon’s Mills on the east bank of Chickamauga
  to Stevens’s Gap in Lookout Mountain.

  On the eighteenth, General Bragg, at Lafayette, issued the following
  order:—


  “1. Bushrod Johnson’s column, on crossing at or near Reed’s Bridge
  will turn to the left by the most practical route, and sweep up the
  Chickamauga toward Lee and Gordon’s Mills.

  “2. Walker, crossing at Alexander’s Bridge, will unite in this move,
  and push vigorously on the enemy’s flank and rear in the same
  direction.

  “3. Buckner, crossing at Tedford’s Ford, will join in the movement to
  the left, and press the enemy up the stream from Polk’s front at Lee
  and Gordon’s.

  “4. Polk will press his forces to the front of Lee and Gordon’s Mills,
  and if met by too much resistance to cross, will bear to the right and
  cross at Dalton’s Ford or at Tedford’s, as may be necessary, and join
  the attack wherever the enemy may be.

  “5. Hill will cover our left flank from an advance of the enemy from
  the cove, and by pressing the cavalry on his front, ascertain if the
  enemy is reinforcing at Lee and Gordon’s Mills, in which event he will
  attack them in flank.

  “6. Wheeler’s cavalry will hold the gaps in Pigeon Mountain, and cover
  our rear and left and bring up stragglers.

  “7. All teams, etc., not with the troops should go toward Ringgold and
  Dalton beyond Taylor’s Ridge. All cooking should be done at the
  trains. Rations when cooked will be forwarded to the troops.

  “8. The above movements will be executed with the utmost promptness,
  vigour, and persistence.”


  “That’s an excellent order,” said D.H. Hill. “The only fault to be
  found with it is that it’s excellent-too-late. Some days ago was the
  proper date. Then we could have dealt with them piecemeal; now they’re
  fifty thousand men behind breastworks.”

  The aide wagged his head. “Even so, we can beat them, General.” D.H.
  Hill looked at him a little sardonically. “Of course, of course, we
  can beat them! But have you noticed how many men we lose in beating
  them? And have you any idea how we are to continue to get men? It
  takes time to grow oaks and men. What the South needs is some Cadmus
  to break the teeth out of skulls, sow them, and raise overnight a crop
  of armed men! There are plenty of skulls, God knows! We are seeing in
  our day a curious phenomenon. Armies are growing younger. We are
  galloping toward the cradle. The V. M.I. Cadets will be out presently,
  and then the nine- and ten-year-olds. Of course the women might come
  on afterwards, though, to tell the truth,” said Hill, “they’ve been in
  the field from the first.”

  “Here’s General Forrest.”

  Forrest rode up. “General Hill, ain’t it? Good morning, sir. I am
  going to fight my men dismounted. This is going to be an infantry
  battle.”

  “I have heard, General,” said Hill, “that you have never lost a fight.
  How do you manage it?”

  “I git there first with the most men.”

  “You don’t hold then with throwing in troops piecemeal?”

  “No,” said Forrest, with a kind of violence. “You kin play the banjo
  all right with one finger after another, but in war I clutch with the
  whole hand!”

  He rode on, a strange figure, an uneducated countryman, behind him no
  military training or influence, no West Point; a man of violences and
  magnanimities, a big, smoky personality, here dark, here clearly,
  broadly lighted. “He was born a soldier as men are born poets.”
  “Forrest!” said General Joseph E. Johnston long afterwards. “Had
  Forrest had the advantage of a military education and training, he
  would have been the great central figure of the war!”

  The sun of the eighteenth of September sank behind the mountains. A
  cool night wind sprang up, sighing through the bronzing wood and
  rippling the surface of the Chickamauga. Three brigades of Hood’s
  division, marching rapidly from Dalton, had come upon the field; with
  them Hood himself, with his splendid personal reputation, his blue
  eyes and yellow hair and headlong courage. He had now his three
  brigades and three of Bushrod Johnson’s. That churchman militant,
  Leonidas Polk, held the centre at Lee and Gordon’s Mills, and D.H.
  Hill the left. Joseph Wheeler and his cavalry watched the left flank,
  Forrest and his cavalry the right.

  The country was rough, the roads few and poor, the fords of the
  Chickamauga in the same category. Dusk of the eighteenth found Hood
  and Walker across the stream, but other divisions with the fords yet
  to make. At dawn of the nineteenth, the Army of the Cumberland began
  to put itself into position. In the faint light the outposts of the
  blue caught sight of Buckner’s division fording the Chickamauga at
  Tedford’s. In the mist and dimness they thought they saw only a small
  detached grey force. Three brigades of Brannan’s division were at once
  put forward. In the first pink light Buckner’s advanced brigade
  clashed with Croxton’s. With a burst of sound like an explosion in the
  dim wood began the battle of Chickamauga—one of the worst in history,
  twice bloodier than Wagram, than Marengo, than Austerlitz, higher in
  its two days’ fallen than Sharpsburg, a terrible, piteous fight.

  Forrest, on the right, was immediately engaged. “We’ve stirred up a
  yaller-jacket’s nest,” he said, and sent to General Polk a request for
  Armstrong’s division of his own corps. The centre needing cavalry,
  too, there was returned only Dibbrell’s brigade. Dibbrell’s men were
  dismounted, and together with John Pegram’s division—also, in this
  battle, acting foot soldiers—began a bloody, continued struggle. The
  point of the blue wedge had been four infantry brigades and one of
  cavalry, but now the thickness was disclosed, and it fairly proved to
  be Rosecrans in position. While the grey had moved up the Chickamauga,
  that able blue strategist, under the cover of night, had moved down
  the opposite bank. The grey crossed—and found their right enveloped!
  The Fourteenth Army Corps, George H. Thomas commanding, was here, and
  later there were reinforcements from the Twenty-first, Crittenden’s
  corps. The storm, beginning with no great fury, promptly swelled until
  it attained the terrific. Forrest sent again for infantry support.
  None came, the centre having its own anxieties. “If you want to git a
  thing done, do it yourself,” quoth Forrest, and rode up to John
  Pegram. “We’ve got to have more fighters and I’m going to fetch them.
  Hold your ground, General Pegram, I don’t care what happens!”

  “All right, sir. Neither do I,” said Pegram, and held it, with the
  loss of one fourth of his command. The pall of smoke settled, heavily,
  heavily! The dismounted troops fought here in the open, here behind
  piled brushwood and fallen logs, while the few grey batteries spoke
  from every little point of vantage. From the woods in front leaped the
  volleys of the blue, came whistling the horrible shells. The brushwood
  was set afire, the cavalrymen moving from place to place. They fought
  like Forrest’s men. Rifle barrels grew too hot to touch; all lips were
  blackened with cartridge powder. There was a certain calmness in the
  face of storm, _sotto voce_ remarks, now and then a chuckling laugh.
  The finger of Death was forever pointing, but by now the men were used
  to Death’s attitudinizing. They took no great account of the habitual
  gesture. When he came to sweep with his whole arm, then of course you
  had to get out of his way! The hot day mounted and the clangour of the
  right mounted. Back came Forrest, riding hard, at his heels the
  infantry brigades of Wilson and Walthall. A line of battle was formed;
  Wilson and Walthall, Dibbrell and Pegram and Nathan Bedford Forrest
  advancing with a yell, coming to close range, pouring volley after
  volley into the dense, blue ranks. The dense, blue ranks answered;
  Death howled through the vale of Chickamauga. Wilson’s men took a
  battery, hard fought to the last. The grey brigade of Ector came up
  and formed on Wilson’s right. Fiercely attacked, Ector sent an aide to
  Forrest. “General Forrest, General Ector is hard pressed and is uneasy
  as to his right flank.” Forrest nodded his head, his eyes on a Federal
  battery spouting flame. “Tell General Ector not to bother about his
  right flank! I’ll take care of it.” The aide went back, to find
  Wilson’s brigade, on Ector’s left, in extremity. Ector sent him again,
  and he found Forrest now in action, directing, urging his men forward
  with a voice like a bull of Bashan’s and with a great, warlike
  appearance. “General Forrest, General Ector says that his left flank
  is now in danger!” Forrest turned, stamped his foot, and shouted,
  “Tell General Ector that, by God! I am here, and I will take care of
  his left flank and of his right flank!”

  On went the grey charge, infantry and dismounted cavalry. _Yaaaaih!
  Yaaaaihhh! Yaaaaiiihhhh!_ it yelled and tossed its colours. Back it
  pressed the blue, back, back! The first line went back, the second
  line went back ... and then was seen through rifts in the smoke the
  great third line, breastworks in front.

  George Thomas was a fighter, too, and he flung forward Brannan and
  Baird and Reynolds, with Palmer and Van Cleve of Crittenden’s corps.
  Out of the smoky wood the blue burst with thunder, flanking Wilson and
  opening a furious enfilading fire. It grew terrible, a withering blast
  before which none could stand. Wilson was forced back, the whole grey
  line was forced back. Forrest’s guns were always clean to the front.
  They must be gotten back—but so many of the horses were dead or dying,
  and so many of the artillerymen. Those left put strength to the
  pieces, got them off, got them back through the brush in ways that
  could afterwards hardly be remembered. There was a piece entirely
  endangered—all the horses down and most of the men. Forrest shouted to
  four of his mounted escort. Cavalry dropped into the places of battery
  horses and drivers. In a twinkling they were harnessed—off went
  cavalry with the gun through the echoing wood, the smoke wreaths, and
  the shouting. The grey went back not far: the blue but regained their
  first position. It was high noon. Then entered the fight the divisions
  of Liddell and Cheatham.

  Liddell had two thousand men. Bursting through the undergrowth they
  came into hot touch with Baird’s re-forming lines. They broke the
  brigades of King and Scribner; they took two batteries; yelling, they
  pursued their victory. The smoke lifted. The two thousand were in the
  concave of a blue sickle, their line overlapped, right and
  left—Brannan’s men now and R.W. Johnson, of McCook’s corps. Liddell,
  wheeling to the right, beat from that deadly hollow a justifiable
  retreat.

  Cheatham came over a low hill with five brigades. It was a veteran
  division, predestined to grim fighting. Down on the Alexander Bridge
  road he formed his line, then, as Walker’s commands were pressed back,
  as the hurrahing blue columns swept forward, he entered the battle
  with the precision of a stone from David’s sling. The blue wavered,
  broke! In rushed Cheatham’s thousands, driving the foe, fiercely
  driving him. The foe withdrew behind his breastworks, and from that
  shelter turned against the grey a concentrated fire of musketry and
  artillery. The grey stood and answered with fury. The ground was all
  covered with felled trees, piles of brush-wood, timber shaken down
  like jackstraws. No alignment could be kept; the men fired in groups
  or as single marksmen. As such they strove to advance, as such they
  were mowed down. The blue began to hurrah. Palmer of Crittenden’s
  corps came swinging in with a flanking movement.

  But Palmer’s hurrahing lines were checked, as had been Brannan’s and
  Johnson’s. In through the woods, now all afire, came A. P. Stewart’s
  division of Buckner’s corps. Alabama and Tennessee, three thousand
  muskets, it struck Palmer’s line and forced it aside. Van Cleve came
  to help, but Van Cleve gave way, too, pressed by the grey across the
  vast, smoke-filled stage to the ridge crowned by earthworks that like
  a drop-scene closed the back. The roar of battle filled all space;
  officers could not be heard, nor, in the universal smoke, could waved
  sword or hat be seen. Off to the right, Forrest’s bugles were ringing.
  Now and then drums were beaten, but this noise seemed no louder than
  woodpeckers tapping, lost in the crash of the volleys. Alabama and
  Tennessee pressed on. It was half past two o’clock.

  Hood had three brigades of his own division and three of Bushrod
  Johnson’s, and now, from the Lee and Gordon’s Mills road, Hood,
  unleashed at last, entered the battle. Into it, yelling and firing,
  double-quicked his tall grey lines. He came with the force of a
  catapult. _Yaaaih! Yaaaiiiihhh!_ yelled Tennessee, North Carolina,
  Arkansas, and Texas. They struck the Chattanooga road and drove the
  blue along it, toward the westering sun. Up at a double swung the
  fresh blue troops of Negley and Wood, Davis and Sheridan. In the
  descending day they pushed the grey again to the eastward of the
  contested road.

  At sunset in came Patrick Cleburne, general beloved, marching with his
  division over wildly obstructed roads from Hill on the extreme right.
  But it was late and the dark and smoky day was closing down. Night
  came, filled with the smell and taste of burned powder and of the wood
  smoke from all the forest afire. The firing became desultory, died
  away, save for now and then a sound of skirmishers. The two armies,
  Army of Tennessee, Army of Cumberland, rested.

  They rested from strife, but not from preparation for strife. The two
  giants, the blue and the grey, were weary enough, but between
  Chickamauga and the slopes of Missionary Ridge they did small sleeping
  that Saturday night, the nineteenth of September, 1863. All night rang
  the axes. “Log-works,” said the grey giant. “At dawn, I am going to
  storm log-works.” Fifty-seven thousand strong was the blue giant and
  the grey about the same. “To-morrow’s fight,” said both, “is going to
  lay over to-day’s.” “Where,” said, in addition, the grey—“where is
  General Longstreet?”

  The soldiers who might sleep, slept on their arms, under a sulphurous
  canopy. All the forest hereabouts was thick with brushwood and
  summer-parched. It burned in a hundred places. The details, gathering
  the wounded, carried torches. It was lurid enough, all the far-flung
  field. There were very many wounded, many dead. Blue and grey alike
  heard the groaning of their fallen. _Ahh! ahhh!_ groaned the forest.
  And the word that was always heard, as soon as the guns were silent,
  was heard now, steady as cicadas in a grove. _Water! Water! Water!
  Water! Water!_ There was a moon, but not plainly seen because of the
  gauze that was over the earth. A chill and restless night it was,
  filled with comings and goings, and movements of large bodies of
  troops.

  Just before midnight Longstreet appeared in person. The weary grey
  railroad had brought him, in the afternoon, to Catoosa platform, near
  Ringgold. With two aides he took horse at once and pushed out toward
  the field of action. But the woods were thick and the roads an
  unmarked tangle. He came at last upon the field and met General Bragg
  at midnight. Behind him, yet upon the road, were three brigades of
  Hood’s division and Kershaw’s and Humphrey’s, of McLaws’s.

  There was a council of war. It was understood, it was in the air, that
  the past day had been but a prelude. Now Bragg announced to his
  officers a change of plan. The Army of Tennessee was divided into two
  wings. The right was composed of Walker’s and Hill’s corps, Cheatham’s
  division, and the cavalry of Forrest. Leonidas Polk commanded here.
  The left was formed by Hood’s and Buckner’s corps, the division of
  Hindman, and Joe Wheeler’s cavalry, and Longstreet commanded this
  wing.

  “And the plan of attack?”

  “As it was to-day. Successive pushes from right to left. The attack to
  begin at daylight.”

  But daylight was not far away, and the movements to be made were many.
  The sun was above the tree-tops when Breckinridge advanced upon the
  Chattanooga road and opened the battle of the twentieth. “Sunday,”
  said the men. “Going to church—going to church—going to a little
  mountain church! Going to be singing—Minie singing. Going to be
  preaching—big gun preaching. We’ve got what the General calls a
  _ponshon_ for Sunday service.... Lot of dead people in this wood.
  Haven’t you ever noticed how much worse a half-burned cabin looks than
  one burned right down? That one over there—it looks as if home was
  still a-lingering around. Go ’way! it does! You boys haven’t got no
  imagination.—No imagination—no imagination—No shoes and pretty nearly
  no breakfast.... I wish this here dust was imagination—

            “The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home;
              ’T is summer, the darkies are gay,
            The corn-top’s ripe and the meadow’s in the bloom,
              While the birds make music all the day.”

  “Birds all fly away from battle-fields”—“Not when there are nestlings!
  Saw a tree set on fire by hot shot from Yankee gunboat on the
  Tennessee. Marched by it when it was jest a pillar of flame, and, by
  gum! there was a mocking-bird dead on her nest, with her wings spread
  out over the little birds. All of them dead.... It made you wonder.
  And, by gum! the captain, when he saw it—the captain saluted!”

            “The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
              All merry, all happy and bright;
            By ’n’ by hard times comes a-knocking at the door,
              Then, my old Kentucky home, good night!”

  “Whew! That’s a pretty line of breastworks over there before Helm’s
  brigade! Reckon that’s what Billy Yank was building all night
  long!—Helm’s going forward—” _Kentuckians! Charge bayonets!
  Double-quick!_

  Helm was killed, heroically leading his brigade. The colonel of the
  Second Kentucky was killed, the colonel of the Ninth badly wounded.
  The Ninth lost a third of its number. “I went into the fight,” says
  the colonel of the Second, “with thirty officers and two hundred and
  seventy-two men, and came out with ten officers and one hundred and
  forty-six men. Both officers and men behaved gallantly.” The colonel
  of the Fourth was badly wounded; the Sixth had its losses; the
  Forty-first Alabama went in with something over three hundred men, and
  lost in killed twenty-seven, in wounded, one hundred and twenty. Three
  captains of the Second were killed at the foot of the works, and the
  colour-sergeant, Robert Anderson, having planted the flag a-top, died
  with his hands about the staff. Adams’s Louisiana brigade came to the
  help of Helm. Adams, severely wounded, was taken prisoner. The combat
  raged, bitter and bloody. There was a long, long line of well-erected
  breastworks, with a shorter line at right angles. The divisions of
  Thomas fought grimly, heroically; the brigades of Breckinridge went to
  the assault as heroically. Nowadays no Confederate brigade, no
  Confederate regiment, had full complement of muskets. They were
  skeleton organizations, gaunt as their units, but declining to merge
  because each would keep its old, heroic name. Spare as they were, they
  threw themselves, yelling, against the log-works. Breckinridge was
  tall and straight and filled with fiery courage. Vice-President, on a
  time, of the United States, now grey general on the chessboard, he
  showed here, as there, a brilliant, commanding personality. His men,
  proud of him, fought with his own high ardour. The withering blast
  came against them; they shouted and tossed it back. Now there came
  also against the breastworks the division of Cleburne.

  Patrick Romayne Cleburne,—thirty-six years old, but with greying hair
  above his steel-grey eyes, Irishman of the county of Cork, one time
  soldier in the English army, then lawyer in the city of Helena and the
  State of Arkansas, then private in the Confederate army, then captain,
  then colonel, then brigadier, and now major-general,—Patrick Cleburne
  commanded a division that, also, had its personality. The division’s
  heart and his heart beat in unison. “He was not only a commander, but
  a comrade fighting with his men.” Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama,
  Mississippi, and the Irish regiment adored Cleburne, and Cleburne
  returned their love. “To my noble division,” he wrote to a lady, “and
  not to myself, belong the praises for the deeds of gallantry you
  mention.” Cleburne’s division had its own flags, and on each was
  worked a device of “crossed cannon inverted,” and the name of the
  battle-fields over which it had been carried. “Prior to the battle of
  Shiloh,” says General Hardee, “a blue battle-flag had been adopted by
  me for this division, and when the Confederate battle-flag became the
  national colours, Cleburne’s division, at its urgent request, was
  allowed to retain its own bullet-ridden battle-flags.... Friends and
  foes soon learned to watch the course of the blue flag that marked
  where Cleburne was in the battle. Where this division defended, no
  odds broke its lines where it attacked, no numbers resisted its
  onslaught—save only once—and there is the grave of Cleburne and his
  heroic division.” Now at Chickamauga, Cleburne and forty-four hundred
  bayonets swung into battle to the support of Breckinridge. Before
  Cleburne, also, at short range, were breastworks, and now from these
  there burst a tempest of grape and canister, with an undersong of
  musketry. It was a fire that mowed like a scythe. Wood’s brigade had
  to cross an old field bordering the Chattanooga road, an old field
  marked by a burning house. Crossing, there burst against it, from
  hidden batteries to right and left, a blast as from a furnace seven
  times heated. Five hundred men fell here, killed and wounded. On the
  left Lucius Polk’s brigade came against breastworks cresting a hill
  covered with scrub oak. Blue and grey engaged with fury. Down poured
  the blast from the ridge, canister and grape and musketry. Lucius
  Polk’s men lay down behind the crest of a lower ridge, and kept up the
  fight, losing in no great time three hundred and fifty officers and
  men. Deshler’s brigade moved forward. A shell came shrieking, struck
  Deshler in the breast, and killed him. Cleburne shook his head. “Too
  much loss of good life!”—and withdrawing the division four hundred
  yards, took up a strong defensive position.

  Breckinridge and Cleburne, there was loss of life enough. What was
  gained was this: Thomas called for reinforcements, and Rosecrans, to
  strengthen his left, began to weaken his right. To the aid of Baird
  and Johnson, Palmer and Reynolds behind the breastworks, came first a
  brigade of Negley’s division, then regiments from Palmer’s reserve,
  and then from the left troops of McCook and Sheridan.

  The divisions of Gist and Liddell, Walker’s corps, moved to the aid of
  Breckinridge, Gist throwing himself with fury against the works before
  which Helm had fallen. It was eleven o’clock. Bragg ordered in
  Stewart’s division. The three brigades—Clayton, Brown, and
  Bate—charged under a deadly fire, “the most terrible fire it has ever
  been my fortune to witness.” Brown’s men, exposed to an enfilade,
  broke, but Clayton and Bate rushed on past the clearing, past the
  burning house, past the Chattanooga road. They drove the blue within
  entrenchments, they took a battery and many prisoners. Thomas sent
  again to Rosecrans, and Rosecrans further weakened his right. His
  adjutant forwarded an order to McCook. The left must be supported at
  all hazards, “even if the right is drawn wholly to the present left.”
  After Van Cleve had been sent, and Sheridan and Negley, there came yet
  another message that the left was heavily pressed. The aide bringing
  it stated that Brannan was out of line and Reynolds’s right exposed.
  Rosecrans sent an order to Wood, commanding a division—

  “_The general commanding directs that you close up on Reynolds as fast
  as possible and support him_.”

  It was the fatal, the pivotal order. Wood moved—and left a great
  opening in the blue line of battle. Toward the filling of this gap
  there moved with precision two brigades of Sheridan’s. But some one
  else moved first, with a masterful change of plan, made with the
  swiftness of that glint of Opportunity’s eye.

  Longstreet had made a column of attack, three lines, eight brigades.
  Long, grey, magnificent, these moved forward, steady as steel, eyes
  just narrowed in the face of the hurricane of shot and shell. “Old
  Pete,” “the old war horse,“ rode with them, massively directing. The
  smoke was drifting, drifting over the field of Chickamauga, over the
  River of Death and the slopes of Missionary Ridge. Underfoot was dust
  and charred herbage and the dead and the wounded. On the right the
  roar of the fight never ceased—Forrest, Breckinridge, Cleburne,
  Walker, Stewart, and George Thomas behind his breastworks.

  Longstreet with his eight brigades, swinging toward the right, saw,
  through a rift in the smoke, the movement of Wood and the gap which
  now, suddenly, was made between the Federal right and left. A kind of
  slow light came into Longstreet’s face. ”_By the right flank,
  wheel!—Double-quick!—Forward! Charge!_”

  Hood was leading. His line struck like a thunderbolt the foe in
  reverse, struck McCook’s unprepared brigades. There sprang and swelled
  an uproar that overcrowed all the din to the right. McCook broke, the
  grey drove on. They yelled. _Yaaaih! Yaaaihhh! Yaaaaihh!_ yelled the
  grey. Hood rose in his stirrups and shouted an order to Bushrod
  Johnson. “Go ahead, and keep ahead of everything!” A minie ball
  shattered his thigh. He sank from his horse; Law took command; on
  swept the great charge. Brigades of Manigault and Deas, McNair, Gregg,
  Johnson, Law, Humphrey, Benning, with Patton Anderson, of Hindman’s
  division, they burst from the forest into open fields running through
  smoky sunshine backward and upward to ridges crowned by Federal
  batteries. All these broke into thunder, loud and fast, but the blue
  infantry, surprised, broken, streamed across the fields in disorder.
  Behind them came the vehement charge, long, triumphant, furious, with
  blare and dust and smoke and thunder, with slanted colours, with
  neighing chargers, with burning eyes and lifted voices. All the élan
  of the South was here. Brigade by brigade, Longstreet burst from the
  forest. Yelling, this charge drove the blue from their breastworks,
  took the house that was their headquarters, took twenty-seven pieces
  of artillery, and more than a thousand prisoners, laid hand upon
  hospitals and ordnance trains, slew and wounded and bore the blue
  back, back! McCook suffered heavily, oh, heavily! “I have never,” says
  D.H. Hill,—“I have never seen the Federal dead lie so thickly on the
  ground save in front of the sunken wall at Fredericksburg.”

  There was a line of heights behind the Vidito house, beyond the
  Crawfish Spring road. Thomas seized these, and here the blue rallied
  and turned for a yet more desperate struggle. It came. Hindman and
  Bushrod Johnson proposed to take those heights by assault. They took
  them, but at a cost, at a cost, at a cost! When they won to the Vidito
  house, the women of the family left whatever hiding-place from the
  shells they had contrived, and ran, careless of the whistling death in
  the air, out before the house. They laughed, they wept, they welcomed.
  “God bless you! God bless you! It’s going to be a victory! It’s going
  to be a victory! God bless you!” The grey, storming on, waved hat and
  cheered. “It’s going to be a victory! It’s going to be a victory! God
  bless you!”

  Up on the sides of the ridge it came to hand-to-hand fighting, a
  dreadful, prolonged struggle, men clubbing men with muskets, men
  piercing men’s breasts with bayonets, men’s faces scorched, so near
  were they to the iron, flaming muzzles! Over all roared the guns,
  settled the smoke; underfoot the earth grew blood-soaked. Inch by inch
  the grey fought their way; inch by inch the blue gave back, driven up
  the long slope to the very crest of the ridge. The sun was low in the
  heavens.

  On Horseshoe Ridge the fight grew fell. And now came to the aid of the
  right wing, came in long, resistless combers, the brigades of Hill.
  They came through the woods afire, over the clearings sown with dead
  and wounded, up the slope of Horseshoe. Once more the summit flamed
  and thundered—then the blue summit turned grey. Over the crest, down
  the northern slope of the ridge swept the united wings, right wing and
  left wing. They made a thresher’s fan; before it the blue fell away,
  passed from the slope into deep hollows of the approaching night.
  Right wing and left wing shouted; they shouted until Lookout Mountain,
  dark against the sunset sky, might have heard their shouting.

  On the field of Chickamauga, by the River of Death, thirty thousand
  men lay dead or wounded, or were prisoners or missing. If there were
  Indian spirits in these woods they might have said in council that
  September night: “How fierce and fell and bloody-minded is this white
  man who wars where once we warred! Look at the long files of his
  ghost, rising like mist from Chickamauga, passing like thin smoke
  across the moon!”



                              CHAPTER XXI
                            MISSIONARY RIDGE


  All day the twenty-first the shattered blue army lay in position at
  Rossville, five miles away. But Bragg, his army likewise shattered and
  exhausted, his ammunition failing, did not attack. At night Rosecrans
  withdrew to Chattanooga, entrenching himself there. On the
  twenty-second, Bragg followed, and took up position on Missionary
  Ridge and along the lower slopes of Lookout. The blue base of supplies
  was at Stevenson, in Alabama, forty miles away. Cut the road to this
  place and Rosecrans might be compelled to evacuate Chattanooga.

  Bragg sent Law’s brigade to hold the Jasper road. Wheeler, too, in a
  raid, wrought mischief to the blue. To the latter the possession of
  the Tennessee River and the building of a bridge became of supreme
  importance. Down the stream Rosecrans sent fifteen hundred men and a
  flotilla of pontoons, while a land force marched to guard them. Before
  the grey could gather to the attack the bridge was built. A day or two
  later came to the aid of the blue “Fighting Joe” Hooker and two corps
  of the Army of the Potomac. On the twenty-second of October, Grant
  arrived in Chattanooga and superseded Rosecrans.

  There occurred the night battle of Wauhatchie,—four brigades of Hood’s
  attacking Geary’s division of the Twelfth Corps,—a short, hard fight,
  where each side lost five hundred men and nothing gained. But now to
  the South to lose five hundred men was to lose five hundred drops of
  heart’s blood, impossible of replacement. Men now in the South were
  worth their weight in gold.

  There came to the grey camps news that Sherman, with a considerable
  force, was on the road from Memphis. Hooker, with the Eleventh and
  Twelfth Corps, was here. Grant was here. From the Knoxville side
  Burnside threatened. Action became imperative.

  Bragg acted, but not, perhaps, with wisdom. On the fourth of November,
  Longstreet’s corps and Wheeler’s cavalry found themselves under orders
  for Knoxville. Longstreet remonstrated, but orders were orders. Grey
  First Corps, grey cavalry marched away, marched away. The weakened
  force before Chattanooga looked dubious, shook its head. Later, Bragg
  detached two other brigades from the thin grey lines and sent them
  after Longstreet on the Knoxville campaign. Burnside was to be fought
  there, and here were only Hooker, Grant, and Sherman!

  Ten thousand infantry and artillery, five thousand horse, marched
  away. The loss at Chickamauga had been perhaps sixteen thousand. What
  remained of the Army of Tennessee had to hold an eight-mile line. It
  was a convex; right and left in hollow ground, the centre on the flank
  of Lookout Mountain and the crest of Missionary Ridge. On the
  twenty-second, Grant began under cover certain operations.

  In this region the weather is mild, even on the twenty-fourth of
  November. A crimson yet burned in the oak leaves, and the air, though
  mist-laden, was not cold. Grey cliffs form a palisade on Lookout
  Mountain. Above is the scarped mountain-top, below, long wooded slopes
  sinking steeply to the levels through which bends and bends again the
  Tennessee. One grey brigade—Walthall’s Mississippi brigade—was
  stationed on this shoulder of Lookout; below it steep woods, above it
  the cliffs, with creepers here and there yet scarlet-fingered. The day
  was tranquil, quiet, pearly grey, with fog upon the mountain-head.
  From early morning the fog everywhere had been very dense, so dense
  that men could not be distinguished at a hundred yards. It was known
  that affairs were on the point of moving. Walthall and his
  Mississippians were alert enough—and yet the day and the woods and the
  whole far-flung earth were so dreamy-calm, so misty-still, that any
  battle seemed impossible of quick approach. There was the odour of wet
  earth and rotting leaves, there was the dreamy, multitudinous forest
  stir, there was the vague drifting mist—the soul was lulled as in a
  steady boat. Walthall’s men rested on the earth, by quiet little
  camp-fires. Their arms were at hand, but it seemed not a day of
  fighting. The day was like a grey nun. The men grew dreamy, too. They
  drawled their words. “This air a fine view, when it’s right clear,”
  they said. “Yes. This air a fine view. But when the Lord laid out the
  Tennessee River he surely took the serpent for a pattern! He surely
  did. Never see such a river for head and tail meeting—and I’ve seen a
  lot of rivers since Dan Tucker rang the court-house bell, and we all
  stood around and heard Secession proclaimed. Yes, sir. I’ve seen a lot
  of rivers,—big rivers and little rivers and middle-sized rivers,—but I
  never see a river twisted like the Lord’s twisted the Tennessee!”—“I
  wish,” said a comrade, “that the Lord’d come along and put his finger
  and thumb together and flip away those danged batteries over there on
  Moccasin Point—jest flip them away same as you’d flip a pig-nut. Kind
  of funny looking over there to-day anyhow! Ef I had a glass—”

  “Captain’s got a glass. He’s looking—”

  “So much fog you can’t see nothing. There’s batteries on the Ridge
  beyond Lookout Creek, too—”

  “I kin usually feel it in my bones when we’re going to have a fight.
  Don’t feel nothing to-day, but just kind of studious-like. The world’s
  so awful quiet.”

  “Cleburne’s men are away off there at Chickamauga Creek—”

  “Most of the enemy’s tents are gone,” said the captain, “and they have
  removed their pontoon bridges. When this fog lifts—”

  Walthall came by, talking to his adjutant. “As far as you can tell for
  the fog they are moving rapidly on the left. General Stevenson showed
  me an order from General Bragg. Stevenson has the whole defence on
  this side of Chattanooga Creek.”

  “Do you think they will attack to-day?”

  “Who can tell? If this miserable fog would lift—”

  _Crack! crack! crack! crack!_ out of the woods to the westward rang
  the muskets of the picket line. Instantaneously, from the batteries on
  Moccasin Point, from the batteries on the ridge over the creek, sprang
  a leap of light that tore the fog. Followed thunder, and the ploughing
  of shells into the earth of Lookout. The grey brigade sprang to arms.
  In tumbled the pickets. “Yankees above us—”

  “Above—!”

  The Lookout cliffs were tall and grey. They crowned the mountain with
  an effect from below of robber castles. The November woods were so
  sere and leafless that in clear weather, looking up the long slopes,
  you would see with distinctness wall and bastion. Today there was fog,
  fog torn by the crowding yellow flashes of many rifles. The flashes
  came from the base of the cliffs. They came from blue troops, troops
  that had crept from the west, around the shoulder of Lookout, along
  the base of the cliffs—troops that were many, troops of Hooker’s that
  had come up from the valley of Lookout Creek, stealing up the mountain
  in silence and security, in the heavy fog. Now they hurrahed and
  sprang down from among the cliffs. Many and ready, they dropped as
  from the clouds; they took the grey brigade in reverse. And with
  instantaneous thunder the batteries opened all along the front.

  The blue—Geary’s division—came over the shoulder of the mountain in
  three lines. From time to time in the past weeks the grey had
  constructed rude works of stones and felled wood. Now the men fought
  from one to another of these; withdrawn from one base to a second,
  from a second to a third, they fought from facet to facet of Lookout.
  The ground was intolerably rough, with boulder and fallen timber and
  snares of leafless vines. Now the grey were upon a slope where the
  casemented batteries of Moccasin Point had full play. There was an old
  rifle-pit dug downward and across. It gave the men passing over this
  shoulder a certain vague and ineffective shelter. Walthall’s men,
  forced from Lookout, came to Craven’s house, and here, in hollow
  ground, made a stand and sent for reinforcements. Pettus’s brigade
  appearing at last, the fight was renewed. It waged hotly for a while,
  but the odds were great. The November day spread its mists around.
  Mississippi and Alabama fought well on Lookout; but there was somehow
  a sinking at the heart, a dreary knowledge that Grant had perhaps a
  hundred thousand men and the Army of Tennessee a third of that number;
  that General Bragg was a good man, but not a soldier like Lee or
  Jackson or Johnston; that Longstreet should never have been detached;
  that there was a coldness in this thickening fog; that the guns on
  Moccasin Point were as venomous as its name; and that War was a
  nightmare oftener than one would think. Two months had passed since
  Chickamauga. That was a great battle, that was a great, glorious,
  terrible, hot-blooded, crashing battle, with the woods ringing and the
  blue breaking before you! This was not that. Two months of sickness,
  two months of hard picketing, two months of small rations and
  difficult to get, two months of dissatisfaction with the commanding
  general and his plan of campaign, of constant criticism, of soreness,
  of alternation between the fractious and the listless, two months of
  fretting and waiting in an unhealthy season, in an unhealthy
  situation,—the Army of Tennessee was in a conceiving mood that
  differed palpably from the mood of Chickamauga! It was ready for
  bogies, ready for—what? It did not know. At dusk the command that had
  been posted on Lookout, pressed backward and down throughout the foggy
  day, halted at the foot of the mountain, on the road leading outward
  and across a half-mile of valley to Missionary Ridge. Here in darkness
  and discontent it waited until midnight, when, under orders from
  Cheatham, it sank farther down to McFarland’s Spring. At dawn it was
  marched across the lowland to Missionary Ridge, and was put into
  position on that solemn wave of earth. It found here the other
  commands forming the Confederate centre.

  Patrick Cleburne, ordered with his division after Longstreet on the
  Knoxville expedition, received at Chickamauga Station a telegram from
  the general commanding. “We are heavily engaged. Move up rapidly to
  these headquarters.”

  Cleburne moved. That night, the night of the twenty-third, he spent
  immediately behind Missionary Ridge. With the first light he began to
  construct defences. It was known now that in great force Grant had
  crossed the Tennessee, both above and below Chickamauga. It was known
  that the great blue army, Grant with Sherman and Hooker, had burst
  from Chattanooga like a stream in freshet; the dark blue waves were
  seen wherever the fog parted. They coloured all the lowland; they
  lifted themselves toward the heights. Already the waves had taken
  Lookout; already they were lapping against the foot of Missionary.
  Cleburne held the hollow ground on the right of Missionary, near the
  tunnel of the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad. His orders were to
  hold this right at all hazards. Cleburne obeyed. There was a detached
  ridge which he wished to gain before the blue, now rapidly advancing,
  should gain it. He sent Smith’s Texas brigade, but the blue had
  greatly the start. When the Texans reached the foot of the ridge, they
  were fired upon from the top. Smith, turned by his right flank,
  climbed Missionary Ridge and took position upon its crest.

  Below, in the hollow ground stretching toward the Chickamauga,
  Cleburne disposed the remainder of his troops. Hardee, experienced,
  able, stanch, came and approved. They burned a bridge across the
  Chickamauga. Dark was now at hand. The fog was disappearing, but the
  flames from the burning bridge had a curious, blurred, yellow,
  heatless effect. An aide came up with news.

  “They’ve overrun Lookout, sir. Our men there have come over to
  Missionary.”

  “What loss?”

  “I don’t know, sir. Some one said they came like driftwood. I know
  that there’s a flood gaining on us.”

  “Where there’s a flood,” said Cleburne, “thank the Saints, there’s
  usually an Ark! Set the axes to work, Major. We’re going to run a
  breastwork along here.”

  There was that night an eclipse of the moon. The men who were making
  the breastwork stopped their work when the blackness began to steal
  across. They watched it with a curious look upon their lifted faces.
  “That thar moon,” said a man,—“that thar moon is the Confederacy, and
  that thar thing that’s stealing across it—that thar thing’s the End!”

  “That ain’t the kind of talk—”

  “Yes, it is the kind of talk! When you’ve come to the End, I want to
  know it. I ain’t a-going to stop building breastworks and I ain’t
  a-going to stop biting cartridges, but I want to know it. I want to be
  able to point my finger and say, ‘Thar’s the End.’”

  The black moved farther upon the silver shield. All the soldiers
  rested on their axes and looked upon it. “When the Confederacy ends I
  want to end, too,—right then and thar and hand in hand! But the
  Confederacy ain’t going to end. I reckon we’ve given it enough blood
  to keep it going!”

  But the first speaker remained a pessimist. “What we give our blood to
  is the earth and the sea. We don’t give no blood to the Confederacy.
  The Confederacy ain’t gaining blood; she’s losing blood—drop by drop
  out of every vein. She lost a deal at Chickamauga and she’s going to
  lose a deal—”

  “The black is three quarters over. God! ain’t it eerie?”

  “The man that says the Confederacy is going to end is a damned coward
  and traitor! That thing up there ain’t nothing but a passing shadow—”

  Cleburne came by. “Too dark to dig, boys? Never mind! There’ll be
  light enough by and by.”

  The black veil drew across, then slowly passed. Cold and bright the
  moon looked down. Cleburne’s men built their breastwork, then,
  straightening themselves, wiped with the back of their hands the sweat
  from their brows. Their work had made them warm, but now was felt the
  mortal chill of the hour before dawn. The woods began to sigh. They
  made a mysterious, trembling sound beneath the concave of the sky. The
  sky paled; on the east above the leafless trees came a wash of purple,
  desolate and withdrawn. The November day broke slowly. There was a
  mist. It rose from the streams, it hung upon bush and tree, it hid
  enemy from enemy, it almost hid friend from friend.

  With the light came skirmishing, and at sunrise the batteries opened
  from the ridge the blue had seized. At ten o’clock there arrived the
  Federal advance upon this front. It came through the light mist, in
  two long lines of battle. Its bands were playing. Davis’s division,
  three divisions of Sherman’s, Eleventh Corps of the Army of the
  Potomac, Sherman commanding all. There was a hill near the tunnel, and
  Cleburne held this and the woodland rolling from the right. He had
  guns in position above the tunnel gaping like a black mouth in the
  hillside, gaping at the hurrahing rush of Sherman’s men.

  All day on this right the conflict howled. Hardee and Hardee’s corps
  were cool and stanch; Cleburne was a trusted man, hilt and blade.
  Sherman launched his thunderbolts, blue charge after blue charge;
  “General Pat” flung them back. The sky was dark with the leaden rain;
  the November woods rang; Tunnel Hill, Swett’s and Key’s batteries,
  flamed through the murk; Texas and Arkansas, Georgia and Tennessee,
  grappled with Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio. All day, to and fro, in
  the leafless woods, under the chill sky, over a rugged ground, they
  swung and swayed. Now the blue seemed uppermost, and now the grey, but
  at last the grey charged with bayonets. After this the blue rested, a
  sullen sea, held back by Tunnel Hill and all the grey-hued slopes
  around. The afternoon was well advanced, the smoke-draped woods dim
  enough. Cleburne’s men smiled, nodding their heads. “That old eclipse
  wa’n’t nothing! This Confederacy’s immortal—Yes, she is! She’s got a
  wreath of immortelles.—I’m going to ask General Pat if she hasn’t! You
  artillerymen did first-rate, and we infantry did first-rate, and if
  the cavalry hadn’t been sent away I reckon they’d have done as well as
  it lies in cavalry to do.—Now, if the centre and the left—”

  A courier came over stock and stone, pushing a foam-flecked
  horse—“General Cleburne!—Order from General Hardee—”

  Cleburne read: “_General: Send at once all possible troops to support
  centre. It’s much in danger._”

  Cleburne took Cummings and Maney and with them set face to Missionary
  Ridge. A little way through the darkening wood and a gasping aide met
  him—“From General Hardee, sir! They’ve pierced our centre. They’re on
  the Ridge—they’ve overflowed Missionary Ridge. We’re all cut to pieces
  there—demoralized.—General Hardee says, form a line so as to meet
  attack. Do the best you can for the safety of the right wing—”

  Missionary Ridge rose two hundred feet. It rose steeply, with a narrow
  plateau a-top. It was seamed with gullies, shaggy with woods. In
  places, however, the wood had been cleared, leaving the stumps of
  trees, gaunt, with sere, slippery grass between. At the foot of the
  Ridge were grey works, and now, within the last twenty-four hours, the
  grey had built other works along the crest. For lack of
  entrenching-tools and of time, they were slight enough—a shallow
  ditch, a slight breastwork, dark against a pallid sky. Here, at the
  top of Missionary, and there at the foot, were gathered the
  Confederate centre, together with the troops driven yesterday from
  Lookout. Missionary Ridge was like a crag, rising from a blue,
  determined sea.

  Officers looked at the lines. “What do you think of it?”

  “Bad.”

  “Even here at the top we don’t command all approaches.”

  “No. Those ravines are natural covered ways. They can come close and
  our guns never harm them.”

  “Do you understand this order?”

  “No. I don’t—”

  “Brigades to divide. One half to defend the foot of Missionary, one
  half to remain on crest. If the enemy attacks in force, fire
  once’—that is, the force at the foot fire once—‘and retire to the
  works above—’ H’mmm!”

  This day was not the humid, languid, foggy day of yesterday. It was
  cool and still, but the sun was out. The Confederate centre, high on
  Missionary, saw to-day its foe.

  The foe was massing, massing, on level and rolling ground below. In
  the amber air it could be plainly seen. It was in two vast lines of
  battle, with large reserves in the background, and hovering
  skirmishers before. The grey, watching, estimated its front, from wing
  to wing, as two and a half miles. Being formed, it advanced a mile and
  stood. Now it could be seen with extreme plainness, a blue sea just
  below. It had, as always, many bands and much music. These made the
  air throb. At intervals, like blossoms in a giant’s garden, swayed the
  flags. The crest of Missionary watched.

  “They’re the boys for an imposing advance!”

  “How many d’ye suppose they’ve got?”

  “Don’t know. Don’t know about Ulysses. Xerxes had a million.”

  “Hope they’re all there. Hope they aren’t trying any flank and rear
  foolishness.”

  “Hope not, but I wouldn’t swear to it! I’ve got a distrust of
  Grant—though it may not be well founded, as the storekeeper said when
  the clerk and the till were found on the same train.”

  “Wish there was water up here on Sinai! My mouth’s awful dry.”

  A man spat. “It’s curious how many this morning I’ve heard say their
  mouth was awful dry and they felt a little dizzy—”

  “It’s the altitude.”

  “Six hundred feet? No. It’s something else. I don’t know just what it
  is—”

  Voices died. There fell a quiet as before a thunderstorm, an
  oppressive quiet. Missionary Ridge, its brows faintly drawn and
  raised, looked forth upon the sea. The sea stood broodingly quiet,
  without music now, the coloured blossoms still upon their stems. It
  held and held, the quietude.

  Far off a dozen cannon boomed—Sherman’s sullen last attack upon
  Cleburne. The grey ridge, the blue sea, bent heads to one side,
  listening. The far-off iron voices ceased to speak. Silence fell
  again. Up on Missionary a lieutenant drew his hand across his
  forehead. When it fell again to the sword hilt the palm was wet with
  sweat, the back was wet. The lieutenant was conscious of a slight
  nausea. There was a drumming, too, in his ears. He took himself to
  task. “This will never do,” he said; “this will never do—” Suddenly he
  thought, “The men are looking at me”—and stood up very straight,
  smiling stiffly.

  Off on the horizon three cannon spoke, one after the other, with the
  effect of a signal. The sound died into silence—there followed a
  moment of held breath—the storm broke.

  All the great blue guns—and they were many—opened upon the grey
  centre. There burst a howling, a shrieking, a whistling of artillery.
  The sky grew suddenly dark. From Missionary the grey answered, but it
  was a far lesser storm that they could launch. So much the lesser
  storm it was that it may be said that Missionary early saw its fate,
  towering, resistless, close. The sea lifted itself, moving forward
  like a spring tide while the cannon shook the firmament. It moved so
  close that the face of it was seen, it moved so close that the eyes of
  it were seen. It came like the tide that drags under the rocks.

  Then was shown the fatalness of that order. All the grey troops at the
  foot of Missionary fired with precision, one point-blank volley in the
  face of the sea. _If they advance in force, fire once and fall back—If
  they advance in force, fire once and fall back._

  Only officers, and not all the officers, knew that the order was of
  hours’ standing. As for the men, they only saw that after one volley
  they were in retreat. The lines above only saw that after one volley
  the lines below were in retreat. Over Missionary ran something like
  the creeping of flesh at midnight when the nightmare is felt in the
  room. The grey troops of the lower line began to climb. Before them
  rose the scarped earth, boulder-strewn, seamed and scarred, here with
  standing wood, here with crops of tree-stumps like dark mushrooms.
  Behind them was the dark blue shouting sea, and all the air was mere
  battle-smoke and thunder. The artillery echoed frightfully. It was as
  though the mountains of the region were convoluted walls of a vast
  shell. The vibrations were flung from one wall to another; they never
  passed out of that wildly disturbed, hollow chamber. So loud were the
  cracks of sound, so steady the humming, that orders, right or wrong,
  that encouraging shouts of officers, were not well heard. In the
  tormenting roar, with the knowledge of the lost left, in ignorance of
  Cleburne’s dogged stand on the right, with a conception, like a
  darting spark in the brain, of the isolation of Missionary, of fewness
  of numbers, of a lack here of leadership, with a feeling of impotence,
  with a feeling of dread, the grey lower lines began to climb
  Missionary to the upper lines. At first they went steadily, in fair
  order.... The surges of sound and light filled the universe. A sudden
  message rocked through every brain. _They’re coming after us, over the
  breastworks!_ Instantaneously the waves of light passed into waves of
  darkness. With a shriek as of a million minies came panic Fear.

  On the slopes of Missionary there was now no order. It was _sauve qui
  peut_. The blue tide overswept the breastworks and came on, and the
  grey fled before it.

  In this war it had come to the grey, as it had come to the blue, to
  retreat, to retreat hastily and in confusion, to retreat disordered.
  The grey, as the blue, had some acquaintance with Panic, had
  occasionally met her in the road. But to-day Panic meant not to stop
  at a bowing acquaintance. She aimed at a closer union and she attained
  her end. Each man there felt her bony clutch upon his throat and her
  arms like a Nessus shirt about his body....

  Up—up—up! and the dark tree-stumps got always in the way. Men stumbled
  and fell; rose and went blindly on again—save those whom the black
  hail from the guns had cut down forever. These lay stark or writhing
  among the stumps. Their pale fellows went by them, gasping,
  fleet-footed. Up—up—up!

  The troops upon the crest, white-faced, tight-lipped, at last received
  the lower line, staggering figures rising through the murk. Officers
  were here, officers were there, hoarse-voiced, beseeching. There came
  at the top a wraithlike order out of chaos; there was achieved a
  skeleton formation. But many of the men had rushed below the Ridge,
  stumbling down into the protecting forest, their hands to their heads.
  Others fell upon the earth and vomited. Many were wounded, and now,
  memory returning where they lay sunk together on the level ground,
  they began to cry out. All were as ghastly pale as bronze could turn,
  from all streamed the sweat. When they staggered into line, as many,
  Panic to the contrary, did stagger, their hands shook like leaves in
  storm. For minutes they could not duly handle their pieces. To the
  line a-top of Missionary, the line looking down upon the mounting
  tide, they were as an infectious disease. It was horrible to see
  Terror and the effect of Terror; it was horrible to feel finger-tips
  brushing the throat.

  In the mean time the tide mounted. It had no orders to mount. It was
  expected, when the lower line was taken, that it would wait for some
  next indicated move. But always the higher grey line was raining fire
  upon it, the grey batteries were spouting death. It became manifest
  that the road of safety was up Missionary. On its top grew the nettle
  Danger from which only might be plucked the flower Safety. The blue
  kept on because that was the best thing and only thing to do.
  Moreover, they soon found that the gullies and miniature ridges of
  Missionary afforded protection. The whole vast wave divided into six
  parties of attack, and so came up the face of Missionary.

  “Who,” asked Grant from the eminence where he stood,—“who ordered
  those men up the hill?”

  He spoke curtly, anger in his voice. “Some one will suffer for it,” he
  said, “if it turns out badly.”

  But, for the blue, it did not turn out badly....

  When the thunder and shouting was all over, when the short desperate
  mêlée was ended, when the guns were silenced and taken, when the blue
  wave had triumphed on the height of Missionary, and the grey had
  fallen backward and down, when the pursuit was checked, when the
  broken grey army rested in the November forest, when the day closed
  sombrely with one red gleam in the west, three soldiers, having
  scraped together dead leaves and twigs and lit a fire, nodded at one
  another across the blaze.

  “Didn’t I tell you,” said one, “that that thar moon was the
  Confederacy and that that thar thing stealing across it was the End?”

  “And didn’t I tell you,” said the second, “that thar don’t nothing
  end? Ef a thing has been, it Is.”

  “Well, I reckon you’ll allow,” spoke the third, “that we’ve had an
  awful defeat this day?”

  “A lot of wise men,” said the second, “have lived on this here earth,
  but the man that’s wise enough to tell what’s defeat and what isn’t
  hasn’t yet appeared. However, I’ll allow that it looks like defeat.”

  “Wouldn’t you call it defeat if every army of us surrendered, and they
  took down the Stars and Bars from over the Capitol at Richmond?”

  “Well, that depends,” said the second. “Got any tobacco?”

  That same night Bragg crossed the Chickamauga, burning the bridges
  behind him. The Army of Tennessee fell back to Ringgold, then to
  Dalton. While at this place, Bragg, at his own request, was relieved
  from command. The Army of Tennessee came into the hands of Joseph E.
  Johnston.



                              CHAPTER XXII
                                 DALTON


  On the twelfth of March, 1864, Ulysses S. Grant was placed in command
  of all the Federal armies, and on the twenty-sixth joined the army in
  Virginia. He says:—

  “When I assumed command of all the armies, the situation was about
  this: the Mississippi was guarded from St. Louis to its mouth; the
  line of the Arkansas was held, thus giving us all the Northwest north
  of that river. A few points in Louisiana, not remote from the river,
  were held by the Federal troops, as was also the mouth of the Rio
  Grande. East of the Mississippi we held substantially all north of the
  Memphis and Charleston railroad as far east as Chattanooga, thence
  along the line of the Tennessee and Holston Rivers, taking in nearly
  all of the State of Tennessee. West Virginia was in our hands, and
  also that part of old Virginia north of the Rapidan and east of the
  Blue Ridge. On the seacoast we had Fort Monroe and Norfolk, in
  Virginia; Plymouth, Washington, and New Berne, in North Carolina;
  Beaufort, Folly and Morris Islands, Hilton Head and Port Royal, in
  South Carolina, and Fort Pulaski, in Georgia; Fernandina, St.
  Augustine, Key West, and Pensacola, in Florida. The remainder of the
  Southern territory, an empire in extent, was still in the hands of the
  enemy.

  “Sherman, who had succeeded me in the command of the Military Division
  of the Mississippi, commanded all the troops in the territory west of
  the Alleghanies and north of Natchez, with a large movable force about
  Chattanooga.... In the East, the opposing forces stood in
  substantially the same relations toward each other as three years
  before or when the war began; they were both between the Federal and
  Confederate capitals.... My general plan now was to concentrate all
  the force possible against the Confederate armies in the field. There
  were but two such ... east of the Mississippi River and facing north;
  the Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee commanding, was
  on the south bank of the Rapidan, confronting the Army of the Potomac;
  the second, under General Joseph E. Johnston, was at Dalton, Georgia,
  opposed to Sherman, who was still at Chattanooga. Besides these main
  armies the Confederates had to guard the Shenandoah Valley—a great
  storehouse to feed their armies from—and their line of communications
  from Richmond to Tennessee. Forrest, a brave and intrepid cavalry
  general, was in the West with a large force, making a larger command
  necessary to hold what we had gained in Middle and West Tennessee....
  I arranged for a simultaneous movement, all along the line.”

  “On the historic fourth day of May, 1864,” says General William T.
  Sherman, “the Confederate army at my front lay at Dalton, Georgia,
  composed, according to the best authority, of about forty-five
  thousand men, commanded by Joseph E. Johnston, who was equal in all
  the elements of generalship to Lee, and who was under instructions
  from the war powers in Richmond to assume the offensive northward as
  far as Nashville. But he soon discovered that he would have to conduct
  a defensive campaign. Coincident with the movement of the Army of the
  Potomac, as announced by telegraph, I advanced from our base at
  Chattanooga with the Army of the Ohio, 13,559 men; the Army of the
  Cumberland, 60,773; and the Army of the Tennessee, 24,465—grand total,
  98,797 men and 254 guns.”

