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Title: The Scouts of Stonewall: The Story of the Great Valley Campaign
Author: Altsheler, Joseph A. (Joseph Alexander)
Language: English
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THE SCOUTS OF STONEWALL

THE STORY OF THE GREAT VALLEY CAMPAIGN

By Joseph A. Altsheler



FOREWORD


“The Scouts of Stonewall,” while an independent story, is in effect a
continuation of the series which began with “The Guns of Bull Run”
 and which was carried on in “The Guns of Shiloh.” The present romance
reverts to the Southern side, and is concerned with the fortunes of
Harry Kenton and his friends.


THE CIVIL WAR SERIES


 VOLUMES IN THE CIVIL WAR SERIES

  THE GUNS OF BULL RUN.
  THE GUNS OF SHILOH.
  THE SCOUTS OF STONEWALL.
  THE SWORD OF ANTIETAM.
  THE STAR OF GETTYSBURG.
  THE ROCK OF CHICKAMAUGA.
  THE SHADES OF THE WILDERNESS.
  THE TREE OF APPOMATTOX.


 PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS IN THE CIVIL WAR SERIES

  HARRY KENTON, A Lad Who Fights on the Southern Side.
  DICK MASON, Cousin of Harry Kenton, Who Fights on the Northern Side.
  COLONEL GEORGE KENTON, Father of Harry Kenton.
  MRS. MASON, Mother of Dick Mason.
  JULIANA, Mrs. Mason’s Devoted Colored Servant.
  COLONEL ARTHUR WINCHESTER, Dick Mason’s Regimental Commander.
  COLONEL LEONIDAS TALBOT, Commander of the Invincibles,
   a Southern Regiment.
  LIEUTENANT COLONEL HECTOR ST. HILAIRE, Second in Command of the
   Invincibles.
  ALAN HERTFORD, A Northern Cavalry Leader.
  PHILIP SHERBURNE, A Southern Cavalry Leader.
  WILLIAM J. SHEPARD, A Northern Spy.
  DANIEL WHITLEY, A Northern Sergeant and Veteran of the Plains.
  GEORGE WARNER, A Vermont Youth Who Loves Mathematics.
  FRANK PENNINGTON, A Nebraska Youth, Friend of Dick Mason.
  ARTHUR ST. CLAIR, A Native of Charleston, Friend of Harry Kenton.
  TOM LANGDON, Friend of Harry Kenton.
  GEORGE DALTON, Friend of Harry Kenton.
  BILL SKELLY, Mountaineer and Guerrilla.
  TOM SLADE, A Guerrilla Chief.
  SAM JARVIS, The Singing Mountaineer.
  IKE SIMMONS, Jarvis’ Nephew.
  AUNT “SUSE,” A Centenarian and Prophetess.
  BILL PETTY, A Mountaineer and Guide.
  JULIEN DE LANGEAIS, A Musician and Soldier from Louisiana.
  JOHN CARRINGTON, Famous Northern Artillery Officer.
  DR. RUSSELL, Principal of the Pendleton School.
  ARTHUR TRAVERS, A Lawyer.
  JAMES BERTRAND, A Messenger from the South.
  JOHN NEWCOMB, A Pennsylvania Colonel.
  JOHN MARKHAM, A Northern Officer.
  JOHN WATSON, A Northern Contractor.
  WILLIAM CURTIS, A Southern Merchant and Blockade Runner.
  MRS. CURTIS, Wife of William Curtis.
  HENRIETTA CARDEN, A Seamstress in Richmond.
  DICK JONES, A North Carolina Mountaineer.
  VICTOR WOODVILLE, A Young Mississippi Officer.
  JOHN WOODVILLE, Father of Victor Woodville.
  CHARLES WOODVILLE, Uncle of Victor Woodville.
  COLONEL BEDFORD, A Northern Officer.
  CHARLES GORDON, A Southern Staff Officer.
  JOHN LANHAM, An Editor.
  JUDGE KENDRICK, A Lawyer.
  MR. CULVER, A State Senator.
  MR. BRACKEN, A Tobacco Grower.
  ARTHUR WHITRIDGE, A State Senator.


 HISTORICAL CHARACTERS

  ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States.
  JEFFERSON DAVIS, President of the Southern Confederacy.
  JUDAH P. BENJAMIN, Member of the Confederate Cabinet.
  U. S. GRANT, Northern Commander.
  ROBERT E. LEE, Southern Commander.
  STONEWALL JACKSON, Southern General.
  PHILIP H. SHERIDAN, Northern General.
  GEORGE H. THOMAS, “The Rock of Chickamauga.”
   ALBERT SIDNEY JOHNSTON, Southern General.
  A. P. HILL, Southern General.
  W. S. HANCOCK, Northern General.
  GEORGE B. McCLELLAN, Northern General.
  AMBROSE E. BURNSIDE, Northern General.
  TURNER ASHBY, Southern Cavalry Leader.
  J. E. B. STUART, Southern Cavalry Leader.
  JOSEPH HOOKER, Northern General.
  RICHARD S. EWELL, Southern General.
  JUBAL EARLY, Southern General.
  WILLIAM S. ROSECRANS, Northern General.
  SIMON BOLIVAR BUCKNER, Southern General.
  LEONIDAS POLK, Southern General and Bishop.
  BRAXTON BRAGG, Southern General.
  NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST, Southern Cavalry Leader.
  JOHN MORGAN, Southern Cavalry Leader.
  GEORGE J. MEADE, Northern General.
  DON CARLOS BUELL, Northern General.
  W. T. SHERMAN, Northern General.
  JAMES LONGSTREET, Southern General.
  P. G. T. BEAUREGARD, Southern General.
  WILLIAM L. YANCEY, Alabama Orator.
  JAMES A. GARFIELD, Northern General, afterwards President of
   the United States.

  And many others


 IMPORTANT BATTLES DESCRIBED IN THE CIVIL WAR SERIES

  BULL RUN
  KERNSTOWN
  CROSS KEYS
  WINCHESTER
  PORT REPUBLIC
  THE SEVEN DAYS
  MILL SPRING
  FORT DONELSON
  SHILOH
  PERRYVILLE
  STONE RIVER
  THE SECOND MANASSAS
  ANTIETAM
  FREDERICKSBURG
  CHANCELLORSVILLE
  GETTYSBURG
  CHAMPION HILL
  VICKSBURG
  CHICKAMAUGA
  MISSIONARY RIDGE
  THE WILDERNESS
  SPOTTSYLVANIA
  COLD HARBOR
  FISHER’S HILL
  CEDAR CREEK
  APPOMATTOX



CONTENTS

    I.    IN THE VALLEY

   II.    THE FOOT CAVALRY

  III.    STONEWALL JACKSON’S MARCH

   IV.    WAR AND WAITING

    V.    THE NORTHERN ADVANCE

   VI.    KERNSTOWN

  VII.    ON THE RIDGES

 VIII.    THE MOUNTAIN BATTLE

   IX.    TURNING ON THE FOE

    X.    WINCHESTER

   XI.    THE NIGHT RIDE

  XII.    THE CLOSING CIRCLE

 XIII.    THE SULLEN RETREAT

  XIV.    THE DOUBLE BATTLE

   XV.    THE SEVEN DAYS



THE SCOUTS OF STONEWALL



CHAPTER I. IN THE VALLEY


A young officer in dingy Confederate gray rode slowly on a powerful
bay horse through a forest of oak. It was a noble woodland, clear of
undergrowth, the fine trees standing in rows, like those of a park. They
were bare of leaves but the winter had been mild so far, and a carpet of
short grass, yet green, covered the ground. To the rider’s right flowed
a small river of clear water, one of the beautiful streams of the great
Virginia valleys.

Harry Kenton threw his head back a little and drew deep breaths of the
cool, crisp air. The light wind had the touch of life in it. As the
cool puffs blew upon him and filled his lungs his chest expanded and
his strong pulses beat more strongly. But a boy in years, he had already
done a man’s work, and he had been through those deeps of passion and
despair which war alone brings.

A year spent in the open and with few nights under roof had enlarged
Harry Kenton’s frame and had colored his face a deep red. His great
ancestor, Henry Ware, had been very fair, and Harry, like him, became
scarlet of cheek under the beat of wind and rain.

Had anyone with a discerning eye been there, to see, he would have
called this youth one of the finest types of the South that rode forth
so boldly to war. He sat his saddle with the ease and grace that come
only of long practice, and he controlled his horse with the slightest
touch of the rein. The open, frank face showed hate of nobody, although
the soul behind it was devoted without any reserve to the cause for
which he fought.

Harry was on scout duty. Although an officer on the staff of Colonel
Talbot, commander of the Invincibles, originally a South Carolina
regiment, he had developed so much skill in forest and field, he had
such acuteness of eye and ear, that he was sent often to seek the camps
of the enemy or to discover his plans. His friends said that these
forest powers were inherited, that they came from some far-away ancestor
who had spent his life in the wilderness, and Harry knew that what they
said was true.

Despite the peaceful aspect of the forest and the lack of human presence
save his own, he rode now on an errand that was full of danger. The
Union camp must lie on the other side of that little river, not many
miles farther on, and he might meet, at any moment, the pickets of the
foe. He meant to take the uttermost risk, but he had no notion of being
captured. He would suffer anything, any chance, rather than that. He had
lately come into contact with a man who had breathed into him the fire
and spirit belonging to legendary heroes. To this man, short of words
and plain of dress, nothing was impossible, and Harry caught from him
not merely the belief, but the conviction also.

Late in the autumn the Invincibles, who had suffered severely at Bull
Run and afterward had been cut down greatly in several small actions in
the mountains, had been transferred to the command of Stonewall Jackson
in the Shenandoah Valley. Disease and the hospital had reduced the
regiment to less than three hundred, but their spirits were as high as
ever. Their ranks were renewed partly with Virginians. Colonel Talbot
and Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire had recovered from small wounds, and
St. Clair and Langdon were whole and as hard as iron. After a period of
waiting they were now longing for action.

There was some complaint among the Invincibles when they were detached
from the main army to the service of Jackson, but Harry did not share
in it. When he heard of the order he remembered that dread afternoon at
Bull Run, when all seemed lost, and the most vivid of his memories was
the calm figure riding back and forth just beyond the pines among which
he stood, and gathering for a fresh charge the stern ranks of his men
who were to turn almost sure defeat into absolutely sure victory. The
picture of the man in the heart of that red glare among the showers of
bullets had been burned so deeply into Harry’s memory that he could call
it up, almost as vivid as life itself at any time. Surely that was a
leader to follow, and he, at least, would wish to ride where Stonewall
led.

But action did not come as soon as he had expected. Jackson was held by
commands from Richmond. The great army of the South waited, because the
great army of the North, under McClellan, also waited and temporized
while the autumn was passing fast.

But Jackson, while held in the bonds of orders, did not sleep. The most
active youth of his command rode day and night toward the northern
end of the valley, where the forces of the Union were gathering. The
movements of Banks and Kelly and the other Northern commanders were
watched continually by keen eyes trained in the southern forests. Slim
striplings passed in the night through the little towns, and the people,
intensely loyal to the South, gave them the news of everything.

Harry had seen the whole autumn pass and winter come, and the war, save
for a fitful skirmish now and then, stood at a pause in the valley. Yet
he rode incessantly, both with the others and alone, on scouting duty.
He knew every square mile of the country over a wide range, and he had
passed whole nights in the forest, when hail or snow was whistling by.
But these had been few. Mostly mild winds blew and the hoofs of his
horse fell on green turf.

Harry was intensely alert now. He was far from his command, and he knew
that he must see and hear everything or he would soon be in the hands of
the enemy. He rode on rather slowly, and amid continued silence. He saw
on his left a white house with green shutters and a portico. But the
shutters were closed tightly and no smoke rose from the chimneys.
Although house and grounds showed no touch of harm, they seemed to bear
the brand of desolation. The owners had fled, knowing that the sinister
march of war would pass here.

Harry’s mood changed suddenly from gladness to depression. The
desolate house brought home to him the terrible nature of war. It meant
destruction, wounds and death, and they were all the worse because it
was a nation divided against itself, people of the same blood and the
same traditions fighting one another.

But youth cannot stay gloomy long, and his spirits presently flowed
back. There was too much tang and life in that crisp wind from the west
for his body to droop, and a lad could not be sad long, with brilliant
sunshine around him and that shining little river before him.

The thrill of high adventure shot up from his soul. He had ceased to
hate the Northern soldiers, if he had ever hated them at all. Now
they were merely brave opponents, with whom he contended, and success
demanded of either skill, daring and energy to the utmost degree. He was
resolved not to fail in any of these qualities.

He left the desolate house a mile behind, and then the river curved a
little. The woods on the farther shore came down in dense masses to the
edge of the stream, and despite the lack of foliage Harry could not see
far into them. The strong, inherited instincts leaped up. His nostrils
expanded and a warning note was sounded somewhere in the back of his
brain.

He turned his horse to the left and entered the forest on his own side
of the river. They were ancient trees that he rode among, with many
drooping and twisted boughs, and he was concealed well, although he
could yet see from his covert the river and the forest on the other
shore.

The song of a trumpet suddenly came from the deep woodland across the
shining stream. It was a musical song, mellow and triumphant on every
key, and the forest and hills on either shore gave it back, soft and
beautiful on its dying echoes. It seemed to Harry that the volume of
sound, rounded and full, must come from a trumpet of pure gold. He had
read the old romances of the Round Table, and for the moment his
head was full of them. Some knight in the thicket was sending forth a
challenge to him.

But Harry gave no answering defiance. Now the medieval glow was gone,
and he was modern and watchful to the core. He had felt instinctively
that it was a trumpet of the foe, and the Northern trumpets were not
likely to sing there in Virginia unless many Northern horsemen rode
together.

Then he saw their arms glinting among the trees, the brilliant beams of
the sun dancing on the polished steel of saber hilt and rifle barrel.
A minute more, and three hundred Union horsemen emerged from the forest
and rode, in beautiful order, down to the edge of the stream.

Harry regarded them with an admiration which was touched by no hate.
They were heavily built, strong young men, riding powerful horses, and
it was easy for anyone to see that they had been drilled long and well.
Their clothes and arms were in perfect order, every horse had been
tended as if it were to be entered in a ring for a prize. It was his
thought that they were not really enemies, but worthy foes. That ancient
spirit of the tournament, where men strove for the sake of striving,
came to him again.

The Union horsemen rode along the edge of the stream a little space,
and then plunged into a ford. The water rose to their saddle skirts, but
they preserved their even line and Harry still admired. When all were on
his own shore the golden trumpet sang merrily again, and they turned the
heads of their horses southward.

Harry rode deeper into the ancient wood. They might throw out scouts or
skirmishers and he had no mind to be taken. It was his belief that they
came from Romney, where a Northern army had gathered in great force and
would eventually march toward Jackson at Winchester. But whatever their
errand, here was something for him to watch, and he meant to know what
they intended.

The Northern troop, youths also, the average of their age not much more
than twenty, rode briskly along the edge of the little river, which was
a shining one for them, too, as well as Harry. They knew that no enemy
in force was near, and they did not suspect that a single horseman
followed, keeping in the edge of the woods, his eyes missing nothing
that they did.

As for themselves, they were in the open now and the brilliant sunshine
quickened their blood. Some of them had been at Bull Run, but the sting
of that day was going with time. They were now in powerful force at the
head of the great Virginia valleys, and they would sweep down them with
such impact that nothing could stand before them. The trumpet sang its
mellow triumphant note again, and from across a far range of hills came
its like, a low mellow note, faint, almost an echo, but a certain reply.
It was the answer from another troop of their men who rode on a parallel
line several miles away.

The lone lad in the edge of the forest heard the distant note also, but
he gave it no heed. His eyes were always for the troop before him. He
had already learned from Stonewall Jackson that you cannot do two things
at once, but the one thing that you do you must do with all your might.

The troop presently left the river and entered the fields from which
the crops had been reaped long since. When the horsemen came to a fence
twelve men dismounted and threw down enough panels for the others to
ride through without breaking their formation. Everything was done with
order and precision. Harry could not keep from admiring. It was not
often that he saw so early in the war troops who were drilled so
beautifully, and who marched so well together.

Harry always kept on the far side of the fields, and as the fences were
of rails with stakes and riders he was able by bending very low in the
saddle to keep hidden behind them. Nevertheless it was delicate work. He
was sure that if seen he could escape to the forest through the speed
of his horse. But he did not want to be driven off. He wished to follow
that troop to its ultimate destination.

Another mile or two and the Union force bore away to the right, entering
the forest and following a road, where the men rode in files, six
abreast. They did not make much noise, beyond the steady beating of the
hoofs, but they did not seem to seek concealment. Harry made the obvious
deduction that they thought themselves too far beyond the range of the
Southern scouts to be noticed. He felt a thrill of satisfaction, because
he was there and he had seen them.

He rode in the forest parallel with the troop and at a distance of about
four hundred yards. There was scattered undergrowth, enough to hide
him, but not enough to conceal those three hundred men who rode in close
files along a well-used road.

Harry soon saw the forest thinning ahead of him and then the trumpet
sang its mellow, golden note again. From a point perhaps a mile ahead
came a reply, also the musical call of the trumpet. Not an echo, but
the voice of a second trumpet, and now Harry knew that another force was
coming to join the first. All his pulses began to beat hard, not
with nervousness, but with intense eagerness to know what was afoot.
Evidently it must be something of importance or strong bodies of Union
cavalry would not be meeting in the woods in this manner.

After the reply neither trumpet sounded again, and the troop that Harry
was following stopped while yet in the woods. He rode his horse behind a
tall and dense clump of bushes, where, well hidden, he could yet see all
that might happen, and waited.

He heard in a few minutes the beat of many hoofs upon the hard road,
advancing with the precision and regularity of trained cavalry. He saw
the head of a column emerge upon the road and an officer ride forward
to meet the commander of the first troop. They exchanged a few words and
then the united force rode southward through the open woods, with the
watchful lad always hanging on their rear.

Harry judged that the new troop numbered about five hundred men, and
eight hundred cavalry would not march on any mere scouting expedition.
His opinion that this was a ride of importance now became a conviction,
and he hardened his purpose to follow them to the end, no matter what
the risk.

It was now about noon, and the sun became warm despite the December day.
The turf softened under the rays and the Union cavalry left an immense
wide trail through the forest. It was impossible to miss it, and Harry,
careful not to ride into an ambush of rear guard pickets, dropped back a
little, and also kept slightly to the left of the great trail. He could
not see the soldiers now, but occasionally he heard the deep sound of so
many hoofs sinking into the soft turf. Beyond that turfy sigh no sound
from the marching men came to him.

The Union troop halted about two o’clock in the afternoon, and the men
ate cold food from the knapsacks. They also rested a full hour, and
Harry, watching from a distance, felt sure that their lack of hurry
indicated a night attack of some kind. They had altered their course
slightly, twice, and when they started anew they did so a third time.

Now their purpose occurred suddenly to Harry. It came in a flash of
intuition, and he did not again doubt it for a moment. The head of the
column was pointed straight toward a tiny village in which food and
ammunition for Stonewall Jackson were stored. The place did not have
more than a dozen houses, but one of them was a huge tobacco barn
stuffed with powder, lead, medicines, which were already worth their
weight in gold in the Confederacy, and other invaluable supplies. It had
been planned to begin their removal on the morrow to the Southern camp
at Winchester, but it would be too late unless he intervened.

If he did not intervene! He, a boy, riding alone through the forest, to
defeat the energies of so many men, equipped splendidly! The Confederacy
was almost wholly agricultural, and was able to produce few such
supplies of its own. Nor could it obtain them in great quantities from
Europe as the Northern navy was drawing its belt of steel about the
Southern coasts. That huge tobacco barn contained a treasure beyond
price, and Harry was resolved to save it.

He did not yet know how he would save it, but he felt that he would. All
the courage of those border ancestors who won every new day of life
as the prize of skill and courage sprang up in him. It was no vain
heritage. Happy chance must aid those who trusted, and, taking a
deep curve to the left, he galloped through the woods. His horse
comparatively fresh after easy riding, went many miles without showing
any signs of weariness.

The boy knew the country well, and it was the object of his circuit to
take him ahead of the Union troop and to the village which held a
small guard of perhaps two hundred men. If the happy chance in which he
trusted should fail him after all, these men could carry off a part of
the supplies, and the rest could be destroyed to keep them from falling
into Northern hands.

He gave his horse a little breathing space and then galloped harder
than ever, reckoning that he would reach the village in another hour. He
turned from the woods into one of the narrow roads between farms, just
wide enough for wagons, and increased his speed.

The afternoon sun was declining, filling the west with dusky gold, and
Harry still rode at a great pace along the rough road, wondering all
the while what would be the nature of the lucky chance, in which he was
trusting so firmly. Lower sank the sun and the broad band of dusky gold
was narrowing before the advance of the twilight. The village was not
now more than two miles away, and the road dipped down before him.
Sounds like that made by the force behind him, the rattle of arms, the
creak of leather and the beat of hoofs, came suddenly to his ears.

Harry halted abruptly and reined his horse into some bushes beside the
road. Then he heard the sounds more plainly. They were made by cavalry,
riding slowly. The great pulses in his throat leaped in quick alarm.
Was it possible that they had sent a portion of their force swiftly by
another route, and that it was now between him and the village?

He listened again and with every faculty strained. The cavalrymen were
riding toward him and they could not be a part of the Union force. Then
they must be of his own South. Surely this was the happy chance of which
he had dreamed! Again the great pulses leaped, but with a different
emotion.

Scorning every risk, he reined his horse back into the road and rode
straight forward. The heads of men were just topping the rise, and a few
moments later they and the horses they bestrode came into full view. It
was a thankful thrill that shot through him now. The sun, almost sunk,
sent a last golden shower across them and disclosed the dingy gray of
their uniforms and the lean, tanned faces.

Uttering a shout of joy and holding up a hand to show that he was a
friend, Harry galloped forward. A young man at the head of the troop, a
captain by his uniform, and evidently the leader, gave the signal to his
men to stop, and received the boy who came alone.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I’m Harry Kenton, a lieutenant in the army of Stonewall Jackson, and
an aide on the staff of Colonel Leonidas Talbot, colonel of the regiment
known as the Invincibles.”

“I’ve heard of that regiment. South Carolinians at first, but now mostly
Virginians.”

“The Virginians filled up the gaps that were made on the battlefield.”

Harry spoke proudly, and the young captain smiled. The boy regarded
him with increasing interest. Somehow he was reminded of Jeb Stuart,
although this man was younger, not having passed his boyhood long.

It was evident that he was tall. Thick, yellow curls showed from under
the edge of his cap. His face, like Harry’s, had turned red before wind
and rain. His dress was a marvel, made of the finest gray without a spot
or stain. A sash of light blue silk encircled his waist, and the costly
gray cloak thrown back a little from his shoulders revealed a silk
lining of the same delicate blue tint. His gauntlets were made of the
finest buckskin, and a gold-hilted small sword swung from his sash.

“A dandy,” thought Harry, “but the bravest of the brave, for all that.”

“My name’s Sherburne, Captain Philip Sherburne,” said the young leader.
“I’m from the Valley of Virginia, and so are my men. We belong to
Stonewall Jackson’s army, too, but we’ve been away most of the time on
scouting duty. That’s the reason you don’t know us. We’re going toward
Winchester, after another of our fruitless rides.”

“But it won’t be fruitless this time!” exclaimed Harry, eagerly. “A
Union force of nearly a thousand men is on its way to destroy the
stores at the village, the stores that were to be moved to a safer place
to-morrow!”

“How do you know?”

“I’ve seen ‘em. I was behind ‘em at first and followed ‘em for a long
time before I guessed their purpose. Then I curved about ‘em, galloped
through the woods, and rode on here, hoping for the lucky chance that
has come with you.”

Harry, as he spoke, saw the eyes of the young captain leap and flame,
and he knew he was in the presence of one of those knightly souls,
thrown up so often in the war, most often by the border States. They
were youths who rode forth to battle in the spirit of high romance.

“You ask us to go back to the village and help defend the stores?” said
Philip Sherburne.

“That’s just what I do ask--and expect.”

“Of course. We’d have done it without the asking, and glad of it. What a
chance for us, as well as for you!”

He turned and faced his men. The golden glow of the sun was gone now,
but a silver tint from the twilight touched his face. Harry saw there
the blaze of the knightly spirit that craved adventure.

“Men,” he said in clear, happy tones, “we’ve ridden for days and days in
quests that brought nothing. Now the enemy is at hand, nearly a thousand
strong, and means to destroy our stores. There are two hundred of you
and there are two hundred more guarding the stores. If there’s a single
one among you who says he must ride on to Winchester, let him hold up
his hand.”

Not a hand was raised, and the bold young captain laughed.

“I don’t need to put the other side of the question,” he said to Harry.
“They’re as eager as I am to scorch the faces of the Yankees.”

The order was given to turn and ride. The “men,” not one of whom was
over twenty-five, obeyed it eagerly, and galloped for the village, every
heart throbbing with the desire for action. They were all from the rich
farms in the valleys. Splendid horsemen, fine marksmen, and alive with
youth and courage, no deed was too great for them. Harry was proud
to ride with them, and he told more of the story to Sherburne as they
covered the short distance to the village.

“Old Jack would order us to do just what we’re doing,” said Sherburne.
“He wants his officers to obey orders, but he wants them to think, too.”

Harry saw his eyes flash again, and something in his own mind answered
to the spirit of adventure which burned so brightly in this young man.
He looked over the troop, and as far as he could see the faces of all
were flushed with the same hope. He knew with sudden certainty that the
Union forces would never take that warehouse and its precious contents.
These were the very flower of that cavalry of the South destined to
become so famous.

“You know the village?” said Sherburne to Harry.

“Yes, I passed there last night.”

“What defense has it?”

“About two hundred men. They are strangers to the region, drawn from the
Tidewater country, and I don’t think they’re as good as most of General
Jackson’s men.”

“Lack of discipline, you think?”

“Yes, but the material is fine.”

“All right. Then we’ll see that they acquire discipline. Nothing like
the enemy’s fire to teach men what war is.”

They were riding at good speed toward the village, while they talked,
and Harry had become at once the friend and lieutenant of young Captain
Sherburne. His manner was so pleasant, so intimate, so full of charm,
that he did not have the power or the will to resist it.

They soon saw Hertford, a village so little that it was not able to put
itself on the map. It stood on the crest of a low hill, and the tobacco
barn was about as large as all the other buildings combined. The
twilight had now merged into night, but there was a bright sky and
plenty of stars, and they saw well.

Captain Sherburne stopped his troop at a distance of three or four
hundred yards, while they were still under cover of the forest.

“What’s the name of the commander there?” he asked.

“McGee,” Harry replied. “Means well, but rather obstinate.”

“That’s the way with most of these untrained men. We mustn’t risk being
shot up by those whom we’ve come to help. Lasley, give them a call from
the bugle. Make it low and soft though. We don’t want those behind us to
hear it.”

Lasley, a boy no older than Harry, rode forward a dozen yards in front
of the troop, put his bugle to his lips and blew a soft, warning call.
Harry had been stirred by the first sound of a hostile trumpet hours
before, and now this, the note of a friend, thrilled him again. He gazed
intently at the village, knowing that the pickets would be on watch, and
presently he saw men appear at the edge of the hill just in front of
the great warehouse. They were the pickets, beyond a doubt, because the
silver starshine glinted along the blades of their bayonets.

The bugler gave one more call. It was a soft and pleasing sound. It said
very plainly that the one who blew and those with him were friends.
Two men in uniform joined the pickets beside the warehouse, and looked
toward the point whence the note of the bugle came.

“Forward!” said Captain Philip Sherburne, himself leading the way, Harry
by his side. The troops, wheeling back into the road and marching by
fours in perfect order, rode straight toward the village.

“Who comes?” was the stern hail.

“A troop of Stonewall Jackson’s cavalry to help you,” replied Sherburne.
“You are about to be attacked by a Northern division eight hundred
strong.”

“Who says so?” came the question in a tone tinged with unbelief, and
Harry knew that it was the stubborn and dogmatic McGee who spoke.

“Lieutenant Harry Kenton of the Invincibles, one of Stonewall Jackson’s
best regiments, has seen them. You know him; he was here yesterday.”

As he spoke, Captain Sherburne sprang from his horse and pointed to
Harry.

“You remember me, Captain McGee,” said Harry. “I stopped with you a
minute yesterday. I rode on a scouting expedition, and I have seen the
Union force myself. It outnumbers us at least two to one, but we’ll have
the advantage of the defense.”

“Yes, I know you,” said McGee, his heavy and strong, but not very
intelligent face, brightening a little. “But it’s a great responsibility
I’ve got here. We ought to have had more troops to defend such valuable
stores. I’ve got two hundred men, captain, and I should say that you’ve
about the same.”

It was then that Captain Philip Sherburne showed his knightly character,
speaking words that made Harry’s admiration of him immense.

“I haven’t any men, Captain McGee,” he said, “but you have four hundred,
and I’ll help my commander as much as I can.”

McGee’s eyes gleamed. Harry saw that while not of alert mind he was
nevertheless a gentleman.

“We work together, Captain Sherburne,” he said gratefully, “and I thank
God you’ve come. What splendid men you have!”

Captain Sherburne’s eyes gleamed also. This troop of his was his pride,
and he sought always to keep it bright and sharp like a polished sword
blade.

“Whatever you wish, Captain McGee. But it will take us all to repel
the enemy. Kenton here, who saw them well, says they have a fine,
disciplined force.”

The men now dismounted and led their horses to a little grove just in
the rear of the warehouse, where they were tethered under the guard of
the villagers, all red-hot partisans of the South. Then the four hundred
men, armed with rifles and carbines, disposed themselves about the
warehouse, the bulk of them watching the road along which the attacking
force was almost sure to come.

Harry took his place with Sherburne, and once more he was compelled
to admire the young captain’s tact and charm of manner. He directed
everything by example and suggestion, but all the while he made the
heavy Captain McGee think that he himself was doing it.

Sherburne and Harry walked down the road a little distance.

“Aren’t you glad to be here, Kenton?” asked the captain in a somewhat
whimsical tone.

“I’m glad to help, of course.”

“Yes, but there’s more. When I came to war I came to fight. And if we
save the stores look how we’ll stand in Old Jack’s mind. Lord, Kenton,
but he’s a queer man! You’d never take any notice of him, if you didn’t
know who he was, but I’d rather have one flash of approval from those
solemn eyes of his than whole dictionaries of praise from all the other
generals I know.”

“I saw him at Bull Run, when he saved the day.”

“So did I. The regiment that I was with didn’t come up until near the
close, but our baptism of battle was pretty thorough, all the same.
Hark! did you think you heard anything, Kenton?”

Harry listened attentively.

“Yes, I hear something,” he replied. “It’s very soft, but I should say
that it’s the distant beat of hoofs.”

“And of many hoofs.”

“So I think.”

“Then it’s our friends of the North, coming to take what we want to
keep. A few minutes more, Kenton, and they’ll be here.”

They slipped back toward the warehouse, and Harry’s heart began to throb
heavily. He knew that Sherburne’s words would soon come true.



CHAPTER II. THE FOOT CAVALRY


Captain Sherburne told Captain McGee that the invaders were coming,
and there was a stir in the ranks of the defenders. The cavalrymen,
disciplined and eager, said nothing, but merely moved a little in order
to see better along the road over which the enemy was advancing. The
original defenders, who were infantry, talked in whispers, despite
commands, and exchanged doubts and apprehensions.

Harry walked up and down in front of the warehouse with Captain
Sherburne, and both watched the road.

“If we only had a little artillery, just a light gun or two,” said
Sherburne, “we’d give ‘em such a surprise that they’d never get over
it.”

“But we haven’t got it.”

“No, we haven’t, but maybe rifles and carbines will serve.”

The hoofbeats were fast growing louder, and Harry knew that the head of
the Northern column would appear in a minute or two. Every light in the
warehouse or about it and all in the village had been extinguished, but
the moonlight was clear and more stars had come into the full sky.

“We can see well enough for a fight,” murmured Captain Sherburne.

Everybody could hear the hoofbeats now, and again there was a stir in
the ranks of the defenders. The dark line appeared in the road three or
four hundred yards away and then, as the horsemen emerged into the open,
they deployed rapidly by companies. They, too, were trained men, and
keen eyes among their officers caught sight of the armed dark line
before the warehouse. The voice of the trumpet suddenly pealed forth
again, and now it was loud and menacing.

“It’s the charge!” cried Sherburne, “and I can see that they’re all you
said, Kenton! A magnificent body, truly! Ready, men! Ready! For God’s
sake don’t fire too soon! Wait for the word! Wait for the word!”

He was all the leader now, and in the excitement of the moment McGee did
not notice it. The superior mind, the one keen to see and to act, was in
control.

“Here, Kenton!” cried Sherburne, “hold back these recruits! My own men
will do exactly as I say!”

Harry ran along the infantry line, and here and there he knocked down
rifles which were raised already, although the enemy was yet three
hundred yards away. But he saw a figure in front of the charging
horsemen wave a sword. Then the trumpet blew another call, short but
fierce and menacing, and the ground thundered as nearly a thousand
horsemen swept forward, uttering a tremendous shout, their sabers
flashing in the moonlight.

Harry felt a moment of admiration and then another moment of pity.
These men, charging so grandly, did not know that the defenders had been
reinforced. Nor did they know that they rode straight to what was swift
and sudden death for many of them.

It was hard to stand steady and not pull the trigger, while that line of
flashing steel galloped upon them, but the dismounted cavalrymen looked
to their leader for commands, and the officer held the infantry. Harry’s
moment of admiration and pity passed. These were soldiers coming to
defeat and destroy, and it was his business to help prevent it. His own
pulse of battle began to beat hard.

That front of steel, spread wide across the open, was within two hundred
yards now! Then a hundred and fifty! Then a hundred! Then less, and
fierce and sharp like the crack of a rifle came Captain Sherburne’s
command: “Fire!”

Four hundred rifles leaped to the shoulder and four hundred fingers
pressed trigger so close together that four hundred rifles sang together
as one. The charge halted in its tracks. The entire front rank was shot
away. Horses and men went down together, and the horses uttered neighs
of pain, far more terrific than the groans of the wounded men. Many of
them, riderless, galloped up and down between the lines.

But the splendid horsemen behind came on again, after the momentary
stop. Half of them armed with short carbines sent a volley at the
defenders, who were shoving in cartridges in frantic haste, and the
swordsmen galloped straight upon the Virginians.

Harry saw a great saber flashing directly in his face. It was wielded
by a man on a powerful horse that seemed wild with the battle fever. The
horse, at the moment, was more terrible than his rider. His mouth was
dripping with foam, and his lips were curled back from his cruel, white
teeth. His eyes, large and shot with blood, were like those of some
huge, carnivorous animal.

The boy recoiled, more in fear of the horse than of the saber, and
snatching a heavy pistol from his belt, fired directly at the great
foam-flecked head. The horse crashed down, but his rider sprang clear
and retreated into the smoke. Almost at the same instant the defenders
had fired the second volley, and the charge was beaten back from their
very faces.

The Southerners at the war’s opening had the advantage of an almost
universal familiarity with the rifle, and now they used it well.
Sherburne’s two hundred men, always cool and steady, fired like trained
marksmen, and the others did almost as well. Most of them had new
rifles, using cartridges, and no cavalry on earth could stand before
such a fire.

Harry again saw the flashing sabers more than once, and there was a
vast turmoil of fire and smoke in front of him, but in a few minutes the
trumpet sounded again, loud and clear over the crash of battle, and now
it was calling to the men to come back.

The two forces broke apart. The horsemen, save for the wounded and dead,
retreated to the forest, and the defenders, victorious for the present,
fired no more, while the wounded, who could, crawled away to shelter.
They reloaded their rifles and at first there was no exultation. They
barely had time to think of anything. The impact had been so terrible
and there had been such a blaze of firing that they were yet in a daze,
and scarcely realized what had happened.

“Down, men! Down!” cried Captain Sherburne, as he ran along the line.
“They’ll open fire from the wood!”

All the defenders threw themselves upon the ground and lay there, much
less exposed and also concealed partly. One edge of the wood ran within
two hundred yards of the warehouse, and presently the Northern soldiers,
hidden behind the trees at that point, opened a heavy rifle fire.
Bullets whistled over the heads of the defenders, and kept up a constant
patter upon the walls of the warehouse, but did little damage.

A few of the men in gray had been killed, and all the wounded were taken
inside the warehouse, into which the great tobacco barn had been turned.
Two competent surgeons attended to them by the light of candles, while
the garrison outside lay still and waiting under the heavy fire.

“A waste of lead,” said Sherburne to Harry. “They reckon, perhaps, that
we’re all recruits, and will be frightened into retreat or surrender.”

“If we had those guns now we could clear out the woods in short order,”
 said Harry.

“And if they had ‘em they could soon blow up this barn, everything in it
and a lot of us at the same time. So we are more than even on the matter
of the lack of guns.”

The fire from the wood died in about fifteen minutes and was succeeded
by a long and trying silence. The light of the moon deepened, and
silvered the faces of the dead lying in the open. All the survivors of
the attack were hidden, but the defenders knew that they were yet in the
forest.

“Kenton,” said Captain Sherburne, “you know the way to General Jackson’s
camp at Winchester.”

“I’ve been over it a dozen times.”

“Then you must mount and ride. This force is sitting down before us for
a siege, and it probably has pickets about the village, but you must
get through somehow. Bring help! The Yankees are likely to send back for
help, too, but we’ve got to win here.”

“I’m off in five minutes,” said Harry, “and I’ll come with a brigade by
dawn.”

“I believe you will,” said Sherburne. “But get to Old Jack! Get there!
If you can only reach him, we’re saved! He may not have any horsemen at
hand, but his foot cavalry can march nearly as fast! Lord, how Stonewall
Jackson can cover ground!”

Their hands met in the hearty grasp of a friendship which was already
old and firm, and Harry, without looking back, slipped into the wood,
where the men from the village were watching over the horses. Sherburne
had told him to take any horse he needed, but he chose his own,
convinced that he had no equal, slipped into the saddle, and rode to the
edge of the wood.

“There’s a creek just back of us; you can see the water shining through
the break in the trees,” said a man who kept the village store. “The
timber’s pretty thick along it, and you’d best keep in its shelter.
Here, you Tom, show him the way.”

A boy of fourteen stepped up to the horse’s head.

“My son,” said the storekeeper. “He knows every inch of the ground.”

But Harry waved him back.

“No,” he said. “I’ll be shot at, and the boy on foot can’t escape. I’ll
find my way through. No, I tell you he must not go!”

He almost pushed back the boy who was eager for the task, rode out
of the wood which was on the slope of the hill away from the point of
attack, and gained the fringe of timber along the creek. It was about
fifty yards from cover to cover, but he believed he had not been seen,
as neither shout nor shot followed him.

Yet the Union pickets could not be far away. He had seen enough to know
that the besiegers were disciplined men led by able officers and they
would certainly make a cordon about the whole Southern position.

He rode his horse into a dense clump of trees and paused to listen.
He heard nothing but the faint murmur of the creek, and the occasional
rustle of dry branches as puffs of wind passed. He dismounted for the
sake of caution and silence as far as possible, and led his horse down
the fringe of trees, always keeping well under cover.

Another hundred yards and he stopped again to listen. All those old
inherited instincts and senses leaped into life. He was, for the moment,
the pioneer lad, seeking to detect the ambush of his foe. Now, his acute
ears caught the hostile sound. It was low, merely the footsteps of a
man, steadily walking back and forth.

Harry peeped from his covert and saw a Union sentinel not far away,
pacing his beat, rifle on shoulder, the point of the bayonet tipped with
silver flame from the moon. And he saw further on another sentinel, and
then another, all silent and watchful. He knew that the circle about the
defense was complete.

He could have escaped easily through the line, had he been willing to
leave his horse, and for a few moments he was sorely tempted to do so,
but he recalled that time was more precious than jewels. If he ever got
beyond the line of pickets he must go and go fast.

He was three or four hundred yards from the village and no one had
yet observed him, but he did not believe that he could go much farther
undetected. Some one was bound to hear the heavy footsteps of the horse.

The creek shallowed presently and the banks became very low. Then Harry
decided suddenly upon his course. He would put everything to the touch
and win or lose in one wild dash. Springing upon the back of his horse,
he raked him with the spur and put him straight at the creek. The
startled animal was across in two jumps, and then Harry sent him racing
across the fields. He heard two or three shouts and several shots, but
fortunately none touched him or his mount, and, not looking back, he
continually urged the horse to greater speed.

Bending low he heard the distant sound of hoofbeats behind him, but they
soon died away. Then he entered a belt of forest, and when he passed
out on the other side no pursuit could be seen. But he did not slacken
speed. He knew that all Sherburne had said about Stonewall Jackson was
true. He would forgive no dallying by the way. He demanded of every man
his uttermost.

He turned from the unfenced field into the road, and rode at a full
gallop toward Winchester. The cold wind swept past and his spirits rose
high. Every pulse was beating with exultation. It was he who had brought
the warning to the defenders of the stores. It was he who had brought
Sherburne’s troop to help beat off the attack, and now it was he who,
bursting through the ring of steel, was riding to Jackson and sure
relief.

His horse seemed to share his triumph. He ran on and on without a swerve
or jar. Once he stretched out his long head, and uttered a shrill neigh.
The sound died in far echoes, and then followed only the rapid beat of
his hoofs on the hard road.

Harry knew that there was no longer any danger to him from the enemy,
and he resolved now not to go to his own colonel, but to ride straight
to the tent of Jackson himself.

The night had never grown dark. Moon and stars still shed an abundant
light for the flying horseman, and presently he caught fleeting glimpses
through the trees of roofs that belonged to Winchester. Then two men
in gray spring into the road, and, leveling their rifles, gave him the
command to stop.

“I’m Lieutenant Kenton of the Invincibles,” he cried, “and I come for
help. A strong force of the Yankees is besieging Hertford, and four
hundred of our men are defending it. There is no time to waste! They
must have help there before dawn, or everything is lost! Which way is
General Jackson’s tent?”

“In that field on the hillock!” replied one of the men, pointing two or
three hundred yards away.

Harry raced toward the tent, which rose in modest size out of the
darkness, and sprang to the ground, when his horse reached it. A single
sentinel, rifle across his arms, was standing before it, but the flap
was thrown back and a light was burning inside.

“I’m a messenger for General Jackson!” cried Harry. “I’ve news that
can’t wait!”

The sentinel hesitated a moment, but a figure within stepped to the door
of the tent and Harry for the first time was face to face with Stonewall
Jackson. He had seen him often near or far, but now he stood before him,
and was to speak with him.

Jackson was dressed fully and the fine wrinkles of thought showed on his
brow, as if he had intended to study and plan the night through. He was
a tallish man, with good features cut clearly, high brow, short
brown beard and ruddy complexion. His uniform was quite plain and his
appearance was not imposing, but his eyes of deep blue regarded the boy
keenly.

“I’m Lieutenant Kenton, sir, of Colonel Talbot’s Invincibles,” replied
Harry to the question which was not spoken, but which nevertheless was
asked. “Our arsenal at Hertford is besieged by a strong force of the
enemy, a force that is likely to be increased heavily by dawn. Luckily
Captain Sherburne and his troop of valley Virginians came up in time to
help, and I have slipped through the besieging lines to bring more aid.”

Harry had touched his cap as he spoke and now he stood in silence while
the blue eyes looked him through.

“I know you. I’ve observed you,” said Jackson in calm, even tones,
showing not a trace of excitement. “I did not think that the Federal
troops would make a movement so soon, but we will meet it. A brigade
will march in half an hour.”

“Don’t I go with it?” exclaimed Harry pleadingly. “You know, I brought
the news, sir!”

“You do. Your regiment will form part of the brigade. Rejoin Colonel
Talbot at once. The Invincibles, with you as guide, shall lead the way.
You have done well, Lieutenant Kenton.”

Harry flushed with pride at the brief words of praise, which meant so
much coming from Stonewall Jackson, and saluting again hurried to his
immediate command. Already the messengers were flying to the different
regiments, bidding them to be up and march at once.

The Invincibles were upon their feet in fifteen minutes, fully clothed
and armed, and ready for the road. The cavalry were not available that
night, and the brigade would march on foot save for the officers. Harry
was back on his horse, and St. Clair and Langdon were beside him. The
colonels, Talbot and St. Hilaire, sat on their horses at the head of the
Invincibles, the first regiment.

“What is it?” said Langdon to Harry. “Have you brought this night march
upon us?”

“I have, and we’re going to strike the Yankees before dawn at Hertford,”
 replied Harry to both questions.

“I like the nights for rest,” said Langdon, “but it could be worse; I’ve
had four hours’ sleep anyway.”

“You’ll have no more this night, that’s certain,” said St. Clair. “Look,
General Jackson, himself, is going with us. See him climbing upon Little
Sorrel! Lord pity the foot cavalry!”

General Jackson, mounted upon the sorrel horse destined to become so
famous, rode to the head of the brigade, which was now in ranks, and
beckoned to Harry.

“I’ve decided to attend to this affair myself, Lieutenant Kenton,”
 he said. “Keep by my side. You know the way. Be sure that you lead us
right.”

His voice was not raised, but his words had an edge of steel. The cold
blue eyes swept him with a single chilly glance and Harry felt the fear
of God in his soul. Lead them right? His faculties could not fail with
Stonewall Jackson by his side.

The general himself gave the word, the brigade swung into the broad
road and it marched. It did not dawdle along. It marched, and it marched
fast. It actually seemed to Harry after the first mile that it was
running, running toward the enemy.

Not in vain had the infantry of Stonewall Jackson been called foot
cavalry. Harry now for the first time saw men really march. The road
spun behind them and the forest swept by. They were nearly all open-air
Virginians, long of limb, deep of chest and great of muscle. There was
no time for whispering among them, and the exchange of guesses about
their destination. They needed every particle of air in their lungs for
the terrible man who made them march as men had seldom marched before.

Jackson cast a grim eye on the long files that sank away in the darkness
behind him.

“They march very well,” he said, “but they will do better with more
practice. Ride to the rear, Lieutenant Kenton, and see if there are any
stragglers. If you find any order them back into line and if they refuse
to obey, shoot.”

Again his voice was not raised, but an electric current of fiery energy
seemed to leap from this grave, somber man and to infuse itself through
the veins of the lad to whom he gave the orders.

Harry saluted and, wheeling his horse, rode swiftly along the edge of
the forest toward the rear. Now, the spirit of indomitable youth broke
forth. Many in the columns were as young as he and some younger. In
the earlier years of the war, and indeed, to the very close, there was
little outward respect for rank among the citizen soldiers of either
army. Harry was saluted with a running fire of chaff.

“Turn your horse’s head, young feller, the enemy ain’t that way. He’s in
front.”

“He’s forgot his toothbrush, Bill, and he’s going back in a hurry to get
it.”

“If I had a horse like that I’d ride him in the right direction.”

“Tell ‘em in Winchester that the foot cavalry are marchin’ a hundred
miles an hour.”

Harry did not resent these comments. He merely flung back an occasional
comment of his own and hurried on until he reached the rear. Then in the
dusk of the road he found four or five men limping along, and ready when
convenient to drop away in the darkness. Harry wasted no time. The fire
in his blood that had come from Jackson was still burning. He snatched a
pistol from his belt and, riding directly at them, cried:

“Forward and into the ranks at once, or I shoot!”

“But we are lame, sir!” cried one of the men. “See my foot is bleeding!”

He held up one foot and red drops were falling from the ragged shoe.

“It makes no difference,” cried Harry. “Barefooted men should be glad
to march for Stonewall Jackson! One, two, three! Hurry, all of you, or I
shoot!”

The men took one look at the flaming face, and broke into a run for the
rear guard. Harry saw them in the ranks and then beat up the woods on
either side of the road, but saw no more stragglers or deserters. Then
he galloped through the edge of the forest and rejoined the general at
the head of the command.

“Were they all marching?” asked Jackson.

“All but four, sir.”

“And the four?”

“They’re marching now, too.”

“Good. How far are we from the arsenal?”

“About eight miles, sir.”

“Isn’t it nearer nine?”

“I should say nearer eight, sir.”

“You should know, and at any rate we’ll soon see.”

Jackson did not speak to him again directly, evidently keeping him at
his side now for sure guidance, but he continually sent other aides
along the long lines to urge more speed. The men were panting, and,
despite the cold of the winter night, beads of perspiration stood on
every face. But Jackson was pitiless. He continually spurred them on,
and now Harry knew with the certainty of fate that he would get there in
time. He would reach Hertford before fresh Union troops could come. He
was as infallible as fate.

There was no breath left for whispering in the ranks of Jackson’s men.
Nothing was heard but the steady beat of marching feet, and now and
then, the low command of an officer. But such commands were few. There
were no more stragglers, and the chief himself rode at their head. They
knew how to follow.

The moon faded and many of the stars went back into infinite space. A
dusky film was drawn across the sky, and at a distance the fields and
forest blended into one great shadow. Harry looked back at the brigade
which wound in a long dark coil among the trees. He could not see faces
of the men now, only the sinuous black shape of illimitable length that
their solid lines made.

This long black shape moved fast, and occasionally it gave forth a
sinister glitter, as stray moonbeams fell upon blade or bayonet. It
seemed to Harry that there was something deadly and inevitable about it,
and he began to feel sorry for the Union troops who were besieging the
village and who did not know that Stonewall Jackson was coming.

He cast a sidelong glance at the leader. He rode, leaning a little
further forward in the saddle than usual, and the wintry blue eyes gazed
steadily before him. Harry knew that they missed nothing.

“You are sure that we are on the right road, Mr. Kenton?” said Jackson.

“Quite sure of it, sir.”

The general did not speak again for some time. Then, when he caught the
faint glimmer of water through the dark, he said:

“This is the creek, is it not?”

“Yes, sir, and the Yankees can’t be more than a mile away.”

“And it’s a full hour until dawn. The reinforcements for the enemy
cannot have come up. Lieutenant Kenton, I wish you to stay with me. I
will have a messenger tell Colonel Talbot that for the present you are
detached for my service.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Harry.

“Why?”

“I wish to see how you crumple up the enemy.”

The cold blue eyes gleamed for a moment. Harry more than guessed the
depths of passion and resolve that lay behind the impenetrable mask
of Jackson’s face. He felt again the rays of the white, hot fire that
burned in the great Virginian’s soul.

A few hundred yards further and the brigade began to spread out in the
dusk. Companies filed off to right and left, and in a few minutes came
shots from the pickets, sounding wonderfully clear and sharp in the
stillness of the night. Red dots from the rifle muzzles appeared
here and there in the woods, and then Harry caught the glint of late
starshine on the eaves of the warehouse.

Jackson drew his horse a little to one side of the road, and Harry,
obedient to orders, followed him. A regiment massed directly behind them
drew up close. Harry saw that it was his own Invincibles. There were
Colonel Leonidas Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire on
horseback, looking very proud and eager. Further away were Langdon and
St. Clair also mounted, but Harry could not see the expression on their
faces.

“Tell Colonel Talbot to have the charge sounded and then to attack with
all his might,” said Jackson to his young aide.

Harry carried the order eagerly and rejoined the general at once. The
drums of the Invincibles beat the charge, and on both sides of them the
drums of other regiments played the same tune. Then the drum-beat was
lost in that wild and thrilling shout, the rebel yell, more terrible
than the war-whoop of the Indians, and the whole brigade rushed forward
in a vast half-circle that enclosed the village between the two horns of
the curve.

The scattered firing of the pickets was lost in the great shout of the
South, and, by the time the Northern sentinels could give the alarm to
their main body, the rush of Jackson’s men was upon them, clearing out
the woods and fields in a few instants and driving the Union horsemen in
swift flight northward.

Harry kept close to his general. He saw a spark of fire shoot from the
blue eye, and the nostrils expand. Then the mask became as impenetrable
as ever. He let the reins fall on the neck of Little Sorrel, and watched
his men as they swept into the open, passed the warehouse, and followed
the enemy into the forest beyond.

But the bugles quickly sounded the recall. It was not Jackson’s purpose
to waste his men in frays which could produce little. The pursuing
regiments returned reluctantly to the open where the inhabitants of the
village were welcoming Jackson with great rejoicings. The encounter had
been too swift and short to cause great loss, but all the stores were
saved and Captain Sherburne and Captain McGee rode forward to salute
their commander.

“You made a good defense,” said Stonewall Jackson, crisply and briefly.
“We begin the removal of the stores at once. Wagons will come up shortly
for that purpose. Take your cavalry, Captain Sherburne, and scout the
country. If they need sleep they can get it later when there is nothing
else to do.”

Captain Sherburne saluted and Harry saw his face flush with pride. The
indomitable spirit of Jackson was communicated fast to all his men. The
sentence to more work appealed to Sherburne with much greater force than
the sentence of rest could have done. In a moment he and his men were
off, searching the woods and fields in the direction of the Union camp.

“Ride back on the road, Lieutenant Kenton, and tell the wagons to
hurry,” said General Jackson to Harry. “Before I left Winchester I gave
orders for them to follow, and we must not waste time here.”

“Yes, sir,” said Harry, as he turned and rode into the forest through
which they had come. He, too, felt the same emotion that had made the
face of Sherburne flush with pride. What were sleep and rest to a young
soldier, following a man who carried victory in the hollow of his hand;
not the victory of luck or chance, but the victory of forethought, of
minute preparation, and of courage.

He galloped fast, and the hard road gave back the ring of steel shod
hoofs. A silver streak showed in the eastern sky. The dawn was breaking.
He increased his pace. The woods and fields fled by. Then he heard the
cracking of whips, and the sound of voices urging on reluctant animals.
Another minute and the long line of wagons was in sight straining along
the road.

“Hurry up!” cried Harry to the leader who drove, bareheaded.

“Has Old Jack finished the job?” asked the man.

“Yes.”

“How long did it take him?”

“About five minutes.”

“I win,” called the man to the second driver just behind him. “You
‘lowed it would take him ten minutes, but I said not more’n seven at the
very furthest.”

The train broke into a trot, and Harry, turning his horse, rode by the
side of the leader.

“How did you know that it would take General Jackson so little time to
scatter the enemy?” the boy asked the man.

“‘Cause I know Old Jack.”

“But he has not yet done much in independent command.”

“No, but I’ve seen him gettin’ ready, an’ I’ve watched him. He sees
everything, an’ he prays. I tell you he prays. I ain’t a prayin’ man
myself. But when a man kneels down in the bushes an’ talks humble an’
respectful to his God, an’ then rises up an’ jumps at the enemy, it’s
time for that enemy to run. I’d rather be attacked by the worst bully
and desperado that ever lived than by a prayin’ man. You see, I want to
live, an’ what chance have I got ag’in a man that’s not only not afraid
to die, but that’s willin’ to die, an’ rather glad to die, knowin’ that
he’s goin’ straight to Heaven an’ eternal joy? I tell you, young man,
that unbelievers ain’t ever got any chance against believers; no, not in
nothin’.”

“I believe you’re right.”

“Right! Of course I’m right! Why did Old Jack order these waggins to
come along an’ get them stores? ‘Cause he believed he was goin’ to save
‘em. An’ mebbe he saved ‘em, ‘cause he believed he was goin’ to do it.
It works both ways. Git up!”

The shout of “Git up!” was to his horses, which added a little more to
their pace, and now Harry saw troops coming back to meet them and form
an escort.

In half an hour they were at the village. Already the ammunition and
supplies had been brought forth and were stacked, ready to be loaded on
the wagons. General Jackson was everywhere, riding back and forth on his
sorrel horse, directing the removal just as he had directed the march
and the brief combat. His words were brief but always dynamic. He seemed
insensible to weariness.

It was now full morning, wintry and clear. The small population of the
village and people from the surrounding country, intensely Southern and
surcharged with enthusiasm, were bringing hot coffee and hot breakfast
for the troops. Jackson permitted them to eat and drink in relays.
As many as could get at the task helped to load the wagons. Little
compulsion was needed. Officers themselves toiled at boxes and casks.
The spirit of Jackson had flowed into them all.

“I’ve gone into training,” said Langdon to Harry.

“Training? What kind of training, Tom?”

“I see that my days of play are over forever, and I’m practicing hard,
so I can learn how to do without food, sleep or rest for months at a
time.”

“It’s well you’re training,” interrupted St. Clair. “I foresee that
you’re going to need all the practice you can get. Everything’s loaded
in the wagons now, and I wager you my chances of promotion against one
of our new Confederate dollar bills that we start inside of a minute.”

The word “minute” was scarcely out of his mouth, when Jackson gave the
sharp order to march. Sherburne’s troop sprang to saddle and led the
way, their bugler blowing a mellow salute to the morning and victory.
Many whips cracked, and the wagons bearing the precious stores swung
into line. Behind came the brigade, the foot cavalry. The breakfast and
the loading of the wagons had not occupied more than half an hour. It
was yet early morning when the whole force left the village and marched
at a swift pace toward Winchester.

General Jackson beckoned to Harry.

“Ride with me,” he said. “I’ve notified Colonel Talbot that you are
detached from his staff and will serve on mine.”

Although loath to leave his comrades Harry appreciated the favor and
flushed with pleasure.

“Thank you, sir,” he said briefly.

Jackson nodded. He seemed to like the lack of effusive words. Harry knew
that his general had not tasted food. Neither had he. He had actually
forgotten it in his keenness for his work, and now he was proud of the
fact. He was proud, too, of the comradeship of abstention that it gave
him with Stonewall Jackson. As he rode in silence by the side of the
great commander he made for himself an ideal. He would strive in his
own youthful way to show the zeal, the courage and the untiring devotion
that marked the general.

The sun, wintry but golden, rose higher and made fields and forest
luminous. But few among Jackson’s men had time to notice the glory of
the morning. It seemed to Harry that they were marching back almost as
swiftly as they had come. Langdon was right and more. They were getting
continuous practice not only in the art of living without food, sleep or
rest, but also of going everywhere on a run instead of a walk. Those who
survived it would be incomparable soldiers.

Winchester appeared and the people came forth rejoicing. Jackson gave
orders for the disposition of the stores and then rode at once to a
tent. He signalled to Harry also to dismount and enter. An orderly took
the horses of both.

“Sit down at the table there,” said Jackson. “I want to dictate to you
some orders.”

Harry sat down. He had forgotten to take off his cap and gloves, but he
removed one gauntlet now, and picked up a pen which lay beside a little
inkstand, a pad of coarse paper on the other side.

Jackson himself had not removed hat or gauntlets either, and the heavy
cavalry cloak that he had worn on the ride remained flung over his
shoulders. He dictated a brief order to his brigadiers, Loring, Edward
Johnson, Garnett, the commander of the Stonewall Brigade, and Ashby, who
led the cavalry, to prepare for a campaign and to see that everything
was ready for a march in the morning.

Harry made copies of all the orders and sealed them.

“Deliver every one to the man to whom it is addressed,” said Jackson,
“and then report to me. But be sure that you say nothing of their
contents to anybody.”

The boy, still burning with zeal, hurried forth with the orders,
delivered them all, and came back to the tent, where he found the
general dictating to another aide. Jackson glanced at him and Harry,
saluting, said:

“I have given all the orders, sir, to those for whom they were
intended.”

“Very well,” said Jackson. “Wait and I shall have more messages for you
to carry.”

He turned to the second aide, but seeming to remember something, looked
at his watch.

“Have you had any breakfast, Mr. Kenton?” he said.

“No, sir.”

“Any sleep?”

“Yes, sir.”

“When?”

“I slept well, sir, night before last.”

Harry’s reply was given in all seriousness. Jackson smiled. The boy’s
reply and his grave manner pleased him.

“I won’t give you any more orders just now,” he said. “Go out and get
something to eat, but do not be gone longer than half an hour. You need
sleep, too--but that can wait.”

“I shall be glad to carry your orders, sir, now. The food can wait, too.
I am not hungry.”

Harry spoke respectfully. There was in truth an appealing note in his
voice. Jackson gave him another and most searching glance.

“I think I chose well when I chose you,” he said. “But go, get your
breakfast. It is not necessary to starve to death now. We may have a
chance at that later.”

The faintest twinkle of grim humor appeared in his eyes and Harry,
withdrawing, hastened at once to the Invincibles, where he knew he would
have food and welcome in plenty.

St. Clair and Langdon greeted him with warmth and tried to learn from
him what was on foot.

“There’s a great bustle,” said Langdon, “and I know something big is
ahead. This is the last day of the Old Year, and I know that the New
Year is going to open badly. I’ll bet you anything that before to-morrow
morning is an hour old this whole army will be running hot-foot over the
country, more afraid of Stonewall Jackson than of fifty thousand of the
enemy.”

“But you’ve been in training for it,” said Harry with a laugh.

“So I have, but I don’t want to train too hard.”

Harry ate and drank and was back at General Jackson’s tent in twenty
minutes. He had received a half hour but he was learning already to do
better than was expected of him.



CHAPTER III. STONEWALL JACKSON’S MARCH


Harry took some orders to brigadiers and colonels. He saw that
concentration was going on rapidly and he shared the belief of his
comrades that the army would march in the morning. He felt a new impulse
of ambition and energy. It continually occurred to him that while he was
doing much he might do more. He saw how his leader worked, with rapidity
and precision, and without excitement, and he strove to imitate him.

The influence of Jackson was rapidly growing stronger upon the mind of
the brilliant, sensitive boy, so susceptible to splendor of both thought
and action. The general, not yet great to the world, but great already
to those around him, dominated the mind of the boy. Harry was proud to
serve him.

He saw that Jackson had taken no sleep, and he would take none
either. Soon the question was forgotten, and he toiled all through the
afternoon, glad to be at the heart of affairs so important.

Winchester was a sprightly little city, one of the best in the great
valley, inhabited by cultivated people of old families, and Southern to
the core. Harry and his young comrades had found a good welcome there.
They had been in many houses and they had made many friends. The
Virginians liked his bright face and manners. Now they could not fail
to see that some great movement was afoot, and more than once his new
friends asked him its nature, but he replied truthfully that he did
not know. In the throb of great action Winchester disappeared from his
thoughts. Every faculty was bent upon the plans of Jackson, whatever
they might be.

The afternoon drew to a close and then the short winter twilight passed
swiftly. The last night of the Old Year had come, and Harry was to enter
at dawn upon one of the most vivid periods in the life of any boy that
ever lived, a period paralleled perhaps only by that of the French lads
who followed the young Bonaparte into the plains of Italy. Harry with
all his dreams, arising from the enormous impression made upon him by
Jackson, could not yet foresee what lay before him.

He was returning on foot from one of his shorter errands. He had ridden
throughout the afternoon, but the time came when he thought the horse
ought to rest, and with the coming of the twilight he had walked. He
was not conscious of any weakness. His body, in a way, had become a mere
mechanism. It worked, because the will acted upon it like a spring, but
it was detached, separate from his mind. He took no more interest in it
than he would in any other machine, which, when used up, could be cast
aside, and be replaced with a new one.

He glanced at the camp, stretching through the darkness. Much fewer
fires were burning than usual, and the men, warned to sleep while they
could, had wrapped themselves already in their blankets. Then he entered
the tent of Jackson with the reply to an order that he had taken to a
brigadier.

The general stood by a wall of the tent, dictating to an aide who sat at
the little table, and who wrote by the light of a small oil lamp.
Harry saluted and gave him the reply. Jackson read it. As he read Harry
staggered but recovered himself quickly. The overtaxed body was making a
violent protest, and the vague feeling that he could throw away the
old and used-up machine, and replace it with a new one was not true. He
caught his breath sharply and his face was red with shame. He hoped that
his general had not seen this lamentable weakness of his.

Jackson, after reading the reply, resumed his dictation. Harry was sure
that the general had not seen. He had not noticed the weakness in an
aide of his who should have no weakness at all! But Jackson had seen and
in a few hours of contact he had read the brave, bright young soul of
his aide. He finished the dictation and then turning to Harry, he said
quietly:

“I can’t think of anything more for you to do, Mr. Kenton, and I suppose
you might as well rest. I shall do so myself in a half hour. You’ll find
blankets in the large tent just beyond mine. A half dozen of my aides
sleep in it, but there are blankets enough for all and it’s first come
first served.”

Harry gave the usual military salute and withdrew. Outside the tent, the
body that he had used so cruelly protested not only a second time
but many times. It was in very fact and truth detached from the will,
because it no longer obeyed the will at all. His legs wobbled and
bent like those of a paralytic, and his head fell forward through very
weakness.

Luckily the tent was only a few yards away, and he managed to reach it
and enter. It had a floor of planks and in the dark he saw three youths,
a little older than himself, already sound asleep in their blankets.
He promptly rolled himself in a pair, stretched his length against the
cloth wall, and balmy sleep quickly came to make a complete reunion
of the will and of the tired body which would be fresh again in the
morning, because he was young and strong and recovered fast.

Harry slept hard all through the night and nature completed her task
of restoring the worn fibers. He was roused shortly after dawn and the
cooks were ready with breakfast for the army. He ate hungrily and when
he would stop, one of his comrades who had slept with him in the tent
told him to eat more.

“You need a lot to go on when you march with Jackson,” he said.
“Besides, you won’t be certain where the next is coming from.”

“I’ve learned that already,” said Harry, as he took his advice.

A half hour later he was on his horse near Jackson, ready to receive his
commands, and in the early hours of the New Year the army marched out of
Winchester, the eager wishes of the whole population following it.

It was the brightest of winter mornings, almost like spring it seemed.
The sky was a curving and solid sheet of sunlight, and the youths of the
army were for the moment a great and happy family. They were marching
to battle, wounds and death, but they were too young and too buoyant to
think much about it.

Harry soon learned that they were going toward Bath and Hancock, two
villages on the railway, both held by Northern troops. He surmised that
Jackson would strike a sudden blow, surprise the garrisons, cut the
railway, and then rush suddenly upon some greater force. A campaign
in the middle of winter. It appealed to him as something brilliant and
daring. The pulses which had beat hard so often lately began to beat
hard again.

The army went swiftly across forest and fields. As the brigade had
marched back the night before, so the whole army marched forward to-day.
The fact that Jackson’s men always marched faster than other men was
forced again upon Harry’s attention. He remembered from his reading an
old comment of Napoleon’s referring to war that there were only two or
three men in Europe who knew the value of time. Now he saw that at least
one man in America knew its value, and knew it as fully as Napoleon ever
did.

The day passed hour by hour and the army sped on, making only a short
halt at noon for rest and food. Harry joined the Invincibles for a
few moments and was received with warmth by Colonel Leonidas Talbot,
Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire and all his old friends.

“I am sorry to lose you, Harry,” said Colonel Talbot, “but I am glad
that you are on the immediate staff of General Jackson. It’s an honor. I
feel already that we’re in the hands of a great general, and the feeling
has gone through the whole army. There’s an end, so far as this force is
concerned, to doubt and hesitation.”

“And we, the Southerners who are called the cavaliers, are led by a
puritan,” said Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire. “Because if there ever
was a puritan, General Jackson is one.”

Harry passed on, intending to speak with his comrades, Langdon and
St. Clair. He heard the young troops talking freely everywhere, never
forgetting the fact that they were born free citizens as good as
anybody, and never hesitating to comment, often in an unflattering way,
upon their officers. Harry saw a boy who had just taken off his shoes
and who was tenderly rubbing his feet.

“I never marched so fast before,” he said complainingly. “My feet are
sore all over.”

“Put on your shoes an’ shut up,” said another boy. “Stonewall Jackson
don’t care nothin’ about your feet. You’re here to fight.”

Harry walked on, but the words sank deep in his mind. It was an
uneducated boy, probably from the hills, who had given the rebuke, but
he saw that the character of Stonewall Jackson was already understood by
the whole army, even to the youngest private. He found Langdon and
St. Clair sitting together on a log. They were not tired, as they were
mounted officers, but they were full of curiosity.

“What’s passing through Old Jack’s head?” asked Langdon, the irreverent
and the cheerful.

“I don’t know, and I don’t suppose anybody will ever know all that’s
passing there.”

“I’ll wager my year’s pay against a last year’s bird nest that he isn’t
leading us away from the enemy.”

“He certainly isn’t doing that. We’re moving on two little towns, Bath
and Hancock, but there must be bigger designs beyond.”

“This is New Year’s Day, as you know,” said St. Clair in his pleasant
South Carolina drawl, “and I feel that Tom there is going to earn the
year’s pay that he talks so glibly about wagering.”

“At any rate, Arthur,” said Langdon, “if we go into battle you’ll be
dressed properly for it, and if you fall you’ll die in a gentleman’s
uniform.”

St. Clair smiled, showing that he appreciated Langdon’s flippant
comment. Harry glanced at him. His uniform was spotless, and it was
pressed as neatly as if it had just come from the hands of a tailor. The
gray jacket of fine cloth, with its rows of polished brass buttons, was
buttoned as closely as that of a West Point cadet. He seemed to be in
dress and manner a younger brother of the gallant Virginia captain,
Philip Sherburne, and Harry admired him. A soldier who dressed well amid
such trying obstacles was likely to be a soldier through and through.
Harry was learning to read character from extraneous things, things that
sometimes looked like trifles to others.

“I merely came over here to pass the time of day,” he said. “We start
again in two or three minutes. Hark, there go the bugles, and I go with
them!”

He ran back, sprang on his horse a few seconds before Jackson himself
was in the saddle, and rode away again.

The general sent him on no missions for a while, and Harry rode in
silence. Observant, as always, he noticed the long ridges of the
mountains, showing blue in the distance, and the occasional glimmer
of water in the valley. It was beautiful, this valley, and he did not
wonder that the Virginians talked of it so much. He shared their wrath
because the hostile Northern foot already pressed a portion, and he felt
as much eagerness as they to drive away the invader.

He also saw pretty soon that the long lines of the mountains, so blue
and beautiful against the shining sun, were losing their clear and vivid
tints. The sky above them was turning to gray, and their crests were
growing pale. Then a wind chill and sharp with the edge of winter began
to blow down from the slopes. It had been merely playing at summer that
morning and, before the first day of January 1862, closed, winter rushed
down upon Virginia, bringing with it the fiercest and most sanguinary
year the New World ever knew--save the one that followed it, and the one
that followed that.

The temperature dropped many degrees in an hour. Just as the young
troops of Grant, marching to Donelson, deceived by a warm morning had
cast aside their heavy clothing to be chilled to the bone before the
day was over, so the equally young troops of Jackson now suffered in the
same way, and from the same lack of thought.

Most of their overcoats and cloaks were in the wagons, and there was
no time to get them, because Jackson would not permit any delays. They
shivered and grumbled under their breath. Nevertheless the army marched
swiftly, while the dark clouds, laden with snow and cold, marched up
with equal swiftness from the western horizon.

A winter campaign! It did not seem so glorious now to many of the boys
who in the warmth and the sunshine had throbbed with the thought of it.
They inquired once more about those wagons containing their overcoats
and blankets, and they learned that they had followed easier roads,
while the troops themselves were taking short cuts through the forests
and across the fields. They might be reunited at night, and they might
not. It was not considered a matter of the first importance by Jackson.

Harry had been wise enough to retain his military cloak strapped to his
saddle, and he wrapped it about his body, drawing the collar as high
as he could. One of his gauntleted hands held the reins, and the other
swung easily by his side. He would have given his cloak to some one
of the shivering youths who marched on foot near him, but he knew that
Jackson would not permit any such open breach of discipline.

The boy watched the leader who rode almost by his side. Jackson had put
on his own cavalry cloak, but it was fastened by a single button at
the top and it had blown open. He did not seem to notice the fact.
Apparently he was oblivious of heat and cold alike, and rode on, bent a
little forward in the saddle, his face the usual impenetrable mask. But
Harry knew that the brain behind that brow never ceased to work, always
thinking and planning, trying this combination and that, ready to make
any sacrifice to do the work that was to be done.

The long shadows came, and the short day that had turned so cold was
over, giving way to the night that was colder than the day. They were
on the hills now and even the vigorous Jackson felt that it was time to
stop until morning. The night had turned very dark, a fierce wind was
blowing, and now and then a fine sift of snow as sharp as hail was blown
against their faces.

The wagons with the heavy clothing, blankets and food had not come up,
and perhaps would not arrive until the next day. Gloom as dark as the
night itself began to spread among the young troops, but Jackson gave
them little time for bemoaning their fate. Fires were quickly built
from fallen wood. The men found warmth and a certain mental relief in
gathering the wood itself. The officers, many of them boys themselves,
shared in the work. They roamed through the forest dragging in fallen
timber, and now and then, an old rail fence was taken panel by panel to
join the general heap.

The fires presently began to crackle in the darkness, running in long,
irregular lines, and the young soldiers crowded in groups about them.
At the same time they ate the scanty rations they carried in their
knapsacks, and wondered what had become of the wagons. Jackson sent
detachments to seek his supply trains, but Harry knew that he would not
wait for it in the morning. The horses drawing the heavy loads over the
slippery roads would need rest as badly as the men, and Jackson would
go on. If food was not there--well then his troops must march on empty
stomachs.

Youth changes swiftly and the high spirits with which the soldiers had
departed in the morning were gone. The night had become extremely cold.
Fierce winds whistled down from the crests of the mountains and pierced
their clothing with myriads of little icy darts. They crept closer and
closer to the fire. Their faces burned while their backs froze, and
the menacing wind, while it chilled them to the marrow with its breath,
seemed to laugh at them in sinister fashion. They thought with many a
lament of their warm quarters in Winchester.

Harry shared the common depression to a certain extent. He had recalled
that morning how the young Napoleon started on his great campaign
of Italy, and there had been in his mind some idea that it would be
repeated in the Virginia valleys, but he recalled at night that the
soldiers of the youthful Bonaparte had marched and fought in warm
days in a sunny country. It was a different thing to conduct a great
campaign, when the clouds heavy with snow were hovering around the
mountain tops, and the mercury was hunting zero. He shivered and looked
apprehensively into the chilly night. His apprehension was not for a
human foe, but for the unbroken spirits of darkness and mystery that can
cow us all.

No tents were pitched. Jackson shared the common lot, sitting by a fire
with some of the higher officers, while three or four other young aides
were near. The sifts of snow turned after a while into a fine but steady
snow, which continued half an hour. The backs of the soldiers were
covered with white, while their faces burned. Then there was a shuffling
sound at every fire, as the men turned their backs to the blaze and
their faces to the forest.

Harry watched General Jackson closely. He was sitting on a fallen log,
which the soldiers had drawn near to one of the largest fires, and he
was staring intently into the coals. He did not speak, nor did he seem
to take any notice of those about him. Harry knew, too, that he was not
seeing the coals, but the armies of the enemy on the other side of the
cold mountain.

Jackson after a while beckoned to the young aides and he gave to every
one in turn the same command.

“Mount and make a complete circuit of the army. Report to me whether
all the pickets are watchful, and whether any signs of the enemy can be
seen.”

Harry had tethered his horse in a little grove near by, where he might
be sheltered as much as possible from the cold, and the faithful animal
which had not tasted food that day, whimpered and rubbed his nose
against his shoulder when he came.

“I’m sorry, old boy,” whispered Harry, “I’d give you food if I could,
but since I can’t give you food I’ve got to give you more work.”

He put on the bridle, leaped into the saddle, which had been left on the
horse’s back, and rode away on his mission. The password that night
was “Manassas,” and Harry exchanged it with the pickets who curved in a
great circle through the lone, cold forest. They were always glad to see
him. They were alone, save when two of them met at the common end of a
beat, and these youths of the South were friendly, liking to talk and to
hear the news of others.

Toward the Northern segment of the circle he came to a young giant
from the hills who was walking back and forth with the utmost vigor
and shaking himself as if he would throw off the cold. His brown face
brightened with pleasure when he saw Harry and exchanged the password.

“Two or three other officers have been by here ridin’ hosses,” he said
in the voice of an equal speaking to his equal, “an’ they don’t fill
me plum’ full o’ envy a-tall, a-tall. I guess a feller tonight kin keep
warmer walkin’ on the ground than ridin’ on a hoss. What might your name
be, Mr. Officer?”

“Kenton. I’m a lieutenant, at present on the staff of General Jackson.
What is yours?”

“Seth Moore, an’ I’m always a private, but at present doin’ sentinel
duty, but wishin’ I was at home in our double log house ‘tween the
blankets.”

“Have you noticed anything, Seth?” asked Harry, not at all offended by
the nature of his reply.

“I’ve seen some snow, an’ now an’ then the cold top of a mountain,
an’--”

“An’ what, Seth?”

“Do you see that grove straight toward the north four or five hundred
yards away?”

“Yes, but I can make nothing of it but a black blur. It’s too far away
to tell the trunks of the trees apart.”

“It’s too fur fur me, too, an’ my eyes are good, but ten or fifteen
minutes ago, leftenant, I thought I saw a shadder at the edge of the
grove. It ‘peared to me that the shadder was like that of a horse with
a man on it. After a while it went back among the trees an’ o’ course I
lost it thar.”

“You feel quite sure you saw the shadow, Seth?”

“Yes, leftenant. I’m shore I ain’t mistook. I’ve hunted ‘coons an’
‘possums at night too much to be mistook about shadders. I reckon, if I
may say so, shadders is my specialty, me bein’ somethin’ o’ a night owl.
As shore as I’m standin’ here, leftenant, and as shore as you’re settin’
there on your hoss, a mounted man come to the edge of that wood an’
stayed thar a while, watchin’ us. I’d have follered him, but I couldn’t
leave my beat here, an’ you’re the first officer I’ve saw since. It may
amount to nothin, an’ then again it mayn’t.”

“I’m glad you told me. I’ll go into the grove myself and see if anybody
is there now.”

“Leftenant, if I was you I’d be mighty keerful. If it’s a spy it’ll be
easy enough for him under the cover of the trees to shoot you in the
open comin’ toward him.”

Harry knew that Jackson planned a surprise of some kind and Seth Moore’s
words about the mounted man alarmed him. He did not doubt the accuracy
of the young mountaineer’s eyesight, or his coolness, and he resolved
that he would not go back to headquarters until he knew more about that
“shadow.” But Moore’s advice about caution was not to be unheeded.

“If you keep in the edge of our woods here,” said Moore, “an’ ride along
a piece you’ll come to a little valley. Then you kin go up that an’ come
into the grove over thar without being seed.”

“Good advice. I’ll take it.”

Harry loosened one of the pistols in his belt and rode cautiously
through the wood as Seth Moore had suggested. The ground sloped rapidly,
and soon he reached the narrow but deep little valley with a dense
growth of trees and underbrush on either side. The valley led upward,
and he came into the grove just as Moore had predicted.

This forest was of much wider extent than he had supposed. It stretched
northward further than he could see, and, although it was devoid of
undergrowth, it was very dark among the trees. He rode his horse behind
the trunk of a great oak, and, pausing there, examined all the forest
within eyeshot.

He saw nothing but the long rows of tree trunks, white on the northern
side with snow, and he heard nothing but the cold rustle of wind among
boughs bare of branches. Yet he had full confidence in the words of
Seth Moore. He could neither see him nor hear him, but he was sure that
somebody besides himself was in the wood. Once more the soul and spirit
of his great ancestor were poured into him, and for the moment he, too,
was the wilderness rover, endowed with nerves preternaturally acute.

Hidden by the great tree trunks he listened attentively. His horse,
oppressed by the cold and perhaps by the weariness of the day, was
motionless and made no sound. He waited two or three minutes and then he
was sure that he heard a slight noise, which he believed was made by the
hoofs of a horse walking very slowly. Then he saw the shadow.

It was the dim figure of a man on horseback, moving very cautiously at
some distance from Harry. He urged his own horse forward a little, and
the shadow stopped instantly. Then he knew that he had been seen, and he
sat motionless in the saddle for an instant or two, not knowing what to
do.

After all, the man on horseback might be a friend. He might be some
scout from a band of rangers, coming to join Jackson; and not yet sure
that the army in the woods was his. Recovering from his indecision he
rode forward a little and called:

“Who are you?”

The shadow made no reply, and horse and rider were motionless. They
seemed for an instant to be phantoms, but then Harry knew that they were
real. He was oppressed by a feeling of the weird and menacing. He would
make the sinister figure move and his hand dropped toward his pistol
belt.

“Stop, I can fire before you!” cried the figure sharply, and then Harry
suddenly saw a pistol barrel gleaming across the stranger’s saddle bow.

Harry checked his hand, but he did not consider himself beaten by any
means. He merely waited, wary and ready to seize his opportunity.

“I don’t want to shoot,” said the man in a clear voice, “and I won’t
unless you make me. I’m no friend. I’m an enemy, that is, an official
enemy, and I think it strange, Harry Kenton, almost the hand of fate,
that you and I come face to face again under such circumstances.”

Harry stared, and then the light broke. Now he remembered both the voice
and the figure.

“Shepard!” he exclaimed.

“It’s so. We’re engaged upon the same duty. I’ve just been inspecting
the army of General Jackson, calculating its numbers, its equipment, and
what it may do. Keep your hand away from that pistol. I might not hit
you, but the chances are that I would. But as I said, I don’t want to
shoot. It wouldn’t help our cause or me any to maim or kill you. Suppose
we call it peace between us for this evening.”

“I agree to call it peace because I have to do it.”

Shepard laughed, and his laugh was not at all sarcastic or unpleasant.

“Why a rage to kill?” he said. “You and I, Harry Kenton, will find
before this war is over that we’ll get quite enough of fighting in
battles without seeking to make slaughter in between. Besides, having
met you several times, I’ve a friendly feeling for you. Now turn and
ride back to your own lines and I’ll go the other way.”

The blood sprang into Harry’s face and his heart beat hard. There was
something dominating and powerful in the voice. It now had the tone of a
man who spoke to one over whom he ruled. Yet he could do nothing. He saw
that Shepard was alert and watchful. He felt instinctively that his foe
would fire if he were forced to do so and that he would not miss. Then
despite himself, he felt admiration for the man’s skill and power, and a
pronounced intellectual quality that he discovered in him.

“Very well,” he replied, “I’ll turn and go back, but I want to tell you,
Mr. Shepard, that while you have been estimating what General Jackson’s
army can do you must make that estimate high.”

“I’ve already done so,” called Shepard--Harry was riding away as he
spoke. The boy at the edge of the wood looked back, but the shadow was
already gone. He rode straight across the open and Seth Moore met him.

“Did you find anything?” the young mountaineer asked.

“Yes, there was a mounted man in a blue uniform, a spy, who has been
watching, but he made off. You had good eyes, Seth, and I’m going to
report this at once to General Jackson.”

Harry knew that he was the bearer of an unpleasant message. General
Jackson was relying upon surprise, and it would not please him to know
that his movements were watched by an active and intelligent scout or
spy. But the man had already shown his greatness by always insisting
upon hearing the worst of everything.

He found the chief, still sitting before one of the fires and reported
to him fully. Jackson listened without comment, but at the end he said
to two of the brigadiers who were sitting with him:

“We march again at earliest dawn. We will not wait for the wagons.”

Then he added to Harry:

“You’ve done good service. Join the sleepers, there.”

He pointed to a group of young officers rolled in their blankets, and
Harry obeyed quickly.



CHAPTER IV. WAR AND WAITING


Harry slept like one dead, but he was awakened at dawn, and he rose yet
heavy with sleep and somewhat stiff from the severe exertions of the day
before. But it all came back in an instant, the army, the march, and the
march yet to come.

They had but a scanty breakfast, the wagons not yet having come up,
and in a half hour they started again. They grumbled mightily at first,
because the day was bleak beyond words, heavy with clouds, and sharp
with chill. The country seemed deserted and certainly that somber air
was charged with no omens of victory.

But in spite of everything the spirits of the young troops began to
rise. They took a pride in this defiance of nature as well as man. They
could endure cold and hunger and weariness as they would endure battle,
when it came. They went on thus three days, almost without food and
shelter. Higher among the hills the snow sometimes beat upon them in a
hurricane, and at night the winds howled as if they had come down fresh
from the Arctic.

The spirits of the young troops, after rising, fell again, and their
feet dragged. Jackson, always watching, noticed it. Beckoning to several
of his staff, including Harry, he rode back along the lines, giving a
word of praise here and two words of rebuke there. They came at last
to an entire brigade, halted by the roadside, some of the men leaning
against an old rail fence.

Jackson looked at the men and his face darkened. It was his own
Stonewall Brigade, the one of which he was so proud, and which he had
led in person into the war. Their commander was standing beside a tree,
and riding up to him he demanded fiercely:

“What is the meaning of this? Why have you stopped?”

“I ordered a stop of a little while for the men to cook their rations,”
 replied General Garnett.

Jackson’s face darkened yet further, and the blue eyes were menacing.

“There is no time for that,” he said sharply.

“But the men can’t go any farther without them. It’s impossible.”

“I never found anything impossible with this brigade.”

Jackson shot forth the words as if they were so many bullets, gave
Garnett a scornful look and rode on. Harry followed him, as was his
duty, but more slowly, and looked back. He saw a deep red flush show
through Garnett’s sunburn. But the preparations for cooking were stopped
abruptly. Within three minutes the Stonewall Brigade was in line again,
marching resolutely over the frozen road. Garnett had recognized that
the impossible was possible--at least where Jackson led.

Not many stragglers were found as they rode on toward the rear, but
every regiment increased its speed at sight of the stern general. After
circling around the rear he rode back toward the front, and he left
Harry and several others to go more slowly along the flanks and report
to him later.

When Harry was left alone he was saluted with the usual good-humored
chaff by the soldiers who again demanded his horse of him, or asked
him whether they were to fight or whether they were training to
be foot-racers. Harry merely smiled, and he came presently to the
Invincibles, who were trudging along stubbornly, with the officers
riding on their flanks. Langdon was as cheerful as usual.

“Things have to come to their worst before they get better,” he said
to Harry, “and I suppose we’ve about reached the worst. A sight of the
enemy would be pleasant, even if it meant battle.”

“We’re marching on Bath,” said Harry, “and we ought to strike it
to-night, though I’m afraid the Yankees have got warning of our coming.”

He was thinking of Shepard, who now loomed very large to him. The
circumstances of their meetings were always so singular that this
Northern scout and spy seemed to him to possess omniscience. Beyond
a doubt he would notify every Northern garrison he could reach of
Jackson’s coming.

Suddenly the band of South Carolinians, who were still left in the
Invincibles, struck up a song:


    “Ho, woodsmen of the mountain-side!
     Ho, dwellers in the vales!
     Ho, ye who by the chafing tide
     Have roughened in the gales!
     Leave barn and byre, leave kin and cot,
     Lay by the bloodless spade:
     Let desk and case and counter rot,
     And burn your books of trade!”


All the Invincibles caught the swing and rush of the verses, and
regiments before them and behind them caught the time, too, if not the
words. The chant rolled in a great thundering chorus through the wintry
forest. It was solemn and majestic, and it quickened the blood of these
youths who believed in the cause for which they fought, just as those on
the other side believed in theirs.

“It was written by one of our own South Carolinians,” said St. Clair,
with pride. “Now here goes the second verse! Lead off, there, Langdon!
They’ll all catch it!”


    “The despot roves your fairest lands;
     And till he flies or fears,
     Your fields must grow but armed bands
     Your sheaves be sheaves of spears:
     Give up to mildew and to rust
     The useless tools of gain
     And feed your country’s sacred dust
     With floods of crimson rain!”


Louder and louder swelled the chorus of ten thousand marching men. It
was not possible for the officers to have stopped them had they wished
to do so, and they did not wish it. Stonewall Jackson, who had read and
studied much, knew that the power of simple songs was scarcely less than
that of rifle and bayonet, and he willingly let them sing on. Now and
then, a gleam came from the blue eyes in his tanned, bearded face.

Harry, sensitive and prone to enthusiasm, was flushed in every vein by
the marching song. He seemed to himself to be endowed with a new life of
vigor and energy. The invader trod the Southern land and they must rush
upon him at once. He was eager for a sight of the blue masses which they
would certainly overcome.

He returned to his place near the head of the column with the staff
of the commander. Night was now close at hand, but Bath was still many
miles away. It was colder than ever, but the wagons had not yet come up
and there were no rations and tents. Only a few scraps of food were left
in the knapsacks.

“Ride to Captain Sherburne,” said General Jackson to Harry, “and tell
him to go forward with his men and reconnoiter.”

“May I go with him, sir?”

“Yes, and then report to me what he and his men find.”

Harry galloped gladly to the vanguard, where the gallant young captain
and his troop were leading. These Virginians preserved their fine
appearance. If they were weary they did not show it. They sat erect in
their saddles and the last button on their uniforms was in place. Their
polished spurs gleamed in the wintry sun.

They set off at a gallop, Harry riding by the side of Captain Sherburne.
Blood again mounted high with the rapid motion and the sense of action.
Soon they left the army behind, and, as the road was narrow and shrouded
in forest, they could see nothing of it. Its disappearance was as
complete as if it had been swallowed up in a wilderness.

They rode straight toward Bath, but after two or three miles they
slackened speed. Harry had told Sherburne of the presence of Shepard the
night before, and the captain knew that they must be cautious.

Another mile, and at a signal from the captain the whole troop stopped.
They heard hoofbeats on the road ahead of them, and the sound was coming
in their direction.

“A strong force,” said Captain Sherburne.

“Probably larger than ours, if the hoofbeats mean anything,” said Harry.

“And Yankees, of course. Here they are!”

A strong detachment of cavalry suddenly rounded a curve in the road and
swept into full view. Then the horsemen stopped in astonishment at the
sight of the Confederate troop.

There was no possibility of either command mistaking the other for a
friend, but Sherburne, despite his youth, had in him the instinct
for quick perception and action which distinguished the great cavalry
leaders of the South like Jeb Stuart, Turner Ashby and others. He drew
his men back instantly somewhat in the shelter of the trees and received
the Union fire first.

As Sherburne had expected, few of the Northern bullets struck home. Some
knocked bark from the trees, others kicked up dirt from the frozen
road, but most of them sang vainly through the empty air and passed far
beyond. Now the Southerners sent their fire full into the Union ranks,
and, at Sherburne’s shouted command, charged, with their leader at their
head swinging his sword in glittering circles like some knight of old.

The Southern volley had brought down many horses and men, but the
Northern force was double in numbers and many of the men carried new
breech-loading rifles of the best make. While unused to horses and
largely ignorant of the country, they had good officers and they
stood firm. The Southern charge, meeting a second volley from the
breech-loading rifles, broke upon their front.

Harry, almost by the side of Sherburne, felt the shock as they galloped
into the battle smoke, and then he felt the Virginians reel. He heard
around him the rapid crackle of rifles and pistols, sabers clashing
together, the shouts of men, the terrible neighing of wounded horses,
and then the two forces drew apart, leaving a sprinkling of dead and
wounded between.

It was a half retreat by either, the two drawing back sixty or seventy
yards apiece and then beginning a scattered and irregular fire from the
rifles. But Sherburne, alert always, soon drew his men into the shelter
of the woods, and attempted an attack on his enemy’s flank.

Some destruction was created in the Union ranks by the fire from the
cover of the forest, but the officers of the opposing force showed
skill, too. Harry had no doubt from the way the Northern troops were
handled that at least two or three West Pointers were there. They
quickly fell back into the forest on the other side of the road, and
sent return volleys.

Harry heard the whistle and whizz of bullets all about them. Bark was
clipped from trees and dry twigs fell. Yet little damage was done by
either. The forest, although leafless, was dense, and trunks and low
boughs afforded much shelter. Both ceased fire presently, seeming to
realize at the same moment that nothing was being done, and hovered
among the trees, each watching for what the other would try next.

Harry kept close to Captain Sherburne, whose face plainly showed signs
of deep disgust. His heart was full of battle and he wished to get at
the enemy. But prudence forbade another charge upon a force double
his numbers and now sheltered by a wood. At this moment it was the boy
beside him who was cooler than he.

“Captain Sherburne,” he suggested mildly, “didn’t General Jackson merely
want to find out what was ahead of him? When the army comes up it will
sweep this force out of its way.”

“That’s so,” agreed Sherburne reluctantly, “but if we retire they’ll
claim a victory, and our men will be depressed by the suspicion of
defeat.”

“But the Yankees are retiring already. Look, you can see them
withdrawing! They were on the same business that we were, and it’s far
more important for them to be sure that Jackson is advancing than it is
for us to know that an enemy’s in front.”

“You’re right. We knew already that he was there, and we were watching
to get him. It’s foolish for us to stay here, squabbling with a lot of
obstinate Yankees. We’ll go back to Jackson as fast as we can. You’re a
bright boy, Harry.”

He dropped a hand affectionately on Harry’s shoulder, then gave the
order to the men and they turned their horses’ heads toward the army.
At the same time they saw with their own eyes the complete withdrawal
of the Union troops, and the proud Virginians were satisfied. It was no
defeat. It was merely a parting by mutual consent, each moving at the
same instant, that is, if the Yankees didn’t go first.

They galloped back over the frozen road, and Captain Sherburne admitted
once more to himself the truth of Harry’s suggestion. Already the
twilight was coming, and again it was heavy with clouds. In the east all
the peaks and ridges were wrapped about with them, and the captain knew
that they meant more snow. Heavy snow was the worst of all things for
the advance of Jackson.

Captain Sherburne gave another signal to his men and they galloped
faster. The hoofbeats of nearly two hundred horses rang hard on the
frozen road, but with increased speed pulses throbbed faster and spirits
rose. The average age of the troops was not over twenty, and youth
thought much of action, little of consequences.

They saw in a half hour the heads of columns toiling up the slopes,
and then Jackson riding on Little Sorrel, his shoulders bent forward
slightly, the grave eyes showing that the great mind behind them was
still at work, planning, planning, always planning. Their expression
did not change when Sherburne, halting his horse before him, saluted
respectfully.

“What did you find, Captain Sherburne?” he asked.

“The enemy, sir. We ran into a force of cavalry about four hundred
strong.”

“And then?”

“We had a smart little skirmish with them, sir, and then both sides
withdrew.”

“Undoubtedly they went to report to their people, as you have come to
report to yours. It looks as if our attempt to surprise Bath might fail,
but we’ll try to reach it to-night. Lieutenant Kenton, ride back and
give the brigade commanders orders to hasten their march.”

He detached several others of his staff for the same duty, and in most
cases wrote brief notes for them. Harry noticed how he took it for
granted that one was always willing to do work, and yet more work.
He himself had just ridden back from battle, and yet he was sent
immediately on another errand. He noticed, too, how it set a new
standard for everybody. This way Jackson had of expecting much was
rapidly causing his men to offer much as a matter of course.

While Jackson was writing the notes to the brigadiers he looked up once
or twice at the darkening skies. The great mass of clouds, charged with
snow that had been hovering in the east, was now directly overhead. When
he had finished the last note it was too dark for him to write any more
without help of torch. As he handed the note to the aide who was to take
it, a great flake of snow fell upon his hand.

Harry found that the brigades could move no faster. They were already
toiling hard. The twilight had turned to night, and the clouds covered
the whole circle of the heavens. The snow, slow at first, was soon
falling fast. The soldiers brushed it off for a while, and then, feeling
that it was no use, let it stay. Ten thousand men, white as if wrapped
in winding sheets, marched through the mountains. Now and then, a thin
trickle of red from a foot, encased in a shoe worn through, stained the
snow.

The wind was not blowing, and the night, reinforced by the clouds,
became very dark, save the gleam from the white covering of snow upon
the earth. Torches began to flare along the line, and still Jackson
marched. Harry knew what was in his mind. He wished to reach Bath that
night and fall upon the enemy when he was not expected, even though that
enemy had been told that Jackson was coming. The commander in front,
whoever he might be, certainly would expect no attack in the middle of
the night and in a driving snowstorm.

But the fierce spirit of Jackson was forced to yield at last. His
men, already the best marchers on the American continent, could go no
farther. The order was given to camp. Harry more than guessed how bitter
was the disappointment of his commander, and he shared it.

The men, half starved and often stiff with cold, sank down by the
roadside. They no longer asked for the wagons containing their food and
heavy clothing, because they no longer expected them. They passed from
high spirits to a heavy apathy, and now they did not seem to care what
happened. But the officers roused them up as much as possible, made them
build fires with every piece of wood they could find, and then let
them wrap themselves in their blankets and go to sleep--save for the
sentinels.

All night long the snow beat on Jackson’s army lying there among the
mountains, and save for a few Union officers not far away, both North
and South wondered what had become of it.

It was known at Washington and Richmond that Jackson had left
Winchester, and then he had dropped into the dark. The eyes of the
leaders at both capitals were fixed upon the greater armies of McClellan
and Johnston, and Stonewall Jackson was not yet fully understood by
either. Nevertheless, the gaunt and haggard President of the North began
to feel anxiety about this Confederate leader who had disappeared with
his army in the mountains of Northern Virginia.

The telegraph wires were not numerous then, but they were kept busy
answering the question about Jackson. Banks and the other Union leaders
in the valley sent reassuring replies. Jackson would not dare to attack
them. They had nearly three times as many men as he, and it did not
matter what had become of him. If he chose to come, the sooner he came,
the sooner he would be annihilated. McClellan himself laughed at the
fears about Jackson. He was preparing his own great army for a march on
Richmond, one that would settle everything.

But the army of Jackson, nevertheless, rose from the snow the next
morning, and marched straight on the Union garrison. The rising was made
near Bath, and the army literally brushed the snow from itself before
eating the half of a breakfast, and taking to the road again, Jackson,
on Little Sorrel, leading them. Harry, as usual, rode near him.

Harry, despite exertions and hardships which would have overpowered
him six months before, did not feel particularly hungry or weary that
morning. No one in the army had caught more quickly than he the spirit
of Stonewall Jackson. He could endure anything, and in another hour
or two they would pass out of this wilderness of forest and snow, and
attack the enemy. Bath was just ahead.

A thrill passed through the whole army. Everybody knew that Jackson was
about to attack. While the first and reluctant sun of dawn was trying to
pierce the heavy clouds, the regiments, spreading out to right and
left to enclose Bath, began to march. Then the sun gave up its feeble
attempts, the clouds closed in entirely, the wind began to blow hard,
and with it came a blinding snow, and then a bitter hail.

Harry had been sent by Jackson to the right flank with orders and he was
to remain there, unless it became necessary to inform the commander that
some regiment was not doing its duty. But he found them all marching
forward, and, falling in with the Invincibles, he marched with them.
Yet it was impossible for the lines to retain cohesion or regularity, so
fierce was the beat of the storm.

It was an alternation of blinding snow and of hail that fairly stung.
Often the officers could not see the men thirty yards distant, and
there was no way of knowing whether the army was marching forward in
the complete half circle as planned. Regiments might draw apart, leaving
wide gaps between, and no one would know it in all that hurricane.

Harry rode by the side of Colonel Leonidas Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel
Hector St. Hilaire, who were leading the Invincibles in person. Both
had gray military cloaks drawn around them, but Harry saw that they
were shivering with cold as they sat on their horses, with the snow
accumulating on their shoulders and on the saddles around them. In
truth, the foot cavalry had rather the better of it, as the hard
marching kept up the circulation.

“Not much like the roses of Charleston,” said Colonel Talbot, faintly
smiling.

“But I’m glad to be here,” said Harry, “although I will admit, sir, that
I did not expect a campaign to the North Pole.”

“Neither did I, but I’m prepared for anything now, under the commander
that we have. Bear in mind, my young friend, that this is for your
private ear only.”

“Of course, sir! What was that? Wasn’t it a rifle shot?”

“The report is faint, but it was certainly made by a rifle. And hark,
there are others! We’ve evidently come upon their outposts! Confound
this storm! It keeps us from seeing more than twenty yards in front of
us!”

The scattered rifle fire continued, and the weary soldiers raised their
heads which they had bent to shelter their eyes from the driving snow
and hail. Pulses leaped up again, and blood sparkled. The whole army
rushed forward. The roofs of houses came into view, and there was Bath.

But the firing had been merely that of a small rear guard, skirmishers
who surrendered promptly. The garrison, warned doubtless by Shepard,
and then the scouting troop, had escaped across the river, but Jackson’s
wintry march was not wholly in vain. The fleeing Union troops had no
time either to carry away or destroy the great stores of supplies,
accumulated there for the winter, and the starving and freezing
Southerners plunged at once into the midst of plenty, ample compensation
to the young privates.

The population, ardently Southern, as everywhere in these Virginia
towns, welcomed the army with wild enthusiasm. Officers and soldiers
were taken into the houses, as many as Bath could hold, and enormous
fires were built in the open spaces for the others. They also showed the
way at once to the magazines, where the Union supplies were heaped up.

Harry, at the direction of his general, went with one of the detachments
to seize these. Their first prize was an old but large storehouse,
crammed full of the things they needed most. The tall mountain youth,
Seth Moore, was one of his men, and he proved to be a prince of looters.

“Blankets! blankets!” cried Moore. “Here they are, hundreds of ‘em! An’
look at these barrels! Bacon! Beef! Crackers! An’ look at the piles of
cheese! Oh, Lieutenant Kenton, how my mouth waters! Can’t I bite into
one o’ them cheeses?”

“Not yet,” said Harry, whose own mouth was watering, too, “but you can,
Seth, within ten minutes at the farthest. The whole army must bite at
once.”

“That’s fa’r an’ squar’, but ain’t this richness! Cove oysters, cans an’
cans of ‘em, an’ how I love ‘em! An’ sardines, too, lots of ‘em! Why,
I could bite right through the tin boxes to get at ‘em. An’ rice, an’
hominy, an’ bags o’ flour. Why, the North has been sendin’ whole train
loads of things down here for us to eat!”

“And she has been sending more than that,” said Harry. “Here are five
or six hundred fine breech-loading rifles, and hundreds of thousands
of cartridges. She’s been sending us arms and ammunition with which to
fight her!”

His boyish spirit burst forth. Even though an officer, he could not
control them, and he was radiant as the looting Seth Moore himself. He
went out to report the find and to take measures concerning it. On his
way he met hundreds of the Southern youths who had already put on heavy
blue overcoats found in the captured stores. The great revulsion had
come. They were laughing and cheering and shaking the hands of one
another. It was a huge picnic, all the more glorious because they had
burst suddenly out of the storm and the icy wilderness.

But order was soon restored, and wrapped in warm clothing they feasted
like civilized men, the great fires lighting up the whole town with a
cheerful glow. Harry was summoned to new duties. He was also a new
man. Warmth and food had doubled his vitality, and he was ready for any
errand on which Jackson might send him.

While it was yet snowing, he rode with a half dozen troopers toward
the Potomac. On the other side was a small town which also held a Union
garrison. Scouting warily along the shores, Harry discovered that the
garrison was still there. Evidently the enemy believed in the protection
of the river, or many of their leaders could not yet wholly believe that
Jackson and his army, making a forced march in the dead of winter, were
at hand.

But he had no doubt that his general would attend to these obstinate
men, and he rode back to Bath with the news. Jackson gave his worn
troops a little more rest. They were permitted to spend all that day and
night at Bath, luxuriating and renewing their strength and spirits.

Harry slept, for the first time in many nights, in a house, and he made
the most of it, because he doubted whether he would have another such
chance soon. Dawn found the army up and ready to march away from this
place of delight.

They went up and down the Potomac three or four days, scattering
or capturing small garrisons, taking fresh supplies and spreading
consternation among the Union forces in Northern Virginia and Maryland.
It was all done in the most bitter winter weather and amid storms of
snow and hail. The roads were slippery with sleet, and often the cavalry
were compelled to dismount and lead their horses long distances. There
was little fighting because the Northern enemy was always in numbers
too small to resist, but there was a great deal of hard riding and many
captures.

News of Jackson’s swoop began to filter through to both Richmond and
Washington. In Richmond they wondered and rejoiced. In Washington they
wondered, but did not rejoice. They had not expected there any blow to
be struck in the dead of winter, and Lincoln demanded of his generals
why they could not do as well. Distance and the vagueness of the news
magnified Jackson’s exploits and doubled his numbers. Eyes were turned
with intense anxiety toward that desolate white expanse of snow and ice,
in the midst of which he was operating.

Jackson finally turned his steps toward Romney, which had been the Union
headquarters, and his men, exhausted and half starved, once more dragged
themselves over the sleety roads. Winter offered a fresh obstacle at
every turn. Even the spirits of Harry, who had borrowed so much from the
courage of Jackson, sank somewhat. As they pulled themselves through the
hills on their last stage toward Romney, he was walking. His horse had
fallen three times that day on the ice, and was now too timid to carry
his owner.

So Harry led him. The boy’s face and hands were so much chapped and
cracked with the cold that they bled at times. But he wasted no
sympathy on himself. It was the common fate of the army. Jackson and
his generals, themselves, suffered in the same way. Jackson was walking,
too, for a while, leading his own horse.

Harry was sent back to bring up the Invincibles, as Romney was now
close at hand, and there might be a fight. He found his old colonel and
lieutenant-colonel walking over the ice. Both were thin, and were black
under the eyes with privation and anxiety. These were not in appearance
the men whom he had known in gay and sunny Charleston, though in spirit
the same. They gave Harry a welcome and hoped that the enemy would wait
for them in Romney.

“I don’t think so,” said Harry, “but I’ve orders for you from General
Jackson to bring up the Invincibles as fast as possible.”

“Tell General Jackson that we’ll do our best,” said Colonel Talbot, as
he looked back at his withered column.

They seemed to Harry to be withered indeed, they were so gaunt with
hardship and drawn up so much with cold. Many wore the blue Northern
overcoats that they had captured at Bath, and more had tied up their
throats and ears in the red woolen comforters of the day, procured at
the towns through which they passed. They, too, were gaunt of cheek and
black under the eye like their officers.

The Invincibles under urging increased their speed, but not much. Little
reserve strength was left in them. Langdon and St. Clair, who had been
sent along the line, returned to Colonel Talbot where Harry was still
waiting.

“They’re not going as fast as a railroad train,” said Langdon in an
aside to Harry, “but they’re doing their best. You can’t put in a well
more than you can take out of it, and they’re marching now not on their
strength, but their courage. Still, it might be worse. We might all be
dead.”

“But we’re not dead, by a big margin, and I think we’ll make another
haul at Romney.”

“But Old Jack won’t let us stay and enjoy it. I never saw a man so much
in love with marching. The steeper the hills and mountains, the colder
the day, the fiercer the sleet and snow, the better he likes it.”