  Johnston took command at Dalton in December and spent the winter
  bringing back efficiency to the shaken Army of Tennessee. In his
  account of the following campaign, he says: “An active campaign of six
  months, half of it in the rugged region between Chattanooga and
  Dalton, had so much reduced the condition of the horses of the cavalry
  and artillery, as well as of the mules of the wagon-trains, that most
  of them were unfit for active service.... In the course of an
  inspection, and as soon as practicable, I found the condition of the
  army much less satisfactory than it had appeared to the President on
  the twenty-third of December. There was a great deficiency of
  blankets; and it was painful to see the number of bare feet in every
  regiment.... There was a deficiency in the infantry, of six thousand
  small arms.... The time of winter was employed mainly in improving the
  discipline and instruction of the troops and in attention to their
  comfort. Before the end of April more than five thousand absentees had
  been brought back to their regiments. Military operations were
  confined generally to skirmishing between little scouting parties of
  cavalry of our army with pickets of the other.... The effective
  strength of the Army of Tennessee, as shown by the return of May
  first, 1864, was 37,652 infantry; 2812 artillery, and 2392 cavalry....
  On the fifth, the Confederate troops were formed to receive the
  enemy.... My own operations, then and subsequently, were determined by
  the relative forces of the armies, and a higher estimate of the
  Northern soldiers than our Southern editors and politicians, or even
  the Administration, seemed to entertain. This opinion had been formed
  in much service with them against Indians, and four or five battles in
  Mexico—such actions, at least, as were then called battles.
  Observation of almost twenty years of service of this sort had
  impressed on my mind the belief that the soldiers of the Regular Army
  of the United States were equal in fighting qualities to any that had
  been found in the wars of Great Britain and France. General Sherman’s
  troops, with whom we were contending, had received a longer training
  in war than any of those with whom I had served in former times. It
  was not to be supposed that such troops, under a sagacious and
  resolute leader, and covered by entrenchments, were to be beaten by
  greatly inferior numbers. I therefore thought it our policy to stand
  on the defensive, to spare the blood of our soldiers by fighting under
  cover habitually, and to attack only when bad position or division of
  the enemy’s forces might give us advantages counterbalancing that of
  superior numbers. So we held every position occupied until our
  communications were strongly threatened; then fell back only far
  enough to secure them, watching for opportunities to attack, keeping
  near enough to the Federal army to assure the Confederate
  Administration that Sherman could not send reinforcements to Grant,
  and hoping to reduce the odds against us by partial engagements.” And
  later, of the situation in July before Atlanta: “The troops
  themselves, who had been seventy-four days in the immediate presence
  of the enemy, labouring and fighting daily, enduring toil and
  encountering danger with equal cheerfulness, more confident and
  high-spirited even than when the Federal army presented itself before
  them at Dalton, and though I say it, full of devotion to him who had
  commanded them, and belief of ultimate success in the campaign, were
  then inferior to none who ever served the Confederacy or fought on
  this continent.”

  And again, toward the elucidation of this campaign, General Sherman
  speaks: “I had no purpose to attack Johnston’s position at Dalton in
  front, but marched from Chattanooga to feign at his front and to make
  a lodgment in Resaca, eighteen miles to his rear, on his line of
  communication and supply. This movement was partly but not wholly
  successful; but it compelled Johnston to let go at Dalton and fight us
  at Resaca, where, May thirteenth to sixteenth, our loss was 2747 and
  his 2800. I fought offensively and he defensively, aided by earth
  parapets. He fell back to Calhoun, Adairsville, and Cassville.... I
  resolved to push on toward Atlanta by way of Dallas. Johnston quickly
  detected this, and forced me to fight him, May twenty-fifth to
  twenty-eighth, at New Hope Church, four miles north of Dallas.... The
  country was almost in a state of nature—with few or no roads, nothing
  that an European could understand.... He fell back to his position at
  Marietta, with Brush Mountain on his right, Kenesaw his centre, and
  Lost Mountain his left. His line of ten miles was too long for his
  numbers, and he soon let go his flanks and concentrated on Kenesaw. We
  closed down in battle array, repaired the railroad up to our very
  camps, and then prepared for the contest. Not a day, not an hour, not
  a minute, was there a cessation of fire. Our skirmishers were in
  absolute contact, the lines of battle and the batteries but little in
  rear of the skirmishers, and thus matters continued until June
  twenty-seventh, when I ordered a general assault ... but we failed,
  losing 3000 men to the Confederate loss of 630. Still the result was
  that within three days Johnston abandoned the strongest possible
  position and was in full retreat for the Chattahoochee River. We were
  on his heels; skirmished with his rear at Smyrna Church on the fourth
  day of July, and saw him fairly across the Chattahoochee on the tenth,
  covered and protected by the best line of field entrenchments I have
  ever seen, prepared long in advance. No officer or soldier who ever
  served under me will question the generalship of Joseph E.
  Johnston.... We had advanced into the enemy’s country one hundred and
  twenty miles, with a single-track railroad, which had to bring
  clothing, food, ammunition, everything requisite for 100,000 men and
  23,000 animals. The city of Atlanta, the gate city opening the
  interior of the important State of Georgia, was in sight; its
  protecting army was shaken but not defeated, and onward we had to
  go.... We feigned to the right, but crossed the Chattahoochee by the
  left, and soon confronted our enemy behind his first line of
  entrenchments at Peach Tree Creek, prepared in advance for this very
  occasion. At this critical moment the Confederate Government rendered
  us most valuable service. Being dissatisfied with the Fabian policy of
  General Johnston, it relieved him and General Hood was substituted to
  command the Confederate army. Hood was known to us to be a ‘fighter.’
  ... The character of a leader is a large factor in the game of war,
  and I confess I was pleased at this change.”


  But in the early Georgian spring, pale emeralds and the purple mist of
  the Judas tree, July and that change were far away. The Army of
  Tennessee, encamped in and around Dalton, only knew that “Old Joe” was
  day by day putting iron in its veins and shoes upon its feet; that the
  commissariat was steadily improving; that the men’s cheeks were
  filling out; that the horses were growing less woe-begone; that camp
  was cheerful and clean, that officers were affable, chaplains
  fatherly, and surgeons benevolent; that the bands had suddenly plucked
  up heart; that the drills, though long, were not too long; that if the
  _morale_ of the Army of Tennessee had been shaken at Missionary Ridge,
  it had now returned, and that it felt like cheering and did cheer “Old
  Joe” whenever he appeared. Men who had been wounded and were now well;
  men who had been on furlough, men who had somehow been just “missing,”
  came in steadily. Small detachments of troops appeared, also, arriving
  from Canton, Mississippi, and from northern Alabama. The Army of
  Tennessee grew to feel whole again—whole, bronzed, lean, determined,
  and hopeful.

  From northern Alabama came in March the ——th Virginia. For the ——th
  Virginia there had been the siege of Vicksburg and the surrender; then
  the long slow weeks at Enterprise, where the Vicksburg men were
  reorganized; then service with Loring in northern Mississippi; then
  duty in Alabama. Now in the soft spring weather it came to Dalton and
  the Army of Tennessee.

  The village was filled with soldiers. The surrounding valley was
  filled with soldiers. From the valley, rude hills, only partially
  cleared, ran back to unbroken woods. There was Crow Valley and Sugar
  Valley, Rocky Face Mountain, Buzzard Roost and Mill Creek Gap, and
  many another pioneer-named locality. And in all directions there were
  camps of soldiers. Sometimes these boasted tents, but oftenest they
  showed clusters or streets of rude, ingenious huts, brown structures
  of bark and bough, above, between, and behind them foliage and bloom
  of the immemorial forest. Officers had log cabins, very neatly kept,
  with curls of blue smoke coming out of the mud chimneys. Headquarters
  was in the village, a white house with double porch, before it
  headquarters flag, and always a trim coming and going. At intervals
  the weary and worn engines, fed by wood, rarely repaired, brought over
  an unmended road a train of dilapidated cars and in them forage,
  munitions, handfuls of troops. But in the increasing confidence at
  Dalton, in the general invigoration and building-up, the tonic air,
  the running of the sap, the smiling of the world, even the East
  Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia, and the Western and Atlantic,
  roadbed and rolling-stock and force of men, took on, as it were, an
  air of lively instead of grim determination. Outside of the town was
  the parade ground. Drill and music, music and drill, and once or twice
  a great review! Here came Johnston himself, erect, military,
  grey-mustached, with a quiet exterior and an affectionate heart, able
  and proud. With him rode his staff. Staff more than worshipped
  Johnston; it loved him. Here, too, came the lieutenant- and
  major-generals—Hardee, one of the best—and Hood the “fighter,”
  well-liked by the President—Patrick Cleburne and Cheatham and Stewart
  and Carter Stevenson and Walker, and many another good leader and
  true. Here the artillery, reorganized, was put through manœuvres, and
  Joe Wheeler’s cavalry trotted across, and in the morning light the
  bugles blew. It was a lovely Southern spring, with soft airs, with
  dogwood stars and flame-coloured azalea, with the fragrance of the
  grape and the yellow jessamine, with the song of many a bright bird,
  building in the wood. The Army of Tennessee, strong at Chickamauga,
  fallen ill at Missionary Ridge, convalescent through the winter, was
  now in health again.

  There was a small house, half hidden behind two huge syringa bushes.
  It had a bit of lawn no bigger than a handkerchief, and the bridal
  wreath and columbines and white phlox that bordered it made the
  handkerchief a lace one. Here lived Miss Sophia and Miss Amanda,
  gentlewomen who had seen better days, and here “boarded,” while the
  army was at Dalton, Désirée Cary.

  Miss Sophia designed and carried out wonderful bouquets of wax
  flowers. Miss Amanda was famed for her bead bags and for the
  marvellous fineness of her embroidery. Miss Sophia was a master-hand
  at watermelon rind “sweetmeats,” carving them into a hundred pretty
  shapes. Miss Amanda was as accomplished in “icing” cakes. Sweetmeats
  and wedding and Christmas cakes, embroidery, and an occasional order
  of wax flowers had for years “helped them along.” Long visits, too,
  after the lavish, boundless Southern fashion, to kinsfolk in South
  Georgia had done much;—but now there was war, and the kinsfolk were
  poor themselves, and nowhere in the wide world was there a market for
  wax flowers, and there was no sugar for the sweetmeats, and no frosted
  cakes, and life was of the whole stuff without embroidery! War
  frightfully snatched their occupation away. As long as they could
  visit, they visited, and they valiantly carded lint and knit socks and
  packed and sent away supplies and helped to devise substitutes for
  coffee and tea and recipes for Confederate dishes. But kinsmen had
  died on the field of battle, and kinswomen had grown poorer and
  poorer. One had made her way to Virginia where her boy was in
  hospital, and another had gone to Savannah, and another’s house had
  been burned. Miss Sophia and Miss Amanda had retired up-country to
  this extremely small house which they owned. Beside it and its
  furniture they apparently owned nothing else. Even the stout, sleepy
  negro woman in the kitchen was a loan from the last visited
  plantation. Désirée, applying for board, was manna in the wilderness.
  They took her—with faintly flushed cheeks and many apologies for
  charging at all—for fifty dollars a week, Confederate money. She had a
  bare white room with a sloping roof and a climbing rose. There was a
  porch to the house, all bowered in with clematis and honeysuckle. Miss
  Sophia and Miss Amanda rarely sat on the porch; they sat in the
  parlour, where there were the wax flowers and a wonderful sampler and
  an old piano, and, on either side the fireplace, a pink conch shell.
  So Désirée had the porch and the springtime out of doors.

  Captain Edward Cary’s beautiful wife made friends quickly. Officers
  and men, the ——th Virginia had now for months rested her bound slave.
  It was not long before that portion of the Army of Tennessee that had
  occasion from day to day to pass the house began to look with
  eagerness for the smiling eyes and lips of Désirée Gaillard. Sometimes
  she was out in the sunshine, gravely pondering the lace border of the
  handkerchief. Army of Tennessee lifted hat or cap; she smiled and
  nodded; Army of Tennessee went on through brighter sunshine. She was
  presently the friend of all. After a while Johnston himself, when he
  rode that way, would stop and talk; Hardee and Cleburne and others
  often sat beneath the purple clematis and, sword on knees, talked of
  this or that. They sent her little offerings—small packets of coffee
  or of sugar, once a gift of wine, gifts which she promptly turned over
  to the hospital. If they had nothing else, they brought her, when they
  rode in from inspection of the scattered camps, wild flowers and
  branches of blossoming trees.

  Edward came to her when it was possible. The ——th Virginia was
  encamped among the hills. Often at dusk he found her at the gate, her
  eyes upon the last soft bloom of the day. Or, if she knew that he was
  coming, she walked out upon the road toward the hills. The road was a
  place of constant travel. Endlessly it unrolled a pageant of the
  times. War’s varied movement was here, the multiplicity of it all; and
  also the unity as of the sound of the sea, or the waving of grass on a
  prairie. Troops, incoming or outgoing,—infantry, artillery,
  cavalry,—were to be found upon it. The commissariat went up and down
  with white-covered wagons. Foragers appeared, coming in to camp with
  heterogeneous matters. Ordnance wagons, heavy and huge, went by with a
  leaden sound. Mules and negroes abounded—laughter, adjuration, scraps
  of song. Then came engineers, layers-out of defences and the
  clay-plastered workers upon them. Country people passed—an old
  carryall filled with children—a woman in a long riding-skirt and
  calico sun-bonnet riding a white horse, gaunt as death’s own—sickly
  looking men afoot—small boys, greybeards, old, old negroes hobbling
  with a stick—then, rumbling in or out, a battery, the four guns very
  bright, the horses knowing what they drew, breathing, for all their
  steadiness, a faint cloud of brimstone and sulphur, the spare
  artillerymen alongside or seated on caissons—then perhaps cavalry, man
  and horse cut in one like a chesspiece—then a general officer with his
  staff—couriers, infantry, more foragers, a chaplain bound for some
  service under the trees, guard details, ambulances, more artillery,
  more cavalry, commissariat, “Grand Rounds,” more infantry.... Désirée
  loved the road and walked upon it when she liked. She grew a known
  figure, standing aside beneath a flowering tree to let the guns go by,
  or the heavy wagons; moving, slender and fine, upon the trampled verge
  of the road, ready with a friendly nod, a smile, a word—a beautiful
  woman walking as safely upon a military road as in a hedged garden.
  The road loved to see her; she was like a glowing rose in a land of
  metal and ore. And when a mile from town, perhaps, she met her
  husband, when, turning, she came with him back through the sunset
  light, when they moved together, of a height, happy, it was as though
  beings of another race trod the road. There needed no herald to say,
  “These are gods!”

  But much of the time Désirée was alone. She asked for work at the
  hospital and was given it, and here she spent several hours of each
  day. There were no wounded now at Dalton, only the ill, and these in
  the wisely cared-for, steadily built-up army, lessened always in
  number. Suffering there was, however, now as always; moanings and
  tossings, delirium, ennui, pain to be assuaged, crises to be met, eyes
  to be closed, convalescence to be tended. In Dalton as elsewhere the
  Confederate women nursed with tenderness the Confederate ill. Désirée
  did her part, coming like something cordial, something golden, into
  the whitewashed ward. When her hours were over, back she came to the
  house behind the syringas, bathed and dressed, and ate with Miss
  Sophia and Miss Amanda a Confederate dinner. Then for an hour they
  sewed and knitted and scraped lint; then, when the afternoon had
  lengthened, she took the palmetto hat she had braided and went out of
  the lace handkerchief yard to the road and walked upon it.

  Miss Sophia and Miss Amanda had attacks of remonstrance. “Dear Mrs.
  Cary, I don’t think you should! A young woman and—pardon us if we seem
  too personal—and beautiful! It’s not, of course, that you would suffer
  the least insult—but it is not customary for a lady to walk for
  pleasure on a public road where all kinds of serious things are going
  on—”

  Désirée laughed. “Not if they are interesting things? Dear Miss
  Sophia, I stopped at the post-office and brought you a letter.”

  Miss Sophia put out her hand for the letter, but she held to her text
  a moment longer. “I do not think that Captain Cary should allow it,”
  she said.

  The letter was from Richmond, from the cousin who had gone to nurse
  her son. Miss Sophia read it aloud.


  MY DEAR SOPHIA:—

  I am here and George is better—thank God for all His mercies! The
  wound in the leg was a bad one and gangrene set in, necessitating
  amputation, and then came this pneumonia. He will live, though, and I
  shall bring my son home and keep him while I live! The city is so
  crowded, it is frightful. We in Georgia do not yet know the horrors of
  this war. I could hardly find a place to lay my head, but now a
  billiard-room in a hotel has been divided off into little rooms, each
  no bigger than a stall in my stable, and I have one of these. I go for
  my meals to a house two streets away, and I pay for shelter and food
  twenty-five dollars a day. Flour here is two hundred and fifty dollars
  a barrel. Butter is twelve dollars a pound. We live on cornbread, with
  now and then a little bacon or rice. Yesterday I bought two oranges
  for George. They were eight dollars apiece. Oh, Sophia, it’s like
  having George a little boy again! Two days ago there was a dreadful
  excitement. I heard the cannon and the alarm bell. George was a little
  light-headed and he would have it that there was a great battle, and
  that the boys were calling, and he must get up! At last I got him
  quiet, and when he was asleep and I went to supper I was told that it
  was a Yankee raid, led by an officer named Dahlgren, who was killed.
  The reserves had been called out and there was great excitement. We
  have since heard fearful reports of the object of the raid. The
  President and his Cabinet were to be killed, the prisoners freed and
  set to sacking the city which was then to have been burned. Oh, my
  dear Sophia, what a world we live in! I was in Richmond on my wedding
  journey. I feel dazed when I think of now and then. Then it was all
  bright-hued and gay; now it is all dark-hued, with the strangest
  restlessness! I never saw so many women in black. You always hear
  military sounds, and the people, for one reason or another, are out of
  doors in great numbers. The church bells have been taken down to be
  melted into cannon. The poverty, the suffering, the crowding are
  frightful. But I do not believe there is another such people for
  bearing things! George is a great favourite in the ward. They say he
  has been so patient and funny. My dear Sophia, I always think of you
  with your plum-colour silk bag and your spools of embroidery thread! I
  wish I had those spools of thread. Yesterday I had to do some mending,
  and I went out and bought one spool for five dollars.—George is waking
  up! I will write again. If he only gets well, Sophia,—he and the
  country!

                    Your affectionate cousin,

                                                               —— ——

  Miss Sophia folded the letter. “Dear George! I am glad enough that he
  will get better. He was a sad tease! He used to say the strangest
  things. I remember one day he said that behind Amanda embroidering he
  always saw a million shut-in women sticking cambric needles into the
  eyes of the future. And he said that I had done the whole world in
  wax, and he wondered how it would be if we ever got before a good hot
  fire.—He wasn’t lacking in sense either, only it never had a chance to
  come out, Maria spoiling him so, and darkeys and dogs always at his
  heels.—No, dear Mrs. Cary, you’re a young woman, and—you’ll pardon me,
  I know!—a beautiful one, and I don’t think Captain Cary ought to allow
  it!”

  March went, April went, May came. On the first of May, Désirée,
  walking on the road, thought she observed something unusual in the
  air. Presently there passed cavalry, a great deal of cavalry. She
  leaned against a wayside tree and watched. Presently there rode an
  officer whom she knew.

  He lifted his hat, then pushed his horse upon the dusty turf beneath
  the tree. “We’re ordered out toward the Oostenaula! Sherman’s in
  motion. The volcano is about to become active.”

  “Is it going to overflow Dalton?”

  “Well, it would seem so! Though sometimes there’s a new crater. We’ll
  see what we’ll see. Anyhow, Cary’ll be sending you to the rear.”

  “I’ll fall back when the army falls back.”

  Edward came that night and plead with her. She could go to Kingston on
  the cars and thence to Rome to the westward, out of the region of
  danger—

  “Edward,” she said, “haven’t I been a good campaigner?”

  “The best—”

  “Then, when you can do a thing well, why do something else poorly?
  This is the way I am going to live, and when you wed me you wed my way
  of life.”

  “If harm came to you, Désirée—”

  “And I might say, ‘If harm came to you, Edward,’—I know that harm may
  come to you, but—I don’t say it, and you must not say it either. With
  you is my home, my Cape Jessamine, and I am not going to leave it.”

  “With you is my home, my Cape Jessamine—and all the gods know I love
  you here—”

  “I am not going to Rome. Let us walk a little, in the moonlight.”

  The next day came in from Savannah Mercer’s brigade of fourteen
  hundred. On the third the scouts reported a great force of the enemy
  at Ringgold. On this day, too, the cavalry pickets were driven in
  along the Cleveland road. On the fifth the great blue host formed in
  line of battle near Tunnel Hill. Over against them were drawn the
  grey. The fifth and the sixth were days of skirmishing, of
  reconnoissance, of putting forth fingers and drawing them back. In the
  first light of the seventh, under a wonderful sunrise sky, the blue
  army began a general advance.



                             CHAPTER XXIII
                           THE ROAD TO RESACA


  For seven days Rocky Face Mountain echoed the rattling fire. Milk
  Mountain behind also threw it back, and Horn Mountain behind Milk.
  Crow Valley saw hard fighting, and Mill Creek Gap and Trail Gap.
  Alabama troops were posted above the last two and on the top of the
  Chattoogata Ridge. Here they laid in line huge stones, ready for the
  throwing down when the pass below should darken with the blue. They
  made also slight breastworks and rifle-pits. At Dug Gap were stationed
  two regiments of Arkansas and a brigade of Kentucky cavalry. On the
  eighth, Hooker attacked these in force. Kentucky fought dismounted;
  Kentucky and Arkansas together did mightily. Johnston sent to Hardee
  to dispatch aid to this point. Up to Dug Gap came Patrick Cleburne
  with Lowrey’s and Granbury’s brigades. Cleburne came at a
  double-quick, through the intense heat, up the rough mountain-side.
  The woods rang with fighting until the dark came down. Then Geary
  rested in the valley below and Cleburne on the heights above, and the
  stars shone on both. Stewart’s and Stevenson’s divisions held Rocky
  Face Mountain. Old Rocky Face saw tense fighting, stubborn as its own
  make-up. Skirmish upon skirmish occupied the hours. Here, too, were
  breastworks and rifle-pits, and the blue advanced against them, and
  the blue went back again, and came again, and went back again. All the
  time the batteries kept up a galling, raking fire. Pettus’s Alabama
  brigade was at the top of the mountain, at the signal station. Brown
  and Reynolds and Cumming were lower down, toward the valley. And on
  the floor of the valley, here visible in square or roughly circular
  clearings, here hidden by the thick woods, was a host of the enemy.
  Morning, noon, and afternoon went on the skirmishing. On the ninth
  occurred a determined assault upon Pettus’s line. There was a bloody,
  protracted struggle, and while the mountain flamed and thundered, the
  blue sharpshooters paid deadly attention to the brigades below of
  Cumming and Reynolds. The Alabamians on Rocky Face repelled the
  assault; down, down it sank to the floor of the valley. After an
  interval a line of battle appeared before Cumming. The Georgian threw
  forward skirmishers. There was a battalion of artillery—Major John
  William Johnston’s battalion. Cherokee Artillery, Stephens’s Light
  Artillery, Tennessee Battery, all came into action. The major
  commanding—once the captain of the Botetourt Artillery, of the
  “homesick battery” of Chickasaw Bayou and Port Gibson—placed his guns
  with skill and saw them served well and double well. Together with
  Cumming’s skirmishers the battalion checked the blue advance along
  this line.

  Hour after hour, day after day, continued the skirmishing to the west
  of Dalton. Now and again, among the slighter notes, struck the full
  chord of a more or less heavy engagement. But there came no general
  and far-flung battle. There was loss of life, but not great loss, and
  all the attacks were repelled. Joseph E. Johnston watched with his
  steady face.

  On the afternoon of the ninth came the first indication that the blue,
  behind the long cover of the mountains, were moving southward toward
  Snake Creek Gap, halfway between Dalton and Resaca. Hood with three
  divisions was at once ordered upon the road to Resaca, where was
  already Cantey’s brigade, come in the day before. Observing the grey
  movement, the blue advance by Snake Creek drew back for the moment.
  The air around Dalton continued smoky, the rifles to ring. The blue
  made a night attack, thoroughly repulsed by Bates’s division. On the
  eleventh arrived at Resaca from Mississippi Leonidas Polk with
  Loring’s division. On this day Cantey sent a courier to General
  Johnston. Sherman’s was certainly a turning movement, a steady blue
  flood rolling south by Snake Creek Pass, between Milk and Horn
  Mountains.

  Before break of day on the twelfth, Johnston sent Wheeler with two
  thousand cavalry, supported by Hindman, to the northern end of Rocky
  Face to reconnoitre in force. Was the whole Federal army moving toward
  Resaca, or not? Rounding Rocky Face, Wheeler clashed with Stoneman’s
  cavalry. After a sharp engagement, the blue fell back down the western
  side of Rocky Face. Retiring, they set fire to a great number of their
  wagons. The smoke arose, thick and dark, but the grey reconnoissance,
  piercing it, saw enough to assure it that Sherman intended no pitched
  battle at Dalton. The whole vast blue army was moving southward behind
  the screen of Rocky Face and the Chattoogata Ridge, south and east
  upon Resaca and the grey line of communications. Wheeler returned at
  dusk and reported.

  Night fell. The Army of Tennessee, after days of fighting, nights of
  alarms, lay now, in its various positions, in a world that seemed
  suddenly, strangely silent. The army, that was by now a philosopher,
  welcomed the moment with its quiet. It threw itself upon the warm
  earth and slept with the determination of the dead. Ten o’clock,
  eleven o’clock, twelve o’clock, one o’clock! A bugle blew—another at a
  distance—another. Drums began to beat. The Army of Tennessee rose to
  its feet. _Marching orders! The road to Resaca? All right!_

  Grey infantry, grey artillery, grey wagon-train, grey cavalry rear
  guard, grey stanch generals, grey stanch men, the Army of Tennessee
  took the starlight road to Resaca, where were already Hood with the
  three divisions, Cantey’s brigade, and Polk with the division of
  Loring. The night rolled away, the morning wind blew fresh, the
  streamers of the dawn flared high above the Georgia woods. The Army of
  Tennessee moved with a light and swinging step. Of this campaign a
  week had marked itself off, like a bead, half dark, half bright, on a
  rosary string. At Dalton, Atlanta lay a hundred and twenty miles to
  the southward. When the army came to Resaca, Atlanta was eighteen
  miles the nearer.

  Back in Dalton, in the house behind the syringas, there was protest.
  Miss Sophia protested with a waxen dignity, Miss Amanda with tears in
  her eyes. Both were so moved that they came out of the parlour upon
  the clematis porch where Désirée was supervising the cording of a
  small hair-trunk. “Follow the Army!” cried Miss Sophia, and “Follow
  the Army!” echoed Miss Amanda. “Oh, dear Mrs. Cary, are you sure that
  it’s _wise_—”

  “It’s the wisdom of Solomon,” said Désirée, on her knees. “Of the Song
  of Solomon.—Now, uncle, that’s done! Can you carry it out to the
  wagon, or shall I help you?”

  The ancient darkey lifted it. “No, ’m. I kin tote it.” He went down
  the path toward the gate and an ancient, springless wagon.

  Désirée rose. Miss Amanda’s tears overflowed, and Miss Sophia was so
  agitated that she leaned against the doorpost, and her thin old hand
  trembled where it touched her linsey skirt. “You’ve been as good as
  gold to me,” said Désirée. “I’ve loved this little house. I’m going to
  think of it often. Dear Miss Sophia, dear Miss Amanda, good-bye!”

  “Oh, it’s not wise,” cried Miss Sophia; “I feel that it’s not wise!”

  “If you’d just quietly wait,” said Miss Amanda, “until the army comes
  back through Dalton.”

  But Désirée thought that that would be too long. She smiled and broke
  some purple clematis from the porch to take with her, and then the two
  ladies went with her to the gate, and she kissed them both, and they
  said “God bless you!” and she mounted the wagon; and from the place
  where the road turned southward looked back and waved her hand. The
  lace handkerchief yard and the syringa bushes and the shingled roof
  above them sank out of her life.

  “I’se gwine tek de duht road,” said the negro. “Less ob fool soldiers
  projeckin’ erlong dat one!”

  The horse was worn and old, the wagon the same. Out of Dalton, over
  trampled fields, then between wooded hills, went, slowly enough, the
  wagon, the hair-trunk, Désirée, and the negro. “Don’ yo’ fret, mistis!
  I’se gwine git yo’ dar befo’ de battle. I’se gwine git yo’ dar befo’
  midnight ennyhow!”

  “What is your name?”

  “Nebuchadnezzar, mistis.”

  “And the horse?”

  “Dat ar horse name Julius Cæsar. He good horse ef he had ernough ter
  eat.”

  The day was warm, the sky a deep blue, all neighbouring vegetation
  covered with a tawny felt of dust. Trampling feet and trampling feet
  of horses and men, wagon wheels and wagon wheels and wagon wheels, had
  gone over that road. It was a trough of dust, and when the wind blew
  it up, a sandstorm would not have been more blinding. It seemed clear
  now of troops—all were withdrawn into the haze to the southward. As
  for the enemy, he must be moving on the other side of the low
  mountains, unless, indeed, he were already in force at Resaca—and the
  grey were going into battle—and the grey were going into battle.

  “Julius Cæsar goes pretty slow,” said Désirée.

  There was little débris in the road or by the wayside, no wrecked,
  left-behind wagons, little or no discarded accoutrement, few
  broken-down or dying horses, very few ill or wounded men, or mere
  footsore stragglers. Johnston’s movements were as clear-cut as so many
  cameos. He left no filings behind; he did not believe in blurred
  edges. He might place an army here to-day, and the morrow might find
  it a knight’s move or a bishop’s or a rook’s or a queen’s away; but
  always it went cleanly, bag and baggage, clean-lined, self-contained,
  with intention and poise. If his army was in retreat, the road behind
  him hardly bore witness to the fact.

  Horse and wagon crept on toward Resaca. Morning wore to afternoon,
  very warm, very—“Nebuchadnezzar, what do you make of that dust before
  us? I make smoke as well as dust. And now I make firing! Listen!”

  “Reckon better tuhn back—”

  “No, no! Go on! When it is necessary to stop, we will stop until they
  let us by. It’s rear guard fighting probably—”

  The cloud mounted. A few hundred yards and a bullet came and sheared
  away a leafy twig from the oak under which they were passing. It fell
  upon Désirée’s lap. A few yards farther, a second struck the dusty
  road in front of the horse. The confused sound down the road swelled
  into tumult.

  “Gawd-er-moughty!” said Nebuchadnezzar. “Mus’ git out ob dis! Dey’re
  projeckin’ dishyer way!”

  “Drive into the bank!” ordered Désirée. “No! there where it is wider!
  Don’t be afraid! Look how steady Julius Cæsar stands!”

  “Yass, ’m. Think I’ll git out en hol’ him.—Lawd hab mercy, heah dey
  come!”

  They came like a storm of the desert, two colours, one driving, one
  giving back, but in so great a cloud of road dust and carbine smoke,
  and in so rapid motion that which was which and whose were the shouts
  of triumph was not easy to tell. The horses’ hoofs made a thunder; all
  grew large, enveloped the earth, brought din and suffocation, roared
  by and were gone. There was a sense that the victorious colour was
  grey—but all was gone like a blast of the genii. The wagon had been
  nearly overturned. Some one had ridden violently against it—then there
  had sounded a shout, “’Ware! A woman!” and the wild course, pursued
  and pursuers, ever so slightly swerved. Désirée, thrown to her knees,
  laid hold of the wagon edge and waited, but not with closed eyes. A
  colour was in her cheek; she looked in this torrent as she had looked
  upon the levee, above the Mississippi in anger. The torrent passed,
  the rage of noise sank, the choking, blinding dust began to settle.
  Nebuchadnezzar came from the lee side of Julius Cæsar. He was ashen,
  whether with dust or with fear.

  “Whoever in dey born days see de like ob dat? Christian folk actin’ de
  debbil lak dat! Hit er-gwine ter bring er jedgment! Yo’ ain’ huht,
  mistis?”

  “No,” said Désirée. “I felt as though something were bearing down upon
  me out of ‘Paradise Lost.’”

  “What dat blood on yo’ ahm?”

  Désirée looked. “A bullet must have grazed it. I never felt it. It
  doesn’t hurt much now.”

  They did not get to Resaca that night. Julius Cæsar was too tired, the
  road too heavy, and one of Wheeler’s outposts, stopping the wagon,
  insisted that it was not safe for it to go farther in the darkness.
  With the first fireflies they turned aside to a “cracker’s” cabin in a
  fold of the hills and asked for hospitality. A tall, lean, elderly
  woman and her tall, lean daughters gave them rude shelter and rude
  fare. In the morning the wagon and Julius Cæsar and Nebuchadnezzar and
  Désirée went on again toward Resaca.

  To-day they overtook more limping soldiers than had been the case on
  yesterday. The wagon gave “lifts” to several and would have given more
  but that Julius Cæsar was so evidently a weary and worn foot soldier
  himself. They came upon a bank topped by a pine tree, and under it,
  his arm overhanging the road, was stretched a soldier overtaken by a
  fever. His face was flushed and burning hot, his eyes bright and wild.
  “Point Coupée Artillery!” he said; “Point Coupée Artillery!” over and
  over again. Désirée made Nebuchadnezzar draw rein. She got out of the
  wagon, climbed the bank, and knelt beside the man. “Point Coupée
  Artillery!” he said. “Water! Point Coupée Artillery. Water!” There was
  no spring anywhere near. She had had a bottle of water, but had given
  it all to two soldiers a mile back. Together she and Nebuchadnezzar
  got the artilleryman into the wagon, where he lay with his head
  against her knee. “Point Coupée!” she said. “Louisiana!” and her hand
  lay cool and soft upon the burning forehead. They carried him two
  miles, until they came to the house of a widow, who took the fevered
  man in and gave him water and a bed, and could be trusted, Désirée
  saw, to nurse him. Going on for a mile, they came up with a boy with a
  badly cut foot and a man with a bandaged head and his trouser leg
  rolled up to the thigh, bandaged, too, with a bloody cloth. Both were
  white-lipped with the heat and weariness, and Désirée and
  Nebuchadnezzar and Julius Cæsar took them on upon the road. Désirée
  said that she was tired of riding and walked beside the wagon, and
  when they came to a hill, Nebuchadnezzar, too, got down and walked.
  The two honest stragglers, though worse for the wear, were cheerful
  souls and inclined to talk. “Near Resaca? Yes, ma’am; right near now.
  It’s mighty good of you to give us a lift! Old Joe certainly can’t
  begin the battle till Robin and me get there!”

  Robin put in his oar. “Man on horseback came riding along awhile ago
  and turned off toward the Connesauga, an’ he said that Loring met the
  Yanks yesterday as they were streaming out of Snake Creek Gap, and
  held them in check for three hours until Hardee and Hood came up and
  formed, and that then things stopped and were holding their breath on
  that line when he left—”

  “Old Blizzard’s a good one! Never’ll forget him at Fort Pemberton!
  ‘Give them blizzards, men!’ says he. ‘Give them blizzards!’”

  “My husband was at Fort Pemberton. Were you at Vicksburg?”

  “Vicksburg! Should think I was at Vicksburg! Were you, ma’am?”

  “Yes. In a cave down by the ——th Redan.”

  “I was down by the river, back of the Lower Batteries. Vicksburg! We
  thought that nothing could ever happen any more after Vicksburg! But
  things just went on happening—”

  “Firing ahead of us,” said the boy.

  It rose and fell in the distance to the left of the road. A turn and
  they came upon pickets. Followed a parley. “You two want to join your
  regiment, and the lady wants to get to Resaca? Resaca isn’t a big
  place, ma’am, and the fighting’s going to be all around it and maybe
  through it. Hadn’t you better—”

  “No, I hadn’t. My husband is Captain Cary of the ——th Virginia. I
  know, sir, that you are going most courteously to let me pass.”

  When Désirée Gaillard said “most courteously,” when she smiled and
  looked straight and steady with her dark eyes, it was fatal. Nothing
  short of positive orders to the contrary would have kept those grey
  pickets from letting her pass. The wagon went on, and, having pierced
  a skirmish line lying down waiting, came, in the dusty forenoon, to
  Stevenson’s division, drawn up in two lines across and on either side
  of the Dalton and Resaca road.

  An officer stopped the advance. “There’s going to be fighting here in
  five minutes! You shouldn’t have been let to pass the pickets. You
  can’t go on and you can’t go back. They’ve got their batteries planted
  and they’re coming out of the wood yonder.—There’s the first shell!”
  He looked around him. “Madam, I’ll agree that there aren’t many safe
  places in the Confederacy, but I wish that you were in one of them!
  You two men report to the sergeant there! Uncle, you drive that cart
  behind the hill yonder—the one next to the one with the guns on it.
  When you’re there, madam, you’d better lie close to the earth, behind
  one of those boulders. As soon as we’ve silenced their fire and the
  road’s clear, you can go on.—Not at all! Not at all! But it is
  extremely unwise for a lady to be here!”

  The eastern side of the hill offered fair shelter. Nebuchadnezzar took
  the old horse from the wagon and fastened him to a small pine. Désirée
  sat down in the long cool grass beside a grey boulder. Before her
  stretched rugged ground, and far and wide she saw grey troops, ready
  for battle. Johnston had wasted no moment at Resaca. With skill and
  certitude he flung down his battle line, horseshoe-shaped, Hardee
  holding the centre, Polk on the left bent down to the Oostenaula, Hood
  on the right resting on the Connesauga. Earth-works sprang into being,
  salients for artillery—hardy and ready and in high spirits the Army of
  Tennessee faced the foe. Throughout the morning there had been general
  skirmishing, and now a fierce attack was in progress against Hindman’s
  division of Hood’s corps. It spread and involved Stevenson. The latter
  had the brigades of Cumming and Brown in his front line, in his second
  those of Pettus and Reynolds. All the ground here was rough and
  tangled, rock-strewn, overlaid with briars and a growth of small bushy
  pines. The men had made some kind of breastworks with rotted logs and
  the rails from a demolished fence. What especially annoyed were the
  blue sharpshooters. There was a ridge in the possession of these, from
  which they kept up a perpetual enfilading fire, addressed with
  especial vigour against Cumming’s line and against Johnston’s
  battalion ranged upon a long hillside by Cumming.

  From the foot of her small adjoining hill, Désirée could see these
  pieces plainly. Elbow on knee, chin in hand, she sat and watched. Six
  guns were in action; the others, expectant, waiting their time. The
  horses were withdrawn below the hill. Here, indifferent, long trained,
  they stood and cropped the grass in the face of thunder and gathering
  smoke. The caissons were in line behind the pieces, and from them
  powder and grape and canister travelled to the fighting guns. They
  were fighting hard. From each metal bore sprang yellow-red flowers of
  death. The hill shook and became wreathed with smoke. Through it she
  saw the gun detachments, rhythmically moving, and other figures,
  officers and men, passing rapidly to and fro. Shouted orders came to
  her, then the thunder of the guns covered all other sound. The
  antagonist was a blue battery on a shoulder of the ridge and blue
  infantry somewhere in the thick wood below. This battery’s range was
  poor; most of the shells fell short of the grey hill. But the
  sharpshooters on the nearer spur were another guess matter. Out of the
  tops of thick and tall pine trees came death in the shape of pellets
  of lead—came with frequency, came with a horrible accuracy.

  Désirée shuddered as she looked.

  “Oh,” she cried. “Oh, to be God just one minute!”

  She found Nebuchadnezzar beside her. “Gawd ain’ mixed up wif dis.
  Hit’s de Debbil.—Dar’s ernother one struck! See him spinnin’
  ’roun’.... Hit meks me sick.”

  The battalion commander—twenty-five years old, brown-eyed,
  warm-hearted, sincere, magnetic, loved by his men—rode rapidly, in the
  rolling smoke, across the hilltop, from the guns engaged to those that
  waited. “Forward into battery! On Captain Van den Corput’s left.”

  He turned and rode back to the thundering battery. The smoke parted
  and he and his grey horse were plainly seen. A minie ball came from
  the wood and pierced his thigh. “This morning”, says General
  Stevenson’s report, “was wounded the brave Major J.W. Johnston.” The
  smoke of battle rolled over the hill and the battalion of artillery,
  and over the Dalton and Resaca road, and over Stevenson’s division.

  Later, there was a great movement forward. Wheeler, ordered to
  discover the position and formation of the blue left, brought Johnston
  information which resulted in an order to Hood to make a half-change
  of front and drive the enemy westward. Hood, with the divisions of
  Stewart and Stevenson and supported by Walker, swept with his wild
  energy to the task. Stevenson in advance had the hottest fighting, but
  all fought superbly. At sunset the enemy’s extreme left was forced
  from its position.

  From the top of a railroad cut near the Dalton road, Johnston gave an
  aide an order for Hood. “Prepare to continue movement at daybreak. Let
  the troops understand that fighting will be renewed.” Off galloped the
  aide and sought through the gathering dusk for General Hood, but
  missed his road, and after some searching came back to the railroad
  cut to find General Hood now with General Johnston. Hood was speaking:
  “The men are in wild spirits! I am, too, sir, if we are going to fight
  to a finish!”

  Two or three prisoners were brought to the cut. Questioned, two
  refused to answer; a third stated that he belonged to Whittaker’s
  brigade, Stanley’s division, Fourth Army Corps; that the blue line of
  battle ran northeast and southwest, and that the blue army looked for
  victory. Wheeler rode up, received orders, and in the fading light
  drew his cavalry out along the railroad. Night was now at hand.
  Johnston and those with him turned their horses and rode rapidly from
  the right toward the left, back to headquarters, established in a
  small house behind Selden’s battery. Here they found General Hardee.
  “All well with us, sir! They tried to storm Cleburne’s position, but
  signally failed!”

  “Nothing from the left?”

  “There has been firing. Here comes news now, I think.” Up came an
  aide, breathless, his horse bleeding. “General Johnston—from General
  Polk, sir!”

  “Yes, yes—”

  “They attacked in force, sir, driving in our troops and seizing a hill
  which commands the Oostenaula bridges. They at once brought cannon up.
  General Polk is about to move to retake the hill.”

  “The Oostenaula bridge!... The guns now!”

  The heavy firing rose and sank, rose again, then finally died in the
  now full night. The ridge commanding the bridge to the south, held by
  Dodge and Logan of McPherson’s corps, was not retaken. Tidings that it
  was not came to the group by Selden’s battery. And on the heels of
  this came another breathless messenger. “General—from General Martin!
  He reports that the enemy have thrown pontoons across the Oostenaula
  near Calhoun. They crossed two divisions this afternoon.”

  Silence for a moment, then Johnston spoke crisply. “Very well! If he
  crosses, I cross. General Hood, the order for the advance at daybreak
  is revoked.” He spoke to an aide. “Get the staff together!—General
  Walker, you will at once take the road to Calhoun with your division.
  Is Colonel Prestman here?—Colonel, the engineers are to lay to-night a
  pontoon bridge across the Oostenaula, a mile above the old bridges.
  General Hardee—What is it, General Hood?”

  “Not to attack in the morning! General Johnston, do you not think—”

  “I do occasionally, sir. At present I think that General Sherman
  ardently desires to place himself in our rear.”

  “We rolled them back this afternoon! And if at dawn we accomplish even
  more—”

  “Yes, sir, ‘if.’ You ‘rolled back,’ very gallantly, part of the Fourth
  Army Corps.”

  “But, sir,—”

  “Circumstances, sir, alter cases. It was General Sherman’s intention
  to place a huge army astride the railroad here at Resaca. That
  intention was defeated. He proposes now to cross the Oostenaula and
  cut our lines at Calhoun. It is that movement that demands our
  attention.”

  “I only know, sir, that it is expected at Richmond that we take the
  offensive.”

  “Yes, sir. Many things are expected at Richmond.—You have your order,
  General. Now, General Hardee—”

  An hour or two later, the commander of the Army of Tennessee returned
  with Hardee from the left toward which they had ridden. The two were
  friends as well as superior and subordinate. Johnston had great warmth
  of nature; he was good lover, good hater. Now he rode quietly, weary,
  but steadily thinking. The light of the house behind Selden’s battery
  appeared, a yellow point in the thickened air. “How far that little
  candle ... Hardee! I’ve had ten wounds in battle, but before this
  summer ends I’m going to have a worse wound than any!”

  “I don’t know what you mean, General,” said Hardee.

  “Don’t you?” said Johnston. “Well, well! perhaps I shan’t be wounded.
  The stars are over us all.—Here is the house.”

  As the two dismounted, an aide came forward. “There is some one
  waiting here, General, to speak to you. A lady—Mrs. Cary—”

  Désirée came into the light from the open door. “Mrs. Cary!” exclaimed
  Hardee. “How in the world—”

  Johnston took her hand in his. It was cold, and the light showed her
  face. “My dear, what is it—”

  “General,” said Désirée, “I left Dalton yesterday, and to-day I got by
  the lines, and this afternoon into Resaca. And awhile ago, when the
  fighting had stopped, I found where was ——’s brigade and the ——th
  Virginia. And I went there, to headquarters, to find out if my husband
  was unhurt. His regiment was in the attack on the enemy’s left. It was
  in the advance and it lost heavily. When night came and the troops
  were withdrawn, they took back with them all their wounded they could
  gather. But the ——th was well ahead, and the enemy was reinforced and
  threatening in its front. When it was ordered back it had to leave its
  hurt. They are there yet—they are there now. My husband is among the
  missing.... They were very kind, the colonel and General ——. They
  would not let me pass, but they asked for volunteers to go. Some brave
  men volunteered and went. They brought back a number of the
  wounded—but they did not bring back my husband. They said they sought
  everywhere and called as loudly as they dared. They said that if he
  were living—But I can seek better than they and I am not afraid to
  call aloud. General —— said that he would not let me go, and I said
  that I would bring an order from you that should make him let me go. I
  have come for it, General.”

  “The enemy is very close to that front. They will fire at any sound.”

  “I shall go silently. Do I not want to bring him safely?”

  “You would have to have men with you.”

  “Three of those men said they would go again. But I said no. An old
  negro brought me in his wagon from Dalton. He is old but strong, and
  he is willing, and we can manage together.”

  “If I let you go—”

  “I shall love you forever. If you let me go you will do wisely and
  rightly—”

  “It is not a time,” said Johnston, “to measure by small standards or
  weigh with little weights. You may go.”

  A host of stars looked down on the wooded hills and narrow vales.
  There was a space of about an acre where, long ago, trees had been
  girdled and felled. The trunks of some still lay upon the earth, bare
  of bark, gleaming grey-white, like great bones of an elder age.
  Elsewhere there were mere stumps, serried rows of them, with a growth
  of mullein and blackberry between. There were stones, too, half-buried
  boulders, and in a corner of the field, pressing close to a rail
  fence, a thicket of sumach.

  Edward Cary lay in this angle. He had fallen at dusk, leading his men
  in the final charge. It was twilight; the grey wave went on, shouting.
  He saw and heard another coming, and to avoid trampling he dragged
  himself aside into this sumach thicket by the fence. He had a bullet
  through his shoulder, and he was losing blood beside from a deep wound
  above the knee. It was this bleeding that brought the roaring in his
  ears and at last the swoon. He had bandaged it as well as he could,
  but a bone in his hand was shattered and he could not do it well. He
  thought, “I shall bleed to death.” After a while life and the content
  of life went to a very great distance—very far off and small like a
  sandbar in a distant ocean. Time, too, became a thin, remote, and
  intermittent stream. Once, he had no idea when, he thought that there
  were voices and movement on the sandbar. He wet his lips and thought
  that he spoke aloud, but probably it was only in thought. All things
  vanished for a while, and when he next paid attention the sandbar was
  very quiet and farther off than ever. The wind was blowing in the
  sumach on the sandbar, and a star was shining over it.... No! it was
  the light of a lantern. There were hands about his wound, and the
  sound of tearing cloth, and the feel of a bandage drawn tightly with a
  bit of forked stick for a tourniquet, and then water with a dash of
  brandy at his lips—and then an arm beneath his head and a face down
  bent. “Désirée Gaillard,” he breathed.



                              CHAPTER XXIV
                                THE GUNS


  Morning broke with a heavy mist over Oostenaula and Connesauga, over
  Rocky Face and Snake Creek Gap, over the village of Resaca, over the
  Western and Atlantic Railroad, over the grey army and the blue army. A
  keen, continual skirmishing began with the light. It extended along
  the whole front, but with especial sharpness upon Hardee’s line. Some
  blue cannon opened here, and for a time it seemed that at any moment
  the main bodies, blue and grey, might crash through the fog into a
  general and furious battle. Stevenson’s division, moving forward,
  reoccupied the position gained the evening before. Wrapped in the
  mist, wet with the morning dew, the men fell to work upon log and rail
  and stump defences. Hindman’s line was next to Stevenson’s, and a blue
  battery, well placed, was sending against Hindman, engaged in
  thrusting back a blue assault, a stream of grape and canister.
  Stevenson, ordered to help out Hindman, sent Max Van den Corput’s
  battery of Johnston’s battalion to a point eighty yards in front of
  his own line—a ragged hill, rising abruptly from the field, with a
  wide and deep ravine beyond. In dust and thunder the battery came to
  this place; the guns were run into position, the guns were served,
  steady, swift, and well. “But,” says Stevenson, “the battery had
  hardly gotten into position when the enemy hotly engaged my
  skirmishers, driving them in, and pushing on to the assault with great
  impetuosity. So quickly was all this done that it was impossible to
  remove the artillery before the enemy had effected a lodgment in the
  ravine in front of it, thus placing it in such a position that, while
  the enemy was entirely unable to remove it, we were equally so,
  without driving off the enemy massed in the ravine beyond it, which
  would have been attended with great loss of life. The assaults of the
  enemy were in heavy force and made with the utmost impetuosity, but
  were met with a cool, steady fire which each time mowed down their
  ranks and drove them back, leaving the ground thickly covered in
  places with their dead....”

  Along Hardee’s line the white puffs of cannon smoke showed all day
  through. In the early afternoon came a courier with a note from
  Walker, now at Calhoun. “No movement of the enemy observed. Think
  report of passage of Oostenaula unfounded.” Johnston read, then
  dispatched an order to Hood. “Prepare to attack enemy’s left as
  indicated yesterday evening. Three brigades of Polk’s and Hardee’s
  will support.” But later, as Hood was preparing to move forward, there
  came a more breathless messenger yet from Walker. “The first report
  was true, General! They crossed at Lay’s Ferry. Two divisions are
  over, and others on the way.” Johnston listened with an impassive
  face, then sent at once and countermanded Hood’s order. Stewart’s
  division only was not checked in time. It attacked, and was roughly
  handled before it could be recalled.

  Lieutenant T.B. Mackall, aide-de-camp to General Mackall, chief of
  staff, kept a journal of the operations, during these days, of the
  Army of Tennessee. May fifteenth, 1864, he writes:—

  “... 7 A.M. General Johnston has been on hill where Selden’s battery
  is posted since firing began; is just going to ride to the right,
  leaving General Mackall here. Skirmishing and artillery still going
  on. 10 A.M. General Johnston returned to Selden’s battery an hour ago.
  Answer sent to cipher of the President received yesterday: ‘_Sherman
  cannot reinforce Grant without my knowledge, and will not as we are
  skirmishing along our entire line. We are in presence of whole force
  of enemy assembled from North Alabama and Tennessee._’ Ferguson’s
  brigade of cavalry, also Brigadier-General Jackson have reached Rome.
  Wheeler has just gone to upper pontoon bridge, which will not be ready
  for crossing for fifteen minutes. It is in long range of the six-gun
  battery put up last night on the hill which they captured. 11 A.M.
  Very heavy musketry and artillery firing going on, apparently on
  Hindman’s line. Just before it became so rapid General Johnston rode
  up the Dalton road, apparently on account of some news brought by
  Hampton from Hardee. About 11.15 battery on our extreme right opened.
  Firing slackened on Hindman’s front. Battery on hill on our left
  enfilades our trenches; riflemen annoying to our gunners. 12 M.
  General Johnston has come back to Selden’s battery. The firing on
  extreme right three quarters of an hour ago caused by enemy’s crossing
  Connesauga in rear of Hood, capturing Hood’s hospital. A brigade of
  our cavalry after them, supported by a brigade of Stewart’s. Captain
  Porter, who went with General Johnston, came back. Says last reports
  represent our troops driving enemy’s cavalry. 1.30 P.M. Heavy musketry
  and artillery on Hindman’s front; began about fifteen minutes ago.
  Lieutenant Wigfall has just come up to say enemy are making a very
  determined attack on Hindman. General Johnston preparing to mount to
  ride to Hood’s. Firing continuous. 3.30 P.M. Few minutes after writing
  above rode off to General Hood’s with General Mackall, who accompanied
  General Johnston. Found Hood where Dalton dirt road and railroad are
  near each other and where we now are. Hindman, a few minutes after we
  arrived, repulsed the enemy, who came up in some places to his
  breastworks. Our reserves not used. Orders given for Stewart to take
  enemy in flank; for wagons which were sent back to be brought up to
  Resaca. Stevenson and Hindman to take up movement of Stewart.
  Featherston brought from Polk’s line, also Maney and —— from Cheatham.
  These supports came up in very short time. Stevenson, however, sent
  word that enemy in three lines were preparing to attack Stewart’s
  centre. 3.40 P.M. (In rear of Stewart’s line near railroad) Stewart
  directed to receive attack and pursue. But slight skirmishing now;
  enemy not making attack. 9.30 P.M. At house behind Selden’s battery
  (headquarters at night). Orders given to withdraw from this place;
  arrangements made and trains moving. This afternoon, about 4.30 P.M.,
  Stewart, in obedience to orders to attack if his position was not
  assaulted, advanced; soon his line was broken by a terrible fire of
  Hooker’s corps, who were ready to attack. I had been sent to accompany
  Major Ratchford to General Featherston (held in reserve) to order him
  in the General’s name to take position in support of Stewart, near
  Green’s house.

  ”_Monday, May 16._ On Calhoun and Adairsville road, two miles south of
  Calhoun. While in field in rear of Stewart’s line and near railroad
  last night, about dark, corps and division commanders assembled and
  instructions given to effect withdrawal of army to south bank of
  Oostenaula. Enemy had crossed force to south bank of river at Dobbin’s
  Ferry; reported two divisions. Walker was facing them, immediately in
  our front. He was entrenched, his line extending from Oostenaula River
  to Tilton on Connesauga.... In two hours after Stewart’s repulse,
  Cheatham, Hindman, Cleburne, etc., were assembled around the
  camp-fires. Hardee had been there all evening. Routes and times fixed;
  cars to be sent for the wounded; wagons and ambulances and most of
  artillery to cross pontoons above; troops and artillery on Polk’s line
  on railroad and small trestle bridge; an hour occupied in giving
  orders, etc., and all dispersed, going to their headquarters. We rode
  in; wagons not brought over. After writing dispatches ... lay down
  (sleeping on porch of house in rear of Selden’s battery); waked by
  noise—firing, confusion, etc.; saddle and mount. General Loring comes
  up; all ride to roadside at foot of Selden’s battery, passing through
  Hindman’s column, going to railroad bridge. Cheatham’s pass from his
  line over small trestle bridge below. Night cloudy. Firing of musketry
  and small arms on Hood’s line, which was rapid and continuous on first
  waking, decreased. These troops (Cheatham’s and Hood’s) did not seem
  at all alarmed, rather noisy and in very good humour. Enemy’s line on
  river remarkably quiet.... Near Calhoun, 5.30 P.M. Order given to send
  wagons back one mile and a half south of Adairsville. 6.30 P.M. Our
  wagons parking; saddling.

  “_Tuesday, May 17._ We reached Adairsville just before day, a little
  ahead of troops. Cultivated, rolling country from Resaca to
  Adairsville.”


  Edward Cary lay, not in the hospital that was raided, but in a house
  in the village. It was a fairly large house, and upstairs and down it
  was filled with the wounded. The surgeons and the village women had
  their hands full. He lay quite conscious, much weakened, but going to
  recover. There were a number of pallets in this upper hall where he
  had been placed. Officers and men occupied them, some much hurt,
  others more slightly. A surgeon with a woman to help went from bed to
  bed. The more frightful cases were downstairs, and from that region
  there came again and again a wailing cry from flesh and blood and bone
  under probe and saw. Out of doors the sun shone hot, and in at the
  open, unshaded windows came a dull sound of firing. The flies were
  bad. Two girls with palm-leaf fans, moving from pallet to pallet,
  struggled with them as best they might, but in the blood and glare and
  heat they settled again. The wounded moved their heads from side to
  side, fought them away with their hands. Désirée came up the stairs
  and into the hall. She had hanging at her waist a pair of scissors,
  and in her arms a bolt of something dusty-white. Unrolled at the
  stairhead, and cut swiftly into lengths, it proved to be mosquito
  netting. “I found it in a little store here. They didn’t know they had
  it.”

  The hot, bright morning went on. Outside the firing swelled and sank
  and swelled again. Sometimes it sounded far away, sometimes as though
  it were in the street below. The less injured, the reasonably
  comfortable, listened with feverish interest. “On the right
  again!—Stevenson and Stewart have had the brunt.—No! that’s centre
  now.—Cleburne, I think. He’s a good one! Who’s passing through the
  street below? Old Joe? Give him a cheer, whoever’s got a voice!”

  The morning wore on to hot noon. The village women had furnished
  kettlefuls of broth that stony necessity made very thin. Such as it
  was, it tasted good to the wounded who could eat and drink. For those
  who turned moaningly away their comrades had the divinest pity. “Poor
  fellow! he’s badly off! I reckon he’s going to die—Do you remember, at
  Baker’s Creek, how he fought that gun all alone?”

  Hot noon wore into sultry afternoon. The sun went behind a smooth pall
  of greyish cloud. His going did not lessen the heat; there was no air,
  a kind of breathless oppression. In the midst of it, and during what
  seemed a three-quarter circle of firing, north, east, and west,
  surgeons and orderlies appeared in the upper hall. “We’ve got to move
  you folk! Yankees marching on Calhoun and so’s the Army of Tennessee.
  Six miles by rail and the wagons are ready to take you to the station.
  Cheer up, now! the whole Western Atlantic’s reserved for us!”

  The crowded wagons drew off, each in a dust-cloud. They jolted, the
  straw was thin in the bottom. The wounded tried to set their teeth,
  but many failed and there were groans enough. The surgeon, riding at
  the end of the wagon, kept up a low, practised, cheerful talk, and
  some of the less hurt helped as best they might the others. Désirée,
  because her eyes were so appealing, because she expected to go and
  said as much, was given place upon the bed of one of the larger
  wagons. She sat, curled up upon the straw, Edward’s head upon her lap,
  her bent knee and the softness of her skirt easing, too, the position
  of a grizzled lieutenant with a bullet through his cheek. The line of
  wagons jolted through the dust to the station, where was the weary,
  rusty engine, and the weary, dingy cars. Six miles over that roadbed
  with green wood for fuel, with stalling and hesitations and pauses for
  examination, meant a ride of an hour.

  From some of the cars all the seats had been removed; others had seats
  at one end, while two thirds of the flooring was bare. The badly hurt
  were laid in rows upon the planks; those less injured were given the
  seats, two, sometimes three, to a bench; others with bandaged arms and
  heads must stand. Every box-on-wheels was crowded, noisy, hot, of
  necessity dirty, of necessity evil-smelling. The cars and their burden
  made the best of it; there was much suffering but no whining. The
  engine wheezed and puffed, the wheels moved, the train rolled
  southward out of Resaca. The more lively of the passengers, who were
  by windows, talked for the benefit of the others. “Troops moving on
  both roads—everybody getting in column—quiet and orderly—Old Joe
  fashion! Still firing on the fringe of things—regular battle-cloud
  over on our right!—Going to cross the river! Pretty river and pretty
  name for. it.—Rivers and mountains—I’ve learned more geography in this
  war!”

  The train creaked and wavered across the Oostenaula. At the station
  some one had given a wounded officer a newspaper procured from
  headquarters—a three-days’ old issue of a Milledgeville paper. The
  officer had both eyes bandaged across, and the man beside him could
  not read aloud because his wound was in the throat. A third, sitting
  on the floor, propped against the side of the car, tried, but after he
  had read the headline he said that the letters all ran together. The
  headline had said “GREAT BATTLE IN VIRGINIA” and the car—that part of
  it which was at all at ease enough to listen—wanted to hear. Désirée,
  standing beside Edward, took the paper and read aloud. Her voice was
  sweet and deep and clear as a bell.

  “_From Richmond. There has been a great battle in the Wilderness—_”

  “The Wilderness! Like Chancellorsville—”

  “_General Grant crossed on the fourth to the south side of Rapidan. We
  met them on the fifth. The battle raged all day with varying success,
  but when darkness fell the honours remained with us—_”

  “Hip—hip—hooray!”

  “_At dawn the attack was renewed, and this day saw also a bloody
  struggle. General Longstreet, we regret to report was severely
  wounded—_”

  “Old Pete! How he struck at Chickamauga!”

  “_At sunset Gordon of Ewell’s attacked the enemy’s right flank with
  such fury that he drove him for a mile, capturing his entrenchments
  and a great number of prisoners. Darkness closed the battle. Our loss
  very heavy, the enemy’s much greater. As we go to press we learn that
  on the eighth Grant began to move toward Spottsylvania Court-House._”

  “The eighth! A week ago! Is that all it says?”

  “There is nothing more from Virginia. But here is a letter from
  Ripley, Mississippi. Forrest has been through that place, the enemy
  after him—”

  “Read that!”

  On creaked the slow train, past the windows unrolled the Georgia
  countryside, and where one saw a road one saw grey troops, grey
  infantry, grey artillery, grey wagon-trains, all moving with the train
  of the wounded, moving deeper into Georgia, moving toward Atlanta.
  They moved nor fast nor slow, and if it was an army in retreat it did
  not look the rôle. On went the train, in the heat, with the wounded.
  No sun tormented, but the pall of the clouds held in the heat. There
  had been two buckets of water to each car, but the water gave out
  before they had been fifteen minutes from Resaca.

  Hardee’s corps, reaching Calhoun, moved by Johnston’s orders out upon
  the Rome road to where was met the Snake Creek Gap road to
  Adairsville, upon which road the enemy was advancing. Here Hardee
  deployed, formed a line, and held the blue in check while the
  remainder of the grey came up. Joe Wheeler, in the rear, retarded all
  advance from Resaca itself. The blue passage of the Oostenaula met,
  too, with certain delays. Sherman, moving from Dalton behind Rocky
  Face to cut the grey lines at Resaca, found the Army of Tennessee
  there before him. Moving now behind Oostenaula to come upon the rear
  of the grey at Calhoun, he found himself, as at Resaca, again face to
  face.

  Back in front of Resaca, under the darkening sky, upon the mound in
  front of Stevenson’s line, above the ravine which had filled with a
  blue host, stood yet the four guns which had been cut off early in the
  day. “I covered the disputed battery with my fire,” says Stevenson,
  “in such a manner that it was utterly impossible for the enemy to
  remove it, and I knew that I could retake it at any time, but thought
  it could be done with less loss of life at night, and therefore
  postponed my attack. When ordered to retire I represented the state of
  things to the general commanding, who decided to abandon the guns.”
  And says Hood: “During the attack on General Stevenson a four-gun
  battery was in position thirty paces in front of his line, the gunners
  being driven from it and the battery left in dispute. The army
  withdrew that night, and the guns, without caissons or limber-boxes,
  were abandoned to the enemy, the loss of life it would have cost to
  withdraw them being considered worth more than the guns.”

  These four pieces constituted the only material lost or abandoned
  during the seventy days. Now they stood there in a row with their grey
  friends and comrades gone, with the blue rear guard not yet come to
  take them; stood there in a solitude after throngs, in a silence after
  sound. The sky was iron grey, the grass was trampled, the dead lay
  upon the slope. The guns were all alone. Their metal was cold, their
  lips no longer red; they stood like four sentinels frozen in death.
  They stood high, against the wide and livid heaven. The cloudy day
  declined; the night came dark and close, and into its vastness the
  guns sank and disappeared like the guns of an injured ship at sea.



                              CHAPTER XXV
                             THE WILDERNESS


  It might have been guessed from the first,” said Cleave. “Only,
  fortunately or unfortunately, mankind never makes such guesses. Given,
  with all our talk to the contrary, North and South, a common stock,
  with common qualities, common intensities of purpose; then given the
  division of the whole into two parts, two thirds of the mass on that
  side of the line, one third on this; then, in addition, push to the
  larger side manufacturing towns and the control of the sea—and it
  ought not to have taken an eagle’s vision to see on which side the
  dice would fall.”

  Allan pondered it. “There have been times from the beginning—from
  First Manassas on—when we lacked little of winning. A very little more
  several times and they would have cried, Peace!”

  “That is true. It wasn’t impossible, impossible as it looked. It only
  wasn’t at all probable.”

  “And it is less probable now?”

  “It is not at all probable now.”

  The two moved on in silence, Cleave riding Dundee, Allan walking
  beside him. They were in one of the glades of the Wilderness, the
  Sixty-fifth bivouacking at hand, Cleave going to brigade headquarters
  and the scout joining him from some by-path. It was sunset, and a pink
  light touched the Wilderness. “We have come to a definite turn,” said
  Cleave, “or rather, we came to it at Gettysburg,—Gettysburg and
  Vicksburg.” He looked about him. “A year ago, we were in this
  Wilderness. I had a cloud upon me that I did not know would ever be
  lifted—a cloud upon me and a sore heart.” He lifted his hat and rode
  bareheaded. “But the light upon this Wilderness was more rosy then
  than now.”

  Night fell. Far and wide rolled the Wilderness. An odour rose from the
  dwarf pine and oak and sweet gum and cedar, from the earth and its
  carpet of the leaves of old years, from the dogwood, the pink azalea,
  and the purple judas-tree, from rotting logs and orange and red fungi,
  from small marshy bottoms where the frogs were croaking, from the dry,
  out-worn “poison fields,” from dust and from mould,—a subtle odour,
  new as to-day, old as sandalwood cut in the East ten thousand years
  ago. Far and wide stretched the Wilderness. Its ravines were not deep,
  its hills were not high, but it had a vastness as of the desert,
  where, neither, are the ravines deep nor the hills high. The stars
  rimmed it, and a low whispering wind went from cedar covert to
  sweet-gum copse, from pine to oak, from dogwood to judas-tree. It
  lifted the dust from the narrow, trampled, hidden roads and powdered
  with it the wayside growth. It murmured past the Tabernacle Church,
  and the burned house of Chancellorsville, and Dowdall’s Tavern and the
  old Wilderness Tavern, by Catherine Furnace and along the old Turnpike
  and the Plank Road. It bore with it the usual sounds of the Wilderness
  by night and it bore also, this May as last May, the hum of great
  armies, not roused yet, not furiously battling, but murmurous—a
  dreamy, not unrestful sound adding itself to the region’s natural
  voice.

  A group of officers, sitting by the embers of a camp-fire, listened to
  the two voices, and watched the pale light along the northern horizon.
  “It’s like the lights of a distant city over there.”

  “A hundred and forty thousand men make a city.... Not so distant
  either.”

  “Grant! I never met him in the old Mexican days,—nor afterwards. He
  went pretty far down. But I have met a man or two who knew him, and
  they liked him—a bulldog, reticent, tenacious kind of person—”

  “Very good soldierly qualities—especially when backed by one hundred
  and forty thousand men with promise of all reinforcements
  needed!—Heigho!”

  “He had a kind of rough chivalry, also,—consideration, simplicity.
  Sincere, too—” He stirred the embers with his scabbard point. “Well!
  we’ve got a job before us now.”

  “We’ve won, once before, in this place.”

  “The fourth of May! Last fourth of May it was Stonewall Jackson—lying
  over there by Dowdall’s Tavern—with just a week to live. Stuart—”

  “It’s come to a question of figures. If they can keep on doubling us
  in number, if they can add and add reinforcements and we cannot, if
  they have made up their minds to stand all the killing necessary,
  then, with a determined general, it is not impossible that after years
  of trying they may get between us and Richmond.”

  “They may eventually. I don’t think they will do it this campaign.”

  “No. I reckon not—”

  The group fell silent, looking out upon the waves of wooded land and
  the light on the horizon. “I was through here,” said one at last, “ten
  years ago. I was riding with a farmer—a young man—and I remember that
  I said it was like a region that had gone to sleep in its cradle and
  never waked up, and he said that that was what was the matter with
  it—that nothing ever happened here! I wonder—”

  “Don’t wonder. What’s the use?”

  “It’s a strange world!”

  “Strange! That’s the thing about the universe I think of most at
  night—how _queer_ it is!”

  “Unity! That’s what they teach—all the philosophers! And yet a unity
  that tears its own flesh—”

  “Sometimes unity does that very thing. I’ve seen a man do it.”

  “Yes, when he was distraught!”

  “That’s what I say. You can nearly go mad at night, thinking how mad
  we all are!”

  “Don’t think. At least not now. You can’t afford it.”

  “I agree with Cary. There’s a time to think and a time not to think.
  The less the soldier thinks the better.”

  “Think!” said Fauquier Cary. “No one ever thinks in war. The soldier
  looks at his enemy, and then he looks at his murdering piece, and then
  instinctively he discovers the best position—or what seems to him the
  best position—from which to fire it. And then he reloads, and he looks
  again at the enemy, and instinct does the job for him once more—and so
  on, _ad infinitum_. But he never _thinks_.” He rose and stood, warming
  his one hand. “If he did that, you know, there’d be no war!”

  “And would that be a good thing?”

  “It depends,” said Cary, “on what you call a good thing.—Listen! Jeb
  Stuart and his cavalry, moving on the old Turnpike—”

  The grey soldiers, too, had their camp-fires. The light of these
  flared, to the eyes of the blue, on the southern horizon. Here
  likewise was the effect of the lights of a city—a smaller city, a city
  of sixty thousand. But when you were actually back of the pickets, in
  the camps, it was not like a city. It was only dusky lights here and
  there in the midst of shadows, only camp-fires in the Wilderness. The
  grey men scattered around them, resting after rapid marching, were in
  an eve-of-battle mood. Eve-of-battle mood meant tenseness, sudden
  jocularity, sudden silences, a kind of added affectionateness between
  brothers and intimates, often masked by brusqueness, a surreptitious
  consideration, a curious, involuntary “in honour preferring one
  another.” Even among the still at this hour very busy people, the
  generals cogitating orders, the aides and couriers standing waiting or
  setting out with their messages, the ordnance train people, the movers
  of guns from one point to another, the ambulance folk, the drivers of
  belated wagons, the cavalry patrols, eve-of-battle feeling was
  apparent. But it was most in force in the resting army. Eve-of-battle
  mood had many ingredients. Among them was to be found in the cup of
  many the ingredient of fear. Men hid it, but it was there. It fell on
  the heart at intervals, fell like a cold finger tap, like the icy drop
  of water falling at intervals, hour after hour, on the brow of the
  tortured in an old dungeon. When the battle was here it would
  disappear; always the amount of it lessened in constant ratio to the
  approach of the firing. The first volley—except in the case of the
  coward—dissipated it quite. With some the drop was heavier and more
  insistent than with others, but there were few, indeed, who had not at
  some time felt that cold and penetrating touch. It was only a thing of
  intervals; it came and went, and between its comings one was gay
  enough. There had long ago ceased the fear of what it could do to one.
  It was not pleasant—neither was sea-sickness—but the voyage would be
  made. The Army of Northern Virginia knew that it was going to fight.
  The world knows that it fought as have fought few armies.

  A company lying upon the earth in a field of cedars began to sing.

             “We’re tenting to-night on the old camp-ground!
               Give us a song to cheer—”

  “That’s too mournful!” said a neighbouring company. “Tell the
  Louisianians to sing the ‘Marseillaise.’”

           “Many are the hearts that are weary to-night!
             Wishing for the war to cease;
           Many are the hearts that are looking for the right,
             To see the dawn of peace.

           “Tenting to-night, tenting to-night,
             Tenting on the old camp-ground....”

  As always, eve-of-battle, there was going on a certain redding up.
  Those who had haversacks plunged deep within them, gathered certain
  trifles together and tied them into a small bundle with a pencilled
  direction. Diaries were brought up very neatly and carefully to date.
  Entries closed with “Battle to-morrow!” or with “This time to-morrow
  night much will have happened”; or sometimes with such things as “Made
  up my quarrel with Wilson to-day”; or “Returned the book I borrowed
  from Selden”; or “Read a psalm and a chapter to-day”; or “Wrote home.”
  Eve-of-battle saw many letters written. There was a habit, too, of
  destroying letters received and garnered. Here and there a man sat
  upon a log and tore into little bits old, treasured sheets. The flecks
  lay like snow upon the earth of the Wilderness.

            “We’re tired of war on the old camp-ground
              Many are dead and gone....

            “We’re tenting to-night on the old camp-ground,...
              Tenting to-night, tenting to-night.
            Tenting to-night on the old camp-ground.”

  All the spirit of this army was graver than it had been a year ago,
  than it had been six months ago. During the past winter a strong
  religious fervour had swept it. This evening, in the Wilderness, in
  many a command there was prayer and singing of hymns. Swaths of earth,
  black copses of cedar and gum, divided one congregation from another.
  One was singing while another prayed; the hymns were different, but
  the wide night had room for all—for the hymns and for “Tenting
  to-night,” and for the “Marseillaise” which now Hays’s Louisianians
  were singing. All blended into something piteous, something old and
  touching, and of a dim nobility. The pickets out in the deep night
  listened.

                  “Just as I am, without one plea
                    Save that thy blood was shed for me,
                  And that Thou bid’st me come to thee,
                    O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”

  A soldier, standing picket and hearing the singing behind a dusky wave
  of earth, had his doubts. “If we really come to him—if the Yankees
  over there really came to him—if we both came, why,—there _wouldn’t be
  any battle to-morrow_.... Seeing that he said, ‘Love your enemy’—which
  if everybody did presently there’d be no enemy—no more than an icicle
  in the sun.” He sighed and shifted his musket. “They think they mean
  what they’re singing, but they don’t—”

  Relieved, he sought his mess and the corner of leaves and boughs in
  which they meant to sleep. Before lying down he spoke to the man next
  him. “John, I’ve got a letter and a little bit of package here that I
  want you to keep. I am going to be killed to-morrow.”

  “No, you ain’t!”

  “Yes, I am. I am positively certain of it. I am going to be killed
  about noon.”

  “You’ve just got one of those darned presentiments, and half the time
  they don’t come to nothing!”

  “This one will. You take the letter and the little bit of package. I
  am going to be killed to-morrow, about noon.” And he was killed.

  Night grew old. The flare of the cities sank away; tattoo beat, then,
  after a little, taps. The Wilderness lay awake. She communed with her
  own heart. But the men whom she harboured slept. Night passed, the
  stars paled, pure and cool and fresh came on the dawn—wild roses in
  the east, in a field of forget-me-not blue. Shrill and sweet, near and
  remote, a thousand bugles blew reveille in the Wilderness.

  Ewell and A.P. Hill moved westward, deeper into the Wilderness.
  Longstreet, marching from the south side of the James, was not yet up,
  though known to be approaching. About breakfast time an artillery
  officer came upon a small fire, and bending over it, stiffly, being
  wooden-legged, General Ewell, a first-rate cook and proud of it. He
  insisted on giving the other a cup of coffee.

  “Is there any objection, sir,” said the officer, after drinking, “to
  our knowing what are orders?”

  “No, sir,—none at all,—just the orders I like! To go right down the
  Plank Road and strike the enemy wherever I find him!”

  He found him, in the person of the Fifth Corps, near Locust Grove, at
  the noon hour. The battle of the Wilderness began,—a vast infantry
  battle, fought in thick woods, woods so thick that in those coverts of
  dwarf pine and oak artillery could not be used, so thick that an
  officer could not see his whole line, so thick that the approach of
  troops was often known only by the noise of their movement through the
  scrub, or, as night came down, by the light from the mouths of the
  muskets. This was the battle of the first day, and it was long and
  sanguinary and indecisive. Corps of Ewell and Hill—corps of Hancock
  and Warren and Sedgwick fought it. Ewell gained and held an advantage,
  but Wilcox and Heth of Hill’s had a desperate, exhausting struggle
  with Hancock’s men. Poague’s battalion of artillery strove to help,
  but artillery in the Wilderness could do little. Six divisions charged
  Heth and Wilcox. They held their own, but they barely held it. When
  darkness fell and the thunders were stilled there came a promise that
  during the night they should be relieved. Resting upon it, they built
  a rude breastwork, and then, worn out, dropped upon the earth and
  slept.

  Lee sent a courier on a swift horse to meet Longstreet and order a
  night march. At one o’clock of a starlit night the latter took the
  road, and at daylight of the sixth he came to Parker’s Store, on the
  edge of the Wilderness, three miles behind Hill’s line of battle, and
  as he came he heard the roar of battle upon this front.

  Hancock fell in the grey light on Heth and Wilcox. The Wilderness
  echoed the musketry and the shouting. It was a furious onslaught, for
  a time a furious answer—and then Wilcox’s line, exhausted, decimated,
  broke and rolled in confusion down the Orange Plank Road. When the men
  reached Poague’s artillery they made a wavering stand. The guns,
  crashing into battle, did what they might to help. But Hancock’s
  shouting lines came on. A furious musketry fire burst in the face of
  the guns, a leaden rain hard pelting from just across the road, the
  drops falling thick and fast among the guns and the gunners and a
  company of mounted officers behind. The grey infantry, exposed to
  volley after volley, broke again; all the place became a troubled grey
  sea, cross-waves and confusion.

  Lee rode out from the group of officers. “Rally, men, rally!” he
  cried. “General Longstreet is coming!”

  _O Marse Robert! O Marse Robert!_

  The boisterous rain came and came again from the coverts of the
  Wilderness. Hancock’s men shouted loudly. They saw the grey overthrow.
  “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!” they shouted.

  Lee rose in his stirrups. “Rally, Army of Northern Virginia!—”

  “_Longstreet! Longstreet!_”

  Double-column and double-time, Longstreet came down the Plank Road.
  Deploying, Kershaw came into line under fire to the right. Deploying,
  Field swung across on the left. “Charge, Kershaw!” ordered Longstreet.
  Kershaw charged, and flung back the shouting blue advance; Field, on
  the left, advancing at a run, swept past the smoking guns and Lee,
  sitting Traveller. Gregg’s Texans were in front. “General Lee! General
  Lee!” they shouted. Lee lifted his hat, and then he spurred grey
  Traveller and kept beside the Texans.

  “He’s going in with them!” exclaimed an aide. “He mustn’t do that!”

  Gregg turned his head. “General Lee, you mustn’t go with us! We can’t
  allow that, sir!”

  Now the men saw, too. “Do you mean—No, no! that won’t do! _General Lee
  to the rear!_”

  “But, men—”

  There rose a cry. “We won’t go on unless you go back! _General Lee to
  the rear!_”

  A man took hold of Traveller’s bridle and turned him.

  On dashed the Texans—eight hundred of them. They went now through open
  field, now through pines. They struck Webb’s brigade of Hancock’s
  corps. Blue and grey, there sprang a roar of musketry. Four hundred of
  the eight hundred fell, lay dead or wounded; then with a loud and long
  cry there swept to the aid of Gregg, Benning’s Texans, Georgia, and
  Alabama. Law and Benning and Gregg pushed back the blue.

  For hours it was the tug of war. Blue and grey they swayed and swung
  and the Wilderness howled with the conflict. Smoke mounted. The firing
  waxed until sound was no more discrete but continuous. Although it was
  not night the Wilderness grew dark. And beneath the solid roof of
  smoke and sound men lay gasping on mother earth, dyeing the grass with
  their blood, plucking with their fingers at strengthless stems,
  putting out their tongues where there was no moisture, biting the
  dust. In the sick brain, to and fro, went the words “_This is the
  end_,” and “_Why? O God, why?_”

  The blue left rested south of the Plank Road. With four brigades under
  Mahone, Longstreet began a turning movement. It succeeded. Mahone
  struck the blue, flank and rear, while Longstreet hurled other troops
  against their front. The blue line crumpled up, surged in confusion
  back upon the Brock Road. The noise grew heavier, the Wilderness
  darker.

  And then occurred one of those things called coincidences. One year
  ago a very great general had been given death in the Wilderness by a
  mistaken volley from his own men. Now on this day in the Wilderness a
  general, not so great, but able, and necessary that day to the grey
  fortunes, rode with a brigade which he was about to place in line,
  through the wood alongside the Plank Road. The wood was thick and the
  road wound. Longstreet, with him Generals Jenkins and Kershaw, pressed
  forward through the oak scrub, torn and veiled with smoke, and now in
  many places afire. All the air was now so thick, it was hard in that
  wild place to tell friend from foe. As had done Lane’s North
  Carolinians last year, so this year did Mahone’s men. They saw or felt
  the approach of a column, whose colour they could not see; some
  command parallel with the moving troops chanced just then to deliver
  fire; Mahone’s men thought that the shots came from the approaching
  body, hardly outlined as it was in the murk. They answered with a
  volley. Jenkins was killed, and Longstreet severely wounded.

  “What are you doing? What are you doing?” shouted Kershaw; and at last
  grey understood that it was grey.

  Says the artillery officer, Robert Stiles, who has been quoted before:
  “I observed an excited gathering some distance back of the lines, and,
  pressing toward it, I heard that General Longstreet had just been shot
  down and was being put into an ambulance. I could not learn anything
  definite as to the character of his wound, but only that it was
  serious—some said that he was dead. When the ambulance moved off, I
  followed it for a little way.... The members of his staff surrounded
  the vehicle, some riding in front, some on one side and some on the
  other, and some behind. One, I remember, stood upon the rear step of
  the ambulance, seeming to desire to be as near him as possible. I
  never on any occasion during the four years of the war saw a group of
  officers and gentlemen more deeply distressed. They were literally
  bowed down with grief. All of them were in tears. One, by whose side I
  rode for some distance, was himself severely hurt, but he made no
  allusion to his wound, and I do not believe that he felt it.... I rode
  up to the ambulance and looked in. They had taken off Longstreet’s hat
  and coat and boots. The blood had paled out of his face, and its
  somewhat gross aspect was gone. I noticed how white and dome-like his
  great forehead looked and, with scarcely less reverent admiration, how
  spotless white his socks, and his fine gauze undervest, save where the
  black red gore from his breast and shoulder had stained it.... His
  eyelids frayed apart till I could see a delicate line of blue between
  them, and then he very quietly moved his unwounded arm, and with his
  thumb and two fingers carefully lifted the saturated undershirt from
  his chest, holding it up a moment, and heaved a deep sigh.”

  The grey attack, disorganized by Longstreet’s fall, hung in the wind,
  until Lee came up and led it on. But time had been lost, and though
  much was done, it was not that which might have been done. The blue
  were behind long lines of log breastworks on the Brock Road. Again and
  again the grey beat against these. At times they took this work or
  that, but could not hold it. Along the front of one command the
  breastwork caught fire. The blue fought to put it out, but could not;
  flame and smoke made a barrier alike to grey or blue. On the Plank
  Road, Burnside fell upon Law’s Alabamians and a Florida brigade, but
  Heth came up and with Alabama and Florida thrust back Burnside. At
  sunset, though the sun could not be seen in the Wilderness, Ewell
  flung Gordon with Pegram and Hays against the Federal right. The
  assault was well planned and determined to desperation. The blue right
  was driven as had been the blue left in the morning. The sun sank,
  black night came, and the battle closed. There lay in the Wilderness
  perhaps two thousand dead in grey and five thousand wounded. There lay
  in the Wilderness more than two thousand dead in blue and twelve
  thousand wounded. There were three thousand in blue captured or
  missing. There were fifteen hundred grey prisoners.

  Night was not so black in all parts of the Wilderness. In parts it was
  fearfully red. The Wilderness was afire. Pine and oak scrub and the
  dry leaves beneath and the sedge in open places,—they flared like tow.
  They flared where the battle had been fought; they flared where were
  the wounded. Here and there in the Wilderness arose a horrible crying.
  Volunteers and volunteers, blue and grey, companies of volunteers,
  plunged into the smoke, among the red tongues. They did what the fire
  would let them do. They brought out many and many and many. But an
  unknown number of hundreds were burned to death.

  All day the seventh they skirmished. The night of the seventh the
  blue, weary of the Wilderness, moved with swiftness southeast toward
  Spottsylvania Court-House. “Get so between him and Richmond,” said
  Grant, as at Dalton Sherman was saying, “Get so between him and
  Atlanta.” But as Johnston moved on inner lines and with more swiftness
  than Sherman, so Lee moved on inner lines and with more swiftness than
  Grant. Flexible as a Toledo blade was the grey army. With the noise of
  the blue column on the Brock Road sprang almost simultaneously the
  sound of the grey column moving cross-country and then by the Shady
  Grove Road. Grant, bent on “swinging past” Lee, came to Spottsylvania
  in the bright morning light of the eighth of May, to find Jeb Stuart
  drawn across the Brock Road; behind him the First Corps.



                              CHAPTER XXVI
                            THE BLOODY ANGLE


  Roughly speaking, the Confederate position in the three days’ battle
  of Spottsylvania—country of Alexander Spottswood, sometime periwigged
  Governor of the Colony of Virginia—was a great reversed V, the apex
  turned northward, the base laved by the river Po, the First Corps
  holding the western face, the Second Corps the eastern, the Third
  Corps at first in reserve, but afterwards sufficiently involved, Lee
  himself at Spottsylvania Court-House, just within the eastern line.
  The country was a rough one of oak and pine, though not so densely
  wooded as the Wilderness, the weather upon the ninth and tenth
  dazzlingly hot and dusty, the eleventh and twelfth days of fog and
  streaming rain. It was a strong position.

  On May eighth, the two antagonists entrenched themselves, made their
  dispositions and placed their batteries. On May ninth, there was much
  skirmishing, heavy enough at times to be called an engagement. On this
  day, on the blue side, there was killed General Sedgwick. From the
  beginning of the campaign, Jeb Stuart had most seriously interfered
  with the blue host. On the eighth, Grant ordered Sheridan to strike
  out independently for Richmond and so draw Stuart away from the field
  of Spottsylvania. At sunrise on the ninth, Sheridan and ten thousand
  horsemen took the Telegraph Road that stretched from Fredericksburg to
  Richmond. At sundown they came to Beaver Dam Station and the Virginia
  Central Railroad. Here they captured a trainload of wounded and
  prisoners on the way from Spottsylvania to Richmond. Here they
  released three hundred and seventy Federal captives, and here they set
  fire to all trains and buildings and tore up the railroad track and
  made birds’ nests of the telegraph wires. And here they heard Stuart
  on their heels. On the tenth, they crossed the South Anna at Ground
  Squirrel Bridge, not without skirmishing. At night Stuart’s shells
  rained into their camps. On the eleventh, one blue brigade had an
  encounter with Munford at Ashland while the main force swept on to
  Glen Allen. Here they met Stuart’s strong skirmish line, and, driving
  it in at last, came to Yellow Tavern, six miles from Richmond.

  Back in Spottsylvania, all day the tenth of May there was fighting,
  fighting by the river Po, between Heth’s division and troops of
  Hancock, artillery work and skirmishing along all lines; in the
  afternoon a great blue assault, desperately repelled. The Federal loss
  this day was four thousand, the Confederate, two thousand.

  The eleventh saw a lull, a still and oppressive pause in things. The
  blue made a reconnoissance, much interfered with by grey
  sharpshooters, but a reconnoissance big with results. What had been
  cloudy knowledge became clear; there sprang into intense light a thing
  that might be done. That night the Federal Second and Ninth Corps
  slept on their arms in a sheltering wood a thousand yards and more
  from the salient that marked the grey centre, from the narrow part of
  the V, held by Edward Johnson’s division of Ewell’s corps.

  All day the eleventh the grey had strengthened breastworks and made
  inner lines. There was a fine, slow rain, and the mist of it, added to
  the smoke from the burning forest and the clouds from the cannon
  mouth, made a dull, obscuring atmosphere. In the afternoon came with
  positiveness the statement of a reconnoitring party. A blue column, in
  motion southward, had been observed to cross the Po. At the same time
  arrived a message from Early. “Certainly some movement of the enemy to
  the left.” Now another flank movement of Grant’s, another attempt to
  “swing past,” another effort to get between the Army of Northern
  Virginia and Richmond was so probable, so entirely on the cards, that
  Lee accepted the report as correct and prepared to act accordingly. He
  prepared to move during the night that supple, mobile army of his, and
  in speed and silence again to lay it across Grant’s road. Among other
  orders he sent one to his artillery chiefs. All guns on the left and
  centre that might be “difficult of access” were to be withdrawn at
  nightfall. So, later, they would be ready to come swiftly and
  noiselessly into column. Having received the order, Ewell’s chief of
  artillery removed all guns from the high and broken ground at the
  point of the V. Toward midnight Lee received assurance that the blue
  movement across the Po had been but a reconnoissance. Mahone and
  Wilcox, whom he had sent toward Shady Grove, were recalled, and the
  Army of Northern Virginia prepared to meet on this ground the Army of
  the Potomac. Certain orders were countermanded, certain others given.
  But through some negligence or other the order to restore to their
  original position the guns “difficult of access” did not that night
  reach the proper officers. When the first pallid light came into the
  sky the guns were away from the salient, the point of the V. And a
  thousand yards in the forest lay, on their arms, waiting for the dawn,
  the Second and Ninth Army Corps.

  The salient—for hundreds of yards it thrust itself out toward the
  blue, like a finger pointing from a clenched hand. And the finger nail
  was the Bloody Angle.

  Billy Maydew, rising from the wet earth at four o’clock, found that
  the rain was coming down and the world was wrapped in fog. “Thunder
  Run Mountain can’t see Peaks of Otter this morning!” he said. He stood
  up, tall and lean and twenty-one, and stretched himself. “Hope
  grandpap and the dawgs air setting comfortable by the fire!”

  Certainly the Stonewall Brigade, Johnson’s division, Ewell’s corps,
  was not warm and comfortable. Felled wet trees did as well for
  breastwork and traverse and abatis as dry, but they were not so good
  for camp-fires. The fires this streaming break-of-day were a farce.
  The ground behind the breastworks was rough and now very muddy, and
  the great number of stumps of trees had a dismal look. Where a fire
  was kindled the smoke refused to rise, but clung dark, thick, and
  suffocating. The air struck shiveringly cold, and the woods north and
  east and west of the sharp salient were as invisible as a fog-mantled
  coast. Billy, standing high in the angle’s narrowest part, had a
  curious feeling. He had never been on a ship or he might have thought,
  “I am driving fast into something behind that fog.” As it was, he
  shook off the slight dizziness and looked about him—at the thronged
  deck where everybody was trying to get breakfast, at the long
  trenches, each side of the salient and rounding the point, at the log
  and earth breastworks and the short traverses, at the abatis of felled
  trees, branches outward, much like the swirl of waves to either side
  the ship’s prow. He looked at the parapets where the guns had been,
  and then, brigade headquarters’ fire being near, he listened to an
  aide from the division commander. “General Johnson says, sir, that he
  has sent again for the guns, sent for the third time. They’re coming,
  but the road is frightfully heavy. He says the moment they are here,
  get them into position and trained. In the mean time keep the sharpest
  kind of lookout.”

  Billy had not thought much of it before, but now it came over him. “We
  air in a darned defenceless position out here.”

  He went back to where his mess was struggling with a fire not big
  enough to toast hard-tack. He had hardly joined them when a drum beat
  and an order rang the length and breadth of the salient. _Fall in!_

  He was down in one of the trenches, the Sixty-fifth with him, right
  and left. Turning his head, he saw Cleave stand a moment looking at
  the platforms where the batteries had been and now were not, then walk
  along the trenches and speak to the men. Lieutenant Coffin he saw,
  too, slight, pale, romantic-looking, and troubled at the moment
  because he had unwittingly stepped into a mud-hole which had mired him
  above the knee. He had a bit of scrap iron and with it was scraping
  the mud away, steadying himself, shoulder against a tree.

  Billy smiled. “Ain’t he a funny mixture? Hates a speck of mud ’most as
  much as he hates a greyback! Funny when I think of how I used to hate
  _him_!” He looked along the line and at the companies in reserve and
  at the clusters of officers, with here or there a solitary figure, and
  at the regiments of the Stonewall Brigade, and the other brigades of
  Johnson’s division, and then out through a crack between two logs, to
  the picket line beyond the abatis and to the misty wood. “I don’t know
  that I hate anybody now,” said Billy aloud.

  “Don’t you?” asked the man next him. “I wouldn’t be a namby-pamby like
  that! I couldn’t get along without hating, any more than I could
  without tansy in the spring-time!”

  “Oh, thar air times,” said Billy equably, “when I think I hate the
  Yanks.”

  “Think! Don’t you know?”

  Billy was counting the cartridges in his cartridge-box. “Why,” he said
  when he had finished, “sometimes of course I hate them like p’ison
  oak. But then thar air other times when I consider that—according to
  their newspapers—they hate me like p’ison oak, too. Now I do a power
  of wrong things, I know, but I air not p’ison oak. And so, according
  to what Allan calls ‘logic,’ maybe they air not p’ison oak either.
  Thar was a man in the Wilderness. The fire in the scrub was coming
  enough to feel the devil in it—closer and closer. And his spine was
  hurt and he couldn’t move, and he had his shoulder against a log, one
  end of which was blazing. He was sitting there all lit up by that
  light, and he had his musket butt up and was trying to beat out his
  brains. Me and Jim Watts got him out, and he was from Boston and a
  young man like me, and I liked him just as well as ever I liked any
  man. He put his arms around my neck and he hugged me and cried, and I
  hugged him, too, and I reckon I cried, too. And Jim and me got him out
  through the scrub afire. He wa’n’t no p’ison oak, no more’n I were.”

  “Well, what’re you fighting for?”

  “I am fighting,” said Billy, “for the right to secede.”


  Out in the fog a picket fired. Another and another followed. There
  arose a sputter of musketry, then a sound of voices and of running
  feet, heavy on the sodden earth. In a moment there was commotion, up
  and down, within the salient. In fell the pickets—anyhow—over the
  breastworks. “They’re coming! they’re coming! All of them! It looked
  like—!”

  They came, Barlow’s division in two lines of two brigades each “closed
  in mass,” Birney’s division, Mott’s division, Gibbon behind. Barlow
  came over an open space, Birney through a wood of stunted pines and by
  a marsh. Together they wrapped with fire the extended finger that was
  the salient. There rose a grey shouting, “The guns! the guns! Hasten
  the guns!” The guns were coming—Page’s and Cutshaw’s—the guns were
  hastening, coming in two lines, twenty-two guns, through the tangled,
  sopping wood—horses and drivers and cannoneers straining every nerve.
  The ground was frightful beneath foot and wheel. Two guns got up in
  time to fire three rounds into the looming blue. Then the storm broke,
  and the angle became the spot on earth where, it is estimated, in all
  the history of the earth the musketry fire was the heaviest. It became
  the “Bloody Angle.”

[Illustration: THE BLOODY ANGLE]

  Billy fired, bit a cartridge, loaded, fired, loaded, fired, loaded,
  fired, and all over and over again, then, later, used his bayonet,
  then clubbed his musket and struck with it, lifted, struck, lifted,
  struck. Each distinct action carried with it a more or less distinct
  thought. “This is going to be hell here, presently,” thought the first
  cartridge. “No guns and every other Yank in creation coming jumping!”
  “_Thunder Run!_“ thought the second; ”_Thunder Run, Thunder Run,
  Thunder Run!_” Thought the third, “I killed that man with the twisted
  face.” Thought the fourth, “I forgot to give Dave back his tin cup.”
  The fifth cartridge had an irrelevant vision of the school-house and
  the water-bucket on the bench by the door. The sixth thought, “That
  man won’t go home either!” Down the line went the word, _Bayonets!_
  and he fixed his bayonet, the gun-bore burning his fingers as he did
  so. The breastwork here was log and earth. Now other bayonets appeared
  over it, and behind the bayonets blue caps. “I have heard many a
  fuss,” said the first bayonet thrust, “but never a fuss like this!”
  “Blood, blood!” said the second. “I am the bloody Past! Just as strong
  and young as ever I was! More blood!”

  The trenches grew slippery with blood. It mixed with the rain and ran
  in red streamlets. The bayonet point felt first the folds of cloth,
  then it touched and broke the skin, then it parted the tissues, then
  it grated against bone, or, passing on, rending muscle and gristle,
  protruded, a crimson point. Withdrawn, it sought another body, sought
  it fast, and found it. Those men who had room to fire kept on firing,
  the blue into breast and face of the grey, the grey into breast and
  face of the blue. Flame scorched the flesh of each. Pistols were used
  as well as muskets. Where there was not room to fire, or time to load,
  where one could not well thrust with the bayonet, the stock of gun or
  pistol was used as a club. Where weapons had been wrested away men
  clutched with bare hands one anothers’ throats. And all this went on,
  not among a dozen or even fifty infuriated beings, but among
  thousands. Over all was the smoke, through which, as through a leaky
  roof, poured the rain.

  The blue came over the breastwork, down the slippery side, into the
  trenches. Their feet pressed dead bodies or slipped in the bloody
  mire. The grey seemed to lift them bodily and throw them back upon the
  other side. Then across the parapet broke out again the storm of
  musketry. There were four thousand defending the salient, there were
  thrice as many pressing to the attack. From the rear Ewell was
  throwing forward brigades, but they could not come in time. The
  twenty-two guns were now here, but only two were unlimbered, when the
  blue finally overran the Bloody Angle.

  They poured into the salient, they took three thousand grey prisoners,
  amongst them Johnson himself and General Steuart; they took twenty of
  Page and Cutshaw’s twenty-two guns. They swept on, hurrahing, to the
  second line across the salient, and here they met the troops of Hill
  and Early. Gordon and Rodes, brigades of Lane and Ramseur and Perrin,
  brigades of Mississippi and South Carolina, artillery from any quarter
  that could be brought to bear, all crashed against the rushing blue.
  All day it lasted, the battle of the broken centre, with movements of
  diversion elsewhere; an attack, violently repulsed, upon Anderson of
  Longstreet’s; and Early’s victory over Burnside. But it was over and
  around the salient that man’s rage waxed hottest. So dense in the
  rain-laden air was the smoke, both from the artillery and the enormous
  volume of musketry, that although they were neighbours, indeed,
  neither side now clearly saw its target. Each side fired at edges and
  gleams of humanity. Now a work was captured and held, perhaps for
  five, perhaps for twenty minutes. Then it was retaken. Now it was the
  Stars and Stripes that waved above it, and now it was the Stars and
  Bars. The abatis became a trap to take the living and hold the dead.
  It and all the standing trees were riddled by bullets, split into
  broom-straw. Trees of considerable diameter, bit in twain by the
  leaden teeth, crashed down upon the commands beneath. The artillery,
  roaring into the battle from every feasible point, raked the ground
  with canister, bringing down the living and dreadfully mangling the
  already fallen. The face of the earth was kneaded into a paste with
  blood and water. The blood seemed to have gotten upon the flags. And
  always from the rear was handed on the ammunition.... The Sixty-fifth
  was among the uncaptured. Billy had become an automaton.

  Night closed the conflict. The blue had gained the capture of three
  fourths of a division, but little since or beside. When total darkness
  came down there lay upon the field of Spottsylvania sixteen thousand
  Federal dead and wounded. The grey loss was not so great, but it was
  great enough. And never now with the grey could any loss be afforded.
  With the grey the blood that was lost was arterial blood.

  At dawn Lee still held the great V, save only the extreme point, the
  narrow Bloody Angle. This was covered and possessed by the blue, and
  at the dawn details came to gather the wounded and bury the dead. The
  dead lay thronged. The blue buried their own, and then they came and
  looked upon the trenches on the grey side of the breastworks, and the
  grey dead lay there so thick that it was ghastly. They lay in blood
  stiffened with earth, and their pale faces looked upwards, and their
  cold hands still clutched their muskets. A ray from the rising sun
  struck upon them. “With much labour,” says a Federal eye-witness, “a
  detail of Union soldiers buried these dead by simply turning the
  captured breastworks upon them.”

  Back somewhere near the river Po, in the width of the V, a mounted
  officer met a mounted comrade. The latter was shining wet, he and his
  horse, from a swollen ford. Each drew rein.

  “Have you anything to eat?” said the one from across the Po. “I am
  dizzy, I am so famished.”

  “I’ve got a little brown sugar. Here—”

  He poured it into the hollow of the other’s hand, who ate it eagerly.
  “Has anything,” asked the first, “been heard from Richmond way—from
  Stuart?”

  The other let fall his hand, sticky with the sugar. He looked at his
  fellow with sombre eyes. “Where have you been,” he said, “not to have
  heard?—Stuart is dead.”



                             CHAPTER XXVII
                                RICHMOND


  “From lightning and tempest; from plague, pestilence and famine; from
  battle and murder, and from sudden death,

  “_Good Lord, deliver us_.”


  By most the words were sobbed out. May the eighth, and the Wilderness
  vast in the minds of all, and fresh battle impending, now at
  Spottsylvania! It was a congregation of men and women, dusky in
  raiment, bereaved, torn by anxieties, sick with alternating hope and
  fear. Only on one’s bed at night, or here in church, could the
  overladen heart speak without shame or acknowledgment of weakness.
  Outside, one must be brave again. The overladen heart expressed itself
  not loudly but very truly. The kneeling women looked crushed and
  immobile in that position. Over them was flung a veil of black, and a
  hand, potent from the beginning of ages, seemed yet more heavily to
  press downward their bowed heads. The men knelt more stiffly, but
  they, too, rested their foreheads on their clasped hands, and the
  tears came from between their closed lids.

  On rolled the service, through to the benediction. Richmond in Saint
  Paul’s came out of church into the flower-perfumed sunlight. Here, men
  and women, they took up life again, and took it up with courage. And
  as the proper face of courage is a smiling one, so with these.
  Laughter, even, was heard in Richmond—Richmond scarred and
  battle-worn; Richmond, where was disease and crowding and wounds and
  starvation; Richmond ringed with earthworks; Richmond the city
  contended for; Richmond between her foes, Army of the Potomac
  threatening from the Wilderness, Army of the James, lesser but
  formidable, threatening from the river gate; Richmond, where the alarm
  bell was always ringing, ringing! Two days ago it had pealed the news
  that Butler, bringing up a fleet from Fortress Monroe, had made a
  landing at Bermuda Hundred. Thirty-nine ships there were in
  all—thirty-eight, when a gunboat, running upon a torpedo, was blown
  into fragments. They landed thirty-six thousand troops and overran the
  narrow ground between the Appomattox and the James. Petersburg was
  threatened, and from that side Richmond. The bell told it all with an
  iron tongue. Pickett was at Petersburg, reinforced by Hagood’s
  brigade, and troops were coming from the Carolinas—some troops, how
  many no one knew save that they could not be many. Yesterday again the
  thrilling, rapid, iron tongue had spoken. The enemy had seized and was
  wrecking the Petersburg railroad.... So many words had come forward in
  this war, had their day, or short or long, and gone out of men’s
  mouths! Now the word “Petersburg” came forward, it being its turn. The
  alarm bell called out the militia and the City Battalion and the
  clerks from the various departments. They were all ready if the blue
  cannon came nearer.

  Storm and oppression were in the air—and yet the town on its seven
  hills was fair, with May flowers and the fresh green of many trees in
  which sang the mating birds. The past winter and early spring there
  had existed, leaping like a sudden flame, dying to a greying ember,
  and then leaping again, a strange gaiety. It had seized but a certain
  number in the heavy-hearted city, but these it had seized. Youth was
  youth, and must sing some manner of song and play a little no matter
  what the storm. There were bizarre “starvation parties,” charades,
  concerts, dances, amateur theatricals, an historic presentation of
  “The Rivals.” It was all natural enough; it had its place in the
  symphony of 1864. But now it was over. The soldiers had gone back to
  the front, the campaign had begun, and no one could really sing,
  watching the wounded come in.

  Judith and Unity Cary walked up Grace Street together. They were not
  wearing black; Warwick Cary had never liked it. Moreover, in this year
  of the war a black gown and bonnet and veil would cost a fearful
  amount, and there were known to be women and children starving. The
  day was bright and warm, with drifts of perfume. An officer of the
  President’s staff lifted his cap, then walked beside them.

  “Isn’t it a lovely day?—If I were a king with a hundred palaces, I
  should have around each one a brick wall with wistaria over it!”

  “No, dark red roses—”

  “I shouldn’t have a wall at all—unless it were one with a number of
  gates—and only one palace! A reasonable palace, with an unreasonable
  number of white roses—”

  A lieutenant-colonel, aged twenty-six, with an arm in a sling, and a
  patch over one eye, here joined them. “Good morning! Isn’t it a lovely
  day! I was just thinking it wasn’t half so lovely a day as the days
  are at Greenwood, and lo and behold! just then it became just as
  lovely!—What do you think! It’s confirmed that Beauregard is on his
  way from North Carolina—”

  “Good!”

         “‘_Beau canon, Beauregard! Beau soldat, Beauregard!
           Beau sabreur! beau frappeur! Beauregard! Beauregard!_’

  Now I’ve shocked that old lady crossing the street! Harry, tell her it
  was a Russian hymn!”

  They walked on beneath the bright trees. “The —— wedding has been
  postponed,” said Unity. “They thought there was time, but two days
  before the day they had set, he had to go. It will be as soon as he
  comes back.”

  “By George! but I was at a wedding out in Hanover!” said the
  lieutenant-colonel. “The bride was dressed in homespun, with a wreath
  of apple blossoms. The bridesmaids were in black, just taken as they
  were from all the neighbouring families. The groom had lost his arm
  and a piece of shell at Mine Run had cut away an ear, just as neat!
  The best man was a lame civilian who had somehow inherited and held
  fast a beautiful black broadcloth suit,—very tight pantaloons and a
  sprigged velvet waistcoat! He had acted, he told me, as best man at
  thirty weddings in the last year ‘because he had the clothes.’ The
  wedding guests had come in what they had and it was a wonderful
  display. The bride had six brothers and a father marching on the
  Wilderness, and the groom was just out of hospital. There were three
  wounded cousins in the house, and in the stable a favourite war-horse
  being doctored for a sabre cut. Most of the servants had left, but
  there was a fiddler still on the place, and we danced till midnight.
  There was a Confederate bridecake, and a lot of things made with dried
  apples and sorghum. By George, it was fine!”

  “The bell!”

  The iron voice rang through the city. Faces came to the open
  windows, questioning voices arose, men passed, walking rapidly, the
  aide and the lieutenant-colonel said good-bye in haste and went with
  the rest. The loud ringing ceased; it had not lasted long enough to
  mark anything very terrible. Judith and Unity waited by a
  honeysuckle-draped gate until the clamour had ceased, and then until
  there came reassurance from a passer-by. “Nothing alarming! A slight
  engagement at Drewry’s Bluff, and a feint this way!”

  The kinsman’s house where Judith had stayed before sheltered now the
  two sisters. Judith was here because, during the weeks of inaction
  preceding the opening of the campaign, Cleave could now and again come
  to Richmond for a day. Unity was here because of sheer need of change,
  so weary long had been the winter at Greenwood. Change was change,
  even if both plays were tragedies. Now they went into the house that,
  like all houses in Richmond, was filled with people. Of the three
  sons, one had died in prison and the others were with Lee. The house
  was murmurous with the voices of women and quite elderly men, across
  which bubbled the clear notes of children. So much of the great State
  was overrun now by the foe, so many homes were burned, so much
  subsistence was destroyed, so impossible was it to stay in the old
  home region, that always, everywhere, occurred a movement of refugees.
  There was a tendency for the streams to set toward Richmond; unwise
  but natural. Almost every quarter was now threatened; one went into
  peaceful fields to-day, and to-morrow one must move again. Richmond!
  Richmond was surely safe, Richmond would surely never fall.... There
  was a restless straining, too, toward the heart of things. So the
  refugees came to Richmond and, with the troops coming and going, and
  Government and the departments and the inmates of the great hospitals
  and the inmates of the mournful prisons, crowded the city.

  Judith and Unity had together the small, high-up, white room behind
  the tulip tree that had been Judith’s before and during and after the
  Seven Days. Now they climbed to it, laid away their things, and
  prepared for the three o’clock dinner. Judith sat in the window-seat,
  her hands about her knee, her head thrown back against the white wood,
  her eyes on the shimmering distance seen between the boughs.

  “Once this window faced as it should,” she said; “I could watch the
  camp-fires each night—and I watched—I watched. But now I wish it were
  a northwest window.”

  Unity, at the mirror, coiled her bright, brown hair. “By the time it
  was cut you might need another.”

  “That is true,” said Judith. “The sky reddens all round, and one needs
  a room all windows.”

  They went downstairs. As they approached the cool dining-room, with
  its portraits and silver and old blue china, a very sweet voice
  floated out. “He said, ‘Exactly, madam! You take your money to market
  in the market-basket, and you bring home what you buy in your
  pocketbook!’”

  The next day and the next they spent in part at a hospital, in part
  breathlessly waiting with the waiting city for news, news, news!—news
  from Spottsylvania, where the great fighting was in progress; news
  from south of the river, where Butler, most hated of all foes, was
  entrenched, where there was fighting at Port Walthall; news, on the
  tenth, of Sheridan’s approach, of much burning and destroying, news
  that Stuart was countering Sheridan. “Oh, it is all right, then!” said
  many; but yet by day and by night there was tenseness of apprehension.