“The fellow who said General Jackson didn’t care anything about our feet
told the truth,” said St. Clair, thoughtfully. “The general is not a
cruel man, but he thinks more of Virginia and the South, and our cause,
than he does of us. If it were necessary to do so to win he’d sacrifice
us to the last man and himself with us.”

“And never think twice before doing it. You’ve sized him up,” said
Harry. The army poured into Romney and found no enemy. Again a garrison
had escaped through the mountain snows when the news reached it that
Jackson was at hand. But they found supplies of food, filled their empty
stomachs, and as Langdon had foretold, quickly started anew in search of
another enemy elsewhere.

But the men finally broke down under the driving of the merciless
Jackson. Many of them began to murmur. They had left the bleeding trail
of their feet over many an icy road, and some said they were ready to
lie down in the snow and die before they would march another mile. A
great depression, which was physical rather than mental, a depression
born of exhaustion and intense bodily suffering, seized the army.

Jackson, although with a will of steel, was compelled to yield. Slowly
and with reluctance, he led his army back toward Winchester, leaving
a large garrison in Romney. But Harry knew what he had done, although
nothing more than skirmishes had been fought. He had cleared a wide
region of the enemy. He had inspired enthusiasm in the South, and he had
filled the North with alarm. The great movement of McClellan on Richmond
must beware of its right flank. A dangerous foe was there who might
sting terribly, and men had learned already that none knew when or
whence Jackson might come.

A little more than three weeks after their departure Harry and his
friends and the army, except the portion left in garrison at Romney,
returned to Winchester, the picturesque and neat little Virginia city so
loyal to the South. It looked very good indeed to Harry as he drew near.
He liked the country, rolling here and there, the hills crested with
splendid groves of great trees. The Little North Mountain a looming blue
shadow to the west, and the high Massanutton peaks to the south seemed
to guard it round. And the valley itself was rich and warm with the fine
farms spread out for many miles. Despite the engrossing pursuit of the
enemy and of victory and glory, Harry’s heart thrilled at the sight of
the red brick houses of Winchester.

Here came a period of peace so far as war was concerned, but of great
anxiety to Harry and the whole army. The government at Richmond began
to interfere with Jackson. It thought him too bold, even rash, and it
wanted him to withdraw the garrison at Romney, which was apparently
exposed to an attack by the enemy in great force. It was said that
McClellan had more than two hundred thousand men before Washington,
and an overwhelming division from it might fall at any time upon the
Southern force at Romney.

Harry, being a member of Jackson’s staff, and having become a favorite
with him, knew well his reasons for standing firm. January, which had
furnished so fierce a month of winter, was going. The icy country was
breaking up under swift thaws, and fields and destroyed roads were a
vast sea of mud in which the feet of infantry, the hoofs of horses and
the wheels of cannon would sink deep.

Jackson did not believe that McClellan had enough enterprise to order
a march across such an obstacle, but recognizing the right of his
government to expect obedience, he sent his resignation to Richmond.
Harry knew of it, his friends knew of it, and their hearts sank like
plummets in a pool.

Another portion of the Invincibles had been drawn off to reinforce
Johnston’s army before Richmond, as they began to hear rumors now that
McClellan would come by sea instead of land, and their places were
filled with more recruits from the valley of Virginia. Scarcely
a hundred of the South Carolinians were left, but the name, “The
Invincibles” and the chief officers, stayed behind. Jackson had been
unwilling to part with Colonel Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel St.
Hilaire, experienced and able West Pointers. Langdon and St. Clair also
stayed.

Harry talked over the resignation with these friends of his, and they
showed an anxiety not less than his own. It had become evident to the
two veteran West Pointers that Jackson was the man. Close contact with
him had enabled them to read his character and immense determination.

“I hope that our government at Richmond will decline this resignation
and give him a free hand,” said Colonel Talbot to Harry. “It would be a
terrible loss if he were permitted to drop out of the army. I tell you
for your own private ear that I have taken it upon me to Write a letter
of protest to President Davis himself. I felt that I could do so,
because Mr. Davis and myself were associated closely in the Mexican
War.”

The answer came in time from Richmond. Stonewall Jackson was retained
and a freer hand was given to him. Harry and all his comrades felt an
immense relief, but he did not know until long afterward how near the
Confederacy had come to losing the great Jackson.

Benjamin, the Secretary of War, and President Davis both were disposed
to let him go, but the powerful intervention of Governor Letcher of
Virginia induced them to change their minds. Moreover, hundreds of
letters from leading Virginians who knew Jackson well poured in upon
him, asking him to withdraw the resignation. So it was arranged and
Jackson remained, biding his time for the while at Winchester, until he
could launch the thunderbolt.

A pleasant month for Harry, and all the young staff officers passed at
Winchester. The winter of intense cold had now become one of tremendous
rain. It poured and it poured, and it never ceased to pour. Between
Winchester and Washington and McClellan’s great army was one vast
flooded area, save where the hills and mountains stood.

But in Winchester the Southern troops were warm and comfortable. It was
a snug town within its half circle of mountains. Its brick and wooden
houses were solid and good. The young officers when they went on errands
trod on pavements of red brick, and oaks and elms and maples shaded them
nearly all the way.

When Harry, who went oftenest on such missions, returned to his general
with the answers, he walked up a narrow street, where the silver maples,
which would soon begin to bud under the continuous rain, grew thickest,
and came to a small building in which other officers like himself wrote
at little tables or waited in full uniform to be sent upon like errands.
If it were yet early he would find Jackson there, but if it were late
he would cross a little stretch of grass to the parsonage, the large
and solid house, where the Presbyterian minister, Dr. Graham, lived, and
where Jackson, with his family, who had joined him, now made his home in
this month of waiting.

It was here that Harry came one evening late in February. It had been
raining as usual, and he wore one of the long Union overcoats captured
at Bath, blue then but a faded grayish brown now. However, the gray
Confederate uniform beneath it was neat and looked fresh. Harry was
always careful about his clothing, and the example of St. Clair inspired
him to greater efforts. Besides, there was a society in Winchester,
including many handsome young women of the old Virginia families, and
even a budding youth who was yet too young for serious sentimentalism,
could not ignore its existence.

It was twilight and the cold rain was still coming down steadily, as
Harry walked across the grass, and looked out of the wet dusk at the
manse. Lights were shining from every window, and there was warmth
around his heart. The closer association of many weeks with Jackson
had not only increased his admiration, but also had given the general a
great place in the affection that a youth often feels for an older man
whom he deems a genius or a hero.

Harry walked upon a little portico, and taking off the overcoat shook
out the rain drops. Then he hung it on a hook against the wall of the
house. The door was open six inches or so, and a ribbon of brilliant
light from within fell across the floor of the portico.

Harry looked at the light and smiled. He was young and he loved gayety.
He smiled again when he heard within the sound of laughter. Then he
pushed the door farther open and entered. Now the laughter rose to a
shout, and it was accompanied by the sound of footsteps. A man, thick
of hair and beard, was running down a stairway. Perched high upon his
shoulders was a child of three or four years, with both hands planted
firmly in the thick hair. The small feet crossed over the man’s neck
kicked upon his chest, but he seemed to enjoy the sport as much as the
child did.

Harry paused and stood at attention until the man saw him. Then he
saluted respectfully and said to General Jackson:

“I wish to report to you, sir, that I delivered the order to General
Garnett, as you directed, and here, sir, is his reply.”

He handed a note to the general, who read it, thrust it into his pocket,
and said:

“That ends your labors for the day, Lieutenant Kenton. Come in now and
join us.”

He picked up the child again, and carrying it in his arms, led the way
into an inner room, where he gave it to a nurse. Then they passed into
the library, where Dr. Graham, several generals and two or three of
Winchester’s citizens were gathered.

All gave Harry a welcome. He knew them well, and he looked around with
satisfaction at the large room, with its rows and rows of books, bound
mostly in dark leather, volumes of theology, history, essays, poetry,
and of the works of Walter Scott and Jane Austen. Jackson himself was a
rigid Presbyterian, and he and Dr. Graham had many a long talk in this
room on religion and other topics almost equally serious.

But to-night they were in a bright mood. A mountaineer had come in with
four huge wild turkeys, which he insisted upon giving to General Jackson
himself, and guests had been asked in to help eat them.

Nearly twenty people sat around the minister’s long table. The turkeys,
at least enough for present needs, were cooked beautifully, and all the
succulent dishes which the great Virginia valleys produce so fruitfully
were present. General Jackson himself, at the request of the minister,
said grace, and he said it so devoutly and so sincerely that it always
impressed the hearers with a sense of its reality.

It was full dusk and the rain was beating on the windows, when the black
attendants began to serve the guests at the great board. Several
ladies, including the general’s wife, were present. The room was lighted
brilliantly, and a big fire burned in the wide fireplace at the end.
To Harry, three seats away from General Jackson, there was a startling
contrast between the present moment and that swift campaign of theirs
through the wintry mountains where the feet of the soldiers left bloody
trails on the ice and snow.

It was a curious fact that for a few instants the mountain and the great
cold were real and this was but fancy. He looked more than once at the
cheerful faces and the rosy glow of the fire, before he could convince
himself that he was in truth here in Winchester, with all this comfort,
even luxury, around him.

Sitting next to him was a lady of middle age, Mrs. Howard, of prominence
in the town and a great friend of the Grahams. Harry realized suddenly
that while the others were talking he had said nothing, and he felt
guilty of discourtesy. He began an apology, but Mrs. Howard, who had
known him very well since he had been in Winchester, learning to call
him by his first name, merely smiled and the smile was at once maternal
and somewhat sad.

“No apologies are needed, Harry,” she said in a low tone that the others
might not hear. “I read your thoughts. They were away in the mountains
with a marching army. All this around us speaks of home and peace, but
it cannot last. All of you will be going soon.”

“That’s true, Mrs. Howard, I was thinking of march and battle, and I
believe you’re right in saying that we’ll all go soon. That is what
we’re for.”

She smiled again a little sadly.

“You’re a good boy, Harry,” she said, “and I hope that you and all your
comrades will come back in safety to Winchester. But that is enough
croaking from an old woman and I’m ashamed of myself. Did you ever see a
happier crowd than the one gathered here?”

“Not since I was in my father’s house when the relatives would come to
help us celebrate Christmas.”

“When did you hear from your father?” asked Mrs. Howard, whose warm
sympathies had caused Harry to tell her of his life and of his people
whom he had left behind in Kentucky.

“Just after the terrible disaster at Donelson. He was in the fort, but
he escaped with Forrest’s cavalry, and he went into Mississippi to join
the army under Albert Sidney Johnston. He sent a letter for me to
my home, Pendleton, under cover to my old teacher, Dr. Russell, who
forwarded it to me. It came only this morning.”

“How does he talk?”

“Hopefully, though he made no direct statement. I suppose he was afraid
to do so lest the letter fall into the hands of the Yankees, but
I imagine that General Johnston’s army is going to attack General
Grant’s.”

“If General Johnston can win a victory it will help us tremendously,
but I fear that man, Grant. They say that he had no more men at Donelson
than we, but he took the fort and its garrison.”

“It’s true. Our affairs have not been going well in the West.”

Harry was downcast for a few moments. Much of their Western news had
come through the filter of Richmond, but despite the brighter color that
the Government tried to put on it, it remained black. Forts and armies
had been taken. Nothing had been able to stop Grant. But youth again
came to Harry. He could not resist the bright light and the happy talk
about him. Bitter thoughts fled.

General Jackson was in fine humor. He and Dr. Graham had started to
discuss a problem in Presbyterian theology in which both were deeply
interested, but they quickly changed it in deference to the younger and
lighter spirits about them. Harry had never before seen his general
in so mellow a vein. Perhaps it was the last blaze of the home-loving
spirit, before entering into that storm of battle which henceforth was
to be his without a break.

The general, under urging, told of his life as an orphan boy in his
uncle’s rough home in the Virginia wilderness, how he had been seized
once by the wanderlust, then so strong in nearly all Americans, and
how he and his brother had gone all the way down the Ohio to the
Mississippi, where they had camped on a little swampy island, earning
their living by cutting wood for the steamers on the two rivers.

“How old were you two then, General?” asked Dr. Graham.

“The older of us was only twelve. But in those rough days boys matured
fast and became self-reliant at a very early age. We did not run away.
There wasn’t much opposition to our going. Our uncle was sure that we’d
come back alive, and though we arrived again in Virginia, five or six
hundred miles from our island in the river, all rags and filled with
fever, we were not regarded as prodigal sons. It was what hundreds, yes,
thousands of other boys did. In our pleasant uplands we soon got rid of
both rags and fever.”

“And you did not wish to return to the wilderness?”

“The temptation was strong at times, but it was defeated by other
ambitions. There was school and I liked sports. These soon filled up my
life.”

Harry knew much more about the life of Jackson, which the modesty of his
hero kept him from telling. Looking at the strong, active figure of
the man so near him he knew that he had once been delicate, doomed in
childhood, as many thought, to consumption, inherited from his mother.
But a vigorous life in the open air had killed all such germs. He was a
leader in athletic sports. He was a great horseman, and often rode as
a jockey for his uncle in the horse races which the open-air Virginians
loved so well, and in which they indulged so much. He could cut down a
tree or run a saw-mill, or drive four horses to a wagon, or seek deer
through the mountains with the sturdiest hunter of them all. And upon
top of this vigorous boyhood had come the long and severe training at
West Point, the most thorough and effective military school the world
has ever known.

Harry did not wonder, as he looked at his general, that he could dare
and do so much. He might be awkward in appearance, he might wear his
clothes badly, but the boy at ten years had been a man, doing a man’s
work and with a man’s soul. He had come into the field, no parade
soldier, but with a body and mind as tough and enduring as steel, the
whole surcharged and heated with a spirit of fire.

Both Harry and Mrs. Howard had become silent and were watching the
general. For some reason Jackson was more moved than usual. His manner
did not depart from its habitual gravity. He made no gestures, but the
blue eyes under the heavy brows were irradiated by a peculiar flashing
light.

The long dinner went on. It was more of a festival than a banquet, and
Harry at last gave himself up entirely to its luxurious warmth. The
foreboding that their mellow days in the pleasant little city were over,
was gone, but it was destined to come again. Now, after the dinner was
finished, and the great table was cleared away, they sat and talked,
some in the dining room and some in the library.

It was still raining, that cold rain which at times turns for a moment
or two to snow, and it dashed in gusts against the window panes. Harry
was with some of the younger people in the library, where they were
playing at games. The sport lagged presently and he went to a window,
where he stood between the curtain and the glass.

He saw the outside dimly, the drenched lawn, and the trees beyond, under
which two or three sentinels, wrapped closely in heavy coats, walked to
and fro. He gazed at them idly, and then a shadow passed between him and
them. He thought at first that it was a blurring of the glass by some
stronger gust of rain, but the next moment his experience told him that
it could not be so. He had seen a shadow, and the shadow was that of a
man, sliding along against the wall of the house, in order that he might
not be seen by a sentinel.

Harry’s suspicions were up and alive in an instant. In this border
country spies were numerous. It was easy to be a spy where people looked
alike and spoke the same language with the same accent. His suspicions,
too, centered at once upon Shepard, whom he knew to be so daring and
skillful.

The lad was prompt to act. He slipped unnoticed into the hall, put on
his greatcoat, felt of the pistol in his belt, opened the front door and
stepped out into the dark and the rain.



CHAPTER V. THE NORTHERN ADVANCE


Harry flattened himself against the wall and all his training and
inherited instincts came promptly to his service. He knew that he, too,
would be in the shadow there, where it was not likely that the sentinels
could see him owing to the darkness of the night. Then he moved
cautiously toward the window where he had seen the outline.

The cold rain beat on his face and he saw the figures of the sentinels
moving back and forth, but, black against the black wall, he was
confident that he could not be seen by them. Half way to the window, his
eyes now having gotten used to the darkness, he knelt down and examined
the earth, made soft by the rains. He distinctly saw footprints,
undoubtedly those of a man, leading by the edge of the wall, and now he
knew that he had not been mistaken.

Harry came to the window himself, and, glancing in, he saw that the
merriment was going on unabated. He continued his search, following the
revealing foot prints. He went nearly all the way around the house and
then lost them among heavy shrubbery. He surmised that at this point
the spy--he was sure that it was a spy and sure, too, that it was
Shepard--had left the place, passing between the sentinels in the rainy
dark.

He spoke to the sentinels, who knew him well, and they were quite
confident that nobody had come within their lines. But Harry, while
keeping his own counsel, held another opinion and he was equally
positive about it. He was returning to the house, when he heard the
tread of hoofs, and then a horseman spoke with the sentinels. He looked
back and recognized Sherburne.

The young captain was holding himself erect in the saddle, but his horse
and his uniform were covered with red mud. There were heavy black lines
under his eyes and his face, despite his will, showed strong signs of
weariness. Sure that his mission was important, Harry went to him at
once.

“Is General Jackson inside?” asked Sherburne.

“Yes, and he has not yet gone to bed,” replied Harry, looking at the
lighted windows.

“Then ask him if I can see him at once. He sent my troop and me on a
scout toward Romney this morning. I have news, news that cannot wait.”

“Of course, he’ll see you. Come inside.”

Sherburne slipped from his horse. Harry noticed that it was not his
usual elastic spring. He seemed almost to fall to the ground, and the
horse, no hand on the reins, still stood motionless, his head drooping.
It was evident that Sherburne was in the last stages of exhaustion,
and now that he came nearer his face showed great anxiety as well as
weariness.

Harry opened the door promptly and pushed him inside. Then he helped him
off with his wet and muddy overcoat, pushed him into a chair, and said:

“I’ll announce you to General Jackson, and he’ll see you at once.”

Harry knew that Jackson would not linger a second, when a messenger of
importance came, and he went into the library where the minister and
the general stood talking. General Jackson held in one hand a large
leather-covered volume, and with the forefinger of the other hand he was
pointing to a paragraph in it. The minister was saying something
that Harry did not catch, but he believed that they were arguing some
disputed point of Presbyterian doctrine.

When Jackson saw Harry he closed the book instantly, and put it on the
shelf. He had seen in the eyes of his aide that he was coming with no
common message.

“Captain Sherburne is in the hall, sir,” said the boy. “He has come back
from the scout toward Romney.”

“Bring him in.”

The minister quietly slipped out, as Sherburne entered, but Jackson bade
Harry remain, saying that he might have orders for him to carry.

“What have you to tell me, Captain Sherburne?” asked Jackson.

“We saw the patrols of the enemy, and we took two prisoners. We learned
that McClellan’s army is showing signs of moving, and we saw with
our own eyes that Banks and Shields are preparing for the same. They
threaten us here in Winchester.”

“What force do you think Banks has?”

“He must have forty thousand men.”

“A good guess. The figures of my spies say thirty-eight thousand, and we
can muster scarcely five thousand here. We must move.”

Jackson spoke without emotion. His words were cold and dry, even formal.
Harry’s heart sank. If eight times their numbers were advancing upon
them, then they must abandon Winchester. They must leave to the enemy
this pleasant little city, so warmly devoted to the Southern cause and
confess weakness and defeat to these friends who had done so much for
them during their stay.

He felt the full bitterness of the blow. The people of the South--little
immigration had gone there--were knit together more closely by ties of
kinship than those of the North. Harry through the maternal line was,
like most Kentuckians, of Virginia descent, and even here in Winchester
he had found cousins, more or less removed it was true, but it was
kinship, nevertheless, and they had made the most of it. It would have
been easier for him were strangers instead of friends to see their
retreat.

“Captain Sherburne, you will go to your quarters and sleep. It is
obvious that you need rest,” said Jackson. “Mr. Kenton, you will wait
and take the orders that I am going to write.”

Sherburne saluted and withdrew promptly. Jackson turned to a shelf of
the library on which lay pen, ink and paper, and standing before it
rapidly wrote several notes. It was his favorite attitude--habit of his
West Point days--to write or read standing.

It took him less than five minutes to write the notes, and he handed
them to Harry to deliver without delay to the brigade commanders. His
tones were incisive and charged with energy. Harry felt the electric
thrill pass to himself, and with a quick salute he was once more out in
the rain.

Some of the brigadiers were asleep, and grumbled when Harry awoke them,
but the orders soon sent the last remnants of sleep flying. The boy did
not linger, but returned quickly to the manse, where General Jackson met
him at the door. Other aides were coming or going, but all save one or
two windows of the house were dark now, and the merrymaking was over.

“You have delivered the orders?” asked Jackson.

“Yes, sir, all of them.”

Harry also told then of the face that he had seen at the window and his
belief concerning its identity.

“Very likely,” said Jackson, “but we cannot pursue him now. Now go to
headquarters and sleep, but I shall want you at dawn.”

Harry was ready before the first sunlight, and that day consternation
spread through Winchester. The enemy was about to advance in
overwhelming force, and Jackson was going to leave them. Johnston was
retreating before McClellan, and Jackson in the valley must retreat
before Banks.

There could be no doubt about the withdrawal of Jackson. The
preparations were hurried forward with the utmost vigor. A train took
the sick to Staunton, and in one of the coaches went Mrs. Jackson to her
father’s home. Town and camp were filled with talk of march and battle,
and the younger rejoiced. They felt that a month of waiting had made
them rusty.

Amid all the bustle Jackson found time to attend religious services,
and also ordered every wagon that reached the camp with supplies to be
searched. If liquor were found it was thrown at once upon the ground.
The soldiers, even the recruits, knew that they were to follow a
God-fearing man. Oliver Cromwell had come back to earth. But most of the
soldiers were now disciplined thoroughly. The month they had spent at
Winchester after the great raid had been devoted mostly to drill.

The day of departure came and the army, amid the good wishes of many
friends in Winchester, filed out of the town. The great rains, which, it
had seemed, would never cease, had ceased at last. There was a touch of
spring in the air, and in sheltered places the grass was taking on deep
tints of green.

During all the days of preparation Jackson had said nothing about his
plan of retreat. The Virginians, lining the streets and watching so
anxiously, did not know where he would seek refuge. And suddenly as they
watched, a cheer, tremendous and involuntary, burst from them.

The heads of Jackson’s columns were turned north. He was not marching
away from the enemy. He was marching toward him. But the burst of
elation was short. Even the civilians in Winchester knew that Jackson
was hugely outnumbered.

Harry himself was astonished, and he gazed at his leader. What
fathomless purpose lay beneath that stern, bearded face? Jackson’s eyes
expressed nothing. He and he alone knew what was in his mind.

But the troops asked no word from their leaders. The fact that their
faces were turned toward the north was enough for them. They knew, too,
of the heavy odds that were against them, but they were not afraid.

As Harry watched the young soldiers, many of whom sang as they marched,
his own enthusiasm rose. He had seen companies in brilliant uniforms at
Richmond, but no parade soldiers were here. There were few glimpses of
color in the columns, but the men marched with a strong, elastic step.
They had all been born upon the farms or in the little villages, and
they were familiar with the hills and forests. They had been hunters,
too, as soon as their arms were strong enough to hold rifle or shot gun.
Most of them had killed deer or bear in the mountains, and all of them
had known how to ride from earliest childhood. They had endured every
hardship and they knew how to take care of themselves in any kind of
country and in any kind of weather.

Harry smiled as he looked at their uniforms. How different they were
from some of the gay young companies of Charleston! These uniforms had
been spun for them and made for them by their own mothers and wives and
sisters or sweethearts. They were all supposed to be gray, but there
were many shades of gray, sometimes verging to a light blue, with
butternut as the predominant color. They wore gray jackets, short of
waist and single-breasted. Caps were giving way to soft felt hats,
and boots had already been supplanted by broad, strong shoes, called
brogans.

Many of the soldiers carried frying pans and skillets hung on the
barrels of their rifles, simple kitchen utensils which constituted
almost the whole of their cooking equipment. Their blankets and rubber
sheets for sleeping were carried in light rolls on their backs. A
toothbrush was stuck in a buttonhole. On their flanks or in front rode
the cavalry, led by the redoubtable Turner Ashby, and there was in
all their number scarcely a single horseman who did not ride like the
Comanche Indian, as if he were born in the saddle. Ashby was a host in
himself. He had often ridden as much as eighty miles a day to inspect
his own pickets and those of the enemy, and it was told of him that he
had once gone inside the Union lines in the disguise of a horse doctor.

The Northern cavalry, unused to the saddle, compared very badly with
those of the South in the early years of the war. Ashby’s men, moreover,
rode over country that they had known all their lives. There was no
forest footpath, no train among the hills hidden from them. But the
cannon of Jackson’s army was inferior. Here the mechanical genius of the
North showed supreme.

Such was the little army of Jackson, somber to see, which marched forth
upon a campaign unrivalled in the history of war. The men whom they
were to meet were of staunch stock and spirit themselves. Banks, their
commander, had worked in his youth as a common laborer in a cotton mill,
and had forced himself up by vigor and energy, but Shields was a veteran
of the Mexican War. Most of the troops had come from the west, and they,
too, were used to every kind of privation and hardship.

Harry’s duties carried him back and forth with the marching columns,
but he lingered longest beside the Invincibles, only a regiment now, and
that regiment composed almost wholly of Virginians. St. Clair was still
in the smartest of uniforms, a contrast to the others, and as he nodded
to Harry he told him that the troops expected to meet the enemy before
night.

“I don’t know how they got that belief,” he said, “but I know it extends
to all our men. What about it, Harry?”

“Stonewall Jackson alone knows, and he’s not telling.”

“They say that Banks is coming with ten to one!” said Langdon, “but it
might be worse than that. It might be a hundred to one.”

“It’s hardly as bad as ten to one, Tom,” said Harry with a laugh.
“Ashby’s men say it’s only eight to one, and they know.”

“It’s all right, then,” said Langdon, squaring his shoulders, and
looking ferocious. “Ten to one would be a little rough on us, but I
don’t mind eight to one at all! at all! They say that the army of Banks
is not many miles away. Is it so, Harry?”

“I suppose so. That’s the news the cavalry bring in.”

Harry rode on, saluting Colonel Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel St.
Hilaire as he passed. They returned the salutes, but said nothing, and
in a few minutes he was with General Jackson again.

It was now March, and the spring was making headway in the great valley.
The first flush of green was over everything. The snows were gone, the
rains that followed were gone, too, and the earth was drying rapidly
under the mild winds that blew from the mountains. It was evident to all
that the forces of war were unloosed with the departure of winter.

The day was filled with excitement for Harry. The great Federal army was
now so near that the rival pickets were almost constantly in touch. Only
stern orders from Jackson kept his fiery cavalry from making attacks
which might have done damage, but not damage enough. Banks, the Union
leader, eminent through politics rather than war, having been Governor
of Massachusetts, showed the utmost caution. Feeling secure in
his numbers he resolved to risk nothing until he gained his main
object--Winchester--and the efforts of Turner Ashby and his brilliant
young lieutenants like Sherburne, could not lead him into any trap.

Night came and the Southern army stopped for supper and rest. The
Northern army was then only four miles from Winchester, and within a
half hour hostile pickets had been firing at one another. Yet the men
ate calmly and lay down under the trees. Jackson called a council in a
little grove. General Garnett, the commander of the Stonewall Brigade,
all the colonels of the regiments, and the most trusted young officers
of his staff were present. A little fire of fallen wood lighted up the
anxious and earnest faces.

Jackson spoke rapidly. Harry had never before seen him show so much
emotion and outward fire. He wanted to bring up all his men and attack
the Union army at once. He believed that the surprise and the immense
dash of the Southern troops would overcome the great odds. But the other
officers shook their heads sadly. There had been a confusion of orders.
Their own troops had been scattered and their supply trains were far
away. If they attacked they would surely fall.

Jackson reluctantly gave up his plan and walked gloomily away. But he
turned presently and beckoned to Harry and others of his staff. His eyes
were shining. Some strange mood seemed to possess him.

“Mount at once, gentlemen,” he said, “and ride with me. I’m going to
Winchester.”

One or two of the officers opened their mouths to protest, but checked
the words when they saw Jackson’s stern face. They sprang into the
saddle, and scorning possible attack or capture by roving Union cavalry,
galloped to the town.

Jackson drew rein before the manse, where Dr. Graham was already
standing at the open door to meet him, runners from the town carrying
ahead the news that Jackson was returning with his staff. It seemed that
something the general had said to the minister the day before troubled
him. Harry inferred from the words he heard that Jackson had promised
the minister too much and now he was stung by conscience. Doubtless
he had told Dr. Graham that he would never let the Federals take
Winchester, and he had come to apologize for his mistake. Harry was not
at all surprised. In fact, as he came to know him thoroughly, he was
never surprised at anything this strange man and genius did.

Harry’s surmise was right. Jackson was torn with emotion at being
compelled to abandon Winchester, and he wanted to explain how it was to
the friend whom he liked so well. He had thoughts even yet of striking
the enemy that night and driving him away. Looking the minister steadily
in the face, but not seeing him, seeing instead a field of battle, he
said slowly, biting each word:

“I--will--yet--carry--out--this plan. I--will--think. It--must be done.”

The minister said nothing, standing and staring at the general like
one fascinated. He had never seen Jackson that way before. His face
was lined with thought and his eyes burned like coals of fire. His
hand fiercely clinched the hilt of his sword. He, who showed emotion so
rarely, was overcome by it now.

But the fire in his eyes died, his head sank, and his hand fell from his
sword.

“No, no,” he said sadly. “I must not try it. Too many of my brave men
would fall. I must withdraw, and await a better time.”

Saying good-by to his friend he mounted and rode in silence from
Winchester again, and silently the people saw him go. His staff followed
without a word. When they reached a high hill overlooking the town
Jackson paused and the others paused with him. All turned as if by one
accord and looked at Winchester.

The skies were clear and a silver light shone over the town. It was a
beautiful, luminous light and it heightened the beauty of spire, roof,
and wall. Jackson looked at it a long time, the place where he had spent
such a happy month, and then, his eye blazing again, he lifted his hand
and exclaimed with fierce energy:

“That is the last council of war I will ever hold!”

Harry understood him. He knew that Jackson now felt that the council had
been too slow and too timid. Henceforth he would be the sole judge of
attack and retreat. But the general’s emotion was quickly suppressed.
Taking a last look at the little city that he loved so well, he rode
rapidly away, and his staff followed closely at his heels.

That was a busy and melancholy night. The young troops, after all, were
not to fight the enemy, but were falling back. Youth takes less account
than age of odds, and they did not wish to retreat. Harry who had seen
that look upon Jackson’s face, when he gazed back at Winchester, felt
that he would strike some mighty counter-blow, but he did not know how
or when.

The army withdrew slowly toward Strasburg, twenty-five miles away,
and the next morning the Union forces in overwhelming numbers occupied
Winchester. Meantime the North was urging McClellan with his mighty army
to advance on Richmond, and Stonewall Jackson and his few thousands who
had been driven out of Winchester were forgotten. The right flank of
McClellan, defended by Banks and forty thousand men, would be secure.

There was full warrant for the belief of McClellan. It seemed to Harry
as they retreated up the valley that they were in a hopeless checkmate.
What could a few thousand men, no matter how brave and hardy, do against
an army as large as that of Banks? But he was cheered somewhat by the
boldness and activity of the cavalry under Ashby. These daring horsemen
skirmished continually with the enemy, and Harry, as he passed back and
forth with orders, saw much of it.

Once he drew up with the Invincibles, now a Virginia instead of a
South Carolina regiment, and sitting on horseback with his old friends,
watched the puffs of smoke to the rear, where Ashby’s men kept back the
persistent skirmishers of the North.

“Colonel,” said Harry to Colonel Talbot, “what do you think of it? Shall
we ever make headway against such a force? Or shall we be compelled
to retreat until we make a junction with the main army under General
Johnston?”

Colonel Talbot glanced back at the puffs of white smoke, and suddenly
his eyes seemed to flash with the fire that Harry had seen in Jackson’s
when he looked upon the Winchester that he must leave.

“No, Harry, I don’t believe we’ll keep on retreating,” he replied. “I
was with General Taylor when he fell back before the Mexican forces
under Santa Anna which outnumbered him five to one. But at Buena Vista
he stopped falling back, and everybody knows the glorious victory we won
there over overwhelming odds. The Yankees are not Mexicans. Far from
it. They are as brave as anybody. But Stonewall Jackson is a far greater
general than Zachary Taylor.”

“I’m hoping for the best,” said Harry.

“We’ll all wait and see,” said the colonel.

They stopped falling back at Mount Jackson, twenty-five miles from
Winchester, and the army occupied a strong position. Harry felt
instinctively that they would fall back no more, and his spirits began
to rise again. But the facts upon which his hopes were based were small.
Jackson had less than five thousand men, and in the North he was wiped
off the map. It was no longer necessary for cabinet members and generals
to take him into consideration.

Jackson now out of the way, the main portion of the army under Banks was
directed to march eastward to Manassas, while a heavy detachment still
more than double Jackson’s in numbers remained in the valley. Meanwhile
McClellan, with his right flank clear, was going by sea to Richmond,
goaded to action at last by the incessant demands of a people which had
a right to expect much of his great and splendidly equipped army.

Harry was with Stonewall Jackson when the news of these movements
reached them, brought by Philip Sherburne, who, emulating his commander,
Turner Ashby, seemed never to rest or grow weary.

“General Banks is moving eastward to cover the eastern approaches to
Washington,” said the young captain, “while General Shields with 12,000
men is between us and Winchester.”

“So,” said Jackson. Sherburne looked at him earnestly, but he gave no
sign.

“Ride back to your chief and tell him I thank him for his vigilance and
to report to me promptly everything that he may discover,” said Jackson.
“You may ride with him also, Mr. Kenton, and return to me in an hour
with such news as you may have.”

Harry went gladly. Sometimes he longed to be at the front with Turner
Ashby, there where the rifles were often crackling.

“What will he do? Will he turn now?” said Sherburne anxiously to Harry.

“I heard General Jackson say that he would never hold another council
of war, and he’s keeping his word. Nobody knows his plans, but I think
he’ll attack. I feel quite sure of it, captain.”

They came soon to a field in which Turner Ashby was sitting on a
horse, examining points further down the valley with a pair of powerful
glasses. Sherburne reported briefly and Ashby nodded, but did not take
the glasses from his eyes. Harry also looked down the valley and his
strong sight enabled him to detect tiny, moving figures which he knew
were those of Union scouts and skirmishers.

Despite his youth and the ardor of battle in his nostrils, Harry felt
the tragedy of war in this pleasant country. It was a noble landscape,
that of the valley between the blue mountains. Before him stretched low
hills, covered here and there with fine groups of oak or pine without
undergrowth. Houses of red brick, with porticoes and green shutters,
stood in wide grounds. Most of them were inhabited yet, and their owners
always brought information to the soldiers of the South, never to those
of the North.

The earth had not yet dried fully from the great rains, and horses and
cannon wheels sank deep in the mud, whenever they left the turnpike
running down the center of the valley and across which a Northern army
under Shields lay. The men in blue occupied a wide stretch of grassy
fields on the east, and on the west a low hill, with a small grove
growing on the crest. Dominating the whole were the lofty cliffs of
North Mountain on the west. The main force of the North, strengthened
with cannon, lay to the east of the turnpike. But on the hill to the
west were two strong batteries and near it were lines of skirmishers.
Shields, a veteran of the Mexican war himself, was not present at this
moment, but Kimball, commanding in his absence, was alert and did not
share the general belief that Stonewall Jackson might be considered
non-existent.

Harry, things coming into better view, the longer he looked, saw much of
the Union position, and Turner Ashby presently handed him the glasses.
Then he plainly discerned the guns and a great mass of infantry, with
the colors waving above them in the gentle breeze.

“They’re there,” said Turner Ashby, dryly. “If we want to attack they’re
waiting.”

Harry rode back to Jackson, and told him that the whole Union force was
in position in front, and then the boy knew at once that a battle was
coming. The bearded, silent man showed no excitement, but sent orders
thick and fast to the different parts of his army. The cavalry led by
Ashby began to press the enemy hard in front of a little village called
Kernstown. A regiment with two guns led the advance on the west of the
turnpike, and the heavier mass of infantry marched across the fields on
the left.

Harry, as his duty bade him, kept beside his general, who was riding
near the head of the infantry. The feet of men and horses alike sank
deep in the soft earth of the fields, but they went forward at a good
pace, nevertheless. Their blood was hot and leaping. There was an end to
retreats. They saw the enemy and they were eager to rush upon him.

The pulses in Harry’s temples were beating hard. He already considered
himself a veteran of battle, but he could not see it near without
feeling excitement. A long line of fire had extended across the valley.
White puffs of smoke arose like innumerable jets of steam. The crackle
of the rifles was incessant and at the distance sounded like the ripping
of heavy cloth.

Then came a deep heavy crash that made the earth tremble. The two
batteries on the hill had opened at a range of a mile on Jackson’s
infantry. Those men of the North were good gunners and Harry heard the
shells and solid shot screaming and hissing around. Despite his will
he could not keep from trembling for a while, but presently it ceased,
although the fire was growing heavier.

But the Southern infantry were so far away that the artillery fire did
not harm. Ever urged on by Jackson, they pressed through fields and
marshy ground, their destination a low ridge from which, as a place of
advantage, they could reply to the Union batteries. From the east and
from a point near a church called the Opequon came the thunder of their
own guns advancing up the other side of the turnpike.

Now the great marching qualities of Jackson’s men were shown. Not in
vain had they learned to be foot cavalry. They pressed forward through
the deep mud and always the roar of the increasing fire called them on.
Before them stretched the ridge and Harry was in fear lest the enemy
spring forward and seize it first.

But no foe appeared in front of them in the fields, and then with a rush
they were at the foot of the ridge. Another rush and they had climbed
it. Harry from its crest saw the wide field of combat and he knew that
the greater battle had just begun.



CHAPTER VI. KERNSTOWN


The long winding lines of the two armies spread over a maze of fields,
woods and thickets, with here and there a stone wall and scattered low
hills, which could be used as points of strength. Jackson’s men, led by
able officers, were pushing forward with all their might. The woods, the
thickets and the mud nullified to some extent the superior power of
the Northern artillery, but the rifles were pouring forth shattering
volleys, many at close range.

Harry felt his horse stagger just after he reached the crest of the
hill, but he took no notice of it until a few minutes later, when the
animal began to shiver. He leaped clear just in time, for when the
shiver ceased, the horse plunged forward, fell on his side and lay dead.
As Harry straightened himself on his feet a bullet went through the brim
of his cap, and another clipped his epaulet.

“Those must be western men shooting at you, Harry,” said a voice beside
him. “But it could have been worse. You’re merely grazed, when you could
have been hit and hit deep.”

It was Langdon, cool and imperturbable, who was speaking. He was
regarding Harry rather quizzically, as the boy mechanically brushed the
mud from his clothes.

“Force of habit,” said Langdon, and then he suddenly grasped Harry and
pulled him to his knees. There was a tremendous crash in front of them,
and a storm of bullets swept over their heads.

“I saw a Yankee officer give the word, and then a million riflemen rose
from the bushes and fired straight at us!” shouted Langdon. “You stay
here! See the Invincibles are all about you!”

Harry saw that he had in truth fallen among the Invincibles. There was
St. Clair, immaculate, a blazing red spot in either cheek, gazing at
the great swarms of riflemen in front. Colonel Leonidas Talbot and
Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire, those veteran West Pointers, were
stalking up and down in front of their lines, fiercely bidding their men
to lie down. But Harry knew that his duty was elsewhere.

“I belong to the general!” he exclaimed. “I must join him!”

Casting one glance of regret at the fallen horse that had served him so
well he rushed toward General Jackson, who with the rest of his staff
had dismounted. The general, showing no emotion or anxiety, was watching
the doubtful combat.

Along the whole line the battle was deepening. The able West Pointers
on the Northern side were hurrying forward fresh troops. Shields himself
was coming with new battalions. The men from Ohio and the states further
west, expert like the Southerners in the use of the rifle, and confident
of victory, were pouring a heavy and unbroken fire upon the thinner
Southern lines. They, too, knew the value of cover and, cool enough to
think about it, they used every thicket, and grove and ridge that they
could reach.

The roar of the battle was heard plainly in Winchester, and the people
of the town, although it was now held by the North, wished openly for
the success of the South. The Northern troops, as it happened, nearly
all through the war, were surrounded by people who were against them.
The women at the windows and on the house tops looked eagerly for the
red flare in the South which should betoken the victorious advance of
Jackson, sweeping his enemies before him.

But Jackson was not advancing. All the valor and courage of the South so
far had been in vain. Harry, standing near his commander, and awaiting
any order that might be given him, saw new masses of the enemy advancing
along every road and through the fields. The Union colors, held aloft in
front of the regiments, snapped defiantly in the wind. And those western
riflemen, from their cover, never ceased to pour showers of bullets
upon the Southern lines. They had already cut a swath of dead, and many
wounded were dragging themselves to the rear.

It seemed to Harry, looking over the field, that the battle was lost.
The Northern troops were displaying more tenacity than the Southern
officers had expected. Moreover, they were two to one, in strong
positions, and with a much superior artillery. As he looked he saw one
of the Virginia regiments reel back before the attack of much greater
numbers and retreat in some disorder. The victors came on, shouting
in triumph, but in a few minutes their officers rallied them, another
Virginia regiment rushed to their relief, and the two, united, hurled
themselves upon the advancing enemy. The Union troops were driven back
with great loss, and Harry noticed that the fire from their two great
batteries was weakening. He could not keep from shouting in joy, but he
was glad that the sound of his voice was drowned in the thunder of the
battle.

General Jackson had no orders for him at present, and Harry watched with
extraordinary fascination the battle which was unrolling itself in film
after film before him. He saw a stone fence running down the center of
a field, and then he saw beyond it a great mass of Northern infantry
advancing with bayonets shining and colors waving. From his own side a
regiment was running toward it.

Who would reach the fence first? The pulses in Harry’s temple beat so
hard that they hurt. He could not take his eyes from that terrible race,
a race of human beings, a race of life and death. The sun blazed down
on the rival forces as they sped across the field. But the Southerners
reached the wall first. Not in vain had Jackson trained his foot cavalry
to march faster anywhere than any other troops in the world.

Harry saw the Virginians sink down behind the fence, the crest of which
a moment later blazed with fire for a long distance. He saw the whole
front line of the Northern troops disappear, while those behind were
thrown into confusion. The Southerners poured in a second volley before
they could recover and the whole force broke and retreated. Other troops
were brought up but in the face of everything the Virginians held the
fence.

But Shields was an able officer. Moreover he and Jackson had been
thrown together in former years, and he knew him. He divined some of the
qualities of Jackson’s mind, and he felt that the Southern general, the
field being what it was, was going to push hardest at the center. He
accumulated his own forces there in masses that increased continually.
He had suffered a wound the previous day in a skirmish, and he could not
be at the very front, but he delivered his orders through Kimball, who
was in immediate command upon the field. Five regiments in reserve were
suddenly hurled forward and struck the Confederates a tremendous blow.

Harry saw these regiments emerge from the woods and thickets and he saw
the gray lines reel before them. Jackson, pointing toward this new and
furious conflict, said to Harry:

“Jump on the horse there and tell the officer in command that he must
stand firm at all hazards!”

Harry sprang upon a horse not his own, and galloped away. The moment he
came into view the western riflemen began to send bullets toward him.
His horse was struck, but went on. Another bullet found him, and then a
third, which was mortal. Harry leaped clear of the second horse that
had been killed under him, and ran toward the officer in charge of the
stricken troops. But they were retreating already. They moved slowly,
but they moved backward.

Harry joined with the officers in their entreaties to the men to stand,
but the pressure upon them was too great. General Garnett, the commander
of the Stonewall Brigade, had given an order of his own accord to
retreat, and all that part of the line was falling back. The Northern
leader, seeing the breach, continually pushed forward fresh troops and
more cannon, while the deadly riflemen in the thickets did more harm
than the great guns.

The Southerners were compelled to fall back. One gun was lost. Jackson
from the crest of the hill had seen with amazement the retreat of the
famous Stonewall Brigade that he had once led in person. He galloped
across the field, reckless of bullets, and fiercely bade Garnett turn
and hold his ground. A drummer stood near and Jackson, grasping him by
the shoulder with a firm right hand, fairly dragged him to the crest of
a little hill, and bade him beat the rally.

While Jackson still held him he gave the call to stand and fight. But
the Southerners could not. The men in blue, intoxicated with victory,
pushed forward in thousands and thousands. Their heavy masses overbore
all resistance. Jackson, Garnett, Harry and all the officers, young
and old were swept from the field by that flood, crested with fire and
steel. It was impossible to preserve order and cohesion. The broken
regiments were swept back in a confused mass.

Jackson galloped about, trying to rally his men, and his staff gave all
the help they could. Harry was on foot once more, waving the sword of
which he was so proud. But nothing could stay the tremendous pressure of
the Union army. Their commanders always pushed them forward and always
fresh men were coming. Skilled cannoneers sent grape shot, shell and
round shot whistling through the Southern ranks. The Northern cavalry
whipped around the Southern flanks and despite the desperate efforts of
Ashby, Sherburne, and the others, began to clip off its wings.

Harry often wondered afterward how his life was preserved. It seemed
impossible that he could have escaped such a storm from rifle and
cannon, but save for the slight scratches, sustained earlier in the
action, he remained untouched. He did not think of it at the time, only
of the avalanche that was driving them back. He saw before him a vast
red flame, through which bayonets and faces of men showed, ever coming
nearer.

Now the North was sure of victory. The shouts of joy ran up and down
their whole front. The batteries were pushed nearer and nearer, and
sent in terrible volleys at short range. The riflemen who had done
such deadly work rose from the woods and thickets, and rushed forward,
loading and firing as they came. The Southern force seemed to be nothing
but a hopeless mass of fugitives.

Anyone save Jackson would have despaired even of saving his army. But
he dreamed yet of victory. He galloped back for a strong detachment of
Virginians who had not yet come upon the field, but could not get them
up in time to strike a heavy blow.

It was apparent even to Harry and all the other young lieutenants that
the battle was lost. He must have shed tears then, because afterward he
found furrows in the mud and burned gunpowder on his face. The combat
now was not for victory, but for existence. The Southerners fought to
preserve the semblance of an army, and it was well for them that they
were valiant Virginians led by a great genius, and dauntless officers.

Stonewall Jackson, in this the only defeat he ever sustained in
independent command, never lost his head for a moment. By gigantic
exertions he formed a new line at last. The fresher troops covered the
shattered regiments. The retreating artillery was posted anew.

Jackson galloped back and forth on Little Sorrel. Everywhere his courage
and presence of mind brought the men back from despair to hope. Once
anew was proved the truth of Napoleon’s famous maxim that men are
nothing, a man everything. The soldiers on the Northern side were as
brave as those on the Southern but they were not led by one of those
flashing spirits of war which emerge but seldom in the ages, men who in
all the turmoil and confusion of battle can see what ought to be done
and who do it.

The beaten Southern army, but a few thousands, now was formed anew for
a last stand. A portion of them seized a stone fence, and others took
position in thick timber. The cavalry of Turner Ashby raged back and
forth, seeking to protect the flanks, and in the east, coming shadows
showed that the twilight might yet protect the South from the last blow.

Harry, in the thick of furious battle, had become separated from his
commander. He was still on foot and his sword had been broken at the
hilt by a bullet, but he did not yet know it. Chance threw him once more
among the Invincibles. He plunged through the smoke almost into the arms
of Langdon.

“And here is our Harry again!” shouted the irrepressible South
Carolinian. “Stonewall Jackson has lost a battle, but he hasn’t lost an
army. Night and our courage will save us! Here, take this rifle!”

He picked up a loaded rifle which some falling soldier had dropped and
thrust it into Harry’s hand.

The boy took the rifle and began mechanically to fire and load and fire
again at the advancing blue masses. He resolved himself for a minute
into a private soldier, and shouted and fired with the rest. The
twilight deepened and darkened in the east, but the battle did not
cease. The Northern leaders, grim and determined men, seeing their
victory sought to press it to the utmost, and always hurried forward
infantry, cavalry and artillery. Had the Southern army been commanded by
any other than Jackson it would have been destroyed utterly.

Jackson, resourceful and unconquerable, never ceased his exertions.
Wherever he appeared he infused new courage into his men. Harry had
seized a riderless horse and was once more in the saddle, following his
leader, taking orders and helping him whenever he could. The Virginians
who had seized the stone fence and the wood held fast. The eye of
Jackson was on them, and they could do nothing else. An Ohio and a
Virginia regiment on either side lost and retook their colors six times
each. One of the flags had sixty bullets through it. An Indiana regiment
gave way, but reinforced by another from the state rallied and returned
anew to the attack. A Virginia regiment also retreated but was brought
back by its colonel, and fought with fresh courage.

The numerous Northern cavalry forced its way around the Southern
flanks, and cut in on the rear, taking many prisoners. Then the horsemen
appeared in a great mass on the Southern left, and had not time and
chance intervened at the last moment Stonewall Jackson might have passed
into obscurity.

The increasing twilight was now just merging into night, and a wood
stretched between the Northern cavalry and the Southern flank. The
Northern horsemen hesitated, not wishing to become entangled among
trees and brush in the dark, and in a few minutes the Southern infantry,
falling back swiftly after beating off the attacks on their front,
passed out of the trap. Sherburne and Funsten, two of Ashby’s most
valiant cavalry leaders, came up with their squadrons, and covered the
retreat, fighting off the Northern horsemen as Jackson and his army
disappeared in the woods, and night came over the lost field.

The Southern army retired, beaten, but sullen and defiant. It did not
go far, but stopped at a point where the supply train had been placed.
Fires were built and some of the men ate, but others were so much
exhausted that without waiting for food they threw themselves upon the
ground, and in an instant were fast asleep.

Harry, for the moment, a prey to black despair, followed his general.
Only one other officer, a major, was with him. Harry watched him
closely, but he did not see him show any emotion. Little Sorrel like
his master, although he had been under fire a hundred times, had passed
through the battle without a scratch. Now he walked forward slowly, the
reins lying loose upon his neck.

Harry was not conscious of weariness. He had made immense exertions, but
his system was keyed so high by excitement that the tension held firmly
yet a little longer. The night had come on heavy and dark. Behind him he
could hear the fitful sounds of the Northern and Southern cavalry
still skirmishing with each other. Before him he saw dimly the Southern
regiments, retreating in ragged lines. It was almost more than he could
stand, and his feelings suddenly found vent in an angry cry.

General Jackson heard him and understood.

“Don’t be grieved, my boy,” he said quietly. “This is only the first
battle.”

The calm, unboastful courage strengthened Harry anew. If he should
grieve how much more should the general who had led in the lost battle,
and upon whom everybody would hasten to put the blame! He felt once more
that flow of courage and fire from Jackson to himself, and he felt also
his splendid fortune in being associated with a man whose acts showed
all the marks of greatness. Like so many other young officers, mere
boys, he was fast maturing in the furnace of a vast war.

The general ceased to follow the troops, but turned aside into what
seemed to be a thin stretch of forest. But Harry saw that the trees grew
in rows and he exclaimed:

“An orchard!”

It seemed to strike Jackson’s fancy.

“Well,” he said, “an orchard is a good place to sleep in. Can’t we
make a fire here? I fear that we shall have to burn some fence rails
tonight.”

Harry and the major--Hawks was his name--hitched the horses, and
gathered a heap of dry fence rails. The major set fire to splinters with
matches and, in a few minutes a fine fire was crackling and blazing,
taking away the sharp chill of the March night.

Harry saw other fires spring up in the orchard, and he went over to one
of them, where some soldiers were cooking food.

“Give me a piece of meat and bread,” he said to a long Virginian.

“Set, Sonny, an’ eat with us!”

“I don’t want it for myself.”

“Then who in nation are you beggin’ fur?”

“For General Jackson. He’s sitting over there.”

“Thunderation! The gen’ral himself! Here, boy!”

Bearing a big piece of meat in one hand and a big piece of bread in the
other Harry returned to Jackson, who had not yet tasted food that day.
The general ate heartily, but almost unconsciously. He seemed to be in a
deep study. Harry surmised that his thoughts were on the morrow. He had
learned already that Stonewall Jackson always looked forward.

Harry foraged and obtained more food for himself, and other officers
of the staff who were coming up, some bearing slight wounds that they
concealed. He also secured the general’s cloak, which was strapped to
his saddle and insisted upon his putting it on.

The fire was surrounded presently by officers. Major Hawks had laid
together and as evenly as possible a number of fence rails upon which
Jackson was to sleep, but as yet no one was disposed to slumber. They
had finished eating, but they remained in a silent and somber circle
about the fire.

Jackson stood up presently and his figure, wrapped in the long cloak was
all dark. The light did not fall upon his face. All the others looked at
him. Among them was one of Ashby’s young troopers, a bold and reckless
spirit. It was a time, too, when the distinction between officers and
privates in the great citizen armies was not yet sharply defined. And
this young trooper, some spirit of mockery urging him on, stood up and
said to his general:

“The Yankees didn’t seem to be in any hurry to leave Winchester, did
they, general?”

Harry drew a quick, sharp breath, and there was a murmur among the
officers, but Stonewall Jackson merely turned a tranquil look upon the
presumptuous youth. Then he turned it back to the bed of coals and said
in even tones:

“Winchester is a pleasant town to stay in, sir.”