  All the town was hot and breathless. The alarm bell rang, the dust
  whirled through the streets. The night of the tenth, Judith and Unity
  were wakened by a drum beating. A minute later a voice spoke outside
  their door. “Sheridan is within a few miles of Richmond. He is moving
  on us with eight thousand horse. Your cousin says you had better get
  up and dress.”

  All of the household except the sleeping children gathered on the
  porch that overhung the pavement. It was two o’clock. The drum was
  still beating and now there came by soldiers. _We’re going out the
  Brook Turnpike_, said the drum. _Out the Brook Turnpike. Meet them!
  We’re going to meet them!_ Three or four regiments passed. The drum
  turned a corner and the sound died, going northward. The streets were
  filled with people as though it were day. They went up and down
  quietly enough; without panic, but seized by a profound restlessness.
  Toward four o’clock a man came riding up the street on horseback,
  stopping every hundred yards or so to say in a loud, manly voice, “The
  President has heard from General Stuart. With Fitzhugh Lee and Hampton
  and Munford, General Stuart has taken position between us and a large
  cavalry force under Sheridan. There has been a fight at Ashland in
  which we were victors. General Stuart is now approaching Yellow
  Tavern. The President says, ‘Good people, go to bed, Richmond’s got a
  great shield before it!’”

  The eleventh dawned. Richmond now heard the cannon again, from the
  north and from the south. Judith and Unity heard them from the
  hospital windows. There was a delirious soldier whom they had to hold
  in bed because he thought that it was his battery fighting against
  odds, and Pegram was calling him. “Yes, Major! I’m coming! Yes, Major!
  I’ve got the powder. I’m coming!” By ten o’clock ran through the
  excited ward the tidings that they were fighting, fighting in
  Spottsylvania, “Fighting like hell.” The sound of cannon came from the
  south side. “Butler over there—New Orleans Butler! ——! —— ——! When’s
  Beauregard coming?”

  “General Beauregard has come. He is at Petersburg.”

  “Miss What’s-your-name, why don’t you warm your hands? That ain’t any
  way to touch poor sick soldiers with them icicles like that!—O Lord, O
  Lord! Why’d I ever come here?”

  “Them cannon’s getting louder all the time. Louder’n’, louder’n’,
  louder—”

  “Shoo! They can’t cross the river. Where’s Jeb Stuart? What’s he
  doing?”

  “He’s fighting hard, six miles out, at Yellow Tavern. Uptown you can
  hear the firing!”

  A young man struggled up in bed, first coughing, then breathing with a
  loud, whistling sound. The doctor glanced his way, then looked at a
  nurse. “It’s come. I’ll give him something so he can go easily. Let
  him lean against you. Tell the men to try to be quiet.”

  Out at Yellow Tavern, six miles north of Richmond, Sheridan was formed
  in line of battle. Over against him was Stuart, his men dismounted.
  The blue delivered a great volley, advanced, volleyed again, advanced,
  shouting. The grey returned their fire. James Stuart, sitting his
  horse just behind his battle-line, swung his hat, lifted his voice
  that was the voice of a magician, “Steady, men, steady! Give a good
  day’s account of yourself! Steady! Steady!”

  The firing became fiercer and closer. There was a keening sound in the
  air. Stuart’s voice suddenly dropped; he swayed in his saddle. A
  mounted courier pressed toward him. “Go,” he said; “go tell General
  Lee and Dr. Fontaine to come here.” The courier spurred away and the
  men around Stuart lifted him from his horse, and, mourning, bore him
  to the rear.

  That evening they brought him into the city and laid him in the house
  of his brother-in-law. His wife was sent for, but she was miles away,
  in the troubled, overrun countryside, and though she fared toward him
  in haste and anguish, she spoke to him no more alive. Friends were
  around him—his mourning officers, all the mourning city. The President
  came and stood beside the bed, and tried to thank him. “You have saved
  Richmond, General. You have always been a bulwark to us....” He asked
  for a hymn that he liked—“I would not live alway.” He had lived but
  thirty-one years. He asked often for his wife. “Is she come?” ... “Is
  she come?” She could not come in time. The evening of the twelfth he
  died, quite peacefully, and those who looked on his dead face said
  that the sunshine abided.

  They buried Jeb Stuart in Hollywood, buried him with no pageantry of
  martial or of civil woe. One year ago there had been in Richmond for
  Stonewall Jackson such pageantry. To-day

            “We could not pause, while yet the noontide air
              Shook with the cannonade’s incessant pealing ...

            “One weary year ago, when came a lull,
              With victory in the conflict’s stormy closes,
            When the glad spring, all flushed and beautiful,
              First mocked us with her roses—

            “With dirge and bell and minute gun we paid
              Some few poor rites, an inexpressive token,
            Of a great people’s pain, to Jackson’s shade,
              In agony unspoken.

            “No wailing trumpet and no tolling bell,
              No cannon, save the battle’s boom receding,
            When Stuart to the grave we bore, might tell,
              With hearts all crushed and bleeding ...”

  But the people thronged to Hollywood, above the rushing river. Hollow
  and hill, ivy-mantled oaks and grass purpled with violets, the place
  was a good one in which to lay down the outworn form that had done
  service and was loved. Flowers grew there with a wild luxuriance.
  To-day they were brought beside from all gardens—

            “We well remembered how he loved to dash,
              Into the fight, festooned from summer’s bowers.
            How like a fountain’s spray, his sabre flash,
              Leaped from a mass of flowers—”

  To-day flowers lined the open grave; they covered the coffin and the
  flag.

  Back in the hospital a man with three wounds wailed all night. “I had
  a brother and he was living up North and so he thought that-er-way.
  And he wrote that he held by the Nation just as hard as I held by the
  State. And so he up and joined the Army of the Potomac and came down
  here. And in the Wilderness the other day—and in the Wilderness the
  other day—oh, in the Wilderness the other day—I was sharpshooting! I
  was up in a tree, close to the bark, like a ’pecker. There was a gully
  below with a stream running down it, and on the other side of the
  gully was an oak with a man in it, close to the bark like a ’pecker.
  And we were Yank and Johnny Reb, and so every time one of us showed as
  much as the tip of a ’pecker’s wing, the other one fired. We fired and
  fired. And at last he wasn’t so cautious, and I got him. And first his
  musket fell, down and down, for he was up high. And then the body came
  and it hit every bough as it came. And something in me gave a word of
  command. It said ‘Go and look.’ I got down out of the oak, for I was
  in an oak tree, too, and I went down one side of the gully and up the
  other. And he was lying all doubled up. And I got another word of
  command, ‘Turn him over.’ And I did, and he was my brother.... And I’m
  tired of war.”



                             CHAPTER XXVIII
                              COLD HARBOUR


  These were the moves of the following two weeks. Six days, from the
  day of the Bloody Angle to the eighteenth of May, the two armies
  stayed as they were, save for slight, shifting, wary movements, as of
  two opposed Indians in the brush. On the eighteenth, the blue
  attacked—again the salient. Ewell, with thirty guns, broke and
  scattered the assault. On the nineteenth, the “sidling” process
  recommenced. On this day Ewell came into contact with the Federal
  left, and in the engagement that ensued both sides lost heavily. The
  night of the twentieth, the Army of the Potomac, Hancock leading,
  started for the North Anna. The morning of the twenty-first, the Army
  of Northern Virginia struck, by the Telegraph Road, for the same
  stream. It had the inner line, and it got there first. At noon the
  twenty-second it began to cross the river. That night Lee and his men
  rested on the southern bank. Morning of the twenty-third showed on the
  opposite shore the head of the blue column.

  The blue crossed at Jericho Ford, and by the Chesterfield Bridge, not
  without conflict and trouble. It won over, but over in two distinctly
  separated wings, and that which separated them was Robert Edward Lee
  and the Army of Northern Virginia. Here was now another V, the point
  now upon the river, unassailable, the sides entrenched, the blue army
  split in twain. Followed two days of unavailing attempts to find a way
  to crush the V. Then, on the night of the twenty-sixth, the blue,
  having fairly effectively hidden its intention, “sidled” again. The
  Army of the Potomac left the North Anna, taking the road for the
  Pamunkey which it crossed at Hanover. The V at once became a column
  and followed.

  The two antagonists were now approaching old and famed war grounds. On
  the twenty-eighth, grey cavalry and blue cavalry—Sheridan against Fitz
  Lee and Wade Hampton—crashed together at Hawes’s Shop. That night Army
  of the Potomac, Army of Northern Virginia, watched each the other’s
  camp-fires on the banks of the Totopotomoy. In the morning Grant
  started for the Chickahominy, but when he reached Cold Harbour it was
  to find Lee between him and the river.

  Two days the two foes rested. There had been giant marching through
  giant heat, constant watching, much fighting. The country that was
  difficult in the days of McClellan was not less so in the days of
  Grant. Marsh and swamp and thicket and hidden roads, and now all
  desolate from years of war.... The first of June passed, the second of
  June passed, with skirmishes and engagements that once the country
  would have stood a-tiptoe to hear of. Now they were nothing. The third
  of June the battle of Cold Harbour crashed into history....

  The dawn came up, crowned with pale violets, majestical and still.
  Upon the old woods, the old marshes, hung a mist, cool and silvery.
  There came a sweet cry of birds in the grey tree-tops. Lee’s long grey
  lines, concave to the foe, stretched from Alexander’s Bridge on the
  Chickahominy to the upper Totopotomoy. On the low earthworks hung the
  gossamers, dewy bright. Grant held the Sydnor’s Sawmill, Bethesda
  Church, and Old Cold Harbour line, roughly paralleling the other. But
  he was north of Lee; Lee was again between him and Richmond—Richmond
  so near now, so very near! Richmond was there before him—no room now
  for “swinging past,” and the lion was there, too, in the path.

  Grant attacked in column. Deep and narrow-fronted, he thrust against
  the grey earthworks like a giant mill-race rather than a wide ocean,
  like one solid catapult rather than a mailed fist at every door.
  Twenty deep, the Second and Sixth Corps poured into the depression
  that was the grey centre. Second and Sixth came on with a shout, and
  the grey answered with a shout and with every musket and cannon.
  Following the Second and Sixth the Eighteenth, phalanxed, dashed
  itself against a salient held by Kershaw.... The battle of Cold
  Harbour was the briefest, the direst! Death swung a scythe against the
  three corps. They were in the gulf of the grey, and Fate came upon
  them from three sides. In effect, it was all over in a very few
  minutes.... The shattered three corps fell back to what cover they
  could find. Here they fired ineffectively from this shelter and from
  that. Before them, between them and the Army of Northern Virginia,
  stretched the plain of their dead and dying, and both lay upon it like
  leaves in autumn. Orders came that the three corps should again
  attack. The more advanced commands obeyed by opening fire from behind
  what shelter they had found or could contrive, but there was no other
  movement. Put out a hand and the wind began to whistle and the air
  over that plain to grow dark with lead! Grant sent a third order.
  _Corps of Hancock, Smith, and Wright to advance to the charge along
  the whole line._ Corps commanders repeated the order to division
  commanders; division commanders repeated it to the brigadiers, but
  that was all. The three corps stood still. Statements, differing as to
  wording but tallying in meaning, travelled from grade to grade, back
  to Headquarters. “It is totally impossible, and the men know it. They
  are not to be blamed.”

  By noon even Grant, who rarely knew when he was beaten, knew that he
  was beaten here. The firing sank away. “The dead and dying lay in
  front of the Confederate lines in triangles, of which the apexes were
  the bravest men who came nearest to the breastworks under the
  withering, deadly fire.” Dead and wounded and missing, ten thousand
  men in blue felt the full force of that hour. Stubborn to the end, it
  was two days before Grant would send a flag of truce and ask
  permission to bury his dead and gather the wounded who had not raved
  themselves to death. “Cold Harbour!” he said, much later in his life;
  “Cold Harbour is, I think, the only battle I ever fought that I would
  not fight over again under the circumstances!”

  “In the opinion of a majority of its survivors,” comments a Federal
  general, “the battle of Cold Harbour never should have been fought. It
  was the dreary, dismal, bloody, ineffective close of the
  Lieutenant-General’s first campaign with the Army of the Potomac, and
  corresponded in all its essential features with what had preceded it.
  The wide and winding path through the tangled Wilderness and the pines
  of Spottsylvania, which that army had cut from the Rapidan to the
  Chickahominy, had been strewn with the bodies of thousands of brave
  men, the majority of them wearing the Union blue.”

  The Campaign of the Thirty Days was ended. Fifty-four thousand men was
  the loss of the blue; something over half that number the loss of the
  grey. Eighty thousand men lay dead, or writhing in war-hospitals, or
  sat bowed in war-prisons. From the Atlantic to the Far West the
  current of human being in these States was troubled. There grew a
  sickness of feeling. The sun seemed to warm less strongly and the moon
  to shine less calmly. As always in war, the best and bravest from the
  first were taking flight; many and many of the good and brave were
  left, but they began to be conscious of a loneliness. “_All, all are
  gone—the old, familiar faces!_” And over the land sounded the mourning
  of homes—the mourning of the mothers and daughters of men. In the
  South life sank a minor third. The chords resounded still, but the
  wrists that struck were growing weak. _Largo ... Largo._

  For a week Army of Northern Virginia, Army of the Potomac, stood
  opposed on the old lines. They entrenched and entrenched, working by
  night; they made much and deadly use of sharpshooters, they engaged in
  artillery duels, in alarums and excursions. On both sides life in the
  trenches was very frightful. They were so crowded, and the
  sharpshooters would not let you sleep. The water was bad, and little
  of it, and on the grey side, at least, there was hunger. The sun in
  heaven burned like a fiery furnace. Far and wide, through the tangled
  country, lay the unburied bodies of men and horses. Sickness
  appeared,—malaria, dysentery. Hour after hour, day after day, you lay
  in the quivering heat, in the unshaded trench. Put out arm or
  head—some sharpshooter’s finger pulled a trigger.

  In these days there began in the Valley of Virginia a movement of
  vandalism under Hunter who had succeeded Sigel. On the fifth of June,
  Lee sent thither Breckinridge with a small force. On the twelfth, with
  his calm, reasoned audacity, acting under the shadow of Grant’s
  continually reinforced army, he detached Jubal Early, sent him with
  Stonewall Jackson’s old Second Corps, by way of Charlottesville to the
  old hunting-grounds of the Second Corps, to the Valley of Virginia.

  The night of the twelfth of June, Grant lifted his tents and pushed to
  the eastward away from Richmond, then to the south, to Wilcox Landing
  below Malvern Hill, on the James. Here, where the river was seven
  hundred yards in width, fifty feet in depth, he built a very great
  bridge of boats, and here the Army of the Potomac crossed to the south
  side of the James. Grant turned his face toward Petersburg, twenty
  miles from Richmond.

  The forces of the North were now where McClellan had wished to place
  them, using the great waterway of the Chesapeake and the James,
  something more than two years ago. They were in a position to mate.
  The Federal Government had worked the problem by the Rule of False.

  At dawn of the thirteenth, Lee left the lines of Cold Harbour and,
  passing the Chickahominy, bivouacked that night between White Oak
  Swamp and Malvern Hill. The next day and the next the Army of Northern
  Virginia crossed the James by pontoon at Drewry’s Bluff, and pressed
  south to the Appomattox and the old town of Petersburg. Here was
  Beauregard, and here, on the fifteenth, Butler, by Grant’s orders, had
  launched an attack from Bermuda Hundred, heroically repulsed by the
  small grey force at Petersburg. Now on the sixteenth and the
  seventeenth came Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia, entering the
  lines of Petersburg while drum and fife played “Dixie.” Of the Army of
  the Potomac the Second and Ninth Corps were up and in position, the
  Fifth upon the road. Face to face again were Hector and Achilles, Army
  of Northern Virginia, Army of the Potomac, but the first again held
  the inner line. South of Richmond as north of Richmond, Grant found
  Lee between him and Richmond.


  There was a garden behind the kinsman’s house in Richmond. Cleave and
  Judith, coming from the house, found it empty this afternoon save for
  its roses and its birds. A high wall, ivy-covered, cloistered it from
  the street. Beneath the tulip tree was a bench and they sat themselves
  down here. He leaned his head back against the bark and closed his
  eyes. It was several days before the lifting of the warring pieces
  across the river. With the Second Corps he was on his way to the
  Valley. “I did not know,” he said, “that I was so tired. I have not
  slept for two nights.”

  “Sleep now. I will sit here, just as quietly—”

  He smiled. “It is very likely that I would do that, is it not?”
  Bending his head, he took her hands and pressed his forehead upon
  them. “Judith—Judith—Judith—”

  The birds sang, the roses bloomed. From the south came a dull booming,
  the cannon of Beauregard and of Butler, distant, continuous, like surf
  on breakers. The two paid it no especial attention. Life had been set
  now for a long while to such an accompaniment. There was something at
  least as old as strife, and that was love; as old and as strong and as
  perpetually renewed.

  The shadows lengthened on the grass. There came a sound of bugles
  blowing. The lovers turned and clung and kissed, then in the violet
  light their hands fell apart. Cleave rose. “They are singing, ‘Come
  away!’” he said.

  There were stars in a wreath now upon the collar of his coat. She
  touched them, smiling through tears. “_General Cleave_.... It comes
  late but it comes well.... Oh, my general, my general!”

  “Little enough of the Stonewall Brigade remains,” he said. “For the
  most part what was not killed and was not captured at Spottsylvania
  has been gathered into Terry’s brigade, and goes, too, to the Valley.
  But the Sixty-fifth goes with me and the Golden Brigade. The Golden
  Brigade cares for me because I am Warwick Cary’s kinsman.”

  “Not alone for that,” she said, “but for that also ... Oh, my
  father—my father!”

  From the street outside the garden wall came a sound of marching feet.
  Above the ivy showed, passing, the bayonet points. It was sunset and
  the west was crimson. Swallows circled above the house and the gold
  cups of the tulip tree. The marching feet went on, and the gleaming
  bayonet points. There came a flag, half visible above the ivy, silken,
  powder-darkened, battle-scarred. Cleave raised his hand in salute. The
  flag went by, the sound of the marching feet continued. High in the
  tree, against the rosy sky, a bird with a lyric throat began to sing,
  piercing sweet and clear.

  “Judith,” said Cleave, “before I go, there is a thing I want to tell
  you. Two days ago I was riding by A.P. Hill’s lines. There was a
  marshy place, on the edge of which the men were raising a breastwork.
  Judith, I am certain that I saw Stafford. He has done as I did—done
  what was and is the simple, the natural thing to do. Whether under his
  own name or another, he is there, heaping breastworks as a private
  soldier.”

  “He could not do as you did! You went clear and clean, and he—”

  “I do not know that there is ever any sharp line of difference. It is
  a matter of degree. I have come,” said Cleave simply, “to understand
  myself less and other people more. I did not show that I recognized
  him, for I could not tell if he would wish it ... I thought that you
  should know. It is not a time now for enmities.”

  “God knows that that is true,” said Judith, weeping.



                              CHAPTER XXIX
                       LITTLE PUMPKIN-VINE CREEK


  The log cabin looked out upon a wooded world, a world that rolled and
  shimmered, gold-green, blue-green, violet-green, to horizons of bright
  summer sky. In the distance, veiled with light, sprang Lost Mountain
  and the cone of Kennesaw. Far or near there were hamlets—Powder
  Spring, Burnt Hickory, Roxanna—north, there was the village of
  Allatoona, and south, that of Dallas; but from the log cabin all were
  sunk in a sea of emerald. New Hope Church was somewhere near, but its
  opening, too, was hardly more than guessed at. But Pumpkin-Vine Creek
  might be seen in its meanderings, and the rippling daughter stream
  that the soldiers called “Little Pumpkin-Vine” flashed by the hill on
  which stood the cabin.

  It was a one-room-and-a-lean-to, broken-down, deserted, log-and-clay
  thing. Whoever had lived in it had flown, leaving ashes on the hearth,
  and a hop-vine flowering over a tiny porch. A monster pine tree,
  scaled like a serpent, sent its brown shaft a hundred feet in air.
  Upon the sandy hilltop grew pennyroyal. Pine and pennyroyal, the
  intense sunshine drew out their strength. All the air was dryness and
  warmth and a pleasant odour.

  Steadying himself by the lintel Edward Cary rose from the log that
  made the doorstep. A stick leaned against the wall. He took this, and
  proceeded, slow-paced, to make his way to the pine tree and the low
  brink of the hill above the creek. The transit occupied some minutes,
  but at last he reached the pine, tired but happy. There was a
  wonderful purple-brown carpet beneath. He half sat, half reclined upon
  it, and leaning forward watched Désirée on her knees before a little
  shallow bay of the creek. It was washerwoman’s day. There were
  stepping-stones in the clear brown water, and she was across the
  stream, her head downbent, very intently scrubbing.

                        “O saw ye bonny Lesley,”—

  sang Edward,—

                    “As she gaed o’er the Border?
                    She’s gane like Alexander,
                    To spread her conquests further.”

  Désirée straightened herself. “How did you come there? I left you
  asleep. Ah, a wicked patient—a malingerer!”

  “The cabin was cold, so I came out into the sun.”

  She rose from her knees, took up the small heap of her washing, and,
  stepping lightly from stone to stone, came to his side of the water.
  Here, in a square of absolute gold, she spread the washing out to dry.
  Her sleeves were rolled up to her shoulders, her thick and beautiful
  hair hung braided to her knee, she looked in that quaint place like an
  enchanted princess out of a rosy fairy tale.

                   “O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,”—

  sang Edward,—

                     “That’s newly sprung in June:
                     O my Luve’s like the melodie,
                     That’s sweetly played in tune!—”

  Désirée turned, came up the pennyroyal bank, and sat beside him on the
  pine-needle carpet. Bending, he pressed his lips on her bare arm.

                    “As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
                      So deep in luve am I—”

  In the distance they heard the sound of axes against the trees.
  Breastworks and rifle-pits were in the making over there. Light curls
  of smoke told where were camp-fires. Not far away the creek was
  crossed by a wood road. Now a score of horses with three guardian men
  came down to the ford to drink. Somewhere a bugle sounded. Brown and
  black and grey, the horses pricked their ears; then, satisfied that it
  was not battery bugle, dropped again to the cool water. Out of the
  forest across Little Pumpkin-Vine came a steady, dreamy humming—voices
  of the Army of Tennessee, encamped here, encamped there, in this
  region south of the Etowah.

  “I should like to die on a day like this,” said Désirée. “Just such a
  day—and life so strong and sweet! To touch, taste, smell, hear, see,
  feel, and know it all—and then to go, carrying the flavour with you!”

  “With which to set up housekeeping again?”

  “With which to set up housekeeping again—in a larger, better house.”

  “But with old comrades?”

  She let the pine needles stream through her hands. “Certainly with old
  comrades. Father ... Louis ... People who used to come to Cape
  Jessamine, people I have known elsewhere.... All people, in fact, and
  all in better, larger houses ... all old comrades”—she turned and
  kissed him—“and one lover.”

  “In a better, nobler house,” said Edward. “But don’t die, Désirée—not
  yet—not yet—”

  The creek murmured, the wind whispered, the wild bees hummed above the
  flowers. Somewhere down the stream was an army forge. _Clink! clink!_
  went hammer against iron. On some hidden road, too, guns were
  passing—you heard the rumble and the whinnying of the horses. In
  another direction wagons were parked; there was a sense, through vague
  openings in a leafy world, of the white, bubble-like tops. More horses
  came to the ford to be watered. The sun grew brighter and brighter,
  climbing the sky, the pine and pennyroyal more pungently alive, the
  voices in the wide woods distincter, less like a dreamy wash of the
  sea. The hazel bushes across the stream parted and two men appeared
  with water-buckets. They dipped for their mess, adjusted their heavy
  wet burdens and went away, sociably talking.

  “’T was while we was fighting at Cassville. Jake thought he was
  killed, but he wasn’t! Funny fellow, but you can’t help liking him!”

  “That’s so! He’s got converted. Converted last meeting. Says he don’t
  know but one prayer and was kind of surprised he remembered that. Says
  it now before every little fight we go into. Says—

                   “‘_Now I lay me down to sleep,
                     Pray the Lord my soul to keep—_’”

  “Sho! Everybody remembers that! Taught it to us most before we could
  talk!

                   “‘_Now I lay me down to sleep,
                     Pray the Lord my soul to keep,
                   If I should die before I wake
                     Pray the Lord my soul to take—_’”

  The hazel bushes closed and the voices died like a ripple out of
  water. The light grew more golden, the shadows shorter. Late May in
  Georgia was more hot than a Northern midsummer, but to-day a crisp
  breeze made the heat of no moment. The air was very dry, life-giving.
  A soldier with a fishing-pole made his appearance. He came along
  beneath the bank and the pine tree, chose a deepish pool and a rock to
  sit on, placed a tin cup with bait beside the latter, and had baited
  his hook and cast the line before he observed his neighbours. He rose
  and saluted, then made a movement to take up his bait-cup and proceed
  downstream.

  “No, no!” said Edward. “Fish ahead! But are there any fish there?”

  The fisherman sat down upon the rock. “I’m not really expecting any.
  But catching fish is not all there is in fishing.”

  “Quite true,” said Edward, and lay back upon the purple-brown carpet.
  Désirée sat with her hands about her knee, her eyes upon a vast castle
  of cloud, rising pearl-bright, into the azure sky.

  The fisherman fished, but caught nothing. “I expect,” he said, “that
  there is good fishing in the Etowah. Looked so the day we crossed it.”

  “That was a hard crossing,” said Désirée.

  “Hard enough!” answered the fisherman. “But Old Joe got us across. I
  am not one of the grumblers.”

  “There wasn’t much grumbling.”

  “That’s so! Army of Tennessee’s a right fine body of men.”

  He cast again. “It’s quieter than Sleepy Hollow this morning! There
  was a considerable rumpus yesterday. They say, too, that General
  Wheeler got in on their rear and beat a brigade and captured two
  hundred and fifty wagons. I reckon we’ll hear raindrops on the roof
  before night!”

  “I shouldn’t be surprised.”

  “These pesky little battles,” said the fisherman. “I’ve stopped
  counting them—Thought I had a bite!”

  “Many a little makes a mickle.”

  “That’s true! We’ve been fighting for a month, and we’re walking round
  to-day like a game-cock looking at his spurs. Army of Tennessee and
  Joseph E. Johnston.”

  He bent his eyes upon his pole. The wind sung in the pine tree,
  _clink! clink!_ went the forge downstream. The pearly cloud castle
  rose higher. Off on the left, where was Hardee’s corps, a bugle
  trilled as sweetly as a bird. There were a million forest odours, with
  the pine, played upon by the sunshine, for dominant. The dry pure air
  was life-giving.

  “I gather,” said the fisherman, “that there are, on our side, two
  theories as to the conduct of this war. The one wants great crashing
  battles that shall force the foe to cry, ‘Hold, enough!’—‘Fight him on
  sight, and without regard to odds.’ The other says, ‘We haven’t got
  many men, and when they’re gone, we have no more. There’s only one set
  of chessmen in this establishment. So spare your men. We’ve got a
  Goliath to fight. Well, don’t rush at him!—Fence with him; maybe
  you’ll prove the better fencer. Don’t strike just to be striking;
  strike when you see an advantage to follow! You can’t thrash him
  outright; he’s too big. But you may _wear_ him out. Giants sometimes
  lack a giant patience. This one has a considerable clamour for peace
  behind him at home. Save your men, strike only when there’s sense in
  striking, and take Time into your councils! You may not win this way,
  but you certainly won’t the other way.’ The first’s the Administration
  and a considerable part of the press, and the last’s Joseph E.
  Johnston.”

  “‘There was a general named Fabius,’” said Edward.—“You’re a good
  observer.”

  “I’m a better observer than I am a fisherman,” said the disciple of
  Walton.

  Désirée stepped down the bank into the square of gold and gathered up
  her washing. With it over one arm she returned and gave her hands to
  Edward. They said good-day to the fisherman, and went away, up the
  slight hill, Edward doing well with his stick and an arm over her
  shoulder. They laughed like children in the sunshine.

  They had what she called “tisane” for dinner—“tisane” with hard-tack
  crumbled in. A drummer-boy, straying by, was given his share. They sat
  on billets of wood underneath the hop-vine, ate and drank and were
  happy. The boy was fourteen and small for his age. He had a shock of
  sunburnt hair and a happy, freckled face, and he said that he hoped
  the war would never stop. When every crumb and drop was gone, he
  volunteered to “wash up,” and went whistling down to Little
  Pumpkin-Vine with the tin cups and spoons and small, black kettle.

  Other soldiers strayed past the cabin. An orderly appeared, sent by
  officers’ mess of the ——th Virginia. He bore, together with enquiries
  and messages, to-morrow’s rations. A picket detail went marching over
  the hilltop. About three o’clock came a clattering of horses’ hoofs.
  The hill was a fair post of observation, and here was the commanding
  general with his staff. All stopped beneath the pine; Johnston pointed
  with his hand, now here, now there; his chief of staff beside him
  nodding comprehension.

  Then the General, dismounting, came over to the cabin. “No, no! don’t
  stand!” he said to Edward. “I only want to ask Mrs. Cary for a cup of
  water. How is the wound to-day?”

  “Very much better, sir. I’ll report for duty presently.”

  “Don’t hurry,” said Johnston, with kindness. “It’s a mistake to get
  well too quickly.” He had much warm magnetism, tenderness with
  illness, an affectionate deference always toward women. He took the
  cup of water from Désirée, thanked her, and said that evidently the
  campaign had not harmed her. “Women always were the best soldiers.”

  General Mackall had ridden up. “There’s many a true word said in
  jest,” he remarked.

  “I didn’t say it in jest, sir,” said Johnston. He mounted and gathered
  up the reins, an erect and soldierly figure. “General Hood,” he said,
  “is moving from Allatoona, and I have ordered Hardee’s corps back from
  the Dallas and Atlanta road. There may come a general battle on this
  ground. If it arrives, my dear,”—he spoke to Désirée,—“you apply for
  an ambulance and leave this cabin!”

  Off he rode in the golden light. At sunset came marching by the ——th
  Virginia, going toward New Hope Church. The road ran behind the cabin.
  Désirée helped Edward out to it, and they stood in a little patch of
  sunflowers and greeted the regiment. The regiment to a man greeted
  back. The colonel stopped his horse and talked, the captains smiled
  and nodded, the men gave the two a cheer. It was one of the friendly,
  sunshiny moments of war. The regiment was like a dear and good family;
  everywhere in and out ran the invisible threads of kindliness. The
  regiment passed, the rhythmic beat of feet dying from this stretch of
  the road. Désirée and Edward went back to the cabin through the
  languorous, Southern dusk, with the lanterns of the fire-flies
  beginning, and the large moths sailing by. There was a moon, and all
  night, in the wood behind the cabin, a mocking-bird was singing.

  The next day and the next and the next there was fighting—not “a
  great, crashing battle,” but stubborn fighting. It waxed furious
  enough where Hooker struck Stewart’s division of Hood’s at New Hope
  Church, and where, on the twenty-eighth, Cleburne and Wheeler met and
  forced back Palmer and Howard; but when calm came again only a couple
  of thousand of each colour lay dead or wounded around New Hope Church.

  The calm fell on Sunday. Edward and Désirée, sitting beneath the pine
  tree, marked the cannons’ diminuendo. It was a hot and heavy day and
  the dead and wounded were on their hearts. Yet to them, too, it was
  fearfully an everyday matter. The time to visualize what will fall
  under the harrow of war is before the harrow is set in motion.
  Afterwards comes in Inevitableness with iron lips, and Fatalism with
  unscrutinizing gaze, and Use with filmed eyes, and Instinct with her
  cry, “Do not look too closely, seeing one must keep one’s senses!” and
  Old Habit with her motto, “True children do as their fathers did.”—And
  so at last, on both sides, from the general to the drummer-boy, from
  the civil ruler to the woman scraping lint, no one looks very closely
  at what falls beneath the harrow. Madness lies that way, and in war
  one must be very sane. No one escaped the taint of not looking, not
  even the two beneath the pine tree.

  Off in the horizon clouds were piling up. Presently there was heard a
  mutter of thunder. Edward and Désirée watched the sky darken and the
  big pine begin to sway. In the distance there was yet an occasional
  boom of cannon. “That is toward Dallas,” said Edward. “Earth thunder
  and heaven thunder.”

  The lightning flashed. The earth voices began to lose out, the aërial
  ones to gather strength. A wind lifted the dust and the small dry
  débris of grass and herb. The old pine cones came shaking down. The
  thunder began to peal. Désirée rose. “We must go indoors. It has the
  right of way now—the old, old storm.”

  As they reached the cabin the thunder grew loud above them. The dust
  of the earth went by in a whirlwind. Rain was falling, in heavy
  pellets like lead, but as yet it had not lightened the oppression. The
  two leaned against the doorway and watched. A blinding flash, a sound
  as of falling battlements of the sky, and the pine tree was blasted
  before them.



                              CHAPTER XXX
                                KENNESAW


  The blue army was massed beyond Noonday Creek, in front of Pine
  Mountain, and on the Burnt Hickory road. The grey held a line from
  Gilgal Church to a point beyond the Marietta and Ackworth road. It was
  the fourteenth of June—news just received by way of Atlanta of Grant’s
  movement toward the James. On the crest of Pine Mountain was a grey
  outpost—Bates’s Division of Hardee’s corps. At Gilgal Church,
  Johnston, on his chestnut horse, was in conversation with that
  churchman-militant with a Spartan name—Lieutenant-General Leonidas
  Polk. Hardee rode up. “General, I should be grateful if you would come
  with me to the top of the mountain yonder. Bates there is too
  exposed.”

  The three, Johnston with Hardee and Polk, rode through the thick
  brush, by a narrow and rough bridle-path, up to the crown of the low
  mountain. Dismounting in the rear of Bates’s works they went forward
  on foot, the men saluting where they lay behind heaped logs.
  Overhanging the slope was a parapet, and the three walked here,
  opening their field-glasses as they walked. Before them stretched the
  wooded country, and full in sight, the heavy lines of the foe. Not a
  thousand feet away a field-battery held a hilltop.

  “Wait till nightfall,” said Johnston, “then let Bates join you at
  Gilgal.”

  He lowered his field-glass. Out of the mouth of one of the blue cannon
  on the hilltop came a puff of white smoke. The shot cut away a bough
  of the oak under which the three were standing. “Certainly this
  parapet is too exposed,” said Hardee. “Come this way, General.” As
  they moved diagonally across the spur, the blue guns opened full pack.
  A shot passed through the breast of Leonidas Polk, sometime Bishop of
  Louisiana. He fell, lying at full length upon the summit, dead, with a
  pleasant look upon his face.

  On the sixteenth, grey left and blue right shifted positions, coming
  again to face each other. There was skirmishing and cavalry fighting.
  On the nineteenth, the two fencers again changed ground. The grey
  left, Hardee, now stretched across the Lost Mountain and Marietta
  road; the grey right, Hood, lay beyond the Canton road; and Loring,
  who had succeeded Polk, held flank and crest of Kennesaw Mountain. At
  once, grey and blue, the interminable entrenching began again, the
  grey throwing up earthworks and defences, the blue making lines of
  approach. Throughout the latter half of June, hour after hour, day
  after day, night after night, there was fighting. The first half of
  the month it had poured rain. Torrent after torrent had successfully
  interfered with man’s operations. Under streaming skies, with the
  earth semi-liquid, the roads bottomless, the unending forest like oozy
  growths of an ocean floor, entrenching, manœuvres for advantage of
  position, attack and parry—one and all had been attended with
  difficulties. General Rain and General Mud had as usual put their
  unrecorded fingers into the current of events. But now, though sun and
  cloud still fought, the roads were drying and there was fighting every
  day.

  Up on the crest of Kennesaw, Edward Cary, lying with his men behind a
  work of earth and logs, saw the sun rise and the sun set, and often in
  the dead of night the solemn pomp of stars. All around him, beneath
  the stars, were the shadowy forms of sleeping men. The footfall of the
  pickets could be heard, that and the breathing of the sleepers. Slowly
  came on the grey dawn; reveille sounded and the day’s work was before
  you. Night came again and the stars and the shadowy forms of
  men—though not all, who were breathing the night before, breathed now
  where they slept.

  Cary’s mind ranged far from the comfortless top of Kennesaw. First of
  all and oftenest it looked southward, across the forest, to where, in
  a farmhouse near Smyrna Church, Désirée slept or waked. It paused
  there, suspended, watching her where she lay, then passed from the
  quiet room and swept in widening circles around the core of life....
  This Georgian battle-ground! Fifty days now of a great strategic
  campaign—Dalton and the spring-time far behind—Atlanta and the pitched
  battle that must toss victory into this camp or into that drawing
  nearer. The Army of Tennessee, stanch and cheerful even in the
  rain-filled rifle-pits on Kennesaw; gaunt, heroic, like its brother
  the Army of Northern Virginia.... Not the Georgia battle-grounds
  alone;—all battle-fields—all the South one battle-field, fringed and
  crossed with weary, weary, weary marches! Suddenly he saw how red were
  the rivers and how many houses were blackened ruins. There was a great
  loneliness, and he thought he saw children straying, lost, across the
  plain. Edward sat up and rested his forehead on his hands. “What is it
  all for?” he thought. “It is absurd.” The sky was clear to-night. He
  looked up at the Great Bear and the Dragon. “We are in a world of
  contradictories. There is the heroic, the piteous, and the beautiful,
  there is a loud and sweet music,—and yet it is all in the service of
  the King of the Dwarfs, of a gnome with a gnome’s brain.... How to
  change the service?”

  In the cold hour before the dawn, he slept, to be presently awakened
  by the sound of the pickets’ pieces and a night attack. Half an hour’s
  fighting rolled it back, down Kennesaw, but when it was done the men
  were kept awake lest the wave should return.

  They talked, behind the breastworks, while the stars faded. “Wish it
  was a false alarm! Wish I’d wake up and find myself asleep.”

  “O God, yes! In my bed at home.”

  “Talking about false alarms—Did you ever hear about Spaulding?”

  “What Spaulding?—No.”

  “It was in Mississippi;—Grant somewhere near, but nobody knew how
  near;—all of us scattered over a few hills and marshes, keeping pretty
  good lookout, but yet knowing that nobody could be within a day’s
  march of us. In comes Spaulding in haste to headquarters, to the
  general’s tent. In he comes, pale and excited, and he brings a piece
  of news that was indeed alarming! He had been on a hill overlooking
  the river—I forget its name—there’s such an infinity of rivers in this
  country! Anyhow he had seen the most amazing thing, and that was what
  he had come like lightning back to the camp to tell the general about.
  A column of the enemy was crossing the river—they had laid pontoons
  and they were crossing by them and by a ford as well. It was a large
  force—a division undoubtedly, possibly a corps. Artillery was crossing
  as he looked. The ford was black with infantry, and there was cavalry
  on the farther bank. A man on a great black horse was directing. On
  this side was a man on a very tall grey horse, a man with a bloody
  handkerchief tied round his head under his hat. The troops saluted him
  as they came out of the water. All were crossing very silently and
  swiftly. Spaulding had run all the way from the hill; he had to put
  his hand to his side as he talked, he was so breathed.—Well,
  immediately there was activity enough at headquarters, but still
  activity with a doubt, it was so amazing! What were the pickets
  doing—to say nothing of the cavalry? Well, the long roll was beaten,
  and everybody scurried to arms, and off went two aides at full speed
  to the hilltop to examine that thief in the night-time crossing, and
  Spaulding went behind the one on the strongest horse. He was just as
  calm and sure. ‘Yes, it’s amazing, but it’s so! I think the man on the
  black horse is Grant. I couldn’t see the face of the man on the grey
  horse—only the bloody cloth around his head.‘ Well, they got there,
  all the fuss behind them of the regiments forming—they got to the
  hilltop and there was the river sure enough before them, just as the
  aides knew it would be. ‘Now, you see!’ says Spaulding, for he had
  been hurt by the way everybody, even the general, said,
  ‘Impossible!’—‘See what?’ say the aides. ‘Are you mad?’ asks Spaulding
  impatiently. ‘The bridge and the ford and the crossing guns and
  infantry, the man on the black horse and the man on the grey with the
  cloth around his head.’—One of the aides rides down the hillside
  toward the river and finds a picket. ‘Have you seen anything unusual
  up or down or across the river?’ ‘No,’ says the picket, or words to
  that effect. ‘Have you?”—Well, that aide goes back and he takes
  Spaulding by the shoulders and shakes him. And then the two, they
  stand on either side of him, and the one says, ‘Look now, and pretty
  quick about it, and tell us what you see!’—‘You damned fools,’ says
  Spaulding, I see a column crossing, infantry and artillery, a man on a
  black horse directing, and a man on a grey horse with a bloody cloth—’
  And then he stopped speaking and stared, the colour going out of his
  face and his eyes starting from his head. And presently he just
  slipped like water down between them and sat upon the earth. ‘Great
  God!’ he said, ‘there isn’t anything there!’—So they took him back to
  headquarters, the drums still beating and everybody getting into
  ranks—”

  “What did they do to him?”

  “Well, if he’d been a drinking man he’d have been drumhead
  court-martialled and shot. But he wasn’t—he was a nice, clean, manly
  kind of young fellow, a great mathematician, and the boys all liked
  him, and his officers, too. And he was so covered with confusion ’twas
  pitiful. The general’s a mighty good man. He said those things
  happened sometimes, and he quoted Shakespeare that there are more
  experiences in heaven and earth—or words to that effect. Spaulding was
  put under arrest, and there was enquiry and all that, but at the last
  he was given a caution and sent back to his regiment. But he kind of
  pined away and took to mooning, and in the next battle he was
  killed—and killed, that was the funny thing, by a pistol shot from a
  man on a grey horse with a bloody handkerchief tied round his head! He
  shot Spaulding through the brain.”

  The sun pushed a red rim above the eastern horizon. The day’s work
  began. Fighting—and fighting—and fighting again on Kennesaw and over
  the rolling country from which Kennesaw arose! On the twentieth,
  Wheeler with a thousand horsemen crashed against and drove a force of
  blue cavalry. On the twenty-second, on the Powder Spring road, Hood
  struck Schofield and Hooker. The divisions of Hindman and Stevenson
  were engaged here, advancing with heroism under a plunging fire,
  musketry and artillery, and driving the blue from their first to their
  second line of entrenchments. The ground was fearfully difficult. The
  blue had everywhere epaulements from which they brought to bear upon
  the charging grey a terrible raking fire of grape and canister.
  Stevenson’s men fell thick and fast; when night laid her stilling hand
  upon the guns, he had lost in killed and wounded eight hundred and
  seventy men. On the twenty-fourth, the blue came in line of battle
  against Hardee, and were repulsed. On the twenty-fifth, they again
  struck Stevenson, and were repulsed. All day the twenty-sixth there
  was bitter skirmishing. On the twenty-seventh, upstormed the battle of
  Kennesaw Mountain.

  It began in the early morning with all of Sherman’s guns. They shelled
  the crest and sides of Kennesaw; roaring, they poured fierce death
  into the air, hoping that he would find many victims. He found many,
  though not so many as the blue hoped. The atmosphere rocked and grew
  smoky; it was a fierce, prolonged cannonade. During the furious
  overture, behind the tall, fretted screen of smoke, the blues were
  forming in two lines of battle, long and thick.

  The grey position was exceedingly strong. The grey said as much,
  contemning the shells that shrieked and dropped.

  “We’re pretty well fixed! W.T. Sherman’ll find there ain’t no buried
  treasure on Kennesaw! General Joe’s going to win out on this
  campaign.”

  “We’re going to have a battle here. But I don’t think it’s going to be
  the big battle. I think the big battle’s going to be at Atlanta.”

  “Maybe so. Anyhow he’ll win out, and that’s all I’m caring about!—This
  place’s a regular sea-beach for shells.”

  There were in the company a father and son—a tall, lean,
  lantern-jawed, silent man of sixty and a tall, lean, lantern-jawed,
  silent man of thirty-five. Except that they messed and foraged
  together they did not seem to have much to say to each other. They
  were near Edward where he stood behind the rifle-pit.

  “I reckon,” said the elder, “that the cotton air blooming mighty
  pretty, ’long about now.”

  “I reckon it air,” said the younger.

  The cannonading did not cease, but now, while all the guns thundered,
  the blue pushed forward a thick line of skirmishers. Behind them
  showed, between the trees, wide and long and dark, two bands of
  infantry. The grey batteries that had been sparing ammunition now
  ceased to spare it. They opened full cry. Grey and blue, the noise was
  appalling.

  “I reckon,” said the elder tall man, “that the mill wheel air turning
  to-day.”

  “I reckon it air,” said the younger.

  The blue moved forward to the assault,—Schofield and McPherson and
  Thomas. They came on boldly and well, cheering, with waved banners,
  now lost amid the trees, now seen as clearly as aught could be seen
  under and in the sulphurous battle-cloud. They were striking right and
  left and centre. On they came—larger—larger—Full in their faces sprang
  the fire of the trenches.

  The attack just here was desperate. The blue swarmed through the
  felled trees, seized an advanced breastwork, swarmed on toward the
  second and stronger line. This line beat them back, burst from the
  trenches, rushed forward and down, retook the captured work, struck a
  flag there upon the parapet, and, hurrying on, fell upon the
  backward-sinking foe. There followed hand-to-hand fighting, with much
  carnage. The two tall men were in front. A minie ball cut the father
  down. He lay across a hummock of earth from behind which two or three
  grey men were firing. The son fought on above the dead body. The face
  looked at him each time he brought rifle to shoulder. The plain
  gravity of it, living, was gone; now it was contorted like a gargoyle.
  A third line of blue came shouting up to reinforce the other two;
  there ran a grey order to fall back to the earthworks. The tall, lean
  man, his musket yet in hand, stooped, put his arms under the elder’s
  body, lifted it, and with it across his shoulder started up the
  mountain-side. An officer ordered him to put the body down, but he
  shook his head. “I couldn’t do that, sir. It’s father.” Just outside
  the breastwork an exploding shell killed him, too.

  Up and over the slopes of Kennesaw rushed another charge. The grey
  clutched with it, locked and swayed. Down it went, down the slopes of
  Kennesaw. Mountain and surrounding foot country were wrapped in smoke.
  For three hours the clamour held;—with onslaught and repulse and heavy
  loss to the blue. At last, in the hot and heavy noon, the North drew
  sullenly back, beaten on Kennesaw.

  The ——th Virginia moved from the line it had successfully held to a
  point on the southern face it was ordered to entrench and hold. Moving
  so, it passed over ground where lay many dead and injured. This had
  been the rear of the position. Shells had not spared it. They had
  exploded among ammunition wagons and ambulances, setting afire and
  consuming the hut that had been division headquarters, injuring
  various noncombatants, working wrack and ruin here as among the
  trenches. The regiment halting for a moment, Edward had time to
  observe the corpse of a drummer-boy, lying in the briar and grass
  beneath a splintered tree. The shell had struck it full in the breast,
  tearing the trunk asunder. Above the red ghastliness rose a young face
  round and freckled. Edward knew it for that of the drummer-boy who
  wanted the war never to stop.

  Two men in the rank nearest him were talking of money. “You have paper
  money and you have war, and in war you always over-issue. We did it in
  the old Revolution—and there were the French _assignats_—and Great
  Britain did the same thing when she was fighting Napoleon. You
  over-issue and over-issue and the whole thing depreciates. Sometimes
  it’s slow and sometimes it’s hand over hand. And then you can’t
  redeem, and the whole bottom drops out—”

  The regiment moved forward. The woods on Kennesaw were afire.


  That night, from the house near Smyrna Church, Désirée watched the
  line of flame. She stood with three women in a cotton-field and
  watched. One of the women was old, and her sons were there where the
  flame was. She rocked herself to and fro, and she beat her hands
  together and she cursed war. One of the women had a babe in her arms.
  It wailed, and she opened her dress, and put her breast to its mouth.
  The wind loosened her hair. It blew about her, framing her brooding
  young face. Simple and straight she stood amid the cotton, giving life
  more life, while her dark eyes were filled with the image of death.
  The wind blew the smoke over the cotton-fields; to the women’s ears it
  brought alike the groaning.

  Two days later, Sherman in Georgia, like Grant in Virginia, resorted
  again to a turning movement. South and east he pushed his right, until
  it threatened to crook between Johnston and Atlanta. Johnston lifted
  the Army of Tennessee from Kennesaw and set it down at Smyrna Church.
  In its rear now was the Chattahoochee, its bridges covered by the
  Georgia militia. A very few miles behind the Chattahoochee was
  Atlanta, fairly fortified. Smyrna Church and Station saw heavy,
  continued skirmishing. On the fourth, Sherman pushed Schofield and
  McPherson yet farther south, curving like a scimitar upon the Smyrna
  position. His advance thrust the Georgia militia back to Nickajack
  Ridge, baring the approach to the river. That night Johnston moved
  from Smyrna and took up position on the north bank of Chattahoochee.
  Here were works prepared in advance, and here for several days the
  hours were filled with skirmishing. Sherman had brought up, hot foot,
  the remainder of the blue army from Kennesaw. “We ought,” he says, “to
  have caught Johnston on this retreat, but he had prepared the way too
  well.”

  The Chattahoochee was a fordable stream. On the eighth, some miles
  above the grey entrenchments, Sherman crossed over two army corps. On
  the ninth, the Army of Tennessee crossed the Chattahoochee, and took
  up position behind Peach Tree Creek, a bold affluent of that river.
  The ground was rough, seamed with ravines. It was high and convex to
  the foe. Behind it was a fortified town, fit base for a culminating
  battle. “About the middle of June,” says Joseph E. Johnston, “Captain
  Grant, of the Engineers, was instructed to strengthen the
  fortifications of Atlanta materially, on the side toward Peach Tree
  Creek, by the addition of redoubts and by converting barbette into
  embrasure batteries. I also obtained promise of seven seacoast rifles
  from General D.H. Maury, to be mounted on that front. Colonel
  Presstman was instructed to join Captain Grant with his subordinates,
  in this work of strengthening the defences of Atlanta, especially
  between the Augusta and Marietta roads, as the enemy was approaching
  on that side. For the same reason a position on the high ground
  looking down into the valley of Peach Tree Creek was selected for the
  army, from which it might engage the enemy if he should expose himself
  in the passage of the stream. The position of each division was marked
  and pointed out to its staff officers.” “And,” says the Federal
  General Howard, “Johnston had planned to attack Sherman at Peach Tree
  Creek, expecting just such a division between our wings as we made.”

  For a week Sherman made feints and demonstrations. The end of that
  time found the two armies actually confronted. Behind the two there
  had fallen into the abyss of time seventy days of hard and skilful
  fencing. Each had felt the rapier point, but no vital spot had been
  reached. Each had lost blood; thousands lay quiet forever in the dark
  woods and by the creeks of that hundred and twenty miles. Each had
  been at odd times reinforced; the accession in strength had covered
  the loss. On the last day of June the Federal “effective strength for
  offensive purposes” is given as one hundred and six thousand, nine
  hundred and seventy men. On the same day Johnston’s effective strength
  is given as fifty-four thousand and eighty-five men. General Sherman
  states that throughout the campaign he knew his numbers to be double
  those of Johnston. He could afford to lose two to one without
  disturbing the relative strength of the armies.

  On the evening of the seventeenth of July there was delivered to the
  commander of the Army of Tennessee a telegram from Richmond. It read,—


  “Lieutenant-General J.B. Hood has been commissioned to the temporary
  rank of general under the late law of Congress. I am directed by the
  Secretary of War to inform you that, as you have failed to arrest the
  advance of the enemy to the vicinity of Atlanta, and express no
  confidence that you can defeat or repel him, you are hereby relieved
  from the command of the Army and Department of Tennessee, which you
  will immediately turn over to General Hood.

                      “S. COOPER, _Adjutant and Inspector-General_.”


  Hardee, coming presently to headquarters, was shown the telegram.
  Johnston sat writing. Several of his staff were in waiting, one with
  pale face and set lips, another with eyes that winked back the tears.

  Hardee read. “I don’t believe it,” he said.

  “A thing may be both unbelievable and a fact,” said Johnston, writing.
  “Well, I’ve got my wound. It’s pretty deep—so deep that I scarcely
  feel it.”

  He rose from the table and going to the window stood looking out at
  Antares, red in the heavens. “I have sent out the orders transferring
  the command,” he said. “It’s a strange world, Hardee.”

  “Sometimes I think it’s a half-crazy one, sir,” said Hardee, with a
  shaking voice. “I know what the army’s going to think about it—”

  “I wish as little said as possible,” said Johnston. “It is the only
  way to take—wounds.”

  He came back to the table, sat down, and began to write. “There are
  certain memoranda of plans—” Through the window came a sound of horses
  stopping at the door, followed by a noise of steps in the hall. “Here
  is General Hood,” said Johnston, and rose.

  One of his colonels, in his official report, speaks as follows: “On
  the seventeenth of July the commanding general published an address to
  the army and announced that he would attack General Sherman’s army so
  soon as it should cross the Chattahoochee. It was understood that the
  enemy was crossing at Roswell Factory beyond the right flank of the
  army and east of Peach Tree Creek.... The order of battle was received
  with enthusiasm and the most confident spirit prevailed. Next day, the
  eighteenth, while we were forming to march from our bivouac to the
  right, a rumour prevailed that General Johnston had been removed from
  command, and after we had marched some distance on the road to Atlanta
  a courier handed me a circular order from General Hood, announcing
  General Johnston’s removal and assuming command. Shortly after, the
  farewell address of General Johnston was received and read to the
  regiment. It is due to truth to say that the reception of these orders
  produced the most despondent feeling in my command. The loss of the
  commanding general was felt to be irreparable. Continuing the march
  and passing by his headquarters, Walker’s division passed at the
  shoulder, the officers saluting, and most of the latter and hundreds
  of the men taking off their hats. It had been proposed to halt and
  cheer, but General Johnston, hearing our intention, requested that the
  troops pass by in silence.”

  “The news,” said Fighting Joe Hooker,—“the news that General Johnston
  had been removed from the command of the army opposed to us was
  received by our officers with universal rejoicing.”

  “Heretofore,” said Sherman, “the fighting has been as Johnston
  pleased, but now it shall be as I please.”



                              CHAPTER XXXI
                              THUNDER RUN


  “Yes, Mr. Cole,” said Christianna, in her soft, drawling voice; “it’s
  just like you say. Life’s dead.”

  Sairy, sitting in the toll-house door, threaded her needle. “You an’
  Tom, Christianna, air awful young yet! Life ain’t dead. She’s sick,
  I’ll allow, but, my land! she’s stood a power of sicknesses!”

  “It seems right dead to me,” said Christianna.