The young cavalryman, not abashed at all, continued:

“We heard the Yankees were retreating, but I guess they’re retreating
after us.”

Harry half rose and so did several of the older officers, but Jackson
replied quietly:

“I think I may tell you, young sir, that I am satisfied with the
result.”

The audacity of the youthful trooper could not carry him further. He
caught threatening looks from the officers and slipped away in the
darkness. Silence fell anew around the fire, and Jackson still stood,
gazing into the coals. Soon, he turned abruptly, strode away into the
darkness, but came back after a while, lay down on the fence rails and
slept soundly.

Harry put four or five rails side by side to protect his body from the
cold ground, lay down upon them and threw a cloak over himself. Now he
relaxed or rather collapsed completely. The tension that had kept him
up so long was gone, and he felt that he could not have risen from the
rails had he wished. He saw wavering fires and dusky figures beside
them, but sleep came in a few minutes to soothe and heal.

Bye and bye all the army, save the sentinels, slept and the victorious
Northern army only two or three miles away also slept, feeling that it
had done enough for one day.

Shields that night was sending messages to the North announcing his
victory, but he was cherishing no illusions. He told how fierce had
been the attack, and with what difficulty it had been beaten off, and in
Washington, reading well between the lines they felt that another attack
and yet others might come from the same source.

Harry sleeping on his bed of fence rails did not dream of the
extraordinary things that the little army of Jackson, beaten at
Kernstown was yet to do. McClellan was just ready to start his great
army by sea for the attack on Richmond, when suddenly the forgotten
or negligible Jackson sprang out of the dark and fixed himself on his
flank.

The capital, despite victory, was filled with alarm and the President
shared it. The veteran Shields knew this man who had led the attack,
and he did not seek to hide the danger. The figure of Stonewall Jackson,
gigantic and menacing, showed suddenly through the mists. If McClellan
went on to Richmond with the full Northern strength he might launch
himself on Washington.

The great scheme of invasion was put out of joint. Shields, although
victorious for the time, could not believe that Jackson would attack
with so small an army unless he expected reinforcements, and he sent
swift expresses to bring back a division of 8,000 men which was
marching to cover Washington. Banks, his superior officer, on the way to
Washington, too, heard the news at Harper’s Ferry and halted there, and
Lincoln, detaching a whole corps of nearly 40,000 men from McClellan’s
army, ordered them to remain at Manassas to protect the capital against
Jackson. A dispatch was sent to Banks ordering him to push the valley
campaign with his whole strength.

But when Harry rose the next morning from his fence rails he knew
nothing of these things. Nor did anyone else in the Southern army,
unless it was Stonewall Jackson who perhaps half-divined them. Harry
thought afterward that he had foreseen much when he said to the impudent
cavalryman that he was satisfied with the result at Kernstown.

They lingered there a little and then began a retreat, unharrassed by
pursuit. Scouts of the enemy were seen by Ashby’s cavalry, who hung like
a curtain between them and the army, but no force strong enough to do
any harm came in sight. Harry had secured another horse and most of his
duty was at the rear, where he was often sent by the general to get the
latest news from Ashby.

He quickly met Sherburne over whose dress difficulties had triumphed
at last. His fine cloak, rent in many places, was stained with mud and
there was one large dark spot made by his own blood. His face was lined
deeply by exhaustion and deep disappointment.

“They were too much for us this time, Harry,” he said bitterly. “We
can’t beat two to one all the time. How does the general take it?”

“As if it were nothing. He’ll be ready to fight again in a few days, and
we must have struck a hard blow anyhow. The enemy are not pursuing.”

“That’s true,” said Sherburne more cheerfully. “Your argument is a good
one.”

The army came to a ridge called Rude’s Hill and stopped there. Harry was
already soldier enough to see that it was a strong position. Before it
flowed a creek which the melting snows in the mountains had swollen to
a depth of eight or ten feet, and on another side was a fork of the
Shenandoah, also swollen. Here the soldiers began to fortify and prepare
for a longer stay while Jackson sent for aid.

Harry was not among the messengers for help. Jackson had learned his
great ability as a scout, and now he often sent him on missions of
observation, particularly with Captain Sherburne, to whom St. Clair and
Langdon were also loaned by Colonel Talbot. Thus the three were together
when they rode with Sherburne and a hundred men a few days after their
arrival at the ridge.

They were well wrapped in great coats, because the weather, after
deceiving for a while with the appearance of spring, had turned cold
again. The enemy’s scouts and spies were keeping back, where they could
blow on their cold fingers or walk a while to restore the circulation to
their half frozen legs.

Sherburne was his neat and orderly self again and St. Clair was fully
his equal. Langdon openly boasted that he was going to have a dressing
contest between them for large stakes as soon as the war was over. But
all the young Southerners were in good spirits now. They had learned
of the alarm caused in the North by Kernstown, and that a third of
McClellan’s army had been detached to guard against them. Nor had Banks
and Shields yet dared to attack them.

“There’s what troubles Banks,” said Sherburne, pointing with his saber
to a towering mass of mountains which rose somber and dark in the very
center of the Shenandoah Valley. “He doesn’t know which side of the
Massanuttons to take.”

Harry looked up at these peaks and ridges, famous now in the minds of
all Virginians, towering a half mile in the air, clothed from base to
summit with dense forest of oak and pine, although today the crests were
wrapped in snowy mists. They cut the Shenandoah valley into two smaller
valleys, the wider and more nearly level one on the west. Only a single
road by which troops could pass crossed the Massanuttons, and that road
was held by the cavalry of Ashby.

“If Banks comes one way and he proves too strong for us we can cross
over to the other,” said Sherburne. “If he divides his force, marching
into both valleys, we may beat one part of his army, then pass the
mountain and beat the other.”

Sherburne had divined aright. It was the mighty mass of the Massanuttons
that weighed upon Banks. As he looked up at the dark ridges and misty
crests his mind was torn by doubts. His own forces, great in number
though they were, were scattered. Fremont to his right on the slopes
of the Alleghanies had 25,000 men; there were other strong detachments
under Milroy and Schenck, and he had 17,000 men under his own eye. So he
was hesitating while the days were passing and Jackson growing stronger.

“I suppose the nature of the country helps us a lot,” said Harry as he
looked up at the Massanuttons, following Sherburne’s pointing saber.

“It does, and we need help,” said Sherburne. “Even as it is they would
have been pushing upon us if it hadn’t been for the cavalry and the
artillery. Every time a detachment advanced we’d open up on it with a
masked battery from the woods, and if pickets showed their noses too
close horsemen were after them in a second. We’ve had them worried to
death for days and days, and when they do come in force Old Jack will
have something up his sleeve.”

“I wonder,” said Harry.



CHAPTER VII. ON THE RIDGES


As they rode in the shadow of the Massanuttons Harry continued
to wonder. The whole campaign in the valley had become to him an
interminable maze. Stonewall Jackson might know what he intended to do,
but he was not telling. Meanwhile they marched back and forth. There was
incessant skirmishing between cavalry and pickets, but it did not seem
to signify anything. Banks, sure of his overwhelming numbers, pressed
forward, but always cautiously and slowly. He did not march into any
trap. And Harry surmised that Jackson, much too weak to attack, was
playing for time.

Sherburne and his troop paused at the very base of the Massanuttons
and Harry, who happened to be with them, looked up again at the lofty
summits standing out so boldly and majestically in the middle of the
valley. The oaks and maples along their slopes were now blossoming into
a green that matched the tint of the pines, but far up on the crests
there was still a line of snow, and white mists beyond.

“Why not climb the highest summit?” he said to Sherburne. “You have
powerful glasses and we could get a good view of what is going on up the
valley.”

“Most of those slopes are not slopes at all. They’re perpendicular like
the side of a house. The horses could never get up.”

“But they can certainly go part of the way, and some of us can climb the
rest on foot.”

Sherburne’s eyes sparkled. The spirit of adventure was strong within
him. Moreover the task, if done, was worth while.

“Good for you, Harry,” he exclaimed. “We’ll try it! What do you say, St.
Clair, you and Langdon?”

“I follow where you lead, and I hope that you lead to the top of the
mountain,” replied St. Clair.

“Likely it’s cold up there,” said Langdon, “but there are higher and
colder mountains and I choose this one.”

They had learned promptness and decision from Stonewall Jackson, and
Sherburne at once gave the order to ascend. Several men in his troop
were natives of that part of the valley, and they knew the Massanuttons
well. They led and the whole troop composed of youths followed eagerly.
Bye and bye they dismounted and led their horses over the trails which
grew slippery with wet and snow as they rose higher.

When they paused at times to rest they would all look northward over
the great valley, where a magnificent panorama had gradually risen into
view. They saw a vast stretch of fields turning green, neat villages,
dark belts of forest, the gleam of brooks and creeks, and now and then,
the glitter from a Northern bayonet.

At length the chief guide, a youth named Wallace, announced that the
horses could go no farther. Even in summer when the snow was all gone
and the earth was dry they could not find a footing. Now it was certain
death for them to try the icy steeps.

Sherburne ordered the main body of the troop to halt in a forested and
sheltered glen in the side of the mountain, and, choosing Harry, St.
Clair, Langdon, the guide Wallace, and six others, he advanced with them
on foot. It was difficult climbing, and more than once they were bruised
by falls, but they learned to regard such accidents as trifles, and
ardent of spirit they pressed forward.

“I think we’ll get a good view,” said Sherburne. “See how brilliantly
the sun is shining in the valley.”

“Yes, and the mists on the crests are clearing away,” said Harry.

“Then with the aid of the glasses we can get a sweep up the valley for
many miles. Now boys, here we go! up! up!”

If it had not been for the bushes they could never have made the ascent,
as they were now in the region of snow and ice and the slopes were like
glass. Often they were compelled to crawl, and it was necessary, too, to
exercise a good deal of care in crawling.

St. Clair groaned as he rose after climbing a rock, and brushed the
knees of his fine gray trousers.

“Cheer up, Arthur,” said Langdon, “it could have been worse. The sharp
stones there might have cut holes through them.”

But in spite of every difficulty and danger they went steadily toward
the summit, and streamers of mist yet floating about the mountain often
enclosed them in a damp shroud. Obviously, however, the clouds and
vapors were thinning, and soon the last shred would float away.

“It ain’t more’n a hundred feet more to the top,” said Wallace, “an’
it’s shore that the sun will be shinin’ there.”

“Shining for us, of course,” said Langdon. “It’s a good omen.”

“I wish I could always look for the best as you do, Tom,” said St.
Clair.

“I’m glad I can. Gay hearts are better than riches. As sure as I climb,
Arthur, I see the top.”

“Yes, there it is, the nice snowy bump above us.”

They dragged themselves upon the loftiest crest, and, panting, stood
there for a few minutes in several inches of snow. Then the wind caught
up the last shreds and tatters of mist, and whipped them away southward.
Every one of them drew a deep, sharp breath, as the great panorama of
the valley to the northward and far below was unrolled before them.

The brilliant sunshine of early spring played over everything, but far
down in the valley they seemed to see by contrast the true summer of the
sunny south, which is often far from sunny. But seen from the top of
the mountain the valley was full of golden rays. Now the roofs of the
villages showed plainly and they saw with distinctness the long silver
lines that marked the flowing of the rivers and creeks. To the east and
to the west further than the eye could reach rose the long line of dim
blue mountains that enclosed the valley.

But it was the glitter of the bayonets in the valley that caused the
hearts of the Virginians to beat most fiercely. Banners and guidons,
clusters of white tents, and dark swarms of men marked where the foot
of the invading stranger trod their soil. The Virginians loved the great
valley. Enclosed between the blue mountains it was the richest and most
beautiful part of all their state. It hurt them terribly to see the
overwhelming forces of the North occupying its towns and villages and
encamped in its fields.

Harry, not a Virginian himself, but a brother by association, understood
and shared their feeling. He saw Sherburne’s lips moving and he knew
that he was saying hard words between his teeth. But Sherburne’s eyes
were at the glasses, and he looked a long time, moving them slowly from
side to side. After a while he handed them to Harry.

The boy raised the glasses and the great panorama of the valley sprang
up to his eyes. It seemed to him that he could almost count the soldiers
in the camps. There was a troop of cavalry riding to the southward,
and further to the left was another. Directly to the north was their
battlefield of Kernstown, and not far beyond it lay Winchester. He saw
such masses of the enemy’s troops and so many signs of activity among
them that he felt some movement must be impending.

“What do you think of it, Harry?” said Sherburne.

“Banks must be getting ready to move forward.”

“I think so, too. I wish we had his numbers.”

“More men are coming for us. We’ll have Ewell’s corps soon, and General
Jackson himself is worth ten thousand men.”

“That’s so, Harry, but ten thousand men are far too few. McDowell’s
whole corps is available, and with it the Yankees can now turn more than
seventy thousand men into the valley.”

“And they can fight, too, as we saw at Kernstown,” said St. Clair.

“That’s so, and I’m thinking they’ll get their stomachs full of it
pretty soon,” said Langdon. “Yesterday about dusk I went out in some
bushes after firewood, and I saw a man kneeling. It struck me as
curious, and I went up closer. What do you think? It was Old Jack
praying. Not any mock prayer, but praying to his Lord with all his heart
and soul. I’m not much on praying myself, but I felt pretty solemn then,
and I slid away from there as quick and quiet as you please. And I
tell you, fellows, that when Stonewall Jackson prays it’s time for the
Yankees to weep.”

“You’re probably right, Langdon,” said Captain Sherburne, “but it’s
time for us to be going back, and we’ll tell what we’ve seen to General
Jackson.”

As they turned away a crunching in the snow on the other slope caused
them to stop. The faces of men and then their figures appeared through
the bushes. They were eight or ten in number and all wore blue uniforms.
Harry saw the leader, and instantly he recognized Shepard. It came to
him, too, in a flash of prescience, that Shepard was just the man whom
he would meet there.

Sherburne, who had seen the blue uniforms, raised a pistol and fired.
Two shots were fired by the Union men at the same instant, and then both
parties dropped back from the crest, each on its own side.

Sherburne’s men were untouched and Harry was confident that Shepard’s
had been equally lucky--the shots had been too hasty--but it was nervous
and uncomfortable work, lying there in the snow, and waiting for the
head of an enemy to appear over the crest.

Harry was near Captain Sherburne, and he whispered to him:

“I know the man whose face appeared first through the bushes.”

“Who is he?”

“His name is Shepard. He’s a spy and scout for the North, and he is
brave and dangerous. He was in Montgomery when President Davis was
inaugurated. I saw him in Washington when I was there as a spy myself. I
saw him again in Winchester just before the battle of Kernstown, and now
here he is once more.”

“Must be a Wandering Jew sort of a fellow.”

“He wanders with purpose. He has certainly come up here to spy us out.”

“In which he is no more guilty than we are.”

“That’s true, but what are we going to do about it, captain?”

“Blessed if I know. Wait till I take a look.”

Captain Sherburne raised himself a little, in order to peep over the
crest of the ridge. A rifle cracked on the other side, a bullet
clipped the top of his cap, and he dropped back in the snow, unhurt but
startled.

“This man, Shepard, is fully as dangerous as you claim him to be,” he
said to Harry.

“Can you see anything of them?” asked St. Clair.

“Not a thing,” said Harry.

“If we show they shoot, and if they show we shoot,” said Langdon. “Seems
to me it’s about the most beautiful case of checkmate that I’ve known.”

“Perhaps we can stalk them,” said St. Clair.

“And perhaps they can stalk us,” said Langdon. “But I think both sides
are afraid to try it.”

“You’re right, Langdon,” said Captain Sherburne, “It’s a case of
checkmate. I confess that I don’t know what to do.”

“We could wait here while they waited too, and if we waited long enough
it would get so dark we couldn’t see each other. But captain, you are a
kind-hearted and sympathetic man, do you see any fun in sitting in the
snow on top of a mountain, waiting to kill men whom you don’t want to
kill or to be killed by men who don’t want to kill you?”

“No, Tom, I don’t,” replied Captain Sherburne with a laugh, “and you’re
talking mighty sound sense. This is not like a regular battle. We’ve
nothing to gain by shooting those men, and they’ve nothing to gain by
shooting us. The Massanuttons extend a long distance and there’s nothing
to keep scouts and spies from climbing them at other places. We’ll go
away from here.”

He gave the order. They rose and crept as softly as they could through
the snow and bushes down the side of the mountain. Harry looked back
occasionally, but he saw no faces appear on the crest. Soon he heard
Langdon who was beside him laughing softly to himself.

“What’s the matter, Tom?” he asked.

“Harry, if I could take my pistol and shoot straight through this
mountain the bullet when it came out on the other side would hit a
soldier in blue clothes, going at the same rate of speed down the
mountain.”

“More than likely you’re right, Tom, if they’re sensible, and that man
Shepard certainly is.”

Further down they met some of their own men climbing up. The troop had
heard the shots and was on the way to rescue, if rescue were needed.
Captain Sherburne explained briefly and they continued the descent,
leading their horses all the way, and breathing deep relief, when they
stood at last in the plain.

“I’ll remember that climb,” said Langdon to Harry as he sprang into
the saddle, “and I won’t do it again when there’s snow up there, unless
General Jackson himself forces me up with the point of a bayonet.”

“The view was fine.”

“So it was, but the shooting was bad. Not a Yank, not a Reb fell, and
I’m not unhappy over it. A curious thing has happened to me, Harry.
While I’m ready to fight the Yankee at the drop of the hat I don’t seem
to hate ‘em as much as I did when the war began.”

“Same here. The war ought not to have happened, but we’re in it, and to
my way of thinking we’re going to be in it mighty deep and long.”

Langdon was silent for a little while, but nothing could depress him
long. He was soon chattering away as merrily as ever while the troop
rode back to General Jackson. Harry regarded him with some envy. A
temperament that could rejoice under any circumstances was truly worth
having.

Sherburne reported to Ashby who in return sent him to the commander,
Harry going with him to resume his place on the staff. Jackson heard the
report without comment and his face expressed nothing. Harry could not
see that he had changed much since he had come to join him. A little
thinner, a little more worn, perhaps, but he was the same quiet,
self-contained man, whose blue eyes often looked over and beyond the one
to whom he was talking, as if he were maturing plans far ahead.

Harry occupied a tent for the time with two or three other young
officers, and being permitted a few hours off duty he visited
his friends of the Invincibles, Colonel Leonidas Talbot and
Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire. The two old comrades already had
heard the results of the scout from St. Clair and Langdon, but they gave
Harry a welcome because they liked him. They also gave him a camp stool,
no small luxury in an army that marches and fights hard, using more
gunpowder than anything else.

Harry put the stool against a tree, sat on it and leaned back against
the trunk, feeling a great sense of luxury. The two men regarded him
with a benevolent eye. They, too, were enjoying luxuries, cigars which
a cavalry detail had captured from the enemy. It struck Harry at the
moment that although one was of British descent and the other of French
they were very much alike. South Carolina had bred them and then West
Point had cast them in her unbreakable mold. Neat, precise, they sat
rigidly erect, and smoked their cigars.

“Do you like it on the staff of General Jackson, Harry,” asked Colonel
Talbot.

“I felt regrets at leaving the Invincibles,” replied Harry truthfully,
“but I like it. I think it a privilege to be so near to General
Jackson.”

“A leader who has fought only one battle in independent command and who
lost that,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire, thoughtfully--he
knew that Harry would repeat nothing, “and who nevertheless has the
utmost confidence of his men. He does not joke with them as the young
Napoleon did with his soldiers. He has none of the quality that we call
magnetic charm, and yet his troops are eager to follow him anywhere. He
has won no victories, but his men believe him capable of many. He takes
none of his officers into his confidence, but all have it. Incredible,
but true. Why is it?”

He put his cigar back in his mouth and puffed meditatively. Colonel
Leonidas Talbot, who also had been puffing meditatively while
Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire was speaking, now took his cigar
from his mouth, blew away the delicate rings of smoke, and said in an
equally thoughtful tone:

“It occurs to me, Hector, that it is the power of intellect. Stonewall
Jackson has impressed the whole army down to the last and least little
drummer with a sense of his mental force. I tell you, sir, that he is
a thinker, and thinkers are rare, much more rare than people generally
believe. There is only one man out of ten thousand who does not act
wholly according to precedent and experience. Habit is so powerful that
when we think we are thinking we are not thinking at all, we are merely
recalling the experiences of ourselves or somebody else. And of the
rare individuals who leave the well-trod paths of thought to think new
thoughts, only a minutely small percentage think right. This minutely
small fraction represents genius, the one man in a million or rather ten
million, or, to be more accurate, the one man in a hundred million.”

Colonel Leonidas Talbot put the cigar back in his mouth and puffed with
regularity and smoothness. Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire, in his
turn, took his cigar from his mouth once more, blew away the fine white
rings of smoke and said:

“Leonidas, it appears to me that you have hit upon the truth, or as our
legal friends would say, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
truth. I am in the middle of life and I realize suddenly that in all the
years I have lived I have met but few thinkers, certainly not more than
half a dozen, perhaps not more than three or four.”

He put his cigar back in his mouth and the two puffed simultaneously and
with precision, blowing out the fine, delicate rings of smoke at exactly
the same time. Gentlemen of the old school they were, even then, but
Harry recognized, too, that Colonel Leonidas Talbot had spoken the
weighty truth. Stonewall Jackson was a thinker, and thinkers are never
numerous in the world. He resolved to think more for himself if he
could, and he sat there trying to think, while he absently regarded the
two colonels.

Colonel Leonidas Talbot, after two minutes perhaps, took the cigar from
his mouth once more and said to Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire:

“Fine cigars the Yankees make, Hector.”

“Quite true, Leonidas. One of the best I have ever smoked.”

“Not more than a dozen left.”

“Then we must get more.”

“But how?”

“Stonewall Jackson will think of a way.”

Harry, despite his respect for them, was compelled to laugh. But the two
colonels laughed with him.

“The words of my friend Leonidas have been proved true within a few
minutes,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire. “In doubt we
turned at once and with involuntary impulse to Stonewall Jackson to
think of a way. He has impressed us, as he has impressed the privates,
with his intellectual power.”

Harry sat with them nearly an hour. He had not only respect but
affection also for them. Old-fashioned they might be in some ways, but
they were able military men, thoroughly alert, and he knew that he could
learn much from them. When he left them he returned to General Jackson
and a few more days of waiting followed.

Winter was now wholly gone and spring, treacherous at first, was
becoming real and reliable. Reports heavy and ominous were coming from
McClellan. He would disembark and march up the peninsula on Richmond
with a vast and irresistible force. Jackson might be drawn off from the
valley to help Johnston in the defense of the capital. But Banks with
his great army would then march down it as if on parade.

Harry heard one morning that a new man was put in command of the
Southern forces in Northern Virginia. Robert Edward Lee was his name,
and it was a good name, too. He was the son of that famous Light Horse
Harry Lee who was a favorite of Washington in the Revolution. Already
an elderly man, he was sober and quiet, but the old West Pointers passed
the word through Jackson’s army that he was full of courage and daring.

Harry felt the stimulus almost at once. A fresh wind seemed to be
blowing down the Valley of Virginia. Lee had sent word to Jackson that
he might do what he could, and that he might draw to his help also a
large division under Ewell. The news spread through the army and there
was a great buzzing. Young Virginia was eager to march against any odds,
and Harry was with them, heart and soul.

Nor were they kept waiting now. The news had scarcely spread through the
army when they heard the crack of carbines in their front. The cavalry
of Ashby, increased by many recruits, was already skirmishing with the
vanguard of Banks. It was the last day of April and Harry, sent to the
front, saw Ashby drive in all the Northern cavalry. When he returned
with the news Jackson instantly lifted up his whole division and marched
by the flank through the hills, leaving Ewell with his men to occupy
Banks in front. The mind of the “thinker” was working, and Harry knew it
as he rode behind him. He did not know what this movement meant, but he
had full confidence in the man who led them.

Yet the marching, like all the other marching they had done, was of
the hardest. The ground, torn by hoofs, cannon wheels and the feet of
marching men, was a continuous quagmire. Ponds made newly by the rains
stood everywhere. Often it required many horses and men to drag a cannon
out of the mud. The junior officers, and finally those of the highest
rank, leaped from their horses and gave aid. Jackson himself carried
boughs and stones to help make a road.

Despite the utmost possible exertions the army could make only five
miles in a single day and at the approach of night it flung itself upon
the ground exhausted.

“I call this the Great Muddy Army,” said St. Clair, ruefully to Harry,
as he surveyed his fine uniform, now smeared over with brown liquid
paste.

“It might have been worse,” said Langdon. “Suppose we had fallen in a
quicksand and had been swallowed up utterly. ‘Tis better to live muddy
than not to live at all.”

“It would be better to call it the Great Tired Army just now,” said
Harry. “To keep on pulling your feet all day long out of mud half a yard
deep is the most exhausting thing I know or ever heard of.”

“Where are we going?” asked St. Clair.

“Blessed if I know,” replied Harry, “nor does anybody else save one.
It’s all hid under General Jackson’s hat.”

“I guess it’s Staunton,” said Langdon. “That’s a fine town, as good as
Winchester. I’ve got kinsfolk there. I came up once from South Carolina
and made them a visit.”

But it was not Staunton, although Staunton, hearing of the march, had
been joyfully expecting Jackson’s men. The fine morning came, warm and
brilliant with sunshine, raising the spirits of the troops. The roads
began to dry out fast and marching would be much easier. But Jackson,
leading somberly on Little Sorrel, turned his back on Staunton.

The Virginians stared in amazement when the heads of columns turned
away from that trim and hospitable little city, which they knew was so
fervently attached to their cause. Before them rose the long line of the
Blue Ridge and they were marching straight toward it.

They marched a while in silence, and then a groan ran through the ranks.
It was such a compound of dismay and grief that it made Harry shiver.
The Virginians were leaving their beloved and beautiful valley, leaving
it all to the invader, leaving the pretty little places, Winchester and
Staunton and Harrisonburg and Strasburg and Front Royal, and all the
towns and villages in which their families and relatives lived. Every
one of the Virginians had blood kin everywhere through the valley.

The men began to whisper to one another, but the order of silence was
passed sternly along the line. They marched on, sullen and gloomy,
but after a while their natural courage and their confidence in their
commander returned. Their spirits did not desert them, even when they
left the valley behind them and began to climb the Blue Ridge.

Up, up, they went through dense forests. Harry remembered their ascent
of the Massanuttons, but the snows were gone now. They pressed on until
they reached the crest of the ridges and there the whole army paused,
high up in the air, while they looked with eager interest at the rolling
Virginia country stretching toward the east until it sank under the
horizon.

Harry saw smoke that marked the passing of trains, and he believed
that they were now on their way to Richmond to help defend the capital
against McClellan. He glanced at Jackson, but the commander was as
tight-lipped as ever. Whatever was under that hat remained the secret of
its owner.

They descended the mountains and came to a railway station, where many
cars were waiting. Troops were hurried aboard expecting to start for
Richmond, and then a sudden roar burst from them. The trains did not
move toward Richmond, but back, through defiles that would lead them
again into their beloved valley. Cheers one after another rolled through
the trains, and Harry, who was in a forward car with the Invincibles,
joined in as joyfully as the best Virginian of them all.

The boy was so much exhausted that he fell into a doze on a seat. But
afterward he dimly remembered that he heard the two colonels talking.
They were trying to probe into the depths of Jackson’s mind. They
surmised that this march over the mountains had been made partly to
delude Banks. They were right, at least as far as the delusion of Banks
went. He had been telegraphing that the army of Jackson was gone, on its
way to Richmond, and that there was nothing in front of him save a few
skirmishers.

The Virginians left their trains in the valley again, waited for their
wagons and artillery, and then marched on to Staunton, that neat little
city that was so dear to so many of them. But the mystery of what was
under Jackson’s hat remained a mystery. They passed through Staunton,
amid the cheering people, women and children waving hats, scarfs and
handkerchiefs to their champions. But the terrible Stonewall gave them
no chance to dally in that pleasant place. Staunton was left far behind
and they never stopped until they went into camp on the side of another
range of mountains.

Here in a great forest they built a few fires, more not being allowed,
and after a hasty supper most of the men lay down in their blankets to
rest. But the young officers did not sleep. A small tent for Jackson had
been raised by the side of the Invincibles, and Harry, sitting on a log,
talked in low tones with Langdon and St. Clair. The three were of the
opinion that some blow was about to be struck, but what it was they did
not know.

“The Yankees must have lost us entirely,” said Langdon. “To tell you the
truth, boys, I’ve lost myself. I’ve been marching about so much that I
don’t know east from west and north from south. I’m sure that this is
the Southern army about us, but whether we’re still in Virginia or not
is beyond me. What do you say, Arthur?”

“It’s Virginia still, Tom, but we’ve undoubtedly done a lot of
marching.”

“A lot of it! ‘Lot’ is a feeble word! We’ve marched a million miles in
the last few days. I’ve checked ‘em off by the bunions on the soles of
my feet.”

“Look out, boys,” said St. Clair. “Here comes the general!”

General Jackson was walking toward them. His face had the usual intense,
preoccupied look, but he smiled slightly when he saw the three lads.

“Come, young gentlemen,” he said, “we’re going to take a look at the
enemy.”

A group of older officers joined him, and the three lads followed
modestly. They reached a towering crag and from it Harry saw a deep
valley fringed with woods, a river rushing down its center and further
on a village. Both banks of the river were thick with troops, men in
blue. Over and beyond the valley was a great mass of mountains, ridge
on ridge and peak on peak, covered with black forest, and cut by defiles
and ravines so narrow that it was always dark within them.

Harry felt a strange, indescribable thrill. The presence of the enemy
and the wild setting of the mountains filled him with a kind of awe.

“It’s a Northern army under Milroy,” whispered St. Clair, who now heard
Jackson talking to the older officers.

“Then there’s going to be a battle,” said Harry.



CHAPTER VIII. THE MOUNTAIN BATTLE


General Jackson and several of his senior officers were examining the
valley with glasses, but Harry, with eyes trained to the open air and
long distances, could see clearly nearly all that was going on below.
He saw movement among the masses of men in blue, and he saw officers on
horseback, galloping along the banks of the river. Then he saw cannon
in trenches with their muzzles elevated toward the heights, and he knew
that the Union troops must have had warning of Jackson’s coming. And he
saw, too, that the officers below also had glasses through which they
were looking.

There was a sudden blaze from the mouth of one of the cannon. A shell
shot upward, whistling and shrieking, and burst far above their heads.
Harry heard pieces of falling metal striking on the rocks behind them.
The mountains sent back the cannon’s roar in a sinister echo.

A second gun flashed and again the shell curved over their heads.
But Jackson paid no heed. He was still watching intently through his
glasses.

“The enemy is up and alert,” whispered St. Clair to Harry. “I judge that
these are Western men used to sleeping with their eyes open.”

“Like as not a lot of them are mountain West Virginians,” said Harry.
“They are strong for the North, and it’s likely, too, that they’re the
men who have discovered Jackson’s advance.”

“And they mean to make it warm for us. Listen to those guns! It’s hard
shooting aiming at men on heights, but it shows what they could do on
level ground.”

Jackson presently retired with his officers, and Harry, parting from his
friends of the Invincibles, went with him. Back among the ridges all the
troops were under arms, the weary ones having risen from their blankets
which were now tied in rolls on their backs. They had not yet been able
to bring the artillery up the steeps. Harry saw that the faces of all
were eager as they heard the thunder of the guns in the valley below.
Among the most eager was a regiment of Georgians arrived but recently
with the reinforcements.

Many of the men, speaking from the obscurity of the crowded ranks, did
not scorn to hurl questions at their officers.

“Are we goin’ to fight the Yankees at last?”

“I’d rather take my chances with the bullets than march any more.”

“Lead us down an’ give us a chance at ‘em.”

Colonel Leonidas Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire were
among the officers who had gone with Jackson to the verge of the cliff,
and now when they heard the impertinent but eager questions from the
massed ranks they looked at each other and smiled. It was not according
to West Point, but these were recruits and here was enthusiasm which was
a pearl beyond price.

General Jackson beckoned to Harry and three other young staff officers.

“Take glasses,” he said, “go back to the verge of the cliff, and watch
for movements on the part of the enemy. If any is made be sure that you
see it, and report it to me at once.”

The words were abrupt, sharp, admitting of no question or delay, and
the four fairly ran. Harry and his comrades lay down at the edge of the
cliff and swept the valley with their glasses. The great guns were still
firing at intervals of about a minute. The gunners could not see the
Southern troops drawn back behind the ridges, but Harry believed that
they might be guided by signals from men on opposite slopes. But if
signalmen were there they were hidden by the forest even from his
glasses.

The smoke from the cannon was gathering heavily in the narrow valley, so
heavily that it began to obscure what was passing there in the Northern
army. But the four, remembering the injunction of Jackson, a man who
must be obeyed to the last and minutest detail, still sought to pierce
through the smoke both with the naked eye and with glasses. As a rift
appeared Harry saw a moving mass of men in blue. It was a great body of
troops and the sun shining through the rift glittered over bayonets and
rifle barrels. They were marching straight toward a slope which led at a
rather easy grade up the side of the mountain.

“They’re not waiting to be attacked! They’re attacking!” cried Harry,
springing to his feet and running to the point where he knew Jackson
stood. Jackson received his news, looked for himself, and then began to
push on the troops. A shout arose as the army pressed forward to meet
the enemy who were coming so boldly.

“We ought to beat ‘em, as we have the advantage of the heights,”
 exclaimed Sherburne, who was now on foot.

But the advantage was the other way. Those were staunch troops who were
advancing, men of Ohio and West Virginia, and while they were yet on the
lower slopes their cannon, firing over their heads, swept the crest with
shot and shell. The eager Southern youths, as invariably happens with
those firing downward, shot too high. The Northern regiments now opening
with their rifles and taking better aim came on in splendid order.

“What a magnificent charge!” Harry heard Sherburne exclaim.

The rifles by thousands were at work, and the unceasing crash sent
echoes far through the mountains. The Southerners at the edge of the
cliff were cut down by the fire of their enemy from below. Their loss
was now far greater than that of the North, and their officers sought to
draw them back from the verge, to a ridge where they could receive the
charge, just as it reached the crest and pour into them their full fire.
The eager young regiment from Georgia refused to obey.

“Have we come all these hundreds of miles from Georgia to run before
Yankees?” they cried, and stood there pulling trigger at the enemy,
while their own men fell fast before the bitter Northern hail.

Harry, too, was forced to admire the great resolution and courage with
which the Northern troops came upward, but he turned away to be ready
for any command that Jackson might give him. The general stood by a rock
attentively watching the fierce battle that was going on, but not yet
giving any order. But Harry fancied that he saw his eyes glisten as he
beheld the ardor of his troops.

A detachment of Virginians, posted in the rear, seeing a break in the
first line, rushed forward without orders, filled the gap and came
face to face with the men in blue. Harry thought he saw Jackson’s eyes
glisten again, but he was not sure.

The crash of the battle increased fast. The Southern troops had no
artillery, but as the Northern charge came nearer the crest their
bullets ceased to fly over the heads of their enemies, but struck now in
the ranks. The ridges were enveloped in fire and smoke. A fresh Southern
regiment was thrown in and the valiant Northern charge broke. The brave
men of Ohio and West Virginia, although they fought desperately and
encouraged one another to stand fast, were forced slowly back down the
slope.

Harry and a half dozen others beside him heard Jackson say, apparently
to himself, “The battle will soon be over.” Harry knew instinctively
that it was true. He had got into the habit of believing every thing
Jackson said. The end came in fifteen minutes more, and with it came the
night.

The soldiers in their ardor had not noticed that the long shadows were
creeping over the mountains. The sun had already sunk in a blood-red
blur behind the ridges, and as the men in blue slowly yielded the last
slope darkness which was already heavy in the defiles and ravines swept
down over the valley.

Jackson had won, but his men had suffered heavily and moreover he had
stood on the defense. He could not descend into the valley in the face
of the Northern resistance which was sure to be fierce and enduring.
The Northern cannon were beginning to send curving shells again over the
cliffs, sinister warnings of what the Virginians might expect if they
came down to attack. Harry and the other staff officers peering over the
crest saw many fires burning along the banks of the river. Milroy seemed
to be still bidding Jackson defiance.

Harry saw no preparations for a return assault. Jackson was inspecting
the ground, but his men were going over the field gathering up the
wounded and burying the dead. The Georgians had suffered terribly--most
of all--for their rash bravery, and the whole army was subdued. There
was less of exuberant youth, and more of grim and silent resolve.

Harry worked far into the night carrying orders here and there. The
moon came out and clothed the strange and weird battlefield in a robe of
silver. The heavens were sown with starshine, but it all seemed mystic
and unreal to the excited nerves of the boy. The mountains rose to two,
three times their real height, and the valley in which the Northern
fires burned became a mighty chasm.

It was one o’clock in the morning before Jackson himself left the field
and went to his headquarters at a little farmhouse on the plateau.
His faithful colored servant was waiting for him with food. He had not
touched any the whole day, but he declined it saying that he needed
nothing but sleep. He flung himself booted and clothed upon a bed and
was sound asleep in five minutes.

There was a little porch on one side of the house, and here Harry, who
had received no instructions from his general, camped. He rolled himself
in his cavalry cloak, lay down on the hard floor which was not hard to
him, and slept like a little child.

He was awakened at dawn as one often is by a presence, even though that
presence be noiseless. He felt a great unwillingness to get up. That was
a good floor on which he slept, and the cavalry cloak wrapped around
him was the finest and warmest that he had ever felt. He did not wish
to abandon either. But will triumphed. He opened his eyes and sprang
quickly to his feet.

Stonewall Jackson was standing beside him looking intently toward the
valley. The edge of a blazing sun barely showed in the east, and in the
west all the peaks and ridges were yet in the dusk. Morning was coming
in silence. There was no sound of battle or of the voices of men.

“I beg your pardon. I fear that I have overslept myself!” exclaimed
Harry.

“Not at all,” said Jackson with a slight smile. “The others of the staff
are yet asleep. You might have come inside. A little room was left on
the floor there.”

“I never had a better bed and I never slept better.” The general smiled
again and gave Harry an approving glance.

“Soldiers, especially boys, learn quickly to endure any kind of
hardship,” he said. “Come, we’ll see if the enemy is still there.”

Harry fancied from his tone that he believed Milroy gone, but knowing
better than to offer any opinion of his own he followed him toward the
edge of the valley. The pickets saluted as the silent figures passed.
The sun in the east was rising higher over the valley, and in the west
the peaks and ridges were coming out of the dusk.

The general carried his glasses slung over his shoulder, but he did
not need them. One glance into the valley and they saw that the army of
Milroy was gone. It had disappeared, horse, foot and guns, and Harry now
knew that the long row of camp fires in the night had been a show, but
only a brave show, after all.

The whole Southern army awoke and poured down the slopes. Yes, Milroy,
not believing that he was strong enough for another battle, had gone
down the valley. He had fought one good battle, but he would reach Banks
before he fought another.

The Southern troops felt that they had won the victory, and Jackson
sent a message to Richmond announcing it. Never had news come at a more
opportune time. The fortunes of the South seemed to be at the lowest
ebb. Richmond had heard of the great battle of Shiloh, the failure to
destroy Grant and the death of Albert Sidney Johnston. New Orleans,
the largest and richest city in the Confederacy, had been taken by the
Northern fleet--the North was always triumphant on the water--and the
mighty army of McClellan had landed on the Peninsula of Virginia for the
advance on Richmond.

It had seemed that the South was doomed, and the war yet scarcely a
year old. But in the mountains the strange professor of mathematics had
struck a blow and he might strike another. Both North and South realized
anew that no one could ever tell where he was or what he might do. The
great force, advancing by land to co-operate with McClellan, hesitated,
and drew back.

But Jackson’s troops knew nothing then of what was passing in the minds
of men at Washington and Richmond. They were following Milroy and that
commander, wily as well as brave, was pressing his men to the utmost in
order that he might escape the enemy who, he was sure, would pursue with
all his power. He knew that he had fought with Stonewall Jackson and he
knew the character of the Southern leader.

Sherburne brought his horses through a defile into the valley and his
men, now mounted, led the pursuit. Jackson in his eagerness rode with
him and Harry was there, too. Behind them came the famous foot cavalry.
Thus pursuer and pursued rolled down the valley, and Harry exulted
when he looked at the path of the fleeing army. The traces were growing
fresher and fresher. Jackson was gaining.

But there were shrewd minds in Milroy’s command. The Western men knew
many devices of battle and the trail, and Milroy was desperately bent
upon saving his force, which he knew would be overwhelmed, if overtaken
by Jackson’s army. Now he had recourse to a singular device.

Harry, riding with Captain Sherburne, noticed that the trees were dry
despite the recent rains. On the slopes of the mountains the water ran
off fast, and the thickets were dry also. Then he saw a red light in the
forest in front of them. General Jackson saw it at the same time.

“What is that?” he exclaimed.

“It looks like a forest fire, general,” replied Sherburne.

“You’re right, captain, and it’s growing.”

As they galloped forward they saw the red light expand rapidly and
spread directly across their path. The whole forest was on fire. Great
flames rose up the trunks of trees and leaped from bough to bough.
Sparks flew in millions and vast clouds of smoke, picked up by the wind,
were whirled in their faces.

The troop of cavalry was compelled to pause and General Jackson,
brushing the smoke from his eyes, said:

“Clever! very clever! Milroy has put a fiery wall between us.”

The device was a complete success. The pursuing men in gray could pass
around the fire at points, and wait at other points for it to burn out,
but they lost so much time that their cavalry were able only to skirmish
with the Northern rear guard. Then when night came on Milroy escaped
under cover of the thick and smoky darkness.

Harry slept on the ground that night, but the precious cloak was around
him. He slept beyond the dawn as the pursuit was now abandoned, but
when he arose smoke was still floating over the valley and the burned
forests. He was stiff and sore, but the fierce hunger that assailed
him made him forget the aching of his bones. He had eaten nothing for
thirty-six hours. He had forgotten until then that there was such a
thing as food. But the sight of Langdon holding a piece of frying bacon
on a stick afflicted him with a raging desire.

“Give me that bacon, Tom,” he cried, “or I’ll set the rest of the forest
on fire!”

“No need, you old war-horse. I was just bringing it to you. There’s
plenty more where this came from. The foot cavalry took it at McDowell,
and like the wise boys they are brought it on with them. Come and join
us. Your general is already riding a bit up the valley, and, as he
didn’t call you, it follows that he doesn’t want you.”

Harry followed him gladly. The Invincibles had found a good place, and
were cooking a solid breakfast. They had bacon and ham and coffee
and bread in abundance, and for a while there was a great eating and
drinking.

To youth which had marched and fought without food it was not a
breakfast. It was a banquet and a feast. Young frames which recover
quickly responded at once. Now and then, the musical clatter of iron
spoons and knives on iron cups and plates was broken by deep sighs of
satisfaction. But they did not speak for a while. There was lost time
to be made up, and they did not know when they would get another such
chance--the odds were always against it.

“Enough is enough,” said Langdon at last. “It took a lot to make enough,
but it’s enough. You have to be a soldier, Harry, to appreciate what
it is to eat, sleep and rest. I’m willing to wager my uniform against a
last winter’s snowball that we don’t get another such meal in a month.
Old Jack won’t let us.”

“To my mind,” said St. Clair, “we’re going right into the middle of big
things. We’ve chased the Yankees out of the mountains into the valley,
and we’ll follow hot on their heels. We’ve already learned enough of
General Jackson to know that he doesn’t linger.”

“Linger!” exclaimed Langdon indignantly. “Even if there was no fighting
to be done he’d march us from one end of the valley to the other just
to keep us in practice. Hear that bugle! Off we go! Five minutes to get
ready! Or maybe it is only three!”

It was more than five minutes, but not much more, when the whole army
was on the march again, but the foot cavalry forgot to grumble when
they came again into their beloved valley, across which, and up and down
which, they had marched so much.

They threw back their shoulders, their gait became more jaunty and they
burst into cheers, at the sight of the rich rolling country, now so
beautiful in spring’s heavy green. Far off the mountains rose, dark
and blue, but they were only the setting for the gem and made it more
precious.

“It’s ours,” said Sherburne proudly to Harry. “We left it to the Yankees
for a little while, but we’ve come back to claim it, and if the unbidden
tenant doesn’t get out at once we’ll put him out. Harry, haven’t you got
Virginia kinfolks? We want to adopt you and call you a Virginian.”

“Lots of them. My great-grandfather, Governor Ware, was born in
Maryland, but all the people on my mother’s side were of Virginia
origin.”

“I might have known it. Kentucky is the daughter of Virginia though a
large part of Kentucky takes sides with the Yankees. But that’s not your
fault. Remember, for the time being you’re a Virginian, one of us by
right of blood and deed.”

“Count me among ‘em at once,” said Harry. He felt a certain pride in
this off-hand but none the less real adoption, because he knew that it
was a great army with which he marched, and it might immortalize itself.

“What’s the news, Harry?” asked Sherburne. “You’re always near Old Jack,
and if he lets anything come from under that old hat of his, which isn’t
often, it’s because he’s willing for it to be known.”

“He’s said this, and he doesn’t mean it to be any secret. Banks is
at Strasburg with a big army, but he’s fortified himself there and he
doesn’t know just what to do. He doesn’t for the life of him know which
way Jackson is coming, nor do I. But I do know that Ewell with his
division is going to join us at last and we’ll have a sizable army.”

“And that means bigger things!” exclaimed Sherburne, joyously. “Between
you and me, Harry, Banks won’t sleep soundly again for many a night!”

As they marched on the valley people came out joyously to meet them.
Even women and girls on horseback, galloping, reined in their horses to
tell them where the Union forces lay. Always they had information for
Jackson, never any for the North. Here scouts and spies were scarcely
needed by the Southern army. Before night Stonewall Jackson knew as much
of his enemy as any general needed to know.

They camped at dusk and Langdon, contrary to his prediction, enjoyed
another ample meal and plenty of rest. Jackson allowed no tent to be
set for himself. The night was warm and beautiful and the songs of birds
came from the trees. The general had eaten sparingly, and now he sat on
a log in deep thought. Presently he looked up and said:

“Lieutenant Kenton, do you and Lieutenant Dalton ride forward in that
direction and meet General Ewell. He is coming, with his staff, to see
me. Escort him to the camp.”

He pointed out the direction and in an instant Harry and Dalton, also of
the staff, were in the camp, following the line of that pointing finger.
They had the password and as they passed a little beyond the pickets
they saw a half dozen horsemen riding rapidly toward them in the dusk.

“General Ewell, is it not, sir?” said Harry, as he and Dalton gave the
salute.

“I’m General Ewell,” replied the foremost horseman. “Do you come from
General Jackson?”

“Yes, sir. His camp is just before you. You can see the lights now. He
has directed us to meet you and escort you.”

“Then lead the way.”

The two young lieutenants, guiding General Ewell and his staff, were
soon inside Jackson’s camp, but Harry had time to observe Ewell well. He
had already heard of him as a man of great vigor and daring. He had made
a name for judgment and dash in the Indian wars on the border. Men
spoke of him as a soldier, prompt to obey his superior and ready to take
responsibility if his superior were not there. Harry knew that Jackson
expected much of him.

He saw a rather slender man with wonderfully bright eyes that smiled
much, a prominent and pronounced nose and a strong chin. When he took
off his hat at the meeting with Jackson he disclosed a round bald head,
which he held on one side when he talked.

Jackson had risen from the log as Ewell rode up and leaped from his
magnificent horse--his horses were always of the best--and he advanced,
stretching out his hand. Ewell clasped it and the two talked. The staffs
of the two generals had withdrawn out of ear shot, but Harry noticed
that Ewell did much the greater part of the talking, his head cocked on
one side in that queer, striking manner. But Harry knew, too, that
the mind and will of Jackson were dominant, and that Ewell readily
acknowledged them as so.

The conference did not last long. Then the two generals shook hands
again and Ewell sprang upon his horse. Jackson beckoned to Harry.

“Lieutenant Kenton,” he said, “ride with General Ewell to his camp.
You will then know the way well, and he may wish to send me some quick
dispatch.”

Harry, nothing loath, was in the saddle in an instant, and at the wish
of General Ewell rode by his side.

“You have been with him long?” said Ewell.

“From the beginning of the campaign here, sir.”

“Then you were at both Kernstown and McDowell. A great general, young
man.”

“Yes, sir. He will march anywhere and fight anything.”

“That’s my own impression. We’ve heard that his men are the greatest
marchers in the world. My own lads under him will acquire the same
merit.”

“We know, sir, that your men are good marchers already.”

General Ewell laughed with satisfaction.

“It’s true,” he said. “When I told my second in command that we were
going to march to join General Jackson he wanted to bring tents. I told
him that would load us up with a lot of tent poles and that he must
bring only a few, for the sick, perhaps. There must be no baggage, just
food and ammunition. I told ‘em that when we joined General Jackson we’d
have nothing to do but eat and fight.”

He seemed now to be speaking to himself rather than to Harry, and the
boy said nothing. Ewell, relapsing into silence, urged his horse to a
gallop and the staff perforce galloped, too. Such a pace soon brought
them to the camp of the second army, and as they rode past the pickets
Harry heard the sound of stringed music.

“The Cajuns,” said one of the staff, a captain named Morton. Harry did
not know what “Cajuns” meant, but he was soon to learn. Meanwhile the
sound of the music was pleasant in his ear, and he saw that the camp,
despite the lateness of the hour, was vivid with life.

General Ewell gave Harry into Captain Morton’s care, and walked away to
a small tent, where he was joined by several of his senior officers for
a conference. But after they had tethered their horses for the night,
Captain Morton took Harry through the camp.

Harry was full of eagerness and curiosity and he asked to see first the
strange “Cajuns,” those who made the music.

“They are Louisiana French,” said Morton, “not the descendants or the
original French settlers in that state, but the descendants of the
French by the way of Nova Scotia.”

“Oh, I see, the Acadians, the exiles.”

“Yes, that’s it. The name has been corrupted into Cajuns in Louisiana.
They are not like the French of New Orleans and Baton Rouge and the
other towns. They are rural and primitive. You’ll like them. Few of them
were ever more than a dozen miles from home before. They love music, and
they’ve got a full regimental band with them. You ought to hear it play.
Why, they’d play the heart right out of you.”

“I like well enough the guitars and banjos that they’re playing now.
Seems to me that kind of music is always best at night.”

They had now come within the rim of light thrown out by the fires of
the Acadians, and Harry stood there looking for the first time at these
dark, short people, brought a thousand miles from their homes.

They were wholly unlike Virginians and Kentuckians. They had black eyes
and hair, and their naturally dark faces were burned yet darker by the
sun of the Gulf. Yet the dark eyes were bright and gay, sparkling with
kindliness and the love of pleasure. The guitars and banjos were playing
some wailing tune, with a note of sadness in the core of it so keen and
penetrating that it made the water come to Harry’s eyes. But it changed
suddenly to something that had all the sway and lilt of the rosy South.
Men sprang to their feet and clasping arms about one another began to
sway back and forth in the waltz and the polka.

Harry watched with mingled amazement and pleasure. Most of the South
was religious and devout. The Virginians of the valley were nearly all
staunch Presbyterians, and Stonewall Jackson, staunchest of them all,
never wanted to fight on Sunday. The boy himself had been reared in a
stern Methodist faith, and the lightness in this French blood of the
South was new to him. But it pleased him to see them sing and dance, and
he found no wrong in it, although he could not have done it himself.

Captain Morton noticed Harry’s close attention and he read his mind.

“They surprised me, too, at first,” he said, “but they’re fine soldiers,
and they’ve put cheer into this army many a time when it needed it
most. Taylor, their commander, is a West Pointer and he’s got them into
wonderful trim. They’re well clothed and well shod. They never straggle
and they’re just about the best marchers we have. They’ll soon be rated
high among Jackson’s foot cavalry.”

Harry left the Acadians with reluctance, and when he made the round of
the camp General Ewell, who had finished the conference, told him that
he would have no message to send that night to Jackson. He might go to
sleep, but the whole division would march early in the morning. Harry
wrapped himself again in his cloak, found a place soft with moss under a
tree, and slept with the soft May wind playing over his face and lulling
him to deeper slumber.

He rode the next morning with General Ewell and the whole division to
join Jackson’s army. It was a trim body of men, well clad, fresh and
strong, and they marched swiftly along the turnpike, on both sides of
which Jackson was encamped further on.

Harry felt a personal pride in being with Ewell when the junction was
to be made. He felt that, in a sense, he was leading in this great
reinforcement himself, and he looked back with intense satisfaction at
the powerful column marching so swiftly along the turnpike.

They came late in the day to Jackson’s pickets, and then they saw his
army, scattered through the fields on either side of the road.

Harry rejoiced once more in the grand appearance of the new division.
Every coat or tunic sat straight. Every shoe-lace was tied, and they
marched with the beautiful, even step of soldiers on parade. They
were to encamp beyond Jackson’s old army, and as they passed along the
turnpike it was lined on either side by Jackson’s own men, cheering with
vigor.

The colonel who was in immediate charge of the encampment, a man who had
never seen General Jackson, asked Harry where he might find him. Harry
pointed to a man sitting on the top rail of a fence beside the road.

“But I asked for General Jackson,” said the colonel.

“That’s General Jackson.”

The colonel approached and saluted. General Jackson’s clothes were
soiled and dusty. His feet, encased in cavalry boots that reached beyond
the knees, rested upon a lower rail of the fence. A worn cap with a
dented visor almost covered his eyes. The rest of his face was concealed
by a heavy, dark beard.

“General Jackson, I believe,” said the officer, saluting.

“Yes. How far have those men marched?” The voice was kindly and
approving.

“We’ve come twenty-six miles, sir.”

“Good. And I see no stragglers.”

“We allow no stragglers.”

“Better still. I haven’t been able to keep my own men from straggling,
and you’ll have to teach them.”

At that moment the Acadian band began to play, and it played the
merriest waltz it knew. Jackson gazed at it, took a lemon from his
pocket and began to suck the juice from it meditatively. The officer
stood before him in some embarrassment.

“Aren’t they rather thoughtless for such serious work as war?” asked the
Presbyterian general.

“I am confident, sir, that their natural gayety will not impair their
value as soldiers.”

Jackson put the end of the lemon back in his mouth and drew some juice
from it. The colonel bowed and retired. Then Jackson beckoned to Harry,
who stood by.

“Follow him and tell him,” he said, “that the band can play as much as
it likes. I noticed, too, that it plays well.”

Jackson smiled and Harry hurried after the officer, who flushed with
gratification, when the message was delivered to him.

“I’ll tell it to the men,” he said, “and they’ll fight all the better
for it.”

That night it was a formidable army that slept in the fields on either
side of the turnpike, and in the silence and the dark, Stonewall Jackson
was preparing to launch the thunderbolt.



CHAPTER IX. TURNING ON THE FOE


Harry was awakened at the first shoot of dawn by the sound of trumpets.
It was now approaching the last of May and the cold nights had long
since passed. A warm sun was fast showing its edge in the east, and,
bathing his face at a brook and snatching a little breakfast, he was
ready. Stonewall Jackson was already up, and his colored servant was
holding Little Sorrel for him.

The army was fast forming into line, the new men of Ewell resolved to
become as famous foot cavalry as those who had been with Jackson all
along. Ewell himself, full of enthusiasm and already devoted to his
chief, was riding among them, and whenever he spoke to one of them he
cocked his head on one side in the peculiar manner that was habitual
with him. Now and then, as the sun grew warmer, he took off his hat and
his bald head gleamed under the yellow rays.

“Which way do you think we’re going?” said the young staff officer,
George Dalton, to Harry--Dalton was a quiet youth with a good deal of
the Puritan about him and Harry liked him.

“I’m not thinking about it at all,” replied Harry with a laugh. “I’ve
quit trying to guess what our general is going to do, but I fancy that
he means to lead us against the enemy. He has the numbers now.”

“I suppose you’re right,” said Dalton. “I’ve been trying to guess all
along, but I think I’ll give it up now and merely follow where the
general leads.”

The bugles blew, the troops rapidly fell into line and marched northward
along the turnpike, the Creole band began to play again one of those
lilting waltz tunes, and the speed of the men increased, their feet
rising and falling swiftly to the rhythm of the galloping air. Jackson,
who was near the head of the column, looked back and Harry saw a faint
smile pass over his grim face. He saw the value of the music.

“I never heard such airs in our Presbyterian church,” said Dalton to
Harry.

“But this isn’t a church.”

“No, it isn’t, but those Creole tunes suit here. They put fresh life
into me.”

“Same here. And they help the men, too. Look how gay they are.”

Up went the shining sun. The brilliant blue light, shot with gold,
spread from horizon to horizon, little white clouds of vapor, tinted
at the edges with gold from the sun, floated here and there. It was
beautiful May over all the valley. White dust flew from the turnpike
under the feet of so many marching men and horses, and the wheels of
cannon. Suddenly the Georgia troops that had suffered so severely at
McDowell began to sing a verse from the Stars and Bars, and gradually
the whole column joined in:


       “Now Georgia marches to the front
        And close beside her come
        Her sisters by the Mexique sea
        With pealing trump and drum,
        Till answering back from hill and glen
        The rallying cry afar,
        A nation hoists the Bonnie Blue Flag
        That bears a single star.”


It was impossible not to feel emotion. The face of the most solemn
Presbyterian of them all flushed and his eyes glowed. Now the band, that
wonderful band of the Acadians, was playing the tune, and the mighty
chorus rolled and swelled across the fields. Harry’s heart throbbed
hard. He was with the South, his own South, and he was swayed wholly by
feeling.

The Acadians were leading the army. Harry saw Jackson whispering
something to a staff officer. The officer galloped forward and spoke to
Taylor, the commander of the Louisiana troops. Instantly the Acadians
turned sharply from the turnpike and walked in a diagonal line through
the fields. The whole army followed and they marched steadily northward
and eastward.

Harry had another good and close view of the Massanuttons, now one
vast mass of dark green foliage, and it caused his thoughts to turn to
Shepard. He had no doubt that the wary and astute Northern scout was
somewhere near watching the march of Stonewall. He had secured a pair of
glasses of his own and he scanned the fields and forests now for a
sight of him and his bold horsemen. But he saw no blue uniforms, merely
farmers and their wives and children, shouting with joy at the sight of
Jackson, eager to give him information, and eager to hide it from Banks.

But Harry was destined to have more than another view of the
Massanuttons. Jackson marched steadily for four days, crossing the
Massanuttons at the defile, and coming down into the eastern valley.
The troops were joyous throughout the journey, although they had not the
least idea for what they were destined, and Ewell’s men made good their
claim to a place of equal honor in the foot cavalry.

They were now in the division of the great valley known as the Luray,
and only when they stopped did Harry and his comrades of the staff learn
that the Northern army under Kenly was only ten miles away at Front
Royal.

The preceding night had been one of great confidence, even of
light-heartedness in Washington. The worn and melancholy President felt
that a triumphant issue of the war was at hand. The Secretary of War was
more than sanguine, and the people in the city joyfully expected
speedy news of the fall of Richmond. McClellan was advancing with an
overwhelming force on the Southern capital, and the few regiments of
Jackson were lost somewhere in the mountains. In the west all things
were going well under Grant.

It was only a few who, recognizing that the army of Jackson was lost to
Northern eyes, began to ask questions about it. But they were laughed
down. Jackson had too few men to do any harm, wherever he might be.
Nobody suspected that at dawn Jackson, with a strong force, would be
only a little more than three score miles from the Union capital itself.
Even Banks himself, who was only half that distance from the Southern
army, did not dream that it was coming.

When the sun swung clear that May morning there was a great elation
in this army which had been lost to its enemies for days and which the
unknowing despised. They ate a good breakfast, and then, as the Creole
band began to play its waltzes again, they advanced swiftly on Front
Royal.

“We’ll be attacking in two hours,” said Dalton.

“In less time than that, I’m thinking,” said Harry. “Look how the men
are speeding it up!”

The band ceased suddenly. Harry surmised that it had been stopped,
in order to suppress noise as much as possible, now that they were
approaching the enemy. Cheering and loud talking also were stopped,
and they heard now the heavy beat of footsteps, horses and men, and the
rumble of vehicles, cannon and wagons. The morning was bright and hot.
A haze of heat hung over the mountains, and to Harry the valley was more
beautiful and picturesque than ever. He had again flitting feelings of
melancholy that it should be torn so ruthlessly by war.

If Shepard and other Northern scouts were near, they were lax that
morning. Not a soul in the garrison at Front Royal dreamed of Jackson’s
swift approach. They were soon to have a terrible awakening.

Harry saw Jackson raise the visor of his old cap a little, and he saw
the eyes beneath it gleam.

“We must be near Front Royal,” he said to Dalton.

“It’s just beyond the woods there. It’s not more than half a mile away.”

The army halted a moment and Jackson sent forward a long line of
skirmishers through the wood. Sherburne’s cavalry were to ride just
behind them, and he dispatched Harry and Dalton with the captain. At the
first sound of the firing the whole army would rush upon Front Royal.

The skirmishers, five hundred strong, pressed forward through the wood.
They were sun-browned, eager fellows, every one carrying a rifle, and
all sharpshooters.

It seemed to Harry that the skirmishers were through the wood in
an instant, like a force of Indians bursting from ambush upon an
unsuspecting foe. The Northern pickets were driven in like leaves before
a whirlwind. The rattle and then the crash of rifles beat upon the ears,
and the Southern horsemen were galloping through the streets of the
startled village by the time the Northern commander, posted with his
main force just behind the town, knew that Jackson had emerged from the
wilderness and was upon him. Banks not dreaming of Jackson’s nearness,
had taken away Kenly’s cavalry, and there were only pickets to see.

The Northern commander was brave and capable. He drew up his men rapidly
on a ridge and planted his guns in front, but the storm was too heavy
and swift.

Harry saw the front of the Southern army burst into fire, and then a
deadly sleet of shell and bullets was poured upon the Northern force.
He and Dalton did not have time to rejoin Jackson, but they kept with
Sherburne’s force as the group of wild horsemen swung around toward the
Northern rear, intending to cut it off.

Harry heard the Southern bugles playing mellow and triumphant tunes, and
they inflamed his brain. All the little pulses in his head began to beat
heavily. Millions of black specks danced before his eyes, but the air
about them was red. He began to shout with the others. The famous rebel
yell, which had in it the menacing quality of the Indian war whoop, was
already rolling from the half circle of the attacking army, as it rushed
forward.

Kenly hung to his ground, fighting with the courage of desperation, and
holding off for a little while the gray masses that rushed upon him. But
when he heard that the cavalry of Sherburne was already behind him, and
was about to gain a position between him and the river, he retreated
as swiftly as he could, setting fire to all his tents and stores, and
thundering in good order with his remaining force over the bridge.

These Northern men, New Yorkers largely, were good material, like
their brethren of Ohio and West Virginia. Despite the surprise and the
overwhelming rush of Jackson, they stopped to set fire to the bridge,
and they would have closed that avenue of pursuit had not the Acadians
rushed forward, heedless of bullets and flames, and put it out. Yet
the bridge was damaged and the Southern pursuit could cross but slowly.
Kenly, seeing his advantage, and cool and ready, drew up his men on a
hill and poured a tremendous fire upon the bridge.

Harry saw the daring deed of the men from the Gulf coast, and he clapped
his hands in delight. But he had only a moment’s view. Sherburne was
curving away in search of a ford and all his men galloped close behind
him.

Near the town the river was deep and swift and the horsemen would be
swept away by it, but willing villagers running at the horses’ heads led
them to fords farther down.

“Into the river, boys!” shouted Sherburne, as he with Harry and Dalton
by his side galloped into the stream. It seemed to Harry that the whole
river was full of horsemen in an instant, and then he saw Stonewall
Jackson himself, riding Little Sorrel into the stream.

Harry’s horse stumbled once on the rocky bottom, but recovered his
footing, and the boy urged him on toward the bank, bumping on either
side against those who were as eager as he. He was covered with water
and foam, churned up by so many horses, but he did not notice it. In a
minute his horse put his forefeet upon the bank, pulled himself up, and
then they were all formed up by Jackson himself for the pursuit.

“They run! They run already!” cried Sherburne.

They were not running, exactly, but Kenly, always alert and cool, had
seen the passage of the ford by the Virginians, and unlimbering his
guns, was retreating in good order, but swiftly, his rear covered by the
New York cavalry.

Now Harry saw all the terrors of war. It was not sufficient for Jackson
to defeat the enemy. He must follow and destroy him. More of his army
crossed at the fords and more poured over the bridge.

The New York cavalry, despite courage and tenacity, could not withstand
the onset of superior numbers. They were compelled to give way, and
Kenly ordered his infantry, retreating on the turnpike, to turn and help
them. Jackson had not waited for his artillery, but his riflemen poured
volley after volley of bullets upon the beaten army, while his cavalry,
galloping in the fields, charged it with sabers on either flank.

Harry was scarcely conscious of what he was doing. He was slashing with
his sword and shooting with the rest. Sometimes his eyes were filled
with dust and smoke and then again they would clear. He heard the voices
of officers shouting to both cavalry and infantry to charge, and then
there was a confused and terrible melee.

Harry never remembered much of that charge, and he was glad that he did
not. He preferred that it should remain a blur in which he could not
pick out the details. He was conscious of the shock, when horse met
horse and body met body. He saw the flash of rifle and pistol shots,
and the gleam of sabers through the smoke, and he heard a continuous
shouting kept up by friend and foe.

Then he felt the Northern army, struck with such terrific force, giving
way. Kenly had made a heroic stand, but he could no longer support the
attacks from all sides. One of his cannon was taken and then all. He
himself fell wounded terribly. His senior officers also fell, as they
tried to rally their men, who were giving way at all points.

Sherburne wheeled his troop away again and charged at the Northern
cavalry, which was still in order. Harry had seen Jackson himself give
the command to the captain. It was the redoubtable commander who saw all
and understood all, who always struck, with his sword directly at the
weak point in the enemy’s armor. Harry saw that eye glittering as he had
never seen it glitter before, and the command was given in words of fire
that communicated a like fire to every man in the troop.

The Northern cavalry cut to pieces, Kenly’s whole army dissolved. The
attack was so terrific, so overwhelming, and was pushed home so hard,
that panic ran through the ranks of those brave men. They fled through
the orchards and the fields, and Jackson never ceased to urge on the
pursuit, taking whole companies here and there, and seizing scattered
fugitives.

Ashby, with the chief body of the cavalry, galloped on ahead to a
railway station, where Pennsylvania infantry were on guard. They had
just got ready a telegraphic message to Banks for help, but his men
rushed the station before it could be sent, tore up the railroad tracks,
cut the telegraph wires, carried by storm a log house in which the
Pennsylvanians had taken refuge, and captured them all.

The Northern army had ceased to exist. Save for some fugitives, it had
all fallen or was in the hands of Jackson, and the triumphant cheers of
the Southerners rang over the field. Banks, at Strasburg, not far away,
did not know that Kenly’s force had been destroyed. Three hours after
the attack had been made, an orderly covered with dust galloped into his
camp and told him that Kenly was pressed hard--he did not know the full
truth himself.

Banks, whose own force was cut down by heavy drafts to the eastward,
was half incredulous. It was impossible that Jackson could be at Front
Royal. He was fifty or sixty miles away, and the attack must be some
cavalry raid which would soon be beaten off. He sent a regiment and two
guns to see what was the matter. He telegraphed later to the Secretary
of War at Washington that a force of several thousand rebels gathered in
the mountains was pushing Kenly hard.

Meanwhile the victorious Southerners were spending a few moments in
enjoying their triumph. They captured great quantities of food and
clothing which Kenly had not found time to destroy, and which they
joyously divided among themselves.

Harry found the two colonels and all the rest of the Invincibles lying
upon the ground in the fields. Some of them were wounded, but most
were unhurt. They were merely panting from exhaustion. Colonel Leonidas
Talbot sat up when he saw Harry, and Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St.
Hilaire also sat up.

“Good afternoon, Harry,” said Colonel Talbot, politely. “It’s been a
warm day.”

“But a victorious one, sir.”

“Victorious, yes; but it is not finished. I fancy that in spite of
everything we have not yet learned the full capabilities of General
Jackson, eh, Hector?”

“No, sir, we haven’t,” replied Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire,
emphatically. “I never saw such an appetite for battle. In Mexico
General Winfield Scott would press the enemy hard, but he was not
anxious to march twenty miles and fight a battle every day.”

Harry found St. Clair and Langdon not far away from their chief
officers. St. Clair had brushed the dust off his clothing, but he was
regarding ruefully two bullet holes in the sleeve of his fine gray
tunic.

“He has neither needle nor thread with which to sew up those holes,”
 said Langdon, with wicked glee, “and he must go into battle again with a
tunic more holy than righteous. It’s been a bad day for clothes.”

“A man doesn’t fight any worse because he’s particular about his
uniform, does he?” asked St. Clair.

“You don’t. That’s certain, old fellow,” said Langdon, clapping him
on the back. “And just think how much worse it might have been. Those
bullets, instead of merely going through your coat sleeve, might have
gone through your arm also, shattering every bone in it. Now, Harry, you
ride with Old Jack. Tell us what he means to do. Are we going to rest
on our rich and numerous laurels, or is it up and after the Yanks
hot-foot?”

“He’s not telling me anything,” replied Harry, “but I think it’s safe to
predict that we won’t take any long and luxurious rest. Nor will we ever
take any long and luxurious rest while we’re led by Stonewall Jackson.”

Jackson marched some distance farther toward Strasburg, where the army
of Banks, yet unbelieving, lay, and as the night was coming on thick and
black with clouds, went into camp. But among their captured stores they
had ample food now, and tents and blankets to protect themselves from
the promised rain.

The Acadians, who were wonderful cooks, showed great culinary skill as
well as martial courage. They were becoming general favorites, and they
prepared all sorts of appetizing dishes, which they shared freely with
the Virginians, the Georgians and the others. Then the irrepressible
band began. In the fire-lighted woods and on the ground yet stained by
the red of battle, it played quaint old tunes, waltzes and polkas and
roundelays, and once more the stalwart Pierres and Raouls and Luciens
and Etiennes, clasping one another in their arms, whirled in wild dances
before the fires.

The heavy clouds opened bye and bye, and then all save the sentinels
fled to shelter. Harry and Dalton, who had been watching the dancing,
went to a small tent which had been erected for themselves and two more.
Next to it was a tent yet smaller, occupied by the commander-in-chief,
and as they passed by it they heard low but solemn tones lifted in
invocation to God. Harry could not keep from taking one fleeting glance.
He saw Jackson on his knees, and then he went quickly on.

The other two officers had not yet come, and Dalton and he were alone in
the tent. It was too dark inside for Harry to see Dalton’s face, but he
knew that his comrade, too, had seen and heard.

“It will be hard to beat a general who prays,” said Dalton. “Some of our
men laugh at Jackson’s praying, but I’ve always heard that the Puritans,
whether in England or America, were a stern lot to face.”

“The enemy at least won’t laugh at him. I’ve heard that they had great
fun deriding a praying professor of mathematics, but I fancy they’ve
quit it. If they haven’t they’ll do so when they hear of Front Royal.”

The tent was pitched on the bare ground, but they had obtained four
planks, every one about a foot wide and six feet or so long. They were
sufficient to protect them from the rain which would run under the tent
and soak into the ground. Harry had long since learned that a tent and a
mere strip of plank were a great luxury, and now he appreciated them at
their full value.

He wrapped himself in the invaluable cloak, stretched his weary body
upon his own particular plank, and was soon asleep. He was awakened in
the night by a low droning sound. He did not move on his plank, but lay
until his eyes became used partially to the darkness. Then he saw
two other figures also wrapped in their cloaks and stretched on their
planks, dusky and motionless. But the fourth figure was kneeling on
his plank and Harry saw that it was Dalton, praying even as Stonewall
Jackson had prayed.

Then Harry shut his eyes. He was not devout himself, but in the darkness
of the night, with the rain beating a tattoo on the canvas walls of
the tent, he felt very solemn. This was war, red war, and he was in the
midst of it. War meant destruction, wounds, agony and death. He might
never again see Pendleton and his father and his aunt and his cousin,
Dick Mason, and Dr. Russell and all his boyhood and school friends. It
was no wonder that George Dalton prayed. He ought to be praying himself,
and lying there and not stirring he said under his breath a simple
prayer that his mother had taught him when he was yet a little child.

Then he fell asleep again, and awoke no more until the dawn. But while
Harry slept the full dangers of his situation became known to Banks far
after midnight at Strasburg. The regiment and the two guns that he
had sent down the turnpike to relieve Kenly had been fired upon so
incessantly by Southern pickets and riflemen that they were compelled
to turn back. Everywhere the Northern scouts and skirmishers were driven
in. Despite the darkness and rain they found a wary foe whom they could
not pass.

It was nearly two o’clock in the morning when Banks was aroused by a
staff officer who said that a man insisted upon seeing him. The man,
the officer said, claimed to have news that meant life or death, and he
carried on his person a letter from President Lincoln, empowering him to
go where he pleased. He had shown that letter, and his manner indicated
the most intense and overpowering anxiety.

Banks was surprised, and he ordered that the stranger be shown in at
once. A tall man, wrapped in a long coat of yellow oilcloth, dripping
rain, was brought into the room. He held a faded blue cap in his hand,
and the general noticed that the hand was sinewy and powerful. The front
of the coat was open a little at the top, disclosing a dingy blue coat.
His high boots were spattered to the tops with mud.

There was something in the man’s stern demeanor and his intense, burning
gaze that daunted Banks, who was a brave man himself. Moreover, the
general was but half dressed and had risen from a warm couch, while
the man before him had come in on the storm, evidently from some great
danger, and his demeanor showed that he was ready for other and instant
dangers. For the moment the advantage was with the stranger, despite the
difference in rank.

“Who are you?” asked the general.

“My name, sir, is Shepard, William J. Shepard. I am a spy or a scout
in the Union service. I have concealed upon me a letter from President
Lincoln, empowering me to act in such a capacity and to go where I
please. Do you wish to see it, sir?”

Shepard spoke with deference, but there was no touch of servility in his
tone.

“Show me the letter,” said Banks.

Shepard thrust a hand into his waistcoat and withdrew a document which
he handed to the general. Banks glanced through it rapidly.

“It’s from Lincoln,” he said; “I know that handwriting, but it would not
be well for you to be captured with that upon you.”

“If I were about to be captured I should destroy it.”

“Why have you come here? What message do you bring?”

“The worst possible message, sir. Stonewall Jackson and an army of
twenty thousand men will be upon you in the morning.”

“What! What is this you say! It was only a cavalry raid at Front Royal!”

“It was no cavalry raid at Front Royal, sir! It was Jackson and his
whole army! I ought to have known, sir! I should have got there and have
warned Kenly in time, but I could not! My horse was killed by a rebel
sharpshooter in the woods as I was approaching! I could not get up in
time, but I saw what happened!”

“Kenly! Kenly, where is he?”

“Mortally wounded or dead, and his army is destroyed! They made a brave
stand, even after they were defeated at the village. They might have got
away had anybody but Jackson been pursuing. But he gave them no chance.
They were enveloped by cavalry and infantry, and only a few escaped.”

“Good God!” exclaimed Banks, aghast.

“Nor is that all, sir. They are close at hand! They will attack you
at dawn! They are in full force! Ewell’s army has joined Jackson and
Jackson leads them all! We must leave Strasburg at once or we are lost!”

Shepard’s manner admitted of no doubt. Banks hurried forth and sent
officers to question the pickets. All the news they brought was
confirmatory. Even in the darkness and rain shots had been fired at
them by the Southern skirmishers. Banks sent for all of his important
officers, the troops were gathered together, and leaving a strong
rear-guard, they began a rapid march toward Winchester, which Jackson
had loved so well.

Swiftness and decision now on the other side had saved the Northern army
from destruction. Banks did not realize until later, despite the urgent
words of Shepard, how formidable was the danger that threatened him.
Jackson, despite all the disadvantages of the darkness and the rain,
wished to get his army up before daylight, but the deep mud formed by
the pouring rain enabled Banks to slip away from the trap.

The Southern troops, moreover, were worn to the bone. They had come
ninety miles in five days over rough roads, across streams without
bridges, and over a high mountain, besides fighting a battle of uncommon
fierceness. There were limits even to the endurance of Jackson’s foot
cavalry.

Harry was first awake in the little tent. He sat up and looked at the
other three on their planks who were sleeping as if they would never
wake any more. A faint tint of dawn was appearing at the open flap of
the door. The four had lain down dressed fully, and Harry, as he sprang
from his board, cried:

“Up, boys, up! The army is about to move!”

The three also sprang to their feet, and went outside. Although the dawn
was as yet faint, the army was awakening rapidly, or rather was being
awakened. The general himself appeared a moment later, dressed fully,
the end of a lemon in his mouth, his face worn and haggard by incredible
hardships, but his eyes full of the strength that comes from an
unconquerable will.

He nodded to Harry, Dalton and the others.

“Five minutes for breakfast, gentlemen,” he said, “and then join me on
horseback, ready for the pursuit of the enemy!”

The few words were like the effects of a galvanic battery on Harry.
Peculiarly susceptible to mental power, Jackson was always a stimulus
to him. Close contact revealed to him the fiery soul that lay underneath
the sober and silent exterior, and, in his own turn, he caught fire from
it. Youthful, impressionable and extremely sensitive to great minds
and great deeds, Stonewall Jackson had become his hero, who could do no
wrong.

Five minutes for the hasty breakfast and they were in the saddle just
behind Jackson. The rain had ceased, the sun was rising in a clear sky,
the country was beautiful once more, and down a long line the Southern
bugles were merrily singing the advance. Very soon scattered shots all
along their front showed that they were in touch with the enemy.

The infantry and cavalry left by Banks as a curtain between himself and
Jackson did their duty nobly that morning. The pursuit now led into a
country covered with forest, and using every advantage of such shelter,
the Northern companies checked the Southern advance as much as was
humanly possible. Many of them were good riflemen, particularly those
from Ohio, and the cavalry of Ashby, Funsten and Sherburne found the
woods very warm for them. Horses were falling continually, and often
their riders fell with them to stay.

Harry, in the center with the commander, heard the heavy firing to both
right and left, and he glanced often at Jackson. He saw his lips move as
if he were talking to himself, and he knew that he was disappointed at
this strong resistance. Troops could move but slowly through woods in
the face of a heavy rifle fire, and meanwhile Banks with his main body
was escaping to Winchester.

“Mr. Kenton,” said Jackson sharply, “ride to General Ashby and tell him
to push the enemy harder! We must crush at least a portion of this army!
It is vital!”

Harry was off as soon as the last words left the general’s lips. He
spurred his horse from the turnpike, leaped a low rail fence, and
galloped across a field toward a forest, where Ashby’s cavalry were
advancing and the rifles were cracking fast.

Bullets from the Northern skirmishers flew over him and beside him, as
he flew about the field, but he thought little of them. He was growing
so thoroughly inured to war that he seldom realized the dangers until
they were passed.

Neither he nor his horse was hurt--their very speed, perhaps, saved them
and they entered the wood, where the Southern cavalry were riding.

“General Ashby!” he cried to the first man he saw. “Where is he? I’ve a
message from General Jackson!”

The soldier pointed to a figure on horseback but a short distance away,
and Harry galloped up.

“General Jackson asks you to press the enemy harder!” he said to Ashby.
“He wishes him to be driven in rapidly!”

A faint flush came into the brown cheeks of Ashby.

“He shall be obeyed,” he replied. “We’re about to charge in full force!
Hold, young man! You can’t go back now! You must charge with us!”

He put his hand on Harry’s rein as he spoke, and the boy saw that a
strong force of Northern cavalry had now appeared in the fields directly
between him and his general. Ashby turned the next instant to a bugler
at his elbow and exclaimed fiercely:

“Blow! Blow with all your might!”

The piercing notes of the charge rang forth again and again. Ashby,
shouting loudly and continuously and waving his sword above his head,
galloped forward. His whole cavalry force galloped with him and swept
down upon the defenders.

Nor did Ashby lack support. The Acadians led by Taylor swung forward on
a run, and a battery, coming at the double quick, unlimbered and opened
fire. Jackson had directed all, he had brought up the converging lines,
and the whole Northern rear guard, two thousand cavalry, some infantry
and a battery, were caught. Just before them lay the little village of
Middletown, and in an instant they were driven into its streets, where
they were raked by shot and shell from the cannon, while the rifles of
the cavalry and of the Louisiana troops swept them with bullets.

Again the Northern soldiers, brave and tenacious though they might be,
could make no stand against the terrible rush of Jackson’s victorious
and superior numbers. They had no such leading as their foes. The man,
the praying professor, was proving himself everything.

As at Front Royal, the Northern force was crushed. It burst from the
village in fragments, and fled in many directions. But Jackson urged on
the pursuit. Ashby’s cavalry charged again and again, taking prisoners
everywhere.

The people of Middletown, as red-hot for the South as were those of
Front Royal, rushed from their houses and guided the victors along the
right roads. They pointed where two batteries and a train of wagons were
fleeing toward Winchester, and Ashby, with his cavalry, Harry still at
his elbow, raced in pursuit.



CHAPTER X. WINCHESTER


Ashby’s troopers put the armed guard of the wagons to flight in an
instant, and then they seized the rich pillage in these wagons. They
were not yet used to the stern discipline of regular armies and Ashby
strove in vain to bring most of them back to the pursuit of the flying
enemy. Harry also sought to help, but they laughed at him, and he had
not yet come to the point where he could cut down a disobedient soldier.
Nor had the soldiers reached the point where they would suffer such
treatment from an officer. Had Harry tried such a thing it is more than
likely that he would have been cut down in his turn.

But the delay and similar delays elsewhere helped the retreating
Northern army. Banks, feeling that the pursuit was not now so fierce,
sent back a strong force with artillery under a capable officer, Gordon,
to help the rear. The scattered and flying detachments also gathered
around Gordon and threw themselves across the turnpike.

Harry felt the resistance harden and he saw the pursuit of the Southern
army slow up. The day, too, was waning. Shadows were already appearing
in the east and if Jackson would destroy Banks’ army utterly he must
strike quick and hard. Harry at that moment caught sight of the general
on the turnpike, on Little Sorrel, the reins lying loose on the horse’s
neck, his master sitting erect, and gazing at the darkening battlefield
which was spread out before him.

Harry galloped up and saluted.

“I could not come back at once, sir,” he said, “because the enemy was
crowded in between Ashby and yourself.”

“But you’ve come at last. I was afraid you had fallen.”

Harry’s face flushed gratefully. He knew now that Stonewall Jackson
would have missed him.

“If the night were only a little further away,” continued Jackson, “we
could get them all! But the twilight is fighting for them! And they
fight for themselves also! Look, how those men retreat! They do well for
troops who were surprised and routed not so long ago!”

He spoke in a general way to his staff, but his tone expressed decided
admiration. Harry felt again that the core of the Northern resistance
was growing harder and harder. The hostile cannon blazed down the road,
and the men as they slowly retired sent sheets of rifle bullets at their
pursuers. Detachments of their flying cavalry were stopped, reformed on
the flanks, and had the temerity to charge the victors more than once.

Harry did not notice now that the twilight was gone and the sun had sunk
behind the western mountains. The road between pursuer and pursued was
lighted up by the constant flashes of cannon and rifles, and at times
he fancied that he could see the vengeful and threatening faces of those
whom he followed, but it was only fancy, fancy bred by battle and its
excitement.

The pursued crossed a broad marshy creek, the Opequon, and suddenly
formed in line of battle behind it with the cavalry on their flanks.
The infantry poured in heavier volleys than before and their horsemen,
charging suddenly upon a Virginia regiment that was trying to cross,
sent it back in rapid retreat.

After the great volleys it was dark for a moment or two and then Harry
saw that General Jackson and his staff were sitting alone on their
horses on the turnpike. The Northern rifles flashed again on the edge of
the creek, and from a long stone fence, behind which they had also taken
refuge for a last stand.

Harry and his comrades urged Jackson off the turnpike, where he was a
fair target for the rifles whenever there was light, and into the bushes
beside it. They were just in time, as the night was illuminated an
instant later by cannon flashes and then a shower of bullets swept the
road where Jackson and his staff had been.

Harry thought that they would stop now, but he did not yet know fully
his Stonewall Jackson. He ordered up another Virginia regiment, which,
reckless of death, charged straight in front, crossed the creek and
drove the men in blue out of their position.

Yet the Northern troops, men from Massachusetts, refused to be routed.
They fell back in good order, carrying their guns with them, and
stopping at intervals to fire with cannon and rifles at their pursuers.
Jackson and his staff spurred through the Opequon. Water and mud flew in
Harry’s face, but he did not notice them. He was eager to be up with the
first, because Jackson was still urging on the pursuit, even far into
the night. Banks with his main force had escaped him for the time, but
he did not mean that the Northern commander should make his retreat at
leisure.

Harry had never passed through such a night. It contained nothing but
continuous hours of pursuit and battle. The famous foot cavalry had
marched nearly twenty miles that day, they had fought a hard combat
that afternoon, and they were still fighting. But Jackson allowed not a
moment’s delay. He was continually sending messengers to regiments and
companies to hurry up, always to hurry up, faster, and faster and yet
faster.

Harry carried many such messages. In the darkness and the confusion
his clothing was half torn off him by briars and bushes. His horse fell
twice, stumbling into gulleys, but fortunately neither he nor his rider
was injured. Often he was compelled to rein up suddenly lest he ride
over the Southern lads themselves. All around him he heard the panting
of men pushed to the last ounce of their strength, and often there was
swearing, too. Once in the darkness he heard the voice of a boy cry out:

“Oh, Lord, have mercy on me and let me go to Hades! The Devil will have
mercy on me, but Stonewall Jackson never will!”

Harry did not laugh, nor did he hear anyone else laugh. He had expressed
the opinion that many of them held at that moment. Stonewall Jackson was
driving them on in the darkness and the light that he furnished them was
a flaming sword. It was worse to shirk and face him, than it was to go
on and face the cannon and rifles of the enemy.

They called upon their reserves of strength for yet another ounce, and
it came. The pursuit thundered on, through the woods and bushes
and across the hills and valleys, but the men in blue, in spite of
everything, retained their ranks on the turnpike, retreated in order,
and facing at intervals, sent volley after volley against the foe. It
was impossible for the Southern army to ride them down or destroy them
with cannon and rifle.

Harry came back about midnight from one of his messages, to Jackson, who
was again riding on the turnpike. Most of his staff were gone on like
errands, but General Taylor who led the Acadians was now with him. Off
in front the rifles were flashing, and again and again, bullets whistled
near them. Harry said nothing but fell in behind Jackson and close to
him to await some new commission.

They heard the thunder of a horse’s hoofs behind them, and a man
galloped up, he as well as his horse breathing hard.

He was the chief quartermaster of the army, and Jackson recognized him
at once, despite the dark.

“Where are the wagon trains?” exclaimed Jackson, shouting forth his
words.

“They’re far behind. They were held up by a bad road in the Luray
valley. We did our best, sir,” replied the officer, his voice trembling
with weariness and nervousness.

“And the ammunition wagons, where are they?”

The voice was stern, even accusing, but the officer met Jackson’s gaze
firmly.

“They are all right, sir,” he replied. “I sacrificed the other wagons
for them, though. They’re at hand.”

“You have done well, sir,” said Jackson, and Harry thought he saw him
smile. No food for his veterans, but plenty of powder. It was exactly
what would appeal to Stonewall Jackson.

“Supply more powder and bullets to the men,” said Jackson presently.
“Keep on pushing the enemy! Never stop for a moment.”

Harry mechanically put his hand in his pocket, why he did not know, but
he felt a piece of bread and meat that he had put there in the morning.
He fingered the foreign substance a moment, and it occurred to him
that it was good to eat. It occurred to him next that he had not eaten
anything since morning, and this body of his, which for the time being
seemed to be dissevered from mind, might be hungry.

He took out the food and looked at it. It was certainly good to the
eyes, and the body was not so completely dissevered after all, as it
began to signal the mind that it was, in very truth, hungry. He was
about to raise the food to his lips and then he remembered.

Spurring forward a little he held out the bread and meat to Jackson.

“It’s cold and hard, sir,” he said, “but you’ll find it good.”

“It’s thoughtful of you,” said Jackson. “I’ll take half and see that you
eat the rest. Give none of it to this hungry horde around me. They’re
able to forage for themselves.”

Jackson ate his half and Harry his. That reminded most of the officers
that they had food also, and producing it they divided it and fell
to with an appetite. As they ate, a shell from one of the retreating
Northern batteries burst almost over their heads and fragments of hot
metal struck upon the hard road. They ate on complacently. When Jackson
had finished his portion he took out one of his mysterious lemons and
began to suck the end of it.

Midnight was now far behind and the pursuit never halted. One of the
officers remarked jokingly that he had accepted an invitation to take
breakfast on the Yankee stores in Winchester the next morning. Jackson
made no comment. Harry a few minutes later uttered a little cry.

“What is it?” asked Jackson.

“We’re coming upon our old battlefield of Kernstown. I know those hills
even in the dark.”

“So we are. You have good eyes, boy. It’s been a long march, but here we
are almost back in Winchester.”

“The enemy are massing in front, sir,” said Dalton. “It looks as if they
meant to make another stand.”

The Massachusetts troops, their hearts bitter at the need to retreat,
were forming again on a ridge behind Kernstown, and the Pennsylvanians
and others were joining them. Their batteries opened heavily on their
pursuers, and the night was lighted again with the flame of many cannon
and rifles.

But their efforts were vain against the resistless advance of Jackson.
The peal of the Southern trumpets was heard above cannon and rifles,
always calling upon the men to advance, and, summoning their strength
anew, they hurled themselves upon the Northern position.

Fighting hard, but unable to turn the charge, the men in blue were
driven on again, leaving more prisoners and more spoil in the hands of
their pursuers. The battle at three o’clock in the morning lasted but a
short time.

The sound of the retreating column, the footsteps, the hoof-beats and
the roll of the cannon, died away down the turnpike. But the sound of
the army marching in pursuit died, also. Jackson’s men could call up
no further ounce of strength. The last ounce had gone long ago. Many of
them, though still marching and at times firing, were in a mere daze.
The roads swam past them in a dark blur and more than one babbled of
things at home.

It would soon be day and there was Winchester, where the kin of so many
of them lived, that Winchester they had left once, but to which they
were now coming back as conquerors, conquerors whose like had not been
seen since the young Napoleon led his republican troops to the conquest
of Italy. No, those French men were not as good as they. They could not
march so long and over such roads. They could not march all day and all
night, too, fighting and driving armies of brave men before them as they
fought. Yes, the Yankees were brave men! They were liars who said they
wouldn’t fight! If you didn’t believe it, all you had to do was to
follow Stonewall Jackson and see!

Such thoughts ran in many a young head in that army and Harry’s, too,
was not free from them, although it was no new thing to him to admit
that the Yankees could and would fight just as well as the men of his
South. The difference in the last few days lay in the fact that the
Southern army was led by a man while the Northern army was led by mere
men.

The command to halt suddenly ran along the lines of Jackson’s troops,
and, before it ceased to be repeated, thousands were lying prostrate in
the woods or on the grass. They flung themselves down just as they were,
reckless of horses or wagons or anything else. Why should they care?
They were Jackson’s men. They had come a hundred miles, whipping armies
as they came, and they were going to whip more. But now they meant to
rest and sleep a little while, and they would resume the whipping after
sunrise.

It was but a little while until dawn and they lay still. Harry, who had
kept his eyes open, felt sorry for them as they lay motionless in the
chill of the dawn, like so many dead men.

Jackson himself took neither sleep nor rest. Without even a cloak to
keep off the cold of dawn, he walked up and down, looking at the silent
ranks stretched upon the ground, or going forward a little to gaze
in the direction of Winchester. Nothing escaped his eye, and he heard
everything. Dalton, too, had refused to lie down and he stood with
Harry. The two gazed at the sober figure walking slowly to and fro.

“He begins to frighten me,” whispered Dalton. “He now seems to me at
times, Harry, not to be human, or rather more than human. It has been
more than a day and night now since he has taken a second of rest, and
he appears to need none.”

“He is human like the rest of us, but the flame in him burns stronger.
He gets cold and hungry and tired just as we do, but his will carries
him on all the same.”

“I’m thankful that I fight with him and not against him,” said Dalton
earnestly.

“Yes, and you’re going to march again with him in five minutes. See the
gray blur in the east, George. It’s the dawn and Jackson never waits on
the morning.”

Jackson was already giving the order for the men to awake and march
forth to battle. It seemed to most of them that they had closed their
eyes but a minute before. They rose, half awake, without food, cold,
and stiff from the frightful exertions of the day and night before, and
advanced mechanically in line.

The sun again was yellow and bright in a clear blue sky, and soon the
day would be warm. As they heard the sound of the trumpets they shook
sleep wholly from their eyes, and, as they moved, much of the soreness
went from their bones. Not far before them was Winchester.

Banks was in Winchester with his army. The fierce pursuit of the night
before had filled him with dismay, but with the morning he recalled his
courage and resolved to make a victorious stand with the valiant troops
that he led. Many of his officers told him how these men had fought
Jackson all through the night, and he found abundant cause for courage.

Harry and Dalton sprang into the saddle again, and, as they rode with
Jackson, they saw that the whole Southern army was at hand. Ewell was
there and the cavalry and the Acadians, their band saluting the morning
with a brave battle march. It sent the blood dancing through Harry’s
veins. He forgot his immense exertions, dangers and hardships and that
he had had no sleep in twenty-four hours.

Before him lay the enemy. It was no longer Jackson who retreated before
overwhelming numbers. He had the larger force now, at least where
the battle was fought, and although the Northern troops in the
valley exceeded him three or four to one, he was with his single army
destroying their detached forces in detail.

General Jackson, General Taylor and several other high officers were
just in front of the first Southern line, and Harry and Dalton sat on
their horses a few yards in the rear. The two generals were examining
the Northern position minutely through their glasses, and the chief,
turning presently to Harry, said:

“You have young and strong eyes. Tell me what you can see.”

Harry raised the splendid pair of glasses that he had captured in one of
the engagements and took a long, careful look.

“I can see west of the turnpike,” he said, “at least four or five
regiments and a battery of eight big guns. I think, too, that there is a
force of cavalry behind them. On the right, sir, I see stone fences and
the windings of the creeks with large masses of infantry posted behind
them.”

He spoke modestly, but with confidence.

“Your eyesight agrees with mine,” said Jackson. “We outnumber them, but
they have the advantage of the defense. But it shall not avail them.”

He spoke to himself rather than to the others, but Harry heard every
word he said, and he already felt the glow of the victory that Jackson
had promised. He now considered it impossible for Jackson to promise in
vain.

The sun was rising on another brilliant morning, and the two armies that
had been fighting all through the dark now stood face to face in full
force in the light. Behind the Northern army was Winchester in all the
throes of anxiety or sanguine hope.

The people had heard two or three days before that Jackson was fighting
his way back toward the north, winning wherever he fought. They had
heard in the night the thunder of his guns coming, always nearer, and
the torrents of fugitives in the dark had told them that the Northern
army was pushed hard. Now in the morning they were looking eagerly
southward, hoping to see Jackson’s gray legions driving the enemy before
him. But it was yet scarcely full dawn, and for a while they heard
nothing.

Jackson waited a little and scanned the field again. The morning had now
come in the west as well as in the east, and he saw the strong Northern
artillery posted on both sides of the turnpike, threatening the Southern
advance.

“We must open with the cannon,” he said, and he dispatched Harry and
Dalton to order up the guns.

The Southern batteries were pushed forward, and opened with a terrific
crash on their enemy, telling the waiting people in Winchester that the
battle had begun. The infantry and cavalry on either side, eager despite
their immense exertions and loss of rest and lack of food, were held
back by their officers, while the artillery combat went on.

Jackson, anxious to see the result, rode a little further forward, and
the group of staff officers, of course, went with him. Some keen-eyed
Northern gunner picked them out, and a shell fell near. Then came
another yet nearer, and when it burst it threw dirt all over them.

“A life worth so much as General Jackson’s should not be risked this
way,” whispered Dalton to Harry, “but I don’t dare say anything to him.”

“Nor do I, and if we did dare he’d pay no attention to us. Our gunners
don’t seem to be driving their gunners away. Do you notice that,
George?”

“Yes, I do and so does General Jackson. I can see him frowning.”

The Northern batteries, nearly always of high quality, were doing
valiant service that morning. The three batteries on the left of the
turnpike and another of eight heavy rifled guns on the right, swept the
whole of Jackson’s front with solid shot, grape and shell. The Southern
guns, although more numerous, were unable to crush them. The batteries
of the South were suffering the more. One of them was driven back
with the loss of half its men and horses. At another every officer was
killed.

“They outshoot us,” said Dalton to Harry, “and they make a splendid
stand for men who have been kept on the run for two days and nights.”

“So they do,” said Harry, “but sooner or later they’ll have to give way.
I heard General Jackson say that we would win a victory.”

Dalton glanced at him.

“So you feel that way, too,” he said very seriously. “I got the belief
some time ago. If he says we’ll win we’ll win. His prediction settles it
in my mind.”

“There’s a fog rising from the creek,” said Harry, “and it’s growing
heavier. I think Ewell was to march that way with his infantry and it
will hold him back. Chance is against us.”

“His guns have been out of action, but there they come again! I can’t
see them, but I can hear them through the mist.”

“And here goes the main force on our left. Stonewall is about to
strike.”

Harry had discovered the movement the moment it was begun. The whole
Stonewall brigade, the Acadians and other regiments making a formidable
force, moved to the left and charged. Gordon, Banks’ able assistant,
threw in fresh troops to meet the Southern rush, and they fired almost
point blank in the faces of the men in gray. Harry, riding forward
with the eager Jackson, saw many fall, but the Southern charge was not
checked for a moment. The men, firing their rifles, leaped the stone
fences and charged home with the bayonet. The Northern regiments were
driven back in disorder and their cavalry sweeping down to protect them,
were met by such a sleet of bullets that they, too, were driven back.

Now all the Southern regiments came up. Infantry, cavalry and artillery
crossed the creek and the ridges and formed in a solid line which
nothing could resist. The enemy, carrying away what cannon he could, was
driven swiftly before them. The rebel yell, wild and triumphant, swelled
from ten thousand throats as Jackson’s army rushed forward, pursuing the
enemy into Winchester.

Harry was shouting with the rest. He couldn’t help it. The sober Dalton
had snatched off his cap, and he, too, was shouting. Then Harry saw
Jackson himself giving way to exultation, for the first time. He was
back at Winchester which he loved so well, he had defeated the enemy
before it, and now he was about to chase him through its streets. He
spurred his horse at full speed down a rocky hill, snatched off his cap,
whirled it around his head and cried at the top of his voice again and
again:

“Chase them to the Potomac! Chase them to the Potomac!”

Harry and Dalton, hearing the cry, took it up and shouted it, too.
Before them was a vast bank of smoke and dust, shot with fire, and the
battle thundered as it rolled swiftly into Winchester. The Northern
officers, still strove to prevent a rout. They performed prodigies of
valor. Many of them fell, but the others, undaunted, still cried to the
men to turn and beat off the foe.

Winchester suddenly shot up from the dust and smoke. The battle went on
in the town more fiercely than ever. Torrents of shell and bullets swept
the narrow streets, but many of the women did not hesitate to appear at
the windows and shout amid all the turmoil and roar of battle cheers and
praise for those whom they considered their deliverers. Over all rose
the roar and flame of a vast conflagration where Banks had set his
storehouses on fire, but the women cheered all the more when they saw
it.

Harry did his best to keep up with his general, but Jackson still seemed
to be aflame with excitement. He was in the very front of the attack and
he cried to his men incessantly to push on. It was not enough to take
Winchester. They must follow the beaten army to the Potomac.

Harry had a vision of flame-swept streets, of the whizzing of bullets
and shell, of men crowded thick between the houses, and of the faces of
women at windows, handkerchiefs and veils in their hands. Before him was
a red mist sown with sparks, but every minute or two the mist was rent
open by the blast of a cannon, and then the fragments of shell whistled
again about his ears. He kept his eyes on Jackson, endeavoring to follow
him as closely as possible.

He heard suddenly a cry behind him. He saw Dalton’s horse falling, and
then Dalton and the horse disappeared. He felt a catch at the heart,
but it was not a time to remember long. The Southern troops were still
pouring forward driving hard on the Northern resistance.

He heard a moment or two later a voice by his side and there was Dalton
again mounted.

“I thought you were gone!” Harry shouted.

“I was gone for a minute but it was only my horse that stayed. He was
shot through the heart but I caught another--plenty of riderless ones
are galloping about--and here I am.”

The houses and the narrow streets offered some support to the defense
of Banks, but he was gradually driven through the town and out into
the fields beyond. Then the women, careless of bullets, came out of the
houses and weeping and cheering urged on the pursuit. It always seemed
to Harry that the women of this section hated the North more than the
men did, and now it was in very fact and deed the fierce women of the
South cheering on their men.

He came in the fields into contact with the Invincibles. St. Clair was
on foot, his horse killed, but Langdon was still riding, although there
was a faint trickle of blood from his shoulder. Some grim demon seized
him as he saw Harry.

“We said we were coming back to Winchester,” he shouted in his comrade’s
ear, “and we have come, but we don’t stay. Harry, how long does Old Jack
expect us to march and fight without stopping?”

“Until you get through.”

Then the Invincibles, curving a little to the right, were lost in the
flame and smoke, and the pursuit, Jackson continually urging it, swept
on. He seemed to Harry to be all fire. He shouted again and again. “We
must follow them to the Potomac! To the Potomac! To the Potomac!” He
sent his staff flying to every regimental commander with orders. He had
the horses cut from the artillery and men mounted on them to continue
the pursuit. He inquired continually for the cavalry. Harry, after
returning from his second errand with orders, was sent on a third to
Ashby. There was no time to write any letter. He was to tell him to come
up with cavalry and attack the Federal rear with all his might.

Harry found Ashby far away on the right, and with but fifty men. The
rest had been scattered. He galloped back to his general and reported.
He saw Jackson bite his lip in annoyance, but he said nothing.
Harry remained by his side and the chase went on through the fields.
Winchester was left out of sight behind, but the crashing of the rifles
and the shouts of the troopers did not cease.

The Northern army had not yet dissolved. Although many commands were
shattered and others destroyed, the core of it remained, and, as it
retreated, it never ceased to strike back. Harry saw why Jackson was
so anxious to bring up his cavalry. A strong charge by them and the
fighting half of the Northern force would be split asunder. Then nothing
would be left but to sweep up the fragments.

But Jackson’s men had reached the limit of human endurance. They were
not made of steel as their leader was, and the tremendous exultation of
spirit that had kept them up through battle and pursuit began to die.
Their strength, once its departure started, ebbed fast. Their knees
crumpled under them and the weakest fell unwounded in the fields. The
gaps between them and the Northern rear-guard widened, and gradually the
flying army of Banks disappeared among the hills and woods.

Banks, deeming himself lucky to have saved a part of his troops, did not
stop until he reached Martinsburg, twenty-two miles north of Winchester.
There he rested a while and resumed his flight, other flying detachments
joining him as he went. He reached the Potomac at midnight with less
than half of his army, and boats carried the wearied troops over the
broad river behind which they found refuge.

Most of the victors meanwhile lay asleep in the fields north of
Winchester, but others had gone back to the town and were making an
equitable division of the Northern stores among the different regiments.
Harry and Dalton were sent with those who went to the town. On their
way Harry saw St. Clair and Langdon lying under an apple tree, still and
white. He thought at first they were dead, but stopping a moment he saw
their chests rising and falling with regular motion, and he knew
that they were only sleeping. The whiteness of their faces was due to
exhaustion.

Feeling great relief he rode on and entered the exultant town. He marked
many of the places that he had known before, the manse where the good
minister lived, the churches and the colonnaded houses, in more than one
of which he had passed a pleasant hour.

Here Harry saw people that he knew. They could not do enough for him.
They wanted to overwhelm him with food, with clothes, with anything he
wanted. They wanted him to tell over and over again of that wonderful
march of theirs, how they had issued suddenly from the mountains in the
wake of the flying Milroy, how they had marched down the valley winning
battle after battle, marching and fighting without ceasing, both by day
and by night.

He was compelled to decline all offers of hospitality save food, which
he held in his hands and ate as he went about his work. When he finished
he went back to his general, and being told that he was wanted no more
for the night, wrapped himself in his cloak and lay down under an apple
tree.

He felt then that mother-earth was truly receiving him into her kindly
lap. He had not closed his eyes for nearly two days--it seemed a
month--and looking back at all through which he had passed it seemed
incredible. Human beings could not endure so much. They marched through
fire, where Stonewall Jackson led, and they never ceased to march. He
saw just beyond the apple tree a dusky figure walking up and down. It
was Jackson. Would he never rest? Was he not something rather more than
normal after all? Harry was very young and he rode with his hero, seeing
him do his mighty deeds.

But nature had given all that it had to yield, and soon he slept, lying
motionless and white like St. Clair and Langdon. But all through the
night the news of Jackson’s great blow was traveling over the wires. He
had struck other fierce blows, but this was the most terrible of them
all. Alarm spread through the whole North. Lincoln and his Cabinet saw a
great army of rebels marching on Washington. A New York newspaper which
had appeared in the morning with the headline, “Fall of Richmond,”
 appeared at night with the headline “Defeat of General Banks.”
 McDowell’s army, which, marching by land, was to co-operate with
McClellan in the taking of Richmond, was recalled to meet Jackson. The
governors of the loyal states issued urgent appeals for more troops.

Harry learned afterward how terribly effective had been the blow. The
whole Northern campaign had been upset by the meteoric appearance of
Jackson and the speed with which he marched and fought. McDowell’s army
of 40,000 men and a hundred guns had been scattered, and it would take
him much time to get it all together again. McClellan, advancing on
Richmond, was without the support on his right which McDowell was to
furnish and was compelled to hesitate.

But Jackson’s foot cavalry were soon to find that they were not to rest
on their brilliant exploits. As eager as ever, their general was making
them ready for another great advance further into the North.