  She leaned her head against the pillar of the toll-house porch, her
  sunbonnet fallen back from her fair hair. The wild-rose colour still
  clung, but her face had a wistfulness. The little ragged garden was
  gay with bloom, but it was apparent that there had been no gardening
  for a very long time. The yellow cat slept beneath the white phlox.
  Thunder Run Mountain hung in sunshine, and Thunder Run’s voice made a
  steady murmur in the air. Tom, with his trembling old hands, folded a
  newspaper and put it beneath the empty toll-box. He knew every word of
  it; there was no use in going over it any more.

  “They don’t go into details enough,” said Tom; “I want to know how the
  boys look, and what they’re saying.”

  “New Market!” said Sairy. “All them children. I can’t get New Market
  out of my head.”

  “I’ve been down to Three Oaks for a day,” spoke Christianna. “Mrs.
  Cleave wouldn’t talk about New Market, but it seemed like Miss Miriam
  couldn’t keep away from it. Lexington—an’ the cadets marchin’ at
  dawn—marchin’ with their white flag with Washington on it—marchin’ so
  trim down the Valley Pike—”

  “Fawns fighting for the herd,” said Tom.

  “An’ General Breckinridge welcomin’ them—an’ some troops that wanted
  to make fun singin’, ‘_Rock-a-bye, baby, on the tree-top_’—an’ Sunday
  mornin’ comin’, an’ the battle—”

  “And that was a hard field,” said Tom, “to plough on a Sunday
  morning.”

  “Mrs. Cleave said that once before there was a Children’s Crusade an’
  that no good came of it. She said that when the old began to kill the
  young Nature herself must be turning dizzy. An’ Miss Miriam read every
  paper an’ then lay there, lookin’ with her big, burnin’ eyes.”

  Sairy rose, went into the kitchen, and returned with a pan of apples
  which she began to pare. The sun was over the shoulder of Thunder Run
  Mountain and in its heat and light the flowers in the garden smelled
  strongly, the mountain-head lay in a shimmering haze, and a pool of
  gold touched Christianna’s shoe. It was late in May, the Wilderness
  and Spottsylvania over—Cold Harbour not yet—in Georgia the armies
  lying about New Hope Church.

  “Mother came up the mountain yesterday,” said Christianna.

  “I hope she’s well?”

  “Yes, ma’am, she’s real well. Mother’s awful strong. It’s one of the
  hospital’s half-empty times, so she’s come home for a week. She’s
  cuttin’ wood this mahnin’. It’s mighty good to have her home—she’s so
  cheerful.”

  “That’s where she shows her strong mind.”

  “Yes, ma’am. She says that when summer comes you don’t have smallpox,
  and when winter comes, typhoid eases off. Mrs. Cleave says the
  soldiers all like mother.”

  “Allan,” remarked Sairy,—“Allan always said Mrs. Maydew was an
  extraordinary woman. Talkin’ of Allan—”

  A lean, red-brown hand came over the gate to the latch. The yellow cat
  rose, stretched himself, and left the path. The hand opened the gate
  and Steve Dagg, entering, limped the thirty feet between gate and
  porch.

  “Mornin’, folks!” he said, with an ingratiatory grin.

  “Mornin’.”

  Steve sat down upon the step, carefully handling, as he did so, the
  treasure of his foot. “It’s awful hard to be lamed for life! But if
  you’re lamed in a good cause, I reckon that’s all you ought to ask!”

  Sairy eyed him with disfavour. “Land sake, Steve, the war ain’t goin’
  to last that long!”

  “We were talking about New Market,” said Tom. “Since Monday there
  ain’t any news come from Richmond way.”

  “That’s so,” said Steve, “but I reckon we’re fightin’ hard somewhere
  ’bout the Chickahominy. Gawd knows we fought there in ’62 like lions
  of the field! Did I ever tell you about Savage Station, ’n’ a mountain
  o’ dirt ’n’ stuff the Yanks had prevaricated the railroad with—’n’ how
  we cleared it away—me ’n’ an artilleryman of Kemper’s ’n’ some
  others—so that what we called the railroad gun could pass—”

  “Yes, you’ve told it,” said Tom, “but tell it again.”

  “’N’ the railroad gun—that was a siege-piece on a flatcar, Miss
  Christianna—come a-hawkin’ ’n’ a-steamin’ up ’n’ I ’n’ the others
  piled on. Gawd! it was sunset ’n’ the woods like black coal ag’in’ it
  ... ’n’ we came on the railroad bridge ’n’ the Yanks began to shell
  us.” Steve shivered. “Them shells played on that gun like the rain on
  Old Gray Rock up there; ’n’ jest like Old Gray Rock we looked at ’em
  ’n’ said, ‘Play away!’—’n’ we rumbled ’n’ roared off the bridge, ’n’
  got into position on top of an embankment, ’n’ three batteries begun
  to shell us, ’n’ we shelled back; ’n’ those of us who weren’t at the
  guns, we took off our hats ’n’ waved ’n’ hurrahed—”

  “If there ain’t any top to truth,” said Sairy, _sotto voce_, “neither
  air there any bottom to lyin’.”

  “’N’ I reckon we saved the day for General Magruder! The artilleryman
  was a cowardly kind of fellow, ’n’ he left us pretty soon, but the
  rest of us—Gawd! we ’n’ that railroad gun did the business! Naw,” said
  Steve mournfully, “they may think they’re fightin’ hard down ’roun’
  Richmond, but it ain’t like it used to be! We ain’t never goin’ to see
  fightin’ ag’in like what we fought in ’62. The best men in this here
  war air dead or disabled.—Of course, of course, Mrs. Cole, thar air
  exceptions!”

  “A man from Lynchburg passed this way yesterday,” said Sairy. “He was
  tellin’ us that Crook and Averell air certainly goin’ to join Hunter
  at Staunton an’ that Lynchburg’s right uneasy. He said there was a
  feelin’ in the air that this end of the Valley wasn’t going to be
  spared much longer. He said that General Smith at Lexington told him
  that the storm was comin’ this way, and in that case Thunder Run might
  hear some thunder that wasn’t of the Lord’s manufacturing! Of course,
  if we do,” said Sairy, “we’ll have the benefit of your experience an’
  advice an’ aid.”

  Christianna spoke in her drawling voice. “Mother says there’s talk of
  maybe havin’ to move the hospital. She says they all say Hunter’s one
  of the worst. He’s one of the burnin’ kind, an’ he’s got a lot of men
  who can’t understand what you say to ’em—Germans.”

  “I think we ought to be organizing a Home Guard,” said Tom. “There’s
  your grandpap, Christianna, and the doctor and Charley Key and the boy
  at the sawmill—”

  “An’ Steve,” said Sairy.

  Steve squirmed upon the step. “I’ve seen a lot of Home Guards,” he
  said gloomily, “’n’ they don’t do a danged bit of good! They’re jest
  ridden over! Gawd! Thunder Run ain’t got a reception of what war is!
  General Lee oughtter send a corps—”

  “Maybe he will,” said Tom hopefully. “Maybe he’ll send the Second
  Corps!”

  “The Second Corps!” Steve grew pale. “He can’t send the Second
  Corps—it was all cut to pieces at Spottsylvania Court-House—Johnson’s
  division was, anyhow! The Second Corps ain’t—ain’t the fightin’ corps
  oncet it was. He’d better send the First or the Third.... Ouch! Do you
  mind ef I just loosen my shoe for a bit, Mrs. Cole? My foot’s awful
  bad this mornin’.”

  “You’d better telegraph him about the corps,” said Sairy, “right away.
  Otherwise he might think ’twas good enough for us—Valley men an’ all,
  an’ some of them even livin’ on Thunder Run. I could ha’ guessed
  without bein’ told that your foot was bad this mornin’.”

  Steve blinked. “I don’t want you to think, Mrs. Cole, that Steve Dagg
  wouldn’t be glad to see the division ’n’ the brigade ’n’ the
  Sixty-fifth—what’s left of them. I’d be glad enough to cry. It’s funny
  how fond soldiers get of each other—marchin’ ’n’ sufferin’ ’n’
  fightin’ together ’n’ helpin’ each other out of Devil’s Holes ’n’
  Bloody Angles ’n’ Lanes ’n’ such. No, ’m, ’tisn’t that. I’d be jest as
  glad to see the boys as I could be. I was jest a-thinkin’ of the good
  of us all, ’n’ them Marse Robert could spare ’n’ them he couldn’t.” He
  rose, holding by the sapling that made the porch pillar. “I reckon
  I’ll be creepin’ along. Old Mimy at the sawmill’s makin’ me a yarb
  liniment.”

  He went. Tom took for the twentieth time the newspaper from beneath
  the toll-box. Christianna sat absently regarding the great, sun-washed
  panorama commanded by Thunder Run Mountain. The yellow cat came back
  to the path.

  Sairy sighed. “It was always a puzzle to me what the next world does
  with some of the critturs it gets!”

  “It don’t seem noways anxious to get Steve,” said Tom, and began to
  read again about Spottsylvania.

  An hour later Christianna in her blue sunbonnet went up the mountain
  road toward the Maydew cabin. Rhododendron was in bloom; pine and
  hickory and walnut and birch made a massive shadow through whose rifts
  the sun cast bright sequins. Thunder Run, near at hand now, was
  uttering watery violences. The road, narrow and bad for wheels, was
  pleasant under the foot of a light walker, untrammelled, elastic,
  moving with delicate vigour. Christianna loosened her sunbonnet, and
  the summer wind breathed upon her forehead and ruffled her hair. She
  was dreaming of city streets and houses, of Richmond, and the going to
  and fro of the people there. Old Grey Rock rose before her to the
  right of the road. As she came abreast it, Steve Dagg rose from behind
  one of its ferny ledges.

  He grinned at her violent start. “Laid an avalanche for you, didn’t I?
  You ain’t really frightened? Did you think it was a bear?”

  “No! I thought it was a snake an’ a cat-o-mount an’ a—a monkey!” said
  Christianna, with spirit. “Friendly an’ polite people don’t do things
  like that!”

  Steve’s whine came into his voice. “Why don’t you like me, Miss
  Christianna? I don’t see why—”

  “If you don’t see that, you won’t never see anything!” said
  Christianna. “An’ I’d like to walk home in peace an’ quietness, Mr.
  Dagg!”

  Steve kept beside her. “I got a good cabin—thar ain’t any better on
  the mountain! I got”—his voice sank—“I got a little money, too, ’n’ it
  ain’t Confederate money that’s worth jest about as much as so many
  jimson leaves! _It’s gold._ I’ve got it hid.” He glanced about him. “I
  didn’t mean to tell that. You won’t mention it, Miss Christianna?”

  “No,” said Christianna; “it ain’t worth mentionin’.”

  Steve touched her sleeve with persuasive fingers. “I never loved a
  lady like I love you. Gawd! we’d be jest as happy—”

  Christianna walked faster. Ahead, in the light and shadow, a wild
  turkey crossed the road. Pine and hemlock showed dark and thick
  against the intense mid-day sky. Thunder Run, now much below the road,
  spoke with a lessened voice. Butterflies fluttered above wild
  honeysuckle in bloom, and high in the blue a hawk was sailing. Steve,
  keeping beside her, tried to put his arm around her waist. She broke
  from him and ran up the road. Long-legged and light of weight he ran
  after her, caught up with her, and began afresh to press his suit.

  “Why don’t you like me, Miss Christianna? Lots of women in the Valley
  ’n’ down about Richmond have! There was one up near Winchester that
  was so fond of me I couldn’t hardly git away.—There ain’t no reason
  that I kin see—I’d be jest as good to you as any man on this mountain.
  Most of the men have died off it, anyway, ’n’ I’m _here_! Why don’t
  you _try_ to like me? Ain’t Daggs as good as Maydews? ’N’ as for Allan
  Gold, if you’re thinkin’ of him—”

  Christianna turned. “From now right on I’m goin’ to bear witness that
  there isn’t a crittur on Thunder Run that uses its feet any better or
  faster than Steve Dagg can! You can walk an’ you can run, an’ when the
  army comes this-a-way I’m goin’ to bear witness that you can march!
  I’m goin’ to stand up just the same as in an experience meetin’ an’
  bear witness! An’ if the army takes you away with it—”

  Steve gasped. “It can’t! I got a doctor’s certificate.—It ain’t any
  way from Grey Rock, ’n’ love made me run. It was jest a moment ’n’
  I’ll pay for it to-morrow. I couldn’t march on that foot if Glory
  itself was there, hollerin’ me on!—Who’d believe you, either? A
  woman’s word ain’t countin’ much. Besides,”—he grinned, confidence
  returning,—“besides, you wouldn’t tell the regiment I’d run after you
  ’n’—’n’ kissed you—” His arm darted around her again. Christianna
  smote him on the cheek, broke away, and fled up the mountain.

  Around a turn of the road appeared, pacing stately, Mrs. Maydew. She
  was tall and strong, and she carried an axe in the hollow of her arm.

  Christianna stopped short with a sound between a sob and a laugh. She
  looked back. “Aren’t you comin’ on to the cabin, Mr. Dagg?”

  “Naw,” said Steve, “not to-day,” and, turning, went, elaborately
  limping, down the mountain.

  Some days later, being at the unworked sawmill at the foot of the
  mountain, he heard news. Crook and Averell had made a junction with
  Hunter at Staunton. Hunter had now an army of eighteen thousand men.
  Hunter was marching up the Valley, burning and destroying as he came.
  Hunter certainly meant to strike Lexington. Hunter—

  “Reckon we’d better rest right quiet here, don’t you?” asked Steve.
  “Even if they came into the county, they wouldn’t be likely to take a
  road this-a-way?”

  “I wouldn’t put it beyond them,” said the sawmill man darkly. “There’s
  a lot of valuable property on this mountain.”

  Steve grew profoundly restless. Each day now for a long time there was
  news. Breckinridge was at Rockfish Gap barring with a handful of
  troops Hunter’s direct road to Lynchburg. Hunter thereupon came on up
  the Valley with the intent to cross the Blue Ridge and pounce on
  Lynchburg from the west. He was a destroyer was Hunter and a
  well-hated one. The country was filled with sparks from his torches
  and with an indignant cry against his mode of warfare. Breckinridge
  marched to Lynchburg, but he detached McCausland with orders to do the
  best he could to harry and retard the blue advancing host. Down upon
  the Chickahominy, Lee was about to send Early, but days of fighting
  and burning must elapse before Early could reach Lynchburg. On the
  twelfth of June Hunter came to Lexington.



                             CHAPTER XXXII
                             HUNTER’S RAID


  Virginia Military Institute cadets were younger than they used to be.
  To suit the times the age of admittance had been dropped. Even so,
  steadily from the beginning there was a road of travel from the V.M.I.
  to the battle-fields. Out upon it went many a cadet in his trig white
  and grey, never to return. In May, 1864, the entire two hundred and
  fifty had travelled it, travelled down the Valley to New Market to
  help Breckinridge fight and win that battle. In dead and wounded,
  V.M.I. lost sixty boys. Now after a time of wild and blissful
  excitement the lessened corps was back in Lexington, back at the
  V.M.I., back to the old barracks, the old parade ground, the old
  studying. To the cadets it seemed hard lines.

  Hunter and his eighteen thousand came up the pike from Staunton,
  thirty-five miles away. McCausland and a cavalry brigade, drawn across
  his front at Midway, did all that could be done in the way of
  skirmishes for delay. Breckinridge was guarding Lynchburg, an
  important centre of communications, a place of military stores and
  hospitals, and filled with refugees. Early and the Second Corps were
  yet in Tidewater Virginia. There was no help anywhere. V.M.I. received
  orders to withdraw from Lexington.

  McCausland had the bridge across North River lined with hay, saturated
  with turpentine. An alley through was left for his men when, at the
  last, they must fall back before the blue advance. The night of the
  eleventh passed, the people of Lexington sleeping little, the cadets
  under arms all night. Dawn came up in rose and silver. House Mountain
  had a roof of mist; all the lovely Rockbridge country was as fresh and
  sweet as any Eden. Out the Staunton road came a burst of firing; then
  with a clattering of hoofs, with shouts, with turning in saddles and
  emptying of pistols and carbines, McCausland and his troopers
  appeared, pressed back upon the bridge. They crossed, horsemen and a
  section of artillery, then struck a torch into the turpentine-soaked
  hay. Up roared a pillar of flame, reddening the water. With a great
  burst of noise Hunter’s vanguard appeared. They galloped up and down
  the north bank of the river shouting and firing. McCausland answered
  from the hills across. The bridge burned with a roaring noise and a
  great cloud of smoke. A Federal battery coming up got into position on
  a great rise of ground commanding the town, and from it began to shell
  the most apparent mass of buildings. This was the Virginia Military
  Institute.

  The grey and white cadets were drawn up on the parade ground. They
  stood there with their colours, with their tense young faces. The
  first shell struck the hall of the Society of Cadets, struck and
  exploded, working ruin. After this there began a bombardment of the
  corner towers, and a heavy rain upon the parade ground.

  “_Attention! Right face! Forward! March!_”

  Drum and fife played “Dixie.” Away from the old V.M.I., coming down in
  ruin about them, marched the cadets. They marched to a fierce bright
  music, but their faces were flushed and quivering. It needed all their
  boy pride to keep the tears away. Lexington, anxious-hearted, saw them
  go. Behind them the batteries were thundering, and Hunter’s thousands
  were gathering like locusts. Colonel Shipp and the cadets took the
  Balcony Falls road—Balcony Falls first and then Lynchburg, and active
  service somewhere if not at Lexington....

  They came to a high hill, several miles south of the town. “_Halt!_”
  and the two hundred and fifty halted, and resting on their pieces
  looked back. The Virginia Military Institute was on fire. Tower and
  turret, arsenal, mess hall, barracks, houses of the professors, all
  were burning down.

  Hunter made no long tarrying in Lexington. He waited but to burn the
  house of the Governor of Virginia and swept on toward the pass in the
  Blue Ridge he had in mind. His line of march brought him and his
  thousands into a country as yet uncharred by war.


  At Three Oaks there was a wounded soldier—a kinsman of Margaret
  Cleave’s, wounded in a skirmish in southwest Virginia and brought in
  an ambulance by his servant back to his native county. Here he found
  his own home closed; his mother gone to Richmond to nurse another son,
  his sister in Lynchburg with her husband. The ambulance took him on to
  Three Oaks, and here he had been for some days. Exposure and travel
  had not been good for him, and though his wound was healing, he lay in
  a low fever. He lay in Richard’s room, nursed by Margaret and an old,
  wrinkled, coloured woman.

  Tullius was at Three Oaks. Cleave had sent him back, months before, to
  be a stay to the place. Now Margaret, coming through the hall, found
  him on the back porch, standing on the step between the pillars like a
  grave old Rameses. It was a hot June day, with clouds that promised a
  storm.

  “What is it, Tullius?” asked Margaret. She took an old cane-seat chair
  and faced him. There were threads of grey in her hair. The old man
  noticed them this morning.

  “Miss Miriam ain’ nowhere ’roun’, is she?”

  “No. She is out with her book under the oaks. What is it?”

  “They’ve flowed over Buchanan, Miss Margaret. I done took the horse
  an’ went down as far as Mount Joy. I met a man an’ he say they tried
  to cross by the bridge, but General McCausland done burn the bridge.
  Hit didn’t stop ’em. They marched up the river to the ford an’
  crossed, an’ come hollerin’ an’ firin’ down on the town. An’ a house
  by the mouth of the bridge caught an’ a heap of houses were burnin’,
  he say, when he left. An’ he say that some of the Yankees were those
  foreigners that can’t understand a word you say, an’ a lot of them
  were drunk. I saw the smoke an’ fire an’ heard the shoutin’. An’ then
  I come right home.”

  “Do you think that they will march this way?”

  “There ain’t any tellin’, Miss Margaret. They’ve got bands out,
  ’flictin’ the country.”

  Margaret rested her forehead upon her hands. “Captain Yeardley—it will
  put his life in danger to move him ... and then, move him where?
  Where, Tullius, where?”

  “Miss Margaret, I don’ know. Less’n ’twas somewhere in the woods or up
  on the mountain-side.”

  Margaret rose. “Get the wagon, then. We’ll make a bed for him, and do
  all we can, and then pray to God.... You’d better go by the old
  Thunder Run road and turn off up one of the ravines.”

  “Miss Margaret, Jim’s got a good head, an’ he kin tek the Captain away
  an’ tek care of him. I’se gwine stay at Three Oaks. I’se gwine stay
  with you an’ Miss Miriam.”

  Miriam’s startled voice came through the hall from the front porch.
  “Mother! mother, come here! Here’s a boy who says the Yankees are
  burning Mount Joy!”

  She did not wait for her mother, but came down the hall, at her heels
  a white-lipped, wild-eyed youngster of twelve. News came from him in
  gulps, like water from a bottle. He had been taking his father’s horse
  to be shod, and down near Mount Joy he had seen the Yankees coming up
  the road in time to get out of their way. He had gone through a gate
  into an orchard and had got down and hidden with the horse below a
  bank with elder growing over it. From there he had seen how the
  Yankees came through the big gate and over the garden and to the
  house.... After a while, when it was all on fire and there was a lot
  of noise and he couldn’t see much for the smoke, a little coloured
  girl had come creeping through the orchard grass. She told him the
  Yankees said they were going to burn every house in the country they
  could get at. And she said he had a horse, and why didn’t he go and
  tell people, so’s they could get their things out—and he thought he’d
  better, and so he had been telling them—

  How long since he had left the orchard?

  He didn’t know—he thought about three hours.

  Mahalah came running in. “O my Lawd, Miss Margaret! O my Lawd, de
  Yankees comin’ up de big road lak er swarm o’ bees! O my Lawd, dey
  kills an’ eats you!”

  “Nonsense, Mahalah! Be quiet! Tullius, go upstairs to the east room
  window and see how near they are.”

  Tullius returned. “They’ve got a mile an’ a half yit, Miss Margaret,
  an’ they ain’t marchin’ fast. Just kind o’ strollin’.”

  “How many?”

  “Hundred or two.”

  “Get the wagon as quickly as you can. If Jim can get down the farm
  road to the woods without their seeing him, the rest may be done. Tell
  Jim to hurry. Then you and he come and lift Captain Yeardley.”

  She turned and went upstairs toward Richard’s room. Going, she spoke
  over her shoulder to her daughter. “Miriam, get everybody together and
  make them take it quietly. Tell them no one’s going to harm them!”

  “Everybody” was not hard to get together. Counting out Tullius and
  Jim, there were only Aunt Ailsey and Mahalah, old Peggy, Martha and
  young Martha, William and Mat and Rose’s Husband. They were already
  out of cabin and kitchen and in from the home fields. Miriam gathered
  them on the side porch. They all adored her and she handled them with
  genius. Her thin cheeks had in each a splash of carmine, her eyes were
  unearthly large, dark and liquid. All that she said to them was that
  it was good manners to do so and so—or not to do so and so—in a
  contingency like the present. Ladies and gentlemen keep very quiet and
  dignified—and we are ladies and gentlemen—and that is all there is
  about it. “And here is the wagon, and now we’ll see Captain Yeardley
  off, and wish him a good journey, and then _we’ll forget that he has
  ever been here_. That’s manners that every one of us must show!”

  Tullius and Jim brought the wounded officer downstairs on his mattress
  and laid him in the wagon. Old Patsy followed to nurse him, and they
  placed beside him, too, his uniform and hat and sword. He was flushed
  with fever and light-headed.

  “This is no way to do it!” he insisted. “Inconsiderate brutes to take
  advantage!—Ladies, too! Must stay and protect.—Lovely day for a drive!
  See the country at its best!—New fashion, driving lying down! driving
  in bed!—Time for new fashions, had old fashions long enough!—Bring the
  ladies home something pretty—scarf or feather!—saw a man once show the
  white feather—it wasn’t pretty.—Pretty, pretty—

                       ‘_Pretty Polly Watkins_—,’”

  Jim drove him away, trying to sing. It was not far to where the farm
  road dipped into a heavy woodland. The rumble of the wagon died from
  the air.

  Mother and daughter turned and looked at each other. Margaret spoke.
  “The hair trunk with Will’s things in it, and the portraits and silver
  and your great-grandfather’s books and letters—we might hide them in
  the hollow behind the ice-house. No one can see it for the
  honeysuckle.”

  “Very well. I’ll get the books and papers.”

  Tullius and Mat carried out the small hair trunk and took down the two
  or three oil portraits and the Saint Memin. Miriam, with Peggy to
  help, laid a sheet on the floor and heaped into it a treasured shelf
  of English poetry, essay, philosophy, and drama, old and mellow of
  binding, with quaint prints, and all annotated in her
  great-grandfather’s clear, firm writing. To them she added a box
  filled with old family, Revolutionary, and Colonial letters. William
  and Rose’s Husband took up the bundle, Martha and young Martha and
  Mahalah filled their aprons with the silver. All hurried through the
  flower garden, between the sweet william and canterbury bell and
  hermosa roses, to the mossy-roofed ice-house and a cavity, scooped by
  nature in the bank behind and veiled by a mass of vines. Will and
  Miriam had always used it when they played Swiss Family Robinson. Now
  they leaned the portraits against its damp walls and set the hair
  trunk and the silver and the books and papers on the earth that
  glistened where snails had traversed it. The honeysuckle did not hide
  the place perfectly, but it would take a deliberate search and sharp
  eyes to discover it, and beggars must not be choosers. The movements
  of all had been swift; they were back through the flower garden to the
  house in the shortest of times. As mother and daughter reëntered the
  hall they heard through the open front door a hum of voices and a
  sound of oncoming feet.

  “We had best meet them here,” said Margaret.

  “I am going upstairs to get my amethysts,” said Miriam. “I am going to
  put them around my neck, inside my dress.”

  Three Oaks was burned. Porch and pillars, doors and windows, hall and
  chambers, walls and chimneys submitted, since they could not help it,
  to a shroud of fire, and crumbled within it. The family was allowed to
  take nothing out. Matters that they prized were taken out, indeed, but
  not by them nor for them. At the eleventh hour soldiers, searching the
  garden, found the little cavern and its contents. The silver was
  reserved, but the hair trunk, the portraits, books and papers were
  thrown into the flames.

  Margaret Cleave and her daughter and the coloured people watched
  destruction from the knoll beneath the three oaks. It was home that
  was burning—home that had been long lived in, long loved. The outdoor
  kitchen and the cabins also caught—all Three Oaks was burning down. In
  the glare moved the band of the foe sent out to do the work. The sun
  had set and the night was at hand—at hand with storm. Already the
  lightnings were playing, the thunder pealing. Three soldiers came up
  to the cluster beneath the oaks. They rolled in their gait like
  sailors.

  “Look here! Rebel women ain’t got any need of watches and rings! If
  you’ve got any on, hand them over!”

  “Miss Margaret,” demanded Tullius, “what’ll I do?”

  Margaret looked at him with her beautiful, friendly eyes. “Nothing in
  the world, Tullius. Stay perfectly still!”—She explained to the
  soldiers. “I gave my watch and some rings that I had to the
  Confederacy long ago. My daughter has neither.”

  “She’s got a chain around her neck this minute. If you don’t want—”

  “Exactly. Give the gentleman the necklace, Miriam.”

  Miriam unclasped and gave it. The three looked at Mahalah’s hoop
  earrings, but at that moment an officer came up and they perforce fell
  back. “The men are—er—exhilarated, and not well in hand,” he said. “I
  would advise you ladies to leave the place.”

  They went, Margaret and Miriam leading, Tullius and the others
  pressing behind them. Save for the lightnings it was dark when they
  passed through the big gate out upon the open road. Behind them the
  three oaks stood up like giant sea fans in an ocean of fire. A moment
  later the storm broke in a wild clamour of wind and rain.



                             CHAPTER XXXIII
                               BACK HOME


  Eight thousand strong the Second Corps, Jubal Early at its head, left
  the region of the Chickahominy on the thirteenth of June, marched
  eighty-odd miles in four days, boarded at Charlottesville the Orange
  and Alexandria and so came south to Lynchburg. Here, Breckinridge
  being wounded, D.H. Hill, brought to this town on some duty, was found
  in command. He had earthworks and a motley force—Breckinridge’s
  handful, cavalry ready to fight dismounted, home guard, hospital
  convalescents, V.M.I. cadets. Noon of seventeenth in came Early with
  Ramseur’s division, Gordon’s following.

  Hunter, having burned and harried Rockbridge and a corner of
  Botetourt, crossed the Blue Ridge and swept through Bedford toward
  Lynchburg, Imboden and McCausland skirmishing with him at New London,
  and again and heavily at the Quaker Meeting-House. From this point,
  cavalry fell back to Lynchburg, where with Breckinridge’s men they
  held the Forrest road. On came the eighteen thousand and found
  breastworks across their path, and Ramseur and Gordon with artillery.
  Hunter halted, deployed, brought up artillery and thundered for an
  hour, then, night appearing in the east, went into camp over against
  the grey front. The next day and the next there was thunder of cannon
  and cavalry skirmishing, but no battle. Suddenly, on the night of the
  nineteenth, Hunter broke camp, and, facing about, marched away to the
  westward. His army doubled in numbers the grey force in his front. Why
  he went so hastily after nothing but a glancing blow or two the grey
  could not tell—though Gordon states, “If I were asked for an opinion
  as to this utterly causeless fright and flight I should be tempted to
  say that conscience was harrowing General Hunter, and causing him to
  see an avenger wrapped in every grey jacket before him.” Be that as it
  may, Hunter was gone at midnight, and the grey column took up the
  pursuit at dawn, moving by the Liberty turnpike. Behind the Second
  Corps lay the giant labour, giant weariness of Wilderness to Cold
  Harbour, and on this side of that the forced marching from Tidewater,
  and now, rolling on in a dream of weariness, the pursuit after Hunter,
  sixty miles in two days and a half.

  It was a weary dream and yet it had its interest, for this was new
  country to the Second Corps, thrown this way for the first time in all
  the war. It knew much of Virginia so exceedingly well—and here was a
  new road and the interests of a new road! Here and there in column it
  was not new country, it was to soldiers here and there land of old
  time, their part of Virginia. Some had had furloughs and had come back
  to it, once or twice or thrice; others had missed furloughs, had not
  seen these mountains and waters for so long a time that now they
  looked at them wistfully as we look with closed eyes at the landscapes
  of childhood. The thickness of a life seemed to lie between them and
  the countryside; one could not reckon all that had happened since they
  had marched from these blue mountains and these sunny fields—marched
  to end in one battle the trouble between North and South!

  Richard Cleave rode at the head of the Golden Brigade. There were now
  no full grey brigades, no complete grey regiments. All were worn to a
  wraith of their former seeming. They took not a half, often not a
  third, of the space of road they once had covered. The volume of sound
  of their marching was diminished, the flags were closer together. Had
  the dead come to life, taken their old places, there would have passed
  on the Liberty pike a very great army. But scattered like thistledown
  from the stem lay the dead in a thousand fields.

  The living Sixty-fifth moved with jingle and clank through the heat
  and dust and glare. It had men and officers who were at home in this
  landscape seen through clefts in the dust cloud. What was left of the
  old Company A were all from the rolling hills, the vales between, the
  high blue mountains now rising before the column. Thunder Run men
  pointed out the Peaks of Otter; there ran a low talk of the James, of
  North Mountain and Purgatory, of Mill Creek and Back Creek and Craig
  Creek, of village and farm and cabin, smithy and mill. Company A did
  not feel tired, it was glad when the halts were ended, glad to hear
  the _Column forward_! Matthew Coffin had been home twice since First
  Manassas; other men of the region had been home, Thunder Run had seen
  a furlough or two, but many of the living of Company A had not
  returned in four years’ time. Allan Gold had not been back nor Dave
  and Billy Maydew.

  The column was moving rapidly. Hunter had a few hours’ start, but this
  was the “foot cavalry” that was pursuing him. The road was rough, the
  dust blinding, the heat exhausting, but on pressed the “foot cavalry.”
  “_Hot! Hot! Hot!_” said the rapid feet, so many of them half-shoeless.
  “Heat and dust! Heat and dust! There used to be springs in this
  country,—springs to drink and creeks to wade in.... Then we were
  boys—long ago—long ago—”

  Mouth furred with dust, throat baked with dust and cracked with
  thirst, much ground to cover in short time, the column for the most
  part kept its lips closed. It went steadily, rhythmically, bent on
  getting its business done, no more forever aught but veterans,
  seasoned, grey, determined. But in the short halts granted it between
  long times it spoke. It lay on the ground beside welcome waters and
  babbled of heaven and earth. That portion of the Sixty-fifth whose
  shores these were spoke as soldiers immemorially speak when after
  years the war road leads past home. The rests were short. _Fall in!
  Fall in!_—and on after Hunter swung the Second Corps.

  In the hot June dusk, in the small town of Liberty, twenty-five miles
  from Lynchburg, they found his rear guard. Ramseur charged and drove
  it through the place and out and on into the night. There sprang a
  sudden shriek of shells, rear guard joining main body, and the
  batteries opening on the grey, heard coming up in the night. The grey
  line halted; grey and blue, alike exhausted with much and sore travel,
  fell upon the warm earth and slept as they had been dead, through the
  short summer night. Grey was in column as the candles of heaven were
  going out—on before them they heard the blue striking the flints on
  the Liberty and Salem turnpike.

  The sun came up hot and glorious. Full before the column rose the Blue
  Ridge. The men, moving in a huge dust cloud, talked only between
  times. “Hunter’s a swift Hunter or he wants to get away mighty bad!
  ‘Burner’ Hunter!”—“I could get right hot of heart—but what’s the
  use?”—“I don’t bother about the use. You’ve got to have a heart like a
  hot coal sometimes, with everything blowing upon it!”—“That’s so!
  Life’s right tragic.”—_Press forward, men!_—“Peaks of Otter! Boys from
  hereabouts say there’s an awful fine view from the top.”—“Awful fine
  view? Should think there was! When you’re up there—if you go alone—you
  feel like you’re halfway upstairs to God! Don’t do to go with
  anybody—they make a fuss and enjoy it.”—“We’re going straight into the
  mountains.”—“Yes, straight into the mountains. Thunder Run Mountain’s
  over there.”

  The road was now a climbing road. The column moved upon it like a
  gleaming dragon—the head in thick woods lifting toward the heights,
  the rear far back in the rolling green land just north of Liberty. The
  Golden Brigade was near the head. The Sixty-fifth felt the world climb
  beneath its feet. Allan and Billy were thinking of Thunder Run;
  Matthew Coffin was thinking of the pale blue letter-paper girl.
  Allan’s vision was now the toll-gate and now the school-house, and
  now, and at last persistently, the road up Thunder Run Mountain and
  Christianna Maydew walking on it. Blended with this vision of the road
  was a vision of the hospital in Richmond after Gaines’s Mill. He lay
  again on a blanket on the floor in a corner of the ward, thirsty and
  in pain, with closed eyes, and Christianna came and knelt and gave him
  water....

  The road climbed steeply. Above ran on to the sky long, wooded, purple
  slopes. At one point showed a break, a “gap.” “That’s where we ’re
  going! That’s Buford’s Gap!” On and on and up and up—_Halt!_ rang out
  from the head of the column, and _Halt!—Halt!—Halt!_ ran from segment
  to segment of the mounting length.

  Hunter, a week before, had not appeared on Thunder Run Mountain. No
  torch came near its scattered “valuable property.” The few men left
  upon the mountain were not pressed or shot or marched away to Yankee
  prisons. Thunder Run Mountain saw burning buildings in the valleys
  below and heard tales of devastation, even heard wind of a rumour that
  Hunter’s line of march lay across it, in which case it might expect to
  be burned with fire and sowed with salt. It was this rumour that sent
  Steve Dagg on a visit to a long-forgotten kinswoman in Bedford.... And
  then the line of march had proved to be by the kinswoman’s house!

  Steve broke from a band of Federals speaking German and somewhat
  blindly plunged into the woods toward the Peaks. “Gawd! I reckon they
  ain’t comin’ to the top of Apple Orchard!”

  With occasional descents to a hermit’s cabin for food he lay out on
  Apple Orchard until he had seen the last horseman of the Federal
  column disappear, Lynchburg direction. It was warm and pleasant on
  Apple Orchard and the hermit was congenial. Steve stayed on to
  recuperate. And then, with suddenness, here again in the distance
  appeared the head of the Federal column—coming back! Steve felt the
  nightmare redescending.

  The hermit, who was really lame, went to the nearest hamlet and
  returned with news. “We got army at Lynchburg—big army. Hunter’s
  beaten stiff and running this way! He’ll cross at Buford’s again, and
  I reckon then he’ll keep to the woods and go west. You’d better wait
  right here—”

  “Thank you, I thought I would,” said Steve. “A man can have a fightin’
  temper, ’n’ yet back off from a locomotive—”

  Hunter’s thousands disappeared, the last rear guard horseman of them.
  Steve was content. And then of a suddenness, there burst a quarrel
  with the hermit. He had a gun and a dog and Steve found it advisable
  to leave. It came into his head, “The Yanks ain’t goin’ to make any
  stop this side of Salem, if there! ’n’ if the Second Corps comes
  along, it’s goin’ to hurry through. If it’s after Hunter it won’t have
  no time to come gallivantin’ on Thunder Run! Old Jack would ha’ rushed
  it through like greased lightning, ’n’ I reckon Old Dick or Old Jube,
  or whatever darn fool’s riskin’ his skin leadin’, ’ll rush it through
  too!—I’ll go back to Thunder Run.”

  He began to put his intention into execution, moving across miles of
  woodland with a certain caution, since there might just possibly be
  blue stragglers. He found none, however, and came in good spirits to a
  high point from which he could discern distances of the Liberty pike
  running southeast to Lynchburg. Upon it, quite far away, was a moving
  pillar of dust, moving toward him. Steve knew what it was well enough.
  “Second Corps,” he grinned. “_Yaaih! Yaaaihh!_ Reckon I’ll be
  travelling along!”

  So sure was he that the road before him was clear, and he was in such
  good spirits from the consideration that the “foot cavalry” would
  hurry incontinently after Hunter, that he quite capered along the road
  that now climbed toward Buford’s Gap. It was afternoon, warm, with a
  golden light. And then, suddenly, being almost in the gap, he observed
  something which gave him pause. It was nothing more or less than trees
  cut away from a rocky height overhanging the gorge through which
  passed the road, and some metal bores projecting from the ledges.
  Steve’s breath came whistlingly. “Gawd! Yankee battery!” In a moment
  he saw another, perched on a further ledge and masked by pine boughs.
  Steve panted. “Avalanche! Another minute ’n’ they’d ha’ seen me.”

  He was already deep in the woods beside the road, his face now turned
  quite away from his projected path. Indeed, when he came to himself he
  found that he was moving southward, and due, if he kept on, to meet
  that dust cloud and the Second Corps. His heart beating violently, he
  drew up beneath a hemlock, the vast brown trunk and a mile or so of
  blue air between him and the cannon-fringed crags. Here he slid down
  upon the scented earth and fell to thinking, his hand automatically
  beating to death with a small stick a broken-winged moth creeping over
  the needles. Steve thought at first with a countenance of blankness,
  and then with a strange, watery smile. His eyes lengthened and
  narrowed, his lips widened. “I got an idea,” he whispered. “Make ’em
  like me.”

  Sitting there he rolled up his trouser leg, removed a rotten shoe and
  ragged sock, then took a knife from his pocket and after a shiver of
  apprehension scraped and abraded an old, small wound and sore until it
  bled afresh. Out of his pocket he took a roll of dirty bandage kept
  against just such an emergency as this. Having first carefully stained
  it with blood, he rolled it around foot and shin, pinned it with a
  rusty pin, donned again sock and shoe, stood up and gave three minutes
  to the practice of an alternate limp and shuffle. This over he broke
  and trimmed a young dogwood for a staff, and with it in hand he went
  southward a considerable distance through the woods, then crossed to
  the road. Behind him, a good long way off, showed the gap where was
  planted the “avalanche.” Before him came rolling the road from
  Liberty. The dust cloud on it was rapidly growing larger. Steve,
  leaning heavily on his stick, limped to meet it.

  Cavalry ahead took his news, halted and sent back to Jubal Early. That
  commander spurred forward. “‘Avalanche?’ What d’ye mean? Guns? Where?
  Up there? — — ——! All right. Two can play at that game—_Battery
  forward!_”

  Steve conceived himself to be neglected. Carefully propped by his
  stick and a roadside boulder he hearkened to orders and marked
  manœvres until he was aweary. He had saved the Second Corps and it
  wasn’t noticing him! He grew palely dogged. “They got ter notice me.
  Gawd! I’ve seen a man thanked in General Orders ’n’ promoted right up
  for less’n I’ve done!” In addition to a sense of his dues a
  fascination kept him where he was. The unwonted feeling of superiority
  protected him from fear; no army would too closely question its
  saviour! The rag about his foot, as he assured himself every now and
  then with a glance, was good and bloody. So well fixed and with such a
  vantage-point, he gave way to a desire just to see how the boys looked
  after so long a time. Vanguard and artillery had gone forward; down
  the road he saw coming at a double an infantry brigade; further back
  the main body had been halted. He gathered from a comment of officers
  passing that there was a conviction that it was only Hunter’s rear
  guard before them in the pass. Cavalry scouts spurring back,
  clattering down dangerous paths from adjoining crests, justified the
  conviction. The Federal main body was pressing on upon the Salem road
  while the rear guard gained time. And here the blue rear guard,
  observing from its crags that the ambuscade had been discovered,
  opened fire. The grey guns now in battery on a knoll of hemlocks
  answered. The Blue Ridge echoed the thunders.

  It was near sunset and the brigade coming up was bathed in a slant and
  rich light. With a gasp Steve recognized the horse and rider at its
  head. He raised and bent his arm and hid his face, only looking forth
  with one frightened eye. Cleave and Dundee went by without recognizing
  him, without, as far as he could tell, glancing his way. Steve chose
  again to feel injury. “Gawd, Colonel! if I did try to get even with
  you once, ain’t you a general now, ’n’ ain’t I jest saved your life
  ’n’ all your men?—’n’ you go by without lookin’ at me any more’n if I
  was dirt! If you’d been a Christian ’n’ stopped, I could ha’ told you
  you were goin’ home to find your house burned down ’n’ your sister
  dyin’! I jest saved your life ’n’ you don’t know it! I jest saved this
  army ’n’ don’t any one know it.... O Gawd! here’s the Sixty-fifth!”

  Steve could not stand it. “Howdy, boys!” he said. “Howdy, howdy!” The
  water came into his eyes. He saw through a mist the colours and the
  slanted bayonets and the ragged hats or no hats and the thin, tanned
  faces. A drop gathered and rolled down his cheek. There was a
  momentary halt of the Sixty-fifth, the last rank abreast of the
  boulder by the road. _Forward!_ and the regiment moved on, and Steve
  marched with it. “Yaas, you didn’t know it, but I jest saved you boys
  ’n’ the army! I was comin’ along the road—I got a sore foot—’n’ I
  looked up ’n’ seed the guns—”

  The sun went down and the night came, with the guns yet baying at one
  another, and the well-posted blue yet in possession of the rocks above
  the gorge. But in the middle of the night the blue withdrew, hurrying
  away upon the Salem road. McCausland, pursuing, captured prisoners and
  two pieces of artillery. But the great length of Hunter’s column,
  wheeling from Salem toward Lewisburg, plunged into the mountains of
  western Virginia. From the grey administration’s point of view it was
  better there than elsewhere. Early, under orders now for the main
  Valley, rested in Botetourt for one day, then took the pike for
  Staunton.

  One day! Matthew Coffin spent it with the blue letter-paper young
  lady. Allan Gold and Billy and Dave Maydew covered with long strides
  the road to Thunder Run. Making all speed up and down, they might have
  the middle of the day for _home-at-last_. Richard Cleave rode to
  Fincastle and found in a house there his mother and sister. Miriam was
  sinking fast. She knew him, but immediately wandered off to talk of
  books, of Hector and Achilles and people in the “Morte d’Arthure.” He
  had but two hours. At the end he knelt and kissed his sister’s brow,
  then came out into the porch with his mother and held her in a parting
  embrace. She clung to him with passion. “Richard—Richard!—All is
  turned to iron and clay and blood and tears! Love itself is turning to
  pure pain—”

  Riding back to his troops he went by Three Oaks. There was only a
  great blackened chimney stack, a ragged third of a wall, a charred
  mass behind. He checked Dundee and stood long in the ragged gap where
  the gate had been and looked, then went on by the darkening road to
  the Golden Brigade.

  Up on Thunder Run, throughout the morning, there was great
  restlessness at the toll-gate. Tom knew they couldn’t come this
  way—yes, he knew it. Their road lay along other mountains—he wished
  that he had the toll-gate at Buford’s. Yes, he knew they wouldn’t be
  likely to stop—he knew that, too. He didn’t expect to see any one. He
  could have borrowed the sawmill wagon and gone down the mountain and
  over to the Salem road and seen them pass just as well.—No, he wasn’t
  too weak. He wasn’t weak at all—only he wanted to see the army and
  Allan. He hadn’t ever seen the army and now he didn’t reckon he would
  ever see it. Yes, he could imagine it—imagine it just as well as any
  man—but he didn’t want to imagine it, he wanted to see it! And now he
  wouldn’t ever see it—never see it and never see Allan.

  “Sho! you will,” said Sairy. “You’ll certainly see Allan.”

  But Tom did not believe it, and he wanted intensely to see the army.
  “I see it when I dream, and I see it often and often when I’m sitting
  here. I see it marching, marching, and I see it going into battle, and
  I see it bivouacking. But it won’t look at me, and though sometimes I
  take the boys’ hands there ain’t any touch to them, and I can see the
  drums beating, but they don’t give any sound—”

  Sairy looked away, out and over the great view below the toll-gate. “I
  know, Tom. Sometimes in the night-time I sit up an’ say, ‘That was a
  bugle blowing.’ An’ I listen, but I can’t hear it then.—But the Lord
  tells us to be content, an’ you’d better let him see you’re tryin’ to
  mind him! What good’ll it do Allan or the army if I have to set up
  with you to-night an’ your heart gives out? You’d better save yourself
  so’s to see him when he does come home. My land! the lot of things
  he’ll have to tell, settin’ on the porch an’ the war over, an’ school
  takin’ in again—”

  “Sairy,” said Tom wistfully, “sometimes I get an awful fear that we
  ain’t going to beat—”

  “Sho!” said Sairy. “If we don’t beat one way we will another! I ain’t
  a-worryin’ about that. Nothing’s ever teetotally beaten, not even eggs
  when you make cake. It’s an awful safe universe.”

  “It ain’t your day,” said Tom, “for a clean apron, but you’ve got one
  on.”

  “I ain’t never denied that there was a Sunday feel in the air! We
  mayn’t see the army and we mayn’t see Allan, but they’re only a few
  miles from us.”

  “What’s that I smell?—It’s gingerbread baking!”

  “I had a pint of molasses saved away an’ a little sugar. I just
  thought I might as well make gingerbread. If Allan came he’d like it,
  an’ if he didn’t we could eat it talkin’ of him an’ sayin’ we were
  keepin’ his birthday.”

  She went into the kitchen. Tom rested his forehead on the knob of his
  cane. His lips moved. The wind rustled the leaves of the forest, the
  sun shone. Thunder Run sang, the bees hummed above the old blush
  roses, the yellow cat came up the path and rubbed against Tom’s ankle.
  The smell of the gingerbread floated out hot and strong, a redbird in
  a gum tree broke into a clear, high carolling.

  “O Lord, I’m an old man,” whispered Tom. “I ain’t got much fun or
  pleasure before me—”

  Sairy, coming back to the doorstep, stood a moment, then struck her
  hands together. “Allan’s coming up the road, Tom!”

  An hour of happiness had gone by. Then said Allan: “I’ve two hours yet
  and the last part of it I’m going to spend telling about the
  Wilderness and Spottsylvania and Cold Harbour. But now I want to go up
  the mountain and say ‘how d’ ye do’ to the Maydews.”

  “Yes, I reckon you’d better,” said Tom. “Only don’t stay too long.
  They’ve got Billy and Dave.”

  “Bring Christianna down the mountain with you,” said Sairy. “Billy and
  Dave can tell her good-bye here just as well as there.”

  Up on the mountain Mrs. Maydew made a like suggestion. “Allan, I’d
  like to talk to you, but I’ve got to talk to Billy an’ Dave. Violetta
  and Rosalinda they’re gettin’ somethin’ for those boys to eat, they
  look so thin an’ starved, an’ grandpap an’ the dawgs air jest sittin’
  gazin’ for pure gladness!—Christianna, you entertain Allan.”

  “I’ve got time,” said Allan, “to go look at the school-house. That’s
  what I’d like to do.”

  The school-house was partly fallen down and the marigolds and larkspur
  that Allan had planted were all one with the tall grass, and a storm
  had broken off a great bough of the walnut tree. Allan and Christianna
  sat on the doorstep, and listened to a singing that was not of Thunder
  Run.

  Allan took her hand. “Christianna, I was the stupidest teacher—”

  That night the Second Corps lay by the James, under the great shadow
  of the Blue Ridge, but at dawn it took the road for Staunton and
  thence for the lower Valley. It went to threaten Washington and to
  clutch with Sheridan, who was presently sent to the Valley with orders
  to lay it waste—orders which he obeyed to the letter.



                             CHAPTER XXXIV
                         THE ROAD TO WASHINGTON


  Steve had had no intention whatever of rejoining the army. And yet
  here he was, embodied again in the Sixty-fifth, and moving, ordinary
  time, on Staunton! How it had happened he could hardly have related.
  Weariness of life on Thunder Run, where of late he had begun to
  dislike even Christianna Maydew,—uncertainty as to whether the Yankees
  might not return and sweep it clean, in which case his skin might be
  endangered,—a kind of craving hunger for company and variety and small
  adventure, coupled with memories of much of the same,—a certain pale
  homesickness, after all, for the regiment,—a conviction that battles
  were some distance off, probably clear to the other end of the Valley,
  and that straggling before such an event was only a matter of watching
  your opportunity,—all this and a ragged underweb of emotionalism
  brought Steve again to follow the drum. It is doubtful, however, if
  anything would have done so had he not by purest accident encountered
  his sometime colonel.

  Cleave, riding along the forming brigade in the first light, reached
  the Sixty-fifth. The regiment cheered him. He lifted his hat and came
  on down the line, an aide behind him. Steve, on the rim of a camp-fire
  built by recruits of this year who knew not the Sixty-fifth of the
  past, tried to duck, but his general saw him. He spoke to the aide.
  “Tell that man to come here.”

  Steve limped forward with scared eyes, a cold dew upon hands and
  forehead. And after all, all that the general said was, “You are
  nettle and dock and burr by nature and anger has no meaning in dealing
  with you! Are you coming again with the Sixty-fifth?”

  “Gawd, General! not if you think I’d better not, sir,—”

  “I?” said Cleave, “I will speak to your colonel about you. For the
  rest you can fire a musket.” He smiled grimly. “Still that sore foot?
  Has it been sore all this time?”

  “General, it’s been sorer!—’n’ if you’d tell the men that they shan’t
  act some of them so cold ’n’ some of them so hot toward me?—’n’ I
  saved the life of them all only day before yesterday,” Steve
  whimpered, “’n’ yours, too, General.”

  “Thank you,” said Cleave with gravity. “Fall in, now—and remember that
  your Captain’s eye will be on you.”

  _Fall in!—Fall in!—Fall in! ... Column forward!_

  Down the Valley Pike marched the Second Corps.
  Lexington—Staunton—Harrisonburg—on and on upon the old, familiar road.
  “Howdy, Valley Pike,” said the Second Corps. “Howdy, Old Lady! Missed
  us, haven’t you? We’ve missed you. We’ve thought of you—thought of you
  in all kinds of tight places!—

                   “‘Should auld acquaintance be forgot
                   And days of auld lang syne—’”

  “Don’t seem to us you’re looking well—ragged and lonely and burned up
  and hewed down—cheer up!

                  “‘We’ll take a cup of kindness yet—’”

  Miles and miles and miles of old-time heat and dust and thirst!
  _Tramp, tramp!_—_Tramp, tramp!_ Miles and miles. “There never were
  enough springs and streams on this road and old Miss War’s done drunk
  those up!—O Lord, for a river of buttermilk!—”

  The dust weighted down pokeberry and stickweed, alder, blackberry and
  milkweed. The old trim walls bounding the Valley Pike were now mere
  ruinous heaps of stones. The thousands of marching feet, the wheels,
  the hoofs furred these with dust. There were no wooden fences now of
  any description; there were few wayside trees, few wayside buildings.
  There were holes where the fence posts had been, and there were stumps
  of trees and there were blackened foundations where houses had been,
  and all these were yellowed and softened with dust. A long, thick, and
  moving wall, the dust accompanied the Second Corps.

  The Second Corps was used to it, used to it in its eyes, its throat,
  down its neck, in its shoes, all over. The Second Corps was used to
  poor shoes and to half shoes—used to uniforms whose best day was
  somewhere in past ages—used to hunger—used to thirst, thirst,
  thirst—used to twenty miles, twenty miles in heat and glare, or in mud
  and rain, or in ice or snow—used to the dust cloud, used to the storm,
  used to marching and marching, used to battling, used to a desperate
  war in a desperate land, used to singing, used to joking, used to
  despairing, used to hoping—used to dusty marches! It was a long time
  since the dusty march by Ashby’s Gap across to First Manassas. New
  Market, Mount Jackson, Edenburg, Woodstock, Strasburg, Middletown,
  Kernstown—on the second of July they came to Winchester. Sigel was at
  Martinsburg beyond.

  Winchester was haggard, grey, and war-worn. How many times she had
  changed hands, passed from grey lover to blue master, it would be hard
  to tell. They were very many. Winchester had two faces, a proud and
  joyful and a depressed and sorrowful face. Today she wore the first.

  On through Winchester, out upon the Pike to Martinsburg! There was
  skirmishing and Sigel quit the place, leaving behind him a deal of
  stores. That night he retired across the Potomac, to Maryland Heights
  by Harper’s Ferry, and the next day he burned the railroad and pontoon
  bridges at that place. The fifth and sixth of July the Second Corps
  crossed the river at Shepherdstown, crossed with loud singing.

                   “Come! ’Tis the red dawn of the day,
                     Maryland!”