CHAPTER XI. THE NIGHT RIDE


Harry was back with the general in a few hours, but now he was allowed a
little time for himself. It seemed to occur suddenly to Jackson that the
members of his staff, especially the more youthful ones, could not march
and fight more than two or three days without food and rest.

“You’ve done well, Harry,” he said--he was beginning to call the boy by
his first name.

The words of praise were brief, and they were spoken in a dry tone, but
they set Harry’s blood aflame. He had been praised by Stonewall Jackson,
the man who considered an ordinary human being’s best not more than
third rate. Harry, like all the others in the valley army, saw that
Jackson was setting a new standard in warfare.

Tremendously elated he started in search of his friends. He found the
Invincibles, that is, all who were left alive, stretched flat upon
their sides or backs in the orchard. It seemed to him that St. Clair
and Langdon had not moved a hair’s breadth since he had seen them there
before. But their faces were not so white now. Color was coming back.

He put the toe of his boot against Langdon’s side and shoved gently but
firmly. Langdon awoke and sat up indignantly.

“How dare you, Harry Kenton, disturb a gentleman who is occupied with
his much-needed slumbers?” he asked.

“General Jackson wants you.”

“Old Jack wants me! Now, what under the sun can he want with me?”

“He wants you to take some cavalry, gallop to Washington, go all around
the city, inspect all its earthworks and report back here by nightfall.”

“You’re making that up, Harry; but for God’s sake don’t make that
suggestion to Old Jack. He’d send me on that trip sure, and then have me
hanged as an example in front of the whole army, when I failed.”

“I won’t say anything about it.”

“You’re a bright boy, Harry, and you’re learning fast. But things could
be a lot worse. We could have been licked instead of licking the enemy.
I could be dead instead of lying here on the grass, tired but alive.
But, Harry, I’m growing old fast.”

“How old are you, Tom?”

“Last week I was nineteen, to-day I’m ninety-nine, and if this sort of
thing keeps up I’ll be a hundred and ninety-nine next week.”

St. Clair also awoke and sat up. In some miraculous manner he had
restored his uniform to order and he was as neat and precise as usual.

“You two talk too much,” he said. “I was in the middle of a beautiful
dream, when I heard you chattering away.”

“What was your dream, Arthur?” asked Harry.

“I was in St. Andrew’s Hall in Charleston, dancing with the most
beautiful girl you ever saw. I don’t know who she was, I didn’t identify
her in my dream. There were lots of other beautiful girls there dancing
with fellows like myself, and the roses were everywhere, and the music
rose and fell like the song of angels, and I was so happy and--I
awoke to find myself here on a hillside with a ragged army that’s been
marching and fighting for days and weeks, and which, for all I know,
will keep it up for years and years longer.”

“I’ve a piece of advice for you, Arthur,” said Langdon.

“What is it?”

“Quit dreaming. It’s a bad habit, especially when you’re in war. The
dream is sure to be better than the real thing. You won’t be dancing
again in Charleston for a long time, nor will I. All those beautiful
girls you were dreaming about but couldn’t name will be without partners
until we’re a lot older than we are now.”

Langdon spoke with a seriousness very uncommon in him, and lay back
again on the ground, where he began to chew a grass stem meditatively.

“Go back to sleep, boys, you’ll need it,” said Harry lightly. “Our next
march is to be a thousand miles, and we’re to have a battle at every
milestone.”

“You mean that as a joke, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it came
true,” said Langdon, as he closed his eyes again.

Harry went on and found the two colonels sitting in the shadow of a
stone fence. One of them had his arm in a sling, but he assured Harry
the wound was slight. They gave him a glad and paternal welcome.

“In the kind of campaign we’re waging,” said Colonel Leonidas Talbot, “I
assume that anybody is dead until I see him alive. Am I not right, eh,
Hector?”

“Assuredly you’re right, Leonidas,” replied Lieutenant-Colonel Hector
St. Hilaire. “Our young men don’t get frightened because they don’t have
time to think about it. Before we can get excited over the battle in
which we are engaged we’ve begun the next one. It is also a matter
of personal pride to me that one of the best bodies of troops in the
service of General Jackson is of French descent like myself.”

“The Acadians, colonel,” said Harry. “Grand troops they are.”

“It is the French fighting blood,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St.
Hilaire, with a little trace of the grandiloquent in his tone. “Slurs
have been cast at the race from which I sprang since the rout and flight
at Waterloo, but how undeserved they are! The French have burned more
gunpowder and have won more great battles without the help of allies
than any other nation in Europe. And their descendants in North America
have shown their valor all the way from Quebec to New Orleans, although
we are widely separated now, and scarcely know the speech of one
another.”

“It’s true, Hector,” said Colonel Leonidas Talbot. “I think I’ve heard
you say as much before, but it will bear repeating. Do you think,
Hector, that you happen to have about you a cigarette that has survived
the campaign?”

“Several of them, Leonidas. Here, help yourself. Harry, I would offer
one to you, but I do not recommend the cigarette to the young. You don’t
smoke! So much the better. It’s a bad habit, permissible only to the
old. Leonidas, do you happen to have a match?”

“Yes, Hector, I made sure about that before I asked you for the
cigarettes. Be careful when you light it. There is only one match for
the cigarettes of both.”

“I’ll bring you a coal from one of the campfires,” said Harry, springing
up.

But Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire waved him down courteously,
though rather reprovingly.

“You would never fire a cannon shot to kill a butterfly,” he said, “and
neither will I ever light a delicate cigarette with a huge, shapeless
coal from a campfire. It would be an insult to the cigarette, and after
such an outrage I could never draw a particle of flavor from it. No,
Harry, we thank you, you mean well, but we can do it better.”

Harry sat down again. The two colonels, who had been through days of
continuous marching and fighting, knelt in the lee of the fence, and
Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire also shaded the operation with
his hat as an additional protection. Colonel Leonidas Talbot carefully
struck the match. The flame sputtered up and his friend brought his hat
closer to protect it. Then both lighted their cigarettes, settled back
against the fence, and a deep peace appeared upon their two faces.

“Hector,” said Colonel Talbot, “only we old soldiers know how little it
takes to make a man happy.”

“You speak truly, Leonidas. In the last analysis it’s a mere matter of
food, clothes and shelter, with perhaps a cigarette or two. In Mexico,
when we advanced from Vera Cruz to the capital, it was often very cold
on the mountains. I can remember coming in from some battle, aching with
weariness and cold, but after I had eaten good food and basked half
an hour before a fire I would feel as if I owned the earth. Physical
comfort, carried to the very highest degree, produces mental comfort
also.”

“Sound words, Hector. The starved, the cold and the shelterless can
never be happy. God knows that I am no advocate of war, although it is
my trade. It is a terrible thing for people to kill one another, but it
does grind you down to the essentials. Because it is war you and I have
an acute sense of luxury, lying here against a stone fence, smoking a
couple of cigarettes.”

“That is, Leonidas, we are happy when we have attained what we have
needed a long time, and which we have been a long time without. It has
occurred to me that the cave-man, in all his primitive nakedness, must
have had some thrilling moments, moments of pleasures of the body, the
mind and the imagination allied, which we modern beings cannot feel.”

“To what moments do you allude, Hector?”

“Suppose that he has just eluded a monstrous saber-toothed tiger, and
has slipped into his cave by the opening, entirely too small for any
great beast of prey. He is in his home. A warm fire is burning on a
flat stone. His wife--beautiful to him--is cooking savory meats for
him. Around the walls are his arms and their supplies. They eat placidly
while the huge tiger from which he has escaped by a foot or less roars
and glowers without. The contrast between the danger and that house,
which is the equivalent to a modern palace, comes home to him with a
thrill more keen and penetrating than anything we can ever feel.

“The man and his wife eat their evening meal, and retire to their bed
of dry leaves in the corner. They fall asleep while the frenzied and
ferocious tiger is still snarling and growling. They know he cannot get
at them, and his gnashings and roarings are merely a lullaby, soothing
them to the sweetest of slumbers. You could not duplicate that in the
age in which we live, Leonidas.”

“No, Hector, we couldn’t. But, as for me, I can spare such thrills. It
seems to me that we have plenty of danger of our own just now. I must
say, however, that you put these matters in a fine, poetic way. Have you
ever written verses, Hector?”

“A few, but never for print, Leonidas. I am happy to think that a
few sonnets and triolets of mine are cherished by middle-aged but yet
handsome women of Charleston that we both know.”

Harry left them still talking in rounded sentences and always in perfect
agreement. He thought theirs a beautiful friendship, and he hoped that
he should have friendships like it, when he was as old as they.

But he and all the other prophets were right. The restless Jackson soon
took up the northward march again. He was drawing farther and farther
away from McClellan and the Southern army before Richmond, and the great
storm that was gathering there. The army of Banks was not yet wholly
destroyed, and there were other Northern and undestroyed armies in the
valley. His task there was not yet finished. Jackson pushed on toward
Harper’s Ferry on the Potomac. He was now, though to the westward,
further north than Washington itself, and with other armies in his
rear he was taking daring risks. But as usual, he kept his counsels to
himself. All was hidden under that battered cap to become later an old
slouch hat, and the men who followed him were content to go wherever he
led.

The old Stonewall Brigade was in the van and Jackson and his staff were
with it. The foot cavalry refreshed by a good rest were marching again
at a great rate.

Harry was detached shortly after the start, and was sent to General
Winder with orders for him to hurry forward with the fine troops under
his command. Before he could leave Winder he ran into a strong Northern
force at Charleston, and the Southern division attacked at once with all
the dash and vigor that Jackson had imparted to his men. They had, too,
the confidence bred by continuous victory, while the men in blue were
depressed by unbroken defeats.

The Northern force was routed in fifteen or twenty minutes and fled
toward the river, leaving behind it all its baggage and stores. Harry
carried the news to Jackson and saw the general press his thin lips
together more closely than ever. He knew that the hope of destroying
Banks utterly was once more strong in the breast of their leader. The
members of the staff were all sent flying again with messages to the
regiments to hurry.

The whole army swung forward at increased pace. Jackson did not know
what new troops had come for Banks, but soon he saw the heights south of
Harper’s Ferry, and the same glance told him that they were crowded with
soldiers. General Saxton with seven thousand men and eighteen guns had
undertaken to hold the place against his formidable opponent.

General Jackson held a brief council, and, when it was over, summoned
Harry and Dalton to him.

“You are both well mounted and have had experience,” he said. “You
understand that the army before us is not by any means the only one
that the Yankees have. Shields, Ord and Fremont are all leading armies
against us. We can defeat Saxton’s force, but we must not be caught in
any trap. Say not a word of this to anybody, but ride in the direction
I’m pointing and see if you can find the army of Shields. Other scouts
are riding east and west, but you must do your best, nevertheless.
Perhaps both of you will not come back, but one of you must. Take food
in your saddle bags and don’t neglect your arms.”

He turned instantly to give orders to others and Harry and Dalton
mounted and rode, proud of their trust, and resolved to fulfill it.
Evening was coming as they left the army, and disappeared among the
woods. They had only the vague direction given by Jackson, derived
probably from reports, brought in by other scouts, but it was their
mission to secure definite and exact information.

“You know this country, George, don’t you?” asked Harry.

“I’ve ridden over all of it. They say that Shields with a large part of
McDowell’s army is approaching the valley through Manassas Gap. It’s a
long ride from here, Harry, but I think we’d better make for it. This
horse of mine is one of the best ever bred in the valley. He could carry
me a hundred miles by noon to-morrow.”

“Mine’s not exactly a plough horse,” said Harry, as he stroked the mane
of his own splendid bay, one especially detailed for him on this errand.
“If yours can go a hundred miles by noon to-morrow so can mine.”

“Suppose, then, we go a little faster.”

“Suits me.”

The riders spoke a word or two. The two grand horses stretched out their
necks, and they sped away southward. For a while they rode over the
road by which they had come. It was yet early twilight and they saw many
marks of their passage, a broken-down wagon, a dead horse, an exploded
caisson, and now and then something from which they quickly turned away
their eyes.

Dalton knew the roads well, and at nightfall they bore in toward the
right. They had already come a long distance, and in the darkness they
went more slowly.

“I think there’s a farmhouse not much further on,” said Dalton, “and
we’ll ask there for information. It’s safe to do so because all the
people through here are on our side. There, you can see the house now.”

The moonlight disclosed a farmhouse, surrounded by a lawn that was
well sprinkled with big trees, but as they approached Harry and Dalton
simultaneously reined their horses back into the wood. They had seen a
dozen troopers on the lawn, and the light was good enough to show that
their uniforms were or had been blue. A woman was standing in the open
door of the house, and one of the men, who seemed to be the leader, was
talking to her.

“Yankee scouts,” whispered Harry.

“Undoubtedly. The Yankee generals are waking up--Jackson has made ‘em do
it, but I didn’t expect to find their scouts so far in the valley.”

“Nor I. Suppose we wait here, George, until they leave.”

“It’s the thing to do.”

They rode a little further into the woods where they were safe from
observation, and yet could watch what was passing at the house. But
they did not have to wait long. The troopers evidently got little
satisfaction from the woman to whom they were talking and turned their
horses. Harry saw her disappear inside, and he fairly heard the door
slam when it closed. The men galloped southward down the road.

Harry heard a chuckle beside him and he turned in astonishment.

“I’m laughing,” said Dalton, “because I’ve got a right to laugh. Here in
the valley we are all kin to one another just as you people in Kentucky
are all related. The woman who stood in the doorway is Cousin Eliza
Pomeroy. She’s about my seventh cousin, but she’s my cousin just the
same, and if we could have heard it we would have enjoyed what she was
saying to those Yankees.”

“Oughtn’t we to stop also and get news, if we can?”

“Of course. We must have a talk with Cousin Eliza.”

They emerged from the woods, opened the gate and rode upon the lawn. Not
a ray of light came from the house anywhere. Every door and shutter was
fast.

“Knock on the door with the hilt of your sword, Harry,” said Dalton. “It
will bring Cousin Eliza. She can’t have gone to sleep yet.”

Harry dismounted and holding the reins of his horse over his arm,
knocked loudly. There was no reply.

“Beat harder, Harry. She’s sure to hear.”

Harry beat upon that door until he bruised the hilt of his sword. At
last it was thrown open violently, and a powerful woman of middle years
appeared.

“I thought you Yankees had gone forever!” she exclaimed. “You’d better
hurry or Stonewall Jackson will get you before morning!”

“We’re not Yankees, ma’am,” said Harry, politely. “We’re Southerners,
Stonewall Jackson’s own men, scouts from his army, here looking for news
of the enemy.”

“A fine tale, young man. You’re trying to fool me with your gray
uniform. Stonewall Jackson’s men are fifteen miles north of here,
chasing the Yankees by thousands into the Potomac. They say he does it
just as well by night as by day, and that he never sleeps or rests.”

“What my comrade tells you is true. Good evening, Cousin Eliza!” said a
gentle voice beyond Harry.

The woman started and then stepped out of the door. Dalton rode forward
a little where the full moonlight fell upon him.

“You remember that summer six years ago when you spanked me for stealing
the big yellow apples in the orchard.”

“George! Little George Dalton!” she cried, and as Dalton got off his
horse she enclosed him in a powerful embrace, although he was little no
longer.

“And have you come from Stonewall Jackson?” she asked breathless with
eagerness.

“Straight from him. I’m on his staff and so is my friend here. This is
Harry Kenton of Kentucky, Mrs. Pomeroy, and he’s been through all
the battles with us. We were watching from the woods and we saw those
Yankees at your door. They didn’t get any information, I know that, but
I’m thinking that we will.”

Cousin Eliza Pomeroy laughed a low, deep laugh of pride and
satisfaction.

“Come into the house,” she exclaimed. “I’m here with four children. Jim,
my husband, is with Johnston’s army before Richmond, but we’ve been able
to take care of ourselves thus far, and I reckon we’ll keep on being
able. I can get hot coffee and good corn cakes ready for you inside of
fifteen minutes.”

“It’s not food we want, Cousin Eliza,” said Dalton. “We want something
far better, what those Yankees came for--news. So I think we’d better
stay outside and run no risk of surprise. The Yankees might come back.”

“That’s so. You’ll grow up into a man with a heap of sense, George.
I’ve got real news, and I was waiting for a chance to send it through to
Stonewall Jackson. Billy! Billy!”

A small boy, not more than twelve, but clothed fully, darted from the
inside of the house. He was well set up for his age, and his face was
keen and eager.

“This is Billy Pomeroy, my oldest son,” said Cousin Eliza Pomeroy, with
a swelling of maternal pride. “I made him get in bed and cover himself
up, boots and all, when the Yankees came. Billy has been riding to-day.
He ain’t very old, and he ain’t very big, but put him on a horse and
he’s mighty nigh a man.”

The small, eager face was shining.

“What did you see, Billy, when you rode so far?” asked Dalton.

“Yankees! Yankees, Cousin George, and lots of ‘em, toward Manassas Gap!
I saw some of their cavalry this side of the Gap, and I heard at the
store that there was a big army on the other side, marching hard to come
through it, and get in behind our Stonewall.”

Harry looked at Dalton.

“That confirms the rumors we heard,” he said.

“You can believe anything that Billy tells you,” said Mrs. Pomeroy.

“I know it,” said Dalton, “but we’ve got to go on and see these men for
ourselves. Stonewall Jackson is a terrible man, Cousin Eliza. If we tell
him that the Yankees are coming through Manassas Gap and closing in on
his rear, he’ll ask us how we know it, and when we reply that a boy told
us he’ll break us as unfit to be on his staff.”

“And I reckon Stonewall Jackson will be about right!” said Cousin Eliza
Pomeroy, who was evidently a woman of strong mind. “Billy, you lead
these boys straight to Manassas Gap.”

“Oh, no, Cousin Eliza!” exclaimed Dalton. “Billy’s been riding hard all
day, and we can find the way.”

“What do you think Billy’s made out of?” asked his mother
contemptuously. “Ain’t he a valley boy? Ain’t he Jim Pomeroy’s son and
mine? I want you to understand that Billy can ride anything, and he can
ride it all day long and all night long, too!”

“Make ‘em let me go, ma!” exclaimed Billy, eagerly. “I can save time. I
can show ‘em the shortest way!”

Harry and George glanced at each other. Young Billy Pomeroy might be
of great value to them. Moreover, the choice was already made for them,
because Billy was now running to the stable for his horse.

“He goes with us, or rather he leads us, Cousin Eliza,” said Dalton.

Billy appeared the next instant, with his horse saddled and bridled, and
his own proud young self in the saddle.

“Billy, take ‘em straight,” said his Spartan mother, as she drew him
down in the saddle and kissed him, and Billy, more swollen with pride
than ever, promised that he would. But the mother’s voice broke a little
when she said to Dalton:

“He’s to guide you wherever you want to go, but you must bring him back
to me unhurt.”

“We will, Cousin Eliza,” said Dalton earnestly.

Then they galloped away in the dark with Billy leading and riding like a
Comanche. He had taken a fresh horse from the stall and it was almost as
powerful as those ridden by Harry and Dalton.

“See the mountains,” said Billy, pointing eastward to a long dark line
dimly visible in the moonlight. “That’s the Blue Ridge, and further
south is the Gap, but you can’t see it at night until you come right
close to it.”

“Do you know any path through the woods, Billy?” asked Harry. “We don’t
want to run the risk of capture.”

“I was just about to lead you into it,” replied the boy, still rejoicing
in the importance of his role. “Here it is.”

He turned off from the road into a path leading into thick forest,
wide enough for only one horse at a time. Billy, of course, led, Harry
followed, and Dalton brought up the rear. The path, evidently a short
cut used by farmers, was enclosed by great oaks, beeches and elms, now
in full leaf, and it was dark there. Only a slit of moonlight showed
from above, and the figures of the three riders grew shadowy.

“They’ll never find us here, will they, Billy?” said Harry.

“Not one chance in a thousand. Them Yankees don’t know a thing about
the country. Anyway, if they should come into the path at the other end,
we’d hear them long before they heard us.”

“You’re right, Billy, and as we ride on we’ll all three listen with six
good ears.”

“Yes, sir,” said Billy.

Harry, although only a boy himself, was so much older than Billy, who
addressed him as “sir,” that he felt himself quite a veteran.

“Billy,” he said, “how did it happen that you were riding down this way,
so far from home, to-day?”

“‘Cause we heard there was Yanks in the Gap. Ma won’t let me go an’
fight with Stonewall Jackson. She says I ain’t old enough an’ big
enough, but she told me herself to get on the horse an’ ride down this
way, an’ see if what we heard was true. I saw ‘em in little bunches, an’
then that gang come to our house to-night, less ‘n ten minutes after I
come back. We’ll be at a creek, sir, in less than five minutes. It runs
down from the mountains, an’ it’s pretty deep with all them big spring
rains. I guess we’ll have to swim, sir. We could go lower down, where
there’s always a ford, but that’s where the Yankees would be crossing.”

“We’ll swim, if necessary, Billy.”

“When even the women and little children fight for us, the South will
be hard to conquer,” was Harry’s thought, but he said no more until they
reached the creek, which was indeed swollen by the heavy rains, and was
running swiftly, a full ten feet in depth.

“Hold on, Billy, I’ll lead the way,” said Harry.

But Billy was already in the stream, his short legs drawn up, and his
horse swimming strongly. Harry and Dalton followed without a word, and
the three emerged safely on the eastern side.

“You’re a brave swimmer, Billy,” said Harry admiringly.

“‘Tain’t nothin, sir. I didn’t swim. It was my horse. I guess he’d take
me across the Mississippi itself. I wouldn’t have anything to do but
stick on his back. Look up, sir, an’ you can see the mountains close
by.”

Harry and Dalton looked up through the rift in the trees, and saw almost
over them the lofty outline of the Blue Ridge, the eastern rampart of
the valley, heavy with forest from base to top.

“We must be near the Gap,” said Dalton.

“We are,” said Billy. “We’ve been coming fast. It’s nigh on to fifteen
miles from here to home.”

“And must be a full thirty to Harper’s Ferry,” said Dalton.

“Does this path lead to some point overlooking the Gap,” asked Harry,
“where we can see the enemy if he’s there, and he can’t see us?”

“Yes, sir. We can ride on a slope not more than two miles from here and
look right down into the Gap.”

“And if troops are there we’ll be sure to see their fires,” said Dalton.
“Lead on, Billy.”

Billy led with boldness and certainty. It was the greatest night of his
life, and he meant to fulfill to the utmost what he deemed to be his
duty. The narrow path still wound among mighty trees, the branches of
which met now and then over their heads, shutting out the moonlight
entirely. It led at this point toward the north and they were rapidly
ascending a shoulder of the mountain, leaving the Gap on their right.

Harry, riding on such an errand, felt to the full the weird quality
of mountains and forest, over which darkness and silence brooded. The
foliage was very heavy, and it rustled now and then as the stray winds
wandered along the slopes of the Blue Ridge. But for that and the
hoofbeats of their own horses, there was no sound save once, when they
heard a scuttling on the bark of a tree. They saw nothing, but Billy
pronounced it a wildcat, alarmed by their passage.

The three at length came out on a level place or tiny plateau. Billy,
who rode in advance, stopped and the others stopped with him.

“Look,” said the boy, pointing to the bottom of the valley, about five
hundred feet below.

A fire burned there and they could discern men around it, with horses in
the background.

“Yankees,” said Billy. “Look at ‘em through the glasses.”

Harry raised his glasses and took a long look. They had the full
moonlight where they stood and the fire in the valley below was also a
help. He saw that the camp was made by a strong cavalry force. Many of
them were asleep in their blankets, but the others sat by the fire and
seemed to be talking.

Then he passed the glasses to Dalton, who also, after looking long and
well, passed them to Billy, as a right belonging to one who had been
their real leader, and who shared equally with them their hardships and
dangers.

“How large would you say that force is, George?” asked Harry.

“Three or four hundred men at least. There’s a great bunch of horses. I
should judge, too, from the careless way they’ve camped, that they’ve no
fear of being attacked. How many do you think they are, Billy?”

“Just about what you said, Cousin George. Are you going to attack them?”

Harry and Dalton laughed.

“No, Billy,” replied Dalton. “You see we’re only three, and there must
be at least three hundred down there.”

“But we’ve been hearin’ that Stonewall Jackson’s men never mind a
hundred to one,” said Billy, in an aggrieved tone. “We hear that’s just
about what they like.”

“No, Billy, my boy. We don’t fight a hundred to one. Nobody does, unless
it’s like Thermopylae and the Alamo.”

“Then what are we going to do?” continued Billy in his disappointed
tone.

“I think, Billy, that Harry and I are going to dismount, slip down
the mountainside, see what we can see, hear what we can hear, and that
you’ll stay here, holding and guarding the horses until we come back.”

“I won’t!” exclaimed Billy in violent indignation. “I won’t, Cousin
George. I’m going down the mountain with you an’ Mr. Kenton.”

“Now, Billy,” said Dalton soothingly, “you’ve got a most important job
here. You’re the reserve, and you also hold the means of flight. Suppose
we’re pursued hotly, we couldn’t get away without the horses that you’ll
hold for us. Suppose we should be taken. Then it’s for you to gallop
back with the news that Shields’ whole army will be in the pass in the
morning, and under such circumstances, your mother would send you on to
General Jackson with a message of such immense importance.”

“That’s so,” said Billy with conviction, in the face of so much
eloquence and logic, “but I don’t want you fellows to be captured.”

Dalton and Harry dismounting, gave the reins of their horses into the
hands of Billy, and the small fingers clutched them tightly.

“Stay exactly where you are, Billy,” said Harry. “We want to find you
without trouble when we come back.”

“I’ll be here,” said Billy proudly.

Harry and Dalton began the descent through the bushes and trees. They
had not the slightest doubt that this was the vanguard of the Northern
army which they heard was ten thousand strong, and that this force was
merely a vanguard for McDowell, who had nearly forty thousand men. But
they knew too well to go back to Stonewall Jackson with mere surmise,
however plausible.

“We’ve got to find out some way or other whether their army is certainly
at hand,” whispered Dalton.

Harry nodded, and said:

“We must manage to overhear some of their talk, though it’s risky
business.”

“But that’s what we’re here for. They don’t seem to be very watchful,
and as the woods and bushes are thick about ‘em we may get a chance.”

They continued their slow and careful descent. Harry glanced back once
through an opening in the bushes and saw little Billy, holding the reins
of the three horses and gazing intently after them. He knew that among
all the soldiers of Jackson’s army, no matter how full of valor and zeal
they might be, there was not one who surpassed Billy in eagerness to
serve.

They reached the bottom of the slope, and lay for a few minutes hidden
among dense bushes. Both had been familiar with country life, they had
hunted the ‘possum and the coon many a dark night, and now their forest
lore stood them in good stead. They made no sound as they passed among
the bushes and trailing vines, and they knew that they were quite secure
in their covert, although they lay within a hundred yards of one of the
fires.

Harry judged that most of the men whom they saw were city bred. It was
an advantage that the South had over the North in a mighty war, waged in
a country covered then mostly with forest and cut by innumerable rivers
and creeks, that her sons were familiar with such conditions, while many
of those of the North, used to life in the cities, were at a loss, when
the great campaigns took them into the wilderness.

Both he and Dalton, relying upon this knowledge, crept a little closer,
but they stopped and lay very close, when they saw a man advancing to a
hillock, carrying under his arm a bundle which they took to be rockets.

“Signals,” whispered Dalton. “You just watch, Harry, and you’ll see ‘em
answered from the eastward.”

The officer on the summit of the hillock sent up three rockets, which
curved beautifully against the blue heavens, then sank and died. Far to
the eastward they saw three similar lights flame and die.

“How far away would you say those answering rockets were?” whispered
Harry.

“It’s hard to say about distances in the moonlight, but they may be
three or four miles. I take it, Harry, that they are sent up by the
Northern main force.”

“So do I, but we’ve got to get actual evidence in words, or we’ve got
to see this army. I’m afraid to go back to General Jackson with anything
less. Now, we won’t have time to go through the Gap, see the army and
get back to the general before things begin to happen, so we’ve got to
stick it out here, until we get what we want.”

“True words, Harry, and we must risk going a little nearer. See that
line of bushes running along there in the dark? It will cover us, and
we’re bound to take the chance. We must agree, too, Harry, that if we’re
discovered, neither must stop in an attempt to save the other. If one
reaches Jackson it will be all right.”

“Of course, George. We’ll run for it with all our might, and if it’s
only one it’s to be the better runner.”

They lay almost flat on their stomachs, and passing through the
grass, reached the line of bushes. Here they could rise from such an
uncomfortable position, and stooping they came within fifty yards of the
first fire, where they saw very clearly the men who were not asleep,
and who yet moved about. Most of them were not yet sunburned, and Harry
judged at once that they had come from the mills and workshops of New
York or New England. As far as he could see they had no pickets, and he
inferred their belief that no enemy was nearer than Jackson’s army, at
least thirty miles away. Perhaps the little band of horsemen who had
knocked at Mrs. Pomeroy’s door had brought them the information.

They lay there nearly an hour, not thinking of the danger, but consumed
with impatience. Officers passed near them talking, but they could catch
only scraps, not enough for their purpose. A set of signals was sent up
again and was answered duly from the same point to the east of the Gap.
But after long waiting, they were rewarded. Few of the officers or men
ever went far from the fires. They seemed to be at a loss in the dark
and silent wilderness which was absolute confirmation to Harry that they
were city dwellers.

Two officers, captains or majors, stopped within twenty feet of the
crouching scouts, and gazed for a long time through the Gap toward the
west into the valley, at the northern end of which Jackson and his army
lay.

“I tell you, Curtis,” one of them said at last, “that if we get through
the Gap to-morrow and Fremont and the others also come up, Jackson can’t
possibly get away. We’ll have him and his whole force in a trap and with
three or four to one in our favor, it will be all over.”

“It’s true, if it comes out as you say, Penfield,” said the other, “but
there are several ‘ifs,’ and as we have reason to know, it’s hard to put
your hand on Jackson. Why, when we thought he was lost in the mountains
he came out of them like an avalanche, and some of our best troops were
buried under that avalanche.”

“You’re too much of a pessimist, Curtis. We’ve learned a lot in the last
few days. As sure as you and I stand here the fox will be trapped. Why,
he’s trapped already. We’ll be through the Gap here with ten thousand
men in the morning, squarely in Jackson’s rear. To-morrow we’ll have
fifty or sixty thousand good troops between him and Richmond and
Johnston. His army will be taken or destroyed, and the Confederacy will
be split asunder. McClellan will be in Richmond with an overwhelming
force, and within a month the war will be practically over.”

“There’s no doubt of that, if we catch Jackson, and it certainly looks
as if the trap were closing down upon him. In defeating Banks and then
following him to the Potomac he has ruined himself and his cause.”

Harry felt a deadly fear gripping at his heart. What these men were
saying was probably true. Every fact supported their claim. The tough
and enduring North, ready to sustain any number of defeats and yet win,
was pouring forward her troops with a devotion that would have wrung
tears from a stone. And she was destined to do it again and again
through dark and weary years.

The two men walked further away, still talking, but Harry and Dalton
could no longer hear what they were saying. The rockets soared again
in the pass, and were answered in the east, but now nearer, and the two
knew that it was not worth while to linger any longer. They knew the
vital fact that ten thousand men were advancing through the pass, and
that all the rest was superfluity. And time had a value beyond price to
their cause.



CHAPTER XII. THE CLOSING CIRCLE


“George,” said Harry, “we must chance it now and get back to the horses.
We’ve got to reach General Jackson before the Northern army is through
the pass.”

“You lead,” said Dalton. “I don’t think we’ll have any danger except
when we are in that strip of grass between these bushes and the woods.”

Harry started, and when he reached the grass threw himself almost flat
on his face again, crawling forward with extreme caution. Dalton, close
behind him, imitated his comrade. The high grass merely rippled as they
passed and the anxious Northern officers walking back and forth were not
well enough versed in woodcraft to read from any sign that an enemy was
near.

Once Dalton struck his knee against a small bush and caused its leaves
to rustle. A wary and experienced scout would have noticed the slight,
though new noise, and Harry and Dalton, stopping, lay perfectly still.
But the officers walked to and fro, undisturbed, and the two boys
resumed their creeping flight.

When they reached the forest, they rose gladly from their knees, and ran
up the slope, still bearing in mind that time was now the most pressing
of all things. They whistled softly as they neared the little plateau,
and Billy’s low answering whistle came back. They hurried up the last
reach of the slope, and there he was, the eyes shining in his eager
face, the three bridles clutched tightly in his small right hand.

“Did you get what you wanted?” he asked in a whisper.

“We did, Billy,” answered Harry.

“I saw ‘em sendin’ up shootin’ stars an’ other shootin’ stars way off to
the east answerin’, an’ I didn’t know what it meant.”

“It was their vanguard in the Gap, talking to their army several miles
to the eastward. But we lay in the bushes, Billy, and we heard what
their officers said. All that you heard was true. Ten thousand Yankees
will be through the pass in the morning, and Stonewall Jackson will have
great cause to be grateful to William Pomeroy, aged twelve.”

The boy’s eyes fairly glowed, but he was a man of action.

“Then I guess that we’ve got to jump on our horses and ride lickety
split down the valley to give warnin’ to General Jackson,” he said.

Harry knew what was passing in the boy’s mind, that he would go with
them all the way to Jackson, and he did not have the heart to say
anything to the contrary just then. But Dalton replied:

“Right you are, Billy. We ride now as if the woods were burning behind
us.”

Billy was first in the saddle and led the way. The horses had gained
a good rest, while Harry and Dalton were stalking the troopers in the
valley, and, after they had made the descent of the slope, they swung
into a long easy gallop across the level.

The little lad still kept his place in front. Neither of the others
would have deprived him of this honor which he deserved so well. He sat
erect, swinging with his horse, and he showed no sign of weariness. They
took no precautions now to evade a possible meeting with the enemy. What
they needed was haste, haste, always haste. They must risk everything
to carry the news to Jackson. A mere half hour might mean the difference
between salvation and destruction.

Harry felt the great tension of the moment. The words of the Northern
officers had made him understand what he already suspected. The whole
fate of the Confederacy would waver in the balance on the morrow. If
Jackson were surrounded and overpowered, the South would lose its right
arm. Then the armies that engulfed him would join McClellan and pour
forward in an overwhelming host on Richmond.

Their hoofbeats rang in a steady beat on the road, as they went forward
on that long easy gallop which made the miles drop swiftly behind them.
The skies brightened, and the great stars danced in a solid sheet of
blue. They were in the gently rolling country, and occasionally they
passed a farmhouse. Now and then, a watchful dog barked at them, but
they soon left him and his bark behind.

Harry noticed that Billy’s figure was beginning to waver slightly, and
he knew that weariness and the lack of sleep were at last gaining the
mastery over his daring young spirit. It gave him relief, as it solved a
problem that had been worrying him. He rode up by the side of Billy, but
he said nothing. The boy’s eyelids were heavy and the youthful figure
was wavering, but it was in no danger of falling. Billy could have
ridden his horse sound asleep.

Harry presently saw the roof of Mrs. Pomeroy’s house showing among the
trees.

“It’s less than half a mile to your house, Billy,” he said.

“But I’m not going to stop there. I’m goin’ on with you to General
Jackson, an’ I’m goin’ to help him fight the Yankees.”

Harry was silent, but when they galloped up to the Pomeroy house, Billy
was nearly asleep.

The door sprang open as they approached, and the figure of the stalwart
woman appeared. Harry knew that she had been watching there every minute
since they left. He was touched by the dramatic spirit of the moment,
and he said:

“Mrs. Pomeroy, we bring back to you the most gallant soldier in
Stonewall Jackson’s army of the Valley of Virginia. He led us straight
to the Gap where we were able to learn the enemy’s movements, a
knowledge which may save the Confederacy from speedy destruction. We
bring him back to you, safe and unharmed, and sleeping soundly in his
saddle.”

He lifted Billy from the saddle and put him in his mother’s arms.

“Billy’s a hero, Cousin Eliza,” said Dalton. “Few full-grown men have
done as important deeds in their whole lives as he has done to-night.
When he awakens he’ll be angry because he didn’t go with us, but you
tell him we’ll see that he’s a duly enrolled member of General Jackson’s
army. Stonewall Jackson never forgets such deeds as his.”

“It’s a proud woman I am to-night,” said Mrs. Pomeroy. “Good-bye, Cousin
George, and you, too, Mr. Kenton. I can see that you’re in a hurry to be
off, and you ought to be. I want to see both of you in my house again in
better days.”

She went inside, carrying the exhausted and sleeping boy in her arms,
and Harry and Dalton galloped away side by side.

“How’s your horse, Harry?” asked Dalton.

“Fine. Smooth as silk! How’s yours?”

“The machinery moves without a jar. I may be stiff and sore myself, but
I’m so anxious to get to General Jackson that I haven’t time to think
about it.”

“Same here. Suppose we speed ‘em up a little more.”

They came into the turnpike, and now the horses lengthened out their
stride as they fled northward. It was yet some time until dawn, but the
two young riders took the cold food from their knapsacks and ate as they
galloped on. It was well that they had good horses, staunch and true, as
they were pushing them hard now.

Harry looked toward the west, where the dark slope of Little North
Mountain closed in the valley from that side, and he felt a shiver
which he knew did not come from the night air. He knew that a powerful
Northern force was off there somewhere, and he wondered what it was
doing. But he and Dalton had done their duty. They had uncovered one
hostile force, and doubtless other men who rode in the night for Jackson
would attend to the rest.

Both Harry and Dalton had been continuously in the saddle for many hours
now, but they did not notice their weariness. They were still upborne
by a great anxiety and a great exaltation, too. Feeling to the full
the imminence and immensity of the crisis, they were bending themselves
heart and soul to prevent it, and no thought of weariness could enter
their minds. Each was another Billy, only on a larger and older scale.

Later on, the moon and all the stars slipped away, and it became very
dark. Harry felt that it was merely a preliminary to the dawn, and he
asked Dalton if he did not think so, too.

“It’s too dark for me to see the face of my watch,” said Dalton, “but I
know you’re right, Harry. I can just feel the coming of the dawn. It’s
some quality in the air. I think it grows a little colder than it has
been in the other hours of the night.”

“I can feel the wind freshening on my face. It nips a bit for a May
morning.”

They slackened speed a little, wishing to save their horses for a final
burst, and stopped once or twice for a second or two to listen for the
sound of other hoofbeats than their own. But they heard none.

“If the Yankee armies are already on the turnpike they’re not near us.
That’s sure,” said Dalton.

“Do you know how many men they have?”

“Some of the spies brought in what the general believed to be pretty
straight reports. The rumors said that Shields was advancing to Manassas
Gap with ten thousand men, and from what we heard we know that is true.
A second detachment, also ten thousand strong, from McDowell’s army is
coming toward Front Royal, and McDowell has twenty thousand men east
of the Blue Ridge. What the forces to the west are I don’t know but the
enemy in face of the general himself on the Potomac must now number at
least ten thousand.”

Harry whistled.

“And at the best we can’t muster more than fifteen thousand fit to carry
arms!” he exclaimed.

Dalton leaned over in the dark, and touched his comrade on the shoulder.

“Harry,” he said, “don’t forget Old Jack. Where Little Sorrel leads
there is always an army of forty thousand men. I’m not setting myself up
to be very religious, but it’s safe to say that he was praying to-night,
and when Old Jack prays, look out.”

“Yes, if anybody can lead us out of this trap it will be Old Jack,” said
Harry. “Look, there’s the dawn coming over the Blue Ridge, George.”

A faint tint of gray was appearing on the loftiest crests of the Blue
Ridge. It could scarcely be called light yet, but it was a sign to the
two that the darkness there would soon melt away. Gradually the gray
shredded off and then the ridges were tipped with silver which soon
turned to gold. Dawn rushed down over the valley and the pleasant
forests and fields sprang into light.

Then they heard hoofbeats behind them coming fast. The experienced ears
of both told them that it was only a single horseman who came, and,
drawing their pistols, they turned their horses across the road. When
the rider saw the two threatening figures he stopped, but in a moment he
rode on again. They were in gray and so was he.

“Why, it’s Chris Aubrey of the general’s own staff!” exclaimed Dalton.
“Don’t you know him, Harry?”

“Of course I do. Aubrey, we’re friends. It’s Dalton and Kenton.”

Aubrey dashed his hands across his eyes, as if he were clearing a
mist from them. He was worn and weary, and his look bore a singular
resemblance to that of despair.

“What is it, Chris?” asked Dalton with sympathy.

“I was sent down the Luray Valley to learn what I could and I discovered
that Ord was advancing with ten thousand men on Front Royal, where
General Jackson left only a small garrison. I’m going as fast as my
horse can take me to tell him.”

“We’re on the same kind of a mission, Chris,” said Harry. “We’ve seen
the vanguard of Shields, ten thousand strong coming through Manassas
Gap, and we also are going as fast as our horses can take us to tell
General Jackson.”

“My God! Does it mean that we are about to be surrounded?”

“It looks like it,” said Harry, “but sometimes you catch things that you
can’t hold. George and I never give up faith in Old Jack.”

“Nor do I,” said Aubrey. “Come on! We’ll ride together! I’m glad I met
you boys. You give me courage.”

The three now rode abreast and again they galloped. One or two early
farmers going phlegmatically to their fields saw them, but they passed
on in silence. They had grown too used to soldiers to pay much attention
to them. Moreover, these were their own.

The whole valley was now flooded with light. To east and to west loomed
the great walls of the mountains, heavy with foliage, cut here and there
by invisible gaps through which Harry knew that the Union troops were
pouring.

They caught sight of moving heads on a narrow road coming from the west
which would soon merge into theirs. They slackened speed for a moment or
two, uncertain what to do, and then Aubrey exclaimed:

“It’s a detachment of our own cavalry. See their gray uniforms, and
that’s Sherburne leading them!”

“So it is!” exclaimed Harry, and he rode forward joyfully. Sherburne
gave all three of them a warm welcome, but he was far from cheerful. He
led a dozen troopers and they, like himself, were covered with dust
and were drooping with weariness. It was evident to Harry that they had
ridden far and hard, and that they did not bring good news.

“Well, Harry,” said Sherburne, still attempting the gay air, “chance has
brought us together again, and I should judge from your appearance that
you’ve come a long way, bringing nothing particularly good.”

“It’s so. George and I have been riding all night. We were in Manassas
Gap and we learned definitely that Shields is coming through the pass
with ten thousand men.”

“Fine,” said Sherburne with a dusty smile. “Ten thousand is a good round
number.”

“And if we’ll give him time enough,” continued Harry, “McDowell will
come with twice as many more.”

“Look’s likely,” said Sherburne.

“We’ve been riding back toward Jackson as fast as we could,” continued
Harry, “and a little while ago Aubrey riding the same way overtook us.”

“And what have you seen, Aubrey?” asked Sherburne.

“I? Oh, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve been down by Front Royal in the night,
and I’ve seen Ord with ten thousand men coming full tilt down the Luray
Valley.”

“What another ten thousand! It’s funny how the Yankees run to even tens
of thousands, or multiples of that number.”

“I’ve heard,” said Harry, “that the force under Banks and Saxton in
front of Jackson was ten thousand also.”

“I’m sorry, boys, to break up this continuity,” said Sherburne with
a troubled laugh, “but it’s fifteen thousand that I’ve got to report.
Fremont is coming from the west with that number. We’ve seen ‘em. I’ve
no doubt that at this moment there are nearly fifty thousand Yankees in
the valley, with more coming, and all but ten thousand of them are in
General Jackson’s rear.”

It seemed that Sherburne, daring cavalryman, had lost his courage for
the moment, but the faith of the stern Presbyterian youth, Dalton, never
faltered.

“As I told Harry a little while ago, we have at least fifty thousand
men,” he said.

“What do you mean?” asked Sherburne.

“I count Stonewall Jackson as forty thousand, and the rest will bring
the number well over fifty thousand.”

Sherburne struck his gauntleted hand smartly on his thigh.

“You talk sense, Dalton!” he exclaimed. “I was foolish to despair! I
forgot how much there was under Stonewall Jackson’s hat! They haven’t
caught the old fox yet!”

They galloped on anew, and now they were riding on the road, over which
they had pursued so hotly the defeated army of Banks. They would soon
be in Jackson’s camp, and as they approached their hearts grew lighter.
They would cast off their responsibilities and trust all to the leader
who appeared so great to them.

“I see pickets now,” said Aubrey. “Only five more minutes, boys, but as
soon as I give my news I’ll have to drop. The excitement has kept me up,
but I can’t last any longer.”

“Nor I,” said Harry, who realized suddenly that he was on the verge
of collapse. “Whether our arrival is to be followed by a battle or a
retreat I’m afraid I won’t be fit for either.”

They gave the password, and the pickets pointed to the tent of Jackson.
They rode straight to him, and dismounted as he came forth from the
tent. They were so stiff and sore from long riding that Dalton and
Aubrey fell to their knees when they touched the ground, but they
quickly recovered, and although they stood somewhat awkwardly they
saluted with the deepest respect. Jackson’s glance did not escape their
mishap, and he knew the cause, but he merely said:

“Well, gentlemen.”

“I have to report, sir,” said Sherburne, speaking first as the senior
officer, “that General Fremont is coming from the west with fifteen
thousand men, ready to fall upon your right flank.”

“Very good, and what have you seen, Captain Aubrey?”

“Ord with ten thousand men is in our rear and is approaching Front
Royal.”

“Very good. You have done faithful work, Captain Aubrey. What have you
seen, Lieutenant Kenton and Lieutenant Dalton?”

“General Shields, sir, is in Manassas Gap this morning with ten thousand
men, and he and General Ord can certainly meet to-day if they wish. We
learned also that General McDowell can come up in a few days with twenty
thousand more.”

The face of Stonewall Jackson never flinched. It looked worn and weary
but not more so than it did before this news.

“I thank all of you, young gentlemen,” he said in his quiet level tones.
“You have done good service. It may be that you’re a little weary. You’d
better sleep now. I shall call you when I want you.”

The four saluted and General Jackson went back into the tent. Aubrey
made a grimace.

“We may be a little tired!” he said. “Why, I haven’t been out of the
saddle for twenty-four hours, and I felt so anxious that every one of
those hours was a day long.”

“But it’s a lot to get from the general an admission that you may be
even a little tired,” said Dalton. “Remember the man for whom you ride.”

“That’s so,” said Aubrey, “and I oughtn’t to have said what I did. We’ve
got to live up to new standards.”

Sherburne, Aubrey and Dalton picked out soft spots on the grass and
almost instantly were sound asleep, but Harry lingered a minute or two
longer. He saw across the river the glitter of bayonets and the dark
muzzles of cannon. He also saw many troops moving on the hills and he
knew that he was looking upon the remains of Banks’ army reinforced by
fresh men, ready to dispute the passage or fight Jackson if he marched
northward in any other way, while the great masses of their comrades
gathered behind him.

Harry felt again for a moment that terrible sinking of the heart which
is such close kin to despair. Enemies to the north of them, enemies to
the south of them, and to the east and to the west, enemies everywhere.
The ring was closing in. Worse than that, it had closed in already and
Stonewall Jackson was only mortal. Neither he nor any one else could
lead them through the overwhelming ranks of such a force.

But the feeling passed quickly. It could not linger, because the band
of the Acadians was playing, and the dark men of the Gulf were singing.
Even with the foe in sight, and a long train of battles and marches
behind them, with others yet worse to come, they began to dance, clasped
in one another’s arms.

Many of the Acadians had already gone to a far land and they would never
again on this earth see Antoinette or Celeste or Marie, but the sun of
the south was in the others and they sang and danced in the brief rest
allowed to them.

Harry liked to look at them. He sat on the grass and leaned his back
against a tree. The music raised up the heart and it was wonderfully
lulling, too. Why worry? Stonewall Jackson would tell them what to do.

The rhythmic forms grew fainter, and he slept. He was awakened the
next instant by Dalton. Harry opened his eyes heavily and looked
reproachfully at his friend.

“I’ve slept less than a minute,” he said.

Dalton laughed.

“So it seemed to me, too, when I was awakened,” he said, “but you’ve
slept a full two hours just as I did. What do you expect when you’re
working for Stonewall Jackson. You’ll be lucky later on whenever you get
a single hour.”

Harry brushed the traces of sleep from his eyes and stood up straight.

“What’s wanted?” he asked.

“You and I and some others are going to take a little railroad trip,
escorted by Stonewall Jackson. That’s all I know and that’s all anybody
knows except the general. Come along and look your little best.”

Harry brushed out his wrinkled uniform, straightened his cap, and in
a minute he and Dalton were with the group of staff officers about
Jackson. There was still a section of railway in the valley held by the
South, and Jackson and his aides were soon aboard a small train on their
way back to Winchester. Harry, glancing from the window, saw the troops
gathering up their ammunition and the teamsters hitching up their
horses.

“It’s going to be a retreat up the valley,” he whispered to Dalton. “But
masses more than three to one are gathering about us.”

“I tell you again, you just trust Old Jack.”

Harry looked toward the far end of the coach where Jackson sat with the
older members of his staff. His figure swayed with the train, but
he showed no sign of weariness or that his dauntless soul dwelt in a
physical body. He was looking out at the window, but it was obvious that
he did not see the green landscape flashing past. Harry knew that he
was making the most complex calculations, but like Dalton he ceased to
wonder about them. He put his faith in Old Jack, and let it go at that.

There was very little talking in the train. Despite every effort,
Harry’s eyes grew heavy and he began to doze a little. He would waken
entirely at times and straighten up with a jerk. Then he would see the
fields and forests still rushing past, now and then a flash as they
crossed a stream, and always the sober figure of the general, staring,
unseeing, through the window.

He suddenly became wide-awake, when he heard sharp comment in the coach.
All the older officers were gazing through the windows with the greatest
interest. Harry saw a man in Confederate uniform galloping across the
fields and waving his hands repeatedly to the train which was already
checking speed.

“A staff officer with news,” said Dalton.

“Yes,” said Harry, “and I’m thinking it will seem bad news to you and
me.”

The train stopped in a field, and the officer, panting and covered with
dust and perspiration, rode alongside. Jackson walked out on the steps,
followed by his eager officers.

“What is it?” asked Jackson.

“The Northern army has retaken Front Royal. The Georgia regiment you
left in garrison there has been driven out and without support is
marching northward. I have here, sir, a dispatch from Colonel Connor,
the commander of the Georgians.”

He handed the folded paper to the general, who received it but did not
open it for a moment. There was something halfway between a sigh and a
groan from the officers, but Jackson said nothing. He smiled, but, as
Harry saw it, it was a strange and threatening smile. Then he opened the
dispatch, read it carefully, tore it into tiny bits and threw them away.
Harry saw the fragments picked up by the wind and whirled across the
field. Jackson nearly always destroyed his dispatches in this manner.

“Very good,” he said to the officer, “you can rejoin Colonel Connor.”

He went back to his seat. The train puffed, heaved and started again.
Jackson leaned against the back of the seat and closed his eyes. He
seemed to be asleep. But the desire for sleep was driven from Harry.
The news of the retaking of Front Royal had stirred the whole train.
Officers talked of it in low tones, but with excitement. The Northern
generals were acting with more than their customary promptness. Already
they had struck a blow and Ord with his ten thousand men had undoubtedly
passed from the Luray Valley into the main Valley of Virginia to form a
junction with Shields and his ten thousand.

What would Jackson do? Older men in the train than Harry and Dalton were
asking that question, but he remained silent. He kept his eyes closed
for some time, and Harry thought that he must be fast asleep, although
it seemed incredible that a man with such responsibilities could sleep
at such a time. But he opened his eyes presently and began to talk with
a warm personal friend who occupied the other half of the seat.

Harry did not know the tenor of this conversation then, but he heard of
it later from the general’s friend. Jackson had remarked to the man that
he seemed to be surrounded, and the other asked what he would do if the
Northern armies cut him off entirely. Jackson replied that he would go
back toward the north, invade Maryland and march straight on Baltimore
and Washington. Few more daring plans have ever been conceived, but,
knowing Jackson as he learned to know him, Harry always believed that he
would have tried it.

But the Southern leaders within that mighty and closing ring in the
valley were not the only men who had anxious minds. At the Union capital
they did not know what had become of Jackson. They knew that he was
somewhere within the ring, but where? He might pounce upon a division,
deal another terrible blow and then away! In a week he had drawn
the eyes of the world upon him, and his enemies no longer considered
anything impossible to him. Many a patriot who was ready to die rather
than see the union of the states destroyed murmured: “If he were only on
our side!” There was already talk of recalling McClellan’s great army to
defend Washington.

The object of all this immense anxiety and care was riding peacefully in
a train to Winchester, talking with a friend but conscious fully of his
great danger. It seemed that the Northern generals with their separate
armies were acting in unison at last, and must close down on their prey.

They came again into Winchester, the town torn so often by battle and
its anxieties, and saw the Presbyterian minister, his face gray with
care, greet Jackson. Then the two walked toward the manse, followed at a
respectful distance by the officers of the staff.

Harry soon saw that the whole of Winchester was in gloom. They knew
there of the masses in blue converging on Jackson, and few had hope.
While Jackson remained at the manse he sat upon the portico within call.
There was little sound in Winchester. The town seemed to have passed
into an absolute silence. Most of the doors and shutters were closed.