  Steve was with the Sixty-fifth still. He had meant to leave before
  they got to Martinsburg, but the occasion did not arise and the
  Sixty-fifth swept him on. He had meant to hide in Martinsburg and
  soberly wait until the Second Corps had disappeared in the direction
  of the Potomac, when he would emerge and turn his face homeward. But
  in Martinsburg were the stores that Sigel had abandoned. Coffee,
  sugar, canned goods, wheat bread—Steve supped with the regiment on the
  fat of the land. But it was his intention not to be present at
  roll-call next morning, and in pursuance of it he rolled, in the dark
  hour before dawn, out of the immediate encampment of the Sixty-fifth,
  down a little rocky lane and under the high-built porch of a small
  house of whitewashed stone. Here he lay until the first light.... It
  showed through the lattice of his hiding-place an overturned sutler’s
  wagon. Steve, creeping out, crept across and with his arms that were
  lean and long, felt in the straw. The wagon had been looted and the
  tears nearly came to his eyes on finding it so. And then he came upon
  a bottle fallen from a case that had been taken away. It was
  champagne.

  Reveille sounding, the Sixty-fifth rose in the dim light and while
  making its cursory toilette thought of breakfast with coffee—with
  coffee—with coffee! Mess-fires burst into saffron bloom, the good
  smell of the coffee and of the sizzling bacon permeated the air, the
  Sixty-fifth came most cheerfully to breakfast. It sat down on the dewy
  earth around the fires, pleasant at this hour of the morning, it
  lifted its tin cups, blew upon the scalding coffee, sipped and sipped
  and agreed that life was good. Everybody was cheerful; at roll-call
  which immediately followed, everybody was present, in a full, firm
  tone of voice. Steve Dagg, filled with French courage, was most
  present.

  French courage was still unevaporated when the column moved forward.
  Then, with a shock, it was too late—he couldn’t get away—they were
  crossing the Potomac—

                   “I hear the distant thunder-hum,
                     Maryland!
                   The Old Line bugle, fife, and drum,
                     Maryland!”

  “Gawd!” thought Steve. “They got me at last! I can’t get away—I can’t
  get back ’cross the river! Why’d I drink that stuff that was like
  cider ’n’ whistled me back jest as easy? Why’d I leave Thunder Run?
  They got me in a trap—”

  Maryland Heights was strongly fortified, too strongly for Breckinridge
  and Gordon, demonstrating against it, to drive out the blue forces.
  After a day Early swept on through the passes of South Mountain,
  toward Frederick, east and south of which town runs the Monocacy. On
  this stream there formed to meet the grey a portion of the blue Eighth
  Army Corps and Rickett’s division of the Sixteenth Corps, six thousand
  men under General Lew Wallace.

  There were earthworks and two blockhouses and they over-frowned the
  two bridges that crossed the Monocacy. Beyond these and on either side
  the blue lines, strongly seen in the clear, hot forenoon, were fields
  with board fences and straw stacks, much stout fencing and many and
  closely ranged straw stacks. Through these fields ran the clear road
  to Washington, blocked now at the river by Wallace and his men.

  Jubal Early sent McCausland across, who dismounted his cavalrymen and
  with them fell so furiously on the enemy’s left flank that it broke.
  It gathered again and pushed McCausland back, whereupon Early sent
  across by the same ford Breckinridge with Gordon’s division, Ramseur
  in the mean time skirmishing on the western bank with the blue’s
  advanced front. Gordon attacked with his usual gallantry, King’s and
  Nelson’s artillery supporting. The blue centre broke and rolled back
  from the banks of Monocacy. Ramseur and Rodes now crossed with a
  shout, and at a double all grey troops swept forward.

  Steve crossed Monocacy because he must, and climbed several fences
  because he saw that if he didn’t he would be trampled. But in the
  straw field he fell, groaning. “Hit?” asked the man beside him and was
  immediately gone, the regiment rushing forward.

  Steve drew himself well behind a great straw stack, splitting the
  advance like a spongy Gibraltar. Here he found a more or less
  like-minded private from one of the Georgia regiments. This one had
  quite deeply burrowed, and Steve, noting the completeness of his
  retirement, tore out for himself a like cavern in the straw. Outside
  was shouting and confusion and smoke; in here was space at least in
  which to have a vision of the clear security of Thunder Run Mountain.
  “You wounded, too?” proffered from behind a straw partition his fellow
  retirer.

  “Yaas,” answered Steve. “In the foot.”

  “I got hurt in the hip,” said the other. “It’s an old strain, and
  sometimes, when we’re double-quicking, I’m liable to give out. The
  boys all know about it and make allowance. They all know I fight like
  the devil up to that point.”

  “Same here,” said Steve. “I fight like a tiger, but now ’n’ then comes
  along a time when a man’s under a moral necessity not to. When your
  foot gives under you you can’t go on charging—not if Napoleon Cæsar
  himself was there shoutin’ about duty!”

  “Them’s my sentiments,” said the other. “We’re going to win this
  battle. I see it the way we looked going in. How do you feel about
  going on to Washington?”

  “I’ve had my doubts,” said Steve. “How do you feel?”

  “It’s powerful rich and full of things to eat and drink and wear. But
  there’d be awful fighting getting in.”

  “That’s the way I feel,” said Steve. “Awful fightin’ ’n’ I don’t—”

  An officer’s sword invaded their dwelling-place. “Get out of here!
  What are you doing hiding here? Tie you in this rick and set fire to
  it, you damned skulkers! Get out and march ahead!” The flat of the
  sword descended vigorously.

  Steve yelped and rubbed. “Gawd, Captain! don’t do that! I got a hurt
  foot—”

  Much later, having been carried on—the whole wagon train now
  crossing—in a commissary wagon travelling light, he rejoined his
  brigade and regiment. He found the Sixty-fifth in a mood of jubilation
  bivouacked in the dusk Maryland countryside, with a glow yet in the
  west and the fireflies tinselling all the fields. Steve came in for
  supper, and between slow gulps of “real” coffee related an adventure
  in the straw field, marvellous as the “Three Turks’ Heads.” His mess
  was one of “left-overs,” seven or eight of the stupid, the
  ne’er-do-weel or the slightly rascally sort, shaken together in the
  regiment’s keen sifting of human nature. Totally incredulous, save for
  a deficient one or two, the mess yet found a place for Steve, if it
  were only the place of a torn leaf from a rather sorry jest-book. The
  ne’er-do-weel and the slightly rascally, most of whom were courageous
  enough, began to describe for his benefit the _chevaux-de-frise_ of
  forts around Washington. They made Steve shiver. He went to bed
  frightened, and arose under the stars, still frightened.

  This day, the tenth of July, the Second Corps marched twenty miles.
  The day was one of the hottest of a hot summer. Not the lightest
  zephyr lifted a leaf or dried the sweat on a soldier’s brow. The dust
  of the Georgetown Pike rose thick and stifling until it made a broad
  and deep and thick and stifling cloud. There was little water to be
  had throughout the day. The Second Corps suffered profoundly. That
  night it lay in the fields by the roadside near Rockville. The night
  was smoking hot, and the men lay feverishly, moving their limbs and
  sighing, troubled with dreams. The bugles sounded under a copper dawn
  and they rose to an eleventh of July, hot, dust-clogged, and thirsty
  as had been the tenth.

  There were sunstrokes this day, exhaustion from heat, a trail of
  involuntary stragglers, men limping in the rear, men sitting, head on
  knees, beneath the powdered wayside growth, men lying motionless in
  the ditch beside the road. Horses fell and died. There were many
  delays. But through all heat, great weariness, and suffering, Early,
  shrill-voiced and determined, urged the troops on upon the road to
  Washington. The troops responded. Something less than eight thousand
  muskets moved in the great dust of the pike, forty guns, and ahead,
  the four small cavalry brigades of McCausland, Imboden, W.L. Jackson,
  and Bradley Johnson. “— —!” said Early. “If we can’t take it, at least
  we can give it a quaking fit!—increase the peace clamour! It’s worth
  while to see if we can get to the outer fortifications before they
  pour their — — numbers into them!”

  The Second Corps marched fast, now by the Silver Spring Road,
  Imboden’s cavalry ahead, Jackson’s on the flank, full before them Fort
  Stevens, very visible in the distance, Washington. The men moistened
  their lips, talked, for all the dust in their throats, the blood
  beating in their temples, and the roaring in their ears. “Take it!
  Could we take it?”—“By supernal luck—a chance in a million—if they
  were all asleep or dazed!”—“Take it and end the war—O God, if we
  could!”—“Run up the Stars and Bars—Play ‘Dixie’ everywhere—Live! at
  last live after four years of being born!”—“Take Washington—eight
  thousand of us and the cavalry and the twelve-pounder Napoleons—” From
  the front broke out a long crackling fire. “Cavalry in touch—cavalry
  in touch.” Rodes’s division, leading, came into line of battle. As it
  did so rose in the south between Fort Stevens and the city a great
  dust cloud. “— —!” said Early. “There isn’t a plan or a cannon numbers
  won’t spike!—_Skirmishers to the front!_”

  “Every prominent point,” says a Federal officer, speaking of the
  Washington fortifications,—“every prominent point, at intervals of
  eight hundred to one thousand yards, was occupied by an enclosed field
  fort; every important approach or depression of ground, unseen from
  the forts, was swept by a battery for field-guns; and the whole
  connected by rifle trenches which were in fact lines of infantry
  parapets, furnishing emplacement for two ranks of men, and affording
  covered communication along the line, while roads were opened wherever
  necessary, so that troops and artillery could be moved rapidly from
  one point of the immense periphery to another, or under cover, from
  point to point along the line. The counterscarps were surrounded by
  abatis; bomb-proofs were provided in nearly all the forts; all guns,
  not solely intended for distant fire, placed in embrasures and well
  traversed. All commanding points on which an enemy would be likely to
  concentrate artillery ... were subjected not only to the fire, direct
  and across, of many points along the line, but also from heavy rifled
  guns from points unattainable by the enemy’s field-guns.” There were
  twenty thousand blue troops, garrison and reserves, and in addition,
  at two o’clock of this day, began to arrive Ricketts’s and Emory’s
  divisions of the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps, sent by Grant.

  The eleventh and the twelfth there was heavy skirmishing. During these
  days the Second Corps saw that it could not take Washington. The heat
  continued; now through quivering air, now through great dust clouds
  they saw the dome of the capitol. It was near, near! The Second Corps
  was closer to Washington than ever in this war had been the North to
  Richmond; it was very near, but there is the possible and there is the
  impossible, and it was not possible for the Second Corps to make
  entry. On the night of the twelfth it withdrew from before Washington
  and marching to the Potomac crossed by White’s Ford into Loudoun
  County. Fifteen thousand blue troops pursued, but the grey crossed the
  river in safety. They crossed singing “Swanee River.” It was the last
  sally of the beleaguered South forth upon the beleaguerer’s ground.
  Henceforth, the battle thundered against the very inner keep of the
  fortress.

  Marching through great dust and heat and glare and weariness back
  through Maryland to the Potomac, the Second Corps gathered up from the
  roadside and the byways and the hedges its stragglers, involuntary or
  otherwise. A dozen hours from Washington it gathered out of a
  cornfield Steve Dagg.



                              CHAPTER XXXV
                               THE CRATER


  At Petersburg, on the Appomattox, twenty miles south of Richmond, June
  went by in thunder, day and night, of artillery duels, with, for
  undersong, a perpetual, pattering rain of sharpshooters’ bullets, torn
  across, at intervals, by a sharp and long sound of musketry. In the
  hot and sickly weather, under the hovering smoke, engineers of the
  Army of Northern Virginia, engineers of the Army of the Potomac worked
  like beavers. The grey line drawn by Beauregard early in the month was
  strengthened and pieced out. Over against it curved a great blue
  sickle of forts, with trenches and parapets between. Grey and blue
  alike had in the rear of their manned works a labyrinth and honeycomb
  of approaches, covered ways, pits, magazines, bomb-proofs, traverses.
  The blue had fearfully the advantage in artillery. Grey and blue, the
  lines, in part, were very close, so close that there would be little
  warning of assault. The Army of Northern Virginia, now, in numbers,
  not a great army, had to watch, day and night. It watched with an
  intensity which brought a further depth into men’s eyes, deep enough
  now in all conscience, deep enough in the summer of 1864!

  On the twenty-second, Grant attempted to extend his flank upon the
  left toward the Weldon Railroad. Lee sent A.P. Hill out against this
  movement. Hill, in his red battle shirt, strong fighter and prompt,
  swung through an opening left unaware between the two corps, the
  Second and Sixth, and, turning, struck the Second in the rear. After
  the fiercest fighting the blue, having lost four guns and several
  stands of colours, and seventeen hundred prisoners, drew back within
  their lines.

  Grant dispatched two divisions of cavalry with orders to tear up the
  Lynchburg and Danville Railroad. They spread ruin south to the
  Staunton River, but here W.H.F. Lee, who had followed, attacked them
  at Blacks and Whites. Retiring they found themselves between two
  fires. Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee, back from the fight at
  Trevillian’s Station, fell upon the two divisions at Sapony Church.
  Infantry of Mahone’s came up also and aided. After a running fight of
  a day and night, in which the blue lost, in killed and wounded and
  taken, fifteen hundred men, twelve guns, and a wagon train, they
  escaped over the Blackwater, burning the bridge between them and the
  grey, and so returned to Grant at Petersburg.

  On the first of July, General Alexander, Longstreet’s Chief of
  Artillery, wounded and furloughed home, was driven, before quitting
  the lines, to Violet Bank, where were Lee’s headquarters. About the
  place were small, much the worse for wear, Confederate tents. The
  commanding general himself had a room within the house. The wounded
  officer found him standing, with several of the staff, upon the porch
  steps. He had his field-glasses open, and he was listening to the
  report of a scout. When at last the man saluted and fell back,
  Alexander stated the conviction that was in him. He felt a certainty
  that the enemy was engaged in driving a mine under the point known as
  Elliott’s Salient.

  “Why do you think so, General?”

  “Their sharpshooters keep up a perpetual, converging fire, sir, upon
  just that hand’s-breadth of our line. On the other hand, they pay so
  little attention to the works to right and left that the men can show
  themselves with impunity. They are not clearing the ground for surface
  approaches—well, then, I think that they are working underground. If
  you were going from that side to explode a mine and assault
  immediately afterward, that would be the place you would choose, I
  think.”

  “That is true,” said Lee. “But you would have to make a long tunnel to
  get under that salient, General.”

  “About five hundred feet, sir.”

  Mr. Francis Lawley, of the London _Times_, was of the group upon the
  steps. “In the siege of Delhi, sir, we drove what was, I believe,
  considered the longest possible gallery. It was four hundred feet.
  Beyond that it was found impossible to ventilate.”

  “The enemy,” said Alexander, “have a number of Pennsylvania
  coal-miners, who may be trusted to find some means to ventilate. This
  war is doing a power of things that were not done at Delhi.”

  “I will act on your warning, General,” said Lee.

  The next day the grey began to drive two countermines. Later in the
  month they started two others. Pegram’s battery occupied the
  threatened salient, with Elliott’s troops in the rifle-pits. The grey
  miners drove as far and fast as they might, but they tunnelled outward
  from either flank of the salient, while the Pennsylvania coal-miners,
  twenty feet underground, dug straight toward the apex. The days
  passed—many days.

  On the eighteenth was received the news of the removal of Joseph E.
  Johnston from the command of the Army of Tennessee. Wade Hampton,
  being at headquarters, heard Lee’s expression of opinion and wrote it
  to General Johnston.... “He expressed great regret that you had been
  removed and said that he had done all in his power to prevent it. He
  had said to Mr. Seddon that if you could not command the army we had
  no one who could.” Later came the tidings of Hood’s lost battle of
  Atlanta and all its train of slow disaster. On the twenty-fifth, news
  of Jubal Early’s victory at Winchester the day before was cheered to
  the echo. In the last days of the month came news of Stoneman and
  McCook’s raiding in Georgia and of the scattered fighting in Arkansas.

  North and South, away from the camps, there was flagging of spirit and
  sickness of soul. In the North the war was costing close upon four
  millions of dollars a day. Gold in July went to two hundred and
  eighty-five. The North gained now its fresh soldiers by bounties, and
  those heavy. All the northern tier of states, great as they were,
  untouched by invasion, and the ocean theirs—all the North winced and
  staggered now under the burden of the war. But the South—the South was
  past wincing. Bent to her knees, bowed like a caryatid, she fought on
  in her fixed position.

  At Petersburg, Grant meant to explode a great mine and to follow it,
  in the confusion, by a great and determined assault. Moreover, in
  order to weaken the opposition here and the more to distract and
  appall, he detached Hancock with twenty thousand men for a feint
  against Richmond. Hancock marched to Deep Bottom, where Butler, having
  ironclads on the river and a considerable force encamped on the
  northern bank, guarded two pontoon bridges across the James. Between
  this place and Richmond was Conner’s grey brigade and at Drewry’s
  Bluff, Willcox’s division. Moving with Hancock was Sheridan and six
  thousand horse.

  Lee, watchful, sent Kershaw’s division to join with Willcox and Conner
  and guard Richmond. Hancock crossed on the twenty-seventh, and that
  morning Kershaw came into collision with Sheridan, losing prisoners
  and two colours. Lee further detached W.H. F. Lee’s cavalry and Heth’s
  infantry. The alarm bell rang rapid and loud in Richmond and all the
  home defences went out to the lines. But Hancock, checked at Deep
  Bottom, only flourished before Richmond; on the twenty-ninth, indeed,
  drew back in part to the Petersburg lines, in order to take part in
  the great and general assault. When the thirtieth dawned, with
  Willcox, Kershaw, Heth, and the cavalry away, Lee was holding lines,
  ten miles from tip to tip, with not more than twenty thousand men.

  It was a boding, still night, hot in the far-flung wild tangle of
  trenches, pits, and approaches, hot in the fields, hot in Poor Creek
  Valley where the blue were massing, hot amongst the guns of Elliott’s
  Salient. The stars were a little dimmed by dust in the air and the yet
  undissipated smoke from the artillery firing that had ceased at dusk.

  In the blue lines there was between generals a difference of opinion
  as to what division should lead in the now imminent assault. Burnside
  advised the use of Ferrero’s coloured division. Meade dissented, and
  the point was referred to Grant. He says: “General Burnside wanted to
  put his coloured division in front, and I believe if he had done so it
  would have been a success. Still I agreed with General Meade as to his
  objections to that plan. General Meade said that if we put the
  coloured troops in front (we had only one division) and it should
  prove a failure, it would then be said, and very properly, that we
  were shoving these people ahead to get killed because we did not care
  anything about them. But that could not be said if we put white troops
  in front.”

  This settled it, and Ledlie’s division was given the lead. It formed
  behind earthworks full in front of Elliott’s Salient, in its rear two
  supporting divisions; its objective Cemetery Hill, commanding the
  town; its orders, as soon as the mine should explode, to pass over and
  through the grey’s torn line, take the hill, and pass into Petersburg.
  It was midnight when Ledlie’s line was formed, the supporting
  divisions drawn up. The night was hot and exceedingly close; the men
  stood waiting, feverish, every sense alert. One o’clock—two
  o’clock—three o’clock. Ledlie moved forward, taking position
  immediately behind the breastworks. Again a wait, every eye upon
  where, in the darkness, should be Elliott’s Salient.

  On the grey side there was knowledge that a mine was digging, but
  ignorance of the day or night in which it would be fired. Lee slept,
  or waked, at Violet Bank; far and near in its trenches the Army of
  Northern Virginia lay, well-picketed, in a restless sleep. The nights
  were hot, and there was much misery and frequent night firing. All
  sleep now was restless, easily and often broken. There were South
  Carolina troops in and about Elliott’s Salient. Reveille would sound
  and the sun would rise shortly before five o’clock.

  The stars began to pale. Ledlie sent to General Burnside to ask the
  cause of delay. The men had been in ranks for four hours. Burnside
  answered that the fuse had been lit at a quarter-past three but
  evidently had not burned the sufficient distance. A lieutenant and a
  sergeant had volunteered to enter the tunnel, find out what was the
  matter and relight the fuse. Ledlie’s aide returned and reported, and
  the division stood tense, gazing with a strained intention. It was
  light enough now to see, beyond their own advanced works, the grey
  line they meant to send skyward. Beyond the line was Petersburg, that
  they meant to take; beyond Petersburg, a day’s march, was Richmond.

  The light strengthened, pallor in the north and south and west, in the
  east a cold, faint, upstreaming purple. Somewhere in the cavalry lines
  a bugle blew, remote, thin, of an elfin melancholy. As though it had
  been the signal, the mine exploded.

  The morning light was darkened. The earth heaved so that many of the
  blue staggered and fell. A mass sprang into the air, mounted a hundred
  feet and spread out into an umbrella-shaped cloud. As it began to
  descend, it was seen that earth and rock might come upon the blue
  themselves. The troops gave back with shouts.

  In that cloud of pulverized earth, smoke, and flame were mammoth clods
  of clay, one as large as a small cabin, timber of salient and
  breastworks, guns, carriages, caissons, sandbags, anything and
  everything that had been upon the mined ground, including some
  hundreds of human beings. The hole it left behind it was one hundred
  and seventy feet long, sixty wide, and thirty deep. Back into this now
  rained in part the lumps of earth, the logs of wood, the pieces of
  iron, the human clay. The trembling of the earth ceased, the sound of
  the detonation ceased. There came what seemed an instant of utter
  quiet, for after that rage of sound the cries of the yet living, the
  only partially buried in that pit, counted as nothing. The instant was
  shattered by the concerted voice of one hundred and fifty blue guns
  and mortars, prepared and stationed to add their great quota of death
  and terror. They brought into that morning of distraction one of the
  heaviest cannonades of all the war.

  Through the rocking air, in the first slant beams of the sun the blue
  troops heard the order to advance. They moved. Before them were their
  own breastworks over which they must swarm, thus sharply breaking
  line. Beyond these, one hundred and fifty yards away, were curious
  heaps of earth, something like dunes. The air above was yet dust and
  smoke. On went the Second Brigade, leading. It came, yet without just
  alignment, to the crest of the dunes, and from these it saw the
  crater.... There was no pausing, there could be none, for the First
  Brigade, immediately in the rear, was pressing on. The blue troops
  slid down the steep incline and came upon the floor of the crater,
  among the débris and the horribly caught and buried and smothered men.

  There followed a moment’s hesitation and gasp of astonishment; then
  the blue officers shouted the brigade forward. It overpassed the
  seamed floor and reached the steep other side of the excavation.
  Behind it it heard, or might have heard if anything could have been
  heard in the roar of one hundred and fifty guns, the First Brigade
  slipping and stumbling in its turn down the almost perpendicular slope
  into the crater. The Second Brigade climbed somehow the thirty feet up
  to the level of the world at large. On this side the hole it was a
  grey world.

  If the explosion had stunned the grey, they had now regained their
  senses. If the force of the appalling blue cannonade caused an
  end-of-the-world sensation, even in such a cataclysm there was room
  for action. The grey acted. Into the ruined trenches right and left of
  and behind the destroyed salient poured what was left of Elliott’s
  brigade. Regiments of Wise and Ramseur came at a run. Lee, now with
  Beauregard at the threatened front, sent orders to Mahone to bring up
  two brigades with all speed. A gun of Davidson’s battery in a salient
  to the right commanded at less than four hundred yards what had been
  Elliott’s Salient and was now the crater. Wright’s battery on the
  left, Haskell’s Coehorn mortars fringing a gorge line in the rear,
  likewise could send death into that hollow. Infantry and artillery,
  the grey opened with a steady, rapid fire. And all the time, behind
  the blue Second Brigade, now forming for a rush on the greyward edge
  of the crater, came massing into that deep and wide and long bear-pit
  more blue troops, and yet more. And now the Second Brigade, checked
  and disconcerted by the unexpected strength of the resistance,
  wavered, could not be formed, fell back into the crater that was
  already too filled with men.

  Here formation became impossible. An aide was sent in hot haste to
  General Ledlie, for his own fame somewhat too securely placed in the
  rear. Ledlie sent back word to Marshall and Bartlett, leading, that
  they must advance and assault at once; it was General Burnside’s
  order. The aide says: “This message was delivered. But the firing on
  the crater now was incessant, and it was as heavy a fire of canister
  as was ever poured continuously upon a single objective point. It was
  as utterly impracticable to re-form a brigade in that crater as it
  would be to marshal bees into line after upsetting the hive; and
  equally as impracticable to re-form outside of the crater, under the
  severe fire in front and rear, as it would be to hold a dress parade
  in front of a charging enemy.”

  So far from the pit being cleared, it received fresh accessions.
  Griffin’s brigade, coming up, tried to pass by the right, but
  entangled in a maze of grey earthworks, trenches, traverses, and
  disordered by the searching fire, it too fell aside and sank into the
  hollow made by the mine. “Every organization melted away, as soon as
  it entered this hole in the ground, into a mass of human beings
  clinging by toes and heels to the almost perpendicular sides. If a man
  was shot on the crest he fell and rolled to the bottom of the pit.”

  The blue Third Division, arriving, attacked the manned works to the
  left, took and for a little held them, then was driven back. Haskell’s
  grey battery of sixteen guns on the Jerusalem Plank Road came greatly
  into action. Lee and Beauregard were watching from the Gee house.
  Mahone, of A.P. Hill’s Corps, was coming up with three brigades,
  coming fast....

  The coloured division of the Ninth Army corps had a song,—

                    “We looks lak men er-marchin’ on,
                      We looks lak men ob war—”

  They had sung it sitting on the ground around camp-fires the night
  before when they had been told that they would lead the charge—the
  great charge that was going to take Blandford Church and Cemetery, and
  then Petersburg, and then Richmond, and was going to end the war and
  make all coloured people free, and give to every one a cabin, forty
  acres, and a mule, and the deathless friendship of the Northern
  people.

                    “We looks lak men er-marchin’ on,
                      We looks lak men ob war—”

  They had not led that grotesquely halted charge, but now they, too,
  were required for victims by the crater. Burnside sent an order, “The
  coloured division to advance at all hazards.”

  It advanced, got somehow past the crater and came to a bloody,
  hand-to-hand conflict with the grey. The fighting here was brutal, a
  maddening short war in which, black and white, the always animal
  struggle of war grew more animal yet. It was short. The coloured
  division broke and fell back into the crater.... All the grey
  batteries, all the grey infantry poured fire into this place where
  Burnside’s white and coloured troops were now inextricably mixed. At
  ten o’clock up came Mahone with three brigades and swept the place.

  By two o’clock the Confederate lines were restored and the battle of
  the crater ended. This day the blue had been hoist by their own
  petard. The next day Grant sent a flag of truce asking a cessation of
  hostilities until he could gather his wounded and bury the dead. Lee
  gave four hours.

  During this truce grey soldiers as well as blue pressed to the edge of
  the crater to observe and wonder. They were used to massacre and
  horror in great variety, but there was something faintly novel here.
  They came not ghoulishly, but good-naturedly—“just wanting to see what
  gunpowder could do!” They fraternized with the blue at work and the
  blue fraternized with them, for that was the way the grey and blue did
  between hostilities. They spoke the same language, they read the same
  Bible, they had behind them the same background of a far island home,
  and then of small sailing-ships at sea, and then of a new land, huge
  forests, Indians, wolves; at last towns and farms, roads, stages,
  packet-boats, and railway trains. They had to an extent the same
  tastes—to an extent like casts of countenance. The one used “I guess”
  and the other used “I reckon,” and they differed somewhat in
  temperament, but the innermost meaning was not far from being the
  same. At the worst an observer from a far country might have said,
  “They are half brothers.” So they fraternized during the truce, the
  grey this afternoon, the more triumphant, and the blue the more
  rueful.... “Hello, Yanks! You were going to send us to Heaven, weren’t
  you? and instead you got sent yourselves!”—“Never mind! better luck
  next time! You certainly made a fuss in the world for once!”—“How many
  pounds of gunpowder? ‘Eight thousand.’ Geewhilikins! That was a
  sizable charge!”—“If you’d been as flush of gunpowder as we are, you
  might have made it twenty, just as easy!”—“There’s a man buried over
  there—see, where the boot is sticking up!”—“Yes, you blew some of us
  into Heaven—twenty-two gunners, they say, and about three hundred of
  Elliott’s men—just enough to show your big crowd the way!”—“That
  junk-heap over there’s Pegram’s guns.”—“Such a mess! White men and
  black men and caissons and limbers.”—“I thought that body was moving;
  but no, it was something else.”—“Got any tobacco?”—“We’d like
  first-rate to trade for coffee.“—“There’s a man crying for water. Got
  your canteen?—mine isn’t any nearer than a spring a mile away. I’ll
  take it to him—know what thirst means—been thirsty myself and it means
  Hell!“—“Well, it was a fine mine, if it did go a bit wrong, and you
  deserve a lot of credit—though I don’t think some of your generals
  do!“—“Yes, that’s so! People stay what they always were, even through
  war. Lee stays Lee and Grant stays Grant, and Meade stays Meade, and
  A.P. Hill stays A.P. Hill. And some others stay what they always were,
  too,—more’s the pity!”—“Here, we’ll help cover this row.”—“Did you see
  little Billy Mahone charging? Pretty fine, wasn’t it?”—“Saw your
  Colonel Marshall and General Bartlett when they were taken prisoner.
  They seemed fine men. Yes, that’s so! We ain’t got a monopoly, and you
  ain’t got a monopoly.”

  The truce would last until full dark. Now, as the sun went down in a
  copper sky, most of the work was done. In great numbers the wounded
  had been lifted from the floor and sides of the crater; in great
  numbers the dead had been lowered into trenches, shallow trenches, the
  earth just covering the escaped from life. There were yet blue
  working-parties, a faint movement of blue and grey watchers, but the
  crater was lonely to what it had been. Only the wild débris remained,
  and the mounds beneath which life had gone out and been buried. There
  seemed a silence, too, heavy with the approaching night. A grey
  pioneer detail that had been engaged in repairing a work that flanked
  the vast excavation rested on spade and pick and gazed into the place.
  An infantry company of A.P. Hill’s, marching to some assigned post,
  was halted for five minutes and allowed to break ranks. Officers and
  men desired to look at the big hole in the ground.

  In groups or singly they peered over the edge or scrambled halfway
  down the loose earth of the sides. The sun’s rim had dipped; the west
  showed a forbidding hue, great level washes of a cold and sickly
  colour. Steadily this slope of the great earth wheeled under, leaving
  the quenchless hearth of the sun, facing the night without the house
  of light. It was all but dusk. One of the soldiers of this company was
  Maury Stafford. He stood alone, his back to a great projecting piece
  of timber and looked into the pit and across to the copper west.
  “Barring prison,” he thought, “for simple horror I have never seen a
  worse place than this.”



                             CHAPTER XXXVI
                               THE VALLEY


  Early’s task in the Valley throughout this summer and autumn was to
  preserve a threatening attitude toward blue territory on the other
  side of the Potomac, to hinder and harass Federal use of the
  Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and to
  render the Northern Capital so continuously anxious that it might at
  any time choose to weaken Grant in order to add to its own defences.
  In addition he had presently Sheridan to contend with, Sheridan
  strengthened by Hunter, returned now from the Kanawha Valley to the
  main battle-grounds.

  Sheridan’s task in the Valley was to give body to the Northern
  reasoning as to the uses, at this stage of the game, of that section.
  With war rapidly concentrating as it now was, the Northern Government
  saw the Valley no more as a battle-ground, nor as of especial use to
  the blue colour on the chessboard. But it was of use to the grey,
  especially that rich portion of it called the Shenandoah Valley.
  Moreover it was grey; scourge it well and you scourged a grey
  province. Make it untenable, a desert, and the loss would be felt
  where it was meant to be felt. Sheridan, with Hunter to aid,
  devastated as thoroughly as if his name had been Attila. McCausland
  made a cavalry raid into Pennsylvania and, in reprisal for Hunter’s
  burnings, burned the town of Chambersburg. It did not stop the
  burnings across the river; they went on through the length and breadth
  of the Valley of Virginia. Over the mountains, in Northern Virginia,
  in the rolling counties of Fauquier and Loudoun, was “Mosby’s
  Confederacy,” where the most daring of all grey partisan leaders
  “operated in the enemy’s lines.” Mosby did what lay in man to do to
  help the lower Valley. He “worried and harassed” Sheridan by day and
  by night. But the burning and lifting went on. When late autumn came,
  with winter before it, a great region lay bare, and over it wandered a
  vision of drawn faces of women and a cry of small children.

  Sheridan in person did not come until the first week in August. Late
  in July Early fought the Army of West Virginia, Crook and Averell, at
  Winchester—fought and won. Here the Golden Brigade did good service,
  and here the “Fighting Sixty-fifth” won mention again, and here Steve
  Dagg definitely determined to renounce the Confederate service.

  Life had taken on for Steve an aspect of ’62 in the Valley—only worse.
  In a dreadful dream he seemed to be recovering old tints, repeating
  old experiences from Front Royal to Winchester—but all darkened and
  hardened. In ’62 the country was still rich, and you could forage, but
  now there was no foraging. There was nothing to forage for. Then the
  old Army of the Valley had been ill-clad and curiously confident and
  cheerful, with Mr. Commissary Banks double-quicking down the pike,
  before Old Jack! Now the Second Corps was worse-clad, and far, far
  from the ancient careless cheer. It still laughed and joked and sang,
  but less often, and always, when it did laugh, it was with a certain
  grimness as of Despair not far off. On night and day marches, you
  heard song and jest, indeed, but you heard heavy sighs as well—a heavy
  sighing in the night-time or the daytime, as the army moved on the
  Valley Pike. Now confident good cheer in others was extraordinarily
  necessary to Steve. When it flagged, it was as though a raft had sunk
  from beneath him. Yes, it was ’62 over again, but a homesick, strange,
  far worse ’62! Daily life grew to be for him a series of shocks, more
  or less violent, but all violent. Life went in magic-lantern
  slides—alternate blackness and frightful, vivid pictures in which
  blood red predominated. Steve developed a morbid horror of blood.

  August came. At Moorefield occurred a cavalry fight, Averell against
  McCausland and Bradley Johnson, the grey suffering defeat. On the
  seventh came Sheridan with the Sixth and the Nineteenth Army Corps and
  Torbert’s great force of cavalry. The blue forces in the Valley now
  numbered perhaps forty-five thousand, with some thousands more in
  garrison at Martinsburg and Harper’s Ferry. Lee sent in this month
  Kershaw’s division and Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry, but in a few weeks,
  indeed, Kershaw must be recalled to Petersburg, where they needed
  every man—every man and more! In the Valley August and the first third
  of September went by in marchings and counter-marchings, infantry
  skirmishing and cavalry raids. The third week of the latter month
  found the grey gathered behind the Opequon.

  Mid-September and the woods by the Opequon turning red and gold. “Ah,”
  said the Sixty-fifth, “we camped here after Sharpsburg, before we went
  over the mountains and fought at Fredericksburg! But it isn’t as it
  was—it isn’t as it was—”

  Gordon and Breckenridge and Ramseur and Rodes, with Fitz Lee’s cavalry
  sent up from Tidewater, all camped for a time beside the Opequon. The
  stream ran with an inner voice, an autumn colouring was on the land.
  “But it isn’t bright,” said the men, “it isn’t bright like it was that
  fall!”—“Isn’t time yet for it to be bright. Bright in October.”—“Yes,
  of course—but that fall it was bright all the time! The seasons are
  changing anyhow.”—“What’s that the Bible student’s saying? ‘_The lean
  kine and the lean ears of corn_—’” Opequon flowed on, brown and clear,
  but much of the woodland by Opequon had been hewed away, and the
  bordering lands were not now under cultivation. All were bare and
  sorrowful. There were no cattle, no stock of any kind. The leaves
  turned red and the leaves turned yellow and the wind murmured through
  the hacked and hewed forest, and the nights were growing chill. “Do
  you remember,” said the men, “the day that Heros von Borcke brought
  Old Jack the new uniform from Jeb Stuart?”—“Do you remember the
  revival here?”

             “We’re tenting to-night on the old camp-ground.
             Give us a song to cheer—”

  The seventeenth and eighteenth all divisions moved nearer to
  Winchester. The nineteenth the battle of Winchester had its moment in
  time,—a battle very fortunate for the Confederates early in the day,
  not at all so fortunate later in the day,—a fierce, dramatic battle,
  in which the blue cavalry played the lion’s part,—blue cavalry very
  different, under Sheridan in ’64, from the untrained and weakly
  handled blue cavalry of the earlier years,—a battle in which Rodes was
  killed and Fitzhugh Lee wounded, in which killed and wounded and
  missing the blue lost upward of five thousand, and in killed and
  wounded and captured the grey lost as many—a bitter battle!

  Steve had to fight—he could not get out of it. He was out on the
  Berryville road—Abraham’s Creek at his back. The Sixty-fifth was about
  him; it was steady and bold, and he got some warmth about his heart
  out of the fact. In the hopeful first half of the day, with a ruined
  stone wall for breastwork, with Nelson’s and Braxton’s guns making a
  shaken grey rag of the atmosphere, with Ramseur standing fast, with
  Gordon and Rodes sweeping to Ramseur’s aid, with Breckenridge, the
  “Kentucky Gamecock,” fighting as magnificently as he looked, with
  Lomax and Fitz Lee, with the storm and shouting, and the red field and
  blue and starry cross advanced, with about him the strength of the
  Golden Brigade and the untroubled look of the Sixty-fifth, Steve even
  fought as he had never fought before. He tore cartridges, loaded and
  fired, and he grinned when the wind blew the smoke, and the opposite
  force was seen to give way. When the Golden Brigade went forward in a
  charge, he went with it a good part of the way. But then he stumbled
  over a stone and fell with an oath as of pain. The Golden Brigade and
  the Sixty-fifth went on and left him there near a convenient cairn of
  stones with a reddened vine across it. His action had been largely
  automatic; he had no longer in such matters the agony of choosing; as
  soon as fear entered his heart his joints acted. Now they drew him
  more securely behind the heap of stones. Far ahead, he heard, through
  the thunder of the guns, the voice of the Golden Brigade, the voice of
  the Sixty-fifth Virginia charging the foe. He looked down, and to his
  horror he saw that he was really wounded.

  This was high noon, and at high noon the grey thought with justice
  that they had the field, had it, despite the fall of Rodes, a general
  beloved. Now set in a level two hours of hard fighting to hold that
  field.... And then wheeled on the afternoon, and the tide definitely
  turned. Crook’s corps, not until now engaged, struck the left on the
  Martinsburg Pike, and the blue cavalry, disciplined now and strong,
  came in a whirlwind upon the rear of this wing, pushing it and a
  cavalry brigade of Fitz Lee’s back—back—back through Winchester—back
  on the centre and right, now furiously attacked by all three arms. The
  tide raced to its ebb with the grey.... Gordon found his wife in the
  street in Winchester, pleading with Gordon’s men to go back and strike
  them anyhow. Her tears were streaming. “The first time I ever saw
  Confederate lines broken, and I hope it will be the last!”

  They were broken. It was not wild panic nor rout, but it was a lost
  battle, known as such at last by even the most stubbornly determined
  or recklessly brave. By twilight the Second Corps was in retreat,
  moving in order up the Valley Pike, sullen and sorrowful, torn and
  decimated and weary, heartsick with the dead and wounded and captured
  left behind. Kernstown! They looked at the old field with unseeing
  eyes.

  Steve, behind his cairn of stones, had viewed with agony a blue
  cavalry charge coming. It passed him in dust and thunder, the hoof of
  a great chestnut actually striking his shoulder. It passed, but the
  dust had not settled before infantry of Rodes, pressed this way,
  overran his fraction of the field, behind them another wild cavalry
  dash. It was sickening to see the horses ride men down, ride them down
  and strike them under! It was sickening to see the sabres flash,
  descend all bright and rise so red! It was sickening to hear cries,
  oaths, adjuration, and under all a moaning, moaning! And the smoke, so
  thick and stifling, and a horror even of taste and smell ... Steve,
  with a flesh wound across his thigh where a bullet had glanced, got up
  and ran, dropping blood.

  As he went he found about him the wildest confusion. Units and groups
  of cavalry, infantry, and artillery were shaken together as in a
  glass. Here infantry preponderated, here mad horses, larger than
  nature, appeared to rear in the smoke, and here panting men tried to
  drag away the guns. Here were the wounded, here were shouting and
  crying, here were officers, impassioned, rallying, appealing,
  coercing, and here were the half-sobbing answers of their men. “Lost,
  lost!” said in effect the answers of the men. “Lost, lost! You, the
  leaders, know it, and we know it. You would lead us to noble death,
  but we must keep to life if we can. We have fought very well, and now
  we are tired, and there is something to be said for knowing when you
  are beaten and trying another tack.”—“Lost, lost!” said the shot and
  shell. “Lost, lost!” said the wind whistling from the sabres of
  Merritt’s charging cavalry. “Lost, lost!” said the autumn night.
  “Lost, lost!” said the dust on the Valley Pike.

  Steve tried to get taken on in an ambulance, but the surgeon in charge
  first laid practised fingers around his wrist, and then told him to go
  to hell—in short to walk to hell—and leave ambulances for hurt folks.
  “Gawd!” thought Steve, “’n’ I saved this army on the road to
  Buford’s!”

  Night came on, night without and night within. The outer night was a
  night of stars. Myriads and myriads, they showed, star clouds in the
  Milky Way, and scattered stars in the darker spaces. The air was very
  clear, and the starshine showed the road—the long, palely gleaming,
  old, old, familiar road. Within, the night was dark, dark! and peopled
  with broken hopes. _Tramp, tramp!_ on the Valley Pike. _Tramp, tramp!_
  with sore and tired feet, with hot and tired hearts. _Tramp, tramp!_
  and all the commands were broken, officers seeking for their men and
  men for their officers, a part of one regiment marching with a part of
  another, all the moulds cracked. _Tramp, tramp! Tramp, tramp!_ and
  fathers were weeping silently for sons, and sons for their fathers,
  and brothers for brothers, and many for their country. _Tramp, tramp!_
  and there came a vision of the burning Valley, and of Atlanta burning,
  burning, for not one house, said the dispatches, had Sherman left
  standing, and a vision of the trenches at Petersburg, and a vision of
  Richmond, Richmond perhaps crashing down in ruin to-night, wall and
  pillar, and the flames going up. _Tramp, tramp!_ and a flame of wrath
  came into the marching hearts, welcome because it warmed, welcome
  because anger and hate gave at least a strength, like a pale reflex of
  the strength of love, welcome because before it fled the shadows of
  weakness, and in it despair grew heroic. Now the men, exhausted as
  they were, would have turned, and gone back and struck Sheridan.
  _Tramp, tramp! Tramp, tramp!_ and there came a firmness into the
  sound. Throughout the night, now it came and now it went, and now it
  came again.

  The night went by, though it was long in going. Dawn came, though it
  was slow in coming. When it was light we saw Massanutten, and the
  north fork of Shenandoah, and Fisher’s Hill. “This is a good place to
  stand,” said Early, and began to build breastworks. In the afternoon
  up came Sheridan, something over twice as many-numbered as the grey,
  and all flushed with victory, and took his stand on Cedar Creek,
  several miles from Fisher’s Hill. All day the twenty-first and part of
  the twenty-second he reconnoitred, and in the night-time of the
  twenty-first he placed Crook and the Army of West Virginia in the deep
  forest between Little North Mountain and the Confederate left. They
  stayed there hidden until nearly sundown of the twenty-second. Then he
  brought them out in a flank attack, so sudden and so swift!... And at
  the same moment all his legions struck against the centre.

  Steve heard the cry, “Flanked!—We are flanked!” He witnessed the
  rush of arms, and then he waited not to see defeat—which came. He
  fled at once. Halfway to Woodstock he stopped at a Dunkard’s house,
  where an old, long-bearded man gave him a piece of bread and asked
  no questions, but sat looking at him with dreamy, disapproving eyes.
  “Yes, the soldier could sleep here, although to be a soldier was to
  be a great sinner.” Steve did not care for that. He slept very well
  for an hour on the floor of a small bare room above the porch. At
  the end of that time he was awakened by a sound upon the pike. He
  sat up, then went on all fours across to the window and put out his
  head. “Gawd! they’re comin’ up the pike—retreatin’!” He felt a wild
  indignation. “The Second Corps ain’t any more what it used to be!
  Retreatin’ every whipstitch like it’s been doin’.” _Tramp, tramp!
  Tramp, tramp!_ He heard them through the dark, clear night, growing
  loud now upon the limestone pike. “Well, I ain’t a-goin’ along! I’m
  tireder than any dawg!—’n’ hurt besides.” He lay down beneath the
  window and shut his eyes. But he could not keep the sound out, nor a
  picture of the column from winding through his brain. “They ain’t
  got any shoes, ’n’ they’re gettin’ so ragged, ’n’ hunger-pinched.
  They’re gettin’ hunger-pinched. They’ve fought ’n’ fought till
  they’re most at a standstill. They’ve fought mighty hard. Ain’t
  anybody ever fought any harder. But now they’re tired—awful tired.
  No shoes, ’n’ ragged, ’n’ hunger-pinched—Coffin, ’n’ Allan, ’n’
  Billy, ’n’ Dave, ’n’ Jim Watts, ’n’ Bob White, ’n’ Reynolds, ’n’ all
  of them. Even Zip the coon’s hunger-pinched. They’ve all got large
  eyes, ’n’ they’ve fought most to a standstill, ’n’ the flags are
  gettin’ heavy to carry....” _Tramp, tramp! Tramp, tramp!_ He dozed
  and heard the gun-wheels in a half dream, crossing a bridge with a
  hollow sound. Wheels and wheels and a hollow sound. Memory played
  him a trick. He was lying in a miry, weedy ditch under a small
  bridge on the road between Middletown and Winchester. The guns were
  passing over his head, _rumble, rumble, rumble!_ And then a plank
  broke and a gun-wheel came down and tried to knock him into Kingdom
  Come.... He woke fully with a violent start and the sweat cold upon
  his body.... The column was directly passing,—he heard voices,
  marching feet, officers’ orders, wheels, hoofs, marching feet,
  voices,—all distant, continuous sound broken, become a loud,
  immediate, choppy sea. “Go on!” whispered Steve. “Go on! I ain’t
  a-goin’ with you.”

  The column went on, marching by the little dark and silent house, on
  up the pike, beneath the stars, toward Woodstock, and some pause
  perhaps beyond. It moved so near that Steve heard at times what the
  soldiers said. He gathered that Fisher’s Hill was a word of gloom and
  would remain so. On it went, on it went, until from van to rear ten
  thousand men had passed. And then, as the sound of the sea was
  lessening, a knot of officers drew up almost beneath the window. They
  spoke in slow, tired, dragging voices. “Orders are no halt until we’ve
  passed Woodstock.—Six miles yet. Where then? I do not know.—Fight
  again? Yes, of course—fight to the bitter end! I don’t suppose it’s
  far off.—Here’s Berkeley. Well, what’s the news, Captain?”

  “Sheridan’s after us, sir.... Listen!”

  They listened. “Yes.... Coming up the pike.... I should say he has
  thirty thousand infantry and as many horse as we have of all three
  arms. Well! let the curtain ring down. We’ve made good drama.”

  When they were gone, Steve rose and leaned cautiously out of the
  window. Yes, he could hear the Yankees, he could hear them coming.
  They were far off, but they were coming, coming.—A light burst forth
  in the night, in the north, then another and another. “They’re firin’
  barns and houses as they pass.”—Below him rose a final clatter of
  horses’ hoofs, voices, curt orders, oaths—the grey rear guard drawing
  off, following the main body. Steve ran downstairs and out into the
  road. He stopped a horseman. “For Gawd’s sake, comrade, take me on
  behind you! I marched with the boys till I just dropped, ’n’ I said,
  ‘Go on, ’n’ maybe a horse or a wagon’ll be good to me.’—I got a sore
  hurt in the leg—”

  “All right,” said the horseman. “Get up!” and they went on up the pike
  with the sky red behind them, and night before. “It’s most the end, I
  reckon.”

  Woodstock—and a halt below at Narrow Passage—then on a windy, dusty
  day to New Market, while Sheridan paused and finally went into camp at
  Mount Jackson—then aside from the Valley Pike, eastward by the Port
  Republic road—then into the great shady amphitheatre of Brown’s
  Gap—and here quiet at last, quiet and rest. Again it was an old, old
  camping-ground. The Second Corps stared, sombre-eyed, with faces that
  worked. “Old Jube is all right—but, O God, for Stonewall Jackson!”

  Weeks went by. The woods changed, indeed. The leaves brightened and
  brightened, and now they began to fall in every wind. To and fro,
  forth from the gaps of the Blue Ridge and back to their shelter, moved
  the Army of the Valley, to and fro—to and fro. In these days came
  Kershaw, sent by Lee—twenty-seven hundred infantry and Cutshaw’s
  battery. The Second Corps welcomed South Carolina. “You’re the fiery
  boys! ‘Come, give us a song to cheer!’—Never have forgotten how you
  taught us to cook rice!—in the first century, along about First
  Manassas. Never have forgotten, but the commissary’s out of rice.”

  In these days Sheridan, keeping his main force between New Market and
  Woodstock, began with that great force of Torbert’s cavalry to harry
  the Valley as it had not yet been harried. He wrecked the Central
  Railroad and burned bridges and sent the Confederate stores at
  Staunton up in flames. That was all right; that was understood—but
  Sheridan stopped there as little as would Attila have done. Before
  winter came, he swept the Valley bare as Famine’s hand; he made it so
  bare that he said himself, “A crow, flying over the Valley of
  Virginia, would have had to take his rations with him.”

  A little past the middle of October Early determined to attack. With
  Kershaw and with Rosser’s small reinforcement of cavalry, he could
  bring into the field a force little more than a third the size of the
  blue army now lined up behind Cedar Creek. But forage and supplies
  were gone; it was risk all or lose all. “‘Beggars must not be
  choosers,’” said Early, and the Second Corps went back to the Valley
  Pike and marched toward Fisher’s Hill. It marched through a country
  where all was burned,—houses, mills, barns, wheat and straw and hay,
  wagons and farm implements, smithies, country stores and
  hostelries,—all, all charred and desolate. It saw women and children,
  crouching for warmth against blackened chimney-stacks.

  It marched hungry itself and now with tattered clothing—all the small
  divisions, the small brigades, the small regiments—all the defenders
  of the Valley, taking now so little room on the Valley Pike. It
  marched with a fringe of stragglers, with a body of the sick and
  straggling bringing up the rear. Nowadays men straggled who had never
  done that before; nowadays men deserted who were not deserters by
  nature. And mostly these deserted because a cry, insistent and wild,
  reached them from home. “Starving! We are starving and homeless. I,
  your mother, am crying for bread!—I, your wife, am crying for
  bread!—We, your children, are crying for bread! We are sick—we are
  dying—we will never see you again—”



                             CHAPTER XXXVII
                              CEDAR CREEK


  On the eighteenth of October, the grey being again drawn up at
  Fisher’s Hill, Gordon, with General Clement Evans and Jed Hotchkiss
  and Major Hunter of Gordon’s staff, climbed Massanutten, overhanging
  the Confederate right. Up here, on the craggy mountain brow, high in
  the blue air, resting a moment amid red scrub oak and yellow hickory,
  they looked forth. They saw the wonderful country, the coloured forest
  falling, slope after slope, from their feet, the clear-flowing
  Shenandoah, Cedar Creek winding between hills, and on these hills they
  saw with their field-glasses Sheridan’s army. “Not only,” says Gordon,
  “did we see the general outlines of Sheridan’s breastworks, but every
  parapet where his heavy guns were mounted, and every piece of
  artillery, every wagon and tent and supporting line of troops.... I
  could count, and did count, the number of his guns. I could see
  distinctly the three colours of trimmings on the jackets respectively
  of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, and locate each, while the number
  of flags gave a basis for estimating approximately the forces with
  which we were to contend in the proposed attack.”

  Down went Gordon and reported to Early. “We _can_ turn his flank, sir.
  We can come with one spring upon his left and rear. Demonstrate right
  and centre where he is formed to repel us, but strike him on the left
  where he isn’t! He thinks he’s got there for shield an impassable
  mountain and a river.”

  Early swore. “Well, isn’t the mountain impassable? It looks it. It’s
  precipitous.”

  “No. There’s a very narrow path. Start at nightfall and we can cross
  the corps, single-file, by dawn.”

  Early swore again, but in the end approved. “——! It’s a desperate
  game, but then we’re desperate gamesters! ——! All right, General! Get
  your men ready.”

[Illustration: THE SCOUT]

  The red-gold day drew to a close. Through all the Second Corps there
  ran an undefined tremor, a beat of hope, a feeling as of, perhaps,—God
  knew!—better things at last! Supperless men looked almost fed. With
  the shining-out of the evening star the Second Corps began to move
  across the face of Massanutten. The way was narrow. Above sprang the
  mountain heights, below rolled the Shenandoah. Soldier followed in
  soldier’s footsteps, very silently, sure-footed, under orders not to
  speak. Ragged and grey and silent, their gun-barrels faintly gleaming,
  they went along, high on the side of Massanutten, a long, thin, moving
  thread, moving all night in the autumn wind. Steve was of it, of it
  because he could not help himself. He had tried—he certainly had tried
  hard, as he told himself with water in his eyes—but Dave Maydew had
  adopted him, and wouldn’t let him out of his sight. Now he was moving
  between Dave and Jim Watts—and he wasn’t let to speak—and he heard
  Shenandoah brawling, brawling down below—and the world was lonesomer
  than lonesome! There were to-night a number of shooting stars. There
  was something awful in the height of the sky and in the appearance and
  disappearance of these swift lights. Steve felt an imaginative horror.
  The end of the world began to trouble him, and a query as to when it
  was going to happen. “Maybe it’s goin’ to happen sooner ’n we think!”

  Ahead, where there was a buttress of cliff, very evident from where
  the Sixty-fifth moved in a concave filled with shadow, occurred a gash
  across the footpath which made it dangerous. This side of the shoulder
  was well hidden from any blue picket across the water. A torch had
  been lighted and was now held close to the earth, so that eyes might
  read and feet might safely cross the gash in the way. The red, smoky,
  upstreaming light just showed each passing soldier. The Golden Brigade
  moved forward, regiment by regiment. The Sixty-fifth yet halted in the
  hollow of the mountain, recognized Cleave as he stood a moment bathed
  in the red light. There was a sound of satisfaction. “We’re all right.
  We’re going to win some more.”

  Over the face of Massanutten went the Second Corps—over in silence and
  safety—over and on to the woods beside Shenandoah. Here the divisions
  were halted, here they lay down on the fallen leaves and waited. They
  heard the river, they heard the voices of the blue vedettes upon the
  farther side. They waited—all the ragged grey troops—lying on the
  leaves, in the cold hour before the dawn. They were very hungry, very
  tired. Some of them slept; others lay and thought and thought, or
  looked at pictures in the dark. Steve still watched the shooting
  stars, still thought of the Judgment Day. He was conscious of a kind
  of exaltation. “I’m gettin’ to be a fighter with the best of them!”