And yet the valley had never seemed more beautiful to Harry. Far off
were the dim blue mountains that enclosed it on either side, and the
bright skies never bent in a more brilliant curve.

He felt again that overpowering desire to sleep, and he may have dozed a
little when he sat there in the sun, but he was wide awake when Jackson
called him.

“I want you to go at once to Harper’s Ferry with this note,” he said,
“and give it to the officer in command. He will bring back the troops to
Winchester, and you are to come with him. You can go most of the way on
the train and then you must take to your horse. The troops will march
back by the valley turnpike.”

Harry saluted and was off. He soon found that other officers were going
to the various commands with orders similar to his, and he no longer had
any doubt that the whole force would be consolidated and would withdraw
up the valley. He was right. Jackson had abandoned the plan of entering
Maryland and marching on Baltimore and Washington, and was now about
to try another, fully as daring, but calling for the most sudden and
complicated movements. He had arranged it all, as he rode in the train,
most of it as he leaned against the back of the seat with his eyes shut.

Harry was soon back in Harper’s Ferry, and the troops there immediately
began their retreat. Most all of them knew of the great danger that
menaced their army, but Harry, a staff officer, understood better than
the regimental commanders what was occurring. The Invincibles were in
their division and he rode with the two colonels, St. Clair and Happy
Tom Langdon. They went at a swift pace and behind them came the steady
beat of the marching troops on the turnpike.

“You have been with General Jackson in Winchester, Harry,” said Colonel
Leonidas Talbot in his precise manner, “and I judge that you must have
formed some idea of his intentions. This indicates a general retreat
southward, does it not?”

“I think so, sir. General Jackson has said nothing, but I know that
orders have been sent to all our detachments to draw in. He must have
some plan of cutting his way through toward the south. What do you
think, Colonel St. Hilaire?”

“It must be so,” replied Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire, “but
how he will do it is beyond me. When I look around at all these blue
mountains, Leonidas, it seems to me that we’re enclosed by living
battlements.”

“Or that Jackson is like the tiger in the bush, surrounded by the
beaters.”

“Yes, and sometimes it’s woe to the beaters when they come too near.”

Harry dropped back with his younger friends who were by no means of sad
demeanor. St. Clair had restored his uniform to its usual immaculate
neatness or in some manner he had obtained a new one. Tom Langdon was
Happy Tom again.

“We’ve eaten well, and we’ve slept well,” said Langdon, “and Arthur and
I are restored completely. He’s the finest dandy in the army again,
and I’m ready for another week’s run with Jackson. I know I won’t get
another chance to rest in a long time, but Old Stonewall needn’t think I
can’t march as long as he can.”

“You’ll get your fill of it,” said Harry, “and of fighting, too. Take a
look all around you. No, not a half circle, but a complete circle.”

“Well, I’ve twisted my neck until my head nearly falls off. What
signifies the performance?”

“There was no time when you were turning around the circle that your
eyes didn’t look toward Yankees. Nearly fifty thousand of ‘em are in the
valley. We’re in a ring of steel, Happy.”

“Well, Old Jack will just take his sword and slash that steel ring
apart. And if he should fail I’m here. Lead me to ‘em, Harry.”

Langdon’s spirits were infectious. Even the marching men who heard Happy
Tom laugh, laughed with him and were more cheerful. They marched
faster, too, and from other points men were coming quickly to Jackson
at Winchester. They were even coming into contact with the ring of
steel which was closing in on them. Fremont, advancing with his fifteen
thousand from the mountains, met a heavy fire from a line of ambushed
riflemen. Not knowing where Jackson was or what he was doing, and
fearing that the great Confederate commander might be before him with
his whole army, he stopped at Cedar Creek and made a camp of defense.

Shields, in the south, moving forward, found a swarm of skirmishers
in his front, and presently the Acadians, sent in that direction by
Jackson, opened up with a heavy fire on his vanguard. Shields drew back.
He, too, feared that Jackson with his entire army was before him and
rumor magnified the Southern force. Meanwhile the flying cavalry of
Ashby harassed the Northern advance at many points.

All the time the main army of Jackson was retreating toward Winchester,
carrying with it the prisoners and a vast convoy of wagons filled with
captured ammunition and stores. Jackson had foreseen everything. He had
directed the men who were leading these forces to pass around Winchester
in case he was compelled to abandon it, circle through the mountains and
join him wherever he might be.

But Harry when he returned to Winchester breathed a little more freely.
He felt in some manner that the steel ring did not compress so tightly.
Jackson, acting on the inside of the circle, had spread consternation.
The Northern generals could not communicate with one another because
either mountains or Southern troops came between. Prisoners whom the
Southern cavalry brought in told strange stories. Rumor in their ranks
had magnified Jackson’s numbers double or triple. Many believed that
a great force was coming from Richmond to help him. Jackson was
surrounded, but the beaters were very wary about pressing in on him.

Yet the Union masses in the valley had increased. McDowell himself had
now come, and he sent forward cavalry details which, losing the way,
were compelled to return. Fremont on the west at last finding the line
of riflemen before him withdrawn, pushed forward, and saw the long
columns of the Southern army with their wagons moving steadily toward
the south. His cavalry attacking were driven off and the Southern
division went on.

Harry with the retreating division wondered at these movements and
admired their skill. Jackson’s army, encumbered as it was with prisoners
and stores, was passing directly between the armies of Fremont and
Shields, covering its flanks with clouds of skirmishers and cavalry that
beat off every attack of the hostile vanguards, and that kept the two
Northern armies from getting into touch.

Jackson had not stopped at Winchester. He had left that town once more
to the enemy and was still drawing back toward the wider division of the
valley west of the Massanuttons. The great mind was working very fast
now. The men themselves saw that warlike genius incarnate rode on the
back of Little Sorrel. Jackson was slipping through the ring, carrying
with him every prisoner and captured wagon.

His lightning strokes to right and to left kept Shields and Fremont
dazed and bewildered, and McDowell neither knew what was passing nor
could he get his forces together. Harry saw once more and with amazement
the dark bulk of the Massanuttons rising on his left and he knew that
these great isolated mountains would again divide the Union force, while
Jackson passed on in the larger valley.

He felt a thrill, powerful and indescribable. Jackson in very truth had
slashed across with his sword that great ring of steel and was passing
through the break, leaving behind not a single prisoner, nor a single
wagon. Sixty-two thousand men had not only failed to hold sixteen
thousand, but their scattered forces had suffered numerous severe
defeats from the far smaller army. It was not that the Northern men were
inferior to the Southern in courage and tenacity, but the Southern army
was led by a genius of the first rank, unmatched as a military leader in
modern times, save by Napoleon and Lee.

It was the last day of May and the twilight was at hand. The dark masses
of Little North Mountain to the west and of the Massanuttons to the east
were growing dim. Harry rode by the side of Dalton a few paces in the
rear of Jackson, and he watched the somber, silent man, riding silently
on Little Sorrel. There was nothing bright or spectacular about him. The
battered gray uniform was more battered than ever. In place of the worn
cap an old slouched hat now shaded his forehead and eyes. But Harry
knew that their extraordinary achievements had not been due to luck or
chance, but were the result of the mighty calculations that had been
made in the head under the old slouched hat.

Harry heard behind him the long roll and murmur of the marching army,
the wheels of cannon and wagons grating on the turnpike, the occasional
neigh of a horse, the rattle of arms and the voices of men talking low.
Most of these men had been a year and a half ago citizens untrained for
war. They were not mere creatures of drill, but they were intelligent,
and they thought for themselves. They knew as well as the officers what
Jackson had done and henceforth they looked upon him as something almost
superhuman. Confident in his genius they were ready to follow wherever
Jackson led, no matter what the odds.

These were exactly the feelings of both Harry and Dalton. They would
never question or doubt again. Both of them, with the hero worship of
youth felt a mighty swell of pride, that they should ride with so great
a leader, and be so near to him.

The army marched on in the darkening hours, leaving behind it sixty
thousand men who closed up the ring only to find their game gone.

Harry heard from the older staff officers that they would go on up
the valley until they came to the Gaps of the Blue Ridge. There in
an impregnable position they could turn and fight pursuit or take the
railway to Richmond and join in the defense against McClellan. It
all depended on what Jackson thought, and his thoughts were uniformly
disclosed by action.

Meanwhile the news was spreading through the North that Jackson had
escaped, carrying with him his prisoners and captured stores. Odds had
counted for nothing. All the great efforts directed from Washington had
been unavailing. All the courage and energy of brave men had been in
vain. But the North did not cease her exertions for an instant. Lincoln,
a man of much the same character as Jackson, but continually thwarted
by mediocre generals, urged the attack anew. Dispatches were sent to all
the commanders ordering them to push the pursuit of Jackson and to bring
him to battle.

Cut to the quick by their great failure, Fremont, Shields, Ord,
Banks, McDowell and all the rest, pushed forward on either side of the
Massanuttons, those on the west intending to cross at the gap, join
their brethren, and make another concerted attempt at Jackson’s
destruction.

But Harry ceased to think of armies and battles as he rode on in the
dark. He was growing sleepy again and he dozed in his saddle. Half
consciously he thought of his father and wondered where he was. He had
received only one letter from him after Shiloh, but he believed that he
was still with the Confederate army in the west, taking an active part.
Much as he loved his father it was the first time that he had been in
his thoughts in the last two weeks. How could any one think of anything
but the affair of the moment at such a time, when the seconds were
ticked off by cannon-shots!

In this vague and pleasant dream he also remembered Dick Mason, his
cousin, who was now somewhere there in the west fighting on the other
side. He thought of Dick with affection and he liked him none the less
because he wore the blue. Then, curiously enough, the last thing that
he remembered was his Tacitus, lying in his locked desk in the Pendleton
Academy. He would get out that old fellow again some day and finish him.
Then he fell sound asleep in his saddle, and the horse went steadily on,
safely carrying his sleeping master.

He did not awake until midnight, when Dalton’s hand on his shoulder
caused him to open his eyes.

“I’ve been asleep, too, Harry,” said Dalton, “but I woke up first. We’re
going into camp here for the rest of the night.”

“I’m glad to stop,” said Harry, “but I wonder what the dawn will bring.”

“I wonder,” said Dalton.



CHAPTER XIII. THE SULLEN RETREAT


Harry, like the rest of the army, slept soundly through the rest of the
night and they rose to a brilliant first day of June. The scouts said
that the whole force of Fremont was not far behind, while the army of
Shields was marching on a parallel line east of the Massanuttons, and
ready at the first chance to form a junction with Fremont.

Youth seeks youth and Harry and Dalton found a little time to talk with
St. Clair and Langdon.

“We’ve broken their ring and passed through,” said Langdon, “but as sure
as we live we’ll all be fighting again in a day. If the Yankees follow
too hard Old Jack will turn and fight ‘em. Now, why haven’t the Yankees
got sense enough to let us alone and go home?”

“They’ll never do it,” said Dalton gravely. “We’ve got to recognize that
fact. I’m never going to say another word about the Yankees not being
willing to fight.”

“They’re too darned willing,” said Happy Tom. “That’s the trouble.”

“I woke up just about the dawn,” said Dalton. “Everybody was asleep, but
the general, and I saw him praying.”

“Then it means fighting and lots of it,” said St. Clair. “I’m going to
make the best use I can of this little bit of rest, as I don’t expect
another chance for at least a month. Stonewall Jackson thinks that one
hour a day for play keeps Jack from being a dull boy.”

“Just look at our colonels, will you?” said Happy Tom. “They’re
believers in what Arthur says.”

Colonel Leonidas Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire were
sitting in a corner of a rail fence opposite each other, and their bent
gray heads nearly touched. But their eyes were on a small board between
them and now and then they moved carved figures back and forth.

“They’re playing chess,” whispered Happy Tom. “They found the board and
set of men in the captured baggage, and this is their first chance to
use them.”

“They can’t possibly finish a game,” said Harry.

“No,” said Tom, “they can’t, and it’s just as well. Why anybody wants to
play chess is more than I can understand. I’d rather watch a four-mile
race between two turtles. It’s a lot swifter and more thrilling.”

“It takes intelligence to play chess, Happy,” said St. Clair.

“And time, too,” rejoined Happy. “If a thing consumes a lifetime anyway,
what’s the use of intelligence?”

A bugle sounded. The two colonels raised their gray heads and gave the
chess men and the board to an orderly. The four boys returned to their
horses, and in a few minutes Jackson’s army was once more on the march,
the Acadian band near the head of the column playing as joyously as
if it had never lost a member in battle. The mountains and the valley
between were bathed in light once more. The heavy dark green foliage on
the slopes of the Massanuttons rested the eye and the green fields of
the valley were cheering.

“I don’t believe I’d ever forget this valley if I lived to be a
thousand,” said Harry. “I’ve marched up and down it so much and every
second of the time was so full of excitement.”

“Here’s one day of peace, or at least it looks so,” said Dalton.

But Jackson beckoned to Harry, bade him ride to the rear and report if
there was any sign of the enemy. They had learned to obey quickly and
Harry galloped back by the side of the marching army. Even now the men
were irrepressible and he was saluted with the old familiar cries:

“Hey, Johnny Reb, come back! You’re going toward the Yankees, not away
from ‘em.”

“Let him go ahead, Bill. He’s goin’ to tell the Yankees to stop or he’ll
hurt ‘em.”

“That ain’t the way to ride a hoss, bub. Don’t set up so straight in the
saddle.”

Harry paid no attention to this disregard of his dignity as an officer.
He had long since become used to it, and, if they enjoyed it, he was
glad to furnish the excuse. He reached the rear guard of scouts and
skirmishers, and, turning his horse, kept with them for a while, but
they saw nothing. Sherburne, with a detachment of the cavalry was there,
and Ashby, who commanded all the horse, often appeared.

“Fremont’s army is not many miles behind,” said Sherburne. “If we were
to ride a mile or two toward it we could see its dust. But the Yanks
are tired and they can’t march fast. I wish I knew how far up the Luray
Shields and his army are. We’ve got to look out for that junction of
Shields and Fremont.”

“We’ll pass the Gap before they can make the junction,” said Harry
confidently.

“How’s Old Jack looking?”

“Same as ever.”

“That is, like a human sphinx. Well, you can never tell from his face
what he’s thinking, but you can be sure that he’s thinking something
worth while.”

“You think then I can report to him that the pursuit will not catch up
to-day?”

“I’m sure of it. I’ve talked with Ashby also about it and he says
they’re yet too far back. Harry, what day is this?”

Harry smiled at the sudden question, but he understood how Sherburne,
amid almost continuous battle, had lost sight of time.

“I heard someone say it was the first of June,” he replied.

“No later than that? Why, it seemed to me that it must be nearly autumn.
Do you know, Harry, that on this very day, two years ago, I was up there
in those mountains to the west with a jolly camping party. I was just a
boy then, and now here I am an old man.”

“About twenty-three, I should say.”

“A good guess, but anyway I’ve been through enough to make me feel
sixty. I promise you, Harry, that if ever I get through this war alive
I’ll shoot the man who tries to start another. Look at the fields! How
fine and green they are! Think of all that good land being torn up by
the hoofs of cavalry and the wheels of cannon!”

“If you are going to be sentimental I’ll leave you,” said Harry, and the
action followed the word. He rode away, because he was afraid he would
grow sentimental himself.

The army continued its peaceful march up the valley and most of the
night that followed. Harry was allowed to obtain a few hours sleep in
the latter part of the night in one of the captured wagons. It was a
covered wagon and he selected it because he noticed that the night, even
if it was the first of June, was growing chill. But he had no time to be
particular about the rest. He did not undress--he had not undressed in
days--but lying between two sacks of meal with his head on a third sack
he sank into a profound slumber.

When Harry awoke he felt that the wagon was moving. He also heard the
patter of rain on his canvas roof. It was dusky in there, but he saw in
front of him the broad back of the teamster who sat on the cross seat
and drove.

“Hello!” exclaimed Harry, sitting up. “What’s happened?”

A broad red face was turned to him, and a voice issuing from a slit
almost all the way across its breadth replied:

“Well, if little old Rip Van Winkle hasn’t waked up at last! Why, you’ve
slept nigh on to four hours, and nobody in Stonewall Jackson’s army is
ever expected to sleep more’n three and that’s gospel truth, as shore’s
my name is Sam Martin.”

“But, Sam, you don’t tell me what’s happened!”

“It’s as simple as A, B, C. We’re movin’ ag’in, and that fine June day
yestiddy that we liked so much is gone forever. The second o’ June ain’t
one little bit like the first o’ June. It’s cold and it’s wet. Can’t you
hear the rain peltin’ on the canvas? Besides, the Yanks are comin’ up,
too. I done heard the boomin’ o’ cannon off there toward the rear.”

“Oh, why wasn’t I called! Here I am sleeping away, and the enemy is
already in touch with us!”

“Don’t you worry any ‘bout that, sonny. Don’t you be so anxious to git
into a fight, ‘cause you’ll have plenty of chances when you can’t keep
out o’ it. ‘Sides, Gin’ral Jackson ain’t been expectin’ you. We’re up
near the head o’ the line an’ ‘bout an hour ago when we was startin’
a whiskered man on a little sorrel hoss rid up an’ said: ‘Which o’ my
staff have you got in there? I remember ‘signin’ one to you last night.’
I bows very low an’ I says: ‘Gin’ral Jackson, I don’t know his name. He
was too sleepy to give it, but he’s a real young fellow, nice an’ quiet.
He ain’t give no trouble at all. He’s been sleepin’ so hard I think he
has pounded his ear clean through one o’ them bags o’ meal.’ Gin’ral
Jackson laughs low an’ just a little, and then he takes a peek into the
wagon. ‘Why, it’s young Harry Kenton!’ he says. ‘Let him sleep on till
he wakes. He deserves it!’ Then he lets fall the canvas an’ he ups
an’ rides away. An’ if I was in your place, young Mr. Kenton, I’d feel
mighty proud to have Stonewall Jackson say that I deserved more rest.”

“I am proud, but I’ve got to go now. I don’t know where I’ll find my
horse.”

“I know, an’ what’s more I’ll tell. An orderly came back with him
saddled an’ bridled an’ he’s hitched to this here wagon o’ mine.
Good-bye, Mr. Kenton, I’m sorry you’re goin’ ‘cause you’ve been a nice,
pleasant boarder, sayin’ nothin’ an’ givin’ no trouble.”

Harry thanked him, and then in an instant was out of the wagon and on
his horse. It required only a few minutes to overtake Jackson and his
staff, who were riding soberly along in the rain. He noticed with relief
that he was not the last to join the chief. Two or three others came up
later. Jackson nodded pleasantly to them all as they came.

But the morning was gloomy in the extreme. Harry was glad to shelter
himself with the heavy cavalry cloak from the cold rain. All the skies
were covered with sullen clouds, and the troops trudged silently on
in deep mud. Now and then a wind off the mountains threshed the rain
sharply into their faces. From the rear came the deep, sullen mutter
which Harry so readily recognized as the sound of the big guns. Sam
Martin was right. The enemy was most decidedly “in touch.”

Dalton handed Harry some cold food and he ate it in the saddle. Jackson
rode on saying nothing, his head bowed a little, his gaze far away. The
officers of his staff were also silent. Jackson after a while reined his
horse out of the road, and his staff, of course, followed. The troops
filed past and Jackson said:

“We will soon pass the Gap in the Massanuttons, and Shields cannot come
out there ahead of us. That danger is left behind.”

“What of the junction between Shields and Fremont, General?” asked one
of the older officers.

Jackson cast one glance at the somber heavens.

“Providence favors us,” he said. “The south fork of the Shenandoah flows
between Fremont and Shields. It is swollen already by the rains and the
rushing torrents from the mountains, and if I read the skies right we’re
going to have other long and heavy rains. They can’t ford the Shenandoah
and they can’t stop to bridge it. It will be a long time before they can
bring a united force against us.”

But while he spoke the mutter of the guns grew louder. Jackson listened
attentively a long time, and then sent several of his staff officers to
the rear with orders to the cavalry, the Invincibles under Talbot, and
one other regiment to hold the enemy off at all costs. As Harry galloped
back the mutter of the cannon grew into thunder. There was also the
sharper crash of rifle fire. Presently he saw the flash of the firing
and numerous spires of smoke rising.

His own message was to the Invincibles and he delivered the brief note
to Colonel Talbot, who read it quickly and then tore it up.

“Stay with us a while, Harry,” he said, “and you can then report more
fully to the general what is going on. They crowd us hard. Look how
their sharpshooters are swarming in the woods and fields yonder.”

An orchard to the left of the road and only a short distance away was
filled with the Union riflemen. Running from tree to tree and along the
fences they sent bullets straight into the ranks of the Invincibles.
Four guns were turned and swept the orchard with shell, but the wary
sharpshooters darted to another point, and again came the hail of
bullets. Colonel Talbot bade his weary men turn, but at the moment,
Sherburne, with a troop of cavalry, swept down on the riflemen and sent
them flying. Harry saw Colonel Talbot’s lips moving, and he knew that he
was murmuring thanks because Sherburne had come so opportunely.

“We’re not having an easy time,” he said to Harry. “They press us hard.
We drive them back for a time, and they come again. They have field
guns, too, and they are handled with great skill. If I do not mistake
greatly, they are under the charge of Carrington, who, you remember,
fought us at that fort in the valley before Bull Run, John Carrington,
old John Carrington, my classmate at West Point, a man who wouldn’t hurt
a fly, but who is the most deadly artillery officer in the world.”

Harry remembered that famous duel of the guns in the hills and Colonel
Talbot’s admiration of his opponent, Carrington. Now he could see it
shining in his eyes as strongly as ever.

“Why are you so sure, colonel, that it’s Carrington?” he asked.

“Because nobody else could handle those field guns as he does. He
brings ‘em up, sends the shot and shell upon us, then hitches up like
lightning, is away before we can charge, and in a minute or two is
firing into our line elsewhere. Trust Carrington for such work, and I’m
glad he hasn’t been killed. John’s the dearest soul in the world, as
gentle as a woman. Down! Down! all of you! There are the muzzles of his
guns in the bushes again!”

Colonel Talbot’s order was so sharp and convincing that most of the
Invincibles mechanically threw themselves upon their faces, just as four
field pieces crashed and the shell and shrapnel flew over their heads.
That rapid order had saved them, but the officers on horseback were
not so lucky. A captain was killed, Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire was
grazed on the shoulder, and the horse of Colonel Talbot was killed under
him.

But Colonel Talbot, alert and agile, despite his years, sprang clear
of the falling horse and said emphatically to his second in command,
Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire:

“The last doubt is gone! It’s Carrington as sure as we live!”

Then he gave a quick order to his men to rise and fire with the rifles,
but the woods protected the gunners, and, when Sherburne with his
cavalry charged into the forest, Carrington and his guns were gone.

Colonel Talbot procured another horse, and the Invincibles, sore of body
and mind, resumed their slow and sullen retreat. Harry left them and
rode further along the front of the rear guard. Under the somber skies
and in the dripping rain there was a long line of flashing rifles and
the flaming of big guns at intervals.

Fremont was pushing the pursuit and pushing it hard. Harry recognized
anew the surpassing skill of Jackson in keeping his enemies separated by
mountains and streams, while his own concentrated force marched on. He
felt that Fremont would hold Jackson in battle if he could until the
other Northern armies came up, and he felt also that Jackson would
lead Fremont beyond a junction with the others and then turn. Yet these
Northern men were certainly annoying. They did not seem to mind defeats.
Here they were fighting as hard as ever, pursuing and not pursued.

Harry, turning to the left, saw a numerous body of cavalry under Ashby,
supported by guns also, and he joined them. Ashby on his famous white
horse was riding here and there, exposing himself again and again to the
fire of the enemy, who was pressing close. He nodded to Harry, whom he
knew.

“You can report to General Jackson,” he said, “that the enemy is
continually attacking, but that we are continually beating him off.”

Just as he spoke a trumpet sounded loud and clear in the edge of a wood
only three or four hundred yards away. There was a tremendous shout from
many men, and then the thunder of hoofs. A cavalry detachment, more than
a thousand strong, rushed down upon them, and to right and left of the
horse, regiments of infantry, supported by field batteries, charged
also.

The movement was so sudden, so violent and so well-conceived that
Ashby’s troops were swept away, despite every effort of the leader, who
galloped back and forth on his white horse begging them to stand. So
powerful was the rush that the cavalry were finally driven in retreat
and with them the Invincibles.

Some of the troops, worn by battles and marches until the will weakened
with the body, broke and ran up the road. Harry heard behind him the
triumphant shouts of their pursuers and he saw the Northern bayonets
gleaming as they came on in masses. Ashby was imploring his men to stand
but they would not. The columns pressing upon them were too heavy and
they scarcely had strength enough left to fight.

More and yet more troops came into battle. The Northern success for the
time was undoubted. The men in blue were driving in the Southern rear
guard, and Ashby was unable to hold the road.

But the two colonels at last succeeded in drawing the Invincibles across
the turnpike, where they knelt in good order and sent volley after
volley into the pursuing ranks. Fremont’s men wavered and then stopped,
and Ashby, upbraiding his horsemen and calling their attention to the
resolute stand of the infantry, brought them into action again. Infantry
and cavalry then uniting, drove back the Northern vanguard, and, for the
time being, the Southern rear guard was safe once more.

But the Invincibles and the cavalry were almost exhausted. Harry found
St. Clair wounded, not badly, but with enough loss of blood for Colonel
Talbot to send him to one of the wagons. He insisted that he was
still fit to help hold the road, but Colonel Talbot ordered two of the
soldiers to put him in the wagon and he was compelled to submit.

“We can’t let you die now from loss of blood, you young fire-eater,”
 said Colonel Talbot severely, “because you may be able to serve us
better by getting killed later on.”

St. Clair smiled wanly and with his formal South Carolina politeness
said:

“Thanks, sir, it helps a lot when you’re able to put it in such a
satisfactory way.”

Harry, who was unhurt, gave St. Clair a strong squeeze of the hand.

“You’ll be up and with us again soon, Arthur,” he said consolingly, and
then he rode away to Ashby.

“You may tell General Jackson that we can hold them back,” said the
cavalry leader grimly. “You have just seen for yourself.”

“I have, sir,” replied Harry, and he galloped away from the rear. But
he soon met the general himself, drawn by the uncommonly heavy firing.
Harry told him what had happened, but the expression of Jackson’s face
did not change.

“A rather severe encounter,” he said, “but Ashby can hold them.”

All that day, nearly all that night and all the following day Harry
passed between Jackson and Ashby or with them. It was well for the
Virginians that they were practically born on horseback and were trained
to open air and the forests. For thirty-six hours the cavalry were in
the saddle almost without a break. And so was Harry. He had forgotten
all about food and rest. He was in a strange, excited mood. He seemed to
see everything through a red mist. In all the thirty-six hours the crash
of rifles or the thud of cannon ceased scarcely for a moment. It went on
just the same in day or in night. The Northern troops, although led by
no such general as Stonewall Jackson, showed the splendid stuff of which
they were made. They were always eager to push hard and yet harder.

The Southern troops burnt the bridges over the creeks as they retreated,
but the Northern men waded through the water and followed. The clouds
of cavalry were always in touch. A skirmish was invariably proceeding
at some point. Toward evening of the second day’s pursuit, they came to
Mount Jackson, to which they had retreated once before, and there went
into camp in a strong place.

But the privates themselves knew that they could not stay there long.
They might turn and beat off Fremont’s army, but then they would have
to reckon with the second army under Shields and the yet heavier masses
that McDowell was bringing up. But Jackson himself gave no sign
of discouragement. He went cheerfully among the men, and saw that
attention, as far as possible at such a time, was given to their needs.
Harry hunted up St. Clair and found him with a bandaged shoulder sitting
in his wagon. He was sore but cheerful.

“The doctor tells me, Harry, that I can take my place in the line in
three more days,” he said, “but I intend to make it two. I fancy that we
need all the men we can get now, and that I won’t be driven back to this
wagon.”

“If I were as well fixed as you are, Arthur,” said Langdon, who appeared
at this moment on the other side of the wagon, “I’d stay where I was.
But it’s so long since I’ve been hauled that I’m afraid the luxury would
overpower me. Think of lying on your back and letting the world float
peacefully by! Did I say ‘think of it’? I was wrong. It is unthinkable.
Now, Harry, what plans has Old Jack got for us?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, he’ll get us out of this. We’re sure of that. But when? That’s
the question.”

The question remained without an answer. Early the next morning they
were on the march again under lowering skies. The heavens from horizon
to horizon were a sodden gray and began to drip rain. Harry was sent
again to the rear-guard, where Ashby’s cavalry hung like a curtain,
backed by the Invincibles and one or two other skeleton regiments.

Harry joined Sherburne and now the drip of the rain became a steady
beat. Chilling winds from the mountains swept over them. He had
preserved through thick and thin, through battle and through march that
big cavalry cloak, and now he buttoned it tightly around him.

He saw down the road puffs of smoke and heard the lashing fire of
rifles, but it did not make his pulses beat any faster now. He had grown
so used to it that it seemed to be his normal life. A bullet fired from
a rifle of longer range than the others plumped into the mud at the feet
of his horse, but he paid no attention to it.

He joined Sherburne, who was using his glasses, watching through the
heavy, thick air the Northern advance. The brilliant young cavalryman,
while as bold and enduring as ever, had changed greatly in the last two
or three weeks. The fine uniform was stained and bedraggled. Sherburne
himself had lost more than twenty pounds and his face was lined and
anxious far more than the face of a mere boy of twenty-three should have
been.

“I think they’ll press harder than ever,” said Sherburne.

“Why?”

“The Shenandoah river, or rather the north fork of it, isn’t far ahead.
They’d like to coop us up against it and make us fight, while their
army under Shields and all their other armies--God knows how many they
have--are coming up.”

“The river is bridged, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but it takes a good while to get an army such as ours, loaded down
with prisoners and spoil, across it, and if they rushed us just when we
were starting over it, we’d have to turn and give battle. Jupiter, how
it rains! Behold the beauties of war, Harry!”

The wind suddenly veered a little, and with it the rain came hard and
fast. It seemed to blow off the mountains in sheets and for a moment or
two Harry was blinded. The beat of the storm upon leaves and earth
was so hard that the cracking of the rifles was dulled and deadened.
Nevertheless the rifle fire went on, and as well as Harry could judge,
without any decrease in violence.

“Hear the bugles now!” said Sherburne. “Their scouts are warning them of
the approach to the Shenandoah. They’ll be coming up in a minute or two
in heavier force. Ah, see, Ashby understands, too! He’s massing the men
to hold them back!”

The rain still poured with all the violence of a deluge, but the
Northern force, horse and cannon, pushed forward through the mud and
opened with all their might. Ashby’s cavalry and the infantry in support
replied. There was something grim and awful to Harry in this fight in
the raging storm. Now and then, he could not see the flame of the firing
for the rain in his eyes. By a singular chance a bullet cut the button
of his cloak at the throat and the cloak flew open there. In a minute he
was soaked through and through with water, but he did not notice it.

The cavalry, the Invincibles and the other regiments were making a
desperate stand in order that the army might cross the bridge of the
Shenandoah. Harry was seized with a sort of fury. Why should these men
try to keep them from getting across? It was their right to escape.
Presently he found himself firing with his pistols into the great pillar
of fire and smoke and rain in front of him. Mud splashed up by the
horses struck him in the face now and then, and stung like gunpowder,
but he began to shout with joy when he saw that Ashby was holding back
the Northern vanguard.

Ahead of him the Southern army was already rumbling over the bridge,
while the swollen and unfordable waters of the Shenandoah raced beneath
it. But the Northern brigades pressed hard. Harry did not know whether
the rain helped them or hurt them, but at any rate it was terribly
uncomfortable. It poured on them in sheets and sheets and the earth
seemed to be a huge quagmire. He wondered how the men were able to keep
their ammunition dry enough to fire, but that they did was evident from
the crash that went on without ceasing.

“In thinking of war before I really knew it,” said Harry, “I never
thought much of weather.”

“Does sound commonplace, but it cuts a mighty big figure I can tell you.
If it hadn’t rained so hard just before Waterloo Napoleon would have got
up his big guns more easily, winning the battle, and perhaps changing
the history of the world. Confound it, look at that crowd pushing
forward through the field to take us in the flank!”

“Western men, I think,” said Harry. “Here are two of our field guns,
Sherburne! Get ‘em to throw some grape in there!”

It was lucky that the guns approached at that moment. Their commander,
as quick of eye as either Harry or Sherburne, unlimbered and swept back
the western men who were seeking to turn their flank. Then Sherburne,
with a charge of his cavalry, sent them back further. But at the call of
Ashby’s trumpet they turned quickly and galloped after Jackson’s army,
the main part of which had now passed the bridge.

“I suppose we’ll burn the bridge after we cross it,” said Harry.

“Of course.”

“But how on earth can we set fire to it with this Noah’s flood coming
down?”

“I don’t know. They’ll manage it somehow. Look, Harry, see the flames
bursting from the timbers now. Gallop, men! Gallop! We may get our faces
scorched in crossing the bridge, but when we’re on the other side it
won’t be there for the Yankees!”

The Invincibles and the other infantry regiments all were advancing at
the double quick, with the cavalry closing up the rear. Behind them many
bugles rang and through the dense rain they saw the Northern cavalry
leaders swinging their sabers and cheering on their men, and they also
saw behind them the heavy masses of infantry coming up.

Harry knew that it was touch-and-go. The bulk of the army was across,
and if necessary they must sacrifice Ashby’s cavalry, but that sacrifice
would be too great. Harry had never seen Ashby and his gallant captains
show more courage. They fought off the enemy to the very last and then
galloped for the bridge, under a shower of shell and grape and bullets.
Ashby’s own horse was killed under him, falling headlong in the mud,
but in an instant somebody supplied him with a fresh one, upon which
he leaped, and then they thundered over the burning bridge, Ashby and
Sherburne the last two to begin the crossing.

Harry, who was just ahead of Ashby and Sherburne, felt as if the flames
were licking at them. With an involuntary motion he threw up his hands
to protect his eyes from the heat, and he also had a horrible sensation
lest the bridge, its supporting timbers burned through, should fall,
sending them all into the rushing flood.

But the bridge yet held and Harry uttered a gasp of relief as the feet
of his horse struck the deep mud on the other side. They galloped on for
two or three hundred yards, and then at the command of Ashby turned.

The bridge was a majestic sight, a roaring pyramid that shot forth
clouds of smoke and sparks in myriads.

“How under the sun did we cross it?” Harry exclaimed.

“We crossed it, that’s sure, because here we are,” said Sherburne. “I
confess myself that I don’t know just how we did it, Harry, but it’s
quite certain that the enemy will never cross it. The fire’s too strong.
Besides, they’d have our men to face.”

Harry looked about, and saw several thousand men drawn up to dispute the
passage, but the Northern troops recognizing its impossibility at that
time, made no attempt. Nevertheless their cannon sent shells curving
over the stream, and the Southern cannon sent curving shells in reply.
But the burning bridge roared louder and the pyramid of flame rose
higher. The rain, which had never ceased to pour in a deluge, merely
seemed to feed it.

“Ah, she’s about to go now,” exclaimed Sherburne.

The bridge seemed to Harry to rear up before his eyes like a living
thing, and then draw together a mass of burning timbers. The next moment
the whole went with a mighty crash into the river, and the blazing
fragments floated swiftly away on the flood. The deep and rapid
Shenandoah flowed a barrier between the armies of Jackson and Fremont.

“A river can be very beautiful without a bridge, Harry, can’t it?” said
a voice beside him.

It was St. Clair, a heavy bandage over his left shoulder, but a smoking
rifle in his right hand, nevertheless.

“I couldn’t stand it any longer, Harry,” he said. “I had to get up and
join the Invincibles, and you see I’m all right.”

Harry was compelled to laugh at the sodden figure, from which the rain
ran in streams. But he admired St. Clair’s spirit.

“It was by a hair’s breadth, Arthur,” he said.

“But we won across, just the same, and now I’m going back to that wagon
to finish my cure. I fancy that we’ll now have a rest of six or eight
hours, if General Jackson doesn’t think so much time taken from war a
mere frivolity.”

The Southern army drew off slowly, but as soon as it was out of sight
the tenacious Northern troops undertook to follow. They attempted to
build a bridge of boats, but the flood was so heavy that they were swept
away. Then Fremont set men to work to rebuild the bridge, which they
could do in twenty-four hours, but Jackson, meanwhile, was using every
one of those precious hours.



CHAPTER XIV. THE DOUBLE BATTLE


The twenty-four hours were a rest, merely by comparison. There was no
pursuit, at least, the enemy was not in sight, but the scouts brought
word that the bridge over the Shenandoah would be completed in a day and
night, and that Fremont would follow. Jackson’s army triumphantly passed
the last defile of the Massanuttons and the army of Shields did not
appear issuing from it. It was no longer possible for them to be struck
in front and on the flank at the same time, and the army breathed a
mighty sigh of relief. At night of the next day Harry was sitting by the
camp of the Invincibles, having received a brief leave of absence from
the staff, and he detailed the news to his eager friends.

“General Jackson is stripping again for battle,” he said to Colonel
Leonidas Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire. “He’s sent
all the sick and wounded across a ferry to Staunton, and he’s dispatched
his prisoners and captured stores by another road. So he has nothing
left but men fit for battle.”

“Which includes me,” said St. Clair proudly, showing his left shoulder
from which the bandage had been taken, “I’m as well as ever.”

“Men get well fast with Stonewall Jackson,” said Colonel Talbot. “I’ll
confess to you lads that I thought it was all up with us there in the
lower valley, when we were surrounded by the masses of the enemy, and I
don’t see yet how we got here.”

“But we are here, Leonidas,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire,
“and that’s enough for us to know.”

“Right, Hector, old friend. It’s enough for us to know. Do you by chance
happen to have left two of those delightful cigarettes?”

“Just two, Leonidas, one for you and one for me, and now is a chance to
smoke ‘em.”

The young lieutenants drew to one side while the two old friends smoked
and compared notes. They did not smoke, but they compared notes also, as
they rested on the turf. The rain had ceased and the grass was dry. They
saw through the twilight the dark mass of the Massanuttons, the extreme
southern end, and Happy Tom Langdon waved his hand toward the mountain,
like one who salutes a friend.

“Good old mountain,” he said. “You’ve been a buffer between us and the
enemy more than once, but it took a mind like Stonewall Jackson’s to
keep moving you around so you would stand between the armies of the
enemy and make the Yankees fight, only one army at a time.”

“You’re right,” said Harry, who was enjoying the deep luxury of rest. “I
didn’t know before that mountains could be put to such good use. Look,
you can see lights on the ridge now.”

They saw lights, evidently those of powerful lanterns swung to and fro,
but they did not understand them, nor did they care much.

“Signals are just trifles to me now,” said Happy Tom. “What do I care
for lights moving on a mountain four or five miles away, when for a
month, day and night without stopping, a million Yankees have been
shooting rifle bullets at me, and a thousand of the biggest cannon ever
cast have been pouring round shot, long shot, shell, grape, canister and
a hundred other kinds of missiles that I can’t name upon this innocent
and unoffending head of mine.”

“They’ll be on us tomorrow, Happy,” said St. Clair, more gravely. “This
picnic of ours can’t last more than a day.”

“I think so, too,” said Harry. “So long, boys, I’ve got to join Captain
Sherburne. The general has detached me for service with him under Ashby,
and you know that when you are with them, something is going to happen.”

Harry slept well that night, partly in a camp and partly in a saddle,
and he found himself the next day with Ashby and Sherburne near a little
town called Harrisonburg. They were on a long hill in thick forest, and
the scouts reported that the enemy was coming. The Northern armies were
uniting now and they were coming up the valley, expecting to crush all
opposition.

“Take your glasses, Harry,” said Sherburne, “and you’ll see a strong
force crossing the fields, but it’s not strong enough. We’ve a splendid
position here in the forest and you just watch. Ah, here come your
friends, the Invincibles. See, Ashby is forming them in the center,
while we, of the horse, take the flanks.”

The men in blue, catching sight of the Confederate uniforms in the wood,
charged with a shout, but they did not know the strength of the force
before them. The Invincibles poured in a deadly fire at close range, and
then Ashby’s cavalry with a yell charged on either flank. The Northern
troops, taken by surprise, gave way, and the Southern force followed,
firing continuously.

They came within a half mile of Harrisonburg, and the main Northern army
of Fremont was at hand. The general who had pursued so long, saw his
men retreating, and, filled with chagrin and anger, he hurried forward
heavier forces of both cavalry and infantry. Other troops came to the
relief of Ashby also, and Harry saw what he thought would be only a
heavy skirmish grow into a hot battle of size.

Fremont, resolved that the North should win a battle in the open field,
and rejoiced that he had at last brought his enemy to bay, never ceased
to hurry his troops to the combat. Formidable lines of the western
riflemen rushed on either flank, and before their deadly rifles Ashby’s
cavalry wavered. Harry saw with consternation that they were about to
give way, but Ashby galloped up to the unbroken lines of infantry and
ordered them to charge.

The words were scarcely out of his mouth, when his horse, shot through,
fell to the ground. Ashby fell with him, but he sprang instantly to his
feet, and shouted in a loud voice:

“Charge men, for God’s sake! Charge! Charge!” With a rush and roar, the
Invincibles and their comrades swept forward, but at the same instant
Harry saw Ashby fall again. With a cry of horror he leaped from his
horse and ran to him, lifting him in his arms. But he quickly laid him
back on the grass. Ashby had been shot through the heart and killed
instantly.

Harry gazed around him, struck with grief and dismay, but he saw only
the resistless rush of the infantry. The Invincibles and their comrades
were avenging the death of Turner Ashby. Tired of retreating and hot
for action they struck the Northern division with a mighty impact,
shattering it and driving it back rapidly. The Southern cavalry,
recovering also, struck it on the flank, and the defeat was complete.
Fremont’s wish was denied him. After so much hard marching and such a
gallant and tenacious pursuit, he had gone the way of the other Northern
generals who opposed Jackson, and was beaten.

Although they had driven back the vanguard, winning a smart little
victory, and telling to Fremont and Shields that the pursuit of Jackson
had now become dangerous, there was gloom in the Southern army. The
horsemen did not know until they trotted back and saw Harry kneeling
beside his dead body, that the great Ashby was gone. For a while they
could not believe it. Their brilliant and daring leader, who had led
Jackson’s vanguard in victory, and who had hung like a covering curtain
in retreat, could not have fallen. It seemed impossible that the man who
had led for days and days through continuous showers of bullets could
have been slain at last by some stray shot.

But they lifted him up finally and carried him away to a house in the
little neighboring village of Port Republic, Sherburne and the other
captains, hot from battle, riding with uncovered heads. He was put upon
a bed there, and Harry, a staff officer, was selected to ride to Jackson
with the news. He would gladly have evaded the errand, but it was
obvious that he was the right messenger.

He rode slowly and found Jackson coming up with the main force, Dr.
McGuire, his physician, and Colonel Crutchfield, his chief of artillery,
riding on either side of him. The general gave one glance at Harry’s
drooping figure.

“Well,” he said, “have we not won the victory? From a hilltop our
glasses showed the enemy in flight.”

“Yes, general,” said Harry, taking off his hat, “we defeated the enemy,
but General Ashby is dead.”

Jackson and his staff were silent for a moment, and Harry saw the
general shrink as if he had received a heavy blow.

“Ashby killed! Impossible!” he exclaimed.

“It’s true, sir. I helped to carry his body to a house in Port Republic,
where it is now lying.”

“Lead us to that house, Mr. Kenton,” said Jackson.

Harry rode forward in silence, and the others followed in the same
silence. At the house, after they had looked upon the body, Jackson
asked to be left alone awhile with all that was left of Turner Ashby.
The others withdrew and Harry always believed that Jackson prayed within
that room for the soul of his departed comrade.

When he came forth his face had resumed its sternness, but was without
other expression, as usual.

“He will not show grief, now,” said Sherburne, “but I think that his
soul is weeping.”

“And a bad time for Fremont and Shields is coming,” said Harry.

“It’s a risk that we all take in war,” said Dalton, who was more of a
fatalist than any of the others.

The chief wrote a glowing official tribute to Ashby, saying that his
“daring was proverbial, his powers of endurance almost incredible, his
character heroic, and his sagacity almost intuitive in divining the
purposes and movements of the enemy.” Yet deeply as Harry had been
affected by Ashby’s death, it could not remain in his mind long, because
they had passed the Massanuttons now, and Fremont and Shields following
up the valley must soon unite.

Harry believed that Jackson intended to strike a blow. The situation
of the Confederacy was again critical--it seemed to Harry that it was
always critical--and somebody must wield the sword, quick and strong.
McClellan with his great and well-trained army was before Richmond. It
was only the rapid marches and lightning strokes of Jackson that had
kept McDowell with another great army from joining him, but to keep back
this force of McDowell until they dealt with McClellan, there must be
yet other rapid marches and lightning strokes.

Harry’s sleep that night was the longest in two weeks, but he was up
at dawn, and he was directed by Jackson to ride forward with Sherburne
toward the southern base of the Massanuttons, observe the approach of
both Fremont and Shields and report to him.

Harry was glad of his errand. He always liked to ride with Sherburne,
who was a fount of cheerfulness, and he was still keyed up to that
extraordinary intensity and pitch of excitement that made all things
possible. He now understood how the young soldiers of Napoleon in
Italy had been able to accomplish so much. It was the man, a leader of
inspiration and genius, surcharging them all with electrical fire.

Sherburne’s troop was a portion of a strong cavalry force, which divided
as it reached the base of the Massanuttons, a half passing on either
side. Sherburne and Harry rode to the right in order to see the army
of Shields. The day was beautiful, with a glorious June sun and gentle
winds, but Harry, feeling something strange about it, realized presently
that it was the silence. For more than two weeks cannon had been
thundering and rifles crashing in the valley, almost without cessation.
Neither night nor storm had caused any interruption.

It seemed strange, almost incredible now, but they heard birds singing
as they flew from tree to tree, and peaceful rabbits popped up in the
brush. Yet before they went much further they saw the dark masses of the
Northern army under Shields moving slowly up the valley, and anxious for
the junction with Fremont.

But the Northern generals were again at a loss. Jackson had turned
suddenly and defeated Fremont’s vanguard with heavy loss, but what
had become of him afterward? Fremont and Shields were uncertain of
the position of each other, and they were still more uncertain about
Jackson’s. He might fall suddenly upon either, and they grew very
cautious as they drew near to the end of the Massanuttons.

Sherburne and Harry, after examining the Northern army through
their glasses, rode back with a dozen men to the south base of
the Massanuttons. Most of them were signal officers, and Harry and
Sherburne, dismounting, climbed the foot of the mountain with them. When
they stood upon the crest and looked to right and left in the clear June
air, they beheld a wonderful sight.

To the south along Mill Creek lay Jackson’s army. To the west massed
in the wider valley was the army of Fremont, which had followed them so
tenaciously, and to the east, but just separated from it by the base of
the Massanuttons, were the masses of Shields advancing slowly.

Harry through his powerful glasses could see the horsemen in front
scouting carefully in advance of either army, and once more he
appreciated to the full Jackson’s skill in utilizing the mountains and
rivers to keep his enemies apart. But what would he do now that they
were passing the Massanuttons, and there was no longer anything to
separate Shields and Fremont. He dismissed the thought. There was an
intellect under the old slouch hat of the man who rode Little Sorrel
that could rescue them from anything.

“Quite a spectacle,” said Sherburne. “A man can’t often sit at ease on
a mountaintop and look at three armies. Now, Barron, you are to signal
from here to General Jackson every movement of our enemies, but just
before either Shields or Fremont reaches the base of the mountain,
you’re to slip down and join us.”

“We’ll do it, sir,” said Barron, the chief signal officer. “We’re not
likely to go to sleep up here with armies on three sides of us.”

Sherburne, Harry and two other men who were not to stay slowly descended
the mountain. Harry enjoyed the breathing space. On the mountainside he
was lifted, for a while, above the fierce passions of war. He saw things
from afar and they were softened by distance. He drew deep breaths of
the air, crisp and cool, on the heights, and Sherburne, who saw the glow
on his face, understood. The same glow was on his own face.

“It’s a grand panorama, Harry,” he said, “and we’ll take our fill of it
for a few moments.” They stood on a great projection of rock and looked
once more and for a little while into the valley and its divisions. The
two Northern armies were nearer now, and they were still moving. Harry
saw the sun flashing over thousands of bayonets. He almost fancied he
could hear the crack of the teamsters’ whips as the long lines of wagons
in the rear creaked along.

They descended rapidly, remounted their horses and galloped back to
Jackson.

They buried Ashby that day, all the leading Southern officers following
him to his grave, and throughout the afternoon the silence was
continued. But the signals on the mountain worked and worked, and the
signalmen with Jackson replied. No movement of the two pursuing armies
was unknown to the Southern leader.

Harry, with an hour’s leave, visited once more his friends of the
Invincibles. He had begged a package of fine West Indian cigarettes
from Sherburne, and he literally laid them at the feet of the two
colonels--he found them sitting together on the grass, lean gray men who
seemed to be wholly reduced to bone and muscle.

“This is a great gift, Harry, perhaps greater than you think,” said
Colonel Leonidas Talbot gravely. “I tried to purchase some from the
commissariat, but they had none--it seems that General Stonewall Jackson
doesn’t consider cigarettes necessary for his troops. Anyhow, the way
our Confederate money is going, I fancy a package of cigarettes will
soon cost a hundred dollars. Here, Hector, light up. We divide this box,
half and half. That’s right, isn’t it, Harry?”

“Certainly, sir.”

Harry passed on to the junior officers and found St. Clair and Happy Tom
lying on the grass. Happy pretended to rouse from sleep when Harry came.

“Hello, old omen of war,” he said. “What’s Old Jack expecting of us
now?”

“I told you never to ask me such a question as that again. The general
isn’t what you’d call a garrulous man. How’s your shoulder, Arthur?”

“About well. The muscles were not torn. It was just loss of blood that
troubled me for the time.”

“I hear,” said Langdon, “that the two Yankee armies are to join soon.
The Massanuttons won’t be between them much longer, and then they’ll
have only one of the forks of the river to cross before they fall upon
each other’s breasts and weep with joy. Harry, it seems to me that we’re
always coming to a fork of the Shenandoah. How many forks does it have
anyhow?”

“Only two, but the two forks have forks of their own. That’s the reason
we’re always coming to deep water and by the same token the Yankees are
always coming to it, too, which is a good thing for us, as we get there
first, when the bridges are there, and when the Yankees come they are
gone.”

But not one of these boys understood the feeling in the Northern
armies. Late the day before a messenger from Shields had got through the
Massanuttons to Fremont, and had informed him that an easy triumph
was at hand. Jackson and his army, he said, fearing the onset of
overwhelming numbers, was retreating in great disorder.

The two generals were now convinced of speedy victory. They had
communicated at last, and they could have some concert of movement.
Jackson was less than thirty miles away, and his army was now but a
confused mass of stragglers which would dissolve under slight impact.
Both had defeats and disappointments to avenge, and they pushed forward
now with increased speed, Shields in particular showing the greatest
energy in pursuit. But the roads were still deep in mud, and his army
was forced to toil on all that day and the next, while the signalmen
on the top of the Massanuttons told every movement he made to Stonewall
Jackson.

The signals the second evening told Jackson that the two Northern armies
were advancing fast, and that he would soon have before him an enemy
outnumbering him anywhere from two to three to one. He had been talking
with Ewell just before the definite news was brought, and Harry, Dalton
and other officers of the staff stood near, as their duty bade them.

Harry knew the nature of the information, as it was not a secret from
any member of the staff, and now they all stood silently on one side
and watched Jackson. Even Ewell offered no suggestion, but kept his
eyes fixed anxiously on his chief. Harry felt that another one of those
critical moments, perhaps the most dangerous of all, had arrived. They
had fought army after army in detail, but now they must fight armies
united, or fly. He did not know that the silent general was preparing
the most daring and brilliant of all his movements in the valley. In the
face of both Shields and Fremont his courage flamed to the highest, and
the brain under the old slouch hat grew more powerful and penetrating
than ever. And flight never for a moment entered into his scheme.

Jackson at length said a few words to Ewell, who sprang upon his horse
and rode away to his division. Then, early in the morning, Jackson
led the rest of the army into a strange district, the Grottoes of the
Shenandoah. It was a dark region, filled beneath with great caves and
covered thickly with heavy forest, through the leaves of which the
troops caught views of the Massanuttons to the north or of the great
masses of the Blue Ridge to the east, while far to the west lay other
mountains, range on range. But all around them the country was wooded
heavily.

The army did not make a great amount of noise when it camped in the
forest over the caves, and the fires were few. Perhaps some of the men
were daunted by the dangers which still surrounded them so thickly after
so many days of such fierce fighting. At any rate, they were silent. The
Acadians had played no music for a day now, and the band lay upon the
ground sunk in deep slumber.

Harry had not been sent on any errand, and he was sitting on a stone,
finishing his supper, when Dalton, who had been away with a message,
returned.

“What’s happened, George?” asked Harry.

“Nothing yet, but a lot will happen soon.”

“Where have you been?”

“I’ve been on the other side of the Shenandoah. You needn’t open your
eyes. It’s so. Moreover, Ewell’s whole division is over there, and it
will meet the vanguard of Fremont as he advances. I think I begin to see
the general’s scheme.”

“I do, too. Ewell will fight off Fremont, holding him there until
Jackson can annihilate Shields. Then he will retreat over the river to
Jackson, burning the bridge behind him.”

Dalton nodded.

“Looks that way to a man up a tree,” he said.

“It’s like the general,” said Harry. “He could bring his whole army on
this side, burn the bridge, and in full force attack Shields, but he
prefers to defeat them both.”

“Yes; but I wish to Heaven we had more men.”

“Sh! Here comes the general,” said Harry.

The two were silent as General Jackson and an officer passed. The
general spoke a word or two to the boys and went on. They were but
ordinary words, but both felt uplifted because he had spoken to them.

Morning found them motionless in the forest, over the caves. They ate a
hasty breakfast and waited. But the scouts were all out, and presently
Harry and Dalton were sent toward the Shenandoah. Finding nothing there,
they crossed over the bridge and came to Ewell’s division, where they
had plenty of acquaintances.

The sun was now high, and while they were talking with their friends,
they heard the faint report of rifle shots far in their front. Presently
the scouts came running back, and said that the enemy was only two miles
away and was advancing to the attack.

Ewell took off his hat and his bald head glistened in the sun’s rays.
But, like Jackson, he was always cool, and he calmly moved his troops
into position along a low ridge, with heavy woods on either flank. Harry
knew the ground, alas, too well. It was among the trees just behind the
ridge that Turner Ashby had been slain. Ewell had before him Fremont
with two to one, and the rest of the army under Jackson’s immediate
command was four miles away, facing Shields.

“Do you hear anything behind you, Harry?” asked Dalton.

“No, why do you ask?”

“If we heard the booming of guns, and we’d hear ‘em at four miles, we’d
know that General Jackson himself was engaged. But as there’s no sound,
Shields hasn’t come up, and we’ll wait here a while to see if we can’t
have something important to report.”

“I don’t think so,” said Harry. “We know that the enemy is about to
attack here in full force, and that’s enough to know about this side of
the river. We ought to gallop back to General Jackson and tell him.”

“You’re right, Harry,” said the Virginian, in whom the sense of duty was
strong. “The general may be attacked by the time we get there, and he’ll
want to know exactly how things are.”

They galloped back as fast as they could and found that General Jackson
had moved his headquarters to the little village of Port Republic. They
found him and told him the news as he was mounting his horse, but at
the same time an excited and breathless messenger came galloping up
from another direction. The vanguard of Shields had already routed
his pickets, and the second Northern army was pressing forward in full
force.

As he spoke, the Northern cavalry came in sight, and if those Northern
horsemen had known what a prize was almost within their hands, they
would have spared no exertion.

“Make for the bridge! Make for the bridge, general!” cried Dalton.

The horsemen in blue were not coming fast. They rode cautiously through
the streets. Southern villages were not friendly to them, and this
caution saved Stonewall Jackson. He was on his horse in an instant,
galloping for the bridge, and Harry and Dalton were hot behind him. They
thundered over the bridge with the Northern cavalry just at their heels,
and escaped by a hair’s breadth. But the chief of artillery and Dr.
McGuire and one of the captains, Willis, were captured, and the rest of
the staff was dispersed.

“My God!” exclaimed Harry, when the Northern cavalry stopped at the
bridge. “What an escape!”

He was thinking of Jackson’s escape, not his own, and while he was
wondering what the general would do, he saw him ride to the bank of the
river and watch the Northern cavalry on the other side. Then Harry and
Dalton uttered a shout as they saw a Southern battery push forward from
the village and open on the cavalry. An infantry regiment, which had
been forming in the town, also came up at full speed, uttering the long,
high-pitched rebel yell.

The Northern vanguard, which had come so near to such a high
achievement, was driven back with a rush, and a Southern battery
appearing on its flank, swept it with shell as it retreated. So heavy
was the Southern attack, that the infantry also were driven back and
their guns taken. The entire vanguard was routed, and as it received no
support, even Harry and Dalton knew that the main army under Shields had
not yet come up.

“That was the closest shave I ever saw,” said Dalton. “So it was,” said
Harry. “But just listen to that noise behind you!”

A tremendous roar and crash told them that the battle between Ewell and
Fremont had opened. Jackson beckoned to Harry, Dalton and the members
of his staff who had reassembled. The three, who were captured,
subsequently escaped in the confusion and turmoil and rejoined their
general. Setting a powerful force to guard the bridge, Jackson said to
his staff:

“While we are waiting for Shields to come up with his army, we’ll ride
over and see how the affair between Ewell and Fremont is coming on.”

The roar and crash told them it was coming on with great violence, but
Fremont, so strong in pursuit was not so strong in action. Now that he
was face to face with the enemy, he did not attack with all his might.
He hesitated, not from personal fear, but from fear on account of his
army. The whole force of Jackson might be in front of him, and the
apprehensions that he did not feel in pursuit assailed him when he
looked at the ridge covered with the enemy.

Harry and Dalton watched with breathless interest. A portion of
Fremont’s army, but not all of it, just when it was needed most, was
sent to the charge. Led by the pickets and skirmishers they came forward
gallantly, a long line of glittering bayonets. In the thick woods on
their flank lay three Southern regiments, ambushed and not yet stirring.
No sunlight penetrated there to show their danger to the soldiers who
were breasting the slope.

Harry foresaw all, and he drew a long breath for brave men who were
marching to a certain fate.

“Why don’t they look! Why don’t they look!” he found himself exclaiming.

The next instant the entire wood burst into flame. Picking their aim and
firing at short range, the Southern riflemen sent sheet after sheet of
bullets into the charging ranks. It was more than human blood and flesh
could stand, and the Northern regiments gave way. But it was not a rout.
They retreated on their reserves, and stood there recovering themselves,
while the Southern riflemen reloaded, but did not pursue. The regiments
which had done the deadly work sank back in the woods, and seemingly the
battle was over.

Harry had not been under fire. He and Dalton, the rest of Jackson’s
staff and the general himself merely watched. Nor did Jackson give any
further orders to his able lieutenant, Ewell. He allowed him to make the
battle his own, and in Harry’s opinion he was making it right.

There came a silence that seemed interminably long to Harry. The
sunlight blazed down, and the two armies stood looking at each other
across a field that was strewn with the fallen. It would have been folly
for the men in blue to charge again, and it was the chief business of
the Southern troops to hold them back. Therefore they stood in their
positions and watched. Harry judged that the bulk of Fremont’s army was
not yet up. It was this failure to bring superior numbers to bear at
the right time that was always the ruin of the Northern generals in the
valley, because the genius on the other side invariably saw the mistake
and profited by it.

Harry and Dalton still waited, wondering. Jackson himself sat quietly on
his horse, and issued no order. The Northern troops were motionless, and
Harry, who knew how precious time was, with the rest of Fremont’s army
coming up, wondered again. But Trimble, the commander of the Southern
riflemen hidden in the wood, saw a chance. He would send his men under
cover of the forest and hurl them suddenly upon the Northern flank.
Ewell gave his consent, and said that he would charge, too, if the
movement were successful.

Harry, watching, saw the Southern regiments in the wood steal from the
forest, pass swiftly up a ravine, and then, delivering a shattering fire
at short range, charge with the bayonet upon the Northern flank. The men
in blue, surprised by so fierce an onset, gave way. Uttering the rebel
yell, the Southerners followed and pushed them further and further.
Ewell’s quick eye, noting the success, sent forward his own center in a
heavy charge.

Fremont, from the rear, hurried forward new troops, but they were beaten
as fast as they arrived. The batteries were compelled to unlimber and
take to flight, the fresh brigade dispatched by Fremont was routed,
and the whole Southern line pressed forward, driving the Northern army
before it.

“General Jackson was wise in trusting to General Ewell,” said Dalton to
Harry. “He’s won a notable victory. I wonder how far he’ll push it.”

“Not far, I think. All Ewell’s got to do is to hold Fremont, and he has
surely held him. There’s Shields on the other side of the river with
whom we have to deal. Do you know, George, that all the time we’ve been
sitting here, watching that battle in front of us, I’ve been afraid we’d
hear the booming of the guns on the other side of the river, telling
that Shields was up.”

“We scorched their faces so badly there in Cross Keys that they must be
hesitating. Lord, Harry, how old Stonewall plays with fire. To attack
and defeat one army with the other only a few miles away must take
nerves all of steel.”

“But if Ewell keeps on following Fremont he’ll be too far away when we
turn to deal with Shields.”

“But he won’t go too far. There are the trumpets now recalling his
army.”

The mellow notes were calling in the eager riflemen, who wished to
continue the pursuit, but the army was not to retire. It held the
battlefield, and now that the twilight was coming the men began to build
their fires, which blazed through the night within sight of those of the
enemy. The sentinels of the two armies were within speaking distance
of one another, and often in the dark, as happened after many another
battle in this war, Yank and Reb passed a friendly word or two. They
met, too, on the field, where they carried away their dead and wounded,
but on such errands there was always peace.

Those hours of the night were precious, but Fremont did not use them.
Defeated, he held back, magnifying the numbers of his enemy, fearing
that Jackson was in front of him with his whole army, and once more out
of touch with his ally, Shields.

But Stonewall Jackson was all activity. The great war-like intellect was
working with the utmost precision and speed. Having beaten back Fremont,
he was making ready for Shields. The first part of the drama, as he
had planned it, had been carried through with brilliant success, and he
meant that the next should be its equal.

Harry was not off his horse that night. He carried message after message
to generals and colonels and captains. He saw the main portion of
Ewell’s army withdrawn from Fremont’s front, leaving only a single
brigade to hold him, in case he should advance at dawn. But he saw the
fires increased, and he carried orders that the men should build them
high, and see that they did not go down.

When he came back from one of these errands about midnight, just after
the rise of the moon, he found General Jackson standing upon the bank
of the river, giving minute directions to a swarm of officers. His mind
missed nothing. He directed not only the movements of the troops, but he
saw also that the trains of ammunition and food were sent to the proper
points. About half way between midnight and morning he lay down and
slept in a small house near the river bank. Shortly before dawn the
commander of a battery, looking for one of his officers, entered the
house and saw Jackson, dressed for the saddle, sword, boots, spurs and
all, lying on his face upon the bed, asleep. On a small table near him
stood a short piece of tallow candle, sputtering dimly. But the officer
saw that it was Jackson, and he turned on tiptoe to withdraw.

The general awoke instantly, sat up and demanded who was there. When the
officer explained, he said he was glad that he had been awakened, asked
about the disposition of the troops, and gave further commands. He did
not go to sleep again.

But Harry’s orders carried him far beyond midnight, and he had no
thought of sleep. Once more repressed but intense excitement had
complete hold of him. He could not have slept had the chance been
given to him. The bulk of the army was now in front of Shields, and
the pickets were not only in touch, but were skirmishing actively. All
through the late hours after midnight Harry heard the flash of their
firing in front of him.

The cavalry under Sherburne and other daring leaders were exchanging
shots with the equally daring cavalry of the enemy.

As the dawn approached the firing was heavier. Harry knew that the day
would witness a great battle, and his heart was filled with anxiety.
The army led by Shields showed signs of greater energy and tenacity than
that led by Fremont. The Northern troops that had fought so fiercely at
Kernstown were there, and they also had leaders who would not be daunted
by doubts and numbers. Harry wondered if they had heard of the defeat of
Fremont at Cross Keys.

He looked at the flashing of the rifles in the dusk, and before dawn
rode back to the house where his commander slept. He was ready and
waiting when Jackson came forth, and Dalton appearing from somewhere in
the dusk, sat silently on his horse by his side.

The general with his staff at once rode toward the front, and the masses
of the Southern army also swung forward. Harry saw that, according to
Jackson’s custom, they would attack, not wait for it. It was yet dusky,
but the firing in their front was increasing in intensity. There was a
steady crash and a blaze of light from the rifle muzzles ran through the
forest.

He took an order to the Acadians to move forward behind two batteries,
and as he came back he passed the Invincibles, now a mere skeleton
regiment, but advancing in perfect order, the two colonels on their
flanks near their head. He also saw St. Clair and Langdon, but he
had time only to wave his hand to them, and then he galloped back to
Jackson.

The dusk rapidly grew thinner. Then the burnished sun rose over the
hills, and Harry saw the Northern army before them, spread across a
level between the river and a spur of the Blue Ridge, and also on the
slopes and in the woods. A heavy battery crowned one of the hills,
another was posted in a forest, and there were more guns between. Harry
saw that the position was strong, and he noted with amazement that the
Northern forces did not seem to outnumber Jackson’s. It was evident that
Shields, with the majority of his force was not yet up. He glanced at
Jackson. He knew that the fact could not have escaped the general, but
he saw no trace of exultation on his face.

There was another fact that Harry did not then know. Nearly all the men
who had fought successfully against Jackson at Kernstown were in that
vanguard, and Tyler, who had deemed himself a victor there, commanded
them. Everybody else had been beaten by Stonewall Jackson, but not they.
Confident of victory, they asked to be led against the Southern army,
and they felt only joy when the rising sunlight disclosed their foe.
There were the men of Ohio and West Virginia again, staunch and sturdy.

Harry knew instinctively that the battle would be fierce, pushed to the
utmost. Jackson had no other choice, and as the sunlight spread over
the valley, although the mountains were yet in mist, the cannon on
the flanks opened with a tremendous discharge, followed by crash after
crash, North and South replying to each other. A Southern column also
marched along the slope of the hills, in order to take Tyler’s men in
flank. Harry looked eagerly to see the Northern troops give way, but
they held fast. The veterans of Ohio and West Virginia refused to give
ground, and Winder, who led the Southern column, could make no progress.

Harry watched with bated breath and a feeling of alarm. Were they to
lose after such splendid plans and such unparalleled exertions? The sun,
rising higher, poured down a flood of golden beams, driving the mists
from the mountains and disclosing the plain and slopes below wrapped in
fire, shot through with the gleam of steel from the bayonets.

Tyler, who commanded the Northern vanguard, proved himself here, as at
Kernstown, a brave and worthy foe. He, too, had eyes to see and a brain
to think. Seeing that his Ohio and West Virginia men were standing fast
against every attack made by Winder, he hurried fresh troops to their
aid that they might attack in return.

The battle thickened fast. At the point of contact along the slopes and
in the woods, there was a continued roar of cannon and rifles. Enemies
came face to face, and the men of Jackson, victorious on so many fields,
were slowly pressed back. A shout of triumph rose from the Union lines,
and the eager Tyler brought yet more troops into action. Two of Ewell’s
battalions heard the thunder of the battle and rushed of their own
accord to the relief of their commander. But they were unable to stem
the fury of Ohio and West Virginia, and they were borne back with the
others, hearing as it roared in their ears that cry of victory from
their foe, which they had so often compelled that foe himself to hear.

But it was more bitter to none than to Harry. Sitting on his horse in
the rear he saw in the blazing sunlight everything that passed. He saw
for the first time in many days the men in gray yielding. The incredible
was happening. After beating Fremont, after all their superb tactics,
they were now losing to Shields.

He looked at Jackson, hoping to receive some order that would take him
into action, but the general said nothing. He was watching the battle
and his face was inscrutable. Harry wondered how he could preserve
his calm, while his troops were being beaten in front, and the army
of Fremont might thunder at any moment on his flank or rear. Truly the
nerves that could remain steady in such moments must be made of steel
triply wrought.

The Northern army, stronger and more resolute than ever, was coming
on, a long blue line crested with bayonets. The Northern cannon, posted
well, and served with coolness and precision, swept the Southern ranks.
The men in gray retreated faster and some of their guns were taken.
The Union troops charged upon them more fiercely than ever, and the
regiments threatened to fall into a panic.

Then Jackson, shouting to his staff to follow, spurred forward into the
mob and begged them to stand. He rode among them striking some with the
flat of his sword and encouraging others. His officers showed the same
energy and courage, but the columns, losing cohesion seemed on the point
of dissolving, in the face of an enemy who pressed them so hard. Harry
uttered a groan which nobody heard in all the crash and tumult. His
heart sank like lead. Hope was gone clean away.

But at the very moment that hope departed he heard a great cheer,
followed a moment later by a terrific crash of rifles and cannon. Then
he saw those blessed Acadians charging in the smoke along the slope.
They had come through the woods, and they rushed directly upon the great
Northern battery posted there. But so well were those guns handled
and so fierce was their fire that the Acadians were driven back. They
returned to the charge, were driven back again, but coming on a third
time took all the battery except one gun. Then with triumphant shouts
they turned them on their late owners.

The whole Southern line seemed to recover itself at once. The remainder
of Ewell’s troops reached the field and enabled their comrades to turn
and attack. The Stonewall Brigade in the center, where Jackson was,
returned to the charge. In a few minutes fickle fortune had faced about
completely. The Union men saw victory once more snatched from their
hands. Their columns in the plain were being raked by powerful batteries
on the flank, many of the guns having recently been theirs. They must
retreat or be destroyed.

The brave and skillful Tyler reluctantly gave the order to retreat, and
when Harry saw the blue line go back he shouted with joy. Then the rebel
yell, thrilling, vast and triumphant, swelled along the whole line,
which lifted up itself and rushed at the enemy, the cavalry charging
fiercely on the flanks.

Shields got up fresh troops, but it was too late. The men in gray were
pouring forward, victorious at every point, and sweeping everything
before them, while the army of Fremont, arriving at the river at noon,
saw burned bridges, the terrible battlefield on the other side strewn
with the fallen, and the Southern legions thundering northward in
pursuit of the second army, superior in numbers to their own, that they
had defeated in two days.

Every pulse in Harry beat with excitement. His soul sprang up at once
from the depths to the stars. This, when hope seemed wholly gone, was
the crowning and culminating victory. The achievement of Jackson equaled
anything of which he had ever heard. While the army of Fremont was held
fast on the other side of the river, the second army under Shields,
beaten in its turn, was retreating at a headlong rate down the valley.
The veterans of Kernstown had fought magnificently, but they had been
outgeneralled, and, like all others, had gone down in defeat before
Jackson.

Jackson, merciless alike in battle and pursuit, pushed hard after the
men in blue for nine or ten miles down the river, capturing cannon and
prisoners. The Ohio and West Virginia men began at last to reform again,
and night coming on, Jackson stopped the pursuit. He still could not
afford to go too far down the valley, lest the remains of Fremont’s army
appear in his rear.

As they went back in the night, Harry and Dalton talked together in low
tones. Jackson was just ahead of them, riding Little Sorrel, silent, his
shoulders stooped a little, his mind apparently having passed on from
the problems of the day, which were solved, to those of the morrow,
which were to be solved. He replied only with a smile to the members of
his staff who congratulated him now upon his extraordinary achievement,
surpassing everything that he had done hitherto in the valley. For
Harry and Dalton, young hero-worshippers, he had assumed a stature yet
greater. In their boyish eyes he was the man who did the impossible over
and over again.

The great martial brain was still at work. Having won two fresh
victories in two days and having paralyzed the operations of his
enemies, Jackson was preparing for other bewildering movements. Harry
and Dalton and all the other members of the staff were riding forth
presently in the dusk with the orders for the different brigades and
regiments to concentrate at Brown’s Gap in the mountains, from which
point Jackson could march to the attack of McClellan before Richmond, or
return to deal blows at his opponents in the valley, as he pleased. But
whichever he chose, McDowell and sixty thousand men would not be present
at the fight for Richmond. Jackson with his little army had hurled back
the Union right, and the two Union armies could not be united in time.

The whole Southern army was gathered at midnight in Brown’s Gap, and the
men who had eaten but little and slept but little in forty-eight hours
and who had fought two fierce and victorious battles in that time,
throwing themselves upon the ground slept like dead men.

While they slept consternation was spreading in the North. Lincoln, ever
hopeful and never yielding, had believed that Jackson was in disorderly
flight up the valley, and so had his Secretary of War, Stanton. The fact
that this fleeing force had turned suddenly and beaten both Fremont and
Shields, each of whom had superior forces, was unbelievable, but it was
true.

But Lincoln and the North recalled their courage and turned hopeful eyes
toward McClellan.



CHAPTER XV. THE SEVEN DAYS


Harry did not awaken until late the next morning. Jackson, for once,
allowed his soldiers a long rest, and they were entitled to it. When he
rose from his blankets, he found fires burning, and the pleasant odor
of coffee, bacon and other food came to his nostrils. Many wounded were
stretched on blankets, but, as usual, they were stoics, and made no
complaint.

The army, in truth, was joyous, even more, it was exultant. Every one
had the feeling that he had shared in mighty triumphs, unparalleled
exploits, but they gave the chief credit to their leader, and they spoke
admiringly and affectionately of Old Jack. The whole day was passed
in luxury long unknown to them. They had an abundance of food, mostly
captured, and their rations were not limited.

The Acadian band reappeared and played with as much spirit as ever, and
once more the dark, strong men of Louisiana, clasped in one another’s
arms, danced on the grass. Harry sat with St. Clair, Happy Tom and
Dalton and watched them.

“I was taught that dancing was wicked,” said Dalton, “but it doesn’t
look wicked to me, and I notice that the general doesn’t forbid it.”

“Wicked!” said St. Clair, “why, after we take Washington, you ought
to come down to Charleston and see us dance then. It’s good instead of
wicked. It’s more than that. It’s a thing of beauty, a grace, a joy,
almost a rite.”

“All that Arthur says is true,” said Happy Tom. “I’m a Sea Islander
myself, but we go over to Charleston in the winter. Still, I think
you’ll have to do without me at those dances, Arthur. I shall probably
be kept for some time in the North, acting as proconsul for Pennsylvania
or Massachusetts.”

“Which way do you think we are going from here, Harry?” asked St. Clair.
“I don’t think it’s possible for General Jackson to stay longer than
twenty-four hours in one place, and I know that he always goes to you
for instructions before he makes any movement.”

“That’s so. He spoke to me this morning asking what he ought to do, but
I told him the troops needed a rest of one day, but that he mustn’t make
it more than one day or he’d spoil ‘em.”

Happy Tom, who was lying on the ground, sat up abruptly.

“If ever you hear of Old Stonewall spoiling anybody or anything,” he
said, “just you report it to me and I’ll tell you that it’s not so.”

“I believe,” said Dalton, “that we’re going to leave the valley. Both
Shields and Fremont are still retreating. Our cavalry scouts brought
in that word this morning. We’ve heard also that Johnston and McClellan
fought a big battle at a place called Seven Pines, and that after it
McClellan hung back, waiting for McDowell, whom Old Jack has kept busy.
General Johnston was wounded at Seven Pines and General Robert Edward
Lee is now in command of our main army.”

“That’s news! It’s more! It’s history!” exclaimed St. Clair. “I think
you’re right, Harry. Two to one that we go to Richmond. And for one I’ll
be glad. Then we’ll be right in the middle of the biggest doings!”

“I’m feeling that way, too,” said Happy Tom. “But I know one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Not a soul in all this army, except Old Jack himself, will know a thing
about it, until it’s done, and maybe we won’t know very much then. I
passed Old Jack about an hour ago and he saw me as clearly and plainly
as I see you, but he did not tell me a thing about his plans. He did not
even say a word. Did not speak. Just cut me dead.”

Not one of the four was destined for some days to learn what Jackson
intended. His highest officers even were kept in the same ignorance.
While the bulk of the army did little, the cavalry under Munford, who
had succeeded Ashby, were exceedingly active. The horsemen were like a
swarm of hornets in front of Jackson, and so great was their activity
that the Northern leaders were unable to gauge their numbers. Fremont,
exposed to these raids, retreated farther down the valley, leaving two
hundred of his wounded and many stores in the hands of Munford.

Then Jackson crossed South River and marched into extensive woods by
the Shenandoah, where his army lay for five full days. It was almost
incredible to Harry and his friends that they should have so long a
rest, but they had it. They luxuriated there among the trees in the
beautiful June weather, listening to the music of the Acadians, eating
and drinking and sleeping as men have seldom slept before.

But while the infantry was resting the activity of the cavalry never
ceased. These men, riding over the country in which most of them were
born, missed no movement of the enemy, and maintained the illusion that
their numbers were four or five times the fact. Harry, trying to fathom
Jackson’s purpose, gave it up after that comparatively long stay beside
the Shenandoah. He did not know that it was a part of a complicated
plan, that Lee and Jackson, although yet apart, were now beginning their
celebrated work together. Near Richmond, Northern prisoners saw long
lines of trains moving north and apparently crowded with soldiers.
For Jackson, of course! And intended to help him in his great march on
Washington! But Jackson hung a complete veil about his own movements.
His highest officers told one another in confidence things that they
believed to be true, but which were not. It was the general opinion
among them that Jackson would soon leave in pursuit of Fremont.

The pleasant camp by the Shenandoah was broken up suddenly, and the men
began to march--they knew not where. Officers rode among them with stern
orders, carried out sternly. In front, and on either flank, rode lines
of cavalry who allowed not a soul to pass either in or out. An equally
strong line of cavalry in the rear drove in front of it every straggler
or camp follower. There was not a single person inside the whole army of
Jackson who could get outside it except Jackson himself.

An extraordinary ban of ignorance was also placed upon them, and it was
enforced to the letter. No soldier should give the name of a village or
a farm through which he passed, although the farm might be his father’s,
or the village might be the one in which he was born. If a man were
asked a question, no matter what, he must answer, “I don’t know.”

The young Southern soldiers, indignant at first, enjoyed it as their
natural humor rose to the surface.

“Young fellow,” said Happy Tom to St. Clair, “what’s your name?”

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t know your own name. Why, you must be feeble minded! Are you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, you may not know, but you look it. Do you think Old Jack is a
good general?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you think he’s feeble-minded like yourself?”

“I don’t know.”

“What! You dare to intimate that Stonewall Jackson, the greatest general
the world has ever known, is feeble-minded! You have insulted him, and
in his name I challenge you to fight me, sir. Do you accept?”

“I don’t know.”

The two looked at each other and grinned. The ignorance of the army grew
dense beyond all computation. Long afterward, “I don’t know,” became a
favorite and convenient reply, even when the knowledge was present.

It was nearly two weeks after Port Republic before the troops had any
idea where they were going. They came to a little place called Hanover
Junction and they thought they were going to turn there and meet
McDowell, but they passed on, and one evening they encamped in a wood.
As they were eating supper they heard the muttering thunder of guns
toward the south, and throughout the brigades the conviction spread that
they were on the way to Richmond.

The next night, Harry, who was asleep, was touched by a light hand. He
awoke instantly, and when he saw General Jackson standing over him, he
sprang up.

“I am going on a long ride,” said the general briefly, “and I want only
one man to go with me. I’ve chosen you. Get your horse. We start in five
minutes.”

Harry, a little dazed yet from sleep and the great honor that had been
thrust upon him, ran, nevertheless, for his horse, and was ready with a
minute to spare.

“Keep by my side,” said Jackson curtly, and the two rode in silence from
the camp, watched in wonder by the sentinels, who saw their general and
his lone attendant disappear in the forest to the south.

It was then one o’clock in the morning of a moonlight night, and the
errand of Jackson was an absolute secret. Three or four miles from the
camp a sentinel slipped from the woods and stopped them. He was one
of their own pickets, on a far out-lying post, but to the amazement of
Harry, Jackson did not tell who he was.

“I’m an officer on Stonewall Jackson’s staff, carrying dispatches,” he
said. “You must let me pass.”

“It’s not enough. Show me an order from him.”

“I have no order,” replied the equable voice, “but my dispatches are of
the greatest importance. Kindly let me pass immediately.”

The sentinel shook his head.

“Draw back your horses,” he said. “Without an order from the general you
don’t go a step further.”

Harry had not spoken a word. He had ceased to wonder why Jackson
refused to reveal his identity. If he did not do so it must be for some
excellent reason, and, meanwhile, the boy waited placidly.

“So you won’t let us pass,” said Jackson. “Is the commander of the
picket near by?”

“I can whistle so he’ll hear me.”

“Then will you kindly whistle?”

The sentinel looked again at the quiet man on the horse, put his fingers
to his lips and blew loudly. An officer emerged from the woods and said:

“What is it, Felton?”

Then he glanced at the man on the horse and started violently.

“General Jackson!” he exclaimed.

The sentinel turned pale, but said nothing.

“Yes, I’m General Jackson,” said the general, “and I ride with this
lieutenant of my staff on an errand. But both of you must swear to me
that you have not seen me.”

Then he turned to the sentinel.

“You did right to stop us,” he said. “I wish that all our sentinels were
as faithful as you.”

Then while the man glowed with gratitude, he and Harry rode on. Jackson
was in deep thought and did not speak. Harry, a little awed by this
strange ride, looked up at the trees and the dusky heavens. He heard
the far hoot of an owl, and he shivered a little. What if a troop of
Northern cavalry should suddenly burst upon them. But no troop of the
Northern horse, nor horse of any kind, appeared. Instead, Jackson’s own
horse began to pant and stumble. Soon he gave out entirely.

It was not yet day, but dimly to the right they saw the roof of a house
among some trees. It was a poor Virginia farm that did not have horses
on it, and Jackson suggested to Harry that they wake up the people and
secure two fresh mounts.

The commander of an army and his young aide walked a little distance
down a road, entered a lawn, drove off two barking dogs, and knocked
loud on the front door of the house with the butts of their riding
whips. A head was at last thrust out of an upper window, and a sleepy
and indignant voice demanded what they wanted.

“We’re two officers from General Jackson’s army riding on important
duty,” replied the general, in his usual mild tones. “Our horses have
broken down and we want to obtain new ones.”

“What’s your names? What’s your rank?” demanded the gruff voice.

“We cannot give our names.”

“Then clear out! You’re frauds! If I find you hanging about here I’ll
shoot at you, and I tell you for your good that I’m no bad shot.”

The shutter of the window closed with a bang, but the two dogs that had
been driven off began to bark again at a safe distance. Harry glanced at
his general.

“Isn’t that a stable among the trees?” asked Jackson.

“Yes, sir.”

“Then we’ll find our horses there. Get the other two and bring them
here.”

Harry obeyed promptly, and they opened the stable, finding good horses,
of which they selected the two best to which they changed their saddles
and bridles.

“We’ll leave our own horses for our inhospitable friends,” said General
Jackson, “and he’ll not suffer by the exchange.”

Mounting the fresh horses they rode rapidly, and, after the coming of
the dawn, Harry saw that they were approaching Richmond, and he guessed
now what was coming.

General Jackson had in his pocket a pass sent to him by General Lee,
and they swiftly went through the lines of pickets, and then on through
Richmond. People were astir in the streets of the Southern capital, and
many of them saw the bearded man in an old uniform and a black slouch
hat riding by, accompanied by only a boy, but not one of them knew that
this was Stonewall Jackson, whose fame had been filling their ears for a
month past. Nor, if they had known him would they have divined how much
ill his passage boded to the great army of McClellan.

They went through Richmond and on toward the front. Midday passed, and
at three o’clock they reached the house in which Lee had established his
headquarters.

“Who is it?” asked a sentinel at the door.

“Tell General Lee that General Jackson is waiting.”

The sentinel hurried inside, General Jackson and his aide dismounted,
and a moment later General Lee came out, extending his hand, which
Jackson clasped. The two stood a moment looking at each other. It was
the first time that they had met in the war, but Harry saw by the glance
that passed that each knew the other a man, not an ordinary man, nor
even a man of ten thousand, but a genius of the kind that appears but
seldom. It was all the more extraordinary that the two should appear at
the same time, serving together in perfect harmony, and sustaining for
so long by their united power and intellect a cause that seemed lost
from the first.

It was not any wonder that Harry gazed with all his eyes at the
memorable meeting. He knew Jackson, and he was already learning much of
Lee.

He saw in the Confederate commander-in-chief a man past fifty, ruddy of
countenance, hair and beard short, gray and thick, his figure tall
and powerful, and his expression at once penetrating and kind. He was
dressed in a fine gray uniform, precise and neat.

Such was Robert Edward Lee, and Harry thought him the most impressive
human being upon whom he had ever looked.

“General Jackson,” said General Lee, “this is a fortunate meeting. You
have saved the Confederacy.”

General Jackson made a gesture of dissent, but General Lee took him by
the arm and they went into the house. General Jackson turned a moment
at the door and motioned to Harry to follow. The boy went in, and found
himself in a large room. Three men had risen from cane chairs to meet
the visitor. One, broad of shoulders, middle-aged and sturdy, was
Longstreet. The others more slender of figure were the two Hills.

The major generals came forward eagerly to meet Jackson, and they also
had friendly greetings for his young aide. Lee handed them glasses of
milk which they drank thirstily.

“You’ll find an aide of mine in the next room,” said General Lee to
Harry. “He’s a little older than you are but you should get along
together.”

Harry bowed and withdrew, and the aide, Charlie Gordon, gave him a
hearty welcome. He was three or four years Harry’s senior, something
of a scholar, but frank and open. When they had exchanged names, Gordon
said:

“Stretch out a bit on this old sofa. You look tired. You’ve been riding
a long distance. How many miles have you come?”

“I don’t know,” replied Harry, as he lay luxuriously on the sofa, “but
we started at one o’clock this morning and it is now three o’clock in
the afternoon.”

“Fourteen hours. It’s like what we’ve been hearing of Stonewall Jackson.
I took a peep at him from the window as you rode up.”

“I suppose you didn’t see much but dust.”

“They certainly tell extraordinary things of General Jackson. It can’t
be possible that all are true!”

“It is possible. They’re all true--and more. I tell you, Gordon, when
you hear anything wonderful about Stonewall Jackson just you believe it.
Don’t ask any questions, or reasons but believe it.”

“I think I shall,” said Gordon, convinced, “but don’t forget, Kenton,
that we’ve got a mighty man here, too. You can’t be with General Lee
long without feeling that you’re in the presence of genius.”

“And they’re friends, not jealous of each other. You could see that at a
glance.”

“The coming of Jackson is like dawn bursting from the dark. I feel,
Kenton, that McClellan’s time is at hand.”

Harry slept a little after a while, but when he awoke the generals were
still in council in the great room.

“I let you sleep because I saw you needed it,” said Gordon with a smile,
“but I think they’re about through in there now. I hear them moving
about.”

General Jackson presently called Harry and they rode away. The young
aide was sent back to the valley army with a message for it to advance
as fast as possible in order that it might be hurled on McClellan’s
flank. Others carried the same message, lest there be any default of
chance.

While the army of Jackson swept down by Richmond to join Lee it was lost
again to the North. At Washington they still believed it in the valley,
advancing on Fremont or Shields. Banks and McDowell had the same belief.
McClellan was also at a loss. Two or three scouts had brought in reports
that it was marching toward Richmond, but he could not believe them.

The Secretary of War at Washington telegraphed to McClellan that the
Union armies under McDowell, Banks, Fremont and Shields were to be
consolidated in one great army under McDowell which would crush Jackson
utterly in the valley. At the very moment McClellan was reading this
telegram the army of Jackson, far to the south of McDowell, was driving
in the pickets on his own flank.

Jackson’s men had come into a region quite different from the valley.
There they marched and fought over firm ground, and crossed rivers
with hard rocky banks. Now they were in a land of many deep rivers that
flowed in a slow yellow flood with vast swamps between. Most of it was
heavy with forest and bushes, and the heat was great. At night vast
quantities of mosquitoes and flies and other insects fed bounteously
upon them.

The Invincibles lifted up their voices and wept.

“Can’t you persuade Old Jack to take us back to the valley, Harry?” said
Happy Tom. “If I’m to die I’d rather be shot by an honest Yankee soldier
than be stung to death by these clouds of bloodsuckers. Oh, for our
happy valley, where we shot at our enemy and he shot at us, both
standing on firm ground!”

“You won’t be thinking much about mosquitoes and rivers soon,” said
Harry. “Listen to that, will you! You know the sound, don’t you?”

“Know it! Well, I ought to know it. It’s the booming of cannon, but it
doesn’t frighten these mosquitoes and flies a particle. A cannon ball
whistling by my head would scare me half to death, but it wouldn’t
disturb them a bit. They’d look with an evil eye at that cannon ball as
it flew by and say to it in threatening tones: ‘What are you doing here?
Let this fellow alone. He belongs to us.’”

“Which way is McClellan coming, Harry?” asked St. Clair.

“Off there to the east, where you hear the guns.”

“How many men has he?”

“Anywhere from a hundred thousand to a hundred and thirty thousand.
There are various reports.”

Langdon, who had been listening, whistled.

“It doesn’t look like a picnic for the Invincibles,” he said. “When I
volunteered for this war I didn’t volunteer to fight a pitched battle
every day. What did you volunteer for, Harry?”

“I don’t know.”

The three laughed. Jackson’s famous order certainly fitted well there.

“And you don’t know, either,” said Happy Tom, “what all that thunder
off there to the south and east means. It’s the big guns, but who are
fighting and where?”

“There’s to be a general attack on McClellan along the line of the
Chickahominy river,” said Harry, “and our army is to be a part of the
attacking force, but my knowledge goes no further.”

“Then I’m reckoning that some part of our army has attacked already,”
 said Happy Tom. “Maybe they’re ahead of time, or maybe the rest are
behind time. But there they go! My eyes, how they’re whooping it up!”

The cannonade was growing in intensity and volume. Despite the sunset
they saw an almost continuous flare of red on the horizon. The three
boys felt some awe as they sat there and listened and looked. Well they
might! Battle on a far greater scale than anything witnessed before in
America had begun already. Two hundred thousand men were about to meet
in desperate conflict in the thickets and swamps along the Chickahominy.

Richmond had already heard the crash of McClellan’s guns more than once,
but apprehension was passing away. Lee, whom they had learned so quickly
to trust, stood with ninety thousand men between them and McClellan, and
with him was the redoubtable Jackson and his veterans of the valley with
their caps full of victories.

McClellan had the larger force, but Lee was on the defensive in his own
country, a region which offered great difficulties to the invader.

Harry and his comrades wondered why Jackson did not move, but he
remained in his place, and when Harry fell asleep he still heard the
thudding of the guns across the vast reach of rivers and creeks, swamps
and thickets. When he awoke in the morning they were already at work
again, flaring at intervals down there on the eastern horizon. The whole
wet, swampy country, so different from his own, seemed to be deserted
by everything save the armies. No rabbits sprang up in the thickets and
there were no birds. Everything had fled already in the presence of war.

But the army marched. After a brief breakfast the brigades moved down
the road, and Harry saw clearly that these veterans of the valley were
tremulous with excitement. Youthful, eager, and used to victory, they
were anxious to be at the very center of affairs which were now on a
gigantic scale. And the throbbing of the distant guns steadily drew them
on.

“We’ll get all we want before this is through,” said Dalton gravely to
Harry.

“I think so, too. Listen to those big guns, George! And I think I can
hear the crack of rifles, too. Our pickets and those of the enemy must
be in contact in the forest there on our left.”

“I haven’t a doubt of it, but if we rode that way like as not we’d
strike first a swamp, or a creek twenty feet deep. I get all tangled up
in this kind of a country.”

“So do I, but it doesn’t make any difference. We just stick along with
Old Jack.”

The army marched on a long time, always to the accompaniment of that
sinister mutter in the southeast. Then they heard the note of a bugle
in front of them and Jackson with his staff rode forward near a little
church called Walnut Grove, where Lee and his staff sat on their horses
waiting. Harry noticed with pride how all the members of Lee’s staff
crowded forward to see the renowned Jackson.

It was his general upon whom so many were looking, but there was
curiosity among Stonewall’s men, too, about Lee. As Harry drew back a
little while the two generals talked, he found himself again with the
officers of the Invincibles.

“He has grown gray since we were with him in Mexico, Hector,” he heard
Colonel Leonidas Talbot say to Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire.

“Yes, Leonidas, grayer but stronger. What a brow and eye!”

St. Clair and Langdon, who had never seen Lee before, were eager.

“Is he the right man for Old Jack to follow, Harry?” asked Happy Tom.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt of it, Happy. I saw how they agreed the
first time they met, and you can see it now. You’ll find them working
together as smooth as silk. Ah, here we go again!”

“Then if it’s as you say I suppose it’s all up with McClellan, and I
needn’t trouble my mind about the matter any more. Hereafter I’ll just
go ahead and obey orders.”

The words were light, but there was no frivolity in the minds of the
three. Despite the many battles through which they had already gone
their hearts were beating hard just then, while that roaring was going
on on the horizon, and they knew that a great battle was at hand.

Lee and his staff rode toward the battle, and then, to the amazement of
his men, Jackson led his army into the deep woods away from the sound of
the thundering guns which had been calling to them so incessantly. Harry
was mystified and the general vouchsafed no word, even to his own staff.
They marched on through woods, across fields, along the edges of swamps,
and that crash of battle grew fainter behind them, but never died out.

“What do you think it means?” Harry whispered to Dalton.

“Don’t know. I’m not thinking. I’m not here to think at such times. All
the thinking we need is going on under the old slouch hat there. Harry,
didn’t we go with him all through the valley? Can’t we still trust him?”

“I can and will.”

“Same here.”

The army curved about again. Harry, wholly unfamiliar with the country,
did not notice it until the roar of the battle began to rise again,
showing that they were coming nearer. Then he divined the plan. Jackson
was making this circuit through the woods to fall on the Northern flank.
It was the first of the great turning movements which Lee and Jackson
were to carry through to brilliant success so often.

“Look at the red blaze beyond those bushes,” said Dalton, “and listen
how rapidly the sound of the battle is growing in volume. I don’t know
where we are, but I do know now that Old Jack is leading us right into
the thick of it.”

The general rode forward and stopped his horse on the crest of a low
hill. Then Harry and Dalton, looking over the bushes and swamps, saw a
great blue army stationed behind a creek and some low works.

“It’s McClellan!” exclaimed Dalton.

“Or a part of him,” said Harry.

It was a wing of the Northern army. McClellan himself was not there, but
many brave generals were, Porter, Slocum and the others. The batteries
of this army were engaged in a heavy duel with the Southern batteries
in front, and the sharpshooters in the woods and bushes kept up a
continuous combat that crackled like the flames of a forest fire.

Harry drew a long breath.

“This is the biggest yet,” he said.

Dalton nodded.

The soldiers of Jackson were already marching off through the woods,
floundering through deep mud, crossing little streams swollen by heavy
rains, but eager to get into action.

It was very difficult for the mounted men, and Harry and Dalton at last
dismounted and led their horses. The division made slow progress and
as they struggled on the battle deepened. Now and then as they toiled
through the muck they saw long masses of blue infantry on a ridge, and
with them the batteries of great guns which the gunners of the North
knew so well how to use.

Their own proximity was discovered after a while, and shell and bullets
began to fly among them, but they emerged at last on firm ground and on
the Northern flank.

“It’s hot and growing hotter,” said Dalton.

“And we’ll help increase the heat if we ever get through these
morasses,” said Harry.

He felt the bridle suddenly pulled out of his hand, and turned to catch
his runaway horse, but the horse had been shot dead and his body had
fallen into the swamp. Dalton’s horse also was killed presently by a
piece of shell, but the two plunged along on foot, endeavoring to keep
up with the general.

The fire upon them was increasing fast. Some of the great guns on the
ridge were now searching their ranks with shell and shrapnel and many a
man sank down in the morass, to be lost there forever. But Jackson never
ceased to urge them on. They were bringing their batteries that way,
too, and men and horses alike tugged at the cannon.

“If we ever get through,” said Harry, “we’re bound to do big things.”

“We’ll get through, never fear,” said Dalton. “Isn’t Old Jack driving
us?”

“Here we are!” Harry shouted suddenly as his feet felt firm ground.

“And here’s the whole division, too!” exclaimed Dalton.

The regiments and brigades of Jackson emerged from the forest, and with
them came six batteries of cannon which they had almost carried over the
swamp. The whole battlefield now came into sight, but the firing and the
smoke were so great that it seemed to change continuously in color
and even in shape. At one moment there was a ridge where none had been
before, then where Harry had seen a creek there was only dry land. But
he knew that they were illusions of the eyes, due to the excited brain
behind them.

Harry saw the six batteries of Jackson planted in a long row on the
hard ground, and then open with a terrific crash on the defenders of
the ridge. The sound was so tremendous that he was deafened for a few
moments. By the time his hearing was restored fully the batteries fired
again and the Northern batteries on the hill replied. Then the mass of
infantry charged and Harry and Dalton on foot, waving their swords and
wild with excitement, charged with them.

The plans of Lee and Jackson, working together for the first time in a
great battle, went through. When Lee heard the roar of Jackson’s guns on
the flank he, too, sent word to his division commanders to charge with
their full strength. In an instant the Northern army was assailed both
in front and on the side, by a great force, rushing forward, sure of
victory and sending the triumphant rebel yell echoing through the woods
of the Chickahominy.

Harry felt the earth tremble beneath him as nearly a hundred thousand
men closed in deadly conflict. He could hear nothing but the continued
roar, and he saw only a vast, blurred mass of men and guns. But he was
conscious that they were going forward, up the hill, straight toward the
enemy’s works, and he felt sure of victory.

He had grounds for his faith. Lee with the smaller army, had
nevertheless brought superior numbers upon the field at the point of
action. Porter and Slocum were staunch defenders. The Northern army,
though shattered by cannon and rifle fire, stood fast on the ridge until
the charging lines were within ten feet of them. Then they gave way,
but carried with them most of their cannon, reformed further back, and
fought again.

Harry found himself shouting triumphantly over one of the captured
guns, but the Southern troops were allowed no time to exult. The sun was
already sinking over the swamps and the battlefield, but Lee and Jackson
lifted up their legions and hurled them anew to the attack. McClellan
was not there when he was needed most, but Porter did all that a man
could do. Only two of his eighty guns had been taken, and he might yet
have made a stand, but the last of Jackson’s force suddenly emerged from
the forest and again he was struck with terrible impact on the flank.

The Northern army gave way again. The Southern brigades rushed forward
in pursuit, capturing many prisoners, and giving impulse to the flight
of their enemies. Their riflemen shot down the horses drawing the
retreating cannon. Many of the guns were lost, twenty-two of them
falling into Southern hands. Some of the newer regiments melted entirely
away under an attack of such fierceness. Nothing stopped the advance of
Lee and Jackson but the night, and the arrival of a heavy reinforcement
sent by McClellan. The new force, six thousand strong, was stationed in
a wood, the guns that had escaped were turned upon the enemy, Porter and
Slocum rallied their yet numerous force, and when the dark came down the
battle ceased with the Northern army in the east defeated again, but not
destroyed.

As Harry rode over the scene of battle that night he shuddered. The
fields, the forests and the swamps were filled with the dead and the
wounded. Save Shiloh, no other such sanguinary battle had yet been
fought on American soil. Nearly ten thousand of the Southern youths had
fallen, killed or wounded. The North, standing on the defensive, had not
lost so many, but the ghastly roll ran into many thousands.

That night, as had happened often in the valley, the hostile sentinels
were within hearing of each other, but they fired no shots. Meanwhile,
Lee and Jackson, after the victory, which was called Gaines’ Mill,
planned to strike anew.

Harry awoke in the morning to find that most of the Northern army was
gone. The brigades had crossed the river in the night, breaking down the
bridges behind them. He saw the officers watching great columns of
dust moving away, and he knew that they marked the line of the Northern
march. But the Southern scouts and skirmishers found many stragglers in
the woods, most of them asleep or overpowered by weariness. Thus they
found the brilliant General Reynolds, destined to a glorious death
afterward at Gettysburg, sound asleep in the bushes, having been lost
from his command in the darkness and confusion. The Southern army rested
through the morning, but in the afternoon was on the march again. Harry
found that both St. Clair and Langdon had escaped without harm this
time, but Happy Tom had lost some of his happiness.

“This man Lee is worse than Jackson,” he lamented. “We’ve just fought
the biggest battle that ever was, and now we’re marching hot-foot after
another.”

Happy Tom was right. Lee and Jackson had resolved to give McClellan no
rest. They were following him closely and Stuart with the cavalry hung
in a cloud on his flanks. They pressed him hard the next day at White
Oak Swamp, Jackson again making the circular movement and falling on his
flank, while Longstreet attacked in front. There was a terrible battle
in thick forest and among deep ravines, but the darkness again saved the
Northern army, which escaped, leaving cannon and men in the hands of the
enemy.

Harry lay that night in a daze rather than sleep. He was feverish and
exhausted, yet he gathered some strength from the stupor in which he
lay. All that day they marched along the edge of a vast swamp, and they
heard continually the roar of a great battle on the horizon, which they
were not able to reach. It was Glendale, where Longstreet and one of
the Hills fought a sanguinary draw with McClellan. But the Northern
commander, knowing that a drawn battle in the enemy’s country was
equivalent to a defeat, continued his retreat and the Southern army
followed, attacking at every step. The roar of artillery resounded
continuously through the woods and the vanguard of one army and the rear
guard of the other never ceased their rifle fire.

Neither Harry nor his young comrades could ever get a clear picture
of the vast, confused battle amid the marshes of the Chickahominy,
extending over so long a period and known as the Seven Days, but it was
obvious to them now that Richmond was no longer in danger. The coming
of Jackson had enabled Lee to attack McClellan with such vigor and
fierceness that the young Northern general was forced not only to
retreat, but to fight against destruction.

But the Union mastery of the water, always supreme, was to come once
more to the relief of the Northern army. As McClellan made his retreat,
sometimes losing and sometimes beating off the enemy, but always leaving
Richmond further and further behind, he had in mind his fleet in the
James, and then, if pushed to the last extremity, the sea by which they
had come.

But there were many staunch fighters yet in his ranks, and the Southern
leaders were soon to find that they could not trifle with the Northern
army even in defeat. He turned at Malvern Hill, a position of great
strength, posted well his numerous and powerful artillery, and beat off
all the efforts of Lee and Jackson and Longstreet and the two Hills, and
Armistead and the others. More than five thousand of the Southern troops
fell in the fruitless charges. Then McClellan retreated to the James
River and his gunboats and the forces of the North were not to come as
near Richmond again for nearly three years.

The armies of Lee and Jackson marched back toward the Southern capital,
for the possession of which forty thousand men had fallen in the Seven
Days. Harry rode with Dalton, St. Clair and Langdon. They had come
through the inferno unhurt, and while they shared in the rejoicings
of the Virginia people, they had seen war, continued war, in its most
terrible aspects, and they felt graver and older.

By the side of them marched the thin ranks of the Invincibles, with the
two colonels, erect and warlike, leading them. Just ahead was Stonewall
Jackson, stooped slightly in the saddle, the thoughtful blue eyes
looking over the heads of his soldiers into the future.

“If he hadn’t made that tremendous campaign in the valley,” said Dalton,
“McClellan allied with McDowell would have come here with two hundred
thousand men and it would have been all over.”

“But he made it and he saved us,” said Harry, glancing at his hero.

“And I’m thinking,” said Happy Tom Langdon, glancing toward the North,
“that he’ll have to make more like it. The Yankees will come again,
stronger than ever.”



Appendix: Transcription notes:

This etext was transcribed from a volume of the 21st printing


The following modifications were applied while transcribing the printed
book to e-text:

 While the other books in this series are consistently printed with
 a hyphen in “lieutenant-colonel”, some chapters in this book were
 printed with and some without.  I added the hyphen where missing in
 chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 14.

 chapter 1
  - Page 20, para 10, changed “its” to “it’s”

 chapter 2
  - Page 45, para 6, removed extraneous quotation mark

 chapter 6
  - Page 132, para 3, moved a comma - my general policy is not to
    add/remove/move commas, even though I often find commas which
    seem to me out of place, but this one was just too bad to ignore

 chapter 8
  - Page 159, para 2, fixed typo (“enmy”)
  - Page 167, para 5, missing quotation mark

 chapter 10
  - Page 211, para 4, missing quotation mark
  - Page 216, para 6, changed “his section” to “this section”

 chapter 11
  - Page 225, para 4, fixed typo (“Generel”)

 chapter 12
  - Page 249, para 4, fixed typo (“exerienced”)
  - Page 261, para 4, fixed typo (“woud”)
  - Page 262, para 1, removed excess quotation mark

 chapter 13
  - Page 277, para 3, missing quotation mark
  - Page 292, para 3, apostrophe printed instead of quotation mark

 chapter 14
  - Page 298, para 4, changed “Its” to “It’s”
   - Page 312, para 6, missing quotation mark
  - Page 314, para 4, changed “.” to “:”
   - Page 315, para 5, removed excess period

 chapter 15
  - Page 329, para 5, fixed typo (“painly”)
  - Page 331, para 1, fixed typo (“caried”)
  - Page 331, para 11, changed apostrophe to quotation mark

 Limitations imposed by converting to plain ASCII: 8-bit characters
 were converted to their 7-bit equivalents:
   - chapter 9, page 186, “melee”
    - chapter 11, page 241, “Themopylae” (“ae” ligature)


I did not modify:

 - As with all the books in this series, commas often seem to me to be
   missing or misplaced.  Often one comma is printed where either no
   comma or two commas would seem more appropriate, for example:

     A pleasant month for Harry, and all the young staff officers passed
     at Winchester.





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