  The lines of grey rose from the moss and leaves. A cold and pallid
  light was in the forest. Ahead broke out shouting, and then a rapid
  carbine firing. Payne and his cavalry were on the bank of Shenandoah,
  midstream in Shenandoah,—on the farther bank,—in touch, like lightning
  before the storm, with the blue vedettes and mounted supports! _Fall
  in! Fall in!—Forward!_

  How cold was the water of Shenandoah! North Carolina and Georgia
  troops and Terry’s brigade, that held within it most of the fragments
  of the old Stonewall Brigade, were the first to enter. Behind came all
  the others, the mass of the Second Corps. Cold was the October
  water,—cold, deep, and rushing fast to the sea. Over it, holding high
  every musket, went the Second Corps, and made no tarrying, formed in
  the thickening light in the woods where the blue outposts had been,
  formed and went forward at a run, led by the din of the cavalry ahead.
  Not only the cavalry, for now they heard Kershaw thundering upon the
  front. Everywhere noise arose and tore the solemn dawn. The woods
  opened, there came a sense of cleared spaces, and then a vision of a
  few breastworks,—not many, for Sheridan had not thought his army could
  be turned,—of serried tents, of a headquarters flag, of a great park
  of bubbly, white-topped wagons, of the rear, in short, of the Army of
  the Shenandoah. It showed a scene of vast and sudden confusion and
  noise; it buzzed like an overturned hive. “_Yaaihhh! Yaaiihhh!
  Yaaaaiiiihhh!_” rang the yell of the Second Corps.

  It struck so fierce and it struck so fell, while in front Kershaw and
  Rosser aided so ably—the bees all left the hive and, save those who
  were struck to the ground and they were many, and those who were
  captured and they were many, streamed to the northward in a strange
  panic. They dashed from the tents where they had been sleeping; with
  the sleep yet in their eyes they poured across the fields. They left
  the wide camp, left arms, knapsacks, clothing, and their huge
  supplies. They “possessed not even a company organization,” but
  crying, as the grey had cried, hereabouts, a month before, “Flanked!
  We are flanked!” the Eighth and Nineteenth Corps, taken with madness,
  hurried northward by the pike and by the fields. It was a rout that
  for a time savoured of the old, old First Manassas rout. The blue, as
  the grey, were brave enough,—no one by now in this war doubted blue
  courage or grey courage,—but to be flanked at dawn was to be flanked
  at dawn, and brave men or not brave men, and however often in this war
  you had outgazed her, smiled her from the field, Panic Fear was yet a
  giantess of might! Now or then, here or there, in a blue moon, she had
  her innings.

  The Sixth Corps on the right stood fast. Gordon proposed to mass the
  grey artillery against it, then to attack with infantry. “At this
  moment,” he says, “General Early came upon the field and said, ‘Well,
  Gordon, this is glory enough for one day! This is the nineteenth.
  Precisely one month ago to-day we were going in the opposite
  direction.‘ ... I pointed to the Sixth Corps and explained the
  movements I had ordered, which I felt sure would compass the capture
  of that corps—certainly its destruction. When I had finished, he said,
  ‘No use in that. They will all go directly.’ ‘That is the Sixth Corps,
  General. It will not go unless we drive it from the field.’ ’Yes, it
  will go, too, directly.’”

  Down went Gordon’s heart, down, down! “And so,” he says, “it came to
  pass that the fatal halting, the hesitation, the spasmodic firing and
  the isolated movements in the face of the sullen, slow, and orderly
  retreat of the superb Federal corps, lost us the great opportunity.”

  Jubal Early thinks otherwise and says so. He says that the position of
  the Sixth Corps was very strong and not to be attacked on the left
  because the approach was over open, boggy ground, swept by the blue
  artillery. He did attack on the right, but just as Ramseur and Pegram
  were advancing to occupy an evacuated position, the enemy’s great
  force of cavalry began to press heavily on the right, and Pegram was
  sent to the north of Middletown to take position across the pike and
  oppose this force. Kershaw and Gordon’s commands were broken and took
  time to re-form. Lomax had not arrived. Rosser, on the left, had all
  he could do barely to hold in check the cloud of threatening cavalry.
  The enemy had taken up a new position north of Middletown. Early now,
  the morning advancing, ordered Gordon, he says, “to take position on
  Kershaw’s left and advance with the purpose of driving the enemy from
  his new position—Kershaw and Ramseur being ordered to advance at the
  same time.” He continues: “As the enemy’s cavalry on our left was very
  strong, and had the benefit of an open country to the rear of that
  flank, a repulse at this time would have been disastrous, and I
  therefore directed General Gordon, if he found the enemy’s line too
  strong to attack with success, not to make the assault. The advance
  was made for some distance, when Gordon’s skirmishers came back
  reporting a line of battle in front behind breastworks, and General
  Gordon did not make the attack. It was now apparent that it would not
  do to press my troops farther. They had been up all night and were
  much jaded. In passing over rough ground to attack the enemy in the
  early morning their own ranks had been much disordered, and the men
  scattered, and it required time to re-form them. Their ranks,
  moreover, were much thinned by the absence of men engaged in
  plundering the enemy’s camps.... The delay ... had enabled the enemy
  to rally a portion of his routed troops, and his immense force of
  cavalry, which remained intact, was threatening both of our flanks in
  an open country, which of itself rendered an advance extremely
  hazardous. I determined, therefore, to try and hold what had been
  gained.”

  Now Gordon was a generous, chivalrous, bold, and devoted soldier. And
  Jubal Early was a bold and devoted man and a general of no mean
  ability. Which was right and which was wrong, or how largely both were
  right, will, perhaps, be never known. But hard upon Early’s slur upon
  the conduct of the troops, his repeated statement that they were too
  busy plundering to go forward, there comes an indignant cry of denial.
  Says Clement Evans, “My command was not straggling and plundering.”
  And General Battle, “I never saw troops behave better than ours did at
  Cedar Creek.” And General Wharton, “It is true that there were parties
  passing over the field and perhaps pillaging, but most of these were
  citizens, teamsters, and persons attached to the quartermaster’s and
  other departments, and perhaps a few soldiers who had taken the
  wounded to the rear. No, General; the disaster was not due to the
  soldiers leaving their commands and pillaging.” And another officer,
  “The men went through a camp just as it was deserted, with hats,
  boots, blankets, tents, and such things as tempt our soldiers
  scattered over it, and after diligent enquiry I heard of but one man
  who even stopped to pick up a thing. He got a hat and has charges
  preferred against him.” And one of the grey chaplains, who says that
  he was a freelance that day, and all over the field from rear to
  front, “It is true that many men straggled and plundered; but they
  were men who in large numbers had been wounded in the summer’s
  campaign, who had come up to the army for medical examination, and who
  came like a division down the pike behind Wharton, and soon scattered
  over the field and camps and helped themselves. They were soldiers
  more or less disabled and not on duty. This body I myself saw as they
  came on the battle-field and scattered. They were not men with guns.
  But there can be no doubt that General Early mistook them for men who
  had fallen out of ranks.” And Gordon, “Many of the dead commanders
  left on record their testimony; and it is true, I think, that every
  living Confederate officer who commanded at Cedar Creek a corps, or
  division, or brigade, or regiment, or company would testify that his
  men fought with unabated ardour, and did not abandon their places in
  line to plunder the captured camps.”

  So the Army of the Valley that is about to go down to defeat need not
  go there with any imputation of misconduct. Let us say instead that it
  continued to do well.

  And now it stands there waiting for orders to advance, for orders to
  go into battle, to engage the Sixth Corps, and now the day is growing
  old, and now Crook and Wright, far down the Valley Pike, begin to
  check the fleeing masses of the Eighth and Nineteenth, to bring them
  into something more than company organization, and to force them to
  listen to talk of going back and retrieving ... and now news comes to
  Sheridan himself who had slept the night of the eighteenth in
  Winchester.

  As he mounted his horse there came a confused rumour of disaster; as,
  a hard rider, he thundered out of Winchester with twenty miles to
  make, the wind brought him faintly the din of distant battle. He bent
  to the horse’s neck and used the spur. About nine o’clock, south of
  Winchester, “the head of the fugitives appeared in sight, trains and
  men coming to the rear with appalling rapidity.” His followers did
  what they could to stop the torrent; he galloped on.

  The day wore away, the grey under arms, but inactive, waiting—waiting.
  Upon the top of Massanutten, in a wine-hued world above the smoke and
  clamour, was a grey signal station, and it signalled the Army of the
  Valley below. It signalled first, “The enemy has halted and is
  re-forming.” It signalled second, “They are coming back by the pike
  and neighbouring roads.” It signalled third, “The enemy’s cavalry has
  checked General Rosser, and assumed the offensive.” It signalled
  fourth, “The enemy, in heavy column, is coming up the pike.”

  The rallied Eighth and Nineteenth Corps, Sheridan at their head, came
  back and joined the steadfast Sixth. Together they gave battle to the
  grey who had waited for this strange hour. In it the tables were
  turned. Command after command, the grey were broken. There was a gap
  in the line, left who knew how? Through it like a river in freshet
  roared the blue.

  It beat upon Steve’s brain like waves of hell, that battle. The
  Sixty-fifth had held him like a vise; not for one moment had he
  escaped. In the midst of plenty he was not let to plunder; in the face
  of danger he was not somehow able to fall out, to straggle, or to
  malinger. All his talents seemed to desert him. Perhaps Dave Maydew
  had him really under observation, or perhaps he only fancied that that
  was the case. He was afraid of Dave. Through the forenoon, indeed,
  hope sustained him. The Yankees had run away, and though the Golden
  Brigade with others shifted its place, moving from left to right, and
  though, beside the first great onset, it came sharply several times
  into touch with the foe, it, too, under division orders, must end in
  waiting, waiting. Steve was convinced that the Yankees were too
  frightened to come back, and that presently there would be broken
  ranks and permission to the men to help themselves in moderation. The
  hope kept him cheerful, despite the grumbling of the Sixty-fifth. “Why
  don’t we go forward? What are we waiting here for? We’re losing
  time.—and losing it to _them_. Why don’t we—What are they signalling
  up there on the mountain?”—And then burst the storm and hope went out.

  The lantern slides shifted rapidly—now black, now fearful, vivid
  pictures. For what seemed an eternity Steve did tear cartridges, load
  and fire with desperation. A black ring came round his mouth; the
  sweat poured down, his chest heaved beneath his ragged shirt.
  _Fire!—Fire!—Fire!—Fire!_ And all to right and left was the
  Sixty-fifth, fighting grimly, and beyond, the balance of the Golden
  Brigade, fighting grimly. He saw Dave Maydew sink to his knees, and
  then forward upon his hands, and at last roll over and lie dead with a
  quiet face. He saw Sergeant Billy Maydew, passing down the line, pause
  just a moment when he saw Dave. “I reckon I’ll be coming, too,
  directly, Dave,” said Billy, then went on with his duty. He saw Allan,
  tall and strong and fair, set in a great smoke wreath firing steadily.
  _Fire!—Fire!—Fire!—Fire!_ There rose a question of ammunition. Jim
  Watts was one of those who went for cartridges and brought them while
  the air was a shriek of shells. Steve saw the cartridge-bearers
  askance, coming, earnest-faced, through the cloud—then the cloud grew
  red-bosomed, and he saw them no more. He heard a voice, “_Fix
  bayonets!_” and he saw Cleave, dismounted, leading the charge. He went
  with the Sixty-fifth; he could not help it; he had in effect run
  amuck. He felt the uneven ground beneath his feet like a rhythm, and
  the shrieking of the minies became, for the first and only time in his
  life, a siren’s song. Then through the smoke came a loom of forms; he
  saw the blue cavalry bearing down, many and fast. _Halt!—Left Face!
  Fire!_—but on they came, for all the emptied saddles. A thousand
  cymbals clashed in the air, a thousand forms, gigantic in the reek,
  towered before the vision; there came a chaos of voices, appalled or
  triumphant, a frightful heat, a pressure, a roaring in the brain.
  Steve saw Richard Cleave where he fell, desperately wounded, he saw
  the Golden Brigade, he saw the Sixty-fifth Virginia broken and dashed
  to pieces. With the cry of a Thunder Run creature in a trap, he caught
  at the reins of the horse that reared above him, red-nostrilled, with
  eyes of fire. Its rider, a tall and powerful man with yellow
  mustaches, bending sideways, cut at him with a sabre. Steve, a gash
  across each arm, dropped the bridle. The horse’s hoof struck him on
  the forehead, and the world went down in a black and roaring sea.

  When he came to himself it was dark. The smoke hung heavy and there
  was the taste and scent of the battle-field. At first there seemed no
  noise, then he heard the groaning and the sighing. The greater noise,
  the thunder and shouting, had, however, rolled away. He raised himself
  on his elbow, and then he sat up and rested his head on his knees. He
  was deadly sick and shivering. As little by little his wits came back,
  he began to draw conclusions. There had been a battle—now he
  remembered—and the army was beaten.... He listened now in reality and
  he heard, far up the pike and across the fields, in the darkness, the
  sound of retreat and pursuit. It made a wall of sound, stretching east
  and west, rolling southward, going farther and farther away, dwindling
  at last into a hollow murmur, leaving behind it the bitter, pungent
  night, and the sounds as near at hand as crickets in the grass.
  _Water—water—water—water ... O God!—O God!—O God!_

  Steve rose uncertainly. His tongue, too, was swollen with thirst. He
  saw lights wavering over the field, and here and there a flare where
  camp followers had built themselves a fire. There reached his ears a
  burst of harsh laughter, then from some quarter where there was
  pillaging a drunken quarrel. The regularly moving lights were, he
  knew, gatherers of the wounded. A shrill crying from a hollow where
  was a red glare proclaimed a field hospital. But the gatherers of
  the wounded were clothed in blue. They would touch no grey wounded
  until their own were served, and then, if events allowed them to
  minister, they would prove but lifters and forwarders to Northern
  prisons. Steve, swaying as he stood, stared at the bobbing lights.
  He was dead from hunger, tortured with thirst, and his head ached
  and ached from the blow of the horse’s hoof. A thought came to him.
  If he told the bobbing lights that he loved the North and would
  fight for it in a blue coat, then, maybe, things would happen like a
  full canteen and a handful of hard-tack and a long and safe sleep
  beside one of those camp-fires. He started toward the lights.
  _Water!—Water!—Water!—Water!_ cried the plain. _Ahhhh! Aaahhh!
  Water!_

  Somewhere out of starveling and poor soil there pushed upward in the
  soul of Steve, came into a murky and muddy light, and there flowered,
  though after a tarnished and niggard sort, a something that first
  stayed his steps, then turned them away from the bobbing lights. It
  was not a strong growth, but the flower of it rubbed his eyes so that
  he saw Thunder Run rather than Northern plenty, and the haggard,
  fleeing grey army rather than a turned coat. He did not feel virtuous
  as he had done when he saved the army from the “avalanche,” he only
  felt homesick and wretched and horribly suffering. When at a few paces
  he came to a deep gully and slipped and slid down its side to the
  bottom, where he was safe from the lights and from the thrust of some
  plunderer of the dead,—or the wounded whom they often, as safest, made
  the dead,—he found here beside him his old companion, Fear. Before
  this, on the day of Cedar Creek, from dawn to dusk, he had hardly once
  been afraid. Now he was—he was horribly afraid. There was long grass
  at the bottom of the gully, and he hoped for a runlet of some sort. He
  dragged himself along, hands and breast, until he felt mud, and then
  more and more moisture, until at last there came a puddle out of which
  he drank and drank as though he would never stop. It was too dark to
  see how bloody it was, and not even after moving his arm a little to
  the left and encountering the body of a soldier, did he cease to
  drink. His own arms were yet bleeding from the sabre cut and he was so
  dizzy that even here, with the lanterns all left behind, there were
  lights in the night like will-o’-the-wisps.

  But the water, such as it was, put some spirit into him. Hands and
  knees, he crept down the floor of the gully until it deepened and
  widened into a ravine. Finally it led him to the creek side. Here,
  half in, half out of the water, was something that he put his foot
  upon for a log, but discovered to be the body of a man. Having
  reasoned that in this locality it would not improbably be the body of
  a blue vedette, Steve took it by the legs and drew it quite out upon
  the miry bank. He was correct, and there was a haversack, and in it
  bread and slices of meat. Steve, squatting in the mire, ate it all,
  then drank of the creek. He was dead for sleep; there had been none
  the night before, clambering along the face of Massanutten, and not
  too much the night before that; dead for sleep, and more tired than
  any dog.... He stood up, gazing haggardly into the night beyond the
  creek, then shook his head, and dropped upon the soft earth beside the
  dead vedette. It seemed to him that he had hardly closed his eyes when
  he heard a bugle and then the sound of trotting horse. “Cavalry comin’
  this way—Damn them to hell!” He staggered to his feet and down into
  the stream, crossed it somehow, and went up the farther bank, and on
  through forest and field, over stock and stone. He went away from the
  pike. “For I never want to see it again. It’s ha’nted.”

  He went westward toward the mountains, and he walked all night over
  stock and stone and briar. Day broke, wan and sickly. It showed him a
  rough country, rising steeply to the wilder mountains, rough and so
  sparsely inhabited that he did not see a house. He went on, swaying
  now in his gait, and presently by the rising sun he saw a sloping
  field, ragged and stony and covered with a poor stand of corn, and at
  the top a fairish log cabin set against a pine wood. A curl of smoke
  was coming from the chimney.

  Steve stumbled up the hillside and through a garden path to a crazy
  porch overhung by a gourd vine. Here a lean mountain woman met him.
  “Better be keerful!” she said. “The dawg’s awful fierce! Here, dawg!”

  The dog came, bristling. Steve retreated a few steps. “I ain’t nothin’
  but a poor Confederate soldier!—’n’ I’m jest about dead for hunger ’n’
  tiredness. There’s been an awful big battle ’n’ I got my wounds. If
  you’d jest let me rest a bit here, ma’am, ’n’, for God’s sake, give me
  somethin’ to eat—”

  “Well,” said the woman, “you kin rest, an’ then you kin pay by helpin’
  me stack the corn. My husband was killed over in Hampshire,
  bushwhackin’, an’ the dawg an’ I an’ a gun air livin’ together.”

  Steve slept all day in the lean-to, beneath a quilt of bright
  patchwork. He had cornbread and a chicken for supper, and then he
  wrapped himself luxuriously in the quilt again and slept all night.
  The next day he helped the mountain woman stack the corn.

  “You live so out of the way,” he said, “I don’t reckon Sheridan’ll
  never come burnin’ ’n’ slayin’ up here! You got chickens ’n’ a cow ’n’
  the fat of the land.”

  “It air a peaceful mountain,” agreed the woman. “I ain’t never seen a
  Yankee an’ I don’t know as I want to. Thar’s a feud on between the
  folks in the Cove an’ the folks on Deer Mountain, but my husband was a
  Hampshire man, an’ I’m out of it. Don’t nobody give me any trouble an’
  I get along. Yaas, the cow’s a good milker an’ I got a pig an’ plenty
  of chickens.”

  “Don’t you get lonesome, livin’ this way by yourself—’n’ you a
  fine-lookin’ woman, too?”

  “Am I fine-lookin’?” said the mountain woman. “I never knew that
  before.”

  They stacked the corn all day, and at dark Steve had another chicken
  and more cornbread and an egg for supper.

  “Tell me about your folks,” said the woman, “an’ how life’s done you,
  an’ about soldiering.”

  They sat on either side of the hearth, for the night was cold, and
  while the hickory log blazed, and the mountain woman used snuff, Steve
  indulged in a rhodomontade that did him credit.

  “But I ain’t sure I’ll go soldierin’ any more,” he closed. “Savin’ the
  army ’n’ all’s enough. I got a honourable discharge.”

  The mountain woman dipped a bit of hazel twig again into the small
  round tin box of snuff. She was not much older than Steve, and, in a
  gaunt way, not bad-looking. “An’ you ain’t married?”

  “Naw. I ain’t never found any one to suit me—at least, till recently I
  thought I hadn’t.”

  In the lean-to, when he had rolled himself in the rising-sun quilt, he
  lay and looked out of the open door at the stars below the hilltop.
  “The army’s beaten,” he thought, “’n’ the war’s ended, or most ended.
  Anyhow it’s fightin’ now without any chance of anything but dyin’.” He
  sat up and rested his chin on his knees. “I ain’t ready to die....
  Sheridan’s drivin’ the Second Corps, ’n’ the Sixty-fifth’s all cut to
  pieces ’n’ melted away, ’n’ Grant’s batterin’ down Petersburg ’n’
  gettin’ ready to fall on Richmond. We’re beaten, ’n’ I know it, ’n’ I
  ain’t a-goin’ back; ’n’ I ain’t a-goin’ back to Thunder Run
  neither—not yet awhile! An’ she’s strong ’n’ a good worker, ’n’ she’s
  got property, ’n’ I’ve seen a plenty worse-lookin’. Lucinda Heard was
  worse-lookin’.”

  The next day they gathered apples, for the mountain woman said she
  would make apple butter. It was beautiful weather, mild and bright.
  Steve lay on the porch beneath the gourd vine and watched his hostess
  hang the kettle over the outdoor fire and bring water in a bucket from
  the spring and fill it. While the fire was burning she came and sat
  down on the porch edge. “When air you goin’ away?”

  Steve grinned propitiatively. “Gawd knows I don’t want to go away at
  all! I like it here fust-rate.—You ain’t never told me your name?”

  “My name’s Cyrilla.”

  “That’s an awful pretty name,” said Steve. “It’s prettier ’n
  Christianna, ’n’ Lucinda, ’n’ a lot others I’ve heard.”

  After supper they sat again on either side of the hearth, with a
  blazing hickory log between, and the mountain woman dipped snuff and
  Steve nursed his ankle.

  “It’s this-a-way,” he remarked after a silence in which the crickets
  chirped. “I’ve kind of thought it out. War kills men off right along.
  When they’re brave they get killed all the quicker, or they just get
  off by the skin of their teeth like I done. No matter how strong, ’n’
  brave, ’n’ enterprising ’n’ volunterin’ they are, they get killed, ’n’
  killed. Killed off jest the same’s the bees sting the best fruit. ’N’
  then what becomes of the country? It ain’t populated ’less ’n the rest
  of us—them that got off by the skin of their teeth like I did, ’n’
  them that ain’t never gone in like some bomb-proofs I know—’less ’n
  the rest of us acts our part! That’s what war does. It ’liminates the
  kind that pushes to the front ’n’ plants flags. ’N’ then—as Living
  don’t intend to drop off—what’s the rest of us that’s left got to be?
  We got to be what I heard a preacher call ’seed-corn ’n’ ancestors.’
  We got to marry ’n’ people the earth. We ain’t killed.” Steve ceased
  to nurse his ankle, straightened his lean red body, and widening his
  lips until his lean red jaws wrinkled, turned to his hostess.
  “_Cyrilla._—That’s a mighty pretty name.... Why shouldn’t you ’n’ me
  marry? You got a house ’n’ I got a house, over in Blue Ridge on
  Thunder Run Mountain, ’n’ I got a little real money, too! When the
  war’s over we can go get it.—What d’ ye say?”

  Cyrilla screwed on the top of the snuff-box. “I been right lonesome,”
  she admitted. “But ef I marry you, you got to promise not to go
  bushwhackin’! You got to stay safe at home, ’n’ you got to do what I
  tell you. I ain’t goin’ to have two husbands killed fightin’ Yankees.”



                            CHAPTER XXXVIII
                         THE ARMY OF TENNESSEE


  On August the thirty-first Hood fought and lost the battle of
  Jonesboro. On September the first he evacuated Atlanta, besieged now
  for forty days, bombarded and wrecked and ruined. On the second, with
  hurrahing, with music of bands and waving of flags, Sherman occupied
  the forlorn and shattered place.

  Forty thousand men, Hood and the Army of Tennessee lingered a full
  month in this region of Georgia, first around Lovejoy’s Station, then
  at Palmetto. On the first of October they crossed the Chattahoochee.
  Four days later was fought the engagement of Allatoona. On northward
  went Hood over the old route that had been travelled—though in an
  opposite direction—in the spring and the early summer-time. Toward the
  middle of the month he was at Resaca, and a day or two after he
  captured a small garrison at Dalton. Behind him came, fast and
  furious, a blue host. He made a forced march west to Gadsden on the
  Coosa. He was now in Alabama and presently he marched past Decatur to
  Florence on the Tennessee. Sherman sent by rail Schofield and two army
  corps to Nashville, where was already George Thomas and his corps. The
  blue commanding general had now sixty thousand men in Tennessee, and
  sixty thousand in Georgia. To oppose these last there was left
  Wheeler’s cavalry and Cobb’s Georgia State troops. On the last day of
  October Hood crossed into Tennessee. Before him and his army lay now
  the thirtieth of November and the fifteenth and sixteenth of
  December—lay the most disastrous battles of Franklin and Nashville.

  About the middle of September Sherman evicted the inhabitants of
  Atlanta. “I take the ground,” he states upon the occasion, with the
  frankness that was an engaging trait in his character, “I take the
  ground that Atlanta is a conquered place, and I propose to use it
  purely for our own military purposes, which are inconsistent with its
  inhabitation by the families of a brave people. I am shipping them
  all, and by next Wednesday the town will be a real military town, with
  no women boring me every order I give.”

  In mid-November, quitting the place, he burned it before he went.
  “Behind us,” he remarks, “lay Atlanta, smouldering and in ruins, the
  black smoke rising high in air and hanging like a pall over the ruined
  city.... The men are marching steadily and rapidly with a cheery look
  and a swinging pace.”

  Of his March to the Sea upon which he was now entered, he says, “Had
  General Grant overwhelmed and scattered Lee’s Army and occupied
  Richmond he would have come to Atlanta; but as I happened to occupy
  Atlanta first, and had driven Hood off to a divergent line of
  operations far to the west, it was good strategy to leave him to a
  subordinate force and with my main army join Grant at Richmond. The
  most practicable route to Richmond was nearly a thousand miles in
  distance, too long for a single march; hence the necessity to reach
  the seacoast for a new base. Savannah, distant three hundred miles,
  was the nearest point, and this distance we accomplished from November
  12th to December 21st.” And he telegraphs to Grant that he will send
  back all his wounded and worthless and, with his effective army, “move
  through Georgia, smashing things to the sea.” He kept his word. They
  were thoroughly smashed.

  The men, marching “with a cheery look and a steady pace” listened to a
  General Order directing them to “forage liberally on the country,” and
  “generally to so damage the country as to make it untenable to the
  enemy.” They obeyed and made it untenable to all, including women and
  children, the sick and the old. They heard that their commander meant
  “to make Georgia howl,” and they did what they could to further his
  wish. He states indeed—in a letter to his wife—that “this universal
  burning and wanton destruction of private property is not justified in
  war,” and “I know all the principal officers detest the infamous
  practice as much as I do,” but the practice went on—and he was
  commander. He left behind him, from north to south of a great State a
  swathe of misery, horror, and destruction fifty miles wide. There were
  good and gallant men in his legions, good and gallant men by the
  thousand, but “Sherman’s bummers” went unchecked, and so far as is
  known, unrebuked. The swathe was undeniably there, and the insult and
  the agony and the horror. Georgia was “made to howl.” “War is Hell,”
  said Sherman, and is qualified to know whereof he speaks.

  In the mean time Hood had crossed the Tennessee in chilly, snowy
  weather and was moving northward. The snow did not hold. The weather
  cleared and there came a season as of an autumnal afterglow. The sun
  shone bright though all the trees were bare. Forrest, recalled in this
  month from Mississippi, rode ahead of the army, then came the corps of
  Stephen D. Lee,—Hood’s old corps,—of A.P. Stewart, and of Cheatham.
  The last was Hardee’s old corps. Hardee himself, irreconcilably
  opposed to Hood and asking for transferral, had been sent to take
  command of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
  Something more than forty thousand men, cavalry, infantry, and
  artillery, the Army of Tennessee pursued the late November road. It
  was a haggard and depleted army, but it could and did fight very
  grimly.

  Lawrenceburg—Mt. Pleasant—Columbia—and then the Duck River to cross.
  The night of the twenty-eighth the engineers laid the pontoon bridge.
  At dawn of the twenty-ninth the Army began to cross—slow work as
  always and masses of men waiting their turn around fires on the river
  bank. “Fire feels good! Autumn dies cold like everything else. Wish I
  had a cup of coffee.”—“Last time I had a cup of coffee—”—“O go to h—!
  We’ve heard that story before! Somebody tell a good story. J.H. you
  tell a story! Tell about the mule and the darkey and the bag of
  sugar—”

  Down to the water and over the pontoon bridge in the wintry dawn went
  the companies and the regiments. The fires on the bank blazed high,
  the soldiers talked. “A year ago was Missionary Ridge.”—“Missionary
  Ridge!”—“Missionary Ridge!“—“Missionary Ridge was the place good
  missionaries never go to!”—“We ran hard in hell, but we fought hard in
  hell, too. Fought hard—fought hard—” “Up on Lookout, and Cleburne
  holding the hollow ground—D’ye remember how the moon was sick that
  night?”—“A year ago! It was awful long when you were little from
  Christmas to Christmas—but the length of a year nowadays is something
  awful!”—“That’s so! It’s always long when so much happens. I’ve seen
  men grow old from Missionary Ridge to Atlanta. I’ve seen men grow old
  from Atlanta to—what’s the biggish place across the river?
  Franklin?—Franklin, Tennessee.“

  The light grew stronger—a winter light, cold and steel-like upon the
  flowing river and the moving stream of men. _Fall in! Fall in!_ cried
  the sergeants, and the men about the fires left the red warmth, and
  stood in ranks waiting to move down to the water. ”— —! These
  crossings of rivers! — —! Seeing that men have always warred and I
  reckon are always going to war, I don’t see why Nature and God—if
  Nature’s got a god—didn’t make the earth a smooth round battlefield
  where enemies could clinch just as easy and keep clinched till one or
  the other went over the edge of all things, and went down, down, past
  whatever stars were on that side! What’s the use of scooping rivers
  and heaping mountains in the way? Just a nice, smooth, black, eternal
  plain—with maybe one wide river to carry the blood away—“

  The soldiers, breaking step, crossed and crossed by the pontoon
  bridge. “The Duck River!—Quack! quack!—Franklin’s on the Harpeth.”
  “Benjamin Franklin or Franklin Pierce?”—“Benjamin was a peaceful kind
  of fellow for a revolutionary—didn’t believe in war! Neither did
  Jefferson. Not on general principles. Thought it barbarous. Fought on
  necessity, but believed in making necessity occur more rarely.
  Perfectly feasible thing! Necessity’s much more malleable than we
  think. When we don’t want it war won’t be necessary.”—“Want it! Do you
  reckon any one wants it?”—“Lord, yes! until they’ve got it.—Of course
  there’s some that likes it even after they’ve got it—but they’re
  getting scarce.”—“I don’t know. Sometimes it’s necessary, and
  sometimes it’s good fun.”—“Yes. A hard necessity and a savage pastime.
  _‘Patriotism’?_ There’s a bigger phrase—‘Mother Earth and Fellow
  Men.’”—_Column forward!_

  On through the leafless country marched the somewhat tattered,
  somewhat shoeless Army of Tennessee. Tramp of feet and roll of wheels,
  tramp of feet and roll of wheels.... “Listen! Firing ahead! That’s
  Forrest!” The marching Army took up the praise of Forrest. “Forrest!
  Forrest’s like Stonewall Jackson—always in front making personal
  observations.”—“Forrest! If I was a company in trouble I’d rather see
  Forrest coming on King Phillip than King Arthur or the Angel
  Gabriel!”—“Forrest! Did you ever see Forrest rally his men? Draws a
  pistol and shoots a retreating colour-bearer—takes the colours and
  says ‘Come on!’”—“Forrest’s had twenty-five horses killed under
  him.”—“Did you ever hear him address his men? He’s an orator born. It
  gets to be music. It gets grammatical—it gets to be great sonorous
  poetry.”—“Yes, it does. I’ve heard him. And then an hour after I’ve
  heard him tell an officer ‘Yes, that mought do’ and ‘It’s got to be
  fit.’—And I’ve heard him say he never saw a pen but he thought of a
  snake.”—“Forrest? You fellows talking about Forrest? Did you hear what
  Forrest said about tactics? Said he’d ‘give more for fifteen minutes
  of bulge than for a week of tactics.’”—“Don’t care! He’s right good at
  tactics himself. Murfreesboro and Streight’s Raid and other places and
  times without number! ‘Whenever you see anything blue,’ he says,
  ‘shoot at it, and do all you can to keep up the scare!’ Somebody told
  me he said about Okalona, ‘Saw Grierson make a bad move, and then I
  rode right over him.’ Tactics! Says it’s his habit ‘to git thar first
  with the most men.’ That’s tactics!—and strategics—and bulge—and the
  art of War!“—” Old Jack himself didn’t know more about flanking than
  Forrest does.”—“Did you hear what the old lady said to him at Cowan’s
  Station?”—“No. What did she say?”—“Well, he and his men were kind of
  sauntering at a gallop through the place with a few million Yankees at
  their heels. The old lady didn’t like men in grey to do that-a-way, so
  out she runs into the middle of the street, and spreads her skirts,
  and stops dead short, unless he was going to run over her, a big grey
  horse and a six-feet-two cavalryman with eyes like a hawk, and a black
  beard and grey head.—‘Why don’t you turn and fight?’—she hollers,
  never noticing the stars on his collar. ‘Turn and fight, you great,
  cowardly lump! turn and fight! If General Forrest could see you, he’d
  take out his sword and cut your head off!’”

  The firing ahead continued—the Tennessee men said that it was near
  Spring Hill—and Spring Hill was twelve miles from Franklin. “Going to
  be a battle?”—“Yes, think so. Understand Thomas is at Franklin behind
  breastworks.”—“All right! ‘Rock of Chickamauga‘ is one of the
  best—even if he is a Virginian!”—”Thomas isn’t there himself—he’s at
  Nashville. It’s Schofield.”—“All right! We’ll meet Schofield.”—“Column
  halted again!—Firing getting louder—Franklin getting nearer—the wind
  rising—Smoke over the hill-tops—”—“Who’s this going by?—Give him a
  cheer!—Patrick Romayne Cleburne!”—_Column forward!_—“Did you notice
  that old graveyard back there at Mt. Pleasant—a beautiful, quiet
  place? Well, General Cleburne rode up and looked over the wall, and he
  said, says he, ‘If I die in this country, I should like to be buried
  here.’”—_Column forward!_

  Spring Hill—Spring Hill at three o’clock, and Schofield’s troops
  scattered through this region, concentrating hurriedly, with intent to
  give battle if needs be, but with a preference for moving north along
  the pike to Thomas at Franklin. What they wished was granted them.
  Here and there through the afternoon musketry rolled, but there was no
  determined attack. Hood says Cheatham was at fault, and Cheatham says
  General Hood dreamed the details and the orders he describes. However
  that may be, no check was given to Schofield that day, and in the dark
  night-time, he and his trains and troops went by the sleeping
  Confederate host and escaped, all but unmolested, to Franklin—and
  henceforth the Tennessee campaign was lost, lost!

  Dawn and marching on Franklin—red dawn and the great beech trees of
  the region spreading their leafless arms across the way—sunrise and a
  cold, bright day—_Column forward!_—_Column forward!_—Hood “the
  fighter” at the head, tall and blue-eyed and tawny-bearded—S.D. Lee
  and Stewart and Cheatham—the division commanders, Patrick Cleburne and
  “Alleghany” Johnson and Carter Stevenson and Clayton and French and
  Loring and Walthall and Bate and Brown, and the artillerymen and the
  rumbling guns, and, _tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp!_ the infantry of the
  Army of Tennessee. Eighteen hundred of these men were to die at
  Franklin. Four thousand were to be wounded. Two thousand were going to
  prison. A division commander was to die. Four brigade commanders were
  to die, others to be wounded or taken. Fifty-three commanders of
  regiments were to be among the killed, wounded, and captured. The
  execution was to take place in three or four hours of a November
  afternoon and a moonless night. _Tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp!_ under
  the leafless beeches on the Franklin Pike. _Close up, men—close up!
  Column forward!_ “What is that place in the distance with the hills
  behind it?—That’s Franklin on the Harpeth.”

  The battle opened at four o’clock, and the sun set before five. There
  was an open, quite unobstructed plain running full to an abatis and
  long earthworks, and behind these were the divisions of Cox and Ruger
  and Kimball. Wood’s division was over the Harpeth and a portion of
  Wagner’s occupied a hill a short distance from the front. There were
  twenty-six guns mounted on the works and twelve in reserve. “At four
  o’clock,” says a Federal officer, “the whole Confederate line could be
  seen, stretching in battle array, from the dark fringe of chestnuts
  along the river bank, far across the Columbia Pike, the colours gaily
  fluttering, and the muskets gleaming brightly, and advancing steadily,
  in perfect order, dressed on the centre, straight for the works.”

  At first Success, with an enigmatical smile, rode with the grey. The
  ——th Virginia yelled as they rode with her. Cheatham’s men, Stewart’s
  men, Cleburne’s famed veteran division yelled. _Yaaaihhhh! Yaaaaihhh!
  Yaaaaaiiihhh!_ rang the Rebel yell, and echoed from beyond the Harpeth
  and from the Winstead hills. They yelled and drove Wagner’s brigades
  and followed at a double, on straight to the gun-crowned works. As the
  sun dipped came a momentary halt. Cleburne was at the front of his
  troops, about him his officers, behind him his regiments waiting. It
  was growing cold and the earth in shadow. A man, a good and gallant
  soldier, was sitting on a hump of earth trying to tie a collection of
  more or less blood-stained rags around his bare, half-frozen feet. He
  worked patiently, but just once he uttered a groan. Cleburne heard the
  sound and turned his head. Sitting his good horse he regarded the
  soldier for a moment with a half-wistful look, then he dismounted, and
  without saying anything to any one, drew off his boots. With them in
  his hand he stepped across, in his stockinged feet, the bit of frosty
  earth to the soldier. He held out the boots. “Put them on!” he
  ordered. The man, astonished, would have scrambled up and saluted, but
  Cleburne pushed him back. “Put them on!” he said. “It’s an order. Put
  them on.” Stammering protests, the soldier obeyed. “There! they seem
  to fit you,” said General Cleburne. “You need them more than I do.” He
  moved back to his horse, put his stockinged foot in the stirrup and
  mounted.

  There sounded the charge. In went the corps of Stewart and Cheatham,
  in went Cleburne’s division with the blue flag, Alabama, and
  Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas, a great veteran division, “General
  Pat” leading. In the winter dusk came the whirlwind. There was a
  cotton-gin in an open field—there were breastworks—every gun had
  opened, every musket was blazing, Casement’s brigade was using
  magazine breech-loaders. There grew a welter, a darkness, a shrieking.
  General Adams, of Loring’s division, sprang, bay horse and all, across
  a ditch and to the top of a parapet. Above him flared in the dark a
  flag. His hands were upon the staff. “Fire!” said the colour-guard,
  and their bullets killed him and the bay horse. Gist and Strahl were
  killed, Granbury was killed. And Patrick Romayne Cleburne was killed,
  and lay in his stockinged feet a few yards in front of the breastwork
  across which was stretched Adams’s horse.

  Thirteen times the grey charged. There was no wind to blow the smoke
  away. It lay like a level sea, and men fought in it and beneath it,
  and it would have been dark even in daytime. As it was, night was
  here, and it was dark indeed, save for the red murder light.

  The ——th Virginia fought with the same desperation that its fellow
  regiments displayed. A wild energy seemed to inform the entire grey
  army. Edward Cary, rushing with his men to the assault, staggering
  back, going forward again, felt three times the earth of the
  breastworks in his hands.

  He fought, since that was the business in hand, as though he loved it.
  He did not love it, but he was skilful, poised, and sure, and he knew
  no fear. His men had a strange love for and confidence in him. They
  never put it into words but “He comes from a sunrise land and knows
  more than we” was what they meant. He called half-gods by their names
  and had that detachment which perforce men honour. Now, sword in hand,
  striving to overmount the breastworks at Franklin, rallying and
  leading his men with a certain clean efficiency, he acted an approved
  part in the strife, but kept all the time a distance in his soul. He
  could not be all savage again and exult or howl. Nor was he merely
  civilized, to feel weakness and horror and repugnance before this
  blood and dirt and butchery, and yet for pure pride, fear of disgrace,
  and confusion of intellect, to call on every coarser fibre of the
  past, and exalt in the brain all the old sounding, suggestive words,
  the words to make you feel and not to think! He did not call upon the
  past though he acted automatically as the past had acted. He put
  horror and pity and cold distaste and a sense of the absurd to one
  side and did the work, since it still seemed to him that on the whole
  it must be done, with a kind of deadly calm. Had he been more than a
  dawn type, had he been a very little nearer to the future which he
  presaged, he might not have been there, somehow, in that dusk at all.
  He might have declined solutions practised by boar and wolf, and died
  persuading his kind toward a cleaner fashion of solving their
  problems. As it was, he hated what he did but did it.

  Again and again the grey wave surged to the top of the breastworks.
  There it was as though it embraced the blue—blue and grey swayed,
  locked in each other’s arms. Oh! fire and smoke and darkness, and a
  roaring as of sea and land risen each against the other—then down and
  back went the grey sea, down and back, down and back.... At nine
  o’clock the battle rested.

  Long and mournful looked the line of camp-fires. There lay on the
  groaning field beneath the smoke that would not rise well-nigh as many
  dressed in blue as dressed in grey. But all loss now to the grey, with
  never a recruiting ground behind it, was double loss and treble loss.
  Every living man knew it, and knew that the field of Franklin was
  vain, vain! Another artery had been opened, that was all. The South
  was bleeding, bleeding to death.

  There fell upon the Army of Tennessee a great melancholy. Reckless
  daring, yes! but what had reckless daring done? Opportunity at Spring
  Hill lost—Franklin, where there was no opportunity, lost,
  lost!—Cleburne dead—So many of the bravest and best dead or laid low
  or taken, so many slipped forever from the Army of Tennessee—cold,
  hunger, nakedness, Giant Fatigue, Giant Lack-of-Confidence, Giant
  Little-Hope, Giant Much-Despair—a wailing wind that like an æolian
  harp brought a distant crying, a crying from home.... Not Atlanta, not
  Missionary Ridge, not Vicksburg,—not anything was so bad as the night
  and day after Franklin, Tennessee.

  The night of the thirtieth, Schofield, leaving his dead and wounded,
  fell back from Franklin to Thomas at Nashville a few miles to the
  north. Now there were at Nashville between fifty and sixty thousand
  men in blue. On the second of December Hood put his army into motion,
  and that evening saw it drawn up and facing Thomas. Returns conflict,
  but he had now probably less than thirty thousand men. The loss on the
  field had been great, and the straggling was great and continued so.
  Also, now at last, there was an amount of desertion.

  The weather changed. It became cold winter. For fourteen days Hood who
  so despised breastworks, dug and entrenched. “The only remaining
  chance of success in the campaign at this juncture,” he says, “was to
  take position, entrench about Nashville, and await Thomas’s attack,
  which, if handsomely repulsed, might afford us an opportunity to
  follow up our advantage on the spot and enter the city on the heels of
  the enemy.”—But George Thomas was a better general though not a braver
  man than Hood, and he had two men to Hood’s one, and his men were
  clothed and fed and confident. He had no better lieutenants than had
  Hood, and his army was no braver than the grey army and not one half
  so desperate—but when all is weighed and allowed for his advantage
  remains of the greatest. And as at Franklin so at Nashville, the grey
  cavalry was divided and Forrest was fatally sent on side expeditions.

  It began to snow, and as the snow fell it froze. The trees and the
  country side were mailed in ice and the skies hung grey as iron and
  low as the roof of a cavern. The Army of Tennessee, behind its frozen
  earthworks, suffered after a ghastly fashion. There was little wood
  for fires, and little food for cooking, and little covering for
  warmth. On the thirteenth there set in a thaw, and the fifteenth
  dawned, not cold, with a winter fog. Through it the ‘Rock of
  Chickamauga’ moved out in force from Nashville, and with his whole
  strength struck fair and full the Army of Tennessee.

  Two days the two armies fought. In the slant sunshine of the late
  afternoon of the second day, the Federal commander brought a great
  concentration of artillery against the Confederate centre, and under
  cover of that storm of shot and shell, massed his troops and charged
  the centre. It broke. The blue poured over the breastworks. At the
  same moment other and dire blue strokes were delivered against the
  right and left. The grey army was crumpled together like a piece of
  cloth. Then in a torrent of shouting and a thunder of guns came the
  rout. The grey cloth was torn in strips and fled like shreds in a high
  wind. Beside the killed and wounded the grey left in the hands of the
  enemy fifty-four guns and four thousand five hundred prisoners. Night
  came down; night over the Confederacy.

  Ten days and nights the shattered army fell back to the Tennessee,
  moving at first through a hail-storm of cavalry attacks. Forrest beat
  these off, Forrest and a greatly heroic rear guard under Walthall.
  This infantry command and Forrest saved the remnant of the army.

  The weather grew atrocious. The country now was hilly, wooded, thinly
  populated. Snow fell and then sleet, and the ground grew ice and the
  rail fences and the trees were mailed in ice. The feet of the men left
  blood-marks on the ice, the hands of the men were frozen where they
  rested on the gun stocks. Men lay down by the roadside and died or
  were gathered by the blue force hard on the heels of the rear guard.
  The ambulances bore their load, the empty ammunition and commissary
  wagons carried as many as they might, the caissons were overlaid with
  moaning men, the mounted officers took men up behind them. Others,
  weak, ill, frozen, shoeless did their piteous best to keep up with the
  “boys.” They fell behind, they sank upon the roadside, they drew
  themselves into the gaunt woods and lay down upon the frozen snow,
  arms over eyes. _Tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp!_ went the column on the
  road. _Close up, men, close up—close up!_ “It’s the end, it’s the
  end!” said the men. “For God’s sake, strike up Dixie!”

                 “’Way down South in the land of cotton,
                 Old times there are not forgotten—”



                                 XXXIX
                                COLUMBIA


  The bells of the South had been melted and run into cannon, and yet
  there seemed a tolling of bells. Everywhere they tolled—louder and
  louder!—tolled the siege of Savannah, tolled Hatcher’s Run in
  Virginia, tolled Fort Fisher in North Carolina and the blue bombarding
  ships—tolled solemnly and loudly, “_The End is come!_”

  Forrest guarding, the haggard remnant of the Army of Tennessee crossed
  the river on the twenty-seventh of December. There was a council of
  war. Where to go to rest—recoup—reorganize? Southwest into
  Mississippi? Southwest they marched and on the tenth of January came
  to Tupelo. Hood asked to be relieved from command and was relieved,
  A.P. Stewart succeeding him. Later the army, now a small, war-worn
  force, went to fight in North Carolina. But Stevenson’s division and a
  few other troops were sent into South Carolina to Hardee who, with
  less than fifteen thousand men, mostly in garrison at Charleston, was
  facing Sherman and his sixty thousand, flushed from that March to the
  Sea which is described as “one long, glorious picnic,” from the
  capture of Savannah, from the plaudits of the Northern press and the
  praise of Government. Now the idea that he should join Grant at
  Petersburg having been laid aside, Sherman proposed to march northward
  through South Carolina.

  The bells tolled loud in the South, tolled for the women in the
  night-time, tolled for the shrunken armies, tolled for the cities that
  waited, a vision before their eyes of New Orleans, Atlanta, Savannah,
  tolled for the beleaguered places where men watched in the trenches,
  tolled for the burned farmhouses, the burned villages, the lonely,
  blackened country with the gaunt chimneys standing up, tolled for
  famine, tolled for death, tolled for the broken-hearted, tolled for
  human passions let loose, tolled for anger, greed and lust, tolled for
  the shrunken good, tolled for the mounting ill, tolled for war!
  Through the South they tolled and tolled.

  Beauregard took command in South Carolina. It was not known whether
  Sherman would move north and west upon Augusta, just over the Georgia
  line, or east to Charleston, or almost due north to Columbia. Late in
  January he moved from Savannah in ruins, crossed the flooded Savannah
  River by pontoon, entered South Carolina, and marched northward toward
  Columbia the capital of that state. It being a rainy season, and swamp
  and river out of bounds, he made not more than ten miles a day.

  At this time one of his staff officers writes, “The actual invasion of
  South Carolina has begun. The well-known sight of columns of black
  smoke meets our gaze again.” And another Federal officer, “There can
  be no doubt of the assertion that the feeling among the troops was one
  of extreme bitterness toward the people of South Carolina. It was
  freely expressed as the column hurried over the bridge at Sister’s
  Ferry, eager to commence the punishment of the original Secessionists.
  Threatening words were heard from soldiers who prided themselves on
  conservatism in house-burning while in Georgia, and officers openly
  confessed their fears that the coming campaign would be a wicked one.
  Just or unjust as this feeling was toward the country people in South
  Carolina, it was universal. I first saw its fruits at Purisburg, where
  two or three piles of blackened bricks and an acre or so of dying
  embers marked the site of an old, Revolutionary town; and this before
  the column had fairly got its hand in.... The army might safely march
  the darkest night, the crackling pine woods shooting up their columns
  of flame, and the burning houses along the way would light it on....
  As for the wholesale burnings, pillage, devastation, committed in
  South Carolina, magnify all I have said of Georgia some fifty-fold,
  and then throw in an occasional murder, ‘just to bring an old
  hard-fisted cuss to his senses,’ and you have a pretty good idea of
  the whole thing.”

  General Sherman testifies that “the whole army is burning with
  insatiable desire to wreak vengeance on South Carolina. I almost
  tremble at her fate.”

  And one of his captains remarks of the situation several weeks later.
  “It was sad to see this wanton destruction of property which ... was
  the work of ‘bummers’ who were marauding through the country
  committing every sort of outrage. There was no restraint except with
  the column or the regular foraging parties. We had no communications
  and could have no safeguards. The country was necessarily left to take
  care of itself, and became a howling waste. The ‘Coffee-coolers’ of
  the Army of the Potomac were archangels compared to our ‘bummers’ who
  often fell to the tender mercies of Wheeler’s cavalry, and were never
  heard of again, earning a fate richly deserved.”

  Winter is not truly winter in South Carolina, but in the winter of ’65
  it rained and rained and rained. All swamps and streams were out,
  low-lying plantations were under water, the country looked like a
  flooded rice-field. The water-oaks and live-oaks and magnolias stood
  up, shining and dark, beneath the streaming sky; where the road was
  corduroyed it was hard to travel, and where it was not wheels sank and
  sank. All the world was wet, and the canes in the marshes made no
  rustling. When it did not rain the sky remained grey, a calm grey pall
  keeping out the sun, but leaving a quiet grey-pearl light, like a
  dream that is neither sad nor glad.

  “It is,” said Désirée, “the air of Cape Jessamine that winter you
  came.”

  “Yes. The road to Vidalia! We passed at nightfall a piece of water
  with a bit of bridge. I helped push a gun upon it, and the howitzer
  knocked me on the head for my pains. I fell down, down into deep
  water, forty fathoms at the least, and blacker than ebony at
  midnight.... And then I waked up in Rasmus’s cabin, and we had supper,
  and water came under the door, and we circumvented the bayou, and went
  to the Gaillard place which was called Cape Jessamine. And there I
  found a queen in a russet gown and a soldier’s cloak. The wind blew
  the cloak out and made a canopy of it in the light of torches and
  bonfires. She stood upon the levee and bitted and bridled the
  Mississippi River—and I fell in love, deep, deep, forty thousand
  fathoms deep—”

  “Two years.... You were so ragged and splashed with mud—And my heart
  beat like that! and said to me ‘Who is this that comes winged and
  crowned?’—Listen!”

  They were on a road somewhat to the southeast of Columbia, Désirée in
  an open wagon driven by a negro boy, Edward—major now of the ——th
  Virginia—riding beside her on a grey horse. Ahead, at some distance,
  they just saw the regiment, marching through a gloomy wood, bound for
  a post on the Edisto. The sound of its going and the voices of the men
  came faintly back through the damp and quiet air. But what they heard
  was nearer, a passionate weeping amid the trees at a cross-road.
  Coming to this opening they found a spacious family carriage drawn by
  two ancient plough horses, a cart with a mule attached, and two or
  three negro pedestrians. The whole had stopped the moment before and
  with reason. A white-haired lady, stretched upon the cushions of the
  carriage laid cross-wise, had just breathed her last. The weeping was
  her daughter’s, a dark, handsome girl of twenty. Two negro women
  lamented also, while the coachman had gotten down from the box and
  stood staring, with a working face. There were some bags and pillows
  and things of little account heaped in the cart, and on these a small
  negro boy was profoundly sleeping.

  Edward dismounted and Désirée stepped down from the wagon. “What could
  they do? How sad it was!—Was there any help?—” Désirée lifted the girl
  from her mother’s form, drew her away to a roadside log, and sitting
  there, held her close and let her weep. Edward saw the oldest negro
  woman, murmuring constantly to herself, close the eyes of the dead
  mistress, straighten her limbs and fold her hands. The other woman sat
  on the earth and rocked herself. The plough horses and the mule
  lowered their heads and cropped what green bush and grass there was.
  The little black boy slept on and on. Edward talked with the coachman.
  “Yaas, marster, dat so!—’Bout thirty miles south from here, sah.
  _Bienvenu_—er Lauren’s place. En de Yankees come hollerin’ en firin’
  en hits daid of night en old Marster en young Marster wif Gineral
  Lee.—One officer, he say git away quick! en he give me er guard en I
  hitches up, en we lif’ ol’ Mistis out of her bed where she’s had
  pneumonia, en Miss Fanny en her mammy en Julia dar wif her boy, we
  teks de road.”

  Désirée and Edward saw the forlorn cortège proceed on its way with
  hopes of a village or some country house. They stood a moment watching
  it disappear, then Désirée rested her hand upon his arm and mounted
  again into the wagon, and he sprang upon his horse that was named
  Damon, and the negro boy touched the mule drawing the wagon with his
  whip, and they all went on after the regiment. They found it at
  twilight, encamped in the hospitable houses and the one street of a
  tiny rain-soaked hamlet. Headquarters was the parsonage and here was a
  room ready for the Major’s wife. From colonel to cook the ——th
  Virginia loved the Major’s wife. Romance dwelled with her, and a
  queenliness that was never vanquished. Her presence never wearied; she
  knew when to withdraw, to disappear, how not to give trouble, and how,
  when she gave it, to make it seem a high guerdon, a princess’s favour.
  Sometimes the regiment did not see her for weeks or even months on
  end, and then she came like a rose in summer, a more golden light on
  the fields, a deeper blue in the sky. She made mystics of men.

  Now the parson’s wife made her welcome, and after a small supper sat
  with her in a clean bedroom before a fire. The parson’s wife was full
  of sighs, and “Ah, my dears!” and ominous shakings of the head. “South
  Carolina’s bound down,” she said, “and going to be tormented. What you
  tell me about that dead woman and her daughter is but the beginning.
  It’s but a leaf before the storm. We’re going to hear of many whirled
  and trodden leaves.”

  “Yes,” said Désirée, her eyes upon the fantastic shapes in the hollow
  of the fire. “Whirled and trodden leaves.”

  “I have a sister,” said the parson’s wife, “in Georgia. She got away,
  but will you listen to some of the things she writes?”

  She got the letter and read. Désirée, listening, put her hands over
  her eyes and shivered a little for all the room was warm. “I should
  not have said such things could happen in a Christian land,” she said.

  “They happen,” said the parson’s wife. “War is a horror, and a horror
  to women. It has always been so and always will be so. And now I must
  go see that there is covering enough on the beds.”

  At cock-crow the regiment was up and away. Still the same pearly sky,
  the same quietude, the same stretches of water crept under the trees,
  the same heavy road, and halts and going on. The regiment took dinner
  beneath live oaks on a little rise of ground beside a swamp become a
  lake. Officers’ mess dined a little to one side beneath a monster
  tree. All wood was wet and the fires smoked, but soldiers grow skilful
  and at last a blaze was got. Sherman was yet to the southward; this
  strip of country not yet overrun and provisions to be had. Officers’
  mess to-day sat down under the live oaks to what, compared to many and
  many a time in its existence, appeared a feast for kings. There were
  roasted ducks and sweet potatoes, rice and milk and butter. Officers’
  mess said grace devoutly.

  Désirée said grace with her friends, for they had sent back to urge
  her wagon forward and to say they had a feast and to beg her company.
  She sat with Edward over against the Colonel, and the captains and
  lieutenants sat to either side the board. They made a happy dinner,
  jesting and laughing, while off in the grove of oaks was heard the
  laughter of their grey men. When dinner was over, and half an hour of
  sweet rest was over, into column came all, and took again the swampy
  road.

  That evening headquarters was a fine old pillared house, set in a
  noble garden, surrounded in its turn by the fields and woods of a
  great plantation. Here there was a large family, an old man and his
  married daughters and their daughters and little sons. These made the
  men welcome where they camped beside fires out under the great trees
  of the place, and the grey officers welcome indoors, and Désirée
  welcome and gave her and Edward a room with mirrors and chintz
  curtains and a great four-poster bed and a light-wood fire. A little
  after the regiment, came up also a small troop of grey cavalry
  returning from a reconnoissance to the southward. Infantry and the
  plantation alike were eager for Cavalry’s news. Its news was ravage
  and ruin, the locusts of Egypt and a grudge against the land. There
  were sixty thousand of the foe and it seemed determined now that
  Sherman meant Columbia.

  “What are the troops at Columbia?”

  “Stevenson’s twenty-six hundred men, a few other scattering commands,
  Wheeler’s cavalry—say five thousand in all.”

  “Could not General Beauregard bring troops from Charleston?”

  “General Hampton thinks he might.—Evacuate Charleston—concentrate
  before Columbia. But I don’t know—I don’t know! There are not many
  thousands even at Charleston.”

  “It’s the end.”

  “Yes. I suppose so. But fight on till the warder drops!”

  There were the young girls and young married women in the great old
  house. There was a polished floor, and negro fiddlers had not left the
  plantation. Cavalry and infantry officers were, with some exceptions,
  young men—and this was South Carolina. “Yes, dance!” said the old
  gentleman, the head of the house. “To-morrow you may have neither
  fiddlers nor floor.”

  They danced till almost midnight, and at the last they danced the
  Virginia Reel. The women were not in silks or fine muslins, they were
  in homespun. The men were not dressed like the young bloods, the
  University students, the dandies of five years back. Their grey
  uniforms were clean, but very worn. Bars upon the collar, or sash and
  star took the place of the old elaboration of velvet waistcoat and
  fine neckcloth. Spurs that would have caught in filmy laces did not
  harm the women’s skirts of linsey. The fiddlers fiddled, the lights
  burned. Up and down and up again, and around and around....

  Edward and Désirée, resting by a window, regarded the room, at once
  vivid and dreamy. “We were dancing,” he said, “the Virginia Reel at
  Greenwood the night there came news of the secession of Virginia.”

  “Much has happened since then.”

  “Much.”

  The fiddlers played, the lights burned, they took their places. At
  midnight the revel closed, and they slept in the chamber with the
  mirrors and the fire, until the winter day showed, smoked-pearl,
  without the windows. At breakfast-time came a courier from Columbia,
  ordering the ——th Virginia back to that place.

  The weather cleared and grew colder. The roads drying, the regiment
  made good pace. But for all the patches of bright sky there seemed to
  hang a pall over the land. The wind in the woods blew with a long,
  mournful, rushing sound. Désirée sat in the wagon with bowed head, her
  hands in her lap. Edward was ahead, to-day, with the regiment. The
  wagon went heavily on, the wind rushed on either side like goblin
  horsemen. At intervals during the morning the negro boy was moved to
  speech. “Yass’m. All de ghostes are loose in de graveyards. Dey tel’
  erbout hit in de kitchen las’ night. Dey been to er voodoo woman, en
  she say all de ghostes loose, high en low, out er ebery graveyard, en
  she ain’t got no red pepper what kin lay them. She say time past she
  had ernough, but she ain’t got ernough now.”

  “What are they doing—the ghosts?”

  “Dey’re linin’ up in long lines like de poplars, en wavin’ dere arms
  en sayin’ ‘De end’s come! De end’s come!’ En den dey rises from de
  ground en goes erroun’ de plantation in er ring, ’twel you almos’
  think hits jus’ er ring ob mist. But dey keep er-sayin’, ‘De end’s
  come! De end’s come!’ Yass’m, dey’re all out, en dere ain’t nothin’
  what kin lay them!”

  Moving now as they were on a main road to Columbia they this day
  passed or overtook numbers of people, all going their way. These
  people looked distracted. “What was happening to the southward?”
  “Ruin!” they answered. Some talked quickly and feverishly as long as
  they might to the soldiers; others dealt in monosyllables, shook their
  heads and went on with fixed gaze. Shortly before this time General
  Sherman had written to General Halleck: “This war differs from
  European wars in this particular—we are not only fighting hostile
  armies but a hostile people; and must make old and young, rich and
  poor, feel the hard hand of want, as well as their organized armies.”
  These on the road to Columbia were the unorganized—the old and very
  young and the sick and a great number of women.

  The soldiers were troubled. “Sherman’s surely coming to Columbia, and
  how will five thousand men hold it against sixty thousand? You poor
  people oughtn’t to go there!”

  “Then where should we go?”

  “God knows!”

  “We are from Purisburg. There isn’t a house standing.”

  “We are from Barnwell. It was burning when we left. Our home was
  burned.”

  “I am from toward Pocotaligo. It is all a waste. All black and
  burned.”

  On they streamed, the refugees. The regiment gave what help, what
  lifts upon the way it could. As for Désirée, coming on in her wagon,
  she took into it so many, that presently she found no room for
  herself, but walked beside the horse. And so, at last, on a dull, soft
  day, they came into Columbia.

  It was the sixteenth of February. The Capital of South Carolina was by
  nature a pleasant, bowery town, though now it was so heavy of heart
  and filled with forebodings. Of the five thousand who formed its sole
  defence some portion was in the town itself, but the greater part lay
  outside, on picket, up and down the Congaree.

  The ——th Virginia, coming in, was quartered in the town until it was
  known what was to be done. Orangeburg was not many miles below
  Columbia, and the head of Sherman’s column had reached Orangeburg.
  There was a track of fire drawn across the country; Columbia saw doom
  coming like a prairie-fire.

  Edward found a room for Désirée and he came to her here an hour before
  dusk. They stood together by a window looking down into the street.
  “They are leaving home,” she said. “I have seen women and children
  going all afternoon. I have seen such sad things in this pretty
  street.”

  “Sad enough!” he answered. “Désirée, I think that you must go too.”

  “No, no!” she said. “No, no! There is nowhere to go.”

  “There is Camden and the villages in the northern part of the State.
  It is possible that Sherman means when he has done his worst here, to
  turn back toward Charleston. There is no knowing, but it is possible.
  If he does that, Camden and those other places may escape.”

  “And you?”

  “There are no orders yet. We may stay or we may march away. O God,
  what a play is Life!”

  “Those women who are parting down there—saying good-bye to all they
  love—they do not at all know that they are going into safety, and
  those who are parting from them do not know. It might be better for
  them to stay in this large town. They are going away in the dark
  night, and the enemy may have parties out where they are going. I had
  rather stay here. I think that it is safer.”

  “Désirée, Désirée! If a man could see but ever so little of the road
  before him! If we are marched away in haste as we may be, you cannot
  go with us this time. Then to leave you here alone—”

  “There is an Ursuline convent here,” she said. “They will not burn
  that. If you leave me and evil comes near I will go there.”

  “You promise that?”

  “Yes, I promise it.”

  It was in the scroll of their fate that he should leave her and that
  evil should come nigh. She waked in a strange red dawn to hear the
  tramp of feet in the street below. Instantly she was at the window.
  Grey soldiers were passing below—a column. In the south broke suddenly
  a sound of cannon. She saw a shell, sent from the other side of the
  river, explode in the red air above the city roofs. There came a
  feeling of Vicksburg again.

  A hand was at her door. She opened it and Edward took her in his arms.
  “I have but an instant,” he said. “If we go it may be better for this
  city than if we stayed. The mayor will surrender it peaceably, and it
  may be spared destruction. For you, Désirée—for you—God bless you, God
  keep you till we meet again!”

  She smiled back at him. “That will be shortly.”

  “No man can tell, nor no woman. You will go to the Ursuline convent?”

  “Yes, I will go.”

  He strained her to him; they kissed and parted. The soldiers went by
  in the red dawn, out of the town, toward Winnsboro’ to the northward.
  This day also Charleston was evacuated, Hardee with his men moving
  north to Cheraw on the Pedee. At Columbia the mayor and aldermen went
  out between eight and nine in the morning and, meeting the Federal
  advance, surrendered the town, and asked for protection for the
  non-combatants within its walls. How it was given let history tell.
  Several days later Sherman writes to Kilpatrick: “Let the whole people
  know that war is now against them, because their armies flee before us
  and do not defend their country or frontier as they should. It is
  pretty nonsense for Wheeler and Beauregard and such vain heroes to
  talk of our warring against women and children. If they claim to be
  men they should defend their women and children and prevent us
  reaching their homes.”

  Perhaps Wheeler and Beauregard and the other vain heroes would have
  prevented it if they could. Since, however, it lay in their hard
  fortune that they could not, there remained in General Sherman’s mind
  no single reason for consideration.

  Désirée went truly to the Ursuline convent, passing swiftly through
  the windy streets on a windy day, choosing small back streets because
  the principal ones were now crowded with soldiers, keeping close to
  the walls of the houses and drawing a scarf she wore more fully about
  head and face, for even through the side streets there were now
  echoing drunken voices. She came to the convent door, rang, and
  greeting the sister who came told how alone she was in the city. The
  door opened to admit her of course, and she only wished that Edward
  might see her in the convent garden or in the little room where the
  nuns said she might sleep that night.

  But no one slept in the convent that night. It was burned. The nuns
  and the young girls, their pupils, and the women who had come for
  refuge stayed the night in the churchyard. It was cold and there was a
  high wind. The leafless branches of the trees clattered in it, and
  below, on their knees, the nuns murmured prayers, their half-frozen
  hands fingering their rosaries. The young girls drew together for
  warmth, and the Mother Superior stood, counselling and comforting. And
  the convent burned and the city burned, with a roaring and crackling
  of flames and a shouting of men.



                               CHAPTER XL
                         THE ROAD TO WINNSBORO’


  She was a wise as well as a fair woman, and yet, the day after the
  burning of Columbia, she took a road that led northward from the
  smoking ruins. In the cold morning sunlight Sherman himself had come
  to the churchyard, and hat in hand had spoken to the Mother Superior.
  He regretted the accidental burning of the convent. Any yet standing
  house in town that she might designate should be reserved for her, her
  nuns and pupils. She named a large old residence from which the family
  had gone, and walking between files of soldiers the nuns and their
  charges came here. “We learned,” says the Mother Superior, “from the
  officer in charge that his orders were to fire it unless the Sisters
  were in actual possession of it, but if even ‘a detachment of Sisters’
  were in it, it should be spared on their account. Accordingly we took
  possession of it, although fires were already kindled near and the
  servants were carrying off the bedding and furniture, in view of the
  house being consigned to the flames.”

  All morning the burning, the looting and shouting went on. Smoke
  rolled through the streets, the wind blew flames from point to point.
  The house was crowded to oppression; there came a question of food for
  so many. Some one was needed to go to the mayor with representations,
  which might in turn be brought before the Federal commander. Désirée
  volunteered and the distance not being great, went and returned in
  safety. Not far from the door that would open to receive her was a
  burned house and before it an ancient carriage, and in the carriage
  two ladies and a little girl. There were soldiers in the street and to
  be seen through smoke beyond the fallen house, but here beside the
  carriage was an officer high in command and order prevailed. The
  officer was speaking to the ladies. “If there is any trouble, show
  your pass. I won’t say that you are wise to leave this place, sad as
  it is! These are wild times, and there are more marauders than I like.
  Even if you make your way to your brother’s house, you may find it in
  ashes. And if you overtake the rear of your army, what can that help?
  We will be sweeping on directly and the rebels—I beg your pardon,
  General Beauregard’s army—will have to fall back before us or
  surrender. I think you had better stay. General Sherman will surely
  issue rations to the place.”

  “We prefer to go on,” said the eldest of the two women. “We may find
  friends somewhere, and somewhere to lay our heads. We do thank you for
  the pass.”

  “Not at all!” said the officer. “As I told you, your father and my
  father were friends.”

  As he moved from the carriage door Désirée saw that there was an empty
  seat. “Oh,” she thought, “if I might have it!”

  Her face, turned toward the carriage, showed from out her hood. The
  younger of the women saw her, started and uttered an exclamation.
  “Désirée Gaillard!” she cried.

  Lo! it was an acquaintance, almost a friend, a girl who had been much
  in New Orleans, with whom she had laughed at many a party. “Go with
  them!—yes, indeed, she might go with them.” She ran to the house that
  was now the convent, gave the Mayor’s message and thanked the Sisters
  for the help they would have given, then out she came to the
  smoke-filled street and took her place in the carriage. It had a guard
  out of town; the officer had been punctilious to do his best. It was
  understood that there were Federal troops on the Camden road, but they
  were going toward Winnsboro’. When the burning city lay behind them
  and the quiet winter fields around, when the guard had said a gruff
  “You’re safe enough now! Good-day!” and turned back, when the negro
  driver said, “Git up, Lance! Git up, France!” to the horses, and the
  carriage wheels turned and they passed a clump of cedars, they were on
  the road that the grey troops had travelled no great chain of hours
  before.

  They drove on and on, and now they overtook and passed or kept company
  with for a while mournful folk, refugees, people with the noise of
  falling walls in their ears. They had tales to tell and some were
  dreadful enough. Then for a time the road would be bare, a melancholy
  road, much cut to pieces, with ruts and hollows. Now and then in
  dropped haversack, or broken bayonet, or torn shoe, or blood-stained
  rag were visible tokens that soldiers had passed. They had a little
  food and they ate this, and now and then they talked in low voices,
  but for the most part they sat silent, looking out on the winter
  landscape. The little girl was restless, and Désirée told her French
  fairy stories, quaint and fragrant. At last she slept, and the three
  women sat in silence, looking out. In the late afternoon, turning a
  little from the main road, they came to the country house for which
  they were bound.

  The welcome was warm, with a clamour for news. “_Columbia
  burned!_—_oh, well-a-way!_... No Yankees in this part as yet. Our
  troops went by yesterday on the Winnsboro’ road. It’s said they’ll
  wait there until General Hardee gets up from Charleston and they can
  make junction. There’s a rumour that General Johnston will be put in
  command. Oh, the waiting, waiting! One’s brain turns, looking for the
  enemy to come, looking for the South to fall—worse and worse news
  every day! If one were with the Army it would not be half so bad.
  Waiting, waiting here’s the worst!”

  In this Désirée agreed. It was away in a wood and upon a creek like
  the Fusilier place. The army was no great distance further on, and
  halted. In a day or two it would move, away, away! Her whole being
  cried out, I cannot stay here! If it comes to danger, this lonely
  place will be burned like the others. I were safer there than here.
  And what do I care for danger? Have I not travelled with danger for
  two years?”

  That night when, exhausted, she fell asleep, she had a dream. She was
  back in Dalton, in the house with the lace-handkerchief dooryard. She
  was on her knees, cording a hair trunk, and the old negro
  Nebuchadnezzar and his horse Julius Cæsar were waiting. Somebody—it
  was not the two sisters who lived in the house—but somebody, she could
  not make out who it was—was persuading her to stay quietly there, not
  to take the road to Resaca. At first she would not listen, but at last
  she did listen and said she would stay. And then at once she was at
  Cape Jessamine and the house was filled with people and there was
  dancing. Everything was soft and bright and a myriad of wax candles
  were burning, and the music played and they talked about going to New
  Orleans for Mardi-gras and what masks they should wear. And she was
  exceedingly happy, with roses in her hair and an old gold-gown. But
  all the time she was trying to remember something or somebody, and it
  troubled her that she could not bring whatever it was to mind. And
  then, though she still danced, and though there stayed a gleaming edge
  of floor and light and flowers and moving people, the rest rolled away
  into darkness and a battlefield. She saw the stars above it and heard
  the wind, and then she left the dancers and the lights and they faded
  away and she walked on the battlefield, but still there was something
  she could not remember. She was unhappy and her heart ached because
  she could not. And then she came to a corner of the field where were
  dark vines and broken walls, and a voice came to her out of it,
  “Désirée! Désirée!” She remembered now and knew that Edward lay there,
  and she cried, “I am coming!” But even so the dream turned again, and
  she was back in the house with the lace-handkerchief yard, and the
  hair trunk was being carried back into the house and up the stairs,
  and the wagon at the gate turned and went away without her. Then there
  was darkness again, and the cave at Vicksburg, and a cry in her ears,
  “_Désirée! Désirée!_”

  She waked, and, trembling, sat up in bed. “If I had not gone from
  Dalton,” she said, “he would have died.” She rose, crossed the room to
  a window and set it wide. It looked across the wood toward the road
  they had left, the Winnsboro’ road. She stood gazing, in the night
  wind, the winter wind. There was a faint far light upon the horizon.
  Rightly or wrongly, she thought it was the camp-fires of the grey
  army. Another night and they would be further away perhaps, another
  night and further yet! Sooner or later there would be the battle, and
  the dead and the wounded left on the field. The wind blew full upon
  her, wrapping her white gown closely about her limbs, lifting her dark
  hair. “_Désirée! Désirée!_” The dream cry was yet in her ears, and
  there on the horizon flamed his camp-fires.

  When morning came she begged a favour of her new friends in this
  place. Could they let her have a cart and a horse, anything that might
  take her to Winnsboro’? They said that if she must go she should have
  the carriage and horses and the old driver of yesterday, but surely it
  was not wise to go at all! News was here this morning that the ravage
  north of Columbia had begun. All this country would be unsafe—was
  perhaps unsafe at this moment and henceforth! No one expected this
  house to be spared—why should it be, more than another?—but at least
  it was not burned yet, and it was better to face what might come in
  company than alone! “Stay with us, my dear, stay with us!” But when
  she would go on, they understood. It was a time of wandering and of
  much travel under strange and hard conditions. As for danger—when it
  was here and there and everywhere what use in dwelling on it? No one
  could say with any knowledge, “Here is safety,” or “There is danger.”
  The shuttle was so rapid! What to-day seemed the place of safety was
  to-morrow the very centre of danger. What was to-day’s field of danger
  might become to-morrow, the wave rushing on, quiet of foes as any
  desert strand!—Désirée kissed her friends and went away in the old
  carriage toward the Winnsboro’ road.

  The morning was dull and harsh with scudding clouds. The side road was
  as quiet as death, but when they came upon the broader way there grew
  a difference. The old negro looked behind him. “Dere’s an awful fuss,
  mistis, ener dust! des lak de debbil got loose!”

  “Drive fast,” said Désirée. “If you come to a lane turn into it.”

  But the road went straight between banks of some height, without a
  feasible opening to either hand. Moreover, though the driver used the
  whip and the horses broke into something like a gallop, the cloud of
  dust and the noise behind steadily gained. There came a round of
  pistol shots. “They are firing at us,” said Désirée. “Check the horses
  and draw the carriage to the side of the road.”

  Dust and noise enveloped them. A foraging party, twenty jovial
  troopers, drew rein, surrounded the carriage, declined to molest or
  trouble the lady, but claimed the carriage-horses in the name of the
  Union.

  They cut the traces and took them, Désirée standing by the roadside
  watching. These men, she thought, were much like schoolboys, in wild
  spirits, ready for rough play but no malice. She was so used to
  soldiers and used to seeing in them such sudden, rough and gay humour
  as this that she felt no fear at all. When a freckled, humorous-faced
  man came over and asked her if she had far to travel, and if she
  really minded walking, she answered with a wit and composure that made
  him first chuckle, then laugh, then take off his cap and make her a
  bow. The troop was in a hurry. When it had the horses and had joked
  and laughed and caracoled enough, off it prepared to go in another
  cloud of dust. But the freckled man came back for a moment to Désirée.
  “If I may make so bold, ma’am,” he said, “I’d suggest that you don’t
  do much walking on this road, and that as soon as you come to a house
  you ask the people to let you take pot-luck with them for a while! The
  army’s coming on, and we’ve got plenty of bands out that don’t seem
  ever to have had any good womenfolk to teach them manners. If you’ll
  take a friend’s advice you’ll stop at the nearest house—though of
  course, in these times, that ain’t very safe neither!”

  The carriage had the forlornest air, stranded there in the road,
  beneath a sky so cloudy that now there threatened a storm. The negro
  driver was old and slightly doddering. Moreover, when she said, “Well,
  Uncle, now we must walk!” he began to plain of his rheumatism. She
  found that it was actual enough; he would be able to walk neither fast
  or far. She looked behind her. A league or two back lay the turning
  that would lead to the house she had quitted.... But she shook her
  head. She had made her choice.

  A mile from where they left the carriage they found at a crossroads
  the cabin of some free negroes—a man and a woman and many children.
  Here Désirée left her companion. If she took the narrower road, where,
  she asked, would it lead her? Could she reach Winnsboro’ that
  way?—Yes, if she went on to a creek and a mill, and if then she took
  the right-hand road. No, it wasn’t much out of the way—three or four
  miles.

  “And a quiet, safe road?”

  “Yaas, ma’am. Jus’ er-runnin’ along quiet by itself. Hit ain’t much
  travelled.”

  “But it will bring me to Winnsboro’?”

  “Yaas, ma’am. Quicker’n de main road wif all dese armies hollerin’
  down it.”

  “Those men who went by a little while ago—were they the first to pass
  to-day?”

  “No, ma’am, dat dey wasn’t! En _dey_ was sober, Lawd!”

  “And they’ve all kept on the main road?”

  “Yaas, ma’am. All taken de main road.”

  She looked down the road she had come—the main road. Here was another
  cloud of dust; she heard a faint shouting. She had with her some
  Confederate notes, and now she put one of a large denomination into
  the hand of the old driver, nodded good-bye, and turned into the
  narrow way, that seemed merely a track through the forest. Almost
  immediately, as she came beneath the arching trees, the cabin, the
  negro family, the gleaming, wider road sank away and were lost.

  She walked lightly and swiftly. She might have been wearied. For a
  month now she had known that she carried life beneath her heart. But
  she did not feel wearied. She felt strong and well and deathless. The
  miles were not many now before her. With good luck she might even
  reach her goal to-night. If not to-night then she would sleep where
  she might and go forward at dawn. Before another sun was high it would
  be all right—all right. The clouds began to lift, and though it was
  cold it did not seem so cold to her as it had been. At long intervals
  she passed, set back from the road, small farmhouses or cabins in
  ragged gardens. Most of these houses looked quite deserted; others had
  every shutter closed, huddling among the trees with a frightened air.
  As the afternoon came on the houses grew further apart. The road was
  narrow, untravelled of late—it seemed a lonely country.... At last she
  came to the promised creek and the mill. The mill-wheel was not
  turning, no miller and his men stood about the door, no horses with
  sacks thrown across waited without. There was no sign of life. But the
  miller’s house was behind the mill, and here she saw a face at a
  window. She went and knocked at the door. An old woman opened to her.
  “Be the Yankees coming?” she said.

  Désirée asked for a bit of bread, and to warm herself beside the fire.
  While she ate it, crouched in the warm corner of the kitchen hearth,
  the old woman took again her post at the window. “I keep a-watching
  and a-watching for them to come!” she said. “They’ve got a spite
  against mills. My father built this one, and when he died my husband
  took it, and when he died my boy John. The wheel turned when I was
  little, and when I was grown and had a lover, and when I was married
  and when there were children. It turned when there was laughing and
  when there was crying. The sound of the water over it and the flashing
  is the first thing I can remember. I used to think it would be the
  last thing I’d hear when I came to die, and I kind of hoped it would.
  I liked it. It was all mixed up with all kinds of things. But now I
  reckon before this time to-morrow it’ll be burned. They’ve got a spite
  against mills.—Won’t you stay the night?”

  But there was an hour yet before sunset. The road to Winnsboro’? Yes,
  that was it, and it was only so many miles. The army? Yes, she thought
  the army was still there. Yesterday there had been what they called a
  reconoissance this way. A lot of grey soldiers had passed, going down
  to the Columbia road and back.

  Désirée rose refreshed, gave her thanks and went her way. A wind bent
  the trees and tore and heaped the clouds. The low sun shone out and
  turned the clouds into purple towers, fretted and crowned with gold.
  The rays came to Désirée like birds and flowers of hope. For all the
  woe of the land her heart began to sing. She walked on and on, not
  conscious of weariness, moving as though she were on air, drawn by a
  great magnet. The clouds were enchanted towers, the sky between, a
  waveless sea; the wind at her back, driving her on, was welcome, the
  odour of woods and earth was welcome. On and on she went, steady and
  swift, an arrow meaning to pierce the gold.

  Suddenly, with a shock, the enchantment went. The wind, blowing with
  her, brought a distant, confused sound. She turned. It was sunset, the
  earth was suddenly stern and dark. Above the woods, back the way she
  had come, rose thick smoke. She knew it for what it was, knew that
  some one of Sherman’s roving bands was there at the mill, burning it
  down. She stood with knit brows, for now she heard men upon the road.
  The ground here rose slightly, the road running across a desolate,
  open field, covered with sedge, from which rose at intervals tall,
  slender pines. Their trunks and bushy heads outlined against the sky,
  that was now all flushed with carmine, gave them a curious resemblance
  to palm trees. West of the road, half way across the sedgy stretch,
  ran a short and ruined wall of stones, part of some ancient enclosure.
  Behind it showed again the darker, thicker wood. Désirée, leaving the
  road, went toward this, but she had hardly stepped from the trodden
  way into the sedge when behind her at the turn of the road appeared a
  man in uniform. She was above him, clear against the great suffusion
  of the sunset sky. He stared a moment, then turned his head and
  whooped, whereupon there appeared half a dozen of his fellows.

  They caught up with her just as she reached the broken wall. She saw
  that without exception they were drunk, and she set her back against
  the stones and prepared to fight.


  Five thousand men could not meet in battle sixty thousand, but they
  could and did send out reconnoitring bodies that gathered news of
  Sherman, tarrying yet upon the Congaree, and gave some sense of
  protection to the country people and gave sharp lessons to the
  marauding parties that now and again they met with. By moving here and
  there they made a rumour, too, of gathering grey troops and larger
  numbers, of reinforcements perhaps from North Carolina, of at any rate
  grey forces and some one to play now protector, now avenger. So it was
  that on this winter afternoon the ——th Virginia, three or four hundred
  muskets, with a small detachment of cavalry going ahead, found itself
  marching down the main road, fifteen miles toward Columbia. It knew by
  now of the burning of Columbia. “Everything in ashes—houses and stores
  and churches and a convent. The people with neither food nor
  shelter—going where they can.” Grey cavalry and infantry asked nothing
  better than to meet its foes to-day. So great, around the blue army,
  was the fringe of foragers and pillagers and those engaged in “making
  the country untenable for the enemy,” that the grey did meet to-day
  various bands of plunderers. When they did they gave short shrift, but
  charged, firing, cut them down and rode them over and chased them back
  toward Columbia and their yet stationary great force. The grey’s
  humour to-day was a grim and furious humour.

  The ——th Virginia passed a cross-roads, and a little later came to
  something that aroused comment among the men. It was an empty,
  old-fashioned carriage, standing without horses, half on the road,
  half over the edge. “Looks,” said the men, “like the ark on
  Ararat!”—“Forlorn, ain’t it?”—“Where’s the horses and the people who
  were in it?”—“Reckon those Yanks before us took the horses. As for the
  people—I’d rather be a humming-bird in winter than the people in this
  State!”

  Edward Cary rode across and checking his horse, leaned from the saddle
  and looked into the carriage—why, he hardly knew, unless it was that
  once in Georgia they had found a carriage stranded like this, and in
  it a child asleep. There was in this one nothing living. ... Just as
  he straightened himself he caught a glint of something small and
  golden lying in a corner. He dismounted, drew the swinging door
  further open and picked it up. It was a locket, and he had had it in
  his hands before.

  He remembered passing, a little way back, a negro cabin. After a word
  to the commanding officer he galloped back to this place. Yes, they
  could tell him, and did. “She took this road?” “Yaas, sah. Long erbout
  midday. We done tol’ her erbout de creek en de mill en de right-han’
  road—”

  “Has any one else gone by this road? Any soldiers?”

  “Yaas, sah. Right smart lot ob soldiers. Dey ax where dat road go, en
  I say hit go to de mill. Den dey say dey gwine burn de mill, en dey
  goes dat way. I reckon hits been mo’n three hours ergo, sah.”

  It was dusk when Edward Cary and twenty cavalrymen turned into this
  road, and it had been night for some time when they came to the
  reddened place where had stood the mill. It was all down now, though
  the flames were yet playing through the mass of fallen timbers. The
  mill-wheel was a wreck, the miller’s house behind was burned. There
  were no soldiers here: they had destroyed and were gone. But out from
  some hiding-place came an old woman who seemed distraught. She stood
  in the flickering glow and said, “Yankees! Yankees!” and “They took an
  axe and killed the mill-wheel!”

  Edward spoke to her, soothed her, and at last she drew her wits
  together, talked to him, and answered his questions. “Yes, a woman had
  been there and had left a little before sunset. Yes, dressed so and
  so—a beautiful woman. Yes, she had gone by that road, walking away
  alone. She said good-bye and then she had seen and heard nothing more
  of her. Then, in a little, little time, came the Yankees. Some of them
  were drunk, and she had run out of the house and hid within a brush
  heap. ... And now the mill-wheel would never turn again.”

  “Which road did they take when they left—the Winnsboro’ road or that
  one running south?”

  She was not sure. She thought the one running south—but maybe some
  went one way, some another. She did not know how many there were of
  them. They were on foot and horseback, too. Her eyes strayed to where
  the wheel had been, and she fell again to plucking at her apron.

  Cary and his men took the right-hand road. It lay quiet as death
  beneath the winter stars. They travelled it slowly, looking from side
  to side, but if there were signs that an enemy had been that way, in
  the darkness they could not read them. Neither did they see any sign
  of a solitary traveller. All was quiet, with only the sighing of the
  wind. At last, nearing Winnsboro’, they came to their own picket-line.
  Camped by the road was a cavalry post. Edward spoke with the men here.
  “No. A quiet night—nothing seen and nothing heard out of the way. No
  one had passed—no, no woman.”

  Cary turned in his saddle and looked behind him. Clear night, and dark
  and still through all the few miles between this place which she had
  not passed and the mill which she had.... The men with him had been in
  the saddle since dawn. They were weary enough, and under orders to
  report that night at Winnsboro’. At the end he sent on upon the road
  well-nigh all the troop, then turned himself and with but three or
  four horsemen behind him, began to retrace the road to the mill. Light
  and sound of the picket post died behind him, there came only the
  quiet miles of a lonely country and the stars above.

  The night was old when, suddenly, near again to the burned mill, there
  burst out of a by-path the men who had burned it. They had taken the
  southward running road, had burned two houses that lay that way, then
  encountering rough country and a swollen river, had elected, horse and
  foot, to march back the way they came. Now, emerging suddenly upon the
  wider road, they saw before them four horsemen, divined that they were
  grey, and with a shout joined battle.

  “They are six to one, men!” cried Cary. “Save yourselves!”

  There came the crash. He fired twice, emptying a saddle and giving a
  ball in the shoulder to the half-drunken giant who seemed to be
  leading. Then with oaths three pushed against him. His horse reared,
  screamed and fell, pierced by bullets. He leaped clear of the saddle
  and fired again, breaking a man’s raised sabre arm. There was a
  blinding flash, a deafening sound—down, down he went into blackness
  and silence, into night deep as the nadir....

  When he came slowly, slowly back to feeling and consciousness he was
  alone. It was dawn, he saw that. For a long time there seemed nothing
  but the fact of dawn. Then he suddenly rested his hand on the earth
  and tried to lift himself. With the vain effort and the pain it
  brought came a troubled memory. He put his hand to his side and felt
  the welling blood. The wound, he presently saw, was deep and hopeless,
  deep enough to let death in. His head fell back against the bank
  behind him and he faced the dawn. He was lying at the edge of the
  road, his dead horse near. All noise and war and strife were gone, the
  three or four men who had been with him cut down, or taken prisoner,
  or fled, the blue triumphant band gone its way. There was an utter
  stillness, and the dawn coming up cool and pure like purple lilies. He
  slightly turned his head. About him was a field of sedge with
  scattered pines. The wind was laid, and it was not cold. He knew that
  his hurt was mortal.... Suddenly, as from another world, there came to
  him a very faint cry—half cry for help, half plaint to a heaven blind
  and deaf. He dragged himself to his knees, with his hand cleared the
  mist from his eyes and gazed across an half acre of sedge to a heap of
  ruined stones like a broken wall. The voice rose again, faintly. With
  a vast, illuminating rush came fully memory and knowledge, and like a
  dying leap of the flame, strength. He rose and crossed the sedge.

  She was lying where her murderers had left her, beneath the ruined
  wall. She was dying, but she knew him when, with a cry, he fell beside
  her, stretched his arms above her. “Yes,” she said. “I believed that
  you would come.” Then, when she saw the blood upon him, “Are you going
  with me?”

  “Yes, Love,” he said. “Yes, Love.”

  The great dawn climbed stealthily, from tint to deeper tint, from
  height to height. The pine trees stood like dreaming palms, and the
  sedge spread like a floor of gold. “The river!” she said, “the great
  river that is going to eat us up at last! How it beats against Cape
  Jessamine!”

  “When I saw Cape Jessamine go down, I thought only ’If I were there!
  If I were with her, together in the wave!’”

  Their voices died to whispers. With a vague and fluttering hand she
  touched his brow and lips. “I wanted the child to live—I wanted that.
  But it was not to be—it was not to be—”

  “Désirée! Désirée!”

  A smile was on her lips—almost of derision. “War is so stupid,” she
  said.

  Upon the purple wall of the east a finger began to write in gold. The
  mist was stirring in the woods, the wind beginning. It lifted her
  dark, loosened hair, that was so wildly spread. It brought a drift of
  dead leaves across them where they lay. They lay side by side, like
  wreathed figures on a tomb. “Is it light?” she asked. “Can you see the
  light?”

  “I can see it faintly. It is like the sound of the sea.”

  “It is very cold,” she breathed. “Dark and cold.”

  “Yes.... Dark and cold.”

  “Give me your hand,” she said. “Kiss me. We have been happy, and we
  will be so again.... Now I am going.... Dark, dark—dark—”

  “Désirée—”

  “I see light like a star.... Good-bye.”

  She died. With a last effort he moved so that his arms were around her
  body and his head upon her breast, and then, as the sun came up, his
  spirit followed hers.



                              CHAPTER XLI
                        THE BEGINNING OF THE END


  In this February the grey Congress at Richmond created the office of
  Commander-in-Chief of all the Confederate Armies, and appointed to it
  Robert Edward Lee. On the twenty-third Lee telegraphed to Johnston,
  then at Lincolnton, North Carolina:


  “GENERAL J.E. JOHNSTON:—

  Assume command of the Army of Tennessee and all troops in the
  Department of South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. Assign General
  Beauregard to duty under you as you may select. Concentrate all
  available forces and drive back Sherman.

                                                          R.E. LEE.”


  “All available forces” were not many, indeed they were very few, but
  such as they were Johnston drew them together, and with them, the
  middle of March, faced Sherman at Bentonville. “Drive back Sherman?”
  Once that might have deen done, with the old Army of Tennessee. It
  could not be done now with the handful that was left of that army. On
  the first of April General Sherman’s effective strength is given for
  all three arms, as something over eighty-one thousand men. Infantry
  and artillery the grey had on this date sixteen thousand and fourteen
  men, with a little above four thousand cavalry. Bentonville saw, grey
  and blue, an almost equal loss. After Bentonville came some days of
  calm, the grey encamped at Smithfield, the blue at Goldsboro.

  But through the pause came always the tolling of the bells, ringing
  loud and louder—

  Early in February Lee at Petersburg wrote to the Secretary of War as
  follows. “All the disposable force of the right wing of the Army has
  been operating against the enemy beyond Hatcher’s Run since Sunday.
  Yesterday, the most inclement day of the winter, the men had to be
  retained in line of battle, having been in the same condition the two
  previous days and nights. I regret to be obliged to state that under
  these circumstances, heightened by assaults and fire of the enemy,
  some of the men had been without meat for three days, and all were
  suffering from reduced rations and scant clothing, exposed to battle,
  cold, hail, and sleet.... The physical strength of the men, if their
  courage survives, must fail under this treatment. Our cavalry had to
  be dispersed for want of forage. Fitz Lee’s and Lomax’s divisions are
  scattered because supplies cannot be transported where their services
  are required. I had to bring W.H.F. Lee’s division forty miles Sunday
  night to get him into position. Taking these facts in consideration
  with the paucity of our numbers, you must not be surprised if calamity
  befalls us.” Bad in February, it was no better in March.

  Back to the trenches before Petersburg came, because they were needed,
  sundry troops that had fought in the Valley. Back came what was left
  of the Golden Brigade, and what was left of the Sixty-fifth Virginia.
  But November and December and January, well-nigh all of that winter,
  Richard Cleave, carried across the mountains after Cedar Creek, lay at
  Greenwood, a desperately wounded soldier. In February he began to
  gather strength, but the latter half of that month found him still a
  prisoner in a large, high, quiet room, firelit and still.

  On a grey afternoon, with a few flakes of snow in the air, turning
  from the window toward the fire, he found that Unity was his nurse for
  this twilight hour. She lifted her bright face from her hands. “That
  was a very sad sigh, Richard!”

  He smiled. “Unity, I was thinking.... I have not been a very fortunate
  soldier. And I used—long ago—to think that I would be.”

  “Is there such a thing as a fortunate soldier?”

  He smiled again. “That depends.—Is there such a thing as a fortunate
  war? I don’t know.”

  His mother entered the room. “It’s Cousin William, Richard. He wants
  to come in and talk a little while.”

  Cousin William appeared—seventy, and ruddy yet, with a gouty limb and
  an indomitable spirit. “Ha, Richard! that’s more like! You’re getting
  colour, and some flesh on your bones! When are you going back to the
  front?”

  “Next week, sir.”

  Cousin William laughed. “Well, call it the week after that!” He sat by
  the couch in the winged chair. The firelight played through the room,
  lit the two women sitting by the hearth, and the two or three old
  pictures on the walls. Outside the snow fell slowly, in large, quiet
  flakes. “Have you had any letters?” asked Cousin William.

  Unity answered. “One from Fauquier yesterday. None from Edward for
  some days. The last was just a line from Columbia written before the
  troops left the place and Sherman came and burned it. We can’t but
  feel very anxious.”

  But Cousin William could not endure to see Greenwood downcast. “I
  think you may be certain they are safe.—What did Fauquier say?”

  “Just that since Hatcher’s Run there had been comparative inaction. He
  said that the misery in the trenches was very great, and that day by
  day the army was dwindling. He said we must be prepared now for the
  worst.”

  Cousin William flushed, leaned forward, and became violently
  optimistic. “You tell Fauquier—or I’ll write to him and tell him
  myself—that that is no way to talk! It is no way for his father’s son
  to talk, or his grandfather’s grandson to talk! I am sure, Richard,
  that you don’t feel that way!”

  “Yes, sir, I do feel that way. We are at the end.”

  “At the end!” ejaculated Cousin William. “Absurd! We have held Grant
  eight months at Petersburg!—Well, say that General Lee eventually
  determines to withdraw from Petersburg! What will follow? Lee in
  Virginia and Johnston in Carolina have the inner lines. Lee will march
  south, Johnston will march north, they will join armies, first crush
  Sherman, then turn and destroy Grant! Richmond? Well, say that
  Richmond is given up, temporarily, sir—temporarily! We will take it
  again when we want it, and if they burn it we will rebuild it! Nothing
  can keep it from being our capital. The President and the Cabinet and
  offices can remove for a time. Who knows but what it may be very well
  to be free and foot-loose of defended cities? Play the guerilla if
  need be! Make our capital at mountain hamlet after mountain hamlet, go
  from court-house to court-house—A capital! The Confederacy has a
  capital in every single Southern heart—” Cousin William dashed his
  hand across his eyes. “I’m ashamed to hear you speak so, Richard!—But
  you’re a sick man—you’re a sick man!”

  “God knows what should be done!” said Cleave. “I am not an easy
  giver-up, sir. But we have fought until there is little breath in us
  with which to fight any more. We have fought to a standstill. And it
  is the country that is sick, sick to death!”

  “Any day England or France—”

  “Oh, the old, old dream—”

  “Say then it’s a dream!” cried Cousin William angrily. “Say that is a
  dream and any outer dependence is a dream! The spirit of man is no
  dream! What have we got for dependence? We have got, sir, the spirit
  of the men and women of the South! We’ve got the unconquerable and
  imperishable! We’ve got the spiritual might!”

  But Richard shook his head. “A fire burns undoubtedly and a spirit
  holds, but day by day and night by night for four years death has come
  and death has come! Half the bright coals have been swept from the
  hearth. And against what is left, sir, wind and rain and sleet and
  tempest are beating hard—beating against the armies in the field and
  against the country in the field. They are beating hard, and they will
  beat us down. They have beaten us down. It is but the recognition
  now.”

  “Then may I die,” said Cousin William, “before I hear Virginia say, ‘I
  am conquered!’” His eyes sparkled, his frame trembled. “Do you think
  they will let it rest there, sir! No! In one year I have seen
  vindictiveness come into this struggle—yes, I’ll grant you
  vindictiveness on both sides—but you say that theirs is the winning
  side! Then I tell you that they will be not less but more vindictive!
  For ten years to come they will make us drink the water of bitterness
  and eat the bread of humiliation! _Virginia!_ And that second war will
  be worse than the first!”

  He rose. “I can’t stay here and hear you talk like this! I suppose you
  know what you’re talking about, but you people in the field get a
  jaundiced view of things! I’m going to see Noel. Noel and I worked it
  all out last night.—General Lee to cut loose from the trenches at
  Petersburg, Johnston to strike north, then, having the inner lines—”
  And so on.

  When he was gone Richard laughed. Unity, the log in her hands with
  which she was about to replenish the fire, looked over her shoulder.
  “That’s sadder than sighing!” she said. “Don’t!”

  “What shall we do?” he asked. “Go like pieces of wood for a
  twelvemonth—sans care, sans thinking, sans feeling, sans heart,
  sans—no, not sans courage!”

  “No—not sans courage.”

  “I am not sad,” he said, “for myself. It would be strange if I were,
  would it not, to-day? I have a great, personal happiness. And even
  this afternoon, Unity—I am saying good-bye, as one of the generality,
  to despair, and pain, and wounded pride, and foreboding, and
  unhappiness. I have been looking it in the face. Such and so it is
  going to be in the South, and perhaps worse than we know—and yet the
  South is neither going to die nor despair!—And now if there is any
  broth I surely could take it!”

  Going downstairs Cousin William found the library and Miss Lucy. “I
  got too angry, I suppose, with Richard—but to lie there talking of
  surrender! _Surrender!_ I tell you, Lucy,—but there! I can’t talk
  about it. Better not begin.”

  “Richard is a strong man, William. He’s not the weakly despairing
  kind.”

  “I know, Lucy, I know! But it’s not so bad as he thinks. I look for a
  big victory any day now.... Well! let’s talk of the wedding. When’s it
  to be?”

  “In three days. The doctor says he may come downstairs to-morrow.
  Corbin Wood will marry them, here in the parlour. Then, in a few days,
  Richard will go back to the front.... Oh, the sad and strange and
  happy so blended together.... We are so desperate, William, that the
  road has turned because we couldn’t travel it so any longer and live!
  There’s a strange kind of calm, and you could say that a quiet music
  was coming back into life.... If only we could hear from Edward!”

  The sky was clear on Cleave’s and Judith’s wedding-day. The sun shone,
  the winds were quiet, there was a feeling in the air as of the coming
  spring. Her sisters cut from the house-plants flowers for Judith’s
  hair; there fell over her worn white gown her mother’s wedding-veil.
  The servants brought boughs of cedar and bright berries, and with them
  decked the large old parlour, where the shepherds and shepherdesses
  looked out from the rose wreaths on the wall as they had looked when
  Hamilton and Burr and Jefferson were alive. The guests were few, and
  all old friends and kinsfolk, and there were, beside, Mammy and Julius
  and Isham and Scipio and Esther and Car’line and the others, Tullius
  among them. A great fire warmed the room, shone in the window-panes
  and the prisms beneath the candles and the polished floor and the old
  gilt frames of the Cary portraits. Margaret Cleave sat with her hand
  shadowing her eyes. Her heart was here, but her heart was also with
  her other children, with Will and Miriam. Molly, who was Miriam’s age,
  kept beside her, a loving hand on her dress. Cousin William gave away
  the bride. An artillery commander, himself just out of hospital, stood
  with Cleave.—Oh, the grey uniforms, so worn and weather-stained for a
  wedding party!

  It was over—the guests were gone. The household, tremulous, between
  smiles and tears, went its several, accustomed ways. There was no
  wedding journey to be taken. All life was fitted now to a Doric
  simplicity, a grave acceptance of realities without filagree
  adornment. There was left a certain fair quietness, limpid sincerity,
  faith, and truth.... There was a quiet, cheerful supper, and
  afterwards a little talking together in the library, the reading of
  the Richmond papers, Unity singing to her guitar. Then at last
  good-nights were said. Judith and Cleave mounted the stairs together,
  entered hand in hand their room. The shutters were all opened; it lay,
  warmed by the glowing embers on the hearth, but yet in a flood of
  moonlight. His arm about her, they moved to the deep window-seat above
  the garden, knelt there and looked out. Valley and hill and distant
  mountains were all washed with silver.

  “The moon shone so that April night—that night after you overtook the
  carriage upon the road—and at last we understood ... I sat here all
  that night, in the moonlight.”

  “The garden where I said good-bye to you, a hundred years ago, the day
  after a tournament.... It does not look dead and cold and a winter
  night. It looks filled with lilies and roses and bright, waving
  trees—and if a bird is not singing down there, then it must be singing
  in my heart! It is singing somewhere!—Love is best.”

  “Love is best.”

  A week from this day he passed through Richmond on his way to the
  front. Richmond! Richmond looked to him like a prisoner doomed, and
  yet a quiet prisoner with a smile for children and the azure spaces in
  the winter sky. People were going in streams into the churches. The
  hospitals, they said, were very full. In all the departments, it was
  said, the important papers were kept packed in boxes, ready to be
  removed if there were need. No one any longer noticed the cannon to
  the south. They had been thundering there since June, and it was now
  March. There was very little to eat. Milk sold at four dollars a
  quart. And yet children played about the doors, and women smiled, and
  men and women went about the day’s work with sufficient heroism. “Dear
  Dick Ewell” had charge of the defences of Richmond, the slightly
  manned ring of forts, the Local Brigade, Custis Lee’s division at
  Chaffin’s Bluff. In the high, clear March air, ragged grey soldiers
  passed, honoured, through the streets, bugles blew, or drums beat. One
  caught the air of Dixie.

  Cleave rode out over Mayo’s Bridge and south through the war-scored
  country to Petersburg and the grey lines, to division headquarters and
  then to the Golden Brigade. The brigade and he met like tried friends,
  but the Sixty-fifth and he met like lovers.

  The lines at Petersburg!—stretched and stretched from the Appomattox,
  east of the town, to Five Forks and the White Oak Road, stretched
  until now, in places, there was scarcely more than a skirmish line,
  stretched to the breaking-point! The trenches at Petersburg!—clay
  ditches where men were drenched by the winter rains, pierced by the
  winter sleet, where they huddled or burrowed, scooping shallow caves
  with bayonet and tin cup, where hands and feet were frozen, where at
  night they watched the mortar shells, and at all hours heard the
  minies keening, where the smoke hung heavy, where the earth all about
  was raw and pitted, where every muscle rebelled, so cramped and weary
  of the trenches! where there were double watches and a man could not
  sleep enough, where there were nakedness and hunger and every woe but
  heat, where the sharpshooters picked off men, and the minies came with
  a whistle and killed them, and the bombs with a shriek and worked red
  havoc, where men showed a thousand weaknesses and again a thousand
  heroisms! Oh, the labyrinth of trenches, forts, traverses, roads,
  approaches, raw red clay, and trampled herbage, hillock and hollow,
  scored, seamed, and pitted mother earth, and over all the smoke and
  noise, blown by the March wind! And Petersburg itself, that had been a
  pleasant town, was a place of ruined houses and deserted streets! A
  bitter havoc had been wrought.

  The night of his return to the front Cleave stood with Fauquier Cary
  in an embrasure whence a gun had just been taken to strengthen another
  work, stood and looked first over the red wilderness of their own
  camp-fires, and then across a stripe of darkness to the long, deep,
  and vivid glow that marked the Federal lines. The night was cold but
  still, the stars extraordinarily bright. “For so long in that quiet
  room at Greenwood!” said Cleave. “And now this again! It has almost a
  novel look. There! What a great shell!”

  “Fireworks at the end,” answered Cary. “It is the end.”

  “Yes. It is evident.”

  “I have been,” said Cary, “for a day or two to Richmond, and I was
  shown there certain papers, memoranda, and estimates. I wish you would
  listen to three or four statements out of many.—‘Amount needed for
  absolutely necessary construction and repair of railroads if they are
  to serve any military purpose $21,000,000.’—‘The Commissary debt now
  exceeds $70,000,000.’—‘The debt to various factories exceeds
  $5,000,000.‘—‘The Medical Department asks for $40,000,000, at least
  for the current year.’—‘The Subsistence Bureau and the Nitre and
  Mining Bureau as well as other Departments are resorting to
  barter.’—‘Requisitions by the War Department upon the Treasury since
  ’61 amount to $1,737,746,121. Of the requisition for last year and
  this year, there is yet unfurnished $160,000,000. In addition the War
  Department has a further arrearage of say $200,000,000.’—This was a
  letter from one of the up-river counties patriotically proposing the
  use of cotton yarn or cloth as specie—thus reducing the necessity for
  the use of Treasury notes to the smallest possible limit! Let us see
  how it went.—First it proposed the removal of all factories to safe
  points near the mountains, where the water-power is abundant and
  approach by the enemy difficult. Next the establishment of small
  factories at various points of like character. Around these, as
  centres, it goes on to say, ‘the women of our country who have been
  deprived of all and driven from their homes by the enemy should be
  collected, together with the wives and daughters of soldiers and
  others in indigent circumstances. There they would not be likely to be
  disturbed by the enemy. Thus distributed they could be more easily
  fed, and the country be greatly benefited by their labours, which
  would be light and highly remunerative to them, thereby lessening the
  suffering at home and the consequently increasing discontent in the
  army. Cotton would be near at hand, labour abundant, and the necessity
  of the transportation of food and material to and from great centres
  of trade greatly reduced. We would furnish the women of the country
  generally with yarns and a simple and cheap pattern of looms, taking
  pay for the same in cloth made by them—’ et cætera!... How desperate
  we are, Richard, to entertain ourselves with foolery like this!—But
  the act to use the negroes as soldiers will go through. We have come
  to that. The only thing is that the war will be ended before they can
  be mustered in.”

  They turned in the embrasure and looked far and wide. It seemed a
  world of camp-fires. Far to the east, in the direction of City Point,
  some river battery or gun-boat was sending up rockets. Westward a blue
  fort began a sullen cannonade and a grey fort nearly opposite at once
  took up the challenge. “Fort Gregg,” said Cary, “dubbed by our men
  ‘Fort Hell,’ and Fort Mahone called by theirs ‘Fort Damnation.’”

  For all that the night itself was so clear and the stars so high and
  splendid, there was a murk discernible everywhere a few feet above the
  earth, rising like a miasma, with a faint, distasteful odour. Through
  it all the fires lit by men shone blurred. The cannon continued to
  thunder, and above their salients gathered clouds of coppery smoke. A
  half brigade passed on its way to strengthen some menaced place, and a
  neighbouring fire showed in series its face and form. The men looked
  dead for sleep, hollow-eyed, hollow-cheeked. They dragged their limbs,
  their heads drooped, their shoulders were bowed. They passed like dull
  and weary sheep. Fort Hell and Fort Damnation brought more guns into
  action.

  Cleave passed his hand before his eyes. “It’s not,” he said, “the way
  to settle it.”

  “Precisely not,” answered Cary. “It is not, and it never was, and it
  never will be. And that despite the glamour and the cry of
  ‘Necessity!’”

  “Little enough glamour to-night!”

  “I agree with you. The glamour is at the beginning. The necessity is
  to find a more heroic way.”

  The two went down from the embrasure and presently said goodnight.
  Cleave rode on—not to the house in which he was quartered, but to the
  portion of the lines where, he was told, would be found a command for
  which he had made enquiry. He found it and its colonel, asked a
  question or two, and at once obtained the request which he made, this
  being that he might speak to a certain soldier in such a company.

  The soldier came and faced Cleave where the latter waited for him
  beside a deserted camp-fire. The red light showed both their faces,
  worn and grave and self-contained. Off in the night and distance the
  two forts yet thundered, but all hereabouts was quiet, the fires dying
  down, the men sinking to rest. “Stafford,” said Cleave, “I have been
  lying wounded for a long while, and I have had time to look at man’s
  life, and the way we live it. It’s all a mystery, what we do, and what
  we do not do, and we stumble and stumble!...” He held out his hand.
  “Don’t let us be enemies any